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tongues, Luke xvi. 24, 25. "They shall be punished with the punish. ment of sense. They must not only depart from God; but depart into fire, into everlasting fire. There the worm, that shall gnaw them, shall never die ; the fire, that shall scorch them, thall never be quenched. God shall, thro' all eternity, hold them up with the one hand, and pour the full vials of wrath into them with the other.
This is that state of wrath natural men live in; being under much of the wrath of God, and liable to more. But for a further view of it, let us consider the qualities of that wrath (1.) It is irresistible, there is no standing before it. Who may stand in thy sight, when once thou art angry? Pfal. lxxxvi. 7. Can the worm, or the moth, defend itself agåinst him that designs to crush it? As little can worin man stand before an angry God. "Foolish man indeed practically bids a defiance to heaven: but the Lord often, even in this world, opens such sluices of wrath upon them, as all theis might cannot stop; but they are carried away thereby, as with a flood. How much more will it be so in hell? (2.) It is unsupportable. What one cannot relift, he will set himself to bear: but, Who ghait dwell with devouring fire? Who Shall dwell with everlasting burnings? God's wrath is a weight that will sink men into the lowest hell. It is a burden no man is able to stand under. A wunded spirit who can bear it? Prov. xviii. 14. (3.) It is unavoidable to such as will go on impenitently in their finful course. He that being often reproved, hardneth his neck, shall sud. denly be destroyed, and that without remedy, Prov. xxix 1. We may now fly from it indeed, by flying to Jesus Christ: but such as fly from Christ, shall never be able to avoid it. Whither can men fly from an avenging God? Where will they find a Thelter? The hills will not hear them; the mountains will be deaf to their loudest cries; when they cry to them, to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. (4.) It is powerful and fierce wrath, Pfal. xc. II. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. We are apt to. fear the wrath of man more than we ought: but no man can appréhend the wrath of God to be more dreadful than it really is: the power of it can never be known to the utmost; seeing it is infinite,
and (properly speaking) has no utmost: how fierce foever it be, either 1 on earth, or in hell,. God can still carry it further. Every thing in God is moit perfect in its kind; and therefore no wrath is so fierce as his. O finner, how wilt thou be able to endure that wrath, which will tear thee in pieces, Pfal. I. 22. and grind thee to powder, Luke XX 18. The history of the two the-bears, that tare the children of Bethel, is an awful one, 2 Kings ii. 23, 24. But the united force of the rage of lions, leopards, and the-bears bereaved of their whelps, is not fufficient to give us even a scanty view of the power of the wrath of God, Hof. xiii. 7, 8. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion; es a leopard hy the way will I observe them. I will meet them as a bear ikat is bereaved of her whelps, and will rent the carl of their heart, &c. (5.) It is penetraling and piercing wrath. •It is burning wrath, and
powerful anthem, to hide thewild be deaf to their
firey indignation. There is no pain more exquisite, than that which is caused by fire; and no fire fo piercing as the fire of God's indignation, that burns into the lowest hill, Deut. xxxii. 22.' The arrows of men's wrath can pierce fielh, blood and bones: but cannot reach the foul: but the wrath of God will sink into the soul, and so pierce a man in thé moft tender part. Like as, when a person is thunderftruck, oft-times there is not a wound to be seen in the skin; yet life is gone, and the bones are, as it were, melted: fo God's wrath can penetrate into, and melt one's soul within him, when his earthly comforts stand about him entire, and untouched as in Belshuzzar's case, Dan. v.6. (6.) It is constant wrath, running parallel with the man's continuance in an unregenerate state; constantly attending him, from the womb to the grave. There are few fo dark days, but the fun sometimes looketh out from under the clouds: but the wrath of God, is an abiding cloud on the subjects of it, John iii 36. The wrath, of God abideth on hiin that believes not. (7.) It is eternal. O miserable soul! If thou fly not from this wrath unto Jesus Christ, thy misery had a beginning, but it shall never have an end. Should devouring death wholly swallow thee up, and for ever hold thee fast in a grave; it would be kind, but thou must live again, and never die; that thoiz mayst be ever dying, in the hands of the living God. Cold death will quench the flame of man's wrath against us, if nothing else do it; but God's wrath, when it has come on the sinner, millions of ages will still be the wrath to come, Matth. iii, 7. i Thess. i. 10. As the water of a river is still coming, how much soever of it has passed. While God is, he will pursue the quarrel. Lastly, Howsoever dreadful it is, and tho' it be eternal, yet it is most just wrath : it is a clear fire, without the least smoak of unjustice. The sea of wrath raging with greatest fury against the finner, is clear as chryftal. The Judge of all the earth can do no wrong. He knows no transports of paffion, for they are inconfiftent with the perfection of his nature. Is God un.. righteous, who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then, how shall God judge the world? Rom. iii. 5, 6.
The Doctrine of the State of Wrath confirmed and vindicated.
II. I shall confirm the doctrine, Consider, (1.) How peremptory 1 the threatning of the first covenant is; In the day thou eatest thereof, 'thou shalt surely die, Gen. ii. 17. Hereby sin and punishment being
connected, the veracity of God ascertains the execution of the threat. ning. Now all men being by nature under this covenant, the breach I of it lays thein under the curse. (2.) The justice of God requires
that a child of sin be a child of wrath; that the law being broken, the | fanétion thereof should take place. God, as man's ruler and Judge,
cannot but do right, Gen. xvii. 25 Now it is a righteous thing with God to recompence sin with wrath, 2 Theff. i. 6. He is of purer Eyes, than-to behold evil, Hab, i, 13. And he hates all the workers of
iniquity, Pfal. v. 6. (3.) The horrors of a natural conscience prove this. There is a conscience in the breasts of men, which can tell them, they are finners; and therefore liable to the wrath of God. Let men, at any time, soberly commune with themselves, and they will find they have the witness in themselves, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things, are worthy of death, Rom. i. 32. (4.) The pangs of the new birth, the work of the spirit of bondage on elect souls, in order to their conversion, demonstrate this. Hereby their natural sinfulness and misery, as liable to the wrath of God, are plainly taught themn, filling their hearts with fear of that wrath. Now that this spirit of bondage is no other than the Spirit of God, whose work is to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgmnent, (John xvi. 8.) this testimony must needs be true; for the Spirit of truth cannot witness an untruth. Mean while, true be. lievers being freed froin the state of wrath, receive not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but receive the Spirit of adoption, Rom. iii, 15. - And therefore, if fears of that nature do arise, after the soul's union with Christ : they come from the saint's own spirit, or from a worse, Lastly, The sufferings of Christ plainly prove this doctrine. Where. fore was the Son of God, a Son under wrath, but because the child. ren of men iwere children of wrath? He suffered the wrath of God, not for himself, but for those that were liable to it in their own persons. Nay, this not only speaks us to have been liable to wrath ; but also that wrath must have a vent, in the punishing of sin. If this was done in the green tree, what will become of the dry? What a miserable case must a sinner be in that is out of Christ; that is not vitally united to Christ, and partakes not of his Spirit? God, who spared not his own Son, surely will not spare such an one.
But the unregenerate man, who has no great value for the honour of God, will be apt to rise up against his Judge, and in his own heart condemn his procedure. Nevertheless the Judge being infinitely just, the sentence must be righteous. And'therefore, to stop thy mouth, O proud finner, and to still thy clamour against the righteous Judge, consider, First, Thou art a sinner by nature, and it is highly reasonable that guilt and wrath be as old as sin. Why should not God begin to vindicate his honour, as soon as vile worms begin to impare it? Why shall not a serpent bite the thief, as soon as he leaps over the hedge? Why should not the threatning take hold of the finner, 'as foon as he casts away the command? The poisonous nature of the serpent affords a mar fufficient ground to kill it, as soon as ever he can reach it; and, by this time thou mayst be convinced, that thy nature is a very compound of enmity against God. Secondly, Thou hast not only an enmity against God, in thy nature; but halt discovered it, by actual sins, which are in his eye acts of hoftility. Thou has brought forth thy lust into the field of battle against thy Sovereign Lord. And now, that thou art such a criminal, thy condemnation is juft: for, besides the fun of thy nature, thou hast done that against heaven, which
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if thou had done against men, thy life behoved to have gone for it; and shall not wrath from heaven overtake thee? (1.) Thou art guilty of high treason, and rebellion against the King of heaven. The thought and with of thy heart, which he knows as well as the language of thy mouth, has been, no God, Plal. xiv. 1. Thou hast rejected his government, blown the trumper, and set up the standard of rebellion against him: being one of these that say, We will not have this man to reign over us, Lake xix. 14 Thou host ftrisen against, and quenched his Spirit; practically disowned his laws proclaimed by his messengers; . stopped thinë ears at their voice, and sent them away mourning for thy pride. Thou hast conspired with his grand enemy the devil Although thou art a sworn servant of the King of glory, daily receiving of his favours, and living on his bounty: thou art holding a correfpondence, and hast contracted a friendihip with his greatest enemy, and art acting for him against thy Lord; for the lufts of the devil ye will do, John viii. 44 (2) Thou art a murderer before the Lord.. Thou hast laid the stumbling block of thine iniquity before the blind world; and halt ruined the souls of others by thy sinful course. And tho' thou dost not see now; the time may come, when thou shalt see the blood of thy relations, neighbours, acquaintances and others, upon thy head, Matth. xviij. 7. Wo unto the world because of offences-Wo to that man by whom the offence comuth. Yea, thou art a self-murderer before God, Prov. viii. 36. He that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own foul: all they that hate me, love death. Ezek. xviii. 31. Why will ye die? The laws of main go as far as they can against the self-murderer, denying his body a burial-place amongst others, and confiscating his goods : what wonder is it the law of God is so severe against roulmurderers? Is it strange, that they who will needs depart from God now, coft what it will, be forced to depart from him at laft, into everlasting fire? But what is yet more criminal, thou art guilty of the murder of the Son of God, for the Lord will reckon thee ainong those that pierced him, Rev. i. 7. Thou hast rejected Shin as well as tha Jews did ; and by thy rejecting him, thou hast justified their deed. They indeed did not acknowledge him to be the Soa of God, but thou dost. What they did against him, was in a state of humiliation ; but thou hast acted against him, in his state of exaltation. These things wilt aggravate thy condemnation. What wonder then, if the voice of the Lumb, change to the roaring of the lion, against the traitor and murderer.
Object. But fome will say, Is there not a vast disproportion betwixt our (in and that wrath you talk of? I answer, No; God punishes no more than the finner deserves. To rectify your mistake, in this matter, consider, (1) The valt rewards God has annexed to obedience. His . word is no more full of fiery wrath against fin, that it is of gracious rewards to the obedience it requires. If heaven be in the promises, it is altogether equal that hell be in the threatnings. If deach were not in the balance with life, eternal misery with eternal happiness,
where were the proportion? Moreover, sin deserves the misery, but our best works do not deserve the happiness : yet both are set before us ; sin and misery, holiness and happiness. What reason is there then to complain? (2.) How severe foever the threatnings be, yet all has enough ado to reach the end of the law: Fear him, says our LORD, which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell ; yea, I Fay unto you, fear him, Luke xii. 5. This bespeaks our dread of divine power and majesty; but yet how few fear him indeed! The LORD knows the finner's heart to be exceedingly intent upon fulfilling their lufts: they cleave so fondly to those fulsomne breasts, that a small force does not suffice to draw them from them. They that travel through desarts, where they are in hazard from wild beasts, have need to carry fire along with them: and they have need of a hard wedge that have knotty timber to cleave; fo a holy law must be fenced with a dreadful wrath, in a world lying in wickedness. But who are they that complain of that wrath as too great, but those to whom it is too little to draw them off from their sinful courses? It was the man who pretended to fear his Lord, because he was an austere man, that kept his pound laid up in a napkin: and so he was condemned out of his own mouth, Luke xix. 20,21. 22. Thou art that man, even thou whose objection I am answering. How can the wrath thou art under, and liable to, be too great, while yet it is not sufficient to awaken thee to fly from it? Is it time to relax the penalties of the law, when men are tramp. Jing the commands of it under foot? (3.) Consider how God dealt with his own Son, whom he spared not, Rom. viii. 32. The wrath of God seized on his soul and body both, and brought him into the dust of death. That his sufferings were not eternal, flowed from the quality of the sufferer, who was infinite; and therefore able to bear at once, the whole load of wrath: and upon that account, his sufferings were infinite in value. But in value, they must be protracted to an eternity. And what confidencé can a rebel subject have to quarrel (for his part) a punilhment execute on the King's Son? (4.) The finner doth against God what he can. Behold thou hast done evil things as thou couldst, Jer. iii. 5. That thou hast not done more, and worse; thanks to him who restrained thee; to the chain which the wolf was kept in by, not to thyself. No wonder God fhew his power on the sinner, who puts forth his power against God, as far as it will reach. The unregenerate man puts no period to his sinful course; and would put no bounds to it neither, if he were not restrained by divine power for wise ends: and therefore it is just he be for ever under wrath. (5.) It is infinite majesty sin ftrikes against; and so it is, in some sort, an infinite evil. Sin riseth in its demerit, according to the quality of the party offended. If a man wound his neighbour, his goods must go for it, but if he wound his prince, his life must go to make amends for that. The infinity of God makes infinite wrath the just demerit of lin. God is infinitely difpleased with sin: and when he acts, he must act like himself, and thew his displeasure by proportionable means.