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only took them out of the way of temptation and danger, and concealed thein for a season in his safe hiding-place : I mourned in the day-time for a lost son or a lost daughter, and in the night my couch was bedewed with my tears : I was scared with midnight dreams on their account, and the visions of the grave terridied me because my children were there: I gave up myself to sorrow for fear of the displeasure of my God both against them and against me: But how unreasonable were these sorrows ? Huw groundless were my fears? How gloriously am I disappointed this blessed morning? I see my dear offspring called out of that long retreat where God had concealed them, and they arise to meet the divine call. I hear them answering with joy to the happy summons. My eyes behold them risen in the image of my God and their God; they are near me, they stand with me at the right-hand of the Judge; now shall we rejoice together in the sentence of eternal blessedness from the lips of my Lord, my Redeemer and their Redeemer." Amen.
Among my papers I have found a speech spoken at a grave,
which 'I transcribed almost fifty years ago, and which de serves to be saved from perishing. It was pronounced many years before at the funeral of a pious person, by a minister there present, supposed to be the Rev. Mr. Peter Sterry; and the subject of it being saited to this discourse, I thought it not improper to preserve it here.
“ CHRISTIAN friends, though sin be entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ; Rom v. 12. yet it seems not wholly suitable to our christian hope, to stand by and see the grave with open mouth take in, and swallow down any part of a precious saint, and not bring some testimony against the devourer. And yet that our witness may be in righteousness, we must first own, acknowledge, and accept of that good and serviceableness that is in it.
“ For through the death and resurrection of our dear Re deemer, death and the grave are become sweetened to us, and sanctified for us : So that as death is but a sleep, the grave through his lying down in it and rising again, is becoine as a bed of repose to them that are in him, and a safe and quiet hidingplace for his saints till the resurrection.
“ And in this respect we do for ourselves, and for this our dearly beloved in the Lord, accept of thee, O grave, and readily deliver up
her body to thee; it is a body that hath been weakened and wearied with long affliction and anguisb, we freely give it into thee : receive it, and let it have in thee a quiet rest from all its labours; for thus we read it written of thee; There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rests Job iii. 17.
“ Besides, it is, O grave, a body that hath been sweetly embalmed by a virtuous, pious, peaceable conversation, by several inward openings and out-pourings of the Spirit of life, by much patience and meekness in strong trials and afflictions : Receive it, and let it enjoy in thee, what was once deeply impressed on her own heart, and in a due season written out with her own hand, a sabbath in the grave : For thus also we find it recorded of our Lord and her Lord, that he enjoyed the rest of his last sabbath in the grave.
« Bat we know thee, O grave, to be also a devourer, and yet we can freely deliver up the body into thee. There was in it a contracted corruptibility, dishonour and weakness ; take them as thy proper prey, they belong to thee, and we would not withhold them from thee : Freely swallow them up for ever, that they may appear no more.
" Yet knów, O, grave, there is in the body, considered as once united to such a soul, a divine relation to the Lord of life ; and this thou must not, thou canst not dissolve or destroy. But know, and even before thee, and over thee be it spoken, that there is a season hastening wherein we shall expect it again from thee in incorruption, honour, and power.
e now sow into thee in dishonour, but expect it again returned from thee in glory; we now sow it into thee, in weakness, we expect it again in power; we now sow it into thee a a natural body, we look for it again from thee a spiritual body; 1 Cor, xv. 42--44.
" And when thou hast fulfilled that end for which the prince of life, who took thee captive, made thee to serve, theu shalt thou who hast devoured, be thyself also swallowed up; for thus it is written of thee, Odeath, I will be thy plague, o grave, I will be thy destruction; Ilos. xiii. 14. “And then shall we sing over thee what also is written of thee, O death, where is now thy sting? O grave, where is now thy victory ? 1 Cor. XV. 55. Amen."
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DISCOURSE XII. The Nature of the Punishments in Hell. Mark ix. 46. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not
INTRODUCTION. THESE words are a short description of hell, by the lips of the Son of God, who came down from heaven : And he who lay in the bosom of his father, and was intimate in all the counsels of his mercy and justice, must be supposed to know what the terrors and the wrath of God are, as well as his compassion and his goodness. It is confessed, that a discourse on this dreadful subject is not a direct ministration of grace, and the glad titlings of salvation, yet it has a great and happy tendency to the same end, 'even the salvation of sinful men ; for it awakens them to a more piercing sight, and to a more keen sensation of their own guilt and 'danger; it possesses their spirits with a more lively sense of their misery, it fills them with a holy dread of divine punishment, and excites the powerful passion of fear to make them fly from the wrath to come, and betake themselves to the grace of God revealed in the gospel.
