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judgment than for thee." John iii. 19. "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." These are alarming declarations, and they apply directly to us and ought therefore to awaken and alarm the secure among us. It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for us, if we should perish. O think of this ye who continue impenitent under Gospel light. Think of the day of judgment, and of the peculiarly dreadful situation, in which you will be placed in that day, if you continue to sustain your present character.
Further, all the privileges, means and opportunities we have enjoyed will be brought into the account. We must answer for every talent with which we have been entrusted. If we have been endowed with a good natural understanding, if we have received an education, if we have lived in affluence, if we have been entrusted with offices in church or state, if we have been favoured with a religious education, if we have enjoyed the stated means of grace, if we have lived under a powerful ministry, if we have been frequently warned by afflictions, if we have lived in seasons of revivals of religion; for all these privileges, means, and opportunities, or any of them, or any others which we may have enjoyed, we shall be called to give an account in the day of judgment. And more will be expected from us than from those who have not been thus favoured; and our condemnation will be the greater, if after all, we should be found at the left hand of the Judge. O brethren! what a great account will you and I have to render! for we are truly exalted to heaven in point of privileges; and what a peculiarly dreadful hell will ours be, if we should be lost! Let us be deeply sensible of our situation, and so improve our privileges as to be able to render up a good account at last.
If it be asked for what portion of their conduct in life men must give an account? The Scriptures plainly answer this question, and teach us that they must give an account for every thing they have done. Eccl. xii. 14. "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Mat. xii. 36. "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." For every work
which we have done, whether good or evil; for every idle word, (and we have reason to fear we speak many every day;) and even for every secret thing, which will embrace the thoughts of our hearts, our desires, and every exercise of our souls, as well as those actions which are concealed from the world-we must give an account in the day of judgment. What strange discoveries will the day of judgment make! What black intentions! what foul desires! what sinister motives! and what impure thoughts will this day unfold! What secret crimes! what works of darkness! and what deeds of deception, and fraud. and theft, and uncleanness, and slander, and lying, and murder, will then be brought to light! And what confusion will then seize and overwhelm the perpetrators of secret crimes! How will the hypocrite, who in this world, made religion a veil to conceal his crimes, be overwhelmed in that day, when the veil shall be torn from him, and all his foul deeds of hypocrisy be exposed before the assembled universe. "There is nothing covered (saith our Saviour, Luke xii. 2, 3,) that shall not be revealed; neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the house tops." Think of this, ye who are covered with secret crimes, which you have carefully concealed from the world. They are all known to God, and they will one day be exposed before the world. If but one of your secret crimes were told you before a few of your fellow creatures, the tale would confuse and overwhelm you. What then will your feelings be, when not only one, but all your secret deeds of wickedness shall be published in your presence, before all your fellow men, and also before angels and your Judge? Truly the state of the wicked in that day is aptly represented in Daniel, when it is said that they shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt. Dan. xii. 2. contempt. Dan. xii. 2. Let us always when tempted to secret sin, think of the judgment day, and remember that then God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing.
Further, every good work will in that day be brought to light, as well as every evil one. And what discoveries will also be made in this respect! Many characters which are now slandered and unjustly traduced, will then be
cleared up; many motives which are now impeached, will then appear to have been upright; many good desires and intentions, which for want of power to execute them, were never brought to light, will then be manifested; and many noble deeds of benevolence, which were carefully concealed from the world, will then be published.
And here while on the subject of the things which will be brought into judgment, and the discoveries which will be made in the day of judgment, a question is suggested whether the sins of the saints will in that day be published? Some suppose they will not, as they are all forgiven in Christ; and as the Scriptures represent them as blotted out, covered, cast into the depths of the sea, and remembered no more. Others suppose they will be published, in order to manifest before the assembled universe, the glory of that grace which has pardoned them. And this latter opinion seems to be clearly supported, by that text already quoted, Eccl. xii. 14, “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil."-Be this however as it may, it is certain the sins of the saints will not be alledged against them to their condemnation; neither will they be published to their disgrace or confusion.
The truth of what is alledged for or against each individual, we are authorized to believe will be proved by evidence, and such evidence as will place it beyond all doubt. Men who have been companions in wickedness, will probably be compelled to bear testimony against each other. They who have warned the wicked, and all who have been acquainted with their wicked deeds, will probably be called to bear testimony against them; and in like manner all who have been acquainted with the good actions of the righteous will probably be called to bear testimony to them. Angels also, as in the execution of their office of ministering spirits, they have been much conversant with our world, will probably be called to bear testimony. And even inanimate nature is represented as bearing testimony against the wicked, James v. 1, 3, 4, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treas ure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the
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labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth." God himself will also be a witness. Mal. iii. 5. "I will come near to you to judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me saith the Lord of hosts." The divine omniscience is probably one of those books, which it is said will be opened in that day. This is a figurative expression intended to denote the perfect acquaintance of God with all the actions of his creatures. The divine testimony to the actions of men, will establish the truth with respect to them beyond all doubt; since he cannot either be deceived himself, or deceive others. And with the testimony of the divine omniscience, will agree that of conscience. Conscience, however its voice may now be disregarded, or however it may now be lulled to sleep, or seared as with a hot iron, will then be awaked to perform its office; and its voice must then be heard; and it will bear its testimony to the truth of the charges brought against the wicked. And they will stand convicted, not only by the testimony of men and angels, and of God himself; but also by the testimony of their own consciences. They will be self-convicted and self-condemned; and thus every mouth will be stopped, and the whole world of the ungodly stand guilty before God.
How long a time this trial will occupy we know not. The time is called in Scripture a day; but by this we are most probably to understand not a common day, but a season of time, as the term is sometimes used in Scripture.
The trial being ended and the characters of men fairly brought to light, what remains will be to pronounce and execute the sentence. This will be pronounced according to the characters of men. They that have done good will be acquitted, and they whose works have been evil will be condemned. Sentence will be pronounced according to the works of men. This is abundantly evident from the following texts of Scripture. John v. 28, 29. “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Ps. lxii.
12. "Thou renderest to every man according to his work." Prov. xxiv. 12. "Shall not he render to every man according to his works." Mat. xvi. 27. "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." Rom. ii. 6. "Who will render to every man according to his deeds." Rev. ii. 23. “I will give unto every one of you according to your works." Rev. xx. 12, 13. "The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And they were judged every man according to their works." And Rev. xxii. 12. "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."-The wicked will be punished according to their works, and for their works too. The sentence which will be pronounced upon them will be their just desert. And the righteous will be rewarded, also according to their works, but not for their works. Their salvation will all be of free grace; and their reward will be of grace and not of debt. If they were to be dealt with according to law, they would be condemned and perish; but Christ has answered the demands of the law for them, and they are saved by grace through his righteousness. But works will be the evidence of their interest in that righteousness; and the works of the wicked will also be the evidence of their want of an interest in that righteousness. Hence, works will be the rule according to which sentence will be pronounced; and in vain do any hope to be acquitted by Christ whose works are evil.
The different sentences which will be pronounced, we have contained in Mat. xxv. Sentence will first be pronounced upon the righteous. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." How transporting will this sentence be! With what joy and rapture will it fill the saints! They are acquitted! they are invited near the King of saints as his favorites! they are called blessed, and blessed of the Father! an inheritance is awarded them, even a kingdom! and this too prepared for them long before they had an existence; even from the foundation of the world! Who of us my brethren will be so unspeakably blessed, as to belong to the happy number, who shall receive this blessed sentence?