THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL,
UNSPEAKABLENESS 0F THE LOSS THEREOF;
WITH THE CAUSES OF THE LOSING IT
FIRST PREACHED AT PINNER'S HALL and now ENLARGED AND PUBLISHED FOR GOOD.
By JOHN BUNYAN
London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop,
at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1682
Faithfully reprinted from the Author's First Edition.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
Our curiosity is naturally excited to discover what a poor, unlettered mechanic, whose book-learning had been limited to the contents of one volume, could by possibility know upon a subject so abstruse, so profound, and so highly metaphysical, as that of the Soul—its greatness—and the inconceivableness of its loss. Heathen philosophers, at the head of whose formidable array stand Plato and Aristotle, had exhausted their wit, and had not made the world a whit the wiser by all their lucubrations. The fathers plunged into the subject, and increased the confusion; we are confounded with their subtle distinctions, definitions, and inquiries; such as that attributed to St. Aquinas, How many disembodied spirits could dance upon the point of a fine needle without jostling each other? Learned divines had puzzled themselves and their hearers with suppositions and abstract principles. What, then, could a travelling brasier, or tinker, have discovered to excite the attention of the Christian world, and to become a teacher to philosophers, fathers, and learned divines? Bunyan found no access to the polluted streams of a vain philosophy; he went at once to the fountain-head; and, in the pure light of Revelation, displays the human soul—infinitely great in value, although in a fallen state. He portrays it as drawn by the unerring hand of its Maker. He sets forth, by the glass of God's Word, the inconceivableness of its value, while progressing through time; and, aided by the same wondrous glass, he penetrates the eternal world, unveils the joys of heaven and the torments of hell—so far as they are revealed by the Holy Ghost, and are conceivable to human powers. While he thus leads us to some kind of estimate of its worth, he, from the same source—the only source from whence such knowledge can be derived, makes known the causes of the loss of the soul, and leads his trembling readers to the only name under heaven given among men, whereby they can be saved. In attempting to conceive the greatness and value of the soul, the importance of the body is too often overlooked. The body, it is true, is of the earth; the soul is the breath of God. The body is the habitation; the soul is the inhabitant. The body returns to the dust; while the soul enters into the intermediate state, waiting to be re-united to the body after its new creation, when death shall be swallowed up of life. In these views, the soul appears to be vastly superior to the body. But let it never be forgotten, that, as in this life, so it will be in the everlasting state; the body and soul are so intimately connected as to become one being, capable of exquisite happiness, or existing in the pangs of everlasting death. He who felt and wrote as Bunyan does in this solemn treatise, and whose tongue was as the pen of a ready writer, must have been wise and successful in winning souls to Christ. He felt their infinite value, he knew their strong and their weak points, their riches and poverty. He was intimate with every street and lane in the town of Man-soul, and how and where the subtle Diabolians shifted about to hide themselves in the walls, and holes, and corners. He sounds the alarm, and plants his engines against 'the eye as the window, and the ear as the door, for the soul to look out at, and to receive in by.' He detects the wicked in speaking with his feet, and teaching with his fingers. His illustration of the punishment of a sinner, as set forth by the sufferings of the Saviour, is peculiarly striking. The attempt to describe the torments of those who suffer under the awful curse, 'Go ye wicked,' is awfully and intensely vivid.
Bunyan most earnestly exhorts the distressed sinner to go direct to the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, and not to place confidence in those who pretend to be his ministers; but 'who are false shepherds, in so many ugly guises, and under so many false and scandalous dresses;' 'take heed of that shepherd that careth not for his own soul, that walketh in ways, and doth such things, as have a direct tendency to damn his own soul; come not near him. He that feeds his own soul with ashes, will scarce feed thee with the bread of life.' Choose Christ to be thy chief Shepherd, sit at his feet, and learn of him and he will direct thee to such as shall feed thy soul with knowledge and understanding.
Reader, let me no longer keep thee upon the threshold but enter upon this important treatise with earnest prayer; and may the blessed Spirit enable us to live under a sense of the greatness of the soul, the unspeakableness of the loss thereof, the causes of losing it, and the only way in which its salvation can he found.
Hackney, April 1850
THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL,
AND UNSPEAKABLENESS OF
THE LOSS THEREOF
'OR WHAT SHALL A MAN GIVE IN
EXCHANGE FOR HIS SOUL?' —MARK 8:37.
I HAVE chosen at this time to handle these words among you, and that for several reasons:—
l. Because the soul, and the salvation of it, are such great, such wonderful great things; nothing is a matter of that concern as is, and should be, the soul of each one of you. House and land, trades and honours, places and preferments, what are they to salvation? to the salvation of the soul?
2. Because I perceive that this so great a thing, and about which persons should be so much concerned, is neglected to amazement, and that by the most of men; yea, who is there of the many thousands that sit daily under the sound of the gospel that are concerned, heartily concerned, about the salvation of their souls?—that is, concerned, I say, as the nature of the thing requireth. If ever a lamentation was fit to be taken up in this age about, for, or concerning anything, it is about, for, and concerning the horrid neglect that everywhere puts forth itself with reference to salvation. Where is one man in a thousand—yea, where is there two of ten thousand that do show by their conversation, public and private, that the soul, their own souls, are considered by them, and that they are taking that care for the salvation of them as becomes them—to wit, as the weight of the work, and the nature of salvation requireth?
3. I have therefore pitched upon this text at this time; to see, if peradventure the discourse which God shall help me to make upon it, will awaken you, rouse you off your beds of ease, security, and pleasure, and fetch you down upon your knees before Him, to beg of Him grace to be concerned about the salvation of your souls. And then, in the last place, I have taken upon me to do this, that I may deliver, if not you, yet myself, and that I may be clear of your blood, and stand quit, as to you, before God, when you shall, for neglect, be damned, and wail to consider that you have lost your souls. 'When I say,' saith God, 'unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou,' the prophet or preacher, 'givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not front his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul' (Eze 3:18, 19).
'Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'
In my handling of these words, I shall first speak to the occasion of them, and then to the words themselves.
The occasion of the words was, for that the people that now were auditors to the Lord Jesus, and that followed him, did it without that consideration as becomes so great a work—that is, the generality of them that followed Him were not for considering first with themselves, what it was to profess Christ, and what that profession might cost them.
'And when he had called the people unto him,' the great multitude that went with him (Luke14:25) 'with his disciples also, he said unto them, 'Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34). Let him first sit down and count up the cost, and the charge he is like to be at, if he follows me. For following of me is not like following of some other masters. The wind sits always on my face, and the foaming rage of the sea of this world, and the proud and lofty waves thereof, do continually beat upon the sides of the bark of the ship that myself, my cause, and my followers are in; he therefore that will not run hazards, and that is afraid to venture a drowning, let him not set foot into this vessel. So whosever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, he cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it (Luke 14:27-29).
True, to reason, this kind of language tends to cast water upon weak and beginning desires, but to faith, it makes the things set before us, and the greatness, and the glory of them, more apparently excellent and desirable. Reason will say, Then who will profess Christ that hath such coarse entertainment at the beginning? but faith will say, Then surely the things that are at the end of a Christian's race in this world must needs be unspeakably glorious; since whoever hath had but the knowledge and due consideration of them, have not stuck to run hazards, hazards of every kind, that they might embrace and enjoy them. Yea, saith faith, it must needs be so, since the Son himself, that best knew what they were, even, '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' (Heb 12:2).
But, I say, there is not in every man this knowledge of things and so by consequence not such consideration as can make the cross and self-denial acceptable to them for the sake of Christ, and of the things that are where He now sitteth at the right hand of God (Col 3:2-4). Therefore our Lord Jesus doth even at the beginning give to His followers this instruction. And lest any of them should take distaste at His saying, He presenteth them with the consideration of three things together—namely, the cross, the loss of life, and the soul; and then reasoneth with them from the same, saying, Here is the cross, the life, and the soul.
1. The cross, and that you must take up, if you will follow Me.
2. The life, and that you may save for a time, if you cast Me off.
3. And the soul, which will everlastingly perish if you come not to Me, and abide not with Me.
Now consider what is best to be done. Will you take up the cross, come after Me, and so preserve your souls from perishing? or will you shun the cross to save your lives, and so run the danger of eternal damnation? Or, as you have it in John, will you love your life till you lose it? or will you hate your life, and save it? 'He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal' (John 12:25). As who should say, He that loveth a temporal life, he that so loveth it, as to shun the profession of Christ to save it, shall lose it upon a worse account, than if he had lost it for Christ and the gospel; but he that will set light by it, for the love that he hath to Christ, shall keep it unto life eternal.
Christ having thus discoursed with His followers about their denying of themselves, their taking up their cross and following of Him, doth, in the next place, put the question to them, and so leaveth it upon them for ever, saying, 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' (Mark 8:36). As who should say, I have bid you take heed that you do not lightly, and without due consideration, enter into a profession of Me and of My gospel; for he that without due consideration shall begin to profess Christ, will also without it forsake Him, turn from Him, and cast Him behind his back; and since I have even at the beginning, laid the consideration of the cross before you, it is because you should not be surprised and overtaken by it unawares, and because you should know that to draw back from Me after you have laid your hand to My plough, will make you unfit for the kingdom of heaven (Luke 9:62).
Now, since this is so, there is no less lies at stake than salvation, and salvation is worth all the world, yea, worth ten thousand worlds, if there should be so many. And since this is so also, it will be your wisdom to begin to profess the gospel with expectation of the cross and tribulation, for to that are my gospellers in this world appointed (James 1:12; 1 Thess 3:3). And if you begin thus, and hold it, the kingdom and crown shall be yours; for as God counteth it a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, so to you who are troubled and endure it (for 'we count them happy,' says James, 'that endure,' (James 5:11), rest with saints, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel, etc. (2 Thess 1:7, 8). And if no less lies at stake than salvation, then is a man's soul and his all at the stake; and if it be so, what will it profit a man if, by forsaking of Me, he should get the whole world? 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'
Having thus laid the soul in one balance, and the world in the other, and affirmed that the soul out-bids the whole world, and is incomparably for value and worth beyond it; in the next place, he descends to a second question, which is that I have chosen at this time for my text, saying, 'Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'
In these words, we have first a supposition, and such an one as standeth upon a double bottom. The supposition is this—That the soul is capable of being lost; or thus—'Tis possible for a man to lose his soul. The double bottom that this supposition is grounded upon is, first, a man's ignorance of the worth of his soul, and of the danger that it is in; and the second is, for that men commonly do set a higher price upon present ease and enjoyments than they do upon eternal salvation. The last of these doth naturally follow upon the first; for if men be ignorant of the value and worth of their souls, as by Christ in the verse before is implied, what should hinder but that men should set a higher esteem upon that with which their carnal desires are taken, than upon that about which they are not concerned, and of which they know not the worth.
But again, as this by the text is clearly supposed, so to here is also something implied; namely, that it is impossible to possess some men with the worth of their souls until they are utterly and everlastingly lost. 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' That is, men when their souls are lost, and shut down under the hatches in the pits and hells in endless perdition and destruction, then they will see the worth of their souls, then they will consider what they have lost, and truly not till then. This is plain, not only to sense, but by the natural scope of the words, 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' Or what would not those that are now for sin, made to see themselves lost, by the light of hell fire—for some will never be convinced that they are lost till, with rich Dives, they see it in the light of hell flames (Luke 16:22, 23). I say, what would not such, if they had it, give in exchange for their immortal souls, or to recover them again from that place and torment?
I shall observe two truths in the words.
The first is, That the loss of the soul is the highest, the greatest loss—a loss that can never be repaired or made up. 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'—that is, to recover or redeem his lost soul to liberty?
The second truth is this, That how unconcerned and careless soever some now be, about the loss or salvation of their souls, yet the day is coming; but it will then be too late, when men will be willing, had they never so much, to give it all in exchange for their souls. For so the question implies—'What will a man give in exchange for his soul?' What would he not give? What would he not part with at that day, the day in which he will see himself damned, if he had it, in exchange for his soul?
The first observation, or truth, drawn from the words is cleared by the text, 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'—that is, there is not anything, nor all the things under heaven, were they all in one man's hand, and all at his disposal, that would go in exchange for the soul, that would be of value to fetch back one lost soul, or that would certainly recover it from the confines of hell. 'The redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever' (Psa 49:8). And what saith the words before the text but the same—'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' What shall profit a man that has lost his soul? Nothing at all, though he hath by that loss gained the whole world; for all the world is not worth a sou1, not worth a soul in the eye of God and judgment of the law. And it is from this consideration that good Elihu cautioneth Job to take heed, 'Because there is wrath,' saith he, ' beware lest He take thee away with His stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee. Will He esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength' (Job 36:18,19). Riches and power, what is there more in the world? for money answereth all things—that is, all but soul concerns. It can neither be a price for souls while here, nor can that, with all the forces of strength, recover one out of hell fire.
So then, the first truth drawn from the words stands firm—namely,
That the loss of the soul is the highest, the greatest loss; a loss that can never be repaired or made up.
In my discourse upon this subject, I shall observe this method:—
FIRST, I shall show you what the soul is.
SECOND, I shall show you the greatness of it.
THIRD, I shall show you what it is to lose the soul.
FOURTH, I shall show you the cause for which men lose their souls; and by this time the greatness of the loss will be manifest.
[WHAT THE SOUL IS.]
FIRST, I shall show you what the soul is, both as to the various names it goes under, as also, by describing of it by its powers and properties, though in all I shall be but brief, for I intend no long discourse.
[Names of the Soul.]
1. The soul is often called the heart of man, or that, in and by which things to either good or evil, have their rise; thus desires are of the heart or soul; yea, before desires, the first conception of good or evil is in the soul, the heart. The heart understands, wills, affects, reasons, judges, but these are the faculties of the soul; wherefore, heart and soul are often taken for one and the same. ' My son, give me thine heart' (Prov 23:26). 'Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,' etc. (Matt 15:19; 1 Peter 3:15; Psa 26:2).
2. The soul of man is often called the spirit of a man; because it not only giveth being, but life to all things and actions in and done by him. Hence soul and spirit are put together, as to the same notion. 'With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early' (Isa 26:9). When he saith, 'Yea, with my spirit - will I seek thee,' he explaineth not only with what kind of desires he desired God, but with what principal matter his desires were brought forth. It was with my soul, saith he; to wit, with my spirit within me. So that of Mary, 'My soul,' saith she, 'doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour' (Luke 1:46,47). Not that soul and spirit are, in this place, to be taken for two superior powers in man; but the same great soul is here put under two names, or terms, to show that it was the principal part in Mary; to wit, her soul, that magnified God, even that part that could spirit and put life into her whole self to do it. Indeed, sometimes spirit is not taken so largely, but is confined to some one power or faculty of the soul, as 'the spirit of my understanding,' (Job 20:3) ' and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.' And sometime by spirit we are to understand other things; but many times by spirit we must understand the soul, and also by soul the spirit.
3. Therefore, by soul we understand the spiritual, the best, and most noble part of man, as distinct from the body, even that by which we understand, imagine, reason, and discourse. And, indeed, as I shall further show you presently, the body is but a poor, empty vessel, without this great thing called the soul. 'The body without the spirit,' or soul, 'is dead' (James 2:26). Or nothing but (her soul departed from her, for she died). It is, therefore, the chief and most noble part of man.
4. The soul is often called the life of man, not a life of the same stamp and nature of the brute; for the life of man—that is, of the rational creature—is, that, as he is such, wherein consisteth and abideth the understanding and conscience etc. Wherefore, then, a man dieth, or the body ceaseth to act, or live in the exercise of the thoughts, which formerly used to be in him, when the soul departeth, as I hinted even now—her soul departed from her, for she died; and, as another good man saith, 'in that very day his thoughts perish,' etc. (Psa 146:4). The first text is more emphatical; Her soul was in departing (for she died). There is the soul of a beast, a bird, etc., but the soul of a man is another thing; it is his understanding, and reason, and conscience, etc. And this soul, when it departs, he dies. Nor is this life, when gone out of the body, annihilate, as is the life of a beast; no, this, in itself, is immortal, and has yet a place and being when gone out of the body it dwelt in; yea, as quick, as lively is it in its senses, if not far more abundant, than when it was in the body; but I call it the life, because so long as that remains in the body, the body is not dead. And in this sense it is to be taken where he saith 'He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it' unto life eternal; and this is the soul that is intended in the text, and not the breath, as in some other places is meant. And this is evident, because the man has a being, a sensible being, after he has lost the soul. I mean not by the man a man in this world, nor yet in the body, or in the grave; but by man we must understand, either the soul in hell, or body and soul there, after the judgment is over. And for this the text, also, is plain, for therein we are presented with a man sensible of the damage that he has sustained by losing of his soul. 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' But,
5. The whole man goeth under this denomination; man, consisting of body and soul, is yet called by that part of himself that is most chief and principal. ' Let every soul,' that is, let every man, 'be subject unto the higher powers' (Rom 13:1). 'Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, three-score and fifteen souls (Acts 7:14). By both these, and several other places, the whole man is meant, and is also so to be taken in the text; for whereas here he saith, 'What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' It is said elsewhere, 'For what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?' (Luke 9:25) and so, consequently, or, 'What shall a man give in exchange (for himself) for his soul?' His soul when he dies, and body and soul in and after judgment.
6. The soul is called the good man's darling. 'Deliver,' Lord, saith David, 'my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog' (Psa 22:20). So, again, in another place, he saith, 'Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the [power of the] lions' (Psa 35:17). My darling—this sentence must not be applied universally, but only to those in whose eyes their souls, and the redemption thereof, is precious. My darling—most men do, by their actions, say of their soul, 'my drudge, my slave; nay, thou slave to the devil and sin; for what sin, what lust, what sensual and beastly lust is there in the world that some do not cause their souls to bow before and yield unto? But David, here, as you see, calls it his darling, or his choice and most excellent thing; for, indeed, the soul is a choice thing in itself, and should, were all wise, be every man's darling, or chief treasure. And that it might be so with us, therefore, our Lord Jesus hath thus expressed the worth of the soul, saying, 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' But if this is true, one may see already what misery he is like to sustain that has, or shall lose his soul; he has lost his heart, his spirit, his best part, his life, his darling, himself, his whole self, and so, in every sense, his all. And now, 'what shall a man,' what would a man, but what can a man that has lost his soul, himself, and his all, 'give in exchange for his soul?' Yea, what shall the man that has sustained this loss do to recover all again, since this man, or the man put under this question, must needs be a man that is gone from hence, a man that is cast in the judgment, and one that is gone down the throat of hell?
But to pass this, and to proceed.
[Powers and Properties of the Soul.]
I come next to describe the soul unto you by such things as it is set out by in the Holy Scriptures, and they are, in general, three—First, The powers of the soul. Second, The senses, the spiritual senses of the soul. Third, The passions of the soul.
Of the powers of the soul.
First, We will discourse of the powers, I may call them the members of the soul; for, as the members of the body, being many, do all go to the making up of the body, so these do go to the completing of the soul.
1. There is the understanding, which may be termed the head; because in that is placed the eye of the soul; and this is that which, or by which the soul, discerning things that are presented to it, and that either by God or Satan; this is that by which a man conceiveth and apprehendeth things so deep and great that cannot, by mouth, or tongue, or pen, be expressed.
2. There is, also, belonging to the soul, the conscience, in which I may say, is placed the Seat of Judgment; for, as by the understanding things are let into the soul, so by the conscience the evil or good of such things are tried; especially when in the
3. Third place, there is the judgment, which is another part of this noble creature, has passed, by the light of the understanding, his verdict upon what is let into the soul.
4. There is, also, the fancy or imagination, another part of this great thing, the sou1: and a most curious thing this fancy is; it is that which presenteth to the man the idea, form, or figure of that, or any of those things, wherewith a man is either frighted or taken, pleased or displeased. And,
5. The mind, another part of the soul, is that unto which this fancy presenteth its things to be considered of; because without the mind nothing is entertained in the soul.
6. There is the memory too, another part of the soul; and that may be called the register of the soul; for it is the memory that receiveth and keepeth in remembrance what has passed, or has been done by the man, or attempted to be done unto him; and in this part of the soul, or from it, will be fed 'the worm that dieth not,' when men are cast into hell; also, from this memory will flow that peace at the day of judgment that saints shall have in their service for Christ in the world.
7. There are the affections too, which are, as I may call them, the hands and arms of the soul; for they are they that take hold of, receive, and embrace what is liked by the soul, and it is a hard thing to make the soul of a man cast from it what its affections cleave to and have embraced. Hence the affections are called for, when the apostle bids men ' seek the things above; set your affections upon them,' saith he (Col 3), or, as you have it in another place, 'Lay hold' of them; for the affections are as hands to the soul, and they by which it fasteneth upon things.
8. There is the will, which may be called the foot of the soul, because by that the soul, yea, the whole man, is carried hither and thither, or else held back and kept from moving.
These are the golden things of the soul, though, in carnal men, they are every one of them made use of in the service of sin and Satan. For the unbelieving are throughout impure, as is manifest, because their 'mind and conscience (two of the masterpieces of the soul) is defiled' (Titus 1:15). For if the most potent parts of the soul are engaged in their service, what, think you, do the more inferior do? But, I say, so it is the more is the pity; nor can any help it. 'This work ceaseth for ever,' unless the great God, who is over all, and that can save souls, shall himself take upon him to sanctify the soul, and to recover it, and persuade it to fall in love with another master.
But, I say, what is man without this soul, or wherein lieth this pre-eminence over a beast? (Eccl 3:19-21). Nowhere that I know of; for both, as to man's body, go to one place, only the spirit or soul of a man goes upward—to wit, to God that gave it, to be by Him disposed of with respect to things to come, as they have been, and have done in this life, But,
Of the senses of the soul.
Second, I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by its senses, its spiritual senses, for so I call them; for as the body hath senses pertaining to it, and as it can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste, so can the soul; I call, therefore, these the senses of the soul, in opposition to the senses of the body, and because the soul is the seat of all spiritual sense, where supernatural things are known and enjoyed; not that the soul of a natural man is spiritual in the apostle's sense, for so none are, but those that are born from above (1 Cor 3:1-3) nor they so always neither. But to go forward.
1. Can the body see? hath it eyes? so hath the soul. 'The eyes of your understanding being enlightened' (Eph 1:18). As, then, the body can see beasts, trees, men, and all visible things, so the soul can see God, Christ, angels, heaven, devils, hell, and other things that are invisible; nor is this property only peculiar to the souls that are illuminate by the Holy Ghost, for the most carnal soul in the world shall have a time to see these things, but not to its comfort, but not to its joy , but to its endless woe and misery, it dying in that condition. Wherefore, sinner, say not thou, 'I shall not see Him; for judgment is before Him,' and He will make thee see Him (Job 35:14).
2. Can the body hear? hath it ears? so hath the soul (Job 4:12,13). It is the soul, not the body, that hears the language of things invisible. It is the soul that hears God when He speaks in and by His Word and Spirit; and it is the soul that hears the devil when he speaks by his illusions and temptations. True, there is such an union between the soul and the body, that ofttimes, if not always, that which is heard by the ears of the body doth influence the soul, and that which is heard by the soul doth also influence the body; but yet as to the organ of hearing, the body hath one of its own, distinct from that of the soul, and the soul can hear and regard even then, when the body doth not nor cannot; as in time of sleep, deep sleep and trances, when the body lieth by as a thing that is useless. 'For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man, (as to his body) perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,' etc. (Job 33:14-16). This must be meant of the ears of the soul, not of the body; for that at this time is said to be in deep sleep; moreover this hearing, it is a hearing of dreams, and the visions of the night. Jeremiah also tells us that he had the rare and blessed visions of God in his sleep (Jer 21:26). And so doth Daniel too, by the which they were greatly comforted and refreshed; but that could not be, was not the soul also capable of hearing. 'I heard the voice of His words,' said Daniel, 'and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground' (Dan 10:8,9).
