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to fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men. y. 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 io 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
A 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. 1. 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 ihem, and the world smiles upon them. Many who have not been fit to live, who have held God and religiou 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 till 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 be. fore the wicked, is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. Sometimes, one wicked man makes many hundreds, yea thou. sands, of precious saints, a sacrifice 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; comparatively speaking, the present state of things is but for a mo. ment. When all shall be settled and fixed by a divine judgment, the righteous shall be exalted, honoured, and rewarded, and the wicked shall be depressed, and put under their feet. However the wicked vow prevail against the righteous, yet the righteous shall, at last, have the ascendant, shall come off conquerors, and shall see the just vengeance of God executed upon those who now hate and persecute them.
3. It is another mystery of providence, that God suffers so much public injustice to take place in the world. Tbere are not only private wrongs, which in this state pass unsettled, but many public wrongs, wrongs done by men acting in a public character, and wrongs which affect nations, kingdoms, and other public bodies of men. Many suffer by men in public offices, from whom there is no refuge, from whose decisions there is no appeal. Now it seems a mystery, that these things are tolerated, when he that is rightfully the Supreme Judge and Governor of the world is perfectly just; but, at the final judgment, all these wrongs shall be adjusted, as well as those of a more private nature.
Jl. Our second use of this subject shall be to apply it to the awakening of sinners. You that have not the fear of God before your eyes, that are not afraid to sin against him, consider seriously what you have heard concerning the day of judgment. Although these things be now future and unseen, yet they are real and certain. If you now be left to yourselves, if God keep silence, and judgment be not speedily executed, it is not because God is regardless how you live, and how you behare yourselves. Now indeed God is invisible to you, and his wrath is invisible; but at the day of judgınent, you yourselves shall see him with your bodily eyes : you shall not then be able to keep out of his sight, or to avoid seeing bim: Rev. i. 7. “Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." You shall see him coming in the clouds of heaven; your ears shall hear the last trumpet, that dreadful sound, the voice of the archangel ; your eyes shall see your judge sitting on the throne, they shall see those manifestations of wrath which there will be in his countenance; your ears shall hear him pronounce the sentence.
Seriously consider, if you live in the ways of sin, and appear at that day with the guilt of it upon you, how you will be able to endure the sight or the hearing of these things, and whether horror and amazement will not be likely to seize you, when you shall see the judge descending, and hear the trump of God. What account will you be able to give, when it shall be inquired of you, why you led such a sinful wicked life? What will you be able to say for yourselves, when it shall be asked, why you neglected such and such particular duties, as the duty of secret prayer, for instance? or why you have habitually practised such and such particular sins or lusts? Although you be so careless of your conduct and manner of life, make so light of sin, and proceed in it so freely, with little or no dread or remorse ; yet you must give an account of every sin that you commit, of every idle word that you speak, and of every sinful thought of your hearts. Every time you deviate from the rules of justice, of temperance, or of charity ; every tiine you indulge any lust, whether secretly or openly, you must give an account of it: it will never be forgotten, it stands written in that book which will be opened on that day.
Consider the rule you will be judged by. It is the perfect rule of the divine law, which is exceeding strict, and exceeding broad. And how will you ever be able to answer the demands of this law !-Consider also,
1. That the judge will be your supreme judge. You will have no opportunity to appeal from his decision. This is often the case in this world ; when we are dissatisfied with the decisions of a judge, we often may appeal to a higher, a more know. ing, or a more just judicatory. But no such appeal can be made from our Divine Judge ; no such indulgence will be allowed : or if it were allowed, i here is no superior judge to whom the appeal should be made. By his decision, therefore, you must abide.
2. The judge will be omnipotent. Were he a mere man, like yourselves, however he might judge and determine, you might resist, and by the help of others, if not by your own strength, prevent or elude the execution of the judgment. But the judge being omnipotent, this is utterly impossible. In vain is all resistance, either by yourselves, or by whatever help you can obtain : “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished,” Prov. xi. 21. As well might you “set the briers and thorns in battle against God.” Isa. xxvii. 4.
3. The judge will be inexorable. Human judges may be prevailed upon to reverse their sentence, or at least to remit something of its severity. But in vain will be all your entreaties,
, all your cries and tears to this effect, with the great Judge of the world. Now indeed he inclines bis ear, and is ready to hear the prayers, cries, and entreaties of all mankind; but then the day of grace will be past, and the door of mercy be shut: then although ye spread forth your hands, yet the judge will hide his eyes from you ; yea, though ye make many prayers, he will not hear : Isa. i. 15. Then the judge will deal in fury: his eye shall not spare, neither will he have pity: and though ye cry in his ears with a loud voice, yet will be not hear you :
Ezek. viii. 18. And you will find no place of repentance in God, though ye seek it carefully with tears.