Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
~ 1 Peter 1:23-25
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
~ Revelation 6:10
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
~ Revelation 19:15
There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
~ Psalm 14:5
Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men. For they intended evil against thee: they imagined a mischievous device, which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.
~ Psalm 21:8-12
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
~ 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
~ Matthew 8:12
Showing the Miseries of the Unconverted, by Joseph Alleine. The following contains an excerpt from Chapter Five of his work, “Alarm to the Unconverted Sinners in a Serious Treatise”.
Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Chapter V — Showing the Miseries of the Unconverted.
So unspeakably dreadful is the case of every unconverted soul, that I have sometimes thought, if we could only convince men they are still unregenerate, the work on this matter would be done. But sadly, I experience that such a spirit of sloth and slumber 1 possesses the unsanctified, that though they are convinced they are still unconverted, yet they often carelessly sit still. Through the pursuit of sensual pleasures, or the hurry of worldly business, or the noise and clamour of earthly cares, lusts, and affections, Luk 8.14 the voice of conscience is drowned out. Men go no further than some cold wishes, and a general intent to repent and amend. Act 24.25
It is therefore highly necessary that I not only convince men they are unconverted, but also try to bring them to a sense of the fearful misery of this estate.
But here I find myself aground at the start. What tongue can sufficiently tell the heirs of hell about their misery if it were not Dives in that flame? Luk 16.24 Where is the ready writer whose pen can decypher the misery of those who are without God in the world? Eph 2.12 This cannot be fully done unless we knew the infinite ocean of bliss and perfection that is in God, which a state of sin excludes men from knowing. Who knows (says Moses) the power of your anger? Psa 90.11 How will I tell men what I don’t know? Yet the little we know, one would think, would shake the heart of a man who had the least degree of spiritual life and sense. But this is the more imposing difficulty: I am to speak to those who are without sense. Alas, this is not the least of man’s misery: he is dead, stark dead in trespasses and sins. Eph 2.1
If I could bring paradise into view, or present the kingdom of heaven as well as the tempter presented the kingdoms of the world and all their glory to our Saviour; or if I could disclose the face of the deep and devouring gulph of Tophet2 in all its terrors, and open the gates of the infernal furnace, alas, he has no eyes to see it! Matt 13.14-15 If I could vividly paint the beauties of holiness, or the glory of the gospel; or if I could bring into view the more than diabolical deformity and ugliness of sin, he could no more judge the loveliness and beauty of the one, nor the filthiness and hatefulness of the other, than a blind man could judge colours. He is alienated from the life of God through the ignorance brought on him by the blindness of his heart. Eph 4.18 He neither does, nor can he know the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned.1Cor 2.14 His eyes cannot be savingly opened except by converting grace.Act 26.18 He is a child of darkness, and he walks in darkness; 1Joh 1.6 indeed, the light in him is darkness.Mat 6.2-3
Will I ring his death-knell, or read his sentence, or sound in his ear the terrible trumpet of God’s judgments that (one would think) should make both his ears tingle, and throw him into a fit like Belshazzar’s 3 — even appall his face, and loosen his joints, and make his knees knock together? Yet, alas! he does not perceive me; he has no ears to hear.
Or will I call all the daughters of music to sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb? Still he would not be stirred. Will I allure him with the joyful sound, and lovely song, and glad tidings of the gospel? Or with the sweetest and most inviting calls, comforts, and cordials of the divine
1 Rom 11.8; Matt 13.15
2 KJV Isa 30:33 For Tophet (a burning place) is ordained of old; yes, for the king it is prepared; he has made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it. See also Jeremiah 7:31-32; 19:6,11-14.
3 Dan 5:6
promises that are so exceedingly great and precious? It will not savingly affect him unless I can find him ears,Mat 13.15 and not just tell him the news.
Will I set before him the feast of fat things, the wine of wisdom, the bread of God, the tree of life, or the hidden manna? He has no appetite for them, and no mind for them.1 If I were to press the choicest grapes, the heavenly clusters of gospel privileges, and afford him the richest wine of God’s own cellar, indeed, of Christ’s own side; Joh 19.34 or if I were to set before him the delicious honeycomb of God’s testimonies, Psa 19.10 alas! he has no taste to discern them. Will I invite the dead to rise and eat the banquet of their own funerals? Well, the dead in sin are no better able to savour the holy food with which the Lord of life has spread his table.
