There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And, beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house; For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them,lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
This Scripture was not spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to show you the state of two single persons only, as some, through ignorance of the drift of Christ in his parables, do dream; but to show you the state of the godly and ungodly to the world's end; as is clear to him that is of an understanding heart. For he spake them to the end that after generations should take notice thereof, and fear, lest they also fell into the same condition. Now in my discourse upon these words I shall not be tedious; but as briefly as I may, I shall pass through the several verses, and lay you down some of the several truths contained therein. And the Lord grant that they may be profitable, and of great advantage to those that read them, or hear them read.
The 19th and 20th verses also, I shall not spend much time upon, only give you three or four short hints, and so pass to the next verses; for they are the words I do intend most especially to insist upon.
The 19th, 20th, and 21st verses run thus:– 'There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared' deliciously or 'sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores.'
First. If these verses had been spoken by Jesus Christ, and no more, all the world would have gone near to have cast a wrong interpretation on them. I say, if Jesus had said only thus much, 'There was a certain rich man' which 'fared sumptuously daily, and a certain beggar laid at his gate full of sores'; the world would have made this conclusion of them–the rich man was the happy man; for, at the first view, it doth represent such a thing; but take all together, that is, read the whole parable, and you shall find that there is no man in a worse condition than he; as I shall clearly hold forth afterward.
Second. Again, if a man would judge of men according to outward appearance, he shall ofttimes take his mark amiss. Here is a man to outward appearance appears the only blessed man, better by half than the beggar, inasmuch as he is rich, the beggar poor; he is well clothed, but peradventure the beggar is naked; he hath good food, but the beggar would be glad of dog's meat. 'And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table.' The rich man fares well every day, but the beggar must be glad of a bit when he can get it. O! who would not be in the rich man's state? A wealthy man, sorts of new suits and dainty dishes every day; enough to make one who minds nothing but his belly, and his back, and his lusts, to say, O that I were in that man's condition! O that I had about me as that man has! Then I should live a life indeed; then should I have heart's-ease good store; then I should live pleasantly, and might say to my soul, 'Soul,' be of good cheer, 'eat, drink, and be merry' (Luke 12:19). Thou hast everything plenty, and art in a most blessed condition.
I say, this might be, aye, and is, the conclusion with them that judge according to outward appearance. But if the whole parable be well considered, you will see (Luke 16:15), that which is had in high estimation with men is an abomination in the sight of God. And again (John 16:20- 22), that condition, that is the saddest condition, according to outward appearance, is ofttimes the most excellent; for the beggar had ten thousand degrees the best of it, though, to outward appearance, his state was the saddest; from whence we shall observe thus much:–1. That those who judge according to outward appearance, do for the most part judge amiss (John 7:24). 2. That they who look upon their outward enjoyments to be token of God's special grace unto them, are also deceived (Rev 3:17). For as it is here in the parable, a man of wealth and a child of the devil may make but one person; or a man may have abundance of outward enjoyments, and yet be carried by the devils into eternal burnings (Luke 12:20). But this is the trap in which the devil hath caught many thousands of poor souls, namely, by getting them to judge according to outward appearance, or according to God's outward blessings.
Do but ask a poor, carnal, covetous wretch, how we should know a man to be in a happy state, and he will answer, those that God blesseth, and giveth abundance of this world unto; when, for the most part, they are they that are the cursed men. Alas! poor men, they are so ignorant as to think that because a man is increased in outward things, and that by a small stock, therefore God doth love that man with a special love, or else he would never do so much for him, never bless him so, and prosper the work of his hands. Ah! poor soul, it is the rich man that goes to hell. And 'the rich man died,' and in hell, mark, 'in hell he lift up his eyes,' &c.
Methinks to see how the great ones of the world will go strutting up and down the streets sometimes, it makes me wonder. Surely they look upon themselves to be the only happy men; but it is because they judge according to outward appearance; they look upon themselves to be the only blessed men, when the Lord knows the generality are left out of that blessed condition. 'Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called' (1 Cor 1:26). Ah! did they that do now so brag, that nobody dare scarce look on them, but believe this, it would make them hang down their heads and cry, O give me a Lazarus' portion.
I might here enlarge very much, but I shall not; only thus much I shall say to you that have much of this world, Have a care that you have not your portion in this world. Take heed that it be not said to you hereafter, when you would very willingly have heaven, Remember in your lifetime you had your portion (Psa 17:14).
And friend, thou that seekest after this world, and desirest riches, let me ask this question, Wouldst thou be content that God should put thee off with a portion in this life? Wouldst thou be glad to be kept out of heaven with a back well clothed, and a belly well filled with the dainties of this world? Wouldst thou be glad to have all thy good things in thy lifetime, to have thy heaven to last no longer than while thou dost live in this world? Wouldst thou be willing to be deprived of eternal happiness and felicity? If you say no, then have a care of the world and thy sins; have a care of desiring to be a rich man, lest thy table be made a snare unto thee (Psa 19:22). Lest the wealth of this world do bar thee out of glory. For, as the apostle saith, 'They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition' (1 Tim 6:9). Thus much in general; but now more particularly.
These two men here spoken of, as I said, do hold forth to us that state of the godly and ungodly; the beggar holdest forth the godly, and the rich man the ungodly. 'There was a certain rich man.'
But why are the ungodly held forth under the notion of a rich man? 1. Because Christ would not have them look too high, as I said before, but that those who have riches should have a care that they be not all their portion (James 1:10- 12; 1 Tim 6:17). 2. Because rich men are most liable to the devil's temptations; are most ready to be puffed up with pride, stoutness, cares of this world, in which things they spend most of their time in lusts, drunkenness, wantonness, idleness, together with the other works of the flesh; for which things sake, the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Col 3:6). 3. Because he would comfort the hearts of his own, which are most commonly of the poorer sort; but God hath chosen the poor, despised, and base things of this world (1 Cor 1:26). Should God have set the rich man in the blessed state, his children would have concluded, being poor, that they had no share in the life to come.
And again, had not God given such a discovery of the sad condition of those that are for the most part rich men, we should have had men concluded absolutely that the rich are the blessed men. Nay, albeit the Lord himself doth so evidently declare that the rich ones of the world are, for the most part, in the saddest condition, yet they, through unbelief, or else presumption, do harden themselves, and seek for the glory of this world as though the Lord Jesus Christ did not mean as he said, or else that he will say more than shall assuredly come to pass; but let them know that the Lord hath a time to fulfil that he had a time to declare, for the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35).
But again, the Lord by this word doth not mean those are ungodly who are rich in the world, and no other, for then must all those that are poor, yet graceless and vain men, be saved and delivered from eternal vengeance, which would be contrary to the Word of God, which saith that together with the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, there are bondmen or servants, and slaves, that cry out at the appearance of the Almighty God, and his Son Jesus Christ, to judgment (Rev 6:15).
So that though Christ doth say, 'There was a certain rich man,' yet you must understand he meaneth all the ungodly, rich or poor. Nay, if you will not understand it so now, you shall be made to understand it to be so meant at the day of Christ's second coming, when all that are ungodly shall stand at the left hand of Christ, with pale faces and guilty consciences, with the vials of the Almighty's wrath ready to be poured out upon them. Thus much in brief touching the 19th verse. I might have observed other things from it, but now I forbear, having other things to speak of at this time.
Verse 20.– 'And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores.'
This verse doth chiefly hold forth these things; 1. That the saints of God are a poor contemptible people; 'There was a certain beggar.' If you understand the word beggar to hold forth outward poverty, or scarcity in outward things, such are saints of the Lord, for they are for the most part a poor, despised, contemptible people. But if you allegorize it and interpret it thus, They are such as beg earnestly for heavenly food; this is also the spirit of the children of God, and it may be, and is a truth in this sense, though not so naturally gathered from this scripture. 2. That 'he was laid at his gate, full of sores.' These words hold forth the distempers of believers, saying he was 'full of sores,' which may signify the many troubles, temptations, persecutions, and afflictions in body and spirit which they meet withal while they are in the world, but also the entertainment they find at the hands of those ungodly ones who live upon the earth. Whereas it is said, he was 'laid at his gate, full of sores.' Mark, he was laid at his gate, not in his house–that was thought too good for him–but he was laid at his gate, full of sores. From whence observe, (1.) That the ungodly world do not desire to entertain and receive the poor saints of God into their houses. If they must needs be somewhere near unto them, yet they shall not come into their houses; shut them out of doors; if they will needs be near us, let them be at the gate. And he 'was laid at his gate, full of sores.' (2.) Observe that the world are not at all touched with the afflictions of God's children for all they are full of sores; a despised, afflicted, tempted, persecuted people the world doth not pity, no, but rather labour to aggravate their trouble by shutting them out of doors; sink or swim, what cares the world? They are resolved to disown them; they will give them no entertainment: if the lying in the streets will do them any good, if hard usage will do them any good, if to be disowned, rejected, and shut out of doors by the world will do them any good, they shall have enough of that; but otherwise no refreshment, no comfort from the world. And he 'was laid at his gate, full of sores.'
Verse 21.– 'And he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: the dogs came also and licked his sores.'
By these words our Lord Jesus doth show us the frame of a Christian's heart, and also the heart and carriage of worldly men towards the saints of the Lord. The Christian's heart is held forth by this, that anything will content him while he is on this side glory. And 'he desired to be fed with the crumbs'; the dogs' meat, anything. I say a Christian will be content with anything, if he have but to keep life and soul together; as we used to say, he is content, he is satisfied; he hath learned–if he hath learned to be a Christian–to be content with anything; as Paul saith, 'I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content' (Phil 4:11). He learns in all conditions to study to love God, to walk with God, to give up himself to God; and if the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table will but satisfy nature and give him bodily strength, that thereby he may be the more able to walk in the way of God, he is contented. And he 'desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.' But mark, he had them not; you do not find that he had so much as a crumb, or a scrap allowed unto him. No, then the dogs will be beguiled, THAT must be preserved for the dogs. From whence observe that the ungodly world do love their dogs better than the children of God. You will say that is strange. It is so indeed, yet it is true, as will be clearly manifested; as, for instance, how many pounds do some men spend in a year on their dogs, when in the meanwhile the poor saints of God may starve for hunger? They will build houses for their dogs, when the saints must be glad to wander, and lodge in dens and caves of the earth (Heb 11:38). And if they be in any of their houses for the hire thereof, they will warn them out or eject them, or pull down the house over their heads, rather than not rid themselves of such tenants. Again, some men cannot go half a mile from home but they must have dogs at their heels, but they can very willingly go half a score miles without the society of a Christian. Nay, if when they are busy with their dogs they should chance to meet a Christian, they would willingly shift him if they could. They will go on the other side the hedge or the way rather than they will have any society with him; and if at any time a child of God should come into a house where there are but two or three ungodly wretches, they do commonly wish either themselves or the saint out of doors; and why so? because they cannot down with the society of a Christian; though if there come in at the same time a dog, or a drunken swearing wretch, which is worse than a dog, they will make him welcome; he shall sit down with them and partake of their dainties. And now tell me, you that love your sins and your pleasures, had you not rather keep company with a drunkard, a swearer, a strumpet, a thief, nay, a dog, than with an honest-hearted Christian? If you say no, what means your sour carriage to the people of God? Why do you look on them as if you would eat them up? Yet at the very same time if you can but meet your dog, or a drunken companion, you can fawn upon them, take acquaintance with them, to the tavern or ale house with them, if it be two or three times in a week. But if the saints of God meet together, pray together, and labour to edify one another, you will stay till doomsday before you will look into the house where they are. Ah! friends, when all comes to all, you will be found to love drunkards, strumpets, dogs, anything, nay, to serve the devil, rather than to have loving and friendly society with the saints of God.
Moreover, 'the dogs came and licked his sores.' Here again you may see, not only the afflicted state of the saints of God in this world, but also that even dogs themselves, according to their kind, are more favourable to the saints than the sinful world; though the ungodly will have no mercy on the saints, yet it is ordered so that these creatures, dogs, lions, &c. will. Though the rich man would not entertain him into his house, yet his dogs will come and do him the best good they can, even to lick his running sores. It was thus with Daniel when the world was mad against him, and would have him thrown to the lions to be devoured, the lions shut their mouths at him, or rather the Lord did shut them up, so that there was not that hurt befel to him as was desired by the adversaries (Dan 6). And this I am persuaded of, that would the creatures do as some men would have them, the saints of God should not walk so quietly up and down the streets and other places as they do. And as I said before, so I say again, I am persuaded that, at the day of judgment, many men's conditions and carriages will be so laid open, that it will evidently appear they have been very merciless and mad against the children of God, insomuch, that when the providence of God did fall out so as to cross their expectation, they have been very much offended thereat, as is very evidently seen in them who set themselves to study how to bring the saints into bondage, and to thrust them into corners, as in these late years (Psa 31:13). And because God hath in his goodness ordered things otherwise, they have gnashed their teeth thereat. Hence then let the saints learn not to commit themselves to their enemies; 'beware of men' (Matt 10:17). They are very merciless men, and will not so much favour you, if they can help it, as you may suppose they may. Nay, unless the overruling hand of God in goodness do order things contrary to their natural inclination, they will not favour you so much as a dog.
Verse 22.– 'And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.'
The former verses do briefly hold forth the carriage of the ungodly in this life toward the saints. Now this verse doth hold forth the departure, both of the godly and ungodly, out of this life.
