Dr. Mike Johnston
With exegesis as our goal, we study context and discover truth. It now becomes incumbent upon the student to examine this truth under the following three hermeneutic premises.
First, the Grammatical Premise
- Scripture with one meaning can provide many applications
- Take Scripture as normal language; “plain sense of the language”
- Interpret words and Bible Books in light of the author’s times
- Interpret according to the context
- If an inanimate object describes a living being — then it’s figurative
- If an expression is out of character with the thing described — it’s figurative
- Parables are heavenly stories earthly meanings. Many on “Christian” television assign meanings to them the Lord never intended which causes deception in the church
- Prophetic statements are to be taken literally and normally — unless the context compels otherwise
Second, the Historical Premise
- Interpret in light of Biblical historical context
- Revelation is basically Jewish and is progressive; later revelation explains earlier
- Events of history become spiritual truths only if Scripture designates
Third, the Theological Premise
- Any text without a context is a pretext
- Scripture must be understood grammatically before it can be interpreted theologically
- A doctrine is not Biblical unless it sums up all that Scripture says (The Old Scofield Bible offers many of these doctrinal summaries making for great study)
- No contradictions in Scripture
- An implied teaching must have support in another passage
- If a verse seems to contradict established truth, the passage must be contextually evaluated to be rightly understood (this is where cults become egregious)
Dr. Mike Johnston
Beginning with the Abrahamic Covenant, five Covenants tell the story of Israel. While scant numbers of Bible students have stopped to realize this, fewer have really factored in just what this means. Below is a summary of the five covenants and their relationship to the coming King and Kingdom in Israel.
The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15; 17:1-8) – the Kingdom Family is Chosen
“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates … And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after” (Genesis 15:18; 17:7). 
This Covenant is the foundation of all 5 Covenants. In seed form, it provided blessing for the nation Israel from which the Kingdom would come. By divine decree, Abraham received posterity, prosperity, perpetuity, and property which included the title deed to the land of Canaan, future home of the earthly kingdom. The blessing of Israel to the world notwithstanding, Christianity owes everything to this Covenant. The prophets of God, the majority of writers of the inerrant Word (the Bible), and foremost on the list our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ have all come through God’s Covenant with Abraham.
While Israel has violated this Covenant with Abraham many times, it has never been revoked. It played a major prophetic role in Christ’s first coming (Luke 1:72; Acts 3:24-25) and has often served as the basis for God rescuing Israel. “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:40-42) (see Ezekiel 16:60)
The Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 20:1 – 31:18) – the Kingdom Nation is Assembled and its Laws are Enacted
Kingdom Laws written on tables of stone will during the Kingdom be written in the fleshly tables of the heart.
Abraham believed God which was imputed to him for righteousness. The Law was given through Moses as its mediator for the purpose of governing Israel’s (national) relationship with God. It was mainly made up of (a) the commandments, the express will of God, (b) the judgments, the social and civic life of Israel, (c) and the ordinances. This system ceased when the mystery Body convened and the Temple was destroyed. Once the mystery church is taken in the mystery rapture, Daniel’s seventieth week will begin and this legal system will again be in place and the third temple will be rebuilt to host sacrificial Levitical Judaism (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:4).
The Land Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10) – the Kingdom Land is Guaranteed
It is an unconditional guarantee that Israel’s Kingdom will be located in the Covenant land of Israel. This is a great assurance given the aggressive actions by the UN and Islamic nations who are trying to steal Jerusalem from Israel (study Zech. 12-14).
“And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:5-9).
Israel was driven from Jerusalem in 70 AD by Roman armies destroying the city and the Temple. In the latter days God promises to restore her to the land and the commensurate blessing given Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the original Covenant (see Deut. 4:30-31; Lev. 26:42; Ezek. 16:60; etc). We see this fulfillment in Israel becoming a nation once again on May 14, 1948. Praise the Lord!
The Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:4-16; 1 Chron. 17:3-15) – the Kingdom and the King’s seed are established in Perpetuity
God promised David in perpetuity that his seed – ultimately the Lord Jesus – would occupy a perpetual throne in Jerusalem.
“(David) He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. (2 Samuel 7:13-16)
The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-40) – the Kingdom people in their Kingdom land, with the King on the throne obeyed from Kingdom Laws now written on the heart
It is a New Covenant with Israel in contrast with the old (Mosaic, “which they broke,” Jer. 31:32). Christ Jesus is the Mediator (in His blood) of this New Covenant which was inaugurated at the cross and is described in Scripture as, “enacted on better promises” (Heb. 8:6). The Mediator of this covenant has become, for all mankind, “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9) to all who obey Him; as well as the cornerstone and Head of the Church (Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23) which is being built during this dispensation; individuals called out from both Jews and Gentiles alike. Ultimately and literally, this new covenant with its unconditional and eternal blessings will be established with NATIONAL Israel at Christ’s second advent to earth. Now before discussing His second advent, let’s discuss His first.
 The strength of this Covenant brought the Lord to Israel’s rescue many times in history: And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
(Exodus 2:24; see Lev. 26:42, 45, etc). Once again, the Covenant is the hope of Israel’s future: I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant (Ezek. 16:60; everlasting covenant is also referred to in Psa. 105:10; Isa. 24:5; 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 37:26; Heb. 13:20).
THE GLOBAL WARMING SCHEME
New Evidence Debunks Manmade Global Warming
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Global warming is an elaborately contrived scheme perpetrated by Al Gore and the leaders of the New World Order (NWO) who have banded together to control society through crisis management while enriching themselves along the way. Please take note from the following Wikipedia comments that the bottom line (as in the 2008 election) is change [Dr. Mike’s comments are in brackets]:
Crisis management is the process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization [in this instance the world], its stakeholders, or the general public. Three elements are common to most definitions of crisis: (a) a threat to the organization [or the world], (b) the element of surprise [we haven’t planned for this], and (c) a short decision time [FEMA control]. Certain politicians and scientists now argue that “crisis is a process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained.” Therefore the fourth defining quality is the need for change [conformity to NWO ideals].
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul warns that any society rejecting the Creator will become a society that worships the creation: Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things (Romans 1:22-23). Nowhere is this more evident than with the prevaricators of global warming who claim scientific consensus that the earth is becoming increasingly hotter and man is to blame for it. But is this really the view held by science? No it is not as Philip Stott, Professor of Biogeography, University of London warns:“The attempts of environmentalists to bolster the myth of human-induced global warming is downright immoral.”
World Net Daily reported the following: A scientist whose reservations about “global warming” have been officially endorsed by tens of thousands of other scientists is accusing the U.N. of using “mob rule” to generate fear-mongering climate change reports intended to scare national leaders into submitting to its worldwide taxation schemes.
“Science has always progressed on the basis of observations, experiments, and thoughts published by individual scientists and sometimes pairs or small groups of scientific coworkers; except at the U.N.” said Art Robinson, a research professor of chemistry and co-founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, said in a recent column in Human Events.
Robinson’s concern over the political manipulation of science earlier led him to launch the Petition Project, a compilation of more than 31,000 scientists – with more names arriving daily – who have voluntarily signed their names to the following statement:
“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”
Here are additional facts globalists were hoping you never read.
New research from one of the world’s most prestigious scientific organizations indicates that cosmic rays and the sun — not manmade carbon emissions — are the major factors influencing global climate.
“The science is now all-but-settled on global warming, convincing new evidence demonstrates, but Al Gore, the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) and other global warming doomsayers won’t be celebrating,” writes Lawrence Solomon, executive director of Energy Probe, in Canada’s Financial Post.
“The new findings point to cosmic rays and the sun — not human activities — as the dominant controller of climate on Earth.”
The findings, published in the journal Nature, come from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest centers for scientific research involving 60 countries and 8,000 scientists at more than 600 universities and national laboratories, according to Solomon.
