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passed with so many sorrows, that if their eyes were but a little opened, to see the danger, they would not only be afraid, but like unto him, who late in the night had escaped a danger going over a bridge very narrow, and so great a depth under the same that if his horse's foot had slipped, death had immediately followed, who being the next day told what a great danger he had escaped, would needs go view the same, where for fear of his former danger he died. So would these wicked men be overcome with the fearful sight of their estates. For all this the godly see great and fearful sights many times and yet they fear not. Because, as it is in Hebrews, they remember that they have a merciful and a faithful high priest, such a one who took upon him our nature, that therein he might reconcile us unto God. Forasmuch (saith he) then, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part with them, that he might destroy through death him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and that he might deliver all them, who for fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. As also that they rest assured that Christ's death was to free us, that by him we may have life, as John speakeths. For this cause appeared the Son of God, that he might loose the works of the devil; for these causes therefore do they not fear. But the wicked man is given over into the hands of his enemies; horrible are his fears if he espy them, many times tending to desperation : and most desperate is his estate if he espy them not, most miserable he is howsoever. This freedom of the faithful, to be freed from the fear and hands of their enemies, they shall never attain unto; for God will give their enemy the devil power over them ; God will bid Satan do with them what he will without limitation, as he did unto Job. Firsth Satan was forbidden to touch his person, and next (although to afflict that) yet in any case to save his life ; but for the wicked God will use no such restraint: Satan shall use them at his pleasure: both in soul and body they shall follow him at his beck and call. Is not this a pitiful estate, when the devil is the leader of the army, to be bound to follow him as chief captain, who will lead them unto eternal destruction. A pitiful thing I say it is to be given over unto the devil, who having once gotten possession, will not easily be put out again, unless a stronger man come to thrust him out, even Jesus Christ. Neither could Christ do it with ease but with great trouble and anguish, as the prophet showeth he must first be abased and despised, rejected, have experience of infirmities, be smitten, humbled, and judged as plagued of God, wounded and broken for our iniquities, make his grave with the wicked, be cut out of the land of the living, brought as a sheep to the slaughter, briefly a man full of sorrows.
| Heb. chap. 2. ver. 14.
8 1 John, chap. 3. ver. 8. Job. chap. 1. ver. 12. and chap. 2. ver. 6.
Beloved, think you this an easy matter thus to loose the works of the devil, when the Son of God must thus with strong hand come and thrust him out. Oh! that we could learn to prize so great a benefit and keep him forth betimes; for if we do not, if he once get footing there must be cruel wrestling and much ado to expel him, to thy great sorrow. Therefore doth he begin his kingdom in this world, getting in this life possession of those whom he thinketh to retain for ever in perpetual darkness. The apostle Paul tellethk of a strange fornication, willing such a one to be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. But not such mercy do wicked men receive, being given over to the devil, both soul and body; the soul of them also shall be tormented with unspeakable torments. They shall be fastened close to their enemy, a miserable thing for them to be glued to the devil, better be galley slaves to the Turk a thousand times than to endure this slavery to Satan's will.
Now let us examine and see in whom, and how this tyranny of Satan is discerned. 1. When the Gospel is preached unto thee, and there is a veil drawn over thy eyes, that thou hast no taste or feeling of the sweetness of the same, when it is taught and hid from thee that thou art no more moved
i Isaiah, chap. 53.
k 1 Cor. chap. 5. ver. 4.
