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So then, the first truth drawn from the words stands firm — namely, THAT THE LOSS OF THE SOUL IS THE HIGHEST, THE GREATEST LOSS; A LOSS THAT CAN NEVER BE REPAIRED OR MADE UP.
Second , I shall show you the greatness of it.
Third , I shall show you what it is to lose the soul.
Fourth , I shall show you the cause for which men lose their souls; and by this time the greatness of the loss will be manifest.
WHAT THE SOUL IS First , I shall show you what soul is, both as to the various names it goes under, as also, by describing of it by its powers and properties, though in all I shall be but brief, for I intend no long discourse. f3 NAMES OF THE SOUL 1. The soul is often called the heart of man, or that, in and by which things to either good or evil, have their rise; thus desires are of the heart or soul; yea, before desires, the first conception of good or evil is in the soul, the heart. The heart understands, wills, affects, reasons, judges, but these are the faculties of the soul; wherefore, heart and soul are often taken for one and the same. ‘ My son, give me thine heart’ ( Proverbs 23:26). ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,’ etc. ( Matthew 15:19; 1 Peter 3:15; Psalm 26:2). 2. The soul of man is often called the spirit of a man; because it not only giveth being, but life to all things and actions in and done by him. Hence soul and spirit are put together, as to the same notion. ‘With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early’ ( Isaiah 26:9).
When he saith, ‘Yea, with my spirit — will I seek thee,’ he explaineth only with what kind of desires he desired God, but with what principal matter his desires were brought forth. It was with my soul, saith he; to wit, with my spirit within me. So that of Mary, ‘My soul,’ saith she, ‘doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior’ ( Luke 1:46,47).
Not that soul and spirit are, in this place, to be taken for two superior powers in man; but the same great soul is here put under two names, or terms, to show that it was the principal part in Mary; to wit, her soul, that magnified God, even that part that could spirit and put life into her whole self to do it. Indeed, sometimes spirit is not taken so largely, but is confined to some one power or faculty of the soul, as ‘the spirit of my understanding,’ ( Job 20:3) ‘and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.’
And sometime by spirit we are to understand other things; but many times by spirit we must understand the soul, and also by soul the spirit. 3. Therefore, by soul we understand the spiritual, the best, and most noble part of man, as distinct from the body, even that by which we understand, imagine, reason, and discourse. And, indeed, as I shall further show you presently, the body is but a poor, empty vessel, without this great thing called the soul. ‘The body without the spirit,’ or soul, ‘is dead’ ( James 2:26). Or nothing but (her soul departed from her, for she died). It is, therefore, the chief and most noble part of man. 4. The soul is often called the life of man, not a life of the same stamp and nature of the brute; for the life of man — that is, of the rational creature — is, that, as he is such, wherein consisteth and abideth the understanding and conscience etc. Wherefore, then, a man dieth, or the body ceaseth to act, or live in the exercise of the thoughts, which formerly used to be in him, when the soul departeth, as I hinted even now — her soul departed from her, for she died; and, as another good man saith, ‘in that very day his thoughts perish,’ etc. ( <19E604> Psalm 146:4). The first text is more emphatical; Her soul was in departing (for she died). There is the soul of a beast, a bird, etc., but the soul of a man is another thing; it is his understanding, and reason, and conscience, etc. And this soul, when it departs, he dies. Nor is this life, when gone out of the body, annihilate, as is the life of a beast; no, this, in itself, is immortal, and has yet a place and being when gone out of the body it dwelt in; yea, as quick, as lively is it in its senses, if not far more abundant, than when it was in the body; but I call it the life, because so long as that remains in the body, the body is not dead. And in this sense it is to be taken where he saith ‘He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it’ unto life eternal; and this is the soul that is intended in the text, and not the breath, as in some other places is meant. And this is evident, because the man has a being, a sensible being, after he has lost the soul. I mean not by the man a man in this world, nor yet in the body, or in the grave; but by man we must understand, either the soul in hell, or body and soul there, after the judgment is over. And for this the text, also, is plain, for therein we are presented with a man sensible of the damage that he has sustained by losing of his soul. ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ But, 5. The whole man goeth under this denomination; man, consisting of body and soul, is yet called by that part of himself that is most chief and principal. ‘Let every soul,’ that is, let every man, ‘be subject unto the higher powers’ ( Romans 13:1). ‘Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him , and all his kindred, three-score and fifteen souls ( Acts 7:14). By both these, and several other places, the whole man is meant, and is also so to be taken in the text; for whereas here he saith, ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ It is said elsewhere, ‘For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?’ ( Luke 9:25) and so, consequently, or, ‘What shall a man give in exchange (for himself) for his soul?’ His soul when he dies, and body and soul in and after judgment. 6. The soul is called the good man’s darling. ‘Deliver,’ Lord, saith David, ‘my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog’ ( Psalm 22:20). So, again, in another place, he saith, ‘Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the [power of the] lions’ ( Psalm 35:17). My darling — this sentence must not be applied universally, but only to those in whose eyes their souls, and the redemption thereof, is precious. My darling — most men do, by their actions, say of their soul, ‘my drudge, my slave; nay, thou slave to the devil and sin; for what sin, what lust, what sensual and beastly lust is there in the world that some do not cause their souls to bow before and yield unto? But David, here, as you see, calls it his darling, or his choice and most excellent thing; for, indeed, the soul is a choice thing in itself, and should, were all wise, be every man’s darling, or chief treasure. And that it might be so with us, therefore, our Lord Jesus hath thus expressed the worth of the soul, saying, ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’
But if this is true, one may see already what misery he is like to sustain that has, or shall lose his soul; he has lost his heart, his spirit, his best part, his life, his darling, himself, his whole self, and so, in every sense, his all.
And now, ‘what shall a man,’ what would a man, but what can a man that has lost his soul, himself, and his all, ‘give in exchange for his soul?’ Yea, what shall the man that has sustained this loss do to recover all again, since this man, or the man put under this question, must needs be a man that is gone from hence, a man that is cast in the judgment, and one that is gone down the throat of hell?
But to pass this, and to proceed.
POWERS AND PROPERTIES OF THE SOUL I come next to describe the soul unto you by such things as it is set out by in the Holy Scriptures, and they are, in general, three — First , The powers of the soul. Second , The senses, the spiritual senses of the soul. Third , The passions of the soul. First , We will discourse of the powers, I may call them the members of the soul; for, as the members of the body, being many, do all go to the making up of the body, so these do go to the completing of the soul. 1. There is the understanding, which may be termed the head; because in that is placed the eye of the soul; and this is that which, or by which the soul, discerning things that are presented to it, and that either by God or Satan; this is that by which a man conceiveth and apprehendeth things so deep and great that cannot, by mouth, or tongue, or pen, be expressed. 2. There is, also, belonging to the soul, the conscience, in which I may say, is placed the Seat of Judgment; for, as by the understanding things are let into the soul, so by the conscience the evil or good of such things are tried; especially when in the 3. Third place, there is the judgment, which is another part of this noble creature, has passed, by the light of the understanding, his verdict upon what is let into the soul. f4 4. There is, also, the fancy or imagination, another part of this great thing, the soul: and a most curious thing this fancy is; it is that which presenteth to the man the idea, form, or figure of that, or any of those things, wherewith a man is either frighted or taken, pleased or displeased. And, 5. The mind, another part of the soul, is that unto which this fancy presenteth its things to be considered of; because without the mind nothing is entertained in the soul. 6. There is the memory too, another part of the soul; and that may be called the register of the soul; for it is the memory that receiveth and keepeth in remembrance what has passed, or has been done by the man, or attempted to be done unto him; and in this part of the soul, or from it, will be fed ‘the worm that dieth not,’ when men are cast into hell; also, from this memory will flow that peace at the day of judgment that saints shall have in their service for Christ in the world. 7. There are the affections too, which are, as I may call them, the hands and arms of the soul; for they are they that take hold of, receive, and embrace what is liked by the soul, and it is a hard thing to make the soul of a man cast from it what its affections cleave to and have embraced. Hence the affections are called for, when the apostle bids men ‘ seek the things above; set your affections upon them,’ saith he (Colossians 3), or, as you have it in another place, ‘Lay hold’ of them; for the affections are as hands to the soul, and they by which it fasteneth upon things. 8. There is the will, which may be called the foot of the soul, because by that the soul, yea, the whole man, is carried hither and thither, or else held back and kept from moving. f5 These are the golden things of the soul, though, in carnal men, they are every one of them made use of in the service of sin and Satan. For the unbelieving are throughout impure, as is manifest, because their ‘mind and conscience (two of the masterpieces of the soul) is defiled’ ( Titus 1:15).
For if the most potent parts of the soul are engaged in their service, what, think you, do the more inferior do? But, I say, so it is the more is the pity; nor can any help it. ‘This work ceaseth for ever,’ unless the great God, who is over all, and that can save souls, shall himself take upon him to sanctify the soul, and to recover it, and persuade it to fall in love with another master.
But, I say, what is man without this soul, or wherein lieth this preeminence over a beast? ( Ecclesiastes 3:19-21). Nowhere that I know of; for both, as to man’s body, go to one place, only the spirit or soul of a man goes upward — to wit, to God that gave it, to be by Him disposed of with respect to things to come, as they have been, and have done in this life, But, Second , I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by its senses, its spiritual senses , for so I call them; for as the body hath senses pertaining to it, and as it can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste, so can the soul; I call, therefore, these the senses of the soul, in opposition to the senses of the body, and because the soul is the seat of all spiritual sense, where supernatural things are known and enjoyed; not that the soul of a natural man is spiritual in the apostle’s sense, for so none are, but those that are born from above ( 1 Corinthians 3:1-3) nor they so always neither. But to go forward. 1. Can the body see? hath it eyes? so hath the soul. ‘The eyes of your understanding being enlightened’ ( Ephesians 1:18). As, then, the body can see beasts, trees, men, and all visible things, so the soul can see God, Christ, angels, heaven, devils, hell, and other things that are invisible; nor is this property only peculiar to the souls that are illuminate by the Holy Ghost, for the most carnal soul in the world shall have a time to see these things, but not to its comfort, but not to its joy , but to its endless woe and misery, it dying in that condition. Wherefore, sinner, say not thou, ‘I shall not see Him; for judgment is before Him,’ and He will make thee see Him ( Job 35:14). 2. Can the body hear? hath it ears? so hath the soul ( Job 4:12,13). It is the soul, not the body, that hears the language of things invisible. It is the soul that hears God when He speaks in and by His Word and Spirit; and it is the soul that hears the devil when he speaks by his illusions and temptations. True, there is such an union between the soul and the body, that ofttimes, if not always, that which is heard by the ears of the body doth influence the soul, and that which is heard by the soul doth also influence the body; but yet as to the organ of hearing, the body hath one of its own, distinct from that of the soul, and the soul can hear and regard even then, when the body doth not nor cannot; as in time of sleep, deep sleep and trances, when the body lieth by as a thing that is useless. ‘For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man , (as to his body) perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,’ etc. ( Job 33:14-16).
This must be meant of the ears of the soul, not of the body; for that at this time is said to be in deep sleep; moreover this hearing, it is a hearing of dreams, and the visions of the night. Jeremiah also tells us that he had the rare and blessed visions of God in his sleep ( Jeremiah 21:26). And so doth Daniel too, by the which they were greatly comforted and refreshed; but that could not be, was not the soul also capable of hearing. ‘I heard the voice of His words,’ said Daniel, ‘and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground’ ( Daniel 10:8,9). 3. As the soul can see and hear, so it can taste and relish, even as really as doth the palate belonging to the body. But then the things so tasted must be that which is suited to the temper and palate of the soul. The soul’s taste lieth not in, nor is exercised about meats, the meats that are for the belly. Yet the soul of a saint can taste and relish God’s Word ( Hebrews 6:5), and doth ofttimes find it sweeter than honey ( Psalm 19:10) nourishing as milk ( 1 Peter 2:2), and strengthening like to strong meat ( Hebrews 5:12-14). The soul also of sinners, and of those that are unsanctified, can taste and relish, though not the things now mentioned, yet things that agree with their fleshly minds, and with their polluted, and defiled, and vile affections. They can relish and taste that which delighteth them; yea, they can find soul-delight in an alehouse, a whorehouse, a playhouse. Ay, they find pleasure in the vilest things, in the things most offensive to God, and that are most destructive to themselves. This is evident to sense, and is proved by the daily practice of sinners. Nor is the Word barren as to this: They ‘feed on ashes’ ( Isaiah 44:20). They ‘spend their money for that which is not bread’ ( Isaiah 55:2). Yea, they eat and suck sweetness out of sin. ‘They eat up the sin of My people’ as they eat bread ( Hosea 4:8). 4. As the soul can see, hear, and taste, so it can smell, and brings refreshment to itself that way. Hence the church saith, ‘My fingers dropped with sweet-smelling myrrh;’ and again, she saith of her beloved, that ‘his lips dropped sweet-smelling-myrrh’ ( Song of Solomon 5:5, 13).
But how came the church to understand this, but because her soul did smell that in it that was to be smelled in it, even in his word and gracious visits? The poor world, indeed, cannot smell, or savor anything of the good and fragrant scent and sweet that is in Christ; but to them that believe, ‘Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee’ ( Song of Solomon 1:3). 5. As the soul can see, taste, hear, and smell, so it hath the sense of feeling, as quick and as sensible as the body. He knows nothing that knows not this; he whose soul is ‘past feeling,’ has his ‘conscience seared with a hot iron’ ( Ephesians 4:18,19; 1 Timothy 4:2). Nothing so sensible as the soul, nor feeleth so quickly the love and mercy, or the anger and wrath of God. Ask the awakened man, or the man that is under the convictions of the law, if he doth not feel? and he will quickly tell you that he faints and dies away by reason of God’s hand, and His wrath that lieth upon him.
