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for death, though you may want some circumstantial preparatives. And as to all that is wanting in your sanctiflealion or obedience now, it will be compleatcd in a moment upon your dissolution.
Object. 2. Others plead, the dejire they have to live, is in order to God's farther Jerviee by them in this -world. Oh, lay they, it -was David's happinefs to die, -when he had served bis generation according to the -will of God; Acts xiii. 36. Jf nit had done so too, vie should fay -with Simeon, "Now lettest "thou thy servant depart in peace."
Sol. (1.) God needs not your hands to carry on his service in the world: he can do it by other hands when you are gone. Many of greater gifts and graces than you, are daily laid in the grave, to teach you, God needs no man's help to carry on bis work.
(?.) If the service of God be so dear to you, there is higher and more excellent service for you in heaven, than anv you ever were, pr can be employed in here on earth. Oh! why do not you long to be amidst the company of angels and spirits made persect in the temple-service in heaven?
Obj. 3, 0 but my relations in the -world lie near my heart, vhat will become of them when J am gone?
Sol. (1.) It is pity they should lie nearer your heart than Jesus Christ: it they do, you have little realon to desire death indeed.
(2.) Who took care of you, when death snatched your dear relations from you, who possibly selt the same workings of heart that you now do? Did you not experience the truth of that word, Plat. xxvii. 10. "When sather and mother forsake me, then the "Lord takelh me pp?" And if you be in the covenant, God hath prevented this plea with his promise, Jer. xlix. 1 r. "Leave "thy satherless childien to me, I will keep them alive; and let *' their widows trust in me."
Obj.. 4. But J defire to live to see the felicity of lion befort I go hence. and the answer os the many prayers J have sown for it; I am loath to leave the people of God in so sad a condition.
Sol. The publicuess of thy spirit, and love toZion, is doubtless pkasing to God ., but it is better for you to be in heaven one day. than to. live over again all the days you have lived on earth in the best times that ever the church of God enjoyed in this world: the promises shall be accomplished, tho" you may not live to lee their accomplishment; die you in (he saith ot it, as Joseph did; Gen. 1. 24 i
^ut, afos! the matter doth not fl}ck her?: this is not the main hindrance. I will tell you where I think it lies: (1.) In the hesitancy and staggering of our faith about the certainty and reality of things invisible. (2.) In fome special guilt upon the conscience, which discourages us. (3.) In a negligent and careless course of lise, which is not ordinarily blessed with much evidence or comfort. (4 ) In the deep engagements of our hearts to earthly things: they could not be lo cold to Christ, if they were not over-heated with other things. Till these distempers be cured, no arguments can prosper that are ipent to this end. The Lord dissolve all those ties betwixt us and this world, which hinder our consent and willingness to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is far better. • '"*
And now we have had a glance and glimmering light, a faint' umbrage of the state of the separated souls of the just in heaven: it remains that I (hew you somewhat of the state and case of the damned souls in hell. A dreadful representation it is ; but it is necessary we hear of hell, that we may not seel it.
1 Pet. iii. 19. By -which also he -went and preached unto the spirits in prison.
TN the former discourse we have had a just view of heaven, and .*. of the spirits of just men made persect, the inhabitants of that blessed region of light and glory.
In this scripture we have the contrary glass, representing the unspeakable misery of those souls or spirits which are separated by death from their bodies for a time, and by sin from God for ever; arrested by the law, and secured in the prison of hell, unto the judgment of the great day.
A sermon of hell may keep some souls out of hell, and a sermon of heaven may be the means to help others to heaven: the desire of my heart is, that the conversations of all those who shall read these discourses of heaven and hell, might look more like a diligent flight from the one, and pursuit of the other.
The scope of the context is a persuasive to patience, upon a prospect of manifold tribulations coming upon the Christian churches, strongly enforced by Christ's example, who both in his own person, v. 18. and by his spirit in his servants, v. 19.' exercised wonderful patience and long-suffering as a pattern to his people.
This 19 verse gives us an account of his long-suffering toward! that disobedient and immorigerous generation of sinners, on whom he waited an hundred and twenty years in the ministry of Noah.
There are difficulties in the text. *Estius reckons on less than ten expositions of it, and fiiith, "It is a very difficult scripture in "the judgment of almost all interpreters;" but yet I taust fay, those difficulties are rather brought to it, than found in it. It is. a te^t which hath been racks and tortured by Popish expositors, to make it speak Christ's local dclcent inio hell, and to consess their doctrine of purgatory; things which it knew not.
But, if we will take its genuine fense, it only relates the sin and misery of those contumacious persons, on whom, the spirit of God waited so long in the ministry of Noah; giving na account ©f,
1. Their sin on earth.
2- Their punishment in hell. . .
1. Their sin on earth, which is both specified and aggravated, (1.) Specified; namely their disobedience. They were sometime? disobedient and unpersuadable; neither precepts nor examples could hring them to repentance. (2.), This their disobedience is aggravated by the expence of God's patience upon them for the toace of an hondred and twenty years, not only forbearing them so long, but striving with them, as Moses expresseth it; or waiting on them, as the apostle, here: but all to no purpose; they were obstinate, stubborn, and unpersuadable to the ver; last.
2. Behold, therefore, in the next; place, the dreadful, but most just, and equal punishment of these sinners in hell; they are called, sp.riti in prison, i. e. the souls now in bell f.
