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f Deut. chap. 29. ver. 19.
h Ezek. chap. 33. ver. 11.
the temptation of Eve, a questioning, whether God's threats are true or not. That which was the deceit of our first parents is ours. Satan disputes not whether sin be lawful or not: whether eating the fruit were unlawful: whether drunkenness, &c. be lawful; he will not deny but it is unlawful. But when God saith, "If thou dost eat, &c. thou shalt die :" he denies it, and saith "ye shall not die." He would hide our eyes from the punishment of sin. Thus we lost ourselves at the first, and the floods of sin came on in this manner: when we believed not God, when he said, "If thou dost eat thou shalt surely die:" and shall we renew that capital sin of our parents, and think, if we do sin, we shall not die? If any thing in the world will move God to shew us no mercy, it is this, when we slight his judgments, or not believe them. This adds to the height of all our sins, that when God saith, If thou dost live in sin thou shalt die, and yet we will not believe him: that when he shall come and threaten us, as he doth when he shall curse, and we shall bless ourselves in our hearts, and say, we shall have peace though we go on," &c. "The Lord will not spare that man, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against him." It is no small sin, when we will not believe God: this is as being thirsty before, we now add "drunkenness to our thirst:" that is, when God shall thus pronounce curses, he shall yet bless himself, and say, I hope I shall do well enough for all that. There are two words to that bargain. Then see what follows: "The anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man." We are but now entered into the point; but it would make your hearts ache and throb within you, if you should hear the particulars of it. All that I have done is to persuade you to make a right choice, to take heed of Satan's delusions: "Why will ye die?" "Therefore cast away your sins, and make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will you die?" Where
Ibid. ver. 20.
i Ibid. chap. 18. ver. 31.
the golden candlestick stands, there Christ walks, there he saith, "I am with you.' Where the word and sacraments are, there Christ is, and when the word shakes thy heart, take that time, now choose life. "Why will you die?" Consider of the matter: "Mosesk put before the people life and death, blessing and cursing:" we put life and death before you in a better manner: "he' was a minister of the letter, we of the spirit. Now choose life." But if you will not hearken, but will needs try conclusions with God, therefore, "because you will choose your own conclusions, and will not hearken unto God, because you will needs try conclusions with him, will not obey him when he calls, therefore he will turn his deaf ear unto you, and when you call and cry, he will not answer." press this the more, to move you to make a right choice.
But now to turn to the other side, as there is nothing but death for the wages of sin, and as I have shewed you where death is, so give me leave to direct you to the fountain of life. There is life in our blessed Saviour; if we have but an hand of faith to touch him, we shall draw virtue from him to raise us up from the death of sin to the life of righteousness. He that "hath" the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son hath not life." You have heard of a death that comes by the first Adam and sin, and to that stock of original sin we had from him, we have added a great heap of our own actual sins, and so have "treasured up unto ourselves wrath against the day of wrath." Now here is a great treasure of happiness on the other side in Christ; "have the Son, and have life." The question is now, whether you will choose Christ, and life, or sin, and death? Consider now, the minister stands in God's stead, and beseeches you in his name, he speaks not of himself, but from Christ. When he draws near to thee, with Christ's broken body, and his blood shed, and thou receivest Christ, then, as thy na
k Deut. chap. 30. ver. 15. 19.
m Prov. chap. 1. ver. 28.
• Rom. chap. 2. ver. 5.
1 2 Cor. chap. 3. ver. 6.
1 John, chap. 5. ver. 12.
tural life and strength is preserved and increased by these elements, so hast thou also spiritual life by Christ. If a man be kept from nourishment a while, we know what death he must die. If we receive not Christ, we cannot have life, we know that there is life to be had from Christ, and he that shall by a true and lively faith receive Christ, shall have life by him. There is as it were a pair of indentures drawn up between God and a man's soul: there is blood shed, and by it pardon of sin, and life conveyed unto thee on Christ's part. Now if there be faith and repentance on thy part, and thou accept of Christ, as he is offered, then thou mayest say, I" have the Son," and as certainly as I have the bread in my hand, I " shall have life by him." This I speak but by the way, that the sun might not set in a cloud, that I might not end only in death, but that I might shew that there is a way to recover out of that death, into which we have all naturally precipitated ourselves by our apostacy from God.
a Rom. chap. 5. ver. 12. Heb. chap. 2. ver. 15.
THE last day, I entered on the declaration of the cursed effects and consequents of sin, and in general shewed that it is the wrath of God; that where sin is, there wrath must follow. As the apostle in the epistle to the Galatians: "As many as are under the works of the law are under the curse. Now all that may be expected from a God highly offended, is comprehended in Scripture by this term, death. Wheresoever sin enters, death must follow: "Death passed over all men, forasmuch as all had sinned:" if we are children of sin, we must be "children" of wrath." We are then "children of wrath even as others." Now concerning death in general, I shewed you the last time, that the state of an unconverted man is a dead and desperate estate: he is a slave, it would affright him, if he did but know his own slavery, and what it is that hangs over his head; that there is but a span betwixt him and death, he could never breathe any free air, he could never be at any rest, he could never be free from fear. The apostle saith, that "Christ came to deliver them that through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage." This bondage is a deadly bondage, that when we have done all that we can do, what is the payment of the service? death. And the fear of this deadly bondage, if we were once sensible, if God did
b Eph. chap. 1. ver. 3.
ROM. CHAP. VI. VER. 23.
open our eyes, and shew us, as he did Belshazzar, our doom written, did we but see it, it would make "our joints loose, and our knees knock one against another." Every day thou livest, thou approachest nearer to this death, to the accomplishment and consummation of it: death without and death within; death in this world and in the world to come.
Not only death thus in gross and in general, but in particular also.
Now to unfold the particulars of death, and to shew you the ingredients of this bitter cup, that we may be weary of our estates, that we may be drawn out of this death, and be made to fly "to the Son, that we may be free indeed;" observe, that death is not here to be understood of a separation of the soul from the body only, but a greater death than that, the death of the soul and body. We have mention made of a first resurrection : "Blessed and happy is he that hath his part in the first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power." What is the first resurrection? It is a rising from sin: and what is the second death? it is everlasting damnation. The first death is a death in sin, and the first resurrection is a rising from sin.
d Rev. chap. 20. ver. 6.
And so again for all things, the judgments or troubles that appertain to this death, all a man suffers before. It is not, as fools think, the last blow that fells the tree, but every blow helps forward. It is not the last blow that kills the man, but every blow that goes before makes way unto it. Every trouble of mind, every anguish, every sickness; all these are so many strokes that shorten our life, and hasten our end, and are as it were so many deaths therefore, however it is said by the apostle, "it is appointed for all men once to die," yet we see the apostle to the Corinthians, of the great conflicts that he had, saith," thate he was in labours abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequent, in deaths oft." "In deaths often;" what is that? That is, however he could
e 2 Cor. chap. 11. ver. 23.