3. As the soul can see and hear, so it can taste and relish, even as really as doth the palate belonging to the body. But then the things so tasted must be that which is suited to the temper and palate of the soul. The soul's taste lieth not in, nor is exercised about meats, the meats that are for the belly. Yet the soul of a saint can taste and relish God's Word (Heb 6:5), and doth ofttimes find it sweeter than honey (Psa 19:10) nourishing as milk (1 Peter 2:2), and strengthening like to strong meat (Heb 5:12-14). The soul also of sinners, and of those that are unsanctified, can taste and relish, though not the things now mentioned, yet things that agree with their fleshly minds, and with their polluted, and defiled, and vile affections. They can relish and taste that which delighteth them; yea, they can find soul-delight in an alehouse, a whorehouse, a playhouse. Ay, they find pleasure in the vilest things, in the things most offensive to God, and that are most destructive to themselves. This is evident to sense, and is proved by the daily practice of sinners. Nor is the Word barren as to this: They 'feed on ashes' (Isa 44:20). They 'spend their money for that which is not bread' (Isa 55:2). Yea, they eat and suck sweetness out of sin. 'They eat up the sin of My people' as they eat bread (Hosea 4:8).
4. As the soul can see, hear, and taste, so it can smell, and brings refreshment to itself that way. Hence the church saith, 'My fingers dropped with sweet-smelling myrrh;' and again, she saith of her beloved, that 'his lips dropped sweet-smelling-myrrh' (Song 5:5,13). But how came the church to understand this, but because her soul did smell that in it that was to be smelled in it, even in his word and gracious visits? The poor world, indeed, cannot smell, or savour anything of the good and fragrant scent and sweet that is in Christ; but to them that believe, 'Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee' (Song 1:3).
5. As the soul can see, taste, hear, and smell, so it hath the sense of feeling, as quick and as sensible as the body. He knows nothing that knows not this; he whose soul is 'past feeling,' has his 'conscience seared with a hot iron' (Eph 4:18, 19; 1 Tim 4:2). Nothing so sensible as the soul, nor feeleth so quickly the love and mercy, or the anger and wrath of God. Ask the awakened man, or the man that is under the convictions of the law, if he doth not feel? and he will quickly tell you that he faints and dies away by reason of God's hand, and His wrath that lieth upon him. Read the first eight verses of the 38th Psalm; if thou knowest nothing of what I have told thee by experience; and there thou shalt hear the complaints of one whose soul lay at present under the burden of guilt, and that cried out that without help from heaven he could by no means bear the same. They also that know what the peace of God means, and what an eternal weight there is in glory know well that the soul has the sense of feeling, as well as the senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling. But thus much for the senses of the soul.
Of the passions of the soul.
Third, I come, in the next place, to describe the soul by the passions of the soul. The passions of the soul, I reckon, are these, and such like—to wit, love, hatred, joy, fear, grief, anger, etc. And these passions of the soul are not therefore good, nor therefore evil, because they are the passions of the soul, but are made so by two things—to wit, principle and object. The principle I count that from whence they flow, and the object that upon which they are pitched. To explain myself.
1. For that of love. This is a strong passion; the Holy Ghost saith 'it is strong as death, and cruel as the grave' (Song 8:6,7). And it is then good, when it flows from faith, and pitcheth itself upon God in Christ as the object, and when it extendeth itself to all that is good, whether it be the good Word, the good work of grace, or the good men that have it, and also to their good lives. But all soul-love floweth not from this principle, neither hath these for its object. How many are there that make the object of their love the most vile of men, the most base of things, because it flows from vile affections, and from the lusts of the flesh? God and Christ, good laws and good men, and their holy lives, they cannot abide, because their love wanteth a principle that should sanctify it in its first motion, and that should steer it to a goodly object. But that is the first.
2. There is hatred, which I count another passion of the soul; and this, as the other, is good or evil, as the principle from whence it flows and the object of it are. 'Ye that love the Lord, hate evil' (Psa 97:10). Then, therefore, is this passion good, when it singleth out from the many thousand of things that are in the world that one filthy thing called sin; and when it setteth itself, the soul, and the whole man, against it, and engageth all the powers of the soul to seek and invent its ruin. But, alas, where shall this hatred be found? What man is there whose soul is filled with this passion, thus sanctified by the love of God, and that makes sin, which is God's enemy, the only object of its indignation? How many be there, I say, whose hatred is turned another way, because of the malignity of their minds.
They hate knowledge (Prov 1:22). They hate God (Deu 7:10; Job 21:14). They hate the righteous (2 Chron 29:2; Psa 34:21; Prov 29:10). They hate God's ways (Mal 3:14; Prov 8:12). And all is, because the grace of filial fear is not the root and principle from whence their hatred flows. ' For the fear of the Lord is to hate evil:' wherefore, where this grace is wanting for a root in the soul, there it must of necessity swerve in the letting out of this passion; because the soul, where grace in wanting, is not at liberty to act simply, but is biased by the power of sin; that, while grace is absent, is present in the soul. And hence it is that this passion, which, when acted well, is a virtue, is so abused, and made to exercise its force against that for which God never ordained it, nor gave it license to act.
3. Another passion of the soul is joy; and when the soul rejoiceth virtuously, it rejoiceth not in iniquity, 'but rejoiceth in the truth' (1 Cor 13:6). This joy is a very strong passion, and will carry a man through a world of difficulties; it is a passion that beareth up, that supporteth and strengtheneth a man, let the object of his joy be what it will. It is this that maketh the soul fat in goodness, if it have its object accordingly; and that which makes the soul bold in wickedness, if it indeed doth rejoice in iniquity.
4. Another passion of the soul is fear, natural fear; for so you must understand me of all the passions of the soul, as they are considered simply and in their own nature. And, as it is with the other passions, so it is with this; it is made good or evil in its acts, as its principle and objects are; when this passion of the soul is good, then it springs from sense of the greatness, and goodness and majesty of God; also God himself is the object of this fear'—I will forewarn you,' says Christ, 'whom ye shall fear. Fear him that can destroy both body and soul in hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him' (Matt 5:28; Luke 7:5). But in all men this passion is not regulated and governed by these principles and objects, but is abused and turned, through the policy of Satan, quite into another channel. It is made to fear men (Num 14:9), to fear idols (2 Kings 17:7,38), to fear devils and witches, yea, it is made to fear all the foolish, ridiculous, and apish fables that every old woman or atheistical fortune teller has the face to drop before the soul. But fear is another passion of the soul.
5. Another passion of the soul is grief, and it, as those afore-named, acteth even according as it is governed. When holiness is lovely and beautiful to the soul, and when the name of Christ is more precious than life, then will the soul sit down and be afflicted, because men keep not God's law. 'I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not Thy word' (Psa 119:158). So Christ; He looked round about with anger, 'being grieved for the hardness of their hearts' (Mark 3:5). But it is rarely seen that this passion of the soul is thus exercised. Almost everybody has other things for the spending of the heat of this passion upon. Men are grieved that they thrive no more in the world; grieved that they have no more carnal, sensual, and worldly honour; grieved that they are suffered no more to range in the lusts and vanities of this life; but all this is because the soul is unaquainted with God, sees no beauty in holiness, but is sensual, and wrapt up in clouds and thick darkness.
6. And lastly, There is anger, which is another passion of the soul; and that, as the rest, is extended by the soul, according to the nature of the principle by which it is acted, and from whence it flows. And, in a word, to speak nothing of the fierceness and power of this passion, it is then cursed when it breaketh out beyond the bounds that God hath set it, the which to be sure it doth, when it shall by its fierceness or irregular motion, run the soul into sin. 'Be ye angry, and sin not' (Eph 4:26), is the limitation wherewith God hath bounded this passion; and whatever is more than this, is a giving place to the devil. And one reason, among others, why the Lord doth so strictly set this bound, and these limits to anger, is, for that it is so furious a passion, and for that it will so quickly swell up the soul with sin, as they say a toad swells with its poison. Yea, it will in a moment so transport the spirit of a man, that he shall quickly forget himself, his God, his friend, and all good rule. But my business is not now to make a comment upon the passions of the soul, only to show you that there are such, and also which they are.
And now, from this description of the soul, what follows but to put you in mind what a noble, powerful, lively, sensible thing the soul is, that by the text is supposed may be lost, through the heedlessness, or carelessness, or slavish fear of him whose soul it is; and also to stir you up to that care of, and labour after, the salvation of your soul, as becomes the weight of the matter. If the soul were a trivial thing, or if a man, though he lost it, might yet himself be happy, it were another matter; but the loss of the soul is no small loss, nor can that man that has lost his soul, had he all the world, yea, the whole kingdom of heaven, in his own power be but in a most fearful and miserable condition. But of these things more in their place.
[THE GREATNESS OF THE SOUL.]
SECOND, Having thus given you a description of the soul, what it is, I shall, in the next place, show you the greatness of it.
[Of the greatness of the soul, when compared with the body.]
First, And the first thing that I shall take occasion to make this manifest by, will be by showing you the disproportion that is betwixt that and the body; and I shall do it in these following particulars:—
The body a house for the soul.
1. The body is called the house of the soul, a house for the soul to dwell in. Now everybody knows that the house is much inferior to him that, by God's ordinance, is appointed to dwell therein; that it is called the house of the soul, you find in Paul to the Corinthians: 'For we know,' saith he, 'that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens' (2 Cor 5:1). We have then, a house for our soul in this world, and this house is the body, for the apostle can mean nothing else; therefore he calls it an earthly house. 'If our earthly house'—our house. But who doth he personate if he says, This is a house for the soul; for the body is part of him that says, Our house?
In this manner of language, he personates his soul with the souls of the rest that are saved; and thus to do, is common with the apostles, as will be easily discerned by them that give attendance to reading. Our earthly houses; or, as Job saith, 'houses of clay,' for our bodies are bodies of clay:
'Your remembrances are like unto ashes, your bodies to bodies of clay' (Job 4:19; 13:12). Indeed, he after maketh mention of a house in heaven, but that is not it about which he now speaks; now he speaks of this earthly house which we have (we, our souls) to dwell in, while on this side glory, where the other house stands, as ready prepared for us when we shall flit from this to that; or in case this should sooner or later be dissolved. But that is the first; the body is compared to the house, but the soul to him that inhabiteth the house; therefore, as the man is more noble than the house he dwells in, so is the soul more noble than the body. And yet, alas! with grief be it spoken, how common is it for men to spend all their care, all their time, all their strength, all their wit and parts for the body and its honour and preferment, even as if the soul were some poor, pitiful, sorry, inconsiderable, and under thing, not worth the thinking of, or not worth the caring for. But,
The body clothing for the soul.
2. The body is called the clothing and the soul that which is clothed therewith. Now, everybody knows that 'the body is more than raiment,' even carnal sense will teach us this. But read that pregnant place: 'For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened (that is, with mortal flesh); not for that we should be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life' (2 Cor 5:4). Thus the greatness of the soul appears in the preference that it hath to the body—the body is its raiment. We see that, above all creatures, man, because he is the most noble among all visible ones, has, for the adorning of his body, that more abundant comeliness. 'Tis the body of man, not of beast, that is clothed with the richest ornaments. But now what a thing is the soul, that the body itself must be its clothing! No suit of apparel is by God thought good enough for the soul, but that which is made by God himself, and that is that curious thing, the body. But oh! how little is this considered—namely, the greatness of the soul. 'Tis the body, the clothes, the suit of apparel, that our foolish fancies are taken with, not at all considering the richness and excellency of that great and more noble part, the soul, for which the body is made a mantle to wrap it up in, a garment to clothe it withal. If a man gets a rent in his clothes, it is little in comparison of a rent in his flesh; yea, he comforts himself when he looks on that rent, saying, Thanks be to God, it is not a rent in my flesh. But ah! on the contrary, how many are there in the world that are more troubled for that they have a rent, a wound, or a disease in the body, than for that they have for the souls that will be lost and cast away. A little rent in the body dejecteth and casteth such down, but they are not at all concerned, though their soul is now, and will yet further be, torn in pieces, 'Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver' (Psa 50:22). But this is the second thing whereby, or by which, the greatness of the soul appears—to wit, in that the body, that excellent piece of God's workmanship, is but a garment, or clothing for the soul.
The body a vessel for the soul.
3. The body is called a vessel, or a case, for the soul to be put and kept in. 'That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctifcation and honour' (1 Thess 4:4). The apostle here doth exhort the people to abstain from fornication, which, in another place, he saith, '...is a sin against the body' (1 Cor 6:18). And here again he saith, 'This is the will of God, that ye should abstain from fornication:' that the body be not defiled, 'that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.' His vessel, his earthen vessel, as he calls it in another place—for 'we have this treasure in earthen vessels.' Thus, then, the body is called a vessel; yea, every man's body is his vessel. But what has God prepared this vessel for, and what has He put into it? Why, many things this body is to be a vessel for, but at present God has put into it that curious thing, the soul. Cabinets, that are very rich and costly things of themselves, are not made nor designed to be vessels to be stuffed or filled with trumpery, and things of no value; no, these are prepared for rings and jewels, for pearls, for rubies, and things that are choice. And if so, what shall we then think of the soul for which is prepared, and that of God, the most rich and excellent vessel in the world? Surely it must be a thing of worth, yea, of more worth than is the whole world besides. But alas! who believes this talk? Do not even the most of men so set their minds upon, and so admire, the glory of this case or vessel, that they forget once with seriousness to think, and, therefore, must of necessity be a great way off, of those suitable esteems that becomes them to have of their souls. But oh, since this vessel, this cabinet, this body, is so curiously made, and that to receive and contain, what thing is that for which God has made this vessel, and what is that soul that He hath put into it? Wherefore thus, in the third place, is the greatness of the soul made manifest, even by the excellency of the vessel, the body, that God has made to put it in.
The body a tabernacle of the soul.
4. The body is called a tabernacle for the soul. 'Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle' (2 Pet 1:14), that is, my body, 'by death' (John 21:18,19). 'For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God,' etc. (2 Cor 5:1). In both these places, by 'tabernacle,' can be meant nothing but the body; wherefore both the apostles, in these sentences do personate their souls, and speak as if the soul was THE ALL of a man; yea, they plainly tell us, that the body is but the house, clothes, vessel, and tabernacle for the soul. But what a famous thing therefore is the soul!
The tabernacle of old was a place erected for worship, but the worshippers were more excellent than the place; so our body is a tabernacle for the soul to worship God in, but must needs be accounted much inferior to the soul, forasmuch as the worshippers are always of more honour than the place they worship in; as he that dwelleth in the tabernacle hath more honour than the tabernacle. 'I serve,' says Paul, God and Christ Jesus 'with my spirit (or soul) in the gospel' (Rom 1:9), but not with his spirit out of, but in, this tabernacle. The tabernacle had instruments of worship for the worshippers; so has the body for the soul, and we are bid to 'yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God' (Rom 6:13). The hands, feet, ears, eyes, and tongue, which last is our glory when used right, are all of them instruments of this tabernacle, and to be made use of by the soul, the inhabiter of this tabernacle, for the soul's performance of the service of God. I thus discourse, to show you the greatness of the soul. And, in mine opinion, there is something, if not very much, in what I say. For all men admire the body, both for its manner of building, and the curious way of its being compacted together. Yes, the further men, wise men, do pry into the wonderful work of God that is put forth in framing the body, the more still they are made to admire; and yet, as I said, this body is but a house, a mantle, a vessel, a tabernacle for the soul. What, then, is the soul itself? But thus much for the first particular.
[Other things that show the greatness of the soul.]
Second, We will now come to other things that show us the greatness of the soul. And,
The soul is called God's breath.
1. It is called God's breath of life. 'And the Lord God formed man,' that is, the body, 'of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul' (Gen 2:7). Do but compare these two together, the body and the soul; the body is made of dust, the soul is the breath of God. Now, if God hath made this body so famous, as indeed He has, and yet it is made but of the dust of the ground, and we all do know what inferior matter it is, what is the soul, since the body is not only its house and garment, but since itself is made of the breath of God? But, further, it is not only said that the soul is of the breath of the Lord, but that the Lord breathed into him the breath of life—to wit, a living spirit, for so the next words infer—and 'man became a living soul.' Man, that is, the more excellent part of him, which, for that which is principal, is called man, that bearing the denomination of the whole; or man, the spirit and natural power, by which, as a reasonable creature, the whole of him is acted, 'became a living soul.' But I stand not here upon definition, but upon demonstration. The body, that noble part of man, had its original from the dust; for so says the Word, 'Dust thou art (as to thy body), and unto dust shalt thou return' (Gen 3:19). But as to thy more noble part, thou art from the breath of God, God putting forth in that a mighty work of creating power, and man 'was made a living soul' (1 Cor 15:45). Mark my reason. There is as great a disparity betwixt the body and the soul, as is between the dust of the ground and that, here called, the breath of life of the Lord. And note further, that, as the dust of the ground did not lose, but gained glory by being formed into the body of a man, so this breath of the Lord lost nothing neither by being made a living soul. O man! dost thou know what thou art?
The soul God's image.
2. As the soul is said to be of the breath of God, so it is said to be made after God's own image, even after the similitude of God. 'And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.—So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him' (Gen 1:26,27). Mark, in His own image, in the image of God created He him; or, as James hath it, it is 'made after the similitude of God,' (James 3:9); like Him, having in it that which beareth semblance with Him. I do not read of anything in heaven, or earth, or under the earth, that is said to be made after this manner, or that is at all so termed, save only the Son of God Himself. The angels are noble creatures, and for present employ are made a little higher than man himself, (Heb 2); but that any of them are said to be made 'after God's image,' after His own image, even after the similitude of God, that I find not. This character the Holy Ghost, in the Scriptures of truth, giveth only of man, of the soul of man; for it must not be thought that the body is here intended in whole or in part. For though it be said that Christ was made after the similitude of sinful flesh (Phil 2), yet it is not said that sinful flesh is made after the similitude of God; but I will not dispute; I only bring these things to show how great a thing, how noble a thing the soul is; in that, at its creation, God thought it worthy to be made, not like the earth, or the heavens, or the angels, seraphims, or archangels, but like Himself, His own self, saying, 'Let Us make man in Our own likeness. So He made man in His own image.' This, I say, is a character above all angels; for, as the apostle said, 'To which of the angels said He at anytime, 'Thou art my Son?' So, of which of them hath He at any time said, This is, or shall be, made in or after Mine image, Mine own image? O what a thing is the soul of man, that above all the creatures in heaven or earth, being made in the image and similitude of God.
The soul God's desire.
3. Another thing by which the greatness of the soul is made manifest is this, it is that—and that only, and to say this is more than to say, it is that above all the creatures—that the great God desires communion with. He 'hath set apart him that is godly for himself,' (Psa 4:3); that is, for communion with his soul; therefore the spouse saith concerning him, 'His desire is toward me,' (Song 7:10); and, therefore, he saith again, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them' (2 Cor 6:16). To 'dwell in,' and 'walk in,' are terms that intimate communion and fellowship; as John saith, 'Our fellowship, truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ' (1 John 1:3). That is, our soul-fellowship; for it must not be understood of the body, though I believe that the body is much influenced when the soul has communion with God; but it is the soul, and that only, that at present is capable of having and maintaining of this blessed communion. But, I say, what a thing is this, that God, the great God, should choose to have fellowship and communion with the soul above all. We read, indeed, of the greatness of the angels, and how near also they are unto God; but yet there are not such terms that bespeak such familiar acts between God and angels, as to demonstrate that they have such communion with God as has, or as the souls of His people may have. Where has He called them His love, His dove, His fair one? and where, when He speaketh of them, doth He express a communion that they have with Him by the similitude of conjugal love? I speak of what is revealed; the secret things belong to the Lord our God. Now by all this is manifest the greatness of the soul. Men of greatness and honour, if they have respect to their own glory, will not choose for their familiars the base and rascally crew of this world; but will single out for their fellows, fellowship, and communion, those that are most like themselves. True, the King has not an equal, yet He is for being familiar only with the nobles of the land: so God, with Him none can compare; yet since the soul is by Him singled out for His walking mate and companion, it is a sign it is the highest born, and that upon which the blessed Majesty looks, as upon that which is most meet to be singled out for communion with Himself.
Should we see a man familiar with the King, we would, even of ourselves, conclude he is one of the nobles of the land ; but this is not the lot of every soul —some have fellowship with devils, yet not because they have a more base original than those that lie in God's bosom, but they, through sin, are degenerate, and have chosen to be great with His enemy—but all these things show the greatness of the soul.
The soul a vessel for grace.
4. The soul of men are such as God counts worthy to be the vessels to hold His grace, the graces of the Spirit, in. The graces of the Spirit—what like them, or where here are they to be found, save in the souls of men only? 'Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace' (John 1:16). Received, into what? into 'the hidden part,' as David calls it (Psa 51:6). Hence the king's daughter is said to be 'all glorious within,' (Psa 45:15); because adorned and beautified with the graces of the Spirit. For that which David calls the hidden part is the inmost part of the soul; and it is, therefore, called the hidden part, because the soul is invisible, nor can any one living infallibly know what is in the soul but God Himself. But, I say, the soul is the vessel into which this golden oil is poured, and that which holds, and is accounted worthy to exercise and improve the same. Therefore the soul is it which is said to love God— 'Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?' (Song 3:3); and, therefore, the soul is that which exerciseth the spirit of prayer—'With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early' (Isa 26:9). With the soul also men are said to believe and into the soul God is said to put His fear. This is the vessel into which the virgins got oil, and out of which their lamps were supplied by the same. But what a thing, what a great thing therefore is the soul, that that above all things that God hath created should be the chosen vessel to put His grace in. The body is the vessel for the soul, and the soul is the vessel for the grace of God. But,
5. The greatness of the soul is manifest by the greatness of the price that Christ paid for it, to make it an heir of glory; and that was His precious blood (1 Cor 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18,19). We do use to esteem of things according to the price that is given for them, especially when we are convinced that the purchase has not been made by the estimation of a fool. Now the soul is purchased by a price that the Son, the wisdom of God, thought fit to pay for the redemption thereof—what a thing, then, is the soul? Judge of the soul by the price that is paid for it, and you must needs confess, unless you count the blood that hath bought it an unholy thing, that it cannot but be of great worth and value. Suppose a prince, or some great man, should, on a sudden, descend from his throne, or chair of state, to take up, that he might put in his bosom, something that he had espied lying trampled under the feet of those that stand by; would you think that he would do this for an old horse shoe, or for so trivial a thing as a pin or a point? Nay, would you not even of yourselves conclude that that thing for which the prince, so great a man, should make such a stoop, must needs be a thing of very great worth? Why, this is the case of Christ and the soul. Christ is the prince, His throne was in heaven, and, as He sat there, He espied the souls of sinners trampled under the foot of the law and death for sin. Now, what doth He, but comes down from His throne, stoops down to the earth, and there, since He could not have the trodden-down souls without price, He lays down His life and blood for them (2 Cor 8:9). But would He have done this for inconsiderable things? No, nor for the souls of sinners neither, had He not valued them higher than he valued heaven and earth besides. This, therefore, is another thing by which the greatness of the soul is known.
The soul immortal.
