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when he can open the Bible in no place, but if he meet a judgment, he must say, Vindicta mihi, This vengeance belongs to me; and if he meet a mercy, he must say, Quid mihi? What have I to do to take this mercy into my mouth? In this deluge of occasions of sorrow, I must not say with God to Abraham, look up to heaven, and number the stars, (for this man cannot look up to heaven) but I must say, continue thy dejected look, and look down to the earth, thy earth, and number the grains of dust there, and the sorrows of the wicked are more than they. Many are the sorrows; and as the word as naturally denotes, great; great sorrows are upon the wicked.
That pill will choak one man, which will slide down with another easily, and work well. That sorrow, that affliction would strangle the wicked, which would purge, and recover the godly. The core of Adam's apple is still in their throat, which the blood of the Messiah hath washed away in the righteous; Adam's disobedience works in them still, and therefore God's physic, the affliction, cannot work. So they are great to them, as Cain's punishment was to him, greater than he could bear, because he could uot ease himself upon the consideration of God's purpose, in laying that punishment upon him. But it is not only their indisposition, and impatience, that makes their sorrows and afflictions great; they are truly so in themselves; as the Holy Ghost expresses it, Is not destruction to the wicked, and strange punishment to the workers of iniquity“? A punishment which we cannot tell how to measure, how to weigh, how to call, a strange punishment; greater than former examples have presented. There the greatness is expressed in the word ; and in Isaiah it is expressed in the action; When the scourge shall run over you, and pass through you, eritis in conculcationem, you shall be trodden to dust"; which is, as the prophet calls it there, Flagellum inundans, An affliction that overflows, and surrounds all, as a deluge, a flood, that shall wash away from thee, even the water of thy baptism, and all the power of that, and wash away from thee the blood of thy Saviour, and all his offers of grace to worthy receivers; a flood that shall carry away the ark itself out of thy sight, and leave thee no apprehension of reparation by God's institution in his church; a * Job xxxi. 3.
5 Isaiah xxvii. 18.
flood that shall dissolve, and wash thee thyself into water ; thy sorrows shall scatter thee into drops, into tears, upon a carnal sense of thy torment, and into drops, into incoherent doubts, and perplexities, and scruples, in understanding, and conscience, and into desperation at last. And this is the greatness: Solutis doloribus inferni, in another sense than David speaks that of Christ; there it is, That the sorrows of hell were loosed, that is, were slacked, dissolved by him: but here it is that the sorrows of hell are loosed, that is, let loose upon thee; and when thou shalt hear Christ say from the cross, Behold and see, if ever there were any sorrow like my sorrow, thou shalt find thy sorrow like his in the greatness, and nothing like his in the goodness: Christ bore that sorrow, that every man might rejoice, and thou wouldst be the more sorry, if every man had not as much cause of desperate sorrow, as thou hast.
Many and great are the sorrows of the wicked, and then eternal too, which is more than intimated, in that the original hath neither of those particles of supplement, which are in our. translations, no such shall come, no such shall be, nor no shall at all; but only, many sorrows to the wicked, many and great now, more and greater hereafter, all for ever, if they amend not.
It is not, they have had sorrows, but they are overblown; nor that they have them, but patience shall outwear them; nor that they shall have them, but they have a breathing time to gather strength beforehand; but as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, sorrows upon them, and upon them for ever. Whatsoever any man conceives for ease in this case, it is a false conception ; you shall conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble'. And this stubble is your vain hope of a determination of this sorrow; but the wicked shall not be able to lodge such a hopo, though this hope, if they could apprehend it, would be but an aggravating of their sorrows in the end. It is eternal, no determination of time afforded to it. For, they shall be as the burning of lime, and as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who amongst us shall dwell with that everlasting burning?? It is a devouring fire, and yet it is an everlasting burning. The prophet asks, Who can
* Isaiah xxxiii. 11.
? Isaiah xxxiii. 12, 14.
dwell there? In that intenseness who can last? Thoy that must, and that is, all the wicked. Fire is kindled in my wrath, saith Godo; yet may not tears quench it? Tears might, if they could be had; but it shall burn to the bottom of hell, saith God there. And Dives that could not procure a drop of water to cool his tongue there, can much less procure a repentant tear in that place: there, as St. John speaks, plagues shall come in one day; death, and sorrow, and famine'. But it is in a long day; short for the suddenness of coming, for that is come already, which for anything we know, may come this minute, before we be at an end of this point, or at a period of this sentence: so it is sudden in coming, but long for the enduring. For it is that day, when they shall be burnt with fire, for strong is the Lord God, that will condemn them. That is argument enough of the vehemence of that fire, that the Lord God, who is called the strong God, makes it a masterpiece of his strength, to make that fire.
