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THE END OF THE WICKED CONTEMPLATED BY THE RIGHT
EOUS; OR THE TORMENTS OF THE WICKED IN HELL NO OCCASION OF GRIEF TO THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN.
Rev. xviii. 20.
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and propheis,
for God hath avenged you on her.
In this chapter we have a very particular account of the fall of Babylon, or the anti-christian church, and of the vengeance of God executed upon her. Here it is proclaimed that
. Babylon the great is fallen, and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird ; that her sins had reached unto heaven, and that God had remembered her iniquity; that God gave commandment to reward her, as she had rewarded others, to double unto her double according to her works ; in the cup she had filled, to fill to her double, and how much she had glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow to
And it is declared, that these plagues are come upon her in one day, death, mourning, and famine; and that she should be utterly burnt with fire; because strong is the Lord who judgeth her.
These things have respect partly to the overthrow of the anti-christian church in this world, and partly to the vengeance of God upon her in the world to come. There is no necessity to suppose, that such extreme torments as are here mentioned will ever be executed upon Papists, or upon the anti-christian church in this world. There will indeed be a dreadful and
** The substance of two posthumous discourses, dated March, 1773.
visible overthrow of that idolatrous church in this world. But we are not to understand the plagues here mentioned as exclusive of the vengeance which God will execute on the wicked upholders and promoters of anti-christianism, and on the cruel anti-christian persecutors, in another world.
This is evident by ver. 3. of the next chapter, where, with reference to the same destruction of antichrist which is spoken of in this chapter, it is said, “her smoke rose up for ever and ever;" in which words the eternal punishment of antichrist is evidently spoken of. Antichrist is here represented as being cast into hell, and there remaining for ever after; he hath no place any where else but in hell. This is evident by ver. 20. of the next chapter, where, concerning the destruction of antichrist, it is said, “ And the beast was taken, and with him the false propbet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped bis image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."
Not but that the wicked anti-christians have in all ages gone to hell as they died, and not merely at the fall of antichrist; but then the wrath of God against antichrist, of which damnation is the fruit, will be made eminently visible here on earth, by many remarkable tokens. Then antichrist will be confined to hell, and will have no more place here on earth ; much after the same manner as the devil is said at the beginning of Christ's thousand years reign on earth, to be cast into the bottomless pit, as you may see in the beginning of the twentieth chapter. Not but that he had his place in the bottomless pit before ; be was cast down to hell when he fell at first: 2 Pet. ïi. 4. Cast them down lo hell, and deliver them into chains of darkness. But now, when he shall be suffered to deceive the nations no more, his kingdom will be confined to hell.
In this text is contained part of what John heard uttered upon
this occasion ; and in these words we may observe,
1. To whom this voice is directed, viz. to the holy prophets and apostles, and the rest of the inhabitants of the heavenly world. When God shall pour out bis wrath upon the antichristian church, it will be seen, and taken notice of by all the inhabitants of heaven, even by holy prophets and apostles. Neither will they see as unconcerned spectators.
2. What they are called upon by the voice to do, viz. to rejoice over Babylon now destroyed, and lying under the wrath of God. They are not directed to rejoice over her in prosperity but in flames, and beholding the smoke of her burning ascending up for ever and ever.
3. A reason given : For God hath avenged You ON HER; i. e. God hath executed just vengeance upon her, for shedding your blood, and cruelly persecuting you. For thus the matter is represented, that antichrist bad been guilty of shedding the blood of the holy prophets and apostles, as in chap. xvi. 6. For they have shed the blood of saints and of prophets. And in ver. 24. of this context, In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all them that were slain on the earth. Not that antichrist had literally shed the blood of the prophets and apostles ; but he had shed the blood of those who were their followers, who were of the same spirit, and of the same church, and same mystical body. The prophets and apostles in heaven are nearly related and united to the saints on earth ; they live, as it were, in true Christians in all ages. So that by slaying these, persecutors show that they would slay the prophets and apostles, if they could; and they indeed do it as much as in them lies
On the same account. Christ says of the Jews in his time, Luke xi. 50. “ That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; froin the blood of Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.". So Christ himself is said to have been crucified in the anti-christian church, chap. xi. 8. “ And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” So all the inhabitants of heaven, all the sainis from the beginning of the world, and the angels also, are called upon to rejoice over Babylon, because of God's vengeance upon her, wherein he avenges them; they all of them had in effect been injured and persecuted by antichrist. Indeed they are not called upon to rejoice in having their revenge glutted, but in secing justice executed, and in seeing the love and tenderness of God towards them, manifested in his severity towards their enemies.
