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For the rest, as God the Father vouchsafed to ever shut out of the kingdom of heaven, and torcreate them, and God the Son disdained not to mented with the devils in eternal fire. Infidels bear the penalty of their sins upon the cross : believe not this when they read it, and therefore and did not judge such sufferings vain, though must feel it. Those that do believe it, are forced he knew that by refusing the sanctification of to cry out with Paul, · O the depth of the riches the Holy Ghost, they would finally destroy them- both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! selves, so we that are his ministers, though these How unsearchable are his judgments, and his be not gathered, judge not our labour wholly ways past finding out! But nature itself doth lost.
teach us all, to lay the blame of evil works upon Reader, I have done with thee, (when thou the doers, and therefore when we see any heihast perused this book ;) but sin hath not yet nous thing done, a principle of justice doth prodone with thee, even those that thou thoughtest voke us to inquire after him that did it, that the had been forgotten long ago ; and Satan bath not evil of the work may return the evil of shame yet done with thee though now he be out of upon the author. If we saw a man killed and sight; and God hath not yet done with thee, cut in pieces by the way, we should presently because thou wilt not be persuaded to have done ask, O! who did this cruel deed ? If the town with deadly reigning sin. I have written thee were wilfully set on fire, you would ask, What this persuasive discourse, as one that is going wicked wretch did this ? So when we read that into another world, where the things are seen the most will be firebrands of hell for ever, we that I here speak of, and as one that knows thou must needs think with ourselves, How comes must shortly be there thyself. As ever thou this to pass, and to whom is it owing ; who wouldest meet ine with comfort before the Lord is it that is so cruel as to be the cause of such a that made us : as ever thou wilt escape the ever- thing as this? And we can meet with few that lasting plagues prepared for the final neglecters will own the guilt. It is indeed confessed by of salvation, and for all that are not sanctified all, that Satan is the cause, but that doth not reby the Holy Ghost, and love not the communion solve the doubt, because he is not the principal of the saints, as members of the holy catholic cause. He doth not force men to sin, but tempt church; and as ever thou hopest to see the face them to it, and leaves it to their own wills, wheof Christ the judge, and of the majesty of the ther they will do it or not. He doth not carry Father, with peace and comfort, to be received men to an ale-house, and force open their mouths, into glory, when thou art turned naked out of and pour in the drink; nor doth he bold them this world : I beseech thee, I charge thee to hear, that they cannot go to God's service, nor doth and obey the call of God, and resolutely to turn, he force their hearts from holy thoughts. It lies that thou mayest live. But if thou wilt not, even therefore between God himself and the sinner, when thou hast no true reason for it, but because one of them must needs be the principal cause thou wilt not; I summon thee, answer for it be- of all this misery, which ever it is ; for there is fore the Lord, and require thee there to bear no other to cast it upon. God disclaims it: me witness I gave thee warning, and that thou he will not take it upon him. The wicked diswert not condemned for want of a 'call to turn claim it usually, and they will not take it upon and live,' but because thou wouldst not believe them, and this is the controversy that is here it, and obey it ; which also must be the testimony managed in the text. of thy serious monitor,
The Lord complains of the people, and the RICHARD BAXTER. people think the fault is with God. They plainly
say, 'that the way of the Lord is not equal?
And God saith, it is their ways that are not "Sayunto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I equal.' So here they say, 'if our transgressions
have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in but that the wicked turn from his way, and them, how shall we then live ? As if they live : turn ye, turn ye, from your evil
should ways ;
say, if we must die and be miserable, how for why will ye die, O house of Israel.” can we help it? As if it were not owing to them, EZEK. xxxiii. 11.
