Imágenes de páginas

They fall under the power and wrath of an Infinite God; which, when we have heaped superlatives upon superlatives, yet still we must express defectively and all, that we can conceive of it, falls vastly short of reaching but a faint and languishing resemblance thereof. It is a state so full of perfect misery, that Misery itself is too easy a name to give it: yea, whatsoever we can speak most appositely of it, is but diminishing it; for, because it is the wrath and vengeance of an Infinite God, it can no more be known by us, than God himself. Plunge your thoughts as deep into it as you can, yet still there remains an infinite abyss, which you can never fathom.

Oh, that the consideration of this wrath might cause us all to tremble before this Great and Terrible God! that we might so fear it, as never to feel it; and be persuaded to fall down at his feet, that we may never fall into his hands!

And, that we may be thus affected, I have chosen this Text to set forth the greatness and dreadfulness of that wrath and vengeance, which the Righteous God will execute upon all stubborn and disobedient wretches. A Text, that speaks to us, as God did to the Israelites from Mount Sinai, out of the midst of the fire and blackness, darkness and tempest, in the voice of a trumpet.

And, truly, we have all need to have such rousing truths frequently inculcated upon us; for the best of us are lethargical: and though, sometimes, when our consciences are pinched hard by a severe and searching truth, we start up and look abroad yet, as soon as the present impression is over, we suddenly close our eyes, and fall asleep again in sin and security. A strange dullness and stupor hath seized us; that we can no longer keep waking, than we are shaken.

And, therefore, as we use to apply fire and burning coals to lethargic persons to awaken them: so we have need to heap coals of fire upon men's heads; to speak with fiery tongues, and thunder woe and wrath and judgments against them, that we may rouse the secure, stupid world.

In the words, we have these Two Parts observable.

An Appropriation of Vengeance unto God: Vengeance

belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. The Dreadfulness of that Vengeance inferred, from the consideration of the Author and Inflicter of it: It is a fearful thing, to fall into the hands of the Living God.

I. I begin with the first of these, GOD'S APPROPRIATING AND CHALLENGING VENGEANCE UNTO HIMSELF. Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompence, saith the Lord.

Which passage the Apostle cites out of Deut. xxxii. 35, 36. To me belong eth vengeance, and recompence. And, the Lord shall judge his people. It is his great and royal prerogative, that he doth sometimes make use of in inflicting judgments upon the wicked, in this world; but, most especially, in the world to come: and, to this future vengeance, the words ought particularly to be applied.

From this consideration, That Vengeance in a peculiar manner belongs unto the Great God, we may observe,


It is therefore here, likewise, called a falling into the hands of the Living God, which denotes his immediate efficiency in their


It is true, God doth use several instruments of torture in hell. There are the worm, that never dies; and the fire, that never goes out which I suppose to be not only a metaphorical, but possibly a material fire; elevated to such a degree of subtlety, as that it shall, at once, torture the soul and not consume the body. And this fire the devils, who are their executioners, will be still very officiously raking about them; using all their malicious art to increase their eternal misery.

But, yet, these things are but small appendages, and only the slighter circumstances of their torments. The most exact and intolerable part of their torture, they shall feel inflicted upon them from another fire; an intelligent, everlasting, and therefore an unquenchable fire: and that is God himself; for so he is said to be, Heb. xii. 29. Our God is a consuming fire.

And, though we ordinarily speak only of Heli Fire; yet not only Hell, but Heaven itself is full of this fire.

Consult that place Isa. xxxii. 14. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Would not one think, at the very first sound of the words, that the Prophet speaks only of such as should be damned; of such as should be cast into hell, to remain there in everlasting fire and burnings. and demands of them, who among them could endure this? No: but it appears plainly, that this fire and

burning is in heaven itself; and the Prophet, by putting this question, Who shall dwell with the devouring fire, and everlasting burnings? asks who shall be saved, and not who shall be destroyed. And, therefore, in the 15th verse, he tells us, that he shall do it, who walketh uprightly, and speaketh uprightly; that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing of evil. Such an one shall dwell with the devouring fire: that is, he shall for ever dwell and remain with God in heaven.

So that we see God is a fire, both to the wicked, and to the godly. To the wicked he is a penetrating and torturing fire; and they are combustible matter for the wrath and vengeance of God to prey upon: but to the godly, he is a purifying and cherishing fire only. And, as lightning doth not only cleanse and refine the air, but rend trees and rocks in pieces, dissolve metals, and break through whatsoever opposeth it in its passage: so this Great and Almighty Fire, only refresheth and comforteth the godly; whereas it breaks and tears the wicked in pieces, and melts them down like wax before the scorching heat of it.

