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they can no more deny it, John viii. 9; and of the justice of God in proceeding against them, Psal. 1. 6.
4. Just punishment brought on them for their evil works, 1 Thess. v. 3. While God delays, men dream with Agag, that the bitterness of death is past: but they will find themselves deceived, as he when Samuel took the sword and hewed him in pieces before the Lord. They cannot escape the due demerit of their sin at length; but as the needle draws the thread after it, sin will draw wrath. Judge ment is sin's shadow.
5. The correspondence there will be between their sin and punishment. God will write every ungodly sinner's sin in his punishment. Oft-times it is so here with them, as in the case of Adonibezek, Judg. i. 7; but always so hereafter, as in the case of the rich man, Luke xvi. 19, with 24. Hence the worm is said never to die ; signifying the eternal remorse they shall bave for their evil works. And the degrees of punishment will be suited to the degrees of their sin. They that have committed many sins, shall have many stripes.
6. Its inevitableness, when once patience is come to an end : Luke xiii. 24, 25, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate : for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you
not whence you are.” The door of mercy may stand open long, but it will be shut at length. And then there is no more esz.caping. For,
1st, Omniscience will find out the flier, and discoverye, his most secret crimes, and overthrow all his defences : Heb. iv. 1 atj, “ Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: bu0et all things are naked, and opened unto the eyes of him with whom & do." Psal. cxxxix. 7,“ Whither shall I go from thy : Spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy presence ?" There is no blending of the eye of an omniscient judge.
2dly, Divine power will bring him under, and cause him te stand and receive the just reward of his deeds : Job ix. 4, “ He is wiselin heart, and mighty in strength : who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered? There will be no resisting of omnipotence : the stoutest sinner will be poured out like water before an
We have to
3dly, The divine severity will proceed over the belly of all entreaties, made out of time: Luke xiii. 24, 25. forecited. They that slight mercy while God's time for it lasts, will get no mercy when God's time is out, and theirs is come.
7. Lastly, Its eternity. The execution once on, will never be off; once begun, will never end: Mark ix. 44. In hell the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. While God is, he will pursue the quarrel. The ungodly sin on as long as they are in the world, and live on as long as they will, they will not alter their course : and God will pursue them for ever, when once he has broke off.
II. That the execution against them will be sure, appears,
1. From the inviolable regard God has to the honour of his holy law, Is. xlii. 21. Sinners trample on it, slight its commands, and despise its threatenings; but God highly regards it, as that wherein he has eminently expressed the holiness of his nature. If sinners then honour it not in the way of duty, it will be honoured upon them in a way of judgment. God's regard to his law may be seen clearly,
1st, In the works of providence. As soon as sin entered into the world, and the law was broken, the face of providence on the world was quite changed. And it has blown continually since in the face of the creation less or more, Rom. viii. 22. Oft-times it has risen to violent storms, to avenge the quarrel of the dishonour of the holy Jaw by sinners. Remember how, in that quarrel, Adam was driven out of Paradise, the world drowned by the flood, Sodom burnt, Jerusalem destroyed, with the many awful strokes brought on impenitent sinners in latter times.
2dly, In the work of redemption. God chose some from eternity unto salvation : but being breakers of the law, they behoved to be redeemed, and the price paid to the full reparation of the honour of the law. Christ the Son of God was their Redeemer; but that the law's honour might be seen to, he met with no sparing : Rom. viii. 32,“ He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” So God wrote his regard to the law in the salvation of his elect, and blood of his Son.
2. The truth and veracity of God insures the execution. He has said, he will do it : Gen. ii. 17,“ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” His Son has intimated to us from heaven, that impenitent sinners shall not escape : Luke xiii. 3, “ I tell you, Nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Every leaf of the scripture almost, has something to this purpose : "and hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” Num. xxiii. 19. God's truth must either fail, or ungodly sinners be reckoned with at length.
3. The justice of God requires it: Gen. xviii. 25,“ Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Men may be unjust judges, but God cannot. He will give every transgression a just recompense of
And if any
reward : for it is in his power to do it, and his nature requires it. He hates sin, and cannot but hate it; and therefore though he delay for a time, he will punish.
4. The constant conduct of providence hitherto confirms it. There have been multitudes of ungodly in the world ; but may we not put the question, Job ix. 4, “ Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered ?” Some have indeed been long spared, but did they not at length either bow or break before him? What came of the giants in the old world, of Pharaoh, of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? These things happened for warnings to us. have escaped during life, is there not sufficient evidence of execution on them in another world ? as is evident from the case of the rich man, Luke xvi.
