And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners

Their foot shall slide in due time (Deut. Xxxii. 35).

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

APPLICATION

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly,

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Jonathan Edwards- Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

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Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 152

TO REV. WILLIAM WILLIAMS

WESTWOOD, Jan. 21, 1881.

DEAR FRIEND,—

Harrald will be away to-morrow, and I shall be all alone, — not over bright. Can you leave the queen at the Crown, the circle at the Oval, and come and see one who is ill on the hill, and would be glad to see you.

Yours truly,

C. H. SPURGEON.

The Wednesday Word: Fake News!

I recently spoke to a gentleman who told me he didn’t know which news reports to believe because there is so much Fake News being put out there. Yes indeed, it seems that we are inundated with the stuff. But even in Christian circles, we are being attacked by Fake News. Here are some items for your consideration.

Fake News 1: We can be good enough to earn Eternal Life.

This piece of Fake News was dealt the death blow when the disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”(Matthew 19:26) Jesus responded, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

How then can any of us be good enough to save ourselves? We can’t! It’s fake news.

God does not accept us because we are good. Our salvation was settled by the blood of the Lord Jesus at Calvary. Although we are helplessly sinful, God in grace has forgiven His children completely. He bought us and paid for us. It’s by His infinite grace that we are saved, not by our moral character. Salvation is not accomplished by our works of righteousness, commandment-keeping, or churchgoing. It is because of the doing dying and rising again of the Lord Jesus Christ that we receive the guarantee of eternal life (Titus 3:7).

Fake News 2: Asking Jesus into our heart saves us.

The expression, “Ask Jesus into your heart,” is not found in the Bible. It is Fake News! No apostle ever preached it. No one in the Bible is recorded as ever using the phrase. The New Testament preachers would find it a foreign slogan if they were here today.

We are not saved by Jesus coming into our hearts, but rather we are saved by the coming of Christ into the world in His once-for-all doing, dying and rising again.

Here’s a much better sinners prayer than that of asking Jesus into the heart,

“God of my salvation, hear, and help me to believe:

Simply would I now draw near, thy blessings to receive.

Full of guilt, alas I am, but to thy wounds for refuge flee;

Friend of sinners, spotless Lamb, thy blood was shed for me.”

George Whitefield

Fake News 3: We Are Saved by the New Birth!

Although the New Birth is scriptural and vital, it is not the Gospel. The New Birth does not save us. It does not give us right standing before God.

Although the new birth is a necessity and a reality, the new birth justifies no one. In spite of what we so commonly hear, a person is not saved by being born again! That’s Fake News! The New Birth was not the Gospel proclamation of the New Testament.

To teach that we are saved by the New Birth is to hold to the Roman Catholic notion that regeneration justifies us. To teach such is to confound the work of the Son for us with the work of the Spirit in us.

Fake News 4: Once we have eternal life, we can lose it!

To believe a man can lose salvation is to launch a bitter attack on the saving abilities of the Lord Jesus. If you think Jesus might lose you, please don’t refer to Him as the Good Shepherd…a good shepherd doesn’t lose sheep. Instead, call Him the Lousy Shepherd. He’s not to be trusted.

Think of this!

How can He possibly lose you since…..

He chose you unto salvation from the beginning … Did he make the wrong choice?

He purchased you with His saving blood. Was the purchase invalid?

If He can lose you, then you are saying He is just not powerful enough to protect and keep you.

He gave Himself as our ransom. Was the payment insufficient?

By Himself, He purged our sins. Was the purging of our sins not thorough enough?

Shun Fake News!

The believer’s standing with God can never be improved upon. This is because of the unique, holy history of Jesus of Nazareth in His doing, dying and rising again. His life and death are accepted by the Father as ours. When He was punished, we were punished. When He died, we died, When He arose, we arose. Now, because of the never to be repeated Christ event, our sins no longer come between God and us (Hebrews 10:14).

We should always shun Fake News.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

A Treatise on Church Order: Infant Membership- Chapter IV- Section I- Arguments

CHAPTER IV

INFANT MEMBERSHIP

WE have ascertained that believers in Christ are the only persons who have a Scriptural right to membership in the Christian churches. But this right has been claimed for infants; and the number, talents, and piety of those who make the claim, entitle the arguments by which they defend it, to a careful and thorough examination.

SECTION I.–DIRECT ARGUMENTS FOR INFANT MEMBERSHIP.

Argument 1.–In epistles written to church-members, Paul addresses children; and, at the same time, exhorts the parents to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is clear, therefore, that young children were among the church-members to whom these epistles were written. If such children were in these churches, it cannot be doubted that they were in all the churches, and that they were admitted in infancy.

Because children were addressed in an epistle directed to a church, it does not necessarily follow that they were members of the church. As parents were required to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the same epistle that enjoined this duty on the parents, might appropriately contain a direct command from the Lord, requiring the children to obey their parents. In performing the duty enjoined on them, the parents would naturally and properly take their children with them to the public worship of the church, where the apostolic epistles would be read in their hearing. The fact, therefore, that an apostolic command was addressed to them, proves nothing more than that the apostle expected it to reach them, and claimed the right of commanding them in the name of the Lord.

But the probability is, that the children whom Paul addressed were members of the church. The command, “Obey your parents in the Lord,”[1] is so expressed, as apparently to imply that the obligation was to be felt and acknowledged by them, because of their relation to the Lord. The children to whom Paul addressed this command must have possessed intelligence to apprehend its meaning, and piety to feel the force of the motive presented in these words, “For this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”[2] Timothy, from a child, had known the Holy Scriptures. Intelligent piety has, in all ages, been found in children who have not yet reached maturity; and such children have a Scriptural right to church-membership.

