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CHAPTER III.

THAT ALL MANKIND IS FALLEN BY SIN FROM THAT GLORIOUS ESTATE HE WAS MADE IN, INTO A MOST WOFUL AND MISERABLE CONDITION.

The devil abusing the serpent, and man abusing his own free will, overthrew Adam, and in him all his posterity, by sin. (Gen. iii. 1-3 etc.,)

Now, man's misery appears in these two things:--

  1. His misery in regard of sin.

  2. His misery in regard of the consequences of sin.

  3. His misery in regard of sin appears in these particulars:--

  4. Every man living is born guilty of Adam's sin. Now, the justice and equity of God, in laying this sin to every man's charge, though none of Adam's posterity personally committed it, appears thus:--

First. If Adam standing, all mankind had stood, then it is equal, that he falling, all his posterity should fall. All our estates were ventured in this ship: therefore, if we should have been partakers of his gains, if he had continued safe, it is fit we should be partakers of his loss too.

But, secondly. We are all in Adam, as a whole country in a parliament man; the whole country doth what he doth. And although we made no particular choice of Adam to stand for us, yet the Lord made it for us; who, being goodness itself, bears more good will to man than he can or could bear to himself; and being wisdom itself, made the wisest choice, and took the wisest course for the good of man. For this made most for men's safety and quiet; for if he had stood, all fear of losing our happy estate had vanished; whereas, if every man had been left to stand or fall for himself, a man would ever have been in fear of falling.

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And again: this was the sure way to have all men's states preserved; for having the charge of the estates of all men that ever should be in the world, he was the more pressed to look the more about him, and so to be more watchful, that he be not robbed, and so undo and procure the curses of so many thousands against him. Adam was the head of mankind, and all mankind naturally are members of that head; and if the head invent and plot treason, and the head practice treason against the king or state, the whole body is found guilty, and the whole body must needs suffer. Adam was the poisoned root and cistern of all mankind: now, the branches and streams being in the root and spring originally, they therefore are tainted with the same poisoned principles. If these things satisfy not, God hath a day coming wherein he will reveal his own righteous proceedings before men and angels. (Rom. ii. 4.)

O that men would consider this sin, and that the consideration of it could humble people's hearts! If any mourn for sin, it is for the most part for other foul actual sins; few for this sin that first made the breach, and began the controversy betwixt God and man. Next unto the sin against the Holy Ghost, and contempt of the gospel, this is the greatest sin that crieth loudest in God's ears for vengeance, day and night, against a world of men. For now men's sins are against God in their base and low estates; but this sin was committed against Jehovah, when man was at the top of his preferment. Rebellion of a traitor on a dunghill is not so great as of a favorite in court. Little sins against light are made horrible. No sin, by any man committed, was ever against so much light as Adam had. This sin was the first that ever displeased God. Drunkenness deprives God of the glory of sobriety; whoring, of chastity; but this sin darkens the very sun, defaces all the image of God, the glory of man, and the glory of God in man; this is the first sin ever did thee mischief. This sin, like a captain, hath gathered together all those troops and swarms of sins that now take hold upon thee. Thank this sin for a hard heart thou so much complainest of; thank this sin for that hellish darkness that overspreads thee. This hath raised Satan, death, judgment, hell, and heaven against thee.

O, consider these sins that are packed up in this evil. 1. Fearful apostasy from God like a devil. 2. Horrible rebellion against God in joining sides with the devil, and taking God's greatest enemies' part against God. 3. Woful unbelief, in suspecting God's threats to be true. 4. Fearful blasphemy in conceiving the devil (God's enemy and man's murderer) to be more true in his temptations than God in his threatening. 5. Horrible pride, 208 in thinking to make this sin of eating the forbidden fruit to be a step and a stair to rise higher, and to be like God himself. 6. Fearful contempt of God, making bold to rush upon the sword of the threatening secretly, not fearing the plague denounced. 7. Horrible unthankfulness, when God had given him all but one tree, and yet he must be fingering that too. 8. Horrible theft, in taking that which was none of his own. 9. Horrible idolatry, in doting upon and loving the creature more than God the Creator, who is blessed forever.

You, therefore, that now say, No man can say, Black is your eye, you have lived civilly all your days, look upon this one grievous sin, take a full view of it, which thou hast never shed one tear for as yet, and see thy misery by it, and wonder at God's patience; he hath spared thee who wast born branded with it, and hast lived guilty of it, and must perish forever for it, if the Lord from heaven pity thee not.

But here is not all. Consider, secondly, every man is born stark dead in sin. (Ephes. ii. 1.) He is born empty of every inward principle of life, void of all grace, and hath no more good in him (whatsoever he thinks) than a dead carrion hath. And he is under the power of sin, as a dead man is under the power of death, and can not perform any act of life; their bodies are living coffins to carry a dead soul up and down in.

It is true, (I confess,) many wicked men do many good actions, as praying, hearing, alms deeds; but it is not from any inward principle of life. External motives, like plummets on a dead (yet artificial) clock, set them a-running. Jehu was zealous, but it was only for a kingdom; the Pharisees gave alms only to be seen of men. If one write a will with a dead man's hand deceased, that will can not stand in any law; it was not his will, because it was not writ by him, by any inward principle of life of his own. Pride makes a man preach, pride makes a man hear, and pray sometimes. Self-love stirs up strange desires in men, so that we may say. This is none of God's act by his grace in the soul, but pride and self-love. Bring a dead man to the fire, and chafe him, and rub him, you may produce some heat by this external working upon him; but take him from the fire again, and he is soon cold; so many a man that lives under a sound minister, under the lashes and knock of a chiding, striving conscience, he hath some heat in him, some affections, some fears, some desires, some sorrows stirred; yet take him from the minister and his chafing conscience, and he grows cold again presently, because he wants an inward principle of life.

Which point might make us to take up a bitter lamentation for 209 every natural man. It is said, (Ex. xii. 30,) "That there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house wherein there was not one found dead." O Lord, in some towns and families, what a world of these are there! Dead husband, dead wife, dead servants, dead children, walking up and down with their sins, (as fame saith some men do after death,) with grave clothes about them; and God only knows whether ever they shall live again or not. How do men lament the loss of their dead friends! O, thou hast a precious soul in thy bosom stark dead; therefore lament thine estate, and consider it seriously.