Read the first eight verses of the 38th Psalm; if thou knowest nothing of what I have told thee by experience; and there thou shalt hear the complaints of one whose soul lay at present under the burden of guilt, and that cried out that without help from heaven he could by no means bear the same. They also that know what the peace of God means, and what an eternal weight there is in glory know well that the soul has the sense of feeling, as well as the senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. But thus much for the senses of the soul. Third , I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by the passions of the soul. The passions of the soul, I reckon, are these, and such like — to wit, love, hatred, joy, fear, grief, anger, etc. And these passions of the soul are not therefore good, nor therefore evil, because they are the passions of the soul, but are made so by two things — to wit, principle and object. The principle I count that from whence they flow, and the object that upon which they are pitched. To explain myself. 1. For that of love. This is a strong passion; the Holy Ghost saith ‘it is strong as death, and cruel as the grave’ ( Song of Solomon 8:6, 7). And it is then good, when it flows from faith, and pitcheth itself upon God in Christ as the object, and when it extendeth itself to all that is good, whether it be the good Word, the good work of grace, or the good men that have it, and also to their good lives. But all soul-love floweth not from this principle, neither hath these for its object. How many are there that make the object of their love the most vile of men, the most base of things, because it flows from vile affections, and from the lusts of the flesh? God and Christ, good laws and good men, and their holy lives, they cannot abide, because their love wanteth a principle that should sanctify it in its first motion, and that should steer it to a goodly object. But that is the first. 2. There is hatred, which I count another passion of the soul; and this, as the other, is good or evil, as the principle from whence it flows and the object of it are. ‘Ye that love the Lord, hate evil’ ( Psalm 97:10). Then, therefore, is this passion good, when it singleth out from the many thousand of things that are in the world that one filthy thing called sin ; and when it setteth itself, the soul, and the whole man, against it, and engageth all the powers of the soul to seek and invent its ruin. But, alas, where shall this hatred be found? What man is there whose soul is filled with this passion, thus sanctified by the love of God, and that makes sin, which is God’s enemy, the only object of its indignation? How many be there, I say, whose hatred is turned another way, because of the malignity of their minds.
They hate knowledge ( Proverbs 1:22). They hate God ( Deuteronomy 7:10; Job 21:14). They hate the righteous ( 2 Chronicles 29:2; Psalm 34:21; Proverbs 29:10). They hate God’s ways ( Malachi 3:14; Proverbs 8:12). And all is, because the grace of filial fear is not the root and principle from whence their hatred flows. ‘ For the fear of the Lord is to hate evil:’ wherefore, where this grace is wanting for a root in the soul, there it must of necessity swerve in the letting out of this passion; because the soul, where grace in wanting, is not at liberty to act simply, but is biased by the power of sin; that, while grace is absent, is present in the soul. And hence it is that this passion, which, when acted well, is a virtue, is so abused, and made to exercise its force against that for which God never ordained it, nor gave it license to act. 3. Another passion of the soul is joy; and when the soul rejoiceth virtuously, it rejoiceth not in iniquity, ‘but rejoiceth in the truth’ ( Corinthians 13:6). This joy is a very strong passion, and will carry a man through a world of difficulties; it is a passion that beareth up, that supporteth and strengtheneth a man, let the object of his joy be what it will. It is this that maketh the soul fat in goodness, if it have its object accordingly; and that which makes the soul bold in wickedness, if it indeed doth rejoice in iniquity. 4. Another passion of the soul is fear, natural fear; for so you must understand me of all the passions of the soul, as they are considered simply and in their own nature. And, as it is with the other passions, so it is with this; it is made good or evil in its acts, as its principle and objects are; when this passion of the soul is good, then it springs from sense of the greatness, and goodness and majesty of God; also God himself is the object of this fear’ — I will forewarn you,’ says Christ, ‘whom ye shall fear. Fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him’ ( Matthew 5:28; Luke 7:5).
But in all men this passion is not regulated and governed by these principles and objects, but is abused and turned, through the policy of Satan, quite into another channel. It is made to fear men ( Numbers 14:9), to fear idols ( 2 Kings 17:7,38), to fear devils and witches, yea, it is made to fear all the foolish, ridiculous, and apish fables that every old woman or atheistical fortune teller has the face to drop before the soul. But fear is another passion of the soul. 5. Another passion of the soul is grief, and it, as those afore-named, acteth even according as it is governed. When holiness is lovely and beautiful to the soul, and when the name of Christ is more precious than life, then will the soul sit down and be afflicted, because men keep not God’s law. ‘I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not Thy word’ (<19B9158>Psalm 119:158).
So Christ; He looked round about with anger, ‘being grieved for the hardness of their hearts’ ( Mark 3:5). But it is rarely seen that this passion of the soul is thus exercised. Almost everybody has other things for the spending of the heat of this passion upon. Men are grieved that they thrive no more in the world; grieved that they have no more carnal, sensual, and worldly honor; grieved that they are suffered no more to range in the lusts and vanities of this life; but all this is because the soul is unaquainted with God, sees no beauty in holiness, but is sensual, and wrapt up in clouds and thick darkness. 6. And lastly, There is anger, which is another passion of the soul; and that, as the rest, is extended by the soul, according to the nature of the principle by which it is acted, and from whence it flows. And, in a word, to speak nothing of the fierceness and power of this passion, it is then cursed when it breaketh out beyond the bounds that God hath set it, the which to be sure it doth, when it shall by its fierceness or irregular motion, run the soul into sin. ‘Be ye angry, and sin not’ ( Ephesians 4:26), is the limitation wherewith God hath bounded this passion; and whatever is more than this, is a giving place to the devil. And one reason, among others, why the Lord doth so strictly set this bound, and these limits to anger, is, for that it is so furious a passion, and for that it will so quickly swell up the soul with sin, as they say a toad swells with its poison. Yea, it will in a moment so transport the spirit of a man, that he shall quickly forget himself, his God, his friend, and all good rule. But my business is not now to make a comment upon the passions of the soul, only to show you that there are such, and also which they are.
And now, from this description of the soul, what follows but to put you in mind what a noble, powerful, lively, sensible thing the soul is, that by the text is supposed may be lost, through the heedlessness, or carelessness, or slavish fear of him whose soul it is; and also to stir you up to that care of, and labor after, the salvation of your soul, as becomes the weight of the matter. If the soul were a trivial thing, or if a man, though he lost it, might yet himself be happy, it were another matter; but the loss of the soul is no small loss, nor can that man that has lost his soul, had he all the world, yea, the whole kingdom of heaven, in his own power be but in a most fearful and miserable condition. But of these things more in their place.
THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL.
Second , Having thus given you a description of the soul, what it is, I shall, in the next place, show you the greatness of it.
OF THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL, WHEN COMPARED WITH THE BODY First , And the first thing that I shall take occasion to make this manifest by, will be by showing you the disproportion that is betwixt that and the body; and I shall do it in these following particulars: — 1. The body is called the house of the soul, a house for the soul to dwell in.
Now everybody knows that the house is much inferior to him that, by God’s ordinance, is appointed to dwell therein; that it is called the house of the soul, you find in Paul to the Corinthians: ‘For we know,’ saith he, ‘that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:1).
We have then, a house for our soul in this world, and this house is the body, for the apostle can mean nothing else; therefore he calls it an earthly house. ‘If our earthly house’ — our house. But who doth he personate if he says, This is a house for the soul; for the body is part of him that says, Our house?
In this manner of language, he personates his soul with the souls of the rest that are saved; and thus to do, is common with the apostles, as all be easily discerned by them that give attendance to reading. Our earthly houses; or, as Job saith, ‘houses of clay,’ for our bodies are bodies of clay: ‘Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay’ ( Job 4:19; Job 13:12).
Indeed, he after maketh mention of a house in heaven, but that is not it about which he now speaks; now he speaks of this earthly house which we have (we, our souls) to dwell in, while on this side glory, where the other house stands, as ready prepared for us when we shall flit from this to that; or in case this should sooner or later be dissolved. But that is the first; the body is compared to the house, but the soul to him that inhabiteth the house; therefore, as the man is more noble than the house he dwells in, so is the soul more noble than the body. And yet, alas! with grief be it spoken, how common is it for men to spend all their care, all their time, all their strength, all their wit and parts for the body and its honor and preferment, even as if the soul were some poor, pitiful, sorry, inconsiderable, and under thing, not worth the thinking of, or not worth the caring for. But, 2. The body is called the clothing and the soul that which is clothed therewith. Now, everybody knows that ‘the body is more than raiment,’ even carnal sense will teach us this. But read that pregnant place: ‘For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (that is, with mortal flesh); not for that we should be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:4).
Thus the greatness of the soul appears in the preference that it hath to the body — the body is its raiment. We see that, above all creatures, man, because he is the most noble among all visible ones, has, for the adorning of his body, that more abundant comeliness. ‘Tis the body of man, not of beast, that is clothed with the richest ornaments. But now what a thing is the soul, that the body itself must be its clothing! No suit of apparel is by God thought good enough for the soul, but that which is made by God himself, and that is that curious thing, the body. But oh! how little is this considered — namely, the greatness of the soul. ‘Tis the body, the clothes, the suit of apparel, that our foolish fancies are taken with, not at all considering the richness and excellency of that great and more noble part, the soul, for which the body is made a mantle to wrap it up in, a garment to clothe it withal. If a man gets a rent in his clothes, it is little in comparison of a rent in his flesh; yea, he comforts himself when he looks on that rent, saying, Thanks be to God, it is not a rent in my flesh. But ah! on the contrary, how many are there in the world that are more troubled for that they have a rent, a wound, or a disease in the body, than for that they have for the souls that will be lost and cast away. A little rent in the body dejecteth and casteth such down, but they are not at all concerned, though their soul is now, and will yet further be, torn in pieces, ‘Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver’ ( Psalm 50:22).
But this is the second thing whereby, or by which, the greatness of the soul appears — to wit, in that the body, that excellent piece of God’s workmanship, is but a garment, or clothing for the soul. 3. The body is called a vessel, or a case, for the soul to be put and kept in. ‘That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor’ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:4).
The apostle here doth exhort the people to abstain from fornication, which, in another place, he saith, ‘...is a sin against the body’ ( Corinthians 6:18). And here again he saith, ‘This is the will of God, that ye should abstain from fornication:’ that the body be not defiled, ‘that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor.’ His vessel, his earthen vessel, as he calls it in another place — for ‘we have this treasure in earthen vessels.’ Thus, then, the body is called a vessel; yea, every man’s body is his vessel. But what has God prepared this vessel for, and what has He put into it? Why, many things this body is to be a vessel for, but at present God has put into it that curious thing, the soul. Cabinets, that are very rich and costly things of themselves, are not made nor designed to be vessels to be stuffed or filled with trumpery, and things of no value; no, these are prepared for rings and jewels, for pearls, for rubies, and things that are choice. And if so, what shall we then think of the soul for which is prepared, and that of God, the most rich and excellent vessel in the world? Surely it must be a thing of worth, yea, of more worth than is the whole world besides. But alas! who believes this talk? Do not even the most of men so set their minds upon, and so admire, the glory of this case or vessel, that they forget once with seriousness to think, and, therefore, must of necessity be a great way off, of those suitable esteems that becomes them to have of their souls. But oh, since this vessel, this cabinet, this body, is so curiously made, and that to receive and contain, what thing is that for which God has made this vessel, and what is that soul that He hath put into it? Wherefore thus, in the third place, is the greatness of the soul made manifest, even by the excellency of the vessel, the body, that God has made to put it in. 4. The body is called a tabernacle for the soul. ‘Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle’ ( 2 Peter 2:14), that is, my body, ‘by death’ ( John 21:18,19). ‘For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,’ etc. ( 2 Corinthians 5:1).
In both these places, by ‘tabernacle,’ can be meant nothing but the body; wherefore both the apostles, in these sentences do personate their souls, and speak as if the soul was THE ALL of a man; yea, they plainly tell us, that the body is but the house, clothes, vessel, and tabernacle for the soul.
But what a famous thing therefore is the soul!
The tabernacle of old was a place erected for worship, but the worshippers were more excellent than the place; so our body is a tabernacle for the soul to worship God in, but must needs be accounted much inferior to the soul, forasmuch as the worshippers are always of more honor than the place they worship in; as he that dwelleth in the tabernacle hath more honor than the tabernacle. ‘I serve,’ says Paul, God and Christ Jesus ‘with my spirit (or soul) in the gospel’ ( Romans 1:9), but not with his spirit out of, but in, this tabernacle. The tabernacle had instruments of worship for the worshippers; so has the body for the soul, and we are bid to ‘yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God’ ( Romans 6:13). The hands, feet, ears, eyes, and tongue, which last is our glory when used right, are all of them instruments of this tabernacle, and to be made use of by the soul, the inhabiter of this tabernacle, for the soul’s performance of the service of God. I thus discourse, to show you the greatness of the soul.
And, in mine opinion, there is something, if not very much, in what I say.
For all men admire the body, both for its manner of building, and the curious way of its being compacted together. Yes, the further men, wise men, do pry into the wonderful work of God that is put forth in framing the body, the more still they are made to admire; and yet, as I said, this body is but a house, a mantle, a vessel, a tabernacle for the soul. What, then, is the soul itself? But thus much for the first particular.
OTHER THINGS THAT SHOW THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL Second, We will now come to other things that show us the greatness of the soul. And, 1. It is called God’s breath of life. ‘And the Lord God formed man,’ that is, the body, ‘of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul’ ( Genesis 2:7). Do but compare these two together, the body and the soul; the body is made of dust, the soul is the breath of God. Now, if God hath made this body so famous, as indeed He has, and yet it is made but of the dust of the ground, and we all do know what inferior matter it is, what is the soul, since the body is not only its house and garment, but since itself is made of the breath of God? But, further, it is not only said that the soul is of the breath of the Lord, but that the Lord breathed into him the breath of life — to wit, a living spirit, for so the next words infer — and ‘man became a living soul.’ Man, that is, the more excellent part of him, which, for that which is principal, is called man, that bearing the denomination of the whole; or man, the spirit and natural power, by which, as a reasonable creature, the whole of him is acted, ‘became a living soul.’ But I stand not here upon definition, but upon demonstration. The body, that noble part of man, had its original from the dust; for so says the Word, ‘Dust thou art (as to thy body), and unto dust shalt thou return’ ( Genesis 3:19). But as to thy more noble part, thou art from the breath of God, God putting forth in that a mighty work of creating power, and man ‘was made a living soul’ ( Corinthians 15:45). Mark my reason. There is as great a disparity betwixt the body and the soul, as is between the dust of the ground and that, here called, the breath of life of the Lord. And note further, that, as the dust of the ground did not lose, but gained glory by being formed into the body of a man, so this breath of the Lord lost nothing neither by being made a living soul. O man! dost thou know what thou art? 2. As the soul is said to be of the breath of God, so it is said to be made after God’s own image, even after the similitude of God. ‘And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. — So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him’ ( Genesis 1:26,27).
