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for death, though you may want fome circumftantial preparatives. And as to all that is wanting in your fanctification or obedience now, it will be compleated in a moment upon your diffolution.

Object. 2. Others plead, the defire they have to live, is in order to God's farther Jervice by them in this world. Oh, jay they, it was David's happiness to die, when he had ferved his generation according to the will of God; Acts xiii. 36. If we had done fo too, we should fay with Simeon, "Now letteft "thou thy fervant depart in peace."

Sol. (1.) God needs not your hands to carry on his fervice in the world: he can do it by other hands when you are gone. Many of greater gifts and graces than you, are daily laid in the grave, to teach you, God needs no man's help to carry on his


(2.) If the fervice of God be fo dear to you, there is higher and more excellent fervice for you in heaven, than any you ever were, or can be employed in here on earth. Oh! why do not you long to be amidst the company of angels and fpirits made perfect in the temple-fervice in heaven?

Obj. 3. O but my relations in the world lie near my heart, what will become of them when I am gone?

Sol. (1.) It is pity they fhould lie nearer your heart than Jefus Chrift: if they do, you have little reafon to defire death in-. deed..

(2.) Who took care of you, when death fnatched your dear relations from you, who poffibly felt the fame workings of heart that you now do? Did you not experience the truth of that word, Pfal. xxvii. 10. "When father and mother forfake me, then the "Lord taketh me up?" And if you be in the covenant, God hath prevented this plea with his promife, Jer. xlix. 11. "Leave thy fatherless children to me, I will keep them alive; and let "their widows truft in me."


Obj. 4. But I defire to live to fee the felicity of Zion before I go hence, and the anfwer of the many prayers I have foun for it; I am loath to leave the people of God in fo fad a condition.

Sol. The publicuefs of thy fpirit, and love to Zion, is doubtJefs pleafing to God; but it is better for you to be in heaven one day, than to live over again all the days you have lived on earth in the best times that ever the church of God enjoyed in this world: the promifes fhall be accomplished, tho' you may not live to fee their accomplishment; die you in the faith of it, as Jofeph did; Gen. 1. 24

But, alas the matter doth not flick here: this is not the

main hindrance. I will tell you where I think it lies: (1.) In the hesitancy and staggering of our faith about the certainty and reality of things invifible. (2.) In fome fpecial guilt upon the confcience, which difcourages us. (3) In a negligent and careless courfe of life, which is not ordinarily bleffed with much evidence or comfort. (4) In the deep engagements of our hearts to earthly things: they could not be fo cold to Chrift, if they were not. over-heated with other things. Till thefe diftempers be cured, no arguments can profper that are Ipent to this end. The Lord diffolve all thofe ties betwixt us and this world, which hinder our confent and willingness to be diffolved, and to be with Christ, which is far better.

And now we have had a glance and glimmering light, a faint' umbrage of the state of the separated fouls of the just in heaven: it remains that I fhew you fomewhat of the state and cafe of the damned fouls in hell. A dreadful reprefentation it is; but it is neceffary we hear of hell, that we may not feel it.




1 PET. iii. 19. By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prifon.

IN N the former difcourfe we have had a juft view of heaven, and of the fpirits of juft men made perfect, the inhabitants of that blessed region of light and glory.

In this fcripture we have the contrary glafs, reprefenting the unspeakable mifery of those fouls or fpirits which are separated by death from their bodies for a time, and by fin from God for ever; arrested by the law, and fecured in the prison of hell, unto the judgment of the great day.

A fermon of hell may keep fome fouls out of hell, and a fermon of heaven may be the means to help others to heaven: the defire of my heart is, that the converfations of all those who shall read these discourses of heaven and hell, might look more like å ́ diligent flight from the one, and purfuit of the other.

The scope of the context is a perfuafive to patience, upon a profpect of manifold tribulations coming upon the Chriftian churches, ftrongly enforced by Chrift's example, who both in his own perfon, v. 18. and by his fpirit in his fervants, v. 19. exercised wonderful patience and long-fuffering as a pattern to his people.

This 19 verfe gives us an account of his long-fuffering fowards that difobedient and immorigerous generation of finners,

on whom he waited an hundred and twenty years in the mini. ftry of Noah.

There are difficulties in the text. *Eftius reckons on less than ten expofitions of it, and faith, "It is a very difficult fcripture in "the judgment of almoft all interpreters;" but yet I must say, thofe difficulties are rather brought to it, than found in it. It is a text which hath been rackt and tortured by Popith expofi. tors, to make it speak Chrift's local defcent into hell, and to confefs their doctrine of purgatory; things which it knew not.

But, if we will take its genuine fenfe, it only relates the fin and mifery of those contumacious perfons, on whom the spirit of God waited fo long in the ministry of Noah; giving an account of,

1. Their fin on earth...

2. Their punishment in hell.

1. Their fin on earth, which is both specified and aggravated. (1.) Specified; namely their disobedience. They were fometimes difobedient and unperfuadable; neither precepts nor examples could bring them to repentance. (2.) This their difobedience is aggravated by the expence of God's patience upon them for the ipace of an hundred and twenty years, not only forbearing them fo long, but ftriving with them, as Mofes expreffeth it; or waiting on them, as the apoftle, here: but all to no purpose; they were obstinate, Atubborn, and unperfuadable to the very laft.

2. Behold, therefore, in the next place, the dreadful, but most juft, and equal punishment of thefe finners in hell; they are called, spirits in prifon, i. e. the fouls now in hell t.

At that time when Peter wrote of them, they were not entire men, but /pirits, in the proper fenfe, i. e. feparated fouls, bodilefs, and lonely fouls: whilft in the body, it is properly a foul; but when feparated, a fpirit according to fcripture-language, and the ftrict notion of fuch a being.

Thefe fpirits, or fouls, in the ftate of feparation, are faid to be in a prifon, that is, in hell, as the word elfewhere notes, Rev. xx. 7. and Jude, ver. 6. Heaven and hell are the only receptacles of departed, or feparated fouls.

Thus you have, in a few words, the natural, and genuine fenfe. of the place, and it is but wafting time to repeat, and refel the many falfe, and forced interpretations of this text, which corrupt minds, and mercenary pens, have perplexed, and darkened it

*Pfal. xxxi. 6. Eccl. xii. 7. A&s vii. 50.

† Locus hic omnium paene interpretum judicio dificillimus. Eftius,

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withal: That which I level at, is comprifed in this plain propofition.

Doct. That the fouls or fpirits of all men who die in a fate of unbelief and disobedience, are immediately committed to the prifon of hell, there to Juffer the wrath of Ged due to their fins.

Hell is fhadowed forth to us, in fcripture, by divers metaphors; for we cannot conceive fpiritual things, unless they are fo "cloathed and fhadowed out unto us +." Auguftine gives this reafon for the frequent ufe of metaphors and allegories, in fcrip. ture, because they are fo much proportioned to our fenfes, with which our fenfes have contracted an intimacy and familiarity; ́ ́and therefore God, to accomodate his truth to our capacities, doth as it were, this way embody it in earthly expreffions, according to that celebrated obfervation of the Cabbalifts, Lumen fupremum 'nunquam defcendit fine indumento; the pure, and fupreme light never defcends to us without a garment or covering. In the Old Teftament, the place and ffate of damned fouls, is fet forth by metaphors taken from the most remarkable places, and exem'plary acts of vengeance upon finners in this world; as the overthrow of the giants by the flood, thofe pro- Hellcalled the digious finners that fought against heaven, and were fwept by the flood, into the place of torments. To this Solomon is conceived to allude, in Prov. xxi. 16. “ The man that wanders out of the way of un. "derstanding, hall remain in the congregation of the dead;" in the Hebrew it is, he fhall remain with the Rephaims, or giants. These giants were the men that more especially provoked God to bring the flood upon the world; they are alfo noted as the first inhabitants of hell, therefore from them the place of torment takes its name, and the damned are faid to remain in the place of giants.


Sometimes hell is called Tophet, Ifa. xxx. 33. This Tophet was in the valley of Hinnon, and was famous for divers things. There the children of Ifrael caufed their children to pafs through the fire to Moloch, or facrificed to the devil, drowning their horri'rible fhrieks and ejaculations with the noife of drums.

In this valley allo was the memorable flaughter of eighteen hundred thoufand of the Affyrian camp, by an angel, in one night.

There, alfo, the Babylonians murdered the people of Jerula

+Spiritualia capere non poffumus, nifi adumbrata,

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place of giants and why.

Hell called

Tophet, and


lem, at the taking of the city, Jer. vii. 31, 32. So that Tophet was a mere fhambles, the public chopping-block, on which the limbs of both young and old were quartered out, by thousands. It was filled with dead bodies, till there was no place for burial. By all which it appears, that no spot of ground in the world was fo famous for the fires kindled in it to destroy men, for the doleful cries that ecchoed from it, or the innumerable multitudes that perished in it; for which reafon it is Hell a lake made the emblem of hell. Sometimes it is called a of fire. "lake of fire burning with brimstone," Rev. xix. 20. denoting the most exquifite torment, by an intense and dura. ble flame.


And in the text, it is called a prison, where the fpiA prifon. rits of ungodly men are both detained and punished. This notion of a prifon gives us a lively reprefentation of the miferable state of damned fouls, and that especially in the following particulars.

First, Prifoners are arrefted, and feized by authority of law; it is the law which fends them thither, and keeps them there; the mittimus of a juftice is but the inftrument of the law, whereby they are deprived of liberty, and taken into cuftody. The law of God, which finners have both violated and despifed, at death takes hold of them, and arrefts them. It is the law which claps up their fpirits in prifon, and in the name and authority of the great and terrible God, commits them to hell. All that are out of Chrift, are under the curfe and damning fentence of the law, which now comes to be executed on them, Gal. iii. 10.

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Secondly, Prifoners are carried, or haled to prison, by force and constraint; natural force backs legal authority: the law is executed by rough and refolute bailiffs, who compel them to go, though never so much against their will; this alfo is the cafe of the wicked at death: Satan is God's bailiff, to hurry away the law-condemned fouls to the infernal prifon. The devil hath the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. as the executioner hath of the body of a condemned man.


Thirdly, Prifoners are chained and bolted in prifon, to pre'vent their escape; fo are damned fpirits fecured by the power of God, and chained by their own guilty and trembling confciences, in hell, unto the time of judgment, and the fulness of mifery; not that they have no torment in the mean time: alas! were there no more but that fearful expectation of wrath and fiery indignation, fpoken of by the apostle, Heb. x. 27. it were an inexpreffible torment; but there is a farther degree of tor

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