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and defending them against all their spiritual enemies, who lie in wait to deceive and destroy them. God clearly described the duty of a watchman, in his address to the prophet Ezekiel. “ Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman : If, when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning, his blood shall be upon him; but he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; and thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity ; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” Thus every minister of the gospel is solemnly bound to watch for souls, as one that must give account. He is accountable for all the souls committed to his watch and care; and if any of them are lost, through his unfaithfulness or neglect, their blood will be required at his hands. Is there any greater trust committed to man, than the trust committed to a minister of the gospel ? and who is sufficient for these things ? Ministers must preach the truth, and the whole truth. They must inculcate every Christian grace and virtue. They must reprove and condemn every vice and immorality. They must detect every error and delusion; and guard their people against all corrupt and destructive principles and sentiments. A people have a right to expect that the man whom God has appointed, and they have chosen, to be their watchman, should be faithsul to God, faithful to them, and faithful to himself; for he watches for their souls, as one that must give account. He has an invaluable object at stake, as well as his people. He has a soul to save, or lose, as well as they ; and he cannot save his own soul, unless he seeks to save theirs. Now, my hearers, I ought to recollect, and you ought to recollect, that I have been in my
watchtower here, for fifty-one years. In the course of this long period, many souls have been committed to my watch and care; many more than will ever be committed to my trust again. I am still responsible for those who have gone the way of all the earth, though they are now entirely beyond the influence of my preaching and prayers, and the preaching and prayers of any other man on the face of the earth. But I am still in my watchtower, and the solemn and responsible duty of watching for your souls, lies upon me with redoubled weight. The past neglects of duty, and the present decays of nature, and the nearness in which I, and some of you at least, stand to eternity, remind me of my increasing obligations to fidelity. Though you may complain of my past unfaithfulness, surely you cannot reasonably complain of my future watchfulness and fidelity. Methinks I see dangers approaching, and grievous wolves entering in, not sparing the flock. And the danger I see, or think I see, I must warn you of, let it come from what quarter it will
. I am responsible for warning, and you are responsible for taking warning. Brethren, the time is short, precious, and important. Death is at the door, and when that comes we must go to our long home, and give up our account with joy or grief.
PROCESS OF THE GENERAL JUDGMENT, IN WHICH THE DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL SALVATION IS PARTICU
WAEN the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall be sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: And he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divi. deth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in ; Daked and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying. Lord, when saw we thee an hunger. ed and fed thee? or thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and yo gave me no drink; I was a stranger and ye took me not in; naked and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee ? Then shall be an. swer them, saying. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. – MATTBEW, xxv. 31 – 46.
It is the intention of this discourse to explain and confirm the sense of this passage of scripture. And since scripture is the best interpreter of itself, we shall compare the various representations in the text, with the general tenor of the sacred oracles.
I. Our Lord here gives us a particular and lively representation of the general judgment.“ When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations," &c. This description of the great day resembles that of several other inspired writers. Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of it, saying, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judg. ment upon all.” Solomon says, “ God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” The apostle Paul declares that “ God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” We are told that the fallen angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment day. And the apostle John beheld in vision this great and glorious and solemn scene. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works." These declarations are too explicit to need any comment; they literally speak the language of the text, and confirm the representation it gives of the general judgment; which is also agreeable to the nature and apprehensions of mankind, as well as the character of the Deity and the present dispensations of divine providence.
It is, in the first place, perfectly consonant to the nature of men as moral agents. They are endued with perception, reason, memory, conscience, and all the powers and faculties which are requisite to moral agency. And being moral agents, they are proper subjects of law and moral government. The Supreme Being, therefore, will treat them but according to their nature in calling them to an account for all the deeds done in the body, and give them a just recompense of reward. Hence every man carries in the very frame and constitution of his nature, an irresistible evidence of a future judgment.
Accordingly, this is agreeable to the natural apprehensions of mankind. As they are sensible they lie open and naked to the view of the omniscient God, so they naturally expect he will call them to an account for all the inward motions and exercises of their hearts, as well as outward actions of their lives. The man who imbrues his hand in the blood of his fellow creature, though concealed from every other eye but the omniscient, has a secret, fearful apprehension of the righteous judgment of God. And, though he is neither accused nor suspected of his crime,
yet his own conscience binds him over to the judgment of the great day. This is the secret voice of nature, which has discovered itself on many occasions. The barbarians, when they saw the viper on Paul's hand," said among theinselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.” The mariners in the ship with Jonah, when they found themselves in danger of perishing by a mighty ternpest, " said, Come let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil has come upon us.” And when Joseph's brethren were thrust into prison, and subjected to great and unexpected misfortunes, they immediately recollected their cruel and unnatural treatment of their brother, as the procuring cause of their present calamities. “ They said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." All men thus feel the natural connection between moral evil and physical, between sinning and suffering, between guilt and punishment. Hence every man's conscience presages a future day of retribution, when he must give an account of himself to God, as the supreme and final Judge.
And this is farther confirmed by the rectitude of the divine character and government. Since the Author of nature is infinitely holy, just and good, he must necessarily conduct agreeably to these divine attributes in the government of moral beings, and dispense rewards and punishments according to their respective characters. The present state of things, however, clearly evinces that the day of retribution is yet to come. Here, as Solomon observes, all things come alike to all; there is one event to the righteous and the wicked, and no man knoweth either love or hatred, by the present dispensations of divine providence 10wards him. But as things cannot always continue so under the administrations of a Being of perfect rectitude, so the present state of the world is a clear demonstration of a future general judgment, when the Supreme Being will review the conduct of all his intelligent creatures, and reward the righteous and punish the wicked according to their works.
II. Our Lord speaks of one distinction in the characters of men, which will absorb all other distinctions, and divide the whole world into two classes at the last day. “Before him shall be gathered all nations: And he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, &c. - For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stran