Page images
PDF
EPUB

ting the whole of his character and works in clear and public sight, appear to be a friend to Christ, and united to him, shall, on this account and according to the gospel, be publicly justified and rewarded with eternal life, which he could not be, if treated according to the law of works. And they who shall be found not to be friends to Christ while in this world, shall be condemned, and fall under the curse of the law. This is agreeably to he representation which Christ gives of the general judgment. (Matt. xxv. 31, etc.) And the apostle Paul sets it in the same light. (2 Thess. i. 7-10.)

It has been a question, whether the sins of the redeemed would be brought into view and laid open before all intelligences at the day of judgment, or would be covered and kept out of sight, and different opinions have been entertained of this. But it is thought, if the matter be properly considered, it will be evident that all their sins will be brought into view and laid open before all, and that it will appear that there is not any evidence from the Scripture that their sins will be concealed, but the contrary. It is indeed said in Scripture, that the sins of the people of God shall be blotted out, covered, cast into the depths of the sea, and remembered no more. (Is. xliii. 25. Ps. xxxii. 1. Jer. xxxi. 34. Mich. vii. 19.) But these are metaphorical expressions, to denote the free and full pardon of all their sins, so that they should never be remembered against them so as to condemn them to suffer the just consequence of them; but they shall be treated as well as if they never had been guilty of one sin. It cannot be true, that God will remember their sins no more, in any

other
sense,

for it is iinpossible he should forget them, or any thing else. This has been already observed in the section on justification.

1. That the sins of the redeemed should not be brought into view at the day of judgment, appears contrary to the express declaration of Scripture which has been mentioned. It is said, “God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Which cannot be consistent with passing over and concealing all the sins of the redeemed.

2. It appears impossible that their sins should be concealed, consistent with the sins of the wicked being fully laid open; for believers and unbelievers are so many ways connected, that the thoughts and conduct of the latter cannot be fully discovered without making known the sins of the former, at least in many instances; of which every one must be sensible, who attends to the matter. For instance, is it not impossible that all the sins of an unbelieving husband should be clearly discovered in all their circumstances and aggravations, while all the sins of his believing wife are wholly concealed; which were the occasion of many of his sins, and to which they have a particular reference?

3. The holy exercises and good works of the saved cannot be set in a true and just light, without discovering their sinful infirmities and defects at least with which they have all been attended, and their sins have been the occasion and reason of their gracious exercises in many instances. How can their repentance of their sins be discovered and clearly seen, while the sins of which they repent are wholly concealed ? How can their humility, and their humbling themselves in the sight of the Lord be discovered, unless the sins for which they humble themselves be known? How shall their love and faithfulness in reproving a believing brother for his sins, and their labors and prayers for him, which have been the means of his recovery, reformation, and salvation, be made known, without discovering the sins of that brother? And how can their trust in Christ for the pardon of their sins, and their penitent confessions of their sins, be discovered, without, at the same time, discovering their sins, to which these exercises have reference, and without which they would not be virtuous, or reasonable, or even intelligible? In short, all the holy exercises and works of a Christian, take their particular complexion and peculiat beauty from their sins, of which they were guilty before conversion and afterwards, which cannot be seen any farther than their sins come into view.

4. Many sins of the redeemed have been already published to the world in divine revelation, and will be known by all who read the Bible to the end of the world, and at the day of judgment; and will forever be known and remembered by all the redeemed, by all the angels and devils, and by many, if not by all, wicked men. The reader will recollect many more instances of this than Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Peter, and the rest of the apostles. And the apostle Paul took pains to keep in view and publish his great wickedness before his conversion. God has ordered all these to be published; and, therefore, we know it is wise and best that they should not be concealed, but made known; and that this will answer some important good end. And who can say, that God will not publish all the sins of every one of the redeemed at the day of judgment, and that this will not be necessary to answer some important ends? This leads to another particular.

5. It seems necessary that the sins of the saved should be known and published, in order to discover and set in the most clear light the goodness and grace of God in pardoning and saving them, and that their need of a Redeemer and the efficacy of his atonement and righteousness should be seen to the greatest advantage. And the work of the Holy Spirit, in his effectually applying redemption to them and subduing such rebels, cannot be otherwise fully revealed in every particular instance. Of this every one must be sensible, who will reflect on the subject. There is, doubtless, something peculiar in the character of each one of the redeemed with respect to his guilt, the circumstances and aggravations of his sins, and the manner in which he is brought to repentance, etc., which serves to illustrate the sovereign grace of God in his pardon and redemption; and it is so ordered that he should sin in just such a manner and degree, and in such particular circumstances, to answer some end; and particularly this, that God might be more glorified in the exercise of his sovereign, wise, wonderful goodness and grace, in his pardon and salvation. But in order to this, the particular sins, the guilt, and circumstances in which he sinned, must be known; and must be known to all, in order to the greatest and most public display of sovereign grace, in his pardon and salvation, that all may glorify God, and give thanks, and praise him on his behalf. This leads to another observation.

