The Careless Admonished!
James Smith, 1864
"Be troubled, you careless ones!" Isaiah 32:11
Those who are at peace with God, who walk in fellowship with God, and habitually strive to honor God — have no reason to be troubled. Nothing should . . .
disturb their peace,
perplex their mind,
or cause them anxiety.
All is well with them, and all will be well with them both in time and eternity.
And yet we often find such people worried and troubled about many things. They listen to Satan, yield to unbelief, or judge of things by appearances — and the result is anxiety, vexation, and trouble. Beloved, let us make sure of reconciliation to God, let us endeavor to get and keep close to God, and then let us sing, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble! Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging!"
But there are some who ought to be troubled, they ought to tremble, and be anxious, for God tells them so. And yet such seldom are. They are careless, or very unconcerned. Nothing seems to alarm them. They take most things as they come, and let them pass without much concern. There is an evenness about their disposition, and an easiness of temper possessed by them. They have no faith in God's word — or fear of God's wrath. They are not depressed by doubts, or excited by hope. They may have a form of godliness, or they may not,.just as it happens; — they certainly have no real godliness. They are in a false security. Careful for time — but careless about eternity! They look to the present — but leave the future to look to itself. They care for men — but care nothing for God!
Such people are often admired, for they are guilty of no glaring violations of the law, or open transgression of the commandments. They pass for good, moral, upright characters; and are the more esteemed by some because they make no serious profession of religion. They think that God is merciful, that he is satisfied with a decent exterior — in a word, that he is "altogether such a one as themselves." They cannot believe that the threatenings of God's word apply to them, or that it is at all likely that God will send them to Hell; for if he does, what will become of the thousands whom they look upon as so much worse than themselves?
Should any such read these lines, I would say to them, "Hear the word of the Lord," he speaks to you, he says; "Be troubled, you careless ones!" You are in danger, in imminent danger — and it is so much the greater because you do not perceive it. God's law requires what you have never rendered, and it threatens what you must endure — unless you escape by a way of which at present, you to have no conception. Christ's gospel presents what you have never received — but you must receive it, or suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Your morality will not screen you. Your occasional attendance at the house of prayer, or performance of religious duties, will not secure you. You lie open on all sides to the thunders of God's law, and to the threatenings of Christ's gospel.
Well, then, may you be called upon to be anxious; to think; to be concerned for your safety, to fear the wrath you have incurred; to pray for the pardon you need; to flee immediately to Jesus — and thus provide yourself with a shelter, a place of safety from the coming storm!
Careless sinner — think!
Complacent soul — be anxious!
Self-satisfied professor of religion — tremble!
Wrath is coming!
Danger is near!
The storm is gathering!
The heavens will soon gather blackness,
the earth will soon reel to and fro like a drunkard,
the Judge of all will soon appear,
the judgment will commence,
the books will be opened,
and you will be judged out of the things which are written in the books! Those books contain an account of . . .
the state of your hearts,
your secret thoughts,
your private and public conduct,
the motives which have influenced you,
the rule that guided you,
the ends you aimed at,
every duty you nave neglected,
every sin you have committed, and especially the greatest of all your sins — your rejection of the blessed Savior!
What a record those books contain!
What an exposure will then be made.
What surprise you will feel.
What alarm will fill your soul.
What dread will seize upon your spirit.
What tremendous forebodings will agitate your heart.
What an awful, unexpected portion will be assigned you!
Tremble, then, you careless ones! Be troubled, you complacent ones — who go on from day to day . . .
as if the law of God was repealed,
as if the gospel was a fable, and
as if the judgment was a mere bugbear to frighten the weak and timid!
Ah, you will find it to be a fearful reality!
"Be troubled!" for God bids you. He bids you in mercy. He bids you to be troubled now — that you may not be troubled forever. May you be troubled . . .
with conviction of sin,
with alarm on account of your danger,
with concern to escape the sinner's doom,
and to seek and find a saving interest in the dear Redeemer.
You have slighted him so long — but he is now willing to receive you. You have rejected his loving invitation — but he still says to you, "Come, and I will give you rest." The kind and gracious Savior has long waited, that he may be gracious unto you; he is still waiting, that he may show mercy unto you. He looks upon you with pity, he speaks to you in words of kindness, he sends to you messages of tenderest love.
"Be troubled" now, or you will be at death. Think, oh, think, how sad it will be, when heart and flesh are failing, when the muscles have failed, when the nerves are unstrung, when the poor body is racked with pain and just about to pass through the agonies of death — to have the soul troubled for its safety. To see itself exposed to the just wrath of an offended God! To feel itself just going to be forced into the presence of a rejected and insulted Savior to be judged. To perceive that devils are waiting around the dying pillow, to seize the departing spirit and convey it to the regions where death, darkness, and despair forever reign!
"Be troubled," for if you are not troubled now, you will be beyond the grave! Yes, when you see that you are excluded from hope, placed beyond the reach of mercy, and exposed to eternal misery — by your own fault! It is this thought which will, like a never-dying worm, or never-wearied serpent — wound, distress, and agonize your immortal spirit. Oh, to think: "I was once in the land of hope; the scepter of mercy was held out to me — but I would not touch it! God called me and exhorted me to come to him — that my sins might be pardoned, and my soul saved — but I would not go to him! Oh, detestable folly! Oh, unparalleled stupidity! Oh, strange madness! But now it is too late, too late, too late! My doom is fixed, my fate is sealed, I am lost — and entirely by my own fault!
Sinner, this is not true of you yet. Reader, you may now escape from this justly to be dreaded doom. God calls to you; Jesus invites you; the Holy Spirit, by these lines, strives with you; and the writer, with every true believer, unites to warn you, invite you, and entreat you to flee from the wrath to come! Listen to the warning voice. Receive the gracious invitation. Yield to the kind entreaty. Flee, flee at once to Jesus! Seek safety at his cross! Seek a pardon from his hands! Seek a full, free, present, and everlasting salvation in his name. Salvation is a favor — and you may obtain it. It is a free gift — and God is willing to bestow it. It is a present blessing, and you may receive it. "Ask — and you shall receive; seek — and you shall find; knock — and it shall be opened unto you. For every one who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened."
"But since you rejected Me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out My hand, since you ignored all My advice and would not accept My rebuke — I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you! Then they will call to Me — but I will not answer; they will look for Me — but will not find Me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept My advice and spurned My rebuke — they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes! For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them!" Proverbs 1:24-32