Acacia John Bunyan - Online Library
A F E W
A G O O D
warning word to sinners,
both old A N D young,
to take into consideration betimes,
and to seek,
B Y- F A I T H- I N -J E S U S- C H R I S T,
to avoid, lest they come into the same Place of Torment.
a brief discourse touching the profitableness
of the Scriptures for our instruction in the way of righteousness,
according to the tendency of the said parable.
By That Poor and Contemptible Servant of J E S U S- C H R I S T,
J O H N.B U N Y A N.
L O N D O N,
Printed by Ralph Wood, for M. Wright,
at the King's Head in the Old Bailey, 1658.
John Bunyan wrote this two years before being placed in
Bedford Prison. This is the third book he wrote.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR
How awful is that cry of anguish which has reached us from beyond the tomb, evenfrom the infernal realms, and on which Bunyan, with his singular and rare ability,fixes our attention. It is the voice of one who had received his good things in thisfleeting life; who had fared sumptuously every day, without providing for eternity,and now cries for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue. Plunged into unutterable,inconceivable, and eternal torments, he pleads that the poor afflicted beggar, whohad lain at his gate, might be sent from the dead to warn his relatives, that theymight escape, and not aggravate his misery, by upbraiding him as a cause of theirdestruction, by having neglected to set them a pious example. He knows that thereis no hope for his own wretched soul, and expresses no wish that his family shouldpay for masses to ease his pangs. No, such tomfooleries are limited to this insaneworld. His poor request is one drop of water, and a warning messenger to his relatives.The answer is most decisive–there is a great, an eternal gulf fixed–none can passbetween heaven and hell; and as to your father's house, 'They have Moses and theprophets'; and now it may be added, They have Jesus and his apostles; if they hearnot them, 'neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.' No; ifIsaiah, with his mighty eloquence, again appeared among mortals, again would hiscry be heard, 'Who hath believed our report?' 'What! seek the living among the dead?To the law, and to the testimony, saith God.'
Reader, these are solemn realities. He who came from the unseen world–from the bosomof the Father–reveals them unto us. O! that we may not mistake that voice for thunder,which called upon a trembling world to 'HEAR HIM.'
The rich man personates all the thoughtless and uncoverted who die in their sins,his wealth can neither bribe death nor hell; he is stricken, and descends to miserywith the bitter, but unavailing regret of having neglected the great salvation. Hehad taken no personal, prayerful pains to search the sacred Scriptures for himself;he had disobeyed the gospel, lived in revelry, and carelessness of his soul; he hadploughed iniquity and sown wickedness, and reaps the same. 'By the blast of God heperishes, and is consumed by the breath of his nostrils.' 'They have sown the wind,and they shall reap the whirlwind.'
The opinion universally prevails, although the voice of infinite wisdom has declaredit false, that miracles, or a messenger from the invisible world could awake thedead in sin. The world's eyes are shut, and its ears are stopped from seeing andhearing that most illustrious celestial messenger of mercy– 'God manifest in theflesh'–who still speaks to us in his words. He revealed, and he alone could haverevealed, these solemn, these heart-stirring facts–He performed the most astonishingmiracles–His doctrines were truth–He required holiness of life to fit the soul forheaven; therefore He was despised, tortured, murdered. In the face of all this, thepoor wretch cries, 'send Lazarus.' What refined cruelty! He had borne the cross andreceived the crown. Uncrown him, and send him back to lie at my brother's gate, andif he dares to tell him the truth, that my soul was in hell, even while the splendidfuneral was carrying my body to the tomb, he will hurry him to death. Poor fool!are not thy kindred as hardened as thou wast? Send Lazarus from the dead! That, asBunyan justly says, would be to make a new Bible, to improve the finished salvation.No, if they will not hear Moses and the prophets, our Lord and his apostles, theymust all likewise perish. This is a very meagre outline of this solemn treatise;it is full of striking illustrations, eminently calculated to arouse the thoughtless,and to convey solid instruction to the thoughtful.
This was the third volume that Bunyan published, and, with modest timidity, he sheltershimself under a strong recommendatory preface by his pastor, who, in the Grace Abounding,he calls 'holy Mr. Gifford.' So popular was it, as to pass through nine editionsin the author's lifetime. The preface, by John Gifford, was printed only withthe first edition. As it gives a very interesting account of Bunyan, and his earlylabours in the ministry, which has never been noticed by any of his biographers,and is extremely rare, it is here reprinted from a fine copy in the British Museum,and must prove interesting to every admirer of John Bunyan. I close with two shortextracts– may they leave an abiding impression upon our minds. 'God will have a timeto meet with them that now do not seek after him.' 'O! regard, regard, for the judgmentday is at hand, the graves are ready to fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding,the sentence will ere long be passed, and then,' it will be seen whether we belongto the class of Dives, who preferred the world, or to that of Lazarus, who preferredChrist; and then, O then! time cannot be recalled.
PREFACE, BY THE REV. JOHN GIFFORD, PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT BEDFORD, OFWHICH JOHN BUNYAN WAS A MEMBER.
TO THE READER.
It is sad to see how the most of men neglect their precious souls, turning theirbacks upon the glorious gospel, and little minding a crucified Jesus, when, in themeanwhile, their bodies are well provided for, their estates much regarded, and thethings of this present life are highly prized, as if the darling was of less valuethan a clod of earth; an immortal soul, than a perishing body; a precious Saviour,than unsatisfying creatures. Yea, though they have been often wooed with graciousentreaties, glorious promises, and fresh bleeding wounds, to make choice of the betterpart, that shall never be taken from them; yet, alas! such influence hath this world,and the pleasures of it, and such is the blindness of their understandings, thatthey continue still to hunt after those things which cannot profit, nor be a helpto them in the worst hour. Yea, that will prove no better than poison to their souls,and refuse that would be (if embraced) their happiness here, and their glory hereafter.Such a strange stupidity hath seized upon the hearts of men, that they will venturethe loss of their immortal souls for a few dying comforts, and will expose themselvesto endless misery for a moment's mirth, and short-lived pleasures. But, certainly,a barn well fraught, a bag well filled, a back well clothed, and a body well fed,will prove but poor comforts when men come to die, when death shall not only separatetheir souls from their bodies, but both from their comforts. What will it then availthem that they have gained much? Or what will they give in exchange for their souls?Be wise, then (O reader, to whose sight this may come), before it be too late, andthou repent, when repentance shall be hid from thine eyes; also it will be as a daggerto thine heart one day, to remember what a Christ, what a soul, what a heaven thouhast lost for a few pleasures, a little mirth, a short enjoyment of this presentworld; yea, and that after many warnings against many reproofs, and, notwithstandingthe many tenders of a full Christ, instead of those empty vanities which thy soulclosed with, hunted after, and would by no means be persuaded to part withal. No,but thou wouldst take thy time, and swim in this world's delights, though thy soulthereby was drowned in perdition and destruction (1 Tim 6:9).
True, few there are that will be persuaded that this course they take, though theirdaily conversations do bear witness to it; for how much time is spent, and how muchcare is the hearts of men filled withal, after attaining, keeping, and increasingthese things? And how seldom do they trouble their heads, to have their minds takenup with thoughts of the better? Cumbering themselves with many things, but whollyneglecting the one thing necessary; yea, whereby do they measure their own or othermen's happiness, but by the large incomes of this world's good, accounting this thegreatest, if not the only blessedness, to have their corn, wine, and oil increasein abundance, and reckoning those that are most serious about, and earnest afterthe world to come, men of foolish spirits, giddy brains, and worthy to be brandedin the forehead for simple deluded ones. But surely he is the most fool that willbe one at last; and he that God calls so (Luke 12:20) will pass for one in the end;yea, within a short time, they themselves shall change their notes. Ask the richman spoken of in the ensuing treatise, who was the fool–he or Lazarus? and he willsoon resolve the question, that he now sees, and by woeful experience finds (whatsoeverhis former thoughts were), that he, not Lazarus, was the silly deluded one; for he,fool-like, preferred the worse things before the better, and refused that which oncemight have been had; but now he hath slipped the time, it cannot be gained, whenthis poor man, knowing the day of his visitation, was making sure of that glory whichhe now enjoys, and shall enjoy for evermore.
So that in this parable (if I may so call it) thou shalt find that Scripture confirmed,'That the triumphing of the wicked is short' (Job 20:5). Together with that, 'Thatthe temptations (or afflictions) of the righteous, which cause heaviness, are butfor a season' (1 Peter 1:6). And in this treatise, both of these are largely openedand explained. Behold, here a rich man clothed in silks, fed with delicates, andfaring deliciously every day; but look a little farther, and lo! this man clothedwith vengeance, roaring under torments, and earnestly begging for a drop of waterto cool his tongue; a sad change. On the other hand, here thou shalt see a poor,but a gracious man, with a pinched belly, naked back, and running sores, beggingat the rich man's gate for a morsel to feed his belly, a sad state, yet but short;for look again, and behold this beggar gloriously carried, as in a chariot of triumph,by the angels into Abraham's bosom, shining in glory, clothed with beautiful garments,and his soul set down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the Father;his rags are gone, his sores healed, and his soul filled with joy unspeakable, andfull of glory; the one carried not his costly fare, and his gorgeous apparel withhim into hell; nor the other his coarse diet, mouldy bread, filthy rags, and ulcerousbody into heaven; but the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, tooktheir leaves at the grave; the worldly man's portion was but for his life, and thegodly man's afflictions lasted no longer; 'For mark the perfect, and behold the upright,for the end of that man is peace; but the end of the wicked shall be cut off' (Psa37:37,38).
His present comforts, his future hopes, and his cursed soul together; yea, thoughhe lives many days, and rejoices in them all, yet the days of darkness will overtakehim, and his eye shall see no more good; in his life time he enjoyed his good things,and, at the hour of death, legions of devils will beset him, innumerable evils willbefal him; and then shall he pay full dear for all the pleasures of sin, that havecarried away his heart from closing with, and following the Lord in the day of hisprosperity. Ungodly men, because they feel no changes now, they fear none hereafter,but flatter themselves with dying as the godly, though their life is consumed inwickedness, and their strength in providing for and satisfying the lusts of the flesh.But as it fared with wicked Balaam, so shall it fare with these, and their vain hopeswill prove a feeding upon ashes through their deceived heart, that hath turned themaside (Isa 44:20). 'For they that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption'(Gal 6:8). 'And they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap the same'(Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7). But they that sow to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap lifeeverlasting. Say ye then to the righteous, 'It shall go well with him; however itgoes with him now, a few days will produce a happy change.'
'It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord' (Eccl 8:12). Go on then, O soul,thou that hast set thy face towards heaven, though the east wind beats upon thee,and thou find trouble and sorrow; these shall endure but for a night, joy will undoubtedlycome in the morning; besides those sweet visits thou shalt have from thy preciousSaviour, in this thy day of darkness, wait but a while, and thy darkness shall beturned into light. 'When the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the sparkof his fire, wherewith he warmed himself, shall not shine' (Job 18:5). 'Grudge notto see the wicked prosper, and their steps washed with butter, but rather put onbowels of mercy and pity, as the elect of God, knowing that they are set in slipperyplaces' (Psa 73:18). And their day is coming, when fearful horror shall surprisethem, and hell be opened to receive them; nor yet be disquieted in thy mind, thattroubles and afflictions do beset thee round; for, as a worser thing is reservedfor them, so a better is prepared for thee. Do they drink wine in bowls? and dostthou mingle thy tears with thy drink? Do they live in pleasures, and spend theirdays in wealth? and dost thou sigh and mourn in secret? Well, there is a cup forthem in the hand of the Lord, the wine whereof is red, and full of mixture, whichthey must drink up the dregs (Psa 75:8). And the Lord hath a bottle for thy tears(Psa 56:8). And a book for thy secret sighs, and ere long thy brinish tears shallbe turned into the sweetest wine, which thou shalt drink new in the kingdom of theFather, and thy secret sighs into glorious praises; when thy mouth shall be filledwith laughter, and thy eyes see the King in his glory.
Now, considering that these lines may be brought to the sight both of the one sortand the other, I shall lay a few things before the thought of each; and first tothe worser sort.
First. Consider what an ill bargain thou wilt make, to sell thy precious soul forshort continuance in thy sins and pleasures. If that man drives but an ill trade,who, to gain the world, should lose his soul (Matt 16:26), then, certainly, thouart far worse that sells thy soul for a very trifle. O it is pity that so preciousa thing should be parted withal, to be made a prey for the devouring lion, for thatwhich is worse than nothing! If they were branded for desperate wretches that causedtheir children to pass through the fire to Moloch, surely thou much more that givesthy soul to devouring flames, to be fuel for the everlasting fire, upon so unfitterms; what meanest thou, O man, to truck with the devils? Is there no better merchandiseto trade in than what comes from hell, or out of the bowels of the earth? and tobe had upon no lower rates than thy immortal soul? Yes, surely the merchandise ofwisdom, which is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof thanfine gold (Prov 3:14, 8:19), is exposed to sale (Rev 3:18), and to be had withoutmoney or price; and if thou shouldest part with anything for it, it is such thatit is better to part withal than to keep. The wise merchant that sought a goodlypearl, having found one, sold all that he had, not himself, not his soul, and allthat he sold was in itself not worth a farthing, and yet obtained the pearl (Matt13:45,46). Paul made the like exchange when he threw away his own righteousness,which was but rags, yea, filthy rags (Isa 64:6), and put on the garment of salvation,and cast away to the dunghill that which was once his gain, and won Christ (Phil3:8). Thou needest not cast away thy soul for puddle pleasures; behold the fountainof living water is set open, and thou invited to it, to take and drink thy belly,thy soul full, without price or money (Isa 55:2).
Secondly. Take a short (yet let it not be a slight) view of the best of the thingsmen prize so high, that for the love of, they lose their souls: what are they? Evenpainted nothings, promising vanities (like the apples of Sodom, fair to the eye,but being touched, turn to dust; or like our mother Eve's, that had a beautiful look,but, being tasted, brings forth death), which, from the most part, have proved snaresto the owners, and always miserable comforters at the parting; they cannot satisfyin life, for the more of these things are had, the more (with a disquieted spirit)are they reached after, and what comes in serves but to whet up the greedy unsatisfiedappetite after more. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof (1 John 2:17).Though most men content themselves with these, yet it is not in these to satisfythem, and had they but one glimpse of the world to come, one cranny of light to discernthe riches of Christ, and the least taste of the pleasures that are at the righthand of God (Psa 16:11), they would be as little satisfied without a share in them,as they are now with what of worldly things they enjoy; much less can they ease frompain at death. Clap a bag of gold (as one once did) to thy sinking spirit, painedbody, and tormented conscience, and it can neither cheer up the one, nor appeasethe other, least of all can they deliver from, or yield comfort after death; thosecannot serve as a bribe to death to pass thee by, nor yet bring comfort to thy soulwhen thou art gone. The rich fool's large crop and great increase could not procureone night's respite, nor one moment's comfort.
Besides, God regards them so little, that frequently he gives the largest share ofthem to whom he hateth most (Psa 17:14), and the least to them who are the excellentin the earth, in whom his soul delights, although he hath made them heirs of thekingdom (James 2:5). Yet doth he bestow such a small portion of these worldly thingsupon them, hereby declaring to all how little he sets by those things which mostset so much by, and to draw up our hearts, minds, and affections to the things above;yea, His own Son that he appointed heir of all things (Heb 1:2) shall come forthneither of rich kindred, nor attended with gallants, nor yet accoutered with theworld's glory, but in a low, mean, and abject condition, at whose birth a mangerreceived him; and through his life sorrows, wants, and sufferings did attend, andat the end a shameful death, in the world's esteem, befals him, and by all this heshows his contempt of the worldly man's darling. Cast not away thy soul then, O man,in seeking after, solacing thyself in, and contenting thyself with this present world;for though thou mayest make gold thy hope, and put thy confidence in thy wealth,yet when this thy hope shall fail, and thy confidence slip from thee (as sure itwill ere long), glad wouldst thou be of the least drop of the water of life, andthe least filing of that precious gold (that thou art now called upon to drink of,and to buy for thyself); but, alas, they shall not be had. Then, O then, what profitwill thy treasures of wickedness yield thee; and whereto will thy thick clay thatthou hast hoarded up, and thy carnal pleasures which thou hast drunk down, as thefish drinks down water; whereto, I say, will they serve, unless to weigh thee thedeeper into hell, and increase the fire, when it shall be kindled upon thee?
Thirdly. Look upon thy loss, too, which is such that ten thousand worlds cannot repair–thysoul, thy body, thy comforts, thy hopes, thy share in a crucified Jesus, the crownof life, and everlasting communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit, blessed angels,and glorified saints, and a soul-satisfying, soul-saving Christ, who came from thebosom of love, and gave himself to open a way to everlasting glory, by the sacrificeof himself, to whom thou art called, invited, and persuaded to come; whose heartis open, arms spread, and who hath room enough in his bosom to receive thee, graceenough to pardon thee, blood enough to justify thee, treasures enough to enrich thee,pleasures enough to delight thee (Psa 36:8), and glory enough to crown thee; in whomit hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell (Col 1:19); to makethem perfectly blessed that come to him, so that there is no need to seek happinessamong the creatures, which most do, and thereby lose true happiness, and their soulstoo. Turn in hither, and thou shalt eat of his bread, and drink of the wine whichhe hath mingled (Prov 9:4,5).
Wouldst thou fare deliciously every day, and have thy soul delight itself in fatness?(Isa 55:2). Hearken diligently, and come to the wedding; the oxen and fatlings arekilled, and all things are ready (Matt 22:5). I tell thee, whatsoever food thou feedestupon else, will prove no better to thee than the prodigal's husks (Luke 15:16). Thatwill starve thee whilst thou feedest on them; and if thou drinkest of other wine,it will prove as a cup of wine mixed with poison, which though it be pleasant tothe taste, it will be the death of thy soul. Wilt thou, then, lose this Christ, thisfood, this pleasure, this heaven, this happiness, for a thing of nought? Wilt thoudrink out of a puddle, a broken cistern which leaks out the water, and holds nothingbut mud, and refuse the fountain of living water, which, whosoever tastes of, shalllive for ever?
Fourthly. Beware of persuading thyself into a conceit of the poor man's end, if thoulivest the rich man's life, and diest his death. It is strange to see how many runswift by the very way to hell, yet are full of confidence of going to heaven, thoughScripture everywhere shuts them out, and Christ at last will certainly shut themout for ever hereafter, living and dying in their present state. Let none, therefore,deceive you, neither deceive yourselves, for none such can enter into the kingdomof heaven. But for these things' sake cometh the wrath of God on the children ofdisobedience (1 Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5,6). And how sad will thy disappointment be, thatgoest on securely fearing nothing, being fully, yet falsely, persuaded of eternallife at last, and then drop down into the bottomless pit! Like wicked Haman, thatdreamed of greater honour, but behold a gallows; or our mother Eve, who conceitedto be as God, but became a cursed creature. Though the devil may persuade thee thoumayest live as in hell here, yet in heaven hereafter, believe him not, for he endeavoursto keep thee in his snares, that he may drag thee to hell with him; and the betterto effect his devilish design upon thee, he will present (and through his cursedsubtlety knows how to do it) thy sins and this world in as lovely and taking a guiseas may be, but will hide the evil consequences from thine eyes, that thou mightestbe inveigled by gazing on the one, and not be affrighted by beholding the other;his bait shall be pleasant, but his hook hid, like the strumpet in Proverbs 7, thatentices the simple with fair words, but conceals that the way to her house leadsto the chambers of death; nothing appears but a bed richly furnished, and a promiseof solacing him with loves; but he that followeth after her, goeth as an ox to theslaughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocks.
Fifthly. This is thy day to prevent the loss of the one, and to get an interest inthe other; this is the day of salvation, the accepted day of the Lord (2 Cor 6:2).Let the sun of this day be set before this work be done, and an everlasting nightof darkness will close thee in, wherein thou, thou shalt have time enough indeedto bemoan thy folly, but none to learn to grow wiser. It is a sad thing, especiallyin soul concernments, to be wise too late, and to cry out when time is past, O thatI had improved it when it was present. Then will the remembrance of thy former misspenttime, and thy despair of ever gaining more, be like poisoned arrows drinking up theyspirit. Amongst all the talents God hath entrusted man withal, this is not the least,because on it depends eternity; and according to the use we make of this, will oureternal condition be, though the most of men live at such a rate as if it was giventhem to no other end than to waste in wickedness, and consume in pleasures. Whatmeans else their spending days, weeks, months, years, yea, their whole life, in whoring,swearing, playing, coveting, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, so that whenthey come to die, the great work that they were sent to do is then to be done; theirsouls, Christ, eternity, was scarce thought on before; but now, when merciless deathbegins to gripe them, then do they begin to bethink themselves of those things whichthey should have got in readiness before, and that is the reason why we so oftenhear many that lie upon their death-beds to cry out for a little longer time; andno wonder, for they have the salvation of their souls to seek. O sad case! to havetheir work to do when the night is come, and a Christ to seek when death hath foundthem; take therefore the counsel of the Holy Ghost (Heb 3:7), 'To-day, if you willhear his voice, harden not your hearts.' Mark, it is the Spirit's counsel. True,the devil and thine own heart will tell thee another tale, and be ready to whisperin thine ears, Thou mayest have time enough hereafter; what need of so much haste,another day may serve as well; let thy soul be filled with pleasure a little longer,and thy bags filled a little more; thou mayest have time for this and that too. O,but this is the suggestion of an enemy, that would cause thee to defer so long, thatthy heart may grow too hard, and thine ear too heavy to hear at all; but, certainly,this being the greatest business, challengeth the first and greatest care (Matt 6:33).And let this be done; then, if thou shalt either have so much time to spare, or aheart to do it, take thy time for the other.
Sixthly. This day of thy mercy and Christ's importunity will not last long; it isbut a day, and that a day of visitation. Indeed it is rich grace that there shouldbe a day, but dally not because it is but a day. Jerusalem had her day, but becausetherein she did not know the things of her peace, a pitch night did overtake (Luke19:42,43). It is a day of patience, and if thou despisest the riches of God's goodness,patience, and long-suffering towards thee, and art not thereby led to repentance(Rom 2:5), a short time will make it a day of vengeance. Though now Christ calls,because he is willing to save sinners, yet he will not always call; see then thatthou refuse not him that speaks from heaven in this gospel day (Heb 12:25). But seekhim while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near (Isa 55:6), lest thoucriest after him hereafter, and he refuse thee. It is not crying, Lord, Lord, whenthe day of grace is past, that will procure the least crumb of mercy (Matt 7:21).No, if thou comest not when called, but stayest while supper is ended, thou shaltnot taste thereof (Luke 14:24), though a bit would save thy life, thy soul; if thoudrinkest not of the fountain while it is opened, thou shalt not when it is shut,though thou beggest with tears of blood for one drop to cool thy scorching flamingheart; thou that mightest have had thy vessel full, and welcome, shall not now haveso much as will hang on the tip of a finger. O! remember, the axe is laid to theroot of the tree (Matt 3:10). And although three years' time may be granted, throughthe vine-dresser's importunity, that will soon be expired, and then the axe thatis now laid, shall cut up the tree by its roots, if it bring not forth good fruit.Seest thou not that many of late have been snatched away, on each side of thee (bythat hand that hath been stretched out and is so still)? and though thou mayest escapea while, yet hast thou no assurance that the destroying angel will long pass by thydoor. O then, neglect thy soul no longer, but consider time is short, and uncertain,eternity long, thy work great, thy soul immortal, this world vanishing, Christ precious,hell hot, and heaven desirable.
And if thou beest a Christian (to whom this may come) that hast not only had a prizein thy hands, but wisdom given thee from above to make use of it, and art one who(whilst others are seeking to make this world and hell together sure to themselves)spendest thy time, and makest it thy only business, to make sure of the one thingnecessary, and heaven to thy soul, I shall lay two or three things before thy thoughts.
First. Walk with a fixed eye upon the world to come. Look not at the things thatare seen, that are temporal, but at the things which are not seen, that are eternal(2 Cor 4:18). A Christian's eye should be upon his journey's end, as our Lord Jesus,who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross (Heb 12:2). When the stonesflew about Stephen's ears, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory ofGod, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55,56). What though thouat present mayest lie at the rich man's gates, yet a few days will translate theeinto Abraham's bosom. Though Israel had a sharp voyage through the wilderness, yetCaleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land theywere going to. Though graceless souls are too dull sighted to see afar off (2 Peter1:9), yet thou that hast received the unction from above, dost in some measure knowwhat is the hope of thy calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritancein the saints.
Secondly. Be satisfied with thy present condition, though it be afflictive, for itshall not last always. Thy sorrows shall be short, and thy joys long; roll thyselfupon the Lord, for there is a heaven will pay for all; Christ first endured the crossbefore he wore the crown. David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. The poor manspoken of in this ensuing treatise, before he was carried into heaven, had experiencesof sorrow and sufferings on earth. Let the flesh be silent in passing judgment onthe dispensations of God towards thee, and the men of this world, in this presentlife. David, by prying too far herein with his own wisdom, had almost caught a fall(Psa 73). Though God's judgments may be too deep for our reason to dive into, yetare they always righteous, and his paths mercy and truth to those that keep his covenants(Psa 25:10). When Jeremiah would debate with the Lord concerning his judgments inthe wicked's prosperity, he would lay this down as an indubitable truth, that hisjudgments were righteous (Jer 12:1). And his end was not to charge God, but to learnunderstanding of him in the way of his judgments; and although the ways of his providencemay be dark to his people, that they cannot discern his footsteps, yet are they alwaysconsistent with his everlasting covenant, and the results of the favour he bearsto them. If the wicked flourish like the grass, it is that they should be destroyedfor ever (Psa 92:7). And if the godly have many a wave beating upon them, yet willthe Lord command his loving-kindness in the day time (Psa 42:7,8). And, after a littlewhile being tossed to and fro in these boisterous waves, they shall arrive at theheavenly haven, this world being not their resting-place, but there remains one forthem (Heb 4:9).
Thirdly. Let the faith and hopes of a glorious deliverance get thy heart up abovethy present sufferings, that thou mayest glory in tribulation who hast ground ofrejoicing in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2,3). For whatsoever thy present grievancesare, whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations, this may be thy consolationthat a few days will rid thee of them; when thou shalt sigh no more, complain nomore, but those shall be turned into praises. Thou hast (if I may so call it) allthy hell here; let thy life be expired, and thy misery is ended; thy happiness begins,where wicked men's end; and when thine is once began, it shall have no more end.
Reader, I have an advertisement to thee concerning the following discourse, and theauthor of it. Thou hast in the discourse many things of choice consideration presentedto thee in much plainness, evidence, and authority; the replications are full, theapplications are natural. Be not offended at his plain and downright language, itis for the discharge of the author's conscience, and thy profit, besides the subjectnecessarily leads him to it. It is a mercy to be dealt thoroughly and plainly within the matters of thy soul. We have too many that sow pillows under men's elbows,and too few who, dealing plainly, divide to every man his portion. Read it not topick quarrels with it, but to profit by it; and let not prejudice either againstthe author, or manner of delivery, cause thee to stumble and fall at the truth. Prejudicewill both blind the eye that it shall not see the truth, and close it in with it,and make them too quick- sighted, either to make faults where there is none, or togreaten them where they are; and so cause the reader to turn the edge against theauthor or his work, that should be turned upon his own heart. It is marvellous tosee how the truth is quarrelled at that comes from one, that would be easily receivedit if did drop from another; and I doubt not, if this book had some other hand atit, there is scarce any expression that may be now carpt at by some, but would havebeen swallowed without straining. We are now fallen into such an age (the good Lordhelp us) that truth, upon its own account, can challenge but little acceptance, exceptthe author be liked, or his lines painted with his own wit. But certainly truth isof so excellent a nature, of such singular advantage, and of so royal a descent,that it deserves entertainment for itself, and that not in our houses or heads only,but in our hearts too. Whatsoever the hand is that brings it, or the form that itappears in, men account gold worth receiving, whatsoever the messenger is that bringsit, or the vessel that holds it.
If thou meetest (reader) with any passage that seems doubtful unto thee, let lovethat thinks no evil put the best construction upon it, and do not hastily condemnwhat thou canst not presently yield to; or if any expression thou meetest with may(haply) offend thee, do not throw aside the whole, and resolve to read of it no more;for though some one may offend thee, yet others (I hope) may affect thee; or if therebe that which some may call tautology, be not displeased at it; for that word thatmay not fasten upon thy heart in one page, may in another; and although it may begrievous to thy eye (if thou beest nice and curious), yet bear with it, if it maybe profitable to thy soul.
Concerning the author (whatsoever the censures and reports of many are) I have thisto say, that I verily believe God hath counted him faithful, and put him into theministry; and though his outward condition and former employment was mean, and hishuman learning small, yet is he one that hath acquaintance with God, and taught byhis Spirit, and hath been used in his hand to do souls good; for to my knowledgethere are divers who have felt the power of the word delivered by him; and I doubtnot but that many more may, if the Lord continue him in his work; he is not likeunto your drones, that will suck the sweet, but do no work. For he hath laid forthhimself to the utmost of his strength, taking all advantages to make known to otherswhat he himself hath received of God, and I fear this is one reason why the archershave shot so sorely at him; for by his and others' industry in their Master's work,their slothfulness hath been reproved, and the eyes of many have been opened to seea difference between those that are sent of God and those that run before they aresent. And that he is none of those light fanatic spirits that our age abounds withal,this following discourse, together with his former, that have been brought to publicview, will testify; for among other things that may bear record to him herein, youshall find him magnifying and exalting the Holy Scriptures, and largely showing theworth, excellency, and usefulness of them.
And yet surely if thou shalt (notwithstanding this) stumble at his meanness and wantof human learning, thou wilt declare thine unacquaintance with God's declared method,who to perfect his own praise, and to still the enemy and avenger, makes choice ofbabes and sucklings, and in their mouths ordaineth strength (Psa 8:2). Though menthat have a great design, do, and must make use of those that in reason are mostlikely to effect it, yet must the Lord do so too? Then instruments (not himself)would carry away the praise; but that no flesh should glory in his presence, he hathchosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and base things ofthe world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen (1 Cor 1:27-29). Cast thineeye back to the beginning of the gospel dispensation (which surely, if at any time,should have come forth in the wisdom and glory of the world), and thou shalt seewhat method the Lord did take at the first to exalt his son Jesus: he goes not amongstthe Jewish rabbis, nor to the schools of learning, to fetch out his gospel preachers,but to the trades, and those most contemptible too; yet let not any from hence conceivethat I undervalue the gifts and graces of such who have been, or now are endued withthem, nor yet speak against learning being kept in its place; but my meaning is,that those that are learned should not despise those that are not; or those thatare not, should not despise those that are, who are faithful in the Lord's work:and therefore being about to leave thee, I shall leave with thee two Scriptures tobe considered of. The one is John 13:20, Verily, verily, I say unto you, he thatreceiveth whomsoever I send (mark whomsoever) receiveth me; and he that receivethme, receiveth him that sent me. The other is Luke 10:16, He that heareth you, hearethme; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despisethhim that sent me.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
Friend, because it is a dangerous thing to be walking towards the lace of darknessand anguish; and again, because it is (notwithstanding) the journey that most ofthe poor souls in the world are taking, and that with delight and gladness, as ifTHERE was the only happiness to be found, I have therefore thought it my duty, beingmade sensible of the danger that will befal those that fall therein, for the preventingof thee, O thou poor man or woman! to tell thee, by opening this parable, what sadsuccess those souls have had, and are also like to have, that have been, or shallbe found persevering therein.
