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them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
May not this thousand years (called the Millennium) of triumphant joy and glory of the Saints with their Lord, be that marriage-feast from which the foolish virgins were shut out?
After these thousand years are ended, St. John tells us of an awful trial the world has yet to undergo before the end
Satan had been bound. The power to “ deceive the nations” had been taken from him; and while the Saints reigned with Christ, the rest of mankind had been freed from the temptations of the devil.* These things are great mysteries ; we cannot fathom them now ; but that which is plainly written is for our instruction.
We are told that after this time of the glory of Christ's own peculiar people, and of the further trial of the rest of man, that again Satan shall be let loose that he may gather to him his Then shall be made plain, so that all shall see it, that first truth, that like must gather to like.
- How can two walk together, except they be agreed.”
Sin must hate holiness, and the last struggle is come. St. John describes it in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th verses, wherein he tells that after the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of prison, and shall gather together the enemies of God, and they shall make war upon His Saints, and fire shall come down out of heaven to destroy them. " And the devil that deceived them was cast
* Revelation xx. 3.
into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever." *
Then immediately shall be that last dread scene our Lord described to His disciples as he sat with them the evening before He was betrayed, upon the Mount of Olives. St. John describes it thus :
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away: and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them : and they were judged every man according to his works." +
The book of Life has in it the names of all who are the Lord's. There is no difficulty now in telling who are His. Each has played his part, and what in his life time he chose, by that he must now abide. Not only those who in the struggle of the latter days joined in the open war against the people of God, but all that have been long dead must now appear, that it may be known whose they are; and the Judge chooses for His judgment a rule which no man, Christian or heathen, can gainsay; for there is written in the heart of every human being, a law which tells that there is a Good Spirit who is pleased with deeds of mercy. The most savage and the most ignorant of the heathen nations dimly know this great truth, and each man among them knows it, and feels it the more or the less, just in proportion as he follows out the law of kindness written on his heart by his Creator. Deceived by Satan, the heathen nations seldom worship the spirit of good; they say that He will be good to them because it is His nature to be good; but they seek by bloody sacrifices and by self-torture to please the spirit of evil, whom they fear; and thus they show that their hearts are hardened to every feeling but that of self-interest. To this without remorse they sacrifice not only other men, but often their own children : and for this, they neglect and dishonour that Great Spirit who has yet a wit. ness in their hearts. The more we inquire into the history of the different idolatries that fill the dark places of the earth with cruelty, the more we shall find this to be true. It is true of the cruel and treacherous savages;--it was true of those enlightened and polished heathens, who in the love of vice, had lost the love of that God, whom they yet under various forms acknowledged.
* By the beast and the false prophet, may be understood the temporal and spiritual power of a false religion.
f Revelation xx. 11, 12, 13., to be read again when the number is thus divided.
It was a heathen who has left this judgment written, “ He is to be called evil that is only good for his own sake. Regard not how full hands you bring to God, but how pure. Many cease from sin out of fear alone, not out of innocence or love of virtue; and they (as yet) are not to be called innocent, but timorous.” * Surely in these words we see a striking proof of the truth of those verses in the 2nd chap. of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, 14–16. when, speaking of the Gentiles, he writes, " These not having the law are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another : In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” +
Yes, in that day the heathen as well as the Christian, must
* Publius Mimus, quoted by Jeremy Taylor in bis Discourse upon Purity of Intention, Holy Living and Dying, page 21.
t Chalmers' Bridgewater Treatise, pages 60—65. VOL. IV.
acknowledge the justice of that law by which all “the dead shall be judged, every man according to his works.”
Our Lord chooses for the rule of His judgment, deeds of kindness performed to His brethren in distress ; for faith works by love.
As little can fire burn without giving warmth, as faith can be nurtured in the heart without showing itself in love to God and man.
Fire may be quenched, and faith may be smothered by a reprobate will, and from this arises the darkness of the heathen, but wbile faith lives, it will show itself by the light of love, and love knits the soul to Christ who is the express image of His Father, of whom it is written that God is love.
Thus all who are saved, are saved by Christ and through Christ alone ; for all works, all charities are in themselves so worthless that it is a matter of wonder in heaven that they can ever be mentioned at all. But Jesus the Saviour gives them value, for He adopts them as done unto Himself. Were it not for this, we each of us might well cry, "Save me, oh my God, from all mention of my works; there is not one of them, no not the best of then, that could stand the examination of Thy searching eye. By them I should utterly be condemned; by Thee my Saviour, only can I be saved. The greatness of Thy love can warm even our cold hearts, so that we may be drawn to Thee in our affections here, and dwell with Thee for ever.” Therefore
Verse 34. “Shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : And therefore
Verse 41. “Shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels :
We should not pass over without observing the difference in the wording of these two sentences. The blessed ones are invited to come to the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
Before sin had marred the beauty of God's creation ; before Satan had gained over man the evil power to tempt and torment; in the beginning of the world a kingdom had been prepared for the children of God, made in the image of God; and to this kingdom, at the end of the world, all whose hearts have remained true to their Father are invited.
But to the cursed it is said “ Depart from me, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Not prepared at the creation of the world for man when he should rebel, but prepared long before it for those evil spirits and their king, whose history we do but darkly know. To them all must depart who have been deaf to the voice of God, ever crying in their hearts, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die ? "
They served Satan here, therefore they must dwell with him and his angels in the everlasting fire that was prepared for them.
Thus we see that evil is a choice, not a destiny. Like gathers to like.
Verse 46. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment : but the righteous into life eternal.”
Thus did Jesus relate to His disciples how He, the Son of Man, would come in glory to judge the world; then
MATTHEW xxvi. 1, 2. “When "he had finished all these sayings,” (suddenly turning back to the present time) “he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.”
We are not told that they made the least reply, but we may well believe that all the words the Lord had spoken to them that evening would remain engraven on their minds.
I think we may trace them in each of the epistles written by