THE FUTURE PUNISHMENT OF THE
Ezekiel xxii. 14. Can thine heart endure, or
can thine hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with
thee? I the Lord save spoken it, and will do it.
IN the former part of this chapter, we
have a dreadful catalogue of the sins of Jerusalem; as you may
see from the first to the thirteenth verse. In the thirteenth,
which is the verse preceeding the text, God manifests his great
displeasure and fearful wrath against them for those their
iniquities. "Behold, I have smitten mine hand at thy
dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath
been in the midst of thee." The expression of God's smiting
his hand, signifies the greatness of his anger, and his preparing
himself, as it were to execute wrath answerable to their heinous
crimes. It is an allusion to what we sometimes see in men when
they are surprised, by seeing or hearing of some horrid offence,
or most intolerable injury, which very much stirs their spirits,
and animates them with high resentment; on such an occasion they
will rise up in wrath and smite their hands together, as an
expression of the heat of their indignation, and full resolution
to be avenged on those who have committed the injury; as in chap.
xxi. 7. " I will also smite mine hands together, and I will
cause my fury to rest: I the Lord have said it,"
Then, in the text, the punishment of that people is
1. The nature of their punishment is more generally represented
in that therein God will undertake to deal with them: God here
threatens to deal with the sinners in Jerusalem. The prophets
could do nothing with them. God had sent them one after another;
but those sinners were too strong for them, and beat one, and
killed another. Therefore now God himself undertakes to deal with
2. Their punishment is more particularly represented in three
things, viz. The intolerableness, the remedilessness, and the unavoidableness
(1.) The intolerableness of it: Can thine heart endure?
(2.) The remedilessness, or the impossibility of their doing any
thing for their own relief: Can thine hands be strong?
(3.) The unavoidableness of it: I the Lord have spoken it, and
will do it.
Since God hath undertaken to deal with impenitent sinners,
they shall neither shun the threatened misery, nor deliver themselves
out of it, nor can they bear it.
In handling this doctrine, I shall,
1. Show what is implied in God's undertaking to deal with
2. That therefore they cannot avoid punishment.
3. That they cannot in any measure deliver themselves from it, or
do any thing for their own relief under it.
4. That they cannot bear it.
5. I shall answer an inquiry; and then proceed to the use.
I. I shall show what is implied in God's undertaking to deal
with impenitent sinners...Others are not able to deal with them. They
baffle all the means used with them by those that are appointed
to teach and to rule over them. They will not yield to parents,
or to the counsels, warning, or reproofs of ministers. They prove
obstinate and stiff-hearted. Therefore God undertakes to deal
with them This implies the following things:
1. That God will reckon with them, and take of them satisfaction
to his justice. In this world God puts forth his authority to command
them; and to require subjection to him. In his commands he is very
positive, strictly requiring of them the performance of such and
such duties, and as positively forbidding such and such things
which were contrary to their duty. But they have no regard to
these commands. God continues commanding, and they continue
rebelling. They make nothing of God's authority. God threatens,
but they despise his threatening They make nothing of dishonoring
God; they care not how much their behavior is to the dishonor of
God. He offers them mercy, if they will repent and return; but
they despise his mercy as well as his wrath. God calleth, but
they refuse. Thus they are continually plunging themselves deeper
and deeper in debt, and at the same time imagine they shall escape
the payment of the debt, and design entirely to rob God of his
But God hath undertaken to right himself. He will reckon with
them; he hath undertaken to see that the debts due to him are paid.
All their sins are written in his book; not one of them is
forgotten, and every one must be paid. If God be wise enough, and
strong enough, he will have full satisfaction: he will exact the
very uttermost farthing. He undertakes it as his part, as what
belongs to him, to see himself righted, wherein he hath been
wronged Deut. xxii. 35. "To me belongeth vengeance." Ibid. vii.
10. "He will not be slack to him that hateth him; he will
repay him to his face."
