Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
~ Acts 1:18
The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
~ Psalm 36:1
O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
~ Jeremiah 4:14
Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
~ Psalm 6:10
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
~ Romans 2:4, Hebrews 10:26
Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
~ Amos 5:6
He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
~ Psalm 78:27-31
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
~ Hebrews 10:28
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
~ 2 Timothy 2:25, Hebrews 4:12
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:3
Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
~ Proverbs 28:18, Deuteronomy 32:35
A Man May Eternally Undo Himself In One Thought Of His Heart, by Jonathan Edwards. June 1736.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
~ Acts 8:20-22
Those are the words of the Apostle Peter to Simon the Sorcerer, who being a person of an exceeding haughty and ambitious spirit had before Philip and the Apostles came, they’re given out that he was some great one, and pretended to be the great power of God. And had bewitched the people with sorcery so that they almost worshipped him as a God among them. But when the people were converted to Christianity by the preaching of Philip and the Apostles, he observed that through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands, that the Holy Ghost was given an extraordinary and miraculous gifts of it. He seems to have thought that if he could but be possessed of the same power, that on whomsoever He laid his hands, they might receive the Holy Ghost, that then he should be under advantages still to maintain the same ascendant over the people that he had hitherto held, and still be accounted some great one amongst him as he used to be. And therefore offered the Apostles money in verses 18 and 19. “And when Simon saw that through laying on the Apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money. Saying, Give me also this power that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost” — upon which Peter says to him is in the text, “Thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou has neither part nor lot in this matter, for the heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps a thought of fine heart may be forgiven thee”, Acts 8:20-22. In which may be observed —
1. Of what kind is the crime that Simon here is blamed for, namely, a wicked thought of his heart.
There are three kinds of actual sin namely: sins of thought, and sins of word, and sins of deed. Simon’s sin — it is here had spoken, was of the former sort. It was a sin of thought.
2. The particular wicked thought that he was guilty of, namely, that he thought that the gift of God might be purchased with money. So dishonourable and vile a thought did he entertain of God, that he imagined he could have purchased the Holy Ghost, one of the persons of the Blessed Trinity, to have Him at his disposal to give to whom he would for his money.
3. What this sin was, this an evidence of, namely, that he was in a natural condition, that was neither part nor lot in this manner, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
4. What descended imminently exposed him to, namely to eternal perdition is, it is implied in these words of the Apostle by money perish with thee, i.e., he keep thy money to thyself, and as thou art in danger of perishing, your money shall remain with you, and perish with you. Before we will take any money from you on any such account.
5. We may observe how the Apostle exhorts him to seek for forgiveness. Repent of this, thy wickedness, and pray God.
6. And lastly — the uncertainty of his obtaining it, if he should so do. If, perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee, which implies that though there was a possibility of it, yet there was a great uncertainty. He appeared by the sin that he had been guilty of to be in imminent danger of perish and eternally. He had that guilt on himself that it was very uncertain whether ever it would be removed.
Doctrine. A man may be eternally undone in one thought of his heart. This point may be cleared by the consideration of the following things —
1. Any one active sin by the law exposes to eternal perdition, though it should proceed no further than the thought of the heart. It is said in Ezekiel 18:20, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. We are told in Romans 6:23, that the wages of sin is death. By death, it is meant the death of the whole man and not only the death of the body. It is a total destruction of the sinner that is intended, and that the Apostle means eternal death is evident from the antithesis in the words, or the opposing Of This Death to the life which we are told in the next words is the gift of God — which the Apostle says, is eternal life. And when it is said that ’tis its wages, the meaning of it is that it is that recompense that deserves and the recompense that is appointed and stated. It is not only attended that it is a wages of what wicked life or sinful course but if any one thing that is a sin, or a breaking of the Divine Law, as is evidenced by those texts in Genesis 2:14, and the day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die. It is not a course of sin, but an act of sin that is here spoken of. And the same words are applicable to any other act of sin. The law threatens the death to them that break the law, but the Apostle tells us and James 2:10, that he that offends in one point is guilty of all. And the curses denounced against them that do anything below fulfilling the law. Galatians 3:10, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things found written in the book of the law to do them. And not only great acts of rebellion are called sin and reputed breaches of God’s law in Scripture, but evil thoughts. Proverbs 24:9, the thought of foolishness is sin. Any one wicked exercise of the heart is in the sight of God, a breach of His laws. And the Fifth (Chapter) of Matthew, 28th verse, Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And so in the 22nd verse of the same chapter, whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.