First. A dead man can not stir, nor offer to stir; a wicked man can not speak one good word, or do any good action, if heaven itself did lie at the stake for doing it, nor offer to shake off his sins, nor think one good thought. Indeed, he may speak and think of good things, but he can not have good speeches, nor good thoughts; as a holy man may think of evil things as of the sins of the times, the thought of those evil things is good, not evil, so e contra.

Secondly. A dead man fears no dangers, though never so great, though never so near. Let ministers bring a natural man tidings of the approach of the devouring plagues of God denounced, he fears them not.

Thirdly. A dead man can not be drawn to accept of the best offers. Let Christ come out of heaven, and fall about the neck of a natural man, and with tears in his eyes beseech him to take his blood, himself, his kingdom, and leave his sins, he can not receive this offer.

Fourthly. A dead man is stark blind, and can see nothing, and stark deaf, and hears nothing, he can not taste any thing; so a natural man is stark blind, he sees no God, no Christ, no wrath of the Almighty, no glory of heaven. He hears the voice of a man, but he hears not the voice of God in a sermon; "he savoreth not the things of God's Spirit."

Fifthly. A dead man is senseless, and feels nothing: so cast mountains of sin upon a wicked man, he feels no hurt until the flames of hell break out upon him.

Sixthly. A dead man is a speechless man; he can not speak unless it be like a parrot.

Seventhly. He is a breathless man: a natural man may say a prayer, or devise a prayer out of his memory and wit, or he may have a few short-winded wishes; but to pour out his soul in prayer, in the bosom of God, with groans unutterable, he can not. I wonder not to see so many families without family prayer. Why? They are dead men, and lie rotting in their sins.

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Eighthly. A dead man hath lost all beauty: so a mere natural man hath lost all glory; he is an ugly creature in the sight of God, good men, and angels, and shall one day be an abhorring to all flesh.

Ninthly. A dead man hath his worms gnawing him: so natural men have the worm of conscience breeding now; which will be gnawing them shortly.

Lastly. Dead men want nothing but casting into the grave: so there wants nothing but casting into hell for a natural man. So that, as Abraham loved Sarah well while living, yet when she was dead, he seeks for a burying-place for her to carry her out of his sight. So God may let some fearful judgment loose, and say to it. Take this dead soul out of my sight, etc. It was a wonder that Lazarus, though lying but four days in the grave, should live again. O, wonder thou that ever God should let thee live, that hast been rotting in thy sin twenty, thirty, perhaps sixty years together.

III. Every natural man and woman is born full of all sin, (Rom. i. 29,) as full as a toad is of poison, as full as ever his skin can hold; mind, will, eyes, mouth, every limb of his body, and every piece of his soul, is full of sin; their hearts are bundles of sin; hence Solomon saith, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child"; whole treasures of sin. "An evil man, (said Christ,) out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things": nay, raging seas of sin. The tongue is a world of mischief. What is the heart then? "For out of the abundance of the heart the tongue speaketh; "so that, look about thee and see, whatever sin is broached, and runs out of any man's heart into his life through the whole world, all those sins are in thine heart; thy mind is a nest of all the foul opinions, heresies, that ever were vented by any man; thy heart is a foul sink of all atheism, sodomy, blasphemy, murder, whoredom, adultery, witchcraft, buggery; so that, if thou hast any good thing in thee, it is but as a drop of rosewater in a bowl of poison; where fallen it is all corrupted.

It is true thou feelest not all these things stirring in thee at one time, no more than Hazael thought he was or should be such a bloodsucker, when he asked the prophet Elisha if he were a dog; but they are in thee like a nest of snakes in an old hedge. Although they break not out into thy life, they lie lurking in thy heart; they are there as a filthy puddle in a barrel, which runs not out, because thou happily wantest the temptation or occasion to broach and tap thine heart; or because of God's restraining grace by fear, shame, education, and good company, thou art 211 restrained and bridled up, and therefore when one came to comfort that famous picture, pattern, and monument of God's justice by seven years' horror, and grievous distress of conscience, when one told him he never had committed such sins as Manasses, and therefore he was not the greatest sinner since the creation, as he conceived, he replied, that he should have been worse than ever Manasses was, if he had lived in his time, and been on his throne.

Mr. Bradford would never have looked upon any one's lewd life with one eye, but he would presently return within his own breast with the other eye, and say, "In this my vile breast remains that sin, which, without God's special grace, I should have committed as well as he." O, methinks this might pull down men's proud conceits of themselves, especially such as bear up and comfort themselves in their smooth, honest, civil life; such as through education have been washed from all foul sins; they were never tainted with whoredom, swearing, drunkenness, or profaneness; and here they think themselves so safe, that God can not find in his heart to have a thought of damning them.

O, consider of this point, which may make thee pull thine hair from thine head, and turn thy clothes to sackcloth, and run up and down with amazement and paleness in thy face, and horror in thy conscience, and tears in thine eyes. What though thy life be smooth, what though thy outside, thy sepulcher, be painted? O, thou art full of rottenness, of sin, within. Guilty, not before men, as the sins of thy life make thee, but before God, of all the sins that swarm and roar in the whole world at this day, for God looks to the heart; guilty thou art therefore of heart whoredom, heart sodomy, heart blasphemy, heart drunkenness, heart buggery, heart oppression, heart idolatry; and these are the sins that terribly provoke the wrath of Almighty God against thee. (Is. lvii. 17.) "For the iniquity of his covetousness," saith our translation, "I smote him;" but the Hebrew renders it better--"For the iniquity of his concupiscence" (which is the sin of his heart and nature) "I smote him." As a king is angry and musters up his army against rebels, not only which brings his soldiers out to fight, but who keeps soldiers in their trenches ready for to fight. These sins of thine heart are all ready for armed to fight against God at the watchword or alarm of any temptation. Nay, I dare affirm and will prove it, that these sins provoke God to anger, and are as bad, if not worse, than the sins of thy life. For,--

(1). The sin of thine heart or nature is the cause, the womb that contains, breeds, brings forth, suckles all the litter, all the 212 troop of sins that are in thy life; and therefore, giving life and being to all other, it is the greatest sin.

