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careless ; as if we should live so long in time as never to live in eternity, or that our being should end with time? Have not we deserved eternal punishment, as well as they that in eternity are now enduring of it? and do you know you have deserved it, and take no care to prevent it? not so much as ask of God, by serious prayers and tears, that you might not be cast into everlasting burnings? Do you think you can make as light of the wrath of God when you shall feel it in eternity, as you do when you hear of it in time? Can you be merry in the flames of hell ? Can you jest and sport and play, when you shall be filled with the indignation of a provoked God, or when the arrows of the Almighty shall stick so fast as never to be plucked from you? Why, then, do you in time cry out and roar and bitterly complain under the smarting pain that the gout or stone or cholic puts you to? Why do you say, [that] if this were to continue for one year without intermission or mitigation, you had rather die than live? Do not many walk in the broad way that leads to eternal damnation? (Matt. vii. 13, 14.) Are not the holy, humble, penitent ones saved with much difficulty? (1 Peter iv. 18.) Are not many professors gone to hell, and preachers too? (Matt. vij. 12; vii. 22, 23.) And yet is it not time for you in good earnest to mind your eternal state; lest, there being an everlasting kingdom, you should never enter into it; and everlasting torments, and you should feel them to all eternity ?
8. God doth give you all the helps and means you have, that you should make ready for eternity.—Have not you had sermons and sabbaths ? Have not God's ministers preached to you, and warned you from God of the wrath to come, and charged you in the name of God to repent, believe, and turn, and told you [that] you must turn from sin, or burn in hell ? And will you go from hearing on earth, to howlings in hell ? from the light of the gospel, to utter darkness? with the sound of the voice of mercy in your ears ? after a thousand calls to mind your souls, to accept of Christ and remedying grace ? Do you mean to have the hottest place in that infernal lake, the heaviest load of wrath in that eternal furnace? Read, and tremble when you read, Matt. xi. 20—24.
9. This will be approved wisdom ere long by all the sons of men.Those that now do mock at praying, and make a mock of sinning, and deride serious godliness, shall quickly be of another mind; shall confess and know that they were the wisest men that in time prepared for eternity, and they were the fools that spent their time in sin and vanity. Some do say as much when they lie a-dying, and wish, “O that I had been convinced of this, before my time had been so near an end, before my glass had been so nigh out! O my folly! O my vanity! that had eternity to make preparation for, and yet, of all the time I had, I never spent one hour in hearty prayer unto God to save me from everlasting torments! Woe is me! my strength is almost gone; my time is almost gone; and I in danger of eternal torments, that never shall be past and gone!” Or if they be blind or hardened on their death-beds, yet a moment after death they shall be convinced indeed that it was worse than madness to neglect eternity. When stepped into the other world, [they] shall be amazed and confounded, saying, “Where am I now? What a place is this ! what a state is this! I heard of such a place before ; but it is worse than any man's tongue in time could tell. What! is time gone? This is not time. Here is no sun to measure it by its motion; here is no succession of night and day; here is no turning of an hourglass, no striking or telling of clocks; no morning, noon, and evening: this is not time; I see nothing like the things I saw in time. But a little while ago, I was among my friends on earth. Did I say, a little while ago ? Alas! I am but lately come, and this
little while' seems to me a thousand years. No while in this place is little ; and it will never be less, because it doth not go. O, happy they that are in eternity, but in another place than I am in! They were wise indeed that have prevented their coming hither, and are got into a place that is as light as this is dark, as joyful as this is sorrowful, as full of ease as this is of pain : and yet this must last as long as that; and that makes this as bitter and dreadful as that is pleasant and delightful. Wise were they that did foresee while they were in time; but I, like a blind fool, did not see, before I felt, what I must endure for ever. I did not see; but death did draw the curtain, open the door, and let me into an everlasting state ; but, woe is me! it is of misery and damnation.”
You are for being of the mind of the most, and doing that which the generality do approve. Take-in but these words, “first or last," and then do so; even that which all, first or last, shall confess to be truest wisdom; and the neglect of it, folly and madness. God, angels, good men, do all approve of this as sober wisdom; and the devils cannot deny it—and all damned souls in hell; and all the wicked upon earth, as fast as they go down to them, and feel what now they do not believe and fear, shall not deny it—to be wisdom in them that escaped that, and got to a better place in the eternal world.
10. In eternity there will be no mixture.—In the other world there is all pure love, or all pure wrath ; all sweet, or all bitter ; without all pain, or without all ease; without all misery, or without all happiness : not partly at ease, and partly in pain ; partly happy, and partly miserable ; but all the one or the other. This life is a middle place betwixt heaven and hell; and here we partake of some good and some evil. No judgment on this side hell upon the worst of men but there is some mercy mixed with it ; for it is mercy [that] they are yet on this side hell: and no condition on this side heaven but there is some evil mixed with it ; for, till we get to heaven, we shall have sin in us.
In heaven all are good, in hell all are bad; on earth some good, but more bad. In hell misery, without mixture of mercy or of hope: they have no mercy,--and that is bad ; and they can hope for none,—and that is worse. While they be in time, they are pitied ; God dot h pity them, and Christ doth pity them, and good men do pity them; their friends and relations do pity them, pray for them, and weep over them : but when time is past, all pity will be past, and they in misery without pity to all eternity: “ The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation ; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb : and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever : and they have no rest day nor night.” (Rev. xiv. 10, 11.) “No?” Then, for the Lord's sake, for your souls' sake, as upon my knees I beseech you, if you have any dread of God, any fear of hell, any desire of heaven, any care whither you must go, take no rest night or day in time, till you have secured your everlasting happy state, that you might have everlasting rest night and day in eternity; or that you might pass into that eternity where it is always day, and no night; and not into that where it shall be always night, and never day.
Sirs, what say ye? What are ye resolved upon ? To sin still ? or to repent that ye have already sinned, and by the grace of God to sin 80 no more? To work in time, for- things of time? or in time to prepare for eternity ? Will ye obey my message, or will ye not? Speak in time, or, I will not say, hold your peace for ever ; but repent in time, or ye shall cry and roar for ever.
The time of this sermon is out, and the time of your life will be quickly out; and I am afraid I shall leave some of you as unfit for eternity as I found you : and my heart doth tremble, lest death should find you as I shall leave you, and the justice of God and the devils of hell shall find you as death shall leave you ; and then vengeance shall never leave you, and the burning flames, tormenting devils, and the gnawing worm, shall never leave you.
Will ye, then, work it upon your hearts, that ye came into time unfit to go into eternity ? that in time ye have made yourselves more unfit ? that the only remedy is the Lord Jesus Christ, that in the fulness of time did die, that sinners might not be damned for ever? that this crucified Christ will not save you from eternal misery, nor take you to eternal glory, except ye do perform the conditions of the gospel ; without which, his death puts no man into an actual state of happiness ? Ye must repent and be converted; ye must take him for your Saviour and your Lord ; ye must be holy sincerely, hate sin universally, love Christ superlatively; or else the Saviour will not save you, mercy itself will not save you, from everlasting misery. Ye must persevere in all this to the end of your time; and then ye shall be happy in eternity, to eternity.
Otherwise, -[if] ye shall not give audience, Sirs, otherwise ye shall not be happy. “Happy?” No; ye shall be miserable. If the loss of God and Christ and heaven will make you miserable for ever, ye shall be miserable for ever. If the pains of hell, the company of devils, the stingings of conscience, the terrors of darkness, total, final despair of having any end of your damned condition, will make you miserable, ye shall be miserable. If all that God can lay upon you, if all that devils can torment you with, if all that conscience can for ever accuse you for, if all that is in hell, can make you miserable ; except you repent in time, and believe on Christ in time, and be sanctified in time, ye shall be miserable for ever.
Woe is me,
O my God! be thou my witness of this doctrine. All ye that fear God, that hear me this day, bear me witness that I have published this in the ears of all that hear me. Thou conscience, that art in that man that is yet going on in sin and posting with speed to eternal misery, bear me witness now and at the day of judgment, that I told him what must be done upon him, in him, and by him, if he would escape eternal torments. If he will not hearken nor obey while he is in time, conscience, I bespeak thy witness against him, and that thou bring thy accusation against him, and upbraid him to the confusion of his face,—among all the devils in hell; and all that shall be damned with him,—that he was told he could not keep his sins, and be kept out of that place when he died; he could not reject Christ and finally refuse him, and be saved for ever.
