Why does God let his people be in the house of bondage or in an afflicted state?
He does it,
(1) For probation or trial. 'Who led thee through that terrible wilderness, that he might humble thee and prove thee.' Deut 8: 15, 16. Affliction is the touch-stone of sincerity. 'Thou O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us as silver; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.' Psa 66: 10, 11. Hypocrites may embrace the true religion in prosperity, and court this queen while she has a jewel hung at her ear; but he is a good Christian who will keep close to God in a time of suffering. 'All this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee.' Psa 44: I7. To love God in heaven, is no wonder; but to love him when he chastises us, discovers sincerity.
(2) For purgation; to purge our corruption. Ardet palea, purgatur aurum. 'And this is all the fruit, to take away his sin.' Isa 28: 9. The eye, though a tender part, yet when sore, we put sharp powders and waters into it to eat out the pearl; so though the people of God are dear to him, yet, when corruption begins to grow in them, he will apply the sharp powder of affliction, to eat out the pearl in the eye. Affliction is God's flail to thresh off our husks; it is a means God uses to purge out sloth, luxury, pride, and love of the world. God's furnace is in Zion. Isa 31: 5. This is not to consume, but to refine. What if we have more affliction, if by this means we have less sin!
(3) For augmentation; to increase the graces of the Spirit. Grace thrives most in the iron furnace. Sharp frosts nourish the corn; so sharp afflictions nourish grace. Grace in the saints is often as fire hid in the embers, affliction is the bellows to blow it up into a flame. The Lord makes the house of bondage a friend to grace. Then faith and patience act their part. The darkness of the night cannot hinder the brightness of a star; so, the more the diamond is cut the more it sparkles; and the more God afflicts us, the more our graces cast a sparkling lustre.
(4) For preparation; to fit and prepare the saints for glory. 2 Cor 4: I7. The stones which are cut out for a building, are first hewn and squared. The godly are called 'living stones.' 1 Pet 2: 5. God first hews and polishes them by affliction, that they may be fit for the heavenly building. The house of bondage prepares for the house not made with hands. 2 Cor 5: 1: The vessels of mercy are seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in.
How do the afflictions of the godly differ from the afflictions of the wicked?
(1) They are but castigations, but those on the wicked are punishments. The one come from a father, the other from a judge.
(2) Afflictions on the godly are fruits of covenant-mercy. 2 Sam 7: 17. Afflictions on the wicked are effects of God's wrath. 'He has much wrath with his sickness.' Eccl 5: I7. Afflictions on the wicked are the pledge and earnest of hell; they are like the pinioning of a malefactor, which presages his execution.
(3) Afflictions on the godly make them better, but afflictions on the wicked make them worse. The godly pray more; Psa 130: 1: The wicked blaspheme more. 'Men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God.' Rev 16: 9. Afflictions on the wicked make them more impenitent; every plague upon Egypt increased the plague of hardness in Pharaoh's heart. To what a prodigy of wickedness do some persons come after great sickness. Affliction on the godly is like bruising spices, which are most sweet and fragrant: affliction on the wicked is like pounding weeds with a pestle, which makes them more unsavoury.
Use one. (1) We are not to wonder to see Israel in the house of bondage. 1 Pet 4: 12. The holiness of the saints will not excuse them from sufferings. Christ was the holy one of God, yet he was in the iron furnace. His spouse is a lily among thorns. Cant 2: 2. Though his sheep have the ear-mark of election upon them, yet they may have their wool fleeced off. The godly have some good in them, therefore the devil afflicts them; and some evil in them, therefore God afflicts them. While there are two seeds in the world, expect to be under the black rod. The gospel tells us of reigning, but first of suffering. 2 Tim 2: 12.
