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proceeds to quote some more scripture on the other side, such as the following; - The willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land, but if rebel
ye shall be devoured with the sword, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Wo unto the wicked! it shall be ill with himn ; for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels
, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good, or bad." As it is perfectly evident that these last quoted passages do not indicate that men are justified without good works, but in consequence of them, the dispute stands exactly as it did when it began, and where it must stand until these disputants come to a determination to understand particular passages of the scriptures according to the particular subjects to which they respectively belong.
All those passages, which speak of judging and rewarding men according to their works have their true and just application to that divine economy in which our heavenly Father administers to his moral offspring that discipline which grows from his love and faithfulness and which our imperfection requires.
On the other hand, all those passages which speak of the abundant grace of God, of his great love to sinners, of his saving us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given unto us in Christ Jesus before the world began, have their true and just application to that divinely gracious economy of the Father of our spirits, in which he has made ample provisions for the spiritual and eternal welfare of all mankind. And if we are careful
to keep the different subjects of which the scriptures treat, as distinct from each other as the divine testimony requires, we shall never apply the passage under consideration to the immortal state of man, nor is it believed by your servant, that any other passage can be found, which speaks of rewarding men for their good works, and of punishing others for evil works, which can, with the least color of propriety be applied to the state of man when this mortal shall have put on immortality, and this corruptible incorruption.
To pretend that it is not convenient or proper for men to be rewarded in this world according to their works here, is more absurd than it would be to argue, that it is not convenient or proper for children to receive rewards of merit, and chastisements for disobedience at the school where they receive their education. And to contend that all the good works, and all the evil works done in this mortal state are to be judged and recompensed in the eternal world, is a thousand times more unreasonable than it would be for a parent of vast wealth to go to the school master who educated his children and get a particular account of every thing his children did while at school, and then proceed to make his last will and testament according to that account.
To conclude, while our text assures us, that good works will never go unrewarded, nor evil works unrecompensed, it by no means intrudes on the eternal inheritance given us in Christ Jesus before the world began ; nor does it in any way contradict the testimony, that s6
as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
In this short book of the prophecy of Zephaniah there is much said on the subject of the sins of various nations, and of the sore punishments which the divine ruler had seen fit to execute upon them for their correction, and as an admonition to his chosen people, the Jews.
The design of the judgments of God is most clearly expressed in the following, recorded in our context: “Therefore, wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I shall rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all
for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all
the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
The account here given by the prophet, concerning the indignation and fierce anger of the Lord, is of a very different nature from the account of the same subject, which is current in our times. The divine indignation or anger according to our christian doctors, is totally unmerciful; and those on whom it is fully and completely executed, no more than begin to feel its horrors in this world, but are duly prepared by an astonishing miracle, to endure the fierceness of its burning forever in the eternal world. In the days of divine inspiration and prophecy, when men "spake as
they were moveď by the Holy Ghost," no such horrible sentiments were held up to the people. Then the desolation of cities, the captivity of their inhabitants, plagues, farines, and pestilences were among the usual denunciations of the judgments of God; but now, nothing that can be suffered in this world seems to answer the purpose; and our wise men pretend to know the particulars of the eternal world much better than of this, and speak of the horrors of future condemnation, and of the indignation of the Lord in that state, without the smallest hesitation. Whether they are correct, or the inspired prophets, we are at liberty to judge for ourselves. It is a plain fact that their accounts differ, and that as widely as day from night.
According to the prophet in the passage just cited, the indignation, even all the fierce anger of the Lord is poured out on the whole earth. Nothing is said of reserving any for a future state. And what is worthy of special notice is, after all this fierce anger of the Lord is poured out on the people, and the whole earth is devoured with the fire of his jealousy, God says, " then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, and serve him with one consent.” So that the very same people who suffer all God's fierce anger, are thereby prepared to learn a pure language in which they shall all call on the name of the Lord, with dispositions and hearts to serve him.
As consequences resulting to the house of Israel, from the execution of the divine indignation, the following is recorded by the prophet; " In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me; for then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride; and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel ; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, Odaughter of Jerusalem.
The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy; the King of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shall not see evil any more.
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he wiil save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing.”
In this most interesting representation we are led to contemplate the happy issue of the judgments of God, even all his fierce anger, in the salvation of his people, in their rest and joy. Even God himself is represented as rejoicing over them with joy, and as finding rest in his love toward them.
In order that one may rest in love the following particulars seem to be necessary.
I. Love must be holy and all its desires righteous. And,
II. The desires of love must all be accomplished in their fullest extent.
To a moral being an unholy love and unlawful desires are a source of inquietude, and the more such love and desires are indulged the greater is the infelicity occasioned by them. But the contrary is the effect of a holy love and of righteous and lawful desires. The more they are indulged the greater is the satisfaction, and the more perfect that rest which tesults from such indulgence. The love of our heavenly Father toward his offspring is a holy love, and all its desires are lawful and right. It is the holiness of love and the lawfulness of its desires which justifies all the means which are necessary to carry these desires into effect.
This subject may be represented by the love of parents toward their children.
The parental love is lawful and all its desires are righteous. It looks on children with strong desires for their improvement and happiness. If they are disobedient, love desires their reformation ; and it is the purity of this love and the righteousness of its desires that justify those rebukes, warnings, and chastisements which are necessary for the bringing of the disobedient to submit to those wholesome precepts which are alone designed for their benefit. Take away this parental love, and remove