Archives

The Absolute Purity and Perfection of God’s Nature

Hugh Binning, Works, p. 302:

Here is represented to us the absolute purity and perfection of God’s nature, – “God is light, and in him is no darkness.” Besides the purity of the light of knowledge, there is a purity of the beauty of holiness. The glorious light of God’s virtue, and power, and wisdom, is communicated to all the creatures. There is an universal extent of his influence towards the good and bad, as the sun shines on both, and yet there is no spot nor stain upon his holiness or righteousness, from all his intermingling with the creatures, the worst and basest creatures. All his works are holy and righteous, even his works in unholy and unrighteous men. He draws no defilement from the basest of the creatures, nor yet from the sinfulness of it. He can be intimately present and conjoined in working, in virtue and power, in care and providence with the dirt and mire of the streets, with the beasts of the field, and yet that is no stain upon his honour or credit, as men would suppose it to be, no more than it is a dishonour to the sun to shine on the dunghill. In a word, there is no mixture of ignorance, darkness, impurity, or iniquity in him, not the least shadow of change or turning, not the least seed of imperfection. In regard of him, the moon is not clean, and the sun is spotted. In respect of his holiness, angels may be charged with folly.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-absolute-purity-of-god%E2%80%99s-nature.89446/

Tokens of the Divine Displeasure

I recently read a fascinating book entitled “Tokens of the Divine Displeasure: In the Late Conflagrations of New York and Other Judgments” by James R. Willson, D.D. (available on Google books here). In this book, the author sets out to prove a thesis I was taught to mock in public school: namely, the idea that the calamities that happen in cities and nations are not the product of mere chance but rather evidences of divine displeasure on God’s part toward regional and national sins. This does not mean that every individual in a region is necessarily guilty of provoking God, however, for often the innocent have to suffer along with the guilty when divine displeasure is manifested. As evidence in support of his thesis, the author argues that the calamities befalling New York in his time relate directly to that state’s particular provocations against God. Below is a summary of the cause-effect relationship drawn.

The Initial Provocations – Refusal to Acknowledge the God of Heaven and Mocking His Religion

In January 1832, a motion was made to abolish prayer in the New York State Legislature, for which clergy were paid a combined total of $750 annually. Arguments in favor of the motion were that many legislators did not believe in prayer, the legislators did not comport themselves in a respectful manner while prayer was being offered, the constitution excluded religion from politics, legislative prayer violated the separation of church and state, the constitution forbade favoring Christianity over other religions, etc. Willson writes,

All these reasonings, if they may be honored with that name, were mingled with malevolent insinuations and attacks on the religion of Jesus, as fanaticism, and unworthy of the countenance of liberal and enlightened men (p 4).

The motion failed. However, efforts to abolish legislative prayer continued, coupled with efforts to abolish all laws “respecting the sanctification of the Lord’s day.” A committee formed to study the issue recommended abolishing legislative prayer but did not touch on the question of the Lord’s day. Willson writes,

This had been expected from the complexion of the committee, and was probably intended, when they were appointed. The christian religion was treated with scorn and derision in the report, and its votaries represented as misguided fanatics (p 5).

In January 1833, the motion to abolish legislative prayer was put forward again and once more failed, although the number of declared non-Christians voting for the motion had increased. Even so, after all but one of the ministers called to the chaplaincy refused the office for various reasons, the law authorizing the clergy pay was then rescinded. From that time forward, the practice of prayer ceased in the New York legislature. Willson describes the situation this way:

Thus is exhibited the painful spectacle, of a people greatly prospered in the bounty of Heaven – a people who have the oracles of the living God in nearly every family – a people among whom there are thousands of christian churches ; such a people proclaiming by their representatives, in the face of the nations, that they do not and will not look to the God of Heaven for his favour or protection as a commonwealth. What christian, nay, what pagan nation has ever done a deed like this? (p 6)

In addition to the above, in 1832, the Dutch Reformed Church had petitioned both the President of the United States of America and the Governor of New York to proclaim a fast day since “the land was threatened with an alarming visitation of God” (p 6). Both politicians refused for the same reasons given in the original motion to the New York Legislature, although New York later did proclaim a day of fasting after being visited with the following calamities.

The First Calamity – The Long Winter

1. The winter of 1831-1832 was exceptionally long and harsh. The devastation to New York’s farming industry alone was about $25,000,000.

