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they undertook and performed. Oh, the labour and suffering it costs poor sinners to be damned! Sobriety they might have had at a cheaper rate, with health and ease, yet they will rather have gluttony and drunkenness, with poverty and shame, and sickness. Contentment they might have had with ease and delight, yet will they rather have covetousness and ambition, though it cost them study, and care, and fears, and labour of body and mind, and a continual unquietness and distraction of spirit, and often a shameful overthrow at the last. Though anger torments, and revenge and envy consume their spirits; though uncleanness destroys their bodies and estates, and reputation, yet will they do and suffer all this, rather than suffer their souls to be saved. Oh, how will the review of this feed the flames of hell!
Thus have I shown you some of those thoughts which will aggravate the misery of sinners through the ages of eternity. Oh! that God would persuade thee who readest these words, to take up these thoughts now seasonably and soberly for the prevention of that inconceivable calamity, that so thou mayest not be forced, in despite of thyself, to take them up in hell as thy own tormentors.
They shall lose all things that are comfortable on Earth, as well as Heaven.
HAVING Shown you these considerations which will aggravate their misery, I shall next show you some additional losses which will still further augment it; for as godliness has the promise both of this life, and of that which is to come; and as God has said, that if we seek first his kingdom, and righteousness, all other things shall be added to them; so also are the ungodly threatened, with the loss both of spiritual and of temporal blessings; and because they sought not first Christ's kingdom and righteousness they shall lose both them and that which they did seek. If they
could but have kept their present enjoyments, they would not have cared much for the loss of heaven. But catching at the shadow, and losing the substance, they now find that they have lost both; and that when they rejected Christ, they rejected all things. If they had lost and forsaken all for Christ, they would have found all again in him, for he would have been all in all to them. But now that they have forsaken Christ for other things, they shall lose Christ, and that also for which they forsook him.
But I will mention more particularly some of their other losses, which will aggravate their loss of heaven. I. They shall lose their present presumptuous belief of their interest in the favour of God, and in the merits and sufferings of Christ. This false belief now supports their spirits, and fortifies them against the fears of the wrath to come. As true faith affords the soul wellgrounded support and consolation, and enables us to look to eternity with undaunted courage; so a false faith affords false comfort, and abates the trouble of the consideration of judgment and damnation. But alas! this is a mere palliative, a deceitful comfort; and what will ease their trouble, when it is gone? When they can believe no longer, they will be quieted no longer, and rejoice no longer. If a man be near to the greatest mischief, and yet believe that he is in safety, his conceit may make him as cheerful as if all were well, till his misery comes, and then both his conceit and comfort will vanish together. An ungrounded persuasion of happiness is a poor cure for real misery. When the mischief comes, it will cure the misbelief; but that belief can neither prevent nor cure the mischief. If no more were necessary to make a man happy but to believe he is so, or shall be so, happiness would be far commoner than it is likely to be.
I would be very loath to weaken the faith of the meanest Christian, or to persuade any man that his faith is false, when it is true. God forbid that I should disparage that precious grace which hath the stamp of the Spirit; or trouble the soul which Christ would have comforted! But I must needs in faithfulness tell
thee, that the confident belief of their good estate, and of the pardon of their sins, which the careless, unholy, and unhumbled sometimes boast of, will prove in the end a soul-damning delusion. There is none of this believing in hell; nor any persuasion of pardon or happiness, nor any boasting of their honesty, nor any justifying of themselves. This was but Satan's strat agem, that, being blindfold, they might follow him the more boldly; but then he will uncover their eyes, and they shall see where they are.
II. With their loss of heaven they will lose also all their hopes. In this life, though they were threatened with the wrath of God, yet their hope of escaping it did bear up their hearts; and when they were wounded by the terrors of the word, they quieted themselves with their groundless hopes; but then they shall part with their hopes and Heaven together. So strong are many men's hopes, that they are represented as disputing with Christ himself in judgment, and pleading their eating and drinking in his presence, their preaching in his name, and casting out devils (and these are more plausible arguments than our baptism, and common profession, and having the name of Christians;) they will even stoutly deny that ever they neglected Christ in hunger, or thirst, or nakedness, or prison, till he himself confute them with the sentence of their everlasting condemnation. Oh, the sad state of these men, when they must bid farewell to all their hopes; -when their hopes shall all perish with them! "The eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost."
