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they do, who strengthen the hopes of ungodly men! They work as hard as they can against God, while they stand there to speak in the name of God, who layeth his battery against these false hopes, as knowing that they must now down, or the sinner must perish: and these teachers build up what God is pulling down. I know not what they can do worse to destroy men's souls: they are false teachers in regard of application, though they are true in regard of doctrine : this is partly through their flattering, men-pleasing temper; partly because they are guilty themselves, and so should destroy their own hopes, as well as others; and partly because being graceless, they want that experience which should help them to discern betwixt hope and hope. The same may be said of carnal friends : if they see a poor sinner but doubting whether all be well with him, and but troubled for fear lest he be out of the way; what pains do they take to keep up his old hopes ? “What, say they, “if you should not be saved, God help a great many: you have lived honestly, &c. : never doubt, man, God is merciful !! Alas, silly creatures, you think you perform an office of friendship, and do him much good ! even as much as to give cold water to a man in a fever ; you may ease him at the present, but it afterwards inflames him, What thanks will he give you hereafter, if you settle him upon his former hopes again? Did you never read, “He that saith to the wicked, Thou art righteous, him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him?" (Prov. xxiv. 24.) If you were faithful friends indeed, you should rather say thus to him ; Friend, if you perceive the soundness of your hopes for heaven to be doubtful, oh! do not smother those doubts, but go and open them to your minister, or some able friend; and try them thoroughly in time, and hold no more of them now, than will hold good at judgment: it is better they break while they may be built more surely, than when the discovery will be your torment, but not your remedy. This were friendly and faithful counsel indeed. The proverb is, “If it were not for hope, the heart would break :” and Scripture tells us, that the heart must break that Christ will save. How can it be bound up till it be broken first? so that the hope which keeps their hearts from breaking, doth keep them also from healing and saving.
Well, if these unwise men (who are, as we say, penny wise, and pound foolish, who are wise to keep off the smart of a short, conditional, necessary, curable despair, but not wise to prevent an eternal, absolute, tormenting, incurable despair) do not change their condition speedily, those hopes will leave them which they would not leave; and then they that were fully resolved to hold fast their hopes, let all the preachers in the world say what they would, shall let them go whether they will or no. Then let them hope for heaven if they can.
So that, you see, it will aggravate the misery of the damned, that with the loss of heaven, they shall lose all that hope of it which now supporteth them.
Sect. IV. Thirdly: Another additional loss will be this, They will lose all the false peace of conscience which maketh their present life so easy. The loss of this must necessarily follow the loss of the former. When presumption and hope are gone, peace cannot tarry. Who would think, now, that sees how quietly the multitude of the ungodly live, that they must very shortly lie roaring in everlasting flames? They lie down, and rise, and sleep as quietly; they eat and drink as quietly; they go about their work as cheerfully; they talk as pleasantly as if nothing ailed them, or as if they were as far out of danger as an obedient believer ; like a man that hath the falling sickness, you would little think, while he is a labouring as strong, and talking as heartily as another man, how he will presently fall down, lie gasping and foaming, and beating his breast in torment: so it is with these men. They are as free from the fears of hell as others, as free from any vexing sorrows, not so unuch as troubled with any cares of the state of their souls, nor with any sad or serious thoughts of what shall become of them in another world; yea, and for the most part, they have less doubts and disquiet of mind, than those who shall be saved. Oh, happy men, if it would be always thus ; and if this peace would prove a lasting peace! But, alas ! there's the misery, it will not. They are now in their own element, as the fish in the water ; but little knows that silly creature when he is most fearlessly and delightfully swallowing down the bait, how suddenly he shall be snatched out, and lie dead upon the bank ! And as little think these careless sinners, what a change they are near. The sheep or the ox is driven quietly to the slaughter, because he knows not whither he goes; if he knew it were to his death, you could not drive him so easily. How contented is theswine, when the butcher's knife is shaving his throat, little thinking that it is to prepare for his death! Why, it is even so with these sensual careless men. They fear the mischief least, when they are nearest to it, because they fear it not, or see it not with their eyes.
