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sueth. As when Paul was assailed with the viperk, which leaped out of the fire upon his hand, which he shook off again without harm. The barbarians looked, when he should have swollen and fallen down dead, death continually amongst them following the like accidents. So we being stung with the viper sin, it is the Lord's mercies that we are not all consumed. Though such who are in Christ cast off this viper, that it hurt them not, yet the custom of the world is not so, the custom of our isle is not so. If this viper sin leap upon us and sting us, death doth follow, the custom is to swell thereafter and fall down dead. And why so? Must death needs follow? The apostle James telleth us of a birth in sin. "When1 lust(saith he) hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death." Sinners he sheweth are (as it were) with child, and travail to bring forth, as it is said of the womanTM. That she was with child, and cried, travailing of birth, and was pained ready to be delivered. So wicked men are all great with child with sin, sin is this whereof they cry and travail in birth and are pained with, ready to be delivered, they must bring forth, and when all is done, it is but an unfavourable, untimely birth; sin when it is finished, it bringeth forth death. The use
Hereof shall be then, to consider seriously the most wretched and miserable estate of a sinner a natural man. Oh! who would exchange estates with him, for all his pleasures when every sin woundeth him, and death at last seizes upon him to eternal perdition and misery irrevocable. Can a sinner think of these things seriously, and live thus merrily as he doth, without care, until he be swallowed up of death. It is a wonder to see how men pass their time here, as though there were continually a spring of pleasures, which in this life would always flourish, as though there were neither heaven nor hell, nor a life hereafter. And sure if we did seriously think of these things, they would so daunt and tame our proud spirits that we would
k Acts, chap. 28. ver. 4, 6. 1 James, chap. 1. ver. 15.
■ Rer. chap. 12. ver. 2.
never be merry again, until we had both this assurance, to be freed of these fears and possessed of those joys we expect.
Neither for all this are the wicked left inexcusable to plead ignorance, for as the Lord giveth unto his children even a taste in this life of those blessed joys which are reserved for them in heaven, by the inward and unspeakable joys which his spirit worketh in their hearts; so doth the Lord also loose the cords of these sorrows to come unto the wicked, even here letting them hear of hell and damnation, eternal death, the cruelty of the devil, the horror of sin and the like, as also God's mercies unto humble and penitent sinners. But although his ministers call continually unto them, yet will they by no means be reclaimed, but contemn and despise them and their admonitions, answering them as the devils did our Saviour Christ (in the two men which were possessed) when he came to expel them. "What" have we to do with thee, Jesus the Son of God, art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" So these wicked men are made inexcusable, when they will not hear the voice of God in the ministry. They think in so doing we torment them before the time. But askest thou miserable man, if we come to torment thee before the time? I tell thee we are come to torment thee in this life, before thy last torments in hell, that if this powerful voice of the ministry be not unto thee salvation, it may harden thee so much the more for thy condemnation, we are come to shut the gates of heaven upon thy teeth, and by our threatenings to torture thee, by affrighting and threatening unto those fearful torments which thou shalt endure after this life for ever in hell. We are come by the power of God and warrant of his word (if thou continue rebellious and hard hearted) to deliver thee over unto the power of Satan, and all thy cruel enemies. We indeed are sent to torment such before their time. Yet is it a worse estate for a wicked man to have a benumbed conscience, than to be troubled with these cruel fears, because at one time or other it may please the Lord to touch his heart and give unto him repentance by a sight of his
Matt, chap. 8. ver. 28.
miseries. But the benumbed conscience seeth no danger, knoweth nothing, is (as it were) ready to be tumbled into hell, adding sin unto sin to increase the measure of future wrath, as the apostle speaketh of such wicked men. "But" thou after the hardness of thy heart, and heart that cannot repent, heapest up wrath against the day of wrath, and of the declaration of the just judgment of God." If neither mercy nor judgments will move us, then will he one day manifest in our faces fully his indignation, and wrath, and tribulation, and anguish shall come upon the rebellious and hard hearted sinners. The Spirit of God complaineth of such senseless creatures ; that when they had seen the Lord spend his terrible plagues upon their neighbours and other people, the least of which might have softened and affrighted the stoniest hearts of the world, yet what did they? Were the remainder any whit moved? saith the Spirit of God. " Andp the remnant of the men, which were not killed by these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should worship devils and idols of gold and silver, and of brass; also they repented not of their murder, and of their sorcery, neither of their fornication, nor of their theft."
