Obrazy na stronie

The same truth may be gathered also from that text in Corinthians, which speaks of the termination of his judgment: for the Apostle says, that he shall then lay down all rule, authority and power; which shews, that rule, authority and the like are connected with his previous judgment: even as Christ himself says, that the "Father hath given him authority to execute judgment." This testimony may be summed up in one passage of Scripture: "The Lord is our Judge-the Lord is our Lawgiver-the Lord is our King-he will save us."n

And as we have seen, that though he declared he was a KING, being born to that end; yet that he refused to let the people come and make him a king, and would not at that time exercise his royal prerogative: so also, though he declared that all judgment was committed to the Son, yet did he not then assume the character of judge. He tells Nicodemus, that God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world." He refused to judge in the case of the woman taken in adultery;" and he rebuked another, who would have anticipated his rule, with the words "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?"'t

It will be further evident, that what is most frequently called in Scripture "the judgment," is no other than the kingdom and rule of Christ, when it is considered that the saints are to have part in it. For first Enoch prophesied, "Behold the Lord cometh with myriads of his saints, to execute judgment upon all. "'u David says, that to execute the judgment written is an honour, which all the saints are to have."'w Isaiah says, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment." In the vision which Daniel had, "judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, when the ancient of days came." And, finally, St. Paul declares most positively, "that the saints shall judge the world." And it should he observed in these passages, that the participation of the saints in the judgment is not confined merely to their receiving "power over the nations" to rule; but they are apparently to be made instrumental in inflicting the vengeance also. Such is the burden of the testimony in the 149th Psalm, which declares that they have "a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the heathen and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron." Such is implied in Rev. ii. 26, just referred to, where in addition to "power over the nations" it is said, "they shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they

1 Cor. xv. 24. m John v. 27. n Isa. xxxiii. 22. • John xviii. 37. p vi. 15. 4 John v. 22. riii. 17. . viii. 3. + Luke xii. 14. u Jude 14, 15. w Psalm cxlix. 5-9. - Isa. xxxii. 1. y Dan. vii. 22. z 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.

be broken to shivers." Again it is written, "Ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet;" and "the righteous shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked:" all which passages, though studded with metaphor, and in the Revelation veiled in symbols, do signify a coercive power and restraint, which shall be exercised at that time by the righteous.

Those who deny the future kingdom of our Lord and his saints are nevertheless compelled to admit, that the saints will in some way or other be joined with him in the judgment. But how? If the judgment is only to be a kind of trial, in which rewards and punishments are to be determined by the Lord, the saints will themselves stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account of the deeds done in the body: and then, the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every one shall be rewarded according to his works. Besides which, it is evident that there is to be a difference in degree of rank and authority among the saints in this judgment; as when our Lord says of his apostles, that "they shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel;" which tribes I apprehend to be the redeemed Israel, and therefore themselves to partake in the judgment.

But if we understand by the judgment rule and authority, then these things are perfectly reconcileable. I can only reconcile with this view of it the Lord's declaring, that one shall be ruler over five cities, and another shall have authority over ten cities, &c.e

Having thus far, as I trust, cleared this matter, I would next notice, that the period of judgment must necessarily include the whole period of the saints' rule on earth; and likewise that tribulation or wrath upon the nations which ushers it in; together with that final visitation which closes it. This, whatever may be the events to be enacted of a judicial character-whether the wrath by plague, pestilence, famine, sword, revolution, or fire upon the wicked; or the authority, power and government given to the saints;-all this, I repeat, is in my apprehension of it intended by THE JUDGMENT. Before however I enter more particularly upon the consideration of the events included in the judgment, I will first meet the objections which are made to this extension of its period.

First then it is argued, that the whole time of judgment is called "the day of the Lord," "that great day;" which expressions are considered incompatible with its continuance through

a Mal. iv. 3. b Palm lviii. 10. с Rom. xiv. 10-12; 2 Cor. v. 10. d Matt. xix, 28; Luke xxii. 30. e Luke xix. 17-19.

upwards of a thousand years. But this objection proceeds from the want of acquaintance with the scriptural import of the word day. Though often, in historical narrative, it includes no more than a space of four and twenty hours; yet, in prophetical language, it has a very different meaning, and frequently even in narrative. Any period of time, during which events or actings of a uniform character take place, are called the day thereof. There are innumerable passages which speak of such a duration of time as a day; but, as many of them may be said rather to mark the commencement of such a period than its continuation, (which perhaps is not unfrequently the case,) I will instance some which are the least ambiguous.

