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Edited by George Offor.
Sighs From Hell,
The Damned Soul
An exposition of those
W O R D S
in the Sixteenth of Luke,
Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar
wherein is discovered
the lamentable state of the D A M N E D;
their cries, their desires in their distresses,
W I T H
the determination of G O D upon them.
warning word to sinners,
both old A N D young,
to take into consideration betimes,
and to seek,
B Y- F A I T H-
I N -J E S U S- C H R I
to avoid, lest they come into the same Place of Torment.
a brief discourse touching the profitableness
of the Scriptures for our instruction in the way of righteousness,
according to the tendency of the said parable.
By That Poor and Contemptible Servant of J E
S U S- C H R I S T,
L O N D O N,
Printed by Ralph Wood, for M. Wright,
at the King's Head in the Old Bailey, 1658.
John Bunyan wrote this two years before being placed
Bedford Prison. This is the third book he wrote.
'The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.'–Psalm
'And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of
fire.'– Revelation 20:15
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITORBack To Top Of Page
How awful is that cry of anguish which has reached us from beyond the tomb, even
from the infernal realms, and on which Bunyan, with his singular and rare ability,
fixes our attention. It is the voice of one who had received his good things in this
fleeting life; who had fared sumptuously every day, without providing for eternity,
and now cries for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue. Plunged into unutterable,
inconceivable, and eternal torments, he pleads that the poor afflicted beggar, who
had lain at his gate, might be sent from the dead to warn his relatives, that they
might escape, and not aggravate his misery, by upbraiding him as a cause of their
destruction, by having neglected to set them a pious example. He knows that there
is no hope for his own wretched soul, and expresses no wish that his family should
pay for masses to ease his pangs. No, such tomfooleries are limited to this insane
world. His poor request is one drop of water, and a warning messenger to his relatives.
The answer is most decisive–there is a great, an eternal gulf fixed–none can pass
between heaven and hell; and as to your father's house, 'They have Moses and the
prophets'; and now it may be added, They have Jesus and his apostles; if they hear
not them, 'neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.' No; if
Isaiah, with his mighty eloquence, again appeared among mortals, again would his
cry be heard, 'Who hath believed our report?' 'What! seek the living among the dead?
To the law, and to the testimony, saith God.'
Reader, these are solemn realities. He who came from the unseen world–from the bosom
of the Father–reveals them unto us. O! that we may not mistake that voice for thunder,
which called upon a trembling world to 'HEAR HIM.'
The rich man personates all the thoughtless and uncoverted who die in their sins,
his wealth can neither bribe death nor hell; he is stricken, and descends to misery
with the bitter, but unavailing regret of having neglected the great salvation. He
had taken no personal, prayerful pains to search the sacred Scriptures for himself;
he had disobeyed the gospel, lived in revelry, and carelessness of his soul; he had
ploughed iniquity and sown wickedness, and reaps the same. 'By the blast of God he
perishes, and is consumed by the breath of his nostrils.' 'They have sown the wind,
and they shall reap the whirlwind.'
The opinion universally prevails, although the voice of infinite wisdom has declared
it false, that miracles, or a messenger from the invisible world could awake the
dead in sin. The world's eyes are shut, and its ears are stopped from seeing and
hearing that most illustrious celestial messenger of mercy– 'God manifest in the
flesh'–who still speaks to us in his words. He revealed, and he alone could have
revealed, these solemn, these heart-stirring facts–He performed the most astonishing
miracles–His doctrines were truth–He required holiness of life to fit the soul for
heaven; therefore He was despised, tortured, murdered. In the face of all this, the
poor wretch cries, 'send Lazarus.' What refined cruelty! He had borne the cross and
received the crown. Uncrown him, and send him back to lie at my brother's gate, and
if he dares to tell him the truth, that my soul was in hell, even while the splendid
funeral was carrying my body to the tomb, he will hurry him to death. Poor fool!
are not thy kindred as hardened as thou wast? Send Lazarus from the dead! That, as
Bunyan justly says, would be to make a new Bible, to improve the finished salvation.
No, if they will not hear Moses and the prophets, our Lord and his apostles, they
must all likewise perish. This is a very meagre outline of this solemn treatise;
it is full of striking illustrations, eminently calculated to arouse the thoughtless,
and to convey solid instruction to the thoughtful.
This was the third volume that Bunyan published, and, with modest timidity, he shelters
himself under a strong recommendatory preface by his pastor, who, in the Grace Abounding,
he calls 'holy Mr. Gifford.' So popular was it, as to pass through nine editions
in the author's lifetime. The preface, by John Gifford, was printed only with
the first edition. As it gives a very interesting account of Bunyan, and his early
labours in the ministry, which has never been noticed by any of his biographers,
and is extremely rare, it is here reprinted from a fine copy in the British Museum,
and must prove interesting to every admirer of John Bunyan. I close with two short
extracts– may they leave an abiding impression upon our minds. 'God will have a time
to meet with them that now do not seek after him.' 'O! regard, regard, for the judgment
day is at hand, the graves are ready to fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding,
the sentence will ere long be passed, and then,' it will be seen whether we belong
to the class of Dives, who preferred the world, or to that of Lazarus, who preferred
Christ; and then, O then! time cannot be recalled.
PREFACE, BY THE REV. JOHN GIFFORD, PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT BEDFORD, OF
WHICH JOHN BUNYAN WAS A MEMBER.
TO THE READER.
It is sad to see how the most of men neglect their precious souls, turning their
backs upon the glorious gospel, and little minding a crucified Jesus, when, in the
meanwhile, their bodies are well provided for, their estates much regarded, and the
things of this present life are highly prized, as if the darling was of less value
than a clod of earth; an immortal soul, than a perishing body; a precious Saviour,
than unsatisfying creatures. Yea, though they have been often wooed with gracious
entreaties, glorious promises, and fresh bleeding wounds, to make choice of the better
part, that shall never be taken from them; yet, alas! such influence hath this world,
and the pleasures of it, and such is the blindness of their understandings, that
they continue still to hunt after those things which cannot profit, nor be a help
to them in the worst hour. Yea, that will prove no better than poison to their souls,
and refuse that would be (if embraced) their happiness here, and their glory hereafter.
Such a strange stupidity hath seized upon the hearts of men, that they will venture
the loss of their immortal souls for a few dying comforts, and will expose themselves
to endless misery for a moment's mirth, and short-lived pleasures. But, certainly,
a barn well fraught, a bag well filled, a back well clothed, and a body well fed,
will prove but poor comforts when men come to die, when death shall not only separate
their souls from their bodies, but both from their comforts. What will it then avail
them that they have gained much? Or what will they give in exchange for their souls?
Be wise, then (O reader, to whose sight this may come), before it be too late, and
thou repent, when repentance shall be hid from thine eyes; also it will be as a dagger
to thine heart one day, to remember what a Christ, what a soul, what a heaven thou
hast lost for a few pleasures, a little mirth, a short enjoyment of this present
world; yea, and that after many warnings against many reproofs, and, notwithstanding
the many tenders of a full Christ, instead of those empty vanities which thy soul
closed with, hunted after, and would by no means be persuaded to part withal. No,
but thou wouldst take thy time, and swim in this world's delights, though thy soul
thereby was drowned in perdition and destruction (1 Tim 6:9).
True, few there are that will be persuaded that this course they take, though their
daily conversations do bear witness to it; for how much time is spent, and how much
care is the hearts of men filled withal, after attaining, keeping, and increasing
these things? And how seldom do they trouble their heads, to have their minds taken
up with thoughts of the better? Cumbering themselves with many things, but wholly
neglecting the one thing necessary; yea, whereby do they measure their own or other
men's happiness, but by the large incomes of this world's good, accounting this the
greatest, if not the only blessedness, to have their corn, wine, and oil increase
in abundance, and reckoning those that are most serious about, and earnest after
the world to come, men of foolish spirits, giddy brains, and worthy to be branded
in the forehead for simple deluded ones. But surely he is the most fool that will
be one at last; and he that God calls so (Luke 12:20) will pass for one in the end;
yea, within a short time, they themselves shall change their notes. Ask the rich
man spoken of in the ensuing treatise, who was the fool–he or Lazarus? and he will
soon resolve the question, that he now sees, and by woeful experience finds (whatsoever
his former thoughts were), that he, not Lazarus, was the silly deluded one; for he,
fool-like, preferred the worse things before the better, and refused that which once
might have been had; but now he hath slipped the time, it cannot be gained, when
this poor man, knowing the day of his visitation, was making sure of that glory which
he now enjoys, and shall enjoy for evermore.
So that in this parable (if I may so call it) thou shalt find that Scripture confirmed,
'That the triumphing of the wicked is short' (Job 20:5). Together with that, 'That
the temptations (or afflictions) of the righteous, which cause heaviness, are but
for a season' (1 Peter 1:6). And in this treatise, both of these are largely opened
and explained. Behold, here a rich man clothed in silks, fed with delicates, and
faring deliciously every day; but look a little farther, and lo! this man clothed
with vengeance, roaring under torments, and earnestly begging for a drop of water
to cool his tongue; a sad change. On the other hand, here thou shalt see a poor,
but a gracious man, with a pinched belly, naked back, and running sores, begging
at the rich man's gate for a morsel to feed his belly, a sad state, yet but short;
for look again, and behold this beggar gloriously carried, as in a chariot of triumph,
by the angels into Abraham's bosom, shining in glory, clothed with beautiful garments,
and his soul set down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the Father;
his rags are gone, his sores healed, and his soul filled with joy unspeakable, and
full of glory; the one carried not his costly fare, and his gorgeous apparel with
him into hell; nor the other his coarse diet, mouldy bread, filthy rags, and ulcerous
body into heaven; but the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, took
their leaves at the grave; the worldly man's portion was but for his life, and the
godly man's afflictions lasted no longer; 'For mark the perfect, and behold the upright,
for the end of that man is peace; but the end of the wicked shall be cut off' (Psa
His present comforts, his future hopes, and his cursed soul together; yea, though
he lives many days, and rejoices in them all, yet the days of darkness will overtake
him, and his eye shall see no more good; in his life time he enjoyed his good things,
and, at the hour of death, legions of devils will beset him, innumerable evils will
befal him; and then shall he pay full dear for all the pleasures of sin, that have
carried away his heart from closing with, and following the Lord in the day of his
prosperity. Ungodly men, because they feel no changes now, they fear none hereafter,
but flatter themselves with dying as the godly, though their life is consumed in
wickedness, and their strength in providing for and satisfying the lusts of the flesh.
But as it fared with wicked Balaam, so shall it fare with these, and their vain hopes
will prove a feeding upon ashes through their deceived heart, that hath turned them
aside (Isa 44:20). 'For they that sow to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption'
(Gal 6:8). 'And they that plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap the same'
(Job 4:8; Hosea 8:7). But they that sow to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life
everlasting. Say ye then to the righteous, 'It shall go well with him; however it
goes with him now, a few days will produce a happy change.'
'It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord' (Eccl 8:12). Go on then, O soul,
thou that hast set thy face towards heaven, though the east wind beats upon thee,
and thou find trouble and sorrow; these shall endure but for a night, joy will undoubtedly
come in the morning; besides those sweet visits thou shalt have from thy precious
Saviour, in this thy day of darkness, wait but a while, and thy darkness shall be
turned into light. 'When the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark
of his fire, wherewith he warmed himself, shall not shine' (Job 18:5). 'Grudge not
to see the wicked prosper, and their steps washed with butter, but rather put on
bowels of mercy and pity, as the elect of God, knowing that they are set in slippery
places' (Psa 73:18). And their day is coming, when fearful horror shall surprise
them, and hell be opened to receive them; nor yet be disquieted in thy mind, that
troubles and afflictions do beset thee round; for, as a worser thing is reserved
for them, so a better is prepared for thee. Do they drink wine in bowls? and dost
thou mingle thy tears with thy drink? Do they live in pleasures, and spend their
days in wealth? and dost thou sigh and mourn in secret? Well, there is a cup for
them in the hand of the Lord, the wine whereof is red, and full of mixture, which
they must drink up the dregs (Psa 75:8). And the Lord hath a bottle for thy tears
(Psa 56:8). And a book for thy secret sighs, and ere long thy brinish tears shall
be turned into the sweetest wine, which thou shalt drink new in the kingdom of the
Father, and thy secret sighs into glorious praises; when thy mouth shall be filled
with laughter, and thy eyes see the King in his glory.
Now, considering that these lines may be brought to the sight both of the one sort
and the other, I shall lay a few things before the thought of each; and first to
the worser sort.
First. Consider what an ill bargain thou wilt make, to sell thy precious soul for
short continuance in thy sins and pleasures. If that man drives but an ill trade,
who, to gain the world, should lose his soul (Matt 16:26), then, certainly, thou
art far worse that sells thy soul for a very trifle. O it is pity that so precious
a thing should be parted withal, to be made a prey for the devouring lion, for that
which is worse than nothing! If they were branded for desperate wretches that caused
their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, surely thou much more that gives
thy soul to devouring flames, to be fuel for the everlasting fire, upon so unfit
terms; what meanest thou, O man, to truck with the devils? Is there no better merchandise
to trade in than what comes from hell, or out of the bowels of the earth? and to
be had upon no lower rates than thy immortal soul? Yes, surely the merchandise of
wisdom, which is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than
fine gold (Prov 3:14, 8:19), is exposed to sale (Rev 3:18), and to be had without
money or price; and if thou shouldest part with anything for it, it is such that
it is better to part withal than to keep. The wise merchant that sought a goodly
pearl, having found one, sold all that he had, not himself, not his soul, and all
that he sold was in itself not worth a farthing, and yet obtained the pearl (Matt
13:45,46). Paul made the like exchange when he threw away his own righteousness,
which was but rags, yea, filthy rags (Isa 64:6), and put on the garment of salvation,
and cast away to the dunghill that which was once his gain, and won Christ (Phil
3:8). Thou needest not cast away thy soul for puddle pleasures; behold the fountain
of living water is set open, and thou invited to it, to take and drink thy belly,
thy soul full, without price or money (Isa 55:2).
Secondly. Take a short (yet let it not be a slight) view of the best of the things
men prize so high, that for the love of, they lose their souls: what are they? Even
painted nothings, promising vanities (like the apples of Sodom, fair to the eye,
but being touched, turn to dust; or like our mother Eve's, that had a beautiful look,
but, being tasted, brings forth death), which, from the most part, have proved snares
to the owners, and always miserable comforters at the parting; they cannot satisfy
in life, for the more of these things are had, the more (with a disquieted spirit)
are they reached after, and what comes in serves but to whet up the greedy unsatisfied
appetite after more. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof (1 John 2:17).
Though most men content themselves with these, yet it is not in these to satisfy
them, and had they but one glimpse of the world to come, one cranny of light to discern
the riches of Christ, and the least taste of the pleasures that are at the right
hand of God (Psa 16:11), they would be as little satisfied without a share in them,
as they are now with what of worldly things they enjoy; much less can they ease from
pain at death. Clap a bag of gold (as one once did) to thy sinking spirit, pained
body, and tormented conscience, and it can neither cheer up the one, nor appease
the other, least of all can they deliver from, or yield comfort after death; those
cannot serve as a bribe to death to pass thee by, nor yet bring comfort to thy soul
when thou art gone. The rich fool's large crop and great increase could not procure
one night's respite, nor one moment's comfort.
Besides, God regards them so little, that frequently he gives the largest share of
them to whom he hateth most (Psa 17:14), and the least to them who are the excellent
in the earth, in whom his soul delights, although he hath made them heirs of the
kingdom (James 2:5). Yet doth he bestow such a small portion of these worldly things
upon them, hereby declaring to all how little he sets by those things which most
set so much by, and to draw up our hearts, minds, and affections to the things above;
yea, His own Son that he appointed heir of all things (Heb 1:2) shall come forth
neither of rich kindred, nor attended with gallants, nor yet accoutered with the
world's glory, but in a low, mean, and abject condition, at whose birth a manger
received him; and through his life sorrows, wants, and sufferings did attend, and
at the end a shameful death, in the world's esteem, befals him, and by all this he
shows his contempt of the worldly man's darling. Cast not away thy soul then, O man,
in seeking after, solacing thyself in, and contenting thyself with this present world;
for though thou mayest make gold thy hope, and put thy confidence in thy wealth,
yet when this thy hope shall fail, and thy confidence slip from thee (as sure it
will ere long), glad wouldst thou be of the least drop of the water of life, and
the least filing of that precious gold (that thou art now called upon to drink of,
and to buy for thyself); but, alas, they shall not be had. Then, O then, what profit
will thy treasures of wickedness yield thee; and whereto will thy thick clay that
thou hast hoarded up, and thy carnal pleasures which thou hast drunk down, as the
fish drinks down water; whereto, I say, will they serve, unless to weigh thee the
deeper into hell, and increase the fire, when it shall be kindled upon thee?
Thirdly. Look upon thy loss, too, which is such that ten thousand worlds cannot repair–thy
soul, thy body, thy comforts, thy hopes, thy share in a crucified Jesus, the crown
of life, and everlasting communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit, blessed angels,
and glorified saints, and a soul-satisfying, soul-saving Christ, who came from the
bosom of love, and gave himself to open a way to everlasting glory, by the sacrifice
of himself, to whom thou art called, invited, and persuaded to come; whose heart
is open, arms spread, and who hath room enough in his bosom to receive thee, grace
enough to pardon thee, blood enough to justify thee, treasures enough to enrich thee,
pleasures enough to delight thee (Psa 36:8), and glory enough to crown thee; in whom
it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell (Col 1:19); to make
them perfectly blessed that come to him, so that there is no need to seek happiness
among the creatures, which most do, and thereby lose true happiness, and their souls
too. Turn in hither, and thou shalt eat of his bread, and drink of the wine which
he hath mingled (Prov 9:4,5).
Wouldst thou fare deliciously every day, and have thy soul delight itself in fatness?
(Isa 55:2). Hearken diligently, and come to the wedding; the oxen and fatlings are
killed, and all things are ready (Matt 22:5). I tell thee, whatsoever food thou feedest
upon else, will prove no better to thee than the prodigal's husks (Luke 15:16). That
will starve thee whilst thou feedest on them; and if thou drinkest of other wine,
it will prove as a cup of wine mixed with poison, which though it be pleasant to
the taste, it will be the death of thy soul. Wilt thou, then, lose this Christ, this
food, this pleasure, this heaven, this happiness, for a thing of nought? Wilt thou
drink out of a puddle, a broken cistern which leaks out the water, and holds nothing
but mud, and refuse the fountain of living water, which, whosoever tastes of, shall
live for ever?
Fourthly. Beware of persuading thyself into a conceit of the poor man's end, if thou
livest the rich man's life, and diest his death. It is strange to see how many run
swift by the very way to hell, yet are full of confidence of going to heaven, though
Scripture everywhere shuts them out, and Christ at last will certainly shut them
out for ever hereafter, living and dying in their present state. Let none, therefore,
deceive you, neither deceive yourselves, for none such can enter into the kingdom
of heaven. But for these things' sake cometh the wrath of God on the children of
disobedience (1 Cor 6:9; Eph 5:5,6). And how sad will thy disappointment be, that
goest on securely fearing nothing, being fully, yet falsely, persuaded of eternal
life at last, and then drop down into the bottomless pit! Like wicked Haman, that
dreamed of greater honour, but behold a gallows; or our mother Eve, who conceited
to be as God, but became a cursed creature. Though the devil may persuade thee thou
mayest live as in hell here, yet in heaven hereafter, believe him not, for he endeavours
to keep thee in his snares, that he may drag thee to hell with him; and the better
to effect his devilish design upon thee, he will present (and through his cursed
subtlety knows how to do it) thy sins and this world in as lovely and taking a guise
as may be, but will hide the evil consequences from thine eyes, that thou mightest
be inveigled by gazing on the one, and not be affrighted by beholding the other;
his bait shall be pleasant, but his hook hid, like the strumpet in Proverbs 7, that
entices the simple with fair words, but conceals that the way to her house leads
to the chambers of death; nothing appears but a bed richly furnished, and a promise
of solacing him with loves; but he that followeth after her, goeth as an ox to the
slaughter, and as a fool to the correction of the stocks.
Fifthly. This is thy day to prevent the loss of the one, and to get an interest in
the other; this is the day of salvation, the accepted day of the Lord (2 Cor 6:2).
Let the sun of this day be set before this work be done, and an everlasting night
of darkness will close thee in, wherein thou, thou shalt have time enough indeed
to bemoan thy folly, but none to learn to grow wiser. It is a sad thing, especially
in soul concernments, to be wise too late, and to cry out when time is past, O that
I had improved it when it was present. Then will the remembrance of thy former misspent
time, and thy despair of ever gaining more, be like poisoned arrows drinking up they
spirit. Amongst all the talents God hath entrusted man withal, this is not the least,
because on it depends eternity; and according to the use we make of this, will our
eternal condition be, though the most of men live at such a rate as if it was given
them to no other end than to waste in wickedness, and consume in pleasures. What
means else their spending days, weeks, months, years, yea, their whole life, in whoring,
swearing, playing, coveting, and fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, so that when
they come to die, the great work that they were sent to do is then to be done; their
souls, Christ, eternity, was scarce thought on before; but now, when merciless death
begins to gripe them, then do they begin to bethink themselves of those things which
they should have got in readiness before, and that is the reason why we so often
hear many that lie upon their death-beds to cry out for a little longer time; and
no wonder, for they have the salvation of their souls to seek. O sad case! to have
their work to do when the night is come, and a Christ to seek when death hath found
them; take therefore the counsel of the Holy Ghost (Heb 3:7), 'To-day, if you will
hear his voice, harden not your hearts.' Mark, it is the Spirit's counsel. True,
the devil and thine own heart will tell thee another tale, and be ready to whisper
in thine ears, Thou mayest have time enough hereafter; what need of so much haste,
another day may serve as well; let thy soul be filled with pleasure a little longer,
and thy bags filled a little more; thou mayest have time for this and that too. O,
but this is the suggestion of an enemy, that would cause thee to defer so long, that
thy heart may grow too hard, and thine ear too heavy to hear at all; but, certainly,
this being the greatest business, challengeth the first and greatest care (Matt 6:33).
And let this be done; then, if thou shalt either have so much time to spare, or a
heart to do it, take thy time for the other.
Sixthly. This day of thy mercy and Christ's importunity will not last long; it is
but a day, and that a day of visitation. Indeed it is rich grace that there should
be a day, but dally not because it is but a day. Jerusalem had her day, but because
therein she did not know the things of her peace, a pitch night did overtake (Luke
19:42,43). It is a day of patience, and if thou despisest the riches of God's goodness,
patience, and long-suffering towards thee, and art not thereby led to repentance
(Rom 2:5), a short time will make it a day of vengeance. Though now Christ calls,
because he is willing to save sinners, yet he will not always call; see then that
thou refuse not him that speaks from heaven in this gospel day (Heb 12:25). But seek
him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near (Isa 55:6), lest thou
criest after him hereafter, and he refuse thee. It is not crying, Lord, Lord, when
the day of grace is past, that will procure the least crumb of mercy (Matt 7:21).
No, if thou comest not when called, but stayest while supper is ended, thou shalt
not taste thereof (Luke 14:24), though a bit would save thy life, thy soul; if thou
drinkest not of the fountain while it is opened, thou shalt not when it is shut,
though thou beggest with tears of blood for one drop to cool thy scorching flaming
heart; thou that mightest have had thy vessel full, and welcome, shall not now have
so much as will hang on the tip of a finger. O! remember, the axe is laid to the
root of the tree (Matt 3:10). And although three years' time may be granted, through
the vine-dresser's importunity, that will soon be expired, and then the axe that
is now laid, shall cut up the tree by its roots, if it bring not forth good fruit.
Seest thou not that many of late have been snatched away, on each side of thee (by
that hand that hath been stretched out and is so still)? and though thou mayest escape
a while, yet hast thou no assurance that the destroying angel will long pass by thy
door. O then, neglect thy soul no longer, but consider time is short, and uncertain,
eternity long, thy work great, thy soul immortal, this world vanishing, Christ precious,
hell hot, and heaven desirable.
And if thou beest a Christian (to whom this may come) that hast not only had a prize
in thy hands, but wisdom given thee from above to make use of it, and art one who
(whilst others are seeking to make this world and hell together sure to themselves)
spendest thy time, and makest it thy only business, to make sure of the one thing
necessary, and heaven to thy soul, I shall lay two or three things before thy thoughts.
First. Walk with a fixed eye upon the world to come. Look not at the things that
are seen, that are temporal, but at the things which are not seen, that are eternal
(2 Cor 4:18). A Christian's eye should be upon his journey's end, as our Lord Jesus,
who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross (Heb 12:2). When the stones
flew about Stephen's ears, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory of
God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55,56). What though thou
at present mayest lie at the rich man's gates, yet a few days will translate thee
into Abraham's bosom. Though Israel had a sharp voyage through the wilderness, yet
Caleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land they
were going to. Though graceless souls are too dull sighted to see afar off (2 Peter
1:9), yet thou that hast received the unction from above, dost in some measure know
what is the hope of thy calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance
in the saints.
Secondly. Be satisfied with thy present condition, though it be afflictive, for it
shall not last always. Thy sorrows shall be short, and thy joys long; roll thyself
upon the Lord, for there is a heaven will pay for all; Christ first endured the cross
before he wore the crown. David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. The poor man
spoken of in this ensuing treatise, before he was carried into heaven, had experiences
of sorrow and sufferings on earth. Let the flesh be silent in passing judgment on
the dispensations of God towards thee, and the men of this world, in this present
life. David, by prying too far herein with his own wisdom, had almost caught a fall
(Psa 73). Though God's judgments may be too deep for our reason to dive into, yet
are they always righteous, and his paths mercy and truth to those that keep his covenants
(Psa 25:10). When Jeremiah would debate with the Lord concerning his judgments in
the wicked's prosperity, he would lay this down as an indubitable truth, that his
judgments were righteous (Jer 12:1). And his end was not to charge God, but to learn
understanding of him in the way of his judgments; and although the ways of his providence
may be dark to his people, that they cannot discern his footsteps, yet are they always
consistent with his everlasting covenant, and the results of the favour he bears
to them. If the wicked flourish like the grass, it is that they should be destroyed
for ever (Psa 92:7). And if the godly have many a wave beating upon them, yet will
the Lord command his loving-kindness in the day time (Psa 42:7,8). And, after a little
while being tossed to and fro in these boisterous waves, they shall arrive at the
heavenly haven, this world being not their resting-place, but there remains one for
them (Heb 4:9).
Thirdly. Let the faith and hopes of a glorious deliverance get thy heart up above
thy present sufferings, that thou mayest glory in tribulation who hast ground of
rejoicing in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2,3). For whatsoever thy present grievances
are, whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations, this may be thy consolation
that a few days will rid thee of them; when thou shalt sigh no more, complain no
more, but those shall be turned into praises. Thou hast (if I may so call it) all
thy hell here; let thy life be expired, and thy misery is ended; thy happiness begins,
where wicked men's end; and when thine is once began, it shall have no more end.
Reader, I have an advertisement to thee concerning the following discourse, and the
author of it. Thou hast in the discourse many things of choice consideration presented
to thee in much plainness, evidence, and authority; the replications are full, the
applications are natural. Be not offended at his plain and downright language, it
is for the discharge of the author's conscience, and thy profit, besides the subject
necessarily leads him to it. It is a mercy to be dealt thoroughly and plainly with
in the matters of thy soul. We have too many that sow pillows under men's elbows,
and too few who, dealing plainly, divide to every man his portion. Read it not to
pick quarrels with it, but to profit by it; and let not prejudice either against
the author, or manner of delivery, cause thee to stumble and fall at the truth. Prejudice
will both blind the eye that it shall not see the truth, and close it in with it,
and make them too quick- sighted, either to make faults where there is none, or to
greaten them where they are; and so cause the reader to turn the edge against the
author or his work, that should be turned upon his own heart. It is marvellous to
see how the truth is quarrelled at that comes from one, that would be easily received
it if did drop from another; and I doubt not, if this book had some other hand at
it, there is scarce any expression that may be now carpt at by some, but would have
been swallowed without straining. We are now fallen into such an age (the good Lord
help us) that truth, upon its own account, can challenge but little acceptance, except
the author be liked, or his lines painted with his own wit. But certainly truth is
of so excellent a nature, of such singular advantage, and of so royal a descent,
that it deserves entertainment for itself, and that not in our houses or heads only,
but in our hearts too. Whatsoever the hand is that brings it, or the form that it
appears in, men account gold worth receiving, whatsoever the messenger is that brings
it, or the vessel that holds it.
If thou meetest (reader) with any passage that seems doubtful unto thee, let love
that thinks no evil put the best construction upon it, and do not hastily condemn
what thou canst not presently yield to; or if any expression thou meetest with may
(haply) offend thee, do not throw aside the whole, and resolve to read of it no more;
for though some one may offend thee, yet others (I hope) may affect thee; or if there
be that which some may call tautology, be not displeased at it; for that word that
may not fasten upon thy heart in one page, may in another; and although it may be
grievous to thy eye (if thou beest nice and curious), yet bear with it, if it may
be profitable to thy soul.
Concerning the author (whatsoever the censures and reports of many are) I have this
to say, that I verily believe God hath counted him faithful, and put him into the
ministry; and though his outward condition and former employment was mean, and his
human learning small, yet is he one that hath acquaintance with God, and taught by
his Spirit, and hath been used in his hand to do souls good; for to my knowledge
there are divers who have felt the power of the word delivered by him; and I doubt
not but that many more may, if the Lord continue him in his work; he is not like
unto your drones, that will suck the sweet, but do no work. For he hath laid forth
himself to the utmost of his strength, taking all advantages to make known to others
what he himself hath received of God, and I fear this is one reason why the archers
have shot so sorely at him; for by his and others' industry in their Master's work,
their slothfulness hath been reproved, and the eyes of many have been opened to see
a difference between those that are sent of God and those that run before they are
sent. And that he is none of those light fanatic spirits that our age abounds withal,
this following discourse, together with his former, that have been brought to public
view, will testify; for among other things that may bear record to him herein, you
shall find him magnifying and exalting the Holy Scriptures, and largely showing the
worth, excellency, and usefulness of them.