We use to count him a friend that will forewarn his neighbour of the danger, whenhe knoweth thereof, and doth also see that the way his neighbour is walking in dothlead right thereto, especially when we think that our neighbour may be either ignorantor careless of his way. Why friend, it may be, nay twenty to one, but thou hast been,ever since thou didst come into the world, with thy back towards heaven, and thyface towards hell; and thou, it may be, either through ignorance or carelessness,which is as bad, if not worse, hast been running full hastily that way ever since.Why friend? I beseech thee put a little stop to thy earnest race, and take a viewof what entertainment thou art like to have, if thou do in deed and in truth persistin this thy course. Friend, thy way leads 'down to death,' and thy 'steps take holdon hell' (Prov 5:5). It may be the path indeed is pleasant to the flesh, but theend thereof will be bitter to thy soul. Hark, dost thou not hear the bitter criesof them that are but newly gone before, saying, Let him 'dip the tip of his fingerin water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame?' (Luke 16:24). Dostthou not hear them say, Send out from the dead, to prevent my father, my brother,and my father's house, from coming 'into this place of torment?' Shall not then thesemournful groans pierce thy flinty heart? Wilt thou stop thine ears, and shut thyeyes? And wilt thou not regard?
Take warning and stop thy journey before it be too late. Wilt thou be like the sillyfly, that is not quiet unless she be either entangled in the spider's web, or burnedin the candle? Wilt thou be like the bird that hasteth to the snare of the fowler?Wilt thou be like that simple one named in the seventh of Proverbs, that will bedrawn to the slaughter by the cord of a silly lust? O sinner, sinner, there are betterthings than hell to be had, and at a cheaper rate by the thousandth part! O! thereis no comparison, there is heaven, there is God, there is Christ, there is communionwith an innumerable company of saints and angels. Hear the message then that Goddoth send, that Christ doth send, that saints do bring, nay, that the dead do sendunto thee: 'I pray thee, therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house';'if one went unto them from the dead they would repent.' 'How long, ye simple ones,will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning? And fools hateknowledge?' 'Turn you at my reproof: behold,' saith God, 'I will pour out my Spiritunto you, I will make known my words unto you.' I say, hear this voice, O silly one,and turn and live, thou sinful soul, lest he make thee hear that other saying, But,'because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no manregarded; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh'(Prov 1:22-26).
O poor soul, If God and Christ did [thus] with thee for thine harm, it would be anothermatter; then if thou didst refuse, thou mightest have some excuse to make, or faultto find, and ground to make delays. But this is for thy profit, for thy advantage,for the pardoning of thy sins, the salvation of thy soul, the delivering of theefrom hell fire, from the wrath to come, from everlasting burnings, into favor withGod, Christ, and communion with all happiness, that is so indeed.
But it may be thou wilt say, All that hath been spoken to in this discourse is buta parable, and parables are no realities. I could put thee off with this answer,That though it be a parable, yet it is a truth, and not a lie; and thou shalt findit so too, to thy cost, if thou shalt be found a slighter of God, Christ, and thesalvation of thy own soul.
But secondly, know for certain, that the things signified by parables are wonderfulrealities. O what a glorious reality was there signified by that parable, 'The kingdomof heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea,' &c. Signifying, thatsinners of all sorts, of all nations, should be brought into God's kingdom, by thenet of the gospel. And O! how real a thing shall the other part thereof be, whenit is fulfilled, which saith, And 'when it was full they drew to shore, and gatheredthe good into vessels, but cast the bad away' (Matt 13:47,48). Signifying the mansionsof glory that the saints should have, and also the rejection that God will give tothe ungodly, and to sinners. And also that parable, what a glorious reality is therein it, which saith, 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abidethalone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John 12:24). To signify thatunless Jesus Christ did indeed spill his blood, and die the cursed death, he shouldabide alone; that is, have never a soul into glory with him; but if he died, he shouldbring forth much fruit; that is, save many sinners. And also how real a truth therewas in that parable concerning the Jews putting Christ to death, which the poor dispersedJews can best experience to their cost; for they have been almost ever since a banishedpeople, and such as have had God's sore displeasure wonderfully manifested againstthem, according to the truth of the parable (Matt 21:33-41). O therefore, for JesusChrist's sake, do not slight the truth, because it is discovered in a parable! Forby this argument thou mayest also, nay, thou wilt slight almost all the things thatour Lord Jesus Christ did speak; for he spake them for the most part, if not all,in parables. Why should it be said of thee as it is said of some, These things arespoken to them that are without 'in parables, that seeing they might not see, andhearing they might not understand?' (Luke 8:10). I say, take heed of being a quarrelleragainst Christ's parables, lest Christ also object against the salvation of thy soulat the judgment day.
Friend, I have no more to say to thee now. If thou dost love me pray for me, thatmy God would not forsake me, nor take his Holy Spirit from me; and that God wouldfit me to do and suffer what shall be from the world or devil inflicted upon me.I must tell thee, the world rages, they stamp and shake their heads, and fain theywould be doing; the Lord help me to take all they shall do with patience; and whenthey smite the one cheek, to turn the other to them, that I may do as Christ hathbidden me; for then the Spirit of God, and of glory, shall rest upon me. Farewell.
I am thine, if thou be not ashamed to own me, because of my low and contemptibledescent in the world.
A Few Sighs from Hell;
The Groans of a Damned Soul..
"There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, andfared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, whichwas laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs whichfell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Andit came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham'sbosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifted up his eyes,being in torments, and seeeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And hecried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dipthe tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.And, beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that theywhich would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that wouldcome from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldstsend him to my father's house; For I have five brethren; that he may testify untothem,lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, Theyhave Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham:but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him,If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though onerose from the dead."
This Scripture was not spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to show you the state of twosingle persons only, as some, through ignorance of the drift of Christ in his parables,do dream; but to show you the state of the godly and ungodly to the world's end;as is clear to him that is of an understanding heart. For he spake them to the endthat after generations should take notice thereof, and fear, lest they also fellinto the same condition. Now in my discourse upon these words I shall not be tedious;but as briefly as I may, I shall pass through the several verses, and lay you downsome of the several truths contained therein. And the Lord grant that they may beprofitable, and of great advantage to those that read them, or hear them read.
The 19th and 20th verses also, I shall not spend much time upon, only give you threeor four short hints, and so pass to the next verses; for they are the words I dointend most especially to insist upon.
The 19th, 20th, and 21st verses run thus:– 'There was a certain rich man which wasclothed in purple and fine linen, and fared' deliciously or 'sumptuously every day.And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full ofsores.'
First. If these verses had been spoken by Jesus Christ, and no more, all the worldwould have gone near to have cast a wrong interpretation on them. I say, if Jesushad said only thus much, 'There was a certain rich man' which 'fared sumptuouslydaily, and a certain beggar laid at his gate full of sores'; the world would havemade this conclusion of them–the rich man was the happy man; for, at the first view,it doth represent such a thing; but take all together, that is, read the whole parable,and you shall find that there is no man in a worse condition than he; as I shallclearly hold forth afterward.
Second. Again, if a man would judge of men according to outward appearance, he shallofttimes take his mark amiss. Here is a man to outward appearance appears the onlyblessed man, better by half than the beggar, inasmuch as he is rich, the beggar poor;he is well clothed, but peradventure the beggar is naked; he hath good food, butthe beggar would be glad of dog's meat. 'And desiring to be fed with the crumbs whichfell from the rich man's table.' The rich man fares well every day, but the beggarmust be glad of a bit when he can get it. O! who would not be in the rich man's state?A wealthy man, sorts of new suits and dainty dishes every day; enough to make onewho minds nothing but his belly, and his back, and his lusts, to say, O that I werein that man's condition! O that I had about me as that man has! Then I should livea life indeed; then should I have heart's-ease good store; then I should live pleasantly,and might say to my soul, 'Soul,' be of good cheer, 'eat, drink, and be merry' (Luke12:19). Thou hast everything plenty, and art in a most blessed condition.
I say, this might be, aye, and is, the conclusion with them that judge accordingto outward appearance. But if the whole parable be well considered, you will see(Luke 16:15), that which is had in high estimation with men is an abomination inthe sight of God. And again (John 16:20- 22), that condition, that is the saddestcondition, according to outward appearance, is ofttimes the most excellent; for thebeggar had ten thousand degrees the best of it, though, to outward appearance, hisstate was the saddest; from whence we shall observe thus much:–1. That those whojudge according to outward appearance, do for the most part judge amiss (John 7:24).2. That they who look upon their outward enjoyments to be token of God's specialgrace unto them, are also deceived (Rev 3:17). For as it is here in the parable,a man of wealth and a child of the devil may make but one person; or a man may haveabundance of outward enjoyments, and yet be carried by the devils into eternal burnings(Luke 12:20). But this is the trap in which the devil hath caught many thousandsof poor souls, namely, by getting them to judge according to outward appearance,or according to God's outward blessings.
Do but ask a poor, carnal, covetous wretch, how we should know a man to be in a happystate, and he will answer, those that God blesseth, and giveth abundance of thisworld unto; when, for the most part, they are they that are the cursed men. Alas!poor men, they are so ignorant as to think that because a man is increased in outwardthings, and that by a small stock, therefore God doth love that man with a speciallove, or else he would never do so much for him, never bless him so, and prosperthe work of his hands. Ah! poor soul, it is the rich man that goes to hell. And 'therich man died,' and in hell, mark, 'in hell he lift up his eyes,' &c.
Methinks to see how the great ones of the world will go strutting up and down thestreets sometimes, it makes me wonder. Surely they look upon themselves to be theonly happy men; but it is because they judge according to outward appearance; theylook upon themselves to be the only blessed men, when the Lord knows the generalityare left out of that blessed condition. 'Not many wise men after the flesh, not manymighty, not many noble are called' (1 Cor 1:26). Ah! did they that do now so brag,that nobody dare scarce look on them, but believe this, it would make them hang downtheir heads and cry, O give me a Lazarus' portion.
I might here enlarge very much, but I shall not; only thus much I shall say to youthat have much of this world, Have a care that you have not your portion in thisworld. Take heed that it be not said to you hereafter, when you would very willinglyhave heaven, Remember in your lifetime you had your portion (Psa 17:14).
And friend, thou that seekest after this world, and desirest riches, let me ask thisquestion, Wouldst thou be content that God should put thee off with a portion inthis life? Wouldst thou be glad to be kept out of heaven with a back well clothed,and a belly well filled with the dainties of this world? Wouldst thou be glad tohave all thy good things in thy lifetime, to have thy heaven to last no longer thanwhile thou dost live in this world? Wouldst thou be willing to be deprived of eternalhappiness and felicity? If you say no, then have a care of the world and thy sins;have a care of desiring to be a rich man, lest thy table be made a snare unto thee(Psa 19:22). Lest the wealth of this world do bar thee out of glory. For, as theapostle saith, 'They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and intomany foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition' (1Tim 6:9). Thus much in general; but now more particularly.
These two men here spoken of, as I said, do hold forth to us that state of the godlyand ungodly; the beggar holdest forth the godly, and the rich man the ungodly. 'Therewas a certain rich man.'
But why are the ungodly held forth under the notion of a rich man? 1. Because Christwould not have them look too high, as I said before, but that those who have richesshould have a care that they be not all their portion (James 1:10- 12; 1 Tim 6:17).2. Because rich men are most liable to the devil's temptations; are most ready tobe puffed up with pride, stoutness, cares of this world, in which things they spendmost of their time in lusts, drunkenness, wantonness, idleness, together with theother works of the flesh; for which things sake, the wrath of God cometh on the childrenof disobedience (Col 3:6). 3. Because he would comfort the hearts of his own, whichare most commonly of the poorer sort; but God hath chosen the poor, despised, andbase things of this world (1 Cor 1:26). Should God have set the rich man in the blessedstate, his children would have concluded, being poor, that they had no share in thelife to come.
And again, had not God given such a discovery of the sad condition of those thatare for the most part rich men, we should have had men concluded absolutely thatthe rich are the blessed men. Nay, albeit the Lord himself doth so evidently declarethat the rich ones of the world are, for the most part, in the saddest condition,yet they, through unbelief, or else presumption, do harden themselves, and seek forthe glory of this world as though the Lord Jesus Christ did not mean as he said,or else that he will say more than shall assuredly come to pass; but let them knowthat the Lord hath a time to fulfil that he had a time to declare, for the scripturecannot be broken (John 10:35).
But again, the Lord by this word doth not mean those are ungodly who are rich inthe world, and no other, for then must all those that are poor, yet graceless andvain men, be saved and delivered from eternal vengeance, which would be contraryto the Word of God, which saith that together with the kings of the earth, and thegreat men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, there are bondmen or servants,and slaves, that cry out at the appearance of the Almighty God, and his Son JesusChrist, to judgment (Rev 6:15).
So that though Christ doth say, 'There was a certain rich man,' yet you must understandhe meaneth all the ungodly, rich or poor. Nay, if you will not understand it so now,you shall be made to understand it to be so meant at the day of Christ's second coming,when all that are ungodly shall stand at the left hand of Christ, with pale facesand guilty consciences, with the vials of the Almighty's wrath ready to be pouredout upon them. Thus much in brief touching the 19th verse. I might have observedother things from it, but now I forbear, having other things to speak of at thistime.
Verse 20.– 'And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at hisgate, full of sores.'
This verse doth chiefly hold forth these things; 1. That the saints of God are apoor contemptible people; 'There was a certain beggar.' If you understand the wordbeggar to hold forth outward poverty, or scarcity in outward things, such are saintsof the Lord, for they are for the most part a poor, despised, contemptible people.But if you allegorize it and interpret it thus, They are such as beg earnestly forheavenly food; this is also the spirit of the children of God, and it may be, andis a truth in this sense, though not so naturally gathered from this scripture. 2.That 'he was laid at his gate, full of sores.' These words hold forth the distempersof believers, saying he was 'full of sores,' which may signify the many troubles,temptations, persecutions, and afflictions in body and spirit which they meet withalwhile they are in the world, but also the entertainment they find at the hands ofthose ungodly ones who live upon the earth. Whereas it is said, he was 'laid at hisgate, full of sores.' Mark, he was laid at his gate, not in his house–that was thoughttoo good for him–but he was laid at his gate, full of sores. From whence observe,(1.) That the ungodly world do not desire to entertain and receive the poor saintsof God into their houses. If they must needs be somewhere near unto them, yet theyshall not come into their houses; shut them out of doors; if they will needs be nearus, let them be at the gate. And he 'was laid at his gate, full of sores.' (2.) Observethat the world are not at all touched with the afflictions of God's children forall they are full of sores; a despised, afflicted, tempted, persecuted people theworld doth not pity, no, but rather labour to aggravate their trouble by shuttingthem out of doors; sink or swim, what cares the world? They are resolved to disownthem; they will give them no entertainment: if the lying in the streets will do themany good, if hard usage will do them any good, if to be disowned, rejected, and shutout of doors by the world will do them any good, they shall have enough of that;but otherwise no refreshment, no comfort from the world. And he 'was laid at hisgate, full of sores.'
Verse 21.– 'And he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man'stable: the dogs came also and licked his sores.'
By these words our Lord Jesus doth show us the frame of a Christian's heart, andalso the heart and carriage of worldly men towards the saints of the Lord. The Christian'sheart is held forth by this, that anything will content him while he is on this sideglory. And 'he desired to be fed with the crumbs'; the dogs' meat, anything. I saya Christian will be content with anything, if he have but to keep life and soul together;as we used to say, he is content, he is satisfied; he hath learned–if he hath learnedto be a Christian–to be content with anything; as Paul saith, 'I have learned inwhatsoever state I am, therewith to be content' (Phil 4:11). He learns in all conditionsto study to love God, to walk with God, to give up himself to God; and if the crumbsthat fall from the rich man's table will but satisfy nature and give him bodily strength,that thereby he may be the more able to walk in the way of God, he is contented.And he 'desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.'But mark, he had them not; you do not find that he had so much as a crumb, or a scrapallowed unto him. No, then the dogs will be beguiled, THAT must be preserved forthe dogs. From whence observe that the ungodly world do love their dogs better thanthe children of God. You will say that is strange. It is so indeed, yet it istrue, as will be clearly manifested; as, for instance, how many pounds do some menspend in a year on their dogs, when in the meanwhile the poor saints of God may starvefor hunger? They will build houses for their dogs, when the saints must be glad towander, and lodge in dens and caves of the earth (Heb 11:38). And if they be in anyof their houses for the hire thereof, they will warn them out or eject them, or pulldown the house over their heads, rather than not rid themselves of such tenants.Again, some men cannot go half a mile from home but they must have dogs at theirheels, but they can very willingly go half a score miles without the society of aChristian. Nay, if when they are busy with their dogs they should chance to meeta Christian, they would willingly shift him if they could. They will go on the otherside the hedge or the way rather than they will have any society with him; and ifat any time a child of God should come into a house where there are but two or threeungodly wretches, they do commonly wish either themselves or the saint out of doors;and why so? because they cannot down with the society of a Christian; though ifthere come in at the same time a dog, or a drunken swearing wretch, which is worsethan a dog, they will make him welcome; he shall sit down with them and partake oftheir dainties. And now tell me, you that love your sins and your pleasures, hadyou not rather keep company with a drunkard, a swearer, a strumpet, a thief, nay,a dog, than with an honest-hearted Christian? If you say no, what means your sourcarriage to the people of God? Why do you look on them as if you would eat them up?Yet at the very same time if you can but meet your dog, or a drunken companion, youcan fawn upon them, take acquaintance with them, to the tavern or ale house withthem, if it be two or three times in a week. But if the saints of God meet together,pray together, and labour to edify one another, you will stay till doomsday beforeyou will look into the house where they are. Ah! friends, when all comes to all,you will be found to love drunkards, strumpets, dogs, anything, nay, to serve thedevil, rather than to have loving and friendly society with the saints of God.
Moreover, 'the dogs came and licked his sores.' Here again
you may see, not only the afflicted state of the saints of God in this world, butalso that even dogs themselves, according to their kind, are more favourable to thesaints than the sinful world; though the ungodly will have no mercy on the saints,yet it is ordered so that these creatures, dogs, lions, &c. will. Though therich man would not entertain him into his house, yet his dogs will come and do himthe best good they can, even to lick his running sores. It was thus with Daniel whenthe world was mad against him, and would have him thrown to the lions to be devoured,the lions shut their mouths at him, or rather the Lord did shut them up, so thatthere was not that hurt befel to him as was desired by the adversaries (Dan 6). Andthis I am persuaded of, that would the creatures do as some men would have them,the saints of God should not walk so quietly up and down the streets and other placesas they do. And as I said before, so I say again, I am persuaded that, at the dayof judgment, many men's conditions and carriages will be so laid open, that it willevidently appear they have been very merciless and mad against the children of God,insomuch, that when the providence of God did fall out so as to cross their expectation,they have been very much offended thereat, as is very evidently seen in them whoset themselves to study how to bring the saints into bondage, and to thrust theminto corners, as in these late years (Psa 31:13). And because God hath in his goodnessordered things otherwise, they have gnashed their teeth thereat. Hence then letthe saints learn not to commit themselves to their enemies; 'beware of men' (Matt10:17). They are very merciless men, and will not so much favour you, if they canhelp it, as you may suppose they may. Nay, unless the overruling hand of God in goodnessdo order things contrary to their natural inclination, they will not favour you somuch as a dog.
Verse 22.– 'And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angelsinto Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.'
The former verses do briefly hold forth the carriage of the ungodly in this lifetoward the saints. Now this verse doth hold forth the departure, both of the godlyand ungodly, out of this life.
Where he said, 'And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried - intoAbraham's bosom,' and 'the rich man also died';–the beggar died, that representsthe godly; and the rich man died, that represents the ungodly. From whence observe,neither godly nor ungodly must live always without a change, either by death or judgment;the good man died and the bad man died. That scripture doth also back this truth,that good and bad must die, marvellous well, where it is said, 'And it is appointedunto men once to die, but after this the judgment' (Heb 9:27).
Mark, he doth not say it is so that men by chance may die; which might beget, inthe hearts of the ungodly especially, some hope to escape the bitterness of it. Buthe saith it is a thing most certain, it is appointed; mark, 'it is appointed untomen once to die, but after this the judgment.' God hath decreed it, that since menhave fallen from that happy estate that God at the first did set them in, they shalldie (Rom 6:23). Now when it is said the beggar died and the rich man died, part ofthe meaning is they ceased to be any more in this world; I say partly the meaning,but not altogether. Though it be altogether the meaning when some of the creaturesdie, yet it is but in part the meaning when it is said that men, women, or childrendie; for there is to them something else to be said, more than barely agoing outof the world. For if when unregenerate men and women die there were an end of them,not only in this world but also in the world to come, they would be happy over theywill be now, for when ungodly men and women die there is that to come after deaththat will be very terrible to them, namely, to be carried by the angels of darknessfrom their death-beds to hell, there to be reserved to the judgment of the greatday, when both body and soul shall meet and be united together again, and made capableto undergo the uttermost vengeance of the Almighty to all eternity. This is that,I say, which doth follow a man that is not born again, after death, as is clear fromthat in 1 Peter 3:18, 19, where, before speaking of Christ being raised again, bythe power of his eternal Spirit, he saith, By which, that is, by that Spirit, 'hewent and preached unto the spirits in prison.' But what is the meaning of this? Why,thus much, that those souls who were once alive in the world in the time or daysin which Noah lived, being disobedient in their times to the calls of God by hisSpirit in Noah, for so I understand it, was, according to that which was foretoldby that preacher, deprived of life and overcome by the flood, and are now in prison.Mark, he preached to the spirits in prison; he doth not say, who were in prison,but to them in, that is, now in prison, under chains of darkness, reserved, or keptthere in that prison, in which now they are, ready, like villains in the jail, tobe brought before the judgment-seat of Christ at the great day. But of this I shallspeak further by and by.
Now if this one truth, that men must die and depart this world, and either enterinto joy or else into prison, to be reserved to the day of judgment, were believed,we should not have so many wantons walk up and down the streets as there do, at leastit would put a mighty check to their filthy carriages, so that they would not, couldnot walk so basely and sinfully as they do. Belshazzar, notwithstanding he was sofar from the fear of God as he was, yet when he did but see that God was offendedand threatened him for his wickedness, it made him hang down his head and knock hisknees together (Dan 5:5,6). If you read the verses before you will find he was careless,and satisfying his lusts in drinking and playing the wanton with his concubines.But so soon as he did perceive the finger of a hand-writing, 'then,' saith the scripture,'the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the jointsof his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.' And when Paultold Felix of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, it make him tremble.And let me tell thee, soul, whosoever thou art, that if thou didst but verily believethat thou must die and come into the judgment, it would make thee turn over a newleaf. But this is the misery, the devil doth labour by all means as to keep out otherthings that are good, so to keep out of the heart, as much as in him lies, the thoughtsof passing from this life into another world; for he knows, if he can but keep themfrom the serious thoughts of death, he shall the more easily keep them in their sins,and so from closing with Jesus Christ; as Job saith, 'Their houses are safe fromfear, neither is the rod of God upon them.' Which makes them say to God, 'Departfrom us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways' (Job 21:14). Because thereis no fear of death and judgment to come, therefore they do put off God and his ways,and spend their days in their sins, and in a moment, that is, before they are aware,go down to the grave (Job 21:17). And thus it fared also with the man spoken of inLuke 12:20. The man, instead of thinking of death, he thought how he might make hisbarns bigger. But, in the midst of his business in the world, he lost his soul beforehe was aware, supposing that death had been many years off. But God said unto him,'Thou fool,' thou troublest thyself about things of this life, thou puttest off thethoughts of departing this world, when this night thy soul shall be taken from thee;or, this night, they, that is, the devil, will fetch away thy soul from thee. Andhere it comes to pass, men's not being exercised with the thoughts of departing thislife, that they are, so unexpectedly to themselves and their neighbours, taken awayfrom the pleasures and profits, yea, and all the enjoyments they busy themselveswithal while they live in this world. And hence it is again, that you have some inyour towns and cities that are so suddenly taken away, some from haunting the ale-houses, others from haunting the whore-houses, others from playing and gaming, othersfrom the cares and covetous desires after this world, unlooked for as by themselvesor their companions. Hence it is also that men do so wonder at such tidings as this.
There is such a one dead, such a one is departed; it is because they do so littleconsider both the transitoriness of themselves and their neighbours. For had theybut their thoughts well exercised about the shortness of this life, and the dangerthat will befall such as do miss of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would make them morewary and sober, and spend more time in the service of God, and be more delightedand diligent in inquiring after the Lord Jesus, who is the deliverer 'from the wrathto come' (1 Thess 1:10). For, as I said before, it is evident, that they who liveafter the flesh in the lusts thereof, do not really and seriously think on death,and the judgment that doth follow after: neither do they indeed endeavour so to do;for did they, it would make them say with holy Job, 'All the days of my appointedtime will I wait till my change come' (Job 14:14). And as I said before, that notonly the wicked, but also the godly have their time to depart this life. And thebeggar died. The saints of the Lord, they must be deprived of this life also, theymust yield up the ghost into the hands of the Lord their God; they must also be separatedfrom their wives, children, husbands, friends, goods, and all that they have in theworld. For God hath decreed it; it is appointed, namely, by the Lord, for men onceto die, and 'we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,' as it is, 2Corinthian 5:10, 11.
But it may be objected, if the godly do die as well as the wicked, and if the saintsmust appear before the judgment- seat as well as the sinners, then what advantagehave the godly more than the ungodly, and how can the saints be in a better conditionthan the wicked?
Answ. Read the 22d verse over again, and you will find a marvellous difference betweenthem, as much as is between heaven and hell, everlasting joy and everlasting torments;for you find, that when the beggar died, which represents the godly, he was carriedby the angels into Abraham's bosom, or into everlasting joy (Psa 1). But the ungodlyare not so, but are hurried by the devils into the bottomless pit, drawn away intheir wickedness (Prov 14:32), for he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'When the ungodly do die, their misery beginneth, for then appear the devils, likeso many lions, waiting every moment till the soul depart from the body. Sometimesthey are very visible to the dying party, but sometimes more invisible; but alwaysthis is certain, they never miss of the soul if it do die out of the Lord Jesus Christ;but do hale it away to the prison, as I said before, there to be tormented and reserveduntil that great and general day of judgment, at which day they must, body and soul,receive a final sentence from the righteous Judge, and from that time be shut outfrom the presence of God into everlasting woe and distress. But the godly, when thetime of their departure is at hand, then also are the angels of the Lord at hand;yea, they are ready waiting upon the soul to conduct it safe into Abraham's bosom.I do not say but the devils are ofttimes very busy doubtless, and attending the saintsin their sickness: ay, and no question but they would willingly deprive the soulof glory. But here is the comfort, as the devils come from hell to devour the soul,if it be possible, at its departure, so the angels of the Lord come from heaven,to watch over and conduct the soul, in spite of the devil, safe into Abraham's bosom.
David had the comfort of this, and speaks it forth for the comfort of his brethren(Psa 34:7), saying, 'The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him,and delivereth them.' Mark, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about his children,to deliver them. From what? From their enemies, of which the devil is not the least.This is an excellent comfort at any time, to have the holy angels of God to attenda poor man or woman; but especially it is comfortable in the time of distress, atthe time of death, when the devils beset the soul with all the power that hell canafford them. But now it may be, that the glorious angels of God do not appear atthe first, to the view of the soul; nay, rather hell stands before it, and the devilsready, as if they would carry it thither. But this is the comfort, the angels doalways appear at the last, and will not fail the soul, but will carry it safe intoAbraham's bosom. Ah friends, consider, here is an ungodly man upon his death- bed,and he hath none to speak for him, none to speak comfort unto him; but it is notso with the children of God, for they have the Spirit to comfort them. Here is theungodly, and they have no Christ to pray for their safe conduct to glory; but thesaints have an intercessor (John 17:9). Here is the world, when they die, they havenone of the angels of God to attend upon them; but the saints have their company.In a word, the unconverted person, when he dieth, he sinks into the bottomless pit;but the saints, when they die, do ascend with, and by the angels, into Abraham'sbosom, or into unspeakable glory (Luke 23:43).
Again, it is said, that the rich man when he died was buried or put into the earth;but when the beggar died, he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. Theone is a very excellent style, where he saith he was carried by angels into Abraham'sbosom: it denotes the excellent condition of the saints of God, as I said before;and not only so, but also the preciousness of the death of the saints in the eyesof the Lord (Psa 116:15). That after-generations may see how precious in the sightof the Lord the death of his saints is, when he saith they are carried by the angelsinto Abraham's bosom.
Thus many times the Lord adorneth the death and departure of his saints, to holdforth unto after-generations, how excellent they are in his eyes. It is said of Enoch,that God took him; of Abraham, that he died in a good old age; of Moses, that theLord buried him; of Elijah, that he was taken up into heaven; that the saints sleepin Jesus; that they die in the Lord; that they rest from their labour, that theirworks follow them; that they are under the altar; that they are with Christ; thatthey are in light; that they are to come with the Lord Jesus to judge the world.All which sayings signify thus much, that to die a saint is very great honour anddignity. But the ungodly are not so. The rich or ungodly die and are buried; he iscarried from his dwelling to the grave, and there he is buried, hid in the dust;and his body doth not so fast moulder and come to nought there, but his name dothstink as fast in the world, as saith the holy scripture: 'The name of the wickedshall rot' (Prov 10:7). And indeed, the names of the godly are not in so much honourafter their departure, but the wicked and their names do as much rot. What a dishonourto posterity was the death of Balaam, Agag, Ahithophel, Haman, Judas, Herod, withthe rest of their companions?
Thus the wicked have their names written in the earth, and they do perish and rot,and the name of the saints do cast forth a dainty savour to following generations;and that the Lord Jesus doth signify where he saith the godly are 'carried by theangels into Abraham's bosom'; and that the wicked are nothing worth, where he saiththe ungodly die and are buried.
Verse 23.– 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abrahamafar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
The former verse speaks only of the departure of the ungodly out of this life, togetherwith the glorious conduct that the godly have into the kingdom of their Father.Now our Lord doth show, in this verse, partly what doth and shall befal to the reprobateafter this life is ended, where he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Thatis, the ungodly, after they depart this life, do lift up their eyes in hell.
From these words may be observed these things, First. That there is a hell for soulsto be tormented in, when this life is ended. Mark, after he was dead and buried,'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Second. That all that are ungodly, and do live anddie in their sins, so soon as ever they die, they go into hell: he died and was buried;'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Third. That some are so fast asleep, and securein their sins, that they scarce know well where they are till they come into hell;and that I gather from these words, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' He was asleepbefore, but hell makes him lift up his eyes.
[First.] As I said before, it is evident that there is a hell for souls, yea, andbodies too, to be tormented in after they depart this life, as is clear, first, becausethe Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot lie, did say that after the sinner was dead andburied, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.'
