« 이전계속 »
be said to eat his own flesh, much more the malicious, or envious. His soul is the very type of hell, full of torment as well as wickedness. He hath already the worm that never dieth, and he is hastening to the fire that never can be quenched. Only as yet the great gulf is not fixed between him and heaven. As yet there is a Spirit ready to help his infirmities; who is still willing, if he stretch out his hands to heaven and bewail his ignorance and misery, to purify his heart from vile affections, and to renew it in the love of God, and so lead him by present, up to eternal happiness.
Secondly Without love, nothing can make death comfortable. By comfortable, I do not mean stupid, or senseless. I would not say, he died comfortably, who died of an apoplexy, or, by the shot of a cannon; any more than he who, having his conscience seared, died as unconcerned as the beasts that perish. Neither do I believe that you would envy any one the comfort of dying raving mad. But by a comfortable death, I mean, a calm passage out of life, full of even, rational peace and joy. And such a death, all the acting, and all the suffering in the world, cannot give, without love.
To make this still more evident, I cannot appeal to your own experience; but I may to what we have seen, and to the experience of others. And two I have myself seen going out of this life in what I call a comfortable manner; though not with equal comfort. One had evidently more comfort than the other, because he had more Love.
I attended the first, during a great part of his last trial, as well as when he yielded up his soul to God. He cried out, "God doth chasten me with strong pain, but I thank him for all; I bless him for all; I love him for all!" When asked, not long before his release, "Are the consolations of God small with you?" He replied aloud, "No, no, no!" Calling all that were near him by their names, he said, "Think of heaven, talk of heaven: all the time is lost when we are not thinking of heaven." Now this was the voice of love. And so far as that prevailed, all was
comfort, peace, and joy. But as his love was not perfect, so neither was his comfort. He had intervals of fretfulness, and therein of misery. Giving by both an incontestable proof, that love can sweeten both life and death. So when that is either absent from, or obscured in the soul, there is no peace or comfort there.
It was in this place, I saw the other good soldier of Jesus Christ grappling with his last enemy death. And it was, indeed, a spectacle worthy to be seen of God, and angels, and men. Some of his last breath was spent in a Psalm of praise, to him who was then giving him the victory; in assurance whereof he began the triumph, even in the heat of the battle. When he was asked, "Hast thou the love of God in thy heart?" He lifted up his eyes and hands, and answered, "Yes, yes;" with all the strength he had left. To one who inquired, if he was afraid of the devil, whom he had just mentioned as making his last attack upon him, he replied, "No, no: my loving Saviour hath conquered every enemy: he is with me; I fear nothing." Soon after, he said, "The way to my loving Saviour is sharp, but it is short." Nor was it long before he fell into a sort of slumber, wherein his soul sweetly returned to God that gave it.
Here we may observe, was no mixture of any passion or temper contrary to love: therefore, there was no misery; perfect love casting out whatever might have occasioned torment. And whosoever thou art, that hast the like measure of love, thy last end shall be like his.
ON PUBLIC DIVERSIONS.
AMOS III. 6.
"Shall the Trumpet be blown in the City, and the People not be afraid? Shall there be evil in the City, and the Lord hath not done it ?"
IT is well if there are not too many here, who are nearly concerned in these words of the Prophet; the plain sense of which seems to be this: Are there any men in the world so stupid and senseless, so utterly void of common reason, so careless of their own and their neighbours safety or destruction, as when an alarm of approaching judgments is given, to shew no signs of apprehension? To take no care in order to prevent them, but go on as securely as if no alarm had been given? Do not all men know, that whatsoever evil befalls them, it befalls them either by God's permission, or by his appointment? And that he designs every evil of this life to warn men to avoid still greater evils? That he suffers these lighter marks of his displeasure to awaken mankind, so that they may shun his everlasting vengeance, and be timely advised by feeling a part of it, so to change their ways, that his whole displeasure may not arise ?
I intend, speaking on this subject, to shew, First, That there is no Evil in any place, but the Hand of the Lord is in it.
Secondly, That every uncommon Evil is the Trumpet of God, blown in that place, so that the people may take warning.
Thirdly, To consider, whether, after God hath blown his trumpet in this place, we have been duly afraid.
I am First to shew, in few words, that there is no evil in any place but the hand of the Lord is therein. No evil, that is, no affliction or calamity, whether of a public or of a private nature, whether it concerns only one, or a few persons, or reaches to many, or to all of that place where it comes. Whatever circumstance occasions loss or pain to any man, or number of men, may in that respect be called an evil; and of such evils the Prophet speaks in these words.
Of such evils, we are to believe, that they never happen but by the knowledge and permission of God. And of every such evil we may say, that the Lord hath done it, either by his own immediate power, by the strength of his own right hand, or by commanding, or else suffering it to be done, by those his servants that do his pleasure. For the Lord is King, be the people never so impatient: Yea, the Great King of all the earth. Whatsoever, therefore, is done in all the earth, (sin only excepted,) he doeth it himself. The Lord God Omnipotent still reigneth, and all things are so subject unto him, that his will must be done, whether we agree to it or not; as in heaven, so also upon earth. Not only his blessed angels, but all things serve him in all places of his dominion: those wicked spirits which rule the darkness of this world, and those men who are like them, he rules by constraint. The senseless and brute parts of the creation, by nature; and those men who are like God by choice. But however it be, with, or without their own choice, they all act in obedience to his will: and particularly so, when in judgment, he still remembers mercy, and permits a smaller evil, that he may prevent a
greater. Then, at least, we are to acknowledge the hand of God in whatsoever instruments he makes use of. It makes little difference, whether he executes his purpose by the powers of heaven or of heaven or hell, or by the mistakes, carelessness, or malice of men. If a destroying angel marches forth against a town or a country, it is God who impowers him to destroy. If bad men distress one or more of their fellow-creatures, the ungodly are a sword of his. If fire, hail, wind, or storm, be let loose upon the earth, yet they only fulfil his word. So certain it is, that there is no evil in any place which the Lord, in this sense, hath not done.
I am to prove, Secondly, That every uncommon evil is the trumpet of God, blown in that place where it comes, that the people may take warning.
Every private affliction is doubtless the voice of God, whereby he calls upon that person to flee to him for succour. But if any extraordinary affliction occurs, especially when many persons are concerned in it, we may not only say, That in this God speaks to us, but that the God of glory thundereth. This voice of the Lord is in power! This voice of the Lord is full of Majesty! This demands the deepest attention of all to whom it comes. This loudly claims the most serious consideration; not only of those to whom it is peculiarly sent, but of all those who are round about them. This, like a voice from heaven, commands, that all people should be afraid, should tremble at the presence of God! That every one should feel and shew that religious fear, that sacred awe of the Majesty of God, which is both the beginning and perfection of wisdom. That fear which should make them haste to do whatsoever the Lord their God commands them, and careful not to turn aside from it to the right hand or the left.
It is needless to use many words to prove this, after what has been proved already. For if there be no evil in any place which the Lord hath not done, and if he doth not willingly send evil on any place, but only to warn them to avoid greater evils, then it is plain, That wherever any evil is, it is the trumpet of God blown in that place, to the end