Good morrow my good Neighbour, Mr. Attentive; whither are you walking so early this morning? methinks you look as if you were concerned about something more than ordinary. Have you lost any of your Cattel, or what is the matter?
Attentive. Good Sir, Good morrow to you, I have not as yet lost ought, but yet you give a right ghess of me, for I am, as you say, concerned in my heart, but ’tis because of the badness of the times. And Sir, you, as all our Neighbours know, are a very observing man, pray therefore what do you think of them?
Wise. Why? I think, as you say, to wit, that they are bad times, and bad they will be, untill men are better: for they are bad men that make bad times; if men therefore would mend, so would the times. ’Tis a folly to look for good dayes, so long as sin is so high, and those that study its nourishment so many. God bring it down, and those that nourish it to Repentance, and then my good Neighbour, you will be concerned, not as you are now: Now you are concerned because times are so bad; but then you will be so, ’cause times are so good: Now you are concerned so as to be perplexed, but then you will be concerned so as to lift up your voice with shouting; for I dare say, could you see such dayes they would make you shout.
Atten. Ai, so they would, such times I have prayed for, such times I have longed for: but I fear they’ll be worse before they be better.
Wise. Make no Conclusions, man: for he that hath the hearts of men in his hand, can change them from worse to better, and so bad times into good. God give long life to them that are good, and especially to those of them that are capable of doing him service in the world. The Ornament and Beauty of this lower World, next to God and his Wonders, are the men that spangle and shine in godliness.
Now as Mr. Wiseman said this, he gave a great sigh.
Atten. Amen. Amen. But why, good Sir, do you sigh so deeply? is it for ought else than that for the which as you have perceived, I my self am concerned?
Wise. I am concerned with you, for the badness of the times; but that was not the cause of that sigh, of the which, as I see, you take notice. I sighed at the remembrance of the death of that man for whom the Bell tolled at our Town yesterday.
Atten. Why? I trow, Mr. Goodman your Neighbour is not dead. Indeed I did hear that he had been sick.
Wise. No, no, it is not he. Had it been he, I could not but have been concerned, but yet not as I am concerned now. If he had died, I should only have been concerned for that the world had lost a Light: but the man that I am concerned for now, was one that never was good, therefore such an one who is not dead only, but damned. He died that he might die, he went from Life to Death, and then from Death to Death, from Death Natural to death Eternal. And as he spake this, the water stood in his eyes.
Atten. Indeed, to goe from a death-bed to Hell is a fearful thing to think on. But good Neighbour Wiseman, be pleased to tell me who this man was, and why you conclude him so miserable in his death?
Wise. Well, if you can stay, I will tell you who he was, and why I conclude thus concerning him.
Atten. My leisure will admit me to stay, and I am willing to hear you out. And I pray God your discourse may take hold on my heart, that I may be bettered thereby. So they agreed to sit down under a tree: Then Mr. Wiseman proceeded as followeth.
Wise. The man that I mean, is one Mr. Badman; he has lived in our Town a great while, and now, as I said, he is dead. But the reason of my being so concerned at his death, is, not for that he was at all related to me, or for that any good conditions died with him, for he was far from them, but for that, as I greatly fear, he hath, as was hinted before, died two deaths at once.
Atten. I perceive what you mean by two deaths at once; and to speak truth, ’tis a fearfull thing thus to have ground to think of any: for although the death of the ungodly and sinners is laid to heart but of few, yet to die in such a state, is more dreadful and fearful than any man can imagine. Indeed if a man had no Soul, if his state was not truely Immortal, the matter would not be so much; but for a man to be so disposed of by his Maker, as to be appointed a sensible being for ever, and for him too to fall into the hands of revenging Justice, that will be always, to the utmost extremity that his sin deserveth, punishing of him in the dismal dungeon of Hell, this must needs be unutterably sad, and lamentable.
Wise. There is no man, I think, that is sensible of the worth of one Soul, but must, when he hears of the death of unconverted men, be stricken with sorrow and grief: because, as you said well, that mans state is such, that he has a sensible being for ever. For ’tis sense that makes punishment heavy. But yet sense is not all that the Damned have, they have sense and reason too; so then, as Sense receiveth punishment with sorrow because it feels, and bleeds under the same, so by Reason, and the exercise thereof, in the midst of torment, all present Affliction is aggravated, and that three manner of wayes:
1. Reason will consider thus with himself; For what am I thus tormented? and will easily find ’tis for nothing but that base and filthy thing, Sin; and now will Vexation be mixed with Punishment, and that will greatly heighten the Affliction.
2. Reason will consider thus with himself. How long must this be my state? And will soon return to himself this Answer: This must be my state for ever and ever. Now this will greatly increase the torment.
3. Reason will consider thus with himself; What have I lost more than present ease and quiet by my sins that I have committed? And will quickly return himself this answer: I have lost Communion with God, Christ, Saints and Angels, and a share in Heaven and eternal Life: And this also must needs greaten the misery of poor damned souls. And this is the case of Mr. Badman.
