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die but once, yet these harbingers of death, these stripes, bonds, imprisonments, sicknesses, &c. all of them were as so many deaths, all these were comprehended under this curse, and are parts of death; in as much as he underwent that which was a furtherance to death, he is said to die. So, we read, Pharaoh could say: "Pray unto your God that he would forgive my sins this once, and intreat the Lord that he will take away from me but this death only." Not that the locusts were death, but are said to be so, because they prepared and made way for a natural death. Therefore the great judgments of God are usually in Scripture comprised under this name death. All things that may be expressions of a wrath of an highly provoked God, are comprehended under this name. All the judgments of God that come upon us in this life, or that to come, whether they be spiritual and ghostly, or temporal, are under the name of death.
Now to come to particulars, look particularly on death, and you shall see death begun in this world, and seconded by a death following, the separation of body and soul from God in the world to come.
1. First, in this life he is always a dying man: "Man that is born of a woman," what is he? He is ever spending upon the stock, he is ever wasting like a candle, burning still and spending itself as soon as lighted, till it come to its utter consumption: so he is born to be a dying man, death seizeth upon him as soon as ever it findeth sin in him." Ing the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die " saith God to Adam, though he lived many years after. How then could this threatening hold true? Yes it did, in regard that presently he fell into a languishing estate, subject and obnoxious to miseries and calamities, the hasteners of it. If a man be condemned to die, suppose he be reprieved, and kept prisoner three or four years, yet we account him but a dead man and if this man's mind shall be taken up with worldly matters,
Exod. chap. 10. ver. 17.
Gen. chap. 2. ver. 1.
earthly contentments, purchases or the like, would we not account him a fool or a stupid man, seeing he lightly esteems his condemnation, because the same hour he is not executed? Such is our case, we are, while in our natural condition in this life, dead men, ever tending toward the grave, towards corruption, as the gourd of Jonah,
so soon as ever it begins to sprout forth, there is a worm within," that bites it and causes it to wither. The day that we are born, there is within us the seed of corruption, and that wastes us away with a secret and incurable consumption, that certainly brings death in the end: so that in our very birth begins our progress unto death. A time, a way we have, but it leads unto death. There is a way from the tower to Tyburn, but it is a way to death. Until thou comest to be reconciled unto Christ, every hour tends unto thy death; there is not a day that thou canst truly say, thou livest in, thou art ever posting on to death, death in this world, and eternal death in the world to come.
And as it is thus with us at our coming into the world, so we are to understand it of that little time we have above ground, our days are full of sorrow. But mark when I speak of sorrows here, we must not take them for such afflictions and sorrows as befal God's children, for theirs are blessings unto them: chastisements are tokens of God's love; "For as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:" saith Christ. Affliction to them is like the dove with an olive-branch in her mouth, to shew that all is well; but take a man that is under the law, and then every cross, whether it be loss of friends, loss of goods, diseases on his body, all things, every thing to him is a token of God's wrath, not a token of God's love, as it is to God's children; but it is as his impress money, as part of payment of a greater sum, an earnest of the wrath of God, the first part of the payment thereof.
It is the apostles direction, that, among the other armour, we should "get our feet shod," that so we might be
Revel. chap. 3. ver. 19.
