By J.C. Ryle, written during the Great Cattle Plague of England, 1865-1867.
Follow the Source link below to read the full text. Believe me, it’s worth reading!!
‘Can anyone give a better account of the cattle plague? If he can, let him speak out like a man, and tell us why it has come. To say that it originated in another land; that it is not a new but an old plague; that it has done great harm in days gone by — all this is evading the question. I ask to be told why it has come upon us now? How and in what way can the outbreak be accounted for at this particular period? What possible causes can be assigned for it that have not existed for hundreds of years? I believe these questions cannot be answered. I believe that the only cause that we must come to as last is, the finger of God!’
I read this some while ago now at the recommendation of a friend (Thanks Nick!). Having checked the revisions, I first started writing this over a year ago. I’m staggered at how things have moved!
The author, Mick Hulme is an atheist but the subject of Free Speech is something that should unite both Atheist and Christian alike and this book does that. It’s been in my ‘Draft’ folder for a while but the book’s relevance continues. Indeed, the book seems to have more relevance each week. There’s so much to quote you might as well go and buy it. The following extracts will suffice for now. Note especially this line: ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit‘. So talking and talking back. Sounds very much like a conversation – even a heated conversation.
‘If it is to mean anything, free speech has to live up to its name. This is the hardest thing for many who claim to endorse the principle to remember in practice. It means that what others say or write need not conform to what you, I, or anybody else might prefer.
Here is the terrible truth about free speech. Anybody can choose to write, blog, tweet, chant, preach, phone a radio program or shout at a television set. Not all of them will have the purity of soul of Jesus Christ or Joan Rivers, the wisdom of Socrates or Simon Cowell, or the good manners of Prince Harry or Piers Morgan. That’s tough. They still get the same access to free speech as the rest of us, whether we like it or not.
Defending the unfettered Free in free speech is not a question of endorsing whatever objectionable or idiotic things might be written or said. Nobody had to find Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons insightful or hilarious in order to stand by its right to publish them. Nor is it a question of being soft and suffering in silence. Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.
The Free in free speech does mean recognising that free speech is for fools, fanatics and the other fellow too. Like all true liberties, free speech is an indivisible and universal right. We defend it for all or not at all.’
Trigger Warning: Is the fear of being offensive killing free speech?, Mick Hume (Pages. 12 & 13).
In practice, this isn’t easy for Christians – or for anyone else for that matter. Having our faith and our Saviour ridiculed in public isn’t pleasant but is nothing new. And it’s happening all the time directly and indirectly. (I didn’t say we have to like it) Why other lobby groups expect a free pass on abuse and ridicule is quite frankly beyond me. Welcome to the real world. Christians have been living with this reality for centuries. Christians have been pilloried, abused, imprisoned, made fun of, and even burnt. Now, especially in The West, it’s shaming, losing your livelihood and trial by Media. In other countries, right now, like China for example, it’s another story.
In order to apply the principles of democracy, tolerance and free speech, which the UK is supposed to stand for, and even exports (allegedly), is it unreasonable to ask for the liberty to speak freely? By speaking freely I mean as Mick Hume writes ‘Free speech means you are also free to talk back as you see fit.’ This freedom is disappearing. We thank God for the freedoms we enjoy and we should pray that it continues. But what to do? The temptation is to lie down and simply hope it will all go away and suddenly as if by magic all our liberties will be restored. It’s not going to happen. You might remember when Boris Johnson brought the topic of Free-Speech to the fore (which BTW has come back several times – including ‘Any Questions’ BBC Radio 4).
At the end of the book, Mick Hulme has provided a glossary, if you will, of anti-free speech Trigger Warnings that were trotted out several times over the comments by Boris. Nothing has changed in the intervening period, our liberties, or lack of them, continually slip away. How things change, Boris Johnson is now Prime Minister. Incidentally, ‘Boris’ is a passionate believer in Free Speech (correct me if I’m wrong). Consider the torrent of abuse he receives – including from Christians. Just in the last week a Judge ruled against a Doctor for not referring to someone by their preferred way of being addressed. Again, I’m just amazed at how fast things are moving.
Here’s the first two of Mick Hulme’s Glossary:
‘This is not a free-speech issue.’
‘This is a pretty sure sign that yes, it is. The first shot fired in the silent war on free speech is often an assurance that the bans or proscriptions on speech being demanded really have nothing to do with attacking freedom of expression. Of course, the fraudsters assure us that they support free speech, but this is about something else – hate or harassment, national security or personal safety. What they usually mean is ‘This not a me-speech issue’. It is not infringing on their free speech, so it’s not a problem. But free speech is not the same as me-speech, never mind me-me-me speech. It is always about defending freedom for the other fellow, for the one who thinks differently.’
Incidentally, there have a few discussions regarding our freedom to Speak and interesting, and alarming, to note the frequency these warnings given by Mick Hume are used. But here’s another one that you will probably have noticed. One more:
‘Of course I believe in free speech, but…’
‘This is the one most often guaranteed to give the game away that no, in fact, you don’t. Ours is the age of the but-heads, when almost nobody opposes free speech ‘in principle’, but Principle is seemingly another country and they do things differently there. In Practice, back here on Earth, many have a ‘but’ to wave around in the face of free speech to explain why the freedom to express an opinion should go thus far, but no further, like ‘free’-range livestock caged in a pen. This might sound reasonable. But (to use the only language some people seem to understand) the problem is that, like all meaningful liberties, free speech has to be a universal and indivisible right. Once you apply a ‘but’ impose conditions or attach a string, it ceases to be a right. Instead it becomes a concession to be rationed by somebody in authority. Those ubiquitous ‘buts’ don’t just qualify a commitment to free speech, they crush it. To claim to believe in free speech, but … is akin to insisting that you believe in an Almighty God, but you don’t think He’s all that. It might be better if the but-heads came clean and confessed that they don’t really believe in free speech after all.’
Having said all the above, does that mean we can say whatever we like in an absolute sense? By absolute, I mean saying whatever you like without any eternal consequence. I accept that as Christians we ought to weigh our words carefully and I’ll be the first to confess that I may have overstepped the mark on occasion. We should all consider some words from the Bible. Of course, the Bible is itself soon to be labeled Hate Speech (Gen 1:27). The Bible is considered by some as outrageous, and probably to some extent by Mick Hume, but he doesn’t (I assume) want to close me down or have me arrested for having a different view or even for calling him a sinner. The fact is, Jesus said that every idle word we say will be brought into the judgment.
Mat 12:36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless (idle AV) word they speak, Mat 12:37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ESV)
That is serious stuff but I still believe people have the right to call me a nutcase and say what they like about the Christian faith. In this life Jesus said every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven: except a final rejection of the Salvation offered by God. But right now, your sin, no matter how grievous, and no matter how you may have railed against your God, it can all be forgiven.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Move away from an objective morality and here’s where it leads. Some selected quotes from Al Mohler’s The Briefing Transcript:
‘They are now killing children in Belgium. We’re talking about euthanasia, and we’re talking about children seventeen and under.’
‘We are often told that arguments that say “this will follow that” are slippery slope arguments that are intellectually indefensible. Here, it’s not just the warning of a slippery slope, it’s a slope that has proved itself to be slippery in a most deadly way. By the way, slippery slope arguments are only invalid if they come without the kind of explanation of causality. In this case, the causality is abundantly apparent.’
(Or, as James White would say, That’s not a slippery slope, that’s a cliff!)
Here’s the terrible logic!
‘Back in 2014, one of the Belgian medical authorities who promoted the change said this, and I quote, “Why wouldn’t you give children who are incurably sick and who are unbearably suffering the same possibilities adults have?”…’ ‘…As you look back at that statement made by Dr. Jan Bernheim–that’s the medical authority who argued that children should have the same rights as adults when it comes to euthaooking at the doctor’s language, he said that children should have “The same possibilities adults have.” Well, what is this possibility? It is the possibility to request to death and to have others administer that death.
Dystopia is soon coming to a Healthcare facility near you!
Listen to Wednesday’s edition (8th August 2018) of The Briefing:
The following is a report from Len, a church worker closely involved with the 8th Amendment issues and who regularly speaks with people. So this isn’t a second-hand report but from someone directly involved in the 8th Amendment ‘NO’ campaign and with life issues. There’s also a video at the bottom of the page he sent me. This is of interviews with local Pastors and local church members – one in particular that speaks specifically of her experience of a ‘Hard Case’.
