On the Lord's Day, after the Condemnation of the Criminals, the Ordinary Preacht on this Text. viz.
PSAL. xc. Vers. II. Who knows the power of thy Anger?
The Doctrinal Observation.
THO God's Anger be infinite in it self, and be the Declarations of his just displeasure against Sin and Sinners, yet it is no otherwise feareo, than as it works upon Mens Hearts, to amend the miscarriages of their Lives, and as it forms them to Reverential sincere Obedience to his sacred Laws.
In treating of this Observation, I shall shew these Particulars.
1. What is Anger properly in God.
2. In what respects God's Anger is declared in the Severity of it.
3. How Mens Presumption declares it self, in provoking God's Anger against themselves.
4. What is the difference 'twixt shavish Consternations at the penal effects of God's Anger, which vanish without any Impression of Reformation, and the genuine Fear of holy Persons.
5. From the whole Discourse, I shall set down some Rules and Motives to the Condemned, how they may not fall under the stroke of God's Severity.
First. What is Anger in God? It is not an Impotent Passion, as in Men, but an holy, well regulated Declaration of his Hatred against Sins in the just punishment of Sinners. This is without any disturbance of his Essential Blessedness, in the serene Injoyment of himself, and without any Injuriousness towards Men.
2ly. Tho God be infinitely arm'd with Power to destroy Sinners, yet he stirs not up his whole displeasure till Sinners despise the Riches of his Mercy and Goodness, design'd to lead them to Repentance and Amendment.
Men by hardning their Hearts in an obstinate Course of Sinning, fit themselves for eternal Destruction.
Thus final wilful Inpentiency lifts up its Head above all other Impieties, triumphing as it were over the Mercy and Goodness of God.
Such know not the Power of his Anger, who by an insensible Security plung their Souls in sensual Pleasures, till God's Justice suspend all Tenderness, and Triumph in their Destruction.
God's Anger in the Severity of it is declared in three Respects,
1. In wounding the Consciences of the most insolent audacious Sinners, when they most bless themselves in their Impieties, as presuming that they shall defeat the stroke of Vindictive Justice.
2. In Punishing Sin with Sin, with Blindness of Mind, Hardness of Heart, desperate Obstupifaction in the Conscience.
This is not only an assuring Pledge of Eternal Torments, but the saddest Anticipation of them, as Sealing up inpenitent Sinners to the day of Wrath.
3. By punishing Sinners beyond the Grave, in subjecting them under an infinite and eternal weight of Wrath, ever coming and abiding, as the Curse on all incorrigible Sinners: The Hell of Hell being the perfect Consummation of their Wickedness.
Yet these dreadful effects of Divine Anger, tho infinite in it self, and eternal in those Punishments which it inflicts, makes little or no Impression on Mens Minds, Hearts, and Conversations, to awaken them to Repentance and Reformation.
How Mens Presumption declares it self, in provoking Gods Anger against themselves.
O consider the Power of God's Anger in time, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.
The stoutest Sinners have neither power nor fortitude of Mind to bear up under, much less to grapple with ahe wrathful Indignation of the Almighty.
What is this? It is not only God's Anger breaking forth into a flame of Wrath, but the utter loathing and Abhoring of the perverse Sinner, in the utter Rejection of him, so as to leave him justly to himself in filling up the measure of his Iniquities, till he be ripe for Destruction.
Is it any wonder, if the utmost severity of the Lord, take hold on such, who strengthen themselves in their Wickedness, yet are Impudent and Shameless, in sporting with those very Thunderbolts, which strike others dead, as Monuments of God's fiery Indignation? who is able to abide the day of the Lord's Wrath? Yet Presumptuous Sinners treasure it up, as If they were covetous to intaile Damnation on themselves. Let such consider, that Holy Persons dread the excellency of God's purity, when he comes to Search and Try the most innocent passages of their Lives; to refine them in their Conversations. Here argue thus: What Fearfulness will surprize all Hypocrites, to whom the just Lord arm'd with Fury, will not be a resining, but a consuming Fire, in the utmost Efforts of his vindictive Wrath to all eternity.
I shall to undeceive Hypocrites, state the difference 'twixt slavish Consternations, at the penal effects of God's Anger, which vanish without-any Impression of Reformation, and the genuine fear of holy Persons.
1. A true Penitent is troubled at the very remembrance of God's Holiness, as being vile in his own account, when he is most exact in his Obedience.
2ly. He grieves for the least Offence of God, even when he hath sealed his pardon, and is pacified towards him.
3ly. The true fear of God, is a settled Reverential Observance of him, which over rules a Saint. to a perfect hatred of the least Sin; it maintains an holy strict Discipline, in mortifying the inordinate Lustings of the Heart.
4ly. A real Penitent cannot enjoy himself with any Peace of Mind, unless he devote himself to serve the Lord in Reverential Love of him, for his Divine Excellency and Perfections: Thus the true fear of the Lord flows from Love, and is guarded by an holy humble Wariness, not to displease God by the least Remisness in any Circumstance of his Duty.
The Conclusion was thus directed to the Condemned:
You have heard how God Arms his Justice with Severity against Sin and Sinners.
Yet wilful Sinners, had thepd of Mercy depart from them, they denot the knowledge of his ways: These are alway grievous to them; they mock at his fear, and harden their Hearts against him: But are they strong enough to conflict with Omnipotency, to escape God's Vengeance is impossible, and to bear it is intolerable.
The Anger of Man may be appeased but when God's longsuffering is abused, by rurning theGrace intogious excesses in sinning whatGod's Wrath, or rescue the Sinner from that Destruction, which he hath wilfully brought upon himself.
Would you be fortified against the King of Terof God that he would unite your Hearts to tear his Holiness, rather than the penal effects of Sin: such a fear of God would quite disarm Death of its
It would turn it again't it self, making Death to be fallowed up in a victorious Triumph.
Repent that you have not seared to sin against God's Mercy and Goodness, which should have prevailed on you, to the Reformation of you Hearts and lives.
Thus you will not be over fond to have your Lives spared, but will encounter Death with an holy Courage.
Having apart in the first Resurrection, as dead to the love of sin and being quickned by the Spirit of Sanctification to heavenly Qualification; you shall under the sharpest Agonies of dying triumph over them, yea, you shall trample under your Feet all the Powers of Hell, as exalted to Thrones of Glory in Celeltial Blessedness, through all the Ages of Eternity.
I Preacht twice on the Lord's Day, yet Randal was very insensible of his barbarous Crime, and did not attend to the Sermons nor Prayers, with any Relenting.
On the Monday I visited him, and another Criminal Con- demn'd with him, both were far from any serious Behaviour in my Praying with them.
On Tuesday I visited them, another Minister assisting me, he endeavour'd to make Randal sensible of Murthering Mr. Levens, yet he utterly deny'd it, and affirm'd that he knew nothing of it.
On Wednesday in the Afternoon, I took him aside, and for a considerable time endeavour'd to perswade him, no longer Achietically to deny the Crime; but he stood out in the denial of it, whereupon I read to him, what was sworn against him at his Tryal, and that the Jury was fully convinced in their Conciences that the was guilty. Which they declared, when they gave their Verdict. He reply'd, That he did not matter that, being cicar in his own Conference. Then I told him, that he obstructed any Rationd Hopes of his Salvation, and that all Persons who read the Book of Tryals, whom I met with believ'd him to be guilty.
I pray'd, that God would work him to a free and full acknowledgment of his Crime, and grant him Repentance for it. Yet he deny'd it, and said, That he was resolved to to so at the time of his Death. I told him of a Person who Murther'd his Wife, and deny'd it several times at the place of Execution, wishing Damnation on himself, if he knew any thing of it. After I had pray'd thrice, that God would perswade him to declare the Truth; I told him, If I went out of the Cart any more, he would be presently Executed, and then he could not be Saved, dying in his Atheistical Impenitency. At last he call'd me back and said, I Murthered my Wife with a Pistol, and shot her in the Head; but let not the People know it, I said your self shall declare, that you Murthered her. Then he said, All you that behold me pray for me, that God would Pardon my great Provocation of hiin denying my Crime against my Conscience; for had Iwith a Lye in my Mouth, I had been damned. This Account some what startled Randal, and altred his Countenance; then I prayagain, that God would not leave him to dye in so barbarousa Crime. but to consess it, and to Repent of his former Obstinacy. After this he said not any word by way of reply: Then I told him, that he ought to consider of whatsoever I had said, and I hoped that he would confess the Crime before he dy'd. He said, that he had lived in much Sinning, but would not acknowledge any particular.
In Richardalias Skinney Dick, Aged 20 Years or thereabout is Condemned for picking the Pocket of Mr. John Knight, and taking from him a Watch, value Nine Pounds; he deny'd it, but Mr. Knight was very positive in his Evidence; and thefound him guilty. He had been an old Offender, and deny'd not that formerly he was guilty of such an Offence.
Tarrant liv'd with his Father in the Country, and kept him to Comb Wool But he was not Obedient to his Father, as he ought; so he left him some years since. And he led an idle Life, which he said laid him open to sinful Courses, such as Sabbath-breaking, omitting of Prayer, that he was guilty of Swearing, and wisht sometimes in his Passion Damnation to others. He relented that he had not served God; but now he prays that God would make him sensible of all his Sins, for said he Christ affirms, that for every idle Word, we must give an account in the day Judgment; and the least Sin will damn a Man without Repentance.
III. Anne Walters, Condemned for Picking the Pocket of one Richard Clark, taking from him two Guineas, and 20 Shillings in Mony numbred. Two Guineas and six Shillings were found in her Mouth, which Mr. Clark said was his Mony, whereupon the Jury brought her in guilty.
She did not utterly deny the Fact. She confest that her Life had been bad, as to Sabbath-breaking, and not regarding to pray that God would keep her from Sinning. She was known to have been an ill Liver, and could not call any body to her Reputation at her Tryal. She was little sensible of the state of her Soul, as to the future Judgment of God.
On Wednesday the 29January; Thomas Randal who killed Roger Levens the Quaker , was put into a Cart and conveyed by the Deceased's Door at White-Chappel, and from thence to the Place of his Execution at Stone-bridge by Kingsland, where he is to hang in Irons, on a Gibbet, till his Body be consumed. He did confess that he was at the Marshalsea with Lock and Green but denied that he never spoke any such Words, that he did kill the Quaker: he acknowledged that he did say to the Serjeant when he was Taken, that he was a Dead Man, and that he had been a very wicked Sinner, and had been Guilty of all manner of Sins in general; (except that of Murder) He owned a Burglary that he committed at Linton, near Saffron Walden in Essex; but would not confess any of his Accomplices. He said that Hunt and he had been in many Robberies. The Worthy Sheriffs did exhort him with Spiritual Council, that he should make an Ingenious Confession, and not to perfist in his Obstinacy, and Dye with a Lye in his Mouth, but to have regard to his precious soul; it wrought nothing upon him, his Heart being so hardened, he would not discover any thing of the Murder; nor any of the Persons that was with him at the time; but hoped that he had done his Work with God-Almighty. Then Mr, Ordinary pressed him, and told him that Confession was the first step to Repentance; and without that he could hardly make his Peace with God; but it did avail nothing with him, he still persisting in the same, till the Cart Drew away; He was turned off.
This is all the Account I can give of this Sessions.