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cast iniquity upon the ungodly, and give them ill names, that they may treat them as criminals; all these pretences will avail them nothing; in the great day, before the righteous Judge, nor before their own consciences neither; but the real ground of their enmity against the saints, will be found, (to their own conviction) to be their enmity against Christ himself. This seems to be the import of the objection of the damned, (ver. 44. and of the answer to it, ver. 45.) 6 In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Lastly, Sentence being past on both parties, follows the full execution of the same, ver. 46. “ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into. life eternal.” The damned shall get no reprieve, but go to their place without delay ; they shall be driven away from the judgment-seat into hell ; and the saints shall enter into the king's palace, (Psal. xlv. 15.) namely, into heaven the seat of the blessed. But our Lord Christ, and his glorious company, shall keep the field that day, and see the backs of all their enemies : for the damned go off first.
In this day of the Lord, the great day, shall be the general conflagration, by which those visible heavens, the earth and sea shall pass away. Not that they shall be anpihilated (or reduced to nothing), that is not the operation of fire ; but they shall be dissolved, and purged by that fire, from all the effects of sin, or of the curse, upon them; and then renewed, and made glorious and stable, Of this conflagration, the Apostle Peter speaks, 2 Pet. iii. 10. « But 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.” See also ver. 7, 12. And of the renewing of the world, he adds, ver. 13. “ Nevertheless we, according to his promise look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
It seems most agreeable to the Scriptures, and to the nature of the thing, to conceive this confiagration to forlow after the general judgment; sentence being past on both parties before it. And I judge it probable, that it will fall in with the putting of the sentence in execytion against the damned ; so as they shall (according to their sentence) depart, and the heavens and the earth pass away together and at once, at that furious rebuke from the throne, driving away the dainned out of the world (in this fire) to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Even as, in the deluge, with which the Apostle Peter compares the conflagration or burning of the world, (2 Pet. iii. 6, 7.) the world itself, and the wicked upon it, perished together; the same water which destroyed the earth, sweeping away the inhabitants. For it is not likely, that the wicked shall at all stand on the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, 2 Pet. iii. 13. and as for this earth, it shall flee away, (which seems to denote a very quick dispatch) and it shall flee from his face, who sits on the throne, Rev. xx. 11. " And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the heavens and the earth fled away.".. The execution of the sentence on the wicked, is also thus expressed : They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence, or from the face of the Lord, 2 Thess. i. 9. The original word is the same in both texts, the which being compared, seem to say, that these creatures being abused by the wicked, being left to stand, as witnesses against them in the judg. ment, are, after sentence past on their abusers, made to pass away with them from the face of the judge. It is true, the fleeing away of the earth and heaven is narrated, Rev. xx. 11. before the judgment; but that will not prove its going before the judgment, more than the narrating of the judgment, ver. 12. before the resurrection, ver. 13., will prove the judgment to be before it. Further, it is res markable, in the execution of the sentence, Rev. xx. 14, 15. that not only the reprobate are cast into the lake, but death and hell are cast into it likewise ; all effects of sin, and of the curse, are removed out of the world (for which very cause shall the conflagration be) and they are confined to the place of the damned. Besides all this, it is evia dent the end of the world is by the conflagration ; and the Apostle tells us, (1 Cor. xv. 24, 35.) that “ then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all ruie, and all authority, and power. For he must reign, till
hath put all enemies under his feet." The which lastas it must be done before the end; so it seems not to be done, but by putting the sentence in execution, pastia the day of judgment, against the wicked.
Now, if the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, that are set forth for an example, (Jude 7,) was so dreadful; how terrible will that day be, when the whole world shall be at once in flames ! how will wretched worldlings look, when their darling world shall be all set on fire? Then shall strong castles, and towering palaces, with all their rich furniture, go up together in one flame with the lowest cottages. What heart can fully conceive the terror of that day to the wicked, when the whole fabric of heaven and earth, shall at once be dissolved by that fire! when that miserable company shall be driven from the tribunal to the pit, with fire within them, and fire without them and fire behind them, and on every hand of them; and fire before them, awaiting them in the lake, whether this fire (for ought appears) may follow them!
