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"both body and soul in hell. Oh then, under the pains which you feel, consider, if " these light af"flictions, which are but for a moment," are so burdensome and tedious, how could you endure everlasting punishment, where "the fire is not "quenched, and the worm dieth not?"
3. This will induce you to "consider," whether you are prepared to meet God in judgment, should this sickness end in death. Life, at the best, is short and uncertain; and, notwithstanding the favourable judgment of the most skilful physicians, and the use of the most excellent medicines, you may possibly be taken away: nor will you be the less likely to recover for making the enquiry, Am I ready for death and judgment? Am I entitled to, and fit for the kingdom of heaven? Oh do not put the issue of that awful decision, on which the happiness or misery of eternity depends, upon a comparative freedom from gross wickedness. You may, or you may hot, have been moral and decent in-your outward conduct: but surely you have not feared, loved, served, and worshipped God in all his ordinances and commandments, so much and so well as you ought to have done; as his precepts and your relations and obligations to him require. You have frequently no doubt indulged evil thoughts, harboured sinful desires and covetings, spoken idle and evil words, committed many secret sins, loved worldly objects inordinately, pursued them immoderately, and either neglected religious duties, or performed them in a very careless and heartless manner. You have either been much better than the best of mere men mentioned in scripture, or else you have been very inattentive to the divine law and your own thoughts, words, and works, if you be not sensible that this is true respecting you; for all those good men confessed that they were thus guilty.1 And all this, being sin, must either be pardoned or punished: it is the transgression of the law; and it is written, "Cursed "is every one, who continueth not in all things "written in the book of the law, to do them."
And do not imagine that some transient sorrow, partial amendment, external performances, or imperfect obedience in future, can so make amends for former crimes, or so merit God's favour, as to deliver you from future punishment, and entitle you to eternal life. This notion, however com mon, is totally unreasonable: no man expects to escape the punishment of robbery or murder, as the reward of not committing more robberies or murders; or pretends to pay old debts by going with ready money for what he now buys. Nay indeed, "if righteousness come by the law," and by any of our imperfect obedience to it for a part -of our lives, then verily "Christ died in vain." And, \iyour sufferings in this world could atone for your sins, his sufferings would have been needless, and the denunciation of the wrath to come mere words without a meaning.2
No, my brethren, these indeed are mere human devices, which will be found as ineffectual at the day of judgment, as every other expedient for safety proved, in Noah's deluge, to those who refused to enter the ark.
1 ReadJob xl. 3—5. xlii. 1—6. Psalms xxxii, xxxviii, \l. Neh.ix. Isa.vi. Dan. ix. * Read Rom. iii. and iv. Gal. ii. and iii.
God hath himself contrived, effected, and revealed in his holy word, salvation for sinners; springing from his compassionate love, and accomplished in a way which is suited to impress the mind with a deep sense of the evil of sin, the desert, misery, and danger of sinnerSj the excellency of his law, the holiness of his nature, and the awful justice of his government; as well as to shew the riches of his mercy, and to prove the insufficiency of all other methods of salvation. At the same time, the greatest encouragement is given to the humble penitent; and the most effectual motives are furnished to all holy cheerful obedience for the future.—" Other foundation can no man lay but "Jesus Christ," the eternal Son of God in our nature, our Surety, High Priest, Sacrifice, and Intercessor. In his person, "God manifest in the flesh," all salvation is treasured up, purchased by his meritorious life and agonizing death, given through his intercession, and by the supply of his Spirit to sanctify our souls. The sinner who is convinced of his danger, humbly conscious of his guilt, sensible of the worth of his immortal soul, and drawn off from all other hopes; in the exercise of genuine repentance, and believing the testimony of God's word, that Jesus is able and willing "to "save to the uttermost;" encouraged by his invitations and promises, comes with earnest desires, trembling expectations, and fervent prayers; applies to him and waits on him for this salvation; waits also his time, and never waits in vain.1 He is now willing to renounce his sins, deny himself, and sacrifice other interests and pleasures, when they come in competition with the salvation of his soul, and the excellency of Christ.1 In this way he "passes from death unto life;" obtains pardon of sin, peace of conscience, the gracious influences, of the Holy Spirit; becomes "a new creature," "walks in newness of life," "ceases to do evil, "learns to do well;" and by the grace of God (which he earnestly seeks in dailyprayer,) is taught, inclined, and enabled "to deny ungodliness and "worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, "and godly in this present world."
1 Read Matt. xi. 28—30. xxii. 2 Cor. v. and vi.
This man is indeed a Christian, has "a hope" of glory "which maketh not ashamed," and is therefore fit for death and judgment; because he is entitled to, and meet for, "the inheritance of "the saints in light." But deceive not yourselves: this man alone is fit to die; for, without repentance of sin, faith in Christ, love to him, and holiness of heart and life through the sanctification of the Spirit, no man can find acceptance with God, or admission into heaven. Consider therefore in this time of adversity, whether you have built on this rock, fled to this refuge, come to God in this way, and experienced this change of disposition and behaviour. If this be indeed your happy case, your "consideration" will issue in inward peace and joy; in gratitude to God, even for his fatherly correction,2 and submission to his will whether for life or death: and you will endeavour to convince your fellow sufferers, that religion is the source of the most effectual consolations, the cure of impatience, and the remedy against the fear of death.
1 Read Phil. iii. • Read Heb. xii.
If this matter be yet doubtful, you will see the necessity of improving your confinement and retirement, the continuance of your life, and the use of your reason, (of which you may so soon be deprived,) in searching the scriptures and serious selfexamination, with humble particular confession of the sins of your past life. You will use fervent constant prayers to God to teach you his truth, shew you his salvation, and 'grant you true re'pentance and his Holy Spirit' You will beg for Christ's sake that-he will forgive your sins, give you the comfort of his pardoning love, and, by renewing you to holiness, prepare you for a holy heaven whenever you leave this world. In short, you will see cause, without delay, "to seek the "Lord whilst he may be found,"1 in all the means of grace, as far as your disorders will admit of it. For, if, flattering yourselves with hopes of recovery and future years, you should postpone this one thing needful, and your sickness should end in death, (which, considering that you " live and move "and have your being" in that God with whom you thus trifle, may probably be the case,) the event and disappointment will be indeed tremendous.2 But, whether life or death be before you, the counsel here given must be good; and the calm, arising from such serious attention to the concerns of eternity, would best concur with your medicines in restoring your health.
1 Read Isa. lv. * Read Heb. iii.
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