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on it to a congregation of believers, who are persuaded, that God cannot be wise, just, or powerful, if wickedness, triumphant in this world, and persevered in to the last, shall not be humbled in the next; who know, that we cannot give up this fundamental article of religion, without dethroning the Creator and Governor of the world, and seating either blind fortune, or diabolical malice, in his place.
Hath God employed infinite wisdom and goodness in making the world ? and does he employ neither in the government of it? Hath God condescended to form, with such amazing wisdom, not only the plant and the animal, but even the insect, too small to be seen by the naked eye? and hath he no care of what he hath made ? Or, is his providence so taken up in directing the course of the seasons, and watching over the minute or inanimate parts of his creation, that there is none left for man,' whom he hath made only a little lower than the angels,' and to whom he hath put the world in subjection ? Does God 'number our hairs ?' and will he not register our actions? 'Ifa sparrow, in value but half a farthing, cannot fall to the ground without the attention' of this universal Father, shall we wink and forget, when the just man perishes in the paws of oppression and persecution? Can so wise, so gracious a Creator, be so unjust and cruel a Governor? No, no; we might, with more reason, argue against the reality of our own being, than against the certainty of those punishments, which, religion tells us, God will, in a future life, inflict on the wicked. Reason is by no means so much concerned to prove, that we exist, as that God is; and that he will render to every man according to his deeds; to them, who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that doth evil.' While we believe in this, we do but believe, what reason and common sense requires, that the moral world is governed by wisdom and goodness equal to those that schemed the natural. But we no sooner look on this as an error, than we regard the whole creation as a vast body of contradictions; than we level ourselves with the beast that perisheth, and God with the author of evil. Let the wicked therefore be assured, that neither
God nor reason hath lied to him, when they told him, he should hereafter suffer the just punishment of his wickedness; and let him now hear, with tingling ears, and a trembling heart, the severity of those torments that await his evil deeds, if he do not speedily and deeply repent of them.
In the first place, he will • be cut off from God,' and 'shut out from the kingdom of heaven. Then shall he weep, and gnash his teeth,' as our Saviour saith, when he sees Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and himself thrust out.' Plotinus, the heathen, says, This alone is sufficient to make a man most miserable. And St. Chrysostom boldly maintains, that to be thus for ever cut off from God, is worse than all the torments of hell. To be finally and irrecoverably separated from God, who is the fountain of all happiness, whose smiles are the light of heaven, and the eternal life of the just, and to be everlastingly banished from the glories of his kingdom, and the blessed society of all that is good, must be considered by those, who have any knowledge or love of God, as inconceivably afflicting. If the old Romans could so highly value the happiness of living in their earthly community, as to make banishment from thence their severest punishment, what must we think of his condition, who, by the decree of infinite wisdom and justice, is forced to turn his back, to all eternity, on God and heaven!
In the second place, the wicked, being thus banished from the presence of God, is not allowed the wretched liberty of ranging through the meanest part of the creation, nor through the blanker regions of boundless space; but is imprisoned with the devil and his angels, in everlasting chains.' He, who made no other use of liberty, but to become licentiously wicked, is to be no longer trusted with it. How will his wild ungovernable pride, and other lawless passions, brook a total restraint, and an endless slavery to the most tyrannical of all beings ?
But, in the third place, to increase the misery of his con finement, it will be attended with circumstances of shame and disgrace, beyond the power of imagination to conceive. • He will be raised up,' as Daniel tells us, ' from his sleep in the dust of the earth, to shame, and everlasting contempt ;' to a shameful exposure of all his abominable crimes, though ever so secretly committed; and to a dreadful condemnation in the sight of angels and men. His whole nature, defaced and foul as it was with sin before, will now become tenfold more deformed, and change its already odious appearance into the horrible aspect and figure of a devil.
And then, in the fourth place, lest so hideous a monster should any longer pollute the light, or disgrace the other works of God, he shall be cast into outer darkness, into the blackness of darkness,' where he must bid farewell for ever, not only to the glorious light of God's countenance, but to every glimpse of material light from the sun, moon, and stars. When he was alive, he loved darkness, he loved the works of darkness ;' and now he is to make one endless night of all eternity, which no dawn, no day-spring, shall ever cheer.
In the fifth place, as, during his life, he delighted in no other companions but the wickedest of men, so now he is to have no other in the place of his imprisonment but devils, and men as wicked as devils ; for · he is cast into the lake with the devil, and the beast, and the false prophet;' that is, * with all the filth and the off-scoarings of the moral world.' Here reign the treachery and venom of the old serpent. Here the invidious dispositions, and virulent habits, of each fiend, or fiend-like spirit, shall make him a perfect fagot and fire-brand to all the rest. Here pride, rage, envy, malice, mutual reproach, and mutual revenge, armed with infernal fire, and dragons' stings, will render them the shocking executioners of Almighty vengeance on one another.
In the sixth place, all these frightful circumstances of his misery are to be heightened by guilt and self-reproach, by the bitter after-taste of sin, by the gnawings of that conscious' worm that dieth not. When hell arms all its torments against him, this will continually remind him of those enormous crimes for which he suffers ; will tell him, that God is just, and force him every moment to repeat the divine sentence against himself. What will it profit him, though the devils should, for a moment, cease to torment him, since he is now a perpetual accuser, tormentor, and devil, to himself?
In the seventh place, his prison is to be a lake, a furnace of fire and brimstone, that can never be quenched.' Let him consider, before it is too late, if he cannot endure the effects of fire on the smallest spot of his skin, or in the remotest part of his body, how he will be able to stand the force of so vehement a fire surrounding him on all sides. Let him ask himself, in the words of Isaiah, · Who shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?'
Again, the more effectually to damp our sinful inclinations, the future torments of the damned are represented in holy Scripture, as a 'continual death;' the lake of fire is, in the Revelation, called the second death,' that death, to which all are made subject through sin, and from which we are redeemed through faith, by the blood of Christ.
Now, the first death, which lasts but for a very little time, is so shocking to nature, that it is called the king of terrors ; and what then must be that death, that is never to have an end? It is a sort of hell to the mind of him who hopes for salvation, even to meditate on the agonies and horrors of dying without end. With what unutterable dread and anguish then ought it to amaze the soul of the guilty, who cannot but look on it as his eternal portion?
Lastly, the sense of God's eternal wrath, considered in itself, will infinitely inflame the miseries of the reprobate. God is present every where, and consequently present to the damned in his indignation and displeasure : If,' says David, speaking to God, 'I go down to hell, thou art there also.'. We are told in the Scripture, that,' when the wicked awake to judgment, they will 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? We see by this, what terrors the very countenance of the Almighty carries in it to the eyes of the guilty. They would be glad to hide themselves at the centre of the earth, from the fierceness of his anger, from those looks of indignation at sin. And even in the place of torment, if it were possible for their eyes to escape his, they would dive to the nethermost hell to do it. But there, to their unspeakable misery, they see; and to their eternal confusion, they are seen. Yet they are so hardened and lost in sin, that all this serves only to fill them with a dreadful mixture of rage and terror, by which, being driven to an infernal kind of distraction, they fear, and yet rail at, God; they tremble and blaspheme at once.
Who now can bear to dwell on the shocking review of these punishments? How does it terrify the imagination, how does it distress the heart of man, to look down through Scripture into this deep and bottomless abyss of misery, and to hear the weepings, the wailings, the gnashings of teeth, the yells and execrations uttered by so great a multitude, in their extremity of anguish! And how do our own guilty consciences, in the midst of this alarming contemplation, re-echo to the horrible concert! Here the guilty are tossed in a boundless ocean of misery, without the least patience to weather it, without the least prospect of shore, without the least hope of relief from time or repentance. Despair, eternal despair, of mercy and relief, will give this punishment, so sharp in itself, its keenest point, its most deadly sting. Were the wicked to be, only for a time, banished from God, confined in chains of darkness, and exposed to infamy; were he, for a time only, to be stung with the reproaches of guilt, to be tortured in fire and brimstone; or were he, for a limited time, to endure the frowns of infinite justice, and almighty anger; his misery would be rather purgative than penal, rather a reward than a punishment; for what proportion do any limited number of ages, spent in misery, bear to an eternity of happiness ? Are they not infinitely less than a single moment to ten thousand years ? Or, to take the matter in another light, can fire and brimstone reform? Or can a man learn virtue, and train his soul to the love of God, in hell? Or shall he, without reformation, be admitted to heaven? Shall he be made happy, while he is yet wicked? Or shall he be glorified, while he is still a scandal to the creation? As the inveterately' wicked must be wicked still,' so he must be for ever miserable ; 'for the day of the wicked shall come, when their iniquity shall have no end.' And can the punishment of the guilty have an end, while he still continues in his sins? Reason will not suffer us to speak in this manner; nor will the word of God. In that we are told, “The worm