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against the damned ; so as they shall (according to theis sentence) depart, and the heavens and the earth pass away together and at once, at that furious rebuke from the throne, driving away the damned out of the world (in this fire) to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Even as, in the deluge, with which the Apostle Peter compares the conflagration or burning of the world, (2 Pet. iii. 6, 7.) the world itself, and the wicked upon its perished together; the same water which destroyed the Oarth, sweeping away the inhabitants. For it is not likely. that the wicked shall at all stand on the new earth, where. in dwelleth righteousness, 2 Pet. iii. 13. and as for this earth, it shall flee away, (which seems to denote a very quick dispatch) and it shall flee from his face, who sits on the throne, Rev. xx. 11. “ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the heavens and the earth fled away.” The execution of the sentence on the wicked, is also thus expressed: They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence, or from the face of the Lord, 2 Thess. i. 9. The original word is the same in both texts, the which being compared, seem to say, that these creatures being abused by the wicked, being left to stand, as witnesses against them in the judge ment, are, after sentence past on their abusers, made to pass away with them from the face of the judge. It is true, the fleeing away of the earth and heaven is narrated, Rev. xx. 11. before the judgment ; but that will not prove its going before the judgment, more than the narrating of the judgment, ver. 12, before the resurrection, ver. 13. will prove the judgment to be before it. Further, it is remarkable, in the execution of the sentence, Rev. xx. 14, 15. that not only the reprobate are cast into the lake, but dcath and hell are cast into it likewise ; all effects of sin, and of the curse, are removed out of the world (for which very cause shall the conflagration be) and they are confined to the place of the damned. Besides all this, it is evi. dent the end of the world is by the conflagration; and the Apostle tells us, (1 Cor. xv. 24, 35,) that “ then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”! The which last as it must be done before the end; so it seems not to be done, but by putting the sentence in execution, past in the day of judgment, against the wicked.
Now, if the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, that are ; set forth for an example, (Jude 7,) was so dreadful ; how terrible will that day be, when the whole world shall be at once in flames ! how will wretched worldlings look, when their darling world shall be all set on fire? Then shall strong castles, and towering palaces, with all their rich furniture, go up together in one flame with the lowest cottages. What heart can fully conceive the terror of that day to the wicked, when the whole fabric of heaven and earth, shall at once be dissolved by that fire! when that miserable company shall be driven from the tribunal to the pit, with fire within them, and fire without them; and fire behind them, and on every hand of them; and fire before them, awaiting them in the lake, whether this fire (for ought appears) may follow them!
As for the particular place of this judgment, though some point us to the valley of Jehoshaphat for it, yet our Lord, who knew it, being asked the question by his disciples, “Where Lord ?” told them only, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together," Luke xvii. 37. After which answer, it is too much for men to renew the question. As for the time when it shall be ; in vain do men search for what the Lord has purposely kept secret, Acts i. 8. “ It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” The Apostle Paul, after having very plainly described the second coming of Christ, 1 Thess. iv, 16, 17, adds, (chap. y. 2.) “ But of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh, as a thief in the night.”. Nevertheless, some in several ages, have made very bold with the time ; and several particular years, which are now past, have been given out to the world, for the time of the end, by men who have pried into the secrets of God. Time has proclaimed to the world their rashness and folly ; and it is likely, they will be no more happy in their conjectures, whose determinate time is yet to come. Let us rest in that he cometh. God hath kept the day hid from us, that we may be every day rea
dy for it, Matth. xxv. 13. “ Watch therefore, for ye know beither the day nor the hour, wherein the Son of man eometh.” And let us remember, that the last day of our life will determine our state, in the last day of the world; and as we die, so shall we be judged.
I shall now shut up this subject, with some application of what has been said.