And yet surely if thou shalt (notwithstanding this) stumble at his meanness and want
of human learning, thou wilt declare thine unacquaintance with God's declared method,
who to perfect his own praise, and to still the enemy and avenger, makes choice of
babes and sucklings, and in their mouths ordaineth strength (Psa 8:2). Though men
that have a great design, do, and must make use of those that in reason are most
likely to effect it, yet must the Lord do so too? Then instruments (not himself)
would carry away the praise; but that no flesh should glory in his presence, he hath
chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise, and base things of
the world, and things that are despised, hath God chosen (1 Cor 1:27-29). Cast thine
eye back to the beginning of the gospel dispensation (which surely, if at any time,
should have come forth in the wisdom and glory of the world), and thou shalt see
what method the Lord did take at the first to exalt his son Jesus: he goes not amongst
the Jewish rabbis, nor to the schools of learning, to fetch out his gospel preachers,
but to the trades, and those most contemptible too; yet let not any from hence conceive
that I undervalue the gifts and graces of such who have been, or now are endued with
them, nor yet speak against learning being kept in its place; but my meaning is,
that those that are learned should not despise those that are not; or those that
are not, should not despise those that are, who are faithful in the Lord's work:
and therefore being about to leave thee, I shall leave with thee two Scriptures to
be considered of. The one is John 13:20, Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that
receiveth whomsoever I send (mark whomsoever) receiveth me; and he that receiveth
me, receiveth him that sent me. The other is Luke 10:16, He that heareth you, heareth
me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth
him that sent me.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
Friend, because it is a dangerous thing to be walking towards the lace of darkness
and anguish; and again, because it is (notwithstanding) the journey that most of
the poor souls in the world are taking, and that with delight and gladness, as if
THERE was the only happiness to be found, I have therefore thought it my duty, being
made sensible of the danger that will befal those that fall therein, for the preventing
of thee, O thou poor man or woman! to tell thee, by opening this parable, what sad
success those souls have had, and are also like to have, that have been, or shall
be found persevering therein.
We use to count him a friend that will forewarn his neighbour of the danger, when
he knoweth thereof, and doth also see that the way his neighbour is walking in doth
lead right thereto, especially when we think that our neighbour may be either ignorant
or careless of his way. Why friend, it may be, nay twenty to one, but thou hast been,
ever since thou didst come into the world, with thy back towards heaven, and thy
face towards hell; and thou, it may be, either through ignorance or carelessness,
which is as bad, if not worse, hast been running full hastily that way ever since.
Why friend? I beseech thee put a little stop to thy earnest race, and take a view
of what entertainment thou art like to have, if thou do in deed and in truth persist
in this thy course. Friend, thy way leads 'down to death,' and thy 'steps take hold
on hell' (Prov 5:5). It may be the path indeed is pleasant to the flesh, but the
end thereof will be bitter to thy soul. Hark, dost thou not hear the bitter cries
of them that are but newly gone before, saying, Let him 'dip the tip of his finger
in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame?' (Luke 16:24). Dost
thou not hear them say, Send out from the dead, to prevent my father, my brother,
and my father's house, from coming 'into this place of torment?' Shall not then these
mournful groans pierce thy flinty heart? Wilt thou stop thine ears, and shut thy
eyes? And wilt thou not regard?
Take warning and stop thy journey before it be too late. Wilt thou be like the silly
fly, that is not quiet unless she be either entangled in the spider's web, or burned
in the candle? Wilt thou be like the bird that hasteth to the snare of the fowler?
Wilt thou be like that simple one named in the seventh of Proverbs, that will be
drawn to the slaughter by the cord of a silly lust? O sinner, sinner, there are better
things than hell to be had, and at a cheaper rate by the thousandth part! O! there
is no comparison, there is heaven, there is God, there is Christ, there is communion
with an innumerable company of saints and angels. Hear the message then that God
doth send, that Christ doth send, that saints do bring, nay, that the dead do send
unto thee: 'I pray thee, therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house';
'if one went unto them from the dead they would repent.' 'How long, ye simple ones,
will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning? And fools hate
knowledge?' 'Turn you at my reproof: behold,' saith God, 'I will pour out my Spirit
unto you, I will make known my words unto you.' I say, hear this voice, O silly one,
and turn and live, thou sinful soul, lest he make thee hear that other saying, But,
'because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man
regarded; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh'
O poor soul, If God and Christ did [thus] with thee for thine harm, it would be another
matter; then if thou didst refuse, thou mightest have some excuse to make, or fault
to find, and ground to make delays. But this is for thy profit, for thy advantage,
for the pardoning of thy sins, the salvation of thy soul, the delivering of thee
from hell fire, from the wrath to come, from everlasting burnings, into favor with
God, Christ, and communion with all happiness, that is so indeed.
But it may be thou wilt say, All that hath been spoken to in this discourse is but
a parable, and parables are no realities. I could put thee off with this answer,
That though it be a parable, yet it is a truth, and not a lie; and thou shalt find
it so too, to thy cost, if thou shalt be found a slighter of God, Christ, and the
salvation of thy own soul.
But secondly, know for certain, that the things signified by parables are wonderful
realities. O what a glorious reality was there signified by that parable, 'The kingdom
of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea,' &c. Signifying, that
sinners of all sorts, of all nations, should be brought into God's kingdom, by the
net of the gospel. And O! how real a thing shall the other part thereof be, when
it is fulfilled, which saith, And 'when it was full they drew to shore, and gathered
the good into vessels, but cast the bad away' (Matt 13:47,48). Signifying the mansions
of glory that the saints should have, and also the rejection that God will give to
the ungodly, and to sinners. And also that parable, what a glorious reality is there
in it, which saith, 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit' (John 12:24). To signify that
unless Jesus Christ did indeed spill his blood, and die the cursed death, he should
abide alone; that is, have never a soul into glory with him; but if he died, he should
bring forth much fruit; that is, save many sinners. And also how real a truth there
was in that parable concerning the Jews putting Christ to death, which the poor dispersed
Jews can best experience to their cost; for they have been almost ever since a banished
people, and such as have had God's sore displeasure wonderfully manifested against
them, according to the truth of the parable (Matt 21:33-41). O therefore, for Jesus
Christ's sake, do not slight the truth, because it is discovered in a parable! For
by this argument thou mayest also, nay, thou wilt slight almost all the things that
our Lord Jesus Christ did speak; for he spake them for the most part, if not all,
in parables. Why should it be said of thee as it is said of some, These things are
spoken to them that are without 'in parables, that seeing they might not see, and
hearing they might not understand?' (Luke 8:10). I say, take heed of being a quarreller
against Christ's parables, lest Christ also object against the salvation of thy soul
at the judgment day.
Friend, I have no more to say to thee now. If thou dost love me pray for me, that
my God would not forsake me, nor take his Holy Spirit from me; and that God would
fit me to do and suffer what shall be from the world or devil inflicted upon me.
I must tell thee, the world rages, they stamp and shake their heads, and fain they
would be doing; the Lord help me to take all they shall do with patience; and when
they smite the one cheek, to turn the other to them, that I may do as Christ hath
bidden me; for then the Spirit of God, and of glory, shall rest upon me. Farewell.
I am thine, if thou be not ashamed to own me, because of my low and contemptible
descent in the world.
A Few Sighs from Hell;
The Groans of a Damned Soul..
"There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and
fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which
was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which
fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And
it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's
bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifted up his eyes,
being in torments, and seeeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he
cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip
the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,
and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And, beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they
which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would
come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst
send him to my father's house; For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto
them,lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They
have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham:
but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one
rose from the dead."
This Scripture was not spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to show you the state of two
single persons only, as some, through ignorance of the drift of Christ in his parables,
do dream; but to show you the state of the godly and ungodly to the world's end;
as is clear to him that is of an understanding heart. For he spake them to the end
that after generations should take notice thereof, and fear, lest they also fell
into the same condition. Now in my discourse upon these words I shall not be tedious;
but as briefly as I may, I shall pass through the several verses, and lay you down
some of the several truths contained therein. And the Lord grant that they may be
profitable, and of great advantage to those that read them, or hear them read.
The 19th and 20th verses also, I shall not spend much time upon, only give you three
or four short hints, and so pass to the next verses; for they are the words I do
intend most especially to insist upon.
The 19th, 20th, and 21st verses run thus:– 'There was a certain rich man which was
clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared' deliciously or 'sumptuously every day.
And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of
First. If these verses had been spoken by Jesus Christ, and no more, all the world
would have gone near to have cast a wrong interpretation on them. I say, if Jesus
had said only thus much, 'There was a certain rich man' which 'fared sumptuously
daily, and a certain beggar laid at his gate full of sores'; the world would have
made this conclusion of them–the rich man was the happy man; for, at the first view,
it doth represent such a thing; but take all together, that is, read the whole parable,
and you shall find that there is no man in a worse condition than he; as I shall
clearly hold forth afterward.
Second. Again, if a man would judge of men according to outward appearance, he shall
ofttimes take his mark amiss. Here is a man to outward appearance appears the only
blessed man, better by half than the beggar, inasmuch as he is rich, the beggar poor;
he is well clothed, but peradventure the beggar is naked; he hath good food, but
the beggar would be glad of dog's meat. 'And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which
fell from the rich man's table.' The rich man fares well every day, but the beggar
must be glad of a bit when he can get it. O! who would not be in the rich man's state?
A wealthy man, sorts of new suits and dainty dishes every day; enough to make one
who minds nothing but his belly, and his back, and his lusts, to say, O that I were
in that man's condition! O that I had about me as that man has! Then I should live
a life indeed; then should I have heart's-ease good store; then I should live pleasantly,
and might say to my soul, 'Soul,' be of good cheer, 'eat, drink, and be merry' (Luke
12:19). Thou hast everything plenty, and art in a most blessed condition.
I say, this might be, aye, and is, the conclusion with them that judge according
to outward appearance. But if the whole parable be well considered, you will see
(Luke 16:15), that which is had in high estimation with men is an abomination in
the sight of God. And again (John 16:20- 22), that condition, that is the saddest
condition, according to outward appearance, is ofttimes the most excellent; for the
beggar had ten thousand degrees the best of it, though, to outward appearance, his
state was the saddest; from whence we shall observe thus much:–1. That those who
judge according to outward appearance, do for the most part judge amiss (John 7:24).
2. That they who look upon their outward enjoyments to be token of God's special
grace unto them, are also deceived (Rev 3:17). For as it is here in the parable,
a man of wealth and a child of the devil may make but one person; or a man may have
abundance of outward enjoyments, and yet be carried by the devils into eternal burnings
(Luke 12:20). But this is the trap in which the devil hath caught many thousands
of poor souls, namely, by getting them to judge according to outward appearance,
or according to God's outward blessings.
Do but ask a poor, carnal, covetous wretch, how we should know a man to be in a happy
state, and he will answer, those that God blesseth, and giveth abundance of this
world unto; when, for the most part, they are they that are the cursed men. Alas!
poor men, they are so ignorant as to think that because a man is increased in outward
things, and that by a small stock, therefore God doth love that man with a special
love, or else he would never do so much for him, never bless him so, and prosper
the work of his hands. Ah! poor soul, it is the rich man that goes to hell. And 'the
rich man died,' and in hell, mark, 'in hell he lift up his eyes,' &c.
Methinks to see how the great ones of the world will go strutting up and down the
streets sometimes, it makes me wonder. Surely they look upon themselves to be the
only happy men; but it is because they judge according to outward appearance; they
look upon themselves to be the only blessed men, when the Lord knows the generality
are left out of that blessed condition. 'Not many wise men after the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble are called' (1 Cor 1:26). Ah! did they that do now so brag,
that nobody dare scarce look on them, but believe this, it would make them hang down
their heads and cry, O give me a Lazarus' portion.
I might here enlarge very much, but I shall not; only thus much I shall say to you
that have much of this world, Have a care that you have not your portion in this
world. Take heed that it be not said to you hereafter, when you would very willingly
have heaven, Remember in your lifetime you had your portion (Psa 17:14).
And friend, thou that seekest after this world, and desirest riches, let me ask this
question, Wouldst thou be content that God should put thee off with a portion in
this life? Wouldst thou be glad to be kept out of heaven with a back well clothed,
and a belly well filled with the dainties of this world? Wouldst thou be glad to
have all thy good things in thy lifetime, to have thy heaven to last no longer than
while thou dost live in this world? Wouldst thou be willing to be deprived of eternal
happiness and felicity? If you say no, then have a care of the world and thy sins;
have a care of desiring to be a rich man, lest thy table be made a snare unto thee
(Psa 19:22). Lest the wealth of this world do bar thee out of glory. For, as the
apostle saith, 'They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into
many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition' (1
Tim 6:9). Thus much in general; but now more particularly.
These two men here spoken of, as I said, do hold forth to us that state of the godly
and ungodly; the beggar holdest forth the godly, and the rich man the ungodly. 'There
was a certain rich man.'
But why are the ungodly held forth under the notion of a rich man? 1. Because Christ
would not have them look too high, as I said before, but that those who have riches
should have a care that they be not all their portion (James 1:10- 12; 1 Tim 6:17).
2. Because rich men are most liable to the devil's temptations; are most ready to
be puffed up with pride, stoutness, cares of this world, in which things they spend
most of their time in lusts, drunkenness, wantonness, idleness, together with the
other works of the flesh; for which things sake, the wrath of God cometh on the children
of disobedience (Col 3:6). 3. Because he would comfort the hearts of his own, which
are most commonly of the poorer sort; but God hath chosen the poor, despised, and
base things of this world (1 Cor 1:26). Should God have set the rich man in the blessed
state, his children would have concluded, being poor, that they had no share in the
life to come.
And again, had not God given such a discovery of the sad condition of those that
are for the most part rich men, we should have had men concluded absolutely that
the rich are the blessed men. Nay, albeit the Lord himself doth so evidently declare
that the rich ones of the world are, for the most part, in the saddest condition,
yet they, through unbelief, or else presumption, do harden themselves, and seek for
the glory of this world as though the Lord Jesus Christ did not mean as he said,
or else that he will say more than shall assuredly come to pass; but let them know
that the Lord hath a time to fulfil that he had a time to declare, for the scripture
cannot be broken (John 10:35).
But again, the Lord by this word doth not mean those are ungodly who are rich in
the world, and no other, for then must all those that are poor, yet graceless and
vain men, be saved and delivered from eternal vengeance, which would be contrary
to the Word of God, which saith that together with the kings of the earth, and the
great men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, there are bondmen or servants,
and slaves, that cry out at the appearance of the Almighty God, and his Son Jesus
Christ, to judgment (Rev 6:15).
So that though Christ doth say, 'There was a certain rich man,' yet you must understand
he meaneth all the ungodly, rich or poor. Nay, if you will not understand it so now,
you shall be made to understand it to be so meant at the day of Christ's second coming,
when all that are ungodly shall stand at the left hand of Christ, with pale faces
and guilty consciences, with the vials of the Almighty's wrath ready to be poured
out upon them. Thus much in brief touching the 19th verse. I might have observed
other things from it, but now I forbear, having other things to speak of at this
Verse 20.– 'And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his
gate, full of sores.'
This verse doth chiefly hold forth these things; 1. That the saints of God are a
poor contemptible people; 'There was a certain beggar.' If you understand the word
beggar to hold forth outward poverty, or scarcity in outward things, such are saints
of the Lord, for they are for the most part a poor, despised, contemptible people.
But if you allegorize it and interpret it thus, They are such as beg earnestly for
heavenly food; this is also the spirit of the children of God, and it may be, and
is a truth in this sense, though not so naturally gathered from this scripture. 2.
That 'he was laid at his gate, full of sores.' These words hold forth the distempers
of believers, saying he was 'full of sores,' which may signify the many troubles,
temptations, persecutions, and afflictions in body and spirit which they meet withal
while they are in the world, but also the entertainment they find at the hands of
those ungodly ones who live upon the earth. Whereas it is said, he was 'laid at his
gate, full of sores.' Mark, he was laid at his gate, not in his house–that was thought
too good for him–but he was laid at his gate, full of sores. From whence observe,
(1.) That the ungodly world do not desire to entertain and receive the poor saints
of God into their houses. If they must needs be somewhere near unto them, yet they
shall not come into their houses; shut them out of doors; if they will needs be near
us, let them be at the gate. And he 'was laid at his gate, full of sores.' (2.) Observe
that the world are not at all touched with the afflictions of God's children for
all they are full of sores; a despised, afflicted, tempted, persecuted people the
world doth not pity, no, but rather labour to aggravate their trouble by shutting
them out of doors; sink or swim, what cares the world? They are resolved to disown
them; they will give them no entertainment: if the lying in the streets will do them
any good, if hard usage will do them any good, if to be disowned, rejected, and shut
out of doors by the world will do them any good, they shall have enough of that;
but otherwise no refreshment, no comfort from the world. And he 'was laid at his
gate, full of sores.'
Verse 21.– 'And he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's
table: the dogs came also and licked his sores.'
By these words our Lord Jesus doth show us the frame of a Christian's heart, and
also the heart and carriage of worldly men towards the saints of the Lord. The Christian's
heart is held forth by this, that anything will content him while he is on this side
glory. And 'he desired to be fed with the crumbs'; the dogs' meat, anything. I say
a Christian will be content with anything, if he have but to keep life and soul together;
as we used to say, he is content, he is satisfied; he hath learned–if he hath learned
to be a Christian–to be content with anything; as Paul saith, 'I have learned in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content' (Phil 4:11). He learns in all conditions
to study to love God, to walk with God, to give up himself to God; and if the crumbs
that fall from the rich man's table will but satisfy nature and give him bodily strength,
that thereby he may be the more able to walk in the way of God, he is contented.
And he 'desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.'
But mark, he had them not; you do not find that he had so much as a crumb, or a scrap
allowed unto him. No, then the dogs will be beguiled, THAT must be preserved for
the dogs. From whence observe that the ungodly world do love their dogs better than
the children of God. You will say that is strange. It is so indeed, yet it is
true, as will be clearly manifested; as, for instance, how many pounds do some men
spend in a year on their dogs, when in the meanwhile the poor saints of God may starve
for hunger? They will build houses for their dogs, when the saints must be glad to
wander, and lodge in dens and caves of the earth (Heb 11:38). And if they be in any
of their houses for the hire thereof, they will warn them out or eject them, or pull
down the house over their heads, rather than not rid themselves of such tenants.
Again, some men cannot go half a mile from home but they must have dogs at their
heels, but they can very willingly go half a score miles without the society of a
Christian. Nay, if when they are busy with their dogs they should chance to meet
a Christian, they would willingly shift him if they could. They will go on the other
side the hedge or the way rather than they will have any society with him; and if
at any time a child of God should come into a house where there are but two or three
ungodly wretches, they do commonly wish either themselves or the saint out of doors;
and why so? because they cannot down with the society of a Christian; though if
there come in at the same time a dog, or a drunken swearing wretch, which is worse
than a dog, they will make him welcome; he shall sit down with them and partake of
their dainties. And now tell me, you that love your sins and your pleasures, had
you not rather keep company with a drunkard, a swearer, a strumpet, a thief, nay,
a dog, than with an honest-hearted Christian? If you say no, what means your sour
carriage to the people of God? Why do you look on them as if you would eat them up?
Yet at the very same time if you can but meet your dog, or a drunken companion, you
can fawn upon them, take acquaintance with them, to the tavern or ale house with
them, if it be two or three times in a week. But if the saints of God meet together,
pray together, and labour to edify one another, you will stay till doomsday before
you will look into the house where they are. Ah! friends, when all comes to all,
you will be found to love drunkards, strumpets, dogs, anything, nay, to serve the
devil, rather than to have loving and friendly society with the saints of God.
Moreover, 'the dogs came and licked his sores.' Here again
you may see, not only the afflicted state of the saints of God in this world, but
also that even dogs themselves, according to their kind, are more favourable to the
saints than the sinful world; though the ungodly will have no mercy on the saints,
yet it is ordered so that these creatures, dogs, lions, &c. will. Though the
rich man would not entertain him into his house, yet his dogs will come and do him
the best good they can, even to lick his running sores. It was thus with Daniel when
the world was mad against him, and would have him thrown to the lions to be devoured,
the lions shut their mouths at him, or rather the Lord did shut them up, so that
there was not that hurt befel to him as was desired by the adversaries (Dan 6). And
this I am persuaded of, that would the creatures do as some men would have them,
the saints of God should not walk so quietly up and down the streets and other places
as they do. And as I said before, so I say again, I am persuaded that, at the day
of judgment, many men's conditions and carriages will be so laid open, that it will
evidently appear they have been very merciless and mad against the children of God,
insomuch, that when the providence of God did fall out so as to cross their expectation,
they have been very much offended thereat, as is very evidently seen in them who
set themselves to study how to bring the saints into bondage, and to thrust them
into corners, as in these late years (Psa 31:13). And because God hath in his goodness
ordered things otherwise, they have gnashed their teeth thereat. Hence then let
the saints learn not to commit themselves to their enemies; 'beware of men' (Matt
10:17). They are very merciless men, and will not so much favour you, if they can
help it, as you may suppose they may. Nay, unless the overruling hand of God in goodness
do order things contrary to their natural inclination, they will not favour you so
much as a dog.
Verse 22.– 'And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels
into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.'
The former verses do briefly hold forth the carriage of the ungodly in this life
toward the saints. Now this verse doth hold forth the departure, both of the godly
and ungodly, out of this life.
Where he said, 'And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried - into
Abraham's bosom,' and 'the rich man also died';–the beggar died, that represents
the godly; and the rich man died, that represents the ungodly. From whence observe,
neither godly nor ungodly must live always without a change, either by death or judgment;
the good man died and the bad man died. That scripture doth also back this truth,
that good and bad must die, marvellous well, where it is said, 'And it is appointed
unto men once to die, but after this the judgment' (Heb 9:27).
Mark, he doth not say it is so that men by chance may die; which might beget, in
the hearts of the ungodly especially, some hope to escape the bitterness of it. But
he saith it is a thing most certain, it is appointed; mark, 'it is appointed unto
men once to die, but after this the judgment.' God hath decreed it, that since men
have fallen from that happy estate that God at the first did set them in, they shall
die (Rom 6:23). Now when it is said the beggar died and the rich man died, part of
the meaning is they ceased to be any more in this world; I say partly the meaning,
but not altogether. Though it be altogether the meaning when some of the creatures
die, yet it is but in part the meaning when it is said that men, women, or children
die; for there is to them something else to be said, more than barely agoing out
of the world. For if when unregenerate men and women die there were an end of them,
not only in this world but also in the world to come, they would be happy over they
will be now, for when ungodly men and women die there is that to come after death
that will be very terrible to them, namely, to be carried by the angels of darkness
from their death-beds to hell, there to be reserved to the judgment of the great
day, when both body and soul shall meet and be united together again, and made capable
to undergo the uttermost vengeance of the Almighty to all eternity. This is that,
I say, which doth follow a man that is not born again, after death, as is clear from
that in 1 Peter 3:18, 19, where, before speaking of Christ being raised again, by
the power of his eternal Spirit, he saith, By which, that is, by that Spirit, 'he
went and preached unto the spirits in prison.' But what is the meaning of this? Why,
thus much, that those souls who were once alive in the world in the time or days
in which Noah lived, being disobedient in their times to the calls of God by his
Spirit in Noah, for so I understand it, was, according to that which was foretold
by that preacher, deprived of life and overcome by the flood, and are now in prison.
Mark, he preached to the spirits in prison; he doth not say, who were in prison,
but to them in, that is, now in prison, under chains of darkness, reserved, or kept
there in that prison, in which now they are, ready, like villains in the jail, to
be brought before the judgment-seat of Christ at the great day. But of this I shall
speak further by and by.
Now if this one truth, that men must die and depart this world, and either enter
into joy or else into prison, to be reserved to the day of judgment, were believed,
we should not have so many wantons walk up and down the streets as there do, at least
it would put a mighty check to their filthy carriages, so that they would not, could
not walk so basely and sinfully as they do. Belshazzar, notwithstanding he was so
far from the fear of God as he was, yet when he did but see that God was offended
and threatened him for his wickedness, it made him hang down his head and knock his
knees together (Dan 5:5,6). If you read the verses before you will find he was careless,
and satisfying his lusts in drinking and playing the wanton with his concubines.
But so soon as he did perceive the finger of a hand-writing, 'then,' saith the scripture,
'the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints
of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.' And when Paul
told Felix of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, it make him tremble.
And let me tell thee, soul, whosoever thou art, that if thou didst but verily believe
that thou must die and come into the judgment, it would make thee turn over a new
leaf. But this is the misery, the devil doth labour by all means as to keep out other
things that are good, so to keep out of the heart, as much as in him lies, the thoughts
of passing from this life into another world; for he knows, if he can but keep them
from the serious thoughts of death, he shall the more easily keep them in their sins,
and so from closing with Jesus Christ; as Job saith, 'Their houses are safe from
fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.' Which makes them say to God, 'Depart
from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways' (Job 21:14). Because there
is no fear of death and judgment to come, therefore they do put off God and his ways,
and spend their days in their sins, and in a moment, that is, before they are aware,
go down to the grave (Job 21:17). And thus it fared also with the man spoken of in
Luke 12:20. The man, instead of thinking of death, he thought how he might make his
barns bigger. But, in the midst of his business in the world, he lost his soul before
he was aware, supposing that death had been many years off. But God said unto him,
'Thou fool,' thou troublest thyself about things of this life, thou puttest off the
thoughts of departing this world, when this night thy soul shall be taken from thee;
or, this night, they, that is, the devil, will fetch away thy soul from thee. And
here it comes to pass, men's not being exercised with the thoughts of departing this
life, that they are, so unexpectedly to themselves and their neighbours, taken away
from the pleasures and profits, yea, and all the enjoyments they busy themselves
withal while they live in this world. And hence it is again, that you have some in
your towns and cities that are so suddenly taken away, some from haunting the ale-
houses, others from haunting the whore-houses, others from playing and gaming, others
from the cares and covetous desires after this world, unlooked for as by themselves
or their companions. Hence it is also that men do so wonder at such tidings as this.
There is such a one dead, such a one is departed; it is because they do so little
consider both the transitoriness of themselves and their neighbours. For had they
but their thoughts well exercised about the shortness of this life, and the danger
that will befall such as do miss of the Lord Jesus Christ, it would make them more
wary and sober, and spend more time in the service of God, and be more delighted
and diligent in inquiring after the Lord Jesus, who is the deliverer 'from the wrath
to come' (1 Thess 1:10). For, as I said before, it is evident, that they who live
after the flesh in the lusts thereof, do not really and seriously think on death,
and the judgment that doth follow after: neither do they indeed endeavour so to do;
for did they, it would make them say with holy Job, 'All the days of my appointed
time will I wait till my change come' (Job 14:14). And as I said before, that not
only the wicked, but also the godly have their time to depart this life. And the
beggar died. The saints of the Lord, they must be deprived of this life also, they
must yield up the ghost into the hands of the Lord their God; they must also be separated
from their wives, children, husbands, friends, goods, and all that they have in the
world. For God hath decreed it; it is appointed, namely, by the Lord, for men once
to die, and 'we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ,' as it is, 2
Corinthian 5:10, 11.
But it may be objected, if the godly do die as well as the wicked, and if the saints
must appear before the judgment- seat as well as the sinners, then what advantage
have the godly more than the ungodly, and how can the saints be in a better condition
than the wicked?
Answ. Read the 22d verse over again, and you will find a marvellous difference between
them, as much as is between heaven and hell, everlasting joy and everlasting torments;
for you find, that when the beggar died, which represents the godly, he was carried
by the angels into Abraham's bosom, or into everlasting joy (Psa 1). But the ungodly
are not so, but are hurried by the devils into the bottomless pit, drawn away in
their wickedness (Prov 14:32), for he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
When the ungodly do die, their misery beginneth, for then appear the devils, like
so many lions, waiting every moment till the soul depart from the body. Sometimes
they are very visible to the dying party, but sometimes more invisible; but always
this is certain, they never miss of the soul if it do die out of the Lord Jesus Christ;
but do hale it away to the prison, as I said before, there to be tormented and reserved
until that great and general day of judgment, at which day they must, body and soul,
receive a final sentence from the righteous Judge, and from that time be shut out
from the presence of God into everlasting woe and distress. But the godly, when the
time of their departure is at hand, then also are the angels of the Lord at hand;
yea, they are ready waiting upon the soul to conduct it safe into Abraham's bosom.
I do not say but the devils are ofttimes very busy doubtless, and attending the saints
in their sickness: ay, and no question but they would willingly deprive the soul
of glory. But here is the comfort, as the devils come from hell to devour the soul,
if it be possible, at its departure, so the angels of the Lord come from heaven,
to watch over and conduct the soul, in spite of the devil, safe into Abraham's bosom.
David had the comfort of this, and speaks it forth for the comfort of his brethren
(Psa 34:7), saying, 'The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him,
and delivereth them.' Mark, the angel of the Lord encampeth round about his children,
to deliver them. From what? From their enemies, of which the devil is not the least.
This is an excellent comfort at any time, to have the holy angels of God to attend
a poor man or woman; but especially it is comfortable in the time of distress, at
the time of death, when the devils beset the soul with all the power that hell can
afford them. But now it may be, that the glorious angels of God do not appear at
the first, to the view of the soul; nay, rather hell stands before it, and the devils
ready, as if they would carry it thither. But this is the comfort, the angels do
always appear at the last, and will not fail the soul, but will carry it safe into
Abraham's bosom. Ah friends, consider, here is an ungodly man upon his death- bed,
and he hath none to speak for him, none to speak comfort unto him; but it is not
so with the children of God, for they have the Spirit to comfort them. Here is the
ungodly, and they have no Christ to pray for their safe conduct to glory; but the
saints have an intercessor (John 17:9). Here is the world, when they die, they have
none of the angels of God to attend upon them; but the saints have their company.
In a word, the unconverted person, when he dieth, he sinks into the bottomless pit;
but the saints, when they die, do ascend with, and by the angels, into Abraham's
bosom, or into unspeakable glory (Luke 23:43).
