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the Lord loveth the righteous, but the wicked his foul hateth."
As I need not ftay to open thefe texts which are fo plain, fo I think I need not add any more of that multitude which speak the like. If thou be a man that doft believe the word of God, here is already enough to fatisfy thee, that the wicked muft be Converted or Condemned. You are already brought fo far, that you muft either confefs that this is true, or fay plainly, you will not believe the word of God. And if once you be come to that pafs, there is but fmall hopes of you, look to yourselves as well as you can, for it is like you will not be long out of hell. You would be ready to fly in the face of him that fhould give you the lie; and yet dare you give the lie to God? But if you tell God plainly you will not believe him, blame him not if he never warn you more, or if he forfake you, and give you up as hopeless; for to what purpofe fhould he warn you, if you will not believe him? Should he fend an angel from heaven to you, it feems you would not believe. For an angel can fpeak but the Word of God; and if an angel fhould bring you any other gofpel, you are not to receive it, but to hold him accurfed. Gal. i. 8. And furely there is no angel to be believed before the Son of God, who came from the Father to bring us this doctrine. If he be not to be believed, then all the angels in heaven are not to be believed. And if you ftand on these terms with God, I fhall leave you till he deal with you in a more convincing way. God hath a voice that will make you hear. Though he entreat you to hear the voice of his gofpel, he will make you hear the voice of his condemning fentence, without intreaty: We cannot make you believe against your wills: But God will make you feel against your wills.
But let us hear, what reafon you have, why will you not believe this Word of God, which tells us that the wicked must be "converted or condemned ?"
I know your reafon; it is because that you judge it unlikely that God should be fo unmerciful: you think it cruelty to damn men everlastingly for fo fmall a thing as a finful life. And this leads us up to the fecond thing, which is to justify the equity of God in his laws and judgments.
And firft, I think you will not deny but that it is moft fuitable to an immortal foul, to be ruled by laws that promife an immortal reward and threaten an endlefs punishment. Otherwife the law fhould not be fuited to the nature of the fubject, who will not be fully ruled by any lower means than the hopes or fears of everlafting things: As it is in cafe of temporal punishment, if a law were now made that the moft heinous crimes fhall be punished with an hundred years captivity, this might be of fome efficacy, as being equal to our lives. But if there had been no other penalties before the flood, when men lived eight or nine hundred years, it would not have been fufficient because men would know that they might have fo many hundred years impunity afterwards. So it is in our prefent cafe.
2. I fuppofe that you will confefs that the promise of an endless and inconceivable glory is not fo fuitable to the wifdom of God, or the cafe of man: And why then fhould you not think fo of the threatening of an endless and unfpeakable mifery!
3. When you find it in the Word of God that fo it is,' and fo it will be,' do ye think yourselves fit to contradict this Word? Will you call your Maker to the bar, and examine his word upon the accufation of falfehood? Will you fit upon him, and judge him by the law of your conceits! Are you wifer, and better, and more righteous than he ? Muft the God of Heaven come to school to you to learn wifdom? Muft infinite wifdom learn of folly, and infinite Goodness be corrected by a fwinifh finner, that cannot keep himfelf an hour clean? Muft the Almighty ftand at the
bar of a worm? Oh horrid arrogancy of fenfelefs duit! fhall ever mole, or clod, or dunghill, accufe the fun of darkness, and undertake to illuminate the world? Where were you when the Almighty made the laws, that he did not call you to his counfel; furely he made them before you were born, without defiring your advice, and you came into the world too late for to reverfe them; if you could have done fo great a work, you should have ftept out of your nothingness and have contradicted Chrift when he was on earth, or Mofes before him, or have faved Adam and his finful progeny from the threatened death, that fo there might have been no need of Chrift! And what if God withdraw his patience and fuftentation, and let you drop into hell while you are quarrelling with his word, will you then believe that there is an hell?
4. If fin be fuch an evil that it requireth the Death of Chrift for its expiation, no wonder if it deferve our everlasting mifery.
5. And if the fin of the devils deferved an endless torment, why not alfo the fin of man?
6. And methinks you fhould perceive that it is not poffible for the best of men, much lefs for the wicked, to be competent judges of the defert of fin. Alas, we are all both blind and partial. You can never know fully the defert of fin, till you fully know the evil of fin; and you can never fully know the evil of fin, till you fully know, 1. The excellency of the foul which it deformeth. 2. And the excellency of holiness which it doth obliterate. 3. And the reafon and excellency of the law which it violateth. 4. The excellency of the glory which it doth defpife. And 5. The excellency and office of reafon which it treadeth down. 6. No, nor till you know the infinite excellency, almightiness and holinefs of that God against whom it is committed. When you fully know all thefe, you thall fully know the defert of fin befides. You know that the offender is too partial to judge the law, or the
proceeding of his judge. We judge by feeling, which binds our reafon. We fee in common worldly things that most men think the cause is right which is their own, and that all is wrong that's done against them; and let the moft wife or juft impartial friends perfuade them to the contrary, and it is all in vain. There are few children but think the father is unmerciful, or dealeth hardly with them if he whip them. There's fcarce the vileft fwinifh wretch but thinketh the church doth wrong him if they excommunicate him: or scarce a thief or murderer that is hanged, but would accufe the law and judge of cruelty, if that would ferve their
7. Can you think that an unholy foul is fit for heaven? Alas, they cannot love God here, nor do him any fervice which he can accept. They are contrary to God; they loath that which he moit loveth, and love that which he abhorreth: They are incapable of that imperfect communion with him which his faints here do partake of. How then can they live in that perfect love of him, and full delights and communion with him, which is the bleffednefs of heaven? You do not accufe yourfelves of unmercifulness, if you make not your enemy your bofom counfellor ? or if you take not your fwine to bed and board with you: no, nor-if you take away his life, though he never finned; and yet will you blame the abfolute Lord, the most wife and gracious Sovereign of the world, if he condemn the unconverted to perpetual mifery.
I BESEECH you now all that love your fouls, that, instead of quarrelling with God and with his word, you will prefently hoop to it, and use it for your good. All you that are yet unconverted in this affembly, take this as the undoubted truth of God;
you muft, ere long, be converted or condemned; there is no other way but turn or die. When God, that cannot lie, hath told you this; when you hear it from the Maker and Judge of the world, it is time for him that hath ears to hear; by this time you may fee what you have to truft to. You are but dead and damned men except you will be converted. Should I tell you otherwife I thould deceive you with a lie. Should I hide this from you, I fhould undo you, and be guilty of your blood, as the verfes before my text affure me, verfe 8. "When I fay to the wicked man, O wicked man, thou shalt furely die; if thou doft not fpeak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand." You fee then, though this be a rough and unwelcome doctrine, it is fuch as we muft preach and you must hear. It is eafier to hear of hell than to feel it. If your neceffities did not require it, we would not gall your tender ears with truths that feem fo harth and grievous. Hell would not be fo full if people were but willing to know their cafe, and to hear and think of it. The reafon why fo few efcape it is, because they strive not to enter in at the strait Gate of Converfion, and go the narrow way of Holinefs while they have time and they strive not, because they be not awakened to a lively feeling of the danger they are in; and they be not awakened because they are loth to hear or think of it; and that is partly through foolish tenderness and carnal felf love, and partly because they do not well believe the word that threateneth it. If you will not thoroughly believe this truth, methinks the weight of it should force you to remember it, and it fhould follow you, and give you no reft till you are converted. If you had but once heard this word by the voice of an angel, "thou must be converted," or " condemned: turn, or die;" Would it not ftick in your minds, and haunt you night and day fo that in your finning you would remember it,