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Romans Series #12
Title: The Wrath of God
Text: Romans 1:18
Subject: The Revelation of God’s Wrath
Date: Sunday Morning — April 20, 2014
Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-6:2
I call your attention to four words found in Romans 1:18. Here are four alarming words, four words that ought to alarm you, four words that ought to terrify you if you are yet without Christ. — “The Wrath of God.” That is my subject. — The Wrath of God. I stand before you with a heavy, heavy burden on my heart, a crushing thought overwhelming my mind, weight of great care pressing upon my soul. — Every soul to whom I now preach will soon stand before the judgment-bar of God, and be sent either to heaven or hell. My soul, what an awesome thought! — “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men!” Oh, hear the Word of God and tremble: — “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven!” Every one of you has an undying soul, and if you die without Christ, you will perish forever in hell! So, even as I begin, I warn you to flee the wrath to come! I urge you to go to Christ as a penitent sinner, and cry for mercy.
“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power!’
“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” My dreadful subject is — The Wrath of God. I say this is a dreadful subject because it has to do with the eternal misery of the damned. It would please my flesh and yours if the subject of God’s inflexible, terrifying, and eternal wrath were not found in the Book of Inspiration. But there it stands – “The wrath of God is revealed!” Shall I refuse to preach it? Should I gloss over it lightly? Dare I fail to warn the souls of my hearers? No, if I would be true to God and true to your souls, I must deliver the burden of the Word of the Lord now pressing upon my soul. “The wrath of God is revealed!”
Witness of Creation
In this first chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul is showing us how that the wrath of God is revealed by nature. God’s power and Being is evidenced by the creation. So plainly does the creation testify to the Creator that those who deny him are willfully ignorant. — “Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools.” The Creator has set his seal upon everything in heaven and earth, so that his eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen; “so that they are without excuse.”
Witness of Conscience
But there is even a greater revelation of God in nature, a revelation that no honest man can deny. All who deny it are liars, deceiving their own selves. There is a revelation of God’s Being and of his moral character in every man’s conscience. There are some who cry aloud that they are atheists. They vehemently protest against all forms of religion. They strive after more and more ungodliness. But all the cries of their mouths are futile efforts to silence the voice of conscience, which warns them of the wrath to come. They hold down and suppress the truth of God in their consciences by crying aloud with their mouths, “No God! No God! No God!” Yes, the pretentious atheist is a hypocrite, for in his heart he knows that the wrath of God is revealed.
Witness of Scripture
It is this revelation of God’s wrath in nature that Paul is dealing with in the first chapter of Romans. But I want to take you through the Scriptures and show you that God’s wrath is revealed with terrifying clarity in the Book of Inspiration. One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which it emphasizes the reality and the terror of God’s wrath in both the Old and the New Testaments.
“A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there to his love and tenderness.” — A. W. Pink
I know that it is customary throughout the modern day church to play down this subject. Those who still believe in the wrath of God, and not all do, say very little about it. Perhaps they think little about it. To a generation that has unashamedly sold itself to the gods of greed, pride, sex, and self-will, the church mumbles about God’s kindness, but says virtually nothing about his judgment. How often during the past year did you hear a sermon on the wrath of God? How long has it been, I wonder, since a Christian spoke plainly on this subject on radio, or television, or in one of those half-column sermonettes that appear in the newspaper? And, if a man dared to do so, how long would it be before he would be asked to speak or to write again?
“The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians have by and large accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter.” — J. I. Packer
It is true, love, mercy, and grace are attributes of God. We rejoice that the God of heaven is longsuffering and patient, merciful and kind, good and gracious, loving and tender. He forgives sin, justifies the ungodly, and pardons the criminal. But, dear friends, it is equally true that the Almighty is just and righteous, by no means clearing the guilty. God is angry with the wicked every day. His fury, wrath, and indignation must be poured out upon the ungodly. As surely as God poured out his wrath upon his darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Substitute, when he was made sin, so he must and will pour out the vials of his wrath upon every sinner who dies without Christ. Hear what I say, the God of the Bible must punish sin. The Word of God labors the point that just as God is good to those who trust him, even so, he is terrible to those who do not.
Is the God of heaven and earth a God of wrath? Hear what he says in the Book he has written (Psalm 90:11; Isaiah 13:9, 11, 13; Jeremiah 10:10; Nahum 1:2-6).
Psalm 90:11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
Isaiah 13:11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
Nahum 1:2-6 (2) God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. (3) The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (4) He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. (5) The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. (6) Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
Yes, the God of the prophets is a God of wrath. But that is not all. The apostles of the New Testament constantly warned men and women of the certainty, the justice, and the eternality of God’s holy wrath(Romans 2:5; 5:9; 12:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Revelation 6:16; 16:19).
Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
The wrath of God is not an uncontrolled, passionate fit of anger. It is a necessary part of his moral perfection. Wrath is God’s judicial retribution for evil. A God who is perfect in purity, righteousness, justice, and truth must be angry with the wicked every day! He must punish sin!
Is the God of heaven a God of wrath? Behold the judgments of God visited upon the ungodly in history, and see. — Go, if you dare, to the gaping jaws of hell, listen to the screams of the damned, and ask those who are shut up in the prison of darkness.
· Go and ask Adam and Eve, as they are banished from the garden.
· Go, find Cain, wondering in the wilderness, and ask him.
· Go to burning Sodom and smoldering Gomorrah, and ask them.
· Go to the sons of Korah, falling into hell, and ask them.
· Go to the burning sons of Eli, and ask them.
· Go to the smoldering heaps of Nineveh, and ask her inhabitants.
· Go to Jerusalem, the beloved city, being trampled under the cruelties of Titus and the Roman armies, as her streets flowed with the blood of desolation, and ask them.
· Descend, if you dare, into the pits of the damned, and inquire of Pharaoh, Judas, Lucifer, and the fallen angels, if God is a God of wrath.
Oh, I hope that the words of Scripture and the remembrance of the damned have already begun to make your ears tingle and your heart quake in the fear of God’s wrath, so that even now, you must cry out for mercy. I speak not merely to frighten you, but to warn you, and to press upon you the urgency and necessity of fleeing to Christ, and suing for mercy at the foot of the cross.
Before the trumpet sounds,
Before God wakes the dead,
O sinner, hear the Gospel’s sound,
Since Christ for sinners bled. —
God’s just to pardon sin,
And promises to save
All who believe on Jesus Christ,
The darling Son He gave!
O sinner, seek His grace,
Whose wrath you cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of His cross
And find salvation there!
Proposition: This is the thing I want you to know: – Hell is the eternal portion of all who perish without Christ. Hell is the place where the fierceness and terror of God’s awful wrath shall be eternally poured out upon sinners who will not bow to Christ.
Divisions: I want to show you four things from the Word of God about the wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
1. There is a place of wrath reserved for God’s enemies.
2. All men by nature are sinners under the wrath of God.
3. God’s righteousness and glory require him to punish the ungodly eternally.
4. God is willing to show mercy to perishing sinners for Christ’s sake.
Place of Wrath
The first thing I want you to see is this — There is a place of wrath reserved for God’s enemies. Hell is a real place, created by God for the eternal punishment of all his enemies. There is a day coming when all the wicked shall be cast into hell. Painful as the subject of hell is, it is one about which I dare not, I cannot, I must not be silent. Who would desire to speak of hell-fire, if God had not spoken of it? But, since God has spoken of it so plainly, does his servant dare hold his tongue?
Though hell is spoken of often in the Scriptures, it will be sufficient for me to show you that Jesus Christ, the God-man, plainly asserted the reality of this dreadful place. — “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). — “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how shall ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). — “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). — “If thy hand offend thee cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-44).
Hell is described in a number of ways in the Bible. When the Scriptures tell us who Christ is and what he is, they frequently use language which is obviously representative. Christ is called the Good Shepherd, the Door, the Rock, the Rose of Sharon, and the Bread and Water of Life. The same metaphorical way of speaking is employed to describe heaven as a city which has foundations, walls of jasper, gates of pearl, and streets of gold. No one name would describe it, nor can all of them. Yet, these things represent heaven to us. Even so, when God speaks of hell, he calls it a furnace of fire, a bottomless pit, and perdition. One of the names of hell will not do; we must take them all together to know something of its horror.
Hell is represented by fire. — What can be more excruciatingly painful than fire? Yet, hell is as a furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42, 50). It is a lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10, 15; 21:8). Brimstone enrages and strengthens fire.
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?” (Isaiah 33:14). — It is the nature of fire to consume; so it is with the fire of hell. But it will never annihilate the damned. Oh! It is a fire that shall never be quenched. Even the burning volcanoes will cease to burn, and the sun that now shines so brilliantly will fade away, and that fire which shall destroy the world will burn out; but this fire will never diminish.
Hell is a place of blackness and darkness forever (Jude 13). — It is the place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). Those who are cast into hell are separated and shut out from the kingdom of light, the saints of light, and the God of light.
Hell is a place where the worm dieth not (Mark 9:44, 46, 48). — The conscience of man is that worm that shall eternally eat away at his being. What will be the torment of an awakened, but guilty conscience gnawing upon your soul? This will be the perpetual sting of conscience. Guilt and the sense of Divine wrath will terrify your soul; but your corruption of heart will only grow worse, and so your pain of conscience will only increase.
Hell is the second death (Revelation 21:8). — This is the meaning of God’s sentence upon Adam. — “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” — Have you ever seen the ungodly die, trying to resist death? I have seen dying sinners clinch their teeth, clasp their sheets, and gasp for every breath. How terrible it is to see men try in vain to resist death! But what shall it be to behold men trying to resist the second death! Hell has begun, the frown of God is fixed, the wrath of God is poured out, and the sinner sinks into the black hole of eternal death; but it is a death that will never die!
Hell is the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1). — O sinner, you are already sinking down! May it please God to stretch out the omnipotent arm of his grace and rescue you. Otherwise, you must sink eternally.
Hell is the everlasting prison of the damned (1 Peter 3:19). — O perishing sinner, if ever you are shut up in this prison, you will never come out until you have paid the uttermost farthing; and that you cannot do! This prison is shut in by four bars on every side.
· God’s law will not allow you to escape.
· God’s holiness will not allow you to escape.
· God’s justice will not allow you to escape.
· God’s righteousness will not allow you to escape.
But I have only begun to describe hell. — Hell is a place of unutterable woe and suffering. In hell men will be torn in pieces, as a lion tears his prey. They will be cut asunder, like Agag was hewn to pieces by Samuel. They will be slaughtered, like helpless animals. They will drown in perdition. What pain is expressed by the screeches of the damned! There will be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, because of the grief, malice, and envy of the damned.
In hell you will suffer the loss of everything good.
· You will be banished from the presence of God.
· You will be banished from Christ.
· You will be banished from the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit.
· You will be banished from heaven.
· You will be banished from hope.
In hell you will be punished both in body and soul.
· As your body was the servant of sin, so it must be the object of wrath.
· Your soul will forever burn under a sense of God’s wrath.
Still, I am not able to describe the woe of hell. — There is no end, no annihilation from the anguish of hell. Some people think that though they are not saved, they will not suffer. They think they will be annihilated in the grave; but that is a deceiving lie of Satan.
· The cries of the damned prove that it is a lie. The rich man cried, “Have mercy upon me…for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).
· The different degrees of suffering assure us that men will have existence in hell after the grave.
· The fate of Judas tells us that there is no annihilation. — “Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that men if he had not been born!” (Matthew 16:24)
Listen to me, I tell you, if you die Christless, you will wish you had never been born. It is better never to have had any being than to be in hell. There are millions today who are in hell cursing the day of their birth, cursing the father who sired them and mother who brought them forth into the world.
Hell is eternal. — If there should ever be a time when the flame that torments your body and soul in hell burns out, then the Christ of God shall be a liar; for he says, it shall not be quenched.
· Your sin is an offense against the infinite God, and it demands an infinite punishment, which you cannot pay to all eternity.
· As God lives forever, he will punish your sins forever. His anger will never cease.
Hell is a subject which must be preached. — I know that the moment a preacher begins to talk about hell and the wrath of God, he is ridiculed as “a hell-fire and damnation preacher.” But, as I am God’s servant, I must warn you of the wrath to come. I cannot forget the words of a dying man to John Newton. — “Sir, you often told me of Christ and salvation: why did you not oftener remind me of hell and danger?” Why must this awful subject be preached?
I must preach it because it is true.
· Hell is real and sure.
· Hell will have its inhabitants.
· Hell will be an intense and unutterable woe.
· Hell is eternal.
I must warn you of hell because I care for your souls. — Who was ever so loving as Christ? He lovingly wept over Jerusalem. – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Yet, in the same breath, he said, “How shall ye escape the damnation of hell?”
They do not care for your soul who do not warn you, poor, hell-deserving sinners, of the wrath to come.
I must warn you plainly of hell and God’s wrath because I must be pure from the blood of all men.
Second, I have to tell you that — All by nature are sinners under the wrath of God. — The plain, sad fact is that you are going to hell. There is nothing you have to do to qualify for this awful judgment. You are condemned already. — “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:18, 36). My soul, there is but a step between you and hell! There is nothing that keeps wicked men out of hell for one moment, but the sovereign pleasure of God. — “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castest them down into destruction. How are they brought down into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors” (Psalm 73:18-19). You are at this very moment in danger of hell fire.
You deserve to go to hell. — Justice calls aloud for your infinite punishment. — “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground.” The sword of justice is every moment brandished over your head. It is God’s mercy alone which holds back the sword of justice for a moment.
· You are a sinner.
· You are a rebel against God.
· Your heart is enmity against God.
· You despise God’s law.
· You hate God’s grace.
· You hate God’s Son.
· You reject God’s righteousness.
You are already under the sentence of condemnation. — You know it is so. Your conscience tells you it is. That very same wrath which the wretches in hell are now experiencing abides upon you.
The devil is ready to receive your soul. — Hell’s mouth is opened wide, waiting for you to take another breath. Then she shall have you.
It is most likely that God’s eternal wrath will be suddenly poured out, without warning. — You think that you are young, healthy, and strong. But how many young, healthy, and strong men have fallen into hell. —“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Proverbs 29:1)
· The hour of your death is marked.
· There is nothing you can do that will preserve your soul for a moment from the terror of God’s wrath.
· God is under no obligation to keep you out of hell.
How miserable, how lamentable, how sorrowful is your Christless soul. You are hanging on the brink of destruction, without hope, without promise, without God, without Christ, without strength. O helpless sinner, what shall you do when God shoots the arrows of his wrath into your soul?
Third, God’s righteousness and glory require him to punish the ungodly eternally (Psalm 11:5-7).
Psalm 11:5-7 (5) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. (7) For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
“God is love.” — How we rejoice to know it! He has no pleasure, no satisfaction, in the death of the wicked. — “He delighteth in mercy!” Will he, can he send men to hell? Yes, he must. Why? — “Because the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” I am going to be brief on this point. But I hope it will be written upon your hearts. — The righteous character of God requires the eternal punishment of the ungodly. God sacrificed his darling Son to save sinners like you and me; but God will not and cannot part with his character to save you. He will not sacrifice his righteousness!
As long as God is righteous the ungodly must suffer in hell. — I repeat, God parted with his Son in order to save sinners; but he cannot part with his righteousness. He cannot part with his moral government. If God did not punish sin eternally, he would have to call good evil and evil good.
God’s glory also demands the eternal damnation of the ungodly. — “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Romans 9:22). Here the apostle gives us two reasons why the ungodly are allowed to live upon the earth, perish in their sins, and made to suffer eternally in hell.
1. God is willing to show his wrath.
· God showed his wrath in the overthrow of Satan.
· God showed his wrath in the flood.
· God showed his wrath at Calvary.
· God will yet show his wrath.
2. Another reason why some are left to perish is that God might make his power known. There is no lack of power in God to cast the ungodly into hell. Who can abide the fierceness of his anger?
· Resist as you might, God will cast you into hell!
· In power God will sustain your soul in hell to endure his wrath. He will destroy your well-being, but not your being. He will see to it that you live while you die eternally.
Willing to Save
In the last place, I want you to see, O may God help you to see, that — God is willing to be merciful to perishing sinners for Christ’s sake. He who is God is God ready and willing to save poor sinners like you and me!
Hell is a real place of eternal torment. God has reserved the fierceness of his anger for the ungodly. You are now under the wrath of God. And you deserve to go to hell. Surely, “The wrath of God is revealed.” Is the sinner, then, without hope? Must you die? Will God refuse to be gracious? Will he withhold his mercy? Is there a feels his sin and the awful terror of God’s wrath? Oh, I hope there is. I have good news for you. God is willing to be merciful to sinners for Christ’s sake. — “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
God is willing to be gracious. — Surely you can see this in his own words, “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the Lord God: and not that he return from his ways and live? — I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves and live ye. — As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked should turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11)
· Would God have sent his prophets and apostles to warn you of his judgments, if he were not willing to be merciful?
· Would God have sent his Son to die in the place of sinners, if he were not willing to be gracious?
· Would God urge you to seek salvation, if he were not willing to save?
· Would God have sent me to preach to you this day, if he were not willing to forgive?
· Would God have brought you here to this house of worship, if he were not willing to pardon?
God will save sinners for precisely the same reason that he damns them. — “The righteous God loveth righteousness.” — “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God, speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1-2). (1 John 1:9; Romans 3:23-26).
Romans 3:23-26 (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In righteousness, God cannot send a believing sinner to hell for whom Christ died. Our Surety has paid the price of our sins, which we could never pay. He has exhausted the wrath of God and the curse of the law in our place.
God is willing to forgive sinners by the blood of Christ for his own glory. — “That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us whom he hath called” (Romans 9:23-24).
· In forgiving the sins of his people God’s glorious sovereignty is brilliantly displayed.
· In forgiving his people the glorious justice of God is brilliantly displayed.
· In forgiving sinners the glory of God’s love is brilliantly displayed.
Child of God, there is only one reason why you and I are not in hell. — It is this, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
· He loved us.
· He redeemed us.
· He chose us.
· He called us.
· He saved us.
· He preserves us.
All men will not be saved. Some are going to hell.
· Every one of you will glorify God.
· God’s chief purpose in the creation is to glorify himself.
· God is longsuffering to sinners upon the earth.
· The destruction of the wicked under the wrath of God will cause no pain, no sorrow, no grief to the redeemed.
· Sinner, there is one thing you can do. You can sue for mercy. There is one thing you must do — Believe on Christ.
· How will it be for you in the day of God’s wrath? — Will Christ be you adversary? — Will Christ by your advocate?
Illustration: Rowland Hill’s Dream