Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men:
It is taken for granted that at death souls are gathered together after their own sort, and that horror is felt at being gathered with sinners. In discoursing on this doctrine we shall note —
I. SOME THINGS IMPLIED IN IT.
1. Here souls are mingled together. The result of this is that it keeps both parties uneasy; they are a mutual check one upon another, and providence varies in its dispensations accordingly.
2. In the other world there will be separation; and that —
3. The time for this is at death. But —
4. The saints have a horror of being gathered with sinners, and so, too, have the wicked. Balaam (Numbers 21:10).
II. WHO ARE SINNERS. All unjustified and unsanctified persons; such as they who neither know nor care about religion: the profane, the mere moralists (Matthew 5:20), and formalists (2 Timothy 3:5). For all these miss the mark men should aim at, and all are guilty of death before the Lord (1 Kings 1:21; Romans 3:19), and they can do nothing but sin (Psalm 14:3), since the principles that govern them are wrong (Titus 1:15).
III. THE MEANING OF THE SOUL BEING GATHERED WITH SINNERS IN THE OTHER WORLD. The soul is separated from the body at death and goes to its appointed place, which is separate from that of saints.
IV. THE CONCERN FELT IN REFERENCE TO THIS. It implies an earnest belief in the foregoing truths, and a dread of what they declare, together with an acknowledgment that God might justly condemn them; wherefore they betake themselves to His mercy (Job 9:15).
V. THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH CONCERN.
1. Because to be gathered with sinners is to be separated from God.
2. In a most doleful place (Isaiah 24:22).
3. With the most frightful society (Matthew 25:41).
4. Suffering the heaviest punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
5. To be left in their sin there; which will itself be their punishment. Their passions will rage, but they cannot be satisfied.
6. And this forever.
VI. LESSONS FROM THIS DOCTRINE.
1. However favourable the condition of the sinner in this world, it is a miserable one after all.
2. That the great business of our life is to learn to die, and to prepare for the next world.
3. We are in great danger of perishing, and therefore should be all the more earnest.
4. Therefore let the careless, slothful, delaying, malignant sinners take heed. But —
5. Such as are showing this concern may be comforted, for they are in the way of duty, and are taking their work in time; it is the Spirit who works in them this concern, and they have to do with a good and gracious God (Ezekiel 23:11). Then —
6. Your concern is quite different from that of the ungodly, who also shrink from hell, as Balaam did. For your concern is, not to be separated from Christ, and not to be left in sin; and you are now forsaking sin with true purpose of heart. Wherefore —
7. Be thus concerned all of you, come to Christ, forsake all sin, unite with the godly, observe ordinances, avoid the way of sinners now. For how important this matter is; nothing is to be put before it, and now is the accepted and the only time, and the gathering in the other world will be eternal and unutterable. Wherefore, upon the whole, let me obtain of you —
(1) That you will take scale serious thoughts of the other world in both parts of it.
(2) That you will inquire what case you are in for it. And —
(3) That you will lay down measures timely, that year souls be not gathered with sinners there. May the Lord persuade and incline your hearts unto this course.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
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