Where he said, 'And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried – into Abraham's bosom,' and 'the rich man also died';–the beggar died, that represents the godly; and the rich man died, that represents the ungodly. From whence observe, neither godly nor ungodly must live always without a change, either by death or judgment; the good man died and the bad man died. That scripture doth also back this truth, that good and bad must die, marvellous well, where it is said, 'And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment' (Heb 9:27).
Mark, he doth not say it is so that men by chance may die; which might beget, in the hearts of the ungodly especially, some hope to escape the bitterness of it. But he saith it is a thing most certain, it is appointed; mark, 'it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.' God hath decreed it, that since men have fallen from that happy estate that God at the first did set them in, they shall die (Rom 6:23). Now when it is said the beggar died and the rich man died, part of the meaning is they ceased to be any more in this world; I say partly the meaning, but not altogether. Though it be altogether the meaning when some of the creatures die, yet it is but in part the meaning when it is said that men, women, or children die; for there is to them something else to be said, more than barely agoing out of the world. For if when unregenerate men and women die there were an end of them, not only in this world but also in the world to come, they would be happy over they will be now, for when ungodly men and women die there is that to come after death that will be very terrible to them, namely, to be carried by the angels of darkness from their death-beds to hell, there to be reserved to the judgment of the great day, when both body and soul shall meet and be united together again, and made capable to undergo the uttermost vengeance of the Almighty to all eternity. This is that, I say, which doth follow a man that is not born again, after death, as is clear from that in 1 Peter 3:18, 19, where, before speaking of Christ being raised again, by the power of his eternal Spirit, he saith, By which, that is, by that Spirit, 'he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.' But what is the meaning of this? Why, thus much, that those souls who were once alive in the world in the time or days in which Noah lived, being disobedient in their times to the calls of God by his Spirit in Noah, for so I understand it, was, according to that which was foretold by that preacher, deprived of life and overcome by the flood, and are now in prison. Mark, he preached to the spirits in prison; he doth not say, who were in prison, but to them in, that is, now in prison, under chains of darkness, reserved, or kept there in that prison, in which now they are, ready, like villains in the jail, to be brought before the judgment-seat of Christ at the great day. But of this I shall speak further by and by.
Now if this one truth, that men must die and depart this world, and either enter into joy or else into prison, to be reserved to the day of judgment, were believed, we should not have so many wantons walk up and down the streets as there do, at least it would put a mighty check to their filthy carriages, so that they would not, could not walk so basely and sinfully as they do. Belshazzar, notwithstanding he was so far from the fear of God as he was, yet when he did but see that God was offended and threatened him for his wickedness, it made him hang down his head and knock his knees together (Dan 5:5,6). If you read the verses before you will find he was careless, and satisfying his lusts in drinking and playing the wanton with his concubines. But so soon as he did perceive the finger of a hand-writing, 'then,' saith the scripture, 'the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.' And when Paul told Felix of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, it make him tremble. And let me tell thee, soul, whosoever thou art, that if thou didst but verily believe that thou must die and come into the judgment, it would make thee turn over a new leaf. But this is the misery, the devil doth labour by all means as to keep out other things that are good, so to keep out of the heart, as much as in him lies, the thoughts of passing from this life into another world; for he knows, if he can but keep them from the serious thoughts of death, he shall the more easily keep them in their sins, and so from closing with Jesus Christ; as Job saith, 'Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.' Which makes them say to God, 'Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways' (Job 21:14). Because there is no fear of death and judgment to come, therefore they do put off God and his ways, and spend their days in their sins, and in a moment, that is, before they are aware, go down to the grave (Job 21:17). And thus it fared also with the man spoken of in Luke 12:20. The man, instead of thinking of death, he thought how he might make his barns bigger. But, in the midst of his business in the world, he lost his soul before he was aware, supposing that death had been many years off. But God said unto him, 'Thou fool,' thou troublest thyself about things of this life, thou puttest off the thoughts of departing this world, when this night thy soul shall be taken from thee; or, this night, they, that is, the devil, will fetch away thy soul from thee. And here it comes to pass, men's not being exercised with the thoughts of departing this life, that they are, so unexpectedly to themselves and their neighbours, taken away from the pleasures and profits, yea, and all the enjoyments they busy themselves withal while they live in this world. And hence it is again, that you have some in your towns and cities that are so suddenly taken away, some from haunting the ale- houses, others from haunting the whore-houses, others from playing and gaming, others from the cares and covetous desires after this world, unlooked for as by themselves or their companions. Hence it is also that men do so wonder at such tidings as this.
There is such a one dead, such a one is departed; it is because they do so little consider both the transitoriness of themselves and their neighbours. For had they but their thoughts well exercised about the shortness of this life, and the danger that will befall such as do miss of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would make them more wary and sober, and spend more time in the service of God, and be more delighted and diligent in inquiring after the Lord Jesus, who is the deliverer 'from the wrath to come' (1 Thess 1:10). For, as I said before, it is evident, that they who live after the flesh in the lusts thereof, do not really and seriously think on death, and the judgment that doth follow after: neither do they indeed endeavour so to do; for did they, it would make them say with holy Job, 'All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come' (Job 14:14). And as I said before, that not only the wicked, but also the godly have their time to depart this life. And the beggar died. The saints of the Lord, they must be deprived of this life also, they must yield up the ghost into the hands of the Lord their God; they must also be separated from their wives, children, husbands, friends, goods, and all that they have in the world. For God hath decreed it; it is appointed, namely, by the Lord, for men once to die, and 'we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,' as it is, 2 Corinthian 5:10, 11.
But it may be objected, if the godly do die as well as the wicked, and if the saints must appear before the judgment- seat as well as the sinners, then what advantage have the godly more than the ungodly, and how can the saints be in a better condition than the wicked?
Answ. Read the 22d verse over again, and you will find a marvellous difference between them, as much as is between heaven and hell, everlasting joy and everlasting torments; for you find, that when the beggar died, which represents the godly, he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom, or into everlasting joy (Psa 1). But the ungodly are not so, but are hurried by the devils into the bottomless pit, drawn away in their wickedness (Prov 14:32), for he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
When the ungodly do die, their misery beginneth, for then appear the devils, like so many lions, waiting every moment till the soul depart from the body. Sometimes they are very visible to the dying party, but sometimes more invisible; but always this is certain, they never miss of the soul if it do die out of the Lord Jesus Christ; but do hale it away to the prison, as I said before, there to be tormented and reserved until that great and general day of judgment, at which day they must, body and soul, receive a final sentence from the righteous Judge, and from that time be shut out from the presence of God into everlasting woe and distress. But the godly, when the time of their departure is at hand, then also are the angels of the Lord at hand; yea, they are ready waiting upon the soul to conduct it safe into Abraham's bosom. I do not say but the devils are ofttimes very busy doubtless, and attending the saints in their sickness: ay, and no question but they would willingly deprive the soul of glory. But here is the comfort, as the devils come from hell to devour the soul, if it be possible, at its departure, so the angels of the Lord come from heaven, to watch over and conduct the soul, in spite of the devil, safe into Abraham's bosom.
David had the comfort of this, and speaks it forth for the comfort of his brethren (Psa 34:7), saying, 'The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.' Mark, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about his children, to deliver them. From what? From their enemies, of which the devil is not the least. This is an excellent comfort at any time, to have the holy angels of God to attend a poor man or woman; but especially it is comfortable in the time of distress, at the time of death, when the devils beset the soul with all the power that hell can afford them. But now it may be, that the glorious angels of God do not appear at the first, to the view of the soul; nay, rather hell stands before it, and the devils ready, as if they would carry it thither. But this is the comfort, the angels do always appear at the last, and will not fail the soul, but will carry it safe into Abraham's bosom. Ah friends, consider, here is an ungodly man upon his death- bed, and he hath none to speak for him, none to speak comfort unto him; but it is not so with the children of God, for they have the Spirit to comfort them. Here is the ungodly, and they have no Christ to pray for their safe conduct to glory; but the saints have an intercessor (John 17:9). Here is the world, when they die, they have none of the angels of God to attend upon them; but the saints have their company. In a word, the unconverted person, when he dieth, he sinks into the bottomless pit; but the saints, when they die, do ascend with, and by the angels, into Abraham's bosom, or into unspeakable glory (Luke 23:43).
Again, it is said, that the rich man when he died was buried or put into the earth; but when the beggar died, he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The one is a very excellent style, where he saith he was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom: it denotes the excellent condition of the saints of God, as I said before; and not only so, but also the preciousness of the death of the saints in the eyes of the Lord (Psa 116:15). That after-generations may see how precious in the sight of the Lord the death of his saints is, when he saith they are carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.
Thus many times the Lord adorneth the death and departure of his saints, to hold forth unto after-generations, how excellent they are in his eyes. It is said of Enoch, that God took him; of Abraham, that he died in a good old age; of Moses, that the Lord buried him; of Elijah, that he was taken up into heaven; that the saints sleep in Jesus; that they die in the Lord; that they rest from their labour, that their works follow them; that they are under the altar; that they are with Christ; that they are in light; that they are to come with the Lord Jesus to judge the world. All which sayings signify thus much, that to die a saint is very great honour and dignity. But the ungodly are not so. The rich or ungodly die and are buried; he is carried from his dwelling to the grave, and there he is buried, hid in the dust; and his body doth not so fast moulder and come to nought there, but his name doth stink as fast in the world, as saith the holy scripture: 'The name of the wicked shall rot' (Prov 10:7). And indeed, the names of the godly are not in so much honour after their departure, but the wicked and their names do as much rot. What a dishonour to posterity was the death of Balaam, Agag, Ahithophel, Haman, Judas, Herod, with the rest of their companions?
Thus the wicked have their names written in the earth, and they do perish and rot, and the name of the saints do cast forth a dainty savour to following generations; and that the Lord Jesus doth signify where he saith the godly are 'carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom'; and that the wicked are nothing worth, where he saith the ungodly die and are buried.
Verse 23.– 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
The former verse speaks only of the departure of the ungodly out of this life, together with the glorious conduct that the godly have into the kingdom of their Father. Now our Lord doth show, in this verse, partly what doth and shall befal to the reprobate after this life is ended, where he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' That is, the ungodly, after they depart this life, do lift up their eyes in hell.
From these words may be observed these things, First. That there is a hell for souls to be tormented in, when this life is ended. Mark, after he was dead and buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Second. That all that are ungodly, and do live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they die, they go into hell: he died and was buried; 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Third. That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know well where they are till they come into hell; and that I gather from these words, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' He was asleep before, but hell makes him lift up his eyes.
[First.] As I said before, it is evident that there is a hell for souls, yea, and bodies too, to be tormented in after they depart this life, as is clear, first, because the Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot lie, did say that after the sinner was dead and buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.'
Now if it be objected that by hell is here meant the grave, that I plainly deny: 1. Because there the body is not sensible of torment or ease; but in that hell into which the spirits of the damned depart, they are sensible of torment, and would very willingly be freed from it, to enjoy ease, which they are sensible of the want of; as is clearly discovered in this parable, 'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' 2. It is not meant the grave, but some other place, because the bodies, so long as they lie there, are not capable of lifting up their eyes, to see the glorious condition of the children of God, as the souls of the damned do. 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' 3. It cannot be the grave, for then it must follow that the soul was buried there with the body, which cannot stand with such a dead state as is here mentioned; for he saith, 'The rich man died'; that is, his soul was separated from his body. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
If it be again objected that there is no hell but in this life; that I do also deny, as I said before: after he was dead and buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art, that if thou close not in savingly with the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on what he hath done and is doing in his own person for sinners, thou wilt find such a hell after this life is ended, that thou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever. And thou that art wanton, and dost make but a mock at the servants of the Lord, when they tell thee of the torments of hell, thou wilt find that when thou departest out of this life, that hell, even the hell which is after this life, will meet thee in thy journey thither; and will, with its hellish crew, give thee such a sad salutation that thou wilt not forget it to all eternity. When that scripture comes to be fulfilled on thy soul, in Isaiah 14:9, 10, 'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they,' that is, that are in hell, shall say, 'Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?' O sometimes when I have had but thoughts of going to hell, and consider the everlastingness of their ruin that fall in thither, it hath stirred me up rather to seek to the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver me from thence, than to slight it, and make a mock at it. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Second.] The second thing I told you was this, that all the ungodly that live and die in their sins, so soon as ever they depart this life, do descend into hell. This is also verified by the words in this parable, where Christ said, He 'died and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes.' As the tree falls, so it shall be, whether it be to heaven or hell (Eccl 11:3). And as Christ said to the thief on the cross, 'Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.' Even so the devil in the like manner may say unto thy soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me in hell. See then what a miserable case he that dies in an unregenerate state is in; he departs from a long sickness to a longer hell; from the gripings of death, to the everlasting torments of hell. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Ah friends! If you were but yourselves, you would have a care of your souls; if you did but regard, you would see how mad they are that slight the salvation of their souls. O what will it profit thy soul to have pleasure in this life, and torments in hell? (Mark 8:36). Thou hadst better part with all thy sins, and pleasures, and companions, or whatsoever thou delightest in, than to have soul and body to be cast into hell. O then do not now neglect our Lord Jesus Christ, lest thou drop down to hell (Heb 2:3). Consider, would it not wound thee to thine heart to come upon thy death-bed, and instead of having the comfort of a well spent life, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the comforts of his glorious Spirit: to have, first, the sight of an ill-spent life, thy sins flying in thy face, thy conscience uttering itself with thunder-claps against thee, the thoughts of God terrifying of thee, death with his merciless paw seizing upon thee, the devils standing ready to scramble for thy soul, and hell enlarging herself, and ready to swallow thee up; and an eternity of misery and torment attending upon thee, from which there will be no release.