Currently, the Irish Constitution contains an article numbered 40 in the third subsection of section 3. It states:
‘’The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
The Irish people voted in a majority to amend our constitution for the eighth time in 1983 to include that article. And because of its presence, elective termination of the unborn has been illegal on our shores for 35 years.
But on Friday, May 25th of 2018, the Irish people are going to the poles once more, but this time we are being asked whether the 8th Amendment should be removed. Yes, or No. If yes, Article 40.3.3 of the constitution will read,
“Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy”.
If you are following, the removal of the 8th amendment will mean Abortion will no longer be illegal, but allowed in the state. The Government has draft legislation ready to go, which includes:
-The provision of Terminations up to 12 weeks “without specific indication” ie. without any reason given.
-Provision of Termination up until “viability” (currently around 24 weeks) based on health grounds
Gestational limits will not apply in cases of a foetal condition or on grounds of risk to health.
Anyone with any knowledge of recent Irish history will understand this proposed new direction as being a serious liberalisation of Ireland’s Abortion laws. And it seems, from my perspective, exactly one week away from polling day, that the Yes side is winning. When you listen to anyone who is pro-repeal of the 8th, they will be keen to highlight the rights of the woman.
-How she is being forced to carry her pregnancy.
-How we already have abortion in Ireland in that 12 women and girls every day will either travel to the UK for a termination, or obtain illegal abortion pills online – therefore we must show compassion to our own.
That is the arguments they have when they spin the truth. And they come from the top down. From our Prime Minister/ Taoiseach (Tee-shock), our very own minister for Health, and our minister for Children. Yes, our minister for Children.
But they are also armed with false truths.
The public are being deluded in thinking that the 8th Amendment is responsible for taking the lives of some women in the past 35 years. That the doctors hands are tied when it comes to treating the most ill women who are also pregnant, because it might harm the baby.
I recently met a woman on the doors whose “friend” was denied cancer treatment because she was pregnant.
This type of scenario is just not created by the 8th amendment, Irish doctors are free to do all they can to save the mother, and if the foetus passes away as a result, that is not illegal, as they weren’t electing to target the life of the baby.
But this is what people are believing, and the Yes side are happy in peddling that lie.
Unfortunately too, radio presenters, therefore the populous, are fixated on the “hard cases”.
“What about the 11 year old girl who was violated by a family relation, should she be forced to carry the DNA of her rapist?” Pat Kenny, a Veteran Irish broadcaster of 41 years asked Dr. Jean Engela of the ICBR (Irish Centre of Bioethical Reform) this week.
All Dr. Jean had to do was highlight the humanity of the unborn child, that no matter who anyone’s father or mother was, they had a right to exist in and of themselves. That life doesn’t have a right to exist merely because of the 8th amendment, all the 8th amendment does is recognise the pre-existing right to life anyone has – because they are human! There are difficult and tragic cases that we must be ready to show much support and compassion to, but Ireland is not being asked to legislate for the tough cases.
Ireland is being asked whether we want to introduce Abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks, and for the vague and unspecified “health grounds” up to 6 months.
This is what I try to leave people thinking when I encounter them on the doors.
There are encouragements that I draw from:
The Yes side has lost support in the most recent polls (though still hold a majority). We hope that will continue up until polling.
If “Brexit” and “Trump” have taught us all anything, it ain’t over until it’s over!
Right now, People’s opinion of the health service has dropped due to a Cervical Smear Test scandal, in which a number of women were given misdiagnoses, leading to a number of preventable deaths. Do the Irish people trust the same politicians to bring in and oversee Abortion “Health Care”? Hopefully not.
Urban/Rural Divide. I live in the City, which is traditionally more liberal than the more rural places in the country, so perhaps my perception is skewed.
Jesus is still on the throne!
So please pray that the people will vote “No” on May 25th.
-Pray that the truth of what takes place in Abortion not be avoided in the debates on the radio and TV over the next few weeks. The statistics for Ireland’s radio listening habit’s floor me every time I read them, it has been shown that “82% of ALL adults in the Republic (that’s more than 3.1 million ) listen to on average 4 hours of radio, every day”. This is how people’s minds are being made up, so pray that the bias the media have will be evident, and that strong pro-life arguments will prevail.
-Pray that the Christians will be bold to speak up for the unborn to their friends, family and colleagues.
-Pray that regardless of the outcome, Christians will be reminded that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the LORD Jesus Christ”.
B.S. in Mathematics – California Institute of Technology Ph.D. in Mathematics – Harvard University M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary Th.M. in Apologetics – Westminster Theological Seminary M.Litt. in New Testament – University of Cambridge Th.D. in New Testament – University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
I hope Dr Poythress will forgive me but as impressive as that list is (and it is), there is ONE vitally important thing this teaches us. And I hope Christian academics will be in agreement.
The ONE main lesson it teaches is that rejecting the truth claims of the Christian faith has absolutely NOTHING to do with learning or intelligence – despite what Richard Dawkins (and others) may say. Not a single person rejects Christ because they have a superior intellect but because they are just like everyone else, sinners, rebelling against their Creator and God. They are just the same as those that rejected Christ when He was on earth ‘We will not have this man rule over us’ (Luke 19:14). But praise God, this man (Jesus) receives sinners (Luke 15:2)! The question is, who is this man? (Heb 1:3)
Let me put it another way. If you are rejecting Christ because you believe you have a superior intellect; seriously, you must be living in Trumpton.
This is a post from 2010. Thought I’d reblog it – hope you like it.
I had no idea that it had been 50 silent years for the SETI project. Material World on Radio 4 (BBC) interviewed Dr Frank Drake (Chairman of the Board of the SETI Institute) inventor or originator of what is known as The Drake Equation. The equation is a series of guesses based on the assumption that life is ‘out there’ resulting in what scientists might call a best guestimate. [I hope I’ve not misrepresented here as this is not my intention at all.] The interview on Material World was fascinating. Dr Drake was faced with the fact of 50 years of total silence. Did this put him off – not a bit of it. I suppose in the end it comes down to wishful thinking. I was tempted to say faith – but true faith must have an object. But because there is no evidence of life, in fact no life, no object, no faith, just wishful thinking. There must be life ‘out there’ because, well there just must be.
This is interesting – and tragic – because if Dr Drake applied a similar set of guesses and called it The God Equation he would be convinced in far less time than 50 years that there is a divine creator. The evidence of a creator is overwhelming. But Dr Drake and others simply do not want to believe it – so it can’t be true because well it just can’t be.
What I do applaud is the honesty of Dr Drake. There was no attempt to falsify or weasel his way out of the argument. He’s a believer just like Mulder – though with less proof – and will not be dissuaded.
As Christians we should praise and thank God because left to ourselves there is no difference. We suppressed the truth about God because we didn’t like where it led us – to God. Even with overwhelming evidence of a God and a Saviour, still we would not bow the knee to King Jesus. Ah but He sends His Word & Spirit – it’s all of His grace. There’s real hope then for people like Dr Drake because it’s not dependent on how bright we are but how Gracious God is.
I can’t believe this has sat in my ‘Drafts’ box for almost a year. It’s true. So with a few edits and additions it should still make sense as this year I aim to hit the deadline!
July 8th is the anniversary of the most famous – or infamous – sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards at Enfield, Connecticut July 8, 1741 on the text ‘Their foot shall slide in due time’ Deut. 32:35 with the title; ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God’.
On July 7th (2014) I was talking to a Christian work colleague about this sermon though completely unaware of the date. They had never heard of it. The very next day I discovered ‘Issues etc’ had reviewed the sermon on July 7th (2014) in ‘celebration’ of the following historic day. I related this the following day at work. Then on that Sunday evening (2014) it was mentioned again (unaware of the date I think) as part of the introduction to the ministry at our Church. So as the sermon is ‘still’ on my mind I’ll get to it..
It’s been some while since reading the sermon and because I suspect a good number of people will be completely unaware of the sermon by Edwards I mention it here. Before saying much I needed to re-read the sermon. The sermon text is formatted very well for reading or printing HERE.
You will find the sermon text appearing in anthologies in many University departments, and not just in Departments of Religion but in English & History departments and will probably find it in Psychology as well. Check out your University Library catalogue. It will mostly be an object of wonder and incredulity that such a great mind was able to produce something so utterly horrific – so would say the secular mind and sadly I suspect many Christians. The fact that Edwards was one of the greatest minds America has ever produced was a source of amazement to Perry Miller. Miller thought Edwards religion ‘a waste of an intellect’. I think this quote is in Millers’s volume on Edwards. Funny how it didn’t stop Miller spending most of his life studying him and The Puritans though!
I was surprised to find Issues etc both critiquing and criticising the sermon, especially for its lack of Gospel content. It was an eye opener for me (my naivety) regarding Lutheranism – at least that section of it. I completely disagree. Set in the context of Edwards target parishioners, the sermon and the fact that it wasn’t his regular topic should make us cautious in analysing the sermon. Back in Edwards day there was an acceptance that God hates and judges sin. I also disagree as to its Gospel content or application. It blazes out against the backdrop of God’s wrath. The context of the sermon is that in the midst of a ‘Revival’ where many sinners are turning to Christ for salvation the people in Enfield are careless about the things of God, careless for their souls and are not embracing the Saviour by responding to the Gracious invitation of The Gospel. This is stated in the very first sentence of the sermon – ‘…. God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as in verse 28) void of counsel, having no understanding in them’.
‘When Isaac Watts received the printed version of the sermon he wrote on his copy: “A most terrible sermon, which should have had a word of Gospel at the end [of] it, though I think ’tis all true”. Edwards had offered this one brief Gospel word, but if one had taken this sermon as characteristic of his preaching, it would have been dreadfully out of balance. Edwards could take it for granted, however, that a New England audience knew well that Gospel remedy. The problem was to get them to seek it.’
Also see Iain Murray’s book ‘Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography’ page 169 ff.
The sermon is mentioned on page 87 in ‘America: A Narrative History’ by George Brown Tindall & David Emory Still (1997, 4th Edition) as ‘his most famous sermon’. ‘America’ was a course textbook for A History of America course that I took while studying for a BA at Warwick University.
The sermon was preached by Edwards several times, at least twice anyway. According to Harry S. Stout it was preached at Edwards church in Northampton with little effect (The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, Hart, Lucas, Nichols, Eds. p.43). But when it was preached at Enfield ‘the effects were extraordinary’. An eye-witness account by the Reverend Stephen Williams tells that, ‘before ye sermon was done there was a great moaning and crying out throughout ye whole House. What shall I do to be saved-oh I am going to Hell-oh what shall I do for a christ etc. etc.-so that ye minister was obliged to desist. [The] shrieks and crys were piercing and Amazing. (p.43)’. It seems then, Edwards was unable to finish the sermon due to cries of the affected people crying out for mercy.
I’ll just make a few observations with appropriate quotes from the sermon. Followed by a closing application.
Before moving on however, let’s note the title. Three words that do not sit well with our modern world – Sinners, Angry & God.
Once the meaning is grasped and even if it isn’t, people do not like the idea of being called a ‘sinner’. Never have, and never will. Why do people take umbrage and think there is something special about them that entitles a free pass? It’s our pride that is offended; though there is nothing to be proud of before Almighty God. We are all in the same boat. The Bible plainly tells us ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’. Apart from the Grace of God we are all condemned. It’s a great leveler.
Being angry these days is not an option. Anybody that is angry is in danger of receiving at the very least a bad press or even the sack. But we should be very careful and never think that God’s anger is like ours. God’s anger is always a Righteous & Holy anger. The object of His anger is anything that doesn’t conform to His Glorious character – that’s us. We are rebel sinners, shaking our fists at God – either consciously or unconsciously. And we don’t like anyone pointing that out to us. Frankly, if we had any sense and were in our right mind, this sermon should scare the pants off us and drive us to Christ in repentance and faith.
Note Edwards God (The God of The Bible) is not the modern manifestation of God – a whimsical fluffy deity able to be manipulated by His creatures. Typically, recent discussions in the CofE and the ‘Gay’ marriage debate vision a God that moves with the times without a care for what He has said in His Word (The Bible).
Note the following passages that should disabuse sinful pretentious men of a fluffy view of The Almighty in their rebellion against God:
‘The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this.
“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell,
but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his
sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation…’
Edwards moves on setting out several ‘considerations’ that back up this truth about God:
‘…. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defense from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. ….’
