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shall wish that you might but be turned into nothing, but shall have no hope of it; when you shall wish that you might be turned into a toad or a serpent, but shall have no hope of it; when you would rejoice, if you might but have any relief, after you shall have endured these torments millions of ages, but shall have no hope of it ; when after you shall have worn out the age of the sun, moon, and stars, in your dolorous groans and lamentations, without rest day or night, or one minute's ease, yet you shall have no hope of ever being delivered ; when after you shall have worn out a thousand more - such ages, yet you shall have no hope, but shall know that you are not one whit nearer to the end of your torments ; but that still there are the same groans, the same shrieks, the same doleful cries, incessantly to be made by you, and that the smoke of your torment shall still ascend up for ever and ever; and that your souls, which shall have been agitated with the wrath of God all this while, yet will still exist to bear more wrath ; your bodies, which shall have been burning and roasting all this while in these glowing flames, yet shall not have been consumed, but will remain to roast through an eternity yet, which will not have been at all shortened by what shall have been past. You may by considering make yourselves more sensible than you ordinarily are ; but it is a little you can conceive of what it is to have no hope in such torments. How sinking would it be to you, to endure such pain as you have felt in this world, without any hopes, and to know that you never should be delivered from it, nor have one minute’s rest You can now scarcely conceive how doleful that would be. How much more to endure the vast weight of the wrath of God without hope . The more the damned in hell think of the eternity ef their torments, the more amazing will it appear to them ; and alas ! They are not able to avoid thinking of it, they will not be able to keep it out of their minds. Their tortures will not divert them from it, but will fix their attention to it. ... O how dreadful will eternity appear to them after they shall have been thinking on it
for ages together, and shall have had so long an experience of their torments .....The damned in hell will have two infinites perpetually to amaze them, and swallow them up: One is an infinite God, whose wrath they will bear, and whom they will behold their perfect and irreconcilable enemy. The other is the infinite duration of their torment. If it were possible for the damned in hell to have a comprehensive knowledge of eternity, their sorrow and grief would be infinite in degree. The comprehensive view of so much sorrow which they must endure, would cause infinite grief for the present. Though they will not have a comprehensive knowledge of it, yet they will doubtless have a vastly more lively and strong apprehension of it than we can have in this world. Their torments will give them an impression bfit. A man in his present state, without any enlargement of his capacity, would have a vastly more lively impression of eternity than he has, if he were only under some pretty sharp pain in some member of his body, and were at the same time assured, that he must endure that pain for ever. His pain would give him a greater sense of eternity than other men have. How much more will those excruciating torments, which the damned will suffer, have this effect : Beside, their capacity will probably be enlarged, their understandings will be quicker and stronger in a future state; and God can give them as great a sense and as strong an impression of eternity, as he pleases, to increase their grief and torment, O be intreated ye that are in a Christless state, and are going on in a way to hell, that are daily exposed to damnation, to consider these things. If you do not, it will surely be but a little while before you will experience them, and then you will know how dreadful it is to despair in hell; and it may be before this year, or this month, or this week, is at an end; before another Sabbath; or ever you shall have opportunity to hear another sermon. (3.) That you may effectually escape these dreadful and eternal torments, be intreated to flee to, and embrace him who
bame into the world for the very end of saving sinners from these torments, who has paid the whole debt due to the divine law and exhausted eternal in temporal sufferings. What great encouragement is it to those of you who are sensible that you are exposed to eternal punishment, that there is a Saviour provided, who is able and who freely offers to save you from that punishment, and that in a way which is perfectly consistent with the glory of God, yea which is more to the glory of God than it would be if you should suffer the eternal punishment of hell. For if you should suffer that punishment you would never pay the whole of the debt. Those who are sent to hell never will have paid the whole of the debt which they owe to God, nor indeed a part which bears any proportion to the whole. They never will have paid a part which bears so great a proportion to the whole, as one mite to ten thousand talents. Justice therefore hever can be actually satisfied in your damnation; but it is actually satisfied in Christ. Therefore he is accepted of the Father, and therefore all who believe are accepted and justified in him. Therefore believe in him, come to him, commit yeur souls to him to be saved by him. In him you shall be safe from the eternal torments of hell. Nor is that all : But through him you shall inherit inconceivable blessedness and glory, which will be of equal duration with the torments of hell. For as at the last day, the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, so shall the righteous, or those who trust in Christ, go into life eternal.
AND ELIJAH cAME UNTo ALL THE PEoPLE, AND SArd, How Long HALT YE BETween two opinions IF THE LORD PE GOD, Follow HIM ; BUT IF BAAL, THEN vollow HIM, AND THE PEOPLE ANSWERED HIM NOT A WORD.
IT is the manner of God, before he bestows any signal or remarkable mercy on a people, first to prepare them for it; and before he removes any awful judgments which he hath brought upon them for their sins, first to cause them to forsake those sins which procured those judgments. We have an instance of this in the chapter wherein is the text. It was a time of sore famine in Israel. There had been * neither rain nor dew for the space of three years and six months. This famine was brought upon the land for their idolatry. But God was now about to remove this judgment; and therefore, to prepare them for it, sent Elijah to convince them of the folly of idolatry, and to bring them to repentance of it.....In order to this, Elijah, by the command of the Lord, goes and shows himself to Ahab, and directs him to send and gather all Israel to him at Mount Carmel, and all the prophets of Baal, four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the
o Dated June, 1734.
groves that eat at Jezebel's table, four hundred, that they might determine the matter and bring the controversy to an issue, whether Jehovah or Baal were God.....To this end, Elijah proposes, that each should take a bullock, that he should take one, and the prophets of Baal another, that each should cut his bullock in pieces, lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and that the God who should answer by fire should be concluded to be God. The text contains an account of what Elijah said to all the people at their first meeting, and of their silence : “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions 2 If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” To which the people, it seems, made no reply. In these words, we may observe, 1. How Elijah expostulates with the people about their halting so long between two opinions; in which expostulation may be observed, (1.) What the two opinions were, between which they halted, viz. Whether the Lord were God, or whether Baal were God. The case in Israel seems to have been this; there were some who were altogether for Baal and wholly rejected the true God ; of which number, to be sure, were Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. And there were some among them who were altogether for the God of Israel, and wholly rejected Baal; as God told Elijah, that “he had yet left in Israel seven thousand that had not bowed the knee to Baal, and whose mouths had not kissed him,” 1 Kings xix. 18. But the rest of the people halted between two opinions. They saw that some were for one, and some for the other, and they did not know which to choose ; and, as is commonly the case when difference of opinion prevails, there were many who had no religion at all; they were not settled in anything; the different opinions prevalent in Israel distracted and confounded them.....Many who professed to believe in the true God, were yet very cold and indifferent, and many were wavering and unsettled. They saw that the king and queen were for Baal; and Baal's party was the prevailing party; but