Tag Archive | Judgment

Winter Inevitably Follows Summer

Cymro on the Puritan Board:

The Bible and history show fluctuations in the state of the church. Winter inevitability follows summer, and declension follows spiritual prosperity. Generations grow up not knowing the God of their fathers. There are many factors to consider, but two in particular are foremost. The first is to evaluate or rather discern whether God has a controversy with His people, and that the present dearth is His judgment upon us. Indeed we wonder if His judgments are on the nations when we consider the terrible wickedness that abounds. But in it all there is a remnant according to the election of Grace, and faith is still found in the earth.

The other reason to consider is whether we pay lip service to the reality of the person of the Holy Spirit. “When He is come,”are words that afford me encouragement and comfort in this benighted scenario. I truly believe that we have grieved and quenched the blessed dove, and consequently though there is much preaching, there is very little fruit on the vine. When one reads the Acts of the Apostles, or Acts of the Spirit, we read of of steadfastness to the Apostolic doctrine and the profusion of converts that were “added to the Lord,” and “added to the church.” Three thousand through one sermon, five thousand men through another sermon, but also there were “multitudes” frequently converted, and the Lord “added daily to the church such as should be saved.” When He is come, that’s what follows!

In the church of Kirk o Shotts on Monday morning, June 21st 1630, John Livingstone a probationer preached a two and a half hour sermon, and 500 traced their conversion to that service. Just last night I read of a service in the past in my own country lasting 9hrs, and the congregation had to be sent home otherwise they would have stayed.

When He is come He will convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, come then Holy One, and lift up Christ crucified and placard Him before the eyes of sinners.

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/why-are-reformed-churches-the-minority.95265/page-2, Comment 36

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It Might Have Been Worse With Us Than It Is

Richard Sibbes (Works, Works, Vol. 4, p. 82):

[Consider] how God in justice remembereth mercy. ‘Many,’ he saith not, ‘all,’ and ‘many of you are weak;’ he takes not all away with death. It is a mercy, then, that the correction is outward in the body, weak in body, and sick. There was not a spiritual giving up to hardness of heart. Beloved! if we consider what kind of judgments spiritual judgments are, to have a seared conscience, and a hard and desperate heart, which are forerunners of hell and of eternal judgment and damnation, we would much prize mercy in judgment. Oh! it is not so with God’s church. Their visitations are in the outward man; they are weak, and sick, and die, but God is merciful to their souls, as we shall see after. And it should be an art we should learn and labour to be expert in, to consider God’s gracious dealing in the midst of his correction, that in the midst of corrections we might have thankful, and cheerful, and fruitful hearts, which we shall not have, except we have some matter of thankfulness. Consider, doth God make me weak? He might have struck me with death, or if not taken away my mortal life, he might have given me up to a spiritual death, to a hard heart, to desperation, &c. So let us search out in the visitations that we are in, always some matter of mitigation, and we shall always find that it might have been worse with us than it is.​

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/in-judgment-he-remembers-mercy.92060/, Comment 1

Where Sin Dines, Judgment Will Sup

Thomas Boston, Works, 3:196:Whoever then will have the sweet of sin, must lay their accounts with the sour of it. They that drink of the brim of that cup must drink of the dregs of it too. God has fixed shame, sorrow and torment of heart to sin, with such strong bands that none shall be able to break. Where sin dines, judgment will sup. Wrath follows it, as the shadow does the body. The stinging serpent lies on the other side of the hedge of God’s law, which they who break over will find.

That We Sin Not

Hugh Binning, Works, p. 335:

Look upon all his particular acts of care and favour towards thee, consider his judgments upon the world, upon the nation, or thine own person. Put to thine ear, and hear. This is the joint harmonious melody, this is the proclamation of all, “that we sin not,” that we sin not against so good a God, and so great a God. That were wickedness, this were madness. If he wound, it is “that we sin not:” if he heal again, it is “that we sin not.” Doth he kill? It is “that we sin not!” Doth he make alive? It is for the same end. Doth he shut up and restrain our liberty, either by bondage, or sickness, or other afflictions? Why, he means “that we sin not.” Doth he open again? He means the same thing, “that we sin no more, lest a worse thing befall us.” Doth he make many to fall in battle, and turn the fury of that upon us? The voice of it is, that you who are left behind should “sin no more.” Is there severity towards others, and towards you clemency? O the loud voice of that is, “sin not!”

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/it-is-%E2%80%9Cthat-we-sin-not%E2%80%9D.89531/, Comment 1

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

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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)