Mark, in His own image, in the image of God created He him; or, as James hath it, it is ‘made after the similitude of God,’ ( James 3:9); like Him, have in it that which beareth semblance with Him. I do not read of anything in heaven, or earth, or under the earth, that is said to be made after this manner, or that is at all so termed, save only the Son of God Himself. The angels are noble creatures, and for present employ are made a little higher than man himself, ( Hebrews 2); but that any of them are said to be made ‘after God’s image,’ after His own image, even after the similitude of God, that I find not. This character the Holy Ghost, in the Scriptures of truth, giveth only of man, of the soul of man; for it must not : be thought that the body is here intended in whole or in part. For though it be said that Christ was made after the similitude of sinful flesh (Philemon 2), yet it is not said that sinful flesh is made after the similitude of God; but I will not dispute; I only bring these things to show how great a thing, how noble a thing the soul is; in that, at its creation, God thought it worthy to be made, not like the earth, or the heavens, or the angels, seraphims, or archangels, but like Himself, His own self, saying, ‘Let Us make man in Our own likeness. So He made man in His own image.’ This, I say, is a character above all angels; for, as the apostle said, ‘To which of the angels said He at anytime, ‘Thou art my Son?’ So, of which of them hath He at any time said, This is, or shall be, made in or after Mine image, Mine own image? O what a thing is the soul of man, that above all the creatures in heaven or earth, being made in the image and similitude of God. f10 3. Another thing by which the greatness of the soul is made manifest is this, it is that — and that only, and to say this is more than to say, it is that above all the creatures — that the great God desires communion with.
He ‘hath set apart him that is godly for himself,’ ( Psalm 4:3); that is, for communion with his soul; therefore the spouse saith concerning him, ‘His desire is toward me,’ ( Song of Solomon 7:10); and, therefore, he saith again, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them ’ ( 2 Corinthians 6:16). To ‘dwell in,’ and ‘walk in,’ are terms that intimate communion and fellowship; as John saith, Our fellowship, truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ’ ( 1 John 1:3).
That is, our soul-fellowship; for it must not be understood of the body, though I believe that the body is much influenced when the soul has communion with God; but it is the soul, and that only, that at present is capable of having and maintaining of this blessed communion. But, I say, what a thing is this, that God, the great God, should choose to have fellowship and communion with the soul above all. We read, indeed, of the greatness of the angels, and how near also they are unto God; but yet there are not such terms that bespeak such familiar acts between God and angels, as to demonstrate that they have such communion with God as has, or as the souls of His people may have. Where has He called them His love, His dove, His fair one? and where, when He speaketh of them, doth He express a communion that they have with Him by the similitude of conjugal love? I speak of what is revealed; the secret things belong to the Lord our God. Now by all this is manifest the greatness of the soul. Men of greatness and honor, if they have respect to their own glory, will not choose for their familiars the base and rascally crew of this world; but will single out for their fellows, fellowship, and communion, those that are most like themselves. True, the King has not an equal, yet He is for being familiar only with the nobles of the land: so God, with Him none can compare; yet since the soul is by Him singled out for His walking mate and companion, it is a sign it is the highest born, and that upon which the blessed Majesty looks, as upon that which is most meet to be singled out for communion with Himself.
Should we see a man familiar with the King, we would, even of ourselves, conclude he is one of the nobles of the land ; but this is not the lot of every soul — some have fellowship with devils, yet not because they have a more base original than those that lie in God’s bosom, but they, through sin, are degenerate, and have chosen to be great with His enemy — but all these things show the greatness of the soul. 4. The soul of men are such as God counts worthy to be the vessels to hold His grace, the graces of the Spirit, in. The graces of the Spirit — what like them, or where here are they to be found, save in the souls of men only? ‘Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace’ ( John 1:16).
Received, into what? into ‘ the hidden part ,’ as David calls it ( Psalm 51:6). Hence the king’s daughter is said to be ‘all glorious within,’ ( Psalm 45:15); because adorned and beautified with the graces of the Spirit. For that which David calls the hidden part is the inmost part of the soul; and it is, therefore, called the hidden part, because the soul is invisible, nor can any one living infallibly know what is in the soul but God Himself. But, I say, the soul is the vessel into which this golden oil is poured, and that which holds, and is accounted worthy to exercise and improve the same. Therefore the soul is it which is said to love God — ‘Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?’ ( Song of Solomon 3:3); and, therefore, the soul is that which exerciseth the spirit of prayer — ’With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early’ ( Isaiah 26:9). With the soul also men are said to believe and into the soul God is said to put His fear. This is the vessel into which the virgins got oil, and out of which their lamps were supplied by the same. But what a thing, what a great thing therefore is the soul, that that above all things that God hath created should be the chosen vessel to put His grace in. The body is the vessel for the soul, and the soul is the vessel for the grace of God. But, 5. The greatness of the soul is manifest by the greatness of the price that Christ paid for it, to make it an heir of glory; and that was His precious blood ( 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18,19). We do use to esteem of things according to the price that is given for them, especially when we are convinced that the purchase has not been made by the estimation of a fool.
Now the soul is purchased by a price that the Son, the wisdom of God, thought fit to pay for the redemption thereof — what a thing, then, is the soul? Judge of the soul by the price that is paid for it, and you must needs confess, unless you count the blood that hath bought it an unholy thing, that it cannot but be of great worth and value. Suppose a prince, or some great man, should, on a sudden, descend from his throne, or chair of state, to take up, that he might put in his bosom, something that he had espied lying trampled under the feet of those that stand by; would you think that he would do this for an old horse shoe, or for so trivial a thing as a pin or a point? Nay, would you not even of yourselves conclude that that thing for which the prince, so great a man, should make such a stoop, must needs be a thing of very great worth? Why, this is the case of Christ and the soul. Christ is the prince, His throne was in heaven, and, as He sat there, He espied the souls of sinners trampled under the foot of the law and death for sin. Now, what doth He, but comes down from His throne, stoops down to the earth, and there, since He could not have the troddendown souls without price, He lays down His life and blood for them ( Corinthians 8:9). But would He have done this for inconsiderable things?
No, nor for the souls of sinners neither, had He not valued them higher than he valued heaven and earth besides. This, therefore, is another thing by which the greatness of the soul is known. 6. The soul is immortal, it will have a sensible being for ever, none can kill the soul ( Luke 12:4; Matthew 10:28). If all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, should lay all their strength together, they cannot kill or annihilate one soul. No, I will speak without fear, if it may be said, God cannot do what He will not do; then He cannot annihilate the soul: but, notwithstanding all His wrath, and the vengeance that He will inflict on sinful souls, they yet shall abide with sensible beings, yet to endure, yet to bear punishment. If anything could kill the soul, it would be death; but death cannot do it, neither first nor second; the first cannot, for when Dives was slain, as to his body by death, his soul was found alive in hell — ’He lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment’ ( Luke 16:23). The second death cannot do it, because it is said their worm never dies, but is always torturing them with his gnawing ( Mark 9:44). But that could not be, if time, or lying in hell fire for ever, could annihilate the soul. Now, this also shows the greatness of the soul, that it is that which has an endless life, and that will, therefore, have a being endlessly. O what a thing is the soul!
The soul, then, is immortal, though not eternal. That is eternal that has neither beginning nor end, and, therefore, eternal is properly applicable to none but God; hence He is called the ‘eternal God’ ( Deuteronomy 33:27). Immortal is that which, though it hath a beginning, yet hath no end, it cannot die, nor cease to be; and this is the state of the soul. It cannot cease to have a being when it is once created; I mean, a living, sensible being. For I mean by living, only such a being as distinguishes it from annihilation or incapableness of sense and feeling. Hence, as the rich man is after death said to ‘lift up his eyes in hell,’ so the beggar is said, when he died, to be ‘carried by the angels, into Abraham’s bosom’ ( Luke 16:22,23). And both these sayings must have respect to the souls of these men; for, as for their bodies, we know at present it is otherwise with them. The grave is their house, and so must be till the trumpet shall sound, and the heavens pass away like a scroll. Now, I say, the immortality of the soul shows the greatness of it, as the eternity of God shows the greatness of God. It cannot be said of any angel but that he is immortal, and so it is, and ought to be said of the soul. This, therefore, shows the greatness of the soul, in that it is as to abiding so like unto him. 7. But a word or two more, and so to conclude this head. The soul! — why, it is the soul that acteth the body in all these things, good or bad, that seem good and reasonable, or amazingly wicked. True, the acts and motions of the soul are only seen and heard in, and by the members and motions of the body, but the body is but a poor instrument, soul is the great agitator and actor. ‘The body without the spirit is dead’ ( James 2:26). All those famous arts, and works, and inventions of works, that are done by men under heaven, they are all the intentions of the soul, and the body, as acting and laboring therein, doth it but as a tool that the soul maketh use of to bring his invention into maturity ( Ecclesiastes 7:29).
How many things have men found out to the amazing of one another, to the wonderment of one another, to the begetting of endless commendations of one another in the world, while, in the meantime, the soul, which indeed is the true inventor of all, is overlooked, not regarded, but dragged up and down by every lust, and prostrate, and made a slave to every silly and beastly thing. O the amazing darkness that hath covered the face of the hearts of the children of men, that they cannot deliver their soul, nor say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’ ( Isaiah 44:20), though they are so cunning in all other matters. Take man in matters that are abroad, and far from home, and he is the mirror of all the world; but take him at home, and put him upon things that are near him, I mean, that have respect to the things that concern his soul, and then you will find him the greatest fool that ever God made. But this must not be applied to the soul simply as it is God’s creature, but to the soul sinful, as it has willingly apostatized from God, and so suffered itself to be darkened, and that with such thick and stupifying darkness, that it is bound up and cannot — it hath a napkin of sin bound so close before its eyes that it is not able — of itself — to look to, and after those things which should be its chiefest concern, and without which it will be most miserable for ever. 8. Further, as the soul is thus curious about arts and sciences, and about every excellent thing of this life, so it is capable of having to do with invisibles, with angels, good or bad, yea, with the highest and Supreme Being, even with the holy God of heaven. I told you before that God sought the soul of man to have it for His companion; and now I tell you that the soul is capable of communion with Him, when the darkness that sin hath spread over its face is removed. The soul is an intelligent power, it can be made to know and understand depths, and heights, and lengths, and breadths, in those high, sublime, and spiritual mysteries that only God can reveal and teach; yea, it is capable of diving unutterably into them. And herein is God, the God of glory, much delighted and pleased — to wit, that He hath made Himself a creature that is capable of hearing, of knowing, and of understanding of His mind, when opened and revealed to it. I think I may say, without offence to God or man, that one reason why God made the world was, that He might manifest Himself, not only by, but to the works which He made; but, I speak with reverence, how could that be, if He did not also make some of His creatures capable of apprehending of Him in those most high mysteries and methods in which He purposed to reveal Himself? But then, what are those creatures which He hath made (unto whom when these things are shown) that are able to take them in and understand them, and so to improve them to God’s glory, as He hath ordained and purposed they should, but souls? for none else in the visible world are capable of doing this but they. And hence it is that to them, and them only, He beginneth to reveal Himself in this world. And hence it is that they, and they only, are gathered up to Him where He is, for they are they that are called ‘the spirits of just men made perfect,’ ( Hebrews 12:28); the spirit of a beast goeth downward to the earth, it is the spirit of a man that goes upwards to God that gave it ( Ecclesiastes 3:21; Ecclesiastes 12:7). For that, and that only, is capable of beholding and understanding the glorious visions of heaven; as Christ said, ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me; for thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world’ ( John 17:24). And thus the greatness of the soul is manifest. True, the body is also gathered up into glory, but not simply for its own sake, or because that is capable of itself to know and understand the glories of its Maker; but that has been a companion with the soul in this world, has also been its house, its mantle, its cabinet and tabernacle here; it has also been it by which the soul hath acted, in which it hath wrought, and by which its excellent appearances have been manifested; and it shall also there be its copartner and sharer in its glory. Wherefore, as the body here did partake of soul excellencies, and was also conformed to its spiritual and regenerate principles; so it shall be hereafter a partaker of that glory with which the soul shall be filled, and also be made suitable by that glory to become a partaker and co-partner with it of the eternal excellencies which heaven will put upon it. In this world it is a gracious soul (I speak now of the regenerate), and in that world it shall be a glorious one. In this world the body was conformable to the soul as it was gracious, and in that world it shall be conformable to it as it is glorious; conformable, I say, by partaking of that glory that then the soul shall partake of; yea, it shall also have an additional glory to adorn, and make it yet the more capable of being serviceable to it, and with it in its great acts before God in eternal glory. Oh, what great things are the souls of the sons of men! 9. But again, as the soul is thus capable of enjoying God in glory, and of prying into these mysteries that are in him, so it is capable, with great profundity, to dive into the mysterious depths of hell. Hell is a place and state utterly unknown to any in this visible world, excepting the souls of men; nor shall any for ever be capable of understanding the miseries thereof, save souls and fallen angels. Now, I think, as the joys of heaven stand not only in speculation, or in beholding of glory, but in a sensible enjoyment and unspeakable pleasure which those glories will yield to the soul ( Psalm 16:11), so the torments of hell will not stand in the present lashes and strokes which by the flames of eternal fire God will scourge the ungodly with; but the torments of hell stand much, if not in the greatest part of them, in those deep thoughts and apprehensions, which souls in the next world will have of the nature and occasions of sin; of God, and of separation from Him; of the eternity of those miseries, and of the utter impossibility of their help, ease, or deliverance for ever. O! damned souls will have thoughts that will clash with glory, clash with justice, clash with law, clash with itself, clash with hell, and with the everlastingness of misery; but the point, the edge, and the poison of all these thoughts will still be galling, and dropping, and spewing out their stings into the sore, grieved, wounded, and fretted place, which is the conscience, though not the conscience only; for I may say of the souls in hell, that they all over are but one wound, one sore! Miseries as well as mercies sharpen and make quick the apprehensions of the soul. Behold Spira in his book, f14 Cain in his guilt, and Saul with the witch of Endor, and you shall see men ripened, men enlarged and greatened in their fancies, imaginations, and apprehensions though not about God, and heaven, and glory, yet about their loss, their misery, and their woe, and their hells ( Isaiah 33:14; Psalm 1:3; Revelation 14:10; Mark 9:44,46). 10. Nor doth their ability to bear, if it be proper to say they bear those colors which there for ever they shall endure, a little demonstrate their greatness. Everlasting burning, devouring fire, perpetual pains, gnawing worms, utter darkness, and the ireful souls, face, and strokes of Divine and infinite justice will not, cannot, make this soul extinct, as I said before. I think it is not so proper to any the soul that is damned for sin doth bear these things, as to say it doth ever sink under them: and, therefore, their place of torment is called the bottomless pit, because they are ever sinking, and shall never come there where they will find any stay. Yet they live under wrath, but yet only so as to be sensible of it, as to smart and be in perpetual anguish, by reason of the intolerablenees of their burden. But doth not their thus living, abiding, and retaining a being(or what you will call it), demonstrate the greatness and might of the soul? Alas! heaven and earth are short of this greatness, for these, though under less judgment by far, do fade and wax old like a moth-eaten garment, and, in their time, will vanish away to nothing ( Hebrews 1).