Now if it be objected that by hell is here meant the grave, that I plainly deny:1. Because there the body is not sensible of torment or ease; but in that hell intowhich the spirits of the damned depart, they are sensible of torment, and would verywillingly be freed from it, to enjoy ease, which they are sensible of the want of;as is clearly discovered in this parable, 'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tipof his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' 2. It is not meant the grave, but someother place, because the bodies, so long as they lie there, are not capable of liftingup their eyes, to see the glorious condition of the children of God, as the soulsof the damned do. 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' 3. It cannot be the grave, forthen it must follow that the soul was buried there with the body, which cannot standwith such a dead state as is here mentioned; for he saith, 'The rich man died'; thatis, his soul was separated from his body. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
If it be again objected that there is no hell but in this life; that I do also deny,as I said before: after he was dead and buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.'And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art, that if thou close not in savinglywith the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on what he hath done and is doing in hisown person for sinners, thou wilt find such a hell after this life is ended, thatthou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever. And thou that art wanton, and dostmake but a mock at the servants of the Lord, when they tell thee of the tormentsof hell, thou wilt find that when thou departest out of this life, that hell, eventhe hell which is after this life, will meet thee in thy journey thither; and will,with its hellish crew, give thee such a sad salutation that thou wilt not forgetit to all eternity. When that scripture comes to be fulfilled on thy soul, in Isaiah14:9, 10, 'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirrethup the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up fromtheir thrones all the kings of the nations. All they,' that is, that are in hell,shall say, 'Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?' O sometimeswhen I have had but thoughts of going to hell, and consider the everlastingness oftheir ruin that fall in thither, it hath stirred me up rather to seek to the LordJesus Christ to deliver me from thence, than to slight it, and make a mock at it.'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Second.] The second thing I told you was this, that all the ungodly that live anddie in their sins, so soon as ever they depart this life, do descend into hell. Thisis also verified by the words in this parable, where Christ said, He 'died and wasburied, and in hell he lifted up his eyes.' As the tree falls, so it shall be, whetherit be to heaven or hell (Eccl 11:3). And as Christ said to the thief on the cross,'Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.' Even so the devil in the like manner maysay unto thy soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me in hell. See then what a miserablecase he that dies in an unregenerate state is in; he departs from a long sicknessto a longer hell; from the gripings of death, to the everlasting torments of hell.'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Ah friends! If you were but yourselves, youwould have a care of your souls; if you did but regard, you would see how mad theyare that slight the salvation of their souls. O what will it profit thy soul to havepleasure in this life, and torments in hell? (Mark 8:36). Thou hadst better partwith all thy sins, and pleasures, and companions, or whatsoever thou delightest in,than to have soul and body to be cast into hell. O then do not now neglect our LordJesus Christ, lest thou drop down to hell (Heb 2:3). Consider, would it not woundthee to thine heart to come upon thy death-bed, and instead of having the comfortof a well spent life, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with thecomforts of his glorious Spirit: to have, first, the sight of an ill-spent life,thy sins flying in thy face, thy conscience uttering itself with thunder-claps againstthee, the thoughts of God terrifying of thee, death with his merciless paw seizingupon thee, the devils standing ready to scramble for thy soul, and hell enlargingherself, and ready to swallow thee up; and an eternity of misery and torment attendingupon thee, from which there will be no release.
For mark, death doth not come alone to an unconverted soul, but with such company,as wast thou but sensible of it would make thee tremble. I pray consider that scripture(Rev 6:8), 'And I looked and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him wasDeath, and hell followed with him.' Mark, death doth not come alone to the ungodly,no, but hell goeth with him. O miserable comforters! O miserable society! Here comesdeath and hell unto thee. Death goeth into thy body, and separates body and soulasunder; hell stands without, as I may say, to embrace, or rather, to crush thy soulbetween its everlasting grinders. Then thy mirth, thy joy, thy sinful delights willbe ended when this comes to pass. Lo it will come. Blessed are all those that throughChrist Jesus his merits, by faith, do escape these soul-murdering companions. 'Andin hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Third.] The third thing you know that we did observe from these words was this,That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know wherethey are, until they come into hell. And that I told you I gather by these words,'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Mark, it was in hell that he lift up his eyes. Nowsome do understand by these words that he came to himself, or began to consider withhimself, or to think with himself in what an estate he was, and what he was deprivedof; which is still a confirmation of the thing laid down by me. There it is thatthey come to themselves, that is, there they are sensible where they are indeed.Thus it fares with some men that they scarce know where they are, till they liftup their eyes in hell. It is with those people as with those that fall down in aswoon; you know if a man do fall down in a swoon in one room, though you take himup and carry him into another, yet he is not sensible where he is till he comethunto himself, and lifteth up his eyes.
Truly thus, it is to be feared, it is with many poor souls, they are so senseless,so hard, so seared in their conscience (1 Tim 4:2), that they are very ignorant oftheir state; and when death comes it strikes them as it were into a swoon, especiallyif they die suddenly, and so they are hurried away, and scarce know where they aretill in hell they lift up their eyes: this is he who 'dieth in his full strength,being wholly at ease and quiet' (Job 21:23).
Of this sort are they spoken of in Psalm 73, where he saith, 'There are no bandsin their death: but their strength is firm.' 'They are not in trouble as other men,neither are they plagued like other men.' And again, 'they spend their days in wealth,and in a moment,' mark, 'in a moment,' before they are aware, they 'go down to thegrave' (Job 21:13).
Indeed this is too much known by woeful and daily experience; sometimes when we goto visit them that are sick in the towns and places where we live, O how senseless,how seared in their consciences are they! They are neither sensible of heaven norof hell, of sin nor of a Saviour; speak to them of their condition, and the stateof their souls, and you shall find them as ignorant as if they had no souls to regard.Others, though they lie ready to die, yet they are busying themselves about theiroutward affairs, as though they should certainly live here, even to live and enjoythe same for ever. Again, come to others, speak to them about the state of theirsouls, though they have no more experience of the new birth than a beast, yet willthey speak as confidently of their eternal state, and the welfare of their souls,as if they had the most excellent experience of any man or woman in the world, saying,'I shall have peace' (Deut 29:19). When, as I said even now, the Lord knows theyare as ignorant of the new birth, of the nature and operation of faith, of the witnessof the Spirit, as if there were no new birth, no faith, no witness of the Spiritof Christ in any of the saints in the world. Nay, thus many of them are, even anhour or less before their departure. Ah, poor souls! though they may go away herelike a lamb, as the world says, yet, if you could but follow them a little, to standand listen soon after their departure, it is to be feared, you should hear them roarlike a lion at their first entrance into hell, far worse than even did Korah, &c.,when they went down quick into the ground (Num 16:31-35).
Now, by this one thing doth the devil take great advantage on the hearts of the ignorant,suggesting unto them that because the party deceased departed so quietly, withoutall doubt they are gone to rest and joy; when, alas! it is to be feared the reasonwhy they went away so quietly, was rather because they were senseless and hardenedin their consciences; yea, dead before in sins and trespasses. For, had they hadbut some awakenings on their death-beds, as some have had, they would have made allthe town to ring of their doleful condition; but because they are seared and ignorant,and so depart quietly, therefore the world takes heart at grass, as we use tosay, and make no great matter of living and dying they cannot tell how; 'thereforepride compasseth them as a chain' (Psa 75:6). But let them look to themselves, forif they have not an interest in the Lord Jesus now, while they live in the world,they will, whether they die raging or still, go unto the same place; 'and liftedup their eyes in hell.'
O, my friends, did you but know what a miserable condition they are in that go outof this world without an interest in the Son of God, it would make you smite uponyour thigh, and in the bitterness of your souls cry out, 'Men and brethren, whatshall we do to be saved?' (Acts 16:29- 31). And not only so, but thou wouldst notbe comforted until thou didst find a rest for thy soul in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 23. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abrahamafar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
Something, in brief, I have observed from the first part of this verse, namely, fromthese words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' And, indeed, I have observed butsomething, for they are very full of matter, and many things might be taken noticeof in them. There is one thing more that I might touch upon, as touched in this saying,and that is this:–Methinks the Lord Jesus Christ doth hereby signify that men arenaturally unwilling to see or take notice of their sad state, I say by nature; butthough now they are willingly ignorant, yet in hell they shall lift up their eyes.That is, in hell they shall see and understand their miserable condition; and, therefore,to these words: 'In hell he lifted up his eyes,' he adds, 'being in torments.' Asif he had said, though once they shut their eyes, though once they were willinglyignorant (2 Peter 3:5), yet, when they depart into hell, they shall be so miserablyhandled and tormented, that they shall be forced to lift up their eyes. While menlive in this world, and are in a natural state, they will have a good conceit ofthemselves, and of their condition–they will conclude that they are Christians, thatAbraham is their father, and their state to be as good as the best (Matt 3:7-9).They will conclude they have faith, the Spirit, a good hope, and an interest in theLord Jesus Christ; but then, when they drop into hell, and lift up their eyes there,and behold first their soul to be in extreme torments; their dwelling to be the bottomlesspit; their company thousands of damned souls; also the innumerable company of devils;and the hot scalding vengeance of God, not only to drop, but to fall very violentlyupon them; then they will begin to be awakened, who all their lifetime where in adead sleep. I say, when this comes to pass, lo it will; then in hell they shall liftup their eyes, in the midst of torments they shall lift up their eyes.
Again, you may observe in these words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, beingin torments,' that the time of the ungodly men's smarting for their sins will bein the torments of hell. Now here I am put to a stand, when I consider the tormentsof hell into which the damned do fall. O unspeakable torments! O endless torments!Now that thy soul might be made to flee from those intolerable torments into whichthe damned do go, I shall show you briefly what are the torments of hell. First.By the names of it. Second. by the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.
First. The names. It is called a never-dying worm (Mark 9). It is called an ovenfire, hot (Mal 4:1). It is called a furnace, a fiery-furnace (Matt 13). It is calledthe bottomless pit, the unquenchable fire, fire and brimstone, hell fire, the lakeof fire, devouring fire, everlasting fire, eternal fire, a stream of fire (Rev 21).
[Second. By the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.]
1. One part of thy torments will be this, thou shalt have a full sight of all thyill spent life, from first to last; though here thou canst sin today and forget itby to-morrow, yet there thou shalt be made to remember how thou didst sin againstGod at such a time, and in such a place, for such a thing, and with such a one, whichwill be a hell unto thee. God will 'set them in order before thine eyes' (Psa 51:21).
2. Thou shalt have the guilt of them all lie heavy on thy soul, not only the guiltof one or two, but the guilt of them all together, and there they shall lie in thysoul, as if thy belly were full of pitch, and set on a light fire. Here men can sometimesthink on their sins with delight, but there with unspeakable torment; for that Iunderstand to be the fire that Christ speaketh of, which shall never be quenched(Mar 9:43-49). While men live here, O how doth the guilt of one sin sometimes crushthe soul! It makes a man in such plight that he is weary of his life, so that hecan neither rest at home nor abroad, neither up nor in bed. Nay, I do know thatthey have been so tormented with the guilt of one sinful thought, that they havebeen even at their wits' end, and have hanged themselves. But now when thou comestinto hell, and hast not only one or two, or an hundred sins, with the guilt of themall on thy soul and body, but all the sins that ever thou didst commit since thoucamest into the world, altogether clapped on thy conscience at one time, as one shouldclap a red hot iron to thy breasts, and there to continue to all eternity: this ismiserable.
3. Again, then thou shalt have brought into thy remembrance the slighting of thegospel of Christ; here thou shalt consider how willing Christ was to come into theworld to save sinners, and for what a trifle thou didst reject him. This is plainlyheld forth in Isaiah 28, where, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundationof salvation, verse 16, he saith of them that reject the gospel, that, when the overflowingscourge doth pass through the earth, which I understand to be at the end of the world,then, saith he, it shall take you morning by morning, by day and by night shall itpass over you; that is, continually, without any intermission. 'And it shall be avexation only to understand the report.' 'A vexation,' that is, a torment, or a greatpart of hell only to understand the report, to understand the good tidings that cameinto the world by Christ's death for poor sinners. And you will find this verilyto be the mind of the Spirit, if you compare it with Isaiah 53:1, where he speaksof men's turning their backs upon the tenders of God's grace in the gospel, he saith,'Who hath believed our report?' or the gospel declared by us? Now this will be amighty torment to the ungodly, when they shall understand the goodness of God wasso great that he even sent his Son out of his bosom to die for sinners, and yet thatthey should be so foolish as to put him off from one time to another; that they shouldbe so foolish as to lose heaven and Christ, and eternal life in glory, for the societyof a company of drunkards; that they should lose their souls for a little sport,for this world, for a strumpet, for that which is lighter than vanity and nothing;I say this will be a very great torment unto thee.
4. Another part of thy torment will be this: Thou shalt see thy friends, thy acquaintance,they neighbours; nay, it may be thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thychildren, thy brother, thy sister, with others, in the kingdom of heaven, and thyselfthrust out (Luke 13:28). 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shallsee Abraham (your father), and Isaac, and Jacob, (together with your brethren), andall the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out.' Nay, saithhe, 'they shall come from the east, and from the west'–that is, those that thou didstnever see in all thy life before, and they shall sit down with thy friends, and thyneighbours, thy wife and thy children, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou, for thysins and disobedience, shall be shut, nay, thrust out. O wonderful torment!
5. Again, thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls, with an innumerablecompany of devils, to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world, the verythoughts of the devils appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble, and thine hairready to stand upright on thy head. But O! what wilt thou do, when not only the suppositionof the devils appearing, but the real society of all the devils in hell will be withthee howling and roaring, screeching and roaring in such a hideous manner, that thouwilt be even at thy wits' end, and be ready to run stark mad again for anguish andtorment?
6. Again, that thou mightest be tormented to purpose, the mighty God of heaven willlay as great wrath and vengeance upon thee as ever he can, by the might of his gloriouspower. As I said before, thou shalt have his wrath, not by drops, but by whole showersshall it come, thunder, thunder, upon thy body and soul so fast, and so thick, thatthou shalt be tormented out of measure. And so saith the Scripture (2 Thess 1:9),speaking of the wicked, 'Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction fromthe presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,' when the saints shallbe admiring his goodness and glory. Again, this thou shalt have, as I said before,without any intermission; thou shalt not have any ease so long as while a man mayturn himself round; thou shalt have it always every hour, day and night; for theirworm never dies, but always gnaws, and their fire is never quenched; as it is writtenin Mark 9.
7. Again, in this condition thou must be for ever, and that is as sad as all therest. For if a man were to have all his sins laid to his charge, and communion withthe devils, and as much wrath as the great God of heaven can inflict unto him; Isay, if it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there wouldbe ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance; but here is thy misery, this is thystate for ever, here thou must be for ever: when thou lookest about thee, and seestwhat an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt thinkthis again, this is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousandyears as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the sea, or sands on the sea-shore,yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word EVER, how will it torment thysoul!
Friends, I have only given a very short touch of the torments of hell. O! I am set,I am set, and am not able to utter what my mind conceives of the torments of hell.Yet this let me say to thee, accept of God's mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ,lest thou feel THAT with thy conscience which I cannot express with my tongue, andsay, I am sorely tormented in this flame.
'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
When the damned are in this pitiful state, surrounded with fears, with terrors, withtorment and vengeance, one thing they shall have, which is this, they shall see thehappy and blessed state of God's children. He seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarusin his bosom; which, as I said before, is the happy state of the saints when thislife is ended. This now shall be so far from being an ease unto them, that it shallmost wonderfully aggravate or heighten their torment, as I said before. There shallbe weeping, or cause of lamentation, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, andJacob, in the kingdom of heaven, and themselves thrust out.
1. Observe, Those that die in their sins are far from going to heaven; he seeth Abrahamafar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And, indeed, it is just with God to deal withthem that die in their sins according to what they have done; and to make them whoare far from righteousness now, to stand far from heaven to all eternity. Hearkento this, ye stout- hearted, that are far from righteousness, and that are resolvedto go on in your sins, when you die you will be far from heaven; you will see Lazarus,but it will be afar off.
Again, he 'seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
These are some of the things the damned do behold, so soon as they come into torment.Mark, and he 'seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.' Lazarus, who was he? Why even hethat was so slighted, so disregarded, so undervalued by this ungodly one while hewas in the world, he seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.
From whence observe, That those who live and die the enemies of the saints of God,let them be never so great, or stout, let them bear never so much sway while theyare in the world, let them brag and boast never so much while they are here, theyshall, in spite of their teeth, see the saints, yea, the poor saints, even the Lazarusesor the ragged ones that belong to Jesus, to be in a better condition than themselves.O! who do you think was in the best condition? who do you think saw themselves inthe best condition? He that was in hell, or he that was in heaven? He that was indarkness, or he that was in light? He that was in everlasting joy, or he that wasin everlasting torments? The one with God, Christ, saints, angels, the other in tormentingflames, under the curse of God's eternal hatred, with the devils and their angels,together with an innumerable company of howling, roaring, cursing, ever- burningreprobates? Certainly, this observation will be easily proved to be true here inthis world, by him that looks upon it with an understanding heart, and will clearitself to be true in the world to come, by such as shall go either to heaven or tohell.
2. The second observation from these words, 'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarusin his bosom,' is this; they that are the persecutors of the saints of the Lord nowin this world, shall see the Lord's persecuted ones to be they that are so highlyesteemed by the Lord, as to sit or to be in Abraham's bosom, in everlasting glory,though they, the enemies to the children of God, did so lightly esteem them,that they scorned to let them gather up the dog's meat that falls under their table.This is also verified, and held forth plainly by this parable. And therefore be notgrieved, O you that are the tempted, persecuted, afflicted, sighing, praying saintsof the Lord, though your adversaries look upon you now with a disdainful, surly,rugged, proud, and haughty countenance, yet the time shall come when they shall spyyou in Abraham's bosom!
I might enlarge upon these things, but shall leave them to the Spirit of the Lord,which can better by ten thousand degrees enlarge them on thy heart and conscience,than I can upon a piece of paper. Therefore, leaving these to the blessing of theLord, I shall come to the next verse, and shall be brief in speaking to that also,and so pass to the rest.
Verse 24.– 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormentedin this flame.'
You know I told you that verse 22 is a discovery of the departure of the godly andthe ungodly out of this life; where he saith the beggar died, and the rich man alsodied. The 23d verse is a discovery of the proper places, both of the godly and theungodly after death; one being in Abraham's bosom, or in glory, the other in hell.Now this 24th verse is a discovery of part of the too late repentance of the ungodly,when they are dropped down into hell; 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, havemercy on me.' From these words, 'And he cried,' we may observe,
First. What a change the ungodly will have when they come into hell. 'He cried.'It is like he was laughing, jesting, jeering, drinking, mocking, swearing, cursing,prating, persecuting of the godly in his prosperity, among his filthy companions.But now the case is otherwise, now he is in another frame, now his proud, stout,currish carriage, is come down; 'And he cried.' The laughter of the ungodly willnot last always, but will be sure to end in a cry; 'The triumphing of the wickedis short' (Job 20:5). Consider, you must have a change either here or in hell. Ifyou be not new creatures, regenerate persons, new-born babes, in this world, beforeyou go hence, your note will be changed, your conditions will be changed; for ifyou come into hell, you must cry. O did but the singing drunkards, when they aremaking merry on the ale bench, think on this, it would make them change theirnote, and cry, What shall I do? Whither shall I go when I die? But, as I said before,the devil, as he labours to get poor souls to follow their sins, so he labours alsoto keep the thoughts of eternal damnation out of their minds; and, indeed, thesetwo things are so nearly linked together, that the devil cannot well get the soulto go on in sin with delight unless he can keep the thoughts of that terrible afterclap out of their minds.
But let them know that it shall not always be thus with them; for if, when they depart,they drop down into eternal destruction, they shall have such a sense of their sins,and the punishment due to the same, that it shall make them to cry; 'And he cried.'O what an alteration will there be among the ungodly when they go out of this world?It may be a fortnight, or a month before their departure, they were light, stout,surly, drinking themselves drunk, slighting God's people, mocking at goodness, anddelighting in sin, following the world, seeking after riches, faring deliciously,keeping company with the bravest; but now, they are dropped down into hell, theycry. A little while ago they were painting their faces, feeding their lusts, followingtheir whores, robbing their neighbours, telling of lies, following of plays and sports,to pass away the time; but now they are in hell, they do cry. It may be last yearthey heard some good sermons, were invited to receive heaven, were told their sinsshould be pardoned if they closed in with Jesus; but, refusing his proffers, andslighting the grace that was once tendered, they are now in hell, and do cry.
Before, they had so much time, they thought that they could not tell how to spendit, unless it were in hunting, and whoring, in dancing, and playing, and spendingwhole hours, yea, days, nay, weeks, in the lusts of the flesh; but when they departinto another place, and begin to lift up their eyes in hell, and consider their miserableand irrecoverable condition, they will cry.
O what a condition wilt thou fall into, when thou dost depart this world; if thoudepart unconverted, and not born again, thou hadst better have been smothered thefirst hour thou wast born; thou hadst better have been plucked one limb from another;thou hadst better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, nay, any other creaturein the visible world, than to die unconverted; and this thou wilt find to betrue, when in hell thou dost lift up thine eyes, and dost cry.
Here then, before we go any further, you may see that it is not without good groundthat these words are here spoken by our Lord, that when any of the ungodly do departinto hell, they will cry. Cry, why so? 1. They will cry to think that they shouldbe cut off from the land of the living, never more to have any footing therein. 2.They will cry to think that the gospel of Christ should be so often proffered them,and yet they are not profited by it. 3. They will cry to think that now, though theywould never so willingly repent and be saved, yet they are past all recovery. 4.They will cry to think that they should be so foolish as to follow their pleasures,when others were following of Christ (Luke 13:28). 5. They will cry to think thatthey must be separated from God, Christ, and the kingdom of heaven, and that forever. 6. To think that their crying will now do them no good. 7. To think that, atthe day of judgment, they must stand at the left hand of Christ, among an innumerablecompany of the damned ones. 8. They will cry to think that Lazarus, whom once theyslighted, must be of them that must sit down with Christ to judge; or together withChrist, to pass a sentence of condemnation on their souls for ever and ever (1 Cor6:2,3). 9. Cry to think that when the judgment is over, and others are taken intothe everlasting kingdom of glory, then they must depart back again into that dungeonof darkness from whence they came out, to appear before the terrible tribunal. Therethey shall be tormented so long as eternity lasts, without the least intermissionor ease.
How sayest thou, O thou wanton, proud, swearing, lying, ungodly wretch, whether thisbe to be slighted and made a mock at. And again tell me now, if it be not betterto leave sin, and to close in with Christ Jesus, notwithstanding that reproach thoushalt meet with for so doing, than to live a little while in this world in pleasuresand feeding thy lusts, in neglecting the welfare of thy soul, and refusing to bejustified by Jesus; and in a moment to drop down to hell and to cry? O! consider,I say, consider betimes, and put not off the tenders of the grace of our Lord JesusChrist, lest you lift up your eyes in hell, and cry for anguish of spirit.
'And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,' &c.
[Second.] These words do not only hold forth the lamentable condition of the damned,and their lamentable howling and crying out under their anguish of spirit, but alsothey do signify to us, as I said before, their too late repentance; and also thatthey would very willingly, if they might, be set at liberty from that everlastingmisery that by their sins they have plunged themselves into. I say, these words dohold forth a desire that the damned have, to be delivered from those torments thatthey now are in: O 'Father Abraham,' saith he, 'have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormentedin this flame.' These words, 'Father Abraham,' may have some difficulty in them.It is possible that some may think them to be meant of Abraham; and those, or himthat crieth out here, to be the Jews. Or it may be some may understand it to be God,or Jesus Christ his Son, which I rather suppose it may be, that is here cried outunto; because you find the same cry to him as it were uttered by the ungodly in otherplaces of the Scripture; as in Luke 13:25, 26. Then shall they say, 'Lord, Lord,we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.' Naymore, 'In thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works'(Matt 7:22). This was just at their rejection. And again, in Matthew 25:11, theycry again to him, even to Jesus, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' And he there again givesthem a repulse, as also in this parable.
But however or whosoever Abraham is, yet these truths may be observed from the words.1. That the damned, when in an irrecoverable estate, will seek for, or desire deliverancefrom the wrath that they are and shall be in for eternity. 'Surely in the floodsof great waters they shall not come nigh unto him' (Psa 32:6). 2. That they willpray, if I may so call it, earnestly for deliverance from their miserable estate.These two things are clear from the words. For mark, he not only said, 'Father Abraham,have mercy on me'; but 'he CRIED,' and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me.'3. From whence take a third observation; and that is, there is a time coming wherein,though men shall both cry and pray, yet they are like to have no mercy at the handsof God; for so was this man served, as I shall further show by and by when I cometo it.
Some people are so deluded by the devil as to think that God is so merciful as toown or regard anything for prayer; they think anything will go for current and goodsatisfaction, while they are here in this world, through ignorance of the true natureof the mercy of God, and the knowledge in what way God is satisfied for sinners.Now I say, through ignorance they think, that if they do but mutter over some formof prayers, though they know not what they say, nor what they request, yet Godis satisfied, yea, very well satisfied with their doings; when, alas! there is nothingless. O friends, I beseech you to look about you, and seek in good earnest for theSpirit of Christ so to help you now, to strive and pray, and to enable you to layhold of Christ, that your souls may be saved, lest the time come that though youcry and pray, and wish also that you had laid hold on the Lord Jesus, yet you mustand shall be damned.
Then again, you may see that though God be willing to save sinners at some time,yet this time doth not always last. No, he that can find in his heart to turn hisback upon Jesus Christ now, shall have the back turned upon him hereafter, when hemay cry and pray for mercy, and yet go without it. God will have a time to meet withthem that now do not seek after him. They shall have a time, yea time enough hereafterto repent their folly, and to befool themselves, for turning their backs upon theLord Jesus Christ. 'I will laugh at your calamity,' saith he, and 'mock when yourfear cometh' (Prov 1:26).
Again, this should admonish us to take time while it is proffered, lest we repentus of our unbelief and rebellion when we are deprived of it. Ah friends! Time isprecious, an hour's time to hear a sermon is precious. I have sometimes thought thuswith myself, Set the case, the Lord should send two or three of his servants, theministers of the gospel, to hell among the damned, with this commission; Go ye tohell, and preach my grace to those that are there. Let your sermon be an hour long,and hold forth the merits of my Son's birth, righteousness, death, resurrection,ascension, and intercession, with all my love in him, and proffer it to them, tellingthem that now once more, and but once, do I proffer the means of reconciliation tothem. They who are now roaring, being past hope, would then leap at the least profferof mercy. O they that could spend whole days, weeks, nay, years, in rejecting theSon of God, would now be glad of one tender of that mercy. 'Father,' saith he, 'havemercy on me.'
Again, from these words you may observe, that mercy would be welcome when souls areunder judgment. Now his soul is in the fire, now he is under the wrath of God, nowhe is in hell, there to be tormented; now he is with the devils and damned spirits;now he feels the vengeance of God. Now, O now, have mercy on me! Here you may see,that mercy is prized by them that are in hell, they would be glad if they could haveit. Father, have mercy on me; for my poor soul's sake, send me a little mercy.
'And send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
[Third.] These words do not only hold forth that the ungodly have a desire of mercy,but what those mercies are, what these poor creatures would be glad of. As, 1. tohave the company of a Lazarus granted to them. Father Abraham, have mercy on me,and send Lazarus. Now Lazarus was he that was beloved of God, and also he that washated of them. Therefore, 2. Observe, that those saints, that the world in theirlifetime could not endure, now they are departed, they would be glad to have societywith them. O now send Lazarus! Though the time was when I cared not for him, yetnow let me have some society with him.
Though the world disregard the society of God's children now, yet there is a timecoming in which they would be glad to have the least company with them. Nay, do butobserve, those of the saints that are now most rejected by them, even from them shallthey be glad of comfort, if it might be. Send Lazarus; he that I slighted more thanmy dogs, he that I could not endure should come into my house, but must lie at mygate, send him. Now Lazarus shall be welcome to me, now do I desire some comfortfrom him; but he shall go without it.
From whence again observe, that there is a time coming, O ye surly dogged persecutorsof the saints, that they shall slight you as much as ever you slighted them. Youhave given them many an hard word, told many a lie of them, given them many a blow.And now in your greatest need and extremity they shall not pity you, the righteousshall rather 'rejoice when he seeth the vengeance' of God upon thee (Psa 58:10).
Again, Send Lazarus. From whence observe, that any of the saints shall then be ownedby you to be saints. Now you look upon them to be the sect with Hymeneus and Philetus,but then you shall see them to be the Lazaruses of God, even God's dear children.Though now the saints of the Lord will not be owned by you, because they are beggarly,low, poor, contemptible among you; yet the day is coming that you shall own them,desire their company, and wish for the least courtesy from them.
'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue;for I am tormented in this flame.'
Thus shall the souls that abide in their sins cry out in the bitterness of theirspirits, with wonderful anguish and torment of conscience, without intermission;'That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' That he, namely,the man who before I scorned should eat with the dogs of my flock, that before Islighted and had no regard of, that I shut out of door; send him, 'that he may dipthe tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
Now these words, 'that he may dip the tip of his finger in water,' &c., do holdforth the least friendship or favour; as if he should have said, Now I would be gladof the least mercy, now I would be glad of the least comfort, though it be but onedrop of cold water on the tip of his finger. One would have thought that this hadbeen a small request, a small courtesy–ONE DROP OF WATER–what is that? Take a pailfull of it if that will do thee any good. But mark, he is not permitted to have somuch as one drop, not so much as a man may hold upon the tip of his finger; thissignifies that they that fall short of Christ shall be tormented even as long aseternity lasteth, and shall not have so much as the least ease, no not so long aswhile a man may turn himself round, not so much leave as to swallow his spittle,not a drop of cold water.
O that these things did take place in your hearts, how would it make you to seekafter rest for your souls before it be too late, before the sun of the gospel beset upon you! Consider, I say, the misery of the ungodly that they shall be in, andavoid their vices, by closing in with the tenders of mercy; lest you partake of thesame portion with them, and cry out in the bitterness of your souls, One drop ofcold water to cool my tongue.
'For I am tormented in this flame.'
Indeed, the reason why the poor world does not so earnestly desire for mercy, ispartly because they do not so seriously consider the torment that they must certainlyfall into if they die out of Christ. For let me tell you, did but poor souls indeedconsider that wrath, that doth by right fall to their shares because of their sinsagainst God, they would make more haste to God through Christ for mercy than theydo; then we should have them say, It is good closing with Christ to-day, before wefall into such distress.
But why is it said, Let him 'dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue?'Because that, as the several members in the body have their share in sin, and committingof that, so the several members of the body shall at that time be punished for thesame. Therefore, when Christ is admonishing his disciples, that they should not turnaside from him, and that they should rather fear and dread the power of their Godthan any other power, he saith, 'Fear him,' therefore, that can cast both body andsoul into hell (Luke 12:4). And again, 'Fear him which is able to destroy both souland body in hell' (Matt 10:28). Here is not one member only, but all the body, thewhole body of which the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongue are members. And I ampersuaded, that though this may be judged carnal by some now, yet it will appearto be a truth then, to the greater misery of those who shall be forced to undergothat which God, in his just judgment, shall inflict upon them. O then they will cry,One dram of ease for my cursing, swearing, lying, jeering tongue. Some ease for mybragging, braving, flattering, threatening, dissembling tongue. Now men can let theirtongues run at random, as we used to say; now they will be apt to say, Our tonguesare our own, who shall control them? (Psa 12:4). But then they will be in anothermind. Then, O that I might have a little ease for my deceitful tongue? Methinks sometimesto consider how some men do let their tongues run at random, it makes me marvel.Surely they do not think they shall be made to give an account for their offendingwith their tongue. Did they but think they shall be made to give an account to himwho is ready to judge the quick and the dead, surely they would be more wary of,and have more regard unto their tongue.
