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of such destruction to any city or nation, is called the day of judgment, as regards them. God is said to execute judgment upon them. 'M It seems to have been the meaning of Jesus in this cast?, that the judgment which should destroy the cities of Israel, would be so much more distressing than that which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, that in the day of judgment on those cities, that which Sodom and Gomorrah had suffered, would appear light in comparison.
The circumstance that the judgment of Sodom, and that of the Jewish cities, are presented here in one view, by one future tense, has been used as proof that a judgment was here spoken of, which was then future even in regard to the case of the ancient Sodomites. But this argument is seen to have no weight, when received in connexion with the circumstances which have now been considered, and the additional fact that the prophets had employed the past wickedness and judgment of Sodom in contrast with the then future wickedness and judgment of Israel, and had brought them together by the use of but one tense: 'Thou also which hast judged thy sisters, [Sodom and Samaria,] bear thine own shame, for thy sins which thou hast committed more abominable than they; they are more righteous than thou.'35 And again, 'The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, overthrown as in a moment and no hands stayed on her.' * These writers saw in prophetic vision the then future iniquity and punishment of Israel, and they looked also upon the then past iniquity and punishment of Sodom, and presented them together in contrast by the use of one tense, as living cases brought to a present view. Or, if they spoke with reference to the then present corruptness and wretchedness of Israel in the Babylonish captivity, it alters not the fact that the then past punishment of Sodom was brought forward, and placed in contrast with the punishment of Israel, by the use of one tense. And this is precisely what our Lord did in the place above quoted. He took the judgment of Sodom, which, though past, yet lived before the people in the faithful records which were read every Sabbath-day amongst them, and by the use of one tense, he
* Gen. xv. 14. Ezek. v. 8. vii. 8. xxv. 17. M Ezek. xvi. 52.
presented it in contrast with that judgment on the cities of Israel which was then the subject of discourse. *
It is needless to multiply quotations from the Scriptures in relation to our general subject. We have already carried our examination of the Scriptures to a sufficient extent, to ascertain with satisfactory clearness that this world of moral creatures is not left without a divine judgment, and without a supreme judge ; but that the Lord 'is a God that judgeth in the earth,' and that he 'rendereth unto every man according to his works ;' that he is the Judge while he is the Governor of the world ; that he commenced an operative system of judgment when he commenced the exercise of his government over his moral creatures; in short, that a retributive judgment, rendering to accountable creatures according to their deserts, is a perpetual and co-operative branch of the divine government.
Most of the passages which we have quoted on the subject of retributive judgment, relate to external and visible judgments on particular people, executed at sundry times, and in divers manners. But these bear full on the question of the perfect subjection of the inhabitants of earth to the righteous judgment of God; for these executions of visible punishment are represented as filling up the measure of retribution according to that of demerit in the people. There is also a constant operation of divine judgment, meting out rewards and punishments to mankind, by the administration of internal happiness or misery according to their characters. The Scriptures do not abound in histories of particular executions of this species of retribution, as of the external judgments, because it is common and invisible. But it is comprehended in the general terms by which the subject of retributive judgment is often expressed ; as in the following examples: 'Thou renderest to every man according to his work.' l In keeping them [the judgments of God] there is great reward.' 'Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.' 'But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.' 'Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.' 'I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.' w The Scriptures abound with testimonies, of which these are a specimen, disallowing the sentiment that the only recompense, or reward and punishment, executed by the judgment of God on earth, is in those cases of external and visible judgment, many of which are made the subjects of prophetic and historical record. The'anger of the Lord,' that is, the condemnatory operation of the divine judgment, — is against the wicked 'every day.'38 But when the sins of individuals or of communities assume a certain character, and attain to a curtain degree, He who searches the heart, perceives that their case requires the addition of some external and visible punishment, to fill up the measure of their deserts, and to operate as a necessary check on their career.
* Dr. Hammond, whose prejudices might have inclined him to make a different application of these words of our Lord, was constrained by the eyidence in the case to explain them as we have in this article. On the expression, ' It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee,' he gives the following paraphrase: 'And therefore you in all reason are to expect a sadder destruction and vastation, than that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah.' Bp. Pearce explains this scripture in the same way; and the opinion of Dr. Clarke preponderates in favor of the same application: 'Day of judgment,' he says,' may either refer to that particular time in which God visits for iniquity, or to that great day in which he will judge the world by the Lord Jesus Christ. The day of Sodom's judgment was that in which it was destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven, Gen. xix. 24. and the day of judgment to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, was the day in which they were destroyed by the Romans.' See also the first M. of this Vol. of the Expositor, pp. 27, 28.
