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Dreadful is the life and condition of those who are thus left of God. We have instances of the misery of such in God's holy word, particularly of Saul and Judas. Such are, sometimes, very much left to the power of Satan to tempt them, to hurry them on in wicked courses, and exceedingly to aggravate their own guilt and misery.
2. Indignation and wrath are sometimes exercised towards them in this world, by their being cursed in all that concerns them. They have this curse of God following them in every thing. They are cursed in all their enjoyments. If they are in prosperity, it is cursed to them; if they possess riches, if they have honour, if they enjoy pleasure, there is the curse of God that attends it. Psalm xcii. 7. “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed for ever.”
There is a curse of God that attends their ordinary food: every morsel of bread which they eat, and every drop of water wbich they drink. Psalm lxix. 22. i Let their table become a spare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare let it become a trap.” They are cursed in all their employments, in whatsoever they put their hands to; when they go into the field to labour, or are at work at their respective trades. Deut. xxviii
. 16. “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.” The curse of God remains in the houses where they dwell, and brimstone is scattered in their habitations. Job xviii
. 15. The curse of God attends them in the afflictions which they meet with, whereas the afflictions that good men meet with, are fatherly corrections, and are sent in mercy. The afflictions which wicked men meet with are in wrath, and come from God as an enemy, and are the foretaste of their everlasting punishment. The curse of God attends them also in their spiritual enjoyments and opportunities, and it would have been better for them not to have been born in a land of light. Their having the Bible and the sabbath, is only to aggravate their guilt and misery. The word of God when preached to them is a savour of death unto death. Better would it be for them, if Christ had never come into the world, if there had never been any offer of a Saviour. Life itself is a curse to them; they live only to fill up the measure of their sins. What they seek in all the enjoyments, and employments, and concerns of life, is their own happiness; but they never obtain it; they never obtain any true comfort, all the comforts which they have are worthless and unsatisfying. If they lived a hundred years with never so much of the world in their possession, their life is all filled up with vanity. All that they have is vanity of vanities, they find no true rest for their souls, they do but feed on the east wind, they have no real contentment. Whatever out
ward pleasures they may have, their souls are starving. They have no true peace of conscience, they have nothing of the favour of God. Whatever they do, they live in vain, and to no purpose; they are useless in the creation of God, they do not answer the end of their being. They live without God, and have not the presence of God, nor any communion with him. But on the contrary, all that they have and all that they do, does but contribute to their own misery, and render their future and everlasting state the more dreadful. The best of wicked men live but miserable and wretched lives, with all their prosperity; their lives are most undesirable, and whatever they have, the wrath of God abides upon them.
3. After a time they must die. Eccles. ix. 3. “This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
Death is a far different thing when it befals wicked men, from what it is when it befals good men; to the wicked it is in execution of the curse of the law, and of the wrath of God. When a wicked man dies, God cuts him off in wrath, he is taken away as by a tempest of wrath, he is driven away in his wickedness. Prov. xiv. 32. “ The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” Job xviii. 18. “He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.” Job xxvii. 21. “The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth, and as a storm, hurleth him out of his place.” Though wicked men while they live, may live in worldly prosperity, yet they cannot live here always, but they must die. The place that knoweth him, shall know him no more; and the eye that hath seen him shall see him no more in the land of the living.
Their bounds are unchangeably set, and when they are come to those bounds they must go, and must leave all their worldly good things. If they have lived in outward glory, their glory shall not descend after them; they get nothing while they live that they can carry away.
Eccles. v. 15. “As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand." He must leave all his substance unto others. If they are at ease and in quietness, death will put an end to their quietness, will spoil all their carnal mirth, and will strip them of all their glory. As they came naked into the world, so naked must they return, and go as they came. If they have laid up much goods for many years, if they have laid in stores, as they hope, for great comfort and pleasure, death will cut them off
from all. Luke xii. 16, &c. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits and he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided.” If they have many designs and projects in their breasts for promoting their outward prosperity, and worldly advantage; when death comes, it cuts all off at one blow. Psalms cxlvi. 4. “ His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." And so whatever diligence they have had in seeking their salvation, death will disappoint all such diligence, it will not wait for them to accomplish their designs and fulfil their schemes. If they have pleased and pampered, and adorned their bodies, death will spoil all their pleasure and their glory; it will change their countenances to a pale and ghastly aspect. Instead of their gay apparel and beautiful ornaments, they shall have only a winding shcet; their house must be the dark and silent grave;
and that body which they deified, shall turn to loathsome rottenness, shall be caten of worms, and turn to dust. Some wicked men die in youtli, wrath pursues them, and soon overtakes them ; they are not sufl'ered to live out half their days. Job. xxxvi. 14. "They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.” Psalm lv. 23. "But thou, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction : bloody and deceitful men shall not live ont half their days.” They are sometimes overtaken in the very midst of their sin and vanity; and death puts a sudden end to all their youthful pleasures. They are ofien stopped in the midst of a career in sin, and then if their hearts cleave ever so fast to those things, they must be rent from them; they have no other good but outward good; but then they must eternally forsake it, they must close their eyes for ever on all that has been dear and pleasant to them here.
