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proof of this doctrine, and the first portion of the article; it is recorded in the Revelation of St. John (i. 7), Behold, he cometh with clouds ; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.
Concerning the particular place from whence our blessed Redeemer will come, there is no necessity to enlarge to you at this time, since, in the explanation of the foregoing article, we so fully proved what place that was. One text will suffice as well as a hundred, to refresh your memory on that subject. In the Apostle's description the declaration runs thus: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God (1 Thess. iv. 16): and hence the Apostle argues, in another place, for the expediency of our conversation being in heaven, because, says he, from THENCE we look for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus.
I proceed now to the second consideration I promised to speak to, which is the design of Christ's coming, and that is, the act of his judging:
- FROM THENCE HE SHALL COME TO JUDGE.
That there will be a general day of judgment to the whole world, and consequently that it will be the most solemn and terrible day the world ever saw, is a truth that most conçerns us of any other whatever.
I will adduce the Scripture accounts of it, and endeavour, as I go along, to bring the reflection home to ourselves, by such pointed applications as the importance of the action naturally suggests to every true believer.
Now, there is no view in which the last judg- . ment can be painted, that more equally affects all men, than the threatened sentence of the Judge himself, against all who abuse the means of grace; who slight their day of visitation ; who do not profit by the gracious trial appointed them — Verily, I say (saith the Judge), it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for these. The wickedest of people, you see, will have a lighter sentence passed upon them, than those who turn their backs on God's ordinances; and who are wilfully blind and deaf to the calls of the Gospel, Now the reason of this judgment is founded in justice, because the other had not equal opportunities of conviction and reformation; for our Lord expressly says, if the works had been done among THEM, which you
seen, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. How should this urge us (my dear brethren) to redeem the time, to neglect no opportunity of learning our duty, to be diligent in working out our salvation, with fear and trembling, lest we finally partake of such a dreadful judgment ! How should it keep us on continual
watch, that we, who think we stand, take heed lest we fall! not to be satisfied with a lukewarm service, with a few outward forms, but to give up our whole heart and will unto God; not to build false security in our own imperfect righ, teousness, but to give all the glory to God, for the possibility of our salvation, through the atonement of the Redeemer ; at the same time that we strive for more grace, and labour to make our calling and election sure; lest the harlots
into the kingdom of heaven before us: that is, lest the worst of sinners who have truly repented, and reformed their lives, and ascribe all to the powerful aid and tender mercy of God, prove finally accepted and we cast out, because we have denied the faith; that is, neither called, nor depended upon Jesus Christ the Saviour, for our support; and lest, though we have been called, we prove by our misconduct, we have not been CHOSEN.
The very form of this tremendous scene is enough to fill the soul with humble fear. For, first, the innumerable host of angels shall şound the trumpet. At this signal of power almighty, all that are in the graves shall arise and come forth. They shall gather together the elect from the four winds ; from one end of heaven to the other, myriads of creatures shall be assembled: then shall the Son descend in power and great glory, attended by the majesty
of heaven. What words can paint the feelings of the sinner, when the books are OPENED? The first foretaste of misery will be to view the person of his offended Judge. If the righteous shall scarcely be able to stand before the purity of his presence, where shall the blasphemer of his holy name, the unmerciful, the unjust, the hardened, wilful, and impenitent appear? Alas for the fate and feelings of those long-lived, desperate contemners of the blessed Jesus ! those execrable abusers of the word philosophy. Those WOULD-BE infidels, in despite of their own natural reason, and inward conviction of the truth! the profane and profligate emissaries of the prince of darkness, and all the hopeless, wretched crew of daring, doubting, and condemned unbelievers! No excuseno evasion no further trial will be admitted : nay, either the cowardly exit of some, and the hardened exit of others, perverters of their fellow-creatures, decided their tremendous sentence even on their death-beds. They, and all such, shall then be judged out of the things that are written in the books, according to their works. Surely, my friends, it is well worth our while, with such a certain awful prospect before us, to take heed to our ways; to be wise now in the accepted time; to judge ourselves, that we be not judged of the Lord.
As to the particular manner in which this
final judgment shall be transacted, we can only speak of it according to what is revealed as needful for us to know. It is enough, both for our present improvement, and as a gracious warning to escape the condemnation of the ungodly, that we are told we shall be accountable for all that we have done in the whole course of our lives, as agents that had a choice held out to us by evangelical revelation, and assisted with an inward light of conscience to check us in our evil courses, and direct us in the safe path to life. Every evil work, every wicked word, every secret thought, shall then be brought to light. If the guilty did but weigh the consequence, how earnest would it make them to
O Lord, what shall we do to be saved ? If one wicked action, unrepented of, is enough to separate us from the presence of our immaculate Judge, how shall we stand under the burden of our iniquities, wilfully and wantonly transacted, from the earliest capacity of offending to the present hour ? And yet we must be judged for whatever is done in the body, whether it be good or bad: and, if not only our actions, but every wicked word, will arise up against us, how does the account increase in terror? Yet the Judge declares, Every idle (i. e. every wilfully wicked) word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment ; for, by thy words thou shalt be JUSTIFIED, and by thy