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or, THE GROANS OF A LOST SOUL.
THIS scripture was not spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, to show you the state of two single persons only, (as some through ignorance of the drift of Christ in his parables do dream); but to show you the state of the godly and ungodly to the world’s end; as is clear to him that is of an understanding heart. For he spake them to the end that after generations should take notice thereof, and fear, lest they also fall into the same condition.
Now, in my discourse upon these words, I shall not be tedious; but as briefly as I may, I shall pass through the several verses, and lay you down some of the several truths contained therein: and the Lord grant that they may be profitable, and of great advantage to those that read them or hear them read.
The first two or three verses of the parable I shall not spend much time upon, only give you three or four short hints, and so pass to the next verses; for they are the words I do intend most especially to insist upon.
The verses run thus: “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,” etc.
I say, if Jesus had said only this much, There was a certain rich man, which fared sumptuously daily, and a certain beggar laid at his gates full of sores, the world would have made this conclusion of them: The rich man was the happy man. For, at first view, it doth represent such a thing. But take all together — that is, read the whole parable, and you shall find, that there is no man in a worse condition than he; as I shall clearly hold forth afterward.
Again, if a man would judge of men according to outward appearance, he shall ofttimes take his mark amiss. Here is a man who to outward appearance, appears the only blessed man, better by half than the beggar, inasmuch as he is rich, the ‘beggar poor; he is well clothed, but peradventure the beggar is naked; he hath good food, but the beggar would be glad of dog’s meat: “And he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.” The rich. man fares well every day; but the beggar must be glad of a bit; when he can get it. O! who would not be in a rich man’s estate? A wealthy man; sorts of new suits, and dainty dishes every day; enough to make one who minds nothing but his belly, and his back, and his lusts, to say, O that I were in that man’s condition! O that I had things about me, as that man has! Then I should live a life indeed; then should I have heart’s-ease, good store; then I should live pleasantly, and might say to my soul, Soul, be of good cheer; eat, drink, and be merry ( Luke 12:19); thou hast every thing plenty, and art in a most blessed condition.
I say, this might be the conclusion with them that judge according to outward appearance. But if the whole parable be well considered, you will see that which is had in high estimation with men, is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15. And again, that condition that is the saddest condition according to outward appearance, is ofttimes the most excellent. Job 16:20-22. For the beggar had ten thousand degrees the best of it, though to outward appearance his state was the saddest. From whence we shall observe thus much: 1. That those who judge according to outward appearance, do for the most part judge amiss. John 7:24. 2. That they who look upon their outward enjoyments to be tokens of God’s special grace unto them, are also deceived. Revelation 3:17. For as it is here in the parable, a man of wealth, and a child of the devil, may make but one person; or, a. man may have abundance of outward enjoyments, and yet be carried by the devils into eternal burning. Luke 16:23. But this is the trap in which the devil hath caught many thousands of poor souls, namely, by getting them to judge according to outward appearance, or according to God’s outward blessings.
Do but ask a poor, carnal, covetous wretch, how he should knows man to be in a happy state; and he will answer, Those that God blesseth, and giveth abundance of this world to; when, for the most part, they are they that are the cursed men. Alas, poor men! they are so ignorant as to think, that because a man is increased in outward things, and that by a small stock, therefore God doth love that man with a special love, or else he would never do so much for him, never bless him so, and prosper the works of his hands. Ah, poor soul! it is the rich man that goes to hell. And “the rich man died, — and in hell,” mark, “in hell, he lift up his eyes, being in torment.”
Methinks to see how the great ones of the world will go strutting up and down the streets sometimes, it makes me wonder. Surely they look upon themselves to be the only happy men; but it is because they judge according to outward appearance; they look upon themselves to be the only blessed men, when the Lord knows the generality of such are left out of that blessed condition. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” 1 Corinthians 1:26.
I might here enlarge very much, but I shall not; only this much I shall say to you that have much of this world: Have a care that you have not your portion in this world: take heed that it be not said to you hereafter, when you would very willingly have heaven, Remember in your lifetime you had your good things; in your lifetime you had your portion. Psalm 17:14.
And, friend, thou that seekest after this world, and desires? riches, let me ask :his question: Wouldst thou be content that God should put thee off with a portion in this life? Wouldst thou be glad to be kept out of heaven with a back well clothed, and a belly well filled with the dainties of this world? Wouldst thou be glad to have all thy good things in thy lifetime; to have thy heaven to last no longer than while thou dost live in this world?
Wouldst thou be willing to be deprived of eternal happiness and felicity? If thou say, No, then have a care of the world and thy sins; have a care of desiring to be a rich man, lest thy table be matte a snare unto thee ( Psalm 64:22); lest the wealth of this world do bar thee out of glory.
For, as the apostle saith, “They that will be rich fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 1 Timothy 6:9. Thus much in general: but now, particularly, These two men here spoken of (as I said) do hold forth to us the state of the godly and ungodly: the beggar holdeth forth the godly:, and the rich man the ungodly.
But why, under the notion of a rich man, are the ungodly held forth? 1. Because Christ would not have them look too high, as I said before; but that those who have riches would have a care that they be not all their portion. James 1:10-12; 1 Timothy 4:17. 2. Because rich men are most liable to the devil’s temptations; are most ready to be puffed up with pride, stoutness, and cares of this world; in which things they spend most of their time — in lusts, drunkenness, wantonness, idleness, together with other works of the flesh; “For which thing’s sake, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.” Colossians 3:6. 3. Because he would comfort the hearts of his own, which tire most commonly of the poorer sort: for God hath chosen the poor, despised, and base things of this world. 1 Corinthians 1:28. Should God have set the rich man in the blessed state, his own children would have concluded, being poor, that they had no share in the life to come. 4. And again, had not God given such a discovery of the sad condition of those that are for the most part rich men, we should have had men conclude absolutely, that the rich are the blessed men. Nay, though the Lord himself doth so evidently declare, that the, rich ones of the world are for the most part in the saddest condition, yet they, through unbelief, or else presumption, do harden themselves, and seek for the glory of this world, as though the Lord Jesus Christ did not mean as he said, or else that he will say more than shall assuredly come to pass; but let them know that the Lord hath a time to fulfill what he had a time to declare, for the scripture cannot be broken. John 10:35. 5. But observe, the Lord by his word doth not mean those are ungodly who are rich in the world, and no other; for then must all those that are poor, yet graceless and vain men, be saved, and delivered from eternal vengeance; which would be contrary to the word of God, which saith, that together with the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, there are bondmen or servants, and slaves, that cry out at the appearance of the Almighty God, and his Son Jesus Christ to judgment;. Revelation 6:15.
So that though Christ doth say, “There was a certain rich man.” yet :you must understand, he meaneth all the ungodly, rich or poor. Nay, if you will not understand it so now, you shall be made to understand it to be so meant at the day of Christ’s second coming, when all that are ungodly shall stand at the left hand of Christ with pale faces, and guilty consciences, with the vials of the Almighty’s wrath ready to be poured out upon them.
Thus much in brief touching this verse. I might have observed other things from it, but now I forbear, having other things to speak of at this time.
THIS verse doth chiefly hold forth these things: 1. That the saints of God are a poor contemptible people: “There was a certain beggar.” If you understand the word, beggar, to hold forth outward poverty, or scarcity in outward things; such are saints of the Lord, for they are for the most part a poor, despised, contemptible people. But if you allegorize it, and interpret it thus: They are such as beg earnestly for heavenly food; this is also the spirit of the children of God; and it may be, and is a truth in this sense, though not so naturally gathered from this scripture. 2. These words hold forth the distempers of believers, saying, “He was full of sores;” which may signify the many troubles, temptations, persecutions, and afflictions in body and spirit which they meet with while they are in the world; and also the entertainment they meet with at the hands of those ungodly ones who live upon the earth. Whereas it is said, “He was laid at his gate full of sores;” mark, he was laid at his gate, not in his house: that was thought too good for him.; but he was laid at his gate, full of sores. From whence observe, that the ungodly world do not, desire to entertain and receive the poor saints of God into their houses. If they must needs be somewhere near unto them, yet they shall not come into their houses. Shut them out of doors: if they will needs be near us, let them be at the gate. “And he was laid at the gate, full of sores.” Observe, also, that the world are not at all touched with the afflictions of God’s children; for all they are full of sores. A despised, afflicted, tempted, persecuted people the world doth not: pity; no, but rather labor to aggravate their trouble by shutting them out of doors. Sink or swim, what cares the world? they are resolved to disown them; they will give them no entertainment; if the lying in the streets will do them. any good, if hard usage will do them any good, if it to be disowned, rejected, and shut out of doors by the world will do them any good, they shall have enough of that; but otherwise no refreshment, no comfort from the world. “And he was laid at his gate, full of sores.”
By all these words our Lord Jesus doth show us the frame of a Christian’s heart, and also the heart and carriage of worldly men towards the saints of the Lord. The Christian’s heart is held, forth by this, that any thing will content him while he is on this side glory. “And he desired to be fed with the crumbs;” the dogs’ meat, any thing. I say, a Christian will be content with any thing; if he have but enough to keep life and soul together (as we use to say) he is content, he is satisfied. he hath learned (if he hath learned to be a Christian) to be content with any thing: as Paul saith, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” He learns in all conditions to study to love God, to walk with God, to give up himself to God; and if the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table will but satisfy nature, and give him bodily strength, that thereby he may be the more able to walk in the way of God, he is contented. “And he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.” But mark, he had them not; you do not find that he had so much as a crumb, or a scrap, allowed unto him. No; then the dogs will be beguiled; that must be preserved for the dogs.
From whence observe, that the ungodly world do love their dogs better than the children of God. You will say, That is strange. It is so, indeed; yet it is true, as will be clearly manifested. As for instance: how many pounds do some men spend on their dogs, when in the mean while the poor saints of God may starve for hunger? They will built houses for their dogs, when the saints must be glad to wander and lodge in dens and caves of the earth. Hebrews 11:38. And if they be in any of their houses, for the rent thereof they will warn them out, or eject them, or pull down the house over their heads, rather than not rid themselves of such tenants. Again, some men cannot go half a mile from home but they must have dogs at their heels; but they can very willingly go half a score; of miles without the society of a Christian. Nay, if when they are busy with their dogs, they should chance to meet a Christian, they would willingly shift him if they could; they will go on the other side the hedge or the way, rather than they will have any society with him. And if at any time a child of God should come into a house where there are but two or three ungodly wretches, they do commonly wish either themselves or the saint out of doors. And why so? Because they cannot down with the society of a Christian; though if there come in at the same time a dog, or a drunken, swearing wretch (which is worse than a dog), they will make him welcome; he shall sit down with them, and partake of their dainties. And now tell me, you that love your sins and your pleasures, had you not rather keep company with a drunkard, a swearer, a strumpet, a thief, nay, a dog, than with an honesthearted Christian? If you say, No; what means your sour carriage to the people of God? Why do you look on them as if you would eat them up? yet at the very same time, if you can but meet your dog, or a drunken companion, you can fawn upon them, take acquaintance with them, to the tavern or ale-house with them, if it be two or three times in a week; but if the saints of God meet together, pray together, and labor to edify one another, you will stay till doomsday before you will look into the house where they are. Ah! friends, when all comes to all, you will be found to love drunkards, strumpets, dogs, any thing; nay, to serve the devil, rather than to have loving and friendly society with the saints of God. “Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.” Here again you may see, not only the afflicted state of saints of God in this world; but also, that even dogs themselves according to their kind, are more favorable to the saints than the sinful would. Though the ungodly will have no mercy on the saints, yet it is ordered so, that these creatures, dogs, lions, etc, will.
Though the rich man would not entertain him in his house, yet his dogs will come, and do him the best good they can, even to lick his running sores. It was thus with Daniel, when the world was mad against him, and would have thrown him to the lions to be devoured, the lions shut their mouths at him (or rather the Lord did shut them up), so that there was not that hurt befell him, that was desired by the adversaries. Daniel 6. And this I am persuaded of, that; would the creatures do as some men would have them, the saints of God should not walk so quietly up and down the streets, and other places, as they do. And as I said before, so I say again; I am persuaded; that at the day of judgment many men’s conditions and carriages will be so laid open, that it will evidently appear they have been very merciless, and mad against the children of God; insomuch that when the providence of God did fall out so as to cross their expectation, they have been very much offended thereat; as is wary evidently seen in them who set themselves to study how to bring the saints into bondage, and to thrust them into comers, as in these late years. Psalm 31:13. And because God hath in his goodness ordered things otherwise, they have gnashed their teeth thereat. Hence then, let the saints learn not to commit themselves to their enemies. “Beware of men.” Matthew 10:17. They are very merciless men, and will not so much favor you (if they can help it), as you may suppose they may. Nay, unless the over-ruling hand of God, in goodness do order things contrary to their natural inclination, they will not favor you so much as a dog.
Wherefore it is said, “And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried into Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man died also.” This beggar died; that represents the godly: and the rich man died; that represents the ungodly. From whence observe, Neither godly nor ungodly must live always without a change, either by death or judgment. The good man died, and the bad man died. That scripture doth also back this truth, that good and bad must die, marvelous well, where it is said, “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27.
Mark, this doth not say it is so, that men by chance may die; which might be at in the hearts of the ungodly especially, some hope to escape the bitterness of it: but it saith, it is a thing most certain; it is appointed.
God hath decreed it, that since men have fallen from that happy estate that God at the first did set them in, they shall die. Romans 6:23. Now, when it is said, the beggar died, and the rich man died, part of the meaning is, they ceased to be any more in this world; I say, partly the meaning is, but not altogether. Though it be altogether the meaning, when some of the creatures die; yet it is but in part the meaning, when it is said that men, women, or children die; for there is to them something else to be said, more than a barely going out of the world. For if when unregenerate men and women die, there were an end of them, not only in his world, but also in the world to come, they would be happy over what they will be now; for when ungodly men and women die, there is that to come after death that will be very terrible to them, namely, to be carried by the angels of darkness from their death-beds to hell; there to be reserved to the judgment of the great day, when both body and soul shall meet and be united together again, and made capable of undergoing the uttermost vengeance of the Almighty to all eternity. This is that, I say, which doth follow a man that is not born again, after death; as is dear from. 1 Peter 3:18,19, where, before speaking of Christ being raised again by the power of the eternal Spirit, he saith, “By which,” that is, by that Spirit, “he went and preached to the spirits in prison.” But what is the meaning of this? Why, thus much, That those souls who were once alive in the world, in he time or days in which Noah lived, being disobedient in their times to the calls of God, by his Spirit in Noah (for so I understand it), were, according to that which was foretold by that preacher, overcome by the flood, deprived of life, and are now in prison. Mark, he preached to the spirits in prison (he doth not say, who were in prison); under chains of darkness, reserved, or kept; there in that; prison, in which now they are; ready like villains in the jail, to be brought before the judgment-seat of Christ at the great day. But of this I shall speak further by and by.
Now, if this one truth, that men must die and depart this world, and either enter into joy, or else into prison, to be reserved to the day of judgment, were believed, we should not have so many wantons walk up and down the streets as there do; at least it would put a mighty check to their filthy carriages, so that they would not, could not, walk so basely and sinfully as they do. Belshazzar, notwithstanding he was so far from the fear of God as he was, yet when he did but see God was offended, and threatened him for his wickedness, it made him hang down his head, and knock his knees together. Daniel 5:5,6. If yea read the verses before, you will find he was careless, and satisfying his lusts in drinking, and playing the wanton with, his concubines; but so soon as he did perceive the finger of an handwriting, “then,” saith the scripture, “the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” And when Paul told Felix of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, it made him tremble.
But this is the misery, the devil doth labor by all means, as to keep out other things that; are good, so to keep out of the heart, as much as in him lies, the thoughts of passing from this life into another world; for he knows, if he can but keep them from the serious thoughts of death, he shall the more easily keep them in their sins, and so from closing with Jesus Christ. As Job saith, “Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.” Which makes them say to God, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” Job 22:14. Because there is no fear of death and judgment to come, therefore they do put off God and his ways, and spend their days in their sins, and in a moment, that is, before they are aware, go down to the grave. Job 22:17. And thus it fared also with the man spoken of in Luke 12:20. This man, instead of thinking on death, thought how he might make his barns bigger; but in the midst of his business in the world, he lost his soul before he was aware, supposing that death had been many years off. But God said unto him, Thou feel, thou troublest thyself about things of this life; thou puttest off the thoughts of departing this world, when this night thy soul shall be taken from thee; or, This night, they, that is, devils will fetch away thy soul from thee. And hence it comes to pass, by men’s not being exercised with the thoughts of departing this life, that they are so unexpectedly to themselves and their neighbors, taken away from the pleasures and profits, yea, and all the enjoyments they busy themselves with while they live in this world. And hence it is again, that you have some in your towns and cities that are so suddenly taken away; some from haunting the alehouses, others from haunting the whorehouses, others from playing and gaming, others from cares and covetous desires after this world, unlooked for as by themselves, or their companions. Hence it is also, that men do so wonder at such tidings as these, that there is such a one dead, such a one departed; it is because they do so little consider both the transitoriness of themselves and their neighbors. For had they but their thoughts well exercised about the shortness of this life, and the danger that will befall such as do miss of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would make them more wary and sober, and spend more time in the service of God, and be more delighted and diligent in inquiring after the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the deliverer from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10. For, as I said before, it is evident that they who, live after the flesh in the lusts thereof do not really and seriously think on death, and the judgment that doth follow after; neither do they indeed endeavor so to do; for did they, it would make them say with holy Job, “All the days of my appointed time will wait, till my change come.” Job 14:14.
And, as I said before, not only the wicked, but also the godly, have their time to depart this life; “And the beggar died.” The saints of the Lord, they must be deprived of this life also; they must yield up the ghost into the hands of the Lord their God; they must also be separated from their wives, children, husbands, friends, goods, and all that they have in the world or God hath decreed it, “It is appointed,” namely, by the Lord: “for men once to die;” and we must “appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,” as it is, 2 Corinthians 5:10. But it may be objected, If the godly die as well as the wicked, and if the saints must appear before the judgment-seat, as well as the sinners; then what advantage have the godly more than the ungodly? and how can the saints be in a better condition than the wicked? Answer. Read this verse over again, and you will find a marvellous difference between them, as much as is between heaven and hell, everlasting; joy and everlasting torments: for you find, that when the beggar died, who represents the godly, he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, or into everlasting joy. But the ungodly are not so ( Psalm 1.), but are driven away in their wickedness ( Proverbs 14:32); hurried by the devils into the bottomless pit, for it saith, “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” When the ungodly die, their misery beginneth; for then appear the devils:, like so many lions, waiting every moment till the soul depart from the body. Sometimes they are visible to the dying party, but sometimes more invisible; but always this is certain, they never miss of the soul, if it do die out of the Lord Jesus Christ; but do haul it away to the prison, as I said before; there to be fermented and reserved until the great and dreadful day of judgment; at which day they must, body and soul, receive a final sentence from the righteous judge, and from that time be shut out from the presence of God into everlasting woe and distress. But the godly, when the time of their departure is at hand, then also are the angels of the Lord at hand; yea, these are ready, waiting upon the soul to conduct it safe into Abraham’s bosom. I do not say but the devils are ofttimes very busy doubtless, and attending the saints in their sickness; ay, and. no question but they would willingly deprive the soul of glory.
But here is the comfort; as the devils come from hell to devour the soul (if it be possible) at its departure; so the angels of the Lord come from heaven, to watch over and conduct the soul (in spite of the devils) safe into Abraham’s bosom.
David had the comfort of this, and speaks it forth for the comfort of his brethren ( Psalm 34:7), swing, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them? Mark, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about his children, to deliver them. From what? From their enemies; of which the devil is not the least. This is an excellent, comfort at any time, to have the holy angels of God to attend a poor man or woman; but especially it is comfortable in the time of distress, at the time of death, when the, devils beset the soul with all the power that hell can afford them. But now it may be, that the glorious angels of God do not appear at the first to the view of the soul; nay, rather, hell stands before it, and the devils ready, as if they would carry it thither; but this is the comfort, the angels do always appear at the last, and will not fail the soul, but will carry it safe into Abraham’s bosom. Ah friends! consider; here is an ungodly man upon his death-bed, and he hath none to speak for him, none to speak comfort- unto him; but it is not so with the children of God, for they have the Spirit to comfort them. there are the ungodly, and they have no Christ to pray for their safe conduct to glory; but the saints have an intercessor. Job 17:9. Here are the world; when they die, they have none of the angels of God to attend upon them; but the saints have their company. In a word, the unconverted person when he dies, sinks into the bottomless pit; but the saints when they die, ascend with, and by the angels, into Abraham’s bosom, or into unspeakable glory. Luke 23:43.
Again, it is said, that the rich man when he died, was buried, or put into the earth; but when the beggar died, he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The one is a very excellent style, where it saith, he was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom; it denotes the excellent condition of the saints of God, as said before; and not only so, but also the preciousness of the death of the saints in the eyes of the Lord. <19B615> Psalm 116:15. After generations may see how precious in the sight of the Lord the death of his saints is, when he saith, they are carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.
Thus many times the Lord adorneth the death and departure of his saints, to hold forth to after generations how excellent they are in his eyes. It is said of Enoch, that God took him; of Abraham, that he died in a good old age; of Moses, that the Lord buried him; of Elijah, that he was takes up into heaven; that the saints die in the Lord; that they sleep in Jesus; that they rest from their labors, and that their works follow them; that they are under the altar; that they are with Christ; that they are in light; that they are to come with the Lord Jesus to judge the world. All which sayings signify thus ranch, that to die as a saint, is a very great honor and dignity.
But the ungodly are not so. The rich man dies, and is buried; he is carried from his dwelling to his grave, and there he is hid in the dust; and his body doth not so fast moulder and come to nought there, as his name doth stink as fast in the world. As saith the holy scripture, “The name of the wicked shall rot.” And indeed, the names of the godly are not in so much honor after their departure, but the wicked and their names do as much rot. What a dishonor to posterity was the death of Baham, Aging, Ahitophel, Haman, Judas, Herod, with the rest of their companions!
Thus the wicked have their names written in the earth, and they do perish and rot; but the names of the saints east forth a dainty savor to following generations. And that the Lord Jesus doth signify where he faith, the godly are carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; and that the wicked are nothing worth, where he saith, the ungodly die and are buried.
THE former verse speaks only of the departure of the ungodly out of this life, together with the glorious conduct that the godly have into the kingdom of their Father. Now, our Lord doth show in this verse, partly what doth and shall befall the reprobate, after this life is ended, where he saith, “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” That is, the ungodly, after they depart this life, do lift up their eyes in hell. From these words may be observed these things. 1. That there is a Hell for souls to be tormented in, when. this life is ended.
Mark, after he was dead and buried, “In hell he lift up his eyes.” 2. That all that are ungodly, and do live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they die, they go into Hell. He died, and was buried, “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” 3. That some are fast asleep, trod so secure in their sins, that they scarce know well where they are till they come into Hell, and that I gather from these words, “In hell he lift up his eyes.” He was asleep before, but hell makes him lift up his eyes.
As I said before, it is evident there is a he for souls (yea, and bodies too) to be tormented in after they depart this life, as is clear; first, because the Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot lie, did say, that after the sinner was dead and buried, “In hell he lift up his eyes.”
