Everlasting love of God, and Mary's good choice/Everlasting Love of God

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John iii. 16, 17.

For God so loved the world, that be gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, ſhould not periſh, but have everlaſting life.

The Lord's love and care to us has declared itſelf many ways, and eſpecially in this point, that this privy conference with Nicodemas, ſpoken at this time for our conſolation, it hath pleaſed the Lord to put it up in regiſter, that it may be the conſolation of many; and ſuppofe it was privy, and in the night, yet it hath pleaſed the Holy Ghoſt to bear record of it, that all believers, to the end of the world, may have their conſlation in it.

Now, in theſe verſes read, is,

I. The fountain of our ſalvation, The L ve of God.

II. There is the means whereby he has uttered it, which is, by the ſending of his Son to be humbled and glorified.

III. The means to get Chrift, that is, by faith only.

IV. The benefit and conqueſt of our faith, which is, Salvation.

For this end did the Father love us, that he might ſave us, and give unto us eternal life. For this cauſe came the Son down from heaven, and for this cauſe it was he went to heaven, that he might give us eternal life; and for this cauſe the Father cauſes us believe, and this is the fruit and end of all believing, to-wit, eternal life.—So it remains to tell what are the benefits that believers get in the Son.

Now, leaving all that has been ſpoken concerning this myſtery of faith, as for the benefit that faith gets, in a word, it is Salvation. I know it gets more benefit before it will plant thee in Chriſt, and make thee one with him; it will make thee fleſh of his fleſh, and bone of his bone; it will make thee fit in heaven with him: It will crucify thee with Chriſt, and it will juſtify thee in Chriſt; it will get thee remiſſion in his blood, and it will cleanſe thy heart; for it is that bath of hyſſop that will ſprinkle that blood on thy ſoul, Exodus xii. 22.—Faith, in a word, will make thee to live in peace, and die in peace at the laſt, and will put thee in the peaceable poſſeſſion of endleſs glory! If ye get not that former benefit, ye will not get the laſt; and when thou getteſt the laſt, then thy faith ſhall ceaſe: So, except the conjunction be made between thy ſoul and Chriſt, by the Holy Ghoſt, and unleſs thou getteſt the Spirit of adoption, faith will never bring thee to the laſt point; and if it bring thee to the firſt, ſhall bring thee to the laſt. So faith begins in thee life, but it makəs nothing complete till the reſurrection, when ſoul and body ſhall be caught within the clouds. So look what faith works in thy heart; for if thy living faith have not a work of grace here in the ſoul, it ſhall never have a work of glory hereafter.

Now, the laſt thing which faith brings, which is Salvation, it ſtands in two points.

1ſt, In an immunity and freedom from perdition.

2dly, In fruition and poſſeſſion of eternal life: and both theſe we have here. Now, I will tell you what both theſe are. What is the cauſe that makes the world count ſo little of Chriſt, and of the love of God in Chriſt? It is this, They know not what it is to exiſt for evermore, and what it is to live forevermore; for if they knew this, they would eſteem more of Chriſt, and of the love of God, than ever they did: Whoſoever believes, ſhall not periſh. Then it is certain, that there is a perdition, there is a hell, wherein is endless perdition, Whosoever believes, ſhall not periſh. There is life after this, there is a hell and a heaven: and however it be that the god of this world has blinded the moſt part, and the devil has bewitched men and women, yet it is certain that there is a God, that there is a hell, and a perdition: So it is certain that there is everlaſting life. The generation before, if ye could hear them, they would all tell you this; ſome in endless pleaſure, ſome in endless torment; for they are all gone before you, to be preachers to you. Now, wherein ſtands this perdition and periſhing? For it is the 1ſt. point I am minded to tell you. 2dly, Wherein all life ſtands.

As for the firſt, there are three things in it: 1ſt, The want of joy. 2dly. The presence of pain. 3dly, The eternity of the loſs of joy, and the eternity of the preſence of pain. Think on them all.

Firſt, (illegible text) is the loss of the presence of God, that the ſaints and angels have in heaven, within (illegible text) gates of the New Jeruſalem. Thou mayeſt not eat of that tree of life; thou mayeſt not drink of the rivers of the waters of life; thou mayeſt not drink in that company of ſaints and angels, that haſt not believed in the Son of God here: So if there were no other hell, but to be deprived of the blessed ſociety of the glorified ſaints and angels with God, it were hell enough.

Secondly, Consider, that no excuſe will be adınitted that day. Friendſhip will do thee no good, propheſying and preaching will do thee no good. The other thing that augments it, is the loss of happiness. An unknown a benefit, when it is loſt, ſhall not bring meikle pain with it; but a ſeen benefit, a joy which ye might have gotten, if ye could have believed, ſhall augment your pain wonderfully: As the pain of the rich glutton, had not been ſo great, if he had not ſeen Lazarus in Abraham's boſom: So the exclusion, and the barring of the yate on the miſbeliever, on the ſoul and carcase for evermore, this is the first in the perdition: therefore the tribunal must be in the air. for thou ſhall never win at the yate of that kingdom. And if there were not another torment but the want of these joys in heaven for evermore, it were torment enough. But if there were no more, what rack of all this want of joy, and rugging and ſeparation of the ſoul and body from the presence of God and his ſaints, in whom is all-ſufficient joy? How grievous ſhall that be to thee? How ill-will had Peter to come down from the mount, trow ye? Ye would think it hard to be tugged and ſeparated from a friend, and more from your own children. O! but what is that, in comparison to be ſeparated from ſo loving a God? But this is not all, the depriving of endless joy; (now, this ſhould cause you know the necessity of believing:) but, besides this, there is an eternity of pain. To lose heaven, is no great matter; but to be cast into hell, is greater! To want the place is great, but to be flung into prison is greater. To lose the pleasure of heaven is great, but to be caſt into the lake of fire and brimſtone, where the worm never dies, and the fire never goes out, into ſuch a fire, that the violence thereof ſuch, that there is no patience to bear it; for it is ſo great and painful that iſ thou hadst ten thousand worlds, thou would give them all for one drop of cold water to cool thy tongue; a fire that ſhall never be ſlockened, for it ſhall burn as long as God lives. Again, That fire ſhall not conſume the carcase and ſoul; but it is a furnace that ſhall burn for evermore! and thou ſhalt have none to keep the flames of that fire from thy conscience and carcase; and there ſhall be the wrath of God, and the vials full of his indignation, poured out continually upon thy ſoul, that it ſhall get no leave to look for mercy, and put off all hope of help, or ending of that pain!—Besides this, there are these particulars and circumstances that aggravate this perdition, there is nothing there but conſuming fire; no company but devils; no light but a mirk prison and darkness, bound hand and foot; a death ay beginning, but never ſhall have an end; a worm that ay ſhall gnaw thy conscience! Again, It were ſome case, if any part of the ſoul or body were free of torments; but there ſhall never be a part of thy body that ſhall not be filled with torments, and never a faculty of thy ſoul but it ſhall have its own torments; thy eye, that thou wouldest not open to behold the glory of God, it ſhall be compelled to look on that ugly fight! thy ear, that thou wouldest not apply to hear the voice of God, it ſhall be compelled to hear the howling and blaspheming of devils and reprobates; thy mind and understanding, which thou abusedst in this life, ſhall have their own torments.

Thirdly, There is an eternity of pain, and an eternity of loss. Ye know, were the traveller or mariner never ſo wearied, yet the hope of an end will bring him conſolation; but when thou knowest thy pain is endless, and when thou rememberest the eternity of thy punishment, and that as long as God lives, your pain ſhall last, this will ſpoil you of all consulation!

The next print is, What it is to have eternal life; and wherein it ſtands?

