Christ's Certain and Sudden Appearance to Judgment by Thomas Vincent (1634-1678)Articles on the Christian Walk, Systematic Theology and Practical Theology
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CHRIST’S Certain and sudden Appearance TO JUDGMENT.
By Thomas Vincent, sometime Minister of Maudlins Milstreet, London.
Heb. 10:37, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.”
LONDON, Printed for George Calvert, and are to be sold at the Bible in Iewen-street. 1667.
TO THE Citizens of London.
You have heard God’s Terrible Voice in the City, expressing it self in the late dreadful desolating Judgments of Plague, and Fire; the sound of which hath gone forth, not only into every corner of the Land, but I believe also by this time, unto the farthest end of the World. Give me leave to sound another Trumpet in your ears, and to forewarn you of a ten thousand times more dreadful Judgment, I mean the last and general Judgment of the whole World, at the second appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will most certainly and very quickly be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire to take vengeance upon all them which shall be found ungodly on that Day.
Could I have certainly foretold the many thousands, that sell by the Plague, in the year 1665, of their so neer approaching death, surely they would have endeavoured to prepare, that the sting and fear of death might have been removed; could I have foretold the Citizens of London of the many thousand Houses which should fall by the Fire, in the year 1666, surely they would have endeavoured to prevent the Fire, or at least have removed all their goods before-hand; but these things could not be foreseen, and therefore as the Judgments were unexpected, so they took the most unprovided: But I can certainly foretell you from God, who cannot lie, of the future 〈◊〉 Judgment, by the Lord Jesus Christ at the last day, which is the subject of this ensuing Treatise: And when you have warnings hereof out of the Word of Truth, and awakening motives to prepare, by dreadful temporal Judgments, you should neglect to do it, and after all be found unprovided at the appearance of Christ; as your sin will be the greater and more inexcusable, so your dread will be the greater at the sight of your Judge (whom those very eyes which read these lines, will behold ere long coming in the Clouds) and your punishment will be the more intollerable: But if the Lord encline your hearts to follow the directions and counsels of his Word to prepare for this great and notable day, you shall lift up your heads with joy, when the greatest part of the World shall be filled with terrour and confusion, and when the Lord Jesus doth appear, you also shall appear with him in glory. The design of these sheets is to set forth the glorious appearance of Christ, with the certainty and suddenness thereof, that sinners might be awakened to repent, and believers might be comforted with the hopes of it, and all might be in a readiness for the day, which is so sure, and near; which that you may be, and that my endeavours may be blessed for your help herein, is the prayer of an earnest wellwisher to your souls.
[chapter 1] Introduction.
Doct. 1. That the Lord Iesus Christ will certainly and quickly appear.
Doct. 2. That there is an earnest desire and longing in the Church after Christs appearance. pag. 1, 2.
- Concerning Christs appearance.
- In the Flesh. p. 2, 3, 4.
[chapter 2] 2. In glory, where concerning
- The manner of his appearance. p. 5.
- With great Power.
- Over Death. p. 6.
- Over Men and Devils. p. 7, 8.
- With great glory. p. 8, 9.
- He will be attended with a glorious retinue of Angels. p. 10. 11.
[chapter 3] 2. He will come with a glorious brightness, and great noise. 9. 12, 13, 14.
- The end of Christs appearance and transactions of that day. p. 15.
1 He will raise the dead, p, 16, to 19
2 He will gather all Nations before his judgment Seat, p, 19
3 He will separate the righteous from the wicked, p, 20, 21
- He will open the Books,
- Of Gods remembrance p. 22. to 27.
- Of Mens consciences: p: 27:
3 Of the Law: p: 28
4 Of the Gospel, p, 28, 29
5 Of life, p, 30,
- He will judge both the righteous and wicked. p. 30 Where
- Concerning their particular Iudgment.
- Concerning the execution of their sentence pronounced p. 30.
[chapter 5] 1 Concerning the Iudgment of the righteous.
1 The immediate Antecedents are
1 Their Resurrection, p, 31, 32
2 Their meeting with the Angels, p, 33
3 Their meeting one with another, p, 34
4 Their being caught up together into the air, p, 35
5 Their meeting with the Lord, p, 36, to 40
[chapter 6] 2 The Iudgment it self, p, 40
1 He wil take an account of them, p, 41
1 Of their graces, p, 42
2 Of the improvement of their talents, ibid.
3 Of their works of mercy, p, 43
4 Of their afflictions, p, 44
2 He will pronounce the Sentence upon them, p, 44, 45
[chapter 7] 2 Concerning the Iudgment of the wicked
1 The immediate antecedents are
1 Their resurrection and meeting of body and soul, p, 46, to 50
2 Their meeting with Devils, p, 50, 51
3 Their meeting one with another, p, 52
4 Their seeing the righteous caught up to meet the Lord, p, 53, to 61
5 Their seeing the Lord Iesus Christ coming to judge them, p, 59, to 64
6 Their seeing the Iudgment of the righteous, p, 64
[chapter 8] 2 The Iudgment it: self, & here concerning
1 The Iudge in 8 properties, p, 64, to 72
2 The Assessors, p, 73
3 The Malefactors, p, 74, 75
4 The crimes, p, 76, 77
5 The accusers
1 God, p 78, 79
Minist. p, 80 to 83
godly friends, p, 83 to 87
3 Devils, ibid.
4 Their own consciences, p, 87
6 The conviction, where twenty sorts of sinners are called forth and convicted by the Iudge from p. 87, to 115
7 The sentence, p, 116, 117
[chapter 9] 2 Concerning the execution of the sentence pronounced upon both righteous and wicked in judgment. 118
- The execution of the sentence on the wicked.
- Of the wicked going away
- From whom, viz.
- Christ, ibid.
- Saints, 119
- From what, ibid.
- Six vexing considerations in their going away, from p. 120, to p. 130
- Of the wickeds going into punishment.
- Of the punishment they shall go into, p, 131
- The Inflicter. p. 132, 133
- The Subject. Soul, p, 134 Body, p. 135
- The properties.
- Eternal. p. 136. to 142
[chapter 10] 2. Of their entrance into this punishment, p. 143, 144
- The execution of the sentence on the righteous, p. 145
- Of the righteous going away.
- From whom, viz.
Devils, p. 146
Wicked, p. 147
- From what, ibid.
- Three sweet considerations in their going away; from p. 147. to 152
- Of the righteous going into eternal life.
- Of the eternal life they shall go into, or their happiness.
body, 153, to 157
soul, 158, to 160
- Objectively, 161
- Formally, 162 to 166
- Of their entring into eternal life, p. 167
[chapter 11] 2. Concerning the certainty of Christs appearance, proved by 3. Arguments, where concerning the Divine Authority of the Scriptures, and the Resurrection, &c. from p. 168. to 206
[chapter 12] 3. Concerning the speediness and suddenness of Christs coming, where is a Description of the Old Worlds drowning, and Sodom’s burning, applied, &c. from p. 207. to 224
[chapter 13] 4. The Application.
- More generall, from 225, to 229
- More particularly.
- To sinners
- To discover them, from p. 230, to 234
- To awaken them, from p. 235 to 246
- To exhort them, from p. 247 to 263
[chapter 14] 2. To believers
1 For the trial of them from p. 264 to 269
- For the comforting of them, from p. 270, to 28•
[chapter 15] 3. To both sinners and believers to perswade them
- To believe.
- To consider.
- To prepare; where twelv• Duties requisite in order 〈◊〉 preparation. From 283. 〈◊〉 the end.
Christ’s certain and sudden Appearance to Judgment.
Revel. 22. 20.
Surely I come quickly. Amen, Even so come Lord Iesus.
THe last words of a Dear friend are usually most remarked, and best remembred, especially when they speak great affection: these are the last words of Jesus Christ, the best friend that the children of men ever had; which he sends his Angel from Heaven, after he had been some yeers in glory with the Father, to speak in his Name unto his Churches upon the earth. v. 16. I Iesus have sent mine Angel to testifie these things in the Churches: and of all the things which he testifieth by his Angel, this is the last and the sweetest in the Text, Surely I come quickly. Which words of Promise comming down from Heaven, and expressing so much Love to the Church, are followed with 〈◊〉 Eccho, and resound of the Churches earnest desire, Amen. Even so come Lord Iesus, &c.
Doct. 1. That the Lord Iesus Christ will certainly and quickly appear.
Doct. 2. That there is an earnest desire and longing in the Church after Christs appearance.
- 1. That the Lord Iesus Christ will certainly and quickly appear.
Here I shall speak,
- Concerning Christ’s appearance.
- Show that he will certainly appear.
- Show that he will quickly appear.
- And lastly, Apply,
- Concerning Christs appearance. There is a twofold appearance of Christ, which the Scripture makes mention of.
- In the Flesh.
- In Glory.
- THe first appearance of Christ was in the flesh, above sixteen hundred years ago in the Land of Iudea, unto the people of the Jews, the only-then-visible-Church upon the Earth. There it was that the Word was made Flesh; and amongst that people he dwelt for a while, some of whom beheld his Glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. There it was that the eternal Son of God was made man, being conceived miraculously by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, without the contamination of original sin, which all ordinary conceptions do introduce: His real Mother, and supposed Father were both of the Tribe of Iudah, and of the lineage of David, and he was born in the Town of Bethlem, according to the Scripture predictions: who, after he had lived thirty years in obscurity, was baptized by Iohn Baptist, his Fore-runner and Harbinger; in whose Baptism, when Iohn saw the Heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descending like a Dove, and lighting upon him, and heard the voice from the excellent Glory, saying, This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. He gave his testimony concerning him, that he was the Son of God, and the Lamb of God, who taketh way the sins of the world. Who after his own baptism and temptation, and Iohns imprisonment, made his appearance more openly unto Israel, shewing forth his glory, not in outward pomp and splendour, but in a more high, eminent, and wonderful manner, altogether Divine, exceeding the imitation of any Earthly Monarch in the World.
He shewed forth the glory of his power, in the Miracles which he did work, namely in opening the eyes of the blind, and ears of the deaf; in loosning the tongue of the dumb, and the bonds of other infirmities; in cleansing the Lepers, and healing other diseases with a word; in casting out Devils after long profession; in calming the Sea and Winds when boisterous and stormy; in raising up the dead, before, and after burial for some daies, and the like.
He shewed forth the glory of his Knowledge, in looking into the hearts of those which came unto him, being able to perceive their most secret thoughts and imaginations, and needed not that any should restifie of man, for he knew what was in man.
He shewed forth the glory of his Wisdom, in his most wise answer, to the ensnaring questions of the Pharisees and others, in the most excellent and heavenly doctrine which he preached, wherein he did not teach his Disciples subtile and empty speculations, which the greatest wits in the world have busied themselves about, but great soulsaving truths; indeed he revealed some great and deep mysteries (above the reach of the highest wit, of the greatest Schollar, without the teachings of his Spirit) which were momentous and needful in order unto practice, but the greatest part of his doctrine was plain and easie.
He shewed forth the glory of his Holiness, in his exact walking, and perfect obedience unto the Law of God, without the least deviation or sin.
He shewed forth the glory of his Goodness and tenderness towards the children of men, in going about to do them good, and give succour to them which were in misery, casting out none which came unto him.
Especially he shewed forth the glory of his Mercy and infinite Love to his own people, in submitting to so low a condition as he liv’d in for their sakes; in humbling himself and becomming obedient unto death, even the cursed, disgraceful, painful death of the Cross; besides the soul miseries which he endured through sense of Gods wrath due for their sins, that he might satisfie Gods justice, and deliver them from eternal death and wrath to come, and purchase Life and Glory for them.
Thus Christ lived, and thus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and being dead, the bonds of death could not hold him, neither did the holy one see corruption, but the third day rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures; and after his resurrection, was seen of Mary Magdalen, of Peter, Iames, all the Apostles, of five hundred brethren at once, according to the Scriptures. After forty daies was taken up into Heaven, and is there in his humane nature at the right hand of the Throne of the Majesty in the heavens, making intercession for his people, where he will abide untill the second appearance.
Thus concerning Christs appearance in the flesh.
- THe second appearance of Christ will be in Glory at the last day, when the world shall come to an end: this is the appearance we are treating of, and therefore I shall speak of it more largely, and show,
- The manner of this appearance.
- The end and transactions at this appearance.
- Concerning the manner of Christs second appearance, what tongue of Men or Angels is able to set it forth? what heart can conceive the splendour thereof? Something the Scripture doth reveale, and taking the Scripture for my guide, I shall assay to speak something of it. See Luke 21. 27. Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a Cloud, with Power and great Glory.
- Christ at his second appearance will come with Power, with great power; he hath all power put into his hands in Heaven and in Earth now, and doth exercise it more secretly; then he will exercise it more visibly and apparently in the sight of the whole world. To give instance,
- He will come with power over Death. Death hath had great power since the Fall, and is the greatest Conquerour in the world; Death hath made an universal Conquest over all the sons and daughters of Adam (Enoch and Elias only excepted) which lived in former generations, and hath led them captive, binding their faces in secret, chaining their hands and their feet, and clapping them up close prisoners in the grave, and none have been able to make resistance; yea, Death did assail the Lord of Life himself, and got the victory for a while, and shut him up in prison; but he got loose before three daies were at an end, broke open the doors, and gave Death a deep wound, as it were, and an abolishing stroke in his Resurrection, 2 Tim. 1. 10. presaging the compleat victory which afterward he would obtain over this enemy of man-kind. Now when Christ makes his second appearance in the world at the last day, he will exercise his power over death, he will lead captivity captive, he will lay his first Hands on Death, and tread this Conquerour under his feet, and strip him of all his force and spoils, which he hath been treasuring up for so many years; he will snatch the keys of the grave out of the hand of Death, and open the prison doors and let forth all his captives; he will loosen all the bonds of Death, and knock off his chains, and bring out all his prisoners into freedom and enlargment: as it is said, Hos. 13. 14. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from Death: O Death! I will be thy Plagues! O Grave! I will be thy destruction! And it is said, 1 Cor. 15. 25, 26. that all enemies shall be put under the feet of Jesus Christ, and the last enemy which he shall destray is Death. And v. 54. When this mortall shall put on immortality, then Death shall be swallowed up in victory. And surely Christ must needs come with great power to get victory over such a potent enemy.
- He will come with power over Men and Devils, he will have power over all his enemies, which have rebelled against him; over all the Principalities and Powers on the Earth, that exercise Lordship and dominion in the World; he will bring the Kings of the Earth down from their seats, and pluck off the robes of Princes; he will take the staff and the sword out of their hand, and divest them of all their royalty and greatness; and they who have employed their borrowed power against him, how will they quake and tremble before him? See Rev. 11. 15, 16, 17, 18. When the seventh Angel sounded, there were great voices in Heaven, saying, the Kingdomes of the World are become the Kingdomes of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty Angels fell on their faces, saying, we give thee thanks O Lord God all-mighty, which art, and wast, and art to come, because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the Nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged; and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the Prophets, and to thy Saints, and them that fear thy name small and great, and shouldst destroy them which destroy the Earth.
The Kings of the Earth, and great Potentates will be angry when they are dis-throned; and the wicked of the Earth will be troubled, when the Lord Jesus shall come down from Heaven to call them to Judgment: If all the Powers of wicked Men and Devils too, who are greater in power than Men, could, they would make head, and resist the Lord Jesus Christ, and pull him from his Throne, and put him to death, as the Iewes did at his first appearance; if they had but any hopes, of making their party good against him, how would they call their forces, and gather their Armies, and wage War with this great King; especially when all the wicked shall be raised up, and the ancient Rebels, the Giants of the old World, shall come forth of their dust, and the Prison of Hell, where some of them have been tormented by him many years? O how would they combine their strength, and so many millions of them together, rush upon him with rage and violence; and endeavour to avenge themselves upon him, at least defend themselves against him, when he comes to torment them? but Christ will come with so great power, that he will be able to deale with the whole wicked world of men together, when they are raised and united in one body, and have obtained more strength of body, and are filled with more rage and spight of minde than here they had, and are out of all hopes of making any peace with him, and have the whole flock of all the Devils in Hell to joyn in to their company; I say Christ will come with sufficiency of strength to binde them all in Chains, and so to hold them all down that they shall not be able to make the least resistance; he that hath power to raise the wicked from the dead, will have power to keep all his Enemies from Rebellion, he will come with Power.
- Christ will come at his second appearance with great glory; At his first appearance, he came like a Servant, yea like a Servant of Servants; at his second appearance he will come like a Lord, yea like a Lord of Lords, like the great Lord of glory; at his first appearance he was •loathed with dishonour, and a chain of contempt was put about him; but at his second appearance he will be cloathed with glory and honour, and most excellent Majesty will be put upon him; at his first appearance his Deity was vailed, his beauty was masked with infirm flesh, his brightness was under a Cloud; though sometimes some beams did break forth with such a dazling lustre, as made Peter fall at his feet saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful Man, O Lord, Luke 5. 8. And others in the Ship to worship him, acknowledging of a truth thou art the Son of God: Mat. 14. 33. And often filled his Disciples with fear, and astonishment; but he was so disguised in flesh, that few knew him at all, none knew much of him, when he was so disrobed, and so meanly attired, and attended. It is said the Princes of this World knew him not, else surely they would have laid down their Scepters at his feet, had they known him, they would not have dared, so disgracefully, to have crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Cor. 2. 8. But at his second appearance, the Vail will be so drawn aside, that the Deity of Christ will shine forth with amazing splendour to the view of the whole World; his humane nature will be glorious beyond any other Creature; but oh how glorious will his Divine nature be, when the eyes of the whole World shall be opened to see God in such a way, as now we are not able to conceive? He will appear in the brightness of his Fathers glory, so that they which see him will see the Father; the M•jesty, Authority, Dominion, Power, Holiness, Justice, and love of the Father, will be like so many sparkling gems, to deck the Crown of Christ at his appearance; but who can conceive the royalty and surpassing excellency of Jesus Christ, when he comes down out of his Fathers Pallace, into the World? He will come in great glory, God will come down in him and with him; the Throne of God will be removed, the Pallace will be below, Heaven will be upon the Earth, where Christ is, there is Heaven, there is God in his greatest glory to be seen; he will come in great glory, never was there such glory seen upon the face of the Earth; never did the eye of man behold such a sight, as then it will behold; we read of great and pompous showes, which some Princes have made in their triumphs: but never was there such pomp in the World, as there will be at this appearance of Jesus Christ, when he cometh triumphing over all his enemies, when he cometh with the spoiles of principalities and powers, making a show of them openly, and decked with such excellent glory. A little further to set this forth,
1 He will come attended with a glorious retinue of Angels, we read M•tth. 26. 53. Of more than twelve legions of Angels. And Dan. 7. 10. Of thousand thousands, yea ten thousand times ten thousands, which Minister about the throne of God; yea further, Rev. 5. 11. Of a number of ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of Angels, and Heb. 12. 22. Of an innumerable company of Angels. All these Angels will attend upon Jesus Christ at his second appearance. It is said M•tth. 25. 31. That all the holy Angels shall come with him. Now the Angels are dispersed in several places, some of them are upon the Earth ministring unto the saints, which shall be heires of salvation. Heb. 1. 14. Others are in heaven, beholding the face of the Father ready to execute his will, some are ascending, some descending; but then they will all be gathered together into one company, and like so many Courtiers attend upon this great King in this his glorious appearance in the World; all will descend with Christ; Heaven will be emptied of Angels, they will all come forth, and come down from their old habitation; and oh how glorious will this train be! he will come with all the holy Angels, Angels that are holy and glorious; not like those rotten Courtiers which attend upon some Earthly Kings, who have no other glory upon them, but what lies in their rich and splendid apparel; the bodies of some of which if they were uncas’d, would appear to be full of loathsome diseases; but whose souls are monstrously ugly, and deformed; full of loathsome and noisome lusts, besmeared with dung and filthiness; who, could their inside be turned outward, and the deformity of sin be seen with bodily eyes, would appear too hideously black, and swarthy, and more misshapen, than those which are born with the greatest blemishes of nature; who carry Hell in their bosomes, and like so many bears and ugly hounds are led about by the Devil in chains; such, such follow many Kings on earth, when they appear abroad, with hearts full of lust; vvith eyes full of adultery; vvith mouths full of oaths and filthy ribauldry; vvho are like so many spots in the faces of their Princes, or like a Cloud about their brow, vvhich darkneth their glory in the eyes of the serious and sober minded: but Christ vvill come attended vvith millions of holy Angels, arrayed in such pure and vvhite garments, as shall not have the least spot, or tincture of sin upon them, he vvill come vvith holy Angels, who vvill be like so many flames of Fire, full of holy svveet burning Love, and covered vvith such Light and glorious excellency, as will not darken, but illustrate the glory of their Lord and Prince, they attend upon.
2 Christ will come with a glorious Brightness, and great noise; such a light will shine in him and about him, as will a thousand fold surpass the light of the Sun, when it shineth in its full strength: we read Matth. 13. 43. That the righteous shall shine like the Sun, in the Kingdome of their Father; how then will the Sun of righteousness shine? from whom they wil receive all their brightness by reflection, as the Moon and some other Stars do from the Sun in the firmament. It is said, Mat. 24. 29, 30. That at the coming of Christ, the Sun shall be darkned, and the Moon shall not give her light, and the Stars of the Heaven shall fall, and Rev. 6. 12, 13, 14. That the Sun shall be black as Sackcloath of hair, and the Moon shall be like blood, and the Stars of the heaven shall fall to the earth, even as a Fig-tree casteth her untimely Figges, when she is shaken of a mighty winde; and the Heavens shall depart as a scroll when it is rolled together, and every Island and Mountain shall be moved out of their places. At the coming of Christ there will be such a brightness as will darken the Sun and other Luminaries in the Heavens, even as the Sun, doth darken the lesser Stars, who though shining all night with a twinkling light, and like so many Candles in the Firmament, yet upon the Suns first lifting up his head in a morning, and casting about its beames, they presently sink in their sockets and disappear; so the Sun it self, and other Luminaries of Heaven will disappear, when this more glorious Sun doth arise in the morning of the last day, they will then lose their light; and what further need of them? in Heaven it will be all day: Rev. 2. 22. In the City of the new Ierusalem there will be no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon to shine in it; for the glory of God will enlighten it, and the Lamb will be the light of it: and Chap. 22. 5. There shall be no night there, and they shall need no Candle, nor the light of the Sun, but the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall raign for ever and ever. In Hell it will be all night and▪ no day, there will be blackness of darkness for ever, and not the least beam of light shall shine into that place; and if the Sun and other Stars be given for the measure and distinction of times and seasons, when the last day is come, Time will be no longer, and all must launch forth from the confines of Time, into the vast Ocean of Eternity, which cannot be bounded nor measured: It is said, Rev. 20. 11. When the great white Throne shall be set, and Christ is placed thereon, that the Heavens and the Earth shall flee away from before his face, and no more place be found for them: and 2 Pet. 3. 10. When the day of the Lord cometh, that the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the Earth with all its works shall be burnt up. Christ will come with a glorious light, and with a roaring dreadful noise, which will further set forth the glory of this appearance, see this expressed, 1 Thes. 4. 16. The Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Arch-angel, and the Trump of God, and Matth. 24. 31. He shall send forth his Angels with a great sound of a Trumpet, who shall gather in his Elect from the four mindes, Never was there such a noise heard in the World, as then will be heard; when Christ shall appear, the heavens will roar; the Earth will be in flames of Fire; there will be a great shout, and the sound of the last Trump in the Aire; this shout will be given by Jesus Christ himself, as is likely, for it is said, Iohn 5. 28, The hour is coming, in which all that are in their Graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; we read Iohn 11. 43. When Christ came to raise Lazarus, that he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth, surely then when he comes to raise the World, he will cry and shout with a much louder voice: Such a voice likely will come down from him in a roaring shout, Awake yee dead and come to Iudgement, or arise yee Children of Men, and come forth of your Graves. Never was there such a shout given, as then will be given, which will be accompanied with the sound of the Trumpet, the Angels shall sound the Trumpet: we read Exod. 19. 16. When the Lord gave the Law from Mount Sinai, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and the voice of a Trumpet exceeding loud, which made all the People which were in the Camp to tremble. O what thunderings will there be in the aire at Christs second appearance? and how exceeding loud will the sound of this last Trumpet be, when Christ comes to judge them which have broken this Law? That Trumpet was heard only by the Nation of the Jewes, which were together about the Mount; this Trumpet will be heard by all Nations throughout the World; that Trumpet was heard only by those which were alive at that time; this Trumpet will be heard not only by them that shall remain alive upon the Earth at the last day, but also by all those which have dyed throughout all Generations from the beginning of the Creation; such a noise there will be as will awaken all that shall be asleep in their graves. Such a noise as will make all the corners of the earth to ring, and the pillars of the world to tremble; but O how will it startle the wicked when they hear it, and fill them with terrour and amazement? Thus you have something of the manner of Christ’s second appearance set forth unto you, he shall come with power and great glory.
- THe second thing is to speak of the end of Christs second appearance, and the transactions of that day.
The end of Christs second appearance will be to judge the world; the end of his first coming was not to judge, but to redeem and save, as he tells his disciples when they desired him to execute some judgment from Heaven upon those Samaritans which would not receive him, Luke 9. 55, 56. Ye know not what spirit ye are of, for the Son of man is not come to destroy mens lives, but to save them. And Iohn 7. 47. If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not, for I came not to judge, but to save; but when Christ doth appear the second time, he will come to judge the world, Iude 14. 15. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute judgment upon all, &c. Matth. 26. 31, 32. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy Angels with him, then shall he sit on the Throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all Nations; and so he goeth on in description of the last judgment. In speaking of Christs judging the world, and the transactions at that day, I shall show,
- That Christ will raise up all the dead one of their graves.
- That he will gather all Nations before his judgment Seat.
- That he will separate the righteous from the wicked.
- That he will open the Bo•ks out of which all must be judged.
- I shall speak more particularly of the judgment of the Righteous, and the Wicked.
- Christ at his second appearance will raise up all the dead out of their graves: there shall be a general resurrection, Iohn 5. 28, 29. The hour cometh in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. Something hath been spoken already concerning Christs victory over death, and loosning all his prisoners, but give me leave to illustrate the resurrection a little further; and here I shall endeavour to set it forth by an allusion to that notable place, Ezek. 37. and the ten first verses. The hand of the Lord was upon me▪ and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones. And caused me to pass by them round about; there were very many in the open valley, and so they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, Can these bones live? and I answered, O Lord thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesie upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones hear the Word of the Lord, Thus saith the Lord unto these bones, Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded, and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones camè together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, •o the sinews and flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesie unto the Winds, Prophesie Son of man, and say to the Winds, Thus saith the Lord God, come from the four Winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet an exceeding great Army. Something like this will the Resurrection be at the last day. Now the bones and bodies of all former generations are scattered up and down in the valley of the shadow of death: some are sunk into the deep, others are buried in the earth, the flesh is consumed, and resolved into its first elements, and the bones of some remain, of other are mouldred into earth; now when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God shall come down from Mount Sion which is above, into the valley of this inferiour World, he will Prophesie over all the bodies and bones of all the children of men that are dead, and speak unto them to live; he will say unto them whilst they lie rotting in their graves, Live; he will say, Awake ye that sleep in the dust: and O what a noise and shaking will there be then in the ground? what a clattering of bones together in the coming of bone to his bone? If the body hath been quartered and buried, part in one place and part in another; (as the Levites concubine, who was divided into twelve parts, and sent to the twelve Tribes of Israel, and it is likely buried in twelve distinct places;) the bones will fly through the air out of all those places, and meet together in one body. O what a great part of the air, water, and earth will there run into conjunction, by the command of Christ, and be turned into those very bodies which were resolved into them by death, and the corruption of the Pit; but with the addition of such new qualities as shall sublimate, spiritualize, and refine them from all that dreggishness, and ill humour that shall be the foundation of any sickness or death for ever; then the bones will come together, and be made like stones for strength; then the sinews will be as it were Iron sinews, and the flesh brasse; such strength will be put into them, as I conceive is not to be found in the strongest creatures which hitherto God hath made; that they might be fitted, the bod•es of the righteous for an eternal life of happiness, and bearing the glory of Heaven: the bodies of the wicked for an eternal life of misery, and bearing the torments of Hell; either of which the body, now as it is, would sink under. Then the Sea will give up her dead, and the Earth will give up her dead, Rev. 20. 13. As the Whale cast Ionah upon the shore after he had lain three daies in his belly: so the Sea will cast up all the dead that for so many years have been buried in its bowels: but what a st•rring will there be in the earth! those which are alive will wonder to see such a strange metamorphosis of the ground; to feel men and women stirring and moving under their feet, arising and crouding for room amongst them. Then will the Lord bring down all the souls of the righteous which have been in Paradise with him many years, and they shall finde out their own bodies, and he will open the prison of Hell, and let out the souls of the wicked for a while, that they also may finde out their own bodies, which shall be prepared for both, that they might both be prepared for the last judgment; of which more when I come to the particular judgment of the righteous and wicked.
Thus Christ will raise up all the dead out of their graves.
- Christ at his second appearance will gather all Nations before his Iudgment seat, Rev. 20. 11, 12. I saw a great white throne, and him that sate on it. And I saw the dead small and great stand before God, 2 Cor. 5. 10. We must all appear before the Iudgment seat of Christ. And Matth. 25. 31, 32. When the Son of man shall sit on his throne, all Nations shall be gathered before him. O what a vast number will there be when so many hundred generations of people shall be alive together, and gathered together into one place! if so be the multitude of the righteous will be so great when they are got together into one body, that no man can number them. Rev. 7. 9. After I beheld, and lo a great multitude, which no man could number, of all Nations and Kindreds, and People, and Tongues, stood before the Throne, and before the Lamb, cloathed with white Robes, and Palms in their hands. What then will the multitude of the wicked be, when they are gathered together; in comparison with whom, the righteous are but few? All Nations shall be gathered before Christs Judgment seat.
- Christ at his second appearance will separate the righteous from the wicked, the Chaff shall be purged from the Wheat. Matth. 3. 12. the Tares shall be gathered from the good Corn. Matth. 13. 30. the bad Fish shall be divided from the good, v. 48. The Goats shall be separated from the Sheep, Matth. 25. 32. By the Chaff, Tares, bad Fish, Goats, we are to understand the wicked; by the good Corn, good Fish, Sheep, we are to understand the righteous: who will be separated one from another, however they are now in some places mingled and linked together; the elect shall be gathered together into one company from the four winds, Matth. 24. 31. and they shall stand on the right hand of Christ, and the reprobate wicked shall stand on the left, Mat. 25. 33. In which gathering and separation, there shall be no mistake, as there may be now. Many close hypocrites may in this world pass for true children of God; they may live together, and hear together, and pray together, and receive the Sacrament together, and make the same profession of Religion; yea, some hypocrites may, as to ourward appearance, seem to outgo some of Gods own children in zeal and forwardness; the lamps of the foolish Virgins may seem to shine with a greater blaze than some of the lamps of the wise; when they have not the least dram of the oyl of true grace in the vessel of their hearts, Matth. 25. at the beginning; yea, some of Gods own children may here be mistaken for hypocrites (their chiefest life being secret, and out of view) by them which are uncharitable; and they may also mistake themselves, through the temptations of the devil, and the doubtings of their mis-giving unbelieving hearts; but at the last day, there will be no mistake; not only the more openly profane and notoriously vile generation of the wicked, who were even professed enemies of Gods people, and shun their company, and separate themselves now, shall be separated from them by Jesus Christ at the last day; but also all those who were more •ober, and had some kind of love to them, but none unto Jesus Christ: Yea, all hypocrites, who seemed to be of their company, shall then be parted from them: Christ will look upon all with a pier•ing distinguishing eye, he will easily discern and discover all the hypocrites, however they may plead that they have eat and drunk in his presence, and some of them cast out devils in his •ame; he will not judge according to the outward appearance, but according to the truth which hath been in the heart; and they which •ave so much deceived men, shall not be able to •eceive him: None of them shall twine themselves ••perceivably, and croud into Heaven amongst 〈◊〉 righteous: Then the lamps of the foolish vir••ns will be gone out; then the vail and mask of 〈◊〉 outward show, will be rent and torn to pie••s; then the sheeps-skin will be pluckt off, and ••ey will appear unto the whole world to have •een but goats, and amongst the goats they must 〈◊〉; Christ will not leave one of the goats •mongst the sheep, and he will not leave one of 〈◊〉 sheep amongst the goats; all that belong to his fold shall be gathered into one society; of their meeting, more in their particular judgment.
4 At the second appearance of Iesus Christ, the Books will be opened, out of which all must be judged, Rev. 20. 12. I saw the dead small and grea• stand before God, and the Books were opened, and another Bo•k was opened, which is the Bo•k of Life, and the dead were judged out of th•se things which were written in those Books, according to their works. There are five Books which will then be opened. 1. Th• Book of Gods remembrance. 2. The Book of Men• own consciences. 3. The Book of the Law. 4. Th• Book of the Gospel. 5. The Book of Life.
- The Book of God’s Remembrance will be opened This we are to understand in a spiritual sense, no as if there were a real Book, which God did mak• use of, for his remembrance of things, as men 〈◊〉 who have frai•e and weak memories, which woul• let slip many things of note, without such a help but hereby we are to understand that God do• take an exact notice of things, and remembers the• as if he had them written in a Book by him. The Bo•• of Gods remembrance will be opened, wherei• will be sound recorded,
- The names of all the Sons and Daughters 〈◊〉Adam, what ever Age and Generation they ha•• lived in, from the beginning of the Creation 〈◊〉 the consummation of all things; as also the rel••tions they stood in, and the charge was commi•ted to them. Such and such were Magistrat• and had such and such subjects under them; 〈◊〉 had the sword of justice put into their hands, 〈◊〉 their charge was to rule under Christ; to enc•••rage and reward them that did well; and to punish evil d•ers; such and such were Ministers, and they were entrusted with the care of souls, they were set by the Lord for Watch-men, to forewarn the people of judgments; as Stewards to dispence the food of the Word, and to give every one their portion; such and such were Governours of Families; whose work was to set up Religion, and the worship of God in their houses, and labour in their places after the salvation of the souls, as well as to set those under them about their civil work, and to provide for their bodies: such and such were Children and Servants, whose charge was to yield obedience to Parents and Governors, in the Lord, with meeknesse and fear, with readinesse and diligence.
2 There will be found recorded the places where such Persons lived; such indeed lived in the dark places of Heathenisme and Idolatry; but such and such lived in Israel, in a Goshen, in a Land of Light; such and such lived in England, in London, in such a religious Family: there will be recorded the means of grace, which they have enjoyed in those places; such lived under such a powerful Ministry, heard such heart-awakening and heart-warming Sermons, and had such sweet showers of the Word dropping upon them; they were planted in a fertile soile, and they had fat pastures to feed in.
3 There will be found recorded, the various dispensations of Gods providence towards them for their good; such and such had not only Gods Word, but also Gods Rod to teach them; they lived under the sound of awakning Judgments, they lived in London, when the Plague raged so sorely; and when the Fire brake forth and consumed the City; and such were preserved, when thousands fell into the Pit; they were brought down to the Doores of the Grave, and Eternity, and they were brought up again; they were preserved and provided for, and every day tasted of the Cup of Gods goodness, they were loaden with his mercies.
4 And especially there will be found recorded, all the actions of all the Children of men, and their carriage towards God, and towards one another, in those places, in those relations, under those ordinances and providences.
1 There will be found recorded all the good that hath been found in, or done by any from the day of their Child-hood, to their dying hour; such and such, they were obedient to Parents when they were young; they were diligent in learning their Catechisme, and ready to receive instructions in the Principles of Religion; such were acquainted with the Scriptures when they were but Children; such had tender hearts in their tender years; such loved God and followed God, when they were but youths; such and such, had their hearts opened in hearing of the Word, and enlarged hearts in prayer; such were awakned by such Sermons, and convinced and humbled for sin, and perswaded to repent and turn to the Lord: such opened the door to Jesus Christ, when he knocked, and set up his Throne in their hearts, and put their necks under his yoke. Such and such, were frequenters and lovers of the Ordinances and Ministers of Jesus Christ. Such made it their business to be religious; such walked with God in their Families, and were up•ight in their dealings in the World; such used to deny themselves, and took up their Cross and laboured to follow Jesus Christ where ever he led them; such mourned for the sins they could not reform; were thankful for the mercies they received; were faithful in the relations they were placed; were fruitful under the means they enjoyed; were merciful to their brethren in misery; were patient and chearful under the Rod, which was laid upon them▪ and all the good actions of men will be had in remembrance.
2 There will be found recorded, all the evil actions, all the sins of the Children of men. Such and such were disobedient and untoward children; slighted the commands of God and their Parents; were idle, and careless of instruction, and would not open their eare to discipline; such were old in sin, when young in years; were strong and skilful in wicked sinful practices, when their bodies were but weak, and minds sotishly ignorant in the things of God; such had good examples before them, but they would not follow them; they saw dreadful judgments, but were hardned under them; they received many mercies, but they abused them; they had seasons of grace, but they mis-spent them; they had calls, but they shut their eare against them; they had convictions of conscience, but they stifled them; they had motions of the spirit, but they quenched them; they had proffers of Christ, and pardon, and salvation, but they refused them, and turned Gods glory into shame, and his grace into wantonness. Such and such were Sabbath breakers. Such were Svvearers. Such vvere Drunkards. Such vvere unclean persons, and Adulterers. Such vvere Thieves. Such vvere covetous persons, and Idolaters. Such vvere unjust and unrighteous in their dealings; Such were bitter and reproachful in their speeches. Such vvere injurious in their actions. All the sins of Men and Women will be found in the Book of Gods remembrance. Deut. 32. 34. Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed amongst my treasures? God stores and treasures up the sins of the wicked and ungodly, against the day of his vvrath, and their perdition; it is said, Iob 14. 16, 17. Thou numberest my steps, dest not thou watch over my sin, my transgressions are sealed up in a Bag, and thou sowest up mine iniquities. God numbereth the steps of sinners, one by one, sin by sin, as a man vvould number every step; and he vvatcheth that he may number aright, he takes exact notice of the foot-steps of every sin; vvhich leave an impression in the Book of his remembrance, as the foot-steps of the body do, vvhen a man walketh in soft Clay. He putteth the transgressions in a bag, and soweth the Bag, and sealeth the bag; all which expressions denote Gods exactness in recording and laying up the sins of men. It is said, Ier. 17. 1. That the sin of Iudah is written with a Pen of Iron, and the point of a Diamond. All secret sins will be found there recorded, for nothing is secret to God, whose eyes are like a flame of fire, which gives light to every dark corner; darkness hideth not from him, but the night shineth as the day; he looks into every corner of the Earth, and into every corner of the heart, and hath set our secret sins in the light of his countenance: and all open sins will be found there recorded; no man hath taken so much notice of others sins, as God hath done; he doth as it were, book all down in his remembrance, and when Christ comes at the last day, the book of Gods remembrance will be opened.
- The second Book which will be opened at Christs coming, will be the Book of Mens own Consciences: and this will be the counter-part to every Mans particular, of What is written in the book of Gods remembrance, they will finde the same thing there registred; indeed conscience now may seem to be asleep, and say nothing whilst men are eating, and drinking, and •inning; yet conscience is secretly awake, and busie in writing, and taking notes of every Mans actions, every day; conscience hath its day-book, which hath not an empty page; the mouth of conscience may be shut, and with much adoe, for the present, restrained from speaking, and biting; but the eye of conscience cannot be shut from seeing, nor the hand of conscience restrained from registring what it takes notice of: every one in the World hath as it were whole volumes of his own actions in his bosome, written down by conscience; and though the letters of some things done long agoe, may seem to be rased and worn out; so that a Man cannot read them now; yet when this Book shall be opened at the last day, they will appear; in very legible characters; like as when a Man writes with the juice of a Lemmon upon fair paper; the juice is white, and the paper is white, and he cannot read a word when it is written, nor while it is writing; but let him keep the paper many years by him, and after bring that paper close to the fire, the white letters will turn black, and become very legible: so the conscience of wicked persons is writing, whilst they are sinning, and they do not perceive it after it is written; they forget many of their old sins, yea they do not take notice of them as sins, whilst they are committing them; but when the last day is come, and Christ is come, who will be reveased from heaven in flaming fire, to take vengeance, upon them, and the Book of their Consciences shall be opened before the fire, then all the notes of conscience will be plain and easie to be read, and a ready confirmation conscience will give of all that is written in the Book of Gods remembrance: and O how sweet will the testimony of conscience be of good actions? how bitter will its records be of sins?
- The Third Book which will be opened, will be the Book of the Law: which requiring perfect and perpetual obedience, will condemn all both righteous and wicked, because all have sinned, and by the Law are cursed, Gal. 3. 10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them; but then an appeal will be made.
- The fourth Book which will be opened, is the book of the Gospel: and there the righeous will finde the merits of Christ, though they have had none of their own; they will finde exceeding great and precious promises of pardon, and salvation, and eternal happiness, which have been made to all them that did repent, and believe in Christ, and restifie the same by their sincere love to God, making choice of him for their chief good and happiness, and laying up their treasure in Heaven, and by their sincere obedience to his commands, and walking in heavens way; and then conscience will give in evidence, and Gods remembrance will confirm it, and the Spirit will witness it, and Christ himself will acknowledge it; that all his true disciples have had the qualifications, which have shown their interest in the promises; yea, the weakest of believers, whatever doubts and fears they have now, will then certainly know, and confidently plead these qualifications which they have had; they will be able to say, that they had true faith, though it were but weak; that they did truly lay hold on Christ, though it were with a trembling hand; that they had the faith of reliance and recumbance, though they had not the faith of assurance and strong confidence; that they did heartily repent and grieve for sin, though they had not that measure of godly sorrow, which they desired; that sin did not reign in them, though sometime it did rage and domineer: that they had chosen God for their chief good, above the whole world, and the byas of their wills was towards him; and that they had a sincere love to him, though they fell short in the fervency, which they desired to have; that they did walke and keep on in heavens way; & if sometimes they wandred, that they found their way again; if some times they stumbled, that they got up again; and this book of the Gospel, will give all true believers such acquittances as that they shall not come into condemnation, Iohn 3. 16. Whosoever believeth in the Son, shall not perish, but have everl•sting life. And Rom. 8. 1. There is no condemnation, to them which are in Christ Iesus, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. And the like.
But the unbelievers will get no benefit by this book; they may finde great and sweet promises, but not one promise in the whole Book of the Gospel belonging to them, because they do not belong to Christ; they lived and died in impenitency and unbelief, and neglect of Christ and salvation, and now they cannot finde one favourable word for them; and therefore they will be sent back to be tried by the Book of the Law, only the Gospel will double the condemnation of such as have not yielded up themselves unto its obedience.
- A Fifth Book which will be opened, will be the Book of Life: Where all the names of the Elect are enrolled, which when they read, how will they adore the riches of the free grace of God, in choosing them before the foundation of the world was laid; and all those whose names are not enrolled in this Book, shall be condemned and cast into the lake of Fire, Rev. 20. 12, 15.
- The fifth thing proposed, and the chiefest, is to speak more particularly, of Christs judging both the righteous and the wicked, at his second appearance.
And here I shall speak, 1. of their particular judgment.
- Of the execution of their sentence pronounced in judgement.
- Concerning the judgment of the righteous and the wicked.
THe judgment of the righteous will be first, and therefore I shall first treat of it, and here speak,
- Of the immediate antecedents to their judgment.
- Of the judgement it self.
- Concerning the immediate Antecedents to the judgment of the righteous.
- The first Antecedent to the righteous judgment will be their resurrection from the dead, 1 Thes. 4. 16. The dead in Christ shall rise first; when Christ descends from heaven, the souls of the righteous shall descend with him, 1 Thes. 4. 14. Them that sleep in Iesus will God bring with him. The spirits of all the just men and women made perfect shall then come down and finde out their own bodies, which have been sleeping in the bed of their graves, and they shall enter again into their old habitations; they went out of them, it may be with fear and trembling, with grief and sorrow, being unwilling to leave them behind, though they were so rotten and ruinous: but O with what joy will they return and enter again, when the building shall be repaired, when their bodies shall be raised by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, and healed of all infirmities, when they shall be made incorruptible and immortal! see 1 Cor. 15. 52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last Trump, for the Trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. And vers. 54. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory, then shall they triumph over death, and the grave, saying, vers. 55. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy Victory? The Lord Jesus will then make them victorious over this conquerour, vers. 57. Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory, through our Lord Iesus Christ. The parting of soul and body was never so sad unto any of the Saints at their death, as the meeting will be sweet at their resurrection; O how will the soul wonder at the sudden and strange metamorphosis of the body? when the soul left the body vile to putrify and corrupt in the grave, and shall finde it come forth more bright and glorious than gold, after it hath been refined in a Furnace; when the vile body shall be fashioned like unto Christs most glorious body, Phil. 3. 21. O how will the soul delight in the beauty, strength, and immortality, which then shal be put upon the body, whereby it will be more suited to its nature, and fitted for its operations, and participation in its glory? and how will the body delight in the wonderful glories and shining excellencies which the soul hath attained since its separation? If the love between the soul and the body were so great, when the body was so vile, and the soul so sinful, what will it be when both are glorified? If the conjunction between the soul and body were so sweet vvhen the body vvas so frail and subject to death, and the soul a spiritual and never-dying substance, vvhat vvill it be vvhen the body shall be made immortal, and in some sort spiritual? O with what pleasure will the body awake out of its long sleep and arise and shake off its dust, and put on its beautiful garments of immortality and glory? with what delight and joy will it first open its eyes upon those beautiful and glorious objects which vvill quickly present themselves to its vievv? Thus concerning the resurrection of the righteous bodies.
