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SERMON IX.

THE FUTURE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED UNAVOID

ABLE AND INTOLERABLE.

EZEK. XXII. 14.

Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days

that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.

In the former part of this chapter, we have a dreadful catalogue of the sins of Jerusalem ; as you may see from the first to the thirteenth verse. In the thirteenth, which is the verse preceding the text, God manifests his great displeasure and fearful wrath against them for their iniquities. “Behold, I have smitten my hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.” The expression of God's smiting his hand, signifies the greatness of his anger, and his preparing himself, as it were, to execute wrath answerable to their heinous crimes. It is an allusion to what we sometimes see in men when they are surprised, by seeing or hearing of some horrid offence, or most intolerable injury, which very much stirs their spirits, and animates them with high resentment; on such an occasion they will rise up in wrath and smite their hands together, as an expression of the heat of their indignation, and full resolution to be avenged on those who bave committed the injury; as in chap. xxii. 17. “I will also smite mine bands together, and I will cause my fury to rest; I the Lord have said it.” Then, in the text, the punishment of that people is represented.

1. The nature of their punishment is more generally represented in that, God will undertake to deal with them. The prophets could do nothing with them. God had sent them one after another; but those sinners were too strong for them, and

* Dated, April 1741. VOL. VI.

12

beat one, and killed another. Therefore now God himself undertakes to deal with them.

2. Their punishment is more particularly represented in three things, viz. The intolerableness, the remedilessness, and the unavoidableness of it. The intolerableness of it: can thine heart endure? Its remedilessness, or the impossibility of their doing any thing for their own relief: can thine hands be strong ? ---Its unavoidableness : I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.

DOCTRINE.

Since God hath undertaken to deal with impenitent sinners, they shall neither shun the threatened misery, nor deliver themselves out of it, nor can they bear it.

In handling this doctrine I shall, 1. Shew what is implied in God's undertaking to deal with impenitent sinners. 2. That therefore they cannot avoid punishment. 3. That they cannot in any measure deliver themselves from it; or do any thing for their own relief under it. 4. That they cannot bear it. 5. I shall answer an inquiry; and then proceed to the use.

1. I shall shew what is implied in God's undertaking to deal with impenitent sinners. Others are not able to deal with them. They baffle all the means used with them by those that are appointed to teach and to rule over them. They will not yield to parents, or to the counsels, warnings, or reproofs of ministers : they prove obstinate and stiff-hearted. Therefore God undertakes to deal with them. This implies the following things :

1. That God will reckon with them, and take of them satisfaction to his justice. In this world God puts forth his authority to command them, and to require their subjection to him. ľn his commands he is very positive, strictly requiring of them the performance of duties, and as positively forbidding things contrary to their duty. But they have no regard to these commands. God continues commanding, and they continue rebelling. They make nothing of God's authority. God threatens, but they despise his threatenings. They make nothing of dishonouring God: they care not how much their behaviour is to his dishonour. He offers them mercy, if they will repent and return: but they despise his mercy as well as his wrath.God calleth, but they refuse. Thus they are continually plunging themselves deeper and deeper in debt, and at the same time imagine they shall escape the payment of the debt, and design entirely to rob God of his due.

But God hath undertaken to right himself. He will reckon with them; he hath undertaken to see that the debts due to him

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are paid. All their sins are written in his book; not one of them is forgotten, and every one must be paid. If God be wise enough, and strong enough, he will have full satisfaction ; he will exact the very utmost farthing. He undertakes it as his part, as what belongs to him, to see himself righted, wherein he bath been wronged. Deut. xxxii. 35. “To me belongeth vengeance.” Ibid. vii, 10. “He will not be slack to him that hateth him; he will repay him to his face.”

2. He hath undertaken to vindicate the honour of his majesty. His majesty they despise. They hear that he is a great God; but they despise bis greatness; they look upon him as worthy of contempt, and treat him accordingly. They hear of him by the name of a great king; but his authority they regard not, and sometimes trample upon it for years together.

But God hath not left the honour of his majesty wholly to their care. Though they now trample it in the dust, yet that is no sign that it will finally be lost. If God had left it wholly in their hands, it would indeed be lost. But God doth not leave his honour and his glory with his enemies; it is too precious in his eyes to be so neglected. He hath reserved the care of it to himself: he will see to it, that his own injured majesty is vindicated. If the honour of God, upon which sinners trample, finally lie in the dust, it will be because he is not strong enough to vindicate himself. He hath sworn, in Numb. xiv. 21, truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

Sinners despise his Son, and trample him under their feet; but he will see if he cannot make the glory of his Son appear, with respect to them; that all the earth may know how evil a thing it is to despise the Son of God. God intends that all men and angels, all heaven and all earth, shall see whether he be sufficient to magnify himself upon sinners who now despise him. He intends that the issue of things with respect to them shall be open, that all men may see it.

