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judginent without mercy, who shewed no mercy.” The grace, goodness, love and mercy of God shall be glorified unto the utmost in his elect; without the least mixture of allay from his displeasure; and so shall his wrath, severity and vindictive justice, in them that perish, without any temperature of pity or compassion. He shall rain upon them “ snares, and fire and brimstone, this shall be their portion for ever.” Wonder not then at the greatness or duration of that punishment, which shall exhaust the whole wrath of God, without the least mitigation.
And this will discover unto us the nature of sin, especially of unbelief and neglect of the gospel. Men are apt now to have slight thoughts of these things; but wlien they shall find them revenged with the whole wrath of God, they will change their minds. What a folly, what a madness is it to make light of Christ, when to this neglect an eternity of punishment is but a meet recompence of reward. It is good then, to learn the nature of sin from the threatenings of God, rather than from the common presumptions that pass among secure perishing sinners. Consider what the righteousness, what the holiness, what the wisdom of God hath determined to be due unto sin, and then make a judgment of the nature of it, that you be not overtaken with a woful surprizal, when all means of relief are past and gone. As also know, that
2. This world alone is the time and place wherein you are i to look and seek for mercy. Cries will do nothing at the last
day: they shall not obtain the least drop of water to cool the tongue in its torment. Some men doubtless have secret reserves, that things will not go at the last day, as by others they are made to believe. They hope to meet with better quarters than is talked of; that God will not be inexorable as is pretended. Were not these their inward thoughts, it were not possible they should so neglect the season of grace, as they do. But alas, how will they be deceived ? God indeed is gracious, merciful, and full of compassion; but this world is the time wherein he will exercise them. They will be for ever shut up to. wards unbelievers at the last day. This is the acceptable day, this is the day of salvation; if this be despised, if this be neglected, expect no more to hear of mercy unto eternity.
III. Every concern of the law and gospel, both as to their nature and promulgation, is to be weighed and considered by believers, to beget in their hearts a right and due valuation of them. To this end are they here so distinctly proposed; as of the law, that it was spoken by angels; and of the gospel, that it is great salvation, the word spoken by the Lord, confirmed with signs and miracles; all which the apostle would have us to weigh and consider distinctly. Our interest lies in them, and our good is intended by them. And to stir up our attention unto tiem, we may observe,
First, That God neither doth any thing in vain, nor speaks any thing in vain, especially in the things of his law and gospel, wherein the great concerns of his own glory, and the souls of men are enwrapped. And therefore our Saviour lets us know, that there is a worth in the least apex and iota of the word, and that it must have its accomplishment. An end it hath, and that end shall be fulfilled. The Jews have a foolish curiosity in reckoning all the letters of the Scripture, and casting up how often every one doth occur. But yet this curiosity of theirs, vain and needless as it is, will condemn our negligence, if we omit a diligent inquiry into all the things and circumstances of it, that are ot' real importance. God hath a holy and wise end in all that lie doth. As nothing can be added unito his word or work, so nothing can be taken iom it, it is every way perfect. And this in general is enough to quicken us to a diligent search into all the circumstances and adjuncts both of law and gospel, and of the way and manner, whereby he was pleased to communicate them unto us.
Secondly, There is in all those concerns of the law and gospel, a mixture of divine wisdom and grace. From this founlain they all proceed, and the living waters of it run through them all. The times, the seasons, the authors, the instruments, the manner of their delivery, were all ordered by the manifold wisdom of God, which especially appears in the dispensation of the gospel, Eph. iii. 9, 10. The apostle placeth not the wisdom of God only in the mystery of the gospel, but also in the sea. son of its promulgation. “ It was hid," saith he, “in God," ver. 9. that is, in the “ purpose of God,” ver. 10, 11. “ from the ages past, but now is made manifest;" and herein doth the manifold wisdom of God appear. : Were we able to look into the depth of any circumstance that concerns the institutions of God, we should see it full of wisdom and grace, and the neglect of a due consideration thereof hath God sometimes severely revenged, Lev. x. 1, 2.
Thirdly, There is in them all a gracious condescension unto our weakness. God knows that we stand in need of an especial remark to be set on every one of them. Such is our weakness, our slowness to believe, that we have need that the word should be unto us, “ line upon line, and precept upon precept; here a little and there a little.” As God told Moses, Exod. iv. 8. that if the children of Israel would not believe on the first sign, they would on the second. So it is with us; one consideration of the law or the gospel oftentimes proves ineffectual, when another overpowers the heart unto obedience. And therefore hath God thus graciously condescended unto our weakness, in proposing unto us the several considerations mentioned of his law and gospel ; that by some of them we may be laid hold upon, and bowed unto his mind and will in them. Accordingly,
Fourthly, They have had their various influences and successes on the souls of men. Some have been wrought upon by one consideration, some by another. In some the holiness of the law, in others the manner of its administration have been effectual. Some have fixed their hearts principally on the grace of the gospel; some on the person of its author. And the same persons at several times have had help and assistance, from these several considerations of the one and the other. So that in these things, God doth nothing in vain, nothing is in vain towards believers. Infinite wisdom is in all, and infinite glory will arise out of all.
