On this page I will be featuring different books
and / or sermons throughout the year, that will help to strengthen us on our Spiritual journey.
Sins and National Judgments
A sermon by John Owen
Preached April 11, 1679.
"For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord,
to provoke the eyes of his glory. The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom,
they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves." - Isa. iii. 8, 9.
First, Here is a confluence of sins delighted in.
Secondly, Here is a concurrence of various judgments unregarded. In the ninth chapter of this
prophecy, the prophet enumerates, from the 13th verse to the end of the chapter, all sorts of judgments and indications
of the continuance of God's displeasure, concluding every one of them with this: "For all this his anger is not turned
away, but his hand is stretched out still;" and it will end in their utter destruction.
Thirdly, Here are the preparative causes of ruin, that which would dispose Jerusalem and Judah to ruin and destruction.
There are five of them reckoned up in this chapter:-
1. When God
takes away the good, the sober, the understanding part of a nation, and leaves a nation very thin of such kind of persons: Verses
1-3, "Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff,
the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and
the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer,
and the eloquent orator." When God makes a nation thin of such persons, it is a preparation and disposition to their
2. Weakness in their government is another preparation and disposition:
"And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them," verse 4.
3. Horrible disorder in the minds of men, and contempt of God's order, that should be among them:
"And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself
proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable," verse 5.
4. When there is great oppression and persecution: "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women
rule over them," verse 12. And what did they do? "Ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in
your houses. What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts," verses
5. And, lastly, there is horrible pride, and especially the pride
of vain and foolish women; which the prophet insists upon from verse 16 to the very last words of the chapter, and concludes,
"Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate
shall sit upon the ground."
This is the end of it all. So that you
have an account of what are those causes whereon God in his word doth pronounce cities and nations to be ruined and destroyed,
even then when they stand in their fullest security, in their own opinion.
the inquiry is, how those things are with us. I told you I would do no more than speak a word or two for the present occasion:
and I shall speak that which I do believe; and if you do so too, it may be it may be your mercy. But it is a hard thing to
believe London is ruined and England fallen, when we have peace and enjoy all things; but if we speak it in pride, it will
be harder how to avoid it.
First, Is there not a confluence of all sorts
of sins among us whereof mankind can contract guilt, especially of those sins upon the commission of which God pronounces
a nation ruined, - atheism and profaneness, blood and murder, adultery and uncleanness, and pride? When these sins are
predominant in a nation that makes profession of the knowledge of God, God himself saith, and we may say, that nation is ruined.
Those things have prevailed among us.
Then let us mourn over those sins
as we ought to do. Have we done so in this congregation? Hath it been done in any congregation in England as it ought? Hath
it been done in private, in our retirement, to mourn over that confluence of sins that hath prevailed and spread itself over
the nation till it hath reached to the very neck? We have not done it to this very day. There is not the least attempt for
any reformation. Do we think in such a day as this is a little prayer is enough to save a dying nation? There is nothing seriously
done to work that reformation without which London will be undone and England will fall, and there will be no deliverance.
It is all one whether you will believe it or no, but the word of God abides for ever.
Secondly, A concurrence of judgments was the second thing we showed you from the words, - a concurrence of judgments
unregarded; - a confluence of sins delighted in, and a concurrence of various judgments unregarded.
Judgments are of two sorts, - temporal and spiritual.
1. Temporal judgments are of two sorts. They are either monitory tokens of God's displeasure, or they are actual
punishments. All these various judgments have been upon us.
(1.) We have
had monitory tokens of God's displeasure: [1.] Signs in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; - things that ought not
to be despised. Our Saviour hath warned us to expect and look for them before the general dissolution. They have been monitory
judgments. [2.] God is making the nation thin of persons ancient, honourable, counsellors, the wise. He threatens to do this.