And, though I deny not but there may be somewhat like that which we commonly apprehend when we speak of hell, some unquenchable flames prepared by the wisdom and power of God for the eternal torment of those wretches that shall be cast therein; yet, withal, I think that their most exquisite torments shall be from that Fire that is God himself.

For, if we observe it, it is said to be everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels': Mat. xxv. 41. Now the devils are spiritual substances, and flames of fire themselves: He maketh his angels spirits; and his ministers, that is his ministering spirits, whether good or evil, whether the ministers of his wrath and vengeance or the ministers of his mercy, he maketh them flames of fire: Ps. civ. 4. They are such piercing and subtle flames, that lightning itself is but gross and dull compared to them.


Yet here is a Fire, that shall even torture Fire itself; a Fire, that shall burn those Flames of Fire and that is God; who, being a spirit and the God of Spirits, can easily pierce and insinuate into the very centre of their beings.

So that the damned in hell shall for ever find themselves burnt up with a double fire: a material fire, suited and adapted to 'impress pain and torment upon the body, yet without wasting and

consuming it; and an invisible, intellectual fire, that shall prey upon the soul, and fill it with unspeakable anguish and horror, and this is no other than God himself.

And, in this, there is a true parallel between heaven and hell. For, as in heaven, though there are many created excellencies and glories, which contribute to the beatitude of the saints; yet their most substantial happiness is derived from their immediate fruition of God: so, likewise, in hell, though there be many created, and, if I may so call them, many invented tortures ; yet the highest and most intolerable misery of the damned, is from the immediate infliction and infusion of the divine wrath into them, which no creature doth or can convey to them in such a manner and measure as they there feel it, but God himself pours the full vials of it into their souls. And, therefore, as the saints are called vessels of mercy; so the wicked are called vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction: Rom. ix. 22: vessels, into which God will pour of his vengeance, and which he will fill brimful with his wrath and fury, for ever.

The Apostle, 2 Thess. i. 9. speaking of wicked men, tells us, that they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. Where we must not think that this phrase, from the presence of the Lord, denotes only that part of their punishment, which we call pana Damni, or "the punishment of Loss ;" but rather that it denotes the efficient cause of their pæna Sensús, or "the punishment of Sense:" not that their punishment shall only be, to be for ever banished from his presence; but that this presence shall be active in inflicting punishments upon them. And we may well read it thus: They shall be punished with everlasting destruction, by the presence of the Lord, and by the glory of his power: for, as God's glorious power is effective of their destruction; so also is his presence, the dread presence of that consuming and tormenting fire.

And, thus much, briefly, for the First thing observable in the Text; namely, God's Appropriating Vengeance unto himself: Vengeance belongeth unto me, and it is a falling into the hands of the Living God.

II. I come now to the Second thing observable in the words: and that is the DREADFULNESS OF THIS VENGEANCE,

inferred from the consideration of the Author and Inflicter of it: for, because it is Divine Vengeance, and a falling into the Hands of the Living God, therefore it must needs be very terrible.

And, here, I shall,


1. Consider, that all other Vengeance is as nothing, in comparison of that, which God takes on a damned soul.

You may possibly have heard of strange and horrid revenges, that some cruel men have carved out unto themselves; putting those, that have offended them, to such tortures, as were altogether unfit for men either to inflict or suffer. All histories abound with such barbarities. I am loth to offend your ears so much as to recount them. Let us only take an estimate, by the dreadful revenge, that David took on the Ammonites : 2 Samuel xii. 31. where it is said, He put them under saws, and under harrows of iron.....and made them pass through the brickkiln: and all this severity, if not to say cruelty, was to revenge the insolent affront done to his ambassadors. It is, doubtless, no small torture to be burnt alive; for fire is a searching thing, and eats deep into the senses: but, yet, this kind of death was a quick and merciful dispatch, in comparison of the others. Think what it is to be stretched along; and to have the sharp spikes of a harrow tare up your flesh, and draw out your bowels and bones after them: or, what it is to be sawn asunder in the midst; and to have those small teeth eat their way slowly through you, while they jar against your bones, and pull out your nerves and sinews thread by thread. How many deaths, think you, were these poor miserable creatures compelled to suffer, before they were permitted to die!

Yet, alas! these, and all the witty tortures that ever were invented by the greatest masters of cruelty, are nothing, in com parison of the vengeance that God will take upon sinners in hell. And, therefore, he says, Vengeance is mine, I will recompense: as if he should say, "Alas! all, that you can do one to another, signifies nothing: it is not to be called, nor accounted Vengeance: that is too great a name for such poor effects."

It is a prerogative, that God challengeth to himself, to be the Avenger and whatever creatures meddle with, if they have not a commission from him, it is their sin: and therefore private


« AnteriorContinuar »