It ſtands in three things ſhortly. But, I know, it is a thing that cannot be underſtood; none can measure the glory of that kingdom, and the joys of that life; for he that ſaw it, and was raviſhed with the ſight, he ſaid he ſaw things unutterable. Alwiſe, there are thred things in it:

Firſt, The glory of the place; not an house made with hands, but that New Jeruſalem that has twelve ports that are of precious ſtones, the ſtreets of gold, and the temple of it, God himself!

Secondly, The fruition of it, God himself, that ſhall be all in all to thee! And, as you ſee a drop of water mixed with a hogshead of wine, it taints the taste; ſo all our infirmities being flowing in the ocean sea of God's glory, ſhall be ſwallowed up!

Thirdly, And last of all, There is an unspeakable peace and joy for evermore! No more ſin there; no more or trouble there; no more tears there; but contemplation and joy for evermore! and thou occupied in beholding God eternally, and running to the fountain of the love of that blessed God, and wondering thereat eternally!

Now, ye ſee the first benefit ye ſhall get by believing: 1ſt, A freedom from endless perdition. 2dly, The fruition of eternal life. The end wherefore I have ſpoken if these two, are,

Firſt, That ye may ſee the necessity of believing; and that ye that will not believe, may quit you of eternal life, and make you for that endless pain.

Secondly, To ſet before you ſo highly ye ſhould count of the Son of God; that when there was nothing that could redeem thee from hell, and conquer heaven to thee, but only his blood, and that thou mayeſt be acquitted what thou ſhouldest count of the love of God to thee, that ſent his only begotten Son to die for thee. Now, I will apply, and ſo I will end.

Why ſhould yon think that word or work, ordinary or extraordinary, were needful for delivering you from perishing, and giving you everlasting life? For, if less things could have done the turn, it would have been done? I know the Lord is merciful, and loth to destroy his own buildings, and to pluck up the plants which he has planted; ſo, if the word could have done it, the work had not been done? These things that are fallen out, are not only warnings to others, but they are warnings to make you believe. Therefore think not that they are greater ſinners than ye; for except ye repent, ye ſhall periſh also with the like judgment.

I have not now time to commit to you how many things I designed. Since I came here, God has added to his word for our walking. It is not long ſince there was not an house among you, but there was ſome of you bed-ſick; and ſome of you had rather laid down your life, than have conveyed them to the grave. Now, the more this be told, yet it is not the less. What need was ye in, when ye would be content to have wanted your whole ſtock for half-a-year's provision? I leave this to your own consciences. Likewise, how the Lord has guarded you round about, and gave command to the pest, that it ſhould not come near to your port, when he ſcattered it over other congregations; and made men and women cry, I have no more but one hundred merks, take it all, and give me leave to take but one handful of water. The ſkallet-trenchers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, they may bare you witness. I wot well ye had as great ſins of incessant whoredoms as they had. What other extraordinary things fell out, I have not will to tell you; but if I would ſhew you it, ye would ſay, He will ſpare one, and ſhew ſeverity to another; and if there were no more but that mad woman, ſhe might be a preacher to us all: May not God ſoon bereave us of our wits, and make us as beasts, as he did Nebuchadnezzar? And these two works that have fallen out this week, one in the night, and another in the noon-tide of the day, he will have all these to cry to you, that ye ſhould cry to the Lord, and ſay, Lord keep me and my children, that we get not a doleful wakening! Thou mayeſt rise in the morning, but who can tell with how holeful a heart thou mayest lie down in the evening, that ye may know what need ye have of a protection.

I cannot tell what these thick-ſpurring warnings mean; I wot well God has a warning for you in this congregation and town, as well as your nearest neighbours. So I ſee the Lord will have us either renewed to God, by true repentance, in time, or else he will do all wrong with us.—Now, I beseech you, wit well that you reconcile you and your children to God, ere you lie down; and let them not ſtep out of the door in the morning, till ye have commended you and them to God.

Now, to him that is able to protect you, in ſoul and body, Father, Son, and Holy Ghoſt, be praise, honour, and glory, for evermore. Amen.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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