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because they will have new- arguments of joy. The body of Christ will then be perfect, the church will be complete : all the parts of it will have come into existence, which will not be the case before the end of the world: no parts of it will be under sin or affliction :, all the members of it will be in a perfect state; and they shall all be together by themselves, none being mixed with ungodly men.
Then the church will be as a bride, adorned for her husband, and, therefore, she will exceed. ingly rejoice.
Then, also, the Mediator will have fully accomplished bis work. He will then have destroyed, and will triumph over, all his enemies. Then Christ will have fully obtained his reward, and fully accomplished the design which was in his heart from all eternity. For these reasons, Christ himself will greatly rejoice, and his members must needs proportionably rejoice with him. Then God will have obtained the end of all the great works, which he hath been doing from the beginning of the world. All the designs of God will be unfolded in their events; then his marvellous contrivance in his hidden, intricate, and inexplicable works, will appear, the ends being obtained. Then the works of God being perfected, the divine glory will more abundantly appear. These things will cause a great accession of happiness to the saints, who shall behold them. Then God will have fully glorified himself, his Son, and his elect; then he will see that all is very good, and will entirely rejoice in his own works. At the same time, the saints, also, viewing the works of God brought thus to perfection, will rejoice in the view, and receive from it a large accession of happiness.
Then God will make more abundant manifestations of his glory, and of the glory of his Son; then he will more plentifully pour out his spirit, and make answerable additions to the glory. of the saints; and, by means of all these, will so increase the happiness of the saints, as shall be suitable to the commencement of the ultimate and most perfect state of things, and to such a joyful occasion, the completion of all things. In this glory and happiness, will the saints remain for ever and ever.
The uses to which this doctrine is applicable. 1. The first use proper to be made of this doctrine, is of instruction. Hence many of the mysteries of Divine Providence may be unfolded.
There are many things in the dealings of God towards the children of men, which appear very mysterious, if we view them without having an eye to this last judg. ment, which, yet, if we consider this judgment, have no diffi. culty in them. As,
1. That God suffers the wicked to live and prosper in the world. The infinitely holy and wise Creator and Governor of the world, must necessarily hate wickedness; yet we see many wicked men spreading themselves as a green bay-tree; they live with impunity; things seem to go well with them, and the world smiles upon them. Many who have not been fit to live, who have held God and religion in the greatest contempt, who have been open enemies to all that is good; who, by their wickedness, have been the pests of mankind; many cruel tyrants, whose barharities have been such as would even till one with horror to hear or read of them; yet have lived in great wealth and outward glory; have reigned over great and mighty kingdoms and empires, and have been honoured as a sort of earthly gods.
Now, it is very mysterious, that the holy and righteous Governor of the world, whose eye beholds all the children of men, should suffer it so to be, unless we look forward to the day of judgment; and then the mystery is unravelled. For, although God, for the present, keeps silence, and seems to let them alone, yet' then- he will give suitable manifestations of his displeasure against their wickedness; they shall then receive condign punishment. The saints under the Old Testament were much stumbled at these dispensations of Providence, as you may see in Job, ch. xxi. and Psal. Ixxiji. and Jer. ch. xii. The difficulty to them was so great, because, then, a future state, and a day of judz ment, were not revealed with that clearness with which they are now.
2. God sometimes suffers some of the best of men to be in great affliction, poverty, and persecution. The wicked rule, while they are subject; the wicked are the head, and they are the tail; the wicked domineer, while they serve, and are oppressed, yea are trampled under their feet, as the mire of the streets. These things are very common, yet they seem to imply great confusion.
When the wicked are exalted to power and authority, and the godly are oppressed by them, things are quite out of joint: Prov. xx. 26. A righteous man falling down before the wicked, is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. Sometimes, one wicked man makes many hundreds, yea thousands, of precious saints, a sacrifice to his lust and cruelty, or to bis enmity against virtue and the truth, and puts them to death for no other reason but that for which they are especially to be esteemed and commended.
Now, if we look no further than to the present state, these things appear strange ad unaccountable. But we ought not to contine our views within such narrow limits. When God shall have put an end to the present state, these things shall all be brought to rights. Though God suffers things to be so for the present, yet they shall not proceed in this course alway; com
4. The Judge at that time will not mix mercy with justice. The time for mercy to be shown to sinners will then be past. Christ will then appear in another character than that of the merciful Saviour. Having laid aside the inviting attributes of grace and inercy, he will clothe himself with justice and vengeance He will not only, in general, exact of sinners the demands of the law, but he will exact the whole, without any abatement : be will exact the very uttermost farthing. Matt. v. 26. Then Christ will come to fulfil that in Rev. xiv, 10. “ The game shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation." The punishment threatened to ungodly men is without any pity: see Ezek. v. 11.“ Neither shall mine eye spare; neither will i have any pity." Here all judgments have a mixture of mercy; but the wrath of God will be poured out upon the wicked without mixture, and vengeance will have its full weight.
III. I shall apply myself thirdly, to several different characters of men.
1. To those who live in secret wickedness. Let such consider, that for all these things God will bring them into judgment. Secrecy is your temptation. Promising yourselves this, you practise many things, you indulge many lusts, under the covert of darkness, and in secret corners, which you would be ashamed to do in the light of the sun, and before the world. But this temptation is entirely groundless. All your secret abominations are even now perfectly known to God, and will also hereafter be made known both to angels and men. Luke xii. 2, 3. “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore what
l soever 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."