2. God sometimes punishes sin by forever leaving men in sin. God sometimes leaves men to commit more sin as a punishment of the sins they have already committed. When he doesn’t leave them forever in sin — so it seems to have been with David when he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, it was a just and righteous thing with God to leave them to commit murder as they did soon after. And when he was left, so to do, he had caused to reflect on himself and consider how justly he had been provoked to leave him as he did to it. But yet he was not finally left in sin. But God does sometimes leave men in sin as a punishment of the sin they have been guilty of. He forever withholds from them that influence of His Holy Spirit that is necessary in order to their being brought out of a sinful state. So it was with Ephraim of old, Hosea 4:17, Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. This is a punishment that the sin deserves for men by sinning against God, who deserve that God should withdraw from them. Men of sinning act in part of enemies to God, and by so doing they, therefore deserve that God should act a part of an enemy to them. And therefore they deserve that he should leave them or depart from them. Enemies are not disposed to dwell together, Amos 3:3, Can two walk together except they be agreed. If sinners therefore, won’t agree with God, but will do the part of enemies to him, they deserve that God should refuse to be with them, and that he should forever and (be) apart from them. But here and they will be left forever in sin. This punishment is included in a threatenings of the law for that threatens death. Of being left of God in sin is only a being left in spiritual death. God sometimes punishes a wickedness that man has been guilty of by forever withholding from them converting and saving grace. He leaves him forever and blindness of mind, Isaiah 6:9-10, And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. There into degree punishment of their sin that is here spoken of consist that God had determined that God would forever withhold converting grace from them, whereby their souls might be healed. There are different degrees in which God may leave persons that he punishes by forever withholding his converting grace from them. Some, He in his sovereignty, continues under means of grace, or under some strive into the Spirit, so as to put them upon seeking conversion. And yet he punishes their sins by forever denying them success to those persons into their seeking. Thus, Peter supposes that it might be with Simon the Sorcerer that he might pray God for forgiveness, and yet that God might in anger for his wickedness refuse ever to forgive him. That was but a perhaps in the case that was uncertain whether he would or not. So it seems to be supposed in Hebrews 12:16 to 17. The son may seek repentance and pardoned carefully and with tears and yet God may forever withhold it from them and wrath, for they’re selling the heavenly inheritance as it were for a morsel or meat, or a short gratification of some lust, which may be done either in thought or in act. Sometimes God utterly leaves them in security and never gives them any more strivings of His Spirit. He gives them up to go on in ways of allowed wickedness. This seems to be what is intended in Psalm 81:11 and 12, But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Some are given up and abandoned to gross wickedness, to dishonour themselves exceedingly so as to become infamous. So it was with them and Romans 1:24, Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: And the 26 verse, For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections. And sometimes God even takes away the means of grace and leaves persons to renounce even the very profession of religion and leaves them to this forever. So it was with the Jews that we read up in the 44th of Jeremiah, verses 25 and 26. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth. There seems to have been different degrees of God’s forsaken and given up the Jews as a people that lived in and after Christ’s time. There were so left even while Christ lived among them, and continued to preach and work miracles among them, that this punishment was denounced against the body of the people that God would forever withhold converting grace from them, as appears by Matthew 13:13, 14 and 15. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But yet they seem to be left and given up in a yet a further degree when Christ was put to death, as appeared by what Christ said when he was going up to Jerusalem to be crucified there, Luke 19:41 and 42. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. But yet the Apostle preached to them and use many means with that nation after this. And that nation seemed to be given up in a yet further degree at the time of their destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans, when there was heard a voice in the Holy of Holies as a history of that affair relate saying, Let us go home. Then the presence of God did most remarkably go from them, and they were totally cast off from all of this ability of being a people of God.
