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The four first of these I have already des part of us which must be the great scene patched in the preceding discourse upon this where such tragical things are to be acted. text and subject, and so shall now proceed to So that, if an angry Providence should at any the
time smite a sinner in his nearest tein poral Fifth, which was to shew, wherein the concerns, we may nevertheless look upon such extraordinary and distinguishing greatness of an infliction, how sharp soever, but as a drop this judgment did consist. For it is certain, of scalding water lighting upon his hand or that the text here accounts and represents it foot; but when God fastens the judgment above the ordinary rate of judgments com upon the spirit, or inner man, it is like scallmonly sent by God.
ing lead poured into his bowels, it reaches him And this, I conceive, will remarkably shew in the very centre of life; and where the itself to such as shall consider it these two centre of life is made the centre of misery too, ways.
they must needs be commensurate, and a man 1. Absolutely in itself.
can no more shake off his misery than he can 2. In the consequents of it.
himself. Under the first of which two considerations, Every judgment of God has a force more the peculiar dreadfulness of this judgment or less destructive, according to the quality will more than sufficiently appear, upon these and reception of the thing which it falls two accounts : as,
upon. If it seizes the body, which is but of 1. That it is spiritual; and so directly affects a mortal and frail make, and so, as it were, and annoys the prime and most commanding crumbles away under the pressure, why then part of man's nature, his soul; that noble the judginent itself expires through the failure copy and resemblance of its Maker, in small of a sufficient subject or recipient, and ceases indeed, but nevertheless one of the liveliest to be predatory, as having nothing to prey representations of him, that the God of vature upon. But that which comes out of its ever drew; and that in some of his greatest Creator's hands immaterial and immortal, and most amiable perfections. And if so, can endures and continues under the heaviest any thing be imagined to come so like a kill-stroke of his wrath ; and so is able to keep ing blast upon it, as that which shall at once pace with the infliction (as I may so express strip it of this glorious image, and stamp the it) both by the largeness of its perception and black portraiture of the foulest of beings in the measure of its duration. He who has a the room of it? Besides, since nothing can soul to suffer in, has something by which either please or afflict to any considerable God may take full hold of him, and upon degree, but by a close and intimate applica- which he may exert his anger to the utmost. tion of itself to a subject capable of such im- | Whereas, if he levels the blow at that which pressions, still it must be the spirituality of a is weak and mortal, the very weakness of the judgment, which, entering where body and thing stricken at will elude the violence of matter cannot, is the only thing that can the stroke ; as when a sharp, corroding rheum strike a man in his principal capacity of being falls upon the lungs, that part being but of a miserable; and, consequently, in that part spongy nature, and of no hard substance, little which enables him (next to the angels them or 110 pain is caused by the distillation ; but selves) to receive and drink in more of the the same falling upon a nerve fastened to the wrath, as well as love of God, than any other jaw, or to a joint, (the consistency and firmbeing whatsoever. In a spiritual, uncom ness of which shall give force to the imprespounded nature, the capacities of pain and sion,) it presently causes the quickest pain pleasure must needs be equal ; though in a cor and anguish, and becomes intolerable. A poreal, or compounded one, the sense of pain cannon bullet will do terrible execution upon is much acuter, and goes deeper than that of a castle-wall or a rampart, but none at all upon pleasure is ever found to do. Accordingly, as a wool-pack. to what concerns the soul or spirit, no doubt, The judgments which God ipflicts upon our chief passive, as well as active strengths men are of several sorts, and intended for are lodged in that ; though it being an object several ends, and those very different. Some too near us to be perfectly apprehended by us, are only probative, and designed to try and we are not able in this life to know distinctly stir up those virtues which before lay dormant what a spirit is, and what it can bear, and in the soul. Some again are preventive, and what it cannot. But our great Creator, who sent to pull back the unwary sinner from the exactly knows our frame, and had the first unperceived snares of death, which he is ignoordering of the whole machine, knows also rantly approaching to. And some, in the where and by what a soul or spirit may be last place, are of a punitive or vindictive most sensibly touched and wounded, better a nature, and intended only to recompense or great deal than we, who are animated and revenge the guilt of past sivs; as part of acted by that soul, do or can. And therefore, the sinner's payment in hand, and as so where he designs the severest strokes of his many foretastes of death, and earnests of wrath, we may be sure, that it is this spiritual | damnation.
