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“ Hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious; hath he in anger shut his tender mercies?” But this state of things shall not always continue. The triumph of the wicked is but for a moment. He shall not stand in the judgment, nor appear in the congregation of the righteous. The workers of iniquity have no fellowship with God. This shall be the day of complete redemption to all the servants of God; their broken hearts shall then be healed-their trials and afflictions be forgotten—their tears wiped away; they have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and they shall then be admitted to glory, honour, and immortality.
But now, as at the beginning, some are disposed to demand, What assurance have we that all these things shall be fulfilled ? To this it might be answered, that the moral economy of the universe requires it. Men are not in this world dealt with according to their works; and if this present scene constituted the beginning and end of man, we should be forced to admit that the ways of the Lord are unequal; whence, we have reason to believe, that a state of retribution is awaiting the human family, when all the inequalities of the present scene will be adjusted, and an eternal separation made between those who fear God, and those who disregard his law. It might also be argued, that our natural feeling of dependence on God, and accountableness to him, is an undoubted evidence, that he will one day call us before him in judgment; and when we feel that conscience summons us to the bar which God has erected in every man's bosom, sits in judgment on our actions, and with the authority of a judge approves and condemns, and even now awards remorse to those who disregard the intimations given them of the will of God; and love, peace, and joy, to those, who, by a patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality,we have certainly sufficient reason to believe, that God will one day publicly approve and confirm the sentences of this inward, this universal judge.
This day of final decision may still be at a great distance. Thousands of years may elapse, unnumbered generations may pass away, ere the mystery of God be finished, the great white throne be erected, and the archangel's voice be heard, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.” But this great, this all-important event, is determined in the counsels of the Eternal; the commission has been issued by him who cannot lie, and shall, undoubtedly, be accomplished. With him “ a thousand years are as one day, and one day is as a thousand years." God shall judge the world; he shall “ judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.”
How infinitely important is this event to all! It is not one tribe, one nation, one order of men, to whom it refers; it is the world that is to be judged; every individual, whatever his rank or condition in life, whether high or low, rich or poor, the friend or the enemy of God. The kings of the earth shall not, on that day, escape the judgment of God on account of their greatness ; nor shall the meanest of their subjects then pass unnoticed. All mere worldly distinctions shall be disregarded by the Judge, for there is no respect of persons with him. None of the family of Adam shall be absent; those who lived in the remotest periods of antiquity shall mingle with those who shall then be alive upon the earth, and who shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The man who died full of years and honour, and matured in knowledge and holiness, shall appear along with the babe, who, in one short step, finished the journey of life. Tribes of the earth, most remote from one another in situation, and most dissimilar in colour, customs, and habits, shall then be gathered into one vast assembly; - For we must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ.”
This judgment shall extend to all our actions ; darkness hideth not from him; he setteth our most secret thoughts in the light of his countenance ; we can neither deceive him by our duplicity, nor overcome or bias his decisions. The conduct of every individual shall be examined, the sins he has committed, -the blessings he has received,--the means of grace he has enjoyed,—the opportunities he has neglected,- the warnings which have been given him, by the word of God, by the ministers of reconciliation, by the providential dispensations of God. Those who have not had a clear revelation of the will of God made to them, shall be judged by the opportunities they have had of becoming acquainted with that will—by the law " written in their hearts.” He that knew not his Lord's will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. But those who have had mercy offered to them, who have had their Lord's will made known to them in a well-accredited revelation, and have not listened to it, shall be beaten with many stripes. The rewards bestowed, and the punishments inflicted, shall all be in exact accordance with truth and righteousness. The rewards conferred on the righteous shall not be of debt, but of grace. The punish
ments of the wicked shall not only be according to truth and justice, but shall be clearly seen to be so ; for in that day, all the mysterious dispensations of Providence, and apparent inequalities of God's moral government, shall be fully vindicated, and the benevolent Creator shall then appear, to a whole intelligent universe, as glorious in holiness as he is infinite in power.
In that day what will all worldly consideration avail us ? Our place in society, our poverty, our affluence, the opinion which men entertain of us,—all will weigh less in our estimation than the dust upon the balance; for God shall then be seen to be all in all, and an interest in his favour the only object now worthy of our energies and affection.