Use I. Of comfort to all the saints. Here is abundance of consolation to all who are in the state of grace. What ever be your afflictions in the world, this day will make up all your losses. “Though ye have lain among the pots, ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers of yellow gold," Psalm lxviii. 13. Though the world reproach, judge and condemn you, the Judge wili at that day absolve you, and bring forth your righteousness as the light. The world's fools, will then appear to have been the only wise men that were in it. Though the cross be heavy, you may well bear it in expectation of the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge will then give you. If the world do despise you, and treat you with the utmost contempt, regard it not; the day cometh therein you shall sit with Christ on his throne. Be not discouraged, by reason of manifold temptations : but resist the devil, in confidence of a full and complete victory; for you shall judge the tempter at last. Though you have had wrestling now with the body of sin and death; yet ye shall get all your enemies under your feet at length, and be presented faultless before the presence of his glory. Let not the terror of that day dispirit you, wlien you think upon it; det these who have slighted the Judge, and continue enemies to him, and to the way of holiness, droop and hang down their heads when they think of his coming; but lift ye up your heads with joy, for the last day will be your best day. The Judge is your Head and Husband, your Redeemer, and your Advocate. Ye must appear before the judgment-seat, but ye shall not come into condemnation, John v. 24. His coming will not be against you, but for you. He came in the flesh, to remove the lawful inpediments of the spiritual marriage, by his death; he came in the gospel to you, to espouse you to himself; he will come, at the last day, to solemnize the marriage, and take
the bride home to his Father's house. 6 Even so come Lord Jesus." · USE II. Of Terror to all unbelievers. This may serve to awaken a secure generation, a world lying in wicked. ness, as if they were never to be called to an account for it; and slighting thé Mediator as if he were not to judge them. Ah! how few have the lively impressions of the judgment to come! Most men live, as if what is said of it, from the word, were but idle tales. The profane lives of many, speak the thoughts of it to be far from their hearts, and in very deed makes a mock of it before the world, saying in effect, Where is the promise of his coming? The hypocrisy of others, who blind the eyes of the world with a splendid profession, being in appearance Christ's sheep, while they are indeed the devil's goats, is an evidence, that the great separation of the sheep from the goats, is very little laid to heart. How do many indulge in secret wickedness, of which they would be ashamed before witnesses; not considering that their most secret thoughts and actions will, at that day, be discovered, before the great congregation ! How eagerly are men hearts set on the world, as if it were to be their everlasting ha. bitation! The solemn assemblies, and public ordinances, wherein the Judge is upon a transaction of peace with the criminals are undervalued ; mens hearts will swim like feathers in the waters of the sanctuary, that will sink, like stones, to the bottom, in cares of this life : They will be very serious in trifles of this world, and trifle in the most serious and weighty things of another world. But O! consider the day that is approaching, in which Christ sball come to judgment; the world shall be summoned, by the sound of the last trumpet, to compear before his tribunal. The Judge shall sit on his throne, and all nations shall be sisted before him ; the separation shall be made betwixt the godly and the wicked, the books opened, and the dead judged out of them; one party shall be adjudged to everlasting life, and the other to everlasting fire, according to their works.
It would be a sight of admirable curiosity, if thou €ouldst wrap up thyself in some dark cloud, or hide thyself in the cleft of some high rock, from whence thou mightest espy wicked kings, princes, judges, and great ones of the earth, rising out of their marble tombs, and brought to the bar, to answer for all their cruelty, injustice, oppression, and profanity, without any marks of distinction, but what their wickedness puts upon them : Profane, unholy and unfaithful churchmen, pursued with the curses of the ruined people, from their graves to the judgmentseat, and charged with the blood of souls, to whom they gave no faithful warning: Mighty men standing trembling before the Judge, unable to recover their wonted boldness, to out-wit him with their subtilties, or defend themselves by their strength : Delicate women cast forth of their graves, as abominable branches, dragged to the tribunals to aliswer for their ungodly lives : The ignorant, suddenly taught in the law, to their cost; and the learned declared, before the world, fools and laborious triflers ; the atheist convinced, the hypocrite unmasked; and the pro fane, at long run, turned serious about his eternal state : Secret murders, adulteries, thefts, cheats, and other works of darkness, which scorned all human search, discovered and laid open before the world, with their most minute circumstances: No regard had to the rich, no pity shewn to the poor : The scales of the world turned ; oppressed and despised piety set on high ; and prosperous wickedness at last brought low : All, not found in Christ, arraigned, convicted, and condemned without respect of persons, and driven from the tribunal to the pit ; while these found in him, at that day, being absolved before the world, go wiih him into heaven. Nay, but thou canst not so escape. Thyself, whosoever thou art, not being in Christ, must bear a part in this tragical and frightful action.
Sinner, that same Lord Christ, whom thou now despisest, whom thou woundest through the sides of his messengers, and before whom thou dost prefer thy lusts, will be thy Judge. And a aeglected Saviour will be a severe Judge. O! what mountain, what rock wilt thou get to fall on thee, and hide thee from the face of him that sit. teth on the throne ? Thou hast now a rock within thee, a heart of adamant, so that thou canst count the darts of the world as stubble, and laugh at the shaking of the spear : But that rock will rent, at the sight of the Judge; that hard heart will then break, and thou shalt weep and wail,