Also, we see how quickly the body, when the soul is under a fear of the rebukes of justice, how soon, I say, it wastes, moulders away, and crumbleth into the grave; but the soul is yet strong, and abides sensible to be dealt withal for sin by everlasting burnings. 11. The soul, by God’s ordinance, while this world lasts, has a time appointed it to forsake and leave the body to be turned again to the dust as it was, and this separation is made by death, ( Hebrews 9:27); therefore the body must cease for a time to have sense, or life, or motion; and a little thing brings it now into this state; but in the next world, the wicked shall partake of none of this; for the body and the soul being at the resurrection rejoined, this death, that once did rend them asunder, is for ever overcome and extinct; so that these two which lived in sin must for ever be yoked together in hell. Now, there the soul being joined to the body, and death, which before did separate them, being utterly taken away, the soul retains not only its own being, but also continueth the body to be, and to suffer sensibly the pains of hell, without those decays that it used to sustain.
And the reason why this death shall then be taken away is, because justice in its bestowing its rewards for transgressions may not be interrupted, but that body and soul, as they lived and acted in sin together, might be destroyed for sin in hell together ( Matthew 10:28 Luke 12:5).
This death, therefore, though that also be the wages of sin, would now, were it suffered to continue, be a hinderance to the making known of the wrath of God, and also of the created power and might of the soul. (1.) It would hinder the making known of the wrath of God, for it would take the body out of the way, and make it incapable of sensible suffering for sin, and so removing one of the objects of vengeance the power of God’s wrath would be so far undiscovered. (2.) It would also hinder the manifestation of the power and might of the soul, which is discovered much by its abiding to retain its own being while the wrath of God is grappling with it, and more by its continuing to the body a sensible being with itself.
Death, therefore, must now be removed, that the soul may be made the object of wrath without molestation or interruption. That the soul, did I say? yea, that soul and body both might be so. Death would now be a favor, though once the fruit of sin, and also the wages thereof, might it now be suffered to continue, because it would ease the soul of some of its burden: for a tormented body cannot but be a burden to a spirit, and so the wise man insinuates when he says, ‘The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity;’ that is, bear up under it, but yet so as that it feels it a burden.
We see that, because of the sympathy that is between body and soul, how one is burdened if the other be grieved. A sick body is a burden to the soul, and a wounded spirit is a burden to the body; ‘a wounded spirit who can bear?’ ( Proverbs 18:14). But death must not remove this burden, but the soul must have the body for a burden, and the body must have the soul for a burden, and both must have the wrath of God for a burden. Oh, therefore, here will be burden upon burden, and all upon the soul, for the soul will be the chief seat of this burden! But thus much to show you the greatness of the soul.
OF THE LOSS OF THE SOUL Third , I shall now come to the third thing which was propounded to be spoken to; and that is, to show you what we are to understand by losing of the soul, or what the loss of the soul is — ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’
There is no such loss, as to the nature of loss, as is the loss of the soul; for that he that hath lost his soul has lost himself. In all other losses, it is possible for a man to save himself, but he that loseth his soul, loseth himself — ’For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?’ ( Luke 9:25). Wherefore, the loss of the soul is a loss that cannot be paralleled. He that loseth himself, loseth his all, his lasting all; for himself is his all — his all in the most comprehensive sense. What mattereth it what a man gets, if by the getting thereof he loseth himself?
Suppose a man goeth to the Indies for gold, and he loadeth his ship therewith; but at his return, that sea that carried him thither swallows him up — now, what has he got? But this is but a lean similitude with reference to the matter in hand — to wit, to set forth the loss of the soul.
Suppose a man that has been at the Indies for gold should, at his return, himself be taken by them of Algiers, and there made a slave of, and there be hunger-bit, and beaten till his bones are broken, what has he got? what is he advantaged by his rich adventure? Perhaps, you will say, he has got gold enough to obtain his ransom. Indeed this may be; and therefore no similitude can be found that can fully amplify the matter, ‘for what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ ‘Tis a loss that standeth by itself, there is not another like it, or unto which it may be compared. ‘Tis only like itself — ’tis singular, ‘tis the chief of all losses — the highest, the greatest loss. ‘For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ A man may lose his wife, his children, his estate, his liberty, and his life, and have all made up again, and have all restored with advantage, and may, therefore, notwithstanding all these losses, be far enough off from losing of himself. ( Luke 14:26; Mark 8:35). For he may lose his life, and save it; yea, sometimes the only way to save that, is to lose it; but when a man has lost himself, his soul, then all is gone to all intents and purposes. There is no word says, ‘he that loses his soul shall save it;’ but contrariwise, the text supposeth that a man has lost his soul, and then demands if any can answer it — ’What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ All, then, that he gains that loseth his soul is only this, he has gained a loss, he has purchased the loss of losses, he has nothing left him now but his loss, but the loss of himself, of his whole self. He that loseth his life for Christ, shall save it; but he that loseth himself for sin, and for the world, shall lose himself to perfection of loss; he has lost himself, and there is the full point.
There are several things fall under this first head, upon which I would touch a little. (1.) He that has lost his soul has lost himself. Now, he that lost himself is no more at his own dispose. While a man enjoys himself, he is at his own dispose. A single man, a free man, a rich man, a poor man, any man that enjoys himself, is at his own dispose. I speak after the manner of men. But he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose.
He is, as I may say, now out of his own hands: he has lost himself, his soul-self , his own self, his whole self, by sin, and wrath and hell hath found him; he is, therefore, now no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of justice, of wrath, and hell; he is committed to prison, to hell prison, there to abide, not at pleasure, not as long and as little time as he will, but the term appointed by his judge: nor may he there choose his own affliction, neither for manner, measure, or continuance. It is God that will spread the fire and brimstone under him, it is God that will pile up wrath upon him, and it is God himself that will blow the fire. And ‘the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it’ ( Isaiah 30:33). And thus it is manifest that he that has lost himself, his soul, is no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of them that find him. (2.) Again, as he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose, so neither is he at liberty to dispose of what he has; for the man that has lost himself has something yet of his own. The text implies that his soul is his when lost, yea, when that and his all, himself is lost; but as he cannot dispose of himself, so he cannot dispose of what he hath.
Let me take leave to make out my meaning. If he that is lost, that has lost himself, has not, notwithstanding, something that in some sense may be called his own, then he that is lost is nothing. The man that is in hell has yet the powers, the senses, and passions of his soul; for not he nor his soul must be thought to be stripped of these; for then he would be lower than the brute; but yet all these, since he is there, are by God improved against himself; or, if you will, the point of this man’s sword is turned against his own heart, and made to pierce his own liver.
The soul by being in hell loseth nothing of its aptness to think, its quickness to pierce, to pry, and to understand; nay, hell has ripened it in all these things; but, I say, the soul with its improvements as to these, or anything else, is not in the hand of him that hath lost himself to manage for his own advantage, but in the hand, and in the power, and to be disposed as is thought meet by him into whose revenging hand by sin he has delivered himself — to wit, in the hand of God. So, then, God now has the victory, and disposeth of all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul for the chastising of him that has lost himself. Now the understanding is only employed and improved in and about the apprehending of such things as will be like daggers at the heart — to wit, about justice, sin, hell, and eternity, to grieve and break the spirit of the damned; yea, to break, to wound, and to tear the soul in pieces. The depths of sin which the man has loved, the good nature of God whom the man has hated, the blessings of eternity which the soul has despised, shall now be understood by him more than ever, but yet so only, as to increase grief and sorrow, by improving of the good and of the evil of the things understood, to the greater wounding of the spirit; wherefore now, every touch that the understanding shall give to the memory will be as a touch of a red-hot iron, or like a draught of scalding lead poured down the throat. The memory also letteth those things down upon the conscience with no less terror and perplexity. And now the fancy or imagination doth start and stare like a man by fears bereft of wits, and doth exercise itself, or rather is exercised by the hand of revenging justice, so about the breadth and depth of present and future punishments, as to lay the soul as on a burning rack. Now also the judgment, as with a mighty maul, driveth down the soul in the sense and pangs of everlasting misery into that pit that has no bottom; yea, it turneth again, and, as with a hammer, it riveteth every fearful thought and apprehension of the soul so fast that it can never be loosed again for ever and ever. Alas! now the conscience can sleep, be dull, be misled, or batter, no longer; no, it must now cry out; understanding will make it, memory will make it, fancy or imagination will make it. Now, I say, it will cry out of sin, of justice, and of the terribleness of the punishment that hath swallowed him up that has lost himself. Here will be no forgetfulness; yet nothing shall be thought on but that which will wound and kill; here will be no time, cause, or means for diversion; all will stick and gnaw like a viper.
Now the memory will go out to where sin was heretofore committed, it will also go out to the word that did forbid it. The understanding also, and the judgment too, will now consider of the pretended necessity that the man had to break the commandments of God, and of the seasonableness of the cautions and of the convictions which were given him to forbear, by all which more load will be laid upon him that has lost himself; for here all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul must be made self-burners, selftormentors, self-executioners, by the just judgment of God; also all that the will shall do in this place shall be but to wish for ease, but the wish shall only be such as shall only seem to lift up, for the cable rope of despair shall with violence pull him down again. The will indeed will wish for ease, and so will the mind, etc., but all these wishers will by wishing arrive to no more advantage but to make despair which is the most twinging stripe of hell, to cut yet deepeer into the whole soul of him that has lost himself; wherefore, after all that can be wished for, they return again to their burning chair, where they sit and bewail their misery. Thus will all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul of him that has lost himself be out of his own power to dispose for his advantage, and will be only in the hand and under the management of the revenging justice of God. And herein will that state of the damned be worse than it is now with the fallen angels; for though the fallen angels are now cast down to hell, in chains, and sure in themselves at last to partake of eternal judgment, yet at present they are not so bound up as the damned sinner shall be; for notwithstanding their chains, and their being the prisoners of the horrible hells, yet they have a kind of liberty granted them, and that liberty will last till the time appointed, to tempt, to plot, to contrive, and invent their mischiefs, against the Son of God and His ( Job 1:7; Job 2:2). And though Satan knows that this at last will work for his future condemnation, yet at present he finds it some diversion to his trembling mind, and obtains, through his so busily employing of himself against the gospel and its professors, something to sport and refresh himself withal ; yea, and doth procure to himself some small crumbs of minute, of forgetfulness of his own present misery and of the judgment that is yet to pass upon him; but this privilege will then be denied to him that has lost himself; there will be no cause nor matter for diversion; there it will; as in the old world, rain day and night fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven upon them ( Revelation 14:11). Misery is fixed; the worm will be always sucking at and gnawing of, their soul; also, as I have said afore, all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul will throw their darts inwards, yea, of God will be made to do it, to the utter, unspeakable, and endless torment of him that has lost himself. Again, (3.) All therefore that he that has lost himself can do is, to sit down by the loss. Do I say, he can do this? — oh! if that could be, it would be to such, a mercy; I must therefore here correct myself — That they cannot do; for to sit down by the loss implies a patient enduring; but there will be no such grace as patience in hell with him that has lost himself; here, will also want a bottom for patience — to wit, the providence of God; for a providence of God, though never so dismal, is a bottom for patience to the afflicted; but men go not to hell by providence, but by sin. Now sin being the cause, other effects are wrought; for they that go to hell, and that there miserably perish, shall never say it was God by His providence that brought them hither, and so shall not have that on which to lean and stay themselves.
They shall justify God, and lay the fault upon themselves concluding that it was sin with which their souls did voluntarily work — yea, which their souls did suck in as sweet milk — that is the cause of this their torment.
Now this will work after another manner, and will produce quite another thing than patience, or a patient enduring of their torment; for their seeing that they are not only lost, but have lost themselves, and that against the ordinary means that of God was provided to prevent that loss; yea, when they shall see what a base thing sin is, how that it is the very worst of things, and that which also makes all things bad, and that for the sake of that they have lost themselves, this will make them fret, and, gnash, and gnaw with anger themselves; this will set all the passions of the soul, save love, for that I think will be stark dead, all in a rage, all in a self-tormenting fire. You know there is nothing that will sooner put a man into and manage his rage against himself than will a full conviction in his conscience that by his own only folly, and that against caution, and counsel, and reason to the contrary, he hath brought himself into extreme distress and misery. But how much more will it make this fire burn when he shall see all this is come upon him for a toy, for a bauble, for a thing that is worse than nothing!
Why, this is the case with him that has lost himself; and therefore he cannot sit down by the loss, cannot be at quiet under the sense of his loss.
For sharply and wonderful piercingly, considering the loss of himself, and the cause thereof, which is sin, he falls to a tearing of himself in pieces with thoughts as hot as the coals of juniper, and to a gnashing upon himself for this; also the Divine wisdom and justice of God helpeth on this self-tormentor in his self-tormenting work, by holding the justice of the law against which he has offended, and the unreasonableness of such offence, continually before his face. For if, to an enlightened man who is in the door of hope, the sight of all past evil practices will work in him ‘vexation of spirit,’ to see what fools we were, ( Ecclesiastes 1:14); how can it but be to them that go to hell a vexation only to understand the report, the report that God did give them of sin, of His grace, of hell, and of everlasting damnation, and yet that they should be such fools to go thither? ( Isaiah 28:19). But to pursue this head no further, I will come now to the next thing.
THE LOSS OF THE SOUL A DOUBLE LOSS. Secondly , As the loss of the soul is, in the nature of the loss, a loss peculiar to itself, so the loss of the soul is a double loss; it is, I say, a loss that is double, lost both by man and God; man has lost it, and by that loss has lost himself; God has lost it, and by that loss it is cast away. And to make this a little plainer unto you, I suppose it will be readily granted that men do lose their souls. But now how doth God lose it? The soul is God’s as well as man’s — man’s because it is of themselves; God’s because it is His creature; God has made us this soul, and hence it is that all souls are His ( Jeremiah 38:16; Ezekiel 18:4).
