Psalm lxxv. 8.
T will help greatly to the right apprehension of this solemn subject to notice that Christ is the speaker of these awful truths. They cannot, then, have been spoken harshly; they must have been uttered in all tenderness. As head of His Church, Christ says (verse 1), "Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks;" and then (verse 2), looking on a world lying in wickedness, He anticipates a different state of things ere long: "I purpose when I shall receive the congregation that I shall judge uprightly." This shall be in the day when He returns to judge the earth. It is He, meanwhile, who upholds all by the word of His power; Ho keeps the world from falling into ruin; He it is that sustains that blue firmament, as well as earth's foundations, "I bear up the pillars thereof "—and were I to withhold my hand, all would tumble into ruin. Oh that an unthinking world would consider! Oh that fools would learn wisdom, and the proud fall down before their Lord. For the Judge shall surely come, with the cup of red wine in His hand—a cup of wrath, of which every rebellious one must drink to the dregs. The horns of the wicked shall soon be laid low, and the righteous alone exalted (verses 9, 10).
It is of this cup that -we this day wish to speak to you. It gives an alarming, awakening view of our God and Saviour. It is not "God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself," but God the Judge, Christ the Judge. It is not the King with the golden sceptre, inviting all to draw near; it is the King risen up in wrath, in the evening of the day of grace, to "judge all. the wicked of the earth."
Oh there is a hell, an endless hell, awaiting the ungodly! The Judge warns us of it in order that none of us may be cast into that tremendous woe. Say not in your hearts, "God is too loving and merciful ever to condemn a soul to such woe." If you continue in sin you shall know too late that the Judge does condemn; not because He is not infinitely loving, but because your sin compels Him so to do. Listen to what is written, and you will see that as sure as ever an unworthy communicant drank the wine out of the cup, so surely, if unpardoned, he shall drink of this wine of God's indignation.
I. The Cup of Wrath. The general idea of the verse is, that there is wrath against sin to be manifested by God, terrible beyond conception. As it is written in Ezek. xviii. 4, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die;" and Psalm vii. 11, 12: "God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not He will whet His sword; He hath bent His bow, and made it ready. He hath prepared for him the instruments of death." In Psalm xi. 6 : "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this is the portion of their cup. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness." In Psalm xxi. 9: "Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of Thine anger." In Job xxxvi. 18: "Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with His stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee." In Eom. ii. 5 we read, "Thou treasurest up unto Thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" and in Eev. xiv. 9, 10: "If any man worship the beast, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of His holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb." Can words be found more emphatic to express God's indignation at man's sin 1
"A cup" is spoken of. A measured out portion. (Psalm xi. 6, and Psalm xvi. 6: "The Lord is the portion of my cup "). It is frequently used to express a full amount; as when the fulfilment of curse is called the " cup of trembling," Isaiah li. 22; and in Ezek. xxiii. 31, wrath upon Samaria is, "the cup of Samaria." God's wrath shall be given forth in a measured portion, deliberately and fairly considered. There shall be nothing of caprice, nothing arbitrary, in God's judgment on sin; all shall be fairly adjusted. Here are the sins; there is the cup, of a size proportioned to the sin, and full. God's perfections direct and dictate the filling of it.
It is "a cup of red urine." He elsewhere calls it
"The wine of my fury;" and in Eev. xvi. 19, it is "Wine of the fierceness of His wrath." In the East, red wine was usually the strongest; but besides, the fiery nature of the contents is indicated by the colour. This "red wine" is pressed out of the grapes by the divine attributes. It must be the concentrated essence of wrath; no weak potion, but one like that in Jer. xxv. 16, where they " drink, and are moved, and are mad;" or that in Ezek. xxii. 33 : " A cup deep and large; it containeth much; a cup of astonishment and desolation, filled with drunkenness and sorrow."
It is "full of mixture.'"—This signifies that the wine's natural quality has been strengthened; its force has been intensified by various ingredients cast into it. Such is the sense of " mingled wine " in Isa. v. 22, and in Prov. ix. 5, " Come, drink of the wine which I have mingled." We must distinguish this from the expression " without mixture," in Eev. xiv. 10, where the speaker means to say, that there is no infusion of water to weaken the strength of the wine. Here there is everything that may enhance the bitterness of the cup; and let us ask, What may be these various ingredients 1 From every side of the lost sinner's nature forms of misery shall arise. The body, as well as soul, shall be steeped in neverending anguish, amid the unceasing wretchedness of eternal exile and lonely imprisonment. Further, each attribute of Godhead casts something into the cup. Righteousnesss is there; so that the rich man in hell (Luke xvi.) dare not hint that his torment is too great. Mercy and love stand by and cast on it their ray, testifying that the sinner was dealt with in longsuffering, and salvation placed within his reach. O the aggravation which this thought will lend to misery. Omnipotence contributes to it; the lost man in the hands of the Almighty is utterly helpless, weak as a worm. Eternity is an ingredient, telling that this wrath endures as long as God lives. And truth is there, declaring that all this is what God spoke, and so cannot be altered without overturning His throne. Yet more: while shame and contempt, and the consciousness of being disowned by every holy being, fiercely sting the soul, there are ingredients cast in by the sinner himself. His conscience asserts and attests that this woe is all deserved, and the man loathes himself. Memory recalls past opportunities and times of hope despised. Sin goes on increasing, and passions rage ; cravings gnaw the unsatisfied soul with eternal hunger. It may be that every particular sin will contribute to the mixture—a woe for broken Sabbaths; a woe for lusts gratified; a woe for every scoff, and every blasphemy and oath; a woe for every act of drunkenness, and every falsehood and dishonesty; a woe for every rejected invitation, and every threatening disregarded. Who can tell what more may be meant by the words : "Full of mixture?" It has "dregs" in it. The dregs lie at the bottom, out of sight, but are the bitterest. Do these mean hidden woss not yet conceived of by any? Such as may be hinted at in the words, "Better he had never been born?" Such as Christ's woes seem to speak of? These shall be the reverse of the saved man's joys, "which never have entered the heart" to imagine. Backsliders seem sometimes to have begun to taste these dregs. Apostates, like Spira, have shown a little of what they may be. But oh, the reality in the ages to come! For it shall be the wrath of Him whose breath makes the mountains smoke, and rocks earth to its centre. O the staggering madness of despair!
"He poureth out of the same." "The wicked shall wring them out and drink them." They are not meant to be merely shewn; this is not a cup whose contents shall only be exhibited and then withdrawn. No, the wicked must "drink them," and cannot refuse. When Socrates, the Athenian sage, was adjudged to drink the cup of poison, he was able to protest his innocence, and thus to abate the bitterness of the draught, though he took it as awarded by the laws of his country. Here, however, there shall be nothing like protest, nothing of any such alleviation of the awful draught which the sinner must drink. "God poureth out," and the guilty soul "shall wring out and drink" the very dregs. Job xx. 22, says, "They would "fain flee out of his hand," but cannot, for it is written, "God shall cast upon him and not spare." In Jer. xxv. 15, we have the Lord most peremptorily commanding, "Take the wine-cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee to drink it. And they shall drink, and be moved and be mad." And further, He insists, verse 28, "If they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink." "They shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty " (Job xxi. 20). And what mean those words already quoted in Rev. xiv. 10, 11? It shall not, on God's part, be a mere silent feeling of indignation at sin; there must he infliction of curse. There is no thunder while the electricity sleeps in the cloud. The seven seals showed no deliverance for earth while unbroken; the seven trumpets summoned no avengers, till sounded; the seven vials brought down no judgment, while only held in the angels' hands. Ah yes, the penalty must be exacted, and it will require eternity to exact it all!
O fellow-sinner, we have tried to say somewhat of this doom; but what are words of man? You have seen a porous vessel, in which was fine flavoured liquor? outside you tasted the moisture, and it gave a slight idea of what was within; but slight indeed. So our words to-day. And remember each new sin of yours will throw in more mixture. It is the merciful One Himself who speaks in Ezek. xxii. 13, 14: "Behold I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it and will do it." It is dreadful to read and hear this proclamation of wrath; but it is all given in order to compel us to flee from it. As one of our poets (Montgomery) sings:
"Mercy hath writ the lines of judgment there;
None who from earth can read them need despair."
IL The story of One who drank this cup to the dregs.
We would not leave you merely contemplating the terrors of that wrath. We go on, in connection with it, to speak of one whose history has a strange bearing on our case.
There has been only One who has ever "drunk this cup to its dregs." Cain has been drinking it for 5000 years, and finds his punishment greater than he can bear, but has not come to the dregs. Judas has been drinking it for nearly 2000, often crying out with a groan that shakes hell, " Oh that I had never been born! Oh that I had never seen or heard of the Lord Jesus Christ!" But he has not reached the dregs. The fallen angels have not come near the dregs: for they have not arrived at the judgment of the Great Day. The only One who has taken, tasted, drunk, and wrung out the bitterest of the bitter dregs, has been the Judge Himself, the Lord Jesus!
You know how often, when on earth, He spoke of it. "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" (Matt. xx. 22.) "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John xvii. 11.) In Psalm lxxxviii. 15, "lam afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: I suffer thy terrors: I am dis. tracted." The universe saw Him with it at His lips. It was our cup of trembling; the cup in which the wrath due to the "multitude which no man can number" was mingled. What wrath, what woe! A few drops made Him cry, "Now is my soul troubled!" In the garden, the sight of it wrung out the strange, mysterious words, "Sorrowful unto death!" Though Godman, he staggered at what He saw, and went on trembling. Next day, on Calvary, He drank it alL I suppose the three hours darkness may have been the time when He "was wringing out the dregs;" for then arose from His broken heart the wail that so appealed to the heart of the Father, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me 1" As He ended the last drop, and cried out, "It is finished," we may believe angels felt an inconceivable relief—and even the Father Himself! So tremandous was the wrath and curse !—the wrath and curse due to our sin.
In all this, there was nothing too much. Love would protest against one drop too much; and never do you find our God exceeding. Did He not hasten to stay Abraham's hand when enough had been done on Moriaht and at that same spot again, in David's day, when Justice had sufficiently declared the sharpness of its two-edged sword, did He not again hasten to deliver, crying, "It is enough 1" How much more then when it was His beloved Son 1 He sought from Him all that was needed by justice; but would exact not one drop beyond what justice craved. And so we find in this transaction what may well be good news to us. For Jesus drank that cup as the substitute for "the great multitude," His innumerable people, given Him of the Father; and thereby freed them from ever tasting even one drop of that fierce wrath, that " cup of red wine, full of mixture," with its dregs, its unknown terrors. Now, this One, this only One, who so drank the whole, presents to the sinners of our world the emptied Cup— His own Cup emptied. He sends it round the world, calling on mankind-sinners to take it and offer it to the Father as satisfaction for their sins. Come, 0 fellowsinner, grasp it and hold it up to God! Plead it, and thou art acquitted.
Yes, if you are anxious at all to be saved and blessed, take up this emptied cup. However cold thy heart, however dull thy feelings, however slight thy sorrow for sin, take this emptied cup. Your appeal to this emptied cup arrests judgment at once. Do not think you need to endure some anguish of soul, some great sorrow—to take some sips of the red wine, far less to taste its dregs, ere you can be accepted. What thoughtless presumption! Imitating Christ in His atoning work! If Uzziah, the king, presenting incense when he ought to have let the priest do it for him, was smitten for his presumption, take care lest you be thrust away, if you presume to bring the fancied incense of your sorrow and bitter tears. It is the emptied cup that is offered us, not the the cup wet with our tears, or its purity dimned by the breath of our prayers. Feelings of ours, graces of ours, can do nothing but cast a veil over the perfect merits of Christ.
Man of God who hast used this cup, keep pleading it always. Ever make it the ground of thine assurance of acceptance. Examine it often and well—see how God was glorified here, and how plentifully it illustrates and . honours the claims of God's righteousness. Full payment of every claim advanced by Justice is here; and so you, in using it, give good measure, pressed down and running over. What then remains but that you
render thanks and take this salvation, often singing,—
"Once it was mine, that cup of wrath,
And Jesus drank it dry!''
What should ever hinder thy triumphant joy 1 Be full of gratitude; and let this gratitude appear in thy letting others know what it has done for you, and may do for them.
For again we say to you, fellow-sinner, if you accept it not, soon you shall have no opportunity of choice. May I never see one of my people drinking this awful cup! May I never see it put into their hands I The groaning of a soul, dying in sin, is at times heard on this side of the veil, and it is the saddest and most haunting of all solemn and awful scenes; but what is that to the actual drinking of the cup, and wringing out the very dregs, that God "poureth out of the same." Never may Satan have it in his power to upbraid you with having once had the offer of salvation, an offer never made to him! It seems to me that every Sabbath, specially, the Lord takes Gospel-hearers aside into a quiet secluded nook, and there sets down before them the "cup of red wine, full of mixture," and then the emptied cup of Jesus, earnestly, most earnestly, most sincerely, most compassionately, pressing them to decide and be blessed. Men and brethren, never rest till the Holy Ghost has in your eye so glorified Christ who drank the cup, that you see in Him your salvation and God's glory secured beyond controversy, beyond even Satan's power to question or assail.