Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

their hearts, that they cannot see God in his word. “When thy hand is lifted up," namely, in the threatenings and predictions of wrath out of the word, “ they will not see :" for it is a work of faith to receive the word as God's word, and therein before-hand to see his power, and to hear his rod.* Other men belie the Lord, and say it is not he. But though they will not acknowledge that they have to do with God in his word, though they will not see when his hand is lifted up in the preparations of his wrath, yet they shall see and know that they have to do with him in bis judgements, when his hand falleth down again in the execution of his wrath. So the Lord expostulateth with them: “Can thine heart endure, or thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee?"

The prophet Isaiah resolves that question, “ The sinners in Sion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," (namely, 'a fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation,' as the apostle speaks ). “Who amongst us shall dwell with devouring fire ? who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting burnings a ?” That is, in the words of the prophet, “ Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger ? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. Confirmations of this point we may take from these considerations : First, the quarrel with sinners is God's own, the controversy his own, the injuries and indignities have been done to himself and his own Son, the challenges have been sent unto himself and his own Spirit: and therefore no marvel, if he take the matter into his own hands; and the quarrel so immediately reflecting upon him, if he be provoked to revenge it by his own immediate power.

Secondly, Revenge is his royalty and peculiar prerogatived; from whence the apostle infers, that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." And there are these arguments of fearfulness in it; First, It shall be " in judgement without mercy":” there shall be no mixture of any sweetness in the cup of God's displeasure, but all poison and bitterness : there shall not be afforded a drop of water to a lake of fire, a minute of ease to an

* Micah vi. 9. y Ezek. xxii. 14.

Heb. x. 27. a Isa. xxxiii. 14. b Nahum i. 6. c Levit. xxvi. 25, Hosea xii. 2. Psalm ii. 2. Isa. Ixv. 3. d Deut. xxxii. 35, 41. e Heb. x. 30, 31. [ James ii. 13.

eternity of torment. Secondly, It shall be in fury without compassion : in human judgements where the law of the state will not suffer a judge to acquit or show mercy, yet the law of nature will force him to compassionate and grieve for the malefactor whom he must condemn. There is no judge so senseless of another's misery, nor so destitute of human affections, as to pronounce a sentence of condemnation with laughter. But the Lord will condemn his enemies in vengeance without any pity. “I will laugh,” saith the Lord, " at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh.”! Thirdly, It shall be in revenge and recompense, in reward and proportion; that is, in a full and everlasting detestation of wicked men; the weight whereof shall, peradventure, lie heavier upon them, than all the other torments which they are to suffer, when they shall look on themselves as scorned, and abhorred exiles from the favour and presence of him that made them. For as the wicked did here hate God, and set their hearts and their courses against him in suo æterno,' in all that time which God permitted them to sin in; so God will hate wicked men, and set his face and fury against them in suo æterno' too, as long as he shall be judge of the world.

Thirdly, This may be seen in the inchoations of Hell in wicked men upon the earth. When the door of the conscience is opened, and that sin which lay there asleep before, riseth up like an enraged lion to fly upon the soul,—when the Lord suffers some flashes of his glittering sword to break in like lightning upon the spirit, and to amaze a sinner with the pledges and first-fruits of Hell,-when he melteth the stout hearts of men, and grindeth them unto powder ; what is all this but the secret touch of God's own finger upon the conscience ? For there is no creature in the world, whose ministry the heart doth discern in the estuations and invisible workings of a guilty and unquiet spirit.

Fourthly, The torments of wicked angels, whence can they come ? . There is no creature strong enough to lay upon them a sufficient recompense of pain for their sin against the majesty of God. And for the disputes of schoolmen touching corporal fire in Hell, and the manner of elevating and

8 Prov. i. 26.

any

applying corporal agents to work upon spiritual substances, they are but the intemperate niceties of men, ignorant of the Scriptures, and of the terror of the Lord, who is himself a consuming fire. The devils acknowledge Christ their tormentor,--and that, when he did nothing but rebuke them : there was no fire, nor any other creature by him supplied, but only the majesty of his own word, power, and person, which wrung from them that hideous cry, “ Art thou come to torment us before the time ?”b

Lastly, Consider the heaviness of Christ's own soul, his agony and sense of the curse due unto our sin, when he was in the garden ; the trouble, astonishment, and extreme anguish of his soul, which wrought out of his sacred body that woful and wonderful sweat. Whence came it all ? We read never of devils let loose to torment him; they were ever tormented at his presence. We read of no other angels, that had commission to afflict him: we read of an angel, which was sent to strengthen him. There is no reason to think that the fear of a bodily death, which was the only thing that men could inflict upon him,—was that which squeezed out those drops of blood and extorted those bitter and strong cries from him. There were not in his innocent soul, in his most pure and sacred body, any seeds or principles of such tormenting distempers. His compassion towards the misery of sinners, his knowledge of the guilt and cursedness of sin, was as great at other times as now. What then could it else be, but the weight of his Father's justice, the conflict with his Father's wrath against the sins of men, which wrought much extremity of heaviness in his soul? And he was our surety, he stood in our stead : that which was done to the green tree, should much more have been done to the dry. If God laid upon him the strokes which were due unto our sin,-how much more heavy shall his hand be upon those, whom he thoroughly hateth ?

