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THE REMOTER CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.
THE FINAL JUDGMENT.
2 PETER iii. 10.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.
In the three preceding discourses, I have considered Death ; its Immediate Consequences; and the first of its Remoter Consequences ; to wit, the Resurrection. I shall now proceed to the consideration of another of these consequences; to wit, the General Judgment.
The day, consecrated to this great transaction, is in the text styled the Day of the Lord. The Christian Sabbath is in the 118th Psalm, said to be the day, which the Lord hath made; and is called in the first chapter of the Apocalypse, the Lord's day. On that day Christ arose from the dead, finished the work of Redemption, and rested from his labours, as God did from his. In honour of this wonderful event, Christ consecrated the first day of the week for ever to himself, as a season of public, religious worship to all the nations of men. On this day, He has ever been peculiarly present with all his followers, and commanded the blessing to descend upon Zion, even life for ever.
But the day, mentioned in the text, is his day, in a still higher, and more solemn sense. It is selected from all the days of time, as the Sabbath from those of the week.
It is the final Day; the period of this earthly system ; the dying-day of this great world; on which its last groans will be heard, its knell sounded through the Universe, and its obsequies celebrated with most awful pomp, and supreme, as well as melancholy, grandeur.
It is the Day of universal Judgment; on which the personal concerns of angels, and of men, will be brought to the last trial, before the - Judge of the quick and dead, and irreversibly settled for Eternity.
It is the Day, in which the Mystery will be finished. All the wonderful, and perplexing, events of providence towards this world will, at this time, be explained to the full conviction of the assembled Universe; so that God will appear just, when He judges, and clear, when he condemns. The secrets of the human heart, the mazes of Providence, and the wonders of the Di. vine character, displayed in these events, will be unfolded in such a manner, as to stop every mouth, and murmur, for ever.
It is the Day, on which the Catastrophe of this earthly syslem will arrive. The plot immensely great, and wonderful, comprising innumerable important scenes, and an endless variety of actors, will now be unravelled. The Theatre is a World ; the duration of the action is Time; the Actors are all the millions of the race of Adam ; the Subject is Redemption ; the Hero is the Messiah ; the End is the final triumph of Virtue, and the irrevocable overthrow of Sin. The Catastrophe, on this day, will be completed, and disclosed; and all the efforts, windings, and intricacies, find their termination. " IT IS DONE,” will be proclaimed by the divine Herald to the Universe ; and the curtain will be drawn for ever.
It is the Day, on which Christ will be glorified. In this world he appeared as a man, humbled, persecuted, sufering, dying, nailed to the cross, and buried in the grave. Now He will descend from Heaven with the glory of his father; and will come, to be admired by all then, that beliete, with wonder, and reverence, inexpressible. No more the Babe of Bethlehem ; no
more a prisoner before a human Judge; no more an expiring victim on the cross ; no more a lifeless corpse in the sepulchre ; He will sit upon the throne of the Universe, invested with the sceptre of infinite dominion. He will judge both Angels, and men ; dispose of all nations at his pleasure; and open, and shut, both Heaven and Hell. Eternity, to all beings, will now be
, suspended on his nod; and life and death, which will know no end, will be conveyed by his voice. All beings will be as nothing before him ; and will be justly counted unto him as less than nothing, and vanity. He will speak; and it will be done : he
; will command ; and it will stand for ever. On this Day, He will glorify his Justice, in the sight of the Uni
He will show, beyond denial, to the consciences of impenitent beings, that their ruin was derived from themselves; that their sin is just as evil and odious, as he has declared it to be in the Scriptures, and that it is equitably punished with everlasting destruction from his presence, and the glory of his power.
On this Day, He will glorify his Kindness in the deliverance of all his followers from guilt and perdition. His compassion to this ruined world ; his overflowing mercy to them, who believed in him, chose him as their Saviour, and obeyed his voice; will now be manifested with supreme, and eternal splendour. The universe will perceive, that he chose them as his own, with perfect propriety: while they with astonishment and rapture will remember the love, wilh which he loved them, and gave himself for them; the tenderness, with which he preserved them from temptations, and enemies; the affection, with which he still bears them on his heart; and the Divine promises, which, while they lived in the present world, conveyed to them immortal life, and are now to be fulfilled in a manner, which no eye bath seen, and no mind conceived.