Now the loss of the soul doth not only stand in the sin of man, but in the justice of God. Hence He says, ‘What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away’ ( Luke 9:25).
Now this last clause, ‘or be cast away,’ is not spoken to show what he that has lost his soul has done, though a man may also be said to cast away himself; but to show what God will do to those that have lost themselves, what God will add to that loss. God will not cast away a righteous man, but God will cast away the wicked, such a wicked one as by the text is under our consideration ( Job 8:20; Matthew 13:50). This, then, is that which God will add, and so make the sad state of them that lose themselves double. The man for sin has lost himself, and God by justice will cast him away; according to that of Abigail to David, ‘The soul of my lord,’ said she, ‘shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the middle of a sling’ ( 1 Samuel 25:29). So that here is God’s hand as well as man’s; man’s by sin, and God’s by justice. God shall cast them away; wherefore in the text above mentioned he doth not say, or cast away himself, as meaning the act of the man whose soul is lost; but, ‘or be cast away’ ( Luke 9:25). Supposing a second person joining with the man himself is the making up of the greatness of the loss of the soul — to wit, God himself, who will verily cast away that man who has lost himself.
God shall cast them away — that is, exclude them His favor or protection, and deliver them up to the due reward of their deed! He shall shut them out of His heaven, and deliver them up to their hell; He shall deny them a share in his glory, and shall leave them to their own shame; He shall deny them a portion in His peace, and shall deliver them up to the torments of the devil, and of their own guilty consciences; He shall cast them out of His affection, pity, and compassion, and shall leave them to the flames that they by sin have kindled, and to the worm, or biting cockatrice, that they themselves have hatched, nursed, and nourished in their bosoms. And this will make their loss double, and so a loss that is loss to the uttermost, a loss above every loss. A man may cast away himself and not be cast away of God; a man may be cast away by others, and not be cast away of God; yea, what way soever a man be cast away, if he be not cast away for sin, he is safe, he is yet found, and in a sure hand. But for a man so to lose himself as by that loss to provoke God to cast him away too, this is fearful.
The casting away, then, mentioned in Luke, is a casting away by the hand of God, by the revenging hand of God; and it supposeth two things — 1. God’s abhorrence of such a soul. 2. God’s just repaying of it for its wickedness by way of retaliation. 1. It supposeth God’s abhorrence of the soul. That which we abhor, that we cast from us, and put out of our favor and respect with disdain, and a loathing thereof. So when God teacheth Israel to loathe and abhor their idols, He bids them ‘to cast away their very covering as a stinking and menstruous cloth, and to say unto it, ‘Get you hence’ ( Isaiah 30:22), ‘He shall gather the good into vessels, and cast the bad away’ ( Matthew 13:48; Matthew 25:41).
Cast them out of My presence. Well, but whither must they go? The answer is, Into hell, into utter darkness, into the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. Wherefore, to be cast away, to be cast away of God, it showeth unto us God’s abhorrence of such souls, and how vile and loathsome such are in His divine eyes. And the similitude of Abigail’s sling, mentioned before, doth yet further show us the greatness of this abhorrence — ‘The souls of thine enemies,’ said she, ‘God shall sling out as out of the middle of a sling.’ When a man casts a stone away with a sling, then he casteth it furthest from him, for with a sling he can cast a stone further than by his hand. ‘And he,’ saith the text, ‘shall cast them away as with a sling.’ But that is not all, neither: for it is not only said that He shall sling away their souls, but that He shall sling them away as ‘out of the middle of a sling.’ When a stone is placed, to be cast away, in the middle of a sling, then doth the slinger cast it furthest of all. Now God is the slinger, abhorrence is His sling, the lost soul is the stone, and it is placed in the very middle of the sling, and is from thence cast away. And, therefore, it is said again, that ‘such shall go into utter, outer darkness’ — that is, furthest off of all. This therefore shows us how God abhors that man that for sin has lost himself. And well he may; for such an one has not only polluted and defiled himself with sin; and that is the most offensive thing to God under heaven; but he has abused the handiwork of God. The soul, as I said before, is the workmanship of God, yea, the top-piece that He hath made in all the visible world; also He made it for to be delighted with it, and to admit it into communion with Himself. Now for man thus to abuse God; for a man to take his soul, which is God’s, and prostrate it to sin, to the world, to the devil, and every beastly lust, flat against the command of God, and notwithstanding the soul was also His; this is horrible, and calls aloud upon that God whose soul this is to abhor, and to show, by all means possible, His abhorrence of such an one. 2. As this casting of them away supposeth God’s abhorrence of them, so it supposeth God’s just repaying of them for their wickedness by way of retaliation.
God all the time of the exercise of His long-suffering and forbearance towards them, did call upon them, wait upon them, send after them by His messengers, to turn them from their evil ways; but they despised at, they mocked, the messengers of the Lord. Also they shut their eyes, and would not see; they stopped their ears, and would not understand; and did harden themselves against the beseeching of their God. Yea, all that day long He did stretch out His hand towards them, but they chose to be a rebellious and gainsaying people; yea, they said unto God, ‘Depart from us;’ and ‘what is the Almighty’ that we should pray unto him? ( Hosea 6:2; Revelation 16:21; Job 21:14,15; Malachi 3:14).
And of all these things God takes notice, writes them down, and seals them up for the time to come, and will bring them out and spread them before them, saying, I have called, and you have refused; I have stretched out Mine hand, and no man regarded; I have exercised patience, and gentleness, and long-suffering towards you, and in all that time you despised Me, and cast Me behind your back; and now the time, and the exercise of My patience, when I waited upon you, and suffered your manners, and did bear your contempts and scorns, is at an end; wherefore I will now arise, and come forth to the judgment that I have appointed. But, Lord, saith the sinner, we turn now.
But, saith God, I also beseeched, and I was not heard.
And what then? Why, then, by way of retaliation, God will serve them as they have served Him; and so the wind-up of the whole will be this — they shall have like for like. Time was when they would have none of Him, and now will God have none of them. Time was when they cast God behind their back, and now He will cast away their soul. Time was when they would not heed His calls, and now He will not heed their cries. Time was when they abhorred Him, and now His soul also abhorreth them ( Zechariah 11:8). This is now by way of retaliation — like for like, scorn for scorn, repulse for repulse, contempt for contempt; according to that which is written, ‘Therefore it is come to pass, that as He cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord’ ( Zechariah 7:13).
But oh! who thinks of this? who, I say, that now makes light of God, of His Word, His servants, and ways, once dreams of such retaliation, though God to warn them hath even, in the day of His patience, threatened to do it in the day of His wrath, saying, ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me’ ( Proverbs 1:24-28).
I will do unto them as they have done unto Me; and what unrighteousness is in all this? But, THE LOSS OF THE SOUL MOST FEARFUL. Thirdly , As the loss of the soul is a loss peculiar to itself, and a loss double, so, in the third place, it is a loss most fearful, because it is a loss attended with the most heavy curse of God. This is manifest both in the giving of the rule of life, and also in, and at the time of execution for, the breach of that rule. It is manifest at the giving of the rule — ‘Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen’ ( Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10).
What this curse is, none do know so well as God that giveth it, and as the fallen angels, and the spirits of damned men that are now shut up in the prison of hell, and bear it. But certainly it is the chief and highest of all kind of curses. To be cursed in the basket and in the store, in the womb and in the barn, in my cattle and in my body, are but flea-bitings to this, though they are also insupportable in themselves; only in general it may be described thus. But to touch upon this curse, it lieth in deprivation of all good, and in a being swallowed up of all the most fearful miseries that a holy, and just, and eternal God can righteously inflict, or lay upon the soul of a sinful man. Now let Reason here come in and exercise itself in the most exquisite manner; yea, let him now count up all, and all manner of curses and torments that a reasonable and an immortal soul is, or can be made capable of, and able to suffer under, and when he has done, he shall come infinitely short of this great anathema, this master curse which God has reserved amongst His treasuries, and intends to bring out in that day of battle and war, which He purposeth to make upon damned souls in that day. And this God will do, partly as a retaliation, as the former, and partly by way of revenge. 1. By way of retaliation: ‘As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.’ Again, ‘As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones; let it be unto him as a garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually’ ( <19A917> Psalm 109:17-19). ‘Let this,’ saith Christ, ‘be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord.’ etc. 2. As this curse comes by way of retaliation, so it cometh by way of revenge. God will right the wrongs that sinners have done Him, will repay vengeance for the despite and reproach wherewith they have affronted Him, and will revenge the quarrel of His covenant. And the beginning of revenges are terrible, ( Deuteronomy 33:41,42); what, then, will the whole execution be, when He shall come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ?
And, therefore, this curse is executed in wrath, in jealousy, in anger, in fury; yea, the heavens and the earth shall be burned up with the fire of that jealousy in which the great God will come, when He cometh to curse the souls of sinners, and when He cometh to defy the ungodly, ( Thessalonians 1:7-9).
It is little thought of, but the manner of the coming of God to judge the world declares what the souls of impenitent sinners must look for then. It is common among men, when we see the form of a man’s countenance changed, when we see fire sparkle out of his eyes, when we read rage and fury in every cast of his face, even before he says aught, or doth aught either, to conclude that some fearful thing is now to be done ( Daniel 3:19,23). Why, it is said of Christ when He cometh to judgment, that the heavens and the earth fly away, as not being able to endure His looks, ( Revelation 20:11,12); that His angels are clad in flaming fire, and that the elements melt with fervent heat; and all this is, that the perdition of ungodly men might be completed, ‘from the presence of the Lord, in the heat of His anger, from the glory of His power’ ( 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9). Therefore, God will now be revenged, and so ease Himself of His enemies, when He shall cause curses like millstones to fall as thick as hail on ‘the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses’ ( Psalm 68:21). But, THE LOSS OF THE SOUL A LOSS EVERLASTING. Fourthly , As the loss of the soul is a loss peculiar to itself, a loss double, and a loss most fearful, so it is a loss everlasting. The soul that is lost is never to be found again, never to be recovered again, never to be redeemed again, its banishment from God is everlasting; the fire in which it burns, and by which it must be tormented, is a fire that is ever, everlasting fire, everlasting burnings; the adder, the snake, the stinging worm, dieth not, nor is the fire quenched; and this is a fearful thing. A man may endure to touch the fire with a short touch, and away; but to dwell with everlasting burnings, that is fearful. Oh, then, what is dwelling with them, and in them, for ever and ever! We use to say, light burdens far carried are heavy; what, then, will it be to bear that burden, that guilt, that the law and the justice and wrath of God will lay upon the lost soul for ever? Now tell the stars, now tell the drops of the sea, and now tell the blades of grass that are spread upon the face of all the earth, if thou canst: and yet sooner mayest thou do this than count the thousands of millions of thousands of years that a damned soul shall lie in hell. Suppose every star that is now in the firmament was to burn, by himself, one by one, a thousand years apiece, would it not be a long while before the last of them was burned out? and yet sooner might that be done than the damned soul be at the end of punishment.
There are three things couched under this last head that will fill up the punishment of a sinner. 1. The first is, that it is everlasting. 2. The second is, that, therefore, it will be impossible for the souls in hell ever to say, Now we are got half way through our sorrows. 3. The third is, and yet every moment they shall endure eternal punishment. 1. The first I have touched upon already, and, therefore, shall not enlarge; only I would ask the wanton or unthinking sinner, whether twenty, or thirty, or forty years of the deceitful pleasures of sin is so rich a prize, as that a man may well venture the ruin, that everlasting burnings will make upon his soul for the obtaining of them, and living a few moments in them.
Sinner, consider this before I go any further, or before thou readest one line more. If thou hast a soul, it concerns thee; if there be a hell, it concerns thee; and if there be a God that can and will punish the soul for sin everlastingly in hell, it concerns thee; because, 2. In the second place, it will be impossible for the damned soul ever to say, I am now got half way through my sorrows. That which has no end, has no middle. Sinner, make a round circle, or ring, upon the ground, of what bigness thou wilt; this done, go thy way upon that circle, or ring, until thou comest to the end thereof; but that, sayest thou, I can never do; because it has no end. I answer, but thou mayest as soon do that as wade half way through the lake of fire that is prepared for impenitent souls.
Sinner, what wilt thou take to make a mountain of sand that will reach as high as the sun is at noon? I know that thou wilt not be engaged in such a work; because it is impossible thou shouldst ever perform it. But I dare say the task is greater when the sinner has let out himself to sin for a servant; because the wages is everlasting burnings. I know thou mayest perform thy service; but the wages, the judgment, the punishment is so endless, that thou, when thou hast been in it more millions of years than can be numbered, art not, nor never yet shalt be, able to say, I am half way through it. And yet, 3. That soul shall partake every moment of that punishment that is eternal. ‘Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire’ (Jude 7). (1.) They shall endure eternal punishment in the nature of punishment.
There is no punishment here wherewith one man can chastise another that can deserve a greater title than that of transient, or temporary punishment; but the punishment there is eternal, even in every stripe that is given, and in every moment that it grappleth with the soul; even every twinge, every gripe, and every stroke that justice inflicteth, leaveth anguish that, of their condition according as will best stand with in the nature of punishment, is eternal behind it. It is eternal, because it is from God, and lasts for ever and ever. The justice that inflicts it has not a beginning, and it is this justice in the operations of it that is always dealing with the soul. (2.) All the workings of the soul under this punishment are such as cause it, in its sufferings, to endure that which is eternal. It can have no thought of the end of punishment, but it is presently recalled by the decreed gulf that bindeth them under perpetual punishment. The great fixed gulf, they know, will keep them in their present place, and not suffer them to go to heaven ( Luke 16:26). And now there is no other place but heaven or hell to be in; for then the earth, and the works that are therein, will be burned up. Read the text, ‘But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up’ ( 2 Peter 3:10).
