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think, that he had fairly excused himself by such a plea. And I am persuaded, you would be so far from presuming to offer it to God at the great day, that you would not venture to turn it into a prayer even now. Imagine that you saw a malefactor dying, with such words as these in his mouth: O God, it is true, I did indeed rob and murder my fellow-creatures; but thou knowest, that, as my circumstances were ordered, I could not do otherwise: my will was irresistibly determined by the motives which thou didst set before me; and I could as well have shaken the foundations of the earth, or darkened the sun in the firmament, as have resisted the impulse which bore me on.' I put it to your conscience, whether you would not look on such a speech as this with detestation, as one enormity added to another. Yet if the excuse would have any weight in your mouth, it would have equal weight in his; or would be equally applicable to any the most shocking occasion. But indeed it is so contrary to the plainest principles of common reason, that I can hardly persuade myself, any one could seriously and thoroughly believe it; and should imagine my time very ill employed here, if I were to set myself to combat those pretences to argument, by which the wantonness of human wit has attempted to varnish it over.

§. 11. You see then, on the whole, the vanity of all your pleas, and how easily the most plausible of them might be silenced, by a mortal man like yourself: how much more then by him, who searches all hearts, and can, in a moment, flash in upon the conscience a most powerful and irresistible conviction? What then can you do, while you stand convicted in the presence of God? What should you do, but hold your peace under an inward sense of your inexcusable guilt, and prepare yourself to hear the sentence which his law pronounces against you? You must feel the execution of it, if the gospel does not at length deliver you; and you must feel something of the terror of it, before you can be excited to seek to that gospel for deliverance.

The Meditation of a convinced Sinner, giving up his vain Pleas before God.

DEPLORABLE condition, to which I am indeed reduced! I have sinned; and what shall I say unto thee, O thou preserver of men* ? What shall I dare to say? Fool that I was,

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to amuse myself with such trifling excuses as these, and to imagine, they could have any weight in thy tremendous presence; or that I should be able so much as to mention them there! I cannot presume to do it. I am silent and confounded. My hopes, alas, are slain; and my soul itself is ready to die too; so far as an immortal soul can die: and I am almost ready to say, O that it could die entirely! I am indeed a criminal in the hands of justice, quite disarmed, and stripped of the weapons in which I trusted. Dissimulation can only add provocation to provocation. I will therefore plainly and freely own it. I have acted, as if I thought God was altogether such a one as myself: but, he hath said, I will reprove thee; I will set thy sins in order before thine eyes*, will marshal them in battle array. And oh, what a terrible kind of host do they appear? and how do they surround me beyond all possibility of an escape! Oh my soul, they have, as it were, taken thee prisoner; and they are bearing thee away to the divine tribunal.

Thou must appear before it! Thou must see the awful eternal Judge, who tries the very reins †; and who needs no other evidence, for he has himself been witness to all thy rebellion. Thou must see him, O my soul, sitting in judgment upon thec: and when he is strict to mark iniquity, how wilt thou answer him for one of a thousand¶! And if thou canst not answer him, in what language will he speak to thee! Lord, as things at present stand, I can expect no other language than that of condemnation. And what a condemnation is it! Let me reflect upon it! Let me read my sentence before I hear it finally and irreversibly passed! I know, he has recorded it in his word; and I know, in the general, that the representation is made with a gracious design. I know, that he would have us alarmed, that we may not be destroyed. Speak to me, therefore, O God, while thou speakest not for the last time, and in circumstances when thou wilt hear me no more. Speak in the language of effectual terror, so that it be not to speak me into final despair. And let thy word, however painful in its operation, be quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged. sword**. Let me not vainly flatter myself: let me not be left a wretched prey to those who would prophecy smooth things to mett, till I am sealed up under wrath, and feel thy justice piercing my soul, and the poison of thine arrows drinking up all my spirits‡‡.

* Psal. 1. 21. ¶ Job ix. 3.

† Jer. xvii. 10.
**Heb. iv. 12.

Jer. xxix. 23. tt Isai, xxx. 10.

Psal. cxxx. 3. ‡‡ Job vi. 4.

Before I enter upon the particular view, I know in the general, that it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. O thou, living God, in one sense I am already fallen into thine hands. I am become obnoxious to thy displeasure, justly obnoxious to it; and whatever thy sentence may be when it comes forth from thy presencet, I must condemn myself, and justify thee. Thou canst not treat me with more severity, than mine iniquities have deserved: and how bitter soever that cup of trembling may be‡, which thou shalt appoint for me, I give judgment against myself, that I deserve to wring out the very dregs of it||.

CHAP. VI.

The Sinner sentenced.

The Sinner called upon to hear his Sentence, §. 1, 2, God's Law does now in general pronounce a Curse: §. 3. It pronounces Death. §. 4. And being turned into Hell. §. 5. The Judgment Day shall come. §. 6. The Solemnity of that grand Process described, according to Scriptural Representations of it. §. 7, 8. With a particular Illustration of the Sentence, Depart Accursed, &c. §. 9. The Execution will certainly and immediately follow. §. 10. The Sinner warned to prepare for enduring it. §. 11. The Reflection of a Sinner struck with the Terror of this Sentence.

