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and they mocked him5. And here St. Peter says, There will be (that is, there will be always) scoffers that will say, where is the promise of Christ's coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were, from the beginning of the creation6. But do they so, says this apostle? Was not the world that then was, overflowed with water, and perished1? If that were done in earnest, why do ye make a jest of this, says he, That the heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment3. The apostle says, that in the last days perilous times shall come9; and he reckons there divers kinds of perilous men, but yet these jesters are not among them. And then the apostle names more perilous men, seducing spirits, and seducing by the doctrine of devils, forbidding meats and marriage10; and we know who these men are. Our Saviour tells us they shall proceed a great way, they shall show great signs and wonders, they shall pretend miracles, and they shall exhibit false Christs, Christs kneaded into pieces of bread; and we know who these are, and can beware of these proceedings. But St. Jude remembers us of the greatest danger of all, Remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there should be mockers in the last time"; for against all the rest the church of God is better armed; but Perniciosissimum humano generi, says St. Augustine, this is the ruin and overthrow of mankind (that is of religion, which is the life and soul of mankind), Cum vera et salubris sententia imperitorum populorum irrisione sordescit; when true and sincere religion shall be cried down and laughed out of countenance by the scorns and jests of ignorant people. When to all our sober preaching and serious writing, a scornful ignorant shall think it enough to oppose that one question of contempt, Where was your Church before Luther? whereas, if we had had any thing from Luther which we had not had before, yet even that were elder than those articles which they had from the Council of Trent, and had not (as articles) before, for Luther's declarations were before the constitutions of that council; so that we could play with them at their own game, and retort their own scorns upon themselves, but that matters of religion should move in a higher sphere, and not be depressed and submitted to jests. But though our apostle's prophecy must be fulfilled, There will be, and will always be, some scoffers, some jesters; nevertheless, says the text, there is a religious constancy upheld and maintained by others; and farther we extend not this first consideration of our danger.
5 Acts xvii. 32. 6 2 Pet. iii. 4. * 2 Pet. iii. 6.
8 2 Pet. iii. 7. a 2 Tim. iii. 1. 10 1 Tim. i». 1.
But, though I can stand out these scorns and jests, there is a temptation that is real; there are true terrors, sad apprehensions, substantial circumstances, that accompany the consideration of Christ's second coming and the day of judgment. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, if I do but fall into his hands in a fever in my bed, or in a tempest at sea, or in a discontent at home; but to fall into the hands of the living God, so as that that living God enters into judgment with me, and passes a final and irrevocable judgment upon me, this is a consternation of all my spirits, an extermination of all my succours. I consider what God did with one word, with one fiat he made all; and I know he can do as much with another word, with one pereat he can destroy all; as he spake and it was done, he commanded and all stood fast1S; so he can speak and all 12 Psalm xxxiii. 9.
shall be undone, command and all shall fall in pieces. I consider that I may be surprised by that day, the day of judgment. Here St. Peter says, The day of the Lord will come as a thief'3. And St. Paul says, we cannot be ignorant of it, Yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief". And as the judgment itself, so the judge himself says of himself, I will come upon thee as a thief15. He says he will, and he does it; for it is not Ecce veniam, but Ecce venio, Behold I do come upon thee as a thief". There the future, which might imply a dilatoriness, is reduced to an infallible present; it is so sure that he will do it, that he is said to have done it already. I consider he will come as a thief, and then as a thief in the night; and I do not only not know when that night shall be (for himself, as he is the Son of man, knows not that), but I do not only not know what night, that is which night, but not what night, that is, what kind of night he means. It is said so often, so often repeated, that he will come as a thief in the night, as that he may mean all kind of nights. In my night of ignorance he may come, and he may come in my night of wantonness; in my night of inordinate and sinful melancholy and suspicion of his mercy he may come, and he may come in the night of so stupid or so raging a sickness, as that he shall not come by coming; not come so as that I shall receive him in the absolution of his minister, or receive him in the participation of his body and his blood in the sacrament. So he may come upon me as such a thief in such a night; nay, when all these nights of ignorance, of wantonness, of desperation, of sickness, of stupidity, of rage, may be upon me all at once. I consider that the Holy Ghost meant to make
» 2 Pet. iii. 10. M 1 Thes. v. 2.
15 Rev. iii. 3. "Ret. xvi. 15.
a deep impression of a great terror in me, when he came to that expression, that the heavens should pass away, cum stridore, with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up "; and when he adds in Isaiah, The Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury; for by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh18. So when he proceeds in Joel, A day of darkness and gloominess, and yet a fire devoureth before them, and a flame burneth behind them19. And so in Daniel also, His throne a fiery flame, and his wheels a burning fire, and a fiery stream issuing from him20. I consider too, that, with this stream of fire from him, there shall be a stream, a deluge, a flood of tears from us; and all that flood and deluge of tears shall not put out one coal, nor quench one spark of that fire. Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him; and, plangent omnes, all the kindreds of the earth shall wail and lament, and weep and howl because of himv. I consider that I shall look upon him then, and see all my sins, substance, and circumstance of sin, weight and measure of sin, heinousness and continuance of sin, all my sins imprinted in his wounds; and how shall I be affected then, confounded then, to see him so mangled with my sins? But then I consider again, that I shall look upon him again, and not see all my sins in his wounds; my forgotten sins, 1nine unconsidered, unconfessed, unrepented sins, I shall not see there; and how shall I be affected then, when I shall stand in judgment under the guiltiness of some sins not buried in the wounds, not drowned in the blood of my Saviour? Many and many, and
17 2 Pet. iii.10. 1• Isaiah, lxvi. 15. 1• Joel, ii.2, 3. 20 Dan. vii. 9. "Rev. i.7.
very many, infinite and infinitely infinite, are the terrors of that day; nevertheless, my soul, why art thou so sad, why art thou disquieted within me? Thou hast a Goshen to rest in for all this Egypt, a Zoar to fly to for all this Sodom, a sanctuary and horns of the altar to hold by for all this storm. Nevertheless, says our text, though there be these scornful jests, though there be these real terrors, nevertheless there are a we, certain privileged persons, and the consideration of those persons is our third and next circumstance.
To those who pretended an interest in Christ, and had none; to those who would exorcise possessed persons, and cast out devils in the name of Jesus, without any commission from Jesus; to those sons of Sceva the devil himself could say, Qui vos? Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are youm? To those who live in an outward conformity to Christ, but yet seek their salvation in the light of nature, and their power of resisting temptations in their moral constancy, the devil may boldly say, Qui vos? Jesus I know, and the church I know, but who are you? I would I had no worse enemies than you. Nevertheless we, for all his scores, for all these terrors, shall have an answer to his qui vos, and be able to tell him, that we are that gens sancta, and that regale sacerdotium that this apostle speaks of, that holy people °, made holy by his covenant and ordinances; and that royal priesthood, which, as priests, have an interest in his sacrifice, his Son; and as kings, have an interest in that crown which, for his Son's sake, he hath ordained for us. We are they who have seen the marks of his election in their first edition, in the Scriptures; and seen them again in their second edition, as they are imprinted in our consciences, in our faith, in our manners; and so we cannot mistake
"Acts, xix. 15. » 2 Pel. i. 2—9.