Friday, August 15, 2008

A storm that clears the air

FOR the last few months I have been led to blow the silver trumpet, sounding forth the love and mercy of our God in Christ. Many times in your hearing I have preached a full Christ for empty sinners, and have set forth the freeness and graciousness of the divine proclamation which in the gospel is made to the chief of sinners. I have not, concerning that point, shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. But I feel that I must now blow a blast upon the rough ram’s horn, for sometimes our congregations need to be reminded of the law and terrors of God, and of the judgment to come; our experience is, that the preaching of judgment is greatly blessed of God; we have remarked that a very large number of conversions have occurred under those sermons in which the declaration of God’s wrath against all iniquity has been the most plain and solemn.

A thunderstorm clears the air; there are pestilences which would gather beneath the wings of calm which can only be purged away by the lightning flash. When God sends his servant with heavy tidings, his message of alarm cleanses the spiritual atmosphere, and kills the sloth, pride, indifference, and lethargy, which otherwise might fall upon the people. As the sharp needle prepares the way for the thread, so the piercing law makes a way for the bright silver thread of divine grace. The lancet is quite as needful as the healing balm. The law is our pedagogue to bring us to Christ; like the old Greek pedagogue who led the boy to school, so the law leads us to Christ, who teaches and instructs us, and makes us wise unto salvation. Those who preached the law, as well as the gospel, in the [Puritan] times, were the most fruitful soul-winners. We find our blessed Lord and Master, whose heart was overflowing with compassion, and whose very nature was love, often dwelling upon the wrath to come; and indeed, his utterances are more telling and terrible than the most burning threatening from the lips of thundering seers of old.

From a sermon entitled "The Bridgeless Gulf," delivered July 5, 1863. Flickr photo by Hans Kylberg; some rights reserved.

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