« PreviousContinue »
Men fhall be tried, First, Upon their works: for "God Mall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be
good, or whether it be evil," Ecclef. xii. 14. The Judge will try every man's conversation, and set his deeds, done in the body, with all the circumstances thereof, in a true light. Then will many, actions, commended and applauded of men, as good and just, be discovered to have been evil, and abominable, in the light of God: and many works, How condeinned by the world, will be approven and commended by the great Judge, as good and just. Secret things will be brought to light: and what was hid from the view of the world, shall be laid open. Wickedness, which hath kept its lurking-place in spite of all human search, will then be brought forth to the glory of God, and the confusion of impenitenit sinners who hid it. The world appears now very vile, in the eyes of those who are exercised to godliness: but it will then appear a thousand times more vile, when that, which is done of men in secret, comes to be discovered. Every good action Shall then be remembred; and the hidden religion and good works, most industriously concealed by the saints, from the eyes of men, shall no more ly hid: for though the Lord will not allow men to proclaim every man his own goodnífs; yet he himself will do it in due time. Secondly, Their words shall be judged, Matth. xii
. 37. “ For by thy " words thou thalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be con" demned." Not a word spoken for God, and his cause in the world, from love to himself,, shall be forgotten. They are all kept in remembrance, and shall be brought forth as evidences of faith, and of an intereit in Chrift, Mal, iii. 16.“ Then they that feared the Lord,
spake often'one to another, and the Lord hearkned and heard it: " and a book of remembrance was written before him. Ver. 17. " And they shall be mine, faith the Lord of hosts, in that day when " I make up my jewels.” And the tongue, which did run at random, fall then confess to God: and the speaker shall find it to have been followed, and every word noted that dropped from his unsanctified lips.“ Every idle word that men shall speak, they thall give account thereof in the day of judgment," Matth. xii
. 36. And if they fhall give account of idle words, that is, words spoken to no good purpose, neither to God's glory, one's own, or one's neighbour's good: how much more shall men's wicked words, their inful oaths, curses, lies, filthy communicaticns, and bitter words be called over again, that day? The tongues of many shall then fall upon themselves, and ruin them. Thirdly, Men's thoughis thall be brought into judgment: the Judge " will make manifest the counsel of the hearts," I Cor. iv. 5. Thoughts go free from man's judgment, but not from the judgment of the heartsearching God, who knows men's thoughts, without the help of signs to discern them by. The secret springs of men's actions will then be
brought to light; and the fins, that never came further than the heart, will then be laid open. O what a figure will man's corrupt nature make, when his inside is turned out, and all his fpeculative
impurities are exposed! the rottenness that is within many a whited fepulchre, the speculative filthiness and wantonners, murder and malignity, now lurking in the hearts of men, as in the chamber of imagery, will then be discovered ; and what good was in the hearts of any, fail no more lie concealed. If it was in their hearts to build a house to the Lord, they thall hear, that they did well that it was in their heart.
This trial will be runeous and apa tid, -cc'rrate and searching, clear and evident. The Judge is the righteous Judge, and he will do right to every one. He was a juít balance for good and evil actions, and for honeft, and talie hearis. T'he fig.leave cover of hypocrisy will then be blown a fide, and the hypocrite's nake.iness will appear; as when the Lord came to judge Adam and Eve in the cool (or, as the word is, in the wind of the day, Gen. 11.8 l he fire(which tries things molt exquifit:l.) Shall try every man's work, of wiat fort it is, 1 Cor. jii 13. Man's judynent is oft-times perplexed and confused; but here the whole process fhall be clear and evident, as written with a fun-beam. It Mall be clear to the Judge, to whom no case can be intricate; to the parties, who shall be convinced, Jude 15. And the multitudes on both files, ihall see the judge is clear when he judgeth: for then the hemens fall declare his righteousness, in the audience of all the world, and to it thall be universally known, Plal. l. 6.
On these accounts it is, that this trial is held out in the scripture under the 11ation of opening of books; and min are said to be judged out of those things written in the books, Rev xx 12. The Judge of the world, who iniallioly knoweth all ihings, hain no need of books to be la:d before him, to prevent mistake in any point of law' or fact: but the expresiun points at his proceeding, as mos nice, accurate, just, and well grounded, in every fep of it. Now, there are four books that thall be opened in that day.
