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up as with wings to meet the Lord in the air, while they are left behind. Many shall see their former neighbours and acquaintance, their companions, their brothers, and their wives taken and they left. They shall be summoned to go and appear before the judgment seat; and go they must, however unwilling; they must stand at Christ's left hand, in the midst of devils, and wicked mei. This shall again add still further amazement, and will cause their horror still to be in a further degree than ever. With what horror will that company come together! and then shall they be called to their account; then shall be brought to light the hidden things of darkness; then shall all the wickedness of their hearts be made known; then shall be declared the actual wickedness they have been guilty of; then shall appear their secret sins that they have kept bid from the eye of the world; then shall be manifested in their true light those sins that they used to plead for, and to excuse and justify. And then shall all iheir sins be set forth in all their dreadful aggravations, all their filthiness will be brought to light to their everlasting shame and contempt. Then it shall appear how heinous many of those things were, that they in their life-time made light of; iben will it appear how dreadful their guilt is in thus ill-treating so glorious and blessed a Saviour. And all the world shall see it, and many shall rise up in judgment against them and condemn them; their companions whom they tempted to wickedness, others whom they have hardened in sin by their example, shall rise up against many of them; and the heathen that have had no advantages in comparison of them, and many of whom have yet lived better lives than they, shall rise up against them; and they shall be called to a special account; the Judge will reckon with them, they shall be speechless, they shall be struck dumb, their own consciences bearing testimony against them, and shall cry loud against them, for they shall then see how great and terrible a God he is against whom they have sinned. Then shall they stand at the left hand, while they see others whom they knew on earth sitting at the right hand of Christ in glory, shining forth as the sun, accepted of Christ, and sitting with him to judge and condemn them.
6. Then the sentence of condemnation shall be pronounced by the Judge upon them. Matth. xxv. 41. “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” This sentence will be pronounced with awful majesty ; and there shall be great indignation, and dreadful wrath shall then appear in the Judge, and in his voice, with which he shall pronounce the sentence; and what a horror and amazement will these words strike into the bearts of the wicked, on whom they shall be pronounced! Every word and syllable shall be like the most amazing thunder to them, and shall pierce their souls like the fiercest lightning. The Judge will bid them depart from him; he will drive them from his presence, as exceedingly abominable to him, and he shall give them the epithet accursed; they shall be an accursed company, and he will not only bid them depart from his presence, but into everlasting fire, to dwell there as their only fit babitation. And what shows the dreadfulness of the fire, is, that it is prepared for the devil and his angels: they shall lie for ever in the same fire in which the devils, those grand enemies of God, shall be tormented. When this sentence shall be pronounced, there shall be in the vast company at the left hand tremblings, and mourning, and crying, and gnashing of teeth, in a new manner, beyond all that ever was before. If the devils, those proud and lofty spirits, tremble many ages beforehand at the bare thoughts of this sentence, how will they tremble when it comes to be pronounced ! And how, alas! will wicked men tremble! Their anguish will be aggravated by hearing that blessed sentence pronounced on those who shall be at the right hand : “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
7. Then the sentence shall be executed. When the Judge bids them depart, they must go ; however loth, yet they must go. Immediately upon the finishing of the judgment and the pronouncing of the sentence, will come the end of the world. The frame of this world shall be dissolved. The pronouncing of that sentence will probably be followed with amazing thunders, that shall rend the heavens, and shake the earth out of its place. 2 Peter iii. 10. “ But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” Then shall the sea and the waves roar, and the rocks shall be thrown down, and the mountains shall rend asunder, and there shall be one universal wreck of this great world. Then shall the heavens be dissolved, and then the earth shall be set on fire. As God in wrath once destroyed the world by a flood of water, so now shall he cause it to be all drowned in a deluge of fire; and the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; 2 Peter iii. 10; and that great company of devils and wicked men must then enter into those everlasting burnings to which they are sentenced.
8. In this condition they shall remain throughout the neverending ages of eternity. Their punishment shall be then complete, and it shall remain in this completion for ever. Now shall all that come upon them which they so long trembled for fear of, while their souls were in a separate state. They will dwell in a fire that never shall be quenched, and here they must wear out eternity. Here they must wear out one thousand years after an other, and that without end. There is no reckoning up the millions of years or millions of ages; all arithmetic here fails, no rules of multiplication can reach the amount, for there is no end. They shall have nothing to do to pass away their eternity, but to condict with those torments; this will be their work for ever and ever; God shall have no other use or employment for them ; this is the way that they must answer the end of their being. And they never shall have any rest, nor any atonement, but their torments will hold up to their height, and shall never grow any easier by their being accustomed to them. Time will seem long to them, every moment shall seem long to them, but they shall never have done with the ages of their torment.
APPLICATION. 1. Hence what need have we to take care that our foundation for eternity be sure? They who build on a false foundation, are not secure from this misery. They who build up a refuge of lies, will find that their refuge must fail them; their wall that they have daubed with untempered mortar will fall. The more dreadful the misery is the more need have we to see that we are safe from it;
it will be dreadful indeed to be disappointed in such case. To please ourselves with dreams and vain imaginations of our being the children of God, and of going to heaven, and at last to awake in hell, to see our refuge swept away, and our hope eternally gone, and to find ourselves swallowed up in flames, and to see an endless duration of it before us; how dreadful will this be !
