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will, and doeth it not, is declared not to be worthy of so many stripes, as he who, being informed of his Lord's will, is in like manner disobedient. If men be blind, they have comparitively no sin; but when they see, when they have light to know their duty, and to know their obligation, then their sin is great, John ix. 14. When the light that is in a man is darkness, how great is that darkness! and when men live in wickedness, in the midst of great light, that light is like to be the blackness of darkness indeed.
2. That they sin against such professions and vows. The Heathens never pretended to be the worshippers of the true God. They never pretended to be Christ's diciples; they never came under any covenant-obligations to be such. But this is not the case with sinners in Zion; Now, God highly resents falsehood and treachery. Judas, who betrayed Christ with a kiss, was a greater sinner, and much more the object of God's wrath, than Pilate, who condemned him to be crucified, and was his murderer.
3. That they sin against so much greater mercy. They have the infinite mercy of God, in giving his own Son, often set before them: they have the dying love of Christ represented. to them; they have this mercy, this glorious Saviour, his blood and righteousness, often offered to them: they have a blessed opportunity to obtain salvation for their souls; a great price is put into their hands to this end: they have that precious treasure, the holy scriptures, and enjoy Sabbaths, and sacraments, and the various means of grace: But all these means and advantages, these opportunities, offers, mercies, and invitations, they abuse, despise, and reject,
But there is no wrath like that which arises from mercy abused and rejected. When mercy is in this way turned into wrath, this is the fiercest wrath.--Sinners in Zion, beside their fall by the first Adam, have a fall also by the second: he is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, at which they stumble and fall; and there is no fall like this; the fall by the first Adam is light in comparison with it.
On these accounts, whenever we see the day of judgment, as every one of us shall see it, we shall easily distinguish between the sinners in Zion and other sinners, by their shriller cries, their louder, more bitter, and dolorous shrieks, the greater amazement of their countenances, and the more dismal shaking of their limbs, and contortions of their bodies.
An earnest Exhortation to sinners in Zion, now to fly from the
devouring fire and everlasting burnings. You have often been exhorted to fly from the "wrath to come.” This devouring fire, these everlasting burnings, of which we have been speaking, are the wrath to come. You hear of this fire, of these burnings, and of that fearfulness which will seize and surprise sinners in Zion hereafter; and ( what reason have you of thankfulness that you only hear of them, , that you do not as yet feel them, and that they have not already taken hold of you! They are, as it were, following you, and coming nearer and nearer every day. Those fierce flames are already kindled in the wrath of God; yea, the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God burn against you; it is ready for you ; that pit is prepared for you, with fire and much wood, and the wrath of the Lord, as a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
Lot was with great urgency hastened out of Sodom, and commanded to make haste, and fly for his life, and escape to the mountains, lest he should be consumed in those fames wliich burned up Sodom and Gomorrah. But that burning was a mere spark to that devouring fire, and those everlasting burnings of which you are in danger. Therefore improve the present opportunity.
Now, God is pleased again to pour out his spirit upon us; and he is doing great things among us.
God is indeed come again, the same great God who so wonderfully appeared among us some years ago, and who hath since, for our sins, departed from us, left us so in so dull and dead a state, and hath let sinners alone in their sins; so that there have been scarcely any signs to be seen of any such work as conversion. That same God is now come again; he is really come in like manner, and begins, as he did before, gloriously to manifest bis mighty power, and the riches of his grace. He brings sinners out of darkness into marvellous light. He rescues poor captive souls out of the hands of Satan; he saves persons from the devouring fire; he plucks one and another as brands out of the burnings; he opens the prison-doors, and knocks off their chains, and brings out poor prisoners; he is now working salvation among us from this very destruction of which you
have now heard.
Now, now, then, is the time, now is the blessed opportunity to escape those everlasting burnings. Now God hath again set open the same fountain among us, and gives one more happy opportunity for souls to escape. Now he hath set open a wide door, and he stands in the door-way, calling and begging with a loud voice to the sinners of Zion : Come, saith he, come, fly from the wrath to come ; here is a refuge for you ; fly bither for refuge ; lay hold on the hope set before you.
A little while ago, it was uncertain whether we should ever see such an opportunity again. It it had always continued as it hath been for some years past, * almost all of you would surely have gone
to bell; in a little time fearfulness would have surprised you, and you would have been cast into that devouring fire, and those everlasting burnings. But in infinite mercy God gives another opportunity; and blessed are your eyes, that they see it, if you did but know your own opportunity.
You have had your life spared through these six years past, to this very time, to another outpouring of the Spirit. What would you have done, if you had died before it came? How doleful would your case have been ! But you have reason to bless God that it was not so, and that you are yet alive, and now again see a blessed day of grace. And will you not improve it! Have you not so much love to your poor souls, as to improve such an opportunity as this?
