Tag Archive | Judgment

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)

Satan’s Devices: #8-By Playing Up Outward Mercies And Downplaying Outward Miseries

Pyrite foolsgold

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

By Thomas Brooks, (1608 – 1680)

SATAN’S DEVICES TO DRAW THE SOUL TO SIN

[12 devices and their remedies]

DEVICE 8. By representing to the soul the outward mercies that vain men enjoy, and the outward miseries that they are freed from, while they have walked in the ways of sin.

Says Satan, Do you see, O soul, the many blessings that such and such enjoy, who walk in those very ways that your soul startles to think of, and the many crosses that they are delivered from, even such as makes other men, who say they dare not walk in such ways, to spend their days in sighing, weeping, groaning, and mourning? and therefore, says Satan, if ever you would be freed from the dark night of adversity, and enjoy the sunshine of prosperity—you must walk in their ways.

By this stratagem the devil took those in Jer. 44:16-18, “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and sacrifice to her just as much as we like—just as we and our ancestors did before us, and as our kings and princes have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her, we have been in great trouble and have suffered the effects of war and famine.” This is just the language of a world of ignorant, profane, and superstitious souls, who would have returned to bondage, yes, to that bondage that was worse than that the Israelites groaned under.

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, solemnly to consider, That no man knows how the heart of God stands towards a person, by his outward blessings to that person. His hand of mercy may be towards a man, when his heart may be against that man, as you may see in Saul and others; and the hand of God may be set against a man, when the heart of God is dearly set upon a man, as you may see in Job and Ephraim. The hand of God was severely set against them, and yet the heart and affections of God were strongly working towards them.

No man knows either the love or hatred of God—by his outward mercy or misery towards them; for all things come alike to all, to the righteous and to the unrighteous, to the good and to the bad, to the clean and to the unclean. The sun of prosperity shines as well upon brambles of the wilderness—as upon fruit-trees of the orchard; the snow and hail of adversity comes upon the best garden—as well as upon the stinking ash-heap or the wild waste. Ahab’s and Josiah’s ends concur in the very circumstances. Saul and Jonathan, though different in their natures, deserts, and deportments; yet in their deaths they were not divided. Health, wealth, honors, crosses, sicknesses, losses, are cast upon good men and bad men promiscuously. Moses dies in the wilderness—as well as those who murmured. Nabal is rich—as well as Abraham. Ahithophel wise—as well as Solomon. Doeg is honored by Saul—as well as Joseph was by Pharaoh. Usually the worst of men have most of these outward things. Usually the holiest of men have least of earth, though most of heaven.

Cicero judged the Jews’ religion to be nothing, because they were so often overcome, and impoverished, and afflicted; and the religion of Rome to be right, because the Romans prospered and became rulers of the world; and yet, though the Romans had God’s hand, yet the Jews had his heart, for they were dearly beloved, though severely afflicted.

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That there is nothing in the world that so provokes God to be wroth and angry, as men’s taking encouragement from God’s goodness and mercy—to do wickedly. This you may see by that deluge of wrath which fell upon the old world, and by God’s raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah. This is clear in Jeremiah 44:20-28. The words are worthy of your best meditation. Oh that they were engraven in all your hearts, and constant in all your thoughts! Though they are too large for me to transcribe them, yet they are not too large for me to remember them. To argue from God’s mercy to sinful liberty—is the devil’s logic—and such logicians do ever walk as upon a mine of gunpowder ready to be blown up! No such soul can ever avert or avoid the wrath of God. This is wickedness at the height—for a man to be very bad, because God is very good. There is not a worse spirit than this in hell. Ah, Lord, does not wrath, yes, the greatest wrath, lie at this man’s door? Are not the strongest chains of darkness prepared for such a soul? To sin against mercy is bestial; no, it is worse. To render good for evil is divine, to render good for good is human, to render evil for evil is brutish; but to render evil for good is devilish; and from this evil deliver my soul, O God.

Such souls make God into a mere doll—one that will not do as he says; but they shall find God to be as severe in punishing as he is to others gracious in pardoning. Good turns aggravate unkindnesses, and our guilt is increased by our obligations.