6. Every one of the redeemed ardently desires that God may have all the praise and glory of his pardoning mercy and sovereign grace exercised towards him, in his pardon and salvation; and the more this is known and celebrated, the more pleased he will be. But this cannot be known, it cannot be seen what God has done for him in particular, any farther than his sins, with their circumstances and particular aggravations, are published and known. Therefore, it will be so far from being undesirable to him, or giving him the least uneasiness, to have his sins, with all their aggravations, most particularly and clearly laid open before all, that they may see his guilt and the odiousness of his character as he does; that it will give him a peculiar satisfaction and high degree of pleasure, as it will promote the happiness of all his friends, and be matter of their gratitude and praise to God for his sovereign grace, exercised and manifested in his pardoning and saving such a sinner; and God will have all the praise and glory.

Where is there a real Christian now, who, when he reflects on his amazing guilt and vileness, the multitude and aggravations of his sins, his desert, and danger of perishing forever, which have been prevented purely by the sovereign grace of God, exercised in all wisdom and prudence towards him, in pardoning, rescuing, and saving him, who does not say, at least in his heart, “ Let God have all the praise and glory of his rich and sovereign grace, exercised towards me, in pardoning such a sinner, so infinitely guilty and vile, attended with such particular aggravations. Let all heaven, the angels, and all the redeemed know what God has done for me, and praise him forever.In this view, he desires and wishes that his case might be particularly and fully known to all, that they all might join with him in giving praise and glory to God. And at the day of judgment, this disposition and desire will be stronger and perfect; and he will, by having all his sins set in order, and in the clearest light before him and all creatures, have a more clear and enlarged view himself of the multitude and greatness of his sins than he ever had before, and of the wonderful mercy of God in pardoning him, and of the boundless sufficiency of the atonement of Christ, and of his merit, by which he has obtained forgiveness of all his sins, and complete salvation. This will prepare him to be highly gratified, and exceedingly rejoice that the whole is now brought out and made known to all the friends of God, that they may all be under the best advantage to join with him in giving all the praise and glory to God and the Savior, of his unbounded love and sovereign grace, in which he hath abounded towards him, in all wisdom and prudence. In this view, he cannot desire to have one of his sins concealed for which Christ has atoned, and which is pardoned, and would not have his sins in general secreted, on any consideration.

In a word, Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of sinners; he came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners. This is his work, and in this is his glory: that the redeemed are sinners, must, therefore, be known at the day of judgment, in order to his having the glory of their salvation. And the more clearly their true character is seen, and their sins, in their number and aggravations, are discovered, the more will Christ be glorified in their salvation. Therefore, the brightest possible discovery will be made of this by him, at the day of judgment. And by this the redeemed will be gratified and pleased to a high degree. It will appear at that day, that the redeemed are not saved because they deserve such favor, or are less unworthy, or less sinners than others; but because Christ loved them, and gave himself for them, and they are united to him, and have put their trust in him for pardon, righteousness, and complete redemption. And though they may then appear to have been greater sinners, and more ill deserving than those who perish, -as, doubtless, many if not all of them will, and their greatest crimes will appear to be those which they committed after their conversion, yet this will not hinder their justification and salvation, or render it in the least degree improper, more than if they were less sinners; but the Redeemer will be hereby more glorified in the salvation of such sinners, and they will be the more happy. For they to whom most is forgiven, will love the most.

Though the Redeemer has not altered the nature of sin, or rendered it less odious and criminal, either in the redeemed, or in those who perish, but much more so; yet he overrules it, and turns it to his own glory, and the glory of his kingdom, and makes the sins of those who are saved the occasion of their greater holiness and happiness forever.

When every character of those who are to be judged shall be set in the clearest light, and fixed, and all the past conduct and transactions in the moral world, both of God and creatures, shall be set in a clear, connected view, and all creatures shall be under the best advantage to see the righteousness and propriety of the final sentence, it will be pronounced by the Judge in the sight and audience of all. This will be, in some respects, the most solemn, weighty, joyful, and dreadful scene and transaction that had ever taken place; which will fix the righteous in a state of endless, inexpressible happiness and glory, and send the wicked away into inconceivable, eternal misery. We have a summary of this sentence on each of these left on record, for our instruction and warning, by the Judge himself, in his awful representation of the day of judgment, in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew.

THE ETERNAL STATE OF HAPPINESS OR MISERY.

V. The general judgment issues in an endless state of happiness or misery, as has been just observed. Much is said of this endless state, both of the happiness and misery of it, in the Scriptures, in the promises, and threatenings, and declara tions there made. But those opposite states, both of happiness and misery, are more particularly described in the revelation of Jesus Christ, made to the apostle John, for the support and encouragement of Christians, and to excite them to faith, resolution, patience, and perseverance in the service of Christ, and a faithful, constant adherence to the truths of the gospel, in the evil times which were to take place, and the opposition and sufferings to which they are exposed in this world, and the trials and temptations which await them here.

But with all the instruction we have on this subject, and the utmost attention to it of which we are capable, our conceptions are dark and low, and fall unspeakably short of a full, comprehensive view of the truth. However, the

« PreviousContinue »