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the proudest of his enemies. We may mock, but “God will not be mocked i.” He that shooteth arrows against the sun, shall never reach high enough to violate it: but the arrows shall return upon his own head. Contempt of God and his threatenings doth but tie our damnation the faster upon us, and make our condition the more remediless. The
and wrestling of a beast, with the rope that binds him, doth make the knot the faster. Nay, there is no atheist in the world, but, some time or other, feeleth by the horrors of his own bosom, and by the records of his own conscience, that there is a consumption decreed, and a day of slaughter coming for the bulls of Bashan.
Again, others I have known acknowledg, e indeed, the terror of the Lord, but yet go desperately on in their presumptions, and that upon two other dangerous downfals. First, they thus argue,-Peradventure I belong to God's election of grace; and then he will fetch me in, in his time; and, in the mean time, his mercy is above my sins, and it is not for me to hasten his work till he will himself.-0) what a perverseness is this, for the wickedness of man to perturb the order of God! His rule is, that we should argue from a holy conversation to our election, and, by our diligence in adding one grace unto another, to make it sure unto ourselves; not to argue from our election to our calling, nor to neglect all diligence, till our election appear. It is true, the mercy of Christ is infinitely wider than the very rebellious men, and, it may be, he will snatch such a wicked disputer as this like a brand out of the fire. But then know withal, that every desperate sin thou dost now wilfully run into, will, at last, cost thee such bitter throes, such bloody tears, as thou wouldst not be willing, with the least of them, to purchase the most sweet and constant pleasure, which thy heart can now delight in. And in the mean time, it is a bloody adventure upon the patience of God, for any man upon expectation of God's favour to steal' time from his service, and to turn the probability of the mercy of God into an occasion of sinning. The Ninevites gathered another conclusion from these premises; “ Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry mightily unto God : yea, let them turn every one from their evil way, and from the violence which is in their hands:” and the ground of this resolution is this, “ Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger that we perish not ?"— And the prophets teach us to inake another use of the possibility of God's mercy : “Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him " ?" &c. And again : “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be, ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger,"
i Gal. vi. 7. 8. k 2 Chro. xxxvi, 16. I Medium interim furantur tempus, et commeatum faciunt «lelinquendis. Tertul. m Jonah iii.%, 9. VOL. 11.
But then, secondly, there are not wanting desperate wretches, who will thus hellishly argue against the service of God :-It may be, the decree is gone forth, and I am rejected by God: and why should I labour in vain, and go about to repeal his will, and not rather, since I have no Heaven hereafter, take the fill of mine own ways and lusts here?–Thus we find the wicked epicures conclude, “ We shall die to-morrow; therefore, let us eat and drink today P."—Nay, but who art thou, O man, who disputest against God? who rather choosest to abuse the secrets of God, that thou mayest dishonour him, than to be ruled by his revealed will, that thou mayest obey him ? Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth; but let not the clay dash itself against him that made it. Remember and tremble at the difference, which our Saviour makes even amongst the wicked in Hell. “ It shall be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah, and for Tyre and Sidon, in the day of judgment,” than for those cities which have heard and despised him. Wicked men are treasuring up of wrath, and hoarding up of destruction against their own souls. Every new oath or blasphemy heaps a new mountain upon their conscience ; every renewed act of any uncleanness plungeth a man deeper into Hell, giveth the Devil more holdfast of him, adds more fuel unto bis Tophet, squeezeth in more dregs and woful ingredients into the cup of astonishment which he must swallow. Doubtless, a sinner in Hell would account himself a
u Joel ii. 12, 14.
• Zeph. ii. 3.
PI Cor. xv. 32.
blessed creature, if he did not feel there the weight and worm of such and such particular sins, which with much easiness he might have forborne, nay, which without pain and labour he could not commit. We see Dives in Hell begged for but a drop of water to cool his tongue in that mighty flame. Now suppose a man in a burning furnace : what great comfort could he receive from but a drop of water against a furnace of fire ? Certainly, the abatement of so much pain as the abiding of one drop would remove, could, in no proportion, amount to the taking away the punishment of the smallest sin, of the least idle word, or unprofitable thought : and yet, in that extremity, there shall not be allowed a drop of refreshment against a lake of fire. O that men would, therefore, in time consider, what a woful thing it is to fall into the hands, and to rouse up the jealousy of the living God! that because he will do thus and thus unto obdurate sinners, they would therefore in time humble themselves under his mighty hand, and prepare to meet him in the way of his judgements. For, certainly, no sooner doth the heart of a sinner yield to God, but he meeteth him in his return, and preventeth him with goodness; his heart likewise is turned within him, and his repentings are kindled together. With much more delight will he put a man into the arms of Christ, than force him under his feet. 6. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men; he taketh no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but he delighteth in mercy."
The last thing observed, was the manner of this victory, expressed in those words, ponam, and ponam scabellum: To put, and to put as a stool under Christ's feet. Now this expression, that the conquest of Christ's enemies shall be but as the removing of a stool into his place, noteth unto us two things :
First, The easiness of God's victory over the enemies of Christ. They are before him as nothing, less than pothing, the drop of a bucket", the dust of a balance, a very little thing. What thing is heavier than a mountain ? what thing easier than a touch? what lighter than chaff? or softer than wax? and yet they, wbo, in the eyes of men, are as strong and immovable as mountains,- if God but touch them, they
q Isa. xli. 15.
shall be turned into chaff, and flow' at his presence. If a man had a deadly pestilence, and of infallible infection ; how easily might that man be avenged on his enemy, but with breathing in his face! Now the breath of the Lord is like a stream of brimstone to devour the wicked. As easily as fire consumeth flax or stubble, as easily as poison invadeth the spirits of the body,-as easily as a rod of iron breaketh in pieces a potter's vessel“, -as easily as a burthensome stone * bruiseth that which it falls upon; so, and much more irresistibly, doth the wrath of the Lord consume his enemies.
Not to insist long on so certain and obvious a truth : far easier, we know, it is to destroy than to build up: there is no such art required in demolishing, as there is in erecting of an edifice; those things which are long and difficult in growing up, are suddenly extinguished. Since, therefore, God hath power and wisdom to make the creature,-no wonder if he can, most easily, destroy him.
Again ; God's power is, as it were, set on by his jealousy and fury against sinners. Anger, we know, is the whetstone of strength: in an equality of other terms, it will make a man prevail. Nothing is able to stand before a fire, which is once enraged. Now God's displeasure is kindled, and breaketh forth into a flame against the sins of men ?; like a devouring lion, or a bereaved bear,-like the implacable rage of a jealous man ;-so doth the fire of the Lord's revenge break forth upon the enemies of his son.
Add hereunto our disposition and preparedness for the wrath of God. Strength itself may be tired out in vain upon a subject, which is incapable of any injury therefrom. But if the paw of a bear meet with so thin a substance as the caul of a man's heart, how easily is it torn to pieces ! Every action is then most speedily finished, when the subject on which it works, is thereunto prepared. Far easier is it to make a print in wax than in an adamant; to kindle a fire in dry stubble, than in green wood. Now wicked men have fitted themselves for wrath, and are the procurers d and artificers
r Isa, Ixiv. 3. • Isa. xxx. 33. t Isa. xxvii. 4. Isa. xlvii. 14. u Psalm ii. 9. Zech. xii. 3, 6. y Corpora tarde augescunt, cito exstinguuntur. Tac.
Deut. xxix. 20. a Hosea xiii. 7, 8. b Prov. vi. 34. Cant. viii, 6. Ezek. Xxxvi. 5. c Rom, ix. 22. Isa. iii. 9. Jer. ii. 17. d Jer. iv. 18.
of their own destruction. They are vessels; and God is never without treasures of wrath : so that the confusion of a wicked man is but like the drawing of water out of a fountain, or the filling of a bag out of a heap of treasure. Lastly, Add hereunto our destituteness of all help and suc
Even fire amongst pitch might be quenched, if a man could pour down water in abundance upon it. But the wicked shall have no strength, either in or about them, to prevent or remove the wrath to come. Here, indeed, they have some helps (such as they are) to stand out against God in his word. Wealth and greatness to be the provisions of their lusts ; the countenance of the wicked world, to encourage them in their ways; Satan and the wisdom of the flesh, to furnish them with arguments, and cast a garnish upon uncleanness: but when a lion comes, the shepherd can do the sheep no good; when the fire comes, the rotten post shall perish with the varnish which covered it. He that was here strong enough to provoke God, shall at last be bound hand and foot; and so have no faculty left, either to resist him, or to run from him.
There is a foolish disposition in the hearts of men, to think that they shall ever continue in that estate, which they are once in. The proud and wicked man hath said in his heart, “ I shall never be moved, I shall never be in adversity : God hath forgotten, he hideth his face, he will never see it f.” And the prophet David was overtaken with this gross error, “I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.” This was the vain conceit of the fool in the Gos pel ; "thou hast much laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." This ever hath been the language of secure and wicked men: “No evil shall come upon us '; I shall have peace', though I walk in the imagination of mine heart. To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” And so also in afflictions : “ Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious, and shut up his lovingkindness in displeasure ?- from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me?? I said, My hope is lost, and I am cut off from my part ":" I shall never overcome such an affic
e Hosea xiii. 9. i Deut. xxix, 19.
f Psalm x. 6, 11. & Luke xii. 19. k Isai. Ivi. 12. 1 Isai. xxxviii. 12.
b Micah iij. II. in Ezek. xxxvii. 11.