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that are far from him shall perish; (Psal. xcii. 9; xiii. 27 ;) their desire shall perish ; (Psal. cxii. 10 ;) their hope shall perish ; (Prov. xi. 7; Job viii. 13;) their way shall perish; (Psal. i. 6 ;) and themselves and all that they sought, and loved, and delighted in, shall perish. (Job xx. 7; 2 Pet. ii. 12; Rom. ii. 12; Heb. i. 11.) Even the visible heavens and earth, which they abused, shall be consumed with fire.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking towards and waiting for the coming and appearance of our Lord !” (2 Pet. iii. 11.) Shall any man be accounted wise, that is not wise for eternal happiness? Shall
any man be counted happy, that must be most miserable to eternity? In the name of God, Christian, I charge thee to hold on, and look to thy soul, thy words, thy ways, for it is for eternity! O play not, loiter not, do nothing by the halves in the way to eternity! Let the careless world do what they will; they despise, and know not what they do despise; they neglect, and know not what they do neglect; but thou that seekest, and labourest, and waitest, knowest what thou seekest, and labourest, and waitest for. They sin and know not what they do. They know not what they are treasuring up for an eternity. But thou knowest why thou hatest and avoidest sin.
Sinners, be awakened by the call of God; do you know where you are, and what you do? You are every man of you stepping into eternity! Will you sin away, will you loiter away,
you sell for nothing, an eternal glory? Is thy sinful lust, and gain, and mirth, and gluttony, and excess of drink, a price to set upon eternity? If heaven be no more worth to thee, art thou not as bad as Judas, that for thirty pieces of silver would sell his Lord ? O eternity, eternity! what hearts have they that can so forget thee, neglect thee, and disesteem thee, when they stand so near thee! O sleepy souls ! do you never use to rub your eyes, and look before you towards eternity ? and doth it not amaze you to see whither it is that you are going? Merrily you run down the hill; but where is the bottom! If you look but down from the top of a steeple, it may occasion an amazing
what then should it cause in you to look down into hell, which is your eternity? No good can possibly be small that is eternal; and no hurt or pain can be called lit
tle, that is eternal : an eternal tooth-ache, or an eternal gout, or stone, or fever, were a misery unspeakable. But O! what are these to an eternal loss of heaven, and to an eternal sense of the burning wrath of God Almighty! To be out of heaven a day, and in hell that day, is a misery now unknown to sinners; but if it were as many thousand years as the earth hath sands, it were a greater misery ; but to be there for ever, doth make the misery past all hope, and all conceiving. Omethinks the very name of Eternity, should frighten the drunkard out of the alehouse, and the sleepy sinner out of his security, and the lustful, sportful, voluptuous sinner out of his sensual delights ! Methinks the very name of Eternity should call off the worldling to seek betime a more enduring treasure, and should take down the gallant's pride, and bring men to look after other matters than the most do look after! Methinks to hear the name of Eternity should with men of any faith and reason, even blast all the beauty, and blur the glory, and sadden the delights, and weaken the temptations of the world, and make all its pleasure, pomp, and splendour, to be to our apprehensions as a smoke, a shadow, as the dirt that we tread upon! Methinks to hear the name of Eternity should lay so odious a reproach on sin, and so nakedly open the folly, and shame, and misery of the ungodly, and so lively shew the need, and worth of faith and holiness, that men should be soon resolved in their choice, and soon be at the end of an ungodly course, and need no more words to make them the resolved servants of the Lord, before to-morrow! O methinks, that a thought of eternity should, with a believer, answer all temptations, and put life into all his prayers and endeavours! If we were never so cold, or dull, or sleepy, one would think a serious thought of eternity should warm us, quicken us, and awake us! O Christians, shall we hear carelessly, or speak carelessly of eternity ? Shall we pray coldly, or labour negligently for eternity! O what an ocean of joy will eternity be unto the sanctified! It hath neither banks nor bottom. O what a gulf of misery and woe, will eternity be to the ungodly! Wonderful! that on their dying beds they quake not with the horror, and that they cry not out with greatest lamentation, to think what a bottomless gulf of misery their departing souls must be cast into! To be for ever, ever, ever, under the most heavy wrath of God! This is the appointed wages of ungodliness; this is the end of wicked ways; this is it that sinners chose, because they would not live to God! this they preferred, or ventured on, before a holy, heavenly life! and this is it that believers are labouring to escape in all their holy care and diligence ! It is an infinite value that is put upon the blood of Christ, the promises of God, the ordinances and means of grace, and grace itself, and the poorest duties of the poorest saints, because they are for an infinite, eternal glory. No mercy is small that tastes of heaven (as all doth or should do to the believer). No action is low that aims at heaven. And O how lively should the resolutions and courage of those men be, that are travelling, fighting, and watching for eternity! How full should be their comforts, that are fetched from the foresight of infinite eternal comforts ! As all things will presently be swallowed up in eternity, so methinks the present apprehension of eternity should now swallow up all things else in the soul.