“ As in the days of Noah (saith Christ) they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not till the flood came, and took them all away;” (Matt. xxiv. 37–39;) so will the coming of Christ be, and so will the coming of their particular judgment be. “For (saith the apostle) when they say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.” (1 Thess. v. 3.) Oh, cruel peace, which ends in such a war! Reader, if this be thy own case; if thou hast no other peace in thy conscience than this ungrounded, self.created peace, I could heartily wish, for thy own sake, that thou wouldest cast it off. As I would not have any humble, gracious souls to vex their own consciences needlessly, nor to disquiet and discompose their spirits by troubles of their own making, nor to unfit themselves for duty, nor to interrupt their comfortable communion with God, nor to weaken their bodies, or cast themselves into melancholy distempers to the scandal of religion; so would I not have a miserable wretch, who lives in a daily and hourly danger of dropping into hell, to be as merry and as quiet as if all were well with him : it is both unseemly and unsafe ; more unseemly than to see a man go laughing to the gallows; and more unsafe than to favour the gangrened member, which must be cut off, or to be making merry when the enemy is entering our habitations. Men's first peace is usually a false peace; it is a second peace, which is brought into the soul upon the casting out of the first, which will stand good, and yet not always that neither; for, where the change is by the halves, the second or third peace may be unsound, as well as the first ; as many a man that casteth away the peace of his profaneness, doth take up the peace of mere civility and morality; or if he yet discover the unsoundness of that, and is cast into trouble, then he healeth all with outward righteousness, or with a half Christianity, and there he taketh up with peace. This is but driving Satan out of one room into another ; but till he be cast out of possession, the peace is unsound. Hear what Christ saith :“ When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” (Luke xi. 21, 22.) The soul of every man, by nature, is Satan's garrison ; all is at peace in such a inan, till Christ comes; when Christ storms this heart, he breaks the
peace; he giveth it most terrible alarms of judgment and hell, he battereth it with the ordnance of his threatenings and terrors; he sets all in a combustion of fear and sorrow, till he have forced it to yield to his mere mercy, and take him for the governor, and Satan is cast out; and then doth he establish a firm and lasting peace. If, therefore, thou art yet but in that first peace, and thy heart was never yet either taken by storm, or delivered up freely to Jesus Christ, never think that thy peace will endure. Can the soul have peace which is at enmity with Christ, or stands out against him, or thinks his government too severe, and his conditions hard; can he have peace against whom God proclaimeth war. I may say to thee, as Jehu to Joram, when he asked, “Is it peace? What peace, while the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel remain ?" So thou art desirous to hear nothing from the mouth of a minister but peace; but what peace can there be, till thou hast cast away thy wickedness and thy first peace, and make thy peace with God through Christ: wilt thou believe God himself in this case ? why, read then what he saith twice over, “ There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” (Isa. xlviii. 22, and lvii. 22.) And hath he said it; and shall it not stand ? Sinner, though thou mayst now har den and fortify thy heart against fear, and grief, and trouble, yet as true as God is true, they will batter down thy proud and fortified spirit, and seize upon it, and drive thee to amazement : this will be done either here or hereafter. My counsel therefore to thee is, that thou presently examine the grounds of thy peace, and say, 'I am now at ease and quiet in my mind; but is it grounded, and will it be lasting ; is the danger of eternal judgment over; am I sure my sins are pardoned, and iny soul shall be saved ? if not, alas ! what cause of peace ? I may be in hell before the next day, for aught I know.' Certainly, a man that stands upon the pinnacle of a steeple, or that sleeps on the top of the main-mast, or that is in the heat of the most bloody fight, hath more cause of peace and carelessness than thou. Why, thou livest under the wrath of God continually, thou art already sentenced to eternal death, and mayst every hour expect the execution, till thou have sued out a pardon through Christ. I can show thee a hundred threatenings in Scripture which are yet in force against thee; but canst thou show me one promise for thy safety an hour? What assurance hast thou when thou goest forth of thy doors that thou shalt ver come in again? I should wonder, but that I know the des
perate hardness of the heart of man, how a man that is not sure of his peace with God, could eat, or drink, or sleep, or live in peace! That thou art not afraid when thou liest down, lest thou shouldst awake in hell ; 'or, when thou risest up, lest thou shouldst be in hell before night; or, when thou sittest in thy house, that thou still fearest not the approach of death, or some fearful judgment seizing upon thee, and that the threats and sentence are not always sounding in thy ears. Well, if thou wert the nearest friend that I have in the world, in this case that thou art in, I could wish thee no greater good, than that God would break in upon thy careless heart, and shake thee out of thy false peace, and cast thee into trouble, that when thou feelest thy heart at ease, thou wouldst remember thy misery; that when thou art pleasing thyself with thy estate, or business, or labours, thou wouldst still remember the approaching woe ; that thou wouldst cry out in the midst of thy pleasant discourse and merry company, Oh, how near is the great and dreadful change !' that whatever thou art doing, God would make thee read thy sentence, as if it were still written before thine eyes ; and which way soever thou goest, he would still meet thee full in the face with the sense of his wrath, as the angel did Balaam with a drawn sword, till he had made thee cast away thy groundless peace, and lie down at the feet of Christ, whom thou hast resisted, and say, 'Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?' and so receive from him a surer and better peace, which will never be quite broken, but will be the beginning of thy everlasting peace, and not perish in thy perishing, as the groundless peace of the world will do.
Sect. V. Fourthly: Another additional loss, aggravating their loss of heaven, is this, They shall lose all their carnal mirth.” Their merry vein will then be opened and empty ; they will say themselves, as Solomon doth, of their laughter, “Thou art mad,” and of their mirth, “ What didst thou ?” (Eccles. ii. 2.) Their witty jests and pleasant conceits are then ended, and their merry tales are all told. “ Their mirth was but as the crackling of thorns under a pot;” (Eccles. vii. 6 ;) it made a great blaze 'p The sorrow of the godly is with hope and joy, but the sorrow of the wicked is without hope. Jest not with hell: it is a horrible thing to fall into the hands of a consuming fire. - Rollock on John, lect. vi. p. 152. I know mirth is lawful, but as Seneca saith to the Epicure,“ Tu voluptatem complecteris : ego compesco. Tu voluptate frueris : ego utor. Tu illum sammum bonum putas: ego nec bonum. Tu omnia voluptatis causa facis ; ego nihil.-Senec, de Vit. Beat. c. 10. Vide Platerum. 'Observ.' lib. i. p. 92.