Atten. I feel my heart even shake at the thoughts of coming into such a state. Hell! who knows that is yet alive, what the torments of Hell are? This word Hell gives a very dreadful sound.
Wise. Ai, so it does in the ears of him that has a tender Conscience. But if, as you say, and that truly, the very Name of Hell, is so dreadful, what is the Place it self, and what are the Punishments that are there inflicted, and that without the least intermission, upon the Souls of damned men, for ever and ever.
Atten. Well, but passing this; my leisure will admit me to stay, and therefore pray tell me what it is that makes you think that Mr. Badman is gone to Hell.
Wise. I will tell you. But first do you know which of the Badmans I mean?
Atten. Why was there more of them than one?
Wise. O, yes, a great many, both Brothers and Sisters, and yet all of them the Children of a godly Parent, the more a great deal is the pity.
Atten. Which of them therefore was it that died.
Wise. The eldest, old in years, and old in sin; but the sinner that dies an hundred years old shall be accursed.
Atten. Well, but what makes you think he is gone to Hell?
Wise. His wicked life, and fearful death, specially since the Manner of his death was so corresponding with his life.
Atten. Pray let me know the manner of his death, if your self did perfectly know it.
Wise. I was there when he died: But I desire not to see another such man (while I live) die in such sort as he did.
Atten. Pray therefore let me hear it.
Wise. You say you have leisure and can stay, and therefore, if you please, we will discourse even orderly of him. First, we will begin with his Life, and then proceed to his Death: Because a relation of the first may the more affect you, when you shall hear of the second.
Atten. Did you then so well know his Life?
Wise. I knew him of a Child. I was a man, when he was but a boy, and I made special observation of him from first to last.
Atten. Pray then let me hear from you an account of his Life; but be as brief as you can, for I long to hear of the manner of his death.
Wise. I will endeavour to answer your desires, and first, I will tell you, that from a Child he was very bad: his very beginning was ominous, and presaged that no good end, was, in likelyhood, to follow thereupon. There were several sins that he was given to, when but a little one, that manifested him to be notoriously infected with Original corruption; for I dare say he learned none of them of his Father or Mother; nor was he admitted to go much abroad among other Children, that were vile, to learn to sin of them: Nay, contrariwise, if at any time he did get abroad amongst others, he would be as the Inventer of bad words, and an example in bad actions. To them all he used to be, as we say, the Ring-leader, and Master-sinner from a Childe.
Atten. This was a bad Beginning indeed, and did demonstrate that he was, as you say, polluted, very much polluted with Original Corruption. For to speak my mind freely, I do confess, that it is mine opinion, that Children come polluted with sin into the World, and that oft-times the sins of their youth, especially while they are very young, are rather by vertue of Indwelling sin, than by examples that are set before them by others. Not but that they learn to sin by example too, but Example is not the root, but rather the Temptation unto wickedness. The root is sin within; for from within, out of the heart of man proceedeth sin.
Wise. I am glad to hear that you are of this opinion, and to confirm what you have said by a few hints from the Word. Man in his birth is compared to an Ass, (an unclean Beast) and to a wretched Infant in its blood: besides, all the first-born of old that were offered unto the Lord, were to be redeemed at the age of a month, and that was before they were sinners by imitation. The Scripture also affirmeth, that by the sin of one, Judgement came upon all; and renders this reason, for that all have sinned: nor is that Objection worth a rush, That Christ by his death hath taken away Original Sin. First, Because it is Scriptureless. Secondly, Because it makes them incapable of Salvation by Christ; for none but those that in their own Persons are sinners, are to have Salvation by him. Many other things might be added, but between persons so well agreed as you and I are, these may suffice at present: but when an Antagonist comes to deal with us about this matter, then we have for him often other strong Arguments, if he be an Antagonist worth the taking notice of.
Atten. But, as was hinted before, he used to be the Ring-leading Sinner, or the Master of mischief among other children; yet these are but Generals; pray therefore tell me in Particular which were the sins of his Childhood.
Wise. I will so. When he was but a Child, he was so addicted to Lying, that his Parents scarce knew when to believe he spake true; yea, he would invent, tell, and stand to the Lyes that he invented and told, and that with such an audacious face, that one might even read in his very countenance the symptoms of an hard and desperate heart this way.
Atten. This was an ill beginning indeed, and argueth that he began to harden himself in sin betimes. For a lye cannot be knowingly told and stood in, (and I perceive that this was his manner of way in Lying) but he must as it were force his own heart into it. Yea, he must make his heart hard, and bold to doe it: Yea, he must be arrived to an exceeding pitch of wickedness thus to doe, since all this he did against that good education, that before you seemed to hint, he had from his Father and Mother.