Further Provocation – Lack of Discernment and Repentance

The people generally did not view the devastating winter as a judgment from God. In short, their hearts were hardened. Further calamities followed.

Further Calamities – Weather, War, and Pestilence

2. Massive spring flooding in 1832 destroyed farms, bridges, and villages, grinding travel, trade, etc. to a halt.

3. Native Americans attacked several western settlements, killing many and destroying property. Survivors had to flee for their lives.

4. Rumblings from the South hinted at a coming civil war.

5. Cholera broke out mainly in New York State.

A Further Provocation – Continuing Lack of Repentance

When the cholera subsided, the people still refused to acknowledge the God of heaven.

A Further Calamity – Pestilence Again

6. In late June 1832, cholera broke out in New York City.

Even Further Provocation – Deliberate Refusal to Acknowledge God

At this point, on July 2-3, 1832, a motion was put before the City of Albany, New York, to proclaim a day of fasting to God. It was never voted on. Willson writes:

The corporation sat to a late hour engaged in the discussion, until the mover perceiving that there was a majority opposed to the measure, many even making it the subject of profane banter, did not press it on a vote (p 9).

Even Further Calamities – Pestilence and Economic Devastation

7. On July 3, 1832, cholera broke out again. Two people died.

8. On July 4, 1832, Independence Day festivities were all but cancelled. Instead, the largest church in the city was overflowing with people. No new case of cholera broke out.

9. On July 5, 1832, cholera broke out again and spread beyond New York state. Thousands of people began dying each week. Of all the States, New York was the hardest hit. Thousands of its citizens died and its economy took a loss of at least $15,000,000.

Yet More Provocation – Continual Refusal to Repent and Turn to God

Still the people hardened their hearts. They responded just as Americans did after September 11, 2001: “the bricks have fallen down; we will rebuild with hewn stone.” In addition, there was a presidential election and “Faction raged with unprecedented violence.”

Yet More Calamity – Pestilence Spreads

10. In the summer of 1833, cholera spread to the southern and western states.

Continued Provocations – Spreading Unrepentance and Continued Support for Slavery

The southern and western states did not engage in any widespread repentance for their sins, the chief of which in the south was slavery. Since slavery had continued on for years without being abolished, and since northerners were tired of waiting for that abolishment to come, a number of Anti-Slavery Societies were started in the north in the summer of 1833.

In May 1834, when attempts were made to celebrate an anti-slavery society’s anniversary, pro-slavery riots broke out in New York City. The anti-slavery societies doubled down and increased their efforts at having slavery abolished.

In May 1835, the Anti-Slavery society held its annual meeting with no open opposition. However, supporters of slavery were increasingly alarmed at the growing opposition to their practice.

Not long after the meeting, a mob of pro-slavery supporters attacked the mail and destroyed numerous anti-slavery documents being send to the south. The Postmaster General of the United States refused to intervene and essentially gave carte-blache to the pro-slavery protesters. The Postmaster of Charleston, South Carolina, then asked the Postmaster of New York not to convey any more anti-slavery documents through the postal service. The New York Postmaster complied.

Continued Calamity – Devastating Fire

11. On August 12, 1835, just after the New York Postmaster’s decision, a severe fire broke out in New York City, decimating an entire city block that mainly consisted of bookstores and printing presses. Willson notes the great irony of this judgment:

“Such a destruction of literature by fire, never before occurred in the city. The newspaper press had generally been active in the incitement of the mobs – it had apologized for oppression, it was a great source of revenue to the post office department ; and it suffered very severely in this conflagration. About forty buildings, in the heart of the city, the greater part of them sumptuous edifices, were laid to ruins, and the destruction of property amounted to about one million of dollars. The arguments and remonstrances of the friends of human liberty had been met, not with sober reasoning, but with the outcry of “ incendiary !” “incendiary !” and divine Providence sent on the city a real burning, which destroyed in a few hours the fruits of many years of painful industry (p 14).

Even More Provocations – Lack of Discernment and Obstinate Support for Slavery

The people did not realize they were under the heavy hand of God’s judgment.

The south began to threaten the union. The wealthy of the north united behind the south and expressed sympathy and support for its circumstances. In a situation reminiscent of today’s college campuses, Willson notes that “these slavery, sympathetic meetings were followed up by mobs and riots to put down by open violence all discussion” (p 15). At least 30 people were killed in the riots, which were neither restrained nor contained by law enforcement.

In November 1835, a pro-slavery mob twice shut down an anti-slavery meeting in Utica under threats of violence. The meeting had to be moved 20 miles away for its completion. Here Willson makes a chilling observation: “Mobs in all countries have preceded persecution… It has been and doubtless is the intention of many that persecution by the civil arm, shall become the sequel of the doings of the mobs in this land” (page 16). Both northerners and southerners called on government officials to oppress those opposed to their respective positions.

Then the President of the United States spoke out in favor of slavery and denounced the abolition movement. He went so far as to call on legislators to make it illegal to send anti-slavery documents through the mail in the south. His comments essentially promoted the outlawing of any anti-slavery sentiment altogether.

Willson comments on this situation with a lengthy discourse on the sinfulness of slavery, which is summarized here. Concerning how this situation was a provocation to God, clinging to the practice of slavery in the south was especially egregious before God because slavery is a sin, slavery was being practised in a supposedly free nation, the nation had been abundantly blessed by God, the nation had ample access to God’s teachings on slavery, the nation claimed that all men were born free and equal, the slaves had never wronged their owners or deserved to be made slaves, and the practice had gone on for many generations.

Even More Calamity – Massive Fire in New York

12. On December 16-17, 1835, New York City suffered a massive fire. The fire devastated the financial and business districts of the city and destroyed a post office. It also consumed a Dutch Reformed Church and many mansions. At least $20,000,000 damage was caused.

The Reason for the Severer Judgment: The People’s Sins and National Transgressions

Ministers of the time identified the people’s sins as being greed, misimprovement of Gospel ordinances, inordinate sensual indulgence, pursuit of the lusts of the flesh and eye and the pride of life. To this list, Willson adds countenancing continued oppression in the land. New York City was the centre of slavery promotion, mob violence, national commerce, literature, and intelligence.

Of the calamity, Willson writes

A great calamity, crippling for a time her energies, ought not to be viewed merely as a visitation of Heaven for the personal sins of her citizens, but as a judgment of God upon the land for flagrant national transgression. As the judgment has been inflicted before the world, the sin which it chastises, is likely to have been committed in sight of the universe (p 34)…

The dispensation is known and felt by all to be awfully severe ; and the judgment has fallen on those chiefly who had the most intimate connections with southern merchants and planters, and who on that account had been most forward in their apologies for the oppression of their coloured population (p 37-38).

Further judgments were already on the horizon if the American people did not repent and change their ways. In 1836, these included the Indian War and the possibility of war with Mexico. It should be noted that 25 years after this book was published, the American Civil War broke out in 1861.

The lesson to be learned:

“[N]ational calamities are sent to punish national sins…. It is the award of the common conscience of all nations that God punishes with visible judgments, flagrant sins” (p 39).

“It is great transgressions, publicly committed and persevered in after remonstrance, that bring on a land judgments, which arrest the attention of all, whether they ascribe them to the finger of God or not (p 40).

Is America’s Iniquity Full?

Via Apologetics Press:

Is America’s Iniquity Full?

Dave Miller, Ph.D.

When one examines the sweeping scope of human history, it becomes readily apparent that progress is not technically linear. Rather, nations rise and fall. The progress that they achieve is often lost to later civilizations, who must essentially “reinvent the wheel.” Archaeological evidence exists to substantiate the fact that highly advanced civilizations have preceded modern times, creating many enigmas for researchers. The Moche were a highly developed society that vanished centuries ago. The ancient Paracas performed medieval wonders in brain surgery using only crude metal instruments. The fabled Macchu Picchu achieved incredible engineering feats (“Inca…,” 1995). The Nasca (or perhaps their predecessors) produced massive drawings that stretch for miles and are thus visible/discernible only from the air (“The Lost City…,” 2000; “Nasca Lines,” n.d.).

