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“ To smooth and lengthen out the boundless space,
And spread an area for all human race.” But perhaps it is more agreeable to our Lord's own account of his coming in the clouds, to suppose it will be above the earth, if not “twice a planetary height.” And this supposition is not a little favoured by what St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians : “The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who remain alive, shall be caught up together with then, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.) So that it seems most probable, the great white throne will be high exalted above the earth.
4. The Persons to be Judged, who can count, any more than the drops of rain, or the sands of the sea ? “I beheld,” saith St. John, “a great multitude, which no man can number, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” How immense then must be the total multitude of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and toogues; of all that have sprung from the loins of Adam, since the world began, till time shall be no more! If we admit the common supposition, which seems no ways absurd, that the earth bears, at any one time, no less than four hundred millions of living souls, men, women, and children ; what a congregation inust all those generations make, who have succeeded each other for seven thousand years !
“Great Xerxes' world in arms, proud Canne's host,
They all are here; and here they all are lost.
Lost as a drop in the unbounded main.” Every man, every woman, every infant of days that ever breathed the vital air, will then hear the voice of the Son of God, and start into life, and appear before him. And this seems to be the natural import of that expression, “the dead, small and great:” all universally, all without exception, all of every age, sex, or degree; all that ever lived and died, or underwent such a change as will be equivalent with death. For long before that day, the phantom of human greatness disappears, and sinks into nothing. Even in the moment of death, that vanishes away. Who is rich or great in the grave ?
5. And every man shall there "give an account of his own works ;” yea, a full and true account of all that he ever did while in the body, whether it was good or evil. O what
a scene will then be disclosed, in the sight of angels and men !while not the fabled Rhadamanthus, but the Lord God Almighty, who knoweth all things in heaven and in earth,
“ Castigatque auditque dolos; subigitque fateri
Quæ quis apud superos, furto lætatus inani,
Distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem.” * Nor will all the actions alone of every child of man bc then brought to open view, but all their words; secing “every idle word which men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment ;” (Matt. xij. 36, 37;) so that “by thy words,” as well as works, “thou shalt be justified : and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Will not God theu bring to light cvery circumstance also, that accompanied every word or action, and if not altered the nature, yet lessened or increased the goodness or badness of them ? And how casy is this to Him, who is “about our bed, and about our path, and spieth out all our ways ?” We know “the darkness is no darkness to Him, but the night shineth as the day.”
6. Yea, he will bring to light, not the hidden works of darkness only, but the very thoughts and intents of the heart. And what marvel ? For he“ scarcheth the reins and understandeth all our thoughts.” “All things are naked and open to the cyes of Him with whom we have to do.” “Hell and destruction are before him without a covering. How much more the hearts of the children of men!”
7. And in that day shall be discovered every inward working of every human soul ; every appetite, passion, inclination, affection, with the various combinations of them, with every temper and disposition that constitute the whole complex character of each individnal. So shall it be clearly and infallibly seen, who was righteous, and who uurighteous; and in what degree every action, or person, or character, was either good or evil.
8. “Then the King will say to them upon his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a
* O'er these drear rcalms stern Rhadananthus reigns,
stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me." In like manner, all the good they did upon earth will be recited before men and angels; whatsoever they had done, either in word or deed, in the name, or for the sake, of the Lord Jesus. All their good desires, intentions, thoughts, all their holy dispositions, will also be then remembered ; and it will appear, that though they were unknown or forgotten among men, yet God noted them in his book. All their sufferings likewise for the name of Jesus, and for the testimony of a good conscience, will be displayed, unto their praise from the righteous Judge, their honour before saints and angels, and the increase of that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
9. But will their evil deeds too, (since, if we take in his whole life, there is not a man on earth that liveth and sinneth not,) will these be remembered in that day, and mentioned in the great congregation ? Many believe they will not ; and ask, “Would not this imply, that their sufferings were not at an end, even when life ended ?-seeing they would still have sorrow, and shame, and confusion of face to endure.” They ask farther, “How can this be reconciled with God's declaration by the Prophet, 'If the wicked, will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right; all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be once mentioned unto him.' (Ezek. xviii. 21, 22.) How is it consistent with the promise which God has made to all who accept of the Gospel-covenant, I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sin no more?' (Jer. xxxi, 34.) Or, as the Apostle expresses it, I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more?'” (Heb. viii. 12.)