4. Wicked men are oftentimes the subjects of much tribulation and anguish of heart on their death beds. Sometimes the pains of body are very extreme and dreadful; and what they endure in those agonies and struggles for life, after they are past speaking, and when body and soul are rending asunder, none can know. Hezekiah had an awful sense of it;
he compares it to a lion's breaking all his bones. Isaiah xxxvii. 12, 13. Minc age is departed, and is removed from me as a shep
herd's tent: I have cut off as a weaver my life; he will cut me off with pining sickness; from day even to night, wilt thou make an end of me. I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night, wilt thou make an end of me. But this is but little to what is sometimes undergone by wicked men in their souls when they are on their death beds. Death appears sometimes with an exceedingly terrible aspect to them; when it comes and stares them in the face, they cannot bear to behold it. It is always so, if wicked men have notice of the approach of death, and have reason and conscience in exercise, and are not either stupid or distracted. When this king of terrors comes to show himself to them, and they are called forth to meet him, O how do they dread the conflict ! But meet him they must : " There is no man that bath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.” Death comes to them with all his dreadful armour, and his sting not taken away; and it is enough to fill their souls with torment that cannot be expressed. It is an awful thing for a person to be lying on a sick bed, to be given over by physicians, to have friends stand weeping round the bed as expecting to part with him; and in such circumstances as those, to have no hope, to be without an interest in Christ, and to have the guilt of his sins lying on his soul, to be going out of the world without his peace being made with God, to stand before his holy judgmentscat in all his sins, without any thing to plead, or answer. Το see the only opportunity to prepare for eternity coming immediately to an end, after which there shall be no more time of probation, but his case will be unalterably fixed, and there never will be another offer of a Saviour ; for the soul to come just to the very edge of the boundless gulf of eternity, and insensibly to launch forth into it, without any God or Saviour to take care of it; to be brought to the edge of the precipice, and to see himself falling down into the lake of fire and brimstone, and to feel that he has no power to stop himself: who can tell the shrinkings and misgivings of heart in such a case? How does he endeavour to hang back, but yet he must go on; it is in vain to wish for further opportunity! O how happy does he think those that stand about him, who may yet live, may have their lives continued longer, when he must go immediately into an endless eternity! How does he wish it might be with him as with those who have a longer time to prepare for their trial ! but it must not be so. Death, sent on purpose to sammon him, will give him no release nor respite : he must go before the holy judgment seat of God, as he is to have his everlasting state determined according to his works. To such persons, how differently do things appear from what they did in the time of health, and when they looked at death as at a distance ! How differently does sin look to them now; those sins which they used to make light of! How dreadful is it now to look back and consider how they have spent their time, how foolish they have been, how they have gratified and indulged their lusts, and lived in ways of wickedness; how careless they have been, and how they have neglected their opportunities and advantages, how they have refused to hearken to counsel, and have not repented in spite of all the warnings that were given. Prov. v. 11, 12, 13." And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, how have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed
How differently does the world appear to them now! They used to set much by it, and have their hearts taken up with it, but what does it avail them now! how insignificant are all their riches! Prov. xi. 4. “ Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivercth from death.” What different thoughts have they now of God, and of his wrath! They used to make light of the wrath of God, but how terrible does it now appear! How does their heart shrink at the thoughts of appearing before such a God! How different are their thoughts of time! Now time appears precious; and ( what would they not give for a little more time! Some have in such circumstances been brought to cry out, 0, a thousand worlds for an hour, for a moment! And how differently does eternity now appear! now it is awful indeed. Some have been brought on a death bed to cry out, О that word Eternity! Eternity! Eternity! What a dismal gulf does it appear to them, when they come to the very brink! They often at such times cry for mercy, and cry in vain. God called, and they would not hear. “They act at nought his counsels, and would none of his reproofs. Now also he laughs at their calamity, and mocks when their fear cometh." They beseech others to pray for them, they send for ministers, but all often fails them. They draw nearer and nearer to death, and eternity comes more and more immediately in view. And who can express their horror, when they feel themselves chsped in the cold arms of death, when their breath fails more and more, and their eyes begin to be fixed and grow dim! That which is then felt by them, cannot be told nor conceived. Some wicked men have much of the horror and despair of hell in their last sickness. Eccles. v. 17. “ All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness."