Now then, from what hath been said, there might many things be spoken by way of use and application; but I shall be very brief, and but touch some things, and so wind up. And, First, I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die out of Christ, and speak something to that. Secondly, To the latter end of the parable, which more evidently concerns the Scripture, and speak somewhat to that.
[First. I shall begin with the sad condition of those that die out of Christ.]
1. Therefore you see that the former part of the parable contains a sad declaration of the state of one living and dying out of Christ; how that they lose heaven for hell, God for the devil, light for darkness, joy for sorrow. 2. How that they have not so much as the least comfort from God, who in the time they live here below neglect coming to him for mercy; not so much as one drop of cold water. 3. That such souls will repent of their folly, when repentance will do them no good, or when they shall be past recovery. 4. That all the comfort such souls are like to have, they have it in this world. 5. That all their groanings and sighs will not move God to mitigate in the least his heavy hand of vengeance that is upon them, for the transgression they have committed against him. 6. That their sad state is irrecoverable, or they must never, mark, never come out of that condition. 7. Their desires will not be hard for their ungodly neighbours. From these things then, I pray you consider the state of those that die out of Christ Jesus; yea, I say, consider their miserable state; and think thus with thyself, Well, if I neglect coming to Christ, I must go to the devil, and he will not neglect to fetch me away into those intolerable torments.
Think thus with thyself, What, shall I lose a long heaven for short pleasure? Shall I buy the pleasures of this world at so dear a rate as to lose my soul for the obtaining of that? Shall I content myself with a heaven that will last no longer than my lifetime? What advantage will these be to me when the Lord shall separate soul and body asunder, and send one to the grave, the other to hell, and at the judgment-day, the final sentence of eternal ruin must be passed upon me?
1. Consider, that the profits, pleasures, and vanities of this world will not last for ever, but the time is coming, yea, just at the doors, when they will give thee the slip, and leave thee in the suds, and in the brambles of all that thou hast done. And therefore to prevent this,
2. Consider thy dismal state, think thus with thyself, It is true, I do love my sins, my lusts and pleasures; but what good will they do me at the day of death and of judgment? Will my sins do me good then? Will they be able to help me when I come to fetch my last breath? What good will my profits do me? And what good will my vanities do, when death says he will have no nay? What good will all my companions, fellow-jesters, jeerers, liars, drunkards, and all my wantons do me? Will they help to ease the pains of hell? Will these help to turn the hand of God from inflicting his fierce anger upon me? Nay, will not they rather cause God to show me no mercy, to give me no comfort; but rather to thrust me down in the hottest place of hell, where I may swim in fire and brimstone.
3. Consider thus with thyself, Would I be glad to have all, every one of my sins to come in against me, to inflame the justice of God against me? Would I be glad to be bound up in them as the three children were bound in their clothes, and to be as really thrown into the fiery furnace of the wrath of Almighty God as they were into Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace?
4. Consider thus, Would I be glad to have all, and every one of the ten commandments, to discharge themselves against my soul? The first saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me; the second saying, Damn him, for he hath broken me, &c. Consider how terrible this will be, yea, more terrible than if thou shouldest have ten of the biggest pieces of ordnance in England to be discharged against thy body, thunder, thunder, one after another! Nay, this would not be comparable to the reports that the law, for the breach thereof, will give against thy soul; for those can but kill the body, but these will kill both body and soul; and that not for an hour, a day, a month, or a year, but they will condemn thee for ever.
Mark, it is for ever, for ever. It is into everlasting damnation, eternal destruction, eternal wrath and displeasure from God, eternal gnawings of conscience, eternal continuance with devils. O consider, it may be the thought of seeing the devil doth now make thine hair to stand right up on thine head. O but this, to be damned, to be among all the devils, and that not only for a time, as I said before, but for ever, to all eternity! This is wonderfully miserable, ever miserable; that no tongue of man, no, nor of angels, is able to express it.
5. Consider much with thyself, Not only my sins against the law will be laid to my charge, but also the sins I have committed in slighting the gospel, the glorious gospel. These also must come with a voice against me. As thus, Nay, he is worthy to be damned, for he rejected the gospel, he slighted the free grace of God tendered in the gospel; how many times was thou, damned wretch, invited, intreated, beseeched to come to Christ, to accept of mercy, that thou mightest have heaven, thy sins pardoned, thy soul saved, and body and soul glorified, and all this for nothing but the acceptance, and through faith forsaking those imps of Satan, which by their embracements have drawn thee downward toward the gulf of God's eternal displeasure? How often didst thou read the promises, yea, the free promises of the common salvation! How oft didst thou read the sweet counsels and admonitions of the gospel, to accept of the grace of God! But thou wouldst not, thou regardest it not, thou didst slight all.
