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the business of the world; all their senses are abroad, not so much as one sense stays at home to consider their state. They are never left at freedom to think, what their condition is. Others are dipped in pleasures, and they follow the vicious stream of their own hearts pleasantly and nothing disturbs thein. It is just as when the wind and tide go together, the stream is calm and smooth; so wltile their hearts, and the things of this world join together, while the current runs one way, they are at peace. But remember when the wind blows against the tide, all the waves are tumultuous and impetuous, and break into rage. So there is a time coming, when this world shall blow contrary to you ; then you shall be distressed; then there will be time enough for an uncomfortable remembrance of your folly.
These are some of the false grounds upon which men cherish rest here, and will not be brought out of the possession of it. But this will not last long; you may please and ravish yourselves with sensual delights and dreams till the justice of God awakens you; and in the next life there is nothing but sorrow and trouble and anguish and vexation. There is no rest unless you can rest in chains and fames of fire, and under the gnawings of an eternal worm and the everlasting wrath of God. If you saw a person upon a rack, his body stretched and tortured, and all his bones disjointed; can such a one have rest? then you may have rest in hell! Do you think that one who lies under the torturing pain of the stone or gout, and every pang cuts like the very pang of death, do you think that such a person can take any rest? All the parts of the body and all the powers of the soul shall be tormented in hell: as they shall feel those torments, fears, and sorrows, which shall prey upon them in that endless state.
Hence we may infer how miserable will be the state of those that are strangers and enemies to God. For the blessed rest is only prepared for God's people. This inference is so well
, grounded, that it admits of no doubt, as we find in Rev. 14. 13. “ And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth, yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” Where you see this blessedness is appropriated to those that die in the Lord. From whence we have this clear deduction ; “ Cursed are those that die in their sins."
He that dies in Christ is blessed, for he goes to the fountain of his life: but he that dies in his sins, carries that heavy weight with him that will sink him into the abyss of misery. This doth not respect only those that live in gross sins, those that are desperate and dissolute; but it is a bar against all those that are unregenerate and unrenewed. 1 Cor. 6. 9, 10. You have a catalogue of notorious sinners, Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind; nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” But it may be now you will bless yourselves in your hearts, to think that you are not of this number; my brethren, remember what the Lord of life tells you, John 3. 3. with an asseveration, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If you have not a reformed mind, a reformed will, and reformed affections; and if your lives be not reformed you can never enter into God's kingdom. In short before I go to a more particular opening of this, take a character of those persons he excludes from the reward in these three particulars.
1st. All those who are contrary to the nature of God who is infinitely holy shall be excluded from this rest. Wherever there is one sin in dominion this doth imply a standing contrariety to the nature of God; whatsoever sin it be whether it is visible to the eyes of men or no, or whether it is a secret sin, if it hath a throne in your hearts, this implies an utter contrariety to the nature of God. It is impossible for such a person to be received into this rest. You may sooner reconcile night and noon-day, than the presence of God with such creatures. The truth is, if they could be transported to heaven by divine power, heaven would be no more heaven to them, in whom there is a contraricty to the nature of God. To make it sensible to you all; there is nothing in the world more pleasing and more refreshing than the light of the sun to a sound eye; for light is that which makes the whole creation beautiful and pleasing to us; yet there is nothing more uneasy or more vexing to a sore eye corrupted with humours; therefore such persons will seek for retirement, make every thing dark, because the light of the sun will so afflict them. Indeed the presence of God is a heaven to a holy soul; but to those that are contrary to his holy nature, it is not so, therefore
it is that they are objects of God's rejection; he cannot take delight in them, and they cannot delight in him, there being a fundamental opposition in the nature of God to such sinners, and in them to God; therefore you may be assured, that all such shall be excluded from this rest.
2dly, The notion of God's people implies obedience. Now by way of opposition ; those that are rebels against his law and government, are none of his people; those that live in a known violation of his precepts, are all rebels to him. They may, indeed, own his government in words, but if it were in their power they would pluck him from his throne and set up another king, the God of this world. These are excluded from this rest.
3dly, Those that are not affectionate to God's glory, nor concerned for his interest in the world, they are none of his people, they are all to him. Those who, if they can preserve their own private interest, let the affairs of the church sink or swim ; if they can have a flourishing prosperity in their families, let the cause of God decline or prosper, they care not; these are none of God's people, they shall be excluded from this rest.