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That there is no greater misery in this life, than not to be in misery; no greater affliction, than not to be afflicted. Woe, woe to that soul that God will not spend a rod upon! This is the saddest stroke of all—when God refuses to strike at all! (Hos. 4:17), ‘Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.’ ‘Why should you be smitten any more? you will revolt more and more’ (Is. 1:5). When the physician gives up the patient, you say, ‘Ring out his knell—the man is dead.’ So when God gives over a soul to sin without control, you may truly say, ‘This soul is lost,’ you may ring out his knell, for he is twice dead, and plucked up by the roots.

Freedom from chastisement is the mother of carnal security, the poison of religion, the moth of holiness, and the introducer of wickedness. ‘Nothing,’ said one, ‘seems more unhappy to me, than he to whom no adversity has happened.’ Outward mercies often times prove a snare to our souls. ‘I will lay a stumbling block’ (Ezek. 3:20). Vatablus’s note there is, ‘I will prosper him in all things, and not by affliction restrain him from sin.’ Prosperity has been a stumbling-block, at which millions have stumbled and fallen, and broke the neck of their souls forever! “Religion brought forth riches, and the daughter soon devoured the mother,” said Augustine. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:8-10

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the lack of wicked men, under all their outward mercy and freedom from adversity, is far greater than all their outward enjoyments. They have many mercies, yet they lack more than they enjoy. The mercies which they enjoy are nothing to the mercies they lack. It is true, they have honors and riches, and pleasures and friends, and are mighty in power; their family is established, and their offspring are before their eyes. ‘Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.’ ‘They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.’ ‘They spend their days in wealth, their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart can wish: and they have no bands in their death—but their strength is firm; they are not in trouble as other men.’

Yet all this is nothing to what they lack. They lack a saving interest in God, Christ, the Spirit, the promises, the covenant of grace, and everlasting glory. They lack acceptance and reconciliation with God; they lack righteousness, justification, sanctification, adoption, and redemption. They lack the pardon of sin, and power against sin, and freedom from the dominion of sin. They lack that favor with God, which is better than life, and that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, and that peace which passes understanding, and that grace, the least spark of which is more worth than heaven and earth. They lack a house that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. They lack those riches that perish not, the glory that fades not, that kingdom that shakes not.

Wicked men are the most needy men in the world, yes, they lack those two things that should render their mercies sweet, that is, the blessing of God, and contentment with their condition! Without these things, their heaven is but hell on this side hell. (Psalm 49:11, 73:7; Job 21:12) When their hearts are lifted up and grown big upon the thoughts of their abundance, if conscience does but put in a word and say, It is true, here is this and that outward mercy—Oh—but where is a saving interest in Christ? Where is the favor of God? Where are the comforts of the Holy Spirit? Where are the evidences for heaven? This word from conscience makes the man’s countenance to change, his thoughts to be troubled, his heart to be amazed, and all his mercies on the right hand and left to be as dead and withered. Ah, were but the eyes of wicked men open to see their spiritual needs under their temporal abundance, they would cry out and say, as Absalom did, ‘What are all these to me so long as I cannot see the king’s face?’ (2 Sam. 14:23, 32). What is honor, and riches, and the favor of creatures—so long as I lack the favor of God, the pardon of my sins, a saving interest in Christ, and the hope of glory! O Lord, give me these, or I die! Give me these, or else I shall eternally die!

Neither Christ nor heaven can be hyperbolized. A crown of gold cannot cure the headache; a velvet slipper cannot ease the gout; honor or riches cannot quiet and still the conscience. The heart of man is a three-sided triangle, which the whole round circle of the world cannot fill, as mathematicians say—but all the corners will complain of emptiness, and hunger for something else.

Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That outward things are not as they seem and are esteemed. They have, indeed, a glorious outside—but if you view their insides, you will easily find that they fill the head full of cares, and the heart full of fears. What if the fire should consume one part of my estate, and the sea should be a grave to swallow up another part of my estate! What if my servants should be unfaithful abroad, and my children should be deceitful at home! Ah, the secret fretting, vexing, and gnawing that does daily, yes hourly, attend those men’s souls whose hands are full of worldly goods!

It was a good speech of an emperor: ‘You,’ said he, ‘gaze on my purple robe and golden crown—but did you know what cares are under it, you would not take it up from the ground to have it.’ It was a true saying of Augustine on the 26th Psalm: ‘Many are miserable by loving hurtful things—but they are more miserable by having them.’ It is not what men enjoy—but the principle from whence it comes, that makes men happy. Much of these outward things do usually cause great distraction, great vexation, and great condemnation at last, to the possessors of them. If God gives them in his wrath, and does not sanctify them in his love, they will at last be witnesses against a man, and millstones forever to sink a man in that day when God shall call men to an account, not for the use—but for the abuse of mercy.

Remedy (6). The sixth remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider the end and the design of God in heaping up mercy upon the heads of the wicked, and in giving them rest and quiet from those sorrows and sufferings that others sigh under. David shows the end and design of God in this. “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life.” Psalm 73:16-20. So in Psalm 92:7, “Although the wicked flourish like weeds, and evildoers blossom with success, there is only eternal destruction ahead of them.” God’s setting them up, is but in order to his casting them down; his raising them high, is but in order to his bringing them low. Exod. 9:16: ‘And in very deed, for this cause have I raised you up, for to show in you my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.’ I have constituted and set you up as a target—that I may let fly at you, and follow you close with plague upon plague, until I have beaten the very breath out of your body, and got myself a name, by setting my feet upon the neck of all your pride, power, pomp, and glory.

Ah, souls, what man in his wits would be lifted up that he might be cast down; would be set higher than others, when it is but in order to his being brought down lower than others? There is not a wicked man in the world that is set up with Lucifer, as high as heaven—but shall with Lucifer be brought down as low as hell. Can you think seriously of this, O soul, and not say, O Lord, I humbly crave that you will let me be little in this world, that I may be great in another world; and low here, that I may be high forever hereafter. Let me be low, and feed low, and live low, so I may live with you forever; let me now be clothed with rags, so you will clothe me at last with your robes; let me now be set upon a ash-heap, so I may at last be advanced to sit with you upon your throne. Lord, make me rather gracious than great, inwardly holy than outwardly happy, and rather turn me into my first nothing, yes, make me worse than nothing, rather than set me up for a time, that you may bring me low forever. “Grant us, Lord, that we may so partake of temporal felicity, that we may not lose eternal happiness.” (Bernard).

Valens, the Roman emperor, fell from being an emperor to be a footstool to Sapor, king of Persia. Dionysius, king of Sicily, fell from his kingly glory to be a schoolmaster. The brave Queen Zenobia was brought to Rome in golden chains. Belisarius, a famous general, Henry the Fourth, Bajazet Pythias, great Pompey, and William the Conqueror, these, from being very high were brought very low; they all fell from great glory and majesty to great poverty and misery.

Remedy (7). The seventh remedy against this device of Satan is solemnly to consider, That God does often most plague and punish those whom others think he does most spare and love; that is, God does plague and punish them most with spiritual judgments—which are the greatest, the sorest, and the heaviest—whom he least punishes with temporal punishments. (Psalm 81:12, 78:26-31, 106:15) He gave them their requests—but sent leanness into their soul. It is a heavy plague to have a fat body and a lean soul; a house full of gold, and a heart full of sin. There are no men on earth so internally plagued as those who meet with least external plagues. Oh the blindness of mind, the hardness of heart, the searedness of conscience, that those souls are given up to, who, in the eye of the world, are reputed the most happy men, because they are not outwardly afflicted and plagued as other men.

Ah, souls, it were better that all the temporal plagues that ever befell the children of men since the fall of Adam should at once meet upon your souls, than that you should be given up to the least spiritual plague, to the least measure of spiritual blindness or spiritual hardness of heart. Nothing will better that man, nor move that man, who is given up to spiritual judgments. Let God smile or frown, stroke or strike, cut or kill—he minds it not, he regards it not; let life or death, heaven or hell, be set before him—it stirs him not; he is mad upon his sin, and God is fully set to do justice upon his soul. This man’s preservation is but a reservation unto a greater condemnation; this man can set no bounds to himself; he is become a brat of fathomless perdition; he has guilt in his bosom and vengeance at his back wherever he goes. Neither ministry nor misery, neither miracle nor mercy, can mollify his heart! And if this soul be not in hell, on this side hell—who is? It is better to have an ulcerated body—than a seared conscience. It is better to have no heart—than a hard heart. It is better to have no mind—than a blind mind.

