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time, they suffer the same troubles of mind that the wicked do: and that one do not perish under them, as well as the other, it is not because some lie under a greater measure of these terrors, and some a less; but because, under the same equal proportion, God powerfully upholds some, and lets others fall.
And thus I have done with the second thing proposed; which was to shew, wherein the excessive greatness of the trouble of a wounded spirit manifests itself; I proceed now to the
Third; which is to shew, by what ways and means this trouble is brought upon the soul.
I shall instance in four.
1st, The first is by dreadful reflections upon the divine justice, as provoked. As soon as ever the soul has eaten of the forbidden fruit of sin, the flaming sword of vengeance presently appears ; for sin being, properly, a breach of the law, and the law being under the defence and tuition of God's justice, the soul cannot reflect upon its sin, but it must also cast its eye upon that which it does essentially relate to, the law; and in a violated law it cannot but see an affronted lawgiver. And in this case the divine justice does as naturally catch hold of and prey upon sin, as a devouring flame does upon flax or stubble. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, says David, Psalm cxxx. 3, O Lord, who could stand? Justice is a plentiful argument of terror, considered by any one that has guilt and understanding too : for all the calamities in the world, which so afflict and pester mankind, are but the products of justice. Justice, meeting with sin, is a word comprising all the evils that God can afflict or man endure. For when we view prisons, dungeons, hospitals, those habitations
of misery, the general motto and superscription upon them all ought to be, Justice. It goes about the world, like God's destroying angel, with a sword in its hand. Read over all that long, black catalogue of curses in Deut. xxviii. and they are all but a short essay, or specimen, of that vengeance that divine justice has in reserve for sin, and but a slight foretaste of those pains that this life, indeed, may begin, but extremity and perpetuity must complete.
But neither can the miseries of this world or the next, or both together, represent the justice of God half so terrible to any apprehensive minds, as the sufferings of our Saviour upon the cross. For if, when justice called for satisfaction, God spared not his only Son, the Son whom he infinitely loved, Matt. iii. 17; the Son who pleased him in all things, John iv. 34; but gave him up to the most barbarous treatment that rage and malice could invent, and, after that, to a cruel, ignominious death : what can the conscience of a sinful man find out to skreen itself by from the same justice appearing against it in vindication of a transgressed law, calling for nothing less in recompence than the soul of the transgressor ? Not only conscience, but common sense, must and will make this dreadful inference; If these things were done in a green tree, what shall be done in a dry? The flame that could but scorch that, must inevitably consume this.
2dly, Those wounds are inflicted upon the spirit or conscience by fearful apprehensions of the divine mercy, as abused. God's justice, we have seen, is of itself sufficiently terrible; but when mercy, the only thing that should interpose, and ward off the fiery blows of it, is gone, it must needs be intolerable: it
must break in upon the soul like a mighty, overbearing torrent when the bank is down; nothing can oppose or hinder the fury of its progress. Offended justice ministers abundant reason of fear; but abused mercy seems to cut off all ground of hope. For a man to affront him who is to be witness in a cause against him, justly renders the success of it dubious; but to injure his advocate, who alone is to stand between him and his accuser, must, of doubtful, make it desperate and deplorable. To sin against mercy is to sin against our last remedy. For is there any third attribute in the divine nature, that can save him, who has God's justice for his enemy, and his mercy not for his friend ? Is there any thing that can restore that person who stands lost and bankrupt, both upon the score of law and gospel too? If mercy condemns, what can pardon? But, above all, if the mercies and tenderness of a Saviour, bleeding, suffering, and at length giving up his very life a sacrifice for sin, and a ransom for sinners, cannot speak comfort to a wounded spirit, must not the wound prove deadly and incurable? And yet, since the benefit of all those sufferings is dealt forth only upon certain conditions, may not the remembrance of some sins justly render the conscience very doubtful, whether a man may plead any interest in them, or not? For what is Christ upon the cross to one that will not be crucified with him? or what is a Saviour dying for sins, to a man that delights in them? Can he claim any benefit by that blood which his conscience is charging him with the guilt of?
These are such considerations as cannot but wound and terrify a thoughtful conscience: next
to which, in the present case, came in also the stings and remorses of natural ingenuity; a principle that men scarce ever wholly shake off, as long as they carry any thing of human nature about them. And when this shall appear as a second to conscience in God's quarrel, and upbraid a man for all his backslidings and apostasies, telling him, with the greatest bitterness of taunting reproach, These are the compassions thou hast abused, these are the bowels thou hast kicked against, these the wounds thou hast renewed upon thy Saviour, and this the blood that thou hast trampled upon; reminding him also of the most signal and eminent deliverances vouchsafed him throughout his life by the same hand of mercy : how that at such a time, under such a distress, when his sin mocked him, and the world de-' spised him, when his heart failed him, and his friends forsook him, yet the goodness of God still stood by him to comfort and support him: how that it delivered him from such a danger and such an enemy, such a sickness and such a plunge, from which all his own act and reason could never have contrived his escape: how, I say, when the Spirit of God shall enliven and stir up those remainders of natural ingenuity in the sinner's breast, thus to expostulate and debate the case with him in the behalf of abused mercy, every such word will pierce like a dagger to his heart, and strike like a dart into his entrails. Common humanity will be his judge, and conscience his executioner.
3dly, The spirit comes to be wounded and brought under this extreme anguish, by God's withdrawing his presence and the sense of his love from it, as he does sometimes for a season even from the best of
men; hiding himself from those whom it is impossible for him to forsake; which was the very case and condition of our Saviour, making that vehement outcry under a present apprehension that God had forsook him, and cast off all the tenderness of a father, while he was inflicting upon him such exquisite torments as one would think it too much for a father but to look upon. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled, says David, Psalm xxx. 7: for all the joy of created beings streams by natural and immediate efflux from the divine presence, as that vital heat and warmth, that animates all things here below, comes by direct emanation from that plentiful fountain of it, the sun. And consequently, when a cloud shall interpose between us and the presence of God, the terrors of the law, and the fears of provoked justice and affronted mercy cannot but rush in upon the conscience with a much greater force than at other times. As malignant vapours that infect the air have, after the sun is set, and the light withdrawn, a much more powerful influence upon it, than they can have in the day, God's suspending the light and beams of his countenance will cause such a darkness as may be felt: and even the strictest livers and most improved Christians are forced to feel the heavy, dispiriting damps of it, when God deserts them. The ways by which God discovers himself to, and hides himself from the souls of men, are strange and unconceivable; but whensoever he does either, the soul is so nearly and sensibly affected with it, that it presently and certainly understands its condition : indeed, as certainly as a man finds and feels in himself, when he sickens and when he