A WORD TO SINNERS AND SAINTS From a sermon by William Romaine 1714-1795
`Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.’ Matthew 25.13.
Men and brethren, let me speak freely unto you concerning this scripture. It is of great and of eternal importance, and you ought to examine your hearts, and see how it operates in your lives. Are you, then, watching? And do you watch the more carefully, because ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh? Look around you, and consider your situation. You are upon the verge of eternity. The joys of heaven and the torments of hell are before you. And you are not sure of a day longer to provide for them. Time flies. Death approaches. Behold the Judge standeth before the door. `Surely I come quickly.’ In a moment you may meet Him in judgment. And is all this nothing to you? Will it be the same thing to you whether you live in heaven or in hell for ever? Certainly eternal torment cannot be a desirable thing, and how then do you quiet your consciences, while you are in danger of it? If you are going on careless in your sins, you cannot escape it. How can the devil delude you so far, and give you stupefying opiates, that you either do not see how near you are to everlasting misery, or else do not fear it? Your case is almost desperate; may the eternal Spirit open your eyes to see it, before it be too late. God has commanded you to watch, you do not watch. He has required you to be always ready, you are not ready. He has threatened to come in a day when ye look not for Him, and you go on careless in your sins, neglecting His threatenings. He is now alarming a careless world with His judgments, but they make no impression upon you. He has sent war and pestilence to arouse you out of your security, you are not alarmed. He has arisen to shake terribly the earth, you are not moved. He has come to take vengeance on a guilty race, and has punished them with a most exemplary destruction, but you are not affected. He has overthrown large and populous cities, which are now nothing but heaps of wide-extended ruin; all this makes no impression upon you. Although many thousands of their inhabitants be buried under the ruins, yet you neither feel for yourselves, nor for your fellow-creatures, whom
vengeance suffered not to live. O hardened, insensible sinners! your hearts are more obdurate than the nether millstone; for what could the almighty God do more to alarm you, than He has done? And yet how few of you are alarmed? This strange stupidity and hardness of your hearts will soon bring down some heavy calamity upon you: for if you still return to your sins, refusing to repent, although you see the arm of justice lifted up to destroy impenitent sinners, what can you expect but that it should fall next upon your guilty heads, and that you, who would not cry for mercy at such a time as this, shall receive judgment without mercy? And of this be ye assured, that the longer mercy withholds the blow, the heavier will it fall, when the longsuffering of God is wearied out, and His almighty justice comes to be glorified in your destruction. Oh that this may never happen, but that He may be glorified in your salvation! May He give you grace no longer to abuse His goodness and forbearance, but now to leave your sins, and while His judgments are in the earth to learn righteousness, that you may receive justification to life by the all perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Happy will it be for you and me, if by any means I may prevail with you to flee from the wrath to come. God is now pleading with you. He calls aloud to you by various judgments to repent. And it is my heart’s desire to second His call, and to be useful under Him in stirring you up to repentance. I think the ministers of the gospel cannot be too earnest and importunate at such a time as this. When God is pleading powerfully with sinners, and yet we see them sleeping on in security, surely we should then cry aloud and spare not. The heavier the spirit of slumber is upon them, the more pains should we take to awaken them.
My Christian brethren, your Lord’s command should be much in your thoughts at present, Be watchful. You find none of His commands grievous: for love has made them all pleasant, and to keep them with a watchful spirit is become your delight. Faith and hope enable you to look out for Christ’s coming without any fear or dread, and love makes watching for it sweet and joyful. It is a pleasure to you to meditate upon His coming. You can reflect with joy upon that blessed day, when you shall see the dear object of your affections, shall behold Him in all the glory of the Godhead, and shall be admitted into His presence, where is the fulness of everlasting joys. Oh! there is heaven in these reflections. The happiness you find in them disposes you earnestly to wish and pray for the great day of your Lord’s appearing. And His repeated commands to you to watch for it, keep you watchful. It would be no surprise to you, if you were this moment to lift up your eyes, and to see the crucified Jesus coming in the clouds with power and great glory, to hear the loud trump of God calling you to judgment, and to behold the dead rising out of their graves, the earth in flames, and to feel yourselves caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Are not these hopes the joy of your hearts? I know they are. You long to meet your beloved Lord and
Saviour. And are you all in this happy situation’? Say. Have you such pure and perfect love for the Judge of all the earth, that you wish, and pray, and watch for His coming. Ask your consciences, as if I put the question to every one of you by name, is this your case’? Every true believer can, without presumption, declare: Glory be to God, it is my happy situation; through grace I wait for the coming of my most blessed and adorable Saviour, and in His strength I now watch, and hope, whenever He comes, to be found watching. Oh that His good Spirit may bring every one of you into this watchful frame and temper of mind, and may He enable you all now to ask it of Him in the prayer of faith; and I know of no words more suitable to the subject, or more truly pious, than these which our church has taught us to use on this day.
`O Lord Jesus Christ, who at Thy first coming didst send Thy messengers to prepare Thy way before Thee! Grant that the ministers and stewards of Thy mysteries, may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world, we may all be watching and praying, and may therefore be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.’