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must spend eternal ages in wrestling with the most excruciating torments, and in crying out in the midst of the most dreadful flames, and under the most insupportable wrath.
On the other hand, the righteous shall ascend to heaven with their glorified bodies, in company with Christ, his angels, and all that host which descended with him; they shall ascend in the most joyful and triumphant manner, and shall enter with Christ into that glorious and blessed world, which had for the time been empty of its creature inhabitants. Christ having given his church that perfect beauty, and crowned it with that glory, honour, and happiness, which were stipulated in the covenant of redemption before the world was, and which he died to procure for them, and having made it a truly glorious church, every way complete; will present it before the Father, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Thus shall the saints be instated in everlasting glory, to dwell there with Christ, who shall feed them and lead them to living fountains of water, to the full enjoyment of God, and to an eternity of the most holy, glorious, and joyful employments.
All will be done in righteousness.
Christ will give to every man his due, according to a most righteous rule. Those who shall be condemned, will be most justly condemned; will be condemned to that punishment which they shall most justly deserve; and the justice of God in condemning them will be made most evident. Now the justice of God in punishing wicked men, and especially in the degree of their punishment, is often blasphemously called in question. But it will be made clear and apparent to all; their own consciences will tell them that the sentence is just, and all cavils will be put to silence.
So those that shall be justified, shall be most justly adjudged to eternal life. Although they also were great sinners, and deserved eternal death; yet it will not be against justice or the law, to justify them, they will be in Christ. But the acquitting of them will be but giving the reward merited by Christ's righteousness, Rom. iii. 26. That God may be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.
Christ will judge the world in righteousness, particularly as he will give to every one a due proportion either of reward or punishment, according to the various characters of those who shall be judged. The punishments shall be duly proportioned to the number and aggravations of the sins of the wicked; and the rewards of the righteous shall be duly proportioned to the VOL. VI.
number of their holy acts and affections, and also to the degree of virtue implied in them.-I would observe further,
1. That Christ cannot fail of being just in judging, through mistake. He cannot take some to be sincere and godly, who are not so, nor others to be hypocrites, who are really sincere. His eyes are as a flame of fire and he searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of the children of men. He can never err in determining what is justice in particular cases, as human judges often do. Nor can he be blinded by prejudice, as human judges are very liable to be. Deut. x. 17. He regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. It is impossible he should be deceived by the excuses, and false colours, and pleas of the wicked, as human judges very commonly are. It is equally impossible that he should err, in assigning to every one his proper proportion of reward or punishment, according to his wickedness or good works. His knowledge being infinite, will effectually guard him against all these, and other such errors.
2. He cannot fail of judging righteously through an unrighteous disposition; for he is infinitely just and holy in his nature. Deut. xxxii. 4. He is the rock, his work is perfect for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. It is not possible that an infinitely powerful, self-sufficient being should be under any temptation to injustice. Nor is it possible that an infinitely wise being, who knoweth all things, should not choose justice. For he who perfectly knows all things, perfectly knows how much more amiable justice is than injustice; and therefore must choose it.
Those things which will immediately follow the day of judgment.
1. After the sentence shall have been pronounced, and the saints shall have ascended with Christ into glory, this world will be dissolved by fire: the conflagration will immediately succeed the judgment. When an end shall have been put to the present state of mankind, this world, which was the place of their habitation during that state, will be destroyed, there being no further use for it. This earth which had been the stage upon which so many scenes had been acted, upon which there had been so many great and famous kingdoms and large cities; where there had been so many wars, so much trade and business carried on for so many ages; shall then be destroyed. These continents, these islands, these seas and rivers, these mountains and vallies, shall be seen no more at all: all shall be destroyed by devouring flames. This we are plainly taught in the word of God. 2 Pet. iii. 7. "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved un
to fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men. v. 10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall beburnt up. v. 12. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat."
2. Both the misery of the wicked and the happiness of the saints will be increased, beyond what shall be before the judgment. The misery of the wicked will be increased, as they will be tormented not only in their souls, but also in their bodies, which will be prepared both to receive and administer torment to their souls. There will, doubtless, then be the like connexion between soul and body, as there is now; and, therefore, the pains and torments of the one will affect the other. And why may we not suppose, that their torments will be increased as well as those of the devils? Concerning them, we are informed, (Jam. ii. 19,) that they believe there is one God, and tremble in the belief; expecting, no doubt, that he will inflict upon them, in due time, more severe torments than even those which they now suffer. We are also informed, that they are bound in chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and unto the judgment of the great day; (2 Pet. ii. 4. and Jude 6.) which implies, that their full punishment is not yet executed upon them, but that they are now reserved as prisoners in hell, to receive their just recompense on the day of judgment. Hence it was, that they thought Christ was come to torment them before the time. Matt. viii. 29. Thus the punishment, neither of wicked men, nor devils, will be complete, before the final judgment.