6. The soul is immortal, it will have a sensible being for ever, none can kill the soul (Luke 12:4; Matt 10:28). If all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, should lay all their strength together, they cannot kill or annihilate one soul. No, I will speak without fear, if it may be said, God cannot do what He will not do; then He cannot annihilate the soul: but, notwithstanding all His wrath, and the vengeance that He will inflict on sinful souls, they yet shall abide with sensible beings, yet to endure, yet to bear punishment. If anything could kill the soul, it would be death; but death cannot do it, neither first nor second; the first cannot, for when Dives was slain, as to his body by death, his soul was found alive in hell—'He lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment' (Luke 16:23). The second death cannot do it, because it is said their worm never dies, but is always torturing them with his gnawing (Mark 9:44). But that could not be, if time, or lying in hell fire for ever, could annihilate the soul. Now, this also shows the greatness of the soul, that it is that which has an endless life, and that will, therefore, have a being endlessly. O what a thing is the soul!
The soul, then, is immortal, though not eternal. That is eternal that has neither beginning nor end, and, therefore, eternal is properly applicable to none but God; hence He is called the 'eternal God' (Deu 33:27). Immortal is that which, though it hath a beginning, yet hath no end, it cannot die, nor cease to be; and this is the state of the soul. It cannot cease to have a being when it is once created; I mean, a living, sensible being. For I mean by living, only such a being as distinguishes it from annihilation or incapableness of sense and feeling. Hence, as the rich man is after death said to 'lift up his eyes in hell,' so the beggar is said, when he died, to be 'carried by the angels, into Abraham's bosom' (Luke 16:22,23). And both these sayings must have respect to the souls of these men; for, as for their bodies, we know at present it is otherwise with them. The grave is their house, and so must be till the trumpet shall sound, and the heavens pass away like a scroll. Now, I say, the immortality of the soul shows the greatness of it, as the eternity of God shows the greatness of God. It cannot be said of any angel but that he is immortal, and so it is, and ought to be said of the soul. This, therefore, shows the greatness of the soul, in that it is as to abiding so like unto him.
'Tis the soul that acts the body.
7. But a word or two more, and so to conclude this head. The soul!—why, it is the soul that acteth the body in all these things, good or bad, that seem good and reasonable, or amazingly wicked. True, the acts and motions of the soul are only seen and heard in, and by the members and motions of the body, but the body is but a poor instrument, soul is the great agitator and actor. 'The body without the spirit is dead' (James 2:26). All those famous arts, and works, and inventions of works, that are done by men under heaven, they are all the intentions of the soul, and the body, as acting and labouring therein, doth it but as a tool that the soul maketh use of to bring his invention into maturity (Eccl 7:29). How many things have men found out to the amazing of one another, to the wonderment of one another, to the begetting of endless commendations of one another in the world, while, in the meantime, the soul, which indeed is the true inventor of all, is overlooked, not regarded, but dragged up and down by every lust, and prostrate, and made a slave to every silly and beastly thing. O the amazing darkness that hath covered the face of the hearts of the children of men, that they cannot deliver their soul, nor say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' (Isa 44:20), though they are so cunning in all other matters. Take man in matters that are abroad, and far from home, and he is the mirror of all the world; but take him at home, and put him upon things that are near him, I mean, that have respect to the things that concern his soul, and then you will find him the greatest fool that ever God made. But this must not be applied to the soul simply as it is God's creature, but to the soul sinful, as it has willingly apostatized from God, and so suffered itself to be darkened, and that with such thick and stupifying darkness, that it is bound up and cannot—it hath a napkin of sin bound so close before its eyes that it is not able—of itself—to look to, and after those things which should be its chiefest concern, and without which it will be most miserable for ever.
The soul capable of having to do with invisibles.
8. Further, as the soul is thus curious about arts and sciences, and about every excellent thing of this life, so it is capable of having to do with invisibles, with angels, good or bad, yea, with the highest and Supreme Being, even with the holy God of heaven. I told you before that God sought the soul of man to have it for His companion; and now I tell you that the soul is capable of communion with Him, when the darkness that sin hath spread over its face is removed. The soul is an intelligent power, it can be made to know and understand depths, and heights, and lengths, and breadths, in those high, sublime, and spiritual mysteries that only God can reveal and teach; yea, it is capable of diving unutterably into them. And herein is God, the God of glory, much delighted and pleased—to wit, that He hath made Himself a creature that is capable of hearing, of knowing, and of understanding of His mind, when opened and revealed to it. I think I may say, without offence to God or man, that one reason why God made the world was, that He might manifest Himself, not only by, but to the works which He made; but, I speak with reverence, how could that be, if He did not also make some of His creatures capable of apprehending of Him in those most high mysteries and methods in which He purposed to reveal Himself? But then, what are those creatures which He hath made (unto whom when these things are shown) that are able to take them in and understand them, and so to improve them to God's glory, as He hath ordained and purposed they should, but souls? for none else in the visible world are capable of doing this but they. And hence it is that to them, and them only, He beginneth to reveal Himself in this world. And hence it is that they, and they only, are gathered up to Him where He is, for they are they that are called 'the spirits of just men made perfect,' (Heb 12:23); the spirit of a beast goeth downward to the earth, it is the spirit of a man that goes upwards to God that gave it (Eccl 3:21;12:7). For that, and that only, is capable of beholding and understanding the glorious visions of heaven; as Christ said, 'Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which thou hast given Me; for thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world' (John 17:24). And thus the greatness of the soul is manifest. True, the body is also gathered up into glory, but not simply for its own sake, or because that is capable of itself to know and understand the glories of its Maker; but that has been a companion with the soul in this world, has also been its house, its mantle, its cabinet and tabernacle here; it has also been it by which the soul hath acted, in which it hath wrought, and by which its excellent appearances have been manifested; and it shall also there be its co-partner and sharer in its glory. Wherefore, as the body here did partake of soul excellencies, and was also conformed to its spiritual and regenerate principles; so it shall be hereafter a partaker of that glory with which the soul shall be filled, and also be made suitable by that glory to become a partaker and co-partner with it of the eternal excellencies which heaven will put upon it. In this world it is a gracious soul (I speak now of the regenerate), and in that world it shall be a glorious one. In this world the body was conformable to the soul as it was gracious, and in that world it shall be conformable to it as it is glorious; conformable, I say, by partaking of that glory that then the soul shall partake of; yea, it shall also have an additional glory to adorn, and make it yet the more capable of being serviceable to it, and with it in its great acts before God in eternal glory. Oh, what great things are the souls of the sons of men!
The soul capable of diving into the depths and mysteries of hell.
9. But again, as the soul is thus capable of enjoying God in glory, and of prying into these mysteries that are in him, so it is capable, with great profundity, to dive into the mysterious depths of hell. Hell is a place and state utterly unknown to any in this visible world, excepting the souls of men; nor shall any for ever be capable of understanding the miseries thereof, save souls and fallen angels. Now, I think, as the joys of heaven stand not only in speculation, or in beholding of glory, but in a sensible enjoyment and unspeakable pleasure which those glories will yield to the soul (Psa 16:11), so the torments of hell will not stand in the present lashes and strokes which by the flames of eternal fire God will scourge the ungodly with; but the torments of hell stand much, if not in the greatest part of them, in those deep thoughts and apprehensions, which souls in the next world will have of the nature and occasions of sin; of God, and of separation from Him; of the eternity of those miseries, and of the utter impossibility of their help, ease, or deliverance for ever. O! damned souls will have thoughts that will clash with glory, clash with justice, clash with law, clash with itself, clash with hell, and with the everlastingness of misery; but the point, the edge, and the poison of all these thoughts will still be galling, and dropping, and spewing out their stings into the sore, grieved, wounded, and fretted place, which is the conscience, though not the conscience only; for I may say of the souls in hell, that they all over are but one wound, one sore! Miseries as well as mercies sharpen and make quick the apprehensions of the soul. Behold Spira in his book, Cain in his guilt, and Saul with the witch of Endor, and you shall see men ripened, men enlarged and greatened in their fancies, imaginations, and apprehensions though not about God, and heaven, and glory, yet about their loss, their misery, and their woe, and their hells (Isa 33:14; Psa 1:4; Rev 14:10; Mark 9:44,46).
The ability of the soul to bear.
10. Nor doth their ability to bear, if it be proper to say they bear those dolors which there for ever they shall endure, a little demonstrate their greatness. Everlasting burning, devouring fire, perpetual pains, gnawing worms, utter darkness, and the ireful souls, face, and strokes of Divine and infinite justice will not, cannot, make this soul extinct, as I said before. I think it is not so proper to say the soul that is damned for sin doth bear these things, as to say it doth ever sink under them: and, therefore, their place of torment is called the bottomless pit, because they are ever sinking, and shall never come there where they will find any stay. Yet they live under wrath, but yet only so as to be sensible of it, as to smart and be in perpetual anguish, by reason of the intolerableness of their burden. But doth not their thus living, abiding, and retaining a being(or what you will call it), demonstrate the greatness and might of the soul? Alas! heaven and earth are short of this greatness, for these, though under less judgment by far, do fade and wax old like a moth-eaten garment, and, in their time, will vanish away to nothing (Heb 1).
Also, we see how quickly the body, when the soul is under a fear of the rebukes of justice, how soon, I say, it wastes, moulders away, and crumbleth into the grave; but the soul is yet strong, and abides sensible to be dealt withal for sin by everlasting burnings.
The might of the soul further shown.
11. The soul, by God's ordinance, while this world lasts, has a time appointed it to forsake and leave the body to be turned again to the dust as it was, and this separation is made by death, (Heb 9:27); therefore the body must cease for a time to have sense, or life, or motion; and a little thing brings it now into this state; but in the next world, the wicked shall partake of none of this; for the body and the soul being at the resurrection rejoined, this death, that once did rend them asunder, is for ever overcome and extinct; so that these two which lived in sin must for ever be yoked together in hell. Now, there the soul being joined to the body, and death, which before did separate them, being utterly taken away, the soul retains not only its own being, but also continueth the body to be, and to suffer sensibly the pains of hell, without those decays that it used to sustain.
And the reason why this death shall then be taken away is, because justice in its bestowing its rewards for transgressions may not be interrupted, but that body and soul, as they lived and acted in sin together, might be destroyed for sin in hell together (Matt 10:28 Luke 12:5). Destroyed, I say, but with such a destruction, which, though it is everlasting, will not put a period to their sensible suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (2 Thess 1:8,9).
This death, therefore, though that also be the wages of sin, would now, were it suffered to continue, be a hinderance to the making known of the wrath of God, and also of the created power and might of the soul. (1.) It would hinder the making known of the wrath of God, for it would take the body out of the way, and make it incapable of sensible suffering for sin, and so removing one of the objects of vengeance the power of God's wrath would be so far undiscovered. (2.) It would also hinder the manifestation of the power and might of the soul, which is discovered much by its abiding to retain its own being while the wrath of God is grappling with it, and more by its continuing to the body a sensible being with itself.
Death, therefore, must now be removed, that the soul may be made the object of wrath without molestation or interruption. That the soul, did I say? yea, that soul and body both might be so. Death would now be a favour, though once the fruit of sin, and also the wages thereof, might it now be suffered to continue, because it would ease the soul of some of its burden: for a tormented body cannot but be a burden to a spirit, and so the wise man insinuates when he says, 'The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity;' that is, bear up under it, but yet so as that it feels it a burden. We see that, because of the sympathy that is between body and soul, how one is burdened if the other be grieved. A sick body is a burden to the soul, and a wounded spirit is a burden to the body; 'a wounded spirit who can bear?' (Prov 18:14). But death must not remove this burden, but the soul must have the body for a burden, and the body must have the soul for a burden, and both must have the wrath of God for a burden. Oh, therefore, here will be burden upon burden, and all upon the soul, for the soul will be the chief seat of this burden! But thus much to show you the greatness of the soul.
[OF THE LOSS OF THE SOUL.]
THIRD, I shall now come to the third thing which was propounded to be spoken to; and that is, to show you what we are to understand by losing of the soul, or what the loss of the soul is— 'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'
[He that loseth his soul loseth himself.]
First, The loss of the soul is a loss, in the nature of it, peculiar to itself. There is no such loss, as to the nature of loss, as is the loss of the soul; for that he that hath lost his soul has lost himself. In all other losses, it is possible for a man to save himself, but he that loseth his soul, loseth himself—'For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself?' (Luke 9:25). Wherefore, the loss of the soul is a loss that cannot be paralleled. He that loseth himself, loseth his all, his lasting all; for himself is his all—his all in the most comprehensive sense. What mattereth it what a man gets, if by the getting thereof he loseth himself? Suppose a man goeth to the Indies for gold, and he loadeth his ship therewith; but at his return, that sea that carried him thither swallows him up—now, what has he got? But this is but a lean similitude with reference to the matter in hand—to wit, to set forth the loss of the soul. Suppose a man that has been at the Indies for gold should, at his return, himself be taken by them of Algiers, and there made a slave of, and there be hunger-bit, and beaten till his bones are broken, what has he got? what is he advantaged by his rich adventure? Perhaps, you will say, he has got gold enough to obtain his ransom. Indeed this may be; and therefore no similitude can be found that can fully amplify the matter, 'for what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' 'Tis a loss that standeth by itself, there is not another like it, or unto which it may be compared. 'Tis only like itself—'tis singular, 'tis the chief of all losses—the highest, the greatest loss. 'For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' A man may lose his wife, his children, his estate, his liberty, and his life, and have all made up again, and have all restored with advantage, and may, therefore, notwithstanding all these losses, be far enough off from losing of himself. (Luke 14:26; Mark 8:35). For he may lose his life, and save it; yea, sometimes the only way to save that, is to lose it; but when a man has lost himself, his soul, then all is gone to all intents and purposes. There is no word says, 'he that loses his soul shall save it;' but contrariwise, the text supposeth that a man has lost his soul, and then demands if any can answer it—'What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' All, then, that he gains that loseth his soul is only this, he has gained a loss, he has purchased the loss of losses, he has nothing left him now but his loss, but the loss of himself, of his whole self. He that loseth his life for Christ, shall save it; but he that loseth himself for sin, and for the world, shall lose himself to perfection of loss; he has lost himself, and there is the full point.
There are several things fall under this first head, upon which I would touch a little.
He that has lost himself will never be more at his own dispose.
(1.) He that has lost his soul has lost himself. Now, he that lost himself is no more at his own dispose. While a man enjoys himself, he is at his own dispose. A single man, a free man, a rich man, a poor man, any man that enjoys himself, is at his own dispose. I speak after the manner of men. But he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose. He is, as I may say, now out of his own hands: he has lost himself, his soul-self, his own self, his whole self, by sin, and wrath and hell hath found him; he is, therefore, now no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of justice, of wrath, and hell; he is committed to prison, to hell prison, there to abide, not at pleasure, not as long and as little time as he will, but the term appointed by his judge: nor may he there choose his own affliction, neither for manner, measure, or continuance. It is God that will spread the fire and brimstone under him, it is God that will pile up wrath upon him, and it is God himself that will blow the fire. And 'the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it' (Isa 30:33). And thus it is manifest that he that has lost himself, his soul, is no more at his own dispose, but at the dispose of them that find him.
He that hath lost himself, is not at liberty to dispose of what he hath.
(2.) Again, as he that has lost himself is not at his own dispose, so neither is he at liberty to dispose of what he has; for the man that has lost himself has something yet of his own. The text implies that his soul is his when lost, yea, when that and his all, himself is lost; but as he cannot dispose of himself, so he cannot dispose of what he hath. Let me take leave to make out my meaning. If he that is lost, that has lost himself, has not, notwithstanding, something that in some sense may be called his own, then he that is lost is nothing. The man that is in hell has yet the powers, the senses, and passions of his soul; for not he nor his soul must be thought to be stripped of these; for then he would be lower than the brute; but yet all these, since he is there, are by God improved against himself; or, if you will, the point of this man's sword is turned against his own heart, and made to pierce his own liver.
The soul by being in hell loseth nothing of its aptness to think, its quickness to pierce, to pry, and to understand; nay, hell has ripened it in all these things; but, I say, the soul with its improvements as to these, or anything else, is not in the hand of him that hath lost himself to manage for his own advantage, but in the hand, and in the power, and to be disposed as is thought meet by him into whose revenging hand by sin he has delivered himself—to wit, in the hand of God. So, then, God now has the victory, and disposeth of all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul for the chastising of him that has lost himself. Now the understanding is only employed and improved in and about the apprehending of such things as will be like daggers at the heart—to wit, about justice, sin, hell, and eternity, to grieve and break the spirit of the damned; yea, to break, to wound, and to tear the soul in pieces. The depths of sin which the man has loved, the good nature of God whom the man has hated, the blessings of eternity which the soul has despised, shall now be understood by him more than ever, but yet so only, as to increase grief and sorrow, by improving of the good and of the evil of the things understood, to the greater wounding of the spirit; wherefore now, every touch that the understanding shall give to the memory will be as a touch of a red-hot iron, or like a draught of scalding lead poured down the throat. The memory also letteth those things down upon the conscience with no less terror and perplexity. And now the fancy or imagination doth start and stare like a man by fears bereft of wits, and doth exercise itself, or rather is exercised by the hand of revenging justice, so about the breadth and depth of present and future punishments, as to lay the soul as on a burning rack. Now also the judgment, as with a mighty maul, driveth down the soul in the sense and pangs of everlasting misery into that pit that has no bottom; yea, it turneth again, and, as with a hammer, it riveteth every fearful thought and apprehension of the soul so fast that it can never be loosed again for ever and ever. Alas! now the conscience can sleep, be dull, be misled, or batter, no longer; no, it must now cry out; understanding will make it, memory will make it, fancy or imagination will make it. Now, I say, it will cry out of sin, of justice, and of the terribleness of the punishment that hath swallowed him up that has lost himself. Here will be no forgetfulness; yet nothing shall be thought on but that which will wound and kill; here will be no time, cause, or means for diversion; all will stick and gnaw like a viper. Now the memory will go out to where sin was heretofore committed, it will also go out to the word that did forbid it. The understanding also, and the judgment too, will now consider of the pretended necessity that the man had to break the commandments of God, and of the seasonableness of the cautions and of the convictions which were given him to forbear, by all which more load will be laid upon him that has lost himself; for here all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul must be made self-burners, self-tormentors, self-executioners, by the just judgment of God; also all that the will shall do in this place shall be but to wish for ease, but the wish shall only be such as shall only seem to lift up, for the cable rope of despair shall with violence pull him down again. The will indeed will wish for ease, and so will the mind, etc., but all these wishers will by wishing arrive to no more advantage but to make despair which is the most twinging stripe of hell, to cut yet deepeer into the whole soul of him that has lost himself; wherefore, after all that can be wished for, they return again to their burning chair, where they sit and bewail their misery. Thus will all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul of him that has lost himself be out of his own power to dispose for his advantage, and will be only in the hand and under the management of the revenging justice of God. And herein will that state of the damned be worse than it is now with the fallen angels; for though the fallen angels are now cast down to hell, in chains, and sure in themselves at last to partake of eternal judgment, yet at present they are not so bound up as the damned sinner shall be; for notwithstanding their chains, and their being the prisoners of the horrible hells, yet they have a kind of liberty granted them, and that liberty will last till the time appointed, to tempt, to plot, to contrive, and invent their mischiefs, against the Son of God and His (Job 1:7; 2:2). And though Satan knows that this at last will work for his future condemnation, yet at present he finds it some diversion to his trembling mind, and obtains, through his so busily employing of himself against the gospel and its professors, something to sport and refresh himself withal ; yea, and doth procure to himself some small crumbs of minutes of forgetfulness of his own present misery and of the judgment that is yet to pass upon him; but this privilege will then be denied to him that has lost himself; there will be no cause nor matter for diversion; there it will; as in the old world, rain day and night fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven upon them (Rev 14:10,11). Misery is fixed; the worm will be always sucking at and gnawing of, their soul; also, as I have said afore, all the powers, senses, and passions of the soul will throw their darts inwards, yea, of God will be made to do it, to the utter, unspeakable, and endless torment of him that has lost himself. Again,
They cannot sit down by the loss.
(3.) All therefore that he that has lost himself can do is, to sit down by the loss. Do I say, he can do this?—oh! if that could be, it would be to such, a mercy; I must therefore here correct myself—That they cannot do; for to sit down by the loss implies a patient enduring; but there will be no such grace as patience in hell with him that has lost himself; here, will also want a bottom for patience—to wit, the providence of God; for a providence of God, though never so dismal, is a bottom for patience to the afflicted; but men go not to hell by providence, but by sin. Now sin being the cause, other effects are wrought; for they that go to hell, and that there miserably perish, shall never say it was God by His providence that brought them hither, and so shall not have that on which to lean and stay themselves.
They shall justify God, and lay the fault upon themselves concluding that it was sin with which their souls did voluntarily work—yea, which their souls did suck in as sweet milk—that is the cause of this their torment. Now this will work after another manner, and will produce quite another thing than patience, or a patient enduring of their torment; for their seeing that they are not only lost, but have lost themselves, and that against the ordinary means that of God was provided to prevent that loss; yea, when they shall see what a base thing sin is, how that it is the very worst of things, and that which also makes all things bad, and that for the sake of that they have lost themselves, this will make them fret, and, gnash, and gnaw with anger themselves; this will set all the passions of the soul, save love, for that I think will be stark dead, all in a rage, all in a self-tormenting fire. You know there is nothing that will sooner put a man into and manage his rage against himself than will a full conviction in his conscience that by his own only folly, and that against caution, and counsel, and reason to the contrary, he hath brought himself into extreme distress and misery. But how much more will it make this fire burn when he shall see all this is come upon him for a toy, for a bauble, for a thing that is worse than nothing!
Why, this is the case with him that has lost himself; and therefore he cannot sit down by the loss, cannot be at quiet under the sense of his loss. For sharply and wonderful piercingly, considering the loss of himself, and the cause thereof, which is sin, he falls to a tearing of himself in pieces with thoughts as hot as the coals of juniper, and to a gnashing upon himself for this; also the Divine wisdom and justice of God helpeth on this self-tormentor in his self-tormenting work, by holding the justice of the law against which he has offended, and the unreasonableness of such offence, continually before his face. For if, to an enlightened man who is in the door of hope, the sight of all past evil practices will work in him 'vexation of spirit,' to see what fools we were, (Eccl 1:14); how can it but be to them that go to hell a vexation only to understand the report, the report that God did give them of sin, of His grace, of hell, and of everlasting damnation, and yet that they should be such fools to go thither? (Isa 28:19). But to pursue this head no further, I will come now to the next thing.
[The loss of the soul a double loss.]
Secondly, As the loss of the soul is, in the nature of the loss, a loss peculiar to itself, so the loss of the soul is a double loss; it is, I say, a loss that is double, lost both by man and God; man has lost it, and by that loss has lost himself; God has lost it, and by that loss it is cast away. And to make this a little plainer unto you, I suppose it will be readily granted that men do lose their souls. But now how doth God lose it? The soul is God's as well as man's—man's because it is of themselves; God's because it is His creature; God has made us this soul, and hence it is that all souls are His (Jer 38:16; Eze 18:4).