but to God. But God, in my text, doth clear him
self of it, and tells them how they may help it It hath been the astonishing wonder of many if they will, and persuades them to use the a man, as well as me, to read in the holy scrip- means; and if they will not be persuaded, be tures how few will be saved, and that the great- lets them know that it is of themselves ; and if est part even of those that are called, will be for this will not satisfy them he will not therefore
forbear to punish them. It is he that will be I shall next speak somewhat of each of them in the judge, and he will judge them according to order, though very briefly. their ways, they are no judges of him, or of Doct. I. It is the unchangeable law of God, themselves, as wanting authority, wisdom and that wicked men must turn or die. impartiality ; nor is it their caviling and quarrel- If you will believe God, believe this ; there ing with God, that shall serve their turn, or save is but one of these two ways for every wicked them from the execution of justice against which man, either conversion or damnation. I know they murmur.
the wicked will hardly be persuaded either of The words of this verse contain, 1. God's the truth or equity of this. No wonder if the purgation of clearing himself from the blame of guilty quarrel with the law. Few men are apt their destruction. This he doth, not by disown- to believe that which they would not have to be ing his law, that the wicked shall die, nor by true; and fewer would have that to be true, disowning his judgments and execution accord- which they apprehend to be against them. But ing to that law, or giving them any hope that it is not quarreling with the law, or with the the law shall not be executed; but by profession, judge, that will save the malefactor : believing that it is not their death that he takes pleasure in, and regarding the law might have prevented his but their returning rather, that they may live: death ; but denying and accușing it, will but hasand this he confirms to them by his oath. 2. ten it. If it were not so, an hundred would An express exhortation to the wicked to return; bring their reasons against the law, for one that wherein God doth not only command, but per-would bring his reason to the law: and men suade and condescend also to reason the case would rather choose to give their reasons why with them, Why will they die? The direct end they should not be punished, than to hear the of this exhortation is, That they may turn and commands and reasons of their governors, which live. The secondary, or reserved ends, upon require them to obey. The law was not made supposition that this is not attained, are these for you to judge, but that you might be ruled two: First, To convince them by the means and judged by it. But if there be any so blind, which he used, that it is not the will of God, if as to venture to question either the truth or justhey be miserable. Secondly, To convince them, tice of the law of God, I shall briefly give you from their manifest wilfulness, in rejecting all his that evidence of both, which, methinks, would commands and persuasions, that it is of them- satisfy a reasonable man. And first, if you doubt selves ; and they die even because they will die. whether this be the word of God or not, besides
The substance of the text doth lie in these a hundred other texts, you may be satisfied by observations foilowing:
these few. Verily I say unto you, Except ye Doct. I. It is the unchangeable law of God, be converted, and become as little children, ye that wicked men must turn, or die.
cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.Doct. II. It is the promise of God, that the Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be wicked shall live, if they will but turn.
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. · Doct. III. God takes pleasure in men's con- -If a man be in Christ, he is a new creature : version and salvation, but not in their death or old things are passed away, behold all things are damnation : he had rather they would return and become new.-Ye have put off the old man live, than go on and die.
with his deeds, and have put on the new man, Doct. IV. This is a most certain truth, which which is renewed in knowledge, after the image because God would not have men to question, of him that created him.-Without holiness none he hath confirmed it to them solemnly by his shall see God.—So then, they that are in the oath.
flesh cannot please God. Now if any man have Doct. V. The Lord redoubles his commands not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. For and persuasions to the wicked to turn.
in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any Doct. VI. The Lord condescends to reason thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. the case with them, and asks the wicked why _According to his abundant grace, he hath bethey will die.
