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Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. Now, when Christ shall have brought his enemies, who had denied, opposed, and rebelled against him, to his judgment-seat, and shall have passed and executed sentence upon them, this will be a final and complete victory over them, a victory which shall put an end to the war. And it is proper that he who at present reigns, and is carrying on the war against those who are of the opposite kingdom, should have the honour of obtaining the victory, and finishing the war.
5. It is for the abundant comfort of the saints that Christ is appointed to be their judge. The covenant of grace, with all its circumstances, and all those events to which it hath relation, is every way so contrived of God, as to give strong consolation to believers: for God designed the gospel for a glorious manifestation of his grace to them; and therefore every thing in it is so ordered, as to manifest the most grace and mercy.
Now, it is for the abundant consolation of the saints, that their own Redeemer is appointed to be their judge; that the same person who spilled his blood for them hath the determination of their state left with him; so that they need not doubt but that they shall have what he was at so much cost to procure.
What matter of joy to them will it be at the last day, to lift up their eyes, and behold the person in whom they have trusted for salvation, to whom they have fled for refuge, upon whom they have built as their foundation for eternity, and whose voice they have often heard, inviting them to himself for protection and safety, coming to judge them.
6. That Christ is appointed to be the judge of the world, will be for the more abundant conviction of the ungodly. It will be for their conviction, that they are judged and condemned by that very person whom they have rejected, by whom they might have been saved, who shed his blood to give them an opportunity to be saved, who was wont to offer his righteousness to them, when they were in their state of trial, and who many a time called and invited them to come to him, that they might be saved. How justly will they be condemned by him whose salvation they have rejected, whose blood they have despised, whose many calls they have refused, and whom they have pierced by their sins!
How much will it be for their conviction, when they shall hear the sentence of condemnation pronounced, to reflect with themselves, how often hath this same person, who now passes sentence of condemnation upon me, called me, in his word, and by his messengers, to accept of him, and to give myself to him? How often bath he knocked at the door of my heart! and had it not been for my own folly and obstinacy, how might I have bad him for my Saviour, who is now my incensed Judge!
Christ's coming, the resurrection, the judgment prepared, the
books opened, the sentence pronounced and executed.
1. Christ Jesus will, in a most magnificent manner, descend from heaven with all the holy angels. The man Christ Jesus is now in the heaven of heavens, or, as the apostle expresses it, far above all headens, Eph. iv. 10. And there he hath been ever since his ascension, being there enthroned in glory, in the midst of millions of angels and blessed spirits. But when the time appointed for the day of judgment shall have come, notice of it will be given in those happy regions, and Christ will descend to the earth, attended with all those heavenly hosts, in a most solemn, awful, and glorious manner. Christ will come with divine majesty, he will come in the glory of the Father, Matth. xvi. 27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels.
We can now conceive but little of the holy and awful magnificence in which Christ will appear, as he shall come in the clouds of heaven, or of the glory of his retinue. How mean and despicable, in comparison with it, is the most splendid appearance that earthly princes can make! A glorious visible light will shine round about him, and the earth, with all nature, will tremble at his presence. How vast and innumerable will that host be which will appear with him! Heaven will be for the time deserted of its inhabitants.
We may argue the glory of Christ's appearance, from his appearance at other times. When he appeared in transfigu. ration, his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. The apostle Peter long after spake of this appearance in magnificent terms, 2 Pet. i. 16, 17. We were cye-witnesses of his majesty i for he received from God the
Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory. And his appearance to St. Paul at his conversion, and to St. John, as related in Rev. i. 13, &c. were very grand and magnificent. But we may conclude, tlrat his appearance at the day of judgment will be vastly more so than either of these, as the occasion will be so much greater. We have good reason to think, that our nature, in the present frail state, could not bear the appearance of the majesty in which he will then be seen,
We may argue the glory of his appearance, from the appearances of some of the angels to men; as of the angel that appeared at Christ's sepulchre, after his resurrection, Matth. xxviii. 3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment while as snow. The angels will doubtless all of them make as glorious 'an appearance at the day of judginent, as ever any of them have made on former occasions. How glorious, then, will be the retinue of Christ, made up of so many thousands of such angels! and how much more glorious will Christ, the judge himself, appear, than those his attendants ! Doubtless their God will appear immensely more glorious than they.
Christ will thus descend into our air, to such a distance from the surface of the earth, that every one, when all shall be gathered together, shall see him, Rev. i. 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him.
