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imagination to bring it to a reality. These unnatural burnings threaten new fires of public judgments to be kindled amongst us. 3. That general despising of the gospel, and abounding of profaneness throughout the land, not yet purged, but as our great sin remaining in us, calls for more fire and more boiling. 4. The general coldness and deadness of spirit, want of that zeal for God, that communion of saints, that mutual stirring up one another to holiness, and which is the source of all, the ceasing of prayer, that frozen benummedness in that so necessary work, in that preventer of judgments, that binder of the hands of God from punishments, and opener of them unto us, for the pouring forth of mercies. Oh! this is a sad con dition in itself, though it portended no further judgment, the Lord hiding himself, and the spirit of zeal and prayer withdrawn, and scarce any lamenting it, or so much as perceiving it.
Where are our days either of solemn prayer or praises, as if there were cause of neither, and yet there is a clear cause of both. Truly, my brethren, we have need, if ever, to bestir ourselves; are not these kingdoms at this present brought to the extreme point of their highest hazard : and yet, who lays it to heart?
Inf. 2. Learn to put a right construction on all God's dealings with his church, and with thy soul. For his church, there may be a time wherein thou shalt see it not only tossed, but to thy thinking, covered and swallowed up with tears; but wait a little, it shall arrive safe. This is a common stumbling stone, but walk by the light of the word, and the eye of faith, looking on it, and thou shalt pass by and not stumble at it. The church mourns, and Babylon sings, sits as a queen", but for how long? She shall come down and sit in the dusto; and Sion shall be glorious, and put on her beautiful garments", while Babylon shall not look for another Revelation", to raise her again ; no, she shall never n Rev. xviii. 7. olsa, xlvi. 1.
P Isa. lii. 1. 9 Perhaps the original reading might be recolution ; but as Reve
rise. The angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus, with violence, shall the great city Babylon, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all?.
Be not sudden, take God's work together, and do not judge of it by parcels. It is indeed all wisdom and righteousness; but we shall best discern the beauty of it when we look on it in the frame, and when it shall be fully completed and finished, and our eyes enlightened to take a fuller and cłearer view of it than we can have here. Oh! what wonder! what endless wondering will it then command!
We read of Joseph hated, and sold, and imprisoned, and all most unjustly; but because within a leaf or two, we find him freed and exalted, and his brethren coming supplicants to him, we are satisfied. But when we look on things which are for the present cloudy and dark, our impatient hasty spirits cannot learn to wait a little till we see the other side, and what end the Lord makes. We see judgment beginning at the house of God, and this perplexes us, while we consider not the rest, What shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel ? God begins the judgment on his church for a little time, that it may end and rest upon his enemies for
And indeeed he leaves the wicked last in the punishment; and defers it that he may make use of them for the punishment of his church. They are his rod'. But, when he hath done that work with them, they are broken and burnt, and that when they are at the height of their insolence and boasting; not knowing what hand moves them, and smites his people with them for a while, till the day of their consuming come".
Let the vile enemy that hath shed our blood, and insulted over us, rejoice in their present sparing, and in mens procuring
lation or Apocalypse will give some, though a less perspicuous sense, the Editor would not take the liberty to change it. * Rev. xviii. 20, 21.
Isa. x. 1.
t Ver. 16. u Ver. 24, 25.
of it, and pleading for it*. There is another hand whence we may look for justice; and though it may be the judgment begun at us is not yet ended, and that we may yet further (and that justly) find them our scourge, yet, certainly, we may and ought to look beyond that unto the end of the Lord's work; which shall be the ruin of his enemies, and the peace of his people, and the glory of his name.
But we now come to consider God dealing with the wicked, T'he end of them that obey not the gospel. The end of all the ungodly is terrible; but especially of such as heard the gospel, and have not received and obeyed it.
The word átelértwy hath in it both unbelief and disobedience, and these are inseparable. Unbelief is the grand point of disobedience in itself, and the spring of all other disobedience: and pity it is that men will not believe it to be thus.