But shall not the angels, then, be executioners of the sentence of God's wrath upon wicked men ?-I answer, the angels shall have their service in the coming of the Lord. First, as attendants, to show forth the majesty and glory of Christ to the world. Secondly, as executioners of his will, which is to gather together the elect and the reprobate, to bind up the wicked as sheaves or faggots for the fire. But yet still the Lord interposeth his own power. As a schoolmaster setteth one scholar to bring forth another unto punishment; but then he layeth on the stripes himself.

h Matth. viii. 29. i Matth. xxvi. 37. Luke xxii. 44. John xii. 27. Mark xiv. 33, 34.

k Luke xxii. 43. 12 Thes. i. 7. Matth. xxiv. 31.

But why is it said, that the Father shall put Christ's enemies under his feet ? Doth not Christ himself do it as well as the Father ?-Yes, doubtless. “God hath given the Son authority to execute judgement also," and put into his hands a rod of iron, to dash his enemies to pieces like a potter's vessel; for “whatsoever things the Father doth, those also doth the Son likewise." But we are to note, that the subjecting of Christ's enemies under his feet is a work of divine power. And therefore though it be attributed to Christ as an officer, yet it belongeth to the Father as the fountain of all divine operations. So God is said to set forth his Son as a propitiation°; and yet the Son came down and manifested himself. The Father is said to have raised him from the dead"; and yet the Son raised himself by his own power.' The Father is said to have set Christ at his own right hand in heavenly places'; and Christ is said to have sat down himself on the right hand of the majesty on high. The Father is said to give the Holy Ghost": and yet the Son promiseth to send him himself *; so here, though the Son have received power sufficient to subdue all his enemies under his feet (for he is able to subdue all things unto himselfy;) yet the Father, to show his hatred against the enemies of Christ, and his consent to the victories of his Son, will likewise subdue all things unto him.?

O then, that men would be, by the terror of the Lord, persuaded to flee from the wrath to come,—to consider the weight of God's heavy handmand, when they see such a storm coming, to hide themselves in the holes of that rock of mercy. It is nothing but atheism and infidelity, which bewitcheth men with desperate senselessness against the vengeance of God. And, therefore, as the Lord hath seconded his word of promise with an oath, that they might have strong consolation, who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope which is set before them; so hath he confirmed the word of his threatenings with an oath too; "If I lift up my hand to heaven, and say I live for ever- I will render vengeance to mine enemies, I will reward them that hate meb:” and again, " The Lord hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works :" and again, “1 have sworn by myself, that unto me every knee shall bowd.” And this he doth, that secure and obdurate sinners might have the stronger reasons to flee from the wrath which is set before them. “O nos miseros, qui nec juranti Deo credimus !" How wonderful is the stupidity of men, that will neither believe the words, nor tremble at the oath of God! He hath warned us to flee from the wrath to come, and we make haste to meet it rather : we fill up

1 2 Thes. i. 7. Matth. xxiv. 31. m Matth. xiii. 30, xxiv. 31.

John v. 19, 27. Psalm ii. 9. o Rom. iji. 25. p Phil. ii. 7, 8. Heb. ix. 26. 9 Acts ii. 32. Rom. vi. 4. r John X. 18.

s Ephes. i. 20. t Heb. i. 3. 10, 12. u John xiv. 16. x John xvi. 7. y Phil. iii. 21. 21 Cor. xv. 27, 28.

our measure and commit sin with both hands greedily, with unclean and intemperate courses : we bring immature deaths upon ourselves, that so we may hasten to Hell the suoner, and make trial whether God be a liar or no. For this indeed is the very direct issue of every profane exorbitancy which men rush into. Every man hath much atheism in his heart by nature; but such desperate stupidity doth wonderfully improve it, and bring men by degrees to the hellish presumption of those in the prophets,—“The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil; it is not the Lord, neither shall evil come upon us; the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them. The days are prolonged, and the vision shall fail; this man prophesies of things afar offf;"—of doomsday, of things which shall be long after our time. Unto these men, I say, in the words of the apostle, though they sleep, and see nothing, and mock at the promise of Christ's coming, yet their “damnation sleepeth not 5,” but shall come upon them soon enough, even like an armed man. not mockers,” saith the prophet “, “ lest your bands be made strong." Atheism and scorn of God's judgement will make him bind them the faster upon us; he will get the better of

o6 Be ye

· Hebr. vi. 17, 18. b Deut. xxxli. 40, 41. xlv. 23. e Jer. v. 11, 12. f Ezek. xii. 22. XXviii. 22.

c Amos viii. 7.

8 2 Pet. ii. 3.

d Isai. h Isai.

« ElőzőTovább »