gotten us again to a lively hope.-Being born Doct. VII. If after all this, the wicked will again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptinot return, it is not the will of God that they ble, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth perish, but of themselves: their own wilfulness for ever.—Wherefore, laying aside all malice and is the cause of their damnation; they therefore all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evildie because they will die. Having laid the textspeakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere open before you, in these lain propositions, I milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.-
The wicked shall be turned into hell ; and all than the hopes or fears of everlasting things: as the nations that forget God.—And the Lord it is in case of temporal punishment. If a law were loveth the righteous, but the wicked his soul now made that the most heinous crimes should hateth
be punished with a hundred years' captivity, this As I need not stay to open these texts which might be of some efficacy, as being equal to our are so plain, so I think I need not add any more lives. But if there had been no other penalties of that multitude which speak the like: if thou before the food, when men lived eight or nine be a man that dost believe the word of God, here hundred years, it would not have been sufficient, is already enough to satisfy thee that the wicked because men would know that they might have must be converted or condemned. You are so many hundred years' impunity afterwards. already brought so far, that you must either con- So it is in our present case. fess that this is true, or say plainly, you will not Second, I suppose you will confess, that the believe the word of God. If once you are come promise of an endless and unconceivable glory to that pass, there is but small hopes of you : is not unsuitable to the wisdom of God, or the look to yourselves as well as you can; for it is case of man: and why then should you not likely you will not be long out of hell. You think so of the threatening of an endless and unwould be ready to fly in the face of him that speakable misery? should give you the lie: and yet dare you give Third, When you find it in the word of God the lie to God? But if you tell God plainly that so it is, and so it will be, do you think youryou will not believe him, blame him not if he selves fit to contradict this word? Will you never warn you more, or if he forsake you, and call your Maker to the bar, and examine his word give you up as hopeless : for, to what purpose upon the accusation of falsehood? Will you sit should he warn you, if you would not believe upon him and judge him by the law of your conhim, should he send an angel from heaven to ceits ? Are you wiser and better, and more you ; it seems you would not believe, for an righteous than he ? Must the God of heaven angel can speak but the word of God, but if an come to school to you to learn wisdom ; must inangel should bring you any other gospel, you are finite wisdom learn of folly; and infinite goodnot to receive it, but to hold him accursed; surely ness be corrected by an erring sinner, that canthere is no angel to be believed before the not keep himself an hour clean ? Must the AlSon of God, who came from the Father to bring mighty stand at the bar of a worm? O horrid is this doctrine. If he is not to be believed, arrogancy of senseless dust!
Where were you, then all the angels in heaven are not to be be- when the Almighty made the laws, that he did not lieved. If you stand on these terms with God, call you to his council ? Surely he made them I shall leave you till he deal with you in a more before you were born, without desiring your adconvincing way. God hath a voice that will / vice, and you came into the world too late to remake you hear ; though he intreat you to hear the verse them: if you could have done so great a voice of his gospel, he will make you hear the work, you should have stepped out of your novoice of his condemning sentence, without in- thingness, and have contradicted Christ when he treaty. We cannot make you believe against was on earth, or Moses before him, or have saved your wills, but God will make you feel against Adam and his sinful progeny from the threatening your wills. But let us hear what reason you death ; that so there might have been no need have, why you will not believe this word of God, of Christ. And what if God withdraw his pawhich tells us that the wicked must be converted tience and preservation, and let you drop into or condemned. I know your reason; it is be- hell while you are quarreling with his words, cause that you judge it unlikely that God should will you then believe that there is an hell ? be so unmerciful; you think it cruelty to damn Fourth, If sin be such an evil that it required the men everlastingly for so small a thing as a sinful death of Christ for its expiation, no wonder if it life. And this leads us to the second thing, deserve our everlasting misery. which is to justify the equity of God in his laws Fifth, If the sins of the devils deserved an end. and judgment.