For mark, death doth not come alone to an unconverted soul, but with such company, as wast thou but sensible of it would make thee tremble. I pray consider that scripture (Rev 6:8), 'And I looked and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him.' Mark, death doth not come alone to the ungodly, no, but hell goeth with him. O miserable comforters! O miserable society! Here comes death and hell unto thee. Death goeth into thy body, and separates body and soul asunder; hell stands without, as I may say, to embrace, or rather, to crush thy soul between its everlasting grinders. Then thy mirth, thy joy, thy sinful delights will be ended when this comes to pass. Lo it will come. Blessed are all those that through Christ Jesus his merits, by faith, do escape these soul-murdering companions. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Third.] The third thing you know that we did observe from these words was this, That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know where they are, until they come into hell. And that I told you I gather by these words, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Mark, it was in hell that he lift up his eyes. Now some do understand by these words that he came to himself, or began to consider with himself, or to think with himself in what an estate he was, and what he was deprived of; which is still a confirmation of the thing laid down by me. There it is that they come to themselves, that is, there they are sensible where they are indeed. Thus it fares with some men that they scarce know where they are, till they lift up their eyes in hell. It is with those people as with those that fall down in a swoon; you know if a man do fall down in a swoon in one room, though you take him up and carry him into another, yet he is not sensible where he is till he cometh unto himself, and lifteth up his eyes.
Truly thus, it is to be feared, it is with many poor souls, they are so senseless, so hard, so seared in their conscience (1 Tim 4:2), that they are very ignorant of their state; and when death comes it strikes them as it were into a swoon, especially if they die suddenly, and so they are hurried away, and scarce know where they are till in hell they lift up their eyes: this is he who 'dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet' (Job 21:23).
Of this sort are they spoken of in Psalm 73, where he saith, 'There are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.' 'They are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.' And again, 'they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment,' mark, 'in a moment,' before they are aware, they 'go down to the grave' (Job 21:13).
Indeed this is too much known by woeful and daily experience; sometimes when we go to visit them that are sick in the towns and places where we live, O how senseless, how seared in their consciences are they! They are neither sensible of heaven nor of hell, of sin nor of a Saviour; speak to them of their condition, and the state of their souls, and you shall find them as ignorant as if they had no souls to regard. Others, though they lie ready to die, yet they are busying themselves about their outward affairs, as though they should certainly live here, even to live and enjoy the same for ever. Again, come to others, speak to them about the state of their souls, though they have no more experience of the new birth than a beast, yet will they speak as confidently of their eternal state, and the welfare of their souls, as if they had the most excellent experience of any man or woman in the world, saying, 'I shall have peace' (Deut 29:19). When, as I said even now, the Lord knows they are as ignorant of the new birth, of the nature and operation of faith, of the witness of the Spirit, as if there were no new birth, no faith, no witness of the Spirit of Christ in any of the saints in the world. Nay, thus many of them are, even an hour or less before their departure. Ah, poor souls! though they may go away here like a lamb, as the world says, yet, if you could but follow them a little, to stand and listen soon after their departure, it is to be feared, you should hear them roar like a lion at their first entrance into hell, far worse than even did Korah, &c., when they went down quick into the ground (Num 16:31-35).
Now, by this one thing doth the devil take great advantage on the hearts of the ignorant, suggesting unto them that because the party deceased departed so quietly, without all doubt they are gone to rest and joy; when, alas! it is to be feared the reason why they went away so quietly, was rather because they were senseless and hardened in their consciences; yea, dead before in sins and trespasses. For, had they had but some awakenings on their death-beds, as some have had, they would have made all the town to ring of their doleful condition; but because they are seared and ignorant, and so depart quietly, therefore the world takes heart at grass, as we use to say, and make no great matter of living and dying they cannot tell how; 'therefore pride compasseth them as a chain' (Psa 75:6). But let them look to themselves, for if they have not an interest in the Lord Jesus now, while they live in the world, they will, whether they die raging or still, go unto the same place; 'and lifted up their eyes in hell.'
O, my friends, did you but know what a miserable condition they are in that go out of this world without an interest in the Son of God, it would make you smite upon your thigh, and in the bitterness of your souls cry out, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?' (Acts 16:29- 31). And not only so, but thou wouldst not be comforted until thou didst find a rest for thy soul in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 23. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
Something, in brief, I have observed from the first part of this verse, namely, from these words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' And, indeed, I have observed but something, for they are very full of matter, and many things might be taken notice of in them. There is one thing more that I might touch upon, as touched in this saying, and that is this:–Methinks the Lord Jesus Christ doth hereby signify that men are naturally unwilling to see or take notice of their sad state, I say by nature; but though now they are willingly ignorant, yet in hell they shall lift up their eyes. That is, in hell they shall see and understand their miserable condition; and, therefore, to these words: 'In hell he lifted up his eyes,' he adds, 'being in torments.' As if he had said, though once they shut their eyes, though once they were willingly ignorant (2 Peter 3:5), yet, when they depart into hell, they shall be so miserably handled and tormented, that they shall be forced to lift up their eyes. While men live in this world, and are in a natural state, they will have a good conceit of themselves, and of their condition–they will conclude that they are Christians, that Abraham is their father, and their state to be as good as the best (Matt 3:7-9). They will conclude they have faith, the Spirit, a good hope, and an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ; but then, when they drop into hell, and lift up their eyes there, and behold first their soul to be in extreme torments; their dwelling to be the bottomless pit; their company thousands of damned souls; also the innumerable company of devils; and the hot scalding vengeance of God, not only to drop, but to fall very violently upon them; then they will begin to be awakened, who all their lifetime where in a dead sleep. I say, when this comes to pass, lo it will; then in hell they shall lift up their eyes, in the midst of torments they shall lift up their eyes.
Again, you may observe in these words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments,' that the time of the ungodly men's smarting for their sins will be in the torments of hell. Now here I am put to a stand, when I consider the torments of hell into which the damned do fall. O unspeakable torments! O endless torments! Now that thy soul might be made to flee from those intolerable torments into which the damned do go, I shall show you briefly what are the torments of hell. First. By the names of it. Second. by the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.
First. The names. It is called a never-dying worm (Mark 9). It is called an oven fire, hot (Mal 4:1). It is called a furnace, a fiery-furnace (Matt 13). It is called the bottomless pit, the unquenchable fire, fire and brimstone, hell fire, the lake of fire, devouring fire, everlasting fire, eternal fire, a stream of fire (Rev 21).
[Second. By the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.]
1. One part of thy torments will be this, thou shalt have a full sight of all thy ill spent life, from first to last; though here thou canst sin today and forget it by to-morrow, yet there thou shalt be made to remember how thou didst sin against God at such a time, and in such a place, for such a thing, and with such a one, which will be a hell unto thee. God will 'set them in order before thine eyes' (Psa 51:21).
2. Thou shalt have the guilt of them all lie heavy on thy soul, not only the guilt of one or two, but the guilt of them all together, and there they shall lie in thy soul, as if thy belly were full of pitch, and set on a light fire. Here men can sometimes think on their sins with delight, but there with unspeakable torment; for that I understand to be the fire that Christ speaketh of, which shall never be quenched (Mar 9:43-49). While men live here, O how doth the guilt of one sin sometimes crush the soul! It makes a man in such plight that he is weary of his life, so that he can neither rest at home nor abroad, neither up nor in bed. Nay, I do know that they have been so tormented with the guilt of one sinful thought, that they have been even at their wits' end, and have hanged themselves. But now when thou comest into hell, and hast not only one or two, or an hundred sins, with the guilt of them all on thy soul and body, but all the sins that ever thou didst commit since thou camest into the world, altogether clapped on thy conscience at one time, as one should clap a red hot iron to thy breasts, and there to continue to all eternity: this is miserable.
3. Again, then thou shalt have brought into thy remembrance the slighting of the gospel of Christ; here thou shalt consider how willing Christ was to come into the world to save sinners, and for what a trifle thou didst reject him. This is plainly held forth in Isaiah 28, where, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of salvation, verse 16, he saith of them that reject the gospel, that, when the overflowing scourge doth pass through the earth, which I understand to be at the end of the world, then, saith he, it shall take you morning by morning, by day and by night shall it pass over you; that is, continually, without any intermission. 'And it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.' 'A vexation,' that is, a torment, or a great part of hell only to understand the report, to understand the good tidings that came into the world by Christ's death for poor sinners. And you will find this verily to be the mind of the Spirit, if you compare it with Isaiah 53:1, where he speaks of men's turning their backs upon the tenders of God's grace in the gospel, he saith, 'Who hath believed our report?' or the gospel declared by us? Now this will be a mighty torment to the ungodly, when they shall understand the goodness of God was so great that he even sent his Son out of his bosom to die for sinners, and yet that they should be so foolish as to put him off from one time to another; that they should be so foolish as to lose heaven and Christ, and eternal life in glory, for the society of a company of drunkards; that they should lose their souls for a little sport, for this world, for a strumpet, for that which is lighter than vanity and nothing; I say this will be a very great torment unto thee.
4. Another part of thy torment will be this: Thou shalt see thy friends, thy acquaintance, they neighbours; nay, it may be thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thy children, thy brother, thy sister, with others, in the kingdom of heaven, and thyself thrust out (Luke 13:28). 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham (your father), and Isaac, and Jacob, (together with your brethren), and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out.' Nay, saith he, 'they shall come from the east, and from the west'–that is, those that thou didst never see in all thy life before, and they shall sit down with thy friends, and thy neighbours, thy wife and thy children, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou, for thy sins and disobedience, shall be shut, nay, thrust out. O wonderful torment!
5. Again, thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls, with an innumerable company of devils, to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world, the very thoughts of the devils appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble, and thine hair ready to stand upright on thy head. But O! what wilt thou do, when not only the supposition of the devils appearing, but the real society of all the devils in hell will be with thee howling and roaring, screeching and roaring in such a hideous manner, that thou wilt be even at thy wits' end, and be ready to run stark mad again for anguish and torment?
6. Again, that thou mightest be tormented to purpose, the mighty God of heaven will lay as great wrath and vengeance upon thee as ever he can, by the might of his glorious power. As I said before, thou shalt have his wrath, not by drops, but by whole showers shall it come, thunder, thunder, upon thy body and soul so fast, and so thick, that thou shalt be tormented out of measure. And so saith the Scripture (2 Thess 1:9), speaking of the wicked, 'Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,' when the saints shall be admiring his goodness and glory. Again, this thou shalt have, as I said before, without any intermission; thou shalt not have any ease so long as while a man may turn himself round; thou shalt have it always every hour, day and night; for their worm never dies, but always gnaws, and their fire is never quenched; as it is written in Mark 9.
7. Again, in this condition thou must be for ever, and that is as sad as all the rest. For if a man were to have all his sins laid to his charge, and communion with the devils, and as much wrath as the great God of heaven can inflict unto him; I say, if it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there would be ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance; but here is thy misery, this is thy state for ever, here thou must be for ever: when thou lookest about thee, and seest what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think this again, this is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousand years as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the sea, or sands on the sea-shore, yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word EVER, how will it torment thy soul!
Friends, I have only given a very short touch of the torments of hell. O! I am set, I am set, and am not able to utter what my mind conceives of the torments of hell. Yet this let me say to thee, accept of God's mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ, lest thou feel THAT with thy conscience which I cannot express with my tongue, and say, I am sorely tormented in this flame.
'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
When the damned are in this pitiful state, surrounded with fears, with terrors, with torment and vengeance, one thing they shall have, which is this, they shall see the happy and blessed state of God's children. He seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; which, as I said before, is the happy state of the saints when this life is ended. This now shall be so far from being an ease unto them, that it shall most wonderfully aggravate or heighten their torment, as I said before. There shall be weeping, or cause of lamentation, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, and themselves thrust out.
1. Observe, Those that die in their sins are far from going to heaven; he seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And, indeed, it is just with God to deal with them that die in their sins according to what they have done; and to make them who are far from righteousness now, to stand far from heaven to all eternity. Hearken to this, ye stout- hearted, that are far from righteousness, and that are resolved to go on in your sins, when you die you will be far from heaven; you will see Lazarus, but it will be afar off.
Again, he 'seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
These are some of the things the damned do behold, so soon as they come into torment. Mark, and he 'seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.' Lazarus, who was he? Why even he that was so slighted, so disregarded, so undervalued by this ungodly one while he was in the world, he seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.
From whence observe, That those who live and die the enemies of the saints of God, let them be never so great, or stout, let them bear never so much sway while they are in the world, let them brag and boast never so much while they are here, they shall, in spite of their teeth, see the saints, yea, the poor saints, even the Lazaruses or the ragged ones that belong to Jesus, to be in a better condition than themselves. O! who do you think was in the best condition? who do you think saw themselves in the best condition? He that was in hell, or he that was in heaven? He that was in darkness, or he that was in light? He that was in everlasting joy, or he that was in everlasting torments? The one with God, Christ, saints, angels, the other in tormenting flames, under the curse of God's eternal hatred, with the devils and their angels, together with an innumerable company of howling, roaring, cursing, ever- burning reprobates? Certainly, this observation will be easily proved to be true here in this world, by him that looks upon it with an understanding heart, and will clear itself to be true in the world to come, by such as shall go either to heaven or to hell.