The blessed Saviour himself, who was the most perfect image of bis Father's love, and the prime minister of his grace, publishes more of these terrors to the world, and preaches hieli and damnation to sinners more than all the prophets or teachers that ever went before him; and several of the apostles imitate their Lord in this practice : They kindle the flames of hell in their epistles, they thunder through the very hearts and consciences of men with the voice of damnation and eternal misery, lo maké stupid sinners feel as much of these terrors in the present prospect as is possible, in order to escape the actual sensation of thern in time to come. Such awful discourses are many times also of excellent se to keep the children of God, and the disciples of Jesus, in a holy and watchful frame, and to affright them from returning to sin and folly, and from the indulgence of any temptation, by setting these terrors of the Lord before their eyes. O may these words of his terror, from the lips of one of the meanest of his ministers, be attended with divine power from the convincing and sanctifying Spirit, that they inay answer these happy ends and purposes, that they may excite a solemu reverence of the dreadful majesty of God in all our souls, and awaken us to repentance for every sin, and a more watchful course of holiness!
Let us then consider the expression in my text: When our Saviour mentions the word hell, he adds, where their worm dietha
not, and the fire is not quenched ; in which description we may read the nature of this punishment, and the perpetuity of it.
First, We shall consider the nature of this punishment, as it is represepted by the metaphors which our Saviour uses ; and if I were to give the most natural and proper sense of this representation, I would say that our Saviour might borrow this figure of speech from these three considerations :
1. Worms and fire are the two most general ways whereby the bodies of the dead are desti'oyed; for whether they are buried or nut buried, worms devour those who by the custom of their country are not burned with fire : And perhaps he miglit refer to the words of Isaiah lxvi. 24. where the prophet seems to foretel the punishment of those who will not receive the gospel, when it shall be prcached to all nations : They, says he, that is, the true Israel, the saints of God, or christians, they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men who have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh. It is bighily, probable that this is only a metaphor referring to the punishment of the souls of obstinate unbelievers in hell, for it would be, but a very small punishment indecd, if only their dead bodies were devoured by worms or fire, or rather no punishment at all besides a memorial of their sin.
2. Copsider the gnawing of worms and the burning of fire are some of the most smart and severe torments that a living man can feel in the flesh; therefore the vengeance of God, upon the souls of obstinate sinners, is set forth by it in our Saviour's discourse; and it was probably well known amongst the Jews, as appears by some of the apocryphal writings: Judith xvi. 17. « Woe to the nation that rises up against my kindred; the Lord almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, putting fire and worms in their flesh, and they shall feel them and weep for ever.” And Eccles. vii. 16, 17.“ Number not thyself among the multitude of sinners, but remember the wrath will not tarry long. Ilumble thy soul greatly, for the vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms."
3. Consider, whether worms feed upon a living ipan or deyour his dead body, still they are such as are bred in his own fleslı ; but fire is brought by other hands, and applied to the flesh : Even so this metaphor of a worm happily represents the inward torments, and the teazing and vexing passions which sball arise in the souls of those unhappy creatures, who are the just objects of this punishinent; and it is called threir worm, that worm that belongs to them, and is bred within them by the foul vices and diseases of their souls : But the fire which shall never be giroached refers rather to the pains and anguish which come fruit without, and that chiefly froin the band of God, the rig lita
eous avenger of sin, and from his indignation, which is compared to fire.
Sect. J. The worm that dieth not. Let us begin with the first of these, viz. the “ torments which are derived from the gnawing worm, those agonies and uneasy passions which will arise and work in the souls of these wretched creatures," so far as we can collect them from the word of God, from the reason of things, and the working powers of human nature.
When an impenitent sinper is cast into hell, we have abundant reason to suppose, that the evil tempet of his soul, and thie vicious principles within him, are not abated, but his natural powers, and the vices which have tainted them and mingle with them, are awakened and enraged into intense activity and exercise, under the first sensations of his dreadful panishment. Let us endeavour to conceive then what would be the ferments, the raging passions, and the vexing inward torments of a wicked man, seized by the officers of an almighty Judge, borne away by the executioners of vengeance, and plunged into a pit of topture and smarting misery, while at the same time he had a most fresh and piercing conviction erer present, that he had brought all this mischief upon himself by his own guilt and folly:
1. The first particular piece of wretchedness therefore, con-' 'tained in this metaphor, is the “ remorse and terrible anguish of conscience wbich shall never be relieved.” How terrible are the racks of a guilty conscience here on eartlı, which arise from a setise of past sios ? How does David cry out and roar under the disquietude of his spirit ? Ps. xxxii. 3. While 1 kept silence and confessed not my iniquity, my bones unred old through my roaring all the day long; day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, and my moisture is turned into the drought of summer : And again ? Ps. xxxviii. 4. My iniquities are gone over my head, as a heavy burden, they are too heavy for mei God has wisely so framed the nature and spirit of man, that a reflection on bis past behaviour should raise such 'keen anguish at his heart; and thousands have felt it in a dreadfu! degree, even while they have continued in this world, in the land of life and hope.
But when death has divided the soul from this body, and from all the means of grace, and cut off all the hopes of pardoning mercy for ever, what smart beyond all our thoughts and expressions must the sinner feel from such inward wounds of conscience? And it gives a twinging accent to every sorrow when the sinner is constrained to cry out, “ It is I, it is I: who have brought all this upon myself. Life and death were set before me in the world where I once dwelt, but I refused the blessings of eternal life, and the offers of saving grace. I turned my buck
upon the ways of holiness which led to life, and re