January 4, 2009

George Swinnock (1627–1673) on What Will Aggravate the Misery of the Damned

5. It will greatly add to their torment and anguish to consider, that they were sometime near the enjoyment of this blissful presence of Christ. Pardon, and Peace, and Love, and Life, and the endless fruition of the blessed Jesus were tendered to them, were nigh them, were at the very door of their hearts. They were solemnly commanded, lovingly invited, severely threatened, sweetly allured, and pathetically persuaded to accept of Christ and Grace; yea, and Heaven, and Happiness, and eternal Life; yea, and their hearts began to relent, and to close with the entreaties of the Gospel; They were almost persuaded to be Christians indeed. There was but a little, a very little between them and Christ. The bargain was driven so far, that Christ was got into their consciences, they bore witness for him, and warned them, if they loved their Lives, their Souls, to accept of him while he would accept of them; yea, Christ was got into their Judgments, they gave their Verdict on his side, as one infinitely more amiable and eligible than the World or Flesh; nay, he had possibly got into their Affections, they delighted to hear of his great Love to poor Sinners, and of the great things he purchased for them by his own blood; and yet though they were so near, they came short, and like Ephraim, played the part of unwise Sons, and stayed in the place of the breaking forth of Children.

O how like a Dagger will it pierce the heart of them that live under the Gospel, and neglect the great Salvation offered to them; when they come to be banished [from] the presence of Christ, and to see others, who made Religion their business on Earth, bathing their Souls in Rivers of Pleasures, drawing water with joy out of the Well of Salvation, eating of the Tree of Life that groweth in the midst of Paradise, and housed in the Arms of their dearest Saviour, and shall reflect and consider with themselves, all those Joys and Pleasures, all those Dainties and Delicacies, all those Robes, and Riches, and Glories, and Felicities, which they enjoy in the presence of Christ, might have been mine; they were freely, and frequently, and affectionately offered to me, I had the refusal of them; nay, I had a good mind to them, I was not far from the Kingdom of Heaven. There was but a little between me and them, they were at the very door of my heart, and stood knocking there for admission, and desired only hearty acceptance; but like a Fool I dallied with them, and deterred them, as if hereafter had been time enough, and so have lost them forever.

6. It will much augment their anguish and misery to consider, who it is that passeth so severe a doom upon them. This dreadful Sentence is pronounced by Love, and Grace, and Goodness itself. He that sometimes called them to him so sweetly, so affectionately, now calls them from him so sharply, so furiously. He who sometimes cried to them, Come to me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden; and wept over them, O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things of they peace. He that formerly invited, entreated, besought them to be reconciled, 2 Cor. 5:20. and showed them his heart-blood, the price of their Pardon and Life, and stretched out his Arms to embrace their returning Souls, will now in wrath, and rage, and flames, and fury, bid them be gone from him, and his Curse go along with them. And if Love prove their Enemy, surely Wrath will not be their Friend. And if Mercy be thus against them, surely Justice will not be for them. Ah how sorely will it gall the Sinner to consider, This dreadful doom is denounced against me not by an Enemy, or one that hated me, but by a Friend and Father, by one that loved me, and took my nature on him, and suffered therein the Law's Curse, to render me capable of escaping these Torments which I now suffer, and partaking of those Pleasures which yonder blessed Souls enjoy.
George Swinnock, The Sinners Last Sentence to Eternal Punishment for Sins of Omission (London: Printed for Geo. Swinnock, and are to be sold at the Bible and Three Crowns, at the lower end of Cheapside, 1675), 48–51.


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