No more will the happiness of the saints be complete before that time. Therefore, we are, in the New Testament, so often encouraged with promises of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day when Christ shall come the second time. These things are spoken of as the great objects of the expectation and hope of Christians. A state of separation of soul and body is to men an unnatural state. Therefore, when the bodies of the saints shall be raised from the dead, and their souls shall be again united to them, as their state will be more natural, so, doubtless, it will be more happy. Their bodies will be glorious bodies, and prepared to administer as much to their happiness, as the bodies of the wicked will be to administer to their misery.
We may, with good reason, suppose the accession of happiness to the souls of the saints will be great, since the occasion is represented as the marriage of the church and the Lamb; Rev. xix. 7. The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. Their joy will then be increased,
because they will have new arguments of joy. The body of Christ will then be perfect, the church will be complete all the parts of it will have come into existence, which will not be the case before the end of the world: no parts of it will be under sin or affliction: all the members of it will be in a perfect state; and they shall all be together by themselves, none being mixed with ungodly men. Then the church will be as a bride, adorned for her husband, and, therefore, she will exceedingly rejoice.
Then, also, the Mediator will have fully accomplished his work. He will then have destroyed, and will triumph over, all his enemies. Then Christ will have fully obtained his reward, and fully accomplished the design which was in his heart from all eternity. For these reasons, Christ himself will greatly rejoice, and his members must needs proportionably rejoice with him. Then God will have obtained the end of all the great works, which he hath been doing from the beginning of the world. All the designs of God will be unfolded in their events; then his marvellous contrivance in his hidden, intricate, and inexplicable works, will appear, the ends being obtained. Then the works of God being perfected, the divine glory will more abundantly appear. These things will cause a great accession of happiness to the saints, who shall behold them. Then God will have fully glorified himself, his Son, and his elect; then he will see that all is very good, and will entirely rejoice in his own works. At the same time, the saints, also, viewing the works of God brought thus to perfection, will rejoice in the view, and receive from it a large accession of happiness.
Then God will make more abundant manifestations of his glory, and of the glory of his Son; then he will more plentifully pour out his spirit, and make answerable additions to the glory of the saints; and, by means of all these, will so increase the happiness of the saints, as shall be suitable to the commencement of the ultimate and most perfect state of things, and to such a joyful occasion, the completion of all things. In this glory and happiness, will the saints remain for ever and ever.
The uses to which this doctrine is applicable.
I. The first use proper to be made of this doctrine, is of instruction. Hence many of the mysteries of Divine Providence may be unfolded. There are many things in the dealings of God towards the children of men, which appear very mysterious, if we view them without having an eye to this last judg ment, which, yet, if we consider this judgment, have no difficulty in them. As,
1. That God suffers the wicked to live and prosper in the world. The infinitely holy and wise Creator and Governor of the world, must necessarily hate wickedness; yet we see many wicked men spreading themselves as a green bay-tree; they live with impunity; things seem to go well with them, and the world smiles upon them. Many who have not been fit to live, who have held God and religion in the greatest contempt, who have been open enemies to all that is good; who, by their wickedness, have been the pests of mankind; many cruel tyrants, whose barbarities have been such as would even fill one with horror to hear or read of them; yet have lived in great wealth and outward glory; have reigned over great and mighty kingdoms and empires, and have been honoured as a sort of earthly gods.
Now, it is very mysterious, that the holy and righteous Governor of the world, whose eye beholds all the children of men, should suffer it so to be, unless we look forward to the day of judgment; and then the mystery is unravelled. For, although God, for the present, keeps silence, and seems to let them alone, yet then he will give suitable manifestations of his displeasure against their wickedness; they shall then receive condign punishment. The saints under the Old Testament were much stumbled at these dispensations of Providence, as you may see in Job, ch. xxi. and Psal. Ixxiii. and Jer. ch. xii. The difficulty to them was so great, because, then, a future state, and a day of judgment, were not revealed with that clearness with which they are now.
2. God sometimes suffers some of the best of men to be in great affliction, poverty, and persecution. The wicked rule, while they are subject; the wicked are the head, and they are the tail; the wicked domineer, while they serve, and are oppressed, yea are trampled under their feet, as the mire of the streets. These things are very common, yet they seem to imply great confusion. When the wicked are exalted to power and authority, and the godly are oppressed by them, things are quite out of joint: Prov. xx. 26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. Sometimes, one wicked man makes many hundreds, yea thousands, of precious saints, a sacritice to his lust and cruelty, or to his enmity against virtue and the truth. and puts them to death for no other reason but that for which they are especially to be esteemed and commended.
Now, if we look no further than to the present state, these things appear strange and unaccountable. But we ought not to confine our views within such narrow limits. When God shall have put an end to the present state, these things shall all be brought to rights. Though God suffers things to be so for the present, yet they shall not proceed in this course alway; com