(2). Sin is more abundantly in the heart than in the life. An actual sin is but a little breach made by the sea of sin in thine heart, where all sin, all poison, is met and mingled together. Every actual sin is but as a shred broken off from the great bottom of sin in the heart; and hence Christ saith, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; and out of the evil treasure of the heart we bring forth evil things." A man spending money (I mean sin in the life) is nothing to his treasure of sin in the heart.

(3). Sin is continually in the heart. Actual sins of the life fly out like sparks, and vanish; but this brand is always glowing within: the toad spits poison sometimes, but it retains and keeps a poisonful nature always. Hence the apostle calls it "sin that dwells in me," that is, which always lies and remains in me. So that, in regard of the sins of thy heart, thou dost rend in pieces and break, 1. All the laws of God. 2. At one clap. 3. Every moment of thy life. O, methinks the thought of this might rend a heart of rock in pieces; to think I am always grieving God at all times, whatsoever I do.

(4). Actual sins are only in the life and outward porch; sins of the heart are within the inward house. One enemy within the city is worse than many without; a traitor on the throne is worse than a traitor in the open field. The heart is Christ's throne. A swine in the best room is worse than in the outward house. More I might say; but thus, you see, sins of the life are not so bad, nor provoke God's wrath so fiercely against thee, as the sins of thine heart. Mourn, therefore, not so much that thou hast not been so bad as others are, but look upon thy black feet--look within thine own heart, and lament that, in regard of thy sins there, thou art as bad as any; mourn not so much merely that thou hast sinned, as that thou hast a nature so sinful, that it is thy nature to be proud, and thy nature to be vain and deceitful, and loathe not only thy sins, but thyself for thy sin, being brimful of unrighteousness. But here is not all. Consider fourthly,

IV. That whatever a natural man doth is sin; as the inside is full, so the outside is nothing else but sin, at least in the sight of a holy God, though not in the sight of blind, sinful men. Indeed, he may do many things, which, for the matter of them, are good; as he may give alms, pray, fast, come to church: but as they come from him they are sin; as a man may speak good words, but we can not endure to hear him speak, because of his stinking breath which defiles them. Some actions 213 indeed, from their general nature, are indifferent, for all indifferences lie in generals; but every deliberate action, considered inindividuo, with all its circumstances, as time, place, motive, end, is either morally good or morally evil, as may be proved easily; morally good in good men, morally evil in unregenerate and bad men. For let us see particular actions of wicked men.

(1). All their thoughts are only evil, and that continually. (Gen. vi. 5).

(2). All their words are sins, (Ps. 1. 16): their mouths are open sepulchers, which smell filthy when they are opened.

(3). All their civil actions are sins, as their eating, drinking, buying, selling, sleeping, and ploughing. (Prov. xxi. 4).

(4). All their religious actions are sins, as coming to church, praying, (Prov. xv. 8, 9; xxviii. 9), fasting and mourning: roar and cry out of thyself till doomsday, they are sins. (Is. lviii.).

(5). All their most zealous actions are sins, as Jehu, who killed all Baal's priests: because his action was outwardly and materially good, therefore God rewarded him with temporal favors; but because he had a hawk's eye to get and settle a kingdom to himself by this means, and so was theologically evil, therefore God threatens to be revenged upon him. (Hosea i. 4.)

(6). Their wisdom is sin. O, men are often commended for their wisdom, wit, and parts; yet those wits, and that wisdom of theirs, are sin. (Rom. viii.). The wisdom of the flesh is enmity against God.

Thus all they have or do are sins; for how can he do any good action whose person is filthy? "A corrupt tree can not bring forth good fruit:" thou art out of Christ; therefore all thy good things, all thy kindnesses done unto the Lord, and for the Lord, as thou thinkest, are most odious to him. Let a woman seek to give all the content to her husband that may be, not out of any love to him, but only out of love to another man, he abhors all that she doth. Every wicked man wants an inward principle of love to God and Christ, and therefore, though he seeks to honor God never so much, all that he doth being done out of love to himself, God abhors all that he performs. All the good things a wicked man doth are for himself, either for self-credit or self-ease, or self-content, or self-safety; he sleeps, prays, hears, speaks, professeth for himself alone; hence, acting always for himself, he committeth the highest degree of idolatry; he plucks God out of his throne, and makes himself a god, because he makes himself his last end in every action; for a man puts himself in the room of God as well by making himself his finis ultimus, as if he should make himself primum 214 principium. Sin is a forsaking or departing from God. Now, every natural man remaining always in a state of separation from God, because he always wants the bond of union, which is faith, is always sinning; God's curse lies upon him; therefore he brings out nothing but briers and thorns.

Objection. But thou wilt say, If our praying and hearing be sin, why should we do these duties? We must not sin.

Answer. 1. Good duties are good in themselves, although, coming from thy vile heart, they are sins.

  1. It is less sin to do them than to omit them; therefore, if thou wilt go to hell, go in the fairest path thou canst in thither.

  2. Venture and try; it may be God may hear, not for thy prayers' sake, but for his name's sake. The unjust judge helped the poor widow, not because he loved her suit, but for her importunity; and so be sure thou shalt have nothing if thou dost not seek. What though thou art a dog, yet thou art alive, and art for the present under the table. Catch not at Christ, snatch not at his bread, but wait till God give thee him; it may be thou mayest have him one day. O, wonder then at God's patience, that thou livest one day longer, who hast all thy lifetime, like a filthy toad, spit thy venom in the face of God, that he hath never been quit of thee. O, look upon that black bill that will one day be put in against thee at the great day of account, where thou must answer with flames of fire about thine ears, not only for thy drunkenness, thy bloody oaths and whoring, but for all the actions of thy short life, and just so many actions so many sins.