They think it an easy and a common thing to believe. Who doth not believe ? Oh! but rather, who does? Who hath believed our report'? Were our own misery, and the happiness that is in Christ, believed, were the riches of Christ, and the love of Christ, believed, would not this persuade men to forsake their sins and the world, to embrace him ?
But men run away with an extraordinary fancy of believing, and do not deeply consider what news the gospel brings, and how much it concerns them. Sometimes, it may be, they have a sudden thought of it, and they think, I will think on it better at some other time. But when conies that time? One business steps in after another, and shuffles it out. Men are not at leisure to be saved.
* I am ready to believe this refers to the escape of many who had deserved the severest punishments, for their part in the grand Irish rebellion, but were screened by the favour of some great men, in the reign of King Charles II.
y Isa. liii. 1.
Observe the phrase, The gospel of God. It is his embassy of peace to men, the riches of his mercy and free love opened and set forth; not simply to be looked on, but laid hold on. The glorious holy God declaring his mind of agreement with man in his own Son; his blood streaming forth in it to wash away uncleanness, and yet this gospel is not obeyed. Sure the conditions of it must be very hard, and the commands must be intolerably grievous, that they are not hearkened to. Why, judge you if they be. The great command is that, to receive that salvation; and the other is this, to love that Saviour; and there is no more. Perfect obedience is not now the thing. And the obedience which is required, that love makes sweet and easy to us, and acceptable to him. This is proclaimed to all that hear the gospel, and the greatest part refuse it; they love themselves, and their lusts, and this present world, and will not change, and so they perish.
They perish, What is that? What is their end? I will answer that but as the Apostle doth, and that is even asking the question over again, What shall be their end?
There is no speaking of it; a curtain is drawn; silent wonder expresses it best, telling it cannot be expressed. How then shall it be endured ? It is true, that there be resemblances used in Scripture, giving us some glance of it; we hear of a burning lake, a fire that is not quenched, and a worm that dies not?; but these are but shadows to the real misery of them that obey not the gospel. Oh! to be filled with the wrath of God, the ever living God, for ever! What words or thoughts can reach it! Oh! eternity, eternity; Oh! that we did believe it.
This same parallel of the Lord's dealing with the righteous and the wicked, is continued in the following verse in other terms, for the clearer expression, and deeper impression of it.
z Isa. lxvi. 24. Mark ix. 44. Rev. xxi. 8,
Ver. 18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall
the ungodly and the sinner appear ?
It is true, then, that they are scarce saved, even they that endeavour to walk uprightly in the ways of God, that is, the righteous; they are scarcely saved. That imports not any uncertainty or hazard in the thing itself to the end, in respect of the purpose, and performance of God, but only the great difficulties, and hard encounters in the way; that they go through so many temptations and tribulations, so many fightings without, and
fears within; the Christian being so simple and weak, and his enemies so crafty and powerful; and the oppositions of the wicked world being so many and great, their hatreds, and scorns, and molestations, the slights and violence of Satan, and, the worst of all, the strength of their own corruptions. Alas there is, by reason of abounding corruption, such frequent, almost continual, need of purging by afflictions and trials; to be still under physic; to be of necessity at some times drained and brought so low, that there is scarce strength or life remaining in them
And, truly, all outward difficulties would be but matter of ease, would be as nothing, were it not the incumberance of lusts and corruptions within. Were a man to meet disgraces and sufferings for Christ, how easily would he go through them, yea, and rejoice in them, were he rid of the fretting impatience, the pride, and self-love, of his own carnal heart. These clog and trouble him worst, and he cannot shake them off, nor prevail against them without much pains, many prayers and tears; and many times after much wiestling, he scarce finds that he hath gained any ground : Yea, sometimes he is foiled and cast down by them.
And so in all other duties, such a fighting and continual combat with a revolting backsliding heart, the flesh pulling, and dragging downwards; when he would mount up, he finds himself as a bird with Vol. II.