« PreviousContinue »
day will be like the fire, which burns up whatsoever is not true gold; wood, hay, stubble, and dross, shall be all consumed by the scorching fire of that day. The judge will be like a refiner's fire, and fuller's soap, which will cleanse away all filthiness, however it may be coloured over : Mal. iii. 2. may abide the day of his coming ? and who shall stand when he appeareth? . for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap;" and chap. iv. 1-" For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them
saith the Lord of hosts." There are multitudes of men, that wear the guise of saints, appear like saints, and their state, both in their own eyes, and in the eyes of their neighbours, is good. They have sheep's clothing. But no disguise can hide them from the eyes of the Judge of the world. His eyes are as a flame of fire: they search the hearts, and try the reins of the children of men. He will see whether they be sound at heart; he will see from what principles they have acted. A fair show will, in no degree, deceive him, as it doth men in the present state. It will signify nothing to say, “ Lord, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence; and in thy name have we cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works.” It will signify nothing to pretend to a great deal of comfort and joy, and to the experience of great religious affections, and to your having done many things in religion and morality, unless you have some greater evidences of sincerity.
Wherefore, let every one take heed that he be not deceived concerning himself; and that he depend not on that which will not bear examination at the day of judgment. Be not contented with this, that you have the judgment of men, the judgment of godly men, or that of ministers, in your favour. Consider, that they are not to be your judges at last. Take occasion, frequently, to compare your hearts with the word of God; that is the rule by which you are to be finally tried and judged. And try yourselves by your works, by which, also, you must be tried at last. Inquire whether you lead holy Christian lives, whether you perform universal and unconditional obedience to all God's commands, and whether you do it from a truly gracious respect to God.
Also frequently beg of God, the judge, that he would scarch you, try you now, and discover you to yourselves, that you may see if you be insincere in religion ; and that he would lead you in the way everlasting. Beg of God, that if you be not upon a good foundation, he would unsettle you, and fix you upon the sure foundation. The example of the Psalmist in this is worthy of imitation : Psal. xxvi. 1, 2. “Judge me, O Lord, examine me, and prove me; try my reins and mine heart;” and Psal. cxxxix. 23, 24. " Search me, O God, and know my heart: trv me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." God will search us hereafter, and discover what we are, both to ourselves and to all the world; let us pray that he would search us, and discover our hearts to us now. We have need of divine help in this matter; for the heart is deceitful above all things.
V. If God hath appointed a day to judge the world, let us judge and condemu ourselves for our sins. This we must do, if we would not be judged and condemned for them on that day, If we would escape condemnation, we must see that we justly may be condemned ; we must be so sensible of our vileness, and guilt, as to see that we deserve all that condemnation and punishment which are threatened ; and that we are in the hands of God, who is the sovereign disposer of us, and will do with us as seemeth to himself good. Let us therefore often reflect on our sins, confess them before God, condemn and abbor ourselves, be truly humbled, and repent in dust and ashes.
VI. If these things be so, let us by no means be forward to judge others. Some are forward to judge others, to judge their hearts both in general and upon particular occasions, to determine as to the principles, motives and ends of their actions. But this is to assume the province of God, and to set up ourselves as lords and judges. Rom. xiv. 4. “Who art thou, that thou judgest another man's servant ?" James iv. 11.
James iv. 11. “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” He that speaketh evil of his brother and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law.” To be thus disposed to judge and act censoriously towards others, is the way to be judged and condemned ourselves. Matt. vii. 1, 2. “ Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged : and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
VII. This doctrine affords matter of great consolation to the godly. This day of judgment, which is so terrible to ungodly men, affords no ground of terror to you, but abundant ground of joy and satisfaction. For though you now meet with more afAiction and trouble than most wicked men, yet on that day you shall be delivered from all afflictions, and from all trouble. If you be unjustly treated by wicked men, and abused by them, what a comfort is it to the injured, that they may appeal to God, who judgeth righteously. The Psalmist used often to comfort himself with this.
Upon these accounts the saints have reason to love the appearing of Jesus Christ. 2 Tim. iv. 8. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all those that love his appearing. This is to the saints
a blessed hope. Tit. ii. 13.
Tit. ii. 13. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This day may well be the object of their eager desire, and when they hear of Christ's coming to judgment, they may well say, Even so come, Lord Jesus. Rev. xxii. 20. It will be the most glorious day that ever the saints saw; it will be so both to those who shall die, and whose souls shall go to heaven, and to those who shall then be found alive on earth : it will be the wedding-day of the church. Surely then in the consideration of the approach of this day, there is ground of great consolation to the saints.
SELF-FLATTERIES;-OR, THE VAIN SELF-FLATTERIES
OF THE SINNER.
Psal. xxxvi. 2.
For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be
found to be hateful.
In the foregoing verse, David says, “The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes :" that is, when he saw that the wicked went on in sin, in an allowed way of wickedness, it convinced him that they were not afraid of those terrible judgments, and of that wrath with which God hath threatened sinners. "If the sinner were afraid of these, he could never go on so securely in sin as he doth.
It was a strange thing that men, who enjoyed such light as they did in the land of Israel, who read and heard those many awful threatenings which were written in the book of the law, should not be afraid to go on in sin. But, saith the Psalmist, They flatter themselves in their own eyes : they have something or other which they make a foundation of encouragement, whereby they persuade themselves that they shall escape those judgments : and that makes them put far away the evil day.
In this manner the sinner proceeds, until his iniquity be found to be hateful; that is, until he finds by experience that it is a more dreadful thing to sin against God, and break his holy commands, than he imagined. He thinks sin to be sweet, and bides it as a sweet morsel under his tongue ; he loves it
and flatters himself in it; till at length he finds by experience, that it is bitter as gall and wormwood. Though he thinks the commission of sin to be lovely, yet he will find the fruit of it to be hateful, and what he cannot endure. Prov. xxüi. 32. "At last it will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder.”
Here observe, the subject spoken of is the wicked man, of whom the Psalmist had been speaking in the foregoing verse. His action in flattering himself in his own eyes ; i. e. he makes himself and his case to appear to himself, or in his own eyes, better than it is.
How long he continues so to do, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. Which may be taken for, either his sin itself, aš the wicked will see how odious sin is to God, when he shall feel the effects of his hatred, and how hateful to angels and saints ; or rather, the cause is here put for the effect, the tree for its fruit, and he will find his iniquity to be hateful, as he will find the hatefulness and feel the terribleness of the fruit of his iniquity. Hence it appears, that Wicked men generally flatter themselves with hopes of escaping punishment, till it actually comes upon them.
There are but few sinners who despair, who give up the cause, and conclude within themselves, that they shall go to hell; yet there are but few who do not go to hell. It is to be feared that men go to hell every day out of this country; yet very few of them suffer themselves to believe, that they are in any great danger of that punishment. They go on sinning, and thus travelling in the direct road to the pit; yet they persuade themselves that they shall never fall into it.
Sinners flatter themselves with the hope of impunity.
We are so taught in the word of God, Deut. xxix. 18, 19. “ Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God.
Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, and it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” Where it is supposed, that they wbose bearts turn away from God, and are roots that bear gall and wormwood, generally bless themselves in their hearts, saying, We shall have peace.
See also Psalm xlix, 17, 18. “When he dieth, he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him, though, whilst he lived, he blessed his soul.” And Psalm 1. 21. " These things thou hast done, and I kept silence; thou