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SER M.vernment of a superior being, and can go no farCXI.
ther than he gives them leave. However if they do their worst, and shoot all their arrows at. us, we cannot stand at the mark long, their wrath will fcon make an end of us, and set us free from all their cruel. ty and oppression; “ they can but kill the body, and « after that they have no more that they can do ;" their most refined malice cannot reach our spirits, no weapon that can be formed by the utmost art of man can pierce and wound our souls ; they can drive us out of this world, but they cannot pursue us into the other; fo that at the worst the grave will be a fanctuary to us, and death a safe retreat from all their rage and fury.
But the wrath of God is not confined by any of these limits. “Once hath God spoken" (faith David by an elegant Hebrew phrase to express the certainty of the thing) " once hath God
spoken, and twice I have heard this, that “ power belongs to God," Pfal. Ixii. 11. " He “ hath a mighty arm," and when he pleaseth to ftretch it out, none may stay it, nor“ say unto him “ what doft thou ;" he hath power enough to make good all his threatnings; whatever he says he is able to effect, and whatever he “purposeth he can “ bring to pass ;” for “ his counsel shall stand, and “ he will accomplish all his pleasure ;" he need but speak the word, and it is done; for we can neither resist his power, nor fly from it ; if we fly to the utmost parts of the earth, his hand can reach us, for “ in his hands are all the corners of the earth ;" if we take refuge in the grave (and wecannot do that without his leave) thither his wrath can follow us ; and there it will overtake us ; for his power is not confined to this
world, world, nor limited to our bodies; after he hath SER M.
CXI. kill'd, he can “deftroy both body and soul in hell."
And this is that wrath of God which is revealed “ from heaven,” and which the apostle chiefly intends, viz. the misery and punishment of another world, this God hath threatned sinners withal ; to express which to us, as fully as words can do, he heaps up in the next chapter so many weighty and terrible words, “ indignation and wrath, tribulation " and anguish upon every soul of man that doth " evil;" in opposition to that great and glorious reward of “ immortality and eternal life,” which is promised to “ a patient continuance in well
So that “ the wrath of God” which is here denounced “ against the impiety and unrighteoufness ► of men," comprehends all the evils and iniseries of this and the other world, which every sinner is in danger of whilft he continues impenitent ; for as according to the tenor of the gospel, “ godliness “ hath the promises of this life, and of that which is
to come,” so impenitency in fin exposeth men to the evils of both worlds, to the judgments of the life that now is, and to the endless and intolerable torments of that which is to come. And what can be more dreadful than the displeasure of an almighty and eternal being? who can punish to the utmost, and “ who lives for ever,” to execute his wrath and vengeance upon sinners; so that well might the apostle say, “it is á fearful thing to fall “ into the hands of the living Gon.”
“ Consider this, all ye that forget God," that neglect him, and live in continual disobedience to his holy and righteous laws; much more those who de
SER M. spise and affront him, and live in a perpetual de
fiance of him. “Will ye provoke the LORD to “ jealousy? are ye stronger than he ?” think of it feriously, and forget him if you can, despise him if you dare ; consider this, left he take you into confideration, and rouze like a lion out of neep, and “ tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." This is the first observation, the infinite danger that a wicked and sinful course doth expose men to, " the wrath of God," which doth not only signify more than all the evils that we know, but than all those which the wildest fears and suspicions of our minds can imagine.
Secondly, the next thing observable, is the clear and undoubted revelation which the gospel has made of this danger, “ the wrath of God is re« vealed, &c.” By which the apostle intimates to us, that this was but obscurely known to the world before, at least in comparison of that clear discovery which the gospel hath now made of it; so that I may allude to that expression in Job, which he applies to death and the grave, that “hell is naked 66 before us, and destruction hath no covering.”
Not but that mankind had always apprehensions , and jealousies of the danger of a wicked life, and sinners were always afraid of the vengeance of God pursuing their evil deeds, not only in this life, but after it too; and tho' they had turn'd the punishments of another world into ridiculous fables, yet the wiser sort of mankind could not get it out of their minds, that there was something real under them ; and that Ixion's wheel, which by a perpetual motion carried him about; and Sisyphus his stone; which he was perpetually rolling up the hill, and
when he had got it near the top tumbled down, and SERM. still created him a new labour ; and Tantalus his continual hunger and chirst, aggravated by a perpetual nearness of enjoyment, and a perpetual disappointment ; and Prometheus his being chained to a rock, with an eagle or vulture perpetually preying upon his liver, which grew as fast as it was gnawed; I say even the wifer among the heathens look'd upon these as fantastical representations of something that was real, viz. the grievous and endless punishment of sinners, the not to be endured, and yet perpetually renewed torments of another world, for in the midst of all the ignorance and degeneracy of the heathen world, mens consciences did accuse them when they did amiss, and they had secret fears and mifgivings of some mighty danger hanging over them from the displeasure of a fuperior being, and the apprehension of fume great mischiefs likely to follow their wicked actions, which some time or other would overtake them ; which because they did not always in this world, they dreaded them in the next. And this was the foundation of all those superstitions, whereby the ancient pagans endeavoured so carefully to appease their offended deities, and to avert the calamities which they feared they would fend down
them. But all this while they had no certain assurance by any clear and express revelation from Gov to that purpose, but only the jealousies and suspicions of their own minds, naturally consequent upon those notions which men generally had of God, but so obscured and depraved by the lusts and vices of men, and by the gross and false conceptiòns which they had of God, that they only serv'd to make them superstitiolis, but were
SER M. not clear and strong enough to make them wisely
and seriously religious. And to speak the truth, the
But the gospel hath made a most clear and cer-
First, the clearness of the discovery ; “ the wrath 4 of God is said to be revealed.”
Secondly, the extraordinary manner of it; it is faid to be “ revealed from heaven.'
Thirdly, the certainty of it; not being the reJult of fubtle and doubtful reasonings, but having a divine testimony and confirmation given to it, which is the proper meaning of “ being revealed « from heaven.”
First, it imports the clearness of the discovery. The punishment of finners in another world is not so obscure a matter as it was before ; it is now expresly declared in the gospel, together with the particular circumstances of it, namely, that there is another life after this, wherein men shall receive the