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ripening daily for útter destruction. (3.) They lie open to fearful additional plagues on their souls, even in this life. First, Sometimes they meet with deadening strokes; silent blows from the hand of an angry God ; arrows of wrath that enter into their souls without noise ; Isa. vi. 10. “* Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes," &c. God strives with them for a while, and convictions enter their consciences; but they rebel against the light; and by a secret judgment, they are knocked on the head; so that, from that time, they do, as it were, live and rot above ground. Their hearts are deadened ; their affections withered ; their consciences stupified; and their whole souls blasted ; « cast forth as a branch and wither. ed,” John xv. 16. They are plagued with judicial blindness. They shut their eyes against the light, and they are given over to the devil, the god of this world, to be blinded more, 2 Cor. iv, 4. Yea, “ God sends zem strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,” 2 Thess. ü. 11. even conscience, like a false light on the shore, leads them upon rocks ; by which they are broken in pieces. They harden themselves against God; and he gives up with them, and leayes them to Satan and their own hearts, whereby they are hardened more and more. They are often given up unto vile affections, Rom. i. 26. The reins are laid on their necks ; and they are left to run into all excess, as their furious lusts draw them. Secondly, Sometimes they meet with quickening strokes, whereby their souls become like mount Sinai ; where nothing is seen but fire and smoke ; nothing heard but the thunder of God's wrath, and the voice of the trumpet of a broken law, waxing louder and louder; which makes them like Pashur, (Jer. xx. 4.) A terror to theniselves. God takes the filthy garments of their sins, which they were wont to sleep in securely; overlays them with brimstone, and sets them on fire about their ears, so they have a hell within them.
3dly, There is wrath on the natural man's enjoyments. Whatever be wanting in his house, there is one thing that is never wanting there, Prov. iii. 33. " The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked.” Wrath is on all that he has; on the bread that he cats, the liquor he drinks, and
clothes which he wears, “ His basket and store are cursed," Deut. xxviii. 17. Some things fall wrong with him; and that comes to pass by virtue of his wrath ; other things go according to his wish, and there is wrath in that too; for it is a snare to his soul, Prov. i. 32. “ The prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” This wrath turns his blessings into curses, Mal. ii. 2. “ I will curse your blessings; yea, I have cursed them already." The holy law is a killing letter to him, 2 Cor. iii. 6. The ministry of the gospel Q savour of death unto death, chap. ii. 15. In the sacrament of the Lord's supper, “ He eateth and drinketh damnation to himself,” i Cor. xi. 29. Nay, more than all that, Christ himself is to him a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, 1 Pet. ii. 8. Thus wrath follows the natural man, as his shadow doth his body.
4ihly, He is under the power of Satan, Acts xxvi. 18, The devil has overcome him, so he is his by conquest ; his lawful captive, Isa. xlix. 24. The natural man is condemned already, John iii. 18. and, therefore, under the heavy hand of him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil. And he keeps his prisoner, in the prison of a natural state, bound hand and foot, Isa. Ixi, 1. laden with divers lusts, as chains wherewith he holds him fast. Thou needst not, as many do, call on the devil to take thee; for he has a fast hold of thee already, as a child of wrath.
Lastly, The natural man has no security for a moment's safety from the wrath of God, its coming on him to the uttermost. The curse of the law denounced against him, has already tied him to the stake ; so that the arrows of justice may pierce his soul ; and in him may meet all the miseries and plagues that flow from the avenging wrath of God. See how he is set as a mark to the arrows of wrath, Psalm vii. 11, 12, 13. 6. God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword : He hath bent his bow, and made it ready; he hath also prepared for him the instruments of death." Doth he lie down to sleep? There is not a promise, he knows of, or can know, to secure him that he shall not be in hell ere he awake. Justice is pursuing, and crics for vengeance on the sinner; the law casts the fire-balls of its curses continually upon him ; wasted and long-tired patience is that Which keeps in his life ; he walks amidst enemies armed
against him ; his name may be Magor Missabib,i. e. terror round about, Jer. xx. 3. Angels, devils, men, beasts, stones, heaven, and earth, are in readiness, on a word of command from the Lord, to ruin him.
