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SERMON XXI.

CONSTANT PREPARATIONS MAKING FOR THE

DAY OF JUDGMENT.

2 PETER, iii, 9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as

some men count slackness.

WE should naturally suppose, that God would early reveal to mankind the day of judgment, in which they are all so deeply interested. Accordingly we find, that God inspired Enoch, the seventh from Adam, to foretel this great and solemn event, in a plain and striking manner. “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

To this and other predictions of the last great day, the apostle refers christians in the context, where he says, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.” After this intimation, that the day of judgment had been long foretold, he proceeds to predict himself, how stupid and profane sinners in time to come would feel, and think, and speak in respect to this solemn subject. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things contioue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

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For this they are willingly ignorant of, that by the word of God 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. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God is not slack in fulfilling his promise

. to judge the world, in the sense of these objectors. For, he neither alters his purpose, nor remits his operations, but constantly employs the whole creation, in preparing things for the day of judgment. But his plan is so great and extensive, that a thousand years bears no more proportion to the time necessary to accomplish it, than one day bears to the time necessary to accomplish any human design. Though he moves all the wheels of nature as fast as they can be moved; yet ages inust roll away, before he can finish his great work, and prepare all intelligent creatures for the retributions of eternity. The whole course of providence, instead of weakening, serves to confirm the apostle’s reasoning against the criminal and dangerous infidelity of scosfers, and plainly teaches us this solemn and importanttruth:

That God is preparing all things, as fast as possible, for the day of judgment.

We live in the last days, in which scoffers have actually come, who not only call in question the inspiration of the Scriptures, but the immortality of the soul and a future day of retribution. If there be indeed such a solemn day approaching, it is much to be desired, that this truth should be set in so clear and strong a light, as to carry irresistible conviction to every mind. And I cannot but hope the following considerations will convince the understanding and conscience of every person, that God is preparing all things, as fast as possible, for the day of judgment.

1. God has but one supreme end in all his works. This end he proposed before the foundation of the world. To this end he has had an eye in every step he has taken, in creation, providence, and redemption. And this end is to be completely unfolded and accomplished at the day of judgment. All things tend to that day, as to their centre and final issue. Then all intelligent and accountable creatures will be prepared for, and fixed in that state, for which they were originally and eternally intended. All the subordinate designs of the Deity stand related to and connected with his supreme ultimate design, which he can never relinquish, nor be slack to accomplish. The reason why men are ever slack in pursuing their ultimate design, is because they either give it up, or make it subordinaie to some other ultimate design. They often alter their minds in respect to their ultimate end, and the means to accomplish it, which often retards, and sometimes prevents, their finally obtaining their supreme object. But God never alters his mind in respect to his ultimate purpose, and the means to attain it. There is 70 new or superior object in the universe to divert bis attention, or excite his exertions. If he pursues any thing, he must pursue his original ultimate design, and carry it forward as fast as possible. He cannot be slack as men are, through weakness, despondency, or mutability of purpose. He cannot, for a moment, let his great work stand still, or go backward, but is morally obliged to carry it on, with as much constancy and rapidity, as the nature of his supreme purpose will admit. There is just as much reason to believe, that he will prepare all things as fast as possible for the day of judgment, as there is to believe, that he had any supreme or ultimate end in creation.

2. The heart of God is wholly set upon the great design to be accomplished at the great day. He formed this design from eternity, and in preference to all other possible designs. His heart, to speak with reverence, is bound up in it, and all his felicity flows from it. He has no other source of happiness, than the consummation of his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus, and which will be consummated at the last day. The Lord of hosts is far more zealous to attain the object of his supreme affection, than any of mankind ever were to attain the objects of their highest wishes. His supreme affection as far surpasses the supreme affection of his most exalted creatures, as his natural perfections surpass their naturai abilities. He must, therefore, prepare all things, as fast as possible, for the attainment of the object of his supreme and infinitely ardent affection. He must cause the immensely numerous events of providence to follow one another, without the least intermission or interruption, until they finally usher in the judgment of the great day

3. God is able to prepare all things for this most important and desirable event, without the least delay. He is able to pursue his great design, with perfect ease and constancy. He can work, and none can let it. Men often meet with difficulties and obstacles, which they cannot surmount, and which retard or prevent the accomplishment of their designs, as soon as they intended and desired. Or if they meet with no external ob

structions, their exertions are laborious and wearisome, and require them to take time to recruit their exhausted strength. But the Almighty is liable to no such impediments or relaxations. He can do every thing with perfect facility. His power consists altogether in his will. Whatever he wills should exist, exists instantaneously. He said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” He commanded, and all things existed and stood fast. And by the same word of his power, or exercise of his will, he constantly preserves and governs all his creatures and all his works. His omnipotent arm never becomes weak or weary, by the most incessant and powerful exertions in upholding the weight and controlling the affairs of the whole universe. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, th: Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth fainteth net, neither is weary? We cannot conceive of any reason or cause, why the omnipotent Dity should not pursue his ultimate design as fast as possible, and accomplish it as soon as possible. Hence we are constrained to believe, that he is operating in every part of the universe, as fast as possible, to prepare all his intelligent creatures for their great and last account.

4. There is no more reason to think, that God wilt be slack in fulfilling his promise of coming to judg. ment, than to suppose, that he has been slack, in fulfilling other promises of far less importance. He promised to destroy the old world, but he was an hundred and twenty years in preparing things for that aw. ful catastrophe. He promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan, but he was four hundred years, in preparing his seed and the seven devoted nations for that interesting event. He promised, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, but he

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