Now, if it be objected, that by hell is here meant the grave, that I plainly deny: 1. Because there the body is not sensible of torment or ease; but in that hell into which the spirits of the damned depart, they are sensible of torment, and would very willingly be free from it, to enjoy ease, which they are sensible of the want of; as is clearly discovered in this parable, “Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue.” 2. It is not meant the grave, but; some other place; because the bodies, so long as hey lie there, are not capable of lifting up their eyes to see the glorious condition of the children of God, as the souls of the damned do. “In hell he lift up his eyes.” 3. It cannot be the grave; for then it must follow, that the soul was buried there with the body, which cannot, stand with such a dead state as is here mentioned; for he saith, “The rich man died;” that is, his soul was separated from his body; “and in hell he lift up his eyes.”
If it be again objected, That there is no hell but in this life, that I do also deny; as I said before, after he was dead and buried, “in hell he lift up his eyes.” And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art, that if thou close not in savingly with the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on what he hath done, and is doing in his own person for sinners, thou wilt find such a hell after this life is ended, that thou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever. And thou that art wanton, and dost make but a mock at the servants of the Lord, when they tell thee of the torments of hell, thou wilt find, that when thou departest out of this life, that hell, even the hell which is after this life, will meet thee in thy journey thither, and will, with its hellish crew, give thee such a sad salutation, that thou wilt not forget it to all eternity; when that scripture comes to be fulfilled on thy soul in Isaiah 14:9,10, “Hell from beneath it moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth: it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they,” that is, that are in hell, “shall say, Art thou also become weak as we? Art thou become like unto us?” Oh! sometimes when I have had but thoughts of going to hell, and consider the everlastingness of their ruin that fall in thither, it hath stirred me up rather to seek to the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver me from thence, than to slight it, and make a mock at it. “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” The second thing I told you was this, that all the ungodly that live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they depart this life, do descend into hell. This is also verified by the words in this parable, where Christ saith, “He died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes.” As the tree falls, so shall it lie, Ecclesiastes 11:3, whether it be to heaven or hell. And as Christ said to the thief on the cross, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise; even so the devil, in the like manner, may say unto the soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me in hell. See then what a miserable case he that dies in an unregenerate state is in. He departs from a long sickness to a longer hell; from the gripings of death to the everlasting torments of hell. “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” Ah, friends! if you were but yourselves, you would have a care of your souls; if you did but regard, you would see how mad they are that slight the salvation of their souls. O what will it profit thy soul to have pleasure in this life, and torment in hell! Mark 8:36. Thou hadst, better part with all thy sins, and pleasures, and companions, or whatsoever thou delightest in, than to have soul and body east into hell. Mark 9:43. O then do not neglect our Lord Jesus Christ, lest thou drop down to hell! Hebrews 2:3. Consider, would it not wound thee to thine heart, to come upon thy death-bed, and instead of having the comfort of a well-spent life, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the comfort of his glorious Spirit, to have, first, the sight of an ill-spent life, thy sins flying in thy face, thy conscience uttering itself with thunderclaps against thee, the thoughts of God terrifying thee, death, with his merciless paw, seizing upon thee, the devils standing ready to scramble for thy soul, and hell enlarging herself, and ready ‘to swallow thee up; and then an eternity of misery and torment attending upon thee, from which there will be no release. For, mark; death doth not come alone to an unconverted soul, but with such company as, wast thou but sensible of it, would make thee tremble. I pray consider that scripture: Revelation 6:8, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse; and his name that sat upon him was Death, and hell followed with him.”
Mark, death doth not come alone to the ungodly; no, but hell goeth with him. O miserable comforters! O miserable society! Here come death and hell unto thee. Death goeth into thy body, and separates body and soul asunder; hell stands without (as I may say) to embrace, or rather, to crush thy soul between its everlasting grinders. Then thy mirth, thy joy, thy sinful delights, will be ended when it comes to pass. Lo, it will come.
The third thing, you know, that we did observe from these words, was this, that some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know where they are, until they come into hell. And that I told you, I gather by these words, “In hell he lift up his eyes:” mark, it was in hell that he lift up his eyes. Now, some do understand by these words, that he came to himself, or began to consider himself, or to think with himself, in what a state he was, and what he was deprived of; which is still a confirmation of the thing laid down by me. There it is that they come to themselves, that is, there they are sensible where they are indeed. Thus it fares with some men, that they scarce know where they are, till they lift up their eyes in hell. It is with these people as with those that fall down in a swoon. You know if a man fall down in a swoon in one room, though you take him up and carry him into another, yet he is not sensible where he is, till he comes to himself, and lifts up his eyes.
Truly, thus, as it is to be feared, it is with many poor souls, they are so senseless, so hard, so seared in their conscience ( 1 Timothy 4:2), that they are very ignorant of their state; and when death comes, it strikes them, as it were, into a swoon (especially if they die suddenly), and so they are hurried away, and scarce know where they are, till in hell they lift up their eyes. This is he who dieth in his full strength, fully at ease and quiet. Job 21:23.
Of this sort are they spoken of in Psalm 73, where it saith, “There are no bands in their death; but their strength is firm. They are not troubled as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” And again, “They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment,” mark, “in a moment,” before they are aware, “they go down into the grave.” Job 21:13.
Indeed, this is too much known by woeful and daily experience.
They are neither sensible of heaven nor of hell; of sin nor of a Savior; speak to them of their condition and the state of their souls, and you shall find them as ignorant as if they had no souls to regard. Others, though they lie ready to die, yet they are busying themselves about their outward affairs, as though they should certainly live here, even to live and enjoy the same for ever. Again, come to others, speak to them about the state of their souls; though they have no more experience of the new birth than a beast, yet will they speak as confidently of their eternal, state, and the welfare of their souls, as if they had the most excellent experience of any man or woman in the world saying, “I shall have peace” ( Deuteronomy 29:19), when, as I said even now, the Lord knows they are as ignorant of the new birth, of the nature and operation of faith, of the witness of the Spirit, as if there were no new birth, no faith, no witness of the Spirit of Christ, in any of the saints in the world. Nay, thus many of them are, even an hour or less before their departure. Ah, poor souls! though they may go away here like a lamb, as the world says, yet if you could but follow them a little, to stand and Listen; soon after their departure, it is to be feared, you shall hear them roar like a lion, at their first entrance into hell, far worse than ever did Korah, and his company, when they went down quick into the ground. Numbers 16:31-35.
Now, by this one thing doth the devil take great advantage on the hearts of the ignorant, suggesting to them, that because the party deceased departed so quietly, without all doubt they are gone, to rest and joy; when, alas! it is to be feared, the reason why they went away so quietly, was rather because they were senseless and hardened in their conscience; yea, dead before in sin and trespasses. For had they but some awakenings on their death-beds, as some have had, they would have made all the town ring of their doleful condition; but because, they are seared and ignorant, and so departed quietly, therefore the world takes heart at grass (as we use to say) and makes no great matter of living and dying they cannot tell how: “Therefore pride compasseth them as a chain.” Psalm 73:5,6. But let them look to themselves; for if they have not an interest in the Lord Jesus now, while they live in the world, they will, whether they die raging or still, go unto the same place, and lift up their eyes in hell.
O my friends, did you but know what a miserable condition they are in, that go out of this world without an interest in the Son of God, it would make you smite upon your thigh, and in the bitterness of your souls cry out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?” Acts 2:37.
SOMETHING in brief I have observed from the first part of this verse, namely, from these words, “And in hell he lift up his eyes.” And indeed I have observed but some things; for they are very full of matter, and many things :might be taken notice of in them. There is one thing more that I might touch upon, as couched in this saying, and that is this. Methinks the Lord Jesus Christ doth hereby signify, that men are naturally unwilling to see or to take notice of their sad state; I say by nature; but, though now the; are willingly ignorant, yet in hell they shall lift up their eyes. That is, in hell they shall see and understand their miserable condition; and therefore to these words, “In hell he lift up his eyes,” he adds, “being in torments.” As if he had said, Though once they shut their eyes; though once they were willingly ignorant ( 2 Peter 3:5); yet when they depart into hell, they shall be so miserably handled and tormented, that they shall be forced to open their eyes. While men live in this world, and are in a natural state, they will have a good conceit of themselves, and of their condition; they will conclude that they are Christians, that Abraham is their father ( Matthew 3:7,8), trod that their state is as good as the best; they will conclude they have faith, the Spirit; good hope, an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ: but when they drop into hell, and lift; up their eyes there, and behold, first their souls to be in extreme torment; their dwelling to be the bottomless pit; their company thousands of damned souls, also the innumerable company of devils; and the hot scalding vengeance of God, not only to drop, but to fall very violently upon them; then they will be awakened, who all their lifetime were in a sleep. I say, when this comes to pass for lo, it will — then in hell they shall lift up their eyes; in the midst of torment they shall lift up their eyes.
Again, you may observe in these words, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, beginning in torments ,” that ungodly men will smart for their sins, in the torments of hell. Now, here I am put to stand, when I consider the torments of hell into which the damned do fall. O unspeakable torments! O endless torments! Now, that thy soul might be made to flee from those intolerable torments into which the damned do go, shall show you briefly what are the torments of hell. First, by the names of hell. Secondly, by the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there. 1. The names. It is called a never-dying worm ( Mark 9.); it is called an oven-fire, hot ( Malachi 4:1); it is called a furnace, a fiery furnace, ( Matthew 13.); it is called the bottomless pit, the unquenchable fire, fire and brimstone, hellfire, a stream of fire, the lake of fire, devouring fire, everlasting fire, eternal fire. Revelation 20.; Matthew 3.; Mark 9. 1. One part of thy torments will be this: Thou shalt have at full sight of all thy ill spent life from first to last. Though here thou cause to-day, and forget it by tomorrow; yet there thou shalt be made to remember how thou didst sin against God at such a time, and in such a place, for such a thing, and with such a one, which will be a hell unto thee. Psalm 1:21. God will “set them (thy sins) in order before thine eyes.” 2. Thou shalt have the guilt of them all lie heavy on thy soul, not only the guilt of one or two, but the guilt of them all together, and there they shall lie in thy soul, as if thy belly were full of pitch, and set on a light fire. Here men can sometimes think on their sins with delight, but there with unspeakable torment; for that I understand to be the fire that Christ speaketh of, which shall never be quenched. Mark 9:43-47. While men live here, O how doth the guilt of one sin sometimes crush the soul! It makes a man in such a plight, that he is weary of his life; so that he can neither rest at home nor abroad, neither up nor in bed; nay, I do not know, but they have been so tormented with the guilt of one sinful thought, that they have been even at their wits’ ends, and have hanged themselves. But now when thou comest into hell, and hast not only one, or two, or an hundred sins, with the guilt of them all on thy seal and body; but all the sins that ever thou didst commit since thou camest into the world, all together clapped on thy conscience at one time, as one should clap a red hot iron to thy breast, and there to continue to all eternity; this is miserable. 3. Again, then thou shalt have brought into thy remembrance, the slighting of the gospel of Christ. Here thou shalt consider how willing Christ was to come into the world to save sinners, and for what a trifle thou didst reject him. This is plainly held forth in Isaiah 28, where, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of salvation ( Isaiah 28:16), he saith of them that reject the gospel, that when the overflowing scourge doth pass through the earth (which I understand to be at the end of the world), then saith he, It shall take you: morning by morning, by day and by night, shall it pass over you; that is, continually without any intermission; — and it, shall be a vexation only to understand the report. A vexation, that is, a torment, or a great part of hell, only to understand the report, to understand the good tidings that came into the world, by Christ’s death, for poor sinners. And you will find this verily, to be the mind of the Spirit, if you compare it with Isaiah 53:1, where he speaks of men’s turning their backs upon the tenders of God’s grace in the gospel, to saith, “Who hath believed our report?” or, the gospel declared by us. Now this will be a mighty torment to the ungodly, when they shall understand the goodness of God was so great, that he even sent His Son out of his bosom to die for sinners, and yet that they should be so foolish, as to put him off from one time to another; that they should be so foolish, as to lose heaven and Christ, and eternal life in glory, for the society of a company of drunkards; that they should lose their souls for a little sport, for this world, for a strumpet, for that which is lighter than vanity and nothing; I say, this will be a very great torment unto thee. 4. Another part of thy torment will be this: Thou shalt see thy friends, thy acquaintance, thy neighbors; nay, it may be thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thy children, thy brother, thy sister, with others, in the kingdom of heaven, and thyself thrust out. Luke 13:28. There shall be weeping, etc, when you shall see Abraham (your father), and Isaac, and Jacob (together with your brethren), the prophets, in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out. Nay, saith he, “They shall come from the east, and from the west;” that is, those that thou didst never see in all thy life before, and they shall sit down with thy friends, and thy neighbors, thy wife, and children, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou, for thy sins and disobedience, shalt be shut out, nay, thrust out. O wonderful torment! 5. Again, thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls, with an innumerable company of devils, to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world, the very thoughts of the devil’s appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble, and thine hair ready to stand upright on thy head. But O! what wilt thou do, when not only the supposition of the devil’s appearing, but the real society of all the devils of hell will be with thee, howling and yelling, screeching and routing in such a hideous manner, that thou wilt be even at thy wits’ end, and be ready to run stark mad again for anguish and torment 6. Again, that thou mightst be tormented to purpose, the mighty God of heaven will lay as great wrath and vengeance upon thee as ever he can, by the might of his glorious power. As I said before, thou shalt have his wrath, not by drops; but by whole showers shall it come, thunder, thunder, upon thy body and soul, so fast and so thick, that thou shalt be tormented out of measure. And so saith the scripture, speaking of the wicked, “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” when the saints shall be admiring his goodness and glory. 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10.
Again, this thou shalt have, as I said before, without any intermission; thou shalt not have any ease so long as while a man may turn himself round; thou shalt have it always, every hour, day and. night; for their worm never dies, but always gnaws, and their fire is never quenched, as it is written in Mark 9.
Again, in this condition thou must be for ever, and that is as sad as all the rest. For if a man were to have all his sins laid to his charge, and communion with the devils, and as ranch wrath as the great God of heaven can inflict upon him, — I say, if it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there won’t be ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance: bat here is thy misery; this is thy state for ever; here thou must be for ever. When thou lookest about thee, and seest what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think this again, This is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousand years as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the see, or sands on the sea-shore, yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word, EVER, how will it, torment thy soul!
Friends, I have only given a very short touch of the torments of hell. O! I am set, I am set, and am not able to utter what my mind conceives of the torments of hell Yet let me say to thee, accept of God’s mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, lest thou feel that with thy conscience which I cannot express with my tongue, and say, “I am sorely tormented in this flame.” “And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom:” When the damned are in this pitiful state, surrounded with fears, with terrors, with torment and vengeance, one thing they shall have, which is this, they shall see the happy and blessed state of God’s children: “He seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom;” which, as I said before, is the happy state of the saints when this life is ended. This now shall be so far from being an ease unto them, that it shall most wonderfully aggravate or heighten their torment, as I said before. There shall be weeping, or cause of lamentation, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, and themselves thrust out. “He seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.” observe, Those that die in their sins are far from going to heaven. And indeed, it is just with God to deal with them that die in their sins, according to what they have done, and to make them who are .far from righteousness now, to stand far from heaven to all eternity. Hearken to this, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness, and that are resolved to go on in your sins, — when you die you will be far from heaven; you will see Lazarus, but it will be afar off.
These are some of the things the damned do behold, as soon as they come into torment. Mark, he seeth Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. Lazarus, who was he? Why, even he that was so slighted, so disregarded, so undervalued, by this ungodly one while he was in the world: he seeth Lazarus in his bosom.
From whence observe, That those who live and die the enemies of the saints of God, let them be ever so great and stout, let them bear ever so much sway while they are in the world, let them brag and boast ever so much while they are here, they shall in spite of their teeth see the saints, yea, the poor saints, even the Lazaruses, or the ragged ones that belong to Jesus, to be in a better condition than themselves. O who do you think was in the best condition? who do you think saw himself in the best condition? — he that was in hell, or he that was in heaven? — he that was in darkness, or he that was in light? he that was in everlasting joy, or he that was in everlasting torments? The one with God, Christ, saints, angels; the other in tormenting flames, under the curse of God’s eternal hatred, with the devil and his angels, together within innumerable company of howling, roaring, cursing, ever-burning reprobates? Certainly this observation will be easily proved to be true here in this world, by him that looks upon it with an understanding heart, and will clear itself to be true in the world to come, by such as shall go either to heaven or to hell.
Another observation from these words, “And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,” is this: they that are the persecutors of the saints of the Lord now in this world, shall see the Lord’s persecuted ones to be they that are so highly esteemed by the Lord, as to be in Abraham’s bosom (in everlasting glory); though the enemies to the children of God did so lightly esteem them, that they scorned to let them gather up the dog’s meat that fell under their table. This is also verified, and held forth plainly by this parable. And therefore be not grieved, O you that are tempted, persecuted, afflicted, sighing, praying saints of the Lord, though your adversaries look upon you now with a disdainful, surly, rugged, proud, and haughty countenance, yet the time shall come when they shall spy you in Abraham’s bosom!
I might enlarge upon these things, but shall leave them to the Spirit of the Lord, which can better by ten thousand degrees enlarge them on thy heart and conscience, than I can upon a piece of paper. Therefore, leaving these to the blessing of the Lord, I shall come to the next verse, and shall be brief in speaking to that also, and so pass to the rest.
CHAPTER - and he cried, and said father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger, in water, and cool my tongue; for, I am tormented in this flame. Luke 16:24.
YOU know I told you, that there is a discovery of the departure of the godly and the ungodly out of this life, where he saith the beggar died, and the rich man also died. The next verse is a, discovery of the proper places, both of the godly and ungodly after death; one being in Abraham’s bosom, or in glory; the other in hell. Now, here is a discovery of part of the too late repentance of the ungodly, when they are dropped down into hell. “And he cried, and. said, Father Abraham, have mercy upon me.”
From the words, “And he erred,” we may observe, first, What a change the ungodly will have when they come into hell “He cried .” It is likely he was laughing, jesting, jeering, drinking, mocking, swearing, cursing, prating, persecuting the godly in his prosperity, among his filthy companions But now the case is otherwise; now he is in another frame, now his proud? stout, currish carriage is come down. “And he cried.” The laughter of the ungodly will not last always, but will be sure to end in a cry. “The triumphing of the wicked is short.” Job 20:5. Consider, you must have a change, either here, or in hell. If you be not new creatures, regenerate persons, new-born babes in this world, before you go hence, your note will be changed, your conditions will be changed; for if you come into hell, you must cry. O, did but the singing drunkards, when they are making merry on the alehouse bench, think on this, it, would make them change their note, and cry, What shall I do? Whither shall I go when I die? But as I said before, the devil, as he labors to get poor souls to follow their sins, so he labors also to keep the thoughts of eternal damnation out of their minds.
And indeed these two things are so nearly linked together, that the devil cannot well get the soul to go on in sin with delight, unless he can keep the thoughts of that terrible after-clap out of their minds.
But let them know, that it shall not always be thus with ‘hem; for if when they depart, they drop down into eternal destruction, they stroll have such a sense of their sins, and the punishment due to the, same, that it shall make them to cry. “And he cried.” O what an alteration will there be among the ungodly when they go out of this world. It may be, a fortnight, or a month, before their departure, they were light, stout, surly; drinking themselves drunk, slighting God’s people, mocking at goodness, and delighting in sin following the world, seeking after riches, faring deliciously, keeping company with the bravest; but now they are dropped down into hell, they cry. A little while ago they were painting their faces, feeding their lusts, following their whores, robbing their neighbors, telling lies, following plays and sports to pass away the time; but now they are in hell, they do cry. It may be last year they heard some good sermons, were invited to receive heaven, were told their sins should be pardoned if they closed in with Jesus; but refusing his proffers and slighting the grace that was once tendered, they are now in hell, and do cry.
Before, they had so much time, they thought that they could not tell how to spend it, unless it were in hunting, and whoring, in dancing, and playing, and spending whole hours, yea, days, nay, weeks, in the lusts of the flesh: but when they depart into another place, and begin to lift up their eyes in hell, and consider their miserable and irrecoverable condition, they will cry.
O what a condition wilt thou fall into, when thou dost depart this world!
If thou depart unconverted, and not born again, thou hadst better have been smothered the first hour thou wast born; thou hadst better have been plucked one limb from another; thou hadst better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, nay, any other creature in the visible world, than to die unconverted; and this thou wilt find to be true, when in hell thou dost lift thine eyes, and dost cry.
Here then, before we go any further, you may see that it is not without good ground that these words are spoken by our Lord, that when any of the ungodly do depart into hell, they will cry. Cry: why so? 1. They will cry to think that they should be cut off from the land of the living, never more to have any footing therein. 2. They will cry to think that the gospel of Christ should be so often proffered to them, and yet they are not profited by it. 3. They will cry to think that now, though they would never so willingly repent and be saved, yet they are past all recovery. 4. They will cry to think that they should be so foolish as to follow their pleasures, when others were following Christ. Luke 13:28. 5. They will cry to think that they must be separated from God, Christ, and the kingdom of heaven, and that for ever. 6. To think that their crying will now do them no good. 7. To think that at the day of judgment they must stand at the left hand of Christ, among an innumerable company of damned ones. 8. They will cry to think, that Lazarus, whom once they slighted, must be of them that must sit down with Christ to judge, or together with Christ, to pass a sentence of condemnation on their souls for ever. 1 Corinthians 6:2,3. 9. They will cry to think, that when the judgment is over, and others are taken into the everlasting kingdom of glory, then they must depart back again into that dungeon of darkness from whence they came out (to appear before the terrible tribunal), where they shall be tormented so long as eternity lasts, without the least intermission or ease.
How sayst thou, O thou wanton, proud, swearing, lying, ungodly wretch! whether this be to be slighted and made a mock at? And again, tell me, now if it be not better to leave sin and to close in with Christ Jesus, notwithstanding that reproach thou shalt meet with for so doing, than to live a little while in this world in pleasures, and feeding thy lusts, in neglecting the welfare of thy soul, and refusing to be justified by Jesus; and in a moment to drop down to hell, and to cry? O consider; I say, consider betimes, and put not off the tenders of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, lest you lift up your eyes in hell, and cry for anguish of spirit. “And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus,” etc.
These words do not only hold forth the lamentable condition of the damned, and their lamentable howling and crying out under their anguish of spirit, but also they do signify to us (as I said before) their too late repentance; and also that they would very willingly, if they might, be set at liberty from that everlasting misery, that by their sins they have plunged themselves into. I say, these words do hold a desire that the damned have, to be delivered from those torments, that they now are in: “O father Abraham,” saith he, “have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.”… However, or whosoever Abraham is, yet these truths may be observed from the words: 1. That the damned, when in an irrecoverable state, will seek for, or desire deliverance from the wrath that they are, and shall be in, for eternity. 2. That they will pray (if I may so call it) earnestly for deliverance from their miserable state. These two things are clear from the words. For mark, he not only said, “Father Abraham have mercy upon me;” but he cried, and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me.” From whence take a third observation, and that is, there is a time coming, wherein though men shall both cry and pray, they are likely to have no mercy at the hand of God for so was this man served, as I shall further show by and by, when I come to it.
Some people are so deluded by the devil, as to think, that God is so merciful, as to own and regard any thing for prayer. They think any thing will go for current and good satisfaction, while they are here in this world; through ignorance of the true nature of the mercy of God, and the knowledge in what way God is satisfied for sinners. Now, I say, through ignorance they think, that if they do but mutter over some form of prayers, though they know not what they say, nor what they request, yet God is satisfied, yea, very well satisfied with their doings; when alas! there is nothing less. O friends, I beseech you to look about you, and seek in good earnest for the Spirit of Christ, so to help you now to strive and pray, and to enable you to lay hold on Christ, that your souls may be saved; lest the time come, that though you cry and pray, and wish also that you had laid hold on the Lord Jesus, yet you must and shall be damned.
Then again, you may see that though God be willing to save sinners at some time, yet this time doth not always last. No; he that can find in his heart to turn his back upon Jesus Christ now, shall have the back turned upon him hereafter, when he may cry and pray for mercy, and yet go without it. God will have a time to meet with them that now do not seek after him: they shall have a time, yea time enough hereafter to repent their folly, and to befool themselves, for turning their backs upon the Lord Jesus Christ. “I will laugh at their calamities,” saith he, “and mock when their fear cometh. Proverbs 1:26.
Again, this should admonish us to take time while it is proffered, lest we repent us of our unbelief and rebellion when we are deprived of it. Ah friends! time is precious, an hour’s time to hear a sermon is precious. I have sometimes thought thus with myself: Set the case, that the Lord should send two or three of his servants, the ministers of the gospel, to hell among the damned, with this commission, Go ye to hell, and preach my grace to those that are there; let your sermon be an hour long, and hold forth the merits of my Son’s birth, righteousness, death, resurrection, ascension and intercession, with all my love in him; and proffer it to them, telling them, that now once, do I proffer the means of reconciliation to them. They who are now roaring, being past hope, would then leap at the least proffer of mercy. Oh! they that could spend whole days, weeks, nay years, in rejecting the Son of God, would now be glad of one tender of that mercy. “Father,” saith he, “have mercy on me.”
Again, from these words you may observe, that mercy would be welcome, when souls are under judgment. Now this soul is in the fire, now he is under the wrath of God, now he is in hell, there to be tormented, now he is with the devils and damned spirits, now he feels the vengeance of God, Now! oh now have mercy upon me!’ Here you may see, that mercy is prized by them that are in hell! They would be glad if they could have it. “Father, have mercy on me; for my poor soul’s sake, send me a little mercy.” “And send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.”
As, 1. To have the company of a Lazarus granted to them: “Father, Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus.” Now Lazarus was he that was beloved of God, and also he that was hated of them. Therefore, 2. Observe, That those saints that in their lifetime the sinner could not endure, now they are departed, he would be glad to have society with them: ‘O now send Lazarus! Though the time was when I cared not for him; yet now let me have some society with him.’
Though the world disregard the society of God’s children now, yet there is a time coming, in which they would be glad to have the least company with them. Nay, do but observe, those of the saints that are now most rejected by them, even from them shall they be glad of comfort, if it might be. ‘Send Lazarus; he that I slighted more than my dogs, he that I could not endure should come into my house, but must lie at my gate, send him: now Lazarus shall be welcome to me; now I desire some comfort from him.’
But he shall go without it.
From whence again, observe, That there is a time coming, O ye surly, dogged persecutors of the saints, that they shall slight you, as much as ever you slighted them. You have given them many a hard word, told many a lie of them, given them many a blow: and now in your greatest need and extremity they shall not pity you, the righteous shall rather rejoice when he seeth the vengeance of God upon thee. Psalm 58:10. “And send Lazarus.” From whence observe, That any of the saints shall then be owned by you to be saints.. Now you look upon them to be of a sect, with Hymeneus and Philetus; but then you shall see them to be the Lazaruses of God, even God’s dear children. Though now the saints of the Lord will not be owned by you, because they are beggarly, low, poor, contemptible among you; yet the day is coming that you shall own them, desire their company, and wish for the least courtesy from them. “Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
Thus shall the souls that abide in their sins, cry out in the bitterness of their spirits, with wonderful anguish and torment of conscience, without intermission — “ That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue!” That he, namely, the man who before, I scorned should eat with the dogs of my flock — that before I slighted and had no regard of that I shut out of door — send him, “that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.”
Now these words, “That he may dip the tip of his finger in water,”... do hold forth the least friendship or favor; as if he should have said, Now I would be glad of the least mercy, now I would be glad of the least comfort, though it be but one drop of cold water on the tip of his finger.’ One would have thought that this had been a small request, a small courtesy.
One drop of water, what is that? Take a pail full of it, if that will do thee any good. But mark, he is not permitted to have so much as one drop, not so much as a man may hold on the tip of his finger. This signifies, that they that fall short of Christ, shall be tormented even as long as eternity lasteth, and shall not have so much as the least ease; no, not so long as while a man may turn himself round; not so much as leave to swallow his spittle; not one drop of cold water!
Consider, I say, the misery of the ungodly that they shall be in, and avoid their vices, by closing in with the tenders of mercy; lest you partake of the same portion with them, and cry out in the bitterness of your souls, ‘One drop of cold water to cool my tongue.’ “For I am tormented in this flame.”
Indeed, the reason why the poor world do not so earnestly desire mercy, is partly because they do not seriously consider the torment that they must certainly fall into if they die out of Christ. For, let me tell you, did but poor souls indeed consider that wrath, that doth by right fall to their shares, because of their sins against God, they would make more haste to God through Christ for mercy than they do. Then we should have them say, ‘It is good closing with Christ to-day, before we fall into such distress.’
But why is it said, let him “dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue?” Because, that as the several members in the body have their share in sin, and committing of that; so the several members of the body shall at last be punished for the same. Therefore, when Christ is admonishing his disciples, that they should not turn aside from him, and they should rather fear and dread the power of their God, than another power, he saith, “Fear him therefore, that can east both body and soul into hell.” Luke 12:5.
And again, “Fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Here is not one member only, but all the body, the whole body, of which the hands, feet, eyes, cars, and tongue, are members. And I am persuaded that though this may be judged carnal by some now; yet it will appear to be a truth then, to the greater misery of those who shall be forced to undergo that which God in his just judgment shall inflict upon them. O then they will cry, One dram of ease for my cursing, swearing, lying, jeering tongue!
Some ease for my bragging, braving, flattering, threatening, dissembling tongue? Now men can let their tongues run at random, as we use to say; now they will be apt to cry, Our tongues are our own, who shall control them? Psalm 12:4. But then they will be in another mind. Then, O that I might have a little ease for my deceitful tongue? Methinks sometimes to consider how some men do let their tongues run at random, it makes me marvel. Surely they do not think they shall be made to give an account for their offending with their tongue. Did they but think they shall be made to give an account to him who is. ready “to judge the quick and the dead,” surely they would be more wary, and have more regard unto their tongue.
The tongue; how much mischief will it stir up in a very little time? How many blows and wounds doth it cause? How many times doth it (as James saith) curse man? How oft is the tongue made the conveyer of that hellish poison that is in the heart, both to the dishonor of God, the hurt of its neighbors, and the utter ruin of its own soul? And do you think the Lord will sit still (as I may say), and let thy tongue run as it lists, and yet never bring you to an account for the same? No, stay; the Lord will not always keep silence, but will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine eyes, O sinner: yea, and thy tongue, together with the rest of thy members, shall be tormented for sinning. And I say, I am very confident, that though this be made light of now, yet the time is coming, when many poor souls will rue the day that ever they did speak with a tongue. ‘O, will one say, that I should so disregard my tongue! O that I, when I said so and so, had before bitten off my tongue! that I had been born without a tongue!
My tongue! my tongue! a little water to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame! even in that flame which my tongue, together with the rest of my members, by sinning, have brought me into.’ Poor souls will now let their tongues say any thing for a little profit, for twopence or three pence gain. But oh! what a grief will this be at that day, when they, together with their tongue, must smart for that which they by their tongues have done while they were in this world. Then you that love your souls, look to your tongues; lest you bind yourselves down so fast to hell with the sins of your tongues, that you will never be able to get loose again to all eternity. For by thy words thou shalt be condemned, if thou have not a Care of thy tongue. “But I say unto you, that for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12:36.
THESE words are the answer to the request of the damned. The verse before (as I told you) is a discovery of the desires they have after they depart this world. Here is the answer, “Son, remember,”… The answer signifies thus much, That instead of having any relief or ease, they are hereby the more tormented, and that by fresh recollections, or by bringing afresh their former ill-spent life, while in the world, into their remembrance: Son, remember that thou hadst good things in thy lifetime.
As much as if he had said, Thou art now sensible what it is to lose thy soul; thou art now sensible what it is to put off repentance; thou art now sensible that thou hast befooled thyself, in that thou didst spend that time in seeking after outward, momentary, earthly things, which thou shouldst have spent in seeking to make Jesus Christ sure to thy soul; and now, through thy anguish of spirit in the pains of hell, thou wouldst enjoy that which in former time thou didst make slight of; but alas! thou art here beguiled and altogether disappointed; thy crying will now avail thee nothing at all. This is not the accepted time. 2 Corinthians 6:2. This is not a time to answer the desires of wretched reprobates. If thou hadst cried out in good earnest while grace was offered, much might have been; but then thou wast careless, and didst turn the forbearance and goodness of God into wantonness. Wast thou not told, that those who would not hear the Lord when he did call, should not be heard when they did call; but contrariwise, he would laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear did come? Proverbs 1:24-28.
Now, therefore, instead of expecting the least drop of mercy and favor, call into thy mind how thou didst spend those days which God did permit thee to live; I say, re member, that in thy lifetime thou didst behave thyself rebelliously against the Lord, in that thou wert careless of his word and ordinances, yea, and of the welfare of thine own soul also. Therefore, now, I say, instead of expecting or hoping for any relief, thou must be forced to call to remembrance thy filthy ways, and feed upon them, to thine everlasting astonishment and confusion.
From these words, therefore, which say, “Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,” there are these things to be taken notice of.
I. They that by putting off repentance, and living in their sins, lose their souls, shall, instead of having the least measure of comfort when they come into hell, have their ill-spent life always very fresh in their remembrance. While they live here, they can sin and forget it; but when they depart, they shall have it before them; they shall have a remembrance, or their memory notably enlightened, and a clearer, and a continual sight of all their wicked practices that they wrought and did while they were in the world. “Son, remember,” saith he. Then you will be made to remember. As if he had said, 1. Remember how thou wert born in sin, and brought up in the same. 2. Remember how thou hadst many a time the gospel preached to thee for taking away of the same, by him whom the gospel doth hold forth. 3. Remember, that out of love to thy sins and lusts, thou didst turn thy back on the tenders of the same gospel of good tidings and peace. 4. Remember that the reason why thou didst lose thy soul, was because thou didst not close in with free grace, and the tenders of a loving and freehearted Jesus Christ. 5. Remember how near thou wast to turning at such and such a time; only thou wast willing to give way to thy lusts when they wrought, to drunkards when they called, to pleasures when they proffered themselves, to the cares and encumbrances of the world, which, like so many thorns, did choke that or those convictions that were set on thy heart. 6. Remember how willing thou wast to satisfy thyself with an hypocrite’s hope, and with a notion of the things of God, without the real power and life of the same. 7. Remember how thou, when thou wast admonished to turn, didst put off turning and repenting till another time. 8. Remember how thou didst dissemble at such a time, lie at such a time, cheat thy neighbor at such a time, mock, flout, scoff, taunt, hate, persecute the people of God at such a time, in such a place, among such company. 9. Remember, that while others were met together in the fear of the Lord to seek him, thou wast met with a company of vain companions to sin against him; while the saints were praying, thou wast cursing; while they were speaking good of the name of God, thou wast speaking evil of the saints of God. O then, thou shalt have a scalding hot remembrance of all thy sinful thoughts, words, and actions, from the very first to the last of them that ever thou didst commit, in all thy lifetime. Then thou wilt find that scripture to be a truth, Deuteronomy 28:65,66,67, “The Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.”
Nay, thou shalt find worse things to thy woe than this scripture doth manifest. For indeed there is no tongue able to express the horror, terror, torment, and eternal misery, that those poor souls shall undergo, without the least mitigation or ease. A very great part of it shall come from that quick, full, and continual remembrance of their sins that they shall have; and therefore there is much weight in these words, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime hadst thy good things.”
From these words you see this is to be observed, that the ungodly shall remember, or have in remembrance the misspending of their lives: “Remember that in thy lifetime thou hadst thy good things. You may take these words, “good things,” either simply for the things of this world, which in themselves are called and may be called “good things;” or else with these words, namely, the things of this life; all the pleasures, delights, profits, and vanities, which the ignorant people of the world do count their good things, and do very much cheer themselves therewith. ‘Soul, eat, drink, and be merry; for thou hast much goods laid up for many years.’ Luke 12:19.
Now, I say, God, according to his glorious power and wisdom, will make poor creatures have always in their minds a fresh and clear remembrance of their ill-spent life. He will say unto then, Remember, remember, that in thy lifetime it was thus and thus with thee, and in thy lifetime thy carriage was so and so.
If sinners might have their choice, they would not have their sins and transgressions so much in the remembrance, as is evident by their carriages here in this world: for they will not endure to entertain a serious thought of their filthy life; they put far away the evil day ( Amos 4:3; Ezekiel 12:27), and labor by all means to put the thoughts of it out of their mind; but there they shall be made to remember to purpose, and to think continually of their ungodly deeds. And therefore it is said, that when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to judgment, it will be to convince the ungodly world of their wicked and ungodly deeds; mark, to convince them. Jude 1:14,15. They will not willingly take notice of them now; but then they shall, hereafter, in spite of their teeth; for those that die out of Christ, shall be made to see, acknowledge, and confess their guilt, do what they can, when they lift up their eyes in hell, and remember their transgressions.
God will be a swift witness against them ( Malachi 3:5); and will say, Remember what thou didst in thy lifetime; how thou didst live in thy lifetime. Ha, friend! If thou dost not in these days of light remember the days of darkness, Ecclesiastes 11:8, (the days of death, hell, and judgment), thou shalt be made in the days of darkness, death, hell, and at the judgment too, to remember the days of the gospel, and how thou didst disregard them too, to thy own destruction and everlasting misery. This is intimated in the 25th chapter of <402501> St. Matthew. “Remember that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things.”
The great God, instead of giving the ungodly any ease, will even aggravate their torments. First, by slighting their perplexities, and by telling them what they must be thinking of. Remember, saith he, O ye lost souls, that you had your joy in your lifetime; your peace in your lifetime; your comforts, delights, ease, health, wealth — your heaven, your happiness, and your portion in your lifetime.
O miserable state! Thou wilt then be in a sad condition indeed, when thou shalt see that thou hast had thy good things, thy best things, thy pleasant things; for that is clearly signified by these words, “Remember that thou in thy lifetime hadst thy good things,” or, all the good things that thou art likely to have. From whence take notice of another truth (though it be a dreadful one), which is this: There are many poor creatures who have all their good, sweet, and comfortable things, in this life, or while they are alive in this world: “Remember,” saith he, “that in thy lifetime thou hadst thy good things.”
The wicked’s good things will shortly have an end; they will last no longer with them than this life, or their lifetime. Psalm 17:14. That scripture was not written in vain: “As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool: this also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 7:6.
It is like the crackling of thorns under a pot — makes a little blaze for a sudden, a little heat for a while; but come and consider it by and by, and instead of a comfortable heat, you will find nothing but a few dead ashes; and instead of a flaming fire, nothing but a smell of smoke.
There is a time coming, that the ungodly would be glad of a better portion, when they shall see the vanity of this, that is, when they shall see what a poor thing it is, for a man to have his portion in this world. It is true, while they are here on this side hell, they think there is nothing to be compared with riches, honors, and pleasures in this world; which makes them cry out, Who will show us any good? ( Psalm 4:7) that is, any comparable to the pleasures, profits, and glory of this world? But then they will see there is another thing that is better and of more value than ten thousand worlds.
And seriously, friends, will it not grieve you, trouble, perplex, and torment you, when you shall see that you lost heaven for a little pleasure and profit in your lifetime? Certainly it will grieve you and perplex you exceedingly, to see what a blessed heaven you lost for a dunghill world. O! that you did but believe this! that you did but consider this, and say within yourselves, What! shall I be contented with my portion in this world! What! shall I lose heaven for this world! I say, consider it while you have day-light, and gospel lights’ while the Son of God doth hold out terms of reconciliation to you; lest you be made to hear such a voice as this is, “Son, remember, that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things;” thy comforts, thy joys, thy ease, thy peace, and all the heaven thou art like to have. O poor heaven! O short pleasures! What a pitiful thing it is to be left in such a case! Soul, consider: Is it not miserable to lose heaven, for twenty, thirty, or forty years’ sinning against God? When thy life is done, thy heaven is also done. When death comes to separate thy soul and body, in that day also thou must have thy heaven and happiness separated from thee, and thou from that. Consider these things betimes, lest thou have thy portion in thy lifetime. For if in this life only we have our portion, we are of all people the most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19. Again, consider, that when other men (the saints) are to receive their good things, then thou hast had thine! When others are to enter into joy, then thou art to leave and depart from thy joy! When others are to go to God thou must go the devil! O miserable man! Thou hadst better never been born, than to be an heir of such a portion; therefore, I say, have a care it be not thy condition. “Remember that thou receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus evil things.”
These words do not only hold forth the misery of the wicked in this life, but also great consolation to the saints; where he saith, “And Lazarus evil things,” that is, Lazarus had his evil things in his lifetime, Or when he was in the world. From whence observe, 1. That the life of the saints, so long as they are in this world, is attended with many evils or afflictions: which may be discovered to be of divers natures; as saith the scriptures, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19. 2. Take notice, that the afflictions or evils that accompany the saints, may continue with them their lifetime, so long as they live in this vale of tears; yea, and they may be diverse, that is, of several sorts; some outward, some inward, and that as long as they shall continue here below, as hath been the experience of all saints in all ages. And this might be proved at large; but I only hint at these things, though I might enlarge much upon them. 3. The evils that do accompany the saints will continue no longer with them than their lifetime. And here indeed lies the comfort of believers, the Lazaruses, the saints; they must have all their bitter cup wrung out to them in their lifetime; here must be all their trouble; here must be all their grief. Behold, saith Christ, the world shall rejoice, but ye shall lament; but your mourning — mark it, shall be turned into joy. John 16:20. You shall lament, you shall be sorrowful, you shall weep in your lifetime; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy; and your joy no man (let him be what he will), no man shall take away from you.
Now if you think, when I say the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, that I mean, they have nothing else but trouble in this their lifetime, this is your mistake; for let me tell you, that though the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, yet even in their lifetime they have also joy unspeakable and full of glory, while they look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen. The joy that the saints have sometimes in their heart, by a believing consideration of the good things to come when this life is ended, doth flu them fuller of joy, than all the crosses, troubles, temptations, and evils, that accompany them in this life, can flu them with grief. 2 Corinthians 4.
But some saints may say, ‘My troubles are such as are ready to overcome me.’ Answer. Yet be of good comfort, they shall last no longer than thy lifetime. ‘But my trouble is, I am perplexed with an heart full of corruption and sin, so that I am much hindered in walking with God.’ Answer. It is likely so; but thou shalt have these troubles no longer than thy lifetime. ‘But I have a cross husband, and that is a great grief to me,’ Well, but thou shalt be troubled with him no longer than thy lifetime; and therefore be not dismayed, be not discomforted; thou shalt have no trouble longer than this lifetime.
They shall trouble thee no longer than this lifetime.
Art thou troubled with a cunning devil? with unbelief? Yea, let it be what it will (if thou be a believer), thou shalt take thy farewell of them all after thy lifetime is ended. O excellent assurance! Then “God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”
But now, on the contrary, if thou be not a right and sound believer, then, though thou shouldst live a thousand years in this world, and meet with sore afflictions every day; yet these afflictions, be they ever so great and grievous, are nothing to that torment that will come upon thee, both in soul and body, after this life is ended.
I say, be what thou wilt, if thou be found in unbelief, or under the first covenant, thou art sure to smart for it at the time when thou dost depart this world. But the thing to be lamented is, for all this is so sad a condition to be fallen into, yet poor souls are for the most part senseless of it; yea, so senseless (at some times) as though there was no such misery to come hereafter. Because the Lord doth not immediately strike with his sword, but doth bear long with his creatures, waiting that he might be gracious: therefore, I say, the hearts of the sons of men, are wholly set in there to do evil. Ecclesiastes 8:11. And that forbearance and goodness of God, that one would think should lead them to repentance, are abused to their ruin; the devil hardening them, by their continuing in sin, and by blinding their eyes, as to the end of God’s forbearance towards them. Thus they are led away with a very hardened and senseless heart, even until they drop into eternal destruction.
But, poor hearts, they must have a time in which they must be made sensible of their former behaviors, when the just judgments of the Lord shall flame about their ears; insomuch that they shall be made to cry out again with anguish, I am sorely tormented in this flame.’ “But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
As if he should say, Now hath God recompensed both Lazarus and you, according to what you sought after, while you were in the world. As for your part, you did neglect the precious mercy and goodness of God; you did turn your back on the Son of God, that came into the world to save sinners; you made a mock of preaching the gospel; you were admonished over and ore, to close in with the loving-kindness of the Lord, in his Son Jesus Christ. The Lord let you live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years; all which time, you, instead of spending it to make your calling and election sure ( 2 Peter 1:10) did spend it in making eternal damnation sure to your soul. And also Lazarus, in his lifetime did make it his business to accept of my grace and salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. When thou wast in the alehouse, he frequented the word preached; when thou wert jeering at goodness, he was sighing for the sins of the times; while thou wert swearing, he was praying. In a word, while thou weft making sure of eternal ruin, he by faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, was making sure of eternal salvation. Therefore, “now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
Here then you may see, that as the righteous shall not be always void of comfort and blessedness; so neither shall the ungodly go always without their punishment. As sure as God is in heaven, it will be thus: they must have their several portions. And therefore you that are the saints of the Lord, follow on; be not dismayed, “forasmuch as you know, that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58. Your portion is eternal glory. And you that are so loath now to close in with Jesus Christ, and to leave your sins to follow him, your day is coming ( Psalm 37:13), in which you shall know, that your sweet morsels of sin that you so easily take down ( Job 20:12,13,14), and it scarce troubles you, will have a time so to work within you to your eternal ruin, that you will be in a worse condition than if you had ten thousand devils tormenting you. Nay, you had better have been plucked limb from limb a thousand times (if it could be), than to be partakers of this torment, which will assuredly, without mercy, lie upon you.
CHAPTER - and besides all this between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. — Luke 16:20.
THESE words are still part of the answer that the souls in hell shall have for all the sobbings, sighings, grievous cries, tears, and desires that they have, to be released out of those intolerable pains they feel and are perplexed with. And, oh! methinks the words at the first view, if rightly considered, are enough to make any hard-hearted sinner in the world, to fall down dead. The verse I last spoke about was, and is, a very terrible one, and aggravates the torments of poor sinners wonderfully, where he saith, “Remember that thou in thy lifetime hadst thy good things, and Lazarus his evil things,” etc. I say, the words are very terrible to those poor souls that die out of Christ. But these latter words do much more hold out their sorrow. They were spoken as to the present condition of the sinner. These do not only back the former, but do yet further aggravate their misery, holding forth that which will be more intolerable. The former verse is enough to smite any sinner into a swoon, but this to make them fall down dead, where he saith, “And besides all this,’ there is something to aggravate thy misery yet far more abundantly. I shall briefly speak to the words as they have relation to the terror spoken of in the verses before. As if he had said, Thou thinkest the present state unsupportable; it makes thee sob and sigh; it makes thee to rue the time that ever thou wert born; now thou findest the want of mercy; now thou wouldst leap at the least dram of it; now thou feelest what it is to slight the tenders of the grace of God, now it makes thee to sob, sigh, and roar exceedingly, for the anguish that thou art in. “But besides all this,” I have other things to tell thee of, that will break thine heart indeed. Thou art now deprived of a being in the world; thou art deprived of hearing the gospel; the devil hath been too hard for thee, and hath made thee miss of heaven; thou art now in hell among an innumerable company of devils and all thy sins beset thee round; thou art all overwrapped in flames, and canst not have one drop of water to give thee any ease; thou criest in vain, for nothing will be granted; thou seest the saints in heaven, which is no small trouble to thy lost soul; thou seest that neither God nor Christ takes any care to ease thee, or speak any comfort unto thee. “But besides all this,” there thou art like to lie. Never think of any ease, never look for any comfort; repentance now will do thee no good; the time is past, and can never be called again. Look! what thou hast now, thou must have for ever. It is true, I spoke enough before to break thine heart asunder; “but besides all this,” there lie and swim in flames for ever.
These words of Christ, “besides all this,” are terrible words indeed. I will give you the scope of them in a similitude. Set the case, you should take a man and tie him to a stake, and with red hot pincers, pinch off his flesh by little pieces, for two or three years together; and at last, when the poor man cries for ease and help, the tormentors answer, Nay, “but besides all this,” you must be handled much worse. We will serve you thus these twenty years together, and after that we will fill. your mangled body full of scalding lead, or run you through with a red hot spit; would not this be lamentable? Yet this is but a flea-biting to the sorrow of those that go to hell; for if a man were served so, there would, ere it were long, be an end of him. But he that goes to hell shall suffer ten thousand times worse torments than these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them. There they shall be ever whining, pining, weeping, mourning; ever tormented without ease, and yet never dissolved into nothing. If the biggest devil in hell might pull thee all to pieces, and rend thee as small as dust, and dissolve thee into nothing, thou wouldst count this a mercy. But here thou mayst lie and fry, scorch, and broil, and burn for ever. For ever, that is a long while, and yet it must be so long. “Depart from me,” saith Christ, “into everlasting fire,” into the fire that burns for ever, “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41.
Oh! thou that wast loath to foul thy foot if it were but dirty, or did but rain; thou that wast loath to come out of the chimney corner, if the wind did but blow a little cold; and wast loath to go half a mile, yea, half a furlong, to hear the word of God, if it were but a little dark; thou that wast loath to leave a few vain companions, to edify thy soul, thou shalt have fire enough, thou shalt have night enough, and evil company far more than enough, if thou miss of Jesus Christ; “and besides all this,” thou shalt have them for ever, and for ever.
O thou that dost spend whole nights in carding and dicing, in rioting and wantonness; thou that countest it a brave thing to swear as fast as the bravest, to spend with the greatest spendthrift in the country; thou that lovest to sin in a corner when nobody sees thee! O thou that for by-ends dost carry on the hypocrite’s profession, because thou wouldst be counted somebody among the children of God, but art an enemy to the things of Christ in thine heart; thou that dost satisfy thyself, either with sins, or a bare profession of godliness, thy soul will fall into extreme torments and anguish, so soon as ever thou dost depart this world, and there thou shalt be weeping and gnashing thy teeth. Matthew 8:11,12. And besides all this, thou art never like to have any ease or remedy. Never look for any deliverance. Thou shalt die in thy sins, and be tormented as many years as there are stars in the firmament, or sands on the sea-shore; and besides all this thou must abide it for ever. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.” “There is a great gulf fixed.” You will say, What is that? It is a nice question; therefore first seek thou rather to enter in at the strait gate, than curiously to inquire what this gulf is.
But, if thou wouldst needs know, if thou do fall short of heaven, thou wilt find it this, namely, the everlasting decree of God; that is, there is a decree gone forth from God, that those who fall short of heaven in this world, God is resolved they shall never enjoy it in the world to come. And thou wilt find this gulf so deep, that thou shalt never be able to wade through it as long as eternity lasts. As Christ saith, “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison: I tell thee thou shalt in no wise come out thence :” (there is the gulf, the decree:) “Thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing,” or “very last mite.” Luke 12:58,59. These words, therefore, “there is a great gulf fixed,” I understand to be the everlasting decree of God. God hath decreed, that those who go to heaven, shall never go from thence again into a worse place; and also that those that go to hell, and would come out, shall not come out from thence again. And, friend, this is such a gulf, so fixed by him that cannot lie, that thou wilt find it so, which way soever thou goest, whether it be to heaven or hell. Here therefore thou seest how secure God will make those who die in the faith: God will keep them in heaven; but those that die in their sins, God will throw them into hell, and keep them there; so that they that would go from heaven to hell cannot, neither can they come from hell that would go to heaven. Mark, he doth not say, they would not: for O how fain would those who have lost their souls for a lust, for twopence, for a jug of ale, for a strumpet, for this world, come out of that hot scalding fiery furnace of God’s eternal vengeance, if they might. But here is their misery. ‘They that would come from you to us,’ that is, ‘from hell to heaven,’ cannot; they must not, they shall not. They cannot. God hath decreed it, and is resolved the contrary.
Therefore, if thy heart would at any time tempt thee to sin against God, cry out, No; for then I must go to hell, and lie there for ever. If the drunkards, swearers, liars, and hypocrites, did but take this doctrine soundly down, it would make them tremble when they think of sinning.
Ah, poor souls, now they will make a mock of sin ( Proverbs 14:9), and play with it as a child doth play with a rattle; but the time is coming, that these rattles that they now play with, will make such a noise in their ears and consciences, that they shall find that if all the devils in hell were yelling at their heels, the noise would not be comparable to it. Friend, thy sins, as so many bloodhounds, will first hunt thee out, and then take thee and bind thee, and hold thee down for ever. Numbers 32:23; Proverbs 5:22. They will gripe thee and gnaw thee as if thou hadst a nest of poisonous serpents in thy bowels. Job 20:14. And this will not be for a time! but, as I have said, for ever, — for ever, — for ever!
THE verse before, I told you, was spoken partly to hold forth a desire that the damned have, to be freed of their endless misery. Now this verse still holds forth the cries of those poor souls as very vehement. They would very fain have something granted to them; but it will not be, as will more clearly appear afterward. “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father,” etc. As if he should say, Seeing I have brought myself into such a miserable condition, that God will not regard me, that my exceeding loud and bitter cries will not be heard for myself: seeing I must not be admitted to have so much as one drop of cold water, nor the least help from the poorest saints: and seeing, besides all this, here my soul must lie to all eternity, broiling and frying; seeing I must, whether I will or no, undergo the hand of eternal vengeance, and the rebukes of devouring fire; seeing my state is such, that I would not wish a dog in my condition; “send him to my father’s house.” It is worthy to be taken notice of (again) who it is he desired to be sent, namely, Lazarus. O friend, see here how the stout hearts and stomachs of poor creatures will be humbled. As I said before, they will be so brought down, that those things that they disdained and made light of in this world, they would be glad of in the life to come. Lazarus by this man was so slighted once, that he thought it a dishonor that he should eat with the dogs of his flock. ‘What, shall I regard Lazarus, scrubbed, beggarly Lazarus? ‘What, shall I so far dishonor my fair, sumptuous, and gay house, with such a scabbed creep-hedge as he? No, I scorn he should be entertained under my roof.’
Thus in his lifetime, while he was in his bravery; but now he is come into another world; now he is parted from his pleasures; now he sees his fine house, his dainty dishes, his rich neighbors and companions and he are parted asunder; now he finds, instead of pleasures, torments; instead of joys, heaviness; instead of heaven, hell; instead of the pleasures of sin, the horror and guilt of sin: O now, send Lazarus!
Lazarus, it may be, might have done him some good, if he might have been entertained in time past, and might have persuaded him at least not to have gone on so grievously wicked; but he slights him, will not regard him; he is resolved to disown him, though he lose his own soul for so doing. ‘Ay, but now send Lazarus, if not to me, to my father’s house, and let him tell them, from me, that if they run on in sin, as I have done, they must, and shall receive the same wages, that I have received.’
Take notice of this, you that are despisers of the least of the Lazaruses of our Lord Jesus Christ. It may be now you are loath to receive these little ones of his, because they are not gentlemen; because they cannot, with Pontius Pilate, speak Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Nay, they must not speak to them, to admonish them; and all because of this. Though now the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached to them freely, and for nothing; nay, they are now desired to hear and receive it; though now they will not own, regard, and embrace these Christian proffers of the glorious truth of Jesus, because they come out of some of the basest earthen vessels ( Corinthians 1:26); yet the time is coming, when they will both sigh and cry, “Send him to my father’s house.” I say, remember this, ye that despise the day of small things; the time is coming when you would be glad if you might enjoy from God, from Christ, or his saints, one small drop of cold water, though now you are unwilling to receive the glorious distilling drops of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Again, see here the lamentable state they are in, that go to hell, from their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, etc. While they are in this world, men delight to set their children ill examples; and also children love to follow the wicked steps of their ungodly parents. But when they depart this life, and drop down into hell, and find themselves in irrecoverable misery, then they cry, ‘Send somebody to my father’s house, to my brother’s house.
Tell them my state is miserable; tell them I am undone for ever; and tell them also, that if they will be walking in these ungodly steps wherein I left them; they will assuredly fall into this place of torments.’ “I pray thee, send him to my father’s house.” Ah! friends and neighbors, it is likely you little think of this, that some of your friends and relations are crying out in hell, Lord, send somebody to my father’s house, to preach the gospel to them, lest they also come into these torments.
Here men, while they live, can willingly walk together in the way of sin; and when they are parted by death, they that are living seldom or never consider the sad condition that they that are dead are descended into. But ye ungodly fathers, how are your ungodly children roaring now in hell! and your ungodly parents that lived and died ungodly, now also in the pains of hell! And one drunkard is singing on the alehouse bench, and another roaring under the wrath of God, saying, O that I was with him! how would I rebuke him, and persuade him by all means to leave off those evil courses! O that they did but consider what I now suffer for pride, covetousness, drunkenness, lying, swearing, stealing, whoring, and the like!
O! did they but feel the thousandth part thereof, it would make them look about them, and not buy sin at so dear a rate as I have done; even with the loss of my precious soul!’ “Send him to my father’s house.” ‘Not, to my father, but to my father’s house. It may be, there are ungodly children, there are ungodly servants, wallowing in their ungodliness; send him therefore to my father’s house. It is likely, they are still the same that I left them. I left them wicked, and they are wicked still; I left them slighters of the gospel, saints, and ways of God, and they do it still. “Send him to my father’s house :” it is likely there is but a little between them and the place where I am. Send him today, before to-morrow, “lest they come into the same place of torment.” I pray thee thou wouldst send him. I beg it on my bended knee, with crying and tears, in the agony of my soul. It may be they will not consider, if thou do not send him. I left them sottish enough; hardened as well as I.
They have the same devil to tempt them, the same lusts and world to overcome them: “I pray thee therefore that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house;” make no delay lest they lose their souls; lest they come hither: if they do, they are likely never to return again. Oh! little do they think, how easily they may lose their souls. They are apt to think their condition to be as good as the best, as I once through ignorance did; but send him, send him — send him without delay, “lest they come into this place of torment.” O that thou, Lord, wouldst give him commission; do thou send him thyself. The time was, when I, together with them, slighted those that were sent of God; though we could not deny but that they spake the word of God, and were sent of him, as our conscience told us; yet we preferred the calls of men before the calls of God: for though they had the one, yet because they had not the other in that antichristian way which we thought meet, we could not, would not, either hear them ourselves, nor yet give our consent that others should. But now a call from God is worth all. Do thou therefore send him to my father’s house.’ ‘The time was when we did not like it, except it might be preached in the synagogue. We thought it a low thing to preach and pray together in houses; we were too high-spirited, too superstitious; the gospel would not down with us, unless we had it in such a place, by such a man; no, nor then neither effectually. But now, O that I was to live in the world again, and might have that privilege, to have some’ acquaintance with blessed Lazarus, some familiarity with that holy man! What attendance would I give unto his wholesome words! How would I affect his doctrine, and close in with it! How would I square my life thereby! Now, therefore, as it is better to hear the gospel under a hedge, than to sit roaring in a tavern, so it is better to welcome God’s begging Lazaruses, than the wicked companions of this world. It is better to receive a saint in the name of a saint, a disciple in the name of a disciple ( Luke 10:16), than to do as I have done. Oh! it is better to receive a child of God, that can by experience deliver the things of God, his free love, his tender grace, his rich forbearance, and also the misery of man if without it, than to be daubed up with untempered mortar. Ezekiel 13:10. Oh! I may curse the day that ever I gave way to the flatteries and fawning of a company of carnal men Bat this my repentance is too late; I should have looked about me sooner, if I would have been saved from this woeful place. Therefore send him, not only to the town I lived in, and unto some of my acquaintance, but to my father’s house. ‘In my lifetime, I did not care to hear that word that cut me most, and showed me my state aright. I was vexed to hear my sins mentioned, and laid to my charge; I loved him best that deceived me most; that said, Peace, peace, when there was no such thing. Jeremiah 6:14. But now, O that I had been soundly told of it! O that it had ‘pierced both mine ears and heart, and had stuck so fast, that nothing could have cured me, saving the blood of Christ! It is better to be dealt plainly with, than that we should be deceived; they had better see their lost condition in the world, than stay while they be damned, as I have done. Therefore send Lazarus; send him to my father’s house. Let him go and say, I saw your son, your brother, in hell, weeping, and wailing, and gnashing his teeth. Let him bear them down in it, and tell them plainly, it is so, and that they shall see their everlasting misery, if they have not a special care. Send him to my father’s house.’
THESE words are (if I may so say) a reason given by those in hell, why they are restless and do cry so loud: it is that their companions might be delivered from those intolerable torments, which they must and shall undergo, if they fall short of everlasting life by Jesus Christ. “Send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren.” Though while they lived among them in the world, they were not so sensible of their ruin; yet now they are passed out of the world, and do partake of that which before they were warned of, they can, I say, there cry out, Now I find that to be true indeed, which was once and again told, and declared to me, that it would certainly come to pass. “For I have five brethren.” Here you may see that there may be, and are, whole households in a damnable state and condition, as our Lord Jesus doth by this signify. ‘Send him to my father’s house, for they are all in one state; I left all my brethren in a pitiful state.’ People while they live here, cannot endure to hear that they should be all in a miserable condition; but when they are under the wrath of God, they see it, they know it, and are very sure of it: for they themselves, when they were in the world, lived as the others do, but they fell short of heaven; and therefore if the others go on, so shall they. ‘Oh! therefore send quickly to my father’s house, for all the house is in an undone condition, and must be damned if they continue so.’
The thing observable is this, namely, That those that are in hell, do not desire that their companions should come thither. Nay rather, saith he, ‘Send him to my father’s house, and let him testify to them that are therein, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ Question. But some may say, What is the reason that the damned should desire not to have their companions come into the same condition that they are fallen into, but rather that they might be kept from it, and escape that dreadful state? Answer. I do believe there is scarce so much love in any of the damned in hell, as really to desire the salvation of any. But in that there is any desire in them that are damned, that their friends and relations should not come into that place of torment, it appears to me, to be rather for their own ease, than for their neighbor’s good; for let me tell you, this I do believe, that it will aggravate the grief and horror of them, to see their ungodly neighbors in the like destruction with them. For where the ungodly do live and die, and descend into the pit together, the one is rather a vexation to the other, than any thing else.
And it must needs be so, because there are no ungodly people that do live ungodly together, but they do learn ill examples one of another, as thus: If there live one in the town that is very expert and cunning for the world, why now, the rest that are of the same mind with him, they will labor to imitate and follow his steps: this is commonly seen. Again, If there be one given to drunkenness, others of the town, through his means, run the more into that sin with him, and do accustom themselves the more unto it, because of his enticing them, and also by setting such an ill example before them. And so, if there be any addicted to pride, and must needs be in all the newest fashions, how doth their example provoke others to love and follow the same vanity! spending that upon their lusts, which should relieve their own and others’ wants. Also, if there be any given to jesting, scoffing, lying, whoring, backbiting, junketing, wantonness, or any other sin; they that are most expert in these things, do ofttimes entangle others, that peradventure would not have been so vile as now they are, had they not had such an example; and hence they are called corrupters. Isaiah 1:4.
Now these will by their doings exceedingly aggravate the condemnation of one another. He that did set his neighbor an ill example, and thereby caused him to walk in sin, he will be found one cause of his friend’s destruction, insomuch that he will have to answer for his own sin, and for a great part of his neighbor’s too, which will add to his destruction; as the scripture in Ezekiel showeth, where, speaking of the watchman that should give the people warning, if he do not, though the man did die in his sins, yet his blood shall be required at the watchman’s hand.
So here let me tell thee that if thou shouldst be such an one, as by thy conversation and practices shall be a trap and a stumbling-block, to cause thy neighbor to fall into eternal ruin; though he be damned for his own sin, yet God may, nay he will, charge thee as being guilty of his blood, in that thou didst not content thyself to keep from heaven thyself, but didst also by thy filthy conversation keep away others, and cause them to fall with thee. O therefore, will not this aggravate thy torment? Yea, if thou shouldst die and go to hell before thy neighbors or companions, besides the guilt of thine own sins, thou wouldst be so loaden with the fear of the damnation of others to be laid to thy charge, that thou wouldst cry out, ‘O send one from the dead to this companion, and that companion, with whom I had society in my lifetime, for I see my cursed carriage will be one cause of his condemnation, if he fall short of glory! I left him living in foul and heinous offenses; but I was one of the first instruments to bring him to them. Oh! I shall be guilty both of my own and his damnation too! O that he might be kept out hence, lest my torment be aggravated by his coming hither?
For where ungodly people do dwell together, they being a snare and stumbling-block one to another by their practice, they must be a torment one to another and an aggravation of each other’s damnation. ‘O cursed be thy face, saith one, that ever I set mine eyes on thee; it was all of thee; I may thank thee; it was thee that did entice me, and ensnare me; it was your filthy conversation that was a stumbling-block to me; it was your covetousness, it was your pride, your haunting the alehouse, your gaming and whoring; it was all of you that I fell short of life! If you had set me a good example as you set me an ill one, it may be I might have done better than now I do; but I learned of you, I followed your steps, I took counsel of you. O that I had never seen your face! O that thou hadst never been born to do my soul this wrong, as you have done!’ ‘ Oh! saith the other, and I may as much blame you; for do you not remember how at such a time, and at such a time, you drew me out and drew me away, and asked me if I would go with you, when I was going about other business, about my calling; but you called me away, you sent for me, you are as much in the fault as I. Though I were covetous, you were proud; and if you learned covetousness of me, I learned pride and drunkenness of you. Though I taught you to cheat, you taught me to whore, to lie, to scoff at goodness.
Though I, base wretch, did stumble you in some things, you did as much stumble me in others. I can blame you, as you blame me; and if I have to answer for some of your most filthy actions, you have to answer for some of mine. I would you had not come hither; the very looks of you do wound my soul, by bringing my sins afresh into my mind, the time when, the manner how, the place where, the persons with whom. It was with you, you! Grief to my soul! Since I could not shun your company there, O that I had been without your company here!’
I say therefore, for those that have sinned together, to go to hell together, it will very much perplex and torment them both; therefore, I judge this, one reason why they that are in hell do desire that their companions or friends do not come thither into the same place of torment that they are in. And, therefore, where Christ saith that the damned souls cry out, ‘Send to our companions, that they may be warned and commanded to look to themselves; O send to my five brethren!’ it is because they would not have their own torments heightened by their company; and a sense, yea, a continual sense of their sins, which they caused them to commit when they were in the world with them. For I do believe, that the very looks of those that have been beguiled of their fellows, I say, their very looks will be a torment to them; for thereby will the remembrance of their own sins which they committed with them, be kept (if possible) the fresher on their consciences; and also, they will wonderfully have the guilt of the other’s sins upon them, in that they were partly the cause of his committing them, being instruments in the hands of the devil, to draw them in too. And, therefore, lest this come to pass, “I pray thee, send him to my father’s house.” For if they might not come hither, peradventure my torment might have some mitigation; that is, if they might be saved, then their sins will be pardoned, and not so heavily charged on my soul. But if they do fall into the same place where I am, the sins that I have caused them to commit, will lie so heavy, not only on their soul, but also on mine, that they will sink me into eternal misery, deeper and deeper. “O, therefore, send him to my father’s house, to my five brethren; and let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.” ‘ These words being thus understood, what a condition doth it show them to be in then, that now much delight in being the very ringleaders of their companions into sins of all sorts whatsoever.
While men live here, if they can be counted the cunningest in cheating, the boldest for lying, the archest for whoring, the subtlest for coveting and getting the world; if they can but cunningly defraud, undermine, cross, and anger their neighbors, yea, and hinder them from the means of grace, the gospel of Christ; they glory in it, take a pride in it, and think themselves pretty well at ease, and their minds are somewhat quiet, being beguiled with sin.
But, friend, when thou hast lost this life, and dost begin to lift up thine eyes in hell, and seest what thy sins have brought thee to; and not only so, but that thou (devil-like) by thy filthy sins didst cause others to fall into the same condemnation with thee; and that one of the reasons of their damnation was this, that thou didst lead them to the commission of those wicked practices of this world, and the lusts thereof; then, ‘O that somebody would stop them from coming, lest they also come into this place of torment, and be damned as I am! I low will it torment me!’ Balaam could not be contented to be damned himself, but also he must by his wickedness cause others to stumble and fall. The Scribes and Pharisees could not be content to keep out of heaven themselves, but they must labor to keep out others too. Therefore theirs is the greater damnation.
The deceived cannot be content to be deceived himself; but he must labor to deceive others also. The drunkard cannot be content to go to hell for his sins, but he must labor to cause others to fall into the same furnace with him. But look to yourselves, for here will be damnation upon damnation; damned for thine own sins, and damned for thy being partaker with others in their sins, and damned for being guilty of the damnation of others. Oh! how will the drunkards cry, for leading their neighbors into drunkenness!
How will the covetous person howl for setting his neighbor, his friend, his brother, his children and relations, so wicked an example, by which he hath not only wronged his own soul, but also the souls of others! The liar, by lying, learned others to lie; the swearer learned others to swear; the whoremonger learned others to whore. Now all these, with others of the like sort, will be guilty, not only of their own damnation, but of others. I tell you, that some men have been so much the authors of the damnation of others, that I am ready to think that the damnation of them, will trouble them as much as their own damnation.
Some men, it is to be feared, at the day of judgment, will be found to be the authors of destroying whole nations. How many souls, do you think, Balaam with his deceit, will have to answer for? How many, Mahomet?
How many, the Pharisees, that hired the soldiers to say the disciples stole away Jesus? ( Matthew 28:11-15), and by that means stumbled their brethren to this day. This was one means of binding them from believing the things of God and Jesus Christ, and so the cause of the damnation of their brethren to this very day.
How many poor souls hath Bonner to answer for, think you? and other filthy, blind priests? How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignorance and corrupt doctrine; preaching what was no better for men’s souls, than ratsbane to the body, for filthy lucre’s sake?
Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou that hast taken in hand to preach to the people, it may be thou hast taken in hand, thou canst not tell what. Will it not grieve thee, to see thy whole parish come bellowing after thee to hell, crying out, ‘This we may thank thee for; this is all of thee; thou didst not teach us the truth; thou didst lead us away with fables; thou wast afraid to tell us of our sins, lest we should not put meat fast enough into thy mouth.
O cursed wretch, that ever thou shouldst beguile us thus, deceive us thus, flatter us thus! We would have gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and also tell us that which we see now is the way of God was heresy, and a deceivable doctrine; and was not contented (blind guide as thou weft) to fall into the ditch thyself, but hast also led us thither with thee.’
I say, look to thyself, lest thou cry out when it is too late, Send Lazarus to my people, my friends, my children, my congregation to whom I preached, and beguiled through my folly. Send him to the town in which I did preach last, lest I be the cause of their damnation. Send him to my friends from whence I came, lest I be made to answer for’ their souls and mine own too. Ezekiel 33:1-8. O send him, therefore, and let him tell them, and testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Consider ye that live thus in the world, while you are in the land of the living, lest you fall into this condition. Set the case, that thou shouldst by thy carriage destroy but a soul, but one poor soul, by one of thy carriages or actions, by thy sinful works; consider it now I say, lest thou be forced to cry, “I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
If so, then I shall not only say to the blind guides, look you to yourself, and shut not out others. No, but this doth reach not only unto all those that do keep souls from heaven by preaching, and the like, but speaks forth the doom of those that shall any ways be instrumental to hinder others from closing in with Jesus Christ. O what red lines will there be against all those rich, ungodly landlords, that so keep under their poor tenants, that they dare not go out to hear the word, for fear their rent should be raised, or they turned out of their houses! What sayst thou, landlord? Will it not cut thy soul when thou shalt see that thou couldst not be content to miss of heaven thyself, but thou must labor to hinder others also? Will it not give thee an eternal wound in thy heart, both at death and judgment, to be accused of the ruin of thy neighbor’s soul, thy servant’s soul, thy wife’s soul, together with the ruin of thy own? Think on this, you drunken, proud, rich, and scornful landlords; think on this, madbrained, blasphemous husbands, that are against the godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also you that hold your servants so hard to it, that you will not spare them time to hear the word, unless it be where, and when your lusts will let you. If you love your own souls, your tenants’ souls, your wives’ souls, your servants’ souls, your children’s souls; if you would not cry, if you would not howl, if you would not bear the burden of the ruin of others for ever; then I beseech you consider this doleful story, and labor to avoid the soul-killing torment that this poor wretch groaneth under, when he saith, “I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house.” “For I have five brethren; that he may testify,” mark, “that he may testify, unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”
These words have still something more in them than I have yet observed from them. There are one or two things more that I shall briefly touch upon; and therefore mark; he saith, “that he may testify unto them,” etc.
No; but, let him testify, or affirm it constantly, in case any should oppose it. Let him testify unto them. It is the same word the scripture uses to set forth the vehemency of Christ in telling his disciples of him that should betray him, “And he testified, saying, One of you shall betray me.” And he testified; that is, he spake it so as to dash or overcome any that should have said, It shall not be. It is a word that signifies, that in case any should oppose the thing spoken of, yet that the party speaking should still continue constant in his saying. “And he commanded us,” says Peter, “to preach, and to testify, that it is he that was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.” Acts 10:42.
To testify; mark, that is, to be constant, irresistible, undaunted, in case it should be opposed and objected against. So here, let him “testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.”
From whence observe, that it is not an easy matter to persuade them who are in their sins alive in this world, that they must and shall be damned, if they turn not and be converted to God. “Let him testify to them;” let him speak confidently, though they frown upon him, or dislike his way of speaking. And how is this truth verified and cleared by the carriage of almost all men now in the world toward them that do preach the gospel, and show their own miserable state plainly to them, if they close not with it! If a man do but indeed labor to convince sinners of their sins, and lost condition by nature, though they must be damned if they live and die in that condition, O how angry are they at it! ‘Look how he judges, say they. ‘Hark how he condemns us. He tells us we must be damned if we live and die in this state. We are offended at him; we cannot abide to hear him, or any such as he; we will believe none of them all, but go on in the way we are going.’ “Forbear, why shouldst thou be smitten?” said the ungodly king to the prophet, when he told him of his sins. 2 Chronicles 25:15,16.
I say, tell the drunkard he must be damned if he leaves not his drunkenness; the swearer, liar, cheater, thief, covetous, railer, or any ungodly persons, they must and shall lie in hell for it, if they die in this condition; they will not believe you, nor credit you.
Again, tell others that there are many in hell that have lived and died in their conditions, and so are they likely to be, if they convert not to Jesus Christ, and be found in him; or that there are others that are more civil and sober men, who (although we know that their civility will not save them) if we do but tell them plainly of the emptiness and unprofitableness of that, as to the saving of their souls, and that God will not accept them, nor love them, notwithstanding these things, and that if they intend to be saved, they must be better provided than with such righteousness as this; they will either fling away, and come to hear no more, or else if they do come, they will bring such prejudice with them in their hearts, that the word preached shall not profit them; it being mixed not with faith, but with prejudice, in them that hear it. Hebrews 4:1,2. Nay, they will some of them be so full of anger, that they will break out and call even those who speak the truth, heretics; yee, and kill them. Luke 4:26-29. And why so?
Because they tell them, that if they ‘live in their sins, that will damn them; yet if they turn and live a righteous life, according to the holy, and just, and good law of God, that will not save them. Yea, because we tell them plainly, that unless they leave their sins and unrighteousness too, and close in with a naked Jesus Christ, his blood and merits, and what he hath done, and is now doing for sinners, they cannot be saved; and unless they do eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, they have no life abiding in them; they gravel presently, and are offended at it, (as the Jews were with Christ for speaking the same thing to them, John 6:53,60) and fling away themselves, their souls and all, by quarrelling against the doctrine of the Son of God; as indeed they do, though they will not believe they do.
And therefore he that is a preacher of the word had need, not only tell them, but testify to them, again and again, that their sins, if they continue in them, will damn them and damn them again; and tell them again, their living honestly according to the law, their paying every one their own, their living quietly with their neighbors, their giving to the poor, their notion of the gospel, and saying, they do believe in Christ, will do them no good at the general day of judgment. Ha, friends how many of you are there at this very day, that have been told once and again of your lost, undone condition, because you want the right, real, and saving work of God upon your souls? I say, hath not this been told you, yea, testified unto you from time to time, that your state is miserable, that yet you are never the better, but do still stand where you did; some in an open ungodly life, and some drowned in a self-conceited holiness of Christianity?
Therefore, for God’s sake, if you love your souls, consider; and beg of God for Jesus Christ’s sake, that he would work such a work of grace in your hearts, and give you such a faith in his Son Jesus Christ, that you may not only have rest here, as you think; not only think your state safe while you live here, but that you may be safe indeed; not only here, but also when you are gone; lest you do cry in the anguish and perplexity of your souls, Send one to my companions that have been beguiled by Satan, as I have been, and so by going on, come into this place of torment, as I have done.
Again, one thing more is to be observed from these words, “Let them testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.”
Mark, “lest they come into:” as if he had said, Or else they will come into this place of torment, as sure as I am here. From whence observe, that though some souls do, for sin, fall into the bottomless pit before their fellows, because they depart from this world before them, yet the other abiding in the same course, are as sure to go to the same place, as if they were there already. How so? Because that all are condemned together; they have all fallen under the same law, and have all offended the same justice; and must for certain, if they die in that condition, drink as deep, if not deeper, of the same destruction.
Mark, I pray you, what the scripture says, “He that believeth not is condemned already.” John 3:18. he is condemned as well as they; having broken the same law with them. If so, then what hinders but they will partake of the same destruction with them? Only the one hath not the law yet so executed upon them, because they are here; the other have had the law executed upon them: they are gone to drink that which they have been brewing, and thou art brewing that in this life, which thou must certainly drink. The same law, I say, is in force against you both; only he is executed, and thou art not. Just as if there were a company of prisoners at the bar, and all condemned to die: what, because they are not all executed in one day, therefore shall they not be executed at all? Yes, the same law that executed its severity upon the parties now deceased, will, for certain, be executed upon them that are alive, in its appointed time. Even so it is here; we are all condemned by nature; if we close not in with the grace of God by Jesus Christ, we must, and shall be destroyed with the same destruction; and, therefore, “Send him,” saith he, “lest,’ mark, “lest they come into this place of torment.”
Again, “Send him to my father’s house, and let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.” As if he had said, It may be he may prevail with them; it may be he may win upon them, and so they may be kept from hence, from coming into this grievous place of torment. Observe again, that there is a possibility of obtaining mercy, if now, I say, now, in this day of grace we turn from our sins to Jesus Christ; yea, it is more than possible. And therefore, for thy encouragement, do thou know for certain, that if thou shalt in this thy day accept of mercy upon God’s own terms, and close with him effectually, God hath promised, yea, made many promises, that thy soul shall be conducted safe to glory, and shall, for certain, escape all the evils that I have told thee of; ay, and many more than I can imagine. Do but search the scriptures, and see how full of consolation they are to a poor soul that is minded to close in with Jesus Christ. “Him that cometh to me,” saith Christ,” “I will in no wise east out.” Though he be an old sinner, I will in no wise east him out; mark, “in no wise;” though he be a great sinner, I will in no wise cast him out, if he comes unto me. Though he has slighted me ever so many times, and not regarded the welfare of his own soul,” yet, let him now come unto me, and notwithstanding this, I will in no wise cast him out, nor throw away his soul. John 6:37. Again, saith the apostle, “Now ,” (mark), “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” Now here is mercy in good store; now God’s heart is open to sinners; now he will make you welcome; now he will receive any body if they do but come to Christ. “He that cometh to me,” saith Christ, “I will in no wise cast out.” And why?
God hath a certain day to hold out his grace to sinners: now is the time, now is the day. It is true, there is a day of damnation, but this is a day of salvation. There is a day coming, wherein sinners must cry to the mountains to fall on them, to the hills to cover them from the wrath of God; but now, now is the day in which he doth hold out his grace. There is a day coming, in which you will not be admitted to have the privilege of one drop of water to cool your tongue, if now, I say, if now you slight his grace and goodness which he holds out to you. Ah! friends, consider there are now hopes of mercy, but then there will not be; now Christ holds forth mercy unto you, but then he will not. Matthew 7:23. Now there are his servants that beseech you to accept of his grace; but if thou lose the opportunity that is put into thine hand, thou thyself mayst beseech hereafter, and no mercy be given thee. “And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue;” and there was none given.
Therefore, let it never be said of thee, as it will be said of some, Why is there a price put into the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it; seeing he hath no heart to make a good use of it? Proverbs 17:16.
Consider therefore, with thyself, and say, It is better going to heaven than to hell; it is better to be saved than damned; it is better to be with saints than with damned souls; and to go to God is better than to go to the devil.
Therefore, “seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near” ( Isaiah 55:6); lest in thy trouble he leave thee to thyself, and say unto thee plainly, “Where I am, thither ye cannot come.”
Oh! if they that are in hell might but now again have one such invitation as this, how would they leap for joy! I have thought sometimes, should God send but one of his ministers to the damned in hell, and give him commission to preach the free love of God in Christ extended to them, and held out to them, if now, while it is proffered to them, they will accept of his kindness; O how welcome would they make his news, and close in with it on any terms!
Certainly they would say, ‘We will accept of grace on any terms in the world, and thank you too, though it cost life and limbs to boot; we will spare no cost nor charge, if mercy may be had.’ But, poor souls, while they live here, they will not part from sin, from hell-bred, devilish sin: no, they will rather lose their souls than lose their filthy sins.
But, friend, thou wilt change thy note before it be long, and cry, ‘O simple wretch that I am, that I should damn my soul by sin! It is true, I have had the gospel preached to me, and have been invited in. I have been preached to, and have been warned of this; but “How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me.” ‘ Proverbs 5:12,13. O therefore, I say, poor soul! is there now hope? Then lay thy hand upon thy mouth, and kiss the dust, and close in with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make much of his glorious mercy; and invite also thy companions to close in with the same Lord Jesus Christ, lest one of you do go to hell beforehand, and expect, with grief of heart, your companions to come after; and, in the mean time, with anguish of heart, do sigh and say, ‘O send him to my companions, and let him testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
Now then, from what hath been said, there might many things be spoken by way of use and application; but I shall be very brief, and but touch some things, and so wind up And, first, I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die out of Christ, and speak something to that.
You see, therefore, that the whole of this first part of the parable contains a sad declaration of the state of one living and dying out of Christ. 1. How that they lose heaven for hell, God for the devil, light for darkness, joy for sorrow. 2. How that they have not so much as the least comfort from God, who, in the time they live here below, neglect coming to him for mercy; not so much as one drop of cold water. 3. That such fools will repent of their folly, when repentance will do them no good, or when they shall be past recovery. 4. That all the comfort, such souls are likely to have, they have now in this world. 5. That all their groanings and sighs will not move God to mitigate, in the least, his heavy hand of vengeance that is upon them, for the transgressions they have committed against him. 6. That their sad state is irrecoverable; for, mark, they muse, never, never come out of that condition. 7. Their desires will not be heard for their ungodly neighbors.
From these things then, I pray you, first consider the state of those who die out of Christ Jesus; yea, I say, consider their miserable state; and think thus with thyself, ‘Well, if I neglect coming to Christ, I must go to the devil, and he will not neglect to fetch me away into those intolerable torments.’ 1. Think thus with thyself: ‘What! shall I lose a long heaven for short pleasure? Shall I buy the pleasure of this world at so dear a rate, as to lose my soul for the obtaining of that? Shall I content myself with a heaven that will last no longer than my lifetime? What advantage will this be to me, when the Lord shall separate soul and body asunder, and send one to the grave, the other to hell; and at the judgment day, the final sentence of eternal ruin must be passed upon me? 2. Consider, that the profits, pleasures, and vanities of this world will not last for ever; but the time is coming, yea, is just at the door, when they will give thee the slip, and leave thee in the suds, and in the brambles of all that thou hast done. And therefore, to prevent this thy dismal state, think thus with thyself: ‘It is true, I love my sins, my lusts, and pleasures; but what good will they do me at the day of death and of judgment? Will my sins do me good then? Will they be able to help me when I come to fetch my last breath? What good will my profits do me? And what good will my vanities do, when death says he will have no Nay? What good will all my companions, fellow-jesters, jeerers, liars, drunkards, and all my wantons do me? Will they help to ease the pains of hell? Will these help to turn the hand of God from inflicting his fierce anger upon me? Nay, will they not rather cause God to show me no mercy, to give me no comfort, but rather to thrust me down in the hottest place of hell, where I may swim in fire and brimstone?’ 3. Consider thus with thyself: ‘Would I be glad to have all, every one of my sins, to come in against me, to inflame the justice of God against me?
Would I be glad to be bound up in them, as the three children were bound in their clothes, and to be as really thrown into the fiery furnace of the wrath of almighty God, as they were into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace?’ 4. Consider thus: ‘Would I be glad to have all and every one of the ten commandments to discharge themselves against my soul? The first saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me; the second saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me, and so on to the end. Consider how terrible this will be, yea more terrible than if thou shouldst have ten of the biggest pieces of ordnance in England to be discharged against thy body — thunder, thunder, one after another. Nay, this would not be comparable to the reports that the law (for the breach thereof) will give against thy soul: for those can but kill the body, but these will kill both body and soul; and that not for an hour, a day, a month, or a year; but they will condemn thee for ever.
Mark, it is for ever, for ever. It is into everlasting damnation, eternal destruction, eternal wrath and displeasure from God, eternal gnawings of conscience, eternal continuance with devils. O consider. It may be, the thought of seeing the devil doth now make thine hair to stand right up on thine head. O but this, to be damned, to be among all the devils, and that not only for a time, as I said before, but for ever, to all eternity! This is to be so wonderfully miserable, ever miserable, that no tongue of man, no, nor of angels, is able to express it. 5. Consider much with thyself: ‘Not only my sins against the law will be laid to my charge, but also the sins I have committed in slighting the gospel, the glorious gospel: these also must come with a voice against me.
As thus Nay, he is worthy to be damned, for he rejected the gospel, he slighted the free grace, of God tendered in the gospel. How many times wast thou (lost wretch)invited, entreated, beseeched, to come to Christ, to accept of mercy, that thou mightst have heaven, thy sins pardoned, thy soul saved, thy body and soul glorified; and all this for nothing but the acceptance; and through faith forsaking those imps of Satan, which by their embracements have drawn thee down toward the gulf of God’s eternal displeasure?
How often didst thou read the promises, yea the free promises of the common salvation? How oft didst thou read the sweet counsels and admonitions of the gospel, to accept of the grace of God? But thou wouldst not, thou regardedst it now, thou didst slight all.
Again, that which will add to all the rest, thou shalt have the very mercy of God, the blood of Christ, the preachers of the word, together with every sermon, all the promise, invitations, exhortations, and all the counsels and threatenings of the blessed word of God; thou shalt have all thy thoughts, words, and actions, together with all thy food, thy raiment, thy sleep, thy goods, and also all hours, days, weeks, months, and years, together with whatsoever else God hath given thee; I say, thy abuse of all these shall come up in judgment against thy soul; for God will reckon with thee for every thing, whether it be good or bad. Eccclesiastes 12:14.
Nay, further, it is so unreasonable a thing for a sinner to refuse the gospel, that the very devils themselves will come in against thee, as well as Sodom, that damned crew. May not they, I say, come in against thee, and say, ‘O thou simple man! O vile wretch! that had not so much care of thy soul, thy precious soul, as the beast hath of its young, or the dog of the very bone that lieth before him? Was thy soul worth so much, and didst thou so little regard it? Were the thunder-claps of the law so terrible, and didst thou so slight them? Besides, was the gospel so freely, so frequently, so fully tendered to thee, and yet hast thou rejected all these things?
Didst thou never hear or read that doleful saying in the 16th of Luke, how the sinful man cries out among the flames, One drop of water to cool my tongue?’ Thus, I say, may the very devils, being ready to go with thee into the burning furnace of fire and brimstone, though not for sins of so high a nature as thine, trembling say, ‘O that Christ had died for devils, as he died for man! And, O that the gospel had been preached to us, as it hath been to thee! How would we have labored to have closed in with it! But woe be to us, for we might never have it proffered; no, not in the least, though we would have been glad of it. But you, you have had it proffered, preaehed, and proclaimed unto you. Proverbs 8:4. Besides, you have been entreareal and beseeched to accept it, but you would not. O simple fools! that might have escaped wrath, vengeance, hell-fire, and that to all eternity, and had no heart to do it.?
May not the messengers of Jesus Christ also come in with a shrill and terrible note against thy soul, when thou standest at the bar of God’s justice, saying, ‘ Nay, thou ungodly one, how often hast thou been forewarned of this day? Did not we sound an alarm in thine ears, by the trumpet of God’s word, day after day? How often didst thou hear us tell thee of these things? Did we not tell thee, sin would damn thy soul? Did we not tell thee, that without conversion there was no salvation? Did we not tell thee, that they who loved their sins, should be damned at this dark and gloomy day, (as thou art like to be)? Yea, did we not tell thee, that God, out of his love to sinners, sent Christ to die for them, that they might, by coming to him be saved? Did we not tell thee of these things?
Did we not run, ride, labor, and strive abundantly (if it might have been) for thy soul, (though now a damned soul)? Did we not venture our goods, our names, our lives? Yea, did we not even kill ourselves with our earnest entreaties of thee to consider thy state, and by Christ, to escape this dreadful day?’ O sad doom! when thou shalt be forced, full sore against thy will, to fall under the truth of this judgment, saying, “O how have I hated instruction, and how hath my heart despised reproof! (for indeed) I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me.” Proverbs 5:12,13.
May not thy father, thy mother, thy brother, thy sister, thy friend, etc, appear with gladness against thee at the terrible day; saying, ‘O thou silly wretch, how rightly hath God met with thee O how righteously doth his sentence pass upon thee! Remember thou wouldst not be ruled, nor persuaded in thy lifetime. As thou didst not care for us and our admonitions then; so neither do we care for thy ruin, terror, and damnation now. No, but we will stand on God’s side, in sentencing thee to that portion which the devils must be partakers of.’ “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his foot in the blood of the wicked.” Psalm 58:10.
O sad! It is enough to make mountains tremble, and rocks rend in pieces, to hear this doleful sound. Consider these things; and if thou wouldst be loath to be in this condition, then have a care of living in sin now.
How loath wilt thou be to be thrust away from the gates of heaven I And how loath wilt thou be to be deprived of the mercy of God! How unwillingly wilt thou set foot forward towards the lake of fire! Never did malefactor so unwillingly turn off the ladder, when the halter was about his neck, as thou wilt turn from God to the devil, from heaven to hell, when the sentence is passed upon thy soul. O how wilt thou sigh and groan! how willingly wouldst thou hide thyself, and run away from justice! But alas! as it is with them that are on the ladder ready to be executed, so it will be with thee. They would fain run away; but there are many halbertmen to stay them; and so the angels of God will beset thee round, I say, round on every side; so that thou mayst indeed look, but run thou canst not. Thou mayst wish thyself under some rock or mountain ( Revelation 6:15,16); but how to get under, thou knowest not.
O how unwilling wilt thou be to let thy father go to heaven without thee! to let thy mother, or friends go to heaven without thee! How willingly wouldst thou hang on them, and not let them go! ‘O father! cannot you help me? Mother, cannot you do me some good? O how loath am I to burn and fry in hell, while you are singing in heaven!’ But aids! the father, mother, or friends, reject them, slight them, and turn their backs upon them, saying, ‘You would have none of heaven in your lifetime, therefore you shall have none of it now; you slighted our counsels then, and we slight your tears, cries, and condition now.’ What sayest thou, sinner? Will not this persuade thine heart, or make thee bethink thyself? that is, now, before thou fall into that dreadful place, the fiery furnace. But O consider how dreadful the place itself, the devils themselves, the fire itself, will be!
And this at the end of all, Here thou must lie for ever! here thou must fry for ever and for ever! This will be more to thee than any man with tongue can express, or with pen can write. There is none, I say, that can, by the ten thousandth part, discover the miserable state and condition of such a soul. Secondly, As I would have thee to consider the sad and woeful state of those that die out of Christ, and are past all recovery, so would I have thee consider the many mercies and privileges thou enjoyest above some (peradventure) of thy companions that are departed to their proper place, As, 1. Consider thou hast still the thread of thy life lengthened, which for thy sins might seven years ago, or more, have been cut asunder, and thou have dropt down among the flames. 2. Consider the terms of reconciliation by faith in Christ are still proffered unto thee, and thou invited, yea entreared to accept of them. 3. Consider the terms of reconciliation are hub — bear with me though I say, but — only to believe in Jesus Christ, with faith that purifies the heart, and enables thy soul to feed on him effectually, and be saved from this sad state. 4. Consider the time of thy departure is at hand, and the time is uncertain, and also that for aught thou knowest, the day of grace may be past to thee before thou diest, not lasting so long as thy uncertain life in this world.
