Watchman Willie Martin Archive

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

“...Their foot shall slide in due time...” (Deuteronomy 32:35)

 In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God's visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God's wonderful works towards them, remained (as 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.

1). 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."

  2. 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!"

 3. 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.

 4. 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.

1. 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?

                   2. 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.

                   3. 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.

                      4. 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.

                    5. 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.

                    6. 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.

                   7. 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 expence of a

                   miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any

                   wicked nian, 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.

                   8. 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."

                    9. 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.

                    10. 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 obligatioti 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

                    1. 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."

                    2. 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, &c.

                    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


                     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," &c.

                   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."

                   4. 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

                       opportuniry 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."

                                            *A town in the neighbourhood.

(Taken, in part, from a sermon by Johnathan Edwards, entitled “Sinners in The Hands of an Angry God).

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