Now the loss of the soul doth not only stand in the sin of man, but in the justice of God. Hence He says, 'What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away' (Luke 9:25). Now this last clause, 'or be cast away,' is not spoken to show what he that has lost his soul has done, though a man may also be said to cast away himself; but to show what God will do to those that have lost themselves, what God will add to that loss. God will not cast away a righteous man, but God will cast away the wicked, such a wicked one as by the text is under our consideration (Job 8:20; Matt 13:50). This, then, is that which God will add, and so make the sad state of them that lose themselves double. The man for sin has lost himself, and God by justice will cast him away; according to that of Abigail to David, 'The soul of my lord,' said she, 'shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall He sling out, as out of the middle of a sling' (1 Sam 25:29). So that here is God's hand as well as man's; man's by sin, and God's by justice. God shall cast them away; wherefore in the text above mentioned he doth not say, or cast away himself, as meaning the act of the man whose soul is lost; but, 'or be cast away' (Luke 9:25). Supposing a second person joining with the man himself in the making up of the greatness of the loss of the soul—to wit, God himself, who will verily cast away that man who has lost himself. God shall cast them away—that is, exclude them His favour or protection, and deliver them up to the due reward of their deed! He shall shut them out of His heaven, and deliver them up to their hell; He shall deny them a share in his glory, and shall leave them to their own shame; He shall deny them a portion in His peace, and shall deliver them up to the torments of the devil, and of their own guilty consciences; He shall cast them out of His affection, pity, and compassion, and shall leave them to the flames that they by sin have kindled, and to the worm, or biting cockatrice, that they themselves have hatched, nursed, and nourished in their bosoms. And this will make their loss double, and so a loss that is loss to the uttermost, a loss above every loss. A man may cast away himself and not be cast away of God; a man may be cast away by others, and not be cast away of God; yea, what way soever a man be cast away, if he be not cast away for sin, he is safe, he is yet found, and in a sure hand. But for a man so to lose himself as by that loss to provoke God to cast him away too, this is fearful.
The casting away, then, mentioned in Luke, is a casting away by the hand of God, by the revenging hand of God; and it supposeth two things—1. God's abhorrence of such a soul. 2. God's just repaying of it for its wickedness by way of retaliation.
1. It supposeth God's abhorrence of the soul. That which we abhor, that we cast from us, and put out of our favour and respect with disdain, and a loathing thereof. So when God teacheth Israel to loathe and abhor their idols, He bids them 'to cast away their very covering as a stinking and menstruous cloth, and to say unto it, 'Get you hence' (Isa 30:22), 'He shall gather the good into vessels, and cast the bad away' (Matt 13:48; 25:41). Cast them out of My presence. Well, but whither must they go? The answer is, Into hell, into utter darkness, into the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. Wherefore, to be cast away, to be cast away of God, it showeth unto us God's abhorrence of such souls, and how vile and loathsome such are in His divine eyes. And the similitude of Abigail's sling, mentioned before, doth yet further show us the greatness of this abhorrence— 'The souls of thine enemies,' said she, 'God shall sling out as out of the middle of a sling.' When a man casts a stone away with a sling, then he casteth it furthest from him, for with a sling he can cast a stone further than by his hand. 'And he,' saith the text, 'shall cast them away as with a sling.' But that is not all, neither: for it is not only said that He shall sling away their souls, but that He shall sling them away as 'out of the middle of a sling.' When a stone is placed, to be cast away, in the middle of a sling, then doth the slinger cast it furthest of all. Now God is the slinger, abhorrence is His sling, the lost soul is the stone, and it is placed in the very middle of the sling, and is from thence cast away. And, therefore, it is said again, that 'such shall go into utter, outer darkness'—that is, furthest off of all. This therefore shows us how God abhors that man that for sin has lost himself. And well he may; for such an one has not only polluted and defiled himself with sin; and that is the most offensive thing to God under heaven; but he has abused the handiwork of God. The soul, as I said before, is the workmanship of God, yea, the top-piece that He hath made in all the visible world; also He made it for to be delighted with it, and to admit it into communion with Himself. Now for man thus to abuse God; for a man to take his soul, which is God's, and prostrate it to sin, to the world, to the devil, and every beastly lust, flat against the command of God, and notwithstanding the soul was also His; this is horrible, and calls aloud upon that God whose soul this is to abhor, and to show, by all means possible, His abhorrence of such an one.
2. As this casting of them away supposeth God's abhorrence of them, so it supposeth God's just repaying of them for their wickedness by way of retaliation.
God all the time of the exercise of His long-suffering and forbearance towards them, did call upon them, wait upon them, send after them by His messengers, to turn them from their evil ways; but they despised at, they mocked, the messengers of the Lord. Also they shut their eyes, and would not see; they stopped their ears, and would not understand; and did harden themselves against the beseeching of their God. Yea, all that day long He did stretch out His hand towards them, but they chose to be a rebellious and gainsaying people; yea, they said unto God, 'Depart from us;' and 'what is the Almighty' that we should pray unto him? (Hosea 6:2; Rev 16:21; Job 21:14,15; Mal 3:14).
And of all these things God takes notice, writes them down, and seals them up for the time to come, and will bring them out and spread them before them, saying, I have called, and you have refused; I have stretched out Mine hand, and no man regarded; I have exercised patience, and gentleness, and long-suffering towards you, and in all that time you despised Me, and cast Me behind your back; and now the time, and the exercise of My patience, when I waited upon you, and suffered your manners, and did bear your contempts and scorns, is at an end; wherefore I will now arise, and come forth to the judgment that I have appointed.
But, Lord, saith the sinner, we turn now.
But now; saith God, turning is out of season; the day of My patience is ended.
But, Lord, says the sinner, behold our cries.
But you did not, says God, behold nor regard My cries.
But, Lord, saith the sinner, let our beseeching find place in Thy compassions.
But, saith God, I also beseeched, and I was not heard.
But Lord, says the sinner, our sins lie hard upon us.
But I offered you pardon when time was, says God, and then you did utterly reject it.
But, Lord, says the sinner, let us therefore have it now.
But now the door is shut, saith God.
And what then? Why, then, by way of retaliation, God will serve them as they have served Him; and so the wind-up of the whole will be this—they shall have like for like. Time was when they would have none of Him, and now will God have none of them. Time was when they cast God behind their back, and now He will cast away their soul. Time was when they would not heed His calls, and now He will not heed their cries. Time was when they abhorred Him, and now His soul also abhorreth them (Zech 11:8). This is now by way of retaliation—like for like, scorn for scorn, repulse for repulse, contempt for contempt; according to that which is written, 'Therefore it is come to pass, that as He cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord' (Zech 7:13). And thus I have also showed you that the loss of the soul is double—lost by man, lost by God.
But oh! who thinks of this? who, I say, that now makes light of God, of His Word, His servants, and ways, once dreams of such retaliation, though God to warn them hath even, in the day of His patience, threatened to do it in the day of His wrath, saying, 'Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me' (Prov 1:24-28). I will do unto them as they have done unto Me; and what unrighteousness is in all this? But,
[The loss of the soul most fearful.]
Thirdly, As the loss of the soul is a loss peculiar to itself, and a loss double, so, in the third place, it is a loss most fearful, because it is a loss attended with the most heavy curse of God. This is manifest both in the giving of the rule of life, and also in, and at the time of execution for, the breach of that rule. It is manifest at the giving of the rule — 'Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen' (Deu 27:26; Gal 3:10). It is also manifest that it shall be so at the time of execution— 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt 25:41). What this curse is, none do know so well as God that giveth it, and as the fallen angels, and the spirits of damned men that are now shut up in the prison of hell, and bear it. But certainly it is the chief and highest of all kind of curses. To be cursed in the basket and in the store, in the womb and in the barn, in my cattle and in my body, are but flea-bitings to this, though they are also insupportable in themselves; only in general it may be described thus. But to touch upon this curse, it lieth in deprivation of all good, and in a being swallowed up of all the most fearful miseries that a holy, and just, and eternal God can righteously inflict, or lay upon the soul of a sinful man. Now let Reason here come in and exercise itself in the most exquisite manner; yea, let him now count up all, and all manner of curses and torments that a reasonable and an immortal soul is, or can be made capable of, and able to suffer under, and when he has done, he shall come infinitely short of this great anathema, this master curse which God has reserved amongst His treasuries, and intends to bring out in that day of battle and war, which He purposeth to make upon damned souls in that day. And this God will do, partly as a retaliation, as the former, and partly by way of revenge. 1. By way of retaliation: 'As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.' Again, 'As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones; let it be unto him as a garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually' (Psa 109:17-19). 'Let this,' saith Christ, 'be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord' (vs. 20 etc). 2. As this curse comes by way of retaliation, so it cometh by way of revenge. God will right the wrongs that sinners have done Him, will repay vengeance for the despite and reproach wherewith they have affronted Him, and will revenge the quarrel of His covenant. And the beginning of revenges are terrible, (Deu 31:41,42); what, then, will the whole execution be, when He shall come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ? And, therefore, this curse is executed in wrath, in jealousy, in anger, in fury; yea, the heavens and the earth shall be burned up with the fire of that jealousy in which the great God will come, when He cometh to curse the souls of sinners, and when He cometh to defy the ungodly, (2 Thess 1: 7-9).
It is little thought of, but the manner of the coming of God to judge the world declares what the souls of impenitent sinners must look for then. It is common among men, when we see the form of a man's countenance changed, when we see fire sparkle out of his eyes, when we read rage and fury in every cast of his face, even before he says aught, or doth aught either, to conclude that some fearful thing is now to be done (Dan 3:19,23). Why, it is said of Christ when He cometh to judgment, that the heavens and the earth fly away, as not being able to endure His looks, (Rev 20:11,12); that His angels are clad in flaming fire, and that the elements melt with fervent heat; and all this is, that the perdition of ungodly men might be completed, 'from the presence of the Lord, in the heat of His anger, from the glory of His power' (2 Pet 3:7; 2 Thess 1:8,9). Therefore, God will now be revenged, and so ease Himself of His enemies, when He shall cause curses like millstones to fall as thick as hail on 'the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses' (Psa 68:2l). But,
[The loss of the soul a loss everlasting.]
Fourthly, As the loss of the soul is a loss peculiar to itself, a loss double, and a loss most fearful, so it is a loss everlasting. The soul that is lost is never to be found again, never to be recovered again, never to be redeemed again, its banishment from God is everlasting; the fire in which it burns, and by which it must be tormented, is a fire that is ever, everlasting fire, everlasting burnings; the adder, the snake, the stinging worm, dieth not, nor is the fire quenched; and this is a fearful thing. A man may endure to touch the fire with a short touch, and away; but to dwell with everlasting burnings, that is fearful. Oh, then, what is dwelling with them, and in them, for ever and ever! We use to say, light burdens far carried are heavy; what, then, will it be to bear that burden, that guilt, that the law and the justice and wrath of God will lay upon the lost soul for ever? Now tell the stars, now tell the drops of the sea, and now tell the blades of grass that are spread upon the face of all the earth, if thou canst: and yet sooner mayest thou do this than count the thousands of millions of thousands of years that a damned soul shall lie in hell. Suppose every star that is now in the firmament was to burn, by himself, one by one, a thousand years apiece, would it not be a long while before the last of them was burned out? and yet sooner might that be done than the damned soul be at the end of punishment.
There are three things couched under this last head that will fill up the punishment of a sinner. 1. The first is, that it is everlasting. 2. The second is, that, therefore, it will be impossible for the souls in hell ever to say, Now we are got half way through our sorrows. 3. The third is, and yet every moment they shall endure eternal punishment.
1. The first I have touched upon already, and, therefore, shall not enlarge; only I would ask the wanton or unthinking sinner, whether twenty, or thirty, or forty years of the deceitful pleasures of sin is so rich a prize, as that a man may well venture the ruin, that everlasting burnings will make upon his soul for the obtaining of them, and living a few moments in them. Sinner, consider this before I go any further, or before thou readest one line more. If thou hast a soul, it concerns thee; if there be a hell, it concerns thee; and if there be a God that can and will punish the soul for sin everlastingly in hell, it concerns thee; because,
2. In the second place, it will be impossible for the damned soul ever to say, I am now got half way through my sorrows. That which has no end, has no middle. Sinner, make a round circle, or ring, upon the ground, of what bigness thou wilt; this done, go thy way upon that circle, or ring, until thou comest to the end thereof; but that, sayest thou, I can never do; because it has no end. I answer, but thou mayest as soon do that as wade half way through the lake of fire that is prepared for impenitent souls. Sinner, what wilt thou take to make a mountain of sand that will reach as high as the sun is at noon? I know that thou wilt not be engaged in such a work; because it is impossible thou shouldst ever perform it. But I dare say the task is greater when the sinner has let out himself to sin for a servant; because the wages is everlasting burnings. I know thou mayest perform thy service; but the wages, the judgment, the punishment is so endless, that thou, when thou hast been in it more millions of years than can be numbered, art not, nor never yet shalt be, able to say, I am half way through it. And yet,
3. That soul shall partake every moment of that punishment that is eternal. 'Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire' (Jude 7).
(1.) They shall endure eternal punishment in the nature of punishment. There is no punishment here wherewith one man can chastise another that can deserve a greater title than that of transient, or temporary punishment; but the punishment there is eternal, even in every stripe that is given, and in every moment that it grappleth with the soul; even every twinge, every gripe, and every stroke that justice inflicteth, leaveth anguish that, of their condition according as will best stand with in the nature of punishment, is eternal behind it. It is eternal, because it is from God, and lasts for ever and ever. The justice that inflicts it has not a beginning, and it is this justice in the operations of it that is always dealing with the soul.
(2.) All the workings of the soul under this punishment are such as cause it, in its sufferings, to endure that which is eternal. It can have no thought of the end of punishment, but it is presently recalled by the decreed gulf that bindeth them under perpetual punishment. The great fixed gulf, they know, will keep them in their present place, and not suffer them to go to heaven (Luke 16:26). And now there is no other place but heaven or hell to be in; for then the earth, and the works that are therein, will be burned up. Read the text, 'But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up' (2 Peter 3:10). If, then, there will be no third place, it standeth in their minds, as well as in God's decree, that their punishments shall be eternal; so, then, sorrows, anguish, tribulation, grief, woe, and pain, will, in every moment of its abiding upon the soul, not only flow from thoughts of what has been, and what is, but also from what will be, and that for ever and ever. Thus every thought that is truly grounded in the cause and nature of their state will roll, toss, and tumble them up and down in the cogitations and fearful apprehensions of the lastingness of their damnation. For, I say, their minds, their memories, their understandings, and consciences, will all, and always, be swallowed up with 'for ever;' yea, they themselves will, by the means of these things, be their own tormentors for ever.
(3.) There will not be spaces, as days, months, years, and the like, as now; though we make bold so to speak, the better to present our thoughts to each other's capacities; for then there shall be time no longer; also, day and night shall then be come to an end. 'He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end' (Job 26:10). Until the end of light with darkness. Now when time, and day, and night, are come to an end, then there comes in eternity, as there was before the day, and night, or time, was created; and when this is come, punishment nor glory must none of them be measured by days, or months, or years, but by eternity itself. Nor shall those concerned either in misery or glory reckon of their now new state, as they need to reckon of things in this world; but they shall be suited in their capacities, in their understandings and apprehensions, to judge and count of their condition according as will best stand with their state in eternity.
Could we but come to an understanding of things done in heaven and hell, as we understand how things are done in this world, we should be strangely amazed to see how the change of places and of conditions has made a change in the understandings of men, and in the manner of their enjoyment of things. But this we must let alone till the next world, and until our launching into it; and then, whether we be of the right or left hand ones, we shall well know the state and condition of both kingdoms. In the meantime, let us addict ourselves to the belief of the Scriptures of truth, for therein is revealed the way to that of eternal life, and how to escape the damnation of the soul (Matt 25:33). But thus much for the loss of the soul, unto which let me add, for a conclusion, these verses following:—
These cry alas! But all in vain;
They stick fast in the mire;
They would be rid of present pain,
Yet set themselves on fire.
Darkness is their perplexity ,
Yet do they hate the light;
They always see their misery,
Yet are themselves, all night.
They are all dead, yet live they do,
Yet neither live nor die;
They die to weal, and live to woe—
This is their misery.
Now will confusion so possess,
These monuments of ire,
And so confound them with distress,
And trouble their desire,
That what to think, or what to do,
Or where to lay their head,
They know not: 'tis the damned's woe,
To live, and yet be dead.
These castaways would fain have life,
But know they never shall;
They would forget their dreadful plight.
But that sticks fast'st of all.
God, Christ, and heav'n, they know are best,
Yet dare not on them think;
They know the saints enjoy their rest,
While they their tears do drink.
[OF THE CAUSE OF THE LOSS OF THE SOUL.]
FOURTH, And now I am come to the fourth thing—that is, to show you the cause of the loss of the soul. That men have souls, that souls are great things, that souls may be lost, this I have showed you already; wherefore I now proceed to show you the cause of this loss. The cause is laid down in the 18th chapter of Ezekiel, in these words— 'Behold, all souls,' says God, 'are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die' (5:4).
[Sin the cause of the loss of his soul.]
First, It is sin, then, or sinning against God, that is the cause of dying, or damning in hell fire, for that must be meant by dying; otherwise, to die, according to our ordinary acceptation of the notion, the soul is not capable of, it being indeed immortal, as hath been afore asserted. So, then, the soul that sinneth—that is, and persevering in the same—that soul shall die, be cast away, or damned; yea, to ascertain us of the undoubted truth of this, the Holy Ghost doth repeat it again, and that in this very chapter, saying, 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die' (5:20). Now, the soul may divers ways be said to sin against God; as,
1. In its receiving of sin into its bosom, and in its retaining and entertaining of it there. Sin must first be received before it can act in, or be acted by, the soul. Our first parents first received it in the suggestion or motion, and then acted it. Now it is not here to be disputed when sin was received by the soul, so much as whether ever the soul received sin; for if the soul has indeed received sin into itself, then it has sinned, and by doing so, has made itself an object of the wrath of God, and a fire brand of hell. I say, I will not here dispute when sin was received by the soul, but it is apparent enough that it received it betimes, because in old time every child that was brought unto the Lord was to be redeemed, and that at a month old, (Exo 13:13; 34:20; Num 18:15, 16); which, to be sure, was very early, and implied that then, even then, the soul in God's judgment stood before Him as defiled and polluted with sin. But although I said I will not dispute at what time the soul may be said to receive sin, yet it is evident that it was precedent to the redemption made mention of just before, and so before the person redeemed had attained the age of a month. And that God might, in the language of Moses, give us to see cause of the necessity of this redemption, he first distinguisheth, and saith, 'The firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat,' did not need this redemption, for they were clean, or holy. But the firstborn of men, who was taken in lieu of the rest of the children, and the 'firstling of unclean beasts, thou shalt surely redeem,' saith He. But why was the firstborn of men coupled with unclean beasts, but because they are both unclean? The beast was unclean by God's ordination, but the other was unclean by sin. Now, then, it will be demanded, how a soul, before it was a month old, could receive sin to the making of itself unclean? I answer, There are two ways of receiving, one active, the other passive; this last is the way by which the soul at first receiveth sin, and by so receiving, becometh culpable, because polluted and defiled by it. And this passive way of receiving is often mentioned in Scripture. Thus the pans received the ashes, (Exo 27:3); thus the molten sea received three thousand baths, (2 Chron 4:5); thus the ground receiveth the seed, (Matt 13:20-23); and this receiving is like that of the wool which receiveth the dye, either black, white, or red; and as the fire that receiveth the water till it be all quenched therewith: or as the water receiveth such stinking and poisonous matter into it, as for the sake of it, it is poured out and spilt upon the ground. But whence should the soul thus receive sin? I answer, from the body, while it is in the mother's belly; the body comes from polluted man, and therefore is polluted (Psa 51: 5). 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?' (Job 14:4). The soul comes from God's hand, and therefore as so is pure and clean: but being put into this body, it is tainted, polluted, and defiled with the taint, stench, and filth of sin; nor can this stench and filth be by man purged out, when once from the body got into the soul; sooner may the blackamoor change his skin, or the leopard his spots, than the soul, were it willing, might purge itself of this pollution. 'Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God' (Jer 2:22).
2. But as I said, the soul has not only received sin, but retains it, holds it, and shows no kind of resistance. It is enough that the soul is polluted and defiled, for that is sufficient to provoke God to cast it away; for which of you would take a cloth annoyed with stinking, ulcerous sores, to wipe your mouth withal, or to thrust it into your bosoms? and the soul is polluted with far worse pollution than any such can be. But this is not all; it retains sin as the wool retains the dye, or as the infected water receives the stench or poisonous scent; I say, it retains it willingly; for all the power of the soul is not only captivated by a seizure of sin upon the soul, but it willingly, heartily, unanimously, universally falleth in with the natural filth and pollution that is in sin, to the estranging of itself from God, and an obtaining of an intimacy and compliance with the devil.
Now this being the state and condition of the soul from the belly, yea, from before it sees the light of this world, what can be concluded but that God is offended with it? For how can it otherwise be, since there is holiness and justice in God? Hence those that are born of a woman, whose original is by carnal conception with man, are said to be as serpents so soon as born. 'The wicked (and all at first are so) go astray as soon as they be born, speakings lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder, that stoppeth her ear' (Psa 58:3,4). They go astray from the belly; but that they would not do, if aught of the powers of their soul were unpolluted. 'But their poison is like the poison of a serpent.' Their poison—what is that? Their pollution, their original pollution, that is as the poison of a serpent—to wit, not only deadly, for so poison is, but also hereditary. It comes from the old one, from the sire and dam; yea, it is also now become connatural to and with them, and is of the same date with the child as born into the world. The serpent has not her poison, in the original of it, either from imitation or from other infective things abroad, though it may by such things be helped forward and increased; but she brings it with her in her bowels, in her nature, and it is to her as suitable to her present condition as it is that which is most sweet and wholesome to other of the creatures. So, then, every soul comes into the world as poisoned with sin; nay, as such which have poison connatural to them; for it has not only received sin as the wool has received the dye, but it retaineth it. The infection is got so deep, it has taken the black so effectually, that the tint, the very fire of hell, can never purge the soul therefrom.
And that the soul has received this infection thus early, and that it retains it so surely, is not only signified by children coming into the world besmeared in their mother's blood, and by the firstborn's being redeemed at a month old, but also by the first inclinations and actions of children when they are so come into the world (Exo 26). Who sees not that lying, pride, disobedience to parents, and hypocrisy, do put forth themselves in children before they know that they do either well or ill in so doing, or before they are capable to learn either of these arts by imitation, or seeing understandingly the same things done first by others? He that sees not that they do it naturally from a principle, from an inherent principle, is either blinded, and has retained his darkness by the same sin as they, or has suffered himself to be swayed by a delusion from him who at first infused this spawn of sin into man's nature.
Nor doth the averseness of children to morality a little demonstrate what has been said; for as it would make a serpent sick, should one give it a strong antidote against his poison, so then are children, and never more than then, disturbed in their minds, when a strict hand and a stiff rein by moral discipline is maintained over and upon them. True, sometimes restraining grace corrects them, but that is not of themselves; but more oft hypocrisy is the great and first moving wheel to all their seeming compliances with admonitions, which indulgent parents are apt to overlook, yea, and sometimes, through unadvisedness, to count for the principles of grace. I speak now of that which comes before conversion. But as I said before, I would not now dispute, only I have thought good thus to urge these things to make my assertion manifest, and to show what is the cause of the damnation of the soul.
