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No sooner is the foul of a wicked man stepped out of his own door at death, but the serjeants of hell are immediately upon it, serving the dreadful summons on the law-condemned wretch. This arrest terrifies it more than the hand-writing upon the plaister of the wall did him, Dan. v. 5. How are all a man's apprehensions changed in a moment i Out of what a deep sleep are most, and out of what a pleasant dream of heaven are some awaked and startled at death, by the dreadful arrest and summons of God to condemnation.
How quickly would all a sinner's mirth be damped, and turned into howlings in this world, if conscience were but throughly awakened! It is but for God to change our apprehensions now, and it would be done in a moment: but the eyes of most mens souls are not opened till death hath shut their bodily eyes; and then bow iudden, and how fad a change is made in one day!
O think what it is to pass from all the pleasures and delights of th'19 world into the torments and miseries of that world; from a pleasant habitation, into an insernal prison; from the depth of security, to the extremity of desperation; from the arms and bosoms of dearest friends and relations, to the society of damned spirits! Lord, what a change is here; had a gracious change been made upon their hearts by grace, no such doleful change could have been made upon their state by death: little do their surviving friends think what they seel, or what is their estate in the other world, whilst they are honouring their bodies with splendid and pompous funerals. None on earth have so much reason to sear death, to make much of lise, and use all means to continue it, as those who will, and must, be so great losers by the exchange. i .
Inser. 13. See here the certainty, and inevitabkness of the Judgment of the great day
This prison, which is continually filling with the spirits of wicked men, is an undeniable evidence of it: for why is hell called a prison, and why are the spirits of men confined and chained there, but with respect to the judgment of the great day? As there is a neceflary connection betwixt fin aud punishment, so betwixt punishing and trying the offender; there are millions of souls in custody, a world of spirits in prison; these must be brought forrh to their trial, for God will lay upon no man more than is right; the legality of (Jsefr mittimus to hell, will be evidenced in their sokmu day of t$t. God hath therefore '' appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteous11 pels, by that man whom he hath ordained," Acts xvii. 31.
Here sinners run in arrears, and contract vast debts; in hell they are seized and committed, at judgment tried and call for the same. This will be a dreadful day, those that have spent so prodigally upon the patience of God, must now come to a severe account for all; they have past their particular judgment immediately after death, Eccl. xii. 7. Heb. ix. 27. By this they know how they (hall speed in the general judgment, and how it shall be with them for ever, but tho' this private judgment secures their damnation sufficiently, yet it clears not the justice of God before angels and men sufficiently, and therefore they must appear once more before his bar, 2 Cor. v. ic. In the searful ex~pectation of this day, those trembling spirits now lie in prison, and that searful expectation is a principal part of their present misery and torment. You that refuse to come to the throne of 'grace, see if you can refuse to make your appearance at the bar of justice; you that braved and brow-beat your ministers that warned you of it, see if you can out-brave your judge too as you did them. Nothing more sure or awful than such a day as this.
Infer. 14. Hovi much are ministers, parents, and all to •whom the charge of fouls is committed, bound to do all that in them lies, to prevent their everlajiing misery in the world to come!
The great apostle of the Gentiles found the consideration of the terror of the Lord, as a spur urging, and enforcing him to a ministerial faithfulness and diligence; 2 Cor. v. 11. "Know"ing therefore the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men." And the fame he presieth upon Timothy, 2 Tim. iv. 1,2. "I charge "thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who "shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his "kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season and out of "season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-sufsering and "doctrine." Oh that those to whom so great a trust as the fouls of mentis committed, would labour to acquit themselves with all faithfulness therein, as Paul did, warning every one night and day with tears, that if we cannot prevent their ruin, which is molt desirable; yet at least we may be able to take God to witness, as he did, that we are pure from the blood of all men.
Oh! consider, my brethren, if your faithful plainness, and unwearied diligence to save men's fouls produce no other fruit but the hatred of you now; yet it is much eafier for you to bear that, than that they and you too should bear the wrath of God for ever.
We have all of us personal guilt enough upon us; let us not add other men's guilt to our account: k to be guilty of the blood of the meanest man upon earth, is a fin which will cry in your consciences; but to be guilty of the blood of souls, Lord, who can bear it I Christ thought them worth his heart blood, and arc they not worth the expence of our breath r Did he sweat blood to lave them, and will not we move our lips to save them? It is certainly a fore judgment to the fouls of men, when such ministers are set over them as never understood the value of their peoples fouls, or were never heartily concerned about the salvation of their own souls.
Matth. xvi. 26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lofe his own foul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his foul?
DIFFICULT duties need to be enforced with powerful.arguments. In the 24th verse of this chapter, our Lord presseth upon his disciples the deepest and hardest duties of selfdenial, acquaints them upon what terms they must be admitted into his service: "If any man will come after me, let him. "deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
This hard and difficult duty he enforceth upon them by a deuble argument, viz. From,
1. The vanity of all sinful shifts from it, ver. 2;.
2. The value of their fouls, which is imported in it, ver. 26. They may fhist off their duty to the loss of their souls,'or
save their souls by the loss of such trifles. If they esteem their fouls above the world, and can be content to put all other things to the hazard for their salvation, making account to fave nothing but them by Christianity; then they come up to Christ's terms, and may warrantably and boldly call him their Lord and Master; and to sweeten this choice to them, he doth, in my text, balance the foul and all the world, weighing them one against the other, and shews them the infinite odds and disproportion betwixt them : " What is a man profited, if he fhall gain "the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what fhall a man "give in exchange for his foul?"
What is a man profited There is a plain meiosis in the phrase; and the meaning is, how inestimably and irreparably is a man damnified! what a soul-ruining bargain would a man make! ,
Is he should gain the whole world.] There h a plain hyperbole in thfs phrase; for it never was, nor eTer will be the Jot •f any man to be the sole owner and possessor of the whole world *. But suppose all the power, pleasure, wealth, and honour of the whole world were bid and offered in exchange for a man's foul; what a dear purchase would it be at such a rate I "What w^re this, says one f, but to win Venice, and thea be "hanged at the gate of it f" As that man acts like a mad mao, that goes about to purchase a treasure of gold with the lose of his lise; for lise being lost, what is all the gold in the world to him I he can have no enjoyment of it, or comfort in it: fe here, what is all the world, or as many worlds as there are creatures in it, when the foul is soft, if he gain this? • And lofe his own foul.'} The comparison lies here betwixt one single soul and the whole world. The whole world is no price for the poorest, meanest, and most despised sonl that lives in it.
By lofing the soul, we are not to understand the destruction of its being, but of its happiness and comfort, the cutting it off from God, and all the hopes of his favour and enjoyment for ever. This is the loss here intended, a loss never 10 be repaired. The whole world can be no, recompense for the loss to the foul, if it be but the loss of its purity or peace for a time; much less can it recompence the loss of the soul, in the loss of all its happiness for ever. When a man's chief happineft is finally lost, then is his soul lost: for what benefit can it be, nay, how great a misery must it be, to have a being perpetuated in torments for ever t % This is the fine or tnulcl which is fet upon fin, as some render the word. What (hall a man gain by such pleasures, for which God will mufcl, ox sine him at the rate or price of his own soul? That is, of all the happiness, joy, and comfort of it to all eternity.
Or what shall <* man give in exchange for hisfiul? f The question aggravates the sense, and amplifies the loss and damage of the man that sells his soul for the whole world There is no recompense in all the world for the haXard or danger of the
* By this hypothetical hyperbole is denoted the great atrociousness of losing eternal salvation. G/afflut.
f Non magis juvabitur. quam qui acquirit Venetias, iffevero sufyendatur ai port am. Paræus in Ioc.
\ Anima vero sua twilfletur, i. e. If one is punished with tie loss of his own foul. Bez, Maldon.
|| Interrogate exaggeram.
few! oee hour; not- would a man that understands what a loul •ad eternity are, put it into danger for ten thousand worlds, much less tor one penny, yea, for nothing, as many do: but to barter or exchange it for the world, to take any thing to Heu of it; this is the height of madnels. "The way us buying "in former tiroes was not by money, but by the exchange of one *' commodity for another;" and to this custom * Brugensis thinks this phrase is allusivs. Now what commodity is found in ail the world; or who that is not blinded hy the god of this world, can think that the whole world itself, if all the rock's ia it were rocks of diamonds, and the seas and rivers were liquid gpld, is a commodity of equivalent worth to his own foul r Hence two notes arise naturally. . Qoct. I. That one fwl if */" nitre value than the inhale workh
Post. 2. Hqvi streams and invakn-ble soever the joules man is, . it way b hji W caji aviayfor ever. I begin with the firth
Poet. 1. That anefiul is cf more value than the "whole Vigr/J.
1 need poe spend much time in the proof of it, when you have considered, that he who bought them, hath here weighed and valued them; and that the point before us is the reinlt and con? elusion of op® that hath the best .reason to know the true worth of them. ^That which I have to do is to gather out of the scriptures the particulars; which, put together, make up the full demonstration of the point. And,
1. The invaluable worth of fouls appears from the manger of their creation. They were created immediately by God, as hath been proved, and that not without the deliberation of the whole Trinity; Gen. i, %6. " Let us make mao" for the production of other creatures, it was enough to give out the word of hi* cpmmaod. "Let (bore be light, let the earth and the waters "bring forth;" but when he comes to man, then you haye no WMTt bt there be, but he puts his own hand immediately to it, as to the master-piece of the whole creation: yea, a council is called about it; Ut us, implying the just consultation and deliberation of all the persons ip the Godhead about k, that our hearts might be railed to the expectation of some extraordinary work to follow; great counsels and wise debates being both the forerunners and foundations of great actions and events to ensue
* AtrxXXityyxc vscat id ,qu» data, redimitur illiquid; juxta pviscoruw ..camwerica, quae n?n moneta, fed reru.ru fir mutations conftahant. Brujens.
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