God stands as the Potter. We are but clay. Rebellious clay at that. These are terrible truths. In the last paragraph of the section where he lays out our plight before God, he writes:
‘…. thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, ….’
Edwards moves into his application and tells us again the purpose of the message. ‘The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ.’ Sometimes we hear sermons and it can be difficult to know just who the preacher is addressing. Not so with Edwards. It’s those people in the congregation that are rejecting the Gospel and yet still presume come the day of wrath God will welcome them into heaven. This is a sermon of compassion, of love for the people and love for the honour of God and His truth as found in the Gospel of Christ.
To hear sermons on this topic today are relatively rare. Are they rare because as people, including preachers, we are not so conscious or aware of God’s Holiness and His burning purity or hatred of sin. That’s a bad thing. The fault is in us, not with Edwards. And yet probably like you I’ve sat under so-called Hell-Fire’ preaching where the people are completely unmoved. Some years ago I had the opportunity of preaching to a congregation of elderly people. This meeting would happen once a month. As you stand at the end and they file past to have their cup of tea they say something along the lines of ‘lovely sermon’. You have just preached to them the dreadful consequences of being lost, of not repenting, of rejecting Christ and they say ‘lovely sermon’. They are unmoved – at least outwardly. O how we need the Spirit of God to move in the hearts of the unregenerate, to awaken them (maybe you) to their need. I do not criticised these things, but it’s not our polished delivery, it’s not our pulpit eloquence or our deep learning that raises the dead – it’s the Spirit of God.
Edwards in the final sections of the sermon urges his hearers;
‘And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?’
‘And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now harken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence’.
‘Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation: Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”‘
Observations & Comments
It’s true, it is a terrifying sermon. And yet, it will continue to be dissected, critiqued and criticised. It will also be ignored. Did they not do this with Jesus too when upon the earth.
Even many Christians have never heard of it. Are we embarrassed by it? By its plainness of speech. Does not Edwards accurately describe our condition before a Holy God. Does not Edwards rightly expose us all to the God of the Bible? This is no whimsical deity that can be manipulated by our supposed good deeds. There is only one remedy for our hopeless estate – the blood of Christ!
An Application for Today
Just as Edwards people were not embracing the Gospel, we in the West take for granted the love of God and are just as careless for the things of the true and living God. There’s a lot of talk about God’s love today, but not a lot of talk about it being a Holy & Righteous love. It’s spoken of as if we somehow are doing God a favour by allowing Him to love us. The attitude is that God will love us anyway no matter how much we reject and twist His Word. We re-define marriage, we murder children in the womb, we abuse His good gifts of male & female and yet expect Him to just roll over, ignore His Word and love us anyway. We expect to Him love us with no repentance and without The Gospel. Politicians – like David Cameron & Barrack Obama – speak loosely of ‘The Christian Faith’ or of the love of God but utterly reject His Word and treat The Lord Christ as if He was just one option out a plethora of religions. There are no options. They are presumptuous, in many ways the worst kind of sinner. Christ is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth and the ONLY life. To reject Him is to reject God’s way, God’s truth and God’s life as offered in the Gospel. The are only two options – it’s either repent & believe the Gospel or expect to be cast into hell. The sermon by Edwards is criticised, rejected as abhorrent, as Politically Incorrect, as divisive, as Hate Speech, but is it loving to tell people, sinners, that all will be well when the truth is their Christ rejecting ideologies will sweep them into Hell & Judgement. I say no.
Those of us that by the grace of God have been brought to repentance faith – we know our hearts are wicked and depraved and without the grace of God would be swept into hell. Our hearts too are ‘idol factories’ and are no better than the worst of sinners. Like Paul we know in some measure the terror of the Lord and so persuade men to repent and believe the Gospel of the grace of God.
We perhaps work with people or have family members that have heard ‘the joyful sound that Jesus saves’ but say it isn’t for them. They assume all will be well – whatever that means. But all will not be well. The judgement upon those that have been surrounded by Christians will be truly awful. It isn’t just a case of passing over Christianity in preference for another religion, or even no religion, but they have in fact rejected the grace of God. They are in the world but without hope. They will be lost to the torments of hell.
May we as God’s people be challenged to consider just how gracious and merciful God has been to us. Will you, O lost sinner not see your danger and flee to Christ.