able to go through the afflictions we shall meet withal in this life: "Let your feet be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace." What, is the shoeing of the feet a part of the armour? Yes: for in the Roman discipline there were things they called galltraps, which were cast in the way before the army, before the horse and men; they had three points, so that which way soever they threw them, there was a point upwards. Now to meet with and prevent this mischief, they had brazen shoes that they might tread upon these galltraps and not be hurt: as we read of Goliah, amongst other armour he had boots of brass. To this it seems the apostle had reference in this metaphorical speech: the meaning is that as we should get the shield of faith and sword of the spirit, so we should have our feet shod, that we might be prepared against all those outward troubles, that we should meet with in the world, which are all of them as so many stings and pricks; all outward crosses I say are so: and what is it that makes all these hurt us? what is it that makes all these as so many deaths unto us but sin? If sin reign in thee and bear rule, that puts a sting into them. It is sin that arms death against us, and it is sin that arms all that goes before death against us. Hast thou been crossed in the loss of thy wife, children, good friends, &c. why the sting of all is from sin, sin it is which makes us feel sorrow. What shall we then do? Why, get thy "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace." Prepare thyself, get God at peace with thee; and then whatsoever affliction cometh, howsoever it may be a warning piece to another that God's wrath is coming, yet to thee it is a messenger of peace. Now these outward troubles are the least part of a wicked man's payment, though all these are a part of his death, so long as he remains unreconciled, whatsoever comes upon him whereby he suffers either in himself or in any thing that belongs unto him, they are all tokens of God's wrath, and are the beginnings of his death, in the twenty-sixth of Leviticus, and the twenty-eighth of Deuteronomy, the particulars of it are
Eph. chap. 6. ver. 15.
iDeut. chap. 28. ver. 61.
1 Lev. chap. 26. ver. 26.
" Acts, chap. 5.
set down. But this is that I told you the last time, how that the law of God is a perfect law, and nothing is to be added to it, yet the variety of the curses belonging unto a man unreconciled are so many, that the ample book of God cannot contain them: "All the curses which are not written," &c. we read: "Thek Lord shall smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with emrods, and with a scab, and with itch." See the diversities of plagues, all these are made parts of the curse, The very itch and scab is a part of the payment of God's wrath in hell. " I1 will send a sword amongst you, which shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant." The book of God comprehends not all the curses that are to light on the wicked. And therefore we find in Zachary, a book, a great folio book, every side whereof was full of curses. "He said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I see a flying roll, the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof is ten cubits." Here is a big book indeed; but mark what is in it: sure it is not for nought that the Holy Ghost sets down the dimensions of it: there is something questionless in it, the length "thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth ten cubits:" a huge volume. Nor is it a book but a roll, so that the crassitude goeth into the compass, and this is "written thick within and without," and is full of curses against sin. Now for the dimensions of it, compare this place with 1 Kings, chap. VI. ver. 3. and you shall find them the very dimensions of Solomon's porch: a great place where the people were wont to come for the hearing of the word, and not only in that time, but it was continued in the time of Christ and the apostles for we read how our Saviour walked in Solomon's porch, and the apostles were in Solomon's porch". So large then was this roll, that it agreed in length and breadth with Solomon's porch, and so many curses were written in it as were able to come in at the church door. It is as if we should see a huge book now, coming in at the church
k Ibid. ver. 27.
Zach. chap. 5. ver. 2.
door, that should fill it up. Such a thing was presented unto him, and it was a roll full of curses, and all these curses shall come on those that obey not all the commandments, all shall come upon them and overtake them. "Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed in thy basket and in thy store, cursed when thou comest in, and when thou goest forth." Till a man come to receive the promises, till he come to be a son of blessing, till he be in Christ, he is beset so with curses, that if he lie down to sleep, there is a curse on his pillow; if he put his money in his coffer, he lays up a curse with it, which as rust eats it out and cankers it; if he beget a child, he is accursed, there is a curse against his person and his goods, and all that belongs unto him, there is still a curse over his head.
The creditor in this world by the laws of the realm may choose, whether he will have his debtor's person seized on, or his goods and chattels : but not so here, this writ is executed against his person and goods, and all that belongs unto him. So that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." If this be the condition of a wicked man, that his "very blessings be curses," what a woful case is it! There is nothing till he be reconciled to Christ, but hath a curse at the end of it.
Consider that one place in the prophecy of Malachy, where the very blessings are accursed: not only when God sends on him the itch, or botch, or scab, or sword, but in blessings he is accursed: "If you will not hear, and if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, saith the Lord, I will even send a curse upon you." But how? See how this curse is threatened: "I will curse your very blessings, yea I have cursed them already, because you do not lay it to heart." Mark, is it not a great blessing that God yet affords the word, that we yet enjoy it; but if we come to hear but formally, to hear it only, and lay it not to heart, God curseth this blessing, yea, "I have cursed it already, saith the Lord." When