Imágenes de páginas

hearts, 1 Cor. iv. 3. Thoughts go free from man's judgment, but not from the judgment of the heart-searching God, who knows mens thoughts, without the help of signs to discern them by. The secret springs of mens actions will then be brought to light; and the fins, that never came further than the heart, will then be laid opeo. O what a figure will man's corrupt nature make, when his inside is turned out, and all his speculative impurities are exposed! the rottenness that is within many a whited sepulchre, the speculative filthiness and wantonness, murder and malignity, now lurking in the hearts of men, as in the chamber of imagery, will then be discovered; and what good was in the hearts of any, shall no more lie concealed. If it was in their hearts to build a house to the Lord, they fhall bear, that they did well that it was in their heart.

This trial will be righteous and impartial, accurate and searching, clear and evident. The Judge is the rightcous Judge, and he will do right to every one.

He has a just balance for good and evil actions, and for honest and false hearts. The fig leave cover of hypocrisy will then be blown afide, and the hypocrite's nakedness will appear; as when the Lord came to judge Adam and Eve, in the cool (or, as. the word is, in the wind) of the day, Gen. iii. 8. The fire (which tries things most exquisitely) shall try.every man's work, of what fort it is, 1 Cor. iii. 13. Man's judgment is oft times perplexed and confused; but here the whole process Mall be clear and evident, as written with a sun beam. It shall be clear to the Judge, to whom no case can be intricate ; to the parties, who fall be convinced, Jude 15. And the multitudes on both sides, shall fee the judge is clear when he judgeth, for then the heavens Mall declare his rightcousness, in the audience of all the world;' and so it shall be universally known, Pfal. l. 6.

On these accounts it is, that this trial is held out in the fcripture under the notion of opening of books; and men are said to be judged out of those things written in the books, Rev. xx. 12. The Judge of the world, who infallibly knoweth all things, hath no need of books to be laid before him, to prevent mistake in any point of law or fact : but the expresfion points at his proceeding, as most nice, accurate, just, and well grounded, in every step of it. Now, there are four books, that shall be opened in that day.

Forff, The book of God's remembrance or omniscience, Mal. iii. 19. This is an exact record of every man's state, thoughts, words, and deeds, good or evil : iç is, as it were, a, in which the Lord puts down all that passeth in mens hearts, lips, and lives; and it is a filling up every day that one lives. In it are recorded mens sins and good works, secret and open, with all their circumstances. Here are registred all other privileges, mercies temporal and spiritual, some time laid to their hand; the checks, admonitions aod rebukes, given by teachers, neighbours, afflictions, and mens owo consciences; every thing in its due order. This book will serve only as a libel in refpe&t of the ungodly; but it will be for another use in respect of the godly, namely, for a memorial of their good. The opening of it is the Judge's bringing to light what is written in it; the reading as it were, of the libel and memorial, respectively, in their hearing.

Secondly, The book of conscience will be opened, and shall be as a thousand witnesses to prove the fact, Rom. ii. 15. Which shew the work of the law written in i heir hearts their conscience also bearing wirness. Conscience is a cenfor going with every man whitherfoever he goes, taking an accouat of his deeds done in the body, and, as it were noting them in a book; the which being opened, will be found a double of the former, so far as it relates to one's own state and case. Much is written in it, which cannot be read now; the writing of conscience being in many cases, like to that which is made with the juice of lemons, not to be read, till it be held before the fire : but then men shall read it clearly and distinctly: the fire which is to try every man's work, 'will make the book of conscience legible in every point. Tho'the book be sealed now (the conscience blind, dumb and deaf) the seals shall then be broken, and the book opened. There shall be no more a weak or misinformed conscience among those on the right hand, or these on the less. There shall not be a filunt conscience, and far lefs a feared conscience amongst all the ungodly crew: but their consciences shall be molt quick fighted, and most lively, in that day. None shall then call good evil, or evil good. Ignorance of what lin is, and what things are fins, will hayt no place among them: and the fubtle reasonings of


men, ia favour of their lufts, will then he for ever baffled by their own consciences. None shall have the favour (if I may so speak) of lying under the soft cover of delusion: but they shall all be convicted by their conscience. Nill they, will they, they shall look on this book, read and be confounded, and hand speechless, knowing that nothing is char. ged upon them by mistake; lince this is a book, which was always in their own custody. Thus shall the judge make every man see himself, in the glafs of his own conscience, which will make quick work.