(2) Affliction is not always the sign of God's anger. Israel, the apple of God's eye, a peculiar treasure to him above all people, were in the house of bondage. Exod 19: 5. We are apt to judge and censure those who are in an afflicted state. When the barbarians saw the viper on Paul's hand, they said, 'No doubt this man is a murderer.' Acts 28: 4. So, when we see the viper of affliction fasten upon the godly, we are apt to censure them, and say, these are greater sinners than others, and God hates them; but this rash censuring is for want of wisdom. Were not Israel in the house of bondage? Was not Jeremiah in the dungeon, and Paul a night and day in the deep? God's afflicting is so far from evidencing hatred, that his not afflicting does. 'I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom.' Hos 4: 14. Deus maxime irascitur cum non irascitur. Bernard. God punishes most when he does not punish; his hand is heaviest when it seems to be lightest. The judge will not burn him in the hand whom he intends to execute.
(3) If God's own Israel may be in the house of bondage, then afflictions do not of themselves demonstrate a man miserable. Indeed, sin unrepented of, makes one miserable; but the cross does not. If God has a design in afflicting his children to make them happy, they are not miserable; but God's afflicting them is to make them happy, therefore they are not miserable. 'Happy is the man whom God correcteth.' Job 5: 17. The world counts them happy who can keep out of affliction; but the Scripture calls them happy who are afflicted.
How are they happy?(4) See the merciful providence of God to his children. Though they may be in the house of bondage, and smart by affliction, yet they shall not be hurt by affliction. What hurt does the fan to the corn? it only separates the chaff from it; or the lance to the body? it only lets out the abscess. The house of bondage does that which sometimes ordinances will not; it humbles and reforms. 'If they be holden in cords of affliction, he openeth their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity.' Job 36: 8, 10. Oh! what a merciful providence is it that, though God bruise his people, yet, while he is bruising them, he is doing them good! It is as if one should throw a bag of money at another, which bruises him a little, but yet it enriches him. Affliction enriches the soul and yields the sweet fruits of righteousness. Heb. 12: 11.
Because they are more holy. Heb 12: 10. Because they are more in God's favour. Prov 3: 12. The goldsmith loves his gold when in the furnace. Because they have more of God's sweet presence. Psa 91: 15. They cannot be unhappy who have God's powerful presence in supporting, and his gracious presence in sanctifying, their affliction. Because the more affliction they have, the more degrees of glory they shall have; the lower they have been in the iron furnace, the higher they shall sit upon to throne of glory; the heavier their crosses, the heavier shall be their crown. So then, if afflictions make a Christian happy, they cannot call him miserable.
Use two. If Israel be in the house of bondage,
(1) Do not entertain too hard thoughts of affliction. Christians are apt to look upon the cross and the iron furnace as frightful things, and do what they can to shun them. Nay, sometimes, to avoid affliction, they run themselves into sin. But do not think too hardly of affliction; do not look upon it as through the multiplying-glass of fear. The house of bondage is not hell. Consider that affliction comes from a wise God, who prescribes whatever befalls us. Persecutions are like apothecaries: they give us the physic which God the physician prescribes. Affliction has its light side, as well as its dark one. God can sweeten our afflictions, and candy our wormwood. As our sufferings abound, so does also our consolation. 2 Cor 1: 5. Argerius dated his letters from the pleasant garden of the Leonine prison. God sometimes so revives his children in trouble, that they had rather bear their afflictions than want their comforts. Why then should Christians entertain such hard thoughts of afflictions? Do not look at its grim face, but at the message it brings, which is to enrich us with both grace and comfort.
(2) If Israel be sometimes in the house of bondage, in an afflicted state, think beforehand of affliction. Say not as Job (29: 18), 'I shall die in my nest.' In the house of mirth think of the house of bondage. You that are now Naomi, may be Mara. Ruth 1:20. How quickly may the scene turn, and the hyperbole of joy end in a catastrophe! All outward things are given to change. The forethoughts of affliction would make us sober and moderate in the use of lawful delight; it would cure a surfeit. Christ at a feast mentions his burial; a good antidote against a surfeit. The forethought of affliction would make us prepare for it; it would take us off the world; it would put us upon search of our evidences.
We should see what oil we have in our lamps, what grace we can find, that we may be able to stand in the evil day. That soldier is imprudent who has his sword to whet when he is just going to fight. He who forecasts sufferings, will have the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit ready, that he may not be surprised.
