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persons whom he hath not invested with any such authority, ought not to take upon them to avenge their own cause; or, if they have a commission, yet all their execution of Vengeance is but feeble and weak.

We find in Ecclesiastical History, that the holy martyrs have often mocked at all the cruel tortures of their enraged persecutors. And God hath either taken from them all sense of pain; or else, given them such strong consolations, that they have triumphed and exulted in all the extremity of them. How have they hugged the stake, at which they were to be burnt! courted the beasts, that were to devour them! and been stretched upon the rack, with as much content, as formerly they have stretched themselves upon their beds; and not so much suffered, as enjoyed their deaths! God hath so mercifully taken off the edge and keenness of their torments, to shew that vengeance is his right and due; and that they are but contemptible things, that one man can inflict upon another, scarce worthy to be called Vengeance.

And, besides, let it be never so sharp and cutting, yet it cannot be long durable. The more intolerable any torments are, the sooner do they work our escape from them. And, though spite and malice may wish the perpetuity of our pain; yet it is not possible for mortal men to prosecute an immortal revenge : the death, either of them or of ourselves, will put a period to our sufferings. And what a small matter is it, to undergo pain for a few days only! This is not worthy to be called Vengeance; nor is it like that, which the Great God will inflict: which is both insupportable and eternal.

And, therefore,

2. The Apostle calls it a falling into the hands of the Living God. And this denotes to us the Perpetuity and Eternity of this Vengeance.

God for ever lives, to inflict it; and sinners shall for ever live, to suffer it for they fall into this hands. God hath, as it were, leased out a life to every wicked man: he hath his term of years set him, wherein he lives to himself; enjoying his lusts, and the pleasures and profits of this present world; and, all this while, Vengeance intermeddles but little with him. But, when his life is expired and his years run out, he then falls into the hands of the great Lord of all, and becomes the possession of his Venand Justice for ever.


And, then, he is the Living God; and such wicked wretches

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must for ever live, to endure the most dreadful execution of his power and wrath. Were there any term or period set to their torments, should they when they have endured them thousands of thousands of years afterwards be annihilated, the expectation of this release, at the last, would give them some support: yea, it would be some solace to them in their sufferings, to think that, at last, they should be freed from them. But this is the accent of their misery, and that which makes them altogether desperate, that it is for ever: for ever, they must lie and wallow in those flames, that shall never be quenched; and shall always be bit and stung with that worm, that shall never die. They are fallen into the hands of the Living God, who will never let them go as long as he lives, that is, never to all eternity. He is a consuming fire, but yet spends not any part of his fuel: he consumes, without diminishing them; and destroys, but yet still perpetuates their being. "A wise and intelligent fire," as Minutius calls him, "that devours" the damned, but yet still "repairs" them; and, by "tormenting," still "nourishes" them for future torments: Sapiens ille ignis, urit et reficit, carpit et nutrit. And, when they have lain burning in this fire all the ages that arithmetic can sum up, millions after thousands, and thousands of millions; yet, still, it is but the beginning of their sorrows.

Oh, think with yourselves, how long and tedious a little time seems to you, when you are in pain; you complain then, that time hath leaden feet; and wish the days and hours would roll away faster with you: and you never find them so slow paced, as when they pass over a sick bed. Oh, then, what will it be, when you shall lie sweltering under the dread wrath and vengeance of the Living God? The intolerableness of your pain and torment will make every day seem an age, and every year as long as eternity; and yet you must lie there an eternity of those long years.

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Methinks this consideration of Eternal Torments should astonish the heart, and sink the spirits of every wicked wretch : for, though they were not to be so excessively sharp as they are; yet the Eternity of them is that, which should make them altogether intolerable. There is scarce any pain so small, but it would make us desperate, were we assured it would never wear off, that we should never obtain any ease or freedom from it: whatever pain we suffer, our usual encouragement unto patience is, that shortly it will be over: but, in hell, there is no périod VOL. II.


fixed to the torments: they are all eternal; and, therefore, whatsoever they are for the degree and measure of them, yet are they utterly intolerable, at least for their duration and continuance. Couldst thou shove away millions of years with a wish, yet all this would avail nothing: for there are as many years in eternity as there are moments, and as many millions of years as there are years; that is, it is an infinite and boundless duration and, when thou hast struck thy thoughts as deep into it as thou canst; yet, still, thou art but at the top of the heap, and it is still a whole eternity to the bottom.

3. Consider, also, that the Wrath and Vengeance of God is most dreadful, not only from the eternal continuance and duration thereof, but also from the excessive Anguish and Smart of those Torments that he inflicts.

Nothing, that we have ever felt or can feel in this present life, can come into any comparison with them: and therefore the Text calls it, a falling into the hands of God. Here, on earth, God's hand doth sometimes fall upon us; and it falls very heavy too, and lays upon us sore and weighty burdens: but these are nothing considerable, to our falling into the hands of God. There is as much difference, between his wrath and displeasure falling upon us, and our falling upon it, as there is, between our having a few drops of a shower falling upon us, and our falling into a river, or into the sea, and being overwhelmed with the great waters thereof: and, yet, how dreadful is it, when God's hand only falls upon us! It was a sad complaint of the Psalmist, Ps. xxxii. 4. that God's hand lay heavy upon him: and, Ps. xxxviii. 2. that God's hand pressed him sore.

Grievous burdens and sore pressures may be laid upon us by this hand of God; and that, both as to outward afflictions, and inward troubles.

(1) As to Outward Afflictions, how dreadfully doth God stretch out his hand against some! making wide and terrible breaches upon them: some, in their estates; some, in their relations; and some, in their bodily health and strength. Have you never been about the sick beds of those, that have roared out through the extremity of their pains; when every limb hath been upon the rack, and God hath filled them with a complica tion of loathsome, tormenting, and incurable diseases? And, yet, all this is but a falling of God's hand upon them.

(2) As to Inward Troubles, we see how God cramps some men's consciences, breathes fire and flames into their very souls,

and makes deep wounds in their spirits; forcing them, through the extremity of their anguish, to cry out, they are damned, they are damned. Yea, some have even wished that they were in hell: supposing those everlasting torments would not be more unsufferable, than what they here felt.


And, indeed, these inward troubles are far more grievous than any outward can be. We hear Hemau crying out, that, because of these terrors of the Lord, he was ready to die from his youth up and, whilst he suffered this wrath of God, he was even distracted with it: Ps. 1xxxviii. 15. And Job, whose patience is celebrated for bearing all his outward afflictions, his loss of estate, of his children, of his health, with a heroic constancy, Ye have heard, says St. James, of the patience of Job) yet, when God comes to touch his spirit with his wrath, then we hear of his impatience: he curseth the day of his birth; and wisheth that God would destroy him, that he would let loose his hand and cut him off: Job vi. 9: and wherefore are these passionate requests? why he tells us, v. iv. The arrows of the Al mighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit : the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me: and, therefore, though he could patiently bear all that the rage and spite of the Devil could do against him, when he touched his wealth, when he touched his children, yea when he touched his body; yet his patience could no longer hold out, when God came to touch his soul and conscience.

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(3) And, yet, the greatest terrors of conscience, whether in the children of God to their reformation, or in the wicked to their desperation, are still but light and small touches of his hand, in comparison with what shall be expressed hereafter on the damned in Hell. For,

[1] To the godly, all these afflictions are mixed with love and mercy.

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They are brought upon them, not as plagues; but as medica ments, to do them good. But, in hell, all is wrath, all is fury; pure wrath and judgment, without mercy. And, certainly, if those sufferings, which are inflicted in love and allayed with mercy, are yet so very dreadful to the people of God, how dreadful will the wrath of God be in hell, where it shall be pure and unmixed, and nothing put into that cup which the damned are there to drink of, but the rankest venom that can be squeezed out of all the curses that ever God hath denounced! And, then,

[2] To the wicked, all the troubles and terrors, which they here endure, are nothing, in comparison with what they must eternally suffer in Hell.

They are now only sprinkled with a few drops of God's wrath; but, in hell, all his waves shall go over them for ever. Here, they do but' sip a little of that cup, and taste a little of the froth of it; and, should they drink deeper, earth could not hold them, but they would grow drunk, and reel and stagger into hell: but, there, they must for ever drink the very dregs of that cup of trembling and astonishment. And thou, who now roarest and strugglest like a wild bull in a net, when God's hand is only upon thee, what wilt thou do, when thou shalt eternally fall into his mighty hands? Thou now eriest out of the intolerableness of thy present pain; but, alas! hadst thou but felt one gripe of the torments of the damned in hell, thou wouldst choose to live for ever here on earth in the most exquisite torture that could be devised, choose to bear the sharpest paroxysms of the stone or gout, to be stretched upon the rack, to lie broke upon the wheel, to have thy flesh plucked off by fiery pincers; thou wouldst choose to suffer all these to all eternity; yea, and choose them too as recreations and divertisements, rather than return again to that place of torment, where, not only the eternity, but the smart and anguish of them, is infinite and unconceivable. And, as one day in the joys of heaven is better than a thousand days, nay than a thousand years, in all the impure and low delights of earth: so, one day in the torments of hell, is far worse than a thousand in the sharpest miseries we can possibly endure in this life. Here, our pains usually are but partial: God aims and shoots with his arrow but at some one part of us: if he wound our spirits; yet this invisible shaft, like lightning, passeth through, without making a breach in our bodies, or in our estates; we have still our health and our plenty left us: or, if he strike the body, usually it is but in one, or at most but in some few places, and we enjoy ease in the rest: But, in hell, God doth, as it were, wrap the whole man up in searcloth, and set it on fire round about him, so that he is tormented in every part; neither soul nor body escaping, nor any power or faculty of the one, nor any part or member of the other. When we fall into the hands of God, we are plunged into an ocean of wrath, and are covered all over with his fury and indignation: the Understanding, Will, Conscience, Affections, are all as brimfull of torments as they can hold: for what

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