3. God exercises of sovereignty with respect to the number and degree of sense by which he will be provoked, thus to deal with persons. It is true that the greatest sinners do most expose themselves to be eternally left of God. They that contract the greatest skill that sin the most aggravatedly do, bring themselves into the most imminent danger of having God swear in his wrath that they shall never enter into this rest. Yet, it is not always they that have committed them all sins are those that have committed the greatest and most aggravating sins that are given up to sin. And some God bears with much greater sins and in others, and doesn’t finally leave them. And some, God is pleased to wait a great deal longer upon than others before he ever last, and leave or forsakes them. God is sovereign in this manner and will act as such some he gives up to sin and youth, and others he waits upon till old age and converts them at last. Some exceeding grace enters and heinously wicked men are brought to repentance while others that committed it may be not half or a quarter of their sins do parry forever, and are eternally cast off of God. Some of the Jews were converted that imbue their hands in Christ’s blood, that with their own hands, maliciously murdered him. But the bulk of that nation were eternally given up of God, that greater part of which had no immediate hand in such a horrible feat. And we have no reason to think that ever made them near so guilty as they had done. There were many that were forever left and unbelief among the Jews without doubt, they never had made themselves so guilty as the Apostle Paul. And yet he was not only converted, but most miraculously converted and made one of the most eminent saints that ever was. And had the greatest honour put upon him by God, was the only saint that was admitted into the third heavens, while he yet continued in a mortal state, and seems to have been the very greatest instrument of good to the world that ever was of any mere man. And yet, by his own account, he seems to have exceeded most in a zeal against the true religion, and in persecution and cruelty towards the professors of it. Galatians 1:13 and 14, For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. And he seems to be spoken of and he acts as one of the greatest of persecutors. We have an account of sins that David committed that were upon many accounts that leaves much greater than those sins that Saul was guilty of that are mentioned, as what provoked God finally to leave him such as his sparing Agag, and the best of the sheep and oxen, in his offering a burnt offering.
God’s sovereignty determines a measure of the day of his patience, he will wait on some, but a very little while and on others, he is pleased to wait long. With some persons God will deal in severity and with others, he will exercise great good on and exceed in long suffering and forbearance. Romans 11:22, Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. Every sin as we have observed already deserves a penalty of the law, which is death and the curse of God in this life and that which is to come. Therefore, every particular sin and even every sin of thought deserves this curse, namely, of being eternally left of God to continue in sin and the perish at last. If it were told, that there were any man that never committed but one sin, God is not bound to such a man not to inflict as punishment for, namely, eternally to leave him without repentance and pardon. God has reserved the sovereignty to himself in this matter, he remains arbitrary and will act as such he is not bound by one absolute promise to anyone sinner whether he has committed fewer sins or more sins: either to bestow any mercy on him or not to inflict any rods of punishment on him. The fallen angels were eternally forsaken of God, as soon as it committed one sin. As though God offers mercy to fallen man and commonly bears with a multitude of sins in them, before he finally cast them off. Yet with respect to the manner, he is arbitrary, and does according to His good pleasure.
4. When God is provoked by a man’s sins, finally leave him and give him up to perdition, there’s ever more someone said that puts it into God’s patience…the sinner as he goes on and of course of sinning against him, and at last is provoked eternally to forsake Him, there is someone’s sin, there is the last sin that God will bear with before it comes to this. God will bear with sinners to such a certain limited degree in sinning and no longer. God has determined the bounds, Genesis 6:3, And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. And therefore, when God finally departs from a man to leave him to himself, there is a certain limit that this judgment commences from when a sin comes to such a pass as there, therefore must be a last sin, and that does a finishing stroke, towards bringing his guilt up to those bounds. There is a certain sin that is a sin that ends God’s patience or that puts a man beyond the bounds and limits of God’s forbearance towards him. And therefore a man may be said to have eternally undone himself in that sin, that sin is a sin that does as a word dispatch him, it gives his soul the finishing stab. And sometimes after this, God does immediately send some mortal sickness or accident to take the man out of the world that he may speedily be cast into Hell. And sometimes God suffers them to live longer as to fill up the measure of their sin. That wicked thought of heart that we read up in a text, in Simon the Sorcerer was probably the sin that gave the finishing stroke towards provoking God finally, to leave him and give him up. The Apostles intimated that there was a great danger of it, and it probably was solved for we never read of is being brought to any good and by the accounts that ecclesiastical history gives of him, he was after this a most notorious ringleader in wickedness. That most of those vile heresies that infested the primitive church had their rise from him.
5. God is sovereign and determining what sin that shall be. He not only determines how long he will bear with sinners, or how many sins or what degree of guilt he will bear with before he leaves man, but he determines what the sin shall be. We can’t conclude that the sin that ends God’s patience, or that it is the last sin that God will bear with before he will give a person up to sin and destruction, is the greatest sin. It is probable that is commonly if not always some wilful sin, some sin that were in a spirit of contempt of God as appear, or some sin in which the Spirit of God is especially grieved. But it is not always the greatest sin, though it be true that the greater the sin the more does it expose to it and bring into danger of it. God is sovereign whether the sin should be a sin of the thought, or a sin of the behaviour as in Simon the Sorcerer, it was probably a sin of thought. Sins of thought only are in several respects lesser sins than others. The guilt is not so great as when besides the imagination of the heart, the wicked thought brings forth fruit of some overt act of wickedness. And sin remains only in the thought that it remains only as it were, in a state of its first conception, but when it proceeds to act, it is not only conceived, but brought forth James 1:15.
