« 前へ次へ »
to him that is mighty to save. Hence it is, that those believers who are not convinced of the deep corruption of their hearts, or but slightly, and as it were notionally convinced, have little concern about entire sanctification. They may possibly hold the opinion, that such a thing is to be, either at death, or some time, they know not when, before it. But they have no great uneasiness for the want of it, and no great hunger or thirst after it. They cannot, until they know themselves better, until they repent in the sense above described, until God unveils the inbred monster's face, and shows them the real state of their souls. Then only, when they feel the burden, will they groan for deliverance from it. Then, and not till then, will they cry out, in the agony of their soul,
6 Break off the yoke of inbred sin,
And fully set my spirit free!
Till I am wholly lost in thee !" 3. We may learn from hence, secondly, that a deep conviction of our demerit, after we are accepted, (which, in one sense, may be termed guilt,) is absolutely necessary, in order to our seeing the true value of the atoning blood ; in order to our feeling that we need this as much, after we are justified, as ever we did before. Without this conviction we cannot but account the blood of the covenant as a common thing, something of which we have not now any great need, seeing all our past sins are blotted out. Yea, but if both our hearts and lives are thus unclean, there is a kind of guilt which we are contracting every moment, and which, of consequence, would every moment expose us to fresh condemnation, but that
“ He ever lives above,
For us to intercede,
His precious blood to plead.” It is this repentance, and the faith intimately connected with it, which are expressed in those strong lines,
“I sin in every breath I draw,
On earth, as angels do above :
Till I am perfected in love." 4. We may observe, thirdly, a deep conviction of our utter helplessness, of our total inability to retain any thing we have received, much more to deliver ourselves from the world of iniquity remaining both in our hearts and lives, teaches us truly to live upon Christ by faith, not only as our Priest, but as our King. Hereby we are brought to “magnify him," indeed ; to“ give him all the glory of his grace;' to make him a whole Christ, an entire Saviour; and truly “ to set the crown upon his head.” These excellent words, as they have frequently been used, have little or no meaning; but they are fulfilled in a strong and deep sense, when we thus, as it were, go out of ourselves, in order to be swallowed up in him; when we sink into nothing, that he may be all in all. Then, his almighty grace having abolished "every high thing which exalted itself against him," every temper, and thought, and word, and work, “ is brought to the obedience of Christ."
Londonderry, April 24, 1767.
SERMON XV.-The Great Assize. Preached at the assizes held before the honourable Sir Edward Clive, knight, one of the judges of his majesty's court of common pleas, in St. Paul's church, Bedford, on Friday, March 10, 1758; published at the request of William Cole, Esq., high sheriff of the county, and others.
“ We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” Rom. xiv, 10.
1. How many circumstances concur to raise the awfulness of the present solemnity !—The general concourse of people of every age, sex, rank, and condition of life, willingly or unwillingly gathered together, not only from the neighbouring, but from distant parts; criminals, speedily to be brought forth, and having no way to escape; officers, waiting in their various posts, to execute the orders which shall be given; and the representative of our gracious sovereign, whom we so highly reverence and honour. The occasion likewise of this assembly. adds not a little to the solemnity of it: to hear and determine causes of every kind, some of which are of the most important nature; on which depends no less than life or death, death that uncovers the face of eter: nity! It was, doubtless, in order to increase the serious sense of these things, and not in the minds of the vulgar only, that the wisdom of our forefathers did not disdain to appoint even several minute circumstances of this solemnity. For these also, by means of the eye or ear, may more deeply affect the heart: and when viewed in this light, trumpets, staves, apparel, are no longer trifling or insignificant, buť subservient, in their kind and degree, to the most valuable ends of society.
2. But, as awful as this solemnity is, one far more awful is at hand. For yet a little while, and, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” “For, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” And in that day, “ every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
3. Had all men a deep sense of this, how effectually would it secure the interests of society! For what more forcible motive can be conceived to the practice of genuine morality, to a steady pursuit of solid virtue, and a uniform walking in justice, mercy, and truth? What could strengthen our hands in all that is good, and deter us from all evil, like a strong conviction of this, " The Judge standeth at the door ;” and we are shortly to stand before him ?
4. It may not therefore be improper, or unsuitable to the design of the present assembly, to consider,
I. The chief circumstances which will precede our standing before the judgment seat of Christ ::
II. The judgment itself: and,
I. Let us, in the first place, consider the chief circumstances which will precede our standing before the judgment seat of Christ.
And, 1st, “God will show signs in the earth beneath,” Acts ii, 19; particularly he will “ arise to shake terribly the earth.” “ The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage,” Isa. xxiv, 20. “There shall be earthquakes,” xoTA COTX5, (not in divers only, but) “ in all places ;' not in one only, or a few, but in
every part of the habitable world, Luke xxi, 11 ; even “ such as were not since men were upon the earth, so mighty earthquakes and so great." In one of these “every island shall flee away, and the mountains will not be found," Rev. xvi, 20. Meantime all the waters of the terraqueous globe will feel the violence of those concussions ; “the sea and waves roaring,” Luke xxi, 25, with such an agitation as had never been known before, since the hour that “the fountains of the great deep were broken up,” to destroy the earth, which then “stood out of the water and in the water.” The air will be all storm and tempest, full of dark vapours and pillars of smoke, Joel ii, 30; resounding with thunder from pole to pole, and torn with ten thousand lightnings. But the commotion will not stop in the region of the air; “ the powers of heaven also shall be shaken. There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars ;' those fixed, as well as those that move round them. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come,” Joel ii, 31. “The stars shall withdraw their shining,” yea, and “fall from heaven," Rev. vi, 13, being thrown out of their orbits. And then shall be heard the universal shout, from all the companies of heaven, followed by the “ voice of the archangel," proclaiming the approach of the Son of God and man," and the trumpet of God," sounding an alarm to all that sleep in the dust of the earth, 1 Thess. iv, 16. In consequence of this, all the graves shall open, and the bodies of men arise. The sea also shall give up the dead which are therein, Rev. xx, 13, and every one shall rise with “ his own body;" his own in substance, although so changed in its properties, as we cannot now conceive. “ For this corruptible will then] put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality," 1 Cor. xv, 53. Yea, “ death and hades,” the invisible world, shall “ deliver up the dead that are in them," Rev. xx, 13. So that all who ever lived and died, since God created man, shall be raised incorruptible and immortal.
2. At the same time, “the Son of man shall send forth his angels" over all the earth; "and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” And the Lord himself shall come with clouds, in his own glory, and the glory of his Father, with ten thousand of his saints, even myriads of angels, and shall sit upon the throne of his glory. “And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, and shall set the sheep [the good] on his right hand, and the goats (the wicked] upon the left," Matt. xxv, 33. Concerning this general assembly it is, that the beloved disciple speaks thus: “I saw the dead, sall that had been dead,] small and great, stand before God. And the books were opened, [a figurative expression, plainly referring to the manner of proceeding among men, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works,” Rev. xx, 12.
II. These are the chief circumstances which are recorded in the oracles of God, as preceding the general judgment. We are, secondly, to consider the judgment itself, so far as it hath pleased God to reveal it.
1. The person by whom God will judge the world, is his only begotten Son, whose "goings forth are from everlasting ;” “who is God over all, blessed for ever.” Unto him, being "the out-beaming of his Father's glory, the express image of his person,” Hebrews i, 3, the Father“ hath committed all judgment, because he is the Son of man;" John v, 22, 27; because, though he was " in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, yet he emptied himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;" Phil. ii, 6, 7; yea, because “ being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, syet farther,] becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him," even in his human nature, and “ ordained him," as mạn, to try the children of men, " to be the judge, both of the quick and dead;" both of those who shall be found alive at his coming, and of those who were before gathered to their fathers.
