« 上一頁繼續 »
of its mighty billows, as if those bars God's providence had set it were now to be removed, and it impatient till it were done, and its proud waves at liberty.
When this so great, so sudden, so terrifying a change shall come, well may men's hearts fail them for fear, and for looking after those things which are then coming on the earth". And O how miserable will those wretches be, who have the inward horrors of a guilty conscience added to these outward terrors, (and which will make them still more terrible,) and are thus overtaken in the midst of their wickedness and forgetfulness of God! and how happy, beyond all expression, those that shall be found employed in the duties of our holy religion, their lamps full and trimmed, and in a readiness when their divine Bridegroom comes, to go out to meet him with cheerfulness and joy! And thus much for the time of our great Lord's second coming. I come now, in the
II. Second place, to consider what may most affect us concerning those that are then to appear before him, and be judged by him; and they are all the sons of men that ever lived, or shall be then alive, both good and bad ; and likewise the evil angels, who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, and were reserved like so many condemned criminals, in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment and final sentence of this last great day. Thus our Lord assures us, that before him shall be gathered all nations 8 ; and St. Paul says, that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and every one of us give account of r Luke xxi. 26.
s. Matt. XXV. 32.
himself to Godų, and so even the righteous not excepted; and our Lord himself tells us, that the sheep shall be set on his right hand. And St. Peter tells us, that he is ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead; and St. Paul says to the Corinthians, Know ye not that we shall judge angels ? and the devils know that they shall then be brought to receive their doom, as we may collect from what some of them said to Christ, Art thou come hither to torment us before the time y ?
And if we ask, how shall all these be called or summoned to this universal judgment? we are told it shall be in the most awful manner that is possible ?, even with a great sound of a trumpet filled with the breath of an archangel, or an archangel's voice resounding like ita, reaching to the four winds, or all the corners of the earth, piercing to the bottom of the deep, and the dire abodes of the spirits of darkness, universally heard, and universally obeyed; men and devils, the righteous and the wicked, the dead and the living, all immediately preparing to attend the issues of that wondrous day. And the manner of their appearance, according to what I can collect from scripture, will be this: after the earth and the sea have given up their dead, and by the almighty power of God every departed soul is reunited to its own body, which shall then be made ready to receive it, and those that are then alive have received a change equivalent to death; the good angels, being guided by the omniscient Judge, shall make an exact separation, in this confused appearance of all sorts, of the right2 Cor. v. 10. Rom. xiv: 12.
x Acts x. 42.
Matt. viii, 29. 2. Matt. xxiv. 31.
a i Thess. iv. 16.
eous from the wicked ; and the former they shall place all together on his right hand, and the latter on his left, as our Lord assures us b.
And what an amazing scene of things will there then be, when at that shrill alarm, given by the archangel, the whole creation shall be in a hurry and disorder! The sea-shores filled with myriads of people coming up out of the mighty waters, none now looking back with joy upon that merciless element from which they are delivered, though it roars louder, and swells higher far, than when with shrieks and cries they perished in it; but rather, with wondering and anxious eyes, looking forward to the terrors of the land, and wishing they could again go back, and shroud themselves in the caverns of a rock, or lie concealed in the bottom of the deep: when the graves on land shall at the same time every where be opened, and the affrighted inhabitants of those dark mansions, like men awakened by some sudden noise from a deep sleep, shall arise full of terror and amazement; and the living, who but just before perhaps were putting the evil day far from them, rejoicing in their prosperity and abundance, and swimming in luxury and riot, shall see and hear all this, and be driven to the place of judgment, with those that have just left their tombs, shoals of apostate spirits mixing with them as they go, who shall then be dragged from their subterraneous dungeons, and brought upon the earth, and probably be rendered visible, as the good angels then will be ; and all the circumstances of horror round about, together with the united howlings, shrieks, and lamentations, of such whose consciences have condemned them beforehand : when at length the bright ministers of this great Judge shall curiously sort each person in his proper place, and pick and cull out of this vast number the jewels of the kingdom, and abandon the rest to the company of hellish fiends and furies, in dreadful expectation of their doom. Good God! what an amazing scene of things will there then be! What a strange mixture of passions will there then be seen! On one hand, what expressions of comfort and hope, what tokens of a longing desire to see their dear Saviour and best friend, among the virtuous few! And on the other, what ghastly looks, what dread and anxiety, what hideous wailings and outcries, will be observed quite through the innumerable multitudes of the wicked! How will they then wish, in the bitterness of their souls, that in their lifetime they had thought more seriously of this time of terrors, and been influenced by it to make religion their business in good earnest; that so mercy might have been shewn them then, when they stand so much in need of it, but which, in the condition they then are, they know they must despair of! And how should we, who as yet have time and space given us for repentance, improve it to the best advantage, and make it our great employment to attain such a temper and disposition of mind here, as may then rank us in the number of the blessed !
III. And now, all things being thus in a readiness, I come in the last place to consider what may leave the most durable good impression upon us, as to the manner of the Judge's appearance, and his proceeding at that terrible day, and the several sentences that will then be passed, and their execution.
c Mal. iii. 17.
As for the manner of the divine Judge's appearance, there are three or four texts of scripture that will give us information. In Acts i. 11, we find two angels telling our Lord's disciples, when, with wondering eyes, they were looking after him as he ascended from them into heaven, This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall So come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Now, how that was, the 9th verse of that chapter informs us, where it is said, a cloud received him out of their sight; wherefore, as on a cloud he went up into heaven, so on a cloud he will from thence return to judgment. And accordingly, he tells us himself, Mat. xxiv. 30, that we shall then see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. What this great glory is, he likewise tells us, Luke ix. 26, where he says, that he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels; where by his own glory it is very probable is meant that glorious celestial body with which he now sits at the right hand of God, and of which his appearance to the apostles at his transfiguration gives us some notion, when his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light d; to which is agreeable that vision of St. John, Rev. i. 13, when in the midst of the golden candlesticks he beheld one that was like the Son of man, his head and his hair were white as wool; as white as snow; his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. By his Father's glory