10. It may be answered, It is apparently and absolutely · necessary, for the full display of the glory of God; for the clear and perfect manifestation of his Wisdom, Justice, Power, and Mercy, toward the heirs of salvation ; that all the circumstances of their life should be placed in open view, together with all their tempers, and all the desires, thoughts, and intents of their hearts : otherwise, how would it appear out of what a depth of sin and misery the grace of God had delivered them ? And, indeed, if the whole lives of all the children of men were not manifestly discovered, the whole
amazing contexture of Divine Providence could not be mani fested ; nor should we yet be able, in a thousand instances, “ to justify the ways of God to man.” Unless our Lord's words were fulfilicd in their utmost sense, without any restriction or limitation), “ There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, or liid that shall not be known;” (Matt. X. 26 :) abundance of God's dispensations under the sun would stiil appear without their reasous. And then only when God hath brought to light all the hidden things of darkness, whosoever were the actors therein, will it be seen that wise and good were all bis ways; that he saw through the thick cloud, and governed all things by the wise counsel of his own Will; that nothing was left to chance or the caprice of men, but God disposed all strongly and sweetly, and wrought all into one connected chain of justice, mercy, and truth.
11. And in the discovery of the divine perfections, the righteous will rejoice with joy unspeakable; far from feeling any painful sorrow or shame, for any of those past transgressions which were long since blotted out as a cloud, washed away by the blood of the Lamb. It will be abundantly sufficient for them, that all the transgressions which they had committed, shall not be once mentioned unto them, to their disadvantage; that their sins, and transgressions, and iniquities shall be remembered no more, to their condemnation. This is the plain meaning of the promise; and this all the children of God shall find true, to their ererlasting comfort.
12. After the Righteous are judged, the King will turn to them upon his left hand, and they shall also be judged, every man according to his works. But not only their outward works will be brought into the account, but all the evil words which they have ever spoken ; yca, all the cvil desires, affections, tempers, which have, or bave bad, a place in their souls; and all the evil thoughts or designs which were erer cherished in their hearts. The joyful sentence of acquittal will then be pronounced upon those mjon the right hand ; the dreadful sentence of condemnation upon those on the left; both of which must remain fixed and unmovcable as the Throne of God.
III. ). We may, in the Third place, consider a few of the Circumstances which will fullow the General Judgment. And the first is the execution of the sentence pronounced on the evil and on the good : “ These shall go away into eternal
punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” It should be observed, it is the very same word which is used, both in the former and the latter clause: it follows, that either the punishment lasts for ever, or the reward too will come to an end :-No, never, unless God could come to an end, or his mercy and truth could fail. “ Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father,” “and shall drink of those rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand for evermore.” But here all description falls short: all human language fails ! Only one who is caught up into the third heaven can have a just conception of it. But even such a one cannot express what he hath seen : these things it is not possible for man to utter.
The wicked, meantime, shall be turned into hell, even all the people that forget God. They will be " punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” They will be “ cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone,” originally “ prepared for the Devil and his angels ;” where they will gnaw their tongues for anguish and pain, they will curse God and look upward. There the dogs of hell, pride, malice, revenge, rage, horror, despair, continually devour them. There “ they have no rest, day or night, but the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever!" For “ their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
2. Then the heavens will be shrivelled up as a parchment scroll, and pass away with a great noise : they will “ flee from the face of Him that sitteth on the Throne, and there will be found no place for them.” (Rev. xx. 11.) The very manner of their passing away is disclosed to us by the Apostle Peter : “ In the day of God, the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved.” (2 Pet. iii. 12.) The whole beautiful fabric will be overthrown by that raging element, the connection of all its parts destroyed, and every atom torn asunder from the others. By the same, “ The earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (Ver. 10.) The enormous works of nature, the everlasting hills, mountains that have defied the rage of time, and stood unmoved so many thousand years, will sink down in fiery ruin. How much less will the works of art, though of the most durable kind, the utmost effort of human industry,-tombs, pillars, triumphal arches, castles, pyramids,—be able to withstand the