What happened to such civilizations? Why are they now nonexistent? One would expect that the likelihood of a nation’s survival would increase in proportion to the technological, medical, and economic progress. One explanation for this circumstance (perhaps the explanation) is provided by the Bible. Simply stated, the Bible affirms that as a nation moves in the direction of spiritual and moral depravity, becoming increasingly alienated from God, that nation positions itself for inevitable destruction. That destruction may come in the form of natural disasters—like volcanoes (e.g., Pompey). It may come in the form of external invasion—as in the case of the fall of Babylonia or Rome. It can even come in the form of direct, miraculous intervention by God—as in the case of Sodom and the other cities of the plain (Genesis 19:29).

This principle is alluded to repeatedly in Scripture. When God promised to Abraham that his descendents would be given the land of Canaan as their homeland, He noted that this gift would not be given for several hundred years. Why the delay? “[F]or the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). God would not have displaced one group of people simply in order to give another group the land. That would be unjust and prejudicial—in direct contradiction to God’s nature (Deuteronomy 32:4). He eventually allowed the Israelites to conquer Canaan because the peoples that inhabited the land had grown exceedingly wicked. Concomitant with reception of the land, God used the Israelites to punish the Canaanites for their perversion and depravity.

For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 18:25-30, emp. added).

Observe that God gives civilizations a considerable amount of time—even hundreds of years—to choose the spiritual and moral direction they will take. If they are determined to spiral downward in an ever-deepening devotion to idolatry, covetousness, sexual impurity, etc., then God eventually “lowers the boom” and destroys them for their iniquity (cf. the Genesis Flood—Genesis 6:3). The inspired writer of the book of Kings compared the wickedness of King Ahab to the previous inhabitants of the land of Canaan, noting the reason for their destruction: “And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 21:25-26).

This same principle is reiterated in the New Testament. Jesus summarized the history of Israel as one of frequent rebellion against divine precepts. He intimated that they were nearing the limit of God’s toleration and impending punishment when He declared to them: “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt” (Matthew 23:32). It was as if an imaginary cup had been gradually filling up with sin, and that it was nearing the brim—at which time God would respond with appropriate destruction. Paul verified this very understanding when he accused his fellow Jews of having been the ones “who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16, emp. added). As the Jews entrenched themselves against the will of God, they were guilty of piling sins on top of sins, until inevitable divine wrath would be forthcoming—as it did when the Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Speaking centuries earlier, the inspired writer of Kings acknowledged this principle in his summary of the Jews’ national history:

And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become victims of plunder to all their enemies, because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day’” (2 Kings 21:10-15, emp. added).

Observe that the writer compared the sin of the Israelites with the sin of the previous occupants of the land of Canaan, thus earning for themselves the same outcome: divine retribution and devastation. As the prophet Ezekiel reported: “‘Thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness,’ says the Lord God” (15:8).

It is interesting that the Founding Fathers of America recognized this eternal, biblical principle as having been posited in the fabric of the Universe by the Creator. They understood that while God will judge each individual human being at the Judgment when Christ returns (e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:10), He judges nations in history, in time, by bringing destruction upon them when their iniquity is “full.” That is why Luther Martin, a delegate to the federal Constitutional Convention, stated in 1788: “It was said, it ought to be considered, that national crimes can only be, and frequently are, punished in this world by national punishments” (Elliot, 1836, 1:374, emp. added). George Mason, often called “The Father of the Bill of Rights,” stated at the Constitutional Convention: “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities” (as quoted in Madison, 1840, 3:1391, emp. added). The “Father of the American Revolution” and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, explained: “Revelation assures us that ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation.’ Communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general character” (1907, 3:286). Thomas Jefferson likewise warned: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep forever” (1794, Query 18, p. 237, emp. added).

Finally, consider the haunting, if not prophetic, warning issued by Daniel Webster:

[I]f we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity” (1903, 13:492-493, emp. added).

If this pattern of eventual divine retribution has repeated itself many times over throughout world history, and if God is immutable, i.e., He does not change (Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6), will He not respond to America’s iniquity in the same fashion? Yes, He will. So the only question that remains to be answered? “Is America’s iniquity full?”

REFERENCES

Adams, Samuel (1907 reprint), The Writings of Samuel Adams, ed. Harry Cushing (New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. (1836), The Debates in the Several State Conventions (Washington, DC: Jonathan Elliot).

Jefferson, Thomas (1794), Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia, PA: Mathew Carey).

“The Lost City of Nasca” (2000), BBC, [On-line], URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/1999/nasca.shtml.

