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No fooner is the foul of a wicked man stepped out of his own door at death, but the ferjeants of hell are immediately upon it, ferving the dreadful fummons on the law-condemned wretch. This arreft terrifies it more than the hand-writing upon the plaister of the wall did him, Dan. v. 5. How are all a man's apprehenfions changed in a moment! Out of what a deep sleep are most, and out of what a pleasant dream of heaven are fome awaked and startled at death, by the dreadful arreft and fummons of God to condemnation.
How quickly would all a finner's mirth be damped, and turned into howlings in this world, if confcience were but throughly awakened! It is but for God to change our apprehenfions now, and it would be done in a moment: but the eyes of moft mens fouls are not opened till death hath shut their bodily eyes; and then how fudden, and how fad a change is made in one day!
O think what it is to pass from all the pleasures and delights of this world into the torments and miseries of that world; from a pleasant habitation, into an infernal prifon; from the depth of fecurity, to the extremity of defperation; from the arms and bofoms of dearest friends and relations, to the fociety of damned fpirits! Lord, what a change is here; had a gracious change been made upon their hearts by grace, no fuch doleful change could have been made upon their state by death: little do their surviving friends think what they feel, or what is their estate in the other world, whilft they are honouring their bodies with fplendid and pompous funerals. None on earth have fo much reason to fear death, to make much of life, and ufe all means to continue it, as those who will, and muft, be so great Jofers by the exchange.
Infer. 13. See here the certainty, and inevitableness of the Fudgment of the great day.
This priton, which is continually filling with the fpirits of wicked men, is an undeniable evidence of it: for why is hell called a prifon, and why are the fpirits of men confined and chained there, but with refpect to the judgment of the great day? As there is a neceffary connection betwixt fin and punishment, fo betwixt punishing and trying the offender; there are millions of fouls in cuftody, a world of spirits in prifon; these must be brought forth to their trial, for God will lay upon no man more than is right; the legality of their mittimus to hell, will be evidenced in their folemu day of trial. God hath therefore "appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteous !! pels, by that man whom he hath ordained," Acts xvii. 31.
Here finners run in arrears, and contract vaft debts; in hell they are feized and committed, at judgment tried and catt for the fame. This will be a dreadful day, those that have spent fo prodigally upon the patience of God, muft now come to a fevere account for all; they have paft their particular judgment immediately after death, Eccl. xii. 7. Heb. ix. 27. By this they know how they shall speed in the general judgment, and how it fhall be with them for ever, but tho' this private judgment fecures their damnation fufficiently, yet it clears not the justice of God before angels and men fufficiently, and therefore they must appear once more before his bar, 2 Cor. v. 1c. In the fearful expectation of this day, thofe trembling fpirits now lie in prison, and that fearful expectation is a principal part of their prefent mifery and torment. You that refufe to come to the throne of grace, fee if you can refuse to make your appearance at the bar of juftice; you that braved and brow-beat your ministers that warned you of it, fee if you can out-brave your judge too as you did them. Nothing more fure or awful than fuch a day as this.
Infer. 14. How much are minifters, parents, and all to whom the charge of fouls is committed, bound to do all that in them lies, to prevent their everlafting mifery in the world to
The great apoftle of the Gentiles found the confideration of the terror of the Lord, as a fpur urging, and enforcing him to a minifterial faithfulness and diligence; 2 Cor. v. 11. "Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, we perfuade men." And the fame he preffeth upon Timothy, 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. "I charge "thee, therefore, before God and the Lord Jefus Chrift, who "fhall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing, and his kingdom; preach the word; be inftant in feafon and out of "feafon; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-fuffering and "doctrine." Oh that those to whom fo great a truft as the fouls of men is committed, would labour to acquit themfelves with all faithfulness therein, as Paul did, warning every one night and day with tears, that if we cannot prevent their ruin, which is most defirable; yet at least we may be able to take God to witness, as he did, that we are pure from the blood of
Oh! confider, my brethren, if your faithful plainnefs, and unwearied diligence to fave men's fouls produce no other fruit but the hatred of you now; yet it is much easier for you to bear that, than that they and you too fhould bear the wrath of God for ever.
We have all of us perfonal guilt enough upon us, let us not add other men's guilt to our account: to be guilty of the blood of the meanest man upon earth, is a fin which will cry in your confciences; but to be guilty of the blood of fouls, Lord, who can bear it! Chrift thought them worth his heart blood, and are they not worth the expence of our breath? Did he fweat blood to fave them, and will not we move our lips to fave them? It is certainly a fore judgment to the fouls of men, when such minifters are fet over them as never understood the value of their peoples fouls, or were never heartily concerned about the falvation of their own fouls.
MATTH. XVI. 26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lofe his own foul? or what fball a man give in exchange for his foul?
IFFICU ICULT duties need to be enforced with powerful ar guments. In the 24th verfe of this chapter, our Lord preffeth upon his difciples the deepest and hardeft duties of felfdenial, acquaints them upon what terms they must be admitted into his fervice: "If any man will come after me, let him "deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
This hard and difficult duty he enforceth upon them by a deuble argument, viz. From,
1. The vanity of all finful shifts from it, ver. 25.
2. The value of their fouls, which is imported in it, ver. 26. They may shift off their duty to the lofs of their fouls, or fave their fouls by the lofs of fuch trifles. If they efteem their fouls above the world, and can be content to put all other things to the hazard for their falvation, making account to fave nothing but them by Christianity; then they come up to Christ's terms, and may warrantably and boldly call him their Lord and Mafter; and to fweeten this choice to them, he doth, in my text, balance the foul and all the world, weighing them one against the other, and fhews them the infinite odds and disproportion betwixt them: "What is a man profited, if he shall gain "the whole world, and lose his own foul? or what shall a man "give in exchange for his foul?"
What is a man profited?] There is a plain meiofis in the phrase; and the meaning is, how inestimably and irreparably is a man damnified! what a foul ruining bargain would a man make!
If he fhould gain the whole world.] There is a plain hyperbole in this phrase; for it never was, nor ever will be the lot of any man to be the fole owner and poffeffor of the whole world*. But fuppofe all the power, pleasure, wealth, and honour of the whole world were bid and offered in exchange for a man's foul; what a dear purchase would it be at fuch a rate! "What were this, fays one +, but to win Venice, and then be
hanged at the gate of it?” As that man acts like a mad man, that goes about to purchase a treasure of gold with the loss of his life; for life being loft, what is all the gold in the world to him? he can have no enjoyment of it, or comfort in it fo here, what is all the world, or as many worlds as there are creatures in it, when the foul is loft, if he gain this?
And lofe his own foul.] The comparifon lies here betwixt one fingle foul and the whole world. The whole world is no price for the poorest, meaneft, and most despised foul that lives in it.
By lofing the foul, we are not to understand the destruction of its being, but of its happiness and comfort, the cutting it off from God, and all the hopes of his favour and enjoyment for ever. This is the lofs here intended, a lofs never to be repair ed. The whole world can be no recompence for the loss to the foul, if it be but the lofs of its purity or peace for a time; much less can it recompence the lofs of the foul, in the lofs of all its happiness for ever. When a man's chief happiness is finally loft, then is his foul loft: for what benefit can it be, nay, how great a mifery muft it be, to have a being perpetuated in torments for ever? This is the fine or mulet which is set upon fin, as fome render the word. What shall a man gain by fuch pleasures, for which God will mulet, or fine him at the rate or price of his own foul? That is, of all the happiness, joy, and comfort of it to all eternity.
Or what fhall a man give in exchange for his ful? The question aggravates the fenfe, and amplifies the fols and damage of the man that fells his foul for the whole world. There is no recompenfe in all the world for the hazard or danger of the
By this hypothetical hyperbole is denoted the great atrocioufnefs of lofing eternal falvation. Glaffius.
+ Non magis juvabitur. quam qui acquirit Venetias, ipfe vero Jufpendatur ad portam. Paræus in loc.
Anima vero fua multetur, i. e. If one is punished with the lofs of his own foul. Bez, Maldon.
foul one hour; nor would a man that understands what a foul and eternity are, put it into danger for ten thousand worlds, much less for one penny, yea, for nothing, as many do: but to harter or exchange it for the world, to take any thing in lieu of it; this is the height of madness. "The way of buying ❝ in former times was not by money, but by the exchange of one "commodity for another;" and to this cuftom* Brugenfis thinks this phrafe is allufivé. Now what commodity is found in all the world; or who that is not blinded by the gad of this world, can think that the whole world itfelf, if all the rocks in it were rocks of diamonds, and the feas and rivers were liquid gold, is a commodity of equivalent worth to his own foul? Hence two notes arise naturally,
Doct. 1. That one foul is of more value than the whole world, Doct, 2. How precious and invaluable foever the foul of man is, it may be loft and caft away for ever.
I begin with the first,
Doct. 1. That one foul is of more value than the whole world. I need not spend much time in the proof of it, when you have confidered, that he who bought them, hath here weighed and valued thems and that the point before us is the refult and conclufion of one that hath the best reafon to know the true worth of them.That which I have to do is to gather out of the fcrip. tures the particulars; which, put together, make up the full demonftration of the point. And,
1. The invaluable worth of fouls appears from the manner of their creation. They were created immediately by God, as hath been proved, and that not without the deliberation of the whole Trinity; Gen. i. 26. “Let us make man." For the production of other creatures, it was enough to give out the word of his command. "Let there be light, let the earth and the waters "bring forth;" but when he comes to man, then you have no FIAT, let there be, but he puts his own hand immediately to it, as to the master-piece of the whole creation: yea, a council is called about it; Let us, implying the just consultation and delibetation of all the perfons in the Godhead about it, that our hearts might be railed to the expectation of fome extraordinary work to follow; great counfels and wife debates being both the forerunners and foundations of great actions and events to enfue
Аæækλaya pacat id quo dato, redimitur aliquid; juxta prifcorum commerica, quae non moneta, fed rexum permutatione conftabant. Brugenf.