Accordingly, we are to observe, that the word fool draws blood, and nothing but death inalignity of spiritual judgments consists is thought an equivalent to the slander : forchiefly in this, that their end, most com asmuch as it carries in it an insulting negative monly, is neither trial nor prevention, but upon that, which constitutes the persou so vengeance and retribution. They are corro charged properly a man ; every degree of sives, made not to heal, but to consume. ignorance being so far a recess and degradaAnd surely, such an one is the judgment of tion from rationality, and consequently from being sealed up under a delusion. Sampson, humanity itself. Nor is this any modern we read, endured many hardships and affronts, fancy or caprice lately taken up, but the conand yet sunk under none of them ; but when stant and unanimous consent of all nations an universal sottishness was fallen upon all and ages. For what else, do we think, could his faculties, and God's wonted presence had make the heathen philosophers so infinitely forsook him, he presently became, as to all laborious, and, even to a miracle, industrious the generous purposes of life and action, an in the quest of knowledge ? What was it useless and a ruined person.
that engrossed their time, and made them Whereas, on the other side, suppose that think neither day nor night, nor both of them God should visit a man with extreme poverty; together, sufficient for study? But because yet still, he who is as poor as Job, may be they reckoned it a base and a mean thing to as humble, as patient, and as pious as Job be deceived, to be put off with fallacy and
ap: , too ; and such qualities will be always ac pearance instead of truth and reality, and counted pearls and treasures, though found overlooking the substance and inside of things, upon the vilest dunghill : or what if God to take up with mere shadow and surface. should dash a man's name and reputation, it was a known saying of the ancients, smo and make him a scorn and a by-word to ali | σώματος νόσον, από ψυχής αμάθειαν. Keep off who know him; yet still the shame of the ignorance from thy soul, as thou wouldst a cross was greater, and one may be made the disease or a plague from thy body. For when way and passage to a crown, as well as the a man is cursed with a blind and a besotted other. It was so, we are assured, to our great mind, it is a sure, and therefore a sad sign, spiritual head; and why may it not, in its that God is leading such an one to his final proportion, prove the same likewise to his doom: it is both the cause and the forerunner spiritual members ? For the conjunction of his destruction. For wheu the malefactor between them is intimate, and the inference comes once to have his eyes covered, it shews natural. Or what, again, if God should think that he is not far from his execution. In a fit to smite a man with sores, sickness, and word, he who has sunk so far below himself, noisome ulcers in his body? yet even these, as to have debased the governing faculties of as offensive as they are, cannot unqualify a his soul, and given up his assent to an imperiLazarus for Abraham's bosom. And so for ous, domineering error, is fit for nothing but all other sorts of calamities incident to this to be truinped and trampled upon, to be led mortal state ; should we ransack all the by the nose, and enslaved to the designs of magazines of God's temporal judgments, not every bold encroacher, either upon his interest one of them all, nor yet all of them together,
or his reason. And such, he may be sure, he can reach a man in that, which alone can shall not fail to meet with ; especially, if his render him truly happy or miserable. For lot casts him upon a country abounding with
though the mountains” (as the Psalmist public, countenanced, religious cheats, both expresses it)." should be carried into the sea,” natives and foreigners, broachers of heresies, and the whole world about him should be in leaders of sects, tools and under-agents to a flame, yet still (as Solomon says) “a wise our Romish back-friends, who can willingly and a good man shall be satisfied from him- enough allow them all conventicles for the self ;" his happiness is in his own keeping; he only proper places to serve God in, and the has it at home, and therefore eds not seek church, if need be, to serve a turn by; of for it abroad. But,
which and the like impostors, it may be truly 2. The greatness of the judgment of being said, with reference to their abused proselytes, brought under the power of a delusion, con that they wear and carry the trophies of so sists not only in the spirituality of it, where many captivated reasons about them; that by it possesses and perverts the whole soul in they clothe themselves with the spoil of their all the powers and offices of it, but more wretched intellectuals, and so, in effect, tread particularly, that it blasts a man in that the very heads of their disciples under their peculiar, topping perfection of his nature, his feet. This is the treatment which they are understanding : for ignorance and deception sure to find from such sanctified deceivers ; are the very bane of the intellect, the disease these the returns, which delusion, submitted of the mind, and the utmost dishonour of to, still rewards her votaries with.
