THe Verse before, you know, as I told you, it was part of an answer to such as lose their souls, so it is a vindication of the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets▪ They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.
Now this Verse is an answer to what was said in the former, and such an one as hath in it a re∣jection of the former answer. Nay Father Abra∣ham. Nay saith he, do not say so, do not put them off with this; send one from the dead, and then there will be some hopes. 'Tis true, thou speakest of the Scriptures of Moses and the Prophets and sayest, let them hear them; but these things are not so well as I could wish, I had rather thou woulest send one from the dead. In these words there∣fore, Nay, Father Abraham, there is a repulse given. Nay, let it not be so. Nay, I do not like of that answer; Hear Moses and the Prophets? nay. The same expression is used by Christ, Luke 13. 2, 3. Think you▪ that they upon whom the ••ower of Siloe fell, were sinn•rs above others? I tell you nay, for except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. So here, Nay Father Abraham, &c.
Page 147By this word Nay, therefore is signified, a re∣jecting the first answer.
Now observe, I pray you, the reason why he sayes nay, is, because God doth put over all those that will be saved, to observe and receive the truth contained in Scripture, and believe that. To have a high esteem of them, and to love and search them, as Christ saith, Search the Scriptures,—for they are they which testify of me, Joh. 5. 39. But the damned say, Nay; as if he had said, This is the thing to be short, my brethren are unbelie∣vers, and do not regard the Word of God, I know it by my self▪ for when I was in the World, it was so with me; Many a good Sermon did I hear, ma∣ny a time was I admonished, desired, intreated, beseeched, threatned, forewarned of what I now suffer: But alas, I was ignorant, self-conceited, surly, obstinate, and rebellious. Many a time the Preacher told me, hell would be my portion, the devil would wreck his malice on me, God would pour on me his sore displeasure, but he had as good have preached to the stock, to the post, to the stones I trod on; his words rang in mine ears, but I kept them from my heart. I remember he alledged many a Scripture, but those I valued not; the Scriptures, thought I, what are they? a de•d letter, a little Ink and Paper, of three or four shillings price. Alas, what is the Scripture, give me a Ballad, a News-book, George on Hors∣back, Page 148 or Bevis of Southamp•on; give me some book that teaches curious Arts, that tells of old Fables; but for the Holy Scriptures I cared not. And as it was with me then, so it is with my bre∣thren now; we were all of one spirit, loved all the same sins slighted all the same counsels, pro∣mises, incouragements, and threatnings of the Scriptures; and they are still as I left them, still in unbelief, still provoking God, and rejecting good counsel, so hardned in their wayes, so bent to fol∣low sin, that let the Scriptures be shewed to them daily, let the Messengers of Christ preach till their hearts ake, till they fall down dead with prea∣ching, they will rather trample it under-foot, and swine-like rent them, than close in with those gen∣tle and blessed proffers of the Gospel.
Nay Father Abraham, but if one should rise from the dead, they would repent. Though they have Mo∣ses and the Prophets, (the Scriptures) they will not repent and close in with Jesus Christ, though the Scriptures do witness against them. If therefore there be any good done to them, they must have it another way. I think, saith he, it would work much on them, if one should rise from the dead. And this truth indeed is so evident, that ungodly ones have a light esteem of the Scriptures, that it needs not many strong Arguments to prove it, being so evidently manifested by their every dayes pra∣ctice, both in words and actions, almost in all Page 149 things they say and do. Yet for the satisfaction to he Reader, I shall shew you by a Scripture o• two, (though I might shew many) that this was, and is true with the generality of the world. See the words of Nehemiah in his 9th Chapter, con∣cerning the Children of Israel, who though the Lord afforded them mercy upon mercy, as it is from ver. 19▪ to ver. 25. yet ver. 26. saith he, Nevertheless they were disobedient for all thy goodness towards them, and rebelled against thee, (but how?) and cast thy Law behind their back: Slew the Pro∣phets which testified against them, to turn them to thee; and they wrought great provocations. Observe, 1. They sinned against mercy. And then 2. They slighted the Law, or Word of God. 3. They slew the Prophets that declared it unto them. 4. The Lord coun•s it a great provocation. See Heb. 3. from ver. 10. ver. 19. And see Zach. 7. 11, 12. But they refused to hearken, (saith he there of the Wicked) and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear the Law. Yea, they made their hearts hard as an ada∣mant stone, lest they should hear the Law, and the words which the Lord of Hosts sent unto them by his Spirit in the former Prophets, &c. Mark I pray you, her is also, First, a refusing to hearken to the word of the Prophets.
2. That they might so do, they stopped their ears.
Page 1503. If any thing was to be done, they pulled away their shoulder.
4. To effect this, they labour to make their hearts hard as an Adamant stone.
5. And all this, lest they should hear and close in with Jesus and live, and be delivered from the wrath to come, all which things do hold out an unwillingness to submit to, and embrace the words of God; and so Jesus Christ which is re∣stified of by them. Many other Scripture I might bring in for confirmation of the thing, as that in Amos 7. 12, 13. also 2 Sam. 2. 24, 25▪ 2 Chron. 25. 15, 16. Jer. 7. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27. and that 16. 12. Read also seriously that saying, in 2▪ Chron. 36. 15. where he saith, And the Lord God of their Fathers sent unto them by his Messen∣gersrising up betimes because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place. And did they make them welcome? No, But mocked the Mes∣sengers of God, and despised his words: And was that all? No, they misused his Prophets. How long? untill the wrath of the Lord arose against them: Till there was no remedy. See also Jer. 29. 19. chap. 25. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Luke 11. 49.
And besides the Conversation of almost all men doth bear witness to the same, both Religious, and profane persons; in that they daily neglect, reject, and turn their backs upon the plain testi∣mony of the Scriptures.
Page 149As, 1. Take the threatnings laid down in holy Writ, and how are they disregarded; there are but a few places in the Bible, but there are threat∣nings against one sinner or other; against drun∣kards, swearers, lyars, proud persons, strumpets, whoremongers, covetous railers, extortioners, thieves, lazy persons; In a word, all manner of sins are reproved, and without Faith in the Lord Jesus, there is a •ore punishment to be executed on the committers of them; and all this made mention of in the Scriptures.
But for all this, how thick, and by heaps, do these wretches walk up and down our streets? Do but go into the Ale-houses, and you shall see almost every room besprinkled with them, so fo∣ming out their own shame, that it is enough to make the heart of a Saint to tremble, insomuch that they would not be bound to have society with them any long while for all the world. For as the wayes of the godly are not liked of by the wick∣ed, even so the wayes of the wicked are an abomina∣tion to the just, Prov. 29. 27. Psal. 120. 5, 6.
The Scriptures say, Cursed is the man that trust∣eth in man, that maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord, Jer. 17. 5.
And yet how many poor souls are there in the world, that stand in so much aw, and dread of men, and do so highly esteem their favour, that they will rather venture their souls in the hands Page 150 of the devil with their favour, then they will ••y to Jesus Christ for the salvation of their soul. Nay, though they be convinced in their souls, that the way is the way of God; yet how do they labour to stifle convictions, and turn their ears away from the truth, and all because they will not lose the favour of an opposite neighbour. Oh! I dare not for my Master, my Brother, my Landlord, I shall lose his favour, his house of work, and so de∣cay my calling. O saith another, I would wil∣lingly go in this way, but for my Father, he chides and tells me, he will not stand my friend when I come to want▪ I shall never enjoy a penyworth of his goods, he will disinherit me; And I dare not, saith another, for my Husband, for he will be a railing, and tells me, he will turn me out of doors, he will beat me, and cut off my legs. But I tell you, if any of these, or any other things be •o prevalent with thee now, as to keep thee from seeking after Christ in his wayes; they will also be so prevalent with God against thee, as to make him cast off thy soul, because thou didst rather trust man than God; and delight in the embra∣cing of man rather than in the favour of the Lord.
2. Again, the Scripture saith, He that being of∣ten reproved, hardneth his neck, shall suddenly be de∣stroyed, and that without remedy, Prov. 29. 1. Yet many are so far from turning, though they have been convinced of their wretched state an hun∣dred Page 151 times; that when convictions or trouble for sin comes on their Consciences, they go on still in the same manner, resisting and choaking the same, though remediless destruction be hard at their heels.
3. Again, thou hast heard say, Unless a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdome of Hea∣ven, Joh. 3. 3, 5, 7. And yet thou goest on in a natural state; an unregenerate condition, nay, thou dost resolve never to turn not be changed, though hell be appointed on purpose to swallow up such, Isa. 14. 9. Psal. 9. 17. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the Nations that forget God.
4. Again, the Scripture saith plainly, That he that loveth and maketh a lye, shall have his part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, Rev. 21. 8, 27. And yet thou art so far from dreading it, that it is thy delight to jest and jeer, and lye for a penny or two pence, or •ix pence gain. And also if thou canst make the rest of thy companions merry, by telling things that are false of them that are better then thy self, thou dost not care a straw. Or if thou hearest a lye from, or of ano∣ther, thou wilt tell it, and swear to the truth of it. O miserable!
5. Thou hast heard and read, That he that be∣lieves not, shall be damned, Mark 16. 16. And that all men have not Faith, 2 Thess. 3. 2. and yet thou Page 152 dost so much disregard these things, that it is like thou didst scarce ever so much as examine seri∣ously whether thou wert in the faith or no; but dost content thy self with the Hypocrites hope, which at the last God will cut off, and count it no better then the spiders web, Job 8. 13, 14. or the house that is builded on the sands, Luke 6. 49. Nay, thou peradventure dost flatter thy self, and thinkest that thy Faith is as good as the best of them all, when alas poor soul, thou mayest have no saving faith at all; which thou hast not, if thou be not born again and made a new Creature, 2. Cor. 2▪ 17.
6. Thou hast heard, That he that neglects Gods great salvation, shall never escape his great damnati∣on, Heb. 2. 3. compared with Luke 14. 24. and Rev. 14. 19, 20. And yet when thou art invi∣ted, intreated, and beseeched to come in, (Luke 14. 17, 18. 2 Cor. 5. 19, 20. Rom. 12. 1.) thou wilt make any excuse to serve the turn. Nay, thou wilt be so wicked, as to put off Christ time after time, notwithstanding he is so freely profered to thee: a little ground, a few Oxen, a Farm, a Wife, a two penny matter, a Play; nay, the fear of a mock, a scoff, or a jeer, is of greater weight to draw thee back, than the Salvation of thy Soul to draw thee forward.
7. And thou hast heard that, Whosoever will be a friend of the World, is the enemy of God, Jam. 4. 4. Page 153 But thou regardest not these things, but contrari∣wise, rather then thou wilt be out of the friend∣ship and favour of this world, thou wilt sin against thine own Conscience, and get thy self in•o fa∣vour by fawning, and flattering of the world. Yea, rather then thou wilt go without it, thou wilt dis∣semble, lye, backbite thy Neighbour, and an hun∣dred other tricks thou wilt have.
8. You have heard that the day of Judgement is near, in which you and I all of us must appear before the Tribunal of Jesus Christ, and there be made to give an account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead; even of all that ever we did, yea, of all our sins in thought, word, and deed, and shall certainly be damned for them too, if we close not in with our Lord Jesus Christ, and what he hath done and suffered for eternal life, and that not notionally or traditionally, but really and savingly, in the power, and by the operation of the spirit, through faith (Eccles. 11. 9. 12. 14. Heb. 9. 27. Acts 10. 42, Acts 17. 30, 31. 2 Cor. 5. 10. Rev. 20. 12.) And I saw the dead small and great, stand before God, and the Books were open∣ed, and another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the Books. There is the Book of the Creatures, the Book of Conscience, the Book of the Lords Remembrance the Book of the Law, the Book of the Gospel▪ (Rom. 1. 20. com∣pared Page 154 with Rom. 2. 12. 15. Rev. 6. ver. 19. Joh. 12. 48.) Then shall he separate them one from another, as a Shepherd divideth his Sheep on his right hand, and the Goats on his left. (Mat. 25. 30, 31, 32.) And shall say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed, vers. 34. But to the other go or depart ye cur∣sed, ver. 41. Yet notwithstanding, the Scriptures do so plainly & plentifully speak of these things, alas! who is there that is weaned from the world, and from their si•s and pleasures, to fly from the wrath to come, Mat. 3. 7. notwithstanding, the Scripture saith also, That Heaven and Earth shall pass away, rather than one jot or one tittle of the word shall shall fail, till all be fulfilled, they are so cer∣tain, Luke 21. 37.
