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SERMON XXX.

THE FEARFULNESS WHICH WILL HEREAFTER SURPRISE SINNERS IN ZION, REPRESENTED

AND IMPROVED.

learah xxxiii. 14.-The sinners in Zion are afraid ; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites : who among

us shall dwell with the devouring fire ? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings!

There are two kinds of persons among God's professing people; the one is those who are truly godly, who are spoken of in the verse following the text; “He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly," &c. The other kind consists of sinners in Zion, or hypocrites. It is to be observed, that the prophet in this chapter speaks interchangeably, first to the one, and then to the other of these characters of men; awfully threatening and denouncing the wrath of God against the one, and comforting the other with gracious promises. Thus you may observe, in the 5th and 6th verses, there are comfortable promises to the godly; then in the eight following verses, awful judgments are threatened against the sinners in Zion. Again, in the two next verses are blessed promises to the sincerely godly, and in the former part of verse 17. And then in the latter part of verse 17, and in verses 18, and 19, are terrible threatenings to sinners in Zion: then in the verses that follow are gracious promises to the godly.

Our text is part of what is said in this chapter to sinners in Zion. In verse 10, it is said, “Now will I rise, saith the Lord ; now will I be exalted, now will I lift up myself," i. e., Now will 1 arise to execute my wrath upon the ungodly; I will not let them alone any longer. They shall see that I am not asleep, and that I am not regardless of mine own honor. “Now will I be exalted." Though they have cast contempt upon me, yet I will vindicate the honor of my own majesty: I will exalt myself, and show my greatness, and my awful majesty in their destruction.“ Now will I lift up myself;"? now I will no longer have mine honor to be trampled in the dust by them: but my glory shall be manifested in their misery.

In verse 11, the prophet proceeds, “ Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble :" i. e., Ye shall pursue happiness in ways of wickedness, but you shall not obtain it; you are as ground which brings forth no fruit, as if only chaff were sowed in it; it brings forth nothing but stubble, which is fit for nothing but to be burned.

It seems to have been the manner in that land where the corn grew very rank, when they had reaped the wheat, and gathered it off from the ground, to set fire to the stubble; which is alluded to here; and therefore it is added, “ Your breath, as fire, shall devour you :" i. e., Your own wicked speeches

, your wickedness that you commit with your breath, or with your tongues, shall set fire to the stubble and devour it.

Then it follows in verse 12, " And the people shall be as the burnings of lime.” As they are wont to burn lime in a great and exceeding fierce fire, till stones, and bones, and other things are burnt to lime; so shall the wicked be burnt in the fire of God's wrath. “ As thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire:” as briers and thorns are the incumbrance and curse of the ground where they grow, and are wont to be burnt; so shall it be with the wicked that are among God's people and grow in God's field. Heb. vi. 7, 8, “For the earth

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which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

Then it follows in verse 13,“ Hear ye that are afar off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might.” This implies that God will, by the destruction of ungodly men, manifest his glory very publicly, even in the sight of the whole world, both in the sight of those that are near, and those that are afar off.” “ Acknowledge my might.” Which implies that God will execute wrath upon ungodly men, in such a manner as extraordinarily to show forth his great and mighty power. The destruction and misery of the wicked

will be so dreadful that it will be a dreadful manifestation of the omnipotent T: power of God, that he can execute so dreadful misery; agreeably to Rom. ix. di 22, “ What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction.”

Next follow the words of the text : “ The sinners in Zion are afraid: fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites : who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?” The sense of the text is, that the time will come when fearfulness will surprise the sinners in Zion; because they will know, that they are about to be cast into a devouring fire, which they must suffer forever and ever, and which none can endure. This I shall make the subject of my present discourse ; and shall particularly speak upon the subject,

1. By inquiring, who are sinners in Zion ?
2. By showing how fearfulness will hereafter surprise them.

3. By insisting on those reasons of this fear and surprise, which are mendoned in the text.

4. By showing why sinners in Zion will be especially surprised with fear.

I. It may be inquired, Who are the sinners in Zion ?-I answer, that they are those who are in a natural condition among the visible people of God. Zion, or the city of David of old, was a type of the church; and the church of God in Scripture is perhaps more frequently called by the name of Zion than by any other name. And commonly by Zion is meant the true church of Christ, or the invisible church of true saints. But sometimes by this name is meant the visible church, consisting of those who are outwardly, by profession and external privileges, the people of God. This is intended by Zion in this text.

The greater part of the world are sinners: Christ's flock is, and ever hath been but a little flock. And the sinners of the world are of two sorts: there are those that are visibly of Satan's kingdom, who are without the pale of the visible church. Such are all who do not profess the true religion, nor attend the external ordinances of it. Beside these there are the sinners in Zion. Both are objects of the displeasure and wrath of God; but his wrath is more especially manifested in Scripture against the latter. Sinners in Zion will have by far the lowest place in hell. They are exalted nearest to heaven in this world, and they will be lowest in hell in another. The same is meant in the text, by hypocrites, as sinners in Zion. Sinners in Zion are all hypocrites; for they make a profession of the true religion; they attend God's ordinances, and make

show of being the worshippers of God; but al) is in hypocrisy.—I now hasten as was proposed,

II. To show how fearfulness will hereafter surprise sinners in Zion.

1. They will hereafter be afraid. Now many of them seem to have little or no fear. They are quiet and secure. Nothing will awaken them: the most VOL. IV.

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awful threatenings and the loudest warnings do not much move them. They are not so much moved with them, but that they can eat, and drink, and sleer and go about their worldly concerns without much disturbance. But the tini will come, when the hardest and most stupid wretches will be awakened Though now preaching will not awaken them, and the death of others will du make them afraid; though seeing others awakened and converted will much affect them; though they can stand all that is to be heard and seen in a time of general outpouring of the Spirit of God, without being much moved yet the time will come, when they will be awakened, and fear will take bola of them. They will be afraid of the wrath of God: however senseless they be now, they will hereafter be sensible of the awful greatness of God, and that i is a fearful thing to fall into his hands.

2. They will be surprised with fear. This seems to imply two things; viz, , the greatness of their fear, and the suddenness of it.

(1.) The greatness of their fear. Surprise argues a high degree of fear. Their fears will be to the degree of astonishment. Some of the sinners in Zon are somewhat afraid now: they now and then have some degree of fear. They are not indeed convinced that there is such a place as hell; but they are afraid there is. They are not thoroughly awakened ; neither are they quite easy. They have at certain times inward molestations from their consciences; bu they have no such degrees of fear, as to put them upon any thorough endeaves

future wrath. However, hereafter they will have fear enough, as much, and a great deal more than they will be able to stand under. Their fear will be to the degree of horror; they will be horribly afraid ; and terrors will take hold on them as waters. Thus we read of “their fear coming as a desolation, and of distress and anguish coming upon them,” Prov. i. 27. It is also very emphatically said of the wicked, that“ trouble and anguish shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle,” Job xv. 24.

The stoutest heart of thein all will then melt with fear. The hearts of those who are of a sturdy spirit, and perhaps scorn to own themselves afraid of any man, and are even ashamed to own themselves afraid of the wrath of God, will then becoine as weak as water, as weak as the heart of a little child. And the most reserved of them will not be able to hide his fears. Their faces will turn pale; they will appear with amazement in their countenances ; ETETT

joint in them will tremble; all their bones will shake; and their knees wil smite one against another; nor will they be able to refrain from crying out with fear and rending the air with the most dismal sbrieks.

(2.) They will be suddenly seized with fear. The sinners in Zion ofta remain secure, till they are surprised, as with a cry at midnight. They will be as it were, awakened out of their secure sleep in a dismal fright. T'hey will see an unexpected calamity coming upon them; far more dreadful than they were aware of, and coming at an unexpected season,

With respect to the time when the wicked shall be thus surprised with fear;

1. It is often so on a death-bed. Many things pass in their lifetime, which one would think might well strike terror into their souls; as when they sa others die, who are as young as they, and of like condition and circumstances with themselves, whereby they may see how uncertain their lives are, and how unsafe their souls. It may well surprise many sinners, to consider how old they are grown, and are yet in a Christless state ; how much of their opportunity to get an interest in Christ is irrecoverably gone, and how little remains ; also how much greater their disadvantages now are, than they have been. Bu

se things do not terrify them : as age increases, so do the hardness and stuity of their hearts grow upon them. But when death comes, then the sinner is often filled with astonishment. It y be, when he is first taken sick, he has great hope that he shall recover; as n are ready to flatter themselves with hopes, that things will be as they fain uld have them. But when the distemper comes to prevail much upon him, I he sees that he is going into eternity ; when he sees that all the medicines physicians are in vain, that all the care and endeavors of friends are to no pose, that nothing seems to help him, that his strength is gone, that his ends weep over him, and look upon his case as desperate ; when he sees, by

countenance and behavior of ihe physician, that he looks upon his case as it hope, and perhaps overhears a whispering in the room, wherein his friends nify one to another, that they look upon it that he is struck with death, or erein they tell one another, that his extreme parts grow cold, that his councance and manner of breathing, and his pulse, show death, and that he begins be in a cold death sweat; and when perhaps, by and by, some one thinks aself bound in duty and faithfulness to let him know the worst, and therefore Des and asks him whether or no he be sensible that he is dying—then how th fearfulness surprise the sinner in Zion! How doth his heart melt with ir! This is the thing which he feared ever since he was taken sick ; but till w he had hope that he should recover. The physician did not speak; or if despaired, he spoke of such and such medicines as being very proper ; and hoped that they would be effectual; and when these failed, he changed his edicines, and applied something new: then the sinner hoped that that would effectual. Thus, although he constantly grew worse and worse, still he hoped recover.

At the same time he cried to God to spare him, and made promises how he ould live, if God would spare him; and he hoped that God would hear him. e observed also that his friends, and perhaps the minister, seemed to pray urnestly for him; and he could not but hope that those prayers would be anvered, and he should be restored. But now how doth his heart sink and die ithin him! How doth he look about with a frighted countenance ! How quick the motion of his eye, through inward fear! And how quick and sudden are I his motions! What a frightful hurry doth he seem to be in ! How doth very thing look to him when he sees pale grim death staring him in the face, nd a vast eternity within a few hours or minutes of him!

It may be, he still struggles for a little hope; he is loth to believe what is old him ; he tells those who tell him that he is dying, that he hopes not; he opes that they are more affrighted than they need be; he hopes that those ymptoms arise from some other cause; and, like a poor drowning man, he atches at slender and brittle twigs, and clinches his hands about whatever he ees within his reach.

But as death creeps more and more on him, he sees his twigs break, all his lopes of life fail, and he sees he must die. 0! there is nothing but death beore him! He hath been hoping ; but his hopes are all dashed; he sees this world, and all that belongs to it, are gone. Now come the thoughts of hell into his mind with amazement. O! how shall he go out of the world? He knows he hath no interest in Christ; his sins stare him in the face. Othe dreadful gulf of eternity! He had been crying to God, perhaps since he was sick, to save him; and he had some hope, if it were his last sickness, that yet God would pity him, and give him pardoning grace before he should die. He bego ged and pleaded, and he hoped that God would bave pity on his poor soul. At

the same time he asked others to pray for him, and he had been looking day after day for some light to shine into his soul. But, alas! now he is dying, and his friends ask him, how death appears to him? Whether any light appear? Whether God have not given him some token of his favor? And he answers, No, with a poor, faltering, trembling voice, if he be able to speak at all: or if his friends ask a signal of hope, he can give none.

Now death comes on him more and more, and he is just on the brink of eternity. Who can express the fear, the misgivings, the hangings back, and the horrible fright and amazement, that his soul is the subject of ? Some who, in such circumstances, have been able to speak, have been known to cry out, O eternity! eternity! And some, O! a thousand worlds for an inch of time! O if they might but live a little while longer! But it must not be; go they must. They feel the frame of nature dissolving, and perceive the soul is just going; for sometimes the exercise of reason seems to hold to the last.

What, in such a case, is felt in the soul, in those last moments, when it is just breaking its bands with the body, about to fetch its leap, and is on the edge of eternity, and the very brink of hell, without any Saviour, or the least testimony of divine mercy : I say, what is sometimes felt by Christless souls in these moments, none can tell; nor is it within the compass of our conception.

2. The misery of the departed soul of a sinner, besides what it now feels, consists in a great part in amazing fears of what is yet to come. When the union of the soul and body is actually broken, and the body has fetched its last gasp, the soul forsakes its old habitation, and then falls into the hands of devils

, who fly upon it, and seize it more violently than ever hungry lions flew upon their prey. And with what horror will it fall into those cruel hands!

If we imagine to ourselves the dreadful fear with which a lamb or kid falls into the paws of a wolf, which lays hold of it with open mouth; or if we ima. gine to ourselves the feeling of a little child, that hath been pursued by a lion

, when it is taken hold of, and sees the terrible creature open his devouring jaws to tear it in pieces; or the feeling of those two and forty children, who were cursed by Elisha, when they fell into the paws of the bears that tore them in pieces : I say, if we could have a perfect idea of that terror and astonishment which a little child has in such a case, yet we should have but a faint idea of what is felt in the departing soul of a sinner, when it falls into the hands of those cruel devils, those roaring lions, which then lay hold of it!

And when the poor soul is carried to hell, and there is tormented, and suffers the wrath of the Almighty, and is overwhelmed and crushed with it, it will also be amazed with the apprehensions of what shall yet remain. To think of an eternity of this torment remaining, 0 how will it fill, and overbear, and sink down the poor soul! How will the thought of the duration of this torment without end cause the heart to melt like wax! How will the thought of it sink the soul into the bottomless pit of darkness and gloominess ! Even those proud and sturdy spirits, the devils, do tremble at the thoughts of that greater torment which they are to suffer at the day of judgment. So will the poor damned souls of men. They will already have vastly more than they will be able to bear : how then will they tremble at the thought of having their misery so' vastly augmented!

Persons sometimes in this world are afraid of the day of judgment. If there be an earthquake, or if there be more than common thunder and lightning, ar if there be soine unusual sight in the heavens, their hearts are ready to tremble for fear that the day of judgment is at hand. O how then do the poor souls in hell fear it, who know so much more about it, who know by what they feel al

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