2. The time, termed by the prophet, “ The great and the terrible day,” is usually, in Scripture, styled The day of the Lord. The space from the creation of man upon the earth, to the end of all things, is the day of the sons of men ; the time that is now passing over us, is properly our day; when this is ended, the day of the Lord will begin. But who can say how long it will continue ? “ With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," 2 Pet. ïïi, 8. And from this very expression, some of the ancient fathers drew that inference, that, what is commonly called the day of judgment would be indeed a thousand years : and it seems they did not go beyond the truth; nay, probably they did not come up to it. For, if we consider the number of persons who are to be judged, and of actions which are to be inquired into, it does not appear, that a thousand years will suffice for the transactions of that day; so that it may not improbably comprise several thousand years. But God shall reveal this also in its season.
3. With regard to the place where mankind will be judged, we have no explicit account in Scripture. An eminent writer (but not he alone; many have been of the same opinion) supposes it will be on earth, where the works were done, according to which they shall be judged ; and that God will in order thereto, employ the angels of his strength,
" To smooth and lengthen out the boundless space,
And spread an area for all human race.” But perhaps it is more agreeable to our Lord's own account of his coming in the clouds, to suppose it will be above the earth, if not“ twice a planetary height.” And this supposition is not a little favoured by what St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians : “ The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who remain alive, shall be caught up together with them, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," i Thess. iv, 16, 17. So that it seems most probable, the great white throne will be high exalted above the earth.
4. The persons to be judged, who can count, any more than the drops of rain, or the sands of the sea ? “I beheld,” saith St. John, “ a great multitude, which no man can number, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” How immense then must be the total multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues ; of all that have sprung from the loins of Adam, since the world began, till time shall be no more! If we admit the common supposition, which seems no ways absurd, that the earth bears at any one time, no less than four hundred millions of living souls, men, women, and children, what a congregation must all those generations make, who have succeeded each other for seven thousand years !
6 Great Xerxes' world in arms, proud Canna's host,
They all are here; and here they all are lost.
Lost as a drop in the unbounded main.” Every man, every woman, every infant of days that ever breathed the vital air, will then hear the voice of the Son of God, and start into life, and appear before him. And this seems to be the natural import of that expression, “the dead, small and great :” all universally, all without exception, all of every age, sex or degree ; all that ever lived and died, or underwent such a change as will be equivalent with death. For long before that day, the phantom of human greatness disappears, and sinks into nothing. Even in the moment of death, that vanishes away. Who is rich or great in the grave ?
5. And every man shall there "give an account of his own works ;" yea, a full and true account of all that he ever did while in the body, whether it was good or evil. Oh what a scene will then be disclosed, in the sight of angels and men !-while not the fabled Rhadamanthus, but the Lord God Almighty, whoknoweth all things in heaven and in earth, —
“ Castigatque auditque dolos; subigitque fateri
Quæ quis apud superos, furto lætatus inani,
Distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem.”* Nor will all the actions alone of every child of man be then brought to open view, but all their words; seeing “every idle word whick men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” Matt. xii, 36, 37; so that “ by thy words," as well as works, “ thou shalt be justified : and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Will not God then bring to light every circumstance also, that accompanied every word or action, and if not altered the nature, yet lessened or increased the goodness or badness of them ? And how easy is this to Him, who is “about our bed, and about our path, and spieth out all our ways ?” We know " the darkness is no darkness to him, but the night shineth as the day.”
6. Yea, he will bring to light, not the hidden works of darkness only, but the very thoughts and intents of the heart. And what marvel ? For he “ searcheth the reins and understandeth all our thoughts.” “ All things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” “ Hell and destruction are before him without a covering. How much more the hearts of the children of men !"
7. And in that day shall be discovered every inward working of every human soul ; every appetite, passion, inclination, affection, with the various combinations of them, with every temper and disposition that constitute the whole complex character of each individual. So shall it be clearly and infallibly seen, who was righteous, and who unrighteous; and in what degree every action, or person, or character, was either good or evil.
8. “Then the King will say to them úpon his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me.” In like manner, all the good they did upon earth
* O’er these drear realms stern Rhadamanthus reigns,
In vain' Now all stand forth in hated light.