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was four thousand years, in preparing the way for the coming and death of the promised Messiah. Though God was so long, yet he was not slack, in fulfilling these promises. He undoubtedly prepared things, as fast as possible, for the accomplishment of them. And there is precisely the same ground to believe, that though God has einployed several ages past, and may employ several ages to come, in preparing the way for fulfilling his promise concerning the great day; yet he will prepare all things for it, as fast as possible. The steady succession of day and night, and of summer and winter, and the rapid revolutions and changes in the natural and moral world, afford a constant and increasing evidence, that God is pursuing his ultimate end in creation, and preparing all things as fast as possible, for the great concluding scene. To confirm this and all the preceding observations, I may add,
5. That God has all means, instruments, and secondary causes in his hand, to accomplish his purpose and promise of coming to judge the world in right
As he has made all things for himself, and fitted them for his use; so he constantly employs all things in his service. He makes use of every creature and of every object, which he has brought into existe ence, as a voluntary or involuntary instrument of preparing the way for the final settlement of all the concerns of all moral beings.
We know, that he directs all the motions and changes in the material creation, in reference to his supreme and ultimate design. Inspiration tells us, that “while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night • shall not cease.". The sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the ocean, and all the elements, are so many instruments, which he can and will continually employ
in his service to the end of time. And it is easy to conceive, from the use he has made of those material objects heretofore, what important events he may bring about, and what important purposes he may answer, by their instrumentality in time to come. By his common providence, without any special or miraculous interpositions, he may cause fire and hail, snow and vapours, gentle showers, stormy winds, and rolling billows, to fulfil his word, and prepare the way for the closing scene of time.
All the animal species, as well as material objects, are under his constant and supreme direction; and we may be assured, that he will employ them, as instruments of carrying forward his ultimate design to the end of the world. He made them, to serve his purposes in this
world only, and when the present material system is dissolved, they will cease to exist. But till that period arrives, he will use them as the rod of his wrath, or the ministers of his love. He employed frogs, and flies, and serpents, and the meanest insects, to prepare the king and kingdom of Egypt for ruin. He employed the ravens to feed Elijah, and the fish to supply Peter, and the colt to serve Christ. God is still the owner of all the fowls of the mountains, of all the wild beasts of the field, and of all the cattle upon a thousand hills, and has an absolute right to dispose of them to serve the purposes of his providence. Nor can there be the least ground to doubt, whether he will employ the whole animal creation to prepare the way for the accomplishment of his supreme and ultimate end in all his works.
And we ought to consider furthermore, that God continually employs all intelligent creatures, as the free and voluntary instruments of carrying into execution his original and supreme purpose in the creation of
the universe. He made use of Satan to bring about the fall of man and the death of Christ. He employs evil spirits to prepare the wicked for the day of evil. And he employs the holy angels to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation. He also employs rulers and subjects, ministers and people, parents and children, masters and servants, and every son and daughter of Adam, to prepare one another for their future and final state. Such numerous and various means, instruments, and secondary causes God is continually employing to prepare things for the day of judgment, And now can there be any just ground to imagine, that he is slack concerning his promise, or that he will never fulfil it? Did not Noah give sufficient evidence to the ungodly world of their approaching destruction, by the men and means which he employed, for an hundred and twenty years, in preparing the ark for the safety of himself and family? Did not Solomon give abundant evidence, that he would finish the temple, while he employed so many thousand hands, year after year, in preparing materials for that large, elegant, and superb structure? But do not the vastly greater preparations which God is constantly making for the day of judgment, give us far more clear, striking, and infallible evidence, that he will bring about that unspeakably awful and joyful event, as soon as possible?
This subject now suggests some important things, which call for our most serious attention.
1. The great preparations, which God is making for the last day, give us just ground to expect, that when it comes, it will be a most solemn and important event. If it should bear a proper proportion, in point of solemnity and importance, to the time and means employed in preparing for it, it will unspeakably surpass, in solemnity and importance, all other scenes which ever have taken place, or ever will take place, in time or eternity. Accordingly the apostle, with peculiar propriety and emphasis, calls it THE GREAT Day. The circumstances, the business, and the consequences of it, will all unite to render it solemn and interesting beyond the present conception of men and angels. 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; and the earth shall be burned up. The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
. and shall come forth. Then shall the Son of man sit upon the throne of his glory, with all the holy angels with him, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and he shall set the sheep on his right-hand, but the goats upon the left. Then the books, which contain the records of time and eternity will be opened. Then every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, will be brought into judgment. Then whatever had been covered, shall be revealed; and whatever had been hidden shall be made known. Then the hidden things of darkness, and the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. The sins of the righteous, as well as the sins of the wicked, shall be made manifest; and whatever had been done in heaven, in carth, and in hell, shall be exhibited and published before the whole universe. This solemn process will be closed by the sentence of the supreme Judge, who will say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
the foundation of the world.” But he will say unto them on the left-hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” While these shall go away into everlasting punishment, the righteous shall enter into life eternal. Such will be the final separation between holy and unholy angels; between holy and unholy men; between holy and unholy parents; between holy and unholy children; between holy and unholy friends, which must excite the highest joys and sorrows, and the keenest sensibilities in the hearts of the happy and the miserable, that can be conceived!
2. The great preparations which God is making for the day of judgment plainly intimate, that the decisions of that day will be conciusive and irreversible. Origen supposed, that there will be an everlasting series of changes and revolutions in the characters and conditions of moral beings. And some ingenious and learned divines have since supposed, that notwithstanding the sentence of condemnation that shall be passed on the devil and all impenitent sinners at the great day, they will still be in a probationary state, and after they have suffered severely for a longer or shorter period, they will be purified, and prepared for a restoration to the favour and enjoyment of God forever. But the preparations, which God is making for the day of judgment, are a plain and visible refutation of this unreasonable and unscriptural sentiment. Why should God employ such a long space of time, and such a vast variety of means and instruments, to prepare
all moral and accountable creatures for the account they are to give at the great day, if they are afterwards to have a more decisive and final trial? The reason, which the apostle gives for God's being so long before he brings on the day of judgment, is, that he