We are aware that there are some who contend, that however full and clear may be the evidence of Scripture for this doctrine of an ever operative and just judgment, it does not agree with fact. And they adduce certain cases of persons, of different characters, on earth, in which they say the doctrine of a just retribution does not hold true. But such will do well to consider, in humbleness of mind before God, that they can only look at the outward appearance; that they cannot correctly judge either of other men's moral deserts, or of the amount of-their happiness or misery. But God looketh at the heart. He ' searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.' If any assert that in some given case it is
BPs. Wii. 12. xix. 11. Isa. lvii. 20,21. Rom. iii. 16, 17. Jer. xvii. 10. wpb. vii. 11.
not true that God judges the heart to render a just recompense, the burden of proof is upon his hand. But the impossibility of producing the evidence of such a fact in any case, may discover to him the folly and presumption of opposing his own judgment to the judgment of God. Many au honest confession from persons who have run a sinful career, has exposed the error of such as had judged them from outward appearance. Tiberius was doubtless envied by thousands, for his rank and his supposed enjoyment. He had every means which earth could afford to gratify his sensual appetites; and by the course he pursued he evinced a determination that, if happiness were to be found in sin, it should be his to enjoy. But the desired happiness was not there. We are shown by the following letter from him to the Roman Senate, that he received in himself, from the judgment of God, 'that recompense of his errors which was meet :'*° 'What to write, conscript fathers, in what terms to express myself, or what "to refrain from writing, is a matter of such perplexity, that if I know how to decide, may the just gods, and the goddesses of vengeance, doom me to die in pangs, worse than those under which 1 linger every day !'40 On this, Tacitus, the heathen historian, makes the following pertinent remarks: 'We have here the features of the inward man. His crimes retaliated upon him with the keenest retribution; so true is the saying of the great philosopher,41 the oracle of ancient wisdom, that if the minds of tyrants were laid open to our view, we should see them gashed and mangled with the whips and stings of horror and remorse. By blows and stripes the flesh is made to quiver; and, in like manner, cruelty and inordinate passions, malice and evil deeds, become internal executioners, and with unceasing torture goad and lacerate the heart. Of this truth Tiberius is a melancholy instance. Neither the imperial dignity, nor the gloom of solitude, nor the rocks of Capreae, could shield him from himself. He lived on the rack of guilt, and his wounded spirit groaned in agony.' Hence, it is perceived that the reason and observation of philosophers discover, in real life, the fact, which attests the doctrine that we have seen so fully asserted in the Scriptures, in relation to the judgment of God.
It is presumed that none will dispute there having been, under the administration of the law in former ages, as many of the description of cases from which some argue the failure of a righteous retribution, as there are under the present dispensation. Yet St. Paul testifies that 'every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.' And in the same sentence he assures us, in the form of an interrogatory assertion, that others must inevitably receive according to their deserts, from the same just administration of divine judgment.* There is no way to be free from the misery of sin, but to be free from sin. And we gratefully rejoice that God will execute judgment through Jesus, even unto the destruction of the works of the devil,4a which are sin and its concomitant evils.
*Rom. i. 27. '° Annals of Tacitus, B. vi. § 6. « Socrates.
Reader, our subject is important. You are in pursuit of happiness; and if you ever choose a course of moral wrong, it is because you do not practically believe in the doctrine of divine judgment which we have here presented from the Scriptures. Let these words of apostolic wisdom be engraved on the tablet of your heart: 'For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.'48
[ We ask the indulgence of our readers for the insertion of the following Sermon, the substance of which appeared in one of our most valuable periodicals, two or three years ago. Better performances we might indeed have selected from the same publication; but we confine ourselves to the legitimate privilege of an Editor, to appropriate his own matter wherever he finds it, using at the same time an author's right to correct and improve. Ed.]
A Sermon. Text: 'Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life.'
Johh vi. 85.
We must not here mistake our Saviour. We must not suppose him to mean, in some mysterious, inexplicable sense,
* For the writer's view of the consistency of this doctrine with that of forgiveness as taught in the Scriptures, sec Univcrsalist Expositor, vol. i. p. 148. ^Uohniii.S. 1 Cor. xv.84 — 28. «1 Peter iu. 10,11.