3. Again; as the soul receives sin, and retains it, so it also doth entertain it—that is, countenance, smile upon, and like its complexion and nature well. A man may detain—that is, hold fast—a thing which yet he doth not regard; but when he entertains, then he countenances, likes, and delights in the company. Sin, then, is first received by the soul, as has been afore explained, and by that reception is polluted and defiled. This makes it hateful in the eyes of justice: it is now polluted. Then, secondly, this sin is not only received, but retained—that is, it sticks so fast, abides so fixedly in the soul, that it cannot be gotten out; this is the cause of the continuation of abhorrence; for if God abhors because there is a being of sin there, it must needs be that he should continue to abhor, since sin continues to have a being there. But then, in the third place, sin is not only received, detained, but entertained by the now defiled and polluted soul; wherefore this must needs be a cause of the continuance of anger, and that with aggravation. When I say, entertained, I do not mean as men entertain their enemies, with small and great shot, but as they entertain those whom they like, and those that are got into their affections. And therefore the wrath of God must certainly be let out upon the soul, to the everlasting damnation of it.
Now that the soul doth thus entertain sin, is manifest by these several particulars—
(1.) It hath admitted it with complacence and delight into every chamber of the soul; I mean, it has been delightfully admitted to an entertainment by all the powers or faculties of the soul. The soul hath chosen it rather than God: it also, at God's command, refuseth to let it go; yea, it chooseth that doctrine, and loveth it best, since it must have a doctrine, that has most of sin and baseness in it (Isa 65:12; 66:3). They 'say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits' (Isa 30:10). These are signs that the soul with liking hath entertained sin; and if there be at any time, as indeed there is, a warrant issued out from the mouth of God to apprehend, to condemn, and mortify sin, why then,
(2.) These shifts the souls of sinners do presently make for the saving of sin from those things that by the Word men are commanded to do unto it—
(a) They will, if possible, hide it, and not suffer it to be discovered. 'He that hideth his sins shall not prosper' (Prov 28:13). And again, they hide it, and refuse to let it go (Job 20:12,13). This is an evident sign that the soul has a favour for sin, and that with liking it, entertains it.
(b) As it will hide it, so it will excuse it, and plead that this and that piece of wickedness is no such evil thing; men need not be so nice, and make such a pother about it, calling those that cry out so hotly against it, men more nice than wise. Hence the prophets of old used to be called madmen, and the world would reply against their doctrine, Wherein have we been so wearisome to God, and what have we spoken so much against Him? (Mal 1:6,7; 3:8,13).
c) As the soul will do this, so to save sin, it will cover it with names of virtue, either moral or civil; and of this God greatly complains, yea, breaks into anger for this, saying, 'Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; and put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter' (Isa 5:20)!
(d) If convictions and discovery of sin be so strong and so plain, that the soul cannot deny but that it is sin, and that God is offended therewith; then it will give flattering promises to God that it will indeed put it away; but yet it will prefix a time that shall be long first, if it also then at all performs it, saying, Yet a little sleep, yet a little slumber, yet a little folding of sin in mine arms, till I am older, till I am richer, till I have had more of the sweetness and the delights of sin. Thus, 'their soul delighteth in their abominations' (Isa 66:3).
(e) If God yet pursues, and will see whether this promise of putting sin out of doors shall be fulfilled by the soul, why then, it will be partial in God's law; it will put away some, and keep some; put away the grossest, and keep the finest; put away those that can best be spared, and keep the most profitable for a help at a pinch (Mal 2:9).
(f) Yes, if all sin must be abandoned, or the soul shall have no rest, why then, the soul and sin will part (with such a parting as it is), even as Phaltiel parted with David's wife, with an ill will and a sorrowful mind; or as Orpha left her mother, with a kiss (2 Sam 3:16; Ruth 1:14).
(g) And if at any time they can, or shall, meet with each other again, and nobody never the wiser, O, what courting will be betwixt sin and the soul? And this is called doing of things in the dark (Eze 8:12).
By all these, and many more things that might be instanced, it is manifest that sin has a friendly entertainment by the soul, and that therefore the soul is guilty of damnation; for what do all these things argue, but that God, His Word, His ways, and graces, are out of favour with the soul, and that sin and Satan are its only pleasant companions? But,
[How sin, by the help of the soul, destroys it.]
Secondly, That I may yet show you what a great thing sin is with the soul that is to be damned, I will show how sin, by the help of the soul, is managed, from the motion of sin, even till it comes to the very act; for sin cannot come to an act without the help of the soul. The body doth little here, as I shall further show you anon.
There is then a motion of sin presented to the soul (and whether presented by sin itself or the devil, we will not at this time dispute); motions of sin, and motions to sin there are, and always the end of the motions of sin are to prevail with the soul to help that motion into an act. But, I say, there is a motion to sin moved to the soul; or, as James calls it, a conception. Now behold how the soul deals with this motion in order to the finishing of sin, that death might follow (Rom 7:5).
1. This motion is taken notice of by the soul, but is not resisted nor striven against, only the soul lifts up its eyes upon it, and sees that there is present a motion to sin, a motion of sin presented to the soul, that the soul might midwife it from the conception into the world.
2. Well, notice being taken that a motion to sin is present, what follows but that the fancy or imagination of the soul taketh it home to it, and doth not only look upon it and behold it more narrowly, but begins to trick and trim up the sin to the pleasing of itself and of all the powers of the soul. That this is true, is evident, because God findeth fault with the imagination as with that which lendeth to sin the first hand, and that giveth to it the first lift towards its being helped forward to act. 'And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth' (Gen 6:5,12,13). That is, many abominable actions were done; for all flesh had corrupted God's way upon the earth. But how came this to be so? Why, every imagination of the thoughts, or of the motions that were in the heart to sin, was evil, only evil, and that continuously. The imagination of the thoughts was evil —that is, such as tended not to deaden or stifle, but such as tended to animate and forward the motions or thoughts of sin into action. Every imagination of the thoughts—that which is here called a thought, by Paul to the Romans, called a motion. Now the imagination should, and would, had it been on God's side, so have conceived of this motion of and to sins, all to have presented it in all its features so ugly, so ill favoured, and so unreasonable a thing to the soul, that the soul should forthwith have let down the sluice, and pulled up the drawbridge, put a stop, with greatest defiance, to the motion now under consideration; but the imagination being defiled, it presently, at the very first view or noise of the motion of sin, so acted as to forward the bringing the said motion or thought into act. So, then, the thought of sin, or motion thereto, is first of all entertained by the imagination and fancy of the soul, and thence conveyed to the rest of the powers of the soul to be condemned, if the imagination be good; but to be helped forward to the act, if the imagination be evil. And thus the evil imagination helpeth the motion of and to sin towards the act, even by dressing of it up in that guise and habit that may best delude the understanding, judgment, and conscience; and that is done after this manner: suppose a motion of sin to commit fornication, to swear, to steal, to act covetously, or the like, be propounded to the fancy and imagination; the imagination, if evil, presently dresseth up this motion in that garb that best suiteth with the nature of the sin. As, if it be the lust of uncleanness, then is the motion to sin drest up in all the imaginable pleasurableness of that sin; if to covetousness, then is the sin drest up in the profits and honours that attend that sin; and so of theft and the like; but if the motion be to swear, hector, or the like, then is that motion drest up with valour and manliness; and so you may count of the rest of sinful motions; and thus being trimmed up like a Bartholomew baby, it is presented to all the rest of the powers of the soul, where with joint consent it is admired and embraced, to the firing and inflaming all the powers of the soul.
And hence it is that men are said to inflame themselves with their idols under every green tree. 'And to be as fed horses, neighing after their neighbour's wife' (Jer 5:8). For the imagination is such a forcible power, that if it putteth forth itself to dress up and present a thing to the soul, whether that thing be evil or good, the rest of the faculties cannot withstand it. Therefore, when David prayed for the children of Israel, he said, 'I have seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee;' that is, for preparations to build the temple. 'O Lord God,' saith he, 'keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of Thy people, and prepare their heart unto Thee' (1 Chron 29:17, 18). He knew that as the imagination was prepared, so would the soul be moved, whether by evil or good; therefore as to this, he prays that their imagination might be engaged always with apprehensions of the beauteousness of the temple, that they might always, as now, offer willingly for its building.
But, as I said, when the imagination hath thus set forth sin to the rest of the faculties of the soul, they are presently entangled, and fall into a flame of love thereto; this being done, it follows that a purpose to pursue this motion, till it be brought unto act, is the next thing that is resolved on. Thus Esau, after he had conceived of that profit that would accrue to him by murdering of his brother, fell the next way into a resolve to spill Jacob's blood. And Rebecca sent for Jacob, and said unto him, 'Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee' (Gen 27:42). See also (Jer 49:30). Nor is this purpose to do an evil without its fruit, for he comforted himself in his evil purpose: 'Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee.'
The purpose, therefore, being concluded, in the next place the invention is diligently set to work to find out what means, methods, and ways, will be thought best to bring this purpose into practice, and this motion to sin into action. Esau invented the death of his brother when his father was to be carried to his grave (Gen 27:41). David purposed to make Uriah father his bastard child by making of him drunk (2 Sam 11:13). Amnon purposed to ravish Tamar, and the means that he invented to do it were by feigning himself sick. Absalom purposed to kill Amnon, and invented to do it at a feast (2 Sam13:32). Judas purposed to sell Christ, and invented to betray him in the absence of the people (Luke 22:3-6). The Jews purposed to kill Paul, and invented to entreat the judge of a blandation to send for him, that they might murder him as he went (Acts 23:12-15).
Thus you see how sin is, in the motion of it, handed through the soul—first, it comes into the fancy or imagination, by which it is so presented to the soul, as to inflame it with desire to bring it into act; so from this desire the soul proceedeth to a purpose of enjoying, and from a purpose of enjoying to inventing how, or by what means, it had best to attempt the accomplishing of it.
But, further, when the soul has thus far, by its wickedness, pursued the motion of sin to bring it into action, then to the last thing; to wit, to endeavours, to take the opportunity, which, by the invention, is judged most convenient; so to endeavours it goes, till it has finished sin, and finished, in finishing of that, its own fearful damnation. 'Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death' (James 1:15).
And who knows, but God and the soul, how many lets, hindrances, convictions, fears, frights, misgivings, and thoughts of the judgment of God, all this while are passing and repassing, turning and returning, over the face of the soul? how many times the soul is made to start, look back, and tremble, while it is pursuing the pleasure, profit, applause, or preferment that sin, when finished, promiseth to yield unto the soul? for God is such a lover of the soul, that He seldom lets it go on in sin, but He cries to it, by His Word and providences, 'Oh! do not this abominable thing that I hate!' (Jer 44: 4); especially at first, until it shall have hardened itself, and so provoked Him to give it up in sin-revenging judgment to its own ways and doings, which is the terriblest judgment under heaven; and this brings me to the third thing, the which I now will speak to.
3. As the soul receives, detains, entertains, and wilily worketh to bring sin from the motion into act, so it abhorreth to be controlled and taken off of this work— 'My soul loathed them,' says God, 'and their soul also abhorred Me' (Zech 6:8). My soul loathed them, because they were so bad; and their souls abhorred Me, because I am so good. Sin, then, is the cause of the loss of the soul; because it hath set the soul, or, rather, because the soul of love to sin hath set itself against God. 'Woe unto their soul, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves' (Isa 3:9).
[Through sin the soul sets itself against God.]
Third, That you may the better perceive that the soul, through sin, has set itself against God, I will propose, and speak briefly to, these two things: —
I. The law. II. The gospel.
I. For the law. God has given it for a rule of life, either as written in their natures, or as inserted in the Holy Scriptures; I say, for a rule of life to all the children of men. But what have men done, or how have they carried it to this law of their Creator; let us see, and that from the mouth of God himself.
1. 'They have not hearkened unto My words' (Jer 6:19).
2. 'They have forsaken My law' (Jer 9:13).
3. They 'have forsaken Me, and have not kept My law' (Jer 16:11).
4. They have not 'walked in My law, nor in My statutes' (Jer 44: 4).
5. 'Her priests have violated My law' (Eze 22:26).
6. And, saith God, 'I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.' (Hos 8:12).
Now, whence should all this disobedience arise? Not from the unreasonableness of the commandment, but from the opposition that is lodged in us against God, and the enmity that it entertains against goodness. Hence the apostle speaks of the emnity, and says, that men are enemies in their minds, their souls, as is manifest by wicked works (Col 1:21). This, if men went no further, must needs be highly provoking to a just and holy God: yea, so highly offensive is it, that, to show the heat of His anger, He saith, 'Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil,' and this evil with a witness, 'of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile,' that doth evil (Rom 2:8,9). That breaketh the law; for that evil He is crying out against now. But,
II. To speak of the gospel, and of the carriage of sinful souls towards God under that dispensation.
The gospel is a revelation of a sovereign remedy, provided by God, through Christ, for the health and salvation of those that have made themselves objects of wrath by the breach of the law of works; this is manifest by all the Scripture. But how doth the soul carry it towards God, when He offereth to deal with it under and by this dispensation of grace? Why, just as it carried it under the law of works: they oppose, they contradict, they blaspheme, and forbid that this gospel be mentioned (Acts 13:45; 27:6). What higher affront or contempt can be offered to God, and what greater disdain can be shown against the gospel? (2 Tim 2:25; 1 Thess 2:14-16). Yet all this the poor soul, to its own wrong, offereth against the way of its own salvation; as it is said in the Word of truth, 'He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death' (Prov 8:36).
But, further, the soul despiseth not the gospel in that revelation of it only, but the great and chief bringer thereof, with the manner, also, of His bringing of it. The Bringer, the great Bringer of the gospel, is the good Lord Jesus Christ himself; He 'came and preached peace to them that the law proclaimed war against; became and preached peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh' (Eph 2:17). And it is worth your observation to take notice how He came, and that was, and still is, as He is set forth in the word of the gospel; to wit, first, as making peace Himself to God for us in and by the blood of His cross; and then, as bearing (as set out by the gospel) the very characters of His sufferings before our faces in every tender of the gospel of His grace unto us. And to touch a little upon the dress in which, by the gospel, Christ presenteth unto us while He offereth unto sinful souls His peace, by the tenders thereof.
1. He is set forth as born for us, to save our souls (Isa 9:6; Luke 2:9-12).
2. He is set forth before us as bearing of our sins for us, and suffering God's wrath for us (1 Cor 15:3; Gal 3:13).
3. He is set forth before us as fulfilling the law for us, and as bringing of everlasting righteousness to us for our covering (Rom 5:4; Dan 9:24).
Again, as to the manner of His working out the salvation of sinners for them, that they might have peace and joy, and heaven and glory, for ever.
(1.) He is set forth as sweating of blood while He was in His agony, wrestling with the thoughts of death, which He was to suffer for our sins, that He might save the soul (Luke 22:44).
(2.) He is set forth as crying, weeping, and mourning under the lashes of justice that He put Himself under, and was willing to bear for our sins (Heb 5:7).
(3.) He is set forth as betrayed, apprehended, condemned, spit on, scourged, buffeted, mocked, crowned with thorns, crucified, pierced with nails and a spear, to save the soul from being betrayed by the devil and sin; to save it from being apprehended by justice, and condemned by the law; to save it from being spit on, in a way of contempt, by holiness; to save it from being scourged with guilt of sins, as with scorpions; to save it from being continually buffeted by its own conscience; to save it from being mocked at by God; to save it from being crowned with ignominy and shame for ever; to save it from dying the second death; to save it from wounds and grief for ever.
Dost thou understand me, sinful soul? He wrestled with justice, that thou mightest have rest; He wept and mourned, that thou mightest laugh and rejoice; He was betrayed, that thou mightest go free; was apprehended, that thou mightest escape; He was condemned, that thou mightest be justified; and was killed, that thou mightest live; He wore a crown of thorns, that thou mightest wear a crown of glory; and was nailed to the cross, with His arms wide open, to show with what freeness all His merits shall be bestowed on the coming soul; and how heartily He will receive it into His bosom?
Further, all this He did of mere good will, and offereth the benefit thereof unto thee freely; yea, He cometh unto thee, in the word of the gospel, with the blood running down from His head upon His face, with His tears abiding upon His cheeks, with the holes as fresh in His hands and His feet, and as with the blood still bubbling out of His side, to pray thee to accept of the benefit, and to be reconciled to God thereby (2 Cor 5). But what saith the sinful soul to this? I do not ask what he saith with his lips, for he will assuredly flatter God with his mouth; but what doth his actions and carriages declare as to his acceptance of this incomparable benefit? For 'a wicked man speaketh with his feet, and teacheth with his fingers' (Prov 6:12,13). With his feet—that is, by the way he goeth: and with his fingers—that is, by his acts and doings. So, then, what saith he by his goings, by his sets and doings, unto this incomparable benefit, thus brought unto him from the Father, by His only Son, Jesus Christ? What saith he? Why, he saith that he doth not at all regard this Christ, nor value the grace thus tendered unto him in the gospel.
1. He saith, that he regardeth not this Christ, that he seeth nothing in Him why he should admit Him to be entertained in his affections. Therefore the prophet, speaking in the person of sinners, says, 'He (Christ) hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him;' and then adds, to show what he meaneth by his thus speaking, saying, 'he is despised and rejected of men' (Isa 53:2,3). All this is spoken with reference to His person, and it was eminently fulfilled upon Him in the days of His flesh, when He was hated, maligned, and persecuted to death by sinners; and is still fulfilled in the souls of sinners, in that they cannot abide to think of Him with thoughts that have a tendency in them to separate them and their lusts asunder, and to the making of them to embrace Him for their darling, and the taking up of their cross to follow Him. All this sinners speak out with loud voices, in that they stop their ears and shut their eyes as to Him, but open them wide and hearken diligently to anything that pleaseth the flesh, and that is a nursery to sin. But,
2. As they despise, and reject, and do not regard His person, so they do not value the grace that He tendereth unto them by the gospel; this is plain by that indifferency of spirit that always attends them when, at any time, they hear thereof, or when it is presented unto them.
I may safely say, that the most of men who are concerned in a trade, will be more vigilant in dealing with a twelvepenny customer than they will be with Christ when He comes to make unto them, by the gospel, a tender of the incomparable grace of God. Hence they are called fools, because a price is put into their hands to get wisdom, and they have no heart unto it (Prov 18:16). And hence, again, it is that that bitter complaint is made, 'But My people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of Me' (Psa 81:11). Now, these things being found, as practised by the souls of sinners, must needs, after a wonderful manner, provoke; wherefore, no marvel that the heavens are bid to be astonished at this, and that damnation shall seize upon the soul for this (Jer 2).
And indeed, the soul that doth thus by practice, though with his mouth—as who doth not? he shall show much love, he doth, interpretatively, say these things:—
(1.) That he loveth sin better than grace, and darkness better than light, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed, 'And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness more than light (as is manifest), because their deeds were evil' (John 3:19).
(2.) They do, also, by their thus rejecting of Christ and grace, say, that for what the law can do to them, they value it not; they regard not its thundering threatenings, nor will they shrink when they come to endure the execution thereof; wherefore God, to deter them from such bold and desperate ways, that do, interpretatively, fully declare that they make such desperate conclusions, insinuates that the burden of the curse thereof is intolerable, saying, 'Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I, the Lord, have spoken it, and will do it' (Eze 22:14).
(3.) Yea, by their thus doing, they do as good as say that they will run the hazard of a sentence of death at the day of judgment, and that they will, in the meantime, join issue, and stand a trial at that day with the great and terrible God. What else means their not hearkening to Him, their despising of His Son, and the rejecting of His grace; yea I say again, what else means their slighting of the curse of the law, and their choosing to abide in their sins till the day of death and judgment? And thus I have showed you the causes of the loss of the soul; and, assuredly, these things are no fables.
Objection. But some may object, and say, But you denounce all against the soul; the soul, as if the body were in no fault at all; or, as if there were no punishment assigned for the body.
Answer 1. The soul must be the part punished, because the soul is that which sins. 'Every sin that a man doeth is without the body,' fornication or adultery excepted (1 Cor 6:18). 'Is without the body; that is, as to the wilily inventing, contriving, and finding out ways to bring the motions of sin into action. For, alas! What can the body do as to these? It is in a manner wholly passive; yea, altogether as to the lusting and purposing to do the wickedness, excepting the sin before excepted; ay, and not excepting that, as to the rise of that sin; for even that, with all the rest, ariseth and proceedeth out of the heart—the soul; 'For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man' (Mark 7:21-23). That is, the outward man. But a difference must always be put betwixt defiling and being defiled, that which defileth being the worst; not but that the body shall have its share of judgment, for body and soul must be destroyed in hell (Luke 12:4,5; Matt 10:28). The body as the instrument, the soul as the actor; but oh! the soul, the soul, the soul is the sinner; and, therefore, the soul, as the principal, must be punished.
And that God's indignation burneth most against the soul appears in that death hath seized upon every soul already; for the Scripture saith, that every natural or unconverted man is dead (Eph 2:1-3). Dead! How? Is his body dead? No, verily; his body liveth, but his soul is dead (1 Tim 5:6). Dead! But with what death? Dead to God, and to all things gospelly good, by reason of that benumbing, stupifying, and senselessness, that, by God's just judgment for and by sin, hath swallowed up the soul. Yea, if you observe, you shall see that the soul goeth first, or before, in punishment, not only by what has been said already, in that the soul is first made a partaker of death, but in that God first deals with the soul by convictions, yea, and terrors, perhaps, while the body is well; or, in that He giveth up the soul to judicial hardness and further blindness, while He leaveth the body to do His office in the world; yea, and also when the day of death and dissolution is come, the body is spared, while the soul is tormented in unutterable torment in hell. And so, I say, it shall be spared, and the clods of the valley shall be sweet unto it, while the soul mourneth in hell for sin. It is true, at the day of judgment, because that is the last and final judgment of God on men, then the body and soul shall be re-united, or joined together again, and shall then, together, partake of that recompence for their wickedness which is meet. When I say, the body is spared and the soul tormented, I mean not that the body is not then, at death, made to partake of the wages of sin, 'for the wages of sin is death' (Rom 3:23). But I mean, the body partakes then but of temporal death, which, as to sense and feeling, is sometimes over presently, and then resteth in the grave, while the soul is tormenting in hell. Yea, and why is death suffered to slay the body? I dare say, not chiefly for that the indignation of God most burneth against the body; but the body being the house for the soul in this world, God even pulls down this body, that the soul may be stript naked, and being stript, may be carried to prison, to the place where damned souls are, there to suffer in the beginning of suffering, that punishment that will be endless.
Answer 2. Therefore, the soul must be the part most sorely punished, because justice must be distributed with equity. God is a God of knowledge and judgment; by Him actions are weighed; actions in order to judgment (1 Sam 2). Now, by weighing of actions, since He finds the soul to have the deepest hand in sin; and He says that He hath so, of equity the soul is to bear the burden of punishment. 'Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right' in His famous distributing of judgment? (Gen 18:25). 'He will not lay upon man more than right, that he should enter into judgment with God' (Job 34:23). The soul, since deepest in sin, shall also be deepest in punishment. 'Shall one man sin,' said Moses, 'and wilt Thou be wroth with all the congregation?' (Num 1:22). He pleads here for equity in God's distributing of judgment; yea, and so exact is God in the distribution thereof, that He will not punish heathens so as He will punish Jews; wherefore He saith , 'Of the Jew first,' or chiefly, 'and also of the Gentile' (Rom 2:9). Yea, in hell He has prepared several degrees of punishment for the several sorts or degrees of offenders; And some 'shall receive greater damnation' (Luke 22:47). And will it not be unmeet for us to think, since God is so elect in all His doings, that He will, without His weights and measures, give to soul and body, as I may say, carelessly, not severally, their punishments, according to the desert and merit of each?
