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a scene will then be disclosed, in the sight of angels and men!-while not the fabled Rhadamanthus, but the Lord God Almighty, who knoweth all things in heaven and in earth,"Castigatque auditque dolos; subigitque fateri Quæ quis apud superos, furto lætatus inani,
Distulit in seram commnissa 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 which 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 upon 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
* O'er these drear realms stern Rhadamanthus reigns,
To own the crimes, long veil'd from human sight:
stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me." In like manner, all the good they did upon earth will be recited before men and angels; whatsoever they had done, either in word or deed, in the name, or for the sake, of the Lord Jesus. All their good desires, intentions, thoughts, all their holy dispositions, will also be then remembered; and it will appear, that though they were unknown or forgotten among men, yet God noted them in his book. All their sufferings likewise for the name of Jesus, and for the testimony of a good conscience, will be displayed, unto their praise from the righteous Judge, their honour before saints and angels, and the increase of that "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
9. But will their evil deeds too, (since, if we take in his whole life, there is not a man on earth that liveth and sinneth not,) will these be remembered in that day, and mentioned in the great congregation? Many believe they will not; and ask, "Would not this imply, that their sufferings were not at an end, even when life ended?-seeing they would still have sorrow, and shame, and confusion of face to endure." They ask farther, "How can this be reconciled with God's declaration by the Prophet, 'If the wicked, will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right; all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be once mentioned unto him.' (Ezek. xviii. 21, 22.) How is it consistent with the promise which God has made to all who accept of the Gospel-covenant, I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sin no more?' (Jer. xxxi. 34.) Or, as the Apostle expresses it, I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more?'" (Heb. viii. 12.)
10. It may be answered, It is apparently and absolutely necessary, for the full display of the glory of God; for the clear and perfect manifestation of his Wisdom, Justice, Power, and Mercy, toward the heirs of salvation; that all the circumstances of their life should be placed in open view, together with all their tempers, and all the desires, thoughts, and intents of their hearts: otherwise, how would it appear out of what a depth of sin and misery the grace of God had delivered them? And, indeed, if the whole lives of all the children of men were not manifestly discovered, the whole
amazing contexture of Divine Providence could not be mani fested; nor should we yet be able, in a thousand instances, "to justify the ways of God to man." Unless our Lord's words were fulfilled in their utmost sense, without any restriction or limitation, "There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, or hid that shall not be known;" (Matt.x. 26 ;) abundance of God's dispensations under the sun would still appear without their reasons. And then only when God hath brought to light all the hidden things of darkness, whosoever were the actors therein, will it be seen that wise and good were all his ways; that he saw through the thick cloud, and governed all things by the wise counsel of his own Will; that nothing was left to chance or the caprice of men, but God disposed all strongly and sweetly, and wrought all into one connected chain of justice, mercy, and truth.
11. And in the discovery of the divine perfections, the righteous will rejoice with joy unspeakable; far from feeling any painful sorrow or shame, for any of those past transgressions which were long since blotted out as a cloud, washed away by the blood of the Lamb. It will be abundantly sufficient for them, that all the transgressions which they had committed, shall not be once mentioned unto them, to their disadvantage; that their sins, and transgressions, and iniquities shall be remembered no more, to their condemnation. This is the plain meaning of the promise; and this all the children of God shall find true, to their everlasting comfort.
12. After the Righteous are judged, the King will turn to them upon his left hand, and they shall also be judged, every man according to his works. But not only their outward works will be brought into the account, but all the evil words which they have ever spoken; yea, all the evil desires, affections, tempers, which have, or have had, a place in their souls; and all the evil thoughts or designs which were ever cherished in their hearts. The joyful sentence of acquittal will then be pronounced upon those on the right hand;
the dreadful sentence of condemnation upon those on the left; both of which must remain fixed and unmoveable as the Throne of God.
III. 1. We may, in the Third place, consider a few of the Circumstances which will follow the General Judgment. And the first is the execution of the sentence pronounced on the evil and on the good: "These shall go away into eternal
punishment, and the righteous into life eternal." It should be observed, it is the very same word which is used, both in the former and the latter clause: it follows, that either the punishment lasts for ever, or the reward too will come to an end:-No, never, unless God could come to an end, or his mercy and truth could fail. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father," "and shall drink of those rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand for evermore." But here all description falls short: all human language fails! Only one who is caught up into the third heaven can have a just conception of it. But even such a one cannot express what he hath seen these things it is not possible for man to utter.
The wicked, meantime, shall be turned into hell, even all the people that forget God. They will be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." They will be "cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone," originally "prepared for the Devil and his angels ;" where they will gnaw their tongues for anguish and pain, they will curse God and look upward. There the dogs of hell, pride, malice, revenge, rage, horror, despair, continually devour them. There "they have no rest, day or night, but the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever!" For "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
2. Then the heavens will be shrivelled up as a parchment scroll, and pass away with a great noise: they will "flee from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne, and there will be found no place for them." (Rev. xx. 11.) The very manner of their passing away is disclosed to us by the Apostle Peter: "In the day of God, the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved." (2 Pet. iii. 12.) The whole beautiful fabric will be overthrown by that raging element, the connection of all its parts destroyed, and every atom torn asunder from the others. By the same, "The earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (Ver. 10.) The enormous works of nature, the everlasting hills, mountains that have defied the rage of time, and stood unmoved so many thousand years, will sink down in fiery ruin. How much less will the works of art, though of the most durable kind, the utmost effort of human industry,-tombs, pillars, triumphal arches, castles, pyramids,-be able to withstand the
flaming conqueror! All, all will die, perish, vanish away, like a dream when one awaketh!
3. It has indeed been imagined by some great and good men, that as it requires that same Almighty Power to annihilate things as to create; to speak into nothing or out of nothing; so no part of, no atom in, the universe, will be totally or finally destroyed. Rather, they suppose, that, as the last operation of fire, which we have yet been able to observe, is to reduce into glass what, by a smaller force, it had reduced to ashes; so, in the day God hath ordained, the whole earth, if not the material heavens also, will undergo this change, after which the fire can have no farther power over them. And they believe this is intimated by that expression in the Revelation made to St. John, "Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto crystal." (Rev. iv. 6.) We cannot now either affirm or deny this; but we shall know hereafter.
4. If it be inquired by the Scoffers, the Minute Philosophers, How can these things be? Whence should come such an immense quanity of fire as would consume the heavens and the whole terraqueous globe? We would beg leave, first, to remind them, that this difficulty is not peculiar to the Christian system. The same opinion almost universally obtained among the unbigoted heathens. So one of those celebrated free-thinkers speaks, according to the generally received sentiment :
"Esse quoque in fatis reminiscitur, affore tempus,
Ardeat, et mundi moles operosa laboret.”
But, secondly, it is easy to answer, even from our slight and superficial acquaintance with natural things, that there are abundant magazines of fire ready prepared, and treasured up against the Day of the Lord. How soon may a comet, commissioned by him, travel down from the most distant parts of the universe! And were it to fix upon the earth, in its return from the sun, when it is some thousand times hotter than a red-hot cannon-ball; who does not see what must be the immediate consequence? But, not to ascend so high as the ethereal heavens, might not the same lightnings which "give shine to the world," if commanded by the Lord of Nature, give ruin and utter destruction? Or, to go no farther than the globe itself; who knows what