Again, it is said, that the rich man when he died was buried or put into the earth;
but when the beggar died, he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The
one is a very excellent style, where he saith he was carried by angels into Abraham's
bosom: it denotes the excellent condition of the saints of God, as I said before;
and not only so, but also the preciousness of the death of the saints in the eyes
of the Lord (Psa 116:15). That after-generations may see how precious in the sight
of the Lord the death of his saints is, when he saith they are carried by the angels
into Abraham's bosom.
Thus many times the Lord adorneth the death and departure of his saints, to hold
forth unto after-generations, how excellent they are in his eyes. It is said of Enoch,
that God took him; of Abraham, that he died in a good old age; of Moses, that the
Lord buried him; of Elijah, that he was taken up into heaven; that the saints sleep
in Jesus; that they die in the Lord; that they rest from their labour, that their
works follow them; that they are under the altar; that they are with Christ; that
they are in light; that they are to come with the Lord Jesus to judge the world.
All which sayings signify thus much, that to die a saint is very great honour and
dignity. But the ungodly are not so. The rich or ungodly die and are buried; he is
carried from his dwelling to the grave, and there he is buried, hid in the dust;
and his body doth not so fast moulder and come to nought there, but his name doth
stink as fast in the world, as saith the holy scripture: 'The name of the wicked
shall rot' (Prov 10:7). And indeed, the names of the godly are not in so much honour
after their departure, but the wicked and their names do as much rot. What a dishonour
to posterity was the death of Balaam, Agag, Ahithophel, Haman, Judas, Herod, with
the rest of their companions?
Thus the wicked have their names written in the earth, and they do perish and rot,
and the name of the saints do cast forth a dainty savour to following generations;
and that the Lord Jesus doth signify where he saith the godly are 'carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom'; and that the wicked are nothing worth, where he saith
the ungodly die and are buried.
Verse 23.– 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
The former verse speaks only of the departure of the ungodly out of this life, together
with the glorious conduct that the godly have into the kingdom of their Father.
Now our Lord doth show, in this verse, partly what doth and shall befal to the reprobate
after this life is ended, where he saith, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' That
is, the ungodly, after they depart this life, do lift up their eyes in hell.
From these words may be observed these things, First. That there is a hell for souls
to be tormented in, when this life is ended. Mark, after he was dead and buried,
'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Second. That all that are ungodly, and do live and
die in their sins, so soon as ever they die, they go into hell: he died and was buried;
'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Third. That some are so fast asleep, and secure
in their sins, that they scarce know well where they are till they come into hell;
and that I gather from these words, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' He was asleep
before, but hell makes him lift up his eyes.
[First.] As I said before, it is evident that there is a hell for souls, yea, and
bodies too, to be tormented in after they depart this life, as is clear, first, because
the Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot lie, did say that after the sinner was dead and
buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.'
Now if it be objected that by hell is here meant the grave, that I plainly deny:
1. Because there the body is not sensible of torment or ease; but in that hell into
which the spirits of the damned depart, they are sensible of torment, and would very
willingly be freed from it, to enjoy ease, which they are sensible of the want of;
as is clearly discovered in this parable, 'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip
of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' 2. It is not meant the grave, but some
other place, because the bodies, so long as they lie there, are not capable of lifting
up their eyes, to see the glorious condition of the children of God, as the souls
of the damned do. 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' 3. It cannot be the grave, for
then it must follow that the soul was buried there with the body, which cannot stand
with such a dead state as is here mentioned; for he saith, 'The rich man died'; that
is, his soul was separated from his body. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
If it be again objected that there is no hell but in this life; that I do also deny,
as I said before: after he was dead and buried, 'In hell he lifted up his eyes.'
And let me tell thee, O soul, whoever thou art, that if thou close not in savingly
with the Lord Jesus Christ, and lay hold on what he hath done and is doing in his
own person for sinners, thou wilt find such a hell after this life is ended, that
thou wilt not get out of again for ever and ever. And thou that art wanton, and dost
make but a mock at the servants of the Lord, when they tell thee of the torments
of hell, thou wilt find that when thou departest out of this life, that hell, even
the hell which is after this life, will meet thee in thy journey thither; and will,
with its hellish crew, give thee such a sad salutation that thou wilt not forget
it to all eternity. When that scripture comes to be fulfilled on thy soul, in Isaiah
14:9, 10, 'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth
up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from
their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they,' that is, that are in hell,
shall say, 'Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?' O sometimes
when I have had but thoughts of going to hell, and consider the everlastingness of
their ruin that fall in thither, it hath stirred me up rather to seek to the Lord
Jesus Christ to deliver me from thence, than to slight it, and make a mock at it.
'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Second.] The second thing I told you was this, that all the ungodly that live and
die in their sins, so soon as ever they depart this life, do descend into hell. This
is also verified by the words in this parable, where Christ said, He 'died and was
buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes.' As the tree falls, so it shall be, whether
it be to heaven or hell (Eccl 11:3). And as Christ said to the thief on the cross,
'Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.' Even so the devil in the like manner may
say unto thy soul, To-morrow shalt thou be with me in hell. See then what a miserable
case he that dies in an unregenerate state is in; he departs from a long sickness
to a longer hell; from the gripings of death, to the everlasting torments of hell.
'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' Ah friends! If you were but yourselves, you
would have a care of your souls; if you did but regard, you would see how mad they
are that slight the salvation of their souls. O what will it profit thy soul to have
pleasure in this life, and torments in hell? (Mark 8:36). Thou hadst better part
with all thy sins, and pleasures, and companions, or whatsoever thou delightest in,
than to have soul and body to be cast into hell. O then do not now neglect our Lord
Jesus Christ, lest thou drop down to hell (Heb 2:3). Consider, would it not wound
thee to thine heart to come upon thy death-bed, and instead of having the comfort
of a well spent life, and the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, together with the
comforts of his glorious Spirit: to have, first, the sight of an ill-spent life,
thy sins flying in thy face, thy conscience uttering itself with thunder-claps against
thee, the thoughts of God terrifying of thee, death with his merciless paw seizing
upon thee, the devils standing ready to scramble for thy soul, and hell enlarging
herself, and ready to swallow thee up; and an eternity of misery and torment attending
upon thee, from which there will be no release.
For mark, death doth not come alone to an unconverted soul, but with such company,
as wast thou but sensible of it would make thee tremble. I pray consider that scripture
(Rev 6:8), 'And I looked and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was
Death, and hell followed with him.' Mark, death doth not come alone to the ungodly,
no, but hell goeth with him. O miserable comforters! O miserable society! Here comes
death and hell unto thee. Death goeth into thy body, and separates body and soul
asunder; hell stands without, as I may say, to embrace, or rather, to crush thy soul
between its everlasting grinders. Then thy mirth, thy joy, thy sinful delights will
be ended when this comes to pass. Lo it will come. Blessed are all those that through
Christ Jesus his merits, by faith, do escape these soul-murdering companions. 'And
in hell he lifted up his eyes.'
[Third.] The third thing you know that we did observe from these words was this,
That some are so fast asleep, and secure in their sins, that they scarce know where
they are, until they come into hell. And that I told you I gather by these words,
'In hell he lifted up his eyes.' Mark, it was in hell that he lift up his eyes. Now
some do understand by these words that he came to himself, or began to consider with
himself, or to think with himself in what an estate he was, and what he was deprived
of; which is still a confirmation of the thing laid down by me. There it is that
they come to themselves, that is, there they are sensible where they are indeed.
Thus it fares with some men that they scarce know where they are, till they lift
up their eyes in hell. It is with those people as with those that fall down in a
swoon; you know if a man do fall down in a swoon in one room, though you take him
up and carry him into another, yet he is not sensible where he is till he cometh
unto himself, and lifteth up his eyes.
Truly thus, it is to be feared, it is with many poor souls, they are so senseless,
so hard, so seared in their conscience (1 Tim 4:2), that they are very ignorant of
their state; and when death comes it strikes them as it were into a swoon, especially
if they die suddenly, and so they are hurried away, and scarce know where they are
till in hell they lift up their eyes: this is he who 'dieth in his full strength,
being wholly at ease and quiet' (Job 21:23).
Of this sort are they spoken of in Psalm 73, where he saith, 'There are no bands
in their death: but their strength is firm.' 'They are not in trouble as other men,
neither are they plagued like other men.' And again, 'they spend their days in wealth,
and in a moment,' mark, 'in a moment,' before they are aware, they 'go down to the
grave' (Job 21:13).
Indeed this is too much known by woeful and daily experience; sometimes when we go
to visit them that are sick in the towns and places where we live, O how senseless,
how seared in their consciences are they! They are neither sensible of heaven nor
of hell, of sin nor of a Saviour; speak to them of their condition, and the state
of their souls, and you shall find them as ignorant as if they had no souls to regard.
Others, though they lie ready to die, yet they are busying themselves about their
outward affairs, as though they should certainly live here, even to live and enjoy
the same for ever. Again, come to others, speak to them about the state of their
souls, though they have no more experience of the new birth than a beast, yet will
they speak as confidently of their eternal state, and the welfare of their souls,
as if they had the most excellent experience of any man or woman in the world, saying,
'I shall have peace' (Deut 29:19). When, as I said even now, the Lord knows they
are as ignorant of the new birth, of the nature and operation of faith, of the witness
of the Spirit, as if there were no new birth, no faith, no witness of the Spirit
of Christ in any of the saints in the world. Nay, thus many of them are, even an
hour or less before their departure. Ah, poor souls! though they may go away here
like a lamb, as the world says, yet, if you could but follow them a little, to stand
and listen soon after their departure, it is to be feared, you should hear them roar
like a lion at their first entrance into hell, far worse than even did Korah, &c.,
when they went down quick into the ground (Num 16:31-35).
Now, by this one thing doth the devil take great advantage on the hearts of the ignorant,
suggesting unto them that because the party deceased departed so quietly, without
all doubt they are gone to rest and joy; when, alas! it is to be feared the reason
why they went away so quietly, was rather because they were senseless and hardened
in their consciences; yea, dead before in sins and trespasses. For, had they had
but some awakenings on their death-beds, as some have had, they would have made all
the town to ring of their doleful condition; but because they are seared and ignorant,
and so depart quietly, therefore the world takes heart at grass, as we use to
say, and make no great matter of living and dying they cannot tell how; 'therefore
pride compasseth them as a chain' (Psa 75:6). But let them look to themselves, for
if they have not an interest in the Lord Jesus now, while they live in the world,
they will, whether they die raging or still, go unto the same place; 'and lifted
up their eyes in hell.'
O, my friends, did you but know what a miserable condition they are in that go out
of this world without an interest in the Son of God, it would make you smite upon
your thigh, and in the bitterness of your souls cry out, 'Men and brethren, what
shall we do to be saved?' (Acts 16:29- 31). And not only so, but thou wouldst not
be comforted until thou didst find a rest for thy soul in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 23. 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
Something, in brief, I have observed from the first part of this verse, namely, from
these words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes.' And, indeed, I have observed but
something, for they are very full of matter, and many things might be taken notice
of in them. There is one thing more that I might touch upon, as touched in this saying,
and that is this:–Methinks the Lord Jesus Christ doth hereby signify that men are
naturally unwilling to see or take notice of their sad state, I say by nature; but
though now they are willingly ignorant, yet in hell they shall lift up their eyes.
That is, in hell they shall see and understand their miserable condition; and, therefore,
to these words: 'In hell he lifted up his eyes,' he adds, 'being in torments.' As
if he had said, though once they shut their eyes, though once they were willingly
ignorant (2 Peter 3:5), yet, when they depart into hell, they shall be so miserably
handled and tormented, that they shall be forced to lift up their eyes. While men
live in this world, and are in a natural state, they will have a good conceit of
themselves, and of their condition–they will conclude that they are Christians, that
Abraham is their father, and their state to be as good as the best (Matt 3:7-9).
They will conclude they have faith, the Spirit, a good hope, and an interest in the
Lord Jesus Christ; but then, when they drop into hell, and lift up their eyes there,
and behold first their soul to be in extreme torments; their dwelling to be the bottomless
pit; their company thousands of damned souls; also the innumerable company of devils;
and the hot scalding vengeance of God, not only to drop, but to fall very violently
upon them; then they will begin to be awakened, who all their lifetime where in a
dead sleep. I say, when this comes to pass, lo it will; then in hell they shall lift
up their eyes, in the midst of torments they shall lift up their eyes.
Again, you may observe in these words, 'And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being
in torments,' that the time of the ungodly men's smarting for their sins will be
in the torments of hell. Now here I am put to a stand, when I consider the torments
of hell into which the damned do fall. O unspeakable torments! O endless torments!
Now that thy soul might be made to flee from those intolerable torments into which
the damned do go, I shall show you briefly what are the torments of hell. First.
By the names of it. Second. by the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.
First. The names. It is called a never-dying worm (Mark 9). It is called an oven
fire, hot (Mal 4:1). It is called a furnace, a fiery-furnace (Matt 13). It is called
the bottomless pit, the unquenchable fire, fire and brimstone, hell fire, the lake
of fire, devouring fire, everlasting fire, eternal fire, a stream of fire (Rev 21).
[Second. By the sad state thou wilt be in, if thou comest there.]
1. One part of thy torments will be this, thou shalt have a full sight of all thy
ill spent life, from first to last; though here thou canst sin today and forget it
by to-morrow, yet there thou shalt be made to remember how thou didst sin against
God at such a time, and in such a place, for such a thing, and with such a one, which
will be a hell unto thee. God will 'set them in order before thine eyes' (Psa 51:21).
2. Thou shalt have the guilt of them all lie heavy on thy soul, not only the guilt
of one or two, but the guilt of them all together, and there they shall lie in thy
soul, as if thy belly were full of pitch, and set on a light fire. Here men can sometimes
think on their sins with delight, but there with unspeakable torment; for that I
understand to be the fire that Christ speaketh of, which shall never be quenched
(Mar 9:43-49). While men live here, O how doth the guilt of one sin sometimes crush
the soul! It makes a man in such plight that he is weary of his life, so that he
can neither rest at home nor abroad, neither up nor in bed. Nay, I do know that
they have been so tormented with the guilt of one sinful thought, that they have
been even at their wits' end, and have hanged themselves. But now when thou comest
into hell, and hast not only one or two, or an hundred sins, with the guilt of them
all on thy soul and body, but all the sins that ever thou didst commit since thou
camest into the world, altogether clapped on thy conscience at one time, as one should
clap a red hot iron to thy breasts, and there to continue to all eternity: this is
3. Again, then thou shalt have brought into thy remembrance the slighting of the
gospel of Christ; here thou shalt consider how willing Christ was to come into the
world to save sinners, and for what a trifle thou didst reject him. This is plainly
held forth in Isaiah 28, where, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation
of salvation, verse 16, he saith of them that reject the gospel, that, when the overflowing
scourge doth pass through the earth, which I understand to be at the end of the world,
then, saith he, it shall take you morning by morning, by day and by night shall it
pass over you; that is, continually, without any intermission. 'And it shall be a
vexation only to understand the report.' 'A vexation,' that is, a torment, or a great
part of hell only to understand the report, to understand the good tidings that came
into the world by Christ's death for poor sinners. And you will find this verily
to be the mind of the Spirit, if you compare it with Isaiah 53:1, where he speaks
of men's turning their backs upon the tenders of God's grace in the gospel, he saith,
'Who hath believed our report?' or the gospel declared by us? Now this will be a
mighty torment to the ungodly, when they shall understand the goodness of God was
so great that he even sent his Son out of his bosom to die for sinners, and yet that
they should be so foolish as to put him off from one time to another; that they should
be so foolish as to lose heaven and Christ, and eternal life in glory, for the society
of a company of drunkards; that they should lose their souls for a little sport,
for this world, for a strumpet, for that which is lighter than vanity and nothing;
I say this will be a very great torment unto thee.
4. Another part of thy torment will be this: Thou shalt see thy friends, thy acquaintance,
they neighbours; nay, it may be thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thy
children, thy brother, thy sister, with others, in the kingdom of heaven, and thyself
thrust out (Luke 13:28). 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall
see Abraham (your father), and Isaac, and Jacob, (together with your brethren), and
all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, and you yourselves thrust out.' Nay, saith
he, 'they shall come from the east, and from the west'–that is, those that thou didst
never see in all thy life before, and they shall sit down with thy friends, and thy
neighbours, thy wife and thy children, in the kingdom of heaven, and thou, for thy
sins and disobedience, shall be shut, nay, thrust out. O wonderful torment!
5. Again, thou shalt have none but a company of damned souls, with an innumerable
company of devils, to keep company with thee. While thou art in this world, the very
thoughts of the devils appearing to thee makes thy flesh to tremble, and thine hair
ready to stand upright on thy head. But O! what wilt thou do, when not only the supposition
of the devils appearing, but the real society of all the devils in hell will be with
thee howling and roaring, screeching and roaring in such a hideous manner, that thou
wilt be even at thy wits' end, and be ready to run stark mad again for anguish and
6. Again, that thou mightest be tormented to purpose, the mighty God of heaven will
lay as great wrath and vengeance upon thee as ever he can, by the might of his glorious
power. As I said before, thou shalt have his wrath, not by drops, but by whole showers
shall it come, thunder, thunder, upon thy body and soul so fast, and so thick, that
thou shalt be tormented out of measure. And so saith the Scripture (2 Thess 1:9),
speaking of the wicked, 'Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,' when the saints shall
be admiring his goodness and glory. Again, this thou shalt have, as I said before,
without any intermission; thou shalt not have any ease so long as while a man may
turn himself round; thou shalt have it always every hour, day and night; for their
worm never dies, but always gnaws, and their fire is never quenched; as it is written
in Mark 9.
7. Again, in this condition thou must be for ever, and that is as sad as all the
rest. For if a man were to have all his sins laid to his charge, and communion with
the devils, and as much wrath as the great God of heaven can inflict unto him; I
say, if it were but for a time, even ten thousand years, and so end, there would
be ground of comfort, and hopes of deliverance; but here is thy misery, this is thy
state for ever, here thou must be for ever: when thou lookest about thee, and seest
what an innumerable company of howling devils thou art amongst, thou shalt think
this again, this is my portion for ever. When thou hast been in hell so many thousand
years as there are stars in the firmament, or drops in the sea, or sands on the sea-shore,
yet thou hast to lie there for ever. O this one word EVER, how will it torment thy
Friends, I have only given a very short touch of the torments of hell. O! I am set,
I am set, and am not able to utter what my mind conceives of the torments of hell.
Yet this let me say to thee, accept of God's mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ,
lest thou feel THAT with thy conscience which I cannot express with my tongue, and
say, I am sorely tormented in this flame.
'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
When the damned are in this pitiful state, surrounded with fears, with terrors, with
torment and vengeance, one thing they shall have, which is this, they shall see the
happy and blessed state of God's children. He seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus
in his bosom; which, as I said before, is the happy state of the saints when this
life is ended. This now shall be so far from being an ease unto them, that it shall
most wonderfully aggravate or heighten their torment, as I said before. There shall
be weeping, or cause of lamentation, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and
Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, and themselves thrust out.
1. Observe, Those that die in their sins are far from going to heaven; he seeth Abraham
afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And, indeed, it is just with God to deal with
them that die in their sins according to what they have done; and to make them who
are far from righteousness now, to stand far from heaven to all eternity. Hearken
to this, ye stout- hearted, that are far from righteousness, and that are resolved
to go on in your sins, when you die you will be far from heaven; you will see Lazarus,
but it will be afar off.
Again, he 'seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.'
These are some of the things the damned do behold, so soon as they come into torment.
Mark, and he 'seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.' Lazarus, who was he? Why even he
that was so slighted, so disregarded, so undervalued by this ungodly one while he
was in the world, he seeth Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.
From whence observe, That those who live and die the enemies of the saints of God,
let them be never so great, or stout, let them bear never so much sway while they
are in the world, let them brag and boast never so much while they are here, they
shall, in spite of their teeth, see the saints, yea, the poor saints, even the Lazaruses
or the ragged ones that belong to Jesus, to be in a better condition than themselves.
O! who do you think was in the best condition? who do you think saw themselves in
the best condition? He that was in hell, or he that was in heaven? He that was in
darkness, or he that was in light? He that was in everlasting joy, or he that was
in everlasting torments? The one with God, Christ, saints, angels, the other in tormenting
flames, under the curse of God's eternal hatred, with the devils and their angels,
together with an innumerable company of howling, roaring, cursing, ever- burning
reprobates? Certainly, this observation will be easily proved to be true here in
this world, by him that looks upon it with an understanding heart, and will clear
itself to be true in the world to come, by such as shall go either to heaven or to
2. The second observation from these words, 'And seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus
in his bosom,' is this; they that are the persecutors of the saints of the Lord now
in this world, shall see the Lord's persecuted ones to be they that are so highly
esteemed by the Lord, as to sit or to be in Abraham's bosom, in everlasting glory,
though they, the enemies to the children of God, did so lightly esteem them,
that they scorned to let them gather up the dog's meat that falls under their table.
This is also verified, and held forth plainly by this parable. And therefore be not
grieved, O you that are the tempted, persecuted, afflicted, sighing, praying saints
of the Lord, though your adversaries look upon you now with a disdainful, surly,
rugged, proud, and haughty countenance, yet the time shall come when they shall spy
you in Abraham's bosom!
I might enlarge upon these things, but shall leave them to the Spirit of the Lord,
which can better by ten thousand degrees enlarge them on thy heart and conscience,
than I can upon a piece of paper. Therefore, leaving these to the blessing of the
Lord, I shall come to the next verse, and shall be brief in speaking to that also,
and so pass to the rest.
Verse 24.– 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,
that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented
in this flame.'
You know I told you that verse 22 is a discovery of the departure of the godly and
the ungodly out of this life; where he saith the beggar died, and the rich man also
died. The 23d verse is a discovery of the proper places, both of the godly and the
ungodly after death; one being in Abraham's bosom, or in glory, the other in hell.
Now this 24th verse is a discovery of part of the too late repentance of the ungodly,
when they are dropped down into hell; 'And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have
mercy on me.' From these words, 'And he cried,' we may observe,
First. What a change the ungodly will have when they come into hell. 'He cried.'
It is like he was laughing, jesting, jeering, drinking, mocking, swearing, cursing,
prating, persecuting of the godly in his prosperity, among his filthy companions.
But now the case is otherwise, now he is in another frame, now his proud, stout,
currish carriage, is come down; 'And he cried.' The laughter of the ungodly will
not last always, but will be sure to end in a cry; 'The triumphing of the wicked
is short' (Job 20:5). Consider, you must have a change either here or in hell. If
you be not new creatures, regenerate persons, new-born babes, in this world, before
you go hence, your note will be changed, your conditions will be changed; for if
you come into hell, you must cry. O did but the singing drunkards, when they are
making merry on the ale bench, think on this, it would make them change their
note, and cry, What shall I do? Whither shall I go when I die? But, as I said before,
the devil, as he labours to get poor souls to follow their sins, so he labours also
to keep the thoughts of eternal damnation out of their minds; and, indeed, these
two things are so nearly linked together, that the devil cannot well get the soul
to go on in sin with delight unless he can keep the thoughts of that terrible after
clap out of their minds.
But let them know that it shall not always be thus with them; for if, when they depart,
they drop down into eternal destruction, they shall have such a sense of their sins,
and the punishment due to the same, that it shall make them to cry; 'And he cried.'
O what an alteration will there be among the ungodly when they go out of this world?
It may be a fortnight, or a month before their departure, they were light, stout,
surly, drinking themselves drunk, slighting God's people, mocking at goodness, and
delighting in sin, following the world, seeking after riches, faring deliciously,
keeping company with the bravest; but now, they are dropped down into hell, they
cry. A little while ago they were painting their faces, feeding their lusts, following
their whores, robbing their neighbours, telling of lies, following of plays and sports,
to pass away the time; but now they are in hell, they do cry. It may be last year
they heard some good sermons, were invited to receive heaven, were told their sins
should be pardoned if they closed in with Jesus; but, refusing his proffers, and
slighting the grace that was once tendered, they are now in hell, and do cry.
Before, they had so much time, they thought that they could not tell how to spend
it, unless it were in hunting, and whoring, in dancing, and playing, and spending
whole hours, yea, days, nay, weeks, in the lusts of the flesh; but when they depart
into another place, and begin to lift up their eyes in hell, and consider their miserable
and irrecoverable condition, they will cry.
O what a condition wilt thou fall into, when thou dost depart this world; if thou
depart unconverted, and not born again, thou hadst better have been smothered the
first hour thou wast born; thou hadst better have been plucked one limb from another;
thou hadst better have been made a dog, a toad, a serpent, nay, any other creature
in the visible world, than to die unconverted; and this thou wilt find to be
true, when in hell thou dost lift up thine eyes, and dost cry.
Here then, before we go any further, you may see that it is not without good ground
that these words are here spoken by our Lord, that when any of the ungodly do depart
into hell, they will cry. Cry, why so? 1. They will cry to think that they should
be cut off from the land of the living, never more to have any footing therein. 2.
They will cry to think that the gospel of Christ should be so often proffered them,
and yet they are not profited by it. 3. They will cry to think that now, though they
would never so willingly repent and be saved, yet they are past all recovery. 4.
They will cry to think that they should be so foolish as to follow their pleasures,
when others were following of Christ (Luke 13:28). 5. They will cry to think that
they must be separated from God, Christ, and the kingdom of heaven, and that for
ever. 6. To think that their crying will now do them no good. 7. To think that, at
the day of judgment, they must stand at the left hand of Christ, among an innumerable
company of the damned ones. 8. They will cry to think that Lazarus, whom once they
slighted, must be of them that must sit down with Christ to judge; or together with
Christ, to pass a sentence of condemnation on their souls for ever and ever (1 Cor
6:2,3). 9. Cry to think that when the judgment is over, and others are taken into
the everlasting kingdom of glory, then they must depart back again into that dungeon
of darkness from whence they came out, to appear before the terrible tribunal. There
they shall be tormented so long as eternity lasts, without the least intermission
How sayest thou, O thou wanton, proud, swearing, lying, ungodly wretch, whether this
be to be slighted and made a mock at. And again tell me now, if it be not better
to leave sin, and to close in with Christ Jesus, notwithstanding that reproach thou
shalt meet with for so doing, than to live a little while in this world in pleasures
and feeding thy lusts, in neglecting the welfare of thy soul, and refusing to be
justified by Jesus; and in a moment to drop down to hell and to cry? O! consider,
I say, consider betimes, and put not off the tenders of the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, lest you lift up your eyes in hell, and cry for anguish of spirit.
'And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,' &c.
[Second.] These words do not only hold forth the lamentable condition of the damned,
and their lamentable howling and crying out under their anguish of spirit, but also
they do signify to us, as I said before, their too late repentance; and also that
they would very willingly, if they might, be set at liberty from that everlasting
misery that by their sins they have plunged themselves into. I say, these words do
hold forth a desire that the damned have, to be delivered from those torments that
they now are in: O 'Father Abraham,' saith he, 'have mercy on me, and send Lazarus,
that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented
in this flame.' These words, 'Father Abraham,' may have some difficulty in them.
It is possible that some may think them to be meant of Abraham; and those, or him
that crieth out here, to be the Jews. Or it may be some may understand it to be God,
or Jesus Christ his Son, which I rather suppose it may be, that is here cried out
unto; because you find the same cry to him as it were uttered by the ungodly in other
places of the Scripture; as in Luke 13:25, 26. Then shall they say, 'Lord, Lord,
we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.' Nay
more, 'In thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works'
(Matt 7:22). This was just at their rejection. And again, in Matthew 25:11, they
cry again to him, even to Jesus, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' And he there again gives
them a repulse, as also in this parable.
But however or whosoever Abraham is, yet these truths may be observed from the words.
1. That the damned, when in an irrecoverable estate, will seek for, or desire deliverance
from the wrath that they are and shall be in for eternity. 'Surely in the floods
of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him' (Psa 32:6). 2. That they will
pray, if I may so call it, earnestly for deliverance from their miserable estate.
These two things are clear from the words. For mark, he not only said, 'Father Abraham,
have mercy on me'; but 'he CRIED,' and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me.'
3. From whence take a third observation; and that is, there is a time coming wherein,
though men shall both cry and pray, yet they are like to have no mercy at the hands
of God; for so was this man served, as I shall further show by and by when I come
Some people are so deluded by the devil as to think that God is so merciful as to
own or regard anything for prayer; they think anything will go for current and good
satisfaction, while they are here in this world, through ignorance of the true nature
of the mercy of God, and the knowledge in what way God is satisfied for sinners.
Now I say, through ignorance they think, that if they do but mutter over some form
of prayers, though they know not what they say, nor what they request, yet God
is satisfied, yea, very well satisfied with their doings; when, alas! there is nothing
less. O friends, I beseech you to look about you, and seek in good earnest for the
Spirit of Christ so to help you now, to strive and pray, and to enable you to lay
hold of Christ, that your souls may be saved, lest the time come that though you
cry and pray, and wish also that you had laid hold on the Lord Jesus, yet you must
and shall be damned.
Then again, you may see that though God be willing to save sinners at some time,
yet this time doth not always last. No, he that can find in his heart to turn his
back upon Jesus Christ now, shall have the back turned upon him hereafter, when he
may cry and pray for mercy, and yet go without it. God will have a time to meet with
them that now do not seek after him. They shall have a time, yea time enough hereafter
to repent their folly, and to befool themselves, for turning their backs upon the
Lord Jesus Christ. 'I will laugh at your calamity,' saith he, and 'mock when your
fear cometh' (Prov 1:26).
Again, this should admonish us to take time while it is proffered, lest we repent
us of our unbelief and rebellion when we are deprived of it. Ah friends! Time is
precious, an hour's time to hear a sermon is precious. I have sometimes thought thus
with myself, Set the case, the Lord should send two or three of his servants, the
ministers of the gospel, to hell among the damned, with this commission; Go ye to
hell, and preach my grace to those that are there. Let your sermon be an hour long,
and hold forth the merits of my Son's birth, righteousness, death, resurrection,
ascension, and intercession, with all my love in him, and proffer it to them, telling
them that now once more, and but once, do I proffer the means of reconciliation to
them. They who are now roaring, being past hope, would then leap at the least proffer
of mercy. O they that could spend whole days, weeks, nay, years, in rejecting the
Son of God, would now be glad of one tender of that mercy. 'Father,' saith he, 'have
mercy on me.'