The argument that the children were so young as to need the care and discipline of their parents to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, does not prove that they were destitute of personal piety. Adult church-members need instruction and discipline adapted to their circumstances; and the instruction and discipline of wise and pious parents are of inestimable advantage to their pious children.

The argument contains a fallacy which deserves to be noticed, in the assumption, that the children who were commanded to obey, and the children who were to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, were the same. Masters were commanded how to treat their servants, and servants were commanded to obey their masters; but it would be wrong to infer that no masters were so commanded but those who had pious servants, or that no servants were so commanded but those who had pious masters. On the contrary, those servants who had believing masters are distinguished from those whose masters were unbelievers; and yet the latter class were commanded to obey, as well as the former. The relation of master and servant existed, in some cases, when both of the parties were members of the church; and, in other cases, when one party was in the church and the other party out of the church. No proof exists, that the relation of parent and child may not have been divided in the same manner. Parents were not commanded to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord because the children were church-members; and children were not commanded to obey their parents because the parents were church-members. The supposition, therefore, that the children in the two cases were the same, is an assumption without proof.

The inference that, if there were children in the primitive churches, they were admitted in infancy, and not because of personal piety, is illegitimate. It cannot be made to appear that they were destitute of personal piety; and, as this was the established condition of church-membership in all other cases, the fair inference is that their membership in the church stood on the common ground.

Argument 2.–The King of Zion has expressly declared, in Matt. xix. 14, that the privileges of his kingdom belong to infants; and, among these privileges, that of church-membership must be included. Children are to be received in the name of Christ, or because they belong to Christ;[3] and this must imply that they are members of his church.

In interpreting and applying the phrase, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven,” an important question must be decided; whether the word “such” denotes literal children, or persons of child-like disposition. As the clause stands in our common version, it seems to import that the kingdom consists of such persons exclusively. Now, no one imagines that the kingdom is a community consisting of literal infants only; and, therefore, this rendering, if retained, greatly favors the other interpretation, according to which the whole community are properly described as persons of child-like disposition. The disciples of Christ are humble, confiding, teachable, and free from malice and ambition; and these qualities characterize all who have a part in the kingdom.

But the advocates of infant church-mermbersliip have proposed another rendering of the clause. They remark that it corresponds, in grammatical construction, with the clause in Matt. v. 3: “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven;” but, since the word “such” has no genitive in English corresponding to the genitive “theirs,” the sense must be expressed thus: “To such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” After a careful consideration, I am inclined to think that this rendering gives the true sense of the passage. It makes it analogous to the clause in Matt. v. 3; while the other rendering is, I think, without any analogy in the New Testament. The kingdom does not consist wholly of its subjects; but it has also its king, its laws, its privileges, and its enjoyments. We have Scripture analogy for saying, that the subjects receive the kingdom, enter into the kingdom, inherit the kingdom, and have part in the kingdom; but none for saying that they compose or constitute the kingdom. Hence the rendering, “To such the kingdom belongs,” is recommended to our adoption, as the best interpretation of the Saviour’s words. So much having been granted to the advocates of infant church-membership, we proceed to inquire into the true sense of the passage.

In the parallel passage, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” the persons intended are “the poor in spirit;” and these include all the loyal subjects of the kingdom. If the parallelism between the passages is complete, the word “such” must, in like manner, include all the loyal subjects of the Redeemer’s reign, and cannot therefore signify literal children. But if we take the word “such,” to signify a part only of those to whom the kingdom belongs, we shall still be compelled to consider the declaration as importing that the kingdom belongs to all such. Nothing in the words, nothing in the context, nothing in the nature of the subject, leads to the supposition that the kingdom belongs to some infants, and not to others. But the most consistent advocates of infant church-membership, do not admit all infants indiscriminately. If the word “such” was intended to signify any qualifications for membership, peculiar to these children, and not found in all children, no clue whatever has been left us, in the whole context, for ascertaining what these peculiar qualifications were. If Jesus had designed to instruct his apostles how to discriminate between the children to be admitted, and all other children, it is unaccountable that he should have given his instruction with so much obscurity and indefiniteness.

The words demand an interpretation, which will make the term “such” include all who have a right to the kingdom, and no others; and this is precisely the interpretation to which the context leads. Immediately after uttering the words, Jesus explained them: “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”[4] To be a little child, and to act as a little child, are different things; and the latter, not the former, is what the Saviour intended. His explanation shows this clearly; and that the explanation was made, we are expressly informed by Mark and Luke. Matthew has omitted it; but he has recorded, in the preceding chapter, a discourse of Christ on the same subject, giving the same instruction fully and clearly: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”[5] Here, a child is made the representative of him who was to be greatest in the kingdom; and the phrase, “one such child,” denotes one who possesses a child-like disposition. Jesus was accustomed to call his disciples “little children;”[6] and he here calls them, “these little ones which believe in me.” In this discourse, no room was left for doubt as to the import of the phrase, “one such child,” and this discourse had prepared the minds of the disciples to understand his meaning, when he afterwards said, “To such the kingdom belongs,” even if no explanation had followed; but when he added an explanation, reiterating the very teaching which he had before given, no doubt ought to remain, that the same kind of qualification for his kingdom was intended–not literal childhood, but a child-like disposition.

A further demand for this interpretation is found in the nature of Christ’s kingdom. Those who suppose literal children to be intended, assume that the kingdom is the visible church catholic; and they understand that membership in this body is here affirmed to belong to infants. Our inquiries in the last chapter have brought us to the conclusion, that Christ’s kingdom is not identical with the visible church catholic of theological writers; and that such a body as this does not in fact exist. In Christ’s kingdom, there are two classes of subjects; the loyal, and the disobedient. To the former class exclusively, the kingdom belongs, according to the uniform teaching of the Scriptures; and the passage under consideration corresponds precisely with this teaching, if persons of child-like disposition be intended. But if the kingdom belongs to literal infants, who are such by natural birth, it must be a different kingdom from that of which Jesus discoursed to Nicodemus, when he said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Some persons understand the clause under consideration to import that the kingdom of glory belongs to little children; and they argue that if they have a right to the church in heaven, they ought not to be shut out from the church on. earth. But infants have not an unconditional right to the kingdom of glory. If they die in infancy, they are made fit for that kingdom and received into it; but if they remain in this world till they grow up, they cannot obtain that kingdom without repentance and faith. Since the right of children to the kingdom of glory depends on the condition, either that they die in infancy or that they become penitent believers, no inference can be legitimately drawn from it that they have a present and unconditional right to membership in the church on earth. Children are not taken to heaven without being made fit for it; but churches on earth are organized for the worship and service of God, and infants are not fitted for these duties. Even the privileges of the church on earth they are confessedly unfit for. A right to baptism is claimed for them, but a right to communion at the Lord’s table is not; yet without this right, it cannot be said that the church or kingdom belongs to them. If by any mode of inference from the passage the right of infants to the church on earth can be established, it must include a right to communion at the Lord’s table.

It has been objected to our interpretation of this passage, that the word “such,” properly denotes the kind or quality of the thing to which it is applied, and not the resemblance which something else bears to it. In proof of this, such passages as the following have been cited: “Because they suffered such things.”[7] “With many such parables spake he unto them.”[8] In the first example, such things means these very things; and in the second, such parables means these parables and others like them. In like manner it is argued, such children must mean either these very children or these children and others like them. Hence, it is alleged that an interpretation which excludes the children present from the import of the word “such,” is inadmissible.

It is true that the word such denotes the kind or quality of the thing to which it is applied; but just so far as it does this, it denotes also the resemblance which another thing bears to it, if that other thing is of the same kind or possesses the same quality. It denotes the kind or quality of the thing, and not the thing itself. In this particular, it differs from this or these. If the first of the above examples had read “because they suffered these things,” the identical sufferings would have been signified, and not their kind or quality. Hence, such does not mean these. So in the other examples “such parables” does not mean these and other parables, for it denotes the kind and quality of the parables, and this the phrase these and other would not do. The fact that “such things” in the first example, denoted the identical sufferings which had just been mentioned, is not determined by the meaning of the word such, but by the connection in which it is used. Any other sufferings of like kind would suit the meaning of the word equally as well. So any parables of like kind equally suit the meaning of the phrase “such parables.” The fact that the sufferings and parables previously mentioned are denoted by the word such, or included in its meaning, is accidental. Such does not mean these, and does not include these in its meaning, unless by accident. However frequent this accidental use of the term may be, its essential meaning refers to kind or quality, and not to particular things. When it is said, “They which commit such things, are worthy of death;”[9] the particular things that had been mentioned are not necessarily intended or included; but any things of like kind are denoted. In the words of Paul, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether, such as I am, except these bonds.”[10] The word such neither intends nor includes “I,” but merely denotes likeness; and that likeness is confined to spiritual endowments and privileges, and does not extend to the body or the external condition. So the word such in the case before us, does not intend or include the children present, but denotes a likeness to them; and that likeness does not respect the body or outward condition, but those mental qualities which made them fit representatives of converted men.

If we were unable to distinguish between the essential meaning of the word such and its accidental use, we might still be preserved from an erroneous conclusion in the present case by a due regard to Matt. xviii. 5. In this verse the same word is used by the same speaker with reference to the same subject, and in like circumstances, a little child being present as the children were present in the other case. Yet in this case, the word such does not intend or include the child present, but denotes those qualities in which that child was made a representative of converted persons. The verse preceding proves this: and the words which follow the use of the term such in the other case, prove the same. The analogy is complete, with the single exception that the explanation follows in one case, and precedes in the other. But it follows immediately as if uttered by the same breath, for it was spoken before Jesus laid hands on the children. If any importance can be attached to the order of time in which the explanation was given, it should be remembered that the whole of the discourse in the 18th chapter preceded the transaction recorded in the 19th, and prepared the minds of the disciples for understanding it. When all these facts are considered, we need not be staggered, though numerous examples be adduced in which such may appear to have a different meaning. True criticism will regard the analogy of the cases rather than their number; and if the word has different meanings, will prefer that which is supported by an analogy so remarkable and complete. But the truth is, criticism has no choice to make between different meanings of the word, for in every case the meaning of the word is the same.

If the criticism which we have set aside were just, it would fail to justify the conclusion that has been drawn from it. In the passage recorded in Luke ix. 47, 48, the word such is not used: “Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, and said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name, receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” Here the expression is, “this child;” but the meaning is not to be taken literally. The whole transaction was symbolical. The disciples had desired the highest place in their Master’s kingdom. It was their ambition to sit on his right hand and on his left. But Jesus set the little child by him, and constituted that child his prime minister and representative: “Whoso shall receive,” &c. All this was symbolical; and was designed to teach the disciples what they must be, to obtain the honor which they coveted. If criticism could convert the word such into these, and the clause, “of such is the kingdom,” into theirs is the kingdom; there would be sufficient reason, even then, to regard the children as only symbols or representatives of converted or humble and child-like persons.

