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SECTION VII. OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT.
• The Son of man shall come in his glory; and before him shall be gathered all
We have already had occasion to remark that the resurrection of the dead will not take place as a final event; that it stands in the relation of means to an end, and that end, the general judgment, with its eternal awards. Even * Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of that day, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all.' And Solomon, when, in the capacity of a preacher, he looked round the universe for the strongest motive to holy obedience-the motive which should render it unnecessary to seek another -took it from the prospect of a judgment to come; ' Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of
For God shall bring every work into judgment, , with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
He who sees the end from the beginning,' has imparted to man a subordinate prescience of the same comprehensive kind, has sketched on his mind an outline of the great system of providence, and filled him with presentiments of the principal events which are to attend the developement of that system. The consequence is, that wherever the Bible comes, it finds our nature preconfigured to many of its truths, waiting for an interpreter, and ready to respond to the truth of many a prediction, as a prophecy, or an
ticipation with which it had long been familiar in thought, and for which it only wanted divine authentication and a name in order to regard it as a solemn reality. Indeed, in this respect, the work of God only resembles his word; for as in his word, he has often disclosed the infinite affluence of his mind by revealing, with all the simplicity of apparent unconsciousness, an eternal principle in a passing word; an infinite project in an incidental allusion; so, in the construction of the human mind, he has traced on it characters and imagery which can only be read by the light of eternity; thrown on it the unsteady shadows of objects which stand yet far distant on the plains of futurity. Of these pre-intimations we know of none more deeply iulaid in the mind than that of future retribution. That the ancient saints lived in the faith of it we know: for the spirit of inspiration has recorded the very words in which, in the prospect of that day, they triumphed over their persecutors, and sang of the joy that would crown them in '.' the day of the Lord. And, relying on the uniformity and immutability of the human constitution, we may safely infer that ancient sinners anticipated it also. There were moments when they possessed the warning of its approach in the restless apprehensions of their own breasts; moments when the fires of that day seemed to rise up in the distant horizon, and to cast a lurid glare on the face of their startled and trembling conscience; when the mention of such a day would have fallen in with the smothered forebodings of their minds; would have aroused an inward monitor, which, however carefully laid to sleep, was ready to awake at the slightest summons, and to bear testimony in the cause of righteousness.
But though the doctrine of a future judgment did not originate in the teaching of Christ, though from the earliest ages, mankind had variously received it, yet the light
they possessed, even the revealed light, did but just suffice dimly to show them the Judge enthroned in clouds, and surrounded with judgments; while, from his superiority to temptation, his greatness and perfection, they inferred that the Judge of all the earth would do right. But the person of the Judge, the poinp and process of the judgment, its most solemn circumstances, and affecting results—all this was comparatively unknown to them; and in supplying the information our Lord has greatly enlarged the original part of his teaching.
1. When speaking of the final judgment, it is observable that he seldom omitted to insist and enlarge on its publicity. He thus reminds us, that the end for which there is any judgment at all, is best secured by having it held in the presence of all worlds; that piety may be most honored, sin most abashed, and the government of God vindicated and glorified, on the largest possible scale. In a few descriptive words, he fills the horizon with intelligent beings of all orders and characters. It will not be the judgment of a single individual, nor of a nation, but of a whole world of intelligent and accountable beings. It will not be an assize for sins of recent commission merely; sins committed thousands of years before will be reproduced and examined, with all their circumstances of aggravation, as if they had been only just committed. What a profound impression will that produce of the holy character of God and of the infinite enormity of sin ! When his people are crowned, he would not have one of their enemies absent; and when the ungodly are doomed, he would not have one of the righteous absent; he would have them now to forestall that day, to feel by anticipation, that they are speaking with the universe for their audience, and acting in the great theatre of the judgment; and then he would have them to depart to their respective allotments, bearing
away with them impressions of the hatefulness of sin, and the beauty of holiness, which shall remain uneffaced through all the scenes of eternity.
2. Pursuing our examination, we recognize in the Judge the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. •The Son of man shall come in his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. He hath `authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man;' in his super-added humanity, consists the very reason of his appointment. If the judge is to be seen on that day with our bodily eyes, and if realities are to triumph on that day over appearances, substances over shadows, then is it fit that no illusion should sit on the throne, that he should occupy it, who is, ' without controversy, God manifest in the flesh.' If that is to be the day of final compensation, the day in which all the arrears of reward and honor shall be brought up to all the sufferers in the cause of virtue, then is it fit that the Judge, the Prince of sufferers, and who is set forth as the type of happiness which holy suffering yields, should receive, in his.own person, the amplest compensation ; that he who submitted to be arraigned, and who occupied the cross here, should then ascend the throne as his oper reward. If it was right that the work of salvation should be commenced, it must also be right that it should be completed; and if it was fit that Christ should undertake it, then is it fit, that in order to evince his competency, and reward his toils, he also should complete it ; that the honor of conferring the last great blessings of his grace, and of giving the final application to the great principles of his dispensation, should be enjoyed by him alone. If it was right in God, so to construct the plan of salvation, that in all its workings it should be made to yield to believers, as it does, the largest possible measure of consclution and joy, then must it be
right also, that in the person of their Judge they should recognize their Redeemer. It will give an additional value to the crown of life, that it will be bestowed by the hand of Christ; that the very being who died for them, who gave them the grace of repentance, and who awakened in them the hope of salvation, should come personally to realize their hopes, to collect them around him, to wipe away every tear, to receive the plaudits of the universe in their salvation; this will be the only ingredient their cup of bliss will require, and the last it can receive; having that, their joy will be full. And if it be right that his enemies should be vanquished, it seems fit that he should vanquish them; if it is proper that unbelievers should be condemned, there appears a peculiar propriety that, both for their greater conviction, and his greater exaltation, the sentence of condemnation should be pronounced by himn.
And, oh! what an enhancement of their doom, will this single circumstance contain! If a person be conscious that he is chargeable with ingratitude, and with ingratitude beyond forgiveness, he would rather confront his greatest foe than the person he has thus injured. Were any other being than Christ to ascend the throne of judg. ment, or were he any other than he is, the confusion of the impenitent sinner at appearing in his presence would be less intolerable. But when he shall draw near, and be compelled to look on that injured goodness, his confusion will be complete. When he shall behold him invested in the robe of humanity, that single sight will flash on him the recollection of all that Jesus did in that nature to redeem him—the incarnation, the bloody sweat, the cross, the pierced side---all will rise to view, and penetrate him with an agonizing sense of his ingratitude and guilt. When he shall hear the voice of that injured Being, the voice which he had heard so often in the gospel, inviting, entreating, beseeching Him in every tone of gracions son