Art thou able to dispute out this fire, and to prove that there can be no real, no material fire in hell, after the dissolution of all material things created? If thou be not able to argue away the immortality of thine own soul, but that that soul must last, nor to argue away the eternity of God himself, but that that must last, thou hast but little ease, in making shift to give a figurative interpretation to that fire, and to say, it may be a torment, but it cannot be a fire, since it must be an everlasting torment; nor to give a figurative signification to the worm, and to say, it may be a pain, a remorse, but it can be no worm after the general dissolution, since that conscience, in which that remorse, and anguish shall ever live, must live ever: if there be a figure in the names, and words of fire and worms, there is an indisputable reality in the sorrow, in the torment, and in the manifoldness, and in the weightiness, and in the everlastingness thereof. For in the inchoation of these sorrows, in this life, and in the consummation of them, in the life to come, the sorrows of the wicked are many, and great, and eternal.
This then is the portion prepared here, Thy portion was with the adulterers", as our last translators have expressed that place
8 Deut. xxxii. 22. 10 Rev, xviii. 8.
9 Rev. xviii. 8. 11 Psalm L. 18.
in their margin. Thy portion was with them here, in this world, and thy portion shall be with them for ever ; for God expresses all kind of wickedness, carnal and spiritual, in that name of adultery, throughout the body of the Scriptures. And therefore when you meet judgments denounced against adulterers, never think that those judgments concern not you, if you have forborne that one sin, (and yet even that sin may have been committed in a look, in a letter, in a word, in a wish, in a dream) when St. James saith, Ye adulterers, and adulteresses, know you not this"? Think not that St. James calls not upon you if you be but covetous, but ambitious, but superstitious, and no adulterers; for every aversion from the Creator, every converting to the creature is adultery. Even in nature you are made for that marriage; in the covenant of God you were betrothed, and affianced for that marriage; in the sacrament of baptism you were actually, personally married ; and in the other sacrament there is a consummation of that marriage ; and every departing from that contract which you made with God at your baptism, and renewed at your receiving the other sacrament, is an adultery. Thus a hermit is a husband, and a nun a wife; and thus both may be adulterers, though in a wilderness, though in a cloister. Si deseris Deum qui te fecit, et amas illa quæ fecit, adultera es's; If thou turn from God that made thee, to those things that he made, this is an adultery. Therefore Christ calls them, an evil and adulterous generation, because they sought a sign"; because they turned upon other ways of satisfaction, than he had ordained for them, that was adultery. And as David saith, Thy portion also shall be in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death 15. Thou art this person, if thou be this adulterer, which is intended in this emphatical word, the wicked.
So then, as these sorrows in our text, are an inchoative hell, they are such wounds as induce, such pangs as precede even the second death, sorrows that flow into desperation, and impenitibleness, (and impenitibleness is hell.) As the torment is an inchoative hell, so is the person, the wicked here, an inchoated devil: it is St. Chrysostom's spontaneus dæmon, and voluntarius dæmon; he that is a devil to himself, that could be, and would be ambitious in a spital, licentious in a wilderness, voluptuous in a famine, and abound with temptations in himself, though there were no devil. Most of the names of the devil in the Scripture, denote some action of his upon us; as he is called, The Prince of the Power of the Air', there he is called so, because as it is added there, He works in the children of disobedience; as the air works upon our bodies, this prince of the air works upon our minds ; how works he? he deceives; He deceived the whole world, saith St. John"?; from this insinuation, he hath those other names there, the Great Dragon, and the Old Serpent. When he hath crept in as a serpent, then he grows a roaring lion '8 ; he professes his power, he disguises not a temptation ; then he grows Satan an adversary, an enemy, he opposes all good endeavours in us; and then he grows diabolus, an accuser, an accuser to God, an accuser to our own conscience; and when he hath made our sin, as great as it can be in our practice, when by age, or sickness, or poverty, he cannot multiply our sins for the present, than by his multiplying-glass, he multiplies the sins of our former times, and presents them greater, than even the mercies of God, or the merits of Christ Jesus. So he grows in mischievous names, according to his mischievous actions and practices upon us; but then out of himself arises the most vehement, and the most collective name that is given him in all the Scriptures, trompòs, and that with the emphatical article, the wicked one; one that is all wickedness, and one that is the wickedness of all; one, who if he had no object to direct his wickedness upon, no subject to exercise his wickedness in, if God should proclaim so general a pardon, that all men, all, should effectually be saved, and so all hope to have enlarged his kingdom be withdrawn, yet would still be as wicked, and as opposite to God as he is.
12 Jam, iv. 4.
So then, by this character of multiplicity, this emphatical note of the wicked in our text, the person, whose portion this sorrow is, this sorrow which is a brand of hell at least a match, by which hell-fire itself is kindled, is not he that is an adulterer, or that is a murderer ; not he that hath fallen into some particular sins, though great, and continued those great sins in habits,
Ephes. ii. 2.
17 Rev. xii. 9.
8 1 Pet. . 8.