Object. But (saith the unbeliever) if God have made man for eternity, it is a wonder that there are no more lively impressions of so infinite a thing upon the souls of all! Our sense of it is so small, that it makes me doubt whether we are made for it.'
Answ. Consider, 1. That benumbedness, and sleep, and death, is the very state of an unholy soul! Hast thou cast thyself into a sleepy, senseless disease, and wilt thou argue thence against eternity? This is as if the blind should conclude that there is no sun, or that the eye of man was not made to see it, because he hath no sight himself! or as if you should think that man hath not any life or feeling, because your palsied limbs do not feel! or that the stomach was not made for meat, because the stomachs of the sick abhor it!
2. And for believers, 1. You may see by their lives that they have some apprehensions of eternity: why else do they differ from you, and deny themselves, and displease the world and the flesh itself? Why do they set their hearts above, if they have not lively thoughts of an eternity ?
2. But if you ask me, Why their apprehensions are not a thousand times more lively about so infinite a thing ; I answer, 1. Their apprehensions must be suitable to their state. Our state here is a state of imperfection; and so will our apprehensions be; but a perfect state will have perfect apprehensions. It is no proof that the infant in the womb is not made to come into this world, and see the sun, and converse with men, because he hath no apprehensions of it. Our state here is a conjunction of the soul to a frail distempered body; and so near a conjunction that the actions of the soul must have great dependance on the body; and therefore our apprehensions are limited by its frailty ; and the soul can go no higher than the capacity of the body will allow: 2. And our apprehensions now are fitted to our use and benefit: we are now believers, and must live by faith; and therefore must be beholders, and live by sense. If eternity were open to men's natural sight, or we had here as clear and lively apprehensions of it, as those have that are there, then it were no thanks, no praise to us to be believers, or to obey, and live as saints! And then God should not govern man, as man, here in the way, by a law, but as a beast by sense, or as the glorified that have possession. Where there are perfect apprehensions of God and glory, there will be also perfect love, and joy, and praise, and consequently perfect happiness; and this were to make earth and heaven, the way and the end, to be all
Perfect apprehensions are kept for a perfect state of happiness. But here it is well if we have such apprehensions as are fitted to the use of travellers and soldiers, as will carry uś on, and prevail against the difficulties of our course. If you had never been in London, you could not have any such clear apprehensions of the place, as those that see it have; and yet your imperfect apprehensions might be sufficient to make you take a journey thither, and you may come as safely and certainly to it, as if you had seen it. Moreover, the body, the brain, which the soul in apprehending now makes use of, cannot bear such apprehensions as are suitable to the thousandth part of the greatness of the object, without distraction. The smallest eye may see the sun; but the greatest cannot endure to gaze upon its glory; much less if it were at the nearest approach. It is a mercy of mercies to give us such apprehensions of eternity, as are meet for passengers to bring us thither : ; and it is part of our mercy that those apprehensions are not so great as to distract and overwhelm us.
4. Lastly, The eternity of God must teach the soul con
tentedness and patience under all labours, changes, sufferings and dangers that are here below. Believing soul, draw near; look seriously on eternity, and try whether it will not make such impressions as these upon thee. Art thou weary of labours, either of the mind or body? Is not eternity long enough for thy rest? Canst thou not afford to work out the daylight of this life, when thou must rest with Christ to all eternity? Canst thou not run with patience so short a race, when thou lookest to so long a rest? Canst thou not watch one hour with Christ, that must reign with him to all eternity? Dost thou begin to shrink at sufferings for Christ, when thou must be in glory with him for ever? How short is the suffering? how long is the reward ? Dost thou begin to think hardly of the dealing of the Lord, because his people are here afflicted, and made the scorn and byword of the world? Why, is not eternity long enough for God to shew his love and bounty to his people in? Is not the day at hand, when Lazarus and the rich worldling both must hear, “ But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented ?” (Luke xvi. 25.) Did not that now come time enough which was the entrance of eternity? “Even Jesus,
, the author and perfecter of our faith, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God! Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." (Heb. xii. 2, 3.) Dost thou grudge at the prosperity of the wicked, and prevalency of the church's enemies ? Look then unto eternity, and bethink thee whether that be not long enough, for the saints to reign, and the wicked to be tormented. Wouldst thou have them in hell before their time? Dost thou begin to doubt of the coming of Christ, or the truth of his promises, because he doth so long delay? O what is a thousand years to eternity! Is there not yet time enough before thee, for Christ to make good all his promises in? Were not those disciples sharply but justly rebuked as “fools and slow of heart to believe,” that when their Lord had been but two days dead, were unbelievingly saying, “We hoped this had been he that should bave redeemed Israel ?" O remember, Christian, in all thy darkness and ignorance of the difficult passages of Scrip