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a Job, chap. 36. ver. 21.
1. For whom the place is provided. The text contains a catalogue of that black roll (though there are many more than are expressed) but here are the grand crimes, the ringleaders to destruction, the mother sins. And here we have in the first place the fearful: whereby is not meant those that are of a timorous nature (for fear simply is not a sin) those that are simply fearful; but such as place their fear on a wrong object, not where it should be: that fear not God, but other things more than God. Such as if affliction and iniquity were put to their choice, will rather choose iniquity than affliction: rather than they will have any cross betide them, rather than they will incur the indignation of a man, rather than they will part with their life and goods for God's cause, will adventure on any thing, choosinga iniquity rather than affliction;" being afraid of what they should not fear, never fearing the great and mighty God: this is the fearful here meant. See how Elihu in Job expresses it: "This hast thou chosen." This, that is, iniquity rather than affliction, to sin rather than to suffer. Christ biddeth us not fear poor vain man, but the omnipotent "God, that is able both to kill, and to cast into hell." The man that feareth his landlord, who is able to turn him out of his house, and doth not fear God, who is able to turn him into hell, this dastardly spirit is one of the captains of those that go to hell, those timorous and cowardly persons, that tremble at the wrath or frowns of men, more than of God. But what is the reason men should thus stand more in fear of men, than of God? Why, it is because they are sensible of what men can do unto their bodies, but they cannot with Moses by faith see what that is that is invisible. They are full of unbelief; for had they faith, they would banish all false fears. See what the Lord saith: "Feare not thou worm Jacob, I will help thee, saith the Lord." He saith not, Fear not ye men, or thou man, for then perhaps thou mightest be thought to have some power to resist, but "fear not thou worm." A worm (you know) is a poor
weak thing, apt to be crushed by every foot; yet be this thy case, be thou a worm, unable to resist the least opposition, yet fear not thou worm. Fear not, why? For "I will help thee, saith the Lord." Couldst thou but believe in God, this would make thee bold; and hadst thou faith thou wouldst not fear. When word was brought to the house of David, that two kings were come up into the land to invade it, it is said, " his heart was moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind." But what is the remedy of this fear? See Isaiah, chap. VIII. ver. 12. "Fear not their fear, nor be afraid," that was a false and a base fear," sanctify the Lord in your hearts, and let him be your dread." There is an object of our faith and comfort, and a remedy against fear proposed: "Ie, even I, am he that comforteth thee, who art thou that shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man that is as grass?" What, art thou one that hast God on thy side? how unworthy art thou of that high favour, if thou fear man? The greatest man that lives cannot shield himself from death, and from a covering of worms, and wilt thou be afraid of a man, and forget the Lord thy Maker? The more thou art taken up with the fear of man, the less thou fearest God; and the more thou rememberest man, the more thou forgettest thy Maker.
You have seen the main, the ringleaders, which are these fearful, faithless, dastardly, unbelieving men.
Now see what the filthy rabble is that followeth after, and they are abominable, murderers, &c. Abominable, that is, unnatural, such as pollute themselves with things not fit to be named, but to be abhorrred whether it be by themselves or with others. They are the abominable here meant, such as Sodom and Gomorrah, who were "set forth to such as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire;" ẞdeλvyμévoi, such are abominable, being given up to unnatural lust. Let them carry it never so secretly, yet are they here ranked amongst the rest, and shall have their portion in the burning lake.
e Ibid. chap. 21. ver. 12.
d Isaiah, chap. 7. ver. 2.
f Jude, ver. 7.
Acts, chap. 1. ver. 25.
