« السابقةمتابعة »
his heart for fin, let him weep out his eyes, let him mourn as a dove, and shed as many tears for fin (if it were poffible) as ever there fell drops of rain upon the ground, yet if he come not to Chrift by faith, his repentance shall not fave him, nor all his forrows bring him to true reft. Hence note,
Doct. 1. That fome fouls are heavy laden with the burthenfome fenfe of fin.
Doct. 2. That all burthened fouls are folemnly invited to come to Chrift.
Doct. 3. That there is reft in Chrift for all that come to him under the heavy burthen of fin.
Doct. 1. Some fouls are heavy laden with the burthenfome fenfe of fir.
Doct. 1. I do not fay all are fo, for "fools make a mock at "fin," Prov. xiv, 9. It is fo far from being burthenfome to fome, that it is a sport to them, Prov. x. 23. But when 2 man's eyes are opened to fee the evil that is in fin, and the eter nal mifery that follows it, (fin and hell being linked together with fuch strong chains as nothing but the blood of Christ can loofe) then no burden is like that of fin: "A wounded con"fcience who can bear?" Prov. xviii. 14. For let us but confider the efficacy that the law of God hath upon the consciences of men, when it comes in the fpirituality and power of it, to convince and humble the foul of a finner. For then, First, The memory of fin, long fince committed, What inward is refreshed and revived, as if it had been but troubles for yesterday: There are freth recognitions of fin fin are. long fince acted and forgotten, as if they had never been: What was done in our youth is fetched back again, and by a new impreffion of fear, and horror, fet home upon the trembling confcience. Job xiii. 26, Thou "writeft bitter things against me, and makeft me to poffefs the fins of my youth." Confcience can call back the days that are past, and draw up a new charge upon the fcore of old fins, Gen. xlii. 21. All that ever we did is recorded, and entered into the book of confcience, and now is the time to open that book, when the Lord will convince, and awaken finners. We read in Job xiv. 17. of fealing up iniquities in a bag, which is an allufion to the Clerk of the offizes, that takes all the indictments that are made against perfons at the affizes, and feals them up in a bag, in order to a trial. This is the firft office and work of confcience; upon which
The fecond, namely, its accufations, do depend. Thefe accufations of confcience are terrible things; who can stand before them? They are full, they are clear, and all of them referring to the approaching judgment of the great and terrible God.
Confcience dives into all fins †, fecret as well as open, and into all the circumftances and aggravations of fin, as being committed against light, against mercy, against the ftrivings, warnings, and regrets of confcience. So that we may fay of the efficacy of confcience, as it is faid, Pfalm. xix. 6. of the influence of the fun, "nothing is hid from the heat and power "thereof." "Come (faith the woman of Samaria) fee a man "that hath told me all that ever I did," John iv. 29. Christ convinced her but of one fin, by this difcourfe, but confcience, by that one, fetched in, and charged all the reft upon her. And -as the accufations of confcience are full, fo they are clear and undeniable: A man becomes felf-convinced, and there remains no fhift, excuse, or plea, to defend himself: A thousand witnes fes cannot prove any point more clearly than one teftimony of confcience doth. Matth. xxii. 12. "The man was fpeechlefs, "a mute;" muzzled (as the word fignifies +) by the clear testimony of his own confcience: Thefe accufations are the fecond work or office of conscience, and they make way for the third, Damely,
Thirdly, The fentence and condemnation of confcience: And truly this is an infupportable burthen: The condemnation of confcience is nothing elfe but its application of the condemning fentence of the law to a man's perfon: The law curfeth every one that tranfgreffeth it, Gal. iii. 10. Confcience applies this curfe to the guilty finnner. So that it fentences the finner in God's name and authority, from whence there is no appeal: The voice of confcience is the voice of God, and what it pronounces in God's name and authority, he will confirm and ratify, 1 John iii. 20. "If our hearts, (i. e.) our confciences, condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things:" This is that torment which no man can endure. See the effects of it in Cain, in Judas, and in Spira; it is a real foretaste of hell-torments : This is that Worm that never dies, Mark ix. 44. For look, as a worm in the body is bred of the corruption that is there, fo the accufations and condemnations of confcience are bred in the foul by the corruption and guilt that is there: As the worm in the
+ This is the first punishment of fin, that no guilty perfon can be acquitted in his own confcience. Juv. lib. 13.1.2.
O de spinaen, et ille capiftratus eft,
body preys and bites upon the tender, fentible, inward parts, doth confcience touch the very quick. This is its third effect, or work, to fentence and condemn; and this also makes way for a fourth, namely,
Fourthly, To upbraid and reproach the finner under his misery ; and this makes a man a very terror to himself: To be pitied in mifery is fome relief, but to be upbraided, and reproached, doubles our affliction: You know it was one of the aggravations of Chrift's fufferings, to be reproached by the tongues of his enemies, whilft he hanged in torments upon the curfed tree; but all the fcoffs and reproaches, the bitter jeers and sarcasms in the world, are nothing to thofe of a man's own confcience; which will cut to the very bone.
O! when a man's confcience fhall fay to him in a day of trou. ble, as Reuben to his afflicted brethren, Gen. xliii. 22. "Spake [ not unto you, faying, do not fin against the child, and ye would not hear ; therefore behold alfo his blood is required." So confcience; did I not warn you, threaten you, persuade you, in time, against thefe evils; but you would not hearken to me, therefore behold now you must fuffer to all eternity for it. The wrath of God is kindled against thy foul for it: This is the fruit of thy own wilful madnefs and obftinacy. Now thou fhalt know the price of finning against God, against light, and confcience. O this is terrible! every bite of confcience makes a poor foul to ftartle, and in a terrible fright to cry, O the worm! O the bitter foretaste of hell! A wounded spirit who
This is a fourth wound of confcience, and it makes way for a fifth; for here it is as the pouring out of the vials, and the founding of those woe-trumpets in Revelations; one woe is past, and another cometh. After all thefe deadly blows of confcience upon the very heart of a finner, comes another as dread· ful as any that is yet named; and that is,
Fifthly, The fearful expectations of wrath to come, which it begets in the foul of a guilty finner: Of this you read, Heb. x. 27. "A fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indigna"tion:" And this makes the ftouteft finner faint and fink under the burthen of fin. For the tongue of man cannot declare what it is to lie down, and life with thofe fearful expectations: The cafe of fuch finners is fomewhat like that which is defcribed in Deut. xxviii. 65, 66, 67. “The Lord fhall give thee "there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and forrow of "mind. And thy life fhall hang in doubt before thee, and
thou shalt fear day and night, and fhall have no affurance of
thy life. In the morning thou shalt fay, would God it were 66 even: And at even thou shalt fay, would God it were mor"ning: For the fear of thine heart, wherewith thou fhalt fear," &c. Only in this it differs, in this fcripture you have the terror of those described, whofe temporal life hangs in doubtful fufpence, but in the perfons I am fpeaking of, it is a trembling under the apprehenfions and expectations of the vengeance of eternal fire.
Believe it, friends, words cannot exprefs what those poor creatures feel, that lie down, and rife up under these fears, and frights of confcience. Lord, what will become of me! I am free among the dead, yea, among the damned. I hang by the frail thread of a momentary life, which will, and must, break fhortly, and may break the next moment, over the everlasting burnings: No pleasant bread is to be eaten in these days, but what is like the bread of condemned men.
And thus you fee what the burden of fin is, when God makes it to bear upon the consciences of men, no burden of affliction is like it: Loffes of dearest relations, forrows for an only fon, are not fo pungent, and penetrating as these: For,
First, No creature enjoyment is pleafant under these inward troubles: In other troubles they may fignify fomething to a man's relief; but here they are nothing; the wound is too deep to be healed by any thing but the blood of Jefus Chrift: confcience requires as much to fatisfy it, as God requires to fatisfy him. When God is at peace with thee, (faith confcience) then will I be at peace with thee too; but till then, expect no reft nor peace from me: All the pleasures and diversions in the world shall never ftop my mouth: Go where thou wilt, I will follow thee like thy fhadow: Be thy portion in the world as fweet as it will, I will drop in gall and wormwood into thy cup, that thou fhait tafte no fweetness in any thing, till thou haft got thy pardon.
Thele inward troubles for fin alienate the mind from all former pleasures and delights; there is no more tafte or favour in them, than the white of an egg. Mufic is out of tune; all inftruments jar and groan. Ornaments have no beauty; what heart hath a poor creature to deck that body, in which dwells fuch a miferable foul! to feed and pamper that carcase that hath been the foul's inducement to, and inftrument in fin, and muft be its companion in everlasting mifery.
Secondly, Thefe inward troubles for fin, put a dread into death, beyond whatever the foul faw in it before. Now it looks like the King of terrors indeed. You read in Heb. ii. 15. of
fome that through fear of death are all their life long fubject to bondage. O what a lively comment is a foul in this cafe able to make upon fuch a text! They would not fcare at the pale horfe, nor at him that fits on him, though his name be called Death, if it were not for what follows him, Rev. vi. 8. but when they confider that hell follows, they tremble at the very name, or thoughts of death.
Thirdly, Such is the nature of thefe inward troubles of fpirit, that they fwallow up the fenfe of all outward troubles: Alas! these are all loft in the deeps of foul-forrows, as the little rivulets are in the vast fea; he that is wounded at the heart, will not cry Oh, at the bite of the finalleft infect. And furely no greater is the proportion betwixt outward and inward forrows. A fmall matter formerly would difcompose a man, and put him into a fret ; now ten thousand outward trou bles are lighter than a feather: For, faith he, "why doth the living man complain?" Am I yet on this fide eternal burn. ings! O let me not complain, then, whatever my condition be: Have I loffes in the world, or pains upon my body? Alas! thefe are not to be named with the lofs of God, and the feeling of his wrath and indignation for evermore. Thus you fee what troubles, inward troubles for fin be.
Secondly, If you afk, in the fecond place, how it comes to pafs that any foul is fupported under fuch ftrong troubles of fpirit, that all that feel them do not fink under them; that all that go down into these deep waters of forrow, are not drowned in them? The answer is,
First, Though this be a very fad time with the foul (much like that of Adam, betwixt the breach of the first covenant, and the first promise of Chrift made to him) yet the fouls that are thus heavy laden, do not fink, because God hath a most tender care over them, and regard to them; underneath them are the everlasting arms, and thence it is they fink not: Were they left to grapple with these troubles in their own ftrength, they could never ftand. But God takes care of these mourners, that their fpirits do not fail before him, and the fouls that he hath made; I mean thofe of his elect, whom he is this way preparing for, and bringing unto Christ.
How fouls are fupported under fuch troubles.
Secondly, The Lord is pleafed to nourish ftill fome hope in the foul under the greatest fears and troubles of fpirit: Though it have no comfort or joy, yet it hath fome hope, and that keeps up the heart. The afflicted foul doth, in this cafe, as the af flicted church, Lam. iii. 29. "He putteth his mouth in the duft,