And if so, then know for certain, that thou art as sure to be damned, as if thou wast in hell already, if thou convert not in the meanwhile. 5. Consider it may be some of thy friends are giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure, being resolved for heaven, and thou thyself endeavorest as fast to make sure of hell, as if resolved to have it; and together with this, consider how it will grieve thee, that while thou wast making sure of hell, thy friends were making sure of heaven. :But more of this by and by. 6. Consider what a sad reflection this will have on thy soul, to see thy friends in heaven, and thyself in hell; thy father in heaven, and thou in hell; thy mother in heaven, and thou in hell; thy brother, thy sister, thy children, in heaven, and thou in hell. As Christ said to the Jews of their relations according to the flesh, so may I say to thee concerning thy friends, There shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see your fathers and mothers, brethren and sisters, husbands and wives, children and kinsfolk, with your friends and neighbors, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou thyself thrust out. Luke 13:28-29.
But again, thirdly, because I would not only tell thee of the damnable, state of those that die out of Christ, but also persuade thee to take hold of life, and go to heaven, take notice of these following things. 1. Consider, that whatever thou canst do, as to thy acceptance with God, is not worth the dirt of thy shoes, but is all as menstruous rags. Isaiah 64:6. 2. Consider, that all the conditions of the new covenant (as to salvation) are and have been completely fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that for sinners. Hebrews 8:6. 3. Consider, that the Lord calls to thee to receive whatsoever Christ hath done, and that on free cost. Revelation 22:17. 4. Consider that thou canst not honor God more, than to close in with his proffers, of grace, mercy; and pardon of sin. Roman 4.
I shall conclude this head, then, with a few considerations of encouragement.
Consider (for I would fain have thee come in, sinner) that there is a way, made by Jesus Christ, for them that are under the curse of God, to come to this comfortable and blessed state of Lazarus I was speaking of. Ephesians 2.
Consider what pains Christ Jesus took for the ransoming of thy soul from all the curses, thunder-claps, and tempests of the law; from all the intolerable flames of hell; from that soul-sinking appearance of thy person (on the left hand) before the judgment-seat of Christ Jesus; from everlasting fellowship with innumerable companies of yelling, and soulamazing devils.
I say, consider what pains the Lord Jesus Christ took in bringing in redemption for sinners, from these things, in that though he was rich; yet he became poor, that thou, through his poverty, might be made rich. Corinthians 8:9. He laid aside his glory, and became a servant. John 17.; Philippians 2. He left the company of angels, and encountered with the devil. Luke 4.; Matthew 4. He left heaven’s ease for a time, to lie upon hard mountains. John 8. In a word, he became poorer than those that go with flail and rake; yea, than the very birds or foxes; and all to do thee good.
Besides, consider a little those unspeakable and intolerable slightings and rejections, and the manifold abuses that came from men upon him: how he was falsely accused, being a sweet, harmless, and undefiled lamb; how he was undervalued, so that a murderer was counted less worthy of condemnation than he. Besides, how they mock him, spit on him, beat him over the head with staves, and pluck the hair from his cheeks. “I gave my back to the smiters,” saith he, “and my cheeks to them that plucked of the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” Think of his head crowned with thorns, his hands pierced with nails, and his side with a spear! together with how they scourged him, and so miserably misused him, that they had even spent him in a great measure before they did crucify him; insomuch that there was another fain to carry his cross.
Again, not only this, but lay to heart a little what he received from God his dear rather, though he was his dear and tender Son. First, in that he did deal with him as the greatest sinner and rebel in the world; for he laid the sins of thousands, and ten thousands, and thousands of thousands of sinners to his charge ( Isaiah 53.), and caused him to drink the terrible cup that was due to them all; and not only so, but did delight in so doing; for “it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” God dealt indeed with his Son, as Abraham would have dealt with Isaac; ay, and more terrible by ten thousand parts; for he did not only tear his body like a lion, but made his soul an offering for sin.
And this was not done feignedly, but really; for justice called for it, he standing in the room of sinners. Witness that horrible and unspeakable agony that fell on him suddenly in the garden, as if all the vials of God’s unspeakable scalding vengeance had been east upon him all at once, and all the devils in hell had broken loose from thence at once to destroy him, and that for ever; insomuch that the very pangs of death seized upon him in the same hour. For, saith he, My soul is amazed and exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Mark 14:33,34.
Witness also that strange kind of sweat that trickled down his most blessed face, where it is said, he sweat, as it were great drops, or dodders, of blood, trickling down to the ground. O Lord Jesus! what a load didst thou carry! what a burden didst thou bear of the sins of the world, and the wrath of God! O thou didst not only bleed at nose and mouth, with the pressure that lay upon thee, but thou wast so pressed, so loaden, that the pure blood gushed through the flesh and skin, and so ran trickling down to the ground! “And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood,” trickling or “falling clown to the ground.” Luke 22:44. Canst thou read this, O thou wicked sinner, and yet go on in sin? Canst thou think of this, and defer repentance one hour longer? O heart of flint, yea, harder! O miserable wretch! what place in hell will be hot enough for thee, to have thy soul put into, if thou shalt persist, or go on still, to add iniquity to iniquity?
Besides, his soul went down to hell ( Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31), and his body to the bars of the grave: and had hell, death, or the grave, been strong enough to hold him, then he had suffered the vengeance of eternal fire to all eternity. But, O Blessed Jesus! how didst thou discover thy love to man in thy thus suffering And, O God the Father! how didst thou also declare the purity and exactness of thy justice, in that, though it was thine only, holy, innocent, harmless, and undefiled Son Jesus, that did take on him our nature, and represent our persons, answering for our sins, instead of ourselves, thou didst so wonderfully pour out thy wrath upon him, to the making of him cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And, O Lord Jesus! what a glorious conquest hast thou made over the enemies of our souls, even wrath, sin, death, hell, and devils, in that thou didst wring thyself from under the power of them all! and not only so, but hast led them captive which would have led us captive; and also hast received for us that glorious and unspeakable inheritance, that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man” to conceive: and also hast given us some discovery thereof through thy Spirit.
And now, sinner, together with this, consider, Fourthly, That though Jesus Christ hath done all these things for sinners, yet the devils make it their whole work, and continual study, how they may keep thee and others from enjoying these blessed privileges that have been thus obtained for sinners by this sweet Jesus. Satan labors, I say, 1. To keep thee ignorant of thy state by nature. 2. To harden thy heart against the ways of God. 3. To inflame thy heart with love to sin and the ways of darkness.
And, 4. To get thee to continue therein. For that is the way, he knows, to get thee to be a partaker with him of flaming hellfire, even the same which he himself is fallen into, together with the rest of the wicked world by reason of sin. Look to it therefore. Fifthly, But now, in the next place, a word of encouragement to you that are the saints of the Lord. 1. Consider, what a happy state thou art in, that hast gotten the faith of the Lord Jesus unto thy soul. But be sure thou have it, I say, how safe, how sure, how happy art thou! For when others go to hell, thou must go to heaven; when others go to the devil, thou must go to God; when others go to prison, thou must be set at liberty, at ease, and at freedom; when others must roar for sorrow of heart, then thou shalt also sing for the joy of heart. 2. Consider, thou must have all thy well spent life to follow thee, instead of all thy sins; and the glorious blessings of the gospel, instead of the dreadful curses and condemnations of the law; the blessing of the Father, instead of a fiery sentence from the Judge. 3. Let dissolution come when it will, it can do thee no harm; for it will be but only a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a sea of troubles, into an haven of rest; out of a crowd of enemies, to an innumerable company of true, loving, and faithful friends; out of shame, reproach, and contempt, into exceeding great and eternal glory. For death shall not hurt thee with his sting, nor bite thee with his soul-murdering teeth, but shall be a welcome guest to thee, even to thy soul, in that it is sent to free thee from thy troubles which thou art in, whilst here in this world, dwelling in the tabernacle of clay. 4. Consider, however it goes with friends and relations, yet it will go well with thee. Ecclesiastes 8:12. However it goes with the wicked, yet I know, mark, yet “I know (saith he) that it shall go well with them that fear the Lord, that fear before him.”
And therefore, let this, in the first place, cause thee cheerfully to exercise thy patience under all the calamities, crosses, troubles, and afflictions that may come upon thee; and by patient continuance in well-doing, to commit both thyself, and thine affairs, and actions, into the hands of God, through Jesus Christ, as to a faithful Creator, who is true to his word, and loveth to give unto thee whatsoever he hath promised to thee. 5. And therefore, to encourage thee, while thou art here, with comfort to hold on, for all thy crosses in this thy journey; be much in considering the place that thou must go into, so soon as dissolution comes.
It must be into heaven, to God the judge of all, to an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, and to Jesus (to the Redeemer) who is the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things for thee than Abel’s did for Cain. Hebrews 12:22, 23, 24.
Consider, that whence time of the dead, that they shall be raised, is come, then shall thy body be raised out of the grave and be glorified, and be made like to Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:21. O excellent condition!
When Jesus Christ shall sit on the throne of his glory, you shall also sit with him, even when he shall sit on the throne of his glory. O will not this be glorious, that when thousands, and thousands of thousands, shall be arraigned before the judgment-seat of Christ, then for them to sit with him upon the throne, together with him to pass the sentence upon the ungodly? 1 Corinthians 6:2,3. Will it not be glorious to enjoy those things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man to conceive?
Will it not be glorious to have this sentence, “Come ye, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world?” Will it not be glorious to enter then, with the angels and saints, into that glorious kingdom? Will it not be glorious for thee to be in glory with them, while others are in unutterable torments? O then! how will it comfort thee to see thou hast not lost that glory; to think that the devil hath not got thy soul, that thy soul should be saved, and that not from a little, but a great, exceeding danger; not with a little, but a great salvation.
O! therefore, let the saints be joyful in glory; let them triumph over all their enemies. Let them begin to sing heaven upon earth, triumph before they come to glory, even when they are in the midst of their enemies: for this honor shall all his saints have. <19E905> Psalm 149:5-9.
IN the verses foregoing you see there is a discovery of the lamentable state of the poor soul that dies out of Christ, and the special favor of God; and also, how little the glorious God of heaven doth regard, and take notice of their most miserable condition.
Now, in this verse, he doth magnify the words which were spoken to the people by the prophets and apostles, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” As if he should say, Thou askest me that I should send Lazarus back again into the world, to preach to them that live there, that they might escape that doleful place that thou art in! What needs that? Have they not Moses and the prophets? Have they not had my ministers and servants sent unto them, and coming as from me? I sent Enoch and Noah, Moses and Samuel; I sent David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and the rest of the prophets, together with Peter, Paul, John, Matthew, James, Jude, with the rest; “let them hear them.”
What they have spoken by divine inspiration I will own, whether it be for the damnation of those that reject, or the saving of them that receive their doctrine. And, therefore, what need have they that one should be sent unto them in another way? “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them;” let them receive their word, and close in with the doctrine declared by them. The things that I shall observe, from hence, are these: 1. That the scriptures, spoken by the hob, men of God, are a sufficient rule to instruct to salvation, them that do assuredly believe and close in with what they hold forth. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” That is, If they would escape that doleful place, and be saved, indeed, from the intolerable pains of hell-fire, as they desire, they have that which is sufficient to counsel them: “They have Moses and the prophets;” let them be instructed by them, “let them hear them.” “For all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Why? “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished to all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
Do but mark these words, All scripture is profitable. All; take it where you will, and what place you will: all is profitable. For what? “That the man of God,” or be that is bound for heaven, should instruct others in their progress thither.
It is profitable to instruct him, in case he be ignorant; to reprove him, in case he transgress; to correct him, if he hath need of it; to confirm him, if he be wavering. It is profitable for doctrine; and all this in a very righteous way, that the poor soul may not only be helped, but thoroughly furnished, not only to some, but to all good works. And when Paul would counsel Timothy to stick close to the things that are sound and sure, presently he puts him upon the scripture, saying, “Thou hast, from a child, known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The scriptures hold forth God’s mind and will, his love and mercy towards man, and also the creature’s carriage towards him, from first to last; so, if thou wouldst know the love of God in Christ to sinners, then, “Search the scriptures, for they are they that testify of him.”
Wouldst thou know what thou art, and what is in thine heart? then search the scriptures, and see what is written in them. Romans 3:9-18; Romans 1:29-31; Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Ephesians 4:18, with many others. The scriptures, I say, are able to give a man perfect instruction into any of the things of God, necessary to faith and godliness, if he hath but an honest heart, seriously to weigh and ponder the several things contained in them. As to instance, in things more particular, for the further clearing up of this: And first, if we come to the creation of the world, — Wouldst thou know somewhat concerning that?
Wouldst thou know whether he made them of something or nothing? Read Hebrews 11:3.
Wouldst thou know whither God did place man after he had made him?
Read Genesis 2:15.
Wouldst thou know whether that man did live there all his time or not?
Then read Genesis 3:23,24.
If thou wouldst know whether man be still in that state, by nature, that God did place him in, then read Ecclesiastes 7:29, and compare it with Romans 5:16; Ephesians 2:1,2,3. “God made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions.”
Wouldst thou know how God could still love his creatures, and do his justice no wrong? Read Romans 3:24-26, “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
That is, God having his justice satisfied in the blood, and righteousness, and death of his own Son Jesus Christ for the sins of poor sinners, he can now save them that come to him, though ever so great sinners, and do his justice no wrong; because it hath had a full and complete satisfaction given it by that blood. 1 John 2:2.
Wouldst thou know whether he did rise again after he was crucified, with the very same body? Then read Luke 24:38-41.
If thou wouldst know that the Quakers hold an error, that say the body of Christ is within them, consider the same scripture. 25.
Wouldst thou know whether they that live and die in their sins, shall go to heaven or not? Then read 1 Corinthians 6:10; Revelation 21:8,27, which saith, they “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”
Wouldst thou know how far a man may go in a profession of the gospel, and yet fall away? Then read Hebrews 6:4-6. They may taste the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; they may taste the heavenly gift, and be partakers of the Holy Ghost, and yet so fall as never to be recovered, or renewed again unto repentance. See also Luke 13.
Wouldst thou know what, or who they are that. shall go to heaven? Then read John 3:3,5,7, and 2 Corinthians 5:7. Also, wouldst thou know what a sad thing it is for any to turn their backs upon the gospel of Jesus Christ? Then read Hebrews 10:28,29, and Mark 16:16.
Reader, here might I spend many sheets of paper, yea, I might upon this subject write a very great book; but I shall now forbear, desiring thee to be very conversant in the scriptures; for they are they that will testify of Jesus Christ. John 5:39. The Bereans were counted noble upon this account: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily.” Acts 17:11.
But here let me give thee one caution, that is, have a care that thou do not satisfy thyself with a bare search of them, without a real application of him whom they testify of to thy soul; lest instead of faring better for thy doing this work, thou dost fare a great deal worse, and thy condemnation be very much heightened; in that though thou didst read so often the sad state of those that die in sin, and the glorious state of them that close in with Christ, yet thou thyself shouldst be such a fool as to lose Jesus Christ, notwithstanding thy hearing and reading so plentifully of him. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” As if he should say, What need have they that one should be sent to them from the dead?
Have they not Moses and the prophets? Hath not Moses told them the danger of living in sin? Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Deuteronomy 28:15-21, etc. in the end of the chapter; also Deuteronomy 29:18-22. Hath he not there, told them, what a sad state those persons are in, that deceive themselves with the deceit of their hearts, saying, they shall have peace though they follow their sins, in these words: “And when he heareth the words of this curse, and blesseth himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace though I walk, (or go on)in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The Lord will not spare him; but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.”
Again, Did not Moses write of the Savior that was to come afterwards into the world? Deuteronomy 18:18. Nay, have not all the prophets, from Samuel, with all those that follow after, prophesied, and foretold these things? Therefore what need have they that God should work a miracle, to send one from the dead unto them? “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” 9. From whence observe again, that God doth honor the writings of Moses and the prophets as much, nay more, than if one should rise from the dead.
What! “seek for the living to the dead? Should not a people seek unto their God? To the law, and to the testimony, (saith God): if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19,20.
And let me tell you plainly, I do believe that the devil knows this full well, which makes him labor to beget in the hearts of his disciples and followers, light thoughts of the scriptures; and doth persuade them, that even a motion from their own beguiled conscience, or from his own wicked spirit, is to be observed and obeyed before them. When the very apostle of Jesus Christ, though he heard a voice from the excellent glory, saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear him;” yet in writing to the churches, even he commends the writings of the prophets before it, saying, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed :” 2 Peter 1:17-19. Now if thou doubtest whether in that place he meant the scriptures, the words of the prophets, or no; read but the next verse, where he addeth for a certain confirmation thereof these words: “Knowing this first, that there is no prophecy of the scriptures, of any private interpretation: for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
And therefore what a sad thing is it for those that go about to disown the scriptures! I tell you, however they may slight them now, yet when they come into hell, they will see their folly. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Further, Who are they that are so tossed to and fro, with the several winds of doctrine that have been broached in these days, but such for the most part, as have had a light esteem of the scriptures? for the ground of error is (as Christ saith) because they know not them. Mark 12:24. And indeed, it is just with God to give them over (to follow their own dark, blinded consciences; to be led into errors, that they might be damned in hell) who do not believe that the things contained in the scripture are the truth, that they might be saved and go to heaven. I cannot well tell HOW to have done speaking for, and on the scriptures’ side; only this I consider, — A word is enough to the wise. And therefore I shall commit these things into the hands of them that are of God. And as for the rest, I shall say to them, rather than God will save them from hell with the breach of his holy word, if they had a thousand souls a-piece, God would destroy them all. “For the scripture cannot be broken.” John 10:35.
THE verse before, you know, as I told you, it was part of an answer to such as lose their souls; so it is a vindication of the scriptures of Moses and the prophets: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Now this verse is an answer to what was said in the former, and such an one as hath in it a rejection of the former answer. “Nay, father Abraham,” nay, saith he, do not say so; do not put them off with this; send one from the dead, and then there will be some hopes. It is true, thou speakest of the scripture, of Moses and the prophets, and sayest, “Let them hear them;’ but these things are not so well as I could wish: I had rather thou would send one from the dead. In these words therefore, “Nay, father Abraham,” there is a repulse given: Nay, let it not be so. Nay, I do not like that answer. Hear Moses and the prophets? nay. The same expression is used by Christ, Luke 13:4,5. Think you that they upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, were sinners above others? “I tell you nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” So here, “Nay, father Abraham.” By this word. “Nay,” therefore, is signified a rejecting the first answer.
Now observe, I pray you, the reason why he says, Nay, is, because God doth put over all those that would be saved, to observe and receive the truth contained in the scriptures, and believe that, — to have a high esteem of them, and to love and search them; as Christ saith, “Search the scriptures, — for they are they which testify of me? John 5:39. But the damned say, Nay. As if he had said, ‘This is the thing: to be short, my brethren are unbelievers, and do not regard the word of God. I know it by myself: for when I was in the world, it was so with me. Many a good sermon did I hear; many a time was I admonished, desired, en-treated, beseeched, threatened, forewarned, of what I now suffer; but, alas! I was ignorant, self-conceited, surly, obstinate, and rebellious. Many a time the preachers told me, hell would be my portion; the devil would wreak his malice on me; God would pour on me his sore displeasure; but he had as good have preached to the stock, to the post, to the stones I trod on; his words rang in my ears, but I kept them from my heart. I remember he alleged many a scripture; but those I valued not. The scriptures, thought I, what are they? A dead letter, a little ink and paper, of three or four shillings price. Alas! What is the scripture? Give me a ballad, a news-book, George on Horseback, or Bevis of Southampton. Give me some book that teaches curious arts, that tells of old fables; but for the holy scriptures I care not. And as it was with me then, so it is with my brethren now. We were all in one spirit; loved all the same sins; slighted all the same counsels, promises, encouragement, and threatenings of the scriptures. And they are still, as I left them; still in unbelief, still provoking God, and rejecting good counsel; so hardened in their ways, so bent to follow sin, that let the scriptures be showed to them daily, let the messengers of Christ preach till their hearts ache; — till they fall down dead with preaching — they will rather trample it under foot, and, swine-like, rend them, than close in with those gentle and blessed proffers of the gospel. “Nay, father Abraham: but if one should rise from the dead, they would repent.” Though they have Moses and the prophets (the scriptures) they will not repent and close in with Jesus Christ, although the scriptures do witness against them. If, therefore, there be any good done to them, they must have it another way.
I think, saith he, it would work much on them, if one should rise from the dead.’
And this truth indeed is so evident, that ungodly men have a light esteem of the scriptures, that it needs not many strong arguments to prove it; being so evidently manifested by their every day’s practice, both in words and actions, almost in all things they say and do. Yet, for the satisfaction of the reader, I shall show you, by a scripture or two (though I might show many)that this was, and is, true, with the generality of the world. See the words of Nehemiah, in his 9th chapter, concerning the children of Israel, who, though the Lord offered them mercy upon mercy, as it is from Nehemiah 9:19 to Nehemiah 9:25; yet Nehemiah 9:26, saith he, “Nevertheless, they were disobedient (for all thy goodness towards them), and rebelled against thee, (but how?) and cast thy law behind their back, and slew the prophets, which testified against them to turn them to thee; and they wrought great provocations.” Observe, 1. They sinned against mercy. And then, 2. They slighted the law, or word of God. 3. They slew the prophets that declared it unto them. 4. The Lord counts it a great provocation. See Hebrews 3:10-19.
And see Zechariah 7:11,12, “But they refused to hearken” (saith he there to the wicked), “and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear (the law). Yea, they made their hearts hard as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts sent unto them, by his Spirit, in the former prophets.”
Mark, I pray you, hero is also, 1. A refusing to hearken to the words of the prophets. 2. That they might so do, they stopped their cars. 3. If any-thing was to be done, they pulled away their shoulder. 4. To effect this, they labor to make their hearts as an adamant stone. 5. And all this, lest they should hear and close in with Jesus, and live, and be delivered from the wrath to come.
All which things do hold out an unwillingness to submit to the words of God, and so embrace Jesus Christ, who is testified of by them. Many other scriptures I might bring in for confirmation of the thing; as that in Amos 7:12,13; also 1 Samuel 3:24,25; 2 Chronicles 25:15,16; Jeremiah 7:23,27; Jeremiah 16:12. Read also, seriously, that saying in 2 Chronicles 36:15, where he saith, “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them, by his messengers rising up betimes — because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place.” And did they make them welcome? No; “But they mocked the messenger of God, and despised his words.” And was that all? No; They “misused the prophets.”
And besides, the conversation of almost all men doth bear witness to the same, both religious and profane persons, in that they daily neglect, reject, and turn their backs upon the plain testimony of the scriptures.
