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the body by joints and bands, having nourishment minis tered and being knit together increaseth with the increase of God,” (Col. ii. 18, 19,)—then, on the other hand, he may feel some apprehension, lest his suffering at present be more for evil than for good, and for ruin than for sal. vation“ in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” (Rom. ii. 16.) For
2. It is to a future Judgment that the most anxious attention is directed by all ; except by persons of the several sorts that I shall have occasion to notice hereafter. And good reason have we all to be anxious about it, to fall on our knees, and exclaim with the Psalmist, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified: ” (Ps. cxliii. 2 :) thinking with ourselves, however we may come off in the irreversible sentence by which our prospects shall be decided for ever, and an eternity of happiness or woe thenceforward await us. “ Therefore be ye also ready," (Matt. xxiv. 44,) says Christ. The certain exposure of their thoughts, words and deeds on that dreadful day before his solemn tribunal and in the presence of his boundless court, should operate very forcibly on all who have a becoming regard for their own reputation and comfort; as the greatest infamy that can befall us here is light, compared with that which may overtake us hereafter. And if we wish to avoid then so dreadful a shock to our self-love, as well as more substantial penalties, we should be no less particular now in our private conduct than in our most public actions; but rather more, never doing that in secret which we dare not arow in public. For if we dare not avow any action before our fellow-mortals, how shall we dare to avow it before that immortal assembly? · For God's grand review and future judgment on mankind will be like that which a leader passes on his troops at the end of a campaign; “ like unto a certain king which would take account of his servants:" (Matt. xviii. 23:) or, if a more humble, but not less applicable comparison may be adduced with these ;-like the judgment which a banker passes on the coin that is brought in to him, with a 'Tis not weight: “ Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin :" (Dan: v. 25 :) every man being judged by weight, and his. sentence declared accordingly. But the best of us would not venture to tell the Deity with virtuous Job, since we have seen another and wiser pattern of perfection,“ Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.” (Job. xxxi. 6.)
Our Saviour also compares the last judgment to a selection of fishes from a net: he says, “ Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind : which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” (Matt. xiii. 47, 48.) The fish therefore that were previously buddled together so promiscuously are now scaltered widely enough by the sorting angels, and the moral is evident from Christian Modes.
OUR FUTURE FATE, THOUGH DECIDED BY OUR PRESENT ACTIONS OR INTENTIONS, WILL DEPEND ON THE SPIRIT FROM WHICH SUCH ACTIONS OR INTENTIONS FLOW, AND OF WHICH THEY ARE EVIDENCES.
For example; a man has been guilty in his lifetime of many cruel, arbitrary and tyrannical actions : which being proved before the heavenly court of assessors, it will there:upon be decided, that such a man is one of this spirit; namely, cruel, arbitrary and tyrannical. This spirit is his ruling principle, by this spirit he has been directed through life ; by this spirit he is still directed: to it therefore let him go. And let any one figure to himself a spirit of this kind-cruel, arbitrary and tyrannical, embodied in a visible form. How much more horrid than an animal with cloven feet and fiery eyes and other oddities, as the devil is generally represented !--He comes to claim his property,the man of a cruel, arbitrary and tyrannical spirit: have him he will; there is no denial. And now let any one figure to himself again the state of that unhappy wretch only on being adjudged to the spirit he has chosen all his life, and worshipped as it had been a patron-saint. How will he shiver and shriek when the frightful monster approaches to receive him, and he is delivered by the holy angels, God's ministers, at his command; to be dealt with according to law : doomed to see the embodied charms of Christ no more : but one that is all deformity,—as ugly as sin, as appalling as cruelty, as formidable as tyranny and oppression : leaving behind, or being left by all that was kind, equitable and unassuming in the circle of his human acquaintance, however near they may have been, any ot them, to him!
For it is not men's proximity by nature or station, that will assimilate their fortunes at the last day: they will then be sorted by the messengers of the Almighty like flocks of wool, so that not two of them scarcely shall be left together as they were. “ Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left : two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left.” (Matt. xxiv. 40, 41.) Meaning that some shall be accepted, and others refused: but not always, we may presume, in an equal proportion. For when the account is laid open and spread before our righteous Judge in that dreadful day, he will rather be likely, considering “ the few that be saved," to pronounce on looking it over at the rate mentioned by Solomon, “ Behold this have I found, counting one by one, to find out the account: which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found :" (Eccles. vii. 27, 28.) And who can persuade himself, that he is One of a thousand ? or that he ever may be? One of the apostles says, indeed, “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God:” (John I. iii. 21.) But that can only be said with regard to the present: with regard to the future reckoning it must be otherwise. “For (says another apostle: and he must have been particularly fortunate) I know no
thing by myself: yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come; who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts : and then shall every man have praise of God” (Cor. I. iv. 4, 5.) A man may be encouraged on his journey through life continually by a sense of good intention--by conscious integrity-by an uncondemning heart. “But let every man take heed, how he buildeth thereon. Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is :” (Ib. iii. 10. 13.) And, to shew briefly the difference between the two species of divine judgment, present and future, now considered, in this respect : it would seem as if one of them was displayed every moment in the acceptation and consequence of every act; the other, in a single summing up, with one solemn declaration : in which God be merciful to us : for we have no other dependence besides his mercy for that solemn day! And now, looking to that side of our argument, as far as one part of it may be opposed to another, or, as it may be, mercy to judgment, let us observe
§ 2. Some particulars of divine mercy similarly related and divided with its counterpart, as before proposed. And this will give a division of the process into two principal parts or species; 1, present mercy ; 2, future -—; answering to the present and future judgment.
1. Of the present mercy of God I am sorry to say, our having is freer than our feeling and perception: we have it daily and hourly; but perceive it only now and then, and in some very singular demonstration : so that we can hardly be said to enjoy it. For as “the Lord is loving unto every man: and his mercy is over all his works;” (Ps. cxlv. 9 ;) so there is no respect or particular in which his mercy may not be, or is not, exercised towards any of them. As“ he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on
the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust," so it comes of his mercy alone, that there are any just and good left. “ It is of the Lord's mercies, that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.--For the Lord will not cast off for ever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.” (Lam. iii. 22, 31, 32.) And his mercies might be seen in the occurrences that befall us daily, if we had but the inclination and ability to discern them; and in what he supplies as well as in what he ordains. Our daily meal is as much an instance of divine mercy, as the kind providence by which we are still enabled to sit down to it without fear and rise up again * with satisfaction when we do ; sitting (as it is said) " every man under his vine and under his fig-tree,” without fear of any. (Mic. iv. 4.) For that is more than every one is allowed eren of those who own the means: there being, as the wise man observes, and others may have witnessed,“ an evit under the sun and common among inen : a man to whom God bath given riches, wealth and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and an evil disease.” (Eccles. vi. 1, 2.) In this respect God's mercy will seem as inportant in the ordering as in the supply of his bounties. But generally, when we speak of his present mercies, we rather allude to the extraordinary interposition of a kind Providence in our behalf: and if a man could think it worth while to keep a register of such PROVIDENCES, he might find only in those which come to his knowledge a sufficient memorial of his
* In the old form of grace at meat, which I learned of my father, and he perhaps of his, this merciful enjoyment is very neatly implored and acknow. ledged : as for example, (Before meat) “With what we are going to re. ceive, the Lord make us truly thankful :" and (after meat) “ For this and all his mercies God's holy name be praised.” And when the honest swains used to follow up their quaint and pious invocation with as hasty and hearty a repast, it might remind one of the patriarch Isaac in his younger days, when by the direction of Providence he was able to find venison in a trice both for himself and the boys.