Madison, James (1840), The Papers of James Madison, ed. Henry Gilpin (Washington, DC: Langtree & O’Sullivan).

“Nasca Lines” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.crystalinks.com/nasca.html.

“Inca, Secrets of the Ancestors” (1995),
Time Life’s Lost Civilizations Series, [On-line], URL: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/llilas/centers/outreach/resources/topic/inca.html.

Webster, Daniel (1903), The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company).

Original source: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1528

Copyright:

Copyright © 2005 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

We are happy to grant permission for items in the “America’s Culture War” section to be reproduced in part or in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, excepting brief quotations, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

How to Offend God

Dave Miller, Ph.D., via Apologetics Press:

Americans have their daily concerns just as all human beings: food, clothes, housing, transportation, employment, etc. Most people give some thought everyday to such concerns, along with the broader issues that occupy national attention—the economy, foreign enemies, etc. But how many Americans ever give any thought whatsoever to whether the God of the Universe is offended by their conduct? How many contemplate the idea that the Great Ruler of Nations would actually punish an entire country for its citizens’ violations of His will? Should this consideration be of any concern to society? Should the U.S. Congress discuss this question? Should state legislatures across the country give any time or attention to such a matter?

Read more: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=314&topic=139

(Note: I do not know anything about this organization, but it does not appear to be reformed)

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

Willem van de Velde the Younger, Ships on a Stormy Sea (c. 1672)

“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
by William Cowper, 1731-1800

1. God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

2. Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

5. His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Source: http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh514.htm

National Sins and National Judgments (Owen-1679)

Gebhard Fugel An den Wassern Babylons

National Sins and National Judgments

A sermon by John Owen

Preached April 11, 1679.

“For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The show of their countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” — Isa. iii. 8, 9.

First, Here is a confluence of sins delighted in.

Secondly, Here is a concurrence of various judgments unregarded. In the ninth chapter of this prophecy, the prophet enumerates, from the 13th verse to the end of the chapter, all sorts of judgments and indications of the continuance of God’s displeasure, concluding every one of them with this: “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still;” and it will end in their utter destruction.

Thirdly, Here are the preparative causes of ruin, that which would dispose Jerusalem and Judah to ruin and destruction. There are five of them reckoned up in this chapter:—

1. When God takes away the good, the sober, the understanding part of a nation, and leaves a nation very thin of such kind of persons: Verses 1–3, “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.” When God makes a nation thin of such persons, it is a preparation and disposition to their ruin.

2. Weakness in their government is another preparation and disposition: “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” verse 4.

3. Horrible disorder in the minds of men, and contempt of God’s order, that should be among them: “And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable,” verse 5.

4. When there is great oppression and persecution: “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them,” verse 12. And what did they do? “Ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts,” verses 14, 15.

5. And, lastly, there is horrible pride, and especially the pride of vain and foolish women; which the prophet insists upon from verse 16 to the very last words of the chapter, and concludes, “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.”

This is the end of it all. So that you have an account of what are those causes whereon God in his word doth pronounce cities and nations to be ruined and destroyed, even then when they stand in their fullest security, in their own opinion.

Now, the inquiry is, how those things are with us. I told you I would do no more than speak a word or two for the present occasion: and I shall speak that which I do believe; and if you do so too, it may be it may be your mercy. But it is a hard thing to believe London is ruined and England fallen, when we have peace and enjoy all things; but if we speak it in pride, it will be harder how to avoid it.

First, Is there not a confluence of all sorts of sins among us whereof mankind can contract guilt, especially of those sins upon the commission of which God pronounces a nation ruined, — atheism and profaneness, blood and murder, adultery and uncleanness, and pride? When these sins are predominant in a nation that makes profession of the knowledge of God, God himself saith, and we may say, that nation is ruined. Those things have prevailed among us.

Then let us mourn over those sins as we ought to do. Have we done so in this congregation? Hath it been done in any congregation in England as it ought? Hath it been done in private, in our retirement, to mourn over that confluence of sins that hath prevailed and spread itself over the nation till it hath reached to the very neck? We have not done it to this very day. There is not the least attempt for any reformation. Do we think in such a day as this is a little prayer is enough to save a dying nation? There is nothing seriously done to work that reformation without which London will be undone and England will fall, and there will be no deliverance. It is all one whether you will believe it or no, but the word of God abides for ever.