They are persons rarely to be found, who are the stay and staff of a nation. It is a monitory judgment, and so laid down by
the prophet. [3.] The strange and unaccountable differences and divisions that are in the minds and affections of men. Multitudes
in these nations stand at this day with their swords in their hands, ready to sheathe them in the bowels of their neighbours;
Ephraim against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim, - one part of the nation against another, and another against them,
ready to destroy one another. [4.] And, lastly, the warnings God hath given us of making us base and dishonourable, which
I will not insist upon. We have had these monitory judgments.
have had judgments which consist in punishments, - the plague, the fire, the sword, great distresses and poverty, that are
come upon the nation; enough to make the hearts of men to tremble, but that we are grown hard like the nethermost millstone,
and are sensible of nothing at all. I say these judgments and warnings of God are generally disregarded.
I would but ask two things, to see if by them we can evidence the contrary, notwithstanding
all the judgments that we talk of:-
[1.] Who is the man, where is the
person, that hath made any abatement in any thing of the world, - in love to the world, in conformity to the world, in the
pursuit of any lust? Show me the man who, upon the account of these judgments in the world, hath made any abatement.
[2.] Show me the person who can by experience show that he hath by fear been moved to
provide an ark for himself and family, any other ark besides present circumstances, - so much wealth, enjoyment, peace and
quiet? Who is the person that hath provided an ark for himself and his family? Let us talk what we will, unless we make a
visible abatement in conformity to the world, and labour to provide an ark, we disregard the judgments of God.
2. There are spiritual judgments also; and they are found among us, - (1.) In God's taking
from us so many faithful labourers in the dispensation of the gospel, in the midst of their days and strength, as he hath
done of late years in this nation. (2.) And in driving the remnant of his faithful ministers, many of them, into corners,
where they are not able to serve the interest of Christ and the nation by promoting and furthering its return unto God: and
thereby that which would have been the greatest mercy that the nation can be partaker of, the greatest means of the preservation
of it and deliverance from ruin, is made the greatest means of the restraining and shutting up their ministerial abilities
and graces; which I shall not now enlarge upon. (3.) There is another part of these spiritual judgments, and that is the general
security that is come upon all sorts of men, according to the variety of their degrees, in being overtaken with the present
temptations of the day. These judgments are upon us unregarded.
Another thing in the text is the preparation and disposition that are in a nation to ruin. But I shall not speak unto them;
they are visible and known unto all.
But you will say, ‘When God
doth thus in his word declare that a nation is fallen and ruined by such causes, is there no hope but that it must be ruined,
that destruction must overtake it?'
I answer, - 1. There is no hope at
all while that place, that nation, continues in those ways and sins whereby God declares that they are ruined. A nation cannot
be saved abiding in those ways which are the causes of its ruin, which God declares to be the causes of it. And let men have
what expectations they will, please themselves as they will, I neither can desire nor will look for deliverance for a nation
while it continues in those sins against which God pronounces judgments.
I do acknowledge it is frequent with God to declare a nation ruined with respect of merit, and yet to prevent their ruin with
respect to the event. They may be delivered from that state and condition, and so be saved. The case is stated, Jer.
xviii. 7, 8, "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom to pluck up and pull down,
and to destroy it: if that, nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil. I will repent of the evil that I
thought to do unto them" God declares what they do deserve, but yet they may never feel it as to the event. Wherefore
it is not in vain that we have designed to seek the Lord this day. There is room yet left to deal with God about London, about
the nation, though plainly in the word they are declared to be under ruin.
it will have no success without these three things:-
1. That there be
a visible reformation, - I will not say a conversion, but a visible reformation, - vigorously attempted in and upon the body
of the people.
2. Unless those who truly fear the Lord do mourn over the
sins of the people continually. And, -
3. Unless they are fervent in their
prayers for their deliverance.
It doth not stand with the honour of God,
the glory of his righteousness, holiness, word, and truth, to save this nation without these things; - without an attempt
at visible reformation of the body of the people; without his own people mourn over the ins of the nation, and abide in fervent
prayer for that end. Without these, as Jeremiah the prophet told the Jews, chap. xxxvii. 10, "Though ye had smitten
the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise
up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire;" So I say of our Chaldeans at this day: If half of them were
executed, and the other half wounded, they should rise up and smite this city, unless we turn thus unto God.