Firft, The book of God's remembrance or omniscience, Mal.iii. 19. This is an exact record of every man's state, thoughts, words, and deeds, good or evil: it is, as it were, a day-book, in which the Lord puts dowo all that passeth in mens hearts, lips, and lives; and it is a-filling up every day that one lives. In it are recorded mens fins and good works, secret and oper), with all their circumstances, Hese are regiltred all their privileges, mercies temporal and spi. ritual, fome-time la:d to their hand; the checking admonitions, and rebukes, given by teachers, neighbours, afflictions, and mens own confciences; every thing in its due order. This book will serve only as a libci iu respect of the ungodly; but it will be for another use in refpect of godly, namely, for a memorial of their good. The opening of it is the Judge's bringing to light what is written in iç'; 'the reading as it were, of the libel and memorial, respectively, in their hearing:
Secondly, The book of conscience will be opened, and shall be as a thousand witnelles to prove the fact, Rom. ii. 15. Which shew the
work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness. Conscience is a cenfor going with every man whitherloever he goes, taking an account of his deeds done in the body, and, as it were noring them in a book; the which being opened, will be found a double of the former, so far as it relates to one's own ftate and case. Much is written in it, which cangot be read now; the writing of conscience being in many cases, like to that which is made with the juice of lemons, not to be read, till it be held be. fore the fire: but then men fhall read it clearly and distinctly : the fire which is to try every man's work, will make the book of conscience legible in every point. Thu' the book be sealed now (the conscience blind, dumb and deaf) be seals will then be broken, and the book opened.' There shall be no more a weak or 'misinformed conscience among those on the right hand, or there on the left. There shall not be a silent conscience, and far less a feared consci. ence amongst all the ungodly crew: but thair confciences thall be mult quick-fighted, and most lively, in that day. None shall then call good evil, or evil good. Ignorance of what fin is, and what things are fins, will have no place among them and the subtle reasonings of men, in favour of their lufts, will then be for ever baffled by their own consciences. None fall have the favour (if I may fo speak) of lying under the foft cover of delusion: but they Thall all be convicted by their conscience. Nill they, will they, they shall look on this book, read and be confounded, and stand speech. less, knowing that nothing is charged upon them by miltake; since : this is a book, which was always in their own custody. Thus shall the Judge mike every man see himself, in the glass of his own conscience, which will make quick work.
Thirdly, The book of the Law shall be opened. This book is the standard and rule, by which is known what is right, and what is wrong; as also, what sentence is to be paed accordiniy, on these who are under it. As to tbe opening of this book, in its ftatutory part, which thews what is sin, and what is duty; it fails in with the opening of the book of conscience. For conscience is ser, by the Sovereign Lawgiver, in every man's breast, to be his private teacher, to thew him the law, and his private paftor, to make application of the same; and, at that day, it will be perfectly fit for its office; so that the conscience, which is most stupid now, inail then read to the man, most accurate, but dreadful lectures, on the law. But wbat seems (mainly at least) pointed at, by the opening of this book, is the opening of that part of it, which determines the reward of mens works. Now, the law promisech life, upon perfect obedience: but none can be found on the right hand, or on the lefi, who will pretend to that, when once the book of consci. ence is opened, it ilireatneth death upon disobedience, and will ef. fectually bring it ypon all under its dominion. And this part of the book of the law, determining the reward of mens works, is
opened, only to thew what must be the portion of the ungodly, and that there they may read their sentence before it be pronounced. But it is 11ot opened for the sentence of the saints; for no sentence abo folving a dinner could ever be drawn out of it. The law promiseth lite, not as it is a rule of actions, but as a covenant of works: And therefore ipnocent man could not have demanded life upon his obedience, cill the law was reduced into the form of a cove. Aant; as was shewn before. But the faints having been, in this life, brought under a new covenant, namely, the covenant of grace, were dead to the law, as a covenant of works, and it was dead to them. Wherefore, as they shall not have any fears of death from it, so they can bave no hopes of life from it, since they are not un. der the law, but under grace, Rom. vi. 14. But, for their senter.ce, another book is opened; of which in the next place.
