Summary: This Sermon is #20 from Rev. Andrew Lee’s SERMONS published in 1803 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. at Lisbon, Connecticut.
The entire book Andrew’s Lee’s Sermons is available free at Project Gutenberg as e-Text #15031.
The Fear which terminates in the Second Death. Revelation xxi.8.
"The fearful--shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death."
THE terms on which only we can be Christ’s disciples are laid before us in the Scriptures, and we are counselled to consider them before we engage to be his.
THOUGH Christ was born to be a king, his kingdom is not of this world. He doth not persuade men with the prospect of great things here; but on the contrary warns his followers, that "in this world they shall have tribulation;" pointing them to another, as the place of their rest, and teaching them there to expect the reward of their labors and suffering here. And here the saints in every age, have groaned, being burdened. Had God provided nothing better for them, he would be ashamed to be called their God.
The primitive Christians drank largely of the bitter cup. All the apostles, except John, are said to have sealed their testimony with their blood. John at an advanced age, died peaceably in his bed at Ephesus. But he did not escape persecution here. When the revelation was made to him, he was in exile for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus. For his consolation, and for the edification of the church, he was visited in his lonely state, by the exalted Redeemer, who unveiled futurity before him, briefly sketching the changes which were to pass over his people till the consummation of all things. The vision closed with the solemn, dreadful process of the great day, and its consequences to the righteous and to the wicked.
THE divine visitant enlarged on the glories of the heavenly state beyond any of the prophets who had gone before. The description is clothed in figurative language, affording only a partial view of "the glory which is to be revealed;" sufficient however to convince us, that "eye hath not seen, ear heard, or the heart of man conceived the things which God hath prepared for those who love him."
BUT who will be made to possess these glorious things? They are offered to all who hear the sound of the gospel; but conquering believers will only attain them. Their contrast will be the portion of others.
THIS life is a warfare, in which we are called to contend with our own corruptions and with the powers of darkness--"He that overcometh shall inherit all things:" But those who are overcome, _will have their part in the lake of fire--which is the second death_.
TO understand the grounds of this context is highly important. Mistakes here may be fatal. To assist the inquirer, the characters of conquerors and captives are drawn in the scriptures. The verse of which the text is a part, mentions several general characters of the latter kind, and determines their future portion--_The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death_.
IN the prosecution of our subject, only one of these general characters will be considered--_the fearful_.
WHO then are intended by _the fearful_? And what is the fear which leads to destruction?
FEARFUL, is a term seldom used to describe sinners. It occurs, we believe, in no other scripture. Every kind of fear is not sinful; much less inconsistent with a state of grace. "The fear of Lord is the beginning of wisdom"--it disposes the subject of it to mind the things which belong to peace, and flee to the hope set before him in gospel. The fear of God is often used to describe the good man, and given as a leading trait in his character. It is noted in favor of Obadiah, the servant of Ahab, that he "feared the Lord greatly." TO have no fear of God before one’s eyes, is expressive of great obduracy in sin; of the last grade of depravity. Yet in the text, the fearful, are mentioned as the first rank of those who will have their part in the burning lake! What then is this fear?
IT may be of several kinds; particularly--that to which precludes trust in God, and reliance on his grace in Christ--that which operates to explain away the law of God--that which puts men upon duty in order to atone for sin--and that which shrinks from the hardships of religion.
I. THE fear which leads down to the lake of fire, may be that which precludes trust in God and reliance on his grace in Christ.
FAITH in Christ, and reliance on divine grace in him, are conditions of salvation. Where these are wanting Christ will not profit. Faith and reliance are united. The latter is dependant on the former, and riseth out of it. "He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him."