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$ER M.vernment of a fuperior being, and can go no farther than he gives them leave. However if they do their worst, and shoot all their arrows at us, we cannot stand at the mark long, their wrath will fcon make an end of us, and fet us free from all their cruelty and oppreffion; "they can but kill the body, and "after that they have no more that they can do ;' their most refined malice cannot reach our spirits, no weapon that can be formed by the utmoft art of man can pierce and wound our fouls; they can drive us out of this world, but they cannot purfue us into the other; fo that at the worft the grave will be a fanctuary to us, and death a fafe retreat from all their rage and fury.
But the wrath of GoD is not confined by any of these limits. "Once hath GOD fpoken" (faith David by an elegant Hebrew phrase to exprefs the certainty of the thing)" once hath GoD fpoken, and twice I have heard this, that "power belongs to GoD," Pfal. lxii. 11. "He "hath a mighty arm," and when he pleaseth to Atretch it out, none may stay it, nor "fay unto him "what doft thou;" he hath power enough to make good all his threatnings; whatever he fays he is able to effect, and whatever he "purpofeth he can "bring to pafs;" for "his counsel shall stand, and "he will accomplish all his pleasure;" he need but fpeak the word, and it is done; for we can neither refift his power, nor fly from it; if we fly to the utmoft parts of the earth, his hand can reach us, for "in his hands are all the corners of the earth;" if we take refuge in the grave (and we cannot do that without his leave) thither his wrath can follow us; and there it will overtake us; for his power is not confined to this
world, nor limited to our bodies; after he hath S ER Mkill'd, he can "deftroy both body and foul in hell.”
And this is that wrath of GOD which is "revealed " from heaven," and which the apoftle chiefly intends, viz. the mifery and punishment of another world, this God hath threatned finners withal; to exprefs which to us, as fully as words can do, he heaps up in the next chapter fo many weighty and terrible words, "indignation and wrath, tribulation "and anguish upon every foul of man that doth "evil;" in oppofition to that great and glorious reward of "immortality and eternal life," which is promised to "a patient continuance in well"doing."
So that "the wrath of GOD" which is here denounced "against the impiety and unrighteoufnefs " of men," comprehends all the evils and miseries - of this and the other world, which every finner is in danger of whilft he continues impenitent; for as according to the tenor of the gofpel, "godliness "hath the promifes of this life, and of that which is "to come," fo impenitency in fin expofeth men to the evils of both worlds, to the judgments of the life that now is, and to the endless and intolerable torments of that which is to come. And what can be more dreadful than the difpleasure of an almighty and eternal being? who can punish to the utmost, and " who lives for ever," to execute his wrath and vengeance upon finners; fo that well might the apostle fay, "it is a fearful thing to fall "into the hands of the living Gon."
"Confider this, all ye that forget GoD," that neglect him, and live in continual difobedience to his holy and righteous laws; much more those who de
SER M. fpife and affront him, and live in a perpetual defiance of him. "Will ye provoke the LORD to jealoufy? are ye ftronger than he ?" think of it feriously, and forget him if you can, defpife him if you dare; confider this, left he take you into confideration, and rouze like a lion out of fleep, and "tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." This is the first observation, the infinite danger that a wicked and finful courfe doth expofe men to, "the wrath of GOD," which doth not only fignify more than all the evils that we know, but than all those which the wildeft fears and fufpicions of our minds can imagine.
Secondly, the next thing obfervable, is the clear and undoubted revelation which the gospel has made of this danger," the wrath of GOD is re"vealed, &c." By which the apoftle intimates to us, that this was but obfcurely known to the world before, at least in comparison of that clear difcovery which the gospel hath now made of it; fo that I may allude to that expreffion in Job, which he applies to death and the grave, that "hell is naked "before us, and deftruction hath no covering."
Not but that mankind had always apprehenfions and jealoufies of the danger of a wicked life, and finners were always afraid of the vengeance of GOD pursuing their evil deeds, not only in this life, but after it too; and tho' they had turn'd the punishments of another world into ridiculous fables, yet the wiser fort of mankind could not get it out of their minds, that there was fomething real under them; and that Ixion's wheel, which by a perpetual motion carried him about; and Sifyphus his ftone; which he was perpetually rolling up the hill, and
when he had got it near the top tumbled down, and S ER M. ftill created him a new labour; and Tantalus his continual hunger and thirst, aggravated by a perpetual nearness of enjoyment, and a perpetual difappointment; and Prometheus his being chained to a rock, with an eagle or vulture perpetually preying upon his liver, which grew as faft as it was gnawed;
fay even the wifer among the heathens look'd upon these as fantastical reprefentations of fomething that was real, viz. the grievous and endless punishment of finners, the not to be endured, and yet perpetually renewed torments of another world, for in the midst of all the ignorance and degeneracy of the heathen world, mens confciences did accufe them when they did amifs, and they had fecret fears and mifgivings of fome mighty danger hanging over them from the displeasure of a fuperior being, and the apprehenfion of fome great mifchiefs likely to follow their wicked actions, which fome time or other would overtake them; which because they did not always in this world, they dreaded them in the next. And this was the foundation of all thofe fuperftitions, whereby the ancient pagans endeavoured fo carefully to appeafe their offended deities, and to avert the calamities which they feared they would fend down upon them. But all this while they had no certain affurance by any clear and exprefs revelation from God to that purpofe, but only the jealoufies and fufpicions of their own minds, naturally confequent upon thofe notions which men generally had of GOD, but fo obfcured and depraved by the lufts and vices of men, and by the grofs and falfe conceptions which they had of God, that they only ferv'd to make them fuperftitious, but were
SERM. not clear and ftrong enough to make them wifely CXI. and seriously religious. And to fpeak the truth, the
more knowing and inquifitive part of the heathen world had brought all these things into great doubt and uncertainty, by the nicety and fubtilty of difputes about them; fo that it was no great wonder, that these principles had no greater effect upon the lives of men, when their apprehenfions of them were fo dark and doubtful.
But the gospel hath made a moft clear and certain revelation of these things to mankind. It was written before upon mens hearts as the great fanction of the law of nature, but the impreffions of this were in a great measure blurred and worn out, fo that it had no great power and efficacy, upon the minds and manners of men; but now it is clearly difcovered to us, "the wrath of GOD is revealed "from heaven," which expreffion may well imply in it these three things.
First, the clearness of the discovery; "the wrath "of GOD is faid to be revealed."
Secondly, the extraordinary manner of it; it is faid to be "revealed from heaven."
Thirdly, the certainty of it; not being the refult of fubtle and doubtful reafonings, but having a divine testimony and confirmation given to it, which is the proper meaning of "being revealed "from heaven,"
First, it imports the clearness of the discovery. The punishment of finners in another world is not fo obfcure a matter as it was before; it is now exprefly declared in the gofpel, together with the particular circumftances of it, namely, that there is another life after this, wherein men fhall receive the