Thou hast painted thy face over now with good duties and good desires; and a little honesty, amongst some men, is of that worth and rarity, that they think God is beholding to them, if he can get any good action from. But when thy painted face shall be brought before the fire of God's wrath, then thy vileness shall appear before men and angels. O, know it, that as thou dost nothing else but sin, so God heaps up wrath against the dreadful day of wrath.

Thus much for man's misery in regard of sin.

Now followeth his misery in regard of the consequents or miseries that follow upon sin. And these are, 1. Presence. 2. Future.

First. Man's present miseries, that already lie on him for sin, are these seven; that is,--

First. God is his dreadful enemy. (Ps. v. 5.)

Question. How may one know another to be his enemy?

Answer. 1. By their looks. 2. By their threats. 3. By their blows. So God,--

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  1. Hides his face from every natural man, and will not look upon him. (Is. lix. 2.)

  2. God threatens, nay, curseth every natural man. (Gal. iii. 10).

  3. God gives them heavy, bloody lashes on their souls and bodies.

Never tell me, therefore, that God blesseth thee in thine outward estate; no greater sign of God's wrath than for the Lord to give thee thy swing, as a father never looks after a desperate son, but lets him run where he pleases. And if God be thine enemy, then every creature is so too, both in heaven and earth.

Secondly. God hath forsaken them, and they have lost God. (Eph. ii. 12.) It is said, that, in the grievous famine of Samaria, doves' dung was sold at a large price, because they wanted bread. O, men live and pine away without God, without bread, and therefore the dung of worldly contentments are esteemed so much of, thou hast lost the sight of God, and the favor of God, and the special protection of God, and the government of God. Cain's punishment lies upon thee in thy natural estate; thou art a runagate from the face of God, and from his face thou art hid. Many have grown mad to see their houses burnt, and all their goods lost. O, but God, the greatest good, is lost. This loss made Saul cry out in distress of conscience, (1 Sam. xxviii. 15.) The Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me; the loss of the sweetness of whose presence, for a little while only, made the Lord Jesus Christ cry out. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? whereas thou hast lost God all thy lifetime. O, thou hast a heart of brass, that canst not mourn for his absence so long. The damned in hell have lost God, and know it, and so the plague of desperate horror lieth upon them; thou hast lost God here, but knowest it not, and the plague of a hard heart lieth upon thee, thou that canst not mourn for this loss.

Thirdly. They are condemned men, condemned in the court of God's justice, by the law which cries, Treason, treason against the most high God, and condemned in the court of mercy, by the gospel, which cries. Murder, murder against the Son of God, (John iii. 18;) so that every natural man is damned in heaven, and damned on earth. God is thy all-seeing, terrible Judge; conscience is thine accuser, a heavy witness; this world is thy jail; thy lusts are thy fetters. In this Bible is pronounced and writ thy doom, thy sentence. Death is thy hangman, and that fire that shall never go out thy torment. The Lord hath in his infinite patience reprieved thee for a time; O, take heed and get a pardon before the day of execution come.

Fourthly. Being condemned, take him, jailer; he is a bondslave 216 to Satan, (Eph. ii. 3); for, His servants ye are whom ye obey, saith Christ. Now, every natural man doth the devil's drudgery, and carries the devil's pack; and howsoever he saith he defieth the devil, yet he sins, and so doth his work. Satan hath overcome and conquered all men in Adam, and therefore they are under his bondage and dominion. And though he can not compel a man to sin against his will, yet he hath power,--

First. To present and allure man's heart by a sinful temptation.

Secondly. To follow him with it, if at first he be something shy of it.

Thirdly. To disquiet and rack him, if he will not yield, as might be made to appear in many instances.

Fourthly. Besides, he knows men's humors, as poor wandering, beggarly gentlemen do their friends in necessity, (yet in seeming courtesy,) he visits and applies himself unto them, and so gains them as his own. O, he is in a fearful slavery who is under Satan's dominion, who is,--

  1. A secret enemy to thee.

  2. A deceitful enemy to thee, that will make a man believe (as he did Evah, even in her integrity) that he is in a fair way, when his condition is miserable.

  3. He is a cruel enemy or lord over them that be his slaves, (2 Cor. iv. 3;) he gags them so that they can not speak, (as that man that had a dumb devil,) neither for God, nor to God, in prayer; he starves them, so as no sermon shall ever do them good; he robs them of all they get in God's ordinances, within three hours after the market, the sermon is ended.

  4. He is a strong enemy. (Luke xi. 21.) So that if all the devils in hell are able to keep men from coming out of their sins, he will: so strong an enemy, that he keeps men from so much as sighing or groaning under their burdens and bondage. (Luke xi. 21.) When the strong man keeps the palace, his goods are in peace.

Fifthly. He is cast into utter darkness; as cruel jailers put their prisoners into the worst dungeons, so Satan doth natural men, (2 Cor. iv. 3, 4;) they see no God, no Christ; they see not the happiness of the saints in light; they see not those dreadful torments that should now in this day of grace awaken them and humble them. O, those by-paths which thousands wander from God in, they have no lamp to their feet to show them where they err. Thou that art in thy natural estate, art born blind, and the devil hath blinded thine eyes more by sin, and God in justice had blinded them worse for sin, so that thou art in a corner of 217 hell, because thou art in utter darkness, where thou hast not a glimpse of any saving truth.

Sixthly. They are bound hand and foot in this estate, and can not come out, (Rom. v. 6; 1 Cor. ii. 14); for all kind of sins, like chains, have bound every part and faculty of man, so that he is sure for stirring; and those are very strong in him, they being as dear as his members, nay, as his life, (Col. iii. 7); so that when a man begins to forsake his vile courses, and purposeth to become a new man, devils fetch him back, world enticeth him, and locketh him up; and flesh saith, O, it is too strict a course; farewell, then, merry days and good fellowship. O, thou mayest wish and desire to come out some time, but canst not put strength to thy desire, nor endure to do it. Thou mayest hang down thy head like a bulrush for sin, but thou canst not repent of sin; thou mayest presume, but thou canst not believe; thou mayest come half way, and forsake some sins, but not all sins; thou mayest come and knock at heaven's gate, as the foolish virgins did, but not enter in and pass through the gate; thou mayest see the land of Canaan, and take much pain to go into Canaan, and mayest taste of the bunches of grapes of that good land, but never enter into Canaan, into heaven, but thou lie bound, hand and foot, in this woful estate, and here thou must lie and rot like a dead carcass in his grave, until the Lord come and roll away the stone, and bid thee come out and live.

