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SERMON I.

"IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MAN ONCE TO DIE, BUT AFTER

THIS THE JUDGMENT.”

DELIVERED IN BOSTON ON THE SECOND SABBATH IN FEB. 1818.

HEB. IX. 27, 28

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judg

ment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation."

Being sensible that the common opinion entertained of this portion of divine truth, is in a very important sense different from what I am fully persuaded the Apostle designed to communicate, it seems reasonable that the hearer should be advertised of this circumstanoc in the introduction of the subject. If the audience should pass the time of the introduction with minds directed to, and possessed of the general opinion of a day of judgment in a future state, which is the subject to which our text is applied, by almost universal consent, it might be difficult for the hearer to undergo so great a transition at once, as would be required, in order to gain a clear view of the true sense of the passage under consideration.

In order, therefore, that the candid inquirer after truth, should not be too much embarrassed with traditional notions on this subject, it is thought expedient to bring the general opinion of the text first into view, and expose its improprieties, so that the mind, being satisfied, in some degree at least, of the error of the commonly

received opinion, may be the more easily conducted to the right sense of the text.

This part of duty is always attended with some unpleasant sensations to the labourer. He feels the necessity of approaching this work with caution. In performing this, he well knows that there is danger of wounding those who are involved in the error to be corrected, and the delicate ear which shrinks from the language of controversy

But notwithstanding all difficulties, necessary labour must be done and done faithfully. An architect whom you might see fit to employ to repair your house, might, on due examination, find that the labour and expense of repairing would be surely lost, for want of soundness in the foundation ; and however disagreeable it might be to you to hear it, or to him to declare it, yet it would be most consistent with your interest and his duty.

But it is hard to give up the ancient, the venerable, though decayed building. The habitations of our fathers hold our fond hearts with a sort of charm that is not easily broken. But from this digression we may return to our subject.

This passage read for our present consideration, as has already been hinted, is generally applied to the subject of a day of judgment, in a future state, when and where all mankind will be brought to trial, duly examined, judged and rewarded according to their works in this mortal life. Some of the absurdities of this notion of a future judgment, I have pointed out in a discourse which I recently delivered in this house, and which has since been published. That sermon, having stirred up the minds of the thoughtful, has thereby, been the means of calling our present subject into consideration ; which gives me another occasion to attend to this very important inquiry.

As this judgment is supposed to mean a decision to be formed, on due examination and investigation of character and conduct, how it is possible

for one who knew all things from the beginning, to be the judge in such a case ? Is it reasonable to suppose that the divine Being has got to make up his judgment hereafter on the just deserts of his dependent offsprings ? It is confidently believed, that no reasonable person on due consideration, can suppose that the infinitely wise and omniscient Deity will ever set, like a judge on his bench, to examine evidences for and against his creatures in order to make up his mind and judgment concerning their merits and demerits. Our creator must have known, before man was formed of the dust of the ground, all the future. thoughts and actions of the numerous sons and daughters of Adam, to the latest generation which shall inhabit the earth. How preposterously erroneous are the declarations of enthusiasts, who, to operate on the weakness of credulity, have threatened their hearers of witnessing against them at the bar of God! As if the Almighty, having difficult cases to determine, will have occasion to call on them to testify in evidence! All this goes down very well with two classes of people ; (viz.) those who believe every thing the preacher says on his authority, and those who care nothing about religion, and never go to the house of worship with other than worldly motives.

It was asked, in the sermon before alluded to, whether at the great day, so much talked of, those poor wretched immortals, who had lived in the torments of hell thousands of years, would then be permitted to have their trial ? It was also asked, if those who had been in heaven for ages and ages, would at the day of judgment, be put to the tribunal for adjudication ? These questions may be called by hard names without being answered.

St. Paul was the author of our text; we may therefore inquire how this notion of a future day of judgment agrees with what he says in other passages. See Phil. i. 23, “ For I ain in a strait

betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better.” How could the Apostle determine whether he was to be with Christ? If he believed that he had got to have his trial in another world, was it his province to determine what the final issue would be ? See again, 2d Cor. v. 1, "For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." How could the Apostle decide on this infinitely important subject until after the day of judgment ? If St. Paul knew how the case would be decided, did not the judge know? If the judge knew and informed the Apostle, the conclusion is, there could be no further adjudication relative to the case.

This Apostle, when treating more largely and more particularly on the subject of the resurrection, in 1st Cor. 15, than he or any other divine author has done in the scriptures, mentions not one word about any judgment. He says, “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.-And as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

Here your servant fervently calls for more than ordinary attention. He subrnits to his christian brethren and hearers the weighty question, (viz.) has the Apostle given the least reason to believe, that after this infinitely glorious resurrection, into IMMORTALITY, INCORRUPTION AND GLORY, there will be, in this immortal state, a day of judgment and retribution according to the works of men in this mortal corruptible state? This question is on the merits of our subject.

The scriptures inform us of a salvation " not according to our works :" they speak of the justifi

cation of sinners through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, &c. Now if sinners are to be condemned and punished in another world according to their conduct in this, when and where are they justified freely by the grace of God? When and where are they saved, not according to their works ? Jesus said to the unbelieving Sadducees who denied the resurrection, Matt. 22, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage ; but are as the angels of God in heaven. So much the blessed Redeemer informed them, but gave no intimation, that after men were raised from the dead and were made like unto the Angels of God in heaven, they would be judged and punished for their follies in Aesh and blood. He has never informed us, that the immortal state will have to endure the punishments due to crimes committed in a state of mortality.

As the limits of a sermon will by no means admit of noticing all that belongs to this argument, and believing that the hearer must be, measurably, if not fully satisfied that wrong notions have been entertained concerning a day of judgment in another world, we come to consider our text according to the connection in which it is found.

Writing to the Hebrews, the Apostle very prudently endeavours to lead their minds into the true knowledge of Christ, by using the rites of the law dispensation, to which they were religiously attached, to represent Jesus and his ministry of reconciliation. In our context he draws a parallel between the high priest under the law, and the great Apostle and high priest of our christian profession; and between the holy place under the Levitical priesthood, and the holy place, even heaven itself, into which Jesus entered for us. See verse 23. "It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be puriñed with these; but the heavenly things them

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