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It will be inquired concerning every one, both righteous and wicked, whether the law stands against him, or whether he hath a fulfilment of the law to show. As to the righteous, they will have fulfilment to show; they will have it to plead, that the judge himself hath fultilled the law for them ; that he hath both satisfied for their sins, and fulfilled the righteousness of the law for them: Rom. X. 4. “ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” But as to the wicked, when it shall be found, by the book of God's remembrance, that they have broken the law, and have no fulfilment of it to plead, the sentence of the law shall be pronounced upon them.
A secondary rule of judgment will be the gospel, or the covenant of grace, wherein it is said, “ He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned ;" Rom. ii. 16. "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." By the gospel, or covenant of grace, eternal blessedness will be adjudged to believers. When it shall be found that the law hinders not, and that the curse and condemnation of the law stands not against them, the reward of eternal life shall be given them, according to the glorious
gospel of Jesus Christ.
5. The sentence will be pronounced. Christ will say to the wicked on the left hand, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." How dreadful will these words of the judge be to the poor, miserable, despairing wretches on the left hand! How amazing will every syllable of them be! How will they pierce them to the soul! These words show the greatest wrath and abhorrence. Christ will bid them depart; he will send them away from his presence, will remove them for ever far out of his sight, into an everlasting separation from God, as being most loathsome, and unfit to dwell in bis presence, and enjoy communion with him.
Christ will call them cursed; depart, ye cursed, to whom everlasting wrath and ruin belong; who are by your own wickedness prepared for nothing else, but to be firebrands of hell ; who are the fit objects and vessels of the vengeance and fury of the Almighty. Into fire; he will not send them away merely into a loathsome prison, the receptacle of the filth and rubbish of the universe; but into a furnace of fire ; that must be their dwelling-place, there they must be tormented with the most racking pain and anguish. It is everlasting fire; there is eternity in the sentence, which infinitely aggravates the doom, and will make every word of it immensely more dreadful, sinking and amazing to the souls that receive it. Prepared for the devil and his angels; this sets forth the greatness and intenseness of the torments, as the preceding part of the sentence does the duration. It shows the dreadfulness of that fire to which
they shall be condemned, that it is the same that is prepared for the devils, those foul spirits and great enemies of God. Their condition will be the same as that of the devils, in many respects; particularly as they must burn in the fire for ever.
This sentence will doubtless be pronounced in such an aw. ful manner as shall be a terrible manifestation of the wrath of the judge. There will be divine, holy, and almighty wrath mani. fested in the countenance and voice of the judge; and we know not what other manifestations of anger will accompany the sentence. Perhaps it will be accompanied with thunders and lightnings far more dreadful than were on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. Correspondent to these exhibitions of divine wrath, will be the appearances of terror and most horrible amazement in the condemned. How will all their faces look pale! how will death sit upon their countenances, when those words shall be heard! What dolorous cries, shrieks, and groans! What trembling, and wringing of hands, and gnashing of teeth, will there then be !
But with the most benign aspect, in the most endearing manner, and with the sweetest expressions of love, will Christ invite his saints on his right hand to glory; saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." He will not bid them to go from him, but to come with him ; to go where he goes; to dwell where he dwells; to enjoy him, and to partake with him. He will call them blessed, blessed of his Father, blessed by him whose blessing is infinitely the most desirable, namely God. Inherit the kingdom : they are not only invited to go with Christ, and to dwell with bim, but to inberit a kingdom with bim ; to sit down with him on his throne, and to receive the bonour and happiness of a heavenly kingdom. Prepared for you from the foundation of the world; this denotes the sovereign and eternal love of God, as the source of their blessedness. He puts them in mind, that God was pleased to set his love upon them long before they had a being, even from eternity ; tbat therefore God made heaven on purpose for them, and fitted it for their delight and happiness.
6. Immediately after this, the sentence will be executed, as we are informed, Matt. xxv. 46. “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.” When the words of the sentence shall have once proceeded out of the mouth of the judge, then that vast and innumerable throng of ungodly
, men shall go away, shall be driven away, shall be necessitated to go away with devils, and shall with dismal cries and shrieks be cast into the great furnace of fire prepared for the punishment of devils, the perpetual thunders and lightnings of the wrath of God following them. Into this fire they must in both soul and body enter, never more to come out. Here they
must spend eternal ages in wrestling with the most excruciating torments, and in crying out in the midst of the most dreadful Alames, 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 con-, demping 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. iji. 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 regardelh no! 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 ai'unright-, eous 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 wilhout 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 ali 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 elernents shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein sball 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. A. 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 lo 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,