More Severe Punishment
James Smith, 1860
The gospel places us in a very solemn position. Coming as it does, as a direct message from God, we are bound to receive it, believe it, respect it, and act upon it.
Its invitations should be received,
its promises should be embraced,
its doctrines should be believed,
its precepts should be obeyed.
It should be acted upon immediately it is heard; and if it were . . .
pardon and reconciliation to God would be sought,
peace and comfort would be enjoyed,
the Savior would be prized,
the atonement would be trusted,
the Holy Spirit would be honored.
But, how often is the gospel trifled with — where it is not positively rejected; and by how many is it despised and disregarded. To such the solemn language of the Apostle, is directed: "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:28-29.
Here is a comparison between sinners — and their punishment.
Sinners under the law — and sinners under the gospel.
Under the law, certain crimes were punishable with death, and he who slighted, neglected, and willfully broke the law was doomed to die. In despising the law — he despised the Sovereign, who enacted it; and he despised the rule of righteousness — which he had enacted. The punishment was death, death without pity, which was the highest punishment which man could inflict. If there were two or three witnesses of his crime, on their joint testimony he was condemned, and handed over to punishment.
Under the gospel, there is a sin unto death — and sinners may come into such a state, that for them there can be no pardon, to them can be shown no mercy. If they willfully reject the atonement of Jesus — there is no other sacrifice for sin; and without shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin. The apostle is speaking of some, who were in a dangerous position; a position, in which it is to be feared, that many are at this day.
Look at their CRIME: They trampled the Son of God under foot. That is, they treat him with neglect and contempt. They never accept his invitations, or come to his feet, or trust in his blood, or rely on his promises, or observe his precepts. They have the gospel — but they act as though they had it not. They pretend to admit his claims, respect his authority, and rely on his glorious work — but their conduct shows that it is all pretense. They count the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified — an unholy, or common thing. Aaron was sanctified, set apart and consecrated to the priest's office, with the blood of a young bullock — but Jesus was consecrated by his own blood. Aaron was sanctified by Moses — but Jesus sanctified himself.
This is called the blood of the covenant, because in the covenant, Jesus agreed to shed it; and the covenant was ratified, and confirmed by it. On the ground of this blood being shed — God engaged to forgive our sins, to be reconciled to our persons, to give us all needful grace, and in the end confer on us eternal life.
They insult the Spirit of grace, that is the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit of grace, he graciously enlightens and strives with sinners; and these characters wrong him, for instead of yielding to him, they resist him, they grieve him; and as represented by a light — they are said to quench him. They treat him as a foe instead of a friend.
Thus they sin against the Father — for instead of reverencing his Son — they trample him under foot. They sin against the Son — for instead of prizing his blood, pleading it with God, and building their hope upon it — they treat it as if it were the blood of some inferior animal. They sin against the Holy Spirit — for instead of welcoming his approach, listening to his Word, and yielding to his influence — they resist and grieve him.
Look we then at their PUNISHMENT: The sinners under the law died without mercy, suffering the highest degree of punishment man could inflict. But these Christ despisers will have more severe punishment, as eternal punishment must be sorer than temporal.
Heavier vengeance lies on them.
Fiery indignation awaits them.
Fierce wrath is their portion.
Inconceivable torment is reserved for them!
They are said to be worthy of it, that is:
they deserve it,
they have merited it,
they have worked for it,
it is their just due,
it is their equitable wages.
It is a righteous thing for God to inflict it. But our own consciences, our sense of right is appealed to — and we are asked to decide as to the degree of punishment a man deserves, who tramples God's Son under foot, despises the blood shed for sinners, and despitefully treats the Holy and ever gracious Spirit. If it was just to put a man to death for willfully breaking the law of Moses once — what will be the just desert of those who daily for months and years, treat the Son of God, and the Spirit of God with such contempt? If the breaker of the law is chastised with whips — then surely these should be chastised with scorpions!
Lost sinner, beware — do not trifle with the gospel — it is the only remedy for your disease, the only balm to heal your wounds. It is . . .
the most wondrous display of God's mercy,
the greatest exhibition of the love of Christ,
the most marvelous display of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
By it, an everlasting salvation is presented you — reject the gospel, and you are undone forever! Well then may the apostle ask, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
Do not despise the gospel — or you despise the most glorious person, the most precious thing, the most gracious and most powerful agent. Do not neglect, or you treat with neglect — the person of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, and the Spirit of Christ. If you despise or neglect the gospel — then calculate if you can, the degree of punishment which you deserve! Think of the fierce wrath of God, the fiery indignation, and the fearful judgment which you deserve!
Remember . . .
you sin against the greatest mercy,
you trample on the costliest pearl,
you commit the greatest crime!
If the lot of Tyre and Sidon was to be preferred to the lot of Chorazin; and if the lot of Sodom and Gomorrah was to be preferred to the lot of Capernaum — then surely the lot of Chorazin and Capernaum, will be preferable to yours! Matthew 11:20-24. In flaming fire Jesus will come to take vengeance on such as you — if you dare to persevere in conduct so base, so terribly sinful. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
Let me then beseech you to be wise, and not despise your soul. There is mercy — mercy for you if you seek it. There is pardon — pardon for you, if you confess sin, and pray for it. O then, for your soul's sake — seek mercy, confess sin, plead for pardon! Do not rest until you receive and enjoy these invaluable blessings!