6. One particular act of sin may be that by which God may be especially provoked forever to leave persons to perish, either soon to take away their lives and to send them to Hell, or else to leave them and forever to withhold from them converting and pardoning grace. Not only in a particular act of sin be the last thing that God will bear with before he is provoked forever to leave a person, but it may be especially by that act of sin that he is provoked forever to leave them. This judgment may be brought on a person more especially as a punishment of that sin. Simon the Sorcerer had been an exceeding wicked man before this wicked thought of heart. He had committed great and high-handed wickedness, where he was a wizard. It is said that he had bewitched the people with sorceries and it seems he had been a false prophet. He pretended to speak and to do what he did is being sent of God and as acting under a divine influence, when God did not send him and he did nothing but dissemble and lie. And he wickedly pretended to be the great power of God is in the tenth verse of the context. He did in a sort setup himself to be a god or to be a divine person dowed with divine attributes, particularly attributes of God’s power. How violent blasphemous was he, herein. But yet it was not with a special regard to those sins, that he seems to have been eternally given up and forsaken of God. But it was principally with regard to that wicked thought of his heart that the gift of God should be purchased with money. And therefore the Apostles who knew his case, to especially intimate danger from the sin, and do especially direct him to pray to God if perhaps a thought of his heart might be forgiven him. And so Saul had been a wicked man all his days, but yet it was with a special respect of that sin of his sparing the best of the sheep and oxen, that God seems finally to have left him in 1 Samuel 15:16 to 19. Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? And soon after this, we read that God took away his spirit from all in an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him 1 Samuel 16:14. And so he continued till the day of his death.
7. That sin by which God is especially provoked to leave a person eternally to perish may be only a thought of the heart. We can’t conclude that it is always a greatest sin for God exercises His sovereignty as to this matter, also. Though he exercises his wisdom and ’tis probable there is commonly something particularly aggravating in circumstances, some act or word or wicked thought that considering all things and all God’s foregoing dealings, their present advantages and obligations is that which especially tends to provoke God to cast them off forever. But we can determine what sin it will be. Persons may eternally undo themselves by sins that they look upon as small. Simon the Sorcerer seems not to have thought at any great evil in his thought, when he proposed it to the Apostles and offered them money, but was very bold and open in it. He did not seem to expect any such rebuke as he met with. It was a sin attended with peculiar aggravations, but yet he had probably committed many other sins more against the dictates of his own conscience. But this in all probability was that which in in a special manner was a sin that eternally undid him.
1. The first use may be made of instruction. From this doctrine, we may learn how exceeding great the punishment of a godly men is like to be, if one wicked thought of the heart be sufficient to merit that God should be so provoked with him that is guilty of it, is forever to leave him to himself, and either immediately to cut himself off and cast him into Hell, or to leave him in sin and give him up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind, and follow him with his curse as long as he lives, and to cast him at last and to Hellfire, and therefore to deprive him of all good and make him perfectly miserable, and that to all eternity without any help or possibility of deliverance. And all this may actually be brought on a person for someone’s active sins, and that is sin only in the thought of the heart, then to what misery are they exposed, that have lived considerable time in the world? And have never done anything else, but sin all the days of their lives?