Second. As I would have thee to consider the sad and woeful state of those that die out of Christ, and are past all recovery, so would I have thee consider the many mercies and privileges thou enjoyest above some, peradventure, of thy companions that are departed to their proper place. As,
1. Consider, thou hast still the thread of thy life lengthened, which for thy sins might seven years ago, or more, have been cut asunder, and thou have dropped down amongst the flames.
2. Consider the terms of reconciliation by faith in Christ are still proffered unto thee, and thou invited, yea, entreated to accept of them.
3. Consider the terms of reconciliation are but–bear with me though I say but–only to believe in Jesus Christ, with that faith that purifies the heart, and enables thy soul to feed on him effectually, and be saved from this sad state.
4. Consider the time of thy departure is at hand, and the time is uncertain, and also that for ought thou knowest the day of grace may be past to thee before thou diest, not lasting so long as thy uncertain life in this world. And if so, then know for certain that thou art as sure to be damned as if thou wast in hell already; if thou convert not in the meanwhile.
5. Consider it may be some of thy friends are giving all diligence to make their calling and election sure, being resolved for heaven, and thou thyself endeavourest as fast to make sure of hell, as if resolved to have it; and together with this, consider how it will grieve thee that while thou wast making sure of hell thy friends were making sure of heaven; but more of this by and by.
6. Consider what a sad reflection this will have on thy soul, to see thy friends in heaven, and thyself in hell; thy father in heaven, and thou in hell; thy mother in heaven, and thou in hell; thy brother, thy sister, thy children in heaven, and thou in hell. As Christ said to the Jews of their relations according to the flesh, so may I say to thee concerning thy friends, 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,' when you shall see your fathers and mothers, brethren and sisters, husbands and wives, children and kinsfolk, with your friends and neighbours in the kingdom of heaven, and thou thyself thrust out (Luke 13:27-29).
But again, because I would not only tell thee of the damnable state of those that die out of Christ, but also persuade thee to take hold of life, and go to heaven, take notice of these following things.
(1.) Consider that whatever thou canst do, as to thy acceptance with God, is not worth the dirt of thy shoes, but is all 'as filthy rags' (Isa 54:6).
(2.) Consider that all the conditions of the new covenant, as to salvation, are and have been completely fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that for sinners.
(3.) Consider that the Lord calls to thee, for to receive whatsoever Christ hath done, and that on free cost (Rev 22:17).
(4.) Consider that thou canst not honour God more than to close in with his proffers of grace, mercy, and pardon of sin (Rom 4).
Again, that which will add to all the rest, thou shalt have the very mercy of God, the blood of Christ, the preachers of the word, together with every sermon, all the promises, invitations, exhortations, and all the counsels and threatenings of the blessed word of God. Thou shalt have all thy thoughts, words, and actions, together with all thy food, thy raiment, thy sleep, thy goods, and also all hours, days, weeks, months and years, together with whatsoever else God hath given thee. I say, thy abuse of all these shall come up in judgment against thy soul; for God will reckon with thee for everything, whether it be good or bad (Eccl 12:14).
(5.) Nay further, it is so unreasonable a thing for a sinner to refuse the gospel, that the very devils themselves will come in against thee, as well as Sodom, that damned crew. May not they, I say, come in against thee, and say, O thou simple man! O vile wretch! That had not so much care of thy soul, thy precious soul, as the beast hath of its young, or the dog of the very bone that lieth before him. Was thy soul worth so much, and didst thou so little regard it? Were the thunder-claps of the law so terrible, and didst thou so slight them? Besides, was the gospel so freely, so frequently, so fully tendered to thee, and yet hast thou rejected all these things? Hast thou valued sin at a higher rate than thy soul, than God, Christ, angels, saints, and communion with them in eternal blessedness and glory? Wast thou not told of hell-fire, those intolerable flames? Didst thou never hear of the intolerable roarings of the damned ones that are therein? Didst thou never hear or read that doleful saying in Luke 16, how the sinful man cries out among the flames, 'One drop of water to cool my tongue?' Thus, I say, may the very devils, being ready to go with thee into the burning furnace of fire and brimstone, though not for sins of so high a nature as thine, trembling say, O that Christ had died for devils, as he died for man! And, O that the gospel had been preached to us as it hath been to thee! How would we have laboured to have closed in with it! But woe be to us, for we might never have it proffered; no, not in the least, though we would have been glad of it. But you, you have it proffered, preached, and proclaimed unto you (Prov 8:4). Besides, you have been intreated, and beseeched to accept of it, but you would not. O simple fools! that might have escaped wrath, vengeance, hell-fire, and that to all eternity, and had no heart at all to do it.