We are called to consider the sins of the nation, and to deplore its state and condition
upon the account of those sins. That is our present work; and these plain things God hath directed me unto from the reading
of these words.
I will add a little more, for the further opening of the
words. There is in them a summary declaration of the causes of this state and condition: "Because," saith he, "their
tongue and, their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. You may range all sins under these two heads
- men's tongues and their doings; for their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord.
There is a particularly ruining provocation, when men set their tongues against the Lord. It
a great sign, of he approaching, ruin of a people and nation when men set their tongues against the Lord. He puts a special
mark upon that. I shall only name the things whereby men set their tongues against the Lord, keeping themselves to that one
thing, by such ways as will certainly prove ruining.
There are these ways
whereby men set their tongues against the Lord:-
1. By blasphemy. And
thereof there are two branches:- (1.) Cursed oaths; (2.) Atheistical discourses. Whether they are found among us or no let
every one judge as he hath experience.
Men set their tongues against the
Lord especially by blaspheming the Spirit of Christ and the gospel. I do acknowledge that this is a sin which our Lord Jesus
Christ as it were separates from all other sins, reserving it unto spiritual and eternal judgment; but it hath influence also
on temporal judgments.
2. By mocking at all those judgments: "Where
is the promise of his coming?" where is this talk that hath been among the prophets, among professors, for so many years,
of judgment coming? "for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were." They scoff at the word
of God with reproachful terms.
When these are the things whereby men's
tongues are set against God (I do not speak of the sins of the tongue in general, but of those sins whereby the tongue is
peculiarly set against God), we shall do well to inquire whether any such things are found among us or no.
This comprises the whole remainder of outward sins against the Lord. I shall not need
to speak unto them; I shall only touch upon the aggravations:-
first aggravation of these sins, that makes them ruinous, is when they rise to such a degree as that they are a "provocation
unto the eyes of God's glory."
The "eyes of God's glory"
intend two things, - First and principally, His holiness: "He is of purer eyes than to behold evil," Hab. i.
13. The eyes of God's glory are the purity of his holiness. Secondly, God's omnisciency and omnipresency. His eyes are not
eyes of flesh. He sees and knows all things by the infinite immensity of his own presence. Sins committed in an especial manner
against the eyes of God's glorious holiness and his omnisciency will always have special influence into the ruin of Jerusalem
and of Judah.
What are the sins that have a special opposition unto the
eyes of God's glory as it denotes his holiness? I answer, -
of uncleanness, - adultery, fornication. Uncleanness is in a peculiar manner opposed unto the holiness of God. We are to inquire
whether there have been any overspreading of such abominations in the nation wherein we live. If there have, there have been
provocations unto the eyes of God's glory. Every impure lust in the heart is provoking to the eyes of God's glory; every uncleanness
wherewith the land is defiled, upon this account, because of its contradiction unto the pure and holy nature of God, is provoking
unto the eyes of God's glory.
2. When men are bold in sin, - which brings
along with it contempt of God's omnisciency and omnipresency, - it is a provocation unto the eyes of God's glory.
There are two ways whereby men do manifest themselves bold in their sins; and they are
both mentioned in the text:- (1.) By appearing under all demonstrations of outward pride, while they are filled with inward
filth and laden with guilt; a thing that God doth greatly abhor. "The show of their countenance doth witness against
them." We live in days wherein the nation is overwhelmed with the guilt of sin, and full of all manner of iniquities
and defilements. They do compose all their garbs and ways unto pride. And, (2.) They reject the ways of God. They contemn
God and man when they have all that guilt upon them.
3. The last aggravation
whereby men provoke the eyes of God's glory is when they declare their sin as Sodom."
