Page images

of this judgment to him who was the fon of manThis great and folemn doctrine now received new confirmation by Chrift's refurrection from the dead and afcenfion into heaven. The apoftle fays, "God hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given affurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."

When the disciples faw their Lord afcending in his glory, how naturally might his former declarations relative to his coming to judgment, fill their minds?

The angels fay, "This fame Jefus fhall come." Jefus was God manifeft in the flesh. He afcended in the fame body in which he appeared on earth. And in the fame body will he come to judgment. The judgment is committed to him, because he is the fan of man. The general refurrection will precede the judgment, that the dead may be judged as men in the flesh; and Jefus will defcend from heaven with his real body, that he may fit to judge them as a man in the flesh. "When he fhall come in the clouds of heaven, every eye fhall fee him." The judgment, of which Chrift so often fpeaks, is not a figurative and imaginary scene; it will be a real, fenfible tranfaction.

If we are to be judged by Christ, certainly we need not fear any undue rigor or unreasonable severity. The Judge is a partaker of our nature; he was made, though without fin, yet in the likeness of our finful flesh; he has experienced our infirmities, and been tempted as we are. He will know what allowance to make for our temptations and infirmities. He will feel no prejudice against us. He will accept the fincerity of the heart and the willingness of the fpirit, even though

[ocr errors]

there have been great failings through the weaknefs of the flesh. We have nothing to fear from the ftern fovereignty of the Judge; our only danger is from the intractable perverseness of our own hearts. If our hearts condemn us not, we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for every man will be accepted according to that he hath, and not according to that he hath not. More or lefs will be required of every one, according as more or less has been committed to him. The judgment will be fuch a full revelation of God's righteoufnefs in the diftribution of rewards and punishments, that every mouth will be stopped, and all who are condemned will fee themselves guilty before God. If our hearts now condemn us, let us remember, "God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things."

The angels fay, "This Jefus will come," fignifying, that the judgment will be held near the confines of this world. This the apoftle more explicitly teaches. "The Lord himself fhall defcend from heaven; the dead in Christ shall be raised, and at the fame moment they who are alive fhall be changed; and they shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." This world, which has been the place of human probation, will be the fcene of the final judgment. When the trial fhall be finished, and the fentence paffed, then the oppofite characters fhall go away, the one to everlasting punishment, the other to life eternal.

The angels farther fay, "Jefus fhall fo come, in like manner as ye have feen him go into heaven." He went up to heaven in a glorious manner; his body was changed to a fpiritual body; he was attended with miniftering angels; a bright cloud received him, and carried him beyond the fight

of gazing mortals. When he defcends to judg ment, he will come in a cloud, furrounded with the glory of his Father, and attended with an innumerable hoft of angels; he will feat himself on his throne, and call the nations before him; he will separate the righteous from the wicked with as much exactnefs, as a fhepherd divides his sheep from the goats; the former he will admit to the kingdom prepared for them, and will doom the latter to the place of punishment originally defigned for the devil and his angels.

The final judgment of the world is the moft folemn and momentous event, that we have ever heard of, as paft, or to come. Nothing has yet occurred fince the world began, and nothing ever will occur, while time shall laft, which can in any measure equal this, in grandeur or importance. The reality of fuch an event the fcripture has affirmed on divine authority, and proved by un gainfayable arguments. The majefty of the fcene it has defcribed, not with the ftudied figures of rhetoric, but with the moft natural and affecting fimplicity of plain language. Description can borrow no images from nature to exalt the fcene; for in all nature there is nothing fo grand and folemn, as the scene itself. The plaineft and fimpleft defcription is the most impreffive; and it is this kind of defcription, which the fcripture has chofen.

If you would raise in your minds the most af. fecting and influential apprehenfions, of the judgment, go, read your bible; and attend to what you read. When you have closed the book and laid it by, compofe your minds to contemplate and apply what you have read. Think on the majefty of the judge from heaven, the fplendor of his throne in the fky, the myriads of at

tending angels, the opening of the graves on every fide, and the rifing of the dead all around you-Think on the amazing affembly which will be gathered before the throne-an affembly confifting of all who have ever lived, and shall have lived on earth, from the first to the last step in the human fucceffion. Conceive in your minds the ferene pleasure, which will fmile in the faces of fome; and the horror and aftonishment, which will be depicted in the countenances of others. Contemplate the ftrictness and equity with which the characters of men will be examined, and the juftice and impartiality with which the different iffues will be decided. Attend to the folemn fentence by which fome will be called up to eternal glory, and others doomed to blackness of darknefs for ever. Hear the triumphant fongs of the former, and the hideous lamentations of the latter. View the heavens paffing away with dreadful noife, the elements melting with fervent heat, the earth all in flames, and nature rufhing to final diffolution. And will you not be amazed at the scene?-But after all that you can imagine, the most affecting circumftance ftill remains to be fuggefted; you yourfelves will be perfonally prefent, and deeply concerned in the judgment; and you will then hear your everlasting condition determined.

"Seeing, then, we look for fuch things, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy converfation and godlinefs, looking for, and hafting unto the coming of the day of the Lord? Let us be diligent, that we may be found of him in peace, without fpot and blameless."

Our fubject teaches us with what meditations and affections we should approach the table of the Lord, which is now fpread before us."

Here is exhibited to us that wonderful Saviour, who once dwelt on earth-fuffered death for our fins-was laid in the grave-rofe from thence and afcended to glory-lives to make interceffion for us, and to difpenfe fupplies of grace to us and will hereafter come to judge the world in righteousness, to punish the wicked with everlasting deftruction from his prefence, but to be glorified in the faints, and to be admired in all them who be lieve.

When we come to this table, we are not mere ly to gaze at the scene exhibited before us, or to partake of the elements prefented to us. This will be no better, than if the disciples had stood gazing up into heaven, without thinking of the ends, for which their Lord had ascended thither. While we fit at the table, we are to exercise faith and love toward the Saviour, who is here reprefented to us. His death muft impress us with a fenfe of the evil of our fins, and awaken in us new refolutions against them. His afcenfion muft raife our affections to that world whither he is gone. His interceffion must encourage us to draw near to God in his name. His promifes of the fpirit muft animate us in all the labours and conficts of the chriftian life. His coming to judg ment must excite our diligence in every good work, that we may be found to honour and glo. ry, when he comes.

What benefit could the disciples derive from ga. zing into heaven, unless by faith they looked to Jefus, who was there? As little benefit fhall we derive from fitting at this table, unless we here behold by faith a dying, rifing, afcending, and interceding Saviour. Looking at the table and eating the bread and drinking the wine upon it, without any spiritual views of Chrift, and friendly affec

« PreviousContinue »