'The tongue,' saith James, 'is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison'; 'it setteth on 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 wounds doth it cause! How many times doth it, as James saith, curse man! How oft is the tongue made the conveyer of that hellish poison that is in the heart, both to the dishonour 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 as it lists, and yet never bring you to an account for the same? No, stay. The Lord will not always keep silence, but will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine 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 this be made light of now, yet the time is coming when many poor souls will rue the day that ever they did speak with a tongue. O, will one say, that I should so disregard my tongue! O that I, when I said so and so, had before bitten off my tongue! That I had been born without a tongue! my tongue, my tongue, a little water to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame; even in that flame that my tongue, together with the rest of my members, by sinning, have brought me to. Poor souls now will let their tongues say anything for a little profit, for two-pence or three-pence gain. But, O what a grief will this be at that day when they, together with their tongue, must smart for that which they by their tongues have done while they were in this world. Then, you that love your souls, look to your tongues, lest you bind yourselves down so fast to hell with the sins of your tongues, that you will never be 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 word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt 12:36).
Verse 25.—'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.'
These words are the answer to the request of the damned. The verse before, as I told you, is a discovery of the desires they have after they depart this world. Here is the answer, 'Son, remember,' &c.
The answer signifies this much, that, instead of having any relief or ease they are hereby the more tormented, and that by fresh recollections, or by bringing afresh their former ill-spent life, while in the world, into their remembrance. Son, remember thou hadst good things in thy lifetime; as much as if he had said, Thou art now sensible what 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 that time in seeking after outward, momentary, earthly things, which thou shouldest have spent in seeking to make Jesus Christ sure to thy soul; and now, through thy anguish of spirit, in the pains of hell thou wouldst enjoy that which in former time thou didst 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 (2 Cor 6:2). This is not a time to answer the desires of damned reprobates; if thou hadst cried out in good earnest whilst grace was offered, much might have been; but then thou wast careless, and didst turn the forbearance and goodness of God into wantonness. Wast thou not told, that those who would not hear the Lord when he did call, should not be heard, if they turned away from him, when they did call. But contrariwise 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 into thy 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 the Lord, in that thou wert careless of his word and ordinances, yea, and of the welfare of thine own soul also. Therefore, now I say, instead of expecting or hoping for any relief, thou must be forced to call to remembrance thy filthy ways, and feed upon them, to thine everlasting astonishment and confusion.
From these words, therefore, which say, 'Remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst THY GOOD THINGS,' there are these things to be taken notice of,
First. They that, by putting off repentance and living in their sins, lose their souls, shall, instead of having the least measure of comfort when they come into hell, have their ill-spent life always very fresh in their remembrance. While they live here they can sin and forget it, but when they depart they shall have it before them; 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 while they 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 hadst many a time the gospel preached to thee for taking away of the same, by him whom the gospel doth hold forth. 3. Remember that out of love to thy sins and lusts, thou didst 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 didst not close in with free grace, and the tenders of a loving and free-hearted Jesus Christ. 5. Remember how near thou wast to turning at such and such a time, only thou wast 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 the world, which, like so many thorns, did choke that or those convictions that were set on thy heart. 6. Remember how willing thou wast to satisfy thyself with a hypocrite's hope, and with a notion of the things of God, without the real power and life of the same. 7. Remember how thou, when thou wast admonished to turn, didst put off turning and repenting till another time. 8. Remember how thou didst dissemble at such 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 of the Lord to seek him, thou wast met with a company of vain companions to sin against him; whilst the saints were a praying, thou wert a cursing; while they were speaking good of the name of God, thou wast speaking evil of the saints of God. O then thou shalt 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 there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see' (Deut 28:65-67). Nay, thou wilt find worse things to thy woe than this scripture doth manifest. For, indeed, there is no tongue able to express the horror, terror, torment, and eternal misery that those poor souls shall undergo, without the 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 receivedst thy 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 lifetime thou receivedst thy good things.' You may take these words, good things, either simply for the things of this world, which in themselves are called, and may be called good things; 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 count their 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 creatures have 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 thus with thee, and in thy lifetime thy carriage was so and so.
If sinners might have their choice, they would not have their sins and transgressions so 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 to put the thoughts of it out of their mind; but there they shall be made to remember to purpose, and to think continually of their ungodly deeds. And therefore it is said, that when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to judgment, it will be to convince the ungodly 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, in spite of their teeth. And also, between this and then, these that die out of Christ shall be made to see, acknowledge, and confess, do what they can, when they lift up their eyes in hell, and remember their transgressions. God will be a swift witness against them (Mal 3:5), and will say, Remember that thou didst in thy lifetime, how thou 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 thy own 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 their torments; first, by slighting their perplexities, and by telling of them what they must be thinking of. Remember, saith he, O ye lost souls, that you had your joy in your 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 see that thou hast had thy good things, thy best things, thy pleasant things; for that is clearly signified by these words, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy 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, which is this; there are many poor creatures, who have all their good, sweet, and comfortable things 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 with them than this life, or their lifetime. That scripture was not written in vain; it is like the crackling of thorns under a pot, make a little blaze for a sudden, a little heat for a while; but come and consider them by and by, and instead of a comfortable heat, 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, when they shall see the vanity of this, that is, when they shall see what a poor thing it is for a man to have his portion in this world. It is true, while they are here on 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 than ten 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 and profit 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 believe this! that you did but consider this, and say within yourselves, What! shall I be contented 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 God doth hold out terms of reconciliation to you, lest you be made to hear such a voice as 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 to have. O poor heaven! O short pleasures! What a pitiful thing it is to be left in such a case? Soul, consider, is it not miserable to lose heaven for twenty, thirty, or forty years' sinning against God? When thy life is done, thy heaven is also done? when death comes to separate thy soul and body, 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 in thy lifetime. 'For if in this life only we have hope,' our portion, 'we are of all men 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 enter into joy, then thou art to leave and depart from thy joy. When others are to go to God, thou must go to the devil. O miserable! Thou hadst better thou hadst never been born, than to be an heir of such a portion; therefore, I say, have a care it be not thy 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 also great consolation to the saints; where he saith, 'And Lazarus evil things'; that is, Lazarus had his evil things in his lifetime, or when he was in the world. From whence observe,
1. That the life of the saints, so long as they are in this world, is attended with many evils or afflictions; which may be discovered to be of divers natures; as saith the Scripture, 'Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all' (Psa 34:19).