It has been further objected, that the clause, “for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” could not, according to our interpretation, contain a reason for admitting into Christ’s presence the children that were brought to him. We cheerfully grant, that the connection of this clause with what precedes would be quite obvious, if it could be shown to declare the right of infants to church-membership; and if it could also be shown that these infants were brought to Christ to be initiated into his church. This last has been supposed by some, but without any proof from the sacred narrative. The purpose for which they were brought to Jesus is thus expressed: “that he should put his hands on them, and pray;”[11] “that he should touch them.”[12] If initiation into the church was the design, it is unaccountable that all the inspired writers should have failed to mention it, and that they should have described the act as performed with a different design. If it was usual for infants to be admitted to church-membership, the apostles must have known it; and their opposition, in the present case, is unaccountable. Moreover, if these infants were brought to be initiated into the church, and if Jesus declared their right to the privileges of his church, it cannot be supposed that they were sent away without the benefit desired. But were they initiated? If so, by what rite? Baptism has been considered the rite of initiation; but there is no evidence that these children were baptized. When Jesus made disciples, they were baptized, not by himself, but by his disciples. There is no evidence that he put these children into the hands of the disciples, with a command to baptize them; but, on the contrary, he took them into his own arms, not to baptize, but to bless them.

On a careful examination of the passage, we discover that the conjunction “for” connects the clause which follows with the command, “forbid them not.” This command was addressed to the disciples; and the reason which follows may be supposed to have been introduced for their sake, rather than for the sake of the children. He was displeased with his disciples, and designed to rebuke them. Now, to understand his rebuke, we must view it in connection with the fault of which the disciples had been guilty. They expected their Master to set up a temporal kingdom; and all his teachings to the contrary, and even his crucifixion at last, did not convince them that his kingdom is not of this world. They were ambitious to have the highest place in his kingdom; and this sinful ambition remained, till they ate the last passover with him. He had recently set a little child before them, and used it as a representative of the chief favorite in his kingdom. This discourse they had not understood. Like other discourses designed to explain the nature of the kingdom, and of the qualifications for it, the instruction which it contained was not properly received until after Christ’s departure, when the Holy Spirit brought it to their remembrance. Ambition and worldly policy blinded their minds. How they understood the Saviour’s discourse, we cannot certainly determine; but they seem, like the advocates of infant church-membership, to have understood the word such to refer to age, and not to moral qualities. Hence, the words, “Whoso receiveth one such child,” placed little children before their minds as rivals for the highest place of dignity in the kingdom. Whether they feared that Christ would postpone the setting up of his kingdom until these young rivals should be of age, or whether they apprehended that he would, among the miraculous works which he performed, endow them supernaturally, even in infancy, for holding office in his kingdom, we have no means of ascertaining. But, whatever may have been their notions, they seem to have conceived a jealousy of these young rivals. The ministers of Eastern monarchs guarded the way of access to their sovereign. This right of guarding the way of approach to their Master, the disciples assumed on this occasion. Jesus, who never denied access to any that sought favor at his hands, was displeased with their conduct and the worldly ambition which instigated it. To them, and for their benefit, he said what may be thus paraphrased: “Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not. Do not, by this usurpation of power, think to exclude these dreaded rivals from my presence and favor; for to such as these the privileges and honors of my kingdom belong, rather than to those who, like you, are actuated by worldly ambition. Instead of driving these children away, imitate their spirit; for whosoever shall not receive the kingdom as a little child, shall not enter therein.”

Whether we have succeeded or not in discovering the true connection of the clause with what precedes, the clause itself does not affirm the right of infants to church-membership. The proofs which have been adduced on this point are clear and decisive.

What has been said, sufficiently explains Mark ix. 27, the other passage quoted in the argument. We admit that to receive one of such children in the name of Christ, is to receive him because he belongs to Christ; but the passage does not teach that literal infants are members of Christ’s church. We have proved that the Saviour employed the phrase, such children, to denote persons of child-like disposition. Hence, the doctrine of infant church-membership cannot be inferred from the passage.

Some Congregationalists have held that children are members of the church universal, but not of local churches. This distinction may perhaps account for their admission to baptism, and exclusion from the Lord’s supper; but it accounts in such a way as to show clearly, that the privileges of the kingdom do not belong to them. No one maintains that unregenerate infants are members of the spiritual church. If they are members of a universal church, it must be the visible church catholic. Now, if such a body exists, it never meets or acts; and the privileges of membership in it, to those who are denied membership in local churches–what are they? To the local churches belong the regular worship of God, a stated ministry, the benefits of discipline and mutual exhortation, and the communion of the Lord’s table. The baptized children grow up, without the membership which entitles to these privileges. How, then, can it be said that the kingdom belongs to them?

Argument 3.–Paul declares, that the children of certain members of the Corinthian church were holy.[13] The word holy, or saints, was used by him to denote church-members, that is, persons consecrated to God. We have, therefore, ground for the conclusion, that these children were members of the church.

The passage referred to, reads as follows: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” This passage, if the holiness of which it speaks signifies church-membership, will prove too much. The word “sanctified,” which is applied to the unbelieving husband and unbelieving wife, means made holy. These unbelievers, therefore, were also holy; and must, according to the interpretation, have been members of the church. The text is a process of reasoning; and the laws of reasoning require, that the term “holy” in the conclusion, should be used in the same sense as in the premises. If holiness implies church-membership, when predicated of the children, it must imply the same when predicated of the unbelieving husband and wife. But no one imagines that those unbelievers were members of the church; and, therefore, the holiness affirmed of the children, is not church-membership.

If it be asked, what holiness could be predicated of these children, or of the unbelieving husband and wife, which did not include church-membership–the answer is at hand. The Jews accounted gentiles unclean, and thought it unlawful to enter their houses, to keep company or eat with them, or to touch them. The Jewish Christians retained this opinion, as is manifest from Gal. ii. 12. According to this opinion, they with whom familiar intercourse was lawful, were considered holy; and all others were unclean. The question had arisen among the Corinthians, probably from the influence of Judaizing teachers, whether familiar intercourse with unbelievers is lawful.

In the fifth chapter of the epistle, Paul discusses this question, and decides that association in church-membership with such persons, was unlawful; but that ordinary intercourse with them must be admitted, or Christians “must needs go out of the world.” As the principle which he opposed had produced a doubt among the Corinthians, whether it was lawful for Christians to live in familiar intercourse with unbelieving husbands or wives, Paul considers this case in the seventh chapter. He decides that, if this principle may disturb the domestic relations, it will separate parent and child, as well as husband and wife. If familiar intercourse with the unconverted is unlawful in one case, it is unlawful in the other also. This is the argument of the apostle; and it is precisely adapted to meet the difficulty. But this argument presupposes, that the children, like the unbelieving husband and wife, were not members of the church. The text, therefore, furnishes decisive proof, that infant church-membership was unknown in the time of the apostles.[14]

Argument 4.–The writers of the New Testament used words in the sense in which they were accustomed to read them in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The Greek word Christ, corresponded to the Hebrew word Messiah; and both words denoted the same person. The Greek word ecclesia, was not a newly-invented term; but it was the word by which the LXX. had rendered the Hebrew cahal, of the Old Testament, and must therefore be understood to denote the same thing, the Congregation of the Lord. Hence the church was not a new organization. It was the Hebrew congregation, continued under the new dispensation; and, as children were included with their parents, in the former dispensation, the right of membership cannot now be denied to them. The identity of the church under both dispensations is further apparent in the fact, that the names Zion and Jerusalem, derived from the places where the Old Testament worshippers assembled, are given to the church of the New Testament.

It is true that the Hebrew word Messiah, and the corresponding Greek word Christ, denoted the same person; but it cannot be hence inferred as a universal truth, that identity, either of person or things, always attends identity or correspondence of name. The Hebrew name Joshua is applied in Scripture to different persons;[15] and the corresponding Greek name Jesus, is applied to persons different from these, and different from one another.[16] The English words assembly, convention, association, &c., are in common use as names of organized bodies; but the character of the organization cannot be inferred from the name. The name Assembly sometimes signifies the legislative body of a state, and sometimes an ecclesiastical judicatory. With this name the Hebrew and Greek words for congregation and church very nearly correspond in signification; but were the correspondence perfect, it could not be inferred that organized societies denoted by them must be identical.

But the correspondence between the designations of the church and of the Hebrew congregation is not perfect. Two Hebrew words, cahal and edah, were used to denote the Hebrew congregation, and neither of these is invariably rendered by the Greek word ekklesia;. In the sixth verse of Exodus 12, the chapter in which the Hebrew congregation first appears on the sacred page, both Hebrew words occur, and one of them the LXX have rendered plathos, and the other synagoge. In Numbers xvi. 3, both words occur, and both are rendered synagoge. If any one should argue from hence, that whenever the New Testament writers use the words plathos and synagoge, they must mean the Hebrew congregation, he would err egregiously. The argument which would be so fallacious when applied to these words, cannot be valid when applied to ekklesia.

The single words which we have noticed, are, when used to designate the bodies to which they are applied, often accompanied with adjuncts. The Hebrew congregation was called the Congregation of the Lord or Jehovah, and the Congregation of Israel. It was a congregation instituted for the worship of Jehovah as the God of the Hebrew nation. The church is called the church of God, and the church of Christ. These full designations of the two bodies are by no means coincident; but we have proof that the two bodies are not identical, which is far more to be relied on than a want of coincidence in their names.

When the New Testament church is first introduced in the sacred writings, Jesus calls it not the cahal or ecclesia of Israel, but my ecclesia. He moreover speaks of it as yet to be constructed: “On this rock will I build my ecclesia.” It cannot be that he intended the cahal of Israel which was instituted in the time of Moses, and its organization completed in the most minute particulars. The next occurrence of the word ecclesia in the New Testament is still more remarkable: “Tell it to the ecclesia. If he will not hear the ecclesia, let him be, &c.” Can it be true that the New Testament writer who recorded these words, understood the word ecclesia in the sense in which he had been accustomed to read it in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as referring to the Hebrew cahal? Can it be that Jesus meant it to be so understood? Did he mean that his followers should refer their matters of grievance to the great congregation of Jewish worshippers, their enemies and persecutors, and be governed by their decision? Incredible! The next mention of the New Testament ecclesia is equally decisive: “The Lord added to the ecclesia such as should be saved.” The time was the feast of Pentecost, when the worshippers of the Hebrew cahal were assembled at Jerusalem. From this assembly the converts to the new religion were made; and when made, they were added to the ecclesia. No proof more decisive can be desired; that the ecclesia to which they were added, was not the cahal to which they had previously belonged.

The argument from the name may be retorted with effect. When Jesus said, “Tell it to the church;” the Christian churches in which discipline was to be exercised had not yet been organized. The master of the family was still present to manage the affairs of the household by his direct authority; but he gave the command to be observed after his departure, as a perpetual rule of discipline. The unguarded manner in which he speaks of the ecclesia, furnishes proof of no inconsiderable force, that the word which he employed, was not at the time in familiar use as a name for the congregation of Jewish worshippers. Had it been, this application of the word would have been natural to the disciples, and some accompanying explanations would have been needed to guard them from mistake. When intending that which did not yet exist, of which they had no personal knowledge, and which never had existed, he would not, without explanation, have employed a term to denote it, with which they were familiar as the name of something that had long existed and was well known to them. The conclusion to which this argument tends, is strongly corroborated by the fact, that although the word ecclesia occurs in the New Testament more than a hundred times, it never, with but one exception, denotes the people of Israel; and in this single exception, “He that was in the ecclesia in the wilderness,”[17] it does not denote the people of Israel as an enduring organization, but refers to a particular time in their history, when they were assembled at Sinai to receive the law, and for this reason it should have been translated assembly. As an enduring body, they are called the house of Israel, the commonwealth of Israel, the people, the nation; but the ecclesia they are never called.

The passage, “In the midst of the ecclesia I will sing praise unto thee,”[18] is quoted from the Old Testament, where the word cahal is used, and where there is an allusion to the Hebrew congregation; but as used by Paul, the ecclesia intended consists of the “many sons” brought to glory, who are mentioned in the context. The same ecclesia is afterwards spoken of, “The church of the first born,” with an apparent allusion to the assembly of Old Testament worshippers. This allusion may be readily accounted for by the fact, that the worship of the Old Testament dispensation was “a shadow of good things to come.” Zion and Jerusalem were types of heaven, the future meeting place of the saints; and the congregation of Israel assembled for the worship of God, typified that future assembly in which the redeemed of the Lord shall come from the east, the west, the north, and the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven. This fully accounts for the use which the prophets have made of the names Zion and Jerusalem, in predicting the glory of the church.

The Hebrew cahal was an actual assembly. Three times in the year the tribes were required to meet for public worship in the place where the Lord would put his name.[19] This obligation continued as long as the ordinances of their worship were obligatory; and ceased when the handwriting of them was nailed to the cross of Christ. An intimation that the obligation to meet at Jerusalem was to cease, is given in the words of Christ to the woman of Samaria: “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.”[20] When men were no longer required to meet in Jerusalem, the cahal of Israel was dissolved.

The distinction between the church and the Hebrew congregation, may be further elucidated by an attentive consideration of the design with which the congregation was instituted.

Although, in the divine purpose, a sufficient sacrifice for sin had been provided from eternity, yet it did not seem good to Infinite Wisdom that it should be immediately offered, when sin first entered into the world. Four thousand years of ignorance and crime, God winked at, or overlooked as unworthy of his regard, or unfit for his purpose; and fixed his eyes on that period denominated “the fulness of time,” when it would best display the divine perfections, for the Redeemer to atone for transgression; and repentance and remission of sins to be preached in his name, among all nations. As, in the exercises of an individual Christian, the discovery of salvation in Christ is withheld, until an anxiety is excited in his breast that makes the discovery welcome; so in the history of the world, the Messiah makes not his appearance, until mankind have felt the necessity of such a deliverer; then he comes, the desire of all nations. It pleased God that a full experiment should be made of man’s power and skill to find a remedy for his moral disease, before God’s remedy for the healing of the nations should be revealed and applied. “After that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.”

The experiment which, in the wisdom of God, opened the way for the Redeemer’s entrance into the world, was of a two-fold nature; or, rather, there were two distinct experiments, demonstrating distinct truths. When the bolder enemies of God and religion make their appeal from the volume of inspiration to the volume of nature, and assert the sufficiency of the latter to enlighten and direct them in the search after God; we can refer to actual experiment, to ascertain how far fallen man, without the oracles of God, can advance toward the knowledge of the Divine character. With the light of nature, the bright beams of science, and the keen eye of natural genius, the wisest men of antiquity still felt in the dark, after the unknown God.[21]

When those who profess to receive the truth, deny the doctrine of grace, and maintain that man has sufficient native virtue, if properly cultivated, to render him acceptable to God; that there are influences of the Word or Spirit common to all men, which are sufficient, without any additional special influence, to bring him to know and enjoy the Most High; we have in the wisdom of God, another completed experiment, which decides against this doctrine, with as much certainty as is anywhere to be found within the limits of experimental philosophy. In the sacred record is the history of a people, who had the advantage over every other people much every way. They were not left to read the volume of nature only; but to them were committed the oracles of God. They were not left with unmeaning forms, and unauthorized rites of religion; but they had ordinances of divine service, instituted on the authority of God. “To them pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” Nor were they without instructors in religion; but holy men were raised up among them, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Neither were they without motives to obedience; but a covenant was made with them, containing every threat which might deter–every promise that might allure. The experiment was made fairly and completely. Jehovah himself said, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done?” And what was the result? It was clearly demonstrated that man is totally depraved; that the best institutions, instructions, and motives, with all common influences of the Spirit, whatever such there may be, are altogether insufficient to restore his fallen nature; and that a direct special influence upon his heart, by the effectual working of Divine power, is indispensably necessary, in order to make him delight in the law of God, and render acceptable obedience to its holy requirements. See Heb. viii. 8, 9, 10.

That society of persons which was the subject of the last-mentioned experiment, is frequently denominated the Congregation of the Lord. It appears to have been the only divinely instituted society, organized for religious worship, that ever existed before the coming of Christ. That God designed by the Mosaic dispensation, of which this congregation was the subject, to give a clear demonstration of man’s depravity, may be inferred from the end which has actually been accomplished, and from such declarations of Scripture as the following: “The law was added because of transgression until the seed should come. The law entered that the offence might abound.” Since unto God all his works from the beginning are known, he well knew the imperfections of the Mosaic covenant, even from the time of its institution, and what would be the result of the experiment. He found fault with it long before its abrogation; and so prepared it at first, that it typified and foretold a better covenant that should succeed it, established upon better promises.

The first account that the Scriptures give of the Congregation of the Lord, we find in the twelfth chapter of Exodus. When a new order of things was introduced; when the year received a new beginning, and became, as it has been called, the ecclesiastical year; when God took his people by the hand, to lead them out of the land of Egypt;[22] when that code of laws for the regulation of religious worship, which the apostle means by the first covenant throughout his epistle to the Hebrews, began to be promulgated; and the Passover, as one of the ordinances of divine service pertaining to the first covenant, was instituted; then, first, are the Israelites recognised as a worshipping congregation. Before this, the word of the Lord had come to individuals, and individuals had performed religious rites; but now, the word is sent to a whole congregation, and that congregation, by divine appointment, perform a rite of divine worship simultaneously. Before this, the Israelites had indeed been distinguished from the rest of mankind; but not by the characteristics of a worshipping society. That there were persons among them who worshipped God in sincerity and truth, will not be disputed. But where were their public altars? Where was their sanctuary? Where were their public ministers of religion? Where were their appointed sacrifices? Where their statute book, the laws of their worship, the rules of their society, &c.? A worshipping society, without forms, and rites, and rules of worship, God never constituted.

The seed of Abraham were destined to be the subjects of special dispensations, throughout all their generations. This appears no less in their history since the Christian era, and before their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, than in the intermediate time. But, during all this intermediate time, they were the subjects of that peculiar, experimental, preparatory dispensation, which we have been considering. They were constituted, and continued to be, the Lord’s peculiar cahal, his only worshipping congregation.[23] But while the ordinances of. their worship were wisely contrived to be types and prophecies of Christ, at the same time that they afforded to the world that experiment, which appears to have been so important a part of their design; in like manner, an instructive intimation of the future exclusion of the Jews from gospel privileges, and of the admission of the gentiles, appears to have been given, in the character of the members who composed this sacred congregation. The great body of its constituents were the descendants of Abraham; but provision was made in its charter, that Israelites in some cases should be excluded, and that gentiles might be admitted.[24] Nothing like this can be found in the covenant made with Abraham and his seed, as recorded in the 17th chapter of Genesis. This covenant received into its arms every circumcised son of Jacob (in whom the seed was ultimately called), without any exception; and thrust from its embrace every Gentile, without any distinction. It was, indeed, one of its stipulations that every Israelite should have all the males of his. house circumcised; but there is no intimation that they were all thereby incorporated among the covenant seed, or that they had more right to the territory granted in the covenant, than had Ishmael, or the sons of Keturah. Jacob’s servants were circumcised; but they did not become heads of tribes in Israel, as they would have been, had circumcision endowed them with the privileges of the covenant seed.

When the end for which any society was instituted has been accomplished, it is natural to expect its dissolution. The experiment for which the Congregation of the Lord had been organized, was completely made, when the Redeemer appeared, in the end of the world, “to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” The first covenant, established upon conditional promises, was proved, upon due trial, to be faulty, weak, and unprofitable; and the necessity of a better covenant, whose better promises should be all yea and amen in Christ Jesus, was clearly demonstrated: “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” When “There was a disannulling of the commandment going before,” in which was contained the charter of the Congregation of the Lord, the society was dissolved. Deprived of the character of a worshipping congregation, it lost its existence. The wall that had enclosed it from the rest of mankind, was broken down, when its ordinances were nailed to the cross of Christ.[25]

We have not insisted on the obvious difference between the church and the Hebrew congregation, as to the character of the members composing them. The congregation consisted mainly of Israelites; and these were admitted without regard to moral character, if circumcised, and free from ceremonial defilement and bodily defect. Gentiles were admitted, on conforming to the law of circumcision; but a Moabite, or Ammonite, could not be admitted until the tenth generation; and the most pious Israelite was prohibited, if he was ceremonially defiled, or the subject of a particular bodily defect.[26] In Christ Jesus, circumcision availeth nothing, but a new creature. Moabites and Ammonites are not excluded; but, in every nation, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.[27] Ceremonial defilement and bodily defects constitute no obstacle to the fellowship of the saints. If the institution were the same, such radical changes in the membership could not well consist with the continued membership of infants. But the Mosaic institution has been abolished: “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.”[28] “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”[29] “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”[30]

Some advocates of infant church-membership, admit the temporary nature of the Mosaic institution; but maintain that there ran through it, and was contained in it, a spiritual and unchangeable covenant, which had been made with Abraham, and which is now in force. To this covenant, our attention will next be directed.

[1] Eph. vi. 1.

[2] Col. iii. 20.

[3] Mark ix. 37.

[4] Mark x. 15; Luke xviii. 17.

[5] Matt. xviii. 6.

