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towards each other. O blessed day, when there will be no jars or wranglings, but Luther and Calvin will sweetly agree, when Melancthon and Zuinglius will eagerly unite to celebrate the praises of our common Lord. O delightful and blessed day!
REPREHENSION AND CONVICTION OF CARELESS
AND GRACIOUS SOULS.
THE subject tends to produce conviction in such as are regardless (i religion, and in pious persons.
First, Among those who are unconverted and regardless of religion.
Must there be a gathering together of saints, and only saints, what then will become of the wicked ? they are not to be gathered with saints, they cared not for their company here, and they shail not have their society in the other world.
1. Wicked men shall be banished from among the saints, this is no small punishment. “He shall set the sheep on the right hand, and the goats on the left,” Matt. xxv. 32, 33; “He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” In this world they were mingled together, in the same kingdom, city, house, assembly, and none was able to distinguish them; mere professors of religion were taken to be as devout as the best, and they took themselves to be as good as any; but now they shall be detected, and the rottenness of their hearts shall be laid open before themselves, angels, and men, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh,” so says the
evangelical prophet, Isa. Ixvi. 24. This will be none of the least of wicked men's punishment to see those whom they had scorned, slighted, and censured, as not worthy of human society, to ascend, and sit down with “ Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; and the children of the kingdom,” those churchmembers “to be cast out into outer darkness,” Matt. viii. 11, 12. O sad parting, never to meet again! How will the wicked wish they had lived in prisons, poverty, and wretched straits in this world, if only they might now go along with them into glory! 0 that we had spent our time in prayer, reading, meditation, conference, and works of mortification, as these holy souls did, then had we been happy, as they are; but now we see our loss; we thought your life madness, but now we are convinced of our folly, and the wisdom of
choice. 2. These poor graceless souls must be for ever banished from the eternal God, the fountain of all happiness. They bade God depart, “ depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways,” Job xxi. 14. If not in so many words, yet virtually by their works; and now God will say, “ Depart from me, ye cursed,” Matt. xxv, 41,- the most dreadful word in the bible, the most overwhelming sentence that can come out of the mouth of God, or can be heard by the ears of men. The enjoyment of God is the saints' heaven, banishment from God is the wicked's hell; yea, the very hell of hells, the only venom, sting, and poison of that infernal lake. They that are not gathered to God, are separated from God; and once banished, and for ever banished; they cannot be removed from his avenging justice, but from his comforting love; “ Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and
from the glory of his power,” 2 Thess. i. 9. The pain of loss is greater than the pain of sense. O dreadful case! Now poor sinners will be banished from the beatific presence, and shall never more see God or Christ to their comfort. wretched state! sinners shall then know what the loss of God meaneth. They gathered themselves together under ordinances, but desired not God's presence in ordinances; they know not what communion with God means, but they shall know what separation from God means. Where love ended, wrath begins, fury comes in the room of mercy; “Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver,” Psal. 1. 22.
3. Wicked men shall be bound up together in bundles, and cast into the fire of hell; so saith the text, Matt. xiii. 30, “In the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, gather ye together, first, the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them.” And why in bundles? will this be any ease to them in torments? They are wont to say, here, Neighbours' fare is good fare ; but it will be otherwise there, the sight of each other will increase their torment, where they shall reflect upon their guilt together, how they tempted others, and were tempted by others to sin ; Thou wast one instrument to bring me into this place of torment. O that I had never known thee! Now merry companions will be torturing company; their sweet meat must have sour sauce. This, this is the dreadful consequence of their mad frolics. It is thought, that this was the reason why the rich man was loth that his five brethren should come to him in hell; not from love to them, for there is no such charity in the realms of woe, but selflove, lest their presence should aggravate his torments. Hence is the “gnashing of teeth” also mentioned, * for
* Luke xvi. 28. Matt. xiii. 50.
spleen and spite both against themselves, and against each other; as communion advanceth the saint's glory above, so the company of old sinners aggravates the misery of the wicked in hell.
4. It will greatly aggravate wicked men's torment to consider, that this was their own doing. “ Their destruction is of themselves;"** they can blame none but themselves though they had many incentives and temptations. Neither the devil nor wicked men could ever push them into hell against their will: God saith, “ He wills not the death of a sinner.” Jesus Christ expressed his earnest desire for their salvation by his death; the Spirit came with his kind suggestions and impulses ; pious ministers and christian friends prayed for them, and took pains with them to save them, so that our Lord himself saith, Matt. xxiii. 37, “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not?” There was God's gathering time of mercy, but that is past; now there is a gathering time of wrath, when the “ chaff must be burnt in unquenchable fire.” They might have been happy, but would not. “They observed lying vanities, and forsook their own mercies;" now there is no remedy. They chose the things “ wherein he delighted not,” and now “he will choose their delusions,” Isa. lxvi. 3, 4. Alas, poor sinners choose the devil's drudgery here, and God gives them up into his hands, to be tormented for ever; and as Christ will gather up his saints, whom he purchased, so the devil will gather up all his slaves, not one shall escape him; the wicked are gathered by death to their master, and to their proper place, as it is said of Judas, “ That he went to his own place;"I that is, hell : "for
• Hos. xiii. 9. + Matt. iii. 12. Jonah ii. 8. # Acts i. 25.
the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God,” Psal. ix. 17. O, what a vast assembly will that be! millions, millions of souls descend down into that place of torment! “ Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat,” Matt. vii. 13. O tremble, lest you be found among the greater number of the sons of men.
Remember, all mankind have their faces hell-wards, when they are born : “ The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies—There is none righteous, no not one; we are altogether become unprofitable,"* without a saving turn we are all marching hell-ward, and must be gathered together, and, like faggots, piled up in that infernal region, but especially such as have improved the stock of original corruption in a course of profane swearing, rioting, drunkenness, mocking of religion, ridiculing preciseness, condemning the righteous, and justifying the wicked. How can such as these expect to be gathered with the saints in the other world, whom they cannot endure in this ? Surely the pious and wicked go contrary ways, when they go off the stage of this world into an eternal state.
Secondly, As the state of wicked, graceless persons is sad and hopeless, if they continue such, so also professed Christians, yea, real saints are in some things faulty, and blame-worthy.
1. Shall there be a gathering together at last, then how unaccountable are those distances, animosities, and heart-burnings among Christians ? There is utterly a fault among us. How contrary is this to Christian love, so often recommended by Christ and his apostles? Yea, our Lord hath made it the cha
* Rom. iii. 10-12.