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But to proceed. To the judgment of Omnipotence, in all the strictness of unmixed severity, the head of every man calls on the avenging God to awake.
Fourthly, The consequence. So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes, therefore, return thou on high.
This was the joy which was set before him, and for which he endured the cross ; so shall the congregation of the people compass thee about.
Thus doth our great representative draw near, and with gladness of heart, to that judgment which is to result in the glory of God, and in peace and good will to the family of man.
That the whole congregation shall compass God about, that he shall be in the midst of them as the burning bush, that he shall be in the midst of them as their everlasting light and glory, is in my mind beyond a doubt, and it was this prospect which rose most splendid to the eye of the Redeemer, this Divine consummation which could be accomplished in no other way than by the manifestation of God in the flesh, than by his being made under the law, and receiving for the transgressious of the individuals, who made up the aggregate of his body, the sentence of that righteous law, in all its rigour, according as it is written, the soul that sinneth shall die.
It was to this judgment, thus invoked; that the congregation of the people might be brought into the presence of God, and compass him about; that Jesus Christ stepped forth, and cheerfully offered himself to appear in the sinner's stead, to stand at the bar, and there to receive the judgment that God had commanded ; that so the Divine truth may not in one jot or tittle fail. O glorious grace! O wondrous love! It is not surprising that it constrained an apostle to exclaim, “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.”
Our Saviour had a baptisni to be baptized with, and how was he straitened until it was accomplished !-Hark! he calls on the rightous God to awake to judgment.-Awake! What! Did God ever slumber, or sleep? No, the Keeper of Israel never slumbereth. But the expression is synonimous with a passage in Zechariah, “ Awake, O sword, against my shepherd;" it is to signify that the judgment of the offending race should no longer be deferred ; that the redemption so much for the honour of the purchaser, and the glory of his name, should immediately proceed; and as the people, and him by whom they were ransomed, were, in a passive sense, considered as one; he says, awake for me to the judgment thou hast commanded: why ? that the congregation may compass thee about.
Blessed, forever blessed be God, for Jesus Christ, whom he has sent! how great is his goodness! For their sakes, therefore, return thou on high. Who can trace these divine testimonies, and not find his heart penetrated with gratitude ?
For their sakes. This alone is sufficient to prove, that the salvation of the people is here intended. For the sake of those souls that he had made for his own glory, and their good, return thou on high.
Fifthly, This is a divine declaration. “ The Lord shall judge his people.” After what we have passed over, this assurance is indeed consolatory. The Lora who should judge the adversary, who should enter into judgment with his Son in the place of lost sinners, should ultimately judge his people. Well, doth the Holy Ghost say, the Lord is our King, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our Judge, he will save us ? Great is the magnitude of that mercy, which appointeth the Lord to be our Judge. He who created us, who remembereth our frames, and considereth that we are but dust ; he whose judgment in the garden of Eden, was replete with compassion ; he who so loved us, as to give himself for us ; this Lord of his inheritance shall judge the people. He who died for their sins, even he, I say, shall judge the people. Who is he that condemneth? Who art thou that judgeth another man's servant, or why dost thou judge, or set at nought thy brother ? Judge not ; why? The Lord shall judge the people.
Blessed be the name of our God, who hath reserved this judg- 1 ment to himself, and that he will judge us in our own nature ! how terrible would be our situation if the best men, ancient or modern, were ordained to fill the seat of judgment. When we hear Elijah making intercession against the people, our hearts are lifted in thanksgiving, that the Lord shall judge the people. When we behold the anger of Jonah, because the inhabitants of a large and populous city were not destroyed, we cannot forbear exclaiming, “Glory be to God in the highest, for the Lord shall judge the people.” When we hear the disciples asking leave to call for fire from heaven, to consume their enemies and those of their master; and
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attend to the answer of the benign Redeemer, our pulses beat rapturously, and with extacy we reiterate-The Lord shall judge the people-And, for this mighty, this inestimable privilege, O all that is within me, praise the Lord.
Sixthly, Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. Had this request been made in this form respecting the people, what would have been the consequence? Let those answer who are acquainted with the plague of their own hearts. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteous
How very pertinent, how much to the purpose. As though he had said, among the people, O Lord, there is none righteous; no, not one; they are all together become abominable ; there is none that doeth good; no, not one; their hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Holy Father, the world knoweth thee not, but I know thee. When sacrifices and offerings thou wouldst not, then said 1, lo I come. Behold me, O Lord, made under thy law, for them that were under the law. Judge me according to my righteousness, and according to the integrity that is in me. This I conceive to be the meaning of this divine request; and forever blessed be the majesty of heaven, a deaf ear was not turned to this rcquest. The righteous God tried his heart and reins; he was weighed, and was not found wanting. God declared himself well pleased in him, and will in some future day judge the world, by that man whom he hath ordained; ordained to be a prince and a Saviour.