There will be many that will be thus disappointed. Many shall come to the door and shall find it shut, who expected to find it open; and shall knock, but Christ will tell them that he knows ihem not, and he will bid them depart, and it will be in vain for them to tell Christ what affections they have had, and how religious they were, and how well they were accounted of on earth. They shall have no other answer but, “Depart from me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity.” Let us all consider this, and gire all diligence, to see that we build sure, is by any means we may at last be found in Christ. Let us see to it that we are indeed well secured from this dreadful misery. What will it avail us to please ourselves with a notion of being converted, and being beloved of God, and what will it avail us to have the good opinion of our neighbours for a few days, if we must at last be cast into hell, and appear at the day of judgment at the left hand, and have our eternal portion with unbelievers? A false hope cannot profit us, it is a thousand times worse than none. And who are more miserable than those who think that God has pardoned their sins, and who expect to have a portion with the righteous hereafter, but are all the while going headlong down into this dreadful misery? What case can be more awful than the case of those who are thus led blindfold to the slaughter; promising themselves a happiness that is never like to come, but on the contrary are sinking into endless tribulation and anguish!
Let every one therefore, who entertains hope of his own state, see to it, that he be well built; and let him not rest in past attainment, but reach forth towards those things that are before with all his might.
II. Hence we derive an argument for the awakening of ungodly men. This indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, is the portion allotted to you if you continue in your present condition. Thou art the man spoken of; it is to thee that all this misery is assigned by the threatening of God's holy word; it is on thee that this wrath of God abides; thou art now in a state of condemnation to this misery. John iii. 19. “He that believeth not is condemned already ; because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” It is not already executed upon you, but you are already condemned to it, you are not merely exposed to condemnation, but you are under the actual sentence of condemnation. This is the portion that is already allotted to you by the law, and you are under the law and not under grace. This misery is the misery into which you are every day in danger of dropping, you are not safe from it one hour. How soon it may come upon you, you know not; you hang over it by a thread, that is continually growing more and more feeble. This dreadful misery in all its successive parts belongs to you, and is your due. Your friends and your neighbours, and all around you, if they knew what your condition was, might well lift up a loud and bitter cry over you, whenever they behold you, and say, Here is an unhappy being condemned to be given up eternally into the hands of devils to be torinented by them; here is a miserable man who is in danger every day of being swallowed up in the bottomless gulf of wo and misery. Here is a wretched undone creature condemned to lie down for ever in unquenchable fire, and to dwell in everlasting burnings; and he has no interest in a Saviour, he has nothing to defend him, he has nothing wherewith lo appease the wrath of an offended God. Here consider two things.
1. You have no reason to question whether those future miseries and torments which are threatened in God's word are realities. Do not flatter yourself with thinking that it may not be so. Say not, how do I know, that there is any such misery to be inflicted in another world; how do I know but all is a fable, and that when I come to die there will be an end of me, and that it will be with me as it is with the beasts. Do not say, how do I know, but that all those things are only bugbears of man's inventing; how do I know that the scriptures, that threaten those things, are the word of God; or if he has threatened those things, it may be it is only to frighten men to keep them to their duty, it may be he never intends to do as he threatens.
I say that there is no ground for any such suspicion, neither is there any reason for it; for that there should be no future punishment is not only contrary to scripture, but reason. It is a most unreasonable thing to suppose that there should be no future punishment, to suppose that God, who had made man a rational creature able to know his duty, and sensible that he is deserving punishment when he does it not; shonld let man alone, and let him live as be will, and never punish him for his sins, and never make any difference between the good and the bad ; that he should make the world of mankind and then let it alone, and let men live all their days in wickedness, in adultery, murder, robbery, and persecution, and the like, and suffer them to live in prosperity, and never punish them; that he should suffer them to prosper in the world far beyond many good men, and never punish them hereafter. How unreasonable is it to suppose, that he who made the world, should leave things in such confusion, and never take any care of the government of his creatures, and that he should never judge his reasonable creatures! Reason teaches that there is a God, and reason teaches that if there be, he must be a wise and jast God, and that he must take care to order things wisely and justly among his creatures; and therefore it is unreasonable to suppose that man dies like a beast, and that there is no future punishment. And if there be a future punishment, it is unreasonable to suppose that God has not somewhere or other given men warning of it, and revealed to them what kind of punishment they must expect. Will a wise law-giver keep his subjects in ignorance as to what punishment they must expect for breaking his laws? And if God has revealed it, where is it to be found but in the scripture; what revelation have we of a future state if it is not there revealed? Where does God tell mankind what kind of rewards and punishments they must expect, if not here? and it is abundantly manifest by innumerable evidences, that these threatenings are the threatenings of God, that this awful book is his revelation. And since God has threatened, there is no room to question whether he will fulfil; for he hath said it, yea, he hath sworn it, ibat he will repay the wicked to his face according to threatenings, and that he will glorify himself in their destruction, and that this beaven and earth shall pass away. How foolish then is the thought ibat God may only threaten such punishment to frighten men, and that he never intends to execute it! For as surely as God is VOL. VIII.