This being now laid as that which shall direct you in all I speak after, I shall proceed, and being now to speak to you of the most unpleasing subject, the torments of hell, I shall only say this, that were not the subject necessary, it is that which of all subjects a gospel minister would be most unwilling to speak of. For as God himself hath prepared and threatened hell for this end, that men might choose heaven and avoid hell : so none that hath a heart like our Saviour, but whenever he doth open these treasures of God's wrath to you, doth it merely upon this account, that you may escape them and be compelled to turn into the way of life.
This state of misery, which is contrary to the rest I have been speaking of, the scripture sets forth to us in that manner that may most affect and arouse us. So the apostle, Rom. 2. 7, 8. “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life : but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” Now that which I observe is this, the Holy Spirit doth by variety of expressions signify to us the extremity and perfection of that misery that is in hell; he calls it indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to enlarge your apprehensions concerning the perfect misery of that state. As it is said before of heaven, that it is a state of glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life; and all to raise your apprehensions, and attract your desires after heaven; so here you have expressions multiplied to impress upon you the fearfulness of that state. As in heaven all is composed, for the comfort, joy and blessedness of the saints; so in hell all is prepared for the torment and misery of the wicked. All within them and without them is to aggravate their misery. The judgments of God in this life, which he lays upon sinners, here in the day of his patience and clemency, are many times very heavy, and exceed the strength and courage of men to bear them; but all of them are nothing to that full vengeance, that complete recompence of sin, that God shall bring them, in the day of his righteous judgment. We read Deut. 29. 19. an expression of Moses to the Israelites; “And when it comes to pass he hears the words of this curse, and he bless himself saying, I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of my heart, and add drunkenness to thirst: the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man." All the judgments of God in this world against sinners, are but the smoke of hell-fire ; no more comparable to the enduring the torments of hell, than the feeling hot smoke to the burning of hell itself, as those intermediate comforts which God gives us in this life are nothing to the consolations, which he will give us in heaven; so all the temporal evils which the wicked meet with here, are nothing to the torments of hell. This being laid down in general, I shall come to open it to you more particularly.
1. The first thing which is considerable is this; the deprivation of this blessed rest, which none who are enemies to God shall ever obtain. When the great King shall call the world to judgment, and pass a sentence upon the wicked, the first part of the sentence will be, “Depart from me,” that is, depart from Christ, who is the fountain of life and joy, whose presence is the heaven of heavens. “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mat. 25. 41. The carnal sinner will think with himself, if it be but the loss of heaven I shall do well enough, if that be all damnation signifies, I shall not be much concerned; but now to make you understand the dreadfulness of this sentence, consider.
(1.) You shall then more perfectly understand what that blessedness is you lose ; and so you shall feel yourselves infinitely miserable upon this account. Indeed in the present state, the carnal unbelieving heart despiseth heaven, he looks upon nothing to be substantial, solid good, but what is sensible to his lower faculties. We preach heaven to them, which they think is but an airy happiness, a notional thing; there is no seeing or feeling, or tasting of it. So the carnal wretch thinks the loss of heaven will be an easy thing. But in the other world their sight shall be cleared, and their judgments changed, they shall know what they lose, and that loss will be accompanied with stings of conscience, and those dreadful tearings of themselves, that it is impossible to conceive. When Elisha said, thus saith the Lord, about this time to-morrow, shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hạnd the king leaned, answered the man of God, and said, behold if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be ? and he said behold thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof. 1 Kings 7. 1. I apply it thus; the damned shall see the glory of heaven, but they shall not partake of it. They shall see it only to their terror and sorrow. Now to put it in an ordinary case: if a man hath made a foolish bargain, and after comes to understand his folly in parting with such a thing, the price and value of which he did not understand, it will cause troublesome reflections upon himself. I remember a story, that when Charles the bold, one of the dukes of Burgundy, took a great city, there was a jewel found of incomparable value; the soldier that found it sold it for four florins (about twenty shillings) but after it was sold for many thousand pounds. If the soldier had known the price afterwards, how it would have enriched him, it would greatly trouble and vex him, that he had made so foolish a bargain. The wicked part with heaven foolishly, and lose it for trifles; but when they come to understand what a jewel it was, of what incomparable value, it will greatly afflict them; and the remembrance of their folly will be always grating upon their spirits and torment them. In hell, shall be “weeping, wailing and gnashing