CERN — the organization that invented the World Wide Web — built a stainless steel chamber that precisely re-created the Earth’s atmosphere.
“In this chamber, 63 CERN scientists from 17 European and American institutes have done what global warming doomsayers said could never be done — demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that in Earth’s atmosphere can grow and seed clouds.” And the cloudier it is, the cooler it will be, Solomon notes.
“Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach Earth’s atmosphere (the stronger the sun’s magnetic field, the more it shields Earth from incoming cosmic rays from space), the sun determines the temperature on Earth.”
So when the sun’s magnetic field is strongest, fewer cosmic rays impact the Earth, which in turn leads to decreased cloud formation and warmer temperatures.
The link between cosmic rays and global warming was first proposed by two Danish scientists in 1996, and was immediately denounced by the IPCC.
But CERN scientist Jasper Kirkby, a British experimental physicist, accepted the Danes’ theory. He told the scientific press in 1998 that it “will probably be able to account for somewhere between half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century.”
It took Kirkby nearly 10 years to convince the CERN bureaucracy to proceed with his plan to create the chamber that replicates the Earth’s atmosphere and has produced the recent results.
But CERN “remains too afraid of offending its government masters to admit its success,” observes Solomon, author of “The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud.”
CERN told Kirkby and his team to downplay the results by stating “that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.”
Solomon concludes: “CERN, and the Danes, have in all likelihood found the path to the Holy Grail of climate science. But the religion of climate science won’t yet permit a celebration of the find.”
 Here’s the ponzi portion: First, Gore sets up a company that will invest in other companies that will benefit from global warming alarmism; Second, Gore gets some Hollywood types to fund and produce a movie designed to scare the c-c-carbon out of the population; Third, Gore travels the world promoting this movie, while pushing the view that a cataclysm is imminent if the world doesn’t immediately act; Fourth, an adoring media falls for the con hook, line, and sinker. Rather than debunking the flaws in the theories, the media promote every word of it while advancing the concept that Gore’s views represent those of an overwhelming majority of scientists; Fifth, scared governments and citizens across the globe invest in alternative energy programs driving up the shares of companies Gore’s group has already invested in; Sixth, Gore and his cronies make billions as they laugh all the way to the bank at the stupidity of their fellow citizens
What we do with Christ in this life determines what He will do with us in the next life!!
Choose wisely, Christ as Saviour and Lord!
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Don’t be fooled by secular American historical revisionists. These are the real religious sentiments as quoted by our Founders.
James Madison’s defense of religious freedom began when he stood with his father outside a jail in the village of Orange and heard Baptists preach from their cell windows.
What was their crime?
They were unlicensed–preaching religious opinions not approved by the government.
Madison wrote on the fate of Baptist ministers to William Bradford, JANUARY 24, 17 74:
“There are at this time in the adjacent Culpeper County not less than 5 or 6 well meaning men in jail for publishing their religious sentiments which in the main are very orthodox.”
On October 31, 1785, James Madison introduced in the Virginia Legislature a Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship, passed 1789.
James Madison assisted George Mason in his drafting of Article 16 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, ratified June 12, 1776:
“That Religion, or the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence;
and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience,
and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.”
The phrase “Christian forbearance” is in contrast to other ideologies, including apartheid, atheistic communism, state-enforced secularism or sharia Islam.
James Madison wrote in Religious Freedom-A Memorial and Remonstrance, June 20, 1785:
“It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be acceptable to Him …
Much more must every man who becomes a member of any particular civil society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign.
We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of civil society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance …”
“Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.
If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered …
‘The equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience’ is held by the same tenure with all our other rights.”
James Madison sought George Mason’s advice, as he commented to Jefferson in 1783:
“I took Colonel Mason in my way and had an evening’s conversation with him … on the article of convention for revising our form of government, he was sound and ripe and I think would not decline participation in such a work.”