Answer 3. The punishment of the soul in hell must needs, to be sure, as to degree, differ from the punishment of the body there. When I say, differ, I mean, must needs be greater, whether the body be punished with the same fire with the soul, or fire of another nature. If it be punished with the same fire, yet not in the same way; for the fire of guilt, with the apprehensions of indignation and wrath, are most properly felt and apprehended by the soul, and by the body by virtue of its union with the soul; and so felt by the body, if not only, yet, I think, mostly, by way of sympathy with the soul; and the cause, we say, is worse than the disease; and if the wrath of God, and the apprehensions of it, as discharging itself for sin, and the breach of the law, be that with which the soul is punished, as sure it is: then the body is punished by the effects, or by those influences that the soul, in its torments, has upon the body, by virtue of that great oneness and union that is between them.
But if there be a punishment prepared for the body distinct in kind from that which is prepared for the soul, yet it must be a punishment inferior to that which is prepared for the soul; not that the soul and body shall be severed, but being made of things distinct, their punishments will be by that which is most suitable to each. I say, it must be inferior, because nothing can be so hot, so tormenting, so intolerably insupportable, as the quickest apprehensions of, and the immediate sinking under, that guilt and indignation that is proportional to the offence. Should all the wood, and brimstone, and combustible matter on earth be gathered together for the tormenting of one body, yet that cannot yield that torment to that which the sense of guilt and burning-hot application of the indignation of God will do to the soul; yea, suppose the fire wherewith the body is tormented in hell should be seven times hotter than any of our fire; yea, suppose it, again, to be seven times hotter than that which is seven times hotter than ours, yet it must, suppose it to be but created fire, be infinitely short, as to tormenting operations, of the unspeakable wrath of God, when in the heat thereof He applieth it to, and doth punish the soul for sin in hell therewith. So, then, whether the body be tormented with the same fire wherewith the soul is tormented, or whether the fire be of another kind, yet it is not possible that it should bear the same punishment as to degree, because, or for the causes I have showed. Nor, indeed, is it meet it should, because the body has not sinned so, so grievously as the soul has done; and God proportioneth the punishment suitable to the offence.
Answer 4. With the soul by itself are the most quick and suitable apprehensions of God and His wrath; wherefore, that must needs be made partaker of the sorest punishment in hell; it is the soul that now is the most subtle at discerning, and it is the soul that will be so; then conscience, memory, and understanding, and mind; these will be the seat of torment, since the understanding will let wrath immediately upon these, from what it apprehends of that wrath; conscience will let the wrath of God immediately upon these, from what it fearfully feels of that wrath; the memory will then, as a vessel, receive and retain up to the brim of this wrath, even as it receiveth by the understanding and conscience, the cause of this wrath, and considers the durableness of it; so, then, the soul is the seat and the receiver of wrath, even as it was the receiver and seat of sin; here, then, is sin and wrath upon the soul, the soul in the body, and so soul and body tormented in hell fire.
Answer 5. The soul will be most tormented, because strongest; the biggest burden must lie upon the strongest part, especially since, also, it is made capable of it by its sin. The soul must bear its own punishment, and a great part of the body's too, forasmuch as, so far as apprehension goes, the soul will be quicker at the work than the body. True, the body, by the help of the soul, will see too, but the soul will see yet abundantly further. And good reason that the soul should bear part of the punishment of the body, because it was through its allurements that the body yielded to help the soul to sin. The devil presented sin, the soul took it by the body, and now devil, and soul, and body, and all must be lost, cast away; that is, damned in hell for sin; but the soul must be the burden bearer.
Objection. But you say, Doth not this give encouragement to sinners to give way to the body to be in all its members loose, and vain, and wicked, as instruments to sin?
Answer. No; forasmuch as the body shall also have his share in punishment. For though I have said the soul shall have more punishment than the body, yet I have not said, that the body shall at all be eased by that; no, the body will have its due. And for the better making out of my answer further, consider of these following particulars:—
(1.) The body will be the vessel to hold the tormented soul in; this will be something; therefore man, damned man, is called a vessel of wrath, a vessel, and that in both body and soul (Rom 9:22). The soul receiveth wrath unto itself, and the body holdeth that soul that has thus received, and is tormented with, the wrath of God. Now the body being a vessel to hold this soul that is thus possessed with the wrath of God, must needs itself be afflicted and tormented with that torment, because of its union with the body; therefore the Holy Ghost saith, 'His flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn' (Job 14:22). Both shall have their torment and misery, for that both joined hand in hand in sin, the soul to bring it to the birth, and the body to midwife it into the world; therefore it saith again, with reference to the body, 'Let the curse come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.' Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle, etc. (Psa 109:17-19). The body, then, will be tormented as well as the soul, by being a vessel to hold that soul that is now possessed and distressed with the unspeakable wrath and indignation of the Almighty God, and this will be a great deal, if you consider,
(2.) That the body, as a body, will, by reason of its union with the soul, be as sensible, and so as capable in its kind, to receive correction and torment as ever, nay, I think more; for if the quickness of the soul giveth quickness of sense to the body, as in some case, at least, I am apt to think it doth, then forasmuch as the soul will now be most quick, most sharp in apprehension, so the body, by reason of union and sympathy with the soul, will be most quick and most sharp as to sense. Indeed, if the body should not receive and retain sense, yea, all its senses, by reason of its being a vessel to hold the soul, the torment of the soul could not as torment, be ministered to the body, no more than the fire tormented the king of Babylon's furnace (Dan 3). Or than the king of Moab's lime kiln was afflicted because the king of Edom's bones were burnt therein. But now the body has received again its senses, now therefore it must, yea, it cannot choose but must feel that wrath of God that is let out, yea, poured out like floods of water into the soul. Remember also, that besides what the body receiveth from the soul by reason of its union and sympathy therewith, there is a punishment, and instruments of punishment, though I will not pretend to tell you exactly what it is, prepared for the body for its joining with the soul in sin, therewith to be punished; a punishment, I say, that shall fall immediately upon the body, and that such an one as will most fitly suit with the nature of the body, as wrath and guilt do most fitly suit the nature of the soul.
(3.) Add to these, the durable condition that the body in this state is now in with the soul. Time was when the soul died, and the body lived, and the soul was tormented while the body slept and rested in the dust; but now these things are past; for at the day of judgment, as I said, these two shall be re-united, and that which once did separate them, be destroyed; then of necessity they must abide together, and, as together, abide the punishment prepared for them; and this will greaten the torment of the body.
Death was once the wages of sin, and a grievous curse; but might the damned meet with it in hell, they would count it a mercy, because it would separate soul and body, and not only so, but take away all sense from the body, and make it incapable of suffering torment; yea, I will add, and by that means give the soul some ease; for without doubt, as the torments of the soul extend themselves to the body, so the torments of the body extend themselves to the soul; nor can it be otherwise, because of union and sympathy. But death, natural death, shall be destroyed, and there shall be no more natural death, no, not in hell (1 Cor 15:26). And now it shall happen to men, as it hath done in less and inferior judgments. They shall seek death, and desire to die, and death shall not be found by them (Job 3:21; Rev 9:6). Thus therefore they must abide together; death that used to separate them asunder is now slain—1. Because it was an enemy in keeping Christ's body in the grave; and, 2. Because a friend to carnal men in that, though it was a punishment in itself, yet while it lasted and had dominion over the body of the wicked, it hindered them of that great and just judgment which for sin was due unto them; and this is the third discovery of the manner and way of punishing of the body. But,
(4.) There will then be such things to be seen and heard, which the eye and the ear—to say no more than has been said of the sense of feeling—will see and hear, that will greatly aggravate the punishment of the body in hell; for though the eye is the window, and the ear a door for the soul to look out at, and also to receive in by, yet whatever goeth in at the ear or the eye leaves influence upon the body, whether it be that which the soul delighteth in, or that which the soul abhorreth; for as the eye affecteth the heart, or soul (Lam 3:51) so the eye and ear, by hearing and beholding, doth ofttimes afflict the body. 'When I heard, my belly trembled—rottenness entered into my bones.' (Hab 3:16).
Now, I say, as the body after its resurrection, to damnation, to everlasting shame and contempt (Dan 12:2; John 5:29) will receive all its senses again, so it will have matter to exercise them upon, not only to the letting into the soul those aggravations which they by hearing, feeling, and seeing are capable to let in thither, but, I say, they will have matter and things to exercise themselves upon for the helping forward of the torment of the body. Under temporal judgments of old, the body as well as the soul had no ease, day or night, and that not only by reason of what was felt, but by reason of what was heard and seen. 'In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! And at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning!' (Deu 28:67). 1. 'For the fear of thine heart, wherewith thou shalt fear;' 2. 'And for the sight of thine eyes, which thou shalt see.' Nay, He tells them a little before, that they should be mad for the sight of their eyes which they should see (verse 34).
See! why, what shall they see? Why, themselves in hell, with others like them; and this will be a torment to their body. There is bodily torment, as I said, ministered to the body by the senses of the body. What think you? If a man saw himself in prison, in irons, upon the ladder, with the rope about his neck, would not this be distress to the body, as well as to the mind? To the body, doubtless. Witness the heavy looks, the shaking legs, trembling knees, pale face, and beating and aching heart; how much more, then, when men shall see themselves in the most dreadful place; it is a fearful place, doubtless, to all to behold themselves in that shall come thither (Luke 16:28).
Again; they shall see others there, and shall by them see themselves. There is an art by which a man may make his neighbour look so ghastly, that he shall fright himself by looking on him, especially when he thinks of himself, that he is of the same show also. It is said concerning men at the downfall of Babylon, that they shall be amazed one at another, for 'their faces shall be as flames' (Isa 13:8). And what if one should say, that even as it is with a house set on fire within, where the flame ascends out at the chimneys, out at the windows, and the smoke out at every chink and crevice that it can find, so it will be with the damned in hell. That soul will breathe hell fire and smoke, and coals will seem to hang upon its burning lips; yea, the face, eyes, and ears will seem all to be chimneys and vents for the flame and smoke of the burning which God by His breath hath kindled therein, and upon them, which will be beheld one in another, to the great torment and distress of each other.
What shall I say? Here will be seen devils, and here will be heard howlings and mournings; here will the soul see itself at an infinite distance from God; yea, the body will see it too. In a word, who knows the power of God's wrath, the weight of sin, the torments of hell, and the length of eternity? If none, then none can tell, when they have said what they can, the intolerableness of the torments that will swallow up the soul, the lost soul, when it is cast away by God, and from Him, into outer darkness for sin. But this much for the cause of the loss of the soul.
I now come to the second doctrine that I gathered from the words—namely, that how unconcerned and careless soever some now be about the loss or salvation of their souls, the day is coming, but it will then be too late, when men will be willing, had they never so much, to give it all in exchange for their souls. There are four things in the words that do prove this doctrine.
1. There is an intimation of life and sense in the man that has lost, and that after he has lost, his soul in hell— 'Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' These words are by no means applicable to the man that has no life or sense; for he that is dead according to our common acceptation of death, that is, deprived of life and sense, would not give twopence to change his state; therefore the words do intimate that the man is yet alive and sensible. Now were a man alive and sensible, though he was in none other place than the grave, there to be confined, while others are at liberty, what would he give in exchange for his place, and to be rid of that for a better! but how much more to be delivered from hell, the present place and state of his soul!
2. There is in the text an intimation of a sense of torment 'Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' I am tormented in this flame. Torment, then, the soul is sensible of, and that there is a place of ease and peace. And from the sense and feeling of torment, he would give, yea, what would he not give, in exchange for his soul?
3. There is in the text an intimation of the intolerableness of the torment, because that it supposeth that the man whose soul is swallowed up therewith would give all, were his all never so great, in exchange for his soul.
4. There is yet in the text an intimation that the soul is sensible of the lastingness of the punishment, or else the question rather argues a man unwary than considerate in his offering, as is supposed by Christ, so largely, his all in exchange for his soul.
But we will, in this manner, proceed no further, but take it for granted that the doctrine is good; wherefore I shall next inquire after what is contained in this truth. And,
FIRST, That God has undertaken, and will accomplish, the breaking of the spirits of all the world, either by His grace and mercy to salvation, or by His justice and severity to damnation. The damned soul under consideration is certainly supposed, as by the doctrine, so by the text, to be utterly careless, and without regard of salvation, so long as the acceptable time did last, and as the white flag, that signifies terms of peace, did hang out; and, therefore, it is said to be lost; but, behold, now it is careful, but now it is solicitous, but now, 'what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' He of whom you read in the gospel, that could tend to do nothing in the days of the gospel but to find out how to be clothed in purple and fine linen, and to fare sumptuously every day, was by God brought so down, and laid so low at last, that he could crouch, and cringe, and beg for one small drop of water to cool his tongue—a thing, that but a little before he would have thought scorn to have done, when he also thought scorn to stoop to the grace and mercy of the gospel (Luke 16:19,24). But God was resolved to break his spirit, and the pride of his heart, and to humble his lofty looks, if not by His mercy, yet by His justice; if not by His grace, yet by hell fire.
This he also threatens to bring upon the fool in the Proverbs— 'They shall call, they shall seek, they shall cry' (Prov 1:22-32). Who shall do so? The answer is, They that sometimes scorned either to seek, or call, or cry; they that stopped their ears, that pulled away their shoulders, and that refused to seek, or call, or cry to God for mercy (Zech 7:11-13).
Sinner, careless sinner, didst thou take notice of this first inference that I have drawn from my second doctrine? If thou didst, yet read it again: it is this, 'God has undertaken, and will accomplish, the breaking of the spirits of all the world, either by His grace and mercy unto salvation, or by His justice and severity to damnation.' The reason for this is this: God is resolved to have the mastery, He is resolved to have the victory. 'Who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together' (Isa 27:4). I will march against them. God is merciful, and is come forth into the world by His Son, tendering of grace unto sinners by the gospel, and would willingly make a conquest over them for their good by His mercy. Now He being come out, sinners like briars and thorns do set themselves against Him, and will have none of His mercy. Well, but what says God? Saith He, Then I will march on, I will go through them, and burn them together. I am resolved to have the mastery one way or another; if they will not bend to Me, and accept of My mercy in the gospel, I will bend them and break them by My justice in hell fire. They say they will not bend; I say they shall; now they 'shall know whose words shall stand, Mine or theirs.' (Jer 44:25-28). Wherefore the apostle, when he saw that some of the Corinthians began to be unruly, and to do those things that did begin to hazard them, saith, 'Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?' (1 Cor 5:22). As who should say, My brethren, are you aware what you do? do you not understand that God is resolved to have the mastery one way or another? and are you stronger than He? if not, tremble before Him, or He will certainly have you under His feet— 'I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury' (Isa 63:3). Thus He speaks of them that set themselves against Him; therefore beware. Now the reason of this resolution of God, it flows from a determination in Him to make all His sayings good, and to verify them on the consciences of sinners. And since the incredulous world will not believe now, and fly from wrath, they shall shortly believe and cry under it; since they will not now credit the Word, before they see, unto salvation, they shall be made to credit it by sense and feeling unto damnation.
SECOND, The second inference that I draw from my second doctrine is this: 'That it is, and will be the lot of some to bow and break before God, too late, or when it is too late.' God is resolved, as I said. to have the mastery, and that not only in a way of dominion and lordship in general, for that He has now, but He is resolved to master, that is, to break the spirit of the world, to make all men cringe and crouch unto Him, even those that now say, 'There is no God,' (Psa 14:1); or if there be, yet, 'What is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?' (Job 21:15; Mal 3:14).
This is little thought of by those that now harden their hearts in wickedness, and that turn their spirit against God; but this they shall think of, this they must think of, this God will make them think of in that day, at which day they also now do mock and deride, that the Scripture might be fulfilled upon them (2 Peter 3:3,4). And, I say, they shall think then of those things, and break at heart, and melt under the hand, and power, and majesty of the Almighty; for, 'As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me; and every tongue shall confess to God' (Isa 45:23; Rom 14:11). And again, 'The nations shall see, and be confounded at all their might; they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms,' or creeping things, 'of the earth; they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of Thee' (Micah 7:16,17).
For then they, will they nill they, shall have to do with God, though not with Him as merciful, or as one that may be intreated; yet with Him all just, and as devouring fire (Heb 7:29). Yea, they shall see that face, and hear that voice, from whom and from which the heavens and the earth will fly away, and find no place of stay. And by this appearance, and by such words of His mouth as He then will speak to them, they shall begin to tremble, and call for the rocks to fall upon them and cover them; for if these things will happen at the execution of inferior judgments, what will be done, what effects will the last, most dreadful, and eternal judgment, have upon men's souls?
Hence you find, that at the very first appearance of Jesus Christ, the whole world begins to mourn and lament— 'Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him' (Rev 1:7). And, therefore, you also find them to stand at the door and knock, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open unto us' (Luke 14:25; Matt 25:11). Moreover, you find them also desiring, yea, also so humble in their desires as to be content with the least degree of mercy—one drop, one drop upon the tip of one's finger. What stooping, what condescension, what humility is here! All, and every one of those passages declare, that the hand of God is upon them, and that the Almighty has got the mastery of them, has conquered them, broke the pride of their power, and laid them low, and made them cringe and crouch unto him, bending the knee, and craving of kindness. Thus, then, will God bow, and bend, and break them; yea, make them bow, and bend, and break before Him. And hence also it is they will weep, and mourn, and gnash their teeth, and cry, and repent that ever they have been so foolish, so wicked, so traitorous to their souls, such enemies of their own eternal happiness, as to stand out in the day of their visitation in a way of rebellion against the Lord.
But here is their hard hap, their dismal lot and portion, that all these things must be when it is too late. It is, and will be, the lot and hap of these to bow, bend, and break too late (Matt 25). You read they come weeping and mourning, and with tears; they knock and they cry for mercy; but what did tears avail? Why, nothing; for the door was shut. He answered and said, 'I know not whence you are.' But they repeat and renew their suit, saying, 'We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.' What now? Why, He returns upon them His first answer the second time, saying, 'I know not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity;' then He concludes, 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out' (Luke 13:26,28). They come weeping, and go weeping away. They come to Him weeping, for they saw that He had conquered them; but they departed weeping, for they saw that He would damn them; yet, as we read in another place, they were very loath to go from Him, by their reasoning and expostulating with Him— 'Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?' But all would not do; here is no place for change of mind— 'These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal' (Matt 25:44-46). And now what would a man give in exchange for his soul? So that, as I said before, all is too late; they mourn too late, they repent too late, they pray too late, and seek to make an exchange for their soul too late. 'Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'
Two or three things there may yet be gathered from these words; I mean, as to the desires of them that have lost their souls, to make for them an exchange; 'What shall a man give in exchange?'—what shall, what would, yea, what would not a man, if he had it, give in exchange for his soul?
First, What would not a man—I mean, a man that is in the condition that is by the text supposed some men are and will be in—give in exchange to have another man's virtue instead of their own vices? 'Let me die the death of the righteous;' let my soul be in the state of the soul of the righteous—that is, in reference to his virtues, when I die, 'and let my last end be like his' (Num 23:10). It is a sport now to some to taunt, and squib, and deride at other men's virtues; but the day is coming when their minds will be changed, and when they shall be made to count those that have done those righteous actions and duties which they have scoffed at, the only blessed men; yea, they shall wish their soul in the blessed possession of those graces and virtues, that those whom they hated were accompanied with, and would, if they had it, give a whole world for this change; but it will not now do, it is now too late. What then shall a man give in exchange for his soul? And this is more than intimated in that 25th of Matthew, named before: for you find by that text how loath they were, or will be, to be counted for unrighteous people— 'Lord,' say they, 'when did we see thee an hungred, or athirst, naked, or sick, and did not minister unto thee?' Now they are not willing to be of the number of the wicked, though hereto-fore the ways of the righteous were an abomination to them. But, alas! they are before a just God, a just Judge, a Judge that will give every one according to their ways; therefore, 'Woe unto (the soul of) the wicked now, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him' (Isa 3:11). Thus, therefore, he is locked up as to this; he cannot now change his vice for virtues, nor put himself nor his soul in the stead of the soul of the saved; so that it still, and will, for ever abide a question unresolved,' Or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' I do not doubt but that a man's state may be such in this world, that if he had it he would give thousands of gold to be as innocent and guiltless in the judgment of the law of the land as is the state of such or such, heartily wishing that himself was not that he, that he is; how much more then will men wish thus when they stand ready to receive the last, their eternal judgment. 'But what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'
Second, As they would, for the salvation of their souls, be glad to change away their vices for the virtues, their sins for the good deeds of others; so what would they not give to change places now, or to remove from where now they are, into paradise, into Abraham's bosom! But neither shall this be admitted; the righteous must have their inheritance to themselves—' Neither,' said Abraham, 'can they pass to us, that would come from thence,' (Luke 16:26); neither can they dwell in heaven that would come from hell.
They then that have lost, or shall lose their souls are bound to their place, as well as to their sins. When Judas went to hell, he went to his home, 'to his own place' (Acts 1:25). And when the righteous go hence, they also go home to their house, to their own place; for the kingdom of heaven is prepared for them (Matt 25:34). Between heaven and hell 'there is a great gulf fixed' (Luke 26:26). That is a strange passage: 'There is a great gulf fixed.' What this gulf is, and how impassable, they that shall lose their souls will know to their woe; because it is fixed there where it is, on purpose to keep them in their tormenting place, so that they that would pass from hell to heaven cannot. But, I say, 'Would they not change places? would they not have a more comfortable house and home for their souls?' Yes, verily, the text supposes it, and the 16th of Luke affirms it; yea, and could they purchase for their souls a habitation among the righteous, would they not? Yes, they would give all the world to such a change. What shall, what shall not, a man, if he had it, if it would answer his design, give in exchange for his soul?
Third, As the damned would change their own vices for virtues, and the place where they are for that into which they shall not come, so what would they give for a change of condition? Yea, if an absolute change may not be obtained, yet what would they give for the least degree of mitigation of that torment, which now they know will without any intermission be, and that for ever and ever. 'Tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath' (Rom 2:8,9), the gnawing worm, and everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, cannot be borne but with great horror and grief (2 Thess 1:7-10). No marvel, then, if these poor creatures would, for ease for their souls, be glad to change their conditions. Change!—with whom? with an angel, with a saint; ay, with a dog or a toad; for they mourn not, they weep not, nor do they bear indignation of wrath; they are as if they had not been; only the sinful soul abides in its sins, in the place designed for lost souls, and in the condition that wrath and indignation for sin and transgression hath decreed them to abide for ever. And this brings me to the conclusion, which is, 'that seeing the ungodly do seek good things too late,' therefore, notwithstanding their seeking, they must still abide in their place, their sins, and their torment— 'For what can a man give in exchange for his soul?' Therefore, God saith, that they there must still abide and dwell, no exchange can be made. 'This shall ye have of Mine hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow;' they shall lie down in it, they shall make their bed there, there they shall lie (Isa 50:11; Eze 32:25-27). And this is the bitter pill that they must swallow down at the last; for, after all their tears, their sorrows, their mournings, their repentings, their wishings and woundings, and all their inventings, and desires to change their state for a better, they must 'lie down in sorrow.' The poor condemned man that is upon the ladder or scaffold has, if one knew them, many a long wish and long desire that he might come down again alive, or that his condition was as one of the spectators that are not condemned and brought thither to be executed as he. How carefully also doth he look with his failing eyes, to see if some comes not from the king with a pardon for him, all the while endeavouring to fumble away as well as he can, and to prolong the minute of his execution! But at last, when he has looked, when he has wished, when he has desired, and done whatever he can, the blow with the axe, or turn with the ladder, is his lot, so he goes off the scaffold, so he goes from among men; and thus it will be with those that we have under consideration; when all comes to all, and they have said, and wished, and done what they can, the judgment must not be reversed—they must 'lie down in sorrow.'
