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the smallest matters ?” ver. 3. * Know ye not, that we shall judge angels ?” Being called, they come to receive their kingdom, in the view of angels and men ; they go as it were, from the bar to the throne, « To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me on my throne,” Rev. iii. 21. They shall not only judge the world in Christ their head, by way of communion with him ; by their works compared with these of the ungodly; or, by way of testimony against them: but they shall be assessors to Jesus Christ the Judge, giving their voice against them, consenting to his judgment as just, and saying, Amen, to the doom pronounced against all the ungodly ; as is said of the saints, upon the judgment of the great whore, Rey. xix. 1, 2. “ Hallelujah, for true and righteous are his judgments.” Thus the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning of the resurrection, Psal. xlix. 14. Then, and not till then, shall that be fully accomplished, which ye may read, Psal. cxlix. 6, 7, 8, 9. “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people, this honour have all his saints.” O! what a strange turn of affairs, will appear here ! what an astonishing sight will it be, to see wicked churchmen and statesmen, standing as criminals before the saints, whom sometimes they condemned as heretics, rebels and traitors ! to see men of riches and power, stand pale-faced before these whom they oppressed! to see the mocker stand trembling before these whom he mocked, the worldly-wise man before these whom he accounted fools! then shall the despised faces of the saints, be dreadful faces to the wicked; and those who were sometimes the song of the drunkards, shall then be a terror to them. All wrongs must be righted at length, and every one set in his proper place.
Tenthly, The Judge shall pronounce the sentence of damnation on all the ungodly multitude. “ Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," ver. 41. Fearful doom! and that from the same mouth, from whence proceed the sentence of absolution before. It was an aggravation of the misery of the Jews, yhen their city was destroyed, that they were ruined by
one who was accounted the darling of the world. O! :) what an aggravation of the misery of the wicked will it be, that he shall pronounce this sentence also ! to hear the curse from niount Zion, must needs be most terrible. To be damned by him, who came to save sinners, must be double damnation. But thus it shall be. The Lamb of God shall roar, as a lion against them : he shall excommunicate, and cast them out of his presence for ever, by a sentence from the throne, saying, “ Depart from me ye cursed.” He shall adjudge them to everlasting fire, and the society of devils for evermore. And this sentence also we suppose, shall be pronounced with an audible voice, by the man Christ. And ali the saints shall say, " Hallelujah, true and righteous are his judgments.” None were so compassionate as the saints, when on earth during the time of God's patience. But now that time is at an end, their compassion on the ungodly is swallowed-up in joy, in the Mediator's glory, and his executing of just judgment, by which his enemies are made his footstool. Though sometimes the righteous man did weep in secret places for their pride, and because they would not hear ; yet, then, “ He shall rejoice, when he seeth the vengeance ; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked," Psal. Iviii. 10. No pity shall be then shewn to them, from their nearest relations. The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the Judge, in the condemnation of her ungodly husband : the godly husband shall say, Amen, to the damnation of her who lay in his bosom : the godly parents shal say, Hallelujah, at the passing of the sentence against their ungodly child : and the godly child, shall from his heart, approve the damnation of his wicked parents, the father who begat him, and the mother who bore him. The sentence is just: they are judged “ according to their works," Rev. xx. 12.
There is no wrong done them: “ For I was hungry," saith our Lord, “ and ye gave me no meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in ; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not,” ver. 42, 43. These are not only evidences of their ungodly and cursed state, but most proper causes and grounds of their condemnation: for though good works do not merit salvation, yet evil works
merit damnation. Sins of one kind only, namely, of omission, are here mentioned; not that these alone shall then be discovered (for the opening of the books lay all open) but because these, tho' there were no more, are sufficient to damp unpardoned sinners. And if men,shall be condemned for sins of omission, much more for sins of commission. The omission of works of charity and mercy, is condescended on particularly, to stop the mouths of the wicked; for it is most just, that he have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy, James ii. 13. The mentioning of the omission of acts of charity and mercy towards the distressed members of Christ, intimates, that it is the judgment of those who have heard of Christ in the gospel, that is principally intended here, in this portion of scripture; and that the slighting of Christ, will be the great cause of the ruin of those who hear the gospel; but the enmity of the hearts of the wicked against himself is discovered by the entertainment they now give to his members.