(3) If afflictions come, let us labour to conduct ourselves wisely as Christians, that we may adorn our sufferings: that is, let us endure with patience. 'Take, my brethren, the prophets for an example of suffering affliction and patience.' James 5: 10. Satan labours to take advantage of us in affliction, by making us either faint or murmur; he blows the coals of passion and discontent, and then warms himself at the fire. Patience adorns sufferings. A Christian should say as Jesus Christ did, 'Lord, not my will but thy will be done.' It is a sign the affliction is sanctified when the heart is brought to a sweet submissive frame. God will then remove the affliction: he will take us out of the iron furnace.
We may consider these words, 'Which brought thee out of the house of bondage,' either,  Literally; or  Spiritually and Mystically. In the letter, 'I brought thee out of the house of bondage;' that is, I delivered you out of the misery and servitude you sustained in Egypt, where you were in the iron furnace. Spiritually and mystically, by which 'I brought thee out of the house of bondage,' is a type of our deliverance by Christ from sin and hell.
 Literally, 'I brought thee out of the house of bondage,' out of great misery and slavery in the iron furnace. The thing I note here is that, though God brings his people sometimes into trouble, yet he will bring them out again. Israel was in the house of bondage, but at last was brought out.
We shall endeavour to show: 1. That God does deliver out of trouble. 2. In what manner. 3. At what seasons. 4. Why he delivers. 5. How the deliverances of the godly and wicked out of trouble differ.
God does deliver his children out of troubles. 'Our fathers trusted in thee; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.' Psa 22: 4. 'And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion,' namely, from Nero. 2 Tim 4: 17. 'Thou laidst affliction upon our loins, but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.' Psa 66: 11, 12. 'Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.' Psa 30: 5. God brought Daniel out of the lions' den, Zion out of Babylon. In his due time he gives an issue out of trouble. Psa 68: 20. The tree which in the winter seems dead, revives in the spring. Post nubila Phoebus [The sun emerges after the storms]. Affliction may leap on us as the viper did on Paul, but at last it shall be shaken off. It is called a cup of affliction. Isa 51: 17. The wicked drink a sea of wrath, the godly drink only a cup of affliction, and God will say shortly, 'Let this cup pass away.' God will give his people a gaol-delivery.
In what manner does God deliver his people out of trouble?
He does it like a God, in wisdom. (1) He does it sometimes suddenly. As the angel was caused to fly swiftly (Dan 9: 21), so God sometimes makes a deliverance fly swiftly, and on a sudden turns the shadow of death into the light of the morning. As he gives us mercies above what we can think (Eph 3: 20), so sometimes before we can think of them. 'When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream;' it came suddenly upon us as a dream. Psa 126: 1. Joseph could not have thought of such a sudden alteration, to be the same day freed out of prison, and made the chief ruler in the kingdom. Mercy sometimes does not stick long in the birth, but comes forth on a sudden. (2) God sometimes delivers his people strangely. Thus the whale which swallowed up Jonah was the means of bringing him safe to land. He sometimes delivers his people in the very way which they think will destroy. In bringing Israel out of Egypt, he stirred up the heart of the Egyptians to hate them (Psa 105: 25), and that was the means of their deliverance. He brought Paul to shore by a contrary wind, and upon the broken pieces of the ship. Acts 27: 44.
When are the times and seasons that God usually delivers his people out of the bondage of affliction?
(1) When they are in the greatest extremity. Though Jonah was in the belly of hell, he says, 'Thou hast brought up my life from corruption.' Jonah 2: 6. When there is but a hair's breadth between the godly and death, God ushers in deliverance. When the ship was almost covered with waves Christ awoke and rebuked the wind. When Isaac was upon the altar, and the knife about to be put to his throat, the angel comes and says, 'Lay not thy hand upon the child.' When Peter began to sink, Christ took him by the hand. Cum duplicantur lateres, venit Moses: 'when the tale of brick was doubled, then Moses the temporal saviour comes. When the people of God are in the greatest danger the morning star of deliverance appears. When the patient is ready to faint the cordial is given.
