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We find all secrets are to be brought into judgment; actions the most minute, even every idle word is to be accounted for: and if such is to be the case, and to deny it would be denying one of the clearest and most certain doctrines of the Christian religion, upon what ground of reasoning, what construction of words, or rule of argument can the proceedings of that day, as above described, be reconciled with a remission of sins on earth?
Can it be supposed that a sinner, having had his sins remitted in this life, will be then called upon to account for them ? Even the supposition is too absurd to admit of one moment's hesitation, or to raise the shadow of a doubt. God, who is “ righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works,” and “ is not the author of confusion,” would never suffer such an inconsistency to go to his people, and be published as his word. Was the day of judgment to be restricted merely to passing of sentence, either of condemnation or vindication of mankind, the tenet, or principle of remission of sins on earth, might be reconciled with such a construction; but how different do we find the description in Scripture; every idle word, every work, every secret thing is to be adduced, and the secrets of all hearts are then to be judged. And for what purpose are all these to be brought into judgment ? Most undoubtedly to be investigated, examined, and a final sentence or determination then made, and not only made but acted upon, and the doom of all human beings finally fixed or decreed; and, as man is to have remission of sins through the blood of his Redeemer, and salvation awarded him, when are those sins for which Christ bled
the cross to be remitted and forgiven, if not at the time they are brought forward, examined, and considered? It is impossible any glossing, subtlety, or ingenuity of man can so pervert the plain, clear, and irresistible effect of words as to be able to do away, or even in any way weaken the force of this single argument against the remission of sins on earth ; and if there is any such thing as a reliance upon man's reason, the conclusion to be drawn from this argument must be, it is conceived, so irrefragable as not to leave an atom of doubt in the minds of the most prejudiced persons. The two doctrines, or tenets, the day of judgment and remission of sins in this life, are so incompatible, that there does not seem any reasonable way by which they can be reconciled, according to Scripture, with each other. It is impossible that any refinement can produce a colourable, much less tenable ground for their co-existence. It would be nothing more nor less than saying, although man has had his sins remitted on earth, yet that God will call upon him to account for them at the day of judgment.
We will now see what St. Paul has said respecting his own justification and when it is to take place, that is, when he expected to be judged.
1 Cor. iv. 3 “ But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment : yea I judge not mine own self.”
Ibid. iv. 4. “For I know nothing by myself ; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”
Ibid. iv. 5. “ Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts : and then shall every man have praise of God.”
2 Tim. iv. 7. “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Ibid. iv. 8. “ Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day : and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
St. Paul in the Corinthians says in plain language, that he is not justified ; surely if any man could have been entitled to justification or pardon of his sins on earth, or in his own words He also says
have the praise of God, he must have been, having " kept the faith ;” but he says, "judge nothing before the time until the Lord come,” when was that to be? He has also in another place told us, “in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel "."
“ he that judgeth me is the Lord.” Can words speak plainer that justification must take place at the day of judgment ? He has most clearly united justification and judgment together, and it is impossible to put any other construction upon his words, but that he expected his own justification would take place when he is judged, and according to his own words it may undoubtedly be inferred that he was to be judged before he was justified: this has been the general understanding of his words by all commentators : and in confirmation of what he stated in Corinthians, he has in Timothy said “ Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And when it may be asked from St. Paul's own words was he to be made righteous ? or to receive the crown of righteousness which was laid up for him ? He states “at that day ” he had before stated that the quick and dead
a Rom. ii. 16.
were to be judged at Christ's appearing”, that is, the day of judgment. Justification, as Bishop Tomline has stated, is "being accounted just or righteous in the sight of God." St. Paul in an expressive and beautiful manner has stated that “a crown of righteousness” is laid up for him, not received ; and which will be given him at the day of judgment : this one text speaks volumes if there is any meaning in words. No texts in Scripture can be more confirmatory one of the other than the above are; those in Corinthians shew that God is to judge him (St. Paul) as well as all mankind, and at that judgment the hidden things of darkness will be brought to light, and the counsels of the heart will be made manifest, and every one that is then found faithful shall “ have praise of God,” that is, be accepted and justified by him : and those in Timothy, that he, St. Paul, “ had kept the faith,” for which he was at “ that day,” the day of judgment, to have “a crown of righteousness :" the crown of righteousness must mean that he would then be cleansed and absolved from all sin, and perfected in righteousness and true holiness, and made fit to receive the inheritance of the Saints in light, and a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
b 2 Tim. iv, 1. • Elements of Christian Theology, vol. ii. p. 250.