They must, or shall lie down! Of old, when a man was to be chastised for his fault, he was to lie down to receive his stripes; so here, saith the Lord, they shall lie down—'And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face' (Deu 25:2). And this lying down was to be his lot after he had pleaded for himself what be could—and the judge shall cause him to be beaten before his face, while he is present to behold the execution of judgment; and thus it shall be at the end of the world; the wicked shall lie down, and shall be beaten with many stripes in the presence of Christ, 'and in the presence of the holy angels' (2 Thess 1; Rev 14:10). For there will be His presence, not only at the trial as Judge, but to see execution done, nay, to do it Himself by the pouring out, like a river, His wrath as burning brimstone upon the soul of the lost and cast away sinner.
He shall lie down! These words imply that, at last, the damned soul shall submit; for to lie down is an act that signifies submission, especially to lie down to be beaten. 'The wicked shall be silent in darkness' (1 Sam 2:9). When the malefactor has said and wished all that be can, yet at last he submits, is silent, and, as it were, helps to put his head into the halter, or doth lay down his neck upon the block; so here it is said of the damned—They shall lie down in sorrow. There is also a place that saith, 'These shall go away into everlasting punishment' (Matt 25:46). To go, to go to punishment, is also an act of submission. Now, submission to punishment doth, or should, flow from full conviction of the merit of punishment; and I think it is so to be understood here— For 'every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world (of soul losers) become guilty before God' (Rom 3:4,19; Luke 13:25-28; Matt 25:46). Every mouth shall be stopped, not at the beginning of the judgment, for then they plead, and pray, and also object against the Judge; but at the end, after that by a judicial proceeding He shall have justified against them His sayings, and have overcome these His judges, then they shall submit, and also lie down in sorrow; yea, they shall go away to their punishment as those who know they deserve it; yea, they shall go away with silence.
How they shall behave themselves in hell, I will not here dispute; whether in a way of rage and blasphemy, and in rending and tearing of the name and just actions of God towards them, or whether by way of submission there; I say, though this is none of this task, yet a word or two, if you please.
Doubtless they will not be mute there; they will cry and wail, and gnash their teeth, and, perhaps, too, sometimes at God; but I do not think but that the justice that they have deserved, and the equal administration of it upon them, will, for the most part, prevail with them to rend and tear themselves, to acquit and justify God, and to add fuel to their fire, by concluding themselves in all the fault, and that they have sufficiently merited this just damnation; for it would seem strange to me that just judgment among men shall terminate in this issue, if God should not justify himself in the conscience of all the damned. But as here on earth, so He will let them know that go to hell that He hath not done without a cause, a sufficient cause, all that He hath done in damning of them (Eze 14:23).
[USE AND APPLICATION.]
I come now to make some use and application of the whole. And,
USE FIRST—If the soul be so excellent a thing as we have made it appear to be, and if the loss thereof be so great a loss, then here you may see who they are that are those extravagant ones; I mean, those that are such in the highest degree. Solomon tells us of 'a great waster,' and saith also, that he that is slothful in his business is brother to such an one (Prov 18:9). Who Solomon had his eye upon, or who it was that he counted so great a waster, I cannot tell; but I will challenge all the world to show me one, that for wasting and destroying, may be compared to him that for the lusts and pleasures of this life will hazard the loss of his soul. Many men will be so profuse, and will spend at that prodigal rate, that they will bring a thousand pound a year to five hundred, and five hundred to fifty, and some also will bring that fifty to less than ninepence; but what is this to him that shall never leave losing until he has lost his soul? I have heard of some who would throw away a farm, a good estate, upon the trundling of one single bowl; but what is this to the casting away of the soul? Nothing can for badness be compared to sin; it is the vile thing, it cannot have a worse name than its own; it is worse than the vilest men, than the vilest of beasts; yea, sin is worse than the devil himself, for it is sin, and sin only, that hath made the devils devils; and yet for this, for this vile, this abominable thing, some men, yea, most men, will venture the loss of their soul; yea, they will mortgage, pawn, and set their souls to sale for it (Jer 44:4). Is not this a great waster? doth not this man deserve to be ranked among the extravagant ones? What think you of him who, when he tempted the wench to uncleanness, said to her, If thou wilt venture thy body, I'll venture my soul? Was not here like to be a fine bargain, think you? or was not this man like to be a gainer by so doing? This is he that prizes sin at a higher rate than he doth his immortal soul; yea, this is he that esteems a quarter of an hour's pleasure more than he fears everlasting damnation. What shall I say? This man is minded to give more to be damned, than God requires he should give to be saved; is not this an extravagant one? 'Be astonished, O ye heavens! at this, and be horribly afraid!' (Jer 2:9-12). Yea, let all the angels stand amazed at the unaccountable prodigality of such an one.
Objection 1. But some may say, I cannot believe that God will be so severe as to cast away into hell fire an immortal soul for a little sin.
Answer. I know thou canst not believe it, for if thou couldst, thou wouldst sooner eat fire than run this hazard; and hence all they that go down to the lake of fire are called the unbelievers; and the Lord shall cut thee, that makest this objection, asunder, and shall appoint thee thy portion with such, except thou believe the gospel, and repent (Luke 12:46).
Objection 2. But surely, though God should be so angry at the beginning, it cannot in time but grieve Him to see and hear souls roaring in hell, and that for a little sin.
Answer. Whatsoever God doeth, it abideth for ever (Eccl 3:14). He doth nothing in a passion, or in an angry fit; He proceedeth with sinners by the most perfect rules of justice; wherefore it would be injustice, to deliver them whom the law condemneth, yea, He would falsify His word, if after a time He should deliver them from hell, concerning whom He hath solemnly testified, that they shall be there for ever.
Objection 3. O but, as He is just, so He is merciful; and mercy is pitiful, and very compassionate to the afflicted.
Answer. O, but mercy abused becomes most fearful in tormenting. Did you never read that the Lamb turned lion, and that the world will tremble at the wrath of the Lamb, and be afflicted more at the thoughts of that, than at the thoughts of anything that shall happen to them in the day when God shall call them to an account for their sins? (Rev 6:16,17). The time of mercy will be then past, for now is that acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation; the gate of mercy will then be shut, and must not be opened again; for now is that gate open, now it is open for a door of hope (2 Cor 6:2; Matt 25:10; Luke 13:25).
The time of showing pity and compassion will then be at an end; for that as to acting towards sinners will last but till the glass of the world is run, and when that day is past, mark what God saith shall follow, 'I will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you' (Prov 1:26,27). Mark you how many pinching expressions the Lord Jesus Christ doth threaten the refusing sinner with; the sinner with, that refuseth Him now—I will laugh at him, I will mock at him. But when, Lord, wilt thou laugh at, and mock at, the impenitent? The answer is, 'I will laugh at their calamities, and mock when their fear cometh; when their fear cometh as desolation, and their destruction like a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon them.'
Objection 4. But if God Almighty be at this point, and there be no moving of Him to mercy at that day, yet we can but lie in hell till we are burnt out, as the log doth at the back of the fire.
Answer. Poor besotted sinner, is this thy last shift? wilt thou comfort thyself with this? Are thy sins so dear, so sweet, so desireable, so profitable to thee, that thou wilt venture a burning in hell fire for them till thou art burnt out? Is there nothing else to be done but to make a covenant with death, and to maintain thy agreement with hell? (Isa 28:15). Is it not better to say now unto God, Do not condemn me? and to say now, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner? Would not tears, and prayers, and cries, in this acceptable time, to God for mercy, yield thee more benefit in the next world than to lie and burn out in hell will do?
But to come more close to thee. Have not I told thee already that there is no such thing as a ceasing to be? that the damned shall never be burned out in hell? there shall be no more such death, or cause of dissolution for ever. This one thing, well considered, breaks not only the neck of that wild conceit on which thy foolish objection is built, but will break thy stubborn heart in pieces. For then it follows, that unless thou canst conquer God, or with ease endure to conflict with His sin-revenging wrath, thou wilt be made to mourn while under His everlasting wrath and indignation; and to know that there is not such a thing as a burning out in hell fire.
Objection 5. But, if this must be my case, I shall have more fellows; I shall not go to hell, nor yet burn there, alone.
Answer. What, again; is there no breaking of the league that is betwixt sin and thy soul? What, resolved to be a self-murderer, a soul murderer? what, resolved to murder thine own soul? But is there any comfort in being hanged with company? in sinking into the bottom of the sea with company? or in going to hell, in burning in hell, and in enduring the everlasting pains of hell, with company? O besotted wretch! But I tell thee, the more company, the more sorrow; the more fuel, the more fire. Hence the damned man that we read of in Luke desired that his brethren might be so warned and prevailed with as to be kept out of that place of torment (Luke 16:27,28). But to hasten; I come now to the second use.
USE SECOND.—Is it so? Is the soul such an excellent thing, and the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then here you may see who are the greatest fools in the world—to wit, those who, to get the world and its preferments, will neglect God till they lose their souls. The rich man in the gospel was one of these great fools, for that he was more concerned about what he should do with his goods, than how his soul should be saved (Luke 7:16-21). Some are for venturing their souls for pleasures, and some are for venturing their souls for profits; they that venture their souls for pleasures have but little excuse for their doings; but they that venture their soul for profit seem to have much. 'And they all with one consent began to make excuse;'—excuse for what? why, for the neglect of the salvation of their souls. But what was the cause of their making this excuse? Why, their profits came tumbling in. 'I have bought a piece of ground;' 'I have bought five yoke of oxen;' and 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come' (Luke 14:15-20).
Thus also it was with the fool first mentioned; his ground did bring forth plentifully, wherefore he must of necessity forget his soul, and, as he thought, all the reason of the world he should. Wherefore, he falls to crying out, What shall I do? Now, had one said, Mind the good of thy soul, man; the answer would have been ready, But where shall I bestow my goods. If it had been replied, Stay till harvest; he returns again, But I have no room where to bestow my goods. Now, tell him of praying, and he answers, he must go to building. Tell him, he should frequent sermons, and he replies, he must mind his workmen. 'He cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?' (Isa 44:20).
And see if, in the end, he did not become a fool; for though he accomplished the building of his barns, and put in there all his fruits and his goods, yet even till now his soul was empty, and void of all that was good; nor did he, in singing of that requiem which he sung to his soul at last, saying, 'Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry,' show himself ever the wiser; for, in all his labours he had rejected to get that food that indeed is meat and drink for the soul. Nay, in singing this song he did but provoke God to hasten to send to fetch his soul to hell; for so begins the conclusion of the parable— 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?' So that, I say, it is the greatest folly in the world for a man, upon any pretence what ever, to neglect to make good the salvation of his soul.
There are six signs of a fool, and they do all meet in that same man that concerns not himself, and that to good purpose, for the salvation of his soul. 1. A fool has not an heart, when the price is in his hand, to get wisdom. (Prov 17:16). 2. 'It is a sport to a fool to do mischief.' and to set light by the commission of sin (Prov 10:23). 3. 'Fools despise wisdom;' 'fools hate knowledge' (Prov 1:7,22). 4. ' A fool,' after restraint, 'returneth to his folly' (Prov 26:11). 5. 'The way of a fool is right in his own eyes' (Prov 7:15). 6. The fool goes merrily 'to the correction of the stocks' (Prov 7:22).
I might add many more, but these six shall suffice at this time, by which it appears that the fool has no heart for the heavenly prize, yet he has to sport himself in sin; and when he despises wisdom, the way is yet right before him; yea, if he be for some time restrained from vice, he greedily turneth again thereto, and will, when he has finished his course of folly and sin in this world, go as heedlessly, as carelessly, as unconcernedly, and quietly, down the steps to hell, as the ox goeth to the slaughter-house, This is a soul fool, a fool of the biggest size; and so is every one also that layeth up treasure for himself on earth, 'and is not rich towards God' (Luke 7:21).
Objection 1. But would you not have us mind our worldly concerns?
Answer. Mind them, but mind them in their place; mind thy soul first and most; the soul is more than the body, and eternal life better than temporal; first seek the kingdom of God, and prosper in thy health and thy estate as thy soul prospers (Matt 6:33; 3 John 2). But as it is rare to see this command obeyed, for the kingdom of God shall be thought of last, so if John's wish was to light upon, or happen to some people, they would neither have health nor wealth in this world. To prosper and be in health, as their soul prospers—what, to thrive and mend in outwards no faster? then we should have them have consumptive bodies and low estates; for are not the souls of most as unthrifty, for grace and spiritual health, as is the tree without fruit that is pulled up by the roots?
Objection 2. But would you have us sit still and do nothing?
Answer. And must you needs be upon the extremes? must you mind this world to the damning of your souls? or will you not mind your callings at all? Is there not a middle way? may you not, must you not, get your bread in a way of honest industry; that is, caring most for the next world, and so using of this as not abusing the same? (1 Cor 7: 20-31). And then a man doth so, and never but then, when he sets this world and the next in their proper places, in his thoughts, in his esteem, and judgment, and dealeth with both accordingly (2 Cor 4:18). And is there not all the reason in the world for this? are not the things that are eternal best? Will temporal things make thy soul to live? or art thou none of those that should look after the salvation of their soul? (Deu 8:3; Matt 5:4; Heb10:39).
Objection 3. But the most of men do that which you forbid, and why may not we?
Answer. God says, 'Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil' (Exo 23:2). It is not what men do, but what God commands; it is not what doth present itself unto us, but what is best, that we should choose (Matt 6:23; Luke 10:41,42). Now, 'He that refuseth instruction, despiseth his own soul;' and 'He that keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own soul' (Prov 15:32; 19:16). Make not, therefore, these foolish objections. But what saith the Word? how readest thou? That tells thee, that the pleasures of sin are but for a season; that the things that are seen are but temporal; that he is a fool that is rich in this world, and is not so towards God; 'and what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'
Objection 4. But may one not be equally engaged for both?
Answer. A divided heart is a naughty one (Heb 10:2). 'You cannot serve God and mammon' (Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13). ' If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,' (1 John 2:15); and yet this objection bespeaks that thy heart is divided, that thou art a Mammonist, or that thou lovest the world. But will riches profit in the day of wrath? (Prov 11:4). Yea, are they not hurtful in the day of grace? do they not tend to surfeit the heart, and to alienate a man and his mind from the things that are better? (Luke 21:34). Why, then, wilt thou set thy heart upon that which is not? yea, then what will become of them that are so far off of minding of their souls, that they, for whole months, and years together, scarce consider whether they have souls to save?
USE THIRD.— But, thirdly, is it so? Is the soul such an excellent thing, and is the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then this should teach people to be very careful to whom they commit the teaching and guidance of their souls.
This is a business of the greatest concern; men will be careful to whom they commit their children, who they make the executors of their will, in whose hand they trust the writing and evidences of their lands; but how much more careful should we be, and yet the most are the least of all careful, unto whom they commit the teaching and guidance of their souls. There are several sorts of soul shepherds in the world: 1. There are idol shepherds (Zech 6:5). 2. There are foolish shepherds (Zech 11:15). 3. There are shepherds that feed themselves, and not their flock (Eze 34:2) 4. There are hard-hearted and pitiless shepherds (Zech 9: 3). 5. There are shepherds that, instead of healing, smite, push, and wound the diseased (Eze 34:4,21). 6. There are shepherds that 'cause their flocks to go astray' (Jer 50:6). 7. And there are shepherds that feed their flock; these are the shepherds to whom thou shouldst commit thy soul for teaching and for guidance.
Question. You may ask, How should I know those shepherds?
Answer. First, surrender up thy soul unto God, by Christ, and choose Christ to be the chief Shepherd of thy soul; and He will direct thee to His shepherds, and He will, of His mercy, set such shepherds over thee 'as shall feed thee with knowledge and understanding' (1 Peter 2:25; 4:19; John 10:4,5; Song 1:7, 8; Jer 3:15; 23:4). Before thou hast surrendered up thy soul to Christ, that He may be thy chief Shepherd, thou canst not find out, nor choose to put thy soul under the teaching and guidance of His under shepherds, for thou canst not love them; besides, they are so set forth by false shepherds, in so many ugly guises, and under so many false and scandalous dresses, that, should I direct thee to them while thou art a stranger to Christ, thou wilt count them deceivers, devourers, and wolves in sheeps' clothing, rather than the shepherds that belong to the great and chief Shepherd, who is, also, the Bishop of the soul.
Yet this I will say unto thee, take heed of that shepherd that careth not for his own soul, that walketh in ways, and doth such things, as have a direct tendency to damn his own soul; I say, take heed of such an one, come not near him, let him have nothing to do with thy soul; for if he be not faithful to that which be his own soul, be sure he will not be faithful to that which is another man's. He that feeds his own soul with ashes, will scarce feed thine with the bread of life; wherefore, take heed of such an one; and many such there are in the world (Isa 44:20). 'By their fruits you shall know them;' they are for flattering of the worst, and frowning upon the best; they are for promising of life to the profane, and for slaying the souls that God would have live; they are also men that hunt souls that fear God, but for sewing pillows under those arm holes which God would have to lean upon that which would afflict them. These be them 'that, with lies, do make the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad;' saith God; and that have 'strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he shall not return from his wicked way, by promising of him life' (Eze 13:18-22).
And as thou shouldest, for thy soul's sake, choose for thyself good soul shepherds, so also, for the same reason, you should choose for yourself a good wife, a good husband, a good master, a good servant; for in all these things the soul is concerned. Abraham would not suffer Isaac to take a wife of the daughters of Canaan, (Gen 24:3); nor would David suffer a wicked servant to come into his house, or to tarry in his sight (Psa 101:7). Bad company is, also, very destructive to the soul, and so is evil communication; wherefore, be diligent to shun all these things, that thou mayest persevere in that way, the end of which will be the saving of thy soul (Prov 13:20; 1 Cor 15:33).
And since, under this head, I am fallen upon cautions, let me add these to those which I have presented to thee already:
Caution 1. Take heed, take heed of learning to do evil of any that are good. 'Tis possible for a good man to do things that are bad; but let not his bad action embolden thee to run upon sin. Seest thou a good man that stumbleth at a stone, or that slippeth into the dirt—let that warn thee to take heed; let his stumble make thee wary, let his fall make thee look well to thy goings; 'ever follow that which is good' (1 Thess 5:15). Thy soul is at stake.
Caution 2. Take heed of the good things of bad men, for in them there lies a snare also; their 'good words and fair speeches' tend to deceive (Rom 16:17, 18). Learn to be good, by the Word of God and by the holy lives of them that be good; envy not the wicked, 'nor desire to be with them;' 'choose none of his ways' (Prov 3:31; 24:1). Thy soul lies at stake.
Caution 3. Take heed of playing the hypocrite in religion. What of God and His Word thou knowest, profess it honestly, conform to it heartily, serve Him faithfully; for what is the hypocrite bettered by all his profession, 'when God taketh away his soul?' (Job 27:8).
Caution 4. Take heed of delays to turn to God, and of choosing His ways for the delight of thy heart, 'for the Lord's eye is upon them that fear Him, to deliver their souls' (Psa 33:18,19).
Caution 5. Boast not thyself of thy flocks and thy herds, of thy gold and thy silver, of thy sons and of thy daughters. What is a house full of treasures, and all the delights of this world, if thou be empty of grace, 'if thy soul be not filled with good?' (Eccl 6:3). But,
USE FOURTH.—Is it so? Is the soul such an excellent thing, and is the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then, I pray thee, let me inquire a little of thee, what provision thou hast made for thy soul? There be many that, through their eagerness after the things of this life, do bereave their soul of good, even of that good the which if they had it would be a good to them for ever (Eccl 4:8). But I ask not concerning this; it is not what provision thou hast made for this life, but what for the life, and the world to come. 'Lord, gather not my soul with sinners,' saith David, (Psa 26:9); not with men of this world: Lord, not with them that have their portion in this life, whose belly Thou fillest with Thy hid treasures. Thus you see how Solomon laments some, and how his father prays to be delivered from their lot who have their portion in this life, and that have not made provision for their soul. Well, then, let me inquire of thee about this matter. What provision hast thou made for thy soul? And,
1. What hast thou thought of thy soul? What ponderous thoughts hast thou had of the greatness and of the immortality of thy soul? This must be the first inquiry: for he that hath not had his thoughts truly exercised, ponderously exercised, about the greatness and the immortality of his soul, will not be careful, after an effectual manner, to make provision for his soul, for the life and world to come. The soul is a man's all, whether he knows it or no, as I have already showed you. Now a man will be concerned about what he thinks is his all. We read of the poor servant that 'setteth his heart upon' his wages (Deu 24:14,15). But it is because it is his all, his treasure, and that wherein his worldly worth lieth. Why, thy soul is thy all; it is strange if thou dost not think so! and more strange if thou dost think so, and yet hast light, seldom, and trivial thoughts about it. These two seem to be inconsistent, therefore let thy conscience speak; either thou hast very great and weighty thoughts about the excellent greatness of thy soul, or else thou dost not count that thy soul is so great a thing as it is, else thou dost not count it thy all.
2. What judgment hast thou made of the present state of thy soul? I speak now to the unconverted. Thy soul is under sin, under the curse, and an object of wrath; this is that sentence that by the Word is passed upon it— 'Woe unto their soul,' saith God, 'for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.' (Isa 3:9). This is the sentence of God. Well, but what judgment hast thou passed upon it while thou livest in thy debaucheries? Is it not that which thy fellows have passed on theirs before thee, saying, 'I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst' (Deu 29:19). If so, know thy judgment is gross, thy soul is miserable, and turn, or in little time thine eyes will behold all this.
3. What care hast thou had of securing of thy soul, and that it might be delivered from the danger that by sin it is brought into? if a man has a horse, a cow, or a swine that is sick, or in danger by reason of this or that casualty, he will take care for his beast, that it may not perish; he will pull it out of the ditch on the Sabbath day. But, oh! that is the day on which many men do put their soul into the ditch of sin; that is the day that they set apart to pursue wickedness in. But, I say, what care hast thou taken to get thy soul out of this ditch?—a ditch out of which thou canst never get it without the aid of an omnipotent arm. In things pertaining to this life, when a man feels his own strength fail, he will implore the help and aid of another; and no man can, by any means, deliver by his own arm his soul from the power of hell, which thou also wilt confess, if thou beest not a very brute; but what hast thou done with God for help? hast thou cried? hast thou cried out? yea, dost thou still cry out, and that day and night before him— 'Deliver my soul' (Psa 17:13) 'Save my soul, preserve my soul' (Psa 25:20) 'Heal my soul,' (Psa 42:4), and, 'I pour out my soul unto thee?' (Psa 62:5). Yea, canst thou say, My soul, my soul waiteth upon God, my soul thirsteth for Him, my soul followeth hard after him? (Psa 63:1,8). I say, dost thou this, or dost thou hunt thine own soul to destroy it? The soul, with some, is the game, their lusts are the dogs, and they themselves are the huntsmen, and never do they more halloo, and lure, and laugh, and sing, than when they have delivered up their soul, their darling, to these dogs—a thing that David trembled to think of, when he cried, 'Dogs have compassed me. Deliver my darling,' my soul, 'from the power of the dog' (Psa 22:16,20). Thus, I say, he cried, and yet these dogs were but wicked men. But, oh! how much is a sin, a lust, worst than a man to do us hurt; yea, worse than is a dog, (or) a lion, to hurt a lamb!