Lastly. They are ready every moment to drop into hell. God is a consuming fire against thee, and there is but one paper wall of thy body between thy soul and eternal flames. How soon may God stop thy breath! There is nothing but that between thee and hell; if that were gone, then farewell all. Thou art condemned, and the muffler is before thine eyes. God knows how soon the ladder may be turned; thou hangest but by one rotten twined thread of thy life, over the flames of hell every hour.

Thus much of man's present miseries.

Now followeth his future miseries, which are to come upon him hereafter.

I. They must die either by a sudden, sullen, or desperate death, (Ps. lxxxix. 48,) which though it is to a child of God a sweet sleep, yet to the wicked it is a fearful curse proceeding from God's wrath, whence, like a lion, he tears body and soul asunder; death cometh hissing upon him like a fiery dragon with the sting of vengeance in the mouth of it; it puts a period to all their worldly contentments, which then they must forsake, and carry 218 nothing away with them but a rotten winding sheet. It is the beginning of all their woe; it is the captain that strikes the stroke, and then armies of endless woes follow after. (Rev. vi. 2.) O, thou hadst better be a toad, or a dog, than a man, for there's an end of their troubles when they are dead and gone; they fall not as men from a steep hill, not knowing where they shall fall: now repentance is too late, especially if thou hadst lived under means before; it is either cold repentance, when the body is weak, and the heart is sick, or a hypocritical repentance, only for fear of hell; and therefore thou sayest, "Lord Jesus, receive my soul." Nay, commonly then, men's hearts are most hard, and therefore men die like lambs, and cry not out; then it is hard plucking thy soul from the devil's hands, to whom thou hast given it all thy life by sin; and if thou dost get it back, dost thou think that God will take the devil's leavings? Now thy day is past, and darkness begins to overspread thy soul; now flocks of devils come into thy chamber, waiting for thy soul, to fly upon it as a mastiff dog when the door is opened. And this is the reason why most men die quietly that lived wickedly, because Satan then hath them as his own prey; like pirates, who let a ship pass that is empty of goods, they shoot commonly at them that are richly loaden. The Christians, in some parts of the primitive church, took the sacrament every day, because they did look to die every day. But these times wherein we live are so poisoned and glutted with their ease, that it is a rare thing to see the man that looks death steadfastly in the face one hour together: but death will lay a bitter stroke on these one day.

II. After death they appear before the Lord to judgment, (Heb. ix. 27;) their bodies indeed rot in their graves, but their souls return before the Lord to judgment. (Eccles. xii. 7.) The general judgment is at the end of the world, when both body and soul appear before God, and all the world to an account. But there is a particular judgment that every man meets with after this life, immediately at the end of his life, where the soul is condemned only before the Lord.

You may perceive what this particular judgment is, thus, by these four conclusions:--

  1. That every man should die the first day he was born, is clear; for "the wages of sin is death;" in justice, therefore, it should be paid of a sinful creature as soon as he is born.

  2. That it should be thus with wicked men, but that Christ begs their lives for a season. (1 Tim. iv.) He is the Saviour of all men; that is, not a Saviour of eternal preservation out of hell, but a Saviour of temporal reservation from dropping into hell.

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  1. That this space of time, thus begged by Christ, is that season wherein only a man can make his peace with a displeased God. (2 Cor. vi. 2.).

  2. That if men do not thus within this cut of time, when death hath despatched them, judgment only remains for them; that is, then their doom is read, their date of repentance is out, then their sentence of everlasting death is passed upon them, that never can be recalled again. And this is judgment after death. "He that judgeth himself," saith the apostle, (1 Cor. xi. 31,) "shall not be judged of the Lord." Now, wicked men will not judge and condemn themselves in this life; therefore, at the end of it, God will judge them. All natural men are lost in this life, but they may be found and recovered again; but a man's loss by death is irrecoverable, because there is no means after death to restore them, there is no friend to persuade, no minister to preach, by which faith is wrought, and men get into Christ; there is no power of returning or repenting then; for night is come, and the day is past.

Again: the punishment is so heavy that they can only bear wrath, so that all their thoughts and affections are taken up with the burden. And, therefore, Dives cries out, "I am tormented." O that the consideration of this point might awaken every secure sinner! What will become of thine immortal soul when thou art dead? Thou sayest, I know not; I hope well, I tell thee, therefore, that which may send thee mourning to thy house, and quaking to thy grave, if thou diest in this estate, thou shalt not die like a dog, nor yet like a toad; but after death comes judgment; then farewell friends when dying; and farewell God forever, when thou art dead.

Now, the Lord open your eyes to see the terrors of this particular judgment; which if you could see, (unless you were mad,) it would make you spend whole nights and days in seeking to set all even with God.

I will show you briefly the manner and nature of it in these particulars.

  1. Thy soul shall be dragged out of thy body, as out of a foul prison, by the devil, the jailer, into some place within the bowels of the third heavens, and there thou shalt stand stripped of all friends, all comfort, all creatures before the presence of God, (Luke ix. 27;) as at the assizes, first the jailer brings the prisoners out.

  2. Then thy soul shall have a new light put into it, whereby it shall see the glorious presence of God, as prisoners brought with guilty eyes look with terror upon the judge. Now thou

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[continue]seest no God abroad in the world, but then thou shalt see the Almighty Jehovah, which sight shall strike thee with that hellish terror and dreadful horror, that thou shalt call to the mountains to cover thee--"O rocks, rocks, hide me from the face of the Lamb." (Rev. vi. ult.)