less torment, why not also the sins of man ? First, I think you will not deny, but that it is Sixth, You should perceive that it is not possible most suitable to an immortal soul to be ruled by for the best of men, much less for the wicked, to laws that promise an immortal reward, and threat- be competent judges of the desert of sin. Alas, en an endless punishment. Otherwise, the law we are both blind and partial. You can never should not be suited to the nature of the subject; know fully the desert of sin till you fully know who will not be fully ruled by any lower means the evil of sin : and you can never fully know the evil of sin, till you fully know, 1. The excel- | see what you have to trust to. You are but lency of the soul which it deforms. 2. And dead and damned men, except you will be conthe excellency of holiness, which it obliterates. verted. Should I tell you otherwise I should 3. The reason and the excellency of the law deceive you with a lie. Should I hide this from which it violates. 4. The excellency of the you I should undo you, and be guilty of your glory which it despises. 5. The excellency blood, as the verses before my text assure me, and office of reason which it treads down. 6. When I say to the wicked man, O wicked man, No, nor till you know the infinite excellency, thou shalt surely die ; if thou dost not speak to alınightiness, and holiness of that God, against warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man whom it is committed. When you fully know shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I reall these, you shall fully know the desert of sin. quire at thine hand. You see then, though this Besides, you
know that the offender is too par- be a rough, unwelcome doctrine, it is such as we tial to judge the law, or the proceedings of this must preach, and you must hear. It is easier judge. We judge by feeling, which blinds onr to hear of hell than feel it. If your necessities reason. We see in common worldly things, that did not require it, we should not grate your tenmost men think the cause is right which is their der ears with truths that seem so harsh and grievown: and that all is wrong that is done against ous. Hell would not be so full, if people were them: and let the most wise, or just, impartial but willing to know their case, and to hear and friends, persuade them to the contrary, and it is think of it. The reason why so few escape it, is, all in vain. There are few children but think because they strive not to enter in at the strait the father unmerciful, or deals hardly with them, gate of conversion, and to go the narrow way if he whip them. There is scarcely the vilest of holiness while they have time, and they strive transgressor, but thinks the church doth wrong not, because they are not awakened to a lively him, if they excommunicate him; or scarcely a feeling of the danger they are in: and they are thief or murderer that is hanged, but would ac- not awakened, because they are loth to hear or cuse the law, and judge it cruelty, if that would think of it; and that is partly, through foolish serve his turn.
tenderness and carnal self-love ; and partly, beSeventh, Can you think that an unholy soul is cause they do not well believe the word that fit for heaven? Alas, they cannot love God here, threatens it. If you will not thoroughly believe nor do him any service which he can accept. They this truth, methinks the weight of it should force are contrary to God; they lothe that which he you to remember it, and it should follow you and most loves ; and love that which he abhors : give you no rest till you are converted. If you they are incapable of that imperfect communion had but once heard this word, by the voice of an with him which his saints here partake of. How angel, Thou must be converted or condemned : then can they live in that perfect love of him, turn or die! would it not sink into your mind, and and full delights and communion with him, which haunt you night and day? So that in your sinis the blessedness of heaven? You do not ac. ning you would remember it, as if the voice were cuse yourselves of unmercifulness, if you make still in your ears, Turn or die ! O happy were your not your enemy your bosom counsellor ; or if souls, if it might thus work with you, and never you take not an animal to bed and board with be forgotten, or let you alone till it hath driven you: no, nor if you take away his life, though home your hearts to God. But if you will cast it he never sinned: and yet will you blame the out by forgetfulness, or unbelief, how can it work absolute Lord, the most wise and gracious sover- to your conversion and salvation ? But take this eign of the world, if he condemn the unconverted with you, to your sorrow, though you may put man to perpetual misery.
this out of your minds, you cannot put it out of Use, I beseech you now, all that love your the bible ; but there it will stand as a sealed souls, that instead of quarreling with God, and truth, which you shall experimentally know for with his word, you will presently stoop to it, and ever, that there is no other way but turn or die. use it for your good. All you that are yet un- O what is the matter then that the hearts of converted in this assembly, take this as the un- sinners are not pierced with such a weighty truth! doubted truth of God, you must ere long be A man would think now that every unconverted converted or condemned, there is no other way soul that hears these words should be pricked to but turn or die. When God, that cannot lie, the heart, and think with themselves, This is my hath told you this, when you hear from the own case, and never be quiet till they found maker and judge of the world, it is time for him themselves converted. Believe it, this drowsy that hath ears to hear ; by this time you may I careless temper will not last long. Conversion
and condemnation, are both of them awakening behold the glorious majesty of the Lord, and to things: and one of them will make you feel ere praise him among his holy angels, to love him, long, I can foretell it as truly, as if I saw it with and be filled with his love for ever. As this my eyes, that either grace or hell, will shortly was the end that man was made for, so God did bring these matters to the quick, and make you give him means that were fitted to the attaining say, "What have I done; what foolish wicked of it. These means were principally two. First, courses have I taken?' The scornful and the The right inclination and disposition of the mind stupid state of sinners will last but a little while. of man. Secondly, The right ordering of his As soon as they either turn or die, the presump- life and practice. For the first, God suited the tuous dream will be at an end, and then their disposition of man unto his end; giving him wits and feeling will return.
