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now she must be buried out of his sight. "It is sown in dishonour," and it is the basest thing that can be: therefore when our Saviour was going near to the place where Lazarus lay, "hisy sister saith, Lord by this time he stinketh." "I" have said to corruption, thou art my father," saith Job, "and to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister." As in the verse before: "The grave is my house, I have made my bed in the darkness." Here then he hath a new kindred, and though before he had affinity with the greatest, yet here he gets a new affinity: "He saith to corruption, thou art my father, and to the worm, thou art my mother and my sister." The worm is our best kindred here; the worm is our best bed; yea worms thy best covering*. Thus is it thy father, thy mother, and thy bed: nay, it is thy consumption and destroyer alsob. Thus is it with thy body, it passeth to corruption, that thy best or dearest friend cannot behold it or endure it.
2. But alas! what becomes of thy soul then? Thy soul appears naked, there is no garment to defend it, no proctor appears to plead for it: it is brought singly to the bar, and there it must answer. "It is appointed for all men once to die," but what then? "Andc after that to come to judgment." "Thed body returns unto the earth from whence it was taken, but the spirit to God who gave it." All men's spirits, as soon as their bodies and souls are parted, go to God to be disposed of by him where they shall keep their everlasting residence. Consider when thou hearest the bell rung out for a dead man, if thou hadst but the wings of a dove to fly, and couldst fly after him, and appear with him before God's tribunal, to see the account that he must give unto God for all things done in the flesh: and when no account can be given, what a state of misery and horror wouldst thou see him in! and this is a silent kind of judging: the last day of judging shall be with great pomp and solemnity. This is
y John, chap. 11. ver. 39.
b Job, chap. 26.
JEccles. chap. 12. ver. 7.
a matter closely carried between God and thyself; but then thou must give an account of all that thou hast received, and then when thou canst not give a good account, then is thy talent taken from thee. Why, saith God, I gave thee learning, how didst thou use it? I gave thee other gifts of mind, how didst thou employ them? God hath given thee wisdom and wealth, moral virtues, meekness, and patience, &c. These are good things, but mark, whatsoever good things thou hadst in this world are now taken from thee. If a man could but see the degrading of the soul, he should see that those moral virtues in which his hope of comfort lay, even these, though they could never bring him to heaven, yet they shall be taken from him. As when a knight is degraded, first his sword is taken from him, then comes one with a hatchet and chops off his golden spurs, and then go Sir Knave. This is the degrading of the soul before the judgment is received: the moral virtues are taken from him, and then see what an ugly soul he hath; he had hope before, now he is without hope: he had some patience in this world, but he made no good use of it; and now his patience is taken from him: and when thou shalt come to a place of torment, and thy hope and patience be taken from thee, what case wilt thou be in then? patience may stay a man up in trouble, and hope may comfort a man up in torment, but both these are taken away. This is a thing we very seldom think; but did we seriously consider of this first act of the judgment before the sentence, we would not be idle in this world.
3. Then lastly, he is put into an unchangeable estate: so soon as ever death lays God's mace upon him, he is put into an estate of unchangeableness. Such is the terribleness of it, that now, though he yell and groan, and pour out rivers of tears, there is no hope of change.
Consider now what a woful case this is, if some friend of this man's should now come to him, would he not tell him we have often been very merry together, but didst thou know the misery that I am in, thou wouldst be troubled for me: half those tears that I now pour forth would have put me into another place: had I taken the season, but now it is too late. Oh! therefore do thou make use of tears, a little may do it now, hereafter it will be too late.
That is the thing we should now come to speak of, the second death: but think not that I am able to speak of it now: no, that which is everlasting deserves an hour at least in speaking, and an age in thinking of it. Therefore that everlasting torment, horror, and anguish, which God hath reserved for those that make not their peace with him (which is easily done God knows) I shall speak of the next time.
Rev. Chap. XXI. Ver. 8.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
The last day I entered, you know, upon the miserable estate of an unreconciled sinner, at the time of his dissolution, when his soul shall be taken from him, and be presented naked before Christ's tribunal, there to receive according to the works which he hath done in the flesh: and I shewed that the wofulness of that estate consisted in two acts done upon him: the one before he comes to his place, before he is thrust away from God's presence into hell fire; which I shewed you the last day, and did then promise to shew you the other: to wit, the wofulnes of his estate, being once come into his place. The act done to the sinner's soul before he is sent to hell, is the deprivation of his light, the taking away of his talent. For whilst a man is in this world, he hath many good things in him, too good to accompany him to hell: now all these excellent gifts and natural endowments which did adorn a wicked man's soul, before the soul is hurled into hell, must be taken away from him. There is a kind of degradation of the soul, it is depriested as it were, and becomes like a degraded knight that hath his honor taken from him. All the rich talents, and all the rich prizes that were put into the fool's hand, shall be taken from him. Is there any moral virtue? Are there any common graces and natural endowments in the miserable soul? it shall be
stripped of all and packed to hell. You that have abused your learning and gifts that God hath given you, do you think that they shall go with you to hell? No such matter, you shall be very sots and dunces there. All your learning shall be taken from you, and you shall go to hell arrant blockheads. He that had fortitude in this world, shall not carry one drachm of it to hell: all his courage shall then be abased, and his cowardly heart shall faint for fear. Fortitude is a great advantage to a man in distress, but let not the damned soul expect the least advantage: his fortitude which he had whilst he was in the way shall be taken from him. It may be he had patience in this world: now patience is a virtue unfit for hell, therefore shall that be taken from him. A man if he were in most exquisite torment, yet if he had patience it would bear it up with head and shoulders (as we say) but this shall add to his torments, that he shall not have any patience left him, to allay it. A man hath perhaps hope in this world, and as the proverb is, were it not for hope the heart would burst; yet even this too shall be taken away from him, he shall have no hope left him of ever seeing God's face again, or of ever having any more tastes of his favour: and so what hath been said of some, may be said of all his graces and endowments: he shall clean be stripped of all, ere he be sent to hell.
I come now to speak of the place of torment itself, wherein the sinner is to be cast eternally, which is the second act. But think not that I am able to discover the thousandth part of it, no nor any man else: God grant that no soul here present ever come to find by experience what it is. What a woful thing is it; that many men should take more pains to come to this place of torment, than would cost them to go to heaven, that men should willfully run themselves upon the pikes, not considering how painful it is, nor how sharp those pikes are: and this I shall endeavour to my power to set forth unto you. This text declares unto us two things.
1. Who they are for whom this place is provided.
2. The place itself, and the nature of it.