'The tongue,' saith James, 'is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison'; 'it settethon fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell' (James 2). The tongue,how much mischief will it stir up in a very little time! How many blows and woundsdoth it cause! How many times doth it, as James saith, curse man! How oft is thetongue made the conveyer of that hellish poison that is in the heart, both to thedishonour of God, the hurt of its neighbours, and the utter ruin of its own soul!And do you think the Lord will sit still, as I may say, and let thy tongue run asit lists, and yet never bring you to an account for the same? No, stay. The Lordwill not always keep silence, but will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order beforethine eyes, O sinner. Yea, and thy tongue, together with the rest of thy members,shall be tormented for sinning. And I say, I am very confident, that though thisbe made light of now, yet the time is coming when many poor souls will rue the daythat ever they did speak with a tongue. O, will one say, that I should so disregardmy tongue! O that I, when I said so and so, had before bitten off my tongue! ThatI had been born without a tongue! my tongue, my tongue, a little water to cool mytongue, for I am tormented in this flame; even in that flame that my tongue, togetherwith the rest of my members, by sinning, have brought me to. Poor souls now willlet their tongues say anything for a little profit, for two- pence or three-pencegain. But, O what a grief will this be at that day when they, together with theirtongue, must smart for that which they by their tongues have done while they werein this world. Then, you that love your souls, look to your tongues, lest you bindyourselves down so fast to hell with the sins of your tongues, that you will neverbe able to get loose again to all eternity. 'For by thy words thou shalt be condemned,'if thou have not a care of thy tongue. For 'I say unto you, That every idle wordthat men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt12:36).
Verse 25.– 'But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedstthy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thouart tormented.'
These words are the answer to the request of the damned. The verse before, as I toldyou, is a discovery of the desires they have after they depart this world. Here isthe answer, 'Son, remember,' &c.
The answer signifies this much, that, instead of having any relief or ease they arehereby the more tormented, and that by fresh recollections, or by bringing afreshtheir former ill- spent life, while in the world, into their remembrance. Son, rememberthou hadst good things in thy lifetime; as much as if he had said, Thou art now sensiblewhat it is to lose thy soul; thou art now sensible what it is to put off repentance;thou art now sensible that thou hast befooled thyself, in that thou didst spend thattime in seeking after outward, momentary, earthly things, which thou shouldest havespent in seeking to make Jesus Christ sure to thy soul; and now, through thy anguishof spirit, in the pains of hell thou wouldst enjoy that which in former time thoudidst make light of; but alas! thou art here beguiled and altogether disappointed,thy crying will now avail thee nothing at all; this is not the acceptable time (2Cor 6:2). This is not a time to answer the desires of damned reprobates; if thouhadst cried out in good earnest whilst grace was offered, much might have been; butthen thou wast careless, and didst turn the forbearance and goodness of God intowantonness. Wast thou not told, that those who would not hear the Lord when he didcall, should not be heard, if they turned away from him, when they did call. Butcontrariwise he would laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear did come(Prov 1:24-28).
Now, therefore, instead of expecting the least drop of mercy and favour, call intothy mind how thou didst spend those days which God did permit thee to live; I say,remember that in thy lifetime thou didst behave thyself rebelliously against theLord, in that thou wert careless of his word and ordinances, yea, and of the welfareof thine own soul also. Therefore, now I say, instead of expecting or hoping forany relief, thou must be forced to call to remembrance thy filthy ways, and feedupon them, to thine everlasting astonishment and confusion.
From these words, therefore, which say, 'Remember that thou in thy life-time receivedstTHY GOOD THINGS,' there are these things to be taken notice of,
First. They that, by putting off repentance and living in their sins, lose theirsouls, shall, instead of having the least measure of comfort when they come intohell, have their ill-spent life always very fresh in their remembrance. While theylive here they can sin and forget it, but when they depart they shall have it beforethem; they shall have a remembrance, or their memory notably enlightened, and a clearer,and a continual sight of all their wicked practices that they wrought and did whilethey were in the world. 'Son, remember,' saith he; then you will be made to remember:1. How you were born in sin, and brought up in the same. 2. Remember how thou hadstmany a time the gospel preached to thee for taking away of the same, by him whomthe gospel doth hold forth. 3. Remember that out of love to thy sins and lusts, thoudidst turn thy back on the tenders of the same gospel of good tidings and peace.4. Remember that the reason why thou didst lose thy soul, was because thou didstnot close in with free grace, and the tenders of a loving and free-hearted JesusChrist. 5. Remember how near thou wast to turning at such and such a time, only thouwast willing to give way to thy lusts when they wrought; to drunkards when they called;to pleasures when they proffered themselves; to the cares and incumbrances of theworld, which, like so many thorns, did choke that or those convictions that wereset on thy heart. 6. Remember how willing thou wast to satisfy thyself with a hypocrite'shope, and with a notion of the things of God, without the real power and life ofthe same. 7. Remember how thou, when thou wast admonished to turn, didst put offturning and repenting till another time. 8. Remember how thou didst dissemble atsuch a time, lie at such a time, cheat thy neighbour at such a time, mock, flout,scoff, taunt, hate, persecute, the people of God at such a time, in such a place,among such company. 9. Remember that while others were met together in the fear ofthe Lord to seek him, thou wast met with a company of vain companions to sin againsthim; whilst the saints were a praying, thou wert a cursing; while they were speakinggood of the name of God, thou wast speaking evil of the saints of God. O then thoushalt have a scalding hot remembrance of all thy sinful thoughts, words, and actions,from the very first to the last of them that ever thou didst commit in all thy life-time.Then thou wilt find that scripture to be a truth, 'The Lord shall give thee therea trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hangin doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assuranceof thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! for the fearof thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thoushalt see' (Deut 28:65-67). Nay, thou wilt find worse things to thy woe than thisscripture doth manifest. For, indeed, there is no tongue able to express the horror,terror, torment, and eternal misery that those poor souls shall undergo, withoutthe least mitigation of ease, and a very great part of it shall come from that quick,full, and continual remembrance of their sins that they shall have. And, therefore,there is much weight in these words, 'Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedstthy good things.'
From these words you see this is to be observed, That the ungodly shall remember,or have in remembrance, the misspending their lives; 'Remember that in thy lifetimethou receivedst thy good things.' You may take these words, good things, either simplyfor the things of this world, which in themselves are called, and may be called goodthings; or else with these words, namely, the things of this life, all the pleasures,delights, profits, and vanities, which the ignorant people of the world do counttheir good things, and do very much cheer themselves therewith. Soul, soul, eat,drink, and be merry; for thou hast much goods laid up for many years (Luke 12:19,20).Now I say, God, according to his glorious power and wisdom, will make poor creatureshave always in their minds a fresh and clear remembrance of their ill-spent life;he will say unto them, Remember, remember, that in thy lifetime it was thus and thuswith thee, and in thy lifetime thy carriage was so and so.
If sinners might have their choice, they would not have their sins and transgressionsso much in the remembrance, as it is evident by their carriages here in this world;for they will not endure to entertain a serious thought of their filthy life, they'put far away the evil day' (Amos 6:3; Eze 12:27); but will labour by all means toput the thoughts of it out of their mind; but there they shall be made to rememberto purpose, and to think continually of their ungodly deeds. And therefore it issaid, that when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to judgment, it will be to convince theungodly world of their wicked and ungodly deeds; mark, 'to convince' them (Jude 14,15).They will not willingly take notice of them now. But then they shall hereafter, inspite of their teeth. And also, between this and then, these that die out of Christshall be made to see, acknowledge, and confess, do what they can, when they liftup their eyes in hell, and remember their transgressions. God will be a swift witnessagainst them (Mal 3:5), and will say, Remember that thou didst in thy lifetime, howthou didst live in thy lifetime. Ha, friend! if thou dost not in these days of light'remember the days of darkness' (Eccl 11:8), the days of death, hell, and judgment,thou shalt be made in the days of darkness, death, hell, and at the judgment too,to remember the days of the gospel, and how thou didst disregard them too, to thyown destruction, and everlasting misery. This is intimated in that 25th of St. Matthew.
'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.'
The great God, instead of giving the ungodly any ease, will even aggravate theirtorments; first, by slighting their perplexities, and by telling of them what theymust be thinking of. Remember, saith he, O ye lost souls, that you had your joy inyour lifetime, your peace in your lifetime, your comforts, delights, ease, wealth,health, your heaven, your happiness, and your portion in your lifetime.
O miserable state! Thou wilt then be in a sad condition indeed, when thou shalt seethat thou hast had thy good things, thy best things, thy pleasant things; for thatis clearly signified by these words, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedstthy good things,' or all the good things thou art like to have.
Second. From whence take notice of another truth, though it be a dreadful one, whichis this; there are many poor creatures, who have all their good, sweet, and comfortablethings in this life, or while they are alive in this world; 'Remember,' saith he,'that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things' (Psa 17:14).
The wicked's good things will shortly have an end; they will last no longer withthem than this life, or their lifetime. That scripture was not written in vain; itis like the crackling of thorns under a pot, make a little blaze for a sudden, alittle heat for a while; but come and consider them by and by, and instead of a comfortableheat, you will find nothing but a few dead ashes; and instead of a flaming fire,nothing but a smell of smoke.
There is a time coming, that the ungodly would be glad of a better portion, whenthey shall see the vanity of this, that is, when they shall see what a poor thingit is for a man to have his portion in this world. It is true, while they are hereon this side hell, they think there is nothing to be compared with riches, honours,and pleasures in this world; which makes them cry out, 'Who will shew us any good?'(Psa 4:6). That is comparable to the pleasures, profits, and glory of this world?But then they will see there is another thing that is better, and of more value thanten thousand worlds. And seriously, friends, will it not grieve you, trouble, perplex,and torment you, when you shall see that you lost heaven for a little pleasure andprofit in your lifetime? Certainly, it will grieve you and perplex you exceedingly,to see what a blessed heaven you left for a dunghill-world. O! that you did but believethis! that you did but consider this, and say within yourselves, What! shall I becontented with my portion in this world! what! shall I lose heaven for this world!I say, consider it while you have day-light, and gospel-light, while the Son of Goddoth hold out terms of reconciliation to you, lest you be made to hear such a voiceas this is, 'Son, remember that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things';thy comforts, thy joys, thy ease, thy peace, and all the heaven thou art like tohave. O poor heaven! O short pleasures!
What a pitiful thing it is to be left in such a case? Soul, consider, is it not miserableto lose heaven for twenty, thirty, or forty years' sinning against God? When thylife is done, thy heaven is also done? when death comes to separate thy soul andbody, in that day also thou must have thy heaven and happiness separated from thee,and thou from that. Consider these things betimes, lest thou have thy portion inthy lifetime. 'For if in this life only we have hope,' our portion, 'we are of allmen most miserable' (1 Cor 15:19). Again consider, that when other men, the saints,are to receive their good things, then thou hast had thine. When others are to enterinto joy, then thou art to leave and depart from thy joy. When others are to go toGod, thou must go to the devil. O miserable! Thou hadst better thou hadst never beenborn, than to be an heir of such a portion; therefore, I say, have a care it be notthy condition.
'Remember that thou receivedst thy good things, and LAZARUS EVIL THINGS.'
These words do not only hold forth the misery of the wicked in this life, but alsogreat consolation to the saints; where he saith, 'And Lazarus evil things'; thatis, Lazarus had his evil things in his lifetime, or when he was in the world. Fromwhence observe,
1. That the life of the saints, so long as they are in this world, is attended withmany evils or afflictions; which may be discovered to be of divers natures; as saiththe Scripture, 'Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord deliverethhim out of them all' (Psa 34:19).
2. Take notice, that the afflictions or evils that accompany the saints, may continuewith them their lifetime, so long as they live in this vale of tears; yea, and theymay be divers, that is, of several sorts; some outward, some inward, and that aslong as they shall continue here below, as hath been the experience of all saintsin all ages; and this might be proved at large, but I only hint in these things,although I might enlarge much upon them.
3. The evils that do accompany the saints will continue with them no longer thantheir lifetime; and here indeed lies the comfort of believers, the Lazaruses, thesaints, they must have all their bitter cup wrung out to them in their lifetime.Here must be all their trouble, here must be all their grief; Behold, saith Christ,'the world shall rejoice, but ye shall lament; but your mourning' shall, mark, it'shall be turned into joy' (John 16:20). You shall lament, you shall be sorrowful,you shall weep in your lifetime; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy, and yourjoy no man, let him be what he will, no man shall take away from you. Now if youthink, when I say the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, that Imean, they have nothing else but trouble in this their lifetime, this is your mistake.For let me tell you, that though the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime,yet even in their lifetime they have also joy unspeakable, and full of glory, whilethey look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen.The joy that the saints have sometimes in their heart, by a believing considerationof the good things to come, when this life is ended, doth fill them fuller of joy,than all the crosses, troubles, temptations, and evils, that accompany them in thislife can fill them with grief (2 Cor 4).
But some saints may say, My troubles are such as are ready to overcome me. Answ.Yet be of good comfort, they shall last no longer than thy lifetime. But my troubleis, I am perplexed with a heart full of corruption and sin, so that I am much hinderedin walking with God. Answ. It is like so, but thou shalt have these troubles no longerthan thy lifetime. But I have a cross husband, and that is a great grief to me. Well,but thou shalt be troubled with him no longer than thy lifetime, and therefore benot dismayed, be not discomforted, thou shalt have no trouble longer than this lifetime.Art thou troubled with cross children, cross relations, cross neighbours? They shalltrouble thee no longer than this lifetime.
Art thou troubled with a cunning devil, with unbelief; yea, let it be what it will,thou shalt take thy farewell of them all, if thou be a believer, after thy lifetimeis ended. O! excellent! 'Then God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes; and thereshall be no more death nor sorrow, neither crying, nor any more pain; for the formerthings are passed away' (Rev 21:4). But now on the contrary, if thou be not a rightand sound believer; then, though thou shouldest live a thousand years in this world,and meet with sore afflictions every day, yet these afflictions, be they never sogreat and grievous, they are nothing to that torment that will come upon thee, bothin soul and in body, after this life is ended.
I say, be what thou wilt, if thou be found in unbelief, or under the first covenant,thou are sure to smart for it at the time when thou dost depart this world. But thething to be lamented is, for all this is so sad a condition to be fallen into, yetpoor souls are, for the most part, senseless of it, yea, so senseless, at some times,as though there was no such misery to come hereafter. Because the Lord doth not immediatelystrike with his sword, but doth bear long with his creature, waiting that he mightbe gracious. Therefore, I say, the hearts of some of the sons of men are wholly setupon it to do mischief (Eccl 8:11). And that forbearance and goodness of God, thatone would think should lead them to repentance; the devil hardening of them, by theircontinuing in sin, and by blinding their eyes, as to the end of God's forbearancetowards then, they are led away with a very hardened and senseless heart, even untilthey drop into eternal destruction.
But poor hearts, they must have a time in which they must be made sensible of theirformer behaviors, when the just judgments of the Lord shall flame about their ears,insomuch, that they shall be made to cry out again with anguish, I am sorely 'tormentedin this flame.'
'But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.' As if he should say, Now hathGod recompensed both Lazarus and you, according to what you sought after while youwere in this world. As for your part, you did neglect the precious mercy and goodnessof God, you did turn your back on the Son of God, that came into the world to savesinners; you made a mock of preaching the gospel; you was admonished over and over,to close in with the loving kindness of the Lord, in his Son Jesus Christ. The Lordlet you live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years; all which time you, insteadof spending it 'to make your calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10), did spendit in making of eternal damnation sure to thy soul (Job 21:29,30). And also Lazarus,he in his lifetime did make it his business to accept of my grace and salvation inthe Lord Jesus Christ. When thou wast in the ale-house, he frequented the word preached;when thou wert jeering at goodness, he was sighing to the sins of the times (Eccl9:4-6). While thou wert swearing, he was praying; in a word, while thou wert makingsure of eternal ruin, he, by faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, was makingsure of eternal salvation. Therefore, 'Now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.'
Here, then, you may see, that as the righteous shall not be always void of comfortand blessedness; so neither shall the ungodly go always without their punishment.As sure as God is in heaven, it will be thus. They must have their several portions.And, therefore, you that are the saints of the Lord, follow on, be not dismayed,forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). Yourportion is eternal glory. And you that are so loth now to close in with Jesus Christ,and to leave your sins to follow him, your 'day is coming' (Psa 37:13), in whichyou shall know, that your sweet morsels of sin, that you do so easily take down (Job20:12-14), and it scarce troubles you, will have a time so to work within you toyour eternal ruin, that you will be in a worse condition than if you had ten thousanddevils tormenting of you. Nay, you had better have been plucked limb from limb athousand times, if it could be, than to be partakers of this torment that will, assuredlywithout mercy, lie upon you.
Verse 26.– 'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed;so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass tous, that would come from thence.'
These words are still part of that answer, that the souls in hell shall have forall their sobbings, sighings, grievous cries, tears, and desires, that they have,to be released out of those intolerable pains they feel, and are perplexed with.And O! methinks the words at the first view, if rightly considered, are enough tomake any hard-hearted sinner in the world to fall down dead. The verse I last spaketo was and is a very terrible one, and aggravates the torments of poor sinners wonderfully.Where he saith, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, andLazarus evil things,' &c. I say, these words are very terrible to those poorsouls that die out of Christ. But these latter words do much more hold out theirsorrow. They were spoken as to the present condition then upon the sinner. Thesedo not only back the former, but do yet further aggravate their misery, holding forththat which will be more intolerable. The former verse is enough to smite any sinnerinto a swoon, but this is to make him fall down dead. Where he saith, 'And besideall this.' There is still something to aggravate thy misery yet far more abundantly.I shall briefly speak to the words as they have relation to the terror spoken ofin the verses before. As if he had said, Thou thinkest thy present state unsupportable,it makes thee sob and sigh, it makes thee to rue the time that ever thou wert born.Now thou findest the want of mercy; now thou wouldst leap at the least dram of it:now thou feelest what it is to slight the tenders of the grace of God; now it makesthee to sob, sigh, and roar exceedingly for the anguish that thou art in. 'But besideall this,' I have other things to tell thee of, that will break thine heart indeed.Thou art now deprived of a being in the world; thou art deprived of hearing the gospel;the devil hath been too hard for thee, and hath made thee miss of heaven; thou artnow in hell among an innumerable company of devils, and all thy sins beset thee round;thou art all over wrapped in flames, and canst not have one drop of water to givethee any ease; thou criest in vain, for nothing will be granted. Thou seest the saintsin heaven, which is no small trouble to thy damned soul; thou seest that neitherGod nor Christ takes any care to ease thee, or speak any comfort unto thee. 'Butbeside all this,' there thou art, and there thou art like to lie, never think ofany ease, never look for any comfort; repentance now will do thee no good, the timeis past, and can never be called again, look what thou hast now, thou must have forever.
It is true, I spoke enough before to break thine heart asunder; 'But beside all this,'there lie and swim in flames for ever. These words, 'Beside all this,' are terriblewords indeed. I will give you the scope of them in a similitude. Set the case youshould take a man, and tie him to a stake, and with red-hot pinchers, pinch off hisflesh by little pieces for two or three years together, and at last, when the poorman cries out for ease and help, the tormentors answer, Nay, 'but beside all this,'you must be handled worse. We will serve you thus these twenty years together, andafter that we will fill your mangled body full of scalding lead, or run you throughwith a red-hot spit; would not this be lamentable? Yet this is but a flea-bitingto the sorrow of those that go to hell; for if a man were served so there would,ere it were long, be an end of him. But he that goes to hell shall suffer ten thousandtimes worse torments than these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them. Therethey shall be ever whining, pining, weeping, mourning, ever tormented without ease;and yet never dissolved into nothing. If the biggest devil in hell might pull theeall to pieces, and rend thee small as dust, and dissolve thee into nothing, thouwouldst count this a mercy. But here thou mayst lie and fry, scorch, and broil, andburn for ever. For ever, that is a long while, and yet it must be so long. 'Departfrom me, ye cursed,' saith Christ, 'into everlasting fire,' into the fire that burnsfor ever, 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). O! thou that wastloth to foul thy foot if it were but dirty, or did but rain; thou that was loth tocome out of the chimney-corner, if the wind did but blow a little cold; and was lothto go half-a- mile, yea, half-a-furlong to hear the word of God, if it were but alittle dark; thou that wast loth to leave a few vain companions, to edify thy soul;thou shalt have fire enough, thou shalt have night enough, and evil company enough,thy bellyfull, if thou miss of Jesus Christ; and 'beside all this,' thou shalt havethem for ever, and for ever.
O thou that dost spend whole nights in carding and dicing, in rioting and wantonness;thou that countest it a brave thing to swear as fast as the bravest, to spend withthe greatest spendthrift in the country; thou that lovest to sin in a corner whennobody sees thee! O thou that for bye-ends dost carry on the hypocrite's profession,because thou wouldst be counted somebody among the children of God, but art anenemy to the things of Christ in thine heart. Thou that dost satisfy thyself, eitherwith sins, or a bare profession of godliness, thy soul will fall into extreme tormentand anguish, so soon as ever thou dost depart this world, and there thou shalt beweeping and gnashing thy teeth (Matt 8:12). 'And beside all this,' thou art likenever to have any ease or remedy, never look for any deliverance, thou shalt diein thy sins, and be tormented as many years as there are stars in the firmament,or sands on the seashore; 'and beside all this,' thou must abide it for ever.
'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that theywhich would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us that wouldcome from thence.' 'There is a great gulf fixed.' You will say, what is that? Answ.It is a nice question; therefore,
1. See thou rather to enter in at the strait gate, than curiously to inquire whatthis gulf is. But,
2. If thou wouldst needs know if thou do fall short of heaven, thou wilt find itthis, namely, the everlasting decree of God; that is, there is decree gone forthfrom God, that those who fall short of heaven in this world, God is resolved theyshall never enjoy it in the world to come. And thou wilt find this gulf so deep,that thou shalt never be able to wade through it as long as eternity lasts. As Christsaith, 'Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him'(Matt 5:25); 'lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,and thou be cast into prison. I tell thee thou shalt by no means come out thence,'there is the gulf, the decree, 'thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paidthe' utmost farthing, or 'very last mite' (Luke 12:58,59). These words therefore,'there is a great gulf fixed,' I do understand to be the everlasting decree of God.God hath decreed that those who go to heaven shall never go from thence again intoa worse place; and also those that go to hell, and would come out, they shall notcome out thence again. And friend, this is such a gulf, so fixed by him that cannotlie, that thou wilt find it so, which way soever thou goest, whether it be to heavenor hell.
Here therefore thou seest how secure God will make those who die in the faith; Godwill keep them in heaven; but those that die in their sins, God will throw them tohell and keep them there; so that they that would go from heaven to hell, cannot;neither can they come from hell that would go to heaven. Mark, he doth not say, theywould not–for, O how fain would these who have lost their souls for a lust, for two-pence,for a jug of ale, for a strumpet, for this world, come out of that hot scalding fieryfurnace of God's eternal vengeance, if they might–but here is their misery, theythat would come from you to us, that is, from hell to heaven, cannot, they must not,they shall not; they cannot, God hath decreed it, and is resolved the contrary; heretherefore lies the misery, not so much that they are in hell, but there they mustlie for ever and ever. Therefore, if thy heart would at any time tempt thee to sinagainst God, cry out, No, for then I must go to hell, and lie there for ever. Ifthe drunkards, swearers, liars, and hypocrites did but take this doctrine soundlydown, it would make them tremble when they think of sinning. But poor souls, nowthey will 'make a mock of sin' (Prov 14:9), and play with it as a child doth playwith a rattle; but the time is coming, that these rattles that now they play withwill make such a noise in their ears and consciences, that they shall find, thatif all the devils in hell were yelling at their heels, the noise would not be comparableto it. Friend, thy sins, as so many bloodhounds, will first hunt thee out (Num 32:23),and then take thee and bind thee, and hold thee down for ever (Prov 5:22). They willgripe thee and gnaw thee as if thou hadst a nest of poisonous serpents in thy bowels(Job 20:14). And this will not be for a time, but, as I have said, for ever, forever, for ever.
Verse 27.– 'Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send himto my father's house.'
The verses before, I told you, were spoken partly to hold forth the desire that thedamned have to be freed of their endless misery. Now this verse still holds forththe cries of those poor souls very vehement, they would very fain have somethinggranted to them, but it will not be; as will more clearly appear afterward.
'Then he said, I PRAY THEE THEREFORE, FATHER,' &c. As if he should say, seeingI have brought myself into such a miserable condition, that God will not regard me,that my exceeding loud and bitter cries will not be heard for myself; seeing I mustnot be admitted to have so much as one drop of cold water, nor the least help fromthe poorest saints. And seeing, 'beside all this,' here my soul must lie to all eternity,broiling and frying; seeing I must, whether I will or no, undergo the hand of eternalvengeance, and the rebukes of devouring fire; seeing my state is such, that I wouldnot wish a dog in my condition, 'send him to my father's house.' It is worthy tobe taken notice of, again, who it is he desired to be sent, namely, Lazarus. O friend,see here how the stout hearts and stomachs of poor creatures will be humbled, asI said before, they will be so brought down, that those things that they disdainedand made light of in this world, they would be glad of in the life to come. He whoby this man was so slighted, as that he thought it a dishonour that he should eatwith the dogs of his flock. What, shall I regard Lazarus, scrubbed, beggarly Lazarus!what, shall I so far dishonour my fair, sumptuous, and gay house, with such a scabbedcreep-hedge as he! No, I scorn he should be entertained under my roof. Thus in hislifetime, while he was in his bravery; but now he is come into another world, nowhe is parted from his pleasures, now he sees his fine house, his dainty dishes, hisrich neighbours and companions, and he, are parted asunder; now he finds insteadof pleasures, torments; instead of joys, heaviness; instead of heaven, hell; insteadof the pleasures of sin, the horror and guilt of sin; O now send Lazarus!
Lazarus, it may be, might have done him some good, if he might have been entertainedin time past, and might have persuaded him, at least not to have gone on so grievouslywicked, but he slights him, he will not regard him, he is resolved to disown him,though he lose his own soul for so doing. Ay, but now send Lazarus, if not to me,yet to my father's house, and let him tell them, from me, that if they run on insin, as I have done, they must and shall receive the same wages that I have received.
Take notice of this, you that are despisers of the least of the Lazaruses of ourLord Jesus Christ; it may be now you are loth to receive these little ones of his,because they are not gentlemen, because they cannot, with Pontius Pilate, speak Hebrew,Greek, and Latin. Nay, they must not, shall not speak to them, to admonish them,and all because of this.
Though now the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached to them freely, andfor nothing; nay, they are now desired to hear and receive it: though now they willnot own, regard, or embrace these Christian proffers of the glorious truth of Jesus,because they come out of some of the basest earthen vessels; yet the time is coming,when they will both sigh and cry, Send him to my father's house (1 Cor 1:26). I say,remember this, ye that despise the day of small things; the time is coming, whenyou would be glad, if you might enjoy from God, from Christ, or his saints, one smalldrop of cold water, though now you are unwilling to receive the glorious distillingdrops of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Again, see here the lamentable state they are in, that go to hell from their fathers,mothers, sisters, brothers, &c. While they are in this world, men delight toset their children ill examples; and also children love to follow the wicked stepsof their ungodly parents; but when they depart this life, and drop down into hell,and find themselves in irrecoverable misery, then they cry, send some body to myfather's house, to my brother's house. Tell them my state is miserable, tell themI am undone for ever; and tell them also, that if they will be walking in these ungodlysteps wherein I left them, they will assuredly fall into this place of torments.
'I pray thee - SEND HIM TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE.' Ah, friends and neighbours, it islike you little think of this, that some of your friends and relations are cryingout in hell, Lord, send some body to my father's house, to preach the gospel to them,lest they also come into these torments.
Here, men while they live, can willingly walk together in the way of sin, and whenthey are parted by death, they that are living, seldom or never consider of the sadcondition that they that are dead are descended into. But ye ungodly fathers, howare your ungodly children roaring now in hell? And you ungodly children, how areyour ungodly parents that lived and died ungodly, now in the pains of hell also?And one drunkard is singing on the ale bench, and another roaring under the wrathof God, saying, O that I was with him, how would I rebuke him, and persuade him byall means to leave off these evil courses. O! that they did but consider what I nowsuffer for pride, covetousness, drunkenness, lying, swearing, stealing, whoring,and the like. O! did they but feel the thousandth part thereof, it would make themlook about them, and not buy sin at so dear a rate as I have done; even with theloss of my precious soul.
'Send him to my father's house.' Not to my father, but to my 'father's house.' Itmay be there is ungodly children, there is ungodly servants, wallowing in their ungodliness;send him therefore to my father's house. It is like they are still the same thatI left them; I left them wicked, and they are wicked still; I left them slightersof the gospel, saints, and ways of God, and they do it still; 'send him to my father'shouse,' it is like there is but a little between them and the place where I am; sendhim to-day, before to- morrow, 'lest they also come into the same place of torment.I pray thee that thou wouldst send him.' I beg it on my bended knee, with cryingand with tears, in the agony of my soul. It may be they will not consider, if thoudo not send him. I left them sottish enough, hardened as well as I; they have thesame devil to tempt them, the same lusts and world to overcome them; 'I pray theetherefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house'; make no delay, lestthey lose their souls, lest they come hither: if they do, they are like never toreturn again. O! little do they think how easily they may lose their souls; theyare apt to think their condition to be as good as the best, as I once through ignorancedid; but send him, send him without delay, 'lest they also come into this place oftorment.' O that thou wouldst give him commission, do thou send him thyself; thetime was when I, together with them, slighted those that were sent of God; thoughwe could not deny but that he spake the word of God, and was sent of him, as ourconsciences told us; yet we preferred the calls of men before the calls of God. Forthough they had the one, yet because they had not the other in that antichristianway which we thought meet, we could not, would not, either hear him ourselves, noryet give consent that others should. But now a call from God is worth all. Do THOU'therefore send him to my father's house.'
The time was, when we did not like it, except it might be preached in the synagogue;we thought it a low thing to preach and pray together in houses. We were too high-spirited, too superstitious; the gospel would not down with us, unless we had itin such a place, by such a man; no, nor then neither effectually. But now, O thatI was to live in the world again; and might have that privilege to have some acquaintancewith blessed Lazarus, some familiarity with that holy man; what attendance wouldI give unto his wholesome words! How would I affect his doctrine, and close in withit! How would I square my life thereby! Now therefore, as it is better to hear thegospel under a hedge than to sit roaring in a tavern, it is better to welcome God'sbegging Lazaruses than the wicked companions of this world. It is better to receivea saint in the name of a saint, a disciple in the name of a disciple, than to doas I have done (Luke 10:16). O! it is better to receive a child of God, that canby experience deliver the things of God, his free love, his tender grace, his richforbearance, and also the misery of man, if without it, than to be 'daubed with untemperedmortar' (Eze 13:10). O! I may curse the day that ever I gave way to the flatteriesand fawning of a company of carnal clergymen, but this my repentance is too late;I should have looked about me sooner, if I would have been saved from this woefulplace. Therefore send him, not only to the town I lived in, and unto some of my acquaintance,but to my father's house.
