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man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assu rance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
ACTS xxiv. 25.
And as he (St. Paul) reasoned of righteousness, tempe rance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled; and an swered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.
ROMANS xiv. 10, 11, 12.
But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
2 Cor. v. 6, 9, 10, 11.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. Wherefore we labor that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every man may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.
HEBREWS ix. 27, 28.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.
WHEN St. Peter says, “We have a
more sure word of prophecy," he represents it as "a light that shines in a dark place." It, therefore, justly demands proper heed and attention. If it prove to our dark under
standings, a mystery, obscure and desultory, instead of deserving the title of a light, it could not with propriety be recommended as an object of our regard, however "sure" it might be in its final accomplishment. But if it be no clearer than the early dawn of the morning or the twilight of the evening, it may be easily discerned, for nothing appears more plain in the dark than light. Prophecy is, therefore, described as one would naturally expect, not of a private, but of a plain and lucid interpretation, according to the natural import of words. For it "came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake, as they were moved by the holy Ghost." We who now see through a glass darkly, may walk in this light of prophecy, till the perfect day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts.
Nothing appears more unreasonable, than to suppose our heavenly Father would give us an account of certain future events, which are for our interest to know, and cause them to be couched in such language as to sport with our ignorance, and render fruitless all our attempts to gain the knowledge of his will. Such is prophecy when we adopt a mystical interpretation, which may appear in as many shapes as there are interpreters. On the other hand, if the words of the Lord plainly express his meaning, we have a straight account and a true one. That prophecy is more rich in meaning than it appears to our
dark understanding is not to be doubted. But this argues nothing of obscurity. That some are not easily explained may likewise be admitted. But this arises from our ignorance of the circumstances, connexions and nature of the things pointed out, and not from obscu rity in the language of prophecy itself.
Some seek a figurative sense to most of the prophecies, according to certain rules of philosophy which they deem the best calculated to convince the Deist of the truth of revela tion. This method, which is as much employed in those scriptures that treat of the punishment of the wicked as any, they adopt to make them appear more reasonable; and of course, more agreeable to what they conclude, is according to the moral government of God. But, are such governed by the word of scripture? or do they mean to govern that? Are they searching for what the scripture does mean? or for what it should or must mean, according to their rules?
True philosophy and scripture beyond all dispute agree; but men may err in philosophy as well as in religion. And when in religion they would be governed by philosophy, they would do well to remember the Lord has said, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
It is evident revelation is of but little use, unless it teach us something we could not otherwise attain. And all this desired in
struction is lost, when plain instructive expressions are considered to be only figures or allegories. For no figure or allegory can be explained by any one who is not well acquainted with the things to which it alludes, and likewise the plain letter of the subject designed to typify the object in view. Therefore to adopt a figurative sense of scripture to accommodate it to certain ideas, men have in philosophy, we have every reason to believe makes two Deists where it convinces one. These figurative interpretations vary so much, they are led to conclude the Bible is like an instrument, on which any tune may be played that the performer pleases. In order to convince the Deist of the truth of prophecy, it must be fulfilled according to the plain import of language. This is the voice of reason, and the language of revelation. Hath the Lord spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Having offered these prefatory remarks, we will now search for the doctrine of the scriptures that have been just read in your hear ing, and are placed at the head of this Lecture. In these we read of a time called the day of judgment, and of appearing before the judgment-seat of Christ. Let the inquiry first be made, when it is. Are all these scriptures fulfilled in this life, or in a state beyond? In the first passage before us, we find a comparison of Capernaum with Sodom. Both are arraigned in the day of judgment; and the judgment of Sodom is as much represent
ed to be future to the time Christ spake as Capernaum. The words, "shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee," put their judgment both alike in the future tense by the phrase shall be. If this point be fairly decided, as it seems it is, let us next inquire; Where were the inhabitants of Sodom when our Savior uttered these words? Not in the land of the living. Long ere then, numbered with those nations and great men of the earth, a remembrance of whom is preserved only by the annals of history. Then the judgment of Sodom, to which our Savior alluded, could not be in this life; and as Capernaum is to have a judgment less tolerable, at a particular time called the day of judgment, hers must be in the future state also. And if these receive judgment in the future state, at the day of judgment, it proves the day of judgment to be after this life.
Should it be said, the judgment of Sodom, to which our Savior referred, was her destruction by fire, as it was said, she was set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, it may be answered, then the language of our Savior was calculated to deceive. Had he said, 'It was more tolerable for the land of Sodom in her day of judgment, than shall be for you in yours,' the idea would have been clearly expressed, by putting the judgment of Sodom in the past time, and Capernaum in the future. But he who spake