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them shall be according to these works; for it is an eternal truth, “ He that soweth sparingly, shall reap spáringly,” 2 Cor. ix. 6.
Thus shall the good works of the godly have a glorious, not a gratuitous reward; a reward of grace, not of debt; which will fill them with wonder at the riches of free grace, and the Lord's condescending to take any notice, especially such public notice, of their poor worthless works. The which seems to be the import of what they are said to answer, “ Saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered," &c. ver. 37, 38, 39. And may they not justly wonder, to see themselves set down to the marriage-supper of the Lamb, in consequence of a dinner or supper, a little meat or drink (such as they had) which they gave to an hungry or thirsty member of Christ, for his sake ? Oh plentiful harvest following upon the seed of good works : Rivers of pleasure springing up from (perhaps) a cup of cold water given to a disciple, in the name of a disciple ! Eternal mansions of glory rising out of a night's lodging given to a saint, who was a stranger ! Everlasting robes of glory given in exchange of a new coat, or, it may be, an old 'one, bestowed on some saint, who had not necessary cloth. ing! A visit to a sick saint, repaid by Christ himself, coming in the glory of his Father, with all his holy angels ! A visit made to a poor prisoner, for the cause of Christ, repaid with a visit from the Judge of all, taking away the visitant with him to the palace of heaven, there to be ever with himself! These things will be matter of everlasting wonder, and should stir up all, to sow liberally in time, while the seed-time of good works doth last. But it is Christ's stamp on good works, that puts a value on them, in the eye of a gracious God; which seems to be the import of our Lord's reply, ver. 40. « In as much as ye have done it, unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
IX. Now the saints having received their own sentences they shall judge the world, I Cor. vi. 2. Tbis was not fulfilled, when the empire became Christian, and Christians were made magistrates. No, the Psalmist tells us, $ This honour have all the saints," Psal. cxlix. 9. And the Apostle in the forecited place, adds, “ And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters ?” ver. 3. “ Know ye not, that we shall judge angels?” Being called, they come to receive their kingdom, in the view of angels and men ; they go as it were, from the bar to the throne, “ To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne,” Rev. iii. 21. They shall not only judge the world in Christ their head, by way of communion with him ; by their works compared with these of the ungodly ; or, by way of testimony against them : but they shall be assessors to Jesus Christ the Judge, giving their voice against them, consenting to his judgment as just, and saying, Amen, to the doom pronounced against all the ungodly; as is said of the saints, upon the judgment of the great whore, Rev. xix. 1, 2. “ Hallelujah, for true and righteous are his judgments.” Thus the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning of the resurrection, Psal. xlix. 14. Then, and not till then, shall that be fully accomplished, which ye may read, Psal. cxlix. 6, 7, 8, 9.
« Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people,--this honour have all his Saints.” O! what a strange turn of affairs, will appear here ! what an astonishing sight will it be, to see wicked churchmen and statesmen, standing as criminals before the saints, whom sometimes they condemned as heretics, rebels and traitors ! to see men of riches and power, stand pale-faced before these whom they oppressed! to see the mocker stand trembling before these whom he mocked, the worldly-wise man before these whom he accounted fools! then shall the despised faces of the saints, be dreadful faces to the wicked; and those who were sometimes the song of the drunkards, shall then be a terror to them. All wrongs must be righted at length, and every one set in his proper place.
Tenthly, The Judge shall pronounce the sentence of damnation on all the ungodly multitude. « 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,” ver. 41. Fearful doom! and that from the same mouth, from whence proceed the sentence of absolution before. It was an aggravation of the misery of the Jews, itbęp their city yas destroyed, that they were ruined by one who was accounted the darling of the world. O! what an aggravation of the misery of the wicked will it be, that he shall pronounce this sentence also ! to hear the curse from mount Zion, must needs be most terrible. To be damned by him, who came to save sinners, must be double damnation. But thus it shall be. The Lamb of God shall roar, as a lion against them : he shall excommunicate, and cast them out of his presence for ever, by a sentence from the throne, saying, “ Depart from me ye cursed.” He shall adjudge them to everlasting fire, and the society of devils for evermore. And this sentence also we suppose, shall be pronounced with an audible voice, by the man Christ.