Secondly, A concurrence of judgments was the second thing we showed you from the words, — a concurrence of judgments unregarded; — a confluence of sins delighted in, and a concurrence of various judgments unregarded.

Judgments are of two sorts, — temporal and spiritual.

1. Temporal judgments are of two sorts. They are either monitory tokens of God’s displeasure, or they are actual punishments. All these various judgments have been upon us.

(1.) We have had monitory tokens of God’s displeasure: [1.] Signs in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; — things that ought not to be despised. Our Saviour hath warned us to expect and look for them before the general dissolution. They have been monitory judgments. [2.] God is making the nation thin of persons ancient, honourable, counsellors, the wise. He threatens to do this. They are persons rarely to be found, who are the stay and staff of a nation. It is a monitory judgment, and so laid down by the prophet. [3.] The strange and unaccountable differences and divisions that are in the minds and affections of men. Multitudes in these nations stand at this day with their swords in their hands, ready to sheathe them in the bowels of their neighbours; Ephraim against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim, — one part of the nation against another, and another against them, ready to destroy one another. [4.] And, lastly, the warnings God hath given us of making us base and dishonourable, which I will not insist upon. We have had these monitory judgments.

(2.) We have had judgments which consist in punishments, — the plague, the fire, the sword, great distresses and poverty, that are come upon the nation; enough to make the hearts of men to tremble, but that we are grown hard like the nethermost millstone, and are sensible of nothing at all. I say these judgments and warnings of God are generally disregarded.

I would but ask two things, to see if by them we can evidence the contrary, notwithstanding all the judgments that we talk of:—

[1.] Who is the man, where is the person, that hath made any abatement in any thing of the world, — in love to the world, in conformity to the world, in the pursuit of any lust? Show me the man who, upon the account of these judgments in the world, hath made any abatement.

[2.] Show me the person who can by experience show that he hath by fear been moved to provide an ark for himself and family, any other ark besides present circumstances, — so much wealth, enjoyment, peace and quiet? Who is the person that hath provided an ark for himself and his family? Let us talk what we will, unless we make a visible abatement in conformity to the world, and labour to provide an ark, we disregard the judgments of God.

2. There are spiritual judgments also; and they are found among us, — (1.) In God’s taking from us so many faithful labourers in the dispensation of the gospel, in the midst of their days and strength, as he hath done of late years in this nation. (2.) And in driving the remnant of his faithful ministers, many of them, into corners, where they are not able to serve the interest of Christ and the nation by promoting and furthering its return unto God: and thereby that which would have been the greatest mercy that the nation can be partaker of, the greatest means of the preservation of it and deliverance from ruin, is made the greatest means of the restraining and shutting up their ministerial abilities and graces; which I shall not now enlarge upon. (3.) There is another part of these spiritual judgments, and that is the general security that is come upon all sorts of men, according to the variety of their degrees, in being overtaken with the present temptations of the day. These judgments are upon us unregarded.

Thirdly, Another thing in the text is the preparation and disposition that are in a nation to ruin. But I shall not speak unto them; they are visible and known unto all.

But you will say, ‘When God doth thus in his word declare that a nation is fallen and ruined by such causes, is there no hope but that it must be ruined, that destruction must overtake it?’

I answer, — 1. There is no hope at all while that place, that nation, continues in those ways and sins whereby God declares that they are ruined. A nation cannot be saved abiding in those ways which are the causes of its ruin, which God declares to be the causes of it. And let men have what expectations they will, please themselves as they will, I neither can desire nor will look for deliverance for a nation while it continues in those sins against which God pronounces judgments.

2. I do acknowledge it is frequent with God to declare a nation ruined with respect of merit, and yet to prevent their ruin with respect to the event. They may be delivered from that state and condition, and so be saved. The case is stated, Jer. xviii. 7, 8, “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom to pluck up and pull down, and to destroy it: if that, nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil. I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them” God declares what they do deserve, but yet they may never feel it as to the event. Wherefore it is not in vain that we have designed to seek the Lord this day. There is room yet left to deal with God about London, about the nation, though plainly in the word they are declared to be under ruin.

But it will have no success without these three things:—

1. That there be a visible reformation, — I will not say a conversion, but a visible reformation, — vigorously attempted in and upon the body of the people.