4. What are the signs and tokens that thou bearest about thee, concerning how it will go with thy soul at last? There are signs and tokens of a good, and signs and tokens of a bad end that the souls of sinners will have; there are signs of the salvation of the soul, (Heb 6:9); evident tokens of salvation; and there are signs of the damnation of the soul, evident signs of damnation (Phil 1:27,28; Job 21:29,30; 1 Sam 3:9). Now, which of these hast thou? I cannot stand here to show thee which are which; but thy soul and its salvation lieth before thee, and thou hast the book [the Holy Bible] of signs about these matters by thee; thou hast also men of God to go to, and their assemblies to frequent. Look to thyself; heaven and hell are hard by, and one of them will swallow thee up; heaven, into unspeakable and endless glory, or hell, into unspeakable and endless torment. Yet,
5. What are the pleasures and delights of thy soul now? Are they things Divine, or things natural? Are they things heavenly, or things earthly? Are they things holy, or things unholy? For look what think thou delightest in now, to those things the great God doth count thee a servant, and for and of those thou shalt receive thy wages at the day of judgment— 'His servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness' (Rom 16:16).
Wicked men talk of heaven, and say they hope and desire to go to heaven, even while they continue wicked men; but, I say, what would they do there? If all that desire to go to heaven should come thither, verily they would make a hell of heaven; for, I say, what would they do there? why, just as they do here, scatter their filthiness quite over the face of heaven, and make it as vile as the pit that the devils dwell in. Take holiness away out of heaven, and what is heaven? I had rather be in hell, were there none but holy ones there, than be in heaven itself with the children of iniquity. If heaven should be filled with wicked men, God would quickly drive them out, or forsake the place for their sakes. It is true, they have been sinners, and none but sinners, that go to heaven; but they are washed—' Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God' (1 Cor 6:11). When the maidens were gathered together for the great king Ahasuerus, before they were brought to him into his royal presence, they were to be had to the house of the women, there to be purifed with things for purification, and that for twelve months together—to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and other things, and so came every maiden to the king (Esth 2:3,9,12,13). God also hath appointed that those that come into His royal presence should first go to the house of the women, the church, and there receive of the eunuchs things for purification, things to make us 'meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light' (Col 1:12). None can go from a state of nature to glory but by a state of grace, the Lord gives grace and glory; hence he that goeth to heaven is said to be wrought for it, fitted, prepared for it (1 Cor 5:5; Rom 19:23).
USE FIFTH, Again, fifthly, Is it so? is the soul such an excellent thing, and is the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then this doctrine commends those for the wise ones, that above all business concern themselves with the salvation of their souls; those that make all other matters but things by the by, and the salvation of their souls the one thing needful. But, but few comparatively will be concerned with this use; for where is he that doth this? Solomon speaks of one man of a thousand (Eccl 7:28). However, some there be, and blessed be God for some; but they are they that are wise, yea, wise in the wisdom of God.
1. Because they reject what God hath rejected and that is sin. 2. Because they esteem but little of that which, by the Word, is counted but of little esteem, and that is the world. 3. Because they choose for a portion that which God commendeth unto us for that which is the most excellent thing —viz., Himself, His Christ, His heaven, His Word, His grace, and holiness; these are the great and most excellent things, and the things that He has chosen that is truly wise for his soul (and all other wise men are fools in God's account, and in the judgment of His Word), and if it be so, glory and bliss must needs be their portion, though others shall miss thereof— 'The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools' (Prov 3:35).
Let me, then, encourage those that are of this mind to be strong, and hold on their way. Soul, thou hast pitched right; I will say of thy choice as David said of Goliath's sword, 'There is none like that; give it me.' 'Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown' (Rev 3:11). Oh! I admire this wisdom; this is by the direction of the Lawgiver; this is by the teaching of the blessed Spirit of God: not the wisdom which this world teacheth, nor the wisdom which the world doth choose, which comes to nought (1 Cor 2: 6). Surely thou hast seen something of the world to come, and of the glory of it, through faith; surely God has made thee see emptiness in that wherein others find a fulness, and vanity in that which by others is counted for a darling. Blessed are thine eyes, for they see; and thine ears, for they hear.
But who told thee that thy soul was such an excellent thing as by thy practice thou declarest thou believest it to be? What! set more by thy soul than by all the world? What! cast a world behind thy back for the welfare of a soul? Is not this to play the fool, in the account of sinners, while angels wonder at and rejoice for thy wisdom? What a thing is this, that thy soul and its welfare should be more in thy esteem than all those glories wherewith the eyes of the world are dazzled! Surely thou hast looked upon the sun, and that makes gold look like a clod of clay in thine eyesight.
But who put the thoughts of the excellencies of the things that are eternal—I say, who put the thoughts of the excellency of those things into thy mind in this wanton age?—in an age wherein the thoughts of eternal life, and the salvation of the soul, are with and to many like the Morocco ambassador and his men, men of strange faces, in strange habit, with strange gestures and behaviour, monsters to behold. But where hadst thou that heart that gives entertainment to these thoughts, these heavenly thoughts? These thoughts are like the French Protestants, banished thence where they willingly would have harbour. How came they to thy house, to thy heart, and to find entertainment in thy sou1? The Lord keep them in every imagination of the thoughts of thy heart for ever, and incline thine heart to seek Him more and more.
And since the whole world have slighted and despised, and counted foolish the thoughts and cogitations wherewith thy soul is exercised, what strong and mighty supporter is it upon and with which thou bearest up thy spirit, and takest encouragement in this thy forlorn, unoccupied, and singular way? for so, I daresay, it is with the most; but certainly it is something above thyself, and that is more mighty to uphold thee than is the power, rage, and malice of all the world to cast thee down, or else thou couldst not bear up, now wind and weather, now the stream and the force thereof are against thee.
Objection 1. 'I know my soul is an excellent thing, and that the world to come and its glories, even in the smallest glimpse thereof, do swallow up all the world that is here; my heart also doth greatly desire to be exercised about the thoughts of eternity, and I count myself never better than when my poor heart is filled with them; as for the rage and fury of this world, it swayeth very little with me, for my heart is come to a point; but yet, for all that, I meet with many discouragements, and such things that indeed do weaken my strength in the way.'
But, brave soul, pray tell me what the things are that discourage thee, and that weaken thy strength in the way?
Why, the amazing greatness of this my enterprise, that is one thing. I am now pursuing things of the highest, the greatest, the most enriching nature, even eternal things; and the thoughts of the greatness of them drowned me; for when the heat of my spirit in the pursuit after them is a little returned and abated, methinks I hear myself talking thus to myself: Fond fool! canst thou imagine that such a gnat, a flea, a pismire as thou art, can take and possess the heavens, and mantle thyself up in the eternal glories? If thou makest first a trial of the successfulness of thy endeavours upon things far lower, more base, but much more easy to obtain, as crowns, kingdoms, earldoms, dukedoms, gold, silver, or the like, how vain are these attempts of thine; and yet thou thinkest to possess thy soul of heaven! Away, away! by the height thereof thou mayest well conclude it is far above out of thy reach; and by the breadth thereof it is too large for thee to grasp; and by the nature of the excellent glory thereof, too good for thee to possess. These are the thoughts that sometimes discourage me, and that weaken my strength in the way.
Answer. The greatness of thy undertaking does but show the nobleness of thy soul, in that it cannot, will not, be content with such low and dry as the baseborn spirits that are of the world can and do content themselves withal. And as to the greatness of the things thou aimest at, though they be, err they are indeed, things that have not their like, yet they are not too big for God to give, and He has promised to give them to the soul that seeketh Him; yea, He hath prepared the kingdom, given the kingdom, and laid up in the kingdom of heaven, the things that thy soul longeth for, presseth after, and cannot be content without (Luke 7:32; Matt 25:14; Col 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4). As for thy making a trial of the successfulness of thy endeavours upon things more interim and base, that is but a trick of the old deceiver. God has refused to give His children the great, the brave, and glorious things of this world, a few only excepted, because He has prepared some better thing for them (1 Cor 1:27; Heb 11:36-40). Wherefore faint not, but let thy hand be strong, for thy work shall be rewarded (Gal 6:9). And since thy soul is at work for soul-things, for divine and eternal things, God will give them to thee; thou art not of the number of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul; thou shalt receive the end of thy faith, the salvation of thy soul (Heb 10:39; 1 Peter 1:8,9).
Objection 2. But all my discouragement doth not lie in this. I see so much of the sinful vileness of my nature, and feel how ready it is to thrust itself forth at all occasions to the defiling of my whole man, and more. Now this added to the former, adds to my discouragement greatly.
Answer. This should be cause of humiliation and of self-abasement, but not of discouragement; for the best of saints have their weaknesses, these their weaknesses. The ladies as well as she that grinds at the mill, know what doth attend that sex; and the giants in grace as well as the weak and shrubs, are sensible of the same things, which thou layest in against thy exercising of hope, or as matter of thy discouragement. Poor David says (Psa 77:2) 'My soul refused to be comforted,' upon this very account, and Paul cries out under sense of this, 'O wretched man that I am!' and comes as it were to the borders of doubt, saying, 'Who shall deliver me?' (Rom 7:24). Only he was quick at remembering that Christ was his righteousness and price of redemption, and there he relieved himself.
Again; this should drive us to faith in Christ; for therefore are the corruptions by Divine permission still left in us; they are not left in us to drive us to unbelief, but to faith—that is, to look to the perfect righteousness of Christ for life. And for further help, consider, that therefore Christ liveth in heaven, making intercession, that thou mightest be saved by His life, not by thine, and by His intercessions, not by thy perfections (Rom 5: 6-9; Col 1:20). Let not therefore thy weaknesses be thy discouragements; only let them put thee upon the duties required of thee by the gospel—to wit, faith, hope, repentance, humility, watchfulness, diligence, etc. (1 Peter 1:13; 5:5; 2 Cor 7:11; Mark 13:37; 2 Peter 1:10).
Objection 3. But I find, together with these things, weakness and faintness as to my graces; my faith my hope, my love, and desires to these and all other Christian duties are weak; I am like the man in the dream, that would have run, but could not; that would have fought, but could not; and that would have fled, but could not.
Answer 1. Weak graces are graces, weak graces may grow stronger; but if the iron be blunt, put to the more strength (Eccl 10:10). 2. Christ seems to be most tender of the weak: 'He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.' (Isa 40:11). And again, 'I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick' (Eze 34:16). Only here will thy wisdom be manifested—to wit, that thou grow in grace, and that thou use lawfully and diligently the means to do it (2 Peter 3:18; Phil 2:10,11; 1 Thess 3:11-13).
USE SIXTH, I come, in the next place, to a use of terror, and so I shall conclude. Is it so? is the soul such an excellent thing, and is the loss thereof so unspeakably great? Then this showeth the sad state of those that lose their souls. We use to count those in a deplorable condition, that by one only stroke, are stript of their whole estate; the fire swept away all that he had; or all that he had was in such a ship, and that ship sunk into the bottom of the sea; this is sad news, this is heavy tidings, this is bewailed of all, especially if such were great in the world, and were brought by their loss from a high to a low, to a very low condition; but alas! what is this to the loss about which we have been speaking all this while? The loss of an estate may be repaired, or if not, a man may find friends in his present deplorable condition to his support, though not recovery; but far will this be from him that shall lose his soul. Ah! he has lost his soul, and can never be recovered again, unless hell fire can comfort him; unless he can solace himself in the fiery indignation of God; terrors will be upon him, anguish and sorrow will swallow him up, because of present misery; slighted and set at nought by God and His angels, he will also be in this miserable state, and this will add to sorrow, sorrow, and to his vexation of spirit, howling.
To present you with emblems of tormented spirits, or to draw before your eyes the picture of hell, are things too light for so ponderous a subject as this; nor can any man frame or invent words, be they never so deep and profound, sufficient to the life to set out the torments of hell.
All those expressions of fire, brimstone, the lake of fire, a fiery furnace, the bottomless pit, and a hundred more to boot, are all too short to let forth the miseries of those that shall be damned souls. 'Who knoweth the power or God's anger?' (Psa 90:11). None at all; and unless the power of that can be known, it must abide as unspeakable as the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
We hear it thunder, we see it lighten; yea, eclipses, comets, and blazing stars are all subject to smite us with terror; the thought of a ghost, of the appearing of a dead wife, a dead husband, or the like, how terrible are these things! But alas, what are these? mere flea bitings, nay, not so bad, when compared with the torments of hell. Guilt and despair, what are they? Who understands them unto perfection? The ireful looks of an infinite Majesty, what mortal in the land of the living can tell us to the full, how dismal and breaking to the soul of a man it is, when it comes as from 'the power of His anger,' and arises from the utmost indignation? Besides, who knows of all the ways by which the Almighty will inflict His just revenges upon the souls of damned sinners? When Paul was caught up to the third heaven, he heard words that were unspeakable; and he that goes down to hell shall hear groans that are unutterable. Hear, did I say? they shall feel them, they shall feel them burst from their wounded spirit as thunderclaps do from the clouds. Once I dreamed that I saw two (whom I knew) in hell, and methought I saw a continual dropping from heaven, as of great drops of fire lighting upon them, to their sore distress. Oh! words are wanting, thoughts are wanting, imagination and fancy are poor things here; hell is another kind of place and state than any alive can think; and since I am upon this subject, I will here treat a little of hell as the Scriptures will give me leave, and the rather because I am upon a use of terror, and because hell is the place of torment (Luke 16).
1. Hell is said to be beneath, as heaven is said to be above; because as above signifieth the utmost joy, triumph, and felicity, so beneath is a term most fit to describe the place of hell by, because of the utmost opposition that is between these two; hell being the place of the utmost sorrow, despair, and misery; there are the underlings ever trampled under the feet of God; they are beneath, below, under (Prov 15:24)!
2. Hell is said to be darkness, and heaven is said to be light; light, to show the pleasureableness and the desireableness of heaven; and darkness, to show the dolesome and wearisomeness of hell; and how weary, oh! how weary and wearisomely, as I may say, will damned souls turn themselves from side to side, from place to place, in hell, while swallowed up in the thickest darkness, and griped with the burning thoughts of the endlessness of that most unutterable misery (Matt 22:13)!
3. Men are said to go up to heaven, but they are said to go down to hell; up, because of exaltation, and because they must abound in beauty and glory that go to heaven; down, because of those sad dejections, that great deformity and vile contempt that sin hath brought them to that go to hell (Eze 32:18).
4. Heaven is called a hill or mount, (Heb 12); hell is called a pit, or hole, (Rev 9:2); heaven, a mount, the mount Zion, (Rev 14); to show how God has, and will exalt them that loved Him in the world; hell, a pit or hole, to show how all the ungodly shall be buried in the yawning paunch and belly of hell, as in a hollow cave.
5. Heaven! It is said of heaven, the height of heaven, (Job 22:12). and of hell, the bottomless pit, (Rev 9:2; 20:3). The height of heaven, to show that the exaltation of them that do ascend up thither is both perfect and unsearchable; and hell, the bottomless pit, to show that the downfall of them that descend in thither will never be at an end—down, down, down they go, and nothing but down, down still!
6. Heaven! It is called the paradise of God, (Rev 2:7); but hell, the burning lake (Rev 20:15). A paradise, to show how quiet, harmless, sweet, and beautiful heaven shall be to them that possess it, as the garden was at the beginning of the creation; hell, the burning lake, to allude to Sodom, that since its destruction is turned into a stinking lake, and to show that as their distress was unutterable, and to the highest amazement, full of confusion and horror, when that tempestuous storm of fire and brimstone was rained from the Lord out of heaven upon them, so, to the utmost degree, shall it be with the souls that are lost and cast into hell.
7. It is said that there are dwelling houses, or places in the kingdom of heaven (John 14: 1-3; Zech 3:7; Isa 57:1,2). And also that there are the cells or the chambers of death in hell (Prov 7:27). There are mansions or dwelling places in heaven, to show that every one of them that go thither might have his reward, according to his work; and that there is hell, and the lowest hell (Deu 32:22; Psa 86:13). And the chambers of death in hell to show there are places and states in hell too, for sinners to be imprisoned in, according to their faults; hence it is said of some, These shall receive greater damnation, (Luke 20:47); and of others, That it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgment than for them, etc. (Luke 10:12, 14).
The lowest hell. How many hells there are above that, or more tolerable tormenting places than the most exquisite torments there, God, and they that are there, know best; but degrees without doubt there are; and the term 'lowest' shows the utmost and most exquisite distress; so the chambers of death, the second death in hell, for so I think the words should be understood— 'Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death' (Prov 7:27). These are the chambers that the chambers in the temple, or that the dwelling places in the house in heaven, are opposed to: and this opposition shows, that as there will be degrees of glory in heaven, so there will of torments in hell; and there is all reason for it, since the punishment must be inflicted by God, the infinitely just. Why should a poor, silly, ignorant man, though damned, be punished with the same degree of torment that he that has lived a thousand times worse shall be punished with? It cannot be; justice will not admit it; guilt, and the quality of the transgression, will not admit it; yea, the tormenting fire of hell itself will not admit it; for if hell fire can kindle upon nothing but sin, and the sinner for the sake of it, and if sin be as oil to that fire, as the Holy Ghost seems to intimate, saying, 'Let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones' (Psa 109:18). Then as the quantity of the oil is, so will the fire burn, and so will the flaming flame ascend, and the smoke of their torment, for ever and ever. Suppose a piece of timber a little bedaubed with oil, and another that has been soaking in it many a year, which of these two, think you, would burn fiercest? and from whence would the flaming flame ascend highest, and make the most roaring noise? Suppose two vessels filled with oil, one containing the quantity of a pint, the other containing the quantity of a hogshead, and suppose that in one place they were both set on fire, yet so that they might not intermix flames; nay, though they did, yet all would conclude that the most amazing roaring flame would be upon the biggest vessel, and would be the effect of the greatest quantity of oil; so it will be with the wicked in hell. The lowest hell is for the biggest sinners, and theirs will be the greater damnation, and the more intolerable torment, though he that has least of this oil of sin in his bones, and of the kindlings of hell fire upon him, will find he has hell enough, and will be weary enough thereof, for still he must struggle with flames that are everlasting; for sin is such a thing, that it can never be burned out of the soul and body of a damned sinner.
But again; having treated thus of hell, we will now speak a word or two of sin, for that is it upon which hell fire seizes, and so on the soul by that. Sin! it is the sting of hell—the sting of death is sin (1 Cor 15:56). By 'death' in this place we must not understand that which is natural, but that which is in hell, the second death, even everlasting damnation; for natural death the saints die, yea, and also many sinners, without the least touch of a sting from that; but here is a death that has a sting to hurt, to twinge, and wound the sinner with, even then when it has the utmost mastery of him. And this is the death that the saved are delivered from; not that which is natural, for that is the end of them as of others (1 Cor 15:55; Eccl 2:15, 16). But the second death, the death in hell, for that is the portion of the damned, and it is from that that the saints have a promise of deliverance— 'He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death' (Rev 2:11). And again, 'Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power' (Rev 20:6). It is this death, then, that hath the chambers to hold each damned soul in: and sin is the twining, winding, biting, poisoning sting of this death, or of these chambers of hell, for sinners to be stricken, stung, and pierced with. 'The sting of death is sin.' Sin, the general of it, is the sting of hell, for there would be no such thing as torment even there, were it not that sin is there with sinners; for, as I have hinted already, the fire of hell, the indignation and wrath of God, can fasten and kindle upon nothing but for or because of sin; sin, then, as sin, is the sting and the hell of hells, of the lowest and upmost hells. Sin, I say, in the nature of it, simply as it is concluded both by God and the damned to be a breach of His holy law, so it is the sting of the second death, which is the worm of hell. But then, as sin is such a sting in itself, so it is heightened, sharpened, and made more keen and sharp by those circumstances that as concomitants attend it in every act: for there is not a sin at any time committed by man, but there is some circumstance or other attends it, that makes it, when charged home by God's law, bigger and sharper, and more venom and poisonous to the soul than if it could be committed without them; and this is the sting of the hornet, the great sting. I sinned without a cause to please a base lust, to gratify the devil; here is the sting! Again, I preferred sin before holiness, death before life, hell before heaven, the devil before God, and damnation before a Saviour; here is the sting! Again, I preferred moments before everlastings, temporals before eternals, to be racked and always slaying before the life that is blessed and endless; here is the sting! Also, this I did against light, against convictions, against conscience, against persuasion of friends, ministers, and the godly lives which I beheld in others; here is the sting! Also, this I did against warnings, forewarnings, yea, though I saw others fall before my face by the mighty hand of God for committing of the same; here is the sting!
Sinners, would I could persuade you to hear me out! A man cannot commit a sin, but, by the commission of it, he doth, by some circumstance or other, sharpen the sting of hell, and that to pierce himself through and through, and through, with many sorrows (1 Tim 6:10) Also, the sting of hell to some will be, that the damnation of others stand upon their score, for that by imitating of them, by being deluded by them, persuaded by them, drawn in by them, they perish in hell for ever; and hence it is that these principal sinners must die all these deaths in themselves, that those damned ones that they have drawn into hell are also to bear in their own souls for ever. And this God threatened to the prince of Tyrus, that capital sinner, because by his pride, power, practice, and policy, he cast down others into the pit; therefore saith God to him, 'They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas.' And again; 'Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God' (Eze 28:8,10). Ah! this will be the sting of them, of those that are principal, chief and, as I may call them, the captain and ringleading sinners. Vipers will come out of other men's fire and flames, and settle upon, seize upon, and for ever abide upon their consciences; and this will be the sting of hell, the great sting of hell to them.
I will yet add to all this; how will the fairness of some for heaven, even the thoughts of that, sting them when they come to hell! It will not be so much their fall into the pit, as from whence they fell into it, that will be to them the buzzing noise and sharpened sting of the great and terrible hornet. 'How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer!' there is the sting (Isa 14:12). Thou that art exalted up to heaven shalt be thrust down to hell, though thou hast made 'thy nest among the stars,' from thence I will fetch thee down; there is a sting (Matt 11:23; Oba 4). To be pulled, for and through love to some vain lust, from the everlasting gates of glory, and caused to be swallowed up for it in the belly of hell, and made to lodge for ever in the darksome chambers of death, there is the piercing sting!
But again, as there is the sting of hell, so there is the strength of that sting; for a sting though never so sharp, or venom, yet if it wanteth strength to force it to the designed execution, it doth but little hurt. But this sting has strength to cause it to pierce into the soul; 'the sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law ' (1 Cor 15:56). Here then is the strength of the stings of hell; it is the law in the perfect penalty of it; 'for without the law, sin is dead' (Rom 7:8). Yea, again he saith, 'where no law is, there is no transgression' (Rom 4:15). The law then followeth, in the executive part of it, the soul into hell, and there strengtheneth sin, that sting of hell, to pierce by its unutterable charging of it on the conscience, the soul for ever and ever; nor can the soul justly murmur or repine at God or at His law, for that then the sharply apprehensive soul will well discern the justness, righteousness, reasonableness, and goodness of the law, and that nothing is done by the law unto it, but that which is just and equal.
This, therefore, will put great strength and force into sin to sting the soul, and to strike it with the lashes of a scorpion. Add yet to these the abiding life of God, the Judge and God of this law, will never die. When princes die, the law may be altered by the which at present transgressors are bound in chains; but oh! here is also that which will make this sting so sharp and keen, the God that executes it will never die. 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' (Heb 10:30, 31).