- The second Antecedent to the Iudgment of the righ•eous, will be their meeting with the Angels at their Graves mouth, Matth. 24. 31. He shall send his Angels with the great sound of a Trumpet, and they shall gather the Elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other: no sooner are they awakened and risen out of their Graves, but they are entertained by Angels, those holy and excellent creatures, who have such a dear love to them, and before have done many good offices for them, though, when before in the body, they did not perceive it, and were too low, and unfit for their acquaintance: but they will then know them, and be able to discern the beauty of those lovely spirits▪ who for so many years have been beholding the face of their Father in heaven, which will have cast such a lustre upon them that will be matter of their admiration; and these shall be part of their acquaintance and companions in glory: instead of Devils, those Angels of darkness, which used to assault, buffet and molest them, when in the body before; they shall now have Angels of light with them, and about them to joyn together in the Love and praise of the great Jehovah. The Angels will be sent to call them, and gather them, and we may •ationally imagine that they will salute them at their rising, and welcome them out of their graves: we read of the Angel Gabriel’s salutation of Mary, Luke 1. 28. Hail thou that ar• highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst Women; and the same Angels words to Daniel, chap. 9. 23. Thou art greatly beloved. Such salutations possibly the Angels may give, to the Saints at their resurrection. Arise you that are highly favoured of God, come forth yee that are greatly beloved; welcome, welcome yee happy ones; ye that are blessed amongst the children of men; your Lord is come down and stayeth• for you; he hath sent us to call you, and convey you into his presence, & bring you where he is, that you may see and share in his glory: O how will such words make their hearts to glow within them! how joyfull will such a message be unto them! O happy they that ever they were born! or rather that ever they were new born! O happy they that they should live, that they should be raised to see such a day as this will be! O what looks! what speeches! what joyes will they have, when they are entertained by the Angels?
- The third Antecedent to the Righteous Iudgment, will be their meeting one with another: Matth. 24. 31. The Angels will be sent to gather the Elect together, 2 Thes. 2. 1. I beseech you •rethren, by the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; the Saints will be all gathered together, and we shall be gathered with them, if we be found in that number; there we shall meet with Abraham, and Isaac, and Iacob, and all the holy Kings, and Prophets, and Apostles, and Martyrs, and holy Men, who have lived in all Generations; and all these in another hue than when they lived upon the Earth, they will arise like so many shining Suns ou• of the Earth; O how shall we be delighted with the •ight of such a glorious train and company, when we see the Image and picture of the Lord upon them, drawn so to the life? what sweet greetings shall we have, and mutual congratulations of our old acquaintance in the flesh, who were with us acquainted with the Lord? and is this the end of our hearing and fasting, and praying, and self-denial, and mortification, and the poor services we have done for the Lord? Is this the issue of our pains and labour? O happy we that ever we repented, and believed, and closed with Jesus Christ! O happy we that laid up our Treasure, and waited for our glory and happiness till this time.
- The fourth Antecedent is that the righteous shall be caught up together in the aire; all the righteous shall be caught up, they that are raised from the dead, and they that remain alive upon the Earth on that day, 1 Thess. 4. 16, 17. The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the aire: we read of the two witnesses, which were slain; after three dayes and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon the•r feet, and they heard a great voice from Heaven saying unto them, come up hither, and they ascended up to Heaven in a Cloud, &c. Rev. 11. 11, 12. In the morning of the resurrection, the spirit of life from God will enter into the bodies of all the Saints, and they will stand up, and possibly they may hear a voice from Christ in the aire. Come up hither: and then they will be caught up, and ascend into the aire to meet with their Lord; O what unexpressible pleasure and delight will they finde when they Feel themselves begin to move upwards, when they are leaving the Earth and wicked men, and so many glorious persons of them together ascending to meet their most glorious Lord!
- The fifth antecedent to the judgment, is their meeting with the Lord in the aire: 1 Thess. 4. 17. Then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the aire. We have spoken of the meeting of the soul and the body; of the meeting of the Saints with the Angels; of the meeting of the Saints with the Saints; all which meetings will be very delightful, but the meeting of the Saints with the Lord himself will be beyond all. O how sweet will the sound of Christ’s coming be unto them before they see him? When they hear the long expected shou•, and the sound of the last Trump! This, this will be musick indeed in their eares; Then, then they will lift up their heads with joy; and do but think how transporting the first glance of their eye will be upon the Lord Jesus Christ, when they see him yet afar off, cloathed with such brightness and beauty; never did their eye behold such an object before; they admired to see the Saints, and to see themselves so transformed; but how will they admire to see the Lord in such glory? if so be that some of his Disciples did gaze after him with wonder, when he was taken from them, and ascended into Heaven, Acts 1. 11. With what wonder will all his Disciples (most of which never saw him in the flesh, none of which saw him in such glory) then gaze upon him, when he shall come down from Heaven! Yee Men of Galilee, why stand yee gazing up into Heaven? Say the Angels. this same Iesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner, as yee have seen him go into Heaven; if you look and wonder now at his going, how will you look and wonder at his coming, which will be as surely, but far more gloriously? But when they are come neerer unto Christ, and have a fuller view of him, O vvhat thoughts! What affections! What joyes vvill there then fill their souls! O what workings, what beatings of heart! what transports and ravishment of spirit will they have! O how would they be overwhelmed with this sight, and utterly unable to bear it, if they were not strengthened beyond their present capacity! And is this the Saviour and Redeemer of the world? O glorious Son of righteousness! Did this most excellent Person, who thus appears in the brightness of his Fathers glory, and is now come down from his glorious habitation, with such a glorious train of Angels, once vouchsafe to dwell with men, and vaile his glory in the flesh! Did this eternal Son of God stoop so low, as to take upon him our nature, yea to take upon him the forme of a Servant! Did he live in such meanness and obscurity; and indure, such hardship, contradiction, reproach and injury, when he was upon the earth! O infinite condescention! Did this Lord of life and glory, in the dayes of his flesh so weep, and pray, and cry; sweat, and bleed, and die, though with such pain, anguish, and disgrace; yet with such willingness and patience, in our steads, that he might redeem us from sin, and death, and wrath to come; that we might not perish, but have overlasting life? O wonderful, uncon•eivable love! What, so glorious a Person to be made man! to be made sin! to be made a curse! to do such things! to suffer such things! for such mean, vile cursed •inners as we, that we might be blessed and happy with him; O surpassing superlative kindness! Is this he who made choice of us, when he chose so few, that called us when the most were passed by, that pitcht his love upon us, when there was no attractive in us, nothing to move him, but his own bowels, that revealed his secrets to us, when he hid them from the wise and prudent, that brought us nigh when we were afar off▪ and made us fellow-Citizens, and fellow-heirs with the Saints, and of the houshold of God, who were by nature children of wrath, even as others? O astonishing free grace! Is this he who cloathed us when we were naked, even with the robes of his own righteousness? that washed us when we were defiled, even in the fountain of his own blood? that cheared us when we were troubled, even with the comforts of his own Spirit? that strengthned us when we were weak, even with his might and glorious power in our inner man? was it from this Person that we received our pardon, our peace, our supports, our graces, our encouragements, and all the sweet refreshments we have found in Ordinances?
Is this the Advocate whom we made choice of, relied, and trusted upon f•r life and salvation? Is this the Master whom we followed, and whose work we were imployed about? Is this the Captain whose colours we wore, and under whose banner we fought? Is this the Lord whom we obeyed! the friend, the husband whom we loved? and is he so glorious! O how will the Saints be wrapt up with admiration and joy! how will they be all in a flame of burning love and affection, when they come to behold the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and view him in such glory, as then he will be decked withall? when they come to see him face to face, who hath such loveliness in his face, and such love in his heart unto them. It is said, 1 Pet. 1. 8. whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him, yet believing ye rejoyce with joy unspeakab•e and full of glory.
If so be that the Saints do now love Christ, whom they never saw, only have heard of, and bel•eved the report of the word; how will they love him when they have this sight of him, and see a thousandfold more beauty in him than was reported, or could be imagined? if so be that now sometimes they rejoyce, with glorious and unspeakable joy in believing, what will they do when they come to see him in his glory? If they can now rejoyce in tribulations, and take pleasure▪ in the cross and reproach of Christ, what will they finde in their masters joy, and the Crown which he now comes to put upon their heads? O how glad will they be that they have been counted worthy to suffer any thing for such a Saviour? It will be a joyful time indeed unto the Saints when they are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And the joy of Christ will be no less, to meet with them; O with what an eye will he view them, when they are arising and ascending with so much of his beauty and lustre upon them▪ none can conceive the love and delight which the Lord Jesus will take in them at that day: he will look upon them as those who were beloved by the Father and himself from all eternity; as those who fetcht him out of heaven before to redeem them, and now to glorifie them; he will look upon them as the travel of his soul; as the price of his blood; he will look upon them as his Jewels; as spoils taken out of the hands of his enemies; he will look upon them as plants grown up unto perfection; as servants who have done their work; as those who have kept up his honour in the world; he will look upon them as members of his body; he will look upon them as his dearest spouse, and most beautiful bride, who now cometh to be joyned to him more neerly, and to live with him for ever. O the love and joy of Christ at this meeting! If so be that Christ so dearly loved his Spouse, and could delight in her too, when she was black and sooty, when her clothes were spotted, and stained, when her affections were weak, low, and inconstant; how will he love and rejoyce in her when she is made perfectly like to himself, and so beautiful with his comeliness? when her stains are all washed off, and she is presented before him without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or any such thing? when she shall be arrayed in white, and hath put on her shining garments, and appear so lovely, and her love shall be so high, and full, and strong, and flaming? Never did Lovers meet with such delight, & joy on their wedding-day, as Christ and his Spouse will meet at the day of his second appearance; O the sweet smiles the Saints will see in the face of Christ! Smiles upon them, such glances of love will sparkle forth from his eyes, as will ravish their hearts; O the sweet words they will hear! the welcome he will give them when they first meet! when they are come, he will place them at his right hand. So much concerning the more immediate Antecedents of the judgment of the righteous.
- THe second thing is to speak concerning the Judgment it self, of the righteous. An• there are two things the Scripture speaks of, which Christ will do at his second appearance, in the judgment of the righteous.
- He will take an account of them.
- He will pronounce the sentence upon them.
- Christ will take an account of the righteous Rom. 4. 10, 12. We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, and every one of us shall give an account of himself unto God; though the righteous shall not be brought to condemnation, yet they shall be brought into judgment, which will be for their masters honour and their own; especially of those who can give a good account of the Talents their Lord hath intrusted them withall.
I know it is a question amongst Divines, whether the sins of Gods people will be mentioned, and made manifest at the last day of judgment; I shall not determine the question, since the Scripture is not so plain; Possibly the Lord having pardoned them, covered them, blotted them out of the book of his remembrance, he will not mention them on that day; but sure I am if they should be mentioned, it will not be to their disgrace and grief, but to their more abundant jo• in the Lord, who hath forgiven them: If they should read their sins in the book of Gods remembrance, they will finde them, like so many debts crossed out with the red lines of Christs blood: If the Devil should be permitted to accuse them at that time, who is now the accuse• of the Brethren, and rip up their secret faults; the Lord himself will stand up and plead for them; he will make known the sufficient value of his merits for their ransome, and publiquely acquit them from all guilt and condemnation; who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods elect, it is God that justifieth? who is he that shall condemn? it is Christ that died for them. Rom. 8. 33, 34.
But these four things Christ will take an account of, in the judgement of the righteous.
- He will take an account of their graces. The vessels of the Virgins will be lookt into, what Oile they have go•; the hearts of the Saints will be lookt into, what graces they have obtained. Christ will then take notice what godly sorrow they have had for sin, their secret weeping and mourning will then be made manifest; he will take notice what humility and meekness, what self-denial and patience they have had; especially what faith, and love; and hope, and spiritual joy, they have had, and all their raised affections towards himself, and heavenly things, in his ordinances; and his judgment of grace will not be according to the appearance and show which hath been, but according to truth; and then the Saints shall be ranked, not according to their esteem and dignity in the world, but according to the measure of the graces they have attained.
- Christ will take an account of the improvement of the talents of graces and gifts, and opportunities of service which he hath entrusted them withall. Mat. 25. 19. and Christ will then take chief notice of those which have been most industrious and faithful, and instrumental for doing most good, and bringing most glory to his name; and though all shall have a full reward, that are found truly faithful, and shall enter into their masters joy; yet they shall have a more full reward, and be capable of more joy and glory than the other.
- And especially, he will take an account of their works of mercy, Matth. 25. 35, 36. I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye cloathed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me, &c.
It will even astonish and confound the righteous, to hear such language as this from the Lord Jesus Christ, when he appears in such glory, they will be ready to question, when he was in any want, and received relief at their hands: When saw we thee a hungry, or a thirst, or naked, and ministred any help? we received all from thee, but we could give nothing to thee: thou didst relieve us, and redeem us out of the deepest poverty and misery in which we were sunk, and should have perished without thy help; but what relief hadst thou from us? Then the King will answer and say unto them, v. 40. Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. At such a time, and such a time, the poor came to you for relief, making use of my name, whose backs for my sake you cloathed, and whose bellies you refreshed, and whose necessities you supplied; that was done unto me; though they were poor, they were my brethren; some of my servants were brought into straights for conscience sake, and you received them, or sent help to them; you received me then, and gave help to me; that money was not thrown away, it was given to me, and I am come to give you a thousandfold reward. Were this truth more effectually believed, what a forwardness would there be in Christians to works of mercy? Surely they would look upon that part of their estate as best improved, which in such works is bestowed. Christ doth not mention any other use which they put their money unto, which if worthy to be compared▪ would be made mention of; he doth not speak of so much laid out in building, so much laid out in cloathing, so much laid out for food; so much laid up in portions for children; all this the wicked can do; but so much laid out to the poor, and me in them, which is the only part you have laid up for your selves; and which I am now come to return unto you with usury.
- Christ will take an account of the afflictions which the righteous have endured; especially, of their sufferings for his sake; such reproaches, such losses, imprisonments, banishments, buffetings; but if they have suffered death, with what honour will this be made mention of? with what great esteem will he receive and speak unto them, which have come out of great tribulation? and O the joy in this morning, after the tears of the night! then they will finde that their light affliction which they have endured for a moment, hath wrought for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Cor. 4. 17.
- The second thing in Christs judegment of the Saints, is the Sentence which he will pronounce upon them; which will be a most gracious invitation of them to take possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, which he hath prepared for them, Matth. 25. 34. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared from you, from the foundation of the world.
All Christs invitations in Scripture are very sweet. Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you Rest, Matth, 11. 28. How sweet is this to a troubled conscience, and an oppressed spirit, ready to sinke under the burden of sin? Ho every one that thirsteth, come to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Isa. 55. 1. O what sweet words are these to those which are parched, and pained, and ready to die with spiritual thirst, and can finde nothing in the creatures which can give them any satisfaction or ease? But of all the words that ever Christ did speak, of all the invitations that ever Christ did make, this will be the sweetest, which he will give to his Disciples at the last day, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the World. Come ye blessed and happy ones, however accounted miserable ones by men, yet blessed of my Father, Come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you• fr•m the foundation of the World: Take possession of your eternal inheritance; Come enter into the Kingdom of glory, which the father hath chosen you unto, and called you unto, and which I have purchased, and now fitted and made ready for you: Come along with me, and I will shew you my glory; and where I am, there ye shall be also. Come along with me into Heaven, and ye shall live and reign with me for ever and ever. Come along, and enter now into your Masters joy; come and I will shew you the Father, and bring you into his house and presence, where there is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore. And now Beloved, think with your selves, what joyes! what exultations! what clapping of hands! what shou•ings! what Hallelujahs! what Hosannahs! what triumphing acclamations the Saints will make upon the hearing of these words. But here words fail▪ conceptions fall short, who can utter what the affections, and behaviour of the righteous will be, when they have their sentence, and hear such sweet, and gracious words from the mouth of their Judge and Redeemer?
Thus concerning the Judgment of the righteous.
- COncerning the judgment of the wicked, at the second appearance of Jesus Christ; in treating hereon, I shall as in the judgment of the righteous, speak,
- Of the immediate antecedents.
- Of the Iudgment it self.
- The immediate Antecedents of the judgment of the wicked will be,
- The Resurrection of their Bodies from the grave; all the wicked that are dead shall be raised, though not so soon, yet as certainly as the righteous, Ioh. 5. 28, 29. The hour cometh, that all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, (not only) they that have done good shall come forth to the Resurrection of life, (but also) they that have done evil, to the resurrection of demnation. When the wicked die, their bodies are clapt up in the Prison of the Grave, where they rot and putrifie under the chains of death, which are laid upon them▪ and their souls are shut down into the Prison of Hell, where they are bound up in chains of darkness, and wo, and reserved unto the judgment of the great day; when the Lord Jesus shal appear to judge the World, he will bring the keys of death and hell along with him, and open both these Prison doors, not to give liberty and releas• to the Prisoners; but as Prisons are opened at Assizes, to bring them forth unto Judgment; he will open the Prison of Hell, and all the souls of the wicked shall come forth like so many Locusts out of the bottomless Pit; and he will open the Prison of the Grave, and all their bodies shall creep like so many ugly •oades out of the Earth; and then soul and body shall be joyned together again, and this meeting will be sad, beyond expression; the meeting of the souls and bodies of the righteou• will not be more joyful, than the meeting of the souls and bodies of the wicked will be doleful; possibly some of the wicked had no bands in their death, and their souls went forth of their bodies without much pain or fear; but their entrance into their bodies again, will be with unexpressible horr•ur; and if some of the wicked had their consciences awakened at death, and they lay down with terrour; when they awake and rise again from the dead, it will be with far greater terrour. The old World dyed in a fright, with the deluge of Water, which over-whelmed them; Corah, Dathan, and Aliram, with their Company, died in a fright at the cleaving and opening of the Earths mouth, which swallowed them up; Iudas and other despairing souls died in a fright, at the apprehensions of the open mouth of Hell, ready to receive their guilty spirits; but none of the wicked could go forth of their bodies in such a fright as they will enter into them again at the last day: the damned souls have been lying in Hell many years, full of anguish in their separation, and they know that their anguish will be encreased by the torment of their bodies in their union, and no wonder if they be exceedingly unwilling and fearful to enter into their old lodging; their bodies have been sleeping all this while in the dust, and have felt no pain at all; and O how unwelcome a guest will their souls then be? never was death so terrible unto them, as life will be at that day; they had rather sleep still in their grave, and continue in their rottenness and corruption; they had rather lie hid for ever in the dust of oblivion, or be quite annihilated like beasts, than to arise again unto such torments, as now they must undergo; but they must arise willing or unwilling; It is said that the vile bodies of the righteous shall at the last day be fashioned like unto Christs most glorious body, Phil. 3. 21. They shall be made like unto Christs body in beauty and glory; but the bodies of the wicked will have another hue and fashion; if it were possible to fashion bodies like Devils, those impure and foul spirits, such spiritual bodies the wicked should have; be sure their bodies shall have no glory put upon them; but as they lay down vile bodies, they shall rise up far more vile; they lay down in dishonour, and they shall be raised in far greater dishonour; indeed they will be raised incorruptible and immortal; but this will not be for their glory, but that they may be capable of the greater and longer torment and misery; their bodies will be so far from being made beautiful like unto Christ, that I believe they will not regain that natural beauty which they had here upon the Earth; now some of them ou•-shine Gods own Children (whose chief beauty lies inward) in external comeliness; then none but the bodies of Gods children will shine; the bodies of the wicked most probable will be swarthy, black, ugly, monstrous bodies; if there be a ghastliness upon the bodies of the most beautifull, when they are dead, what a ghastliness will there be upon the bodies of all the wicked, when the second death shall seize upon them? were their bodies never so beautiful in themselves, yet their features would quickly be altered by the horrible passions of their minde; the blackness and dread of the soul would quickly appear in their countenance; besides the impressions which the Fire of Hell will have upon them. The soul will finde nothing in the body which will give it any delight or ease, or in the least contribute unto the asswagement of its anguish; it will return into the body as into a Prison, or Dungeon, where there is no pleasure to be found: and if the body be black, how black will the soul be, after so long abode with foul Devils in the lower Regions of darknesse? And when such foul souls, and such vile bodies meet, what a meeting! what a greeting will there be! we may fancy a kinde of language to be between them, at that day. The soul to the body, Come out of thy hole thou filthy dunghil flesh, for the pampering and pleasing of whom, I have lost my self for ever; who hast stollen away my time, and thoughts, and heart from God, and Christ, and Heavenly things, to feed, and cloath, and cherish thee, and make provision to satisfy thy base deceitful lusts, when I should have been making provision for thine and mine everlasting happiness. Awake and come forth of the dust, thou bewitching dirty flesh, who didst lull me asleep so long in thy pleasing chains, until thou didst suddenly open thy doores and thrust me out, where I was awakened in torments •efore I was aware, now I must come into thy doores again, that thou maist share and taste the bitter issue of sinful pleasures and delights. And O how will the body be affrighted, so soon as the soul is entered! never did the soul taste so much of the bodies delights, as the body will then feel of the souls anguish. The body to the soul, And hast thou found me out O my enemy? Couldst not thou have let me alone to lye still at rest in this sweet sleep? hast thou used me as a slave, and employed all my members as servants of iniquity, and unrighteousness, and art thou come now to torment me! and is this the fruit of all the pleasures we have taken together? shouldst not thou have been more wise, and provided better for thy self and me? O what cries and shreeks will the tongue give forth, so soon as it hath recovered its use! O what fearful amazing sights will there appear before the eyes, so soon as they are opened, when they first peep out of the Grave, and sinners see Heaven and Earth on Fire about them, and Christ coming in •laming Fire, to take vengeance upon them? O how dreadful will the shout, and the voice of the Arch-angel, and the sound of the last Trumpet summoning them to judgment be unto the eares? O how will every joynt and member of the bodies of the wicked tremble, when they are raised again at the last day?
- The second Antecedent to the judgment of the wicked, will be their meeting with Devils; the righteous will meet with Angels to welcome them out of their Graves; the wicked will meet with Devils to entertain them at their resurrection; and then they will not appear unto them, like Angels of light, as sometimes here they have done; but like foul Angels of darkness, as they ever were since their first fall; they will not then entertain the wicked with pleasing baits, and sweet alluring temptations, and pretend to be their friends, who consult their good and satisfaction, beyond God himself, the chief good of mankind; as they did when their abode was in the world before: but they will spit forth their venome, and malice, then, in their faces; possibly they may buffet their bodies, and lay painful strokes upon them; surely they will terrify their soules for those sins which they have drawn them unto the commission of; O hovv vvill they mock, and deride their folly, and madness for opening their eares to their vvhispers, for opening their heart so readily, vvhen they have knockt at the door, and entised them unto sin? then the damned will perceive that the Devils design vvas their ruine and misery, vvhen the pretence and show was consultation for their good and happiness; that he laboured to please and delight them, not out of love, but malice, that he might undo them; that he lull’d them asleep, that they might not perceive their misery, till it was too late; that poison was in his sweetest baits; and that their softest pleasures were Sathans silken cords, by which he was dravving them unto endless wo and bitterness; then they vvill perceive hovv the Prince of Darkness hath blinded their eyes, and deluded them; hovv the old Serpent hath beguiled them through his subtilty, and deceived them; how they have been gull’d of a Crown and Kingdome they had the proffers of, and vvere in a capacity to obtain; then they will perceive whose slaves they have been, whilst they were serving divers lusts; that the Devil was their Lord and Master, and led them captive at his will; and now they will meet with their Masters, whom they have served, unto their terrour and amazement; how will they be affrighted at the apparition of so many Devils about them? When they shall throw into their thoughts such hideous apprehensions, and lash their spirits with horrible scourges, when they shall seize upon their bodies, and tear them, and drag them to the Judgment-seat, and there is none to rescue and deliver them.
- The third Antecedent to the judgment of the wicked, will be their meeting one with another; as the Elect, so all the reprobates will be gathered together into one company; O what an innumerable company of Rebels, and Traytors, and Villains, will then be got together! how fiercely and horribly will they look one upon another? and if they speak, what language of Hell will there issue forth of their lips? they may meet with their old companions and fellow-sinners, but it will not be like such as they now call meetings of good-fellowship, when they get together in a Tavern and Ale-house, or some house of wickedness, to drink, and sing, and daunce, and sin, and make merry in the pleasing of their flesh; they shall not then have Ale, and Wine, and Women, and Musick, or any incentives to mirth and sensual pleasures; the last meeting will be no merry meeting, but sad and dismal; the pleasing affections which they formerly had to their friends will be changed; their love will be turned into hatred; and the joy they have found in them will be turned into grief and anger; O the angry countenances the wicked will have on that day! it is said, the Nations shall be angry; O the angry speeches! how will they rage and storm at one another? especially at those who have drawn them into sin, how will they curse and ban one another? O the horrible noise that▪ will be amongst the damned crew when they are got together! It may be from words they fall to blows, and tear one anothers •air, and spurn at one anothers bellies, and bite one anothers flesh, and even claw out one anothers eyes; we cannot conjecture so much of the mi•ery of the wicked, as will be on that day.
- The wicked that are alive on the earth at the •econd appearance of Christ, shall see the righteous •hat are dead, arise out of their graves with mar•ellous beauty and joy; and those which are alive wonderfully changed into the likeness and fashi•n of Christ; and all of them suddenly caught •p together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the •ir; which •ight will be fearful and amazing to •hem, when they perceive themselves to be left •ehind. We read Rev. 11. 11, 12. When the two witnesses after they had lain dead for some time •ad the spirit of life put into them, and they stood •pon their feet, and were called up, and ascended •p into Heaven; it is said their enemies beheld •hem, and great fear fell upon them: so when all •he witnesses and servants of the Lord shall have 〈◊〉 spirit of life put into them, and stand upon ••eir feet, and be called up, and caught up in the ••ouds to meet the Lord; their enemies, and the •icked on the earth will behold them, and great ••ar will fall upon them. But, O the fear and ••ouble which will be upon the spirits of those •nbelieving Christ-less, grace-less sinners, whose 〈◊〉 de shall at that day be amongst the believers, •nd some of them linked in the nearest relations 〈◊〉 them, when their believing relations shall be •aught away from them, and carried up into the air, with the rest of the glorious train of Saints, when themselves shall remain below upon the earth; It is said, that at the time of Christ coming, Luke 17. 34, 35, 36. Two men shall be in one bed, the one shall be taken, the other left; two women shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken and the other left; two men shall be together in the field, the one shall be taken the other left. Friends will be together at that day as at other times, not expecting Christs comming, and it may be less expecting it than before they did; some will be in fields together, some in houses together, some will be in beds together, some will be in Churches together, it may be Ministers preaching, and people hearing, as you are hearing me this day.
Suppose that the heavens should just now open and you should hear the sound of the last Trumpet, and Jesus Christ should descend with a glorious train of Angels into the air; then all yo• that are believers, and have got an interest i• Christ, would immediately be caught up in th• clouds, to meet with the Lord: but all you tha• are impenitent and unbelievers, would be left be¦hind: and think what terrour would fall upon you to see us caught away from you; it may be som• of you might come hanging about me and other• when you see us arrayed in shining garments, an• suddenly changed into the glorious likeness 〈◊〉 our Lord, and called by the Angels to go up 〈◊〉 him: O take us up along with you! what, wi•• you leave us behind! Alas what can I do for 〈◊〉 then; I must say, I told you of this time and this before; but you did not seriously regard it, so as to pr•pare; I called you often to repentance, and preach•• Iesus Christ to you, and shewed you the way of sa••vation; but you would not accept of him, ye refused him, and lived in the neglect of your own salvation. I told you, if you did not forsake such and such sins, they would be your ruine; and yet you would not be perswaded to leave them. I forewarned you of the miseries which would come upon you at Christs coming, but you would not take warning.
Fain would I have had you all up along with me, to meet my Lord; and if I could have been instrumental to convert, and turn you unto him, my joy and crown would have been the greater: O how glad should I have been of your companie in this Tri•mph: some did hearken and believe; some did awaken when they were called, and repent, and reform their lives: some were wise, and did fore-think and make provision for this day; and now see how they shine; see the mirth and joy in their countenances; see the issue and fruit of their tears, and self-denial, of their faith, and love, and holy walking. Now, now, we are going together to our Lord, whom we have sought, and served, and trusted for our happiness: and O that you would have hearkned, and been perswaded to have joined your selves to our number, that we might have gone together; O that you would have joined your selves to our Lord, and have had fellowship with them who hed fellowship with the Father, and his Son Iesus Christ, and broken •ff your fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and workers of iniquity; but you would go on in the broad way, because it was more easie; the way to heaven was too narrow and difficult for you: if profession would have been enough, and external joyning you selves to Gods people would have brought you to heaven, this some of you could do with readiness sufficient; but when you must have a power as well as a form, and when you must mourn for sin, crucifie the flesh, mortifie the deeds of the body, deny your selves, take up the cross, be so strict in your lives, make conscience of thoughts, words, and all your actions, this you could not away with: you could brook to be religious sometimes by the by, and when you had nothing else to do; but to make it your business to be religious, you could not endure: you could put on a forme and outward vizard of godliness on the Sabbath daies; but to be religious on the week daies, and every day, to be holy in all manner of conversation, this was too much, and a hard saying which you could not bear: and if you did not like the terms of the Gospel, and would be the servants of the Devil, whilst you seemed to be the servants of Christ; and go on covertly in the way to Hell, whilst you seemed to be going in the way to Heaven; what can I do for you now? I thought you would have shined and gone with us, when you shined so much in profession; and is your Lamp now gone cut, when the Bridegroom is come? •las! who can supply you now with Oyle? I have little enough for my self, and none to spare for you; and do you ask me for Oyle? alas! if I had enough I could not part with it, and put any into your vessels •t Now, now it is too late, I came with Oyle often to sell from my Lord and Master, and you might have had it for nothing; you might have bought it without money, and without price; but then you slighted and refused all pr•ffers of grace, which were made; you valued your lusts, which you must have parted withall 〈◊〉 it, at a higher rate; you refused the Oile altogether, or at le•st took no more than would light your Lamps; you would not receive any into the vessels of your hearts: and do you think I can supply you with Oyle now? S•me of you had convictions once in the time of the Plague, when death raged amongst you, and ••me good worke was beginning then in you; and is 〈…〉 off, and come to nothing, and dwindled into an empty profession? Alas? what shall I do for you now? You know I ventured my life for you, to preach to you, when the arrows were flying so thick about you; I ventured my liberty for you, my health for you, and was often spent for you, and amongst you, that I might be instrumentall to call and save you: but when the thunder of Iudgments was a little over, and out of hearing, you quickly dropt asleep, and the voice of preaching could not enter your ears and awaken you: Alas! why do you look upon me now with such rufull countenances, and stand with such trembling joints, and speak so earnestly unto me, as if something might yet be done for you, and are loath to let me go from your company? Alas! what can I do for you now? should I stay and preach unto you again, and call, and invite you to Iesus Christ, and open the treasures of the Gospel, and now you will open your ears, and hearts to receive? Alas! now the mysterie of God is finished, the treasures of the Gospel are shut up, and sealed, and the day of grace is quite spend and gone, and cannot be recalled; could not you have opened before, when you know I knocked often, and hard, in my Masters name for entertainment? I called, but ye refused; I stretched out my hand, and lifted up my voice like a Trumpt; but you did not regard and follow the counsels which were given unto you; and now my preaching work is done for ever. Should I sty and pray with you, and for you, that God would pardon your sins, or defer your judgment but a little while, if it were but for a week, or a day, that you might prepare your accounts, and O how presently would you make your peace with God, how readily would you accept of Christ on any terms; do any thing, suffer any thing, denie self, take up cr•sse; O how diligent would you be in the service of God, and resist Sathan, and take heed of sin; Alas! poor souls all these desires are too late: I have prayed with you, and for you, and you have had warning and time ro prepare your accounts, and have been called to these duties before; but now the Oath is sworn by him that liveth for ever and ever, that time shall be no longer; now the ear of God is shut, and no prayer can enter.
Now Christ is come down from the mercy Seat; from the right hand of the Father, where he made intercession; and the Throne of Grace is now turned into a Iudgment Seat; now there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, nothing but a fearfull looking for o• judgment to devour the wicked. Alas! why do you hang about me with teares and weeping? what can I do for you now? can I carry you all up with me in my armes? would not the load be too great for me? and if all of us together could hand and help some of you up into the aire with us, and bring you into the presence of our dear and glorious Redeemer; With what confidence could you stand before him? With what face could you look upon him, when you are so black, and •ilthy, and have such guilt upon your consciences? Would not your looks betray you to be none of our number? Would not your black and trembling joynts speak what you are? and would not Christ then frown you away from our company? and then we must of necessity let you fall from on high amongst your fellow hypocrites and unbelievers. Could we carry you up with us? if you should lay hold on us, would not the Angels snatch us out of your armes? or would not Devils tear you away from us? And could I rescue any of you out of Sathans hands, when he comes to seize upon his own? Alas! what can I do f•r you at this time? I must away, and be gone, and bid you now adieu for ever; The Saints are all risen, and have put on their glorious attire, and we are called for; It is your own faults that you did not help to fill up this number; and when such of us as belong to Christ should be caught up in the clouds; O how dreadful would it be for you, and all that should be found in the number of them that are left?
- The fifth and most dreadful Antecedent to the Iudgment of the wicked, will be their sight of the Lord Iesus Christ himself: who will be revealed from Heaven, at that day, in flaming Fire, to take vengeance upon them. 2 Thess. 1. 7, 8. The sight of their judge will affright them: Rev. 1. 7. Behold he cometh with Clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him, and all kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of him: even so, Amen. Every eye shall see him, not only the righteous, but also the wicked; and they also that pierced him, that is, the Jewes which crucified him, as he saith, Matth. 26. 64. Hereafter shall yee see the Son of Man, sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the Clouds of Heaven. O how fearfull will the sight of Jesus Christ be to Iudas, that betrayed them, unto the Officers that took him, unto the base Servant that smo•e him with the palm of his hand; unto the people that mocked and spit upon him, unto the Pharisees that accused him, unto Pilate that scourged and condemned him, unto Herod that scorn’d him, unto the Souldiers that mocked and crucified him, unto the Priests that stirred up the People and Pilate against him, and in the midst of his agony and anguish railed on him? though they did not see him come down from the cross, yet when they see him come down from heaven, they will believe that he was the Messias; and O how will this sight terrify them? then they will smite their breasts indeed, and be filled with horrour, when they perceive that the same Jesus was the Son of God, and is now the Judge of the World, and is come to call them before his Bar, who then did stand before theirs; the High Priest that rent his cloathes, when Christ call’d himself the Son of God, will be ready to rend himself in pieces for not acknowledging it; and with what face will Iudas look his Master in the face, when he sees him come in such glory! and if some Souldiers that kept Christs Sepulchre, did so shake, and become like dead men at Christs resurrection, when they saw the Angel, whose countenance was like lightning, and raiment white as Snow, come and roll away the Stone from before the door thereof: Matth. 28. 2, 3, 4. O how will they all that had a hand in his death, quake and tremble, when they see the Lord Jesus Christ himself come with such Power and Glory, and all the Holy Angels with him, to call them to Judgment? Further it is said that all the kindreds of the Earth shall wail because of him, so Matth. 24. 30. All the Tribes of the Earth shall mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming in the Clouds of Heaven; this we are to understand of the wicked kindreds and tribes of the Earth; the sight of Christ will be matter of the greatest Joy unto his Disciples, but of the greatest sorrow unto the wicked World; the mourning of the wicked, see how it is set forth, Rev. 6. 15, 16, 17. And the Kings of the Earth, and the great Men, and the rich Men, and the chief Captains, and the mighty Men, and every Bond-man, and every free-man hid themselves in the Dens, and in the Rocks▪ and in the Mountains. And said to the Rocks, and to the Mountains, f•ll on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lawb, for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Then profane and wicked Kings, who would not submit unto the Government of Christ, but brake his bands asunder, and cast away his cords from them, shall see this King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, come down from heaven to judge them, and O with what fear would they then run and hide themselves in Dens, or under some great Rocks and Mountains, if they could, from the face of him who will then sit upon the Throne of Judgment! and with what trembling will they stand amongst the meanest of their subjects, devested of all their power and dignity? then the Nobles and great Men of the Earth, who having been lifted up above the ordinary degree of men, have lifted up their hearts also with pride and haughtiness beyond measure, and let loose the reigns unto licentiousness, and wallowed in filthy delights and pleasures, shall see the Son of Man coming in the Clouds; and O how will their proud hearts then be brought down, and their haughtiness laid low, and their sweet sinful delights be turned into bitter gall and wormwood! then they will cry to the Rocks to cover them, and the Mountains to hide them: if they can finde any such place to receive them in this terrible day. Then the chief Captains and mighty Men, who employed their force and strength under the banner of the Devil, and endeavoured to promote the interest of his Kingdome in the World, and rebelled against the Lord of Hosts, shall see the Heavens opened, and this mighty Captain come down with the Armies of Heaven attending upon him in white, to execute vengeance upon them, and then their courage will fail them, and the wrath of the Lamb will make them tremble, and they would creep into a Rock, or any hole to hide them; then the rich men who have placed their hearts and confidence in their riches; especially those who have heaped up riches by injustice and unrighteous practises shall see the Son of Man coming against them, and weep and howl for the miseries which are coming upon them; and their riches will be so far from profiting them in the day of wrath, that they will be witnesses to accuse them a•d aggravate their condemnation; Then every Bond-man and every Free-man that are slaves to the Devil and their own lusts, shall see the Son of Man coming to judge them, and be in the number of the mourners, crying to the Mountains to fall on them. Then there will be distress upon all Nations, and great perplexity, Sea waves roaring, and Mens hearts failing them, for fear, when they are looking up into the Clouds, and see the Son of Man is come down, and his Throne is prepared for judgment. The Heathen Nations will mourn to see him, especially the wicked who have had the name of Christians upon them, and have sat under the light of the Gospel; O how will their faces be filled with shame and confusion, and their hearts with terrour and astonishment, when they behold the face of the Lord Jesus Christ shining with such beauty and glory, but looking on them with anger and disdain? And is this glorious King that Iesus Christ whom we heard so much spoken of when we lived upon the Earth? Was he indeed so great whose commands we disobeyed, whose threatnings we slighted, whose grace we abused, and whose wrath we dis-regarded? Was it so excellent a person, who was described and set forth to us by Ministers in such superlative expressions, all which he exceeds? and yet could we see no form, nor comeliness in him, nothing for which we should desire him? Was this the Saviour that was preached to us, and proffered to us? This the Iesus Christ that we were pressed so frequently and so earnestly to get an interest in, with so many powerfull arguments, and yet could not be moved and perswaded? Was it this Person that did call us, and stretch forth his hand all the day long to us, that did wooe us, and intreat us by his messengers, to accept of parden, and grace, and salvation, and knock at the door of our hearts again and again, by his Word and Spirit for entertainment? and did we shut our ear and our heart against him, and refuse all his gracious tenders which were made unto us? What, did we hearken to the Devil when he tempted us to sin, that he might destroy us; and not hearken to Christ, who would have perswaded us to faith and obedience, that he might save us? Could we harbour base lusts, which were like so many vipers in our bosoms, and give no entertainment to Iesus Christ, who would have brought riches and glory with him? O what fools & mad men and women have we been! How have our cursed hearts deceived us, and the devil deluded us? How have we been bewitched, to prefer the v•nities of the World, and the satisfaction of the desires of our flesh, before an interest in such a Saviour? Wo! wo! wo! be unto us, for now the great day of the Lord is come, and who is able to stand? This is the fifth Antecedent to the judgment of the wicked▪ they shall see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds, and be summoned to the bar, and plaeed at his left hand; of which before.
- The sixth Antecedent will be their seeing the Iudgment, and hearing the Sentence of the righteous, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the World. And oh how will they grind and gnash their teeth, and their hearts be ready even to burst with envy and indignation, to see those poor mean Christians, whom some of them have separated from their company, and accounted as the off•scouring of the earth, and not worthy to set with the dogs of their flock, exalted to such dignity, shining in such glory, and adjudged to such happiness, when themselves are lookt upon with such contempt, and stand waiting for their judgment and final Doom to Torments and eternal misery. These are the Antecedents of the Judgment of the wicked.
- COncerning the Judgment of the wicked it self. I shall here
- The Iudge.
- The Assessors.
- The Malefactors.
- The Crime.
- The Accusers and Winesses.
- The Conviction.
- The Sentence.
- . The Iudge of the wicked, as of the righteous, will be the Lord Iesus Christ. It is said, Rom. 3. 6. God shall judge the World; but it will be God in Christ, and God by Christ, Act. 17. 31. God was in Christ reconciling the world of the elect unto himself, 2 Cor. 5. 19. and God in Christ will judge and condemn the world of the Reprobates. The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, Joh. 5. 22. and he hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man, v. 27. The same Jesus whom the wicked would not submit unto, and take for their King, to rule over them; they must submit unto, and have for their Judge to examine and condemn them. The properties of this Judge are worthy here of our observation.
- Christ will be a most glorious Judge: Never was there such a Judge seen on the earth: It will be the greatest Judgment; there will be a general Assize of the whole world; and Christ will be the greatest Judge; the greatest for dignity, and glory that ever eye did behold. Christ will be most glorious, in regard of his person; he will appear to be the Prince and Lord of glory; and be admired not only by the Saints, but also by the wicked, amongst whom, before they saw him, he was despised. The despisers shall behold the lustre of their Judge, and wonder, and perish, as it is said in another case, Act. 13. 41. Christ will be most glorious in regard of his retinue; all the holy Angels, those glorious Spirits who are about the Throne of God, shall attend upon him, Matth. 25. 31. When the Son of Man cometh in his glory, and all his holy Angels with him; yea, all the holy Saints also, shall attend upon him in the judgment of the wicked, Iude 14. 15. Behold the Lord will come with ten thousand of his Saints to execure judgment upon all the ungodly, &c. Yea, he will come with all his Saints, 1 Thes. 3. 13. The whole innumerable company of Saints shall attend upon Christ in white shining garments, with bodies like unto Christ, more beautiful and glorious, than the most splendid attire can make them; and Christ then will be admired in all the Saints and believers, by the wicked which shall behold them: And Christ will sit upon the Throne of his glory, Matth. 25. 31. I saw a great white Throne, and him that sate on it, from whose face the Earth and the Heaven fled away, Rev. 20. 11. We read of a glorious Throne which Solomon made, 1 King. 10. 18, 19, 20. But the Throne and Tribunal seat of Christ will be far more glorious than Solomons, or any Monarchs that ever lived upon the face of the earth.
- Christ will be a most powerful Judge: He will have power to raise all the wicked out of their graves unto life again; which requires as much power to effect, as the giving them their being and life at the first: he will have power to bring all the wicked to his foot, to keep them in awe, that they shall not stir, nor lift up the hand in the least, in a way of rebellion; which is more than the most potent Prince that ever lived could do: He will have power to execute vengeance upon all the wicked together, and inflict an infinite punishment upon them; and he will put forth no less power in the destruction of the wicked at the last day, than was put forth in the first creation of the world; herein he will make his power known, Rom. 9. 22. When the wicked shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, 2 Thes. 1. 9.
- Christ will be a most knowing Judge: He will know all the persons of the wicked; not one shall scape his eye; he will not know them in any way of nearness, and familiar acquainting himself with them; but he will know them in a way of perfect cognizance of their persons; he knew them when they lived and rebelled against his Law; and he will know them again, when they are raised; he will not only have a general knowledge of them, but he will know them particularly: none of the ancient rebels shall be able to hide themselves, either under rocks and mountains, or in the crowd and throng of the wicked which shall be gathered together before him on that day; Christ will finde out all his enemies: and he will know all their crimes; he will read them all written in the book of Gods remembrance; and the book of their own consciences being then opened, will present all their sins to his view; the eye of the Judge will be a piercing, all-seeing eye, which cannot be blinded, and therefore there will be no mistake and errour in the judgment, through ignorance or false information, as there may be in the Courts of judicature upon the earth.
- Christ will be a most holy Judge: He will be without any the least stain of sin; he was so when he lived amongst sinners on earth, and surely he will be so, when he descendeth from the Holy of Holies in Heaven: some earthly Judges are guilty in the same kind with the malefactors which are brought before them; so that whilst they judge others they condemn themselves: but there will not be the least more of sin in the eye of Christ; nor any tincture of defilement; and therefore as it will be impossible to blind him, because of his knowledge: so it will be impossible to bribe and corrupt him in judgment, because of his holiness; and by consequence.
5 Christ will be a most impartial and strict Judge: he will be most impartial in regard of the persons whom he will judge; the high degree and quality of men upon the earth will be of no account with him; the rich will be no more regarded than the poor; nor the highest Princes more than the meanest of their subjects; Death levels all men, and puts a conclusion unto all earthly dignities; and in the resurrection all will stand upon even ground: now some Lords and great men may murder, and oppress, and break Laws, and through favour escape punishment, which crimes, if meaner persons had been found guilty of, would have cost them their lives: but Christ will have no more favour for a Lord, or a Knight, or a Gentleman, no nor for a King or a Queen, or the greatest Lady, than for the most contemptible beggar; he will not accept of the persons of any, and connive at the sins of some, which those that should reprove them now can wink at, as if they were no faults; because the faults of such persons as are high, whose favour they desire, and from whom they might receive damage and dis-esteem should they be plain and faithful; but Christ he will neither need the favour nor fear the anger of anyl; & he will not court and flatter any because of their Nobility and greatness; but impartially judge the highest and greatest, by the same rule as he will do the lowest and meanest; and Christ will be a most strict Judge in regard of crimes; he will bring forth all the sins of the wicked to light; not one sin which they have committed from the day of their birth to the hour of their dissolution, but shall be had in remembrance, and be brought unto publick view, when the Lord shall enter into judgement with the ungodly world: some of the wicked do now sin more secretly, they have sweet morsels rolling under their tongues, which are not perceived; they have their Dalilahs in corners, who are not known; they shroud themselves under the shadow of the wings of the night, that they might conceal some of their wicked leud practices, which, should they be found out in, would fill their cheeks with shame & blushing: but Christ will call them at the last day to a strict account, and bring to light the hidden things of darkness, 1 Cor. 4. 5. And O the contempt & confusion which they will be covered withall when all their shameful and abominable sins shall be made manifest.