(2) The second season is, when affliction has done its work upon them; when it has effected that which God sent it for. As,  When it has humbled them. 'Remembering my affliction, the wormwood and gall, my soul is humbled in me.' Lam 3: 19, 20. Then God's corrosive has eaten out the proud flesh.  When it has tamed their impatience. Before, they were proud and impatient, like froward children that struggle with their parents; but when their cursed hearts are tamed, they say, 'I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him' (Micah 7: 9); and as Eli, 'It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good:' 'Let him hedge me with thorns, if he will plant me with grace.' 1 Sam 3: 18.
(3) When they are partakers of more holiness, and are more full of heavenly-mindedness. Heb 12: 10. When the sharp frost of affliction has brought forth the spring-flowers of grace, the cross is sanctified, and God will bring them out of the house of bondage. Luctus in laetitiam vertetur, cineres in corollas [Sorrow will turn to joy, ashes to garlands]. When the metal is refined it is taken out of the furnace. When affliction has healed us, God takes off the smarting plaister.
Why does God bring his people out of the house of bondage?
Hereby he makes way for his own glory. His glory is dearer to him than anything besides; it is a crown jewel. By raising his people he raises the trophies of his own honour; he glorifies his own attributes; his power, truth, and goodness are triumphant.
(1) His power. If God did not sometimes bring his people into trouble, how could his power be seen in bringing them out? He brought Israel out of the house of bondage, with miracle upon miracle; he saved them with an outstretched arm. 'What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?' &c. Psa 114: 5. Of Israel's march out of Egypt it is said, when the sea fled, and the waters were parted each from other. Here was the power of God set forth. 'Is there any thing too hard for me?' Jer 32: 27. God loves to help when things seem past hope. He creates deliverance. Psa 124: 8. He brought Isaac out of a dead womb, and the Messiah out of a virgin's womb. oh! how does his power shine forth when he overcomes seeming impossibilities, and works a cure when things look desperate!
(2) His truth. God has made promises to his people, when they are under great pressures, to deliver them; and his truth is engaged in his promise. 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee.' Psa 50: 15. 'He shall deliver thee in six troubles, yea in seven.' Job 5: 19. How is the Scripture bespangled with these promises as the firmament is with stars! Either God will deliver them from death, or by death; he will make a way of escape. 1 Cor 10: 13. When promises are verified, God's truth is magnified.
(3) His goodness. God is full of compassion to such as are in misery. The Hebrew word, Racham, for mercy, signifies bowels. God has 'sounding of bowels.' Isa 63: 15. And this sympathy stirs up God to deliver. 'In his love and pity he redeemed them.' Isa 63: 9. This makes way for the triumph of his goodness. He is tender-hearted, he will not over afflict; he cuts asunder the bars of iron, he breaks the yoke of the oppressor. Thus all his attributes ride in triumph in saving his people out of trouble.
How do the deliverance of the godly and tricked out of trouble differ?
(1) The deliverances of the godly are preservations; of the wicked reservations. 'The Lord knows how to deliver the godly, and to reserve the unjust to be punished.' 2 Pet 2: 9. A sinner may be delivered from dangerous sickness, and out of prison; but all this is but a reservation for some greater evil.
(2) God delivers the wicked, or rather spares them in anger. Deliverances to the wicked are not given as pledges of his love, but symptoms of displeasure; as quails were given to Israel in anger. But deliverances of the godly are in love. 'He delivered me because he delighted in me'. 2 Sam 22: 20. 'Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption;' or, as in the Hebrew, Chashiaqta Naphshi. Isa 38: 17. Thou hast loved me from the pit of corruption. A wicked man may say, 'Lord, thou hast delivered me out of the pit of corruption;' but a godly man may say, 'Lord, thou hast loved me out of the pit of corruption.' It is one thing to have God's power deliver us, and another thing to have his love deliver us. 'O,' said Hezekiah, 'Thou hast in love to my soul, delivered me from the pit of corruption.'
How may it be known that a deliverance comes in love?
(1) When it makes our heart boil over in love to God. 'I love the Lord because he has heard my voice.' Psa 116: 1. It is one thing to love our mercies, another thing to love the Lord. Deliverance is in love when it causes love.
