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a message to thee from God; but it is a mortal message, against the very life and hopes of thy soul, that, as true as the word of God is true, thou shalt never see the face of God with comfort.' This sentence I am commanded to pass upon thee, from the word : take it as thou wilt, and escape it if thou canst. I know thy humble and hearty subjection to Christ would procure thy escape; and if thy heart and life were thoroughly changed, thy relation to Christ and eternity, would be changed also; he would then acknowledge thee for one of his people, and justify thee from all things that could be charged upon thee, and give thee a portion in the inheritance of his chosen ; and if this might be the happy success of my message, I should be so far from repining like Jonas, that the threatenings of God are not executed upon thee, that, on the contrary, I should bless the day that ever God made me so happy a messenger, and return him hearty thanks upon my knees, that ever he blessed his word in my mouth with such desired success. . But if thou end thy days in thy present condition, whether thou be fully resolved never to change, or whether thou spend thy days in fruitless proposing to be better hereafter, all is one for that; I say, if thou live and die in thy unregenerate estate, as sure as the heavens are over thy head, and the earth under thy feet; as sure as thou livest, and breathest in this air, so sure shalt thou be shut out of this rest of the saints, and receive thy portion in everlasting fire. I do here expect that thou shouldst, in the pride and scorn of thy heart, turn back upon me, and show thy teeth, and say, "Who made you the doorkeeper of heaven? When were you there? and, when did God show you the book of life, or tell you who they are that shall be saved, and who shut out ?'
I will not answer thee according to thy folly, but truly and plainly as I can discover this thy folly to thyself, that if there be yet any hope, thou mayest recover thy understanding, and yet return to God and live. First, I do not name thee, nor any
(Matt. xxiii., xxv., &c.) Even Dr. Sibhs could say, “ Fear is the awe-band of the soul.” And Clemens Alexand. Stromat. lib. ii., saith, “ Fear and sufferance are the helpers of faith ;" they that accuse fear, do reproach the law : and if the law, then it is plain, him also that made the law. And he answers them that say, “ Fear is a perturbation, and a declining from reason.” And the same Clemens Pædagog. lib. i. c. 9, saith, “As we have all need of a Saviour, so he useth not only gentle and mild remedies, but also sharp doubts; fear doth stop the eating corrosions of the roots of sin.” Fear, therefore, is wholesome, though it be bitter.
other : I do not conclude of the persons individually, and say, “This man shall be shut out of heaven, and that man shall be taken in.' I only conclude it of the unregenerate in general, and of thee conditionally, if thou be such a one. Secondly, I do not go about to determine who shall repent, and who shall not; much less that thou shalt never repent, and come in to Christ. These things are unknown to me; I had far rather show thee what hopes thou hast before thee, if thou wilt not sit still and lose them, and by thy wilful carelessness cast away thy hopes ; and I would far rather persuade thee to hearken in time, while there is hope and opportunity and offers of grace, and before the door is shut against thee, that so thy soul may return and live, than to tell thee that there is no hope of thy repenting and returning. But if thou lie, hoping that thou shalt return, and never do it; if thou talk of repenting and believing, but still art the same; if thou live and die with the world, and thy credit or pleasure nearer thy heart than Jesus Christ; in a word, if the foregoing description of the people of God do not agree with the state of thy soul, it is then a hard question, whether thou shalt ever be saved. Even as hard a question as, whether God be true, or the Scripture be his word. Cannot I certainly tell, that thou shalt perish for ever, except I had seen the book of life? Why, the Bible is also the book of life, and it describeth plainly those that shall be saved, and those that shall be condemned. Though it do not name them, yet it tells you all those signs and conditions by which they inay be known. Do I need to ascend up into heaven, to know, "that without holiness none shall see God;” (Heb. xii. 14;) or, “that it is the pure in heart who shall see God;” (Matt. v. 8:) or, “that except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" (John iii. 3 :) or, “that he that believeth not (that is, stoops not to Christ as his King and Saviour) is condemned already, and that he shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him ;" (John iii. 18, 36;) “and that except you repent, (which includes reformation,) you shall all perish :” (Luke xiii. 3, 5 :) with an hundred more such plain scripture expressions, Cannot these be known without searching into God's counsels ? Why, thou ignorant, or wilful self-deluding sot! Hath thy Bible lain by thee in thy house so long, and didst thou never read such words as these; or hast thou read it, or heard it read so often, and yet dost thou not remember such passages as these? Nay, didst thou not find that the great drift of the Scripture is, to show men who they are that shall be saved, and who not; and let them see the condition of both estates? And yet dost thou ask me, 'How I know who shall be saved ?' What need I go up to heaven to inquire that of Christ, which he came down to earth to tell us; and sent his Spirit in his prophets and apostles to tell us; and hath left upon record to all the world? And though I do not know the secrets of thy heart, and therefore cannot tell thee by name whether it be thy state, or no; yet, if thou art but willing or diligent, thou mayest know thyself, whether thou art an heir of heaven, or not. And that is the main thing that I desire, that if thou be yet miserable, thou mayest discern it, and escape it. But canst thou possibly escape, if thou neglect Christ and salvation ? (Heb. ii. 3.) Is it not resolved on, “ that if thou love father, mother, wife, children, house, lands, or thine own life, better than Christ, thou canst not be his disciple?” (Matt. x. 31; Luke xiv. 20;) and consequently can never be saved by him. Is this the word of man, or of God? Is it not then an undoubted concluded case, that in the case thou art now in, thou hast not the least title to heaven ? Shall I tell thee from the word of God, it is as impossible for thee to be saved, except thou be born again, and be made a new creature, as it is for the devils themselves to be saved ? Nay, God hath more plainly and frequently spoken it in the Scripture, that such sinners as thou shall never be saved, than he hath done, that the devils shall never be saved. And doth not this tidings go cold to thy heart? Methinks, but that there is yet life and hope before thee, and thou hast yet time and · means to have thy soul recovered, else it should kill thy heart with terror; and the sight of thy doleful, discovered case, should even strike thee dead with amazement and horror. If old Eli fell from his seat and died, to hear that the ark of God was gone, which was but an outward sign of his presence; how then should thy heart be astonished with this tidings, that thou hast lost the Lord God himself, and all thy title to his eternal presence and delight! If Rachel wept for children, and would not be comforted, because they were not; how then shouldst thou now sit down, and weep for the happiness, and future life
of the soul, because to thee it is not! When king Belshazzar saw . but a piece of a hand sent from God, writing over against him
on the wall, it made his countenance change, his thoughts trouble him, his loins loosen in the joints, and knees smite one against another. (Dan. v. 6.) Why, what trembling then should
seize on thee, who hast the hand of God himself against thee; not in a sentence or two only, but in the very tenor and scope of the Scriptures ; not threatening thee with the loss of a kingdom only, as he did Belshazzar, but with the loss of thy part in the everlasting kingdom! But because I would fain have thee, if it be possible, to lay it close to thy heart, I will here stay a little longer, and show thee, First, The greatness of thy loss; and, Secondly, The aggravations of thy unhappiness in this loss; Thirdly, And the positive miseries that thou mayest also endure, with their aggravations.
