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or large gifts ? or dare you stand to plead in his face that you are qualified and meet for heaven, when he tells you, that you are not ? Do you think there is such a thing as a groundless presumption, or flattering hope that will give up the ghost? Is not the devil a deceiver ? are not your hearts treacherous ? and are not they fools that trust these, and will not try by the word what they affirm ? And have you solemnly and faithfully tried your title to heaven ? have you not taken all for granted without a serious proving of your state, merely because you would have it so ? are you content to do so in temporal things ? and will you madly venture your immortal souls on such grounds as you dare not try? or can you think to escape the strict scrutiny of the omniscient God ? Sirs, the business is important; heaven and hell depend upon it. Ministers who believe that there is an eternity, and certainly know upon what terms souls are saved, dare not but be faithful to you, and declare the whole counsel of God.
I must first tell you, Who those are that are far off salvation, and are utterly unmeet for this inheritance, and can pretend no claim to it. Secondly, Such as pretend a claim, which is groundless, and but a pretended claim which cannot be made out on Scripture grounds.
1. There are persons within the pale of the visible church, (for I here meddle not with heathens or Jews) who are evidently excluded. These are sinners that carry a black brand on their foreheads, of whom a man may say without breach of charity, these exhibit visibly the doleful tokens of eternal death and perdition. Of these we have one catalogue, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, “ Know ye not,” that is, methinks you cannot plead ignorance in so notorious a case so oft inculcated, that, (1.) “ The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ;” that is, who grind the poor, and overreach their brethren, when they have them at advantage, “God is the avenger of such,” i Thess. iv. 6; therefore will not reward them with heaven.
(2.) Nor shall fornicators inherit the kingdom of God. Such filthy goats must be set at God's left hand. This sin (as venial a sin as it is reckoned by some) is ruinous, and excludes men from heaven. Do you think that such polluted dogs shall ever trample on the golden pavement, when God would not suffer even the price of a harlot or dog to come into his house ? Deut. xxiii. 18.
(3.) Nor idolaters, gross, or more refined : for God will not permit his children to keep company, or familiarly converse with such on earth; and therefore they shall not be associated with them in the other world, for God is not well pleased with such.
(4.) Nor shall adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, inherit the kingdom of God; such vile wretches shall rather have fire from heaven, than be admitted into that holy place. These horrible acts of lewdness are not fit to be named among saints; and surely those who commit them cannot be received among saints. *
(5.) Nor thieves. Not only open robbers on the high way, or breakers of houses, but gamesters that cheat others, or purloining, wasteful servants, deceitful tradesmen, or wilful bankrupts, who basely get others' estates into their hands, and never intend to pay their just debts. These men, without restitution, shall have their ill-gotten silver and gold to torment them like burning metal in their bowels, James v. 2, 3. * 1 Cor. v. 11.
X. 5, 7. Eph. v. 3, 4. Rom. i. 24.
(6.) Nor covetous. These are fitly ranked with thieves, that run out with inordinate affection after the world, and share in her favours with great delight; that enlarge their desires as hell. These shall be shut out of heaven, for they have their portion in the present life, and are real idolaters. * These must be banished heaven.
(7.) Nor drunkards. Not only such as brutify themselves, and drink away their reason, but such as sitting long, continue till wine inflame them: yea, though they be not intoxicated, yet those purchase a woe to themselves, who are “mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink,” Isaiah v. 11, 22.
(8.) Nor revilers. These are properly connected with drunkards; for the godly are usually the drunkards' song, that scoff and jeer at serious religion, and break their scurrilous jests upon the holiest saints : but there is no railing among angels or saints in heaven, Jude 9; nor shall such revilers come there: and one would think they do not desire to come to associate with those they so abuse.
(9.) I may add backbiters, who love to take up and blaze abroad a false report against their neighbours. These are excluded from God's tabernacle, Psal. xv. 1, 3; they forge all the calumnies they can against such as do them no hurt, wounding them secretly with a stab in the dark, or behind their backs; God will shut the door of heaven against such.
(10.) Swearers, that profane the glorious and tremendous name of the eternal God by horrible oaths, curses, and execrations : blasphemers of old were to be put to death, and if men now spare them, the flying roll of curses shall go out against them, and cut them
* Psal. xvii. 14. Col. iii. 5. Eph. v. 5.
off, Zech. v. 2-4. “ Those that swear fall into condemnation," James v. 12.
(11.) Liars, that invent or utter falsehoods on any account whatsoever. These carry their own doom in their consciences, and they may read the doleful sentence, Rev. xxi. 27, “ There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, or maketh a lie.” The God of truth hateth liars, and will banish them from his court, as David did.
(12.) Apostates, that once made a fair shew, but are renegadoes to the truth, way, people, and worship of God. They bring a great reproach on religion; and our blessed Saviour pronounceth such as put their “ hand to the plough and look back, to be unfit for the kingdom of God; God's soul will have no pleasure in them.” ( the dreadful end of those that turn their backs on Christ. * Hearken, sinners, if
be of this number, read and trennble, there is no room for you in this glorious city above, you must be shut out. Living and dying in this state there is no more mercy for you than for the devils : heaven is shut against you, hell is open for you ; how can you escape the damnation of hell? Matt. xxiii. 33. Alas, you are daily filling up the measure of your sins; the ephah is well nigh full, another sin, another neglect, and the next news you may hear, the talent of lead may be cast upon the mouth of the ephah, and thy soul carried into thine own place, Zech. v. 7, 8. One oath more, one lie more, one fit of drunkenness more, and thy iniquity is full, thy soul is gone. Who can tell but God may say to thee as to the rich man, Luke xii. 20, “ This night thy soul shall be required of thee ?” or as the word àraltovorv signifies, they, that is, the devils shall require thy soul. Oh
* Psal. ci. 7. Luke. ix. 62. Heb. x. 38. 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21.
how eagerly are infernal fiends watching for a commission to arrest thee with death on a journey, or to strangle thee in thy bed, and hurry thee headlong into hell with them! Thy iniquity is filling up; the sunshine of prosperity ripens it apace; the sweet rain of gospel ordinances brings weeds to perfection as well as corn. As God's children are making meet for heaven, thou art making meet for hell. Rom. ix. 22, “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction :" karnptiouéva, made up, made ready, like sticks dried and bundled up to be cast into the fire. It is not said that God fits them for destruction, as it is said, verse 23, of the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory. No, no, there needs no more to a sinner's fitness for hell, but leaving him to himself; he will fall apace downwards to perdition with his own weight. Ah sinner, thou little knowest how soon thy foot may slide off this slippery battlement on which thou standest, to the precipice of eternal destruction ; little dost thou know how soon that flaming sword which hangs over thy head by the slender thread of thy natural life, may descend upon thee and separate soul and body, and follow this stroke of vengeance into the other world. Methinks thou wouldst not eat, nor drink, nor sleep quietly in this so dangerous, ruinous a state ; every sin thou committest is a “treasuring up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath,” Rom. ii. 5. Look to it, the Judge standeth before the door, death is ready to lay its cold hand of arrest upon thee; there is but a step between you and death; that door which lets you out of time ushers you into eternal torments; and are you taking long strides to hell? shall you not be there soon enough ? can you not sink yourselves