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in the circles of his people, heard by them that crowd nearest him, or that sound limited by the circles of air, or the enclosure of a wall ; but every thing is represented to every person, and then let it be considered, when thy shame and secret turpitude, thy midnight revels and secret hypocrisies, thy lustful thoughts and treacherous designs, thy falsehood to God and startings from thy holy promises, thy follies and impieties shall be laid open before all the world, and that then shall be spoken by the trumpet of an archangel upon the housetop, the highest battlements of heaven, all those filthy words and lewd circumstances, which thou didst act secretly; thou wilt find, that thou wilt have reason strangely to be ashamed. All the wise men in the world shall know how vile thou hast been: and then consider, with what confusion of face wouldest thou stand in the presence of a good man and a severe, if peradventure he should suddenly draw thy curtain, and find thee in the sins of shame and lust; it must be infinitely more, when God and all the angels of heaven and earth, all his holy myriads, and all his redeemed saints, shall stare and wonder at thy impurities and follies. I have read a story, that a young gentleman, being passionately by his mother dissuaded from entering into the severe courses of a religious and single life, broke from her importunity by saying, “ Volo servare animam meam ;" “ I am resolved by all means to save my
soul.” But when he had undertaken a rule with passion, he performed it carelessly and remissly, and was but lukewarm in his religion, and quickly proceeded to a melancholy and wearied spirit, and from thence to a sickness and the neighbourhood of death: but falling into an agony and a fantastic vision, dreamed that he saw himself summoned before God's angry throne, and from thence hurried into a place of torments, where espying his mother, full of scorn she upbraided him with his former answer, and asked him, why he did not save his soul by all means, according as he undertook. But when the sick man awaked and recovered, he made his words good indeed, and prayed frequently, and fasted severely, and laboured humbly, and conversed charitably, and mortified himself severely, and refused such secular solaces which other good men received to refresh and sustain their infirmities, and gave no other account to them that asked
him but this: If I could not in my ecstasy or dream endure my mother's upbraiding my follies and weak religion, how shall I be able to suffer, that God should redargue me at doomsday, and the angels reproach my lukewarmness, and the devils aggravate my sins, and all the saints of God deride my follies and hypocrisies ? The effect of that man's consideration may serve to actuate a meditation in
every us: for we shall all be at that pass, that unless our shame and sorrows be cleansed by a timely repentance, and covered by the robe of Christ, we shall suffer the anger of God, the scorn of saints and angels, and our own shame in the general assembly of all mankind. This argument is most considerable to them, who are tender of their precious name and sensible of honour; if they rather would choose death than a disgrace, poverty rather than shame, let them remember that a sinful life will bring them to an intolerable shame at that day, when all that is excellent in heaven and earth, shall be summoned as witnesses and parties in a fearful scrutiny. The summit is this, all that are born of Adam, shall appear before God and his Christ, and all the innumerable companies of angels and devils shall be there: and the wicked shall be affrighted with every thing they see; and there they shall see those good men, that taught them the ways of life; and all those evil persons, whom themselves have tempted into the ways of death; and those who were converted upon easier terms; and some of these shall shame the wicked, and some shall curse them, and some shall upbraid them, and all shall amaze them; and yet this is but the apx wdivwv, the beginning of those evils which shall never end, till eternity hath a period; but concerning this they mustfirst be judged; and that is the second general consideration, “ we must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," and that is a new state of terrors and affrightments. Christ, who is our Saviour and is our advocate, shall then be our judge : and that will strangely change our confidences and all the face of things.