In my lifetime I did not care to hear that word that cut me most, and showed me mineestate aright. I was vexed to hear my sins mentioned, and laid to my charge; I lovedhim best that deceived me most–that said, Peace, peace, when there was no such thing(Jer 5:30,31). But now, O that I had been soundly told of it! O that it had piercedboth mine ears and heart, and had stuck so fast that nothing could have cured me,saving the blood of Christ! It is better to be dealt plainly with, than that we shouldbe deceived; they had better see their lost condition in the world, than stay whilethey be damned, as I have done. Therefore send Lazarus, send him to my father's house.Let him go and say I saw your son, your brother, in hell, weeping and wailing, andgnashing his teeth. Let him bear them down in it, and tell them plainly it is so,and that they shall see their everlasting misery, if they have not a special care.'Send him to my father's house.'
Verse 28.– 'For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they alsocome into this place of torment.'
These words are, if I may so say, a reason given by those in hell why they are sorestless and do cry so loud; it is that their companions might be delivered fromthose intolerable torments which they must and shall undergo if they fall short ofeverlasting life by Jesus Christ. 'Send him to my father's house; for I have fivebrethren.' Though, while they lived among them in the world, they were not so sensibleof their ruin, yet now they are passed out of the world, and do partake of that whichbefore they were warned of; they can, I say, then cry out, Now I find that to betrue indeed, which was once and again told and declared to me that it would certainlycome to pass.
'FOR I HAVE FIVE BRETHREN.' Here you may see that there may be, and are, whole householdsin a damnable state and condition, as our Lord Jesus doth by this signify. 'Sendhim to my father's house,' for they are all in one state, I left all my brethrenin a pitiful case. People, while they live here, cannot endure to hear that theyshould be all in a miserable condition; but when they are under the wrath of Godthey see it, they know it, and are very sure of it; for they themselves, when theywere in the world, lived as they do, but they fell short of heaven, and therefore,if they go on, so shall they. O, therefore, send him quickly to my father's house,for all the house is in an undone condition, and must be damned if they continueso.
The thing observable is this, namely, that those that are in hell do not desire thattheir companions should come thither; nay rather, saith he, send him to my father'shouse, and let him testify to them that are therein, lest they also come, &c.
Quest. But some may say, What should be the reason that the damned should desirenot to have their companions come into the same condition that they are fallen into,but rather that they might be kept from it, and escape that dreadful state?
Answ. I do believe there is scarce so much love in any of the damned in hell as reallyto desire the salvation of any. But in that there is any desire in them that aredamned, that their friends and relations should not come into that place of torment,it appears to me to be rather for their own ease than for their neighbour's good;for, let me tell you, this I do believe, that it will aggravate the grief and horrorof them to see their ungodly neighbours in the like destruction with them. For wherethe ungodly do live and die, and descend into the pit together, the one is rathera vexation to the other than any thing else. And it must needs be so, because thereare no ungodly people that do live ungodly together but they do learn ill examplesone of another, as thus: If there live one in the town that is very expert and cunningfor the world, why now the rest that are of the same mind with him, they will labourto imitate and follow his steps: this is commonly seen.
Again, if there be one given to drunkenness, others of the town, through his means,run the more into that sin with him, and do accustom themselves the more unto itbecause of his enticing them, and also by setting such an ill example before them.And so if there be any addicted to pride, and must needs be in all the newest fashions,how do their example provoke others to love and follow the same vanity; spendingthat upon their lusts which should relieve their own and others' wants. Also if therebe any given to jesting, scoffing, lying, whoring, backbiting, junketing, wantonness,or any other sin, they that are most expert in these things do ofttimes entangleothers, that peradventure would not have been so vile as now they are, had they nothad such an example, and hence they are called corrupters (Isa 1:4).
Now these will, by their doings, exceedingly aggravate the condemnation of one another.He that did set his neighbor an ill example, and thereby caused him to walk in sin,he will be found one cause of his friend's destruction, insomuch that he will haveto answer for his own sins and for a great part of his neighbour's too, which willadd to his destruction; as that scripture in Ezekiel showeth, where, speaking ofthe watchman that should give the people warning, if he did not, though the man diddie in his sins, yet his blood shall be required at the watchman's hand (Eze 33).
So here let me tell thee that if thou shouldst be such a one, as by thy conversationand practices shall be a trap and a stumbling-block to cause thy neighbour to fallinto eternal ruin–though he be damned for his own sins–yet God may, nay he will chargethee as being guilty of his blood, in that thou didst not content thyself to keepfrom heaven thyself, but didst also, by thy filthy conversation, keep away others,and cause them to fall with thee. O, therefore, will not this aggravate thy torment?Yea, if thou shouldst die and go to hell before thy neighbour or companions, besidesthe guilt of thine own sins, thou wouldst be so loaden with the fear of the damnationof others to be laid to thy charge, that thou wouldst cry out, O send one from thedead to this companion and that companion with whom I had society in my lifetime,for I see my cursed carriage will be one cause of his condemnation, if he fall shortof glory.
I left him living in foul and heinous offences; but I was one of the first instrumentsto bring him to them. O! I shall be guilty both of my own and his damnation too!O that he might be kept out hence, lest my torment be aggravated by his coming hither!
For where ungodly people do dwell together, they being a snare and stumbling-blockone to another by their practices, they must needs be a torment one to another, andan aggravation of each other's damnation. O cursed be thy face, saith one, that everI set mine eyes on thee. It was long of thee. I may thank thee. It was thee thatdid entice me and ensnare me. It was your filthy conversation that was a stumbling-blockto me. It was your covetousness, it was your pride, your haunting the ale-house,your gaming and whoring. It was long of you that I fell short of life; if you hadset me a good example, as you did set me an ill one, it may be I might have donebetter than now I do; but I learned of you, I followed your steps, I took counselof you. O that I had never seen thy face! O that thou hadst never been born to domy soul this wrong, as you have done! O, saith the other, and I may as much blameyou, for do not you remember how at such a time, and at such a time, you drew meout, and drew me away, and asked me if I would go with you, when I was going aboutother business, about my calling; but you called me away, you sent for me, you areas much in the fault as I; though I were covetous, you were proud; and if you learnedcovetousness of me, I learned pride and drunkenness of you. Though I learned youto cheat, you learned me to whore, to lie, to scoff at goodness. Though I, base wretch,did stumble you in some things, yet you did as much stumble me in others. I can blameyou as you blame me; and if I have to answer for some of your most filthy actions,you have to answer for some of mine. I would you had not come hither, the very looksof you do wound my soul, by bringing my sins afresh into my mind, the time when,the manner how, the place where, the persons with whom. It was with you, you! Griefto my soul! Since I could not shun thy company there, O that I had been without thycompany here!
I say, therefore, for those that have sinned together to go to hell together, itwill very much perplex and torment them both; therefore I judge this is one reasonwhy they that are in hell do desire that their friends or companions do not comethither into the same place of torment that they are in. And therefore where Christsaith that these damned souls cry out, Send to our companions, that they may be warnedand commanded to look to themselves, O send to my five brethren! it is because theywould not have their own torments heightened by their company; and a sense, yea,a continual sense of their sins, which they did cause them to commit when they werein the world with them. For I do believe that the very looks of those that have beenbeguiled of their fellows, I say their very looks will be a torment to them: forthereby will the remembrance of their own sins be kept, if possible, the fresheron their consciences, which they committed with them; and also they will wonderfullyhave the guilt of the others sins upon them, in that they were partly the cause ofhis committing them, being instruments in the hands of the devil to draw them intoo. And, therefore, lest this come to pass, 'I pray thee send him to my father'shouse.' For if they might not come hither, peradventure my torment might have somemitigation; that is, if they might be saved, then their sins will be pardoned, andnot so heavily charged on my soul. But if they do fall into the same place whereI am, the sins that I have caused them to commit will lie so heavy, not only on theirsouls, but also on mine, that they sin me into eternal misery, deeper and deeper.O therefore send him to my father's house, to my five brethren, and let him testifyto them, lest they come into this place of torment.
These words being thus understood, what a condition doth it show them to be in then,that now much delight in being the very ringleaders of their companions into sinsof all sorts whatsoever?
While men live here, if they can be counted the cunningest in cheating, the boldestfor lying, the archest for whoring, the subtilest for coveting and getting the world;if they can but cunningly defraud, undermine, cross, and anger their neighbours,yea, and hinder them from the means of grace, the gospel of Christ, they glory init, take a pride in it, and think themselves pretty well at ease, and their mindsare somewhat quiet, being beguiled with sin.
But, friend, when thou hast lost this life, and dost begin to lift up thine eyesin hell, and seest what thy sins have brought thee to; and not only so, but thatthou, by thy filthy sins, didst cause others, devil-like, to fall into the same condemnationwith thee; and that one of the reasons of their damnation was this, that thou didstlead them to the commission of those wicked practices of this world, and the luststhereof; then, O that somebody would stop them from coming, lest they also come intothis place of torment, and be damned as I am! How ill it torment me! Balaam couldnot be contented to be damned himself, but also he must, by his wickedness, causeothers to stumble and fall. The Scribes and Pharisees could not be contented to keepout of heaven themselves, but they must labour to keep out others too. Thereforetheirs is the greater damnation.
The deceived cannot be content to be deceived himself; but he must labour to deceiveothers also. The drunkard cannot be content to go to hell for his own sins, but hemust labour to cause others to fall into the same furnace with him. But look to yourselves,for here will be damnation upon damnation, damned for thy own sins, and damned forthy being a partaker with others in their sins; and damned for being guilty of thedamnation of others. O how will the drunkards cry for leading their neighbours intodrunkenness! How will the covetous person howl for setting his neighbour, his friend,his brother, his children and relations, so wicked an example! by which he hath notonly wronged his own soul, but also the souls of others. The liar, by lying, learnedothers to lie; the swearer learned others to swear; the whoremonger learned othersto whore.
Now all these, with others of the like sort, will be guilty, not only of their owndamnation, but also of the damnation of others. I tell you, that some men have somuch been the authors of the damnation of others, that I am ready to think that thedamnation of them will trouble them as much as their own damnation. Some men, itis to be feared, at the day of judgment, will be found to be the authors of destroyingwhole nations. How many souls do you think Balaam, with his deceit, will have toanswer for? How many Mahomet? How many the Pharisees, that hired the soldiers tosay the disciples stole away Jesus? (Matt 18:11- 15); and by that means stumbledtheir brethren to this day; and was one means of hindering them from believing thethings of God and Jesus Christ, and so the cause of the damnation of their brethrento this very day.
How many poor souls hath Bonner to answer for, think you, and several filthy blindpriests? How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignoranceand corrupt doctrine? Preaching, that was no better for their souls than ratsbaneto the body, for filthy lucre's sake (O ye priests, this word is for you). They shallsee, that they, many of them it is to be feared, will have whole towns to answerfor; whole cities to answer for. Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou that hast taken inhand to preach to the people, it may be thou hast taken in hand thou canst not tellwhat. Will it not grieve thee to see thy whole parish come bellowing after thee tohell, crying out, This we may thank thee for, this is long of thee, thou didst notteach us the truth; thou didst lead us away with fables, thou wast afraid to tellus of our sins, lest we should not put meat fast enough in thy mouth. O cursed wretch,that ever thou shouldst beguile us thus, deceive us thus, flatter us thus! We wouldhave gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and also tellus that that which we see now is the way of God was heresy, and a deceivable doctrine;and wast not contented, blind guide as thou wert, to fall into the ditch thyself,but hast also led us thither with thee.
I say, look to thyself, lest thou cry out when it is too late, Send Lazarus to mypeople, my friends, my children, my congregation to whom I preached, and beguiledthrough my folly. Send him to the town in which I did preach last, lest I be thecause of their damnation. Send him to my friends from whence I came, lest I be madeto answer for their souls and mine own too (Eze 33:1-6).
O send him therefore, and let him tell them, and testify unto them, lest they alsocome into this place of torment. Consider this, ye that live thus in the world, whileye are in the land of the living, lest you fall into this condition. Set the casethou shouldest by thy carriage destroy but a soul, but one poor soul, by one of thycarriages or actions, by thy sinful works; consider it now, I say, lest thou be forcedto cry, 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house,for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come intothis place of torment.'
If so, then I shall not only say to the blind guides, Look you to yourselves, andshut not out others; no, but this doth reach unto all those that do not onlykeep souls from heaven by preaching and the like, but speaks forth the doom of thosethat shall any ways be instrumental to hinder others from closing in with Jesus Christ.O what red lines will those be against all those rich ungodly landlords, that sokeep under their poor tenants that they dare not go out to hear the word, for feartheir rent should be raised, or they turned out of their houses! What sayest thou,landlord, will it not cut thy soul, when thou shalt see that thou couldest not becontent to miss of heaven thyself, but thou must labour to hinder others also? Willit not give thee an eternal wound in thy heart, both at death and judgment, to beaccused of the ruin of thy neighbour's soul, thy servant's soul, thy wife's soul,together with the ruin of thy own? Think on this, you drunken, proud, rich, and scornfullandlords; think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands, that are againstthe godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also you that hold your servantsso hard to it that you will not spare them time to hear the word, unless it be whereand when your lusts will let you. If you love your own souls, your tenants' souls,your wives' souls, your servants' souls, your children's souls; if you would notcry, if you would not howl, if you would not bear the burden of the ruin of othersfor ever, then I beseech you to consider this doleful story, and labour to avoidthe soul-killing torment that this poor wretch groaneth under, when he saith, 'Ipray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house,
For I have five brethren, THAT HE MAY TESTIFY,' mark, 'that he may testify UNTO THEM,lest they also come into this place of torment.'
These words have still something more in them than I have yet observed from them;there are one or two things more that I shall briefly touch upon, and therefore,mark, he saith, 'That he may testify unto them,' &c. Mark, I pray you, and takenotice of the word TESTIFY. He doth not say, And let him go unto them, or speak with,or tell them such and such things. No, but let him testify, or affirm it constantly,in case any should oppose it. 'Let him testify unto them.' It is the same word theScripture uses to set forth the vehemency of Christ, his telling of his disciplesof him that should betray him. And he testified, saying, One of you shall betrayme. And he testified, that is, he spake it so as to dash or overcome any that shouldhave said it shall not be. It is a word that signifies, that in case any should opposethe thing spoken of, yet that the party speaking should still continue constant inhis saying. And he commanded them to preach, 'and to testify, that it is he whichwas ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.' To testify, mark, that is,to be constant, irresistible, undaunted, in case it should be opposed and objectedagainst. So here, let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.
From whence observe, that it is not an easy matter to persuade them who are in theirsins alive in this world, that they must and shall be damned if they turn not, andbe converted to God. 'Let him testify to them,' let him speak confidently, thoughthey frown upon him, or dislike his way of speaking. And how is this truth verifiedand cleared by the carriages of almost all men now in the world toward them thatdo preach the gospel; and show their own miserable state plainly to them, if theyclose not with it? If a man do but indeed labour to convince sinners of their sinsand lost condition by nature, though they must be damned if they live and die inthat condition, O how angry are they at it! Look how he judges, say they, hark howhe condemns us; he tells us we must be damned if we live and die in this state. Weare offended at him, we cannot abide to hear him, or any such as he; we will believenone of them all, but go on in the way we are agoing. 'Forbear, why shouldest thoube smitten,' said the ungodly king to the prophet, when he told him of his sins (2Chron 25:16).
I say, tell the drunkard he must be damned if he leaves not his drunkenness, theswearer, liar, cheater, thief, covetous, railers, or any ungodly persons, they mustand shall lie in hell for it, if they die in this condition; they will not believeyou, not credit you.
Again, tell others that there are many in hell that have lived and died in theirconditions, and so are they like to be, if they convert not to Jesus Christ, andbe found in him, or that there are others that are more civil and sober men, who,although we know that their civility will not save them, if we do but tell them plainlyof the emptiness and unprofitableness of that, as to the saving of their souls, andthat God will not accept them, nor love them, notwithstanding these things, and thatif they intend to be saved, they must be better provided than with such a righteousnessas this; they will either fling away, and come to hear no more, or else if they docome, they will bring such prejudice with them in their hearts, that the word preachedshall not profit them, it being mixed not with faith, but with prejudice in themthat hear it (Heb 4:1,2). Nay, they will some of them be so full of anger that theywill break out and call, even those that speak the truth, heretics; yea, and killthem (Luke 4:25-29). And why so? Because they tell them, that if they live in theirsins that will damn them; yet if they turn and live a righteous life, according tothe holy, and just, and good law of God, that will not save them.
Yea, because we tell them plainly that unless they leave their sins and [self] righteousnesstoo, and close in with a naked Jesus Christ, his blood and merits, and what he hathdone, and is now doing for sinners, they cannot be saved; and unless they do eatthe flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, they have no life abiding in them,they gravel presently, and are offended at it, as the Jews were with Christ forspeaking the same thing to them (John 6:53,60). And fling away themselves, theirsouls and all, by quarrelling against the doctrine of the Son of God, as indeed theydo, though they will not believe they do; and therefore, he that is a preacher ofthe Word, had need not only tell them, but testify to them, again and again, thattheir sins, if they continue in them, will damn them, and damn them again. And tellthem again, their living honestly according to the law, their paying every one theirown, their living quietly with their neighbours, their giving to the poor, theirnotion of the gospel, and saying they do believe in Christ, will do them no goodat the general day of judgment. Ha, friends! How many of you are there at this veryday, that have been told once and again of your lost undone condition, because youwant the right, real, and saving work of God upon your souls! I say, hath not thisbeen told you, yea, testified unto you from time to time, that your state is miserable,that yet you are never the better, but do still stand where you did; some in an openungodly life, and some drowned in a self-conceited holiness of Christianity? Therefore,for God's sake, if you love your souls, consider, and beg of God for Jesus Christ'ssake, that he would work such a work of grace in your hearts, and give you such afaith in his Son Jesus Christ, that you may not only have rest here, as you think,not only think your state safe while you live here, but that you may be safe indeed,not only here, but also when you are gone, lest you do cry in the anguish and perplexityof your souls, Send one to my companions that have been beguiled by Satan as I havebeen, and so, by going on, come into this place of torment as I have done.
Again, one thing more is to be observed from these words, Let him 'testify to them,LEST THEY ALSO COME INTO THIS PLACE OF TORMENT.'
Mark, lest they come in. As if he had said, Or else they will come into this placeof torment, as sure as I am here. From whence observe, that though some souls dofor sin fall into the bottomless pit of hell before their fellows, because they departthis world before them, yet the other, abiding in the same course, are as sure togo to the same place as if they were there already. How so? Because that all arecondemned together, they have all fallen under the same law, and have all offendedthe same justice, and must for certain, if they die in that condition, drink as deep,if not deeper, of the same destruction. Mark, I pray you, what the Scriptures say,'He that believeth not, is condemned already' (John 3:18).
He is condemned as well as they, having broken the same law with them; if so, thenwhat hinders but they will partake of the same destruction with them? Only the onehath not the law yet so executed upon them, because they are here; the other havehad the law executed upon them, they are gone to drink that which they have beenbrewing, and thou art brewing that in this life which thou must certainly drink.The same law, I say, is in force against you both, only he is executed and thou artnot. Just as if there were a company of prisoners at the bar, and all condemned todie; what, because they are not all executed in one day, therefore shall they notbe executed at all? Yes, the same law that executed its severity upon the partiesnow deceased, will for certain be executed on them that are alive in its appointedtime. Even so it is here, we are all condemned by nature; if we close not in withthe grace of God by Jesus Christ, we must and shall be destroyed with the same destruction;and 'therefore send him,' saith he, 'LEST,' mark, 'lest they also come into thisplace of torment.
Again, 'Send him to my father's house,' and let him 'testify unto them, lest theyalso come into this place of torment.' As if he had said, It may be he may prevailwith them, it may be he may win upon them, and so they may be kept from hence, fromcoming into this grievous place of torment. Observe again, that there is a possibilityof obtaining mercy, if now, I say, now in this day of grace, we turn from our sinsto Jesus Christ; yea, it is more than possible. And therefore, for thy encouragement,do thou know for certain, that if thou shalt in this thy day accept of mercy uponGod's own terms, and close with him effectually, God hath promised, yea, made manypromises, that thy soul shall be conducted safe to glory, and shall for certain escapeall the evils that I have told thee of; aye, and many more than I can imagine. Dobut search the Scriptures, and see how full of consolation they are to a poor soulthat is minded to close in with Jesus Christ. 'Him that cometh to me,' saith Christ,'I will in no wise cast out.' Though he be an old sinner, 'I will in no wise casthim out'; mark, in no wise, though he be a great sinner, I will in no wise cast himout, if he come to me. Though he have slighted me neve
so many times, and not regarded the welfare of his own soul, yet let him now cometo me, and notwithstanding this, 'I will in no wise cast him out,' nor throw awayhis soul (John 6:37). Again, saith the apostle, 'Now,' mark now, 'is the acceptedtime, now is the day of their salvation.' Now here is mercy in good store, now God'sheart is open to sinners; now he will make you welcome; now he will receive anybodyif they do but come to Christ. 'He that cometh to me,' saith Christ, 'I will in nowise cast out.' And why? Because 'NOW is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation'(2 Cor 6:2). As if the apostle had said, If you will have mercy, have it now, receiveit now, close in with it now.
God hath a certain day to hold out his grace to sinners. Now is the time, now isthe day. It is true, there is a day of damnation, but this is a day of salvation.There is a day coming, wherein sinners must cry to the mountains to fall on them,to the hills to cover them from the wrath of God; but now, now is the day in whichhe doth hold out his grace. There is a day coming, in which you will not be admittedto have the privilege of one drop of water to cool your tongue, if now, I say, ifnow you slight his grace and goodness which he holds out to you. Ah, friends, considerthere is now hopes of mercy, but then there will not; now Christ holds forth mercyunto you, but then he will not (Matt 7:23). Now there are his servants that do beseechyou to accept of his grace, but if thou lose the opportunity that is put into thinehand, thou thyself mayest beseech hereafter, and no mercy be given thee. 'And hecried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dipthe tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' And thee was none given. Thereforelet it never be said of thee, as it will be said of some, 'Wherefore is there a pricein the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it?' Seeing he hath no heart tomake a good use of it (Prov 17:16). Consider therefore with thyself, and say, Itis better going to heaven than hell; it is better to be saved than damned; it isbetter to be with saints than with damned souls; and to go to God is better thanto go to the devil. Therefore 'seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call yeupon him while he is near' (Isa 55:6). Lest in thy trouble he leave thee to thyself,and say unto thee plainly, Where I am, thither 'ye cannot come' (John 8:21).
O if they that are in hell might but now again have one such invitation as this,how would they leap for joy! I have thought sometimes should God send but one ofhis ministers to the damned in hell, and give him commission to preach the free loveof God in Christ extended to them, and held out to them, if now while it is profferedto them they will accept of his kindness; O how welcome would they make this news,and close in with it on any terms! Certainly they would say, we will accept of graceon any terms in the world, and thank you too, though it cost life and limbs to boot;we will spare no cost nor charge, if mercy may be had. But poor souls, while theylive here they will not part from sin, with hell-bred devilish sin. No, they willrather lose their souls than lose their filthy sins.
But, friend, thou wilt change thy note before it be long, and cry, O simple wretchthat I am that I should damn my soul by sin! It is true, I have had the gospel preachedto me, and have been invited in. I have been preached to, and have been warned ofthis; but 'how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and havenot obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructedme' (Prov 5:12,13). O therefore, I say, poor soul! Is there hope? Then lay thinehand upon thy mouth, and kiss the dust, and close in with the Lord Jesus Christ,and make much of his glorious mercy; and invite also thy companions to close in withthe same Lord Jesus Christ, lest one of you do go to hell beforehand, and expectwith grief of heart your companions to come after; and in the mean time, with anguishof heart, do sigh and say, O send him to my companions, and let him testify to them,lest they also come into this place of torment.
[USE AND APPLICATION Of the Preceding portion of the Parable.]
Now then, from what hath been said, there might many things be spoken by wayof use and application; but I shall be very brief, and but touch some things, andso wind up. And, First, I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die outof Christ, and speak something to that. Secondly, To the latter end of the parable,which more evidently concerns the Scripture, and speak somewhat to that.
[First. I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die out of Christ.]
1. Therefore you see that the former part of the parable contains a sad declarationof the state of one living and dying out of Christ; how that they lose heaven forhell, God for the devil, light for darkness, joy for sorrow. 2. How that they havenot so much as the least comfort from God, who in the time they live here below neglectcoming to him for mercy; not so much as one drop of cold water. 3. That such soulswill repent of their folly, when repentance will do them no good, or when they shallbe past recovery. 4. That all the comfort such souls are like to have, they haveit in this world. 5. That all their groanings and sighs will not move God to mitigatein the least his heavy hand of vengeance that is upon them, for the transgressionthey have committed against him. 6. That their sad state is irrecoverable, or theymust never, mark, never come out of that condition. 7. Their desires will not behard for their ungodly neighbours. From these things then, I pray you consider thestate of those that die out of Christ Jesus; yea, I say, consider their miserablestate; and think thus with thyself, Well, if I neglect coming to Christ, I must goto the devil, and he will not neglect to fetch me away into those intolerable torments.
Think thus with thyself, What, shall I lose a long heaven for short pleasure? ShallI buy the pleasures of this world at so dear a rate as to lose my soul for the obtainingof that? Shall I content myself with a heaven that will last no longer than my lifetime?What advantage will these be to me when the Lord shall separate soul and body asunder,and send one to the grave, the other to hell, and at the judgment-day, the finalsentence of eternal ruin must be passed upon me?
1. Consider, that the profits, pleasures, and vanities of this world will not lastfor ever, but the time is coming, yea, just at the doors, when they will give theethe slip, and leave thee in the suds, and in the brambles of all that thou hastdone. And therefore to prevent this,
2. Consider thy dismal state, think thus with thyself, It is true, I do love my sins,my lusts and pleasures; but what good will they do me at the day of death and ofjudgment? Will my sins do me good then? Will they be able to help me when I cometo fetch my last breath? What good will my profits do me? And what good will my vanitiesdo, when death says he will have no nay? What good will all my companions, fellow-jesters,jeerers, liars, drunkards, and all my wantons do me? Will they help to ease the painsof hell? Will these help to turn the hand of God from inflicting his fierce angerupon me? Nay, will not they rather cause God to show me no mercy, to give me no comfort;but rather to thrust me down in the hottest place of hell, where I may swim in fireand brimstone.
3. Consider thus with thyself, Would I be glad to have all, every one of my sinsto come in against me, to inflame the justice of God against me? Would I be gladto be bound up in them as the three children were bound in their clothes, and tobe as really thrown into the fiery furnace of the wrath of Almighty God as they wereinto
Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace?
4. Consider thus, Would I be glad to have all, and every one of the ten commandments,to discharge themselves against my soul? The first saying, Damn him, for he hathbroken me; the second saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me, &c. Consider howterrible this will be, yea, more terrible than if thou shouldest have ten of thebiggest pieces of ordnance in England to be discharged against thy body, thunder,thunder, one after another! Nay, this would not be comparable to the reports thatthe law, for the breach thereof, will give against thy soul; for those can but killthe body, but these will kill both body and soul; and that not for an hour, a day,a month, or a year, but they will condemn thee for ever.
Mark, it is for ever, for ever. It is into everlasting damnation, eternal destruction,eternal wrath and displeasure from God, eternal gnawings of conscience, eternal continuancewith devils. O consider, it may be the thought of seeing the devil doth now makethine hair to stand right up on thine head. O but this, to be damned, to be amongall the devils, and that not only for a time, as I said before, but for ever, toall eternity! This is wonderfully miserable, ever miserable; that no tongue of man,no, nor of angels, is able to express it.
5. Consider much with thyself, Not only my sins against the law will be laid to mycharge, but also the sins I have committed in slighting the gospel, the gloriousgospel. These also must come with a voice against me. As thus, Nay, he is worthyto be damned, for he rejected the gospel, he slighted the free grace of God tenderedin the gospel; how many times was thou, damned wretch, invited, intreated, beseechedto come to Christ, to accept of mercy, that thou mightest have heaven, thy sins pardoned,thy soul saved, and body and soul glorified, and all this for nothing but the acceptance,and through faith forsaking those imps of Satan, which by their embracements havedrawn thee downward toward the gulf of God's eternal displeasure? How often didstthou read the promises, yea, the free promises of the common salvation! How oft didstthou read the sweet counsels and admonitions of the gospel, to accept of the graceof God! But thou wouldst not, thou regardest it not, thou didst slight all.
Second. As I would have thee to consider the sad and woeful state of those that dieout of Christ, and are past all recovery, so would I have thee consider the manymercies and privileges thou enjoyest above some, peradventure, of thy companionsthat are departed to their proper place. As,
1. Consider, thou hast still the thread of thy life lengthened, which for thy sinsmight seven years ago, or more, have been cut asunder, and thou have dropped downamongst the flames.
2. Consider the terms of reconciliation by faith in Christ are still proffered untothee, and thou invited, yea, entreated to accept of them.
3. Consider the terms of reconciliation are but–bear with me though I say but–onlyto believe in Jesus Christ, with that faith that purifies the heart, and enablesthy soul to feed on him effectually, and be saved from this sad state.
4. Consider the time of thy departure is at hand, and the time is uncertain, andalso that for ought thou knowest the day of grace may be past to thee before thoudiest, not lasting so long as thy uncertain life in this world. And if so, then knowfor certain that thou art as sure to be damned as if thou wast in hell already; ifthou convert not in the meanwhile.
5. Consider it may be some of thy friends are giving all diligence to make theircalling and election sure, being resolved for heaven, and thou thyself endeavourestas fast to make sure of hell, as if resolved to have it; and together with this,consider how it will grieve thee that while thou wast making sure of hell thy friendswere making sure of heaven; but more of this by and by.
6. Consider what a sad reflection this will have on thy soul, to see thy friendsin heaven, and thyself in hell; thy father in heaven, and thou in hell; thy motherin heaven, and thou in hell; thy brother, thy sister, thy children in heaven, andthou in hell. As Christ said to the Jews of their relations according to the flesh,so may I say to thee concerning thy friends, 'There shall be weeping and gnashingof teeth,' when you shall see your fathers and mothers, brethren and sisters, husbandsand wives, children and kinsfolk, with your friends and neighbours in the kingdomof heaven, and thou thyself thrust out (Luke 13:27-29).
But again, because I would not only tell thee of the damnable state of those thatdie out of Christ, but also persuade thee to take hold of life, and go to heaven,take notice of these following things.
(1.) Consider that whatever thou canst do, as to thy acceptance with God, is notworth the dirt of thy shoes, but is all 'as filthy rags' (Isa 54:6).
(2.) Consider that all the conditions of the new covenant, as to salvation, are andhave been completely fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that for sinners.
(3.) Consider that the Lord calls to thee, for to receive whatsoever Christ hathdone, and that on free cost (Rev 22:17).
(4.) Consider that thou canst not honour God more than to close in with his proffersof grace, mercy, and pardon of sin (Rom 4).
