Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

giving an account before him of themselves, as he in their presence is of himself, to God. Every deed, every purpose, brought to judgment, is receiving successively its own measure of aggravation, or of extenuation, accordingly as the character of the deed, or of the purpose, is affected by reference to the earthly connections, attachments, separations, and all the relative conditions and circumstances of the party by whom it was performed or planned, and the party on whom it was intended to centre; parties reciprocally witnessing, each as to the other, every hidden action manifested, every secret of the heart revealed.

“ In prospectively contemplating the nature of the day of judgment, while our ideas may be, to a certain degree, assisted by the analogy which in some points will subsist, if heavenly proceedings may, for illustration, be compared with transactions on earth, between that awful tribunal and a human judicature, we are in danger of being greatly misled by forgetting that, in one most important point, there is not the slightest similarity between them as to the object in view. In human judicatures, a principal purpose of the trial is to discover the truth of the facts; to elicit from the witnesses the information necessary to enable the appointed judges, whatever be their denomination or their form of process, to decide whether the person accused did or did not commit the crime laid to his charge. At the divine tribunal, no such purpose can have a place. Every thing is already clear, has ever been clear, to Omniscience. Actions, words, thoughts, all have already been recorded. The purpose of the day of judgment is not to inform the judge; is not to qualify Him to pronounce a righteous sentence. It is to prove to every individual, in the innumerable myriads of assembled men and angels, the justice and holiness of the judge in the sentence which he has already pronounced; in the sentence which, as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in conformity with other passages of scripture, intimates, he has already begun to carry into execution, even from the moment of the death of the person whose lot it decides. In the most copious of the accounts contained in the New Testament of the proceedings of the last day (Matt. xxv. 31–46.), the Judge, when all nations are collected before him, is represented as commencing the judgment, not by inquiry and examination, but by an authoritative separation of the multitude into two classes, the righteous and the wicked, followed by an immediate promulgation of the sentence on each class : ‘Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you :'— Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.' Then proceeds a statement from himself, of the particulars on which the sentence was founded. And, subsequently, comes

the discussion of those particulars with the parties, which educes the acknowledgment from the wicked of the justice of their punishment, and from the righteous of the immeasurable grace of their reward. From this scriptural view of the subject, we perceive afresh the indispensability of the fulness of human recollections and recognitions in the persons assembled for judgment. And we discern, also, a conclusive answer to the question which is sometimes proposed ;--If individuals are consigned, immediately after death, to their condition of happiness or of punishment for ever, where is the necessity, what is the object, of a future day of judgment ?" *

MATT. XXVI. 29. “ But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” The object of our Saviour, in the utterance of these words, was to console the minds of the disciples in the prospect of his death, and of the final separation which was about to take place between them. It is no less obvious, that he intended to assure them of renewed intercourse at some future period, and to intimate, that when he met them again, there would be the interchange of the same fellowship which had been hitherto maintained amongst them. Wine is the emblem of pleasure, and the epithet “new," attached to it by our Lord plainly suggested that the promised reunion would commence under the happiest auspices, and bring with it enjoyments which would be superior in quality and freshness to any that they had ever realized in their past intercourse. These ideas are unquestionably comprehended in the consolatory language which he addressed to them. The time and place, therefore, to which it refers, constitute the main hinge on which every reasonable inquiry, arising out of the passage, must be supposed to turn, in its relation to the present subject of investigation. It does not appear that our Lord administered to his disciples the ordinance, usually called his supper, on any occasion after his death, or that he ever afterwards drank “new wine" with them in a literal sense. We may, however, understand the prediction to have been fulfilled, in a subordinate sense, after his resurrection, when he was restored to the society of his disciples in the established kingdom of his Father, and filled their hearts with joy and gladness by the many demonstrations which he gave of his identity, power, and undiminished affection towards them. But to restrict the words in question to this transient and interrupted fellowship upon earth, is to understand them in a sense far lower than corresponds with the solemn occasion on which they were delivered, or with the more explicit declarations which our Saviour made to his disciples, in his farewell address, with regard to their felicity and reunion with him in another life. He uttered the language before us in the first institution of that ordinance, which prefigures, more fully than any other, the exalted intercourse which will be maintained amongst the redeemed in heaven; and the wine which he handed round to his privileged guests, shadowed forth the blood which he was about to shed to procure the remission of their sins, and to obtain a title for them to the promised inheritance. The whole drift of his conversation, as it is detailed by the beloved disciple, is in harmony with this representation of the passage. “Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for

* These very judicious remarks are extracted from a volume of Essays by the late Mr. Gisborne, one of which is “ On the Recollections which are to subsist between earthly Friends reunited in the World to Come.” The author takes the opportunity of recommending this excellent tract to the notice of the reader, where a considerable variety of passages are adduced, and ably discussed, with a view to establish the certainty of future recognitions. He has, however, embodied in the present treatise, such of them as are, in his view, the most interesting and conclusive; in addition to several others, which appear to have escaped the notice of the above-mentioned writer.

« AnteriorContinuar »