Another Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention was Edmund Randolph, who wrote of the plans for the new government: “those proposed by George Mason swallowed up all the rest.”
Though George Mason was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he refused to sign the U.S. Constitution because it did not put enough limits on the new Federal Government, stating:
“There is no declaration of rights, and the laws of the general government being paramount to the laws and constitution of the several states, the declarations of rights in the separate states are no security.”
George Mason proposed a list of Amendments to handcuff the government’s power, giving rise to his title ‘Father of the Bill of Rights.’
George Mason’s suggested wording of what would be the First Amendment was:
“That Religion or the Duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or violence,
and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable Right to the free Exercise of Religion according to the Dictates of Conscience,
and that no particular religious Sect or Society of Christians ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others.”
George Mason’s role was acknowledged by Jefferson, April 3, 1825:
“The fact is unquestionable, that the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of Virginia, were drawn originally by George Mason, one of our greatest men, and of the first order of greatness.”
With inspiration from George Mason, James Madison introduced his wording for the First Amendment, June 7, 1789:
“The Civil Rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, nor on any pretext infringed.”
James Madison entered in his journal, June 12, 1788:
“There is not a shadow of right in the general government to inter-meddle with religion … The subject is, for the honor of America, perfectly free and unshackled. The government has no jurisdiction over it.”
James Madison stated in his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1809:
“To avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience or the function of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction.”
In proclaiming the U.S. should take possession of the land east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mississippi Territory extending to Perdido River, President Madison wrote, October 27, 1810:
“The good people inhabiting the same are…under full assurance that they will be protected in the enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion.”
When the War of 1812 began with Britain, James Madison proclaimed a National Day of Public Humiliation and Prayer, July 9, 1812:
“I … recommend the third Thursday of August … for … rendering the Sovereign of the Universe … public homage … that He would inspire all … with a reverence for the unerring precept of our holy religion, to do to others as they would require that others should do to them.”
After the British burned the U.S. Capitol, James Madison proclaimed a National Day of Fasting, November 16, 1814:
“I … recommend … a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering … their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance.”
When the War of 1812 ended, James Madison proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving, March 4, 1815:
“To the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil …
I now recommend … the people of every religious denomination … unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage … and of their songs of praise.”
James Madison ended his 7th Annual Message, December 5, 1815:
“… to the goodness of a superintending Providence, to which we are indebted … to cherish institutions which guarantee their safety and their liberties, civil and religious.”
James Madison wrote to Edward Everett, 1823:
“That there has been an increase of religious instruction since the revolution can admit of no question.
The English Church was originally the established religion … Of other sects there were but few adherents, except the Presbyterians who predominated on the west side of the Blue Mountains. A little time previous to the Revolutionary struggle, the Baptists sprang up, and made very rapid progress.”
“Among the early acts of the Republican Legislature, were those abolishing the Religious establishment, and putting all sects at full liberty and on a perfect level.
At present the population is divided, with small exceptions, among the Protestant Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, the Baptists and the Methodists … I conjecture the Presbyterians and Baptists to form each about a third, and the two other sects together of which the Methodists are much the smallest, to make up the remaining third …
Among the other sects, Meeting Houses have multiplied and continue to multiply … Religious instruction is now diffused throughout the Community by Preachers of every sect with almost equal zeal…”
“The qualifications of the Preachers, too among the new sects where there is the greatest deficiency, are understood to be improving.
On a general comparison of the present and former times, the balance is certainly and vastly on the side of the present, as to the number of religious teachers the zeal which actuates them, the purity of their lives and the attendance of the people on their instructions.”
James Madison wrote to Frederick Beasley, November 20, 1825:
“The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the World and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources.”
Bishop William Meade, whose father had been an aide-de-camp to George Washington’s aides during the Revolution, wrote in Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1857, Vol. II, p. 99-100):
“Madison on the subject of religion … was never known to declare any hostility to it. He always treated it with respect, attended public worship in his neighborhood, invited ministers of religion to his house, had family prayers on such occasions.”
