« VorigeDoorgaan »
are alive, particles are continually leaving the body, and different particles take their place. If we say that it consists in certain stamina, or original atoms, we state a theory which has been advocated by wise and good men. But the resurrection body will be spiritual. How can its identity consist in stamina, or atoms, which belong to the body before the resurrection? It is a truth of which we have no doubt, that our bodies will be the same after the resurrection as before. This is revealed. But in what their identity will consist, it is not revealed. It does not concern us. It is a secret, and belongs to God. We believe, also, that the bodies of all who are raised at the last day will be spiritual. But who can explain the fact? Who can show what is the constitution of a spiritual body? Who can tell what qualities essentially belong to it? These are points which do not concern us. They belong to God. It is sufficient for us to know, that when the tremendous trump of the archangel shall sound, we shall be raised from the grave; that our bodies will be spiritual, incorruptible, and immortal, perfectly adapted to the destined state of our undying souls.
The scene which immediately follows the general resurrection is that of the general judgment. It is revealed that Adam and all his posterity will be arraigned before the tribunal of Christ, and be judged by him who is the supreme Judge of the quick and the dead. The assembly will be immense. None will be a mere spectator. Every individual will have a cause at the grand court, in which his eternal interest, and the interest of the whole universe, will be essentially concerned. Every one will appear in his true character. The distinction between saints and sinners will be drawn as in sunbeams. The saint will appear in the beauty and glory of holiness. The sinner will appear in the deformity and turpitude of guilt.
Christ, the Judge, clothed in infinite glory, will pronounce sentence on the whole universe. Every individual will hear the sentence, and feel it in all its weight. It will be righteous, impartial and irreversible. Al this we know and believe. It is all clearly revealed, and belongs to us. But when is the judgment to take place? The day is appointed. But of that day knoweth no man. not revealed. It is a secret, and belongs to God.-Where
will the judgment be? It may be said that it will be in the air. In which part of the vast expanse? The place where, like the time when, the awful scene will take place, must be considered as a secret which belongs to God.It is to be admitted as an affecting truth, that we must give an account to the Judge, in the presence of the whole assembled universe, of all the deeds done in the body. In what way shall we give up this account? We have no doubt of the fact, that the disclosure will be made; but how it will be made we have no means of knowing. It is a secret. How the Judge will proceed on the solemn occasion, lies beyond our comprehension. We know something of the general process which human judges adopt with them who are arraigned before their tribunal; but the difference between their process and that which the divine Judge will adopt, is as great as the difference between his thoughts and their thoughts, his ways and their ways. The process of the judgment will be in character of the Judge. It will be guided by infinite wisdom and rectitude. But what it will be, is not revealed. It does not belong to us. It is a profound secret, and belongs to God.
After the tremendous sentence is pronounced on the wicked, they will go away into everlasting punishment. They will be prepared by that great Being who made them, for the state of endless suffering to which they will be consigned. Their bodies will be completely fitted to be inlets of pain. Their consciences will be faithful in reproving them. All their intellectual powers will be active in administering to their wretchedness. They will be forever enlarging their views of God, and of Christ, and of all the grand and glorious doctrines which are now revealed to them. And every advance they make in knowledge of these great and interesting subjects will be an advance in sorrow and anguish. Their views of holy angels, and of many of their former friends and companions in a state of perfect light and happiness, will greatly enhance their own misery. Wherever they turn their eyes, they will see nothing but blackness and darkness. They will dis tress one another. Their mutual intercourse with each other will be a medium of mutual pain. God will pour out his vengeance upon them to the uttermost of their capacities for suffering. As they will be made vessels of
wrath, every vessel will be perfectly full. In this state of misery, perfect despair of the least possible relief will give an emphasis to their sufferings. We believe all these things. They are revealed. But there are many questions connected with the doctrine of future punishment which cannot be solved. Hell is not a mere state, but a place; it is local. But where is the awful place? On this point we may have an opinion, but we cannot now have knowledge. For it is not revealed. It does not concern us. It should be considered as a secret. We do not know how the body can be an instrument of pain, or in what way it will suffer. How sinners, in their dreary abodes, will have intercourse with one another, and what power they will have to increase each other's torments, are points which do not belong to us. They are not revealed. We know, for it is revealed, that their punishment will be extreme, without mitigation and without end. As soon as the righteous receive the joyful sentence from their Judge, they will ascend with him to the mansions which he has gone to prepare for them. He will present them to his Father and their Father, to his God and their God. They will be perfectly qualified in body and mind for a state of perfect blessedness. Their bodies will be fashioned like the glorious body of their divine Redeemer, adapted, in every respect, to the pure and active spirit which will inhabit them. Their minds will be forever expanding, and God will be forever disclosing to them his perfections, and advancing them in holiness and happiness. They will see God as he is. They will see Christ as he is. Their communion with the Father and with the Son will be intimate, uninterrupted, and eternal. They will maintain intercourse with one another. Their friendship will be that of kindred spirits, founded in holy love, and strengthened by mutual reciprocation of sentiments and joys. So much we may know of the doctrine of the saints' future happiness. But where is heaven? Who can tell its dimensions, enumerate its inhabitants, or describe its grandeur ? How will those who dwell in it see the bright and glorious objects which it contains? How will they advance in the knowledge of God? How will he make communications to them? and how will they receive them? How will they converse with one another, and perpetuate an end
less interchange of thought and feeling? Such questions pertain to secret things, which do not concern either our duty or our happiness. They do not belong to us while we remain in a state of probation. They belong to God.
Let us, in all our inquiries on religious subjects, bear in mind, that secret things belong to the Lord our God, and those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.
We are under solemn obligation to receive, in love, the revelation contained in the Scriptures. It is just such a one as we need. It was given to us to promote our most invaluable interests in time and eternity. If we neglect plain, revealed truths, from a vain curiosity to look into things secret, we act not only against reason and common sense, but against the wisdom and goodness of God. We are not at liberty to receive some parts of the revealed system, and reject others, or to consider some parts as beneficial, and others as useless. Neither have we a right to discard any doctrine or duty in the system, merely because we cannot comprehend it. As God is incomprehensible in his nature, perfections, and designs, it is reasonable to suppose that a system of doctrine and duty which he should reveal, would be beyond the comprehension of his finite creatures. It is our indispensable duty to receive all these things which are revealed, because God has revealed them; and he says, they belong to us.
The ministers of Christ are under obligation to discern the line which separates between secret and revealed things, and to confine their attention to those things which are revealed. These form a glorious system of truth and duty, intimately and harmoniously connected, and infinitely momentous in all its bearings. It is the duty of ministers to preach this system. They may preach it at any time and in any place. If they neglect to explain, illustrate and enforce it, their people have reason to complain of them, because they withhold from them what God has revealed for their spiritual and eternal benefit.
DECREES OF GOD.
KEEP silence, all created things,
My soul stands trembling, while she sings
Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown,
He sits on no precarious throne,
Nor borrows leave to be.
Chain'd to his throne a volume lies,
His providence unfolds the book,
Here he exalts neglected worms
Not Gabriel asks the reason why,
Nor God the reason gives;
In thy fair book of life and grace,
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY. PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS,
Depository, 114, Washington Street, Boston.