God’s First Words to the First Sinner

Charles Haddon Spurgeon October 6, 1861 Scripture: Genesis 3:9 From: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 7

God's First Words to the First Sinner


“The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” — Genesis 3:9.


IT will be interesting to the members of this Church to know that it was under a sermon delivered by Mr. William Wallin from this very text, that my honoured and venerable predecessor, Dr. Gill, was converted to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. I looked with some degree of curiosity to his interpretation of this passage. I had half hoped to find there some allusion to his own conversion, but I did not, although I was edified by his clear and methodical comment upon it, to which I am under obligations for suggesting the present discourse. May I hope that, as this text has been the means in the hand of God, of conferring upon the Church of Christ a man who valiantly defended the truth of God, and was the means of expounding the doctrine of grace with great clearness, that there may be here present to-day someone at least who like John Gill may hear the word with power, and may receive it in its quickening influence into his soul. Nay, let us pray that not one alone, but that many may hear the enquiry of God as it rings through the multitude, and while it reaches the ear may it reach the heart too, and may some be brought before God in answer to the question “Where art thou?” and receive the assurance of pardon and go on their way in peace. It is not necessary that I should, in expounding this text, enter at all into the circumstances which led to the enquiry. Man had sinned against God. Mark the alienation of heart which sin causes in the sinner. Adam ought to have sought out his Maker. He should have gone through the garden crying for his God, “My God, my God, I. have sinned against thee. Where art thou? Low at thy feet thy creature falls and asks mercy at thy hands. My Father, thou hast placed me in this lovely Paradise; I have wickedly and wilfully eaten of the fruit of which thou saidst that I should not eat of it, since in the day I ate thereof I should surely die. Behold, my Father, I submit to the penalty. I confess thy justice and beseech thy mercy, if mercy can be shown to such an one as I am.” But instead thereof, Adam   God. The sinner comes not to God; God comes to him. It is not “My God, where art thou?” but the first cry is the voice of grace, “Sinner where art thou. God comes to man; man seeks not his God. Despite all the doctrines which proud free-will has manufactured, there ha-s never been found from Adam's day until now a single instance in which the sinner first sought his God. God must first seek him. The sheep strays of itself, but it never returns to its fold unless sought by the Great Shepherd. It is human to err, it is divine to repent. Man can commit iniquity, but even to know that it is iniquity so as to feel the guilt of it, is the gift of the grace of God. We have and are nothing but what is vile. Everything which is Godlike, everything which aspires towards righteousness and true holiness, cometh from the Most High.

     And while the text manifestly teaches us the alienation of the human heart from God, so that man shuns his Maker and doth not desire fellowship with him, it reveals also the folly which sin has caused. Sin made man a fool. He was once in God's image, wise; now, since the trail of the serpent has passed over his nature he has become an arrant fool, for is not he a fool who would cover the nakedness of sin with fig leaves? Is not he indeed mad who would hide from the omniscient Jehovah beneath the spreading boughs of trees? Did not Adam know that God filleth all space, and dwelleth everywhere, that from the highest heaven to the deepest hell there is nothing that is hid from his understanding? and yet so ignorant and stupid is he that he hopes to escape from God, and make the trees of the garden a covert from the fiery eyes of divine wrath. Ah! how foolish we are! How we repeat the folly of our first parent every day when we seek to hide sin from conscience, and then think it is hidden from Gou , when we are more afraid of the gaze of man than of the searchings of the Eternal One, when because the sin is secret, and has not entrenched upon the laws and customs of society, we make no conscience of it, but go to our beds with the black mark still upon us, being satisfied because man does not see it, that therefore God doth not perceive it. O sin, thou hast made man ask the question, “Whither shall I flee from thy presence?” and thou hast made him forget, that if he ascend to heaven, God is there; if he make his bed in hell, God is there, and if he say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,” even the night shall be light about him.