And reason : there being no sort of reproach which may God, I beseech him, in his just judga man resents with so keen and so just an ment, order matters so, that such practices indignation, as the charge of folly. The very and such rewards may inseparably accom
pany and join one another, not only by an the mind of man has a vehement and pas. occasional, but by a fixed and perpetual com sionate love for, but it is so far enslaved, and munion.
brought into bondage to that thing. And if In the mean time, if slavery be that which so, can there be a greater calamity, than for all generous and brave spirits abhor; and to so noble a being as the soul is, to love and court lose the choicest of nature's freeholds, and that the dictates of a commanding absurdity ? in the most valuable of things, their reason, Nothing certainly being so tyrannical as be the worst of slaveries ; then surely it must ignorance, where time, and long possession be the most inglorious condition that can be enables it to prescribe ; nor so haughty and fall a rational creature, to be possessed, rid, assuming, where pride and self-conceit bids it and governed by a delusion. For still (as our set up for infallible. Saviour has told us in John, viii. 32,)“ it is the But now, to close this point, by shewing truth which must make us free ;" the truth how vastly the understanding differs from itonly, which must give a man the enjoyment, self, when informed by truth, and when abused the government, and the very possession of by error ; let us observe how the scripture himself. In a word, truth lias set up her words the case, while it expresses the former tribunal in the soul, and sitting there as judge by a state of light, and the latter by a state of herself, there can be no exception against her darkness. Concerning both which, as it is sentence, nor appeal from her authority. evident that nothing can be more amiable.
But besides all this, there is yet something suitable, and universally snbservient both to fartber, which adds to the misery of this kind the needs and to the refreshments of the creaof slavery and captivity of the mind under ture, than light: so nothing is deservedly error; and that is, that it has a peculiar accounted so dismal, hateful, and dispiriting, malignity to bind the shackles faster upon it, as darkness is; darkness, I say, which the by a strange, unaccountable love, which it be scripture makes only another word for the gets of itself, in a man's affections. For no shadow of death ; and always the grand opporman entertains an error, but, for the time that tunity of mischief, and the surest shelter of he dues so, he is highly pleased and enamoured deformity. For though to want eyes be inwith it, and has a more particular tenderness deed a great calamity, yet to have eyes and aud fondness for a false notion than for a true, not to see, to have all the instruments of sight (as some for a bastard, more than for a son ;) and the curse of blindness together, this is the for error and deception, by all (who are not very height and crisis of misery, and adds a actually under them) are accounted really the sting and a reproach to what would otherwise maduess of the mind. And madness, it must be but a misfortune. For nothing en venoms Die owned, naturally keeps off melancholy, any calamity, but the crime which deserves it. (though often caused by it.) For it makes I come now to consider the distinguishing men wonderfully pleased with their own ex greatness of the judgment of God's sending travagancies ; aud few, how much soever men strong delusion, by taking a view of the out of their wits, are out of humour too in effects and consequents of it; and we need bedlam.
cast our eyes no farther than these two. As, Now the reason of this different acceptable 1. That it renders the conscience utterly ness of truth and error in the first offers of useless, as to the great office to be discharged them to the mind, and the advantage which by it in the regulation and supervisal of the the latter too often gets over the former, is, I whole course of a man's life. Å blind watchconceive, from this, that it is natural for error man (all must grant) is equally a nuisance to paint and daub, to trim, and use more of and an impertinence. And such a paradox, art and dress to set it off to the mind, than both in reason and practice, is a deluded contruth is observed to do. Which, trusting in science, namely, a counsellor who cannot its own native and substantial worth, scorns advise, and a guide not able to direct. Noall meretricious ornaments, and knowing the thing can be inore close and proper to the right it has to our assent, and the indisputable point now before us, than that remark of our claim to all that is called reason, she thinks it Saviour in Matth. vi 23, “If the light that is below her to ask that upon courtesy, in which in thee be darkness, how great must that darkshe can plead a property; and therefore rather ness be!" Why, as great, no doubt, and of as enters than insinuatęs, and challenges posses fatal consequence to the affairs and governsion instead of begging admission. Which ment of the microcosm, or lesser world, as if, being the case, no wonder if error, oiled with in the greater, God should put out the sun, obsequiousness, (which generally gains friends, and establish one great, universal cloud in the though deserves none worth having,) has room of it; or as if the moon and stars, instead often the advantage of truth, and thereby of governing the night, should be governed by slides more easily and intimately into the fool's it, and the noble influences of the one should, bosom, than the uncourtliness of truth will for usefulness, give place to the damps and suffer it to do. But then, again, we are to deadening shades of the other. All which observe withal, that there is nothing which would quickly be granted to be monstrous and
preposterous things; and yet not more so, course of them he proceeds as if he were than to imagine a man guided by a benighted throwing dice for his life, or at cross and pile conscience in the great concerns of eternity ; for his salvation. And this brings me to the and to have that put out, which God had set other killing consequence, wherein appears up as the sovereign light of the soul, to sit and the greatness of this judgment of being depreside there as the great pilot to steer us in livered over to a delusion. And that is, all our choices, and to afford us those standing 2. Final perdition, mentioned by the apostle discriminations of good and evil, by which in the verse immediately following the text. alone a rational agent can proceed warrantably “God,” says he, “shall send them strong and safely in all his actions.
