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that were liable to it in their own persons. Nay, this not only speaks us to have been liable to wrath, but also that wrath must have a vent, in the punishing of sin. If this was done in the green tree, what will become of the dry ? What a miserable case must a sinner be in, that is out of Christ, that is not vitally united to Christ, and partakes not of his Spirit? God, who spared not his own Son, surely will not spare such an one.
But the unregenerate man, who has no great value for the honour of God, will be apt to rise up against his Judge, and in his own heart condemn his procedure. Nevertheless, the Judgę being infinitely just, the sentence.must be righteous. And, therefore, to stop thy mouth, O proud sinner, and to still thy clamour against the righteous Judge, consider, First, Thou art a sinner by nature, and it is highly reasonable that guilt and wrath be as old as sin. Why should not God begin to vindicate his honour, as soon as vile worms begin to impair it? Why shall not a serpent bite the thief, as soon as he leaps over the hedge? Why should not the threatening take hold of the sinner, as soon as he casts away the command ? The poisonous nature of the serpentaffordsaman sufficientground to kill it, as soon as ever he can reach it ; and, by this time thou mayest be convinced, that thy nature is a very compound of enmity against God. Secondly, Thou hast not only an enmity against God in thy nature, but hast discovered it by actual sins, which are in his eye acts of hostility. Thou hast brought forth thy lust into the field of battle against thy Sovereign Lord. And now, that thou art such a criminal, thy condemnation is just ; for besides the sin of thy nature, thou hast done that against heaven, which if thou hadst done against men, thy life behoved to have gone for It; and shall not wrath from heaven overtake thee? (1.) Thou art guilty of high treason, and rebellion against the King of Heaven. The thought and wish of thy heart, We he knows as well as the language of thy mouth, hasen, no God, Psal. xiv. 1. Thou hast rejected his government, blown the trumpet, and set up the standard of rebellion against him ; being one of those that say, “ We will not have this man to reign over us," Luke xix. 14. Thou hast strived against, and quenched his spirit; practically disowned his laws proclaimed by his messengers ;
stopped thine ears at their voice, and sent them away mourning for thy pride. Thou hast conspired with his grand enemy the devil. Although thou art a sworn servant of the King of glory, daily receiving of his favours, and living on his bounty ; thou art holding a correspon. dence, and hast contracted a friendship with his greatest enemy, and art acting for him against thy Lord; for, The lust of the devil ye will do, John viii. 44. (2.) - Thou art a murderer before the Lord. Thou hast laid the stumbling-block of thine iniquity before the blind world; and hast ruined the souls of others by thy sinful course. And though thou dost not see now, tbe time may come, when thou shalt see the blood of thy relations, neighbours, acquaintances, and others, upon thy head, Matth. xviii. 7. 4 Wo unto the world because of offences.Wo to that man by whom the offence cometh. Yea, thou art a selfmurderer before God," Prov. viii. 36. ^ He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death,” Ezek. xviii. 31. Why will ye die? The laws of men go as far as they can against the self-murderer, denying his body a burial-place amongst others, and confiscating his goods; what wonder is it the law of God is so severe against soul murderers? Is it strange, that they who will needs depart from God now, cost what it will, must be forced to depart from him at last, into everlasting fire ? But what is yet more criminal, thou art guilty of the murder of the Son of God, for the LORD will reckon these amongst those that pierced him, Rev. i. 7. Thou hast rejected him as well as the Jews did; and by thy rejecting him, thou hast justified their deed. They indeed did not acknowledge him to be the Son of God, but thou dost. What they did against him was in a state of humiliation : but thou hast acted against him in his state of exaltation. These things will aggravate thy condemnation. What wonder, then, if the voice of the Lamb change to the roaring of the lion, against the traitor and murderer.