(2) Deliverance is in love when we have hearts to improve it for God's glory. The wicked, instead of improving their deliverance for God's glory, increase their corruption; they grow worse, as the metal when taken out of the fire grows harder; but our deliverance is in love when we improve it for God's glory. God raises us out of a low condition, and we lift him up in our praises, and honour him with our substance. Prov 3: 9. He recovers us from sickness, and we spend ourselves in his service. Mercy is not as the sun to the fire, to dull it and put it out, but as oil to the wheel, to make it move faster.
(3) Deliverance comes in love when it makes us more exemplary in holiness; and our lives are walking Bibles. A thousand praises and doxologies do not honour God so much as the mortifying of one lust. 'Upon mount Zion there shall be deliverance and holiness,' Obadiah 17. When these two go together, deliverance and holiness; when, being made monuments of mercy, we are patterns of piety; then a deliverance comes in love, and we may say as Hezekiah, 'Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption.'
Use one. If God brings his people out of bondage, let none despond in trouble. Say not 'I shall sink under this burden;' or as David, 'I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.' God can make the text good, personally and nationally, to bring his people out of the house of bondage. When he sees a fit season, he will put forth his arm and save them; and he can do it with ease. 'Lord, it is nothing with thee to help.' 2 Chron 14: 11. He that can turn tides, can turn the times; he that raised Lazarus when he was dead, can raise thee when thou art sick. 'I looked, and there was none to help, therefore mine own arm brought salvation.' Isa 63: 5. Do not despond; believe in God's power: faith sets God to work to deliver us.
Use two. Labour, if you are in trouble, to be fitted for deliverance. Many would have deliverance, but are not fitted for it.
When are we fitted for deliverance?
When, by our afflictions, we are conformed to Christ; when we have learned obedience. 'He learned obedience by the things which he suffered;' that is, he learned sweet submission to his Father's will. Heb 5: 8. 'Not my will, but thine, be done.' Luke 22: 42. When we have thus learned obedience by our sufferings, we are willing to do what God would have us do, and be what God would have us be. We are conformed to Christ, and are fitted for deliverance.
Use three. If God has brought you at any time out of the house of bondage, out of great and eminent troubles, be much in praise. Deliverance calls for praise. 'Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee.' Psa 30: 11, 12. My glory, that is, my tongue, which is the instrument of glorifying thee. The saints are temples of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor 3: 16. Where should God's praises be sounded but in his temple? Beneficium postulat officium [Gratitude should follow a favour]. The deepest springs yield the sweetest water; and hearts deeply sensible of God's deliverances yield the sweetest praises. Moses tells Pharaoh, when he was going out of Egypt, 'We will go with our flocks and our herds.' Exod 10: 9. Why so? Because he might have sacrifices of thanksgiving ready to offer to God for their deliverance. To have a thankful heart for deliverance is a greater blessing than the deliverance itself. One of the lepers, 'when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.' Luke 17: 15. The leper's thankful heart was a greater blessing than to be healed of his leprosy. Have any of you been brought out of the house of bondage - out of prison, sickness, or any death-threatening danger? Do not forget to be thankful. Be not graves, but temples. That you may be the more thankful, observe every emphasis and circumstance in your deliverance; such as to be brought out of trouble when you were in articulo mortis [at the brink of death], when there was but a hair's breadth between you and death; or, to be brought out of affliction, without sin, you did not purchase your deliverance by the ensnaring of your consciences; or, to be brought out of trouble upon the wings of prayer; or, that those who were the occasions of bringing you into trouble, should be the instruments of bringing you out. These circumstances, being well weighed, heighten a deliverance, and should heighten our thankfulness. The cutting of a stone may be of more value than the stone itself; and the circumstancing of a deliverance may be greater than the deliverance itself.
But how shall we praise God in a right manner for deliverance?
(1) Be holy persons. In the sacrifice of thanksgiving, whosoever did eat thereof with his uncleanness upon him, was to be cut off (Lev 7: 20), to typify how unpleasing their praises and thank-offerings are who live in sin.
(2) Praise God with humble hearts, acknowledge how unworthy you were of deliverance. God's mercies are not debts, but legacies; and that you should have them by legacy should make you humble. 'The elders fell upon their faces (an expression of humility) and worshipped God. Rev 11: I6.
(3) Praise God for deliverances cordially. 'I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.' Psa 111: 1. In religion there is no music but in concert, when heart and tongue join.
(4) Praise God for deliverances constantly. 'While I live will I praise the Lord.' Psa 146: 2. Some will be thankful while the memory of a deliverance is fresh, and then leave off. The Carthaginians used, at first, to send the tenth of their yearly revenue to Hercules; but by degrees they grew weary, and left off sending; but we must be constant in our Eucharistic sacrifice, or thank-offering. The motion of our praise must be like the motion of our pulse, which beats as long as life lasts. 'I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.' Psa 146: 2.
THESE words are to be understood mystically and spiritually. By Israel's deliverance from the house of bondage, is typified their spiritual deliverance from sin, Satan, and hell.
(1) From sin. The house of bondage was a type of Israel's deliverance from sin. Sin is the true bondage, it enslaves the soul. Nihil durius servitute. Cicero. 'Of all conditions, servitude is the worst.' 'I was held before conversion,' says Augustine, 'not with an iron chain, but with the obstinacy of mine own will.' Sin is the enslaver; it is called a law, because it has a binding power over a man (Rom 7: 23); it is said to reign, because it exercises a tyrannical power (Rom 6: 12); and men are said to be the servants of sin, because they are so enslaved by it. Rom 6: 17. Thus sin is the house of bondage. Israel was not so enslaved in the iron furnace as the sinner is by sin. They are worse slaves and vassals who are under the power of sin, than they are who are under the power of earthly tyrants.
 Other slaves have tyrants ruling over their bodies only; but the sinner has his soul tyrannised over. That princely thing, the soul, which sways the sceptre of reason, and was once crowned with perfect knowledge and holiness, now goes on foot; it is enslaved, and made a lackey to every base lust.
 Other slaves have some pity shown them: the tyrant gives them meat, and lets them have hours for their rest; but sin is a merciless tyrant, it will let men have no rest. Judas had no rest until he had betrayed Christ, and after that he had less rest than before. How does a man wear himself out in the service of sin, waste his body, break his sleep, distract his mind! A wicked man is every day doing sin's drudgery-work.
 Other slaves have servile work; but it is lawful. It is lawful to work in the galley, and tug at the oar; but all the laws and commands of sin are unlawful. Sin says to one man, defraud; to another, be unchaste; to another take revenge; to another, take a false oath. Thus all sin's commands are unlawful; we cannot obey sin's law, but by breaking God's law.
 Other slaves are forced against their will. Israel groaned under slavery (Exod 2: 23); but sinners are content to be under the command of sin; they are willing to be slaves; they love their chains; they will not take their freedom; they 'glory in their shame.' Phil 3: 19. They wear their sins, not as their fetters, but their ornaments; they rejoice in iniquity. Jer 11: 15.
 Other slaves are brought to correction, but sin's slaves are without repentance, and are brought to condemnation. Other slaves lie in the iron furnace: sin's slaves lie in the fiery furnace. What freedom of will has a sinner to his own confusion, when he can do nothing but what sin will have him? He is enslaved. Thus sinners are in the house of bondage; but God takes his elect out of the house of bondage, he beats off the chains and fetters of sin; he rescues them from their slavery; he makes them free, by bringing them into 'the glorious liberty of the children of God.' Rom 8: 21. The law of love now rules, not the law of sin. Though the life of sin be prolonged, yet not the dominion; as those beasts in Daniel had their lives prolonged for a season, but their dominion was taken away. Dan 7: 12. The saints are made spiritual kings, to rule and conquer their corruptions, to 'bind these kings in chains.' It is matter of the highest praise and thanksgiving, to be taken out of the house of bondage, to be freed from enslaving hosts, and made kings to reign in glory for ever.