But leaving the threatnings, let us come to the promises, and speak somewhat of them, and you may see how light men make of them, and how little they set by them, notwithstanding the mouth of the Lord hath spoken them.
As first, Turn ye fools, ye scorners, ye simple ones, at my reproof; and beh•ld I will pour out my spirit unto you. Prov. 1. 24. And yet persons had rather be in their foolishness and scorning still, and had rather imbrace some filthy lust, then the holy, un∣desiled, and blessed Spirit of Christ, thorow the promise, though by it, as many as receive it, are sealed unto the day of redemption, Eph. 4. 30. And Page 155 although he that lives and dies without it, is none of Christs, Rom. 8. 9.
2. God hath said, If thou do but come to him in Christ, though your sins be as red as Scarlet, they shall be as white as Snow: and he will by no meanes cast thee away, (compare Isa. 1. 18. with Joh. 6. •7.) yet poor souls will not come to Christ that they might have life. (Joh. 5. 41.) but rather, after their hard∣ness and impenitent heart, treasure up unto themselves wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgement of God. Rom. 2. 4, 5, 6.
3. Christ Jesus hath said in the word of truth, That if any man will serve and follow him, Where he is, there shall also his servant be. Joh. 12. 26. but yet poor souls choose rather to follow sin, Satan, and the world, though their companions be the devils, and damned souls for ever. Mat. 25. 41.
4. He hath also said, Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added. But let who so will seek after the Kingdom of Heaven, first for them; For they will take the first time, while time serves to get the things of this life. And if it be so, that they must needs seek after Heaven, or else be damned, they will stay till they have more leisure, or till they can better attend to it; or till they have other things hand∣some about them; or till they are older; when they have little else to do; or when they come to be sick, and to die. Then Lord have mercy upon Page 156 them; though it be ten thousand to one, but they perish for ever.
For commonly, the Lord hath this way to deal with such sinners, who put him off when he is stri∣•••• with them, either to laugh at their calamity, and m••k when their fear cometh. (Prov. 1. 26. 28.) 〈◊〉〈◊〉 send them to the gods they have served, which are the devils, Judg. 10. 13. 14. (Go to the gods you have served, and let them deliver you, saith he) compare this with Joh. 8. 44.
5. He hath said, There is no man that forsaketh Father or Mother, Wife or Children, or Lands for his sake, and the Gospels, but shall have an hundred f•l• in this world, with persecution, and in the world to come, life everlasting. Mark 10. 29, 30.
But men for the most part, are so far off from believing the certainty of this, that they will scarce lose the earning of a penny to hear the word of God, the Gospel of salvation. Nay, they will neither go themselves, nor suffer others to go, (if they can help it) without threatning to do them a mischief, if it lie in their way: Nay fur∣ther, many are so far from parting from any worldly gun, for Christs sake and the Gospels, that they are still striving, by hook and by crook, as we say, by swearing, lying, cousening, stealing, covetousness, extortion, oppression, forgery, bri∣bery, fl•ttery, or any other way, to get more, though they get together with these, death, wrath, Page 157 damnation, hell, the devil, and all the plagues that God can pour upon them. And if any do not run with them to the same excess of riot, but rather for all their threats, will be so bold, and careless (as they call it) as to follow the wayes of God; if they can do no more, yet they will whet their tongues like a Sword to wound them, and do them the greatest mischief they can, both in speaking against them to neighbours, to Wives, to Husbands, to Landlords, and raising false Re∣ports of them. But let such take heed, lost they be in such a state and woful condition, as he was in, who said in vexation and anguish of soul, One drop of cold water to cool my tongue.