How is it to "declare their sin as Sodom?" (1.) When men will confer and talk together about the vilest
sins and wickednesses. So did they in Sodom; they got together to act wickedness. Time was when profaneness and atheism were
not grown to that boldness as now they are. They covered their sin. But now men and women will consult together, talk and
advise together, about their sins, how and what way they shall commit them. (2.) When they will come unto that impudence,
not only to confer about their sins, but so as to make them a scoffing and a laughing matter.
Let us consider whether there be not those abominations among us against which the wrath of God is revealed from
heaven. These are the aggravations the prophet gives of the sins of Jerusalem and of Judah, upon the account whereof he pronounces
the one to be "ruined," and the other to be "fallen" from her strength and beauty. The judgment he passes
upon all is, "Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves."
I shall close all with a word or two of use:-
First, If this
be the deplorable state and condition of the nation wherein we live, let us endeavour, by all ways and means that lie in us,
to retrieve the nation out of this state and condition, every one acting unto the utmost of his power to turn men from their
evil ways, that God may repent him of the evil that he hath purposed against this nation.
Secondly, If they will not be healed, let our souls mourn in secret for them, and let us do something to help
the poor dying nation. There is not one of you but may do much towards the saving, of this nation, by mourning in secret because
of the abominations that are committed in it, whereby we have provoked the eyes of God's glory.
Thirdly, Take heed that we do not partake in any of their sins, that we make no approach unto them,
lest we partake of their plagues There is no greater duty incumbent at this day on persons that fear God than this one, to
be cautious of making approaches towards any persons or people against whom God hath declared that he hath a controversy with
Fourthly, Prepare to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments.
God is righteous in all his ways, when he shall bring the scourge upon the nation, and it "shall be spoiled as Shalman
spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle," Hos. x. 14.
Give glory unto him for all the appearances of sovereign grace and mercy in preserving this nation from that late horrid design
and plot, which might have swallowed us up unless God himself had immediately interposed.
There are three or four things I would mention, that I have upon my thoughts:-
1. The open discovery of the profaneness and villany of their hearts, in striving to hide from God and man the wickedness
they had contrived, by adding a new wickedness unto it, which they had not thought of, - the murdering of that innocent person.411 God
left them to discover the wickedness and profaneness of their hearts, that they would cover one sin with another, and God
should not look through it.
2. The wisdom and justice of God, in making
that which they concluded the means of hiding their plot from the eyes of men prove upon the matter the means of discovering
it unto all men. They behaved themselves subtilely, but the hand of God was upon them; there was "digitus Dei" plainly
in the case. Their great design was, by the murder of that gentleman to conceal all. Saith God,' I will discover all by the
murder of that person.'
3. See the hand and glory of God in this also.
You are directed unto it this day, that though their wickedness and malice continue, God hath taken away their hearts. If
wisdom and courage had not been taken from them, they might have ruined this nation; but God hath taken away their hearts,
and so long we shall be safe enough.
4. In this glorious act of God there
is a spirit poured out upon the commonalty of this nation above their light and above their principles; which is the
immediate hand of God: for every man's spirit follows his light and principles, but here it is beyond their light and principles.
Therefore glorify God in this, and let it encourage us to be instant in prayer day and night for this poor nation, the laud
of our nativity.
The Separation of the Righteous from the Wicked!
William Nicholson, 1862
"When the Son of Man
comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered
before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the
goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left!" Matthew 25:31-33
There are three important days in the existence of man:
the day of his birth,
day of his death, and
the day when he shall be judged.
At the day of his birth he commences an immortal existence; he enters on a career which will be
lengthened out through an endless eternity.
At the day of his death,
his seed-time, his probation, and all his works shall end; his body shall return to the dust, and his soul pass into the world
At the day of judgment, all his thoughts,
motives, and actions, will be scrutinized by the great Arbiter of life and death, and the character of them will decide his
everlasting destiny. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due
him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad!" 2 Corinthians 5:10
I. The Great and Solemn Convention. "All the nations will be gathered before
The time when this convention shall take place. "When the Son of man shall come in his glory."
The day of judgment - the grand assize of the world - the day when the present dispensation
shall close - when time shall stop, and eternity begin. The day of rapture to the holy - but the day of overwhelming terror
to the ungodly.
2. The grand appearance of the Judge.
He will be invested with all the prerogatives necessary for judging the world. The Majesty
of Christ in this respect will be sublimely conspicuous. "He shall come in his glory."
Here he appeared once as the "Son of man," in human flesh, suffered contempt, laceration,
and death from man. He suffered from the time of becoming the "Babe of Bethlehem," until, as the "Man of sorrows,"
he was made perfect through sufferings on the cross.
But now, O how changed!
He now comes as the Son of God. "He shall come in his glory" - the glory of the Godhead and the glory of
the Mediator combined. He will take the clouds for his chariot; he will come "in the clouds with power and great glory."
Compared with his power - the power of all earthly
monarchs is but the power of the moth! And compared with his glory - the splendor of regal pomp is but the glimmering
light of the glow-worm!
He shall come with the glory of Omnipotence.
That power which he employed to create the universe - he shall bring with him to punish his foes.
He shall come with all the glory of his perfections shining brighter than ten thousand
suns. With the glory of his spotless and exalted humanity, and with all the glorious majesty of his divinity. Psalm 50:3,
The attendants at his coming will be glorious. "And all the
holy angels with him." An innumerable multitude of celestial spirits will grace his train, and perform his will.
This appearance will be judicial. "Then he will sit on his throne
in heavenly glory." May form some idea of this glorious throne by referring to Ezekiel 1:26-28; Isaiah 6:1-4; Daniel
The nations of the earth shall be gathered before him, or his
bar. It will be a judicial throne.
3. The Assembly.
"All the nations will be gathered before him!" What a vast assembly!
(1.) They will be raised from the dead, preparatory to the final separation. John 5:28, 29.
The earth and the ocean "will give up the dead which are in them."
Every grave will open, its dust be reanimated, and living forms be seen rising
from its dark chambers, over all the surface of the globe.
also, which has engulfed its myriads, shall give up its dead.
those still alive will undergo, substantially, the same great change as those who have been dead, and both will be
invested with incorruptible and immortal bodies. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the globe will be re-peopled, and
the whole family of Adam, with their progenitor at their head, will stand up together, to be conducted to the bar of Christ,
who will then be recognized as "God the Judge of all."
This convention, or gathering, will be effected by the ministration of angels. See Matthew 13:41; 24:31; Mark 13:27. They
will be irresistibly gathered. All resistance will be vain. All attempts at concealment will be futile. Job 34:22;
(3.) This convention will be numerous. "All
the nations will be gathered before him!"
There will be characters
of all descriptions:
There will be people of all ages:
There will be inhabitants of every nation, kindred, and tongue:
with the Gospel;
those who have despised and neglected it.
"all nations," all the inhabitants of the world, from Adam to his last-born son, shall be gathered before the throne!
'Tis here all meet!
The shivering Icelander - and sunburnt Moor;
Men of all
climes that never met before,
And of all creeds - the Jew, the Turk, the Christian;
proud prince, and favorite - yet prouder,
His sovereign's keeper, and the people's scourge,
The hard oppressor
- and the slave oppressed:
The warrior stern, who fought on fields of blood
To gain an empty fame. The wily statesman,
The unjust judge, must stand before the bar!
The widow and the orphan will be there.
The just, the good - the
worthless, and profane,
The downright pauper - and perfectly well-bred,
The fool, the churl, the scoundrel, and
The people of all nations must stand there!
the concourse then to be assembled! "All the nations will be gathered before him!" There is something overwhelming
in gazing on large and assembled multitudes. A peculiar sensation must be excited in witnessing a numerous army, equipped
and ready for battle. How appropriate the language of the prophet Joel! (3:12-15)
Dr. Dick makes a calculation as to the probable number of the beings who shall stand at the bar of judgment at the
last day. The following paragraph is an abridgment of his calculation:
the earth, at an average, has always been as populous as it is now, and that it contains 8 hundred millions inhabitants, and
if we reckon 32 years for a generation, at the end of which period the whole human race is renewed; it will follow that 146
billion, 200 million, of human beings have existed since the creation, reckoning 5846 years from Adam to the present time.
Had mankind never died, there would have been nearly 183 times the present number of the earth's inhabitants now in existence.
If we suppose that before the close of time as many human beings will be brought into existence, as have already existed in
past time, there will be found at the general resurrection, 292,400,000,000 - or 292 billion, 400 million, of mankind.
[COUNTING TO A BILLION. What is a billion? The reply is very simple: a million times a
million. This is quickly written, and quicker still pronounced. But no man is able to count it. You count 160 or
170 a minute; even suppose that you count as fast as 200, then an hour will produce 12,000; a day 288,000; and a year, or
365 days, 105,120,000.
Let us suppose now, that Adam at the beginning of his existence had begun to count, had continued
to do so, and was counting still - he would not even now, according to the usually supposed age of our globe, have counted
enough. For to count a billion, he would require 9512 years, 34 days, 5 hours, 20 minutes, according to the above rule. Now
supposing we were to allow the poor counter twelve hours daily for rest, eating, and sleeping - he would need 19,024 years,
69 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes!]
Oh think of this vast convention
of immortal beings, compared with which the armies of Waterloo, or those of Xerxes, are but a speck! Think of them all before
the throne of the Son of Man, ready to be separated and judged!
The Momentous Separation and Its Consequences. "And he will separate the people one from another as
a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left!"
1. He will separate them into two classes - the righteous
and the wicked, saints and sinners. "And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked,
between those who serve God and those who do not!" Malachi 3:18
two classes are figuratively represented . . .
the righteous--and the wicked,
the pure grain--and the chaff,
the wheat--and the tares,
This latter emblem is very expressive.
Sheep, which have ever been considered as the emblems of mildness, simplicity, patience,
and gentleness - represent the genuine disciples of Christ.
which are naturally quarrelsome, lascivious, and excessively ill-scented, were considered as the symbols of riotous, profane,
and impure men. They here represent all who have lived and died in their sins. "I will judge between one sheep and another,
and between rams and goats!" Ezekiel 34:17
SEPARATION implies previous
union, or at least association. So the righteous and the wicked necessarily mingle together in this world, through
secular engagements, family and relative ties, citizenship, etc. - but they shall be separated then. The wicked,
actuated by impure motives, now often break through the sacred inclosure of the Church, having only the mask of profession;
but then the goats shall be separated from the sheep - the mere pretender from the Israelite indeed.
2. This separation will be exact. Though the multitude will be so vast
- yet the character of each will be detected with the greatest precision. Every thought, desire, motive, and action
will be known to the infallible Judge. What less than omnipotence and omniscience can effect such a separation of the whole
There will be no mistake of character.
3. This separation will be complete and just. There
will be no partiality. He will make the separation in righteousness, according to his perfect law of equity. Isaiah 11:4,
5; Acts 17:31.
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever
a man sows - that shall he reap!"
The judgment will be so complete,
that all will acknowledge the justice displayed in the separation.
the righteous, the separation will harmonize with their renewed and glorified natures.
To the wicked it will appear as the consequences of their willful rebellion. On earth they could not from the heart
associate with the godly and engage in their services, and the same aversion will exist at the judgment-day, and they will
therefore feel that they ought to be separated.
4. This separation
will be to many most surprising, degrading, and mortifying!
the proud and wealthy will be humbled and brought down. Men of talent and genius, "wise men after the flesh," who
received the applause of the multitude, will descend from their pinnacle of glory - to contempt and infamy, and see the poor
despised Christian infinitely exalted above them!
Kings and princes,
who were here flattered and idolized by their courtiers, and feared by the millions whom they governed with cruel and despotic
sway - will then find their power and splendor, the pride of distinction, and the incense of homage, forever fled - and themselves
degraded lower than the poorest slave who trembled under their frown, was in this world; while probably that poor wretch was
saved, and has now cast off his degradation, and risen to distinction and glory inexpressible.
Then the warrior, the conqueror, the spoiler, the murderer of men, and the plunderer of a world
- will find himself poorer than the poorest, himself conquered by his own fears and terrors, despised, powerless, sunk, and
miserable beyond conception!
Then the self-righteous will find his foundation
to be baseless, and incapable of sustaining his deathless spirit amid the fiery ordeal. He may have boasted loudly of his
works here - high may be his hopes, but he and the hypocrite, shall find their expectations dispersed like a vapor!
What mortification will the miser feel when he finds his gold so worthless!
What will the worldly objects and pursuits of the ambitious appear then!
How will the votary of of this world, and the lover of pleasure, find themselves undeceived
How will they who have rejected Christ, or denied
God's existence, open their eyes in astonishment! What surprise when they gaze on him, and hear him say, "But those
enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me!" Luke
Then there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth," such
as the world never saw, when the rich, the splendid, the refined, and the noble - behold the Christian pauper, the beggar,
and the slave, ready to "sit down in the kingdom of God, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - and themselves thrust out!"
5. This separation will, in many cases, be awfully affecting.
What a distinction will then be made in families! Then some parents will ascend
to glory everlasting, accompanied, in some cases, by one, two, three, or even by the whole offspring. But, awful thought!
some will be accompanied by none!
Some parents themselves will be left
behind, and with failing eyes, and bursting hearts, will follow their children rising to the heavens, and bidding them an
Brothers and sisters, mutually and tenderly beloved
here, will then be parted asunder to meet no more. Those who have believed will be borne on angels' wings to the celestial
temple; while those who have believed not will descend to the abodes of the lost.
Lover and friend, husband and wife, who have associated here most affectionately, and endearingly, will find themselves
then separated forever!
It will be the case too with ministers and their
hearers, with pastors and their flocks.
6. This separation will be eternal.
They shall be divided - and never come together again. Great has been the concern when a friend has left his home for foreign
service. Long may have been his tarrying away from his friends, but the hope of his return has cheered their hearts, and their
friend has returned at last to calm all their anxiety.
But this separation
will be forever! There will be no return from perdition; none from paradise, to any common center where parted friends may
This separation is not for one, two, or more years, but
forever! There will be an impassable gulf fixed. Luke 16:26.
word 'forever' breaks the heart!" Thomas Watson
1. What is your state now? As some
must then be separated to the right hand, and others to the left - what side do you occupy now?
2. Reconciliation to God through Christ, is the only preparation for the last day.
8. Woe unto the Christ-rejecters and undecided!
"It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment!" Hebrews 9:27
Sinners in the Hands of an
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
July 8, 1741
Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35
In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving
Israelites, who were God's visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God's wonderful
works towards them, remained (as vers 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of
heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. -- The expression I have
chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to
the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.
- That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places
is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented
by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 73:18. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction."
- It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks
in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the
next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18,19. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they
brought into desolation as in a moment!"
- Another thing implied is, that they are liable
to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks
on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
- That the reason
why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said,
that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to
fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but
will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery
declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.
The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. -- "There is
nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God." -- By the mere
pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered
by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever,
any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. -- The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.
- There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell
at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any
deliver out of his hands. -- He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes
an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and
has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is
any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate
themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities
of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the
earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when
he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke
the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?
- They deserve
to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using
his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their
sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth
it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary
mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.
- They are already under a sentence of condemnation
to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal
and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands
against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to
hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. "Ye are from beneath:" And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and
the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.
- They are now the objects of that very
same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they
do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them;
as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath.
Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are
now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it,
that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine
him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made
ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held
over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.
- The devil
stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him;
he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions
that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand,
by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for
them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and
- There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning,
that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very
nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power
in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful,
exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break
out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned
souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the
troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea,
saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining
power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature;
and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The
corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like
fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the
heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or
a furnace of fire and brimstone.