2. The second observation from these words, 'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,' is this; they that are the persecutors of the saints of the Lord now in this world, shall see the Lord's persecuted ones to be they that are so highly esteemed by the Lord, as to sit or to be in Abraham's bosom, in everlasting glory, though they, the enemies to the children of God, did so lightly esteem them, that they scorned to let them gather up the dog's meat that falls under their table. This is also verified, and held forth plainly by this parable. And therefore be not grieved, O you that are the tempted, persecuted, afflicted, sighing, praying saints of the Lord, though your adversaries look upon you now with a disdainful, surly, rugged, proud, and haughty countenance, yet the time shall come when they shall spy you in Abraham's bosom!
I might enlarge upon these things, but shall leave them to the Spirit of the Lord, which can better by ten thousand degrees enlarge them on thy heart and conscience, than I can upon a piece of paper. Therefore, leaving these to the blessing of the Lord, I shall come to the next verse, and shall be brief in speaking to that also, and so pass to the rest.
Verse 24.– 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
You know I told you that verse 22 is a discovery of the departure of the godly and the ungodly out of this life; where he saith the beggar died, and the rich man also died. The 23d verse is a discovery of the proper places, both of the godly and the ungodly after death; one being in Abraham's bosom, or in glory, the other in hell. Now this 24th verse is a discovery of part of the too late repentance of the ungodly, when they are dropped down into hell; 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me.' From these words, 'And he cried,' we may observe,
First. What a change the ungodly will have when they come into hell. 'He cried.' It is like he was laughing, jesting, jeering, drinking, mocking, swearing, cursing, prating, persecuting of the godly in his prosperity, among his filthy companions. But now the case is otherwise, now he is in another frame, now his proud, stout, currish carriage, is come down; 'And he cried.' The laughter of the ungodly will not last always, but will be sure to end in a cry; 'The triumphing of the wicked is short' (Job 20:5). Consider, you must have a change either here or in hell. If you be not new creatures, regenerate persons, new-born babes, in this world, before you go hence, your note will be changed, your conditions will be changed; for if you come into hell, you must cry. O did but the singing drunkards, when they are making merry on the ale bench, think on this, it would make them change their note, and cry, What shall I do? Whither shall I go when I die? But, as I said before, the devil, as he labours to get poor souls to follow their sins, so he labours also to keep the thoughts of eternal damnation out of their minds; and, indeed, these two things are so nearly linked together, that the devil cannot well get the soul to go on in sin with delight unless he can keep the thoughts of that terrible after clap out of their minds.
But let them know that it shall not always be thus with them; for if, when they depart, they drop down into eternal destruction, they shall have such a sense of their sins, and the punishment due to the same, that it shall make them to cry; 'And he cried.' O what an alteration will there be among the ungodly when they go out of this world? It may be a fortnight, or a month before their departure, they were light, stout, surly, drinking themselves drunk, slighting God's people, mocking at goodness, and delighting in sin, following the world, seeking after riches, faring deliciously, keeping company with the bravest; but now, they are dropped down into hell, they cry. A little while ago they were painting their faces, feeding their lusts, following their whores, robbing their neighbours, telling of lies, following of plays and sports, to pass away the time; but now they are in hell, they do cry. It may be last year they heard some good sermons, were invited to receive heaven, were told their sins should be pardoned if they closed in with Jesus; but, refusing his proffers, and slighting the grace that was once tendered, they are now in hell, and do cry.
Before, they had so much time, they thought that they could not tell how to spend it, unless it were in hunting, and whoring, in dancing, and playing, and spending whole hours, yea, days, nay, weeks, in the lusts of the flesh; but when they depart into another place, and begin to lift up their eyes in hell, and consider their miserable and irrecoverable condition, they will cry.
O what a condition wilt thou fall into, when thou dost depart this world; if thou depart unconverted, and not born again, thou hadst better have been smothered the first hour thou wast born; thou hadst better have been plucked one limb from another; thou hadst better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, nay, any other creature in the visible world, than to die unconverted; and this thou wilt find to be true, when in hell thou dost lift up thine eyes, and dost cry.
Here then, before we go any further, you may see that it is not without good ground that these words are here spoken by our Lord, that when any of the ungodly do depart into hell, they will cry. Cry, why so? 1. They will cry to think that they should be cut off from the land of the living, never more to have any footing therein. 2. They will cry to think that the gospel of Christ should be so often proffered them, and yet they are not profited by it. 3. They will cry to think that now, though they would never so willingly repent and be saved, yet they are past all recovery. 4. They will cry to think that they should be so foolish as to follow their pleasures, when others were following of Christ (Luke 13:28). 5. They will cry to think that they must be separated from God, Christ, and the kingdom of heaven, and that for ever. 6. To think that their crying will now do them no good. 7. To think that, at the day of judgment, they must stand at the left hand of Christ, among an innumerable company of the damned ones. 8. They will cry to think that Lazarus, whom once they slighted, must be of them that must sit down with Christ to judge; or together with Christ, to pass a sentence of condemnation on their souls for ever and ever (1 Cor 6:2,3). 9. Cry to think that when the judgment is over, and others are taken into the everlasting kingdom of glory, then they must depart back again into that dungeon of darkness from whence they came out, to appear before the terrible tribunal. There they shall be tormented so long as eternity lasts, without the least intermission or ease.
How sayest thou, O thou wanton, proud, swearing, lying, ungodly wretch, whether this be to be slighted and made a mock at. And again tell me now, if it be not better to leave sin, and to close in with Christ Jesus, notwithstanding that reproach thou shalt meet with for so doing, than to live a little while in this world in pleasures and feeding thy lusts, in neglecting the welfare of thy soul, and refusing to be justified by Jesus; and in a moment to drop down to hell and to cry? O! consider, I say, consider betimes, and put not off the tenders of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, lest you lift up your eyes in hell, and cry for anguish of spirit.
'And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,' &c.
[Second.] These words do not only hold forth the lamentable condition of the damned, and their lamentable howling and crying out under their anguish of spirit, but also they do signify to us, as I said before, their too late repentance; and also that they would very willingly, if they might, be set at liberty from that everlasting misery that by their sins they have plunged themselves into. I say, these words do hold forth a desire that the damned have, to be delivered from those torments that they now are in: O 'Father Abraham,' saith he, 'have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.' These words, 'Father Abraham,' may have some difficulty in them. It is possible that some may think them to be meant of Abraham; and those, or him that crieth out here, to be the Jews. Or it may be some may understand it to be God, or Jesus Christ his Son, which I rather suppose it may be, that is here cried out unto; because you find the same cry to him as it were uttered by the ungodly in other places of the Scripture; as in Luke 13:25, 26. Then shall they say, 'Lord, Lord, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.' Nay more, 'In thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works' (Matt 7:22). This was just at their rejection. And again, in Matthew 25:11, they cry again to him, even to Jesus, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' And he there again gives them a repulse, as also in this parable.
But however or whosoever Abraham is, yet these truths may be observed from the words. 1. That the damned, when in an irrecoverable estate, will seek for, or desire deliverance from the wrath that they are and shall be in for eternity. 'Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him' (Psa 32:6). 2. That they will pray, if I may so call it, earnestly for deliverance from their miserable estate. These two things are clear from the words. For mark, he not only said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me'; but 'he CRIED,' and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me.' 3. From whence take a third observation; and that is, there is a time coming wherein, though men shall both cry and pray, yet they are like to have no mercy at the hands of God; for so was this man served, as I shall further show by and by when I come to it.
Some people are so deluded by the devil as to think that God is so merciful as to own or regard anything for prayer; they think anything will go for current and good satisfaction, while they are here in this world, through ignorance of the true nature of the mercy of God, and the knowledge in what way God is satisfied for sinners. Now I say, through ignorance they think, that if they do but mutter over some form of prayers, though they know not what they say, nor what they request, yet God is satisfied, yea, very well satisfied with their doings; when, alas! there is nothing less. O friends, I beseech you to look about you, and seek in good earnest for the Spirit of Christ so to help you now, to strive and pray, and to enable you to lay hold of Christ, that your souls may be saved, lest the time come that though you cry and pray, and wish also that you had laid hold on the Lord Jesus, yet you must and shall be damned.
Then again, you may see that though God be willing to save sinners at some time, yet this time doth not always last. No, he that can find in his heart to turn his back upon Jesus Christ now, shall have the back turned upon him hereafter, when he may cry and pray for mercy, and yet go without it. God will have a time to meet with them that now do not seek after him. They shall have a time, yea time enough hereafter to repent their folly, and to befool themselves, for turning their backs upon the Lord Jesus Christ. 'I will laugh at your calamity,' saith he, and 'mock when your fear cometh' (Prov 1:26).
Again, this should admonish us to take time while it is proffered, lest we repent us of our unbelief and rebellion when we are deprived of it. Ah friends! Time is precious, an hour's time to hear a sermon is precious. I have sometimes thought thus with myself, Set the case, the Lord should send two or three of his servants, the ministers of the gospel, to hell among the damned, with this commission; Go ye to hell, and preach my grace to those that are there. Let your sermon be an hour long, and hold forth the merits of my Son's birth, righteousness, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession, with all my love in him, and proffer it to them, telling them that now once more, and but once, do I proffer the means of reconciliation to them. They who are now roaring, being past hope, would then leap at the least proffer of mercy. O they that could spend whole days, weeks, nay, years, in rejecting the Son of God, would now be glad of one tender of that mercy. 'Father,' saith he, 'have mercy on me.'
Again, from these words you may observe, that mercy would be welcome when souls are under judgment. Now his soul is in the fire, now he is under the wrath of God, now he is in hell, there to be tormented; now he is with the devils and damned spirits; now he feels the vengeance of God. Now, O now, have mercy on me! Here you may see, that mercy is prized by them that are in hell, they would be glad if they could have it. Father, have mercy on me; for my poor soul's sake, send me a little mercy.
'And send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
[Third.] These words do not only hold forth that the ungodly have a desire of mercy, but what those mercies are, what these poor creatures would be glad of. As, 1. to have the company of a Lazarus granted to them. Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus. Now Lazarus was he that was beloved of God, and also he that was hated of them. Therefore, 2. Observe, that those saints, that the world in their lifetime could not endure, now they are departed, they would be glad to have society with them. O now send Lazarus! Though the time was when I cared not for him, yet now let me have some society with him.
Though the world disregard the society of God's children now, yet there is a time coming in which they would be glad to have the least company with them. Nay, do but observe, those of the saints that are now most rejected by them, even from them shall they be glad of comfort, if it might be. Send Lazarus; he that I slighted more than my dogs, he that I could not endure should come into my house, but must lie at my gate, send him. Now Lazarus shall be welcome to me, now do I desire some comfort from him; but he shall go without it.
From whence again observe, that there is a time coming, O ye surly dogged persecutors of the saints, that they shall slight you as much as ever you slighted them. You have given them many an hard word, told many a lie of them, given them many a blow. And now in your greatest need and extremity they shall not pity you, the righteous shall rather 'rejoice when he seeth the vengeance' of God upon thee (Psa 58:10).
Again, Send Lazarus. From whence observe, that any of the saints shall then be owned by you to be saints. Now you look upon them to be the sect with Hymeneus and Philetus, but then you shall see them to be the Lazaruses of God, even God's dear children. Though now the saints of the Lord will not be owned by you, because they are beggarly, low, poor, contemptible among you; yet the day is coming that you shall own them, desire their company, and wish for the least courtesy from them.
'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
Thus shall the souls that abide in their sins cry out in the bitterness of their spirits, with wonderful anguish and torment of conscience, without intermission; 'That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' That he, namely, the man who before I scorned should eat with the dogs of my flock, that before I slighted and had no regard of, that I shut out of door; send him, 'that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
Now these words, 'that he may dip the tip of his finger in water,' &c., do hold forth the least friendship or favour; as if he should have said, Now I would be glad of the least mercy, now I would be glad of the least comfort, though it be but one drop of cold water on the tip of his finger. One would have thought that this had been a small request, a small courtesy–ONE DROP OF WATER–what is that? Take a pail full of it if that will do thee any good. But mark, he is not permitted to have so much as one drop, not so much as a man may hold upon the tip of his finger; this signifies that they that fall short of Christ shall be tormented even as long as eternity lasteth, and shall not have so much as the least ease, no not so long as while a man may turn himself round, not so much leave as to swallow his spittle, not a drop of cold water.
O that these things did take place in your hearts, how would it make you to seek after rest for your souls before it be too late, before the sun of the gospel be set upon you! Consider, I say, the misery of the ungodly that they shall be in, and avoid their vices, by closing in with the tenders of mercy; lest you partake of the same portion with them, and cry out in the bitterness of your souls, One drop of cold water to cool my tongue.
'For I am tormented in this flame.'
Indeed, the reason why the poor world does not so earnestly desire for mercy, is partly because they do not so seriously consider the torment that they must certainly fall into if they die out of Christ. For let me tell you, did but poor souls indeed consider that wrath, that doth by right fall to their shares because of their sins against God, they would make more haste to God through Christ for mercy than they do; then we should have them say, It is good closing with Christ to-day, before we fall into such distress.