Remedy (8). The eighth remedy against this device of Satan is, To dwell more upon that strict account that vain men must make for all that good that they do enjoy. “In that day men shall give an account of good things committed unto them, of good things neglected by them, of evil committed by them, and of evils allowed by them. Then shall a good conscience be more worth than all the world’s good.” (Bernard) Ah! did men dwell more upon that account that they must before long—give for all the mercies that they have enjoyed, and for all the favors that they have abused, and for all the sins they have committed—it would make their hearts to tremble and their lips to quiver, and rottenness to enter into their bones; it would cause their souls to cry out, and say, ‘Oh that our mercies had been fewer and lesser, that our account might have been easier, and our torment and misery, for our abuse of so great mercy, not greater than we are able to bear. Oh cursed be the day wherein the crown of honor was set upon our heads, and the treasures of this world were cast into our laps; oh cursed be the day wherein the sun of prosperity shined so strong upon us, and this flattering world smiled so much upon us, as to occasion us to forget God, to slight Jesus Christ, to neglect our souls, and to put far from us the day of our account!’

Philip the Third of Spain, whose life was free from gross evils, professed, that he ‘would rather lose his kingdom than offend God willingly.’ Yet being in the agony of death, and considering more thoroughly of his account he was to give to God, fear struck into him, and these words broke from him ‘Oh! would to God I had never reigned. Oh that those years that I have spent in my kingdom, I had lived a solitary life in the wilderness! Oh that I had lived a solitary life with God! How much more securely would I now have died! How much more confidently would I have gone to the throne of God! What does all my glory profit me—but that I have so much the more torment in my death?’

God keeps an exact account of every penny that is laid out upon him and his, and that is laid out against him and his; and this in the day of account men shall know and feel, though now they wink and will not understand. The sleeping of vengeance causes the overflowing of sin, and the overflowing of sin causes the awakening of vengeance. Abused mercy will certainly turn into fury. God’s forbearance of sin, is not the overlooking of sin. The day is at hand when he will pay wicked men for the abuse of old and new mercies. If he seems to be slow, yet he is sure. He has leaden heels—but iron hands. The farther he stretches his bow, or draws his arrow, the deeper he will wound in the day of vengeance. Men’s actions are all in print in heaven, and God will, in the day of account, read them aloud in the ears of all the world, that they may all say Amen to that righteous sentence that he shall pass upon all despisers and abusers of mercy.

Jerome still thought that voice was in his ears. ‘Arise you dead, and come to judgment.’ As often as I think on that day, how does my whole body quake, and my heart within me tremble.

Source: http://gracegems.org/Brooks/precious_remedies_against_satan5.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/

They Can But Will Not

StateLibQld 2 206941 Stubborn young Hereford being unwillingly lead by his attendant, RNA Show, Brisbane, 1940

 “Answer. It is granted that to punish men for doing what they cannot help, or to require of them an impossibility, would be manifestly unjust and cruel. But this God does not, do. He requires no more of men than, they are able to perform; and he punishes them only for doing those things which they could and ought to have abstained from doing. When we speak, in common language, of ability and inability, can and cannot, possible and impossible, we always have reference to men’s power and faculties of body or mind, and not at all to their inclinations. If a man has all the power. and faculties of body and mind which are necessary to do a thing, we say he is able to do it, whether he is willing or not. His ability and his willingness are different things, perfectly distinct.

A man may be able to perform a piece of work, which he has no heart to perform, and which he is totally unwilling to engage in. And again, a man may be perfectly wiling to do that which is not in his power, that which is entirely beyond his strength. One man may be able to march to the field of battle, but totally unwilling. And another may be perfectly willing to march to the field of blood, but through bodily infirmity may be unable. Ability and willingness must both unite in the same person, before he will perform any thing, but they are perfectly distinct, and our willingness constitutes no part of our ability.

