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oh, how few are there, that do really and cordially believe these things ! Men's own lives may be evident convictions to themselves, of their atheism and infidelity : for all that dissoluteness, which we see abroad in the world, proceeds much from hence, that men are not persuaded that these dreadful terrors of the Lord, which have now been set before us, are any thing but an honest artifice. They look upon them, as things only invented, to scare the world into good order, and to awe men into some compass of civility and honesty: they think all those tremendous threatenings, that God hath denounced in his Law, to be things intended rather to fright men, than to do execution upon them. And, whereas one of the most effectual motives to piety and a holy life, is, to be persuaded of the terrors of the Lord; these are not yet persuaded, that there are any such terrors. But, assure yourselves, these are not the extravagant dreams of melancholy fancies, nor the politic impostures of men that design to amuse the world with frightful stories; but they are sad and serious truths: such, as, however you may now slight and contemn them, yet shall you be woefully convinced of by your own experience; when, after a few years, or possibly a few days, you shall be sunk down into that place of torment, that gulph and abyss of misery, where the Great God shall for ever express the art and the power of his vengeance, in your eyerlasting destruction.
ii. This speaks ABUNDANCE OF COMFORT TO ALL THOSE, WHOSE SINS ARE PARDONED, AND WHO ARE DELIVERED FROM THE WRATH TO COME
Look what spring-tides of joy would rise in the heart of a poor condemned malefactor, who every moment expects the stroke of justice to cut him off, to have a pardon interpose and rescue him from death; such, yea far greater, should be thy joy, who art freed merely by a gracious pardon, from a condemnation infinitely greater and worse than death itself. When we look into hell, and consider the wrath that the damned there lie under, oh, to behold them there restlessly rolling to and fro in chains and flames; to hear them exclaim against their own folly and madness, and to curse themselves and their associates as the causes of their heavy and doleful torments; how should we rejoice, that, though we have been guilty of many great and heinous sins, and have ten thousand times deserved hell and everlasting burnings, yet our good and gracious God hath freely
pardoned us our debts, and freed us from the same merited punishments.
iii. This also should EXCITE US TO MAGNIFY THE LOVE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST TOWARDS US. • Who, though he knew what the dreadful wrath of God was, how.sore, and heavy it would lie upon his soul : yet, such was his infinite compassion towards us, that he willingly submitted himself to be in our stead ; took upon him our nature, that he might take upon himn our guilt; and first made himself wretched, that he might be made accursed. He drank off the whole bitter cup of his Father's wrath, at one bitter draught ; received the whole sting of death into his body, at once; fell and died under the revenges of divine justice, only that we might be delivered from the wrath that we had deserved, but could not bear. O Christian, let thy heart be enlarged with great love and thankfulness to thy Blessed Redeemer: and, as he thought nothing too much to suffer for thee, return him this expression of thy thankfulness, to think nothing too much nor too hard to do or suffer for him.
iv. YOU, THAT GO ON IN SIN, CONSIDER WHAT A GOD YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITHAL.
You have not to do with creatures, but with God himself. And do you not fear that uncreated fire, that will wrap you up in flames of his essential wrath, and burn you for ever? Consider that dreadful expostulation, that God makes, Ezek. xxii. 14. Can thy heurt endure, or can thy hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee, saith the Lord ? The very weakness of God is stronger than man. God can breathe, he can look a man to death : Job iv. 9. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed. They perish at the rebuke of thy countenance : Ps. lxxx. 16. Oh, then, tremble to: think what a load of wrath his heavy hand can lay upon thee: that hand, which spans the heavens; and, in the hollow of which, he holds the sea : Isa. xl. 12. What punishment will this great hand of God, in which his great strength lies, inflict, when it shall fall upon thee in the full power of its might! And tell me now, O Sinner, wouldst thou willingly fall into the hands of this God, who is thus able to crush thee to pieces, yea to nothing? Oh, how shall any of us then dare, who are but
poor weak potsherds of the earth, to dash ourselves against this Rock of Ages ? Indeed, we can neither resist his power, nor escape his hand : and, therefore, since we must necessarily sooner or later fall into the hands of God, let us, by true repentance and an humble acknowledgment of our sins and vileness, throw ourselves into his merciful hands; and, then, to our unspeakable comfort, we shall find that he will extend his arm of mercy to support us, and not his hand of justice to crush and break us.