3. He bath undertaken to subdue impenitent sinners. Their hearts, while in this world, are very unsubdued. They lift up their heads and conduct themselves very proudly and contemptuously, and often sin with a high hand. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongues walk through the earth. They practically say, as Pharaoh did, "Who is the Lord ? I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice." Job xxi. 41. They say to God, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.'

Some, who cover their sin with a specious show, who put on a face of religion, and a demure countenance and behaviour, yet have this spirit secretly reigning in their breasts. Notwithstanding all their fair show, and good external carriage, they despise God in their hearts, and have the weapons of war about

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beat one, and killed another. Therefore now God himself undertakes to deal with them.

2. Their punishment is more particularly represented in three things, viz. The intolerableness, the remedilessness, and the unavoidableness of it.--The intolerableness of it: can thine heart endure? Its remedilessness, or the impossibility of their doing any thing for their own relief: can thine hands be strong ? --Its unavoidableness : I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.

DOCTRINE.

Since God hath undertaken to deal with impenitent sinners, they shall neither shun the threatened misery, nor deliver themselves out of it, nor can they bear it.

In handling this doctrine I shall, 1. Shew what is implied in God's undertaking to deal with impenitent sinners. 2. That therefore they cannot avoid punishment. 3. That they cannot in any measure deliver themselves from it; or do any thing for their own relief under it. 4. That they cannot bear it. 5. I shall answer an inquiry ; and then proceed to the use.

1. I shall shew what is implied in God's undertaking to deal with impenitent sinners. Others are not able to deal with them. They baffle all the means used with them by those that are appointed to teach and to rule over them. They will not yield to parents, or to the counsels,

warnings, or reproofs of ministers : they prove obstinate and stiff-hearted. Therefore God undertakes to deal with them. This implies the following things :

1. That God will reckon with them, and take of them satisfaction to his justice. In this world God puts forth his authority to command them, and to require their subjection to him. In his commands he is very positive, strictly requiring of them the performance of duties, and as positively forbidding things contrary to their duty. But they have no regard to these commands. God continues commanding, and they continue rebelling. They make nothing of God's authority. God threatens, but they despise his threatenings. They make nothing of dishonouring God: they care not how much their behaviour is to his dishonour. He offers them mercy, if they will repent and return: but they despise his mercy as well as his wrath. God calleth, but they refuse. Thus they are continually plan. ging themselves deeper and deeper in debt, and at the same time imagine they shall escape the payment of the debt, and design entirely to rob God of his due.

But God hath undertaken to right himself. He will reckon with them; he hath undertaken to see that the debts due to him are paid. All their sins are written in his book; not one of them is forgotten, and every one must be paid. It God be wise enough, and strong enough, he will have full satisfaction; he will exact the very utmost farthing. He undertakes it as his part, as what belongs to him, to see himself righted, wherein he hath been wronged. Deut. xxxii. 35. “To me belongeth vengeance." Ibid. vii. 10. “He will not be slack to him that hateth him ; he will repay him to his face."

2. He hath undertaken to vindicate the honour of his majesty. His majesty they despise. They hear that he is a great God; but they despise his greatness; they look upon him as worthy of contempt, and treat him accordingly. They hear of him by the name of a great king; but his authority they regard not, and sometimes trample upon it for years together.

But God hath not left the honour of his majesty wholly to their care. Though they now trample it in the dust, yet that is no sign that it will finally be lost. If God had left it wholly in their hands, it would indeed be lost. But God doth not leave his honour and his glory with his enemies; it is too precious in his eyes to be so neglected. He hath reserved the care of it to himself: he will see to it, that his own injured majesty is vindicated. If the honour of God, upon which sinners trample, finally lie in the dust, it will be because he is not strong enough to vindicate himself. He hath sworn, in Numb. xiv. 21, “ As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."

Sinners despise his Son, and trample him under their feet; but he will see if he cannot make the glory of his Son appear, with respect to them; that all the earth may know how evil a thing it is to despise the Son of God. God intends that all men and angels, all heaven and all earth, shall see whether he be sufficient to magnify himself upon sinners who now despise him. He intends that the issue of things with respect to them shall be open, that all men may see it.

3. He hath undertaken to subdue impenitent sinners. Their hearts, while in this world, are very unsubdued. They lift up their heads and conduct themselves very proudly and contemptuously, and often sin with a high hand. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongues walk through the earth. They practically say, as Pharaoh did, "Who is the Lord ? I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice." Job xxi. 41. They say to God, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways."

Some, who cover their sin with a specious show, who put on a face of religion, and a demure countenance and behaviour, yet have this spirit secretly reigning in their breasts. Notwithstanding all their fair show, and good external carriage, they despise God in their hearts, and have the weapons of war abont

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