The following is an excerpt from one of the most powerful sermons on record from Jonathan Edwards. It is said that Edwards had to call for the congregation to be quiet so that he could preach in his normal, subdued tone of voice, and that when Edwards was done, men were crying out and grasping on to the pews frames for support because they had come under such strong conviction of guilt.
Friends, there is no need to fret when evil people do well or attack you without cause. When they lie to you or about you, when they try to crush you out of jealousy and grasp for power. Don’t worry when they try to use you for your good reputation only to destroy it in the eyes of man. The Lord God sees what they’ve done to you – just trust that he will take up your defense, and that he will make short work of even those who call themselves righteous and yet are more of a son of the devil than the ones they preach against so eloquently.
Even though we know evil people will be punished for their misdeeds, we should not be joyous about this. It is a fearful thing to know that a fellow human is working so diligently to fill up his cup of wrath… very fearful indeed. I would not stand anywhere near him if I were you.
Sincerely, The Reformed Faith Administrator.
Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.
But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself — I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief — Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me.”
- Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God”