Or this Day, He will giorify his Omniscience. He will show, that from the beginning he hath searched the hearts, and tried the reins, of all the children of men. The sins which they have committed, the virtues which they have exercised, the motives by which they have been governed, and the rewards which will constitute an equitable retribution for their various conduct, he
will set in the light of his countenance ; as objects, intended to be clearly seen, are by ourselves placed in the sun-beams. It will then appear, that he knew all his works from the beginning ; and is that ocean of knowledge, whence innumerable streams have flowed, and will for ever flow, to his Intelligent creatures.
On this Day, He will glorify his Immutability. Now he will clearly discover, that he is Jesus Christ; the same yesterday, today, and for ever. Truth, the moral Immutability of his character, will be found to have been the only language of his Word; of his law, his promises, and his threatenings ; of the system of Redemption, and of the terms, on which it is proffered to man. Of course, the Universe will distinctly see how wisely his followers have trusted in him, and how foolishly sinners have refused to believe his declarations.
Finally, On this Day, He will glorify his Power. The most awful and convincing evidence will be furnished, that He has the keys of Death, and of Hades. Heaven, at his command, will open all its infinite blessings to the eternal enjoyment of his children; and the doors of hell, at his bidding, will close on its guilty, and miserable inhabitants. None will be able to stay his hand, or dare to say unto him, What doest thou? From his face the heavens and the earth will flee away; and at his word, new heavers, and a new earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell for ever, will spring up in their stead.
This awful Day will come, as a thief, in the night. A thief comes in the hour of peace and security; when the house is de. fenceless, and the family buried in sleep. The first notice of his arrival is the sound of his breaking up, or the noise of his ravages. He comes, also, unexpectedly: he comes only to invade, distress, and destroy. In this unexpected, and dreadful manner, will the Day of the Lord come.
Mankind, according to the representations of St. John, will, at the period which precedes the final Judgment, be sunk in degeneracy and pollution. The glorious effects of the millennium will have ceased; and the world returned to a degeneracy, like that, which existed immediately before the deluge. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, will have regained their full dominion over the human race; and Religion prepared her final flight to her native heaven. Strong in their numbers, their power, and their pride ; sunk in sense, and profligacy; and burning with intense hatred to God, and his children ; the nations, who are in the four quarlers of the earth, Gog, and Magog, will be gathered together to battle against the Christians, remaining in the world; will go up on the breadth of the carth; and compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. Exulting in the fullest confidence of their final extinction, this army of Scoffers will exclaim with triumphant insolence, Where is the promise of his coming? For, since the Fathers fel! asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. In this night of stupidity and sin, this season of spiritual slumber, the final Day will arrive. In a moment it will burst on the astonished world; break the last sleep with alarm and terror; and strip guilty men of all their beloved enjoyments, and all their fond hopes of future good.
The ancient Christians believed, that the declaration in the text would be literally accomplished. Nor is there any proof, that their interpretation was erroneous.
There is no improbability, that the sun, which hid its face at the crucifixion of the Redeemer, will again retire from this stupendous scene; or that the moon and stars will withdraw their shining, and leave the world in deep and melancholy darkness. In this case, the morning of the great Day will be ushered in, not by the cheerful twilight spread over the mountains, but the awful approach of that intense splendour ; surrounded by which the Son of God will descend. A new and terrible light will appear in mid-heaven; and, advancing toward the earth, will diffuse such a morning over all its regions, as the Universe has never beheld, and will never behold again.
At this momentous period, the Trumpet of God will sound, as it once sounded when the same glorious Person descended upon Mount Sinai; while all the people, who were in the camp, trembled. At this renewed sound all nations will tremble; and the earth quake to its utmost shores.
At the same period, the Archangel will call to the dead; and awaken them from the long sleep, in which they have been buried. The earth and the ocean will give up the dead, which are