such knowledge of God, as was fit for his preBut I foresee there are two things that are sent state, and an heart disposed and inclined to like to harden the unconverted, and make me God in holy love. But yet he did not fix or lose all my labour, except they can be taken out confirm him in this condition ; but having made of the way: and that is, the misunderstand- him a free agent, he left him in the hands of his ing of those two words the wicked and turn. own free will. For the second, God did that Some will think with themselves, It is true, the which belonged to him ; that is, he gave man a wicked must turn or die: but what is that to me? perfect law requiring him to continue in the love I am not wicked, though I am a sinner, as all of God, and perfectly to obey him. By the wil.
Others will think, It is true that we ful breach of this law, man did not only forfeit must turn from our evil ways; but I am turned his hopes of everlasting life, but also turned his long ago, I hope this is not now to do. Thus, heart from God, and fixed it on these lower while wicked men think they are not wicked, fleshly things, and hereby did blot out the spiritbut are already converted, we lose all our labour ual image of God from his soul. So that man in persuading them to turn. I shall therefore, did both fall short of the glory of God, which before I go any further, tell you here who are was his end, and put himself out of the way, by meant by the wicked, and who they are that must which he should have attained it; and this, both turn or die, and also what is meant by turning; as to the frame of his heart, and of his life. The and who they are that are truly converted; this holy inclination and love of his soul to God, he I have purposely reserved for this place, prefer- lost; and instead of it, he contracted an inclinaring the method that fits my end.
tion and love to the pleasing of his flesh, or carAnd here you may observe, that in the nal self, hy earthly things! Growing strange to sense of the text, a wicked man and a con- God, and acquainted with the creature : the, verted man are contraries. No man is a wicked course of his life was suited to the bent and inman that is converted, and no man is a converted clination of his heart ; he lived to his carnal self, man that is wicked : so that to be a wicked and not to God: he sought the creature for the man and to be an unconverted man, is all pleasing of his flesh, instead of seeking to please And therefore in opening one, we shall the Lord. With this nature or corrupt inclina
tion, we are all now born into the world; for Before I can tell you what either wickedness - who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? or conversion is, I must go to the bottom, and As a lion hath a fierce and cruel nature before fetch
he doth devour, and as an adder hạth a. venomIt pleased the great Creator of the world, to ous nature before it stings, so in our very
infanmake three sorts of living creatures ; angels he cy we have those sinful natures or inclinations, made pure spirits, without flesh, and therefore he before we think, or speak, or do amiss. Hence made them only for heaven and not to dwell on springs all the sin of our lives. Not only so, earth. Beasts were made flesh, without immor- but when God hath of his mercy provided us a tal souls ; and therefore they were made only remedy, even the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the for earth, and not for heaven. Man is of a mid- Saviour of our souls, and bring us back to God dle nature, between both, as partaking of both again, we naturally love our present state, and flesh and spirit: therefore he was made both for are loth to be brought out of it, and therefore heaven and earth. But as his Aesh is made to are set against the means of our recovery: be but a servant to his spirit, so is he made for though custom hath taught us to thank Christ earth; but as his passage, or way to heaven, and for his good will, yet carnal self persuades us to not that this should be his home or happiness. refuse his remedies, and to desire to be ex. The blessed state that man was made for, was to cused when we are commanded to take the