« PreviousContinue »
wear out his old age in avarice.
He may corrupt the innocent for the indulgence of the first, depopu. late kingdoms for the gratification of the second, and impoverish thousands to satisfy the cravings of the last. But let him know, that, "for all these things “ God will bring him into judgement,” in that day which the Scriptures therefore style his day, "the
day.of God,” or “the day of the Lord.” Then God shall speak, and man hear; then the viol and the harp shall no longer lull the effeminate in sensuality, nor the trumpet any more rouse the warrior to the battle; and then the thousands of gold and silver shall have lost all their charms in the eyes of the miser. In that day, the merry-hearted shall sigh, shame shall be the portion of pride, and covetousness shall inherit eternal poverty. Of these two days, the day of man and the day of God, which give so very different an aspect to the world and all that is therein, the sacred history holdeth forth to us many significant and instructive representations in the divine proceedings with regard to particular persons, cities, and kingdoms. These answer the same end with the solemn scene now before our eyes, being intended as preludes, or (if I may so speak) as rehearsals of the judgement to be finally executed upon the world of the ungodly. Thus, when the diyine long suffering waited in the time of Noah; when the wicked' vexed the soul of righteous Lot of Sodom; when Pharaoh oppressed the church in Egypt; when the ten tribes, revolting from the service of God and the house of David, became and continued schismatics, rebels, and idolaters; when Zedekiah threw the prophet Jeremiah into the dungeon, for declaring the will of Heaven; and when the Jews crucified Christ, and persecuted his apostles for the same reason; then was it, respectively in each case, the day of man. But it was the day of God, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up,
and the antediluvian generations swept away from the face of the earth; when the windows of heaven were opened, to rain fire and brimstone upon the cities of the plain; when Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore; when Salmanazar led Ephraim away into Assyria; when Nebuchadnezzar carried Judah captive to Babylon; and when the Roman armies overthrew Jerusalem, and set fire to the gates of Zion. But the united terrors of all these partial visitations will enable us to form only a faint idea of that great and terrible day, when God “shall judge “ the world in righteousness, by that man whom he “ hath ordained." Let us consider the person and appearance of him who shall then come to be our judge.
The text characterizes him by the words, “that
man whoin he [God] hath ordained.” The human nature of our Lord, ever intimately and indissolubly united to the divine, being, after his resurrection, taken up into heaven, was thereupon, in form, amidst the acclainations of angels and beatified spirits, invested with the glory and dominion of the Godhead, to be from thenceforth displayed and exercised in the government of his church, until the final act of his judgement shall close the amazing scene, and put a period to the mediatorial kingdom;
which when the Son, the man Christ Jesus, shall have delivered up to the Father, then God, or the blessed Trinity, shall be all in all, reigning and ruling to eternity, as was the case from eternity, previous to the intervention of the Christian system. In the meantime, as the light which fills the circumference of heaven, penetrating to the utmost bounds of creation, and giving life and motion to all things that live and move, proceedeth forth from its central throne in the body of the sun; so the riches, and the wisdom, and the providence, and the power, and the majesty of the Deity, are dispensed to mankind, through the glorified humanity of the holy Jesus; to whom every creature in heaven and earth is therefore taught to ascribe blessing, and honour, and glory, and power. Thus hath it been done unto the man whom God delighteth to honour. And for this reason it is said, that “the Father judgeth no man, but “ hath committed all judgement to the Son;" in exact conformity to what St. Paul asserteth in the text, that God shall judge the world in the person of his Son Christ Jesus; "he shall judge the world by
' " that man, whom,” having united to himself," he
' " hath ordained” and constituted head over all things for that purpose.
And by whom should God judge mankind, but by that man by whom he was first redeemed ? “God “ was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; "and God in Christ will reward every man accord“ing to his works." He who took upon him the form of a servant, was crowned king of glory, and crowned for that reason, “ Because he humbled
“ himself, and became obedient unto death, even the “ death of the cross; therefore God highly exalted
him, and gave him a name which is above every “ name;" therefore, by himself, he hath sworn, that
" to him, when sitting on the throne of judgement,
every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, “ that the man Christ Jesus is Lord, to the glory of « God the Father."
And can there then be a tongue, which doth not exult in the confession of the glorious and salutary truth? For surely had Heaven indulged us in the option of our judge, where could all our wishes have centred, but in a man like ourselves; our near kinsman, our brother as concerning the flesh; one who bore our sins, and carried our sorrows; one in all things tempted like as we are, and therefore touched with a feeling of our infirmities. In whose hands should we rather desire to see the law, than in his who, having himself fulfilled it for us, bestows on repentance what was only due to innocence? Whom can we behold with so much comfort on the judgement-seat, as the person who once stood at the bar, and suffered the execution of an unjust sentence, that we might escape the execution of a just one? And since we must needs be tried by unerring wisdom, impartial justice, and boundless power, what a reviving consideration is it, that they are under the direction of infinite and tenderest mercy? Abused and insulted mercy, indeed, will rule with a rod of iron, and no wrath can be so terrible as that of the Lamb: but the humble penitent, believing in Jesus as a Saviour, and obeying him as a Master, shall behold
with joy the golden sceptre reached forth, in the day of his appearance as a judge.
The signs which are to precede that appearance, and, like so many heralds, to prepare the way for it, shall be eminently calculated for the purpose. Strange and portentous phænomena shall cause a fearful looking-for of judgement, while every part of the creation shall discover horrible symptoms of its approaching dissolution. The heavens, those most beautiful and glorious of the works of God, shall shrink at the prospect of the fire in which they are to melt; and the powers of the heavens, which sustain the world, shall be shaken, as the leaves of the wood are shaken by a mighty wind. The sun, that marvellous instrument, that fountain of light, that heart of the system, whence are the issues of life, and health, and joy, shall suddenly cease from shining, and by that means depriving the moon of her borrowed brightness, shall leave the astonished inhabitants of the world in darkness and the shadow of death. The stars, quitting their stations and courses and falling in wild disorder on each other, shall increase the horrors of the night spread over the world, an image of the darkness soon to receive the wicked for ever. The sea meanwhile will rise into vast mountains, and roll itself upon the shore, with the most tremendous and terrifying noise. All these things shall come upon the earth, at a time when it is filled with wars and rumours of wars; when there shall be sore distress of nations, visited with all the judgements of God, and become the scourges and destroyers of each other; when divine truth, like the