First, as to narrative. The work of Creation is divided into periods called days, and said to be finished in six of them: but in Genesis ii. 4, the whole period in which the heavens, the earth, the plants and herbs were created is called a day. This augmentation of the term, however inconsiderable it may be, at least proves, that a day is not necessarily to be limited to a period of twenty-four hours; but that its duration must be determined by the context. So in Psalm xcv. mention is made of the "day of temptation (or trial) in the wilderness;" which is stated in the context to have continued forty years; and this period is likened by the Apostle to the whole period of trial to the christian Church,-"while it is said, to day if ye will hear his voice." This is still clearer in the following chapter of Hebrews; for he there argues, that because David had limited a certain day, (saying in David, to day, after so long a time,) there must remain a rest—a SABBATISM―to the people of God." I will not dispute, whether this sabbatism refers to rest in the Gospel promises or ordinances, under the christian dispensation; to the rest of disembodied or of glorified saints in heaven; or to the great septennary of a thousand years; all of which have been variously contended for: but, let a man select which he will, this must be evident, that a period of at least a thousand years must in this instance be intended by the term day.

In the latter testimony I have already stepped beyond the bounds of strict narrative; but I have one or two other instances under the next class which I must still urge. In Ecclesiastes xii. 1, we read,-"Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not;" and these evil days are immediately after explained to be "the day when the keepers of the house tremble, &c."-alluding in highly figurative language to the whole period of declining life and its infirmities. Another Scripture saith, "I have heard thee in a

fvv. 8-11.

Heb. iii. 7-15. b Ibid. iv. 1-11.

time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation." This is generally interpreted to refer to the whole period of divine forbearance under the Gospel dispensation; which is therefore called-"the day of salvation." In another place the Apostle says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand," which words night and day have a double meaning; for first they evidently refer to the character of two different dispensations, the one being a time of darkness and trial, the other of light and glory; and they as clearly refer to duration of time, the night being spent, and the day approaching. This night is the whole period of trial to the Church, and the day is the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour.

Some further object, that in John v. 28, 29, the resurrection and judgment are limited to an hour;-"the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation;"-and therefore (they argue) that the day of judgment must necessarily be limited to a small portion of time. It happens however that the term hour has precisely the same indefinite sense attached to it, in a great variety of instances, as the word day. It is obvious that in the text containing the objection, it is not to be limited to the twentyfourth part of a day; but corresponds with the day of the resurrection and judgment, whatever period of time that may prove to be. Owing however to the word hora (úpa) not being always translated hour, but sometimes rendered by the words season and time, the mere English reader is not aware of those numerous passages, in which it is placed for an independent period. I must therefore instance a few. It is translated season in the following passages; John v. 35; 2 Cor. vii. 8; Philemon v. 15. In the first instance it signifies the whole period of John Baptist's ministry; in the second, the time which elapsed between the reception by the Corinthians of the two Epistles of St. Paul written to them; and in the third instance, the whole term of the desertion of Onesimus from his master Philemon. In John xvi. 2, and 25, 26; also 1 John ii. 18; it is translated time. In the first instance it applies at the least to the whole period in which the Christians were persecuted by the Jews, who blindly thought they were doing God service. In the second instance it relates to the whole period (according to Beza's interpretation) from the ascension of Christ to the end of time; in which the Lord teaches men by his Spirit, and

i2 Cor. vi. 2. k Rom. xiii. 12.

And here it is to be

they pray to the Father in his name.* remarked, that the phrase "the time (a) cometh" in verse 25, is from the context exactly equivalent to the words "at that day" in verse 26, and applied to the very same period. The third instance, "Little children it is the last time," (pa) is interpreted by Scott and other commentators to signify "the last dispensation;" and therefore must be taken to extend through the whole space of years from the time of John to the second Advent of our Lord.

The conclusion therefore at which I arrive is this: that as the whole period of depression and vengeance on the Jews is the day of their visitation; so the day of judgment is the period of their restoration and triumph. And again, that as the whole Church of Christ has been conflicting through a long night of trial in various ways: so, that great day' is to consist in bringing all her enemies under her feet;-she shall be no more oppressed, but triumphant and glorious to the end.

II. Having shewn that the Judgment of Christ will consist in the deliverance of his people, and in a rule or reign of righteousness, I have now to show that it is also a period of VENGEANCE on his enemies.

The passages are so numerous in the prophets, which speak of a time of signal wrath upon the ungodly, and of awful slaughter and bloodshed, that the most cursory reader must be acquainted with them. My present object therefore will be, not to bring before the reader the mere fact of this period of tribulation; but, in order that he may form some notion of the uniform testimony of the prophets to this event, to select a few of the more remarkable passages, which are linked and tied together, like the curtains in the tabernacle, by certain obvious and peculiar expressions. And I will further beg him to observe, that this vengeance or indignation is in many instances so connected with the period of the glory which the Church shall enjoy, as to justify me in saying, that it will immediately precede or usher in that dispensation.

First we will take Isaiah xxiv, of which I shall give the principal features. It opens by solemnly inviting the attention of all flesh. "Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people; let the earth hear, and all that is therein;-the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them: he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall

* Beza on this place says, "Spiritus sanctus ab ascensione Christi in Apostolos effusus, summa quæque mysteria et solutis nostræ arcana, tum ipsos, tum etiam Ecclesiam per ipsos, erudiit, et ad finem usque seculorum erudiet."

« PoprzedniaDalej »