After these come sorcerers, idolaters, liars: though these may be spoken fairly of by men, yet cannot that shelter them from the wrath of God, they shall likewise have their part in that lake, when they come to a reckoning. If there be, I say, a generation of people that worship these, say what you will of them, when they come to receive their wages, they shall receive their portion in that burning lake with hypocrites: those that make so fair a shew before men, and yet nourish hypocrisy in their hearts, these men, though, in regard of the outward man, they so behave themselves that none can say to them, black is their eye, though they cannot be charged with those notorious things before mentioned; yet if there be nothing but hypocrisy in their hearts, let it be spun with never so fair a web, never so fine a thread, yet they shall have their proportion in the lake, they shall have their part, their portion, &c. Then it seems these of this black guard have a peculiar interest unto this place. And as it is said of Judas, that he was gone "siç Tòv idioν TÓTTOV, to his proper place." So long as a man that is an enemy to Christ, and yields him not obedience, is out of hell, so long is he out of his place. Hell is the place assigned to him, and prepared for him; he hath a share there, and his part and portion he must have, till he is come thither he is but a wanderer. The Evangelist tells us", that the Scribes and Pharisees went about to gain proselytes, and when they had all done, they made them seven times more the children of hell than themselves, filios Gehenna: so that a father hath not more right in his son, than hell hath in them: he is a vessel of wrath filled top full of iniquity, and a child of the Devil's so that as we say, the gallows will claim its right, so hell will claim its due. But mistake me not, all this that I speak concerning hell, is not to terrify and affright men, but by forewarning them to keep them thence. For after I have shewn you the danger, I shall shew a way to escape it, and how the Lord Jesus was given to us
h Matt, chap. 23. ver. 15.
to deliver us from this danger: but if you will not hear, but will try conclusions with God, then you must to your proper place, to the "lake that burneth with fire and brimstone."
A lake, it is a river, a flaming river, as Tophet is described to be a lake burning with fire and brimstone, a metaphor taken from the judgment of God on Sodom and Gomorrah, as in that place of St. Jude before mentioned, as also in 2 Pet. chap. II. ver. 6. where it is said, "God turned the cities of Sodom into ashes, making them an example to all them that should after live ungodly." Mark the judgment of God upon these abominable men, the place where they dwelt is destroyed with fire, and the situation is turned into a lake, full of filthy bituminous stuff called lacus asphaltites, which was made by their burnings. And this is made an instance of the vengeance of God, and an emblem of eternal fire; therefore, said he, "you shall have your portion with Sodom." Nay, shall I speak a greater word (with Christ) and tell you, that though they were so abominable, that the lake was denominated from them, yet it shall be "easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you," if you repent not while you may, but go on to despise God's grace. But can there be a greater sin than the sin of Sodom? I answer yes. For make the worst of the sin of Sodom, it is but a sin against nature; but thy impenitency is a sin against grace, and against the Gospel, and therefore deserves a hotter hell, and an higher measure of judgment in this burning pit.
But what is this second death?
2. Sure it hath reference to some first death or other going before. A man would (as it is commonly thought) think that this second death, is opposed to that first death, which is the harbinger to the second, and separates the soul from the body, but it is far otherwise. That, alas, is but a petty thing, and deserves not to be put in the number of deaths. The second death in the text hath relation to the first resurrection: "Blessedh
h Rev. chap. 20. ver. 6.
and holy is he that hath his portion in the first resurrection, on such the second death shall have no power." The first death is that from whence we are acquitted by the first resurrection, and that is the death; for that is a kind of death (as St. Paul speaking of a wicked and voluptuous widow, saith, she is dead while she liveth) and "the time shall come and now is, when they that are dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live;" and again: "Let the dead bury their dead." So that the first resurrection is, when a man, hearing the voice of the minister, is roused up from the sleep of sin and carnal security, and the first death is the opposite thereunto: so that the death of the body is no death at all, for if it were, then this were the third death: for there would be a death of sin, a death of the body, and a death of body and soul: this death of the body is but a flea-biting in comparison of the other two. This second death is the separation of the body and soul from God, and this death is the wages of sin, and God must not, will not lie in arrear to sin, but will pay its wages to the full. All the afflictions a wicked man meeteth withal here, are but as God's press-money, and part of payment of that greater sum: but when he dies, the whole sum comes to be paid: before he did but sip of the cup of God's wrath, but he must then drink up the dregs of it down to the bottom, and this is the second death, it is called death. Now death is a destruction of the parts compounded, a man being compounded of body and soul, both are by this death eternally destroyed. That death (like Sampson pulling down the pillars whereby it was sustained, pulled down the house) draws down the tabernacles of our bodies, pulls body and soul in sunder. A thing which had little hurt in itself, were it not for the sting of it which makes it fearful to die is esteemed far worse than to be dead, in regard of the pangs that are in dying, to which death puts an end. This temporal death is in an instant, but this other eternal, whereby we are ever dying, and never dead, for by it we are punished with an everlasting ảñoλɛía,