delusion, that they should believe a lie; that As for the will and the affections, they are they all might be damned who believed not made to follow and obey, not to lead or to the truth." This is the utinost period to direct. Their office is not apprehension, but which delusion brings the siuner, but no less appetite; and therefore the schools rightly than what was intended by it from the very affirm, that the will, strictly and precisely first. Every error is in the nature of it deconsidered, is cæca potentia, a blind faculty. structive. I do not say that it always actuAnd therefore, if error has perverted the ally destroys ; since the tendency of an acorder and disturbed the original economy of tion is one thing, but the event another. For our faculties, and a blind will thereupon as in the body there is hardly any sore or comes to be led by a blind understanding, distemper, (how curable soever by art or there is no remedy, but it must trip avd physic,) but what in the malignity of its -tumble, and sometimes fall into the noisome nature, and the utmost improvement of that litch of the foulest enormities and immora- malignity, tends to the ruiu and demolition lities. But now, whether this be not one of of the whole constitution ; so in the soul the highest instances of God's vindictive jus there is no considerable error which at any lice, thus to confound a man with an erro time infeets it, (especially if it disposes to neous, deceived conscience, a little reflection practice,) but, being suffered to continue and upon the miseries of one in such a condition exert its progressive and diffusive quality, will easily demonstrate. For see the tumult will be still spreading its contagion, and by and anarchy of his mind; having done a good degrees eating into the conscience, till it festers and a lawful action, his conscience alarms into a kind of spiritual gangrene, and becomes him with scruples, with false judgments and mortal and incurable. anxious reflections; and perhaps, on the other I must confess, I cannot imagine that those hand, having done an act in itself evil and heretics who err fundamentally, and by conunlawful, the same conscience excuses and sequence damnably, took their first rise, and acquits him, and soothes himn into such com began to set up with a fundamental error, placencies in his sin, as shall prevent his re but grew into it by insensible encroaches and pentance, and so ascertain his perdition. But gradual insinuations, inuring, and as it were now, what shall a deluded person do in this training up their belief to lesser essays of falsesad dilemma of sin and misery ? " For, if the hood, and proceeding from propositions only trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who can suspicious, to such as were false, from false to prepare himself for the battle ?" If it sounds dangerous, and at length from dangerous to i charge when it should sound a retreat, how downright destructive. Hell is a deep place, can the soldier direct his course? But being and there are many steps of descent to the thus befooled by the very methods and means bottoin of it; many obscure vaults to be of safety, must of necessity find himself in passed through before we come to utter darkthe jaws of death before he is aware, and But still the way of error is the way betrayed into his enemy's hands, without to it. And as surely and naturally as the any possibility of help or relief from his own. first dusk and gloom of the evening tends to, In like manuer, where a delusion enters so and at last ends in the thickest darkness of deep into, and gets such fast hold of the con- midnight, so every delusion, sinfully cherished science, that it corrupts or justles out the first and persisted in, (how easily soever it may marks and measures of lawful and unlawful, sit upon the conscience for some time,) will, and thereby overthrows the standing rules of in the issue, lodge the sinner in the deepest morality ; a man, in such a woful and dark hell and the blackest regions of damnation, estate, can hardly be accounted in the number And so I come to the of rational agents : for if he does well, it is Sixth and last thing proposed for the by chance, neither by rule nor principle; nor handling of the words; and that was to by choice, but by luck: and if, on the contrary, draw some useful consequences and deduc, he does ill, yet he is not assured that he does tions from the five foregoing particulars, As, so, Leiug acted, in all that he goes about, by First of all, Since the belief of a lie is a blind impetus, without either forecast or dis here undoubtedly noted for a sin, and since tinction. Both the good and evil of his actions Almighty God in the way of judgment deis brutish and accidental, aud in the whole | livers men to it for “not receiviug the love of