- Christ will be a most righteous Judge: he will judge the wicked in righteousness; some of them will be found to have been unrighteous in their judgments; and others righteous in their dealings; and all of them unrighteous in their state; but Christ will judge them all in righteousness: he will judge them according to their works: as he will be righteous in not inflicting upon them a greater punishment than their sins have deserved, he will not punish lesser sinners with more stripes, and greater sinners with fewer stripes: so neither will he be unrighteous in inflicting upon them a lesser punishment than their sins have deserved; but will proportion their punishment to their offence, Rev. 18. 7. How much she hath glorified her self, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her. Christ will be exactly righteous in his judgment, severely righteous, without the least mixture of mercy; the wicked shall have from him the summum jus, and that sine ullà injuriâ, they shall have the highest right and justice, without the least injury; Gods justice requires satisfaction for their sins, and Christ will satisfie the demands of justice to the full upon the ungodly, by distribution of such punishments as are the just desert of their sins; Christ will even all scores at that day▪ between God and sinners; at least he will begin to take the payment of that debt from them which they owe for sin, which they will be paying unto all eternity. Christ will come with the Ballances and Sword of Justice in his hand, he will come to take just vengeance upon disobedient sinners.
- Christ will be a most furious Judge: he will be most gracious towards the righteous, but most furious against the wicked. He will come in flaming fire, to take vengeance upon them, 2 Thes. 1. 8. He will come in flames of love towards his people; but in flames of anger against his enemies; a Fire shall devour before him, and, it will be very •empestuous round about him; see Isa. 66. 15. Behold the Lord will come with Fire, and with his Chariots, as with a whirl-wind, to render his anger with fury, his rebukes with flames •f Fire. We read of such wrath on that day in the Lamb, as maketh the Kings and great men of the earth to tremble, and call to mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them f•om it▪ Rev. 6. 15, 16, 17. Never was there greater love, and more tender bowels of compassion and pitty, than is to be found now in the Lord Jesus Christ, towards all them that apply themselves unto him, under a sense of sin, for salvation, here in this world; and never was there greater wrath and revengeful fury, than will be found in the same Lord Jesus Christ, when sinners shall come before him to be judged at the last day; He will be very furious, ten thousand times beyond a Beare when she is bereaved of her whelps, or a Lion when he is hunger-starved; How fiercely will Christ look upon the wicked? What scorn and contempt of them will they see in his face? What dreadful frowns in his brow? What fiery anger will there sparkle from his eye, in his looking upon them, as if he would look them dead, or look them into Hell, before he hath pronounced the sentence? How fiercely will he speak unto them? There will be terrour in his looks, and there will be terrour in his voice: he will speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his hot displeasure. His anger then will break forth into a flame; he will appeare to be jealous and very furious, when he cometh to execute vengeance on his adversaries, and punish his enemies for their sins.
- Christ will be an inexorable Judge. None is now more easie to be entreated as a Saviour; whosoever comes unto him may be welcome to him; he hath promised in no wise to cast out such, Ioh. 6. 37. The most rebellious sinners may finde entertainment with Jesus Christ now; and prevail with him to procure pardon, and peace, and salvation, upon their repentance of their sins: but when he is come down from Heaven to judge the world, he will be inexorable; No prayers or intreaties; no tears or arguments will in the least move him to take any pitty on such as shall then be found in their sins. When the wicked at the day of judgment shall have their eyes opened to behold the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory and Majesty, in such excellency and shining beauty; then one smile of his countenance will be really accounted of more worth than the whole world; and to be made like to such a person, and to dwell for ever in his love and joy, they will then clearly see to be unconceiveably beyond all the enjoyment of the creatures in their fullest delights; and to be thrust out of his presence they will account their chiefest misery: then they will have other apprehensions of Hells torments, when they are just ready to be cast into the burning lake; when they are awakened in the morning of the resurrection, and are brought to Christs bar, and they perceive how neer they are to execution; and great distress will be upon them, when they look about them, and all refuge fails, and they see no way for them to escape; If now with their cries and supplications they might prevail with the Judge for some commiseration, if they had but the least hopes of moving his bowels, and pacifying his anger, and obtaining the favour of admission into the inheritance of the Saints; O how would they all fall down upon their knees before him with the lowest submission and reverence? how would they cry and weep, intreat and beseech? how would they kiss his feet, wash them with their tears, and wipe them with their hairs? how earnest and importunate would they be with him for a pardon, if importunity would prevaile? If there were but one promise left in the whole Book of God for them, which might possibly bring unto them some relief; how greedily would they all catch at it, and humbly wooe the Lord for mercy? No, no, the Judge will then be inexorable: they may cry, but it will be to no purpose; he will shut his eares against their prayers, and hide his eyes from their misery; they had promises enough whilst they lived, but they did not regard them, they did not believe and apply them; and now nothing but threatnings belong to them, and remain for them; Christ often cryed to them by his Ministers, and moved them by his spirit to open the Door of their hearts, and give him room and entertainment; but they shut their eares and hearts against him; and now Christ will shut his eares, and the door of mercy, and Heaven against them. He will be inexorable. Thus concerning the Judge of the wicked.
- The Assessors, or those which shall sit with Christ in the judgment of the wicked, will be the righteous. This promise the Lord makes particularly and especially to the twelve Apostles, Matth. 19. 28. Verily I say unto you, that yee which have followed me (that have denied your selves, and parted with all, and taken up your Cross, and followed me) in the Regeneration, (or restitution of all things, when the Day of Resurrection doth come) and the Son of Man shall sit on the Throne of his Glory, (when I shall sit upon my judgment Seat, and gather all Nations before my Bar, to receive their doom) Yee shall sit on twelve Thrones, Iudging the twelve Tribes of Israel, and though the Apostles of Christ will be especially honoured, and exalted in the day of Judgment, and have seates, or degrees of dignity above others; yet this honour also shall all the Saints have, to sit with Christ in Judgment, 1 Cor. 6. 2. Do yee not know that the Saints shall judge the World? They judge and condemn the sins of the wicked World now, by their holy conversation; and they will judge and condemn the persons of the wicked at the last day, by their approbation of Christs Judgment. The crimes of the wicked will be scan’d before the righteous; their secret sins will be ript up and made manifest unto them; they will not only be brought in as accusers and witnesses against some of the wicked, of which I shall speak by and by; but also they will joyn with Christ in the examination of all the wicked; and they will also approve of Christs justice and righteousness in the condemning of sinners for their sins, and when Christ doth pronounce the sentence of condemnation upon them, Depart from me yee cursed into everlasting Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, they will joyn with him, and approve of this sentence; it may be they will with one voice say, even so Amen: or with a loud shout accompany Christs words, saying, Depart yee cursed into everlasting Fire. A strange turn and change of things will there be at that day; Felix, who sate on the Judgment Seat, when Paul was at the Bar, will stand at the Bar when Paul shall sit amongst the Judges. The Lord will bring down the mighty from their seats, and all wicked Princes and Judges of the Earth shall be dis-throned, when the righteous, though of a low degree, shall be exalted to sit as Judges upon them.
- The Malefactors which shall be judged, will be,
- Devils. 2 Pet. 2. 4. The Angels which fell, are said to be delivered into Chains of darkness, and to be reserved unto Iudgment; they are punished in part now, but their punishment is not yet compleat; when Christ came the first time in the flesh, and began to dis-lodge the Devils from their habitation, in those Persons whom they had got the possession of, they were afraid that he would have compleated their torment presently; and therefore they cry out, Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? Matth. 8. 29. And let us alone, art thou come to destroy us? Mark 1. 24. But when Christ comes the second time in his glory; then he will judge and condemn the wicked Angels; and the Saints shall joyn with him herein, I Cor. 6. 3. Know yee not that we shall judge Angels? Then the measure of their sin will be compleated, and the time of their torment will be come, and their punishment shall be compleated too; the way and manner of their Judgment is not spoken of in Scripture, and therefore I shall not speak of it; but that they shall be judged to everlasting Fire, is evident from the sentence pronounced on wicked men, in which it is said, that everlasting Fire is prepared for the Devil and his Angels.
- All wicked Men and Women, that ever lived, or shall live on the Earth from the beginning of the Creation, unto the dissolution of the World, that have no Interest in Jesus Christ, will be the malefactors, which shall be judged by Christ at the last day; this day is called the day of Iudgment and perdition of the ungodly. 2 Pet. 3. 7. And the unjust are said to be reserved unto the day of judgment to be punished, Chap. 2. Vers. 9. And the Apostle Paul tells us, that the Lord Iesus shall be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire, taking vengeance on them which know not God, and obey not the G•spel, 2 Thess. 1. 7, 8.
- By them which know not God, we may understand the Heathen and Gentile Nations, this being the Character given of them, 1 Thess. 4. 5. Not in lusts of concupiscence, as the Gentiles which know not God. And the Ephesians whilst Heathens before the Gospel came amongst them, were strangers to the Covenant of Promise, having no hope, and without God in the World, Eph. 2. 12. All the Heathen Nations shall be judged by Christ; but I shall not speak of their judgment, in which we are not so much concerned.
- By them which obey not the Gospel, we are to understand all those Nations upon whom the light of the Gospel hath shin’d, and unto whom the sound of the Gospel hath come; but yet have not yielded obedience therunto, so as heertily to accept of Christ for their Saviour upon his own tearmes; all Christless, graceless Persons, who have heard of Christ, and enjoyed the means of grace, will be the chief Malefactors in the day of Judgment. I might here give a Catalogue of the sinners which shall be judged, take one in 1 Cor. 6. 9, 10. The unrighteous, fornicators, Idolaters, Adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with Mankind, Thieves, Covetous, Drunkards, Revilers, Extortioners, and all other unjustified, unsanctified sinners. But more of this when I come to speak of the conviction of the wicked.
- The Crime for which the wicked shall be judged, and condemned by Christ, will be sin.
- Sin against the Law, and that 1. for sins of omission, Matth. 25. 42. I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink, &c. 2. for sins of commission, and that 1. for sins of thought and heart, 1 Cor. 4. 5. When the Lord comes, he will make manifest the counsels of the heart, he will condemn men for their wicked thoughts and contrivements, for their sinful lusts and desires, and delights. 2. For sins of word, Matth. 12. 36, 37. But I say unto you, that every idle word, that Men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of Iudgment: For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt▪ be condemned. If for idle words men shall be judged; much more for taking Gods name in vain, for hideous Oaths and Blasphemies; if for unprofitable speeches, much more for corrupt communication, for lying, slanderous, bitter, reviling speeches. 3. Christ will judge the wicked for their sins of deed. Rom. 2. 6. He will render to every one according to their deeds. And vers. 8, 9. To them that obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation, and anguish upon every soul of Man that doth evil, of the Iew first, and also of the Gentile.
- The sins against the Gospel, will be the chief condemning crimes of the wicked. No sins against the Law will be found so heinous, but if sinners be found after the commission of them to have obeyed the Gospel, to have repented, and believed, and yielded the fruits of new obedience; they will have a pardon and absolution on that day; but final disobedience to the Gospel will be unpardonable; final impenitency, and unbelief in those which have been called to repent, and to close with Jesus Christ will certainly bring men under the sentence of condemnation; I might here give a more particular Catalogue of the sins which the wicked shall be judged for by Christ, but something more of them under their conviction by Christ.
- The accusers of, and witnesses against the wicked, being the same, I shall joyn them together, and they will be, 1. God. 2. Men. 3. Devils. 4. Themselves.
- God will be an accuser of, and witness against the wicked, at the day of judgment.
- Gods justice (to speak after the manner of men, seeing this judgment is set forth in such a manner, for our better apprehending of it, because we are not able to conceive in this state the way exactly of Gods proceeding against sinners in Judgment on that day) will arraign the wicked before the judgment seat of Christ, and draw up as it were a Bill of Indictment against them. Whereas these Men and Women who lived in such and such places, and times; though they were my Creatures and subjects; were made by me and for me; and I gave them my holy and righteous, and good Law, to be the guide and rule of their life and actions; yet having no fear of me before their eyes; they did shake off my yoke, and break my Laws, they did cast my Commandements behind their back, and lived in a course of rebellion and disobedience against me; committing such and such sins: And when I sent my Son into the World to die for sinners, who gave me sufficient satisfaction; and I made him known, and the way of salvation by him, and pr•ffered him unto them, and entreated them by my Embassadors to be reconciled; but they shut their ear, and hardened their heart, and refused my Son; trampled upon his blood; grieved my spirit; and neglected the salvation of their own souls; therefore I now require satisfaction from themselves, and that a condigne punishment be inflicted upon them, for their disobedience.
- Gods goodness, and bounty, and patience will accuse them, when they are thus arraigned and indicted by his justice, which will aggravate their sins: I nourished and brought up these creatures like children; and yet they rebelled against me; I spared them, as a Man spareth his Son, which serveth him; and yet they had no regard of me; I delivered them in six troubles, and in seven; recovered them often from a sick Bed; and brought them back from the Grave, when they were ready to go down into the Pit; and yet they knew not that I healed them, and were so much the more disobedient unto me; I loaded them with mercies, and yet they loaded me with iniquities; I would have led them to repentance by my patience and goodness, but they were the more impenitent and hard-hearted, and resolved to do evil; I stretched forth my hand all the day long to these disobedient and gain-saying Creatures, and would have received them, had they returned into the armes of my mercy; but nothing would win and perswade them to leave their sins, and come unto me; and now my patience is spent, and long-suffering is at an end, and bowels shut up against them for ever; and let them now smart for all their abuses, affronts, and contempts, which they have offered unto me.
- God’s omniscience will be a witness against the wicked at the day of Judgment; their sins have been all committed under the view of God’s all-seeing eye; and they have been noted down upon the Book of his Remembrance; and God will witness against them: I saw these wretched sinners when they were b•rn, and traced all their steps; I compassed their path, and their lying down, and was acquainted with all their waies; I did beset them behinde and before, and mine eye was continually upon them; I perceived the first sproutings and buddings of sin in their tender years; I took notice of their disobedience to their Parents, when they were young; of their lies, and pride, and vanity, of their idleness and sloath, and mis-spending their precious time: I was an eye-witness to all their sins, from their youth to their dying hour; I beheld them when no eye besides was upon them; I saw their privy lewdness, and all their deeds of darkness, which they committed in dark corners: when I kept silence and did not speak, I was not blinde so as not to see; and although I did not smite, I did note: and what one of them all have the confidence to deny any one of their sins which I have been a witness unto? The first accuser and witness against the wicked will be God himself.
- Men will accuse and witness against the wicked at the day of Judgment, and that both the Godly and •ngodly.
- The Godly, and that both Godly Ministers, and Godly Friends,
- Godly Ministers, will be the accusers and witnesses against the wicked. Ministers must give an account then to their Lord of the souls which he committed to their charge, Heb. 13. 17. And in some of their Flock they will rejoyce, because their testimony concerning Jesus Christ was believed; because the Gospel which they preached amongst them was obeyed; because the Word was received as the Word of God; they will rejoyce in them which have been effectually wrought upon by their Ministry; in those which they have been instrumental to regenerate and espouse unto Jesus Christ; to perswade to leave their sins, and submit themselves unto the yoke and Scepter of the Lord; such will be the joy and crown of rejoycing to their Ministers on that day; of whom with unspeakable comfort they will say to their Lord, Behold the Children which thou hust given us, Thine they were and are, and thou didst give them unto us, and they have believed and kept thy word; and now as they have shared in thy Grace, let them and us share in, and participate of thy Glory. But alas! what a sad account will they have to give of others of their Flock, who have not believed and yielded obedience to the Gospel, which they have preached; it will be sad for them, when they must bring in heavy accusations against them. Lord thou didst send us upon thy Embassage unto them; but they regarded neither Messenger, nor Message; we preached often in thy Name, but either they would not hear when they might, or they would not believe and yield obedience when they heard: we often told them of their sins, and foretold them of their danger, if they did not repent and reform; but they would not receive conviction, nor be perswaded to repentance and reformation; if we spake of sin more generally, they did not look upon themselves as concerned, and made no Application, except it were to others: if we came more home and close, they shrouded their sins as close as they could under the Vaile of some thin excuses; they shut their eyes and would not see; and if the beames of light brake in upon them, and in a start they opened their eies a little; they were either offended, that we should disturb them in their sleep, or they quicklie shut their eies again, and dropt asleep faster than before; and soon wore off the convictions and troubles of minde which sometimes they have had under the light and allarme of thy word. We often shewed them their face in the Glass, but they have gone away and forgotten what manner of Men and Women they were: we have told them of the workes of the flesh, which would certainly exclude them the kingdome of Heaven, Gal. 5. 19, 20, 21. That no unrighteous Person, nor unclean Person, nor Drunkard, nor covetous Person, nor Reviler, nor Extortioner, could be saved, without Repentance and Sanctification: I Cor. 6. 9, 10, 11. And yet they would not leave their sins; they would be unjust and unclean still; they would be covetous and revilers still; they would wallow still in their filthiness, and hold fast their sin, whatever we could speak against it. We preached unto them of the day of Iudgment, and foretold them out of thy Word, of these very things which are now come to p•ss; but they did not believe it, nor consider it, nor take any care to prepare for this day; they thrust the thoughts of judgment out of their minde, and put the evil day far from them. We preached unto them the Gospel, opened the rich treasures thereof before them, made known the exceeding great and precious promises of the Covenant of Grace, the inestimable priviledges and unspeakable benefits, which belong to those that belong to Christ; and pr•ffered all unto them in thy name if they would accept of them, and yield obedience unto thee; but all these things were slighted and undervalued by them. We called and cryed, we beseeched and entreated them that they would be reconciled unto God; but they would not give ear unto us. We held thee forth, Lord, to them, and studied to set thee forth in the best words we could think of; told them of thy beauty and love, and desirableness above all Persons and things in the World; told them of their need, and that they were undone without thee: tendered to them thy blood, and the purchase thereof, pardon and peace, and happinesse for ever; but they were like the deaf Adder which will not hear, they were like Rocks unmoved, they refused thee and thy treasures, trampled upon thy blood, and put both us and thee to shame by their refusal: we invited them unto the marriage Feast, but they would not come; all excus’d themselves with one consent; one had bought a Farm, and he must see it; another was engaged in a great Trade, and he must follow it; another had married a Wife, and he could not, and none of them would come, and taste of thy Banquet; the cares of the World, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of this life, and the lusts of other things, did so overcharge their thoughts and hearts, that the Gospel and rich provisiens thereof lay by disregarded.
Such will be the accusations of some Ministers; such witness must they give at the last day against those of their Flock, who shall be found in the number of the wicked and disobedient to the Gospel; then their Sermons, now forgotten, will be remembred, and be so many evidences against them; O that our People would remember them now! O that they would now consider, and believe, and turn, and live, and avoid the accusations and witness, which otherwise we must be forced to give in then against them.
- The godly friends of the wicked will be their accusers, and witness against them; some of them are linked in neer Relations to the godly, who now are endeavouring to be instrumental for their salvation; but if they do not prevail, they will hereafter be their accusers and witnesses for their condemnation.
- The believing Husband will then accuse and witness against his unbelieving Wife, Lord she lay in my bosome, and was beloved by me as my self; I cherished her, and was as tender of her as my own flesh, according to thy command; but all my love and kindeness to her could not win her heart for thee: I told her often of thy beauty, and thy love which was a thousand fold •eyond what I, or any Man alive could possibly express; but she was stupid and unbelieving, and wh•lly disregarded both thy Person and thy love: I covered her faults with love, as much as I could, from others; and used many entreaties and loving perswasions to draw her to amendment; telling her the danger and destructive issue of a sinfull course; but she would not hearken to amend; her heart was set upon sin and vanity; she was proud and foolish; she was wanton and froward, and would not be reclaimed: she did see my grief and sorrow for sin, she was a witness to my teares and mournful complaints; and yet she could bear up under greater guilt without any sense: she did see me often retire into my Closet, and knew that I spent time daily between me and thee alone; and yet, though her need was as great, she would not be perswaded to an imitation: I have often in the secret silent night, when sleep hath fled from both our eyes, taken advantage of such opp•rtunities to discourse with her about her sou•-affaires; told her of the sleep of death which •re long would seize upon us; the night we must stend in the Grave; of the morning of the Resurrection; of thy second coming, and our appearing before thy Tribunal Seat; but nothing would quicken her to make preparation for Death and Iudgment, she heard as if she were asleep, as indeed she was asleep whilst awake, and dead whi•st she was alive, asleep and dead in sin and security.
- The believing Wife will then accuse her unbelieving Husband. Lord thou knowest how I loved, and honoured, and reverenced, and obeyed him in lawful things, and was faithful to him according to my duty; •ut he would not love and honour thee, he was •nfaithfu•, and would not obey thy m•re reasonable commands, unto whom he owed a greater subjection: I have often sate alone like a widdow at home, when he hath been revelling abroad with his companions: I have been pouring forth tears for him, at the Throne of grace in my Closet, when he hath been pouring in Wine and strong drink in Taverns and Aie-houses: I have been troubled for him, when he hath staied our so late; and troubled more with him, when he hath come in so full of drink, and p•ssion; and with much patience have endured his foul speeches and behaviour, which he hath used: I have watched the most fit opportunity I could take, to put him in mind of his sin and danger; and I have done it with the greatest humility and meeknes, and tender affection as I could; but either he hath not regarded my words; or slew out into a rage against me: O how fain would I have perswaded him to draw in the same yoke of Christ with me; but he would draw another way, do what I could; none of my prayers, nor tears, nor arguments, no, not the l•ve of Christ, nor the love of his own soul, could prevaile with him to change his course; he would 〈◊〉 leave his drunkenness, and adultery, his worldliness and i•justice, his lying and over-reaching, his swearing and bitterness against thy people, by no means would he be perswaded.
- Believing Parents will then accuse and witness against their ungodly children, and servants:
Lord, we endeavoured to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of thee; we laboured to put good principles betimes into them; we dr•pped many wholsome instructions upon them; we prayed frequently for them, and with them, and spake plainly a•d earnestly to them about their soul-concernment; we told them of the immnr•atity of their s•uls, the preciousness of their time, the evil of sin, their need of thee, the excellency of grace, their danger of Hell, the way to escape it, the glory of Heaven, the way to attain it; but alas, to the grief of our hearts, they shut their ears against all our instructions, and would take none of our reproofs or counsels, they would go foolishly and stubbornly on in a course of sin, and neither thy law, nor our fear would restrain them.
Thus these and other godly relations will rise up in judgment, and witness against the wicked.
- The ungodly friends and companions of the wicked will at that day be their accusers and witness against them; especially those who have been drawn by them into sin; however now they are very well pleased with them, and delight in their company, because sin pleaseth them, and they do not feel nor believe the bitterness which will be consequent; yet when they come to be judged, and punished for those sins, they will with rage and madness accuse, & curse those wicked persons which were their first tempters: Drunkards will accuse those that drew them first into Taverns, and Ale-houses, and perswaded them by healths, and other waies to drink beyond their measure; Adulterers and Adulteresses will accuse those which first inticed them unto privy lewdness: ungodly servants also will then accuse their wicked masters, and ungodly children their wicked parents, who have been drawn into sin by their example. Thus men will be accusers and witnesses against the wicked,
- Devils will be the Accusers and Witnesses against the wicked; they are now accusers of the brethren, then they will be accusers of the wicked; they accuse the brethren falsly, they will accuse the wicked truly; now they please and flatter the wicked, and perswade them to sin; then they will accuse them for those very sins which they have perswaded them unto; they have done the devils drudgery all their daies, and been his faithful slaves; and this is his recompence, he will be their accuser at the last day.
- The wicked will be accused by themselves, their own thoughts shall accuse them in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Iesus Christ, Rom.•. 15, 16. their own consciences will accuse them, and be as a thousand witnesses against them; they will finde all their sins registred in that book, and that book will then be opened, and they will not be able to deny one word of what they shall finde there recorded. Thus of the accusers and witnesses against the wicked.
- Concerning the Conviction. And here I shall speak of the conviction of some particular sinners; especially of such who have lived in the daies and places, where the Gospel hath been preached, whom the Lord Iesus Christ with upbraiding having of full evidence with convict of their sins. To set this out the more lively.
Suppose that this very day were the day of Judgment; and in this very Church were the Judgment-feat; that here were a great white Throne, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself sitting upon it in his glory, with millions of holy Angels about him, and all the Saints in white at his •ight hand; and on his left, all the wicked gathered •ogether into one body, as it will be at the last •ay; And the Judge should cry with a loud voice, •ring the prisoners to the Bar, Bring the sinners to judgment, and so summon and convict particular sinners.
- Come forth all ye ignorant persons; who have not known the father, nor me, nor the mysteries of salvation, however clearly revealed in my Word; who lived in darkness, and loved darkness, and bated the light, least your deeds should thereby have been reproved; What dark in a Goshen! ignorant in London! in a place of so much knowledge and instruction! Did not Parents teach you when you were young? how is it that you would not be taught? If Parents neglected to instruct you, had you not Ministers, who were ready to do it▪ How is it that you have not learnt? If knowledge did not offer it self to you, why did you not seek after it? why did not you learn of your selves? was there any thing in the world that did concern you more to know? was not the knowledge of me, and my waies, worth the looking after? had you a capacity for other knowledge, and not for this? have not others learnt, who were naturally as dull, and had as few helps, 〈◊〉 you? had you time to spend about other things, i• sports and sins, and not time to spend in getting knowledge? had you an ear, and yet not hear, so as to learn• had you an eye, and yet not see so as to understand? And if you were naturally blind, had not I eye-salve? could not I have opened your eies? was I not willing? did I not stand in the gates to call upon you, How long ye simple ones will you love simplicity? and fools hate knowledge: Turn unto me, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and make know• my words unto you? Prov. I. 22, 23. Have 〈◊〉 neglected me through ignorance, is not your fou• double, because you have neglected knowledge too? have you committed many sins through ignorance, 〈◊〉 not this an aggravation of your sin? did not you 〈◊〉 knowledge, and therefore dis-regarded it? did not yo• love sin, and therefore shunned the light, which would have discovered it, and disturbed you in your wicked courses? have you liked darkness so well, and is it not fit then that you should go to the place where there is blackness of darkness for ever? Take them Devils, bind them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye slothful and uprofitable persons. Had not ye Talents committed to you for my use and service, and what have you done with them? did you bury them in the earth? or lay them up in a napkin? what could you lie down and slumber, when you had so much work to do? could you trifle away so many hours, when time was so preci•us? could you sleep in the day, in the day of grace? sleep in the Harvest, which was so rich and plentiful, where you lived? could you stand idle all the day long in the market-place? were you born for nothing, that ye lived so unprofitably, and were good for nothing? would not religion have found you imployment sufficient, if you had followed its direction? Did the difficulties of duties discourage you, and therefore you would let them alone, though they were so necessary? had the command of God no force with you? would not your own good and happiness move you at all to diligence? did fear of men, and suffering dammage in the world, keep you off from zealous profession, and a strict course of life; and should not the fear of God, and danger of Hell, have kept you more from sin, and stirred you up unto the most difficult hazzardous duty? was there a Lion in the way to Heaven? and were there no Lions in the way to Hell? did not some sin ••st you p•ins and labour? did you finde no difficulty i• the service of the devil, and your own lusts? and was not holiness more worth your paines to get? would not I have proved a better master, had you been diligent in my service? could you be diligent in your callings, to get a livelihood for your selves and families? and neglect the life and salvation of your precious souls? would not my work have brought wages with it? was there not sweetness mingled with the difficulty? and would not the fruits have been sweet? would not a Crown and Kingdom, a weight of glory, and eternal pleasures, move you to undergo some difficulty? was there so much difficulty in obedience to my commands (which were not grievous to a spiritual heart) and is there not more difficulty in suffering what you m•st unavoidably suffer for your neglect? if my yoak were painful to an unaccustomed neck could not I have fitted your neck to it, and made it easie? if my burden were heavy to a weak back, could not, would not I have put under my shoulder, and helped you to have born it? were not the most difficult duties I required, for your own good, and so many priviledges, and the best work you could be employed in? were any of my servants so wearied with my service, with the hardest work I set them about, as you were wearied with your idleness, and doing nothing? did not the Earth groan under such unprofitable burdens? did not Hell gape for you long ago, and Devils long for this time when you should be delivered into their powers. Take them Devils binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye that have neglected Family-worship, and never sought after God in your Closets; Were not you creatures, and did the law of Creation require no worship? were not you subjects, and should not you have shown homage to your S•veraign? did not you live upon Gods finding and b•unty every day, and should not you have acknowledged your dependance? did not God bring you into your Family-relation, and did he require no duty? Did not he threaten to pour out his wrath upon irreligious families? and yet would not you set up Religion in yours? had you any business to do in your houses, of that consequence, as worshipping God in your houses? if you had not ability to pray at first with others, might not you have attained it, had you used to pray by your selves? would not God have helped you, had you been •illing to have been helped? had you been sensible of sin, would you have wanted words in confession? had you been sensible of your wants, would you have lacked expressions to make them known? was it curiosity and elegancie of words, that God so much looked for? would not sighs and groans have been understood? would not the Scriptures have furnished you with expressions, had you used to read them? would not Sermons have furnished you with matter and expressions, had you used to repeat them? had you need of such and such things for your families, and had you no need of Gods blessing? and could you hope for his lessing, if you did not worship him? might not you have prospered more in the world, if you had used to pray more in your houses? might not you have had more comfort in your relations, if you had daily engaged with them in the duties of Gods worship? might not family-prayer have prevented much sin and sorrow which you •rought upon you? did not you fall into many ••ares duty, for want of the armour of prayer? had our children and servants no need of religious educa•ion? were they like to be obedient and faithful to you, if you did not teach them to be obedient and faithful •nto God? had not you the charge of their souls put into your hands? and what account can you give? •ave not you brought their blood upon your heads? •ave not you contracted to your selves the guilt of 〈◊〉 sins? can you endure to hear their curses and banning of you for neglecting to give them such religious education, as might have been the means of their salvation? And you that were under government in families which had no religion, could you so willingly imitate the governours, and the rest, in neglect of Gods worship? Could you contentedly go to Hell for company? is it any •lleviation of your grief and horrour that all your family is together? can your masters or fathers answer for themselves, or you? had not you a greater master in Heaven, whom you should rather have obeyed? did not you understand your duty? and if you could not worship God more publickly, should not you have sought out retiring corners? if others would not pray with you, should not you have prayed alone by your selves? what if you had no example for it in your house, had you no precept for it in the Word? what if you were under command, and much business was required of you, and you were discouraged in such duties, could not you have found time when business was over, or before business began? could not you have redeemed time from sleep and recreations, rather than have neglected Gods worship daily? would not God have encouraged and rewarded you? what if you had been s••ft at, and reproached for this? would not the favour and smiles of God have compensated the flou•s and •c•rns of men? would not Heaven have been worth all the reproaches you could have undergone? could you eat, and drink, and sleep, and not pray to God, which was more necessary than any thing which is m•st necessary for your bodies? and if there was no worship of God at home, could not you have looked alroad? were there none lived neer you, who would have been glad of your company in the worship of God, and way to Heaven? could y•u finde out no religious young men or women suittble to your degree, who would have quickned you, and heartned you against discouragements? Did not you devote your selves rather to the service of some lusts, and were glad of any excuse when conscience would have minded you of your duty towards God? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye Sabbath-breakers, you that have spent the day in sleeping, in eating and drinking to excess; who instead of holy meditations, have been thinking and contriving your worldly business; instead of religious conferences, have discoursed only of earthly matters: instead of going to Church, to worship God, have walked into the Fields, and spent the time in recreations; or if you have seemed to give God a half-day service by your presence at Church one part of the day; yet have worshipped him only with your bodies, when your hearts were removed far from him; had not you an express command for the Sabbaths observation? and if the day of first institution were changed, was the day and worship thereof laid aside, and ceased to be a duty? If the Iews were obliged to keep a day holy, were not the Christians much more? Was not the Sabbath made for man, was it not his Priviledge to take that time for holy rest and worship? and did the Gospel straiten mens Priviledges? Did not the morral Law, of which Sabbath observation was one precept, bind throughout all generations? could you call other daies holy, which the Scripture gave no warrant for, and not observe that holy day which you were enjoined? Did not God allow you six daies for labour in your Callings? and was it unequal for him to take one day for his own worship? had he eased you of the burdensome Ceremonies under the Law, and was the Sabbath so burdensome to you? could you reasonably hope to enter into eternal rest, and keep a Sabbath in Heaven? if you would not celebrate the appointed Sabbaths on Earth? Were not the works of the Creation and Redemption worthy your memorial? was not communion with God in Ordinances desirable? had you no need of those spiritual provisions, which God did use to deal forth on the Sabbath daies to them that waited upon him for them? What! not worship God either in your own houses, nor in his house; neither on the week-day nor Sabbath-day? could your sometimes could and formal services be counted worship? Did you think that lip-prayers would ever be heard by God that searcheth and requireth the heart? Did you think that Sermons un-minded, un-remembred, which you did neither believe, nor were affected with, would be effectual to save you? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye swearers, and profaners of the Name of God; Did you never read nor hear the third Commandement, which forbad this sin? Did you never hear of my strict Injunction, that you should not swear at all in your discourses, but that your communication should be yea and nay? Were you never told that swearers would fall into condemnation? Was the Great and dreadful Name of God of so little regard, that you could not only use it irreverently, so frequently; but also even tear it in pieces by your oaths? What profit did you get by your swearing? and are you like to sustain no loss? what pleasure did you find in your swearing? and are you like to reap no litterness? was it for your honour to swear by the Name of God? or rather was it not for your dishonour? but how did you dishonour God? What an affront did you offer to him hereby? you call’d upon him sometimes to damn and sinke you; can you speake in that language now, now damnation is so near you? Worms! could not God have trodden you under his feet, or crusht you as easily as you could do a flie, every time you profaned his Name? and because he was patient, would you presume? because he did not presentlie punish, did you dare him, and flie in his face to provoke his fury? You have sworn in your solly, and have not repented; and God hath sworn in his wrath, and will not repent, that you shall never enter into his rest. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee scoffers at Religion, and the zealous Professors thereof; who thought and spake of Religion, as if it had been a fancie, and cunningly devised Fable; and of the most holy, humble, and self-denying Christians, as if they were the most mean-spirited, foolish, and contemptible People upon Earth; and have used the name of a Saint in derision, and Proverb of reproach. Have you the same minde now, that Religion was but a fancy? Is your Resurrection, and my appearance, but a fancie? Is your punishment eternallie in Hell, like to be bus a fancie? Had you not a sure ground and bottome for your faith in the Scriptures? Could you have desired more reasonable evidence of things done before your age? Could you laugh at Scripture-threatnings; And can you laugh now you are come to Execution? Could you contemn Gospel-promises; And are they so contemptible now in your eies, when now you see the accomplishment of them before you? Against whom was it that you opened so wide a mouth? Whom was it that you did flout and scorn? What my Disciples! because they were meek and humble, and did not take the pleasures of sin with you, and were strict in their profession and conversation: What think you of them now? Were they so mean-spirited and contemptible? Were they so foolish, which made so wise a choice? Did they well, or ill, in staying till this time for their happiness? Look upon the Persons now, whom once you scorned, and thought unworthie of your companie; Was it so rid•culous a thing to be a Saint, as you imagined? Was not shining with them in glory, at all desirable? Would not you be glad to be numbred amongst them now? Why do you not laugh and fleer at the Saints now? Yee fooles and blinde sots, do you know what you s•oft at? Could you see no excellencie in Holiness, and the Divine Nature, in my Image, which was engraven upon them? Did ever any Man of understanding laugh at the light of the Sun? They were lights in the dark World, where they lived; what mock at Holiness? hereby you mocked at God himself, who is so infinitelie glorious in this attribute, and hereby distinguished from all his Creatures; vile Wretches! Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee Persecutors of my Disciples; Was it not enough for you to mock them; but you must persecute them too? Was it not enough to persecute them with the tongue, but you must persecute them with the hand? What could you betray them like Judas for a piece of money, or out of malice which was worse? Could you disturb them in their service and worship of me, when they were praying for your conversion and salvation? Could you hale and drag them to Prison, who endeavoured to keep you out of the Prison of Hell! Could you seek the ruine of such as were the best Friends of your souls? when you never received injury from them; could you be so injurious to them? Do you know whom yee persecuted? It was m•, it was me whom you persecuted, when you persecuted my Disciples; it was me whom yee wounded thorow their sides; it was me you betrayed in betraying them; it was me yee imprisoned, in imprisoning them; it was me you spurned at, when yee lifted up the heel against them; and did you ever think to prosper in this way? You, you have been above all other Persons upon the Earth, my professed Enemies, and most like your Father the Devil; Come yee Wretches, gird up your loines like Men; gather your forces together; put on strength and courage; if you have any; and life up your hand, if you dare against me; do you finde strength to faile you now, and your forces too weak to niake resistance? and were you so foolish as to engage in battel, where you might have known, you should certainlie be conquered at the last? doth your courage faile you upon the sight of the Captain? and should you not have been afraid to touch my anointed ones, my lifted Souldiers? You served the Devil, and fought under his banner against me and mine, and can be deliver you now out of mine hand? can be defend you against my rage and fury? or would he do it, if it lay in his power? had you ever more spight and malice against my people, than the Devil had against you, in setting you about persecution worke? did not he design your ruine herby? did not he think of this day, and on purpose drew you to this sin, that you might be the more horriblie tormented? and doth not be with his Angels wait now for you, that they may drag you unto torments? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee intemperate and licentious Persons; who have indulged your slesh, and laid no restraint upon your sensual appetite; who have made provision for your flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof; but made no provision for my glorie, and took no c•re to fulfill my commands; did you never hear of such a dutie as self-denial, which I required of all my Disciples and followers? Were you never told that if you followed the inclinations, and obeyed the commands of carnal self, it would be to your ruine and destruction? that bitterness and sorrow would be the issue of fleshpleasing? that lust if it conceived would bring forth sin, and sin when perfected, would bring forth death? did you never read that if yee lived after the flesh, yee should die, and that you must, through the spirit, mortifie the deeds of the bodie, otherwise life and happiness could not be obtained? and yet would you lay the reines on the neck of your lusts? if you had no faith, had you no reason neither, to keep you from intemperance? if you did not live like Christians, would you not live like Men? would you needs be bruits, and live as if you were all body, and had no soules of such high capacity? were you so blinde as not to see afar off before this day of Iudgment, when I should call you to an account? or to see a little before you, to the day of your death, which would put a conclusion to all your sensual pleasures? Could you bribe and muzzle conscience, and lay it asleep whilst you took your pleasures? Could you tread reason under foot, and resolve you would not be controuled by any light, or law, or government from your eager prosecution of your carnal delights?
Come forth all ye Gluttons; who have pampered your flesh with delicious food; but never had the least regard to seed your souls▪ which had more need; who have s•e• many hours and dayes in feasting your bodies, nourishing your selves against the day of slaughter; but when you were invited by my Messengers to the marriage fe•st, to the feast I had prepared for you, of the richest and most c•stly spiritual dainties; you had no stomack, no appetite, and could not, would not come; what! did you indeed make your belly your God? and can such a God save and make you happy? did you think that food which perisheth could give happiness to a never-dying soul? did you not know that both meat and belly would be destroyed? and that your bodies would become food for worms? and yet could you make it the chief business of your lives to feed your bodies? you were allowed food convenient, and something for delight, that your bodies might serve your souls with strength and vigour, and both their Lord and Master; but excess you were forbidden, which did distemper both body and minde, and unfit you for the service of the Lord; and yet would you overcharge your selves? now reap the fruit of this intemperance, and taste the Gall and W•rm•ood which your sweet bits are turn’d into.
Come forth yee Drunkards, who if you have not overcharged your bellies with excessive eating, yet have often entoxicuted your brains with the fumes of excessive drinking; who have drowned your understanding, wit and fancy, your natural parts and ingenuity, which might have rendered you useful in the Church, or Common-wealth where you lived, and made your selves meer sots by your drunkenness: and what account can you now give of the talents you were entrusted withall? what excuse can you finde for this sin? were you entited to it, And overtaken before you were aware? but who could entice you to drink a potion which would kill your bodies? and was not the death and damnation of your souls more to be avoided? would you be enticed to that, unto which a very Beast will not be forced? but were you not forward of your selves to the sin? did you not like the company well that joyn’d with you therein? did not you overtake the sin by your desires? did not the liquor please your appetite? did not you s••ill it in without perswasion? if you had cen overtaken, would you have been so often guilty? would you have come so often into the places and company where you fell into it? was not your chiefest mirth amongst your Cups, and drunken Companions? were not you melancholick and troubled, when your meetings of good-fellowship were disappointed? you would have your Cups, and drink Wine in Bowles, and strong Drink without measure; and now also you shall have a Cup to drink of, even the Cup of the Wine of the wrath of the angry Allmighty God; now yee shall drink of the dregs of this Cup, which hath ten thousand times more bitterness in it, than your other Cups have had sweetness.
Come forth all yee Adulterers, you that have neighed like full fed Horses after your neighbours Wives, and assembled by troopes into Harlots houses; or if not so, have committed this sin in secret corners: was there no shame in you, to keep you from this nasty, filthy sin? could you delight so much to wallow in mire and dung? was there no fear in you to restrain you? did not conscience check and rebuke you, when this lust first conceived in you? did you never hear that Whorem•ngers and Adulterers God would judge? and did you not think you should be called to an account for this sin? Could you melt in filthy sinful pleasures of the flesh, and not consider how you should consume in torments? were your short pleasures comparable to an eternity of pain and misery? were there not pleasures of a higher nature, and sweeter relish attainable in life, if you had forgone and denied your selves unlawful pleasures? have you not l•st them and the unspeakable eternal joyes of Heaven by your intemperance. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye covetous persons, whose tre•sure, and heart, and hope, and confidence hath been in earthly things; who have made the world your God, desiring, and loving, and delighting, and trusting in your wealth and riches, as if they could yield the most contentment, and be the best defence unto you; whose greatest thoughts, and care, and lab•ur have been spent about getting and keeping an estate and portion in the world, with little heart to use it for your selves, much less for the good of others, and glory of God that gave it: Did you not know that c•vetousness was Idolatry? and that no Idolater shall have any admittance into the new Jerusalem? Did you not know that the love of the world was inconsistent with the love of the Father? had you such mean thoughts of God, that you chose the world before him? were the riches of grace of so small esteem, that you preferred earthly riches? had the treasures in heaven no more worth in your account, that you should neglect and disregard them, and make choice rather of treasures on earth? When you had tried the world, and found it vain and empty, would you still set your heart upon it? when you felt such thorny cares, and piercing sorrows in your eager prosecution of this world, could not this damp and deaden your affection to it? when your own and other riches sometimes suddenly took flight as upon an Eagles wing, and left you, could not you forbear, but must fly upon the wing of desire after them? did you not foresee how naked and bare death would strip you of all? and yet would nothing wean your whorish heart from the love of the world? were you never told that riches could not profit you in the day of wrath? is not all your wealth consumed now? treasures there are indeed prepared for you, but they are treasures of wrath which your sins have deserved. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye unmerciful persons; whose bowels have been shut up against the poor, and needy; who have spoken churlishly to the poor, and looked upon them a far off; or if you have spoken to them fair, and said to the naked and destitute of daily food, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and be ye filled; yet have not given unto them things needful for the body, whatever abundance you had by you, who have had no pitty on my distressed members, so as to contribute any relief to their necessities; I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was naked, and ye cloathed me not; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; I was sick, and you visited me not; I was in prison, and ye did not administer unto me. ‘Did you not understand it was your duty to relieve the poor? had you not your rickes given to you for this end? was not this the best use you could put them unto? would not works of mercy have brought into you the best returns at last? might you not hereby have laid up for your selves a good foundation against this day? if you had laid out your estates according to my prescriptions, might not you now have laid hold on eternal life? were you never forewarned, that such should have judgment without mercy, that did not shew mercy? And you that have had no mercy •; forgive, that knew not how to pass by real, or conjectural injuries, which you have received; th•• were ready to take your brother by the throat for •hundred pence, when you might have been forgiven your ten thousand talents which you owed unto God▪ were ye never told, that the King of Heaven woul• deliver you to the tormentors, if you were unmercifull? Take them Devils, bind them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye unrighteous persons who have wronged Widdows, and Orphans; who howover-reached your Neighbours in your dealings; who have heaped an estate together by unrighteous practices; who have squeezed and oppressed the poor, which have had no helper: was not the Law of right written upon your heart? did you not read it more plainly in the Word? did not men condemn you? did not your own consciences secretly condemn you for your unrighteousness? and did not you think that the righteous God would condemn you much more? did you not know, that no unrighteous person should inherit the Kingdome of Heaven? that the Lord would avenge himself upon you for this sin? did you wrong others so much as you have hereby wronged your selves? is the gain of the world comparable to the loss of your souls? is a little Silver or Gold (now taken away from you) comparable to the loss of Heaven, and eternal glory? did you think such faults would be winked at? did you not expect to hear of them again at the day of Iudgment? is it an unrighteous thing to punish you for your unrighteousness: Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth ye Liars; you who have taught and accustomed your selves to this sin; who have not only reported lies, but also made them; whose words have been feigned and deceitful; Did you not know, that God who made you, and to whom you owed all subjection and obedience, was a God of truth, and that he required truth? that every man should speak truth to his neighbour? that he abb•rred lying lips? that he threatned to punish liars with the second death, and give them their portion in the lake of fire? and had you no fear of God, no fear of future judgment to restrain you? might you not as easily have spoken truth, as uttered falshood? would not you hereby have gained more credit in the world? would not you have been more fit for society? would not you have had more peace in your consciences? did you excuse faults by your lies? but was it not a greater aggravation of them? if you hid them by lies, from men, could you hide them from God, who searched your heart? did you shew kindness to any by your lies? and did you not injure your selves a thousand fold more? did you harm others by your lies so much as your selves? Did you not know that the Devil was the father of lies, and liars? and were you so desirous to be like him? were you so forward to do him service? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye slanderers and backbiters; who have walked about with slanders, and carried about tales unto the reproach and injury of your neighbours good name; Did you not know it was your duty to endeavour the preservation of your neighbours reputation as carefully as your own? were you not commanded to speak evil of none? could you s••tter others before their faces, and alter your speech so much when their backs were turned? did not your own self-contradicting words condemn you? did you finde good in back-biting, and speaking evil of others? did you gain reputation, by wounding others reputation, or rather did not you give occasion to others to speak as reproachfully of you? Did you not alienate affection, and separate neer friends by your standers? did you not know many things to be false, which you spake to others disparagement? could you with confidence have averred the same things to the persons themselves? would not they easily have disproved you, and put you to shame? and if you were privy to some real faults of others, should you not have concealed them? if you had had real love, would you not have covered them? did you do as you would be done by? had you not as great faults of your own? and could you be content to have them blazed abroad? you have accused others falsly, and now you are accused truly, and you shall be punished justly. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye proud and ambitious persons; you that have builded your nests on high; that have taken many dirty steps to get into the seat of honour; whose hearts have been lifted up with high touring imaginations, and conceits of your own excellencies, unto the scorning and contempt of others; who have had proud hearts, and proud looks, and proud speeches, and proud carriage towards others, especially towards them that have been of meaner degree; who have looked upon others after off, and have disdained the converse and company of some, of whom the world hath not been worthy: Were you acquainted with no higher honour and dignity, than the world could give unto you? might you not have had seats in Heavenly places if you had looked after them, and less after the other? did you not know that the highest places on the earth were the most slippery places? did you not foresee the turning of the wheel upon you? did you not believe that God would cost down the mighty from their seats? that the higher you were lifted up in dignity, if your hearts were withall lifted up with pride, the lower and greater would be your fall? And was the favour and applause of men so desirable? was it not an empty breath, an inconstant wind? If you had been ambitious, should you not have been ambitious of the favour of the King of glory, which would have been so beneficial and lasting? And are You the persons that once were so proud and sornfull? You proud! had you such reason? Proud, when creatures! depending creatures! who had nothing, but what was borrowed, and received from God! proud, when such mean creatures! proud, when fallen! fallen into the dirt, and so defiled! proud, when sinners! sinners so vile! so full of sores! when you had such lothsome spirits! when you had such leprous souls! could you lift up the plumes, when you had such black feet? could you be proud, when you had last Gods Image, and were so like unto foul devils? proud, when such beggarly sinners! cloathed in such filthy rags! proud, when such slaves, and vassals to the vilest and basest Tyrants! proud in chains and fetters of Sathan, and lust! You had reason indeed to be proud and scornful, and to look so high, and speak so big, when you were so odious to God, and such low, mean-spirited miserable wretches, who were drudging in mire and dirt, and were led by the devil in chains, like dogs, towards the prison of Hell: you had need scorn the company of my disciples; as if dirty, dunghil beggars, should scorn the company of high-born noble Princes! you were high in conceit, but now you shall be debased, and laid low indeed. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all ye envious and malicious persons; you that have grieved at the good of others, which they have had, or done; that have grieved at the good estates of others, and that they have thrived faster than you in the world; that have grieved at the sweet and comfortable relations of others, and that yours have not been like to them; that have grieved at the beauty or strength of body, the gifts and endowments of mind of others, beyond what your seives have had; that have grieved at the honour of others, that they have been esteemed and preferred before your selves; that have grieved because others have done more good, and been more useful than your selves; and hence have secretly and deeply hated them, and born malice towards them in your minds; and have entertained thoughts and desires of doing them some mischief, and were glad when any mischief did befall them: You, you have been children of the Devil indeed, and the likeness and lusts of your father you have had: Was your eye evil, because God was good? did not God put the difference between them and you? and should not you have been contened? was not God good to you, and had not you reason to be thankeful? did not you put a stop to the current of Gods goodness by your envy? did not you lose the comfort of the good things you had, by this sin? did not you hereby loose the benefit you might have had by the good things of others? should not you have rejoyced in their good things? if you had loved them indeed, would not you have done it? did not you rack and torment your selves by your envy? had you been humble, would you have been trumbled? had your affections been set upon things above, would this sin have so much prevailed? had you been sincerely desirous to promote Gods glory, would you have been so much concerned, that your glory should be clouded, when Gods glory was advanced, though by others more than your selves? were you not warned to lay aside all envy and malice, if you would be Christians indeed? if you had put your spirits under my government, would not I have conquered by my Spirit their inordinate motions? should not you have found sweetness and comfort in love, if you had laboured after, and lived in the exercise of this grace? Did you not know that these were works of the flesh which would exclude you the Kingdome of Heaven? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
16 Come forth all ye wrathful and contentious persons; you that have had fiery Spirits, and fiery tongues; whose tongues have been like Swords, wherewith you have lashed and wounded others in your reproachful reviling speeches; who have had the poison of aspes in your hearts and lips, which hath vented it self in virulent language; whose words have been bitter and clamorous, full of anger and wrath, and contention; who have been incendiaries in the places where you have lived, who have disturbed the peace of your families, and turned all things into uprore and confusion: Did you not know the precepts of the Gospel, which commanded peace, and gentleness, and meekness, and easiness to be entreated? did you disturb others peace by your contentions, and did you not disturb your own? did you raise an uprore in your houses, and was not there a greater uproar in your hearts? did you not taste the bitterness of such a conversation, and yet would you persist therein? did not you receive some blows and wounds by your contention sometimes; and yet would you not hearken to such rebukes? were you angry with others without just cause, and was there not good reason that God should be angry with you? was not the fire of your tongues kindled by the fire of Hell? and is it unreasonable that you should be thrust into the place of burning for your contention? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee civil and moral persons, who have had moral righteousness, and been upright in your dealings, but wholly strangers unto the power of godliness; who have observed some Precepts of the second Table of the Law in reference to your selves and others externally; but have grosly neglected the duties of the first Table, which have had reference to God; who have had no knowledge of God, nor fear of him, nor love to him, nor delight in him; who have never sanctified his name or day in your hearts, nor worshipped him in a spiritual manner according to the prescriptions of his words; who never yielded obedience to the Gospel, never saw your need of me, and obtained interest and acquaintance with me, what ever calls and opportunities you had: and do you think I should know you, and own you now, when you are none of mine? will your moral righteo•sness stand you now in any stead, when you are to give so strict an account? did not I tell you in my word, that unless your righteousness did exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, yee should in no wise enter into the Kingdome of Heaven? that you must be born again, or else you could not be saved? that you must be holy, or else you could not be happy? did you not hear of the young man, who had as much moral righteousness as you, and yet mist of Heaven, because he would not obey my other commands? hath your moral righteousness been so perfect, that it hath had no flaw? have you lived free from sin, in regard of the second Table of the Law, besides your breaches of the first? will not Conscience tell you of some slips, some stumbles and falls, as to your external walking? were you never guilty of unrighteous dealing? never distempered your selves with drink? never were lustful and wanton? never told any lies, nor uttered any slanders? and if you have been fair in your outward carriage and converse, have you not had •oul insides? had you not need of pardon for your sins, and my blood to wash you from your filthiness? have not the best of your workes been sinful, in regard of the principal, and end, and manner of performance? did you think the works of nature would save you, when the works of grace cannot, without the imputation of my righteousness, because of their imperfection? must not Gods Iustice be satisfied for your sins? and how do you think it should be done, but by your eternal punishment in Hell? had you believed in me, and yielded obedience to me, my righteousness should have been yours, and then you might have held up your Heads with joyful expectation of glory on this day; but you cleaved to your own righteousness, and were well and whole, and did not see your need of me to be your Physician and Saviour, and would not submit unto, and accept of my righteousness, and what have you to say, why judgment should not pass upon you? did you think such works as yours would satisfie Iustice, when if you had done better, and kept the whole Law for the greatest part of your life, yet you had done but your duty, and the sins of your youth were enough to sink you into Hell; but was any of your righteousness perfect? did you think to merit Heaven by such works? do you think you deserve a Crown of Glory for your civility, or morality? where have you a promise of it? and if you had no promise, could you think you should ever attain it? what, is your mouth stopt, and are you speechless now? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee Hypocrites. who have made a show of Holiness; and have born the name of zealous Professors of Religion; but have been acted by carnal designes and principles; who have used religion as a Cloak for your covetousness; who followed me only for the loaves, who have been hollow at heart; rotten at the Core; painted Sepulchres; blazing Comets; wandring and falling Stars, for whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever: what did you mean by your showes and outward appearance of worship and service? did you think that the all-seeing, heart-searching God, judged according to outward appearance? did you think that lip-service, and bodily exercise would be accepted by him? or was it acceptation only with Men which you sought after? that reward you had, and can you expect any other reward, when you did not desire it, nor design it? and what doth it, can it now profit you, that Men accounted you religious? will their esteem of you procure pardon and salvation for you? could you be content to cast away and loose all your external services for want of sincerity, and an internal living principle? did not you think that all your services would rise up one day in judgment against you? did not you affront the highest Majesty by the mockery of your shew-worship? did not be very well understand which way your heart went, when you seemed must devout? was not be acquainted with the secret lusts which you harboured in your heart, and secret way of wickedness which you walked in, when you made a show of mortification, and self-denial, and a holy, and strict conversation? were you not warned against hypocrisie, and told how odious it was unto God, and that hypocrites portion would be in utter darkness, where there is weeping, and weiling, and gnashing of teeth? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee Back-sliders and Apostates from me and my wayes; You that turned back to wayes of prophaneness, and open wickedness, after some time of profession, and joyning your selves with my people; was my service so burdensome that you could endure it no longer? was the way to Heaven so unpleasant, that you would walk no longer therein? after some tryal in show of me, did you prefer and make choice of the Devil before me? after some washing your selves, would you wallow in the mire again? after heaving some vomit off of your stomack, would you again lick it up? after some sweepings and dressings would you open the door, and let in seven worse spirits to defile your hearts? after you seemed to be escapèd, were you again entangled? would you needs put your foot again into the snare, and binde your selves in fresh bonds of sin? did you prefer the company of the wicked which were going Hell-ward, before the company of my people, which were going Heaven-ward? could not you now wish that you had held on, and held out with them unto the end? would not you have rejoyced if you had now been found in their society? did you repent of your repenting, and do you not now repent of your back-slidings? were not you told, if you drew back, my Soul would have no pleasure in you?
And you that have turned aside from me and my wayes, into wayes of errour, that suckt in damnable Heresies from faise Teachers. Did you not know that there were damnable Heresies, as well as other damnable sins? were you not warned that Sathan sometimes appeared as an Angel of light? would you so quickly turn aside after some workings and strivings of my spirit with you, and some hopes which you gave of your conversion and reformation? did not you perceive how Sathan lay upon the catch, so soon as you began to be awakened, to prejudice you against the truth, and draw you aside in another way to serve him? did you not understand the mysteries of his delusions? if you had heartily loved the truth as it was in me, would you have been so deluded? was not deep humiliation and mortification of every last too hard a Doctrine, and therefore you chose such as would give you more scope, and liberty, and shroud your lusts under some other name, and terme your hatred and anger against my people by the name of zeale for my glory? did you think if you gave Sathan one hold, that it would not be sufficient to undo you? had you stuck close to my Ministry and Ordinances, would you have been so deluded? did you think your selves wiser than my Ministers, so soon as you got a little glimmering of light? could you so readily open your eare to slanders, and receive prejudices against them, through Sathans and his Instruments perswasions, to the shipwracking of your own Souls? did you not finde how wavering and unsteady you were, how like Children tossed too and fro with every wind of Doctrine, when once you forsook my Ministry, which I appointed for your establishment? did you conceit that you might live above Ordinances in the World? did you imagine to get into a higher forme, when you went forth of my School? and when you expected perfection most, were not you more imperfect than before? when you fancied a clearer light, were not you most full of darkness? when you thought your selves so holy, as none like you, and none must be holy but those of your way; were not you most unholy, and like a smoke in my nostrils? could I accept of your worship out of the way of my Ordinances and Institutions? when you thought your selves must guided and acted by the spirit, was it not a spirit of delusion? did my spirit lead you, and act you in a way which my word did not allow of? were not you the renders and •••rers of my Church? was it not by reason of you that the wayes of truth were evil spoken of by evil Men? were not those without prejudiced against my very wayes, because of your delusions, which made so forward a profession? suppose I permitted some of mine to mistake in circumstantials, was this a just excuse for your errours in fundamentals, when the word was open for you to inform your selves in the truth? did not you wrest the Scriptures to your own destruction? suppose you denied your selves some things, were they those things that I commanded: suppose you suffered some things in your way, do you hope for a reward for sufferings, which I never called you unto, and which did but so much the more harden your party, and promote your delusion? did you know what a snare you were hampered in, so soon as you put your foot into the way of errour, and turned aside from that old strait, narrow way of my Word and Ordinances, which have brought so many to Heaven? were not you in a greater unlikelihood of being called effectually, than Drunkards and Adulterers, and the most vicious, who lay more naked to the blow of the Word, and were more ready to receive instruction? you were more forward to reprove my Ministers, than to receive my Ministers, and conviction from them; you could call them Antichristian, and false Prophets, though they adheared to and maintained nothing, but the truths of my word; and when I gave them so many seals of their Ministry in the conversion of many Souls; you could call them self-seekers and hirelings, though they gave such evidences of self-denial, and many of them forsook all that they had, rather than they would make a breach upon their consciences; you could, some of you, emrench upon their office, though you had no call, nor commission from me; you had the Scripture to discover to you the right way, but you shut your eyes against the light, and ch•se wayes of darkness, and is it not sit that you should go to the place of darkness. Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
- Come forth all yee Impenitent Persons and Unbelievers, all yee that have not yielded obedience to the Gospel; were you not called to repentance by Ministers, and the spirit in Ordinances? and when a stiller voice was not heard, were you not called louder by God in his Iudgments? did you not know, that except you repented, you would certainly perish? that iniquity would be your ruine, unless your heart were broken for it and from it, and yet were you, though you lay under the guil• of so much sin, could you be so impenitent and hard-hearted? were not you called to me by the voice of the Gospel? did not I call you and stretch out my hand all the day long to you? did not I stand at the door of your heart, and wo• hard for entertainment? and yet could you shut the door against me, though you had so much need of me? had you not commands, and encouragements to believe? could you rationally desire firmer ground and footing for your faith? did not you give God the lie by your unbelief? have you not hereby fastned the guilt of all your other sins upon your selves, which I was willing to take off from you? would any sin against the Law have condemned you, had you turned from it, and yielded obedience to the Gospel? were you not foretold of the wrath to come, and yet would you not flie from it? were you not pr•ffered a Saviour, and yet would you not accept of him? had you not treasures opened before you, end would you not look after them? were you not shown the way to Heaven, and would not you walk in it? how can you escape, that have been guilty of disobedience to the Gospel? Take them Devils, binde them hand and foot.
Christ at the day of Judgment will convict the whole ungodly World, especially those who have lived under the sound of the Gospel; their crimes will be made manifest and evident, and every mouth will be stopped, when they are found guilty before him, and they cannot deny it: then the wicked will be speechless and stand after their full conviction like so many Rogues in Chains before the Judge: And think now with your selves what the behaviour of the wicked will be, when they are thus convicted of their sins, and are ready to receive their sentence; I believe some of you have seen Malefactors at the Bar, when the Jury hath found them guilty, and the Judge hath been proceeding to give the sentence of Death, how their countenances have changed, and their joynts trembled, and unexpressible horrour seized upon them; but O the dread and terrour that will be upon the spirits of the wicked, when they are convicted of sin by this Judge! and with what trembling expectations will they wait for their sentence!
- And this is the seventh particular to spea• concerning the Sentence, which the Lord Jesus Christ will pass upon the wicked in Judgment, see Matth. 25. 41. Then shall he say unto them on his left hand, Depart from me yee cursed, into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. Depar• from me! yee that have formerly said in your hearts unto me, Depart, we will not have thee 〈◊〉 reign over us: that have said to my Minister• Depart, we wil not hearken to your words; that have said to my Spirit depart, we will not yield to thy motions. Now depart! depart from me, yee that would not come unto me; yee have often been called and invited to come, but yee refused, now depart! yee shall not have one Call more; you shall not have one proffer of grace more fo• ever; Depart! never shall yee hear my voice any more; never shall yee see my face any more▪ Depart! be gone out of my sight: Depart from m• yee cursed! as yee cared not for blessing, so sha•• it be far from you; as ye loved cursing, so shal it be unto you; Depart with the curse of the Law, with the curse of the great God upon you; let the curse of God cloathe you like a garment, and bind you like a chain; let it enter into your flesh and bones like Oile, to enrage so much the more the flames of Hell about you; and let it pierce into your soul, and fill you with horrible anguish; Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire. Ye shall not depart into your old habitation to spend an eternity in sinful sensual pleasures; no, Depart into torments, Depart into Fire, into the fire of Hell; into the burning Lake; into Tophet ordained of old for you, into a stream of Fire and Brimstone, enkindled by the breath of God; Depart into everlasting Fire; Go dwell with devouring Fire, and inhabit everlasting burnings: Depart into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels; ye served the devil and divers lusts, whilst you lived in the world; now go and live with the Devil and his angels in Hell fire for ever, partake of the torments, primarily prepared for him, and belonging also to you, because ye belonged to his Kingdom.
And when the sentence is irreversibly pronounced by the Judge upon the wicked, O what direful shreeks will they give forth! With what horrour will they cry out, How shall we be able to endure the devouring flames, and everlasting burnings of Hell!
Thus have I done with the Judgment it self, both of the righteous and the wicked, at the appearance of Jesus Christ.
- THe second thing is to speak of the execution of the Sentence pronounced upon both in Judgment, which you have spoken of together, Matth. 25. 46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternall.
- Concerning the execution of the Sentence on the wicked. These shall go away into everlasting punishment. Here I shall speak,
- Of the wickeds going away.
- Of their going into punishment.
The former doth imply the punishment of loss, the latter their punishment of sense.
- The wicked, when the Sentence is pronouned, shall go away; and here I shall show,
- From whom they shall go away.
- From what they shall go away.
- The aggravations, or vexing considerations, which Gospel-sinners will have in their going away.
- From whom the wicked shall go away.
- They shall go away from Iesus Christ; the righteous are at his side, and shall remain with him; but the wicked shall go away from him; the righteous shall go with him, and abide with him, where he is, there they shall be also; they shall be for ever with the Lord; but the wicked, must go away, and be eternally separated from his presence. The righteous shall behold his glory, and share in it; they shall see the smiles of his face, and be entertained by him with unexpressible love; but the wicked shall be thrust out of his presence with frowns and indignation; it will be one great part of the misery of the wicked, that they shall go away from so glorious a person as the Lord Jesus Christ.
- They shall go away from the Saints; now some of them are mingled with Gods people, the Tares and the Wheat grow up together; the sheep and the goats feed in the same pasture; and though it was bitter to the wicked to dwell with the righteous, because of the contradiction, which was in their lives, to their lusts; yet then it will be more bitter to them to be excluded their society, because then they will perceive their excellency with admiration: when they see them shine with such beauty, and rejoyce with Songs of triumph, and they must be gone away from them; this will fill their hearts with racking envy, and torment them unspeakably.
- From what the wicked shall go away; they shall go away from happiness, from the happiness of heaven; the doors of heaven shall be shut upon them; they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Iacob, and many come from the East, and the West, and the North, and the South, even an innumerable multitude of all kindreds, and Nations, and Tongues, and enter in and sit down in the Kingdom of God, and themselves thrust out, and thrust down to Hell.
- Concerning the aggravations, or vexing considerations, which Gospel sinners will have in their going away; as the sin of those is more hainous, who sin against the light of the Gospel, than of those who sin only against the light of nature: so their punishment will be more severe; all shall be beaten, but these persons with many stripes; as there will be degrees in glory; though all will be filled with glory, yet some will have a larger capacity: so there will be degrees of torment and misery, all shall be filled with torment, but some will have a larger capacity, especially Gospel sinners will have stings beyond what heathens will be capable of in their punishment of loss; when
- They shall have a clear discovery of the glory and happiness which they have missed; now they hear of heaven and the happiness which the Saint• shall have in the vision and fruition of God; but there is a vail of unbelief upon their minds, that they do not apprehend such a happiness as is spoken of; they have mean thoughts of God, and of Heaven: they think there is no heaven like the earth; and no happiness like the fruition of the creatures; no glory like the glory of the world, no treasures like earthly treasures; and no delights like those which they finde in the objects of their sense: but when their portio• in this life shall be spent; and the good things which they enjoyed shall be taken away from them; when their honours shall vanish like smoke, or a thin vapour; their riches shall flie away like an Eagle, or sail like a ship out of their •ight; when their sensual delights and pleasures shall fail them, and die like sweet flowers in their hands; when the bright cloud of earthly things, which shadowed the glory of heavenly things from their view, shall be blown away, and the vail shall be torn in pieces which was before them, and hindred them from looking into the Holy of Holies; and the scales shall fall off from their eyes: In a word, when the heavens shal• pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth, with the works thereof shall be burnt up; and they shall be awakened out of their long sleep in their graves, and shall be summoned before the tribunal seat of Christ, and stand there stripped and quite naked of all their enjoyments in the world, which they had set their hearts upon; and they shall be examined and condemned for their sins; then, then their eyes will be opened, and they will clearly see their mistake of happiness; then they will perceive and be fully perswaded of the fulness of joy and unspeakable pleasures at the right hand of God, the least taste of which would ravish their hearts ten thousand times more than all the full draughts, which they have taken in the sweetest of all their sinful delights: I say, they shall see this happiness, and that which will vex them to the heart will be, that they shall only see it, not injoy the least share in it. O what high apprehensions will they then have of the glory of Heaven; they will see the Crown which will be put upon the head of the righteous, which will have more worth then in their esteem, than all the Crowns and Scepters of the greatest Kings upon the earth; then they will be clearly convinced that the choicest treasures were in Heaven, and the sweetest delights were to come, and the thoughts of missing this Crown and glory, such treasures and sweetness, will tear their very hearts: they must go away from heaven and happiness.
- In going away they shall remember the capacity which they had once of obtaining this happiness; if they had been bruits indeed, and had capacity for a sensitive life only; and grace and glory had been removed so far beyond their reach, that it had been impossible for them to attain it; it would not much trouble them to lose it, whatever other miseries they should endure; but they were capable of the beginnings of Heaven in the life of grace, and the compleating of their happiness in glory; they will remember that they had souls endued with reason, and hereby advanced to a higher capacity than beasts; that they had minds capable of divine contemplation, and hearts capable of divine affection; that they had wils which might have chosen God for their portion, and Heaven for their heritance; that they had desires, and loves, and hopes, and joyes, which if they had wrought-god-ward, and Christ-ward, as they did toward the creature, if they had wrought upward, and heaven-ward, as they did downward and towards the earth, and earthly things, they might have been happy for ever; they will see that others, who had the same natures, as they had, and were guilty at first of as great sins, as they had committed, yet repented and turned, believed and reformed, were changed and saved; and with unexpressible vexation they will think that thus it might have been with them, if they had not been fools, if they had seriously endevoured to fill up the capacity, which God hath given them.
- In g•ing away they will remember the proffers which they had of this happiness; that they lived in places where the light did shine, and the Gospel did sound, and Christ was preached and tendered with all the benefits of his purchase; they will remember how often they were called to repent, how earnestly they were entreated to be reconciled; they will remember the discoveries, which were made to them of future glory, and the invitations which they had to come unto Christ that they might have pardon and life, and partake of the inheritance of the Saints in light; all which was little regarded by them; they will remember how long, and how loud Christ knocked at the door of their hearts for entertainment; that he knocked by such a Sermon, such a motion of the Spirit, by such a judgment, such an affliction, such a deliverance; and yet that they barred the door, deafned the ear, and if they did not fully resolve to keep him out, yet they put him off with such redious delayes, untill on a sudden death knocked at their door and broke it open, and drag’d them away to Hell before they had given entertainment unto Jesus Christ, and had provided an eternal habitation for their souls: they will then remember the opportunities and seasons of grace, which once they enjoyed; that once they had a Day, a Day of grace, and that with some of them it was a long Summers day; and that they had calls at the first hour, and the third hour, and the ninth hour, and at the eleventh hour, and that all the day long God stretched forth his hand unto them; but they did not know the day of their visitation; they were more foolish than the Crane and the Stork, and the Swallow, they did not understand their appointed time; they did not mind the things which belonged to their peace, untill they were hid from their eyes; they slept in the harvest, they loitered away, and sinned away their time, and wasted their day, in which they should have made provision for their souls: O how will they be then ready to tear themselves in pieces, that they should neglect so great salvation, in the day when salvation was attainable? yea, that they should refuse the proffers of grace, and pardon and peace, and life and happiness, which in that day were so frequently and earnestly made unto them: then they will wish that they had opened their ear and heart, that they had regarded and accepted such gracious proffers, whatever they had neglected or parted withall: then they will wish they had imbraced and improved the opportunities which once they had for prayer, and hearing, and attendance upon Gods Ordinances; that they had been in the Church, when they were in the Ale-house; that they had associated themselves with Gods people, when they frequented the company of the leud, and ungodly; that they had been upon their knees with grief confessing sin; when they took so much delight in the commission of it; that they had taken time from their sports to make their peace with God; that they had worshipped God in their Closets, and worshipped God in their Families, and laid up for themselves treasures in Heaven; and horrible will their vexation be that they did not so.
- In going away, they will remember for what it was that they refused this happiness; that it was only for the satisfaction of some foolish and unprofitable lust: If two Kingdomes of equal worth and glory were proposed to a Mans choice, it would not trouble him that he had refused the one, to obtain the other; but if a Man were to chuse whether he would be a King or a slave; if he should refuse the former, and chuse the later, when he came to feel the misery of his bondage, this would trouble him, more than the bondage, that he might have avoided it, that he hath chose this thraldome, and parted with a Kingdome for it: they will then perceive that they have chosen to be slavesunto sin, and Sathan, rather than to be Heires unto the Kingdome of Glory; I know that though now they are slaves, and serve divers lusts, and though their bondage is a thousand fold worse, than if they were Vassals to the cruellest Tirant upon Earth; yet they are not sensible, neither are they weary of their bondage; because their wills are in thraldome, and their affections are captivated; and though heirdome to the glory of Heaven, be the choicest priviledge upon Earth, and most desirable; yet they do not desire it, but prefer their slavery before it; because they are blinde, unbelieving, besorted sinners, and judge of things according to sense; yet on the day of Christs appearance, all things will appear with a new face, and they will look upon things with a new eye; they will then perceive that they were slaves all their dayes; and that there was no such drudgery as that which they were employed in; and that there was no such glory and happiness, as that which they refused, and foolishly cast away; then it will sting them indeed to remember that they have chosen rather to do the work of the Devil, and yield obedience to the basest lusts, for which they must now be repayed with the wages of death and eternal misery, than to do the work of the Lord, who would have rewarded them with eternal life, and a Crown of glory and immortality. Then they will say, What profit have we got by those things, whereof we are now ashamed! What fruit doth all our labour and toile in the World now yield unto us? What are we the better for our riches and great estate on Earth, for our honour, and high esteem amongst men, for our luscious pleasures and delights, (now vanished and gone) which we bought at so dear a rate, as the loss of our precious and immortal souls, and the forfeiture of an Inheritance in the kingdome of Heaven? Then they will cry out, O bewitching World! O deluding Devil! O deceitfull hearts and lusts! O what fools and mad-men have we been, that we should trample Iewels under our feet like Swine, and in stead of them, put dross and dung into our Cabinet! that we should so greedily drink the sweet poison of sin to the bane and ruine of our souls; and refuse to taste of the Cup of salvation, which all our dayes was held forth unto us! Then they will cry out of their voluptuousness, their covetousness, their pride and haughtiness, and the like lusts, which have kept Christ out of their hearts, and kept them out of the Kingdome of Heaven.
- In going away, some of them shall remember how neerly they missed of this happiness; that they were almost perswaded to be Christians, in deed as well as in name, and to accept of Christ upon his own termes; that they were not far from the Kingdome of Heaven; that they were come even within fight of the Heavenly Canaan, and yet died in the Wilderness; that they were come even to the Gate of the new Ierusalem, but finding it too strait for them, and the luggish of their sins together, there they stuck and could not enter in; that they climbed up a great way of the Hill to Zion, but did not reach the top, and tumbling down, their fall was the greater; they will remember the means of grace which they enjoyed; the Ordinances which they sate under; and the treaties which the Lord did make with them by his word and spirit, about their life and salvation; and the carriage of their hearts towards the Lord in those treaties; some of them will remember what convictions the Lord wrought in them of sin, and what tremblings of conscience, for fear of Hell and wrath to come; and if they had followed that preparative work, they might have quickly been acquainted with Christ, and escaped the misery which they feared; but they •tifled convictions, and shook off their troubles, they shut their eies against the light, and stilled the noise of their consciences, and calmed their spirits with the delights and pleasures of the World; and so grew more hardned in sin than before, and gave such repulses to the spirit, that the spirit quite departed from them: Others will remember that they were perswaded to ascend some steps higher, under the Ministry of the Word: when they were reproved for such and such gross sins, which they lived in the practise of, that they could have no ease in their consciences, until they had broken off that wicked course; that they left off their drunkenness and their swearing, their uncleanness, and unrighteous dealing; and were in a great measure reformed in their lives; but there were some lusts in their hearts which they hugged secretly, and delighted in, and could not be perswaded to leave, which were their undoing: pride, revenge, uncharitableness, covetousness, or the like remained in their reigning power, which were inconsistent with the power of godliness: others will remember what profession they made, and that they went with some kinde of gladness in the company of Gods people, unto his House and Ordinances, and heard the Word, and received some impressions thereof; yea obtained some kinde of graces under its influence; that they had a kinde of righteousness, repentance, faith, desires, love, joy, hope, that they had some tastes of the heavenly gift, and the powers of the World to come, and thought themselves as fair for Heaven as the best, and who ever missed, that they should not miss of glory: but O the confusion and vexation, which will be upon the spirits of these Persons when the Lord Jesus shall disown them, and shut them out of his Kingdom•; O what tearings of heart will they have, when they perceive that they were mistaken, and finde themselves disappointed of the happiness which they had such hopes of, and confident expectations to obtain: when they finde that their silver was but dross, and their graces were counterfeit, and not of the right stamp, that they had not the Image and superscription of Christ upon them; when they remember that they had a righteousness, but it was like the morning Cloud, which the wind of affliction or temptation had driven away; that they had some repentance, but it was leg•l, not Evangelical; that the teares they had sometimes shed for sin, were like the early dew, which the bright Sun of prosperity did quickly dry up; that they had a faith, but it was a temporary faith, which wanted deep rooting in the heart and what ever flourishing fruit it quickly sent forth▪ yet the hot Sun of persecution did wither it, that i• came to nothing when they were put upon the Trial; that they had desires after Christ, and the favour of God and spiritual things; but they we•• but faint velleities, they were like the untimely birth of a Woman, which never came to any perfection; that they had love to God in show, or it may be at some time a passionate glow of heart under an Ordinance, which was not enkindled by a spark falling down from Heaven upon them, blown up by the spirit of God; but a false or more inferiour Fire, which arose from a sympathy with Ministers or other Christians in the more inferiour workings and expressions of their love, which in the sincere arose from the right principle; that they had some kinde of hope, but it was like a spiders web, broken quickly to pieces, or swept down by the beesome of destruction with them into Hell; that they had some joyes; but they were flashy and ungrounded; some tastes arising from misapprehensions of Gospel-priviledges, and misapplication of Gospel-promises, all which did quickly vanish and come to nothing: They will finde, if not before, be sure at that day that they were mistaken, and have lost all their pains and labour, for want of a thorow work of grace; for want of soundness at the root; for want of hearty sorrow, deep humiliation; good-grounded, and deep•rooted faith: supream love; well-bottom’d hope; universall reformation and mortification of the deeds of the body; that none of their actions were accepted by the heart-searching God for want of a right principle and end; now when these Persons are sentenced to Hell, and are going away from Christ and the glory which once they had hopes of, and were so near unto, and had they gone but a step or two further, they might have attained, O with what unconceivable grief and curtings of heart will it be? they will remember then that they did seek to enter in at the strait Gate, and they will wish with all their hearts that they had striven, that they had taken more pains, that they might not have missed and fallen short of salvation: possibly then with unutterable anguish they may say, There is a glorious Inheritance in Heaven, which we are now, departing from, we often prayed for it when we were upon the Earth; and if we had been sincere and fervent, if we had resolved to take the place by storme and would not have been denyed, we might have got it; we have read of it in the Word, and heard of it in Sermons, and it hath been proffered to us freely; and if we had renounced the World, and forsaken sin, and chosen it for our portion, we might have had it; we parted with some sins, if we had left all, it should have been ours; once we had some hopes of it, when we had some taste of it, and had done some things to obtain it; and if we had gone a little further, we might have indeed obtained it; if we had taken pains with our hearts before God to get them raised to things above; if we had denyed our selves, and mortified our members upon the Earth; if we had cast away all our transgressions, and c•st away our own righteousness, and rowled our selves wholly upon Iesus Christ, and acted faith upon him and the promises of this Kingdome, and walked in the narrow way which we seemed to walk in, we might now have been made passessours hereof, and shined amongst yonder glorious Saints, some of whom were our companions, and hoped for our company, and wonder to see us separated from them; But alas we were sloathfull and careless; we were unwatchfull and idle; our pains was more to appear religious, than be religious; we had some lusts which lay nearer our heart than Iesus Christ; we did some things with seeming vigour, but carnal motives were the chief incentives to our duties; and how ever lifeless, faithless, and empty of true grace they were, yet we trusted in them, and made them our Saviour, and never were brought clear off from our own bottome, unto a closure with Iesus Christ, and we have fool’d away our salvation, and made our selves unworthy of eternal life. Deservedly, deservedly do we lose this crown; for our folly! O that we had been sincere, and thorough Christians!
- In going away it will sting the wicked to think that now this happiness of Heaven is irrecoverable, once they might have obtained it, and that upon easie tearmes; yea after some refusals of it they had fresh proffers and invitations; the door of mercy, and gate of salvation and glory stood open a long time; but now the door is lookt upon them, and will never be opened more; they must go away without any hopes of ever entering into the new Ierusalem, or obtaining the least degree of the happiness of the Saints; they must bid adieu unto joy and comfort for ever. These considerations will sting Gospel-sinners in their going away.
Thus concerning the first particular in the execution of the sentence on the wicked, they shall go away.
- They shall go into punishment, and here I shall speak,
- Of the punishment which they shall go into.
- Of their entring into this punishment.
- Concerning the punishment which the wicked shall go into. Take two or three places of Scripture which set forth this punishment, Matth. 25. 41. D•p•rt yee cursed into everlasting Fire, Mark 9. 43, 44. Then to go into Hell, where their worm dyeth not, and the Fire is not quenched. Rev. 14. 10, 11. They shall drink of the Wine of the wrath of God, which shall be poured out, without mixture, into the Cup of his indignation, and be tormented with Fire and Brimstone, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever. The punishment then will be Gods wrath, which the damned shall drink of, so as to feel the immediate impressions thereof upon their souls; and Fire and brimstone kindled by the breath of God, the impression whereof they shall feel upon their bodies; but what tongue can express the punishment of the wicked in Hell? if some expressions in Scripture concerning it be metaphorical, surely they fall short of what the real punishment will be; the drops and sprinklings of Gods wrath here are but small in comparison with the Ocean, which the wicked shall be cast into: the top of the Cup hath nothing of the bitterness which they will finde in the dregges: never was there such a Fire on Earth, as the Fire of Hell; never was there such a pain endured by those which have undergone the more exquisite torments; as the pains and torments which shall be inflicted hereafter upon the damned. Yet, though we are not able here to conceive how dreadful this punishment will be, we may conceive it to be unexpressibly more dreadful than any punishment on Earth; if we consider,
- The Inflicter of it.
- The subject of it.
- The properties of it.
- Concerning the Inflicter of the punishment which the wicked shall go into, and that will be the most holy, just, powerful, and sin-revenging God; the wicked will then fall into his hands immediately, and O how fearful a thing will it be to fall into the hand of the living God? Heb. 10. 31. Wicked men now have no fear of God before their eyes; though their sins and affronts to God be great; and his anger and displeasure against them be great; yet because his goodness and patience towards them is also great; because he keeps silence, and doth not speedily execute his vengeance upon them; therefore they are secure, and insensible of his displeasure; and have slighter thoughts, and lesser fear of him, than of weake dying worms like themselves: but when their eyes shall be opened, at the last day, and a discovery of God shall be made unto them in his infinire Majesty, and greatness, and power, and holiness, and fiery indignation against them: O how fearful then will it be to fall into his hands? It will be very sweet to fall into the arms of his Love; but very dreadful to fall into the hands of his displeasure; when God doth execute his vengeance himself, he will do it very terribly, especially if we consider,
- That he will glorifie his infinite wisdom in the punishment of the damned, which will contrive such tortures for them, that if all the men in the world should joyn their wits together, and take to their help all the Devils in hell, they could not invent the like; dreadful ingredients will his wisdom finde out to put into the cup, which he will put into the hand of the wicked to drink.
- That he will glorifie his infinite power, he will make bare his arm, and smite with an infinite force; the blow of a childe will take little impression, but if a Goliah smite with a Goliah’s sword, he will smite to the ground; the weightier the hand, the heavier the stroke; there is more difference between the power of God and the strongest creatures, than between the strongest creature and the weakest childe; It would be dreadful to be delivered up to the power of some strong fierce and cruel creatures: what will it be to be delivered up to the power of the omnipotent and most furious God. God will glorifie the power of his anger in the destruction of the wicked, Rom. 9. 31. What, if God willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, &c. God will show what his power can do in the punishing of the wicked; his last work of power in punishing, will be as glorious as his first work of power in creating; and he will glorifie the power of his anger in hell, as he will glorifie his goodness and love in heaven; in heaven he will open the treasures of his love, and in hell he will open the treasures of his wrath. God will inflict the punishment.
- Concerning the subject of the punishment which the wicked shall go into, and that will be both soul and body.
- The souls of the wicked will be punished; not only with the loss of the glorious and comfortable presence of God, and the happiness of heaven; but also I conceive that they will be fille• with anguish through the impressions of Gods wrath upon them; they will be filled up to the brim with the fierce wrath of God; the Arrows of the Almighty will be shot up to the head in them, and pierce them thorow and thorow; we read Rom. 2. 8, 9. Of indignation and wrath, tribulation, and anguish, which at the day of wrath shall be upon every soul that doth evil. The impressions of Gods indignation and wrath on the soul will effect tribulation and anguish: such wounds they will have in their spirits, as will be unsupportable, such tribulation as will be horrible, such anguish as is inconceivable, when the hand of the Lord is upon them, when they see the frowns of his brow; when he strikes them with the blow of his anger. Christ tasted the bitterness of Gods wrath in his soul, for the sins of others, which caused his bloody sweat in the garden, and such roarings upon the cross: O how bitter will the wrath of God be to the wicked, when their souls taste of it for their own sins; It will be Gods wrathful presence, which the souls of the damned will feel the impressions of, which will make Hell to be Hell, as it will be the glorious and comfortable presence of God, which the souls of the righteous will feel the impressions of, which will make Heaven to be Heaven.
- The bodies of the wicked shall be punished, they have been sharers in sin, and they must share in torment; they must lie in the Lake of fire and brimstone, Rev. 21. 8. the torment of the bodies of the wicked will be dreadful; besides the impression which the anguish of soul will make upon them, they will have their own proper torment, through the sense of the fire which will be kindled about them, and burn more horribly than Londons fire did, when it had got into the heart of the City; their torment will be greater than if scalding lead were poured into their bowels; than if they were torn in pieces with wild horses; than if their breasts were ript up, and their heart were pluckt out with burning pincers; it will be worse than if they were cast into a caldron of boiling pitch or lead; or put into Phalaris Bull, or Nebuchadnezzars fiery Furnace: the torture of the damned’s bodies will be far beyond the sharpest pain now incident to humane nature by racking diseases, or have been inflicted upon any of the children of men by the most cruel tyrant; for the bodies of the wicked when raised again, will be strengthned unto a greater capacity for punishment, when they will be made incorruptible and immortal, and punishment will be the end of their resurrection; but more of this punishment under the properties.
- Concerning the properties of the punishment which the wicked shall go into.
- It will be universal, it will not onely be in soul and body, but also in every part of both: in every faculty of the soul, in every member of the body: O the black thoughts! the dismal apprehensions! the grisly fancies! the heavy griefs! the sinking fears! the dreadful terrors! the hellish gripes! the utter despair! the horrible anguish, and confusion! which the soul will have, when the wrath of God shall be poured in upon it like water; the wicked will not only be in hell, but they will have a hell in themselves; in their consciences, they will have a never dying worm, which will gnaw and tear them; they will have a storm in their spirits raised by the winde of Gods wrath, which will blow most fiercely upon them; every faculty of the soul will be afflicted according to its capacity: and every member of the bodies of the wicked will be tormented. O how will their eyes glare! their tongues roar! their hands and feet fry! their flesh rost! no part will be free from the devouring flames of this horrible burning Fire, There are many diseases which the body is exposed unto in this world, but very seldome do they meet together in the same subject; if the head ake, the members may be free; if the foot be pained, the hand may be at ease, and ready to contribute some relief unto the pained part; and if the body be sick, the soul may give some consolatory arguments to alleviate the irksomeness of the disease; but in hell the punishment of the wicked will be universal, it will be in every member of the body, and every faculty of the soul.
- The punishment of hell will be extream; the souls of the wicked will be filled with anguish, as full as they can hold; their capacity will be larger, and they will be filled up to the height of their capacity; and their bodies also will have the most exquisite pain, as it is possible for them to endure; their sense of pain will be quicker, and their strength to endure pain greater; and their pain will be in the uttermost extremity: some pains of the body here are not very acnte; and some troubles of mind may well enough be born; but any disease in extremity is very irksome; the pain of the head, or the tooth in extremity, the gout, stone, chollick in extremity; especially the troubles of the mind in extremity, will make a man weary of his life; but to have every part afflicted in extremity, and the uttermost extremity, and that beyond our now capacity or conception, this will be very dreadfull.
- The punishment of the wicked will be continual, without any intermission or alleviation; the wicked will have no rest day nor night, Rev. 14. 11. there will be nothing but weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, Matth. 22. 13. The most painful diseases here have their fits, which do not continue long; the diseased finde after their fits some ease and asswagement; they have intermissions sometimes; some lucida intervalla, lightsome intervals; but the wicked in hell will have no ease or asswagement; no lightsome intervals of their grief and pains; there will be no mixture of comfortable ingredients in the cup of God’s wrath, which the damned must drink of; there will be but one fit in their disease, and this fit will alwaies be at the height; they will not have the least drop of water to cool so much as the tip of the tongue, which shall be tormented in flames; their grief will not have any allay, they will not have one comfortable thought, no eye to pitty them, none to bring any relief unto them: O how bitter will their sins be to them; here they are but bitter sweets, then they will be nothing but bitterness, and gall, and worm-wood, unto them; Their punishment will be continuall.
- The punishment of the wicked will be remediless; there will be no escaping or flying from the wrath of God; now sinners may flee from the wrath which is to come; but when it is once come, and hath got hold on them; it will hold them down, so that they shall never get loose from it: now they may agree with their adversary upon the way; they may make their peace with God in this world; there is no sin for which they may not obtain a pardon, but the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost, which carries men away from God; but hereafter in hell there will be no more sacrifice for sin; the Saviour of mankind will be their judge, and pass an irreversible sentence of condemnation upon them; it is possible now for the wicked to be delivered from this punishment, but it will be impossible then to be delivered out of it; their punishment will be remediless.
- The punishment of the wicked will be eternal, hell fire will be unquenchable, Mark 9. 43. everlasting, Matth. 25. 41. the smoak of the torment will ascend up for ever and ever. Rev. 14. 11. This eternity of punishment will be a fearful aggravation of it; If you saw a malefactour torn to pieces with wilde horses, or thrown into a fiery furnace, and there burned to ashes; you would say that either of these were dreadful punishments, though the pain possibly might not endure a quarter of an hour, for death concludes all bodily pains here: what then will it be to endure the torments of hell for ever? a small pain, if it should last long, would be very irksome; much more some racking pains by the stone, strangury, gour, cholick, and the like, if they should continue for a year, or a moneth together, how miserable would they make the life to be? yea, if a man should hold but one of his fingers in the fire but for a day, it would afflict him more, than all outward comforts could delight him; the torments of Hell will not be in one part only, but in every part; not in a weaker degree, but in the greatest extremity; not for a day, or a month, or a year, but for ever; the wicked will be alwaies dying, never dead; the pangs of death will be ever upon them; and yet they shall never give up the ghost; if they could die they would think themselves happy; they wil alwaies be roaring, and never breathe out their last; alwaies sinking, and never come to the bottome; alwaies burning in those flames, and never consumed; the eternity of Hel, wil be the Hel of Hel. When our Saviour endured equivalent punishment to this of Hel, for his people, it had not this circumstance of eternity in it; there not being that need, because of the excellency of his person; so that though the pains of Hel gat hold on him, yet they could not keep him in hold, but he brake thorow them, and triumphed over them, and could say in the conclusion, It is finished: but the damned wil not be able to break thorow their punishment; they wil be compassed about with them, and hedged in, and shut down, and never be able to lift up the head; never shall they say of this punishment, It is finished, for their pains wil alwaies be as it were beginning; when they have spent the time of as many years in Hel as there are Stars in the Firmament, Sands on the Sea shore, and Moats in the Sun, their torment wil be as it were beginning, and no nearer a conclusion; than the first day they were cast into that place. Who can express this eternity? when we lanch forth our thoughts in the consideration thereof, we lose them quickly; it being such a deep which cannot be fathomed, such a vast Ocean which cannot be measured; yet a little to extend your thoughts in the consideration of the Eternity of the wickeds punishment. I shall by one or two suppositions illustrate something of the vastness hereof.
Suppose that this globe of Earth on which we tread were hollow, and that it were filled with great folio Books, as full as it could hold; and moreover there were Books heaped up upon it to fill the whole circumference of the aire round about it; yea that the whole space of place to the uttermost verge of the Empyrean Heavens were filled with Books; and all this vast number of Books were filled with figures in the highest degree of multiplication; O what a number of Books would there be in the whole space of place? what a number of figures in these Books? and what a vast number would there be deciphered by these figures? A bit of paper half as broad as an half penny will hold the figure of the number of as many years as have been since the creation of the World; what then would a whole leaf of a great folio hold? what would a whole folio hold: what then would a room full of folios hold? but what would the whole World full of folios hold? now if at the end of time, when the wicked go to Hell, God should fill the whole space of the World with folios full of figures of numbers; and tell the wicked that every thousand year one of these numbers should be substracted, and promise them when all the numbers were substracted our of all these Books, they should have a release out of their torments; they would have a small spark of hope, that after the substraction of so many millions, millions, millions of innumerable numbers, in the revolution of so many millions, millions, millions of innumerable years, yet at last there would be an end; there would be time then set and a wearing towards an end; yet if we could cast our thoughts so far in a supposition, that all this number of years, wherein all this number of figures were substracted by one in a thousand years were past and gone; yea wherin they were all substracted, as many thousand times as the number of the figures in all those Books would amount unto; yet even then the punishment of the damned would be as far from ending, as at the very first beginning of them.