Object. But some will say, Is there not a vast dispro. portion betwixt our sin and that wrath you talk of? I answer, No; God punishes no more than the sinner deserves. To rectify your mistake, in this matter, consider, (1.) The vast rewards God has annexed to obedience. His word is no more full of fiery wrath against sin, than it is of gracious rewards to the obedience it requires. If heaven be in the promises, it is altogether equal that hell be in the threatenings. If death were not in the balance with life, eternal misery with eternal happiness, where were the proportion ? Moreover, sin deserves the misery, but our best works do not deserve the happiness; yet both are set be. fore us; sin and misery, holiness and happiness. What reason is there then to complain? (2.) How severe soever the threatenings be, yet all has enough ado to reach the end of the law. “ Fear him," says our Lord, " which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him," Luke xii. 5. This bespeaks our dread of divine power and inajesty ; but how few fear him indeed! The Lord knows the sinners hearts to be exceedingly intent upon fulfilling their lusts; they cleave so fondly to those fulsome breasts, that a small force does not suffice to draw them from them. They that travel through deserts, where they are in hazard from wild beasts, have need to carry fire along with them; and they have need of a hard wedge that have knotty timber to cleave ; so a holy law must be fenced with a dreadful wrath, in a world lying in wickedness. But who are they, that complain of that wrath as too great, but those to whom it is too little to draw them off from their sinful courses? It was the man who pretended to fear his lord, because he was an austere inan, that kept his pound laid up in a napkin; and so he was condemned out of his own mouth, Luke xix. 20, 21, 22. · Thou art that man, even thou whose objection I am answering. How can the wrath thou art under, ar.d liable to, be too great, while yet it is not sufficient to awaken thee to fly from it ? Is it time to relax the penalties of the law, when men are trampling the commands of it under foot? (3.) Consider how God dealt with his own Son, whom he spared not, Rom. viii. 32. The wrath of God seized on his soul and body both, and brought him into the dust of death. That his sufferings were not eternal, flowed from the quality of the sufferer, who was infinite ; and, therefore, able to bear at once the whole load of wrath ; and, upon that account, his sufferings were infinite in value. But in value, they must be protracted to an eternity. And what confidence
can a rebel-subject have to quarrel (for his part) a punishment executed on the King's Son ? (4.) The sinner doth against God what he can. “Behold thou hast done evil things as thou couldst," Jer. iii. 5. That thou hast not done more and worse, thanks to him who restrained thee; to the chain which the wolf was kept in by, not to thyself. No wonder God shew his power on the sinner, who puts forth his power against God, as far as it will reach. The unregenerate man puts no period to his sinful course ; and would put no bounds to it neither, if he were not restrained by divine power for wise ends; and, therefore, it is just he be for ever under wrath. (5.) It is infinite majesty sin strikes against ; and so it is, in some sort, an infinite evil. Sin riseth in its demerit, according to the quality of the party offended. If a man wound his neighbour, his goods must go for it; but if he wound his prince, his life must go to make amends for that. The infinity of God makes infinite wrath the just demerit of sin. God is infinitely displeased with sin ; and when he acts, he must act like himself, and shew his displeasure by proportionable means. Lastly, Those that shall lie for ever under his wrath, will be eternally sinning; and, therefore, must eternally suffer; not only in respect of divine judicial procedure, but because , sin is its own punishment, in the same manner that holy obedience is its own reward. The Doctrine of the Misery of Man's Natural State applied.
USE (1.) Of information. Is our state by nature a state of wrath ? Then,
1. Surely, we are not born innocent. These chains of wrath, which by nature are upon us, speak us to be born criminals. The swaddling bands wherewith infants are bound hand and foot as soon as they are born, may put us in mind of the cords of wrath, with which they are held prisoners, as children of wrath.
2. What desperate madness is it for sinners to go on in their sinful course : What is it but to heap coals of fire on thine own head, and lay more and more fuel to the fire of wrath, to treasure up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath ? Rom. ii. 5. Thou mayst perish, when his wrath is kindled but a little, Psalm ii. 12. Why wilt thou increase it yet more? Thou art already bound with such cords of death, as will not easily be loosed; what need is there of more? Stand, careless sinner, and consider this.
3. Thou hast no reason to complain, as long as thou art out of hell. 66 Wherefore doth a living man complain?” Lam. iii. 39. If one who has forfeited as life be banished his native country, and exposed to many hardships; he may well bear all patiently, seeing his life is spared. Do ye murmur, for that ye are under pain or sickness? Nay, bless God ye are not there, where the worm never dieth. Dost thou grudge that thou art not ni so good a condition in the world, as some of thy neighbours are? Be thankful rather, that ye are not in the case of the damned. Is thy substance gone from thee? Wonder that the fire of God's wrath hath not consumed thyself. Kiss the rod, O sinner, and acknowledge mercy, for God punisheth us less than our iniquities deserve, Ezra ix, 13.
4. Here is a memorandum, both for poor and rich. (1.) The poorest that go from door to door, and hath not one penny left them by their parents, were born to an inheritance. Their first father Adam left them children of wrath; and continuing in their natural state, they cannot miss of it ; " For this is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed to him by God,” Job xx. 29. An heritage that will furnish them with an habitation, who have vet where to lay their head; they shall be cast into utter darkness, Mat. xxv. 30. for to them is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever, Jude 13. where their bed shall be sorrow : “ They shall lie down in sorTOW," Isa. 1. 11. their food shall be judgment, for God will feed them with judgment, Ezek. xxxiv. 16. and their drink shall be the red wine of God's wrath, the dregs whereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring out, and drink them, Psal. lxxv. 8. I know, that those who are destitute of worldly goods, and withal void of the knowledge and grace of God, who therefore may be called the devil's poor, will be apt to say here, We hope God will make us puffer all our misery in this world, and we shall be happy in the next : As if their miserable outward condition in time would secure their happiness in eternity