What then will I do? Will I burn the brimstone of hell at his nostrils? Or will I open the box of very precious nard that fills the whole house of this universe with its perfume,2 and hope that the savour of Christ’s ointment and the smell of his garments will attract him? Psa 45.8 Alas! Dead sinners are like dumb idols: they have mouths, but they don’t speak; they have eyes, but they don’t see; they have ears, but they don’t hear; they have noses, but they don’t smell; they have hands, but they don’t touch; they have feet, but they don’t walk, nor can they speak through their throat. Psa 115.5-7 They are destitute of all spiritual sense and motion.
But let me try the sense that leaves us last, and draw the sword of the Word. Yet lay into him as I will, even if I were to choose my arrows from God’s quiver, and direct them at his heart, nevertheless he does not feel it. How could he? He is past feeling! Eph 4.19 Even though the wrath of God abides on him, and he has the mountainous weight of thousands of sins upon him, still he goes up and down as light as if nothing ailed him. Rom 7.9 In a word, he carries a dead soul in a living body; his flesh is but the walking coffin of a corrupted mind that is twice dead,Jude 12 rotting in the slime and putrefaction of his nauseating lusts.Mat 23.27-28
Which way then will I come at the miserable objects with whom I have to deal? Who will make the heart of stone relent, Zec 11.12 or the lifeless carcass feel and move? It is God that is able to raise up children for Abraham out of stones,Mat 3.9 who raises the dead, 2Cor 1.9 and melts the mountains,Nah. 1.5 and brings water out of flintrock. Deu 8.15 He loves to work beyond the hopes and belief of man; he peoples his church with dry bones, and plants his orchard with dry sticks. He is able to do this. Therefore I bow my knee to the most high God. Eph 3.14
As our Saviour prayed at the sepulchre of Lazarus, Joh 11.38, 41 and as the Shunammite ran to the man of God for her dead child, 2Kng 4.25 so your mourning minister kneels around your graves, and carries you in the arms of prayer to that God in whom your help is found.
(O you all-powerful Jehovah, who works and none can stop you; who has the keys of hell and death;Rev 1.18 pity the dead souls who lie here entombed, and roll away the grave-stone, and say, as you said to Lazarus when he was already stinking, Come forth! Lighten this darkness O inaccessible light, and let the day-spring from on high visit the dark region of the dead to whom I speak: for you can open the eyes that death itself has closed: you who formed the ear, can restore the hearing: say to these ears, Ephphatha, and they will be opened. Give eyes to see your excellencies, a taste that may relish your sweetness, a scent that may savour your ointments, a feeling that may sense the privilege of your favour, the burden of your wrath, the intolerable weight of unpardoned sin; and command your servants to prophesy to the dry
1 1Cor 2.14; Mat 22.5 2 Mar 14.3; Joh 12.8
bones. And let the effects of this prophecy be as when your prophet prophesied the valley of dry bones into a living army, exceedingly great:
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones. He said to me,
Prophesy upon these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you will live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you; and you will live, and you will know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, ‘Thus says the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Eze 37.1, etc.)
But, as I am able, I must proceed now to unfold that misery which I confess, no tongue can unfold, no heart can sufficiently comprehend. Know, therefore, that while you are unconverted,