And this should stir us up to a diligent search into the word, wherein God hath recorded all the concerns of his law and gos. pel, that are for our use and advantage. That is the cabinet wherein all these jewels are laid up and disposed, according to his wisdom and the counsel of his will. A general view of it will but little satisfy, and not at all enrich our souls. This is the mine wherein we must dig as for hid treasures. One main reason why we believe no more, why we obey no more, why we love no more, is because we are no more diligent in searching the word, for substantial motives unto them all. A very little insight into the word is apt to make men think that they see enough ; but the reason of it is, because they like not what they see: as men will not like to look farther into a shop of wares, when they like nothing which is at first presented unto them. But if indeed we find sweetness, benefit, profit, life, in the discoveries that are made unto us in the word, about the law and gospel, we shall be continually reaching after a farther acquaintance with them. It may be we know somewhat of those things; but how know we that there is not some special concern of the gospel, which God in a holy condescension bath designed for our good in particular, that we are not as yet ar. rived unto a clear and distinct knowledge of ? Here if we search for it with all diligence, we may find it, and if we go maimed in our faith and obedience all our days, we may thank our own sloth for it.
Again, whereas God hath distinctly proposed those things unto us, they should have our distinct consideration. We should severally and distinctly meditate upon them; that so in them all we may admire the wisdom of God; and receive the effectual influence of them all upon our own souls. Thus may we sometimes converse in our hearts with the author of the gospel, sometimes with the manner of its delivery, sometimes with the grace of it; and from every one of these heavenly flowers, draw nourishment and refreshment unto our own souls. Oh that we could take care to gather up these fragments, that nothing might be lost unto us; as in themselves they shall never perish.
IV. What means soever God is pleased to use in the revelation of his will, he gives it a certainty, stedfastness, assurance and evidence, which our faith may rest in, and which cannot be neglected without the greatest sin. The word spoken was Bobulos stedfast.' Every word spoken from God by his ap- * pointment, is stedfast; and that because spoken from him, and by his appointment. And there are two things that belong unto this stedfastness of the word spoken.
1. That in respect of them unto whom it is spoken, it is the foundation of faith and obedience; the formal reason of these, and the last ground whereunto they are resolved.
2. That on the part of God, it is a stable and sufficient ground of righteousness in proceeding to take vengeance on them by whom it is neglected. The punishment of transgressors is a meet recompence of reward, because the word spoken unto them is stedfast. And this latter follows upon the former: for it the word be not a stable firm foundation for the faith and obedience of men, they cannot be justly punished for the neglect of it. That therefore must be briefly spoken unto, and this will naturally ensue, as a consequent thereof.
God hath, as we saw on the first verse of this epistle, by various ways and means, declared and revealed his mind unto men. That declaration, what means or instruments soever he is pleased to make use of therein, is called his word. And that because originally it is his, it proceeds from him, is delivered in his name and authority, reveals his mind, and tends to his glo. ry. Thus sometimes he spake by angels, using their ministry, either in delivering his messages, by words of an outward sound, or by representation of things in visions and dreams; and sometimes by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, enabling them so inspired, to give out the word which they received, purely and entirely, all remaining his word still. Now what ways soever God is pleased to use, in the communication of his mind and will unto men for their obedience, there is that stedfastness in the word itself, that evidence to be from him, as make it the duty of men to believe in it, with faith divine and supernatural; and there is in it that stability which will never deceive them. It is, I say, thus stedfast upon the account of its being spoken from God, and stands in no need of the contribution of any strength, authority or testimony from men, church, tradition, or aught else that is extrinsecal unto it. The testimonies given hereunto in the Scripture itself, which are 'very many, with the general grounds and reasons hereof, I shall
not here insist upon; and that because I have done it elsewhere. I shall only mention that one consideration, which this place of the apostle suggests unto us, and which is contained in our second observation from the word sledfast. Take this word as spoken from God, without the help of any other advantages, and the stedfastness of it, is the ground of God's inflicting vengeance on them that receive it not, that obey it not. Because it is his word, because it is clothed with his authority, it men believe it not, they must perish. But now if this be not sufficiently evidenced unto them, namely, that it is his word, God could not be just in taking vengeance of them ; for he should punish them for not believing that, which they had no sufficient reason to believe, which suits not with the holiness and justice of God. The evidence then that this word is from God, that it is his, being the foundation of the justice of God in his proceeding against them that do not believe it, it is of indispensable necessity that he himself also do give that evidence unto it. For whence also should it have it? from the testimony of the church, or from tradition, or from probable moral inducements, that men can tender one to another; then these two things will inevitably follow. 1. That if men should neglect their duty in giving testimony unto the word, as they may do, because they are but men, then God cannot justly condemn any man in the world, for the neglect of his word, in noi believing it, or not yielding obedience unto it. And the reason is evident; because if they have not sufficient grounds to believe it to be his, without such testimonies as are not given unto it, it is the highest injustice to condemn them for not believing it; and they should perish without a cause. For what can be more unjust, than to punish a man, especially eternally, for not doing that which he had no just or sufficient reason to do? This be far from God, to destroy the innocent with the wicked. 2. Suppose all men aright to discharge their duty, and that there be a full tradition concerning the word of God; that the church give testimony unto it, and learned men produce their arguments for it; if this, all, or any part hereof, be esteemed as the sufficient proposition of the Scripture to be the word of God, then is the execution of infinite divine justice built upon the testimony of men, which is not divine or infallible, but such as might deceive. For God on this supposal must condemn men for not believing with faith divine and infallible, that which is proposed unto them by testimonies and arguments human and fallible, quod absit.
It remaineth then that the righteousness of the act of God in condemning unbelievers, is built upon the evidence, that the object of faith, or word to be believed, is from him.
And this he gives unto it, both by the impression of his ma
testimony! That or other rehabilem