the truth ;” it follows, by most clear and other places pregnant to the same purpose, undeniabie consequence, that it is no ways both in the Old Testament and the New. inconsistent with the divine holiness to affirm, From all which it is certain, that God may that he may punish one sin with another. make one sin the punishment of another. Though the manner how God does so is not Though still it is to be remembered, that it is so generally agreed upon by all. For some one thing for God to give a man over to sin, here affirm that sin is said to be the punish- and quite another for God to cause him to ment of sin, because in most sinful actions sin ; the former importing in it no piore than the committer of them is really a sufferer in God's providential ordering of a man's cirand by the very sin which he commits. As cumstances, so that he shall find no check or for instance, the envious man at the same hinderance in the course of his sin ; but the time contracts the guilt and feels the torment latter implying also a positive efficiency of his sin; the same thing defiles and afflicts towards the commission or production of a too; merits a hell hereafter, and withal sinful act, which God never does nor can do ; anticipates one here. The like may be said but the other he both may, and in a judicial of theft, perjury, uncleanness, and intemper- way very often does. ance; the infamy and other calamities insep To the argument therefore alleged, I answer arably attending them, render them their thus ; that it is very consonant both to Scripown scourges, and make the sinner tho mini ture and reason, to distinguish in one and the ster of God's justice in acting a full revenge same thing several respects; and accordingly upon himself. All this, I must confess, is in sin we may consider the moral irregularity true, but it reaches not the matter in ques- of it; and so being in the very nature of it tion; which compares not the same sin with evil, it is impossible that there should be any itself whereof the consequences may un. good in it; or we may consider sin as to the doubtedly be afflictive, but compares two penal application of it to the person who distinct sins together, and inquires concern committeil it, and as a means to bring the ing these, whether one can properly be the just judgment of God upon him for what he punishment of the other?
had done ; and so some good may be said to Besides, if we weigh and distinguish things belong to it, though there be none at all in it. exactly, when the envious man groans under Or to express the same thing otherwise, the gnawings and convulsions of his base sin, and perhaps more clearly and agreeably to ind the lewd person suffers the brand and vnlgar apprehensions. Sin may be considered disrepute of his vice; in all this, sin is not either, 1st, with reference to the proper cause properly punished with sin; but the evil of of it, the will of man committing or producing envy is punished with the trouble of envy, it, and so it is absolutely and entirely evil. and the sin of intemperance with the infamy Or, 2dly, it may be considered as it relates to of intemperance: būt neither is a state of the supreme Judge and Governor of the trouble, nor a state of disgrace or infamy, world, permitting, ordering, disposing, and properly a state of sin ; these are natural, not overruling the existence and event of it, to moral evils; and opposed to the quiet and the honour of his wisdom and justice; and so tranquillity, not to the virtue of the soul; for far it may be called good, and consequently a man may be virtuous without either ease sustain the nature of a punishment proceeding or reputation. This way, therefore, is short from God. But you will reply, Can sin be of resolving the problem inquired into, which any ways good ? I answer, that naturally and precisely moves upon this point, namely, intrinsically it cannot; but extrinsically, acWhether for the guilt of one sin God can, by cidentally, and occasionally, as ordered to a way of penalty, bring the sinner under the subserviency to God's glory, it may; and the guilt of another?
providence of God is no farther concerned Some seem to prove that he cannot, and about it; that is to say, it is good and just, that that in the strength of this argument, that God should so order and dispose of an obstievery punishment proceeding from God, as nate sinner, (as he did once of Pharaoh,) that the author of it, is just and good ; but no sin he should, through his own corruption, fall is or can be so ; and therefore no sin can be into farther sin, in order to his farther punmade by God the punishment of another. ishment: but surely this does by no means
But nevertheless, the contrary is held forth infer, that the sins he thus falls into are good, in Scripture, and that as expressly as words though God's ordering of them may be so; can well declare a thing; for besides the clear and darkness will be darkness still
, though proof thereof, which the very text carries God can and often does bring light out of it. with it, it is yet farther proved by those two That the Jews having rejected the gospel so irrefragable places : Rom. i. 24, the apostle powerfully preached to them, should be dehas these very words,
“ Wherefore God also livered to hardness of heart and final impenigave them up to uncleanness ;” and again in tence, was just, and by consequence good. the 26th verse, “For this cause God gave But this is far from inferring, that their hardthem up to vile affections.” Besides several ness of heart and impenitence were so too.