Thus might I add many things out of the holy W•it, both threatning, and promises, besides those heavenly Counsels, loving Reproofs, free invitations to all sorts of sinners, both old and young, rich and poor, bond and free, wise and unwise. All which have been, now are, and it is to be feared, as long as this World lasts, will be trampled under the feet of those Swine, (I call them not men) who will continue in the same. But take a review of some of them.
What heavenly counsel is that, where Christ saith, Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou Page 158 mayst be rich, and white rayment that thou mayst b• cloathed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear Rev. 3. 17▪ 18. Also that, Ho every one that thirst∣eth, come to the waters: Yea come buy wine and mi•• without money, and without price, Isa. 55. 1. Hear and your souls shall live. Ve•se 3. Lay hold of 〈◊〉 strength, that you may make peace with me, and y•• shall make peace with me. Isa. 27. 5.
What Instruction is here.
Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it n•t▪ Blessed is the man that heareth me, (saith Christ) watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors: For who so findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. Prov. 8. 32, 33, 34, 35. Take heed that no man deceive you by any means. La∣bour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life. Jo•. 6. 27. Strive to enter in at the strait gate, Luke 13. 24. Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved. Act. 16. 31. Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits. Quench not the spirit. Lay hold on eternal life. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works▪ and glorifie your Father which is in Heaven. Mat. 5. 16. Take heed and beware of hypocrisie; watch and Page 159 be sober. Learn of me (saith Christ.) Come unto me.
What forewarning is here.
Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroak, then a great ransome cannot deliver thee, Job 36. 18. Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong for I have heard from the Lord God of Hosts, a Consumption even determined on the whole Earth. Isa. 28. 22. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you that is written: Behold ye dispisers, and wonder and perish. For behold I work a work in your dayes, which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you, Act. 13. 40. 41. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. 1 Cor. 10. 12. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Luke 22. 40. Let us fear therefore, lest a promise being made, or left us, of entring into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Heb. 4. 1. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord having saved the people out of Aegypt, afterward destroyed them that be∣lieved not. Jude 5. Hold fast that thou hast, let no man take thy Crown. Rev. 3. 11.
What comfort is here.
He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise east out▪ Joh. 6. Vers. 37. Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mat. 11. 28. Be of good chear, thy sins are forgiven thee. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, (for) I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Jer. 31. 3. I lay down my life for my sheep; I lay down my life, that they might have life. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. 2 Cor. 6. 2. Though their sins be as Scarlet, they▪ shall be as white as Snow; though they be as Crimson, they shall be as Wooll. For I have blotted out as a thick Cloud, thy transgressions, and as a Cloud thy sins; return unto me, for I have redeemed thee, Isa. 44. 22.
5. Grief to those that fall short.
O sad grief.
How have I hated instruction, and mine heart de∣spised reproof, and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructedPage 161me, Prov. 7. 11, 12, 13. They shall curse their King and their God, and look upwards. And they shall look to the Earth, and behold trouble and darkness, and dimness of anguish: and they shall be driven into dark∣ness. Isa. 8. vers. 21, 22. He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor, his Righteousness endureth for ever.—The wicked shall see it, and be grieved, he shall gnash with his teeth, and m••t away; the de∣sire of the wicked shall perish. Psal. 112. 9, 10.
There shall be weeping when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the King∣dom of Heaven, and your selves thrust out. Luke 13. 26, 27, 28. all which things are slighted by the world.
Thus much in short touching this; that un∣godly men undervalue the Scriptures, and give no credit to them, when the truth that is contained in them, is held forth in simplicity unto them, but rather cry out, nay, but if one should rise from the dead, then they think something might be done: when alas, though signs and wonders were wrought by the hands of those that preach the Gospel, these poor creatures would never the sooner convert, though they suppose they should, as is evident by the carriages of their fore-run∣ners, who, albeit the Lord Jesus Christ himself did confirm his Doctrine by miracles, as opening blind eyes, casting out of Devils, and raising the dead, they were so far from receiving either him, Page 162 or his Doctrine, that they put him to death for his pains, though he had done so many Miracles among them▪ yet they believed not in him. John▪ 12. 37. But to pass this, I shall lay down some of the grounds of their rejecting, and underval•∣ing the Scriptures, and so pass on.