Again, from these words you may observe, that mercy would be welcome when souls are
under judgment. Now his soul is in the fire, now he is under the wrath of God, now
he is in hell, there to be tormented; now he is with the devils and damned spirits;
now he feels the vengeance of God. Now, O now, have mercy on me! Here you may see,
that mercy is prized by them that are in hell, they would be glad if they could have
it. Father, have mercy on me; for my poor soul's sake, send me a little mercy.
'And send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
[Third.] These words do not only hold forth that the ungodly have a desire of mercy,
but what those mercies are, what these poor creatures would be glad of. As, 1. to
have the company of a Lazarus granted to them. Father Abraham, have mercy on me,
and send Lazarus. Now Lazarus was he that was beloved of God, and also he that was
hated of them. Therefore, 2. Observe, that those saints, that the world in their
lifetime could not endure, now they are departed, they would be glad to have society
with them. O now send Lazarus! Though the time was when I cared not for him, yet
now let me have some society with him.
Though the world disregard the society of God's children now, yet there is a time
coming in which they would be glad to have the least company with them. Nay, do but
observe, those of the saints that are now most rejected by them, even from them shall
they be glad of comfort, if it might be. Send Lazarus; he that I slighted more than
my dogs, he that I could not endure should come into my house, but must lie at my
gate, send him. Now Lazarus shall be welcome to me, now do I desire some comfort
from him; but he shall go without it.
From whence again observe, that there is a time coming, O ye surly dogged persecutors
of the saints, that they shall slight you as much as ever you slighted them. You
have given them many an hard word, told many a lie of them, given them many a blow.
And now in your greatest need and extremity they shall not pity you, the righteous
shall rather 'rejoice when he seeth the vengeance' of God upon thee (Psa 58:10).
Again, Send Lazarus. From whence observe, that any of the saints shall then be owned
by you to be saints. Now you look upon them to be the sect with Hymeneus and Philetus,
but then you shall see them to be the Lazaruses of God, even God's dear children.
Though now the saints of the Lord will not be owned by you, because they are beggarly,
low, poor, contemptible among you; yet the day is coming that you shall own them,
desire their company, and wish for the least courtesy from them.
'Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue;
for I am tormented in this flame.'
Thus shall the souls that abide in their sins cry out in the bitterness of their
spirits, with wonderful anguish and torment of conscience, without intermission;
'That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' That he, namely,
the man who before I scorned should eat with the dogs of my flock, that before I
slighted and had no regard of, that I shut out of door; send him, 'that he may dip
the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.'
Now these words, 'that he may dip the tip of his finger in water,' &c., do hold
forth the least friendship or favour; as if he should have said, Now I would be glad
of the least mercy, now I would be glad of the least comfort, though it be but one
drop of cold water on the tip of his finger. One would have thought that this had
been a small request, a small courtesy–ONE DROP OF WATER–what is that? Take a pail
full of it if that will do thee any good. But mark, he is not permitted to have so
much as one drop, not so much as a man may hold upon the tip of his finger; this
signifies that they that fall short of Christ shall be tormented even as long as
eternity lasteth, and shall not have so much as the least ease, no not so long as
while a man may turn himself round, not so much leave as to swallow his spittle,
not a drop of cold water.
O that these things did take place in your hearts, how would it make you to seek
after rest for your souls before it be too late, before the sun of the gospel be
set upon you! Consider, I say, the misery of the ungodly that they shall be in, and
avoid their vices, by closing in with the tenders of mercy; lest you partake of the
same portion with them, and cry out in the bitterness of your souls, One drop of
cold water to cool my tongue.
'For I am tormented in this flame.'
Indeed, the reason why the poor world does not so earnestly desire for mercy, is
partly because they do not so seriously consider the torment that they must certainly
fall into if they die out of Christ. For let me tell you, did but poor souls indeed
consider that wrath, that doth by right fall to their shares because of their sins
against God, they would make more haste to God through Christ for mercy than they
do; then we should have them say, It is good closing with Christ to-day, before we
fall into such distress.
But why is it said, Let him 'dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue?'
Because that, as the several members in the body have their share in sin, and committing
of that, so the several members of the body shall at that time be punished for the
same. Therefore, when Christ is admonishing his disciples, that they should not turn
aside from him, and that they should rather fear and dread the power of their God
than any other power, he saith, 'Fear him,' therefore, that can cast both body and
soul into hell (Luke 12:4). And again, 'Fear him which is able to destroy both soul
and body in hell' (Matt 10:28). Here is not one member only, but all the body, the
whole body of which the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongue are members. And I am
persuaded, that though this may be judged carnal by some now, yet it will appear
to be a truth then, to the greater misery of those who shall be forced to undergo
that which God, in his just judgment, shall inflict upon them. O then they will cry,
One dram of ease for my cursing, swearing, lying, jeering tongue. Some ease for my
bragging, braving, flattering, threatening, dissembling tongue. Now men can let their
tongues run at random, as we used to say; now they will be apt to say, Our tongues
are our own, who shall control them? (Psa 12:4). But then they will be in another
mind. Then, O that I might have a little ease for my deceitful tongue? Methinks sometimes
to consider how some men do let their tongues run at random, it makes me marvel.
Surely they do not think they shall be made to give an account for their offending
with their tongue. Did they but think they shall be made to give an account to him
who is ready to judge the quick and the dead, surely they would be more wary of,
and have more regard unto their tongue.
'The tongue,' saith James, 'is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison'; 'it setteth
on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell' (James 2). The tongue,
how much mischief will it stir up in a very little time! How many blows and wounds
doth it cause! How many times doth it, as James saith, curse man! How oft is the
tongue made the conveyer of that hellish poison that is in the heart, both to the
dishonour of God, the hurt of its neighbours, and the utter ruin of its own soul!
And do you think the Lord will sit still, as I may say, and let thy tongue run as
it lists, and yet never bring you to an account for the same? No, stay. The Lord
will not always keep silence, but will reprove thee, and set thy sins in order before
thine eyes, O sinner. Yea, and thy tongue, together with the rest of thy members,
shall be tormented for sinning. And I say, I am very confident, that though this
be made light of now, yet the time is coming when many poor souls will rue the day
that ever they did speak with a tongue. O, will one say, that I should so disregard
my tongue! O that I, when I said so and so, had before bitten off my tongue! That
I had been born without a tongue! my tongue, my tongue, a little water to cool my
tongue, for I am tormented in this flame; even in that flame that my tongue, together
with the rest of my members, by sinning, have brought me to. Poor souls now will
let their tongues say anything for a little profit, for two- pence or three-pence
gain. But, O what a grief will this be at that day when they, together with their
tongue, must smart for that which they by their tongues have done while they were
in this world. Then, you that love your souls, look to your tongues, lest you bind
yourselves down so fast to hell with the sins of your tongues, that you will never
be able to get loose again to all eternity. 'For by thy words thou shalt be condemned,'
if thou have not a care of thy tongue. For 'I say unto you, That every idle word
that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt
Verse 25.– 'But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou
These words are the answer to the request of the damned. The verse before, as I told
you, is a discovery of the desires they have after they depart this world. Here is
the answer, 'Son, remember,' &c.
The answer signifies this much, that, instead of having any relief or ease they are
hereby the more tormented, and that by fresh recollections, or by bringing afresh
their former ill- spent life, while in the world, into their remembrance. Son, remember
thou hadst good things in thy lifetime; as much as if he had said, Thou art now sensible
what it is to lose thy soul; thou art now sensible what it is to put off repentance;
thou art now sensible that thou hast befooled thyself, in that thou didst spend that
time in seeking after outward, momentary, earthly things, which thou shouldest have
spent in seeking to make Jesus Christ sure to thy soul; and now, through thy anguish
of spirit, in the pains of hell thou wouldst enjoy that which in former time thou
didst make light of; but alas! thou art here beguiled and altogether disappointed,
thy crying will now avail thee nothing at all; this is not the acceptable time (2
Cor 6:2). This is not a time to answer the desires of damned reprobates; if thou
hadst cried out in good earnest whilst grace was offered, much might have been; but
then thou wast careless, and didst turn the forbearance and goodness of God into
wantonness. Wast thou not told, that those who would not hear the Lord when he did
call, should not be heard, if they turned away from him, when they did call. But
contrariwise he would laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear did come
Now, therefore, instead of expecting the least drop of mercy and favour, call into
thy mind how thou didst spend those days which God did permit thee to live; I say,
remember that in thy lifetime thou didst behave thyself rebelliously against the
Lord, in that thou wert careless of his word and ordinances, yea, and of the welfare
of thine own soul also. Therefore, now I say, instead of expecting or hoping for
any relief, thou must be forced to call to remembrance thy filthy ways, and feed
upon them, to thine everlasting astonishment and confusion.
From these words, therefore, which say, 'Remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst
THY GOOD THINGS,' there are these things to be taken notice of,
First. They that, by putting off repentance and living in their sins, lose their
souls, shall, instead of having the least measure of comfort when they come into
hell, have their ill-spent life always very fresh in their remembrance. While they
live here they can sin and forget it, but when they depart they shall have it before
them; they shall have a remembrance, or their memory notably enlightened, and a clearer,
and a continual sight of all their wicked practices that they wrought and did while
they were in the world. 'Son, remember,' saith he; then you will be made to remember:
1. How you were born in sin, and brought up in the same. 2. Remember how thou hadst
many a time the gospel preached to thee for taking away of the same, by him whom
the gospel doth hold forth. 3. Remember that out of love to thy sins and lusts, thou
didst turn thy back on the tenders of the same gospel of good tidings and peace.
4. Remember that the reason why thou didst lose thy soul, was because thou didst
not close in with free grace, and the tenders of a loving and free-hearted Jesus
Christ. 5. Remember how near thou wast to turning at such and such a time, only thou
wast willing to give way to thy lusts when they wrought; to drunkards when they called;
to pleasures when they proffered themselves; to the cares and incumbrances of the
world, which, like so many thorns, did choke that or those convictions that were
set on thy heart. 6. Remember how willing thou wast to satisfy thyself with a hypocrite's
hope, and with a notion of the things of God, without the real power and life of
the same. 7. Remember how thou, when thou wast admonished to turn, didst put off
turning and repenting till another time. 8. Remember how thou didst dissemble at
such a time, lie at such a time, cheat thy neighbour at such a time, mock, flout,
scoff, taunt, hate, persecute, the people of God at such a time, in such a place,
among such company. 9. Remember that while others were met together in the fear of
the Lord to seek him, thou wast met with a company of vain companions to sin against
him; whilst the saints were a praying, thou wert a cursing; while they were speaking
good of the name of God, thou wast speaking evil of the saints of God. O then thou
shalt have a scalding hot remembrance of all thy sinful thoughts, words, and actions,
from the very first to the last of them that ever thou didst commit in all thy life-time.
Then thou wilt find that scripture to be a truth, 'The Lord shall give thee there
a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang
in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance
of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! for the fear
of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou
shalt see' (Deut 28:65-67). Nay, thou wilt find worse things to thy woe than this
scripture doth manifest. For, indeed, there is no tongue able to express the horror,
terror, torment, and eternal misery that those poor souls shall undergo, without
the least mitigation of ease, and a very great part of it shall come from that quick,
full, and continual remembrance of their sins that they shall have. And, therefore,
there is much weight in these words, 'Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
thy good things.'
From these words you see this is to be observed, That the ungodly shall remember,
or have in remembrance, the misspending their lives; 'Remember that in thy lifetime
thou receivedst thy good things.' You may take these words, good things, either simply
for the things of this world, which in themselves are called, and may be called good
things; or else with these words, namely, the things of this life, all the pleasures,
delights, profits, and vanities, which the ignorant people of the world do count
their good things, and do very much cheer themselves therewith. Soul, soul, eat,
drink, and be merry; for thou hast much goods laid up for many years (Luke 12:19,20).
Now I say, God, according to his glorious power and wisdom, will make poor creatures
have always in their minds a fresh and clear remembrance of their ill-spent life;
he will say unto them, Remember, remember, that in thy lifetime it was thus and thus
with thee, and in thy lifetime thy carriage was so and so.
If sinners might have their choice, they would not have their sins and transgressions
so much in the remembrance, as it is evident by their carriages here in this world;
for they will not endure to entertain a serious thought of their filthy life, they
'put far away the evil day' (Amos 6:3; Eze 12:27); but will labour by all means to
put the thoughts of it out of their mind; but there they shall be made to remember
to purpose, and to think continually of their ungodly deeds. And therefore it is
said, that when our Lord Jesus Christ comes to judgment, it will be to convince the
ungodly world of their wicked and ungodly deeds; mark, 'to convince' them (Jude 14,15).
They will not willingly take notice of them now. But then they shall hereafter, in
spite of their teeth. And also, between this and then, these that die out of Christ
shall be made to see, acknowledge, and confess, do what they can, when they lift
up their eyes in hell, and remember their transgressions. God will be a swift witness
against them (Mal 3:5), and will say, Remember that thou didst in thy lifetime, how
thou didst live in thy lifetime. Ha, friend! if thou dost not in these days of light
'remember the days of darkness' (Eccl 11:8), the days of death, hell, and judgment,
thou shalt be made in the days of darkness, death, hell, and at the judgment too,
to remember the days of the gospel, and how thou didst disregard them too, to thy
own destruction, and everlasting misery. This is intimated in that 25th of St. Matthew.
'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.'
The great God, instead of giving the ungodly any ease, will even aggravate their
torments; first, by slighting their perplexities, and by telling of them what they
must be thinking of. Remember, saith he, O ye lost souls, that you had your joy in
your lifetime, your peace in your lifetime, your comforts, delights, ease, wealth,
health, your heaven, your happiness, and your portion in your lifetime.
O miserable state! Thou wilt then be in a sad condition indeed, when thou shalt see
that thou hast had thy good things, thy best things, thy pleasant things; for that
is clearly signified by these words, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst
thy good things,' or all the good things thou art like to have.
Second. From whence take notice of another truth, though it be a dreadful one, which
is this; there are many poor creatures, who have all their good, sweet, and comfortable
things in this life, or while they are alive in this world; 'Remember,' saith he,
'that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things' (Psa 17:14).
The wicked's good things will shortly have an end; they will last no longer with
them than this life, or their lifetime. That scripture was not written in vain; it
is like the crackling of thorns under a pot, make a little blaze for a sudden, a
little heat for a while; but come and consider them by and by, and instead of a comfortable
heat, you will find nothing but a few dead ashes; and instead of a flaming fire,
nothing but a smell of smoke.
There is a time coming, that the ungodly would be glad of a better portion, when
they shall see the vanity of this, that is, when they shall see what a poor thing
it is for a man to have his portion in this world. It is true, while they are here
on this side hell, they think there is nothing to be compared with riches, honours,
and pleasures in this world; which makes them cry out, 'Who will shew us any good?'
(Psa 4:6). That is comparable to the pleasures, profits, and glory of this world?
But then they will see there is another thing that is better, and of more value than
ten thousand worlds. And seriously, friends, will it not grieve you, trouble, perplex,
and torment you, when you shall see that you lost heaven for a little pleasure and
profit in your lifetime? Certainly, it will grieve you and perplex you exceedingly,
to see what a blessed heaven you left for a dunghill-world. O! that you did but believe
this! that you did but consider this, and say within yourselves, What! shall I be
contented with my portion in this world! what! shall I lose heaven for this world!
I say, consider it while you have day-light, and gospel-light, while the Son of God
doth hold out terms of reconciliation to you, lest you be made to hear such a voice
as this is, 'Son, remember that in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things';
thy comforts, thy joys, thy ease, thy peace, and all the heaven thou art like to
have. O poor heaven! O short pleasures!
What a pitiful thing it is to be left in such a case? Soul, consider, is it not miserable
to lose heaven for twenty, thirty, or forty years' sinning against God? When thy
life is done, thy heaven is also done? when death comes to separate thy soul and
body, in that day also thou must have thy heaven and happiness separated from thee,
and thou from that. Consider these things betimes, lest thou have thy portion in
thy lifetime. 'For if in this life only we have hope,' our portion, 'we are of all
men most miserable' (1 Cor 15:19). Again consider, that when other men, the saints,
are to receive their good things, then thou hast had thine. When others are to enter
into joy, then thou art to leave and depart from thy joy. When others are to go to
God, thou must go to the devil. O miserable! Thou hadst better thou hadst never been
born, than to be an heir of such a portion; therefore, I say, have a care it be not
'Remember that thou receivedst thy good things, and LAZARUS EVIL THINGS.'
These words do not only hold forth the misery of the wicked in this life, but also
great consolation to the saints; where he saith, 'And Lazarus evil things'; that
is, Lazarus had his evil things in his lifetime, or when he was in the world. From
1. That the life of the saints, so long as they are in this world, is attended with
many evils or afflictions; which may be discovered to be of divers natures; as saith
the Scripture, 'Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth
him out of them all' (Psa 34:19).
2. Take notice, that the afflictions or evils that accompany the saints, may continue
with them their lifetime, so long as they live in this vale of tears; yea, and they
may be divers, that is, of several sorts; some outward, some inward, and that as
long as they shall continue here below, as hath been the experience of all saints
in all ages; and this might be proved at large, but I only hint in these things,
although I might enlarge much upon them.
3. The evils that do accompany the saints will continue with them no longer than
their lifetime; and here indeed lies the comfort of believers, the Lazaruses, the
saints, they must have all their bitter cup wrung out to them in their lifetime.
Here must be all their trouble, here must be all their grief; Behold, saith Christ,
'the world shall rejoice, but ye shall lament; but your mourning' shall, mark, it
'shall be turned into joy' (John 16:20). You shall lament, you shall be sorrowful,
you shall weep in your lifetime; but your sorrow shall be turned into joy, and your
joy no man, let him be what he will, no man shall take away from you. Now if you
think, when I say the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime, that I
mean, they have nothing else but trouble in this their lifetime, this is your mistake.
For let me tell you, that though the saints have all their evil things in their lifetime,
yet even in their lifetime they have also joy unspeakable, and full of glory, while
they look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
The joy that the saints have sometimes in their heart, by a believing consideration
of the good things to come, when this life is ended, doth fill them fuller of joy,
than all the crosses, troubles, temptations, and evils, that accompany them in this
life can fill them with grief (2 Cor 4).
But some saints may say, My troubles are such as are ready to overcome me. Answ.
Yet be of good comfort, they shall last no longer than thy lifetime. But my trouble
is, I am perplexed with a heart full of corruption and sin, so that I am much hindered
in walking with God. Answ. It is like so, but thou shalt have these troubles no longer
than thy lifetime. But I have a cross husband, and that is a great grief to me. Well,
but thou shalt be troubled with him no longer than thy lifetime, and therefore be
not dismayed, be not discomforted, thou shalt have no trouble longer than this lifetime.
Art thou troubled with cross children, cross relations, cross neighbours? They shall
trouble thee no longer than this lifetime.
Art thou troubled with a cunning devil, with unbelief; yea, let it be what it will,
thou shalt take thy farewell of them all, if thou be a believer, after thy lifetime
is ended. O! excellent! 'Then God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes; and there
shall be no more death nor sorrow, neither crying, nor any more pain; for the former
things are passed away' (Rev 21:4). But now on the contrary, if thou be not a right
and sound believer; then, though thou shouldest live a thousand years in this world,
and meet with sore afflictions every day, yet these afflictions, be they never so
great and grievous, they are nothing to that torment that will come upon thee, both
in soul and in body, after this life is ended.
I say, be what thou wilt, if thou be found in unbelief, or under the first covenant,
thou are sure to smart for it at the time when thou dost depart this world. But the
thing to be lamented is, for all this is so sad a condition to be fallen into, yet
poor souls are, for the most part, senseless of it, yea, so senseless, at some times,
as though there was no such misery to come hereafter. Because the Lord doth not immediately
strike with his sword, but doth bear long with his creature, waiting that he might
be gracious. Therefore, I say, the hearts of some of the sons of men are wholly set
upon it to do mischief (Eccl 8:11). And that forbearance and goodness of God, that
one would think should lead them to repentance; the devil hardening of them, by their
continuing in sin, and by blinding their eyes, as to the end of God's forbearance
towards then, they are led away with a very hardened and senseless heart, even until
they drop into eternal destruction.
But poor hearts, they must have a time in which they must be made sensible of their
former behaviors, when the just judgments of the Lord shall flame about their ears,
insomuch, that they shall be made to cry out again with anguish, I am sorely 'tormented
in this flame.'
'But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.' As if he should say, Now hath
God recompensed both Lazarus and you, according to what you sought after while you
were in this world. As for your part, you did neglect the precious mercy and goodness
of God, you did turn your back on the Son of God, that came into the world to save
sinners; you made a mock of preaching the gospel; you was admonished over and over,
to close in with the loving kindness of the Lord, in his Son Jesus Christ. The Lord
let you live twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years; all which time you, instead
of spending it 'to make your calling and election sure' (2 Peter 1:10), did spend
it in making of eternal damnation sure to thy soul (Job 21:29,30). And also Lazarus,
he in his lifetime did make it his business to accept of my grace and salvation in
the Lord Jesus Christ. When thou wast in the ale-house, he frequented the word preached;
when thou wert jeering at goodness, he was sighing to the sins of the times (Eccl
9:4-6). While thou wert swearing, he was praying; in a word, while thou wert making
sure of eternal ruin, he, by faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, was making
sure of eternal salvation. Therefore, 'Now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.'
Here, then, you may see, that as the righteous shall not be always void of comfort
and blessedness; so neither shall the ungodly go always without their punishment.
As sure as God is in heaven, it will be thus. They must have their several portions.
And, therefore, you that are the saints of the Lord, follow on, be not dismayed,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). Your
portion is eternal glory. And you that are so loth now to close in with Jesus Christ,
and to leave your sins to follow him, your 'day is coming' (Psa 37:13), in which
you shall know, that your sweet morsels of sin, that you do so easily take down (Job
20:12-14), and it scarce troubles you, will have a time so to work within you to
your eternal ruin, that you will be in a worse condition than if you had ten thousand
devils tormenting of you. Nay, you had better have been plucked limb from limb a
thousand times, if it could be, than to be partakers of this torment that will, assuredly
without mercy, lie upon you.
Verse 26.– 'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed;
so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to
us, that would come from thence.'
These words are still part of that answer, that the souls in hell shall have for
all their sobbings, sighings, grievous cries, tears, and desires, that they have,
to be released out of those intolerable pains they feel, and are perplexed with.
And O! methinks the words at the first view, if rightly considered, are enough to
make any hard-hearted sinner in the world to fall down dead. The verse I last spake
to was and is a very terrible one, and aggravates the torments of poor sinners wonderfully.
Where he saith, 'Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and
Lazarus evil things,' &c. I say, these words are very terrible to those poor
souls that die out of Christ. But these latter words do much more hold out their
sorrow. They were spoken as to the present condition then upon the sinner. These
do not only back the former, but do yet further aggravate their misery, holding forth
that which will be more intolerable. The former verse is enough to smite any sinner
into a swoon, but this is to make him fall down dead. Where he saith, 'And beside
all this.' There is still something to aggravate thy misery yet far more abundantly.
I shall briefly speak to the words as they have relation to the terror spoken of
in the verses before. As if he had said, Thou thinkest thy present state unsupportable,
it makes thee sob and sigh, it makes thee to rue the time that ever thou wert born.
Now thou findest the want of mercy; now thou wouldst leap at the least dram of it:
now thou feelest what it is to slight the tenders of the grace of God; now it makes
thee to sob, sigh, and roar exceedingly for the anguish that thou art in. 'But beside
all this,' I have other things to tell thee of, that will break thine heart indeed.
Thou art now deprived of a being in the world; thou art deprived of hearing the gospel;
the devil hath been too hard for thee, and hath made thee miss of heaven; thou art
now in hell among an innumerable company of devils, and all thy sins beset thee round;
thou art all over wrapped in flames, and canst not have one drop of water to give
thee any ease; thou criest in vain, for nothing will be granted. Thou seest the saints
in heaven, which is no small trouble to thy damned soul; thou seest that neither
God nor Christ takes any care to ease thee, or speak any comfort unto thee. 'But
beside all this,' there thou art, and there thou art like to lie, never think of
any ease, never look for any comfort; repentance now will do thee no good, the time
is past, and can never be called again, look what thou hast now, thou must have for
It is true, I spoke enough before to break thine heart asunder; 'But beside all this,'
there lie and swim in flames for ever. These words, 'Beside all this,' are terrible
words indeed. I will give you the scope of them in a similitude. Set the case you
should take a man, and tie him to a stake, and with red-hot pinchers, pinch off his
flesh by little pieces for two or three years together, and at last, when the poor
man cries out for ease and help, the tormentors answer, Nay, 'but beside all this,'
you must be handled worse. We will serve you thus these twenty years together, and
after that we will fill your mangled body full of scalding lead, or run you through
with a red-hot spit; would not this be lamentable? Yet this is but a flea-biting
to the sorrow of those that go to hell; for if a man were served so there would,
ere it were long, be an end of him. But he that goes to hell shall suffer ten thousand
times worse torments than these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them. There
they shall be ever whining, pining, weeping, mourning, ever tormented without ease;
and yet never dissolved into nothing. If the biggest devil in hell might pull thee
all to pieces, and rend thee small as dust, and dissolve thee into nothing, thou
wouldst count this a mercy. But here thou mayst lie and fry, scorch, and broil, and
burn for ever. For ever, that is a long while, and yet it must be so long. 'Depart
from me, ye cursed,' saith Christ, 'into everlasting fire,' into the fire that burns
for ever, 'prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). O! thou that wast
loth to foul thy foot if it were but dirty, or did but rain; thou that was loth to
come out of the chimney-corner, if the wind did but blow a little cold; and was loth
to go half-a- mile, yea, half-a-furlong to hear the word of God, if it were but a
little dark; thou that wast loth to leave a few vain companions, to edify thy soul;
thou shalt have fire enough, thou shalt have night enough, and evil company enough,
thy bellyfull, if thou miss of Jesus Christ; and 'beside all this,' thou shalt have
them for ever, and for ever.
O thou that dost spend whole nights in carding and dicing, in rioting and wantonness;
thou that countest it a brave thing to swear as fast as the bravest, to spend with
the greatest spendthrift in the country; thou that lovest to sin in a corner when
nobody sees thee! O thou that for bye-ends dost carry on the hypocrite's profession,
because thou wouldst be counted somebody among the children of God, but art an
enemy to the things of Christ in thine heart. Thou that dost satisfy thyself, either
with sins, or a bare profession of godliness, thy soul will fall into extreme torment
and anguish, so soon as ever thou dost depart this world, and there thou shalt be
weeping and gnashing thy teeth (Matt 8:12). 'And beside all this,' thou art like
never to have any ease or remedy, never look for any deliverance, thou shalt die
in thy sins, and be tormented as many years as there are stars in the firmament,
or sands on the seashore; 'and beside all this,' thou must abide it for ever.
'And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they
which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us that would
come from thence.' 'There is a great gulf fixed.' You will say, what is that? Answ.
It is a nice question; therefore,
1. See thou rather to enter in at the strait gate, than curiously to inquire what
this gulf is. But,
2. If thou wouldst needs know if thou do fall short of heaven, thou wilt find it
this, namely, the everlasting decree of God; that is, there is decree gone forth
from God, that those who fall short of heaven in this world, God is resolved they
shall never enjoy it in the world to come. And thou wilt find this gulf so deep,
that thou shalt never be able to wade through it as long as eternity lasts. As Christ
saith, 'Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him'
(Matt 5:25); 'lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,
and thou be cast into prison. I tell thee thou shalt by no means come out thence,'
there is the gulf, the decree, 'thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid
the' utmost farthing, or 'very last mite' (Luke 12:58,59). These words therefore,
'there is a great gulf fixed,' I do understand to be the everlasting decree of God.
God hath decreed that those who go to heaven shall never go from thence again into
a worse place; and also those that go to hell, and would come out, they shall not
come out thence again. And friend, this is such a gulf, so fixed by him that cannot
lie, that thou wilt find it so, which way soever thou goest, whether it be to heaven
Here therefore thou seest how secure God will make those who die in the faith; God
will keep them in heaven; but those that die in their sins, God will throw them to
hell and keep them there; so that they that would go from heaven to hell, cannot;
neither can they come from hell that would go to heaven. Mark, he doth not say, they
would not–for, O how fain would these who have lost their souls for a lust, for two-pence,
for a jug of ale, for a strumpet, for this world, come out of that hot scalding fiery
furnace of God's eternal vengeance, if they might–but here is their misery, they
that would come from you to us, that is, from hell to heaven, cannot, they must not,
they shall not; they cannot, God hath decreed it, and is resolved the contrary; here
therefore lies the misery, not so much that they are in hell, but there they must
lie for ever and ever. Therefore, if thy heart would at any time tempt thee to sin
against God, cry out, No, for then I must go to hell, and lie there for ever. If
the drunkards, swearers, liars, and hypocrites did but take this doctrine soundly
down, it would make them tremble when they think of sinning. But poor souls, now
they will 'make a mock of sin' (Prov 14:9), and play with it as a child doth play
with a rattle; but the time is coming, that these rattles that now they play with
will make such a noise in their ears and consciences, that they shall find, that
if all the devils in hell were yelling at their heels, the noise would not be comparable
to it. Friend, thy sins, as so many bloodhounds, will first hunt thee out (Num 32:23),
and then take thee and bind thee, and hold thee down for ever (Prov 5:22). They will
gripe thee and gnaw thee as if thou hadst a nest of poisonous serpents in thy bowels
(Job 20:14). And this will not be for a time, but, as I have said, for ever, for
ever, for ever.
Verse 27.– 'Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him
to my father's house.'
The verses before, I told you, were spoken partly to hold forth the desire that the
damned have to be freed of their endless misery. Now this verse still holds forth
the cries of those poor souls very vehement, they would very fain have something
granted to them, but it will not be; as will more clearly appear afterward.
'Then he said, I PRAY THEE THEREFORE, FATHER,' &c. As if he should say, seeing
I have brought myself into such a miserable condition, that God will not regard me,
that my exceeding loud and bitter cries will not be heard for myself; seeing I must
not be admitted to have so much as one drop of cold water, nor the least help from
the poorest saints. And seeing, 'beside all this,' here my soul must lie to all eternity,
broiling and frying; seeing I must, whether I will or no, undergo the hand of eternal
vengeance, and the rebukes of devouring fire; seeing my state is such, that I would
not wish a dog in my condition, 'send him to my father's house.' It is worthy to
be taken notice of, again, who it is he desired to be sent, namely, Lazarus. O friend,
see here how the stout hearts and stomachs of poor creatures will be humbled, as
I said before, they will be so brought down, that those things that they disdained
and made light of in this world, they would be glad of in the life to come. He who
by this man was so slighted, as that he thought it a dishonour that he should eat
with the dogs of his flock. What, shall I regard Lazarus, scrubbed, beggarly Lazarus!
what, shall I so far dishonour my fair, sumptuous, and gay house, with such a scabbed
creep-hedge as he! No, I scorn he should be entertained under my roof. Thus in his
lifetime, while he was in his bravery; but now he is come into another world, now
he is parted from his pleasures, now he sees his fine house, his dainty dishes, his
rich neighbours and companions, and he, are parted asunder; now he finds instead
of pleasures, torments; instead of joys, heaviness; instead of heaven, hell; instead
of the pleasures of sin, the horror and guilt of sin; O now send Lazarus!
Lazarus, it may be, might have done him some good, if he might have been entertained
in time past, and might have persuaded him, at least not to have gone on so grievously
wicked, but he slights him, he will not regard him, he is resolved to disown him,
though he lose his own soul for so doing. Ay, but now send Lazarus, if not to me,
yet to my father's house, and let him tell them, from me, that if they run on in
sin, as I have done, they must and shall receive the same wages that I have received.
Take notice of this, you that are despisers of the least of the Lazaruses of our
Lord Jesus Christ; it may be now you are loth to receive these little ones of his,
because they are not gentlemen, because they cannot, with Pontius Pilate, speak Hebrew,
Greek, and Latin. Nay, they must not, shall not speak to them, to admonish them,
and all because of this.
Though now the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached to them freely, and
for nothing; nay, they are now desired to hear and receive it: though now they will
not own, regard, or embrace these Christian proffers of the glorious truth of Jesus,
because they come out of some of the basest earthen vessels; yet the time is coming,
when they will both sigh and cry, Send him to my father's house (1 Cor 1:26). I say,
remember this, ye that despise the day of small things; the time is coming, when
you would be glad, if you might enjoy from God, from Christ, or his saints, one small
drop of cold water, though now you are unwilling to receive the glorious distilling
drops of the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Again, see here the lamentable state they are in, that go to hell from their fathers,
mothers, sisters, brothers, &c. While they are in this world, men delight to
set their children ill examples; and also children love to follow the wicked steps
of their ungodly parents; but when they depart this life, and drop down into hell,
and find themselves in irrecoverable misery, then they cry, send some body to my
father's house, to my brother's house. Tell them my state is miserable, tell them
I am undone for ever; and tell them also, that if they will be walking in these ungodly
steps wherein I left them, they will assuredly fall into this place of torments.
'I pray thee - SEND HIM TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE.' Ah, friends and neighbours, it is
like you little think of this, that some of your friends and relations are crying
out in hell, Lord, send some body to my father's house, to preach the gospel to them,
lest they also come into these torments.
Here, men while they live, can willingly walk together in the way of sin, and when
they are parted by death, they that are living, seldom or never consider of the sad
condition that they that are dead are descended into. But ye ungodly fathers, how
are your ungodly children roaring now in hell? And you ungodly children, how are
your ungodly parents that lived and died ungodly, now in the pains of hell also?
And one drunkard is singing on the ale bench, and another roaring under the wrath
of God, saying, O that I was with him, how would I rebuke him, and persuade him by
all means to leave off these evil courses. O! that they did but consider what I now
suffer for pride, covetousness, drunkenness, lying, swearing, stealing, whoring,
and the like. O! did they but feel the thousandth part thereof, it would make them
look about them, and not buy sin at so dear a rate as I have done; even with the
loss of my precious soul.
'Send him to my father's house.' Not to my father, but to my 'father's house.' It
may be there is ungodly children, there is ungodly servants, wallowing in their ungodliness;
send him therefore to my father's house. It is like they are still the same that
I left them; I left them wicked, and they are wicked still; I left them slighters
of the gospel, saints, and ways of God, and they do it still; 'send him to my father's
house,' it is like there is but a little between them and the place where I am; send
him to-day, before to- morrow, 'lest they also come into the same place of torment.
I pray thee that thou wouldst send him.' I beg it on my bended knee, with crying
and with tears, in the agony of my soul. It may be they will not consider, if thou
do not send him. I left them sottish enough, hardened as well as I; they have the
same devil to tempt them, the same lusts and world to overcome them; 'I pray thee
therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house'; make no delay, lest
they lose their souls, lest they come hither: if they do, they are like never to
return again. O! little do they think how easily they may lose their souls; they
are apt to think their condition to be as good as the best, as I once through ignorance
did; but send him, send him without delay, 'lest they also come into this place of
torment.' O that thou wouldst give him commission, do thou send him thyself; the
time was when I, together with them, slighted those that were sent of God; though
we could not deny but that he spake the word of God, and was sent of him, as our
consciences told us; yet we preferred the calls of men before the calls of God. For
though they had the one, yet because they had not the other in that antichristian
way which we thought meet, we could not, would not, either hear him ourselves, nor
yet give consent that others should. But now a call from God is worth all. Do THOU
'therefore send him to my father's house.'
The time was, when we did not like it, except it might be preached in the synagogue;
we thought it a low thing to preach and pray together in houses. We were too high-
spirited, too superstitious; the gospel would not down with us, unless we had it
in such a place, by such a man; no, nor then neither effectually. But now, O that
I was to live in the world again; and might have that privilege to have some acquaintance
with blessed Lazarus, some familiarity with that holy man; what attendance would
I give unto his wholesome words! How would I affect his doctrine, and close in with
it! How would I square my life thereby! Now therefore, as it is better to hear the
gospel under a hedge than to sit roaring in a tavern, it is better to welcome God's
begging Lazaruses than the wicked companions of this world. It is better to receive
a saint in the name of a saint, a disciple in the name of a disciple, than to do
as I have done (Luke 10:16). O! it is better to receive a child of God, that can
by experience deliver the things of God, his free love, his tender grace, his rich
forbearance, and also the misery of man, if without it, than to be 'daubed with untempered
mortar' (Eze 13:10). O! I may curse the day that ever I gave way to the flatteries
and fawning of a company of carnal clergymen, but this my repentance is too late;
I should have looked about me sooner, if I would have been saved from this woeful
place. Therefore send him, not only to the town I lived in, and unto some of my acquaintance,
but to my father's house.
In my lifetime I did not care to hear that word that cut me most, and showed me mine
estate aright. I was vexed to hear my sins mentioned, and laid to my charge; I loved
him best that deceived me most–that said, Peace, peace, when there was no such thing
(Jer 5:30,31). But now, O that I had been soundly told of it! O that it had pierced
both mine ears and heart, and had stuck so fast that nothing could have cured me,
saving the blood of Christ! It is better to be dealt plainly with, than that we should
be deceived; they had better see their lost condition in the world, than stay while
they be damned, as I have done. Therefore send Lazarus, send him to my father's house.
Let him go and say I saw your son, your brother, in hell, weeping and wailing, and
gnashing his teeth. Let him bear them down in it, and tell them plainly it is so,
and that they shall see their everlasting misery, if they have not a special care.
'Send him to my father's house.'
Verse 28.– 'For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also
come into this place of torment.'
These words are, if I may so say, a reason given by those in hell why they are so
restless and do cry so loud; it is that their companions might be delivered from
those intolerable torments which they must and shall undergo if they fall short of
everlasting life by Jesus Christ. 'Send him to my father's house; for I have five
brethren.' Though, while they lived among them in the world, they were not so sensible
of their ruin, yet now they are passed out of the world, and do partake of that which
before they were warned of; they can, I say, then cry out, Now I find that to be
true indeed, which was once and again told and declared to me that it would certainly
come to pass.
'FOR I HAVE FIVE BRETHREN.' Here you may see that there may be, and are, whole households
in a damnable state and condition, as our Lord Jesus doth by this signify. 'Send
him to my father's house,' for they are all in one state, I left all my brethren
in a pitiful case. People, while they live here, cannot endure to hear that they
should be all in a miserable condition; but when they are under the wrath of God
they see it, they know it, and are very sure of it; for they themselves, when they
were in the world, lived as they do, but they fell short of heaven, and therefore,
if they go on, so shall they. O, therefore, send him quickly to my father's house,
for all the house is in an undone condition, and must be damned if they continue
The thing observable is this, namely, that those that are in hell do not desire that
their companions should come thither; nay rather, saith he, send him to my father's
house, and let him testify to them that are therein, lest they also come, &c.
Quest. But some may say, What should be the reason that the damned should desire
not to have their companions come into the same condition that they are fallen into,
but rather that they might be kept from it, and escape that dreadful state?
Answ. I do believe there is scarce so much love in any of the damned in hell as really
to desire the salvation of any. But in that there is any desire in them that are
damned, that their friends and relations should not come into that place of torment,
it appears to me to be rather for their own ease than for their neighbour's good;
for, let me tell you, this I do believe, that it will aggravate the grief and horror
of them to see their ungodly neighbours in the like destruction with them. For where
the ungodly do live and die, and descend into the pit together, the one is rather
a vexation to the other than any thing else. And it must needs be so, because there
are no ungodly people that do live ungodly together but they do learn ill examples
one of another, as thus: If there live one in the town that is very expert and cunning
for the world, why now the rest that are of the same mind with him, they will labour
to imitate and follow his steps: this is commonly seen.
Again, if there be one given to drunkenness, others of the town, through his means,
run the more into that sin with him, and do accustom themselves the more unto it
because of his enticing them, and also by setting such an ill example before them.
And so if there be any addicted to pride, and must needs be in all the newest fashions,
how do their example provoke others to love and follow the same vanity; spending
that upon their lusts which should relieve their own and others' wants. Also if there
be any given to jesting, scoffing, lying, whoring, backbiting, junketing, wantonness,
or any other sin, they that are most expert in these things do ofttimes entangle
others, that peradventure would not have been so vile as now they are, had they not
had such an example, and hence they are called corrupters (Isa 1:4).
Now these will, by their doings, exceedingly aggravate the condemnation of one another.
He that did set his neighbor an ill example, and thereby caused him to walk in sin,
he will be found one cause of his friend's destruction, insomuch that he will have
to answer for his own sins and for a great part of his neighbour's too, which will
add to his destruction; as that scripture in Ezekiel showeth, where, speaking of
the watchman that should give the people warning, if he did not, though the man did
die in his sins, yet his blood shall be required at the watchman's hand (Eze 33).
So here let me tell thee that if thou shouldst be such a one, as by thy conversation
and practices shall be a trap and a stumbling-block to cause thy neighbour to fall
into eternal ruin–though he be damned for his own sins–yet God may, nay he will charge
thee as being guilty of his blood, in that thou didst not content thyself to keep
from heaven thyself, but didst also, by thy filthy conversation, keep away others,
and cause them to fall with thee. O, therefore, will not this aggravate thy torment?
Yea, if thou shouldst die and go to hell before thy neighbour or companions, besides
the guilt of thine own sins, thou wouldst be so loaden with the fear of the damnation
of others to be laid to thy charge, that thou wouldst cry out, O send one from the
dead to this companion and that companion with whom I had society in my lifetime,
for I see my cursed carriage will be one cause of his condemnation, if he fall short
I left him living in foul and heinous offences; but I was one of the first instruments
to bring him to them. O! I shall be guilty both of my own and his damnation too!
O that he might be kept out hence, lest my torment be aggravated by his coming hither!
For where ungodly people do dwell together, they being a snare and stumbling-block
one to another by their practices, they must needs be a torment one to another, and
an aggravation of each other's damnation. O cursed be thy face, saith one, that ever
I set mine eyes on thee. It was long of thee. I may thank thee. It was thee that
did entice me and ensnare me. It was your filthy conversation that was a stumbling-block
to me. It was your covetousness, it was your pride, your haunting the ale-house,
your gaming and whoring. It was long of you that I fell short of life; if you had
set me a good example, as you did set me an ill one, it may be I might have done
better than now I do; but I learned of you, I followed your steps, I took counsel
of you. O that I had never seen thy face! O that thou hadst never been born to do
my soul this wrong, as you have done! O, saith the other, and I may as much blame
you, for do not you remember how at such a time, and at such a time, you drew me
out, and drew me away, and asked me if I would go with you, when I was going about
other business, about my calling; but you called me away, you sent for me, you are
as much in the fault as I; though I were covetous, you were proud; and if you learned
covetousness of me, I learned pride and drunkenness of you. Though I learned you
to cheat, you learned me to whore, to lie, to scoff at goodness. Though I, base wretch,
did stumble you in some things, yet you did as much stumble me in others. I can blame
you as you blame me; and if I have to answer for some of your most filthy actions,
you have to answer for some of mine. I would you had not come hither, the very looks
of you do wound my soul, by bringing my sins afresh into my mind, the time when,
the manner how, the place where, the persons with whom. It was with you, you! Grief
to my soul! Since I could not shun thy company there, O that I had been without thy
I say, therefore, for those that have sinned together to go to hell together, it
will very much perplex and torment them both; therefore I judge this is one reason
why they that are in hell do desire that their friends or companions do not come
thither into the same place of torment that they are in. And therefore where Christ
saith that these damned souls cry out, Send to our companions, that they may be warned
and commanded to look to themselves, O send to my five brethren! it is because they
would not have their own torments heightened by their company; and a sense, yea,
a continual sense of their sins, which they did cause them to commit when they were
in the world with them. For I do believe that the very looks of those that have been
beguiled of their fellows, I say their very looks will be a torment to them: for
thereby will the remembrance of their own sins be kept, if possible, the fresher
on their consciences, which they committed with them; and also they will wonderfully
have the guilt of the others sins upon them, in that they were partly the cause of
his committing them, being instruments in the hands of the devil to draw them in
too. And, therefore, lest this come to pass, 'I pray thee send him to my father's
house.' For if they might not come hither, peradventure my torment might have some
mitigation; that is, if they might be saved, then their sins will be pardoned, and
not so heavily charged on my soul. But if they do fall into the same place where
I am, the sins that I have caused them to commit will lie so heavy, not only on their
souls, but also on mine, that they sin me into eternal misery, deeper and deeper.
O therefore send him to my father's house, to my five brethren, and let him testify
to them, lest they come into this place of torment.
These words being thus understood, what a condition doth it show them to be in then,
that now much delight in being the very ringleaders of their companions into sins
of all sorts whatsoever?
While men live here, if they can be counted the cunningest in cheating, the boldest
for lying, the archest for whoring, the subtilest for coveting and getting the world;
if they can but cunningly defraud, undermine, cross, and anger their neighbours,
yea, and hinder them from the means of grace, the gospel of Christ, they glory in
it, take a pride in it, and think themselves pretty well at ease, and their minds
are somewhat quiet, being beguiled with sin.
But, friend, when thou hast lost this life, and dost begin to lift up thine eyes
in hell, and seest what thy sins have brought thee to; and not only so, but that
thou, by thy filthy sins, didst cause others, devil-like, to fall into the same condemnation
with thee; and that one of the reasons of their damnation was this, that thou didst
lead them to the commission of those wicked practices of this world, and the lusts
thereof; then, O that somebody would stop them from coming, lest they also come into
this place of torment, and be damned as I am! How ill it torment me! Balaam could
not be contented to be damned himself, but also he must, by his wickedness, cause
others to stumble and fall. The Scribes and Pharisees could not be contented to keep
out of heaven themselves, but they must labour to keep out others too. Therefore
theirs is the greater damnation.
The deceived cannot be content to be deceived himself; but he must labour to deceive
others also. The drunkard cannot be content to go to hell for his own sins, but he
must labour to cause others to fall into the same furnace with him. But look to yourselves,
for here will be damnation upon damnation, damned for thy own sins, and damned for
thy being a partaker with others in their sins; and damned for being guilty of the
damnation of others. O how will the drunkards cry for leading their neighbours into
drunkenness! How will the covetous person howl for setting his neighbour, his friend,
his brother, his children and relations, so wicked an example! by which he hath not
only wronged his own soul, but also the souls of others. The liar, by lying, learned
others to lie; the swearer learned others to swear; the whoremonger learned others
Now all these, with others of the like sort, will be guilty, not only of their own
damnation, but also of the damnation of others. I tell you, that some men have so
much been the authors of the damnation of others, that I am ready to think that the
damnation of them will trouble them as much as their own damnation. Some men, it
is to be feared, at the day of judgment, will be found to be the authors of destroying
whole nations. How many souls do you think Balaam, with his deceit, will have to
answer for? How many Mahomet? How many the Pharisees, that hired the soldiers to
say the disciples stole away Jesus? (Matt 18:11- 15); and by that means stumbled
their brethren to this day; and was one means of hindering them from believing the
things of God and Jesus Christ, and so the cause of the damnation of their brethren
to this very day.
How many poor souls hath Bonner to answer for, think you, and several filthy blind
priests? How many souls have they been the means of destroying by their ignorance
and corrupt doctrine? Preaching, that was no better for their souls than ratsbane
to the body, for filthy lucre's sake (O ye priests, this word is for you). They shall
see, that they, many of them it is to be feared, will have whole towns to answer
for; whole cities to answer for. Ah, friend, I tell thee, thou that hast taken in
hand to preach to the people, it may be thou hast taken in hand thou canst not tell
what. Will it not grieve thee to see thy whole parish come bellowing after thee to
hell, crying out, This we may thank thee for, this is long of thee, thou didst not
teach us the truth; thou didst lead us away with fables, thou wast afraid to tell
us of our sins, lest we should not put meat fast enough in thy mouth. O cursed wretch,
that ever thou shouldst beguile us thus, deceive us thus, flatter us thus! We would
have gone out to hear the word abroad, but that thou didst reprove us, and also tell
us that that which we see now is the way of God was heresy, and a deceivable doctrine;
and wast not contented, blind guide as thou wert, to fall into the ditch thyself,
but hast also led us thither with thee.
I say, look to thyself, lest thou cry out when it is too late, Send Lazarus to my
people, my friends, my children, my congregation to whom I preached, and beguiled
through my folly. Send him to the town in which I did preach last, lest I be the
cause of their damnation. Send him to my friends from whence I came, lest I be made
to answer for their souls and mine own too (Eze 33:1-6).
O send him therefore, and let him tell them, and testify unto them, lest they also
come into this place of torment. Consider this, ye that live thus in the world, while
ye are in the land of the living, lest you fall into this condition. Set the case
thou shouldest by thy carriage destroy but a soul, but one poor soul, by one of thy
carriages or actions, by thy sinful works; consider it now, I say, lest thou be forced
to cry, 'I pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house,
for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into
this place of torment.'
If so, then I shall not only say to the blind guides, Look you to yourselves, and
shut not out others; no, but this doth reach unto all those that do not only
keep souls from heaven by preaching and the like, but speaks forth the doom of those
that shall any ways be instrumental to hinder others from closing in with Jesus Christ.
O what red lines will those be against all those rich ungodly landlords, that so
keep under their poor tenants that they dare not go out to hear the word, for fear
their rent should be raised, or they turned out of their houses! What sayest thou,
landlord, will it not cut thy soul, when thou shalt see that thou couldest not be
content to miss of heaven thyself, but thou must labour to hinder others also? Will
it not give thee an eternal wound in thy heart, both at death and judgment, to be
accused of the ruin of thy neighbour's soul, thy servant's soul, thy wife's soul,
together with the ruin of thy own? Think on this, you drunken, proud, rich, and scornful
landlords; think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands, that are against
the godly and chaste conversation of your wives; also you that hold your servants
so hard to it that you will not spare them time to hear the word, unless it be where
and when your lusts will let you. If you love your own souls, your tenants' souls,
your wives' souls, your servants' souls, your children's souls; if you would not
cry, if you would not howl, if you would not bear the burden of the ruin of others
for ever, then I beseech you to consider this doleful story, and labour to avoid
the soul-killing torment that this poor wretch groaneth under, when he saith, 'I
pray thee therefore, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house,
For I have five brethren, THAT HE MAY TESTIFY,' mark, 'that he may testify UNTO THEM,
lest they also come into this place of torment.'
These words have still something more in them than I have yet observed from them;
there are one or two things more that I shall briefly touch upon, and therefore,
mark, he saith, 'That he may testify unto them,' &c. Mark, I pray you, and take
notice of the word TESTIFY. He doth not say, And let him go unto them, or speak with,
or tell them such and such things. No, but let him testify, or affirm it constantly,
in case any should oppose it. 'Let him testify unto them.' It is the same word the
Scripture uses to set forth the vehemency of Christ, his telling of his disciples
of him that should betray him. And he testified, saying, One of you shall betray
me. And he testified, that is, he spake it so as to dash or overcome any that should
have said it shall not be. It is a word that signifies, that in case any should oppose
the thing spoken of, yet that the party speaking should still continue constant in
his saying. And he commanded them to preach, 'and to testify, that it is he which
was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.' To testify, mark, that is,
to be constant, irresistible, undaunted, in case it should be opposed and objected
against. So here, let him testify to them, lest they come into this place of torment.
From whence observe, that it is not an easy matter to persuade them who are in their
sins alive in this world, that they must and shall be damned if they turn not, and
be converted to God. 'Let him testify to them,' let him speak confidently, though
they frown upon him, or dislike his way of speaking. And how is this truth verified
and cleared by the carriages of almost all men now in the world toward them that
do preach the gospel; and show their own miserable state plainly to them, if they
close not with it? If a man do but indeed labour to convince sinners of their sins
and lost condition by nature, though they must be damned if they live and die in
that condition, O how angry are they at it! Look how he judges, say they, hark how
he condemns us; he tells us we must be damned if we live and die in this state. We
are offended at him, we cannot abide to hear him, or any such as he; we will believe
none of them all, but go on in the way we are agoing. 'Forbear, why shouldest thou
be smitten,' said the ungodly king to the prophet, when he told him of his sins (2
I say, tell the drunkard he must be damned if he leaves not his drunkenness, the
swearer, liar, cheater, thief, covetous, railers, or any ungodly persons, they must
and shall lie in hell for it, if they die in this condition; they will not believe
you, not credit you.
Again, tell others that there are many in hell that have lived and died in their
conditions, and so are they like to be, if they convert not to Jesus Christ, and
be found in him, or that there are others that are more civil and sober men, who,
although we know that their civility will not save them, if we do but tell them plainly
of the emptiness and unprofitableness of that, as to the saving of their souls, and
that God will not accept them, nor love them, notwithstanding these things, and that
if they intend to be saved, they must be better provided than with such a righteousness
as this; they will either fling away, and come to hear no more, or else if they do
come, they will bring such prejudice with them in their hearts, that the word preached
shall not profit them, it being mixed not with faith, but with prejudice in them
that hear it (Heb 4:1,2). Nay, they will some of them be so full of anger that they
will break out and call, even those that speak the truth, heretics; yea, and kill
them (Luke 4:25-29). And why so? Because they tell them, that if they live in their
sins that will damn them; yet if they turn and live a righteous life, according to
the holy, and just, and good law of God, that will not save them.
Yea, because we tell them plainly that unless they leave their sins and [self] righteousness
too, and close in with a naked Jesus Christ, his blood and merits, and what he hath
done, and is now doing for sinners, they cannot be saved; and unless they do eat
the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, they have no life abiding in them,
they gravel presently, and are offended at it, as the Jews were with Christ for
speaking the same thing to them (John 6:53,60). And fling away themselves, their
souls and all, by quarrelling against the doctrine of the Son of God, as indeed they
do, though they will not believe they do; and therefore, he that is a preacher of
the Word, had need not only tell them, but testify to them, again and again, that
their sins, if they continue in them, will damn them, and damn them again. And tell
them again, their living honestly according to the law, their paying every one their
own, their living quietly with their neighbours, their giving to the poor, their
notion of the gospel, and saying they do believe in Christ, will do them no good
at the general day of judgment. Ha, friends! How many of you are there at this very
day, that have been told once and again of your lost undone condition, because you
want the right, real, and saving work of God upon your souls! I say, hath not this
been told you, yea, testified unto you from time to time, that your state is miserable,
that yet you are never the better, but do still stand where you did; some in an open
ungodly life, and some drowned in a self-conceited holiness of Christianity? Therefore,
for God's sake, if you love your souls, consider, and beg of God for Jesus Christ's
sake, that he would work such a work of grace in your hearts, and give you such a
faith in his Son Jesus Christ, that you may not only have rest here, as you think,
not only think your state safe while you live here, but that you may be safe indeed,
not only here, but also when you are gone, lest you do cry in the anguish and perplexity
of your souls, Send one to my companions that have been beguiled by Satan as I have
been, and so, by going on, come into this place of torment as I have done.
Again, one thing more is to be observed from these words, Let him 'testify to them,
LEST THEY ALSO COME INTO THIS PLACE OF TORMENT.'
Mark, lest they come in. As if he had said, Or else they will come into this place
of torment, as sure as I am here. From whence observe, that though some souls do
for sin fall into the bottomless pit of hell before their fellows, because they depart
this world before them, yet the other, abiding in the same course, are as sure to
go to the same place as if they were there already. How so? Because that all are
condemned together, they have all fallen under the same law, and have all offended
the same justice, and must for certain, if they die in that condition, drink as deep,
if not deeper, of the same destruction. Mark, I pray you, what the Scriptures say,
'He that believeth not, is condemned already' (John 3:18).
He is condemned as well as they, having broken the same law with them; if so, then
what hinders but they will partake of the same destruction with them? Only the one
hath not the law yet so executed upon them, because they are here; the other have
had the law executed upon them, they are gone to drink that which they have been
brewing, and thou art brewing that in this life which thou must certainly drink.
The same law, I say, is in force against you both, only he is executed and thou art
not. Just as if there were a company of prisoners at the bar, and all condemned to
die; what, because they are not all executed in one day, therefore shall they not
be executed at all? Yes, the same law that executed its severity upon the parties
now deceased, will for certain be executed on them that are alive in its appointed
time. Even so it is here, we are all condemned by nature; if we close not in with
the grace of God by Jesus Christ, we must and shall be destroyed with the same destruction;
and 'therefore send him,' saith he, 'LEST,' mark, 'lest they also come into this
place of torment.
Again, 'Send him to my father's house,' and let him 'testify unto them, lest they
also come into this place of torment.' As if he had said, It may be he may prevail
with them, it may be he may win upon them, and so they may be kept from hence, from
coming into this grievous place of torment. Observe again, that there is a possibility
of obtaining mercy, if now, I say, now in this day of grace, we turn from our sins
to Jesus Christ; yea, it is more than possible. And therefore, for thy encouragement,
do thou know for certain, that if thou shalt in this thy day accept of mercy upon
God's own terms, and close with him effectually, God hath promised, yea, made many
promises, that thy soul shall be conducted safe to glory, and shall for certain escape
all the evils that I have told thee of; aye, and many more than I can imagine. Do
but search the Scriptures, and see how full of consolation they are to a poor soul
that is minded to close in with Jesus Christ. 'Him that cometh to me,' saith Christ,
'I will in no wise cast out.' Though he be an old sinner, 'I will in no wise cast
him out'; mark, in no wise, though he be a great sinner, I will in no wise cast him
out, if he come to me. Though he have slighted me neve
so many times, and not regarded the welfare of his own soul, yet let him now come
to me, and notwithstanding this, 'I will in no wise cast him out,' nor throw away
his soul (John 6:37). Again, saith the apostle, 'Now,' mark now, 'is the accepted
time, now is the day of their salvation.' Now here is mercy in good store, now God's
heart is open to sinners; now he will make you welcome; now he will receive anybody
if they do but come to Christ. 'He that cometh to me,' saith Christ, 'I will in no
wise cast out.' And why? Because 'NOW is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation'
(2 Cor 6:2). As if the apostle had said, If you will have mercy, have it now, receive
it now, close in with it now.
God hath a certain day to hold out his grace to sinners. Now is the time, now is
the day. It is true, there is a day of damnation, but this is a day of salvation.
There is a day coming, wherein sinners must cry to the mountains to fall on them,
to the hills to cover them from the wrath of God; but now, now is the day in which
he doth hold out his grace. There is a day coming, in which you will not be admitted
to have the privilege of one drop of water to cool your tongue, if now, I say, if
now you slight his grace and goodness which he holds out to you. Ah, friends, consider
there is now hopes of mercy, but then there will not; now Christ holds forth mercy
unto you, but then he will not (Matt 7:23). Now there are his servants that do beseech
you to accept of his grace, but if thou lose the opportunity that is put into thine
hand, thou thyself mayest beseech hereafter, and no mercy be given thee. 'And he
cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip
the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.' And thee was none given. Therefore
let it never be said of thee, as it will be said of some, 'Wherefore is there a price
in the hand of a fool, seeing he hath no heart to it?' Seeing he hath no heart to
make a good use of it (Prov 17:16). Consider therefore with thyself, and say, It
is better going to heaven than hell; it is better to be saved than damned; it is
better to be with saints than with damned souls; and to go to God is better than
to go to the devil. Therefore 'seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call ye
upon him while he is near' (Isa 55:6). Lest in thy trouble he leave thee to thyself,
and say unto thee plainly, Where I am, thither 'ye cannot come' (John 8:21).
O if they that are in hell might but now again have one such invitation as this,
how would they leap for joy! I have thought sometimes should God send but one of
his ministers to the damned in hell, and give him commission to preach the free love
of God in Christ extended to them, and held out to them, if now while it is proffered
to them they will accept of his kindness; O how welcome would they make this news,
and close in with it on any terms! Certainly they would say, we will accept of grace
on any terms in the world, and thank you too, though it cost life and limbs to boot;
we will spare no cost nor charge, if mercy may be had. But poor souls, while they
live here they will not part from sin, with hell-bred devilish sin. No, they will
rather lose their souls than lose their filthy sins.