(2) The bringing Israel out of the house of bondage, was a type of the deliverance from Satan. Men naturally are in the house of bondage, they are enslaved to Satan. Satan is called the prince of this world (John 14: 30); and the god of this world (2 Cor 4: 4); because he has power to command and enslave them. Though he shall one day be a close prisoner in chains, yet now he insults and tyrannises over the souls of men. Sinners are under his rule, he exercises over them a jurisdiction such as Caesar did over the senate. He fills men's heads with error, and their hearts with malice. 'Why has Satan filled thine heart?' Act 5: 3. A sinner's heart is the devil's mansion house. 'I will return into mine house.' Matt. 12: 44. And sure that must needs be a house of bondage, which is the devil's mansion-house. Satan is a complete tyrant. He rules men's minds, he blinds them with ignorance. 'The god of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not.' 2 Cor 4: 4. He rules their memories. They remember that which is evil, and forget that which is good. Their memories are like a strainer, that lets go all the pure liquor, and retains only the dregs. He rules their wills. Though he cannot force the will, he draws it. 'The lusts of your father you will do.' John 8: 44. He has got your hearts, and him you will obey. His strong temptations draw men to evil more than all the promises of God can draw them to good. This is the state of every man by nature; he is in the house of bondage; the devil has him in his power. A sinner grinds in the devil's mill; he is at the command of Satan, as the ass is at the command of the driver. No wonder to see men oppress and persecute; as slaves they must do what the god of this world will have them. How could those swine but run, when the devil entered into them? Matt 8: 32. When the devil tempted Ananias to tell a lie, he could not but speak what Satan had put in his heart. Acts 5: 3. When the devil entered into Judas, and bade him betray Christ, he would do it, though he hanged himself. It is a sad and dismal case, to be in the house of bondage, under the power and tyranny of Satan. When David would curse the enemies of God, how did he pray against them? That Satan might be at their right hand. Psa 109: 6. He knew he could then lead them into any snare. If the sinner has Satan at his right hand, let him take heed that he be not at God's left hand. Is it not a case to be bewailed, to see men taken captive by Satan at his will? 2 Tim 2: 26. He leads sinners as slaves before him in triumph; he wholly possesses them. If people should see their beasts bewitched and possessed of the devil, they would be much troubled; and yet, though their souls are possessed by Satan, they are not sensible of it. What can be worse than for men to be in the house of bondage, and to have the devil hurry them on in their lusts to perdition? Sinners are willingly enslaved to Satan; they love their gaoler; are content to sit quietly under Satan's jurisdiction; they choose this bramble to rule over them, though after a while, fire will come out of the bramble to devour them. Judges 9: 15. What an infinite mercy is it when God brings poor souls out of this house of bondage, when he gives them a gaol-delivery from the prince of darkness! JESUS CHRIST redeems captives, he ransoms sinners by price, and rescues them by force. As David took a lamb out of the lion's mouth (1 Sam 17: 3 5), so Christ rescues souls out of the mouth of the roaring lion. Oh, what a mercy is it to be brought out of the house of bondage, from captives to the prince of the power of the air, to be made subjects of the Prince of Peace! This is done by the preaching of the Word. 'To turn them from the power of Satan unto God.' Acts 26: 18.
(3) The bringing of Israel out of the house of bondage was a type of their being delivered from hell. Hell is domus servitutis, a house of bondage; a house built on purpose for sinners to lie in.
 There is such a house of bondage where the damned lie. 'The wicked shall be turned into hell.' Psa 9: 17. 'How can ye escape the damnation of hell?' Matt 23: 33. If any one should ask where this house of bondage is, where is the place of hell? I wish he may never know experimentally. 'Let us not so much,' says Chrysostom, 'labour to know where hell is, as how to escape it.' Yet to satisfy curiosity, it may be observed that hell is locus subterraneus, some place beneath. 'Hell beneath.' Prov 15: 24. Hesiod says, 'Hell is as far under the earth, as heaven is above it.' The devils besought Christ 'that he would not command them to go out into the deep.' Luke 8: 31. Hell is in the deep.
 Why must there be this house of bondage? Why a hell? Because there must be a place for the execution of divine justice. Earthly monarchs have their prison for malefactors, and shall not God have his? Sinners are criminals, they have offended God; and it would not consist with his holiness and justice, to have his laws infringed, and not inflict penalties.