I. The infinite God is engaged against you.
It is no small part of your misery that you are without God. Eph 2.12 Micah ran crying after the Danites, You have taken away my gods, and what have I left? Jdg 18.23-24
Oh, what a mourning you must then lift up, you who are without God, who can lay no claim to him without daring to usurp! You may say of God as Sheba said of David, We have no part in David, nor have we an inheritance in the son of Jesse.2Sam. 20.1 What a pitiful and piercing moan is Saul’s extremity! The Philistines are upon me, and God has departed from me.1Sam 28.15 Sinners, what will you do in the day of his visitation? Where will you flee for help? Where will you leave your riches? Isa 10.3 What will you do when the Philistines are upon you; when the world takes its eternal leave of you; when you must bid your friends, houses, and lands farewell forevermore? What will you do then, I ask, you who don’t have God to go to? Will you call on him then? Will you cry to him for help? Alas! He will not own you.Pro 1.28-29 He will not admit any knowledge of you, but will send you packing with, I never knew you.Mat 7.23 Those who know what it is to have God to go to, to live upon, they know a little what a fearful misery it is to be without God. This is what made that holy man cry out, Let me have a God or nothing. Let me know him, and his will, and what will please him, and how I may come to enjoy him; or I would rather I never had an understanding to know anything, etc.1 But you are not only without God, but God is against you.2 Oh, if God would only be neutral, as though he did not own or help the poor sinner, his case would not be so deeply miserable. Even if God were to surrender the poor creature to the will of all his enemies, to do the worst with him; even if he were to deliver him over to the torments Mat 18.34 so that devils would tear and torture him to their utmost power and skill, yet this would not be half so fearful. But God will set himself against the sinner, and believe it, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
1 Unknown reference; but see Rom 3.4 — WHG 2 Eze 5.8-9; Nah. 2.13
God. Heb 10.31 There is no friend like him, and no enemy like him. As much as heaven is above the earth, and ominipotence above impotency, and infinity above nullity — so much more horrible is it to fall into the hands of the living God than into the paws of bears or lions, indeed, furies or devils. God himself will be your tormentor. Your destruction will come from the presence of the Lord. 2Thes 1.9
(Tophet is deep and large, and the breath of the Lord kindles it like a stream of brimstone.Isa 30.33 If God is against you, who will be for you? If one man sins against another, the judge will judge him: but if a man sins against the Lord, who will entreat for him? 1Sam. 2.25 You, even you, are to be feared; and who will stand in your sight once you are angry? Psa 76.7 Who is that god who will deliver you out of his hands? Dan. 3.15 Can Mammon? Riches will not profit in the day of wrath.Pro 11.4 Can kings or warriors? No, they will cry to the mountains and to the
rocks to fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath has come, and who will be able to stand? Rev 6.15-17)
Sinner, I think this should pierce your heart like a dagger: to know that God is your enemy. Oh, where will you go? Where will you find shelter? There is no hope for you unless you lay down your weapon, plead out your pardon, and get Christ to stand as your friend and make your peace. If it were not for this, you might go into some howling wilderness and pine there in sorrow, with anguished heart and horrible despair. But in Christ there is a possibility of mercy for you, yes, a proffer of mercy to you; that you may have God be more for you than he is now against you. But if you will not forsake your sins, nor turn thoroughly and purposely to God by a sound conversion, the wrath of God abides on you; and he proclaims that he is against you, as in the prophet: Therefore, thus says the Lord God, Behold I, even I, am against you. Eze 5.8
1. His face is against you. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them. Psa 34.16 Woe to those whom God sets his face against. When he but looked upon the host of the Egyptians, how terrible was the consequence! I will set my face against that man, and I will make him a sign, and a proverb, and will cut him off from the midst of my people, and you will know that I am the Lord. Eze 14.8
2. His heart is against you: He hates all the workers of iniquity.
Man, does your heart not tremble to think of being an object of God’s hatred? Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be inclined towards this people: throw them out of my sight. Jer 15.1 My soul loathed them, and their souls also abhorred me. Zech. 11.8
3. His hand is against you. 1Sam. 12.14-15 All his attributes are against you:
First, His justice is like a flaming sword, unsheathed against you. If I whet my glittering sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to my adversaries, and will reward those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, etc. Deu 32.41-42 So strict is justice, that it will by no means clear the guilty. Exo 34.7 God will not discharge you; he will not hold you guiltless. Exo 20.7 Rather, he will require the whole debt from you personally, unless you can make a scripture-claim to Christ, and to his satisfaction. When the enlightened sinner looks on justice and sees the balance in which he must be weighed, and the sword by which he must be executed, he feels an earthquake in his breast. But Satan keeps this out of sight, and he persuades the soul while he can, that the Lord is made up entirely of mercy, and so he lulls the soul to sleep in sin. Divine justice is very strict; it must have satisfaction to the last penny; it pronounces indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to every soul that does evil.Rom 2.8-9 It curses every one who does not continue to do everything that is written in the law. Gal. 3.10
The justice of God, to the unpardoned sinner who has any sense of his misery, is more terrible than the sight of the bailiff or creditor is to the bankrupt debtor; than judge and bench are to the robber; or irons and gallows are to the guilty murderer. “When justice sits upon life and death, oh, what dreadful work it makes with the wretched sinner! Bind him hand and foot; throw him into utter darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Mat 22.13 Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire.Mat 25.41 This is the terrible sentence that justice pronounces. Sinner, why must you be tried by this severe justice? As God lives, you will hear this death sentence unless you repent and are converted.