- It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there
are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does
not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger
in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is
no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world.
The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable.
Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so
weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day;
the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the
world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of
a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the
means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject
to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners
shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.
- Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not
secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this
clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some
difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and
unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. 2:16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."
- All wicked men's pains
and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain
wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that
he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what
he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and
flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there
are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines
that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of
torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as
not to fail.
But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves
in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater
part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and
it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well
for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected,
when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another
reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well
for myself -- I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look
for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief -- Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my
cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I
was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."
- God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell
one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from
eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the
promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not
the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of
So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended
about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural
man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep
him a moment from eternal destruction.
So that, thus it is that natural
men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it;
and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions
of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is
God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them,
the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own
hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be
any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the
mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.
The use of this awful subject may
be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are
out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful
pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon,
nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of
God that holds you up.
You probably are not sensible of this; you find
you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily
constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing;
if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person
that is suspended in it.
Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as
lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately
sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence,
and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than
a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear
you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your
corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does
not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon;
the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in
the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve
to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world
would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of
God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the
restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays
his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like
the chaff on the summer threshing floor.
The wrath of God is like great
waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given;
and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that
judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your
guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly
rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that
are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would
immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and
would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand
times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends
the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without
any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that
never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never
born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced
light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had
religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing
but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you
may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the
like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected
nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace
and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.
The God that
holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully
provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire;
he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the
most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince;
and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing
else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your
eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning,
but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat
here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there
is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless
pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much
against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing
about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to
lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done,
nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. -- And consider here more particularly,
- Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only
the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The
wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their
subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. 20:2. "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul."
The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human
art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength,
and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great
and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when
they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are
nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of
kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4,5. "And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that
they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast
into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
- It is the fierceness
of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isa. 59:18. "According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries." So Isa. 66:15. "For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with
fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of "the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The words are exceeding
terrible. If it had only been said, "the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which
is infinitely dreadful: but it is "the fierceness and wrath of God." The fury of God! the fierceness
of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also
"the fierceness and wrath of almighty God." As though there would be a very
great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should
be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh!
then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be
strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature
be sunk who shall be the subject of this!
Consider this, you
that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies,
that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment
to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into
an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten
his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your
welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer
beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. 8:18. "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in
mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them." Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy;
you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and
dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare.
God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will
be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath.
God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only "laugh and mock,"
How awful are those words, Isa. 63:3, which are the words of the great God. "I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their
blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." It is perhaps impossible to conceive
of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation.
If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or
favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of
omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush
out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only
hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden
down as the mire of the streets.
- The misery you
are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God
hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is.
Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute
on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing
to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery
furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of
fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful
majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. 9:22. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even
to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There
will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God
hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite
weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and
mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. 33:12-14. "And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear
ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness
hath surprised the hypocrites," etc.
Thus it will
be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of
the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the
presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious
inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the
Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. 66:23,24. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh
come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed
against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
- It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this
fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this
exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you,
which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance,
any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of
millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so
done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what
remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances
is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and
inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"
How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery!
But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober
and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think,
that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery
to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now
at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons,
promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation,
that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful
sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over
him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some
that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if
some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before
tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there
in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many
of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and
known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their
case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and
in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for
one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!
And now you have an extraordinary
opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice
to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from
the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a
happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood,
and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting,
while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for
sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious
as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?
Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from
the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath?
Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do
you not see how generality persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation
of God's mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and
wrath of the infinite God. -- And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy,
when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary
opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth
in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. -- And you, children, who are unconverted, do
not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day
and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted,
and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?
every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged,
or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the
Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden,
and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of
such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect
in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now
in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days;
the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this
day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish
that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist,
the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may
be hewn down and cast into the fire.
Therefore, let every one that is
out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great
part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape
to the mountain, lest you be consumed."