A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, December 7, 1856, by the
Rev. C. H. Spurgeon at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens
“ If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow and made it ready ” Psalm 7:12
If the sinner turn not, God will whet his sword.” So, then, God has a sword, and he will punish man on account of his iniquity. This evil generation hath laboured to take away from God the sword of his justice; they have endeavoured to prove themselves that God will “clear the guilty,” and will by no means “punish iniquity, transgression and sin.” Two hundred years ago the predominant strain of the pulpit was one of terror: it was like Mount Sinai, it thundered forth the dreadful wrath of God, and from the lips of a Baxter or a Bunyan, you heard most terrible sermons, full to the brim with warnings of judgment to come. Perhaps some of the Puritanic fathers may have gone too far, and have given too great a prominence to the terrors of the Lord in their ministry: but the age in which we live has sought to forget those terrors altogether, and if we dare to tell men that God will punish them for their sins, it is charged upon us that want to bully them into religion, and if we faithfully and honestly tell our hearers that sin must bring after it certain destruction, it is said that we are attempting to frighten them into goodness.
Now we care not what men mockingly impute to us; we feel it our duty, when men sin, to tell them they shall be punished, and so long as the world will not give up its sin we feel we must not cease our warnings. But the cry of the age is, that God is merciful, that God is love. Ay; who said he was not? But remember, it is equally true, God is just, severely and inflexibly just. He were not God, if he were not just; he could not be merciful if he were not just, for punishment of the wicked is demanded by the highest mercy to the rest of mankind. Rest assured, however, that he is just, and that the words I am about to read you from God’s Word are true—”The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God;’ “God is angry with the wicked every day;” “If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.”
In truth, because this age is wicked it is to have no hell; and because it is hypocritical it would have but feigned punishment. This doctrine is so prevalent as to make even the ministers of the gospel flinch from their duty in declaring the day of wrath. How few there are who will solemnly tell us of the judgment to come. They preach of God’s love and mercy as they ought to do, and as God has commanded them; but of what avail is it to preach mercy unless they preach also the doom of the wicked? And how shall we hope to effect the purpose of preaching unless we warn men that if they “turn not, he will whet his sword?”
I fear that in too many places the doctrine of future punishment is rejected and laughed as a fancy and a chimera; but the day will come when it shall be known to be a reality. Ahab scoffed at Micaiah, when he said he should never come home alive; the men of Noah’s generation laughed at the foolish old man, (as they thought him), who bid them take heed, for the world should be drowned; but when they were climbing to the tree-tops, and the floods were following them, did they then say that the prophecy was untrue: and when the arrow was sticking in the heart of Ahab, and he said, “Take me from the battle, for I must die;” did he then think that Micaiah spoke an untruth? And so it is now. Ye tell us we speak lies, when we warn you of judgment to come; but in that day when your mischief shall fall on yourselves, and when destruction shall overwhelm you, will you say we were liars then? Will ye then turn round and scoff, and say we spake not the truth?