Man's enmity to God is astonishing. God and everything godlike — man hates. That God, the infinitely wise, just, and gracious God, should have his way, and carry out his purposes — is considered a great grievance. Fallen man continually testifies in a variety of ways, that he considers that man ought to be God — and that God should act in subordination to him!
Never was this more clearly manifested, than in the birth, life, and death of Jesus; and afterwards in the history of his Church. Therefore the Lord asks, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 'Let us break their chains,' they say, 'and throw off their fetters!'" Do they think to frustrate the Lord's purpose, or to hinder the accomplishment of his eternal decrees? It can never be. He may allow them to go on for a time, but soon, "The One enthroned in Heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath!" Psalm 2:4-5. This will be terrible, and on these latter words I want to fix attention for a few minutes.
Observe, GOD SPEAKS TO MAN IN LOVE NOW. The gospel is the dispensation of love. It breathes mercy. It publishes salvation. It represents God as standing in a suppliant posture, and by his servants, beseeching sinners to be reconciled unto him. O wondrous words, "We beg you in Christ's stead — be reconciled to God!"
If God speaks to us of our danger — it is to urge us to flee for safety to the refuge he has provided.
If God speaks to us of the value of the soul — it is to rouse us to seek salvation.
If he speaks to us of Hell — it is to warn us, that we may never go to that place of torment.
If he speaks to us of mercy — it is to encourage us to seek it.
If he speaks to us of Heaven — it is to attract us to it.
He speaks to us of his Son — just to draw us to him.
He speaks to us of salvation — that we may seek and find it.
He speaks to us of his love — to allure us, and bring us to his feet.
He speaks in simple words — in terms the easiest to be understood.
He speaks in the gentlest tones — that he may not terrify or alarm.
He speaks to us by human lips — pleading with us as a man pleads with his friend.
He speaks to us with the most gracious design — even to save us from the wrath to come.
But will he always speak so? Will he ever treat us thus? No, if we continue to manifest our opposition to him, if we refuse to be reconciled — the time is coming when all will be changed.
The door of mercy will be closed,
the way of escape will be closed, and
death and destruction will ride in triumph!
GOD WILL SPEAK IN WRATH BEFORE LONG. Then, he will speak of your sins — but it will be to condemn you for them. He will speak of your treating his salvation with neglect — but it will be to silence you, as he sentences you to your dreadful doom. He will speak of your obstinacy and determination to live in sin, to exhibit you as inexcusable before all worlds. He will speak then in alarming tones. By the terrific blast of the arch-angel's trumpet — by the opening graves — by an awakened conscience — and by the just sentence of the righteous judge — he will speak, and speak to you in his wrath!
"Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath!" Psalm 2:5.
How will the proud be terrified, to be sentenced to the same doom, and have as fellow-sufferers forever, those whom they have despised and disdained on earth?
How will the cruel be terrified, to be bound up in the same bundle with those whom they have oppressed and punished, and be forever taunted and tormented by them.
How will the seducer be terrified, to have associated with him forever, those whom he has seduced, charging their destruction on his guilty head?
God will then terrify them . . .
by casting them out of his presence,
by inflicting the severest pain,
by shutting them up in despair, and
by terrifying their consciences forever.
Then, he will . . .
reprove them for their crimes,
terrify them with a sense of their guilt,
toss them on the waves of the ocean of his wrath, and
rebuke them in his anger and terrify them in his wrath!
after He has long borne with them,
when he gives them up to their own heart's lust,
when he shall render unto every man according to his works!
O sinner, God speaks lovingly to you now, for he is slow to anger and of great mercy!
Hear him — and flee from wrath.
Hear him — and come to Jesus. Hear him, and be saved with an everlasting salvation.
He will not long speak as he does now. Patience, even the patience of God — has its limit. Mercy, the mercy of the eternal God — has its bound.
Will you despise God's warnings?
Will you neglect his great salvation?
Will you force your passage to the flames of Hell?
O extreme of madness!
O amazing folly!
Shall it be said of you, that Jesus would have gathered you, and have safely housed you from the storm — but you would not come? Shall it be said, that God called — and you refused, until at last he laughed at your calamity, and mocked when you were filled with fear? Must he, who now speaks to you with all the love of a tender Father's heart — be compelled by your careless indifference, by your obstinate folly, by your stubborn perverseness — to "rebuke you in his anger and terrify you in his wrath?