Scripture Verse

The vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 7


Johann Rist (1607–1667)

Words: Jo­hann Rist, Himm­lische Lied­er (Lü­ne­burg, Ger­ma­ny: 1642), page 51 (O Ewig­keit, du Don­ner­wort). Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Jo­hann C. Ja­co­bi, Psal­mo­dia Ger­ma­ni­ca (Lon­don: J. Young, 1722), pag­es 205–08.

Music: Pra­ha Jo­han Schop, har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach (🔊 pdf nwc).

Johann S. Bach (1685–1750)


Eternity! Tre­men­dous word,
Home-strik­ing point, heart-pierc­ing sword,
Beginning with­out end­ing!
Eternity! with­out a shore,
Where ev­er fie­ry bil­lows roar,
What is thy sight por­tend­ing?
One glimpse of thine un­fathomed deep
Would rouse a wretch from sin­ful sleep.

What pain was ev­er thought so great,
That must not with the time abate,
And lose its ut­most ri­gor?
Eternity does ne­ver cease,
Admits no man­ner of re­lease,
But keeps its con­stant vi­gor:
Or, as our Sav­ior’s words ex­press,
Eternity has not re­dress.

Eternity! how long, how long,
Thou seiz­est sens­es, heart and tongue
With pa­nic, fear and ter­ror!
When I re­volve thy dread­ful chains
In that abyss of end­less pains,
I’m ov­er­whelmed with hor­ror.
What’s in this life of mi­se­ry
So fright­ful as eter­ni­ty?

Should Hell en­dure as ma­ny years,
As ma­ny men this world of tears
Has seen from the cre­ation,
As ma­ny stars adorn the sky,
As ma­ny leaves the woods sup­ply,
You’d hope for its ces­sa­tion.
This sum of ag­es would but be
One mo­ment to Eter­ni­ty.

But hav­ing spent in end­less fears
So many thou­sand, thou­sand years,
Thy scene is still be­gin­ning;
When thou hast suf­fered all these times
The just re­ward of will­ful crimes,
Thy thread ne’er ceas­es spin­ning.
Th’eter­nal now, who can un­fold?
’Tis ev­er new, but ne­ver old.

O Lord, how is thy sen­tence just
In leav­ing man, that re­bel-dust,
To his de­served dam­na­tion!
Short will­ful sins com­mit­ted here
With long re­morse are pun­ished there.
O woe be­yond re­la­tion!
Weigh this, thou hard­ened heart and face
Thy time is short, death comes apace.

Hast thou yet sense? Avoid the snare;
Thy plea­sures fleet­ing moments are,
That die as fast as tast­ed;
These, at the ha­zard of thy soul,
Dost thou pur­sue with­out con­trol,
And seest thy min­utes wasted?
Thou sense­less wretch, thou match­less fool,
Thou laugh’st and art the de­vil’s tool.

As long as God eter­nal reigns,
And His al­migh­ty sway re­tains,
Hell-torment will be last­ing;
They shall be plagued with cold and heat,
Thirst, hun­ger, fire shall be their meat,
Their worm is ne­ver wast­ing;
And this un­eq­ualled mi­se­ry
Won’t end till God shall cease to be.

Awake and rise from sin­ful sleep:
Bethink thy self, thou stray­ing sheep:
Return by true re­pent­ance:
Arise, thy wick­ed ways amend;
The glass of life runs to its end;
Then shiver at thy sen­tence;
Perhaps with­in few min­utes breath
Thou’rt snatched away by sud­den death.

Let nei­ther world­ly gain nor lust,
Ambition, pride, nor gold­en dust
Longer en­slave thy pas­sions;
Look how the car­nal le­thar­gy
O’erspreads the great ma­jor­ity,
Who sport with all temp­ta­tions;
Above all things keep in thy sight
The fore­named long eter­nal night.

Most re­pro­bate of all man­kind,
Bereft of sense, hard-heart­ed, blind,
Why dost thou love the crea­ture?
Shall that eter­nal gulf of Hell,
Where mill­ions of tor­ment­ors dwell,
Ne’er shock thy sin­ful na­ture?
Can then no tongue, no el­oquence
Persuade thee to a bet­ter sense?

Eternity! Tre­men­dous word,
Home-strik­ing point, heart-pierc­ing sword,
Beginning with­out end­ing!
Eternity with­out a shore!
Where ever fie­ry bil­lows roar,
What is thy sight por­tend­ing?
Lord Je­su, when it pleas­es Thee,
Bring me to blest Eter­ni­ty.