1. Because they do not believe that they are the Word of God, but rather suppose them to be the inventions of men, written by some Politici∣ans, on purpose to make poor ignorant people to submit to some Religion and Government. Though they do not say this, yet their practices testifie the same; as he that when he hears the words of the curse, yet blesseth himself in his heart, and saith, he shall have peace, though God saith he shall have none. Deut. 29. 18, 19, 20. And this must needs be, for did but men believe this, that it is the Word of God, then they must believe, that he that spake it is true, therefore shall every word and tittle be fulfilled. And if they come once to this, unless they be stark mad, they will have a care how they do throw themselves under the lash of eternal vengeance. For the Rea∣son why the Thessalonians received the word, was, because they believed it was the Word of God, and not the word of man, which did effectually work in them by their thus believing. 1 Thes. 2, 13, 14.
Page 163When ye received the word which ye heard of us, (saith he) ye received it, not as the word of man, but as it is indeed the Word of God; which effectually worketh in you that believe. So that did a man but receive it in hearing, or reading, or meditating, as it is the Word of God, they would be converted. But the Word preached doth not profit, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it. Heb. 4. 1, 2.
2. Because they do not indeed see themselves by nature, heirs of that exceeding wrath and ven∣geance that the Scriptures testifie of. For did they but consider what God intends to do with those that live and die in a natural state, it would either sink them into despair, or make them fly for re∣fuge to the hope that is set before them. But if there be never such sins committed, and never so great wrath denounced, and the time of execution be never so near; yet if the party that is guilty be senseless, and altogether ignorant thereof, he will be careless, and regard it nothing at all. And that man by nature is in this condition it is evi∣dent. For take the same man that is senseless, and ignorant of that misery he is in by nature, I say, take him at another time, when he is a little a∣wakened, and then you shall hear him roar, and cry out so long as trouble is upon him, and a sense of the wrath of God hanging over his head: Good sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Page 164Though the same man at another time (when his conscience is fallen asleep, and grown hard) will lie like the Smiths Dog, at the foot of the Anvil, though the fire-sparks flie in his face. But as I said before, when any one is a little awaken∣ed, O• what work will one verse, one line, nay one word of holy Scriptures make in his heart, he cannot eat, sleep, work, keep company with his former companions; and all because he is afraid that the damnation spoken of in Scripture, will fall to his share, Like Balaam, who said, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord, Numb. 22. 18. so long as he had something of the word of the Lord with authority, severity, and power on his heart: but at another time he could teach Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the Children of Is∣rael. Rev. 2. 14.
3. Because the carnal Priests do tickle the ears of their hearers with vain Philosophy and deceit, and thereby harden their hearts against the simplicity of the Gospel, and word of God, which things, the Apostle admonished those that have a mind to close in with Christ, to avoid, Col. 2. 8. saying, Beware lest any man (be he what h• will) spoil you, through Philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. And you who muzzle up your people in ignorance with Aristotle, Plato▪ and the rest of the heathenish Philosophers, and Page 165 preach little, if any thing of Christ rightly. I say unto you, that you will find you have sinned a∣gainst God, and beguiled your hearers, when God shall in the Judgement-day, lay the cause of the damnation of many thousands of souls to your charge, and say, He will require their blood a• your hands, Ezek. 33. 6.
4. Another reason why the carnal unbelieving world do so slight the Scriptures, and Word of God, is, because the judgement spoken of in the Scripture, is not presently executed on the trans∣gressors. Because sentence against an evil act, is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of the sons of men, are wholly set in the•• to do evil, Eccles. 8. 11. Because God doth not presently strike the poor wretch as soon as he sins, but waits, and forbears▪ and is patient: Therefore the world judging God to be unfaithful, go to it again, and again, and e∣very time grow harder and harder, till at last, God is forced either to stretch out his mighty power to turn them, or else send death with the Devil and Hell to fetch them. Thou thoughtest (saith God) that I was altogether such an one as thy self, but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thy face. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Psal. 50. 20. 21.