When the saints in glory shall see the wrath of God executed on ungodly men, it will be no occasion of grief to them, but of rejoicing.
It is not only the sight of God's wrath executed on those wicked men who are of the anti-christian church, which will be occasion of rejoicing to the saints in glory ; but also the sight of the destruction of all God's enemies: whether they have been the followers of antichrist or not, that alters not the case, if they have been the enemies of God, and of Jesus Christ. All wicked men will at last be destroyed together, as being united in the same cause and interest, as being all of Satan's army. They will all stand together at the day of judgment, as being all of the same company.
And if we understand the text to have respect only to a temporal execution of God's wrath on bis enemies ; that will not alter the case. The thing they are called upon to rejoice at, is the execution of God's wrath upon his and their enemies. And if it be matter of rejoicing to them to see justice executed in part upon them, or to see the beginning of the execution of it in this world; for the same reason will they rejoice with greater joy, in beholding it fully executed. For the thing here mentioned as the foundation of their joy, is the cxecution of just vengeance: Rejoice, for God hath avenged you on her.
Prop. 1. The glorified saints will see the wrath of God executed upon ungodly men. This the scriptures plainly teach us, that the righteous and the wicked in the other world see each other's state. Thus the rich man in hell, and Lazarus and Abraham in heaven, are represented as seeing each other's opposite states, in the 16th chap. of Luke. The wicked in their misery will see the saints in the kingdom of heaven; Luke xiii. 28. 29. “ There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."
So the saints in glory will see the misery of the wicked under the wrath of God. Isa. Ixvi. 24. " And they shall go forth and look on the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.” And, Rev. xiv. 9. 10. If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same sball drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” The saints are not here mentioned, being included in Christ, as his members. The church is the fulness of Christ, and is called Christ, 1 Cor. xii. 12. So in the 19th chapter, ver. 2, 3. the smoke of Babylon's torment is represented as rising up for ever and ever, in the sight of the heavenly inhabitants.
At the day of judgment, the saints in glory at Christ's right hand, will see the wicked at the left hand in their amazement and horror; will hear the Judge pronounce sentence upon them, saying, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ;" and will see them go away into everlasting punishment. But the scripture seems to bold forth to us, that the saints will not only see the misery of the wicked at the day of judgment, but the fore-mentioned texts imply, that the state of the damned in bell will be in the view of the heavenly inhabitants ; that the two worlds of happiness and misery will be in view of each other. Though we know not by what means, nor after what manner it will be; yet the scriptures certainly lead us to think, that they will some way or other have a direct and immediate apprehension of each other's state. The saints in glory will see how the damned are tormented; they will see God's threatenings fulfilled, and his wrath executed upon them.
Prop. II. When they shall see it, it will be no occasion of grief to them.
The miseries of the damned in hell will be inconceivably great. When they shall come to hear the wrath of the Almighty poured out upon them without mixture, and executed upon them without pity or restraint, or any mitigation; it will doubtless cause anguish, and horror, and amazement vastly beyond all the sufferings and torments, that ever any man endured in this world; yea, beyond all extent of our words or thoughts. For God in executing wrath upon ungodly men will act like an Almighty God. The scripture calls this wrath, God's fury, and the fierceness of his wrath; and we are toid that this is to show God's wrath, and to make his power known; or to make known how dreadful bis wrath is, and how great his power.
The saints in glory will see this, and be far more sensible of it than now we can possibly be. They will be far more sensible how dreadful the wrath of God is, and will better understand how terrible the sufferings of the damned are ; yet this will be no occasion of grief to them. They will not be sorry for the damned; it will cause no uneasiness or dissatisfaction to them; but on the contrary, when they have this sight, it will excite them to joyful praises.—These two things are evidences of it:
1. That the seeing of the wrath of God executed upon the damned, should cause grief in the saints in glory, is inconsistent with that state of perfect happiness in which they are. There can no such thing as grief enter, to be an allay to the happiness and joy of that world of blessedness. Grief is an utter stranger in that world. God hath promised that he will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more sorrow. Rev. xxi. 4. and chap. vii. 17.
2. The saints in heaven possess all things as their own, and therefore all things contribute to their joy and happiness. The scriptures teach that the saints in glory inherit all things. This God said in John's hearing, when he had the vision on the New Jerusalem ; Rev. xxi. 7. And the scriptures teach us to understa d this absolutely of all the works of creation and providence. Cor. ii. 21, 22. “ All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours.” Here the apostle teaches, that all things in the world to come, or in the