It is true that willingness is sometimes styled moral ability; but it is evidently in a figurative and improper sense. According to the usual and proper meaning of the term, men are able to do every thing which they have bodily and mental strength sufficient to do, whether they are willing to exert that strength, and do the thing or not. Now, although God cannot justly require of men more than they are able to do, that is, more than they have bodily and mental strength sufficient to do, if they were so disposed; yet he may, and does, justly require of them many things which they have no disposition to do, many things which they are totally unwilling to perform. And though men cannot be justly punished for not doing those things which they are unable to do, yet they may be justly punished for not doing those things which they are able, but are unwilling to do. Men are able to comply with the invitations of the gospel, that is, they have all the bodily and mental powers that are necessary to do it, and God may justly require them to do it, whether they are willing or not; and if they do not comply, he may justly punish them for their disobedience. And his making some willing and others unwilling, does not interfere with the ability of any. Those who are unwilling are just as able as those who are willing, and are as justly required to comply. To substantiate the objection, it must be made to appear, that God imposes some constraint upon men, so that they cannot do the things he requires, even though they are willing, and desirous of doing them. This is taken for granted in the objection. This is the real meaning of the phrase, doing what they cannot help. The meaning is, that they desire and endeavor to do otherwise, but have not the necessary bodily and mental strength. If they had, they should do, otherwise.

They would, but cannot. But the fact is directly the reverse. They can, but will not. They have the necessary bodily and mental strength, but have no willingness. And this, God is not bound to give them. Should any say, that God cannot justly require of men any more than he gives them a willingness to do, as well as bodily and mental strength, this would abolish all law, and destroy the distinction between right and wrong. For if God cannot require of men any more than he makes them willing, as well as able, to do, then, since they always do what they have both strength and will to accomplish, he cannot justly require of them any more than they actually perform. And if they always do all that he requires, there is no such thing as sin in the world. It is right, therefore, for God to require of them all that they have powers and faculties sufficient to perform, all that they are able to do; and if they fail of complying through unwillingness, it is right that they should be punished. But men have all the powers and faculties necessary to comply with the invitations of the gospel, and all the commands of God, and want nothing but a willingness. They can comply, but will not. When, therefore, God punishes them for not complying, he punishes them, NOT for what they could not help, but solely for refusing to do what they could but would not.”

~Williams Weeks, Nine Sermons on the Decrees and Agency of God, 3rd ed., (Newark, N.J.: Published by the Ecclesiastical Board of Trustees for the Propagation of the Gospel. John R. Weeks, Printer), 77-80. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/89079-illustrations-of-moral-inability-%28Man-WILL-not-come-rather-than-merely-CANNOT-come%29, Comment #1

For Correction And For Mercy

Flooding at Eisenhower National Fish Hatchery (6096613101)

“Turn with me to Job 37:12,13, where we find two purposes of God for disasters.

1. The first Divine purpose for disaster is for correction or literally, the rod (Job 37:13a). Here God uses the cloud filled with rain to burst forth in judgment upon wicked and godless men in bringing floods (reminiscent of the deluge at Noah’s time) that destroy the crops, the livelihood, and the life of man. No doubt, under this heading we might include any disaster by which God would bring temporal judgment upon wicked people and nations of this world who have rejected, despised, or forgotten the Lord and His Christ, the Moral Law and Gospel of the Lord and His Christ, and the only true religion of the Lord and His Christ, biblical Christianity. This purpose displays the vindictive justice of a holy God in pouring forth His wrath upon the wicked people and wicked nations of the world as a foretaste of the everlasting judgment to come (Romans 1:18—note the present, on-going, and continuous revelation of God’s wrath in the world upon the wicked who suppress the truth God in unrighteousness, which is displayed in many ways, but must include the judgments God brings by way of disasters and calamities upon people and nations for their rebellion against the Lord and His Christ; see Psalm 2:10-12; Psalm 79:6)…

3. The second Divine purpose for disaster that comes from the cloud filled with rain in Job 37:13 is “for mercy.” Here it would seem that God brings the flood that destroys the crops and livelihood of man not only to judge impenitent people and nations, but also to show mercy to people and nations whose eyes in such disasters are opened to see the vanity of trusting in the things of this earth as the source of their safety and security, as the source of their joy and happiness, and as the source of their peace and comfort. God brings disaster so as to have the ultimate mercy upon people and nations by enlightening their minds to behold the mercy of God in Christ Jesus so that they embrace Christ by faith alone and are set free from righteous God’s judgment forever.”

~Greg L. Price

Source: http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/5911147300.pdf