Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

“The woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.-xvii. 18.

“The fine linen is the righteousness of saints.—xix. 8. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.—xix. 10. “The dragon, that old serpent, 'which is the devil and Satan.

XX. 2.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, &c.—This is the first resurrection.-. 4, 5.

Now, without going further, it is clear to me, that this last example is of the same nature with the former; and the expository clauses must necessarily have a reference to something plain and obvious to all, or to subjects which were, or ought to have been, familiar to believers, or they would not serve the purpose of explanatory marks. I conclude therefore by asking, what could the index This is the first Resurrection" point to? What notion could those to whom these things were revealed have had upon the subject, unless it was derived from those very texts of Scripture, to which I have appealed in defence of the doctrine of THE FIRST RESURRECTION?

Essay VII.

The Judgment.

An objection of some weight appears, at first view, to lie against the doctrine of the first resurrection, arising from the numerous Scriptures which set forth Christ, as coming to judge the world at his second advent; which circumstance is thought to be incompatible with the wicked not being raised and judged at the same time. The difficulty however consists in the circumstance of our having departed from the scriptural view of Judgment; which commentators have been gradually compelled to do, from the necessity of evading the obvious testimony of a host of texts to the personal reign of the Lord on earth: for there is perhaps no doctrine of Scripture which more directly supports this view, than the doctrine of the Judgment, if only it be rightly understood.

I. The single idea entertained by most persons on this point, is that of a great assizes, at which the Lord Jesus will preside, and at which all mankind will be put upon their trial. But God has evealed to us far more than this. The characteristic of a JUDGE, as given to us in Scripture, are as follow: to rule and govern as a kingto deliver and protect his people and to avenge them on their enemies: whence it follows, that judgment must consist, not only in vengeance or punishment, but also in deliverance and government.

In proof of this I observe, that the Judges who were over Israel before the time of Saul, the first king, were all of them men raised up as deliverers and avengers;a as Gideon, Sampson, Jephtha, and others; in which character they were also types of the Lord Jesus. And when the Israelites demanded a king, it was not so much a change in the nature of the office which they desired, as a more complete and fixed state of it: for they would not be any longer dependent upon the Lord, either to fight their battles, or to raise them up Saviours; but they cried, “We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles." Thus the king was still to be the judge: just as St. Paul, speaking of our all standing before the judgment seat of Christ, says—"that to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be LORD both of the dead and living”c—the same thing as "Judge both of quick and dead.”

The chief prophecies concerning Christ as Judge will further shew, that princely rule and government are connected with his judgment; and that it will be a continued office among or over the nations. Take the following passages in the Psalms; and let it be observed in them, that the judgment or righteous government spoken of therein is evidently to be upon the earth. “Give the King thy judgments, O. God, and thy righteousness unto the King's son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgments. For he shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor." "Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations." "For He (the Lord) cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” “For the Lord cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.”—“He shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness."h "Olet the nations be glad and sing for joy! for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.i Other prophets afford a similar testimony. Thus Isaiah and Micah declare of him: “He shall judge among many people and rebuke strong nations afar off:'j and Jeremiah says, “Behold—a king shall reign and prosper; and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.k

Judges ii. 16–18. b1 Sam. viii. 19, 20. c Rom. xiv. 9. d Ps. lxxii. 1 and 4.

a

fxcvi. 13. & xcviii. 9. bix. 8. ilxvii. 4. i Mic. iv, 3; Isa. ii. 4. k Jer. xxiii. 5.

elxxxii. 8.

The same truth may be gathered also from that text in Corinthians, which speaks of the termination of his judgment: for the Apostle says, that he shall then lay down all rule, authority and power;' which shews, that rule, authority and the like are connected with his previous judgment: even as Christ himself says,—that the “Father hath given him authority to execute judgment.m This testimony may be summed up in one passage of Scripture: «The Lord is our Judge-the Lord is our Lawgiver—the Lord is our King—he will save us."n

And as we have seen, that though he declared he was a KING, being born to that end;' yet that he refused to let the people come and make him a king, and would not at that time exercise his royal prerogative: so also, though he declared that all judgment was committed to the Son,9 yet did he not then assume the character of judge. He tells Nicodemus, that God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world. He refused to judge in the case of the woman taken in adultery;" and he rebuked another, who would have anticipated his rule, with the words—“Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

It will be further evident, that what is most frequently called in Scripture "the judgment," is no other than the kingdom and rule of Christ, when it is considered that the saints are to have part in it. For first Enoch prophesied, “Behold the Lord cometh with myriads of his saints, to execute judgment upon all.”u David says, that to execute the judgment written is an honour, which all the saints are to have. Isaiah says, “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.In the vision which Daniel had, “judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, when the ancient of days came." And, finally, St. Paul declares most positively, “that the saints shall judge the world." And it should he observed in these passages, that the participation of the saints in the judgment is not confined merely to their receiving power over the nations” to rule; but they are apparently to be made instrumental in inflicting the vengeance also. Such is the burden of the testimony in the 149th Psalm, which declares that they have "a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron.Such is implied in Rev. ii. 26, just referred to, where in addition to “power over the nations” it is said, “they shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they