2. He hath undertaken to vindicate the honor of his Majesty.
His Majesty they despise. They hear that he is a great God; but they
despise his greatness; they look upon him worthy of contempt, and treat
him accordingly. They hear of him by the name of a great King;
but his authority they regard not, and sometimes trample upon it
for years together. But God hath not left the honor of his
Majesty wholly to their care. Though they now trample it in the
dust, yet that is no sign that it will finally be lost. If God
had left it wholly in their hands, it would indeed be lost. But
God doth not leave his honor and his glory with his enemies; it
is too precious in his eyes to be so neglected. He hath reserved
the care of it to himself: He will see to it that his own injured Majesty
is vindicated. If the honor of God, upon which sinners trample,
finally lie in the dust, then it will be because he is not strong
enough to vindicate himself. He hath sworn that great oath in
Numbers xiv. 2 1. "As truly as I live, all the earth shall
be filled with the glory of the Lord."
Sinners despise his Son, and trample him under their feet. But he
will see, if he cannot make the glory of his Son appear, with
respect to them; that all the earth may know how evil a thing it
is to despise the Son of God. God intends that all men and
angels, all heaven and all earth, shall see whether he be sufficient
to magnify himself upon sinners who now despise him. He intends
that the issue of things with respect to them shall be open, that
all men may see it.
3. He hath undertaken to subdue impenitent sinners. Their
hearts while in this world are very unsubdued. They lift up their heads
and conduct themselves very proudly and contemptuously, and often
sin with an high hand. They set their mouths against the heavens, and
their tongues walk through the earth. They practically say as
Pharaoh did, "Who is the Lord? I know not the Lord, neither
will I obey his voice." Job xxi. 4 1. "They say to God,
Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy
Some, who cover their sin with specious show, who put on a
face of religion, and a demure countenance and behavior, yet have
this spirit secretly reigning in their breasts. Notwithstanding
all their fair show, and good external carriage, they despise God
in their hearts, and have the weapons of war about them, though
they are secret enemies, and carry their swords under their
skirts. They have most proud, stubborn, and rebellious hearts,
which are ready to rise in opposition, to contend with him, and
to find fault with his dispensations. Their hearts are full of
pride, enmity, stubbornness, and blasphemy, which work in them
many ways, while they sit under the preaching of the word, and
while the spirit of God is striving with them; and they always
continue to oppose and resist God as long as they live in the
world; they never lay down the weapons of their rebellion."
But God hath undertaken to deal with them and to subdue them;
and those proud and stubborn hearts, which will not yield to the
power of God's word, shall be broken by the power of his hand. If
they will not be willing subjects to the golden sceptre, and will
not yield to the attractives of his love, they shall be subject
to the force of the iron rod, whether they will or no.
Them that proudly set up their own righteousness, and their
own wills against God, God hath undertaken to bring down; and without
doubt, it will be done. He hath undertaken to make those who are
now regardless of God, regard him. They shall know that he is
Jehovah. Now they will not own that he is the Lord; but they
shall know it, Isa. xxvi. 11. "Lord, when thine hand is
lifted up, they will not see: But they shall see."
Now wicked men not only hate God, but they slight him; they
are not afraid of him. But, he will subdue their contempt. When
he shall come to take them in hand, they will hate him still; but
they will not slight him; they will not make light of his power
as they now do; they will see and feel too much of the infinity
of his power to slight it They are now wont to slight his wrath;
but then they will slight it no more, they will be infinitely far from
it, they will find by sufficient experience that his wrath is not
to be slighted: They will learn this to their cost, and they never
will forget it.
4. God hath undertaken to rectify their judgments. Now they
will not be convinced of those things which God tells them in his
word. Ministers take much pains to convince them, but all is in
vain. Therefore God will undertake to convince them, and he will
do it effectually. Now they will not be convinced of the truth of
divine things. They have indeed convincing arguments set before them;
they hear and see enough to convince them; yet so prone are they
to unbelief and Atheism, that divine things never seem to them to
be real. But God will hereafter make them seem real.
Now they are always doubting of the truth of the Scriptures,
questioning whether they be the word of God, and whether the threatenings
of Scripture be true. but God hath undertaken to convince them that
those threatenings are true, and he will make them to know that
they are true, so that they will never doubt any more for ever.
They will be convinced by dear experience....Now they are always questioning
whether there be any such place as hell. They hear much about it,
but it always seems to them like a dream. But God will make it
seem otherwise than a dream....Now they are often told of the vanity
of the world; but we may as well preach to the beasts, to
persuade them of the vanity of earthly things. But God will undertake
to convince them of this; he will hereafter give them a thorough
conviction of it, so that they shall have a strong sense of the
vanity of all these things.
Now ministers often tell sinners of the great importance of an
interest in Christ, and that that is the one thing needful. They are
also told the folly of delaying the care of their souls, and how
much it concerns them to improve their opportunity. But the
instructions of ministers do not convince them, therefore God
will undertake to convince them.
Impenitent sinners, while in this world, hear how dreadful hell
is. But they will not believe that it is so dreadful as ministers
represent. They cannot think that they shall to all eternity
suffer such exquisite and horrible torments. But they shall be
taught and convinced to purpose, that the representations
ministers give of those torments, agreeable to the word of God,
are no bugbears; and that the wrath of God is indeed as dreadful
as they declare. Since God hath undertaken to deal with sinners,
and to rectify their judgments in these matters, and he will do
it thoroughly; for his work is perfect; when he undertakes to do
things, he doth not do them by halves; therefore before he shall have
done with sinners, be will convince them effectually, so that
they shall never be in danger of relapsing into their former
errors any more. He will convince them of their folly and
stupidity in entertaining such notions as they now entertain.
Thus God hath undertaken to deal with obstinate unbelievers.
They carry things on in great confusion; but we need not be dismayed
at it: Let us wait, and we shall see that God will rectify things.
Sinners will not always continue to rebel and despise with
impunity. The honor of God will in due time be vindicated; and
they shall be subdued and convicted, and shall give an account.
There is no sin, not so much as an idle word that they shall
speak, but they must give an account of it; Matth. xii 36. And
their sins must be fully balanced, and recompensed, and
satisfaction obtained. Because judgment against their evil works
is not speedily executed, their hearts are fully set in them to
do evil. Yet God is a righteous judge; he will see that judgment
is executed in due time.
I come now,
II. To show, that therefore impenitent sinners shall not avoid
their due punishment....God hath undertaken to inflict it; he hath
engaged to do it; he takes it as his work, as what properly
belongs to him, and we may expect it of him. If he hath sworn by
his life, that he will do it; and if he hath power sufficient; if
he is the living God, doubtless we shall see it done. And that
God hath declared that he will punish impenitent sinners, is
manifest from, many scriptures; as Deut. xxxii.41. "I will render
vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate
me." Deut. vii. 10. "He will not be slack to him that hateth
him: He will repay him to his face." Exod. xxxiv. 7.
"That will by no means clear the guilty." Nahum i. 3. "The
Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all
acquit the wicked."
God saith in the text, "I the Lord hath spoken it, and will
do it;" which leaves no room to doubt of the actual
fulfilment of the threatening in its utmost extent....Some wicked
men have flattered themselves, that although God hath threatened
very dreadful things to wicked men for their sins, yet in his
heart he never intends to fulfil his threatenings, but only to
terrify them, and make them afraid, while they live. But would
the infinitely holy God, who is not a man that he should lie, and who speaketh
no vain words, utter himself in this manner: I the Lord have
spoken it, and will do it; I have not only threatened, but I will
also fufill my threatenings; when at the same time these words
did not agree with his heart, but he secretly knew that though he
had spoken, yet he intended not to do it? Who is he that dares to
entertain such horrid blasphemy in his heart?
No; let no impenitent sinner flatter himself so vainly and
foolishly. If it were indeed only a man, a being of like
impotency and mutability with themselves, who had undertaken to
deal with them; they might perhaps with some reason flatter themselves;
that they should find some means to avoid the threatened
punishment. But since an omniscient, omnipotent, immutable God
hath undertaken, vain are all such hopes.
There is no hope that possibly they may steal away to heaven, though
they die unconverted. There is no hope that they can deceive God
by any false show of repentance and faith, and so be taken to heaven
through mistake; for the eyes of God are as a flame of fire; they
perfectly see through every man; the inmost closet of the heart
is all open to him
There is no hope of escaping the threatened punishment by
sinking into nothing at death, like brute creatures Indeed, many wicked
men upon their deathbeds wish for this. If it were so, death
would be nothing to them in comparison with what it now is. But
all such wishes are vain.
There is no hope of their escaping without notice, when they
leave the body. There is no hope that God, by reason of the multiplicity
of affairs which ho hath to mind, will happen to overlook them, and
not take notice of them, when they come to die; and so that their
souls will slip away privately, and hide themselves in some
secret corner, and so escape divine vengeance.
There is no hope that they shall be missed in a crowd at the
day of judgment, and that they can have opportunity to hide themselves
in some cave or den of the mountains, or in any secret hole of
the earth; and that while so doing, they will not be minded, by
reason of the many things which will be the objects of attention
on that day....Neither is there any hope that they will be able
to crowd themselves in among the multitude of the saints at the
right hand of the Judge, and so go to heaven undiscovered....Nor
is there any hope that God will alter his mind, or that he will
repent of what he hath said; for he is not the son of man that
lie should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he
spoken, and shall he not make it good? When did God ever
undertake to do any thing and fail?
I come now,
III. To show, that as impenitent sinners cannot shun the
threatened punishment; so neither can they do any thing to
deliver themselves from it, or to relieve themselves under it.
This is implied in those words of the text, Can thine hand. be
strong? It is with our hands that we make and accomplish things
for ourselves. But the wicked in hell will have no strength of
hand to accomplish any thing at all for themselves, or to bring
to pass any deliverance, or any degree of relief.
1. They will not he able in that conflict to overcome their
enemy, and so to deliver themselves. God, who will then undertake
to deal with them, and will gird himself with might to execute
wrath, will be their enemy, and will act the part of an enemy
with a witness; and they will have no strength to oppose him.
Those who live negligent of their souls under the light of the
gospel, act as if they supposed, that they should be able here
after to make their part good with God. 1 Cor. x. 22. "Do we provoke the
Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he ?"...But they will
have no power, no might to resist that omnipotence, which will be
engaged against them.
2. They will have no strength in their hands to do any thing
to appease God, or in the least to abate the fierceness of his wrath.
They will not be able to offer any satisfaction: they will not be
able to procure God's pity. Though they cry, God will not hear
them. They will find no price to offer to God, in order to purchase
any favor, or to pay any part of their debt.
3. They will not be able to find any to befriend them, and
intercede with God for them. They had the offer of a mediator often made
them in this world; but they will have no offers of such a nature
in hell. None will befriend them. They will have no friend in
HELL; all there will be their enemies. They will have no friend
in heaven: 'None of the saints or angels will befriend them; or
if they should, it would be to no purpose. There will be no
creature that will have any power to dellver them, nor will any
ever pity them.
4. Nor will they ever be able to make their escape. They will
find no means to break prison and flee. In hell, they will be reserved
in chains of darkness for ever and ever. Malefactors have often found means
to break prison, and escape the hand of, civil justice. But none
ever escaped out of the prison of hell, which is God's prison. It
is a strong prison: it is beyond any finite power, or the united
strength of all wicked men and devils, to unlock, or break open
the door of that prison. Christ hath the key of hell; "he
shuts and no man opens."
5. Nor will they ever be able to find any thing to relieve
them in hell. They will never find any resting place there; any place
of respite; any secret corner, which will be cooler than the
rest, where they may have a little respite, a small abatement of
the extremity of their torment. They never will be able to find
any cooling stream or fountain, in any part of that world of
torment; no, nor so much as a drop of water to cool their
tongues. They will find no company to give them any comfort, or
to do them the least good. They will find no place, where they
can remain, and rest, and take breath for one minute: For they
will be tormented with fire and brimstone; and will have no rest day
nor night for ever and ever.
Thus impenitent sinners will be able neither to shun the
punishment threatened, nor to deliver themselves from it, nor to
find any relief under it.
I come now,
IV. To show, that neither will they be able to bear it.
Neither will their bands be strong to deliver t}themselves from
it, nor will their hearts be able to endure it. It is common with
men, when they meet with calamities in this world, in the first
place to endeavor to shun them. But if they find, that they cannot
shun them, then after they are come, they endeavor to deliver themselves
from them as soon as they can; or at least, to order things so,
as to deliver themselves in some degree. But if they find that
they can by no means deliver themselves, and see that the case is
so that they must bear them; then they set themselves to bear
them: they fortify their spirits, and take up a resolution, that
they will support themselves under them as well as they can.
