The Anger of God
James Smith, 1860
The greatness of God is unsearchable — and everything in God is great. Everything done by God, bears the stamp of his greatness. If he loves — he loves with an infinite love; and if he is angry — he is angry with an infinite anger. The love of God therefore, is unutterably glorious; and the anger of God is inconceivably dreadful. Moses when he saw God's majesty on the mount, said, "I exceedingly fear and quake," and years afterwards, though he knew God face to face, and conversed with him — yet reflecting upon what he had witnessed of his displeasure, he exclaimed, "Who knows the power of your anger!"
God is only angry with sin — for he hates nothing that he has made, apart from sin. There is something in sin that reaches to his heart, and stirs up his fiercest indignation. He is always angry with sin, see it where he may, or in whom he may. If therefore we would be clear from the wrath of God — we must get rid of sin. God's anger is like his nature — it is JUST — in proportion to the nature, number, and aggravation of the sinner's crimes. God's anger is HOLY — free from any improper bias, or impure mixture. God's anger is CONTROLLED and quiet, not turbulent and boisterous. God's anger is WISE — the very opposite of the anger that is in the bosom of fools, and arises from respect to his character, regard to his law, and concern for the good of his universe. God's anger is OMNIPOTENT — being only restrained by his justice, wisdom, and holiness, otherwise it would crush and crumble to dust every transgressor! God's anger is ETERNAL — for God must eternally hate sin, and be angry with sinners. Unless therefore sin is gotten rid of — the wrath of God abides on us forever!
The effect or manifestation of this wrath on the sinner, is compared to all that is fearful and dreadful that we know of. It is darkness — utter, total, murky darkness. It is cold, piercing, penetrating cold — making the sufferer exposed to it, to gnash his teeth. It is heat — a fire, a lake of fire, a consuming fire, fire and brimstone; the endurance of which is the second death. It is being confined in a horrid dungeon, bound with worse than iron chains, and left in black despair forever! It is an undying worm, gnawing the vitals, and causing the most intensified pain forever. God's wrath reaches to the soul — and it extends to eternity! The sufferings of the body may be dreadful — but who can guess what will be the agony of the soul, suffering under the wrath of God forever!
Well then may we ask, "Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve!" Psalm 90:11. If we ask Cain, he cries out, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.'' If we ask Judas, he says, "It renders life insupportable," and he goes and hangs himself. If we ask the infidel on his death-bed, he cries, "Hell would be an asylum — if it would only hide me from the eye of God!" If we ask fallen angels, we hear them cry out to the Savior, "What have we to do with you, Jesus Son of God; we beseech you torment us not!" If we could uncover the vault of hell, and ask lost souls, what, oh! what would they say! Say, as one of old did, "I am tormented in this flame!"
But let us go to Gethsemane and Calvary, and there we shall see something of the power of his anger. When sin was only imputed to his beloved Son, it pleased the Lord to bruise him; and being in agony, he prayed the more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Hear his deep heart-rending groans, his heavy soul-piercing sighs, and his loud and bitter cry, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" Sustained by indwelling deity, comforted by holy angels — he yet trembled, quaked, and feared; and offered up strong cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.
What must the power of the wrath of God be, which produced such dreadful effects on the pure and holy Son of God? Oh, sinner, the wrath of God will extinguish hope forever! It will prevent the enjoyment of the smallest ray of comfort forever!
Is the wrath of God thus terrible? It is! Is it certain, yes, most certain, that every impenitent sinner must endure it. May it be escaped? Yes, blessed be God, it may, and therefore it is that we write thus, that we may warn you to "flee from the wrath to come!" But it can only be escaped by faith in Jesus, by heart-felt repentance for sin, and fervent prayer to God. No duties you can perform, no sufferings you can endure — will ever deliver you. It must be faith in Jesus, and faith in Jesus alone — producing deep sorrow for sin, and bringing the soul as a suppliant into contact with God.
Hell may be escaped now — but not always. The door of mercy will soon be closed. The way of escape will soon be shut to you. Therefore today, while it is called today, flee, O flee from the wrath to come! For if you do not escape — you must endure the wrath of God forever! Think, O think what will be the bitter sufferings of the soul, upon whom the wrath of God is poured out without mixture, no mercy with it — without abatement, without cessation, always one dreadful, fearful, eternal storm! God's wrath has made him swear, that the unbelieving and the impenitent, shall not enter into his rest — and he will not, cannot violate his oath!
Let us then press home the question to our hearts? "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" None of us need to, for we may escape the lake of flaming brimstone; we may find refuge from the burning wrath of an angry God! Nor only so, we may secure the opposite — all the sweetness of his love, all the ravishing effects of his mercy, all the glories of his heaven — may be secured by us.
Jesus, is the refuge — let us flee to him. Jesus, is the hiding place — let us repair to him. Jesus is the covert from the tempest — let us betake ourselves to him. Yes, to Jesus, to Jesus let us flee! His arms are open to receive us. His heart beats high with pity and compassion for us. His blood will cleanse us from all sin. His righteousness will free us from every charge. In him — there can be no danger. In him — we have no cause for fear. Oh, those precious, those solemn words! O holy Spirit, write, O write them both on the writer's, and the reader's heart, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him!"