Secondly, The holiness of God is full of antipathy against you. Psa 5.4-5 He is not only angry with you (as he may be with his own children), but he has a fixed, rooted, habitual displeasure against you; he loathes you, Zech. 11.8, and he loathes what you do, even though he may have commanded the substance of it.1 It is as if a man gave his servant very good meat to prepare; yet if the servant mingled filth or poison with it, the man would not touch it. God’s nature is infinitely contrary to sin, and so he can but hate a sinner who is out of Christ.
Oh, what a misery this is, to be out of the favour, indeed, under the hatred of God! 2 God might as easily lay aside his nature, and cease to be God, as not to oppose you, and detest you, unless you are changed and renewed by grace. O sinner, how dare you think of the bright and radiant sun of purity, or think upon the beauties, the glory of holiness that is in God! Even the stars are not pure in his sight. Job 25.5 He humbles himself to behold things in the heavens. Psa 113.6 Oh, those light and sparkling eyes of his! What they spy in you! Nor do you have any part in Christ for which he would plead for you. I think you would cry out, astonished like the Bethshemites, Who can stand before this holy Lord God? 1Sam. 6.20
Thirdly, The power of God is mounted like a mighty cannon against you. The glory of God’s power is displayed in the horrific confusion and destruction of those who don’t obey the gospel. 2Thes 1.8-9 He will make his power known in them. Rom 9.22 How mightily he can torment them! For this end he raises them up: that he might make his power known. Rom 9.17 O man, are you able to make a good contest with your Maker? It is no more than a silly reed against the cedars of God, or a little rowboat against the tumbling ocean, or children’s bubbles against the blustering winds.
Sinner, the power of God’s anger is against you! Psa 90.11 Power and anger together make fearful work. It would be better if you had all the world in arms against you, than to have the power of God against you. There is no escaping his hands, no escaping his prison.
“Who can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26.14 Unhappy is the man who would understand it by experiencing it! “If he would contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand times. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against him and prospered? He removes the mountains, and they don’t know it. He overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth out of her place and its pillars tremble. He commands the sun and it does not rise; and he seals up the stars. Behold, he takes away and who can stop him? Who will say to him, What are you doing? If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers bend under him.” Job 9.3-7, 12-13 And are you a fit match for such an antagonist? Oh, consider this — you who forget God — lest he tear you in pieces and there is none to deliver
1 Isa 1.14; Mal 1.10 2 Ecc 5.4; Hos. 9.15
you. Psa 50.22 Submit to mercy. Don’t let dust and stubble stand against the Almighty. Don’t set briars and thorns against him in battle, lest he go through them and consume them together; but lay hold of his strength, that you may make peace with him.Isa 27.4-5 Woe to him that strives with his Maker, Isa 45.9
Fourthly, The wisdom of God is set to ruin you. He has fixed his arrows, and prepared the instruments of death, and made everything ready. Psa 7.12-13 His plans are against you to devise your destruction. Jer 18.11 He laughs to himself to see how you will be taken and ensnared in the evil day. Psa 37.13
The Lord will laugh at him, for he sees that his day is coming. He sees how you will come down mightily in a moment; how you will wring your hands, and tear your hair, and eat your flesh, and gnash your teeth out of anguish and an astonished heart, when you see you have fallen without remedy into the pit of destruction.
Fifthly, The truth of God is sworn against you.Psa 95.11 If he is true and faithful, you must perish if you go on this way. Luk 13.3 Unless he is false to his word, you must die unless you repent. Eze 33.11 If we don’t believe, he still abides faithful; he cannot deny himself; 2Tim 2.13 that is, he is faithful to his threats as well as to his promises. And if we don’t believe, he will show his faithfulness in our confusion. God has told you as plain as it can be spoken, that if he does not wash you, you have no part in him; Joh 13.8 that if you live after the flesh, you will die; Rom 8.13 that unless you are converted, you will in no way enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mat 18.3 And he remains faithful: he cannot deny himself. Beloved, just as the immutable faithfulness of God in his promise and oath affords believers strong consolation, Heb 6.18 it also affords un-believers strong consternation and confusion. O sinner, tell me: what rationalizations do you make when you think of all the threats of God’s word that stand on record against you? Do you believe their truth, or not? If not, then you are a wretched infidel, and not a Christian; therefore give up the name and the hopes of a Christian.
But if you do believe them, then you must have a heart of steel that you can calmly walk up and down when the truth and faithfulness of God is engaged to destroy you! If God Almighty can do it, then you will surely perish and be damned. Why man, the whole book of God testifies against you while you remain unsanctified: it condemns you on every page. It is like Ezekiel’s scroll to you: written inside and out with lamentation, and mourning, and woe. Eze 2.9-10 And all this will surely come upon you, and overtake you, Deu 28.15 unless you repent. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle of this word will ever pass away.1
Now put all this together, and tell me if the case of the unconverted is not deplorably miserable? Just as we read of those who bound themselves by an oath and a curse to kill Paul,Act 23.12 so you must know, O sinner, to your terror, that all the attributes of the infinite God are bound in an oath to destroy you.Heb 3.28 O man! What will you do? Where will you flee? If God’s omniscience can find you, you will not escape. If the true and faithful God will keep his oath, then you must perish unless you believe and repent. If the Almighty has the power to torment you, you will be perfectly miserable in soul and body for all eternity, unless it is prevented by your speedy conversion.
II. The whole creation of God is against you. The whole creation (says Paul) groans and travails in pain.Rom 8.22 But what is it that the creation groans under? Why, the tearful abuse that it is
1 Mat 5.18
subject to in serving the lusts of unsanctified men. And what is it that the creation groans for? Why, for freedom and liberty from this abuse: for the creature is unwillingly subject to this bondage.Rom 8.19-21 If the unreasonable and inanimate creatures had speech and reason, they would cry out under it as insufferable bondage to be abused by the ungodly, contrary to their natures and contrary to the ends that the great Creator made them for. A passage from an eminent divine1 says, “The liquor that the drunkard drinks, if it had a man’s reason to know how shamefully it is being abused and spoiled, it would groan in the barrels against the drunkard; it would groan in the cup against him; groan in his throat and in his belly against him; it would fly in his face, if it could speak. And if God were to open the mouths of the creatures, as he opened the mouth of Balaam’s ass, the proud man’s garments on his back would groan against him. There is no such creature that, if it had reason to know how it is abused, would not groan against the man until he converted. The land would groan to bear him; the air would groan to give him breath; their houses would groan to lodge them; their beds would groan to ease them; their food would groan to nourish them; their clothes would groan to cover them; and the creature would groan to give them any help and comfort, as long as they live in sin against God.” I think this should be a terror to an unconverted soul: to think that he is a burden to the creation. Luk 13.7
Cut it down, why should it encumber the ground? If the poor inanimate creatures could only speak, they would say to the ungodly, as Moses said to Israel, Must we fetch you water out of the rock, you rebels? Num. 20.10 Your food would say, “Lord, must I nourish such a wretch as this, and yield my strength for him to dishonour you with it? No, I would rather choke him, if you will give me permission.” The very air would say, “Lord, must I give this man breath to set his tongue against heaven, and scorn your people, and vent his pride, and wrath, and filthy communication, and belch out oaths and blasphemy against you? No, if you just say the word, he will be breathless for me.” His poor beast would say, “Lord, must I carry him for his wicked plans? No, I will break his bones; I would rather end his days, if I may only have your permission.” The earth groans under a wicked man, and hell groans for him, until death satisfies both and unburdens the earth, and shuts the mouth of hell with him. While the Lord of hosts is against you, be sure the hosts of the Lord are against you, and all the creatures (as it were) are up in arms against you until, upon your conversion, the controversy between God and you ends, and a covenant of peace with the creatures is made for you.2
III. The roaring lion has his full power upon you.1Pet 5.8 You are held fast in the paw of that lion which is greedy to devour you. You are in the snare of the devil, led captive by him at his will.2Tim 2.26 This is the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Eph 2.2 They are his drudges,3 and they do his lusts. He is the ruler of darkness of this world, Eph 6.12, that is, the ruler of ignorant sinners who live in darkness. You pity the poor Indians that worship the devil as their God, but seldom think this is your own case. Why, it is the common misery of all the unsanctified, that the devil is their God. 2Cor 4.4 They don’t intend to pay him homage and worship him; they would defy him and anyone who said this about them; yet all the while they serve him; they come and go at his beck, and they live under his government. You are servants of the one to whom you yield yourselves as obedient servants. Rom 6.16 Oh, how many then will be found real servants of the devil, who consider themselves the children of God! The devil no sooner offers a sinful delight, or an opportunity for your unlawful advantage, than you embrace it. If he suggests a lie or he prompts you to revenge, you readily obey. If he forbids you to read or to pray, you
1 Unknown reference — WHG
2 Job 5.22-24; Hos. 2.18-20
3 A laborer who is obliged to do menial work.
listen to him. Therefore you are his servants. Indeed, he lies behind the curtain; he acts in the dark, and sinners don’t see who sets them to work. But all the while he leads them on a string. Doubtless the liar does not intend it to be a service to Satan, but to his own advantage; yet it is Satan that stands in the corner unobserved, and puts the thing into his heart.1 Unquestionably, when Judas sold his Master for money, and when the Chaldeans and Sabeans plundered Job, they did not intend to do the devil a favor; they intended only to satisfy their own covetous thirst; yet it was the devil that actuated them in their wickedness.2 Men may indeed be slaves and common drudges for the devil, and never know it. In fact, they may think they enjoy a happy liberty. 2Pet 2.19
Are you still in ignorance, and not yet turned from darkness to light? Why, you are under the power of Satan! Act 26.18 Do you live in the ordinary and wilful practice of any known sin? Then know that you are of the devil. 1Joh 3.8 Do you live in strife, or envy, or malice? Truly he is your father.Joh 8.40-41 Oh, dreadful case! However Satan may provide his slaves with various pleasures,Tit. 3.3 it is merely to roll them into endless perdition. The serpent comes with the apple in his mouth, Oh, but (as with Eve) you don’t see the deadly sting in his tail. The one who is now the tempter, will be one day your tormenter. Oh, that I could let you see how black a master you serve, how filthy a drudgery you do, how merciless a tyrant you gratify! His whole pleasure is to put you to work to make your perdition and damnation sure, and to heat the furnace hotter and hotter in which you must burn for millions and millions of ages.
IV. The guilt of your sins lies like a mountain upon you. Poor soul! You don’t feel it, but this is what seals your misery. While unconverted, none of your sins are blotted out,Act 3.19 they are all on the score against you: regeneration and remission are never separated; the unsanctified are unquestionably unjustified and unpardoned.3 Beloved, it is a fearful thing to be in debt, but above all to be in God’s debt; for there is no arrest so formidable as his, no prison so horrible as his. Look upon an enlightened sinner, who feels the weight of his own guilt: Oh, how frightful are his looks, how fearful are his complaints! His comforts are turned into wormwood,4 his moisture into drought, Psa 32.4 and sleep has departed from his eyes. Gen 31.40 He is a terror to himself and to all that are around him. He is ready to envy the very stones that lie in the street because they are senseless, and don’t feel his misery. He wishes he had been a dog, or a toad, or a serpent, rather than a man, because then death would have put an end to his misery; whereas now it will be just the beginning of what will know no end.