     But now, the Lord himself comes forth to Adam, and note how he comes. He comes walking. He was in no haste to smite the offender, not flying upon wings of wind, not hurrying with his fiery sword unsheathed, but walking in the garden. “ In the cool of the day ” — not in the dead of night, when the natural glooms of darkness might have increased the terrors of the criminal; not in the heat of the day, lest he should imagine that God came in the heat of passion; not in the early morning, as if in haste to slay, but at the close of the day, for God is longsuffering, slow to anger, and of great mercy; but in the cool of the evening, when the sun was setting upon Eden's last day of glory, when the dews began to weep for man's misery, when the gentle winds with breath of mercy breathed upon the hot cheek of fear; when earth was silent that man might meditate, and when heaven was lighting her evening lamps, that man might have hope in darkness; then, and not till then, forth came the offended Father. Adam flies and seeks to avoid that very God whom he had once met with confidence, and with whom he had the sweetest fellowship, talking with him as a man talketh with his friend. And now hear the voice of God as he cries, “Adam, where art thou?” Oh! there were two truths in that short sentence. It showed that Adam, was lost, or God would not have needed to ask him where he was. Until we have lost a thing, we need not enquire about it; but when God said, “Adam, where art thou?” it was the voice of a shepherd enquiring for his lost sheep; or better still, the cry of a loving parent asking for his child that has ran away from him, “Where art thou?” There are but three words, but they contain the dread doctrine of our lost estate. When God asks, “Where art thou?” man must be lost. When God himself enquires where he is, he must be lost in a more awful sense than you and I have as yet fully known. But then, there was also mercy here, for it showed that God intended to have mercy upon man, or else he would have let him remain lost, and would not have said, “Where art thou?” Men do not enquire for what they do not value. There was a gospel sermon, I think, in those three divine words as they penetrated the dense parts of the thicket, and reached the tingling ears of the fugitives— “Where art thou?” Thy God is not willing to lose thee; he is come forth to seek thee, just as by-and-bye he means to come forth in the person of his Son, not only to seek but to save that which now is lost. “Where art thou, Adam?” meant to have destroyed the race, he would have hurled his thunderbolt at once, and burned the trees, and let the ashes of the sinner lie beneath his angry gaze. He would have rushed in the whirlwind, and in the storm, and tearing up the cedars and the pomegranates by their roots, he would have said, “Here thou art, thou rebel; traitor, take thy due deserts! let hell open before thee, and be thou swallowed up for ever.” But no, he loves man; he careth for him, and therefore now enquireth where he is in tones of calmness, “Adam, where art thou, where art thou?”

     The question which the Lord asked of Adam may be used in five different ways. We are not sure in what precise sense the Lord intended it— perhaps in all— for there is always in the utterance of the Divine One a great depth which coucheth beneath Our words, if they give one sense, do well; but the Lord knoweth how to speak so that he shall teach many truths in few words. We give little in much: God giveth much in little. Many words and little sense— this is too often the rule of man's speech. Few words and much meaning— this is the rule with God. We give gold beaten out into leaf: God giveth ingots of gold when he speaketh. We use but the filings of gems: God droppeth pearls from his lips each time he speaketh to us, nor shall we, perhaps, even in eternity, know how divine are God's words— how like himself, how exceeding broad, how infinite.

       I. We believe that the enquiry of God was intended in an AROUSING SENSE— “Adam, where art thou?” Sin stultifies the conscience, it drugs the mind, so that after sin man is not so capable of understanding his danger as he would have been without it. Sin is a poison which kills conscience painlessly by mortification. Men die by sin, as men die when frozen to death upon the Alps— they die in asleep; they sleep, and sleep, and sleep, and sleep on, till death closes the scene, and then in hell they awake in torments. One of the first works of grace in a man is to put aside this sleep, to startle him from his lethargy, to make him open his eyes and discover his danger. One of the first deeds of the good physician is to put sensibility into our flesh. It has become cold, and dead, and mortified; he puts life into it, and then there is pain; but that very pain has a salutary effect upon us. Now, I think that this question from the Lord was intended to set Adam thinking, “Where art thou?” He had perceived in some degree into what a state his sin had brought him, but this question was meant to stir the depths of his spirit, and wake him up to such a sense of danger, that he should labour to escape from the wrath to come. “Adam, where art thou?’’–look at thyself now, naked, a stranger to thy God, dreading the presence of thy Maker, miserable, undone. “Adam, where art thou?” — with a hard heart, with a rebellious will, fallen, fallen, fallen from thy high estate. “Adam, where art thou?” Lost! lost to thy God, lost to happiness, lost to peace, lost in time, lost in eternity. Sinner, “where art thou?" O that I might, by the earnest words' which I shall now utter, stir up some callous, careless sinner to answer the enquiry for himself! Man, where art thou? — where art thou this morning? Shall I tell thee? Thou art in a condition in which thy very conscience condemns thee. How many there are of you who have never repented of sin, have never believed in Christ! I ask you, is your conscience easy? — is it always easy? Are there not some times when the thunderer will be heard? Are there not seasons when the watchman lights his candle, and searches the secret parts of your soul, and discovers your iniquity? Where art thou, then? — for conscience is to God what the hook is to the fisherman. Conscience, like God's hook, is in thy jaws to-day, and he hath but to draw in the line, and thou art in the consuming fire. Though conscience makes thee smart, justice shall be far sterner with thee than thy poor imperfect conscience. If thy heart condemn thee, God is greater than thy heart, and knoweth all things. Thy conscience telleth thee thou art wrong— O how wrong, then, must thou be!

     But man, dost thou not know thou art a stranger from thy God? Many of. you seldom think of him. You can spend days and weeks without a mention of his name, except, perhaps, in some trivial language, or in an oath. You cannot live without a friend, but you can live without your God. You eat, you drink, you are satisfied; the world is enough for you; its transient pleasures satisfy your spirit. If you saw God here, you would flee from him; you are an enemy to him. Oh! is this the right case for a creature to be in? Let the question come to thee— “Where art thou?” Must not that creature be in a very pitiable position who is afraid of his Creator? You were made to glorify him; you were made to rejoice in his presence, and to delight in his goodness; but it seems you love not the very food which was meant to sustain you. You must be sick— you must be sick indeed! “Where art thou?” Remember, the Almighty God is angry with thee. His commandments, like so many guns charged to the very muzzle, are all pointed against thee this morning; and it needs only the uplifted finger of the Divine one, and they shall soon destroy thee, and break thee in pieces. Would a man be comfortable with his neck upon the block, and the axe gleaming above his head? It is your case to-day. You are in the position of the courtier at the feast of Dionysius, with the sword over your head suspended by a single hair. Condemned already! “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.” Where art thou, man? O God, help the man to see where he is! Open his eyes; let the question startle him. Let him start in his sleep a little—ay, let him wake and discover where he is—obnoxious to they wrath, and the object of thy hot displeasure!

     “Where art thou?” Thy life is frail; nothing can be more weak, line is a cable compared with the thread of thy life. Now, I think that this “Where art thou?” He “If he Where A spider's ' Dreams are substantial ‘. masonry compared with the bubble structure of thy being. Thou art here and thou art gone. Thou sittest here to-day; ere another week is past thou mayest be howling in another world. Oh, where art thou man? Unpardoned, and yet a dying man! Condemned, yet going carelessly towards destruction! Covered with sin, yet speeding to thy Judge's dread tribunal! Lost here, yet hurrying on, each moment bearing thee on eagle's wings to the place where thou shalt be lost eternally! How hard it is to bring ourselves to know ourselves! In other matters if a man be a little sick he seeks his doctor, and would know his position; but here a man says, “Peace, peace: let well alone.” If we fear that our personal estates are at all in jeopardy we have anxious nights and toilsome days; but, oh! our souls— our poor, poor souls— we play with them as if they were worthless counters, or bits of platter, which a child might pick up in the streets and cast away! Sinner! sinner! sinner! is thy soul so poor a bauble that thou canst afford to lose it, because thou wilt not break thy sleep and stay thy pleasurable dreams! Oh, if a brother's heart can move thy heart, and if a brother's voice can wake thy sleeping eyes, I would say, “What aileth thee, O sleeper? Arise, and call upon thy God! Awake! why sleepest thou! Awake to answer the question, ‘Where art thou?’ –lost, ruined, and undone! O sinner where art thou?”

     II. Now, secondly, the question was meant to CONVINCE OF SIN, and so to lead to a confession. Had Adam's heart been in a right state, he would have made a full confession of his sinfulness. “Where art thou?” Let us hear the voice of God saying that to us, if to-day we are out of God and out of Christ. “Where art thou, Adam? I made thee in mine own image, I made thee a little lower than the angels: I made thee to have dominion over the works of my hands: I put all things under thy feet— the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the depths of the sea. I gave this whole garden of delights to be thy home. I honoured thee with my presence, I thought of thy welfare, and forestalled all thy desires. The moon did not hurt thee by night; the sun did not smite thee by day. I tempered the winds for thee; I clothed the trees with fruit for thy nourishment. I made all things minister to thy happiness. Where art thou? I asked of thee but that little thing that thou wouldest not touch one tree which I had reserved for myself. Where art thou? Art thou in the room of a thief, a rebel, a traitor? Hast thou sinned? O Adam, where art thou?”

     And now, sinner, hear me. “Where art thou?” To many of you the Lord might say, “I gave you a godly mother who wept over you in your childhood. I gave you a holy father who longed for your conversion. I gave you the gifts of Providence— you never wanted for a meal. I clothed your back. I put you in a comfortable position in life. I raised you up from a bed of sickness. I overlooked ten thousand follies. My mercies like a river have flown to you. When you opened your eyes in the morning, it was to look upon my goodness; and till the last moment of the night I was your helper, and drew the curtains about your defenceless head. I have covered thee with my feathers, under my wings hast thou trusted, and now where art thou? Hast thou not forgotten my commandments, abhorred my person, broken my laws, rejected my Son? Art thou not at this day a disbeliever, content to trust to thine own works, but not to take the finished righteousness of my beloved Son, the Saviour of the world? What hast thou done for Him who has done so much for thee? What art thou? Hast thou not been a cumber-ground— a tree that sucks the soil but bears no fruit — that drinks in the genial rain of heaven, but yields no grateful fruit? Where art thou? Art thou not to day in the camp of my enemy? Art thou not on Satan's side, defying me, and lifting up the puny arm of thy rebellion against the Lord that made thee, and that keepeth the breath in thy nostrils— in whose hand thy life is, and whose are all thy ways? Sinner, where an thou? After all God's goodness— still a sinner!”

     Read the question again thus, “Where art thou?” The serpent said thou shouldst be a god. Thou thoughtest to be made exceeding glorious. Is it so, Adam? is it so? Where is thy boasted knowledge? where the honors? where the vast attainments that rebellion would bring to thee? Instead of the clothing of angels, thou art naked; Instead of glory, thou hast shame; instead of preferment, thou hast disgrace. Adam, where art thou? And sinner, where art thou? Sin said to thee, I will give thee pleasure— thou hast had it; but what of the pain which followed the pleasure. Sin gave thee its cup full of mixed wine; but what of the red eyes and of the woe. Sin said to thee, “I will make thee great but what has it done for thee. Drunkard, what has it done for thee? Given you rags and poverty. Adulterer, fornicator, what has it done for thee? Filled thy flesh with leprosy, and thy soul with agony. Thief! cheat! what has it done for thee? Disgraced thee, and branded thee before the eyes of men. Sinner in secret! polite sinner! what has it done for thee? Soured thy sweets, and poisoned all thy joys. Where art thou— where art thou? In every case sin has been a liar; and without exception, rebellion, if it has not yet brought its due deserts will do so, and sinners shall be filled with their own ways.

     And then to add to the conviction, the Lord asks of Adam, “Where art thou,” as if he asked him, “How didst thou come there.” Adam, thou camest there of thyself. If thou hadst been upright Eve had not cast thee down. Eve, ’twas not the serpent with whom the main guilt must lie; hadst thou not given ear, he might have tempted long if thou hadst been deaf. And so to day God says to the sinner. “Where art thou?” Thou art where thou hast brought thyself. That thou hast sinned is thine own fault, and none else's but thine own. Oh, it is hard to make a sinner see that sin is his own property. It is the only thing we have. There is only one thing I we created, and that is sin, and that is our own. If I permit anything that is evil, I must confess it is a child that has sprung from my own bowels, it hath its origin in myself. If we talk of the fall, men will throw their sin on father Adam. They speak of the depravity of nature, and then they think they are to be excused, as if depravity of nature did not prove the man to be desperately bad, as if it were not saying that sin is essentially man's own thing, that he hath it in his very bones, and is his blood. If we be sinners there is no excuse for us whatever, and if we live and die so, the guilt shall lie at our own door, but nowhere else. “Adam, where art thou?” Thou art where thou hast wilfully put thyself, and thou remainest wilfully in the same desperate state of rebellion against God, and of alienation from him.

     I would God that something would not only arouse the sinner this morning, but work conviction in him. It is easier to make a man start in his sleep than to make him rise and burn the loathsome bed on which he slumbered, and this is what the sinner must do, and what he will do if God be at work with him. He will wake up and find himself lost; conviction will give him the consciousness that he has destroyed himself, and then he will hate the sins he loved before, flee from his false refuges, forsake his joys, and seek to find a lasting salvation where alone it can be found— in the blood of Christ.