5. Lastly, The peremptory appointment of the day of general judgment, puts it out of question : Acts xvii. 30, 31, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at ; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." The Judge is named for that effect already, the commission to him for that end has passed the seals in his resurrection; it is to be general, all must be judged by him; yea the sentence against the ungodly is conceived already, “ Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
For Use I shall drop a word to,
1st, Let not your impunity for the present, make you secure for the time to come ; as is the case of the wicked man, Psal. x. 6, “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved : for I shall never be in adversity.” As sure as ye think your mountain now stands, it may suddenly be overturned; yea it shall assuredly, if ye repent not. God is giving you space to repent : do not trifle and dream it away, lest ye repent when it is too late.
2dly, Let not your observation of the prosperity of other sinners, encourage and harden you in your sinful course : as it did those, Mal. iii. 15, “ And now we call the proud happy: yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” Ye have seen much of their sinful course, and of God's patience. But
ye have not seen the end of it yet : Is. xvii. 11, “In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish : but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief, and of desperate sorrow.” Many a day has begun fair, and held on long so, that has had a foul evening. And whatever ye have observed of them, their prosperity in their ill course shall be their end in bitter repentance, or in their destruction, or else the word of truth fails.
3dly, Take the alarm in time, and flee from the wrath to come : Is. lv. 6, 7, “ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Know ye cannot prosper to the end, in your loose and licentious ways. Ye must come to Christ by faith, and leave the world lying in wickedness ; must break off your sins by repentance; or else ye will perish. If ye do it not, ye will mind that ye have been fairly warned, and lament for ever your slighting it.
2. To the godly I would say,
1st, Beware of entertaining any idol of jealousy in your heart, wherewith the Lord may be provoked against you. He is impartial in bis judgments, and even his own shall not escape : Is. xlii. 24, “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers ? did not the Lord, he, against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his laws.” Though being in Christ ye have shut the gulf as to condemnation, ye may be severely chastised; and ye may get broken bones for your transgressions, though ye cannot lose your souls.
2dly, Be not discouraged in the Lord's way, because in it ye meet with many sore trials, while others that are far from it go at ease. The work-ox goes with the yoke on his neck, while the slaughterox is full fed. But the former is preserved, while the latter is slain and he wed in pieces.
3 Lastly, To all I would say,
1st, Know that God is a holy jealous God. The way of sin is dangerous, and there will be no peace in the end of it.
2dly, Let us prepare to meet our God in the way of his judgments. God's proceedings against the land are slow, but they are like to be sure and sore. He has mide the earth to quake beneath us, shown his anger from the face of the heavens above us.
THE SIN, FOLLY, AND DANGER OF MEN'S CALLING CHRIST THEIR
LORD, AND NOT YIELDING OBEDIENCE TO HIS LAWS; OR THE SINFULNESS AND HAZARD OF A PROFESSION OF RELIGION, WITHOUT A CORRESPONDENT PRACTICE.
Several sermons preached, at Ettrick, in summer, 1728.
LUKE vi. 46.
And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
THERE was, together with the disciples, a great multitude gathered to hear Christ, and to be healed by him, ver. 17. Many of them pretended a great regard for him ; but it went no farther than good words. Our Lord tells them, that such is every man, good or bad, according as his life is, vers. 44, 45, “For every tree is known by his own fruit: for of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble-bush gather they grapes. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good ; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil : for of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaketh.” And he closely applies this to their conscience in the text. Wherein we have,
1. A concession. He grants they made a fair profession; they called him Lord, their Lord. They owned his authority and Lordship over them, as if they were his subjects and servants ready to receive and obey his commands. They addressed themselves to him for his help, one and another crying, Lord, help me, pleading to receive benefit by him as their Lord. And this they did at times with much seeming zeal and concern, Lord, Lord.
2. A charge. He charges them with nothing like this in their practice. Though they called him their Lord, they carried not themselves at all as his subjects and servants. Though they would have him to do for them, they would do nothing for him. In his preaching and life, he laid their duty before them: but though they owned him for their Lord, they shewed no regard in their practice to what he said, no conformity to his doctrine and example.
3. An expostulation. He puts them to consider the inconsistency of these things, and the unaccountableness of yoking together a profession and a practice that destroyed one another. A lord and a subject or servant are relatives; to the one it belongs to command, to the other to obey, Mal. i. 6. Why will ye plead the relation, and