O what a dwelling!

(James Smith, "The Alarm and Inquiry!" 1855)  Play Audio!  Download Audio

"The sinners in Zion are terrified!
 Trembling grips the godless!
 Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
 Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14

These 'sinners in Zion' represent professors of religion.

Many profess the Christian religion, who are not really Christians!
They are strangers to the new birth.
They have never passed from death unto life.
Their opinions perhaps are changed, but their hearts remain just as they were.
Their lives may be moral, but their hearts are not spiritual.
They are enemies to God, though they profess to be His friends!
They are rebels against the government of Jesus, while they profess to be His loyal subjects.

Commending the Savior with their lips, they withhold their heart from Him.
In professing Christ, they cry, "Hosanna to the Son of David!"
But by living in sin, they cry, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"
They are not struggling with sin, but sternly attached to sin!
It is not weakness which causes their conduct, but inveterate wickedness!

They are hypocrites, that is, they wear a mask! They pretend to be what they well know they are not. With their mouths they show much love to Christ, but their hearts go after their lusts!

Reader, it is a dreadful thing . . .
  to be a hypocrite;
  to be found among the Lord's people, while not really of them;
  to profess Christ, and not to possess Christ!

You may deceive men, but you cannot deceive God!

You may be bold and fearless now, but when God shall unmask you and expose the nakedness of your soul, then you will be afraid; fearfulness and trembling will seize upon you suddenly!

If you are indulging in any known sin, under a profession of religion—then you are a 'sinner in Zion', and your state is most dangerous!

The time is coming, when the 'sinners in Zion' shall be afraid. God has threatened them. He has threatened them with His sorest judgments. He is true and faithful to His Word. His wrath is eternal, for it is His just displeasure against sin, it is His righteous opposition to the sinner. He hates all sin. But He especially hates deception! Hypocrisy is odious in His sight. He has pronounced the most dreadful woes against all such. They will not find any mercy at His hands, if they persevere in their hypocrisy!

How will they be able to lift up their faces before Him in judgment, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who has been witness to all their hypocrisy, and who hates all the workers of iniquity! In the prospect of that day, God proposes the most solemn QUESTIONS:

"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?" Fire inflicts the most dreadful pains. It is used by the Lord to represent the punishment that is to be inflicted upon all ungodly people. It is not merely fire, but consuming fire. Fire in its strength! Fire raging as it does when well fed with fuel! O how dreadful to be tormented in that flame! To be surrounded by that fierce, scorching, destructive element! Sinner! think of devouring fire, a lake of devouring fire—it is the due desert of your sins!

Then, there are everlasting burnings! "Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?" There is a fire that never shall be quenched! There are torments that shall never, never, never end! Yes, while God lives to punish, while the cause of punishment remains—the sinner must be punished!

The torments of Hell will not purify. The lost are never sanctified by their sufferings in Hell. They will sin yet more and more, and justice requires that punishment should continue to be inflicted.

Impenitent sinners are to dwell with everlasting burnings.
Hell is to be their unchangeable residence, their eternal portion.
O what a dwelling! What a doom! What a destiny!
And yet it is just, strictly just!

My reader, God directs you to put the question to your own conscience: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burnings?"
Ah! What if you should!
What if your profession should end in this doom!
What if your hope should prove like the spider's web?
It may! It is possible. Is it probable? Search and look!
A mistake here is fearful, it is fatal, it is irremediable!

Deceitful and deceiving professor, ponder these solemn questions. They are especially addressed to you. Every false covering will soon be stripped off. Your heart and your life will be laid bare, by the holy, sin-hating, sin-punishing God!

Do not even dream of redemption from the devouring fire, when once in it, or of the everlasting burnings being quenched! That is the greatest folly. It is an invention of the father of lies—to deceive your souls, and secure your damnation! If you persevere in sin, if you continue to practice hypocrisy—I solemnly warn you, that you shall surely perish!
Hell will be opened to meet you at your death,
the fierce flames of damnation will curl around you,
the doors of the horrid prison of despair will close upon you,
and you will be lost, lost, lost forever!

We must sound the alarm! We would alarm you, to prevent your ruin!

Your sin deserves Hell. It demands punishment. It appeals to the justice of God, and its appeal will be regarded. A just God must punish the impenitent sinner. Hear then, the warning voice! Flee from the wrath to come! Hasten and escape from the consuming fire, from the everlasting burnings! Flee, flee for refuge, and lay hold of the hope set before you in the gospel.

Flee, flee, flee from the everlasting burnings!!!