Yea suppose further, that there were as many Worlds as the number in the Books before supposed would arise unto; and these Worlds should continue as many years as by this account there would be Worlds; and all these Worlds were filled with Angels and Men; and all these Angels and Men should be employed in nothing else from the beginning of these Worlds unto the end of them, but in conceiving numbers of years unto the uttermost conception which they could have of numbers; what a-to-us-inconceivable number of years would there be conceived by so many Angels and Men, in so many years, in so many Worlds? yet if all that vast number of years were joyned to the end of the time wherein all the numbers in the figures of so many before-mentioned Books, were substracted by one in a thousand years; and these multiplied as many thousand times as numbers were conceived; such a vast number of years would reach a great way, but they would not be so much as a haires breadth in the measure of eternity; and if we should suppose the space of all these years too, to be spent by the damned in torments, even then their torments would be as far from a conclusion, as they were upon their first entrance into Hell. O Eternity! Eternity! Eternity! how vast is Eternity! how infinite and immeasurable! how horrible will the thoughts of Eternity be unto the damned! to be punished so extreamly, and that without any intermission, or hopes of a conclusion! to fall into such a horrible Pit, and fiery Lake, and there burn for ever without any possibility of ever getting forth! O dreadful! O blinde World! O sottish sinners! that take no more care now to avoid, and get deliverance from such a punishment as this, which they are exposed unto, and will be the certain consequent of sin without repentance.
Thus concerning the punishment which the wicked shall go into.
- Concerning their entrance into this punishment; when the whole crew of wicked and ungodly persons, together with the whole Flock of Devils are departed from the presence of Christ, and the glorious Saints; and Heaven is now upon their backs, and Hell before their face; and they are now come to the very mouth of the bottomless Pit, unto the Doors and great Gates of Hell; and now they are opened before them, and unto them, and for them; and they see the black smoke ascending up from thence, and smell a horrible stink from the sulphurions Fire, which they must be thrown into; and when they behold the horrible slakes of Fire flashing forth from the Furnace of Hell, ten thousand times more dreadfully than those which were seen to arise from London on the Munday night; and now begin to feel the heat; and see others tumbling in before them, and they following of them; and when they begin first to put their hands and their feet into the Fire; and now they are in and covered with flames, and begin to boile and fry, and when they perceive the Gates of Hell to be shut upon them, and great Stones rowled before them which can never be removed, and great Bars put upon them which can never be broken, and they are out of all hopes of ever breaking Prison, and getting forth; O how will they shreek, and roar, and cry out in the anguish of their souls, and torture of their bodies, Woe, woe le unto its miserable sinners! and is this the Hell which Ministers warned us to flie from? and yet trould we needs run our selves into such flames? Is this the wages of our sin? hath our drunknness, and swearing, and whoring, and lying, and unrighteous dealing, such a dreadfull consequent as this? Is this the company we must take up our eternal abode withall? and this the place of our eternal habitation? must we then dwell in this devouring Fire? and inhabit these everlasting burnings? O miserable! miserable! forlorn wretches we! would God we had never been born! O that we had been Dogs or Swine! O that we had been Serpents or Toads! O that we had been the meanest Worms, or Stones, or anything without Souls who are now annihilated! O that we had been nothing, or might be turned to nothing! O that we could recall our time! how would we improve it. O that it were with us, as once it was, when our being and abode was upon the Earth, when the day of grace did shine upon us, and the meanes of grace were afforded to us! how would we pray, and hear, and watch, and strive, and live! how would we forsake sin, accept of Christ, and deliver up our selves unto universal obedience! But alas time is fled! the day is spent! the door is shut! we are bound up in Chains; which cannot be loosened! we are now in torments, which cannot be remedied; and are extream, and will never be ended! O the pains of my eyes! would I had none! O the pains of my tongue! would it were out, and I were dumb! O the torture of my hands and feet! would they were off, and my whole body were consumed! O I am sick! I am sick! and here is no Physician! I am sad! I am sore troubled! and here is none to pitty me! my head doth burn! my heart doth ake! O the terrours which I feel! O the gripes and tearings of the never dying worm within me!
But who can conceive what the thoughts and complaints of the damned will be at their first entrance into the punishment of Hell? Thus concerning the execution of the sentence pronounced by Christ upon the wicked.
- THe second thing is to speak of the execution of the sentence pronounced by Christ upon the righteous. Matth. 25. 46. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, There is the execution of the sentence on the wicked. But the righteous into life eternal, there is the execution of the sentence on the righteous. And hear I shall speak,
- Of the righteous going away.
- Of the righteous going into life eternal.
- Concerning the righteous going away, The wicked shall go away, and the righteous shall go away too; the wicked shall go away from Christ and Saints, and the happiness of Heaven; and the righteous shall go away from Devils and wicked Persons, and the misery of Hell, which with some considerations will be unspeakably comfortable unto them.
- The righteous shall go away from Devils; Christ doth here redeem them and deliver them from that tyrannical power which the Devil had over them before conversion, yet they are not wholly freed in this life from all his assaults and baits and snares; some of them are much buffeted and oppressed by him most part, if not all their dayes; but at the last day they shall all go away from Sathan; the Devil and all his Angels will be lockt up in the bottomless Pit, and the righteous will never be molested with any of them any more, however the righteous sometimes are foiled by Sathan here, and receive some wounds in their spiritual combat; yet then they will be victorious, and triumph over principalities and powers, and leave them bound in Chains behind them; they shall go away from Devils.
- The righteous shall go away from all the wicked Persons; some of the wicked separated them from their company when they lived on Earth; now God will separate them from the company of all the wicked; they were hated by the wicked and troubled by them, and some of them suffered much under their reproaches and persecutions; then the wicked will cease from troubling them any more: their hearts were grieved with their oaths and filthy lewdness and ungodly conversation in the World; but now they shall go away from the wicked, no Devil, nor wicked Persons shall be admitted into their society, or have any room in the place whether they are going.
- The righteous shall go away, from that place and state of misery which the wicked shall go into; they shall be delivered from the damnation, and punishment of Hell, and all fears of it for ever: and herein their joyes will be unconceivable, in that,
- They shall have deeper apprehensions of the punishment of Hell, than ever did here enter into their hearts to imagine; they were told by the Word and Ministers what a dreadful punishment was preparing for the damned; and they did believe it, and fear it, and flee from it; but the one half was not told them; the Fire which they conceived, was but as it were a painted Fire in comparison with that which they will see the wicked cast into; the pains they fancied were but fleabitings, in comparison with those which they will see the wicked undergo: they guessed something at the wrath of God, by the little scortchings thereof in their first conviction of, and contrition for sin; by the sweetness of Gods smiles of love afterwards, they judged that his displeasure and fury would be unsupportable; but their thoughts were mean, and short of that fiery vengeance and dreadful wrath which then will break forth into a flame to consume the ungodly: as the wicked wil have high apprehensions of the glory and happiness of the righteous beyond whatever entred into their hearts to conceive here in this World, and it will be their unutterable grief to be deprived thereof, and shut out for ever from the Kingdome of Heaven, which the righteous with joy and triumph shall go into: so the righteous shall have deep apprehensions of the sufferings and misery of the wicked, beyond whatever they did imagine here; and it will be no small part of their joy that they are delivered from this misery, and saved from the torments of Hell, into which they shall see the wicked go into, with such dread and horrour. Lazarus will then see Dives tormented; the other Apostles will see Iudas thrust into Hell, and all the righteous will be Spectators of the vengeance which the Lord Jesus will execute upon the ungodly World; and O how will they then adore Gods electing love? how will they value the blood of Christ, which was shed for the redemption of them? how will they bless God for pardoning mercy? how will they hugg the feet of their Saviour, who hath delivered them from this so dreadful wrath, and fearful torments which they will see inflicted then upon the damned? especially,
- When they consider in their going away, that they were by nature Children of wrath, even as others; Eph. 2. 3. That they had as soul natures as the vilest; that they had as leprous, poisonous, odious hearts, until they were renewed and sanctified, as those which they shall see condemned and tormented; that they were sometimes foolish and disobedient, serving divers lusts, and pleasures, hateful and hating one another, until the kindness and free love of God was manifested in the regeneration and renovation of them by the holy Ghost. Tit. 3. 3, 4, 5. That they were dead in sin with others, and walked according to the course of the World, according to the Prince of the power of the Aire, who wrought in them, as in other Children of disobedience, so that they were as forward as others to fulfill the desires of the flesh and of the minde, and ran with others to the same excess of riot; until God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved them, had quickned them and saved them by his grace, and hereby put a difference between them and the wicked, who went on to the end of the sinful course in which sometimes they were running with them in company. Eph. 2. 1, 2, 3, 4, &c. yea some of them will remember, how they out-stripped others in sin, and were guilty of more gross breaches of the Law than many millions of the wicked, whom they will see condemned; and that they should escape, and be awakened to repent, and enabled to believe and reform; and that they should obtain pardon and salvation thorow Christ, when others were passed by, and let alone to perish under smaller sins; this will fill them with astonishing admiration, and wondering joy: when they see some of their neer Relations going to Hel, their Fathers, their Mothers, their Children, their Husbands, their Wives, their Brethren, their Sisters, their intimate Friends, and Companions; however they are grieved now to see them take such courses, and walk in the way to Hell, and they labour to pull them out of that way, and would fain perswade them to walk with them in Heavens way; and are troubled to forethink of the torment which they must endure, if they go on; yet hereafter relative tyes, and those affections which now they have to relations out of Christ, wil cease; and they wil not have the least trouble to see them sentenced to hel, and thrust into the fiery furnace; but rejoyce in the glory of God which wil be manifested upon them in their destruction; and, O the joy that they wil be filled withal to think that they were not passed by with the rest of their relations; that they are not under the same deserved-condemnation with them; that God should chuse but one or two in many families, and they should be in the number of the chosen ones; that when his chosen were comparatively so few, and the reprobates so many, that they should be elected; when there was no motive in them to encline God to the choice of them, that he should chuse them freely; if he had not chosen them, if they were now to change places with some of their wicked relations going to Hel; this would be dreadful; but that they are going from Hel, when their relations are going into it, this wil fil them with joy unspeakable. Especially,
- When they consider in their going away, that they were sometime so neer to Hell; that whilst they were in a state of nature, and under the guilt of sin, that some of them were neer to death; that they were brought to the sides of the pit, to the doors of the grave, to the very brink of Hell, before they had repented, and accepted of Jesus Christ; some of them will remember how neer they were to death when they were young; how neer they were to death by some casualties: how neer by some diseases; some of them will remember the great Plague in London, which swept away so many thousands▪ how ill they were provided for death at the beginning thereof; how neerly they escaped the disease; and some which had the disease, how neerly they escaped death by it; and if they had died then, that they should certainly have gone to Hell: O how will they admire the Providence of God in keeping them alive, notwithstanding the many dangers they were in of death, all the daies of their unregeneracy; and when they moreover consider how they tried Gods patience, and trampled upon it, by their hainous provocations; how they abused his goodness, and turned his grace into wantonness; how they did hasten in the waies of sin towards hell, and were come even to the end of the line; that some of them were Drunkards, and Sabbath-breakers, and profane persons, and swearers, and unclean persons, and persecutors of the people of God, and were arrived even to the heighth of wickedness, and wan•ed but a step or two of falling into Hell; and yet that the Lord should meet with them, with a flaming sword in the way of sin, they were driving on so fast and furiously in, and stop them, and turn them; and change them, and bring them home to himself; yea, when they had deafned their ears against many calls, and stifled many convictions, and often quenched the motions of his spirit, and were so unwilling to leave their sins, and to come out of the way of destruction, & were so desperately bent upon their ruine; that yet he should knock, and call again and again, and follow them still by his Spirit; that he should lay hold on them as the Angels did on Lot, and bring them out of Sodom, even by force; and over-power the contranitency of their stubborn wills, and break open the door of their hearts, and overturn the strong holds of sin and sathan, and set up the throne of his Son within them; that he should snatch them like fire-brands out of the fire; and pluck them out of the snare of the devil, that had almost drag’d them into Hell; O how will they be astonished to remember Gods infinite pitty and love, and the power of his rich grace that did work salvation for them? especially when they perceive how dreadful the misery is which they were hastning unto? I have heard of a man who in the night galloped over a high bridge which was broken down all but a narrow plank, which Gods providence directed his horses feet upon; which if they had slipt never so little on the one side or the other, horse and man had fallen into the deep stream, and been drowned; which the man did not know till the next morning; but then, viewing the place, and considering the danger he had so narrowly escaped, was struck with such astonishment at it, that he fell down dead in the place. When some of Gods people shall go away from Hell at the last day, and look behind them into the bottomless-pit, and take a view of the streams of fire and brimstone, which are running in the burning lake; and remember how they have galloped over those streams, when they were in the carreer of their sins; and by how narro• a planke they passed over them; that if they had slipped but a little aside, they had fallen into the lake, from whence they could never have got out; when they shall remember how neer they were to Hell, and how narrowly they have escaped such horrible torments; •urely they will be struck with such admiration and joy which now they could not bear, but would over-whelm their spirits, and bring immediate death upon them; but then their nature will be strengthned to bear this joy, which might be enough to sweeten an eternity, if they had no other happiness than the consideration of the misery from which they have been so wonderfully delivered. Thus concerning the going away of the righteous from the wicked, and the miseries which they shall endu•e.
- Concerning their going into eternal life: and here I shall speak,
- Of the eternal life they shall go into.
- Of their going into eternal life.
- Concerning the eternal life which the righteous shall go into. Eternal life is taken in Scripture frequently for the life of grace; but chiefly, and so here, for the life of glory: by eternal life we are to understand the glory and happiness which the righteous shall have in Heaven, of which happiness in Heaven I shall speak,
- Subjectively. The subject of the happiness in Heaven, will be both the bodies and the souls of the righteous.
- The bodies of the righteous will be subjects of the happiness of Heaven.
- They shall be most glorious bodies, 1 Cor. 15. 43. They are sown in dishonour, when they die; they shall be raised in glory at the resurrection; some glory and Majesty is put upon the bodies of men now, in comparison with the bodies of inferiour creatures; but the bodies of the righteous shall then be made a thousand-fold more glorious; there is not so great a difference between celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; between the body of the glorious Sun, and the body of the meanest fly or worm, as then there will be between the bodies of the righteous on earth, and in heaven: they will be celestial bodies; they will shine like Stars, Dan. 12. 3. Yea, like the Sun in the Kingdom of their father, Matth. 13. 43. their bodies will be transformed, whereby their dirty hue will be changed, more than if all the stones in the street were turned into Diamonds, Phil. 3. 21. Their vile bodies will be fashi•ed like unto the glorious body of Christ: Now their bodies are vile, being so frail, especially as they are the instruments of sin; they are earthy, as they bear the image of the earthy Adam; then they shall be glorious, because they shall bear the Image of the Heavenly Adam: the bodies of some doe now shine with Gold and Pearls, and costly Apparrel which are about them, and yet under all, their bodies remain vile bodies; but hereafter the bodies of the righteous shall shine with a m•rvellous brightness and glory through the qualities which shall be in them, beyond what the richest attire can give.
- And by consequence the bodies of the righteous shall be most beautiful bodies: they shall have a perfect beauty, beyond whatever eye did behold, in the fairest women that ever lived upon the face of the earth.
Their bodies will have the most exact symetrie of parts; those which were mis-shapen here, shall then be healed of that imperfection in their bodies; the crooked back shall then be made straight; the members which now are wanting, shall be supplied, and the parts which now are dissolved shall be put into the right place; and all joined so exactly together; especially the lineaments of the face shall have such a figure and composition, as shall render their feature most lovely, and graceful, beyond what the greatest observers, and admirers of beauty, can conceive in their fancy.
Moreover, the bodies of the righteous shall have a most sweet mixture of colours; there will be no black skin, no swarthy complexion, no pale face, no wan look; their colour will be most lovely, without change or fading; there will be no wrinkles of old age, but they will be alwaies young, fresh, and blooming; if the composition of these elements, which are so dreggish, doth give forth in some such loveliness of colour, what wil the more refined composition of the bodies of the righteous do, and when the Lord will fashion their bodies after the pattern of his Sons body: and therefore I conceive further that the bodies of the righteous shall have a most comely stature, not dwarfish not gigantick; but according to the measure of the stature of Christ: And lastly, to compleat their beauty, I doubt not but they wil have most graceful gestures and sparkling motions in their countenances; they wil have no grief to deaden their beauty, no anger or envy, or the like, to change and transform their visage; but love and joy wil continually look out at their eyes, which will marvellously add to the lustre and sweetness of their beauty; they shall have most beautiful bodies.
- The bodies of the righteous shall be most strong, that they may be sutable to their great soul, and fit for such works as in heaven they must be employed in; were they weak as now they are, they would never endure such works and motions, they would tire and faint, their spirits would quickly be spent; but in Heaven there will be no lassitude and weariness; no fainting, or failure of spirits; all their motions, though never so great and continual, will be sweet and delightful; and therefore their bodies must be strong that they may be sutable hereunto: Moreover the glory of Heaven, which they shall have in their eye would sinke a weak body, and the ravishing joyes and love, the transports of their souls in the visions which they shall have, would crack a weak vessel to pieces; they must be strong to bear the glory of the place; and when besides they must endure unto all eternity; and all this without reparation, by meat, or drink, or sleep; I conceive that no bodies visible to us are made so strong, as the bodies of the righteous will be made at the last day.
- Hence it follows, that their bodies will be most healthfull bodies, they will be free from all pain, and disease, which may in the least weaken them; the temperature of their bodies will be so exact, that there will be no fighting of contrary qualities within them, no flowing of ill humours: In Heaven there will be no plague nor ague, not feaver, nor gout, not stone, nor strangury, nor any distemper, no need of food to preserve health, nor physick to recover it.
- The bodies of the righteous will be spiritual bodies, I Cor. 15. 44. not absolutely spiritual; for then they would cease to be bodies; but comparatively, to what they are now, they will be spiritual, that is, I conceive they will be quick and nimble in their motions, like spirits; now they are dull, and slow, and heavy, and a clog to the spirit; I conceive that hereafter they shall be like Angels for quick and nimble motion; they may be so qualified, as in a moment to move many thousand miles; why may not they move so quick then, as well as the Sun and other Stars in the Firmament do so now, which are bodies of many thousand times greater magnitude.
- The bodies of the righteous will be incorruptible and immortal, 1 Cor. 15. 43. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. And v. 52, 53. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, the dead shall be raised incorruptible; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortall must put on immortality. And v. 54. Then shall come to pass the saying which is written, Death is swallowed up in victory, Now death is unavoidable, and unto some is very terrible; death hath all the children of men in the chase, and shoce• his arrows at the righteous, as well as the wicked; and though they be delivered from the sting of death which is sin, yet they are not delivered from the stroke of death; but however death play the tyrant here on the earth, and spare none; yet he will have no footing in Heaven; the bodies of the righteous when raised up again will be impassible and immortal; immortality will be swallowed up of life, and the life of the body, as well as of the soul will be everlasting.
- The souls of the righteous will be the subjects, and the chief subjects of the glory and happiness of Heaven; if their bodies shall be glorious, their souls shall be much more glorious; as being their more excellent part, and capable of more glory than their bodies will be; we read, Rom. 8. 18. Of the glory which shall be revealed in us, that is, in the soul; and the Apostle tells us, that, The sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with this glory; the greatest sufferings and calamities in this World have not that evil and misery in the least shaddow of comparison, with the happiness of the glory which shall be put into the souls of the Saints; indeed the Apostle doth compare them, and see how he makes this future glory to out-ballance. 2 Cor. 4. 17. These light offlictions, which are but for a moment, do work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The afflictions are light, but the glory will be weighty, the afflictions are but for a moment, but the glory will be eternal; the weight of glory will be exceeding, more exceeding, far more exceeding, here the Apostle layes one high expression upon the back of another, and another upon that, like so many great Mountains upon the back one of another, and when he hath got upon the top of the highest of them, yet he is too low to look into the glory of Heaven, and his expressions and apprehensions fall short of the glory which shall be revealed in the soul, when it shall be received into the new Ierusalem, for it is yet to be revealed: and therefore as the Apostle Iohn saith, I Ioh. 3, 2. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but when Christ shall appear, we shall be made like him; not only the body shall be made like his glorious body, but also the soul shall be made like his glorious soul, for we shall see him, as he is▪ as the eye doth receive the image of the object, which it looks upon, so the soul in its vision of Christ shall receive the Image of Christ, and have a perfect similitude and likeness unto him; the soul will be made most beautiful, the perfect lineaments of Christ will be drawn upon it: if grace makes the soul to shine here, how much more will glory, which is grace in the perfection of it, make the soul to shine in Heaven? and therefore grace is called glory, it is glory begun: 2 Cor. 3. 18. We all with open face beholding, as in a Glass, the Glory of the Lord, are changed into the same Image, from glory to glory, as by the spirit of the Lord. The Vail, which was under the Law, is now taken away, and with open face we behold the glory of the Lord, that is, I conceive the Lord Jesus Christ who is the glory of the Father, the brightness of the Fathers glory; which glory was more dark to our view under the Law, represented by the cloud, which filled the Temple; but now there is more clear revelation of Christ without the Vail, and clouds of types and figures, whom we now see in the Glass of the Word and Ordinances, and hereby are changed into his Image, and receive fro• him impressions of grace, which is glory begun, through the operation of his spirit in his Ordinances upon us; yet stil we see him in a Glass, and therefore there is a darkness, through this interposition; and the eye of our faith which looks thorow this Glass upon Christ is weak, and therefore our Graces are imperfect, and our similitude to him is imperfect; but when the Glasse shall be removed, and instead of the sight of faith, we shall have an immediate Vision, then our souls will be changed into a perfect conformity unto his Image, and it will not be from glory to glory, from one degree unto another, but glory will be arrived unto its heighth, and the souls of the righteous will be made perfectly glorious; their souls will then have perfection of holiness without the least remainders of sin, which in this World the most holy Persons are not wholly free from.
- Their thoughts shall be holy; no bla•phemous thoughts shall then arise in their minde, no filthy thoughts, no e•vious and malicious thoughts, yea they shall not have the least vanity or impertinency in their thoughts, all their thoughts shall then be brought into p•rfect obedience unto Jesus Christ.
- Their understandings shall be holy; there shall not be the least Cloud or mist of ignorance or errour to darken and •ully them, when they appear before the glorious Sun of righteousness, the brightness which will issue forth from his face will dispel all clouds, and they will have a clear understanding of all things which will be needful fo• them to know, to make them happy; God will then unlock his treasures, open his Books, which ••w are sealed, and open their understandings too, that they may conceive those mysteries of his word, and that manifold wisdome of God, which now do exceed their comprehensions.
- Their memories shall be holy; they shall be strengthn•d to retain and bring forth continually out of their treasures whatever things, new or old, shall tend to feed them with love and joy, and elevate their souls in the prai•es of God.
- Their wills shall be perfectly holy; there shall be a sweet harmony between their wills and •he will of God, a perfect compliance with the sweet Law which they shall be under, without the least contranitency, or contradiction; they shall not have any evil motion, or inclination of will in Heaven.
- Their hearts and affections shall be perfectly holy; the inner room of their hearts shall then be swept clean of all cob-webs, there shall not the •east dust of sin-remain; the roots of bitterness will be plucked up then, and the stains which now are upon them shall be washed off; all the disorders and distempers in their affections shall be removed, yea some affections which now they have •nd are suitable to this estate of sin and imperfection, shall be removed in their state of glory; •uch as grief, anger, fear, and the like; they shall •ave no bitterness upon their spirits, no sorrow in •heir hearts, no sinking and fainting of spirit, no discouragement and dispondency, no terrour or •erplexity, no anguish or anxiety; all these shall flee away like a Cloud, yea they shall have no •ope in Heaven, nor desire as I conceive, because •hese affections suppose the chief good to be ab•ent, and imply imperfection; but there they •hall have a perfect enjoyment and rest of soul in •he chief good; which is the next thing to be spo•en of, namely the object of the Saints happiness 〈◊〉 Heaven.
- Objectively, The object of the happiness of •e righteous in Heaven, or the chief good which •ill make them perfectly an• compleatly happy, •ill be God, who is infinitely good in himself, and infinitely blessed in the enjoyment of himself, and in him will the happiness of the righteous consist; that which fills an Ocean, surely will fill a Bucket, or nut-shell; God will be the happiness of the righteous for ever; it is but a thin and subordinate happiness which is to be found in the creature; it is but an imperfect happiness which is here to be found in God, because of our blindness and sin, and incapacity; but in Heaven God will be a perfect happiness unto the Saints: It is said 1 Cor. 15. 28. That God shall be all in all. God will be the whole happiness of the righteous, Go• in himself, God in his Son, God in the Angel• God in other Saints, God in themselves, God will be all in all, the only object of their happinesse.
- Formally, the happiness of the righteous in Heaven will consist in the union of the subject and object together, God will be united to their mindes by Vision, and to their hearts by Love, from whence will spring unspeakable joy.
- The mindes of the Saints, will have a perfe• vision of God, which will infinitely transcend a•• the visions and sweetest discoveries of God, which they have, or ate capable of in this World; hereafter their capacity will be enlarged, their mindes will be elevated; here they see God darkly, there they shall see him clearly; here they see him af•• off, there they shall see him neerly; here they see him as he is represented, there they shall see him as he is; here they see him in a Glass, there they shall see him immediatly; here they see aliquid de Deo, there they shall see Deum; here they see his foot-steps, some impresses of God upon the Creatures, especially upon his Children, chiefly they see his Image in Christ, whom they view by faith in the Glass of the Gospel, (as was said) yet the uttermost they can here attain unto, is to see his backparts, but in Heaven they shall see his face, they shall see him face to face; they shall see him as he is. This, this will be the happiness of the righteous in Heaven, to have the immediate sight, the beatifical vision of God.
- The hearts of the righteous shall be joyned to God, who is their chief good, by love. But who can utter the love which the Saints shall have unto God in Heaven? it will exceed our now conceptions, much more will it exceed the love which those of the most intimate acquaintance with God do here at•ain unto; that it will be heightned beyond what now it is, we may apprehend, if we consider,
- That the righteous will have an immediate vision of God, as hath been shown; now they live in a dark World, and have a Cloud upon their mindes, and see but a little of God through the perspective Glass of his Ordinances, a little in the works of his hands, and in the works of his spirit upon the hearts of his Children; and if when they see and know him so little, they can love him so dearly above the whole World, how will they love him when they behold his face, when the Clouds shall be dispelled, and the Sun break sorth? when they behold his beauty, and the transcendent excellencies which are in him, beyond whatever they could here imagine? how will their hearts be ravished with love to look God in the face▪ when they see him in himself, when they see him in his Son, when the Divinity of Christ shall appear in him, and shine so gloriously before them, when they see the Angels so full of God, and the Saints so full of God, and every thing in Heaven represent the glorious Jehovah unto them?
- The love of God will heighten their love to him; to be loved by such an excellent Person, and with such a superlative love, O how will this enflame their hearts with love unto him? when they take a review of the past expressions of his love, and finde the love of God in many things, which they did not minde, when they were in the World and when they see a thousand fold more love i• those things which they did take notice of, but with low apprehensions, and dull affections, how will it raise their hearts? when their apprehensions of his love shal be raised; they wil admire electing love so free towards them without any prevision of merit in them; they wil admire his love in sending his Son to redeem them, and sending his spirit to convert them; his love in pardoning their sins, i• adopting them to be his Children; now they admire his love sometimes, Behold! what manner 〈◊〉 love is this, that we should •e called the Children 〈◊〉 God! I Ioh. 3. 1. Then they will admire it te• thousand times more; they wil see Gods love i• all his fatherly provisions, protections, yea in hi• chastisements, and corrections, and all his providences working for their good; but O what lov• wil they see in his special distinguishing mercies beyond what now they apprehend; and Gods pa•• love wil have a present and deep impression upo• their hearts; further they wil see the treasures 〈◊〉 his love open, the heart of God opened, and th• glory which in Heaven he wil confer upon them, 〈◊〉 which they shall never be deprived; & what a demonstration of Gods love will this be unto them. Moreover then they shall have no doubtings of his love, which here do damp affections, they shall know assuredly that he hath loved them, doth love them, and will love them unchangeably, and eternally; and withal they shall have a full sense of his love upon their hearts, which will make such an impression, as to raise their hearts to an unconceivable heighth of love.
- The righteous will have a higher capacity for love in Heaven, than here they have, and they shall be filled with love unto the heighth of their capacity; they will be able to love a thousand times more than now they can do, and they shall love unto their utmost ability; they will see perfection of loveliness in God, and all that are about him, and they shall have perfection of love; here their love is sincere and growing, but it is weak and imperfect, hereafter it will be grown up to the full heighth of it, and perfect love will cast out all tormen•; here their love is mixed, the stream is divided, •t runs and wasts it self in many small rivulets, which empty themselves upon the creatures; but then the whole stream will run forth unto God individedly; not a drop of their love shall be •p•lt on the ground; God will be the sole object •f their love: here their love is uneven and inco•stant to God; sometimes it ebbs, and some•imes it slows, sometimes they have a high and •pring-ti•e of love to God, but at other times it 〈◊〉 low water; hereafter their love to God will be •ven and constant, and alwaies at the greatest •eighth.
- And O what joy will there be in their hearts, through the union which the righteous shall have unto God the chief good, when their minds shall be joyned to him in immediate vision, and their hearts in perfect love! O how sweet a fruition of God will this be! what delights will spring from hence! if the Saints can now rejoyce exceedingly in God, when they see him so little, and their love is so imperfect, what will they do when they see and love him perfectly and fully? if they are now exceeding glad sometimes with the light of his countenance, though they have but a glimpse thereof, what will they be, when they shall have a constant view thereof, and live eternally under the beams of that light! their love to God is sweet now, though it be weak; but what will it be in Heaven, when the conjunction of their hearts to God by love shall be so nee• and close? if the Saints can now rejoyce in hope of the glory of God, what will they do in the possession thereof, when faith shall be changed for vision, and hope turned into fruition! O how will the Saints rejoyce and triumph, when they are sailed quite thorow the tempestuous Sea o• this world, and are landed safely in Heaven, where there is rest, and peace, without any windy storm• when they have got the victory over the devil and sin, and are now placed out of the gun-sho• of temptation, and have conquered throug• Christ, the grave, and death, and are out of fe•• of his arrows; when they see that they have escaped the terrible wrath of God, and finde them selves in the arms of his love; when the• perceive that they are in Heaven now in•deed, notwithstanding all their sins, and doubts and fears, and now they have that blessed vision of God which they so much desired; and the full fruition of God in love which they hoped for; when they shall look about them, and see so much glory about them, and shall look within them, and see so much glory there revealed, beyond whatever they could imagine; O how will they be transported with joy! then they will have fulness of joy in the presence of God, and their pleasure and happiness wil be perfect without interruption or possibility of a conclusion. And the eternity of their happiness will be the Heaven of Heaven, as eternity of misery will be the Hell of Hell.
Thus concerning the happiness of the Saints, or the eternal life of glory, which they shall enter into.
- Concerning the righteous going or entring into eternal life. The righteous after the pronouncing of their sentence, and their seeing the execution of the sentence of the wicked, shall pass away from them, and go with Christ into eternal life; they shall go with singing to the Zion which is above, and everlasting joy on their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isa. 51. 11. It wil be a most glorious train, such as eye never hath seen, which will go together unto Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ will be in the head in shining glory, all the holy Angels will be with him, and the whole company of the righteous will be together, that ever lived in all generations; and O with what mirth and gladness will they move towards Heaven together; with what shoutings and Hosannah’s will they attend upon the glorious triumph of our Saviour, unto the new Ierusalem! but when they are come to the gates of Heaven, and the everlasting doors shall be lifted up to them, and they look into the place prepared for their eternal abode; when the Lord Iesus shall bring them into the glorious presence of the Father, and they shall have the beatifical vision of his face, and see the smiles of his countenance and are received into the imbracements of his love; Then, Then they will finde themselves to be happy indeed! then their heart will be filled with joy, and their tongues with singing; then they will sing the new Song, the Song of the Lamb, which now cannot be learned▪ then they will sound forth the prayses of God and cry with a loud voice, as Rev. 7. 10, 11. Salvati•n to our God, 〈…〉 up•n the Throne, and to the L•mb, And worshipping God they will say, Amen, Blessing, and Glory, and Wisdom, and Than•sgiving, and Honour, and Power, and Might be unt• our God for ever and ever, Amen. And there shall they live and reign for evermore.
Thus concerning the execution of the sentence• on the righteous; and concerning the second appearance of Christ, and end thereof.
- COne•rning the Certainty of Christs second appearance.
I’shall prove this by several Arguments.
- A•g. If the Scriptures have clearly revealed an•〈◊〉 Christ’s second appearance to judgment, an•〈◊〉 the Scriptures are certainly true, then this second appearance of Christ is certain: But the Scriptures have clearly revealed and foretold this second appearance of Christ to judgement; and the Scriptures are certainly true: Therefore the second appearance of Christ is certain.
- The Scriptures have clearly revealed and foretold Christ’s second appearance to judgment. It is not a truth written in the book of nature, it is not to be found in the writings of the Philosophers, and those who have had the highest speculations of natural causes, and effects, and products; this is a mysterie which the world by wisdom could never finde out; it is a secret which hath been hid in God, and is revealed by his Spirit in his Word: this coming of Christ was foretold by Enoch, Iude 14. 15. And Enoch also the seventh from Adam pr•phesied, Behold the Lord ••meth with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute judgement upon all, &c. So that it is of ancient revelation. The first coming of Christ was foretold to Adam, in the promise, that the seed of the woman should break the Serpents head; and the second coming of Christ was foretold to En•ch. It is foretold by the Angels, Acts 1. 10, 11. Whilst the Disciples looked stedfastly upon our Saviour in his Ascension, two Angels say unto them, Ye men of G•lilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this same Iesus which is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come down in like manner as •e have seen him go into Heaven; however Devils are Lyars, and the Fathers of Lyes and Lyars; yet the good Angels are true, and Ministers of truth, and this is a true restimony; further this is foretold by the Ap•stles, who were employed to be the Pen-men of part of the holy Scripture, and were guided by an infallible spirit; the Apostle Paul speaks often of it, especially see his testimony, I Thes. 4. 15, 16, 17. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep: For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Arch-angel, and with the Trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord; Thus he sets forth Christs coming in a comfortable manner unto his people; therefore exhorteth Christians to comfort one another with those words, and hopes of Christs glorious appearance, when they should be caught up to meet with him, and be with him for ever: and he sets it forth in a dreadful manner, in regard of the wicked, 2 Thes. I: 7, 8, 9. The Lord Iesus shall be revealed from Heaven, with his Mighty Angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them which know not God, and obey not the Gospel, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. Moreover this coming of Christ is spoken of by the Apostle in every Chapter of both of these Epistles, I Epist, Chap. 1. 10, And to wait for his Son from Heaven. Chap. 2. 19. What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoycing, are not ye in the presence of the Lord Iesus at his coming. Chap. 3. 13. To the end he may establish you, unblameable in holiness at the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ. Chap. 4. 16. The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a shout. Chap. 5. 23. I pray that your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ. 2. Epist. Chap. 1. 10. He shall come to •e glorified in his Saints. Chap. 2. 1, 3. Now I beseech you brethren, by the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him; that ye be not soon shaken in minde, &c. Chap. 3. 5. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and patient waiting for Christ. I might turn you to further testimonies of his. Tit. 2, 13. Looking for the blessed hope, and glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour. Heb. 9. 28. Unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time unto salvation. We have also the testimony of the Apostle Iames, Chap. 5. 7. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Of the Apostle Peter, 1 Epist, Chap. 5. 4. When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a Crown of glory which fadeth not away. 2 Epist. Chap. 3. 10. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Of the Apostle Iohn, 1 Epist. Chap. 3. 2. When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And in his Revelation frequently, Rev. 1. 7. Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall waile because of him. Even so Amen. To conclude, we have the testimony of our Saviour himself whilst on earth, to his Disciples, Mat. 16. 27. The Son of man shall come in the glory of the Father, with his Angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matth. 24. 27. As lightning, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. V. 30. They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven. V. 31. And he shall send his Angels with a great sound of a Trumpet to gather the Elect from the four Winds. Mat. 25. especially from the 31. to the end, where his judicial proceedings are set forth; and our Saviour doth testifie to his enemies, that he would come again, Matth. 26. 64. Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of Heaven. And our Saviour testified by his Angel to Iohn his beloved Disciple, after his ascension into Heaven, that he would come again, especially, Rev. 22. where we have three promises of the same thing. V. 7. Behold I come quickly, Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of this Book. V. 12. Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be, V. 20. Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so Come Lord Iesus. If any one word in the whole Book of God may be believed, this concerning Christ’s second coming and appearance may be believed, of which we have such frequent and evident testimonies in the Word; as surely as he came the first time in the flesh, according to the predictions hereof in the Old Testament: so surely will he come the second time in glory, according to the predictions in the New Testament. God can as soon cease to be God, as this Word concerning Christs second coming fail; when the Sun goes down in the evening, we believe it will return and arise at such a time in the morning, & accordingly it comes to pass: So now Christ the Sun of righteousness is gone into Heaven, whilst the night of this world doth last, though we cannot know the certain time, yet we may believe that he will certainly return, and come down from Heaven in the morning of the resurrection; it is more possible that the Sun when it is set, should abide for ever in the other parts of the world, and never arise any more in our Horison, than that Christ should abide for ever in Heaven, and not return to judge the World, when the thing is evidently revealed▪ and frequently promised in the Scripture.
- That the Scriptures are true is evident, because they are the Word of God; who is a God of truth, and cannot lie; who can as soon cease to be God, as cease to be true; untruth in God would argue weakness and imperfection in God, which cannot be, since to be infinitely perfect is his essential property. That God doth know whether Christ shall appear to Judgment, I suppose none will deny, who acknowledge the Deity, and by consequence his omniscience and prescience, especially when the futurity of things doth depend upon his predetermination; and that his revelations of future things are true, I suppose none wil deny, who acknowledge his beeing and perfection, whence follows an impossibility of Gods speaking untruths, and falshood; besides that he need not do it: But then the question wil be, concerning the Divine Authority of the Scriptures, whether they are indeed the Word of God, which (if proved) wil evidence the certainty of Christ’s coming to Judgment, which is there revealed and foretold.
That the Scriptures are the Word of God, will appear,
- From the Superscription and Image of God upon them.
- From the marvellous power and efficacy of them.
- From the Historical Relation in them of Prophesies fulfilled, and Miracles whereby they were confirmed, and the rationally unquestionable certainty of this History, as it is handed down to p•sterity.
- From the superscription and Image of God upon them, I mean in that, 1 They bear the name of the Word of God. 2 In that they bear such evident marks and characters of Divinity.
- The Scriptures bear the name of the Word of God. 2 Tim. 3. 16. All Scripture is given by divine inspiration. We cannot rationally imagine that the all-seeing and jealous God should permit such an impious forgery and deceit to receive credit for so many generations, amongst the most zealous worshipers of him in the World; and by such wonderful providences preserve and maintain the Scriptures against the rage and fury of an ungodly World, who have opposed the truths therein contained, and endeavoured the suppressing of the Light, which therein hath shined, if so be that they had been a forgery and deceit indeed, and the fancies and inventions of Men, fathered upon him as his Word, and will, and proceeding from the inspirations of his spirit; but that he would have made known their falshood unto some, at least, who had the greatest love and respect to his name and honour, and have been the most diligent enquirers after truth, and unwilling to be imposed upon with deceits, especially in such things as are of the highest concernment; which the Lord having given no testimony against, but all along owned; and when none in the World, either worshippers of him, or others of highest pretensions to reason have any evident and swaying reason to believe that the Scriptures are a deceit; (whatever some black mouths mutter in corners) it is not irrational for us to believe, that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God, which they bear the Title of.
- Moreover and especially, the Scriptures appear to be from divine inspiration, insomuch as they bear such evident marks and characters of divinity beyond all other Books.
- The first character of Divinity in the Scriptures, is the clear discoveries and high praises, which they give of God, and the chief design of the whole Book, which is Gods glory. No Heathen Philosopher or Writer could think, or speak so highly of God, as the Scriptures do speak. However God hath put characters of himself in the Book of the Creatures to be read of all, making known by his Works his eternal Beeing, his infinite Power, Wisdome and Goodness; yet most of the wisest Men, who have lived in the Heathen World, and have been the greatest Students of the Book of the Creatures, and have had no view of the Book of the Scriptures, have been so gross in their conceptions of God, that as the Apostle saith, Rom. 1. 22, 23. When they professed themselves to be wise, they became fools; and changed the Glory of the incorruptible God, into an Image made like to corruptible Man, and to Birds, and four-footed Beasts, and creeping things; They have figured to themselves and worshipped many Gods, unto the dishonour of the true God: And if some of them have arrived by the light of nature, unto the notion of one God; yet their conceptions of him have been low, mean, and unworthy of him: and in no Book in the World is God set forth so fully and highly in his glorious attributes, and superlative excellencies, as he hath set forth himself in the Book of the Scriptures. We may finde in heathen Writers high Elogium’s and Panegyricks of some men and Women, famous in their time, for their valour, and some moral vertues, whom they have deified in after ages, and given room amongst their feigned Gods and Goddesses, dedicating Temples, and giving worship unto them: but in no Heathen writings shall we finde the praises of the true God, and rules given for the service and worship of him alone, as we shall finde in the Scriptures. Large Volumes some Heathens have left behinde them, the design of which hath been their own glory, and (as much as in them lay) the eternizing their Fame, which is an evidence that themselves were Authors of them; because we cannot rationally think that any motive should induce others to make, and put forth Books in their names, that they might obtain glory for them unto whom it did not belong: so this little volume of the Scriptures, designing the glory of God, and the promoting of his Interest in the hearts of Men, and the Pen-men employed in the writing thereof, not in the least pretending, that what they wrote, was the invention of their own brain, doth evidence God himself to be the Author of this Book. Wherefore the Scriptures being so clear in their discoveries of the one true God, and setting him forth more gloriously than any other Book, and ascribing all praise and honour to him, and appointing all religious worship to be given to him only, and designing his glory throughout the whole, doth evince that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God.
- The second Character of Divinity in the Scripture is, the sublime mysteries therein revealed; namely concerning the Trinity of Persons in one nature and essence of God; the hypostatical union of the two natures of God and Man in one person of Christ; the mystical union of Christ and his members, and the like; which mysteries are so sublime, so high, that no mortal Man of the highest reason, and most elevated understanding could possibly invent, in as much as no• they are revealed, they exceed the capacity of the most enlightned to understand: especially if we further consider by whom these mysteries were revealed; not by the great Schollars, and subtle Philosophers of the World; not by them who were brought up in Schools, and had conversed with Books and learned Men; not by Men of high parts, who had polished their reason, and heightned their understandings by all possible humane helps▪ but the most of the Pen-men of the Scripture, especially those by whom the greatest mysteries are revealed, were Fisher-men, Publicans, and the like; Men of mean education, illiterate Men; Men of no reading, and of but mean natural abilities; as appeares not only by the history, but also by the stile of their writings; which hath not that politeness as is to be found in many humane Authors; which doth not run in such a golden stream of eloquence, neither is dressed with such neatnesses of wit, nor garnished with such flowers of Rhetorick; which is not methodized by the rules of Logick, nor enterlarded with any peepings of humane wisdome; which doth not savour of high parts, and great natural ingenuity, or give the least suspicion of cunning and subtilty, which these Men had above others; But some of the highest mysteries of divinity are set forth by these Pen men in a passsing-mean and home-spun dress, yea they are left even naked and bare of such apparel, as the ingenuous Men of the World have cloathed their matter withall, which hath given the light of the most glorious truths and mysteries more evident discovery; not but that some parts of the Scriptures have such a strain of divine eloquence, as doth exceed humane writings; but the plainness of the stile, especially of the Apostle Iohn in his Gospel, and Matthew, &c. Doth evince that what they delivered was not their own invention, but that they were acted by another spirit in the writing of them, even by the spirit of God, who did reveal all the mysteries, which they speak of in whole, unto them.
- A third Character of Divinity in the Scriptures is the wisdome which there doth appear, especially the wonderful contrivement of God’s wisdome in Mans redemption and salvation by Iesus Christ, which is there made known; No Book in the World doth shine with such beames of wisdome, as the Word doth; it doth teach Men wisdome, spiritual and divine wisdome, in comparison with which all the wisdome of the World is but foolishness; It doth irradiate the minde with the most glorious light, and proposeth to the understanding the most noble objects; it discovers the greatest truths of the greatest concernment; it sheweth the way to avoid the most dreadful effects which sin will produce, and to obtain the highest happiness which humane nature is capable of; which is one part of its divine stamp. Moreover the Scriptures do set forth the infinite wisdome of God, in the wonderful contrivement of the salvation of fallen Man by his only Son the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of Man-kind, which wisdome being so transcendent, doth evidence both the Contrivement thereof in Mans salvation, and the discovery thereof in the Scriptures to be from himself: so that as by the light of the Word we may know what this wisdome was, even so by this wisdome we may know the Word to be the Word of God.
To clear this Argument, I shall show, 1. That the way of Mans salvation by Iesus Christ, which the Scriptures reveal, must needs be the contrivement of Gods wisdome. 2. That the revelation of this contrivement must needs be from God, which I suppose will be an evident demonstration of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures.