As, for example. Take the threatenings laid down in holy writ, and how are they disregarded? 1. There are but a few places in the Bible but there are threatenings against one sinner or other; against drunkards, swearers, liars, proud persons, strumpets, whoremongers, covetous, railers, extortioners, thieves, lazy persons; in a word, all manner of sins are reproved; and without faith in the Lord Jesus, there is a sore punishment to be executed on the committers of them; and all this made mention of in the scriptures.
But for all this, how thick, and by heaps, do these wretches walk up and down our streets! Do but go into the alehouse, and you shall see almost every room besprinkled with them; so foaming out their own shame, that it is enough to make the heart of a saint to tremble; insomuch that they would not be bound to have society with them any long while, for all the world. For as the ways of the godly are not liked by the wicked, even so the ways of the wicked are “an abomination to the just.” Proverbs 29:27; <19C005> Psalm 120:5,6. 2. The scriptures say, “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:5.
And yet, how many poor souls are there in the world, that stand in so much awe and dread of men, and do so highly esteem their favor, that with their favor, they will rather venture their souls in the hands of the devil, than they will fly to Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls! Nay, though they be convinced, in their souls, that the way is the way of God, yet, how do they labor to stifle conviction, and turn their cars away from the truth; and all because they will not lose the favor of an opposing neighbor? ‘O I dare not for my master, my brother, my landlord; I shall lose his favor, his house of work, and so decay in my calling.’ ‘O!’ saith another, ‘I would willingly go in this way, but for my father; he chides, and tells me he will not stand my friend, when I come to want; I shall never enjoy a pennyworth of his goods; he will disinherit me.’ ‘ And I not,’ saith another, ‘for my husband; he will be a-railing, and tells me he will turn me out of doors, he will beat me, and cut off my legs.’ :But I tell you, if any of these, or any other things, be so prevalent with thee now, as to keep thee from seeking after Christ in his ways, they will also be so prevalent with God against thee, as to make him cast off thy soul; because thou didst rather trust man than God, and delight in the embracing of man rather than in the favor of the Lord. 3. Again, the scripture saith, “He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy. Proverbs 29:1. Yet many are so far from turning (though they have been convinced of their wretched state an hundred times), that when conviction or trouble for sin comes on their consciences, they go on still in the same manner, resisting and choking the same, though remediless destruction be hard at their heels. 4. Again, thou hast heard say, Unless a man be born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. John 3:3,5,7. And yet thou goest on in a natural state, an unregenerate condition; nay, thou dost resolve never to turn, nor be changed, though hell be appointed on purpose to swallow up such. Isaiah 14:9. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalm 9:17. 5. Again, the scripture saith plainly, that he that loveth and maketh a lie, shall have his portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. Revelation 21:8,27. And yet thou art so far from dreading it, that it is thy delight to jest and jeer, and lie for a penny, or twopence, or sixpence again. And also if thou make the rest of thy companions merry, by telling things that are false of them that are better than thyself, thou dost not care a straw. Or if thou hearest a lie from, or of another, thou wilt tell it, and swear to the truth of it. O miserable! 6. Thou hast heard and read, that “He that believeth not, shall be damned” ( Mark 16:16); and that all men have not faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
And yet thou dost so much disregard these things, that it is likely thou didst scarce ever so much as examine seriously whether thou wast in the faith or no; but dost content thyself with the hypocrite’s hope, which at the last God will cut off, counting it no better than the spider’s web ( Job 8:13,14), or the house that is built on the sands. Luke 6:49.
Nay, thou peradventure dost flatter thyself, and thinkest that thy faith is as the best of them all; when alas! poor soul, thou mayst have no saving faith at all; which thou hast not, if thou art not born again, and made a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5.17. 7. Thou hast heard, that he that neglects God’s great salvation, shall never escape his great damnation, Hebrews 2:3, compared with Luke 14:24; and Revelation 14:19,20. And yet when thou art invited, entreated and beseeched to come in ( Luke 14:17,18; 2 Corinthians 5:19,20; Romans 12:1) thou wilt make any excuse to serve the turn. Nay, thou wilt be so wicked, as to put off Christ time after time, notwithstanding he is so freely proffered to thee; a little ground, a few oxen, a farm, a wife, a twopenny matter, a play; nay, the fear of a mock, a scoff, or a jeer, is of greater weight to draw thee back, than the salvation of thy soul to draw thee forward. 8. And thou hast heard that whosoever would be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God. James 4:4. But thou regardest not these things; but contrariwise, rather than thou wilt be out of the friendship and favor of this world, thou wilt sin against thine own conscience, and get thyself into favor by fawning and flattering the world; yea, rather than thou wilt go without it, thou wilt dissemble, lie, back-bite thy neighbor; and an hundred other tricks thou wilt have. 9. You have heard, that the day of judgment is near; in which you and I, and all of us must appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, and there be made to give an account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead, even of all that ever we did; yea, of all our sins in thought, word, and deed; and shall certainly be damned for them toe, if we close not in with our Lord Jesus Christ, and what he hath done and suffered, for eternal life; and that not nationally or traditionally but really and savingly, in the power and by the operation of the Spirit, through faith. Ecclesiastes 11:9; Hebrews 9:27; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:30,31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books.”
There is the book of the creatures, the book of conscience, the book of the Lord’s remembrance, the book of the law, the book of the gospel. Romans 1:20; compared with Romans 2:12,15; Revelation 22:19; John 12:48. “Then shall he separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left; and shall say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed; but to the other, Go, or depart ye cursed.” Matthew 25:30,31,32,34,41.
Yet, notwithstanding the scriptures do so plainly and plentifully speak of these things, alas! who is there that is weaned from the world, and from his sins and pleasures, to fly the wrath to come! Matthew 3:7. They are so certain, too! Notwithstanding the scripture saith also, that heaven and earth shall pass away, rather than one jot, or one tittle of the word shall fail, till all be fulfilled. Luke 16:17.
But leaving the threatenings, let us come to the promises, and speak somewhat of them; and you may see how light men make of them, and how little they set by them, not. withstanding the mouth of the Lord hath spoken them.
And yet persons had rather be in their foolishness and scorning still, and had rather embrace some filthy lust, than the holy, undefiled, and blessed Spirit of Christ, through the promise, though by it as many as receive it are sealed unto the day of redemption ( Ephesians 4:30); and although he that lives and dies without it is none of Christ’s. Romans 8:9. 2. God hath said, if you do but come to him in Christ, “though your sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; and he will by no means cast thee away.” Compare Isaiah 1:18, with John 6:37 Yet poor souls will not come to Christ that they might have life ( John 5:40); but rather, after their hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Romans 2:4,5,6. 3. Christ hath said in the word of truth, That if any man will serve and follow him, “where he is, there shall also his servant be.” John 12:26.
But yet poor souls choose rather to follow sin, Satan, and the world, though their companions be devils and damned souls for ever. Matthew 25:41. 4. He hath also said, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added.” Matthew 6:33.
And if it be so, that they must needs seek after heaven, or else be damned; they must stay till they have more leisure, or till they can better attend to it, or till they have other things handsome about them, or till they are older; when they have little else to do, or when they come to be sick and die. Then, ‘Lord have mercy upon them!’ though it be ten thousand to one but they perish for ever.
For commonly the Lord hath his way to deal with sinners, who put him off when he is striving with them, either to laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh ( Proverbs 1:26,28); or else send them to the gods they have served, which are the devils: “Go to the gods ye have served,” saith he, “and let them deliver you.” Judges 10:13,14.
Compare this with John 8:44. 5. He hath said, “there is no man that forsaketh father, or mother, wife, children, or lands for his sake and the gospel’s, but he shall have a hundred fold in this world, with persecutions, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Mark 10:29,30.
But men, for the most part, are so far off from believing the certainty of this, they will scarce lose the earning of a penny to hear the word of God, the gospel of salvation. Nay, they will neither go themselves, nor suffer others to go (if they can help it), without threatening to do them a mischief, if it lie in their way. Nay, further, many are so far from parting from any worldly gain for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, that they are still striving by hook and by crook, as we say; by swearing, lying, cozening, stealing, covetousness, extortion, oppression, forgery, bribery, flattery, or any other way, to get more; though they get, together with these, death, wrath, damnation, hell, the devil, and all the plagues that God can pour upon them. And if any do not run with them on the same excess of riot, but rather for all their threats, will be so bold and careless (as they call it) as to follow the ways of God; if they can do no more, yet they will whet their tongues like a sword to wound them, and do them the greatest mischief they can, both in speaking against them to neighbors, to wives, to husbands, to landlords, and raising false reports of them. But let such take heed, lest they be in such a state and woeful condition as he was in, who said, in vexation and anguish of soul, One drop of cold water to cool my tongue!
Thus might I add many things out of holy writ, both threatenings and promises, besides those heavenly counsels, loving reproofs, free invitations to all sorts of sinners, both old and young, rich and poor, bond and free, wise and unwise; all which have been, now are, and it is to be feared, as long as this world lasts, will be, trampled under the feet of those swine (I call not men), who will continue in the same. But take a review of some of them. 1. Counsel. What heavenly counsel is that where Christ saith, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear! Revelation 3:17,18. Also that, “He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” Isaiah 55:1. “Hear, and your souls shall live.” Isaiah 55:3. “Lay hold of my strength, that you may make peace with me; and you shall make peace with me.” Isaiah 27:5. 2. Instruction. What instruction is here! “Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me (saith Christ), watching daily at ray gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.” Proverbs 8:32-35. “Take heed that no man deceive you by any means.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. “Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life.” John 6:27. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Luke 13:24. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits.” John 4:1. “Quench not the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19. “Lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. “Take heed and beware of hypocrisy.” Luke 12:1. “Watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6. “Come unto me. Learn of me,” saith Christ. Matthew 11:28,29. 3. Forewarning. What forewarning is here! “Because there is wrath beware, lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.” Job 36:18. “Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts a consumption even determined upon the whole earth.” Isaiah 28:22. “Beware therefore, lest that come upon you that is written; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for, I work a work in your days, which ye shall in no ways believe, though a man declare it unto you.” Acts 13:40,41. “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12. “Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Mark 14:38. “Let us therefore, fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Hebrews 4:1. “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” Jude 1:5. “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
Revelations 3:11. 4. Comfort. What comfort is here! “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:87. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. “Be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.” Matthew 9:2. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”
Jeremiah, 31:3. “I lay down my life, for my sheep.” “I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10,15. “I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee.” 2 Corinthians 6:2. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as Isaiah 1:18. “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.” Isaiah 44:22. 5. Grief, to those who fall short. Oh sad grief! “How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine car to them that instructed me.” Proverbs 5:12,13. “They shall curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” Isaiah 8:21,22. “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away; the desire of the wicked shall perish.” <19B209> Psalm 112:9,10. “There shall be weeping, and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” Luke 13:28.
All which things are slighted by the world.
Thus much, in short, touching this, that ungodly men undervalue the scriptures, and give no credit to them, when the truth that is contained in them, is held forth in simplicity unto them, but rather cry out, “Nay, but if one should rise from the dead,” then they think something might be done.
When, alas! though signs and wonders are wrought by the hands of those that preach the gospel, those poor creatures would never the sooner convert, though they suppose they should; as is evident by the carriages of their forerunners, who although the Lord Jesus himself did confirm his doctrine by miracles, as opening blind eyes, casting out devils, and raising the dead, they were so far from receiving either him or his doctrine, that they put him to death for his pains. Though he had done so many miracles among them, yet they believed not in him. John 12:37.
But to pass this, I shall lay down some of the grounds of men’s rejecting and undervaluing the scriptures, and so pass on. 1. Because they do not believe that they are the word of God; but rather suppose them to be inventions of men; written by some politicians, on purpose to make poor ignorant people submit to some religion and government. Though they do not say this, yet their practices testify the same; as he that when he hears the words of the curse, yet blesseth himself in his heart, and saith, I shall have peace, though God saith he shall have none. Deuteronomy 29:18,19,20. And this must needs be, for did but men believe this, that it is the word of God, then they must believe, that he that spake it is true, therefore shall every word and tittle be fulfilled. And if they come once to this, unless they be stark mad, they will have a care how they throw themselves, under the lash of eternal vengeance. For the reason why the Thessalonians received the gospel was, because they believed it was the word of God, and not the word of man, which did effectually work in them by their thus believing. 1 Thessalonians 2:13. “When ye received the word which ye heard of us,” saith he, “ye received it not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
So that did a man but receive it in hearing, or reading, or meditating, as it is the word of God, they would be converted. “But the word preached doth not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it.” Hebrews 4:2. 2. Because they do not indeed see themselves by nature heirs of that exceeding wrath and vengeance, of which the scriptures testify. For did they but consider what God intends to do with those that live and die in a natural state, it would either sink them into despair, or make them fly for refuge to the hope that is set before them. But if there be never such sins committed, and ever so great wrath denounced, and the time of execution be ever so near; yet if the party that is guilty be senseless, and altogether ignorant thereof, he will be careless, and regard it nothing at all. And that man by nature is in this condition is evident. For take the same man that is senseless, and ignorant of that misery he is in by nature; I say, take him at another time when he is a little awakened; and then you will hear him roar, and cry out so long as trouble is upon him, and a sense of the wrath of God hanging over his head, Good sirs, what must I do to be saved?
The same man at another time (when his conscience is fallen asleep, and grown hard) will lie like the smith’s dog at the foot of the anvil, though the fire-sparks fly in his face. But as I said before when any one is a little awakened, O what work will one verse, one line, nay, one word of the holy scriptures make in his heart! He cannot eat, sleep, work, keep company with his former companions; and all because he is afraid the damnation spoken of in scripture, will fall to his share. Like Baham, who said, “I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord” ( Numbers 22:18), so long as he had something of the word of the Lord with authority, severity, and power on his heart; but at another time he could teach Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel. Revelation 2:14. 3. Because the carnal priests do tickle the ears of their hearers with vain philosophy and deceit; and thereby harden their hearts against the simplicity of the gospel and word of God. Which things the apostle admonished those that have a mind to close in with Christ to avoid ( Colossians 2:8), saying, “Beware lest any man (be he what he will) spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” And you who muzzle up your people in ignorance, with Aristotle, Plato, and the rest of the heathenish philosophers, and preach little, if any thing, of Christ rightly; I say unto you, that you will find that you have sinned against God, and beguiled your hearers, when God shall in the judgment-day lay the cause of the damnation of many thousands of souls to your charge, and say, he will require their blood at your hands. 4. Another reason why the carnal unbelieving world do so slight the scriptures, the word of God, is, because the judgement spoken of in the scripture, is not presently executed on the transgressors. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11.
Because God doth not presently strike the poor wretch as soon as he sins, but waits, and forbears, and is patient; therefore the world judging God to be unfaithful, go to it again and again; and every time grow harder and harder, till at last God is forced either to stretch out his mighty power to turn them, or else send death with the devil and hell to fetch them. “Thou thoughtest (saith God) that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” Psalm 1:21,22. 5. Another reason why the blind world do slight the authority of scripture, is because they give ear to the devil; who through his subtlety casteth false evasions, and corrupt interpretations on them, rendering them not so point-blank the mind of God, and a rule for direction to poor souls; persuading them that they must give ear and way to something else besides, and beyond that: or else he labors to render it vile and contemptible, by persuading them that it is a dead letter; in which indeed they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For the scripture is not so dead, but that the knowledge of it is able to make any man wise unto salvation through faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus ( Timothy 3:15); and is profitable for instruction, reproof, and correction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
And where it is said “the letter killeth” ( 2 Corinthians 3:6), Paul meaneth the law, as it is “the ministration of condemnation,” or a covenant of works. And so indeed it doth kill, and must do so, because it is just; forasmuch as the party that is under the same, is not able to yield to it a complete and continual obedience. But yet I will call Peter and Paul to witness, that the scriptures are of a glorious concernment, inasmuch as in them is held forth to us the way of life; and also, in that they do administer good ground of hope to us, “For whatsoever things were written afore-time, were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Revelation 15:4.
And again, “Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ; according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but is now made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” Romans 16:25,26. Compare 2 Peter 1:19-21.
And therefore whosoever they be that slight the scriptures, they slight that which is no less than the word of God; and they who slight that, slight him that spake it; and they that do so, let them look to themselves: for God will be revenged on such. Much more might be said to this thing, but I would not be tedious.
A word or two more, and I have done with this. Consider the danger of slighting the words of the prophets or apostles, whether they be correction, reproof, admonition, forewarning, or the blessed invitations and promises contained in them. 1. Such souls do provoke God to anger, and to execute his vengeance on them. “They refused to hearken, they pulled away their shoulders, they stopped their ears, lest they should hear the law; and they made their hearts as an adamant stone, that they might not hear the law, and the words that were spoken to them by his Spirit in the former prophets: Therefore came a great wrath upon them.” Zechariah 7:11,12. 2. God will not regard such in their calamity. “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 have 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.
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. 3. God doth commonly give up such men to delusions to believe lies. “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved;” therefore “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a he; that they all might be damned.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12. 4. In a word, they that do continue to reject and slight the word of God, they are such, for the most part, as are ordained to be damned. Old Eli’s sons, not hearkening to the voice of their father reproving them for their sins, but disobeying his voice, it is said, it was “because the Lord would slay them.” 1 Samuel 2:25. Again, see in 2 Chronicles 25:15,16.
Amaziah having sinned against the Lord, he sends to him a prophet to reprove him: but Amaziah says, “Forbear; why shouldst thou be smitten?” (He did not hearken to the word of God) “Then the prophet forebare, and said, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast not hearkend to my counsel.” Read therefore; and the Lord give thee understanding for a miserable end will those have that go on in sinning against God, rejecting his word.
Other things might have been observed from this verse, which at this time I shall pass by; partly, because the sum of them hath been touched already, and may be more clearly hinted at in the following verse; and therefore I shall speak a few words of the next verse, and so draw towards a conclusion.
CHAPTER - and he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. — Luke 16:31. “AND he said,” that is, And God (through Abraham) made answer to the words spoken in the verse before, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses,” etc. As if he had said, ‘Moses was a man of great renown, a man of worthy note, a man that talked with God face to face, as a man speaketh to his friend. The words that Moses spake, were such as I commanded him to speak. Let who will question them, I will own them, credit them, bless them that close in with them, and curse those that reject them. I myself sent the prophets; they did not run of their own heads; I gave them commission; I thrust them out, and told them what they should say. In a word, they have told the world what my mind is to do, both to sinners and to saints. “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Therefore, he that shall reject and turn his back either upon the threatenings, counsels, admonitions, invitations, promises, or whatsoever else I have commanded them to speak, as to salvation and life, and to directions therein, shall be sure to have a share in the many curses that they have spoken, in the doctrine that is pronounced by them.’
Again, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets,’ etc. As if he had said, ‘Thou wouldst have me send one from the dead unto them. What needs that? They have my mind already, I have declared unto them what I intend to stand to, both for saving them that believe, and damning them that do not. That, therefore, which I have said, I will make good, whether they hear or forbear. And as for this desire of yours, you had as good desire me to make a new Bible; and so to revoke my first sayings by the mouth of the prophets. But I am God and not man. And my word is immutable, unchangeable, and shall stand as fast as my decrees can make it. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle of my word shall not pass.
If thou hadst ten thousand brethren, and every one in danger of losing his soul, if they did not close in with what is contained and recorded in the scriptures of truth, they must even every one of them perish, and be for ever damned in hell. For the scriptures cannot be broken. I did not send them so unadvisedly as to recall them again by another consideration. No; for I speak in righteousness and judgment, in wisdom and counsel. Isaiah 63:1-3. It being therefore gone out of my mouth in this manner, it shall not return until it hath accomplished the thing whereto I have sent it. Isaiah 55:11. ‘But again, thou supposest that miracles and wonders will work on them; which makes thee say, “Send one from the dead.” But herein thou art mistaken; for I have proven them with that once and again, by more than one, or two, or three of my servants. How many miracles did my servant Moses work by commandment from me, in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness? Yet they of that generation were never the sooner converted for that; but notwithstanding rebelled and lusted, and in their hearts turned back into Egypt. Acts 7. How many miracles did Samuel, David, Elias, Elisha, Daniel, and the prophets work together with my Son, who raised the dead, cast out devils, made them to see that were born blind, gave and restored limbs? Yet for all this (as I said before) they hated him and crucified him. I raised him again from the dead, and he appeared to his disciples, who were called, and chosen, and faithful, and gave them commandment and commission to go and testify the truth of this to the world; and to confirm the same, he enabled them to speak with divers tongues, and to work miracles most plentifully; yet there was great persecution raised against them, insomuch that but a few of them died in their beds. Therefore, though thou thinkest that a miracle will do so much with the world, yet I say, No: for “if they will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.”
From these words, therefore, take notice of this truth; namely, That those who reject and believe not Moses and the prophets, are a very hardhearted people, that will not be persuaded though one rise from the dead.
They that regard not the holy scriptures, to turn to God, finding them to testify of his goodness and mercy, there is but little hope of their salvation: ‘;For they will not,” mark, “they will not be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.” This truth is confirmed by Jesus himself. If you read John v, where the Lord is speaking of himself, that he is the very Christ, he brings in four or five witnesses to back what he said; 1. John the Baptist. 2. The works that his Father gave him to do. 3. His Father speaking from heaven. 4. The testimony of the scriptures.
When all this was done, seeing yet they would not believe, he lays the fault upon one of these two things. 1. Their regarding an esteem among men. 2. Their not believing the prophets’ writings, even Moses and the rest. “For had ye believed Moses,” saith he, “ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how can ye believe my words?”
Now, I say, he that shall slight the scriptures, and the testimony of the prophets in them concerning Jesus Christ, must needs be in great danger of losing his soul, if he abide in this condition; because he that slights the testimony, doth also slight the thing testified of, let him say the contrary ever so often. For as Jesus Christ hath here laid down the reason of men’s not receiving him, so the apostle John, in another place, lays down the reason again, with a high and mighty aggravation, ( 1 John 5:10,) saying, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record (mark, “the record) that God gave of his Son.” The record? you will say, what is that? Why even the testimony that God gave of him, “by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began.” Acts 3:21.
That is, God sending his Holy Spirit into the hearts of his servants, the prophets and apostles, he, by his Spirit in them, did bear witness, or record, to the truth of salvation by his Son Jesus, both before and after his coming. And thus is that place also to be understood, which saith, “There are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood;” that is, the Spirit in the apostles, which preached him to the world; as is clear, if you read seriously 1 Thessalonians 4:8. The apostle speaking of Jesus Christ, and obedience through him, saith thus, Now, he that despiseth, despiseth not us, but God. ‘But it is you that speak,’ ‘True; but it is by and through the Spirit: “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.”
This is, therefore, a mighty confirmation of this truth, that he that slights the record or testimony that God by his Spirit, in his prophets and apostles, hath testified unto us, slights the testimony of the Spirit, who moved them to speak these things; and if se, then I would fain know, how any man can be saved by Jesus Christ, that slights the testimony concerning Christ; yea, the testimony of his own Spirit, concerning his own self? It is true, men may pretend to have the testimony of the Spirit, and from that conceit, set a low esteem on the holy scriptures; but that spirit that dwelleth in them, and teacheth them so to de, is no better than the spirit of Satan, though it calls itself by the name of the Spirit of Christ. “To the law therefore, and to the testimony;” try them by that; “if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
The apostle Peter, when he speaks of the glorious voice that he had from the excellent Majesty, saying of Christ, “This is my beloved Son, hear him,” saith thus to them unto whom he wrote: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy” (or, “of the prophets,” for so you may read it), “whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” That is, though we tell you that we had this excellent testimony from his own mouth, evidently; yet you have the prophets. We tell you this, and ye need not doubt of the truth of it; but if you should, yet you may not, must not, ought not to question them. Search therefore into them, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts; that is, until, by the same Spirit that gave forth the scriptures you find the truth confirmed to your souls, which you have found recorded in the scriptures. That this word of prophecy, or of the prophets, is the scriptures, read on: For (saith he) “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,’ etc. Peter 1:18, 19, 20.
