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thou prayest in hypocrisy, thy prayer is a curse to thee. If thou receive the sacrament unworthily, the cup of blessing is a cup of poison, a cup of cursing to thee. Stay not therefore one hour longer quietly in this cursed condition, but fly unto Christ for life and blessing : run to this city of refuge, for otherwise there is a curse at the end of every outward thing that thou enjoyest. “ I have cursed these blessings already.” It is as sure as if already passed on thee. What a woful thing then it is, think you, to be liable to the curse of God!
2. But what is become of the soul now? Why, if thou didst but see the cursed soul that thou carriest in thy body, it would amaze thee. These outward curses are but flea-bitings to the blow that is given to the soul of an unregenerate man, that deadness of spirit that is within : didst thou but see the curse of God that rests upon the soul of this man, even while he is above ground, it would even astonish thee.
1. Consider there are two kinds of blows that God gives unto the soul of an unregenerate man.
The one is a terrible blow. The other, which is the worst of the two, is an insensible blow. The sensible blow is when God lets the conscience out, and makes it fly into the face of a man, when the conscience shall come, and terribly accuse a man for what he hath done. This blow is not so usual as the insensible blow; but this insensible is far more heavy. But as it falls out, that as in this world, sometimes before the glory in heaven, the saints of God have here a glimpse of heaven, and certain communion with God and Christ, certain love tokens, "a white stone, a new name engraven, which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it:” and this is the testimony of a good conscience, which is hidden joys: privy intercourse is between Christ and them, secret kisses: and as God's children do, as it were, meet with a heaven
earth sometimes, and are, as we read of Paul, “ caught up into the third heaven,” which to them is more than all the things in the world besides : so the wicked have sometimes flashes of hell in their consciences. If you had but seen
men in the case that I have seen them in, you would
say they had an hell within them; they would desire rather, and they have expressed it, to be torn in pieces by wild horses, so they might be freed from the horrors in their consciences. When the conscience recoils and beats back upon itself, as a musket overcharged, it turns a man over and over: and this is a terrible thing. This sometimes God gives men in this world: and mark, where the word is most powerfully preached, there is this froth most raised, which is the cause many desire not to come where the word is taught, because it galls their consciences, and desire the mass rather, because they say, The mass bites not: they desire a dead minister, that would not rub up their consciences, they would not be tormented before the time. They would so, but it shall not be at their choice, God will make them feel here the fire of hell, which they must endure for ever hereafter. This is the sensible blow, when God lets loose the conscience of a wicked man; and he needs no other fire, no other worm to torment, nothing else to plague him: he hath a weapon within him, his own conscience, which if God lets loose, it will be hell enough.
2. But now besides this blow which is not so frequent, there is another more common and more sensible blow. God saith, he is a dead man, and a slave to sin and Satan,
he thinks himself the freest man in the world. God curses and strikes, and he feels it not. This is an insensible blow, and like unto a dead palsy: thou art dead, and yet walkest about, and art merry, though every one that hath his eyes open seeth death in thy face. O this deadness, this senselessness of heart is the heaviest thing that can befala sinner in this life. It is the cause the apostle speaks of in the epistle to the Romans, when God delivers up a man "siç voūv adókluov, to a reprobate mind :" and so, in the epistle to the Ephesians, chap. IV. ver. 19. declares such a man to be past feeling; “Who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lasciviousness to work all uncleanness even with greediness.” Although every sin, as I told you before, is as it were the running a man's self on the point of God's sword, yet these men being past feeling, run on, on, on, to commit sin with greediness, till they come to the very pit of destruction, they run amain to their confusion. When this insensibleness is come upon them, it is not God's goodness that can work upon them. Who art thou that “ despisesto the riches of God's goodness, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee unto repentance.” It is not God's judgments that will move them, they leave no impression. “ And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, &c. brass, nor stone and wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk.” They repented not though they were spared, but worshipped gods which cannot see, nor hear, nor speak, so brutish were they to be led away by stocks and stones. I think the papist gods cannot do it unless it be by cozenage; yet such is their senselessnes, that though God's fury be revealed from heaven against papists, such as worship false gods; yet are they so brutish, that they will worship things which can neither hear, nor see, nor walk. “They that made them are like unto them, and so are all they that worship them,” as brutish as the stocks themselves : they have no heart to God, but will follow after their puppets and their idols, and such are they also that follow after their “ drunkenness, covetousness, &c. Who live in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of riot, that run into all kind of excess;" and marvel that you do not so too. They marvel, that ye that fear God, can live as ye do; and speak evil of you that be good; call such hypocrites, dissemblers, and I know not what nicknames. This, I say, is a most woful condition; it is that dead blow. When men are not sensible of mercies, of judgments, but run into all excess of sin with greediness: and this is a death begun in this life, even while they are above ground.