But why is it said, Let him 'dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue?' Because that, as the several members in the body have their share in sin, and committing of that, so the several members of the body shall at that time be punished for the same. Therefore, when Christ is admonishing his disciples, that they should not turn aside from him, and that they should rather fear and dread the power of their God than any other power, he saith, 'Fear him,' therefore, that can cast both body and soul into hell (Luke 12:4). And again, 'Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell' (Matt 10:28). Here is not one member only, but all the body, the whole body of which the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongue are members. And I am persuaded, that though this may be judged carnal by some now, yet it will appear to be a truth then, to the greater misery of those who shall be forced to undergo that which God, in his just judgment, shall inflict upon them. O then they will cry, One dram of ease for my cursing, swearing, lying, jeering tongue. Some ease for my bragging, braving, flattering, threatening, dissembling tongue. Now men can let their tongues run at random, as we used to say; now they will be apt to say, Our tongues are our own, who shall control them? (Psa 12:4). But then they will be in another mind. Then, O that I might have a little ease for my deceitful tongue? Methinks sometimes to consider how some men do let their tongues run at random, it makes me marvel. Surely they do not think they shall be made to give an account for their offending with their tongue. Did they but think they shall be made to give an account to him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead, surely they would be more wary of, and have more regard unto their tongue.
'The tongue,' saith James, 'is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison'; 'it setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell' (James 2). The tongue, how much mischief will it stir up in a very little time! How many blows and wounds doth it cause! How many times doth it, as James saith, curse man! How oft is the tongue made the conveyer of that hellish poison that is in the heart, both to the dishonour of God, the hurt of its neighbours, and the utter ruin of its own soul! And do you think the Lord will sit still, as I may say, and let thy tongue run as it lists, and yet never bring you to an account for the same? No, stay. The Lord will not always keep silence, but will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before thine eyes, O sinner. Yea, and thy tongue, together with the rest of thy members, shall be tormented for sinning. And I say, I am very confident, that though this be made light of now, yet the time is coming when many poor souls will rue the day that ever they did speak with a tongue. O, will one say, that I should so disregard my tongue! O that I, when I said so and so, had before bitten off my tongue! That I had been born without a tongue! my tongue, my tongue, a little water to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame; even in that flame that my tongue, together with the rest of my members, by sinning, have brought me to. Poor souls now will let their tongues say anything for a little profit, for two- pence or three-pence gain. But, O what a grief will this be at that day when they, together with their tongue, must smart for that which they by their tongues have done while they were in this world. Then, you that love your souls, look to your tongues, lest you bind yourselves down so fast to hell with the sins of your tongues, that you will never be able to get loose again to all eternity. 'For by thy words thou shalt be condemned,' if thou have not a care of thy tongue. For 'I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt 12:36).
Verse 25.– 'But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.'
These words are the answer to the request of the damned. The verse before, as I told you, is a discovery of the desires they have after they depart this world. Here is the answer, 'Son, remember,' &c.
The answer signifies this much, that, instead of having any relief or ease they are hereby the more tormented, and that by fresh recollections, or by bringing afresh their former ill- spent life, while in the world, into their remembrance. Son, remember thou hadst good things in thy lifetime; as much as if he had said, Thou art now sensible what it is to lose thy soul; thou art now sensible what it is to put off repentance; thou art now sensible that thou hast befooled thyself, in that thou didst spend that time in seeking after outward, momentary, earthly things, which thou shouldest have spent in seeking to make Jesus Christ sure to thy soul; and now, through thy anguish of spirit, in the pains of hell thou wouldst enjoy that which in former time thou didst make light of; but alas! thou art here beguiled and altogether disappointed, thy crying will now avail thee nothing at all; this is not the acceptable time (2 Cor 6:2). This is not a time to answer the desires of damned reprobates; if thou hadst cried out in good earnest whilst grace was offered, much might have been; but then thou wast careless, and didst turn the forbearance and goodness of God into wantonness. Wast thou not told, that those who would not hear the Lord when he did call, should not be heard, if they turned away from him, when they did call. But contrariwise he would laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear did come (Prov 1:24-28).
Now, therefore, instead of expecting the least drop of mercy and favour, call into thy mind how thou didst spend those days which God did permit thee to live; I say, remember that in thy lifetime thou didst behave thyself rebelliously against the Lord, in that thou wert careless of his word and ordinances, yea, and of the welfare of thine own soul also. Therefore, now I say, instead of expecting or hoping for any relief, thou must be forced to call to remembrance thy filthy ways, and feed upon them, to thine everlasting astonishment and confusion.
From these words, therefore, which say, 'Remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst THY GOOD THINGS,' there are these things to be taken notice of,
First. They that, by putting off repentance and living in their sins, lose their souls, shall, instead of having the least measure of comfort when they come into hell, have their ill-spent life always very fresh in their remembrance. While they live here they can sin and forget it, but when they depart they shall have it before them; they shall have a remembrance, or their memory notably enlightened, and a clearer, and a continual sight of all their wicked practices that they wrought and did while they were in the world. 'Son, remember,' saith he; then you will be made to remember: 1. How you were born in sin, and brought up in the same. 2. Remember how thou hadst many a time the gospel preached to thee for taking away of the same, by him whom the gospel doth hold forth. 3. Remember that out of love to thy sins and lusts, thou didst turn thy back on the tenders of the same gospel of good tidings and peace. 4. Remember that the reason why thou didst lose thy soul, was because thou didst not close in with free grace, and the tenders of a loving and free-hearted Jesus Christ. 5. Remember how near thou wast to turning at such and such a time, only thou wast willing to give way to thy lusts when they wrought; to drunkards when they called; to pleasures when they proffered themselves; to the cares and incumbrances of the world, which, like so many thorns, did choke that or those convictions that were set on thy heart. 6. Remember how willing thou wast to satisfy thyself with a hypocrite's hope, and with a notion of the things of God, without the real power and life of the same. 7. Remember how thou, when thou wast admonished to turn, didst put off turning and repenting till another time. 8. Remember how thou didst dissemble at such a time, lie at such a time, cheat thy neighbour at such a time, mock, flout, scoff, taunt, hate, persecute, the people of God at such a time, in such a place, among such company. 9. Remember that while others were met together in the fear of the Lord to seek him, thou wast met with a company of vain companions to sin against him; whilst the saints were a praying, thou wert a cursing; while they were speaking good of the name of God, thou wast speaking evil of the saints of God. O then thou shalt have a scalding hot remembrance of all thy sinful thoughts, words, and actions, from the very first to the last of them that ever thou didst commit in all thy life-time. Then thou wilt find that scripture to be a truth, 'The Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see' (Deut 28:65-67). Nay, thou wilt find worse things to thy woe than this scripture doth manifest. For, indeed, there is no tongue able to express the horror, terror, torment, and eternal misery that those poor souls shall undergo, without the least mitigation of ease, and a very great part of it shall come from that quick, full, and continual remembrance of their sins that they shall have. And, therefore, there is much weight in these words, 'Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.'
From these words you see this is to be observed, That the ungodly shall remember, or have in remembrance, the misspending their lives; 'Remember that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things.' You may take these words, good things, either simply for the things of this world, which in themselves are called, and may be called good things; or else with these words, namely, the things of this life, all the pleasures, delights, profits, and vanities, which the ignorant people of the world do count their good things, and do very much cheer themselves therewith. Soul, soul, eat, drink, and be merry; for thou hast much goods laid up for many years (Luke 12:19,20). Now I say, God, according to his glorious power and wisdom, will make poor creatures have always in their minds a fresh and clear remembrance of their ill-spent life; he will say unto them, Remember, remember, that in thy lifetime it was thus and thus with thee, and in thy lifetime thy carriage was so and so.
If sinners might have their choice, they would not have their sins and transgressions so much in the remembrance, as it is evident by their carriages here in this world; for they will not endure to entertain a serious thought of their filthy life, they 'put far away the evil day' (Amos 6:3; Eze 12:27); but will labour by all means to put the thoughts of it out of their mind; but there they shall be made to remember to purpose, and to think continually of their ungodly deeds. And therefore it is said, that when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to judgment, it will be to convince the ungodly world of their wicked and ungodly deeds; mark, 'to convince' them (Jude 14,15). They will not willingly take notice of them now. But then they shall hereafter, in spite of their teeth. And also, between this and then, these that die out of Christ shall be made to see, acknowledge, and confess, do what they can, when they lift up their eyes in hell, and remember their transgressions. God will be a swift witness against them (Mal 3:5), and will say, Remember that thou didst in thy lifetime, how thou didst live in thy lifetime. Ha, friend! if thou dost not in these days of light 'remember the days of darkness' (Eccl 11:8), the days of death, hell, and judgment, thou shalt be made in the days of darkness, death, hell, and at the judgment too, to remember the days of the gospel, and how thou didst disregard them too, to thy own destruction, and everlasting misery. This is intimated in that 25th of St. Matthew.
'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.'
The great God, instead of giving the ungodly any ease, will even aggravate their torments; first, by slighting their perplexities, and by telling of them what they must be thinking of. Remember, saith he, O ye lost souls, that you had your joy in your lifetime, your peace in your lifetime, your comforts, delights, ease, wealth, health, your heaven, your happiness, and your portion in your lifetime.
O miserable state! Thou wilt then be in a sad condition indeed, when thou shalt see that thou hast had thy good things, thy best things, thy pleasant things; for that is clearly signified by these words, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,' or all the good things thou art like to have.
Second. From whence take notice of another truth, though it be a dreadful one, which is this; there are many poor creatures, who have all their good, sweet, and comfortable things in this life, or while they are alive in this world; 'Remember,' saith he, 'that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things' (Psa 17:14).
The wicked's good things will shortly have an end; they will last no longer with them than this life, or their lifetime. That scripture was not written in vain; it is like the crackling of thorns under a pot, make a little blaze for a sudden, a little heat for a while; but come and consider them by and by, and instead of a comfortable heat, you will find nothing but a few dead ashes; and instead of a flaming fire, nothing but a smell of smoke.
There is a time coming, that the ungodly would be glad of a better portion, when they shall see the vanity of this, that is, when they shall see what a poor thing it is for a man to have his portion in this world. It is true, while they are here on this side hell, they think there is nothing to be compared with riches, honours, and pleasures in this world; which makes them cry out, 'Who will shew us any good?' (Psa 4:6). That is comparable to the pleasures, profits, and glory of this world? But then they will see there is another thing that is better, and of more value than ten thousand worlds. And seriously, friends, will it not grieve you, trouble, perplex, and torment you, when you shall see that you lost heaven for a little pleasure and profit in your lifetime? Certainly, it will grieve you and perplex you exceedingly, to see what a blessed heaven you left for a dunghill-world. O! that you did but believe this! that you did but consider this, and say within yourselves, What! shall I be contented with my portion in this world! what! shall I lose heaven for this world! I say, consider it while you have day-light, and gospel-light, while the Son of God doth hold out terms of reconciliation to you, lest you be made to hear such a voice as this is, 'Son, remember that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things'; thy comforts, thy joys, thy ease, thy peace, and all the heaven thou art like to have. O poor heaven! O short pleasures!
What a pitiful thing it is to be left in such a case? Soul, consider, is it not miserable to lose heaven for twenty, thirty, or forty years' sinning against God? When thy life is done, thy heaven is also done? when death comes to separate thy soul and body, in that day also thou must have thy heaven and happiness separated from thee, and thou from that. Consider these things betimes, lest thou have thy portion in thy lifetime. 'For if in this life only we have hope,' our portion, 'we are of all men most miserable' (1 Cor 15:19). Again consider, that when other men, the saints, are to receive their good things, then thou hast had thine. When others are to enter into joy, then thou art to leave and depart from thy joy. When others are to go to God, thou must go to the devil. O miserable! Thou hadst better thou hadst never been born, than to be an heir of such a portion; therefore, I say, have a care it be not thy condition.
'Remember that thou receivedst thy good things, and LAZARUS EVIL THINGS.'
These words do not only hold forth the misery of the wicked in this life, but also great consolation to the saints; where he saith, 'And Lazarus evil things'; that is, Lazarus had his evil things in his lifetime, or when he was in the world. From whence observe,
1. That the life of the saints, so long as they are in this world, is attended with many evils or afflictions; which may be discovered to be of divers natures; as saith the Scripture, 'Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all' (Psa 34:19).
2. Take notice, that the afflictions or evils that accompany the saints, may continue with them their lifetime, so long as they live in this vale of tears; yea, and they may be divers, that is, of several sorts; some outward, some inward, and that as long as they shall continue here below, as hath been the experience of all saints in all ages; and this might be proved at large, but I only hint in these things, although I might enlarge much upon them.
3. The evils that do accompany the saints will continue with them no longer than their lifetime; and here indeed lies the comfort of believers, the Lazaruses, the saints, they must have all their bitter cup wrung out to them in their lifetime. Here must be all their trouble, here must be all their grief; Behold, saith Christ, 'the world shall rejoice, but ye shall lament; but your mourning' shall, mark, it 'shall be turned into joy' (John 16:20). You shall lament, you shall be sorrowful, you shall weep in your lifetime; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy, and your joy no man, let him be what he will, no man shall take away from you. Now if you think, when I say the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, that I mean, they have nothing else but trouble in this their lifetime, this is your mistake. For let me tell you, that though the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, yet even in their lifetime they have also joy unspeakable, and full of glory, while they look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen. The joy that the saints have sometimes in their heart, by a believing consideration of the good things to come, when this life is ended, doth fill them fuller of joy, than all the crosses, troubles, temptations, and evils, that accompany them in this life can fill them with grief (2 Cor 4).
But some saints may say, My troubles are such as are ready to overcome me. Answ. Yet be of good comfort, they shall last no longer than thy lifetime. But my trouble is, I am perplexed with a heart full of corruption and sin, so that I am much hindered in walking with God. Answ. It is like so, but thou shalt have these troubles no longer than thy lifetime. But I have a cross husband, and that is a great grief to me. Well, but thou shalt be troubled with him no longer than thy lifetime, and therefore be not dismayed, be not discomforted, thou shalt have no trouble longer than this lifetime. Art thou troubled with cross children, cross relations, cross neighbours? They shall trouble thee no longer than this lifetime.
Art thou troubled with a cunning devil, with unbelief; yea, let it be what it will, thou shalt take thy farewell of them all, if thou be a believer, after thy lifetime is ended. O! excellent! 'Then God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes; and there shall be no more death nor sorrow, neither crying, nor any more pain; for the former things are passed away' (Rev 21:4). But now on the contrary, if thou be not a right and sound believer; then, though thou shouldest live a thousand years in this world, and meet with sore afflictions every day, yet these afflictions, be they never so great and grievous, they are nothing to that torment that will come upon thee, both in soul and in body, after this life is ended.
I say, be what thou wilt, if thou be found in unbelief, or under the first covenant, thou are sure to smart for it at the time when thou dost depart this world. But the thing to be lamented is, for all this is so sad a condition to be fallen into, yet poor souls are, for the most part, senseless of it, yea, so senseless, at some times, as though there was no such misery to come hereafter. Because the Lord doth not immediately strike with his sword, but doth bear long with his creature, waiting that he might be gracious. Therefore, I say, the hearts of some of the sons of men are wholly set upon it to do mischief (Eccl 8:11). And that forbearance and goodness of God, that one would think should lead them to repentance; the devil hardening of them, by their continuing in sin, and by blinding their eyes, as to the end of God's forbearance towards then, they are led away with a very hardened and senseless heart, even until they drop into eternal destruction.
But poor hearts, they must have a time in which they must be made sensible of their former behaviors, when the just judgments of the Lord shall flame about their ears, insomuch, that they shall be made to cry out again with anguish, I am sorely 'tormented in this flame.'
'But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.' As if he should say, Now hath God recompensed both Lazarus and you, according to what you sought after while you were in this world. As for your part, you did neglect the precious mercy and goodness of God, you did turn your back on the Son of God, that came into the world to save sinners; you made a mock of preaching the gospel; you was admonished over and over, to close in with the loving kindness of the Lord, in his Son Jesus Christ. The Lord let you live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years; all which time you, instead of spending it 'to make your calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10), did spend it in making of eternal damnation sure to thy soul (Job 21:29,30). And also Lazarus, he in his lifetime did make it his business to accept of my grace and salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. When thou wast in the ale-house, he frequented the word preached; when thou wert jeering at goodness, he was sighing to the sins of the times (Eccl 9:4-6). While thou wert swearing, he was praying; in a word, while thou wert making sure of eternal ruin, he, by faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, was making sure of eternal salvation. Therefore, 'Now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.'
Here, then, you may see, that as the righteous shall not be always void of comfort and blessedness; so neither shall the ungodly go always without their punishment. As sure as God is in heaven, it will be thus. They must have their several portions. And, therefore, you that are the saints of the Lord, follow on, be not dismayed, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). Your portion is eternal glory. And you that are so loth now to close in with Jesus Christ, and to leave your sins to follow him, your 'day is coming' (Psa 37:13), in which you shall know, that your sweet morsels of sin, that you do so easily take down (Job 20:12-14), and it scarce troubles you, will have a time so to work within you to your eternal ruin, that you will be in a worse condition than if you had ten thousand devils tormenting of you. Nay, you had better have been plucked limb from limb a thousand times, if it could be, than to be partakers of this torment that will, assuredly without mercy, lie upon you.
Verse 26.– 'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.'
These words are still part of that answer, that the souls in hell shall have for all their sobbings, sighings, grievous cries, tears, and desires, that they have, to be released out of those intolerable pains they feel, and are perplexed with. And O! methinks the words at the first view, if rightly considered, are enough to make any hard-hearted sinner in the world to fall down dead. The verse I last spake to was and is a very terrible one, and aggravates the torments of poor sinners wonderfully. Where he saith, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus evil things,' &c. I say, these words are very terrible to those poor souls that die out of Christ. But these latter words do much more hold out their sorrow. They were spoken as to the present condition then upon the sinner. These do not only back the former, but do yet further aggravate their misery, holding forth that which will be more intolerable. The former verse is enough to smite any sinner into a swoon, but this is to make him fall down dead. Where he saith, 'And beside all this.' There is still something to aggravate thy misery yet far more abundantly. I shall briefly speak to the words as they have relation to the terror spoken of in the verses before. As if he had said, Thou thinkest thy present state unsupportable, it makes thee sob and sigh, it makes thee to rue the time that ever thou wert born. Now thou findest the want of mercy; now thou wouldst leap at the least dram of it: now thou feelest what it is to slight the tenders of the grace of God; now it makes thee to sob, sigh, and roar exceedingly for the anguish that thou art in. 'But beside all this,' I have other things to tell thee of, that will break thine heart indeed. Thou art now deprived of a being in the world; thou art deprived of hearing the gospel; the devil hath been too hard for thee, and hath made thee miss of heaven; thou art now in hell among an innumerable company of devils, and all thy sins beset thee round; thou art all over wrapped in flames, and canst not have one drop of water to give thee any ease; thou criest in vain, for nothing will be granted. Thou seest the saints in heaven, which is no small trouble to thy damned soul; thou seest that neither God nor Christ takes any care to ease thee, or speak any comfort unto thee. 'But beside all this,' there thou art, and there thou art like to lie, never think of any ease, never look for any comfort; repentance now will do thee no good, the time is past, and can never be called again, look what thou hast now, thou must have for ever.
It is true, I spoke enough before to break thine heart asunder; 'But beside all this,' there lie and swim in flames for ever. These words, 'Beside all this,' are terrible words indeed. I will give you the scope of them in a similitude. Set the case you should take a man, and tie him to a stake, and with red-hot pinchers, pinch off his flesh by little pieces for two or three years together, and at last, when the poor man cries out for ease and help, the tormentors answer, Nay, 'but beside all this,' you must be handled worse. We will serve you thus these twenty years together, and after that we will fill your mangled body full of scalding lead, or run you through with a red-hot spit; would not this be lamentable? Yet this is but a flea-biting to the sorrow of those that go to hell; for if a man were served so there would, ere it were long, be an end of him. But he that goes to hell shall suffer ten thousand times worse torments than these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them. There they shall be ever whining, pining, weeping, mourning, ever tormented without ease; and yet never dissolved into nothing. If the biggest devil in hell might pull thee all to pieces, and rend thee small as dust, and dissolve thee into nothing, thou wouldst count this a mercy. But here thou mayst lie and fry, scorch, and broil, and burn for ever. For ever, that is a long while, and yet it must be so long. 'Depart from me, ye cursed,' saith Christ, 'into everlasting fire,' into the fire that burns for ever, 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). O! thou that wast loth to foul thy foot if it were but dirty, or did but rain; thou that was loth to come out of the chimney-corner, if the wind did but blow a little cold; and was loth to go half-a- mile, yea, half-a-furlong to hear the word of God, if it were but a little dark; thou that wast loth to leave a few vain companions, to edify thy soul; thou shalt have fire enough, thou shalt have night enough, and evil company enough, thy bellyfull, if thou miss of Jesus Christ; and 'beside all this,' thou shalt have them for ever, and for ever.
O thou that dost spend whole nights in carding and dicing, in rioting and wantonness; thou that countest it a brave thing to swear as fast as the bravest, to spend with the greatest spendthrift in the country; thou that lovest to sin in a corner when nobody sees thee! O thou that for bye-ends dost carry on the hypocrite's profession, because thou wouldst be counted somebody among the children of God, but art an enemy to the things of Christ in thine heart. Thou that dost satisfy thyself, either with sins, or a bare profession of godliness, thy soul will fall into extreme torment and anguish, so soon as ever thou dost depart this world, and there thou shalt be weeping and gnashing thy teeth (Matt 8:12). 'And beside all this,' thou art like never to have any ease or remedy, never look for any deliverance, thou shalt die in thy sins, and be tormented as many years as there are stars in the firmament, or sands on the seashore; 'and beside all this,' thou must abide it for ever.
'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.' 'There is a great gulf fixed.' You will say, what is that? Answ. It is a nice question; therefore,
1. See thou rather to enter in at the strait gate, than curiously to inquire what this gulf is. But,
2. If thou wouldst needs know if thou do fall short of heaven, thou wilt find it this, namely, the everlasting decree of God; that is, there is decree gone forth from God, that those who fall short of heaven in this world, God is resolved they shall never enjoy it in the world to come. And thou wilt find this gulf so deep, that thou shalt never be able to wade through it as long as eternity lasts. As Christ saith, 'Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him' (Matt 5:25); 'lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. I tell thee thou shalt by no means come out thence,' there is the gulf, the decree, 'thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the' utmost farthing, or 'very last mite' (Luke 12:58,59). These words therefore, 'there is a great gulf fixed,' I do understand to be the everlasting decree of God. God hath decreed that those who go to heaven shall never go from thence again into a worse place; and also those that go to hell, and would come out, they shall not come out thence again. And friend, this is such a gulf, so fixed by him that cannot lie, that thou wilt find it so, which way soever thou goest, whether it be to heaven or hell.
Here therefore thou seest how secure God will make those who die in the faith; God will keep them in heaven; but those that die in their sins, God will throw them to hell and keep them there; so that they that would go from heaven to hell, cannot; neither can they come from hell that would go to heaven. Mark, he doth not say, they would not–for, O how fain would these who have lost their souls for a lust, for two-pence, for a jug of ale, for a strumpet, for this world, come out of that hot scalding fiery furnace of God's eternal vengeance, if they might–but here is their misery, they that would come from you to us, that is, from hell to heaven, cannot, they must not, they shall not; they cannot, God hath decreed it, and is resolved the contrary; here therefore lies the misery, not so much that they are in hell, but there they must lie for ever and ever. Therefore, if thy heart would at any time tempt thee to sin against God, cry out, No, for then I must go to hell, and lie there for ever. If the drunkards, swearers, liars, and hypocrites did but take this doctrine soundly down, it would make them tremble when they think of sinning. But poor souls, now they will 'make a mock of sin' (Prov 14:9), and play with it as a child doth play with a rattle; but the time is coming, that these rattles that now they play with will make such a noise in their ears and consciences, that they shall find, that if all the devils in hell were yelling at their heels, the noise would not be comparable to it. Friend, thy sins, as so many bloodhounds, will first hunt thee out (Num 32:23), and then take thee and bind thee, and hold thee down for ever (Prov 5:22). They will gripe thee and gnaw thee as if thou hadst a nest of poisonous serpents in thy bowels (Job 20:14). And this will not be for a time, but, as I have said, for ever, for ever, for ever.
Verse 27.– 'Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house.'
The verses before, I told you, were spoken partly to hold forth the desire that the damned have to be freed of their endless misery. Now this verse still holds forth the cries of those poor souls very vehement, they would very fain have something granted to them, but it will not be; as will more clearly appear afterward.
'Then he said, I PRAY THEE THEREFORE, FATHER,' &c. As if he should say, seeing I have brought myself into such a miserable condition, that God will not regard me, that my exceeding loud and bitter cries will not be heard for myself; seeing I must not be admitted to have so much as one drop of cold water, nor the least help from the poorest saints. And seeing, 'beside all this,' here my soul must lie to all eternity, broiling and frying; seeing I must, whether I will or no, undergo the hand of eternal vengeance, and the rebukes of devouring fire; seeing my state is such, that I would not wish a dog in my condition, 'send him to my father's house.' It is worthy to be taken notice of, again, who it is he desired to be sent, namely, Lazarus. O friend, see here how the stout hearts and stomachs of poor creatures will be humbled, as I said before, they will be so brought down, that those things that they disdained and made light of in this world, they would be glad of in the life to come. He who by this man was so slighted, as that he thought it a dishonour that he should eat with the dogs of his flock. What, shall I regard Lazarus, scrubbed, beggarly Lazarus! what, shall I so far dishonour my fair, sumptuous, and gay house, with such a scabbed creep-hedge as he! No, I scorn he should be entertained under my roof. Thus in his lifetime, while he was in his bravery; but now he is come into another world, now he is parted from his pleasures, now he sees his fine house, his dainty dishes, his rich neighbours and companions, and he, are parted asunder; now he finds instead of pleasures, torments; instead of joys, heaviness; instead of heaven, hell; instead of the pleasures of sin, the horror and guilt of sin; O now send Lazarus!
Lazarus, it may be, might have done him some good, if he might have been entertained in time past, and might have persuaded him, at least not to have gone on so grievously wicked, but he slights him, he will not regard him, he is resolved to disown him, though he lose his own soul for so doing. Ay, but now send Lazarus, if not to me, yet to my father's house, and let him tell them, from me, that if they run on in sin, as I have done, they must and shall receive the same wages that I have received.
Take notice of this, you that are despisers of the least of the Lazaruses of our Lord Jesus Christ; it may be now you are loth to receive these little ones of his, because they are not gentlemen, because they cannot, with Pontius Pilate, speak Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Nay, they must not, shall not speak to them, to admonish them, and all because of this.
Though now the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached to them freely, and for nothing; nay, they are now desired to hear and receive it: though now they will not own, regard, or embrace these Christian proffers of the glorious truth of Jesus, because they come out of some of the basest earthen vessels; yet the time is coming, when they will both sigh and cry, Send him to my father's house (1 Cor 1:26). I say, remember this, ye that despise the day of small things; the time is coming, when you would be glad, if you might enjoy from God, from Christ, or his saints, one small drop of cold water, though now you are unwilling to receive the glorious distilling drops of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Again, see here the lamentable state they are in, that go to hell from their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, &c. While they are in this world, men delight to set their children ill examples; and also children love to follow the wicked steps of their ungodly parents; but when they depart this life, and drop down into hell, and find themselves in irrecoverable misery, then they cry, send some body to my father's house, to my brother's house. Tell them my state is miserable, tell them I am undone for ever; and tell them also, that if they will be walking in these ungodly steps wherein I left them, they will assuredly fall into this place of torments.