But it will be utterly in vain for impenitent sinners to think
to do thus with respect to the torments of hell. They will not be able
to endure them, or at all to support themselves under them: the
torment will be immensely beyond their strength. What will it
signify for a worm, which is about to be pressed under the weight
of some great rock, to be let fall with its whole weight upon it,
to collect its strength, to set itself to bear up the weight of
the rock, and to preserve itself from being crushed by it? Much
more in vain will it be for a poor damned soul, to endeavor to
support itself under the weight of the wrath of Almighty God.
What is the strength of man, who is but a worm, to support himself
against the power of Jehovah, and against the fierceness of his
wrath? What is man's strength, when set to bear up against the
exertions of infinite power? Matt. xxi. 44, "Whosoever shall
fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall
fall, it will grind him to powder."
When sinners hear of hell torments, they sometimes think with
themselves: Well, if it shall come to that, that I must go to hell,
I will bear it as well as I can: as if by clothing themselves
with resolution and firmness of mind, they would be able to support
themselves in some measure; when, alas! they will have no
resolution, no courage at all. However they shall have prepared
themselves, and collected their strength; yet as soon as they
shall begin to feel that wrath, their hearts will melt and be as
water. However before they may seem to harden their hearts, in
order to prepare themselves to bear, yet the first moment they
feel it, their hearts will become like wax before the furnace.
Their courage and resolution will be all gone in an instant; it
will vanish away like a shadow in the twinkling of an eye. The
stoutest and most sturdy will have no more courage than the
feeblest infant: let a man be an infant, or a giant, it will be
all one. They will not be able to keep alive any courage, any
strength, any comfort, any hope at all.
I come now as was proposed,
V. To answer an inquiry which may naturally be raised
concerning these things.
Inquiry. Some may be ready to say, If this be the case, if
impenitent sinners can neither shun future punishment, nor
deliver themselves from it, nor bear it; then what will become of
Answer. They will wholly sink down into eternal death. There
will be that sinking of heart, of which we now cannot conceive.
We see how it is with the body when in extreme pain. The nature
of the body will support itself for a considerable time under
very great pain, so as to keep from wholly sinking. There will be
great struggles, lamentable groans and panting, and it may be
convulsions. These are the strugglings of nature to support
itself under the extremity of the pain. There is, as it were, a
great lothness in nature to yield to it; it cannot bear wholly to
But yet sometimes pain of body is so very extreme and
exquisite, that the nature of the body cannot support itself
under it; however loth it may be to sink, yet it cannot bear the
pain; there are a few struggles, and throes, and pantings, and it
may be a shriek or two, and then nature yields to the violence of
the torments, sinks down, and the body dies. This is the death of the
body. So it will be with the soul in hell; it will have no
strength or power to deliver itself and its torment and horror will
be so great, so mighty, so vastly disproportioned to its
strength, that having no strength in the least to support itself, although
it be infinitely contrary to the nature and inclination of the
soul utterly to sink; yet it will sink, it will utterly and totally
sink, without the least degree of remaining comfort, or strength,
or courage, or hope. And though it will never be annihilated, its
being and perception will never be abolished, yet such will be
the infinite depth of gloominess that it will sink into, that it
will be in a state of death, eternal death.
The nature of man desires happiness; it is the nature of the
soul to crave and thirst after well-being; and if it be under misery,
it eagerly pants after relief; and the greater the misery is, the more
eagerly doth it struggle for help. But if all relief be
withholden, all strength overborne, all support utterly gone;
then it sinks into the darkness of death.
We can conceive but little of the matter; we cannot conceive what
that sinking of the soul in such a case is. But to help your conception,
imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, or of a great furnace,
where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by
accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater.
Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour,
all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at
the entrance of such a furnace! And how long would that quarter
of an hour seem to you! And after you had endured it for one minute,
how overbearing would it be to you to think that you had it to
endure the other fourteen!
But what would be the effect on your soul, if you knew you
must lie there enduring that torment to the full for twenty-four hours!
And how much greater would be the effect, if you knew you must endure
it for a whole year; and how vastly greater still, if you knew
you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how would your
heart sink, if you thought, if you knew, that you must bear it forever
and ever! That there would be no end! That after millions of
millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, than
ever it was; and that you never, never should be delivered!
But your torment in hell will be immensely greater than this
illustration represents. How then will the heart of a poor creature
sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable must
the sinking of the soul be in such a case!
This is the death threatened in the law. This is dying in the
highest sense of the word. This is to die sensibly; to die and know
it; to be sensible of the gloom of death. This is to be undone;
this is worthy of the name of destruction. This sinking of the
soul under an infinite weight, which it cannot bear, is the gloom
of hell. We read in Scripture of the blackness of darkness; this
is it, this is the very thing. We read in Scripture of sinners
being lost, and of their losing their souls: this is the thing intended;
this is to lose the soul: they that are the subjects of this are
This subject may be applied in a use of awakening to
impenitent sinners. What hath been said under this doctrine is
for thee, O impenitent sinner, O poor wretch, who art in the same
miserable state in which thou camest into the world, excepting
that thou art loaded with vastly greater guilt by thine actual
sins. These dreadful things which thou hast heard are for thee,
who art yet unconverted, and still remainest an alien and
stranger, without Christ and without God in the world. They are
for thee, who to this day remainest an enemy to God, and a child
of the devil, even in this remarkable season, when others both here
and elsewhere, far and near, are flocking to Christ; for thee who
hearest the noise, the fame of these things, but knowest nothing
of the power of godliness in thine own heart.
Whoever thou art, whether young or old, little or great, if
thou art in a Christless, unconverted state, this is the wrath,
this is the death to which thou art condemned. This is the wrath
that abideth on thee; this is the hell over which thou hangest,
and into which thou art ready to drop every day and every night.
If thou shalt remain blind, and hard, and dead in sin a little longer,
this destruction will come upon thee: God hath spoken and he will
do it. It is vain for thee to flatter thyself with hopes that
thou shalt avoid it, or to say in thine heart, perhaps it will
not be; perhaps it will not be just so; perhaps things have been
represented worse than they are. If thou wilt not be convinced by
the word preached to thee by men in the name of God, God himself
will undertake to convince thee, Ezekiel xiv. 4, 7, 8.
Doth it seem to thee not real that thou shalt suffer such a
dreadful destruction, because it seems to thee that thou dust not deserve
it? And because thou dust not see any thing so horrid in thyself,
as to answer such a dreadful punishment? Why is it that thy
wickedness doth not seem bad enough to deserve this punishment?
The reason is, that thou lovest thy wickedness; thy wickedness
seems good to thee; it appears lovely to thee; thou dust not see
any hatefulness in it, or to be sure, any such hatefulness as to
answer such misery.
But know, thou stupid, blind, hardened wretch, that God doth
not see, as thou seest with thy polluted eyes: thy sins in his sight
are infinitely abominable.-Thou knowest that thou hast a thousand
and a thousand times made light of the Majesty of God. And why
should not that Majesty, which thou hast thus despised, be
manifested in the greatness of thy punishment? Thou hast often
heard what a great and dreadful God Jehovah is; but thou hast
made so light of it, that thou hast not been afraid of him, thou
hast not been afraid to sin against him, nor to go on day after
day, by thy sins, to provoke him to wrath, nor to cast his
commands under foot, and trample on them. Now why may not God, in
the greatness of thy destruction, justly vindicate and manifest
the greatness of that Majesty, which thou hast despised?
Thou hast despised the mighty power of God; thou hast not been
afraid of it. Now why is it not fit that God should show the greatness
of his power in thy ruin? What king is there who will not show his
authority in the punishment of those subjects that despise it!
And who will not vindicate his royal majesty in executing
vengeance on those that rise in rebellion? And art thou such a
fool as to think that the great King of heaven and earth, before
whom all other kings are so many grasshoppers, will not vindicate
his kingly Majesty on such contemptuous rebels as thou art?-Thou
art very much mistaken if thou thinkest so. If thou be regardless
of God's Majesty, be it known to thee, God is not regardless of
his own Majesty; he taketh care of the honor of it, and he will vindicate
Think it not strange that God should deal so severely with
thee, or that the wrath which thou shalt suffer should be so
great. For as great as it is, it is no greater than that love of
God which thou hast despised. The love of God, and his grace, condescension,
and pity to sinners in sending his Son into the world to die for them,
is every whit as great and wonderful as this inexpressible wrath.