Some, there is reason to think, have lately fled for refuge to Christ; and will you be willing to stay behind still, poor miserable captives, condemned to suffer for ever in the lake of fire? Hereafter you will see those of your neighbours and acquaintance, who are converted, mounting up as with wings, with songs of joy, to meet their Lord; and if you remain unconverted, you at the same time will be surprised with fear, and horror will take hold of you, because of the devouring fire, and the everlasting burnings.
It is an awful thing to think of, that there are now some persons in this very congregation, here and there, who will be the subjects of that very misery of which we have now heard, although it be so dreadful, although it be so intolerable, and although it be eternal! There are probably some now reading or hearing this discourse, who shall be seen, at the day of judgement, among the devils, at the left hand of the judge, with frighted, ghastly countenances; wringing their hands, gnashing their teeth, shrieking and crying out.
*This was writion in 1740, five or six years at:er the former revival had ceased. VOL. iv.
Now we know not their names, nor where to look for them. But God knoweth their names, and now seeth and knoweth what they think, and how much they regard the warnings which are given them this day. We have not the least reason to suppose any other than that some of you will hereafter see others entering into glory with Christ, and saints, and angels, while you, with dreadful horror, shall see the fire begin to kindle about you. It may be, that the persons are now blessing themselves in their own hearts, and each one saying with himself, Well, I do not intend it shall be I. Every one hopes to go to heaven; none would by any means mies of it. If any thought they should miss of it, they would be greatly amazed. But all will not go thither; it will undoubtedly be the portion of some to toss and tumble for ever among the fiery billows of God's wrath.
It is not to be supposed, but that there are some here who will not be in earnest ; let them have ever so good an opportunity to obtain heaven, they will not thoroughly improve it. Tell them of hell as often as you will, and set it out in as lively colours as you will, they will be slack and slothful; and they will never be likely to obtain heaven, while they are sleeping, and dreaming, and intending, and hoping. The wrath of God, which pursues them, will take them by the heels; hell, that follows after, will overtake them ; fearfulness will surprise them, and a tempest will steal them away.
Nor is it to be supposed, that all who are now seeking will hold out; some will backslide; they will be unsteady. If now they seem to be pretty much engaged, it will not hold. Times will probably alter by and by, and they having not obtained grace, there will be many temptations to backsliding, with which they will comply. The hearts of men are very unsteady; they are not to be trusted. Men are very short winded ; they rannot tell how to have patience to wait upon God; they are soon discouraged. Some that are now under convictions may Jose them. Perhaps they will not leave off seeking salvation at once ; but they will come to it by degrees. After a while, they will begin to hearken to excuses, not to be quite so constant in duty; they will begin to think that they need not be quite so strict; they will say to themselves, they see no hurt in such and such things; they see not but they may practise them without any great guilt. Tbus giving way to temptations, and hearkening to excuses, they will by degrees lose their convictions, and become secure in sin.
There were some who were guilty of backsliding, the last time of the revtral of religion among us. While the talk upon religious subjects was generally kept alive, they continued to seek; but when this began to abate, and they saw others less zealous than they had been, and especially when they saw some miscarriages of professors, they began to grow more careless, to seek less earnestly, and to plead these things as an excuse. And they are left behind still; they are to this day in a miserable condemned state, in danger of the devouring fire, and of everlasting burnings ; in twice so dangerous a state as they were in before they were awakened ; and God only knows what will become of then, And as it was then, so we dread it will be now.
Some who are now in a natural condition, are doubtless near death; they have not long to live in the world; and if they seek in a dull way, or if, after they have sought for a while, they are guilty of backsliding, death will come upon them long enough before there will come such another opportunity. When they leave off seeking, it will not be without a design of seeking again some time or other ; but death will be too quick for them. It is not the manner of death to wait upon men, while they take time to indulge their sloth, and gratify their lusts. When his appointed time comes, he will do his work. Will you put off in hope of seeing another such time seven years hence ? Alas! how many of those who are now in a natural condition may be in hell before another seven years shall have elapsed!
Therefore now let every one look to himself. It is for your own souls salvation. If you be foolish, and will not hearken to counsel, will not improre the opportunity when it is given you, and will not enter into such an open door, you alone must bear it. If you shall miss this opportunity, and quench your convictions now, and there shall come another time of the outpouring of the Spirit, you will be far less likely to have any profit by it; as we see now God chiefly moves on the hearts of those who are very young, who are brought forward upon the stage of action since the last outpouring of the Spirit, who were not then come to years of so inuch understanding, and consequently not so much in the way of the influences of the Spirit. As to those who were grown up, and had convictions then, and quenched them, the most of these are abundantly more hardened, and seem to be more passed over. So it will probably be with you hereafter, if you miss this opportunity, and quench the convictions of the spirit which you have now.