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You have contrary to God's counsel made use of your own enjoyments to the hurt of your soul, and therefore if God should turn them to the hurt and ruin of your soul, he would but deal with you as you have dealt with yourself. God has earnestly counselled you times without number to use your temporal enjoyments for your spiritual good, but you have refused to hearken to him, you have foolishly perverted them to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, you have voluntarily used what God has given you for your spiritual hurt to increase your guilt and wound your own soul; and therefore if God's curse should attend them, so that they should all turn to the ruin of your soul, you would but be dealt with as you have dealt with yourself.
3. How just would it be in God to cut you off, and put an end to your life!
You have greatly abused the patience and long suffering of God which have already been exercised towards you. God with wonderful long suffering has borne with you, when you have gone on in rebellion against him, and refused to turn from your evil ways. He has beheld you going on obstinately in the ways of provocation against him, and yet he has not let loose his wrath against you to destroy you, but has still waited to be gracious. He has suffered you yet to live on his earth, and breathe his air; he has upheld and preserved you, and continued still to feed you, and clothe you, and maintain you, and still to give you a space to repent; but instead of being the better for his patience, you have been the worse, instead of being melted by it, you have been hardened, and it has made you the more presumptuous in sin. Eccles. viii. 11. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." You have been guilty of despising the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering, instead of being led to repent by it. You cannot live one day but as God maintains and provides for you; you cannot draw a breath, or live a moment, unless God upholds you; for in his hand your breath is, and he holds your soul in life, and his visitation preserves your spirit. But what thanks has God had for it; how have you, instead of being turned to God, been only rendered the more fully set and dreadfulJy hardened in the ways of sin! How just therefore would it be if God's patience should soon be at an end, and he should cease to bear with you any longer!
You have not only abused his past patience, but have also abused his thoughts of future patience. You have flattered yourself that death was not near, and that you should live long in the world, and this has made you abundantly the more bold in sin. Since therefore such has been the use you have made of your expectation of having your life preserved, how just would it be in
God to disappoint that expectation, and cut you short of that long life with which you have flattered yourself, and in the thoughts of which you have encouraged yourself in sin against him! How just would it be if your breath should soon be stopped, and that suddenly, when you think not of it, and you should be driven away in your wickedness!
3. As long as you live in sin you do but cumber the ground, you are wholly unprofitable, and live in vain. He, that refuses to live to the glory of God, does not answer the end of his creation, and for what should he live? God made men to serve him; to this end he gave them life; and if they will not devote their lives to this end, how just would it be in God if he should refuse to continue their lives any longer! He has planted you in his vineyard, to bear fruit; and if you bring forth no fruit, why should he continue you any longer; how just would it be in him to cut you down!
As long as you live many of the blessings of God are spent upon you from day to day; you devour the fruits of the earth and consume much of its fatness and sweetness; and all to no purpose, but to keep you alive to sin against God, and spend all in wickedness. The whole creation does as it were groan with you; the sun rises and sets to give you light, the clouds pour down rain upon you, and the earth brings forth her fruits, and labours from year to year to supply you; and you in the mean time do not answer the end of Him who has created all things. How just therefore would it be if God should soon cut you off, and take you away, and deliver the earth from this burden, that the creation may no longer groan with you, and cast you out as an abominable branch! Luke xiii. 7. "Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none : cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” John xv. 2 and 6. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit-If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
4. How just would it be if you should die in the greatest horror and amazement!
How often have you been exhorted to improve your time, to lay a foundation of peace and comfort on a death-bed; and yet you have refused to hearken! You have been many and many a time reminded that you must die, that it was very uncertain when, and that you did not know how soon, and have been told how mean and insignificant all your earthly enjoyments would then appear, and how unable to afford you any comfort on a death-bed. have been often told how dreadful it would be to lie on a deathbed in a Christless state, having nothing to comfort you but your
worldly enjoyments. You have been often put in mind of the torment and amazement which sinners, who have mis-spent their precious time are subject to when arrested by death. You have been told how infinitely you would then need to have God your friend, and to have the testimony of a good conscience, and a well grounded hope of future blessedness. And how often have you been exhorted to take care to provide against such a day as this, and to lay up treasure in heaven, that you might have something to depend on when you parted from all this world, something to hope for when all things here below fail! But remember how regardless you have been, how dull and negligent from time to time, when you have sat under the hearing of such things, and still you obstinately refuse to prepare for death, and take no care to lay a good foundation against that time. And you have not only been counselled, but you have seen others on their death-beds in fear and distress, or have heard of them, and have not taken warning; yea, some of you have been sick yourselves, and have been afraid that you were on your death-beds, yet God was merciful to you, and restored you, but you did not take warning to prepare for death. How justly therefore might you be the subject of that horror and amazement, of which you have heard, when you come to die!