But, friend, thou wilt change thy note before it be long, and cry, O simple wretch
that I am that I should damn my soul by sin! It is true, I have had the gospel preached
to me, and have been invited in. I have been preached to, and have been warned of
this; but 'how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have
not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed
me' (Prov 5:12,13). O therefore, I say, poor soul! Is there hope? Then lay thine
hand upon thy mouth, and kiss the dust, and close in with the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make much of his glorious mercy; and invite also thy companions to close in with
the same Lord Jesus Christ, lest one of you do go to hell beforehand, and expect
with grief of heart your companions to come after; and in the mean time, with anguish
of heart, do sigh and say, O send him to my companions, and let him testify to them,
lest they also come into this place of torment.
[USE AND APPLICATION Of the Preceding portion of the Parable.]
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
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
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.
I shall conclude this, then, with A FEW
CONSIDERATIONS OF ENCOURAGEMENT.
[First Encouragement.] Consider, for I would fain have thee come in, sinner, that
there is way made by Jesus Christ for them that are under the curse of God, to come
to this comfortable and blessed state of Lazarus I was speaking of. See Ephesians
[Second Encouragement.] Consider what pains Christ Jesus took for the ransoming of
thy soul from all the curses, thunder-claps, and tempests of the law; from all the
intolerable flames of hell; from that soul-sinking appearance of thy person, on the
left hand, before the judgment-seat of Christ Jesus, from everlasting fellowship,
with innumerable companies of yelling and soul-amazing devils, I say, consider what
pains the Lord Jesus Christ took in bringing in redemption for sinners from these
'In that though he was rich, yet he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might
be' made 'rich' (2 Cor 8:9). He laid aside his glory (John 17), and became a servant
(Phil 2:7). He left the company of angels, and encountered with the devil (Luke 4;
Matt 4). He left heaven's ease for a time, to lie upon hard mountains (Luke 6:12;
John 8:1). In a word, he became poorer than they that go with flail and rake; yea,
than the very birds or foxes, and all to do thee good. Besides, consider a little
of these unspeakable and intolerable slightings and rejections, and the manifold
abuses that came from men upon him. How he was falsely accused, being a sweet, harmless,
and undefiled lamb. How he was undervalued, so that a murderer was counted less worthy
of condemnation than he. Besides, how they mocked him, spit on him, beat him over
the head with staves, had the hair plucked from his cheeks. 'I gave my back to the
smiters,' saith he, 'and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my
face from shame and spitting' (Isa 50:6). His head crowned with thorns, his hands
pierced with nails, and his side with a spear; together with how they used him, scourged
him, and so miserably misusing him, that they had even spent him in a great measure
before they did crucify him; insomuch that there was another fain to carry his cross.
[Third Encouragement.] Not only this, but lay to heart a little what he received
from God, his dear Father, though he were his dear and tender Son.
1. In that he did reckon him the greatest sinner and rebel in the world. For
he laid the sins of thousands, and ten thousands, and thousands of thousands of sinners
to his charge (Isa 53). And caused him to drink the terrible cup that was due to
them all; and not only so, but did delight in so doing. 'For it pleased the LORD
to bruise him.' God dealt indeed with his son, as Abraham would have deal with Isaac;
ay, and more terribly by ten thousand parts. For he did not only tear his body like
a lion, but made his soul an offering for sin. And this was not done feignedly, but
really–for justice called for it, he standing in the room of sinners. Witness that
horrible and unspeakable agony that fell on him suddenly in the garden, as if all
the vials of God's unspeakable scalding vengeance had been cast upon him all at once,
and all the devils in hell had broken loose from thence at once to destroy him, and
that for ever; insomuch that the very pangs of death seized upon him in the same
hour. For, saith he, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful' and 'sore amazed,' even 'unto
death' (Mark 14:34).
2. Witness also that strange kind of sweat that trickled down his most blessed face,
where it is said: 'And he sweat, as it were, great drops' or clodders 'of blood,'
trickling 'down to the ground.' O Lord Jesus! what a load didst thou carry! What
a burden didst thou bear of the sins of the world, and the wrath of God! O thou didst
not only bleed at nose and mouth with the pressure that lay upon thee, but thou wast
so pressed, so loaden, that the pure blood gushed through the flesh and skin, and
so ran trickling down to the ground. 'And his sweat was as it were great drops of
blood,' trickling or 'falling down to the ground' (Luke 22:44). Canst thou read this,
O thou wicked sinner, and yet go on in sin? Canst thou think of this, and defer repentance
one hour longer? O heart of flint! yea, harder. O miserable wretch! What place in
hell will be hot enough for thee to have thy soul put into, if thou shalt persist
or go on still to add iniquity to iniquity.
3. Besides, his soul went down to hell, and his body to the bars of the grave (Psa
16:10; Acts 2:31). And had hell, death, or the grave, been strong enough to hold
him, then he had suffered the vengeance of eternal fire to all eternity. But, O blessed
Jesus! how didst thou discover thy love to man in thy thus suffering! And, O God
the Father! how didst thou also declare thy purity and exactness of thy justice,
in that, though it was thine only, holy, innocent, harmless, and undefiled Son Jesus,
that did take on him our nature, and represent our persons, answering for our sins,
instead of ourselves! Thou didst so wonderfully pour out thy wrath upon him, to the
making of him cry out, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' And, O Lord Jesus!
what a glorious conquest hast thou made over the enemies of our souls, even wrath,
sin, death, hell, and devils, in that thou didst wring thyself from under the power
of them all! And not only so, but hast led them captive which would have led us captive;
and also hast received for us that glorious and unspeakable inheritance that 'eye
hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man' to conceive;
and also hast given thine some discovery thereof through thy Spirit.
And now, sinner, together with this consider,
4. That though Jesus Christ hath done all these things for sinners, yet the devils
make it their whole work, and continually study how they may keep thee and others
from enjoying of these blessed privileges that have been thus obtained for sinners
by this sweet Jesus. He labours, I say, (1.) To keep thee ignorant of thy state by
nature. (2.) To harden thy heart against the ways of God. (3.) To inflame they heart
with love to sin and the ways of darkness. And, (4.) To get thee to continue herein.
For that is the way, he knows, to get thee to be a partaker with him of flaming hell-fire,
even the same that he himself is fallen into, together with the rest of the wicked
world, by reason of sin. Look to it therefore.
[Fourth Encouragement.] But now, in the next place, a word of encouragement to you
that are the saints of the Lord.
1. Consider what a happy state thou art in that hast gotten the faith of the Lord
Jesus into thy soul; but be sure thou have it, I say, how safe, how sure, how happy
art thou! For when others go to hell, thou must go to heaven; when others go to the
devil, thou must go to God; when as others go to prison, thou must be set at liberty,
at ease, and at freedom; when others must roar for sorrow of heart, then thou shalt
also sing for the joy of heart.
2. Consider thou must have all thy well-spent life to follow thee instead of all
thy sins and the glorious blessings of the gospel instead of the dreadful curses
and condemnations of the law; the blessing of the father, instead of a fiery sentence
from the judge.
3. Let dissolution come when it will, it can do thee no harm; for it will be but
only a passage out of a prison into a palace; out of a sea of troubles into a haven
of rest; out of a crowd of enemies, to an innumerable company of true, loving, and
faithful friends; out of shame, reproach, and contempt, into exceeding great and
eternal glory. For death shall not hurt thee with his sting, nor bite thee with his
soul-murdering teeth; but shall be a welcome guest to thee, even to thy soul, in
that it is sent to free thee from thy troubles which thou art in whilst here in this
world dwelling in the tabernacle of clay.
4. Consider however it goes with friends and relations, yet it will go well with
thee (Eccl 8:12). However it goes with the wicked, yet 'surely I know'; mark, 'yet
surely I know,' saith he, 'that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear
before him.' And therefore let this,
(1.) In the first place, cause thee cheerfully to exercise thy patience under all
the calamities, crosses, troubles, and afflictions that may come upon thee; and,
by patient continuance in well-doing, to commit both thyself and thine affairs and
actions into the hands of God, through Jesus Christ, as to a faithful Creator, who
is true in his word, and loveth to give unto thee whatsoever he hath promised to
(2.) And, therefore, to encourage thee while thou art here with comfort to hold on
for all thy crosses in this thy journey, be much in considering the place that thou
must go into so soon as dissolution comes. It must be into heaven, to God the judge
of all, to an innumerable company of angels, to the spirits of just men made perfect,
to the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in
heaven, and to Jesus, to the redeemer, who is the mediator of the new covenant, and
to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things for thee than Abel's did for
Cain (Heb 11:22-24).
(3.) Consider that when the time of the dead that they shall be raised is come, then
shall thy body be raised out of the grave and be glorified, and be made like to Jesus
Christ (Phil 3:21). O excellent condition!
(4.) When Jesus Christ shall sit on the throne of his glory you also shall sit with
him, even when he shall sit on the throne of his glory. O will not this be glorious,
that when thousands, and thousands of thousands shall be arraigned before the judgment-seat
of Christ, then for them to sit with him upon the throne, together with him to pass
the sentence upon the ungodly (1 Cor 6:2,3). Will it not be glorious to enjoy those
things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart
of man to conceive?
Will it not be glorious to have this sentence, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world?' Will it not be glorious
to enter then with the angels and saints into that glorious kingdom? Will it not
be glorious for thee to be in glory with them, while others are in unutterable torments?
O then, how will it comfort thee to see thou hast not lost that glory; to think that
the devil hath not got thy soul, that thy soul should be saved, and that not from
a little, but from an exceeding danger; not with a little, but a great salvation.
O, therefore, let the saints be joyful in glory, let them triumph over all their
enemies. Let them begin to sing heaven upon earth, triumph before they come to glory,
salvation, even when they are in the midst of their enemies, for 'this honour have
all his saints' (Psa 149:9).
Verse 29.– 'Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear
In the verses foregoing you see there is a discovery of the lamentable state of the
poor soul that dies out of Christ, and the special favour of God. And also how little
the glorious God of heaven doth regard and take notice of their most miserable condition.
Now in this verse he doth magnify the word which was spoken to the people by the
prophets and apostles, 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.' As
if he should say, thou askest me that I should send Lazarus back again into the world
to preach to them that live there, that they might escape that doleful place that
thou art in. What needs that? Have they not Moses and the prophets? Have they not
had my ministers and servants sent unto them and coming as from me? I sent Enoch
and Noah, Moses and Samuel. I sent David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea,
and the rest of the prophets, together with Peter, Paul, John, Matthew, James, Jude,
with the rest; 'Let them hear them.' What they have spoken by divine inspiration
I will own, whether it be for the damnation of those that reject, or the saving of
them that receive their doctrine. And, therefore, what need have they that one should
be sent unto them in another way? 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear
them.' Let them receive their word, close in with the doctrine declared by them.
I shall not at this time speak anything to that word 'Abraham,' having touched upon
it already; but shall tell you what is to be understood by these words, 'They have
Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.' The things that I shall observe from
hence are these:–
[First.] That the scriptures spoken by the holy men of God are a sufficient rule
to instruct to salvation them that do assuredly believe and close in with what they
hold forth. 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.' That is, if they
would escape that doleful place, and be saved indeed from the intolerable pains of
hell-fire, as they desire, they have that which is sufficient to counsel them. 'They
have Moses and the prophets'; let them be instructed by them, 'Let them hear them.'
For 'all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'; why? 'That the man
of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works' (2 Tim 3:16,17).
Do but mark these words, 'All scripture is profitable.' ALL; take it where you will,
and in what place you will, 'All is profitable': For what? 'That the man of God,'
or he that is bound for heaven, and would instruct others in their progress thither.
It is profitable to instruct him, in case he be ignorant; to reprove him, in case
he transgress; to correct him, if he hath need of it; to confirm him, if he be wavering.
It is profitable for doctrine, and all this in a very righteous way–that the poor
soul may not only be helped, but thoroughly furnished, not only to some, but to all
good works. And when Paul would counsel Timothy to stick close to the things that
are sound and sure, presently he puts him upon the scripture, saying, 'From a child
thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation,
through faith which is in Christ Jesus.' The scripture holds forth God's mind and
will, of his love and mercy towards man, and also the creature's carriage towards
him from first to last; so if thou wouldst know the love of God in Christ to sinners,
then 'search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of him.'
Wouldst thou know what thou art, and what is in thine heart? Then search the Scriptures
and see what is written in them (Rom 1:29-31, 3:9-18; Jer 17:9; Gen 6:5, 8:21; Eph
4:18, with many others). The Scriptures, I say, they are able to give a man perfect
instruction into any of the things of God necessary to faith and godliness, if he
hath but an honest heart seriously to weigh and ponder the several things contained
in them. As to instance in things more particular for the further clearing up of
this. And first, if we come to the creation of the world.
Wouldst thou know somewhat concerning that? Then read Genesis 1 and 2, and compare
them with Psalm 33:6; also Isaiah 66:2; Proverbs 8 towards the end.
Wouldst thou know whether he made them of something or nothing? Read Hebrews 11:3.
Wouldst thou know whether he put forth any labour in making them, as we do in making
things? Read Psalm 33:9.
If thou wouldst know whether man was made by God corrupt or upright, read Ecclesiastes
7:29; Genesis 1:10, 18, 25, 31.
Wouldst thou know where God did place man after he had made him? Read Genesis 2:15.
Wouldst thou know whether that man did live there all his time or not? Then read
Genesis 3:23, 24.
If thou wouldst know whether man be still in that state by nature that God did place
him in? Then read Ecclesiastes 7:29, and compare it with Romans 5:16; Ephesians 2:1-3.
'God made men upright, but they have sought out many inventions.'
If thou wouldst know whether the man were first beguiled, or the woman that God made
an help-mate for him? Read Genesis 3:6, and compare with 1 Timothy 2:14.
Wouldst thou know whether God looked upon Adam's eating [the fruit of] the forbidden
tree to be sin or no? Read Romans 5:12-15, and compare it with Genesis 3:17.
Wouldst thou know whether it were the devil who beguiled them, or whether it was
a natural serpent, such as do haunt the desolate places? Read Genesis 3:13, with
Wouldst thou know whether that sin be imputed to us? Read Romans 5:12-15, and compare
it with Ephesians 2:2.
Wouldst thou know whether man was cursed for his sin? Read Galatians 3:10; Romans
Wouldst thou know whether the curse did fall on man, or on the whole creation with
him? Compare Genesis 3:17, with Romans 8:20-22.
Wouldst thou know whether man be defiled in every part of him by the sin he hath
committed? Then read Isaiah 1:6.
Wouldst thou know man's inclination so soon as he is born? Read Psalm 58:3. 'The
wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born.'
Wouldst thou know whether man once fallen from God by transgression, can recover
himself by all he can do? Then read Romans 3:20,23.
Wouldst thou know whether it be the desire of the heart of man by nature, to follow
God in his own way or no? Compare Genesis 6:5, and Genesis 8:21, with Hosea 11:7.
Wouldst thou know how God's heart stood affected toward man before the world began?
Compare Ephesians 1:4, with 2 Timothy 1:9.
Wouldst thou know whether sin were sufficient to draw God's love from his creatures?
Compare Jeremiah 3:7, and Micah 7:18, with Romans 5:6-8.
Wouldst thou know whether God's love did still abide towards his creatures for anything
they could do to make him amends? Then read Deuteronomy 11:5-8.
Wouldst thou know how God could still love his creatures, and do his justice no wrong?
Read Romans 3:24-26. 'Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption
that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation' for sin, 'through
faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are
past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness,
that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.'
That is, God having his justice satisfied in the blood, and righteousness, and death
of his own Son Jesus Christ for the sins of poor sinners, he can now save them that
come to him, though never so great sinners, and do his justice no wrong, because
it hath had a full and complete satisfaction given it by that blood (1 John 1:7,8).
Wouldst thou know who he was, and what he was, that did out of his love die for sinners,
then compare John 3:16, 17,; Romans 5:8, with Isaiah 9:6.
Wouldst thou know whether this Saviour had a body of flesh and bones before the world
was, or took it from the Virgin Mary? Then read Galatians 4:4.
Wouldst thou know whether he did in that body bear all our sins, and where? Then
read 1 Peter 2:24. 'Who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.'
Wouldst thou know whether he did rise again after he was crucified, with the very
same body? Then read Luke 24:38- 41.
Wouldst thou know whether he did eat or drink with his disciples after he rose out
of the grave? Then read Luke 24:42, and Acts 10:41.
If thou wouldst be persuaded of the truth of this, that that very body is now above
the clouds and stars, read Acts 1:9- 11, and Luke 24 toward the end.
If thou wouldst know that the Quakers hold an error that say the body of Christ is
within them; consider the same scripture.
Wouldst thou know what that Christ that died for sinners is doing in that place whither
he is gone? Then read Hebrews 7:24.
Wouldst thou know who shall have life by him, read 1 Timothy 1:14, 15, and Romans
5:6-8, which say, 'Christ died' for sinners, 'for the ungodly.'
Wouldst thou know whether they that live and die in their sins shall go to heaven
or not? Then read 1 Corinthians 6:10; Revelation 21:8, 27, which saith, 'They shall
have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
Wouldst thou know whether man's obedience will obtain that Christ should die for
them, or save them? Then read Mark 2:17; Romans 5:6, 7.
Wouldst thou know whether righteousness, justification, and sanctification do come
through the virtue of Christ's blood? Compare Romans 5:9 with Hebrews 12:12.
Wouldst thou know whether natural man can abstain from the outward act of sin against
the law, merely by a principle of nature? Then compare well Romans 2:14, with Philippians
Wouldst thou know whether a man by nature may know something of the invisible things
of God? Compare seriously Romans 1:20, 21 with 2:14, 15.
Wouldst thou know how far a man may go on in a profession of the gospel, and yet
fall away? Then read Hebrews 6:4-6. 'They may taste the good Word of God, and the
powers of the world to come.' They may taste 'the heavenly gift, and be partakers
of the Holy Ghost,' and yet so fall as never to be recovered, or renewed again unto
repentance. See also Luke 13.
Wouldst thou know how hard it is to go to heaven? Read Matthew 7:13, 14; Luke 13:24.
Wouldst thou know whether a man by nature be a friend to God, or an enemy? Then read
Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21.
Wouldst thou know what, or who they are that shall go to heaven? Then read John 3:3-7,
and 2 Corinthians 5:17. Also, wouldst thou know what a sad thing it is for any to
turn their backs upon the gospel of Jesus Christ? then read Hebrews 10:28, 29, and
Wouldst thou know what is the wages of sin? Then read Romans 6:23. ['The wages of
sin is death.']
Wouldst thou know whither those do go that die unconverted to the faith of Christ?
Then read Psalm 9:17, and Isaiah 14:9.
Reader, here might I spend many sheets of paper, yea, I might upon this subject write
a very great book, but I shall now forbear, desiring thee to be very conversant in
the Scriptures, 'for they are they which testify of Jesus Christ' (John 5:39). The
Bereans were counted noble upon this account: 'These were more noble than those in
Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched
the scriptures daily,' &c. (Acts 17:11). But here let me give thee one caution,
that is, have a care that thou do not satisfy thyself with a bare search of them,
without a real application of him whom they testify of to thy soul, lest instead
of faring the better for thy doing this work, thou dost fare a great deal the worse,
and thy condemnation be very much heightened, in that though thou didst read so often
the sad state of those that die in sin, and the glorious estate of them that close
in with Christ, yet thou thyself shouldest be such a fool as to lose Jesus Christ,
notwithstanding thy hearing, and reading so plentifully of him.
'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
As if he should say, what need have they that one should be sent to them from the
dead? Have they not Moses and the prophets? Hath not Moses told them the danger of
living in sin? (Deut 27:15-26, 28:15-68, 29:18-22). Hath he not there told them,
what a sad state those persons are in that deceive themselves with the deceit of
their hearts, saying they shall have peace though they follow their sins, in these
words: 'And when he heareth the words of this curse, he blesseth himself in his heart,
saying, I shall have peace though I' go on, or 'walk in the imagination of mine heart,
to add drunkenness to thirst. The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of
the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are
written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from
Again, Did not Moses write of the Saviour that was to come afterwards into the world?
(Deut 18:18). Nay, have not all the prophets from Samuel, with all those that follow
after, prophesied, and foretold these things? Therefore what need have they that
I should work such a miracle, as to send one from the dead unto them? 'They have
Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
[Second.] From whence observe again, that God doth honour the writings of Moses and
the prophets, as much, nay more, than if one should rise from the dead: 'Should not
a people seek unto their God?' What, seek 'for the living among the dead? To the
law, and to the testimony,' saith God, 'if they speak not according to this word,
it is because there is no light in them' (Isa 8:19,20). And let me tell you plainly,
I do believe that the devil knows this full well, which makes him labour to beget
in the hearts of his disciples and followers light thoughts of them; and doth persuade
them, that even a motion from their own beguiled conscience, or from his own wicked
spirit, is to be observed and obeyed before them. When the very apostle of Jesus
Christ, though he heard a voice from the excellent glory, saying, 'This is my beloved
Son,' &c., yet writing to the churches, he commends, the writing of the prophets
before it, saying, 'We have also a more sure word of the prophets, to which ye do
well to take heed,' &c. (2 Peter 1:17-19). Now if thou doubtest whether that
place be meant the scriptures, the words of the prophets or no, read but the next
verse, where he addeth for a certain confirmation thereof, these words, 'Knowing
this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For
the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost.'
And therefore what a sad thing is it for those that go about to disown the Scriptures!
I tell you, however they may slight them now, yet when they come into hell, they
will see their folly: 'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
Further, who are they that are so tossed to and fro, with the several winds of doctrine
that have been broached in these days, but such for the most part, as have had a
light esteem of the scriptures; for the ground of error, as Christ saith, is because
they know not them (Mark 12:24). And indeed, it is just with God to give them over
to follow their own dark blinded consciences, to be led into errors, that they might
be damned into hell, who did not believe that the things contained in the Scripture
were the truth, that they might be saved and go to heaven. I cannot well tell how
to have done speaking for, and on the Scriptures' side; only this I consider, a word
is enough to the wise; and therefore I shall commit these things into the hands of
them that are of God; and as for the rest, I shall say to them, rather than God will
save them from hell with the breach of his holy Word, if they had a thousand souls
apiece, God would destroy them all; for 'the Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35).
Verse 30.– 'And he said, Nay, Father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the
dead, they will repent.'
The verse before, you know, as I told you, it was part of an answer to such as lose
their souls; so it is a vindication of the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets,
'They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.'
Now this verse is an answer to what was said in the former; and such an one as hath
in it a rejection of the former answer. 'Nay, father Abraham.' Nay, saith he, do
not say so, do not put them off with this; send one from the dead, and then there
will be some hopes. It is true thou speakest of the Scripture, of Moses and the prophets,
and sayest, 'let them hear them'; but these things are not so well as I could wish,
I had rather thou wouldst send one from the dead. In these words therefore, Nay,
father Abraham, there is a repulse given; nay, let it not be so; nay, I do not like
of that answer. Hear Moses and the prophets, nay. The same expression is used by
Christ, Luke 13:2, 3. Think you that they upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, were
sinners above others? 'I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise
perish.' So here, Nay, father Abraham, &c.
By this word Nay, therefore, is signified a rejecting the first answer.
Now observe, I pray you, the reason why he says Nay, is, because God doth put over
all those that will be saved, to observe and receive the truth contained in Scripture,
and believe that. To have a high esteem of them, and to love and search them, as
Christ saith, 'Search the Scriptures,' for 'they are they which testify of me' (John
5:39). But the damned say, Nay; as if he had said, This is the thing. To be short,
my brethren are unbelievers, and do not regard the Word of God. I know it by myself,
for when I was in the world, it was so with me; many a good sermon did I hear, many
a time was I admonished, desired, entreated, beseeched, threatened, forewarned of
what I now suffer; but alas! I was ignorant, self-conceited, surly, obstinate, and
rebellious. Many a time the preacher told hell would be my portion, the devil would
wreck his malice on me; God would pour on me his sore displeasure; but he had as
good have preached to the stock, to the post, to the stones I trod on; his words
rang in mine ears, but I kept them from mine heart. I remember he alleged many a
Scripture, but those I valued not; the Scriptures, thought I, what are they? A dead
letter, a little ink and paper, of three or four shillings' price. Alas! What
is the Scripture? Give me a ballad, a news-book, George on horseback, or Bevis of
Southampton; give me some book that teaches curious arts, that tells of old fables;
but for the holy Scriptures I cared not. And as it was with me then, so it is with
my brethren now, we were all of one spirit, loved all the same sins, slighted all
the same counsels, promises, encouragements and threatenings of the Scriptures; and
they are still, as I left them, still in unbelief, still provoking God, and rejecting
good counsel, so hardened in their ways, so bent to follow sin, that let the Scriptures
be showed to them daily, let the messengers of Christ preach till their hearts ache,
till they fall down dead with preaching, they will rather trample it under foot,
and swine-like rend them, than close in with those gentle and blessed proffers of
'Nay, father Abraham, but if one should rise from the dead, they would repent.' Though
they have Moses and the prophets, the Scriptures, they will not repent and close
in with Jesus Christ, though the Scriptures do witness against them. If therefore
there be any good done to them, they must have it another way. I think, saith he,
it would work much on them 'if one should rise from the dead.' And this truth indeed
is so evident, that ungodly ones have a light esteem of the Scriptures, that it needs
not many strong arguments to prove it, being so evidently manifested by their every
day's practice, both in words and actions, almost in all things they say and do.
Yet for the satisfaction of the reader, I shall show you by a scripture or two, though
I might show many, that this was and is true, with the generality of the world. See
the words of Nehemiah in his 9th chapter concerning the children of Israel, who though
the Lord offered them mercy upon mercy, as it is from verse 19-25, yet verse 26,
saith he, 'Nevertheless they were disobedient' for all thy goodness towards them,
'and rebelled against thee.' But how? 'And cast thy law behind their backs; slew
thy prophets which testified against them, to turn them to thee, and they wrought
Observe, 1. They sinned against mercy. And then, 2. They slighted the law, or Word
of God. 3. They slew the prophets that declared it unto them. 4. The Lord counts
it a great provocation. See Hebrews 3:10-19; Zechariah 7:11, 12. 'But they refused
to hearken,' saith he, there of the wicked, 'and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped
their ears, that they should not hear' the law. 'Yea, they made their hearts' hard
as 'an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord
of hosts hath sent' unto them 'in his Spirit by the former prophets,' &c.
Mark, I pray you, here is also, (1.) A refusing to hearken to the words of the prophets.
(2.) That they might so do, they stopped their ears. (3.) If anything was to be done,
they pulled away their shoulder. (4.) To effect his, they labour to make their hearts
hard as an adamant stone. (5.) And all this, lest they should hear and close in with
Jesus, and live, and be delivered from the wrath to come. All which things do hold
out an unwillingness to submit to, and embrace the words of God, and so Jesus Christ
which is testified of by them. Many other scriptures I might bring in for confirmation
of the thing, as that in Amos 7:12, 13; also 1 Samuel 2:24, 25; 2 Chronicles 25:15,
16; Jeremiah 7:23-28, 16:12. Read also seriously that saying in 2 Chronicles 36:15,
where he saith, 'And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers,
rising up betimes, because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-
place.' And did they make them welcome? No, but they mocked the messengers of God,
and despised his words. And was that all? No, they 'misused his prophets.' How long?
'Until the wrath of the Lord arose against them. Till there was no remedy.' See also
Jeremiah 29:19, 25:3-7; Luke 11:49.
And besides, the conversion of almost all men doth bear witness to the same, both
religious and profane persons, in that they daily neglect, reject, and turn their
backs upon the plain testimony of the Scriptures. As,
First. Take the THREATENINGS laid down in holy writ, and how are they disregarded?
There are but a few places in the Bible but there are threatenings against one sinner
or other; against drunkards, swearers, liars, proud persons, strumpets, whoremongers,
covetous, railers, extortioners, thieves, lazy persons. In a word, all manner of
sins are reproved, and without faith in the Lord Jesus, there is a sore punishment
to be executed on the committers of them; and all this made mention of in the Scriptures.
But for all this, how thick, and by heaps, do these wretches walk up and down our
streets? Do but go into the alehouses, and you shall see almost every room besprinkled
with them, so foaming out their own shame, that it is enough to make the heart of
a saint to tremble, insomuch that they would not be bound to have society with them
any long while for all the world. For as the ways of the godly are not liked of by
the wicked, even so the ways of the wicked 'are an abomination to the just' (Prov
29:27; Psa 120:5,6).
1. The Scripture says, 'Cursed is the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh
his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD' (Jer 17:5).
And yet how many poor souls are there in the world, that stand in so much awe and
dread of men, and do so highly esteem their favour, that they will rather venture
their souls in the hands of the devil with their favour, than they will fly to Jesus
Christ for the salvation of their souls? Nay, though they be convinced in their souls,
that the way is the way of God; yet how do they labour to stifle conviction, and
turn their ears away from the truth, and all because they will not lose the favour
of an opposite neighbour? O! I dare not for my master, my brother, my landlord, I
shall lose his favour, his house of work, and so decay my calling. O, saith another,
I would willingly go in this way, but for my father, he chides and tells me he will
not stand my friend when I come to want; I shall never enjoy a pennyworth of his
goods; he will disinherit me. And I dare not, saith another, for my husband, for
he will be a railing, and tells me he will turn me out of doors, he will beat me,
and cut off my legs. But I tell you, if any of these, or any other things be so prevalent
with thee now, as to keep thee from seeking after Christ in his ways, they will also
be so prevalent with God against thee, as to make him cast off thy soul, because
thou didst rather trust man than God; and delight in the embracing of man rather
than in the favour of the Lord.
2. Again, the Scripture saith, 'He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck,
shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy' (Prov 29:1). Yet many are so
far from turning, though they have been convinced of their wretched state a hundred
times, that when convictions or trouble for sin comes on their consciences, they
go on still in the same manner resisting and choking the same, though remediless
destruction be hard at their heels.