2. Take notice, that the afflictions or evils that accompany the saints, may continue with them their lifetime, so long as they live in this vale of tears; yea, and they may be divers, that is, of several sorts; some outward, some inward, and that as long as they shall continue here below, as hath been the experience of all saints in 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 than their lifetime; and here indeed lies the comfort of believers, the Lazaruses, the saints, 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 your joy no man, let him be what he will, no man shall take away from you. Now if you think, when I say the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, that I mean, 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, while they 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 consideration of 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 this life 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 trouble is, I am perplexed with a heart full of corruption and sin, so that I am much hindered in walking with God. Answ. It is like so, but thou shalt have these troubles no longer than 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 be not dismayed, be not discomforted, thou shalt have no trouble longer than this lifetime. Art thou troubled with cross children, cross relations, cross neighbours? They shall trouble 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 lifetime is ended. O! excellent! 'Then God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes; and there shall be no more death nor sorrow, neither crying, nor any more pain; for the former things are passed away' (Rev 21:4). But now on the contrary, if thou be not a right and 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 so great and grievous, they are nothing to that torment that will come upon thee, both in 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 the thing to be lamented is, for all this is so sad a condition to be fallen into, yet poor 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 immediately strike with his sword, but doth bear long with his creature, waiting that he might be gracious. Therefore, I say, the hearts of some of the sons of men are wholly set upon it to do mischief (Eccl 8:11). And that forbearance and goodness of God, that one would think should lead them to repentance; the devil hardening of them, by their continuing in sin, and by blinding their eyes, as to the end of God's forbearance towards then, they are led away with a very hardened and senseless heart, even until they drop into eternal destruction.
But poor hearts, they must have a time in which they must be made sensible of their former 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 'tormented in this flame.'
'But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.' As if he should say, Now hath God recompensed both Lazarus and you, according to what you sought after while you were in this world. As for your part, you did neglect the precious mercy and goodness of God, you did turn your back on the Son of God, that came into the world to save sinners; 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 Lord let you live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years; all which time you, instead of spending it 'to make your calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10), did spend it 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 in the 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 (Eccl 9:4-6). While thou wert swearing, he was praying; in a word, while thou wert making sure of eternal ruin, he, by faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, was making sure 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 comfort and 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). Your portion 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 which you shall know, that your sweet morsels of sin, that you do so easily take down (Job 20:12-14), and it scarce troubles you, will have a time so to work within you to your eternal ruin, that you will be in a worse condition than if you had ten thousand devils tormenting of you. Nay, you had better have been plucked limb from limb a thousand times, if it could be, than to be partakers of this torment that will, assuredly without 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 to us, that would come from thence.'
These words are still part of that answer, that the souls in hell shall have for all 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 to make any hard-hearted sinner in the world to fall down dead. The verse I last spake to 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, and Lazarus evil things,' &c. I say, these words are very terrible to those poor souls that die out of Christ. But these latter words do much more hold out their sorrow. They were spoken as to the present condition then upon the sinner. These do not only back the former, but do yet further aggravate their misery, holding forth that which will be more intolerable. The former verse is enough to smite any sinner into a swoon, but this is to make him fall down dead. Where he saith, 'And beside all 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 of in 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 makes thee to sob, sigh, and roar exceedingly for the anguish that thou art in. 'But beside all 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 art now 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 give thee any ease; thou criest in vain, for nothing will be granted. Thou seest the saints in heaven, which is no small trouble to thy damned soul; thou seest that neither God nor Christ takes any care to ease thee, or speak any comfort unto thee. 'But beside all this,' there thou art, and there thou art like to lie, never think of any ease, never look for any comfort; repentance now will do thee no good, the time is past, and can never be called again, look what thou hast now, thou must have for ever.
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 terrible words indeed. I will give you the scope of them in a similitude. Set the case you should take a man, and tie him to a stake, and with red-hot pinchers, pinch off his flesh by little pieces for two or three years together, and at last, when the poor man 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, and after that we will fill your mangled body full of scalding lead, or run you through with a red-hot spit; would not this be lamentable? Yet this is but a flea-biting to 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 thousand times worse torments than these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them. There they 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 thee all to pieces, and rend thee small as dust, and dissolve thee into nothing, thou wouldst count this a mercy. But here thou mayst lie and fry, scorch, and broil, and burn for ever. For ever, that is a long while, and yet it must be so long. 'Depart from me, ye cursed,' saith Christ, 'into everlasting fire,' into the fire that burns for ever, 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). O! thou that wast loth to foul thy foot if it were but dirty, or did but rain; thou that was loth to come out of the chimney-corner, if the wind did but blow a little cold; and was loth to go half-a-mile, yea, half-a-furlong to hear the word of God, if it were but a little 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 have them 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 with the greatest spendthrift in the country; thou that lovest to sin in a corner when nobody 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 an enemy to the things of Christ in thine heart. Thou that dost satisfy thyself, either with sins, or a bare profession of godliness, thy soul will fall into extreme torment and anguish, so soon as ever thou dost depart this world, and there thou shalt be weeping and gnashing thy teeth (Matt 8:12). 'And beside all this,' thou art like never to have any ease or remedy, never look for any deliverance, thou shalt die in 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 they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come 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 what this gulf is. But,
2. If thou wouldst needs know if thou do fall short of heaven, thou wilt find it this, namely, the everlasting decree of God; that is, there is decree gone forth from God, that those who fall short of heaven in this world, God is resolved they shall 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 Christ saith, '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 paid the' 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 into a worse place; and also those that go to hell, and would come out, they shall not come out thence again. And friend, this is such a gulf, so fixed by him that cannot lie, that thou wilt find it so, which way soever thou goest, whether it be to heaven or hell.
Here therefore thou seest how secure God will make those who die in the faith; God will keep them in heaven; but those that die in their sins, God will throw them to hell 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, they would 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 fiery furnace of God's eternal vengeance, if they might—but here is their misery, they that 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; here therefore lies the misery, not so much that they are in hell, but there they must lie for ever and ever. Therefore, if thy heart would at any time tempt thee to sin against God, cry out, No, for then I must go to hell, and lie there for ever. If the drunkards, swearers, liars, and hypocrites did but take this doctrine soundly down, it would make them tremble when they think of sinning. But poor souls, now they will 'make a mock of sin' (Prov 14:9), and play with it as a child doth play with a rattle; but the time is coming, that these rattles that now they play with will make such a noise in their ears and consciences, that they shall find, that if all the devils in hell were yelling at their heels, the noise would not be comparable to 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 will gripe 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, for ever, for ever.
Verse 27.—'Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house.'
The verses before, I told you, were spoken partly to hold forth the desire that the damned have to be freed of their endless misery. Now this verse still holds forth the cries of those poor souls very vehement, they would very fain have something granted 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, seeing I 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 must not be admitted to have so much as one drop of cold water, nor the least help from the 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 eternal vengeance, and the rebukes of devouring fire; seeing my state is such, that I would not wish a dog in my condition, 'send him to my father's house.' It is worthy to be 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, as I said before, they will be so brought down, that those things that they disdained and made light of in this world, they would be glad of in the life to come. He who by this man was so slighted, as that he thought it a dishonour that he should eat with 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 scabbed creep-hedge as he! No, I scorn he should be entertained under my roof. Thus in his lifetime, while he was in his bravery; but now he is come into another world, now he is parted from his pleasures, now he sees his fine house, his dainty dishes, his rich neighbours and companions, and he, are parted asunder; now he finds instead of pleasures, torments; instead of joys, heaviness; instead of heaven, hell; instead of 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 entertained in time past, and might have persuaded him, at least not to have gone on so grievously wicked, 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 in sin, 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 our Lord 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, and for nothing; nay, they are now desired to hear and receive it: though now they will not 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, when you would be glad, if you might enjoy from God, from Christ, or his saints, one small drop of cold water, though now you are unwilling to receive the glorious distilling drops 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 to set their children ill examples; and also children love to follow the wicked steps of 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 my father's house, to my brother's house. Tell them my state is miserable, tell them I am undone for ever; and tell them also, that if they will be walking in these ungodly steps 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 is like you little think of this, that some of your friends and relations are crying out 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 when they are parted by death, they that are living, seldom or never consider of the sad condition that they that are dead are descended into. But ye ungodly fathers, how are your ungodly children roaring now in hell? And you ungodly children, how are your 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 wrath of God, saying, O that I was with him, how would I rebuke him, and persuade him by all means to leave off these evil courses. O! that they did but consider what I now suffer for pride, covetousness, drunkenness, lying, swearing, stealing, whoring, and the like. O! did they but feel the thousandth part thereof, it would make them look about them, and not buy sin at so dear a rate as I have done; even with the loss of my precious soul.
'Send him to my father's house.' Not to my father, but to my 'father's house.' It may 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 that I left them; I left them wicked, and they are wicked still; I left them slighters of the gospel, saints, and ways of God, and they do it still; 'send him to my father's house,' it is like there is but a little between them and the place where I am; send him 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 crying and with tears, in the agony of my soul. It may be they will not consider, if thou do not send him. I left them sottish enough, hardened as well as I; they have the same devil to tempt them, the same lusts and world to overcome them; 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house'; make no delay, lest they lose their souls, lest they come hither: if they do, they are like never to return again. O! little do they think how easily they may lose their souls; they are apt to think their condition to be as good as the best, as I once through ignorance did; but send him, send him without delay, 'lest they also come into this place of torment.' O that thou wouldst give him commission, do thou send him thyself; the time was when I, together with them, slighted those that were sent of God; though we could not deny but that he spake the word of God, and was sent of him, as our consciences told us; yet we preferred the calls of men before the calls of God. For though they had the one, yet because they had not the other in that antichristian way which we thought meet, we could not, would not, either hear him ourselves, nor yet 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 it in such a place, by such a man; no, nor then neither effectually. But now, O that I was to live in the world again; and might have that privilege to have some acquaintance with blessed Lazarus, some familiarity with that holy man; what attendance would I give unto his wholesome words! How would I affect his doctrine, and close in with it! How would I square my life thereby! Now therefore, as it is better to hear the gospel under a hedge than to sit roaring in a tavern, it is better to welcome God's begging Lazaruses than the wicked companions of this world. It is better to receive a saint in the name of a saint, a disciple in the name of a disciple, than to do as I have done (Luke 10:16). O! it is better to receive a child of God, that can by experience deliver the things of God, his free love, his tender grace, his rich forbearance, and also the misery of man, if without it, than to be 'daubed with untempered mortar' (Eze 13:10). O! I may curse the day that ever I gave way to the flatteries and 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 woeful place. 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 mine estate aright. I was vexed to hear my sins mentioned, and laid to my charge; I loved him 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 pierced both 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 should be deceived; they had better see their lost condition in the world, than stay while they 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, and gnashing 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 also come into this place of torment.'
These words are, if I may so say, a reason given by those in hell why they are so restless and do cry so loud; it is that their companions might be delivered from those intolerable torments which they must and shall undergo if they fall short of everlasting life by Jesus Christ. 'Send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren.' Though, while they lived among them in the world, they were not so sensible of their ruin, yet now they are passed out of the world, and do partake of that which before they were warned of; they can, I say, then cry out, Now I find that to be true indeed, which was once and again told and declared to me that it would certainly come to pass.
'FOR I HAVE FIVE BRETHREN.' Here you may see that there may be, and are, whole households in a damnable state and condition, as our Lord Jesus doth by this signify. 'Send him to my father's house,' for they are all in one state, I left all my brethren in a pitiful case. People, while they live here, cannot endure to hear that they should be all in a miserable condition; but when they are under the wrath of God they see it, they know it, and are very sure of it; for they themselves, when they were 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 continue so.
The thing observable is this, namely, that those that are in hell do not desire that their companions should come thither; nay rather, saith he, send him to my father's house, 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 desire not 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 really to desire the salvation of any. But in that there is any desire in them that are damned, 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 horror of them to see their ungodly neighbours in the like destruction with them. For where the ungodly do live and die, and descend into the pit together, the one is rather a vexation to the other than any thing else. And it must needs be so, because there are no ungodly people that do live ungodly together but they do learn ill examples one of another, as thus: If there live one in the town that is very expert and cunning for the world, why now the rest that are of the same mind with him, they will labour to 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 it because 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; spending that upon their lusts which should relieve their own and others' wants. Also if there be any given to jesting, scoffing, lying, whoring, backbiting, junketing, wantonness, or any other sin, they that are most expert in these things do ofttimes entangle others, that peradventure would not have been so vile as now they are, had they not had 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 have to answer for his own sins and for a great part of his neighbour's too, which will add to his destruction; as that scripture in Ezekiel showeth, where, speaking of the watchman that should give the people warning, if he did not, though the man did die 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 conversation and practices shall be a trap and a stumbling-block to cause thy neighbour to fall into eternal ruin—though he be damned for his own sins—yet God may, nay he will charge thee as being guilty of his blood, in that thou didst not content thyself to keep from 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, besides the guilt of thine own sins, thou wouldst be so loaden with the fear of the damnation of others to be laid to thy charge, that thou wouldst cry out, O send one from the dead 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 short of glory.
I left him living in foul and heinous offences; but I was one of the first instruments to 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-block one to another by their practices, they must needs be a torment one to another, and an aggravation of each other's damnation. O cursed be thy face, saith one, that ever I set mine eyes on thee. It was long of thee. I may thank thee. It was thee that did entice me and ensnare me. It was your filthy conversation that was a stumbling-block to 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 had set me a good example, as you did set me an ill one, it may be I might have done better than now I do; but I learned of you, I followed your steps, I took counsel of you. O that I had never seen thy face! O that thou hadst never been born to do my soul this wrong, as you have done! O, saith the other, and I may as much blame you, for do not you remember how at such a time, and at such a time, you drew me out, and drew me away, and asked me if I would go with you, when I was going about other business, about my calling; but you called me away, you sent for me, you are as much in the fault as I; though I were covetous, you were proud; and if you learned covetousness of me, I learned pride and drunkenness of you. Though I learned you to 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 blame you 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 looks of 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! Grief to my soul! Since I could not shun thy company there, O that I had been without thy company here!
I say, therefore, for those that have sinned together to go to hell together, it will very much perplex and torment them both; therefore I judge this is one reason why they that are in hell do desire that their friends or companions do not come thither into the same place of torment that they are in. And therefore where Christ saith that these damned souls cry out, Send to our companions, that they may be warned and commanded to look to themselves, O send to my five brethren! it is because they would 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 were in the world with them. For I do believe that the very looks of those that have been beguiled of their fellows, I say their very looks will be a torment to them: for thereby will the remembrance of their own sins be kept, if possible, the fresher on their consciences, which they committed with them; and also they will wonderfully have the guilt of the others sins upon them, in that they were partly the cause of his committing them, being instruments in the hands of the devil to draw them in too. And, therefore, lest this come to pass, 'I pray thee send him to my father's house.' For if they might not come hither, peradventure my torment might have some mitigation; that is, if they might be saved, then their sins will be pardoned, and not so heavily charged on my soul. But if they do fall into the same place where I am, the sins that I have caused them to commit will lie so heavy, not only on their souls, 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 testify to 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 sins of all sorts whatsoever?
While men live here, if they can be counted the cunningest in cheating, the boldest for 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 in it, take a pride in it, and think themselves pretty well at ease, and their minds are somewhat quiet, being beguiled with sin.
But, friend, when thou hast lost this life, and dost begin to lift up thine eyes in hell, and seest what thy sins have brought thee to; and not only so, but that thou, by thy filthy sins, didst cause others, devil-like, to fall into the same condemnation with thee; and that one of the reasons of their damnation was this, that thou didst lead them to the commission of those wicked practices of this world, and the lusts thereof; then, O that somebody would stop them from coming, lest they also come into this place of torment, and be damned as I am! How ill it torment me! Balaam could not be contented to be damned himself, but also he must, by his wickedness, cause others to stumble and fall. The Scribes and Pharisees could not be contented to keep out of heaven themselves, but they must labour to keep out others too. Therefore theirs is the greater damnation.
The deceived cannot be content to be deceived himself; but he must labour to deceive others also. The drunkard cannot be content to go to hell for his own sins, but he must 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 for thy being a partaker with others in their sins; and damned for being guilty of the damnation of others. O how will the drunkards cry for leading their neighbours into drunkenness! 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 not only wronged his own soul, but also the souls of others. The liar, by lying, learned others to lie; the swearer learned others to swear; the whoremonger learned others to whore.
Now all these, with others of the like sort, will be guilty, not only of their own damnation, but also of the damnation of others. I tell you, that some men have so much been the authors of the damnation of others, that I am ready to think that the damnation of them will trouble them as much as their own damnation. Some men, it is to be feared, at the day of judgment, will be found to be the authors of destroying whole nations. How many souls do you think Balaam, with his deceit, will have to answer for? How many Mahomet? How many the Pharisees, that hired the soldiers to say the disciples stole away Jesus? (Matt 18:11-15); and by that means stumbled their brethren to this day; and was one means of hindering them from believing the things of God and Jesus Christ, and so the cause of the damnation of their brethren to this very day.
How many poor souls hath Bonner to answer for, think you, and several filthy blind priests? How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignorance and corrupt doctrine? Preaching, that was no better for their souls than ratsbane to the body, for filthy lucre's sake (O ye priests, this word is for you). They shall see, that they, many of them it is to be feared, will have whole towns to answer for; whole cities to answer for. Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou that hast taken in hand to preach to the people, it may be thou hast taken in hand thou canst not tell what. Will it not grieve thee to see thy whole parish come bellowing after thee to hell, crying out, This we may thank thee for, this is long of thee, thou didst not teach us the truth; thou didst lead us away with fables, thou wast afraid to tell us 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 would have gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and also tell us 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 my people, my friends, my children, my congregation to whom I preached, and beguiled through my folly. Send him to the town in which I did preach last, lest I be the cause of their damnation. Send him to my friends from whence I came, lest I be made to 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 also come into this place of torment. Consider this, ye that live thus in the world, while ye are in the land of the living, lest you fall into this condition. Set the case thou shouldest by thy carriage destroy but a soul, but one poor soul, by one of thy carriages or actions, by thy sinful works; consider it now, I say, lest thou be forced to 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 into this place of torment.'
If so, then I shall not only say to the blind guides, Look you to yourselves, and shut not out others; no, but this doth reach unto all those that do not only keep souls from heaven by preaching and the like, but speaks forth the doom of those that 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 so keep under their poor tenants that they dare not go out to hear the word, for fear their 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 be content to miss of heaven thyself, but thou must labour to hinder others also? Will it not give thee an eternal wound in thy heart, both at death and judgment, to be accused 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 scornful landlords; think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands, that are against the godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also you that hold your servants so hard to it that you will not spare them time to hear the word, unless it be where and 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 not cry, if you would not howl, if you would not bear the burden of the ruin of others for ever, then I beseech you to consider this doleful story, and labour to avoid the soul-killing torment that this poor wretch groaneth under, when he saith, 'I pray 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 take notice 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 the Scripture uses to set forth the vehemency of Christ, his telling of his disciples of him that should betray him. And he testified, saying, One of you shall betray me. And he testified, that is, he spake it so as to dash or overcome any that should have said it shall not be. It is a word that signifies, that in case any should oppose the thing spoken of, yet that the party speaking should still continue constant in his saying. And he commanded them to preach, 'and to testify, that it is he which was 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 objected against. 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 their sins alive in this world, that they must and shall be damned if they turn not, and be converted to God. 'Let him testify to them,' let him speak confidently, though they frown upon him, or dislike his way of speaking. And how is this truth verified and cleared by the carriages of almost all men now in the world toward them that do preach the gospel; and show their own miserable state plainly to them, if they close not with it? If a man do but indeed labour to convince sinners of their sins and lost condition by nature, though they must be damned if they live and die in that condition, O how angry are they at it! Look how he judges, say they, hark how he condemns us; he tells us we must be damned if we live and die in this state. We are offended at him, we cannot abide to hear him, or any such as he; we will believe none of them all, but go on in the way we are agoing. 'Forbear, why shouldest thou be smitten,' said the ungodly king to the prophet, when he told him of his sins (2 Chron 25:16).
I say, tell the drunkard he must be damned if he leaves not his drunkenness, the swearer, liar, cheater, thief, covetous, railers, or any ungodly persons, they must and shall lie in hell for it, if they die in this condition; they will not believe you, not credit you.
Again, tell others that there are many in hell that have lived and died in their conditions, and so are they like to be, if they convert not to Jesus Christ, and be 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 plainly of the emptiness and unprofitableness of that, as to the saving of their souls, and that God will not accept them, nor love them, notwithstanding these things, and that if they intend to be saved, they must be better provided than with such a righteousness as this; they will either fling away, and come to hear no more, or else if they do come, they will bring such prejudice with them in their hearts, that the word preached shall not profit them, it being mixed not with faith, but with prejudice in them that hear it (Heb 4:1,2). Nay, they will some of them be so full of anger that they will break out and call, even those that speak the truth, heretics; yea, and kill them (Luke 4:25-29). And why so? Because they tell them, that if they live in their sins that will damn them; yet if they turn and live a righteous life, according to the 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] righteousness too, and close in with a naked Jesus Christ, his blood and merits, and what he hath done, and is now doing for sinners, they cannot be saved; and unless they do eat the 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 for speaking the same thing to them (John 6:53,60). And fling away themselves, their souls and all, by quarrelling against the doctrine of the Son of God, as indeed they do, though they will not believe they do; and therefore, he that is a preacher of the Word, had need not only tell them, but testify to them, again and again, that their sins, if they continue in them, will damn them, and damn them again. And tell them again, their living honestly according to the law, their paying every one their own, their living quietly with their neighbours, their giving to the poor, their notion of the gospel, and saying they do believe in Christ, will do them no good at the general day of judgment. Ha, friends! How many of you are there at this very day, that have been told once and again of your lost undone condition, because you want the right, real, and saving work of God upon your souls! I say, hath not this been 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 open ungodly 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's sake, that he would work such a work of grace in your hearts, and give you such a faith 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 perplexity of your souls, Send one to my companions that have been beguiled by Satan as I have been, 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 place of torment, as sure as I am here. From whence observe, that though some souls do for sin fall into the bottomless pit of hell before their fellows, because they depart this world before them, yet the other, abiding in the same course, are as sure to go to the same place as if they were there already. How so? Because that all are condemned together, they have all fallen under the same law, and have all offended the 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, then what hinders but they will partake of the same destruction with them? Only the one hath not the law yet so executed upon them, because they are here; the other have had the law executed upon them, they are gone to drink that which they have been brewing, 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 art not. Just as if there were a company of prisoners at the bar, and all condemned to die; what, because they are not all executed in one day, therefore shall they not be executed at all? Yes, the same law that executed its severity upon the parties now deceased, will for certain be executed on them that are alive in its appointed time. Even so it is here, we are all condemned by nature; if we close not in with the 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 this place of torment.
Again, 'Send him to my father's house,' and let him 'testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' As if he had said, It may be he may prevail with them, it may be he may win upon them, and so they may be kept from hence, from coming into this grievous place of torment. Observe again, that there is a possibility of obtaining mercy, if now, I say, now in this day of grace, we turn from our sins to 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 upon God's own terms, and close with him effectually, God hath promised, yea, made many promises, that thy soul shall be conducted safe to glory, and shall for certain escape all the evils that I have told thee of; aye, and many more than I can imagine. Do but search the Scriptures, and see how full of consolation they are to a poor soul that 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 cast him out'; mark, in no wise, though he be a great sinner, I will in no wise cast him out, 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 come to me, and notwithstanding this, 'I will in no wise cast him out,' nor throw away his soul (John 6:37). Again, saith the apostle, 'Now,' mark now, 'is the accepted time, now is the day of their salvation.' Now here is mercy in good store, now God's heart is open to sinners; now he will make you welcome; now he will receive anybody if they do but come to Christ. 'He that cometh to me,' saith Christ, 'I will in no wise 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, receive it now, close in with it now.
God hath a certain day to hold out his grace to sinners. Now is the time, now is the 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 which he doth hold out his grace. There is a day coming, in which you will not be admitted to have the privilege of one drop of water to cool your tongue, if now, I say, if now you slight his grace and goodness which he holds out to you. Ah, friends, consider there is now hopes of mercy, but then there will not; now Christ holds forth mercy unto you, but then he will not (Matt 7:23). Now there are his servants that do beseech you to accept of his grace, but if thou lose the opportunity that is put into thine hand, thou thyself mayest beseech hereafter, and no mercy be given thee. '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.' And thee was none given. Therefore let it never be said of thee, as it will be said of some, 'Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it?' Seeing he hath no heart to make a good use of it (Prov 17:16). Consider therefore with thyself, and say, It is better going to heaven than hell; it is better to be saved than damned; it is better to be with saints than with damned souls; and to go to God is better than to go to the devil. Therefore 'seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call ye upon 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 of his ministers to the damned in hell, and give him commission to preach the free love of God in Christ extended to them, and held out to them, if now while it is proffered to 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 grace on 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 they live here they will not part from sin, with hell-bred devilish sin. No, they will rather lose their souls than lose their filthy sins.
But, friend, thou wilt change thy note before it be long, and cry, O simple wretch that I am that I should damn my soul by sin! It is true, I have had the gospel preached to me, and have been invited in. I have been preached to, and have been warned of this; but 'how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov 5:12,13). O therefore, I say, poor soul! Is there hope? Then lay thine hand 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 with the same Lord Jesus Christ, lest one of you do go to hell beforehand, and expect with grief of heart your companions to come after; and in the mean time, with anguish of 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 way of use and application; but I shall be very brief, and but touch some things, and so wind up. And, First, I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die out of 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 declaration of the state of one living and dying out of Christ; how that they lose heaven for hell, God for the devil, light for darkness, joy for sorrow. 2. How that they have not so much as the least comfort from God, who in the time they live here below neglect coming to him for mercy; not so much as one drop of cold water. 3. That such souls will repent of their folly, when repentance will do them no good, or when they shall be past recovery. 4. That all the comfort such souls are like to have, they have it in this world. 5. That all their groanings and sighs will not move God to mitigate in the least his heavy hand of vengeance that is upon them, for the transgression they have committed against him. 6. That their sad state is irrecoverable, or they must never, mark, never come out of that condition. 7. Their desires will not be hard for their ungodly neighbours. From these things then, I pray you consider the state of those that die out of Christ Jesus; yea, I say, consider their miserable state; and think thus with thyself, Well, if I neglect coming to Christ, I must go to 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? Shall I buy the pleasures of this world at so dear a rate as to lose my soul for the obtaining of 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 final sentence of eternal ruin must be passed upon me?
1. Consider, that the profits, pleasures, and vanities of this world will not last for ever, but the time is coming, yea, just at the doors, when they will give thee the slip, and leave thee in the suds, and in the brambles of all that thou hast done. 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 of judgment? Will my sins do me good then? Will they be able to help me when I come to fetch my last breath? What good will my profits do me? And what good will my vanities do, 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 pains of hell? Will these help to turn the hand of God from inflicting his fierce anger upon 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 fire and brimstone.
3. Consider thus with thyself, Would I be glad to have all, every one of my sins to come in against me, to inflame the justice of God against me? Would I be glad to be bound up in them as the three children were bound in their clothes, and to be as really thrown into the fiery furnace of the wrath of Almighty God as they were into 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 hath broken me; the second saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me, &c. Consider how terrible this will be, yea, more terrible than if thou shouldest have ten of the biggest 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 that the law, for the breach thereof, will give against thy soul; for those can but kill the 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 continuance with devils. O consider, it may be the thought of seeing the devil doth now make thine hair to stand right up on thine head. O but this, to be damned, to be among all the devils, and that not only for a time, as I said before, but for ever, to all 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 my charge, but also the sins I have committed in slighting the gospel, the glorious gospel. These also must come with a voice against me. As thus, Nay, he is worthy to be damned, for he rejected the gospel, he slighted the free grace of God tendered in the gospel; how many times was thou, damned wretch, invited, intreated, beseeched to 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 have drawn thee downward toward the gulf of God's eternal displeasure? How often didst thou read the promises, yea, the free promises of the common salvation! How oft didst thou read the sweet counsels and admonitions of the gospel, to accept of the grace of 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 die out of Christ, and are past all recovery, so would I have thee consider the many mercies and privileges thou enjoyest above some, peradventure, of thy companions that are departed to their proper place. As,
1. Consider, thou hast still the thread of thy life lengthened, which for thy sins might seven years ago, or more, have been cut asunder, and thou have dropped down amongst the flames.
2. Consider the terms of reconciliation by faith in Christ are still proffered unto thee, and thou invited, yea, entreated to accept of them.
3. Consider the terms of reconciliation are but—bear with me though I say but—only to believe in Jesus Christ, with that faith that purifies the heart, and enables thy 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, and also that for ought thou knowest the day of grace may be past to thee before thou diest, not lasting so long as thy uncertain life in this world. And if so, then know for certain that thou art as sure to be damned as if thou wast in hell already; if thou convert not in the meanwhile.
5. Consider it may be some of thy friends are giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure, being resolved for heaven, and thou thyself endeavourest as 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 friends were 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 friends in heaven, and thyself in hell; thy father in heaven, and thou in hell; thy mother in heaven, and thou in hell; thy brother, thy sister, thy children in heaven, and thou 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 gnashing of teeth,' when you shall see your fathers and mothers, brethren and sisters, husbands and wives, children and kinsfolk, with your friends and neighbours in the kingdom of 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 that die 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 not worth 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 and have 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 hath done, and that on free cost (Rev 22:17).
(4.) Consider that thou canst not honour God more than to close in with his proffers of 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 the promises, invitations, exhortations, and all the counsels and threatenings of the blessed word of God. Thou shalt have all thy thoughts, words, and actions, together with 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 abuse of all these shall come up in judgment against thy soul; for God will reckon with thee 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, that damned crew. May not they, I say, come in against thee, and say, O thou simple man! O vile wretch! That had not so much care of thy soul, thy precious soul, as the beast hath of its young, or the dog of the very bone that lieth before him. Was thy soul worth so much, and didst thou so little regard it? Were the thunder-claps of the law so terrible, and didst thou so slight them? Besides, was the gospel so freely, so frequently, so fully tendered to thee, and yet hast thou rejected all these 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 thou not told of hell-fire, those intolerable flames? Didst thou never hear of the intolerable roarings of the damned ones that are therein? Didst thou never hear or read that doleful saying in Luke 16, how the sinful man cries out among the flames, 'One drop of water to cool my tongue?' Thus, I say, may the very devils, being ready to go with thee into the burning furnace of fire and brimstone, though not for sins of so high a nature as thine, trembling say, O that Christ had died for devils, as he died 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 might never have it proffered; no, not in the least, though we would have been glad of it. 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 to all 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 terrible note 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 sound an alarm in thine ears, by the trumpet of God's word day after day? How often didst thou 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 tell thee 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 not we 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 we not venture our goods, our names, our lives? Yea, did we not even kill ourselves with our earnest intreaties of thee to consider of thine estate, and by Christ to escape this dreadful day? O sad doom! When thou shalt be forced full sore against thy 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 voice of 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 upon thee! Remember thou wouldst not be ruled nor persuaded in thy lifetime. As thou didst not 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 that portion which the devils must be partakers of. 'The righteous shall rejoice when he 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 hear this doleful sound. Consider these things, and if thou wouldst be loth to be in this condition, then have a care of living in sin now. How loth wilt thou be to be thrust away from the gates of heaven! And how loth wilt thou be to be deprived of the mercy of God! How unwillingly wilt thou set foot forward towards the lake of fire! Never did 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 is passed upon thy soul.