Wise. The want of good Education, as you have intimated, is many times a cause why Children doe so easily, so soon, become bad; especially when there is not only a want of that, but bad Examples enough, as, the more is the pity, there is in many Families; by vertue of which poor Children are trained up in Sin, and nursed therein for the Devil and Hell. But it was otherwise with Mr. Badman, for to my knowledge, this his way of Lying, was a great grief to his Parents, for their hearts were much dejected at this beginning of their Son; nor did there want Counsel and Correction from them to him, if that would have made him better. He wanted not to be told, in my hearing, and that over and over and over, That all Lyars should have their part in the Lake that burns with fire and brimstone; and that whosoever loveth and maketh a lye, should not have any part in the new and heavenly Jerusalem: But all availed nothing with him; when a fit, or an occasion to lie, came upon him, he would invent, tell, and stand to his Lie (as steadfastly as if it had been the biggest of truths,) that he told, and that with that hardening of his heart and face, that it would be to those that stood by, a wonder. Nay, and this he would doe when under the rod of correction which is appointed by God for Parents to use, that thereby they might keep their Children from Hell.
Wise. Right, he is the Father of it indeed. A Lie is begot by the Devil, as the Father, and is brought forth by the wicked heart, as the Mother: wherefore another Scripture also saith, Why hath Satan filled thy heart to lye, &c. Yea, he calleth the heart that is big with a lye, an heart that hath Conceived, that is, by the Devil. Why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart, thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. True, his lye was a lye of the highest nature, but every lye hath the same Father and Mother as had the lie last spoken of. For he is a lier, and the Father of it. A lie then is the Brat of Hell, and it cannot be in the heart before the person has committed a kind of spiritual Adultery with the Devil. That Soul therefore that telleth a known lie, has lien with, and conceived it by lying with the Devil, the only Father of lies. For a lie has only one Father and Mother, the Devil and the Heart. No marvel therefore if the hearts that hatch and bring forth Lies, be so much of complexion with the Devil. Yea, no marvel though God and Christ have so bent their Word against lyers: a lyer is weded to the Devil himself.
Atten. It seems a marvellous thing in mine eyes, that since a lye is the Offspring of the devill, and since a lye brings the soul to the very den of Devils, to wit, the dark dungeon of hell; that men should be so desperately wicked as to accustom themselves to so horrible a thing.
Wise. It seems also marvellous to me, specially when I observe for how little a matter some men will study, contrive, make and tell a lye. You shall have some that will lye it over and over, and that for a peny profit. Yea, lye and stand in it, although they know that they lye: yea, you shall have some men that will not stick to tell lye after lye, though themselves get nothing thereby; They will tell lyes in their ordinary discourse with their Neighbours, also their News, their Jests, and their Tales must needs be adorned with lyes; or else they seem to bear no good sound to the ear, nor shew much to the fancie of him to whom they are told. But alas, what will these lyers doe, when, for their lyes they shall be tumbled down into hell, to that Devil that did beget those lyes in their heart, and so be tormented by fire and brimstone, with him, and that for ever and ever, for their lyes?
Atten. Can you not give one some example of Gods Judgements upon lyers, that one may tell them to lyers when one hears them lye, if perhaps they may by the hearing thereof, be made afraid, and ashamed to lye.
Wise. Examples! why, Saphira and his wife are examples enough to put a stop, one would think, to a spirit addicted thereto, for they both were stricken down dead for telling a lye, and that by God himself, in the midst of a company of people. But if Gods threatning of Liers with Hell-fire, and with the loss of the Kingdom of Heaven, will not prevail with them to leave off to lie and make lies, it cannot be imagined that a relation of temporal Judgements that have swept liers out of the World heretofore, should do it. Now, as I said, this Lying was one of the first sins that Mr. Badman was addicted to, and he could make them and tell them fearfully.
Wise. You say true, the lier is a Captive slave of more than the spirit of lying: and therefore this Mr. Badman, as he was a lier from a Child, so he was also much given to pilfer and steal, so that what he could, as we say, handsomly lay his hands on, that was counted his own, whether they were the things of his fellow Children; or if he could lay hold of any thing at a Neighbours house, he would take it away; you must understand me of Trifles; for being let but a Child he attempted no great matter, especially at first. But yet as he grew up in strength and ripeness of wit, so he attempted to pilfer and steal things still of more value than at first. He took at last great pleasure in robbing of Gardens and Orchards; and as he grew up, to steal Pullen from the Neighbourhood: Yea, what was his Fathers, could not escape his fingers, all was Fish that came to his Net, so hardened, at last, was he in this mischief also.
Atten. You make me wonder more and more. What, play the Thief too! What play the Thief so soon! He could not but know, though he was but a Child, that what he took from others, was none of his own. Besides, if his Father was a good man, as you say, it could not be, but he must also hear from him, that to steal was to transgress the Law of God, and so to run the hazard of eternal Damnation.
Wise. His Father was not wanting to use the means to reclaim him, often urging, as I have been told, that saying in the Law of Moses, Thou shalt not steal: And also that, This is the Curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth, for every one that stealeth shall be cut off, &c. The light of Nature also, though he was little, must needs shew him that what he took from others, was not his own, and that he would not willingly have been served so himself. But all was to no purpose, let Father and Conscience say what they would to him, he would go on, he was resolved to go on in his wickedness.
Atten. But his Father would, as you intimate, sometimes rebuke him for his wickedness; pray how would he carry it then?