For how vast is a number of the sins of such? How many thousands and thousands of sins have they been guilty of any one of which singularly are sufficient to bring that everlasting destruction upon them? If one wicked thought deserves an exposes to so much, how much do all those deserve and exposed to? And how dreadful will their case be, if they never get an interest in Christ while they live and still go to Hell at last? How dreadful will it appear that their punishment will be when we consider this, that God will execute upon them the full punishment that all their sins deserve? For where we are taught that God will exact these sinners, the whole of the debt that they owe to divine justice, Matthew 18:34. And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him, and that God won’t release them of one farthing. Matthew five verse 26, Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. And it must needs to be told. For if God did not exact the whole of the dead, then you forgive some of it. And if unbelievers have any part of the debt forgiven them, then there is forgiveness out of Christ. Hence, how many thousands and ten thousands of deaths and destructions will the wicked man as it were endure, that is spent a life in sin in this world. Man’s sins will be punished according to their heinousness appears by that in Matthew 5:22, But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. The judgment and the council were different tribunals among the Jews that had power to inflict death or capital punishments of different degrees. The one who had power of inflicting a more dreadful death and the other, the judgment had power to inflict death by the sword. That council had power to inflict death by crucifixion. But the punishment of Hellfire in which Christ alludes to the burning of children to Molech in the valley, was the most dreadful death of all that persons were wanting to be put to among the Jews, so that by those three are signified different degrees of punishment in Hell according to the heinousness of man’s sins. And that men’s sins will be punished according to their aggravations as evidenced by that and Luke 12:47 and 48, That servant who knew his Lord’s will and prepare not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes, but he that knew not and did commit things worthy of stripe shall be beaten with few stripes, and that men will be punished according to the multitude and repetition of their sins that appears by Matthew 12:36 and 37, But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. If men must account for every idle word, then they must pay for every idle word, that is, they must suffer the punishment of every idle word. And therefore if one sin brings death or eternal destruction, who will bring what is equivalent to see such death in eternal destruction twice as bad, and a thousand will bring that which is equivalent to thousand such destructions. So Hosea 7:2, And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face. God remembers them all, because He will punish them all. And God will make them hereafter all, to beset them about, and lay hold on them as so many vipers are lions roaring on their prey. So Hosea 8:13, he will remember their iniquity and visit their sins. And so, Ezekiel 7:3, I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. So Leviticus 26:18, And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And verse 21, and for your walk contrary to me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. So verses 24 and 28, And because the punishment and wrath of wicked men shall endure shall be according to the number of their sins. Therefore wicked men, while they are going on in sins, are said to be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:5.
Let those that are yet in an unconverted state and condition consider these things. Consider seriously how dreadful your punishment must and will be if you don’t get an interest in Christ. You cannot answer for one of thousand of your sins, nor can you bear the punishment of one of a thousand. The punishment of one wicked thought will be too much for you, it will sink you and crush you. You can’t bear up under it, nor in any wise grapple with it. One act of sin, though only in the thought, if unrepented of will blow up a flame of wrath that will be enough to fill you all over you full of fire, so that your bowels your head and your heart and lungs, your tongue, bones and nerves and sinews, veins and arteries will be all full of Hellfire, and this to all eternity. What then do you think to do with all the punishment of all your great and aggravated sins? Your sins against so much light in such warnings? Your sins against the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ when they all encompass you about, and come upon you together? How does a man that is under strong bodily pain by any disease or wound by broken bone or some such thing when he has already as much pain as he can well grapple with, how does he dread to have it increased? How does the least addition to it by touching the tender place or stirring the wounded limb make him ready to roar out because he had as much pain before as he could endure. How then will you do in Hell when the punishment of one sin alone will be so much more than you can bear, as to be enough utterly to destroy you? How then will you do when you won’t only have a little added to that, but we’ll have it multiplied ten thousand times?
Now you make light of sin, but then you won’t make light of it. You will then find the lease in to be a mountain and that it lies on your soul like the weight of a mountain. And you will be then willing, if it were possible to give ten thousand worlds to have so much as a punishment of one sin taken off, though you will have the punishment of so many thousands to endure. How does a wicked rich man plead for one drop of water to cool his tongue? How little good would that do him to have the pain of his tongue a little cooled, when he was all over in every part within and without full of the tormenting flame? But this shows how the damned will wish for the least abatement of their torment. You never yet felt Hell torments if he had you would not hear of it and think of it as an expose yourself to it with such quietness. If you had only felt the punishment due to one sinful thought for one half hour, would give you other ideas about Hell, and what you now have. You would not be able to keep from reflecting on the number of your sins. As though now you don’t much mind adding to the score of additional sins yet, then you would counted a great privilege to have your sins one less than they be. The damned in Hell would be ready to give worlds if they could have the number of their sins to have been by one less. To have one idle word or sinful thought forgotten and blotted out, and to be released from the punishment of it. Now it may be you may be ready to think that if you’re a cast into Hell, where you must endure the punishment of so many thousand sins that the addition of a few sins will make no great addition. They weren’t worth regarded among such a multitude. But then you will be of another mind. When not a man that is of a tormenting and a fire, dread to have this torment increased? With when he was already more than he could endure, would he by any means have it in the least increased? Would he not rather begged to have it a little abated? Let these things be seriously considered by those that are out of Christ and stir them up to improve their time while they’re yet out of Hell to fly from the wrath that comment to obtain the pardoned up all their sin through Christ, through whom they may be released from the whole dead and have eternal life.