This mercy hath been held forth to thee, and described in its
wonderful greatness hundreds of times, and as often hath it been
offered to thee; but thou wouldst not accept Christ; thou wouldst
not have this great love of God; thou despisedst God's dying
love; thou trampledst the benefits of it under foot. Now why
shouldst thou not have wrath as great as that love and mercy
which thou despisest and rejectest? Doth it seem incredible to
thee, that God should so harden his heart against a poor sinner, as
so to destroy him, and to bear him down with infinite power and
merciless wrath? And is this a greater thing than it is for thee
to harden thy heart, as thou hast done, against infinite mercy,
and against the dying love of God?
Doth it seem to thee incredible, that God should be so utterly
regardless of the sinner's welfare, as so to sink him into an infinite
abyss of misery? Is this shocking to thee? And is it not at all
shocking to thee, that thou shouldst be so utterly regardless as
thou hast been of the honor and glory of the infinite God?
It arises from thy foolish stupidity and senselessness, and is
because thou hast a heart of stone, that thou art so senseless of thine
own wickedness as to think thou hast not deserved such a
punishment, and that it is to thee incredible that it will be inflicted
upon thee.-But if, when all is said and done, thou be not
convinced, wait but a little while, and thou wilt be convinced:
God will undertake to do the work which ministers cannot do.
-Though judgment against thine evil works be not yet executed, and
God now let thee alone, yet he will soon come upon thee with his
great power, and then thou shalt know what God is, and what thou
Flatter not thyself, that if these things shall prove true,
and the worst shall come, thou wilt set thyself to bear it as
well as thou canst. What will it signify to set thyself to bear,
and to collect thy strength to support thyself, when thou shalt
fall into the hands of that omnipotent King, Jehovah? He that made
thee, can make his sword approach unto thee. His sword is not the
sword of man, nor is his wrath the wrath of man. If it were,
possibly stoutness might be maintained under it. But it is the fierceness
of the wrath of the great God, who is able to baffle and
dissipate all thy strength in a moment. He can fill thy poor soul
with an ocean of wrath, a deluge of fire and brimstone; or he can make
it ten thousand times fuller of torment than ever an oven was
full of fire; and at the same time, can fill it with despair of
ever seeing an end to its torment, or any rest from its misery:
and then where will be thy strength? What will become of thy courage
then? What will signify thine attempts to bear?
What art thou in the hands of the great God, who made heaven
and earth by speaking a word? What art thou, when dealt with by
that strength, which manages all this vast universe, holds the
globe of the earth, directs all the motions of the heavenly
bodies from age to age, and, when the fixed time shall come, will
shake all to pieces? There are other wicked beings a thousand
times stronger than thou: there are the great leviathans, strong
and proud spirits, of a gigantic stoutness and hardiness. But how
little are they in the hands of the great God! They are less than
weak infants; they are nothing, and less than nothing in the
hands of an angry God, as will appear at the day of judgment. Their
hearts will be broken; they will sink; they will have no strength
nor courage left; they will be as weak as water; their souls will
sink down into an infinite gloom, an abyss of death and despair. Then
what will become of thee, a poor worm, when thou shalt fall into
the hands of that God, when he shall come to show his wrath, and
make his power known on thee?
If the strength of all the wicked men on earth, and of all the
devils in hell, were united in one, and thou wert possessed of it all;
and if the courage, greatness, and stoutness of all their hearts
were united in thy single heart, thou wouldst be nothing in the
hands of Jehovah. If it were all collected, and thou shouldst set
thyself to bear as well as thou couldst, all would sink under his
great wrath in an instant, and would be utterly abolished: thine
hands would drop down at once and thine heart would melt as
wax.-The great mountains, the firm rocks, cannot stand before the
power of God; as fast as they stand, they are tossed hither and
thither, and skip like lambs, when God appears in his anger. He
can tear the earth in pieces iii a moment; yea, lie can shatter
the whole universe, and dash it to pieces at one blow. How then
will thine hands be strong, or thine heart endure?
Thou canst not stand before a lion of the forest; an angry
wild beast, if stirred up, will easily tear such a one as thou
art in pieces. Yea, not only so, but thou art crushed before the
moth. A very little thing, a little worm or spider, or some such insect,
is able to kill thee. What then canst thou do in the hands of
God? It is vain to set the briers and thorns in battle array against
glowing flames; the points of thorns, though sharp, do nothing to
withstand the fire.