If, then, there will be no third place, it standeth in their minds, as well as in God’s decree, that their punishments shall be eternal; so, then, sorrows, anguish, tribulation, grief, woe, and pain, will, in every moment of its abiding upon the soul, not only flow from thoughts of what has been, and what is, but also from what will be, and that for ever and ever. Thus every thought that is truly grounded in the cause and nature of their state will roll, toss, and tumble them up and down in the cogitations and fearful apprehensions of the lastingness of their damnation. For, I say, their minds, their memories, their understandings, and consciences, will all, and always, be swallowed up with ‘for ever;’ yea, they themselves will, by the means of these things, be their own tormentors for ever. (3.) There will not be spaces, as days, months, years, and the like, as now; though we make bold so to speak, the better to present our thoughts to each other’s capacities; for then there shall be time no longer; also, day and night shall then be come to an end. ‘He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end’ ( Job 26:10). Until the end of light with darkness. Now when time, and day, and night, are come to an end, then there comes in eternity, as there was before the day, and night, or time, was created; and when this is come, punishment nor glory must none of them be measured by days, or months, or years, but by eternity itself. Nor shall those concerned either in misery or glory reckon of their now new state, as they need to reckon of things in this world; but they shall be suited in their capacities, in their understandings and apprehensions, to judge and count of their condition according as will best stand with their state in eternity. f18 Could we but come to an understanding of things done in heaven and hell, as we understand how things are done in this world, we should be strangely amazed to see how the change of places and of conditions has made a change in the understandings of men, and in the manner of their enjoyment of things. But this we must let alone till the next world, and until our launching into it; and then, whether we be of the right or left hand ones, we shall well know the state and condition of both kingdoms. In the meantime, let us addict ourselves to the belief of the Scriptures of truth, for therein is revealed the way to that of eternal life, and how to escape the damnation of the soul ( Matthew 25:33). But thus much for the loss of the soul, unto which let me add, for a conclusion, these verses following: — These cry alas! But all in vain; They stick fast in the mire; They would be rid of present pain, Yet set themselves on fire.
Now will confusion so possess, These moments of ire, And so confound them with distress, And trouble their desire, That what to think, or what to do, Or where to lay their head, They know not: ‘tis the damned’s woe, To live, and yet be dead.
But that sticks fast’st of all.
OF THE CAUSE OF THE LOSS OF THE SOUL FOURTH, And now I am come to the fourth thing — that is, to show you the cause of the loss of the soul. That men have souls, that souls are great things, that souls may be lost, this I have showed you already; wherefore I now proceed to show you the cause of this loss. The cause is laid down in the 18th chapter of Ezekiel, in these words — Behold, all souls,’ says God, ‘are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die’ ( Ezekiel 5:4).
SIN THE CAUSE OF THE LOSS OF HIS SOUL First, It is sin, then, or sinning against God, that is the cause of dying, or damning in hell fire, for that must be meant by dying; otherwise, to die, according to our ordinary acceptation of the notion, the soul is not capable of, it being indeed immortal, as hath been afore asserted. So, then, the soul that sinneth — that is, and perservering in the same — that soul shall die, be cast away, or damned; yea, to ascertain us of the undoubted truth of this, the Holy Ghost doth repeat it again, and that in this very chapter, saying, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ ( Ezekiel 5:20). Now, the soul may divers ways be said to sin against God; as, 1. In its receiving of sin into its bosom, and in its retaining and entertaining of it there. Sin must first be received before it can act in, or be acted by, the soul. Our first parents first received it in the suggestion or motion, and then acted it. Now it is not here to be disputed when sin was received by the soul, so much as whether ever the soul received sin; for if the soul has indeed received sin into itself, then it has sinned, and by doing so, has made itself an object of the wrath of God, and a fire brand of hell. I say, I will not here dispute when sin was received by the soul, but it is apparent enough that it received it betimes, because in old time every child that was brought unto the Lord was to be redeemed, and that at a month old, ( Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20; Numbers 18:15,16); which, to be sure, was very early, and implied that then, even then, the soul in God’s judgment stood before Him as defiled and polluted with sin. But although I said I will not dispute at what time the soul may be said to receive sin, yet it is evident that it was precedent to the redemption made mention of just before, and so before the person redeemed had attained the age of a month.
And that God might, in the language of Moses, give us to seethe cause of necessity of this redemption, he first distinguisheth, and saith, ‘The firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat,’ did not need this redemption, for they were clean, or holy. But the firstborn of men, who was taken in lieu of the rest of the children, and the ‘firstling of unclean beasts, thou shalt surely redeem,’ saith He. But why was the firstborn of men coupled with unclean beasts, but because they are both unclean? The beast was unclean by God’s ordination, but the other was unclean by sin. Now, then, it will be demanded, how a soul, before it was a month old, could receive sin to the making of itself unclean? I answer, There are two ways of receiving, one active, the other passive; this last is the way by which the soul at first receiveth sin, and by so receiving, becometh culpable, because polluted and defiled by it. And this passive way of receiving is often mentioned in Scripture. Thus the pans received the ashes, ( Exodus 27:3); thus the molten sea received three thousand baths, ( 2 Chronicles 4:5); thus the ground receiveth the seed, ( Matthew 13:20-23); and this receiving is like that of the wool which receiveth the dye, either black, white, or red; and as the fire that receiveth the water till it be all quenched therewith: or as the water receiveth such stinking and poisonous matter into it, as for the sake of it, it is poured out and spilt upon the ground. But whence should the soul thus receive sin? I answer, from the body, while it is in the mother’s belly; the body comes from polluted man, and therefore is polluted ( Psalm 51:5). ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?’ ( Job 14:4). The soul comes from God’s hand, and therefore as so is pure and clean: but being put into this body, it is tainted, polluted, and defiled with the taint, stench, and filth of sin; nor can this stench and filth be by man purged out, when once from the body got into the soul; sooner may the blackamoor change his skin, or the leopard his spots, than the soul, were it willing, might purge itself of this pollution. ‘Though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God’ ( Jeremiah 2:22). 2. But as I said, the soul has not only received sin, but retains it, holds it, and shows no kind of resistance. It is enough that the soul is polluted and defiled, for that is sufficient to provoke God to cast it away; for which of you would take a cloth annoyed with stinking, ulcerous sores, to wipe your mouth withal, or to thrust it into your bosoms? and the soul is polluted with far worse pollution than any such can be. But this is not all; it retains sin as the wool retains the dye, or as the infected water receives the stench or poisonous scent; I say, it retains it willingly; for all the power of the soul is not only captivated by a seizure of sin upon the soul, but it willingly, heartily, unanimously, universally falleth in with the natural filth and pollution that is in sin, to the estranging of itself from God, and an obtaining of an intimacy and compliance with the devil.
Now this being the state and condition of the soul from the belly, yea, from before it sees the light of this world, what can be concluded but that God is offended with it? For how can it otherwise be, since there is holiness and justice in God? Hence those that are born of a woman, whose original is by carnal conception with man, are said to be as serpents so soon as born. ‘The wicked (and all at first are so) go astray as soon as they be born, speakings lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ear’ ( Psalm 58:3,4).
They go astray from the belly; but that they would not do, if aught of the powers of their soul were unpolluted. ‘But their poison is like the poison of a serpent.’ Their poison — what is that? Their pollution, their original pollution, that is as the poison of a serpent — to wit, not only deadly, for so poison is, but also hereditary. It comes from the old one, from the sire and dam; yea, it is also now become connatural to and with them, and is of the same date with the child as born into the world. The serpent has not her poison, in the original of it, either from imitation or from other infective things abroad, though it may by such things be helped forward and increased; but she brings it with her in her bowels, in her nature, and it is to her as suitable to her present condition as it is that which is most sweet and wholesome to other of the creatures. So, then, every soul comes into the world as poisoned with sin; nay, as such which have poison connatural to them; for it has not only received sin as the wool has received the dye, but it retaineth it. The infection is got so deep, it has taken the black so effectually, that the tint, the very fire of hell, can never purge the soul therefrom.
And that the soul has received this infection thus early, and that it retains it so surely, is not only signified by children coming into the world besmeared in their mother’s blood, and by the firstborn’s being redeemed at a month old, but also by the first inclinations and actions of children when they are so come into the world ( Exodus 26). Who sees not that lying, pride, disobedience to parents, and hypocrisy, do put forth themselves in children before they know that they do either well or ill in so doing, or before they are capable to learn either of these arts by imitation, or seeing understandingly the same things done first by others? He that sees not that they do it naturally from a principle, from an inherent principle, is either blinded, and has retained his darkness by the same sin as they, or has suffered himself to be swayed by a delusion from him who at first infused this spawn of sin into man’s nature.
Nor doth the averseness of children to morality a little demonstrate what has been said; for as it would make a serpent sick, should one give it a strong antidote against his poison, so then are children, and never more than then, disturbed in their minds, when a strict hand and a stiff rein by moral discipline is maintained over and upon them. True, sometimes restraining grace corrects them, but that is not of themselves; but more oft hypocrisy is the great and first moving wheel to all their seeming compliances with admonitions, which indulgent parents are apt to overlook, yea, and sometimes, through unadvisedness, to count for the principles of grace. I speak now of that which comes before conversion.
But as I said before, I would not now dispute, only I have thought good thus to urge these things to make my assertion manifest, and to show what is the cause of the damnation of the soul. 3. Again; as the soul receives sin, and retains it, so it also doth entertain it — that is, countenance, smile upon, and like its complexion and nature well. A man may detain — that is, hold fast — a thing which yet he doth not regard; but when he entertains, then he countenances, likes, and delights in the company. Sin, then, is first received by the soul, as has been afore explained, and by that reception is polluted and defiled. This makes it hateful in the eyes of justice: it is now polluted. Then, secondly, this sin is not only received, but retained — that is, it sticks so fast, abides so fixedly in the soul, that it cannot be gotten out; this is the cause of the continuation of abhorrence; for if God abhors because there is a being of sin there, it must needs be that he should continue to abhor, since sin continues to have a being there. But then, in the third place, sin is not only received, detained, but entertained by the now defiled and polluted soul; wherefore this must needs be a cause of the continuance of anger, and that with aggravation. When I say, entertained, I do not mean as men entertain their enemies, with small and great shot, but as they entertain those whom they like, and those that are got into their affections. And therefore the wrath of God must certainly be let out upon the soul, to the everlasting damnation of it.
Now that the soul doth thus entertain sin, is manifest by these several particulars — (1.) It hath admitted it with complacence and delight into every chamber of the soul; I mean, it has been delightfully admitted to an entertainment by all the powers or faculties of the soul. The soul hath chosen it rather than God: it also, at God’s command, refuseth to let it go; yea, it chooseth that doctrine, and loveth it best, since it must have a doctrine, that has most of sin and baseness in it ( Isaiah 65:12; Isaiah 66:3). They ‘say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits’ ( Isaiah 30:10).
These are signs that the soul with liking hath entertained sin; and if there be at any time, as indeed there is, a warrant issued out from the mouth of God to apprehend, to condemn, and mortify sin, why then, (2.) These shifts the souls of sinners do presently make for the saving of sin from those things that by the Word men are commanded to do unto it — (a) They will, if possible, hide it, and not suffer it to be discovered. ‘He that hideth his sins shall not prosper’ ( Proverbs 28:13). And again, they hide it, and refuse to let it go ( Job 20:12,13). This is an evident sign that the soul has a favor for sin, and that with liking it, entertains it. (b) As it will hide it, so it will excuse it, and plead that this and that piece of wickedness is no such evil thing; men need not be so nice, and make such a pother about it, calling those that cry out so hotly against it, men more nice than wise. Hence the prophets of old used to be called madmen, and the world would reply against their doctrine, Wherein have we been so wearisome to God, and what have we spoken so much against Him? ( Malachi 1:6,7; Malachi 3:8,13). c) As the soul will do this, so to save sin, it will cover it with names of virtue, either moral or civil; and of this God greatly complains, yea, breaks into anger for this, saying, ‘Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; and put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter’ ( Isaiah 5:20)! (d) If convictions and discovery of sin be so strong and so plain, that the soul cannot deny but that it is sin, and that God is offended therewith; then it will give flattering promises to God that it will indeed put it away; but yet it will prefix a time that shall be long first, if it also then at all performs it, saying, Yet a little sleep, yet a little slumber, yet a little folding of sin in mine arms, till I am older, till I am richer, till I have had more of the sweetness and the delights of sin.
Thus, ‘their soul delighteth in their abominations’ ( Isaiah 66:3). (e) If God yet pursues, and will see whether this promise of putting sin out of doors shall be fulfilled by the soul, why then, it will be partial in God’s law; it will put away some, and keep some; put away the grossest, and keep the finest; put away those that can best be spared, and keep the most profitable for a help at a pinch ( Malachi 2:9). (f) Yes, if all sin must be abandoned, or the soul shall have no rest, why then, the soul and sin will part (with such a parting as it is), even as Phaltiel parted with David’s wife, with an ill will and a sorrowful mind; or as Orpha left her mother, with a kiss ( 2 Samuel 3:16; Ruth 1:14). (g) And if at any time they can, or shall, meet with each other again, and nobody never the wiser. O, what courting will be betwixt sin and the soul? And this is called doing of things in the dark ( Ezekiel 8:12).
By all these, and many more things that might be instanced, it is manifest that sin has a friendly entertainment by the soul, and that therefore the soul is guilty of damnation; for what do all these things argue, but that God, His Word, His ways, and graces, are out of favor with the soul, and that sin and Satan are its only pleasant companions? But, HOW SIN, BY THE HELP OF THE SOUL, DESTROYS IT. Secondly, That I may yet show you what a great thing sin is with the soul that is to be damned, I will show how sin, by the help of the soul, is managed, from the motion of sin, even till it comes to the very act; for sin cannot come to an act without the help of the soul. The body doth little here, as I shall further show you anon.
There is then a motion of sin presented to the soul (and whether presented by sin itself or the devil, we will not at this time dispute); motions of sin, and motions to sin there are, and always the end of the motions of sin are to prevail with the soul to help that motion into an act. But, I say, there is a motion to sin moved to the soul; or, as James calls it, a conception. Now behold how the soul deals with this motion in order to the finishing of sin, that death might follow ( Romans 7:5). 1. This motion is taken notice of by the soul, but is not resisted nor striven against, only the soul lifts up its eyes upon it, and sees that there is present a motion to sin, a motion of sin presented to the soul, that the soul might midwife it from the conception into the world. 2. Well, notice being taken that a motion to sin is present, what follows but that the fancy or imagination of the soul taketh it home to it, and doth not only look upon it and behold it more narrowly, but begins to trick and trim up the sin to the pleasing of itself and of all the powers of the soul.
That this is true, is evident, because God findeth fault with the imagination as with that which lendeth to sin the first hand, and that giveth to it the first lift towards its being helped forward to act. ‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth’ ( Genesis 6:5,12,13).
That is, many abominable actions were done; for all flesh had corrupted God’s way upon the earth. But how came this to be so? Why, every imagination of the thoughts, or of the motions that were in the heart to sin, was evil, only evil, and that continuously. The imagination of the thoughts was evil — that is, such as tended not to deaden or stifle, but such as tended to animate and forward the motions or thoughts of sin into action.
Every imagination of the thoughts — that which is here called a thought, by Paul to the Romans, called a motion. Now the imagination should, and would, had it been on God’s side, so have conceived of this motion of and to sins, all to have presented it in all its features so ugly, so ill favored, and so unreasonable a thing to the soul, that the soul should forthwith have let down the sluice, and pulled up the drawbridge, put a stop, with greatest defiance, to the motion now under consideration; but the imagination being defiled, it presently, at the very first view or noise of the motion of sin, so acted as to forward the bringing the said motion or thought into act. So, then, the thought of sin, or motion thereto, is first of all entertained by the imagination and fancy of the soul, and thence conveyed to the rest of the powers of the soul to be condemned, if the imagination be good; but to be helped forward to the act, if the imagination be evil. And thus the evil imagination helpeth the motion of and to sin towards the act, even by dressing of it up in that guise and habit that may best delude the understanding, judgment, and conscience; and that is done after this manner: suppose a motion of sin to commit fornication, to swear, to steal, to act covetously, or the like, be propounded to the fancy and imagination; the imagination, if evil, presently dresseth up this motion in that garb that best suiteth with the nature of the sin. As, if it be the lust of uncleanness, then is the motion to sin dress up in all the imaginable pleasurableness of that sin; if to covetousness, then is the sin dress up in the profits and honors that attend that sin; and so of theft and the like; but if the motion be to swear, hector, or the like, then is that motion dress up with valor and manliness; and so you may count of the rest of sinful motions; and thus being trimmed up like a Bartholomew baby, it is presented to all the rest of the powers of the soul, where with joint consent it is admired and embraced, to the firing and inflaming all the powers of the soul.
For the imagination is such a forcible power, that if it putteth forth itself to dress up and present a thing to the soul, whether that thing be evil or good, the rest of the faculties cannot withstand it. Therefore, when David prayed for the children of Israel, he said, ‘I have seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee;’ that is, for preparations to build the temple. ‘O Lord God,’ saith he, ‘keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee’ ( 1 Chronicles 29:17,18).
He knew that as the imagination was prepared, so would the soul be moved, whether by evil or good; therefore as to this, he prays that their imagination might be engaged apprehensions of the beauteousness of the temple, that they might always, as now, offer willingly for its building.
But, as I said, when the imagination hath thus set forth sin to the rest of the faculties of the soul, they are presently entangled, and fall into a flame of love thereto; this being done, it follows that a purpose to pursue this motion, till it be brought unto act, is the next thing that is resolved on.
Thus Esau, after he had conceived of that profit that would accrue to him by murdering of his brother, fell the next way into a resolve to spill Jacob’s blood. And Rebecca sent for Jacob, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee’ ( Genesis 27:42).
The purpose, therefore, being concluded, in the next place the invention is diligently set to work to find out what means, methods, and ways, will be thought best to bring this purpose into practice, and this motion to sin into action. Esau invented the death of his brother when his father was to be carried to his grave ( Genesis 27:41). David purposed to make Uriah father his bastard child by making of him drunk ( 2 Samuel 11:13).
Amnon purposed to ravish Tamar, and the means that he invented to do it were by feigning himself sick. Absalom purposed to kill Amnon, and invented to do it at a feast ( 2 Samuel 13:32). Judas purposed to sell Christ, and invented to betray him in the absence of the people ( Luke 22:3-6). The Jews purposed to kill Paul, and invented to entreat the judge of a blandation to send for him, that they might murder him as he went ( Acts 23:12-15).
Thus you see how sin is, in the motion of it, handed through the soul — first, it comes into the fancy or imagination, by which it is so presented to the soul, as to inflame it with desire to bring it into act; so from this desire the soul proceedeth to a purpose of enjoying, and from a purpose of enjoying to inventing how, or by what means, it had best to attempt the accomplishing of it.
But, further, when the soul has thus far, by its wickedness, pursued the motion of sin to bring it into action, then to the last thing; to wit, to endeavors, to take the opportunity, which, by the invention, is judged most convenient; so to endeavors it goes, till it has finished sin, and finished, in finishing of that, its own fearful damnation. ‘Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death’ ( James 1:15).
And who knows, but God and the soul, how many lets, hindrances, convictions, fears, frights, misgivings, and thoughts of the judgment of God, all this while are passing and repassing, turning and returning, over the face of the soul? how many times the soul is made to start, look back, and tremble, while it is pursuing the pleasure, profit, applause, or preferment that sin, when finished, promiseth to yield unto the soul? for God is such a lover of the soul, that He seldom lets it go on in sin, but He cries to it, by His Word and providences, ‘Oh! do not this abominable thing that I hate!’ (Jeremiah 44: 4); especially at first, until it shall have hardened itself, and so provoked Him to give it up in sin-revenging judgment to its own ways and doings, which is the terriblest judgment under heaven; and this brings me to the third thing, the which I now will speak to. 3. As the soul receives, detains, entertains, and wilily worketh to bring sin from the motion into act, so it abhorreth to be controlled and taken off of this work — ‘My soul loathed them,’ says God, ‘and their soul also abhorred Me’ ( Zechariah 6:8). My soul loathed them, because they were so bad; and their souls abhorred Me, because I am so good. Sin, then, is the cause of the loss of the soul; because it hath set the soul, or, rather, because the soul of love to sin hath set itself against God. ‘Woe unto their soul, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves’( Isaiah 3:9).
THROUGH SIN THE SOUL SETS ITSELF AGAINST GOD. Third , That you may the better perceive that the soul, through sin, has set itself against God , I will propose, and speak briefly to, these two things: — I. THE LAW.
II. THE GOSPEL.
I. FOR THE LAW. God has given it for a rule of life, either as written in their natures, or as inserted in the Holy Scriptures; I say, for a rule of life to all the children of men. But what have men done, or how have they carried it to this law of their Creator; let us see, and that from the mouth of God himself. 1. ‘They have not hearkened unto My words’ ( Jeremiah 6:19). 2. ‘They have forsaken My law’ ( Jeremiah 9:13). 3.
They ‘have forsaken Me, and have not kept My law’ ( Jeremiah 16:11). 4.
They have not ‘walked in My law, nor in My statutes’ ( Jeremiah 44:4). 5. ‘Her priests have violated My law’ ( Ezekiel 22:26). 6. And, saith God, ‘I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.’ ( Hosea 8:12).
Now, whence should all this disobedience arise? Not from the unreasonableness of the commandment, but from the opposition that is lodged in us against God, and the enmity that it entertains against goodness. Hence the apostle speaks of the emnity, and says, that men are enemies in their minds, their souls, as is manifest by wicked works ( Colossians 1:21). This, if men went no further, must needs be highly provoking to a just and holy God: yea, so highly offensive is it, that, to show the heat of His anger, He saith, ‘Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil,’ and this evil with a witness, ‘of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile,’ that doth evil ( Romans 2:8,9). That breaketh the law; for that evil He is crying out against now. But, II. TO SPEAK OF THE GOSPEL, and of the carriage of sinful souls towards God under that dispensation.
The gospel is a revelation of a sovereign remedy, provided by God, through Christ, for the health and salvation of those that have made themselves objects of wrath by the breach of the law of works; this is manifest by all the Scripture. But how doth the soul carry it towards God, when He offereth to deal with it under and by this dispensation of grace?
Why, just as it carried it under the law of works: they oppose, they contradict, they blaspheme, and forbid that this gospel be mentioned ( Acts 13:45; Acts 27:6). What higher affront or contempt can be offered to God, and what greater disdain can be shown against the gospel? ( 2 Timothy 2:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). Yet all this the poor soul, to its own wrong, offereth against the way of its own salvation; as it is said in the Word of truth, ‘He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death’ ( Proverbs 8:36).
But, further, the soul despiseth not the gospel in that revelation of it only, but the great and chief bringer thereof, with the manner, also, of His bringing of it. The Bringer, the great Bringer of the gospel, is the good Lord Jesus Christ himself; ‘He came and preached peace to them that the law proclaimed war against; became and preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh’ ( Ephesians 2:17).
And it is worth your observation to take notice how He came, and that was, and still is, as He is set forth in the word of the gospel; to wit, first, as making peace Himself to God for us in and by the blood of His cross; and then, as bearing (as set out by the gospel) the very characters of His sufferings before our faces in every tender of the gospel of His grace unto us. And to touch a little upon the dress in which, by the gospel, Christ presenteth unto us while He offereth unto sinful souls His peace, by the tenders thereof. 1. He is set forth as born for us, to save our souls ( Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:9-12). 2. He is set forth before us as bearing of our sins for us, and suffering God’s wrath for us ( 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 3:13). 3. He is set forth before us as fulfilling the law for us, and as bringing of everlasting righteousness to us for our covering ( Romans 5:4; Daniel 9:24).
Again, as to the manner of His working out the salvation of sinners for them, that they might have peace and joy, and heaven and glory, for ever. (1.) He is set forth as sweating of blood while He was in His agony, wrestling with the thoughts of death, which He was to suffer for our sins, that He might save the soul ( Luke 22:44). (2.) He is set forth as crying, weeping, and mourning under the lashes of justice that He put Himself under, and was willing to bear for our sins ( Hebrews 5:7). (3.) He is set forth as betrayed, apprehended, condemned, spit on, scourged, buffeted, mocked, crowned with thorns, crucified, pierced with nails and a spear, to save the soul from being betrayed by the devil and sin; to save it from being apprehended by justice, and condemned by the law; to save it from being spit on, in a way of contempt, by holiness; to save it from being scourged with guilt of sins, as with scorpions; to save it from being continually buffeted by its own conscience; to save it from being mocked at by God; to save it from being crowned with ignominy and shame for ever; to save it from dying the second death; to save it from wounds and grief for ever.
Dost thou understand me, sinful soul? He wrestled with justice, that thou mightest have rest; He wept and mourned, that thou mightest laugh and rejoice; He was betrayed, that thou mightest go free; was apprehended, that thou mightest escape; He was condemned, that thou mightest be justified; and was killed, that thou mightest live; He wore a crown of thorns, that thou mightest wear a crown of glory; and was nailed to the cross, with His arms wide open, to show with what freeness all His merits shall be bestowed on the coming soul; and how heartily He will receive it into His bosom?
Further, all this He did of mere good will, and offereth the benefit thereof unto thee freely; yea, He cometh unto thee, in the word of the gospel, with the blood running down from His head upon His face, with His tears abiding upon His cheeks, with the holes as fresh in His hands and His feet, and as with the blood still bubbling out of His side, to pray thee to accept of the benefit, and to be reconciled to God thereby ( 2 Corinthians 5).
But what saith the sinful soul to this? I do not ask what he saith with his lips, for he will assuredly flatter God with his mouth; but what doth his actions and carriages declare as to his acceptance of this incomparable benefit? For ‘a wicked man speaketh with his feet, and teacheth with his fingers’ ( Proverbs 6:12,13). With his feet — that is, by the way he goeth: and with his fingers — that is, by his acts and doings. So, then, what saith he by his goings, by his sets and doings, unto this incomparable benefit, thus brought unto him from the Father, by His only Son, Jesus Christ? What saith he? Why, he saith that he doth not at all regard this Christ, nor value the grace thus tendered unto him in the gospel. 1. He saith, that he regardeth not this Christ, that he seeth nothing in Him why he should admit Him to be entertained in his affections. Therefore the prophet, speaking in the person of sinners, says, ‘He (Christ) hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him;’ and then adds, to show what he meaneth by his thus speaking, saying, ‘he is despised and rejected of men’ ( Isaiah 53:2,3).
All this is spoken with reference to His person, and it was eminently fulfilled upon Him in the days of His flesh, when He was hated, maligned, and persecuted to death by sinners; and is still fulfilled in the souls of sinners, in that they cannot abide to think of Him with thoughts that have a tendency in them to separate them and their lusts asunder, and to the making of them to embrace Him for their darling, and the taking up of their cross to follow Him. All this sinners speak out with loud voices, in that they stop their ears and shut their eyes as to Him, but open them wide and hearken diligently to anything that pleaseth the flesh, and that is a nursery to sin. But, 2. As they despise, and reject, and do not regard His person, so they do not value the grace that He tendereth unto them by the gospel; this is plain by that indifferency of spirit that always attends when then, at any time, they hear thereof, or when it is presented unto them.
I may safely say, that the most of men who are concerned in a trade, will be more vigilant in dealing with a twelvepenny customer than they will be with Christ when He comes to make unto them, by the gospel, a tender of the incomparable grace of God. Hence they are called fools, because a price is put into their hands to get wisdom, and they have no heart unto it ( Proverbs 18:16). And hence, again, it is that that bitter complaint is made, ‘But My people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of Me’ ( Psalm 81:11).
Now, these things being found, as practiced by the souls of sinners, must needs, after a wonderful manner, provoke; wherefore, no marvel that the heavens are bid to be astonished at this, and that damnation shall seize upon the soul for this ( Jeremiah 2).
And indeed, the soul that doth thus by practice, though with his mouth — as who doth not? he shall show much love, he doth, interpretatively, say these things: — (1.) That he loveth sin better than grace, and darkness better than light, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed, ‘And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light (as is manifest), because their deeds were evil’ ( John 3:19). (2.) They do, also, by their thus rejecting of Christ and grace, say, that for what the law can do to them, they value it not; they regard not its thundering threatenings, nor will they shrink when they come to endure the execution thereof; wherefore God, to deter them from such bold and desperate ways, that do, interpretatively, fully declare that they make such desperate conclusions, insinuates that the burden of the curse thereof is intolerable, saying, ‘Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I, the Lord, have spoken it, and will do it ’ ( Ezekiel 22:14). (3.) Yea, by their thus doing, they do as good as say that they will run the hazard of a sentence of death at the day of judgment, and that they will, in the meantime, join issue, and stand a trial at that day with the great and terrible God. What else means their not hearkening to Him, their despising of His Son, and the rejecting of His grace; yea I say again, what else means their slighting of the curse of the law, and their choosing to abide in their sins till the day of death and judgment? And thus I have showed you the causes of the loss of the soul; and, assuredly, these things are no fables. Objection . But some may object, and say, But you denounce all against the soul; the soul, as if the body were in no fault at all; or, as if there were no punishment assigned for the body. Answer 1. The soul must be the part punished, because the soul is that which sins. ‘Every sin that a man doeth is without the body,’ fornication or adultery excepted ( 1 Corinthians 6:18). ‘Is without the body; that is, as to the wilily inventing, contriving, and finding out ways to bring the motions of sin into action. For, alas! What can the body do as to these? It is in a manner wholly passive; yea, altogether as to the lusting and purposing to do the wickedness, excepting the sin before excepted; ay, and not excepting that, as to the rise of that sin; for even that, with all the rest, ariseth and proceedeth out of the heart — the soul; ‘For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man’ ( Mark 7:21-23).
That is, the outward man. But a difference must always be put betwixt defiling and being defiled, that which defileth being the worst; not but that the body shall have its share of judgment, for body and soul must be destroyed in hell ( Luke 12:4,5; Matthew 10:28). The body as the instrument, the soul as the actor; but oh! the soul, the soul, the soul is the sinner; and, therefore, the soul, as the principal, must be punished.
And that God’s indignation burneth most against the soul appears in that death hath seized upon every soul already; for the Scripture saith, that every natural or unconverted man is dead ( Ephesians 2:1-3). Dead!
How? Is his body dead? No, verily; his body liveth, but his soul is dead ( 1 Timothy 5:6). Dead! But with what death? Dead to God, and to all things gospelly good, by reason of that benumbing, stupifying, and senselessness, that, by God’s just judgment for and by sin, hath swallowed up the soul. Yea, if you observe, you shall see that the soul goeth first, or before, in punishment, not only by what has been said already, in that the soul is first made a partaker of death, but in that God first deals with the soul by convictions, yea, and terrors, perhaps, while the body is well; or, in that He giveth up the soul to judicial hardness and further blindness, while He leaveth the body to do His office in the world; yea, and also when the day of death and dissolution is come, the body is spared, while the soul is tormented in unutterable torment in hell. And so, I say, it shall be spared, and the clods of the valley shall be sweet unto it, while the soul mourneth in hell for sin. It is true, at the day of judgment, because that is the last and final judgment of God on men, then the body and soul shall be re-united, or joined together again, and shall then, together, partake of that recompence for their wickedness which is meet.
When I say, the body is spared and the soul tormented, I mean not that the body is not then, at death, made to partake of the wages of sin, ‘for the wages of sin is death’ ( Romans 3:23). But I mean, the body partakes then but of temporal death, which, as to sense and feeling, is sometimes over presently, and then resteth in the grave, while the soul is tormenting in hell. Yea, and why is death suffered to slay the body? I dare say, not chiefly for that the indignation of God most burneth against the body; but the body being the house for the soul in this world, God even pulls down this body, that the soul may be stript naked, and being stript, may be carried to prison, to the place where damned souls are, there to suffer in the beginning of suffering, that punishment that will be endless. Answer 2. Therefore, the soul must be the part most sorely punished, because justice must be distributed with equity. God is a God of knowledge and judgment; by Him actions are weighed; actions in order to judgment ( 1 Samuel 2). Now, by weighing of actions, since He finds the soul to have the deepest hand in sin; and He says that He hath so, of equity the soul is to bear the burden of punishment. ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right’ in His famous distributing of judgment? ( Genesis 18:25). He will not lay upon man more than right, that he should enter into judgment with God’ ( Job 34:23). The soul, since deepest in sin, shall also be deepest in punishment. ‘Shall one man sin,’ said Moses, ‘and wilt Thou be wroth with all the congregation?’ ( Numbers 1:22).
He pleads here for equity in God’s distributing of judgment; yea, and so exact is God in the distribution thereof, that He will not punish heathens so as He will punish Jews; wherefore He saith, ‘Of the Jew first,’ or chiefly, ‘and also of the Gentile’ ( Romans 2:9).
Yea, in hell He has prepared several degrees of punishment for the several sorts or degrees of offenders; And some ‘shall receive greater damnation’ ( Luke 22:47). And will it not be unmeet for us to think, since God is so elect in all His doings, that He will, without His weights and measures, give to soul and body, as I may say, carelessly, not severally, their punishments, according to the desert and merit of each? Answer 3. The punishment of the soul in hell must needs, to be sure, as to degree, differ from the punishment of the body there. When I say, differ, I mean, must needs be greater, whether the body be punished with the same fire with the soul, or fire of another nature. If it be punished with the same fire, yet not in the same way; for the fire of guilt, with the apprehensions of indignation and wrath, are most properly felt and apprehended by the soul, and by the body by virtue of its union with the soul; and so felt by the body, if not only, yet, I think, mostly, by way of sympathy with the soul; and the cause, we say, is worse than the disease; and if the wrath of God, and the apprehensions of it, as discharging itself for sin, and the breach of the law, be that with which the soul is punished, as sure it is: then the body is punished by the effects, or by those influences that the soul, in its torments, has upon the body, by virtue of that great oneness and union that is between them.
But if there be a punishment prepared for the body distinct in kind from that which is prepared for the soul, yet it must be a punishment inferior to that which is prepared for the soul; not that the soul and body shall be severed, but being made of things distinct, their punishments will be by that which is most suitable to each. I say, it must be inferior, because nothing can be so hot, so tormenting, so intolerably insupportable, as the quickest apprehensions of, and the immediate sinking under, that guilt and indignation that is proportional to the offence. Should all the wood, and brimstone, and combustible matter on earth be gathered together for the tormenting of one body, yet that cannot yield that torment to that which the sense of guilt and burning-hot application of the indignation of God will do to the soul; yea, suppose the fire wherewith the body is tormented in hell should be seven times hotter than any of our fire; yea, suppose it, again, to be seven times hotter than that which is seven times hotter than ours, yet it must, suppose it to be but created fire, be infinitely short, as to tormenting operations, of the unspeakable wrath of God, when in the heat thereof He applieth it to, and doth punish the soul for sin in hell therewith.
So, then, whether the body be tormented with the same fire wherewith the soul is tormented, or whether the fire be of another kind, yet it is not possible that it should bear the same punishment as to degree, because, or for the causes I have showed. Nor, indeed, is it meet it should, because the body has not sinned so, so grievously as the soul has done; and God proportioneth the punishment suitable to the offence. Answer 4. With the soul by itself are the most quick and suitable apprehensions of God and His wrath; wherefore, that must needs be made partaker of the sorest punishment in hell; it is the soul that now is the most subtle at discerning, and it is the soul that will be so; then conscience, memory, and understanding, and mind; these will be the seat of torment, since the understanding will let wrath immediately upon these, from what it apprehends of that wrath; conscience will let the wrath of God immediately upon these, from what it fearfully feels of that wrath; the memory will then, as a vessel, receive and retain up to the brim of this wrath, even as it receiveth by the understanding and conscience, the cause of this wrath, and considers the durableness of it; so, then, the soul is the seat and the receiver of wrath, even as it was the receiver and seat of sin; here, then, is sin and wrath upon the soul, the soul in the body, and so soul and body tormented in hell fire. Answer 5. The soul will be most tormented, because strongest; the biggest burden must lie upon the strongest part, especially since, also, it is made capable of it by its sin. The soul must bear its own punishment, and a great part of the body’s too, forasmuch as, so far as apprehension goes, the soul will be quicker at the work than the body. True, the body, by the help of the soul, will see too, but the soul will see yet abundantly further.
And good reason that the soul should bear part of the punishment of the body, because it was through its allurements that the body yielded to help the soul to sin. The devil presented sin, the soul took it by the body, and now devil, and soul, and body, and all must be lost, cast away; that is, damned in hell for sin; but the soul must be the burden bearer. Objection. But you say, Doth not this give encouragement to sinners to give way to the body to be in all its members loose, and vain, and wicked, as instruments to sin? Answer. No; forasmuch as the body shall also have his share in punishment. For though I have said the soul shall have more punishment than the body, yet I have not said, that the body shall at all be eased by that; no, the body will have its due. And for the better making out of my answer further, consider of these following particulars: — (1.) The body will be the vessel to hold the tormented soul in; this will be something; therefore man, damned man, is called a vessel of wrath, a vessel, and that in both body and soul ( Romans 9:22). The soul receiveth wrath unto itself, and the body holdeth that soul that has thus received, and is tormented with, the wrath of God. Now the body being a vessel to hold this soul that is thus possessed with the wrath of God, must needs itself be afflicted and tormented with that torment, because of its union with the body; therefore the Holy Ghost saith, ‘His flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn’ ( Job 14:22). Both shall have their torment and misery, for that both joined hand in hand in sin, the soul to bring it to the birth, and the body to midwife it into the world; therefore it saith again, with reference to the body, ‘Let the curse come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.’ Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle, etc. ( <19A917> Psalm 109:17-19). The body, then, will be tormented as well as the soul, by being a vessel to hold that soul that is now possessed and distressed with the unspeakable wrath and indignation of the Almighty God, and this will be a great deal, if you consider, (2.) That the body, as a body, will, by reason of its union with the soul, be as sensible, and so as capable in its kind, to receive correction and torment as ever, nay, I think more; for if the quickness of the soul giveth quickness of sense to the body, as in some case, at least, I am apt to think it doth, then forasmuch as the soul will now be most quick, most sharp in apprehension, so the body, by reason of union and sympathy with the soul, will be most quick and most sharp as to sense. Indeed, if the body should not receive and retain sense, yea, all its senses, by reason of its being a vessel to hold the soul, the torment of the soul could not as torment, be ministered to the body, no more than the fire tormented the king of Babylon’s furnace (Daniel 3). Or than the king of Moab’s lime kiln was afflicted because the king of Edom’s bones were burnt therein. But now the body has received again its senses, now therefore it must, yea, it cannot choose but must feel that wrath of God that is let out, yea, poured out like floods of water into the soul. Remember also, that besides what the body receiveth from the soul by reason of its union and sympathy therewith, there is a punishment, and instruments of punishment, though I will not pretend to tell you exactly what it is, prepared for the body for its joining with the soul in sin, therewith to be punished; a punishment, I say, that shall fall immediately upon the body, and that such an one as will most fitly suit with the nature of the body, as wrath and guilt do most fitly suit the nature of the soul. (3.) Add to these, the durable condition of the body in this state is now in with the soul. Time was when the soul died, and the body lived, and the soul was tormented while the body slept and rested in the dust; but now these things are past; for at the day of judgment, as I said, these two shall be re-united, and that which once did separate them, be destroyed; then of necessity they must abide together, and, as together, abide the punishment prepared for them; and this will greaten the torment of the body.
Death was once the wages of sin, and a grievous curse; but might the damned meet with it in hell, they would count it a mercy, because it would separate soul and body, and not only so, but take away all sense from the body, and make it incapable of suffering torment; yea, I will add, and by that means give the soul some ease; for without doubt, as the torments of the soul extend themselves to the body, so the torments of the body extend themselves to the soul; nor can it be otherwise, because of union and sympathy. But death, natural death, shall be destroyed, and there shall be no more natural death, no, not in hell ( 1 Corinthians 15:26). And now it shall happen to men, as it hath done in less and inferior judgments. They shall seek death, and desire to die, and death shall not be found by them ( Job 3:21; Revelation 9:6). Thus therefore they must abide together; death that used to separate them asunder is now slain — 1. Because it was an enemy in keeping Christ’s body in the grave; and, 2. Because a friend to carnal men in that, though it was a punishment in itself, yet while it lasted and had dominion over the body of the wicked, it hindered them of that great and just judgment which for sin was due unto them; and this is the third discovery of the manner and way of punishing of the body.
But, (4.) There will then be such things to be seen and heard, which the eye and the ear — to say no more than has been said of the sense of feeling — will see and hear, that will greatly aggravate the punishment of the body in hell; for though the eye is the window, and the ear a door for the soul to look out at, and also to receive in by, yet whatever goeth in at the ear or the eye leaves influence upon the body, whether it be that which the soul delighteth in, or that which the soul abhorreth; for as the eye affecteth the heart, or soul ( Lamentations 3:51) so the eye and ear, by hearing and beholding, doth ofttimes afflict the body. ‘When I heard, my belly trembled — rottenness entered into my bones.’ ( Habakkuk 3:16).
Now, I say, as the body after its resurrection, to damnation, to everlasting shame and contempt ( Daniel 12:2; John 5:29) will receive all its senses again, so it will have matter to exercise them upon, not only to the letting into the soul those aggravations which they by hearing, feeling, and seeing are capable to let in thither, but, I say, they will have matter and things to exercise themselves upon for the helping forward of the torment of the body. Under temporal judgments of old, the body as well as the soul had no ease, day or night, and that not only by reason of what was felt, but by reason of what was heard and seen ‘In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even!
See! why, what shall they see? Why, themselves in hell, with others like them; and this will be a torment to their body. There is bodily torment, as I said, ministered to the body by the senses of the body. What think you?
If a man saw himself in prison, in irons, upon the ladder, with the rope about his neck, would not this be distress to the body, as well as to the mind? To the body, doubtless. Witness the heavy looks, the shaking legs, trembling knees, pale face, and beating and aching heart; how much more, then, when men shall see themselves in the most dreadful place; it is a fearful place, doubtless, to all to behold themselves in that shall come thither ( Luke 16:28).
Again; they shall see others there, and shall by them see themselves. There is an art by which a man may make his neighbor look so ghastly, that he shall fright himself by looking on him, especially when he thinks of himself, that he is of the same show also. It is said concerning men at the downfall of Babylon, that they shall be amazed one at another, for ‘their faces shall be as flames’ ( Isaiah 13:8). And what if one should say, that even as it is with a house set on fire within, where the flame ascends out at the chimneys, out at the windows, and the smoke out at every chink and crevice that it can find, so it will be with the damned in hell. That soul will breathe hell fire and smoke, and coals will seem to hang upon its burning lips; yea, the face, eyes, and ears will seem all to be chimneys and vents for the flame and smoke of the burning which God by His breath hath kindled therein, and upon them, which will be beheld one in another, to the great torment and distress of each other.
What shall I say? Here will be seen devils, and here will be heard howlings and mournings; here will the soul see itself at an infinite distance from God; yea, the body will see it too. In a word, who knows the power of God’s wrath, the weight of sin, the torments of hell, and the length of eternity? If none, then none can tell, when they have said what they can, the intolerableness of the torments that will swallow up the soul, the lost soul, when it is cast away by God, and from Him, into outer darkness for sin. But this much for the cause of the loss of the soul.