« EdellinenJatka »
354 BY THE SAME POWER
Christian to his glorified Redeemer, will be wrought upon us by the Lord Jesus himself. "For our conversation," says he to the Philippians, "is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself:" Phil, iii, 20, 21. II. The second great act, which will distinguish the last day, is the destruction of the visible world. "By the word of God," says the apostle Peter, " the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word, are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the
day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men
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:" II Pet. iii, 5—10. The same event is probably the principal subject alluded to by Isaiah, when, in describing the day of the indignation of Jehovah upon all nations, he prophecies that " all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and all their host shall fall down as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree:" xxxiv, 4. In the Revelation, the earth and the heaven are prophetically represented as fleeing away from before the face of him who will sit on the "great white throne," as the judge of all mankind; (xx, 11 ;) and our Lord himself has declared that, on the day of his glorious
HE WILL DESTROY THE WORLD, 355
coming, " the sun shall he darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken:" Mark xiii, 24, 25.
Although a certain degree of obscurity necessarily attaches to these prophecies, and although we can form no exact idea under what precise circumstances, or to what extent, this destruction of visible things will take place; or, indeed, whether it will be, to any extent, an annihilation of them, or (as appears most probable) only a total change and purification ;—yet, on a general view of the subject, it will, I presume, be freely allowed, that the act wbich will thus display the indignation, and consummate the purposes, of Jehovah, will be the act of God himself. To Jehovah it is virtually attributed in some of the passages now cited; and on the whole, the Power who caused the visible world, in its present form and nature, to be, may safely be regarded as the only Power who can revoke the sentence, and cause it not to be.
Now, in a remarkable passage of Scripture which, for another purpose, has been cited in a former part of the essay, this act is ascribed to the Son as its author; and ascribed to him on the express principle that he is himself Jehovah: " Unto The Son [the Scripture or the Psalmist] saith, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands: They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail:" Heb. i, &—12; comp. Ps. cii, 25, &c. The same doctrine may be fairly
A a 2
356 JUDGE ALL MANKIND,
deduced from Heb. xii, 25—27; and Rev. xx, 11. III. Lastly, in the judgment itself, and in the retributive dispensations by which it will be followed, (as they are prophetically described in Scripture) it seems impossible not to trace the real divinity of Jesus Christ, the Judge. For, in the first place, the very fact that he is the moral governor of the world, to whom we are responsible for the use of all our endowments, both rational and spiritual, and to whom, in that day, we shall render an account of them, appears to be capable of no satisfactory explanation, on any other principle thaa this—that he is truly God; one with Him who created, and who possesses, all things. And, secondly, when Jesus Christ is described as judging all mankind for " the things done in the body," (Matt. xxv, 32; II Cor. v, 10) he is represented as acting in the character of an omniscient Being. We may conclude that, by the things done in the body, are intended, not only overt words and actions, but the secret desires and imaginations of the heart, to which the laws and sanctions of a spiritual religion must ever be understood, and in the New Testament are clearly described, as extending; and hence It appears, that, in order to receive the general account to be rendered in that awful day, and to judge the righteous judgment accordingly, our Lord must perfectly know, and exactly appreciate, all the actions, words, thoughts, and intentions, of all men ever born into the world. It is He " who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart" I Cor. iv, 5; comp. Matt. xii, 36. Now, for such a knowledge, and such an appreciation, what, on the principles either of reason or of Scripture, can for a moment be ima
gined to suffice, but the infinite capacities of the mind of God?1
As, in judging all mankind, the Lord Jesus will display a conspicuous proof of his omniscience; so, in the dispensing of those eternal rewards and punishments, which are represented as the results of his judgment, he will manifest, with equal clearness, the authority and power of deity. Such authority and power must surely be regarded as essentially belonging to that glorified Person who will "give" to them that overcome, "to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God;" (Rev. ii, 7;) who will give "unto all them that love his appearing" "a crown of righteousness;" (II Tim.iv,8;) who will "give" to his faithful and obedient followers "eternal life;" (John x, 28;) and at whose- bidding, on the other hand, "his angels," who stand before his throne, "shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and
1 "Verily, I say unto you," said Jesus to his apostles, "that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel:" Matt. xix, 28; comp. Luke xxii. 28—30. From this passage many persons conclude that when the Son of man shall appear in his glory, in order to judge the world, his twelve apostles will be his assessors; and if this be in truth the doctrine here promulgated, it must necessarily be understood in such a subordinate sense, as will consist with a just view of those limits which the faculties of man can never pass, and also with our Lord's declaration, that the Father hath committed "adjudgment" to the Son. Other critics, however, suppose, that nothing more is here intended than that the apostles, in that great day of account, shall be exalted to u preeminent degree of power and glory. "Prtecipua pra reliquis Judteis omnibus felicitate et dignitate fruemini" Simili modo xPiKtv apud Grascos imperare, oifflltvy
notat, teste Artemidoro, ii, c. 12:" Schleusner, Lex. in voc, Xg/VW, No. 5. See also Rosenmilller, Kuinoel, and Ad. Clarke, in loc., Sfc. A similar meaning is attributed by Schleusner to the apostle Paul, when he declares to the Corinthians, that " the saints shall judge the world," (I Cor. vi, 2); but, since the subject, on which the apostle is there treating, is that of human law and merely temporal judgment, he may be rather understood as declaring, that, as true Christianity spreads in the world, the saints will possess even a civil power over other men. The apostle might, probably, have in his view the prophecy of Daniel—that " the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him:" vii, 27.
358 ETERNAL REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS.
shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth:" Matt. xiii, 41, 42.
Here, in further support of our argument, we may again adduce the comparative doctrine of the Old and New Testaments. In the former, God is presented to our attention in the capacity of a Judge. He is described as the only Being who is capable of forming a perfect estimate of the thoughts, the conduct, and the character, of men; as the only moral governor of the universe; as the only giver of every celestial blessing bestowed on the righteous; as the only avenger, who shall finally pour forth his fiery indignation on the wicked and disobedient: and not unfrequently is Jehovah depicted, in the language of prophecy, as visibly coming into the world, with awful circumstances of solemnity and glory, in order to deliver his people, and to judge mankind: see Ps. xcvi, xcvii, xcviii; Isa. xxxiv, 2—8. lxiii,. 1—4; Joel iii, 12—16, &c. From the New Testament, on the other hand, we learn that "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;" (Johnv, 22;) that the Son, as well as the Father, searches the hearts, and weighs the actions, of men —that it is he to whom the account of all our deeds must be finally rendered—that it is he who will come into the world with power and great glory, for the final redemption of believers, and for the great purpose of universal retribution—that it is he who will bestow on the righteous the gift of eternal blessedness, and who will consign the impenitent sinner to everlasting punishment. Hence, therefore, on the principle that divine truth is uniform and unchangeable, we are once more confirmed in our conclusion, that Jesus Christ, the Judge of all flesh, is God: