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speedily come to be your Judge.—You who profess the gospel, be advised and persuaded to examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith : look well to it that your evidences of conversion are clear and decisive; for that day, of which we speak, will detect multitudes of self-deceivers, as well as unmask many artful hypocrites. And if you are conscious of following the Lord with an upright heart; take heed that you do not slacken your diligence, or yield to unwatchfulness : “ Let
your loins be girded and your lights burning ;
and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for “their Lord:” for blessed are those servants whom “ the Lord when he cometh shall find watching; “ verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, " and make them to sit down to meat, and will come “ forth and serve them'.” “ Therefore, my be“ loved brethren, be ye stedfast and unmoveable, “always abounding in the work of the Lord : for
as much as ye know that your labour is not in “ vain in the Lord."
IV ho will render to every man according to his deeds:
to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality; eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath ; tribulation and
anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. In meditating on the solemnities, discoveries, and consequences of that great decisive day, when the Lord shall come to be our Judge; we were obliged to pass over in a general manner, several important particulars relative to the subject : and especially we reserved for a separate discourse, the consideration of the manner, in which all men will be judged according to their works, and receive according to what they have done, whether it be good or evil. The present will therefore be an appendix to the preceding discourse, as intended to illustrate its interesting truths, and to render
them more perspicuous and impressive. In the passage before us, the apostle does not undertake to decide a controverted point of doctrine, to state the method of a sinner’s justification, or to account for that difference of character which actually subsists among the descendants of fallen Adam. These subjects he has fully discussed in other parts of his writings: but here he takes occasion from his subject to shew, that the opposite conduct of the righteous and the wicked will terminate in future happiness or misery. He considers some persons more favoured by providence than others, as the Jews had every way the advantage of the gentiles : but he intimates that they generally abused those advantages to their deeper condemnation :
Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and “ forbearance, and long suffering, not knowing " that the goodness of God leadeth thee to re" pentance?” The more kind, patient, and merciful the Lord is, the baser our rebellion and ingratitude must appear, the greater cause have we to repent, and the more abundant motives and encouragements. But if men presume on his lenity, supposing that he will not or cannot punish, and so encourage themselves in sin, they “ despise the “ riches of his goodness and mercy;" and “ after their hardness and impenitent heart, trea“sure up to themselves wrath, against the day of “ wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment “ of God, who will render to every man according
to his deeds.” The treasures, which they, perhaps covetously and dishonestly, accumulate on earth, must be left to their survivors: but the vast accessions, which they daily make to their load of guilt, and the heavy wrath of God against then, are laid up for themselves, to be their future and eternal portion. For at the great day of righteous retribution, God “will render unto every
man according to his deeds: to them who by
patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, " and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but “ unto them that are contentious, and do not obey " the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation “and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every "soul of man that doeth evil."--In discoursing on these words, I shall endeavour,
1. To describe more fully the two characters contrasted by the apostle, and to shew the doom reserved for each.
II. Compare the statement thus made with several other important scriptures, which may serve to elucidate and confirm it.
III. Explain more precisely the rule of judgment, as delivered in the sacred oracles : .and
IV. Make some particular application of the subject.
1. Then I shall endeavour to describe more fully the two characters contrasted by the apostle, and to shew the doom reserved for each.
The apostle's reasoning throughout this whole epistle proves, that he was speaking of sinners under a dispensation of mercy. He therefore considers a man, thus circumstanced, proposing to hiniself the acquisition of glory, and honour, and immortality. Such a purpose must imply a belief of the scriptural doctrine, concerning the perfections and government of God, the immortality of the soul, and a future state of righteous retribution: with a persuasion that eternal happiness is attainable even by sinners, in the way which the Lord hath revealed. At the same time the man is convinced, that the blessing must be sought with diligence and self-denial, and that it ought to be preferred before all other objects whatever. Thus, while “there be many that say, Who will shew us
any good,”-“seeking every man his gain from “ his quarter,” pursuing worldly pleasures, honours, and distinctions, or wasting their lives in sloth and dissipation; he “seeks first the kingdom “ of God and his righteousness,” and “labours “ for the meat which endureth unto everlasting
He is now become a candidate for glory, and honour, and immortality:” and nothing, inferior to an endless inheritance and unfading joys, can satisfy the vast desires of his