HEAR,

§. 1.

EAR, O sinner, and I will speak¶ yet once more, as in the name of God, of God, thine almighty Judge; who if thou dost not attend to his servants, will ere long speak unto thee in a more immediate manner, with an energy and terror which thou shalt not be able to resist.

§. 2. Thou hast been convicted, as in his presence. Thy pleas have been over-ruled; or rather, they have been silenced. It appears before God, it appears to thine own conscience, that thou hast nothing more to offer in arrest of judgment; therefore hear thy sentence, and summon up, if thou canst, all the powers of thy soul to bear the execution of it. It is indeed a very small thing to be judged of man's judgment; but he that now judgeth thee, is the Lord**. Hear therefore, and tremble, while I tell thee, how he will speak to thee; or rather, while I shew thee, from express scripture, how he doth even

Heb. x. 31.
Psal. lxxv. 8.

+ Psal. xvii. 2. ¶ Job xlii. 4.

Isai. li. 17.

** 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

now speak, and what is the authentic and recorded sentence of his word, even of his word who hath said, Heaven and earth shall pass away; but not one tittle of my word shall ever pass away*.

§. 3. The law of God speaks, not to thee alone, O sinner, not to thee by any particular address; but in a most universal language, it speaks to all transgressors, and levels its terrors against all offences, great or small, without any exception. And this is its language: cursed is every one, that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them↑. This is its voice to the whole world; and this it speaks to thee. Its awful contents are thy personal concern, O reader; and thy conscience knows it. Far from continuing in all things that are written therein to do them, thou canst not but be sensible, that innumerable evils have compassed thee about. It is then manifest, thou art the man, whom it condens; thou art even now cursed with a curse, as God emphatically speaks; with the curse of the most high God: yea, all the curses which are written in the book of the law, are pointed against thee¶. God may righteously exeof them upon thee in a moment; and though thou at present feelest none of them, yet, if infinite mercy doth not prevent, it is but a little while, and they will come into thy bowels like water, till thou art burst asunder with them, and shall penetrate like oil into thy bones**.

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§. 4. Thus saith the Lord, the soul that sinneth, it shall diett. But thou hast sinned, and therefore thou art under a sentence of death! And, O unhappy creature, of what a death! What will the end of these things be? That the agonies of dissolving nature shall seize thee; that thy soul shall be torn away from thy languishing body, and thou return to the dust from whence thou wast taken‡‡: this is indeed one awful effect of sin. In these affecting characters has God, through all nations and all ages of men, written the awful register and memorial of his holy abhorrence of it, and righteous displeasure against it. But alas, all this solemn pomp and horror of dying, is but the opening of the dreadful scene. is but a rough kind of stroke, by which the fetters are knocked off, when the criminal is led out to torture and execution.

It

§. 5. Thus saith the Lord, the wicked shall be turned into hell, even all the nations that forget God. Though there be whole nations of them, their multitudes and their power shall be no defence to them. They shall be driven into hell toge

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ther; into that flaming prison, which divine vengeance hath prepared; into Tophet, which is ordained of old, even for royal sinners as well as for others, so little can any human distinction protect! He hath made it deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood, the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, shall kindle it; and the flaming torrent shall flow in upon it so fast, that it shall be turned into a sea of liquid fire; or, as the scripture also expresses it, a lake burning with fire and brimstone for ever and ever. This is the second death; and the death, to which thou, O sinner, by the word of God art doomed.

§. 6. And shall this sentence stand upon record in vain? Shall the law speak it, and the gospel speak it? And shall it never be pronounced more audibly? and will God never require and excute the punishment? He will, O sinner, require it; and he will execute it; though he may seem for a while to delay. For well dost thou know, that he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the whole world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, of which he has given assurance in having raised him from the dead.‡ And when God judgeth the world, O reader, whoever thou art, he will judge thee. And while I remind thee of it, I would also remember, that he will judge me. And knowing the terror of the Lord that I may deliver my own soul¶, I would with all plainness and sincerity labour to deliver thine.

§. 7. I therefore repeat the solemn warning: thou, O sinner, shalt stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.** Thou shalt see that pompous appearance; the description of which is grown so familiar to thee, that the repetition of it makes no impression on thy mind. But surely, stupid as thou now art, the shrill trumpet of the arch-angel shall shake thy very soul ; and if nothing else can awaken and alarm thee, the convulsions and flames of a dissolving world shall do it.

§. 8. Dost thou really think, that the intent of Christ's final appearance is only to recover his people from the grave, and to raise them to glory and happiness? Whatever assurance thou hast, that there shall be a resurrection of the just; thou hast the same, that there shall also be a resurrection of the unjust: ++ that he shall separate the rising dead one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats, ‡‡ with equal certainty, and with infinitely greater ease. Or can you

* Isai. xxx. 33.
Ezek. xxxiii. 9.

+ Rev. xxi. 8. ** 2 Cor. v. 10,

Acts xvii. 31. ++ Acts xxiv. 15.

|| 2 Cor. v. 11.
‡‡ Matt. xxv. 32.

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