  1. Then all the sins that ever thou hast or shalt commit shall come fresh to thy mind; as when the prisoner is come before the face of the judge, then his accusers bring in their evidence; thy sleepy conscience then will be instead of a thousand witnesses, and every sin then, with all the circumstances of it, shall be set in order, armed with God's wrath round about thee. (Ps. 1. 21.) As letters writ with juice of oranges can not be read until it be brought unto the fire, and then they appear, so thou can not read that bloody bill of indictment thy conscience hath against thee now; but when thou shalt stand near unto God, a consuming fire, then what a heavy reckoning will appear! It may be thou hast left many sins now, and goest so far, and profitest so much, that no Christian can discern thee; nay, thou thinkest thyself in a safe estate; but yet there is one leak in thy ship that will sink thee; there is one secret, hidden sin in thine heart, which thou livest in, as all unsound people do, that will damn thee. I tell thee, as soon as ever thou art dead and gone, then thou shalt see where the knot did bind thee, where thy sin was that now hath spoiled thee forever, and then thou shalt grow mad to think--O that I never saw this sin I loved, lived in, plotted, perfected mine own eternal ruin by, until now, when it is too late to amend!

  2. Then the Lord shall take his everlasting farewell of thee, and make thee know it too. Now God is departed from thee in this life, but he may return in mercy to thee again; but when the Lord departs with all his patience, to wait for thee no more, nor shall Christ be offered thee any more, no Spirit to strive with thee any more, and so shall pass sentence, though haply not vocally, yet effectually upon thy soul, the Lord saying, "Depart, thou cursed," thou shalt see indeed the glory of God that others find, but to thy greater sorrow shalt never taste the same. (Luke xiii. 28.)

  3. Then shall God surrender up thy forsaken soul into the hands of devils, who, being thy jailers, must keep thee till the great day of account; so that as thy friends are scrambling for thy goods, and worms for thy body, so devils shall scramble for thy soul. For as soon as ever a wicked man is dead, he is either in heaven or in hell. Not in heaven, for no unclean thing comes there. If in hell, then amongst devils there shall be thine eternal lodging, (1 Pet. iii. 19); and hence thy forlorn soul shall

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[continue]lie mourning for the time past, now it is too late to recall again; groaning under the intolerable torments of the wrath of God present, and amazed at the eternity of misery and sorrow that is to come; waiting for that fearful hour when the last trump shall blow, and then body and soul meet to bear that wrath, that fire that shall never go out. O, therefore, suspect and fear the worst of thyself now; thou hast seldom or never, or very little, troubled thy head about this matter, whether Christ will save thee or not, thou hast such strong hopes and confidence already that he will. Know that it is possible thou mayest be deceived; and if so, when thou shalt know thy doom after death, thou canst not get an hour more to make thy peace with God, although thou shouldest weep tears of blood. If either the muffler of ignorance shall be before thine eyes,--like a handkerchief about the face of one condemned,--or if thou art pinioned with any lust, or if thou makest thine own pardon, proclaimest (because thou art sorry a little for thy sins, and resolvest never to do the like again) peace to thy soul, thou art one that after death shalt appear before the Lord to judgment. Thou that art thus condemned now, dying so, shalt come to thy fearful judgment after death.

There shall be a general judgment of soul and body at the end of the world, wherein they shall be arraigned and condemned before the great tribunal seat of Jesus Christ. (Jude 14, 15. 2 Cor. v. 10.) The hearing of judgment to come made Felix to tremble; nothing of more efficacy to awaken a secure sinner than sad thoughts of this fiery day.

But thou wilt ask me how it may be proved that there will be such a day.

I answer, God's justice calls for it. This world is the stage where God's patience and bounty act their parts, and hence every man will profess and conceive, because he feels it, that God is merciful. But God's justice is questioned; men think God to be all mercy, and no justice; all honey, and no sting. Now, the wicked prosper in all their ways, are never punished, but live and die in peace; whereas the godly are daily afflicted and reviled. Therefore, because this attribute suffers a total eclipse almost, now, there must come a day wherein it must shine out before all the world in the glory of it. (Rom. ii. 5.)

The second reason is from the glory of Christ. He was accused, arraigned, condemned by men; therefore he shall be the Judge of them. (John v. 27.) For this is an ordinary piece God's providence towards his people; the same evil he casts them into now, he exalts them into the contrary good in his time. As the Lord hath a purpose to make Joseph ruler over all 222 Egypt, but first he maketh him a slave, God had a meaning to make Christ Judge of men, therefore first he suffers him to be judged of men.

Quest. But when shall this judgment day be?

Ans. Though we can not tell the day and hour particularly, yet this we are sure of, that when all the elect are called, for whose sake the world stands, (Is. i. 9), when these pillars are taken away, then woe to the world; as when Lot was taken out of Sodom, then Sodom was burnt. Now, it is not probable that this time will come as yet; for first Antichrist must be consumed, and not only the scattered visible Jews, but the whole body of the Israelites, must first be called, and have a glorious church upon earth. (Ezek. xxxvii.) This glorious church Scripture and reason will enforce, which when it is called shall not be expired as soon as it is born, but shall continue many a year.

Quest. But how shall this judgment be?

Ans. The apostle describes it. (1 Thess. iv. 16, 17).

  1. Christ shall break out of the third heaven, and be seen in the air, before any dead arise; and this shall be with an admirable shout, as when a king cometh to triumph among his subjects, and over his enemies.

  2. Then shall the voice of the archangel be heard. Now, this archangel is Jesus Christ himself, as the Scripture expounds, being in the clouds of heaven; he shall, with an audible, heaven shaking shout, say, "Rise, you dead, and come to judgment!" even as he called to Lazarus, "Lazarus, arise!"

  3. Then the trump shall blow; and even as at the giving of the law (Ex. xix.) it is said the trumpet sounded, much more louder shall it now sound, when he comes to judge men that have broken the law.

  4. Then shall the dead arise. The bodies of them that have died in the Lord shall rise first; then the others that live shall (like Enoch) be translated and changed. (1 Cor. xv.)