O how wilt thou sigh and groan! How willingly wouldst thou hide thyself, and run away from justice! But alas! as it is with them that are on the ladder ready to be executed, so it will be with thee. They would fain run away, but there are many halbert-men to stay them. And so the angels of God will beset thee round, I say round on every side; so that thou mayest indeed look, but run thou canst not. Thou mayest wish thyself under 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 mother or friends, &c., go to heaven without thee! How willingly wouldst thou hang on them, and not let them go! O father! cannot you help me? Mother, cannot you do me some 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 their backs upon them, saying, You would have none of heaven in your lifetime, therefore you shall have none of it now. You slighted our counsels then, and we slight your tears, cries, and condition now. What sayest thou, sinner? Will not this persuade thine heart, nor make thee bethink thyself? This is now before thou fall into that dreadful 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, Here thou must lie for ever! Here thou must fry for ever, and for ever! This will be more to thee than any man with tongue can express, or with pen can write. There is none that can, I say, by the ten thousandth part, discover the state and condition of such 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, that there is way made by Jesus Christ for them that are under the curse of God, to come to this comfortable and blessed state of Lazarus I was speaking of. See Ephesians 2.
[Second Encouragement.] Consider what pains Christ Jesus took for the ransoming of thy soul from all the curses, thunder-claps, and tempests of the law; from all the intolerable flames of hell; from that soul-sinking appearance of thy person, on the left hand, before the judgment-seat of Christ Jesus, from everlasting fellowship, with innumerable companies of yelling and soul-amazing devils, I say, consider what pains the Lord Jesus Christ took in bringing in redemption for sinners from these things.
'In that though he was rich, yet he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be' 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 little of these unspeakable and intolerable slightings and rejections, and the manifold abuses 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 worthy of condemnation than he. Besides, how they mocked him, spit on him, beat him over the head with staves, had the hair plucked from his cheeks. 'I gave my back to the smiters,' saith he, 'and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting' (Isa 50:6). His head crowned with thorns, his hands pierced with nails, and his side with a spear; together with how they used him, scourged him, and so miserably misusing him, that they had even spent him in a great measure before 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 received from 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. For he laid the sins of thousands, and ten thousands, and thousands of thousands of sinners to his charge (Isa 53). And caused him to drink the terrible cup that was due to them all; and not only so, but did delight in so doing. 'For it pleased the LORD to 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 like a lion, but made his soul an offering for sin. And this was not done feignedly, but really—for justice called for it, he standing in the room of sinners. Witness that horrible and unspeakable agony that fell on him suddenly in the garden, as if all the 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, and that for ever; insomuch that the very pangs of death seized upon him in the same hour. For, saith he, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful' and 'sore amazed,' even 'unto death' (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! What a burden didst thou bear of the sins of the world, and the wrath of God! O thou didst not only bleed at nose and mouth with the pressure that lay upon thee, but thou wast so pressed, so loaden, that the pure blood gushed through the flesh and skin, and so ran trickling down to the ground. 'And his sweat was as it were great drops of blood,' 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 repentance one hour longer? O heart of flint! yea, harder. O miserable wretch! What place in hell will be hot enough for thee to have thy soul put into, if thou shalt persist or 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 (Psa 16:10; Acts 2:31). And had hell, death, or the grave, been strong enough to hold him, then he had suffered the vengeance of eternal fire to all eternity. But, O blessed Jesus! how didst thou discover thy love to man in thy thus suffering! And, O God the 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 the making 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 power of 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 'eye hath 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 devils make it their whole work, and continually study how they may keep thee and others from enjoying of these blessed privileges that have been thus obtained for sinners by this sweet Jesus. He labours, I say, (1.) To keep thee ignorant of thy state by nature. (2.) To harden thy heart against the ways of God. (3.) To inflame they heart with 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 wicked world, by reason of sin. Look to it therefore.
[Fourth Encouragement.] But now, in the next place, a word of encouragement to you that are the saints of the Lord.
1. Consider what a happy state thou art in that hast gotten the faith of the Lord Jesus into thy soul; but be sure thou have it, I say, how safe, how sure, how happy art thou! For when others go to hell, thou must go to heaven; when others go to the devil, 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 shalt also sing for the joy of heart.
2. Consider thou must have all thy well-spent life to follow thee instead of all thy sins and the glorious blessings of the gospel instead of the dreadful curses and condemnations of the law; the blessing of the father, instead of a fiery sentence from the judge.
3. Let dissolution come when it will, it can do thee no harm; for it will be but only a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a sea of troubles into a haven of rest; out of a crowd of enemies, to an innumerable company of true, loving, and faithful friends; out of shame, reproach, and contempt, into exceeding great and eternal glory. For death shall not hurt thee with his sting, nor bite thee with his soul-murdering teeth; but shall be a welcome guest to thee, even to thy soul, in that it is sent to free thee from thy troubles which thou art in whilst here in this world dwelling in the tabernacle of clay.
4. Consider however it goes with friends and relations, yet it will go well with thee (Eccl 8:12). However it goes with the wicked, yet 'surely I know'; mark, 'yet surely I know,' saith he, 'that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him.' And therefore let this,
(1.) In the first place, cause thee cheerfully to exercise thy patience under all the calamities, crosses, troubles, and afflictions that may come upon thee; and, by patient continuance in well-doing, to commit both thyself and thine affairs and actions into the hands of God, through Jesus Christ, as to a faithful Creator, who is true in his word, and loveth to give unto thee whatsoever he hath promised to thee.