Thirdly, The book of the Law shall be opened. This book is the standard and rule, by which is known what is right, and what is wrong; as also, what sentence is to be passed accordingly, on these who are under it. As to the opening of this book, in its statutory part, which shews what is sin, and what is duty; it falls in with the opening of the book of conscience. For conscience is set, by the Sovereign Lawgiver, in every man's breast, to be his private teacher, to she w him the law, and his private paftor, to make application of the fame ; and, at that day, it will he perfectly fit for its office; so that the conscience, which is most supid now, Iall then read to the man, most accurate, but dreadful lectures, on the law. But what seems (mainly at leal) pointed at, by the opening of this book, is the opening of that part of it, which determines the reward of meos works. Now, the law promiseth life, upon perfect obedience: but none can be found on the right hand, or on the left, who will pretend to that, when once the book of conscience is opened, it threatpeth death upon disobedience, and will effectually bring it upon all under its dominiop. And this part of the book of the law, determining the reward of mens works, is opened, only to shew what must be the portion of the godly, and that there they may read their sentence before it be pronounced. But it is not opened for the sentence of the saints; for no sentence absolving a fioner could ever be drawn out of it. The law promifeth lite, not as it is a rule of actions, but as a covenant of works : And therefore innocent man could not have demanded life upon his obedience, till the law was reduced into the form of a covenant; as was shewn before. But the faints having been, in this life, brought under a new covenant, namely,


the covenant of grace, were dead to the law, as a covenant of works, and it was dead to them. Wherefore, as they shall not have any fears of death from it, so they can have no hopes of life from it, since they are not under the law, but under grace, Rom. vi, 14. But, for their fentence, another book is opened: of which in the next place.

Thus the book of the law is opened, for the sentence against all those on the left hand: and by it ihey will clearly see the justice of the judgment against them, and how the Judge proceeds therein according to law. Nevertheless, there will be this difference, namely, that these who had only the natural law, and lived not under any special reve. Jatión, shall be judged by thar law of nature they had in their hearts : which law bears, that they who commit such things (as they will stand convicted of) are worthy of death Rom. i. 32. But these, who had the written law, to whom the word of God came, as it has founded in the vifible church, fhall be judged by that written law So says the Apoftle, Rom. ii. 12. For as many as have finned without (the written) law, shall perilh wil hout (the written) law : and as many as have finned in the law li c. under the writ. ten law) mall be judged by the (written) law.

Laftly, Another book shall be opened, which is the book of life, Rev. xx. 12. In this, the names of all the elect are written, as Christ said to his disciples, Luke x. 20. Your names are wri!ten in heaven This book contains God's gracious and unchangeable purpofe, to bring all the elect to eternal life; and that, in order thereto, they be redeem ed by the blood of his son, effe&tually called, justified, adopted, fanctified, and raifed up by him at the last day without fio. It is now lodged in the Mediator's hand, as the book of the manner of the kingdom; and having perfected the work the Father gave them to do; he shall, on the great day produce, and open the book, and present the persons therein named faultlefs before the presence of his glory. Jude 24. Nor having spot or wrirkle, or any such thing, Eph. v. 27. None of them all, who are named in the book shall be missing. They shall be found qualified, according to the order of the book, redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, raised up without spot: what remains then, but that, aca cording to the fame book, they obtain the great end, name


19, everlasting life. This may be gathered by that precious promise, Rev. iii, 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be cloathed in white raiment (being raised in glory) and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. But I will confess his name (it shall be, as it were, read out among the rest of God's elect) before my Father, and before his angels. Here is now the ground of the saints absolviture, the ground of the blessed fentence they shall receive. The book of life being opened, it will be known to all, who are elected, and who are not. Thus far of the trial of the parties.

Eightly, Then shall the judge pronounce that blessed fenlence on the saints, Come ye blefed of my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundarion of the world, Matth. xxv. 34. It is most probable, the man Christ will pronounce it with an audible voice ; which not only all the faints, but all the wicked likewise, fhall hear and understand. Who can conceive the inexpressible joy, with which these happy ones shall hear these words ? Who can imagine that fulness of joy, which shall be poured into their hearts,' with these words reaching their ears? And who can conceive how much of hell shall break into the hearts of all the ungodly crew, by these words of heaven? It is certain this sentence shall be pronounced, before the sentence of damna. tion, Maith. xxv. 34. Then shall the King say unto them on bis right hand, Come ye blefed, &c. Ver. 41. Then shall be fay also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye curfed, &c. There is no need of this order, that the saints may, without fear or aftonishment, hear the other sentence on the reprobate : they who are raised in glory, caught up to meet the Lord in the air, presented without fpot, and whose fouls (for the far greater part of them) have been so long in hea. ven before, shall not be capable of any such fear. But hereby they will be orderly brought in, to sit in judgment, as Christ's alilors, against the ungodly: whose torment will be aggravated by it. It will be a hell to them, to be kept out of hell, till they see the doors of heaven opened to receive the saints, who once dwelt in the fame world with them; and perhaps in the same country, parish, or town, and fat under the fame ministry with themselves. Thus will they see heaven afar off, to make their hell the hotter. Like that unbelieving lord, 2 Kings vii. 19, 20. They

« AnteriorContinuar »