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and fools that are not capable to judge of the indecency and turpitude of actions, be spectators, men are not touched with shame for foul things. But then their wickedness shall be displayed before God, the holy angels and saints. The actual belief of this would deprive satan of one of his greatest advantages, and be a blessed preservative from many sins that allure the consent by the temptation of secrecy. A considering christian will reject them with indignation, saying with Joseph, “ how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?” The sins undiscovered and unpunished by temporal tribunals, shall then receive a just recompence.
5. The remembrance of that strict judgment is the most natural and powerful remedy against sensual temptations that so easily insinuate and engage the hearts of men. St. Peter reckoning up the heathens' sins,“ lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings,” and “ abominable idolatries" tells the christians, " that the Gentiles thought it strange that they did not run with them to the same excess of riot.” 1 Pet. 4. 3, 4. As the disciples when our Saviour walked upon the waters, thought he had been a spirit, judging that no real body could tread on them without sinking: thus men are apt to think it impossible to restrain their carnal appetites when allured by pleasing objects. But the belief of the terrors of the Lord will damp the sensual affections when most strongly inclined to forbidden things, and extinguish delight in sin: for delight and fear are inconsistent. Therefore the wise preacher gives this counsel, “rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and sight of thine eyes : but know thou for all these things God will bring thee to judgment.” Eccles. 11. This will change the apprehensions of the mind, and alter the taste of the appetite, and make the most enticing and irresistible lusts the objects of our greatest detestation.
6. The consideration that the Son of God, clothed with our nature, shall judge the world, “ affords strong consolation" to his people, and is a motive of great terror to the wicked. How comfortable is it to his people that he who loved them above his life, and was their Redeemer on the cross, shall be their Judge on the throne ? “ He is the same Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, and for ever;" the same indulgent Saviour in the exaltation
of his glory, as when under sufferings, reproach and shame. He is described in that glorious appearance, by the conjunct titles of his majesty and power, “ the Great God,” Tit. 2. 12, 13. and of his compassion and mercy, “our Saviour," to signify his ability and affection to make them happy. When he comes with a heavenly train of angels to judgment, he will be as tender of his servants, as when he suffered for them in his humble state, He that paid their debt, and sealed their pardon with his own blood, will certainly publish the acquittance. How is it possible he should condemn those for whom he died, and who appear with the impressions of his reconciling blood upon them? How reviving is it that Christ, whose glory was the end and perfection of their lives, Phil. 1. shall dispose their states for ever? that he, who esteems every act of their charity and kindness done to his servants as done to himself, shall dispense the blessed reward? “ Then the King will say to them placed on his righthand, come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world.” Matt. 25. O the transports of joy to hear those words from his life-breathing lips! The prophet breaks forth’in an ecstacy,“ how beautiful are the feet of the messengers of peace, those that bring glad tidings of salvation! but how much more beautiful is the face of the Author of our peace and salvation !” O how full of serenity, and clemency, and glory! The expectation of this makes them languish with impatience for his coming. Though the preparations of that day are so dreadful, when“ the sun shall be darkened, and the moon turned into blood,” Acts 2. and the stars fall like leaves in autumn, yet it is styled a “ day of refreshment” to the saints. - But how dreadful will his coming in majesty to judgment be to the wicked! * “ They shall see him whom they have pierced," and with bitter lamentation remember the indignities offered to him. What excuses can they alledge, why they did not believe and obey the gospel ? Our Saviour revealed high mysteries, but confirmed them with great miracles. He required 'strict holiness, but offered divine grace to enable men to do his will. “ He poured forth his Spirit upon them,” but their hearts were
Videtis vulnera quæ infixistis, agnoscitis latus quod pupugistis, quoniam & per vos, & propter vos apertum est, nec intrare voluistis. Aug.