Page 1665. Another Reason why the blind world do slight the authority of Scripture, is, because they give •ar to the Devil, who through his subtilty casteth false evasions, and corrupt interpretations on them, •end•ing them not so point blank the mind of God, and a rule for direction to poor souls, perswading them, that they must give ear and way to something else besides, and beyond that: or else he labours to render it vile and con∣temptible, by perswading them that it is a dead letter, when indeed they know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. For the Scripture is not so dead, but that the knowledge of it is able to make any man wise unto salvation through faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Tim. 3. 15. And is profitable for instruction, reproof, and correction in righteousness; that the man of God may be throughly furnished to all good works, verse 17.
And where it is said the letter killeth, he meaneth the Law, as it is the ministration of dam∣nation, or a Covenant of works, and so indeed it doth kill, and must do so, because it is just: for∣asmuch as the party that is under the same, is not able to yield to it a compleat and continual obe∣dience. But yet I will call Paul and Peter to witness, that the Scriptures are of a very glorious concernment, in as much as in them is held forth to us the way of life; and also, in that they do Page 167 administer good ground of hope to us, Rom. 15. 4. For whatsoever things were written a foretime, were written for our learning, that we through pati∣ence and comfort of the Scripture, mig•• have hope. And again, Rom. 16. 25, 26. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the Re∣velation of the mistery which was kept hid since the World began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the Prophets, according to the Com∣mandment of the everlasting God, made known to all Nations for the obedience of faith. And therefore whosoever they be that slight the Scriptures, they slight that which is no less then the word of God; and they who slight that, slight him that spake it; and they that do so, let them look to themselves, for God will be reve•ged on such. Much more might be said to this thing, but I would not be te∣dious.
A word or two more, and so I have done with this. Consider the dangers of slighting the words of the Prophets or Apostles, whether they be, correction, reproof, admonition, forewarn∣ing, or the blessed invitations and promises con∣tained in them.
1. Such souls do provoke God to anger, and to execute his vengeance on them. They refused toPage 168hearken▪ they pulled away their shoulder, they stop∣ped their ears, lest they should hear the Law, and they made their hearts Adamant stone, that they might not hear the Law, and the words that were spoken to them by his spirit in the former Prophets: Therefore came a great wrath upon them. Zach. 7. 11, 12.
2. God will not regard in their calamity. Be∣cause I called, and ye refused, I stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, but set at nought all my counsels, and would have none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamities and mock when your fear cometh. When their fear cometh as desolation, and their destruction, like a Whirlwind. Then shall they call, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me, Prov. 1. 25, 26, 27.
3. God doth commonly give up such men to delusions to believe lies. Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, there∣fore God shall send them strong delusiens, that they should believe a lie. That they all might be damned. 2 Thes. 2. 11, 12.
4. In a word, they that do continue to reject and slight the word of God, they are such, for the most part, as are ordained to be damned. Old Eli his sons not hearkening to the voice of their fa∣ther, reproving them for their sins, but disobeying Page 169 his voice, it is sai•, It was because the Lord would slay them, 1 Sam. 2. 15. Again, see in 2 Chron. 25. 15, 16. Amaziah having sinned against the Lord, he sends to him a Prophet to reprove him: But Amaziah sayes, •orbear, wherefore shouldst thou be smitten? (he •id not hearken to the word of God) Then the Prophet forbear, saying, I know that God hath determined to destroy thee, because thou hast not hearkened to my counsel. Read therefore, and the Lord give thee understanding. For a miserable end will those have that go on in sinning against God, rejecting his word.
Other things might have been observed from this verse, which at this time I shall pass by; partly, because the sum of them hath been touch∣ed already, and may be more clearly hinted at in the following verse, and therefore I shall speak a few words to the next verse, and so draw towards a conclusion.