Before human judges are brought only those things which are known ; but before this judge shall be brought the most hidden things of darkness, and even the counsels of the heart, 1 Cor. iv. 5. All your secret uncleanness, all your secret fraud and injustice, all your lascivious desires, wishes, and designs, all your inward covetousness, which is idolatry, all your malicious, envious, and revengeful thoughts and purposes, whether brought forth into practice or not, shall then be made manifest, and you shall be judged according to them. Of these things, however secret, there will be need of no other evidence than the testimony of God and of your own consciences.
2. To such as are not just and upright in their dealings with their fellow men. Consider that all your dealings with men must be tried, must be brought forth into judgment, and there compared with the rules of the word of God. All your actions must be judged according to those things which are
found written in the book of the word of God. If your ways of dealing with men shall not agree with those rules of righteousness, they will be condemned. Now, the word of God directs us to practise entire justice; That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, Deut. xvi. 20. and to do to others as we would they should do to us. But how many are there, whose dealing with their fellow-men, is strictly tried by these rules, would not stand the test?
God hath in his word, forbidden all deceit and fraud in our dealings one with another, Lev. xi. 13. He hath forbidden us to oppress one another, Lev. xxv. 14. But how frequent are practices contrary to those rules, and which will not bear to be tried by them? How common are fraud and trickishness in trade? How will men endeavour to lead on those with whom they trade in the dark, that so they may make their advantage ? Yea, lying in trading is too common a thing among us.
How common are such things as that mentioned, Prov. xx. 14. It is nought, it is nought, saith the buyer; but when he is
way, Then he boasteth.
Many men will take the advantage of another's ignorance to advance their own gain, to his wrong; yea, they seem not * to scruple such practices. Beside downright lying, men have many ways of blinding and deceiving one another in trade, which are by no means right in the sight of God, and will appear to be very unjust, when they shall be tried by the rule of God's word at the day of judgment. And how common a thing is oppression or extortion, in taking any advantage that men can by any means obtain, to get the utmost possible of their neighbour' for what they have to dispose of, and their neighbour needs!
Let such consider, that there is a God in heaven, who beholds them, and sees how they conduct themselves in their daily traffic with one another; and that he will try their works another day. Justice shall assuredly take place at last. The righteous Governor of the world will not suffer injustice without control; he will control and rectify it, by returning the injury upon the head of the injurer: Matt. vii. 2. With what measure ye mele, it shall be measured to you again.
3. To those who plead for the lawfulness of practices generally condemned by God's people. You who do this, consider that your practices must be tried at the day of judgment. Consider, whether or no they are likely to be approved by the most holy judge at that day: Prov. v. 21. The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord; and he pondereth all his goings. However, by your carnal reasonings, you may deceive your own hearts, yet you will not be able to deceive the Judge, he will not hearken to your excuses, but will try your ways by the rule ; he will know whether they be straight or crooked. VOL. VI
When you plead for these and those liberties which you take, let it be considered, whether they be likely to be allowed of by the Judge at the last great day. Will they bear to be tried by his eyes, which are purer than to behold evil, and can- . not look on iniquity ?
4. To those who are wont to excuse their wickedness.Will the excuses which you make for yourselves be accepted at the day of judgment? ' If you excuse yourselves to your own consciences, by saying, that you were under such and such temptations which you could not withstand ; that corrupt nature prevailed, and you could not overcome it; that it would have been so and so to your damage, if you had done otherwise ; that if you had done such a duty, you would have brought yourselves into difficulty, would have incurred the displeasure of such and such friends, or would have been despised and laughed at; or, if you say, you did no more than it was the common custom to do, no more than many godly men have done, no more than certain persons of good reputation now practice; that if you had done otherwise, you would have been singular; if these be your excuses for the sins which you commit, or for the duties which you neglect, let me ask you, will they appear sufficient when they shall be examined at the day of judgment?
5. To those who live in impenitence and unbelief. There are some persons who live in no open vice, and, perhaps, conscientiously avoid secret immorality, who yet live in impenitence and unbelief. They are, indeed, called upon to repent and believe the gospel, to forsake their evil ways and thoughts, and to return to God, that he may have mercy on them; to come unto Christ, labouring, and heavy-laden with sin, that they may obtain rest of him; and are assured, that if they believe, they shall be saved; and that if they believe not, they shall be damned ; and all the most powerful motives are set before them, to induce them to comply with these exhortations, especially those drawn from the eternal world; yet they persist in sin, they remain impenitent and unhumbled ; they will not come unto Christ, that they may have life.
Now, such men shall be brought into judgment for their conduct, as well as more gross sinners. Nor will they be any more able to stand in the judgment than the other. They resist the most powerful means of grace; go on in sin against the elear light of the gospel ; refuse to hearken to the kindest calls and invitations; reject the most amiable Saviour, the Judge himself; and despise the free offers of eternal life, glory, and felicity. And how will they be able to answer for these things at the tribunal of Christ?
IV. If there be a day of judgment appointed, then let all be very strict in trying their own sincerity. God, on that day, will discover the secrets of all hearts. 'The judgment of that