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and even they who have denied him, shall find, that God is supreme Lord of them, and of the whole world?
2. The end of judgment will be more fully answered by a public and general, than only by a particular and private judgment. The end for which there is any judgment at all is to display and glorify the righteousness of God; which end is more fully accomplished by calling men to an account, bringing their actions to the trial, and determining their state according to them, the whole world, both angels and men, being present to behold, than if the same things should be done in a more private way. At the day of judgment there will be the most glorious display of the justice of God that ever was made. Then God will appear to be entirely righteous towards every one ; the justice of all his moral government will on that day be at once discovered. Then all objections will be removed; the conscience of every man shall be satisfied; the blasphemies of the ungodly will be for ever put to silence, and argument will be given for the saints and angels to praise God for ever : Rev. xix. 1, 2. And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia ; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power be to the Lord our God : for true and righteous are his judgments.
3. It is very agreeable to reason, that the irregularities which are so open and manifest in the world, should, when the world comes to an end, be publicly rectified by the supreme governor. The infinitely wise God, who made this world to be an habitation for men, and placed mankind to dwell here, and hath appointed man his end and work, must take care of the order and good government of the world, which he hath thos made. He is not regardless how things proceed here on earth : it would be a reproach to his wisdom, and to the perfect rectitude of his nature, to suppose so. This world is a world of confusion; it hath been filled with irregularity and confusion ever since the fall; and the irregularities of it are not only private, relating to the actions of particular persons; but states, kingdoms, nations, churches, cities, and all societies of men in all ages, liave been full of public irregularities. The affairs of the world, so far as they are in the hands of men, are carried on in the most irregular and confused manner.
Though justice sometimes takes place, yet how often do injustice, cruelty, and oppression prevail! How often are the righteous condemned, and the wicked acquitted and rewarded! How common is it for the virtuous and pious to be depressed, and the wicked to be advanced! How many thousands of the
best men have suffered intolerable cruelties, merely for their virtue and piety, and in this world have had no help, no refuge to fly to! The world is very much ruled by the pride, covetousness, and passions of men. Solomon takes much notice of such like irregularities in the present state, (in his book of Ecclesiastes,) whereby he shows the vanity of the world.
Now, how reasonable is it to suppose, that God, when he shall come and put an end to the present state of mankind, will in an open, public manner, the whole world being present, rectify all these disorders! and that he will bring all things to a, trial by a general judgment, in order that those who have been oppressed may be delivered; that the righteous cause may be pleaded and vindicated, and wickedness, which has been approved, honoured, and rewarded, may receive its due disgrace
and punishment; that the proceedings of kings and earthly judges may be inquired into by him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire; and that the public actions of men may be publicly examined and recompensed according to their desert! How agreeable is it to divine wisdom thus to order things, and how worthy of the supreme governor of the world!
4. By a public and general judgment, God more fully accomplishes the reward he designs for the godly, and the punishinent he designs for the wicked. One part of the reward which God intends for his saints, is the honour which he intends to bestow upon them. He will honour them in the most public and open manner, before the angels, before all mankind, and before them that bated them. And it is most suitable that it should be so: it is suitable that those holy, humble souls, that have been bated by wicked men, have been cruelly treated and put to shame by them, and who have been haughtily domineered over, should be openly acquitted, commended, and crowned, before all the world.
So one part of the punishment of the ungodly will be the open shame and disgrace which they shall suffer. Although many of them have proudly lifted up their heads in this world, have had a very high thought of themselves, and have obtained outward honour among men; yet God will put them to open shame, by showing all their wickedness and moral filthiness before the whole assembly of angels and men; by manifesting his abhorrence of them, in placing them upon his left hand, among devils and foul spirits; and by turning them away into the most loathsome, as well as most dreadful pit of hell, to dwell there for ever.- Which ends may be much more fully accomplished in a general, than in a particular judgment.
The world will be judged by Jesus Christ. The person by whom God will judge the world, is Jesus Christ, God-man. The second person in the Trinity, that same person of whoin we read in our Bibles, who was born of the Virgin Mary, lived in Galilee and Judea, and was at last erucified without the gates of Jerusalem, will come to judge the world both in bis divine and human nature, in the same human body that was crucified, and rose again, and ascended up into heaven: Acts i. 11. This same Jesus that is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven. It will be his human nature which will then be seen by the bodily eyes of men. However, bis divine nature, which is united to the human, will then also be present: and it will be by the wisdom of that divine nature that Christ will see and judge.