But then comes another death, God doth not intend
Rev. chap. 9. ver. 20.
4 Rom. chap. 2. ver. 4. $ 1 Pet. chap. 4. ver. 2.
sin shall grow to an infinite weight: “ His Spirit shall not always strive with man," but at length God comes and crops him off, and now cometh the consummation of the death begun in this life: now cometh an accursed death.
3. After thou hast lived an accursed life, then cometh an accomplishment of curses.
First, a cursed separation between body and soul, and then of both from God for ever, and this is the last payment. This is that great death which the apostle speaks of, “ Who delivered us from that great death.” So terrible is that death. This death is but the severing of the body from the soul: this is but the Lord's harbinger, the Lord's serjeant to lay his mace on thee, to bring thee out of this world into a place of everlasting misery, from whence thou shalt never come, till all be satisfied, and this is never.
First, consider the nature of this death, which though every man knoweth, yet few lay to heart. This death, what doth it?
1. It takes the things which thou spentest thy whole life in getting. It robs thee of all the things thou ever hadst: thou hast taken pains to heap and "treasure up goods for many years,” presently when this blow is given, all is gone: for honour and preferment, it takes thee from that; pleasure in idle company-keeping, it bars thee of that. Mark, this is the first thing that death doth, it takes not only away a part of that thou hast, but all, it leaves thee quite naked, as naked as when thou camest into the world: thou thoughtest it was thy happiness to get this and that. Death now begins to unbewitch thee, thou wast bewitched before, when thou didst run after all worldly things: thou wast deceived before, and now it undeceives thee; it makes thee see what a notorious fool thou wast, it unbefools thee. Thou hadst many plots, and many projects, but when thy breath is gone, then without any delay in that very day, saith the psalmist, “allu thy thoughts perish,” all thy plottings, and pro
+ 2 Cor. chap. 1. ver. 10.
u Psalm 146. ver. 4.
jections go away with thy breath : a strange thing, to see a man with Job, the richest man in the east, and yet in the evening, we say, “as poor as Job:" he hath nothing left him now. Now though death takes not all things from thee, yet it takes thee from them all; and so in effect them also from thee; though they remain in thy house, and grounds, yet they are as far removed from thee, as thou from them. All thy goods, all thy books, all thy wealth, all thy friends thou mayest now bid farewell: now adieu for ever, never to see them again. And that is the first thing.
2. Now death rests not there, but cometh “ to seize upon thy body.” It hath bereaved thee of all that thou possessedst of all thy outward things, they are taken away: now it comes to touch the wicked man's
person, and see what then. It toucheth him, it rends his soul from his body: those two loving companions that have so long dwelt together, are now separated. It takes thy soul from thy body: this man doth not deliver up
his spirit, as we read of our Saviour: “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit,” or deliver their spirits as Stephen did: but here it is taken from them; it is much against his mind, it is a pulling of himself from himself. This it doth.
3. But then again, when thou art thus pulled asunder, what becomes of the parts separated ?
1. First, the body, as soon as the soul is taken from it, hastens to corruption, that must see corruption ; yea it becomes so full of corruption, that thy dearest friend cannot then endure to come near unto thee. Wher, the soul is taken from the body, it is observed that of all carcasses that are, man's is the most loathsome, none so odious as that. Abraham loved Sarah well, but when he comes to buy a monument for her, see his expression: “ He communes with the men and saith, If it be your mind to sell me the field, that I might bury my dead out of my sight.” Though he loved her very well before, yet
Gen, chap. 23. ver. 8.