Page images

equal, canded and righteous manner. Therefore this judgment is ftiled, "The day of the revelation of the righteous judg "ment of God." Every one will have an open and public trial, before all his conduct and works will be laid to the rule, and the final adjudication will be accordingly. To him that hath done well, his fentence will be eternal life; but to him that hath obeyed cnrighteoufnefs, his fentence fhall be indig nation and wrath. The fairnefs and juftice of the judicial proceedings will be unexceptionably evident to every one's con fcience and judgment. So that the mouths of the wicked shall pronounce themfelves guilty; and the righteous fhall cry, Holy and true, O Lord, art thou when thou judgeft."

[ocr errors]

Alfo the final decifion will be perfectly manifest to each individual. Though God needs no information refpecting any one's real character, yet there must be evidence given to a perfons felf, and to all others, in order to prove in an explicit manner, his character to be fuch as it really is. Wherefore works in this public judgment will be produced as the grand proof of any one's character, whether it be good or bad. And this leads to the

Second question arifing upon this fubject, to wit: What is the benefit and advantage of works in this final and folemne judgment? I must take it for granted, that we all understand what is meant by the term-works. They are the productions, fruits and manifeftations of the heart. They are every thing by which the heart is made known. God fees the heart intuitively without works, but this is not the cafe with either angels, devils or men. None can immediately behold the heart of another. Man cannot difcern the heart of man, nor angel, of angel. This intuition is the prerogative of God, and is per haps one of his incommunicable attributes. Wherefore to know the heart, the real character must be known, and this is

only discoverable by works. Man will be diftinguished from man, and angel from angel, only by these means.

First, the real ftate of men will be tried by their works, whe ther it be a state of fin or holinefs.-Then,

Secondly, their works will be proper manifeftations of the progrefs they have made in their states.

Firft, works in the final judgment will be exhibited as the fole evidence to prove what flat a perfon is in, whether it be that of the righteous or the wicked. As the righteous will be judged firft, fo their good works will be produced in teftimony of the fincerity of their love, faith, repentance, striving against fin, holiness and godly living. Then will the fentence f the judge be, "Come ye bleffed of my Father, inherit the king"dom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; "for 1 was an hungered, and ye gave me meat, I was thirty "and ye gave me drink, I was a franger and ye took me ins "naked and ye cloathed me, I was fick and ye vifited me, I "was in prifon and ye came unto me." On the other hand the evil works of the wicked will be exhibited as the undeniable proof of the badness of their hearts and ftate. These will prove them workers of iniquity, impenitent, unbelieving, difobedient to the gospel, and tranfgreffors against the light of naAnd their fentence will be, “ Depart from me, ye cur"fed into everlafting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; "forI was an hungered and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty "and ye gave me no drink, I was a firanger and ye took me "not in, naked and ye cloathed me not, fick and in prifon and vifited me not." Thus all will be judged according to their works, and the characters of all whether good or bad will be manifested.



Secondly, another ufe and defign of works in the laft judg

[ocr errors]

ment is, they will ferve to prove the advancements which perfons have made in their general states. As fome are vaftly more wicked than others, fo fome are more righteous and ho ly than others. Some have had great and diftinguished talents, enjoyed higher degrees of light and knowledge, and more eminent advantages, and by their waste and mifimprovement and abuse hereof, have exceedingly aggravated their fins, and therefore will be adjudged to a greater degree of suffering.Hence this public judgment will be more tolerable to fome than others. "The fervant who knew his master's will and “did it not shall be beaten with many ftripes." So likewife it will be with the righteous; fome have pre-eminently fuffered for religion, and made abundantly greater advances in virtue piety and holiness than others, thefe will be promoted to fuperior degrees of happiness in glory. Therefore we read, that in the heavenly kingdom are many manfions, that the twelve apoftles fhall fit on twelve thrones, and to be exalted on Chrift's right hand and on his left fhall be given unto them for whom it is prepared of the Father. Now all these things will be determined in the exact proportion of men's works. Thus we fee the grand design of the g-neral judgment, the purpose and use of works in that day, and all these things illuftrate the doctrine in our text, that every one will be judged according to his works.

This fubje& fhall be clofed with a few reflections.

First, we are here taught the great importance and abfolute neceffity of good works. This is an effential article of the goffel, and muit be preached by all the minifters of truth. Our Lord fays, "Let your light fo fhine before men, that "others beholding your good works, may glorify your Father "which is in heaven." And St. Paul enjoins, "Walk wor"thy of the Lord, being fruitful in every good work." This he gives in charge to Titus, "That they who have believed in

"God, might be careful to maintain good works, for these "things are good and profitable unto men. Every good "tree will bring forth good fruits." And where there are not good fruits, or good works, it is an infallible evidence that the tree is not good. And thus it will appear in the future judgment when every one will be tried, acquitted or condemned, according to his works.

Secondly, we learn there will be different degrees of punithmeat in hell. And no doubt, of all the miferable there, gospel defpifing finners will receive the fulleft measure of torment. Chrift declares, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for Chorazin and Befaida, and that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the city of Capernaum. Wherefore let finners under the light of the gofpel particularly confider, that above all others while you continue impenitent, you are treasuring up for yourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. O that you would fpeedily awake from your fatal fecurity and attend to the things of your peace. "Awake, O fleeper, arife, call upon thy God, if fo be he may have mercy upon you, that you perish not."

Thirdly, we are here taught that there will be different degrees or measures of happinefs among the bleffed. "They "that are wife thall fhine as the brightnefs of the firmament, "and they that turn many to righteoufnels as the ftars forever "and ever. As there is one glory of the fun, another glory "of the moon, another glory of the stars, fo alfo is the refurrec❝tion of the dead." Numerous paffages of fcripture teach us that there will be different degrees of glory among the happy according to their various capacities. As one ftar differs from another ftar in glory, fo alfo will it be with the bleffed.

Lastly, let this doctrine be improved by all who are chrifti.

ans, to move them with an holy ambition to aspire after the highest degrees of this glory; and the way to obtain this honor is to be rich in good works, and to be exercifing the highest degrees of love, faith, humility, and every grace.

Let us all be exhorted to bear upon our minds continually, that there is a judgment to come. Let us remember that the judge is at the door, that the Lord Jefus will come quickly, and that he will render to every one as his works fhall be. Let us not be found in the state, ways, or practifes, of which we shall then be ashamed.

« PreviousContinue »