And not only so, but how industriously have you spent your time in treasuring up matter for tribulation and anguish at that time! You have not only been negligent of laying a foundation for peace and comfort then, but have spent your time continually and unweariedly in laying a foundation for distress and horror. How have you gone on from day to day, heaping up more and more guilt; more and more wounding your own conscience, still increasing the amount of folly and wickedness for you to reflect upon! How just therefore would it be that tribulation and anguish should then come upon you!
5. How just it is that you should suffer the wrath of God in another world.
Because you have wilfully provoked, and stirred up that wrath. If you are not willing to suffer the anger of God, then why did you provoke him to anger? why did you act as though you would contrive to make him angry with you? why did you wilfully disobey God? You know that wilful disobedience tends to provoke him, who is disobeyed: it is so in an earthly king, or master, or father. If you have a servant who is wilfully disobedient, it provokes your anger. And again, if you would not suffer God's wrath, why have you so often cast a slight on God? If any one casts a slight on men, it tends to provoke them: how much more may the Infinite Majesty of heaven be provoked, when he is contemned! You have also robbed God of his property, you have refused to give
him that which is his own. It provokes men when they are deprived of their due and they are dealt injuriously by; how much more may God be provoked when you rob him!
You have also slighted the kindness of God to you, and that the greatest love and kindness of which you can conceive. You have been supremely ungrateful and have only abused that kindness. Nothing provokes men more than to have their kindness slighted and abused; how much more may God be provoked when men re quite his infinite mercy only with disobedience and ingratitude! If therefore you go on to provoke God, and to stir up his wrath, how can you expect any other than to suffer his wrath? If then you should indeed suffer the wrath of an offended God, remember it is what you have procured for yourself, it is a fire of your own kindling.
You would not accept of deliverance from God's wrath, when it has been offered to you. When God had in mercy sent his only begotten Son into the world, you refused to admit him. You loved your sins too well to forsake them to come to Christ, and for the sake of your sins, you have rejected all the offers of a Saviour, so that you have chosen death rather than life. After you had procured wrath to yourself you clove fast to it, and would not part with it for mercy. "All they that hate me, love death."
6. How just would it be that you be delivered up into the hands of the devil and his angels, to be tormented by them hereafter, seeing you have voluntarily given yourself up to serve them here! You have hearkened to them rather than to God. How just therefore would it be if God leave you to them! You have followed Satan and adhered to his interest in opposition to God, and have subjected yourself to his will in this world, rather than to the will of God; how just therefore would it be if God should give you up to his will hereafter!
7. How justly may your bodies be made organs of torment to you hereafter, which you have made organs and instruments of sin in this world! You have given up your bodies a sacrifice to sin and Satan: how justly therefore may God give them up a sacrifice to wrath! You have employed your bodies as servants to your vile and hateful lusts. How just therefore would it be for God hereafter to raise your bodies to be organs and instruments of misery; and to fill them as full of torment as they have been filled full of sin!
8. But the greatest objection of wicked men against the justice of the future punishment which God has threatened, is from the greatness of that punishment: that God should inflict upon the finally impenitent, torments so extreme, so amazingly dreadful, to have their bodies cast into a furnace of fire of such immense heat and fierceness, there to lie unconsumed, and yet full of sense and
feeling, glowing within and without; and the soul full of yet more dreadful horror and torment; and so to remain without any remedy or rest for ever, and ever, and ever. And, therefore, I would mention several things to you, to show how justly you lie exposed to so dreadful a punishment.
1. This punishment, as dreadful as it is, is not more so than the Being is great and glorious against whom you have sinned. It is true this punishment is dreadful beyond all expression or conception, and so is the greatness and gloriousness of God as much beyond all expression or conception; and yet you have continued to sin against him, yea, you have been bold and presumptuous in your sins, and have multiplied transgressions against him without end. The wrath of God that you have heard of, dreadful as it is, is not more dreadful than that Majesty which you have despised and trampled on is awful. This punishment is indeed enough to fill one with horror barely to think of it, and so it would fill you with at least equal horror to think of sinning so exceedingly against so great and glorious a God, if you conceived of it aright. Jer. ii. 12, 13. "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be ye very desolate, saith the Lord: For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters; and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water!" God's being so infinitely great and excellent, has not influenced you not to sin against him, but you have done it boldly, and made nothing of it thousands of times; and why should this misery, being so infinitely great and dreadful, hinder God from inflicting it on you? 1 Sam. ii. 25. "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?"
2. Your nature is not more averse from such misery as you have heard of, than God's nature is averse from such sin as you have been guilty of. The nature of man is very averse from pain and torment, and especially it is exceedingly averse from such dreadful and eternal torment; but yet that does not hinder but that it is just that it should be inflicted, for men do not hate misery more than God hates sin. God is so holy, and is of so pure a nature, that he has an infinite aversion to sin; but yet you have made light of sin, and your sins have been exceedingly multiplied and enhanced. The consideration of God's hating of it has not at all hindered you from committing it; why, therefore, should the consideration of your hating misery hinder God from bringing it upon you? God represents himself in his word as burdened and wearied with the sins of wicked men : Isaiah i. 14. "Your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear