Scripture Verse

The vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 7


Johann Rist

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


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.