That Eminent and Faithful Servant
of JESUS CHRIST, Mr.
JOHN WELCH, sometime
Minister of the Gospel in AIR.
THE Lord's Love and Care to us has declared it self many Ways, and especially in this Point, that this privy Conference with Nicodemus, spoken at this time for our Consolation, it hath pleased the Lord to put it up to Register, that it may be the Consolation of many; and suppose it was privy and in the Night, yet it has pleased the holy Ghost to bear record of it, that all the Believers to the end of the World may have their Consolation in it. Now in these Verses read is, First, the Fountain of our Salvation, the Love of God. 2dly, There is the Means whereby he has uttered it, which is, by the sending his Son to be humbled and glorified. 3dly, The Means to get Christ, that is, by Faith only. 4thly, 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 was he humbled and glorified; and for this Cause 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 the Believer gets 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 Benefits 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 sit 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 Bush of Hyssop that will sprinkle that Blood on thy Soul, Exodus 12.22. Faith in a Word will make thee to live in Peace at the last, and it will put thee in the peaceable Possession of that endless Glory. If ye get not the 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, it shall bring thee to the last. So Faith begins in this Life, but it makes 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 thy 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.
JOHN CHAP. III. VER. 16,17.For God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.
1st, In an Immunity and Freedom from Perdition. 2dly, In the 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 perish for evermore, and what it is to live for evermore; so if ye knew this, ye would esteem more of Christ, and of the Love of God than ever ye 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 a Life after this, there is a Hell and a Heaven, howsoever 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 an endless Pleasure, some in an 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 first 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.
1st. It is the Loss of the Presence of God, that the Saints and Angels have in Heaven, within the Gates of the new Jerusalem: Thou mayst not eat of that Tree of Life; thou mayst not drink of the Rivers of the Waters of Life; thou mayst 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.
2dly, Consider that no Excuse will be admitted 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 benefit when it is lost shall not bring meikle [much] 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 Yeat on the Misbeliever, on the Soul and Carcass for evermore, this is the first in the Perdition; therefore the Tribunal must be in the Air, for thou shalt never win in at the Yeat 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 rugged 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 a great Matter, but to be cast into Hell is greater; to want the Palace 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 is such, that there is no Patience to bear it; for it is so great and painful, that if thou hadst ten thousand Worlds, thou wouldst give them all for one Drop of cold Water to cool thy Tongue; a Fire that shall never be slackened [quenched], for it shall burn as long as God lives. Again, that Fire shall not consume the Carcass 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 Carcass, and there shall be the Wrath of God, and the Vials full of his Indignation, poured out continually upon thy Soul, that it shall never get 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 aggrege [aggravate] this Perdition; there is nothing there but a consuming Fire, no Company but Devils, no Light but a mirk [dark] 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 Ease, if any Part of the Soul or Body were free of Torment; but there shall never be a Part of thy Body free that shall not be filled with Torments, and never a Faculty of thy Soul but it shall have its own Torment; an Eye that thou wouldst not open to behold the Glory of God, it shall be compelled to look on that ugly Sight; thy Ear that thou wouldst 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.
3dly, There is an Eternity of Pain, and an Eternity of Loss; ye know, were the Traveler or Mariner never so wearied, yet the Hope of an End will bring him Consolation; but here there is no Hope of an End; therefore there can be no Consolation; but when thou knowest thy Pain is endless, and when thou remembrest the Eternity of Time, and they know, as long as God lives, their Pain shall last; this spoils them of all Consolation.
The next Point is, What it is to have eternal Life, and wherein it stands. It stands in three Things shortly. 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 was ravished and saw it, he said he saw Things unutterable. Always there are three Things in it; 1st, 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, the Temple of it God himself.
2dly, The Fruition of it, God himself, that shall be all in all to thee; and as ye see a Drop of Water mix'd 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.
3dly, and, last of all, There is an unspeakable Peace and Joy for evermore; no more Sin there; no more 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 Ends whereof I have spoken of these two, are,
1st, 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.
2dly, To set before you how 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 mayst be acquainted what thou shouldst 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 Word or Work, ordinary or extraordinary, Why should it run to your Hearts; for if less Things could have done the Turn, it would have been done? I know the Lord is merciful and loath to destroy his own Buildings, and to pluck up the Plants which his own Hand planted; so if the Word had done it, the Work had not been done: These Things that are fallen out are not only Warnings to you, but they are Warnings to make you believe; and therefore think not that they were greater Sinners than ye; but, 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 were some of you bed-sick, and some of you have been restored from the very Death again; and I know some of you had rather laid down your Life than have convoyed them to the Grave. Now the more this be old, 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 Conscience. Likewise, how the Lord has guarded you round about, and gave Command to the Pest that it should not come near to your Ports, 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 one Hatful of Water: Their Skallet-boards, and Skallet-trenchers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, they may bear you Witness. I wot well ye had as great Sins of incessant Whoredom 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 those 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 mayst rise in the Morning, but who can tell with how doleful a Heart thou mayst 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 it will be all wrong with us. Now, I beseech you, wit well that ye 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; trow ye not that these have been fearful Warnings to the Mother that bare them, and to the Father out of whose Loins they came; and as they are fearful Preachers to them, so let them be to you; and I lay this Necessity on every one of you, that ye hold up your Hands to God Evening and Morning.
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.