But you will say, What needs all this ado; and why is all this time and pains spent in speaking of this, that is surely believed already? This is a thing received by all, that they believe the scriptures to be the word of God, that sure word of prophecy; and therefore you need not spend your time in proving these things, and the truth of them, seeing we grant and confess the truth of it before you begin to speak your judgment of them.
I answer, 1. The truths of God cannot be borne witness unto too often.
You may as well say, ’You need not preach Jesus Christ so’ much, seeing he hath been, and is, received for the true Messiah already.’ 2. Though many may suppose that they do believe the scriptures, yet if they were but well examined, you will find them either by word of mouth, or else by their conduct, to deny, reject, and slight the holy scriptures. It is true, there is a notional, and historical assent in the head, I say, in the heads of many, or most, to the truth contained in scripture. But try them, I say, and you shall find but a little, if any, of the faith of the operation of God in the hearts of poor men to believe the scriptures, and things contained in them. Many, yea, most men, believe the scriptures, as they believe a fable, a story, a tale, of which there is no certainty. But alas! there are but few do indeed and in truth believe the scriptures to be the very word of God. Object. But you will say, This seems strange to me. Answer. And it seems as true to me: and I doubt not but to make it manifest, that there are but few, yea, very few, that do effectually (for that I aim at) believe the scriptures, and the truths contained in, and spoken of by them. But to make this appear, and that to purpose (if God will), I shall lay you down the several operations that the scriptures have on them who do effectually believe the things contained in them. 1. He that doth effectually believe the scriptures, hath, in the first place, been killed; I say, killed by the authority of the holy scriptures; struck stark dead in a spiritual sense, by the holy scriptures being set home by that Spirit which gave them forth upon the soul. “The letter killeth;” the letter strikes men dead. 2 Corinthians 3:6. And this Paul witnessed and found (before he could say, I believe all that the prophets have spoken), where he saith, “I was alive without the law once;” that is, in my natural state, before the law was set on my heart with power. “But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Romans 7:9. “And that law that was ordained to life, I found to be unto death for sin taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” Romans 7:10,11.
Now that which is called the “letter,” in 2 Corinthians 3. is called “the law” in Romans 7; which by its power and operation, as it is wielded by the Spirit of God, doth in the first place kill and slay all those that are enabled to believe the scriptures. “I kill,” saith God; that is, With my law I pierce, I wound, I prick men into the very heart, by showing them their sins against the law. Deuteronomy 32:39; Acts 2:36,37. And he that is ignorant of this, is also ignorant of, and doth not really and effectually believe the scriptures. Inquire. But you will say, How doth the law kill and strike dead the poor creatures? Answer. The letter or law doth kill thus: It is set home upon the soul, and discovers to the soul its transgressions against the law; and shows the soul also, that it cannot completely satisfy the justice of God for the breach of his law; therefore it is condemned. John 3:18. Mark, “He that believeth not is condemned already;” namely, by the law; that is, the law doth condemn him; yea, it hath condemned him already for his sins against it; as it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Galatians 3:10.
Now all men, as they come into the world, are in this condition, that is, condemned by the law; yet not believing their condemnation by the law really, they do not also believe really and effectually the law that doth condemn them. For as men have but a notion of the one, that is, their condemnation, because of sins against the law; so they have but a notion of the condemning, killing, and destroying power of the law: For, as the one is, so in these things always is the other. There is no man that doth really believe the law or gospel, further than they do feel the power and authority of them in their hearts. “Ye err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Now, this letter, or law, is not to be taken in the largest sense, but is strictly to be tied to the ten commandments, whose proper work is only by showing the soul its sin against the law, to kill; and there leaves him stark dead; not giving him the least life, or support, or comfort. It leaves the soul in a helpless and hopeless condition, as from itself, or any other mere creature.
It is true, the law hath laid all men for dead as they come into the world; but all men do not see themselves dead, until they see the law that struck them dead striking in their souls, and having struck them that fatal blow.
As a man that is fast asleep in a house, and that on fire about his ears, and he not knowing it, because he is asleep; even so, because poor souls are asleep in sin, though the wrath of God, the curse of his law, and the flames of hell have beset them round about, yet they do not believe it, because they are asleep in sin. Now, as he that is awakened and sees this, sees that through this he is a dead man; even so they that do see their state by nature being such a sad condition, do also see themselves by that law to be dead men naturally.
But now, when didst thou feel the power of this first part of the scripture, the law, so mighty as to strike thee dead? If not, thou dost not so much as verily believe that part of scripture, that doth contain the law in it, to be the truth of God. 2. Yet if thou shouldst have felt something; I say, something of the killing power of the law of God in thine heart, this is not an argument to prove, that thou believest all the things contained in the scripture, for there is gospel as well as law; and therefore I shall speak of that also; that is, whether thou hast felt the power of the gospel, as well as something of the power of the law.
If then thou hast found the power of the gospel and so believed it; thou hast found it thus with thy soul: (1.) Thou hast been showed by the word of truth, of the gospel, in the light of the Spirit of Christ, that by nature thou wert without the true faith of the Spirit of Christ; that by nature thou wert without the true faith of the Son of God in thy soul. ‘For when the Spirit is come,’ says Christ, ‘he shall show men that they believe not in me.’ John 16:9.
Mark, though thou hast, as I said before, felt somewhat of the power of the law, letter, or ten commandments, yet, as thou hast not been brought to this, to see by the Spirit in the gospel, that thou art without faith by nature, thou hast not yet tasted, much less believed any part of the gospel.
For the gospel and the law are two distinct covenants: and they that are under the law may be convinced by it, and so believe the law or first covenant, and yet in the mean time be a stranger to the covenant of promise, that is, the gospel, and so have no hope in them. Ephesians 2:12. There is not any promise that can be savingly believed, until the soul be by the gospel converted to Jesus Christ. For though men do think ever so much that they believe the things, or the word, of the gospel of our salvation, yet unless they have the work of grace in their souls, they do not, cannot, rightly believe the things contained in the scriptures. (2.) Again, as the law killeth those that believe it, even so the promises contained in the gospel, do through faith administer comfort to those that believe it aright. “My words,” saith Christ, “my words, they are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. As if he had said, ‘The words contained in the law as a covenant of works, they wound, they kill, they strike dead those that are under them. But as for me, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” That is, whosoever doth receive them believingly, shall find them full of operation, to comfort, quicken, and revive the soul. For as I did not come into the world to destroy men’s lives, so the words that I speak (as I am sent to preach the gospel), they have no such tendency unto those that believe them. The promises that are in the gospel, O! how do they comfort them! Such a promise, and such a promise, O how sweet is it! How comfortable to those that believe them!’ Alas there are many poor souls that think they believe the scriptures to be the word of God, and yet they never enjoyed any thing of the life of the promises. They come in upon the heart to quicken, to revive thee, to raise thee from the sentence of death that is passed on thee by the law.
And through the faith that is wrought in thy soul, by the operation of God’s Holy Spirit (though once killed by the law or letter), thou art made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is presented to thy soul in the promises. 3. Dost thou in deed and in truth believe the scriptures to be the word of God? Then the things contained in them, especially the things of the gospel, are very excellent to thy soul; as the birth of Christ, his death, resurrection, intercession, and second doming. O how precious and excellent are they to thy soul! Insomuch, that thou regardest nothing in comparison of them! O, it is Christ’s birth, blood, death, resurrection, etc, according to the scriptures, that thou dost rejoice in exceedingly, and abundantly desire! “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, compared with Philippians 3:6,7,8; 1 Peter 1:8. 4. Dost thou. believe the scriptures to be the word of God? Then thou standest in awe of, and dost much reverence them. Why, they are the word of God, the true sayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are his promises and his threatenings. Poor souls are apt to think, ‘if I could hear God speak to me from heaven with an audible voice, then sure I should be serious and believe it.’ But truly, if God should speak to thee from heaven, except thou wert converted, thou wouldst not regard, nor really believe him. But if thou dost believe the scriptures, thou seest that they are the truth, as really as if God should speak to thee from heaven through the clouds; and therefore never flatter thyself, foolishly thinking, that if it were so and so, then thou couldst believe. I tell thee, saith Christ, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead.” But, 5. Dost thou believe the scriptures to be the word of God? Then through faith in Christ, thou endeavorest to have thy life squared according to the scriptures, both in word and practice. Nay, I say, thou mayst have, though thou do not believe them all. My meaning is, that if thou believe none but the ten commandments, thy life may be according to them, a legal holy life; and if thou do believe the gospel too, then thy life will be by the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, either thou wilt live in the blessed and holy enjoyment of what is testified in the scripture concerning the glorious things of the Lord Jesus Christ, or else thou wilt be exceedingly panting after them. For the scriptures carry such a blessed beauty in them to that soul that hath faith in the things contained in them, that they do take the heart and captivate the soul of him that believeth them, into the love and liking of them. “Believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets: and have hope toward God, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense, both toward God and toward man.” Acts 24:14,15,16. 6. He that believes the scriptures to be the word of God, if he do but suppose that any one place of scripture doth exclude him, and shut him out of and from a share in the promises contained in them, O it will trouble him, grieve him, perplex him; yea, he will not be satisfied until he be resolved, and the contrary sealed to his soul. For he knows that the scriptures are the word of God, all truth; and therefore he knows, that if any one sentence doth exclude or bar him out for want of this or the other qualification, he knows also, that not the word alone shuts him out, but he that speaks it, even God himself. And therefore he cannot, will not, dare not, be contented until he finds his soul and scripture together (with the things contained therein), to embrace each other, and a sweet correspondency and agreement between them. For you must know, that to him that believes the scriptures aright, the promises, or threatenings, are of more power to comfort or cast down, than all the promises or threatenings of all the men in the world. And this was the cause why the martyrs of Jesus did so slight both the promises of their adversaries, when they would have overcome them with proffering the great things of this world unto them; and also their threatenings, when they told them they would rack them, hang them, burn them. Acts 20:24. None of these things could prevail upon them, or against them; because they did most really believe the scriptures, and the things contained in them, as is clearly found, and to be seen in Hebrews 11. and also in Mr. Fox’s records of their brethren, in the Book of Martyrs. 7. He that believeth the scriptures to be the word of God, believeth that men must be born again, and also be partakers of that faith which is of the operation of God (according as he hath read and believed), or else he must and shall be damned. And he that believeth this aright, will not be contented until (according as it is written) he do partake of, and enjoy the new birth, and until he do find through grace, that faith that is wrought by the operation of God in his soul. For this is the cause why men do satisfy themselves with so slender a conceited hope that their state is good (when it is nothing so), namely, because they do not credit the scripture; for did they, they would look into their own heart, and examine seriously whether that faith, that hope, that grace, which they think they have, be of that nature, and wrought by that Spirit and power which the scripture speaketh of. I speak this of an effectual believing, without which all other is nothing unto salvation.
Now then, because I would not be tedious, I shall at this time lay down no more discoveries of such an one as doth savingly believe the scriptures, and the things contained in them, but shall speak a few words of examination concerning the things already mentioned. As, Thou sayest thou dost in deed and in truth effectually believe the scriptures: I ask therefore, wast thou ever killed stark dead by the law of works contained in the scriptures? Killed by the law or letter, and made to ‘see thy sins against it, and left in a helpless condition by the law? For, as I said, the proper work of the law is to slay the soul and to leave it dead in a helpless state. For it doth neither give the soul any comfort itself when it comes, nor doth it show the soul where comfort is to be had; and therefore is called the “ministration of condemnation,” as in 2 Corinthians 3:9; “the ministration of death.” 2 Corinthians 3:7. For though men have many a notion of the blessed word of God, as the children of Israel had, yet before they be converted, it may truly be said of them, “Ye do err not knowing the scripture, nor the power of God.”
You say you do believe the scriptures to be the word of God. I say again, examine, weft thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit of Christ through the other part of the scriptures; that is to say, by the power of God in his Son Jesus Christ, through the covenant of promise? I tell thee from the Lord, if thou hast, thou hast felt such a quickening power in the words of Christ ( John 6:63), that thou hast been lifted out of that dead condition that thou before wert in; and that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and the power of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been enabled by the power of God in Christ revealed to thee by the Spirit, through and by the scripture, to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the law, and all things that are at enmity with thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the blood, death, righteousness, resurrection, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the scriptures.
They are so large thou canst say, ‘Christ will in no wise cast me out! My crimson sins shall be as white as snow l’ I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me to lay hold of, through, and by Jesus Christ, that I would not have them out of the Bible for as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London, piled up to the stars; because through them Christ is pleased, by his Spirit, to convey comfort to my soul. I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hellfire flames in my conscience; my sins, with the guilt of them, tearing me; then is Christ revealed so sweetly to my poor soul through the promises, that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse my soul. So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill me, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh down all, and comfort the soul against all. This is the effect of believing the scriptures savingly; for they that do so, have through the scriptures good comfort, and also ground of hope ( Romans 15:4), — believing those things to be its own which the scrip-tares hold forth.
Examine, Dost thou stand in awe of sinning against God, because he hath in the scriptures commanded thee to abstain from it? Dost thou give diligence to make thy calling and election sure, because God commandeth it in the scriptures? Dost thou examine thyself whether thou be in the faith or no, having a command in scripture so to do? Or dost thou (notwithstanding what thou readest in the scriptures) follow the world, delight in sin, neglect coming to Jesus Christ, speak evil of the saints, slight and make a mock at the ordinances of God, delight in wicked company, and the like? Then know, that it is because thou dost not in deed and in truth believe the scriptures effectually. For as I said before, if a man do believe them, and that savingly, then he stands in awe; he looks to his steps; he turns his feet from evil; and endeavors to follow that which is good, which God hath commanded in the scriptures of truth. Yet not from a legal or natural principle; that is, to seek for life by doing that good thing; but knowing that salvation is already obtained for him by the blood of that man Christ Jesus on the cross, because he believes the scriptures; therefore, (mark, I pray,) therefore I say, he labors to walk with his God in all well-pleasing and godliness, because the sweet power of the love of Christ, which he feels in his soul by the Spirit according to the scriptures, constrains him so to do. 2 Corinthians 5:14.
Examine again, Dost thou labor after those qualifications by which the scriptures do describe a child of God g that is, faith, yea, the right faith, the most holy faith, the faith of the operation of God? And also, dost thou examine whether there is a real growth of grace in thy soul, as in love, zeal, self-denial; and a seeking by all means to attain (if possible) to the resurrection of the dead? that is, not to satisfy thyself until thou be dissolved and rid of this body of death, and be transformed into that glory that the saints shall be in after the resurrection day? And in the mean time dost thou labor and take all opportunities to walk as near as may be to the pitch, though thou know thou canst not attain it perfectly? Yet I say, thou dost aim at it, seek after it, press toward it, and hold on in thy race; thou shun-nest that which may any way hinder thee, and also closest in with what may any way further the same; knowing that that must be, or desiring that it should be, thine eternal frame; and therefore out of love and liking to it thou dost desire and long after it, as being the thing that doth most please thy soul.
Or how is it with thy soul? Art thou such an one as regards not these things; but rather busy thy thoughts about the things here below; following those things that have no scent of divine glory upon them? If so, look to thyself, thou art an unbeliever, and so under the wrath of God, and wilt for certain fall into the same place of torment that thy fellows have fallen into before thee, to the grief of thy own soul, and thy everlasting destruction.
Consider and regard these things, and lay them to thy heart before it be too late to recover thyself, by repenting of the one, and desiring to close in with the other. Oh! I say, regard, regard; for hell is hot! God’s hand is up!
The law is resolved to discharge against thy soul! The judgment-day is at hand! the graves are ready to fly open! the trumpet is near the sounding! the sentence will, ere long be past, and then you and I cannot call time again! 3. But again. Seeing the scriptures are so certain, so sure, so irrevocable and firm, and seeing the saving faith of the things Contained therein is to reform the soul, and bring it over to the things of God; really conforming to the things contained therein, both to the point of justification, and also an impartial walking, and giving up thy soul and body to a conformity to all the commands, counsels, instructions, and exhortations contained therein; this then, will teach us how to judge of those who give up themselves to walk in the imaginations of their own hearts, who slight and lay asido the scriptures, counting them but empty and uncertain things, and will live every day in open contradiction to what is contained, commanded, and forbidden therein.
As, First, This will show us that all your drunkards, whoremasters, liars, thieves, swearers, backbiters, slanderers, scoffers at goodness, etc, are unbelievers; I say, we may see by this, that they that live so, have not the faith of the scriptures in their hearts; seeing they delight to practice those things that are forbidden by and in them. And so they continuing, living and dying in this state, we may conclude, without fear, that these portions of holy scripture belong unto them, and shall for certain be fulfilled upon them; “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16. “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9,10. “But the unbelieving, the abominable, and the whoremongers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” Revelation 21:8. “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41. ‘Depart, depart from me, for I will not save you! Depart, for my blood shall not at all wash you! Depart, for you shall not set one foot into .the kingdom of heaven! Depart, ye cursed! Ye are cursed of God, cursed of his law, cursed of me, cursed by the saints, and cursed by the angels, cursed all over, nothing but cursed; and therefore depart from me!’ ‘And whither?’ ‘ Into everlasting fire; fire that will scald, scorch, burn, and flame to purpose; “fire that shall never be quenched”( Mark 9.); fire that will last to all eternity.’ ‘And must we be all alone?’ ‘No; you shall have company, store of company with you; namely, all the raging, roaring devils, together with an innumerable company of fellow-damned sinners, men, women, and children.’ — And if the scriptures be true (as they will one day wonderfully appear to be), then this must, and shall, be thy portion, if thou have and die in this state, and of all of them who continue in sinning against the truth contained in the scriptures.
Dost thou continually neglect to come to Christ, and use arguments in thine own heart to satisfy thy soul with so doing? Then thou art gone! Luke 14:17,18, compared with Luke 14:24, and Hebrews 2:3. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” “How shall we escape?” that is, There is no way to escape; 1. Because God hath said we shall not. Hebrews 12:25. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth (that was Moses), much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.” 2. Because he hath not only said, they shall not, but also hath bound it with an oath, saying, “So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” Hebrews 3:11.
To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest? Answer, “To them that believed not.” “So we see they could not enter in, because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18,19. Secondly, This will teach us what to think and conclude of such, as though they do not so openly discover their folly by open and gross sins against the law, yet will give more heed to their own spirits and movings thereof (though they be neither commanded, nor commended for the same in scripture; nay, though the scripture command and commend the contrary, Isaiah 8:20) than they will to the holy and revealed will of God. I say, such men are in as bad a state as the other to the full, being disobedient to God’s will revealed in his word as well as they, though in a different manner; the one openly transgressing against the plain and well known truths revealed in it; the other, though more close and hidden, yet secretly rejecting and slighting them, giving more heed to their own spirits, and the motions thereof, although not warranted by the scriptures.
A few words more, and so I shall conclude. And, 1. Take heed that you content not yourselves with a bare notion of the scriptures in your heads; by which you may go far, even so far as to be able to dispute for the truth, to preach the gospel, and labor to vindicate it in opposition to gainsayers, and yet be found at the left hand of Christ at the judgment-day, forasmuch as thou didst content thyself with a notion or traditional knowledge of them. 2. Have a care that thou own the whole scripture; and not own one part, and neglect another, or slight it. As thus, to own the law, and slight the gospel, or to think that thou must be saved by thy good doings and works; for that is all one as if thou didst thrust Christ away from thee; or else so to own the gospel, as if by it thou wert exempted from all obedience to the ten commandments, and conformity to the law in life and conversation; for in so doing, thou wilt for certain make sure of eternal vengeance. 3. Have a care that thou put not wrong names on the things contained in the scriptures, so as to call the law Christ, and Christ the law. For some having done so (within my knowledge), have so darkened to themselves the glorious truths of the gospel, that In a very little time they have been resolved to thwart and oppose them; and so have made room in their souls for the devil to inhabit, and obtained a place in hell, for their own souls to be tormented for ever and ever.
Against this danger therefore, in reading and receiving the testimony of scripture, learn to distinguish between the law and the gospel, and to keep them clear asunder, as to the salvation of thy soul. And that thou mayst so do, in the first place, beg of God that he would show thee the nature of the gospel, and set it home effectually with life and power upon thy soul by faith; which is this, That God would show thee, that as thou, being man, hast sinned against God; so Christ being God-man, hath bought thee again, and with his most precious blood set thee free from the bondage thou hast fallen into by thy sins; and that not upon condition that thou wilt do thus and thus, and this and the other good work; but rather, that thou being justified freely by mere grace through the blood of Jesus, shouldst also receive thy strength from him who hath bought thee, to walk before him in all well-pleasing; being enabled thereto by virtue of his Spirit, which hath revealed to thy soul that thou art delivered already from wrath to come, by the obedience, not of thee, but of another man, viz. Jesus Christ.
Thee, if the law thou readest of, tell thee in thy conscience, thou must do this and the other good work of the law, if ever thou wilt be saved; answer plainly, That for thy part thou art resolved now not to work for life, but to believe in the virtue of that blood shed upon the cross, upon Mount Calvary, for the remission of sins. And yet because Christ hath justified thee freely by his grace, thou wilt serve him in holiness and righteousness all the days of thy life; not in a legal Spirit, or in a covenant of works; but ‘mine obedience (say thou) I will endeavor to have free, and cheerful, out of love to my Lord Jesus.’
Have a care thou receive not this doctrine in the notion only; lest thou bring a just damnation upon thy soul by professing thyself to be freed by Christ’s blood from the guilt of sin, while thou remains, still a servant to the filth of sin. For I must tell you, that unless you have the true and saving work of the faith and grace of the gospel in your hearts, you will either go on in a legal holiness, according to the tenor of the law; or else, through a notion of the gospel (the devil bewitching and beguiling thy understanding, will, and affections), thou wilt, ranter-Iike, turn the grace of God into wantonness, and bring upon thy soul double, if not triple damnation. Because thou couldst not be contented to be damned for thy sins against the law, but also to make ruin sure to thy soul, thou wouldst dishonor the gospel, and turn the grace of God held forth and discovered to men by that, into licentiousness.
But that thou mayst be sure to escape these dangerous rocks on the right hand and on the left, see that thy faith be such as is spoken of in the scriptures; and that thou be not satisfied without that; which is a faith wrought by the mighty operation of God, revealing Christ to, and in thee, as having wholly freed thee froth thy sins by his most precious blood.
Which faith, if thou attain unto it, will so work in thy heart, that first thou wilt see the nature of the law, and also the nature of the gospel, and delight in the glory of it; and also thou wilt find an engaging of thy heart and soul to Jesus Christ, even to the giving up of thy whole being unto him, to be ruled and governed by him to his glory, and thy comfort, by the faith of the Lord Jesus.