At that time when Petet wrote of them, they were not entire men, butjpirtit, in the proper fense; i. e. separated souls, bodiless, and lonely souls: whilst in the body, it i* properly a soul; but when separated, a spirit according to scripture-language, and the strict notion of such a being.
These spirits, or fouls, in the state of separation,,, are (aid to be in a prison, that is, in hell, as the word elsewhere notes, Rev. xx. 7. and Jude, ver. 6. Heaven and hell are the only receptacles of departed, or separated soul*.
Thus you have, in a sew words, the natural, and genuine sense of the place, and it is but wasting time to repeat, and refel the many false, and forced interpretations of this tejf t, which corrupt minds, and mercenary pens, have pu plexed, and darkened it
* Ps»l. xxxi. 6- Eech X«. 7. AlSs vii. $9,
t Leepr hie omniumpaene ir.tirpretvmjiidich dijBdllimus. EstiaJ, wiihal: That which'i lev«lat, is comprised in this plain propofition. 'Doct- Thdt the souls er "spirits of all men vlho die in a state of unbelies and disobedience, are immediately committedto the prison of hell, there to suffer the -wrath of God due to their sins. Hell is shadowed forth tons, in scripture, by divers metaphors j "for We cannot conceive spiritual things, unless they are so "cloathed and shadowed out unto us f." Augustine gives this "reason for the frequent use of metaphors and allegories, in scrip, ture. because they are so much proportioned toour'senses, with which our senses have contracted an intimacy and familiarity; and therefore God, to accomodate his truth to our capacities.-doth "as it were, this way embody it in earthly expressions, according "to that celebrated oblcrvation of the Cabb ilists, Lumen fupremum .nunquam ilefcendit sine indumenta; the pure, and supreme light never descends to us without a garment or covering. In the Old Testament, the place and state of damned souls, is set forth 'by metaphors taken from the most remarkable places, aud exem'plary acts of vengeance upon'sinners in this world; as the bverthrow of the giants by the flood, those pro- „ „ ... . dlgious sinners that fought against heaven, and . , . Xvere swept by the flood, into the place as tor- ^ ac'oJ&iants menrs. To this Solomon is conceived to allude, " ""'"J1, "in Prov. xxi. 1 (i. " The man that wanders out of the way of un • '" derstanding. shall remain in the congregation of the dead;" in the "Hebrew it is, he'shall remain with the "Rephaims, 'or giants. These giants were tne men that.oiore efpeciallyprovokedGod to bring the flood upon the world; they are also noted as the first inhabitants of hell, therefore from them the place of torment takes its name, and the damned are'said to remain in tha place of giants.
Sometimes hell iscafled Tophet, Isa, xxx. 33. Hell called ^ThisTopfiet was in the! valley of Hinnon, and was Tophet, and .'famous for divers things. There the children of -why. Israel caused their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, or sacrificed to the devil, dt owningi their horririble shrieks and ejaculations with the noise of drums.
In this valley also was the memorable flaughter of eighteen Tiundred thousand of the Assyrian camp, by an angel, in one night.
There, also, the Babylonians murdered the people of Jeruft
f Spiritualia capere nan pojsutnut, nisi a dumb rat a.
lem, at the taking of the city, Jer. vii, 31,32. So that Tophet was a mere shambles, the public chopping-block, on which the limbs of both young and old were quartered out, by thousands. It was silled with dead bodies, till there was no place for burial. By all which it appears, that no spot of ground in the world was so famous for the sires kindled in it to destroy men, for the doleful cries that ecchoed from it, or the innumerable mulff U \ah ,itudes that perished in it; for which reason it is , g made the emblem of hell. Sometimes it is called a
ojjtre. „ i^g Qf gre ourn;ng w-itn brimstone," Rev. xix.
20. denoting the most exquisite torment, by an intense and durable stame. . j . r Aqd in the text, it is called a prison, where the spi
P J '' rits of ungodly men are both detained and punished. This notion of a prison gives us a lively representation of the miserable state of damned souls, and that especially in the following particulars.
First, Prisoners are arrested, and seized by authority of law; it is the law which sends them thither, and keeps them there; the mittimus of a justice is but the instrument of the law, whereby they are deprived of liberty, and taken into custody. The law of God, which sinners have both violated and despised, at death takes hold of them, and arrests them. It is the law which claps up their spirits in prison, and in the name and authority of the great and terrible God, commits them to hell. All that are out of Christ, are under the curse and damning sentence of the law, which now comes to be executed on them, Gal. ill. 10.
Secondly, Prisoners are carried, or haled to prison, by force and constraint; natural force backs legal authority: the law is executed by rough and resolute bailiffs, who compel them to go, though never so much against their will; this also is the case of the wicked at death: Satan is God's bailiff, to hurry away the law-condemned souls to the insernal prison. The devil hath the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. as the executioner hath of the body of a condemned man.
Thirdly, Prisoners are chained and bolted in prison, to pre'vent their escape; so are damned spirits secured by the power of God, and chained by their own guilty and trembling consciences, in hell, unto the time of judgment, and the fulness of misery; not that they have no torment in the mean time: alas! were there no more but that searful expectation of wrath arid fiery indignation, spoken of by the apostle, Heb. x. 27. it were an inexpressible torment; but there is a farther degree of tor