Again, that which will add to all the rest, thou shalt have the very mercy of God,the blood of Christ, the preachers of the word, together with every sermon, all thepromises, invitations, exhortations, and all the counsels and threatenings of theblessed word of God. Thou shalt have all thy thoughts, words, and actions, togetherwith all thy food, thy raiment, thy sleep, thy goods, and also all hours, days, weeks,months and years, together with whatsoever else God hath given thee. I say, thy abuseof all these shall come up in judgment against thy soul; for God will reckon withthee for everything, whether it be good or bad (Eccl 12:14).
(5.) Nay further, it is so unreasonable a thing for a sinner to refuse the gospel,that the very devils themselves will come in against thee, as well as Sodom, thatdamned crew. May not they, I say, come in against thee, and say, O thou simpleman! O vile wretch! That had not so much care of thy soul, thy precious soul, asthe beast hath of its young, or the dog of the very bone that lieth before him. Wasthy soul worth so much, and didst thou so little regard it? Were the thunder-clapsof the law so terrible, and didst thou so slight them? Besides, was the gospel sofreely, so frequently, so fully tendered to thee, and yet hast thou rejected allthese things? Hast thou valued sin at a higher rate than thy soul, than God, Christ,angels, saints, and communion with them in eternal blessedness and glory? Wast thounot told of hell-fire, those intolerable flames? Didst thou never hear of the intolerableroarings of the damned ones that are therein? Didst thou never hear or read thatdoleful saying in Luke 16, how the sinful man cries out among the flames, 'One dropof water to cool my tongue?' Thus, I say, may the very devils, being ready to gowith thee into the burning furnace of fire and brimstone, though not for sins ofso high a nature as thine, trembling say, O that Christ had died for devils, as hedied for man! And, O that the gospel had been preached to us as it hath been to thee!How would we have laboured to have closed in with it! But woe be to us, for we mightnever have it proffered; no, not in the least, though we would have been glad ofit. But you, you have it proffered, preached, and proclaimed unto you (Prov 8:4).Besides, you have been intreated, and beseeched to accept of it, but you would not.O simple fools! that might have escaped wrath, vengeance, hell-fire, and that toall eternity, and had no heart at all to do it.
(6.) May not the messengers of Jesus Christ also come in with a shrill and terriblenote against thy soul, when thou standest at the bar of God's justice, saying, Nay,thou ungodly one, how often hast thou been forewarned of this day? Did we not soundan alarm in thine ears, by the trumpet of God's word day after day? How often didstthou hear us tell thee of these things? Did we not tell thee sin would damn thy soul?Did we not tell thee that without conversion there was no salvation? Did we not tellthee that they who loved their sins should be damned at this dark and gloomy day,as thou art like to be? Yea, did we not tell thee that God, out of his love to sinners,sent Christ to die for them, that they might, by coming to him, be saved? Did notwe tell thee of these things? Did we not run, ride, labour, and strive abundantly,if it might have been, for the good of thy soul, though now a damned soul? Did wenot venture our goods, our names, our lives? Yea, did we not even kill ourselveswith our earnest intreaties of thee to consider of thine estate, and by Christ toescape this dreadful day? O sad doom! When thou shalt be forced full sore againstthy will to fall under the truth of this judgment, saying, O 'How have I hated instruction,and how hath my heart despised reproof!' for, indeed, 'I have not obeyed the voiceof my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov 5:12,13).
(7.) May not thy father, thy mother, thy brother, thy sister, thy friend, &c.,appear with gladness against thee at the terrible day, saying, O thou silly wretch!how rightly hath God met with thee! O how righteously doth his sentence pass uponthee! Remember thou wouldst not be ruled nor persuaded in thy lifetime. As thou didstnot care for us and our admonitions then, so neither do we care for thy ruin, terror,and damnation now. No, but we will stand on God's side in sentencing of thee to thatportion which the devils must be partakers of. 'The righteous shall rejoice whenhe seeth the vengeance, he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked' (Psa 58:10).O sad! It is enough to make mountains tremble, and the rocks rend in pieces, to hearthis doleful sound. Consider these things, and if thou wouldst be loth to be in thiscondition, then have a care of living in sin now. How loth wilt thou be to be thrustaway from the gates of heaven! And how loth wilt thou be to be deprived of the mercyof God! How unwillingly wilt thou set foot forward towards the lake of fire! Neverdid malefactor so unwillingly turn off the ladder when the halter was about his neck,as thou will turn from God to the devil, from heaven to hell, when the sentence ispassed upon thy soul.
O how wilt thou sigh and groan! How willingly wouldst thou hide thyself, and runaway from justice! But alas! as it is with them that are on the ladder ready to beexecuted, so it will be with thee. They would fain run away, but there are many halbert-mento stay them. And so the angels of God will beset thee round, I say round on everyside; so that thou mayest indeed look, but run thou canst not. Thou mayest wish thyselfunder some rock, or mountain (Rev 6:15,16), but how to get under, thou knowest not.
O how unwilling wilt thou be to let thy father go to heaven without thee! thy motheror friends, &c., go to heaven without thee! How willingly wouldst thou hang onthem, and not let them go! O father! cannot you help me? Mother, cannot you do mesome good? O how loth am I to burn and fry in hell, while you are singing in heaven!But alas! the father, mother, or friends reject them, slight them, and turn theirbacks upon them, saying, You would have none of heaven in your lifetime, thereforeyou shall have none of it now. You slighted our counsels then, and we slight yourtears, cries, and condition now. What sayest thou, sinner? Will not this persuadethine heart, nor make thee bethink thyself? This is now before thou fall into thatdreadful place, that fiery furnace. But O consider how dreadful the place itself,the devils themselves, the fire itself will be! And this at the end of all, Herethou must lie for ever! Here thou must fry for ever, and for ever! This will be moreto thee than any man with tongue can express, or with pen can write. There is nonethat can, I say, by the ten thousandth part, discover the state and condition ofsuch a soul.
I shall conclude this, then, with A FEW
CONSIDERATIONS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
[First Encouragement.] Consider, for I would fain have thee come in, sinner, thatthere is way made by Jesus Christ for them that are under the curse of God, to cometo this comfortable and blessed state of Lazarus I was speaking of. See Ephesians2.
[Second Encouragement.] Consider what pains Christ Jesus took for the ransoming ofthy soul from all the curses, thunder-claps, and tempests of the law; from all theintolerable flames of hell; from that soul-sinking appearance of thy person, on theleft hand, before the judgment-seat of Christ Jesus, from everlasting fellowship,with innumerable companies of yelling and soul-amazing devils, I say, consider whatpains the Lord Jesus Christ took in bringing in redemption for sinners from thesethings.
'In that though he was rich, yet he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, mightbe' made 'rich' (2 Cor 8:9). He laid aside his glory (John 17), and became a servant(Phil 2:7). He left the company of angels, and encountered with the devil (Luke 4;Matt 4). He left heaven's ease for a time, to lie upon hard mountains (Luke 6:12;John 8:1). In a word, he became poorer than they that go with flail and rake; yea,than the very birds or foxes, and all to do thee good. Besides, consider a littleof these unspeakable and intolerable slightings and rejections, and the manifoldabuses that came from men upon him. How he was falsely accused, being a sweet, harmless,and undefiled lamb. How he was undervalued, so that a murderer was counted less worthyof condemnation than he. Besides, how they mocked him, spit on him, beat him overthe head with staves, had the hair plucked from his cheeks. 'I gave my back to thesmiters,' saith he, 'and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not myface from shame and spitting' (Isa 50:6). His head crowned with thorns, his handspierced with nails, and his side with a spear; together with how they used him, scourgedhim, and so miserably misusing him, that they had even spent him in a great measurebefore they did crucify him; insomuch that there was another fain to carry his cross.Again,
[Third Encouragement.] Not only this, but lay to heart a little what he receivedfrom God, his dear Father, though he were his dear and tender Son.
1. In that he did reckon him the greatest sinner and rebel in the world. Forhe laid the sins of thousands, and ten thousands, and thousands of thousands of sinnersto his charge (Isa 53). And caused him to drink the terrible cup that was due tothem all; and not only so, but did delight in so doing. 'For it pleased the LORDto bruise him.' God dealt indeed with his son, as Abraham would have deal with Isaac;ay, and more terribly by ten thousand parts. For he did not only tear his body likea lion, but made his soul an offering for sin. And this was not done feignedly, butreally–for justice called for it, he standing in the room of sinners. Witness thathorrible and unspeakable agony that fell on him suddenly in the garden, as if allthe vials of God's unspeakable scalding vengeance had been cast upon him all at once,and all the devils in hell had broken loose from thence at once to destroy him, andthat for ever; insomuch that the very pangs of death seized upon him in the samehour. For, saith he, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful' and 'sore amazed,' even 'untodeath' (Mark 14:34).
2. Witness also that strange kind of sweat that trickled down his most blessed face,where it is said: 'And he sweat, as it were, great drops' or clodders 'of blood,'trickling 'down to the ground.' O Lord Jesus! what a load didst thou carry! Whata burden didst thou bear of the sins of the world, and the wrath of God! O thou didstnot only bleed at nose and mouth with the pressure that lay upon thee, but thou wastso pressed, so loaden, that the pure blood gushed through the flesh and skin, andso ran trickling down to the ground. 'And his sweat was as it were great drops ofblood,' trickling or 'falling down to the ground' (Luke 22:44). Canst thou read this,O thou wicked sinner, and yet go on in sin? Canst thou think of this, and defer repentanceone hour longer? O heart of flint! yea, harder. O miserable wretch! What place inhell will be hot enough for thee to have thy soul put into, if thou shalt persistor go on still to add iniquity to iniquity.
3. Besides, his soul went down to hell, and his body to the bars of the grave (Psa16:10; Acts 2:31). And had hell, death, or the grave, been strong enough to holdhim, then he had suffered the vengeance of eternal fire to all eternity. But, O blessedJesus! how didst thou discover thy love to man in thy thus suffering! And, O Godthe Father! how didst thou also declare thy purity and exactness of thy justice,in that, though it was thine only, holy, innocent, harmless, and undefiled Son Jesus,that did take on him our nature, and represent our persons, answering for our sins,instead of ourselves! Thou didst so wonderfully pour out thy wrath upon him, to themaking of him cry out, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' And, O Lord Jesus!what a glorious conquest hast thou made over the enemies of our souls, even wrath,sin, death, hell, and devils, in that thou didst wring thyself from under the powerof them all! And not only so, but hast led them captive which would have led us captive;and also hast received for us that glorious and unspeakable inheritance that 'eyehath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man' to conceive;and also hast given thine some discovery thereof through thy Spirit.
And now, sinner, together with this consider,
4. That though Jesus Christ hath done all these things for sinners, yet the devilsmake it their whole work, and continually study how they may keep thee and othersfrom enjoying of these blessed privileges that have been thus obtained for sinnersby this sweet Jesus. He labours, I say, (1.) To keep thee ignorant of thy state bynature. (2.) To harden thy heart against the ways of God. (3.) To inflame they heartwith love to sin and the ways of darkness. And, (4.) To get thee to continue herein.For that is the way, he knows, to get thee to be a partaker with him of flaming hell-fire,even the same that he himself is fallen into, together with the rest of the wickedworld, by reason of sin. Look to it therefore.
[Fourth Encouragement.] But now, in the next place, a word of encouragement to youthat are the saints of the Lord.
1. Consider what a happy state thou art in that hast gotten the faith of the LordJesus into thy soul; but be sure thou have it, I say, how safe, how sure, how happyart thou! For when others go to hell, thou must go to heaven; when others go to thedevil, thou must go to God; when as others go to prison, thou must be set at liberty,at ease, and at freedom; when others must roar for sorrow of heart, then thou shaltalso sing for the joy of heart.
2. Consider thou must have all thy well-spent life to follow thee instead of allthy sins and the glorious blessings of the gospel instead of the dreadful cursesand condemnations of the law; the blessing of the father, instead of a fiery sentencefrom the judge.
3. Let dissolution come when it will, it can do thee no harm; for it will be butonly a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a sea of troubles into a havenof rest; out of a crowd of enemies, to an innumerable company of true, loving, andfaithful friends; out of shame, reproach, and contempt, into exceeding great andeternal glory. For death shall not hurt thee with his sting, nor bite thee with hissoul-murdering teeth; but shall be a welcome guest to thee, even to thy soul, inthat it is sent to free thee from thy troubles which thou art in whilst here in thisworld dwelling in the tabernacle of clay.
4. Consider however it goes with friends and relations, yet it will go well withthee (Eccl 8:12). However it goes with the wicked, yet 'surely I know'; mark, 'yetsurely I know,' saith he, 'that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fearbefore him.' And therefore let this,
(1.) In the first place, cause thee cheerfully to exercise thy patience under allthe calamities, crosses, troubles, and afflictions that may come upon thee; and,by patient continuance in well-doing, to commit both thyself and thine affairs andactions into the hands of God, through Jesus Christ, as to a faithful Creator, whois true in his word, and loveth to give unto thee whatsoever he hath promised tothee.
(2.) And, therefore, to encourage thee while thou art here with comfort to hold onfor all thy crosses in this thy journey, be much in considering the place that thoumust go into so soon as dissolution comes. It must be into heaven, to God the judgeof all, to an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of just men made perfect,to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written inheaven, and to Jesus, to the redeemer, who is the mediator of the new covenant, andto the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things for thee than Abel's did forCain (Heb 11:22-24).
(3.) Consider that when the time of the dead that they shall be raised is come, thenshall thy body be raised out of the grave and be glorified, and be made like to JesusChrist (Phil 3:21). O excellent condition!
(4.) When Jesus Christ shall sit on the throne of his glory you also shall sit withhim, even when he shall sit on the throne of his glory. O will not this be glorious,that when thousands, and thousands of thousands shall be arraigned before the judgment-seatof Christ, then for them to sit with him upon the throne, together with him to passthe sentence upon the ungodly (1 Cor 6:2,3). Will it not be glorious to enjoy thosethings that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heartof man to conceive?
Will it not be glorious to have this sentence, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inheritthe kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?' Will it not be gloriousto enter then with the angels and saints into that glorious kingdom? Will it notbe glorious for thee to be in glory with them, while others are in unutterable torments?O then, how will it comfort thee to see thou hast not lost that glory; to think thatthe devil hath not got thy soul, that thy soul should be saved, and that not froma little, but from an exceeding danger; not with a little, but a great salvation.O, therefore, let the saints be joyful in glory, let them triumph over all theirenemies. Let them begin to sing heaven upon earth, triumph before they come to glory,salvation, even when they are in the midst of their enemies, for 'this honour haveall his saints' (Psa 149:9).
Verse 29.– 'Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hearthem.'
In the verses foregoing you see there is a discovery of the lamentable state of thepoor soul that dies out of Christ, and the special favour of God. And also how littlethe glorious God of heaven doth regard and take notice of their most miserable condition.
Now in this verse he doth magnify the word which was spoken to the people by theprophets and apostles, 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.' Asif he should say, thou askest me that I should send Lazarus back again into the worldto preach to them that live there, that they might escape that doleful place thatthou art in. What needs that? Have they not Moses and the prophets? Have they nothad my ministers and servants sent unto them and coming as from me? I sent Enochand Noah, Moses and Samuel. I sent David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea,and the rest of the prophets, together with Peter, Paul, John, Matthew, James, Jude,with the rest; 'Let them hear them.' What they have spoken by divine inspirationI will own, whether it be for the damnation of those that reject, or the saving ofthem that receive their doctrine. And, therefore, what need have they that one shouldbe sent unto them in another way? 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hearthem.' Let them receive their word, close in with the doctrine declared by them.I shall not at this time speak anything to that word 'Abraham,' having touched uponit already; but shall tell you what is to be understood by these words, 'They haveMoses and the prophets, let them hear them.' The things that I shall observe fromhence are these:–
[First.] That the scriptures spoken by the holy men of God are a sufficient ruleto instruct to salvation them that do assuredly believe and close in with what theyhold forth. 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.' That is, if theywould escape that doleful place, and be saved indeed from the intolerable pains ofhell-fire, as they desire, they have that which is sufficient to counsel them. 'Theyhave Moses and the prophets'; let them be instructed by them, 'Let them hear them.'For 'all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'; why? 'That the manof God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works' (2 Tim 3:16,17).Do but mark these words, 'All scripture is profitable.' ALL; take it where you will,and in what place you will, 'All is profitable': For what? 'That the man of God,'or he that is bound for heaven, and would instruct others in their progress thither.
It is profitable to instruct him, in case he be ignorant; to reprove him, in casehe transgress; to correct him, if he hath need of it; to confirm him, if he be wavering.It is profitable for doctrine, and all this in a very righteous way–that the poorsoul may not only be helped, but thoroughly furnished, not only to some, but to allgood works. And when Paul would counsel Timothy to stick close to the things thatare sound and sure, presently he puts him upon the scripture, saying, 'From a childthou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation,through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' The scripture holds forth God's mind andwill, of his love and mercy towards man, and also the creature's carriage towardshim from first to last; so if thou wouldst know the love of God in Christ to sinners,then 'search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of him.'
Wouldst thou know what thou art, and what is in thine heart? Then search the Scripturesand see what is written in them (Rom 1:29-31, 3:9-18; Jer 17:9; Gen 6:5, 8:21; Eph4:18, with many others). The Scriptures, I say, they are able to give a man perfectinstruction into any of the things of God necessary to faith and godliness, if hehath but an honest heart seriously to weigh and ponder the several things containedin them. As to instance in things more particular for the further clearing up ofthis. And first, if we come to the creation of the world.
Wouldst thou know somewhat concerning that? Then read Genesis 1 and 2, and comparethem with Psalm 33:6; also Isaiah 66:2; Proverbs 8 towards the end.
Wouldst thou know whether he made them of something or nothing? Read Hebrews 11:3.
Wouldst thou know whether he put forth any labour in making them, as we do in makingthings? Read Psalm 33:9.
If thou wouldst know whether man was made by God corrupt or upright, read Ecclesiastes7:29; Genesis 1:10, 18, 25, 31.
Wouldst thou know where God did place man after he had made him? Read Genesis 2:15.
Wouldst thou know whether that man did live there all his time or not? Then readGenesis 3:23, 24.
If thou wouldst know whether man be still in that state by nature that God did placehim in? Then read Ecclesiastes 7:29, and compare it with Romans 5:16; Ephesians 2:1-3.'God made men upright, but they have sought out many inventions.'
If thou wouldst know whether the man were first beguiled, or the woman that God madean help-mate for him? Read Genesis 3:6, and compare with 1 Timothy 2:14.
Wouldst thou know whether God looked upon Adam's eating [the fruit of] the forbiddentree to be sin or no? Read Romans 5:12-15, and compare it with Genesis 3:17.
Wouldst thou know whether it were the devil who beguiled them, or whether it wasa natural serpent, such as do haunt the desolate places? Read Genesis 3:13, withRevelation 20:1-3.
Wouldst thou know whether that sin be imputed to us? Read Romans 5:12-15, and compareit with Ephesians 2:2.
Wouldst thou know whether man was cursed for his sin? Read Galatians 3:10; Romans5:15.
Wouldst thou know whether the curse did fall on man, or on the whole creation withhim? Compare Genesis 3:17, with Romans 8:20-22.
Wouldst thou know whether man be defiled in every part of him by the sin he hathcommitted? Then read Isaiah 1:6.
Wouldst thou know man's inclination so soon as he is born? Read Psalm 58:3. 'Thewicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born.'
Wouldst thou know whether man once fallen from God by transgression, can recoverhimself by all he can do? Then read Romans 3:20,23.
Wouldst thou know whether it be the desire of the heart of man by nature, to followGod in his own way or no? Compare Genesis 6:5, and Genesis 8:21, with Hosea 11:7.
Wouldst thou know how God's heart stood affected toward man before the world began?Compare Ephesians 1:4, with 2 Timothy 1:9.
Wouldst thou know whether sin were sufficient to draw God's love from his creatures?Compare Jeremiah 3:7, and Micah 7:18, with Romans 5:6-8.
Wouldst thou know whether God's love did still abide towards his creatures for anythingthey could do to make him amends? Then read Deuteronomy 11:5-8.
Wouldst thou know how God could still love his creatures, and do his justice no wrong?Read Romans 3:24-26. 'Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemptionthat is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation' for sin, 'throughfaith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that arepast, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness,that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'
That is, God having his justice satisfied in the blood, and righteousness, and deathof his own Son Jesus Christ for the sins of poor sinners, he can now save them thatcome to him, though never so great sinners, and do his justice no wrong, becauseit hath had a full and complete satisfaction given it by that blood (1 John 1:7,8).
Wouldst thou know who he was, and what he was, that did out of his love die for sinners,then compare John 3:16, 17,; Romans 5:8, with Isaiah 9:6.
Wouldst thou know whether this Saviour had a body of flesh and bones before the worldwas, or took it from the Virgin Mary? Then read Galatians 4:4.
Wouldst thou know whether he did in that body bear all our sins, and where? Thenread 1 Peter 2:24. 'Who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.'
Wouldst thou know whether he did rise again after he was crucified, with the verysame body? Then read Luke 24:38- 41.
Wouldst thou know whether he did eat or drink with his disciples after he rose outof the grave? Then read Luke 24:42, and Acts 10:41.
If thou wouldst be persuaded of the truth of this, that that very body is now abovethe clouds and stars, read Acts 1:9- 11, and Luke 24 toward the end.
If thou wouldst know that the Quakers hold an error that say the body of Christ iswithin them; consider the same scripture.
Wouldst thou know what that Christ that died for sinners is doing in that place whitherhe is gone? Then read Hebrews 7:24.
Wouldst thou know who shall have life by him, read 1 Timothy 1:14, 15, and Romans5:6-8, which say, 'Christ died' for sinners, 'for the ungodly.'
Wouldst thou know whether they that live and die in their sins shall go to heavenor not? Then read 1 Corinthians 6:10; Revelation 21:8, 27, which saith, 'They shallhave their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
Wouldst thou know whether man's obedience will obtain that Christ should die forthem, or save them? Then read Mark 2:17; Romans 5:6, 7.
Wouldst thou know whether righteousness, justification, and sanctification do comethrough the virtue of Christ's blood? Compare Romans 5:9 with Hebrews 12:12.
Wouldst thou know whether natural man can abstain from the outward act of sin againstthe law, merely by a principle of nature? Then compare well Romans 2:14, with Philippians3:6.
Wouldst thou know whether a man by nature may know something of the invisible thingsof God? Compare seriously Romans 1:20, 21 with 2:14, 15.
Wouldst thou know how far a man may go on in a profession of the gospel, and yetfall away? Then read Hebrews 6:4-6. 'They may taste the good Word of God, and thepowers of the world to come.' They may taste 'the heavenly gift, and be partakersof the Holy Ghost,' and yet so fall as never to be recovered, or renewed again untorepentance. See also Luke 13.
Wouldst thou know how hard it is to go to heaven? Read Matthew 7:13, 14; Luke 13:24.
Wouldst thou know whether a man by nature be a friend to God, or an enemy? Then readRomans 5:10; Colossians 1:21.
Wouldst thou know what, or who they are that shall go to heaven? Then read John 3:3-7,and 2 Corinthians 5:17. Also, wouldst thou know what a sad thing it is for any toturn their backs upon the gospel of Jesus Christ? then read Hebrews 10:28, 29, andMark 16:16.
Wouldst thou know what is the wages of sin? Then read Romans 6:23. ['The wages ofsin is death.']
Wouldst thou know whither those do go that die unconverted to the faith of Christ?Then read Psalm 9:17, and Isaiah 14:9.
Reader, here might I spend many sheets of paper, yea, I might upon this subject writea very great book, but I shall now forbear, desiring thee to be very conversant inthe Scriptures, 'for they are they which testify of Jesus Christ' (John 5:39). TheBereans were counted noble upon this account: 'These were more noble than those inThessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searchedthe scriptures daily,' &c. (Acts 17:11). But here let me give thee one caution,that is, have a care that thou do not satisfy thyself with a bare search of them,without a real application of him whom they testify of to thy soul, lest insteadof faring the better for thy doing this work, thou dost fare a great deal the worse,and thy condemnation be very much heightened, in that though thou didst read so oftenthe sad state of those that die in sin, and the glorious estate of them that closein with Christ, yet thou thyself shouldest be such a fool as to lose Jesus Christ,notwithstanding thy hearing, and reading so plentifully of him.
'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
As if he should say, what need have they that one should be sent to them from thedead? Have they not Moses and the prophets? Hath not Moses told them the danger ofliving in sin? (Deut 27:15-26, 28:15-68, 29:18-22). Hath he not there told them,what a sad state those persons are in that deceive themselves with the deceit oftheir hearts, saying they shall have peace though they follow their sins, in thesewords: 'And when he heareth the words of this curse, he blesseth himself in his heart,saying, I shall have peace though I' go on, or 'walk in the imagination of mine heart,to add drunkenness to thirst. The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger ofthe Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that arewritten in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name fromunder heaven.'
Again, Did not Moses write of the Saviour that was to come afterwards into the world?(Deut 18:18). Nay, have not all the prophets from Samuel, with all those that followafter, prophesied, and foretold these things? Therefore what need have they thatI should work such a miracle, as to send one from the dead unto them? 'They haveMoses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
[Second.] From whence observe again, that God doth honour the writings of Moses andthe prophets, as much, nay more, than if one should rise from the dead: 'Should nota people seek unto their God?' What, seek 'for the living among the dead? To thelaw, and to the testimony,' saith God, 'if they speak not according to this word,it is because there is no light in them' (Isa 8:19,20). And let me tell you plainly,I do believe that the devil knows this full well, which makes him labour to begetin the hearts of his disciples and followers light thoughts of them; and doth persuadethem, that even a motion from their own beguiled conscience, or from his own wickedspirit, is to be observed and obeyed before them. When the very apostle of JesusChrist, though he heard a voice from the excellent glory, saying, 'This is my belovedSon,' &c., yet writing to the churches, he commends, the writing of the prophetsbefore it, saying, 'We have also a more sure word of the prophets, to which ye dowell to take heed,' &c. (2 Peter 1:17-19). Now if thou doubtest whether thatplace be meant the scriptures, the words of the prophets or no, read but the nextverse, where he addeth for a certain confirmation thereof, these words, 'Knowingthis first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. Forthe prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake asthey were moved by the Holy Ghost.'
And therefore what a sad thing is it for those that go about to disown the Scriptures!I tell you, however they may slight them now, yet when they come into hell, theywill see their folly: 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
Further, who are they that are so tossed to and fro, with the several winds of doctrinethat have been broached in these days, but such for the most part, as have had alight esteem of the scriptures; for the ground of error, as Christ saith, is becausethey know not them (Mark 12:24). And indeed, it is just with God to give them overto follow their own dark blinded consciences, to be led into errors, that they mightbe damned into hell, who did not believe that the things contained in the Scripturewere the truth, that they might be saved and go to heaven. I cannot well tell howto have done speaking for, and on the Scriptures' side; only this I consider, a wordis enough to the wise; and therefore I shall commit these things into the hands ofthem that are of God; and as for the rest, I shall say to them, rather than God willsave them from hell with the breach of his holy Word, if they had a thousand soulsapiece, God would destroy them all; for 'the Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35).
Verse 30.– 'And he said, Nay, Father Abraham; but if one went unto them from thedead, they will repent.'
The verse before, you know, as I told you, it was part of an answer to such as losetheir souls; so it is a vindication of the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets,'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
Now this verse is an answer to what was said in the former; and such an one as hathin it a rejection of the former answer. 'Nay, father Abraham.' Nay, saith he, donot say so, do not put them off with this; send one from the dead, and then therewill be some hopes. It is true thou speakest of the Scripture, of Moses and the prophets,and sayest, 'let them hear them'; but these things are not so well as I could wish,I had rather thou wouldst send one from the dead. In these words therefore, Nay,father Abraham, there is a repulse given; nay, let it not be so; nay, I do not likeof that answer. Hear Moses and the prophets, nay. The same expression is used byChrist, Luke 13:2, 3. Think you that they upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, weresinners above others? 'I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewiseperish.' So here, Nay, father Abraham, &c.
By this word Nay, therefore, is signified a rejecting the first answer.
Now observe, I pray you, the reason why he says Nay, is, because God doth put overall those that will be saved, to observe and receive the truth contained in Scripture,and believe that. To have a high esteem of them, and to love and search them, asChrist saith, 'Search the Scriptures,' for 'they are they which testify of me' (John5:39). But the damned say, Nay; as if he had said, This is the thing. To be short,my brethren are unbelievers, and do not regard the Word of God. I know it by myself,for when I was in the world, it was so with me; many a good sermon did I hear, manya time was I admonished, desired, entreated, beseeched, threatened, forewarned ofwhat I now suffer; but alas! I was ignorant, self-conceited, surly, obstinate, andrebellious. Many a time the preacher told hell would be my portion, the devil wouldwreck his malice on me; God would pour on me his sore displeasure; but he had asgood have preached to the stock, to the post, to the stones I trod on; his wordsrang in mine ears, but I kept them from mine heart. I remember he alleged many aScripture, but those I valued not; the Scriptures, thought I, what are they? A deadletter, a little ink and paper, of three or four shillings' price. Alas! Whatis the Scripture? Give me a ballad, a news-book, George on horseback, or Bevis ofSouthampton; give me some book that teaches curious arts, that tells of old fables;but for the holy Scriptures I cared not. And as it was with me then, so it is withmy brethren now, we were all of one spirit, loved all the same sins, slighted allthe same counsels, promises, encouragements and threatenings of the Scriptures; andthey are still, as I left them, still in unbelief, still provoking God, and rejectinggood counsel, so hardened in their ways, so bent to follow sin, that let the Scripturesbe showed to them daily, let the messengers of Christ preach till their hearts ache,till they fall down dead with preaching, they will rather trample it under foot,and swine-like rend them, than close in with those gentle and blessed proffers ofthe gospel.
'Nay, father Abraham, but if one should rise from the dead, they would repent.' Thoughthey have Moses and the prophets, the Scriptures, they will not repent and closein with Jesus Christ, though the Scriptures do witness against them. If thereforethere be any good done to them, they must have it another way. I think, saith he,it would work much on them 'if one should rise from the dead.' And this truth indeedis so evident, that ungodly ones have a light esteem of the Scriptures, that it needsnot many strong arguments to prove it, being so evidently manifested by their everyday's practice, both in words and actions, almost in all things they say and do.Yet for the satisfaction of the reader, I shall show you by a scripture or two, thoughI might show many, that this was and is true, with the generality of the world. Seethe words of Nehemiah in his 9th chapter concerning the children of Israel, who thoughthe Lord offered them mercy upon mercy, as it is from verse 19-25, yet verse 26,saith he, 'Nevertheless they were disobedient' for all thy goodness towards them,'and rebelled against thee.' But how? 'And cast thy law behind their backs; slewthy prophets which testified against them, to turn them to thee, and they wroughtgreat provocations.'
Observe, 1. They sinned against mercy. And then, 2. They slighted the law, or Wordof God. 3. They slew the prophets that declared it unto them. 4. The Lord countsit a great provocation. See Hebrews 3:10-19; Zechariah 7:11, 12. 'But they refusedto hearken,' saith he, there of the wicked, 'and pulled away the shoulder, and stoppedtheir ears, that they should not hear' the law. 'Yea, they made their hearts' hardas 'an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lordof hosts hath sent' unto them 'in his Spirit by the former prophets,' &c.