Thus all of us are by nature most miserable and hardhearted, infected with Adam's sin ; which though it seemed at first but small, had in it (if rightly viewed) a seed of disobedience to all the commandments, which now we will omit, only touching in general his wilful disobedience. God, he telleth unto Adam, after he had placed him in Paradise, "Thouq shalt freely eat of all the trees of the garden, that of good and evil only excepted, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death." Satan again, he cometh unto him, and saith; eat freely, ye shall not die. Here Satan was preferred with his wicked counsel before the commandment of God.
Let us therefore examine ourselves whether or not we be all sick of Adam's sin, like unto these wicked men who when death is pronounced unto them by the voice of the
0 Rom. chap. 2. ver. 5. 1> Rev. chap. 9. ver. 20.
1 Gen. chap. 2. ver. 16.
ministry to humble them, put the evil day far from them, rather believing the suggestions of the father of lies, who telleth them that they shall not die, there is no danger, these things are not thus and thus true, which silly fellows prattle; than unto the commandments and voice of God in his word, giving any credit. But no remedy, if we will needs soothe and bless ourselves from cursing, as though we had no part therein, destruction must suddenly overtake us, death must seize upon us. Yet some may object, what is death? Death is nothing, it is easy to pass through it. I tell thee no, it is not an easy thing to pass through the gates of death: whatsoever we do or say, yet the fear of death is most terrible. Death is a most cruel enemy unless the sting thereof be removed. It spareth none. If we did rightly consider and weigh the terror thereof, it would change, like unto Belshazzarr, our wantonness into a sad countenance, it would make us tremble, and loose the joints of our loins, it would make our knees smite one against another, and wonderfully tame our pride of life. Let us then come to the proof of this doctrine, beholding the cruelty of death, and how terrible an enemy he is. For
1. Death is an enemy if death prevail over us, we by Christ not being freed from the tyranny thereof. It hath sworn our death, there is no remedy, we must die, death is an enemy, that will procure our death. So the apostle8 calleth death an enemy. The last enemy (saith he) which shall be destroyed is death, it is an enemy which hath sworn our death. It indeed, Iconfess, doth us good service, in freeing us from a world of misery, to bring us to immortality of joys. But yet this service it doth is against our will, we would not willingly in our life die often, nor at the last exchange willingly: but this service which death doth us, it cometh of the infinite mercy of God, who bringeth light out of darkness, &c, making his power perfect thereby, but of its own nature death is an enemy unto us; let our policies reach never so far, our counsels never so grave, let our thoughts and de
1Dan. chap. 5. ver. 6. VOL. XIII.
8 1 Cor. chap. 15. ver. 26.
vices be never so many, yet death, when he cometh, he forceth us to alter all things, he causeth us to change all our resolutions, so death is an enemy.
2. Death is a cruel enemy, for if we go on in sin, since death our death hath sworn, it will be sure to watch us an evil turn, and meet with us at one time or other; we shall not be able to escape the same. As the Jews' did bind themselves by an oath, neither to eat bread, nor drink drink, until they had killed Paul; so hath death vowed and sworn thy death. Now this enemy is so much the more terrible, in that he cannot be avoided, there is no means to escape him. David, he calleth death", the way of all flesh, "I go (saith he) the way of all the earth." There is no remedy, I must die. And* he saith, "it is appointed for all men once to die," so that death is a cruel enemy also, he hath moved our death.
3. Death is also a treacherous enemy. For if he, like a valiant soldier, did either point time, hour, month, year, place, or weapon, for the fight, it were somewhat, we might perhaps make some provision to resist his fury. But death appointeth neither time, place, nor weapon, but overtaketh us still unprovided, when we think least of the same. But asy this is our misery, that death hangeth before our eyes and we see not the same, we live, yet have we no assurance of our life, it hangeth before our eyes, it cometh suddenly upon us; and the sudden assaults (you know) of an enemy (without force to resist) is most dangerous; they come suddenly, take us in fear, and we are overthrown. Our life thus is very short in continuance, and full of trouble, yet is it so much the more miserable, in that we have none assurance of our life.
But, may some object, it is true which you say, death is a most cruel enemy, but I will pray against him ere I die, and then he shall not hurt me, I shall be freed from his power. But, I reply, thou will not be heard then, if thou wilt not watch now betimes, and prevent the judg
'Acts, chap. 23. ver. 12.