And all the saints shall say, * Hallelujah, true and righteous are his judgments.” None were so compassionate as the saints, when on earth during the time of God's patience. But now that time is at an end, their compassion on the ungodly is swallowed up in joy, in the Mediator's glory, and his executing of just judgment, by which his enemies are made his footstool. Though sometimes the righteous man did
in secret places for their pride, and because they would not hear; yet, then, “ He shall rejoice, when he seeth the vengeance ; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked," Psal. lviii. 10. No pity shall be then shewn to them, from their nearest relations. The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the Judge, in the condemnation of her ungodly husband : the godly husband shall say, Amen, to the damnation of her who lay in his bosom: the godly parents shall say, Hallelujah, at the passing of the sentence against their ungodly child : and the godly child, shall from his heart, approve the damnation of his wicked parents, the father who begat him, and the mother who bore him. The sentence is just: they are judged “ according to their works," Rev. xx. 12.
There is no wrong done them : “ For I was hungry,” saith our Lord, “ 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,” ver. 42, 43. These are not only evidences of their ungodly and cursed state, but most proper causes and grounds of their condemnation:for though good works do not merit saivation, yet evil works
merit damnation. Sins of one kind only, namely, of omission, are here mentioned ; not that these alone shall then be discovered (for the opening of the books lay all open) but because these, tho' there were no more, are sufficient to damn unpardoned sinners. And if men shall be condemned for sins of omission, much more for sins of commission. The omission of works of charity and mercy, is condescended on particularly, to stop the mouths of the wicked; for it is most just, that he have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy, James ii. 13. The mentioning of the omission of acts of charity and mercy towards the distressed members of Christ, intimates, that it is the judgment of those who have heard of Christ in the gospel, that is principally intended here, in this portion of scripture ; and that the slighting of Christ, will be the great cause of the ruin of those who hear the gospel; but the enmity of the hearts of the wicked against himself is discovered by the entertainment they now give to his members.
In vain will they say, “ When saw we thee an hungered, athirst ?" &c. ver 44. For the Lord reckons, and will reckon, the world's unkindness to his people, unkindness to himself! “ In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me,” ver. 45. O meat and drink unhappily spared, when a member of Christ was in need of it! wretched neglect, that the stranger saint was not taken in ! it had been better for them, they had quitted their own room, and their own bed, than he had wanted lodging. O cursed clothing, may the wicked say, that was in my house, locked up in my chest, or hanging in my wardrobe, and was not brought out to clothe such a one! Oh that I had stripped myself, rather than he had gone away without clothing! Cursed business, that diverted me from visiting a sick saint! O that I had rather watched whole nights with him. Wretch that I was ! why did I sit at ease in my house, when he was in prison, and not visit him? But now the tables are turned; Christ's servants shall eat, but I shall be hungry ; his servants shall drink, but I shall be thirsty ; they rejoice, but I am ashamed, Isa. Ixv. 13. They are taken in, but I am cast out and bid depart; they are clothed with robes of glory, but I walk naked, and they see my shame, Rev. xvi. 15. They are now raised up on high, beyond the reach of sickness or pain ; but I must now lie down in sorrow, Isa. I. 11. Now shall they go to the palace of heaven, but I must go to the prison of hell.
But if our Lord thus resents mens neglecting to help his people under these and the like distresses; what may they expect, who are the authors and instruments of them? If they shall be fed with wrath, who fed them not, wher they were hungry ; what shall become of those, who robbed and spoiled them, and took their own bread away from them? What a full cup of wrath shall be the portion of those, who were so far from giving them meat or drinke when hungry or thirsty, that they made it à crime for others to entertain them, and made themselves drunken with their blood! they must lodge with devils for evermore, who took not in the Lord's people, when strangers ; then, what a lodging shall those have, who drave them out of their own houses, out of their native land, and made them strangers ? Men will be condemned for not clothing them vhen naked; then, how heavy must the sentence of those be, who have stripped them, and made them
without dothing? Surely, if not visiting of them in sickness, or in a prison, shall be so severely punished; they shall not escape' a most heavy doom, who have cast them into prisons, and have them put under such hardships, as have impaired their health, brought sickness on them, and cut their days in prison, or out of prison.
To put a face upon such wicked practices, men will pretend to retain an honour for Christ and religion, while they thus treat his members, walking in his ways, and keeping the truth. They are here represented to say, " When şaw.we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or na: ked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" yer. 44.
As if they should say, Our bread, drink, lodg: ing, clothing, and visits, were indeed refused, but not to Christ ; but to a set of men, of a bad character; men who turned the world upside down, (Acts xvii. 6.) who troubled Israel, (2 Kings xviii
. 17.) an humorous and fantastic sort of people, having laws diverse from all people; factious and rebellious (they did not keep the king's laws) and therefore a very dangerous set of men; it was not for the king's profit to suffer
them, Esther iii. 8. But although men