3. Again thou hast heard say, 'Except a man be born again,' 'he cannot enter into
the kingdom of God' (John 3:3-7). And yet thou goest on in a natural state, an unregenerate
condition; nay, thou dost resolve never to turn nor be changed, though hell be appointed
on purpose to swallow up such (Isa 14:9). 'The wicked shall be turned into hell,
and all the nations that forget God' (Psa 9:17).
4. Again, the Scripture saith plainly that he that loveth and maketh a lie shall
have his part 'in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev 21:8,27).
And yet thou art so far from dreading it, that it is thy delight to jest and jeer,
and lie for a penny, or twopence, or sixpence, again. And also if thou canst make
the rest of thy companions merry, by telling things that are false, of them that
are better than thyself, thou dost not care a straw. Or if thou hearest a lie from,
or of another, thou wilt tell it, and swear to the truth of it, O miserable!
5. Thou hast heard and read, that 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16).
And that 'all men have not faith' (2 Thess 3:2). And yet thou dost so much disregard
these things, that it is like thou didst scarce ever so much as examine seriously
whether thou wast in the faith or no; but dost content thyself with the hypocrite's
hope, which at the last God will cut off, and count it not better than the spider's
web (Job 8:13,14), or the house that is builded on the sands (Luke 6:49). Nay, thou
peradventure dost flatter thyself, and thinkest that thy faith is as good as the
best of them all; when, alas, poor soul, thou mayest have no saving faith at all;
which thou hast not, if thou be not born again, and made a new creature (2 Cor 2:17).
6. Thou hast heard, that he that neglects God's great salvation shall never escape
his great damnation (Heb 2:3, compared with Luke 14:24, and Rev 14:19,20). And yet
when thou art invited, intreated, and beseeched to come in, thou wilt make any excuse
to serve the turn (Luke 14:17,18; Rom 12:1; 2 Cor 5:19,20). Nay, thou wilt be so
wicked as to put off Christ time after time, notwithstanding he is so freely proffered
to thee; a little ground, a few oxen,
a farm, a wife, a twopenny matter, a play; nay, the fear of a mock, a scoff or a
jeer, is of greater weight to draw thee back, than the salvation of thy soul to draw
7. And thou hast heard, that whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy
of God (James 4:4). But thou regardest not these things, but contrariwise; rather
than thou wilt be out of the friendship and favour of this world, thou wilt sin against
thine own conscience, and get thyself into favour by fawning and flattering of the
world. Yea, rather than thou wilt go without it, thou wilt dissemble, lie, backbite
thy neighbour, and an hundred other tricks thou wilt have.
8. You have heard that the day of judgment is near, in which you and I, all of us,
must appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ, and there be made to give an account
to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead; even of all that ever we did,
yea, of all our sins in thought, word, and deed, and shall certainly be damned for
them too, if we close not in with our Lord Jesus Christ, and what he hath done and
suffered for eternal life; and that not notionally or traditionally, but really and
savingly, in the power, and by the operation of the Spirit, through faith (Eccl 11:9,
12:14; Acts 10:42, 17:30,31; 2 Cor 5:10; Heb 9:27; Rev 20:12). 'And I saw the dead,
small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was
opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which
were written in the books.' There is the book of the creatures, the book of conscience,
the book of the Lord's remembrance, the book of the law, the book of the gospel (Rom
1:20, compare with Rom 2:12,15; Rev 6:17; John 12:48). Then 'he shall separate
them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep on the right hand, but the
goats on his left' (Matt 25:30-32). 'And shall say to them on his right hand, Come,
ye blessed' (v 34). But to the other, go, or 'Depart, ye cursed' (v 41). Yet, notwithstanding
the Scriptures do so plainly and plentifully speak of these things, alas! who is
there that is weaned from the world, and from their sins and pleasures, to fly from
the wrath to come? (Matt 3:7). Notwithstanding the Scripture saith also that heaven
and earth shall pass away, rather than one jot, or one tittle of the word shall fail,
'till all be fulfilled,' they are so certain (Luke 21:33; Matt 5:18).
[Second PROMISES.] But leaving the threatenings, let us come to THE PROMISES, and
speak somewhat of them, and you may see how light men make of them, and how little
they set by them, notwithstanding the mouth of the Lord hath spoken them. As
1. 'Turn,' ye fools, ye scorners, ye simple ones, 'at my reproof'; and 'behold I
will pour out my Spirit unto you' (Prov 1:23). And yet persons had rather be in their
foolishness and scorning still, and had rather embrace some filthy lust, than the
holy, undefiled, and blessed Spirit of Christ, through the promise, though by it,
as many as receive it, 'are sealed unto the day of redemption' (Eph 4:30), and although
he that lives and dies without it, is none of Christ's (Rom 8:9).
2. God hath said, if thou do but come to him in Christ, 'Though your sins be as'
red as 'scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'; and he will by no means cast thee
away. Compare Isaiah 1:18 with John 6:37. Yet poor souls will not come to Christ
that they might have life (John 5:40), but rather after their hardness and impenitent
heart treasurest up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation
of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5).
3. Christ Jesus hath said in the Word of truth that if any man will serve and follow
him, where he is, 'there shall also his servant be' (John 12:26). But yet poor souls
choose rather to follow sin, Satan, and the world, though their companions be the
devils and damned souls for ever (Matt 25:41).
4. He hath also said, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all' other 'things shall
be added.' But let whoso will seek after the kingdom of heaven first for them; for
they will take the first time, while time serves to get the things of this life.
And if it be so, that they must needs seek after heaven, or else be damned, they
will stay till they have more leisure, or till they can better attend to it; or till
they have other things handsome about them, or till they are older; when they have
little else to do, or when they come to be sick, and to die. Then, Lord, have mercy
upon them! though it be ten thousand to one but they perish for ever.
For commonly the Lord hath this way to deal with such sinners, who put him off when
he is striving with them, either to laugh at their calamity, and mock when their
fear cometh (Prov 1:26,28). Or else send them to the gods they have served, which
are the devils (Judg 10:13,14). Go to the gods you have served, and 'let them deliver
you,' saith he; compare this with John 8:44.
5. He hath said, 'There is no man that forsaketh father, or mother, wife, or children,
or lands, for his sake and the gospel's, but shall have a hundred fold in this world,
with persecution, and in the world to come life everlasting' (Mark 10:29,30).
But men, for the most part, are so far off from believing the certainty of this,
that they will scarce lose the earning of a penny to hear the Word of God, the gospel
of salvation. Nay, they will neither go themselves, nor suffer others to go, if they
can help it, without threatening to do them a mischief, if it lie in their way. Nay,
further, many are so far from parting from any worldly gain for Christ's sake, and
the gospel's, that they are still striving, by hook and by crook, as we say, by swearing,
lying, cozening, stealing, covetousness, extortion, oppression, forgery, bribery,
flattery, or any other way to get more, thou they get together with these, death,
wrath, damnation, hell, the devil, and all the plagues that God can pour upon them.
And if any do not run with them to the same excess of riot, but rather for all their
threats will be so bold and careless, as they call it, as to follow the ways of God;
if they can do no more, yet they will whet their tongues like a sword to wound them,
and do them the greatest mischief they can, both in speaking against them to neighbours,
to wives, to husbands, to landlords, and raising false reports of them. But let such
take heed lest they be in such a state, and woeful condition as he was in, who said,
in vexation and anguish of soul, One drop of cold water to cool my tongue.
Thus might I add many things out of the holy Writ, both threatenings and promises,
besides those heavenly counsels, loving reproofs, free invitations to all sorts of
sinners, both old and young, rich and poor, bond and free, wise and unwise. All which
have been, now are, and is to be feared, as long as this world lasts, will be trampled
under the feet of those swine, I call them not men, who will continue in the same.
But take a review of some of them:–
What heavenly counsel is that where Christ saith, 'buy of me gold tried by the fire,
that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that
the shame of thy nakedness do not appear' (Rev 3:18). Also that, 'Ho, every one that
thirsteth, come ye to the waters; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and
without price' (Isa 55:1). 'Hear, and your soul shall live' (v 3). 'Take hold of
my strength, that you may make peace with me, and you shall make peace with me' (Isa
What instruction is here?
'Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth
me,' saith Christ, 'watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord' (Prov 8:33-35).
Take heed that no man deceive you by any means. 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth,
but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life' (John 6:27). 'Strive to enter
in at the strait gate' (Luke 13:24). 'Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be
saved' (Acts 16:31). 'Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits.' 'Quench not
the Spirit.' 'Lay hold on eternal life.' 'Let your light so shine before men, that
they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven' (Matt 5:16).
Take heed, and beware of hypocrisy; 'watch and be sober,' 'learn of me,' saith Christ,
'come unto me.'
What forewarning is here?
'Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke, then a great
ransom cannot deliver thee' (Job 36:18). 'Be ye not mockers, lest your hands be made
strong, for I have heard from the Lord God of hosts, a consumption even determined
upon the whole earth' (Isa 28:22). 'Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you that
is written, Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish. For I work a work in your
days, which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you' (Acts
13:40,41). 'Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall' (1 Cor 10:12).
'Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation' (Matt 26:41). 'Let us therefore
fear lest a promise being' made, and 'left us of entering into his rest, any of you
should seem to come short of it' (Heb 4:1). 'I will therefore put you in remembrance,
though you once knew this, how that the Lord having saved the people out of Egypt,
afterward destroyed them that believed not' (Jude 5). 'Hold that fast which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown' (Rev 3:11).
What comfort is here?
'Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). 'Come unto me, all
ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest' (Matt 11:28). 'Be
of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee' (Matt 9:2). 'I will never leave, nor forsake
thee,' for 'I have loved thee with an
everlasting love' (Jer 31:3). 'I lay down my life for the sheep.' I lay down my life
that they may have life. 'I am come that they might have life, and that they might
have it more abundantly.' 'I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of
salvation have I succoured thee' (2 Cor 6:2). 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they
shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'
'For I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgression, and as a cloud thy sins;
return unto me, for I have redeemed thee' (Isa 44:22).
5. Grief to those that fall short.
O sad grief!
'How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof, and have not obeyed
the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me' (Prov
5:11- 13). They shall 'curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they
shall look unto the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, and
they shall be driven to darkness' (Isa 8:21,22). 'He hath dispersed' abroad, 'he
hath given to the poor, his righteousness endureth for ever. - The wicked shall see
it, and be grieved, he shall gnash his teeth, and melt away; the desire of the wicked
shall perish' (Psa 112:9,10). 'There shall be weeping, - when ye shall see Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves
thrust out' (Luke 13:28). All which things are slighted by the world.
Thus much, in short, touching this, That ungodly men undervalue the Scriptures, and
give no credit to them, when the truth that is contained in them is held forth in
simplicity unto them, but rather cry out, Nay, but if one should rise from the dead
then they think something might be done; when alas, though signs and wonders were
wrought by the hands of those that preach the gospel, these poor creatures would
never the sooner convert, though they suppose they should, as is evident by the carriages
of their forerunners, who albeit the Lord Jesus Christ himself did confirm his doctrine
by miracles, as opening blind eyes, casting out of devils, and raising the dead,
they were so far from receiving either him or his doctrine, that they put him to
death for his pains! Though he had done so many miracles among them, yet they believed
not in him (John 12:37).
But to pass this, I shall lay down some of the grounds of their rejecting and undervaluing
the Scriptures, and so pass on.
1. [Ground.] Because they do not believe that they are the Word of God, but rather
suppose them to be the inventions of men, written by some politicians, on purpose
to make poor ignorant people to submit to some religion and government. Though
they do not say this, yet their practices testify the same; as he that when he hears
the words of the curse, yet blesseth himself in his heart, and saith he shall have
peace, though God saith he shall have none (Deut 29:18-20). And this must needs be,
for did but men believe this, that it is the Word of God, then they must believe
that he that speak it is true, therefore shall every word and tittle be fulfilled.
And if they come once to this, unless they be stark mad, they will have a care how
they do throw themselves under the lash of eternal vengeance. For the reason why
the Thessalonians received the Word, was, because they believed it was the Word of
God, and not the word of man, which did effectually work in them by their thus believing.
'When ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us,' saith he, 'ye received it
not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually
worketh also in you that believe' (1 Thess 2:13). So that did a man but receive it
in hearing, or reading, or meditating, as it is the Word of God, they would be converted.
'But the Word preached did not profit, - not being mixed with faith in them that
heard it' (Heb 4:2).
2. [Ground.] Because they do not indeed see themselves by nature heirs of that exceeding
wrath and vengeance that the Scriptures testify of. For did they but consider what
God intends to do with those that live and die in a natural state, it would either
sink them into despair, or make them fly for refuge to the hope that is set before
them. But if there be never such sins committed, and never so great wrath denounced,
and the time of execution be never so near, yet if the party that is guilty be senseless,
and altogether ignorant thereof, he will be careless, and regards it nothing at all.
And that man, by nature, is in this condition, it is evident. For, take the same
man that is senseless, and ignorant of that misery he is in by nature, I say, take
him at another time when he is a little awakened, and then you shall hear him roar,
and cry out so long as trouble is upon him, and a sense of the wrath of God hanging
over his head, Good sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Though the same man at another time, when his conscience is fallen asleep, and grown
hard, will lie like the smith's dog at the foot of the anvil, though the fire-sparks
fly in his face. But, as I said before, when any one is a little awakened, O what
work will one verse, one line, nay, one word of the holy Scriptures make in his heart.
He cannot eat, sleep, work, keep company with his former companions, and all because
he is afraid that the damnation spoken of in Scripture will fall to his share, like
Balaam, who said, 'I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord' (Num 22:18). So long
as he had something of the word of the Lord with authority, severity, and power on
his heart; but at another time he could teach 'Balak to cast a stumbling- block before
the children of Israel' (Rev 2:14).
3. [Ground.] Because the carnal priests do tickle the ears of their hearers with
vain philosophy and deceit, and thereby harden their hearts against the simplicity
of the gospel and Word of God, which things the apostle admonished those that have
a mind to close in with Christ to avoid, saying, 'Beware lest any man,' be he what
he will, 'spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men,
and rudiments of the world, and not after Christ' (Col 2:8). And you who muzzle up
your people in ignorance with Aristotle, Plato, and the rest of the heathenish philosophers,
and preach little, if anything, of Christ rightly; I say unto you, that you will
find you have sinned against God, and beguiled your hearers, when God shall, in the
judgment-day, lay the cause of the damnation of many thousands of souls to your charge,
and say, He will require their blood at your hands (Eze 33:6).
4. [Ground.] Another reason why the carnal unbelieving world do so slight the Scriptures
and Word of God, is, because the judgment spoken of in the Scripture is not presently
executed on the transgressors. 'Because sentence against an evil work is not executed
speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil'
(Eccl 8:11). Because God doth not presently strike the poor wretch as soon as he
sins, but waits, and forbears, and is patient, therefore the world judging God to
be unfaithful, go to it again and again, and every time grow harder and harder, till
at last God is forced either to stretch out his mighty power to turn them, or else
send death, with the devil and hell, to fetch them. 'Thou thoughtest,' saith God,
'that I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will reprove thee, and set them
in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you
in pieces, and there be none to deliver' (Psa 50:21,22).
5. [Ground.] Another reason why the blind world do slight the authority of Scripture,
is, because they give ear to the devil, who, through his subtilty, casteth false
evasions and corrupt interpretations on them, rendering them not so point blank the
mind of God, and a rule for direction to poor souls, persuading them that they must
give ear and way to something else besides, and beyond that; or else he labours to
render it vile and contemptible, by persuading them that it is a dead letter, when
indeed they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For the Scripture is
not so dead but that the knowledge of it is able to make any man wise unto salvation,
through faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 3:15); and is profitable
for instruction, reproof, and correction in righteousness, that the man of God may
be thoroughly furnished to all good works (v 17).
And where it is said the letter killeth, he meaneth the law, as it is the ministration
of damnation, or a covenant of works, and so indeed it doth kill, and must do so,
because it is just, forasmuch as the party that is under the same is not able to
yield to it a complete and continual obedience. But yet I will call Peter and Paul
to witness that the Scriptures are of a very glorious concernment, inasmuch as in
them is held forth to us the way of life; and also in that they do administer good
ground of hope to us. 'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written
for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have
hope' (Rom 15:4). And again, 'Now to him that is of power to stablish you according
to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the
mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and
by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting
God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith' (Rom 16:25,26). And therefore
whosoever they be that slight the Scriptures, they slight that which is no less than
the Word of God; and they who slight that, slight him that spake it; and they that
do so, let them look to themselves, for God will be revenged on such. Much more might
be said to this thing, but I would not be tedious.
A word or two more, so I have done with this. Consider the
danger of slighting the words of the prophets or apostles, whether they be correction,
reproof, admonition, forewarning, or the blessed invitations and promises contained
1. [Consider] Such souls do provoke God to anger, and to execute his vengeance on
them. 'They refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears,
that they should not hear' the law, and 'they made their hearts as an adamant stone,
lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of Hosts hath sent in
his Spirit by the former prophets; therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of
Hosts' (Zech 7:11,12).
2. [Consider] God will not regard in their calamity. 'Because I have called, and
ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at
nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof. I also will laugh at your calamity,
I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your
destruction cometh as a whirlwind. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer;
they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me' (Prov 1:24-28).
3. [Consider] God doth commonly give up such men to delusions, to believe lies. 'Because
they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved,' therefore 'God
shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might
be damned' (2 Thess 2:10-12).
4. [Consider] In a word, they that do continue to reject and slight the Word of God,
they are such, for the most part, as are ordained to be damned. Old Eli, his sons
not hearkening to the voice of their father reproving them for their sins, but disobeying
his voice, it is said, It was 'because the Lord would slay them' (1 Sam 2:25). Again
see in 2 Chronicles 25:15, 16. Amaziah having sinned against the Lord, he sends to
him a prophet to reprove him; but Amaziah says, 'Forbear, why shouldest thou be smitten?'
He did not hearken to the word of God, 'Then the prophet forbare, saying, I know
that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast - not hearkened unto
my counsel.' Read, therefore, and the Lord give thee understanding. For a miserable
end will those have that go on sinning against God, rejecting his Word.
Other things might have been observed from this verse, which at this time I shall
pass by; partly because the sum of them hath been touched already, and may be more
clearly hinted at in the following verse; and therefore I shall speak a few words
to the next verse, and so draw towards a conclusion.
Verse 31.– 'And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither
will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.'
'And he said'; that is, and God made answer to the words spoken in the verse before,
'And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses,' &c. As if he had said, Moses
was a man of great renown, a man of worthy note, a man that talked with God face
to face, as a man speaketh to his friend. The words that Moses spake were such as
I commanded him to speak. Let who will question them, I will own them, credit them,
bless them that close in with them, and curse those that reject them.
I myself sent the prophets, they did not run of their own heads, I gave them commission,
I thrust them out, and told them what they should say. In a word, they have told
the world what my mind is to do, both to sinners and to saints; 'They have Moses
and the prophets, let them hear them.' Therefore he that shall reject and turn his
back either upon the threatenings, counsels, admonitions, invitations, promises,
or whatsoever else I have commanded them to speak as to salvation and life, and to
directions therein, shall be sure to have a share in the many curses that they have
spoken, and the destruction that is pronounced by them. Again, 'If they hear
not Moses and the prophets,' &c. As if he had said, Thou wouldst have me send
one from the dead unto them; what needs that? They have my mind already, I have declared
unto them what I intend to stand to, both for saving them that believe, and damning
them that do not. That therefore which I have said I will make good, whether they
hear or forbear. And as for this desire of yours, you had as good desire me to make
a new Bible, and so to revoke my first sayings by the mouth of my prophets. But I
am God and not man, and my Word is immutable, unchangeable, and shall stand as fast
as my decrees can make it; heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle
of my Word shall not pass (Matt 5:18). If thou hadst ten thousand brethren, and every
one in danger of losing his soul, if they did not close in with what is contained
and recorded in the Scriptures of truth, they must even every one of them perish,
and be for ever damned in hell, for the Scriptures cannot be broken. I did not send
them so unadvisedly to recall it again by another consideration. No, for I speak
in righteousness and in judgment (Isa 63:1-3), and in much wisdom and counsel. It
being therefore gone out of my mouth in this manner, it shall not return in vain,
until it hath accomplished the thing whereto I have sent it (Isa 55:11).
But again, thou supposest that miracles and wonders will work more on them, which
makes thee say, Send one from the dead. But herein thou art mistaken, for I have
proved them with that once and again, by more than one, or two, or three of my servants.
How many miracles did my servant Moses work by commandment from me in the land of
Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness! Yet they of that generation were never
the sooner converted for that; but, notwithstanding, rebelled and lusted, and in
their hearts turned back into Egypt (Acts 7). How many miracles did Samuel, David,
Elias, Elisha, Daniel, and the prophets, together with my Son, who raised the dead,
cast out devils, made them to see that were born blind, gave and restored limbs!
Yet for all this, as I said before, they hated him, they crucified him. I raised
him again from the dead, and he appeared to his disciples, who were called, and chosen,
and faithful, and he gave them commandment and commission to go and testify the truth
of this to the world; and to confirm the same he enabled them to speak with divers
tongues, and to work miracles most plentifully, yet there was great persecution raised
against them, insomuch that but a few of them died in their beds. And, therefore,
though thou thinkest that a miracle will do so much with the world, yet I say no.
For if they will not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded
though one should rise from the dead.
From these words, therefore, take notice of this truth, namely, that those who reject
and believe not Moses and the prophets are a very hard-hearted people, that will
not be persuaded though one rise from the dead. They that regard not the holy Scriptures
to turn to God, finding them to testify of his goodness and mercy, there is but little
hopes of their salvation; for they will not, mark, they will not be persuaded though
one should rise from the dead. This truth is confirmed by Jesus Christ himself. If
you read John 5, where the Lord is speaking of himself that he is the very Christ,
he brings in four or five witnesses to back what he said. 1. John Baptist. 2. The
works that his Father gave him to do. 3. His Father speaking from heaven. 4. The
testimony of the Scriptures. When all this was done, seeing yet they would not believe,
he lays the fault upon one of these two things:–(1.) Their regarding an esteem among
men. (2.) Their not believing of the prophets' writings, even Moses and the rest.
'For had ye believed Moses,' saith he, 'ye would have believed me; for he wrote of
me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?'
Now, I say, he that shall slight the Scriptures, and the testimony of the prophets
in them concerning Jesus Christ, must needs be in great danger of losing his soul,
if he abide in this condition; because he that slights the testimony doth also slight
the thing testified of, let him say the contrary never so often. For as Jesus Christ
hath here laid down the reason of men's not receiving him, so the apostle in another
place lays down the reason again with a high and mighty aggravation (1 John 5:10),
saying, 'He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that
believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record,' mark,
'the record that God gave of his Son.' The record, you will say, what is that? Why
even the testimony that God gave of him by the mouth of all the holy prophets since
the world began (Acts 3:18-20). That is, God sending his holy Spirit into the hearts
of his servants, the prophets and apostles, he, by his Spirit in them, did bear witness
or record of the truth of salvation by his Son Jesus, both before and after his coming.
And thus is that place also to be understood which saith, 'There are three that bear
witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood.' That is, the Spirit
in the apostles which preached him to the world, as is clear if you read seriously
1 Thessalonians 4:8. The apostle, speaking of Jesus Christ and obedience to God through
him, saith thus, Now 'he that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God.' But it is you
that speak; true, but it is by and through the Spirit, 'He therefore that despiseth,
despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.' This is
therefore a mighty confirmation of this truth, that he that slights the record or
testimony that God, by his Spirit in his prophets and apostles, hath testified unto
us, slights the testimony of the Spirit who moved them to speak these things; and
if so, then I would fain know how any man can be saved by Jesus Christ that slights
the testimony concerning Christ, yea, the testimony of his own Spirit concerning
his own self? It is true men may pretend to have the testimony of the Spirit, and
from that conceit set a low esteem on the holy Scriptures; but that spirit that dwelleth
in them and teacheth them so to do, it is no better than the spirit of Satan, though
it calls itself by the name of the Spirit of Christ. 'To the law,' therefore, 'and
to the testimony,' try them by that; 'if they speak not according to this word, it
is because there is no light in them.'
The apostle Peter, when he speaks of the glorious voice that he had from the excellent
majesty, saying of Christ, 'This is my beloved Son, hear him,' saith thus to them
whom he wrote unto, 'You have also a more sure word of prophecy,' or of the prophets,
for so you may read it, 'unto which ye do well that ye take heed.' That is, though
we tell you that we had this excellent testimony from his own mouth evidently, yet
you have the prophets. We tell you this, and you need not doubt of the truth of it;
but if you should, yet you may not, must not, ought not to question them. Search
therefore into them, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. That
is until by the same Spirit that gave forth the Scripture you find the truth confirmed
to your souls, which you have recorded in the Scriptures– that this word of prophecy,
or of the prophets, is the Scriptures. Read on; for, saith he, 'knowing this first,
that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,' &c. (2 Peter
[Object.] But, you will say, What needs all this ado, and why is all this time and
pains spent in speaking to this that is surely believed already? This is a thing
received by all, that they believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, that sure
word of prophecy; and therefore you need not spend your time in proving these things,
and the truth of them, seeing we grant and confess the truth of it before you being
to speak your judgment of them.
Answ. The truths of God cannot be borne witness unto too often; you may as well say,
1. You need not preach Jesus Christ so much, seeing he hath been, and is received
for the true Messias already. 2. Though many may suppose that they do believe the
Scriptures, yet if they were but well examined, you will find them either by word
of mouth, or else by conversation, to deny, reject, and slight the holy Scriptures.
It is true, there is a notional and historical assent in the head. I say, in the
head of many, or most, to the truth contained in Scripture. But try them, I say,
and you shall find but a little, if any, of the faith of the operation of God in
the hearts of poor men, to believe the Scriptures, and things contained in them.
Many, yea, most men believe the Scriptures as they believe a fable, a story, a tale,
of which there is no certainty! But alas! there are but few do in deed and in truth
believe the Scriptures to be the very Word of God.
Object. But you will say, This seems strange to me.
Answ. And it seems as true to me, and I doubt not but to make it manifest, that there
are but few, yea, very few, that do effectually, for that I aim at, believe the Scriptures
and the truths contained in and spoken of by them.
But to make this appear, and that to purpose, if God will, I shall lay you down the
several operations that the Scriptures have on them who do effectually believe the
things contained in them.
First. He that doth effectually believe the Scriptures, hath in the first place been
killed, I say killed by the authority of the holy Scriptures; struck stark dead in
a spiritual sense, by the holy Scriptures, being set home by that Spirit, which gave
them forth, upon the soul. 'The letter killeth'; the letter strikes men dead (2 Cor
3:6). And this Paul witnessed and found, before he could say, I believe all that
the prophets have spoken. Where he saith, 'I was alive without the law once.' That
is, in my natural state, before the law was set on my heart with power; 'But when
the commandment came, sin revived and I died' (Rom 7:9). 'And that law which was
ordained to life, I found to be unto death; for sin, taking occasion by the commandment,
deceived me, and by it slew me' (v 11). Now that which is called 'the letter' in
2 Corinthians, is called the law in Romans 7, which by its power and operation, as
it is wielded by the Spirit of God, doth in the first place kill and slay all those
that are enabled to believe the Scriptures. I kill, saith God: that is, with my law
I pierce, I wound, I prick men into the very heart, by showing them their sins against
my law (Deut 31:26; Acts 2:37). And he that is ignorant of this, is also ignorant
of, and doth not really and effectually believe the Scripture.
But you will say, How doth the law kill and strike dead the poor creatures?
Answ. The letter or law doth kill thus. It is set home upon the soul, and discovers
to the soul its transgressions against the law, and shows the soul also, that it
cannot completely satisfy the justice of God, for the breach of his law, therefore
it is condemned (John 3:18). Mark, 'He that believeth not, is condemned already.'
To wit, by the law, that is, the law doth condemn him; yea, it hath condemned him
already for his sins against it; as it is written, 'Cursed is every one that continueth
not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3:10).
Now all men as they come into the world are in this condition, that is, condemned
by the law. Yet not believing their condemnation by the law really, they do not also
believe really and effectually the law that doth condemn them. For as men have but
a notion of the one, that is, their condemnation, because of sins against the law:
so they have but a notion of the condemning, killing, and destroying power of the
law. For, as the one is, so in these things always is the other. There is no man
that doth really believe the law or gospel, further than they do feel the power and
authority of them in their hearts. 'Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the
power of God.' Now this letter or law, is not to be taken in the largest sense, but
is strictly to be tied to the ten commandments, whose proper work is only by showing
the soul its sin against this law, to kill, and there leaves him stark dead, not
giving him the least life, or support, or comfort, but leaves the soul in a helpless
and hopeless condition, as from itself, or any other mere creature.
It is true the law hath laid all men for dead, as they come into the world; but all
men do not see themselves dead, until they see that law that struck them dead, striking
in their souls, and having struck them that fatal blow. As a man that is fast asleep
in a house, and that on fire about his ears, and he not knowing of it because he
is asleep; even so, because poor souls are asleep in sin, though the wrath of God,
the curse of his law, and the flames of hell have beset them round about, yet they
do not believe it, because they are asleep in sin. Now, as he that is awakened and
sees this, sees that through this he is a dead man; even so they that do see their
state by nature, being such a sad condition, do also see themselves by that law to
be dead men naturally.
But now, when didst thou feel the power of this first part of the Scripture, the
law, so mighty as to strike thee dead? If not, thou dost not so much as verily believe
that part of the Scripture that doth contain the law in it, to be the truth of God.
Yet if thou shouldest have felt something, I say, something of the killing power
of the law of God in thine heart, this is not an argument to prove that thou believest
all the things contained in Scripture, for there is gospel as well as law, and therefore
I shall speak to that also, that is, whether thou hast felt the power of the gospel,
as well as something of the power of the law.
Second. Then thou hast found the power of the gospel, and so believed it, thou hast
found it thus with thy soul.
1. Thou hast been showed by the Word or truth of the gospel, in the light of the
Spirit of Christ, that by nature thou wert without the true faith of the Son of God
in thy soul. For when He, the Spirit, is come, he shall show men that 'they believe
not in me,' saith Christ (John 16:9). Mark, though thou hast, as I said before, felt
somewhat of the power of the law, letter, or ten commandments, yet, as thou hast
not been brought to this, to see by the Spirit in the gospel, that thou art without
faith by nature, thou hast not yet tasted, much less believed, any part of the gospel.
For the gospel and the law are two distinct covenants. And they that are under the
law or first covenant, and yet in the meantime to be a stranger to the covenant of
promise, that is, the gospel, and so have no hope in them (Eph 2:12). There is not
any promise that can be savingly believed, until the soul be by the gospel converted
to Jesus Christ. For though men do think never so much that they believe the things
or the Word of the gospel of our salvation; yet unless they have the work of grace
in their souls, they do not, cannot rightly believe the things contained in the Scriptures.
2. As the law killeth those that believe it, even so the promises contained in the
gospel do, through faith, administer comfort to those that believe it aright. My
words, saith Christ, My words, 'they are Spirit, and they are life' (John 6:63).
As if he had said, the words contained in the law as a covenant of works, they wound,
they kill, they strike dead those that are under them. But as for me, 'The words
that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' That is, whosoever doth
receive them believingly, shall find them full of operation, to comfort, quicken,
and revive their soul. For as I did not come into the world to destroy men's lives,
so the words that I speak, as I am sent to preach the gospel, they have no such tendency
unto those that believe them. The promises that are in the gospel, O how do they
comfort them! Such a promise, and such a promise, O how sweet is it! How comfortable
to those that believe them! Alas! there are many poor souls that think they believe
the Scriptures to be the Word of God, and yet they never enjoyed anything of the
life and promises; they come in upon the heart to quicken, to revive thee, to raise
thee from the sentence of death that is passed on thee by the law. And through the
faith that is wrought in thy soul, by the operation of God's Holy Spirit, though
once killed by the law or letter, thou art made alive in the Lord Jesus Christ, who
is presented to thy soul in the promises.
Third. Dost thou in deed and in truth believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God?
Then the things contained in them, especially the things of the gospel, are very
excellent to thy soul; as the birth of Christ, the death, resurrection, intercession,
and second coming. O how precious and excellent are they to thy soul! insomuch that
thou regardest nothing in comparison of them! O! it is Christ's birth, death, blood,
resurrection, &c., according to the Scriptures, that thou dost rejoice in exceedingly,
and abundantly desire after! 'Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom thou now ye
see him not, yet believing ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory' (1
Cor 15:1-6, compared with Phil 3:6-8; 1 Peter 1:8).
Fourth. Dost thou believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God? Then thou standest
in awe of, and dost much reverence them. Why, they are the Word of God, the true
sayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are his promises and his threatenings.
Poor souls are apt to think, if I could hear God speak to me from heaven with an
audible voice, then sure I should be serious and believe it. But truly, if God should
speak to thee from heaven, except thou wert converted, thou wouldst not regard, nor
really believe him. But if thou dost believe the Scriptures, thou seest that they
are the truth as really as if God should speak to thee from heaven through the clouds,
and therefore never flatter thyself, foolishly thinking, that if it were so and so,
then thou couldst believe. I tell thee, saith Christ, If they believe 'not Moses
and the prophets, neither will they believe though one should rise from the dead.'
Fifth. Dost thou believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God? Then, through faith
in Christ, thou endeavourest to have thy life squared according to the Scriptures,
both in word and practice. Nay, this I say, thou mayest have though thou do not believe
them all. My meaning is, that if thou believe none but the ten commandments, thy
life may be, according to them, a legal holy life; and if thou do believe the gospel
too, then thy life will be the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, either thou
wilt live in the blessed and holy enjoyment of what is testified in the Scripture
concerning the glorious things of the Lord Jesus Christ, or else thou wilt be exceedingly
panting after them. For the Scriptures carry such a blessed beauty in them to that
soul that hath faith in the things contained in them, that they do take the heart
and captivate the soul of him that believeth them into the love and liking of them,
believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets, and have hope
towards God that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and
unjust. 'And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence
toward God and toward men' (Acts 24:14-16).
Sixth. He that believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God, if he do but suppose
that any one place of Scripture doth exclude him, and shut him out of, and from a
share in the promises contained in them, O it will trouble him, grieve him, perplex
him. Yea, he will not be satisfied until he be resolved, and the contrary sealed
to his soul; for he knows that the Scriptures are the word of God, all truth; and
therefore he knows that if any one sentence doth exclude or bar him out for want
of this or the other qualification, he knows also that not the word alone shuts him
out, but he that speaks it, even God himself. And, therefore, he cannot, will not,
dare not be contented until he find his soul and Scripture together, with the things
contained therein, to embrace each other, and a sweet correspondency and agreement
between them. For you must know that to him that believes the Scriptures aright,
the promises, or threatenings, are of more power to comfort or cast down, than all
the promises or threatenings of all the men in the world. And this was the cause
why the martyrs of Jesus did so slight both the promises of their adversaries, when
they would have overcome them, with proffering the great things of this world unto
them, and also their threatenings, when they told them they would rack them, hang
them, burn them (Acts 20:24). None of these things could prevail upon them, or against
them; because they did most really believe the Scriptures, and the things contained
in them, as is clearly found, and to be seen in Hebrews 11, and also in Mr. Fox's
records of their brethren.
Seventh. He that believeth the Scriptures to be the Word of God, believeth that men
must be born again, and also be partakers of that faith which is of the operation
of God, according as he hath read and believed, or else he must and shall be damned.
And he that believeth this aright will not be contented until, according as it is
written, he do partake of and enjoy the new birth, and until he do find, through
grace, that faith that is wrought by the operation of God in his soul. For this is
the cause why men do satisfy themselves with so slender a conceited hope that their
state is good, when it is nothing so, namely, because they do not credit the Scripture;
for did they, they would look into their own hearts, and examine seriously whether
that faith, that hope, that grace which they think they have be of that nature, and
wrought by that spirit and power that the Scripture speaketh of. I speak this of
an effectual believing, without which all other is nothing unto salvation.
[FIVE USES BY WAY OF SELF-EXAMINATION.]
Now then, because I would not be too tedious, I shall at this time lay down no more
discoveries of such an one as doth savingly believe the Scriptures, and the things
contained in them, but shall speak a few words of examination concerning the things
already mentioned. As,
First USE. Thou sayest thou dost in deed and in truth effectually believe the Scriptures:
I ask, therefore, wast thou ever killed stark dead by the law of works contained
in the Scriptures–killed by the law or letter, and made to see thy sins against it,
and left in a helpless condition by that law? For, as I said, the proper work of
the law is to slay the soul, and to leave it dead in a helpless state. For it doth
neither give the soul any comfort itself when it comes, nor doth it show the soul
where comfort is to be had; and therefore it is called 'the ministration of condemnation,'
as in 2 Corinthians 3:9, 'the ministration of death,' verse 7. For though men may
have a notion of the blessed Word of God, as the children had, yet before they be
converted it may truly be said of them, Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the
power of God (Mark 12:24).
Second USE. You say you do believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God. I say again,
Examine, wast thou ever quickened from a dead state by the power of the Spirit of
Christ, through the other part of the Scripture; that is to say, by the power of
God in his Son Jesus Christ, through the covenant of promise? I tell thee from the
Lord, if thou hast, thou hast felt such a quickening power in the words of Christ
(John 6) that thou hast been lifted out of that dead condition that thou before wast
in. And that when thou wast under the guilt of sin, the curse of the law, and the
power of the devil, and the justice of the great God, thou hast been enabled, by
the power of God in Christ, revealed to thee by the Spirit through and by the Scripture,
to look sin, death, hell, the devil, and the law, and all things that are at enmity
with thee, with boldness and comfort in the face, through the blood, death, righteousness,
resurrection, and intercession of Christ, made mention of in the Scriptures. And,
Third USE. On this account, O how excellent are the Scriptures to thy soul! O how
much virtue dost thou see in such a promise, in such an invitation! They are so large
as to say, Christ will in no wise cast me out! My crimson sins shall be white as
snow! I tell thee, friend, there are some promises that the Lord hath helped me to
lay hold of Jesus Christ through and by, that I would not have out of the Bible for
as much gold and silver as can lie between York and London piled up to the stars;
because through them Christ is pleased by his Spirit to convey comfort to my soul.
I say, when the law curses, when the devil tempts, when hell-fire flames in my conscience,
my sins with the guilt of them tearing of me, then is Christ revealed so sweetly
to my poor soul through the promises that all is forced to fly and leave off to accuse
my soul. So also, when the world frowns, when the enemies rage and threaten to kill
me, then also the precious, the exceeding great and precious promises do weigh down
all, and comfort the soul against all. This is the effect of believing the Scriptures
savingly; for they that do so have by and through the Scriptures good comfort, and
also ground of hope, believing those things to be its own which the Scriptures hold
forth (Rom 15:4).
Fourth USE. Examine, Dost thou stand in awe of sinning against God, because he hath
in the Scriptures commanded thee to abstain from it? Dost thou give diligence to
make thy calling and election sure, because God commanded it in Scripture? Dost thou
examine thyself whether thou be in the faith or no, having a command in Scripture
so to do? Or dost thou, notwithstanding what thou readest in the Scripture, follow
the world, delight in sin, neglect coming to Jesus Christ, speak evil of the saints,
slight and make a mock at the ordinance of God, delight in wicked company, and the
like? Then know that it is because thou dost not in deed and in truth believe the
Scriptures effectually. For, as I said before, if a man do believe them, and that
savingly, then he stands in awe, he looks to his steps, he turns his feet from evil,
and endeavours to follow that which is good, which God hath commanded in the Scriptures
of truth; yet not from a legal or natural principle; that is, to seek for life by
doing that good thing, but knowing that salvation is already obtained for him by
the blood of that man Christ Jesus on the cross because he believes the Scriptures,
therefore, mark I pray, therefore, I say, he labours to walk with his God in all
well-pleasing and godliness, because the sweet power of the loves of Christ, which
he feels in his soul by the Spirit, according to the Scriptures, constrain him so
to do (2 Cor 5:14).
Fifth USE. Examine again, Dost thou labour after those qualifications that the Scriptures
do describe a child of God by? That is, faith, yea the right faith, the most holy
faith, the faith of the operation of God. And also, dost thou examine whether there
is a real growth of grace in thy soul, as love, zeal, self-denial, and a seeking
by all means to attain, if possible, to the resurrection of the dead? That is, not
to satisfy thyself until thou be dissolved and rid of this body of death, and be
transformed into that glory that the saints shall be in after the resurrection-day.
And in the meantime dost labour and take all opportunities to walk as near as may
be to the pitch, though thou know thou canst not attain it perfectly. Yet, I say,
thou dost aim at it, seek after it, press towards it, and to hold on in thy race;
thou shunnest that which may any way hinder thee, and also closest in with what may
any way further the same; knowing that that must be, or desiring that it should be,
thine eternal frame, and therefore out of love and liking to it thou dost desire
and long after it, as being the thing that doth most please thy soul.
Or how is it with thy soul? Art thou such an one as regards not these things, but
rather busy thy thoughts about the things here below, following those things that
have no scent of divine glory upon them? If so, look to thyself, thou art an unbeliever,
and so under the wrath of God, and wilt for certain fall into the same place of torment
that thy fellows have fallen into before thee, to the grief of thy own soul, and
thy everlasting destruction.
Consider and regard these things, and lay them to thy heart before it be too late
to recover thyself, by repenting of the one, and desiring to close in with the other.
O! I say, regard, regard, for hell is hot. God's hand is up, the law is resolved
to discharge against thy soul! The judgment-day is at hand, the graves are ready
to fly open, the trumpet is near the sounding, the sentence will ere long be passed,
and then you and I cannot call time again.
[USE AND APPLICATION.]
But again, seeing they are so certain, so sure, so irrevocable and firm, and
seeing the saving faith of the things contained therein, is to reform the soul, and
bring it over into the things of God, really conforming to the things contained therein,
both to the point of justification, and also an impartial walking, and giving up
thy soul and body to a conformity to all the commands, counsels, instructions, and
exhortations contained therein; this then will learn us how to judge of those who
give up themselves to walk in the imaginations of their own hearts, who slight and
lay aside the Scriptures, counting them but empty and uncertain things, and will
live every day in open contradiction to what is contained, commanded, and forbidden
FIRST. This will show us that all your drunkards, whoremasters, liars, thieves, swearers,
backbiters, slanderers, scoffers at goodness, &c. I say, we may see by this that
they that live in such things, have not the faith of these things contained in their
hearts, seeing they delight to practise those things that are forbidden by and in
them. And so, they continuing living and dying in this state, we may conclude without
fear that these portions of holy Scripture belong unto them, and shall for certain
be fulfilled upon them: 'He that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16:16). 'The
unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor 6:9,10). 'But the abominable,
the unbelieving, the whoremongers, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake
which burneth with fire and brimstone' (Rev 21:8). 'Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). Depart, depart from me,
for I will not save you. Depart, for my blood shall not at all wash you. Depart,
for you shall not set one foot into the kingdom of heaven.
'Depart, ye cursed,' ye are cursed of God, cursed of his law, cursed of me, cursed
by the saints, and cursed by the angels; cursed all over, nothing but cursed, and
therefore depart from me; and whither? into everlasting fire–fire that will scald,
scorch, burn, and flame to purpose. 'Fire that shall never be quenched' (Mark 9).
Fire that will last to all eternity. And must we be all alone? No, you shall have
company, store of company with you. Namely, all the raging, roaring devils, together
with an innumerable company of fellow-damned sinners, men, women, and children. And
if the Scriptures be true, as they will one day wonderfully appear to be, then this
must and shall be thy portion, if thou live and die in this state; and of all them
who continue in sinning against the truth contained in the Scriptures. As,
First. Dost thou delight to sin against plain commands? THOU ART GONE.
Second. Dost thou slight and scorn the counsels contained in the Scriptures, and
continue in so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE.
Third. Dost thou continually neglect to come to Christ, and usest arguments in thine
own heart to satisfy thy soul with so doing? THEN THOU ART GONE. (Luke 14:17,18,
compared with v 24, and Heb 2:3). 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?'
How shall we escape, that is, there is no way to escape.
(1.) Because God hath said we shall not (Heb 12:25). 'See that ye refuse not him
that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,' that
was Moses, 'much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh
(2.) Because he hath not only said they shall not, but also hath bound it with an
oath, saying, 'So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest' (Heb 3:11).
To whom did he swear that they should not enter into his rest? Answer, 'to them that
believed not.' So we see, that they could not enter in because of unbelief (vv 18,19).
SECOND. This will teach us what to think and conclude of such, who, though they do
not so openly discover their folly by open and gross sins against the law, yet will
give more heed to their own spirits, and the movings thereof, though they be neither
commanded nor commended for the same in Scripture; nay, though the Scripture command
and commend the contrary, than they will to the holy and revealed will of God (Isa
8:20). I say, such men are in as bad a state as the other to the full, being disobedient
to God's will revealed in his Word, as well as they, though in a different manner;
the one openly transgressing against the plain and well-known truths revealed in
it; the other, though more close and hidden, yet secretly rejecting and slighting
them, giving more heed to their own spirits, and the motions thereof, although not
warranted by the Scriptures.
A few words more, and so I shall conclude. And,
First. Take heed that you content not yourself with a bare notion of the Scriptures
in your heads, by which you may go far, even so far as to be able to dispute for
the truth, to preach the gospel, and labour to vindicate it in opposition to gainsayers,
and yet be found at the left hand of Christ at the judgment-day, forasmuch as thou
didst content thyself with a notion or traditional knowledge of them.
Second. Have a care that thou own the whole Scripture, and not own one part and neglect
another, or slight it; as thus: To own the law, and slight the gospel; or to think
that thou must be saved by thy good doings and works; for that is all one, as if
thou didst thrust Christ away from thee; or else so to own the gospel, as if by it
thou wert exempted from all obedience to the ten commandments, and conformity to
the law in life and conversation; for in so doing thou wilt for certain make sure
of eternal vengeance.
Third. Have a care that thou put not wrong names on the things contained in the Scriptures,
as to call the law, Christ, and Christ, the law, for some having done so, in my knowledge,
have so darkened to themselves the glorious truths of the gospel, that in a very
little time they have been resolved to thwart and oppose them, and so have made room
in their own souls for the devil to inhabit, and obtained a place in hell for their
own souls to be tormented for ever and ever.
Against this danger therefore in reading and receiving the testimony of Scripture,
learn to distinguish between the law and the gospel, and to keep them clear asunder,
as to the salvation of thy soul.
1. And that thou mayest so do, in the first place beg of God that he would show thee
the nature of the gospel, and set it home effectually with life and power upon thy
soul by faith. Which is this, that God would show thee, that as thou being man hast
sinned against God, so Christ, being God- man, hath bought thee again, and with his
most precious blood set thee free from the bondage thou hast fallen into by thy sins.
And that not upon condition that thou wilt do thus and thus, this and the other good
work; but rather, that thou, being first justified freely by mere grace through the
blood of Jesus, shouldst also receive thy strength from him who hath bought thee,
to walk before him in all well- pleasing. Being enabled thereto by virtue of his
Spirit, which hath revealed to thy soul that thou art delivered already from wrath
to come, by the obedience, not of thee, but of another man, viz., Jesus Christ.
2. Then if the law thou readest of, tell thee in thy conscience thou must do this
and the other good work of the law, if ever thou wilt be saved; answer plainly, that
for thy part thou art resolved now not to work for life, but to believe in the virtue
of that blood shed upon the cross, upon Mount Calvary, for the remission of sins.
And yet because Christ hath justified thee freely by his grace, thou wilt serve him
in holiness and righteousness all the days of thy life, yet not in a legal spirit,
or in a covenant of works; but mine obedience, say thou, I will endeavour to have
it free, and cheerful, out of love to my Lord Jesus.
3. Have a care thou receive not this doctrine in the notion only, lest thou bring
a just damnation upon thy soul, by professing thyself to be freed by Christ's blood
from the guilt of sin, while thou remainest still a servant to the filth of sin.
For I must tell you, that unless you have the true and saving work of the faith and
grace of the gospel in your hearts, you will either go on in a legal holiness, according
to the tenor of the law; or else through a notion of the gospel, the devil bewitching
and beguiling thy understanding, will, and affections, thou wilt, Ranter-like, turn
the grace of God into wantonness, and bring upon thy soul double, if not treble damnation,
in that thou couldest not be contented to be damned for thy sins against the law,
but also to make ruin sure to thy soul, thou wouldst dishonour the gospel, and turn
the grace of God, held forth and discovered to men by that, into licentiousness.
But that thou mightest be sure to escape these dangerous rocks on the right hand
and on the left, see that thy faith be such as is spoken of in Scripture. And that
thou be not satisfied without that, which is a faith wrought by the mighty operation
of God, revealing Christ to and in thee, as having wholly freed thee from thy sins
by his most precious blood. Which faith, if thou attain unto, will so work in thy
heart, that first thou wilt see the nature of the law, and [secondly] also the nature
of the gospel, and delight in the glory of it; and also thou wilt find an engaging
of thy heart and soul to Jesus Christ, even to the giving up of thy whole man unto
him, to be ruled and governed by him to his glory, and thy comfort, by the faith
of the same Lord Jesus.
 There were nine editions of this book published during the Author's life; all
those subsequent to the first have the following title:– 'Sighs from Hell, or the
Groans of a Damned Soul; discovering from the 16th of Luke the lamentable state of
the damned: and may fitly serve as a warning word to sinners, both old and young,
by faith in Jesus Christ, to avoid the same place of torment. With a discovery of
the usefulness of the Scriptures as our safe- conduct for avoiding the torments of
hell. By John Bunyan. London: Printed for F. Smith, at the Elephant and Castle, without
Temple-bar. At 1s bound.'
 In the 'errata' to the first edition, Bunyan says– 'At the first I thought to
put out with this a discourage of the two covenants, which since I thought to put
forth in a piece by itself.' This shows that his great work on the covenants was
the fourth volume which he wrote. In the second edition, the author altered the arrangement
of the text, by placing in his comment on verse 28 a considerable part of what in
the first edition formed the 'use and application.'
 In the second and subsequent editions, this was altered to 'I am thine to serve
in the Lord Jesus.'–Ed.
 'Sad' frequently occurs in this treatise; it is from the Saxon, saetan–set, fixed,
gloomy, grievous, mournful.– Ed.
 The first and second editions have 'the saints,' instead of 'such are saints.'–Ed.
 In quoting these passages, Mr. Bunyan has mixed the Puritan version with that
now authorized; very probably, quoting from memory. His text is from the present
version; the reader will see, by comparison, the different words employed in the
 Solemn truth! The heir of heaven and immortality has to trudge the street in
the foulest weather, while the sinner's lap-dog is held up to the carriage window,
taken out for an airing.–Ed.
 Reader, this feeling yet remains. Christians have recently, even in Scotland,
had to meet in barns, or in the open air, for worship, because no landowner would
sell or let a piece of ground on which to build a place of worship.–Ed.
 Cannot down; will not receive, submit to, or feel pleasure in. 'If a boy is hungry,
bread by itself will down.'–Locke on Education. 'Down and beg mercy of the Duke.'–Shakespeare.–Ed.
 Alluding to the awful sufferings of Leighton, and all Christians of his time,
under that bigoted demon in human shape, Laud.–Ed.
 It is a very ancient and prevailing opinion, that man is always attended by
invisible spirits, whose powers or mode of intercourse with our spirits is unknown.
These attendants are most active at the hour of death. They cannot be seen unless
the eyes are made to possess new or miraculous powers. It may be that, when dying,
the spirit, before it entirely quits its mortal habitation, has a glimpse of spiritual
existences. If so, how awful for the sinner to see the infernal demons ready to drag
away his soul; but most joyful for the Christian to embrace his celestial guides.
This is illustrated in the Pilgrim's Progress, during Christian's conflict at the
hour of death.–Vol. 3, p. 163.–Ed.
 Guard, convoy, or escort. See Pilgrim's Progress, the entrance into the celestial
 This proverb was very probably founded upon Jeremiah 50:11: 'Ye are grown fat
as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls.'–Ed.
 Bunyan is here expressing what he had most acutely felt. 'I blessed the condition
of the dog and toad, because they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weight
of hell. I was broken to pieces,' until he found refuge in Jesus. See Grace Abounding,
 The first edition has, 'and the practice of the saints.' This was left out in
all the subsequent editions.–Ed.
 Ale bench, in Bunyan's time, was very similar to a taproom; more generally the
place of resort for the idle tipplers, but sometimes of refreshment to the weary
 Formerly designated not only a courageous man, but his counterpart, a braggart,
a bully, or a dandy. In these latter senses it is obsolete.–Ed.
 These feelings appear in awful reality in Grace Abounding, Nos. 87 and 104.–Ed.
 How awfully general is this wretched delusion. The chattering of monkeys or
parrots is more acceptable than to mock God with a solemn sound upon a thoughtless
tongue. Jews gabble Hebrew, and Papists Latin, and, alas! others who NEVER prayed,
have been from childhood in the habit of repeating or reading a form of words, called,
with devilish subtlety, 'saying prayers.'–Ed.
 The intelligent reader should notice that these terms are not jumbled together.
Their selection and arrangement would confer honour upon the most profound doctor
of philology; while from Bunyan they flowed from native genius, little inferior to
inspiration. To show the enmity of the unconverted to those who bear the image of
Christ, he descends step by step. They first mock, or deride them by mimicry; second,
flout, or treat them with contemptuous sneers, both by words and actions; third,
scoff at them with insolent ridicule, sometimes accompanied by a push or blow; fourth,
taunt, revile, upbraid, bully, and challenge them: all these produce, fifth, hate,
abhorrence, and detestation, leading inevitably to, sixth, persecution–to pursue
with malignity–to afflict, harass, and destroy. Such are the gradations in the opposition
of the carnal mind to the most excellent of the earth; and such the worldly inheritance
of the followers of our once lowly, but now exalted Saviour.–Ed.
 'Troubles,' see Puritan translation.–Ed.
 With what searching truthfulness is the character of Bye-ends drawn in the Pilgrim's
Progress, p. 132: 'looking one way and rowing another.'–Ed.
 This is not intended to convey any reflection upon human learning, but to exhibit
the contemptuous spirit of learned men, so generally manifested to the illiterate,
but really learned followers of the Lamb. They sometimes meet their match, even in
worldly wit. Thus, when three learned gentlemen from Oxford overtook a pious waggoner,
they ironically saluted him as Father Abraham, Father Isaac, and Father Jacob; he
replied, Gentlemen, you are mistaken: I am neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob, but
Saul, the son of Kish, who was sent to find his father's asses, and so I have found
 The word 'clergy' is omitted from all the editions published after Bunyan's
death. These words are calculated to fix upon the mind the necessity of a visitation
from heaven, of personal examination of the Scriptures, and of solemn, earnest, persevering
prayer, without which no clergyman can do a sinner good. But how inexpressibly terrible
will be the misery of carnal clergymen, who, by precept or example, have led their
hearers to a false hope of heaven. How will such souls gnash their teeth in bitter
anguish, and trample their devoted souls to the hottest hell!–Ed.
 Making an entertainment by stealth, privately indulging in wickedness.–Ed.
 Awful responsibility!! A heavy curse on the souls of those who labour to prevent
private judgment, guided simply by the Bible–who lead poor sinners to rely upon
acts of uniformity, liturgies, articles, or creeds, the groveling inventions of men;
instead of relying wholly on the revealed will of God, which alone is able to make
man wise unto salvation.–Ed.
 The word 'not' is omitted from most of the editions published in Bunyan's life.–Ed.
 These times of tyrannizing oppression are fast passing away. It was difficult,
a few years ago, to hire a room in some of the villages even round London, for a
Sunday school and lecture, or to admit a missionary into a workhouse. A poor baby
has been scornfully driven from the font–the dead body of a dissenter has been refused
Christian burial–the cries of poverty and distress have been disregarded–from bitter
sectarianism. The genial influence of Christianity is fast driving these demoniac
feelings to the owls and bats.–Ed.
 Anguish or embarrassment of mind, derived from the name of a most painful disease.–Ed.
 This is one of Bunyan's proverbs, which, however homely, is sure to make a lasting
impression on the mind. Sin breeds the scorpions which will torment the sinner, unless
they tormented the Saviour. O for greater hatred of sin!–Ed.
 From this paragraph to the end of the comment on verse 28, was placed by Bunyan,
in his first edition, as the first part of the general use and application.–Ed.
 A familiar phrase, expressive of embarrassment. 'There is no comfort in the
house upon a washing day.' Suds, in this sentence, would puzzle a foreigner. Johnson's
dictionary interprets it, 'A lixivium of soap and water!'– Ed.
 The word 'simple' is here used as it is by Solomon in the Proverbs–silly, unwise.–Ed
 Men armed with halberts or javelins; now only used at assizes in England, or
by officers attending meetings of magistrates in Scotland.–Ed.
 Modern editors have altered this to, 'did deal with him.'–Ed.
 Altered in the third edition to 'a great exceeding danger.'–Ed.
 Bunyan published this work before the Quakers were formed into a Society. Many
of the wildest enthusiasts called themselves Quakers. Barclay, in his Apology, very
clearly defines what the Society of Friends mean by, 'Christ within, the hope of
glory.' 'It is a spiritual, heavenly, and invisible principle, in which God, as Father,
Son, and Spirit, dwells or reigns.'–Prop. V. and VI.–Ed.
 This quotation, probably made from memory, is from the Genevan or Puritan version
of the Bible.–Ed.
 How favourable an alteration has been produced by permitting the free publication
of the Bible. In Bunyan's time, under the monopoly of church and state, they were
full of typographical errors, and at a high price. When eggs were four-a-penny, one
hundred and sixty must have been paid for an ordinary copy; while now a handsome
one, with gilt edges, may be had for eighteen or twenty. Thanks to those good men
who brought about this wondrous change.–Ed.
 The improvement in the whole class of books used by children, since the Tract
Society commenced its operations, is almost incredible. None but antiquarians have
seen the books which Bunyan names, but they are as inferior to Who killed Cock Robin,
as that is to Dr. Watt's Divine Songs.– Ed.
 Such was the then state of society, fostered by the Book of Sports and Pastimes,
authorized by Charles I. to be used on Sunday, and by Rupert and his cavaliers with
the civil war, notwithstanding the restraints of the Commonwealth. They are very
young, or dim-sighted, or badly read, who do not now see a wonderful improvement
in the state of public morals and religion.–Ed.
 These persecutions are fast disappearing. One of my near relatives was locked
into a first floor parlour in Whitechapel, without hat or shoes, to prevent his going
to hear Mr. Whitefield; but, at the risk of being turned out of doors by his parents,
he escaped out of the window, by clinging to the rain water-pipe, and enjoyed the
public service at the Tabernacle.–Ed.
 For an admirable and deeply impressive account of these distinct books, see
Bunyan on The Resurrection of the Dead.–Ed.
 The idea prevails to a vast extent. The splendour, power, and intolerance of
national hierarchies is mistaken for the humble benignity of the Bible system of
Christianity or personal religion. Antichrist, tricked out in robes and gewgaws,
is, by perverted minds, received as Christ.–Ed.
 This is exemplified in Bunyan's experience, published by him in Grace Abounding.
'That scripture also did tear and rend my soul (Isa 57:22).' Sec. 104. 'That scripture
did seize upon my soul (Heb 12:16,17).' Sec. 141.–Ed.
 This word was, by a typographical error, printed 'doctrine,' in an edition of
1707; this error has been followed in all the after copies.–Ed.
 A very considerable portion of the use and application as found in the first
edition, was, in the second and subsequent ones, removed to the comment on verse
28; from the words, 'Now then, from what hath been said,' to the end of the comment
on that verse. I should have preferred Bunyan's first arrangement, but dared not
alter what he had considered an improvement.–Ed.
 Of all men most miserable must be those clergymen and religious teachers, who,
in the great day, will say, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name,' to
whom the Lord will profess, 'I never knew you, depart, ye cursed.'– Matt 7:21-23.–Ed.
 The Ranters were a sect of the wildest enthusiasts. It very soon became extinct.
An exaggerated account of their sentiments is to be found in Ross's view of all Religions.–
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