OF PLAGUES, or
The just vindication of the Law of God, and no less just accusation and condemnation of the sin of man.
As I come to the close of the whole matter I would wish with my soul that there might never be an occasion for me or any other to preach on this subject again. Shall I now entreat you to consider what has been said, and to think what an abominable and ugly thing sin is? It is the worst of evils, worse than the worst of words can express. I have shown you how it is contrary to God and man. For proof of this I have brought witness from Heaven, Earth and Hell. I have shown you how dearly it cost Christ Jesus who died for it, and how dearly it will cost you, if you live and die in it. Therdore stand in awe and sin not. Lay up the word of God's command, promise and threatening, that you may not sin against him. Take heed of sinning, for at once you sin against God and your own selves.
I have entered into your closets and your hearts, to tell you of your secret sins. I have told you of, and warned you against, the sins of your lips and of your life. I have told you of your shop--and calling--sins, that you might beware. And what shall I say or do more for you? I have preached to you, prayed and wept for you. I have shown you the way of repentance, faith and holiness. And were I to die for you, I hope I should not account my life dear to me, that I might save your souls by losing it. Let me again, then, entreat, beseech and beg you for God's sake and for your souls' sake not to sin. These things are written, that ye sin not. But 'hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God . . . but if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears' (Jeremiah 13.15-17). If you do not hear, you make this to be sad work for me and others who teach you, but, alas, much sadder for yourselves! You make us weep on earth, but you, if you do not repent, will weep in Hell. I beseech you therefore, learn what the grace of God teaches you, to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2.11,12), or as it is in Luke 1.75, 'Serve the Lord in righteousness and holiness all the days of your life.' Having therefore these promises (which according to Peter are the greatest and most precious) let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God' (2 Corinthtans 7.1).
Shall we commend holiness in those who are dead, and yet not like holiness in ourselves while we are alive? Holiness is the beauty of earth and Heaven, without which we cannot live well on earth, nor shall ever live in Heaven. Certainly they who jeer and scoff at holiness and rejoice that they are none of the holy ones, might as well make bonfires, ring the bells and give thanks that they shall never be saved. For if they are not holy, saved they cannot be. As one puts it, they who shall be in Heaven will be in no danger of being derided for the sake of piety, for those who deride will not be admitted there. As for the wicked, God will turn them into Hell, and all the nations (all them of any nation) that forget God (Psalm 9.17).
Poor soul, think a little, indeed, think much of the great day of your account and God's iudgment. Though you put it far from you, yet it will surely come, and woe unto you, if it ever takes you unawares and as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5.3,4). Seeing this may be, and that will be, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversations and godlinesses! For it is plural in the Greek (2 Peter 3.10,11). what more shall I say? I will close the whole matter with what was long since excellently spoken by a great Doctor in our Israel, which is worthy to be written in the hearts of all men and often to be before their eyes and in their thoughts.
At the last, he says, there will come a day when all mankind shall be summoned naked (without differences or degrees) before the same tribunal; when the crowns of Kings and shackles of prisoners; when the robes of princes and the rags of beggars; when the gallants' finery, the peasants' home-spun, the statesmen's policy, the courtiers' luxury and the scholars' learning shall all be laid aside; when all men shall be reduced to an equal plea, and without respect of persons shall be judged according to their works. Then those punctilios and formalities, cuts and fashions, distances and compliments which are now the darling sins of the upper end of the world, shall be proved to have been nothing else but well-acted vanities. Then the pride, luxury, riot, swaggerings, interlarded and complemental oaths, sophisticated and quaint lasdviousmess, newly-invented courtings and adorations of beauty, the so much studied and admired sins of the gallantry of the world, shall be pronounced out of the mouth of God himself to have been nothing else but glittering abominations. Then the adulterating of wares, the counterfeiting of lights, the double weight and false measures, the courteous equivocations of men greedy of gain, which are now almost woven into the very art of trading, shall be pronounced nothing else but mysteries of iniquity and self-deceivings. Then the curious subtleties of more choice wits, the knotty questions and vain strife of words, the disputes of reason, the variety of reading, the very circle of general and secular learning, pursued with so much eagerness by the more ingenious spirits of the world, shall be all pronounced but the thin cobwebs and vanishing delicacies of a better-tempered profaneness.
Lastly, then, the poor despised profession of the power of godliness, a trembling at the word of God, a scrupulous and conscientious forbearance not only of oaths but of idle words, a tenderness and aptness to bleed at the touch of any sin, a boldness to withstand the corruptions of the times, a conscience of but the appearance of evil, a walking humbly and mournfully before God, an heroic resolution to be strict and circumspect, to walk in an exact and geometrical holiness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, which the world esteems and scorns as the peevishhess of a few silly impolitic men, shall in good earnest from the mouth of God himself be declared to have been the true and narrow way which leads to salvation; and the enemies thereof shall then, when it is too late, be driven to that desperate and shameful confession: 'we fools counted their life madness, and their end to have been without honour. And now they are reckoned among the saints and have their portion with the Almighty!'
'Consider what hath been said, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things' (2 Timothy 2.7).
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