Christ will make this appearance suddenly, and to the great surprise of the inhabitants of the earth. It is therefore compared to a cry at midnight, by which men are wakened in a great surprise.
2. At the sound of the last trumpet, the dead shall rise, and the living shall be changed. As soon as Christ is descended, the last trumpet shall sound, as a notification to all mankind to appear; at wbich mighty sound shall the dead be immediately raised, and the living changed : 1 Cor. xv. 52. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed; Matth. xxiv. 31. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet ; i Thess. iv. 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. There will be some great and remarkable signal given for the rising of the dead, which it seems will be some mighty sound, caused by the angels of God, who shall attend on Christ.
Upon this all the dead shall rise from their graves; all
both small and great, who shall have lived upon earth since the foundation of the world ; those who died before the flood, and those who were drowned in the flood, all that have died since that time, and that shall die to the end of the world. There will be a great moving upon the face of the earth, and in the waters, in bringing bone to his.bone, in opening graves, and bringing together all the scattered particles of dead bodies. The earth shall give up the dead that are in it, and the sea tball give up the dead that are in it.
However the parts of the bodies of many are divided and scattered; however many have been burnt, and their bodies have been turned to ashes and smoke, and driven to the four winds; however many have been eaten of wild beasts, of the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the sea; bowever many have consumed a way upon the face of the earth, and great part of their bodies have ascended in exhalations; yet the all-wise and all-powerful God can immediately bring every part to his part again.
Of this vast multitude some shall rise to life, and others to condemnation. John v. 23, 29. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have dune good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
When the bodies are prepared, the departed souls sball again enter into their bodies, and be re-united to them, never more to be separated. The souls of the wicked shall be brought up out of hell, though not out of misery, and shall very unwillingly enter into their bodies, which will be but eternal prisons to them. Rev. xx. 13. And death and hell delivered up the dead that were in them. They shall list their eyes full of the utmost amazement and horror to see their awful Judge. And perhaps the bodies with which they shall be raised will be most filthy and loathsome, thus properly corresponding to the inward, moral turpitude of their souls.
The souls of the righteous shall descend from heaven together with Christ and the angels; i Thess. iv. 14. Them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. They also shall be re-united to their bodies, that they may be glorified with them. They shall receive their bodies prepared by God to be inansions of pleasure to all eternity. They shall be every way fitted for the uses, the exercises, and delights of perfectly holy and glorified souls. They shall be clothed with a superlative beauty, similar to that of Christ's glorious body: Phil. iii. 21. Iho shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. Their bodies shall rise incorruptible, no more liable to pain.or disease, and with an extraordinary vigour and vivacity, like that of those spirits that are as a flame of fire. 1 Cor. xv. 43, 44. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. With what joy will the souls and bodies of the saints meet, and with what joy will they lift up their heads out of their graves to behold the glorious sight of the appearing of Christ! And it will be a glorious sight to see those saints arising out of their graves, putting off their corruption, and putting on incorruption and glory.
At the same time, those that shall then be alive upon the earth shall be changed. Their bodies shall pass through a great change, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye ; 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. Behold, I show you a great mystery ; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. The bodies of the wicked then living will be changed into such hideous things, as shall be answerable to the loathsome souls that dwell in them, and such as shall be prepared to receive and administer eternal torments without dissolution. But the bodies of the righteous shall be changed into the same glorious and immortal form in which those that shall be raised will appear.
3. They shall all be brought to appear before Christ, the godly being placed on the right band, the wicked on the left; Matth xxv. 31, 32, 33. The wicked, however unwilling, however full of fear and borror, shall be brought or driven before the judgment-seat. However they may try to hide themselves, and for this purpose creep into dens and caves of the mountains, and cry to the mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; yet there shall not one escape; to the judge they must come, and stand on the left hand with devils. On the contrary, the righteous will be joyfully conducted to Jesus Christ, probably by the angels. Their joy will, as it were, give them wings to carry them thither. They will with ecsta. cies and raptures of delight meet their friend and Saviour, come into his presence, and stand at his right hand.
Besides the one standing on the right hand and the other on the left, there seems to be this difference between them, that when the dead in Christ shall be raised, they will all be caught up into the air, where Christ shall be, and shall be there at his right hand during the judgment, never more to set their feet on this earth. Whereas the wicked shall be left stand.