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how much that nature is capable, and will, therefore, be eminently qualified to decide, with the most accurate justice, upon the merits of those false apologies and hollow excuses which so many wiM attempt to advance for their neglect and disobedience. These apologies and excuses are all resolvable into the difficulties of our circumstances, and the number and strength of our temptations. But where is the man who can for a moment put his difficulties and temptations into competition with his Saviour's? All that poverty and scorn, derision and contempt could heap together,—all that a'gony of body and anguish of soul could produce,—all that Ithe cruelty of men and the assaults of demons could effect, were suffered by him. Who is as poor, who is as sorrowful, who is as well acquainted with grief, who is so persecuted, reviled, tempted, and forsaken, who is bruised, scourged, insulted, tortured,—who ever experienced the ten thousandth part of the ingratitude, andv calumny, and causeless hatred, and brutal inhumanity, of which the Saviour's cup was full? And not only were his trials on the side of adversity without a parallel, but he was tempted with all the power of worldly prosperity; for he withdrew himself lest the people should ' take him by force and make him a king,' and Satan offered him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, in return for a single act of worship. Who was ever assaulted by praise like him, during the first year or two of his ministry, when his miracles drew such multitudes of applauding parasites around him? Who was ever assaulted by power like him, whose voice controlled the elements, and raised the dead? Who was ever tempted by mortal glory like him, at whose feet was laid the sceptre of the whole earth? Yet he was made' in all points like as we are,' sin only excepted. 'By these trials and sufferings,' saith the Apostle,' the Captain
of our salvation was perfected;' and manifest it is, that his varied and wonderful experience of all that can most closely try, and most strongly agitate the human heart, qualifies him perfectly for the estimating aright all the weak subterfuges, all the false excuses, all the deceitful apologies and hollow pretences of mankind; so that, in this second respect, there is a true and admirable propriety in the Father's giving him authority to judge us, ' because he is the Son of Man.'
But a third argument of still greater force arises from the consideration of the plan on which the sinner is redeemed. If God looked upon the best men as they are in themselves, it would be impossible for his holiness and justice to admit of their salvation. But Christ and Christ only was a perfect man, his obedience to the will of the Father was without defect, although a burden was laid upon him such as no other human being was ever required to sustain. Hence he merited the full rewards of dominion and glory which God the Father has promised to bestow; and all whom he receives are accepted, not on account of their qualifications, but simply and solely because they belong to Christ. They are not judged by the law, but by the Gospel; and if the Redeemer calls them his people, it is enough. xOn a similar principle, so far, at least, as the counsels of the Deity can be illustrated by earthly comparisons, we ourselves, when we receive into our houses a dear relative and friend who has claims on our affection, never hesitate to receive, along with him, all whom he numbers amongst his family and household. In such a case we make no enquiry, we pronounce no judgment. Our esteem for our relative extends itself to all whom he loves; we welcome them for his sake, we view them as selected and approved by him, and we look no farther. And just so it is, with reverence be it spoken, that God leaves us to. the judgment of his well beloved Son, without any enquiry into our personal merits. If Christ receives us into his household and family, if Christ selects us out of the world and accepts us through repentance and faith, if Christ places himself at our head and brings us to t'he Father, we are safe; for the welcome that is due to Christ is extended to all whom he acknowledges to be his people. For this reason also it is, that the Father judgeth no man, but commits all judgment to the Son, because he is the Son of Man—the only man who deserved the glory of heaven, and therefore the only man whose favor in the sight of God gives him a right to ask for the acceptance of those whom he calls his servants, his brethren, and his friends.
4. We now proceed to our fourth topic, namely, the subjects on whom the authority of judge is to be executed. And these are the quick and the dead; for so say the Apostles expressly. 'Christ is ordained of God,' saith St. Peter, 'to be the judge of quick and. dead;' and in like manner saith St. Paul, ' He shall judge the quick and the dead.' This expression has received various interpretations, but the most clear and satisfactory, and that which is now almost universally received, warrants us in explaining ' the quick' to be those who shall be alive at our Lord's coming, and 'the dead' to be those who shall at that time be deceased. To this the Apostle alludes when he saith, 'Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's; for to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.'
But a doubt has arisen here as to the question, whether the last generation of our race shall die at all; some having supposed that as sin is universal, and as St. Paul saith, 'Death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned', therefore we may expect that the last race of the human family shall immediately die upon the appearance of the Saviour, and be forthwith restored to life again, and joined with all the rest as partakers with them of the resurrection.
The Apostle's language, however, is not to be so strictly taken as to warrant this conclusion. For not only was he perfectly aware, that death had not passed upon all men without exception—since Enoch and Elijah had both been translated without seeing death—but it is he himself who gives the most precise account of this very subject, in which it is manifest that the last generation of our race shall be changed without dying. For thus he writes to the Thessalonians: 'We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep; for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we be ever with the Lord.' And again, to the Corinthians, he writes, 'Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.' And again saith he, 'The dead shall be raised incorruptible; and we,' (that is, we who remain,) 'shall be changed.' From all which it is most manifest, that he distinguishes the living from the dead. The dead shall hear the voice of the Eternal Judge, and shall rise incorruptible; the soul shall re-enter into the immortal body, and both together shall ascend to the judgment seat; while the living shall have the same change produced upon their bodies, without the separation of the soul, which we call death; and thus, ' Christ shall come to judge the quick and the dead,' and gather them all before his awful tribunal.
5. The remaining topic of our text regards the time and manner in which this judgment shall be executed. And first, as to the time, it is altogether uncertain. 'Of that day and that hour,' saith our Lord himself, 'knoweth no man, no not the angels of God, but my Father only.' And from this very uncertainty he draws a powerful argument for watchfulness. 'Watch, therefore', saith he,' for ye know not the day nor the hour.when the Son of Man doth come.' But the state of thoughtlessness and careless security, in which the world should be found at his coming, is set forth by him with the utmost clearness. 'As it was in the days of Noah,' saith he, ' so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, and they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. - Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.' We find, accordingly, that the early disciples of the faith held themselves in readiness,, at all times, for the second coming of Christ to Judgment, regarding it as possible, that the general judgment might take place, even during that generation. But, in truth, every period of the world is equally concerned, when we recollect that mankind are always dying; that as death leaves us, so judgment finds us, and therefore, that although the general judgment has not yet arrived, millions of intermediate individual destinies have been fixed for ever. There is,consequently, the same necessity for watchfulness now, as there would be, if we were assured that to-morrow's .dawn should witness the sounding of the last trump.