'I pray thee – SEND HIM TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE.' Ah, friends and neighbours, it is like you little think of this, that some of your friends and relations are crying out in hell, Lord, send some body to my father's house, to preach the gospel to them, lest they also come into these torments.
Here, men while they live, can willingly walk together in the way of sin, and when they are parted by death, they that are living, seldom or never consider of the sad condition that they that are dead are descended into. But ye ungodly fathers, how are your ungodly children roaring now in hell? And you ungodly children, how are your ungodly parents that lived and died ungodly, now in the pains of hell also? And one drunkard is singing on the ale bench, and another roaring under the wrath of God, saying, O that I was with him, how would I rebuke him, and persuade him by all means to leave off these evil courses. O! that they did but consider what I now suffer for pride, covetousness, drunkenness, lying, swearing, stealing, whoring, and the like. O! did they but feel the thousandth part thereof, it would make them look about them, and not buy sin at so dear a rate as I have done; even with the loss of my precious soul.
'Send him to my father's house.' Not to my father, but to my 'father's house.' It may be there is ungodly children, there is ungodly servants, wallowing in their ungodliness; send him therefore to my father's house. It is like they are still the same that I left them; I left them wicked, and they are wicked still; I left them slighters of the gospel, saints, and ways of God, and they do it still; 'send him to my father's house,' it is like there is but a little between them and the place where I am; send him to-day, before to- morrow, 'lest they also come into the same place of torment. I pray thee that thou wouldst send him.' I beg it on my bended knee, with crying and with tears, in the agony of my soul. It may be they will not consider, if thou do not send him. I left them sottish enough, hardened as well as I; they have the same devil to tempt them, the same lusts and world to overcome them; 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house'; make no delay, lest they lose their souls, lest they come hither: if they do, they are like never to return again. O! little do they think how easily they may lose their souls; they are apt to think their condition to be as good as the best, as I once through ignorance did; but send him, send him without delay, 'lest they also come into this place of torment.' O that thou wouldst give him commission, do thou send him thyself; the time was when I, together with them, slighted those that were sent of God; though we could not deny but that he spake the word of God, and was sent of him, as our consciences told us; yet we preferred the calls of men before the calls of God. For though they had the one, yet because they had not the other in that antichristian way which we thought meet, we could not, would not, either hear him ourselves, nor yet give consent that others should. But now a call from God is worth all. Do THOU 'therefore send him to my father's house.'
The time was, when we did not like it, except it might be preached in the synagogue; we thought it a low thing to preach and pray together in houses. We were too high- spirited, too superstitious; the gospel would not down with us, unless we had it in such a place, by such a man; no, nor then neither effectually. But now, O that I was to live in the world again; and might have that privilege to have some acquaintance with blessed Lazarus, some familiarity with that holy man; what attendance would I give unto his wholesome words! How would I affect his doctrine, and close in with it! How would I square my life thereby! Now therefore, as it is better to hear the gospel under a hedge than to sit roaring in a tavern, it is better to welcome God's begging Lazaruses than the wicked companions of this world. It is better to receive a saint in the name of a saint, a disciple in the name of a disciple, than to do as I have done (Luke 10:16). O! it is better to receive a child of God, that can by experience deliver the things of God, his free love, his tender grace, his rich forbearance, and also the misery of man, if without it, than to be 'daubed with untempered mortar' (Eze 13:10). O! I may curse the day that ever I gave way to the flatteries and fawning of a company of carnal clergymen, but this my repentance is too late; I should have looked about me sooner, if I would have been saved from this woeful place. Therefore send him, not only to the town I lived in, and unto some of my acquaintance, but to my father's house.
In my lifetime I did not care to hear that word that cut me most, and showed me mine estate aright. I was vexed to hear my sins mentioned, and laid to my charge; I loved him best that deceived me most–that said, Peace, peace, when there was no such thing (Jer 5:30,31). But now, O that I had been soundly told of it! O that it had pierced both mine ears and heart, and had stuck so fast that nothing could have cured me, saving the blood of Christ! It is better to be dealt plainly with, than that we should be deceived; they had better see their lost condition in the world, than stay while they be damned, as I have done. Therefore send Lazarus, send him to my father's house. Let him go and say I saw your son, your brother, in hell, weeping and wailing, and gnashing his teeth. Let him bear them down in it, and tell them plainly it is so, and that they shall see their everlasting misery, if they have not a special care. 'Send him to my father's house.'
Verse 28.– 'For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
These words are, if I may so say, a reason given by those in hell why they are so restless and do cry so loud; it is that their companions might be delivered from those intolerable torments which they must and shall undergo if they fall short of everlasting life by Jesus Christ. 'Send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren.' Though, while they lived among them in the world, they were not so sensible of their ruin, yet now they are passed out of the world, and do partake of that which before they were warned of; they can, I say, then cry out, Now I find that to be true indeed, which was once and again told and declared to me that it would certainly come to pass.
'FOR I HAVE FIVE BRETHREN.' Here you may see that there may be, and are, whole households in a damnable state and condition, as our Lord Jesus doth by this signify. 'Send him to my father's house,' for they are all in one state, I left all my brethren in a pitiful case. People, while they live here, cannot endure to hear that they should be all in a miserable condition; but when they are under the wrath of God they see it, they know it, and are very sure of it; for they themselves, when they were in the world, lived as they do, but they fell short of heaven, and therefore, if they go on, so shall they. O, therefore, send him quickly to my father's house, for all the house is in an undone condition, and must be damned if they continue so.
The thing observable is this, namely, that those that are in hell do not desire that their companions should come thither; nay rather, saith he, send him to my father's house, and let him testify to them that are therein, lest they also come, &c.
Quest. But some may say, What should be the reason that the damned should desire not to have their companions come into the same condition that they are fallen into, but rather that they might be kept from it, and escape that dreadful state?
Answ. I do believe there is scarce so much love in any of the damned in hell as really to desire the salvation of any. But in that there is any desire in them that are damned, that their friends and relations should not come into that place of torment, it appears to me to be rather for their own ease than for their neighbour's good; for, let me tell you, this I do believe, that it will aggravate the grief and horror of them to see their ungodly neighbours in the like destruction with them. For where the ungodly do live and die, and descend into the pit together, the one is rather a vexation to the other than any thing else. And it must needs be so, because there are no ungodly people that do live ungodly together but they do learn ill examples one of another, as thus: If there live one in the town that is very expert and cunning for the world, why now the rest that are of the same mind with him, they will labour to imitate and follow his steps: this is commonly seen.
Again, if there be one given to drunkenness, others of the town, through his means, run the more into that sin with him, and do accustom themselves the more unto it because of his enticing them, and also by setting such an ill example before them. And so if there be any addicted to pride, and must needs be in all the newest fashions, how do their example provoke others to love and follow the same vanity; spending that upon their lusts which should relieve their own and others' wants. Also if there be any given to jesting, scoffing, lying, whoring, backbiting, junketing, wantonness, or any other sin, they that are most expert in these things do ofttimes entangle others, that peradventure would not have been so vile as now they are, had they not had such an example, and hence they are called corrupters (Isa 1:4).
Now these will, by their doings, exceedingly aggravate the condemnation of one another. He that did set his neighbor an ill example, and thereby caused him to walk in sin, he will be found one cause of his friend's destruction, insomuch that he will have to answer for his own sins and for a great part of his neighbour's too, which will add to his destruction; as that scripture in Ezekiel showeth, where, speaking of the watchman that should give the people warning, if he did not, though the man did die in his sins, yet his blood shall be required at the watchman's hand (Eze 33).
So here let me tell thee that if thou shouldst be such a one, as by thy conversation and practices shall be a trap and a stumbling-block to cause thy neighbour to fall into eternal ruin–though he be damned for his own sins–yet God may, nay he will charge thee as being guilty of his blood, in that thou didst not content thyself to keep from heaven thyself, but didst also, by thy filthy conversation, keep away others, and cause them to fall with thee. O, therefore, will not this aggravate thy torment? Yea, if thou shouldst die and go to hell before thy neighbour or companions, besides the guilt of thine own sins, thou wouldst be so loaden with the fear of the damnation of others to be laid to thy charge, that thou wouldst cry out, O send one from the dead to this companion and that companion with whom I had society in my lifetime, for I see my cursed carriage will be one cause of his condemnation, if he fall short of glory.
I left him living in foul and heinous offences; but I was one of the first instruments to bring him to them. O! I shall be guilty both of my own and his damnation too! O that he might be kept out hence, lest my torment be aggravated by his coming hither!
For where ungodly people do dwell together, they being a snare and stumbling-block one to another by their practices, they must needs be a torment one to another, and an aggravation of each other's damnation. O cursed be thy face, saith one, that ever I set mine eyes on thee. It was long of thee. I may thank thee. It was thee that did entice me and ensnare me. It was your filthy conversation that was a stumbling-block to me. It was your covetousness, it was your pride, your haunting the ale-house, your gaming and whoring. It was long of you that I fell short of life; if you had set me a good example, as you did set me an ill one, it may be I might have done better than now I do; but I learned of you, I followed your steps, I took counsel of you. O that I had never seen thy face! O that thou hadst never been born to do my soul this wrong, as you have done! O, saith the other, and I may as much blame you, for do not you remember how at such a time, and at such a time, you drew me out, and drew me away, and asked me if I would go with you, when I was going about other business, about my calling; but you called me away, you sent for me, you are as much in the fault as I; though I were covetous, you were proud; and if you learned covetousness of me, I learned pride and drunkenness of you. Though I learned you to cheat, you learned me to whore, to lie, to scoff at goodness. Though I, base wretch, did stumble you in some things, yet you did as much stumble me in others. I can blame you as you blame me; and if I have to answer for some of your most filthy actions, you have to answer for some of mine. I would you had not come hither, the very looks of you do wound my soul, by bringing my sins afresh into my mind, the time when, the manner how, the place where, the persons with whom. It was with you, you! Grief to my soul! Since I could not shun thy company there, O that I had been without thy company here!
I say, therefore, for those that have sinned together to go to hell together, it will very much perplex and torment them both; therefore I judge this is one reason why they that are in hell do desire that their friends or companions do not come thither into the same place of torment that they are in. And therefore where Christ saith that these damned souls cry out, Send to our companions, that they may be warned and commanded to look to themselves, O send to my five brethren! it is because they would not have their own torments heightened by their company; and a sense, yea, a continual sense of their sins, which they did cause them to commit when they were in the world with them. For I do believe that the very looks of those that have been beguiled of their fellows, I say their very looks will be a torment to them: for thereby will the remembrance of their own sins be kept, if possible, the fresher on their consciences, which they committed with them; and also they will wonderfully have the guilt of the others sins upon them, in that they were partly the cause of his committing them, being instruments in the hands of the devil to draw them in too. And, therefore, lest this come to pass, 'I pray thee send him to my father's house.' For if they might not come hither, peradventure my torment might have some mitigation; that is, if they might be saved, then their sins will be pardoned, and not so heavily charged on my soul. But if they do fall into the same place where I am, the sins that I have caused them to commit will lie so heavy, not only on their souls, but also on mine, that they sin me into eternal misery, deeper and deeper. O therefore send him to my father's house, to my five brethren, and let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.
These words being thus understood, what a condition doth it show them to be in then, that now much delight in being the very ringleaders of their companions into sins of all sorts whatsoever?
While men live here, if they can be counted the cunningest in cheating, the boldest for lying, the archest for whoring, the subtilest for coveting and getting the world; if they can but cunningly defraud, undermine, cross, and anger their neighbours, yea, and hinder them from the means of grace, the gospel of Christ, they glory in it, take a pride in it, and think themselves pretty well at ease, and their minds are somewhat quiet, being beguiled with sin.
But, friend, when thou hast lost this life, and dost begin to lift up thine eyes in hell, and seest what thy sins have brought thee to; and not only so, but that thou, by thy filthy sins, didst cause others, devil-like, to fall into the same condemnation with thee; and that one of the reasons of their damnation was this, that thou didst lead them to the commission of those wicked practices of this world, and the lusts thereof; then, O that somebody would stop them from coming, lest they also come into this place of torment, and be damned as I am! How ill it torment me! Balaam could not be contented to be damned himself, but also he must, by his wickedness, cause others to stumble and fall. The Scribes and Pharisees could not be contented to keep out of heaven themselves, but they must labour to keep out others too. Therefore theirs is the greater damnation.
The deceived cannot be content to be deceived himself; but he must labour to deceive others also. The drunkard cannot be content to go to hell for his own sins, but he must labour to cause others to fall into the same furnace with him. But look to yourselves, for here will be damnation upon damnation, damned for thy own sins, and damned for thy being a partaker with others in their sins; and damned for being guilty of the damnation of others. O how will the drunkards cry for leading their neighbours into drunkenness! How will the covetous person howl for setting his neighbour, his friend, his brother, his children and relations, so wicked an example! by which he hath not only wronged his own soul, but also the souls of others. The liar, by lying, learned others to lie; the swearer learned others to swear; the whoremonger learned others to whore.