- That the way of Mans Salvation by Iesus Christ was the contrivement of Gods wisdome, will appear, because it was impossible for any Man of the most searching brain, and most notable invention to have imagined it. Man being guilty of sin against the Law of God, inscribed upon the hearts of all Men, which natural Conscience will accuse of, if sinners listen thereunto; and Gods Justice being engaged to inflict a punishment proportionable unto the crime without a satisfaction, which right reason will say is but reasonable; and this justice of God being infinite; must in reason require an infinite satisfaction; Now what created understanding could of it self have contrived or conceived a way how this should be done? Every thing that hath a being, is either God or a Creature; all the Creatures are finite in their Beeings and actions, and therefore could not make an infinite satisfaction; It is God only who is infinite, and he being the party offended could not make satisfaction to his own justice, especially since his justice requires punishment for satisfaction, which God as God, being impassible, is uncapable of; not to say any thing that the same nature which did commit sin should in justice suffer the punishment; would not reason now conclude, that it were impossible for this satisfaction to be made? Surely it was none but the wisdome of God that could contrive the way of satisfaction to his justice, by the incarnation of his Son, by the union of the divine nature in the second Person of the Trinity, unto the humane nature in the Person of Christ, that so by vertue of the hypostatical union, the humane nature might not only be strengthned to undergo the wrath of God, which was due for the sins of Men, in the sufferings which he endured before, and upon the Cross; but also that through the communication of attributes, the sufferings of Christ might be of infinite value, because the sufferings of such a Person as was God, as well as Man, that so they might be a full satisfaction unto Gods justice for sin; and through Gods Covenant with him, and gracious acceptation of this satisfaction from the surety, instead of the offenders themselves, the sins of Men might be pardoned, and their souls saved. O the depth of the Wisdome of God! here is the wisdome of God in a mystery! surely they are blinded and hoodwinked by the Devil, who do not acknowledge that this was the contrivement of Gods wisdome.
- That the Revelation of this contrivement of wisdome, was from God: will appear in that none could know the minde of the Lord herein, unless he himsel• had discovered it; What Man, saith the Apostle▪ kn••eth the things of Man, but the spirit 〈…〉 which is in him, even so the things of God •noweth no Man but the spirit of God. 1 Cor. 2. 11. And the spirit of God searcheth all things, even the deep things of God; and unless the spirit had revealed these things, we must have remained in our ignorance of them, since it could not have entered into our hearts to have conceived them: seeing then none could have discovered the deep contrivements of Gods wisdome, unless God by his spirit had revealed them, and seeing these contrivements are revealed in no other Book, but the Book of the Scriptures, it is evident that the Scriptures must needs be the Word of God: which also will further appear, if we consider the manner of the Revelation of the mystery of Mans redemption and salvation by Jesus Christ, that it was revealed by pieces, and more obscurely at first; and that divers Men were made use of in the discovery thereof in divers ages, who spake hereof mostly in dark sayings; and where they spake most clearly, yet themselves had not a clear understanding of what they were moved to speak by the Holy Ghost; but searched what, and what manner of time the Holy Ghost which was in them did signify, when it testified of the sufferings of Christ, and the design of them; whence it is evident that they were not, neither could be the Contrivers of what they revealed, but that the Revelation was from the spirit of God, which did inspire the Prophets, and was the same in all the Pen-men of the holy Scriptures, whom Men of insight in the Scriptures may plainly perceive to be guided and acted by the same spirit in their Revelation of the contrivement and way of Mans salvation by Jesus Christ.
- A Fourth Character of Divinity in the Scriptures is the Purity and Holiness of them; the Scriptures, are like Silver or Gold purified, and seven times tried in the Fire, wherein no dross doth remain. Psal. 12. 7. the Scriptures are pure and holy, from the beginning of them to the end: In no Histories shall we finde such examples of holiness, as the Scriptures do record; in no Writings of moral Philosophers, shall we finde such precepts of holiness, as in the Scriptures are enjoyned: Indeed, the light of nature hath been improved by some Heathens so far, that they have given excellent rules for the restraining of vice, and obtaining of moral vertues, and the ordering their conversations in such a vertuous way, that those persons, who have observed these rules, have been illustrious in their generations, and have shined with some kinde of brightness in the dark places where they have lived; but in no book that ever issued from the brain of man, shall we finde such exact rules for holy living, as in the Book of the Scriptures; In this Book we finde the moral Law summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandements, which was written by God himself on the Tables of Stone, when Moses was with him in the Mount; in which there are such holy precepts▪ as no Heathen author can show the like: the Heathens were blinde, as to the duties of the first Table of the Law, which have a reference unto God, and in observance of which, mans holiness doth chiefly consist; in the second Table duties they had some understanding, yet they were much mistaken in some things, accounting some sins, as ambition, self-murder in some cases, and the like, to be vertues; and they had not so deep an insight into sin, they did not apprehend the inclination of the heart, and the previous motions to the consent of the will to evil, (which the Scriptures do discover) to be sinful and offensive in the eyes of a pure and holy God.
Moreover, in the Scriptures we finde the holy precepts of the Gospel, which the Heathens were strangers unto; and a way discovered not only for the obtaining the pardon of sin, but also for the subduing and mortifying of sin: where means are made known, not only for the restraining of a vicious nature, but also for the changing of it, for the regenerating of the soul of man, and forming it after the Image of the holy God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, the making men partakers of the divine nature, which Heathens never understood the meaning of: the Scriptures show the way of obtaining the sanctifying graces of Gods Spirit, which do further exceed the mo•all vertues of the Heathen in lustre, than the Sun doth exceed the lesser Stars in brightness and glory.
Marvellous is the purity and holiness of the word, such as doth not savour of any thing ter•ene and humane; yea, it is such as is directly opposite to the natural biass of the hearts of all men and women in the world, whilst they are in a state of nature; such as doth contradict carnal affections, and against which the carnal mind hath a natural enmity; and unto which all such and none but such have a liking and love, as are •egenerated by the Spirit of God; whence it strongly follows, that the Scriptures could not proceed from men, but that this holy Book did proceed from the immediate inspiration of the holy Ghost, in those holy men which were the Pen-men thereof.
- It will appear that the Scriptures are the word of God from the marvellous power and efficacy of them. Such a power and spirit hath and doth accompany the preaching of the Gospel, which in the Scriptures is contained, as doth evidence them to be from God alone: we read 1 Pet. 1. 12. of them which preached the Gospel with the holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. This hath been this is unto this day.
- The wonderful power of the Gospel in the first preaching of it, doth evince that it was from God when so great a part of the world was in so sho•• a time subdued unto the obedience thereof; whe• the Gospel prevailed not only amongst many 〈◊〉 the Jews after Christs ascension, and the effusion of the holy Ghost more largely upon the Apostles, so that three thousand people were converted to the faith by one Sermon of the Apostl•Peter, Acts 2. 41. and five thousand mo•e, Act. 4▪ 4. but especially, in that it prevailed among•• the Gentiles and Heathens, and so many Churches of Christ were planted and brought, not b• carnal weapons but by Spiritual, to the subjection and obedience of the Lord Jesus. This power will appear to have been from God, if we consider,
- How few men were employed in the firs• preaching thereof; there were not many whic• we read of, besides Paul and Sar•abas who preached unto the Gentiles at the first. If there ha• been multitudes of witnesses, it might have given the more credit to the Doctrine, when the testimony of a few is not easily believed and received.
- That these men were but of little esteem in the world; that they were Jews whom the Gentiles had an antipathy against; and so were not so ready to believe their report, and entertain their message; that their persons were contemptible in their eyes; that they were like crucified persons to the world, and therefore unlikely to finde acceptation.
- That whatever humane Learning and Wisdom any of them were endowed withall, yet they did not make use of it in their preaching, they did not come with excellency of speech and wisdom in declaring the testimony of God, but used all plainness, which was not likely in it self to produce such great effects.
- That the doctrine which they preached was, 1. New to the world, and tended directly to pull down the old religion, and superstitious worship of the heathenish gods, which they had been brought up in, and wedded unto, which could not be done by any humane power.
- Strange, they preached such things as were above reason, and therefore the world might have had much show and pretence of reason, to have excused themselves from yielding obedience thereunto.
- Strict, severe, and contrary unto natural inclination and interest, they taught the world to deny themselves, to crucifie the flesh, to mortifie the deeds of the body, to take up the cross, to mourn and weep for sin, to endure hardship, to forsake father, and mother, and wife, and children, and houses, and lands, if they stood in competition with Jesus Christ; to venture imprisonments, yea to lay down their life for Christ, as many of necessity must and did do, that would be Christians indeed in those daies; and when the Doctrine of the Gospel was such, surely it was not likely of it self to receive entertainment, unless the power of God had accompanied it.
- The power of the Gospel in the first preaching appears, in that it met with so much opposition; the Devil stirred up instruments against it, the powers of the Earth were against it, as well as the powers of Hell! great men did oppose it, Philosophers were against it, Learned men did oppose it; the Iews were against it, and raised up persecution against the Apostles, and the hearts of all men naturally were against it; and when there was such an opposition against it, surely it was none but the power of God which could cause it to prevaile and conquer, and cause so many Nations to bow and yield obedience hereunto.
- The wonderful power and efficacy of the word, where it is preached unto this day, is a strong argument that it is the Word of God.
- The power of the Word to search the heart, and convince of sin. Heb. 4. 12. The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged Sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; there is a light in the Word, which discovereth the dark filthy corners of the heart, and convinceth of secret sins; and there is a sharp edge in the word to cut and wound; no word in the world searcheth and pierceth, like the word in the Scriptures.
- And especially the power of the Word doth appear in the work of conversion and regeneration, which it effecteth; it is called the incorruptible seed, by which men are born again. 1 Pet. 1. 23. Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth. Iam. 1. 18. there is a great power goeth along with it, •o break rockie hearts, to bow stubborn wils, to spiritualize carnal affections, to subdue strong lusts, to work a gracious and thorow change in the heart of man, which exceedeth the power of nature, or moral suasion; and in so much as all are not wrought upon by it which read or hear it, yea sometimes the more disposed subject receiveth no impression thereby, and the less disposed subject is effectually changed; which shows, that the •ower doth proceed from God, and that the work is effected by his Spirit, and proves the di•ine Authority of this Word.
- The Word is powerful, not only for the first working of grace, but also for the encrease thereof, for the building up believers, Act. 20. 32. for the perfecting of the Saints, and the edifying the body of Christ; there is Milk in the Word for babes, and strong meat for strong men; wholsome words, which have much spiritual nourishing vertue in them: the Word is powerful, for the •uenching Sathans fiery darts, for the repelling and driving back the tempter; for the comforting and rejoycing of distressed and disconsolate souls, •hen they are brought even to the brink of de•air; there are no such joyes in the world, as ••ose joyes which Christians sometimes finde in •eading and applying the Word, when they ming•e it with faith, and have the breathings of the Spirit therewith; and there is no book in the world that can produce such powerful effects, a• the Scriptures do, wherefore it must needs follow, that these Scriptures are indeed the Word o• God.
- The Scriptures appear to be the Word of God from the Historical relation in them of Prophecies ful•filled, & of miracles, whereby they were confirmed, a•• the rationally unquestionable certainty of this History as it is handed down to p•sterity.
- In the Scriptures we have relation of Pr••phecies, and the fulfilling of them, which do•• prove these writings to be from God alone; because he alone can certainly foretell futu•• things; indeed wise men may guess, and throug• prudence foresee the effects of some thing• in their causes, and foretell some things th• are not very far off, yet not certainly, and wi•• all their circumstances; But it is Gods prerog••tive to foresee and foretell such things (certainl• and with their circumstances, and long before 〈◊〉 time) for which no cause in nature can be a•signed, suc• as many of the Prophesies of 〈◊〉 Scriptures were. By this argument God doth 〈◊〉 the Prophet Isaiah prove the Heathenish gods 〈◊〉 be no gods, because they could not foretell fu•ture events. Isa. 41. 21, 22, 23. Produce your cau•• saith the Lord, bring forth your strong reasons: 〈◊〉 them shew us what shall happen, and declare to 〈◊〉 things to come: shew the things which are to 〈◊〉 hereafter, that we may know, that ye are Gods.〈◊〉v. 26. There is none that sheweth, there is none th•• declareth, &c. Therefore he concludeth, v. 29▪ Behold they are all vanity, their works are nothing their molten Images are winde and confusion〈◊〉 The Prophesies of Scripture, as they prove the Lord, who spake them by the Prophets to be God; so they prove the Scriptures in which they are spoken, to be of Divine authority. It would take up too much room in this small▪ Treatise, to enumerate all the Prophesies of Scripture; take two or three instances. See Gen. 15. 13, 14. God fore•elling to Abraham that his seed should be strangers in a Land, which was not theirs, and serve them, and be afflicted by them four hundred years, and that afterward they should come▪ forth with great substance. This Prophesie is fulfilled Exod. 12. So also the return of the children of Israel•rom the Babylonish captivity, after seventy years, was foretold, Ier. 25. 12. and the name of Cyrus, who should deliver them, before he was born, •sa. 45. 1, 2. So also the name of Iosiah, who •hould destroy the Altar which Ieroboam had rea•ed, and burn the bones of the Priests upon it, was foretold three hundred thirty and three years before he was born, the Prophesie is in 1 King.•3. 2. the fulfilling of it, 2 King. 23. 17. But •specially the Prophesies in the Scripture concer•ing the Messiah, are remarkable, of his birth, l•fe, death, and the fulfilling of them in the History of the Evangelists; the Prophesie of the destruction of the Temple, and Ierusalem by Da•iel, and especially by our Saviour, and the •ulfilling thereof, before that generation wherein our Saviour lived, were all in their graves.
- In the Scripture we have relation of Mi••cles, whereby they were confirmed: such as the •lague of Egypt; the dividing of the Sea for the ••raelites to pass •horow; the raining of Manna from Heaven; the standing still, and going back of the Sun: the preservation of the three Children in the fiery Furnace, and the like, in the old Testament; especially the Miracles wrought by our Saviour and his Disciples, which the new Testament do record, such as healing the sick, the lame, blinde, deaf, leprous, by a word, the feedin• many thousands with a few Loaves of bread, the calming of the Sea, the raising of the dead afte• burial, and the like, all which did exceed the power of nature; and however wonderful things might be wrought by Men in a praestigiatory way which God may permit some to be deluded with•all; yet all true Miracles, as these were, could b• wrought by none without his immediate power which he would never put forth for the confirm••tion of lies and deceits; therefore we may strong•ly argue from hence, that the Scriptures whic• have been confirmed by these Miracles, are indee• the Word of God. I know the great questio• then will be, whether there were ever such Mira•cles wrought, which the Scriptures makes mentio• of, whether the historical relation both of Prophe•sies and Miracles be not a forgery, for the introd••ction of the worship, which the Scriptures cals fo• therefore,
- I might show at large the rationally unquesti••nable certainty of Scripture-History, as hand• to posterity; But in brief, when these things we• so notable, and remarked in their times; when the• were not done in corners; when they were the o••ject of sense; when they were so many; whe• they had so many spectators and witnesses; wh•• there are divers records of the same things, an• all in the main agreeing; when the way they 〈◊〉 declared in, speaketh so much simplicity in the relators; when there were so many Copies of the Records dispersed into so many divers places; when Enemies could not deny the truth of things recorded, only imputed them to other causes; when mention is made of these things in profane Histories; when we have the Writings of the ancient Fathers by us, who lived in all the Centuries between us, and the time of Christ, and with one consent acknowledge these things, who might easily have found out the deceit, had there been any, when they lived some of them so neer to the days wherein the chief of these things were done; when we cannot rationally assign an end, which should move Christians to deceive themselves and posterity, since they exposed themselves to such losses, persecutions, reproaches and afflictions by their profession of Christianity; neither can we rationally imagine how all the Christians in the World could meet together from so many Coun•ries, for the forging of things which were never done; much less how they should agree together •bout it; and least of all how they should keep his secret, but their adversaries would have found •t out, and made it known, some hint of it would •ave been given in History; all these things being •aid together, we may rationally conclude, that •he History of the Scripture is as certain, yea more •ertain than any profane History, which we •ave the least doubt of; and if the Histories of •rophesies fulfilled, and Miracles wrought be ••ue, it is a strong Argument that the Scriptures which hereby are confirmed, are indeed the word •f God. These Arguments for the Divine Autho••ty of the Scriptures may be sufficient to stop the mouths of gain-sayers, but without the testimony of the spirit in and by them, none will be sufficient to effect a saving faith. Thus it is evident from the truth, and divine Authority of the Scriptures, which do so clearly reveal and foretel it, that the Lord Jesus Christ will certainly appear to Judgment.
The second Argument to prove the certainty of Christs appearance, may be drawn from the certainty of the Resurrection.
- Arg. If all the dead shall certainly le raised at the last day, and the Lord Iesus Christ shall raise them, then the appearance of the Lord Iesus Christ to do it is certain; but all the dead shall certainly be raised at the last day, and the Lord Iesus Christ shall raise them, therefore the appearance of the Lord Iesus Christ is certain.
- That all the dead, which are or shall be brought into that state, shall be raised at the last day, is a truth so clear in the Scripture, that nothing is more clear. The general Resurrection of the dead is one great Article of our Christian Faith; one Principle of the Doctrine of Christ made mention of by the Apostle: Heb. 6. 1, 2. The dead sm••l and great shall be raised, and stand before God: Rev. 20. 12. We read of the Resurrection of the I•st, Luke 14. 14. Of the Resurrection of the Iust and Vnjust, Acts 24. 15. I might multiply many Scriptures to prove this Doctrine of the Resurrection, but I shall further speak but of two places which purposely treat thereof, and being so full of Arguments, I shall make use of no other than there I finde for the evidencing of this truth.
- The former Scripture is in Matth. 22. from vers. 23. to the 34. The same day came the Sadduces to him, which say there is no Resurrection, and asked him, saying Master, Moses said, If a Man die having no Children, his Brother shall marry his Wife, and raise up Seed to his Brother. Now there were with us seven brethren, and the first when he had married a Wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his Wife unto his Brother. Likewise the second also, and the third unto the seventh; And last of all the Woman died also. Therefore in the Resurrection, whose Wife shall she be of the seven, for they all had her. Iesus answered and said unto them, Yee do erre, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God: For in the Resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the Angels of God in Heaven. But as touching the Resurrection of the dead, have yee not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Iacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his Doctrine. And vers. 34. it is said, He put the Sadduces to silence.
Here we have a Disputation concerning the Doctrine of the Resurrection, wherein we may take notice of,
- The opponents, and they were the Sadduces, who denied the Resurrection, they denyed the immortality of the Soul, for they said there was no Angel nor Spirit: Acts 23. 8. And they denyed the Resurrection of the body.
- The Respondent, and that was the Lord Iesus Christ, the wisdome of the Father; he that when he was but twelve years old, did dispute with the Doctors in the Temple, and filled all that heard him with astonishment at his understanding and answers, Luke 2. 46, 47. And much more now, when he was so much encreased in wisdome, was he able to deal with the Sadduces, and answer them about this truth, of which (he coming out of the bosome of the Father, and being acquainted with his secrets) he had so perfect knowledge; he had answered the Herodians before most wisely to their ensnaring question, whether it were lawful to pay tribute to Caesar; and he was able to give answer to the Sadduces about the Resurrection.
- The Objection of the Sadduces. Master, Moses said, &c. their Argument against the Resurrection is this, If there were a Resurrection, then there would be a confusion in Relations, insomuch as seven Men having been in this World married to one Woman, all of them would claim a propriety in her, and to whom should she belong, would not this breed a discord? Must not six of them with grief be deprived of her, who once was their Wife? And could this agree with the state of perfection and happiness, in which all the just should be raised? The Sadduces thought now they had our Saviour upon the hip; they thought now it is likely, that they should confound him with this Argument, that they should gravel him and shame him before the People; they could not answer it themselves, and they thought that out Saviour could not answer it neither; and truly the objection hath subtilty in it.
- The answer of our Saviour lies in vers. 30 In the Resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like the Angels of God in Heaven. Hereby he gives them to understand that there would be no confusion in Relations at the Resurrection, that there would be no enjoyment or deprivation of conjugal Relations there, because such Relations would then cease; and Men and Women would then be like Angels, which neither have, such Relations, neither do stand in need of them; the end of such Relations will then cease, and the Relation will cease too.
- One end of the conjugal Relation here, is, the propagation of Man-kinde, insomuch as the number is incompleat, and will be incompleat till the end of the World, and the number is compleating by Generation; but at the Resurrection the number of Man-kinde will be compleat; the number of the Elect will be perfect, and in this regard they will be like to Angels, whose number was compleat at the first, and therefore this end of marriage ceasing, the Relation should cease also.
- Another end of marriage is mutual help; and this end also will cease; at the Resurrection the wicked they shall have no help, the righteous shall have no need of help from such Relations; God will supply All, they will be perfect in him; God will be All, and in All: God will be instead of Father, Mother, Husband, Wife, and all unto them, like Angels they shall behhold the Face of their Father, and have no need of conjugal Relations.
- And with this Answer to the Sadduces Objection, we may take notice of Christs Discovery of their errour, and the grounds thereof, namely their ignorance of the Scriptures, and the power of God; whereby, our Saviour doth suggest a strong Argument, to prove the Doctrine of the Resurrection, drawn from the power of God, and the Scriptures; the Argument is this, If there be power in God to raise the Dead, and in the Scriptures he hath revealed that he will do it, then there will certainly be a Resurrection of the Dead; But there is power in God to raise the dead, and in the Scriptures he hath revealed that he will do it.
- That there is Power in God to raise the Dead, is evident, and none which acknowledge his Deity can rationally deny; he that had power to make the World out of nothing, hath power to raise the Dead out of their Graves; he that had power to give life, hath power to restore it; he that hath all power, hath this power; he who is infinite in power, who is omnipotent, unto whom nothing is difficult, he can raise the dead, and joyn soul & body together after a long separation. There is little doubt, but God can raise the dead, but the great question lyes in his will, whether he will or no. Therefore,
- The Scriptures reveal his will herein; he that in the Scriptures hath promised that he will raise the dead, being so powerful and faithful, he will certainly do it; but God hath promised in the Scriptures, that he will raise the dead. And though in the old Testament the Doctrine of the Resurrection be spoken of more obscurely, yet our Saviour fetcheth a proof of the Doctrine out of the Book of M•ses, which the Sadduces (as is observed) did not acknowledge. Vers. 31. 32▪ As touching the Resurrection of the De•d have ye• not read what was said to you by God, I am the God of Abraham, &c. God is not the God of the de•d, but of the living; our Saviour proves the Doctrine by strong inserence drawn from this place, which needs a little opening to perceive the argument.
It is not unlikely but our Saviour cleared the thing in more words, (for we have but the heads in Scripture of many things which were delivered in large discourses) he made it so clear that is satisfied the people, & silenced the Saduces.
The Argument formed up is this: If God be the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Iacob, when they are dead, then Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob will rise again from the dead, and so there shall be a resurrection from the dead; but God calls himself the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac; and the God of Iacob, when they are dead, as they were, when he spake those words of Moses out of the bush; therefore they shall rise from the dead. The consequence our Saviour proves, because he is the God of the living, and not of the dead; if that Abraham, and Isaac, and Iacob, be living before God, in regard of his purpose to raise them from the dead, because he is their God, when their bodies lie rotting in the grave, and therefore they may be called living when dead, by him who quicknefh the dead, and causeth-those things which are not (but shall be) as though they were. Rom. 4. 17. then Abraham, and Isaac, and Iacob shall be raised from the dead, as certainly as if they were actually living; but they are living before God, in regard of his purpose and promise to make them alive; which is evident from the nature of the covenant which he hath made with them, which doth include a promise of blessedness, and perfect happiness, which he will give unto them. If God be the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Iacob, he is their God in covenant, and by consequence will make them perfectly happy, not only in regard of their souls, by receiving them into glory, when they die; but also in regard of their bodies too, by raising them from the dead at the last day, till which time their happiness is but in part, and imperfect; and therefore hence may strongly be inferred, that they shall be raised; and by consequence all in covenant shall be raised, to receive the perfect happiness promised in the covenant; and by parity of reason, that all out of covenant shall be raised to receive the compleat punishment threa•ned to sinners for their sins; and by consequence that there shall be a general resurrection. Thus our Saviour confirms this great doctrine of the resurrection, whereby he stopped the mouths of the Sadduces; his answer made the people astonished, and the Sadduces confounded; they came with their mouths open, but they went away with their mouths shut▪ they came with full cry, but they went away in silence; he put the Sadduces to silence.
- The second Scripture to prove the Resurrection, is in 1 Cor. chap. 15. thorowout; It seemeth, that some amongst the Corinthians who called themselves Christians, did deny the Resurrection; now the scope of the chapter is to refu•e this dangerous errour, and to prove the truth, which the Apostle doth by several arguments.
- The first argument is drawn from the Resurrection of Christ; If Christ be risen from the dead, then believers which are his members, shall be raised also; he will not suffer his members to lie for ever rotting in the grave, because his mystical body then would never be grown up •nto perfection: Christ is the first fruits of them that sleep, v. 10. As certainly as he was awakened out of his sleep in the grave on the third day, to certainly shall all those that do, or shall sleep in Jesus, be awakened out of their grave at the last day: But Christ is certainly risen from the dead, which the Apostle proves,
- From the Prediction thereof in the Scriptures, as his death was foretold, so also his resurrection was foretold in the type of Ionah’s being •ast out of the belly of the whale on the third day.
- From the testimony of those persons to whom the Lord Jesus Christ did appear after his resurrection, namely of Cephas, all the Apostles, above five hundred brethren at once, who saw him before his ascension; and last of all, in that he was seen by himself upon the way to Damascus after his ascension: all which witnesses did with one mouth confirm the truth of Christs Resurrection.
- From the absurdities which would follow if Christ were not risen.
- The Apostles would then be found false witnesses, and the Spirit of God which spake in them, would be a false spirit, which is impossible.
- Then their preaching would be in vain, and the whole doctrine of Christianity, which was built partly upon this foundation, would fall to the ground.
- Then their faith would be in vain: because if Christ were still dead, he would not be a meet object for their faith, for then he could not be the Son of God, nor a Mediatour between God and man.
- Then Believers would be yet in their sins; their sins would remain unpardoned; because satisfaction to Gods justice would not have been compleated, had the bonds of death still held ou• Saviour.
- Then they which were fallen asleep in Christ would be perished in regard of their bodies, li•• the beasts when they die; because if Christ were not risen, it would be impossible that they should ever rise any more.
- Then believers should have hope only i• this life; because if Christ were not risen an• ascended into Heaven, to prepare room for the• there, they could not have any good-grounde 〈◊〉 hope of ever being received into that place; an• by consequence it would follow, that believe• the best of men upon the earth, would be the m•• miserable men of all others, because they a• exposed to so many sufferings for the sake of Jesus Christ: If they had hope only in this life, the• would be most miserable in regard of sorrow (though not in regard of sin) for their hopes 〈◊〉 future glory do support and comfort them und•• all their afflictions; if they should loose their hope• they would loose their comforts, and be of all •thers the most forlorn and sorrowful; it would break their hearts, and bring them to despa•• Certainly then Christ is reisen, and as certainly sh•• the dead be raised.
- The second argument whereby the Apostl• proves the resurrection, is drawn from the Pa••lel between the first Adam▪ and Christ the secon• Adam, v. 21, &c. Since by man came death, 〈◊〉 man also shall come the resurrection; for as in Ad•• all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. 〈◊〉 Adam sin came into the world, and death by sin, and death passed upon all his posterity, because all have sinned, at least in him: By Christ came righteousness into the world, and by righteousness life, and all his posterity shall be raised by him unto eternal life at the last day, because all are partakers of his righteousness.
- The third Argument is drawn from the reign of Christ at the right hand of the Father, until all his enemies be put under his feet; and the last enemy which shall be destroyed is death; and death is no waies perfectly destroyed, but by the resurrection of the dead out of their graves, and the putting immortality upon the body: then when this corruptible shal put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, death shall be swallowed up in victory; therefore since death, with other enemies, shall be put under Christ’s feet, it is necessity that there should be a resurrection.
- The fourth Argument is in v. 29. Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead: if the dead rise not, why are they baptized for the dead? The words are difficult; various are the interpretations which are given; I like Calvins best; if it will hold with the words, Why are they baptized for the dead, or for dead? that is, why are they that are dying, and given over for dead? baptized? if the dead rise not; why will any when they are going out of the world be baptized in the name of Chri•t? if they did not hope for a resurrection at the last; that as they are buried with him by baptism unto death, so they should rise with him not only unto newness of life here, but also unto everlasting life and glory hereafter.
- The fifth argument is drawn from the jeopardie and sufferings of Christians, which they would not undergoe unless they had hopes of the resurrection.
- The denial of this Doctrine opens a door to licenciousness. People would eat and drink, and let l•o•e the reigns to sensual delights, and commit sin with greediness, if they must die, and there were no hopes of a resurrection to glory and happiness, and no fears of a resurrection to torment and misery.
Besides, Scripture testimony and argument, which is the only firm proof of the resurrection. I might add for illustration, some Emblems of the resurrection in nature.
Naturalists tell us of a Phaenix which riseth out of the ashes, into which she had burned her self before; but it is more certain, that some birds lie in holes dead all the winter, and get life again in the Summer; we see Plants, Herbs, Flowers, and the like wither in the Winter, and spring forth again when the cold weather is gone; we see the Sun sets at night, and arise again in the morning; and we our selves, as we have an Emblem of death upon us when we are asleep, so our awaking again, and arising from our beds, is an Emblem of our resurrection at the last day. It is certain that the dead shall be raised, which hath been proved.
- And secondly, it is as certain that Christ shall raise them. I will raise them at the last day. Ioh. 6. 40. this is spoken of believers; but it is spoken also of all, Ioh. 5. 28, 29. The hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves▪ shall hear his voice and come forth: they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.
Hence it strongly follows, If the dead shall certainly be raised, & the Lord Jesus shall raise them, that the appearance of Christ to do it, is certain.
- Arg. The third Argument to prove the certainty of Christ’s second appearance may be drawn from the certainty of the last general Judgment.
If there will certainly be a day of general Iudgment, and the Lord Iesus Christ will be the Iudge; then the second appearance of Christ is certain: But there will be certainly a day of general judgment, and the Lord Iesus Christ will be the Iudge; therefore Christs appearance is certain.
- The certainty of the last judgment is evident from Scripture, Heb. 6. 2. 2 Pet. 3. 9. Rom. 2. 5, 6, 7. and elsewhere frequently, and I shall further prove it by Scripture arguments.
It doth appear there will be a day of Judgment,
- From Gods app•intment. Act. 17. 31. He hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness. God appointed the creation of the world, which accordingly he effected: he appointed the reconciliation of the world to himself, which he brought to pass; and having arpointed the judgment of the world, it shall as certainly be brought to pass in its day. Nothing can frustrate God’s appointments, God being so infinite in wisdom, doth not appoint any thing about which there shall be any reason to after his determination; and God being so infinite in power, nothing can hinder the effecting of what he hath determined shall be done.
- From Gods Supreme and universal Soveraignty; he is the blessed and the great Potentate, which rules over all the Kingdoms of the earth; He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, 1 Tim• 6. 15. All the children of men are not only his creatures, but also his subjects. As it is the work of earthly Kings to judge their subjects, and to dispense rewards and punishments: so God being the supreme Soveraign, will judge all his subjects; Kings are but Gods Vicegerents, they rule under him, and they must give an account unto him; God wil judge the Judges of the Earth: men do often judge unrighteously, sometimes through their own wickedness and partiality; sometimes through ignorance and false information; the righteous are condemned by some, and notorious offenders are acquitted; and those which judge most righteously, cannot finde out all that should fall under the lash of the Law, and the strictest laws of men do not reach all offences against God; therefore there is need that the Soveraign Lord and King should call the whole world to another judgement, which will be at the last day.
- From Gods most excellent Wisdom in the mannagement of his government over the children of men; the wisdom of God now is much out of sight, and is little taken notice of in the world: there seems now to be a great disorder and confusion in the government of men; the most faithful subjects of the King of Heaven in most places are trodden under foot, and have many bitter cups put into their hands; and the most vile Traitors and Rebels, against the highest Majesty, are lifted up into the seat of honour, and spend much of their daies in mirth and jollity; we read in Scripture of the various and great afflictions of Gods People. Heb. 11. 36, 37. Some there were mocked, and s•ourged, and tortured, they were sawen asunder, they were slain with the Sword, they wandered about in Sheep-skins, and Goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted and tormented, and yet such as the World was not worthy of; whereas it is said of the wicked, Psal. 73. 5, 7, 10. Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart could wish, and Waters of a full Cup are wrung out unto them; and they are not in trouble like other Men, neither are they plagued like other Men. See also Psal. 17. 14. Iob 31. from the 7. vers. to the 14th.
So that if there were not another Judgment, God would seem to have been an ill-contriver of Government for the welfare of his people, and to have ill-consulted his own glory in the World; yea his enemies would seem to have out-wi•ted him; therefore it is needful there should be a day of Judgment, when all things shall be set at rights, and put in order; when Gods wisdome all along shall plainly appear in the view of all, and his glory be made manifest; when his people shall be exalted, and his enemies debased.
- From the infinite holiness of God, now the holiness of God is trampled under foot by ungodly sinners; they scorn and deride it, whereever they see any Image or apearance thereof; they scoff at the name of a Saint; they hate holiness, and many do their uttermost to banish it the World; which is a high affront, which such Persons offer to the highest Majesty in this high attribute; it is therefore necessary that there should be a day of Judgment, that God may redeem the honour of his holiness, which now lies under such contempt; then he will make his holiness to shine with an amazing excellency in the eyes of all those that did despise it.
- From Gods justice and righteousness; God hath given unto Man a most just and righteous Law, and annexed threatnings of everlasting punishment, which he will inflict upon the breakers thereof; Gods justice cannot be satisfied without execution of his vengeance in the punishment of all transgressors, except it be of such who have an interest in the satisfaction, which was made by the Lord Jesus Christ; and all the Children of Adam being transgressours, and very few of them having an interest in Christ and his merits, and none receiving condigne punishment for their sins in this life; therefore there will be a day for the revelation of the just and righteous judgment of God, Rom. 2. 5. This righteousness of God doth engage him not only to punish the wicked for their sins, but also to give his people that reward which the Lord Jesus Christ hath purchased and prepared for them; therefore there must be a day for him to do it in.
Thus it doth appear, that there will be a day of general Judgment.
- That Christ will be the Judge, is also evident from Scripture, Acts 17. 31. He hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the World in righteousness by the Man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all Men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And Rom. 14. 10. We shall all stand before the Iudgment Seat of Christ. And 2 Cor. 5. 10. For we must all appear before the Iudgment Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. And Christs judicial proceedings is set forth at large, Matth. 25. Hence then it follows, that the Lord Jesus Christ shall certainly appear to Judgment. I might add other Arguments drawn from the faith, and hope, and expectation of the righteous, and Christs faithfulness, love, and the engagement of his honour to appear again, but so much concerning the certainty of Christs second appearance.
- THe third thing proved, is to shew that the Lord Iesus Christ will quickly appear, that is, 1. He will come within a short time. 2. He will come suddenly and unexpectedly, when he doth appear.
- Christ will come quickly, that is, within a short time. Heb. 10. 37. Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. He that shall come will come, there is the certainty of his coming, and yet a little while, he will come, and will not tarry, there is the speediness of his coming. The Lord is at hand, Philip. 4. 5. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh, Iames 5. 8. The Iudge standeth at the door, vers. 9. The end of all things is at hand, 1 Pet. 4. 7. Therefore out dayes are called the last dayes. 2 Tim. 3. 1. And upon us the ends of the world are come, 1 Cor. 10. 11. We live in the end of the World, in the last dayes, in the old age thereof. The World hath as it were three ages, the youth, the middle age, and the old age; the Youth of the World was from the creation to the Flood; the middle age from the Flood to the first coming of Christ; the old Age from the first coming of Christ, to the second coming, the old age and last dayes of the World began in the Apostles time, now many of them are spent, and we are come not only to the declining years, but also to the decrepit age of the World; and if the Lord Jesus Christ were to come shortly in the dayes of the Apostle, much more shortly will he come now, when so many years are past since the Scripture was writ, and these things foretold.
If any should doubt of the certainty of Christs appearance, because the Scripture speaks of the speediness thereof, as if Christ had been in those dayes presently to come, and yet above sixteen hundred yeares are past, since the promise was made.
I answer, that the Apostle Paul who in his first Epistle to the Thessalenians spake of Christs coming, as if it might be in his time, 1 Thess. 4. 16, 17. The Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a sho•t, &c. And the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up in the Clouds, &c. The same Apostle tells the Thessalonians in his second Epistle, Chap. 2. 3. Tha• the day of the Lord should not come, till there was • falling away, and the Man of sin should be revealed, &c. And vers. 7. That there was then a lett to the Revelation of the Man of sin, which was th• Heathenish Romane Empire, which lett was not likely in haste, neither was removed till some hundred of years after; and therefore it is eviden• from that place, that the coming of the Lord was not to be until several ages after the writing of the Scriptures. This may be sufficient to give satisfaction concerning the length of time, since the Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus would quickly appear.
If any profane Mockers shall scoff at this answer, and say, where is the Promise of his coming? Do not all things remain as they were since the Creation? Do not the Sun, and Moon, and Stars keep their constant course? And what likelihood of the darkning of the Sun, and falling of the Stars, and the passing away of the Heavens with a great noise? Is not the Earth established upon sure foundations, and what likelihood of moving it and burning it, with the works which are upon it? and if Christ would have come so quickly, would not he have been here before now? I answer,
- That the Apostle Peter foretels, that in the last days such scoffers should arise. 2 Pet. 3. 3, 4.
- That all things are not as they were from the Creation, for the World in the time of Noah was drowned with the Flood, Noah only excepted, and those which were with him in the Ark; surely there was a great transformation of things in that age, vers. 5, 6.
- That by the same word of command, whereby the old World was drowned with Water, by the same Word, the World that now is shall be burned with Fire at the day of Iudgment and perdition of the ungodly, vers. 7.
- That though many hundred years be p•st since the promise, that the Lord would come quickly, yet there is not a failure, in regard of God; for though the time be long, in regard of our account, who are of so short continuance; and time seems tedious to us, because of the miseries of our short life; yet in regard of the eternal God, the time is but short, for in his sight a thousand years is but as one day, and by that account there are not yet two dayes past since the promise. vers. 8.
- The reason of Gods protracting this appearance of Jesus Christ to Judgment, is for our sakes; it is from his long-suffering to us-ward, that hereby he might lead us unto repentance, vers. 9. The Lord hath a number to be called, some of which may be unborn, others not yet newborn, but scattered amongst the wicked; but when the Elect are all called, and perswaded to repent, and believe, and are gathered into Gods Family, I doubt not but the Lord Jesus Christ will be here immediately. The Lord Jesus surely now will come within a short time; the certain time of his appearance is unknown, Matth. 24. 36. But of that day and hour knoweth no Man, no not the Angels, but the Father only; this is a secret which God hath locked up in his own breast, it is written in the Book of this Decree, and however other things are revealed and unfolded to Men, yet the leaf where this is written is folded up and sealed, so that none can read it; yet surely it cannot be long before the mystery be finished, and Christ be revealed from Heaven; yet a little while and he will be here, he stands at the Door, and the Door will quickly be opened, and then he will make his appearance.
- The Lord Jesus Christ will come quickly, that is suddenly, and unexpectedly, especially in regard of the ungodly World. The day of the Lord will come as a s••re upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole Earth: L•ke 21. 34, 35. And sudden destruction will then come upon the wicked, as pains on a Woman with Childe: 1 Thess. 5. 3. The Lord will come in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye: 1 Cor. 15. 52. As lightning cometh out of the East, and shineth unto the West, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be: Matth. 24. 27. Further, this coming of the Lord Jesus is set forth in Scripture.
- By the coming of a Thief in the night, Rev. 16. 15. Behold I come as a Thief: 1 Thess. 5. 2. For your selves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a Thief in the night: 2 Pet. 3. 10. The day of the Lord cometh as a Thief in the night, in which the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, &c. The Lord will not come like a Thief, in regard of any wicked purpose and design; but he will come like a Thief, in regard of the suddenness and unexpectedness of his coming. Men do not think of, they do not know of, they are not aware of, they do not desire the coming of Thieves: so the Lord will come at a time, which Men do not know of, when they do not think of it, whe• they are not aware of it; and he will be more unwelcome at his second appearance to the greatest part of the World, than a Thief, who comes suddenly in the night, and breaks in upon their Houses, to steal their goods, and take away their lives; when the Lord Jesus shall suddenly unfold the Doors of Heaven, and come down in his glory, and summon the wicked to Judgment, how will they start, and be affrighted out of their deep sleep of security, and be filled with horrour and amazement!
- Christs coming is set forth by the coming of a Bridegroom at midnight, in the Parable of the ten Virgins, Matth. 25. 6. At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go yee forth to meet him. The Virgins were all asleep, the wise as well as the foolish, they did not expect the Bridegroom at that time; the coming of Christ will be sudden and unexpected, as to the particular time unto his own Disciples; yet they will quickly arise, and trim their Lamps, and receive him with joy, when the Lamps of the foolish Virgins, for want of Oile, will go out, and they shall be shut out of the Bride-chamber of Heaven for ever.
- Christs coming is set forth by the coming of the Flood upon the old World, and Noah’s entering into the Ark: Luke 17. 26, 27. And as it was in the dayes of Noah, so shall it be in the dayes of the Son of Man; They did eat, they drank, they married Wives; they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the Ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. The old World was very licentious, and secure in the dayes of Noah; though universal ruines and destruction were so neer, yet it being a thing which was unseen, they did not expect it, nor take any care to prevent it. It is said of Noah, Heb. 11. 7. That by faith being warned of God, of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, he prepared an Ark to the saving of his house: By faith he knew that the Flood would come, when there was no appearance of it, nor possibility, in regard of the ordinary way of the working of second causes; he believed it, because God who could effect it, and who cannot lie, had foretold it; and therefore he prepared, according to Gods direction, this great Vessel, to defend himself and Family, and some living Creatures of every kinde, against the Waters, which he foresaw were coming upon the Earth; but the ungodly World, having no eye of faith, could not discern this unseen thing; it is most likely they heard often of it by Noah, who was a Preacher of righteousness; but they did not believe it, therefore they did not expect it, nor fear it, nor prepare for it: they are, and drank, and slept, and sin’d as if no such thing had been coming upon them: It is likely, when they saw Noah build the Ark, such a large and capacious Vessel, on the dry Land, that they scoffed at him, and accounted him no better than a madman, as we should do a Man that should build a Ship on the top of a Mountain, and expect that Waters should come up thither, and waft it away.
But when the dayes of a hundred and twenty years, which the Lord had appointed the old World to continue, after his threatning of their destruction, were expired; when the decree had brought forth, and the year of Gods recompence was come, and the day of his fierce anger, wherein he sent the Flood upon the Earth, O the terrour and amazement which did surprize the secure sinners of the World at that time! when the Windows of Heaven were opened from above, out of which God looked forth upon sinners, with such a furious countenance, and poured forth his anger in such streames of water; and the Fountains of the great deep were opened from beneath, and the Flood began to arise, and lift up the head, and swell about them; when the Valleys were filled with running Waters, and the Plains were covered, as if they had been a Sea; when this enemy did combine so many Forces together (having a Commission from God to destroy) and strengthned it self on every side, and environed these rebellious sinners round about, and assailed them in every quarter; when not only smaller Cortages were overturned, but also the streames brake in with irresiftible force upon the strongest and greatest edifices; when great Doors were lifted off of their hinges, or broken to pieces, and the Water (like a Thief) climbed in at the Windows, and roaring all about with a hideous noise, pursued those which fled from it, following them up stairs, even to the highest room until it had overtaken them, and devoured them without mercy; think what a hurry and affright the World was in at that time; how every one shifted for himself, if possible, to preserve himself from the fury of this Conqueror; how they forsook the lower grounds, and flocked together to the Hill-Countreys in great haste, leaving their substance behinde them, with a sad heart; how they were drenched with the Rain from Heaven, and wet to the skin as they went along, and scarcely were able to take breath, the stormes was so impetuous about them; and when they perceived the Flood to beset the highest Mountains, (whither some of them were fled, and upon the top of which some of them had climbed, hoping (it may be) that they had got unto an inaccessible place) & that the billows were mounting towards them; & now the whole World seeth their death and ruine to be inevitable, that there was no contending with, no resisting or flying from these armed Waters, which God had sent to execute his vengeance upon them for their sins; we may imagine something of the horrible perplexitie of their mindes: O how did they look one upon another, when such a judgment as this was come upon them, which they never looked for! how did they speak! how did they weep! how did they cry and shreek! what distress was there then upon all Nations, and how did their hearts fail them, and sink within them through fear, when they looked upon the flood that was come upon the earth; when they heard the winds blowing, and waves roaring, and saw no way of escaping? Then they which had heard Noah foretell and threaten them with this judgment, too late believed the truth of his words, which before they did not regard; then they which had seen Noah build the Ark, and had accounted him no better than mad, were convinced of their own folly and madness, that they did not with him take some course for the defence of themselves at this time; then they were perswaded of Noah’s wisdome above all others on the earth, and could have wished that they had imitated his wisdom, in building for themselves such another Ark, or that they were with him in his; and possibly some, when the waters were come, and Noah was shut in by God in his Ark, might run to the place and endeavour to clamber into it, and be washed off with the stream.
Thus will it be at the second comming of the Lord Jesus Christ to judgement, his coming will be sudden and unexpected: the wicked of the earth will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage; they will be as sensual and sinful, and as secure withal, as they are at this day; they are told frequently, by the preaching of the word, that the day of judgment is appointed, and that it hastneth greatly; that the Lord Jesus Christ will come, and that he will come quickly; but they want faith to believe it, and therefore they do not expect it, nor fear it, no• prepare for it: It is said, Luke 18. •8. When the Son of man cometh, shall he finde faith on the earth? Some interpret this place as spoken not of Christs second personal coming to judgement; but of his comming in a way of eminent deliverance of his people from the cruelty and oppression of their enemies, which will be so strange and unexpected, because they shall be brought so low, insomuch that there will hardly be faith in any to believe a desiverance. Others interpret this place, as speaking of Christs last appearance to judgment; that the earth will then be generally secure, and that wicked men, and unbelievers, and oppressours of Gods people will abound, and that true believers will be rare, and very hardly to be found: I shall not determine which is the true sense of the place, but sure I am the wicked will be many, and very secure at the day of Christ’s appearance; though the wicked be forewarned of this day, yet they do not believe this thing, than which nothing is more certain; the wicked, which are mingled amongst Gods people, think strange that they do not run with them unto the same excess of riot; they looke upon them as no better than fools, and people besides themselves, when they see them deny themselves, sleight the pleasures and profits, and vanities of the world, and are so iollicitous above all other things to prepare an Ark for the saving of their souls, to get an interest in Jesus Christ, typified by the Ark, that under his shelter they may be defended from the storm of Gods wrath, which shall beat upon the head of the wicked at the last day. The wicked do expect Christ’s comming no more than the old world did the Flood in the daies of Noah.