as hard as rocks, and as barren as the sands. Then he will reproach them for their insolent contempt of all the perfections of his divine nature, and the bleeding sufferings of his human nature to reconcile them to God : for their undervaluing “ neglect of the great salvation,” so dearly purchased, and so freely and earnestly offered to them : for their obstinacy, that the purple streams that flowed from his crucified body, that all the sorrows and agonies of his soul were not effectual persuasives to make them forsake their sins : for their “ preferring the bramble to reign over them,” satan the destroyer of souls, and ungrateful “ rejecting the true vine,” the blessed Saviour, who by so many miraculous mercies solicited their love, and deserved their service; this will make the sentence as just as terrible, and the more terrible because just. This will exasperate the anguish, that the gospel shall be a “ savour of death to them ;" and the blessed Redeemer pronounce them “ cursed,” and dispatch them “ to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels for ever.” The judgment of the Redeemer will be more heavy than that of the Creator. For all the riches of his goodness which they despised, shall be the measure of their guilt and woes. All the means of grace used for their conversion, but frustrated by their perverseness, shall be charged upon their score. What consternation will seize the wicked, when ten thousand accusers shall rise up in judgment against them, and not one advocate appear for their defence ? Satan will be ready to aggravate their sins above his own : for although the superior excellence of his nature and state did heighten his obligation, and consequently his disobedience to his Creator, and that he sinned of himself, derived a guilt upon him exceeding that of man's original sin, who was seduced to his ruin ; yet in that justice was so quick and severe, that the angels after their sin were immediately expelled from their blessed habitation, no space of repentance was allowed ; and no mediator interposed to obtain terms of reconciliation with the incensed Deity, their doom was final and irrevocable : but after our rebellious sin, the Son of God, such was his immortal love, was willing to be mortal to redeem sinful men, and freely offered himself a sacrifice to atone the divine displeasure : and a day of grace and long-sufferance was granted, and many compassionate invitations were sent from heaven to
soften their stony hearts: but they neglected and despised the grace of the gospel, and wilfully excluded themselves from mercy. In this respect they are more guilty than the fallen angels; and justice will revenge the abuse of mercy. Do they hope to soften the Judge by submissions and deprecations ? Alas! he will be inflexible to all their prayers and tears. The Lamb will be then a lion armed with terrors for their destruction. Or can they appeal to a higher court to mitigate or reverse the sentence ? No, his authority is supreme, and confirmed by the immutable oath of God. Or, do they think to resist the execution of the sentence ? Desperate folly! The angels, notwithstanding their numbers and strength, could not for a moment escape his revenging hand. The whole world of sinners is of no more force against his wrath, than the light dust against a whirlwind, or dry stubble against devouring fire. Or do they think, by a stubborn spirit, to endure it? Self-deceiving wretches ! If the correction of his children here, though allayed, and for their amendment, make “ their beauty and strengh consume away as a moth,” how insupportable will the vengeance be on his obstinate enemies ? « Who knows the power of his anger ?” Who can sound the depths of his displeasure ?
The consideration of eternal judgment should powerfully move us to prepare
for it. Rules of our acceptance in that day, Unfeigned faith in the Lord Jesus is absolute;y necessary for our acceptance. The pardon of our sins, and the rewarding our services, is opon the account of our Saviour's neri. torious obedience and sufferings. Sincere and uniform obedience will be only accepted of our Judge. The frequent trial of conscience prepares us for the last judgment. This leads to repentance for past sins, and preserves from sios afterwards. The improving of our talents will make the last judgment comfortable. The zealous maintaining the truth and cause of Christ, will be rewarded in the last judgment. A beneficent love to the afflicted saints shall then be rewarded. An excitation to watch and pray, that we may with comfort appear before the everlasting Judge.
IE consideration of eternal judgment should be a powerful incentive to prepare ourselves for it. The affair is infinitely serious, for it concerns our salvation or damnation for ever. Yet the pleasures and business of the world fasten men in security, and hinder the entire application of their minds to prepare for their last account. It is an awful caution of our Saviour to his disciples, “ take heed lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares: for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth.” A dissolute voluptuous course of life is joined with a brutish neglect of God and the soul : and the indulging the carnal appetite, though not in such enormous excesses as the profane are guilty of, alienates the minds of men from due considering their spiritual state, and lessens the preventive fear that makes us serious and diligent “ to be found of God in peace.” And others are so involved in secular business, that they are not at leisure to regard the “ one thing necessary :" their minds are so overshadowed with the cares of the present world, they cannot take a right aspect of the world to come. The flood broke in upon the old world whilst they “ were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling," and destroyed them all.