Methinks it is the most doleful spectacle that this world affords, to see an ungodly person dying, and to think of his soul and his hopes departing together, and with what a sad change he shall presently appear in another world. Oh! if one could but speak with that hopeless soul, and ask it, What! Are you now as confident of salvation as you were wont to be? Do you now hope to be saved as soon as the most godly? what a sad answer would he return! The poor sinner is like Korah, Dathan, and their companions, who,
while they were confident in their rebellion against the Lord, were suddenly swallowed up, and their hopes with them; or like a criminal on the gallows, who has a strong expectation that he will receive a pardon, and so hopes and hopes till he drops into eternity. Such a sudden overthrow of their hopes will all unregenerate sinners receive.
O that careless sinners would be awakened to think of this in time! If thou who art reading these lines be one of this description, I do here as a friend beseech thee, that, as thou wouldst not have all thy hopes deceive thee, when thou shalt most need them, thou presently try them, whether they will stand the test of Scripture; and if thou find them unsound, let them go, whatsoever sorrow this may cost thee. Rest not till thou canst give a reason of all thy hopes; till thou canst prove that they are the hopes which grace and not nature only hath wrought; that they are grounded upon Scripture promises and Scripture evidences; that they purify thy heart; that they quicken thy endeavours in godliness; that they make thee set lighter by all things on earth, because thou hast such hopes of higher possessions; that thou art willing to have them tried, and fearful of being deceived: if thou be sure that thy hopes are such as these, God forbid that I should speak a word against them, or discourage thee from proceeding to hope thus to the end. No, I would rather persuade thee to go on in the strength of the Lord; and whatever men or devils, or thy own unbelieving heart shall say against it, go on, and hold fast thy confidence, and be sure thy hope shall never make thee ashamed. But if thy hope be not of this spiritual nature, and if thou art able to give no good reason why thou hopest, and hast not one sound evidence of a saving work of grace upon thy soul, delay not an hour; but presently cast away these hopes, that thou mayest get into a capacity of having better in their stead.
III. With this loss of heaven, they will lose all that false peace of conscience, which makes their present life comparatively easy. The loss of this must neces
sarily follow the loss of their false hopes of heaven. When presumption is gone, peace cannot tarry. Who that now sees how quietly the multitude of the ungodly live, would think that they must very shortly lie down in everlasting flames? They lie down, sleep, and rise as quietly, they eat and drink as heartily, they go about their work as cheerfully, they talk as pleasantly, as if nothing ailed them, or as if they were as far from danger as an obedient believer. "As in the days of Noah, they were eating and drinking, and marrying, and giving in marriage, till the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not till the flood came, and took them all away," so will the coming of Christ, and so will the coming of their particular judgment be; "for when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." O cruel peace, which ends in such a war! Reader, if this be thy own case; if thou hast no other peace in thy conscience than this ungrounded, self-created peace, I beseech thee to cast it from thee. As I would not have any humble gracious soul to vex his conscience needlessly, or to disquiet and discompose his spirits by trouble of his own making, or to unfit himself for duty, or to interrupt his comfortable communion with God, so would I not have a miserable sinner, who lives in daily and hourly danger of dropping into hell, to be as quiet and cheerful as if all were well with him. It is both unseemly and unsafe; more unseemly than to see a man go laughing to the gallows, and more unsafe than to be making merry when the enemy is entering our habitations. Men's first peace is usually a false peace; it is a second peace which is brought into the soul upon the casting out of the first, that will stand good. By nature, the soul of every man is Satan's garrison; all is at peace with such a man, till Christ comes. When Christ storms his heart, he breaks the peace; he gives it terrible alarms of judgment and hell; he batters it with the ordnance of his threatenings and terrors; he sets all in a combustion of fear and sorrow, till he forces it to yield to his