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    SERMON 1.

    Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:29,30.)

    WE have here and in the context an account of the conversion of the jailer, which is one of the most remarkable instances of the kind in the Scriptures.

    The jailer before seems not only to have been wholly insensible to the things of religion, but to have been a persecutor, and to have persecuted these very men, Paul and Silas; though he now comes to them in so earnest a manner, asking them what he must do to be saved. We are told in the context that all the magistrates and multitude of the city rose up jointly in a tumult against them, and took them, and cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Whereupon he thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And it is probable he did not act in this merely as the servant or instrument of the magistrates, but that he joined with the rest of the people in their rage against them, and that he did what he did urged on by his own will, as well as the magistrates’ commands; which made him execute their commands with such rigour.

    But when Paul and Silas p rayed, and sang praises at midnight, and there was suddenly a great earthquake, and God had in so wonderful a manner set open the prison doors, and every man’s bands were loosed, he was greatly terrified; and in a kind of desperation, was about to kill himself. But Paul and Silas crying out to him,” Do thyself no harm, for we are all here,” then he called for a light, and sprang in, as we have the account in the text.

    W e may observe, 1. The objects of his concern. He is anxious about his salvation: he is terrified by his guilt, especially by his guilt in his ill treatment of these ministers of Christ. He is concerned to escape from that guilty state, the miserable state he was in by reason of sin. 2. The sense which he has of the dreadfulness of his present state. This he manifests in several ways. 1. By his great haste to escape from that state. By his haste to inquire what he must do. He seems to be urged by the most pressing concern, sensible of his present necessity of deliverance, without any delay. Be fore, he was quiet and secure in his natural state; but now his eyes are opened, he is in the utmost haste. If the house had been on fire over his head, he could not have asked more earnestly, or as being in greater haste. He could soon have come to Paul and Silas, to ask them what he must do, if he had only walked. But he was in too great haste to walk only, or to run; for he sprang in; he leaped into the place where they were. He fled from wrath.

    He fled from the fire of divine justice, and so hastened, as one that fled for his life. 2. By his behaviour and gesture before Paul and Silas. He fell down. That he fell down before those whom he had persecuted, and thrust into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks, shows what was the state of his mind. It shows some great distress, that makes such an alteration in him, that brings him to this. He was broken down, as it were, by the distress of his mind, in a sense of the dreadfulness of his condition. 3. His earnest manner of inquiring of them what he shall do to escape from this miserable condition; “ Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So distressed, that he is brought to be willing to do any thing; to have salvation on any terms, and by any means, however difficult; brought, as it were, to write a blank, and give it in to God, that God may prescribe his own terms.

    Doctrine. They who are in a natural condition, are in a dreadful condition.

    This I shall endeavour to make appear by a particular consideration of the state and condition of unregenerate persons.

    I. As to their actual condition in this world.

    II. As to their relations to the future world.

    I. The condition of those who are in a natural state, is dreadful in the present world. First . On account of the depraved state of their natures. As men come into the world, their natures are dreadfully depraved, Man in his primitive state was a noble piece of divine workmanship; but by the fall it is dreadfully defaced. It is awful to think that so excellent a creature as man is, should be so ruined. The dreadfulness of the condition, which unconverted men are in in this respect, appears in the following things: 1. The dreadfulness of their depravity appears in that they are so sottishly blind and ignorant. God gave man a faculty of reason and understanding, which is a noble faculty. Herein he differs from all other creatures here below, He is exalted in his nature above them, and is in this respect like the angels, and is made capable to know God, and to know spiritual and eternal things. And God gave him understanding for this end, that he might know him, and know heavenly things, and made him as capable to know these things as any others. But man has debased himself, and has lost his glory in this respect. He has become as ignorant of the excellency of God as the very beasts. His understanding is full of darkness; his mind is blind, is altogether blind to spiritual things. Men are ignorant of God, and ignorant of Christ, ignorant of the way of salvation, ignorant of their own happiness, blind in the midst of the brightest and clearest light, ignorant under all manner of instructions. Romans 3:17. “ The way of peace they have not known.” Isaiah 27:11. “is a people of no understanding.” Jeremiah 4:22. “My people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and have none understanding:” 5:21. “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding.” Psalm 95:10,11. “It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways; unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.”1 Corinthians 15:34. “Some have not the knowledge of God; I speak this to your shame.”

    There is a spirit of atheism revailing in the hearts of men; a strange disposition to doubt of the very being of God, and of another world, and of every thing which cannot be seen with the bodily eyes. Psalm 14:1. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” They do not realize that God sees them, when they commit sin, and will call them to an account for it.

    And therefore, if they can hide sin from the eyes of men, they are not concerned, but are bold to commit it. Psalm 94:7,8,9. “Yet they say, the Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. Understand, ye brutish among the people; and, ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?”

    Psalm 73:11. “They say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” So sottishly unbelieving are they of future things, of heaven and hell, and will commonly run the venture of damnation sooner than be convinced, They are stupidly senseless to the importance of eternal things. How hard to make them believe, and to give them a real conviction, that to be happy to all eternity is better than all other good; and to be miserable for ever under the wrath of God, is worse than all other evil.

    Men show themselves senseless enough in temporal things; but in spiritual things far more so. Luke 12:56. “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky, and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?”

    They are very subtle in evil designs; but sottish in those things which most concern them. Jeremiah 4:22. “They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Wicked men show themselves more foolish and senseless of what is best for them, than the very brutes. Isaiah 1:3. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” Jeremiah 8:7. “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.” 2. They have no goodness in them. Romans 7:18. “In me, that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” They have no principle that disposes them to any thing that is good. Natural men have no higher principle their hearts than self-love. And herein they do not excel the devils. The devils love themselves, and love their own happiness, and are afraid of their own misery. And they go no further. And the devils would be as religious as the best of natural men, if they were in the same circumstances. They would be as moral, and would pray as earnestly to God, and take as much pains for salvation, if there were the like opportunity. And as there is no good principle in the hearts of natural men, so there are never any good exercises of heart, never one good thought, or motion of heart in them. Particularly, there is no love to God in them. They never had the least degree of love to the infinitely glorious Being. They never had the least true respect to the Being that made them, and in whose hand their breath is, and from whom are all their mercies. However they may seem to do things at times out of respect to God, and wear a face as though they honoured him, and highly esteemed him, it is all in mere hypocrisy. Though there may be a fair outside, they are like painted sepulchres; within, there is nothing but putrefaction and rottenness. They have no love to Christ, the glorious Son of God, who is so worthy of their love, and has shown such wonderful grace to sinners in dying for them. They never did any thing out of any real respect to the Redeemer of the world, since they were born. They never brought forth any fruit to that God, who made them, and in whom they live, and move, and have their being. They never have in any way answered the end for which they were made. They have hitherto lived altogether in vain, and to no purpose. They never so much as sincerely obeyed one command of God; never so much as moved one finger out of a true spirit of obedience to him, who made them to serve him. And when they have seemed outwardly to comply with God’s commands, their hearts were not in it. They did not do it out of any spirit of subjection to God, or any disposition to obey him, but were merely driven to it by fear, or in some way influenced by their worldly interest. They never gave God the honour of one of his attributes. They never gave him the honour of his authority by obeying him. They never gave him the honour of his sovereignty by submitting to him. They never gave him the honour of his holiness and mercy by loving him. They never gave him the honour of his sufficiency and faithfulness by trusting in him; but have looked upon God as one not fit to be believed or trusted, and have treated him as if he were a liar. “He that believeth not God hath made him a liar.” (1 John 5:10.)

    They never so much as heartily thanked God for one mercy they have received in their whole lives, though God has always maintained them, and they have always lived upon his bounty. They never so much as once heartily thanked Christ for coming into the world, and dying to give them an opportunity to be saved. They never would show him so much gratitude as to receive him, when he has knocked at their door; but have always shut the door against him, though he has come to knock at their door upon no other ground but only to offer himself to be their Saviour. They never so much as had any true desires after God or Christ in their whole lives. When God has offered himself to them to be their portion, and Christ to be the friend of their souls, they did not desire it. They never desired to have God and Christ for their portion. They had rather be without them than with them, if they could avoid going to hell without them. They never had so much as an honourable thought of God. They always have esteemed earthly things before him. And not with standing all they have heard in the commands of God and Christ, they have always preferred a little worldly profit or sinful pleasure before them. 3. Unconverted men are in a dreadful condition by reason of the dreadful wickedness which there is in them. 1. Sin is a thing of a dreadful nature, and that because it is against an infinitely great and an infinitely holy God. There is in the nature of man enmity against God, contempt of God, rebellion against God. Sin rises tip as an enemy against the Most High. It is a dreadful thing for a creature to be an enemy to the Creator, or to have any such thing in his heart as enmity against him; as will be very clear, if we consider the difference between God and the creature, and how all creatures, compared with ‘him, are as the small dust of the balance, are as nothing, less than nothing, and vanity, There is an infinite evil in sin. If we saw the hundredth part of the evil there is in sin, it would make us sensible that those who have any sin, let it be ever so small, are in a dreadful condition. 2. The hearts of natural men are exceedingly full of sin. If they had but one sin in their hearts, it would be sufficient to render their condition very dreadful. But they have not only one sin, but all manner of sin. There is every kind of lust. The heart is a mere sink of sin, a fountain of corruption, whence issue all manner of filthy streams. Mark 7:21,22. “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” There is no one lust in the heart of the devil, that is not in the heart of man. Natural men are in the image of the devil. The image of God is rased out, and the image of the devil is stamped upon them. God is graciously p leased to restrain the wickedness of men, principally by ear and respect to their credit and reputation, and by education. And if it were not for such restraints as these, there is no kind of wickedness that men would not commit, whenever it came in their way.

    The commission of those things, at the mention of which men are now ready to start, and seem to be shocked when they hear them read, would be common and general; and earth would be a kind of hell. What would not natural men do if they were not afraid? Matthew 10:17. “But beware of men.” Men have not only every kind of lust, and wicked and perverse dispositions in their hearts, but they have them to a dreadful degree. There is not only pride, but an amazing degree of it: pride, whereby a man is disposed to set himself even above the throne of God itself. The hearts of natural men are mere sinks of sensuality. Man is become like a beast in placing his happiness in sensual enjoyments. The heart is full of the most loathsome lusts. The souls of natural men are more vile and abominable than any reptile. If God should open a window in the heart, so that we might look into it, it would be the most loathsome spectacle that ever was set before our eyes. There is not only malice in the hearts of natural men, but a fountain of it.. - Men naturally therefore deserve the language applied to them by Christ, Matthew 3:7. “O generation of vipers;” and Matthew 23:33. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers.” Men, if it were not for fear and other such restraints, would not only commit all manner of sin, but to what degree, to what length would they not proceed! What has a natural man to keep him from openly blaspheming God, as much as any of the devils; yea, from dethroning him, if that were possible, and fear and other such restraints were out of the way? Yea, would it not be thus with many of those, who now appear with a fair face, and will speak most of God, and make many pretences of worshipping and serving him? The exceeding wickedness of natural men appears abundantly in the sins they commit, notwithstanding all these restraints. Every natural man, if he reflects, may see enough to show him ‘how exceedingly sinful he is. Sin flows from the heart as constantly as water flows from a fountain. Jeremiah 6:7. “As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness.” And this wickedness, that so abounds in their hearts, has dominion over them.

    They are slaves to it: Romans 7:14. “Sold under sin.” They are so under the power of sin, that they are driven on by their lusts in a course against their own conscience, and against their own interest, They are hurried on to their own ruin, and that at the same time their reason tells them, it will probably be their ruin: 2 Peter 2:14. “Cannot cease from sin.” On account of wicked men’s being so under the power of sin, the heart of man is said to be desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9. and Ephesians 2:1. “Dead in trespasses and sins.” 3. The hearts of natural men are dreadfully hard and incorrigible, There is nothing but the mighty power of God will move them. They will cleave to sin, and go on in sin, let what will be done with them. Proverbs 27:22. “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” There is nothing that will awe our hearts; and there is nothing that will draw them to obedience: let there be mercies or afflictions, threatenings or gracious calls and invitations, frowning, or patience and long-suffering, or fatherly counsels and exhortations. Isaiah 26:10. “Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”

    Secondly. The relative state of those who are in an unconverted condition is dreadful. This will appear if we consider, 1. Their relative state with respect to God; and that because, 1. They are without God in the world. They have no interest or part in God: he is not their God: he hath declared he will not be their God. Hosea 1:9. God and believers have a mutual covenant relation and right to each other. They are his people, and he is their God. But he is not the covenant God of those who are in an unconverted state. There is a great alienation and estrangement between God and the wicked: he is not their Father and portion: they have nothing to challenge of God, they have no right to any one of his attributes. The believer can challenge a right in the power of God, in his wisdom and holiness, his grace and love. All are made over to him, to be for his benefit. But the unconverted can claim no right in any of God’s perfections. They have no God to protect and defend them in this evil world: to defend them from sin, or from Satan, or any evil. They have no God to guide and direct them in any doubts or difficulties, to comfort and support their minds under afflictions. They are without God in all their affairs, in all the business they undertake, in their family affairs, and in their personal affairs, in their outward concerns, and in the concerns of their souls.

    How can a creature be more miserable, than to be separated from the Creator, and to have no God, whom he can call his own God? He is wretched indeed, who goes up and down in the world, without a God to take care of him, to be his guide and protector, and to bless him in his affairs The very light of nature teaches that a man’s God is his all. Judges 18:24. “Ye have taken away my gods and what have I more?” There is but one God, and in him they have no right. They are without that God, whose will must determine their whole well being, both here and for ever. That unconverted men are without God shows that they are liable to all manner of evil. They are liable to the power of the devil, to the power of all manner of temptation, for they are without God to protect them. They are liable to be deceived and seduced into erroneous opinions, and to embrace damnable doctrines, It is not possible to deceive the saints in this way. But the unconverted may be deceived. They may become papists, or heathens, or atheists. They have nothing to secure them from it. They are liable to be given up of God to judicial hardness of heart. They deserve it; and since God is not their God, they have no certainty that God will not inflict this awful judgment upon them. As they are without God in the world, they are liable to commit all manner of sin, and even the unpardonable sin itself.

    They cannot be sure they shall not commit that sin. They are liable to build up a false hope of heaven, and so to go hoping to hell. They are liable to die senseless and stupid, as many have died. They are liable to die in such a case as Saul and Judas did, fearless of hell. They have no security from it.

    They are liable to all manner of mischief, since they are without God. They cannot tell what shall befall them, nor when they are secure from any thing.

    They are riot safe one moment. Ten thousand fatal mischiefs may befall them, that may make them miserable for ever. They, who have God for their God, are safe from all such evils. It is not possible that they should befall them. God is their covenant God, and they have his faithful promise to be their refuge. But what mischief is there which may not befall natural men? Whatever hopes they may have may be disappointed. Whatever air prospect there may seem to be of their conversion and salvation, it may vanish away. They may make great progress towards the kingdom of God, and yet come short at last. They may seem to be in a very hopeful way to be converted, and yet never be converted. A natural man is sure of nothing.

    He is sure of no good, nor is he sure of escaping any evil, It is therefore a dreadful condition that a natural man is in. They, who are in a natural state, are lost. They have wandered from God, and they are like lost sheep, that have wandered from their shepherd. They are poor helpless creatures in a howling wilderness, and have no she p herd to protect or to guide them.

    They are desolate an exposed to innumerable fatal mischiefs. 2. They are not only without God, but the wrath of God abides upon them. “he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36.)

    There is no peace between God and them, but God is angry with them every day. He is not only angry with them, but that to a dreadful degree.

    There is a fire kindled in God’s anger; it burns like fire. Wrath abides upon them, which if it should be executed, would plunge them into the lowest hell, and make them miserable there to all eternity. They have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger. God has been angry with them ever since they began to sin he has been provoked by them every day, ever since they exercised any reason; and he is provoked by them more and more every hour. The flame of his wrath is continually burning. There are many now in hell that never provoked God more than they, nor so much as many of them. Wherever they go, they go about with the dreadful wrath of God abiding on them. They eat, and drink, and sleep under wrath. How dreadful a condition therefore are they in! It is the most awful thing for the creature to have the wrath of his Creator abiding on him. The wrath of God is a thing infinitely dreadful. The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion; but what is the wrath of a king, who is but a worm of the dust, to the wrath of the infinitely great and dreadful God? How dreadful is it to be under the wrath of the First Being, the Being of beings, the great Creator and mighty possessor of heaven and earth! How dreadful is it for a person to go about under the wrath of God, who gave him being, and in whom he lives and moves, who is every where present, and without whom he cannot move a step, nor draw a breath! Natural men, inasmuch as they are under wrath, are under a curse. God’s wrath and curse are continually upon them. They can have no reasonable comfort, therefore, in any of their enjoyments; for they do not know but that the y are given them in wrath, and shall be curses to them, and not blessings. As it is said in Job 18:15. “Brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.” How can they take any comfort in their food, or in their possessions, when they do not know but all are given them to fit them for the slaughter.

    II. Their relative state will appear dreadful, if we consider how they stand related to the devil. 1. They who are in a natural state are the children of the devil. As the saints are the children of God, so the ungodly are the children of the devil. 1 John 3:10. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil.” Matthew 13:38,39. “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom: but the tares are the children of the wicked one.

    The enemy that sowed them is the devil.” John 8:44. “ Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” They are, as it were, begotten of the devil; they proceed from him. 1 John 3:8. “He that committeth sin, is of the devil.” As Adam begat a son in his own likeness, so are wicked men in the likeness and image of the devil. They acknowledge this relation, and own themselves children of the devil, by consenting that he should be their father. They subject themselves to him, hearken to his counsels, as children hearken to the counsels of a father.

    They learn of him to imitate him, and do as he does, as children learn to imitate their parents. John 8:38. “ I speak that which I have seen with my Father, and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” How awful a state is this How dreadful is it to be a child of the devil, the spirit of darkness, the prince of hell, that wicked, malignant, and cruel spirit! To have any thing to do with him is very dreadful. It would be accounted a dreadful, frightful thing only to meet the devil, to have him appear to a person in a visible shape. How dreadful then must it be to be his child; how dreadful for any person to have the devil for his father! 2. They are the devil’s captives and servants, Man before his fall was in a state of liberty; but now he has fallen into Satan’s hands. The devil has got the victory, and carried him captive. Natural men are in Satan’s possession, and they are under his dominion, They are brought by him into subjection to his will, to go at his bidding, and do what he commands. 2 Timothy 2:26. “Taken captive by him at his will.” The devil rules over ungodly men.

    They are all his slaves, and do his drudging. This argues their state to be dreadful. Men account it an unhappy state of life to be slaves; and especially to be slaves to a bad master, to one who is very hard, unreasonable, and cruel. How miserable do we look upon those persons, who are taken captive by the Turks, or other such barbarous nations, and put by them to the meanest and most cruel slavery, and treated no better than they treat their cattle! But what is this to being taken captive by the devil, the prince of hell, and made a slave to him? Had not a man better be a slave to any one on earth than to the devil? The devil is, of all masters, the most cruel, and treats his servants the worst. He puts them to the vilest service, to that which is the most dishonourable of any in the world. No work is so dishonourable as the practice of sin. The devil puts his servants to such work as debases them below the dignity of human nature. They must make themselves like beasts to do that work to serve their filthy lusts.

    And besides the meanness of the work, it is a very hard service. The devil causes them to serve him at the expense of the peace of their own conscience, and oftentimes at the expense of their reputation, at the expense of their estates, and shortening of their days. The devil is a cruel master; for the service upon which he puts his slaves, is to undo themselves. He keeps them hard at work day and night, to work their own ruin. He never intends to give them any reward for their pains, but their pains are to work out their own everlasting destruction, It is to gather fuel and kindle the fire for themselves to be tormented in to all eternity. 3. The soul of a natural man is the habitation of the devil. The devil is not only their father, and rules over them, but he dwells in them, It is a dreadful thing for a man to have the devil near him, often coming to him. But it is a more dreadful thing to have him dwell with a man, to take up his constant abode with him; and more dreadful yet to have him dwell in him, to take up his abode in ‘his heart. But thus it is with every natural man. He takes up his abode in his heart. As the soul of a godly man is the habitation of the Spirit of God, so is the soul of a wicked man the habitation of unclean spirits. As the soul of a godly man is the temple of God, so the soul of a wicked man is the synagogue of Satan. A wicked man’s soul is in Scripture called Satan’s house, and Satan’s palace. Matthew 12:27. “How can one enter into a strong man s house?” meaning the devil. And Luke 11:21. “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.”

    Satan not only lives, but reigns, in the heart of a wicked man. He has not only taken up his abode there, but he has set up his throne there. The heart of a wicked man, is the place of the devil’s rendezvous. The doors of a wicked man’s heart are open to devils. They have free access there, though they are shut against God and Jesus Christ. There are many devils, no doubt, that have to do with one wicked man, and his heart is the place where they meet. The soul of a wicked man is, as it was said of Babylon, the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. Thus dreadful is the condition of a natural man by reason of the relation in which he stands to the devil.

    II. The state of unconverted men is very dreadful, if we consider its relation to the future world. Our state here is not lasting, but transitory.

    We are pilgrims and strangers here, and are principally designed for a future world. We continue in this present state but a short time; but we are to be in that future state to all eternity. And therefore men are to be denominated either happy or miserable, chiefly with regard to that future state. It matters but little comparatively what our state is here, because it will continue but a short time; it is nothing to eternity. But that man is a happy man who is entitled to happiness, and he is miserable who is in danger of misery, in his eternal state. Prosperity or adversity in the present state alters them but very little, because this state is of so short continuance. 1. Those who are in a natural condition, have no title to any inheritance in another world. There are glorious things in another world; there are unsearchable riches, an unspeakable and inconceivable abundance; but they have nothing to do with it. Heaven is a world of glory and blessedness; but they have no right to the least portion of those blessings. If they should die and go out of the world as they are, they would go destitute, having no inheritance, no friend, no enjoyments to go to. They will have no God to whom they may go, no Redeemer to receive their departing souls, no angel to be a ministering spirit to them, to take care of them, to guard or defend them, no interest in that Redeemer, who has purchased those blessings.

    What is said of the Ephesians is true of those who are in a natural condition. “At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” What a dreadful case they are in, who live in the world having g no hope, without any title to any benefits hereafter, and without any ground to hope for any good in their future and eternal state! 2. Natural men are in a dreadful condition, because of the misery to which they are exposed in the future world. This will be obvious, if we consider, 1. How great the misery is of which they are in danger; 2. How great is their danger of this misery. 1. How great the misery is of which they are in danger. It is great in two respects; 1. The torment and misery are great in themselves; and, 2. They are of endless duration. 1. The torment and misery, of which natural men are in danger, are exceedingly great in themselves, They are great beyond any of our words or thoughts. When we speak of them, our words are swallowed up. We say they are great, and exceedingly great, and very dreadful. But when we have used all the words we can to express them, how faint is the idea that is raised in our minds in comparison with the reality! This misery will appear very dreadful, if we consider what calamities meet together in it. In it the wicked are deprived of all good, separated from God and all fruits of his mercy, In this world they enjoy many of the streams of God’s goodness.

    But in the future world they will have no more smiles of God, no more manifestations of his mercy by benefits, by warnings, by calls and invitations, he will never more manifest his mercy by the exercise of patience and long-suffering, by waiting to be gracious; no more use any forbearance with them for their good; no more exercise his mercy by strivings of his Spirit, by sending messengers and using means. They will have no more testimonies of the fruits of God’s goodness in enjoying food and raiment, and comfortable dwellings and convenient accommodations, nor any of the comforts of this life; no more manifestations of his mercy by suffering them to draw near to him with their prayers, to pray for what they need. God will exercise no pity towards them, no regard for their welfare.

    Cut off from all the comforts of this life, shut out of heaven, they will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be turned away from God and from all good into the blackness of darkness, into the pit of hell, into that great receptacle, which God has provided on purpose to cast into it the filthy, and polluted, and abominable of the universe. They will be in a most dreadful condition; they will have no friends. God will be their enemy, angels and the spirits of the just will be their enemies, devils and damned spirits will be their enemies. They will be hated with perfect hatred, will have none to pity them, none to bemoan their case, or to be any comfort to them. It appears that the state of the damned will be exceedingly dreadful in that they will suffer the wrath of God, executed to the full upon them, poured out without mixture. They shall bear the wrath of the Almighty. They shall know how dreadful the wrath of an Almighty God is. Now none knows, none can conceive. Psalm 90:11. “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?” Then they shall feel the weight of God’s wrath. In this world they have the wrath of God abiding on them, but then it will be executed upon them; now they are the objects of it, but then they will be the subjects of it. Now it hangs over them, but then it shall fall upon them in its full weight without any alleviation, or any moderation or restraint. Their souls and their bodies shall then be filled full with the wrath of God. Wicked men shall be as full of wrath as any thing that glows in the midst of a furnace is of fire. The wrath of God is infinitely more dreadful than fire. Fire, yea the fiercest fire, is but an image and shadow of it. The vessels of wrath shall be filled up with wrath to the brim.

    Yea, they shall be plunged into a sea of wrath. And therefore hell is compared to a lake of fire and brimstone, because there wicked men are overwhelmed and swallowed up in wrath, as men who are cast into a lake or sea, are swallowed up in water. 0 who can conceive of the dreadfulness of the wrath of an Almighty God! Every thing in God is answerable to his infinite greatness. When God shows mercy, he shows mercy like a God.

    His love is infinitely desirable, because it is the love of God. And so when he executes wrath it is like a God. This God will pour out without mixture.

    Revelations 14:10. “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” No mixture of mercy or pity; nothing thrown into the cup of wrath to assuage or moderate it. “God shall cast upon him and not spare.” Job 27:22. They shall be cast into the winepress of the wrath of God, where they shall be pressed down with wrath, as grapes are pressed in a winepress. Revelation 14:19. “Cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.” God will then make appear in their misery how terrible his wrath is, that men and angels may know how much more dreadful the wrath of God is, than the wrath of kings, or any creatures. They shall know what God can do towards his enemies, and how fearful a thing it is to provoke him to anger.

    If a few drops of wrath do sometimes so distress the minds of men in this world, so as to be more dreadful than fire, or any bodily torment, how dreadful will be a deluge of wrath; how dreadful will it be, when all God’s mighty waves and billows of wrath pass over them! Every faculty of the soul shall be filled with wrath, and every part of the body shall be filled with fire. After the resurrection the body shall be cast into that great furnace, which shall be so great as to burn up the whole world. These lower heavens, this air and this earth, shall all become one great furnace, a furnace that shall burn the earth, even to its very centre. In this furnace shall the bodies of the wicked lie to all eternity, and vet live, and have their sense of pain and torment not at all diminished. 0, how full will the heart, the vitals, the brain, the eyes, the tongue, the hands, and the feet be of fire; of this fire of such an inconceivable fierceness! How full will every member, and every bone, and every vein, and every sinew, be of this fire!

    Surely it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Who can bear such wrath? A little of it is enough to destroy us. Psalm 2:12. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” But how will men be overwhelmed, how will they sink, when God’s wrath is executed in so dreadful a degree! The misery which the damned will endure, will be their perfect destruction. Psalm 1:22. “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.”

    In several places the wicked are compared to the stubble, and to briers and thorns before devouring flames, and to the fat of lambs, which consumes into smoke. Psalm 37:20. “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” They shall be as it were ground to powder under the weight of God’s wrath. Matthew 21:24.. Their misery shall be perfect misery; and because damnation is the perfect destruction of a creature, therefore it is called death. It is eternal death, of which temporal death, with all its awful circumstances, is but a faint shadow. The struggles, and groans, and gasps of the body when dying, its pale awful visage when dead, its state in the dark grave when it is eaten with worms, are but a faint shadow of the state of the soul under the second death. How dreadful the state of the damned is, we may argue from the desert of sin. One sin deserves eternal death and damnation, which, in the least degree of it, is the total destruction of the creature. How dreadful, then, is the misery of which natural persons are in danger, who have lived some time in the world, and have committed thousands and thousands of sins, and have filled up many years with a course of sinning, and have committed many great sins, with high aggravations, who have sinned against the glorious gospel of Christ, and against great light, whose guilt is far more dreadful than that of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah! How dreadful is the punishment to which they are exposed, in which all their sins shall be punished according to their desert, and the uttermost farthing shall be exacted of them! The punishment of one idle word, or sinful thought, would be more than they could bear. How then will they bear all the wrath that shall be heaped upon them for all their multiplied and aggravated transgressions? If one sin deserves eternal death and damnation, how many deaths and damnations will they have accumulated upon them at once!

    Such an aggravated, multiplied death must. they die every moment, and always continue dying such a death, and yet never be dead. Such misery as this may well he called the blackness of darkness. I ell may well be called the bottomless pit, if the misery is so unfathomably great. Men sometimes have suffered extreme torment in this world. Dreadful have been the sufferings of some of the martyrs; but how little those are, in comparison of the sufferings of the damned, we may learn from 1 Peter 4:16,17,18. “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come, that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us what shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” The apostle is here speaking of the sufferings of Christians; and from thence he argues, that seeing their sufferings are so great, how unspeakably great will be the sufferings of the wicked! And if judgment begins with them, what shall be the end of those who obey not the gospel! As much as to say, the sufferings of the righteous are nothing to what those, who obey not the gospel, are. How dreadful, therefore, does this argue their misery to be! Well may the sinners in Zion be afraid, and fearful, and surprised. Well may the kings of the earth, and the great men, and rich men, and chief captains, and every bond man, and every free man, hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, at Christ’s second coming; and cry and say to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Well may there he weeping and gnashing of teeth in hell, where there is such misery. Thus the misery of those who are in a natural condition, is, in itself, exceedingly great. 2. It is of endless duration. The misery is not only amazingly great, and extreme, but of long continuance; yea, of infinitely long continuance. It never will have any end. There will be no deliverance, no rest, no hope; but they will last throughout all eternity. Eternity is a thing in the thought of which our minds are swallowed up. As it is infinite in itself, so it is infinitely beyond the comprehension of our minds. The more we think of it, the more amazing will it seem to us. Eternity is a duration, to which a long period of time bears no greater proportion than a short period. A thousand years, or a thousand ages, bear no greater proportion to eternity than a minute; or which is the same thing, a thousand ages are as much less than eternity as a minute. A minute comes as near an equality to it; or you may take as many thousand ages out of eternity, as you can minutes. If a man by the utmost skill in arithmetic, should denote or enumerate a great number of ages, and should rise by multiplication to ever so prodigious numbers, should make as great figures as he could, and rise in multiplying as fast as he could, and should spend his life in multiplying; the product of all would be no nearer equal to the duration which the wicked must spend in the misery of hell, than one minute. Eternity is that, which cannot be made less by subtraction. If we take from eternity a thousand years or ages, the remainder is not the less for it. Eternity is that which will for ever be but beginning, and that because all the time which is past, let it be ever so long, is but a point to what remains. The wicked, after they have suffered millions of ages, will be, as it were, but in the first point, only setting out in their sufferings. It will be no comfort to them that so much is gone, for they will have none the less to bear. There will never a time come, when, if what is past, is compared to what is to come, it will not be as a point, and as nothing. The continuance of their torment cannot be measured out by revolutions of the sun, or moon, or stars, by centuries or ages. They shall continue suffering after these heavens and this earth shall wax old as a garment, till the whole visible universe is dissolved. Yea, they shall remain in their misery through millions of such ages as are equal to the age of the sun, and moon, and stars, and still it will be all one, as to what remains, still no nearer the end of their misery. Matthew 25:41. “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Mark 9:44. “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

    Revelation 20:10. “They shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” And 14:11. “The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” The damned in hell in their misery, will be in absolute despair. They shall know that their misery will have no end, and therefore they will have no hopes of it. O, who can conceive the dreadfulness of such despair as this in the midst of such torment I Who can express, or think any thing how dreadful the thought of eternity is to them, who are under so great torment I To what unfathomable depths of woe will it sink them I With what a gloom and blackness of darkness will it fill them! What a boundless gulf of sorrow and woe is the thought of eternity to the damned, who shall be in absolute and utter despair of any deliverance!\parHOW dreadful, then, is the condition of those who are in a natural state, who are in danger of such misery. 2. The dreadfulness of their condition will appear by considering how great their danger is of this misery. This will be obvious from the following things: 1. Their danger is such, that continuing in their present state, they will unavoidably sink into this misery. 1. The state in which natural persons now are, naturally tends to it. And this, because they are separate from God, and destitute of any spiritual good. The soul that is in a state of separation from its Creator, must he miserable, because he is separate from the fountain of all good. He that is separate from God, is in great danger of ruin, because he is without any defence. He that is separate from God, must perish, if he continue so, because it is from God only that he can have those supplies which can make him happy. It is with the soul as it is with the body. The body without supplies of sustenance will miserably famish, and die. So the souls of natural men are in a famishing condition. They are separate from God, and therefore are destitute of any spiritual good, which can nourish the soul, or keep it alive; like one that is remote in a wilderness, where he has nothing to eat or drink, and therefore, if he continue so, will unavoidably die. So the state of natural men naturally tends to that dreadful misery of the damned in hell, because they are separate from God. 2. They are under the power of a mortal disease, which, if it be not healed, will surely bring them to this death. They are under the power and dominion of sin, and sin is a mortal disease of the soul. If it is not cured, it will certainly bring them to death; viz, to that second death of which we have heard. The infection of the disease has powerfully seized their vital parts. The whole head is sick, the whole heart faint. The disease is inveterate. The infection is spread throughout the whole frame; the very nature is corrupted and ruined; and the whole must come to ruin, if God by his mighty power does not heal the disease. The soul is under a mortal wound; a wound deep and dreadfully confirmed. Its roots reach the most vital parts; yea, they are principally seated there. There is a plague upon the heart, which corrupts and destroys the source of life, ruins the whole frame of nature, and hastens an inevitable death. There is a most deadly poison, which has been infused into, and spread over, the man. He has been bitten by a fiery serpent, whose bite issues in a most tormenting death. Sin is that, which does as naturally tend to the misery and ruin of the soul, as the most mortal poison tends to the death of the body. We look upon persons far gone in a consumption, or with an incurable cancer, or some such malady, as in doleful circumstances. But that mortal disease, under whose power natural men are, makes their case a thousand times more doleful. That mortal disease of natural men does, as it were, ripen them for damnation.

    We read of the clusters of the vine of the earth being for the wine-press of the wrath of God, Revelation 14:18. where by the clusters of the vine are meant wicked men. The wickedness of natural men tends to sink them down to hell, as the weight of a stone causes it to tend towards the centre of the earth. Natural men have, as it were, the seeds of hell within their own hearts. Those principles of sin and corruption, which are in them, if they remain unmortified, will at length breed the torment of hell in them, and that necessarily, and of their own tendency. The soul that remains under the power of sin will at length take fire of itself. Hell will kindle in them. 2. If they continue in their present state, this misery appears to be unavoidable, if we consider the justice and truth of God. 1. If they continue in their present condition, so surely as God is just, they shall suffer the eternal misery of which we have heard. The honour of God’s justice requires it, and God will not disparage his own justice. He will not deny his own honour and glory, but will glorify himself on the wicked, as well as the godly. He will not lose his honour of any one of his creatures, which he has made.

    It is impossible that God should be frustrated or disappointed. And, so surely as God will not be frustrated, so surely shall they who continue in a natural condition, suffer that eternal misery, of which we have heard. The avenging justice of God is one of the perfections of his nature, and he will glorify all h is perfections. God is unalterable in this as well as his other perfections. His justice shall and must be satisfied. He has declared that he will by no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:7.; and that he will not justify the wicked. Exodus 23:7. And that he will not at all acquit the wicked.

    Nahum 1:3. God is a strictly just Judge. When men come to stand before him, he will surely judge them according to their works. They that have guilt lying upon them, he will surely judge according to their guilt. T he debt they owe to justice, must be paid to the uttermost farthing. it is impossible that any one, who dies in his sins, should escape everlasting condemnation and punishment before such a Judge. He will render to every man according to his deeds; Romans 2:8. “ Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” It is impossible to influence God to be otherwise than just in judging ungodly men. There is no bribing him. He accepteth not the person of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor. “He regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” (Deuteronomy 10:17.)

    It is impossible to influence him to be otherwise than strictly just, by any supplications, or tears, or cries. God is inexorably just. The cries and the moans of the malefactor will have no influence upon this Judge to pass a more favourable judgment on them, so as in any way to acquit or release them. The eternal cries, and groans, and lamentations of the wicked, will have no influence upon him. Though they are ever so long continued, they will not prevail upon God. 2. So surely as God is true, if they die in the state they are now in, they shall suffer that eternal misery. God has threatened it in a positive and absolute manner. The threatenings of the law are absolute; and they who are in a natural state, are under the condemnation of the law. The threatening of the law takes hold upon them; and if they continue under guilt, God is obliged by his word to punish them according to that threatening. And he has often, in the most positive and absolute manner, declared that the wicked shall be cast into hell; that they who believe not shall be damned; that they shall have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; and that their misery shall never have an end. And therefore, if there be any truth in God, it shall surely be so. It is as impossible that he who dies in a natural condition, should escape suffering that eternal misery, as that God should lie, The word of God is stronger and firmer than mountains of brass, and shall not fail We shall sooner see heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or tittle of all that God hath said in his word not be fulfilled. So much for the first thing, that evinces the greatness of the danger that natural men are in of hell; viz, that they will unavoidably sink into hell, if they continue in such a condition. 2. Their danger will appear very dreadful, if we consider how uncertain it is, whether they will ever get out of this condition. It is very uncertain whether they will ever be converted. If they should die in their present condition, their misery is certain and inevitable. But it is very doubtful whether they will not die in such a condition. There is great danger that they will; great danger of their never being converted, And this will appear, if we consider two things. 1. They have nothing on which to depend for conversion. They have nothing in the world, by which to persuade themselves that they shall ever be converted. Left to themselves, they never will repent and turn to God. If they are ever converted, therefore, it is God who must do it. . But they have no promise of God, that they ever shall be converted. They do not know how soon they may die. God has not promised them long life; and he has not promised them that they shall be ready for death before they die. It is but a peradventure, whether God will ever give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. 2 Timothy 2:25. Their resolutions are not to be depended on. If they have convictions, they are not to be depended on; they may lose those convictions. Their conversion depends on innumerable uncertainties, It is very uncertain, then, whether they will be converted before they die. 2. Another thing which shows the danger there is that they shall never be converted, is, that there are but few, comparatively, who are ever converted. But few of those, who have been natural persons in time past, have been converted. Most of them have died unconverted. So it has been in all ages, and hence we have reason to think that but few of them, who are unconverted now, will ever be converted; that most of them will die unconverted, and will go to hell. Natural persons are ready to flatter themselves, that they shall be converted. They think there are signs of it.

    But a man would not run the venture of so much as a sixpence in such an uncertainty as they are, about their ever being converted, or not going to hell. This shows the doleful condition of natural men, as it is uncertain whether they shall ever be converted. 3. They who are in a natural condition, are in danger of going to hell every day. Those now present, who are in a natural condition, are in danger of dropping into hell before tomorrow morning. They have nothing to depend on, to keep them out of hell one day, or one night. We know not what a day may bring forth. God has not promised to spare them one day; and he is every day angry with them. The black clouds, that are full of the thunder of God’s wrath, hang over their heads every day, and they know not how soon the thunder will break forth upon their heads. Natural men are in Scripture compared to those that walk in slippery places. They know not when their feet will slip, They are continually in danger. Psalm 73:18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment.”

    Natural men hang over the pit of hell, as it were, by a thread, that has a moth continually gnawing it. They know not when it will snap in twain, and let them drop. They are in the utmost uncertainty; they are not secure one moment. A natural man never goes to sleep, but that he is in danger of waking in hell. Experience abundantly teaches the matter to he so. It shows, by millions of instances, that man is not certain of life one day. And how common a thing is it for death to come suddenly and unexpectedly!

    And thousands, beyond all reasonable question, are going to hell every day, and death comes upon them unexpectedly. “ When they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” It is a dreadful condition that natural persons are in upon this account; and no wise person would be in their condition for a quarter of an hour for the whole world, because such is the danger that they will drop into hell before that quarter of an hour is expired.

    Thus I have shown how dreadful the condition of natural men is, relatively considered. I shall mention two or three things more, which yet further make it appear how doleful their condition is. 1. The longer it continues, the worse it grows. This is an awful circumstance in the condition of a natural man. Any disease is looked upon as the more dreadful, for its growing and increasing nature. Thus a cancer and gangrene are regarded as dreadful calamities, because they continually grow and spread; and the faster they grow, the more dreadful are they accounted. It would be dreadful to be in a natural condition, if a person could continue as he is, and his condition grow no worse; if he could live in a natural condition, and never have it any more dreadful, than when he first begins to sin, But it is vet much more dreadful, when we consider that it every day becomes worse and worse. The condition of natural men is worse to-day, than it was yesterday, and that on several accounts. The heart grows more and more polluted and hardened. The longer sin continues unmortified, the more is it strengthened and rooted. Their guilt also grows greater, and hell every day grows hotter; for they are every day adding sin to sin, and so their iniquity is increasing over their heads more and more. Every new sin adds to the guilt. Every sin deserves eternal death for its punishment. And therefore in every sin that a man commits, there is so much added to the punishment, to which he lies exposed. There is, as it were, another eternal death added to augment his damnation. And how much is added to the account in God’s book every day; how many new sins are set down, that all may be answered for; each one of which sins must be punished, that by itself would be an eternal death I How fast do wicked men heap up guilt, and treasure up wrath, so long as they continue in a natural condition I H ow is God more and more provoked, his wrath more and more incensed; and how does hell-fire continually grow hotter and hotter I If a man has lived twenty years in a natural condition, the fire has been increased every day since he has lived. It has been, as it were, blown up to a greater and greater degree of fierceness. Yea, how dreadfully does one day’s continuance in sin add to the heat of hell-fire! 2. All blessings are turned into curses to those who live and die in such a condition. Those things which are most pleasant and comfortable, and which men esteem the blessings of life, are but curses unto such; as their meat, and their drink, and their raiment, There is a curse goes with every mouthful of meat, and every drop of drink, to such a person. There is a curse with his raiment which be puts on; it all contributes to his misery.

    Though it may please him, yet it does him no good, but he is the more miserable for it. If he has any enjoyment which is sweet and pleasant to him, the pleasure is a curse to him; he is really the more miserable for it. It is an occasion of death to him. His possessions, which he values himself upon and sets his heart upon, are turned into a curse to tin. His house has the curse of God upon it, and his table is a snare and a trap to him. Psalm 69:22. His bed has God’s curse upon it. When he lies down to sleep, a curse attends his rest; and when he goes forth to labour, he is followed with a curse on that. The curse of God is upon his fields, on his corn, and herds, and all he has. If he has friends and relations, who are pleasant and dear to him, they are no blessings to him. He receives no comfort by them, but they prove a curse to him. I say it is thus with those who live and die in a natural condition. Deuteronomy 28:16, etc. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket, and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou he when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou he when thou goest out.

    The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.” Man’s faculties of reason and understanding, and all his natural powers, are turned into a curse. Yea, spiritual mercies and privileges shall also be turned into a curse to those who live and die in a natural condition. A curse goes with the worship of God, and with sabbaths and sacraments, with instruction, and counsels, and warnings, and with the most precious advantages, They are all turned into a curse. They are a savour of death unto death. They do but harden the heart, and aggravate the guilt and misery, and inflame the divine wrath. Isaiah 6:9,10. “Go, make the heart of this people fat.” 2 Corinthians 2:16. “To the one we are the savour of death unto death.” It will only be an occasion of their misery, that God ever sent Christ into the world to save sinners. That which is in itself so glorious a manifestation of God’s mercy, so unspeakable a gift, that which is an infinite blessing to others who receive Christ, will be a curse unto them. I Peter 2:8. “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.” The blood of Christ, which is the price of eternal life and glory to some, is an occasion of sinking them vastly the lower into eternal burnings. And that is the case of such persons; the more precious any mercies are in themselves, the more of a curse are they to them. The better the things are in themselves, the more will they contribute to their misery.

    And spiritual privileges, which are in themselves greater mercies than any outward enjoyments, will above all other things prove a curse to them.

    Nothing will enhance their condemnation so much as these. On account of these, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for them. Yea, so doleful is the condition of natural men, that if they live and die in that condition, not only the enjoyments of life, but life itself, will be a curse to them. The longer they live, the more miserable will they be; the sooner they due, the better. If they live long in such a condition, and die in it at last, it would have been better for them if they had died before. It would have been far better for them to have spent the time in hell, than on earth; yea, better for them to have spent ten thousand years in hell, instead of one on earth When they look back, and consider what enjoyments they have had, they will wish they had never had them. Though when on earth the set their hearts on their earthly enjoyments, they will hereafter wish they had been without them; for they will see they have only fitted them for the slaughter. They will wish they never had had their houses and lands, their garments, their earthly friends, their earthly possessions. And so they will wish that they had never enjoyed the light of the gospel, that they had been born among the heathen in some of the most dark and barbarous places of the earth. They will wish that Christ had never come into the world to die for sinners, so as to give men any opportunity to be saved. They will wish that God had cast off fallen man, as he did the fallen angels, and had never made him the offer of a Saviour. They will wish that they had died sooner, and had not had so much opportunity to increase their guilt and their misery. They will wish they had died in their childhood, and been sent to hell then. They will curse the day that ever they were born, and wish they had been made vipers and scorpions, or any thing, rather than rational creatures. 3. They have no security from the most dismal horrors of mind in this life.

    They have no security, but their stupidity. A natural man can have no comfort or peace in a natural condition, but that of which blindness and senselessness are the foundation. And from what has been said, that is the very evil. A natural man can have no comfort in any thing in this world any further, than thought and consideration of mind are kept down in him; as you make a condemned malefactor senseless of his misery by putting him to sleep with opium, or make him merry just before his execution by giving him something to deprive him of the use of reason, so that he shall not be sensible of his own circumstances. Otherwise, there is no peace or comfort, which a natural man can have in a natural condition. Isaiah 48:22. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Job 15:20. “The wicked man travaileth with pa in all his days. A dreadful sound is in his ears.” The doleful state of a natural man appears especially from the horror and amazement to which be is liable on a death-bed. To have the heavy hand of God upon one in some dangerous sickness, which is wasting and consuming the body, and likely to destroy it, and to have a prospect of approaching death, and of soon going into eternity, there to be in such a condition as this: to what amazing apprehensions must the sinner be liable!

    How dismal must his state be, when the disease revails, so that there is no hope that he shall recover, when the physician begins to give him over, and friends to despair of his life; when death seems to hasten on, and he is at the same time perfectly blind to any spiritual object, altogether ignorant of God, of Christ, an of e way of salvation, having never exercised one act of love to God in his life, or done one thing for his glory; having then every lust and corruption in its full strength; having then such enmity in the heart against God, as to be ready to dethrone him, if that were possible; having no right in God, or interest in Christ; having the terrible wrath of God abiding on him; being yet the child of the devil, entirely in his possession and under his power; with no hope to maintain him, and with the full view of never-ending misery just at the door. What a dismal case must a natural man be in under such circumstances! How will his heart die within him at the news of his approaching death, when he finds that he must go, that he cannot deliver himself, that death stands with his grim countenance looking him in the face, and is just about to seize him, and carry him out of the world, and that he at the same time has nothing to depend on! How often are there instances of dismal distress of unconverted persons on a deathbed!

    No one knows the fears, the exercise and torment in their hearts, but they who feel them. They are such that all the pleasures of sin, which they have had in their whole lives, will not pay them for. As ou may sometimes see godly men go triumphing out of the world full of joy, with the foretastes of heaven, so sometimes wicked men, when dying, anticipate something of hell before they arrive there. The flames of hell do, as it were, come up and reach them in some measure, before they are dead. God then withdraws, and ceases to protect them; the tormentor begins his work, while they are alive. Thus it was with Saul and Judas; and there have been many other similar instances since; and none, who are in a natural condition, have any security from it. The state of a natural man is doleful on this account, though this is but a prelude and foretaste of the everlasting misery which follows.

    Thus I have, in some measure, shown in what a doleful condition those are who are in a natural condition. Still I have said but little, It is beyond what we can speak or think. They who say most of the dreadfulness of a natural condition, say but little, And they who are most sensible, are sensible of but a small part of the misery of a natural state.


    I. We may derive from this doctrine much useful and practical instruction. 1. Hence we may learn the stupidity and sottishness of many natural persons. If we consider those things which we have now heard concerning their dreadful condition, and then see how the greater part of natural men behave themselves, we may well be astonished that there should be such stupidity in the heart of man. If we rightly considered it, we should be ready to cry out with astonishment. Their sottishness appears in the following things.

    I. That though they are in such a dreadful condition, they can go about easy and quiet, and in little or no concern respecting it. What might rationally be expected of such persons? If it were a new thing to us, and we had heard there was a person in a particular town or country, of such a name, who was in this awful condition; who had no interest in his Creator, who had the wrath of Almighty God abiding on him, that wrath which is great and terrible enough to make him miserable with devils in hell to all eternity; that he was a captive in the hands of the devil, was made his slave, and was under his power and dominion; that his soul was a habitation of devils; that he was condemned to be cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, to drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and to suffer in an inexpressible, inconceivable extremity in both body and soul for ever and ever, without hope or end; to be liable to sink in this misery every day, and the longer he continued out of it, the worse his condition, the more dreadful the wrath, and the hotter the flames of hell; I say, supposing we had just now for the first time heard there was a person in this awful condition, how should we expect to see him behave himself? If he was in the exercise of his reason, should we not expect to see him trembling and quaking on account of his misery, with all the manifestations of continual terror and amazement, regardless of all things else, spending his days and nights in tears, and groans, and lamentations, crying for pity and help, crying with an exceedingly loud and bitter cry, crying to every one to pity him, and pray for him? Yea, how many are there in this dreadful condition, are easy and quiet, and appear to have nothing to trouble them! They go about the world without anxiety or alarm, as if they had no more reason to be disquieted than if they had already secured their salvation. Though they are told how dreadful their condition is hundreds of times, their tranquillity is wholly undisturbed. They can sit and hear of its certainty and its nearness, of its dreadful nature, and its inconceivable degree; and then can go away with as quiet and easy hearts as they had before. There is no moving them by telling them of such things. They can sleep as quietly, and go about their business with as perfect unconcern. They can eat and drink and enjoy the pleasures of social life with no apparent load on their minds; and without being sensible of any thing in their circumstances, which should hinder them from such enjoyment, And not only so, but, 2. They can go about with a merry heart. There are many of them, who not only seem to be quiet in their minds, but they are very cheerful, as if all were well with them, and every thing smiled upon them; as if they were in happy circumstances, and had every thing as they desired; and are even disposed to be merry and sportive about their own condition and the dreadful realities of the future world. For their part they choose to take their ease and pleasure, and not disturb or molest themselves with such dark and melancholy thoughts, like the persons mentioned by Isaiah. “Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” 3. They are so senseless, that the do not think it worth their while to make any considerable e effort to escape from this dreadful condition. They will not take half so much pains for it, as for a little worldly gain; and they do not think it worth the while even to ask God to deliver them from it. They think it too much labour to withdraw once or twice each day to ask God to be merciful to them, that they might not continue in their natural state. And they foolishly neglect the precious opportunities, which they enjoy to get into a better state. God gives them great advantages for it, and they are called upon, and warned, and exhorted to improve them. They are told what good opportunities they have, and the danger of letting them slip, but all is to no purpose. Thus persons will let slip the time of youth, which is a precious season to escape from their natural condition. So they will let slip a time of the moving of God’s Spirit in the place where they live. They act as if they had a wish to continue in the same state. They will put themselves so little out of the way to escape from it; they are so backward to deny themselves a little, or to make a little effort; they seem to grudge it, and think it needless. If they have a great advantage put into their hands, it is to no purpose. They had as good be without it, as with it; for they have no heart to improve it. Proverbs 17:16. “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?” 4. Instead of using means to get into a better state, they are wilfully doing those things which make it worse and worse. Instead of striving for deliverance, they are striving against it. They are provoking God more, and increasing their guilt, and hardening their hearts, and setting themselves farther and farther from conversion; and this, too, when they are told, that the things, which they practise, have this tendency. They act as if they wished to be sure never to he converted. Thus it is with innumerable multitudes. So exceedingly senseless and stupid are many natural persons. 2. Hence we need not wonder, that we are directed in Scripture to strive and to be very earnest to be delivered from our natural condition. This is the direction which God gives us from time to time. Luke 13:24. “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Matthew 11:12. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” Eccl. 9:10. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” 2 Peter 1:10. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Hebrews 6:18. “ Fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” The direction which was given to Lot, relating to his flight out of Sodom, was designed for the direction of all who are in a natural condition. Genesis 19:17. “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lost thou be consumed.”

    This doctrine shows us the reason, why persons should be directed in such a way as this to seek their salvation, That it is such a dreadful condition is reason enough why persons should thus vehemently strive, and be violent to get into a better state, and why they should haste for their lives, and flee from the wrath to come. If the case of natural men be as we have heard, no wonder that they should have such advice given them, and that God expects that the pains which they take, and the endeavours they use for it, should be in some measure answerable to its importance. No wonder that the jailer, when made sensible of his condition, should conduct himself .as we have the account iii the text. No wonder that he should be in such haste as not only to run in, but to spring or leap in, to the place where Paul and Silas were, and fall down before them, and ask in such an earnest manner, “What must I do to be saved?” If he had not been indeed in a dreadful state, he would have acted like one distracted. But considering that he was in a natural condition, which is so dreadful, it was not the least wonder. 3. Hence we may learn how dismal are the effects which the fall of man has brought upon the world. It has brought all mankind into this dreadful condition of which we have heard. The far greater part of those who live iii this world, are in this state, and the greater part of those who die in the world, die in this state. What a miserable world, therefore, is the world in which we live! This world lies under a curse. God has denounced woe against it; and what an immeasurable amount of woe is brought upon it!

    What woeful devastation has sin made in the world!

    II. What has been said of the dreadfulness of their condition may well awaken and terrify the impenitent. How many things are there in your circumstances, which are awful and terrible to think of. There is no one of those things which have been mentioned, but that the thought of it may well be frightful to you It may well be a dreadful thought that you have no goodness in you, nor have ever done any thing which has the least goodness in it; that you never exercised one act of love, or true thankfulness or obedience, to God in your life; nor ever did the least thing out of true respect to God. The consideration of the dreadful depravity and wickedness of your heart, may well be frightful to you; to think what a sink of corruption it is, how full of all manner of wickedness, how full of enmity against God; to think that there are the same corruptions in your heart, as in the heart of the devil, and that there are the seeds of the same enmity against God, and that you are in the very image of the devil. If you look into your own heart, and strictly examine what it would entice you to do, if all restraints of fear and self-interest were taken off, it might well affright you. How awful may the thought well be to you, when you consider that you are a creature, separated from your Creator I that there is an alienation between you and that great Being, in whom you live and move, and have your being; that you are a poor desolate creature, that have no God to protect you, and guide you, and provide for you in the world; and that you are secure from no manner of mischief, into which human nature is capable of falling, either in soul or body! How terrifying should it be to you, to think how good, how mighty and terrible that God Is, under whose wrath you lie down and rise up, and eat and drink, and engage in the daily business of life! How frightful should it be to you, when you consider in what relation you stand to the devil that you are his child, and that he owns you; that you are his servant, his possession, and that your heart is his dwelling-place; that you are without Christ, and so without hope, and have no good thing in another world, in which you have any inheritance! And how amazing may it well be to you, when you consider how great that future misery is to which you are exposed and condemned, wherein God shows his wrath, and makes his power known in the destruction of the ungodly, in which they are vessels of wrath filled to the brim; and that you are in danger of being plunged in a bottomless gulf or deluge of wrath, where mighty waves and billows of wrath shall pass over you; and when you consider the torment of your body in that great furnace of fire, where every part, every organ, every vein, and every limb shall lie filled full of fire, and yet full of quick sense, and that this torment shall remain to an endless duration, a duration which shall always be beginning, but never ending! And how well may it affright you, and strike a terror upon you, when you consider, that if you die in your present condition, it is as impossible that you should escape this misery, as that God should cease to be just and true; and that the greater part of those who are in your condition will suffer this misery, and that you have no security that you shall be kept from it one day, or one hour! How terrifying may it well be to you, when you consider how much more dreadful your case continually grows! How frightful may it be to you every night, when you sit down, and consider how much greater your guilt is, and how much deeper your condemnation is, than it was in the morning! How awful and doleful may it be to you to consider, that if you live and die in your present state, every thing is cursed to you; even your greatest mercies and best enjoyments, your food, your raiment your nearest friends, and your earthly possessions: and not only so, but the light of the gospel, and the means of grace, and life itself will be cursed to you! All will be but an occasion of your greater misery. Such persons shall wish they had been born and brought rip among the heathen. They shall wish that Christ had never come into the world; they shall wish they had never been born. How awful may it be to you when you think that death will most certainly come upon you, and you know not how soon; and what dismal circumstances you would be in, if you were in your present condition on a death-bed! how many things are there in your case which are of a terrifying, awful nature! How can you live in such circumstances, without living in continual terror? Here consider further the following things: 1. There is nothing which you see, but what may justly minister torment to you, while you remain in a natural condition. If you lift up your eyes, and behold the sun, moon, and stars, and cast your eyes abroad on the face of the earth, and see the mountains, and fields, and trees, it may justly put you in mind of the dolefulness of your condition that the great God, who made all these things, who stretched forth the heavens as a curtain, who ordained the sun, moon, and stars, and laid the foundations of the earth, and causes the grass and trees to grow; is a God in whom you have no interest, but who is continually angry with you, and that his wrath abides on you. So when you look on your own body, and consider how it is formed and contrived, it may be a frightful thing to you to consider, that he who made you is not at peace with you, and that you are the object of his displeasure.

    If you have pleasures and enjoyments, and are in flourishing circumstances, if you see the faces of your near friends and dear relations, and look upon your children and other dear friends and behold your costly possessions, these things may justly minister torment to you while you are in a natural state. For consider, that you do not know but that all these things are given you in wrath. When you sit down to eat and drink, you may do it in torment, because you know not but this may be in wrath. When you lie down upon your beds, it may justly be in torment, for you do not know but you shall awake in hell. And when you awake in the morning, it may justly be with torment in your heart, to think you are still in that doleful condition. When you go forth to your daily labour, you have reason to go with a terrified heart; for you know not but you are followed with God’s curse in all that to which you put your hands. Whatever dispensations of Providence you may have, all may justly put you in mind of the dolefulness of your condition. If you meet with afflictions, these may remind you that you have no God to pity you, and that a God who is angry with you every day, sends these afflictions upon you. If you meet with prosperity, you may justly receive it with a sorrowful sense of the dolefulness of your state; for you know not but it is to fit you for the slaughter. If you hear of the death of others, it may justly terrify you, and put you in mind of your own mortality, and of your danger of dying as you now are. If you hear of others’ conversion, it may justly renew in you a sense of the dolefulness of your own state, that you still remain unconverted. If you see the Bible, an awful thought may justly go with the sight, that you have never yet received any good by that book, and that all the curses written in it, stand against you. Every time you enter the house of God, it may justly renew awful thoughts of your circumstances, that you have entered there so often, and obtained no good; entered so often, and gone away worse than you came. And what danger there is, that you shall be one of those spoken of in Ecciesiastes 8:10. “I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the p lace of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done.” And wheresoever you turn yourself, whatever you meet with, and whatever you behold, or hear, may justly renew a sense of the dolefulness of your state. The thought of your condition may justly cast a darkness upon every thing. 2. Consider that the time will soon come, when you will be sensible that the dolefulness of your condition is as great as I have represented it; that I have not enlarged or magnified the matter, but that the case is as I have declared it. You will then see that it is so. Whether you are sensible of it now or not, vet in a little time you will surely be sensible, and will need no argument to convince you of it. Yea, you will be sensible that it is more doleful than I have represented. After all that has been told you now, and at other times, the time will come when you will say, that the one half was not told you. 3. Your condition is thus doleful, notwithstanding every thing with which you may flatter yourself. You may be ready to flatter yourself, that though the condition of some natural persons is thus doleful, yet yours is not; that you are in better circumstances than other natural men commonly are. Or particularly, you may flatter yourself that you are not so bad as others; you do not find such dreadful corruptions in your heart, as you hear are in others. Herein you deceive yourself. It is because you are ignorant of your own heart. What has been said of the depraved state of natural men, of their blindness, their hardness, their deadness, all belongs to you. You may possibly flatter yourself that your condition is not so doleful, because you have always walked orderly, you have been moral and religious. Here also you deceive yourself. For notwithstanding your moral and religious behaviour, and all your sobriety, you never did the least thing from a gracious respect to God. You have a heart in the likeness of the heart of the devil, You are without God in the world. God is angry with you every day; his wrath is not at all appeased. You may flatter yourselves that you are the children of godly parents, that you have many godly friends, who may put up many prayers for you, and that your case is not so doleful on that account, and that your danger is not extremely great. But in this you miserably deceive yourself. You are children of the devil notwithstanding all this. If you die in your present condition, it is impossible that you shall escape eternal misery. And there is great danger, that you will die in it.You have no security that you shall not be in hell before to-morrow morning.

    Do not flatter yourself from such things as these, that you are not in a doleful condition. Some of those who flatter themselves most, and think their condition the least doleful, are indeed in the most doleful condition. It is more dreadful than their neighbours; more so than that of many, whom they esteem ten times worse than themselves, And this is one thing which adds to the dolefulness of their condition, that they so flatter themselves, and think their state so good. So it was of old with the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 21:31. “Verily I say unto you, the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

    III. This subject may well excite joy and thankfulness in the hearts of the truly penitent, that God has found out a way to deliver them from such a condition; that God has been pleased to send his Son into the world to die for them; that he has given them the gospel and the means of grace; and that he has delivered them from this dreadful condition. You were in the same circumstances. I Corinthians 6:11. “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” it is mere grace which has made the difference, There is no cause of boasting. God might have taken others, and left you. You deserved no more than they. You had no more righteousness of your own. Probably you have done worse than many who have eternally perished. Take heed, that you entertain no boasting thought, and that your joy in this be an humble joy; accompanied with continual praise to God, who has done such great things for you, and from all eternity set his love upon you.

    IV. This subject should lead those, who are in a natural condition, earnestly to seek for deliverance. Will you rest in such a condition, when there is a way of salvation provided, and an opportunity for an escape?

    Will you of choice continue still in this state? Though your case is very dangerous, yet there is a possibility of rescue, if you have but a heart to improve your opportunity. But besides what has been said, I would desire you further to consider, how happy will be your state, should you obtain deliverance. A converted state is not less happy than a natural condition is miserable and dreadful. You will be brought out of darkness into marvellous light. It will be like the dawning of the morning after a long night of darkness. It will be a joyful morning to you. The daystar will arise in your heart. Then will be given you the morning star. You will then have a discovery of the glory of God, and the beauty and excellency of Jesus Christ, made to your soul; and then will be opened to your view the glorious fountain of divine grace. You will then look back and see how you have dwelt in darkness throughout your lives, and in the region and shadow of death. Matthew 4:16. “The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” You will then be brought out of a dreadful bondage into glorious liberty. You will come forth as from a dark dungeon, to see the glorious light of the Sun of righteousness. Your eyes will then be opened, and you will be brought out of the prison house. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to p reach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1.)

    Then you who were dead will be made alive; and you that have been lost will be found. What you will then obtain will richly repay you for all the labour which you have undergone. If you have spent ever so many years in wrestling with corruption and temptation, in striving to enter in at the strait gate, you will not repent it. But more particularly consider, 1. How glorious will be the alteration made in your nature. Old things will be done away, and all things will become new. Sin will be mortified in you, and the glorious image of God conferred upon you. You will have holy and spiritual principles imparted to you, a spirit of divine love and heavenlymindedness, a relish for spiritual enjoyments, a delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, a truly meek, humble, charitable, and benevolent spirit. You will be changed, from being more filthy and hateful than a reptile, into the likeness of the glorious Son of God. You will be taken out of the mire of brutal lusts and spiritual abominations, will be washed from all your filthiness, and will be adorned with the most glorious ornaments; those ornaments of mind, which in the sight of God are of great price, ornaments which will render you a thousand times more beautiful and lovely than the robes of princes. You will obtain those graces of the Spirit of God which are the ornaments of angels. 2. Consider the safety of the condition in which you will then be. The terrible wrath of the great God, which abides on wicked men, will then be removed from you. Christ will be to you as a hiding-place from the storm, and as a shadow from the heat of God’s wrath. You will then be safe from hell, and will be for ever delivered from that dreadful misery which is endured by the damned, and to which you are now condemned. Revelation 20:6. “On such the second death hath no power.” You will be safe from the power of Satan. Christ will be your protector, so that you shall be out of his reach, that be will not he able to destroy you. You shall dwell on high.

    Your place of defence shall be the munition of rocks, where you may laugh at the power of the enemy. And though you are in a world full of enemies and sinners, yet God will be your Rock, and the most high God your Redeemer. God will carry you as on eagles’ wings through the world, aloft out of the reach of your enemies. They may see you, and wish your ruin, and gnash their teeth, but shall not be able to accomplish it. Satan will desire to have you, but Christ will have prayed for you, and that will be your security. You will be safe from death; that will not be able to hurt you. Natural men are in continual danger from death. They know not when nor how death may come. But if it comes while they are in that condition, it sinks them into hell. But you need not he afraid to meet death, either by day or night. Whenever it comes, and in whatever form, you are safe.

    While others walk in slippery places, “our feet will be established on a rock. In a time of sickness and mortality, while others tremble, you need not fear. If you are sick, you need not dread the issue. For though your flesh and your heart should fail you, yet God will be the strength of your heart, your present help, and your portion for ever. Though the earth should be removed, you will be safe. Psalm 46:1,2,3. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” If you are once in Christ Jesus, none shall ever pluck you out of his hands. John 10:28. “They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” You will be freed from condemnation; for who is he that shall condemn you? it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again. Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? “Neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature.” What a glorious foundation will there be for your peace and quietness! Isaiah 32:17. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.”

    Let this consideration, therefore, prompt you earnestly to seek, that you may obtain that happy condition. Can you consider how happy the change would be to you, how desirable such safety is, and not he willing earnestly to seek and do every thing which lies in your power, that you may obtain it? 3. Consider how exceedingly it will be for the comfort and pleasure of your life, if you are converted, You are not only under the greatest necessity to become converted, because a natural condition is so dreadful a condition, but you will gain by it every way. You will not only gain eternal life by it, but you will gain unspeakably by it while in this world. Your pains will be richly rewarded while here, though that be but little to your future reward.

    You cannot take a more direct course to make your life pleasant. You will obtain by it the most excellent delight and pleasure in comparison with which the pleasures which are to be had in worldly things are low and vile.

    Hereby you may obtain the most substantial, soul-satisfying, soulrefreshing pleasures. You may then live a life of divine love and communion with that glorious Being, who is the object of your love. Then you will be blest with the best company, and with heavenly society. Far better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasures with that trouble which wicked men have with their enjoyments. Then you may enjoy what God in his providence bestows upon you with peace of conscience; and may rejoice in it, as the fruit of the love of God. Then you may have the comfort of considering that you have God’s blessing on what you possess. Your enjoyments will then be sweet to you, for you will enjoy God in the fruits of his bounty. Your life will be abundantly more pleasant in all the circumstances and concerns of it. It will make God’s house a more delightful resort; your own house a more pleasant residence, for then the blessing of heaven will rest upon it; and your closet a sweeter retirement. It will make your labour sweeter to you, and it will sweeten your rest. You may then say with the psalmist, Psalm 4:8. “I will both lay me down and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” It will tend to make your life pleasant, and to make your death-bed comfortable to you. When all other comforts fail, this will stand you instead. It will remain as a living spring, which will never fail. John 4:14. “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” This will make time comfortable, and will make the thoughts of eternity comfortable to you, when you shall have those pleasures which are at God’s right hand for ever, in more immediate prospect; and shall have that faithful promise of God, that hereafter you shall see God, and shall dwell in his presence, and shall from the hands of Christ receive a crown of life.

    Direction 1. In general be directed to act as if you were in a dreadful condition; as one who looks upon his case to be dreadful, not merely as one looks upon his case undesirable and worse than that of another; but as one who is sensible that his state is inexpressibly dismal and terrible.

    Consider how men act when they apprehend their circumstances to be very dreadful, though only in temporal respects. As for instance: if they are in danger of being consumed by fire, or only having their substance consumed. Or if in danger of being seized by an enemy, or otherwise in danger of some dreadful evil. How do the thoughts of danger awake their poweis! What earnestness appears in them, in what haste are they! Be directed to seek for deliverance from a natural condition, in like manner, if you would be delivered. The jailer acted as one who was sensible that his condition was dreadful. So be you directed to act, if you would have the like success. Particularly, 1. Be in haste. The jailer, when he was made sensible of his dreadful condition, sprang into the presence of Paul and Silas, and cried out, what must I do to be saved? So you cannot be in too much haste. When ministers direct those who are seeking salvation to wait until God’s time comes, if they understand the Scriptures, they cannot mean, that they should not be in haste to obtain a better condition, or that they should be at rest, or continue in such a condition one hour, or one moment. They can only mean these two things: that you should wait or persevere in opposition to giving up in discouragement: and that they should wait in opposition to quarrelling with God for not delivering them, and not in opposition to being uneasy in a natural condition. For persons ought to be uneasy, and it argues awful stupidity to be otherwise; but in opposition to a quarrelling spirit because God does not show mercy sooner. We should persevere in our efforts to obtain salvation, as being sensible that God is not obliged to bestow it in our time, or at all; that he may, if he will, refuse to show mercy; and if he does show mercy, that he may do it in his own time. Remember that the command of Christ to you is, “ Repent and believe the Gospel.” You cannot lawfully continue in your present state one day or hour. Those who defer and put off repentance till another time are not in a likely way to obtain deliverance. The way is, to improve the present time; to do now, what must be done ever. We should make securing our salvation our present and immediate business. Therefore inquire, whether you do not put it off. If you do not put off the whole of the work, yet do you not put off part of it? Do you think you now strive as much for salvation, as it will ever be needful that you should? If not, delay no longer. Let it not be said of you tomorrow, that there is any thing delayed to-day, which you yourself thought needful to be done, or in your power to do, in order to your salvation. If you are sensible that you are in this dreadful condition, you certainly will make haste; you will need no other motive to it. 2. Let nothing, which you do in seeking salvation, be done with slackness.

    The direction is, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”

    Therefore, let nothing be done with a slack hand. Do every thing which you do in this great work earnestly, There are many things which you have to do; many duties to be performed, many means to be employed. Let all be done with your strength. Be earnest in prayer, earnest in hearing the word preached, diligent and faithful in watching over your own heart, diligent in searching your heart, diligent in reflecting on your past life, diligent and laborious in meditation, laborious and earnest in striving against temptation. And do not perform merely the duties of religion towards God earnestly, but also its duties towards your neighbour. Be earnest that you may do every duty required of you towards all men. Be earnest and diligent to do justly and honestly, and to render every man his due. Be earnest to watch against an envious, malicious, and revengeful spirit. Be earnest to do all the duties of charity: labour with your might, that you may behave charitably towards men, and neglect no duty of charity required of you. Be earnest in performing every relative duty: in rendering suitable honour to your parents in manifesting kindness and confidence to your husband or your wife; in instructing and governing your children, bringing them up in religion, and seeking their salvation in every way pointed out in the Scriptures. Do this earnestly, and with all your strength. You should not merely do some things earnestly, but all. 3. Take heed lest this your earnestness be not transient; but that you continue in it to the end. It is the misery of many persons, that they seem to be very warmly engaged for a little time, but it does not last. It is a very rare thing, that any who are thoroughly and perseveringly in earnest for salvation, fail of it, unless they have put off the work until they are near death before they began. How unstable is the heart of man, and how many are there who go to hell through backsliding! It is often the case when persons begin with much seeming earnestness, that they do it upon a secret dependence that they shall not need to make these efforts very long. They flatter themselves, that in a little time they shall obtain what they seek, and then they may take their ease; therefore, when they have gone on a while, and fail of that expectation, they soon slacken their exertions. They never consented to seek in this diligent persevering manner, always; but they appointed a time of their own, and sought it on terms of their own fixing.

    But a man is then in a hopeful way to be converted, when he has so great a sense of his misery, and his necessity of conversion, that he is disposed to do his utmost, to be violent for the kingdom of heaven, and to devote his life to it.

    If you are seeking salvation, inquire how it is with you as to this matter. Do you feel a disposition in yourself to be at the pains and difficulty of a most laborious seeking God’s grace in the denial of every lust, and in a painful performance of every duty as long as you live? Or does this seem to you to be too much; more than you can find a heart to comply with? You may be ready to say, that you could be willing to do all this, if you knew you should obtain at last. But that is not sufficient. You should be willing to run the venture of that, and seek upon what encouragement is given you, and to wait God’s sovereign will and pleasure in that way. And if you cannot become willing for this, be sensible there is a defect in your manner of seeking, which it behoves you to mend. And do not think that you seek it in the right way until you come to it. If you have a right sense of the dolefulness of your condition, it will bring you to it. Consider the great encouragement there is for this way of seeking. Proverbs 8:34. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” Hosea 6:3. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.” 4. Seek that you may be brought to lie at God’s feet in a sense of your own exceeding sinfulness. Seek earnestly that you may have such a sight yourself; what an exceedingly sinful creature you are, what a wicked heart you have, and how dreadfully you have provoked God to anger; that you may see that God would be most just if be should never have any mercy upon you. Labour, that all quarrelling about God’s dispensations towards sinners may he wholly subdued; that your heart may be abased and brought down to the dust before God; that you may see yourself in the hands of God; and that you can challenge nothing of God, but that God and his throne are blameless in the eternal damnation of sinners, and would be in your damnation. Seek that you may be brought off from all high opinion of your own worth, all trust in your own righteousness, and to see that all you do in religion is so polluted and defiled, that it is utterly unworthy of God’s acceptance; and that you commit sin enough in your best duties to condemn you for ever. Seek that you may come to see, that God is sovereign, that he is the potter and you the clay, and that his grace is his own, and that he may bestow it on whom he will, and that he might justly refuse to show you mercy. Seek that you may be sensible, that God is sovereign as to the objects of his grace, and also as to the time and manner of bestowing it, and seek to God and wait upon him as a sovereign God.

    Seek that you may be sensible that God’s anger is infinitely dreadful, yet, at the same time, be sensible that it is just. Labour that when you have a sense of the awfulness of the wrath of God in your mind, you may fall down before an angry God, and he in the dust. Seek that you may see, that you are utterly undone, and that you cannot help yourself; and yet, that you do not deserve that God should help you, and that he would be perfectly just if he should refuse ever to help you. If you have come to this, then you will be prepared for comfort. When persons are thus humble, it is God’s manner soon to comfort them. When you are thus brought low, doubtless God will soon lift you up. God will not bestow such a great and infinite mercy as eternal life upon persons, who will not acknowledge his sovereignty in that matter. When once there has been that conviction upon the heart which casts down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against God, then God is wont speedily to reveal his grace and love, and to pour the oil of comfort into the soul. 5. Abound in earnest prayer to God, that he would open your eyes, that you may behold the glorious and rich provision made for sinners in Jesus Christ. The souls of natural men are so blinded that they see no beauty or excellency in Christ. They do not see his sufficiency. They see no beauty in the work of salvation by him; and as long as they remain thus blind, it is impossible that they should close with Christ. The heart will never be drawn to an unknown Saviour, It is impossible that a man should love that, and freely choose that, and rejoice in that, in which he sees no excellency.

    But if your eyes were opened to see the excellency of Christ, the work would be done. You would immediately believe on him; and you would find your heart going after him. It would be impossible to keep it back. But take heed that you do not entertain a wrong notion of what it is, spiritually to see Christ. If you do, you may seek that which God never bestows. Do not think that spiritually to see Christ, is to have a vision of him as the prophets had, to see him in some bodily shape, to see the features of his countenance. Do not pray or seek for any such thing as this. But what you are to seek is, that you may have a sight of the glorious excellency of Christ, and of the way of salvation through him, in your heart. This is a spiritual sight of Christ. This is that for which you must cry to God day and night. God is the fountain of spiritual light, he opens the eyes of the blind, he commands the light to shine out of darkness. It is easy with God to enlighten the soul, and fill it with these glorious discoveries, though it is beyond the power of men and angels.

    SERMON I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. (Hosea 5:15.)

    IN the preceding part of the chapter is threatened the destruction of Ephraim. Ephraim, in the prophets, generally means the ten tribes, or the kingdom of Israel, as distinguished from the kingdom of Judah, When we read of Ephraim and Judah in the prophets, thereby is meant the whole people of Israel of the twelve tribes, as in verse 12. of this chapter, “Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house’ of Judah as rottenness.” By Jtidah is meant the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which were under the king of Judah; and by Ephraim is meant the ten tribes under the king of Israel. Ephraim is put for the whole kingdom of Israel, because Samaria, the seat of the kingdom, the royal city, was in that tribe, In the verse immediately preceding the text it is declared in what a terrible manner God was about to deal with Ephraim. “ For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah; I, even 1, will tear and go away, and none shall rescue him.” In the text God declares how he would deal with them after he had torn as a lion, etc. And here, 1. God declares how he would withdraw from them. “I will go and return to my place;” when I have torn as a lion. I will go away; I will leave them in that condition. I will depart from them, and they shall see no more of me. 2. What God will wait for in them before he returns to them to show them mercy. There are three things here signified. 1. That they should be sensible of their guilt. “Till they acknowledge their offence.” It is in the original, “till they become guilty.” That is, till they become guilty in their own eyes, till they are sensible of their guilt; in the same sense as the same expression is used in Romans 3:19. “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God:” that is, become guilty in their own eyes. 2. That they would be sensible of their misery, implied in the expression, “in their affliction they shall seek me.” Their calamity was brought upon them, before God had torn them, and left them, But in their pride and perverseness, they were not well sensible of their own miserable condition, as this prophet observes in chapter 7:9. 3. That they should be sensible of their need of God’s help, which is implied in their seeking God’s face, and seeking him early; that is, with great care and earnestness. Before, they would not seek God; they were not sensible of their helplessness, as we learn in the verse but one preceding the text. “ When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jacob.” But as we are there told, be could not heal him, nor cure his wound. And notwithstanding all the help he could afford, God wounded him, tore him as a young lion; and, as he declares, would leave him, and he should cease going to any other, and should be sensible that no other could heal, and accordingly come to him for healing.

    Doctrine, That it is God’s manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness, before he appears in his mercy and love to them.

    I. That it is ordinarily thus with respect to the bestowment of great and signal mercies.

    II. That it is particularly so with respect to revealing his love and mercy to their souls.

    I. This is God’s ordinary way before great and signal expressions of his mercy and favour He very commonly so orders it in his providence, and so influences men by his Spirit, that they are brought to see their miserable condition as they are in themselves, and to despair of help from themselves, or from an arm of flesh, before he appears for them, and also makes them sensible of their sin, and their unworthiness of God’s help. This appears from the account which the Scriptures give us of God’s dealings with his people. Joseph, before his great advancement in Egypt, must lie in the dungeon to humble him, and prepare him for such honour and prosperity.

    The children of Jacob, before Joseph reveals himself to them, and they receive that joy, and honour, and prosperity, which were consequent thereupon, pass through a train of difficulties and anxieties, till at last they are reduced to distress, and are brought to reflect upon their guilt, and to say, that they were verily guilty concerning their brother. God humbled them in his providence, and then an end was put to all their difficulties, and their sorrow was turned into joy upon Joseph’s revealing himself to them.

    Jacob, before he hears the joyful news of Joseph’s being yet alive, must be brought into great distress at the parting with Benjamin, and supposed loss of Simeon. He was reduced to great straits in his mind. He says in Genesis 42:36. “All these things are against me.” But soon after this he had these gladsome tidings brought to him, “ Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” And to confirm it, he sees the waggons and the noble presents, which Joseph sent to him: so that he was now brought to say, “It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive. I will go and see him before I die.” And so with the children of Israel in Egypt. Their bondage must wax more and more extreme. Their bondage had been very extreme. But yet Pharaoh gives commandment that more work should be laid upon them, and the task-masters tell them they must get their straw where they can find it; and nothing of their work should be diminished, And quickly upon this was their deliverance. So when the children of Israel were brought to the Red sea, the Egyptians pursued them, and were just at their heels, and they were reduced to the utmost distress, they see that they must assuredly perish, unless God work a miracle for them; for they were shut up on all sides: the Red sea was before them, and the army of the Egyptians encompassing them round behind, And they cried unto the Lord. And then God wonderfully appeared for their help, and made them pass through the Red sea, and put songs of deliverance into their mouths.

    So before God brought the children of Israel into Canaan, he led them about in a great and terrible wilderness through a train of difficulties and temptations for forty years, that he might teach them in their dependence on him, and the sinfulness of their own hearts. Deuteronomy 32:10.” He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.” God brought them into those trials and difficulties in the wilderness to humble them, and let them see what was in their hearts, that they might be convinced of their own perverseness by the many discoveries of it under those temptations, and so that they might be sensible that it was not for their righteousness that God made them his people, and gave them Canaan, seeing it was so evident that they were a stiff-necked people. Deuteronomy 8:2,3. “And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the ford doth man live.” And 15, 16, 17. “Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at the latter end; and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth.” And so we have examples of this from time to time in the history of the Judges. When Israel revolted, God gave them into the hands of their enemies. He let them continue in their hands, till they were reduced to great distress, and saw that they were in a helpless condition, and were brought to reflect on themselves, and to cry unto the Lord. And then God raised them up a deliverer. And when they cried unto God, he would not deliver them till he had humbled them, and brought them to own their unworthiness, and to own that they were in God’s hands. Judges 10:beginning with the 10th verse. “And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim. And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods; wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation, And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned; do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord; and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”

    And this is the method in which God declared from the beginning he would proceed with his people. Leviticus 26:40, etc. “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them; and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away., neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God.” It is God’s manner, when he will bestow signal blessings in answer to prayer, to make men seek them, and pray for them with a sense of their sin and misery. As 1 Kings 8:38,39. “ What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house; then hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men.” By knowing the plague of their own hearts is meant both their sin and misery. Being sensible of their misery is included, as is evident from the manner of expressing the same petition of Solomon’s prayer, as it is related in 2 Chronicles 6:29. “Then what prayer or supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every man shall know his own sore and his own grief.” By which is probably meant his misery and his sin, which is the foundation of it. Paul gives us an account how God brought him to have despair in himself before a great deliverance, which he experienced. 2 Corinthians 1:9,10.” But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the dead; who delivered us from so great a death.” how did Christ humble the woman of Canaan, or bring her to the exercise and expression of a sense of her own unworthiness before he answered her, and healed her daughter! When she continued to cry, after he answered her not a word, and seemed to take no notice of her; and his disciples desired him to send her away, and when she continued crying after him, hue gave a very humbling answer, saying, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And when she took it well, as owning that being called a dog was not too bad, and owning that she was therefore unworthy of children’s bread, she only sought the crumbs, then Christ answered her request. And the experience of God’s people in all ages corresponds with those examples. It is God’s usual method before remarkable discoveries of his mercy and love to them, especially by spiritual mercies, in a special manner to humble them, and make them sensible of their misery and helplessness in themselves, and of their vileness and unworthiness, either by some remarkably humbling dispensation of his providence or influence of his Spirit. We are come now, II. To show particularly that it is God’s manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness before he reveals his saving love and mercy to their souls. The mercy of God, which he shows to a sinner when he brings him home to the Lord Jesus Christ, is the greatest and most wonderful exhibition of mercy and love, of which men are ever the subjects. There are other things, in which God greatly expresses his mercy and goodness to men, many temporal favours. The mercies already mentioned, which God bestowed upon his people of old: his advancing Joseph in Egypt, his deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, his leading them through the Red sea on dry land, his bringing them into Canaan, and driving out the heathen from before them, his delivering them from time to time from the hands of their enemies, were great mercies but they were not equal to this of his people from under the guilt and dominion of sin. Several of them were typical of this; and as God would thus prepare men for the bestowment of those less mercies by making them sensible of their guilt and misery, so especially will he so do, before he makes known to them this great love of his in Jesus Christ. When God designs to show mercy to sinners, it is his mariner thus to begin with them.

    He first brings them to reflect upon themselves, and consider and be sensible what they are, and what condition they are n. What has already been said proves this. There is a harmony between God’s dispensations.

    And as we see that this is God’s manner of dealing with men when he gives them other great and remarkable mercies and manifestations of his favour, it is a confirmation that it is his method of proceeding with the souls of men, when about to reveal his mercy and love to them in Jesus Christ. 1. God makes men consider and be sensible of what sin they are guilty.

    Before, it may be, they were very regardless of this. They went on sinning, and never reflected upon what they did; never considered or regarded what or how many sins they committed. They saw no cause why they should trouble their minds about it. But when God convinces them, he brings them to reflect upon themselves; he sets their sins in order before their eyes. He brings their old sins to their minds, so that they are fresh in their memory-- things which they had almost forgotten. And many things, which they mused to regard as light offences, which were not wont to be a burden to their consciences, nor to appear worthy to be taken notice of, they are now made to reflect upon. Thus they discover of what a multitude of transgressions they have been guilty, which they have heaped up till they are grown up to heaven, There are some sins especially, of which they have been guilty, which are ever before them, so that they cannot get them out of their minds. Sometimes when men are under conviction, their sins follow them, and haunt them like a spectre. God makes them sensible of the sin of their hearts, how corrupt and depraved their hearts are. And there are two ways in which he does this. One is by setting before them the sins of their lives. They are so set in order before them, they appear so many and so aggravated, that they are convinced what a fountain of corruption there is in their hearts. Their sinful natures appear by their sinful lives, There is sin enough, which every man has committed, to convince him, that he is sold under sin, that his heart is frill of nothing but corruption, if God by his Spirit leads him rightly to consider it.

    Another way which God sometimes makes use of, is, to leave men to such internal workings of corruption under the temptations which they have in their terrors and fears of hell, as shows them what a corrupt and wicked heart they have. God sometimes brings this good out of this evil, to make men see the corruption of their nature by the workings of it under temptations, which they have in their terrors about damnation. God leads them through the wilderness to prove them, and let them know what is in their hearts, as he did the children of Israel, as we have already observed.

    By means of the trials which the children of Israel had in the wilderness, they might be made sensible what a murmuring, perverse, rebellious, unfaithful, and idolatrous people they were. So God sometimes makes sinners sensible what wicked hearts they have, by their experience of the exercises of corruption, while they are under convictions, Not that this will in the least excuse men for allowing such workings of corruption in their hearts, because God sometimes leaves men to be wicked, that he may afterwards turn it to their good, when he in infinite wisdom sees meet so to do. We must not go and be wicked on purpose that we may get good by it.

    It will be very absurd, as well as horridly presumptuous, for us so to do.

    Though God sometimes in his sovereign mercy makes those workings of corruption, and a spirit of opposition and enmity against God, a means of showing them the vileness of their own hearts, and so to turn to their good.

    So God oftentimes is provoked thereby utterly to withdraw and forsake them, after the example of those murmurers, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, of whom God sware in his wrath that they should never enter into his rest. And they who allow themselves therein, are the most likely so to provoke God. But it is God s manner to show men the plague of their own hearts by some means or other, before he reveals his redeeming love to their souls. While sinners are unconvinced sin lies hid. They take no notice of it. But God makes the law effectual to bring men’s own sins of heart and life to be reflected on, and observed. Romans 7:9. “I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived.”

    Then sin appeared and came to light, which was not before observed.

    Joseph’s revealing himself to his brethren, is probably typical of Christ’s revealing himself to the soul of a sinner, making known himself in his love, and in his near relation of a brother, and a redeemer of his soul. But before Joseph revealed himself to them, they were made to reflect upon themselves, and say, “we are verily guilty.” 2. God convinces sinners of the dreadful danger they are in by reason of their sin. Having their sins set before them, God makes them sensible of the relation which their sin has to misery. And here are two things of which they are convinced about their danger. 1. God makes them sensible that his displeasure is very dreadful. Before they heard often about the anger of God, and the fierceness of his wrath; but they were not moved by it. But now they are made sensible that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the bands of the living God. They are made in some measure sensible of the dreadfulness of hell. They are led with fixedness and impression to think what a dismal thing it will be to have God an enraged enemy, setting to work the misery of a soul, and how dismal it will be to dwell in such torment for ever without hope. Isaiah 33:14. “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Other sinners are told of hell, but convinced sinners often have hell, as it were, in their view. They being impressed with a sense of the dreadfulness of its misery, is the cause why it works upon their imagination oftentimes; and it will seem as though they saw the dismal flames of hell; as though they saw God in implacable wrath exerting his fury upon them; as though they heard the cries and shrieks of the damned. 2. They are made in some measure sensible of the connexion there is between their sins and that wrath, or how their sin and guilt exposes them to that wrath, of the dreadfulness of which they have such lively apprehensions, and so fear takes hold of them. They are afraid that will be their portion. And they are sensible that they are in a miserable and doleful condition by reason of sin. Man7 things in the Scriptures make it evident that this is God s method. The account we have of our first parents confirms it.They had a sense of guilt and danger, before Christ was revealed to them. They were guilty, and’ were afraid of God’s wrath, and ran and hid themselves. They were terribly afraid when they heard God coming. And doubtless their sense of their guilt and fear, when they were brought before God, and were called to an account, and God asked them what they had done, and whether they had eaten of that tree, whereof he commanded them that they should not eat, prepared them for a discovery of mercy. God made them sensible of their guilt and danger before he revealed to them the covenant of grace. And it is probable that their reflecting upon what God said about the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, soon wrought faith; that it was not long before that discovery God made of a merciful design towards them, was a means of true consolation and hope to them. Joseph’s brethren were brought into great distress for fear of their lives before Joseph revealed himself to them.

    Those who were converted by Peter’s sermon, were first pricked in their hearts in a sense of their guilt and their danger. Acts 2:37’. And Paul, before he had his first comfort, trembled, and was astonished. Acts 9:6.

    And continued three days and three nights, and neither ate nor drank, which expressed his great distress. The jailer, before he was converted, was in terror. He called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. Acts 16:29,30. Christ’s invitation is made more especially to the weary and heavy laden; which doubtless has respect, at least partly, to labouring and being weary with a sense of guilt and danger. We read when David was in the cave, then every one who was in distress, was gathered unto him. 1 Samuel 22:1. This doubtless was written as typifying Jesus Christ, and the referring of those who were in fear and distress unto him. The expression of flying for refuge, by which coming to Christ is signified, implies, that before they come, they are in fear of some evil. They apprehend themselves in danger, and this fear gives wings to their feet. Proverbs 18:10. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower.” The voice of God to a sinner, when he gives him true comfort, is a still small voice, But this voice is preceded by a strong wind, and a terrible earthquake, and fire, as it was in Horeb when Elijah was there. i Kings 19:11, 12. “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”

    Another thing in the Scriptures, which seems to evince this, is the frequent comparison made between the church spiritually bringing forth Christ, and a woman in travail, in pain to be delivered. John 16:21. and Revelation 12:2. The conversion of a sinner is represented by the same thing. It is bringing forth Christ in the heart. Paul speaks of men’s regeneration as of Christ being brought forth in them. Galatians 4:19. And therefore Christ calls believers his mother. Matthew 12:49,50. “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

    For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

    Hosea 5:1.5. “I will go and return to my place till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” (Till they shall be guilty, in the original.)

    Doctrine. That it is God’s manner to make men sensible of, their misery and unworthiness, before he appears in his mercy and love to them.

    III. They are made sensible of the desert of their sin; that their sin deserves that wrath of God to which it exposes them. They are not only sensible of the dreadfulness of God’s wrath, how fearful a thing it would be to fall into the hands of the living God, and to sustain the eternal expressions of his fierce anger, as well as of the connexion between their sins and this wrath, and how their sins expose them to it; but God is also wont, before he comforts them, to show them that their sins deserve this wrath. By a clear discovery of the connexion between their sin and God’s wrath, they are sensible of their danger of hell; of which many are in a measure sensible, who are wholly insensible of their desert of hell. The threatenings of the law make them afraid indeed, that God will punish sins; yet they have no thorough apprehension of their desert of the punishment threatened; and therefore many, who are afraid, murmur against God. They charge him foolishly with being hard and cruel, But it is God’s manner before he speaks peace to them, and reveals his redeeming love and mercy in Jesus Christ, to make them sensible that they also deserve it. Thus Matthew 10:3,24,25,26. “And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” Very commonly when men are first made sensible of their danger, their mouths are open against God and his dealings; that is, their hearts are full of murmurings, But it is God’s manner before he comforts and reveals his mercy and love to them, to stop their mouths, and make them acknowledge their guilt, or their desert of the threatened punishment. Romans 3:19,20. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” God would convince men of their guilt before he reveals a pardon to them. Now a man cannot he said to be thoroughly sensible of his guilt, till he is sensible that he deserves hell. A man must be sensible that he is guilty of death, or guilty of damnation, to use the scriptural mode of expression, before God will reveal to him his freedom from damnation. A sense of guilt consists in two things--in a sense of sin, and in a sense of the relation which sin has to punishment. Now the relation which sin has to punishment, is also twofold: first, the connexion which it has with punishment, by which it exposes to it, and brings it; and secondly, its desert of punishment. When a man is truly convinced of his desert of the punishment to which his sin exposes him, then he may be said to be thoroughly sensible of his guilt. Then he is become guilty, in the sense of our text, and in the sense of Romans 3:20.

    Inquiry How is it that a sinner is made sensible of his desert of God’s wrath? A natural man may have a sense of this, though not the same sense which a person may have after conversion; because a natural man cannot have a true sight of sin, and of the evil of it. A man cannot truly know the evil of sin against God, except it be by a discovery of his glory and excellence; and then he will he sensible how great an evil it is to sin against him. Yet it cannot be denied that natural men are capable of a conviction of their desert of hell, or that their consciences may be convinced of it without a sight of God’s glory. The consciences of wicked men will also be convinced of the justice of their sentence and of their punishment at the day of judgment; and doubtless will echo to the sentence of the Judge, and condemn them to the same punishment. Here, therefore, we would inquire how it is that a natural man may be made sensible of this. 1. We shall show what is the principle assisted. 2. How it us assisted. And 3. What are the chief external means which are used in order to this. 1. What principle in man is assisted in convincing him of his desert of eternal punishment? No new principle is infused. Natural men have only natural principles; and therefore all that is done by the spirit of God before regeneration is by assisting natural principles. To observe, therefore, in answer to this inquiry, That the principle, which is assisted in making natural men sensible of their desert of wrath, is natural conscience. Though man has lost a principle of love to God, and all spiritual principle’, by the fall, yet natural conscience remains. Now there are two things, which are the proper work of natural conscience. One is to give man a sense of right and wrong. A natural man has no sense of the beauty and amiableness of virtue, or of the turpitude and odiousness of vice. But ‘et every man has that naturally within, which testifies to him that some things are right, and others wrong. Thus if a man steals, or commits murder, there is something within, which tells him that he has done wrong; he knows that he has not done right. Romans 2:14,15. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing, one another.” And the other work of natural conscience is to suggest the relation there is between right and wrong, and a retribution.

    Man has that in him, which suggests to him, when he has done ill, a relation between that ill and punishment. If a man has done that which his conscience tells him is wrong, is unjust, his conscience tells him that he deserves to he punished for it. Thus natural conscience has a two old power; a teaching, or accusing, and a condemning power. The Spirit of God, therefore, assists natural conscience the more thoroughly to do this, its work, and so convinces a man of sin. Conscience naturally suggests, when he has done a known evil, that he deserves punishment; and being assisted to its work thoroughly, a man is convinced that he deserves eternal punishment. Though natural conscience does remain in the man since the fall, yet it greatly needs assistance in order to its work, It is greatly hindered in doing its work by sin. Every thing in man, which is part of his perfection, is hindered and impaired by sin. A faculty of reason remains since the fall, but it is greatly impaired and blinded. So natural conscience remains, but sin, in a great degree, stupifies it, and hinders it in its work.

    Now when God convinces a sinner, he assists his conscience against the stupefaction of sin, and helps it to do its work more freely and fully. The Spirit of God works immediately upon men’s consciences. In conviction their consciences are awakened. They are convinced in their consciences.

    Their consciences smite them and condemn them. 2. It may he inquired, How God assists natural conscience so as to convince the sinner of his desert of hell I answer, 1. In general, it is by light. The whole work of God is carried on in the heart of man from his first convictions to his conversion by light, It is by discoveries which are made to his soul, But by what light is it, that a sinner is made sensible that he deserves God’s wrath? It is some discovery that he has, which makes him sensible of the heinousness of disobeying and casting contempt upon God. The light which gives evangelical humiliation, and which makes man sensible of the hateful and odious nature of sin, is a discovery of God’s glory and excellence and grace. But what is it which a natural man sees of God, which makes him sensible that sin against God deserves his wrath; for he sees nothing of the excellence and loveliness of God’s glory and grace? I answer, 2. Particularly, it seems to be a discovery of God’s awful and terrible greatness. Natural men cannot see any thing of God’s loveliness, his amiable and glorious grace, or any thing which should attract their love; but they may see his terrible greatness to excite their’ tenor. Wicked men in another world, though they do not see his loveliness and grace, yet they see his awful greatness, and that makes them sensible of the heinousness of sin.

    The damned in hell are sensible of the heinousness of their sin. Their consciences declare it to them. And they are made sensible of it by what they see of the awful greatness of that Being, against whom they have sinned. And wicked men in thus world are capable of being made sensible of the heinousness of sin the same way. If a wicked soul is capable while wicked of receiving the discoveries of God’s terrible majesty in another world, it is capable of it in this. God may if he pleases, make wicked men sensible of the same thing here. And in this way natural men may be so made sensible of the heinousness of sin, as to be convinced that they deserve hell; as is evident in that it is by this very means, that wicked men will be made sensible of the justice of their punishment in another world, and at the day of judgment. For then the wicked will see so much of the awful greatness of God, the Judge, that it will convince their consciences what a heinous thing it was in them to disobey and contemn such a God, and will convince them that they therefore deserve his wrath. Which shows that wick men are capable of being convinced in the same way. A wicked man, while a wicked man, is capable of hearing the thunders, and seeing the devouring fire, of mount Sinai; that is, he is capable of being made sensible of that terrible majesty and greatness of God, which was discovered at the giving of the law. But this brings me to the 3. Thing, viz. the principal outward means, which the Spirit of God makes use of in this work of convincing men of their desert of hell. And that is the law. The Spirit of God in all his work upon the souls of men, works by his word. And in this whole work of conviction of sin, that part of the word is principally made use of; viz. the Law. It is the law which makes men sensible of their sin; and it is the law, attended with its awful threatenings and curses, which gives a sense of the awful greatness, the authority, the power, the jealousy of God. Wicked men are made sensible of the tremendous greatness of God, as it were, in the same manner in which the children of Israel were; viz. by the thunders, and earthquake, and devouring fire, and sound of the trumpet, and terrible voice at mount Sinai.

    All the people who were in the camp trembled, and they said, Let not God speak with us, lest we die. So that it is the law, which God makes use of in assisting the natural conscience to do its work. Galatians 3:24. “ Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” It is the law which God makes use of, to make men sensible of their guilt, and to stop their mouths. Romans 3:19. “ Now we know that whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” It is the law, which kills men as to trusting in their own righteousness. “For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Galatians 2:19. “ For I through the law am dead to the law.”

    Conviction, which precedes conversion, is of sin and misery. But men are not thoroughly sensible of their sin or guilt, till they are sensible they deserve hell; nor thoroughly sensible of their misery, till they are sensible they are helpless. 4. It is God’s manner to make men sensible of their helplessness in their own strength. It is usual with sinners, when they are first made sensible of their danger of hell, to attempt by their own strength to save themselves.

    They in some measure see their danger, and endeavour to work out their own deliverance. ‘They are striving to make themselves better. They strive to convert themselves, to work their hearts into a believing frame, and to exercise a saving trust in Christ, having heard that if ever they believe, they must put their trust in Christ, and in him alone, for salvation, they think they will trust in Christ and cast their souls upon him. And this they endeavour to do in their own strength. This is very common with persons upon a sick bed, when they are afraid that they shall die and go to hell, and are told that they must put their trust in Christ alone for salvation. They attempt to do it in their own strength. So sinners will be striving without a sense of their insufficiency in themselves to bring their own hearts to love God, and to choose him for their portion, and to repent of their sins, or they strive to make themselves better, that so God may be more willing to convert them and give them his grace, and enable them to believe in Christ, and love God, and repent of their sins. But before God appears to them as their help and deliverance, it is his manner to make them sensible that they are utterly helpless in themselves. They are brought to despair of help from themselves. There is a death to all their hopes from themselves. Romans 7:9. Before God opens the prison doors, he makes them see that they are shut up that they are close prisoners, and that there is no way in which they can escape. Christ tells us in Isaiah 61:1. that he was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, and to proclaim liberty to captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. Christ was sent to open the prison to them that are not only really, but sensibly, bound. Galatians 3:23. “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith, that should afterwards be revealed.” God makes men sensible that they are in a forlorn condition, that they are wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked, before he comforts them. Christ tells us in John 9:39. “For judgment I am come into the world, that they which see not, might see; and that they which see, might be made blind;” meaning, partly at least, by those that see, those who think they see; having respect to the Pharisees, who were proud of their knowledge; and by the blind, those who are sensibly blind, This is emblematically represented by Saul’s blindness before his first comfort. He was blind till Ananias came to him to open his eyes; probably designed to intimate to us, that before God opens the eyes of men in conversion, he makes them sensibly blind. God brings men to this despair in their own strength in these ways. 1. God oftentimes makes use of men’s own experience to convince them that they are helpless in themselves. When they first set out in seeking salvation, it may be they thought it an easy thing to be converted. They thought they should presently bring themselves to repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, and accordingly they strove in their own strength with hopes of success. But they were disappointed. And so God suffers them to go on striving to open their own eyes, and mend their own hearts. But they find no success. They have been striving to see for a long time, yet they are as blind as ever; and can see nothing. It is all Egyptian darkness. They have been striving to make themselves better; but they are bad as ever. They have often striven to do something which is good, to be in the exercise of good affections, which should be acceptable to God; but they have no success. And it seems to them, that instead of growing better, they grow worse and worse; their hearts are fuller of wicked thoughts than they were at first; they see no more likelihood of their conversion than there was at first. So God suffers them to strive in their own strength, till they are discouraged, and despair of helping themselves. The prodigal son first strove to fill his belly with the husks which the swine did eat. But when he despaired of’ being helped in that way, then he came to himself, and entertained thoughts of returning to his father’s house. 2. God sometimes, by a particular assistance of’ the understanding, enables men to see so much of their own hearts, as at once causes them to despair of helping themselves. He sometimes convinces them by their own trials, suffering them to try a long time to effect their own salvation, until they are discouraged. But God, if he pleases, can convince men without such endeavours of their own; and sometimes he does so; as must be the case in many sudden conversions, of which the instances are not unfrequent. By revealing to them their own hearts, he sometimes enables them to perceive that they are so remote from the exercise of love to God, of faith, and of every other christian grace, as well as from the possession of the least degree of spiritual light, that they despair of ever bringing themselves to it.

    They perceive that within their souls all is darkness as darkness itself, and as the shadow of death, and that it is too much for them to cause light.

    They find themselves dead to any thing good, and therefore despair of bringing themselves to the performance of gracious acts. Thus we have shown that it is God’s ordinary manner, before he reveals his redeeming mercy to the souls of men, to make them sensible of their sinfulness and danger, of their desert of the divine wrath, and of their utter helplessness in themselves, This we have shown to be most accordant with the Holy Scriptures, as well as with God’s method of dealing with mankind in other things. And we have shown in an imperfect manner how, and by what means, it is, that God thus convinces men. This work is what Christ speaks of, as one part of the work of the Holy Ghost. John 16:8. “When he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” It is God’s manner to convince men of sin, before he convinces them of righteousness.

    I come now to show the reasons of the doctrine.

    The propriety of such a method of proceeding is very obvious. How agreeable to the divine wisdom does it seem, that the sinner should be brought to such a conviction of his danger and misery, as to perceive his utter incapacity to help himself by any strength or contrivance of his own, and his entire unworthiness of God’s help, and desert of his wrath; and that he should be brought to acknowledge that God, in the exercise of his holy sovereignty, may with perfect justice do with him as before he appears in his pardoning mercy and love, as his helper and friend. A man who is converted is successively in two exceedingly different states; first, a very miserable, wrenched state of condemnation; and then in a blessed condition, a state of justification. How agreeable, therefore, does it seem to the divine wisdom, that such a man should be conscious of this: first, of his miserable, condemned state, and then of his happy state; that, as he is really first guilty, and under a deep desert of hell, before he is really pardoned and admitted to God’s favour, so he should first be conscious that he is guilty, and under such a desert of hell, before he is conscious of being the object of pardoning and redeeming mercy and grace. But the propriety of God’s thus dealing with the souls of men, will appear perhaps better by considering the following reasons: 1. It is the will of God, that the discoveries of his terrible majesty, and awful holiness and justice, should accompany the discoveries of his grace and love, in order that he may give to his creatures worthy and just apprehensions of himself. it is the glory of God, that these attributes are united in the divine nature, that as he is a being of infinite mercy and love and grace, so he is a being of infinite and tremendous majesty, and awful holiness and justice. The perfect and harmonious union of these attributes, in the divine nature, is what constitutes the chief part of their glory. God’s awful and terrible attributes, and his mild and gentle attributes, reflect glory one on the other; and the exercise of the one is in the perfect consistency and harmony with that of the other. If there were the exercise of the mild and gentle attributes without the other, if there were love and mercy and grace in inconsistency with God’s authority and justice and infinite hatred of sin, it would be no glory. If God’s love and grace did not harmonize with his Justice and the honour of his majesty, far from being an honour, they would be a dishonour to God. Therefore as God designs to glorify himself when he makes discoveries of the one, he will also make discoveries of the other. When he makes discoveries of his love and grace, it shall appear that they harmonize with those other attributes; otherwise his true glory would not be discovered, if men were sensible of the love of God without a sense of those other attributes, they would be exposed to have improper and unworthy apprehensions of God, as though he were gracious to sinners in such a manner as did not become a Being of infinite majesty and infinite hatred of sin. And as it would expose to unworthy apprehensions of God, so it would expose the soul in some respects to behave unsuitably towards God. There would not be a due reverence blended with love and joy. Such discoveries of love, without answerable discoveries of awful greatness, would dispose the soul to come with an undue boldness to God. The very nature and design of the gospel show that this is the will of God, that those who have the discoveries of his love, should also have the discoveries of those other attributes. For this was the very end of Christ’s laying down his life, and coming into the world, to render the glory of God’s authority, holiness, and justice, consistent with his grace in pardoning and justifying. sinners, that while God thus manifested his mercy, we might not conceive any unworthy thoughts of him with respect to those other attributes. Seeing, therefore, that this is the very end of Christ’s coming into the world, we may conclude that those who are actually redeemed by Christ, and have a true discovery of Christ made to their souls, have a discovery of God’s terribleness and justice to prepare them for the discovery of his love and mercy. God, of old, before the death and sufferings of Christ were so fully revealed, was ever careful that the discoveries of both should be together, so that men might not apprehend God’s mercy in pardoning sin and receiving sinners, to the disparagement of his justice. When God proclaimed his name to Moses, in answer to his desire that he might see God’s glory, he indeed proclaimed his mercy: “The Lord, the Lord God, gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.” But he did not stop here, but also proclaimed his holy justice and vengeance; “and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.” Thus they are joined together again in the fourth commandment. “For I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Thus we find them joined together in passages too numerous to be mentioned.

    When God was about to speak to Elijah in Horeb, he was first prepared for such a familiar conversing with God by awful manifestations of the divine majesty. First there was a wind, which rent the rocks, and then an earthquake, and then a devouring fire. 1 Kings 19:11,12. God is careful even in heaven, where the discoveries of his love and grace are given in such an exalted degree, also to provide means for a proportional sense of his terribleness, and the dreadfulness of his displeasure, by their beholding it in the miseries and torments of the damned, at the same time that they enjoy his love. Even the man Christ Jesus was first made sensible of the wrath of God, before his exaltation to that transcendent height of enjoyment of the Father’s hove, And this is one reason that God gives sinners a sense of his wrath against their sins, and of his justice, before he gives them the discoveries of his redeeming love. 2. Unless a man be thus convinced of his sin and misery before God makes him sensible of his redeeming love and mercy, he cannot be sensible of that love and mercy as it is; viz, that it is free and sovereign. When God reveals his redeeming grace to men, and makes them truly sensible of it, he would make them sensible of it as it is. God’s grace and love towards sinners is in itself very wonderful, as it redeems from dreadful wrath. But men cannot be sensible of this until they perceive in some adequate degree how dreadful the wrath of God is. God’s redeeming grace and love in Christ is free and sovereign, as it is altogether without any worthiness in those who are the objects of it. But men cannot he sensible of this, until they are sensible of their own unworthiness. The grace of God in Christ is glorious and wonderful, as it is not only as the objects of it are without worthiness, but as they deserve the everlasting wrath and displeasure of God. But they cannot be sensible of this until they are made sensible that they deserve God’s eternal wrath. The grace of God in Christ is wonderful, as it saves and redeems from so many and so great sins, and from the punishment they have deserved. But sinners cannot be sensible of this till they are in some measure sensible of their sinfulness, and brought to reflect upon the sins of their lives, and to see the wickedness of their hearts. It is the glory of God’s grace in Christ, that it is so free and sovereign. And doubtless it is the will of God, that when he reveals his grace to the soul, it should be seen in its proper glory, though not perfectly. When men see the glory of God’s grace aright, they see it as free and unmerited, and contrary to the demerit of their sins. All who have a spiritual understanding of the grace of God in Christ, have a perception of the glory of that grace. But the glory of the divine grace appears chiefly in its being bestowed on the sinner when he is in a condition so exceedingly miserable and necessitous. In order, therefore, that the sinner may be sensible of this glory he must first be sensible of the greatness of his misery, and then of the greatness of the divine mercy. The heart of man is not prepared to receive the mercy of God in Christ, as free and unmerited, till he is sensible of his own demerit.

    Indeed the soul is not capable of receiving a revelation or discovery of the redeeming grace of God in Christ, as redeeming grace, without being convinced of sin and misery. He must see his sin and misery before he can see the grace of God in redeeming him from that sin and misery. 3. Until the sinner is convinced of his sin and misery, Ire is not prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God, as through a Mediator; because hue does not see his need of a Mediator till he sees his sin and misery. If there were, on the part of God, any exercise of absolute and immediate mercy toward sinners bestowed without any satisfaction or purchase, the soul might possibly see that without a conviction of its sin and misery, But there us not. All God’s mercy to sinners is through a Savior. The redeeming mercy and grace of God is mercy and grace in Christ. And when God discovers his mercy to the soul, he will discover it as mercy in a Saviour; and it is his will that the mercy should he received as in and through a Saviour, with a full consciousness of its being through his righteousness and satisfaction. It is the will of God, that as all the spiritual comforts which his people receive are in and through Christ, so they should be sensible that they receive them through Christ, and that they came receive them in no other way. It is the will of God, that his people should have their eyes directed to Christ, and should depend upon him for mercy and favour, that whenever they receive comforts through his purchase, they should receive them as from him. And that because God would glorify his Son as Mediator, as the glory of man’s salvation belongs to Christ, so it is the will of God that all the people of Christ, all who are saved by him, should receive their salvation as of him, and should attribute the glory of it to him and that none who will not give the glory of salvation to Christ, should have the benefit of it. Upon this account God insists upon it, and it is absolutely necessary, that a sinner’s conviction of his sin, and misery, and helplessness in himself, should precede or accompany the revelation of the redeeming love and grace of God. I shall also mention two other ends which are hereby attained. 4. By this means the redeeming mercy and love of God are more highly prized and rejoiced in, when discovered. By the previous discoveries of danger, misery, and helplessness, and desert of wrath, the heart is prepared to embrace a discovery of mercy. When the soul stands trembling at the brink of the pit, and despairs of any help from itself, it is prepared joyfully to receive tidings of deliverance. If God is pleased at such a time to make the soul hear his still small voice, his call to himself and to a Saviour, the soul is prepared to give it a joyful reception. The gospel then, if it be heard spiritually, will be glad tidings indeed; the most joyful which the sinner ever heard. The love of God and of Christ to the world, and to him in particular, will be admired, and Christ will be most precious. To remember what danger he was in, what seas surrounded him; and then to reflect how safe he now is in Christ, and how sufficient Christ is to defend him, and to answer all his wants, will cause the greater exultation of soul. God, in this method of dealing with the souls of his elect, consults their happiness, as well as his own glory, And it increases happiness, to be made sensible of their misery and unworthiness, before God comforts them; for their comfort, when they receive it, is so much the sweeter. 5. The heart is more prepared and disposed to praise God for it. This follows from the reasons already mentioned; as they are hereby made sensible how free and sovereign the mercy of God is towards them, and how great his grace in saving them; and as they more highly prize the mercy and love of God made known to them: all will dispose them to magnify the name of God, to exalt the love of God the Father in giving his Son to them, and to exalt Jesus Christ by their praise, who laid down his life for them to redeem them from all iniquity. They are ready to say, How miserable should I have been, had not God had pity upon me, and provided me a Saviour! In what a miserable condition should I have been, had not Christ loved me, and given himself for me! I must have endured that dreadful wrath of God; I must have suffered the punishment which I had deserved by all that great sin and wickedness of which I have been guilty.


    I. This subject admits of an application to unconverted sinners. If it be so, as has been represented, then let me exhort you to seek those convictions.

    Though you are at present sinners, and have no terrifying sense of your danger of hell, yet I presume to say concerning most of you at least, that you do not intend to go to hell. When you happen to think about another world, you flatter yourself, that in some way or other you shall escape eternal misery; or at least, you do not think of it with a willingness to be damned. But if it be, that you do not suffer eternal damnation, you have a great work to do before you die. It ordinarily is a very difficult work, especially to those who have gone on for a considerable time in ways of wickedness under the means of grace. If you are ever truly converted, you must be convinced of your misery and unworthiness you must be guilty in your own sense. Begin your work, then, and seek to be made sensible of your misery and unworthiness. Make haste, and set about this work speedily. You may defer it so long, that it will be too late. It may be too late, if you delay, in these two ways. It may be too late, as you may be overtaken with death, before you set about in, as thousands and millions have been before you. And if you should not die before you begin, vet it may be too late, as you may never have an opportunity to get through.

    Some persons are a long time under convictions, before they are converted.

    There are some, whom God suffers to continue a long time seeking salvation in their own strength before he makes them despair of help from themselves. They continue many years trusting in their own righteousness, as it were, wandering from mountain to hill, from one hold to another, seeking rest and safety, They are a long time building castles in the air.

    They sometimes flatter themselves from one consideration, and sometimes from another. And if you should delay, there is danger that you may not have time. Some are many years under fears of damnation, and are seeking salvation. And there are many for whom death is too quick. Here we will consider briefly what are the occasions of the stupidity and senselessness of sinners; and thence shall take occasion to warn those, who would seek the convictions of God’s Spirit. 1. Some provoke God to withhold the strivings and convincing influences of his Spirit. Some provoke God to give them tip to hardness of heart. God lets them alone, and intends to let them alone. Hosea 4:16. “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” Psalm 81:11,12. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them tip to their own hearts lust; and they walked in their own counsels.”

    Hosea 5:15. — I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early.

    Doctrine, It is God’s manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness, before he appears in his mercy and love to them; particularly before he appears in his redeeming love and mercy to their souls.

    Second use. To exhort those, who have some convictions of sin and danger, that they do not lose them. If you have the strivings of God’s Spirit, God has met with you, led you to reflect upon your sins, and sensible that you are in danger of hell; and so made you concerned about your soul, and put you upon seeking salvation. Take heed that you do not lose your convictions, and grow senseless of eternal things, and negligent of your soul’s concern, that you do not return to your former careless way of living, that you do not return to your former sins. Here consider, 1. That there is danger of it. It is not all who are under concern for their souls, and who, by the strivings of God’s Spirit, are put upon seeking and striving for salvation, who hold out. There are many more, who set out at the beginning of the race, who do not hold Out to the end. Many things intervene between the beginning and the end of the race, which divert, and stop, and turn back many who commenced well, There are many, who seem to be under strong convictions, and to be very earnest in seeking, whose convictions are but short-lived. And some, who seem to be much concerned about salvation for a considerable time, it may be for years together, yet by degrees grow careless and negligent, There is much n your own heart, which tends to stupify you. It is the natural tendency of sin and lust, to stupify the conscience. And as corruption is reigning as yet in your heart, it will ever be ready to exert itself in such acts, as will have a great tendency to drive away your convictions. And Satan is doubtless diligently watching over you, striving in all ways to abate, and to take off, your convictions, he joins in with the sloth and lusts of your heart to persuade to negligence, and to turn your mind to other things. And the world is full of objects, which tend to take off your mind from the soul’s concern, and are constantly, as it were, endeavouring to take possession of your mind, and to drive out the concerns of another world. 2. Consider, if you lose your convictions, it will be no advantage to you that ever you had them, as to any furtherance of your salvation. Whatever terrors you have been under about damnation, to whatever reflections you have been brought upon your sins, whatever strong desires you have had after deliverance, and whatever earnest prayers you have made, it will all be lost. What you have suffered of fear and concern will turn to no good account; and what you have done, the pains you have taken, will be utterly lost, When you have strove against sin, and laboured in duty, have stemmed the stream, and have proceeded a considerable way up the hill, and made some progress towards the kingdom of heaven, when once you have lost your convictions, you will be as far from salvation as you were before you began; you will lose all the ground you have gained; you will go quite down to the bottom of the hill; the stream will immediately carry you back. All will be lost; you had as good never have had those convictions, as to have had them, and then to lose them. 3. You do not know that you shall ever have such an opportunity again.

    God is now striving with you by his Spirit. If you should lose the strivings of his Spirit, it may be that God’s Spirit would never return again. If you are under convictions, you have a precious opportunity, which, if you knew the worth of it, you would esteem as better than any temporal advantages.

    You have a price in your hands to get wisdom, which is more valuable than gold or silver, It is a great privilege to live under means of grace, to enjoy the word and ordinances of God, and to know the way of salvation, It is a greater thing still to live under a powerful dispensation of the means of grace under a very instructive, convincing ministry. But it is a much greater privilege still to be the subject of the convincing influences of the Spirit of God. If you have these, you have a precious advantage in your hands. And if you lose it, it is questionable whether you ever have the like advantage again, We are counselled to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6. A time in which God’s Spirit is striving with a man by convictions of his sin and danger, is especially such a time, that is a sinner’s best opportunity. It is especially a day of salvation.

    God may be said to be near, when he pours out his Spirit upon many in the place where a person dwells. It is prudence for all then to be calling upon God as being near at such a time. But especially is God near, at a time when he is pouring out his Spirit in immediately convincing and awakening a man s own soul. If therefore God’s Spirit is now at work with you, you have a precious opportunity. Take heed that you do not by any means let it slip. It may doubtless be said concerning many, that they have missed their opportunity. Most men, who live under the gospel, have a special opportunity, that there is a certain season, which God appoints for them, which is, above all others, a day of grace with them, when men have a very fair opportunity for securing eternal salvation, if they did but know it, and had hearts for it. But the misery of man is great upon him; for man knoweth not his time. The wise man tells us, Ecclesiastes 8:6,7. that “To every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be.” And again, 9:12. “Man knoweth not his time.” If the Spirit of God is now striving with you, it may be it is your time; and it may be your only time. Be wise, therefore, and understand the things which belong to your peace, before they are hid from your eyes. You have not the influences of the Spirit of God in your own power. You cannot have convictions and awakenings when you please. God is sovereign as to the bestowment of them. If you are ready to flatter yourself, that although you neglect now, when you are young, yet you shall be awakened again; that is a vain and groundless presumption. It is a difficult thing for a man who has been going on in a sinful course, to reform. There are a great many difficulties in the way of thorough reformation. If you therefore have reformed, and returned again to your former sin, you will have all those difficulties to overcome again. 4. If you lose your convictions, and return again to a way of allowed sinning, there will be less probability of your salvation, than there was before you had any convictions. Backsliding is a very dangerous and pernicious thing to men’s souls, and is often spoken of as such in God’s word; which was signified in that awful dispensation of God in turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, to be a standing emblem of the danger of looking back after one has set out in a way of religion. The ill to which they are subject, who lose their convictions, is not merely the loss of their convictions. Their convictions are not only a means of no good to them, but they turn to much ill. It would have been better for them that they had never had them. For they are now set more remote from salvation than they were before. For having risen some considerable way towards heaven, and falling back, they sink lower, and farther down towards hell, than ever they were. The way to heaven is now blocked up with greater difficulties than ever it was. Their hearts now are become harder for light, and convictions being once conquered, they evermore are an occasion of a greater hardness of heart than there was before. Yea, there is no one thing whatsoever, which has so great a tendency to it. Man’s heart is hardened by losing convictions, as iron is hardened by being heated and cooled. If you are awakened, and afterwards lose your convictions, it will be a harder thing to awaken you again. If there were only that you are growing older, there would be less probability of your being awakened again; for as persons grow older they grow less and less susceptible of convictions; evil habits grow stronger and more deeply rooted in the heart. You greatly offend God by quenching his Spirit, and returning as a dog to his vomit, and as a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. And there is danger that God will say concerning you, as he did concerning Jerusalem, Ezekiel 24:13. “Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.” If you return again to your wicked course, if you should go to hell at last, you will lament that ever you have had any convictions; you will find your punishment so much the heavier. And if you should be hereafter awakened, and set about striving for salvation, yet you will probably find harder work in it; you do but make work for yourself by your backsliding. You will not only have all to do over again which you have done, and which you must have done, if you had gone on, but there will be new work for repentance. There probably must be greater and more dreadful terrors; and it may be, a much longer time spent in seeking and striving, a more difficult work with your own headstrong corruptions. If you were but sensible of one half of the disadvantages of backsliding, and the many woes and calamities in which it will involve you, you would be careful not to lose your convictions. 5. Consider the encouragement there is in Scripture to persevere in seeking salvation, as in Hosea 6:3. “Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord.” Thence we may gather, that God usually gives success to those who diligently, and constantly, and perseveringly seek conversion. And that you be the better directed in taking care not to lose your convictions, it is convenient that you should be aware of those things which are common occasions of persons losing their convictions, I shall therefore briefly mention some of them. 1. Persons falling into sin is very often the occasion of their losing their convictions. Some temptation prevails, so that they are drawn into some sin. Some lust upon some occasion has been stirred up, and they have been overcome by their sinful appetites, and have provoked God to anger. It may be they have been drawn into some criminal act of sensuality, and so have quenched the Spirit. Or they have got into some quarrel with some persons. Their spirits are disturbed, and heated with malice and revenge, and they have acted sinfully, or have sinfully expressed themselves, and have driven away the Spirit of God. These are the most ready ways to put an end to convictions. 2. Sometimes there happens some diverting occasion; there is some incident which for the present diverts their minds. Their minds are taken off from their business for a short time. They are drawn into company. It may be they see something which revives a desire of worldly enjoyments and entertainments; or they are engaged in some exercise and business, which diverts their minds. And so afterwards they are more careless than they were before. They are not so strict in attending private duties; and carelessness and stupidity by degrees steal upon them, till they wholly lose their convictions. 3. Some change in their circumstances takes off their minds from the concerns of their souls. Their minds are diverted by the new circumstances with which they are attended; or are taken up with new pleasures and enjoyments, or with new cares and business, in which they are involved. It may be they grow richer. They prosper in the world, and their worldly good things crowd in, and take possession of their minds. Or worldly cares are increased upon them, and they have so many things to look after, that their minds are taken up, and they have not time to look after their souls.

    SERMON And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth. and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. (Hosea 2:15.)

    IN the context, the church of Israel is first threatened with the awful desolation which God was about to bring upon her for her dealing so falsely and treacherously with God; because though, in the bold language of the prophet, she had been married to God, she had yet gone after other lovers, and had committed adultery with them. “For she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread, and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.” Therefore God threatened that he would strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst, and that he would discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and destroy her vines and fig-trees, and make them a forest. So the prophet goes on terribly threatening her to the end of the thirteenth verse. And those things were fulfilled in the captivity of Israel in the land of Assyria, But in the verse preceding the text, and in the remainder of the chapter, there follows a gracious promise of mercy, which God would show her in the days of the gospel. “Therefore, behold I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” “I will allure her,” that is, I will court or woo her again, as a young man woos a virgin, whom he desires to make his wife. God, for her committing adultery with other lovers, had threatened that he would give her a bill of divorce, as verse second. “Plead with your mother, plead; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband.” But here in the latter part of the chapter, God promises that in gospel times he would make her his wife again, as in the sixteenth verse. “And it shall be at that day that thou shalt call me Ishi;” that is, “my husband.” And so in verses 19, 20. “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea. I will betroth thee unto me for ever in righteousness, and in judgment, in lovingkindness, and in mercies; I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness.”

    Here in the fourteenth verse, God promises that he will woo her, and in the latter part of the verse, he shows in what manner he will deal with her when he is about to woo or allure her. He would first bring her into the wilderness; that is, he would bring her into trouble and distress, and so humble her, and then allure her by speaking comfortably or pleasantly to her, as a young man does to a maid whom he woos. Then follow the words of the text. 1. We may observe what God would give to the children of Israel; viz, hope and comfort. He promises to give her vineyards which being spiritually interpreted as most of the prophecies of gospel times are to be interpreted, signifies spiritual comforts. Vineyards afford wine, which is comfort to those who are of heavy hearts. Proverbs 31:6. “Give wine to those that are of heavy hearts.” Wine is to make glad the heart of man.

    Psalm 104:15. Gospel rest and peace are sometimes prophesied of, under the metaphor of every man’s sitting under his vine and under his own figtree.

    God promises to give her hope, to open a door of hope for her, and to give her songs; that is, to give her spiritual joy, and both cause and disposition joyfully to sing p raises to God. 2. We may observe after what manner God would bestow those benefits. I.

    They should be given after great trouble and abasement. Before she had this hope and comfort given, she should be brought into great trouble and distress to humble her. He promises to give her her vineyards from thence; that is, from the wilderness spoken of in the foregoing verse, into which it is said that God would bring her, before he spoke comfortably to her. God would bring her into the wilderness, and then give her vineyards. God’s bringing her into the wilderness was to humble her, and fit her to receive vineyards, and to make her see her dependence on God for them, that she might not attribute her enjoyment of them to her idols, as she had done before, for which reason God took them away, as in the twelfth verse. “And I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me; and I will make them a forest.’ There it is threatened that God will turn her vineyards into a forest, or wilderness, Here it is promised that he would turn the wilderness into vineyards, as Isaiah 32:15. “Until the Spirit be poured on us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.” She should first be in a wilderness, where she shall see that she cannot help herself, nor any of her idols help, or give her any vineyards.

    And then God will help her, that she shall see that it is God, and not any of her idols or lovers. God would first bring her into a wilderness, and thence give her vineyards, as God first brought the children of Israel into a dreadful wilderness. So God opened a door of hope to them in the valley of Achor, which is a word that signifies trouble, and was so called from the trouble which the children of Israel suffered by the sin of Achor. So God is wont first to make their sin a great trouble to them, an occasion of a great deal of distress, before he opens a door of hope. God promises to make her sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she carne up out of the land of Egypt. This plainly refers to the joyful song which Moses and the children of Israel sang when they came out of the Red sea. The children of Israel there had great joy and comfort; but just before they had great trouble. They had been m extreme distress by the oppression of their task-masters; and just before this triumph ant song, they were brought to extremity and almost to despair, when Pharaoh and the Egyptians appeared ready to swallow them up. 2. This hope and comfort should be bestowed on the slaying and forsaking of sin. That is the troubler of the soul. It should be given in the valley of Achor, which was the valley where the troubler of Israel was slain, as you may see in Joshua 7:26.; and the place where the children of Israel sang, when they came up out of the land of Egypt. The eastern shore of the Red sea was the place where they saw their enemies and old taskmasters, the types of men’s lusts, which are sinners’ taskmasters, lie dead on the seashore, and of whom they took their final leave. And God had told them, that their enemies whom they had seen that day, they should see no more for ever.

    Doctrine. God is wont to cause hope and comfort to arise in the soul after trouble and humbling for sin, and according as the troubler is slain and forsaken. I would show, I. That it is thus with respect to the first true hope and comfort which is given to the soul at conversion.

    II. That God is wont to bestow hope and comfort on Christians from time to time in this way.

    I. God is wont to cause hope and comfort to arise to the soul in conversion after trouble and humbling for sin, and upon the slaying of the troubler. 1. It is God’s mariner to bestow hope and comfort on a soul in conversion after trouble and humbling for sin. Under this head are three things to be observed. 1. The trouble itself. 2. The cause, viz, sin. 3. The humbling. 1. Souls are wont to be brought into trouble before God bestows true hope and comfort. The corrupt hearts of men naturally incline to stupidity and senselessness before God comes with the awakening influences of his Spirit. They are quiet and secure; they have no true comfort and hope, and yet they are quiet; they are at ease. They are in miserable slavery, and yet seek not a remedy. They say, as the children of Israel did in Egypt to Moses, “let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians.” But if God has a design of mercy to them, it is n is manner before he bestows true hope and comfort on them, to bring them into trouble, to distress them, and spoil their ease and false quietness, and to rouse them out of their old resting and sleeping places, and to bring them into a wilderness. They are brought into trouble, and sometimes into exceedingly great trouble and distress, so that they can take no comfort in those things in which they used to take comfort. Their hearts are pinched and stung, and they can find no ease in any thing. They have, as it were, an arrow sticking fast in them, which causes grievous and continual pain, an arrow which they cannot shake off, or pull our. The pain and anguish of it drinks up their spirit. Their worldly enjoyments were a sufficient good before; but they are not now. They wander about with wounded hearts, seeking rest, and finding none; like one wandering in a dry and p arched wilderness under the burning, scorching heat of the sun, seeking for some shadow where he may sit down and rest, but finding none. Wherever he goes the beams of the sun scorch him: or he seeks some fountain of cool water to quench his thirst, but finds not a drop. He is like David in his trouble, who wandered about in the wilderness, Saul pursuing him wherever he went, driving and hunting him from one wilderness to another, from one mountain to another, and from one cave to another, giving him no rest. To such sinners, all things look dark, and they know not what to do, nor whither to turn. If they look forward or backward, to the right hand or the left, all is gloom and perplexity. If they look to heaven, behold darkness; if they ok to the earth, behold trouble, and darkness, and dimness of anguish. Sometimes they hope for relief, but they are disappointed, and so again and again they travail in pain, and a dreadful sound is in their ears. They are terrified and affrighted, and they seek refuge, as a poor creature pursued by an enemy, He flies to one refuge and there is beset, and that fails; then he flies to another, and then is driven out of that, And his enemies grow thicker and thicker about, encompassing him on every side. They are like those of whom we read in Isaiah 24:17,18. Fear, and the pit, and the snare are upon them, and when they flee from the noise of the fear they are taken in the pit; and if they come up out of the pit, they are taken in the snare. So that they know not what to do, They are like the children of Israel, while Achor troubled them. They go forth against their enemies, and they are smitten down and flee before them. They call on God, but he does not answer, nor seem to regard them. Sometimes they find something in which they take pleasure for a little time, but it soon vanishes away, and leaves them in greater distress than before. And sometimes they are brought to the very borders of despair. Thus they are brought into the wilderness, and into the valley of Achor, or of trouble. 2. Sin is the trouble or the cause of this trouble. Sin is the disease of the soul, and such a disease as will, if the soul is not benumbed, cause exceeding pain. Sin brings guilt, and that brings condemnation and wrath.

    All this trouble arises from conviction of sin. Awakened sinners are convinced that they are sinful, Before the sinner thought well of himself, or was not convinced that he was very sinful. But now he is led to reflect first on what he has done, how wickedly he has spent his time, what wicked acts or practices he has been guilty of. And afterwards in the progress of his awakenings he is made sensible of something of the sin and plague of his heart. They are made sensible of the guilt and wrath which sin brings.

    The threatenings of God’s law are set home, and they are made sensible that God is angry, and that his wrath is dreadful. They are led to consider of the dreadfulness of that punishment, which God has threatened. The affection or principle, which is wrought upon to cause this trouble, is fear.

    They are afraid of the punishment of sin, and God’s wrath for it. They are commonly afraid of many things here in this world as the fruit of sin. They are afraid that God will not hear their prayers, that he is so angry with them, that he will never give them converting grace. They are afraid oftentimes that they have committed the unpardonable sin, or at least that they have been guilty of such sin as God will never pardon; that their day is past, and that God has given them up to judicial hardness of heart and blindness of mind. Or if they are not already, they are afraid they shall be.

    They are afraid oftentimes, that the Spirit of God is not striving with them now, that their fears are from some other cause. Sometimes they are afraid that it is only the devil, who terrifies and afflicts them; and that if the Spirit of God is striving with them, he will be taken from them, and they shall be left in a Christless state. They are afraid that if they seek salvation, it will be to no purpose, and that they shall only make their case worse and worse; that they are farther and farther from any thing which is good, and that there is less probability now of their being converted, than when they began to seek. Sometimes they fear, that they have but a short time to live, and that God will soon cast them to hell; that none ever were as they are, who ever found mercy; that their case is peculiar, and that all wherein they differ from others is for the worse. They have fears on every side.

    Oftentimes they are afraid of every thing. Every thing looks dark, and they are afraid that every thing will prove ruinous to them. But in the issue of all they are afraid they shall perish for ever. They are afraid that when they die they shall go down to hell, and there have their portion appointed them in everlasting burnings. This is the sum of all their fears. And the cause of this fear is a consciousness of the guilt of sin. It is sin, which is the cruel taskmaster, which oppresses them, and chastises them; and sin is the cruel Pharaoh, which pursues them. As the children of Israel, before they came to sing with joy after they came out of the land of Egypt, were under great trouble from their task-masters, and sighed by reason of the hard bondage, and then were pursued, and put into dreadful fear’ at the Red sea. It was their taskmasters who made them all this trouble. So it is sin which makes all the trouble which a sinner suffers under awakenings. Their trouble for sin is no gracious, godly sorrow for sin; for that does not arise merely from fear, but from love, It is not an evangelical, but legal, repentance of which we are speaking, which is not from love to God, but only self love. 3. The end of this trouble in those to whom God designs mercy is to hunrble them. God leads them into the wilderness before he speaks comfortably to them, for the same carrse that he led the children of Israel into the wilderness before he brought them into Canaan, which we are told was to humble them. Deuteronomy 8:2. “And thou shalt remember all the way, which the Lord thy God led thee these forty year’s in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart.”

    Man naturally trusts in himself, and magnifies himself. And for man to enjoy only ease and prosperity and quietness tends to nourish and establish such a disposition. Deuteronomy 32:15. “Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked.”

    But by trouble and distress, and by a sense of a heavy load of guilt, God brings men down into the dust. God brings souls thus into the wilderness to show them their own helplessness, to let them see that they have nothing to which they can turn for help, to make them sensible that they are not rich and increased with goods, but wretched, miserable, poor’, blind, and naked; to show them that they are utterly undone and ruined, to make them sensible of their exceeding wickedness, and to bring them to be sensible how justly God might cast them off for’ ever. Those legal troubles tend to show then their utter inability to help themselves, as their fears put them on using their utmost endeavours, and trying their utmost strength; and by continuing in that way their experience teaches them their weakness, and they find they can do nothing. It puts them upon repeated trials, and they have as repeated disappointments. But repeated disappointments tend to bring a man to give up the case, and to despair of help in that way in which he has tried for it. It tends to make men sensible of the utter insufficiency of their wisdom, and bring them to see their own exceeding blindness and ignorance. For fear, and concern, and distress, necessarily put a person on intensely thinking, and studying, and contriving for relief, But when men have been thus trying their own wisdom and invention to their utmost; and find it fails, and signifies nothing, and is altogether to no purpose, it makes them more and more sensible of their weakness and blindness, and brings them to confess themselves fools, and blind, as to those things which concern their relief. They are like one who is placed in the midst of a vast hideous wilderness. At first it may be he may not be sensible but that he knows the way home, and can directly go in the way which leads out of the wilderness. But after he has tried and has travelled awhile, and finds that he cannot find the way, and that he spends himself in vain, and only goes round and round, and comes to the same place again at last, he is brought to confess that he knows not where to go, nor what to do, and that he is sensible that Ire is like one who is perfectly lost, and altogether in darkness, and is brought at last to yield the case and stand still, and do nothing but call for help, that if possible any one may hear, and lead him in the wilderness, For this end God leads men into the wilderness before he speaks comfortably to them. The troubles which they have for sin tend to bring them to be sensible how justly God may cast them off for ever; and this brings them to reflect on their sins; for’ these are the things of which they are afraid. When a man is terribly afraid of things with which he is surrounded, this engages his eyes to behold; he looks intensely on them, and sees more and more how frightful and terrible they are. When they are in fear, they take much more notice of their sins than at other times. They think more how wickedly they have lived, and observe more the corrupt and wicked working of their own hearts, and so are more and more sensible what vile creatures they are. This makes them more and more sensible how angry God is, and how terrible his anger is. They try to appease and to reconcile God by their own righteousness, but it fails. God still appears as an angry God, refusing to hear their prayers, or appear for their help, till they despair in their own righteousness, and yield the case; and by more and more of a sight of themselves are brought to confess that they lie justly exposed to damnation, and have nothing by which to defend themselves. God appears more and more as a terrible being to them, till they have done with any imaginations, that they have any thing sufficient to recommend them, or reconcile them to such a God. Thus God is wont first to bring the soul into trouble by reason of sin, and so to humble the soul, before he gives true hope and comfort in conversion. 2. This hope and comfort are given upon the slaying of the troubler.

    Whatever troubles there are for’ sin, yet if the troubler is not slain, it cannot be expected but that there will be trouble still. Before there will be no true comfort. The soul may return to stupidity and carelessness, and may receive a false peace and hope, and sin be kept alive; hut no true hope.

    Persons may be exceedingly troubled for sin, and yet sin be saved alive.

    Persons may seem to lament they have done thus and thus, and weep many tears, and cry out of their sinfulness and wickedness, and yet the life of sin be whole in them. But if so, they never shall receive true comfort. They may refrain from sin; there may be a great reformation, and exact life for a time; or there may be a total reformation of some particular ways of sin, and yet no true hope; because sin is only it is not slain. Many men are brought to restrain sin, and to give it slight wounds, who cannot be brought to kill it. Wicked men are loth to kill sin. They have been very good friends to it ever since they have been in the world, and have always treated it as one of their most familiar and best friends. They have allowed it the best room in their hearts, and have given it the best entertainment they could, and they are very loth to destroy it. But until this be done, God never will give them true comfort. If ever men come to have a true hope, they must do as the children of Israel did by Achan. Joshua 7:24,25,26. “And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan, the son of Zerah, and the silver and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us The Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger.

    Wherefore the name of that place was called the valley of Achor unto this day.” So if ever men come to have any true hope, they must take sin which is the troubler, and all which belongs to it, even that which seems most dear and precious, though it be as choice as Achan’s silver and wedge of gold, and utterly destroy them, and burn them with fire, to be sure to make a thorough end of them, as it were, bury them and raise over them a great heap of stones, to lay a great weight upon them, to make sure of it that they shall never rise more. Yea, and thus they must serve all his sons and daughters. They must not save some of the accursed brood alive. All the fruits of sin -must be forsaken. There must not be some particular lust, some dear sinful enjoyment, some pleasant child of sin, spared; but all must he stoned and burned. If we do thus, we may expect to have trouble cease, and light to arise, as it was in the camp of Israel after slaying the troubler’.

    Inquiry. Here it may be inquired, What is implied in slayings at conversion?

    And it implies these several things 1. There must he a conviction of the evil of it as against God. All is carried on by conviction. Those legal troubles which are before conversion, arise from some conviction of the being of sin, and the guilt and danger of it.

    And the slaying of sin is by conviction of its evil and hateful nature. To slay the troubler, we must find him out, as the children of Israel did before they slew Achan. They rose early in the morning, and searched, and brought all Israel by their tribes; and then searched the tribe, which was taken by families, and the family by particular persons, and so found him. 2. It is to have the heart turned from, and turned against, it in hatred. The troubler is never slain, but by a thorough and saving change of heart and renovation of nature, so that that which before loved sin and chose it, may now hate and abhor in, and may disrelish it, and all its ways, and especially hate their former ways of sin. 3. Forsaking and renouncing it. Let men pretend what they may their hearts are not turned from sin, if they do not forsake it. He is not converted, who is not really come to a disposition utterly to forsake all ways of sin. If ever sinners have true hope and comfort, they must take a final leave of sin, as the children of Israel did of the Egyptians at the Red sea. Persons may have a great deal of trouble from sin, and many conflicts and struggles with it, and seem to forsake it for’ a time, and yet not forsake it finally; as the children of Israel had with the Egyptians. They had a long struggle with them before they were freed from them. How many judgments did God bring upon the Egyptians, before they would let them go? And sometimes Pharaoh seemed as if he would let them go; but yet when it came to the proof he refused. And when they departed from Rameses doubtless they thought then they had got rid of them. They did not expect to see them any more. But when they arrived at the Red sea, and looked behind them they saw them pursuing them. They found it a difficult thing wholly to get rid of them. But when they were drowned in the Red sea, then they took an everlasting leave of them. The king and all the chiefs of them were dead; and therefore God said to them, Exodus 14:13. “The Egyptians, whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” So sinners must not only part with sin for a little time, but they must forsake it for ever, and be willing never to see or have any thing to do with their old sinful ways and enjoyments. They must forsake that which is their iniquity, the sin which most easily besets them, and to which by their constitution or custom they have been most addicted, which has been, as it were, the dearest of all, and most respected, as a king among the army of sins; though that must be slain too, as Pharaoh, the king of the Egyptians, was in the Red sea. And we must not do as Saul did, when God sent him to kill the Amalekites; but he saved the king of the Amalekites alive, which cost him his kingdom. 4. It implies embracing Christ, and trusting in him as the Saviour from sin.

    We must look to him not only as a Saviour from the punishment of sin, but we must receive and embrace him as a Saviour from sin itself. We cannot deliver ourselves from sin. We cannot slay this enemy of ourselves, He is too strong an enemy for us. We can no more slay sin ourselves, than the children of lsrael, who were themselves a poor feeble company, a mixed multitude, unprepared to resist such a force, could themselves slay Pharaoh, and all his mighty army with chariots and horsemen. It was Christ in the pillar of cloud and fire, who fought for them. They had nothing to do but trust in him. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:4) They could never have drowned the Egyptians in the sea. It was Christ who did it; for the pillar of cloud stood between thern and the Israelites, and when they were up out of the sea, then Christ brought on them the waters of the sea. Our enemies must be drowned in the all-sufficient fountain, and, as it were, sea of Christ’s blood, as the Egyptians were in the Red sea, and then we may sing, as the children of Israel did in the day, when they came up out of the land of Egypt. When sin is thus slain, then God is wont to open a door of hope, a door through which there flashes a sweet light out of heaven upon the soul. Then comfort arises, and then is there a new song in the mouth, even praise unto God.

    II. God is wont to bestow hope and comfort from time to time in the same manner on Christians.

    In the consideration of this matter I would show, 1. That Christians are frequently in darkness, and their hope is often greatly obscured. 2. That it is sin which is the occasion of this darkness. 3. Their darkness is not perpetual, but God is wont to cause hope and comfort to arise again. 4. Their trouble is commonly much increased a little before the renewal of light and hope. 5. That hope and comfort are renewed to them on the slaving of the troubler.

    It is often the case that Christians are under darkness, and their hope is greatly clouded. God is wont to give his saints hope and comfort at their first conversion, which sometimes remains without any great interruption for a considerable time. And some Christians live abundantly more in the light than others. Some for many years together have but little darkness.

    God is pleased to distinguish them from their neighbours. He mercifully keeps them from those occasions of darkness, into which he suffers others to fall, and gives them of the light of his countenance. God exercises his sovereignty in this matter, as he does in giving convening grace: as he bestows that on whom he pleases, so he bestows on some of those who are converted more light, on others less, according as it pleases him. But many Christians meet with a great deal of darkness, and see times in which their hopes are much clouded. Sometimes the sweet and comfortable influences of God’s Spirit are withdrawn. They were wont to have spiritual discoveries made of God and Christ to their souls, but now they have none.

    Their minds seem to be darkened, and they cannot see spiritual things, as they have done in times past. Formerly, when they read the Scriptures, they used often to have light come in, and they seemed to have an understanding and relish for what they read, and were filled with comfort.

    But now when they read, it is all a dead letter, and they have no taste for it, and are obliged to force themselves to read; they seem to have no pleasure in it, but it is a mere task and burden. Formerly they used to have passages of Scripture come to their minds, when they were not reading, which brought much light and sweetness with them. But now they have none.

    Formerly they used to feel the sweet exercises of grace. They could trust in God, and could find a spirit of resignation to his will, and had love drawn forth, and sweet longings after God and Christ, and a sweet complacence in God; but now they are dull and dead. Formerly they used to meet with God in the ordinances of his house: it was sweet to sit and hear the word preached, and it seemed to bring light’ and life with it; they used to feel life and sweetness in public prayers, and their hearts were elevated in singing God’s praises. But now it is otherwise. Formerly they used to delight in the duty of prayer: the time which they spent in their closet between God and their own souls was sweet to them. But now when they go thither, they do not meet God; and they take no delight in drawing near to God in their closets, When they do p ray, it seems to be a mere lifeless, heartless performance. They utter such and such words, but they seem to be nothing but words; their hearts are not engaged. Their minds are continually wandering and going to and fro, after one vanity and another. With this decay of the exercise of grace their hope greatly decays and the evidences of their piety are exceedingly clouded, When they look into their hearts, it seems to them that they can see nothing there, from which they should hope; and when they consider after what manner they live, it seems to them to argue, that they have no grace. They have but little of any thing which is new, to furnish comfortable evidence to them of their good estate; and as to their old evidences, they are greatly darkened. Their former experience, in which they took great comfort, looks dim, and a great way off, and out of sight to them. They have almost forgotten it, and have no pleasure in thinking or speaking of it. And sometimes true Christians are brought into terrible distress. They are not only deprived of their former comforts, and have their former hopes obscured, but they have inward distressing darkness. God does not only hide his face, but they have a sense of his anger. He seems to frown upon them. So it appears to have been with David. Psalm 42:7. “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts; all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.’ So with Heman. Psalm 88:6,7. “Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps. Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves.” 2. It is sin which is the occasion of this trouble and darkness. Whenever the godly meet with such darkness, there is some Achan in their souls which is the occasion of all this; and this is sin, This is the occasion of the darkness of the godly, as well as the troubles which natural men have under awakenings. It is not for want of love in God towards his saints, or readiness to grant comfort to them; neither is God’s hand shortened, that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy, that he cannot hear, It is their sin which hides God’s face from them. Isaiah 59:1,2. Sin is the occasion of this darkness of the saints, in these three ways. 1. Sometimes it is owing to the weakness and small degree of grace infused in conversion, and the strength of remaining corruption. The work of God is the same in all who are converted, so far that their sin is mortified, and that which reigned before does not reign now. The heart is changed from darkness to light, and from death to life, and turned from sin to God. And yet the work is very different with respect to the decree of mortification of sin, and the degree of grace which is infused. Some have more spiritual light given in their first conversion than others; have greater discoveries, and are brought at once to a much greater acquaintance with God, and have their hearts more humbled, and more weaned from sin and the world, and more filled with the love of God and Christ, and are brought nearer to heaven than others. Some at first conversion have a much more eminent work of grace in their hearts than others. Some have emphatically but little grace infused, and consequently their corruptions are left in much greater strength when it is so, it is no wonder that such have a weaker hope, and less light and comfort, than others. The natural tendency of indwelling sin in the saints, is to cloud and darken the mind; and therefore, the more of it remains, the more will it have this effect. Persons can know their own good estate in no other way than by seeking, or perceiving grace in their hearts.

    But certainly the less of it there is, with the more difficulty will it be seen or felt. As indwelling sin prevails, so does it the more obscure and cloud grace, as a great smoke clouds and hides a spark. And therefore the more there is of this indwelling sin, the more will grace be hid. The greater the strength in which corruption is left, the more rare will be the good frames which the godly have, and the more frequent and of longer continuance will be their times of darkness. It may be, the darkness with which the saints meet, is from some particular corruption, which has always hitherto been in too great prevalence and strength, and has never yet been mortified to such a degree, but that it continues a great troubler in the sour!. Grace being weak, the sin of the constitution takes advantage, whether that be a proud and haughty temper, or a covetous spirit, or an addictedness to some sensuality, or a peevish, fretful, discontented spirit, or ill temper, or a quarrelsome spirit, or disposition to high resentment. Or whether there be any other corrupt disposition, which is the sin to which they are chiefly exposed by natural temper, or by their education and former custom. If the grace which is infused at conversion, be comparatively weak, this constitutional sin will take the advantage, and will dreadfully cloud the mind, and hinder spiritual comfort, and bring trouble and darkness. There is a great variety in the work of grace upon men’s hearts, as to the particular discoveries which are then given, and the particular graces which are in chief exercise; whereby it comes to pass, than some in their conversion are more assisted against one corruption and others against another. Some in their conversion, as well as in the manner of their experience from time to time, have more of the exercise of one grace, and others more sensible exercises of another. And whatever that grace be of which they have the most lively exercises, they are thereby most assisted against that particular corruption which is its opposite. Hence some particular corruptions may be left in much greater prevalence than others, and so be a greater occasion of darkness. Thus some, in the particular experiences which they have, may not be so especially assisted against pride as others, whereby their pride may take occasion to work. And when they have had spiritual discoveries and comfort, they may be lifted up with them. And this may be an occasion of displeasing and grieving his Holy Spirit, and so of their having a great deal of darkness. They may not have seen so much of their own emptiness as some others, and so their corruption may work much more by selfconfidence than others; and no wonder that self-confident persons meet with darkness. No wonder that when men trust in themselves for light and grace, that their confidence fails, and they go without that for which they trusted in themselves. 2. Sometimes the saints are in great darkness on occasion of some gross transgression into which they have fallen. So it was with David, when he fell into gross sin in the matter of Uriah. He exceedingly quenched the influences of the Spirit of God by it, and God withdrew those influences from him, and the comforts which they had imparted; as appears by his earnestly praying for their restoration. Psalm 51:12. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit.” When Christians fall into gross transgression, it is commonly the fact that an exceedingly deep darkness follows. 3. When they do not fall into any particular gross and scandalous transgression, yet they sometimes exceedingly darken their minds by corrupt frames and evil habits, into which they fall. There is much remaining corruption in the hearts of Christians, and oftentimes they get into very ill frames. Some particular corruptions grow very prevalent.

    Sometimes they grow proud and conceited of themselves, either on account of their own godliness, and the good opinion others have of them, or our some other account. Sometimes they fall into a worldly frame, and spiritual things grow more tasteless to them, and their hearts are desperately bent on the acquisition of worldly good. Sometimes their minds grow light and vain, and their affections are wholly fixed on the vanities of youth, on dress, and gaiety, and fashion. Some, because their minds are not occupied as once they were, with spiritual enjoyments and delights, sweetly meditating on heavenly things, breathing and longing after them, and earnestly seeking them, become the slaves of their sensual appetites. Others grow contentious and quarrelsome, are often angry with those around them, and cherish habitual rancour against them in their hearts. They become wilful and obstinate, and stir up strife, and oppose others with vehemence; determining at all hazards to carry their own measures, and delighting to have those who oppose them defeated and humbled. It hurts them to have others prosper. Their minds and hearts are full of turmoil, and heat, and vehemence against one and another. Others fall into a discontented, fretful and impatient frame at the disposals of Providence, And oftentimes many of these things go together. And as these persons sink into such unhappy frames in their hearts, so they pursue very sinful courses of conduct. They behave themselves unsuitably, so as to dishonour God, and greatly to wound religion. They do not appear to others to savour of a good spirit. They fall into the practice of allowing themselves too great liberties in indulging their sensual appetites, in the gratification of covetousness and pride, in strife, backbiting, and a violent pursuit after the world. They slide into those corrupt frames and evil ways commonly by means of their first giving way to a slothful spirit, They are not so diligent and earnest in religion as they once were; but indulge their slothful disposition. and discontinue their watch, and so lie open to temptation.

    Thus ill frames imperceptibly creep upon them, and they insensibly more and more fall into sinful practices. So it was with David. Their sin, into which they fall in consequence of this degenerate and sinful state of the affections and the life, is the occasion of a great deal of darkness. God withdraws his Spirit from them, their light goes out, and the evidences of their piety grow dim and obscure. They seem to be in a great measure as they were before they were converted, and they have no sensible communion with God. Thus sin is the occasion of trouble and darkness to the Christian. 4. When it is thus with Christians, their trouble is commonly greatly increased a little before the renewal of hope and comfort. When sin prevails, as has been said, in the hearts of Christians, they are not wont to be easy and quiet like secure sinners, There is commonly more or less of an inward struggling and uneasiness. Grace in the heart, though it be dreadfully oppressed, and, as it were, overwhelmed, yet will be resisting its enemy and struggling for liberty. So that it is not with Christians in their ill frames, and under the prevalence of corruption, altogether as it is with carnal, wicked men, who are secure. And there is this good reason for it, that the former have a principle of spiritual life in their souls, which the latter have not. Yet Christians in their ill frames may fall into a great deal of security and senselessness; for sin is of a stupefying nature, and wherever it prevails, will have more or less of that effect. When they fall into a sinful, worldly, proud, or contentious frame, they are wont to have a great degree of senselessness and stupidity with it. And especially when they fall into gross sins, has it a tendency greatly to stupify the soul. It obviously had this effect on David. He seems to have been strangely stupified, when Nathan came to him with the parable of the rich man, who injuriously took the poor man’s ewe lamb from him. He was enraged with the man in the parable, but did not seem to reflect on himself, or think how parallel his case was with his. And while they are thus senseless, their trouble is not so great; and if they feel the weight of sin it is not so burdensome to them.

    But God is wont, before he renews comfort and hope to them, to bring them into greater trouble. As a sinner before his first comfort in his conversion is brought into trouble, so it is wont to be with the saints after their backslidings and decays, before renewed hope and comfort is granted.

    There is a work of awakening wrought upon them. While they remain in their corrupt frames, they are, as it were, asleep. They are like the ten foolish virgins who slumbered and slept; and as persons who are asleep, they are unconscious, not sensible where they are, nor what are their circumstances. Therefore when God is coming and returning to them by his Spirit, commonly his first work upon them is a work of awakening, to wake them out of sleep, and rouse them to some sensibility, to make them sensible of the great folly of their ways, and how they have displeased and offended God, and what mischief they have done. Thus God leads them into the wilderness, and brings them into the valley of Achor or trouble.

    Then they are in greater trouble than they were before, and have more sensible darkness, and more distress abundantly. But yet it is really much better with them now, than before they began to come to themselves. Their circumstances are much more eligible and more hopeful, though sometimes they are in distress almost insupportable. And a little before God renews light and comfort, they have a very great sense of God’s anger, and his wrath lies heavy upon them. So it seems to have been with David a little before t e restoration of spiritual comfort to him, which made him speak of the bones which God had broken, when he was praying for the renewal of comfort. Psalm 51:8. “Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” And probably he has respect to the same thing in Psalm 38:which he calls his psalm to bring to remembrance.

    Ver. 2, 3, 4. “Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.

    There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones, because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” And often when God is about to bring them to themselves, and to restore comfort to them, he first brings them into some very great and sore temporal calamity and trouble, and awakens them by that, and in this first brings them into the wilderness before he speaks comfortably to them. Job 33:16, etc. “Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain; so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones, that were not seen, stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; be shall return to the days oh’ his youth. He shall pray unto God, and he shall be favourable unto him, and he shall see his face with joy; for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.” Thus those who are very weak in grace sometimes meet with great and sore ‘trouble, both of body and mind, which is an occasion of a new work, as it were, of grace upon their hearts; so that they are more eminent saints afterwards, and have much more comfort. 3. When the saints are in darkness, their darkness is not perpetual, but God will restore hope and comfort to them again. When one of Christ’s sheep wanders away, and gets into the wilderness, Christ the good Shepherd will not leave him in the wilderness, but will seek him, and will lay him on his shoulders, and bring him home again. We cannot tell how long God may leave his saints in the dark, but yet surely their darkness shall not last for ever; for light is sown to the righteous, and gladness to the upright in heart.

    Psalm 97:11. God, in the covenant of grace in which they have an interest, has promised them joy and comfort; he has promised them everlasting joy.

    Isaiah 61:7. Satan may be suffered for a time to bring them into darkness, but they shall be brought out again. God may be provoked to hide his face from them for a time; and if it seems long, yet it is indeed but a little time.

    Isaiah 54:7,8. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment: but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” Psalm 30:5. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” 5. Hope and comfort are renewed to them on the slaying of the troubler.

    All sin is truly mortified in conversion, or has its death-wounds then. And all the exercises of it afterwards are, in some respects, as the efforts and strugglings of a dying enemy. But yet all life is not actually extinct, and therefore it needs to be further mortified, to receive more deadly wounds.

    Sin is slain in the godly after trouble and darkness, and before the renewing of comfort, in these three ways. 1. It is slain as to former degrees of it. All remains of corruption are not extirpated. Sin does not cease to be in the heart; but it ceases to be any more in such strength as it has been; it ceases to have that prevalence. 2. It is slain as to former ways of exercise. The former ways of sin are forsaken. They are further afterwards from such ways of sin than ever before. The heart is fortified against them. Thus if a godly man has been in a way of contention and strife, when he comes to himself again, he slays his contention; he kills sin as to that way of exercising it. Or if it be some way of sensuality, when he comes to himself, he will slay his sensuality, and cast it out from him. 3. It is totally and perfectly slain in his will and inclination.

    There is that renewed opposition made against it, which implies a mortal inclination and design against it. What the saint seeks when he comes to himself after a time of great declension, is to be the death of sin, which has been so prevalent in him, and perfectly to extirpate it. He acts in what he does as a mortal enemy; and if he does not perfectly destroy it at one blow, it is not for want of inclination, but for want of strength. The godly man does not deal mercifully and tenderly with sin, but as far as in him lies, he deals with it as the children of Israel dealt with Achan, as it were, stones it with stones, and burns it with fire with all which belongs to it. They do not at all spare it, as wicked men do; they aim at the very life, and nothing short of it. The saints’ slaying the troubler after great backslidings and ill frames, implies the following things. 1. There is a conviction of the evil of their sin. They are brought to consideration. They think on their ways before they turn their feet. Psalm 99:59. They consider how they have behaved themselves, how unworthily, how unfaithful they have been to their profession, how ungratefully and disagreeably to the mercies they have received. They consider how they have provoked God, and have deserved his wrath. They find the troubler led them to see a great deal more of the sinfulness and corruption of their hearts commonly than before. In this respect the work of God with saints after great declinings is agreeable to his work in the heart of a natural man in order to his conversion. 2. There is a gracious humiliation of soul before God for it. The gracious soul, when convinced of sin after great declensions, and recovered out of them, is deeply humbled; for it is brought to the dust before God. There is an evangelical repentance; the heart is broken for sin. That sacrifice is offered to God, which David offered rather than burnt-offerings after his great fall. Psalm Ii. 16, 17. “For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou dehightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

    They are brought as Job was, after he had sinned, in complaming of God’s dealings with him, to abhor themselves. Job 42:6. And they are in a meeker frame, as the christian Corinthians were, after they had greatly gone out of the way, and had been reproved by the apostle Paul. 2 Corinthians 7:11. “For behold the selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what vehement desire, yea what zeal, yea what revenge.” They were filled with sorrow, and with a kind of indignation, zeal, and spirit of revenge against themselves for their folly, and so ungratefully treating God. When Christians are convinced of their sin after remarkable miscarriages and ill frames, they are commonly convinced of’ many of the same things of which they were convinced under their first humiliation, but to a greater degree than ever before they are brought to a new conviction, and a greater conviction than ever before, of their own emptiness, and to be sensible what poor, feeble, helpless creatures, and what sinful, vile, utterly unworthy creatures, they are; how undeserving they are of any mercy, and how much they deserve God’s wrath. And this conviction works by a gracious humbling of the soul. The grace of humility is greatly increased by it, and very commonly they are more poor in spirit and lowly of heart during all their future life. They see more what cause there is for them to lay their hands on their mouths, and to walk humbly with God, and lie low before him. 3. There is a renewed application to Christ as a Saviour from sin. There is a renewed act of reliance on him for justification, of faith in his blood to cleanse them, and of trust in his righteousness to cover their nakedness and filthiness. And Christ as a Saviour becomes more precious to them. As they have a greater sense of their own emptiness and vileness, so they have a more entire dependence on Christ’s fulness. 4. The heart is farther’ separated from those ways of sin, and more confirmed against them, than ever. After it they commonly have a greater dread of it, and greater’ abhorrence, look upon it more as an enemy, and remember what they have suffered from it; and their hearts are more confirmed against it than ever. They have stronger resolutions to all which savours of the like, and all which might lead to it. Therefore this is mentioned among the effects of the repentance of the Corinthians after their going astray. “What carefulness it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what fear, yea what earnest desire.” There was a more than ordinary fear and dread of the like sin for the future, and more carefulness to shun it, and a more earnest desire of the contrary. The work of God in the heart of a saint after declension oftentimes, in many respects, resembles the work of God in a sinner at his conversion; though it is not in all respects like it, because of the great difference in the subject. When the troubler comes to be thus slain after times of trouble and darkness in the godly, then God is wont to open a door of hope. The darkness which has covered them which was greatest a little before, is now scattered, and light arises. It may be before there had been a long night of clouds and darkness.

    But now the clouds begin to scatter, and the sweet refreshing beams begin to break forth, and come down into the heart. The soul, which has been wounded, is now healed. God pours in the oil of comfort. The renewed sense, which is given, of Christ’s fulness and sufficiency, gives new life and hope and joy. The troubler being slain, God now grants renewed discoveries of his glory, and renewed manifestations of his grace; and the soul, which was before in darkness, is now entertained with sweet views.

    And now that hope, which was so weakened, and was almost ready to fail, is revived, and greatly confirmed. Now the soul is enabled to take comfort in the promises. Now the saint sees evidences of his own good estate by the renewed manifestations which God makes of himself, and renewed exercises of grace. Before the soul was greatly exercised with doubts and fears and dark clouds; and much time was spent in reviewing past experiences, and looking over and examining those things which were formerly regarded as evidences of piety; and all in vain. They pored on past experiences, but to no satisfaction. And the reason was, the troubler was not slain, but still remained alive. But now God gives them new light, and new experiences, which in a few moments do more towards scattering their clouds, and removing their fears, than all their poring on past experiences could do for months, and probably for years. Before their hearts seemed in a great measure dead as to spiritual exercises. But now there is, as it were, new life. Now when they read the Scripture, and when they hear the word preached, it is with a savour and relish of it. Now they can find God in his word and ordinances. Now Christ comes to them, and manifests himself to them, and they are admitted again to communion with God. When Christians have comfort and hope thus renewed, their comforts are commonly purer than ever. Their joys are more humble joys, freer from any mixture and taint of self-righteousness, than before.

    Having thus shown that God is wont to cause hope and comfort to arise to the soul after trouble and humbling for sin, and upon slaving the troubler, both at first conversion and afterwards, after sad declinings, I would now give the reasons of the doctrine. 1. I would show why God is wont to give comfort after trouble and humbling for sin; or why he is wont to bring the soul into the wilderness before he speaks comfortably to it, and leads it into the valley of Achor, before he opens a door of hope. 1. It is that the soul may be prepared for a confiding application of itself to Christ for comfort. It is the will of God that men should have true hope and comfort conferred upon them in no other way, than by Jesus Christ. It is only by him that sinners have comfort at their conversion; and it is by him only that the saints have renewed hope and comfort after their declensions.

    And therefore the way to obtain this comfort is to look to him, to fly for refuge to him. And in order to this, persons have need to be brought to a sense of their necessity of him. And that they may be so, it is needful that they should be sensible of their calamity and misery, that they should be in trouble, and be brought to see their utter helplessness in themselves, And not only natural men, but Christians also, who are fallen into sin, and are in a dead and senseless frame, need something to make them more sensible of their necessity of Christ. Indeed the best are not so sensible of their need of Christ but that they need to be made more sensible; but especially those who are in ill and dead frames, and a declining state, need trouble and humbling to make them sensible of their need of Christ, and to prepare their minds for a renewed confiding application to Christ as their only remedy. The godly in such a case are sick with a sore disease, and Christ is the only Physician who can heal them; and they need to be sensible of their disease, that they may see their need of a physician. They, as well as natural men, need to be in a storm and tempest to make them sensible of their need to fly to him who is a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. A Christian, who wanders away from God, is like Noah’s dove, which flew from the ark. She flew about till weary and spent, seeking rest somewhere else, but found no rest for the sole of her foot, and then she returned to the ark. So it is needful that the soul of a godly man, who wanders from Christ, should become weary, and find no rest for the sole of his foot, that so he may see his need of returning to Christ. Therefore it is said concerning the children of Israel in Hosea 2:6. “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths.” And in our context, “She shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them.

    Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now.” When gracious souls wander from Christ, their husband, following after other lovers, God is wont to bring them into trouble and distress, and make them see, that their other lovers cannot help them, that so they may see, that it is best for them to return to their first husband. 2. Another end of God in it is, that comfort and hope may be the more prized when obtained. We see in temp oral things, that the worth and value of any enjoyment is learned by the want of it. He who is sick, knows the worth of health. He who is in pain, knows how to prize ease. He who is in a storm at sea, knows how to prize safety on shore. And people who are subject to the grievances of war, know how to value peace. He who endures the hardships of captivity and slavery, is thereby taught how to value liberty. And so it is in spiritual things. He who is brought to see his misery in being without hope, is prepared to prize hope when obtained. He who is brought into distress through fear of hell and God’s wrath, is the more prepared to prize the comfort which arises from the manifestation of the favour of God, and a sense of safety from hell. He who is brought to see his utter emptiness and extreme poverty and necessity, and his perishing condition on that account, is thoroughly prepared to prize and rejoice in the manifestation of a fulness in Christ. And those godly persons who are fallen into corrupt and senseless frames, greatly stand in need of something to make them more sensible of their want of spiritual comfort and hope. Their living as they do shows that they have too little sense of the worth and value of that comfort, and those inestimable spiritual and saving blessings, which God has bestowed upon them; otherwise they never would deal so ungratefully with God, who has bestowed them. If they did not greatly err in slighting spiritual comfort, as the children of Israel did manna, their hearts would never, to such a degree, have gone out after vanity, and earthly enjoyments, and carnal delights. They need to be brought into trouble and darkness to make them sensible of the worth of hope and comfort, and to teach them to prize it. They need to be brought into the wilderness, and left for a time to wander and suffer hunger and thirst in a barren desert, to teach them how to prize their vineyards. A sense of the pardon of sin, and the favour of God, and a hope of eternal life, do not afford comfort and joy to the soul any farther than they are valued and prized. So that the trouble and darkness which go befor’e comfort, serve to render the joy and comfort the greater when obtained, and so are in mercy to those for whom God intends comfort. 3. It is so ordered that divine power and grace may be acknowledged in giving hope and comfort. There is naturally in men an exceeding insensibility of their dependence on God, and a great disposition to ascribe those things which they enjoy to themselves, or to second causes. This disposition reigns in natural men. They are wholly under the power of it.

    Therefore they need to be taught their own helplessness, and utter insufficiency, and utter unworthiness. Otherwise, if hope and comfort should be bestowed upon them, they would surely ascribe all to themselves, or the creature, and so would be lifted up by it, and would not give God the glory. Therefore it is God’s manner first to humble sinners before he comforts them. And all this self-confident disposition is not extirpated out of the hearts of the godly, and especially when they get into ill frames does it prevail, And it is very requisite, that before any remarkable comfort is bestowed upon them, they should be the subjects of renewed humbling, They need renewedly to see what helpless creatures they are, that so, whets light is bestowed, they may be sensible how it is owing to God, and not to themselves, or any other; and that they may, by their troubles and humblings, be prepared the more to admire God’s power and mercy, and free and rich grace to them. While men are continued in fulness in a fruitful land, they will not learn their own helplessness; and therefore God will cast them out of this fulness into a wilderness. This is plainly intimated to be the reason of God’s so dealing with the children of Israel, as is said in the text. The church of Israel, before God thus led her into the wilderness, did not ascribe her comforts to God, as in the eighth verse. “For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold.” But they ascribed them to her idols. Verse fifth. “For she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.” And verse twelfth. “These are my rewards, that my lovers have given me.” For this reason it is that God takes away those things, as in verse ninth. “ Therefore will I return and take away my corn in ihe time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.” And verses 11, 12. “ I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.

    And I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me; and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.” God took them away, and turned her vineyards into a forest, and made her sensible that they were from him; and then he restored them again. For these reasons God is wont to bring souls into trouble, and to humble them for sin before he comforts them. I proceed, 2. To give the reasons why hope and comfort are not obtained till sin, which is the troubler, is slain. 1. While sin is harboured and preserved alive, it tends to provoke God to frown and express his anger. Sin is God’s mortal enemy. It is that which his soul infinitely hates, and to which he is an irreconcilable enemy. And therefore if we harbour this, and suffer it to live in our hearts, and to govern our practice, we can expect no other than that it will provoke God’s frowns. Spiritual comfort consists in the manifestation of God’s favour, and in friendly communion with God. But how can we expect this at the same time that we harbour his mortal enemy? We see what God said to Joshua, while Achan was alive. Joshua 7:12. “Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you.” 2. The natural tendency of sin is to darken the mind, and trouble the conscience. There is nothing which wounds a well-informed conscience but sin. Sin is the enemy of grace, and therefore the natural tendency of it is to oppose and keep down the exercises of grace, and so to extinguish spiritual comfort; for spiritual comfort comes in no other way than by the exercise of grace. That which prevents the exercises of grace darkens the evidences of a man’s good estate. For there are no evidences of this but the exercises of grace. Sin does as much tend to keep out spiritual comfort, as clouds tend to hide the light of the sun. And therefore it is necessary that this should be removed in order to our receiving light and comfort. It is impossible in its own nature that any should have spiritual light and comfort before sin is mortified. If sinners had comfort while sin is in reigning power, it could not be spiritual comfort; for spiritual comfort is the same with gracious comfort. But how can there be gracious comfort where grace has no place? But if there be grace, sin will not be in reigning power; for the nature of grace is to mortify sin. And as there can be no spiritual comfort without a degree of mortification of sits its those in whom sin is mortified, spiritual comfort cannot be any more than in proportion as sin is mortified. 3. A hope of eternal life, if given before the slaying of sin, would be misimproved and abused. If it were possible that a sinner could obtain a title to eternal life before sin was mortified, and so could have his own safety and God’s favour manifested to him, he would only improve it to encourage and imbolden himself in sin. Hope, if they had it then, would have a pernicious influence and tendency. Till sin is slain, they stand in need of fear to restrain sin, If fear were once gone before sin is slain, they would soon run into all manner of wickedness, and without restraint. And so Christians themselves, while they are in corrupt frames, stand in need of fear to restrain sin; for at such times love is in a great degree dormant, It is of necessity that persons should have some principle or other to restrain them from sin. But there is no principle which can be effectual to restrain men from sin any farther than it is in exercise. If love is not in exercise it will not restrain men. So that at such times the saints need fear. And therefore God has wisely ordered it, that at such times their evidences should be darkened and their hopes clouded, that they may have fear, when love is not awake, to restrain them. The godly themselves, if their hope were all alive at those times when they are in carnal and thoughtless frames, and grace is asleep, would be in great danger to abuse their hope, and take encouragement from it to indulge their lusts, or at least, to be the less careful to restrain and resist them. For we see that in such frames, though their hopes are clouded, and they have a considerable degree of fear, yet they are careless and negligent. But how much more so would they be, if they had no fear to restrain them!


    I. Use of instruction. 1. Hence we may observe the wonderful wisdom of God in his dealings with the souls of men. When we consider what has been said, with the reasons of it, we may see just cause to admire the divine wisdom in his ordinary dealings with respect to those for whom he intends comfort. His wisdom is admirable in his dealings with natural men in fitting and preparing them for comfort, in bringing them into such troubles and distress, and hedging up their way with thorns, as it is expressed in the context, and leaving them in their distress to follow after their lovers, their idols, without being able to overtake them; in taking away their vineyards, and all those things in which they trusted, and making them a forest; and so showing them what poor, destitute, helpless creatures they are, before he gives them comfort. And so we may well admire the divine wisdom in his method of dealing with his saints, who decline and fall into sin, or get into corrupt frames and ill ways. God knows how to order things concerning them; and there is a marvellous wisdom observable in his manner of dealing with them in such cases. We may well admire how wisely God orders things in what has been said, for his own glory, to secure the glory due to his power and free grace, and to bring men to a sense of their dependence on him, and to ascribe all to hmm. And how he orders things for the glory of his Son, that he may have all the glory of the salvation of men, who is worthy of it, in that he laid down his life for their salvation. And also how wisely God orders things for the good of his own elect people, how he brings good out of evil, and light out of darkness. How wisely he consults their good and comfort in those things, which appear to them to be most against them. How he wisely prepares them for good, and makes way for their receiving comfort, and for its being the more sweet, the more prized and delighted in, when it is obtained. And oftentimes in bringing about this in those things, which they think at the time to be signs of God’s hatred.

    And how wisely God orders things for preventing men’s abusing a sense of their own safety, to giving the reins to their lusts. It is ordered so, that at those times when sin prevails, and there would be danger of this, the evidences of their safety are hid from their eyes, and the fear of hell comes on to keep them in awe and that hope and comfort should be given only at such times and in such manner that they should have influence to draw men off from sin, and to prompt them to diligence in duty and the service of God; and that when it would have most of this tendency, then they should have most of it. When we consider these things, we may well cry out with the apostle, “O the depth both of’ the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” 2. Hence we may learn, that souls, who are in darkness, and, as it were, in a wilderness, have no cause to be discouraged. For by the doctrine we learn that this is the way often, in order to hope and comfort. Persons are very often ready to be discouraged by this. God seems to frown. They have a sense of his anger. They cry to him, and he does not seem to hear their prayers. They have been striving for relief, but it seems to be to no purpose. They are in such circumstances, that every thing looks dark; every thing seems to be against them. They are lost in a wilderness; they cannot find the way out. They have gone round and round, and returned again to the same place. They know not which way to turn themselves, or what to do. Their hearts are ready to sink. But you may gather encouragement from this doctrine; for by it you may learn that you have no cause to despair. For it is frequently God’s manner to bring persons into such circumstances, in order to prepare them for hope and comfort. The children of Israel were ready to be discouraged at the Red sea, when they saw Pharaoh and his hosts pursuing them. But it was only to prepare them for the greater joy after their deliverance. Joshua and the hosts of Israel were ready to be discouraged when they were smitten at Ai, as you may see in Joshua 7:5, etc. So that you, who are in the wilderness, may take encouragement from hence, still earnestly to seek God, and hope for light and comfort in his time.

    II. Use of self-examination. By this persons may try their hopes and comforts, whether they are of the right kind. If they are such as have arisen after the manner, as is spoken of in the doctrine; if it is a hope which you found in the valley of Achor, in the sense which has been explained; it. is a sign that it is a hope which God has given you, and so a hope which you are not to cast away; but which you are to retain, and rejoice in, and bless God for it. Therefore particularly inquire concerning your hopes and comforts, whether they have arisen in your souls when humbled for sin, and in the slaying of sin. 1. Inquire whether your hopes and comforts have been given you upon your soul’s being humbled for sin. You may try this by three things. 1. Whether you have seen what a miserable; helpless creature you were. When your hopes and comforts have arisen in your heart, has it been upon your soul’s receiving such a sight of yourself; or has your hope been accompanied with such a sense of soul? When hope was given at first, was it implanted in a heart thus prepared? And when you have had remarkable comfort and joy from time to time, has your joy been accompanied with such a sense and frame o mind? At the same time that you have had a strong hope of God’s favour, and that Christ was yours, have you been nothing in your own eyes; have you at such times appeared to yourself to be a poor, little, helpless, unworthy creature, deserving nothing at the hands of God? And do not only inquire whether in your own apprehension you had some such sight of yourself at first, before your first comfort. If you ever had a right understanding of yourself, of your own heart, and your own state, you will never wholly lose it. It will revive from time to time. If you had it when you received your first comfort, the same sense will come again; when your comforts are revived, this will revive with them. If the first joy was granted to a heart thus prepared, there will from time to time be a sense of your own emptiness and worthlessness, arising with your joys and comforts. It will be with a deep sense of what a poor, miserable, and exceedingly sinful creature you are. True comfort is wont to come in such a manner. There is usually a self-emptying, a soul-abasing, sense of heart accompanying it. So that at the same time that God lifts up the soul with comfort, and joy, and inward sweetness, he casts it down with abasement. Evangelical and gracious humiliation and spiritual comfort are companions, which go one with the other, and keep company together. When one comes, the other is wont to come with it. It is not wont to be so with false comforts and joys. But ride and self-fulness are wont to be the companions of comfort. Indeed, there may be a counterfeit abasement going with it. But if you examine it, you will find, that that very seeming abasement or humiliation lifts the man up, and fills him full of himself. The hypocrite, in the times of his greatest joy, and most confident hopes, looks large in himself. His thoughts are very busily employed about his own excellencies, how holy he is, how eminent a saint he is, how much better he is than most of his neighbours, how there are few equal to him; and therefore how it must be that God loves him better than most others how much God distinguishes him, how much he experiences, and how good he is, and what delight he takes in them on that account.

    But true spiritual comfort works in another way. Gracious joy and poverty of spirit go hand in hand, and rejoice, as it were, in each other’s company.

    The godly may at some times have comforts and joys, which do not accompany such abasement. They may be lifted up with joy and conceit of, and confidence in, themselves at the same time. But those joys are not spiritual, they are hypocritical, joys. Such comforts are not from the Spirit of God. A godly man may have false joys. He is liable to this exercise of corruption, as well as others. And there may be a mixture of one with the other, or false joy and pride may take occasion from true ones, afterwards to appear. But a gracious joy is linked together with poverty of spirit, and never forsakes it. And hence, 2. You may try this by examining what your hopes and comforts are built upon; whether on Christ only, or on our own righteousness. If you would know of what kind your comforts are, follow them up to the fountain, and see what is their source and spring. If you would know of what kind your hope is, examine the bottom of it, and see upon what foundation it stands. If your hope is that which has been given in the valley of Achor, your own righteousness is not the foundation of it.

    Inquire therefore what it is, which gives you ease with respect to your past sins, what it is which quiets your conscience about them. Is it any sense you have of the free, and sovereign, and infinite grace and mercy of God in Christ? Is it what you have seen in Christ, or the gospel of his grace, which has lightened your burden with respect to your sins!

    Or is it that now you think with yourself that you have done such and such things, or have met with such things, have such workings of affection towards God, that you are become lovely in his sight, so that he, seeing what holy affections and experiences your heart has been filled with, and what discoveries you have had, he is on that account reconciled to you, and you are become lovely in his eyes? What makes you hope that you are in favour with God? Is it because you conceive of God as looking down from heaven upon your heart, on your gracious experiences, and so being, as it were, taken with, and receiving you into his favour on account of that? Or is your hope of God’s favour built on a sense which you have of Christ’s worthiness, and the saving mercy of God in him, and his faithfulness to the promises, which he has made through him? 3. Inquire concerning the effect of your comforts, whether they cause an ardent disposition and desire to exalt God, and to lie low before him. True comforts and joys, which are from the Spirit of God, and are well founded, are wont to work after this manner. They excite an inward intense desire that God may be exalted, and to lie in the dust.

    Such a one as the psalmist seems to have had, when he says, Psalm cxv. 1. “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.” The repeating of the expression seems to show how ardent his heart was.

    When God is pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon the soul, and to impart inward sweetness from a manifestation of his glory, there is wont to be an inward longing to be in the dust. At such times the Christian sees how it becomes him to be humble, and how worthy God and Christ are of all the glory, more than he does at other times.

    He perceives and laments that he cannot bow enough; that he is not abased as low before God as becomes such a sinner as himself. Hence arises an intense desire after self-abasement; and the soul breathes and pants after humiliation before God. 2. Inquire whether your hope and comfort are such as have arisen on the slaying of sin. If your hope is that which you obtained before this, you obtained it too soon, and had better be without it than with it. It is not sufficient evidence of your hope, that it was given after much trouble and great terrors, or great relentings of heart for sin, and bewailing that you had done so wickedly, or that it was after reformations, and abstaining from former ways of sin, and a total reformation of some particular evil practices. But if it be a true hope, it was given after the slaying of sin, And in order the better to determine this point, let the following inquiries be made. 1. Whether your hope has been accompanied with a heart and a life turned from sin? Or is there no remarkable difference in this respect now from what there was before? We all own conversion to be a great change; and we have all been sufficiently taught, that the change consists in this; in turning from sin to God. Therefore there must be a great change in this respect. Is there a great change in this respect inn you? I do not inquire whether there be a great change in you in respect to hope and comfort; that whereas formerly you did not suppose yourself to be in Christ, and had no hope of it, now you have hope, and a confident hope, which oftentimes is an occasion of new and peculiar joy and elevation of spirit. There may he a great change in you in this respect, and yet you may remain in a Christless state. But is there a great change with respect to the turning of your heart from sin, and against sin? You may reply to this, “ I see still abundance of corruption and wickedness in my heart; and so far is it from being delivered from corruption, that I seem at times to discover more than ever. But whether you see more or less corruption in your heart, is your heart turned against that corruption which you see? Is there a great difference in you in this respect from what there used to be with respect to your being turned against your own sin, and finding within yourself a nature opposite to it, a nature to resist it, to carry it as an uneasy burden? And is your heart turned against yourself for it, in abhorrence of yourself, and in indignation against yourself? And is your will turned from sin, that though you find a great deal of corruption in your heart, yet you do not allow it, you keep a strict watch upon it, and will not let it walk at liberty to appear in your life and conversation? Is there no lust harboured, which is prevalent in you, and which is neglected, and suffered to range and to walk on every side? Is there no sin wittingly tolerated? Do you aim strictly to keep all God’s commandments; and is that your actual care and watch, that you may avoid every evil, and every false way; and that you may in all things, so far as in you lies, please and honour God? And do you find that this is the tendency of your hope; that your hope has a sanctifying influence upon you, that it turns you against sin, and stirs you up to seek after purity from sin? With respect to most who are here present, who entertain hope, there has been much opportunity for experience in this matter, since you have had your hope, so that one would think by an impartial and strict examination you might be able to answer these inquiries. 2. Those of you, who have obtained your hope again after special and remarkable departings from God, should inquire in what manner hope has been restored. Indeed hypocrites are not so apt to have their hope abated by such things, as those who have a true hope. A hypocrite’s hopes and false comforts will subsist, and it may be continue as lively as ever, under such great sins, and such a course of ill practices, as, if a godly man should fall into them, would bring him into exceeding darkness. Some hypocrites will live in very immoral ways, and vet keep up their confidence, seem not to have their hope much shaken, and boast of as much comfort and joy at such times as at any other. But this is not the manner of a true comfort. A true comfort, which flows from the exercise and the breathings of the Spirit of God in the heart, must, of necessity, at such times be exceedingly suppressed; and commonly great trouble and darkness is the effect. But if it has not been altogether thus with you, but you have found that at times, when you have greatly sinned and gone on in ill practices, your hope has decayed, and in the time of it your conscience told you that the way in which you lived was contrary to known rules, and so was in doubt about your hope, but since that you have grown strong again in your hope, inquire in what manner you have obtained your hope again. Unsound professors in such cases are not wont to obtain hope again in the same manner as the truly godly do, in a deep humbling for sin, and in slaying the troubler, as has been described, But it may be only this, that now they do better than they did, and so hope comes again. If they lived in a way of some vile sensuality for a time, and afterwards cease to do so, they look on their reformation as an atonement; and so their hope is renewed without any humbling or abasement, without any special convictions of the evil of their ways, any special repentance, or renewed sense of their own vileness, or any renewed flying to the mercy of God in Christ for refuge, or any further alienation of their hearts from those evil ways in which they have walked. If your comforts and confidence have been renewed after remarkable aberrations from the way of duty without something of this nature, it is to be feared that you make your own righteousness the ground of your hope and comfort. 3. Inquire whether at those times, when you have most hope and comfort, above all others, you are most disposed to be careful to avoid sin, and to strive to live holy. Sometimes the hope of hypocrites is very confident; and therefore the degree of confidence which attends a hope is no certain evidence of its truth and genuineness, But we should examine what effect this strong confidence has upon us. Do we find, when our hope is strongest and our comfort greatest, that then our hearts are most set against sin, and that then we feel the greatest desires to live holy, and have most of a disposition to keep a strict watch, and maintain an earnest warfare against sin, and are most desirous in every thing to do our duty? Or do we find, on the contrary, when our hope is strong, and we are most satisfied that our condition is safe, that then we are least careful to avoid sin, and are least disposed to take pains to curb our lusts, and resist temptation, or lay ourselves in the way of duty? If it be thus, it is a very bad sign, and a black mark on our hopes and comforts. A true hope has a tendency to prompt him who has it to purify himself, and watch and strive more earnestly against all impurity. 1 John 3:3. “He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” They are condemned who, because they think they are righteous, and so that they shall certainly have eternal life, will trust in that hope to give themselves the greater liberty in sin. Ezekiel 33:13.

    When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all, his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die.”

    Use of direction. If it be so, that God is wont to cause hope and comfort to arise after trouble and humbling for sin, and upon slaying the troubler, this may be of direction to souls under spiritual trouble and darkness, what course to pursue for hope and comfort. 1. Thoroughly to renounce and forsake all ways of sinful behaviour. For you have heard that hope and comfort are never to be expected, till sin is slain or forsaken. He who is not thorough in his reformation, cannot reasonably hope for comfort, how much soever he may abound in some particular duties. Persons who are under awakenings, and would seek a true hope of salvation, should in the first place see, that they thoroughly renounce every wicked practice. They should search their ways, and consider what is wrong in them: what duties they have omitted, which ought to have been done; and what practices they have allowed, which ought to be forsaken; and should immediately reform, retaining no one way of sin, denying all ungodliness, omitting nothing which is required; and should see that they persevere in it, that it be trot merely a temporary, short-lived restraint, but an everlasting renunciation. This is the way to have the troubler slain. 2. Earnestly to seek humiliation, To that end they should labour to be convinced of sin. They should be much engaged in searching their own hearts, and keeping a watchful eye upon them. They should riot rest in their own efforts, bent earnestly seek to God to give them a right sight of themselves, and a right conviction of sin, and show them that they have deserved God’s everlasting wrath. And in order to this they should carefully watch against backsliding; for backsliding prevents humiliation. If there has been any progress made by the conviction of God’s Spirit towards it, it is all lost by backsliding. This again blinds and stupifies the heart, and sets the man further than ever from a right knowledge of himself, and sight of his own heart. 3. To search and endeavour to find out the troubler. You have heard that when the godly are in darkness, it is not for want of love in God to them, or a readiness in him to give them comfort; but that sin is doubtless the cause of their darkness in one way or another. Their troubler lies at their own door. There is doubtless some troubler in the camp, which causes God to withdraw. And therefore if you would have light revive, and have the comfortable presence of God again, the first thing which you do must be to search, and find out the troubler. Many, when they are in darkness, proceed in a wrong way. They go to examining past experience. And that they should do; but what is wrong in it is, that they do that only. They spend their time in seeking for something in themselves which is good; whereas they ought to spend more of it in seeking out that which is bad.

    Whatever good there is, they are never likely to find it out, till they find out the sin which obscures and hides it. And whatever they reflect upon, which they formerly thought was good, is not likely to afford any satisfaction to them, till that bad thing be removed out of the way which troubled them.

    They wonder what the cause is, that they are so in the dark. They verily thought in time past, that they were right, and that they had experienced a right work of God’s Spirit on their hearts, and thought that they were the children of God. But now God hides his face from them, and they wonder what is the matter; as Joshua seemed to be astonished when Israel was smitten down at Ai. Sometimes they almost conclude, that it is because they are not the children of God. They pray to God to renew his comforts to them, and spend much time. And they ought to pray. But they have more need to do something else. Joshua spent a great deal of time in prayer when Israel was troubled. He fell upon his face till eventide, complaining to God about his withdrawing from them. But God says to him, Joshua 7:10,11. “Get three up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?” As munch as to say, you had more need to be doing something else, than lie there. “Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant, which I commanded them; for they have even taken of the accursed thing.” And ver. 13. “Up, sanctify yourselves.” This teaches you who are under darkness, and have your hopes darkened, and comforts deadened, what you should do. You must arise and search, and find out the troubler. If you do not do this, it will signify nothing to you to lie crying and complaining to God about your darkness. You have other business which you have more need to do, though prayer should not be left undone. Let me beseech you, therefore, to be thorough in this. You have need to be thorough, for it is an exceedingly difficult thing to find out the accursed thing in such cases.

    Men’s hearts do like Achan, who hid the accursed thing in the earth in the midst of his tent. Joshua 7:21. He hid it very closely. He did not content himself with hiding it in the most secret place in his tent, but he dung in the ground and buried it in the earth under his feet, that there might be no sign of it above ground. So are men’s deceitful hearts wont to hide the accursed thing which troubles them. When they are put upon searching for the cause of their trouble and darkness, they think of one thing and another, but commonly overlook the chief cause of all their trouble. It does not so much as enter their minds. They search the tent, but that is not enough; they must search the very ground or they will not find it out. When they tell of their darkness, and are put upon searching to see whether some sinful way is not the cause, they readily own that it is their fault. But yet they mistake the true Achan, notwithstanding all they confess of the corruption of their hearts. It is not merely corruption in their hearts, working in their thoughts, which is the cause; but it is some way of outward sin and wickedness, in which they have of late in a great measure allowed themselves. That is the principal cause of their trouble; some way of pride, or covetousness, or some way of envy, or evil-speaking, or ill will to their neighbours, or selfwill, or some other way of unsuitable carriage, which is the chief cause of their darkness. In some respects, it is a great deal easier to find out little sins than greater sins, which causes many to strain at a gnat who swallow a camel. Sins which are common to all, and of which all complain, such as corrupt workings of heart, they are willing to feel that it is no disgrace to have them. And the godly commonly tell of such things, and it does not affright them to see them. But such things as malice, a proud behaviour, and many other things which might he mentioned, are disagreeable. They are not willing to see such things in themselves. They therefore call them by good names, and put good constructions on them, and hide them, as Achan did his accursed thing under-ground. The sin which troubles them most, has greatest possession of their hearts, and does most blind and prejudice their minds, is passed over. They can soon enough discover and see such things in others, in one of an opposite party, or the like, but they cannot see them in themselves; and so they continue still under darkness. It is an exceedingly difficult thing to find out the troubler. You have need, therefore, to he exceedingly thorough in searching for this matter, and not to spare yourself, or bribe your conscience at all, but labour to be impartial in the search. And to induce you to this, consider what God said to Joshua.

    Joshua 7:12. “Neither will I be with you any more, unless you destroy the accursed thing from among you.” And, therefore, 4. When you have found out the troubler, be sure thoroughly to destroy it.

    Renounce it with detestation, as a vile serpent that has secretly lain under your head for a long time, and infected you with his poisons time after time, and bit you, when you were asleep, made you sick and filled you with pain, and you knew it riot. Would not a man, when he has found out the serpent in such a case, destroy it with indignation, and he for ever afterwards thoroughly watchful that he is not caught with such a calamity again? You cannot be too thorough in destroying such an enemy, and labouring to root it out, and extirpate all its race. Whoever of you are under darkness and trouble, I am bold to say, if God help you to follow these directions, your darkness will soon be scattered, and hope and comfort will arise. And this is the surest, and readiest, and most direct course which any of you can take in order to the renewing of comfort in your soul. And without this, do not promise yourself any considerable degree of light or corn or while you live, however many examinations of past experiences and prayers to God for light you may make.

    SERMON GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN THE SALVATION OF MEN “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:18) THE apostle, in the beginning of this chapter, expresses his great concern and sorrow of heart for the nation of the Jews, who were rejected of God.

    This leads him to observe the difference which God made by election between some of the Jews and others, and between the bulk of that people and the Christian Gentiles. In speaking of this he enters into a more minute discussion of the sovereignty of God in electing some to eternal life, and rejecting others, than is found in any other part of the Bible; in the course of which he quotes several passages from the Old Testament, confirming and illustrating this doctrine. In the ninth verse he refers us to what God said to Abraham, showing his election of Isaac before Ishmael - “For this is the word of promise; At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son:” then to what God had said to Rebecca, showing his election of Jacob before Esau; “The elder shall serve the younger:” in the thirteenth verse, to a passage from Malachi, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated:” in the fifteenth verse, to what God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion:” and the verse preceding the text, to what God says to Pharaoh, “For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” In what the apostle says in the text, he seems to have respect especially to the two last cited passages: to what God said to Moses in the fifteenth verse, and to what he said to Pharaoh in the verse immediately preceding. God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” To this the apostle refers in the former part of the text. And we know how often it is said of Pharaoh, that God hardened his heart. And to this the apostle seems to have respect in the latter part of the text; “and whom he will he hardeneth.” We may observe in the text, 1. God’s different dealing with men. He hath mercy on some, and hardeneth others. When God is here spoken of as hardening some of the children of men, it is not to be understood that God by any positive efficiency hardens any man’s heart. There is no positive act in God, as though he put forth any power to harden the heart. To suppose any such thing would be to make God the immediate author of sin. God is said to harden men in two ways: by withholding the powerful influences of his Spirit, without which their hearts will remain hardened, and grow harder and harder; in this sense he hardens them, as he leaves them to hardness.

    And again, by ordering those things in his providence which, through the abuse of their corruption, become the occasion of their hardening. Thus God sends his word and ordinances to men which, by their abuse, prove an occasion of their hardening. So the apostle said, that he was unto some “a savor of death unto death.” So God is represented as sending Isaiah on this errand, to make the hearts of the people fat, and to make their ears heavy, and to shut their eyes; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

    Isaiah 6:10. Isaiah’s preaching was, in itself, of a contrary tendency, to make them better. But their abuse of it rendered it an occasion of their hardening. As God is here said to harden men, so he is said to put a lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets. 2 Chronicles 18:22. That is, he suffered a lying spirit to enter into them. And thus he is said to have bid Shimei curse David. 2 Samuel 16:10. Not that he properly commanded him; for it is contrary to God’s commands. God expressly forbids cursing the ruler of the people. Exodus 22:28. But he suffered corruption at that time so to work in Shimei, and ordered that occasion of stirring it up, as a manifestation of his displeasure against David. 2. The foundation of his different dealing with mankind; viz. his sovereign will and pleasure. “He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” This does not imply, merely, that God never shows mercy or denies it against his will, or that he is always willing to do it when he does it. A willing subject or servant, when he obeys his lord’s commands, may never do any thing against his will, nothing but what he can do cheerfully and with delight; and yet he cannot be said to do what he wills in the sense of the text. But the expression implies that it is God’s mere will and sovereign pleasure, which supremely orders this affair. It is the divine will without restraint, or constraint, or obligation.

    DOCTRINE God exercises his sovereignty in the eternal salvation of men.

    He not only is sovereign, and has a sovereign right to dispose and order in that affair; and he not only might proceed in a sovereign way, if he would, and nobody could charge him with exceeding his right; but he actually does so; he exercises the right which he has. In the following discourse, I propose to show, I. What is God’s sovereignty.

    II. What God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men implies.

    III. That God actually doth exercise his sovereignty in this matter.

    IV. The reasons for this exercise.

    I. I would show what is God’s sovereignty.

    The sovereignty of God is his absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to his own pleasure. I will consider this definition by the parts of it.

    The will of God is called his mere pleasure,1. In opposition to any constraint. Men may do things voluntarily, and yet there may be a degree of constraint. A man may be said to do a thing voluntarily, that is, he himself does it; and, all things considered, he may choose to do it; yet he may do it out of fear, and the thing in itself considered be irksome to him, and sorely against his inclination. When men do things thus, they cannot be said to do them according to their mere pleasure. 2. In opposition to its being under the will of another. A servant may fulfill his master’s commands, and may do it willingly, and cheerfully, and may delight to do his master’s will; yet when he does so, he does not do it of his own mere pleasure. The saints do the will of God freely. They choose to do it; it is their meat and drink. Yet they do not do it of their mere pleasure and arbitrary will; because their will is under the direction of a superior will. 3. In opposition to any proper obligation. A man may do a thing which he is obliged to do, very freely; but he cannot be said to act from his own mere will and pleasure. He who acts from his own mere pleasure, is at full liberty; but he who is under any proper obligation, is not at liberty, but is bound. Now the sovereignty of God supposes, that he has a right to dispose of all his creatures according to his mere pleasure in the sense explained. And his right is absolute and independent. Men may have a right to dispose of some things according to their pleasure. But their right is not absolute and unlimited. Men may be said to have a right to dispose of their own goods as they please. But their right is not absolute; is has limits and bounds. They have a right to dispose of their own goods as they please, provided they do not do it contrary to the law of the state to which they are subject, or contrary to the law of God. Men’s right to dispose of their things as they will, is not absolute, because it is not independent. They have not an independent right to what they have, but in some things depend on the community to which they belong, for the right they have; and in every thing depend on God. They receive all the right they have to any thing from God. But the sovereignty of God imports that he has an absolute, and unlimited, and independent right of disposing of his creatures as he will. I proposed to inquire, II. What God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men implies. In answer to this inquiry, I observe, it implies that God can either bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it, without any prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, except where he has been pleased to declare, that he will or will not bestow it. It cannot be said absolutely, as the case now stands, that God can, without any prejudice to the honor of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it; because, concerning some, God has been pleased to declare either that he will or that he will not bestow salvation on them; and thus to bind himself by his own promise. And concerning some he has been pleased to declare, that he never will bestow salvation upon them; viz. those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. Hence, as the case now stands, he is obliged; he cannot bestow salvation in one case, or refuse it in the other, without prejudice to the honor of his truth. But God exercised his sovereignty in making these declarations. God was not obliged to promise that he would save all who believe in Christ; nor was he obliged to declare, that he who committed the sin against the Holy Ghost should never be forgiven. But it pleased him so to declare. And had it not been so that God had been pleased to oblige himself in these cases, he might still have either bestowed salvation, or refused it, without prejudice to any of his attributes.

    If it would in itself be prejudicial to any of his attributes to bestow or refuse salvation, then God would not in that matter act as absolutely sovereign. Because it then ceases to be a merely arbitrary thing. It ceases to be a matter of absolute liberty, and is become a matter of necessity or obligation. For God cannot do any thing to the prejudice of any of his attributes, or contrary to what is in itself excellent and glorious. Therefore, 1. God can, without prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, except on those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. The case was thus when man fell, and before God revealed his eternal purpose and plan for redeeming men by Jesus Christ. It was probably looked upon by the angels as a thing utterly inconsistent with God’s attributes to save any of the children of men. It was utterly inconsistent with the honor of the divine attributes to save any one of the fallen children of men, as they were in themselves. It could not have been done had not God contrived a way consistent with the honor of his holiness, majesty, justice, and truth. But since God in the gospel has revealed that nothing is too hard for him to do, nothing beyond the reach of his power, and wisdom, and sufficiency; and since Christ has wrought out the work of redemption, and fulfilled the law by obeying, there is none of mankind whom he may not save without any prejudice to any of his attributes, excepting those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. And those he might have saved without going contrary to any of his attributes, had he not been pleased to declare that he would not.

    It was not because he could not have saved them consistently with his justice, and consistently with his law, or because his attribute of mercy was not great enough, or the blood of Christ not sufficient to cleanse from that sin. But it has pleased him for wise reasons to declare that that sin shall never be forgiven in this world, or in the world to come. And so now it is contrary to God’s truth to save such. But otherwise there is no sinner, let him be ever so great, but God can save him without prejudice to any attribute; if he has been a murderer, adulterer, or perjurer, or idolater, or blasphemer, God may save him if he pleases, and in no respect injure his glory. Though persons have sinned long, have been obstinate, have committed heinous sins a thousand times, even till they have grown old in sin, and have sinned under great aggravations: let the aggravations be what they may; if they have sinned under ever so great light; if they have been backsliders, and have sinned against ever so numerous and solemn warnings and strivings of the Spirit, and mercies of his common providence: though the danger of such is much greater than of other sinners, yet God can save them if he pleases, for the sake of Christ, without any prejudice to any of his attributes. He may have mercy on whom he will have mercy. He may have mercy on the greatest of sinners, if he pleases, and the glory of none of his attributes will be in the least sullied. Such is the sufficiency of the satisfaction and righteousness of Christ, that none of the divine attributes stand in the way of the salvation of any of them. Thus the glory of any attribute did not at all suffer by Christ’s saving some of his crucifiers. 1. God may save any of them without prejudice to the honor of his holiness. God is an infinitely holy being. The heavens are not pure in his sight. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity.

    And if God should in any way countenance sin, and should not give proper testimonies of his hatred of it, and displeasure at it, it would be a prejudice to the honor of his holiness. But God can save the greatest sinner without giving the least countenance to sin. If he saves one, who for a long time has stood out under the calls of the gospel, and has sinned under dreadful aggravations; if he saves one who, against light, has been a pirate or blasphemer, he may do it without giving any countenance to their wickedness; because his abhorrence of it and displeasure against it have been already sufficiently manifested in the sufferings of Christ. It was a sufficient testimony of God’s abhorrence against even the greatest wickedness, that Christ, the eternal Son of God, died for it. Nothing can show God’s infinite abhorrence of any wickedness more than this. If the wicked man himself should be thrust into hell, and should endure the most extreme torments which are ever suffered there, it would not be a greater manifestation of God’s abhorrence of it, than the sufferings of the Son of God for it. 2. God may save any of the children of men without prejudice to the honor of his majesty. If men have affronted God, and that ever so much, if they have cast ever so much contempt on his authority; yet God can save them, if he pleases, and the honor of his majesty not suffer in the least. If God should save those who have affronted him, without satisfaction, the honor of his majesty would suffer. For when contempt is cast upon infinite majesty, its honor suffers, and the contempt leaves an obscurity upon the honor of the divine majesty, if the injury is not repaired. But the sufferings of Christ do fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honorable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender, and in the mediation suffer in his stead, it fully repairs the injury done to the majesty of heaven by the greatest sinner. 3. God may save any sinner whatsoever consistently with his justice. The justice of God requires the punishment of sin. God is the Supreme Judge of the world, and he is to judge the world according to the rules of justice. It is not the part of a judge to show favor to the person judged; but he is to determine according to a rule of justice without departing to the right hand or left. God does not show mercy as a judge, but as a sovereign. And therefore when mercy sought the salvation of sinners, the inquiry was how to make the exercise of the mercy of God as a sovereign, and of his strict justice as a judge, agree together. And this is done by the sufferings of Christ, in which sin is punished fully, and justice answered. Christ suffered enough for the punishment of the sins of the greatest sinner that ever lived.

    So that God, when he judges, may act according to a rule of strict justice, and yet acquit the sinner, if he be in Christ. Justice cannot require any more for any man’s sins, than those sufferings of one of the persons in the Trinity, which Christ suffered. Romans 3:25,26. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Christ.” 4. God can save any sinner whatsoever, without any prejudice to the honor of his truth. God passed his word, that sin should be punished with death, which is to be understood not only of the first, but of the second death.

    God can save the greatest sinner consistently with his truth in this threatening. For sin is punished in the sufferings of Christ, inasmuch as he is our surety, and so is legally the same person, and sustained our guilt, and in his sufferings bore our punishment. It may be objected, that God said, If thou eatest, thou shalt die; as though the same person that sinned must suffer; and therefore why does not God’s truth oblige him to that? I answer, that the word then was not intended to be restrained to him, that in his own person sinned. Adam probably understood that his posterity were included, whether they sinned in their own person or not. If they sinned in Adam, their surety, those words, “if thou eatest,” meant, if thou eatest in thyself, or in thy surety. And therefore, the latter words, “thou shalt die,” do also fairly allow of such a construction as, thou shalt die in thyself, or in thy surety. Isaiah 42:21. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, he will magnify the law and make it honorable.” But, II. God may refuse salvation to any sinner whatsoever, without prejudice to the honor of any of his attributes.

    There is no person whatever in a natural condition, upon whom God may not refuse to bestow salvation without prejudice to any part of his glory.

    Let a natural person be wise or unwise, of a good or ill natural temper, of mean or honorable parentage, whether born of wicked or godly parents; let him be a moral or immoral person, whatever good he may have done, however religious he has been, how many prayers soever he has made, and whatever pains he has taken that he may be saved; whatever concern and distress he may have for fear he shall be damned; or whatever circumstances he may be in; God can deny him salvation without the least disparagement to any of his perfections. His glory will not in any instance be the least obscured by it. 1. God may deny salvation to any natural person without any injury to the honor of his righteousness. If he does so, there is no injustice nor unfairness in it. There is no natural man living, let his case be what it will, but God may deny him salvation, and cast him down to hell, and yet not be chargeable with the least unrighteous or unfair dealing in any respect whatsoever. This is evident, because they all have deserved hell: and it is no injustice for a proper judge to inflict on any man what he deserves. And as he has deserved condemnation, so he has never done any thing to remove the liability, or to atone for the sin. He never has done any thing whereby he has laid any obligations on God not to punish him as he deserved. 2. God may deny salvation to any unconverted person whatever without any prejudice to the honor of his goodness. Sinners are sometimes ready to flatter themselves, that though it may not be contrary to the justice of God to condemn them, yet it will not consist with the glory of his mercy. They think it will be dishonorable to God’s mercy to cast them into hell, and have no pity or compassion upon them. They think it will be very hard and severe, and not becoming a God of infinite grace and tender compassion.

    But God can deny salvation to any natural person without any disparagement to his mercy and goodness. That, which is not contrary to God’s justice, is not contrary to his mercy. If damnation be justice, then mercy may choose its own object. They mistake the nature of the mercy of God, who think that it is an attribute, which, in some cases, is contrary to justice. Nay, God’s mercy is illustrated by it, as in the twenty-third verse of the context. “That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” 3. It is in no way prejudicial to the honor of God’s faithfulness. For God has in no way obliged himself to any natural man by his word to bestow salvation upon him. Men in a natural condition are not the children of promise; but lie open to the curse of the law, which would not be the case if they had any promise to lay hold of.

    III. God does actually exercise his sovereignty in men’s salvation.

    We shall show how he exercises this right in several particulars. 1. In calling one people or nation, and giving them the means of grace, and leaving others without them. According to the divine appointment, salvation is bestowed in connection with the means of grace. God may sometimes make use of very unlikely means, and bestow salvation on men who are under very great disadvantages; but he does not bestow grace wholly without any means. But God exercises his sovereignty in bestowing those means. All mankind are by nature in like circumstances towards God.

    Yet God greatly distinguishes some from others by the means and advantages which he bestows upon them. The savages, who live in the remote parts of this continent, and are under the grossest heathenish darkness, as well as the inhabitants of Africa, are naturally in exactly similar circumstances towards God with us in this land. They are no more alienated or estranged from God in their natures than we; and God has no more to charge them with. And yet what a vast difference has God made between us and them! In this he has exercised his sovereignty. He did this of old, when he chose but one people, to make them his covenant people, and to give them the means of grace, and left all others, and gave them over to heathenish darkness and the tyranny of the devil, to perish from generation to generation for many hundreds of years. The earth in that time was peopled with many great and mighty nations. There were the Egyptians, a people famed for their wisdom. There were also the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who were great, and wise, and powerful nations. There were the Persians, who by their strength and policy subdued a great part of the world. There were the renowned nations of the Greeks and Romans, who were famed over the whole world for their excellent civil governments, for their wisdom and skill in the arts of peace and war, and who by their military prowess in their turns subdued and reigned over the world. Those were rejected. God did not choose them for his people, but left them for many ages under gross heathenish darkness, to perish for lack of vision; and chose one only people, the posterity of Jacob, to be his own people, and to give them the means of grace. Psalm 147:19,20. “He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them.”

    This nation were a small, inconsiderable people in comparison with many other people. Deuteronomy 7:7. “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.”

    So neither was it for their righteousness; for they had no more of that than other people. Deuteronomy 9:6. “Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people.”

    God gives them to understand, that it was from no other cause but his free electing love, that he chose them to be his people. That reason is given why God loved them; it was because he loved them. Deuteronomy 7:8.

    Which is as much as to say, it was agreeable to his sovereign pleasure, to set his love upon you.

    God also showed his sovereignty in choosing that people, when other nations were rejected, who came of the same progenitors. Thus the children of Isaac were chosen, when the posterity of Ishmael and other sons of Abraham were rejected. So the children of Jacob were chosen, when the posterity of Esau were rejected: as the apostle observes in the seventh verse, “Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called:” and again in verses 10, 11, 12, 13. “And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; the children moreover being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the promise of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

    The apostle has not respect merely to the election of the persons of Isaac and Jacob before Ishmael and Esau; but of their posterity. In the passage, already quoted from Malachi, God has respect to the nations, which were the posterity of Esau and Jacob; Malachi 1:2,3. “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?

    Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob; and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

    God showed his sovereignty, when Christ came, in rejecting the Jews, and calling the Gentiles. God rejected that nation who were the children of Abraham according to the flesh, and had been his peculiar people for so many ages, and who alone possessed the one true God, and chose idolatrous heathen before them, and called them to be his people. When the Messiah came, who was born of their nation, and whom they so much expected, he rejected them. He came to his own, and his own received him not. John 1:11. When the glorious dispensation of the gospel came, God passed by the Jews, and called those who had been heathens, to enjoy the privileges of it. They were broken off, that the Gentiles might be graffed on. Romans 11:17. She is now called beloved, that was not beloved. And more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife.

    Isaiah 54:1. The natural children of Abraham are rejected, and God raises up children to Abraham of stones. That nation, which was so honored of God, have now been for many ages rejected, and remain dispersed all over the world, a remarkable monument of divine vengeance. And now God greatly distinguishes some Gentile nations from others, and all according to his sovereign pleasure. 2. God exercises his sovereignty in the advantages he bestows upon particular persons. All need salvation alike, and all are, naturally, alike undeserving of it; but he gives some vastly greater advantages for salvation than others. To some he assigns their place in pious and religious families, where they may be well instructed and educated, and have religious parents to dedicate them to God, and put up many prayers for them. God places some under a more powerful ministry than others, and in places where there are more of the outpourings of the Spirit of God. To some he gives much more of the strivings and the awakening influences of the Spirit, than to others. It is according to his mere sovereign pleasure. 3. God exercises his sovereignty in sometimes bestowing salvation upon the low and mean, and denying it to the wise and great. Christ in his sovereignty passes by the gates of princes and nobles, and enters some cottage and dwells there, and has communion with its obscure inhabitants.

    God in his sovereignty withheld salvation from the rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, and bestowed it on poor Lazarus, who sat begging at his gate. God in this way pours contempt on princes, and on all their glittering splendor. So God sometimes passes by wise men, men of great understanding, learned and great scholars, and bestows salvation on others of weak understanding, who only comprehend some of the plainer parts of Scripture, and the fundamental principles of the Christian religion. Yea, there seem to be fewer great men called, than others. And God in ordering it thus manifests his sovereignty. 1 Corinthians 1:26,27,28. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.” 4. In bestowing salvation on some who have had few advantages. God sometimes will bless weak means for producing astonishing effects, when more excellent means are not succeeded. God sometimes will withhold salvation from those who are the children of very pious parents, and bestow it on others, who have been brought up in wicked families. Thus we read of a good Abijah in the family of Jeroboam, and of a godly Hezekiah, the son of wicked Ahaz, and of a godly Josiah, the son of a wicked Amon. But on the contrary, of a wicked Amnon and Absalom, the sons of holy David, and that vile Manasseh, the son a good Hezekiah.

    Sometimes some, who have had eminent means of grace, are rejected, and left to perish, and others, under far less advantages, are saved. Thus the scribes and Pharisees, who had so much light and knowledge of the Scriptures, were mostly rejected, and the poor ignorant publicans saved.

    The greater part of those, among whom Christ was much conversant, and who heard him preach, and saw him work miracles from day to day, were left; and the woman of Samaria was taken, and many other Samaritans at the same time, who only heard Christ preach, as he occasionally passed through their city. So the woman of Canaan was taken, who was not of the country of the Jews, and but once saw Jesus Christ. So the Jews, who had seen and heard Christ, and saw his miracles, and with whom the apostles labored so much, were not saved. But the Gentiles, many of them, who, as it were, but transiently heard the glad tidings of salvation, embraced them, and were converted. 5. God exercises his sovereignty in calling some to salvation, who have been very heinously wicked, and leaving others, who have been moral and religious persons. The Pharisees were a very strict sect among the Jews.

    Their religion was extraordinary. Luke 18:11. They were not as other men, extortioners, unjust, or adulterers. There was their morality. They fasted twice a week, and gave tithes of all that they possessed. There was their religion. But yet they were mostly rejected, and the publicans, and harlots, and openly vicious sort of people, entered into the kingdom of God before them. Matthew 21:31. The apostle describes his righteousness while a Pharisee. Philippians 3:6. “Touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless.” The rich young man, who came kneeling to Christ, saying, Good Master, what shall I do, that I may have eternal life, was a moral person. When Christ bade him keep the commandments, he said, and in his own view with sincerity, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” He had obviously been brought up in a good family, and was a youth of such amiable manners and correct deportment, that it is said, “Jesus beholding him, loved him.” Still he was left; while the thief, that was crucified with Christ, was chosen and called, even on the cross. God sometimes shows his sovereignty by showing mercy to the chief of sinners, on those who have been murderers, and profaners, and blasphemers. And even when they are old, some are called at the eleventh hour. God sometimes shows the sovereignty of his grace by showing mercy to some, who have spent most of their lives in the service of Satan, and have little left to spend in the service of God. 6. In saving some of those who seek salvation, and not others. Some who seek salvation, as we know both from Scripture and observation, are soon converted; while others seek a long time, and do not obtain at last. God helps some over the mountains and difficulties which are in the way; he subdues Satan, and delivers them from his temptations: but others are ruined by the temptations with which they meet. Some are never thoroughly awakened; while to others God is pleased to give thorough convictions. Some are left to backsliding hearts; others God causes to hold out to the end. Some are brought off from a confidence in their own righteousness; others never get over that obstruction in their way, as long as they live. And some are converted and saved, who never had so great strivings as some who, notwithstanding, perish.

    IV. I come now to give the reasons, why God does thus exercise his sovereignty in the eternal salvation of the children of men. 1. It is agreeable to God’s design in the creation of the universe to exercise every attribute, and thus to manifest the glory of each of them. God’s design in the creation was to glorify himself, or to make a discovery of the essential glory of his nature. It was fit that infinite glory should shine forth; and it was God’s original design to make a manifestation of his glory, as it is. Not that it was his design to manifest all his glory to the apprehension of creatures; for it is impossible that the minds of creatures should comprehend it. But it was his design to make a true manifestation of his glory, such as should represent every attribute. If God glorified one attribute, and not another, such manifestation of his glory would be defective; and the representation would not be complete. If all God’s attributes are not manifested, the glory of none of them is manifested as it is: for the divine attributes reflect glory on one another. Thus if God’s wisdom be manifested, and not his holiness, the glory of his wisdom would not be manifested as it is; for one part of the glory of the attribute of divine wisdom is, that it is a holy wisdom. So if his holiness were manifested, and not his wisdom, the glory of his holiness would not be manifested as it is; for one thing which belongs to the glory of God’s holiness is, that it is a wise holiness. So it is with respect to the attributes of mercy and justice.

    The glory of God’s mercy does not appear as it is, unless it is manifested as a just mercy, or as a mercy consistent with justice. And so with respect to God’s sovereignty, it reflects glory on all his other attributes. It is part of the glory of God’s mercy, that it is sovereign mercy. So all the attributes of God reflect glory on one another. The glory of one attribute cannot be manifested, as it is, without the manifestation of another. One attribute is defective without another, and therefore the manifestation will be defective. Hence it was the will of God to manifest all his attributes. The declarative glory of God in Scripture is often called God’s name, because it declares his nature. But if his name does not signify his nature as it is, or does not declare any attribute, it is not a true name. The sovereignty of God is one of his attributes, and a part of his glory. The glory of God eminently appears in his absolute sovereignty over all creatures, great and small. If the glory of a prince be his power and dominion, then the glory of God is his absolute sovereignty. Herein appear God’s infinite greatness and highness above all creatures. Therefore it is the will of God to manifest his sovereignty. And his sovereignty, like his other attributes, is manifested in the exercises of it. He glorifies his power in the exercise of power. He glorifies his mercy in the exercise of mercy. So he glorifies his sovereignty in the exercise of sovereignty. 2. The more excellent the creature is over whom God is sovereign, and the greater the matter in which he so appears, the more glorious is his sovereignty. The sovereignty of God in his being sovereign over men, is more glorious than in his being sovereign over the inferior creatures. And his sovereignty over angels is yet more glorious that his sovereignty over men. For the nobler the creature is, still the greater and higher doth God appear in his sovereignty over it. It is a greater honor to a man to have dominion over men, that over beasts; and a still greater honor to have dominion over princes, nobles, and kings, than over ordinary men. So the glory of God’s sovereignty appears in that he is sovereign over the souls of men, who are so noble and excellent creatures. God therefore will exercise his sovereignty over them. And the further the dominion of any one extends over another, the greater will be the honor. If a man has dominion over another only in some instances, he is not therein so much exalted, as in having absolute dominion over his life, and fortune, and all he has. So God’s sovereignty over men appears glorious, that it extends to every thing which concerns them. He may dispose of them with respect to all that concerns them, according to his own pleasure. His sovereignty appears glorious, that it reaches their most important affairs, even the eternal state and condition of the souls of men. Herein it appears that the sovereignty of God is without bounds or limits, in that it reaches to an affair of such infinite importance. God, therefore, as it is his design to manifest his own glory, will and does exercise his sovereignty towards men, over their souls and bodies, even in this most important matter of their eternal salvation. He has mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens.

    APPLICATION 1. Hence we learn how absolutely we are dependent on God in this great matter of the eternal salvation of our souls. We are dependent not only on his wisdom to contrive a way to accomplish it, and on his power to bring it to pass, but we are dependent on his mere will and pleasure in the affair.

    We depend on the sovereign will of God for every thing belonging to it, from the foundation to the top-stone. It was of the sovereign pleasure of God, that he contrived a way to save any of mankind, and gave us Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, to be our Redeemer. Why did he look on us, and send us a Savior, and not the fallen angels? It was from the sovereign pleasure of God. It was of his sovereign pleasure what means to appoint.

    His giving us the Bible, and the ordinances of religion, is of his sovereign grace. His giving those means to us rather than to others, his giving the awakening influences of his Spirit, and his bestowing saving grace, are all of his sovereign pleasure. When he says, “Let there be light in the soul of such an one,” it is a word of infinite power and sovereign grace. 2. Let us with the greatest humility adore the awful and absolute sovereignty of God. As we have just shown, it is an eminent attribute of the Divine Being, that he is sovereign over such excellent beings as the souls of men, and that in every respect, even in that of their eternal salvation. The infinite greatness of God, and his exaltation above us, appears in nothing more, than in his sovereignty. It is spoken of in Scripture as a great part of his glory. Deuteronomy 32:39. “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me. I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” Psalm 115:3. “Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased.” Daniel 4:34,35. “Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

    Our Lord Jesus Christ praised and glorified the Father for the exercise of his sovereignty in the salvation of men. Matthew 11:25,26. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

    Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”

    Let us therefore give God the glory of his sovereignty, as adoring him, whose sovereign will orders all things, beholding ourselves as nothing in comparison with him. Dominion and sovereignty require humble reverence and honor in the subject. The absolute, universal, and unlimited sovereignty of God requires, that we should adore him with all possible humility and reverence. It is impossible that we should go to excess in lowliness and reverence of that Being, who may dispose of us to all eternity, as he pleases. 3. Those who are in a state of salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to him, who maketh them to differ from others. Godliness is no cause for glorying, except it be in God. Corinthians 1:29, 30, 31. “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

    Such are not, by any means, in any degree to attribute their godliness, their safe and happy state and condition, to any natural difference between them and other men, or to any strength or righteousness of their own. They have no reason to exalt themselves in the least degree; but God is the being whom they should exalt. They should exalt God the Father, who chose them in Christ, who set his love upon them, and gave them salvation, before they were born, and even before the world was. If they inquire, why God set his love on them, and chose them rather than others, if they think they can see any cause out of God, they are greatly mistaken. They should exalt God the Son, who bore their names on his heart, when he came into the world, and hung on the cross, and in whom alone they have righteousness and strength. They should exalt God the Holy Ghost, who of sovereign grace has called them out of darkness into marvelous light; who has by his own immediate and free operation, led them into an understanding of the evil and danger of sin, and brought them off from their own righteousness, and opened their eyes to discover the glory of God, and the wonderful riches of God in Jesus Christ, and has sanctified them, and made them new creatures. When they hear of the wickedness of others, or look upon vicious persons, they should think how wicked they once were, and how much they provoked God, and how they deserved for ever to be left by him to perish in sin, and that it is only sovereign grace which has made the difference. 1 Corinthians 6:10. Many sorts of sinners are there enumerated; fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind. And then in the eleventh verse, the apostle tells them, “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The people of God have the greater cause of thankfulness, more reason to love God, who hath bestowed such great and unspeakable mercy upon them of his mere sovereign pleasure. 4. Hence we learn what cause we have to admire the grace of God, that he should condescend to become bound to us by covenant; that he, who is naturally supreme in his dominion over us, who is our absolute proprietor, and may do with us as he pleases, and is under no obligation to us; that he should, as it were, relinquish his absolute freedom, and should cease to be merely sovereign in his dispensations towards believers, when once they have believed in Christ, and should, for their more abundant consolation, become bound. So that they can challenge salvation of this Sovereign; they can demand it through Christ, as a debt. And it would be prejudicial to the glory of God’s attributes, to deny it to them; it would be contrary to his justice and faithfulness. What wonderful condescension is it in such a Being, thus to become bound to us, worms of the dust, for our consolation! He bound himself by his word, his promise. But he was not satisfied with that; but that we might have stronger consolation still, he hath bound himself by his oath. Hebrews 6:13, etc. “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself; saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

    Let us, therefore, labor to submit to the sovereignty of God. God insists, that his sovereignty be acknowledged by us, and that even in this great matter, a matter which so nearly and infinitely concerns us, as our own eternal salvation. This is the stumbling-block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go on contending with God about his sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin. It is absolutely necessary that we should submit to God, as our absolute sovereign, and the sovereign over our souls; as one who may have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and harden whom he will. 5. And lastly. We may make use of this doctrine to guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes - presumption and discouragement.

    Do not presume upon the mercy of God, and so encourage yourself in sin.

    Many hear that God’s mercy is infinite, and therefore think, that if they delay seeking salvation for the present, and seek it hereafter, that God will bestow his grace upon them. But consider, that though God’s grace is sufficient, yet he is sovereign, and will use his own pleasure whether he will save you or not. If you put off salvation till hereafter, salvation will not be in your power. It will be as a sovereign God pleases, whether you shall obtain it or not. Seeing, therefore, that in this affair you are so absolutely dependent on God, it is best to follow his direction in seeking it, which is to hear his voice to-day: “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” Beware also of discouragement. Take heed of despairing thoughts, because you are a great sinner, because you have persevered so long in sin, have backslidden, and resisted the Holy Ghost. Remember that, let your case be what it may, and you ever so great a sinner, if you have not committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, God can bestow mercy upon you without the least prejudice to the honor of his holiness, which you have offended, or to the honor of his majesty, which you have insulted, or of his justice, which you have made your enemy, or of his truth, or of any of his attributes. Let you be what sinner you may, God can, if he pleases, greatly glorify himself in your salvation.

    OUTLINE Romans 9:18. We observe in the text, 1. God’s different dealing with men. He hath mercy on some, and hardeneth others. 2. The foundation of his different dealing w/mankind; viz. his sovereign will and pleasure.

    DOCTRINE God exercises his sovereignty in the eternal salvation of men.

    I. The sovereignty of God is his absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to his own pleasure. The will of God is called his mere pleasure: 1. In opposition to any constraint, 2. In opposition to its being under the will of another, 3. In opposition to any proper obligation.

    II. What God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men implies. 1. God can, without prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, except on those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. 1. God may save any of them without prejudice to the honor of his holiness. 2. God may save any of the children of men without prejudice to the honor of his majesty. 3. God may save any sinner whatsoever consistently with his justice. 4. God can save any sinner whatsoever, without any prejudice to the honor of his truth. 2. God may refuse salvation to any sinner whatsoever, without prejudice to the honor of any of his attributes. 1. God may deny salvation to any natural person without any injury to the honor of his righteousness. 2. God may deny salvation to any unconverted person whatever without any prejudice to the honor of his goodness. 3. It is in no way prejudicial to the honor of God’s faithfulness.

    III. God does actually exercise his sovereignty in men’s salvation. 1. In calling one people or nation, and giving them the means of grace, and leaving others without them. 2. In the advantages he bestows upon particular persons. 3. In sometimes bestowing salvation upon the low and mean, and denying it to the wise and great. 4. In bestowing salvation on some who have had few advantages. 5. In calling some to salvation, who have been very heinously wicked, and leaving others, who have been moral and religious persons. 6. In saving some of those who seek salvation, and not others.

    IV. The reasons for this exercise. 1. It is agreeable to God’s design in the creation of the universe to exercise every attribute, and thus to manifest the glory of each of them. 2. The more excellent the creature is over whom God is sovereign, and the greater the matter in which he so appears, the more glorious is his sovereignty.

    APPLICATION 1. Hence we learn how absolutely we are dependent on God in this great matter of the eternal salvation of our souls. 2. Let us with the greatest humility adore the awful and absolute sovereignty of God. 3. Those who are in a state of salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to him, who maketh them to differ from others. 4. Hence we learn what cause we have to admire the grace of God, that he should condescend to become bound to us by covenant; etc. Let us, therefore, labor to submit to the sovereignty of God. 5. To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes - presumption and discouragement.

    SERMON V Feb. Brethren, be followers to ether of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (Philippians 3:17.)

    THE apostle in the foregoing part of the chapter, had been telling how he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and in the text he urges that his example should be followed.

    He does this in two ways. 1. He exhorts the Philippian Christians to follow his example. “ Brethren, be followers together of me.” He exhorts them to be followers of him together; that is, that they should all follow his example with one heart and soul, all agreeing in it, and that all, as much as in them lay, should help and assist each other in it. 2. That they should take particular notice of others that did so, and put peculiar honour on them; which is implied in the expression in the latter part of the verse, “ mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

    Doctrine. We ought to follow the good examples of the apostle Paul. We are to consider, that the apostle did not say this of himself from an ambitious spirit, from a desire of being set up as a pattern, and eyed and imitated as an example to other Christians. His writings are not of any private interpretation, but he spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.

    The Holy Ghost directed that the good examples of the apostle Paul should be noticed by other Christians, and imitated. And we are also to consider, that this is not a command to the Philippians only, to whom the epistle was more immediately directed, but to all those for whose use this epistle was written, for all Christians to the end of the world. For though God so ordered it, that the epistles of the apostles were mostly written on particular occasions and directed to particular churches, yet they were written to be of universal use. And those occasions were so ordered in the wisdom of Divine Providence, that they are a part of that infallible rule of faith and manners, which God has given to the christian church to he their rule in all ages. And the precepts that we find in those epistles, are no more to be regarded as precepts intended only for those to whom the epistle was sent, than the ten commandments, that were spoken from mount Sinai to the children of Israel, are to be regarded as commands intended only for that people. And when we are directed to follow the good examples of the apostle Paul by the Holy Ghost, it is not merely as we are to imitate whatever we see that is good in any one, let him be who he may. But there are spiritual obligations that lie on Christians to follow the good examples of this great apostle. And it hath pleased the Holy Ghost in an especial manner to set up the apostle Paul, not only as a teacher of the christian church, but as a pattern to other Christians. The greatest example of all, that is set before us in the Scripture to imitate, is the example of Jesus Christ, which he set us in his human nature, and when in his state of humiliation, This is presented to us not only as a great pattern, but as a perfect rule. And the example of no man is set forth, as our rule, but the example of Christ, We are commanded to follow the examples which God himself set us, or the acts of the divine nature. Ephes. 5:1. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” And Matthew 5:48. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But the example of Christ Jesus, when on earth, Is more especially our pattern. For, though the acts of the divine nature have the highest possible perfection, and though his inimitable perfection is our best example, yet God is so much above us, his nature so infinitely different from ours, that it is not possible that his acts should be so accommodated to our nature and circumstances, as to be an example of so great and general use, as the perfect example in our nature which Christ has set us. Christ, though a divine person, was man, as we are men; and not only so, but he was, in many respects, a partaker of our circumstances. He dwelt among men. He depended on food and raiment, and such outward supports of life, as we do. He was subject to the changes of time, and the afflictions and calamities of this evil world, and to abuse from men’s corruptions, and to temptations from Satan, as we are; was subject to the same law and rule that we are, used the same ordinances, and had many of our trials, and greater trials than we. So that Christ’s example is the example that is chiefly offered in Scripture for our imitation. But yet the example of some that are fallen creatures, as we are, may in some respects be more accommodated to our circumstances, and more fitted for our instructions, than the example of Jesus Christ. For though he became man as we are, and was like us, and was in our circumstances in so many respects, yet in other things there was a vast difference, he was the head of the church, and we are the members. He is Lord of all, we are his subjects and disciples. And we need an example, that shall teach and direct us how to behave towards Christ our Lord and head. And this we may have better in some, that have Christ for their Lord as well as we, than in Christ himself. But the greatest difference lies in this, that Christ had no sin, and we all are sinful creatures, all carry about with us a body of sin and death. It is said that Christ was made like to us in all things, sin only excepted. But this was excepted, and therefore there were many things required of us, of which Christ could not give us an example.

    Such as repentance for sin, brokenness of spirit for sin, mortification of lust, warring against sin, And the excellent example of some, that are naturally as sinful as we, has this advantage; that we may regard it as the example of those, who were naturally every way in our circumstances, and laboured under the same natural difficulties, and the same opposition of heart to that which is good, as ourselves; which tends to engage us to give more heed to their example, and the more to encourage and animate us to strive to follow it. And therefore we find that the Scripture does not only recommend the example of Christ, but does also exhibit some mere men, that are of like passions with ourselves, as patterns for us to follow. So it exhibits the eminent saints of the Old Testament, of whom we read in the Scripture, that they inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12. “ That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, a great number of eminent saints are mentioned as patterns for us to follow. Abraham is, in a particular manner, set forth as an example in his faith, and as the pattern of believers. Rum. 4:12.” And the father of circumcision to them, that are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised.” And so the prophets of the Old Testament are also recommended as patterns. James 5:10. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” And so eminently holy men under the New Testament, apostles and others, that God sent forth to preach the gospel, are also examples for Christians to follow. Hebrews 13:7. “ Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” But of all mere men, no one is so often particularly set forth in the Scripture, as a pattern for Christians to follow, as the apostle Paul. Our observing his holy conversation as our example, is not only insisted on in the text, but also 1 Corinthians 4:16. “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” And 11:1 “Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ.” And 1 Thessalonians 1. 6. Where the apostle commends the christian Thessalonians for imitating his example; “ and ye became followers of us.” And 2 Thessalonians 3:7. He insists on this as their duty. “ For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us.”

    For the more full treatment of this subject I shall, I. Particularly mention many of the good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to mutate. Which I shall treat of not merely as a doctrine, but also in the way of II. I shall show under what strict obligation we are to follow the good examples of this apostle.

    I. I shall particularly mention many of those good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to imitate. And that I may be more distinct, I shall, 1. Mention those things that respect his watchfulness for the good of his own soul. 2. Those virtues in him that more immediately respected God and Christ. 3. Those that more immediately respect men. 4. Those that were exercised in his behaviour, both towards God and men. 1. We ought to follow the good example that the apostle Paul has set us in his seeking the good of his own soul.

    First. We should follow him in his earnestness in seeking his own salvation.

    He was not careless and indifferent in this matter; but the kingdom of heaven suffered violence from him. He did not halt between two opinions, or seek with a wavering, unsteady mind, but with the most full determination and strong resolution. He resolved, if it could by any means be possible, that he would attain to the resurrection of the dead. He does not say that he was determined to attain it, if he could, by means that were not very costly or difficult, or by labouring for it a little time, or only now and then, or without any great degree of suffering, or without great loss in his temporal interest. But if by any means he could do it, he would, let the means be easy or difficult. Let it be a short labour and trial, or a long one; let the cross be light or heavy; it was all one to his resolution. Let the requisite means be what they would, if it were possible, he would obtain it.

    He did not hesitate at worldly losses, for he tells us that he readily suffered the loss of all things, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, and in his righteousness. Philippians 3:8,9. It was not with him as it was with the young man, that came kneeling to Christ to inquire of him what he should do to inherit eternal life, and when Christ said, Go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, he went away sorrowful. He was not willing to part with all. If Christ had bid him sell half, it may be he would have complied with it. He had a great desire to secure salvation. But the apostle Paul did not content himself with wishing. He was resolved, if it were possible, that he would obtain it. And when it was needful that he should lose worldly good, or when any great suffering was in his way, it was no cause of hesitation to him. He had been in very comfortable and honourable circumstances among the Jews. He had received the best education that was to be had among them, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and was regarded as a very learned young man. His own nation, the Jews, had a high esteem of him, and he was esteemed for his moral and religious qualifications among them. But when he could not hold the outward benefit of these things and win Christ, he despised them totally, he parted with all his credit and honour. He made nothing of them, that he might win Christ. And instead of being honoured and loved, and living in credit, as before among his own nation, he made himself the object of their universal hatred. He lost all, and the Jews hated him, and persecuted him every where. And when great sufferings were in the way, he willingly made himself conformable to Christ’s death, that he might have a part in his resurrection. He parted with his honour, his ease, his former friends and former acquaintance, his worldly goods and every thing else, and plunged himself into a state of extreme labour, contempt, and suffering; and in this way he sought the kingdom of heaven. He acted in this matter very much as one that is running a race for some great prize, who makes running his great and only business, til he has reached the end of the race, and strains every nerve and sinew, and suffers nothing to divert him, and will not stand to listen to what any one says to him, but presses forward. Or as a man that is engaged in battle, sword in hand, with strong and violent enemies, that seek his life, who exerts himself to his utmost, as for his life. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (1 Corinthians 9:26.)

    When fleshly appetites stood in the way, however importunate they were he utterly denied them and renounced them; they were no impediment in the way of his thorough pursuit of salvation. He would not be subject to the appetites of his body, but made them subject to his soul. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” (1 Corinthians 9:27.)

    Probably there never was a soldier, when he bore his part in storming a city, that acted with greater resolution and violence, as it were forcing his way through all that opposed him, than the apostle Paul in seeking the kingdom of heaven. We have not only his own word for it; the history we have of his life, written by St. Luke, shows the same. Now those, who seek their salvation, ought to follow this example. Persons who are concerned for their salvation, sometimes inquire what they shall do. Let them do as did the apostle Paul; seek salvation in the way he (lid, with the like violence and resolution. Those that make this inquiry, who are somewhat anxious year after year, and complain that they have not obtained any comfort, would do well to ask themselves, whether they seek salvation in any measure in this way, with that resolution and violence of which he set them an example. Alas, are they not very far indeed from it? Can it in any proper sense be said, that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence at their hands?

    Secondly. The apostle did not only thus earnestly seek salvation ‘before his conversion and hope, but afterwards also. What he says in the 3rd chapter of Philippians of his suffering the loss of all things, that he might be found in Christ, and its being the one thing that he did to seek salvation; and also what he says of his so running as not in vain, but as resolving to win the prize of salvation, and keeping under his body that he might not be a castaway; were long after his conviction, and after he had renounced all hope of his own good estate by nature. If being a convinced sinner excuses a man from seeking salvation any more, or makes it reasonable that he should cease his earnest care and labour for it, certainly the apostle might have been excused, when he had not only already attained true grace, but such eminent degrees of it. To see one of the most eminent saints that ever lived, if not the most eminent of all, so exceedingly engaged in seeking his own salvation, ought for ever to put to shame those who are a thousand degrees below him, and are but mere infants to him, if they have any grace at all; who yet excuse themselves from using any violence after the kingdom of heaven now, because they have attained already, who free themselves from the burden of going on earnestly to seek salvation with this, that they have finished the work, they have obtained a hope. The apostle, as eminent as he was, did not say within himself, “I am converted, and so am sure of salvation. Christ has promised it me; why need I labour any more to secure it Yea, I am not only converted, but I have obtained great degrees of grace.” But still he is violent after salvation. He did not keep looking back on the extraordinary discoveries he enjoyed at his first conversion, and the past great experience he had had from time to time. He did not content himself with the thought, that he possessed the most wonderful testimonies of God’s favour, and of the love of Christ, already, that ever any enjoyed, even to his being caught up to the third heavens; but he forgot the things that were behind. He acted as though he did not consider that he had yet attained an interest in Christ. Philippians 3:11,12,13,14. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead; not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The apostle still sought that he might win Christ and his righteousness, and attain to his resurrection, not as though he had attained it already, or had already obtained a title to the crown, And this is especially the thing in which he calls on us to imitate his example in the text. It was not because Paul was at a loss whether he was truly converted or not, that he was still so earnest in seeking salvation, He not only thought that he was converted, and should go to heaven when he died, but he knew and spake particularly about it in this very epistle, in the twenty-first verse of the first chapter. “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” And in the foregoing verse he says, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with ad boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.” The apostle knew that though he was converted, yet there remained a great work that he must do, in order to his salvation. There was a narrow way to eternal glory, through which he must pass, and never could come to heaven in any other way. He knew it was absolutely necessary for him earnestly to seek salvation still; he knew there was no going to heaven in a slothful way. And therefore he did not seek salvation the less earnestly, for his having hope and assurance, but a great deal more. We nowhere read so much of his earnestness and violence for the kingdom of heaven before he was converted, as afterwards. The apostle’s hope was not of a nature to make him slothful; it had a contrary effect. The assurance he had of victory, together with the necessity there was of fighting, engaged him to fight not as one that beat the air, but as one that wrestled with principalities and powers. Now this example the apostle does especially insist in the text that we ought to follow. And this should induce all present who think themselves converted, to inquire whether they seek salvation never the less earnestly, because they think it is well with them, and that they are now sure of heaven. Most certainly if the apostle was in the right way of acting, we in this place are generally in the wrong. For nothing is more apparent than that it is not thus with the generality of professors here, but that it is a common thing after they think they are safe, to be far less diligent and earnest in religion than before.

    Thirdly. The apostle did not only diligently seek heaven after he knew he was converted, but was earnestly cautious lest he should be damned; as appears by the passage already cited. “But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Here you see the apostle is very careful lest he should be a castaway, and denies his carnal appetites, and mortifies his flesh, for that reason. He did not say, “I am safe, I am sure I shall never be lost; why need I take any further care respecting it?” Many think because they suppose themselves converted, and so safe, that they have nothing to do with the awful threatenings of God’s word, and those terrible denunciations of damnation that are contained in it. When they hear them, they hear them as things which belong only to others, and not at all to themselves, as though there were no application of what is revealed in the Scripture respecting hell, to the godly. And therefore, -when they hear awakening sermons about the awful things that God has threatened to the wicked, them do not hear them for themselves, but only for others. But it was not thus with this holy apostle, who certainly was as safe from hell, and as far from a damnable state, as any of us. He looked upon himself as still nearly concerned in God’s threatenings of eternal damnation, notwithstanding all his hope, and all his eminent holiness, and therefore gave great diligence, that he might avoid eternal damnation. For he considered that eternal misery was as certainly connected with a wicked life as ever it was, and that it was absolutely necessary that he should still keep under his body, and bring it into subjection, in order that he might not be damned; because indulging the lusts of the body and being damned were more surely connected together. The apostle knew that this conditional proposition was true concerning him, as ever it was. “If I live wickedly, or do not live in a way of universal obedience to God’s commands, I shall certainly be a castaway.” This is evident, because the apostle mentions a proposition of this nature concerning himself in that very chapter where he says, he kept under his body lest he should be a castaway.

    For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:16.”) What necessity was there upon the apostle to preach the gospel, though God had commanded him, for he was already converted, and was safe; and if he had neglected to preach the gospel, how could he have perished after he was converted? But yet this conditional proposition was still true; if he did not live a life of obedience to God, woe would be to him; woe to him, if he did not preach the gospel. The connexion still held. It is impossible a man should go any where else than to hell in a way of disobedience to God.

    And therefore he deemed it necessary for him to preach the gospel on that account, and on the same account he deemed it necessary to keep under his body, lest he should be a castaway. The connexion between a wicked life and damnation is so certain, that if a man lives a wicked life, it proves that all his supposed experiences are nothing. If a man at the last day be found a worker of iniquity, nothing else will be inquired of about him. Let him pretend what he will, Christ will say to him and all others like him,” Depart from me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity.” And God has revealed these threatenings and this connexion, not only to deter wicked men, but also godly men, from sin. And though God will keep men that are converted from damnation, yet this is the means by which he will keep them from it; viz, he will keep them from a wicked life. And though he will keep them from a wicked life, vet this is one means by which he will keep them from it, viz. by their own caution to avoid damnation, and by his threatenings of damnation if they should live a wicked life. We have another remarkable instance in Job, who was an eminently holy man, yet avoided sin with the utmost care, because he would avoid destruction from God. Job 31:Surely we have as much cause to be cautious, that we do not expose ourselves to destruction from God, as holy Job bad. We have not a greater stock of goodness than he. The apostle directs Christians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12. And it is spoken of as the character of a true saint, that he trembles at God’s word; Isaiah 66:2. which is to tremble especially at the awful threatenings of it, as Job did. Whereas the manner of many now is, whenever they think they are converted, to throw by those threatenings of God’s word, as if they had no more to do with them, because they suppose they are converted, and out of danger. Christ gave his disciples, even those of them that were converted, as well as others, directions to strive for salvation; because broad was the way that leads to destruction, and men are so apt to walk in that way and be damned. Matthew 7:13,14. “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

    Fourthly. The apostle did not seek salvation by his own righteousness.

    Though his sufferings were so very great, his labours so exceedingly abundant, yet he never accounted them as righteousness. He trod it under his feet, as utterly insufficient to recommend him to God. He gave diligence that he might be found in Christ, not having on his own righteousness, which is of God, through faith, as in the foregoing part of the chapter from which the text is taken, beginning with the fourth verse.

    Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having on mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

    Fifthly. In those earnest labours which he performed, he had respect to the recompence of the reward. He did it for an incorruptible crown. Corinthians 9:25. He sought a high degree of glory, for he knew the more he laboured the more he should be rewarded, as appears from what he tells the Corinthians. “He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.” And 1 Con. 3:8. “ Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour.”

    That he had respect to that crown of glory, which his Master had promised, in those great labours and sufferings, is evident from what he says to Timothy ,a little before his death, 2 Timothy 4:7,8. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” All Christians should follow his example in this also; they should not content themselves with the thought, that they have goodness enough to carry them to heaven, but should earnestly seek high degrees of glory; for the higher degrees of glory are promised to extraordinary labours for God, for no other reason, but that we should seek them. 2. I proceed to mention some of the virtues of Paul, that more immediately respect God and Christ, in which we ought to follow his example.

    First. He was strong in faith. It may be truly said of him that he lived by faith. His faith seemed to be even without the least appearance of diffidence or doubt in his words or actions, but all seemed to proclaim, that he had God and Christ and the invisible world continually in view. Such a faith, that was in continual exercise in him, he professes, in 2 Corinthians 5:6,7,8. “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” He always speaks of God and Christ and things invisible and future, as if he certainly knew them, and. then saw them as fully and certainly as we see any thing that is immediately before our bodily eyes. He spoke as though he certainly knew, that God’s promise of eternal life should be accomplished, and gives this as the reason why he laboured so abundantly, and endured all manner of temporal sufferings and death, and was always delivered unto death for Christ’s sake. 2 Corinthians 4:11, etc. “For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” He speaks of his earnest expectation and hope of the fulfilment of God’s promises. And a little before his death, when he was a prisoner, and when he knew that be was like to bear the trial of martyrdom, which is the greatest trial of faith, he expresses his faith in Christ in the strongest terms. 2 Timothy 1:12. “For the which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Such an example may well make us ashamed; for how weak and unsteady is the faith of most Christians! If now and then there seems to be a lively exercise of faith, giving the person at that time a firm persuasion and confidence; yet how short are such exercises, how soon do they vanish! How often is faith shaken with one temptation; how often are the exercises of it interrupted with doubting, and how much is exhibited of a diffident, vibrating spirit! How little does our faith accomplish in times of trial; bow often and how easily is our confidence in God shaken and interrupted, and how frequently does unbelief prevail! This is much to the dishonour of our Saviour Jesus Christ, as well as very painful to us. What a happy and glorious lot it is to live such a life of faith, as Paul lived! How far did he soar on the wings of his strong faith above those little difficulties, that continually molest us, and are ready to overcome us! Seeing we have such a blessed example set before us in the Scriptures, let it prompt us earnestly to seek, that we may soar higher also.

    Secondly. Another virtue in which we should follow his example, is his great love to Christ. The Corinthians, who saw how the apostle acted, how he laboured, and how he suffered, and could see no worldly motive, were astonished. They wondered what it was, that so wonderfully influenced and actuated the man. The apostle says, that he was a spectacle to the world.

    But this was the immediate principle that moved him; his strong, his intense love to his glorious Lord and Master. This love constrained him, that he could do nothing else than strive and labour and seek for his salvation. This account he gives of it himself 2 Corinthians 5:14. “ The love of Christ constraineth us.” He had such a delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the knowledge and contemplation of him, that he tells us, he “counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” He speaks in very positive terms. He does not say merely, that he hopes he loves Christ, so as to despise other things in comparison of the knowledge of him; but” yea, doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.” And he assigns this reason why he even gloried in his sufferings for Christ’s sake; because the love of God was shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Ghost. Romans 5:5. This expression seems to imply that he sensibly felt that holy affection, sweetly and powerfully diffused in his soul, like some precious, fragrant ointment.

    And how does he triumph in his love to Christ in the midst of his sufferings! Romans 8:35,36,37. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that hath loved us.”

    May not this make us ashamed of our cold, dead hearts that we hear so often of Christ, and of his glorious excellencies and his wonderful love, with so little emotion, our hearts, being very commonly frozen up like a clod of earth by worldly affections. And it may be that now and then with much difficulty we persuade ourselves to do a little or expend a little for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom; and then are ready to boast of it, that we have done so nobly. Such supe or examples as we have are enough to make us for ever blush for our own attainments in the love of Christ, and rouse us earnestly to follow after those who have gone so far beyond us.

    Thirdly. The apostle lived in a day when Christianity was greatly despised; yet he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Christians were every where despised by the great men of the world. Almost all those that made any figure in the world, men in honourable stations, men of learning, and men of wealth, despised Christianity, and accounted it a mean, contemptible thing to he a Christi an, a follower and worshipper of a poor, crucified man. To be a Christian was regarded as what ruined a man’s reputation. Christians were every where looked upon as fools, and were derided and mocked. They were the meanest of mankind, the offscouring of the world. This was a great temptation to Christians to he ashamed of the gospel. And the apostle Paul was more especially in such circumstances, as exposed him to this temptation. For before be was a Christian, he was in great reputation among his own countrymen. He was esteemed a young man of more than ordinary proficiency in learning, and was a man of high distinction among the Pharisees, a class of men of the first standing among the Jews. in times when religion is much despised, great men are more ready to be ashamed of it than others. Many of the great seem to think, that to appear religious men would make them look little. They do not know how to comply with showing a devout spirit, a spirit of supreme love to God, and a strict regard to God’s commands. But yet the apostle was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ any where, or before any person. He was not ashamed of it among his own countrymen, the Jews, before their rulers, and scribes, and great men, but ever boldly professed it, and confronted them in their opposition. When he was at Athens, the chief seat of learning and of learned men in the world, though the learned men and philosophers there despised his doctrine, and called him a babbler for preaching the gospel; yet he felt no shame, but boldly disputed with and confounded those great philosophers, and converted some of them. And when he came to Rome, the metropolis and mistress of the world, where resided the emperor, and senators, and the chief rulers of the world, he was not ashamed of the gospel there. He tells the Romans; “I am ready to pi-each the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The apostle was greatly derided and despised for preaching a crucified Jesus. 1 Corinthians 4:13. “We are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” And in the tenth verse he says, “ We are fools for Christ’s sake.” They were every where accounted and called fools. Yet the apostle was so far from being ashamed of the crucified Jesus, that he gloried in him above all things. Galatians 6:14. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here is an example for us to follow, if at any time we fall iii among those who hold religion in contempt, and will despise us for our pretensions to religion, and will be ready to deride us for being so precise, and look upon us as fools; that we may not be ashamed of religion, and yield to sinful compliances with vain and loose persons, lest we should appear singular, and be looked upon as ridiculous. Such a meanness of spirit possesses many persons, who are not worthy to be called Christians; and all such as Christ will be ashamed of when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

    Fourthly. Another virtue in which we ought to follow the apostle, was his contempt of the world, and his heavenly-mindedness. He contemned all the vain enjoyments of the world. He despised its riches. Acts 20:33. “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.” He despised the pleasures of the world. “I keep under my body.” The apostle’s pleasures were in the sufferings of his body, instead of the gratification of its carnal appetites. Corinthians 12:10. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.” He despised the honours of the world. 1 Thessalonians 2:6. “Nor of men sought we glory; neither of you, nor yet of others.” He declares that the world was crucified unto him, and he unto the world. These were not the things that the apostle sought, but the things that were above, that were out of sight to other men. 2 Corinthians 4:18. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” He longed greatly after heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:4. “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up in life.” And he tells us, that he knew no man after the flesh; that is, he did not look upon the men or things of this world, or regard them as related to the world, or as they respected the present life; but he considered all men and all things as they had relation to a spiritual nature, and to another world. In this the apostle acted as becomes a Christian; for Christians, those that are indeed so, are people that belong not to this world, and therefore, it is very unbecoming in them to have their minds taken up about these things. The example of Paul may make all such persons ashamed, who have their minds chiefly occupied about the things of the world, about gaining estates, or acquiring honours; and yet would be accounted fellow-disciples with the apostle, partakers of the same labours, and fellow-heirs of the same heavenly inheritance. And it should prompt us to strive for more indifference to the world, and for more heavenly-mindedness.

    Fifthly. We ought also to follow the example of the apostle in his abounding in prayer and praise. He was very earnest, and greatly engaged in those duties, and continued in them, as appears from many passages.

    Romans 1:8. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.” Ephesians 1:15,16. “Wherefore I also, after i heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” Colossians 1:3. “We give thanks to God, and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2,3. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” And chapter 3:9, 10. “For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly, that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” 2 Timothy 1:3. “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers, night and day.”

    Sixthly. We ought to follow him in his contentment under the allotments of Divine Providence, He was the subject of a vast variety of dispensations of Providence. He went through a great many changes, and was almost continually in suffering circumstances, sometimes in one respect, sometimes in another, and sometimes the subject of a great many kinds of suffering together. But yet he had attained to such a degree of’ submission to the will of God, as to be contented in every condition, and under all dispensations towards him. Philippians 4:11,12,13. “Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know_how to abound.

    Every where, and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” What a blessed temper and disposition of mind was this to which Paul had arrived; and how happy is that man of whom it can now be said with truth! He is, as it were, out the reach of every evil. Nothing can touch him so as to disturb his rest, for he rests inn every thing that God orders.

    Seventhly. We should follow the apostle in his great caution in giving an account of his experience; not to represent more of himself in his words, than men should see in his deeds. In 2 Corinthians he gives somewhat of an account how he had been favoured with visions and revelations, and had been caught up to the third heavens. And in the sixth verse, intimating that he could relate more, he breaks off, and forbears to say any thing further respecting his experience, And he gives this reason for it; viz. that he would avoid, in what he relates of himself, giving occasion for any one to be disappointed in him, in expecting more from him, by his own account of his experience and revelations, than he should see or hear of him in his conversation. His words are, “for though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth; but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he beareth of me.” Some may wonder at this in such a man as the apostle, and may say, Why should a man so eminent in his conversation, be so cautious in this matter? Why need he be afraid to declare all the extraordinary things that he had witnessed, since his life was so agreeable, so eminently answerable to his experience? But yet you see the apostle forbore upon this very account. He knew there was great need of caution in this matter. He knew that if in giving an account of his extraordinary revelations, he should give rise to an expectation of too great things in his conversation, and should not live answerably to that expectation, it would greatly wound religion. He knew that its enemies would be ready to say presently, “Who is this? The man that gives so extraordinary an account of his visions and revelations, and peculiar tokens of God’s favour to him; does he live no more conformably to it?” But if such a man as the apostle, so eminent in his life, was so cautious in this respect; surely we have need to be cautious, who fail so much more in our example than he did, and in whose conversation the enemy may find so much more occasion to speak reproachfully of religion. This teaches us that it would be better to refrain wholly from boasting of our experience, than to represent ourselves as better than our deeds and conversation represent us. For men will compare one with the other. And if they do not see a correspondence between them, this will be much more to the dishonour of God, than our account will be to his honour. Let Christians, therefore, be warned to be ever cautious in this respect, after the great example of the apostle. 3. I shall mention some of those virtues of the apostle, that more immediately respected men, in which we ought to follow his example.

    First. His meekness under abuses, and his love to his enemies. There were multitudes that hated him, but there is no appearance of his hating any. The greater art of the world where he went, were his enemies. But e was the friend of every one, and laboured and prayed earnestly for the good of all.

    And when he was reproached and derided and buffeted, still it was with meekness and gentleness of spirit that he bore all, and wished well to them none the less, and sought their good. I Corinthians 4:12, 13. “Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat.” In that period of his great sufferings when he went tip to Jerusalem, and there was such an uproar about him, and the people were in so furious a rage against him, eagerly thirsting for his blood; he discovered no anger or ill will towards his persecutors. - At that time when he was a prisoner through their malice, and stood before king Agrippa, and Agrippa said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian; and his blood-thirsty enemies were standing by; he replied, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” He wished that his accusers, and those who had bound themselves with an oath that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed him, had all of them as great privileges and as much of the favour of heaven as himself; and that they were altogether as he was, except his bonds and imprisonment, and those afflictions which they had brought upon him. He did not desire that they should be like him in that affliction, though it was the fruit of their own cruelty. And when some of the Corinthians, whom he had instructed and converted from heathenism, had dealt ill by him, had hearkened to some false teachers, that had been among them, who hated and reproached the apostle; he tells them, in Corinthians 12:15. notwithstanding these abuses, that still he would very gladly spend and be spent for them, though the more abundantly he loved them, the less he should be loved by them. If they returned him no thanks for his love, but only ill will and ill treatment, still he stood ready to spend and be spent for them. And though the apostle was so hated, and had suffered so many abuses from the unbelieving Jews, yet how does he express his love to them.? He prayed earnestly for them. Rom, 10:1. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israelis, that they might be saved.” And he went mourning for them. -He went about with a heavy heart, and with continual grief and sorrow, from compassion for them, under the calamities of which they were the subjects; and he declares in the most solemn manner, that he had so great desire for their salvation, that he could find it in his heart to wish himself accursed from Christ for them, and to be offered tip a sacrifice, if that might be a means of their salvation.

    Romans 9:1,2,3. We are to understand it of a temporal curse. He could be willing to die an accursed death, and so be made a curse for a time, as Christ was, if that might he a means of salvation to them. How are those reproved by this, who, when they are abused and suffer reproach or injury, have thereby indulged a spirit of hatred against their neighbour, a prejudice whereby they are always apt to entertain a distrust, and to seek and embrace opportunities against them, and to be sorry for their prosperity, and glad at their disappointments.

    Secondly. He delighted in peace. When any contention happened among Christians, he was exceedingly grieved by it. As when he heard of the contentions that broke out in the Corinthian church. He intimates to the Philippians, how he should rejoice at their living in love and Peace, and therefore earnestly entreats them that they should so live. Philip. 2:1, 2. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

    And he studied those things that should make for peace. To that end he yielded to every one as much as possible in those things that were lawful, and complied with the weakness and humours of others oftentimes, for the sake of peace. He declares that though he was free from all men, yet he had made himself servant of all. To the Jews he became as a Jew; to them that were under the law, as under the law; to them that were without law, as without law; to the weak he became as weak. He rather chose to please others than himself, for the sake of peace, and the good of their souls. Corinthians. 10:33. “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

    Thirdly. He was of a most tender compassionate spirit towards any that were in affliction, he showed such a spirit especially in the case of the incestuous Corinthian. The crime was very great, and the fault of the church was great in suffering such wickedness among them, and this occasioned the apostle to write with some sharpness to them respecting it, But when the apostle perceived that his reproof was laid to heart by the Corinthian Christians, and that they repented and their hearts were filled with sorrow, though he rejoiced at it, yet he was so affected with their sorrow, that his heart yearned towards them, and he was almost ready to repent that he had written so severely to them. He was full of concern about it, lest his former letter should have filled them with overmuch sorrow. “For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent; for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.” So he had compassion for the incestuous man, though he had been guilty of so vile a crime, and was greatly concerned that he should be comforted. Whenever any Christian suffered or was hurt, the apostle says he felt it and suffered himself. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” (2 Corinthians 11:29.)

    Fourthly. He rejoiced at others’ prosperity and joy. When he saw the soul of any one comforted, the apostle was a sharer with him; his soul was comforted also. When he saw any Christian refreshed in his spirit, his own spirit was refreshed. 2 Corinthians 7:6,7. “Nevertheless, God that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me, so that I rejoiced the more.” “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort; yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.”

    Fifthly. He delighted in the fellowship of God’s people. He longed after them when absent. Philip. i 8. “For God is my record how greatly I long after you in the bowels of Christ.” And also, “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown. So Romans 1:11,12. “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

    Sixthly. He was truly courteous in his behaviour towards others. Though he was so great a man, and had so much honour put upon him of God, yet he was full of courtesy towards all men, rendering to all suitable respect.

    Thus when he was called before Jewish or heathen magistrates, he treated them with the honour and respect due to their places. When the Jews took him in the temple, though they behaved themselves more like devils than men, yet he addresses them in terms of high respect, “Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence:” calling the common Jews his brethren, and saluting the elders and scribes with the title of fathers, though they were a body of infidels. So when he pleads his cause before Festus, a heathen governor, he gives him the title that belonged to him in his station; calling him, Most noble Festus.” His courtesy also appears in his salutations in his epistles. He is particularly careful to mention many persons, directing that his salutations should be given to them. Such a degree of courtesy, in so great a person as this apostle, reproves all those professing Christians, who, though far below him, are not courteous and respectful in their behaviour to their neighbours, and especially to their superiors. Incivility is here reproved, and the too common neglect of Christians is reproved, who do not take strict care, that their children are taught good manners, and politeness, and brought up in a respectful and courteous behaviour towards others. 4. I shall mention those virtues of the apostle that respected both God and men, in which we should imitate his example.

    First. He was a man of a most public spirit; he was greatly concerned for the prosperity of Christ’s kingdom, and the good of his church. We see a great many men wholly engaged iii pursuit of their worldly interests: many who are earnest in the pursuit of their carnal pleasures, many who are eager in the pursuit of honours, and many who are violent in the pursuit of gain; but we probably never saw any man more engaged to advance h is estate, nor more taken up with his pleasures, nor more greedy of honour, than the apostle Paul was about the flourishing of Christ’s kingdom, and the good of the souls of men. The things that grieve other men are outward crosses; losses in estates, or falling under contempt, or bodily sufferings. lint these things grieved not him. He made little account of them. The things that grieved him, were those that hurt the interests of religion; and about those his tears were shed. Thus he was exceedingly grieved, and wept greatly, for the corruptions that had crept into the church of Corinth, which was the occasion of his writing his first epistle to them. 2 (or. 2:4. “ For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you, with many tears.” The things about which other men are jealous, are their worldly advantages and pleasures. If these are threatened, their jealousy is excited, since they are above all things dear to them. But the things that kindled the apostle’s jealousy, were those that seemed to threaten the interests of religion, and the good of the church: 2 Corinthians 11:2,3. “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ, But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” The things at which other men rejoice are their amassing earthly treasures, their being advanced to honours, their being possessed of outward pleasures and delights. But these excited not the apostle’s joy; but when he saw or heard of any thing by which the interests of religion were promoted, and the church of Christ prospered, then he rejoiced: 1 Thessalonians 1:3. “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord. Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” And chapter 2:20. “ Ye are our glory and joy.” He rejoiced at those things, however dear they cost him, how much soever he lost by them in his temporal interest, if the welfare of religion and the good of souls were promoted; Philippians 2:16,17. “holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” He rejoiced at the stedfastness of saints: Colossians 2:5. “ For thought I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.” And he rejoiced at the conviction of sinners, and in whatever tended to it. He rejoiced at any good which was done, though by others, and thought it was done accidentally by his enemies: Philippians 1:15,16,17,18. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife and some also of good will. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds. But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” When the apostle heard any thing of this nature, it was good news to him: 1 Thessalonians 3:6,7. “But now, when Timotheus came from you unto its, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also you therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith.” When he heard such tidings, his heart was wont to be enlarged in the praises of God: Colossians 1:3,4. “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints.” He was not only wont to praise God when he first heard such tidings, but as often as be thought of such things, they were so joyful to him, that he readily praised God. Philippians 1:3,4,5. “1 thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now Let us compare ourselves with such an example, and examine how far we are of such a spirit. Let those on this occasion reflect upon themselves, whose hearts are chiefly engaged in their own private temporal concerns, and are not much concerned respecting the interests of religion and the church of Christ, if they can obtain their private aims; who are greatly grieved when things go contrary to their worldly prosperity, who see religion, as it were, weltering in its blood, without much sorrow of heart. It may be, that they will say; It is greatly to be lamented that there is such declension, and it is a sorrowful thing that sin so much prevails. But if we would look into their hearts, how cold and careless should we see them. Those words are words of course.

    They express themselves thus chiefly, because they think it creditable to lament the decay of religion; but they are ten times as much concerned about other things as these, about their own private interest, or some secular affairs of the town. If any thing seems to threaten their being disappointed in these things, how readily are they excited and alarmed; but how quiet and easy in their spirit, notwithstanding all the dark clouds that appear over the cause and kingdom of Christ, and the salvation of those around them! How quick and how high is their zeal against those, who, they think, unjustly oppose them in their temporal interests; but how low is their zeal, comparatively, against those things that are exceedingly pernicious of the interests of religion! lf their own credit is touched, how are they awakened! but they can see the credit of religion wounded, and bleeding, and dying, with little hearty concern. Most men are of a private, narrow spirit. They are not of the spirit of the apostle Paul, nor of the psalmist, who preferred Jerusalem before his chief joy. Psalm cxxxvii. 6.

    Secondly. We ought to follow the apostle in his diligent and laborious endeavours to do good. We see multitudes incessantly labouring and striving after the world; but not more than the apostle laboured to advance the kingdom of his dear Master, and the good of his fellow-creatures. His work was very great, and attended with great difficulties and opposition; and his labour was answerably great. He laboured abundantly more than any of the apostles: 1 Corinthians 15:10. “I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” How great were the pains he took in preaching and in travelling from place to place over so great part of the world, by sea and land, and probably for the most part on foot, when he travelled by land: instructing and converting the heathen, disputing with gainsayers, and heathen Jews, and heretics, strenuously opposing and fighting against the enemies of the church of Christ, wrestling not with flesh and blood, butt against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places acting the part of a good soldier, as one that goes a warfare; putting on Christ and using the whole armour of God; labouring to establish, and confirm, and build up the saints, reclaiming those that were wandering, delivering those that were insnared, enlightening the dark, comforting the disconsolate, and succouring the tempted; rectifying disorders that had happened in churches, exercising ecclesiastical discipline towards offenders, and admonishing the saints of the covenant of grace; opening and applying the Scriptures, ordaining persons and giving them directions, and assisting those that were ordained; and writing epistles, and sending messengers to one and another part of the church of Christ! He bad the care of the churches lying continually upon him: 2 Corinthians 11:28. “Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” These things occasioned him to be continually engaged in earnest labour. He continued in it night and day, sometimes almost the whole night, preaching and admonishing, as appears by Acts 20:7,11. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow, and continued his speech until midnight. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.”

    And he did all freely, without any view to any temporal gain. He tells the Corinthians that he would gladly spend and be spent for them. Besides his labouring in the work of the gospel, he laboured very much, yea, sometimes night and day, in a handicraft trade to procure subsistence, that he might not be chargeable to others, and so hinder the gospel of Christ: Thessalonians 2:9. “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail, for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” And he continued this course of labour as long as he lived. He never was weary in well-doing; and though he met with continual opposition, and thousands of difficulties, yet nothing discouraged him. But he kept on, pressing forward in this course of hard, constant labour to the end of his life, as appears by what he says just before his death, 2 Timothy 4:6,7. “ I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” And the effects and fruits of the apostle’s labours witnessed for him. The world was blessed by the good he did; not one nation only, but multitudes of nations. The effects of his labours were so great in so many nations before he had laboured twenty years, that the heathens called it his turning the world upside down.

    Acts 17:6--This very man was the chief instrument in that great work of God, the calling of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Roman world.

    And he seems to have done more good, far more good, than any other man ever did from the beginning of the world to this day. He lived after his conversion not much more than thirty years; and in those thirty years he did more than a thousand men commonly do in an age. This example may well make us reflect upon ourselves, and consider how little we do for Christ, and for our fellow-creatures. We profess to be Christians as well as the apostle Paul, and Christ is worthy that we should serve him as Paul did.

    But how small are our labours for God and Christ and our fellowcreatures!

    Though many of us keep ourselves busy, how are our labour and strength spent, and with what is our time filled up? Let us consider ourselves a little, and the manner of spending our time. We labour to provide for ourselves and families, to maintain ourselves in credit, and to make our part good among men. But is that all for which we are sent into the world? Did he who made us and gave us out’ powers of mind and strength of body, and who gives us our time and our talents, give them to us chiefly to be spent in this manner; or in serving him? Many years have rolled over the heads of some of us, and what have we lived for; what have we been doing all this time? How much is the world the better for us?

    Were we here only to eat and to drink, and to devour the good which the earth produces? Many of the blessings of Providence have been conferred upon us; and where is the good that we have done in return? If we had never been born, or if we had died in infancy, of how much good would the world have been deprived of? Such reflections should be made with concern, by those who pretend to he Christians. For certainly God does not plant vines in his vineyard, except for the fruit which he expects they should bring forth. He does not hire labourers into his vineyard, but to do service. They who live only for themselves, live in vain, and shall at last be cut down as cumberers of the earth. Let the example of Paul make us more diligent to do good for the time to come. Men that do but little good are very ready to excuse themselves, and to say, that God has not succeeded their endeavours, But is it any wonder that we have not been succeeded, when we have been no more engaged? When God sees any person thoroughly and earnestly engaged, continuing in it, and really faithful, he is wont to succeed them in some good measure. You see how wonderfully he succeeded the great labours of the apostle.

    Thirdly. He did not only encounter great labours, but he exercised also his utmost skill and contrivance for the glory of God, and the good of his fellow-creatures; “Being crafty, I caught you with guile.” (2 Corinthians 12:16.)

    How do the men of the world not only willingly labour to obtain worldly good, but how much craft and subtlety do they use? And let us consider how it is here among ourselves. How many are our contrivances to secure and advance our own worldly concerns! Who can reckon up the number of all the schemes that have been formed among us, to gain money, and honours, and accomplish particular worldly designs How subtle are we to avoid those things that might hurt us in our worldly interest, and to baffle the designs of those who may be endeavouring to hurt us! But how little is contrived for the advancement of religion, and the good of our neighbours!

    How many schemes are laid by men to promote their worldly designs, where one is laid for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, and the good of men! How frequent are the meetings of neighbours to determine how they may best advance such and such worldly affairs! But how seldom are there such meetings to revive sinking religion, to maintain and advance the credit of the gospel, and to accomplish charitable designs for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, and the comfort and well-being of mankind I May not these considerations justly be a source of lamentation?

    How many men are wise in promoting their worldly interests; but what a shame is it, that so few show themselves wise as serpents and harmless as doves for Christ! And how commonly is it the reverse of what the apostle advises the christian Romans, “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” Is it not often on the contrary with professing Christians, as it was with the people of Judah and Jerusalem; “They are wise to do evil, they have no knowledge?” but to do good Fourthly. The apostle Paul did willingly forego those things that were in themselves lawful, for the furtherance of the interests of religion and the good of men. Thus marriage was a thing lawful for the apostle Paul as well as for other men, as he himself asserts; but he did not use the liberty he had in this matter, because he thought he might be under greater advantages to spread the gospel in a single than a married state. So it was lawful for the apostle to take the other course of life, as in eating and drinking, and freely using all kinds of wholesome food. And it was in itself a lawful thing for the apostle to demand a maintenance of those to whom he preached. But he forbore those things, because he supposed that in his circumstances, and in the circumstances of the church of Christ in that day, he could more advance the interests of religion and the good of men without them. For the gospel’s sake, and for the good of men, he was willing to forego all the outward advantages he could derive from them. 1 Corinthians 8:13. “Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” He would not only avoid those things that were useless in themselves, but those also that gave any occasion to sin, or which led or exposed either himself or others to sin.

    Then it follows in the next chapter, “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free?

    Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you; for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?” The apostle did not only forbear some little things, but he put himself to great difficulties by forbearing those things that were in themselves lawful. It cost him a great deal of labour of body to maintain himself. But yet he willingly laboured, working with his own hands; and as he says, though he was free from all men, yet he made himself the servant of all, that he might gain the more. Let this induce such persons to consider themselves, whether they act altogether as become Christians, who look upon it as a sufficient excuse for all the liberties they take, that the things in which they allow themselves, are in themselves lawful, that they are nowhere forbidden, though they cannot deny but that considered in their circumstances, they are of ill tendency, and expose them to temptation, and really tend to wound the credit and interest of religion, and to be a stumbling-block to others, or as the apostle expresses it, tend to cause others to offend. But they uphold themselves with this, that the things which they practise are not absolutely unlawful in themselves, and therefore they will not hearken to any counsels to avoid them. They think with themselves that it is unreasonable they should be tied up so strictly; that they may not take one and another liberty, and must be so stiff and precise above others. But why did not the apostle talk after their manner?

    Why did not he say within himself, It is unreasonable that I should deny myself lawful meat and drink merely to comply with the consciences of a few weak persons, that are unreasonable in their scruples? Why should I deny myself the comforts of marriage; why should I deny myself that maintenance which Christ himself has ordained for ministers, only to avoid the objection of unreasonable men? But the apostle was of another spirit.

    What he aimed at was by any means to promote the interest of religion, and the good of the church. And he had rather forego all the common comforts and enjoyments of life, than that religion should suffer.

    Fifthly. The apostle willingly endured innumerable and extreme sufferings for the honour of Christ and the good of men. His sufferings were very great; and that not only once or twice, but he went through a long series of sufferings, that continued from the time of his conversion as long as his life lasted. So that his life was not only a life of extraordinary labour, but a life of extreme sufferings also. Labours and sufferings were mixed together, and attended each other to the end of the race which he ran. He endured sufferings of all kinds, even those that cannot consist in the loss of temporal things. He tells us he had suffered the loss of all things, Philippians 3:8. all his former enjoyments, which he had before his conversion, And he endured many kinds of positive afflictions. Corinthians 4:11, 12.” Event unto this present hour, we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.” 2 Corinthians. 6:4-11. “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right an and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. None of’ the apostles went through so great and such various afflictions as he: 2 Corinthians. 11:23-28. “ Are they ministers of Christ? I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” His sufferings were so extreme, that he did not go through a series of sufferings merely, but might be said, as it were, to go through a series of deaths. He did in effect endure the pains of death over and over again almost continually, and therefore he expresses himself as he does. 2 Corinthians 4:9-11.” Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”

    Romans 8:36. “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as’ sheep for the slaughter.” 1 Corinthians 15:31. “I protest by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.’ He was so pursued and pressed by troubles, sometimes outward and inward troubles together, that he had no nest. 2 Corinthians 7:5. “For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side: without were fightings, within were fears.” Sometimes his sufferings were so extreme that his nature seemed just ready to faint under them: 2 Corinthians 1:8. “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” And at last the apostle was deprived of his life. He suffered a violent death at Rome under the hand of that cruel tyrant, Nero, soon after he wrote the second epistle to Timothy. These things he endured for Christ’s sake; for the advancement of his kingdom; as he says, he was always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake. And those he endured also from love to men, and from an earnest desire of their good: 2 Timothy 2:10. “ Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” He knew what afflictions awaited him beforehand; ‘but he would not avoid his duty because of such afflictions.

    He was so resolute in seeking Christ’s glory, and the good of men, that he would pursue these objects, notwithstanding what might befall him: Acts 20:22-24. “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Yet be went through them cheerfully and willingly, and delighted to do God’s will, and to promote others’ good, though it was at this great cost:

    Colossians 1:24.” Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Chinist in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.” And he was never weary. He did not, after he had suffered a long time, excuse himself, and say he thought he had done his part. Now here appears Christianity in its proper colours, To be of such a spirit as this, is to be of such a spirit as Christ so often requires of us, if we would be his disciples. This is to sell all and give to the poor. This is to take up the cross daily and follow Christ. To have such a spirit as this, is to have good evidence of being a Christian indeed, a thorough Christian, one that has given himself to Christ without reserve; one that hates father and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea and his own life also; one that loses his life for Christ’s sake, and so shall find it. And though it is not required of all that they should endure so great sufferings as Paul did; yet it is required and absolutely necessary, that many Christians should be in a measure of this spirit, should be of a spirit to lose all things and suffer all things for Christ, rather than not obey his commands and seek his glory.

    How well may our having such an example as this set before our eyes make us ashamed, who are so backward now and then to lose little things, to put ourselves a little out of our way, to deny ourselves some convenience, to deny our sinful appetites, or to incur the displeasure of a neighbour. Alas! what thought have we of Christianity, to make much of such things as these; to make so many objections, to keep back, and contrive ways to excuse ourselves, when a little difficulty arises! What kind of thoughts had we of being Christians, when we first undertook to be such, or first pretended a willingness to be Christians? Did we never sit down and count the cost, or did we cast it up at this rate, that we thought the whole sum would not amount to such little sufferings as lie in our way?

    II. I now proceed to show under what special obligations we are to follow the good example of this apostle.

    Beside the obligation that rests upon us to follow the good example of all, and beside the eminence of his example, there are some special reasons why we are under greater obligations to be influenced by the good example of this great apostle, than by the very same example in others; This appears if we consider, 1. In general, that those whom God has especially appointed to be teachers in the christian church, he has also set to be examples in his church. It is part of the charge that belongs to teachers, to be examples to others. It is one thing that belongs to their work and office. So this is p art of the charge that the apostle gives to Timothy, “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

    The same charge is given to Titus, “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.” And this is part of the charge the apostle Peter gives to the elders and teachers of the christian church, “The elders which are among you, I exhort; feed the flock of God. Neither being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” Thus Christ, the chief Shepherd of the sheep, whom God ordained to be the greatest teacher, he also ordained to be the greatest example to his church. And so those shepherds and teachers that are under him, according as they are appointed to be teachers, are also to be examples. They are to be guides of the flock in two ways, viz. by teaching and by example, as shepherds lead their flocks in two ways; partly by their voice by calling them, and partly by going before them, and by leading the way. And indeed guiding by word and guiding by example, are but two different ways of teaching; and therefore both alike belong to the office of teachers in the christian church.

    But if this be so, if God has especially set those to be examples in the christian church whom he has made its teachers, then it will follow, that wherever they have left us good examples, those examples are especially to be regarded. For God has doubtless made the duty of teachers towards the church, and the duty of the church towards her teachers. to answer one another. And therefore the charge is mutual. The charge is not only to teachers to set good examples, but the charge is to the church to regard and follow their good examples: Hebrews 13:7. “Remember them which have the rule over you, which have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” It is with respect to the good examples of the teachers of the christian church, as it is with their words, their instructions and exhortations. We ought to hear good instructions and good counsels of any one, let him be whom he may.

    But yet we are under special obligations to hearken to the good instructions and examples of those whom God has made our teachers; for that is the very office to which God has appointed them to teach and to counsel us. 2. There are two things that are to be observed in particular of the apostle Paul, which, from the foregoing general observation, will show that we are under very special obligations to regard and follow his good example.

    First. God hath appointed the apostle Paul not only to be a greater teacher of the christian church in that age in which he lived, but the principal teacher of his church of any mere man in all succeeding ages. He was set of God not only to teach the church then, when be lived, but God has made him our teacher by his inspired writings. The christian church is taught by the apostle still, and has been in every age since he lived, It is not with the penmen of the Scriptures, as it is with other teachers of the christian church. Other teachers are made the teachers of a particular flock in the age in which they live, But the penmen of the Scriptures hath God made to be the teachers of the church universal in ah! ages. And therefore, as particular congregations ought to follow the good examples of their pastors, so the church universal in all ages ought to observe and follow the good examples of the prophets and apostles, that are the penmen of the Scriptures, in all ages. So the apostle James commands us to take the ancient prophets for our example, because they have been appointed of God to be our teachers, and have spoken to us in the name of the Lord.

    James 5:10. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction and patience.” The prophets and apostles, in that God has made them penmen of the Scriptures, are, next to Christ, the foundation of the church of God:

    Ephesians 2:20. “Built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. And Paul, above all the penmen of the Scriptures, is distinguished of God as being made by him the principal teacher of the christian church of any mere man. Moses taught gospel truths under types and shadows, whereby he did, as it were, put a veil over his face. But Paul used great plainness of speech. 2 Corinthians 3:12,13. Moses was a minister of the Old Testament and of the letter, that kills. But the apostle Paul is the principal minister of the New Testament, of the spirit, and not of the letter. 2 Corinthians 3:6,7. Christ has empowered this apostle to be the penmen of more of the New Testament than any other man, and it is by him chiefly that we have the great doctrines of it explained. And God has actually made this apostle the principal founder of the christian church under Christ. He doubtless did more towards it than all the other apostles; and therefore is to be looked upon as the principal shepherd under Christ of the whole flock of Christ, which is a great obligation on the flock to regard and follow his good example.

    Secondly. We, who are Gentiles, are especially under obligations to regard his teaching and example, because it has been mainly by means of this apostle that we have been brought into the christian church. He was the great apostle of the Gentiles; the main instrument of that great work of God, the calling of the Gentiles. It was chiefly by his means that all the countries of Europe came by the gospel. And so it was through his hands that our nation came by the gospel. They either had the gospel from him immediately, or from those who had it from him. Had it not been for the labours of this apostle, our nation might have remained to this day in gross heathenism. . This consideration should especially engage us to regard him as our guide, and should endear his good example to us. The apostle often exhorts those churches, as the church of Corinth, Philippi, and others which he had converted from heathenism, and to which he had been a spiritual father, to be followers of him wherein he followed Christ. And we are some of them. We have been the more remarkably converted from heathenism by this apostle, and we ought to acknowledge him as our spiritual father. And we are obliged to follow his good example as children should follow the good example of their parents.

    I now proceed to a general APPLICATION Of the whole that has been said on this subject, which may be by way of exhortation to all earnestly to endeavour to follow the good example of this great apostle. We have heard what a spirit the apostle manifested, and after what manner he lived in the world; how earnestly he sought his own salvation, and that not only before, but also after, his conversion, and how earnestly cautious he was to avoid eternal damnation, long after he had obtained a saving interest in Christ. We have heard how strong he was in faith, how great was his love to his Lord and Saviour, and how he was not ashamed of the gospel, but gloried in the cross of Christ; how he abounded in prayer and praise; how he contemned the wealth, and pleasures, and glory of the world; how contented he was with the allotments of Providence; how prudent and cautious he was in giving an account of his achievements, lest he should represent more of himself in words than men should see of him in deeds. We have heard how much he suffered under abuses, how he loved his enemies, how he delighted in peace, and rejoiced with those that rejoiced, and wept with those that wept, and delighted in the fellowship of God’s people, and how courteous be was in his behaviour towards others. We have heard of what a public spirit he was, how greatly concerned for the prosperity of Christ’s kingdom and the good of his church, how diligent, laborious, and indefatigable in his endeavours to do good; how he studied for ways and means to promote this end, how he exercised his skill and contrivance, willingly foregoing those things that were in themselves lawful, and willingly enduring innumerable and extraordinary sufferings. My exhortation now is to imitate this example; and to enforce this, I desire that several things may be considered. 1. Let it be considered, why it is that we have so much written of the good example of this apostle, unless that we might follow it. We often read those things in the Holy Scriptures which have now been set before us on this subject; and to what purpose, unless we apply them to ourselves? We had as good never have been informed how well the apostle behaved himself, if we do not endeavour to follow him. We all profess to be Christians, and we ought to form our notions of Christianity from what is written in the Scriptures by the prophets, and from the precepts and excellent examples that are there set before us. One great reason why many professors live no better, walk no more amiably, and are in so many things so unlovely, is, that they have not good notions of Christianity. They do not seem to have a right idea of that religion that is taught us in the New Testament. They have not well learned Christ. The notions that some persons entertain of Christianity are very distorted, and ill conformed to the gospel. The notions of others are very erroneous. They lay the chief stress wrong, upon things on which it ought not to be laid. They place religion almost altogether in some particular duties, leaving out others of great weight, and, it may be, the weightier matters of the law, And the reason why they have no better notions of Christianity is, because they take their notions of it chiefly from those sources whence they ought not to take them. Some take them from the general cry or voice of the people, among whom they live. They see that others place religion merely, if not almost wholly in such and such things. And hence their notions of Christianity are formed. Or they take their notions from the example of particular individuals now living, who are in great reputation for godliness. And their notion of Christianity is, that it consists in being like such persons. Hence they never have just notions of religion: “They, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12.)

    If we would have right notions of Christianity, we should observe those in whom it shone, of whom we have an account in the Scriptures. For they are the examples that God himself has selected to set before us to that end, that from thence we might form our notions of religion; and especially the example of this apostle. God knows how to select examples. If therefore we would have right notions of Christianity, we ought to follow the good example of the apostle Paul. He was certainly a Christian indeed, and an eminent Christian. We have God’s abundant testimony. But Christianity is in itself an amiable thing, and so it appeared in the example of this apostle.

    And if the professors of it would form their notions of it from such examples as those, rather than from any particular customs and examples that we have now, it would doubtless appear much more amiable in their practice than it now does; it would win others. They would not be a stumbling-block. Their light would shine. They would command reverence and esteem, and be of powerful influence. 2. If we follow the good example which this apostle has set us, it will secure to us the like comfortable and sweet influence of God, that he enjoyed through the course of his life. Let us consider what a happy life the apostle lived; what peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, he possessed 2 Corinthians 1:12. “ For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience.” How did he abound with comfort and joy, even in the midst of the greatest afflictions: 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. “ Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comforts wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth in Christ.” In all his tribulation his joy was exceedingly great. He seems to want words to express the greatness of the joy which he possessed continually. He says he was filled with comfort, and was exceedingly joyful: 2 Corinthians 7:4.” I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.” How does the apostle’s love seem to overflow with joy! 2 Corinthians 6:10,11. “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. 0 ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.” How happy is such a life! How well is such happiness worth pursuing! We are ourselves the occasion of our own wounds and troubles. We bring darkness on our own souls. Professing Christians, by indulging their sloth, seek their own ease and comfort; but they defeat their own aim. The most laborious and the most self-denying Christians are the most happy. There are many who are complaining of their darkness, and inquiring what they shall do for light, and the comfortable presence of God. 3. This would be the way to be helped against temptation, and to triumph over our spiritual enemies as the apostle did. Satan assaulted him violently, and men continually persecuted him. The powers of hell combined against him. But God was with him, and made him more than a conqueror. He lived a life of triumph: 2 Corinthians 2:14. “Now thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” Let us consider what an excellent privilege it would be thus to be helped against temptation. What a grief of mind is it to be so often overcome. 4. This would secure us honour from God, and an extraordinary intimacy with him. Moses enjoyed a great intimacy with God, but the apostle Paul in some respects a greater. Moses conversed with God in mount Sinai. Paul was caught up to the third heavens. He had abundant visions and revelations more than he has told us, lest any should think him to boast. He was favoured with more of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit than any other person. And though we cannot expect to be honoured with intimacy with heaven in just the same way, yet if we in good earnest apply ourselves, we may have greater and greater intimacy, so that we may come with boldness, and converse with God as a friend.

    This would be the way to make us great blessings in the world. The apostle, by means of such a spirit and such a behaviour as you have heard, was made the greatest blessing to the world of any who ever lived on earth, except the man Christ Jesus himself. Wherever he went, there went a blessing with him. To have him enter a city was commonly made a greater mercy to it than if the greatest monarch on earth had come there, scattering his treasures around him among the inhabitants. Wherever he went, there did, as it were, a light shine about him, seemingly to enlighten the benighted children of men. Silver and gold he had none. But what he imparted to many thousands was worth mote to them than if he had bestowed upon them the richest jewels of which the Roman emperor was possessed. And he was not only a blessing to that generation, but has been so since his death, by the fruits of what he did in his lifetime, the foundations he then laid, and by the writings which he has left for the good of mankind, to the end of the world. He then was, and ever since has been, a light to the church next in brightness to the Sun of righteousness, And it was by means of his excellent spirit and excellent behaviour that he became such a blessing. Those were the things that God made useful in him for doing so much good. And if we should imitate the apostle in such a spirit and behaviour, the undoubted consequence would he, that we also should be made great blessings in the world; we should not live in vain, but should carry a blessing with us wherever we went. Instead of being cumberers of the ground, multitudes would be fed with our fruit, and would have reason to praise and bless God that he ever gave us a being. Now, how melancholy a consideration may it he to any persons that they have lived to no purpose; that the world would have been deprived of nothing, if they had never been born; and it may be, have been better without them than with them! How desirable is it to be a blessing! How great was the promise made to Abraham, “In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed!” 6. For us to follow the good example of the apostle Paul, would be the way for us to die as he did. 2 Timothy 4:6-8. “ For I am now read’ to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” 7. This would secure us a distinguished crown of glory hereafter. It is thought by some, and not without great probability, that the apostle Paul is the very next in glory to the man Jesus Christ himself. This is probable from his having done more good than any, and from his having done it through so great labours and sufferings. The apostle tells us, “ Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

    I shall conclude with mentioning some things as encouragements for us to endeavour to follow the excellent example of this great apostle. Many may be ready to say that it is in vain for them to try. The apostle was a person so greatly distinguished; it is in vain for them to endeavour to be like him.

    But for your encouragement, consider, 1. That the apostle was a man of like passions with us.

    He had naturally the same heart, the same corruptions; was under the same circumstances, the same guilt, and the same condemnation. There is this circumstance that attends the apostle’s example to encourage us to endeavour to imitate him,- which did not attend the example of Christ. And yet we are called upon to imitate the example of Christ, This is probably one main reason why not only the example of Christ, but also those of mere men, ate set before us in the Scriptures. Though you may think you have no great reason to hope to come up to the apostle’s degree, yet that is no reason why you should not make his good example your pattern, and labour, as far as in you lies, to copy after him. 2. This apostle, before he was converted, was a very wicked man, and a vile persecutor. He often speaks of it himself. He sinned against great light. 3. He had much greater hinderances and impediments to eminent holiness from without than any of us have. His circumstances made it more difficult for him. 4. The same God, the same Saviour, and the same head of divine influence, are ready to help our sincere endeayours, that helped him. Let us therefore not excuse ourselves, but in good earnest endeavour to follow so excellent an example. And then, however weak we are in ourselves, we may hope to experience Christ’s support, and be able to say from our own experience, as the apostle did before him, “ when I am weak, then am I strong.”

    SERMON CHRIST’S AGONY “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) OUR Lord Jesus Christ, in his original nature, was infinitely above all suffering, for he was “God over all, blessed for evermore;” but, when he became man, he was not only capable of suffering, but partook of that nature that is remarkably feeble and exposed to suffering. The human nature, on account of its weakness, is in Scripture compared to the grass of the field, which easily withers and decays. So it is compared to a leaf; and to the dry stubble; and to a blast of wind: and the nature of feeble man is said to be but dust and ashes, to have its foundation in the dust, and to be crushed before the moth. It was this nature, with all its weakness and exposedness to sufferings, which Christ, who is the Lord God omnipotent, took upon him. He did not take the human nature on him in its first, most perfect and vigorous state, but in that feeble forlorn state which it is in since the fall; and therefore Christ is called “a tender plant,” and “a root out of a dry ground.” Isaiah 53:2. “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.”

    Thus, as Christ’s principal errand into the world was suffering, so, agreeably to that errand, he came with such a nature and in such circumstances, as most made way for his suffering; so his whole life was filled up with suffering, he began to suffer in his infancy, but his suffering increased the more he drew near to the close of his life. His suffering after his public ministry began, was probably much greater than before; and the latter part of the time of his public ministry seems to have been distinguished by suffering. The longer Christ lived in the world, the more men saw and heard of him, the more they hated him. His enemies were more and more enraged by the continuance of the opposition that he made to their lusts; and the devil having been often baffled by him, grew more and more enraged, and strengthened the battle more and more against him: so that the cloud over Christ’s head grew darker and darker, as long as he lived in the world, till it was in its greatest blackness when he hung upon the cross and cried out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!

    Before this, it was exceedingly dark, in the time of his agony in the garden; of which we have an account in the words now read; and which I propose to make the subject of my present discourse. The word agony properly signifies an earnest strife, such as is witnessed in wrestling, running, or fighting. And therefore in Luke 13:24. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able;” the word in the original, translated strive, is agwnizesqe. “Agonize, to enter in at the strait gate.” The word is especially used for that sort of strife, which in those days was exhibited in the Olympic games, in which men strove for the mastery in running, wrestling, and other such kinds of exercises; and a prize was set up that was bestowed on the conqueror. Those, who thus contended, were, in the language then in use, said to agonize. Thus the apostle in his epistle to the Christians of Corinthiansinth, a city of Greece, where such games were annually exhibited, says in allusion to the strivings of the combatants, “And every man that striveth for the mastery,” in the original, every one that agonizeth, “is temperate in all things.” The place where those games were held was called Agwn, or the place of agony; and the word is particularly used in Scripture for that striving in earnest prayer wherein persons wrestle with God: they are said to agonize, or to be in agony, in prayer. So the word is used Romans 15:30. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me:” in the original sunagwnizesqai moi, that ye agonize together with me. So Colossians 4:12. “Always laboring fervently for you in prayer, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God:” in the original agwnizwn agonizing for you. So that when it is said in the text that Christ was in an agony, the meaning is, that his soul was in a great and earnest strife and conflict. It was so in two respects: 1. As his soul was in a great and sore conflict with those terrible and amazing views and apprehensions which he then had. 2. As he was at the same time in great labor and earnest strife with God in prayer.

    I propose therefore, in discoursing on the subject of Christ’s agony, distinctly to unfold it, under these two propositions, I. That the soul of Christ in his agony in the garden had a sore conflict with those terrible and amazing views and apprehensions, of which he was then the subject.

    II. That the soul of Christ in his agony in the garden had a great and earnest labor and struggle with God in prayer.

    I. The soul of Christ in his agony in the garden had a sore conflict with those terrible amazing views and apprehensions, of which he was then the subject.

    In illustrating this proposition I shall endeavor to show, 1. What those views and apprehensions were. 2. That the conflict or agony of Christ’s soul was occasioned by those views and apprehensions. 3. That this conflict was peculiarly great and distressing; and, 4. What we may suppose to be the special design of God in giving Christ those terrible views and apprehensions, and causing him to suffer that dreadful conflict, before he was crucified.

    I proposed to show, First, What were those terrible views and amazing apprehensions which Christ had in his agony. This may be explained by considering, 1. The cause of those views and apprehensions; and, 2. The manner in which they were then experienced. 1. The cause of those views and apprehensions, which Christ had in his agony in the garden, was the bitter cup which he was soon after to drink on the cross. The sufferings which Christ underwent in his agony in the garden, were not his greatest sufferings; though they were so very great.

    But his last sufferings upon the cross were his principal sufferings; and therefore they are called “the cup that he had to drink.” The sufferings of the cross, under which he was slain, are always in the Scriptures represented as the main sufferings of Christ; those in which especially “he bare our sins in his own body,” and made atonement for sin. His enduring the cross, his humbling himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, is spoken of as the main thing wherein his sufferings appeared. This is the cup that Christ had set before him in his agony. It is manifest that Christ had this in view at this time, from the prayers which he then offered. According to Matthew, Christ made three prayers that evening while in the garden of Gethsemane, and all on this one subject, the bitter cup that he was to drink. Of the first, we have an account in Matthew 26:39. “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt:” of the second in the 42nd verse, “He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done:” and of the third in the 44th verse, “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.”

    From this it plainly appears what it was of which Christ had such terrible views and apprehensions at that time. What he thus insists on in his prayers, shows on what his mind was so deeply intent. It was his sufferings on the cross, which were to be endured the next day, when there should be darkness over all the earth, and at the same time a deeper darkness over the soul of Christ, of which he had now such lively views and distressing apprehensions. 2. The manner in which this bitter cup was now set in Christ’s view. (1.) He had a lively apprehension of it impressed at that time on his mind. He had an apprehension of the cup that he was to drink before.

    His principal errand into the world was to drink that cup, and he therefore was never unthoughtful of it, but always bore it in his mind, and often spoke of it to his disciples. Thus Matthew 16:21. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Again ch. 20:17, 18, 19. “And Jesus going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death. And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”

    The same thing was the subject of conversation on the mount with Moses and Elias when he was transfigured. So he speaks of his bloody baptism, Luke 12:50. “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” He speaks of it again to Zebedee’s children, Matthew 20:22. “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.” He spake of his being lifted up. John 8:28. “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”

    John 12:34. “The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?”

    So he spake of destroying the temple of his body, John 2:19. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

    And he was very much in speaking of it a little before his agony, in his dying counsels to his disciples in the 12th and 13th ch. of John. Thus this was not the first time that Christ had this bitter cup in his view. On the contrary, he seems always to have had it in view. But it seems that at this time God gave him an extraordinary view of it. A sense of that wrath that was to be poured out upon him, and of those amazing sufferings that he was to undergo, was strongly impressed on his mind by the immediate power of God; so that he had far more full and lively apprehensions of the bitterness of the cup which he was to drink than he ever had before, and these apprehensions were so terrible, that his feeble human nature shrunk at the sight, and was ready to sink. 2. The cup of bitterness was now represented as just at hand. He had not only a more clear and lively view of it than before; but it was now set directly before him, that he might without delay take it up and drink it; for then, within that same hour, Judas was to come with his band of men, and he was then to deliver up himself into their hands to the end that he might drink this cup the next day; unless indeed he refused to take it, and so made his escape from that place where Judas would come; which he had opportunity enough to do if he had been so minded. Having thus shown what those terrible views and apprehensions were which Christ had in the time of his agony; I shall endeavor to show, II. That the conflict which the soul of Christ then endured was occasioned by those views and apprehensions. The sorrow and distress which his soul then suffered, arose from that lively, and full, and immediate view which he had then given him of that cup of wrath; by which God the Father did as it were set the cup down before him, for him to take it and drink it. Some have inquired, what was the occasion of that distress and agony, and many speculations there have been about it, but the account which the Scripture itself gives us is sufficiently full in this matter, and does not leave room for speculation or doubt. The thing that Christ’s mind was so full of at that time was, without doubt, the same with that which his mouth was so full of: it was the dread which his feeble human nature had of that dreadful cup, which was vastly more terrible than Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. He had then a near view of that furnace of wrath, into which he was to be cast; he was brought to the mouth of the furnace that he might look into it, and stand and view its raging flames, and see the glowings of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer. This was the thing that filled his soul with sorrow and darkness, this terrible sight as it were overwhelmed him. For what was that human nature of Christ to such mighty wrath as this? it was in itself, without the supports of God, but a feeble worm of the dust, a thing that was crushed before the moth, none of God’s children ever had such a cup set before them, as this first being of every creature had. But not to dwell any longer on this, I hasten to show, III. That the conflict in Christ’s soul, in this view of his last sufferings, was dreadful, beyond all expression or conception. This will appear, 1. From what is said of its dreadfulness in the history. By one evangelist we are told, (Matthew 26:37.) “He began to be sorrowful and very heavy; and by another, (Mark 14:33.) “And he taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy.”

    These expressions hold forth the intense and overwhelming distress that his soul was in. Luke’s expression in the text of his being in an agony, according to the signification of that word in the original, implies no common degree of sorrow, but such extreme distress that his nature had a most violent conflict with it, as a man that wrestles with all his might with a strong man, who labors and exerts his utmost strength to gain a conquest over him. 2. From what Christ himself says of it, who was not wont to magnify things beyond the truth. He says, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.” Matthew 26:38. What language can more strongly express the most extreme degree of sorrow? His soul was not only “sorrowful,” but “exceeding sorrowful;” and not only so, but because that did not fully express the degree of his sorrow, he adds, “even unto death;” which seems to intimate that the very pains and sorrows of hell, of eternal death, had got hold upon him. The Hebrews were wont to express the utmost degree of sorrow that any creature could be liable to by the phrase, the shadow of death. Christ had now, as it were, the shadow of death brought over his soul by the near view which he had of that bitter cup that was now set before him. 3. From the effect which it had on his body, in causing that bloody sweat that we read of in the text. In our translation it is said, that “his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground.” The word rendered great drops, is in the original qromboi, which properly signifies lumps or clots; for we may suppose that the blood that was pressed out through the pores of his skin by the violence of that inward struggle and conflict that there was, when it came to be exposed to the cool air of the night, congealed and stiffened, as is the nature of blood, and so fell off from him not in drops, but in clots. If the suffering of Christ had occasioned merely a violent sweat, it would have shown that he was in great agony; for it must be an extraordinary grief and exercise of mind that causes the body to be all of a sweat abroad in the open air, in a cold night as that was, as is evident from John 18:18. “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals, (for it was cold,) and they warmed themselves; and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.”

    This was the same night in which Christ had his agony in the garden. But Christ’s inward distress and grief was not merely such as caused him to be in a violent and universal sweat, but such as caused him to sweat blood.

    The distress and anguish of his mind was so unspeakably extreme as to force his blood through the pores of his skin, and that so plentifully as to fall in great clots or drops from his body to the ground. I come now to show, IV. What may be supposed to be the special end of God’s giving Christ beforehand these terrible views of his last sufferings; in other words, why it was needful that he should have a more full and extraordinary view of the cup that he was to drink, a little before he drank it, than ever he had before; or why he must have such a foretaste of the wrath of God to be endured on the cross, before the time came that he was actually to endure it.

    Answer. It was needful, in order that he might take the cup and drink it, as knowing what he did. Unless the human nature of Christ had had an extraordinary view given him beforehand of what he was to suffer, he could not, as man, fully know beforehand what he was going to suffer, and therefore could not, as man, know what he did when he took the cup to drink it, because he would not fully have known what the cup was - it being a cup that he never drank before. If Christ had plunged himself into those dreadful sufferings, without being fully sensible beforehand of their bitterness and dreadfulness, he must have done he knew not what. As man, he would have plunged himself into sufferings of the amount of which he was ignorant, and so have acted blindfold; and of course his taking upon him these sufferings could not have been so fully his own act. Christ, as God, perfectly knew what these sufferings were; but it was more needful also that he should know as man; for he was to suffer as man, and the act of Christ in taking that cup was the act of Christ as God man. But the man Christ Jesus hitherto never had had experience of any such sufferings as he was now to endure on the cross; and therefore he could not fully know what they were beforehand, but by having an extraordinary view of them set before him, and an extraordinary sense of them impressed on his mind.

    We have heard of tortures that others have undergone, but we do not fully know what they were, because we never experienced them; and it is impossible that we should fully know what they were but in one of these two ways, either by experiencing them, or by having a view given of them, or a sense of them impressed in an extraordinary way. Such a sense was impressed on the mind of the man Christ Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, of his last sufferings, and that caused his agony. When he had a full sight given him what that wrath of God was that he was to suffer, the sight was overwhelming to him; it made his soul exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Christ was going to be cast into a dreadful furnace of wrath, and it was not proper that he should plunge himself into it blindfold, as not knowing how dreadful the furnace was. Therefore that he might not do so, God first brought him and set him at the mouth of the furnace, that he might look in, and stand and view its fierce and raging flames, and might see where he was going, and might voluntarily enter into it and bear it for sinners, as knowing what it was. This view Christ had in his agony. Then God brought the cup that he was to drink, and set it down before him, that he might have a full view of it, and see what it was before he took it and drank it. If Christ had not fully known what the dreadfulness of these sufferings was, before he took them upon him, his taking them upon him could not have been fully his own act as man; there could have been no explicit act of his will about that which he was ignorant of; there could have been no proper trial, whether he would be willing to undergo such dreadful sufferings or not, unless he had known beforehand how dreadful they were; but when he had seen what they were, by having an extraordinary view given him of them, and then undertaken to endure them afterwards; then he acted as knowing what he did; then his taking that cup, and bearing such dreadful sufferings, was properly his own act by an explicit choice; and so his love to sinners, in that choice of his, was the more wonderful, as also his obedience to God in it. And it was necessary that this extraordinary view that Christ had of the cup he was to drink should be given at that time, just before he was apprehended. This was the most proper season for it, just before he took the cup, and while he yet had opportunity to refuse the cup; for before he was apprehended by the company led by Judas, he had opportunity to make his escape at pleasure.

    For the place where he was, was without the city, where he was not at all confined, and was a lonesome, solitary place; and it was the night season; so that he might have gone from that place where he would, and his enemies not have known where to have found him. This view that he had of the bitter cup was given him while he was yet fully at liberty, before he was given into the hands of his enemies. Christ’s delivering himself up into the hands of his enemies, as he did when Judas came, which was just after his agony, was properly his act of taking the cup in order to drink; for Christ knew that the issue of that would be his crucifixion the next day.

    These things may show us the end of Christ’s agony, and the necessity there was of such an agony before his last sufferings.

    APPLICATION 1. Hence we may learn how dreadful Christ’s last sufferings were. We learn it from the dreadful effect which the bare foresight of them had upon him in his agony. His last sufferings were so dreadful, that the view which Christ had of them before overwhelmed him and amazed him, as it is said he began to be sore amazed. The very sight of these last sufferings was so very dreadful as to sink his soul down into the dark shadow of death; yea, so dreadful was it, that in the sore conflict which his nature had with it, he was all in a sweat of blood, his body all over was covered with clotted blood, and not only his body, but the very ground under him with the blood that fell from him, which had been forced through his pores through the violence of his agony. And if only the foresight of the cup was so dreadful, how dreadful was the cup itself, how far beyond all that can be uttered or conceived! Many of the martyrs have endured extreme tortures, but from what has been said, there is all reason to think those all were a mere nothing to the last sufferings of Christ on the cross. And what has been said affords a convincing argument that the sufferings which Christ endured in his body on the cross, though they were very dreadful, were yet the least part of his last sufferings; and that beside those, he endured sufferings in his soul which were vastly greater. For if it had been only the sufferings which he endured in his body, though they were very dreadful, we cannot conceive that the mere anticipation of them would have such an effect on Christ. Many of the martyrs, for ought we know, have endured as severe tortures in their bodies as Christ did. Many of the martyrs have been crucified, as Christ was; and yet their souls have not been so overwhelmed.

    There has been no appearance of such amazing sorrow and distress of mind either at the anticipation of their sufferings, or in the actual enduring of them. 2. From what has been said, we may see the wonderful strength of the love of Christ to sinners. What has been said shows the strength of Christ’s love two ways. 1. That it was so strong as to carry him through that agony that he was then in. The suffering that he then was actually subject to, was dreadful and amazing, as has been shown; and how wonderful was his love that lasted and was upheld still! The love of any mere man or angel would doubtless have sunk under such a weight, and never would have endured such a conflict in such a bloody sweat as that of Jesus Christ. The anguish of Christ’s soul at that time was so strong as to cause that wonderful effect on his body. But his love to his enemies, poor and unworthy as they were, was stronger still. The heart of Christ at that time was full of distress, but it was fuller of love to vile worms: his sorrows abounded, but his love did much more abound. Christ’s soul was overwhelmed with a deluge of grief, but this was from a deluge of love to sinners in his heart sufficient to overflow the world, and overwhelm the highest mountains of its sins. Those great drops of blood that fell down to the ground were a manifestation of an ocean of love in Christ’s heart. 2. The strength of Christ’s love more especially appears in this, that when he had such a full view of the dreadfulness of the cup that he was to drink, that so amazed him, he would notwithstanding even then take it up, and drink it. Then seems to have been the greatest and most peculiar trial of the strength of the love of Christ, when God set down the bitter portion before him, and let him see what he had to drink, if he persisted in his love to sinners; and brought him to the mouth of the furnace that he might see its fierceness, and have a full view of it, and have time then to consider whether he would go in and suffer the flames of this furnace for such unworthy creatures, or not. This was as it were proposing it to Christ’s last consideration what he would do; as much as if it had then been said to him, ‘Here is the cup that you are to drink, unless you will give up your undertaking for sinners, and even leave them to perish as they deserve. Will you take this cup, and drink it for them, or not? There is the furnace into which you are to be cast, if they are to be saved; either they must perish, or you must endure this for them. There you see how terrible the heat of the furnace is; you see what pain and anguish you must endure on the morrow, unless you give up the cause of sinners. What will you do? is your love such that you will go on? Will you cast yourself into this dreadful furnace of wrath?’ Christ’s soul was overwhelmed with the thought; his feeble human nature shrunk at the dismal sight. It put him into this dreadful agony which you have heard described; but his love to sinners held out. Christ would not undergo these sufferings needlessly, if sinners could be saved without. If there was not an absolute necessity of his suffering them in order to their salvation, he desired that the cup might pass from him. But if sinners, on whom he had set his love, could not, agreeably to the will of God, be saved without his drinking it, he chose that the will of God should be done. He chose to go on and endure the suffering, awful as it appeared to him. And this was his final conclusion, after the dismal conflict of his poor feeble human nature, after he had had the cup in view, and for at least the space of one hour, had seen how amazing it was. Still he finally resolved that he would bear it, rather than those poor sinners whom he had loved from all eternity should perish. When the dreadful cup was before him, he did not say within himself, why should I, who am so great and glorious a person, infinitely more honorable than all the angels of heaven, Why should I go to plunge myself into such dreadful, amazing torments for worthless wretched worms that cannot be profitable to God, or me, and that deserve to be hated by me, and not to be loved? Why should I, who have been living from all eternity in the enjoyment of the Father’s love, go to cast myself into such a furnace for them that never can requite me for it?

    Why should I yield myself to be thus crushed by the weight of divine wrath, for them who have no love to me, and are my enemies? they do not deserve any union with me, and never did, and never will do, any thing to recommend themselves to me. What shall I be the richer for having saved a number of miserable haters of God and me, who deserve to have divine justice glorified in their destruction? Such, however, was not the language of Christ’s heart, in these circumstances; but on the contrary, his love held out, and he resolved even then, in the midst of his agony, to yield himself up to the will of God, and to take the cup and drink it. He would not flee to get out of the way of Judas and those that were with him, though he knew they were coming, but that same hour delivered himself voluntarily into their hands. When they came with swords and staves to apprehend him, and he could have called upon his Father, who would immediately have sent many legions of angels to repel his enemies, and have delivered him, he would not do it; and when his disciples would have made resistance, he would not suffer them, as you may see in Matthew 26:51, and onward: “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he will presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

    And Christ, instead of hiding himself from Judas and the soldiers, told them, when they seemed to be at a loss whether he was the person whom they sought; and when they seemed still somewhat to hesitate, being seized with some terror in their minds, he told them so again, and so yielded himself up into their hands, to be bound by them, after he had shown them that he could easily resist them if he pleased, when a single word spoken by him, threw them backwards to the ground, as you may see in John 18:3, etc. “Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns, and torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them, I am he. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground.”

    Thus powerful, constant, and violent was the love of Christ; and the special trial of his love above all others in his whole life seems to have been in the time of his agony. For though his sufferings were greater afterwards, when he was on the cross, yet he saw clearly what those sufferings were to be, in the time of his agony; and that seems to have been the first time that ever Christ Jesus had a clear view what these sufferings were; and after this the trial was not so great, because the conflict was over. His human nature had been in a struggle with his love to sinners, but his love had got the victory.

    The thing, upon a full view of his sufferings, had been resolved on and concluded; and accordingly, when the moment arrived, he actually went through with those sufferings.

    But there are two circumstances of Christ’s agony that do still make the strength and constancy of his love to sinners the more conspicuous. 1. That at the same time that he had such a view of the dreadfulness of his sufferings, he had also an extraordinary view of the hatefulness of the wickedness of those for whom those sufferings were to make atonement.

    There are two things that render Christ’s love wonderful: (1.) That he should be willing to endure sufferings that were so great; and (2.) That he should be willing to endure them to make atonement for wickedness that was so great. But in order to its being properly said, Christ of his own act and choice endured sufferings that were so great, to make atonement for wickedness that was so great, two things were necessary. (1.) That he should have an extraordinary sense how great these sufferings were to be, before he endured them. This was given in his agony. And (2.) That he should also at the same time have an extraordinary sense how great and hateful was the wickedness of men for which he suffered to make atonement; or how unworthy those were for whom he died.

    And both these were given at the same time. When Christ had such an extraordinary sense how bitter his cup was to be, he had much to make him sensible how unworthy and hateful that wickedness of mankind was for which he suffered; because the hateful and malignant nature of that corruption never appeared more fully than in the spite and cruelty of men in these sufferings; and yet his love was such that he went on notwithstanding to suffer for them who were full of such hateful corruption.

    It was the corruption and wickedness of men that contrived and effected his death; it was the wickedness of men that agreed with Judas, it was the wickedness of men that betrayed him, and that apprehended him, and bound him, and led him away like a malefactor; it was by men’s corruption and wickedness that he was arraigned, and falsely accused, and unjustly judged. It was by men’s wickedness that he was reproached, mocked, buffeted, and spit upon. It was by men’s wickedness that Barabbas was preferred before him. It was men’s wickedness that laid the cross upon him to bear, and that nailed him to it, and put him to so cruel and ignominious a death. This tended to give Christ an extraordinary sense of the greatness and hatefulness of the depravity of mankind. 1. Because hereby in the time of his sufferings he had that depravity set before him as it is, without disguise. When it killed Christ, it appeared in its proper colors. Here Christ saw it in its true nature, which is the utmost hatred and contempt of God; in its ultimate tendency and desire, which is to kill God; and in its greatest aggravation and highest act, which is killing a person that was God. 2. Because in these sufferings he felt the fruits of that wickedness. It was then directly leveled against himself, and exerted itself against him to work his reproach and torment, which tended to impress a stronger sense of its hatefulness on the human nature of Christ. But yet at the same time, so wonderful was the love of Christ to those who exhibited this hateful corruption, that he endured those very sufferings to deliver them from the punishment of that very corruption. The wonderfulness of Christ’s dying love appears partly in that he died for those that were so unworthy in themselves, as all mankind have the same kind of corruptions in their hearts, and partly in that he died for those who were not only so wicked, but whose wickedness consists in being enemies to him; so that he did not only die for the wicked, but for his own enemies; and partly in that he was willing to die for his enemies at the same time that he was feeling the fruits of their enmity, while he felt the utmost effects and exertions of their spite against him in the greatest possible contempt and cruelty towards him in his own greatest ignominy, torments, and death; and partly in that he was willing to atone for their being his enemies in these very sufferings, and by that very ignominy, torment, and death that was the fruit of it. The sin and wickedness of men, for which Christ suffered to make atonement, was, as it were, set before Christ in his view. 1. In that this wickedness was but a sample of the wickedness of mankind; for the corruption of all mankind is of the same nature, and the wickedness that is in one man’s heart is of the same nature and tendency as in another’s. As in water, face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. 2. It is probable that Christ died to make atonement for that individual actual wickedness that wrought his sufferings, that reproached, mocked, buffeted, and crucified him. Some of his crucifiers, for whom he prayed that they might be forgiven, while they were in the very act of crucifying him, were afterwards, in answer to his prayer, converted, by the preaching of Peter; as we have an account of in the 2d chapter of Acts. 3. Another circumstance of Christ’s agony that shows the strength of his love, is the ungrateful carriage of his disciples at that time. Christ’s disciples were among those for whom he endured this agony, and among those for whom he was going to endure those last sufferings, of which he now had such dreadful apprehensions. Yet Christ had already given them an interest in the benefits of those sufferings. Their sins had already been forgiven them through that blood that he was going to shed, and they had been infinite gainers already by that dying pity and love which he had to them, and had through his sufferings been distinguished from all the world besides. Christ had put greater honor upon them than any other, by making them his disciples in a more honorable sense than he had done any other.

    And yet now, when he had that dreadful cup set before him which he was going to drink for them, and was in such an agony at the sight of it, he saw no return on their part but indifference and ingratitude. When he only desired them to watch with him, that he might be comforted in their company, now at this sorrowful moment they fell asleep; and showed that they had not concern enough about it to induce them to keep awake with him even for one hour, though he desired it of them once and again. But yet this ungrateful treatment of theirs, for whom he was to drink the cup of wrath which God had set before him, did not discourage him from taking it, and drinking it for them. His love held out to them; having loved his own, he loved them to the end. He did not say within himself when this cup of trembling was before him, Why should I endure so much for those that are so ungrateful; why should I here wrestle with the expectation of the terrible wrath of God to be borne by me tomorrow, for them that in the mean time have not so much concern for me as to keep awake with me when I desire it of them even for one hour? But on the contrary, with tender and fatherly compassions he excuses this ingratitude of his disciples, and says, Matthew 26:41. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak;” and went and was apprehended, and mocked, and scourged, and crucified, and poured out his soul unto death, under the heavy weight of God’s dreadful wrath on the cross for them. 3rd Inference. From what has been said, we may learn the wonderfulness of Christ’s submission to the will of God. Christ, as he was a divine person, was the absolute sovereign of heaven and earth, but yet he was the most wonderful instance of submission to God’s sovereignty that ever was.

    When he had such a view of the terribleness of his last sufferings, and prayed if it were possible that that cup might pass from him, i.e. if there was not an absolute necessity of it in order to the salvation of sinners, yet it was with a perfect submission to the will of God. He adds, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” He chose rather that the inclination of his human nature, which so much dreaded such exquisite torments, should be crossed, than that God’s will should not take place. He delighted in the thought of God’s will being done; and when he went and prayed the second time, he had nothing else to say but, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done;” and so the third time.

    What are such trials of submission as any of us sometimes have in the afflictions that we suffer in comparison of this? If God does but in his providence signify it to be his will that we should part with a child, how hardly are we brought to yield to it, how ready to be unsubmissive and froward! Or if God lays his hand upon us in some acute pain of body, how ready are we to be discontented and impatient; when the innocent Son of God, who deserved no suffering could quietly submit to sufferings inconceivably great, and say it over and over, God’s will be done! When he was brought and set before that dreadful furnace of wrath into which he was to be cast, in order that he might look into it and have a full view of its fierceness, when his flesh shrunk at it, and his nature was in such a conflict, that his body was all covered with a sweat of blood falling in great drops to the ground, yet his soul quietly yielded that the will of God should be done, rather than the will or inclination of his human nature. 4th Inference. What has been said on this subject also shows us the glory of Christ’s obedience. Christ was subject to the moral law as Adam was, and he was also subject to the ceremonial and judicial laws of Moses; but the principal command that he had received of the Father was, that he should lay down his life, that he should voluntarily yield up himself to those terrible sufferings on the cross. To do this was his principal errand into the world; and doubtless the principal command that he received, was about that which was the principal errand on which he was sent. The Father, when he sent him into the world, sent him with commands concerning what he should do in the world; and his chief command of all was about that, which was the errand he was chiefly sent upon, which was to lay down his life. And therefore this command was the principal trial of his obedience. It was the greatest trial of his obedience, because it was by far the most difficult command: all the rest were easy in comparison of this. And the main trial that Christ had, whether he would obey this command, was in the time of his agony; for that was within an hour before he was apprehended in order to his sufferings, when he must either yield himself up to them, or fly from them. And then it was the first time that Christ had a full view of the difficulty of this command; which appeared so great as to cause that bloody sweat. Then was the conflict of weak human nature with the difficulty, then was the sore struggles and wrestling with the heavy trial he had, and then Christ got the victory over the temptation, from the dread of his human nature. His obedience held out through the conflict. Then we may suppose that Satan was especially let loose to set in with the natural dread that the human nature had of such torments, and to strive to his utmost to dissuade Christ from going on to drink the bitter cup; for about that time, towards the close of Christ’s life, was he especially delivered up into the hands of Satan to be tempted of him, more than he was immediately after his baptism; for Christ says, speaking of that time, Luke 22:53. “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me; but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

    So that Christ, in the time of his agony, was wrestling not only with overwhelming views of his last sufferings, but he also wrestled, in that bloody sweat, with principalities and powers - he contended at that time with the great leviathan that labored to his utmost to tempt him to disobedience. So that then Christ had temptations every way to draw him off from obedience to God. He had temptations from his feeble human nature, that exceedingly dreaded such torments; and he had temptations from men, who were his enemies; and he had temptations from the ungrateful carriage of his own disciples; and he had temptations from the devil. He had also an overwhelming trial from the manifestation of God’s own wrath; when, in the words of Isaiah, it pleased the Lord to bruise him and put him to grief. But yet he failed not, but got the victory over all, and performed that great act of obedience at that time to that same God that hid himself from him, and was showing his wrath to him for men’s sins, which he must presently suffer. Nothing could move him away from his steadfast obedience to God, but he persisted in saying, “Thy will be done:” expressing not only his submission, but his obedience; not only his compliance with the disposing will of God, but also with his preceptive will. God had given him this cup to drink, and had commanded him to drink it, and that was reason enough with him to drink it; hence he says, at the conclusion of his agony, when Judas came with his band, “The cup which my Father giveth me to drink, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11.

    Christ, at the time of his agony, had an inconceivably greater trial of obedience than any man or any angel ever had. How much was this trial of the obedience of the second Adam beyond the trial of the obedience of the first Adam! How light was our first father’s temptation in comparison of this! And yet our first surety failed, and our second failed not, but obtained a glorious victory, and went and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Thus wonderful and glorious was the obedience of Christ, by which he wrought out righteousness for believers, and which obedience is imputed to them. No wonder that it is a sweet penalty sown, and that God stands ready to bestow heaven as its reward on all that believe on him. 5. What has been said shows us the sottishness of secure sinners in being so fearless of the wrath of God. If the wrath of God was so dreadful, that, when Christ only expected it, his human nature was nearly overwhelmed with the fear of it, and his soul was amazed, and his body all over in a bloody sweat; then how sottish are sinners, who are under the threatening of the same wrath of God, and are condemned to it, and are every moment exposed to it; and yet, instead of manifesting intense apprehension, are quiet and easy, and unconcerned; instead of being sorrowful and very heavy, go about with a light and careless heart; instead of crying out in bitter agony, are often gay and cheerful, and eat and drink, and sleep quietly, and go on in sin, provoking the wrath of God more and more, without any great matter of concern! How stupid and sottish are such persons! Let such senseless sinners consider, that that misery, of which they are in danger from the wrath of God, is infinitely more terrible than that, the fear of which occasioned in Christ his agony and bloody sweat. It is more terrible, both as it differs both in its nature and degree, and also as it differs in its duration. It is more terrible in its nature and degree. Christ suffered that which, as it upheld the honor of the divine law, was fully equivalent to the misery of the damned; and in some respect it was the same suffering; for it was the wrath of the same God; but yet in other respects it vastly differed. The difference does not arise from the difference in the wrath poured out on one and the other, for it is the same wrath, but from the difference of the subject, which may be best illustrated from Christ’s own comparison. Luke 23:31. “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” Here he calls himself the green tree, and wicked men the dry, intimating that the misery that will come on wicked men will be far more dreadful than those sufferings which came on him, and the difference arises from the different nature of the subject. The green tree and the dry are both cast into the fire; but the flames seize and kindle on the dry tree much more fiercely than on the green. The sufferings that Christ endured differ from the misery of the wicked in hell in nature and degree in the following respects. 1. Christ felt not the gnawings of a guilty, condemning conscience. 2. He felt no torment from the reigning of inward corruptions and lusts as the damned do. The wicked in hell are their own tormentors, their lusts are their tormentors, and being without restraint, (for there is no restraining grace in hell, ) their lusts will rage like raging flames in their hearts. They shall be tormented with the unrestrained violence of a spirit of envy and malice against God, and against the angels and saints in heaven, and against one another. Now Christ suffered nothing of this. 3. Christ had not to consider that God hated him. The wicked in hell have this to make their misery perfect, they know that God perfectly hates them without the least pity or regard to them, which will fill their souls with inexpressible misery. But it was not so with Christ. God withdrew his comfortable presence from Christ, and hid his face from him, and so poured out his wrath upon him, as made him feel its terrible effects in his soul; but yet he knew at the same time that God did not hate him, but infinitely loved him. He cried out of God’s forsaking him, but yet at the same time calls him “My God, my God!” knowing that he was his God still, though he had forsaken him. But the wicked in hell will know that he is not their God, but their judge and irreconcilable enemy. 4. Christ did not suffer despair, as the wicked do in hell. He knew that there would be an end to his sufferings in a few hours; and that after that he should enter into eternal glory. But it will be far otherwise with you that are impenitent; if you die in your present condition, you will be in perfect despair. On these accounts, the misery of the wicked in hell will be immensely more dreadful in nature and degree, than those sufferings with the fears of which Christ’s soul was so much overwhelmed. 2. It will infinitely differ in duration. Christ’s sufferings lasted but a few hours, and there was an eternal end to them, and eternal glory succeeded.

    But you that are a secure, senseless sinner, are every day exposed to be cast into everlasting misery, a fire that never shall be quenched. If then the Son of God was in such amazement, in the expectation of what he was to suffer for a few hours, how sottish are you who are continually exposed to sufferings, immensely more dreadful in nature and degree, and that are to be without any end, but which must be endured without any rest day or night for ever and ever! If you had a full sense of the greatness of that misery to which you are exposed, and how dreadful your present condition is on that account, it would this moment put you into as dreadful an agony as that which Christ underwent; yea, if your nature could endure it, one much more dreadful. We should now see you fall down in a bloody sweat, wallowing in your gore, and crying out in terrible amazement. Having thus endeavored to explain and illustrate the former of the two propositions mentioned in the commencement of this discourse, I shall now proceed to show, II. That the soul of Christ in his agony in the garden was in a great and earnest strife and conflict in his prayer to God. The labor and striving of Christ’s soul in prayer was a part of his agony, and was without doubt a part of what is intended in the text, when it is said that Christ was in an agony; for, as we have shown, the word is especially used in Scripture in other places for striving or wrestling with God in prayer. From this fact, and from the evangelist mentioning his being in agony, and his praying earnestly in the same sentence, we may well understand him as mentioning his striving in prayer as part of his agony. The words of the text seem to hold forth as much as that Christ was in an agony in prayer: “Being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling to the ground.” This language seems to imply thus much, that the labor and earnestness of Christ’s soul was so great in his wrestling with God in prayer, that he was in a mere agony, and all over in a sweat of blood.

    What I propose now, in this second proposition, is by the help of God to explain this part of Christ’s agony which consisted in the agonizing and wrestling of his soul in prayer; which is the more worthy of a particular inquiry, being that which probably is but little understood; though, as may appear in the sequel, the right understanding of it is of great use and consequence in divinity. It is not as I conceive ordinarily well understood what is meant when it is said in the text that Christ prayed more earnestly; or what was the thing that he wrestled with God for, or what was the subject matter of this earnest prayer, or what was the reason of his being so very earnest in prayer at this time. And therefore, to set this whole matter in a clear light, I would particularly inquire, 1. Of what nature this prayer was; 2. What was the subject matter of this earnest prayer of Christ to the Father; 3. In what capacity Christ offered up this prayer to God; 4. Why he was so earnest in his prayer; 5. What was the success of this his earnest wrestling with God in prayer; and then make some improvement.

    I. Of what nature this prayer of Christ was.

    Addresses that are made to God may be of various kinds. Some are confessions on the part of the individual, or expressions of his sense of his own unworthiness before God, and are thus penitential addresses to God.

    Others are doxologies or prayers intended to express the sense which the person has of God’s greatness and glory. Such are many of the psalms of David. Others are gratulatory addresses, or expressions of thanksgiving and praise for mercies received. Others are submissive addresses, or expressions of submission and resignation to the will of God, whereby he that addresses the Majesty of heaven, expresses the compliance of his will with the sovereign will of God; saying, “Thy will, O Lord, be done!” as David, 2 Samuel 15:26. “But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I; let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.” Others are petitory or supplicatory; whereby the person that prays, begs of God and cries to him for some favor desired of him. Hence the inquiry is, of which of these kinds was the prayer of Christ, that we read of in the text.

    Answer. It was chiefly supplicatory. It was not penitential or confessional; for Christ had no sin or unworthiness to confess. Nor was it a doxology or a thanksgiving or merely an expression of submission; for none of these agree with what is said in the text, viz. that he prayed more earnestly.

    When any one is said to pray earnestly, it implies an earnest request for some benefit, or favor desired; and not merely a confession, or submission, or gratulation. So what the apostle says of this prayer, in Hebrews 5:7. “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard, in that he feared, “ shows that it was petitory, or an earnest supplication for some desired benefit. They are not confessions, or doxologies, or thanksgivings. or resignations, that are called “supplications” and “strong cryings,” but petitions for some benefit earnestly desired. And having thus resolved the first inquiry, and shown that this earnest prayer of Christ -was of the nature of a supplication for some benefit or favor which Christ earnestly desired, I come to inquire, II. What was the subject matter of this supplication; or what favor and benefit that was for which Christ so earnestly supplicated in this prayer of which we have an account in the text. Now the words of the text are not express on this matter. It is said that Christ, “being in an agony, prayed more earnestly;” but yet it is not said what he prayed so earnestly for. And here is the greatest difficulty attending this account: even what that was which Christ so earnestly desired, for which he so wrestled with God at that time. And though we are not expressly told in the text, yet the Scriptures have not left us without sufficient light in this matter. And the more effectually to avoid mistakes, I would answer, 1. Negatively, the thing that Christ so earnestly prayed for at this time, was not that the bitter cup which he had to drink might pass from him. Christ had before prayed for this, as in the next verse but one before the text, saying “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me! nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done!” It is after this that we have an account that Christ being in an agony, prayed more earnestly; but we are not to understand that he prayed more earnestly than he had done before, that the cup might pass from him. That this was not the thing that he so earnestly prayed for in this second prayer, the following things seem to prove: 1. This second prayer was after the angel had appeared to him from heaven, strengthening him, the more cheerfully to take the cup and drink it.

    The evangelists inform us that when Christ came into the garden, he began to be sorrowful, and very heavy, and that he said his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and that then he went and prayed to God, that if it were possible the cup might pass from him. Luke says in the 41st and 42nd verses, “that being withdrawn from his disciples about a stone’s cast, he kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done!”

    And then, after this, it is said in the next verse, that there appeared an angel from heaven unto him strengthening him. Now this can be understood no otherwise than that the angel appeared to him, strengthening him and encouraging him to go through his great and difficult work, to take the cup and drink it. Accordingly we must suppose, that now Christ was more strengthened and encouraged to go through with his sufferings: and therefore we cannot suppose that after this he would pray more earnestly than before to be delivered from his sufferings; and of course that it was something else that Christ more earnestly prayed for, after that strengthening of the angel, and not that the cup might pass from him.

    Though Christ seems to have a greater sight of his sufferings given him after this strengthening of the angel than before, that caused such an agony, yet he was more strengthened to fit him for a greater sight of them, he had greater strength and courage to grapple with these awful apprehensions, than before. His strength to bear sufferings is increased with the sense of his sufferings. 2. Christ, before his second prayer, had had an intimation from the Father, that it was not his will that the cup should pass from him. The angel’s coming from heaven to strengthen him must be so understood. Christ first prays, that if it may be the will of the Father, the cup might pass; but not, if it was not his will; and then God immediately upon this sends an angel to strengthen, and encourage him to take the cup, which was a plain intimation to Christ that it was the Father’s will that he should take it, and that it should not pass from him. And so Christ received it; as appears from the account which Matthew gives of this second prayer. Matthew 26:42. “He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, thy will be done.”

    He speaks as one that now had had an intimation, since he prayed before, that it was not the will of God. And Luke tells us how, viz. by God’s sending an angel. Matthew informs us, as Luke does, that in his first prayer, he prayed that if it were possible the cup might pass from him; but then God sends an angel to signify that it was not his will, and to encourage him to take it. And then Christ having received this plain intimation that it was not the will of God that the cup should pass from him, yields to the message he had received, and says, O my Father, if it be so as thou hast now signified, thy will be done. Therefore we may surely conclude that what Christ prayed more earnestly for after this, was not that the cup might pass from him, but something else; for he would not go to pray more earnestly that the cup might pass from him, after God had signified that it was not his will that it should pass from him, than he did before; that would be blasphemous to suppose. And then, 3rdly , The language of the second prayer, as recited by Matthew, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me except I drink it, thy will be done,” shows that Christ did not then pray that the cup might pass from him. This certainly is not praying more earnestly that the cup might pass: it is rather a yielding that point, and ceasing any more to urge it, and submitting to it as a thing now determined by the will of God, made known by the angel. And, 4. From the apostle’s account of this prayer in the 5th ch. of Hebrews, the words of the apostle are these, “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up his prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.”

    The strong crying and tears of which the apostle speaks, are doubtless the same that Luke speaks of in the text, when he says, “he being in an agony, prayed more earnestly;” for this was the sharpest and most earnest crying of Christ, of which we have any where any account. But according to the apostle’s account, that which Christ feared, and that for which he so strongly cried to God in this prayer, was something that he was heard in, something that God granted him his request in, and therefore it was not that the cup might pass from him. Having thus shown what it was not that Christ prayed for in this earnest prayer, I proceed to show, 2nd, What it was that Christ so earnestly sought of God in this prayer.

    I answer in one word, it was, That God’s will might be done, in what related to his sufferings. Matthew gives this express account of it, in the very language of the prayer which has been recited several times already, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done!” This is a yielding, and an expression of submission; but it is not merely that. Such words, “The will of the Lord be done,” as they are most commonly used, are not understood as a supplication or request, but only as an expression of submission. But the words are not always to be understood in that sense in Scripture, but sometimes are to be understood as a request. So they are to be understood in the third petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done in earth as in heaven.” There the words are to be understood both as an expression of submission, and also a request, as they are explained in the Assembly’s Catechism, and so the words are to be understood here. The evangelist Mark says that Christ went away again and spake the same words that he had done in his first prayer. Mark 14:39. But then we must understand it as of the same words with the latter part of his first prayer, “nevertheless not my will but thine be done,” as Matthew’s more full and particular account shows. So that the thing mentioned in the text, for which Christ was wrestling with God in this prayer, was, that God’s will might be done in what related to his sufferings.

    But then here another inquiry may arise, viz. What is implied in Christ’s praying that God’s will might be done in what related to his sufferings? To this I answer, 1. This implies a request that he might be strengthened and supported, and enabled to do God’s will, by going through with these sufferings. The same as when he says, “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God.” It was the preceptive will of God that he should take that cup and drink it: it was the Father’s command to him. The Father had given him the cup, and as it were set it down before him with the command that he should drink it. This was the greatest act of obedience that Christ was to perform. He prays for strength and help, that his poor feeble human nature might be supported, that he might not fail in this great trial, that he might not sink and be swallowed up, and his strength so overcome that he should not hold out, and finish the appointed obedience.

    This was the thing that he feared, of which the apostle speaks in the 5th of Hebrews, when he says, “he was heard in that he feared.” When he had such an extraordinary sense of the dreadfulness of his sufferings impressed on his mind, the fearfulness of it amazed him. He was afraid lest his poor feeble strength should be overcome, and that he should fail in so great a trial, that he should be swallowed up by that death that he was to die, and so should not be saved from death; and therefore he offered up strong crying and tears unto him that was able to strengthen him, and support, and save him from death, that the death he was to suffer might not overcome his love and obedience, but that he might overcome death, and so be saved from it. If Christ’s courage had failed in the trial, and he had not held out under his dying sufferings, he never would have been saved from death, but he would have sunk in the deep mire; he never would have risen from the dead, for his rising from the dead was a reward of his victory. If his courage had failed, and he had given up, he would have remained from under the power of death, and so we should all have perished, we should have remained yet in our sins. If he had failed, all would have failed. If he had not overcome in that sore conflict, neither he nor we could have been freed from death, we all must have perished together. Therefore this was the saving from death that the apostle speaks of, that Christ feared and prayed for with strong crying and tears. His being overcome of death was the thing that he feared, and so he was heard in that he feared. This Christ prayed, that the will of God might be done in his sufferings, even that he might not fail of obeying God’s will in his sufferings; and therefore it follows in the next verse in that passage of Hebrews, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” That it was in this respect that Christ in his agony so earnestly prayed that the will of God might be done, viz. that he might have strength to do his will, and might not sink and fail in such great sufferings; is confirmed from the scriptures of the Old Testament, as particularly from the 69th Psalm. The psalmist represents Christ in that psalm, as is evident from the fact that the words of that psalm are represented as Christ’s words in many places of the New Testament. That psalm is represented as Christ’s prayer to God when his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow and amazement, as it was in his agony; as you may see in the 1st and 2nd verses, “Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul: I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” But then the thing that is represented as being the thing that he feared, was failing, and being overwhelmed, in this great trial: verses 14 and 15. “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the water- flood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.” So again in the 22nd Psalm, which is also represented as the prayer of Christ under his dreadful sorrow and sufferings, verses 19, 20, 21. “But be not thou far from me, O Lord; O my Strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth.” It was meet and suitable that Christ, when about to engage in that terrible conflict, should thus earnestly seek help from God to enable him to do his will; for he needed God’s help - the strength of his human nature, without divine help, was not sufficient to carry him through. This was, without doubt, that in which the first Adam failed in his first trial, that when the trial came he was not sensible of his own weakness and dependence. If he had been, and had leaned on God, and cried to him for his assistance and strength against the temptation, in all likelihood we should have remained innocent and happy creatures to this day. 2. It implies a request that God’s will and purpose might be obtained in the effects and fruits of his sufferings, in the glory to his name, that was his design in them; and particularly in the glory of his grace, in the eternal salvation and happiness of his elect. This is confirmed by John 12:27,28. “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? - Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.

    Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified, and will glorify it again.”

    There the first request is the same with the first request of Christ here in like trouble: “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.” He first prays, as he does here, that he might be saved from his last sufferings. Then, after he was determined within himself that the will of God must be otherwise, that he should not be saved from that hour, “but for this cause,” says he, “came I to this hour;” and then his second request after this is, “Father, glorify thy name!” So this is doubtless the purport of the second request in his agony, when he prayed that God’s will might be done. It is that God’s will might be done in that glory to his own name that he intended in the effects and fruits of his sufferings, that seeing that it was his will that he should suffer, he earnestly prays that the end of his suffering, in the glory of God and the salvation of the elect, may not fail. And these things are what Christ so earnestly wrestled with God for in his prayer, of which we have an account in the text, and we have no reason to think that they were not expressed in prayer as well as implied. It is not reasonable to suppose that the evangelist in his other account of things mentions all the words of Christ’s prayer. He only mentions the substance.

    III. In what capacity did Christ offer up those earnest prayers to God in his agony?

    In answer to this inquiry, I observe that he offered them up not as a private person, but as high priest. The apostle speaks of the strong crying and tears, as what Christ offered up as high priest. Hebrews 5:6-7. “As he says also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek: who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears,” etc. The things that Christ prayed for in those strong cryings, were things not of a private nature, but of common concern to the whole church of which he was the high priest. That the will of God should be done in his obedience unto death, that his strength and courage should not fail, but that he should hold out, was of common concern; for, if he had failed, all would have failed and perished for ever. And of course, that God’s name should be glorified in the effects and fruits of his sufferings, and in the salvation and glory of all his elect, was a thing of common concern. Christ offered up these strong cries with his flesh in the same manner as the priests of old were wont to offer up prayers with their sacrifices. Christ mixed strong crying and tears with his blood, and so offered up his blood and his prayers together, that the effect and success of his blood might be obtained. Such earnest agonizing prayers were offered with his blood, and his infinitely precious and meritorious blood was offered with his prayers.

    IV. Why was Christ so earnest in those supplications? Luke speaks of them as very earnest; the apostle speaks of them as strong crying; and his agony partly consisted in this earnestness: and the account that Luke gives us, seems to imply that his bloody sweat was partly at least with the great labor and earnest sense of his soul in wrestling with God in prayer. There were three things that concurred at that time, especially to cause Christ to be thus earnest and engaged. 1. He had then an extraordinary sense how dreadful the consequence would be, if God’s will should fail of being done. He had then an extraordinary sense of his own last suffering under the wrath of God, and if he had failed in those sufferings, he knew the consequence must be dreadful. He having now such an extraordinary view of the terribleness of the wrath of God, his love to the elect tended to make him more than ordinarily earnest that they might be delivered from suffering that wrath to all eternity, which could not have been if he had failed of doing God’s will, or if the will of God in the effect of his suffering had failed. 2. No wonder that that extraordinary sense that Christ then had of the costliness of the means of sinners’ salvation, made him very earnest for the success of those means, as you have already heard. 3. Christ had an extraordinary sense of his dependence on God, and his need of his help to enable him to do God’s will in this great trial. Though he was innocent, yet he needed divine help. He was dependent on God, as man, and therefore we read that he trusted in God. Matthew 27:43. “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” And when he had such an extraordinary sight of the dreadfulness of that wrath he was to suffer, he saw how much it was beyond the strength of his human nature alone.

    V. What was the success of this prayer of Christ?

    To this I answer, He obtained all his requests. The apostle says, “He was heard in that he feared;” in all that he feared. He obtained strength and help from God, all that he needed, and was carried through. He was enabled to do and to suffer the whole will of God; and he obtained the whole of the end of his sufferings - a full atonement for the sins of the whole world, and the full salvation of every one of those who were given him in the covenant of redemption, and all that glory to the name of God, which his mediation was designed to accomplish, not one jot or tittle hath failed. Herein Christ in his agony was above all others Jacob’s antitype, in his wrestling with God for a blessing; which Jacob did, not as a private person, but as the head of his posterity, the nation of Israel, and by which he obtained that commendation of God, “As a prince thou hast power with God;” and therein was a type of him who was the Prince of princes.

    APPLICATION Great improvement may be made of the consideration of the strong crying and tears of Christ in the days of his flesh, many ways for our benefit. 1. This may teach us after what manner we should pray to God, not in a cold and careless manner, but with great earnestness and engagedness of spirit, and especially when we are praying to God for those things that are of infinite importance, such as spiritual and eternal blessings. Such were the benefits that Christ prayed for with such strong crying and tears, that he might be enabled to do God’s will in that great and difficult work that God had appointed him, that he might not sink and fail, but might get the victory, and so finally be delivered from death, and that God’s will and end might be obtained as the fruit of his sufferings, in the glory of God, and the salvation of the elect.

    When we go before God in prayer with a cold, dull heart, and in a lifeless and listless manner pray to him for eternal blessings, and those of infinite import to our souls, we should think of Christ’s earnest prayers that he poured out to God, with tears and a bloody sweat. The consideration of it may well make us ashamed of our dull, lifeless prayers to God, wherein, indeed, we rather ask a denial than ask to be heard; for the language of such a manner of praying to God, is, that we do not look upon the benefit that we pray for as of any great importance, that we are indifferent whether God answers us or not. The example of Jacob in wrestling with God for the blessing, should teach us earnestness in our prayers, but more especially the example of Jesus Christ, who wrestled with God in a bloody sweat. If we were sensible as Christ was of the great importance of those benefits that are of eternal consequence, our prayers to God for such benefits would be after another manner than now they are. Our souls also would with earnest labor and strife be engaged in this duty.

    There are many benefits that we ask of God in our prayers, which are every whit of as great importance to us as those benefits which Christ asked of God in his agony were to him. It is of as great importance to us that we should be enabled to do the will of God, and perform a sincere, universal, and persevering obedience to his commands, as it was to Christ that he should not fail of doing God’s will in his great work. It is of as great importance to us to be saved from death, as it was to Christ that he should get the victory over death, and so be saved from it. It is of as great, and infinitely greater, importance to us, that Christ’s redemption should be successful in us, as it was to him that God’s will should be done, in the fruits and success of his redemption.

    Christ recommended earnest watchfulness and prayerfulness to his disciples, by prayer and example, both at the same time. When Christ was in his agony, and came and found his disciples asleep, he bid them watch and pray, Matthew 26:41. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” At the same time he set them an example of that which he commanded them, for though they slept he watched, and poured out his soul in those earnest prayers that you have heard of; and Christ has elsewhere taught us to ask those blessings of God that are of infinite importance, as those that will take no denial. We have another example of the great conflicts and engagedness of Christ’s spirit in this duty. Luke 6:12. “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”

    And he was often recommending earnestness in crying to God in prayers.

    In the parable of the unjust judge, Luke 18 at the beginning; “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man; and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for awhile: but afterwards he saith within himself, Though I fear not God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.”

    Luke 6:5, etc. “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

    He taught it in his own way of answering prayer, as in answering the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15:22, etc. “And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith; be it unto thee even as thou wilt.

    And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

    And as Christ prayed in his agony, so I have already mentioned several texts of Scripture wherein we are directed to agonize in our prayers to God. 2. These earnest prayers and strong cries of Christ to the Father in his agony, show the greatness of his love to sinners. For, as has been shown, these strong cries of Jesus Christ were what he offered up to God as a public person, in the capacity of high priest, and in the behalf of those whose priest he was. When he offered up his sacrifice for sinners whom he had loved from eternity, he withal offered up earnest prayers. His strong cries, his tears, and his blood, were all offered up together to God, and they were all offered up for the same end, for the glory of God in the salvation of the elect. They were all offered up for the same persons, viz. for his people. For them he shed his blood and that bloody sweat, when it fell down in clotted lumps to the ground; and for them he so earnestly cried to God at the same time. It was that the will of God might be done in the success of his sufferings, in the success of that blood, in the salvation of those for whom that blood was shed, and therefore this strong crying shows his strong love; it shows how greatly he desired the salvation of sinners. He cried to God that he might not sink and fail in that great undertaking, because if he did so, sinners could not be saved, but all must perish. He prayed that he might get the victory over death, because if he did not get the victory, his people could never obtain that victory, and they can conquer no otherwise than by his conquest. If the Captain of our salvation had not conquered in this sore conflict, none of us could have conquered, but we must have all sunk with him. He cried to God that he might be saved from death, and if he had not been saved from death in his resurrection, none of us could ever have been saved from death. It was a great sight to see Christ in that great conflict that he was in his agony, but every thing in it was from love, that strong love that was in his heart. His tears that flowed from his eyes were from love; his great sweat was from love; his blood, his prostrating himself on the ground before the Father, was from love; his earnest crying to God was from the strength and ardency of his love. It is looked upon as one principal way wherein true love and good will is shown in Christian friends one towards another, heartily to pray one for another; and it is one way wherein Christ directs us to show our love to our enemies, even praying for them. Matthew 5:44. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” But was there ever any prayer that manifested love to enemies to such a degree, as those strong cries and tears of the Son of God for the success of his blood in the salvation of his enemies; the strife and conflict of whose soul in prayer was such as to produce his agony and his bloody sweat? 3. If Christ was thus earnest in prayer to God, that the end of his sufferings might be obtained in the salvation of sinners, then how much ought those sinners to be reproved that do not earnestly seek their own salvation! If Christ offered up such strong cries for sinners as their high priest, that bought their salvation, who stood in no need of sinners, who had been happy from all eternity without them, and could not be made happier by them; then how great is the sottishness of those sinners that seek their own salvation in a dull and lifeless manner; that content themselves with a formal attendance on the duties of religion, with their hearts in the mean time much more earnestly set after other things! They after a sort attend on the duty of social prayer, wherein they pray to God that he would have mercy on them and save them; but after what a poor dull way is it that they do it! they do not apply their heart unto wisdom, nor incline their ear to understanding; they do not cry after wisdom, nor lift up their voice for understanding; they do not seek it as silver, nor search for it as for hidden treasures. Christ’s earnest cries in his agony may convince us that it was not without reason that he insisted upon it, in Luke 13:24. that we should strive to enter in at the strait gate, which, as I have already observed to you, is, in the original, Agwnizesqe, “Agonize to enter in at the strait gate.”

    If sinners would be in a hopeful way to obtain their salvation, they should agonize in that great concern as men that are taking a city by violence, as Matthew 11:12. “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

    When a body of resolute soldiers are attempting to take a strong city in which they meet with great opposition, what violent conflicts are there before the city is taken! How do the soldiers press on against the very mouths of the enemies’ cannon, and upon the points of their swords! When the soldiers are scaling the walls, and making their first entrance into the city, what a violent struggle is there between them and their enemies that strive to keep them out! How do they, as it were, agonize with all their strength! So ought we to seek our salvation, if we would be in a likely way to obtain it. How great is the folly then of those who content themselves with seeking with a cold and lifeless frame of spirit, and so continue from month to month, and from year to year, and yet flatter themselves that they shall be successful!

    How much more still are they to be reproved, who are not in a way of seeking their salvation at all, but wholly neglect their precious souls, and attend the duties of religion no further than is just necessary to keep up their credit among men; and instead of pressing into the kingdom of God, are rather violently pressing on towards their own destruction and ruin, being hurried on by their many head strong lusts, as the herd of swine were hurried on by the legion of devils, and ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters! Matthew 8:32. 4. From what has been said under this proposition, we may learn after what manner Christians ought to go through the work that is before them. Christ had a great work before him when that took place, of which we have an account in the text. Though it was very near the close of his life, yet he then, when his agony began, had the chief part of the work before him that he came into the world to do; which was to offer up that sacrifice which he offered in his last sufferings, and therein to perform the greatest act of his obedience to God. And so the Christians have a great work to do, a service they are to perform to God, that is attended with great difficulty. They have a race set before them that they have to run, a warfare that is appointed them. Christ was the subject of a very great trial in the time of his agony; so God is wont to exercise his people with great trials. Christ met with great opposition in that work that he had to do; so believers are like to meet with great opposition in running the race that is set before them. Christ, as man, had a feeble nature, that was in itself very insufficient to sustain such a conflict, or to support such a load as was coming upon him. So the saints have the same weak human nature, and beside that, great sinful infirmities that Christ had not, which lay them under great disadvantages, and greatly enhance the difficulty of their work. Those great tribulations and difficulties that were before Christ, were the way in which he was to enter into the kingdom of heaven; so his followers must expect, “through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The cross was to Christ the way to the crown of glory, and so it is to his disciples.

    The circumstances of Christ and of his followers in those things are alike, their case, therefore, is the same; and therefore Christ’s behavior under those circumstances, was a fit example for them to follow. They should look to their Captain, and observe after what manner he went through his great work, and the great tribulations which he endured. They should observe after what manner he entered into the kingdom of heaven, and obtained the crown of glory, and so they also should run the race that is set before them. “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Particularly, (1.) When others are asleep they should be awake, as it was with Christ. The time of Christ’s agony was the night season, the time wherein persons were wont to be asleep: it was the time wherein the disciples that were about Christ were asleep; but Christ then had something else to do than to sleep; he had a great work to do; he kept awake, with his heart engaged in this work. So should it be with the believers of Christ; when the souls of their neighbors are asleep in their sins, and under the power of a lethargic insensibility and sloth, they should watch and pray, and maintain a lively sense of the infinite importance of their spiritual concerns. 1 Thessalonians 5:6. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” (2.) They should go through their work with earnest labor, as Christ did. The time when others were asleep was a time when Christ was about his great work, and was engaged in it with all his might, agonizing in it; conflicting and wrestling, in tears, and in blood. So should Christians with the utmost earnestness improve their time with souls engaged in this work, pushing through the opposition they meet with in it, pushing through all difficulties and sufferings there are in the way, running with patience the race set before them, conflicting with the enemies of their souls with all their might; as those that wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places. (3.) This labor and strife should be, that God may be glorified, and their own eternal happiness obtained in a way of doing God’s will. Thus it was with Christ: what he so earnestly strove for was, that he might do the will of God, that he might keep his command, his difficult command, without failing in it, and that in this way God’s will might be done, in that glory to his ever great name, and that salvation to his elect that he intended by his sufferings. Here is an example for the saints to follow in that holy strife, and race, and warfare, which God has appointed them; they should strive to do the will of their heavenly Father, that they may, as the apostle expresses it, Romans 12:2. “Prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,” and that in this way they may glorify God, and may come at last to be happy for ever in the enjoyment of God. (4.) In all the great work they have to do, their eye should be to God for his help to enable them to overcome. Thus did the man Christ Jesus: he strove in his work even to such an agony and bloody sweat.

    But how did he strive? It was not in his own strength, but his eyes were to God, he cries unto him for his help and strength to uphold him, that he might not fail; he watched and prayed, as he desired his disciples to do; he wrestled with his enemies and with his great sufferings, but at the same time wrestled with God to obtain his help, to enable him to get the victory. Thus the saints should use their strength in their Christian course to the utmost, but not as depending on their own strength, but crying mightily to God for his strength to make them conquerors. (5.) In this way they should hold out to the end as Christ did. Christ in this way was successful, and obtained the victory, and won the prize; he overcame, and is set down with the Father in his throne. So Christians should persevere and hold out in their great work to the end; they should continue to run their race till they have come to the end of it; they should be faithful unto the death as Christ was; and then, when they have overcome, they shall sit down with him in his throne.

    Revelation 3:21. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” 5. Hence burdened and distressed sinners, if any such are here present, may have abundant ground of encouragement to come to Christ for salvation.

    Here is great encouragement to sinners to come to this high priest that offered up such strong crying and tears with his blood, for the success of his sufferings in the salvation of sinners. For, 1. Here is great ground of assurance that Christ stands ready to accept of sinners, and bestow salvation upon them; for those strong cries of his that he offered up in the capacity of our high priest, show how earnestly desirous he was of it. If he was not willing that sinners should be saved, be they ever so unworthy of it, then why would he so wrestle with God for it in such a bloody sweat? Would any one so earnestly cry to God with such costly cries, in such great labor and travail of soul, for that, that he did not desire that God should bestow? No, surely! but this shows how greatly his heart was set on the success of his redemption; and therefore since he has by such earnest prayers, and by such a bloody sweat, obtained salvation of the Father to bestow on sinners, he will surely be ready to bestow it upon them, if they come to him for it; otherwise he will frustrate his own design; and he that so earnestly cried to God that his design might not be frustrated, will not, after all, frustrate it himself. 2. Here is the strongest ground of assurance that God stands ready to accept of all those that come to him for mercy through Christ, for this is what Christ prayed for in those earnest prayers, whose prayers were always heard, as Christ says, John 11:42. “And I knew that thou hearest me always.” And especially may they conclude, that heard their high priest in those strong cries that he offered up with his blood, and that especially on the following account. (1.) They were the most earnest prayers that ever were made. Jacob was very earnest when he wrestled with God; and many others have wrestled with God with many tears; yea, doubtless, many of the saints have wrestled with God with such inward labor and strife as to produce powerful effects on the body. But so earnest was Christ, so strong was the labor and fervency of his heart, that he cried to God in a sweat of blood; so that if any earnestness and importunity in prayer ever prevailed with God, we may conclude that that prevailed. (2.) He who then prayed was the most worthy person that ever put up a prayer. He had more worthiness than ever men or angels had in the sight of God, according as by inheritance he has obtained a more excellent name than they; for he was the only-begotten Son of God, infinitely lovely in his sight, the Son in whom he declared once and again he was well-pleased. He was infinitely near and dear to God, and had more worthiness in his eyes ten thousand times than all men and angels put together. And can we suppose any other than that such a person was heard when he cried to God with such earnestness? Did Jacob, a poor sinful man, when he had wrestled with God, obtain of God the name ofISRAEL, and that encomium, that as a prince he had power with God, and prevailed? And did Elijah, who was a man of like passions, and of like corruptions with us, when he prayed, earnestly prevail on God to work such great wonders? And shall not the onlybegotten Son of God, when wrestling with God in tears and blood, prevail, and have his request granted him? Surely there is no room to suppose any such thing; and therefore, there is no room to doubt whether God will bestow salvation on those that believe in him, at his request. (3.) Christ offered up these earnest prayers with the best plea for an answer that ever was offered to God, viz. his own blood; which was an equivalent for the thing that he asked. He not only offered up strong cries, but he offered them up with a price fully sufficient to purchase the benefit he asked. (4.) Christ offered this price and those strong cries both together; for at the same time that he was pouring out these earnest requests for the success of his redemption in the salvation of sinners, he also shed his blood. His blood fell down to the ground at the same instant that his cries went up to heaven. Let burdened and distressed sinners, that are ready to doubt of the efficacy of Christ’s intercession for such unworthy creatures as they, and to call in question God’s readiness to accept them for Christ’s sake, consider these things. Go to the garden where the Son of God was in an agony, and where he cried to God so earnestly, and where his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood, and then see what a conclusion you will draw up from such a wonderful sight. 6. The godly may take great comfort in this, that Christ has as their high priest offered up such strong cries to God. You that have good evidence of your being believers in Christ, and his true followers and servants, may comfort yourselves in this, that Christ Jesus is your high priest, that that blood, which Christ shed in his agony, fell down to the ground for you, and that those earnest cries were sent up to God for you, for the success of his labors and sufferings in all that good you stood in need of in this world, and in your everlasting happiness in the world to come. This may be a comfort to you in all losses, and under all difficulties, that you may encourage your faith, and strengthen your hope, and cause you greatly to rejoice. If you were under any remarkable difficulties, it would be a great comfort to you to have the prayers of some man that you looked upon to be a man of eminent piety, and one that had a great interest at the throne of grace, and especially if you knew that he was very earnest and greatly engaged in prayer for you. But how much more may you be comforted in it, that you have an interest in the prayers and cries of the only-begotten and infinitely worthy Son of God, and that he was so earnest in his prayers for you, as you have heard! 7. Hence we may learn how earnest Christians ought to be in their prayers and endeavors for the salvation of others. Christians are the followers of Christ, and they should follow him in this. We see from what we have heard, how great the labor and travail of Christ’s soul was for others’ salvation, and what earnest and strong cries to God accompanied his labors. Here he hath set us an example. Herein he hath set an example for ministers, who should as co-workers with Christ travail in birth with them till Christ be found in them. Galatians 4:19. “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” They should be willing to spend and be spent for them. They should not only labor for them, and pray earnestly for them, but should, if occasion required, be ready to suffer for them, and to spend not only their strength, but their blood for them. Corinthians 12:15. “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”

    Here is an example for parents, showing how they ought to labor and cry to God for the spiritual good of their children. You see how Christ labored and strove and cried to God for the salvation of his spiritual children; and will not you earnestly seek and cry to God for your natural children? Here is an example for neighbors one towards another how they should seek and cry for the good of one another’s souls, for this is the command of Christ, that they should love one another as Christ loved them. John 15:12. Here is an example for us, showing how we should earnestly seek and pray for the spiritual and eternal good of our enemies, for Christ did all this for his enemies, and when some of those enemies were at that very instant plotting his death, and busily contriving to satiate their malice and cruelty, in his most extreme torments, and most ignominious destruction.

    SERMON But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of he Jew first, and also of the Gentile. (Romans 2:8,9.)

    IT is the drift of the apostle in the three first chapters of this epistle, to show that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, and therefore cannot be justified by works of law, but only by faith in Christ, In the first chapter be had shown that the Gentiles were under sin: in this he shows that the Jews also are under sin, and that however severe they were in their censures upon the Gentiles, yet they themselves did the same things; for which the apostle very much blames them: “Therefore, thou art inexcusable, 0 man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things.” And he warns them not to go on in such a way, by forewarning them of the misery to which they will expose themselves by it, and by giving them to understand, that instead of their misery being less than that of the Gentiles, it would be the greater, for God’s distinguishing goodness to them above the Gentiles. The Jews thought that they should be exempted from future wrath, because God had chosen them to be his peculiar people. But the apostle informs them that there should be indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to every soul of man; not only to the Gentiles, but to every soul; and to the Jews first and chiefly, when they did evil, because their sins were more aggravated.

    In the text we find, 1. A description of wicked men; in which may be observed those qualifications of wicked men which have the nature of a cause, and those which have the nature of an effect.

    Those qualifications of wicked men here mentioned that have the nature of a cause, are their being contentious, and not obeying the truth, but obeying unrighteousness. By their being contentious, is meant their being contentious against the truth, their quarrelling with the gospel, their finding fault with its declarations and offers. Unbelievers find many things in the ways of God at which they stumble, and by which they are offended. They are always quarrelling and finding fault with one thing or another, whereby they are kept from believing the truth and yielding to it. Christ is to them a stone of stumbling, and rock of offence. They do not obey the truth, that is, they do not yield to it, they do not receive it with faith. That yielding to the truth and embracing it, which there is in saving faith, is called obeying, in Scripture. Romans 6:17’. “But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Hebrews 5:9. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Romans 1:5. “By whom we have received grace and or obedience to the faith among all nations for is name. But they obey unrighteousness instead of yielding to the gospel, they are under the power and dominion of sin, and are slaves to their lusts and corruptions.

    It is in those qualifications of wicked men that their wickedness radically consists; their unbelief and opposition to the truth, and their slavish subjection to lust, are the foundation of all wickedness.

    Those qualifications of wicked men, which have the nature of an effect, are their doing evil, This is the least of their opposition against the gospel, and of their slavish subjection to their lusts; that they do evil. Those wicked principles are the foundation, and their wicked practice is the superstructure; those were the root, and this is the fruit. 2. The punishment of wicked men, in which may be also noticed the cause and the effect.

    Those things mentioned in their punishment that have the nature of a cause, are indignation and wrath; i.e. the indignation and wrath of God. It is the anger of God that will render wicked men miserable; they will be the subjects of divine wrath, and hence will arise their whole punishment.

    Those things in their punishment that have the nature of an effect, are tribulation and anguish. Indignation and wrath in God, will work extreme sorrow, trouble, and anguish of heart, in them.

    Doctrine. Indignation, wrath, misery, and anguish of soul, are the portion that God has allotted to wicked men.

    Every one of mankind must have the portion that belongs to him. God allots to each one his portion; and the portion of the wicked is nothing but wrath, and distress, and anguish of soul. Though they may enjoy a few empty and vain pleasures and delights, for a few days while they stay in this world, yet that which is allotted to them by the Possessor and Governor of all things to be their portion, is only indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. This is not the portion that wicked men choose; the portion that they choose is worldly happiness, yet it is the portion that God carves out for them; it is the portion that they in effect choose for themselves. For they choose those things that naturally and necessarily lead to it, and those that they are plainly told, times without number, will issue in it. Proverbs 8:36. “But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.” But whether they choose it or not, this will and must be the portion to all eternity of all who live and die wicked men.

    Indignation and wrath shall pursue them as long as they live in this world, shall drive them out of the world, and shall follow them into another world; and there wrath and misery shall abide upon them throughout eternity.

    The method that I shall take in treating this subject, is to describe the wrath and misery of which wicked men shall be the subjects, both here and hereafter, in the successive parts and periods of it, according to the order of time.

    I. I shall describe the wrath that often pursues wicked men in this life.

    Indignation and wrath often begin with them here. 1. God oftentimes in wrath leaves them to themselves. They are left in their sins, and left to undo themselves, and work out their own ruin; he lets them alone in sin. Hosea 4:17. “ Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.” He often leaves them to go great lengths in sin, and does not afford them that restraining grace that he does to others. He leaves them to their own blindness, so that they always remain ignorant of God and Christ, and of the things that belong to their peace. They are sometimes left to hardness of heart, to be stupid and senseless, so that nothing will ever thoroughly awaken them. They are left to their own hearts’ lusts, to continue in some wicked practices all their days. Some are left to their covetousness, some to drunkenness, some to uncleanness, some to a proud, contentious, and envious spirit, and some to a spirit of finding fault and quarrelling with God. God leaves them to their folly, to act exceedingly foolishly, to delay and put off the concerns of their souls from time to time never to think the present time the best, but always to keep it at a distance, and foolishly continue flattering themselves with hopes of long life, and to put far away the evil day, and to bless themselves their hearts, and say, “ I shall have peace, though a drunkenness to thirst.” Some are so left that they are miserably hardened and senseless, when others all around them are awakened, and greatly concerned, and inquire what they shall do to be saved.

    Sometimes God leaves men to a fatal backsliding for a misimprovement of the strivings of his Spirit, They are let alone, to backslide perpetually.

    Dreadful is the life and condition of those who are thus left of God. We have instances of the misery of such in God’s holy word, particularly of Saul and Judas. Such are, sometimes, very much left to the power of Satan to tempt them, to hurry them on in wicked courses, and exceedingly to aggravate their own guilt and misery. 2. Indignation and wrath are sometimes exercised towards them in this world, by their being cursed in all that concerns them They have this curse of God following them in every thing. They are cursed in all their enjoyments. If they are in prosperity, it is cursed to them; if they possess riches, if they have honour, if they enjoy pleasure, there is the curse of God that attends it. Psalm xcii. 7. “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed for ever.”

    There is a curse of God that attends their ordinary food: every morsel of bread which they eat, and every drop of water which they drink. Psalm 119:22. “Let their table become a snare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” They are cursed in all their employments, in whatsoever they put their hands to; when they go into the field to labour, or are at work at their respective trades.

    Deuteronomy 28:16.

    Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.” The curse of God remains in the houses where they dwell, and brimstone is scattered in their habitations. Job 18:15. The curse of God attends them in the afflictions which they meet with, whereas the afflictions that good men meet with, are fatherly corrections, and are sent in mercy. The afflictions which wicked men meet with are in wrath, and come from God as an enemy, and are the foretaste of their everlasting punishment. The curse of God attends them also in their spiritual enjoyments and opportunities, and it would have been better for them not to have been born in a land of light.

    Their having the Bible and the sabbath, is only to aggravate their guilt and misery. The word of God when preached to them is a savour of death unto death. Better would it be for them, if Christ had never come into the world, if there had never been any offer of a Saviour. Life itself is a curse to them; they live only to fill up the measure of their sins. What they seek in all the enjoyments, and employments, and concerns of life, is their own happiness; but they never obtain it; they never obtain any true comfort, all the comforts which they have are worthless and unsatisfying. If they lived a hundred years with never so much of the world in their possession, their life is all filled up with vanity. All that they have is vanity of vanities, they find no true rest for their souls, they do but feed on the east wind, they have no real contentment. Whatever outward pleasures they may have, their souls are starving. They have no true peace of conscience, they have nothing of the favour of God. Whatever they do, they live in vain, and to no purpose; they are useless in the creation of God, they do not answer the end of their being. They live without God, and have not the presence of God, nor any communion with him. But on the contrary, all that they have and all that they do, does but contribute to their own misery, and render their future and everlasting state the more dreadful. The best of wicked men live but miserable and wretched lives, with all their prosperity; their lives are most undesirable, and whatever they have, the wrath of God abides upon them. 3. After a time they must die. Ecclesiastes 9:3. “This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”

    Death is a far different thing when it befalls wicked men, from what it is when it befalls good men; to the wicked it is in execution of the curse of the law, and of the wrath of God. When a wicked man dies, God cuts him off in wrath, he is taken away as by a tempest of wrath, he is driven away in his wickedness. Proverbs 14:32. “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his eat.” Job 18:18. “He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.” Job 27:21. “The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth, and as a storm, hurleth him out of his place.” Though wicked men, while they live, may live in worldly prosperity, vet they cannot live here always, but they must die. The place that knoweth him shall know him no more; and the eye that hath seen him shall see him no more in the land of the living.

    Their bounds are unchangeably set, and when they are come to those bounds they must go, and must leave all their worldly good things. If they have lived in outward glory their glory shall not descend after them; they get nothing while they live that they can carry away. Ecclesiastes 5:15. “As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.” He must leave all his substance unto others. It they are at ease and quietness, death will put an end to their quietness, will spoil all their carnal mirth, and will strip them of all their glory. As they came naked into the world, so naked must they return, and go as they came. If they have laid up much goods for many years, if they have laid in stores, as they hope, for great comfort and pleasure, death will cut them off from all. Luke 12:16, etc. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? and he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided.” If they have many designs and projects in their breasts for promoting their outward prosperity and worldly advantage, when death comes, it cuts all off at one blow. Psalm cxlvi. 4. “ His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” And so whatever diligence they have had in seeking their salvation, death will disappoint all such diligence, it will not wait for them to accomplish their designs and fulfil their schemes. If they have pleased, and pampered, and adorned their bodies, death will spoil all their pleasure and their glory; it will change their countenances to a pale and ghastly aspect. Instead of their gay apparel and beautiful ornaments, they shall have only a winding-sheet; their house must be the dark and silent grave; and that body which they deified, shall turn to loathsome rottenness, shall be eaten of worms, and turn to dust. Some wicked men die in youth, wrath pursues them, and soon overtakes them; they are not suffered to live out half their days. Job 36:14. “They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.” Psalm 55:23. “But thou, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.” They are sometimes overtaken in the very midst of their sin and vanity; and death puts a sudden end to all their youthful pleasures. They are often stopped in the midst of a career in sin, and then if their hearts cleave ever so fast to those things, they must be remit from them; they have no other good but outward good; but then they must eternally forsake it, they must close their eyes for ever on all that has been dear and pleasant to them here. 4. Wicked men are oftentimes the subjects of much tribulation and anguish of heart on their death-beds. Sometimes the pains of body are very extreme and dreadful and what they endure in those agonies and struggles for life, after they are past speaking, and when body and soul are rending asunder, none can know. Hezekiah had an awful sense of it; he compares it to a lion’s breaking all his bones. Isaiah 38:12,13. “ Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off as a weaver my life; he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.”

    But this is but little to what is sometimes undergone by wicked men in their souls is hen they are on their death-beds. Death appears sometimes with an exceedingly terrible aspect to them; when it comes and stares them in the face, they cannot bear to behold it. It is always so, if wicked men have notice of the approach of death, and have reason and conscience in exercise, and are not either stupid or distracted. When this king of terrors comes to show himself to them, and they are called forth to meet him, how do they dread the conflict! But meet him they must: “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.” Death comes to them with all his dreadful armour, and his, sting not taken away; and it is enough to fill their souls with torment that cannot be expressed. It is an awful thing for a person to be lying on a sick bed, to be given over by physicians, to have friends stand weeping round the bed as expecting to part with him; and in such circumstances as those, to have no hope, to be without an interest in Christ, and to have the guilt of his sins lying on his soul, to be going out of the world without his peace being made with God, to stand before his holy judgment-seat in all his sins, without any thing to plead, or answer. To see the only opportunity to prepare for eternity coming immediately to an end, after which there shall be no more time of probation, but his case will be unalterably fixed, and there never will be another offer of a Saviour; for the soul to come just to the very edge of the boundless gulf of eternity, and insensibly to launch forth into it, without any God or Saviour to take care of it; to be brought to the edge of the precipice, and to see himself falling down into the lake of fire and brimstone, and to feel that he has no power to stop himself: who can tell the shrinkings and misgivings of heart in such a case? how does he endeavour to hang back, but yet he must go on; it is in vain to wish for further opportunity! O how happy does he think those that stand about him, who may yet live, may have their lives continued longer, when he must go immediately into an endless eternity! How does he wish it might be with him as with those who have a longer time to prepare for their trial! but it must not be so. Death, sent on purpose to summon him, will give him no release nor respite: he must go before the holy judgment-seat of God as he is, to have his everlasting state determined according to his works. To such persons, how differently do things appear from what they did in the time of health, and when they looked at death as at a distance! How differently does sin look to them now; those sins which they used to make light of! How dreadful is it now to look back and consider how they have spent their time, how foolish they have been, how they have gratified and indulged their lusts, and lived in ways of wickedness; how careless they have been, and how they have neglected their opportunities and advantages, how they have refused to hearken to counsel, and have not repented in spite of all the warnings that were given! Proverbs 5:I 1,12, 13. “And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, 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!”

    How differently does the world appear to them now! They used to set much by it, and have their hearts taken u p with it; but what does it avail them now? how insignificant are all their riches! Proverbs 11:4. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”

    What different thoughts have they now of God, and of his wrath! They used to make light of the wrath of God, but how terrible does it now appear! How does their heart shrink at the thoughts of appearing before such a God! how different are their thoughts of time! Now time appears precious; and O what would they not give for a little more time! Some have in such circumstances been brought to cry out, O, a thousand worlds for an hour, for a moment! And how differently does eternity now appear! now it is awful indeed. Some have been brought on a death-bed to cry out, O that word Eternity! Eternity! Eternity! What a dismal gulf does it appear to them, when they come to the very brink! They often at such times cry for mercy, and cry in vain. God called, and they would not hear. “They set at nought his counsels, and would none of his reproofs. Now also he laughs at their calamity, and mocks when their fear cometh.” They beseech others to pray for them, they send for ministers, but all often fails them.

    They draw nearer and nearer to death, and eternity comes more and more immediately in view. And who can express their horror, when they feel themselves clasped in the cold arms of death, when their breath fails more and more, and their eyes begin to be fixed and grow dim! That which is then felt by them, cannot be told nor conceived. Some wicked men have much of the horror and despair of hell in their last sickness. “All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness.” (Ecclesiastes 5:17.)

    II. I shall describe the wrath that attends wicked men hereafter. 1. The soul, when it is separated from the body, shall be cast down into hell. There is without doubt a particular judgment by which every man is to be tried at death, beside the general judgment: for the soul, as soon as it departs from the body, appears before God to be judged. Ecclesiastes 12, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it:” that is, to be judged and disposed of by him.

    Hebrews 9:27. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” But this particular judgment is probably no such solemn transaction as that which will be at the day of judgment; the soul must appear before God, but not in the manner that men shall appear at the end of the world. The souls of wicked men shall not go to heaven to appear before God, neither shall Christ descend from heaven for the soul to appear before him; neither is it to be supposed, that the soul shall be carried to any place where there is some special symbol of the divine presence, in order to be judged. But as God is every where present, so the soul shall be made immediately sensible of his presence. Souls in a separate state shall be sensible of the presence of God and of his operations in another manner than we now are. All separate spirits may be said to be before God: the saints are in his glorious presence, and the wicked in hell are in his dreadful presence; they are said to be tormented in the presence of the Lamb.

    Revelation 14:10. “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” So the soul of a wicked man, at its departure from the body, will be made immediately sensible that it is before an infinitely holy and dreadful God and his own final Judge; and will then see how terrible a God he is, he will see how holy a God he is, how infinitely he hates sin; he will be sensible of the greatness of God’s anger against sin, and how dreadful is his displeasure. Then will he be sensible of the dreadful majesty and power of God, and how fearful a thing it is to fall into his hands. Then the soul shall come naked with all its guilt, and in all its filthiness, a vile, loathsome, abominable creature, an enemy to God, a rebel against him, with the guilt of all its rebellion and disregard of God’s commands, and contempt of his authority, and slight of the glorious gospel, before God as its Judge. This will fill the soul with horror and amazement.

    It is not to be supposed that this judgment will be attended with any voice or any such outward transactions as the judgment at the end of the world; but God shall manifest himself in his strict justice inwardly, to the immediate view of the soul, and to the sense and apprehension of the conscience. This particular judgment probably will not hinder, but that the soul shall be cast into hell immediately when it goes from the body; as soon as ever the soul departs from the body, the soul shall know what its state and condition are to be to all eternity. As long as there is life, there is hope.

    The man, while he lived, though his case was exceedingly dreadful, yet had some hope; when he lay dying, there was a possibility of salvation. But when once the union between soul and body is broken, then that moment the case becomes desperate, and there remains no hope, no possibility. On their death-beds, perhaps, they had some hope that God would pity them and hear their cries, or that he would hear the prayers of their pious friends for them; they were ready to lay hold on something which they had at some time met with, some religious affection or some change in their external conduct, and to flatter themselves that they were then converted; they were able to indulge some degree of hope from the moral lives that they had lived, that God would have respect to them and save them; but as soon as ever the soul parts from the body, from that moment the case will be absolutely determined, there will then be an end for ever to all hope, to every thing that men hang upon in this life; the soul then shall know certainly. that it is to be miserable to all eternity, without any remedy. It shall see that God is its enemy; it shall see its Judge clothed in his wrath and vengeance. Then its misery will begin, it will that moment be swallowed up in despair; the great gulf will be fixed between it and happiness, the door of mercy will be for ever shut up, the irrevocable sentence will be passed. Then shall the wicked know what is before them.

    Before, the soul was in distress for fear how it would be; but now, all its fears shall come upon it; it shall come upon it as a mighty flood, and there will be no escaping. The soul was full of amazement before through fear; but now, who can conceive the amazement that fills it that moment when all hope is cut off, and it knows that there never will be any difference!

    When a good man dies, his soul is conducted by holy angels to heaven.

    Luke 16:22. “And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried.”

    So we may well suppose that when a wicked man dies, his soul is seized by wicked angels; that they are round his bed ready to seize the miserable soul as soon as it is parted from the body. And with what fierceness and fury do those cruel spirits fly upon their prey; and the soul shall be left in their hands. There shall be no good angels to guard and defend it. God will take no merciful care of it, there is nothing to help it against those cruel spirits that shall lay hold of it to carry it to hell, there to torment it for ever. God will leave it wholly in their hands, and will give it up to their possession, when it comes to die; and it shall be carried down into hell, to the abode of devils and damned spirits. If the fear of hell on a death-bed sometimes fills the wicked with amazement, how will they be overwhelmed when they feel its torments, when they shall find them not only as great but far greater than their fears! They shall find them far beyond what they could conceive of before they felt them; for none know the power of God’s anger, but they that experience it. Psalm 90:11. “Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.”

    Departed spirits of wicked men are doubtless carried to some particular place in the universe, which God has prepared to be the receptacle of his wicked, rebellious, and miserable subjects; a place where God’s avenging justice shall be glorified; a place built to be the prison, where devils and wicked men are reserved till the day of judgment. 2. Here the souls of wicked men shall suffer extreme and amazing misery in a separate state, until the resurrection. This misery is not indeed their full punishment; nor is the happiness of the saints before the day of judgment their fill happiness, It is with the souls of wicked men as it is with devils.

    Though the devils suffer extreme torment now, yet they do not suffer their complete punishment; and therefore it is said, that they are cast down to hell, and bound in chains. 2 Peter 2:4. “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Jude 6. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”

    They are reserved in the state they are in; and for what are they reserved, but for a greater degree of punishment? and therefore they are said to tremble for fear. James 2:19. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble.” Hence when Christ was on earth, the devils were greatly afraid that Christ was come to torment them.

    Matthew 8:29. “And, behold, they cried out, saving, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” Mark 5:7. “And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.”

    But yet they are there in extreme and inconceivable misery: they are there deprived of all good, they have no rest nor comfort, and they are subject to the wrath of God; God there executes wrath on them without mercy, and they are swallowed up in wrath. Luke 16:24. “And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on 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.” Here we are told that, when the rich man died, he lift up his eyes being in torment, and he tells Abraham that he is tormented in a flame; and it seems that the flame was not only about him, but in him; he therefore asks for a drop of water to cool his tongue. This doubtless is to represent to us that they are full of the wrath of God as it were with fire, and they shall there be tormented in the midst of devils and damned spirits; and they shall have inexpressible torment from their own consciences. God’s wrath is the fire that never shall be quenched, and conscience is the worm that never dies. How much do men suffer from horror of conscience sometimes in this world, but how much more in hell! What bitter and tormenting reflections will they have concerning the folly they have been guilty of in their lives, in so neglecting their souls, when they had such an opportunity for repentance; that they went on so foolishly to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, to add to the record of their sins from day to day, to make their misery vet greater and greater; how they have kindled the fires of hell for themselves, and spent their lives in gathering the fuel! They will not be able to help revolving such thoughts in their minds; and how tormenting will they be! And those who go to hell, never can escape thence; there they remain imprisoned till the day of judgment, and their torments remain continually. Those wicked men who died many years ago, their souls went to hell, and there they are still; those who went to hell in former ages of the world, have been in hell ever since, all the while suffering torment. They have nothing else to spend their time in there, but to suffer torment, they are kept in being for no other purpose; and though they have many companions in hell, yet they are no comfort to them, for there is no friend, no love, no pity, no quietness, no prospect, no hope. 3. The separate souls of the wicked, besides the present misery that they suffer, shall be in amazing fear of their more full punishment at the day of judgment. Though their punishment in their separate state be exceedingly dreadful, and far more than they can hear, though it be so great as to sink and crush them, yet this is not all; they are reserved for a much greater and more dreadful punishment at the day of judgment; their torment will then be vastly augmented, and continue in that augmentation to all eternity.

    Their punishment will be so much greater then, that their misery in this separate state is but us an imprisonment before an execution; they, as well as the devils, are bound in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. Separate spirits are called “spirits in prison.” 1 Peter 3:19. “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” And if the imprisonment be so dreadful, how dreadful indeed will he the execution!

    When we are under any great pain of body at any time, how do we dread the least addition to it! its continuance is greatly dreaded, much more its increase. How much more will those separate spirits that suffer the torments of hell, dread that augmentation and completing of their torment which there will be at the day of judgment, when what they feel already, is vastly more than they can support themselves; when they shall be as it were begging for one drop of water to cool their tongues, when they would give ten thousand worlds for the least abatement of their misery! How sinking will it be to think that instead of that the day is coming when God shall come forth out of heaven to sentence them to a far more dreadful degree of misery, and to continue them under it for ever! What experience they have of the dreadfulness of God’s wrath convinces them fully how terrible a thing his wrath is; they will therefore be exceedingly afraid of that full wrath which he will execute at the day of judgment; they will have no hope of escaping it, they will know assuredly that it will come.

    The fear of this makes the devils, those mighty, proud, and stubborn spirits, to tremble: they believe what is threatened, and therefore tremble. If this fear overcomes them, how much more will it overwhelm the souls of wicked men! All hell trembles at the thoughts of the day of judgment. 4. When the day of judgment comes they shall rise to the resurrection of damnation: When that day comes, all mankind that have died from off the face of the earth shall arise; not only the righteous, but also the wicked.

    Daniel 12:2. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake; some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Revelation 20:13. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged, every man according to his works.” The damned in hell know not the time when the day of judgment will be, but when the time comes it will be made known, and it will be the most dreadful news that ever was told in that world of misery. It is always a doleful time in hell; the world of darkness is always full of shrieks and doleful cries; but when the news is heard, that the day a p pointed for the judgment is come, hell will be filled with louder shrieks and more dreadful cries than ever before. When Christ comes in the clouds of heaven to judgment, the news of it will fill both earth and hell with mourning and bitter crying. We read that all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him, and so shall all the inhabitants of hell; and then must the souls of the wicked come up to be united to their bodies, and stand before the Judge. They shall not come willingly, but shall be dragged forth as a malefactor is dragged out of his dungeon to execution. They were unwilling when they died to leave the earth to go to hell; but now they will be much more unwilling to come out of hell to go to the last judgment. It will be no deliverance to them, it will only be a coming forth to their execution. They will hang back, but must come; the devils and damned spirits must come up together. The last trumpet will then be heard, this will be the most terrible sound to wicked men and devils that ever was heard; and not only the wicked, that shall then be found dwelling on the earth, shall hear it, but also those that are in their graves. John 5:28,29.

    Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation;’ and then must the souls of the wicked enter their bodies again, which will be prepared only to be organs of torment and misery. It will be a dreadful sight to them when they come to their bodies again, those bodies which were formerly used by them as the organs and instruments of sin and wickedness, and whose appetites and lusts they indulged and gratified. The parting of soul and body was dreadful to them when they died, but their meeting again at the resurrection will be more dreadful. They shall receive their bodies loathsome and hideous, agreeably to that shame and everlasting contempt to which they shall arise. As the bodies of the saints shall arise more glorious than when on earth, and shall be like unto Christ’s glorious body, so we may well suppose that the bodies of the wicked will arise proportionably more deformed and hideous.

    Oftentimes in this world a polluted soul is hid in a fine and comely body, but it will not be so then when things shall appear as t