Sect. III. First: The ungodly, in their loss of heaven, do lose all that glorious, personal perfection which the people of God do there enjoy. They lose that shining lustre of the body, surpassing the brightness of the sun at noon-day; though perhaps even the bodies of the wicked will be raised more spiritual, incorruptible bodies, than they were on earth : yet that will be so far from being a happiness to them, that it only makes them capable of the more exquisite torments; their understandings being now more capable of apprehending the greatness of their loss, and their senses more capable of feeling their sufferings. They would be glad, then, if every member were a dead member, that it might not feel the punishment inflicted on it; and if the whole body were a rotten carcass, or might again lie down in the dust and darkness. The devil himself hath an angelical and excellent nature, but that only honoureth his skilful Creator, but is no honour or comfort at all to himself; the glory, the beauty, the comfortable perfections, they are deprived of; much
Sicut melior est natura sentiens et cum dolet, qnam lapis, qui dolere nullo modo potest ; ita rationalis natura præstantior est, etiam miseria, quam illa quæ rationis et sensus est expers, et ideo in eam non cadit miseria. Quod cum ita sit, huic naturæ, quæ in tanta excellentia creata est, ut licet ipsa sit mutabilis, inhærendo tamen incommutabili bono, i. e. summo Deo, beatitudinem consequatur, nec expleat indigentiam suam nisi utique beata sit, eique explendæ non sufficiat nisi Deus; profecto non illi adhærere vitium est.- Aug de Civit. lib. xii.c. 1. Anima illic posita bene esse perdidit, at esse non perdidit. Ex qua re semper cogitur, ut et mortein sine morte, et defectum sine defectu, et finem sine fine patiatur; quatenus ei et mors immortalis sit, et defectus indeficiens, et finis infinitus.-Gregor. Dial. lib. iv. In inferno etsi erit stimu-·lus sanitudinis, nulla ibi erit correctio voluntatis ; à quibus ita culpabitur iniquitas, ut nullatenus ab eis possit diligi vel desiderari justitia.- August. de Fide ad Pet. Illa est peccati pona justissima, ut amittat quique quo bene uti noluit, cum sine ulla possit difficultate uti si vellet. Id est autem, ut qui sciens recte non fecit, amittat scire quod rectum sit; et qui rectum facere cum posset noluit, amittat posse cum velit.--Aug. lib. iji.; de Liber. Arbitr, c. 18.
more do they want that moral perfection which the blessed do partake of: those holy dispositions and qualifications of mind; that blessed conformity to the holiness of God; that cheerful readiness to his will ; that perfect rectitude of all their actions : instead of these, they have their old, ulcerous, deformed souls, that perverseness of will, that disorder in their faculties, that loathing of good, that love to, evil, that violence of passion, which they had on earth. It is true, their understandings will be much cleared, both by the ceasing of their temptation and deluding objects which they had on earth, as also by the sad experience which they will have in hell, of the falsehood of their former conceits and delusions; but this proceeds not from the sanctifying of their natures; and perhaps their experience and too-late understandings may restrain much of the evil motions of their wills, which they had formerly here on earth; but the evil disposition is never the more changed ; 'so also will the conversa. tion of the damned in hell be void of many of those sins which they commit here on earth. They will be drunk no more, and whore no more, and be gluttonous no more, nor oppress the innocent, nor grind the poor, nor devour the houses and estates of their brethren, nor be revenged on their enemies, nor persecute and destroy the members of Christ : all these, and many more actual sins, will then be laid aside. But this is not from any renewing of their natures; they have the same dispositions still, and fain they would commit the same sins, if they could : they want but opportunity; they are now tied up. It is part of their torment to be denied these their pleasures : no thanks to them, that they sin not as much as ever; their hearts are as bad, though their actions are restrained ; nay, it is a great question whether those remainders of good which were left in their natures on earth, as their common honesty and moral virtues, be not all taken from them in hell, according to that, “From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." (Matt. iii. 12; Luke viii. 18.) This is the judgment of divines generally; but because it is questionable, and much may be said against it, I will let that pass. But certainly they shall have none of the glorious perfections of the saints, either in soul or body: there will be a greater difference between these wretches and the glorified Christian, than there is betwixt a toad under a sill and the sun in the firmament. The rich man's purple robes and delicious fare did not so exalt him above Lazarus at his door