We are informed not only that God shall judge the world in righteousness, but that he shall judge it “ by that man whom he hath ordained ;" and doubtless He can be no other than Jehovah's fellow, the man of his right hand, for none else is judge but God. The highest created intelligence could not sustain the dignity of the tribunal of the universe, nor judge the secrets of all hearts. But Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, is equal to the high appointment, for He and His Father are one. The appointment of Christ, to be the judge of the quick and the dead, proves the divinity of his person, as well as the perfection of his mediatorial work; proves that he is the mighty God, the everlasting Father, as truly as that he is the Child born, the Son given, the meek and lowly Redeemer of mankind, When on earth, clothed with our nature, he tenderly invited sinners to come to him; he beheld the devoted city of Jerusalem and wept over it; he meekly endured the insults of his enemies, stood as a criminal at the bar of Pilate, was arrayed in the robes of mock royalty, and heard his brethren, according to the flesh, demand his crucifixion ; and when they had gratified their malice by nailing him to the cross, he prayed for his murderers, and endured the punishment due to our sins, till he could say, “ It is finished.” And shall he, who thus humbled himself, be exalted to the throne of universal dominion ? Assuredly he shall, for God hath committed all judgment to his Son. Now, by his Spirit, he strives with sinners; by his servants, he affectionately invites them still to come to him ; they, in God's name pray sinners to be reconciled to him. But then, he shall cease to appear in the character of a suffering Saviour; he shall no more entreat men by his Spirit and his word; he shall then sum up the present dispensation, issue the awful mandate that time shall be no longer, ascend the throne of eternal justice, and award to angels and to men, their final destinies. In the days of his long-suffering, patience, and forbearance, the glories of his grace and mercy have been displayed towards sinners; then shall he display the glory of his justice and power. Sin will then be seen to be as evil and as odious as the word of God has declared it to be; and death, even death eternal, shall be awarded as its just recompense. Impenitent beings will then be convinced, that their guilt and their ruin are derived from themselves, and that the just and proper wages of sin, is everlasting destruction from the presence of God, and from the glory of
The redemption of man through the substitution, obedience, and atonement of Christ, is every where in Scripturé represented as the chief of the works of God; but though Christ humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, he at all times asserted his Divinity, he foretold his resurrection; and, in the lowest depth of humiliation, he announced himself as the destined Judge of the universe. This being the case, the resurrection of Christ is a full, clear, and convincing proof of his being the appointed Judge of the world ; for had Christ not been what he declared himself to be, the eternal Son of God, the Creator of the universe, the supreme and ultimate Judge of angels and men, God would not have raised him from the dead. But we have the fullest evidence that he did not leave his soul in the state of the dead, that he did not suffer his Holy One to see corruption. And, therefore, this great event, which has been the object of faith, and hope, and joy, to all the followers of Christ, is also the most satisfactory evidence, that, at the appointed period, the Divine Redeemer shall raise from their graves the whole human race; that he shall separate them as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats; that he shall pronounce the irreversible sentence of acquittal or of condemnation ; finish the present dispensation of God's moral government, establish the everlasting kingdom of holiness and peace, and reign in uncreated glory over the nations of the blest, for ever and ever.
What consolation is it to the followers of Christ, that he, who is their kinsman and Redeemer, and who is still touched with the feeling of their infirmities, is appointed to be the Judge of the world! that he, who intercedes in their behalf before the eternal throne, and who obtains every necessary blessing for them, has, as the reward of his obedience unto death, in their room, been exalted to the right hand of power ; that they have contemplated him as a beseeching, suffering, bleeding, dying Saviour, before they have been called to behold him as a just and omnipotent Judge; that in him the uncreated glories of Divinity are blended with the loveliest attributes of perfected humanity ; that even in the midst of the throne, he appears as the Lamb that had been slain, bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh; and that when he shall appear to judge the world, they shall, according to his promise, “ see him as he is,” and be made like unto him in his glory.
Since Christ is the appointed Judge of the world, what reason there is for the wicked to be afraid ! Already he is invested with authority and power sufficient to crush all his enemies; and often has he visited them with signal destruction. Tremble, then, before him, all ye who disregard his law, all ye persecutors of his people, all ye neglecters and despisers of his salvation; and, ere he ascend the throne of judgment, ere the decree be gone forth, let each fall prostrate at the footstool of his mercy, and implore that forgiveness which was never sought in vain. “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Accept of Him now as thy Saviour, and thou shalt find favour of Him in that day.
Shall the world, then, be judged in righteousness, by Christ Jesus, - What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!" Shall we then be tried and judged ? and ought we not now to examine and try ourselves, to scrutinize every motive by which we are actuated, to view all things in relation to this great, this final event? yea, to consider ourselves always as on the very brink of eternity, as in the immediate vicinity of the judgment-seat, as ready to be summoned every moment to our great audit, and to have our eternal destiny awarded us, either in the world of perdition, among the enemies of God and holiness, or in his presence, where there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand, where there are unfading pleasures for evermore?
Ought not such awful, such pleasing prospects, to animate and cheer us in the paths of obedience and duty, to warn and fortify us in the hour of temptation and trial, to be our safeguard against the seductions of sinful pleasure, and our joy and consolation amidst the reproaches and persecutions of a present world ? Yet a little while, and the trials of the Christian shall for ever cease. He shall lift