thereat than a stone, that thou feelest no comfort but art still senseless as before, either of mercies or judgments, thou art surely as yet under this tyranny of Satan. Some there are who rejoice thereat, and hear it willingly, yet follow not the same, nor will be ruled thereby ; so did Herod to John the Baptist ; others again are altogether hardhearted, the more they hear the more obstinate they remain. These remain both under the tyranny of Satan. The Gospel unto such is yet hid; hearing, reading, and the like, they all are rather a custom than any essential matter, without which can be no salvation. But the cause of alll this is (saith the apostle) they are blind and lost sheep. If our Gospel be then hid, it is hid unto them who are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds, that is of the infidels, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which is the image of God, should not shine unto them. So that whilst the prince of darkness bears sway in us we are blind and can see nothing; and I appeal unto the consciences of long hearers who have profited nothing or little thereby, whether or not this Gospel be hid unto them which daily soundeth in their ears, since they profit nothing thereby, remaining still in their old sins, and first trade of life. Now the devil, when he hath once possession, doth he come alone ? No, for death, a second enemy, doth always attend his footing, the devil and death dance both in a string. Deathm then (saith the apostle) is also an enemy. The last enemy that shall be subdued (saith he) is death. So the life of a natural man is but a death, until he be in Christ. Men think it strange for all this, that wicked men's lives should appear in show so full of mirth, and all kinds of pleasure. But the wise man well answereth such, considering the cause of this error. “Because (saith he)judgment is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the children of men are set upon vanity.” God (he showeth) although he send not speedy vengeance upon the wicked, but is of long suffering, yet the delaying of their punishments should not dismay God's children. For what although for a short
| 2 Cor. chap. 4. ver. 4.
m 1 Cor. chap. 15. ver. 26.
time they enjoy all the pleasures of this earth, yet are they in the hands of their enemies; before they be aware, this cruel enemy, the first death, seizeth upon them, robbeth them of all comforts, even when they think least of him, not fearing him at all. This is a miserable estate, to be thus suddenly surprised by so cruel an enemy.
But what of all this? why the first death is also attended with a crueller enemy, it bringeth thee into the hands of the second death, a third enemy. This death bringeth thee to another, even to the second death, where shall be no end of torments, but a most miserable eternal death, full of unspeakable sorrows, world without end, where also God fourthly shall be thy enemy
This is most of all miserable, when God by tormenting shall also be our enemy. If he were not a party, there might be some hope, but he being an enemy all is gone. The cruelty of this to have God for our enemy old Eli well showeth, reproving of his sons he saith, “ ifn one man sin against another, the judge shall judge it, but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall plead for him?” This certainly is a miserable thing, thus to fall having God our enemy; who then can possibly plead our cause, if Christ be our enemy, then, as the Psalmist speaketh, “Blessedo are all they who trust in him, if his anger be once kindled.” It is not, as most men think, that God is all mercy. No, I tell thee, it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Read Psalm 94, GodP is also a God of revenge: and in another place he saith, God is known by executing of judgment, and the wicked shall turn into hell, and all that forget God.” He hath a black day of revenge reserved for his enemies; when he' will command to bring forth his enemies, who would not that he should reign over them, that they may be killed before him. Let us then put these things seriously unto our hearts.
God hath many times willed to reign over us, but we would none of him for the most part. Well if we
n 1 Sam. chap. 2. ver. 25.
o Psalm 2. ver. 12.
will none of these instructions, what then?“ We shall be punished with everlasting perdition, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” We shall then have no society with God, he being our enemy, his power shall be showed in executing his power upon the wicked. Job's complaints are most grievous ; that his soul is pursued as the wind, his health passing away as a cloud, the days of his afflictions piercing his bones in the night, his sinews taking no rest, being cast into the mire and become as ashes and dust; when he prayed not being heard or regarded, God turning cruelly against him, being an enemy unto him with the strength of his hand. If God thus use his own dear children in this life, how much more cruelly will he torture the wicked in the life to come. And the Lord is compared to a strong archer, the wicked being the butt of his wrath, in whom he will shoot venemous arrows, the poison whereof shall drink up their spirits, as he here in anguish under the cross confesseth himself to have felt. For conclusion then of this point let us behold and be afraid of the estate of nature, since a natural man is thus miserable, having so many enemies. All God's creatures are against them, the power of God shall torment them. An earthly master would not be content to be thus used of his servant, upon whom he had bestowed many favours; how much less will the King of kings be thus served of wicked men ? But what shall I
But what shall I say? It is a supernatural work of grace to be thus drawn to acknowledge God's mercies to serve him truly. Thus have you seen the fearful estate of a natural man, left in the hands of his greatest enemies.
Let us now come to a second point, 2. Some shall be delivered.
But, may some object and say, if God be so fearful an enemy
when his wrath is kindled, who shall deliver me from this first enemy ? For do you think, but that the wicked could wish that there were no God ? Surely he if he be not in
' Job. chap. 30. ver. 15.
• 2 Thess. chap. 1. ver. 9. u Job. chap. 6. ver. 4.