As for the particular place of this judgment, thougl some point us to the valley of Jehoshaphat for it, yet our Lord, who knew it, being asked the question by his disciples, “Where Lord ?" told them only, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together," Luke xvii. 37. After which answer, it is too much for men to renew the question. As for the time when it shall be; in vain do men search for what the Lord has purposely kept secret, Acts i. 8. “ It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” The Apostle Paul, after having very plainly described the second coming of Christ, 1 Thess. iy. 16, 17. adds, (chap. v. 2.) “ But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For
yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh, as a thief in the night." Nevertheless, some in several ages, have made very bold with the time; and several particular years, which are now past, have been given out to the world, for the time of the end, by men who have. pried in. to the secrets of God. Time has proclaimed to the world their rashness and folly; and it is likely, they will be no more happy in their conjectures, whose determinate time is yet to come. Let us rest in that he cometh. God hath kept the day hid from us, that we may be every day ready for it, Matth. xxv. 13. “ Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour, wherein the Son of man cometh." And let us remember, that the last day of our life will determine our state, in the last day of the world; and as we die, so shall we be judged.
I shall now shut up this subject, with some application of what has been said,
USE I. Of comfort to all the saints. Here is abundance of consolation to all who are in the state of grace. Whatever be your afflictions in the world, this day will make up all your losses.
“ Though ye
have lain among the pots, ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers of yellow gold,” Psalm lxvii. 13. Though the world reproach, judge and condemn you, the Judge will at that day absolve you, and bring forth your righteousness as the light. The world's fools, will then appear to have been the only wise men that were in it. Though the cross be heavy, you may well bear it in expectatiou of the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge will then give you. If the world do despise you, and treat you with the utmost contempt, regard it not; the day cometh wherein you shall sit with Christ on his throne. Be not discouraged, by reason of manifold temptations : but resist the devil, in confidence of a full and complete victory; you shall judge the tempter at last. Though you have had wrestling now with the body of sin and death; yet ye get all your enemies under your feet at length, and be presented faultless before the presence of his glory. the terror of that day dispirit you, when you think upon it; Jet these who have slighted the Judge, and continue enemies to him, and to the way of holiness, droop and hang down their heads when they think of his coming ; but lift ye up your heads with joy, for the last day will be your best day. The Judge is your Head and Husband, your Redeemer, and your Advocate. Ye must appear before the judgment-seat, but ye shall not come into condemnation, John v. 24. His coming will not be against you, but for you. He came in the flesh, to remove the lawful impediments of the spiritual marriage, by his death ; he came in the gospel to you, to espouse you to himself; he will come, at the last day, to solemnize the marriage, and make
the bride home to his Father's house. “ Even so come Lord Jesus.”
Use II. Of Terror to all unbelievers. This may serve to awaken a secure generation, a world lying in wickedness, as if they were never to be called to an account for it; and slighting the Mediator as if he were not to judge them. Ah! how few have the lively impressions of the judgment to come! Most men live, as if what is said of it, from the word, were but idle tales. The profane lives of many, speak the thoughts of it to be far from their hearts, and in very deed makes a mock of it before the world, saying in effect, Where is the promise of his coming? The hypocrisy of others, who blind the eyes of the world with a splendid profession, being in appearance Christ's sheep, while they are indeed the devil's goats, is an evidence, that the great separation of the sheep from the
little laid to heart. How do many indulge in secret wickedness, of which they would be ashamed before witnesses; not considering that their most secret thoughts and actions will, at that day, be discovered, before the great congregation ! How eagerly are men hearts set on the world, as if it were to be their everlasting habitation! The solemn assemblies, and public ordinances, wherein the Judge is upon a transaction of peace with the criminals are undervalued ; mens hearts will swim like feathers in the waters of the sanctuary, that will sink, like stones, to the bottom, in cares of this life : They will be very serious in trifles of this world, and trifle in the most serious and weighty things of another world. But O! consider the day that is approaching, in which Christ shall come to judgment ; the world shall be summoned, by the sound of the last trumpet, to compear before his tribunal. The Judge shall sit on his throne, and all na. tions shall be sisted
before him ; the separation shall be made betwixt the godly and the wicked, the books opened, and the dead judged out of them ; one party shall be adjudged to everlasting life, and the other everlasting fire, according to their
works. It would be a sight of admirable curiosity, if thou couldst wrap up thyself in some dark cloud, or hide thye self in the cleft of some high rock, from whence thou mightest espy wicked kings, princes, judges, and great