Now all these, with others of the like sort, will be guilty, not only of their own damnation, but also of the damnation of others. I tell you, that some men have so much been the authors of the damnation of others, that I am ready to think that the damnation of them will trouble them as much as their own damnation. Some men, it is to be feared, at the day of judgment, will be found to be the authors of destroying whole nations. How many souls do you think Balaam, with his deceit, will have to answer for? How many Mahomet? How many the Pharisees, that hired the soldiers to say the disciples stole away Jesus? (Matt 18:11- 15); and by that means stumbled their brethren to this day; and was one means of hindering them from believing the things of God and Jesus Christ, and so the cause of the damnation of their brethren to this very day.
How many poor souls hath Bonner to answer for, think you, and several filthy blind priests? How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignorance and corrupt doctrine? Preaching, that was no better for their souls than ratsbane to the body, for filthy lucre's sake (O ye priests, this word is for you). They shall see, that they, many of them it is to be feared, will have whole towns to answer for; whole cities to answer for. Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou that hast taken in hand to preach to the people, it may be thou hast taken in hand thou canst not tell what. Will it not grieve thee to see thy whole parish come bellowing after thee to hell, crying out, This we may thank thee for, this is long of thee, thou didst not teach us the truth; thou didst lead us away with fables, thou wast afraid to tell us of our sins, lest we should not put meat fast enough in thy mouth. O cursed wretch, that ever thou shouldst beguile us thus, deceive us thus, flatter us thus! We would have gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and also tell us that that which we see now is the way of God was heresy, and a deceivable doctrine; and wast not contented, blind guide as thou wert, to fall into the ditch thyself, but hast also led us thither with thee.
I say, look to thyself, lest thou cry out when it is too late, Send Lazarus to my people, my friends, my children, my congregation to whom I preached, and beguiled through my folly. Send him to the town in which I did preach last, lest I be the cause of their damnation. Send him to my friends from whence I came, lest I be made to answer for their souls and mine own too (Eze 33:1-6).
O send him therefore, and let him tell them, and testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Consider this, ye that live thus in the world, while ye are in the land of the living, lest you fall into this condition. Set the case thou shouldest by thy carriage destroy but a soul, but one poor soul, by one of thy carriages or actions, by thy sinful works; consider it now, I say, lest thou be forced to cry, 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
If so, then I shall not only say to the blind guides, Look you to yourselves, and shut not out others; no, but this doth reach unto all those that do not only keep souls from heaven by preaching and the like, but speaks forth the doom of those that shall any ways be instrumental to hinder others from closing in with Jesus Christ. O what red lines will those be against all those rich ungodly landlords, that so keep under their poor tenants that they dare not go out to hear the word, for fear their rent should be raised, or they turned out of their houses! What sayest thou, landlord, will it not cut thy soul, when thou shalt see that thou couldest not be content to miss of heaven thyself, but thou must labour to hinder others also? Will it not give thee an eternal wound in thy heart, both at death and judgment, to be accused of the ruin of thy neighbour's soul, thy servant's soul, thy wife's soul, together with the ruin of thy own? Think on this, you drunken, proud, rich, and scornful landlords; think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands, that are against the godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also you that hold your servants so hard to it that you will not spare them time to hear the word, unless it be where and when your lusts will let you. If you love your own souls, your tenants' souls, your wives' souls, your servants' souls, your children's souls; if you would not cry, if you would not howl, if you would not bear the burden of the ruin of others for ever, then I beseech you to consider this doleful story, and labour to avoid the soul-killing torment that this poor wretch groaneth under, when he saith, 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house,
For I have five brethren, THAT HE MAY TESTIFY,' mark, 'that he may testify UNTO THEM, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
These words have still something more in them than I have yet observed from them; there are one or two things more that I shall briefly touch upon, and therefore, mark, he saith, 'That he may testify unto them,' &c. Mark, I pray you, and take notice of the word TESTIFY. He doth not say, And let him go unto them, or speak with, or tell them such and such things. No, but let him testify, or affirm it constantly, in case any should oppose it. 'Let him testify unto them.' It is the same word the Scripture uses to set forth the vehemency of Christ, his telling of his disciples of him that should betray him. And he testified, saying, One of you shall betray me. And he testified, that is, he spake it so as to dash or overcome any that should have said it shall not be. It is a word that signifies, that in case any should oppose the thing spoken of, yet that the party speaking should still continue constant in his saying. And he commanded them to preach, 'and to testify, that it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.' To testify, mark, that is, to be constant, irresistible, undaunted, in case it should be opposed and objected against. So here, let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.
From whence observe, that it is not an easy matter to persuade them who are in their sins alive in this world, that they must and shall be damned if they turn not, and be converted to God. 'Let him testify to them,' let him speak confidently, though they frown upon him, or dislike his way of speaking. And how is this truth verified and cleared by the carriages of almost all men now in the world toward them that do preach the gospel; and show their own miserable state plainly to them, if they close not with it? If a man do but indeed labour to convince sinners of their sins and lost condition by nature, though they must be damned if they live and die in that condition, O how angry are they at it! Look how he judges, say they, hark how he condemns us; he tells us we must be damned if we live and die in this state. We are offended at him, we cannot abide to hear him, or any such as he; we will believe none of them all, but go on in the way we are agoing. 'Forbear, why shouldest thou be smitten,' said the ungodly king to the prophet, when he told him of his sins (2 Chron 25:16).
I say, tell the drunkard he must be damned if he leaves not his drunkenness, the swearer, liar, cheater, thief, covetous, railers, or any ungodly persons, they must and shall lie in hell for it, if they die in this condition; they will not believe you, not credit you.
Again, tell others that there are many in hell that have lived and died in their conditions, and so are they like to be, if they convert not to Jesus Christ, and be found in him, or that there are others that are more civil and sober men, who, although we know that their civility will not save them, if we do but tell them plainly of the emptiness and unprofitableness of that, as to the saving of their souls, and that God will not accept them, nor love them, notwithstanding these things, and that if they intend to be saved, they must be better provided than with such a righteousness as this; they will either fling away, and come to hear no more, or else if they do come, they will bring such prejudice with them in their hearts, that the word preached shall not profit them, it being mixed not with faith, but with prejudice in them that hear it (Heb 4:1,2). Nay, they will some of them be so full of anger that they will break out and call, even those that speak the truth, heretics; yea, and kill them (Luke 4:25-29). And why so? Because they tell them, that if they live in their sins that will damn them; yet if they turn and live a righteous life, according to the holy, and just, and good law of God, that will not save them.
Yea, because we tell them plainly that unless they leave their sins and [self] righteousness too, and close in with a naked Jesus Christ, his blood and merits, and what he hath done, and is now doing for sinners, they cannot be saved; and unless they do eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, they have no life abiding in them, they gravel presently, and are offended at it, as the Jews were with Christ for speaking the same thing to them (John 6:53,60).
And fling away themselves, their souls and all, by quarrelling against the doctrine of the Son of God, as indeed they do, though they will not believe they do; and therefore, he that is a preacher of the Word, had need not only tell them, but testify to them, again and again, that their sins, if they continue in them, will damn them, and damn them again. And tell them again, their living honestly according to the law, their paying every one their own, their living quietly with their neighbours, their giving to the poor, their notion of the gospel, and saying they do believe in Christ, will do them no good at the general day of judgment. Ha, friends! How many of you are there at this very day, that have been told once and again of your lost undone condition, because you want the right, real, and saving work of God upon your souls! I say, hath not this been told you, yea, testified unto you from time to time, that your state is miserable, that yet you are never the better, but do still stand where you did; some in an open ungodly life, and some drowned in a self-conceited holiness of Christianity? Therefore, for God's sake, if you love your souls, consider, and beg of God for Jesus Christ's sake, that he would work such a work of grace in your hearts, and give you such a faith in his Son Jesus Christ, that you may not only have rest here, as you think, not only think your state safe while you live here, but that you may be safe indeed, not only here, but also when you are gone, lest you do cry in the anguish and perplexity of your souls, Send one to my companions that have been beguiled by Satan as I have been, and so, by going on, come into this place of torment as I have done.
Again, one thing more is to be observed from these words, Let him 'testify to them, LEST THEY ALSO COME INTO THIS PLACE OF TORMENT.'
Mark, lest they come in. As if he had said, Or else they will come into this place of torment, as sure as I am here. From whence observe, that though some souls do for sin fall into the bottomless pit of hell before their fellows, because they depart this world before them, yet the other, abiding in the same course, are as sure to go to the same place as if they were there already. How so? Because that all are condemned together, they have all fallen under the same law, and have all offended the same justice, and must for certain, if they die in that condition, drink as deep, if not deeper, of the same destruction. Mark, I pray you, what the Scriptures say, 'He that believeth not, is condemned already' (John 3:18).
He is condemned as well as they, having broken the same law with them; if so, then what hinders but they will partake of the same destruction with them? Only the one hath not the law yet so executed upon them, because they are here; the other have had the law executed upon them, they are gone to drink that which they have been brewing, and thou art brewing that in this life which thou must certainly drink. The same law, I say, is in force against you both, only he is executed and thou art not. Just as if there were a company of prisoners at the bar, and all condemned to die; what, because they are not all executed in one day, therefore shall they not be executed at all? Yes, the same law that executed its severity upon the parties now deceased, will for certain be executed on them that are alive in its appointed time. Even so it is here, we are all condemned by nature; if we close not in with the grace of God by Jesus Christ, we must and shall be destroyed with the same destruction; and 'therefore send him,' saith he, 'LEST,' mark, 'lest they also come into this place of torment.
Again, 'Send him to my father's house,' and let him 'testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' As if he had said, It may be he may prevail with them, it may be he may win upon them, and so they may be kept from hence, from coming into this grievous place of torment. Observe again, that there is a possibility of obtaining mercy, if now, I say, now in this day of grace, we turn from our sins to Jesus Christ; yea, it is more than possible. And therefore, for thy encouragement, do thou know for certain, that if thou shalt in this thy day accept of mercy upon God's own terms, and close with him effectually, God hath promised, yea, made many promises, that thy soul shall be conducted safe to glory, and shall for certain escape all the evils that I have told thee of; aye, and many more than I can imagine. Do but search the Scriptures, and see how full of consolation they are to a poor soul that is minded to close in with Jesus Christ. 'Him that cometh to me,' saith Christ, 'I will in no wise cast out.' Though he be an old sinner, 'I will in no wise cast him out'; mark, in no wise, though he be a great sinner, I will in no wise cast him out, if he come to me. Though he have slighted me never so many times, and not regarded the welfare of his own soul, yet let him now come to me, and notwithstanding this, 'I will in no wise cast him out,' nor throw away his soul (John 6:37). Again, saith the apostle, 'Now,' mark now, 'is the accepted time, now is the day of their salvation.' Now here is mercy in good store, now God's heart is open to sinners; now he will make you welcome; now he will receive anybody if they do but come to Christ. 'He that cometh to me,' saith Christ, 'I will in no wise cast out.' And why? Because 'NOW is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation' (2 Cor 6:2). As if the apostle had said, If you will have mercy, have it now, receive it now, close in with it now.
God hath a certain day to hold out his grace to sinners. Now is the time, now is the day. It is true, there is a day of damnation, but this is a day of salvation. There is a day coming, wherein sinners must cry to the mountains to fall on them, to the hills to cover them from the wrath of God; but now, now is the day in which he doth hold out his grace. There is a day coming, in which you will not be admitted to have the privilege of one drop of water to cool your tongue, if now, I say, if now you slight his grace and goodness which he holds out to you. Ah, friends, consider there is now hopes of mercy, but then there will not; now Christ holds forth mercy unto you, but then he will not (Matt 7:23). Now there are his servants that do beseech you to accept of his grace, but if thou lose the opportunity that is put into thine hand, thou thyself mayest beseech hereafter, and no mercy be given thee. 'And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' And thee was none given. Therefore let it never be said of thee, as it will be said of some, 'Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it?' Seeing he hath no heart to make a good use of it (Prov 17:16). Consider therefore with thyself, and say, It is better going to heaven than hell; it is better to be saved than damned; it is better to be with saints than with damned souls; and to go to God is better than to go to the devil. Therefore 'seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call ye upon him while he is near' (Isa 55:6). Lest in thy trouble he leave thee to thyself, and say unto thee plainly, Where I am, thither 'ye cannot come' (John 8:21).
O if they that are in hell might but now again have one such invitation as this, how would they leap for joy! I have thought sometimes should God send but one of his ministers to the damned in hell, and give him commission to preach the free love of God in Christ extended to them, and held out to them, if now while it is proffered to them they will accept of his kindness; O how welcome would they make this news, and close in with it on any terms! Certainly they would say, we will accept of grace on any terms in the world, and thank you too, though it cost life and limbs to boot; we will spare no cost nor charge, if mercy may be had. But poor souls, while they live here they will not part from sin, with hell-bred devilish sin. No, they will rather lose their souls than lose their filthy sins.
But, friend, thou wilt change thy note before it be long, and cry, O simple wretch that I am that I should damn my soul by sin! It is true, I have had the gospel preached to me, and have been invited in. I have been preached to, and have been warned of this; but 'how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov 5:12,13). O therefore, I say, poor soul! Is there hope? Then lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and kiss the dust, and close in with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make much of his glorious mercy; and invite also thy companions to close in with the same Lord Jesus Christ, lest one of you do go to hell beforehand, and expect with grief of heart your companions to come after; and in the mean time, with anguish of heart, do sigh and say, O send him to my companions, and let him testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.