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THE GENERAL JUDGMENT.

MAT. XXV. 31, 32, 33, 34, 41, 46.

When the Son of Man 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 his right hand, but the goats

on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed, &c.

Unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, &c. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment : But

the righteous into life eternal.

THE dead being raised, and these found alive at the

coming of the Judge, changed, follows the general judgment, plainly and awfully described in this portion of scripture; in which we shall take notice of the following particulars. (1.) The coming of the Judge, When the Son of man shall come in his glory, &c. The Judge is Jesus Christ, the Son of man; the same, by whose almighty power, as he is God, the dead will be raised. He is also called the King, ver. 34. The judging of the world being an act of the Royal Mediator's kingly office. He will come in glory ; glorious in his own Person, and having a glorious retinue, even all the holy angels with him, to mi. nister unto him at this great solemnity. (2.) The Judge's

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mounting the tribunal. He is a King, and therefore it is a -throne,a glorious throne, He shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ver.31. (3.) The compearance of the parties. These are all nations; all and every one small and great, of whatsoever nation, who ever were, are, or shals be on the face of the earth ; all shall be gathered before him ; sisted before his tribunal. (4.) The sorting of them. He shall separate the elect sheep and reprobate goats, setting each party by themselves ; as a shepherd who feeds his sheep and goats together all the day, separates them at night, ver. 32. The godly he will set on his right hand, as the most honourable place; the wicked on the left, ver. 33. Yet so as they shall be both before him, ver. 32. It seems to be an allusion to a custom in the Jewish courts, in which, one sat at the right hand of the judge, who wrote the sentence of absolution ; another at their left, who wrote the sentence of condemnation. (5.) The sentencing of the parties, and that according to their works; the righteous being absolved, and the wicked condemned, ver. 34, 41. Lastly, The execution of both sentences, in the driving away of the wicked into hell, and carrying the godly into heaven, ver. 46.

DOCTRINE.
T'here shall be a general Judgment.

15.

This Doctrine I shall, (1.) confirm, (2.) explain, and (3.) apply.

1. For confirmation of this great truth, that there shall be a general judgment.

First, It is evident from plain scripture-testimonies. The world has in all its ages been told of it. Enoch before the flood taught it in his prophecy, related, Jude 14,

« Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all," &c. Daniel de. scribes it, chap. vii. 9, 10. " I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands stood before kim; the judgment was set and the books were opened.”

The apostle is very express, Acts xxvii. 31. « He hatli appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in. righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained.” See Mat. xvi. 27. 2 Cor. v. 10. 2 Thes. i. 7, 8, 9, 10. Rev. xx. 11-15. God has not only said it, but he has sworn it, Rom. xiv. 10, 11. « We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue. shall confess to God." So that the truth of God is most solemnly plighted for it.

Secondly, The rectoral justice and goodness of God, the sovereign Ruler of the world, do necessarily require it, inasmuch as they require its being well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked. Howbeit, we often now see wickedness exalted, while truth and righteousness fall in the streets; piety oppressed, while profanity and irreligion do triumph. This is so very ordinary, that every one, who sincerely embraceth the way of holiness, must and doth lay his account with the loss of all he has, which the world can take away from him, Luke xiv. 26. “ If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” But it is inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God, that the affairs of men should always continue in this state, which they appear in, from one generation to another, but that every man be rewarded according to his works ; and since that is not done in this life, there must be a judgment to çome, “ Seeing it is righteous with God, to recompence tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be re. yealed from heaven," 2 Thes. i. 6, 7. There will be a day, in which the tables will be turned ; and the wicked shall be called to an account for all their sins, and suffer the due punisinnent of them ; and the pious shall be the prosperous; for, as the apostle argues for the happy rection of the saints, « If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” | Cor. xv. 19. It is true, God sometimes punisheth the wicked in this life, that men may know, he is a God that judgeth in the earth ; but yet much wickedness remains unpunished, and undiscovered, to be a pledge of the judgment ta

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come. If none of the wicked were punished here, they would conclude, that God had utterly forsaken the earth; if all of them were punished in this life, men would be apt to think, there is no after-reckoning, Therefore, in the wisdom of God, some are punished now, and some not.. Sometimes the Lord smites sinners, in the very act of sin', to shew unto the world, that he is witness to all their wickedness, and will call them to an account for it. Sometimes he delays long, ere he strike ; that he may discover to the world, that he forgets not mens ill deeds, though he does not presently punish them. Besides all this, the sins of many do outlive them; and the impure fountuin, by them opened, runs long after they are dead and gone. As in the case of Jeroboam the first king of the ten tribes; whose sin did run on all along unto the end ,of that unhappy kingdom, 2 Kings xvii. 22, 23. “ The children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam, which he did ; they departed not from them; until the Lord removed I$: rael out of his sight.

Thirdly, The resurrection of Christ is a certain proof that there shall be a day of judgment. This argument Paul useth to convince the Athenians: says he," He hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, Acts xyii. 31. The judge is already named, his patent written and sealed, yea and read before all men, in his rising again from the dead. Hereby God hath given assurance of it (or offered faith, Marg.) He hath by raising Christ from the dead, exhibited his credentials as Judge of the world. When, in the days of his humiliation, he was sisted before a tribunal, arraigned, accused, and condemned of men; he plainly told them of this judgment, and that he himself would be the Judge, Math. xxvi. 64. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. And now that he was raised from the dead, though condemned as a blasphemer on this very head, is it not an undeniable proof from heaven, of the truth of what he asserted? Moreover, this was one of the great ends of Christ's death and resurrection ; “ For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be the Lord” (i. e. The Lord Judge, as is evident from the context,) « both of the dead and of the living," Rom. xiv. 9.

Lastly, Every man bears about with him a witness to this, within his own breast, Rom. ii. 15. « Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another. There is a tribunal erected within every man, where conscience is accuser, witness, and judge, binding over the sinner to the judgment of God. This fills the most profligate wretches with horror, and inwardly stings them, upon the commission of someatrocious crime; in effect summoning them to answer for it, before the Judge of the quick and dead. And this it doth, even when the crime is secret, and hid from the eyes of the world. It reacheth those, whom the laws of men cannot reach, because of their power or craft. When men have fled from the judgment of their fellow-creatures, yet go, where they will, conscience, as the supreme Judge's of ficer, still keeps hold of them, reserving them in its chains to the judgment of the great day. And whether they es. cape punishment from men, or fall by the hand of public justice, when they perceive death's approach, they heat from within of this after-reckoning ; being constrained to hearken thereto, in these the most serious minutes of their life. If there be some, in whom nothing of this doth appear, we have no more ground thence to conclude against it, than we have to conclude, that because some men do not groan, therefore they have no pain ; or that dying is a mere jest, because there have been, who have seemed to make little else of it. A good face may be

put upon an ill conscience ! and the more hopeless men's case is, they reckon it the more their interest to make no reflections on their state and case. But every one, who will consult himself seriously, shall find in himself the witness to the judgment to come. Even the Heathens wanted not a notion of it, though mixed with fictions of their own. Hence though some of the Athenians, when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, mocked, Acts xvii. 32 yet there is no account of their mocking, when they beard of the general judgment, ver. 31.

II. For explication, the following particulars may serve to give some-view of the nature and transactions of that great day.

First, God shall judge the yorld by Jesus Christ;! He

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