2. That is then the place and state of our appearance, “ before the judgment-seat of Christ :” for Christ shall rise from the right hand of his Father; he shall descend towards us, and ride upon a cloud, and shall make himself illustrious? by a glorious majesty, and an innumerable retinue and cir
cumstances of terror and a mighty power: and this is that which Origen affirms to be the sign of the Son of man. Remalcus de Vaux, in Harpocrate divino, affirms, that all the Greek and Latin fathers “ consentientibus animis asseverant, hoc signo crucem Christi significari,” do unanimously affirm, that the representment of the cross is the sign of the Son of man spoken of, Matt. xxiv. 50. And indeed they affirm it very generally, but Origen after this manner is singular, “hoc signum crucis erit, cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit,” so the church used to sing, and so it is in the Sibyl's verses :
O lignum felix, in quo Deus ipse pependit;
The sign of that cross is the sign of the Son of man, when the Lord shall come to judgment: and from those words of Scripture, “they shall look on him whom they have pierced,” it hath been freely entertained, that at the day of judgment, Christ shall signify his person by something, that related to his passion, his cross, or his wounds, or both. I list not to spin this curious cobweb; but Origen's opinion seems to me more reasonable; and it is more agreeable to the majesty and power of Christ to signify himself with proportions of his glory, rather than of his humility ; with effects of his being exalted into heaven, rather than of his poverty and sorrows upon earth : and this is countenanced better by Some Greek copies και τότε φανήσεται σημείον του υιού του åvopánov Łv tū oúpavq, so it is commonly read, “the sign of the Son of man in heaven;" that is (say they), the sign of the Son of man imprinted upon a cloud; but it is in others toū υιού του ανθρώπου του εν ουρανοίς, “the sign of the Son of man who is in the heavens ;” not that the sign shall be imprinted on a cloud, or in any part of the heavens, but that he who is now in the heavens, shall, when he comes down, have a sign and signification of his own, that is, proper to him, who is there glorified, and shall return in glory. And he disparages the beauty of the sun, who inquires for a rule to know, when the sun shines, or the light breaks forth from its chambers of the east; and the Son of man shall need no other signification, but his infinite retinue, and all the angels
of God worshipping him, and sitting upon a cloud, and leading the heavenly host, and bringing his elect with him, and being clothed with the robes of majesty, and trampling upon devils, and confounding the wicked, and destroying death: but all these great things shall be invested with such strange circumstances, and annexes of mightiness and divinity, that all the world shall confess the glories of the Lord; and this is sufficiently signified by St. Paul, “We shall all be set before the throne or place of Christ's judicature; for it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God :" that is, at the day of judgment, when we are placed ready to receive our sentence, all knees shall bow to the holy Jesus, and confess him to be God the Lord; meaning that our Lord's presence shall be such, as to force obeisance from angels and men and devils; and his address to judgment shall sufficiently declare his person and his office, and his proper glories. This is the greatest scene of majesty that shall be in that day, till the sentence be pronounced; but there goes much before this, which prepares all the world to the expectation and consequent reception of this mighty Judge of men and angels.
The majesty of the Judge, and the terrors of the judgment, shall be spoken aloud by the immediate forerunning accidents, which shall be so great violences to the old constitutions of nature, that it shall break her very bones, and disorder her till she be destroyed. Saint Jerome relates out of the Jews' books, that their doctors used to account fifteen days of prodigy immediately before Christ's coming, and to every day assign a wonder, any one of which if we should chance to see in the days of our flesh, it would affright us into the like thoughts, which the old world had, when they saw the countries round about them covered with water and the Divine vengeance; or as those poor people near Adria, and the Mediterranean sea, when their houses and cities are entering into graves, and the bowels of the earth rent with convulsions and horrid tremblings. The sea (they say) shall rise fifteen cubits above the highest mountains, and thence descend into hollowness and a prodigious drought; and when they are reduced again to their usual proportions, then all the beasts and creeping things, the monsters and the
usual inhabitants of the sea, shall be gathered together, and make fearful noises to distract mankind : the birds shall mourn and change their songs into threnes and sad accents: rivers of fire shall rise from the east to west, and the stars shall be rent into threads of light, and scatter like the beards of comets; then shall be fearful earthquakes, and the rocks shall rend in pieces, the trees shall distil blood, and the mountains and fairest structures shall return unto their primitive dust; the wild beasts shall leave their dens, and come into the companies of men, so that you shall hardly tell how to call them, herds of men, or congregations of beasts; then shall the graves open and give up their dead, and those which are alive in nature and dead in fear, shall be forced from the rocks whither they went to hide them, and from caverns of the earth, where they would fain have been concealed; because their retirements are dismantled, and their rocks are broken into wider ruptures, and admit a strange light into their secret bowels; and the men being forced abroad into the theatre of mighty horrors, shall run up and down distracted and at their wits' end; and then some shall die, and some shall be changed, and by this time the elect shall be gathered together from the four quarters of the world, and Christ shall come along with them to judgment.
These signs, although the Jewish doctors reckon them by order and a method, concerning which they had no other revelation (that appears) nor sufficiently credible tradition, yet for the main parts of the things themselves, the Holy Scripture records Christ's own words, and concerning the most terrible of them; the sum of which, as Christ related them and his apostles recorded and explicated, is this, “the earth shall tremble, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood;" that is : there shall be strange eclipses of the sun, and fearful aspects in the moon, who when she is troubled, looks red like blood; "the rocks shall rend, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The heavens shall be rolled up like a parchment, the earth shall be burned with fire, the hills shall be like wax, for there shall go a fire before him, and a mighty tempest shall be stirred round about him"