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when all things fhall be brought into review before them, then their memories will be awfully refreshed, their recollection will be rendered dreadfully perfect, and their confciences will teftify that the whole record is right, that there is not an iota added to or diminished from their thoughts, words or actions.Then the next book will be opened, which contains the rules of judgment. All means, opportunities and advantages from the works of creation, the light of nature difplayed therefrom,' the revelation from heaven both verbal and written, whereby they might have known and ferved God, will be the laws by which they fhall be judged. The works and light of nature are a standing rule to all, and in addition hereto, there has been an abundance of oral and written revelation given to the world. Those who lived from Adam to the flood, will be judged by the works of nature and the oral revelation which was granted to mankind during this period. And you will please to obferve, their revelation was very fufficient for all the purposes of religion required. From the death of Adam, to whom the fum of all revelation was given, the promife of a Saviour, and no doubt was propagated through his pofterity, to the birth of Noah, the father of the new world after the flood, was little more than one hundred years. So that portion of the world was furnished with a full revelation, which will be the rule of judgment in their cafe. Those who lived from the flood to Mofes, had not only the antideluvian revelation, but all that which was given to Noah, therefore this divifion of the world will be judged by the light afforded it From Mofes to Chrift there was not only the former light in the world, but there was all the additional revelation given to mankind by Mofes and the prophets, and this reduced to writing, fo not liable to be corrupted like oral tradition or verbal revelation. This will be the rule of judgment for this great period of the world. From Chrift to the end of time, the light of the gofpel will be added as the rule of trial of all thofe who have enjoyed the fame. And all who may be filed heathens
or pagans, and never have been favoured with any kind of revelation, they fhall be judged by the law of nature. To this St. Paul has an evident reference when he fays, "As ma"ny as have finned without law, fhall perifh without law, and "as many as have finned in the law, fhall be judged by the "law" Thus, thefe will be the rules by which all will be tried. Befides thefe, we are told there will be another book produced which is the book of life; in this all the names of the redeemed are enrolled. Then we are informed the books being thus opened, "That the dead were judged out of those things "which were written in the books, according to their works." We are not to understand what we literally mean by books, but only that all things fhall be as plain and evident, as tho' they were recorded in folios and ledgers.
And when the whole procefs fhall have been paffed through, whether it will laft a thousand years or one day, both of which are alike to God, and equally unknown to us, the judge will pronounce the final fentence of acquital and condemnation according as every one's works fhall appear. Thus fays Chrift Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works fhall be." How often is this idea repeated in the accounts of the laft judgment, that every man fhall be rewarded according to his works. In this manner fpeaks the apoftle Paul, "God will render to every "man according to his works; to them who by patient conti "nuance in well doing, feek for glory and honor and immor'56 tality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and "do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteoufnefs, indignation "and wrath." It is abundantly taught throughout the facred oracles, that all who will be finally faved, their falvation will be owing to pure, free and unmeritted grace, through the ighteousness and atonement of Jefus Chrit the Redecmer; and that the wicked fhall be condemned for their works of in quity. Yet it is univerfally afferted that in the last judgment
the juflified fhall be tried and rewarded according to their deeds as well as the condemned. Here it is affirmed in our text, that the good as well as bad fhall be judged according to their works. Since this is the cafe, that mankind shall final. ly be tried by their works, and thefe who are faved will be faved by abfolute grace, it is of fame importance that we fhould attend to and understand this matter.
The obfervation is evidently this; that in the final judg ment, mankind will be exactly tried according to the evidence of their works, whether good or bad, and they will receive future rewards precifely according to the nature and proportion of thefe works.
Perhaps the tender hearted chriftian may be here ready to fay, "If this be the cafe, I am undone, for of my best works I fhall be afhamed in the prefence of the univerfe, and all my hope and dependence for heaven has been upon fovereign grace and free mercy as revealed in the gofpel. Farewel eternal life." But, O christian, allow me to befpeak calmness and patience for a moment, until you fhall hear the fcriptural account of this matter.
But on the other hand, the felf confident and prefumptueus finner, it may be is faying, "This doctrine perfectly plcafes my heart, for though I have been wicked, I have done many good things, which I know muft out balance my evil condu& when weighed in equal feales, and I always was of the opinion that I fhould be judged and rewarded according to the nature and proportion of my works, therefore I am fully affured all will be well with me at lat." But let me alío entreat you, not to draw the milaken conclufions of comfort too hafily, till the matter is weihed in the balances of the fanctuary, and the cause be decided by divine truth.
The doctrine of the text, however it may be wrongly improved or misapplied by faints or finners, as is often the cafe ; yet there is fcarcely a truth more frequently repeated or more ftrongly inculcated than this. "Far be it from God, faith "Job, that he should do wickedness, for the work of a man "he will render unto him, and caufe every man to find accord"to his work." Thus fpeaks the Pfalmift, "The Lord render "eth to every man according to his work." Ifaiah declares, "Say ye to the righteous it fhall be well with them, for they "fhall eat the fruit of their doings; and wo unto the wicked "it fhall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands fhall be "given him." Jeremiah records this truth, "I the Lord "fearch the heart and try the reins, to give every man accord*ing to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." St. Paul affirms, "God will render to every man according "to his works, and whatsoever good things any man doth, the "fame shall he receive of the Lord." St. Peter gives his testimony, "That God without refpect of perfons judgeth ac"cording to every man's work." Chrift himself, who is the chief of witneffes, teftifies the fame thing, "The Son of Man "shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he fhall reward every man according to his works.” Here is a cloud of the infpired writers all uniting in the fame affertion.
Here two important queflions arife.
First, what is the defign and ufe of a general judgment?-And,
Secondly, What is the benefit and advantage of works in this final and folemn day?—In answer to the
First, let it be obferved, that this great trial or general judgment is not for God's information, that he might hereby
come to the knowledge of men's characters. Human courts or trials are to investigate what men have been guilty of, what their conduct and characters are, that they may be acquitted and rewarded, or condemned .and punished according to law and evidence. God knows every man's character and conduct as well before this general judgment as afterwards, therefore it is not that he fhould receive any information concerning them either good or bad. Neither is it the intention of this public judgment, to change the fentence which was passed on every one at his death. For every foul which departs from this world is in a private manner judged, and immediately fent to one or the other great receivers of departed spirits, agreea ble to their characters as righteous or wicked, to wit, heaven or hell. And this public judgment will not alter the fentence which was then pronounced upon them.
But the defign of this great and general judgment is to dif play and illuftrate to the univerfe, the perfect righteousness and juftice of God; and the fair and equal judgment, which has been paffed upon every individual. Every wicked being in earth and hell thinks God to blame; they imagine that he does wrong, in fome way or other, either in permitting fin to enter into the world, fuffering it to continue in it, or he acts wrong in thewing mercy to fome and not to others, in grant ing gofpel light and privileges to fome, while others are overwhelmed in the thick glooms of pagan darknefs. For these and a thousand other reafons, they diflike God and his government and feel him to blame. But in the general judgment it will confpicuously appear to angels and devils, faints and finners, that he is righteous in all his ways and perfectly just and holy in his being, perfections and government, and in all the administrations of his providence and in all his works. In that day the divine character will be cleared of all the falfe afpersions cait upon it, and the whole univerfe of beings will acknowledge, that each one was dealt with and treated in the most fair,