2. Unless those who truly fear the Lord do mourn over the sins of the people continually. And, —

3. Unless they are fervent in their prayers for their deliverance.

It doth not stand with the honour of God, the glory of his righteousness, holiness, word, and truth, to save this nation without these things; — without an attempt at visible reformation of the body of the people; without his own people mourn over the ins of the nation, and abide in fervent prayer for that end. Without these, as Jeremiah the prophet told the Jews, chap. xxxvii. 10, “Though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire;” So I say of our Chaldeans at this day: If half of them were executed, and the other half wounded, they should rise up and smite this city, unless we turn thus unto God.

We are called to consider the sins of the nation, and to deplore its state and condition upon the account of those sins. That is our present work; and these plain things God hath directed me unto from the reading of these words.

I will add a little more, for the further opening of the words. There is in them a summary declaration of the causes of this state and condition: “Because,” saith he, “their tongue and, their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. You may range all sins under these two heads — men’s tongues and their doings; for their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord.

There is a particularly ruining provocation, when men set their tongues against the Lord. It a great sign, of he approaching, ruin of a people and nation when men set their tongues against the Lord. He puts a special mark upon that. I shall only name the things whereby men set their tongues against the Lord, keeping themselves to that one thing, by such ways as will certainly prove ruining.

There are these ways whereby men set their tongues against the Lord:—

1. By blasphemy. And thereof there are two branches:— (1.) Cursed oaths; (2.) Atheistical discourses. Whether they are found among us or no let every one judge as he hath experience.

Men set their tongues against the Lord especially by blaspheming the Spirit of Christ and the gospel. I do acknowledge that this is a sin which our Lord Jesus Christ as it were separates from all other sins, reserving it unto spiritual and eternal judgment; but it hath influence also on temporal judgments.

2. By mocking at all those judgments: “Where is the promise of his coming?” where is this talk that hath been among the prophets, among professors, for so many years, of judgment coming? “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were.” They scoff at the word of God with reproachful terms.

When these are the things whereby men’s tongues are set against God (I do not speak of the sins of the tongue in general, but of those sins whereby the tongue is peculiarly set against God), we shall do well to inquire whether any such things are found among us or no.

This comprises the whole remainder of outward sins against the Lord. I shall not need to speak unto them; I shall only touch upon the aggravations:—

1. The first aggravation of these sins, that makes them ruinous, is when they rise to such a degree as that they are a “provocation unto the eyes of God’s glory.”

The “eyes of God’s glory” intend two things, — First and principally, His holiness: “He is of purer eyes than to behold evil,” Hab. i. 13. The eyes of God’s glory are the purity of his holiness. Secondly, God’s omnisciency and omnipresency. His eyes are not eyes of flesh. He sees and knows all things by the infinite immensity of his own presence. Sins committed in an especial manner against the eyes of God’s glorious holiness and his omnisciency will always have special influence into the ruin of Jerusalem and of Judah.

What are the sins that have a special opposition unto the eyes of God’s glory as it denotes his holiness? I answer, —

All sorts of uncleanness, — adultery, fornication. Uncleanness is in a peculiar manner opposed unto the holiness of God. We are to inquire whether there have been any overspreading of such abominations in the nation wherein we live. If there have, there have been provocations unto the eyes of God’s glory. Every impure lust in the heart is provoking to the eyes of God’s glory; every uncleanness wherewith the land is defiled, upon this account, because of its contradiction unto the pure and holy nature of God, is provoking unto the eyes of God’s glory.

2. When men are bold in sin, — which brings along with it contempt of God’s omnisciency and omnipresency, — it is a provocation unto the eyes of God’s glory.

There are two ways whereby men do manifest themselves bold in their sins; and they are both mentioned in the text:— (1.) By appearing under all demonstrations of outward pride, while they are filled with inward filth and laden with guilt; a thing that God doth greatly abhor. “The show of their countenance doth witness against them.” We live in days wherein the nation is overwhelmed with the guilt of sin, and full of all manner of iniquities and defilements. They do compose all their garbs and ways unto pride. And, (2.) They reject the ways of God. They contemn God and man when they have all that guilt upon them.

3. The last aggravation whereby men provoke the eyes of God’s glory is when they declare their sin as Sodom.”

How is it to “declare their sin as Sodom?” (1.) When men will confer and talk together about the vilest sins and wickednesses. So did they in Sodom; they got together to act wickedness. Time was when profaneness and atheism were not grown to that boldness as now they are. They covered their sin. But now men and women will consult together, talk and advise together, about their sins, how and what way they shall commit them. (2.) When they will come unto that impudence, not only to confer about their sins, but so as to make them a scoffing and a laughing matter.

Let us consider whether there be not those abominations among us against which the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. These are the aggravations the prophet gives of the sins of Jerusalem and of Judah, upon the account whereof he pronounces the one to be “ruined,” and the other to be “fallen” from her strength and beauty. The judgment he passes upon all is, “Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.”

I shall close all with a word or two of use:—

First, If this be the deplorable state and condition of the nation wherein we live, let us endeavour, by all ways and means that lie in us, to retrieve the nation out of this state and condition, every one acting unto the utmost of his power to turn men from their evil ways, that God may repent him of the evil that he hath purposed against this nation.

Secondly, If they will not be healed, let our souls mourn in secret for them, and let us do something to help the poor dying nation. There is not one of you but may do much towards the saving, of this nation, by mourning in secret because of the abominations that are committed in it, whereby we have provoked the eyes of God’s glory.

Thirdly, Take heed that we do not partake in any of their sins, that we make no approach unto them, lest we partake of their plagues There is no greater duty incumbent at this day on persons that fear God than this one, to be cautious of making approaches towards any persons or people against whom God hath declared that he hath a controversy with them.

Fourthly, Prepare to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments. God is righteous in all his ways, when he shall bring the scourge upon the nation, and it “shall be spoiled as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle,” Hos. x. 14.

Lastly, Give glory unto him for all the appearances of sovereign grace and mercy in preserving this nation from that late horrid design and plot, which might have swallowed us up unless God himself had immediately interposed.

There are three or four things I would mention, that I have upon my thoughts:—

1. The open discovery of the profaneness and villany of their hearts, in striving to hide from God and man the wickedness they had contrived, by adding a new wickedness unto it, which they had not thought of, — the murdering of that innocent person.411 God left them to discover the wickedness and profaneness of their hearts, that they would cover one sin with another, and God should not look through it.

2. The wisdom and justice of God, in making that which they concluded the means of hiding their plot from the eyes of men prove upon the matter the means of discovering it unto all men. They behaved themselves subtilely, but the hand of God was upon them; there was “digitus Dei” plainly in the case. Their great design was, by the murder of that gentleman to conceal all. Saith God,’ I will discover all by the murder of that person.’

3. See the hand and glory of God in this also. You are directed unto it this day, that though their wickedness and malice continue, God hath taken away their hearts. If wisdom and courage had not been taken from them, they might have ruined this nation; but God hath taken away their hearts, and so long we shall be safe enough.

4. In this glorious act of God there is a spirit poured out upon the commonalty of this nation above their light and above their principles; which is the immediate hand of God: for every man’s spirit follows his light and principles, but here it is beyond their light and principles. Therefore glorify God in this, and let it encourage us to be instant in prayer day and night for this poor nation, the laud of our nativity.

HT: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2016/08/15/national-sins/

His Will is the Rule by which He Acts

Edouard Dantan L'Atelier du Sculpteur“Everyone may err who hath not the rule of righteousness within him: and therefore it is impossible God should err, because his own will is the rule of his actions: He is every way a law unto himself…. Created creatures how perfect soever in their nature, have the will of God for their rule and law: which though it be within them, yet it is not Them, and so they may act beside it. The hand of the Artificer often fails in cutting or fashioning the work he is about, because his hand is not the rule by which he works: his hand works by a rule or line, his hand is not that rule or line, Therefore he sometimes strikes right, and sometimes strikes wrong; but if the hand of a man were the rule by which he works, then it were impossible that ever he should work amiss. Thus it is with God, the very will of God which acts, is the rule by which he acts, hence it is impossible for God to fail; Angels and men act by a rule prescribed, their will is one thing, and the rule is another; the power by which they work is one thing, and the direction by which they work is another; and therefore the most perfect creature may possibly swerve and err in acting; Only he cannot err in anything he doth, whose will is the perfect rule of all he doth.

~Joseph Caryl, Practical Observations on Job, 2:140.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89320-Theories-about-Adam-s-fall/page4, Comment #127