  5. When thus the judge and justices are upon their bench at Christ's right hand, on their thrones, then shall the guilty prisoners be brought forth, and come out of their graves, like filthy toads, against this terrible storm. Then shall all the wicked, that ever were or ever shall be, stand quaking before this glorious Judge, with the same bodies, feet, hands, to receive their doom.

O, consider of this day, thou that livest in thy sins now, and yet art safe; there is a day coming wherein thou mayest and shalt be judged.

  1. Consider who shall be thy Judge. Why, mercy, pity, goodness itself, even Jesus Christ, that many times held out his
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[continue]bowels of compassion toward thee. A child of God may say, Yonder is my brother, friend, husband; but thou mayest say, Yonder is mine enemy. He may say at that day, Yonder is he that shed his blood to save me; thou mayest say, Yonder he comes whose heart I have pierced with my sins, whose blood I have despised. They may say, "O come, Lord Jesus, and cover me under thy wings." But thou shalt then cry out, "O rocks, fall upon me, and hide me from the face of the Lamb."

  1. Consider the manner of his coming. (2 Thess. i .7). He shall come in flaming fire--the heavens shall be on a flame--the elements shalt melt like scalding lead upon thee. When a house is on fire at midnight in a town, what a fearful cry is there made! When all the world shall cry, Fire! fire! and run up and down for shelter to hide themselves, but can not find it, but say, O, now the gloomy day of blood and fire is come; here's for my pride, here's for my oaths, and the wages for my drunkenness, security, and neglect of duties.

  2. In regard of the heavy accusations that shall come against thee at that day. There is never a wicked man almost in the world, as fair a face as he carries, but he hath, at some time or other, committed some such secret villainy, that he would be ready to hang himself for shame if others did know of it; as secret whoredom, self-pollution, speculative wantonness, men with men, women with women, as the apostle speaks. (Rom. i.) At this day all the world shall see and hear these privy pranks, then the books shall be opened. Men will not take up a foul business, nor end it in private; therefore there shall be a day of public hearing; things shall not be suddenly shuffled up, as carnal thoughts imagine, viz., that at this day, first Christ shall raise the dead, and then the separation shall be made, and then the sentence passed, and then suddenly the judgment day is done. No, no; it must take up some large quantity of time, that all the world may see the secret sins of wicked men in the world; and therefore it may be made evident from all Scripture and reason, that this day of Christ's kingly office in judging the world will last happily longer than his private administration now (wherein he is less glorious) in governing the world. Tremble, thou time server; tremble, thou hypocrite; tremble, thou that livest in any secret sin under the all-seeing eye of this Judge; thine own conscience indeed shall be a sufficient witness against thee, to discover all thy sins at thy particular judgment; but all the world shall openly see thine hidden, close courses of darkness, to thine everlasting shame at this day.

  3. In regard of the fearful sentence that then shall be passed

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[continue]upon thee: "Depart, thou cursed creature, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Thou shalt then cry out, "O, mercy, Lord! O, a little mercy!" "No," will the Lord Jesus say, "I did indeed once offer it you, but you refused; therefore depart." Then thou shalt plead again, "Lord, if I must depart, yet bless me before I go." "No, no; depart, thou cursed." "O, but, Lord, if I must depart cursed, let me go into some good place." "No; depart, thou cursed, into hell fire." "O Lord, that's a torment I can not bear; but if it must be so. Lord, let me come out again quickly." "No; depart, thou cursed, into everlasting fire." "O Lord, if this be thy pleasure, that here I must abide, let me have good company with me." "No; depart, thou cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." This shall be thy sentence; the hearing of which may make the rocks to rent; "so that, go on in thy sin and prosper, despise and scoff at God's ministers and prosper, abhor the power and practice of religion, as a too precise course, and prosper; yet know it, there will a day come when thou shalt meet with a dreadful Judge, a doleful sentence. Now is thy day of sinning; but God will have shortly his day of condemning.

  1. When the judgment day is done, then the fearful wrath of God shall be poured out, and piled upon their bodies and souls, and the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, shall kindle it, and here thou shalt lie burning, and none shall ever quench it. This is the execution of a sinner after judgment. (Rev. xxi. 8).

Now, this wrath of God consists in these things:--

  1. Thy soul shall be banished from the face and blessed sweet presence of God and Christ, and thou shalt never see the face of God more. It is said (Acts xx.) that "they wept sore, because they should see Paul's face no more." O, thou shalt never see the face of God, Christ, saints, and angels more. O, heavy doom, to famish and pine away forever without one bit of bread to comfort thee, one smile of God to refresh thee! Men that have their sores running upon them must be shut up from the presence of men sound and whole. O, thy sins, like plague sores, run on thee; therefore thou must be shut out like a dog from the presence of God and all his people (2 Thess. i. 9).

  2. God shall set himself like a consuming infinite fire against thee, and tread thee under his feet, who hast by sin trod him and his glory under foot all thy life. A man may devise exquisite torments for another, and great power may make a little stick to lay on heavy strokes; but great power stirred up to strike from great fury and wrath makes the stroke deadly. I tell thee, all

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[continue]the wisdom of God shall then be set against thee to devise torments for thee. (Micah ii. 4.) There was never such wrath felt or conceived as the Lord hath devised against thee that livest and diest in thy natural estate; hence it is called "wrath to come." (1 Thess. i. ult.) The torment which wisdom shall devise the almighty power of God shall inflict upon thee, so as there was never such power seen in making the world as in holding a poor creature under this wrath, that holds up the soul in being with one hand, and beats it with the other, ever burning like fire against a creature, and yet that creature never burnt up. (Rom. ix. 22). Think not this cruelty; it is justice. What cares God for a vile wretch, whom nothing can make good while it lives? If we have been long in hewing a block, and we can make no meet vessel of it, put it to no good use for ourselves, we cast it into the fire. God heweth thee by sermons, sickness, losses, and crosses, sudden death, mercies, and miseries; yet nothing makes thee better. What should God do with thee but cast thee hence? O, consider of this wrath before you feel it. I had rather have all the world burning about my ears than to have one blasting frown from the blessed face of an infinite and dreadful God. Thou canst not endure the torments of a little kitchen fire on the tip of thy finger, not one half hour together. How wilt thou bear the fury of this infinite, endless, consuming fire in body and soul throughout all eternity?