     III. This brings me to the third way in which we may regard the question of the text. The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, “Where art thou?” We may regard this text as the VOICE OF GOD BEMOANING MAN'S LOST ESTATE.

     Some have even ventured to translate the Hebrew, “Alas for thee, alas for thee!” It is as if God uttered the words of the prophet, “How can I give thee up? how can I utterly destroy thee? how can I set thee as Admah! how shall I make thee as Zeboim? My repentings are kindled, my bowels are moved for thee. Where art thou my poor Adam? Thou didst talk with me, but thou hast now fled from me. Thou wast happy once, what art thou now? Naked, and poor, and miserable. Thou wast once in my image glorious, immortal, blessed, where art thou now, poor Adam? My image is marred in thee, thine own Father's face is taken away, and thou hast made thyself earthy, sensual, devilish. Where art thou now, poor Adam?” Oh, it is wonderful to think how the Lord felt for poor Adam. It is taken for granted by all theologians that God can neither feel nor suffer. There is no such thing in the Word of God. If it could be said that God could not do anything and everything we should say that he was not omnipotent, but he can do all things, and we have not a God that cannot be moved, but we have one who feels and who describes himself in human language as having a father's bowels, and all the tenderness of a mother's heart. Just as a father cries over a rebellious son, so does the eternal Father say, “Poor Adam, where art thou.”

     And now have I here this morning any soul on whom the former part of the text has had some effect? Do you feel yourself to be lost, and do you discern that this lostness is the result of your own wilful folly? Do you bemoan yourself? Ah, then, God bemoans you. He is looking down upon you and he is saying, “Ah, poor drunkard, why wilt thou cling to thy cups? Into what misery have they brought thee!” He is saying to you who are now weeping over sin, “Ah, poor child, what pain thou sufferest from thine own wilful folly!” A father's bowels move; he longs to clasp his Ephraim to his breast. Do not think, sinner, that God is stony -hearted. Thou hast a heart of stone, God has not. Do not think that he is slow to move: thou art slow to move— he is not; the hardness is in thyself. If thou art straitened anywhere, it is in thine own bowels, not in him. Soul, soul convinced of sin! God loves thee, and to prove how he loves thee, in the person of his Son he weeps over thee, and TO he cries, “O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things that make for thy peace; but now are they hid from thine eyes.” I hear him saying to thee, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!” I pray you, let this mournful wailing voice of the Eternal God come to your ear and move you to repentance! “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, but had rather that he would turn unto me and live.” Oh! does thy heart feel ready to burst because of thy sin and the misery into which it has brought thee? Say, poor sinner, “I will arise and go unto my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” He sees thee, sinner; when thou art yet a great way off, he sees thee; here are eyes of mercy! He runs; here are feet of mercy! He clasps thee; here are arms of mercy! He kisses thee; here are lips of mercy! He says, “Take off his rags;” here are words ' of mercy! He clothes thee; here are deeds of mercy! Wonders of mercy— all mercy! O did you know what a reception a God of mercy gives to sinners, you would not be long in going. As John Bunyan says, when the besieger hangs out the black flag, then those within the walls say they will fight it out ; but when he runs up the white flag, and tells them that if they will open the gates he will have mercy upon them, nay, he will give a charter to their city, then, saith he, they say, “ Fling open the gates,” and they come tumbling over the walls to him in the readiness of their hearts. Soul, let not Satan deceive thee by telling thee that God is hard, unkind, unwilling to forgive! Try him, try him! Just as thou art, — black, filthy, self-condemned; and if thou needest anything to make thee try him, hear again the Lord's plaintive cry, as it rings through the trees of Eden, “Adam, poor Adam, my own creature, where, where art thou?”

     IV. But now I must turn, lest time should fail us, to a fourth way in which no doubt this verse was intended. It is an arousing voice, a convincing voice, a bemoaning voice; but, in the fourth place, it is a SEEKING VOICE. “Adam, where art thou?” I am come to find thee, wherever thou mayest be. I will look for thee, till the eyes of my pity see thee, I will follow thee till the hand of my mercy reaches thee; and I will still hold thee till I bring thee back to myself, and reconcile thee to my heart.

     Again, if you have been able to follow me through the three parts of the discourse, I can speak confidently to you. If you have been aroused, if you have been convinced, if you have some longings toward God, then the Lord hath come forth to seek thee, and to seek thee this morning. What a thought it is, that when God comes forth to seek his chosen he knows where they are, and he never misses them; and though they may have wandered ever so far, yet it is not too far for him. If they had gone to the gates of hell, and the gates were half opened to receive them, the Lord would get them even there. If they had so sinned that they had given themselves up, and every Christian living had given them up too— if Satan had counted upon them, and had made ready to receive them, yet when God comes forth to seek them he will find them, and he will have them after all. You who are lost, perishing sinners, hear the voice of God, for it speaks to you. “Where art thou?” for I am come to seek thee. “Lord, I am in such a place that I cannot do anything for myself.” “Then I am come to seek thee and do all for thee.” “Lord, I am in such a place that the law threatens me and justice frowns upon me.” “I am come to answer the threatenings of the law, and to bear all the wrath of justice.” “But, Lord, I am in such a place that I cannot repent as I would.” “I am come to seek thee, and I am exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins.” “But, Lord, I cannot believe in thee, I cannot believe as I would.” “A bruised reed I will not break, and a smoking flax will I not quench; I am come to give thee faith.” “But, Lord, I am in such a state that my prayers can never be acceptable.” “I am come to pray for thee, and then to grant thee thy desires.” “But, Lord, thou dost not know what a wretch I am.” “Yes, I know thee. Though I asked thee the question, ‘Where art thou?’ it was that thou mightest know where thou art, for I knew well enough.” “But, Lord, I have been the chief of sinners; none can have so aggravated their guilt as I have.” “But where-ever thou mayest be I have come to save thee.” “But I am an outcast from society.” “But I am come to gather together the outcasts of Israel.” “Oh, but I have sinned beyond all hope.” “Yes, but I have come to give hope to hopeless sinners.” “Ay, but then I deserve to be lost.” “Yes, but I have come to magnify the law and make it honourable, and so to give thee thy deserts in the person of Christ, and then to give thee my mercy because of his merits.” There is not a sinner here conscious of his lost estate who can be in a position out of which he cannot be brought. I will conceive the worst of all the worst, the vilest of all the vile; we will bring up those who have taken high degrees in the devil's synagogue and become masters of iniquity; but still if with the tearful eye they look alone to the wounds of him who shed his blood for sinners, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.

     Oh! I cannot preach this morning as I would, nor can you perhaps hear as you would wish; but may the Lord speak where I cannot, and may he say unto some despairing sinner here, “Soul, my hour is come; I will pluck thee out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay, and this day, and at this very hour, I will set thy feet upon a rock, I will put a new song into thy mouth, and I will establish thy goings.” Blessed, blessed, be the name of the Most High, if such may be the case.