However light you may make of it now, you will one day find the guilt of unpardoned sin to be a heavy burden. This is a millstone that breaks whoever falls on it; and on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.Mat 21.44 What work it made for our Saviour! It pressed the very blood out of his veins, and broke all his bones. If it did this in the green tree, what will it do in the dry? Oh, think of your ease later. Can you think of this threat without trembling:
You will die in your sins? Joh 8.24 Oh, it would be better for you to die in a prison, or to die in a ditch or a dungeon, than die in your sins. If death would take away your sins too, just as it will
1 Act 5.2; Joh 8.44
2 Joh 13.27. Job 1.12, 15, 17
3 1Cor 6.11; 1Pet 1.2; Heb 9.14
4 Wormwood is a bitter and poisonous root. The reference is Amos 6.12.
take away all your other comforts, it would be some mitigation. But your sins will follow you when your friends leave you, and all your worldly enjoyments say good-bye to you. Your sins will not die with you 1 as a prisoner’s other debts will. Instead, they will go to judgment with you, to be your accusers there: and they will go to hell with you, to be your tormentors there. Better to have many fiends and furies around you, than to have your sins fall upon you, and fasten to you. Oh, the work that these will make for you! Look over your debts in time! How much are you in the ledgers of every one of God’s laws? Every one of God’s commandments is ready to arrest you, and take you by the throat for the innumerable bonds it has on you. What will you do then, when they accumulate against you? Hold open the eyes of your conscience to consider this, so that you may despair of yourself and be driven to Christ, and flee for refuge to lay hold of the hope that is set before you. Heb 6.18
V. Your raging lusts miserably enslave you. While unconverted, you are a servant to sin. It reigns over you and holds you under its dominion, until you are brought within the bonds of God’s covenant.2 Now there’s no other tyrant like sin.
Oh, the filthy and fearful work that it engages its servants in! Would it not pierce a man’s heart to see a company of poor creatures drudging and toiling, to carry both kindling and fuel for their own burning? Why, this is the employment of sin’s drudges: even while they bless themselves in their unrighteous gains, even while they swing and swill in pleasures, they are but treasuring up wrath and vengeance for their eternal burnings; they are but storing up powder and bullets, and adding to the pile of Tophet, pouring oil on the fire to make the flame rage all the fiercer. Who would serve a master whose work is drudgery, and whose wages is death? Rom 6.23
What a woeful spectacle was that poor wretch who was possessed with the legion! Wouldn’t it have grieved your heart to see him among the tombs, cutting and wounding himself? Mar 5.5 This is your case; such is your work; every stroke is a thrust at your heart.1Tim 6.10 Conscience is now asleep, but when death and judgment bring you to your senses, then you will feel the raging pain and anguish of every wound. The convicted sinner is a tangible instance of the miserable bondage of sin: conscience flies upon him, and tells him what the end of these things will be: and yet he is such a slave to his lust, that he must continue, even though he sees it will be his endless perdition. And when temptation comes, lust gets the bit in his mouth, breaks all the cords of his vows and promises, and carries him headlong to his own destruction.
VI. The furnace of eternal vengeance is heated — ready for you.Isa 30.33 Hell and destruction open their mouths for you, they gape for you, they groan for you,Isa 5.14 waiting with a greedy eye as you stand on the brink, and when you drop in. If the wrath of man is like the roaring of a lion,Pro 20.2 and heavier than sand,Pro 27.3 then what is the wrath of the infinite God? Nebuchadnezzar in his fiery rage commanded the burning furnace to be heated seven times hotter. If that furnace was fierce enough to burn even those who drew near to throw the three children in, Dan. 3.19, 22 then how hot is the burning oven of the Almighty’s fury? Mal 4.1 Surely this is seventy times seven more fierce. What do you think, O man, of becoming a bundle of sticks in hell for all eternity? Can your heart endure, or can your hand be strong in the day when I will deal with you? says the Lord of hosts. Eze 22.14 Can you dwell with everlasting burnings? Can you abide the consuming fire, when you are like a glowing iron in hell, and your whole body and soul are as perfectly possessed by God’s burning vengeance, as the fiery sparkling iron is when heated in the fiercest forge? Ezek 22.20 If you cannot bear God’s whip, how then will you endure his
1 2Cor 5.10; Rev 20.12
2 Joh 8.34, 36; Tit. 3.3; Rom 6.12, 14; 6.16-17
scorpion? If you are crushed, and ready to wish yourself dead under the weight of his finger, how then will you bear the weight of his thighs?
The most patient man who ever was, cursed the day he was born,Job. 3.1 and even wished death to come and end his misery when God let out just one little drop of his wrath. Job. 7.15-16 How then will you endure when God pours out all of his vials, and sets himself against you to torment you? When he makes your conscience the tunnel by which he pours his burning wrath into your soul forever? And when he fills all your powers as full of torment as they are now filled with sin? When immortality will be your misery; and to die the death of a brute, and be swallowed into the gulph of annihilation, will be such a felicity that an eternity of wishes and an ocean of tears will never purchase it? Now you can put off the evil day, and you can laugh and be merry, and forget the terror of the Lord. 2Cor 5.11 But then how will you hold out, or hold up, when God throws you into a bed of torments, Rev 2.21 and makes you lie down in sorrows?Isa 1.11 How will you hold out when screams and blasphemy are your only music and the wine of God’s wrath, which is poured without mixture into the cup of his indignation, is your only drink? Rev 14.10 How will you hold out when you draw your breath in the flames, and the horrid stench of sulphur is your only perfume? In a word, when the smoke of your torment ascends forever and ever, and you have no rest night nor day — no rest in your conscience, no ease in your bones; instead, you will be an execration, an astonishment, a curse and a reproach forevermore! Jer 42.18
O sinner! Stop here, and consider! If you are a man, and not a senseless block, consider! Think to yourself where you stand. Why, you’re on the very brink of this furnace! As the Lord lives, and your soul lives, there is just a step between you and this. 1Sam. 20.3 You don’t know when you lie down, whether you may be in that furnace before the morning. You don’t know when you rise, whether you may drop into it before the night. Do you dare make light of this? Will you go on in such a dreadful condition as if nothing ailed you? If you put it off and say it doesn’t affect you, look over the foregoing chapter again, and tell me the truth: are none of these black marks found on you? Don’t blind your eyes; don’t deceive yourself; see your misery while you may still prevent it. Think what it is to be a vile outcast, a damned reprobate, a vessel of wrath into which the Lord will pour his tormenting fury as long as the man has a being. Rom 9.22
Divine wrath is a fierce, Deu 32.22 devouring, Isa 33.14 everlasting, Mat 25.41 unquenchable fire,Mat 3.12 and your soul and body must be the fuel on which it will feed forever — unless you consider your ways, and speedily turn to the Lord by sound conversion. Those who have only been singed by this fire, and had no more than the smell of it on them, oh, what amazing spectacles they have been!
Whose heart would not have melted to hear Spira’s1 outcries? Or to have seen Chaloner,2 that monument of justice, worn to skin and bones, blaspheming the God of heaven, cursing himself, and continually crying out, Oh, torture, torture, torture! Oh, torture, torture! It was as if the flames of wrath had already taken hold on him. To have heard Rogers3 crying out, I have had a little pleasure, but now I must go to hell forevermore; wishing only for this mitigation: that God
1 Francis Spira (d. 1548) was an Italian lawyer who became a Protestant but apostatized. He died in despair thinking himself to be a reprobate. See Surgeon’s Sermon No. 547.
2 Which “Chaloner” this refers to is unknown. It is not Thomas Chaloner, who authored Moses his Tombe (1656). Thomas Chaloner opposed Oliver Cromwell, Presbyterian rule, and religion in general. However, Thomas Chaloner was not burned at the stake. He was excluded from Parliament, then left England, and died in Holland in 1661.
3 It is unknown which Rodgers this refers to.
would just let him lie burning forever behind the back of that fire (on the earth) — still bringing this sad conclusion, after whatever else was said to afford him some hope, “I must go to hell, I must go to the furnace of hell for millions of millions of ages!” Oh, if the fears and forethought of the wrath to come is so terrible, so intolerable, what is the feel of it?
Sinner, it is in vain to flatter you; this would only summon you into the unquenchable fire. Know from the living God that here you must lie; you must dwell with these burnings until immortality dies and immutability changes; until eternity runs out and ominipotence is no longer able to torment — unless in good earnest you are renewed throughout by sanctifying grace.