Sinner! carest thou not ? wilt thou still on? Good God! must we end thus ? Must I come down without hopes of his repenting ? and he die with foolish hopes of being saved, and after death be cast into that eternity where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched ? But in those endless flames [he] shall cry out and roar, “O cursed caitiff! what did I mean all the while I was in time, to neglect preparation for eternity ? O miserable wretch ! this is a doleful, dreadful state ; and still the more (so), because it is eternal. that I cannot die, nor cease to be! O that God would cut me off! O that devils could tear me into a thousand, thousand pieces ! or that I could use such violence to myself, that I might be no longer what I am, nor where I am! But, alas ! I wish in vain, and all these desires are in vain ; for though the union of my soul and body in my mother's womb was liable to a dissolution, yet since this body did arise out of the bosom of the earth, and is re-united to its soul, [it] admits of no separation for ever ; and, which still is worse, this soul and body, now separated from God and Christ and all that be above in that blessed eternity, must never, never be admitted near unto them. O, cursed be the day that ever I was born! Cursed be that folly and madness that brought me to this cursed place ! for here I lie under extremity of pain, which, if it were for a year or two, or many millions, and then sto] end, would be in this respect exceeding heavy, because it were to last so long ; but that then [it] should be no longer, would make it in the mean while to be the lighter. But when eternity is added to extremity, nothing can be added to make me extremely, because in this extremity I am eternally, miserable. O eternity, eternity! in my condition what is more dreadful than eternity? This fire burns to all eternity; the heavy strokes of revenging justice will be laid on me to all eternity ; I am banished from God and happiness to all eternity. O eternity, eternity! nothing cuts me to the heart like the corroding thoughts of this eternity. I am an object of the wrath of God, of the contempt of angels, of the derision of saints, of the mockings of devils and cursed fiends, to all eternity : I burn, but cannot be consumed ; I toss and roll, and cannot rest to all eternity. 0 eternity, eternity! thou art enough to break my heart and make it die, but that it cannot break nor die to all eternity.”
And if this shall be the doleful language, the direful lamentations, of souls that went Christless out of time into eternity, do ye, while ye are in time, eye eternity in all you do, and get a title to eternal happiness ; or else, when ye are in eternity, ye shall remember that in time ye were forewarned ; which warning, because ye did not take [it], shall be a vexation to your hearts to all eternity.
BY THE REV. MATTHEW BARKER, A.M.
OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
A DISCOURSE OF THE RIGHT WAY OF OBTAINING
TAINING COMMUNION WITH GOD.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship
one with another.-1 John i. 7.
The subject I am to treat upon is communion with God, how to attain it, and how to maintain it, in as constant a course as we may be capable of in this world : and for that end I have chosen this text. My usual course is to provide matter for a text ; but in this lecture I provide a text for the matter I am to treat upon. The subject is high and copious, much spoken of; but, I fear, not so well understood, and less experienced, though the subject mainly relates to Christian experience. Before I come to the subject, I shall speak something of the text upon which it is grounded.
The author of this epistle is St. John, “ John the apostle,” “ John the divine," as he was anciently called ; and he writes this epistle, some think, to the believing Jews only; others think, rather to the whole catholic church ; and the matter of the epistle is partly to distinguish the true and the false Christian, and for that end lays down many signal characters to distinguish them; and partly to vindicate the doctrine of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ the true Messiah,—his person, his natures, and salvation by him alone,—from the many errors that were crept-in by false teachers and seducers in his time; as Cerinthus, Ebion, &c., as he intimates in 1 John ii. 26 : “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” He also vindicates the holiness of the Christian profession from the impure practices of the Nicolaitanes and the Gnostics, who began early to abuse the true liberty of the gospel, and to turn the grace of God into wantonness. And, lastly, he doth earnestly press them to the Christian love of one another, because of the persecutions (which] he saw were coming upon the church from the Roman empire, and the divisions that would arise amongst themselves from many false brethren.