2. If it be so that a man may eternally undo himself with one thought of his heart, to what degree do they expose themselves to destruction that do allow illegal on in a wicked course of life? If a man exposes himself to be eternally undone by one single act of wickedness, and even one wicked thought of hard how they expose themselves that are continually day after day, allowing themselves and continuous and repeated acts of wickedness that makes in their trade, though are taught from their childhood, what the commandments of God be, and come to meeting Sabbath after Sabbath, and hear what God requires of them and yet, in the continued course of their lives go headlong against it. They’re solemnly warned in the name of God against these and those sins and yet do them without restraint. If there would be danger of being eternally ruined if they were guilty about one of these acts with dangers thereby such a course, in which acts of wickedness are so multiplied and heaped up with such obstinacy and contempt with God’s commands and threatenings. They cast off fear and restrain prayer before God and go on in ways that they have light enough to know to be evil. If a man in one side of his heart may provoke God who swears in his wrath they shall not enter into his rest, Psalm 95:11, and to leave them forever, and is it were to resolve never to give them repentance. And even to give them up to hardness of heart and their own hearts’ lust, that they may live only to fill up the measure of their sins, what danger is there that God will be provoked forever to leave them in sin, and hereafter, either to leave to perpetual stupidity, or to deny them place for repentance so they should seek it carefully with tears? How to such persons even dally with a sword of God’s wrath? What adventure do they run? They not only stand but dance upon the very edge of the pit of Hell. Or are as it were running and leaping over the bottomless pit upon nothing but a thin rotten shell where they are every moment in danger of dropping through. Such persons do as at were to venture to pitch battle with God, and dare him to do his worst. They run on God in clad in his dreadful armour Job 15:26, He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers. Such persons as these are everyday drinking down that deadly poison the least drop up which is enough to kill them.
But here some may make an objection against an allowed wicked course of life be if that which so exceedingly exposes persons to eternal ruin. There’s so many such have lately been converted tis no uncommon thing for wicked men to harden themselves from the mercy of God. They abuse the riches of God’s goodness and forbearance not knowing that the goodness of God leads them to repentance and so after their hardness and impenitent hard treasure up wrath against a day of wrath. And so it is likely that some natural persons may forbear themselves with a wonderful exercises and effects of divine mercy, that have lately been amongst us and may be ready to agree with in themselves that living in a wicked course of life doesn’t to such an exceeding degree exposed to eternal ruin, because there are so many amongst us that formerly lived carelessly and went on very ill courses and amongst great light and great warnings with abundant obstinacy. They did not regard anything that was said to them. They were not good examples to others and corrupted the town. And yet they are thought to be converted. Many young people that have been of licentious lives he most of them that were so, are now looked upon to be converted. And many of it lived in sin till they were old spent a long life in sin, and yet are now become good folk. And hence they may be ready to think that there is no great danger in a wicked course of life but they may do so too, and be as likely to be converted to save. Those that make this objection consider the following —
1. In the time of the late pouring out of the Spirit this was not the improvement the persons made of the conversion of great sinners to harden themselves more in sin because such multitudes were converted, and because great sinners were converted. They did not think within themselves, ‘will I go on and allow myself and wait us and because others that have done so are so many of them converted’, that it had a contrary effect then. They were the more accustomed by it to hear of the conversion of such, that rouse them, and made them more sensible of the misery of their condition. Then their mean condition looked a more dreadful to them for it. Though they should be left behind when others of all sorts and great sinners among the rest were flocking in. It made them more sensible of their own danger and not less. The hearing of the news of the conversion of such-and-such, they commonly struck persons into the heart. It struck them down and sorrow from consideration of their own misery. And a hearing of the conversion of such as has been the loosest persons seem to have this effect most, and how comes it to pass has so much of a contrary effect in your mind now then now, yet you are hardened by it and think you’re danger-less for it. The consideration of it instead of awakening you, makes you more careless.