  1. The never-dying worm of a guilty conscience shall torment thee, as if thou hadst swallowed down a living poisonful snake, which shall lie gnawing and biting thine heart for sin past, day and night. And this worm shall torment by showing the cause of thy misery; that is, that thou didst never care for Him that would have saved thee; by showing thee also thy sins against the law, by showing thee thy sloth, whereby thy happiness is lost. Then shall thy conscience gnaw to think. So many nights I went to bed without prayer, and so many days and hours I spent in feasting and foolish sporting. O, if I had spent half that time, now misspent, in praying, in mourning, in meditation, yonder in heaven had I been. By showing thee also the means that thou once hadst to avoid this misery. Such a minister I heard once, that told me of my particular sins, as if he had been told of me; such a friend persuaded me once to turn over a new leaf; I remember so many knocks God gave at this iron heart of mine, so many mercies the Lord sent; but, O, no means could prevail with me. Lastly, by showing thee how easily thou mightest have avoided all these miseries. O, once I was almost persuaded to be a Christian; but I suffered my
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[continue]heart to grow dead, and fell to loose company, and so lost all. The Lord Jesus came unto my door and knocked; and, if I had done that for Christ which I did for the devil many a time to open at his knocks, I had been saved. A thousand such bites will this worm give at thine heart, which shall make thee cry out, O, time, time! O, sermons, sermons! O, my hopes and my helps are now lost that once I had to save my lost soul!

  1. Thou shalt take up thy lodging forever with devils, and they shall be thy companions. Him thou hast served here, with him must thou dwell there. It scares men out of their wits almost to see the devil, as they think, when they be alone; but what horror shall fill thy soul when thou shalt be banished from angels' society, and come into the fellowship of devils forever!

5.Thou shalt be filled with final despair. If a man be grievously sick, it comforts him to think it will not last long. But if the physician tell him he must live all his lifetime in this extremity, he thinks the poorest beggar in a better estate than himself. O, to think, when thou hast been millions of years in thy sorrows, then thou art no nearer thy end of bearing thy misery than at the first coming in! O, I might once have had mercy and Christ, but no hope now ever to have one glimpse of his face, or one good look from him any more.

  1. Thou shalt vomit out blasphemous oaths and curses in the face of God the Father forever, and curse God that never elected thee, and curse the Lord Jesus that never shed one drop of blood to redeem thee, and curse God the Holy Ghost that passed by thee and never called thee. (Rev. xvi. 9.) And here thou shalt lie, and weep, and gnash thy teeth in spite against God and thyself, and roar, and stamp, and grow mad, that there thou must lie under the curse of God forever. Thus, I say, thou shalt lie blaspheming, with God's wrath like a pile of fire on thy soul burning, and floods, nay, seas, nay, more, seas of tears, (for thou shalt forever lie weeping,) shall never quench it. And here, which way soever thou lookest, thou shalt see matter of everlasting grief. Look up to heaven, and there thou shalt see (O!) that God is forever gone. Look about thee, thou shalt see devils quaking, cursing God, and thousands, nay, millions, of sinful, damned creatures crying and roaring out with doleful shriekings, O, the day that ever I was born! Look within thee; there is a guilty conscience gnawing. Look to time past; O, those golden days of grace and sweet seasons of mercy are quite lost and gone! Look to time to come; there thou shalt behold evils, troops and swarms of sorrows, and woes, and raging waves, and billows of wrath come roaring upon thee.
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[continue]Look to time present; O, not one hour or moment of ease or refreshing, but all curses meet together, and feeding upon one poor lost immortal soul that never can be recovered again! No God, no Christ, no Spirit to comfort thee, no minister to preach unto thee, no friend to wipe away thy continual tears, no sun to shine upon thee, not a bit of bread, not one drop of water to cool thy tongue.

This is the misery of every natural man. Now, do not thou shift it from thyself, and say, God is merciful. True, but it is to very few, as shall be proved. It is a thousand to one if ever thou be one of that small number whom God hath picked out to escape this wrath to come. If thou dost not get the Lord Jesus to bear this wrath, farewell God, Christ, and God's mercy forever. If Christ had shed seas of blood, set thine heart at rest; there is not one drop of it for thee, until thou comest to see, and feel, and groan under this miserable estate. I tell thee, Christ is so far from saving thee, that he is thine enemy. If Christ were here, and should say. Here is my blood for thee, if thou wilt but lie down and mourn under the burden of thy misery, and yet for all his speeches, thy dry eyes weep not, thy stout heart yields not, thy hard heart mourns not, as to say, O, I am a sinful, lost, condemned, cursed, dead creature; what shall I do? dost not think but he would turn away his face from thee, and say, O, thou stony, hard-hearted creature, wouldest thou have me save thee from thy misery, and yet thou wilt not groan, sigh, and mourn for deliverance to me, out of thy misery? If thou likest thine estate so well, and prizest me so little, perish in thy misery forever.

O, labor to be humbled day and night under this thy woful estate. Thou art guilty of Adam's grievous sin: will this break thine heart? No. Thou art dead in sin, and top-full of all sin: will this break thine heart? No. Whatsoever thou doest, hast done, shalt do, remaining in this estate, is sin: will this break thine heart? No. God is thine enemy, and thou hast lost him: will this break thine heart? No. Thou art condemned to die eternally; Satan is thy jailer; thou art bound hand and foot in the bolts of thy sins, and cast into utter darkness, and ready every moment to drop into hell: will this break thine heart? No. Thou must die, and after that appear before the Lord to judgment, and then bear God's everlasting, insupportable wrath, which rends the rocks, and burns down to the bottom of hell. Will this break thine hard heart, man? No. Then farewell Christ forever; never look to see a Christ, until thou dost come to feel thy misery out of Christ. Labor therefore for this, and the Lord will reveal 228 the brazen serpent, when thou art in thine own sense and feeling, stung to death with the fiery serpents.

So I come to open the fourth principal point.

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