Some of you have seen buildings on fire; imagine therefore
with yourselves, what a poor hand you would make at fighting with
the flames, if you were in the midst of so great and fierce a
fire. You have often seen a spider, or some other noisome insect,
when thrown into the midst of a fierce fire, and have observed
how immediately it yields to the force of the flames. There is no
long struggle, no fighting against the fire, no strength exerted
to oppose the heat, or to fly from it; but it immediately
stretches forth itself and yields; and the fire takes possession
of it, and at once it becomes full of fire. Here is a little
image of what you will be the subjects of in hell, except you repent
and fly to Christ. However you may think that you will fortify
yourselves, and bear as well as you can; the first moment you
shall be cast into hell, all your strength will sink and be
utterly abolished. To encourage yourselves, that you will set
yourselves to bear hell torments as well as you can, is just as
if a worm, that is about to be thrown into a glowing furnace,
should swell and fortify itself and prepare itself to fight the
What can you do with lightnings? What doth it signify to fight
with them? What an absurd figure would a poor weak man make, who,
in a thunder-storm, should expect a flash of lightning on his head
or his breast, and should go forth sword in hand to oppose it;
when a stream of brimstone would, in an instant, drink up all his
spirits and his life, and melt his sword!
Consider these things, all you enemies of God, and rejecters of
Christ, whether you be old men or women, Christless heads of
families, or young people and wicked children. Be assured, that
if you do not hearken and repent, God intends to show his wrath,
and make his power known upon you. He intends to magnify himself
exceedingly in sinking you down in hell. He intends to show his
great majesty at the day of judgment, before a vast assembly, in
your misery; before a greater assembly many thousand fold than
ever yet appeared on earth; before a vast assembly of saints, and
a vast assembly of wicked men, a vast assembly of holy angels,
and before all the crew of devils. God will before all these get
himself honor in your destruction; you shall be tormented in the
presence of them all. Then all will see that God is a great God
indeed; then all will see how dreadful a thing it is to sin
against such a God, and to reject such a Saviour, such love and
grace, as you have rejected and despised. All will be filled with
awe at the great sight, and all the saints and angels will look upon
you, and adore that majesty, and that mighty power, and that
holiness and justice of God, which shall appear in your ineffable destruction
It is probable that here are some, who hear me this day, who
at this very moment are unawakened, and are in a great degree careless
about their souls. I fear there are some among us who are most fearfully
hardened: their hearts are harder than the very rocks. It is
easier to make impressions upon an adamant than upon their
hearts. I suppose some of you have heard all that I have said
with ease and quietness: it appears to you as great big sounding
words, but doth not reach your hearts. You have heard such things
many times: you are old soldiers, and have been too much used to
the roaring of heaven's cannon, to be frighted at it. It will
therefore probably be in vain for me to say any thing further to
you; I will only put you in mind that ere long God will deal with
you. I cannot deal with you, you despise what I say; I have no power
to make you sensible of your danger and misery, and of the
dreadfulness of the wrath of God. The attempts of men in this way
have often proved vain.
However, God hath undertaken to deal with such men as you are.
It is his manner commonly first to let men try their utmost strength:
particularly to let ministers try, that thus he may show
ministers their own weakness and impotency; and when they have
done what they can, and all fails, then God takes the matter into
his own hands. So it seems by your obstinacy, as if God intended
to undertake to deal with you. He will undertake to subdue you;
he will see if he cannot cure you of your senselessness and
regardlessness of his threatenings. And you will be convinced;
you will be subdued effectually: your hearts will be broken with
a witness; your strength will be utterly broken, your courage and
hope will sink. God will surely break those who will not bow.
God, having girded himself with his power and wrath, hath
heretofore undertaken to deal with many hard stubborn, senseless,
obstinate hearts; and he never failed, he always did his work thoroughly.
It will not be long before you will be wonderfully changed. You
who now hear of hell and the wrath of the great God, and sit here
in these seats so easy and quiet, and go away so careless; by and
by will shake, and tremble, and cry out, and shriek, and gnash
your teeth, and will be thoroughly convinced of the vast weight
and importance of these great things, which you now despise.