National Sins & National Judgments

Psalm 22:28; Job 12:23
         He is the governor among the nations.
       He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straighteneth them again.     

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Kingdoms have their ebbings and flowings, their waxings and wanings; and both are from God.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): It is indispensably necessary to the perfection of God’s moral government that it should extend to nations and communities, as well as to individuals. This, I conceive, is too evident to require proof; for how could God be considered as the moral governor of the world, if nations and communities were exempt from His government? Again, if God is to exercise a moral government over nations and communities, by rewarding or punishing them according to their works, the rewards and punishments must evidently be dispensed in this world; for nations and communities will not exist, as such, in the world to come.

JAMES HERVEY (1713-1758): Consider, Sirs, the very essence of political communities is temporal, purely temporal. It has no existence but in this world. Hereafter, sinners will be judged and punished, singly and in a personal capacity only. How then shall He that is Ruler among nations, maintain the dignity of His government over the kingdoms of the earth, but by inflicting national punishments for national provocations?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): National sins demand national punishments. The whole history of God’s dealings with mankind proves that though a nation may go on in wickedness; it may multiply its oppressions; it may abound in bloodshed, tyranny, and war; but an hour of retribution draweth nigh. When it shall have filled up its measure of iniquity, then shall the angel of vengeance execute its doom. There cannot be an eternal damnation of nations as nations, the destruction of men at last will be that of individuals, and at the bar of God each man must be tried for himself. The punishment, therefore, of nations, is national. The guilt they incur must receive its awful recompense in this present time state.

JAMES HERVEY: How can the justice of God, with regard to a wicked nations, be shown, but by executing His vengeance upon them, in temporal calamities?

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): Eminent wickedness brings eminent judgments.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Proverbs 14:34. There I read that “righteousness exalteth a nation, and that sin is the reproach,” and if persisted in, the ruin of any people.

MATTHEW HENRY: People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and not repenting of it—doing it and standing to it.

EDWARD PAYSON: Further, it seems evidently proper, that communities as well as individuals, should have a time of trial and probation allowed them; that if the first generation prove sinful, the community should not be immediately destroyed, but that the punishment should be suspended, till it be seen whether the nation will prove incorrigible, or whether some succeeding generation will not repent of the national sins, and thus avert national judgments. As sinful nations, like individuals, if they do not reform, usually become worse, it will ever be found that the last days of a nation are its worst days, and that the generation which is destroyed is more abandoned than all preceding generations.

C. H. SPURGEON: For nations there is a weighing time.

JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): The justice of God is such, that He will not pour forth His extreme vengeance upon the wicked, until such time as their iniquity is so manifest, that their very flatterers cannot excuse it.

C. H. SPURGEON: God’s judgments in this life are not always clearly to be seen, for in many cases one event happeneth to all―yet, at times, God works terrible things in righteousness, and even the careless are compelled to own His hand…Meanwhile, on a large scale, we mark the presence of the great Ruler among the nations. He breaks in pieces oppressive thrones, and punishes guilty peoples. No one can study the rise and fall of empires without perceiving that there is a power which makes for righteousness, and, in the end, brings iniquity before its bar, and condemns it with unsparing justice.

WILLIAM GREENHILL: If there be national judgments, there are national sins.

C. H. SPURGEON: Go ye this day to Jerusalem, look beneath the buildings of the modern town, and mark the excavations which reveal the utter ruin of the holy city…Why was the siege of Jerusalem the most bloody and horrible in all history?” It was because the Jews rejected the Messiah, and would not believe the testimony of the Living God. O accursed unbelief!

MATTHEW HENRY: If Jerusalem be punished―shall not the nations?

EDWARD PAYSON: National judgments are always the consequence of national sins.

C. H. SPURGEON: This much I must say of national sins, that, wherever great powers have interfered with smaller and inoffensive nationalities, for the sake of increasing their territory, or their influence, they are very guilty; and wherein nations have shown a feverish irritability, or a readiness for war, they are also to be censured. Is not war always a conglomerate of crimes?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): War is the slaughterhouse of mankind, and the hell of this present world.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): War is pleasant to those who never tried it.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Let men who delight in the cruelties of war remember that their day is coming.

MATTHEW HENRY: The cabinet counsels of princes are before God’s eye, 2 Kings 6:11…God can soon nonplus the deepest politicians and bring the greatest wits to their wits’ end, to show that wherein they deal proudly He is above them.

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): Woes may come from peace, but they must come from war.

WILLIAM GREENHILL: Wars come not upon any people casually, but by the providence of God. When I bring a sword upon a land, Ezekiel 33:2; it is God that calls out the sword, and causeth it to come.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I regard the two World Wars which we have experienced in [the 20th] century as God’s punishment of the apostasy of the [19th] century. I see no other adequate explanation.

C. H. SPURGEON: A teacher was once instructing a class in patriotism and nationality. He happened to see the national flag hanging up upon the wall, and he asked a child, “Now, my boy, what is that flag?”
      “It is the English flag, sir.”
      “And what is the use of it?”
      The truthful boy replied, “It is used to cover the dirty place in the wall behind it.”
       I need not interpret the parable. Let modern ecclesiastical history point the moral.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Nations who depend for their protection and prosperity upon navies, armies, commerce, and forget God; they are idolaters.

JOHN NEWTON: Some people are startled at the enormous sum of our national debt: they who understand spiritual arithmetic may be well startled if they sit down and compare the debt of national sin…To stand in breach, by prayer, that, if it may be, wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged. This, I think, is the true patriotism, and the best, if not the only way in which persons in private life may serve their country.


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