(6.) May not the messengers of Jesus Christ also come in with a shrill and terrible note against thy soul, when thou standest at the bar of God's justice, saying, Nay, thou ungodly one, how often hast thou been forewarned of this day? Did we not sound an alarm in thine ears, by the trumpet of God's word day after day? How often didst thou hear us tell thee of these things? Did we not tell thee sin would damn thy soul? Did we not tell thee that without conversion there was no salvation? Did we not tell thee that they who loved their sins should be damned at this dark and gloomy day, as thou art like to be? Yea, did we not tell thee that God, out of his love to sinners, sent Christ to die for them, that they might, by coming to him, be saved? Did not we tell thee of these things? Did we not run, ride, labour, and strive abundantly, if it might have been, for the good of thy soul, though now a damned soul? Did we not venture our goods, our names, our lives? Yea, did we not even kill ourselves with our earnest intreaties of thee to consider of thine estate, and by Christ to escape this dreadful day? O sad doom! When thou shalt be forced full sore against thy will to fall under the truth of this judgment, saying, O 'How have I hated instruction, and how hath my heart despised reproof!' for, indeed, 'I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov 5:12,13).
(7.) May not thy father, thy mother, thy brother, thy sister, thy friend, &c., appear with gladness against thee at the terrible day, saying, O thou silly wretch! how rightly hath God met with thee! O how righteously doth his sentence pass upon thee! Remember thou wouldst not be ruled nor persuaded in thy lifetime. As thou didst not care for us and our admonitions then, so neither do we care for thy ruin, terror, and damnation now. No, but we will stand on God's side in sentencing of thee to that portion which the devils must be partakers of. 'The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance, he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked' (Psa 58:10). O sad! It is enough to make mountains tremble, and the rocks rend in pieces, to hear this doleful sound. Consider these things, and if thou wouldst be loth to be in this condition, then have a care of living in sin now. How loth wilt thou be to be thrust away from the gates of heaven! And how loth wilt thou be to be deprived of the mercy of God! How unwillingly wilt thou set foot forward towards the lake of fire! Never did malefactor so unwillingly turn off the ladder when the halter was about his neck, as thou will turn from God to the devil, from heaven to hell, when the sentence is passed upon thy soul.
O how wilt thou sigh and groan! How willingly wouldst thou hide thyself, and run away from justice! But alas! as it is with them that are on the ladder ready to be executed, so it will be with thee. They would fain run away, but there are many halbert-men to stay them. And so the angels of God will beset thee round, I say round on every side; so that thou mayest indeed look, but run thou canst not. Thou mayest wish thyself under some rock, or mountain (Rev 6:15,16), but how to get under, thou knowest not.
O how unwilling wilt thou be to let thy father go to heaven without thee! thy mother or friends, &c., go to heaven without thee! How willingly wouldst thou hang on them, and not let them go! O father! cannot you help me? Mother, cannot you do me some good? O how loth am I to burn and fry in hell, while you are singing in heaven! But alas! the father, mother, or friends reject them, slight them, and turn their backs upon them, saying, You would have none of heaven in your lifetime, therefore you shall have none of it now. You slighted our counsels then, and we slight your tears, cries, and condition now. What sayest thou, sinner? Will not this persuade thine heart, nor make thee bethink thyself? This is now before thou fall into that dreadful place, that fiery furnace. But O consider how dreadful the place itself, the devils themselves, the fire itself will be! And this at the end of all, Here thou must lie for ever! Here thou must fry for ever, and for ever! This will be more to thee than any man with tongue can express, or with pen can write. There is none that can, I say, by the ten thousandth part, discover the state and condition of such a soul.