     V. And now, lastly, we feel sure that this text may be used, and must be used, in another sense. To those who reject the text, as a voice of arousing and conviction, to those who despise it as the voice of mercy bemoaning them, or as the voice of goodness seeking them, it comes in another way; it is the voice of JUSTICE SUMMONSING THEM. Adam had fled, but God must have him come to his bar. “Where art thou, Adam? Come hither, man, come hither; I must judge thee, sin cannot go unpunished. Come, and thy guilty spouse with thee. Come hither; I must put questions to thee; I must hear thy pleadings, and since they will be vain and void I must pronounce thy sentence.” For though there was much of pity in the question, there was something of severity too. “Adam, Adam, where art thou? Come thou hither to be judged.” To-day you hear not that cry; it is mercifully postponed. You shall hear it soon; you shall hear it for the first time, like mutterings of thunder when the storm begins; when sickness casts thee on thy bed, and death looks through his bony eyes upon thee, and touches thee with his ghastly hand, and saith, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Thou mayest put off the question to-day; thou wilt have to deal with it then, when God himself shall come into closer contact with thy nature, than he doth to-day, Then shall thy bones be as a jelly, and thy ribs shall quake, and thy very heart shall melt like wax in the midst of thy bowels. Thou shalt contend with the pains of sickness or disease; but there shall be a direr pain than these. Thou shalt have to look on death; but death shall not be the most terrible of all thy terrors, for thou shalt see behind death the judgment and the doom. Then thou wilt hear it, when the room is silent, and voices of wife and child are hushed; when only the clock is ticking, thou shalt hear the footfalls of God coming to thee in the eventide of thy life, and saying to thee, “Where art thou? Now thou shalt meet me. Gird up thy loins! No invitations of mercy for thee more; thy day of mercy is gone. No warnings from the minister again; now thou shalt meet me face to face.” “Where art thou?” Canst thou brag and boast now, when thy nerves have become loads for the hot feet of pain to travel on, and thy strength has gone and fled, and thou art as a candle ready to die out? Where now thine oaths? Where now thy merry-makings and thy jests? Where art thou now? You may toss and turn; but you will not be able to escape the question; you will try to look back to this life, but you will be compelled to look forward to the life or the death to come; and still will the Lord whisper into your ears, “Where art thou? Where art thou?” Then shall come the last struggle, when the strong man shall be bowed, when the bright and glittering eye shall be covered o'er with film, and the tongue shall cleave to the roof of the mouth, and the hand shall lie strengthless on the bed, and the feet shall no more be able to support the body ; when the pulse shall fail, and the clammy death-sweat shall stand upon the brow ; and in those last moments there will still be heard that awful voice, rising with the gathering storm till it reaches the full grandeur of the awful tempest— “Where art thou ? ” In the Jordan without God; nearing the grave without hope; dying, but no Christ to help thee; launching upon eternity, but no hope of eternal salvation. It is over; and the last pang has passed, and the thread is snapped that bound the spirit to the body, and you are gone into another world. But the question follows you— " Where art thou?” Thy spirit is now awake; it sleeps no more; it is rid of the dull flesh that kept it sullen, stolid, stupid, dead. Now it hears that voice, indeed, and it thrills through and through the spirit, for the soul is brought before its God. " Where art thou? where art thou?” cries the quickened conscience; and God answers it, “Depart, thou cursed one!” The spirit departs from God, not to hide itself among the trees of the garden, but to plunge itself into waves of agony. And now many years have passed, and the body, though the soul has been alive and has suffered, has been sleeping in the grave, and the worms have devoured it. But hark! the day of judgment, the day of thunder has arrived, shrill above all thunders sounds TO THE SINNER the awful trump; and after the trumpet comes the voice— “Awake, ye dead, and come to judgment!” Amidst that awful tumult is heard the cry, “Where art thou?" The angelic messenger has found out your body, and from the grave your body starts, from underneath the green sward. Up it leaps in answer to the question “Where art thou?” and to its horror, its ghastly spirit comes back; its soul, that long has suffered, returns into the resurrection body, and they twain, comrades in sin, are now companions in judgment. The cry rings forth once more, and that very ear shall hear it that now listens to me — “Where art thou?” Then comes the great white throne, and those very eyes shall see it that now gaze on me; and then comes the commencement of the dread assize— and that heart shall quail then which moves not now. Then shall come your own personal trial; and oh! sinner, sinner, it is not for me to describe your terror. I could not give even the faintest picture of that death-sound, and of the death of your immortal spirit while you hear it : “ I was an hungred and ye gave me no meat ; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink ; inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren ye did it not to me ; and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” “Oh, earth! earth! earth! hear the word of the Lord,” I pray each of you to hear it for yourselves. I have not talked to you of dreams. You know they are realities; and if you know it not now you shall ere long. I do beseech you by the blood of him that died for sinners— and what stronger argument can I use? — think of the question, “Where art thou?” May God show you where you are. Hear the bemoaning voice of God, as pityingly he weeps over you. Seek his face, for he seeks you; and then you need not dread to hear him say at the last, “Where art thou?” but you will be able to say, “Here am I, and the children thou hast given me. We have washed our robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and, Father, here we are, hoping to dwell in thy presence for ever and ever.” Oh, that I could plead with you as a man pleadeth for his life! Would that these lips of clay were lips of fire, and this tongue no more of flesh, but a live coal taken with the tongs from off the altar! Oh! for words that would burn their way into your souls! O sinner, sinner, why wilt thou die? Why wilt thou perish? Man, eternity is an awful thing, and an angry God is a dreadful thing, and to be judged and condemned, what tongue can tell the horror. Escape for thy life; look not behind thee; stay not in all the plain; escape to mount Calvary, lest thou be consumed. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ trust him with thy soul; trust him with it now, “and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Related Resources

God’s First Words to the First Sinner

October 6, 1861

God's First Words to the First Sinner   “The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” — Genesis 3:9.   IT will be interesting to the members of this Church to know that it was under a sermon delivered by Mr. William Wallin from this very text, that my honoured and venerable predecessor, Dr. …