Mark, I pray you, here is also, (1.) A refusing to hearken to the words of the prophets.(2.) That they might so do, they stopped their ears. (3.) If anything was to be done,they pulled away their shoulder. (4.) To effect his, they labour to make their heartshard as an adamant stone. (5.) And all this, lest they should hear and close in withJesus, and live, and be delivered from the wrath to come. All which things do holdout an unwillingness to submit to, and embrace the words of God, and so Jesus Christwhich is testified of by them. Many other scriptures I might bring in for confirmationof the thing, as that in Amos 7:12, 13; also 1 Samuel 2:24, 25; 2 Chronicles 25:15,16; Jeremiah 7:23-28, 16:12. Read also seriously that saying in 2 Chronicles 36:15,where he saith, 'And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers,rising up betimes, because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place.' And did they make them welcome? No, but they mocked the messengers of God,and despised his words. And was that all? No, they 'misused his prophets.' How long?'Until the wrath of the Lord arose against them. Till there was no remedy.' See alsoJeremiah 29:19, 25:3-7; Luke 11:49.
And besides, the conversion of almost all men doth bear witness to the same, bothreligious and profane persons, in that they daily neglect, reject, and turn theirbacks upon the plain testimony of the Scriptures. As,
First. Take the THREATENINGS laid down in holy writ, and how are they disregarded?There are but a few places in the Bible but there are threatenings against one sinneror other; against drunkards, swearers, liars, proud persons, strumpets, whoremongers,covetous, railers, extortioners, thieves, lazy persons. In a word, all manner ofsins are reproved, and without faith in the Lord Jesus, there is a sore punishmentto be executed on the committers of them; and all this made mention of in the Scriptures.
But for all this, how thick, and by heaps, do these wretches walk up and down ourstreets? Do but go into the alehouses, and you shall see almost every room besprinkledwith them, so foaming out their own shame, that it is enough to make the heart ofa saint to tremble, insomuch that they would not be bound to have society with themany long while for all the world. For as the ways of the godly are not liked of bythe wicked, even so the ways of the wicked 'are an abomination to the just' (Prov29:27; Psa 120:5,6).
1. The Scripture says, 'Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh fleshhis arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD' (Jer 17:5).
And yet how many poor souls are there in the world, that stand in so much awe anddread of men, and do so highly esteem their favour, that they will rather venturetheir souls in the hands of the devil with their favour, than they will fly to JesusChrist for the salvation of their souls? Nay, though they be convinced in their souls,that the way is the way of God; yet how do they labour to stifle conviction, andturn their ears away from the truth, and all because they will not lose the favourof an opposite neighbour? O! I dare not for my master, my brother, my landlord, Ishall lose his favour, his house of work, and so decay my calling. O, saith another,I would willingly go in this way, but for my father, he chides and tells me he willnot stand my friend when I come to want; I shall never enjoy a pennyworth of hisgoods; he will disinherit me. And I dare not, saith another, for my husband, forhe will be a railing, and tells me he will turn me out of doors, he will beat me,and cut off my legs. But I tell you, if any of these, or any other things be so prevalentwith thee now, as to keep thee from seeking after Christ in his ways, they will alsobe so prevalent with God against thee, as to make him cast off thy soul, becausethou didst rather trust man than God; and delight in the embracing of man ratherthan in the favour of the Lord.
2. Again, the Scripture saith, 'He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck,shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy' (Prov 29:1). Yet many are sofar from turning, though they have been convinced of their wretched state a hundredtimes, that when convictions or trouble for sin comes on their consciences, theygo on still in the same manner resisting and choking the same, though remedilessdestruction be hard at their heels.
3. Again thou hast heard say, 'Except a man be born again,' 'he cannot enter intothe kingdom of God' (John 3:3-7). And yet thou goest on in a natural state, an unregeneratecondition; nay, thou dost resolve never to turn nor be changed, though hell be appointedon purpose to swallow up such (Isa 14:9). 'The wicked shall be turned into hell,and all the nations that forget God' (Psa 9:17).
4. Again, the Scripture saith plainly that he that loveth and maketh a lie shallhave his part 'in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev 21:8,27).And yet thou art so far from dreading it, that it is thy delight to jest and jeer,and lie for a penny, or twopence, or sixpence, again. And also if thou canst makethe rest of thy companions merry, by telling things that are false, of them thatare better than thyself, thou dost not care a straw. Or if thou hearest a lie from,or of another, thou wilt tell it, and swear to the truth of it, O miserable!
5. Thou hast heard and read, that 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16).And that 'all men have not faith' (2 Thess 3:2). And yet thou dost so much disregardthese things, that it is like thou didst scarce ever so much as examine seriouslywhether thou wast in the faith or no; but dost content thyself with the hypocrite'shope, which at the last God will cut off, and count it not better than the spider'sweb (Job 8:13,14), or the house that is builded on the sands (Luke 6:49). Nay, thouperadventure dost flatter thyself, and thinkest that thy faith is as good as thebest of them all; when, alas, poor soul, thou mayest have no saving faith at all;which thou hast not, if thou be not born again, and made a new creature (2 Cor 2:17).
6. Thou hast heard, that he that neglects God's great salvation shall never escapehis great damnation (Heb 2:3, compared with Luke 14:24, and Rev 14:19,20). And yetwhen thou art invited, intreated, and beseeched to come in, thou wilt make any excuseto serve the turn (Luke 14:17,18; Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 5:19,20). Nay, thou wilt be sowicked as to put off Christ time after time, notwithstanding he is so freely profferedto thee; a little ground, a few oxen,
a farm, a wife, a twopenny matter, a play; nay, the fear of a mock, a scoff or ajeer, is of greater weight to draw thee back, than the salvation of thy soul to drawthee forward.
7. And thou hast heard, that whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemyof God (James 4:4). But thou regardest not these things, but contrariwise; ratherthan thou wilt be out of the friendship and favour of this world, thou wilt sin againstthine own conscience, and get thyself into favour by fawning and flattering of theworld. Yea, rather than thou wilt go without it, thou wilt dissemble, lie, backbitethy neighbour, and an hundred other tricks thou wilt have.
8. You have heard that the day of judgment is near, in which you and I, all of us,must appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, and there be made to give an accountto him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead; even of all that ever we did,yea, of all our sins in thought, word, and deed, and shall certainly be damned forthem too, if we close not in with our Lord Jesus Christ, and what he hath done andsuffered for eternal life; and that not notionally or traditionally, but really andsavingly, in the power, and by the operation of the Spirit, through faith (Eccl 11:9,12:14; Acts 10:42, 17:30,31; 2 Cor 5:10; Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12). 'And I saw the dead,small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book wasopened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things whichwere written in the books.' There is the book of the creatures, the book of conscience,the book of the Lord's remembrance, the book of the law, the book of the gospel (Rom1:20, compare with Rom 2:12,15; Rev 6:17; John 12:48). Then 'he shall separatethem one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep on the right hand, but thegoats on his left' (Matt 25:30-32). 'And shall say to them on his right hand, Come,ye blessed' (v 34). But to the other, go, or 'Depart, ye cursed' (v 41). Yet, notwithstandingthe Scriptures do so plainly and plentifully speak of these things, alas! who isthere that is weaned from the world, and from their sins and pleasures, to fly fromthe wrath to come? (Matt 3:7). Notwithstanding the Scripture saith also that heavenand earth shall pass away, rather than one jot, or one tittle of the word shall fail,'till all be fulfilled,' they are so certain (Luke 21:33; Matt 5:18).
[Second PROMISES.] But leaving the threatenings, let us come to THE PROMISES, andspeak somewhat of them, and you may see how light men make of them, and how littlethey set by them, notwithstanding the mouth of the Lord hath spoken them. As
1. 'Turn,' ye fools, ye scorners, ye simple ones, 'at my reproof'; and 'behold Iwill pour out my Spirit unto you' (Prov 1:23). And yet persons had rather be in theirfoolishness and scorning still, and had rather embrace some filthy lust, than theholy, undefiled, and blessed Spirit of Christ, through the promise, though by it,as many as receive it, 'are sealed unto the day of redemption' (Eph 4:30), and althoughhe that lives and dies without it, is none of Christ's (Rom 8:9).
2. God hath said, if thou do but come to him in Christ, 'Though your sins be as'red as 'scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'; and he will by no means cast theeaway. Compare Isaiah 1:18 with John 6:37. Yet poor souls will not come to Christthat they might have life (John 5:40), but rather after their hardness and impenitentheart treasurest up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelationof the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5).
3. Christ Jesus hath said in the Word of truth that if any man will serve and followhim, where he is, 'there shall also his servant be' (John 12:26). But yet poor soulschoose rather to follow sin, Satan, and the world, though their companions be thedevils and damned souls for ever (Matt 25:41).
4. He hath also said, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all' other 'things shallbe added.' But let whoso will seek after the kingdom of heaven first for them; forthey will take the first time, while time serves to get the things of this life.And if it be so, that they must needs seek after heaven, or else be damned, theywill stay till they have more leisure, or till they can better attend to it; or tillthey have other things handsome about them, or till they are older; when they havelittle else to do, or when they come to be sick, and to die. Then, Lord, have mercyupon them! though it be ten thousand to one but they perish for ever.
For commonly the Lord hath this way to deal with such sinners, who put him off whenhe is striving with them, either to laugh at their calamity, and mock when theirfear cometh (Prov 1:26,28). Or else send them to the gods they have served, whichare the devils (Judg 10:13,14). Go to the gods you have served, and 'let them deliveryou,' saith he; compare this with John 8:44.
5. He hath said, 'There is no man that forsaketh father, or mother, wife, or children,or lands, for his sake and the gospel's, but shall have a hundred fold in this world,with persecution, and in the world to come life everlasting' (Mark 10:29,30).
But men, for the most part, are so far off from believing the certainty of this,that they will scarce lose the earning of a penny to hear the Word of God, the gospelof salvation. Nay, they will neither go themselves, nor suffer others to go, if theycan help it, without threatening to do them a mischief, if it lie in their way. Nay,further, many are so far from parting from any worldly gain for Christ's sake, andthe gospel's, that they are still striving, by hook and by crook, as we say, by swearing,lying, cozening, stealing, covetousness, extortion, oppression, forgery, bribery,flattery, or any other way to get more, thou they get together with these, death,wrath, damnation, hell, the devil, and all the plagues that God can pour upon them.And if any do not run with them to the same excess of riot, but rather for all theirthreats will be so bold and careless, as they call it, as to follow the ways of God;if they can do no more, yet they will whet their tongues like a sword to wound them,and do them the greatest mischief they can, both in speaking against them to neighbours,to wives, to husbands, to landlords, and raising false reports of them. But let suchtake heed lest they be in such a state, and woeful condition as he was in, who said,in vexation and anguish of soul, One drop of cold water to cool my tongue.
Thus might I add many things out of the holy Writ, both threatenings and promises,besides those heavenly counsels, loving reproofs, free invitations to all sorts ofsinners, both old and young, rich and poor, bond and free, wise and unwise. All whichhave been, now are, and is to be feared, as long as this world lasts, will be trampledunder the feet of those swine, I call them not men, who will continue in the same.But take a review of some of them:–
What heavenly counsel is that where Christ saith, 'buy of me gold tried by the fire,that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and thatthe shame of thy nakedness do not appear' (Rev 3:18). Also that, 'Ho, every one thatthirsteth, come ye to the waters; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money andwithout price' (Isa 55:1). 'Hear, and your soul shall live' (v 3). 'Take hold ofmy strength, that you may make peace with me, and you shall make peace with me' (Isa27:5).
What instruction is here?
'Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that hearethme,' saith Christ, 'watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord' (Prov 8:33-35).Take heed that no man deceive you by any means. 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth,but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life' (John 6:27). 'Strive to enterin at the strait gate' (Luke 13:24). 'Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt besaved' (Acts 16:31). 'Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits.' 'Quench notthe Spirit.' 'Lay hold on eternal life.' 'Let your light so shine before men, thatthey may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven' (Matt 5:16).Take heed, and beware of hypocrisy; 'watch and be sober,' 'learn of me,' saith Christ,'come unto me.'
What forewarning is here?
'Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke, then a greatransom cannot deliver thee' (Job 36:18). 'Be ye not mockers, lest your hands be madestrong, for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts, a consumption even determinedupon the whole earth' (Isa 28:22). 'Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you thatis written, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish. For I work a work in yourdays, which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you' (Acts13:40,41). 'Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall' (1 Cor 10:12).'Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation' (Matt 26:41). 'Let us thereforefear lest a promise being' made, and 'left us of entering into his rest, any of youshould seem to come short of it' (Heb 4:1). 'I will therefore put you in remembrance,though you once knew this, how that the Lord having saved the people out of Egypt,afterward destroyed them that believed not' (Jude 5). 'Hold that fast which thouhast, that no man take thy crown' (Rev 3:11).
What comfort is here?
'Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). 'Come unto me, allye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest' (Matt 11:28). 'Beof good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee' (Matt 9:2). 'I will never leave, nor forsakethee,' for 'I have loved thee with an
everlasting love' (Jer 31:3). 'I lay down my life for the sheep.' I lay down my lifethat they may have life. 'I am come that they might have life, and that they mighthave it more abundantly.' 'I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day ofsalvation have I succoured thee' (2 Cor 6:2). 'Though your sins be as scarlet, theyshall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.''For I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgression, and as a cloud thy sins;return unto me, for I have redeemed thee' (Isa 44:22).
5. Grief to those that fall short.
O sad grief!
'How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof, and have not obeyedthe voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov5:11- 13). They shall 'curse their king and their God, and look upward. And theyshall look unto the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, andthey shall be driven to darkness' (Isa 8:21,22). 'He hath dispersed' abroad, 'hehath given to the poor, his righteousness endureth for ever. - The wicked shall seeit, and be grieved, he shall gnash his teeth, and melt away; the desire of the wickedshall perish' (Psa 112:9,10). 'There shall be weeping, - when ye shall see Abraham,and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselvesthrust out' (Luke 13:28). All which things are slighted by the world.
Thus much, in short, touching this, That ungodly men undervalue the Scriptures, andgive no credit to them, when the truth that is contained in them is held forth insimplicity unto them, but rather cry out, Nay, but if one should rise from the deadthen they think something might be done; when alas, though signs and wonders werewrought by the hands of those that preach the gospel, these poor creatures wouldnever the sooner convert, though they suppose they should, as is evident by the carriagesof their forerunners, who albeit the Lord Jesus Christ himself did confirm his doctrineby miracles, as opening blind eyes, casting out of devils, and raising the dead,they were so far from receiving either him or his doctrine, that they put him todeath for his pains! Though he had done so many miracles among them, yet they believednot in him (John 12:37).
But to pass this, I shall lay down some of the grounds of their rejecting and undervaluingthe Scriptures, and so pass on.
1. [Ground.] Because they do not believe that they are the Word of God, but rathersuppose them to be the inventions of men, written by some politicians, on purposeto make poor ignorant people to submit to some religion and government. Thoughthey do not say this, yet their practices testify the same; as he that when he hearsthe words of the curse, yet blesseth himself in his heart, and saith he shall havepeace, though God saith he shall have none (Deut 29:18-20). And this must needs be,for did but men believe this, that it is the Word of God, then they must believethat he that speak it is true, therefore shall every word and tittle be fulfilled.And if they come once to this, unless they be stark mad, they will have a care howthey do throw themselves under the lash of eternal vengeance. For the reason whythe Thessalonians received the Word, was, because they believed it was the Word ofGod, and not the word of man, which did effectually work in them by their thus believing.'When ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us,' saith he, 'ye received itnot as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectuallyworketh also in you that believe' (1 Thess 2:13). So that did a man but receive itin hearing, or reading, or meditating, as it is the Word of God, they would be converted.'But the Word preached did not profit, - not being mixed with faith in them thatheard it' (Heb 4:2).
2. [Ground.] Because they do not indeed see themselves by nature heirs of that exceedingwrath and vengeance that the Scriptures testify of. For did they but consider whatGod intends to do with those that live and die in a natural state, it would eithersink them into despair, or make them fly for refuge to the hope that is set beforethem. But if there be never such sins committed, and never so great wrath denounced,and the time of execution be never so near, yet if the party that is guilty be senseless,and altogether ignorant thereof, he will be careless, and regards it nothing at all.And that man, by nature, is in this condition, it is evident. For, take the sameman that is senseless, and ignorant of that misery he is in by nature, I say, takehim at another time when he is a little awakened, and then you shall hear him roar,and cry out so long as trouble is upon him, and a sense of the wrath of God hangingover his head, Good sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Though the same man at another time, when his conscience is fallen asleep, and grownhard, will lie like the smith's dog at the foot of the anvil, though the fire-sparksfly in his face. But, as I said before, when any one is a little awakened, O whatwork will one verse, one line, nay, one word of the holy Scriptures make in his heart.He cannot eat, sleep, work, keep company with his former companions, and all becausehe is afraid that the damnation spoken of in Scripture will fall to his share, likeBalaam, who said, 'I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord' (Num 22:18). So longas he had something of the word of the Lord with authority, severity, and power onhis heart; but at another time he could teach 'Balak to cast a stumbling- block beforethe children of Israel' (Rev 2:14).
3. [Ground.] Because the carnal priests do tickle the ears of their hearers withvain philosophy and deceit, and thereby harden their hearts against the simplicityof the gospel and Word of God, which things the apostle admonished those that havea mind to close in with Christ to avoid, saying, 'Beware lest any man,' be he whathe will, 'spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men,and rudiments of the world, and not after Christ' (Col 2:8). And you who muzzle upyour people in ignorance with Aristotle, Plato, and the rest of the heathenish philosophers,and preach little, if anything, of Christ rightly; I say unto you, that you willfind you have sinned against God, and beguiled your hearers, when God shall, in thejudgment-day, lay the cause of the damnation of many thousands of souls to your charge,and say, He will require their blood at your hands (Eze 33:6).
4. [Ground.] Another reason why the carnal unbelieving world do so slight the Scripturesand Word of God, is, because the judgment spoken of in the Scripture is not presentlyexecuted on the transgressors. 'Because sentence against an evil work is not executedspeedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil'(Eccl 8:11). Because God doth not presently strike the poor wretch as soon as hesins, but waits, and forbears, and is patient, therefore the world judging God tobe unfaithful, go to it again and again, and every time grow harder and harder, tillat last God is forced either to stretch out his mighty power to turn them, or elsesend death, with the devil and hell, to fetch them. 'Thou thoughtest,' saith God,'that I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will reprove thee, and set themin order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear youin pieces, and there be none to deliver' (Psa 50:21,22).
5. [Ground.] Another reason why the blind world do slight the authority of Scripture,is, because they give ear to the devil, who, through his subtilty, casteth falseevasions and corrupt interpretations on them, rendering them not so point blank themind of God, and a rule for direction to poor souls, persuading them that they mustgive ear and way to something else besides, and beyond that; or else he labours torender it vile and contemptible, by persuading them that it is a dead letter, whenindeed they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For the Scripture isnot so dead but that the knowledge of it is able to make any man wise unto salvation,through faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15); and is profitablefor instruction, reproof, and correction in righteousness, that the man of God maybe thoroughly furnished to all good works (v 17).
And where it is said the letter killeth, he meaneth the law, as it is the ministrationof damnation, or a covenant of works, and so indeed it doth kill, and must do so,because it is just, forasmuch as the party that is under the same is not able toyield to it a complete and continual obedience. But yet I will call Peter and Paulto witness that the Scriptures are of a very glorious concernment, inasmuch as inthem is held forth to us the way of life; and also in that they do administer goodground of hope to us. 'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were writtenfor our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might havehope' (Rom 15:4). And again, 'Now to him that is of power to stablish you accordingto my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of themystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, andby the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlastingGod, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith' (Rom 16:25,26). And thereforewhosoever they be that slight the Scriptures, they slight that which is no less thanthe Word of God; and they who slight that, slight him that spake it; and they thatdo so, let them look to themselves, for God will be revenged on such. Much more mightbe said to this thing, but I would not be tedious.
A word or two more, so I have done with this. Consider the
danger of slighting the words of the prophets or apostles, whether they be correction,reproof, admonition, forewarning, or the blessed invitations and promises containedin them.
1. [Consider] Such souls do provoke God to anger, and to execute his vengeance onthem. 'They refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears,that they should not hear' the law, and 'they made their hearts as an adamant stone,lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of Hosts hath sent inhis Spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord ofHosts' (Zech 7:11,12).
2. [Consider] God will not regard in their calamity. 'Because I have called, andye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set atnought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity,I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and yourdestruction cometh as a whirlwind. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer;they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me' (Prov 1:24-28).
3. [Consider] God doth commonly give up such men to delusions, to believe lies. 'Becausethey received not the love of the truth that they might be saved,' therefore 'Godshall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all mightbe damned' (2 Thess 2:10-12).
4. [Consider] In a word, they that do continue to reject and slight the Word of God,they are such, for the most part, as are ordained to be damned. Old Eli, his sonsnot hearkening to the voice of their father reproving them for their sins, but disobeyinghis voice, it is said, It was 'because the Lord would slay them' (1 Sam 2:25). Againsee in 2 Chronicles 25:15, 16. Amaziah having sinned against the Lord, he sends tohim a prophet to reprove him; but Amaziah says, 'Forbear, why shouldest thou be smitten?'He did not hearken to the word of God, 'Then the prophet forbare, saying, I knowthat God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast - not hearkened untomy counsel.' Read, therefore, and the Lord give thee understanding. For a miserableend will those have that go on sinning against God, rejecting his Word.
Other things might have been observed from this verse, which at this time I shallpass by; partly because the sum of them hath been touched already, and may be moreclearly hinted at in the following verse; and therefore I shall speak a few wordsto the next verse, and so draw towards a conclusion.
Verse 31.– 'And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neitherwill they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.'
'And he said'; that is, and God made answer to the words spoken in the verse before,'And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses,' &c. As if he had said, Moseswas a man of great renown, a man of worthy note, a man that talked with God faceto face, as a man speaketh to his friend. The words that Moses spake were such asI commanded him to speak. Let who will question them, I will own them, credit them,bless them that close in with them, and curse those that reject them.
I myself sent the prophets, they did not run of their own heads, I gave them commission,I thrust them out, and told them what they should say. In a word, they have toldthe world what my mind is to do, both to sinners and to saints; 'They have Mosesand the prophets, let them hear them.' Therefore he that shall reject and turn hisback either upon the threatenings, counsels, admonitions, invitations, promises,or whatsoever else I have commanded them to speak as to salvation and life, and todirections therein, shall be sure to have a share in the many curses that they havespoken, and the destruction that is pronounced by them. Again, 'If they hearnot Moses and the prophets,' &c. As if he had said, Thou wouldst have me sendone from the dead unto them; what needs that? They have my mind already, I have declaredunto them what I intend to stand to, both for saving them that believe, and damningthem that do not. That therefore which I have said I will make good, whether theyhear or forbear. And as for this desire of yours, you had as good desire me to makea new Bible, and so to revoke my first sayings by the mouth of my prophets. But Iam God and not man, and my Word is immutable, unchangeable, and shall stand as fastas my decrees can make it; heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittleof my Word shall not pass (Matt 5:18). If thou hadst ten thousand brethren, and everyone in danger of losing his soul, if they did not close in with what is containedand recorded in the Scriptures of truth, they must even every one of them perish,and be for ever damned in hell, for the Scriptures cannot be broken. I did not sendthem so unadvisedly to recall it again by another consideration. No, for I speakin righteousness and in judgment (Isa 63:1-3), and in much wisdom and counsel. Itbeing therefore gone out of my mouth in this manner, it shall not return in vain,until it hath accomplished the thing whereto I have sent it (Isa 55:11).
But again, thou supposest that miracles and wonders will work more on them, whichmakes thee say, Send one from the dead. But herein thou art mistaken, for I haveproved them with that once and again, by more than one, or two, or three of my servants.How many miracles did my servant Moses work by commandment from me in the land ofEgypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness! Yet they of that generation were neverthe sooner converted for that; but, notwithstanding, rebelled and lusted, and intheir hearts turned back into Egypt (Acts 7). How many miracles did Samuel, David,Elias, Elisha, Daniel, and the prophets, together with my Son, who raised the dead,cast out devils, made them to see that were born blind, gave and restored limbs!Yet for all this, as I said before, they hated him, they crucified him. I raisedhim again from the dead, and he appeared to his disciples, who were called, and chosen,and faithful, and he gave them commandment and commission to go and testify the truthof this to the world; and to confirm the same he enabled them to speak with diverstongues, and to work miracles most plentifully, yet there was great persecution raisedagainst them, insomuch that but a few of them died in their beds. And, therefore,though thou thinkest that a miracle will do so much with the world, yet I say no.For if they will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuadedthough one should rise from the dead.
From these words, therefore, take notice of this truth, namely, that those who rejectand believe not Moses and the prophets are a very hard-hearted people, that willnot be persuaded though one rise from the dead. They that regard not the holy Scripturesto turn to God, finding them to testify of his goodness and mercy, there is but littlehopes of their salvation; for they will not, mark, they will not be persuaded thoughone should rise from the dead. This truth is confirmed by Jesus Christ himself. Ifyou read John 5, where the Lord is speaking of himself that he is the very Christ,he brings in four or five witnesses to back what he said. 1. John Baptist. 2. Theworks that his Father gave him to do. 3. His Father speaking from heaven. 4. Thetestimony of the Scriptures. When all this was done, seeing yet they would not believe,he lays the fault upon one of these two things:–(1.) Their regarding an esteem amongmen. (2.) Their not believing of the prophets' writings, even Moses and the rest.'For had ye believed Moses,' saith he, 'ye would have believed me; for he wrote ofme. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?'
Now, I say, he that shall slight the Scriptures, and the testimony of the prophetsin them concerning Jesus Christ, must needs be in great danger of losing his soul,if he abide in this condition; because he that slights the testimony doth also slightthe thing testified of, let him say the contrary never so often. For as Jesus Christhath here laid down the reason of men's not receiving him, so the apostle in anotherplace lays down the reason again with a high and mighty aggravation (1 John 5:10),saying, 'He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he thatbelieveth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record,' mark,'the record that God gave of his Son.' The record, you will say, what is that? Whyeven the testimony that God gave of him by the mouth of all the holy prophets sincethe world began (Acts 3:18-20). That is, God sending his holy Spirit into the heartsof his servants, the prophets and apostles, he, by his Spirit in them, did bear witnessor record of the truth of salvation by his Son Jesus, both before and after his coming.And thus is that place also to be understood which saith, 'There are three that bearwitness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.' That is, the Spiritin the apostles which preached him to the world, as is clear if you read seriously1 Thessalonians 4:8. The apostle, speaking of Jesus Christ and obedience to God throughhim, saith thus, Now 'he that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God.' But it is youthat speak; true, but it is by and through the Spirit, 'He therefore that despiseth,despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.' This istherefore a mighty confirmation of this truth, that he that slights the record ortestimony that God, by his Spirit in his prophets and apostles, hath testified untous, slights the testimony of the Spirit who moved them to speak these things; andif so, then I would fain know how any man can be saved by Jesus Christ that slightsthe testimony concerning Christ, yea, the testimony of his own Spirit concerninghis own self? It is true men may pretend to have the testimony of the Spirit, andfrom that conceit set a low esteem on the holy Scriptures; but that spirit that dwellethin them and teacheth them so to do, it is no better than the spirit of Satan, thoughit calls itself by the name of the Spirit of Christ. 'To the law,' therefore, 'andto the testimony,' try them by that; 'if they speak not according to this word, itis because there is no light in them.'
The apostle Peter, when he speaks of the glorious voice that he had from the excellentmajesty, saying of Christ, 'This is my beloved Son, hear him,' saith thus to themwhom he wrote unto, 'You have also a more sure word of prophecy,' or of the prophets,for so you may read it, 'unto which ye do well that ye take heed.' That is, thoughwe tell you that we had this excellent testimony from his own mouth evidently, yetyou have the prophets. We tell you this, and you need not doubt of the truth of it;but if you should, yet you may not, must not, ought not to question them. Searchtherefore into them, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. Thatis until by the same Spirit that gave forth the Scripture you find the truth confirmedto your souls, which you have recorded in the Scriptures– that this word of prophecy,or of the prophets, is the Scriptures. Read on; for, saith he, 'knowing this first,that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,' &c. (2 Peter1:20).
[Object.] But, you will say, What needs all this ado, and why is all this time andpains spent in speaking to this that is surely believed already? This is a thingreceived by all, that they believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, that sureword of prophecy; and therefore you need not spend your time in proving these things,and the truth of them, seeing we grant and confess the truth of it before you beingto speak your judgment of them.
Answ. The truths of God cannot be borne witness unto too often; you may as well say,1. You need not preach Jesus Christ so much, seeing he hath been, and is receivedfor the true Messias already. 2. Though many may suppose that they do believe theScriptures, yet if they were but well examined, you will find them either by wordof mouth, or else by conversation, to deny, reject, and slight the holy Scriptures.It is true, there is a notional and historical assent in the head. I say, in thehead of many, or most, to the truth contained in Scripture. But try them, I say,and you shall find but a little, if any, of the faith of the operation of God inthe hearts of poor men, to believe the Scriptures, and things contained in them.Many, yea, most men believe the Scriptures as they believe a fable, a story, a tale,of which there is no certainty! But alas! there are but few do in deed and in truthbelieve the Scriptures to be the very Word of God.
Object. But you will say, This seems strange to me.
Answ. And it seems as true to me, and I doubt not but to make it manifest, that thereare but few, yea, very few, that do effectually, for that I aim at, believe the Scripturesand the truths contained in and spoken of by them.
But to make this appear, and that to purpose, if God will, I shall lay you down theseveral operations that the Scriptures have on them who do effectually believe thethings contained in them.
First. He that doth effectually believe the Scriptures, hath in the first place beenkilled, I say killed by the authority of the holy Scriptures; struck stark dead ina spiritual sense, by the holy Scriptures, being set home by that Spirit, which gavethem forth, upon the soul. 'The letter killeth'; the letter strikes men dead (2 Cor3:6). And this Paul witnessed and found, before he could say, I believe all thatthe prophets have spoken. Where he saith, 'I was alive without the law once.' Thatis, in my natural state, before the law was set on my heart with power; 'But whenthe commandment came, sin revived and I died' (Rom 7:9). 'And that law which wasordained to life, I found to be unto death; for sin, taking occasion by the commandment,deceived me, and by it slew me' (v 11). Now that which is called 'the letter' in2 Corinthians, is called the law in Romans 7, which by its power and operation, asit is wielded by the Spirit of God, doth in the first place kill and slay all thosethat are enabled to believe the Scriptures. I kill, saith God: that is, with my lawI pierce, I wound, I prick men into the very heart, by showing them their sins againstmy law (Deut 31:26; Acts 2:37). And he that is ignorant of this, is also ignorantof, and doth not really and effectually believe the Scripture.
But you will say, How doth the law kill and strike dead the poor creatures?
Answ. The letter or law doth kill thus. It is set home upon the soul, and discoversto the soul its transgressions against the law, and shows the soul also, that itcannot completely satisfy the justice of God, for the breach of his law, thereforeit is condemned (John 3:18). Mark, 'He that believeth not, is condemned already.'To wit, by the law, that is, the law doth condemn him; yea, it hath condemned himalready for his sins against it; as it is written, 'Cursed is every one that continuethnot in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3:10).Now all men as they come into the world are in this condition, that is, condemnedby the law. Yet not believing their condemnation by the law really, they do not alsobelieve really and effectually the law that doth condemn them. For as men have buta notion of the one, that is, their condemnation, because of sins against the law:so they have but a notion of the condemning, killing, and destroying power of thelaw. For, as the one is, so in these things always is the other. There is no manthat doth really believe the law or gospel, further than they do feel the power andauthority of them in their hearts. 'Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor thepower of God.' Now this letter or law, is not to be taken in the largest sense, butis strictly to be tied to the ten commandments, whose proper work is only by showingthe soul its sin against this law, to kill, and there leaves him stark dead, notgiving him the least life, or support, or comfort, but leaves the soul in a helplessand hopeless condition, as from itself, or any other mere creature.
It is true the law hath laid all men for dead, as they come into the world; but allmen do not see themselves dead, until they see that law that struck them dead, strikingin their souls, and having struck them that fatal blow. As a man that is fast asleepin a house, and that on fire about his ears, and he not knowing of it because heis asleep; even so, because poor souls are asleep in sin, though the wrath of God,the curse of his law, and the flames of hell have beset them round about, yet theydo not believe it, because they are asleep in sin. Now, as he that is awakened andsees this, sees that through this he is a dead man; even so they that do see theirstate by nature, being such a sad condition, do also see themselves by that law tobe dead men naturally.
But now, when didst thou feel the power of this first part of the Scripture, thelaw, so mighty as to strike thee dead? If not, thou dost not so much as verily believethat part of the Scripture that doth contain the law in it, to be the truth of God.Yet if thou shouldest have felt something, I say, something of the killing powerof the law of God in thine heart, this is not an argument to prove that thou believestall the things contained in Scripture, for there is gospel as well as law, and thereforeI shall speak to that also, that is, whether thou hast felt the power of the gospel,as well as something of the power of the law.
Second. Then thou hast found the power of the gospel, and so believed it, thou hastfound it thus with thy soul.
1. Thou hast been showed by the Word or truth of the gospel, in the light of theSpirit of Christ, that by nature thou wert without the true faith of the Son of Godin thy soul. For when He, the Spirit, is come, he shall show men that 'they believenot in me,' saith Christ (John 16:9). Mark, though thou hast, as I said before, feltsomewhat of the power of the law, letter, or ten commandments, yet, as thou hastnot been brought to this, to see by the Spirit in the gospel, that thou art withoutfaith by nature, thou hast not yet tasted, much less believed, any part of the gospel.For the gospel and the law are two distinct covenants. And they that are under thelaw or first covenant, and yet in the meantime to be a stranger to the covenant ofpromise, that is, the gospel, and so have no hope in them (Eph 2:12). There is notany promise that can be savingly believed, until the soul be by the gospel convertedto Jesus Christ. For though men do think never so much that they believe the thingsor the Word of the gospel of our salvation; yet unless they have the work of gracein their souls, they do not, cannot rightly believe the things contained in the Scriptures.Again,
2. As the law killeth those that believe it, even so the promises contained in thegospel do, through faith, administer comfort to those that believe it aright. Mywords, saith Christ, My words, 'they are Spirit, and they are life' (John 6:63).As if he had said, the words contained in the law as a covenant of works, they wound,they kill, they strike dead those that are under them. But as for me, 'The wordsthat I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' That is, whosoever dothreceive them believingly, shall find them full of operation, to comfort, quicken,and revive their soul. For as I did not come into the world to destroy men's lives,so the words that I speak, as I am sent to preach the gospel, they have no such tendencyunto those that believe them. The promises that are in the gospel, O how do theycomfort them! Such a promise, and such a promise, O how sweet is it! How comfortableto those that believe them! Alas! there are many poor souls that think they believethe Scriptures to be the Word of God, and yet they never enjoyed anything of thelife and promises; they come in upon the heart to quicken, to revive thee, to raisethee from the sentence of death that is passed on thee by the law. And through thefaith that is wrought in thy soul, by the operation of God's Holy Spirit, thoughonce killed by the law or letter, thou art made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ, whois presented to thy soul in the promises.
Third. Dost thou in deed and in truth believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God?Then the things contained in them, especially the things of the gospel, are veryexcellent to thy soul; as the birth of Christ, the death, resurrection, intercession,and second coming. O how precious and excellent are they to thy soul! insomuch thatthou regardest nothing in comparison of them! O! it is Christ's birth, death, blood,resurrection, &c., according to the Scriptures, that thou dost rejoice in exceedingly,and abundantly desire after! 'Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom thou now yesee him not, yet believing ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory' (1Cor 15:1-6, compared with Phil 3:6-8; 1 Peter 1:8).
Fourth. Dost thou believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God? Then thou standestin awe of, and dost much reverence them. Why, they are the Word of God, the truesayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are his promises and his threatenings.Poor souls are apt to think, if I could hear God speak to me from heaven with anaudible voice, then sure I should be serious and believe it. But truly, if God shouldspeak to thee from heaven, except thou wert converted, thou wouldst not regard, norreally believe him. But if thou dost believe the Scriptures, thou seest that theyare the truth as really as if God should speak to thee from heaven through the clouds,and therefore never flatter thyself, foolishly thinking, that if it were so and so,then thou couldst believe. I tell thee, saith Christ, If they believe 'not Mosesand the prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead.'But,
Fifth. Dost thou believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God? Then, through faithin Christ, thou endeavourest to have thy life squared according to the Scriptures,both in word and practice. Nay, this I say, thou mayest have though thou do not believethem all. My meaning is, that if thou believe none but the ten commandments, thylife may be, according to them, a legal holy life; and if thou do believe the gospeltoo, then thy life will be the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, either thouwilt live in the blessed and holy enjoyment of what is testified in the Scriptureconcerning the glorious things of the Lord Jesus Christ, or else thou wilt be exceedinglypanting after them. For the Scriptures carry such a blessed beauty in them to thatsoul that hath faith in the things contained in them, that they do take the heartand captivate the soul of him that believeth them into the love and liking of them,believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets, and have hopetowards God that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just andunjust. 'And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offencetoward God and toward men' (Acts 24:14-16).
Sixth. He that believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God, if he do but supposethat any one place of Scripture doth exclude him, and shut him out of, and from ashare in the promises contained in them, O it will trouble him, grieve him, perplexhim. Yea, he will not be satisfied until he be resolved, and the contrary sealedto his soul; for he knows that the Scriptures are the word of God, all truth; andtherefore he knows that if any one sentence doth exclude or bar him out for wantof this or the other qualification, he knows also that not the word alone shuts himout, but he that speaks it, even God himself. And, therefore, he cannot, will not,dare not be contented until he find his soul and Scripture together, with the thingscontained therein, to embrace each other, and a sweet correspondency and agreementbetween them. For you must know that to him that believes the Scriptures aright,the promises, or threatenings, are of more power to comfort or cast down, than allthe promises or threatenings of all the men in the world. And this was the causewhy the martyrs of Jesus did so slight both the promises of their adversaries, whenthey would have overcome them, with proffering the great things of this world untothem, and also their threatenings, when they told them they would rack them, hangthem, burn them (Acts 20:24). None of these things could prevail upon them, or againstthem; because they did most really believe the Scriptures, and the things containedin them, as is clearly found, and to be seen in Hebrews 11, and also in Mr. Fox'srecords of their brethren.
Seventh. He that believeth the Scriptures to be the Word of God, believeth that menmust be born again, and also be partakers of that faith which is of the operationof God, according as he hath read and believed, or else he must and shall be damned.And he that believeth this aright will not be contented until, according as it iswritten, he do partake of and enjoy the new birth, and until he do find, throughgrace, that faith that is wrought by the operation of God in his soul. For this isthe cause why men do satisfy themselves with so slender a conceited hope that theirstate is good, when it is nothing so, namely, because they do not credit the Scripture;for did they, they would look into their own hearts, and examine seriously whetherthat faith, that hope, that grace which they think they have be of that nature, andwrought by that spirit and power that the Scripture speaketh of. I speak this ofan effectual believing, without which all other is nothing unto salvation.
[FIVE USES BY WAY OF SELF-EXAMINATION.]
Now then, because I would not be too tedious, I shall at this time lay down no morediscoveries of such an one as doth savingly believe the Scriptures, and the thingscontained in them, but shall speak a few words of examination concerning the thingsalready mentioned. As,
First USE. Thou sayest thou dost in deed and in truth effectually believe the Scriptures:I ask, therefore, wast thou ever killed stark dead by the law of works containedin the Scriptures–killed by the law or letter, and made to see thy sins against it,and left in a helpless condition by that law? For, as I said, the proper work ofthe law is to slay the soul, and to leave it dead in a helpless state. For it dothneither give the soul any comfort itself when it comes, nor doth it show the soulwhere comfort is to be had; and therefore it is called 'the ministration of condemnation,'as in 2 Corinthians 3:9, 'the ministration of death,' verse 7. For though men mayhave a notion of the blessed Word of God, as the children had, yet before they beconverted it may truly be said of them, Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor thepower of God (Mark 12:24).
Second USE. You say you do believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God. I say again,Examine, wast thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit ofChrist, through the other part of the Scripture; that is to say, by the power ofGod in his Son Jesus Christ, through the covenant of promise? I tell thee from theLord, if thou hast, thou hast felt such a quickening power in the words of Christ(John 6) that thou hast been lifted out of that dead condition that thou before wastin. And that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and thepower of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been enabled, bythe power of God in Christ, revealed to thee by the Spirit through and by the Scripture,to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the law, and all things that are at enmitywith thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the blood, death, righteousness,resurrection, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the Scriptures. And,
Third USE. On this account, O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O howmuch virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation! They are so largeas to say, Christ will in no wise cast me out! My crimson sins shall be white assnow! I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me tolay hold of Jesus Christ through and by, that I would not have out of the Bible foras much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars;because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul.I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience,my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetlyto my poor soul through the promises that all is forced to fly and leave off to accusemy soul. So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to killme, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh downall, and comfort the soul against all. This is the effect of believing the Scripturessavingly; for they that do so have by and through the Scriptures good comfort, andalso ground of hope, believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures holdforth (Rom 15:4).
Fourth USE. Examine, Dost thou stand in awe of sinning against God, because he hathin the Scriptures commanded thee to abstain from it? Dost thou give diligence tomake thy calling and election sure, because God commanded it in Scripture? Dost thouexamine thyself whether thou be in the faith or no, having a command in Scriptureso to do? Or dost thou, notwithstanding what thou readest in the Scripture, followthe world, delight in sin, neglect coming to Jesus Christ, speak evil of the saints,slight and make a mock at the ordinance of God, delight in wicked company, and thelike? Then know that it is because thou dost not in deed and in truth believe theScriptures effectually. For, as I said before, if a man do believe them, and thatsavingly, then he stands in awe, he looks to his steps, he turns his feet from evil,and endeavours to follow that which is good, which God hath commanded in the Scripturesof truth; yet not from a legal or natural principle; that is, to seek for life bydoing that good thing, but knowing that salvation is already obtained for him bythe blood of that man Christ Jesus on the cross because he believes the Scriptures,therefore, mark I pray, therefore, I say, he labours to walk with his God in allwell-pleasing and godliness, because the sweet power of the loves of Christ, whichhe feels in his soul by the Spirit, according to the Scriptures, constrain him soto do (2 Cor 5:14).
Fifth USE. Examine again, Dost thou labour after those qualifications that the Scripturesdo describe a child of God by? That is, faith, yea the right faith, the most holyfaith, the faith of the operation of God. And also, dost thou examine whether thereis a real growth of grace in thy soul, as love, zeal, self-denial, and a seekingby all means to attain, if possible, to the resurrection of the dead? That is, notto satisfy thyself until thou be dissolved and rid of this body of death, and betransformed into that glory that the saints shall be in after the resurrection-day.And in the meantime dost labour and take all opportunities to walk as near as maybe to the pitch, though thou know thou canst not attain it perfectly. Yet, I say,thou dost aim at it, seek after it, press towards it, and to hold on in thy race;thou shunnest that which may any way hinder thee, and also closest in with what mayany way further the same; knowing that that must be, or desiring that it should be,thine eternal frame, and therefore out of love and liking to it thou dost desireand long after it, as being the thing that doth most please thy soul.
Or how is it with thy soul? Art thou such an one as regards not these things, butrather busy thy thoughts about the things here below, following those things thathave no scent of divine glory upon them? If so, look to thyself, thou art an unbeliever,and so under the wrath of God, and wilt for certain fall into the same place of tormentthat thy fellows have fallen into before thee, to the grief of thy own soul, andthy everlasting destruction.
Consider and regard these things, and lay them to thy heart before it be too lateto recover thyself, by repenting of the one, and desiring to close in with the other.O! I say, regard, regard, for hell is hot. God's hand is up, the law is resolvedto discharge against thy soul! The judgment-day is at hand, the graves are readyto fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding, the sentence will ere long be passed,and then you and I cannot call time again.
[USE AND APPLICATION.]
But again, seeing they are so certain, so sure, so irrevocable and firm, andseeing the saving faith of the things contained therein, is to reform the soul, andbring it over into the things of God, really conforming to the things contained therein,both to the point of justification, and also an impartial walking, and giving upthy soul and body to a conformity to all the commands, counsels, instructions, andexhortations contained therein; this then will learn us how to judge of those whogive up themselves to walk in the imaginations of their own hearts, who slight andlay aside the Scriptures, counting them but empty and uncertain things, and willlive every day in open contradiction to what is contained, commanded, and forbiddentherein. As
FIRST. This will show us that all your drunkards, whoremasters, liars, thieves, swearers,backbiters, slanderers, scoffers at goodness, &c. I say, we may see by this thatthey that live in such things, have not the faith of these things contained in theirhearts, seeing they delight to practise those things that are forbidden by and inthem. And so, they continuing living and dying in this state, we may conclude withoutfear that these portions of holy Scripture belong unto them, and shall for certainbe fulfilled upon them: 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16). 'Theunrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor 6:9,10). 'But the abominable,the unbelieving, the whoremongers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lakewhich burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev 21:8). 'Depart, ye cursed, into everlastingfire, prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). Depart, depart from me,for I will not save you. Depart, for my blood shall not at all wash you. Depart,for you shall not set one foot into the kingdom of heaven.
'Depart, ye cursed,' ye are cursed of God, cursed of his law, cursed of me, cursedby the saints, and cursed by the angels; cursed all over, nothing but cursed, andtherefore depart from me; and whither? into everlasting fire–fire that will scald,scorch, burn, and flame to purpose. 'Fire that shall never be quenched' (Mark 9).Fire that will last to all eternity. And must we be all alone? No, you shall havecompany, store of company with you. Namely, all the raging, roaring devils, togetherwith an innumerable company of fellow-damned sinners, men, women, and children. Andif the Scriptures be true, as they will one day wonderfully appear to be, then thismust and shall be thy portion, if thou live and die in this state; and of all themwho continue in sinning against the truth contained in the Scriptures. As,
First. Dost thou delight to sin against plain commands? THOU ART GONE.
Second. Dost thou slight and scorn the counsels contained in the Scriptures, andcontinue in so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE.
Third. Dost thou continually neglect to come to Christ, and usest arguments in thineown heart to satisfy thy soul with so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE. (Luke 14:17,18,compared with v 24, and Heb 2:3). 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?'How shall we escape, that is, there is no way to escape.
(1.) Because God hath said we shall not (Heb 12:25). 'See that ye refuse not himthat speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,' thatwas Moses, 'much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speakethfrom heaven.'
(2.) Because he hath not only said they shall not, but also hath bound it with anoath, saying, 'So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest' (Heb 3:11).To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest? Answer, 'to them thatbelieved not.' So we see, that they could not enter in because of unbelief (vv 18,19).
SECOND. This will teach us what to think and conclude of such, who, though they donot so openly discover their folly by open and gross sins against the law, yet willgive more heed to their own spirits, and the movings thereof, though they be neithercommanded nor commended for the same in Scripture; nay, though the Scripture commandand commend the contrary, than they will to the holy and revealed will of God (Isa8:20). I say, such men are in as bad a state as the other to the full, being disobedientto God's will revealed in his Word, as well as they, though in a different manner;the one openly transgressing against the plain and well-known truths revealed init; the other, though more close and hidden, yet secretly rejecting and slightingthem, giving more heed to their own spirits, and the motions thereof, although notwarranted by the Scriptures.
A few words more, and so I shall conclude. And,
First. Take heed that you content not yourself with a bare notion of the Scripturesin your heads, by which you may go far, even so far as to be able to dispute forthe truth, to preach the gospel, and labour to vindicate it in opposition to gainsayers,and yet be found at the left hand of Christ at the judgment-day, forasmuch as thoudidst content thyself with a notion or traditional knowledge of them.
Second. Have a care that thou own the whole Scripture, and not own one part and neglectanother, or slight it; as thus: To own the law, and slight the gospel; or to thinkthat thou must be saved by thy good doings and works; for that is all one, as ifthou didst thrust Christ away from thee; or else so to own the gospel, as if by itthou wert exempted from all obedience to the ten commandments, and conformity tothe law in life and conversation; for in so doing thou wilt for certain make sureof eternal vengeance.
Third. Have a care that thou put not wrong names on the things contained in the Scriptures,as to call the law, Christ, and Christ, the law, for some having done so, in my knowledge,have so darkened to themselves the glorious truths of the gospel, that in a verylittle time they have been resolved to thwart and oppose them, and so have made roomin their own souls for the devil to inhabit, and obtained a place in hell for theirown souls to be tormented for ever and ever.
Against this danger therefore in reading and receiving the testimony of Scripture,learn to distinguish between the law and the gospel, and to keep them clear asunder,as to the salvation of thy soul.
1. And that thou mayest so do, in the first place beg of God that he would show theethe nature of the gospel, and set it home effectually with life and power upon thysoul by faith. Which is this, that God would show thee, that as thou being man hastsinned against God, so Christ, being God- man, hath bought thee again, and with hismost precious blood set thee free from the bondage thou hast fallen into by thy sins.And that not upon condition that thou wilt do thus and thus, this and the other goodwork; but rather, that thou, being first justified freely by mere grace through theblood of Jesus, shouldst also receive thy strength from him who hath bought thee,to walk before him in all well- pleasing. Being enabled thereto by virtue of hisSpirit, which hath revealed to thy soul that thou art delivered already from wrathto come, by the obedience, not of thee, but of another man, viz., Jesus Christ.
2. Then if the law thou readest of, tell thee in thy conscience thou must do thisand the other good work of the law, if ever thou wilt be saved; answer plainly, thatfor thy part thou art resolved now not to work for life, but to believe in the virtueof that blood shed upon the cross, upon Mount Calvary, for the remission of sins.And yet because Christ hath justified thee freely by his grace, thou wilt serve himin holiness and righteousness all the days of thy life, yet not in a legal spirit,or in a covenant of works; but mine obedience, say thou, I will endeavour to haveit free, and cheerful, out of love to my Lord Jesus.
3. Have a care thou receive not this doctrine in the notion only, lest thou bringa just damnation upon thy soul, by professing thyself to be freed by Christ's bloodfrom the guilt of sin, while thou remainest still a servant to the filth of sin.For I must tell you, that unless you have the true and saving work of the faith andgrace of the gospel in your hearts, you will either go on in a legal holiness, accordingto the tenor of the law; or else through a notion of the gospel, the devil bewitchingand beguiling thy understanding, will, and affections, thou wilt, Ranter-like, turnthe grace of God into wantonness, and bring upon thy soul double, if not treble damnation,in that thou couldest not be contented to be damned for thy sins against the law,but also to make ruin sure to thy soul, thou wouldst dishonour the gospel, and turnthe grace of God, held forth and discovered to men by that, into licentiousness.
But that thou mightest be sure to escape these dangerous rocks on the right handand on the left, see that thy faith be such as is spoken of in Scripture. And thatthou be not satisfied without that, which is a faith wrought by the mighty operationof God, revealing Christ to and in thee, as having wholly freed thee from thy sinsby his most precious blood. Which faith, if thou attain unto, will so work in thyheart, that first thou wilt see the nature of the law, and [secondly] also the natureof the gospel, and delight in the glory of it; and also thou wilt find an engagingof thy heart and soul to Jesus Christ, even to the giving up of thy whole man untohim, to be ruled and governed by him to his glory, and thy comfort, by the faithof the same Lord Jesus.
 There were nine editions of this book published during the Author's life; allthose subsequent to the first have the following title:– 'Sighs from Hell, or theGroans of a Damned Soul; discovering from the 16th of Luke the lamentable state ofthe damned: and may fitly serve as a warning word to sinners, both old and young,by faith in Jesus Christ, to avoid the same place of torment. With a discovery ofthe usefulness of the Scriptures as our safe- conduct for avoiding the torments ofhell. By John Bunyan. London: Printed for F. Smith, at the Elephant and Castle, withoutTemple-bar. At 1s bound.'
 In the 'errata' to the first edition, Bunyan says– 'At the first I thought toput out with this a discourage of the two covenants, which since I thought to putforth in a piece by itself.' This shows that his great work on the covenants wasthe fourth volume which he wrote. In the second edition, the author altered the arrangementof the text, by placing in his comment on verse 28 a considerable part of what inthe first edition formed the 'use and application.'
 In the second and subsequent editions, this was altered to 'I am thine to servein the Lord Jesus.'–Ed.
 'Sad' frequently occurs in this treatise; it is from the Saxon, saetan–set, fixed,gloomy, grievous, mournful.– Ed.
 The first and second editions have 'the saints,' instead of 'such are saints.'–Ed.
 In quoting these passages, Mr. Bunyan has mixed the Puritan version with thatnow authorized; very probably, quoting from memory. His text is from the presentversion; the reader will see, by comparison, the different words employed in thetwo translations.–Ed.
 Solemn truth! The heir of heaven and immortality has to trudge the street inthe foulest weather, while the sinner's lap-dog is held up to the carriage window,taken out for an airing.–Ed.
 Reader, this feeling yet remains. Christians have recently, even in Scotland,had to meet in barns, or in the open air, for worship, because no landowner wouldsell or let a piece of ground on which to build a place of worship.–Ed.
 Cannot down; will not receive, submit to, or feel pleasure in. 'If a boy is hungry,bread by itself will down.'–Locke on Education. 'Down and beg mercy of the Duke.'–Shakespeare.–Ed.
 Alluding to the awful sufferings of Leighton, and all Christians of his time,under that bigoted demon in human shape, Laud.–Ed.
 It is a very ancient and prevailing opinion, that man is always attended byinvisible spirits, whose powers or mode of intercourse with our spirits is unknown.These attendants are most active at the hour of death. They cannot be seen unlessthe eyes are made to possess new or miraculous powers. It may be that, when dying,the spirit, before it entirely quits its mortal habitation, has a glimpse of spiritualexistences. If so, how awful for the sinner to see the infernal demons ready to dragaway his soul; but most joyful for the Christian to embrace his celestial guides.This is illustrated in the Pilgrim's Progress, during Christian's conflict at thehour of death.–Vol. 3, p. 163.–Ed.
 Guard, convoy, or escort. See Pilgrim's Progress, the entrance into the celestialcity.–Ed.
 This proverb was very probably founded upon Jeremiah 50:11: 'Ye are grown fatas the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls.'–Ed.
 Bunyan is here expressing what he had most acutely felt. 'I blessed the conditionof the dog and toad, because they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weightof hell. I was broken to pieces,' until he found refuge in Jesus. See Grace Abounding,No. 104.–Ed.
 The first edition has, 'and the practice of the saints.' This was left out inall the subsequent editions.–Ed.
 Ale bench, in Bunyan's time, was very similar to a taproom; more generally theplace of resort for the idle tipplers, but sometimes of refreshment to the wearytraveller.–Ed.
 Formerly designated not only a courageous man, but his counterpart, a braggart,a bully, or a dandy. In these latter senses it is obsolete.–Ed.
 These feelings appear in awful reality in Grace Abounding, Nos. 87 and 104.–Ed.
 How awfully general is this wretched delusion. The chattering of monkeys orparrots is more acceptable than to mock God with a solemn sound upon a thoughtlesstongue. Jews gabble Hebrew, and Papists Latin, and, alas! others who NEVER prayed,have been from childhood in the habit of repeating or reading a form of words, called,with devilish subtlety, 'saying prayers.'–Ed.
 The intelligent reader should notice that these terms are not jumbled together.Their selection and arrangement would confer honour upon the most profound doctorof philology; while from Bunyan they flowed from native genius, little inferior toinspiration. To show the enmity of the unconverted to those who bear the image ofChrist, he descends step by step. They first mock, or deride them by mimicry; second,flout, or treat them with contemptuous sneers, both by words and actions; third,scoff at them with insolent ridicule, sometimes accompanied by a push or blow; fourth,taunt, revile, upbraid, bully, and challenge them: all these produce, fifth, hate,abhorrence, and detestation, leading inevitably to, sixth, persecution–to pursuewith malignity–to afflict, harass, and destroy. Such are the gradations in the oppositionof the carnal mind to the most excellent of the earth; and such the worldly inheritanceof the followers of our once lowly, but now exalted Saviour.–Ed.
 'Troubles,' see Puritan translation.–Ed.
 With what searching truthfulness is the character of Bye-ends drawn in the Pilgrim'sProgress, p. 132: 'looking one way and rowing another.'–Ed.
 This is not intended to convey any reflection upon human learning, but to exhibitthe contemptuous spirit of learned men, so generally manifested to the illiterate,but really learned followers of the Lamb. They sometimes meet their match, even inworldly wit. Thus, when three learned gentlemen from Oxford overtook a pious waggoner,they ironically saluted him as Father Abraham, Father Isaac, and Father Jacob; hereplied, Gentlemen, you are mistaken: I am neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob, butSaul, the son of Kish, who was sent to find his father's asses, and so I have foundthem.–Ed.
 The word 'clergy' is omitted from all the editions published after Bunyan'sdeath. These words are calculated to fix upon the mind the necessity of a visitationfrom heaven, of personal examination of the Scriptures, and of solemn, earnest, perseveringprayer, without which no clergyman can do a sinner good. But how inexpressibly terriblewill be the misery of carnal clergymen, who, by precept or example, have led theirhearers to a false hope of heaven. How will such souls gnash their teeth in bitteranguish, and trample their devoted souls to the hottest hell!–Ed.
 Making an entertainment by stealth, privately indulging in wickedness.–Ed.
 Awful responsibility!! A heavy curse on the souls of those who labour to preventprivate judgment, guided simply by the Bible–who lead poor sinners to rely upon
acts of uniformity, liturgies, articles, or creeds, the groveling inventions of men;instead of relying wholly on the revealed will of God, which alone is able to makeman wise unto salvation.–Ed.
 The word 'not' is omitted from most of the editions published in Bunyan's life.–Ed.
 These times of tyrannizing oppression are fast passing away. It was difficult,a few years ago, to hire a room in some of the villages even round London, for aSunday school and lecture, or to admit a missionary into a workhouse. A poor babyhas been scornfully driven from the font–the dead body of a dissenter has been refusedChristian burial–the cries of poverty and distress have been disregarded–from bittersectarianism. The genial influence of Christianity is fast driving these demoniacfeelings to the owls and bats.–Ed.
 Anguish or embarrassment of mind, derived from the name of a most painful disease.–Ed.
 This is one of Bunyan's proverbs, which, however homely, is sure to make a lastingimpression on the mind. Sin breeds the scorpions which will torment the sinner, unlessthey tormented the Saviour. O for greater hatred of sin!–Ed.
 From this paragraph to the end of the comment on verse 28, was placed by Bunyan,in his first edition, as the first part of the general use and application.–Ed.
 A familiar phrase, expressive of embarrassment. 'There is no comfort in thehouse upon a washing day.' Suds, in this sentence, would puzzle a foreigner. Johnson'sdictionary interprets it, 'A lixivium of soap and water!'– Ed.
 The word 'simple' is here used as it is by Solomon in the Proverbs–silly, unwise.–Ed
 Men armed with halberts or javelins; now only used at assizes in England, orby officers attending meetings of magistrates in Scotland.–Ed.
 Modern editors have altered this to, 'did deal with him.'–Ed.
 Altered in the third edition to 'a great exceeding danger.'–Ed.
 Bunyan published this work before the Quakers were formed into a Society. Manyof the wildest enthusiasts called themselves Quakers. Barclay, in his Apology, veryclearly defines what the Society of Friends mean by, 'Christ within, the hope ofglory.' 'It is a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible principle, in which God, as Father,Son, and Spirit, dwells or reigns.'–Prop. V. and VI.–Ed.
 This quotation, probably made from memory, is from the Genevan or Puritan versionof the Bible.–Ed.
 How favourable an alteration has been produced by permitting the free publicationof the Bible. In Bunyan's time, under the monopoly of church and state, they werefull of typographical errors, and at a high price. When eggs were four-a-penny, onehundred and sixty must have been paid for an ordinary copy; while now a handsomeone, with gilt edges, may be had for eighteen or twenty. Thanks to those good menwho brought about this wondrous change.–Ed.
 The improvement in the whole class of books used by children, since the TractSociety commenced its operations, is almost incredible. None but antiquarians haveseen the books which Bunyan names, but they are as inferior to Who killed Cock Robin,as that is to Dr. Watt's Divine Songs.– Ed.
 Such was the then state of society, fostered by the Book of Sports and Pastimes,authorized by Charles I. to be used on Sunday, and by Rupert and his cavaliers withthe civil war, notwithstanding the restraints of the Commonwealth. They are veryyoung, or dim-sighted, or badly read, who do not now see a wonderful improvementin the state of public morals and religion.–Ed.
 These persecutions are fast disappearing. One of my near relatives was lockedinto a first floor parlour in Whitechapel, without hat or shoes, to prevent his goingto hear Mr. Whitefield; but, at the risk of being turned out of doors by his parents,he escaped out of the window, by clinging to the rain water-pipe, and enjoyed thepublic service at the Tabernacle.–Ed.
 For an admirable and deeply impressive account of these distinct books, seeBunyan on The Resurrection of the Dead.–Ed.
 The idea prevails to a vast extent. The splendour, power, and intolerance ofnational hierarchies is mistaken for the humble benignity of the Bible system ofChristianity or personal religion. Antichrist, tricked out in robes and gewgaws,is, by perverted minds, received as Christ.–Ed.
 This is exemplified in Bunyan's experience, published by him in Grace Abounding.'That scripture also did tear and rend my soul (Isa 57:22).' Sec. 104. 'That scripturedid seize upon my soul (Heb 12:16,17).' Sec. 141.–Ed.
 This word was, by a typographical error, printed 'doctrine,' in an edition of1707; this error has been followed in all the after copies.–Ed.
 A very considerable portion of the use and application as found in the firstedition, was, in the second and subsequent ones, removed to the comment on verse28; from the words, 'Now then, from what hath been said,' to the end of the commenton that verse. I should have preferred Bunyan's first arrangement, but dared notalter what he had considered an improvement.–Ed.
 Of all men most miserable must be those clergymen and religious teachers, who,in the great day, will say, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name,' towhom the Lord will profess, 'I never knew you, depart, ye cursed.'– Matt 7:21-23.–Ed.
 The Ranters were a sect of the wildest enthusiasts. It very soon became extinct.An exaggerated account of their sentiments is to be found in Ross's view of all Religions.–Ed.