2. There is no just arguing against the exceeding dangerousness of a wicked course of life from what God does in an extraordinary time. We have already affirmed in a doctrinal part that God is sovereign in this manner, and that although he may cast a person off forever for one thought of his heart, that yet he may and sometimes does forgive those that have been great sinners amongst us, for the great parts of their lives. So God may in a special and extraordinary day of its grace and mercy, forgive great multitudes of such to show the infiniteness His grace and mercy. But ’tis unreasonable argument from this, that therefore in allowed courts of wickedness doesn’t greatly expose to it being eternally cast off of God. What God has of late wrought amongst us is a very extraordinary work of his in which he has very much gone out of his usual way. The time was extraordinarily such as is scarcely one in many ages to be heard of. And it is exceedingly unreasonable for sinners to argue that there is no extreme danger in a wicked course from what has been wrought once in New England, and a dispensation that never before had any to parallel, and which is rarely paralleled in history. But it is abundantly manifest and in the way of God’s ordinary providence a far greater part of wicked men perish, especially of them that have long gone on and allowed ways of wickedness against light and much warning but very few are saved. And it is probable, there are thousands and ten thousands of them that are finally left of God. And so there has been such an extraordinary time amongst us, we don’t know that ever there will be another such a time.
3. The danger of them they go on and a lot of ways of wickedness amongst us is upon many accounts much greater than if there never had been such an extraordinary time of the pouring out of God’s Spirit. If you go on and sin after God has so extraordinary appeared amongst us your sins will be abundantly the more aggravated than the judgment of God Matthew 11:23, And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to Hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. As such persons if they are passed over in persons do not withstanding continue in allowed sinning, or do return to it are ever followed with a more dreadful hardness and obdurateness of heart. And a more extraordinary and the more precious the opportunities and advantages men have had the worse is the case, and a more exceeding dangerous if they continue in allowed wickedness of life. So if you’re one that has been now going on in sins, you had not need to harden yourself in your carelessness and wickedness by the great and extraordinary things that have happened. For it looks vastly the more awfully upon you on that account. This is mentioned as one great reason why God’s warned in his wrath that the children of Israel should never enter into his rest, because they had seen such wonderful and glorious works of God for Israel, and yet continued in sin. As Numbers 14:21-23, But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it. The sin that Simon the Sorcerer was guilty of that is spoken of in a text that probably was never forgiven but provoke God eternally to cast him away was committed at a time when God had been wonderfully working in the town that he belonged to by the pouring out of his spirit, which was one great aggravation of the sin that rendered it fatal to a soul.
3. Hence we may learn how wonderful and infinitely great God’s mercy has been to them who have all their sins forgiven them, let those that have been the subjects of such mercy amongst us, and God has looked upon with the gracious eye and called them to the city of refuge, consider what exceeding mercy they have been the subjects of. For if it be told that a person may undo himself eternally by one thought of the heart, then how often you have done that that has been sufficient eternally to undo you? How many thousand, yea ten thousands of times have you gone on as sin and times past, and added one sin to another and multiplied your transgressions as if he had a mind to make sure of being effectually undone. The God of a sovereign and distinguishing grace and mercy has delivered you from that ruin you deserve and exposed yourselves to. He has quite delivered you and set you in a state of perfect safety from it. He is quite covered all your sins not only your wicked thoughts of heart but your wicked words, and all your wicked actions and wicked practices with all their aggravations. They’re effectually blotted out. God has done with them. Christ’s blood has made an end of them and God has buried them in the depths of his mercy. And though you were still a sinful creature and do those things every day and then hundred times a day that deserve eternal undoing, yet God doesn’t behold iniquity nor see perversion in you, but kindly covers all with the white and glorious robes of the righteousness of your Redeemer. You’ve undone yourselves and undone yourselves as it were thousands of times, but God would not suffer you to be eternally undone, for he loved you with an everlasting love, and he would love you. Therefore, it is that you are not cast off forever, but on the contrary are saved with an everlasting salvation. He has washed you in Christ’s blood Romans 8:34-39 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And you were advanced through true grace to an eternal glorious inheritance. Thus, as God magnified his mercy towards you in such cause has he given you to love him and magnify his name. Your guilt has doubtless been much greater than that of many with whom God has been provoked by their sins forever depart from and leave them in sin. And in hardness and blindness and to dammed them at last, but yet thus God has dealt with him and thus differently has he dealt with you.
The second use maybe of conviction to convince those sinners that are seeking their salvation that they are entirely in the hands of God with respect to the eternal salvation of their souls. For you have now heard that one thought of the heart is sufficient eternally to undo you. How often you have done enough to provoke God to cast you off, and forever to deny you a saving grace for though you seek it never so carefully and with never so many tears. You have sinned yourself into the hands of justice many thousands of times. If you had been guilty of but one act of sin, though only in thought, you would be in the hands of justice. God may dispose of you as just as he pleased, and might justly forever deny you any mercy. How much more then have you forfeited all mercy by the multitude of your sins. This may convince you that how much so ever you need mercy and how earnestly so ever you desire it, and how painfully and diligently you have sought it, yet you are wholly in the hands of God. God is under no kind of tied to do anything for you. You have not and cannot lay him under any obligation.