But when the time which the Lord hath appointed the world to continue, is expired, and the Angel hath lifted up his hand to Heaven, and sworn by him that liveth for ever and ever, that time shall be no longer; when the mystery of God is finished, and all the things to be done in the world are accomplished, and the day of judgment of old ordained, is now come, and Christ hath received his commission from his Father to summon all to his judgment seat: O the dread that will on that day fall upon the wicked tribes of the earth! when they shall see the heavens opened above, and such a glorious Majesty, with such a glorious Train appear in the air; and when the earth and the graves shall be open beneath, and all the dead bodies of all generations shall be raised and come forth, and some of them shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds, and themselves with the most to be left behind; and when they feel the wrath of God to begin to assaile them like a flood, and to be poured into their souls like water; when they see Christ coming in flaming fire to take vengeance upon them for their sins: O this will be an unexpected and terrible appearance, and so much the more retrible, by how much the less expected: Then they will not endeavour to climb up mountains, but to creep under them to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb, but all to no purpose, no mountain will receive them, for all the mountains, and earth it self, with the heavens, will flee away from the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, when his Throne is set for Judgment, Rev. 20. 11. they will then looke about them, and perceive all refuge to fail them, and no way of escaping for them; then they will with grief remember the warnings which they had of these things, and be vexed at the very heart that they did not take warning; then they will wish for an Ark; and O that they had an interest in Jesus Christ! and they will account believers, whom once they esteemed as fools and mad men, to have been the wisest people upon the earth; and O that they were in their condition! possibly some may endeavour to clamber up into the air with them, when they are ascending to their Lord; but they will have weights sufficient to keep them down. The dread of sinners at the last day, when Christ doth come so suddenly and unexpectedly will be far greater than the dread of the old world in the daies of the Flood.
- And lastly, to name no more, the suddenness and unexpectedness of Christs coming is set forth by the raining of Fire and Brimstone from Heaven upon Sodom, and Lots going out of that wicked place, Luke 17. 28, 29, 30. Likewise as it was in the daies of Lo•, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded: But the same day that Lot went out of Sodome, it rained Fire and Brimstone from Heaven, and destroyed them all: Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed. The Sodomites were notoriously wicked, they were worse than beasts, they would have offered violence, and buggered the very Angels which were sent to Lot; they were generally wicked, there were not so many as ten righteous persons in the place, though righteous Lot dwelt amongst them; it is likely •here was not one righteous person, besides what was in Lots family; and though they were so wicked, and the cry of their sins was gone up •o Heaven, and the Lord was provoked unto so great displeasure by them; yet they are jovial and secure; they did not think in the midst of •heir peace, that sudden destruction was so near; Abraham with his servants had not long before delivered them out of the hand of Chedorlaomer, (against whom they had rebelled) and Amraphel, and the other Kings which had conquered them, and sackt the place; they did not think of a more •urious enemy, who was arming himself against them, even the King of Heaven, against whom they had worse rebelled, and out of whose hands none could deliver them: They ate, and they •rank, they did not think that their flesh, and all •he provisions thereof should so soon be devoured by flames; they bought, and they sold, they did little expect that both money and merchandize should be consumed so suddenly; they planted and they builded, they did not in the least imagine that instead of showers of Rain from Heaven to water their Plants, to make them grow, they should have showers of Fire and Brimstone to burn up their plants, and burn down their houses to the ground. The Sodomites did not in the least look for such a Judgment as this: it is said, Gen. 19. 14. That Lot went out and spake to his sons in law, which had married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out •f this place, for the Lord will destroy this City: but •e seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. His words were unto them like idle tales, which they did not believe, otherwaies they would not have remained in the place until they had been consumed; and if Lot’s sons in Law, (who in likelihood were some of the best of the place) did not believe nor expect the judgment, though they were forewarned by their Father; much less did the rest of the Sodomites expect it, that had not before heard of it. This Fire from Heaven was altogether unexpected in Sodom.
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained Fire and Brimstone upon them, and destroyed them all. The morning was clear, when Lot went forth, and the Sun did shine with a glorious brightness, when he got into Zoar; but then we may imagine that a strange darkness did quickly fill the Heavens, when the Lord came down clothed with vengeance as with a garment, and wrapped in thick clouds of the sky; when the Lord thundered in the Heavens, and the highest gave hi• voice, Hail-stones and coals of fire; when the Lord rained Fire and Brimstone upon the place; Wh• can utter the horrible perpexity of the Sodomite• on that day, under this unthought of, unexpected, sudden, and so dreadful un-heard-of Judgment? when they opened their windows and doors of their houses in the morning, and perceived the fashion of the heavens to be altered and the tempest of Fire and Brimstone to beat 〈◊〉 upon them so sorely and suddenly; when the 〈◊〉 was strangely converted into fire, and such scalding sulphurious matter enkindled by the brea•• of God did fall upon them; when the whol• place was put into flames together, and ever house was set on Fire by this Fire from Heaven when they saw if the• went forth of doors they should be burnt by the fire of Heaven, if they stayed within, they should be burnt by the fire of their houses; when there was such a dreadful burning heat by the Fire, accompanied with such a stinking, noisome, suffocating smoke by the brimstone; when there was a little kinde of Hell in that place both for torment and sin; O the Dread of the Sodomites at that time! then those beasts which would have forced themselves into Lots doors, to commit leudness, and were strucken by the Angels with blindness, when they began to feel the violence of this Fire, and their pampered flesh began to be rosted by these flames, how did they howle like Dogs, how did they roar and yell with anguish and horrour? Then all the sinners of the place, whose sins before went up with such a loud cry into the ears of God, what a loud cry did they send forth out of every house under the sense of their torments? then the sons in law of Lot, who were forewarned, I believe, were above others perplexed and filled with unspeakable vexation, that they did not hearken to the voice of their Father, and remove with him from that place before the Fire came; then they knew he did not mock them, but was in good earnest, and that his words were not idle tales, but the truth of Gods intention, which he was sent to give them notice of: Sodom is now made a fiery Furnace, and all the wicked of the place are consumed together suddenly and unexpectedly.
Even thus will it be in the day when the Son of Man shall be revealed, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall come to Judgment. The world is very wicked, and the longer it doth continue, the worse it grows; the sins of the wicked world, like the sins of Sodom have gone up with a loud Cry to God; and the Lord hath exercised his patience a long time to lead them unto repentance; and if there had not been some righteous persons on the Earth, the day of Judgment would have been long ago; if there had not been some Lots in Sodom, I mean some Elect Persons in their sins, that are yet to be called, and some as yet un-born, that must be gathered, the World would ere this have been consumed, for the wickedness thereof; there is a measure appointed for the Worlds sins, which will be filled up, and there is a number appointed of chosen Persons, who ere long will be brought in, and so soon as Lot is got into Zoar, God rains Fire and Brimstone on Sodom; and I conceive that so soon as all the Elect Persons are got into Christ, that then Christ will appear to Judgment; and as it was in the dayes of Lot, so will it be on the day of Christs appearance; the wicked of the World will be secure, eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
The day before Christ cometh will be a merry day with some ungodly sinners, they will be eating and drinking, feasting and carouzing, singing and rejoycing, and putting the evil day far from them, even when it is so very neer; but how will their chear be changed the next morning? how will their singing be turned into howling, and their joy into heaviness and dreadful terrour?
The day before will be a gainfull day, it may be with many in their buying and selling, possibly they may have got a good bargain in their buying, and got good profit in their selling; and it may be a busie day with others in their planting and building, which may fill their time and thoughts with Worldly care and contrivements for many years to come, little thinking that the World is not of a years, nor two dayes standing longer; but O what terrour will seize upon these Worldings the next morning, when Christ doth appear to judge them! and they finde, that whilst they have gained something in the World, which they cannot now keep, and will yield no profit in this day of wrath, that they have lost their souls and happiness for ever, which they cannot regain; that whilst they have been busie about trifles, they have neglected the one thing necessary; then they will wish, that instead of planting Trees in their Ground, they had spent their time in getting grace planted in their hearts; that instead of building Houses for their bodies, they had laid a good foundation for this time, and got a title to the building of God, the House not made with hands, which is durable and eternal.
The day before Christs coming will be a sinning-day with all the wicked, and a day of general security; some will be swearing and cursing, others will be oppressing and grinding the faces of the poor, others will be reproaching and persecuting of Gods people; and the very night before, it may be many wicked Persons may be got together Carding, and Dicing, and Drinking all night unto Drunkenness, and others may be got into the unclean Bed, and there lie in their filthiness, and all will be sleeping in sin and security; but the sound of the last Trumpet will startle and awaken them all; when sinners open their eyes on this morning, and see the Heavens open before them, and the Lord Jesus Christ descend in such glory as hath been described, none can utter what their perplexity will be at that day; and the suddenness of Christs coming will make their horrour the greater; some of them were told of this day of Fire, when the Heavens should pass away with a great noise, and the Elements should melt with fervent heat, and the Earth (with the works therof) should be burnt up, and what course they should take, to escape the vengeance of this day; they were perswaded to leave their sins, to flee from the wrath to come, to hasten out of Sodom, if they would not be consumed in its flames, to get away, and not look back, to flee presently into Zoar, where only they could be hid, to get into the City of refuge, if they would escape the vengeance which did pursue them, which had them upon the chase; they were invited into Gods Family, and into the armes of his mercy; they were invited unto Christ, and to partake of his grace freely; they were told again, and again, if they did go on in the way of sin, that iniquity would be their ruine, that so long as they did abide in a state of impenitency and unbelife, that the wrath of God did abide on them; they were told how sweet: Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ was, and how ready he would be to receive them, if they applyed themselves by faith, with repentance for sin unto him; and they were told how furious and inexorable a Judge he would be, and what vengeance he would take upon them at the last day, if they did not take warning in the day of grace, which they had allowed them; they were told that Hell Fire was very hot and intollerable, and that Heavens pleasures were very sweet, and most desirable, and they were earnestly entreated to fly from the former, and accept of the latter, upon the most reasonable termes, on which they were proffered: But they were like Lot’s Sons in Law, they did not believe: Ministers which warned them, seem’d in their eyes, as if they had mocked them, their words seemed like idle tales; whatever haste the Lots made out of Sodom, they would not stir; they did not look after a Zoar to flie unto; they hugged their sins, and would not leave them; they heard of Christ, but they neglected, slighted, refused him; they did not apprehend such need, which they had of a Saviour; they were fearless of future wrath, and careless of the salvation and happiness of their souls. But when Christ doth come down so suddenly and unexpectedly to judge and condemn them, and shall cast them into the Lake, which burns with Fire and Brimstone; then they will remember these things with vexation, far greater than that of Lot’s Sons in Law, (when Fire and Brimstone was rained from Heaven upon them) who would not hearken to the counsel of their Father to escape it.
THe Lord Jesus Christ will certainly and quickly appear.
The day is appointed by the eternal and unalterable decree of God, and he hath revealed the thing, though not the time, in his word of truth; the day approacheth, it cannot be far off; time is flying away upon swift wings; the day of the World is almost spent, the shaddowes of its evening are stretched forth to a great length; yet a little while, and Christ will be here; he will appear in his glory; never did eye of Man behold such glory and majesty in the greatest earthly Potentate, as will be seen in the Lord Jesus Christ on this day; all the state, and pomp, and splendor, and glittering glory, which some Princes have been decked withall in their Triumphant showes, is no more to be compared with the pomp and splendor of the Lord Jesus Christ in this appearance, than the shining of a Candle, or Glow-worm, or rotten stick in the night, is to be compared with the shining of the Sun in its noon-day glory: Ere long the great Gates of Heaven will lift up their heads, and those everlasting Doors (within which Christ doth, for the present, remain) will be opened; and then this King of Glory will come forth, and come down with marvellous splendour and brightness of Majesty; It is said, Psal. 47. 5. God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of the Trumpet; then God will come down with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a Trumpet, 1 Thess. 4. 16. The Chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of Angels: Psal. 68. 17. All the holy Angels shall attend upon him, and blow the Trumpet before him, at this last Assizes, to awaken and summon on the World to judgment: then the Sun in the Firmament will be darkned, when this more glorious Sun doth appear; then the whole frame of Heaven will shake, and the foundations of the Earth will be moved, the everlasting Mountains will bow, and the perpetual Hills will shrink; yea the Heavens will pass away with a great noise, and like a skroll be rolled together, and the Elements will melt with fervent heat, and the Earth w••l be on Fire, and every Mountain and Island will flee away from before his face; then the Sea will roar, and all living Creatures, likely, will be in a strange consternation; then the wicked Tribes of the Earth will mourn, and the Saints will rejoyce at this glorious appearance of the great God, and their Saviour.
But who will be alive on this glorious day? who will be the Spectators of these great things? whose eyes shall behold this blessed sight? who shall see the Lord Jesus come in such glory? many Kings and Prophets, and righteous Men desired to-see Christ come in the flesh, and did not see him; and to hear the things which he taught, but they did not obtain their desire; many Generations were asleep in their Graves before Christs first appearance; the righteous saw him afar off, and darkly, in types and figures; few lived in the dayes when our Saviours abode was upon the Earth; he had not many Disciples whom he made happy with his personal acquaintance and abode with them; A great access there hath been since Christs departure unto the Church, who though they have loved him, and believed in him, yet they never saw him with bodily eyes: Three things one desired to see, Christ in the flesh, Paul in the Pulpit, and Rome in its glory; but past things are fled out of sight, and the wishes of such things are •o no purpose; death hath closed the eyes of many millions of Christs Disciples, who have heard the report of him, but never saw him: And is not their hopes of seeing Christ perished in the Graves with their bodies, which are turned into rotten•ess and purrefaction? and are not we all hast•ing towards those dark Chambers, where no •eam of light doth shine, and nothing can be seen? the righteous indeed which remain, when Christ doth come down, will be happy, when they see their Lord in the aire, but if we die before the time, what shall we be the better?
Beloved, let me tell you, or rather believe the Word of God, which doth tell you, that all of you will be spectators of the great things which shall come to pass at the last day; all Generations of Men and Women that ever lived upon the face of the Earth, and are sleeping in the dust, shall then be awakened, and raised, and be alive together, and you shall be found alive amongst them: that which our Saviour spake to the chief Priests and Elders of the Iewes, before whom he was accused, and stood as a Prisoner. Hereafter yee shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming in the Clouds of Heaven: Matth. 26. 64. The same may I say unto all you that hear me this day, hereafter yee shall see the Son of Man coming in the Clouds of Heaven: Rev. 1. 7. Behold he cometh with Clouds, and every eye shall see him. These very eyes with which you look upon me, or one upon another, shall see the Lord Jesus Christ come in the aire; these very cares with which you hear me preach this Doctrine unto you, shall hear the sound of the last Trumpet, and the great shout with which Christ will descend out of his Fathers Pallace into this inferiour World; these very bodies which are standing or sitting in this place, must stand before Christs Tribunal Seat at the last Day.
Death hath a Commission from God to pull you out of your habitations, and drag your bodies into its Prison, and this enemy is upon the way, and hath you all in pursuit, and how neer he is come to your Doors you do not know; his arrows are flying about your eares, and you will be smitten sooner or later, either when you are younger or older, none can escape his stroke; your time is wasting, your Glass is running, and ere long you will be expiring your last breath, and these bodies which you are cloathing, and feeding, and providing for every day, will lie a dying, and be carryed by your mourning friends, to your Graves; And as certain as Death, so certain will your Resurrection be at Christs coming. Christ hath received a Commission from God to judge the World, and he will come down from Heaven with the Keyes of Death and Hell, and open the Doores, where you shall have your lodging, and bring you forth to judgment; I must awake on that day, if I fall asleep into my Grave before, and arise, and give an account of my self, and the souls committed to my charge, unto my Lord and Master; and you must awake also, and give an account of your selves and actions, unto the glorious Judge; your lives then will be reviewed, your actions will be examined, and it will be known then what you have been doing ever since you came into the World, how you have spent your time, how you have improved the seasons and means of grace; then it will appear who are Christs sheep, and who the Goats, however they now flock together sometimes in one company; who are wise, and who the foolish Virgins, however now all have Lamps shining; then it will be known who have been wise unto salvation, who have made their peace with God in the way, who have furnished their hearts with grace, laid up their treasure in Heaven, and improved their talents for their Masters use upon the Earth, and who have foolishly slipt and sinned away the harvest, and day of grace, neglecting Christ, and the things which belonged to their peace and happiness, until they were hid from their eyes, who have been hypocrites and unbelievers, and served divers lusts, instead of serving the Lord of life and glory; and all ungodly sinners will be found out and punished: then all of you, yea the whole World will believe the doctrine, which we now preach concerning the vanity of the Creatures, the evil of sin, the necessiry of Christ, the excellency of grace, the happiness of Gods Children; and O what will the pardon of sin, the favour of God, the least measure of grace be worth then? our Doctrine concerning these things is as true now, and the worth to Christ and grace, and salvation as great, though then Mens valuation will be greater, because the worth will be more apparent.
But give me leave to apply this Doctrine concerning the certainty and speediness of the coming of Christ to Judgment.
- To Sinners.
- To Believers.
- To both.
- I shall speak to sinners.
- To discover them.
- To awaken them.
- To exbort them.
- For the Discovery of Sinners.
Will the Lord Jesus Christ certainly and quickly appear to Judgment? and must the whose World be summoned unto his Bar? surely then it doth above all things concern all of you to sit down, and consider how you are provided for this day; all of you will be spectators of Christ, and his glory on that day; but you will not be idle spectators, as sometimes you have been of great shows in the City, whilst it was yet standing, which have passed away, and you have gone away without much regard of the things you have seen; No, you will all be most highly concerned in this appearance of Christ, more then Persons, who are to be tryed for their lives, are concerned at the appearance of the Judge, who comes to pa•s sentence upon them; you will all be tryed on that day, and your everlasting weal, or wo will depend upon the account you shall give, and the sentence which shall be pronounced upon you by the great Judge: therefore let me beseech you all to examine your selves, whither you are prepared for this day of Judgment; it will be a woful day to such sinners, whom the Lord Jesus will condemn unto everlasting torments; and are there no such Persons amongst you? are there no ungodly ones gathered together into this place? are all of you Saints, and Children of God? if you are not such, you will wish you had been such at that time; but are you all such now? the worst of you may be such, if you seriously, diligently, and timely seek such a priviledge, but are you such yet? are there not many here, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will come in flaming Fire to take vengeance upon? It would take up too much room to speak of all those sinners whom Christ will condemn, especially having already spoken particularly of them under the conviction, from pag. 87. to 115. But briefly and more summarily for the discovery of such Persons, that you may examine your selves whether you are in their number, The sinners which Christ will condemn at his appearance may be known by these Characters: They are,
- Christ will condemn such as are carnal; I mean such as are in the flesh, such as are in the state of nature, such as never were regenerated, or born again by the Word and Spirit, as never have had experience of a work of grace upon their hearts; such as are blind, and never had their eyes opened to see their sin, and their Saviour, who are muffled up in the darkness and hoodwinked with the vail of ignorance and unbelief, and upon whose eyes there are such thick scales, that the glorious light of the Gospel hath never been discerned by them in a spiritual and saving way; such who are asleep, and never had their consciences awakened out of their carnal security, whose consciences are seared as with a ho• Iron, and permit them to sin with little check or controll; such who are dead in sin, and never were quickned by the Spirit of life; such as are slaves to their lusts, and under the reigning power of sin, and never were delivered from this worse than Turkish bondage; that never were converted, and savingly changed; never were humbled and emptied of themselves, never truly repented, and mourned for sin, never were powerfully drawn unto, and savingly closed with Jesus Christ; that never were renewed in their minds and hearts, transformed after the Image of God, transplanted into the garden of the Lord, and engrafted into the new stock; such in whom all old things remain, and are wholly carnal, in the same state in which they were first born; their persons will all be condemned by the Judge, Iohn 3. 3. Matth. 13. 3. Rom. 8. 13. 2 Cor. 5. 17. Eph. 4. 22, 23, 24. 1 Cor. 15. 50. Matth. 5. 8. Heb. 12. 14. Luke 13. 3. Revel. 21. 27.
- Christ will condemn the sensual: I mean such who are so far from denying themselves, crucifying the flesh, mortifying the deeds of the body, taking up the cross, walking in the narrow way of •trict obedience, striving to enter in at the strait gate, which alone can bring unto eternal life and happiness, and subjugating their thoughts, wil, & affections unto the government of Christ, and so living as if they were his servants indeed whose name they bear; that they labour either to imprison, or banish, or hide themselves from the light of those truths which would reach them these things, to bribe or muzzle conscience which would urge them, yea to shake off the government of reason it self, which would put a curb upon them, and so give up themselves to licentiousness, making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof with all greediness; such who are so far degenerated and fallen from that primitive holiness which nature was endued with at the first creation, that they have lost the relicts of Gods Image, and blotted out the characters of his law engraven upon the hearts of all men, and have made themselves like beasts, yea more vile than the beasts that perish; such are they that are sensual and luxurious, and seek for their chiefest happiness in pleasing their sensual appetites; such are drunkards, and gluttons, and adulterers, who wallow in the mire of such sins, who spend their daies in such pleasures, and gather as much of them as they can finde, without any regard to Gods Law, which doth forbid them, or to those higher, sweeter pleasures which they are capable of, and might obtain if they did seek after them in the way which God hath appointed; All these which fulfil the desires of the flesh are children of wrath, Ephes. 3. 3. and they which please themselves, and live deliciously here, will have torment and sorrow given them by Christ at his appearance, Rev. 18. 7. Luke 6. 25.
- Christ will condemn the earthly, such who lay up for themselves treasures on earth, and neglect the heavenly treasure, Matth. 6. 19, 20. who love the world, and things in the world, and have no true love to the Father, who is the God of love, and the chief good of mankind, 1 Ioh. 2. 15. All covetous worldlings will be condemned by Jesus Christ for their heart Idolatry, Eph. 5. 5, 6. especially unjust and unrighteous persons, oppressors and extortioners; earth will be all the portion of such who make choice of it, no room will be found for them in the Kingdom of heaven, 1 Cor. 6. 10.
- Christ will condemn the Devilish; all such as are children of the devil, as bear his Image, and do his work, that yield themselves to be his slaves and servants, and endeavour the promotion of the interest of his Kingdom; all such as are under the power of Devilish pride, and Devilish envy, and Devilish malice; all Devilish lyars, and Devilish slanderers, and Devilish persecutors of Gods people: In a word, all such persons as live in a course of sin, and never brake off the trade thereof by repentance, and obtained a pardon of sin through faith, and yielded up themselves unto the obedience of the Gospel will be condemned by Christ at his appearance.
Beloved, examine your selves seriously hereby, and what hath been before said, whether you are not in the number of these persons; whether none of you are carnal, in a state of nature; whether none of you, are sensual or earthly; whether none of you are children of the Devil; whether none of you are Drunkards, Adulterers, Liars, slanderers, unjust, unrighteous, and withall impenient persons, unbelievers, and children of disobedience, against whom the wrath of God will be revealed, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from Heaven to Judgment.
- For the awakening of sinners. Will the Lord Jesus Christ certainly and quickly appear to judgment? methinks this doctrine should awaken sleepy sinners, and arouze them out of their carnal •ecurity. Doth conscience accuse you, and secretly tell any of you, that you are in the number of those persons whom the Lord will condemn at the last day, and sentence unto Hell; methinks it should make you startle, and look about you; methinks it should make your hair stand an end, and every joynt to tremble; methinks it should fill you with fear, and imprint such trouble upon your spirits, as would damp all your earthly comforts and delights, to confider the danger which ye are in by reason of sin• the guilt of which doth still lie upon you. Every word of this Doctrine is awakening.
1 Awake sinners, awake! Christ will appear to judgment. Christ will appear, whom you have read of, and heard of, and have had frequent proffers of, but could never be prevailed to accept of; Christ will appear in his glory, in whom you could see no beauty, or desirableness; Christ will appear as a Iudge, whom you might have had for your Saviour. Sinners, the Judge of the whole world will appear, and can you sleep under the guilt of sin? He will be a most glorious, powerful, wise, holy, righteous, strict, furious, inexorable Judge, as hath been shown from p. 65. to p. 73. and yet are you secure and fearless? you have heard God’s terrible voice in the City, and that hath not awakened you; and will not Christ’s appearance to Judgment awaken you neither? You have been asleep under the sound of temporal judgments, and can you sleep under the thoughts of the last judgment, when the punishment, which shall then be inflicted, will be eternal?
- Awake, sinners awake! Christ will certainly appear to Judgment; if there were only a peradventure of Christs coming to Judgment, methinks it should awaken the guilty, but when there is a certainty of it, how should it awaken you? as certainly as God is true, as certainly as the Scriptures are his Word, as certainly as you are creatures, and sinners; so certainly will the Lord Jesus Christ appear to judge the ungodly World for sin, at the last day. England hath of late been under the stroke of several temporal Judgments; and England is in danger of further and greater calamities; God may put a more bitter Cup into our hands to drink, than yet we have tasted of; the danger of which should awaken secure sinners, because they cannot promise to themselves any shelter at such a time: yet there is a possibility that the Lord may be entreated to spare, and put up his Sword, and prevent our ruine, which we have deserved; but the day of Judgment is most certain; God, who cannot change, hath decreed it: God, who cannot lie, hath revealed it; the iniquities of the World, which are great, do call for it; therefore it must be, the day will certainly come; and yet can you sleep in sin? If a Thief knew after he had robbed his neighbour, that he should certainly be taken and judged, and condemned, and pun•shed, it would affright him; you may know that Christ will certainly come to judgment, and that all guilty sinners shall be brought forth and condemned, and should not this awaken you, especially since if you sleep on, your damnation and eternal punishment, will be certain?
- Awake sinners, awake! Christ will quickly appear to Judgment. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh; the Judge standeth at the Door; the Lord will suddenly come down; when you least expect it, the Lord may be here; and can you sleep, when the appearance of Christ is so sure, and so neer too? can you slumber, when your judgment lingreth not, and your damnation slumbreth not? If the day of general Judgment should be protracted for some time longer, until all the Elect be gathered, and the things foretold in the •ord, be fulfilled; yet your time for preparation may be almost spent, you may suddenly go down into your Graves, where there is no operation; and can you sleep in sin, when you are liable every day to the stroke of death, which will cut you off from all opportunities of making your peace with God for ever, and deliver you up at the last day into the hands of the Judge, under the same guilt as it found you, when it first laid its arrest upon you?
- Awake sinners, awake! when Christ doth appear, yee also shall appear; when Christ is descended from Heaven, yee shall be raised from the Earth; you shall be awakened out of the sleep of death, and will not you be awakened out of the sleep of sin? If there were any hopes, that by getting into your Graves before this day, you could hide your selves, and lie buried there for ever, you might be the more secure; but when your death is not more certain, than your resurrection will be, when the appearing of Christ to judgment is not more certain, than your appearance on that day to be judged, you have reason to shake off sleep, and bethink your selves how you are provided; Death will be terrible to you, if it come with the sting of sin in its mouth, if it shoot its poisoned arrowes into you; but your resurrection will be a thousand fold more dreadful, if you awake at the last day with the guilt of sin in your consciences; Sinners, think what terrours will invade you, when you are raised out of your Graves; when you first lift up your heads and eyes to Heaven, and see the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Judge of the World, come down with millions of mighty Angels, cloathed with vengeance, like flames of Fire, and look down with a furious countenance upon you; when in your rising you hear the sound of the Trumper, and such a shout given in the aire, as will make a louder noise, than if twenty thousand great pieces of Ordnance were shot off together, just before you; when you have a summons given you, and you are dragged with the rest of the damned crew, which have lived in all ages of the World, to the Tribunal Seat of Jesus Christ; O how will you quiver, and tremble, and be filled with confusion then? and yet can you sleep securely now, as if you were not at all concerned?
- Awake sinners, awake! when Christ doth appear, you shall be judged by him: Then the Books will be opened, where all your actions are recorded; then your sins (now it may be forgotten and slighted) will be called to remembrance, and your secret sins, which now you are ashamed of, will then be made manifest before the whole World; your old sins will be reviewed; your old uncleanness, your old drunkenness, your old unrighteousness; and you will be made to hear of all your sins, past and gone many years before, in such a manner, as shall make your eares to tingle, your hearts to quake, and tremble; and when Gods justice shall arraign you, and the Devil accuse you, and your conscience shall bear witness against you, and the Lord Jesus Christ shall pronounce the Sentence upon you, Depart from me yee cursed into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels; and the Saints it may be accompany him with a loud shout, Even so Amen, or say with one voice, Go yee cursed into everl•sting Fire, and so pass from you into Heaven, and leave the Devil and his Angels to drag you unto torments, and when you see there is no remedy, no reversing of your condemnation, and the Devils seize upon you, and tear you, and hale you away. O how terrible will this Judgment be unto you? O how will the terrours of the All-mighty flow in upon you? how will your consciences gnaw, and sting, and torment you? how will your spirits fail and sink within you, and hearts melt like drops of water? How will you weep, and wail, and gnash your teeth? and cry out in the fearfulness and horrour of your spirits, Woe, woe, woe be unto us that ever we were born! Woe, woe, woe be unto us that ever we have sinned!
- Awake sinners, awake! The execution of the Sentence, which Christ will pronounce upon you for your sins at the last day, will be in Hell: and do you know what Hell is? what tongue can express the future torments, which the damned shall endure? what heart can conceive the miseries, which God hath prepared for sinners in Hell? yet look into the Perspective-Glass of the Word, and you may perceive something of the dreadfulness of the punishment, which will be inflicted upon you, if you be found in your sins at Christs second appearance.
- Sinners, consider the greatness of the punishment; you must dwell with devouring Fire, and inhabit most horrible burnings; and think with your selves how you will be able to endure, to have those bodies (unto whom the prick of a Pin is so irksome, and a little scorch of a culinary Fire is so painful) cast into the great Furnace of Fire, which God will kindle with his breath; which will turn them it may be, into a burning Coal, that shall not waste, neither ever be co•sumed; be sure will torment them with a thousand-fold more accute sense of pain, than the body is capable now of feeling, under the most exquisite torments; think what the overwhelming grief, what the horrible anxiety, what the despairful agonies, what the hideous terrour and unexpressible anguish of your souls will be under the immediate sense of Gods wrath and indignation, and the thoughts of that glory and happiness of Heaven (once proffered unto you, but refused by you) which you will then perceive your selves shut out from for ever.
Awake sinners, awake! will you sleep in sin until you are awakened in the midst of flames? will you not leave off sinning, until you have sinned your selves into Hell? will you needs run into these burnings? Awake! open your eyes a little and look down, and see how deep the Pit is, into which you are leaping, it is a bottomless Pit, from whence there will be no returning; consider how hot the Fire of Hell will be, unto which you are hastning, it will be an inconceivable hot Fire, of which there will be no avoiding, if you go on in that broad way of sin, which is leading you thereunto: Awake, and look up sinners, there is a Door open, the Door of mercy is open, and the Door of Heaven is open, and will you shut your eyes, and turn your backs upon God, and refuse the proffers of grace which are made to you? will you trample Crowns under your feet, and slight future glory and happiness, which now is possible for you to obtain? will not this tear your hearts in Hell, to remember that you have been the cause of your own ruine, and brought misery upon your selves, that you suffered your selves to be cheated by the Devil, and your own deceitful lusts, of the unspeakable joyes and glory of Heaven, which God did once make tenders of unto you?
- Sinners, consider the sureness of the punishment of Hell; it is most certain that God hath prepared such a punishment, and it is certain that you shall endure this punishment, if you abide under the guilt, and persevere in the way of sin, which you now are walking in; God hath threatned this punishment, and his justice doth require it and his truth doth engage him to execute his threatned wrath, and inflict this deserved punishment upon you; and can you then have the least hopes to escape it? will God, can God prove a lyar, to save you from the torments of Hell? I• it not equal that you should reap that which you have sown, that you should gather and taste the bitter fruits of your own evil wayes? if you sowe to the flesh, will not torment be the fruit hereof• if you sowe sin, will not you reap Hell?
Awake sinners, awake! are not all your hopes of happiness in the uncertain and empty Cisterns of the Creatures meet dreams, when such dreadfull miseries are so surely prepared for you? and what senseless dreames then are your hopes of Heaven and Salvation, whilst you are going on in the way of sin to Hell, and destruction? Is there any mercy for impenitents? Is there any pardon for unbelievers? Doth God love those which are haters of him? shall those live with him, who have no likeness unto him? to joyn these things together which God hath never joyned. is like the senseless fancies in the sleep of strange Chimaeraes and Monsters, which nature never produced: Awake sinners, it is but an idle fancy to joyn Heaven to the end of a sinful course; no! the footsteps of sin will certainly take hold of Hell; and without holiness none shall see God; and as one saith,
Sooner may Angels turn Devils, Men beasts, and Beasts stones, and all the World just nothing, than that an unholy Person should have an entrance into Heaven; yea, and that it is as possible that God should cease to be God, as that any Man, not made after the Image of God, should be received into the blessed Vision, Possession and fruition of him in Glory.
Sinners, if there be no room for you in Heaven, and your entrance there is impossible, whilst you are in a state of nature; then your punishment in Hell is sure, which methinks should awaken you.
- Sinners, consider the neerness of the punishment of Hell: I mean the soul-punishment, which will be the greatest part of the punishment; the perfect and full punishment of body and soul cannot be far off, because the time of Christs com•ng is not far off; but the punishment of your souls will begin, so soon as your lives come to an end; no sooner will your souls be separated from your bodies, but they will appear before God, to •eceive their particular judgment; and they will •e banished his glorious and comfortable presence, and filled with horrour through the impressions of Gods wrath.
Awake sinners, awake! you lie upon the brink of •he Pit, you are sleeping over the burning Lake; you are like Saylors, which drop asleep on the top of a Mast, whom a great wind would blow into •he Sea; so the wind of death, which may sud•enly beat upon you, will blow you into Hell, into the Ocean of Gods wrath; and can you secure your selves a moment from the stroke of death? when you are most secure, may not death be most neer? when you think you shall live many years to eat, and drink, and take your pleasure like the rich fool in the Gospel, may not deat• knock at your door that night, and break in upon you, and fetch away your bodies to the grave, and Devils drag your souls to Hell?
Awake then, before you sleep the sleep of death awake out of the sleep of sin, think with yo• selves, this night we may be in Hell, and free, • rather bound in Chains of Darkness and horro• amongst the damned; or to morrow we may b• in torments with Cain and Iudas, with the Dev•• and his Angels: and therefore give not sleep 〈◊〉 your eyes, nor slumber to your eye-lids, until yo• have redeemed your selves out of the snare of th• Devil and sin, as a Bird out of the snare of th• Fowler, or a Roe out of the hand of the hunter.
- Sinners, consider the everlastingness of yo• punishment in Hell; when your Souls are on• in, they shall never come forth, until they 〈◊〉 brought forth unto the last Judgment at Christs a•pearance; and when soul and body are joyne• and sentenced to this place of torment, and thru• into it, the Door will be shut upon you, and yo• will be locked in, so that it will be impossible s• you to get forth for ever; your bodies as well 〈◊〉 souls will be immortal, and the Fire of Hell wi• be everlasting, those flames will never be quenc•ed, and your torments will never be ended; wh•• you have been ten thousand times ten thousa•• millions of years in Hell, it will not bear the p•••portion of a moment of time, to the unmeasu•rable space of Eternity, in which you must be tormented for sin; your punishment will alwayes be in the beginning of it, never, never, never will it come to a conclusion, nor your to any hopes of it; as long as God lives, and Heaven continues, which will be for evermore, so long will Hell continue, and you abide in extremity of torments, without any possibility of release and deliverance.
Awake sinners, awake! think how horrible the thoughts of Eternity in Hell will be; Extremity! and Eternity! will be the great aggravation of your misery; methinks the danger of such torment should fill you with such fear and terrour, that nothing should be able to remove, until you had secured your selves by an interest in him, who alone can deliver from the wrath to come; and yet can you be secure, when you are in the greatest danger?
Awake, think whether the pleasures of sin for a season, are to be compared with the eternal tor•ments of Hell; or the uncertain treasures of Earth, with the eternal store of Gods wrath, or the empty vanishing wordly honour, with the exceeding and everlasting weight of misery, which the damned shall sink under in Hell? If any sleepy sinners begin to startle with such thunder-claps of Judgment, and being unwilling to part with their sins, feel their hearts to rise within them against the message and Messengers, for thrusting such harsh things into their eares, for molesting their spirits, and disturbing the peace which they have hitherto had in their sinful way: cannot Ministers let us alone, will they be called to an account for us? will they suffer for us? and why do they thus affright us with Peales of Judgment?
Beloved, we Ministers are set as Watchmen to sound the Trumpet, and warn you of Judgment, which if we should neglect to do, your blood would be required at our hands, Ezek. 33. from the 1. vers. to the•• 1. And we shall be called to an account, for the Souls committed to our charge, Heb. 13. 17. And therefore having notice given us by God in his Word of the coming of Christ to judge and punish the ungodly World at the last day, and knowing the terrour of the Lord, how terrible the day of Judgment will be unto you, if you be found amongst the ungodly, and how terrible the day will be unto us, if we be sound unfaithful to your souls, we warn you, and perswade you to flee from the wrath to come; and can you blame us then for using harsh language, when we cannot omit it without danger to our selves and your souls? when otherwise we cannot be faithful to you, nor to our Master, who hath sent us to declare these things? we might indeed (like some) sla•ter you, and sooth you up in a way of sin; we might speak smooth things unto you, and prophesie deceits; but what advantage would it be unto you to be deceived? if you were pleased with us, and did commend us here, I am sure you would curse us for our unfaithfulness hereafter; Sinners, it is not cruelty, but pitty and mercy to shoot the sharp arrows of Gods threatnings into your consciences; it is not out of hatred, but tender love to your souls, that we endeavour to thrust the sword of the spirit into your bosomes, that if possible we might wound sin to the heart, and fetch forth the blood thereof, as it were, which if it still live in you, will be your ruine: Christ will certainly and quickly be here, and when he doth appear, we shall appear to be judged, and is it not good you should know it before hand, that you might be prepared?
If any be so awakened by this Doctrine concerning Christs coming to Judgment, that they begin to feel a sting and wound in▪ their spirits, and are so perplexed with fear of being condemned for their sins, which their consciences do accuse them of, that they know not what to do, yet are willing to take any course to prevent their ruine and those dreadful miserics which they are in danger of at that day. I shall speak unto such by way of Counsel and Exhortation.
- For the Exhortation of Sinners.
Will the Lord Jesus Christ certainly and quickly appear to Judgment? there are two things I would exhort sinners unto, that they may escape the wrath of God, which on that day will be revealed and inflicted upon all the wicked of the Earth.
- Flee from Sin.
- Flee unto Christ,
If you would flee from wrath and Hell.
Or, 1. Repent of Sin.
- Get an interest in Christ.
And then you may be able to stand with confidence before the Son of Man at his appearance, yea, whatever your sins be now, do these two things effectually, and when Christ doth appear you also shall appear with him in glory.
- Sinners repent of sin. Acts 17. 30, 31. God commandeth all Men every where to repent, this is a duty which God requires of all, Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the World in righteousness, &c. This is the Argument to enforce the duty. It is your duty to repent, because you have sinned, and God commandeth you to do it; and it is your interest and concernment to repent, because God will judge the World by Jesus Christ for sin, and condemn you if you be found impenitent. Sinners, you have tasted the sweetness of sin, in the Commission of it, O labour to taste the bitterness of sin in your repentance for it; your sins have been displeasing to the holy and jealous God•et them be displeasing to your souls; your sins have wounded the Lord Jesus Christ, let them pierce your hearts; the spirit of God hath been grieved and quenched by them, be you grieved and troubled for them; grieve for sin, not only because of its consequential evil, but also because of its incrinsecal evil; not only because it is like to damn you, but also because it hath so much defiled you; not only because it is likely to sink you into Hell amongst Devils, but also because it hath debased you, and made you more vile than the Beasts that perish.
Sinners mourn for sin: Be afflicted, mourn and weep: Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heavinesse, Jam. 4. 9. Get your proud hearts humbled, and your hard hearts broken for those sins whereby you have broken Gods Law; get your hearts broken for sin, and get your hearts broken from sin; Break off your sins by Repentance; Cast away all your transgressions like menstru•us cloathes, saying, get ye hence, Isa. 30. 22. Let the wicked forsake his way, & the unrighteous man his thoughts, & turn to the Lord, &c. Isa. 55. 7. Thrust these Iuhabitants out of doors who have so long had possession; suffer not to lodge any longer within you; remember that they are Vipers which will poyson you, that they are enemies which will wound and kill you: Do not harbour sin any longer, do not entertain it with smiles and a pleasing countenance, but with teares and frownes: Get your hearts set against sin; labour for deep-rooted hatred of it, and accordingly behave your selves towards it; get the strong holds of sin demolished in your hearts; get the rooms in which your lusts have scattered defilement, washed with the teares of Repentance, and the blood of Jesus Christ: let Christ have his Throne where sin hath reigned; let your thoughts and affections be brought into captivity and obedience unto Jesus Christ: Keep the door of your hearts with all diligence, least your old enemy enter again upon you: Flee from sin as from a Cockatrice, and if you be pursued, man•ully resist, resist even unto blood, striving against sin; never parley with sin, hearken not to any tearms of composition; Be not enticed unto sin by pleasing baits, neither be affrighted to sin by frowns and threatnings: Fight the good fight of Faith; Turn by repentance from sin, break off the course of sin, and walk not in the way thereof, and turn by repentance unto the Lord; let the Biass of your hearts be turned unto him; Deliver up your selves unto the obedience of his Law, yield your selves unto God, &c. Rom. 6. This is Repentance. And that you may repent of Sin:
- Examine your selves: Christ will examine you at the last day, and you must give an account unto him; examine your selves and call your selves to an account, that you may repent and prevent the future misery which will be the consequent of sin; Finde out your sins that you may mourn and turn; that which the eye seeth not, the heart will not, cannot be affected withal; Consult the Register of your consciences, turn over the leaves and read what is recorded in that Book: open your hearts to the beams of the light of the Word, and be ready to receive the convictions of the Spirit; Find out your sins, your original sin, the defilement of your natures, your actual sins, your great Conscience-wounding sins; find out your bosome-sins, which your hearts are most nearly joined unto, and are most loth to part withal; finde out your Constitution-sins, your Calling-sins, the sins which bear the greatest sway, and are most supported by the interest of the flesh, and your hearts are ready to cloak and cover under the veil of excuses and plausible pleas: Think how you will be able to answer for them at the great Day, to the Heart-searching Judge.
Sinners, finde out your sins, otherwise your sins will finde you out, and Christ will finde you out, and Wrath will finde you out, and then woe be unto you.
- Iudge and condemn your selves for your sins: this is the way to escape the judgement of God, 1 Cor. 11. 31. If you judge others, you shall be judged, Matth. 7. 1. but if you judge your selves you shall escape; and therefore
- Make confession of sin; Spread the black Catalogue of your sins before the Lord; come with ropes about your necks, and tears in your eyes, and sorrow in your hearts unto the Throne of Grace, and fill your mouthes with humble acknowledgements of your sins: rip up your hearts before the Lord: open before him your soars: stand no• in your own defence and justification, but fall down prostrate at God’s feet, and confess what sinfull natures you have, what vile hearts, what wicked lives you have lead; confesse how you have broken his Law, and disobeyed his Gospel; charge upon your selves the guilt of your particular and most heinous sins, and do not extenuate but aggravate them with all the circumstances you can think of; look upon your selves as cursed wretches whilest under the guilt of sin, as miserable, lost, forlorne creatures, whilest God is your enemy and his wrath abideth on you; acknowledge your sins and the demerit of your sins, that you have deserved not only temporal plagues, but also eternal torments; that you have forfeited all outward mercies, and are unworthy of the least grace and favour, much more unworthy of eternal life. Lye very low before God, •ick the dust; look upon your selves as Wormes, as Toads, yea as more vile and more full of poyson.
- If under the view of sin and confession thereof, you finde your hearts hard and senslesse like rocks, or Adamantine stones within your hearts, yet be not discouraged; the sense of hardnesse is some beginning of softnesse; but do not rest in beginnings: take pains with them to get them melted throughly, to get them broken to pieces: Read and consider, and apply, and urge at the Throne of Grace the gracious Promise, Ezek. 36. 26. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. Be sensible of your own inability of your selves to repent of sin, and perswaded th•• it is Go•s grace; remember it is free, but withal that 〈◊〉 promised; beg the influence of his Spirit upon your hearts to mel• them; beg the application of the blood of Christ to mollifie them: the blood of the Goat only can break an Adama•t stone, and it is the blood of Christ the Scape-goat which alone can break the hard hearts of sinners.
If any be discouraged with the difficulty of Repentance, that it is hard to obtain, and a very grievous thing to endure; Let them
- Consider; That Repentance is necessary: it is necessary Virtue praecepti, by vertue of Gods Precept; it is a necessary Duty; Acts. 17. 30. God commandeth not only some men, but all men: not only in some place, but every where to repent: and it is necessary virtute medij, as it is a means to avoid misery and obtain happinesse; you must sow in tears, if you would reap in joy; and you must go forth weeping bearing precious seed, if you would return again rejoycing bringing your sheavs with you, Psalm 126. 5. 6. The showers of tears make way for the Sun-shine of comfort here: and the wet seed-time of Repentance, is necessary to the harvest of everlasting glory and joy; and if Repentance be difficult: yet since it is absolutely necessarie, this should be so far from discouraging you, that it should quicken you unto more diligent endeavours after it.
- Consider, that Repentance is attainable; the vilest sinners may be enabled through Gods Grace to repent, as well as the most holie Saints at their first turning unto God. It is difficult unto you, yea impossible for you to repent of your selves, because there are no seeds of this Grace in Nature, but it is easie with God to work you to it, and he can carrie you thorow the difficultie; pray to God for this grace, & endeavour to repent and in your endeavours God may assist; God is easie to be entreated, and is readie to give this Grace unto them that desire it.
But some are discouraged from Heb. 12. 17. where it is said, that Esau was rejected, and found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears: hence concluding, that though they seek repentance carefully with tears, they may be rejected, and finde no place for repentance.
I answer, 1. That this place which speaks of Esau’s rejection, hath not a reference to his rejection by God (though that may be included in it) but his rejection by his Father Isaac, in reference to the Blessing, which his younger brother Iacob had by a wile got before him. 2. That Esau there did not seek to God for repentance, but he sought to his Father for his blessing. 3. That he did not seek repentance for himself, but he sought with tears to his Father, that he would repent his giving the blessing to Iacob, and give it unto him. Such as with tears seek repentance of God, it is a signe they have some measure of this Grace.
- Consider, the worth and excellency of this Grace; though it be difficult, yet it is excellent, Pulchra sunt difficilia, the best things are not obtained without difficultie; had you this grace, you would not be without it for a world, you would not change your tears and sorrow for sin, for all the sweetnesse and pleasure that others finde in the commission of it; if you did but truly repent, you would not think it so grievous a thing to be bourn, but the more you had of it, the more you would desire, and be best pleased, when you could act this grace most stronglie.
- Consider, that the greatest dissiculty is at first: Flesh may contradict and violently oppose the beginnings of Repentance, which doth so manifestly seek its ruine and destruction; but after you are accustomed to the yoke, you will finde it more easie; after you have got mastery over your flesh, and have attained some degrees of mortification, you will finde it suitable to the new man to live in the exercise of Repentance, and reap much sweetnesse from it.
- Consider, That you must repent and mourn for sin here, or you will be damned and burn for sin for ever; You cannot avoid grief for sin, if you have it not in this world, you will be sure to have it in the other world; And is it not a thousand-fold more eligible to grieve for sin here? especially considering,
- If you repent of sin now, your grief will not be in extremity: it will have some allay, some alleviation, some mixture of secret comfort, at least something will be given in to support, when you are even ready to be overwhelmed: when the heart is most broken and contrite under the sense of sin and apprehensions of Gods wrath, yet God will not suffer the Spirit to fail before him, Isa. 57. 15, 16. the Lord will keep up the soul from quite sinking: and I am confident, that such persons as are most heavie laden with grief for sin, would not change their condition when at the lowest ebb, with the most prosperous worldling: But if you repent not till hereafter, your grief will be extream, without the least mixture of comfort or support. In hell you will have nothing but weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; you will be there utterly consumed with terrours, quite overwhelmed with sorrows, & be alwaies sinking in the bottomlesse-pit under the weight of grief, which will be un-supportable.
- Your repentance of sin now will be pleasing unto God: We read, Luke 15. how well pleased the Father was when his Prodigal son returned home, and with grief did acknowledge that he had sinned against Heaven and against him; and was not worthy to be called his Son; the Father meets him in the way, and kisseth him, and cloatheth him with the best Robe, and kills the fatted Calf for him, and maketh merry with him; so, though you have been prodigals hitherto, have gone astray from God, and wasted your time, and talents in the service of the Devil, and your own lusts; yet if at length you come to your selves, & with repentance, and humble confession of your sins, you return unto the Lord, he will pitty you, his bowels will yern towards you whilst you are yet upon the way; and he will meet you, and embrace you, and cloath you with the Robes of his sons righteousnesse, and be pleased with you, and rejoyce over you; yea, and the Angels also will rejoice in your conversion; there will be joy in Heaven at your repentance amongst the Angels, and joy on earth amongst the Saints, Ministers will be pleased and rejoice; they will pittie you and pray for you; and Saints will be pleased and be ready to help and advise you; but Gods pittie is beyond all. See how God is taken with repenting Ephraim, Ier. 31. 18, 19, 20. I have surely heard Ephraim •emoaning himself, &c. Surely after I was turned, I •epented; and after I was instructed I smote upon my •high, I was ashamed, yea even confounded, because I •id bear the reproach of my youth; there you have the description of Ephraim’ • repentance; and O the sweet words of most tender Love which the Lord doth express himself in, towards Ephraim under his repentings! Is Ephraim my dear son? is he my pleasant childe? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still? therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy on him, saith the Lord. But if you repent not till hereafter, your grief will not only be extream, but also you will have no eye to pittie you; God will not pittie you in the least, but laugh at your calamitie, his bowels will be shut against you; your grief then will not be pleasing in the least, and your cries and complaints of sin then will be like the howling of a Dog in his eares: He will then instead of meeting you to embrace you, he will meet you to destroy you; instead of speaking kindly to you, he will speak to you in his wrath, and vexe you in his hot displeasure; Angels and Saints will then turn from you, and Devils will drag you with them into torments.
- If you repent of sin now, you may obtain th• pardon of sin; I will surely have mercy on him, saith the Lord, concerning repenting Ephraim, Jer. 31▪ 20. He that confesseth his sins, that is, with repentance, so as not only to grieve for them, but also to leave and for sake them, shall finde mercy, Prov. 28. 13. Yea; God hath promised abundantly 〈◊〉 pardon such as forsake their evil wayes, and by repentance turn to him, Isa. 55. 7. and if sinners ceas• to do evil, and learn to do well, that though their sin• be as scarlet, they shall be white as snox, though they be red like Crimson, they shall be as wool, Isa. 1. 16▪ 17, 18. And not only his mercy, but also his justice and faithfulnesse is engaged to pardon such as acknowledge their sins with repentance, and apply themselves to him by faith: 1 Ioh. 1. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Door of mercy is now open to all true penitents, and the golden Scepter of Grace and Reconciliation is hel• forth unto them; the Lord Jesus Christ is now interceding at the right hand of God, ready to make their peace with God; but if you do not repent until hereafter, a pardon will be unattainable; there will remain no sacrifice for sin; then the day of grace will be quite spent; and the Door of mercy will be fast shut: then Jesus Christ will have finished his interceding work, and it will be impossible to obtain remission.
- If you repent of sin now, you may get strength against sin; you shall be delivered from the reigning power of sin presently, and you shall be freed from the rage and tyranny of sin by degrees, and at the last you shall obtain a perfect freedome from the being of sin, and be wholly delivered from the bondage of corruption. But if you do not repent until hereafter, you will for ever abide under the power of sin, you will not only be tormented in Hell, but also be for ever sinning in Hell.
- If you repent of sin now, you will escape the panishment of sin: I do not speak of some temporal calamities, which God may exercise his people withall in this World; but you shall assuredly be kept from the eternal punishment of Hell, which shall be inflicted upon the ungodly World; but if you do not repent of sin until hereafter, your punishment will be unavoidable, no cries nor teares will then save you from the torments of Hell, which you will be condemned unto; now you are condemned for sin, whilst unbelievers, but in this World the sentence is reversible, you may fly from the Bar of justice, to the Throne of Grace, and if with repentance and faith you apply your selves unto Jesus Christ, he will deliver you from the wrath to come, and free you from condemnation; but hereafter, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall appear unto Judgment, and summon you, and examine you, and finde you guilty, and pass sentence upon you, to depart into everlasting Fire; this sentence will be irreversible, and your repentance will be too late to procure freedome from, or the least mitigation of your punishment.
- If you repent of sin now, your grief will be but for a time; for a season, a short time, a few dayes, a night, a moment, a short moment, 1 Pet, 1. 6. Rev. 2. 10. Psal. 30. 5. Isa. 54. 6, 7. Weeping may endure for a night, •ut joy cometh in the morning; God will not permit you to weep and grieve for sin long; it is not a life of grief which he calleth you unto, but a life of faith and love; it is not grief for it self which he requireth, but in order unto your comfort, and therefore it shall not be of long continuance; your grief for sin doth make way for spiritual comforts, for the joyes of the holy Ghost, which after sorrowing times the Lord doth often give in abundantly unto his Children in this World; in which they finde incomparably more sweetness, than ever they could finde sweetness in sin, or bitterness in sorrow; they have pleasures of a higher and more transcenden• nature; be sure your grief for sin will make way for your everlasting joyes in Heaven, where all teares shall be wiped away from your eyes, and all sorrow and sighing shall be removed from your hearts, and you shall obtain gladnesse unspeakable and everlasting. But if you do not repent until hereafter, as the pleasures which you finde in sin, will be but for a season, and your tryumphing but short, Death be sure will put a conclusion unto all: so your grief for sin then will be long, the daies of darknesse and sorrow will be many, yea your grief will be eternal.
Repent then sinners, repent; Christ will come certainly to judgment, therefore repent truly; and Christ will come quickly to judgment, therefore repent speedily. Protract not the time, endeavour presently without any further delay. Considering.
- Your particular judgment may be suddenly, and the time of your preparation may be spent quickly; You may be within a few moneths or weeks, or daies, yea, it may be within a few houres smitten by Deaths arrows, and there will be no place for repentance and preparation in the other world.
- If you defer your repentance, it is a thousand to one that you never repent as long as you live, If your life should continue many yeares; because not one in a thousand that defer their repentance, do afterwards repent; there are millions in hell that lived under the light of the Gospel who intended to repent, but were prevented by death before they were aware; and it is a thousand to one if you defer any longer, but ere long you will be received into their number; have not you deferred your repentance before this till such a time and such a time? and yet when such times have come again and again, have you not deferred it still? and will not your deceitful hearts still finde as plausible excuses till it be too late? Remember this sinners, that it is a thousand to one but you will be damned, if you any longer defer your repentance.
- The longer you defer your repentance, the more difficult will you finde the work to be, because you will be the faster bound in Sathans chains, and not so easily loosned; because you will be the faster asleep in sin, and not so easily awakened; because your hearts will grow the harder by the Jong practice of sin, and not so easily broken; because your sins will be the more encreased which you must repent of; because your time will be the more decreased which you are to repent in; so that if it should come to passe (which is a thousand to one) that you should repent after procrstination or deferring repentance; yet you will finde the work to be very difficult.
- Think what glory you may bring to God, what service you may do if you repent and reform presently; all which time, whilest you defer repentance, is spent in the service of the Devil and your own lusts, unto the dishonour of God.
- Think what measures of grace and comfort you may attain here, and what degrees of glory you may attain hereafter, if you repent without delay, which by deferring the work, you are like to lose.
- If you defer Repentance, it is a question whether your last repentance will be true; and if it should be true, it is a question whether ever you shall obtain the evidence of the truth thereof.
- And lastly, If you defer your repentance, God may never call you to repentance; Yea, he may give you up to a judiciary hardnesse, and seal you up unto condemnation, swearing in his wrath that you shall never enter into his Rest.
Thus much for the exhortation of Sinners to repent.
- Sinners, will the Lord Iesus Christ certainly and quickly appear to judgment, be perswaded then to flee to him, and get an interest in him before his appearance. I am sure that there is none of you, but would be glad of an interest in Christ when he cometh in his glorie to judge the world; the vilest persons upon the earth, those who despise and reject Christ now, those who hate and scorn the wayes of godlinesse, as being too mean a way for their high spirits, would give ten thousand worlds if they had them, for the room of the meanest Believers who have an interest in Christ at that day; But let me tell you sinners, that this world is the onely place, and this time while the day of Grace doth last, is the onely time of obtaining such a priviledge as this is; if you have not an interest in Christ whilst you live, it will be impossible to obtain it after death, or at the resurrection; If you are none of Christs now, he will not know you, nor own you at the day of his glorious Appearance.
- Get an interest in Christ as your high Priest and Advocate; Be sensible of your sins: be assured of his death for sin and satisfaction to Gods justice; Be perswaded of his intercession at the right hand of God, and that he is able and willing to save you; apply your selves to him, that through him you may obtain remission of sins, and an inheritance amongst the Saints; and if through the mediation of Christ now, you obtain a pardon of all your sins here: how welcome will your Redeemer be unto you, and with what joy will you lift up your heads out of your graves when the day of your Redemption and perfect Salvation is come, and your Saviour doth appear to take vengeance upon unpardoned sinners, but shall own and acquit you before the whole world.
- Get Christ to be your Master; Enter your selves amongst his Servants and Disciples: submit to his Teachings: learn his Lessons; believe and obey his Commands: follow his Example; promote his honour and interest in the world; be readie to do, or suffer any thing for him; and when your Lord and Master cometh in his glorie, you will finde that it was not in vain to serve him, though in wayes harsh and grating to flesh and blood. O what a Reward will be give then to his Servants! What a crown of glorie will he put upon their heads! It is a sweet encouraging Promise which Christ hath made now, and will make good to all his faithfull servants at that day, Iohn 12. 26. If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
- Get Christ to be your Husband. Sinners, We Ministers are sent to invite and wooe you to enter into this most near and sweet Relation unto Jesus Christ; we are to tell you of the beautie and excellencie of his Person, of his Love and tender affection to poor sinners, of his willingness to be yours, and to make you sharers in his riches; O accept of him, it is the best motion that ever was made to you, and it may be the laft motion: accept of Christ to be your husband, lay off your filthy Garments; put on the white Robes of his righteousness; joyn your hearts to him; divorse your selves from sin, and dedicate your selves unto Christ alone; and if Christ be your husband, O how joyful will his appearance be unto you, when you shall see his glorious face, and sweet smiles, and be received into his embracements, and be carried by him into his Fathers house, where you shall live with, and delight in his loves for evermore.
- Get Christ to be your Captain; list your selves under his banner; wear his Colours; arme your selves with his Weapons; follow his conduct; fight against his Enemies; endure hardness as good Souldiers, and do not shrink when you are put upon the tryal: and if you have an interest in this Captain, and be victorious here over your spiritual enemies; when your Captain doth ride in Triumph at the last day, you shall be caught up into the Clouds, and Triumph with him, and receive a Crown of Glory from him which fadeth not away.
Sinners, get an interest in Christ in all his Offices, in all his Relations; it is he only can save you from sin, and wrath, and eternal death. It would be too large a subject here to treat of salvation by Christ, and the way of attaining it; I may (God giving leave) hereafter treat purposely on some words whereby we may be saved, from Acts 11. 14. He shall tell thee words, whereby thou and thy House shall be saved, which I thought to have added to the end of this, with some words of advice unto young Men, from 1 Ioh. 2. part of the 14. vers. I have written unto you young Men, because yee are strong, and the Word of god abideth in you, and yee have overcome the wicked one. All which I did indeed at the first inte•a to have joyned together in one small Volume, with God’s terrible voice in the City; but thoughts have so multiplyed in putting them into writing, that I am even forced to separate them into three parts, which I thought at first the room of one would hold.
HAving spoken to Sinners, I come now to speak,
- To Believers, and that in two words.
- For the Tryal of them.
- For the comforting of them.
- For the tryal of Believers; the Doctrine of Christs certain and sudden appearance to Judgement, is a most dreadful Doctrine to sinners, which are in sin; and it is a most comfortable Doctrine to believers, which are in Christ: but because many sinners, which are stil held fast in the bond of iniquity, and are under the reigning power of some sins, are apt to mistake, and without good ground do perswade themselves that they are believers, who at the last day will be found to be hypocrites; and through their mistake of their state, do ward off those strokes of Gods threatnings which are made at them, and save themselves hereby from those terrible apprehensions of Christs appearance to Judge and condemn them, which did they entertain, might be a meanes to startle them, and awaken them to take an effectual and speedy course for the salvation of themselves from future vengeance; and because many true believers, who are really united unto Christ by faith, are apt also through the temptation of Sathan, and their own ignorance, and doubting misgiving-heart, to mistake themselves, and look upon themselves to be hypocrites, and therefore fear that when Christ doth appear, that they shall be condemned by him, being so ready to condemn themselves, and therefore gather matter for trouble from this Doctrine, which indeed is matter of the greatest comfort; therefore it will be needful for the undeceiving of the former, that they may not falfly apply comfort, and the rectifying the mistakes of the latter, that they may not put off comfort, to make some tryal of true believers: It would be too large to present to you all the character which we may finde in the Word of God of true believers: therefore I shall make mention but of one, which the Text holds forth, and is the second Doctrine observed from the Words, in the begining of our Discourse.
Doct. 2. That there is an earnest desire in the Church, or true Believers, after the second appearance of the Lord Iesus Christ.
You may try your selves whether you are true believers by your desires after Christs appearance; this is the Character which the Apostle Paul giveth of Believers, that they are such as love, and by consequence desire the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Tim. 4. 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of right••sness, which the Lord, the righteous Iudge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that love his appearance: All such, and none but such shall have a Crown of righteousness, who love Christs appearing; believers are said to look for Christs coming, Heb. 9. 28. Vnto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation. He will appear unto all, but only to them that look for him, will he appear unto salvation. Believers look for Christs appearance, with an eye of faith, of hope, and of desire.
- Believers look for Christs appearance with an eye of faith; they expect it as sure as death, yea as more sure, because the death of some will be prevented by it; it is not impossible that the Lord Jesus should come in our days: they surely believe that the Lord will come.
- Believers look for the appearance of Christ with an eye of hope; Tit. 2. 13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour. As they have hopes of the glory of Heaven, so they have hopes of the coming of Christ, who will receive them into glory, who will put the Crown upon their Heads, and bring them with Triumph unto the new Ierusalem.
- Believers look for the appearance of Christ with an eye of love and desire; they love and long for his appearance, they look with many a glance of love towards the Pallace above, where their Lord is, and they have many a longing wish, that he would come forth, and come down, and receive them unto himself, that where he is, there they might be also. The Bride saith come, and the desire of the Spouse is, Make haste my belived, and be as Roe upon the Mountains of Spices: Cant. 8. 14. Believers pray, Thy Kingdome come, in the Lord’s Prayer, which he taught his Disciples, they desire the coming, not only of the Kingdome of grace, but also of the Kingdome of glory; and in the Text, the Church breathes forth this desire, after Christs appearance, Amen, even so come Lord Iesus.
Now examine your selves whether you are true believers by this Character. Do you love and desire Christs appearance?
Obj. If any object against themselves, and say, alas! we fear then we are no true believers, because we cannot say that we love and desire Christs appearance, we are so far from desiring it, that we are afraid of it, and it is matter of the greatest trouble unto us to think of it.
Ans. 1. See you to that, many go under the name of believers, which have only the name; take heed that none of you be found in the number of such, at the last day.
- Possibly some of you may condemn your selves without reason, as Gods Children are more forward to do than hypocrites, who have the most reason; It may be you do not desire that Christ should come immediatly, but do not you desire that Christ should come at all? a Wife may sincerely and greatly desire the coming home of her Husband, when he is gone a long journey; and yet if her House be out of order, and not fitted to her minde for the receiving of him, if she be not dressed and got into such a garb, as she knows would be pleasing to him; she may be content that he would stay a little longer, until she be better prepared, yea she may be afraid of his coming whilst she is unprepared; the Harlot or Adulteress could be content that her Husband should never return, but the true wife doth desire the coming of her husband, though sometimes not the present coming: so true believers they do desire Christs coming, who is gone a long journey to Heaven, though they may not desire his present coming, because they are not so fitted as they desire to befor the receiving of him; they desire his coming, they would not for all the World that he should stay away for ever in Heaven; unbelievers could be content Christ should stay away for ever, and that they might live for ever upon Earth, but believers could not be so content, they may fer Christs immediate coming, because of their unpreparation, but they desire his coming.
Quest. How should we know whether our desires after Christs coming be sincere?
Answ. 1. If you love Christs person, it is • sign your desires after his coming are sincere; 〈◊〉 desire the coming of friends to us, whom we love▪ Do you love Christ in sincerity? Do you love him for himself, for his own excellencies, his love•liness, his love, and spiritual love-tokens? do you love him upon a spiritual account?
- If you do sincerely desire the comming 〈◊〉 Christ into your hearts in regard of his Spirit and grace, it is a sign you have sincere desires after his coming in glorie; when grace will arrive to it• perfection; Can you understandingly and heartily pray Thy Kingdome come; I mean, that Christ’s Kingdome of grace should be erected in your hearts; and are sincerely desirous to have all things within you brought into subjection and obedience thereunto? Do you sincerely and earnestly desire the presence of Christ and the breathings of his Spirit upon your hearts in his Ordinances? it is a sign that there are at least true radical desires in you after his second appearance, though by reason of doubts and feares they may not be so expresse.
- If you have laid up your treasure in Heaven, and placed your happinesse in things above: if you have cast the Anchor of your hope upward into that which is within the Vail, it is a sign you have true desires after Christ’s appearance, that he might give you possession of the happinesse which you have made choice of.
- If you are careful to please the Lord, and whether present or absent, to be accepted of him; and are affraid of sin, because it is grievous to him; and are diligent in the use of means to fit and prepare your selves, and make all things readie for the receiving of him, it is a sign you do both look for his coming, and do desire it.
- And lastly, if you have lively hopes of his coming, and can rejoice in those hopes, if you can with earnestness pray, Come Lord Iesus, come quickly; this is a sign indeed of your desires, though all true Believer have not attained to so great a heighth.
Unbelievers, they do not desire Christ’s appearance, because they do not believe in him, because they do not love him, because their hearts are set upon the world, because they are under the guilt and power of sin, and because when Christ doth appear, he will judge them, condemn them, and punish them; But though they do not desire Christ’s coming, nor think of it, nor prepare for it, yet Christ will come, and his coming will be dreadful unto them.
Believers, they desire Christ’s coming, they 〈◊〉 looking for it, and waiting for it, they are ••ping for it, and preparing for it, and he will certainly, he will quickly appear, and they shall appear with him in glorie, and this appearance 〈◊〉 be a most comfortable and joyful appearance u•• them: which leads unto the second Word whi•• I am to speak.
- For the comforting of Believer.
Will the Lord Jesus Christ certainly and quic•ly appear to Judgment: here then is a full brea• of the sweetest consolation, at which you may su• and be satisfied and exceedingly refreshed; As 〈◊〉 very word in this Doctrine speaks terror to Si•ners, so every word doth breathe forth comfort true Believers: and therefore I shall endeavo•• hence to help work up your hearts unto sp•ritual Joy.
- Rejoice, Believers rejoice! Christ will app•• to Iudgment: Christ will appear in his Glorie, t•• great God and your Saviour will appear, He, th• is your Saviour and Advocate will then be th• Judge of the World; your Lord and King wi•• appear attended with a glorious Train of he•• venlie Courtiers, decked with glorious bea•• of most excellent Majestie! Your Captain 〈◊〉 appear, the Captain of your Salvation, with 〈◊〉 spoils of his and your enemies: and he will ri•• triumphantly in the Clouds; your dearly belove• Friend and Husband will appear with such beaut• and lovelinesse in his face, and with such de•• love towards you in his heart, as hath not entre• into your hearts to conceive: the Lord Jesus Chri•• will be glorious in the eyes of the whole world on that day; and should not this rejoice your heart to think of the glorie of your Lord, which will be then so conspicuous, and of your interest in such a Person?
- Rejoice, Believers rejoice! Christ will certainly appear: if there were any grounds to doubt the truth of this thing, you would have reason to grieve; but when the thing is so certain, when God hath revealed it in his Word so clearlie, when the Lord hath promised it to his people so faithfully, and given his People hopes and expectations of it, he will not disappoint them: You have reason to rejoice, there is nothing more certain, as hath been proved, than the second appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ at the last day,
- Rejoice Believer•s, rejoice! Christ will quickly appear; the coming of the Lord draweth nigh; there is a time set, though you cannot know it, because God hath locked up this secret in his own bosome; yet you may know that it cannot now be far off; the Lord will not tarrie much longer in Heaven before he come down to Judgment: Look up then, and lift up your heads with joy, for the day of your Redemption draweth nigh, Luke 21. 28. You will not long groan under the bondage and burden of corruption; You will not long mourn and complain under the persecutions of cruel Enemies; You will not long be assaulted and bufferred with the temptations of Sathan; You will not long live in the dark Prison of the world, Christ will quickly be here and open the Prison-doors, and deliver you into the glorious libertie of the Children of God.
- Rejoice, Believers rejoice! When Christ doth appear, yee also shall appear; Possibly some of you may remain alive until his appearance, be sure all of you shall be made alive; if you go down into your dust before, you shall not be hid there for ever, you shall not be buried there in eternal oblivion; but the Lord Jesus will awaken you out of your long sleep of Death; and raise you out of your beds of darkness; He will send his Angels to gather you from the four Winds; Think, O think how joyful a day this day will be unto you, when the Voice is proclaimed the Bridegroom is come, Go yee forth to meet him; when the Trumpet doth sound in the Air, and you are called out of your graves by the Angels, and gathered into the companie of all the Saints of God which lived in all generations from the beginning of the Creation; and in a moment, in the twinkle of an eye, such of you as are alive shall finde your bodie• strangelie transformed, and all that come forth of the ground made incorruptible and immortal; and when you shall see the Lord Jesus Christ come down with such brightnesse, and beautie, and glorie, and such royal Attendants, and you are all caught up to meet with him in the Air; when you shall finde your selves in the number of those blessed; happy ones, whom the Lord will send for, and receive to himself, when the greatest part of the World will be left behind, crying to the Rock to cover them, and the Mountains to fall upo• them, to hide them from the wrath of this furio•• Judge, that is come to condemn them; O how will your hearts then be filled, and even ravished with transporting joy, which no heart now can conceive!
- Rejoyce, believers rejoyce! when Christ d•• appear, yee shall be judged by him; yee shall not be condemned by him, but yee shall be judged by him; your advocate will be your judge: Who shall then lay any thing to your charge? God will then justify you; who then shall condemn you? Christ will acquit and absolve you. You will openly be declared righteous on that day, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which here hath been imputed to you▪ Christ will own you then for his redeemed people, whom he hath purchased with his own blood; then all your works of mercy will be made mention of; all your services of Christ in the World will be had in remembrance; all your graces will be taken notice of; and the Lord will kindly accept of the improvement of the smallest talents, which he hath intrusted you withall, Well done good and faithfull Servants, yee have been faithful in a few things, enter into the joy of your Lord, Matth. 25. 21. And if you have been persecuted for righteousness sake; if you have been imprisoned, banished, reproached, and greatly afflicted for Christs sake; if you have left Father, Mother, Wife, Children, Houses, Lands, yea and have laid down your lives for the testimony of Jesus, and that you might keep a good conscience, think what entertainment the Lord Jesus will give to you at that time? and O how will you rejoyce that the Lord should confer so great honour and dignity upon you, as to call you forth and enable you to suffer for his name? and think how sweetly the sentence which Christ shall pronounce upon you, will sound in your eares! Come yee blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the World.
- Rejoyce Believers rejoyce! when Christ doth appear, he will reward you, he will give you a crown of glory, which fadeth not away; he will not only judge and sentence you to inherit the Kingdome of Heaven, but he will receive you into the Kingdome, he will give you possession thereof, he will carry you along with him unto glory, he will lead you, and bring you into the new Ierusalem: he will show you the Father unto your full satisfaction, and you shall behold his glory and share in it, he will put you into those mansions which he hath prepared for you; Then, and never till then shall you be perfectly happy, and the fore-thoughts of this is matter of exceeding great comfort, especially if you consider these four properties of Heavens happiness.
- Believers consider the greatness of the happiness of Heaven, it will be full, and you will be filled therewith unto your utmost capacity, yea beyond what here you are capable of; consider these particulars in your happiness of Heaven.
- Think what bodies you will have; they will be most beautiful and glorious bodies, they will be most healthful, strong and immortal bodies; you will then bear the image of the Heavenly Adam, in regard of your bodies, as well as in regard of your souls.
Rejoyce then believers rejoyce! what though some of you have crooked and deformed bodies now? what though some of you are blinde or lame, or maimed, or have your bodies filled with irksome pains, and weakned with long sickness? what though you live in expectation of death, and these bodies, whatever their mold and shape be, must ere long be carried to the cold stinking grave, and be turned into putrefaction? yet rejoice you that are believers, because your bodies will be made so glorious in the resurrection, when all blemishes of nature will be healed, and all sickness and pain will be removed, because they will be raised in incorruption, and freed from any more dominion of death for ever.
- Think what Souls you shall have; you will be glorious without, your bodies will shine; but you will be far more glorious within, your souls will shine much more; then your souls shall be washed clean from all remainders of sin, so that they shall not have the least spot or stain; then you shall be cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and arrive unto perfection of holiness; then the feeds of grace will be grown up into the flowers of glory, and O what a fragrant garden will your souls be? when the rude draught, as it were of Christ here in your hearts, shall be finished and perfected by Gods Pensil, and your spirits shall be made perfectly like unto your glorious Lord, O how beautiful will they be in the eyes of God!
Rejoice then believers, rejoice! it grieveth you when you look within you, and perceive so much remaining defilement; when you feel such strong opposition of the flesh against the spirit, and you finde your selves sometimes foiled thereby, your weaknesses and infirmities trouble you; but rejoyce believers, because in Heaven you will be perfectly freed from sin, you will never be foiled nor defiled with it any more, but you will be made perfectly holy, and perfectly happy.
- Think what habitations ye shall have; you shall have Mansions in the Fathers house, Joh. 14. 2. A building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens, 2 Cor. 5. 1. your persons will be glorious, and your habitations will be glorious.
Rejoyce then believers, rejoyce! what though some of you live in poor and mean cottages; then you shall live in the glorious? Pallace of the King of Kings; what though your houses have been burned with fire, and some of you have not where to lay your head, and none of you have a certain dwelling place which you can secure to your selves? yet rejoyce because there are Mansions provided for you, out of which it will be impossible for you to be burned or turned out for ever. The City which is above hath foundations which cannot be over turned, and the building of God which is not made with hands, cannot be destroyed by hands, neither is exposed to flames of fire, which may demolish the fairest City in the world.
- Think what Company you shall have: you shall have the presence of the Father, you shall dwell with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of God will dwell in you for ever; you shall have the company of holy Angels, and all the glorified Saints; all your companions will be most lovely and glorious.
Rejoyce then believers rejoyce! what though wicked men separate you from their company, and think you unworthy of their fellowship? God will not think you unworthy of his fellowship, nor separate you from his presence; what though some of you are forced to dwell in Meseck, and are linked in neer relations to some ungodly persons, and are every day vexed with their ungodly conversation? Rejoyce, for in Heaven you will be freed from such company, no wicked person will be permitted to come into that place.
- Think what Treasures you shall have; you shall have Treasures which cannot be corrupted by moth, nor stoln by thief, your riches will be durable and unsearchable.
Rejoice then believers, rejoice! what though you are poor in the world? you are rich in saith, and hope; what though you have no inheritance on earth? yet you are heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven, you shall have an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled; what though you indure some hardship in your journey through the world? when you come home to your Fathers house you shall be freed from all want, and have such treasures to spend upon, which can never be exhausted.
- Think what Honours you shall have; the meanest of you will be exalted unto higher dignity than the greatest Monarch that ever lived; you will be crowned with immortal glory, you will be honoured by God and the Angels; and you will not only have honour, but you will be made most honourable.
Rejoice then believers, and take comfort, though you are scorned by some, and accounted as the off-scouring of the earth; you are reproached and vilified by men here, but all your reproaches, especially those which you have born for the sake of Jesus Christ, shall be wreathed into a Crown, and make you the more glorious in Heaven; there you shall not have the least disgrace cast upon you any more; and you shall be kept from doing any unbecoming action to blot and sullie you in the least, but you shall shine like so many Stars, or glorious Suns in the Kingdom of your Father.
- Think what Peace and Rest you shall have; you shall have a most sweet peace and tranquilitie of mind, no enemie without to disturb and molest you, no devil to tempt and assault you, no lusts within, or distempered passion to disquiet you; then you shall have perfect peace; and then you shall rest from all wearisome imploiments, and take up your repose in God for ever.
Rejoice then believers, and set this chear your hearts in your passage through the tempestuous sea of this world; ere long you will come to the haven, where there will be no waves nor winds; sometimes now you are troubled on every side, and have no rest in your spirits; without are fightings, within are fears; but in Heaven you shall be freed perfectlie from all disturbance and molestation.
- Think what Ioyes and Pleasures you shall have; you shall have fulness of Joy, Psal. 16. 11. you shall drink of the rivers of pleasures, Psal. 36. 8. O the delights which you shall have in the immediate views of Gods face, in the sense of Gods love, in the high actings of your love; in the fruition of the chiefest good, and the high emploiment which you shall have in Heaven.
Rejoice then believers, rejoice in hope of these joyes; now you mourn and weep for your sin, and because of the eclipses of the light of Gods countenance; it troubles your hearts that you can see and enjoy so little of God, that your love is so low and inconstant, that your highest services are but mean, and diverted many times by little trifling businesses in the world, from converse with God; in heaven all tears will be wiped away from your eyes, and all sorrow, with all the grounds thereof will be removed, you will come with singing into the new Ierusalem; you will enter and live in the vision and fruition, in the love and joy, and spend an eternity in the praise of the Lord.
- Believers, consider the sureness of the happiness of Heaven; as surely as you are believers, so surely shall you obtain this happiness; you cannot be sure of any thing in the world, but you may be sure of the glory of heaven, and though there be not the certitudo subjecti: and many of you be not assured of it, but are full of doubts and fears that you shall fall short; yet there is certitudo objecti, the thing is sure to you.
Rejoice then believers, rejoice! your names are written in the book of life, our of which they shall never be blotted, labour to answer your doubts, and to get your hearts wrought up to a full assurance of this happiness, by such arguments as these, which will evidently prove, that if you be true believers, you shall not, you cannot miss of Heaven.
- God hath chosen you to glory, he hath elected you to salvation before the world was, Act. 13. 48. As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed. Hence it follows, that all believers were ordained to eternal life; and I Thes. 2. 13. God hath chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit, and beliefe of the truth. All true believers are elected persons, and Gods decree of election cannot be frustrated, because God is unchangeable; because God changeth not, therefore you are not consumed; because God changeth not, therefore you shall be saved.
- God hath promised this happiness to you, I Iohn 2. 24. This is the promise which he hath promised, even eternal life. And Tit. 1. 2. In hope of eternal life, which God who cannot lie hath promised. If God hath promised this happiness, and your faith doth give you interest in the promises, and God be faithful to fulfil to them, it being impossible for God to lie; then as certainly as God is true, you that are believers shall obtain.
- The Lord Jesus Christ hath purchased this happiness for you, it is called the purchased posfession, Eph. 1. 14. as certain as the purchase, so certain will be the possession.
- The Lord Jesus hath taken possession of Heaven for you, The fore-runner is for us entred, Heb. 6. 20. He is preparing these mansions in the fathers house for you, Ioh. 14. 2. and as certain as Christ is in Heaven, so certainly shall those that are believers be received thither in time.
- Christ praied that you might have this happiness whilst he was on the earth, Iah. 17. 24. Father I will that those which thou host given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold the glory which thou host given me. Which prayer was made for you, if believers, as well as for his present Disciples, v. 20. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. And for this thing Chirst intercedes above, and whatever he praies and intercedes for, he will prevail for you, and therefore you will obtain.
- Ye are Christs, as ye are believers, and therefore all things are yours, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 3. 22, 23. amongst which, things to come are enumerated; ye are Christs servants, and do his work, and he will give you your wages; You honour him in the world, and therefore you shall be honoured by him; You follow your Master in a way of self-denial and suffering, and if you suffer with him, you shall reign with him, 2 Tim. 2. 12. and be glorified together, Rom. 8. 17. and where Christ is, there shall his servants be, Ioh. 12. 26. Ye are Christs members, and where the head is, there shall the members be; Ye are Christs Sponse, you are joined, married to him, and therefore shall live with him, all the powers of earth and hell, cannot separate you from his love, and therefore cannot keep you out of heaven, Rom. 8. 35, 36, 37, 38, 39.
- Ye are justified by faith, Rom. 5. 1. and therefore absolved from the guilt of sin, therefore freed from the condemnation of hell, Rom. 8. 1. therefore shall not perish, seeing the cause thereof is removed, therfore you shall have eternal life, Ioh. 3. 16. whom God justifieth, them he also glorifieth, Rom. 8. 30.
- Yee are the adopted children of God, Gal. 3. 26. For ye are all the Children of God, by faith in Iesus Christ. And if children, then heirs, Rom. 8. 17. and if heirs, you shall be sure to have the inheritance.
- Ye are called with a Holy calling, and sanctified with the holy Spirit, and thereby in some measure fitted and qualified for this happiness by the work of grace, consormity to the Lord in holiness; grace is glory begun, and is called eternal life, and God hath promised to perfect it, Philip. 1. 6. grace hath relation to Heaven, as sin hath relation to hell; and as sin will certainly bring men to hell if it be not pardoned, and subdued; so grace will certainly bring men to heaven, because it cannot be wholly eradicated.
- You have made choice of Heaven for your portion, you have laid up there your treasure, and God hath set your souls a longing after it, and given you hopes of it; and therefore you shall not miss it, your desires shall be satisfied, and your hopes shall not make you ashamed, Rom. 5. 5.
- And if besides all this, you have the witness, and seal, and earnest of the spirit, giving you some first fruits, and foretastes of this happiness; (though all believers do not obtain it) then you may know without question, that this is a sure happiness, both in its self, and unto you.
Therefore believers exercise your faith, that you may be filled with all joy and peace in believing.
- Believers consider the neerness of the happiness of Heaven, Christs appearance is not far off, but your happiness may be neerer, I mean the happiness of your souls in Heaven, which will begin, so soon as your lives come to an end: the wicked walk upon the brink of Hell every day, when they die, thither they are carried; you walk upon the borders of the Heavenly Canaan, the Paradise which is above, when you die, thither you shall be conveyed; and you may die suddenlie, and as s•ddenlie you will be in glory.
Rejoice then believers, rejoice! you may be in Heaven before you are aware; it may be to morrow God will send for you, within a few daies you may be out of the body, and present with •he Lord Jesus, and amongst the spirits of just Men made perfect; when you break Prison from the body, you will be delivered into the marvelous light of Gods glory; rejoice to think how neer your happiness is.
- Believers consider the everlastingness of the happiness of Heaven, there is fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore; Psal. 18. 11. When you are come to Heaven, there you shall abide, your happiness will be constant and eternal, without diminution, intermixture of sin or sorrow, without interruption, or possibility that ever it should be brought to an end. It would alleviate the torments of the damned, if they had any hopes of ever being let out of Hell; and it would weaken the joyes of the Saints, yea fill them with unspeakable grief, if there were any danger and fear of being ever thrust out of Heaven.
Rejoice then yee believers; yee shall rejoice for evermore in the eternal vision and fruition of God, labour to begin your Heavens joyes now; let faith so realize and bring neer the things which you hope for, and make evident the things which as yet you do not see, but shall possess, that you may have a sweet foretaste of this happiness; and begin your Heavens work to praise the Lord for his great and undeserved love wherewith he hath loved you, and for those things beyond conception, which out of love he hath prepared for you.
LAstly to conclude, I shall speak a word both to Sinners and Believers.
Will the Lord Jesus Christ certainly and quickly appear to judgment? let me then in his name perswade you to three things.
- Believe that Christ will appear, mingle the Doctrine you have heard or read, with faith; you have had evident proofs of it, believe the thing.
Sinners believe that Christ will come to judge and condemn you, if you be found in your sins, did you believe it effectually, you would quickly become Saints.
Believers labour for more faith in this truth, did you believe▪ it more strongly, you would live at a higher rate.
- Consider that Christ will appear; meditate on this thing, let it dwell in your thoughts, let it lie down with you at night, and arise with you in the morning, let it sit down with you at Table, and walk with you abroad; think often of the antecedents of Christs coming, the judgment it self and the consequents thereof, and get a deep impression of the last Judgment upon your spirits.
Sinners, consider how the wicked will be judged, think how they will be accused and condemned, think of the dreadful sentence, and the execution thereof in Hell, and then think that you are in the number of those that are in such danger, unless you speedily secure your selves, by making your peace.
Believers, consider how the Saints will be judged, think how Christ will acquit them, and invite them to take possession, and then will give them possession of Heaven; and then think that you are in the number of these blessed ones, which shall be made thus happy.
- Prepare for the appearance of Christ to judgment, and that you may be prepared, as a conclusion to this Doctrine, take these directions.
- Be diligent, that yee may be found of him in peace, it is the advice of the Apostle, after his discourse of the coming of the Lord, and the glorious things of that day. Wherefore beloved, seeing that yee look for such things, be diligent, that yee may be found of him in peace. 2 Pet. 3. 14.
- Make your peace with God; sinners God is your enemy, make your peace with him; you have offended him by your sins, and his justice must be satisfied, O labour to ge• an interest in the satisfaction of Christ, that your sins may be pardoned, and God may be reconciled; lay hold on Christ by faith, as yet you may be welcome to him, hereafter, it will be too late. Believers, make sure of a pardon, you cannot be too sure in a thing of such concernment.
- Diligently endeavour•after peace in your consciences; sinners, get the wounds which fin hath made there, healed with the blood of Christ; Believers, take heed of making any breaches there, maintain peace within, when you have obtained it.
- Diligently follow after peace one with another, take heed of hatred, variance, emulations, wraths, strifes, seditions, envyings, divisions, clamours, evil-speakings, back-bitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults; and follow after those things which make for peace, as love, joy, humbleness of minde, meekness, long-suffering, patience, and the like, that you may be found of the Lord in peace.
- Give diligence, that yee may be found of the Lord, without spot, and blameless, as the Apostle doth advise in the same 14. vers. And read ver. 11 Seeing all these things shall be dissolved, what manne• of Persons ought yee to be, in all holy conversatio• and godliness. Get the spots of sin washed of• not only the guilt of sin removed, but also the de•filement; labour to be holy in all manner of con•versation, to be blameless and harmless, the Chil•dren of God without rebuke, in the midst of crooked and perverse Generation; Take heed 〈◊〉 the sins of the times and places wherein you live joyn not with them in their sins, least you share 〈◊〉 their Plagues at the last day. Let your conversa•tion be as becometh the Gospel; let your action be •qu••ed by the Word, as those which must giv• an account, and receive a reward according 〈◊〉 your works.
- Sit loose from the World, let not your hear• be over-charged with the cares of this life, n• filled with the love of the World, and that da• overtake you at unawares, Luke 21. 34. Remem•ber that riches will not profit you in the day 〈◊〉 wrath, that the fashion of this World passeth • way, and you are passing away, and therefo• live here as strangers and so•journers.
- Lay up your treasure in Heaven, Matth. • 20. And get your affections set upon things abov• Col. 3. 2. And then the appearance of Jesus Chr•• will be joyful to you, because he will give 〈◊〉 poffession of Heaven.
- Be ready to do and suffer whatever the Lo• calls you unto; patiently continue in well-doin• for in due time yee shall reap; be stedfast and 〈◊〉 movable, alwaies abounding in the work of 〈◊〉 Lord, because your labour shall not be in vain 〈◊〉 the Lord: Gal. 6, 9. I Cor. 15. 58. And what ever afflictions yee suffer for Christ, they are light and momentany, but the glory which Christ will give, is weighty and eternal. 2 Cor. 4. 17.
- Give Christ your hearts, let him have the highest room, give him your whole heart, let him have the choicest and chiefest of your affections; and then he will give you his Kingdome, and such expressions of his love will he make unto you at his appearance, as now you have not thoughts to conceive.
- Maintain communion with Christ in his Ordinances; prize Ordinances upon this account, because Christ doth walk there; and improve Ordinances for this end, that you may meet with Christ; •est not in the out-side and carnal part of Ordinances, but seek after Christ in them until you finde •im, and labour to grow into acquaintance with Christ, and to keep fellowship with him; and •hen when he doth appear, he will know you again •nd own you, and receive you to live with him •or ever.
- Stand up for the honour of Christ in the World,•onfess him before Men, and he will confess you •efore his Father in Heaven, Matth. 10. 32. Be •ot ashamed to profess your selves his Disciples, •nd to own his waies and truths, when they are •ost contemned and despised by the ungodly •orld, because if you be, he will be ashamed of •ou when he cometh in his Glory. Mark. 8. 38.
- Improve your Talents for the use of the Lord, •ho hath entrusted you with them: All of you have •alents, lay them not up in a Napkin, but lay •em out in the service of the Lord; whatever •ifts or graces you have, put them forth to usury, •at you may give an account with joy to your Lord, when he shall come to call you to an account.
- Stand upon your Watch; when our Saviour had foretold his Disciples of his coming, he exhorts them, and all to watch, Mark 13. 37. What I say unto you, I say unto all, watch. Watch against sin; watch your senses, which are the inlets of sin; watch your hearts, from whence are the issues of sin; watch, take heed of sleeping in sin, least you lose your Garm•nts, and be found naked.
- Be frequent and fervent in Prayer, our Saviour joyns these duties together in his exho•tation of his Disciples: Luke 21. 36. Watch▪ yee therefore, and pray alwayes, that yee may be counted worthy to escape all these things, which shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. Pray without ceasing, pray without fainting, be often upon your knees, and be earnest with the Lord, that he would prepare you for this day, that he would deliver you from that dreadful wrath which shall be revealed when Christ doth appear, and which you have deserved for your sins: and pray that he would give you those qualifications, as may embolden you at the last day to hold up your heads with confidence; that he would keep you without spot, and blameless until the coming of the Lord.
- And lastly, Look for the appearance of the Lord; look with an eye of hope, labour to abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and let this hope be an Anchor fastned within the Vail, to stay your sinking hearts in the midst of those fierce stormes, which do or may beat upon you in the World; and look with an eye of desire; look and long for Christs appearance; dart up your wishes often to Heaven▪ O when shall we see the Heavens opened, and behold our Lord in his Glory? When shall we hear the Trumpet sound and be gathered by the Angels from all the quarters of the Earth? When shall we put off this dust and corruption, and be cloathed with robes of immortality? When will the Lord Jesus come down, and show us his glory, and receive us to himself, that where he is, there we may be also? Christ hath spoken from Heaven to Earth, Surely I come quickly▪ let there be an eccho back from Earth to Heaven in your desires to this voice: Amen, even so come Lord Iesus, come quickly
I shall conclude all with the words of the Apost•e Iude▪ vers 24, 25. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceed•ng joy, To the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and Majesty, dominion and power, now and ever. Amen.