I Cor. xv. 24. m John v. 27. Isa. xxxiii. 22. o John xviii. 37. p vi. 15. 4 John v. 22. riii. 17. • viii. 3. Luke xii. 14. Jude 14, 15. w Psalm cxlix. 5-9. * Isa. xxxii. 1. y Dan. vii. 22. 21 Cor. vi. 2, 3.

w

u

be broken to shivers.” Again it is written, “Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet;'a and the righteous shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked:” all which passages, though studded with metaphor, and in the Revelation veiled in symbols, do signify a coercive power and restraint, which shall be exercised at that time by the righteous.

Those who deny the future kingdom of our Lord and his saints are nevertheless compelled to admit, that the saints will in some way or other be joined with him in the judgment. But how?-If the judgment is only to be a kind of trial, in which rewards and punishments are to be determined by the Lord, the saints will themselves stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account of the deeds done in the body: and then, the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works. Besides which, it is evident that there is to be a difference in degree of rank and authority among the saints in this judgment; as when our Lord says of his apostles, that "they shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;"d—which tribes I apprehend to be the redeemed Israel, and therefore themselves to partake in the judgment.

But if we understand by the judgment rule and authority, then these things are perfectly reconcileable. I can only reconcile with this view of it the Lord's declaring, that one shall be ruler over five cities, and another shall have authority over ten cities, &c.

Having thus far, as I trust, cleared this matter, I would next notice, that the period of judgment must nécessarily include the whole period of the saints' rule on earth; and likewise that tribulation or wrath upon the nations which ushers it in; together with that final visitation which closes it. This, whatever may be the events to be enacted of a judicial character-whether the wrath by plague, pestilence, famine, sword, revolution, or fire upon the wicked; or the authority, power and government given to the saints;-all this, I repeat, is in my apprehension of it intended by THE JUDGMENT. Before however I enter more particularly upon the consideration of the events included in the judgment, I will first meet the objections which are made to this extension of its period.

First then it is argued, that the whole time of judgment is called “the day of the Lord,” “that great day;" which expressions are considered incompatible with its continuance through upwards of a thousand years. But this objection proceeds from the want of acquaintance with the scriptural import of the word day. Though often, in historical narrative, it includes no more than a space of four and twenty hours; yet, in prophetical language, it has a very different meaning, and frequently even in narrative. Any period of time, during which events or actings of a uniform character take place, are called the day thereof. There are innumerable passages which speak of such a duration of time as a day; but, as many of them may be said rather to mark the commencement of such a period than its continuation, (which perhaps is not unfrequently the case,) I will instance some which are the least ambiguous.

a Matt.

a Mal. iv. 3. b Pralm lviii. 10. • Rom. xiv. 10–12; 2 Cor. v. 10. xix, 28; Luke xxii. 30. e Luke xix. 17-19.

First, as to narrative. The work of Creation is divided into periods called days, and said to be finished in six of them: but in Genesis ii. 4, the whole period in which the heavens, the earth, the plants and herbs were created is called a day. This augmentation of the term, however inconsiderable it may be, at least proves, that a day is not necessarily to be limited to a period of twenty-four hours; but that its duration must be determined by the context. So in Psalm xcv. mention is made of the day of temptation (or trial) in the wilderness;" which is stated in the context to have continued forty years;f and this period is likened by the Apostle to the whole period of trial to the christian Church,—"while it is said, to day if ye will hear his voice."This is still clearer in the following chapter of Hebrews; for he there argues, that because David had limited a certain day, (saying in David, to day, after so long a time,) there must remain a rest—a SABBATISM—to the people of God." I will not dispute, whether this sabbatism refers to rest in the Gospel promises or ordinances, under the christian dispensation; to the rest of disembodied or of glorified saints in heaven; or to the great septennary of a thousand years; all of which have been variously contended for: but, let a man select which he will, this must be evident, that a period of at least a thousand years must in this instance be intended by the term day.

In the latter testimony I have already stepped beyond the bounds of strict narrative; but I have one or two other instances under the next class which I must still urge. In Ecclesiastes xii. 1, we read,"Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not;" and these evil days are immediately after explained to be the day when the keepers of the house tremble, &c.”—alluding in highly figurative language to the whole period of declining life and its infirmities. Another Scripture saith, “I have heard thee in a

ivv. 8-11.

6 Heb. iii. 7-15.

b Ibid. iv. 1-11.

« AnteriorContinuar »