The third and last use may be of warning —
1. In general with the greatest care and watchfulness to avoid all sin. If a man may undo himself eternally by one act of sin, then surely you I need to dread the commission of any sin. And you may well dread the commission of any one sin more than the greatest temporal evil that can possibly befall you because all sin is mortal—this all of an undoing nature. And if he commits that one sin it may be your eternal remedy-less undoing. Keep this in mind and think often what need you have to watch your thoughts and your words, and all your actions that they may not be displeasing to God, or contrary to his holy Commandments.
2. Let us be more particularly warned from hence to avoid all such access and as do more especially tend ever last and lead a rule on the soul. Let us be especially careful to avoid such things, to especially tend to provoke God has sworn his wrath that we shall never enter into his rest. Beware of committing known sins, for wilful acts ascending more than others expose a soul to remedy-less ruin. If you that have been careless and negligent of your duty and have allowed yourself to do that which you had light to know what sinful, consider that if you go on wilfully to commit one more act of known sin, and you may eternally undo your precious soul. And you don’t know if you do it whether ever God will give you grace to repent and so bestow pardoning mercy on you. You don’t know, but that God will by the next act of wilful sin be provoked forever to withhold the saving influence of a spirit from you, and thus you will be eternally undone. There will be real danger of it especially after this warning. Therefore, whatever we have known sin you have been want to go on in, I do now warn you from God, not to dare to go on to one act more. If you would not expose yourself to be forever ruined, I declared to you in the name of God, that it will be dreadful to venture that you will run if you do so.
2. Beware of deliberate acts of sin.
3. Beware of being guilty of known sins against great warnings. Proverbs 29:1, He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Beware of sinning against this great warning, and the Word. Take heed that you don’t do those things that you have abundant like you said, before you about. Have been abundantly instructed in the evil of and often greatly warned against. Beware of sinning against warnings of Providence. God won’t bear your going on thus always.
4. Be warned especially to beware of such acts of sins and which the Spirit of God is opposed and sinned against. One sin that is against the Spirit of God that is unpardonable is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. Other sins against the Holy Spirit, though they are not unpardonable, yet do especially expose a soul to everlasting ruin, because it is by the Spirit alone we can be converted or awakened or any way delivered from sin or helped against it. And if we sin against this Person that should deliver, no wonder if we are left without help and without remedy. And the wonder if the Spirit departs from us. And then we shall be given up to hardness and blindness, and must necessarily perish forever. Thus, the sin that Simon was guilty of the sin against the Spirit of God. It was his contentious thought of the Spirit of God where he thought the Holy Ghost might be purchased. He offered money that he might have that, he might have the Holy Ghost at his disposal. That on whomsoever he laid hands on he may receive the Holy Ghost. There are various ways in which the Holy Ghost has been sinned against, everyone of which especially exposed to being eternally left of God. Committing a known sin at the time when under strivings of the Spirit, quenching the spirit, backsliding into a way of allowed sinning after we have had convictions of the Spirit. Sinning against special convictions above that, in or soon after times of remarkable pouring out of the Spirit in a place where we live. Therefore, as he would not expose yourself to be eternally undone, beware of these ways of sinning. If you have the Spirit of God striving with you, beware. Beware of going on now after God thus, has been striving with you. Don’t dare to do those things that in the time of conviction you dare not do. That the Spirit of God has once given you convictions of the evil of.
Third and last warning is to beware of wicked thoughts. If a person may be eternally undone on one thought of his heart, then we have great reason hence to take warning to watch over our thoughts and not to allow any wicked thoughts. Don’t indulge any lust so much as in your thoughts. Take heed you don’t show yourself in any malicious or revengeful or envious thoughts. Don’t indulge a spirit of hatred against your neighbour and your thoughts, and don’t indulge the lust of uncleanness or lasciviousness and your thoughts and imaginations. Such wickedness of heart though only in thought is heinous on the side of God, and may eternally undo you. And let those that are under convictions take heed that they don’t allow any quarrelling or blasphemous or dishonourable thoughts of God. Some do too much allow such thoughts when they have them under a notion that there is no harm in them, but dreadful is their folly. Such thoughts however sometimes overruled for good, yet if allowed to do especially exposed to eternal ruin. Simon Magus have thought by which he was probably eternally undone, was a dishonourable blasphemous thought of God. This instance should make everyone dread such things, as they would dread the devil himself.