[6] John xiii. 33. In the original text a different word is here employed, which seems to have been more appropriate for the expression of endearment. Its literal meaning agrees with that of the other term, and is properly given by our translators in the words “little children.”

[7] Luke xiii. 2.

[8] Mark iv. 33.

[9] Rom. i. 32.

[10] Acts xxvi. 29.

[11] Matt. xix. 13.

[12] Mark x. 13; Luke xviii. 15.

[13] 1 Cor. vii. 14.

[14] For a more extended examination of 1 Cor. vii. 14, see a tract entitled “A Decisive Argument against Infant Baptism,” published by the Southern Baptist Publication Society.

[15] Ex. xxiv. 13; Zech. iii. 1.

[16] Matt. i. 21; Col. iv. 11.

[17] Acts vii. 38.

[18] Heb. ii. 12.

[19] Deut. xii. 5.

[20] John iv. 21.

[21] Acts xvii. 27.

[22] Heb viii. 9.

[23] 1 Chr. xxviii. 8; Mic. ii. 5.

[24] Deut. xxiii. 1-8; Exod. xii. 43-47.

[25] Eph. ii. 14, 15.

[26] Deut. xxiii. 1-3.

[27] Acts x. 35.

[28] Heb. vii. 18.

[29] Heb. viii. 7.

[30] Heb. x. 9.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology- Volume 2

In the seven miracles recorded in John’s Gospel we may discern a striking order of thought as they portray Christ communicating life to His people

In the seven miracles recorded in John’s Gospel we may discern a striking order of thought as they portray Christ communicating life to His people. In His turning of the water into wine at the Cana marriage feast (John 2:6-11) we are shown, symbolically, our need of life—Christ supplying what was lacking. In the healing of the nobleman’s son (4:47-54), who was “at the point of death,” we have pictured the be stowment of life. In the healing of the impotent man (5:3-9) we behold the power of life, enabling a helpless cripple to rise up and walk. In the feeding of the multitude (6:11) we see how graciously Christ sustains our life. In His going to the fearful disciples on the storm-swept sea we witness Him defending their lives, delivering them from danger. In the response made by the blind man whose eyes Christ opened (9:7, 38) we learn what is to he the occupation of life—he worshipped Him: in this way, supremely, we are to employ the new nature. In the raising of Lazarus from the sepulcher (11:44) we have the consummation of life, for the resurrection of the saints is the prelude to their eternal felicity.

The teaching of our Lord concerning the Holy Spirit’s operations within and toward the saints follows an instructive and a climacteric order.

First, He made mention of being “horn of the Spirit” (3:6, 8), for quickening is His initial operation upon the elect.

Second, by means of figurative language (cf. 3:5), He spoke of the Spirit’s indwelling: “the water that I shall give him shall he in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (4:14).

Third, He declared that there should he a breaking forth of the same, and a refreshing of others: “out of his belly [or innermost part] shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit” (7:38, 39).

Fourth, He promised that the blessed Spirit should he theirs permanently: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever” (14:16).

Fifth, He announced that the Spirit would fully instruct them: “He shall teach you all things” (14:26).

Sixth, He declared that the Spirit should both testify of Him and equip them to testify unto Him: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me: and ye also shall hear witness” (15:26, 27).

Seventh, Christ asserted that the Spirit should magnify Him: “He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (14:14), making Me altogether lovely in your eyes.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Is thy heart broken? God WILL heal it

But next, God will do it. That is a sweet thought. “He healeth the broken in heart;” he WILL do it. Nobody else can, nobody else may, but he will. Is thy heart broken? He WILL heal it, he is sure to heal it; for it is written-and it can never be altered, for what was true 3,000 years ago, is true now-”he healeth the broken in heart.” Did Saul of Tarsus rejoice after three days of blindness? Yes, and you shall be delivered also. Oh, it is a theme for eternal gratitude, that the same God who in his loftiness and omnipotence stooped down in olden times to soothe, cherish, relieve, and bless the mourner, is even now taking his journeys of mercy among the penitent sons of men. Oh, I beseech him to come where thou art sitting, and put his hand inside thy soul and, if he finds there a broken heart, to bind it up. Poor sinner, breathe thy wish to him, let thy sigh come before him, for “he healeth the broken in heart.” There thou liest wounded on the plain “Is there no physician?” thou criest; “Is there none?” Around thee lie thy fellowsufferers, but they are as helpless as thyself. Thy mournful cry cometh back without an answer, and space alone hears thy groan. Ah! the battle-field of sin has one kind visitor; it is not abandoned to the vultures of remorse and despair. I hear footsteps approaching; they are the gentle footsteps of Jehovah. With a heart full of mercy, he is hasting to his repenting child. In his hands there are no thunders, in his eyes no anger, on his lips no threatening. See how he bows himself over the mangled heart! Hear how he speakst “Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” And if the patient dreads to look in the face of the mighty being who addresses him, the same loving mouth whispers, “I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for my name’s sake.” See how he washes every wound with sacred water from the side of Jesus; mark how he spreads the ointment of forgiving grace, and binds around each wound the fair white linen, which is the righteousness of saints Doth the mourner faint under the operation? He puts a cordial to his lips, exclaiming, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Yes, it is true-most true-neither dream nor fiction, “HE HEALETH THE BROKEN IN HEART, AND BINDETH UP THEIR WOUNDS.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Healing the Wounded” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, November 11, 1855

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery!

Their foot shall slide in due time (Deut. Xxxii. 35).

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

APPLICATION

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly,

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and bu one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy!

Jonathan Edwards- Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God