When he stood under the law in the sinner's place, the righteous God judged him by the people, and punished him accordingly: consequent on which judgment and punishment, he will judge the world by him, and bless them according to his immaculate perfection.
This God honouring catastrophe, was no doubt exhibited to the view of the Redeemer, when he supplicated.
Seventhly, Oh! let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end. Who is this wicked, and what is the wickedness of this wicked ?
Among the many characters borne in the word of God by the prince of darkness, this of wicked is one. Then shall that wicked be revealed, the Man of sin, &c. &c. &c. The same character is in sundry other places given to our adversary; we cannot therefore be at a loss to know who this wicked is, nor the reason why this world is deformed by crimes while lying in this wicked one.
But if it be plain that the God of this world is the wicked, it is
equally plain that every sin of thought, of word, and of deed, is the wickedness of the wicked; which in this passage, the spirit of God in the character of Jesus, who was destined to save the people from their sins, prays may come to an end: and if we may credit the testimony of the prophets and apostles, who concur in asserting that this prayer was answered in the affirmative, we shall read its answer in the sufferings of the Son of God, who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, on whom was the chastisement of our peace, by whose stripes we were healed, when all we like sheep went astray, and the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all. It was then this Divine Sufferer was cut off; it was then he finished the transgression and made an end of sin. It was then the wickedness of the wicked, according to the fervent supplications of the Redeemer, came to an end.
Thus, when he bore all our sins in his own body on the tree, he put them away by the sacrifice of himself, and it is therefore we are exhorted to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is hence we are presented before God without spot, and blameless; it is therefore the Holy Ghost declares, I have blotted out thy transgressions as a cloud, and thine iniquities as a thick cloud, with many more sacred testimonies, all calculated to confirm the same glorious truth.
Thus in Christ Jesus all things consist, all thfngs are made new, and all old things are passed away.
But, still we find in us, that is in our flesh, the wickedness of the wicked deplorably prevalent. Persons possessing the most rectified and upright minds, yet acknowledge, that when they would do good evil is present with them; and frequently do they groan under a burden so oppressive. Indeed there are many, in whom the wickedness of the wicked reigneth uncontrolled. There is yet no law in their minds, to contend with the law in their members; but in both the one and the other, in every individual clothed in mortality, the wickedness of the wicked is but too obvious. And it is this wickedness, which Jesus prays may come to an end. Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end.
Indeed, should it be urged that this prayer was the prayer of David, not of Christ, yet even then there could be no just cause to doubt; we should on this supposition be confident it would be answered, for we know, and are assured it was dictated by God's own spirit; and it would be horrid to suppose, God would dictate
a prayer he would not answer. Whether therefore we consider this prayer as coming from David, the figure of the man after God's own heart, or from Christ himself, the substance of that figure, we are equally assured of a propitious response.
To the believer in Jesus Christ this prospect is inexpressibly pleasing. Especially when he considers in what the wickedness of the wicked consists.
First, deception is wickedness, wickedness most heinous; the wickedness of the wicked. It originated with him in paradise, he deceived our general Mother, and, because he did this deed, he was cursed; and when the beast and the false prophet that deceived the nations, are both taken alive, and cast into the lake of fire, then, the cause being removed, the effect must of necessity cease ; then, the wickedness of the wicked shall most assuredly come to an end.
But as the root shall die, so also will the branches. Bigotry and superstition are the effects of deception, and are most certainly the wickedness of the wicked; these likewise must come to an end Backbiting, lying, and slandering are confessedly the wickedness of the wicked, for he hath, from the beginning, been the whisperer that separateth between choice friends; and he is a liar, and the father of lies.
Secondly, destruction of every species, if we except the destruction of evil, is the wickedness of the wicked, and hence we are told destruction shall come to an end.
From whence come wars and fightings; come they not of lusts that war against the soul? All wars, or which is much the same, all thirsting for blood and treasure, is the wickedness of the wicked. Hence we are assured wars, and rumours of wars, shall cease to the ends of the earth; and the nations shall lear Blessed prospect, halcyon days, come, thou Prince of Peace ! Desire of nations, come.
Finally, as the wickedness of the wicked must come to an end, the consequence is unavoidable; the people shall be all holy. He who bought them with his own blood, is faithful and just, not only to forgive them their sins, but to cleanse them from all unrighteousness, and this we are assured he will do, for it was for this end he both died and rose again.
Behold then I show unto you a great mystery, we shall not all sleen, but we shall all be changed. Perhaps, both the one and the other of these particulars, were to the people of Corinth mysterious;
war no more.