"The Day of Wrath"
Wrath in man is violent, revengeful, often unjust; but the wrath of God is calm, holy, and perfectly righteous. Nothing awakens wrath in God—but sin; and none are the objects of his wrath—but obstinate offenders. His patience with such is wonderful. He bears with us just as long as justice will allow. He gives us space for repentance. He promises to receive and pardon every penitent transgressor. His mercy is sovereign, not so his wrath. He shows mercy, simply because he will—but he punishes because justice requires it. He must be just, he will be merciful. Mercy lingers over our fallen world for six thousand years; wrath will have its day when mercy leaves the throne. This is the day of salvation, when sinners may be saved freely, easily, and forever. That will be the day of vengeance, when sinners will be punished justly, fearfully, eternally. Never was the day of wrath so near as it is now, and never were sinners so near to that tremendous period. Yet how few seriously think of it, how few are properly affected by it!
"The day of wrath!" Must I meet it? Yes—and so must you, reader! We cannot escape meeting the period—but we may escape the wrath. There is a hiding-place where wrath will not find us. There is a refuge where wrath cannot reach us. There is a high tower where we shall be far above, out of the reach of it. That hiding-place, that refuge, that high tower, is Jesus—Jesus, as the great sacrifice for sin—Jesus, the accepted substitute, who obeyed the law for sinners—Jesus, who will be to all who believe in him, what the ark was to Noah, when the flood buried the mountains and hid the face of the earth. Jesus, who is to the soul that flies to him for shelter, what the city of refuge, in the land of Canaan, was to the manslayer.
That Jesus now calls us to him, invites us to his throne of grace, and promises to give to every one who accepts of his invitation, safety, peace and rest. If men did but believe that the day of wrath was coming, and that it was sure to overtake them, they would surely look out for a place of safety, they would listen to the Savior's gracious invitation, nor rest until they found rest at his feet. But unbelief is so powerful in the heart of man by nature, it works so secretly, so insidiously, that it is not detected, even while it is so clearly displayed.
We are all infidels by nature. None of us believe God; no, not even when we admit the Bible to be his book, indited by his Spirit, and written by his servants. But for unbelief, every sinner who reads of "the wrath to come," of "the day of vengeance of our God," of the "day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ," when "he shall render to every one according to his works," when "the wicked shall depart into everlasting fire—but the righteous into life eternal," would tremble. Trembling he would ask, "What shall I do to be saved?" And, being directed to Jesus, would neither linger nor loiter until he had found "peace with God, through the blood of his cross." There is no shelter from "the wrath to come," but in Jesus; and no one will find shelter then—who does not flee for refuge to him now.
"The day of wrath!" What provision are we making for it? It is said of some, "you are treasuring up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath." Treasure up wrath! Yes, they treasure up wrath! Every time that they reject the gospel anew, every time that they slight the Savior's call afresh, every time they stifle the cries of an honest conscience, every time they strangle their convictions—they add to the degree of wrath that will be measured out to them by and bye.
To prefer sin—to holiness,
to prefer self—to Christ,
to prefer the vanities of time—to the glories of eternity,
to prefer the world—to God,
is to treasure up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath. And this is just what every unconverted sinner is doing. Millions are doing it at this very moment, and they are doing it every day. They are moral suicides. They do not destroy their existence—but they cut themselves off from all hope of everlasting life.
Oh, sinner, "you have destroyed yourself!" This is God's testimony, delivered in the most simple, pointed, and pathetic terms. "Destroyed yourself!" yes, and that while boasting of the full use of reason. "Destroyed yourself!" yes, and that notwithstanding the gospel and the ministers of Christ were continually crying to you, "Do yourself no harm!" "Destroyed yourself!" yes, and that deliberately, not by some sudden stroke, in some sudden fit of passion—but by repeated strokes; in the sight of heaven, in prospect of hell, under the banner of hope, in sight of the refuge, while the sounds of mercy were ringing in your ears. "Destroyed yourself!"
What! and while thus boasting of the power of reason; while warned, invited, and exhorted to the contrary; so daringly, and so deliberately? Who, then, will pity you? Who will attempt to put in one word for you, at the bar of the Judge of all? How can you pity yourself, or how excuse yourself? One would think you would be ashamed to lift up your head, or look one of the fallen angels in the face. But,
"The day of wrath" is not yet come. It is the day of mercy yet. Jesus is on his throne to give repentance to the suppliant, and the remission of sins to those who honestly and heartily confess them before him. There is yet mercy with the Lord, that he may be feared, and plenteous redemption, that the slaves of sin and Satan may apply to him for deliverance. His merit is infinite, and his mercy is as vast as his merit. He is now riding forth in his gospel chariot, and dispensing pardons to thousands; go where this gospel is published—he will pass by that way—and do as the poor blind beggar did, in the days of his flesh, cry out heartily and importunately, "Jesus, have mercy on me!" Believe his word, plead at his throne, seek until you obtain his Holy Spirit, and then, in prospect of "the day of wrath," you will be able to sing with David, "You are my hiding-place; you shall preserve me from trouble, you shall compass me about with songs of deliverance." Oh, that the ever blessed Spirit of God would accompany the reading of these lines with his blessing, and make them the power of God unto the reader's salvation! Jesus is coming, and with him the day of wrath, and perdition of ungodly men; it must be here soon, it may be very soon; therefore, hasten, and escape to the refuge before it is too late!