 The dreadfulness of the place. Could you but hear the groans and shrieks of the damned for one hour, it would confirm you in the truth, that hell is a house of bondage. Hell is the emphasis of misery. Besides the poena damni, 'the punishment of loss,' which is the exclusion of the soul from the gloried sight of God, which divines think the worst part of hell, there will be poena sensus,' the punishment of sense.' If, when God's wrath is kindled but a little, and a spark of it flies into a man's conscience in this life, it is so terrible (as in the case of Spira), what will hell itself be?
In hell there will be a plurality of torments, 'Bonds and chains.' 2 Pet 2: 4. There will be the worm. Mark 9: 48; This is the worm of conscience. There will be the lake of fire. Rev 20: 15. Other fire is but painted to this.
This house of hell is haunted with devils. Matt 25: 41. Anselm says, 'I had rather endure all torments, than see the devil with bodily eyes.' Such as go to hell must not only be forced to behold the devil, but must be shut up with this lion in his den; they must keep the devil company. He is full of spite against mankind; a red dragon that will spit fire in men's faces.
The torments of hell abide for ever. 'The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.' Rev 14: 2: Time cannot finish it, tears cannot quench it. Mark 9: 44. The wicked are salamanders, who live always in the fire of hell, and are not consumed. After they have lain millions of years in hell, their punishment is as far from ending, as it was at the beginning. If all the earth and sea were sand, and every thousandth year a bird should come, and take away one grain, it would be a long time before that vast heap would be removed; yet, if after all that time the damned might come out of hell, there would be some hope; but this word EVER breaks the heart.
How does it seem to comport with God's justice to punish a sin committed in a moment, with eternal torment?
Because there is an eternity of sin in man's nature. Because sin is crimen laesae majestatis, 'committed against an infinite majesty,' and therefore the sin itself is infinite, and proportionally the punishment must be infinite. Because a finite creature cannot bear infinite wrath, he must be eternally satisfying what he can never satisfy. If hell be such a house of bondage, what infinite cause have they to bless God who are delivered from it! Jesus 'delivered us from the wrath to come.' 1 Thess 1: 10. Jesus Christ suffered the torments of hell in his soul, that believers should not suffer them. If we are thankful, when we are ransomed out of prison, or delivered from fire, oh, how should we bless God to be preserved from the wrath to come! It may cause more thankfulness in us, seeing the most part go into the house of bondage, even to hell. To be of the number of those few that are delivered from it, is matter of infinite thankfulness. Most, I say, go to that house of bondage when they die; most go to hell. 'Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.' Matt 7: 13. The greatest part of the world lies in wickedness. 1 John 5: 19. Divide the world, says Brerewood, into thirty-one parts, nineteen parts of it are possessed by Jews and Turks, and seven parts by heathens; so that there are but five parts of Christians, and among these Christians so many seduced Papists on the one hand, and so many formal Protestants on the other, that we may conclude the major part of the world goes to hell. Scripture compares the wicked to briers. Isa 10: 17. There are but few lilies in your fields, but in every hedge thorns and briers. It compares them to 'the mire in the streets.' Isa 10: 6. Few jewels or precious stones are in the street, but you cannot go a step without meeting with mire. The wicked are as common as the dirt in the street. Look at the generality of people. How many drunkards are there for one that is sober! How many adulterers for one that is chaste! How many hypocrites for one that is sincere! The devil has the harvest, and God a few gleanings only. Oh, then, such as are delivered from the house of bondage, in hell, have infinite cause to admire and bless God. How should the vessels of mercy run over with thankfulness! When most others are carried prisoners to hell, they are delivered from the wrath to come.
How shall I know I am delivered from hell?
(1) Those whom Christ saves from hell he saves from sin. 'He shall save his people from their sins.' Matt 1: 21. Has God delivered you from the power of corruption, from pride, malice, and lust? If he has delivered you from the hell of sin, he has delivered you from the hell of torment.
(2) If you have got an interest in Christ, and are prizing, trusting, and loving him, you are delivered from hell and damnation. 'No condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.' Rom 8:1. If you are in Christ, he has put the garment of his righteousness over you, and hell-fire can never singe it. Pliny observes, nothing will so soon quench fire as salt and blood: the salt tears of repentance and the blood of Christ will quench the fire of hell, so that it shall never kindle upon you.