Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers…
"Many have puzzled themselves," says John Newton, " about the origin of evil. I am content to observe that there is evil, and that there is a way of escape from it; and with that I begin and end." One of the most exquisite mechanisms of torture devised, by the Hohenstaufen family, during the height of their despotic control, was a cell which gradually shrunk in upon itself, the walls day by day contracting, till the prisoner was finally crushed in the pressure of their embrace. For a day or so he would perceive no alteration — at first he would doubt the evidence of his senses; but at last the fearful truth would burst upon him that day after day the dimensions of his cell became smaller, and that in its slow but certain contraction he would, if he remained, be finally destroyed. Suppose that a door opened to him, and a voice said: "Escape for your life — now is the time. To-morrow will be too late." Is it likely he would sit down and say, "I do not understand the principle of this complex piece of mechanism. I prefer investigating it, and will stay behind for the purpose"? And yet what does the man around whose heart sin is gradually winding itself closer and closer do but this when he rejects Christ's gospel? Human reason alone tells him that a heart swathed in the bandages of wrath, or pleasure, or passion, can never, until released, be fit for the peace and love of heaven. Experience tells him that the terrible thraldom is every day becoming closer and closer, so that soon he must be crushed in its folds. The gospel tells him, escape for thy life! And why, oh, reader, when thy only thought should be about such escape, wilt thou sit down and speculate upon the causes of thy imprisonment? — causes unto which, when thus confined, thou canst never penetrate. Fly through the open door, and in the omniscience of the next world thou wilt know why sin was permitted for time. Take heed lest, by remaining where thou art, thou findest that for the impenitent sin is the portion for eternity.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?