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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Professing Christians, Awake!

The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things – they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

Asahel Nettleton writes:

Consider the glorious future that awaits you. You who have long traversed the wilderness on your way to Zion, your struggles for eternal life will have an end. You who have long labored, prayed, and groaned to be delivered from the bondage of sin, “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). This night you may wake up amid the song of angels, and a crown of glory may be placed on your head. Awake, then, and behold the glorious dawn of a bright new day!

Finally, consider the great danger of being deceived. A genuine Christian can never sleep sound without being disturbed. He inevitably will become frightened and wake up alarmed about his own condition. However, there are those who remain sound asleep and live at ease in Zion. They neither weep for their sins nor rejoice in the glory of God. Their hope of heaven is really only a pleasant dream while meanwhile they sink further into spiritual deception.

The Christian church is a net that gathers of every kind. Remember that ten virgins professed to be followers of Christ but only five were ready for the bridegroom. Many who now commune on earth will never meet in heaven. Many who now appear to us to be real Christians will, no doubt to our surprise, be found on the left hand of Christ, “for many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Sadly, the sinner who has professed religion with a false hope can hardly be driven to give it up. However, it is far better to destroy such hope and for the person to conclude that he is lost than for him to awake too late. “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh . . . : lest coming suddenly he finds you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-36). At midnight the cry will be made. Then there will be a great confusion, for thousands will be deceived. Therefore, “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).

These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (Rev. 3:1-3)

Walk While You have Light

INTRODUCTION: The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

Asahel Nettleton writes:

Consider that sinners are perishing. Your life and example will contribute either to their salvation or to their destruction. It is a fact that one ungodly professor of Christianity does more to prevent the conversion of sinners than many infidels.

Brethren, are heaven and hell mere fables? If they are eternal realities, how can you remain silent or indifferent about them? If there be one impenitent sinner among you who is in danger of going to that place of eternal torment, can you sleep? Come, then, you that know the Lord and keep not silent, “if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezek. 33:8). There is a dreadful storm of divine wrath coming upon the world of the ungodly. Therefore, it is high time to awake from slumber because “their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:3).

Consider the time that has already passed. How many months have you been asleep? How many years have you slept in God’s vineyard? Would you still continue sleeping away the day of salvation? With some, the sun has already passed its midway point and is now hastening its rapid descent. “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light” (John 12:35). Delay not, for “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)

Put On the Armor of Light

INTRODUCTION: The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

Asahel Nettleton writes:

Parents, consider your children. Are they all securely within the safety of the covenant? Do you pray with them and for them? Have you taught them that they are sinners in need of new birth? Are you urging them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth? Were you to depart with one of your children today, could you rest satisfied that you have done your duty? Have you not one more word of instruction, of counsel, or of warning for your children before you meet them at the bar of God? If so, then it is time for you to awaken to your duty to order your home.

Consider the activity of unbelievers. The men of this world shame us by their conduct. They rise up early and sit up late. They plan and execute. Labor, fatigue, and hardship are nothing to them if they can but collect a little of this world before they leave it. They are laying up treasure on earth. And will you not be as earnest to lay up for yourselves treasure that will endure in heaven? Do you not feel reproved by their conduct to think that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light?

Consider the power of your enemy. My brethren, you are on the field of battle against the prince of darkness. The malice of evil legions is directed against the Redeemer’s kingdom in this world. Satan is already in possession of the hearts of all wicked men. While you sleep, he is sowing tares and destroying about us. Snares and temptations are laid thick around you, and unless you are awake, you will certainly be ignorant of his devices. I would blow the trumpet and sound the alarm: Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light! (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)

Prepare for Eternity

INTRODUCTION: The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

Asahel Nettleton writes:

Sleeping Christians are reluctant to pray secretly. Prayer has been properly described as the breath of the Christian. When a Christian continues in a state of prayerlessness for a prolonged period, it is a sign that he is asleep. If not shortly awakened from this breathless state, it is reasonable to wonder whether such a person is actually spiritually dead.

Consider the time. Gospel light has risen upon us, and those who do not open their eyes to this light will remain in eternal darkness and despair. How can you sleep when the light of heaven is shining upon you? It is no time for sleep, because the day of salvation is a day that will be witnessed for eternity. The great business of this day calls loudly for you to awake.

Think, my brethren! Have you nothing to do for yourselves in preparation for eternity? Have you no sins to repent of and no evil propensities to mortify? Are your evidences of grace bright enough? Do you love God with all your heart? Are you perfectly conformed to God’s holy law? In short, are you willing to die as you are? If you have anything to do for yourselves, it is high time to awake out of sleep. (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)

The Sleeping Christian

Prayer is to the soul as food is to the body. Just as a man cannot eat and sleep at the same time, neither can a man sleep and pray. Asahel Nettleton reminds us of our need to pray:

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11).

The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

Sleeping Christians are reluctant to pray secretly. Prayer has been properly described as the breath of the Christian. When a Christian continues in a state of prayerlessness for a prolonged period, it is a sign that he is asleep. If not shortly awakened from this breathless state, it is reasonable to wonder whether such a person is actually spiritually dead.

Consider the time. Gospel light has risen upon us, and those who do not open their eyes to this light will remain in eternal darkness and despair. How can you sleep when the light of heaven is shining upon you? It is no time for sleep, because the day of salvation is a day that will be witnessed for eternity. The great business of this day calls loudly for you to awake.

Think, my brethren! Have you nothing to do for yourselves in preparation for eternity? Have you no sins to repent of and no evil propensities to mortify? Are your evidences of grace bright enough? Do you love God with all your heart? Are you perfectly conformed to God’s holy law? In short, are you willing to die as you are? If you have anything to do for yourselves, it is high time to awake out of sleep. (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)

Sleeping Christians

Unless Christians are awake, they will certainly be ignorant of Satan’s many devices. Sound the alarm and carry out your Christian duties! Consider this article by Asahel Nettleton:

“Now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” (Rom. 13:11)

The language of this text is borrowed from natural sleep, in which a person is in a great measure unaware of what is happening around him but life remains in the body. This condition is applied to Christians who have grown insensitive to divine things–they sleep, but life remains in their souls. In particular, the exhortation is for those who find themselves in a state of spiritual slumber to shake off their drowsiness and awake to spiritual realities.

Sleeping Christians allow personal ease to compete with spiritual duty. Religion is the great business of the Christian’s life. It imposes on him many responsibilities that are in painful opposition to his fleshly desires. However, to neglect spiritual duties for the sake of personal comfort is to indulge in spiritual slothfulness. Great care must be taken to fight this natural tendency toward laziness with regard to spiritual things. For this reason, the Scripture instructs Christians to encourage one another daily “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). Avoiding reproach is a common way Christians shirk their godly purpose in the world. It is easy to live quietly as long as you will not disturb your fellow sinner with a reminder of his sin. Ignoring the sinful behavior of others requires no effort, and thousands of professing Christians resign themselves to rest in a state of passivity. Whole churches often shut their mouths in silence in the name of charity or goodwill, but in so doing they actually display an awful indifference to the souls of men.

Sleeping Christians are no longer deeply affected by divine things. In this frame of mind, it is no wonder that Christians regularly attend the house of God but soon forget the instruction they receive. Although they once saw the glory of God in the face of Christ, now they walk in darkness. Where once they were stirred by a deep sense of the worth of souls and could weep over perishing sinners, now they can endure the sight of transgressors almost without emotion.

Their lack of interest in spiritual things is further manifested by their conversation. At one time, they spoke often of eternal matters, but now all their attention is engrossed with the world. They converse with ease about the temporal issues of life but have almost nothing to say about the great things of eternity. When they do speak of heavenly themes, it is in a dull and lifeless manner. The weight of eternal realities does not stir their soul, and thus they talk like a person in sleep. (“Professing Christians, Awake!”)

Hell Is Truth Learned Too Late

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

Is Jesus the Lord of your life? The time of your judgment may be sooner than you think. Asahel Nettleton explains here:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Our subject contains a warning to the young. If he, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy: Then beware how you feel, and how you conduct under reproof. During the present revival how often have you been reproved by preaching, by conversation, by the conviction and conversion of your companions, by the admonitions and by the strivings of the Holy Spirit? How is this season likely to leave you? Certainly not as it found you. If you do not profit by all these warnings, you will be seven-fold harder than when it commenced.

What improvement have you made of all the warnings you have heard? Where are you now? If my preaching does not prove a savor of life, it will be a savor of death unto death to your souls. Every warning neglected is rendering your salvation less and less probable; it is making the work of repentance more and more difficult. You are wandering farther and farther from God-plunging deeper and deeper into misery at every step which you advance.

With your own hand, you are now forging those chains which will bind you down in eternal darkness and despair. To you the Savior calls. Turn you-turn you at my reproof. . . .

The more stupid and hardened the sinner is the nearer to destruction. Thus was it with the inhabitants of the old world. They never were more thoughtless than just before the flood came. It came when they least expected it. They knew not until the flood came. Never was Sodom more stupid than the very night before it was destroyed. The preaching of Lot seemed like an idle tale. They were doubtless making themselves merry with it until the very moment, when the flames of hell took hold of them. Thus it was with the rich fool. He sang the requiem to himself, “Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

And thus it was with all who have gone to hell from under the light of the gospel. They cried “peace and safety” until they were lost. Death came too soon. And they dropped into hell, as into a snare and it closed suddenly upon them. Those sinners are commonly the nearest destruction who think and care the least about it. Hell is truth learned too late. Because there is wrath, beware lest God take thee away with his stroke, and then a great ransom cannot do. (“The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

 

 

 

A Topic Of Alarm For Old Sinners

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

How often have you been reproved by preaching, by conversation, by the conviction and conversion of your friends and relatives? Have you taken these warnings seriously? Every warning that you neglect makes your salvation less likely. This is true for the young and old. Asahel Nettleton explains:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

When sinners are lost their consciences will forever reproach them for destroying themselves. They are made to eat of the fruit of their own ways, and are filled with their own devices. They utterly perish in their own corruption. By hardening his neck, the sinner, with his own hand, closes the door of heaven against himself.

Our subject is full of alarm to the aged sinner. My aged fathers; how long have you lived without God in the world? How many warnings have you heard and lost? So many years have you lived, and so many warnings have you heard and lost them all. I now appeal to your own experience. Do you not find that the longer you live, the harder are your hearts? Can you not bear testimony to the truth of our text? O where are you now? Once you enjoyed a season of youth; but alas, it is over and gone forever. Why stand ye here all the day idle? Your day of salvation is almost gone.

I address you on the very brink of the grave. You are just ready to launch into eternity, and if you are not suddenly saved, you will be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy. You now live at an interesting crisis-the season of a revival. It has an important bearing on the aged in this congregation. O how many younger than yourselves have hopefully entered the kingdom of God before you. In this, you have been often reproved. And are you still out of Christ? Your case is becoming more and more hopeless. The probability, I fear, is a thousand to one that you will be lost. You have no prospect of witnessing another revival in your day. Let the present season slip and your case may be considered hopeless, and where are you? This very warning neglected will render your case more hopeless. The voice of mercy, spare a little longer, waxes feebler, and while the voice of justice is waxing louder and louder. (Sermon: The Destruction of Hardened Sinners)

 

 

For Some The Gospel Contains No Remedy By Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

The proud sinner wants to be let alone. If he should momentarily dwell upon a prick of conscience by the Spirit of God, he says, “Go away, I will consider this another time.” By hardening his own heart, he condemns himself. By his hardness and his impenitent heart, he is gathering up wrath to himself against the day of wrath. Asahel Nettleton explains:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The language of the gospel is “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” But no sinner ever repented without conviction of sin. Even the Spirit of God never interposes to rescue the sinner from destruction in any other way than by arousing his guilty conscience to perform its office. Its genuine effects on the heart are thus described, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” But, you are not to be frightened. When they heard this they were pricked in the heart, and exclaimed, Men and brethren, what shall we do . . . ?

For [the hardened] sinner . . . the gospel contains no remedy. . . . He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed. And there is no remedy. The sinner, who will not take reproof, must be destroyed. The physician, who has exhausted his skill, and tried every experiment upon his patient can only look on and see him die. So fares it with the incorrigible sinner; you may soothe him in his sins – you may flatter his vanity – But this is only hastening the work of destruction. The only salutary application is conviction of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. But this his proud heart will not endure. Every attempt to rescue him from destruction will be resisted – It will only exasperate. . . .

But, if such be the effect of reproof, me thinks I hear some one say, then I will not hear the gospel. I will shun all reproof. Answer: A resolution not to take reproof evinces yourself to be one of the very persons described in the text. Whoever objects in this manner shows his determination to harden his neck at all events. For no one can shun reproof, or a preached gospel, without hardening his neck in the most effectual manner. He voluntarily places himself beyond the reach of hope. The man who has drunk poison may say, “I will run. I will shun it.” But, he is too late. You have heard the gospel and can never rid yourself of its everlasting obligations. If they escaped not, who refused him who spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven. They despised all my reproof; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them. (Sermon: “The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

If The Sinner Cannot Be Alarmed

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

The sinner, whose feelings are hardened, sees no remedy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such a sinner, finds no remedy. Reproof only hardens his neck. Thus, he shall be destroyed. A sinner who rejects reproof, destroys himself. So fares the hardened sinner. The preacher may offer hope to him in his sins or encourage his self-esteem. Such shallow fare, however, is only hastening the day of destruction. Such a proud heart cannot endure. Asahel Nettleton explains this below:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The sinner who continues to harden his neck under reproof cannot be saved. He shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy, because it cannot be prevented. Here is a sinner who will not take reproof-the question arises, What shall be done to prevent the loss of his soul? The answer is nothing. He is marching forward to eternity and to the pit of destruction with a proud heart and with a stiff neck, and nothing can stop him in his mad career. Such a sinner must go to destruction and no means can prevent it. This is the meaning of our text.

There is no remedy. The only remedy which can be applied for the salvation of sinners is the gospel. And this remedy never takes effect without alarming and arousing the guilty conscience. But, when warned to break off his sins, and to flee from the wrath to come, the hardened sinner says, “He is not to be frightened to heaven.” Thus it was with the old world. Noah, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world. By his preaching, and by his example, he warned the wicked world of the coming flood. But, they were not to be frightened. Thus it was with the inhabitants of Sodom. The preacher applied the most powerful means, the only remedy to prevent their destruction. Up, get ye out of this place: for the Lord will destroy thee. But, they were not to be frightened. He seemed as one that mocked. They would not be alarmed. And so there was no remedy. What could the preacher do more? Nothing.

Sinner! If you cannot be alarmed, you cannot be saved. If you do not believe that you are under the sentence of death from God’s holy law, then you do not feel your need of pardon, and “Ye will not come to Christ that ye might have life.” He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him. And the sinner who does not feel the awful conviction of this truth cannot be pardoned or saved. (Sermon: “The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

The Consequences Of An Incorrigible Disposition

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The Scriptures tell us that Pharaoh’s heart was hard even though he was often reproved by Moses, and by the judgments of God. When his conscience was aroused he silenced its voice, and hardened his neck. At length, he was suddenly destroyed by God in the depths of the sea. Asahel Nettleton explains Proverbs 29:1 in the excerpt below:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. He shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. This is the doom of the incorrigible sinner:

His punishment shall have no end. Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever. To cut off from Dives the last hope of relief to his torments, Abraham added, And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from us to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Whose end is destruction. The redemption of the soul is precious and ceaseth forever. His destruction is eternal.

It is sudden. [He] shall suddenly be destroyed. Thus the Psalmist: How they are brought into desolation as in a moment?-They are utterly consumed with terror. As the fishes that are taken in an evil net-so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. When sinners lose their souls they always lose them unexpectedly-especially those who have been hardened offenders. When they shall say, peace, and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.

This sentiment is illustrated in the providence of God. The fact is so common that it has become a proverb. The text itself is the result of a wise observation of the conduct of divine providence. It embodies the wisdom of ages. Thus was it with the inhabitants of the old world. They were often reproved by the preaching of Noah, and the by strivings of the Spirit, but they hardened their necks, and heeded neither. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away. They were suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy. (Sermon: “The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

Despising The Correction Of God

Asahel Nettleton

When you are afflicted by the divine hand of providence, are you made better or worse? If sickness and pain do not wean you from the world, and drive you to God, is it not because you have hardened your heart? This is the result of all the judgments of heaven and the calamities and miseries of human life. It is illustrated in the story of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Asahel Nettleton explains:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Allusion is made to the bullock which has repeatedly felt the galling yoke. At length his neck becomes hardened, and he can bear it without feeling or flinching. The sinner never hears a galling reproof without producing some effect. If his heart be not subdued, and changed, he becomes at length more hardened. The child who is often corrected, but not subdued, becomes more hardened. . . .

Because God is so good, etc. Thus despising the riches of divine goodness, and forbearance and longsuffering-not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth him to repentance, after his hardness and impenitent heart, and with a stiff neck, he perseveres in his course of rebellion, treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. O, the awful reckoning that awaits such offenders!

It is wholly impossible that a person should be frequently and faithfully admonished for his crimes, and yet experiences no alteration in his own condition. His rancorous pride will be augmented and his conscience becomes seared as with a hot iron. The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

On this work the sinner may make rapid advances-he may acquire the faculty of silencing the remonstrances of his conscience, and with a stoical apathy, proudly boast that he is superior to the thunders of Sinai. He may resist the mild accents of mercy, and do despite to the spirit of grace. He may spurn the offers of a bleeding Savior. The darkened heavens-the rending rocks, and the quaking earth may have no effect-to all these he may render himself impervious. But the day cometh that shall burn as an oven. Then his stiff neck, and his stout heart will not exempt him from the terrors that shall thrill through the soul of every guilty culprit that shall stand at the judgment seat of Christ.

The Conviction And Conversion Of Sinners

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

I pray that a fearful end is not soon approaching your life. There comes a time when false courage fails and then you must repent or perish. Asahel Nettleton writes:

And when he [Jesus] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him. The Spirit is sent to admonish. Its language is, “Sinner, whither are thou going, and what will be the end of thy sinful course? Prepare to meet thy God. “God (sometimes) reproves one sinner by the conviction and conversion of another. Here is one who has been your intimate friend, and companion. Your views and feelings and pursuits and objects of delight, and I may add, your sins too, have been the same. But yesterday he thought and spoke and acted in all respects like yourself. Today he is alarmed at his awful condition. He trembles in view of a judgment to come. Hither to he has been moving merely along with you side by side. But he dares follow you no farther. He has quit your company, and fled. But why? Alas, he finds himself a sinner-He has a soul to be saved or lost forever. This, my friends, is loud preaching to some of you. When near and dear friends begin to forsake and shun you, it is time for you to begin to look about you. This is a silent, but a solemn warning to you to Flee from the wrath to come. When you see or hear of a hardened sinner alarmed at his awful condition; it carries with it this solemn admonition. See the end to which you are coming. Though you may think to hold out, yet you cannot endure long. Your stout heart will soon tremble. And all your boasted courage will end in cowardice. See the fearful end to which you are fast approaching. You too must repent or perish.

The Reproof Of Sinners

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The great early American preacher, Asahel Nettleton, provides here a stern warning to the church and ministers of Christ:

God has made it the duty of his people to deal faithfully with each other. Exhort one another daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. And again, Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart (Leviticus 19:17).The expression is peculiarly forcible. The Almighty considers a neglect of brotherly reproof as on a par with the open indulgence of the feelings of anger and resentment. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor and not suffer sin upon him. And says our Savior, If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. Brethren, says James, if any do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Further, God has provided for the reproof of offenders by making it a duty of parents towards their children. To attend to the spiritual concerns of children, and to restrain their wickedness is the most important part of a parent’s duty. We have had fathers of our flesh, says the Apostle, who have corrected us, and we gave them reverence-and most persons can adopt his language in relation to their own experience. Yes; and what a load of guilt will rest upon the head of that ungodly child who has despised all the warnings, the entreaties, and tears, and prayers of a pious father, or an affectionate mother, who travailed in birth again that Christ might be formed in their souls, the hope of glory, when their own bodies slumber in the dust.

God also reproves sinners by his providences. He sends his judgments abroad in the earth that the inhabitants may learn righteousness. By the pains we feel, we are admonished that we are sinners; and warned to flee from the wrath to come.

By his Word. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, and for reproof. All the invitations, commands, and threatenings, and warnings in the Bible are so many admonitions to sinners.

By his ministers. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. Show thy people their transgression, and the house of Israel their sin. Hear the injunction of Paul on Timothy: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come(it seems as if, in uttering this prediction the Apostle had an eye upon sinners of our own day); For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.

But woe to those ministers who do not feel the weight of this charge-and woe to those wincing hearers, who (having itching ears that will not endure sound doctrine, heap to themselves teachers that prophecy smooth things, and say peace, peace to the wicked, when God hath declared that there is no peace for them. Against such preachers and hearers the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke, and all the curses that are written in this book shall be upon them, and the Lord shall blot out their names from under heaven. If ye cease to warn the wicked, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Mark: the consequence of withholding the warning, is the destruction of both the preacher and the hearer.

The Wise And The Scornful

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The unwillingness of an individual to receive reproof concerning his actions or character is a good measure of his relationship with God and the state of his salvation. The man who has found peace with God is receptive to honest reproof when it is given with genuine love and concern. The unsaved sinner coldly rejects the kindest criticism. Asahel Nettleton writes on this topic:

Hence, the reasonable precaution of our Savior addressed to his disciples: Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. It is not the best policy to reprove offenders of every description, and on all occasions. Prudence and judgment ought ever to be exercised in the discharge of this duty. Otherwise, the well-meant endeavors of the man who undertakes the unwelcome task of a sensor, will meet with a sad recompense.

Few, when faithfully reminded of their offenses, will evince the placid temper of the pious David, who (doubtless in allusion to the plain, and pointed reproof administered to him by the prophet Nathan) exclaimed, Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil. Most persons, on the contrary, when closely pressed as he was, and to whose consciences their crimes are set home with a clearness which cannot be mistaken “Thou art the man,” will give free vent to their rage; and will not scruple to accost their reprover in the libertine language ascribed to the wicked by the Psalmist, With our tongues will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?

The spirit which is discerned in the disdainful carriage of individuals of this sort when reminded of their faults, is a striking comment on the just maxims of the wise man. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Such is the difference which marks the demeanor of the righteous and the wicked when reminded of their faults. (“The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

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