In vain will they say, “ When saw we thee an hungered, athirst ?” &c. ver 44. For the Lord reckons, and will reckon, the world's unkindness to his people, unkindness to himself! « In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me,” ver. 45. O meat and drink unhappily spared, when a member of Christ was in need of it! ( wretched neglect, that the stranger sint was not taken in! it had been better for them, they had quitted their own room, and their own bed, than he had wanted lodging. O cursed clothing, may the wicked say, that was in my house, locked up in my chest, or hanging in my wardrobe, and was not brought out to clothe such a one! Oh that I had stripped myself, rather than he had gone away without clothing! Cursed business, that diverted me from visiting a sick saint ! O that I had rather watched whole nights with him. · Wretch that I was! why did I sit at ease in my house, when he was in prison, and not visit him ? But now the tables are turned; Christ's servants shall eat, but I shall be hungry ; his servants shall drink, but I shall be thirsty ; they rejoice, but l um. ashamed, Isa. Ixv. 13. They are taken in, bui I ain Cast out and bid depart; they are clothed with robes of glory, but I walk naked, and they see my shame, Rev. xvi.. 15. They are now raised up on high, beyond the reach of sickness or pain; but I must now lie down in sorrow, Isa. 1. 11. Now shall they go to the palace of heaven, but I must go to the prison of hell.
But if our Lord thus resents mens neglecting to help his people under these and the like distresses; what may they expect, who are the authors and instruments of them? If they shall be fed with wrath, who fed them not, when they were hungry ; what shall become of those, who robbed and spoiled them, and took their own bread away from them? What a full cup of wrath shall be the portion of those, who were so far from giving them meat or drink, when hungry or thirsty, that they made it a crime for others to entertain them, and made themselves drunken with their blood! they must lodge with devils for evermore, who took not in the Lord's people, when strangers ; then, what a lodging shall those have, who drave them out of their own houses, out of their native land, and made them strangers ? Men will be condemned for not clothing them when naked; then, how heavy must the sentence of those be, who have stripped them, and made them go without clothing? Surely, if not visiting of them in sickness, or in a prison, shall be so severely punished; they shall not escape a most heavy doom, who have cast them into prisons, and have them put under such hardships, as have impaired their health, brough: sickness on them, and cut their days in prison, or out of prison.
To put a face upon such wicked practices, men will pretend to retain an honour for Christ and religion, while they thus treat his members, walking in his ways, and keep. ing the truth. They are here represented to say, “ When saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or na. ked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" ver. 44. As if they should say, Our bread, drink, lodg. ing, clothing, and visits, were indeed refused, but not to Christ ; but to a set of men, of a bad character ; men who turned the world upside down,(Acts xvii. 6.) who troubled Israel, (2 Kings xviii. 17.) an humorous and fantastic sort of people, having laws diverse from all people; factious and rebellious (they did not keep the king's laws) and therefore a very dangerous set of men ; it was not for the kipg's profit to suffer them, Esther ñ. 8. But although men
cast iniquity upon the ungodly, and give them ill names, that they may treat them as criminals ; all these pretences will avail them nothing; in the great day, before the righteous Judge, nor before their own consciences neither ; but the real ground of their enmity against the saints, will be found, (to their own conviction) to be their enmity against Christ himself. This seems to be the import of the objection of the damned, (ver. 44. and of the answer to it, ver. 45.) “ In as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Lastly, Sentence being past on both parties, follows the full execution of the same, ver. 46. " And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” The damned shall get no reprieve, but go to their place without delay ; they shall be driven away from the judgment-seat into hell; and the saints shall erter into the king's palace, (Psal. xlv. 15.) namely, into heaven the seat of the blessed. But our Lord Christ, and his glorious company, shall keep the field that day, and see the backs of all their enemies : for the damned go off first.
In this day of the Lord, the great day, shall be the general conflagration, by which those visible heavens, the darth and sea shall pass away. Not that they shall be anpihilated (or reduced to nothing), that is not the operation of fire ; but they shall be dissolved, and purged by that fire, from all the effects of sin, or of the curse, upon them; and then renewed, and made glorious and stable. Of this conflagration, the Apostle Peter speaks, 2 Pet. iii. 10. - But 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 : the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” See also ver. 7, 12. And of the renewing of the world, he adds, ver. 13. “ Nevertheless we, according to his promise look for new heavens,and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
It seems most agreeable to the Scriptures, and to the Nature of the thing, to conceive this confiagration to follow-after the general judgment; sentence being past on both parties before it. And I judge it probable, that it will fall in with the putting of the sentence in execution