Here naturally arises an enquiry, Why is Christ appointed to judge the world rather than the Father or the Holy Ghost? We cannot pretend to know all the reasons of the divine dispensations. God is not obliged to give us an account of them. But so much may we learn by divine revelation, as to discover marvellous wisdom in what he determines and orders with res. pect to this matter. We learn,
1. That God seeth fit, that he who is in the human nature, should be the judge of those who are of the human nature: Jolm v. 27. And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Seeing there is one of the persons of the Trinity united to the human nature, God chuses, in all his transactions with mankind, to transact by him. He did so of old, in his discoveries of himself to the patriarchs, in giving the law, in leading the children of Israel through the wil. derness, and in the manifestations he made of himself in the tabernacle and temple: when, although Christ was not actually incarnate, yet he was so in design, it was ordained and agreed in the covenant of redemption, that he should become incarnate. And since the incarnation of Christ, God governs both the church and the world by Christ. So he will also at the end judge the world by him. All men shall be judged by God, and yet at the same time by one invested with their own nature.
God seeth fit, that those who have bodies, as all mankind will have at the day of judgment, should see their judge with
their bodily eyes, and hear him with their bodily ears. If one of the other persons of the Trinity had been appointed to be judge, there must have been some extraordinary outward appearance made on purpose to be a token of the divine presence, as it was of old, before Christ was incarnate. But now there is no necessity of that: now one of the persons of the Trinity is actually incarnate, so that God by him may appear to bodily eyes without any miraculous visionary appearance.
2. Christ hath this honour of being the judge of the world given him, as a suitable reward for his sufferings. This is a part of Christ's exaltation. The exaltation of Christ is given him in reward for bis humiliation and sufferings. This was stipulated in the covenant of redemption; and we are expressly told, it was given him in reward for his sufferings, Phil. ii. 8–12. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name : that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God seeth meet, that he who appeared in such a low estate amongst mankind, without form or comeliness, having his divine glory vailed, should appear amongst men a second time, in his own proper majesty and glory, without a vail; to the end that those who saw him here at the first, as a poor, frail man, not having where to lay his head, subject to much hardship and affliction, may see him the second time in power and great glory, invested with the glory and dignity of the absolute Lord of heaven and earth; and that he who once tabernacled with men, and was despised and rejected of them, may have the honour of arraigning all men before his throne, and judging them with respect to their eternal state: John v. 21—24.
God seeth meet that he who was once arraigned before the judgment-seat of men, and was there most vilely treated, heing mocked, spitted upon, and condemned, and who was at last crucified, should be rewarded, by having those very persons brought to his tribunal, that may see him in glory, and be confounded; and that he may have the disposal of them for all eternity; as Christ said to the high priest while arraigned before him, Matth. xxvi. 64. Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
3. It is needful that Christ should be the judge of the world, in order that he may finish the work of redemption. It is the will of God, that he who is the Redeemer of the world should be a complete Redeemer; and that therefore he sbould bave the whole work of redemption left in his bands. Now, the redemption of fallen man consists not merely in the impetration of redemption, by obeying the divine law, and making atonement for sinners, or in preparing the way for their salsa. tion, but it consists in a great ineasure, and is actually fulfilled, in converting sinners to the knowledge and love of the truth, in carrying them on in the way of grace and true holiness through life, and in finally raising their bodies to life, in glorifying them, in pronouncing the blessed sentence upon them, in crowning them with honour and glory in the sight of men and angels, and in completing and perfecting their reward. Now, it is necessary that Christ should do this, in order to his finishing the work which he hath begun. Raising the saints from the dead, judging them, and fulfilling the sentence, is part of their salvation; and therefore it was necessary that Christ should be appointed judge of the world, in order that be might finish his work. (John vi. 39, 40.: cbap. v. 25—31.) The redemption of the bodies of the saints is part of the work of redemption; the resurrection to life is called a redemption of their bodies, (Rom. viii. 23.)
It is the will of God, that Christ himself should have the fulfilling of that for which he died, and for which he suffered so much. Now, the end for which he suffered and died was the complete salvation of his people; and this shall be obtained at the last judgment, and not before. Therefore it was necessary that Christ be appointed judge, in order that he himself might fully accomplish the end for which he had both suffered and died. When Christ had finished his appointed sufferings, God did, as it were, put the purchased inheritance into his hands, to be kept for believers, and be bestowed upon them at the day of judgment.
4. It was proper that he who is appointed King of the church should rule till he should have put all his enemies under his feet; in order to which, he must be the judge of his enemies, as well as of his people. One of the offices of Christ, as Redeemer, is that of a King; he is appointed King of the church, and head over all things to the church; and in order that his kingdom be complete, and the design of his reign be accomplished, he must conquer all his enemies, and then be will deliver up the kingdom to the Father : 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25.