Thus the book of the law is opened, for the sentence againft all thofe on the left hand: and by it they will clearly fee the justice of the judgment against them, and how the Judge proceeds there. in according to law. Nevertheless, there will be this diffi rence, namely, that th:fe who had only the natural law, and lived not under any special revelation, Mall be judged by that law of nature they, had in their hearts : which law bears, that they who commit such things (as they will ftand convicted of) are worthy of death, Rom. i. 32. But there, who had the written law, to whom the word of God came, as it has founded in the vilible church, fhall bejudged by that written law. So fays the Apostle, Rom. ii. 12. For as many as havi finned without the written) law, Aall perish without (the written) law. and as many as have finned in the law (i. e. under the written law) shall be judged by the (written) law.
Lastly, Another book Mall be opened, :vhich is the bank of life, Rev. xx. 12. In this, the names of all the elect are written, as Christ said to his difciples, Luke x. 20 Your names are written in heaven. This book contains God's gracious and unchangeable purpose, co bring all the eld to eteral life; and that, in order thereto, they be redeemed by the blood of his Son, effectually called, jullified, adopted, fanctified, and raised up by him at the laft day without ain. It is now lodged in the Mediator's hand, as the book of the manner of the kingdom ; and having perfected the work the Father gave them to do; he shall, on the great day produce, and open the book, and present the perfons therein named, faultless before the présence of his glory, Jule 24. Not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph. v. 27. None of them all, who are named in the book, thall be mffing. They shall be found qualified, according to the order of the book, redeemed, called, justified, fanctified, raised up without fpot: what remains then, but that, according to the fome book, they obtain the great end, namely, everlafting life. This may be gathered from that precious promise, Rey.iii 5 * He that overcometh, the fame Ball be clothed in white raiment,
“ (being raised in glory) and I will not blot out his name out of the « book of life. But I will confess his name (it fhall be, were, " read out ainông the rest of God's elect) before my Father, and " before his angels.” Here is now the ground of the saints' absolviture, the ground of the blessed fentence they shall receive The book of life being opened, it will be known to all, who are elected, and who are not. Thus far of the trial of the parties.
Eightly, Then shall the Judge pronounce that blessed senience on the faints, “ Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom “prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” Matth xxv 34. It is most probable, the Man CHRIST will pronounce it with an audi. ble voice; which not only all the faints, but all the wicked likewise, fball hear and understand. Who can conceive the inexpressible joy;' with which these happy ones shall hear these words? Who can ima. gine that fulness of joy, which shall be poured into their hearts, with these words reaching their ears? And who can conceive how much of hell thall break into the hearts of all the ungodly crew, by these words of heaven? It is certain this fentence shall be pronounced before the fentence of damnation, Matth. xxv. 34.“ Then fall the King fay 6 unto them on his right hand. Carne ye blessed, &c. Ver 41. Then * fhall he fay also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye “ cursed, &c.” There is no need of this order, that the faints may, without fear or astonishinent, hear the other fentence on the reprobate : they who are raised in glory, caught up to meet the Lord in the air, presented without (pot, and whose fouls (for the far greater part of them) have been so long in heaven before, thall not be capable of any fuch fear. But hereby they will be orderly brought in, to fit in judgment, as Christ's afffors, against the ungodly: whose, torment will be aggravated by it. It will be a hell to them, to be kept out of hell, till they fee the doors of heaven opened to receive the saints, who once dwelt in the same world with them; and perhaps in the fame country, parish, or town, and lat under the fame ministry with themselves. Thus will they see heaven afar off, to make their hell the hotter. Like that unbelieving lord, 2 Kings vii. 19, 20. They “ fhall fee the plenty with their eyes, but thall not eat thereof." Every word of the blessed sentence shall be like an envenomed arrow fhot into their hearts, while they fee what they have lost, and from thence gather what they are to expect
This sentence paffeth on the faints according to their works, Rev xx. 12
But not for their works, nor for their frith neither, as if eternal life were merited by thein The sentence itfelf overthrows this abfur conceit. The kingdon they are called to, was“ prepared for them, from the foundation of the world;" not left to be merited by themselves, who were but of yefterday. They inherit it as fons, but procure it not to themselves, as fervunts do the reward of their work. They were redeemed by the blood of Chriit, and clothed with his spotless rightecufness, which is the proper cause of the sentence.