James Madison had Presbyterian ministers preach at his Montpelier estate, such as Samuel Stanhope Smith and Nathaniel Irwin, of whom he wrote:
“Praise is in every man’s mouth here for an excellent discourse he this day preached to us.”
Madison reportedly met with Baptist preacher John Leland in Orange County, Virginia. Leland considered running for Congress, but when Madison promised to introduce an amendment protecting religious liberty, Leland persuaded Baptists to support him.
John Leland wrote in Rights of Conscience Inalienable, 1791:
“Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free.”
Presbyterian Rev. James Waddell preached in Charlottesville, Virginia, as attorney William Wirt wrote in 1795:
“Every heart in the assembly trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases that force of description that the original scene appeared to be, at that moment, acting before our eyes … The effect was inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.”
When Rev. James Waddell spoke at St. Thomas Anglican Church James Madison wrote praising his sermons:
“He has spoiled me for all other preaching.”
St. Thomas Anglican Church was built with help from Colonel James Taylor II, the great-grandfather of President James Madison and President Zachary Taylor.
In a National Proclamation of Public Humiliation and Prayer, July 23, 1813, James Madison explained:
“If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy of the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be … guided only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences …
proving that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, is freed from all coercive edicts.”
The following resources are provided by the PMI Center for Biblical Studies strictly for research purposes. We do NOT necessarily endorsement all the author teaches or represents. Resources may be used according to the copyright holder’s wishes.
Bible Wines – William Patton: http://pmiministries.com/Books/Bible_Wines_William_Patton.pdf
But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1)
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Amos warned about a coming spiritual famine involving God’s Word (Amos 8:11). Jesus warned about false prophets in the last days (Matt. 24:11, 24) to which Paul revealed as seducing spirits bringing doctrines of devils. To safeguard you against their intrusion, the PMI Center is proud to publish this booklet as part of our Sound Doctrine Series. We trust it will bless you.
by Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a great and powerful Christian preacher and intellectual. Some regard him as America’s original and most important philosophical theologian. Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Edwards delivered the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, a classic of early American literature, during another revival in 1741, following George Whitefield’s tour of the Thirteen Colonies. He was the grandfather of Aaron Burr, third Vice President of the United States.” Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” preached in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741, is a classic sermon every preacher in the world should be required to read. It remains Edwards’ most famous written work, and is widely studied both among American Christians and historians, due to the glimpse it provides into the theology of the Great Awakening of c. 1730–1755.
COLLATERAL READING ASSIGNMENT
This/these text(s) comprise part of your collateral reading requirements for your study track. Complete these assignments and return them as follows:
- Prepare a separate Title Page for text.
- Read text carefully. Take notes.
- What is the theme of this book? Explain in about 50-75 words how the author developed and/or proved the theme.
- Prepare 30 true and false questions 1/2 each on text.
- Prepare 10 substantive essay questions and answer them in at least 25 words.
- Write a 300-500 word summary of the text. Prepare a 10 word synopsis of your summary.
- Return all of the above including your notes to PMI.
SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD
Their foot shall slide in due time Deut. xxxii. 35
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 lxxiii. 18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.”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 ver. 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 doings, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.
- 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 lxxiii. 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 xiii. 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 iii. 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 viii. 23. “Ye are from beneath.” And thither be 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 xi. 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 perrnit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.
- 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. lvii. 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 a 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. ii. 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 subects of that 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 suddenly 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 the covenant.
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 band, 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 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 of 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. xx. 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 xii. 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 Isaiah lix. 18. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isaiah lxvi. 15. “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and wifh 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. xix. 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 must that 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. viii. 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,” Prov. i. 25, 26.
How awful are those words, Isa. lxiii. 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, vis. 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, Meshech, 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. ix. 22. “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endure 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. xxxiii. 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.”.
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. lxvi. 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 to-morrow 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 generally 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?
And let 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 harken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favours 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.”
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