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ty, and the high court of the prophets. The council had power to sentence, and execute sore penalties upon offenders; but whatever was their judgment, when acting alone, it was considered as being merelyof a civil nature. The principality, in whatever form it existed, had power to review the judgment of the council, and remit it, or confirm it at pleasure. And when a judgment was 60 confirmed, it was considered as having the tremendous weight of an anathema. · But the prophet, speaking by the spirit of God, had a power of remitting orconfirming even this; and when a judgment was so confirmed, it was decisive, which circumstance was expressed by the fearful word, maran-atha.
Many cases occur, in the Scriptures, which serve to illustrate the nature of God's judgment. Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse both in this life, and that which is to come; but he is pleased to proceed in a way, in which he will not only be just when he judgeth, but clear when he condenneth......... David's transgression was the most heinous which could have been committed as to the natural law, and it was adjudged by the principality, himself being on the seat; he therefore fell under the anathema ; but still, upon his repentance, his judgment was revoked by the prophet of the Lord. Ahithophel sinned against the sweet council which he had taken with inspired men; his judgment, therefore, was maran-atha ; the same was the case of Judas, of Ananias and Sapphira; and the same are the cases of many others which are particularly described in the writings of the New Testament.
The idea of two judgments, one infinitely exceeding the other, as the offence is more immedidiately against the spirit of the gospel, or the peculiar obligations arising from the redemption of Christ, is very frequently offered in the Scriptures. . Eli said to his sons, who sinned against the sacrifices which related to the great redemption, “ If one man sin against another, the judge “shall judge him: but if a man sin against the “ Lord, who shall intreat for him.” This unremissible judgment is the awful thing intended by the frequently repeated expressions respecting the men who transgress against the Lord, that, their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and it appears beyond doubt, from the passage, Isai. Ixvi. 24, that this decisive and final judgment will have actually passed upon some in the millennial day; "And they shall go forth, “and look upon the carcases of the men that “ have transgressed against me; for their worm s shall not die, neither shall their fire be quench
Our Lord pronounced this wo upon the Scribes and Pharisees, “ Therefore ye shall receive " the greater damnation.” This implies that there are two judgments, one greater than the other. The Scribes and Pharisees sinned under a cloak of emminence in religion; and it was a fact that they had enjoyed such instructions from Moses and the prophets, as had placed them
not far from the kingdom of heaven.” The apostle to the Hebrews observes, Chap. x, “ If “we sin wilfully, after that we have received the “knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no “more sacrifice forsins, Butacertain fearful look
ing forofjudgment, and fiery indignation, which " shall devour the adversaries." And he allustrates the observation thus: “ He that despised “ Moses law died without mercy, under two or " three witnesses: Of how much sorer punish
ment, supposeye,shall he be thou't worthy, who “ hath troddenunder foot the SonofGod, and hath “ counted the blood of the covenant wherewith “ he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath
“ done despite unto the spirit of grace. An example of this two-fold judgment, is given in Matt. xvij. One who owed his Lord “ten " thousand talents," was sentenced to “be sold," together with “his wife and children, and all “that he had,” for the payment of the debt; but his distress and pitious supplications, moved the compassions of his sovereign, and he “loosed - him," and “ forgave him the debt.” But the same servant went out, and in his conduct towards his fellow-servants, sinned against his Lord, and did despite unto the spirit of that grace which he had so freely received; wherefore his Lord was “ wroth,” and in the place of the first judgment, which was merely that he be sold as a servant, he is now "delivered to the tormentors, till “ he should pay all that was due unto him.” Another case is given, Chap. xii, in which “ the last “ state" of a man is worse than the first.” And Peter writes, “ for if after they have escaped “ the pollutions of the world, through the know" ledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
they are again entangled therein, and over
come; the latter end is worse with them than " the beginning."
Although the whole world stands justly condemned by the principles of the law, yet it appears to be the design of God, that all judgment shall finally issue in relation to that peculiar authority which is established in the gospel. Hence, in the view of the final judgment given in Matt. Chap. xxv, the whole respects Christ and his members, as suffering in the flesh. The righteous are rewarded for Christ's sake, and the wicked are punished for what they have done, or have neglected to do, in relation to Christ. Some have supposed that the question asked by the righteous, When saw we thee, &c. implies, that through their humility and great diffidence, they had not before entertained the expectation of enjoying the kingdom of God; and that it is an expression of their surprize upon their finding themselves among the blessed. This is a mistake. It is plain that the question is asked, and the answer is given, for the purpose of its being clearly shewn, what is the ground of their reward, viz. their union with Christ, full evidence of which had been given in their attachments to his brethren. It may well be supposed, that the wicked ask the same question, through their having mistaken the grounds of these judgments; but neither can this be admitted as to the righteous; they have been effectually taught in what way to look for the divine favour; and nothing is so near their hearts, as that the true ground of their acceptance with God, and reward unto eternal life, might be made manifest to the whole universe. The following passage appears to be express to this point, that not only will the world be judged by the Lord Jesus, but that, in the last
day, this judgment will be settled according to the peculiar law of his mediatorial kingdom; Rom. ii. 16. “In the day when God shall judge “ the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according “ to my gospel."
Strong reasons may be offered in favour of this design of the wisdom of God, such as the following:
1. That no shadow of objection against the equity of God's judgment should exist upon this ground, that a difference is made among his creatures by an application to them of different rules;
and that the condemned should not say to the ajustified, had it not been for this partiality in
the judge, of his applying a rule in your case different from that applied in ours, you had also been condemned..
2. That this immense glory should be conser
red upon the Lord Jesus Christ, that, in the end, the whole universe shall stand or fall in relation to him, and by a principle founded in his work of redemption.
Much remains yet to be done, and some great scenes are yet to disclose, both as to men and angels, in order to bring all things to this grand issue. And it appears that scenes of this nature will open in the world to come, i.e. the future mediatorial dispensation, which is commonly called the Millennium; and that, in that world, there will be room for some acts of restitution which will reach to the state of the wicked dead, so that in some cases a previous doom, even to the bottomless pit, will not be unremissible and final. This distinction of two judgments, one by the authority of the Archangel World, which is revokable; and another by the authority of the Spirit, or world to come, which is irrevocable; may offer a solution of the difficulty observed in the passage, Matt. xii. 32. “And whosoever
speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it “ shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh " against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiv“ en him, neither in this world, neither in the “ world to come."
The distinction between the “bottomless pit," which is represented merely as a prison, or state of confinement; and the lake of fire and brim
stone,” which is a place of torment, is clearly marked in the Scriptures. In this view, the bistory of the Beast is very noticeable. In baitle with God's Host, he receives a stroke by the sword of Michael; and, wounded unto death, falls to the earth and tumbles into the abyss. But his wound, not being of the nature of the second death, is healable; and his doom, not being that of the second judgment, is revokable; he therefore yet lives, comes out of the bottomless pit,