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To each of us the time is effectively at hand; and our doom can be in no wise altered, whether the general judgment take place, as some suppose, within forty years, or within four thousand.
6. Take place, however, it must and will, at some period, unknown indeed to us, but unchangeably fixed in the counsels of the Almighty. For thus is the manner of it described in the Scriptures of eternal truth, by Christ himself: When the Son of Man,' saith he, shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink; when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee; or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'
'Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ;
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.'
The Apostle John, in the book of Revelation, gives another representation of the last day which shall close this branch of our subject. I saw a great white throne,' saith he, and him that sat on it; from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, sinall and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the book, according to their work. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged, every man according to their works; and whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire.'
Now without pretending to determine how far these passages are to be understood in a literal sense, and how far they are unavoidably expressed in figurative terms, no sound and unsophisticated mind can avoid understanding from them the certainty of a final judgment for all men, and the equal assurance of everlasting happiness for the redeemed, and everlasting misery for the condemned sinner. The book of life may be a metaphorical phrase, signifying the gracious acceptance of the Saviour; and the lake of fire, the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, may be also figures of speech, designed to represent the horror and the
agony of a condition which no earthly language could properly describe. But granting this, it will still remain as solemn and as true as the testimony of the Most High can make it, that Christ Jesus, who once came from heaven, to take our nature upon him, and suffer and die for our salvation, will again descend from the right hand of God the Father Almighty, to judge the world which he died to save,—that the appointed time for this awfully sublime manifestation is uncertain, and may possibly be nigh at hand,and that when the day arrives, you, my brethren, and I, every soul without exception, shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they
Strive then, for a moment, to recall your wandering thoughts, and fix them on the dread realities of that solemn hour. Think that we are-as perhaps we may be-the last of the human family. Imagine that this night your slumbers should be broken by the shout of the King of kings, by the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, bursting through the affrighted air, piercing to the bottom of the fathomless deep, and pealing amidst ten thousand echoes through every cavern of the earth. Think that you behold the firmament lighted up with the sudden blaze of celestial glory, while your eyes are overpowered by the radiant vision of the Almighty Judge, coming in the clouds of heaven, and, on every side, millions of rushing wings attest the presence of the angelic host who are the ministers of his resistless will. Think that you feel within you, like the electric shock, the mighty change which fits your bodies for immortality; and that amidst myriads of the dead, rising in countless multitudes around, you find yourselves thronging before the throne of your exalted and omnipotent RedeemO where-where should you find your station? On
what side of that dread tribunal would the angels prepare your place? To which company would you belong? What sentence would be pronounced upon you? Do you think that you should receive a crown of righteousness and glory—or should you be consigned to the regions of eternal horror and despair?
My beloved brethren, this awful hour may yet be far distant, and possibly many years may still be allotted to us in this world of trial. God knoweth-it is not for man to say—whether our rebellious planet has almost accomplished her measure of iniquity—whether the period of our probation is verging to its close. But be ye well assured, that the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.' 'Yet a little while, and he that shall come WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY.' Be not deceived, therefore, by an evil heart of unbelief, neither suffer yourselves to be overcome by sloth, by forgetfulness, or by temptation. GOD IS NOT MOCKEd. What you sow in this
life, you shall reap in the life to come. Heaven and earth.
shall pass away, but this Word shall not pass away, for it is the Word of Him who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords-God over all blessed for ever.
O then, my beloved brethren, let me beseech you to judge yourselves, that you be not judged of the Lord. Earnestly supplicate your compassionate Saviour, that his Holy Spirit may direct, and sanctify, and bless you with that true and living faith, which works by love, and purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. And may God, of his infinite mercy, grant, that when the cares and trials of your earthly pilgrimage are ended, and you stand before the tribunal of your glorious Redeemer, your place may be at his right hand, that your names may be found in his book of life, and that you may receive the crown of his eternal righteousness and joy in the kingdom of heaven,
ROM. XIV. 17.
FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NOT MEAT AND DRINK; BUT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE, AND JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.
We have arrived, my brethren, in the order of our course, to the third general division of the Primitive Creed, which presents to our consideration the personality and the operations of the Holy Spirit. But since the first of these topics was treated in its place, as belonging to the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity, we shall confine ourselves, in the present discourse, to the other, namely, the operations of the Divine Agent. And these we shall examine in two respects; first, as they are displayed in the inspiration of the Scriptures; and secondly, as they are manifested in the regeneration and sanctification of the soul. 'For the kingdom of God,' saith our text, is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
1. It is evident, to the slightest reflection, that we can have no satisfactory knowledge of the will of God concerning us, except what we derive from the sacred Scriptures; and it is equally evident, that the confidence we repose in them can only be justified on the ground that they are dictated by the Spirit of the Lord who cannot err, and whose word is, therefore, the only infallible director. This revelation may, indeed, present difficulties, mysteries, and apparent discrepancies, which call for study, diligent examination, persevering effort, and humble prayer, in or