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God, and of every intelligent being; of being known by others, and of knowing himself, to be only guilty, odious, and despicable, throughout endless ages? Which of you is not overwhelmed with amazement at the bare thought of being united with such companions, as have been here described; of living for ever in the midst of fiends, and fiend-like men; beings tossed, and convulsed, by furious passions ; rankling with envy, malice, and rage ; hating truth, and righteousness; putrid with deceit; forming no plan, pursuing no purpose, but to dishonour God, and ruin each other. Do not your hearts die within you, and be
, come as stone, at the thought of inhabiting that world, whose light is as darkness, and which is overspread with the shadow of death; of feeling out your melancholy path through an endless solitude, through the regions of lamentation, mourning, and woe; alone in the midst of multitudes; without a friend; without a comfort; without a hope?
To these questions there can be no answer, without a denial of our nature. Let me, then, in the name of Him, with whose commission 1 stand before you, and by whose authority I speak this day, solemnly warn you, that the only way, in which you can escape these immeasurable evils, is to yield yourselves to Him, in the faith, repentance, and holiness, of the Gospel. Let me solemnly remind you, that He who believeth shall be saved, and he who believeth not shall be damned.
THE REMOTER CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.
THE REWARDS OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
THE NEW CREATION.
2 Peter iii. 13.
Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens,
and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
In the two preceding discourses, I considered the Duration, and Nature, of the Punishment, destined to impenitent sinners in the future worid. The next subject of discussion is the Rewards, which will hereafter be given to the Penitent. This subject I propose to examine in the present discourse generally. Hereafter I intend to make it the theme of a more particular discussion.
In the tenth verse of the context, St. Peter informs us, that The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night ; in the which, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up. In the text, he goes on to inform us further, that notwithstanding this mighty revolution, so alarming, and apparently so fatal, to the happiness, and the hopes, of good men, those hopes shall still not be disappointed: Nevertheless, he adds, we, that is, we, the Apostles of our Lord and Saviour, and all persons of piety who are instructed by us,
and understand the Scriptures of the Old Testament, look, according to his promise, for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. The promise, here referred to, seems to be that, which was made to Abraham, Gen. xvi. 8. Here, God established his covenant with this Patriarch, and with his seed after him, for an everlasting covenant; and promised to them the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. The seed of Abraham, we are taught by St. Paul, are of two descriptions ; the natural, and the spiritual. To the natural seed, or his lineal descendants, Canaan was promised in the literal sense. To his spiritual descendants the promise was given in a figurative sense only; and in this sense only was the possession, promised, everlasting. To those, who were Jezos outwardly, and whose circuncision is outward in the flesh, was promised the typical, earthly, Canaan. The Antitype, the heavenly Canaan, was promised to those only, who were Jews inwardly, whose circumcision was that of the heart, in the spiril, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God,
This promise was, afterwards, often repeated, both in the same terms, and in others more explicit. It is often mentioned in the Psalms; particularly the 720 and 89th ; and often by the Prophets. The Prophet Isaiah adopts, in two instances, the very language, here used by St. Peter. Behold, says God, speaking by this Prophet, I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create : for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people a joy: chapter lxv. 17, 18. And again, chapter lxvi. 22, For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord; so shall your seed, and your name remain. In the first of these passages, the declaration, Behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth, appears to be used figuratively; and to be so explained in the succeeding verse; where it is obviously interpreted to mean the restoration of holiness to the endless multitude of the first-born, by the Spirit of God, through the redemption of Christ. Even in this case, however, it may with propricty be considered as including all, that pertains to this mighty work; and to involve not only the renovation of the mind, but Vol. V.
also its succeeding progress in higher and higher attainments of virtue throughout endless duration. This is the more probable, because in the latter passage there is a plain reference to the former, indicating, that the new heavens, and the new earth, mentioned in both, are the same; and because the phrase in the latter passage is used in the literal sense; and has evidently the same signification as in the text.
Heavens and earth, in Jewish phraseology, as I have observed elsewhere, denoted the Universe. In the present case, however, the words appear to be used with a meaning less extended, as well as in the tenth and twelfth verses; where it is declared, that that, which is intended by both terms, shall be consumed, dissolved, and pass away. This astonishing event, we are taught, will take place at the final Judgment: and we have no hint in the Scriptures, that the Judgment will involve any other beings beside Angels and men. The new creation, here mentioned, is also exhibited as the future residence of angels and men. Other Intelligent beings, therefore, and the worlds which they inhabit, may be regarded as concerned in this wonderful production, only in a mediate and remoter sense. But in whatever manner we extend, or limit, the phrase, it is clear from the tenth, and twelfth verses, that a part of the creation will be destroyed; and, from the text, that a new part, sufficiently great to be styled new heavens, and a new earth, will be created in its stead.
In the text, St. Peter teaches us, that the things shaken, and removed, by the conflagration, are destroyed, to make way for a new heaven, and a new earth. The same truth we are taught by St. John, in the twenty first chapter of Revelation. And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth, that is, after the general Judgment, for the first heaven, and the first earth, were passed away; And He, that sat on the throne, said, Behold I make all things new; and he said, Write, for these words are true, and faithful. From these declarations it is obvious, that such a change will hereafter take place in the creation of God, as will in the proper sense verify this prediction. The first heaven, and the first carth, will pass away; and a new heaven, and a new earth, will occupy their place in the universe. When these are called new, it is plainly meant, that they shall be essentially changed
in their form, character, and circumstances. All things in that part of the Universe, denoted by these words, and not improbably in the universe at large, will, at least in a qualified sense, become new also.
On this wonderful subject how easily is the imagination lost! Every solemn emotion of the mind is, almost of course, awakened, and engrossed, by the fall of a kingdom, or empire. The bare recital of such a termination of human greatness, instinctively prompts the sigh of commiseration, and the thrill of awe; and we pause in intense, and bewildered thought, while we bend over the tomb of departed glory. An eclipse of the moon, and still more of the sun, fixes the eyes of half mankind, in astonishment and terror; and millions shudder with the most apprehensive forebodings, while the last beams of the glorious luminary are withdrawing from the sight. What, then, must be the emotions, which will crowd upon the soul at the departure of a world; when its funeral fires shall be kindled by the breath of the Son of God; its knell sounded by the last trumpet, and the voice of the Archangel ; and its obsequies celebrated with immense and melancholy grandeur by the assembled Universe. How would our hearts die within us, to see the stars falling froin heaven; the moon changed into blood; the light of the sun expire; and the heavens themselves flee away from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne !
At the creation of this world, the Morning stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy. The minds of these glorious Intelligences beheld with amazement, and rapture, the formless mass rise into being, at the command of the Creator; the new-born light wander over its desolate surface, the dry land heave; the ocean expand immeasurably; verdure clothe the world; life inhabit it; the lights of heaven rejoice to begin their course ; and man, awaking into existence, commence his first
song of wonder, gratitude, and praise. How will this astonishment and rapture be enhanced, when they, and we, behold the new heavens, and the new earth, called into being by the same voice; worlds destined to be the immortal residence of truth and peace, of virtue, glory, and joy, fresh from the hand of the Creator, blooming with vernal, undecaying life, and brighten