Thus the natural man lives, but he must die too ; and death is a dreadful messenger to him. It comes upon him armed with wrath, and puts three sad charges in his hand. (1.) Death chargeth him to bid an eternal fare: wel to all things in this world; to leave it, and make way to another world. Ah! what a dreadful charge must this be to a child of wrath! He can have no comfort from heaven, for God is his enemy; and as for the things of the world, and the enjoyment of his lusts, which were the only springs of his comfort; these are in a moment dried up to him for ever. He is not ready for another world; he was not thinking of removing so soon; or, if he was, yet he has no portion secured to him in another world, but that which he was born to, and was increasing all his days, namely, a treasure of wrath. But go he must; his clay-god, the world, must be parted with, and what has he more? There was never a glimmering of light, or favour from heaven, to his soul; and now the wrath that did hang in the threatening, as a cloud like a man's hand, is darkening the face of the whole heaven above him; and if he «s look unto the earth," (from whence all his light was wont to come,)“ behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish ; and he shall be driven to darkness," Isa. viii. 22. (2.) Death chargeth soul and body to part till the great day. His soul is required of him, Luke xii. 20. O what a miscrable parting must this be to a child of wrath! Care was indeed taken to provide for the body, things necessary for this life; but, alas! there is nothing laid up for another life to it; nothing to be a seed of glorious resurrection : As it lived, so it must die, and rise again sinful flesh; fuel for the fire of God's wrath. As for the soul, he was never solicitous to provide for it. It lay in the body, dead to God, and all things truly good;
and so must be carried out into the pit, in the grave clothes of its natural state ; for now that death comes, companions in sin must part. (3.) Death chargeth the soul to compear before the tribunal of God, while the body lies to be carried to the grave, Eccles. xii. 7. “The
spirit shall return unto God who gave it,” Heb. ix. 2, 7. “ It is appointed unto all men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Well were it for the sinful soul, if it might be buried together with the body. But that cannot be; it must go and receive its sentence; and shall be shut up in the prison of hell, while the cursed body lies imprisoned in the grave, till the day, of the general judg. ment.
When the end of the world, appointed of God, is come, the trumpet shall sound, and the dead arise. Then shall the weary earth, at the command of the Judge, cast forth the bodies; the cursed bodies of those that lived and died in their natural state : « The sea, death, and hell, shall deliver up their dead," Rev. xx. 13. Their miserable bodies and souls shall be re-united, and they sisted before the tribunal of Christ. Then shall they receive that fearful sentence, « Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matth. xxv. 41. Whereupon “ they shall go away into everlasting punishment,” ver. 46. They shall be eternally shut up in hell, never to get the least drop of comfort, nor the least ease of their torment. There they shall be punished with the punishment of loss; being excommunicated from the
presence of God, his angels and saints. All means of grace, all hopes of a delivery, shall be for ever cut off from their eyes. They shall not have a drop of water to cool their tongues, Luke xvi. 24, 25. They shall be punished with the punishment of sense. They must not only depart from God, but depart into fire, into everlasting fire. There the worm, that shall gnaw them, shall never die; the fire, that shall scorch them, shall never be quenched. God shall, through all eternity, hold them up with the one hand, and pour the full vials of wrath into them with the other.
This is that state of wrath natural men live in; being under much of the wrath of God, and liable to more. for a further view of it, let us consider the qualities of that wrath. (1.) It is irresistible ; there is no standing before it : “Who may stand in thy sight, when once thou art angry?" Psal. Ixxxvi. 7. Can the worm, or the moth, defend itself against him that designs to crush it? As little can worm man stand before an angry God. Foolish
man indeed practically bids a defiance to heaven; but the L.ord often, even in this world, opens such sluices of wrath on them, as all their might cannot stop; they are carried away thereby, as with a flood. How much more will it be so in hell ? (2.) It is insupportable.
What one cannot resist, he will set himself to bear; but, “ Who shall dwell with devouring fire ? Who shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?” God's wrath is a weight that will sink men into the lowest hell. It is a burden no man is able to stand under. “ A wounded spirit who can bear it?” Prov. xviii. 14. (3.) It is unavoidable to such as go on impenitently in their sinful course. “He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy," Prov. xxix. i. We may now fly from it indeed, by flying to Jesus Christ; but such as fly from Christ shall never be able to avoid it. Whither can men fly from an avenging God? Where will they find a shelter ? The hills will not hear them; the mountains will be deaf to their loudest cries; when they cry to them, to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. (4.) It is powerful and fierce wrath, Psalm xc. 11. “ Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.”. We are apt to fear the wrath of man more than we ought; but no man can apprehend the wrath of God to be more dreadful than it really is: The power of it can never be known to the utmost; seeing it is infinite, and (properly speaking) has no utmost ; how fierce soever it be, either on earth or in hell, God can still carry it further. Every thing in God is most perfect in its kind; and, therefore, no wrath is so fierce as his. O sinner, how wilt thou be able to endure that wrath, which will tear thee in pieces, Psal. l. 22. and grind thee to powder, Luke xx. 18.' The history of the two she-bears, that tore the children of Bethel, is an awful one, 2 Kings ii. 23, 24. But the united force of the rage of lions, leopards, and she-bears, bereaved of their whelps is not sufficient to give us even a scanty view of the power of the wrath of God, Hos. xiii 7, 8. « Therefore I will be unto them as a lion; as a leopard by the way will ! observe them. I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rent the call of their heart," & C. (5.) It is penetrating and piercing wrath. It is burning