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loosed a little season.” (Rev. xx. 3.) This is a most wonderful fact in revealed truth; and one end of his life being thus prolonged will doubtless be to magnify the power of God as greater to hold him in check for a thousand years than at once to crush and destroy him. But power and daring enough remain in him after this his long imprisonment to dare and defy Omnipotence yet once again, and he will find moreover ready and willing agents through whom to carry out his presumptuous design. For we read, “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog (which we must be careful not to confound with the pre-millennial gathering to battle under the same name) to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city,' by which we understand an encampment round about restored Jerusalem, which for a thousand years has been the earth’s metropolis. This will be Satan's and man's combined and crowning act of presumption, in chastisement for which we wonder not to read on, “ And fire came down out of heaven from God and consumed them. And that enemy who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and sulphur (the most effective for the destruction of life), where both the beast and the false prophet were cast, and they will be tormented day and night for the ages of the ages.” (Emphatic Diaglott, Rev. xx. 7-10.)
Thus we see every dealing of God with man commencing with blessing, through man's degeneracy ending in curse. In Eden - God blessed them and said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," but how soon! "Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” And curse continued until “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and it repented the Lord (wonderful words) that He had made man upon the earth.'
.” The very faculty given to man above the brute, that he might glorify God and enjoy Him for ever, he employed to sink himself beneath the brute and to corrupt his way upon the earth, and so the flood came and destroyed them all. Again God began with man, and to Noah and his sons He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth ;" but how soon he had to interfere with devices laid in defiance of Himself! and He scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth. They said, "Go to, let us build;" and they went to, and 'got up a company'without God; and what came of it? What has come to many companies since, whose reckoning has been without God-Babel. Again God began with Abram, saying, “I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing." A few centuries pass away, and what do we hear Him say to the seed of Abraham ? “ Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel against the whole family which I brought up from the land of
Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth ; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together except they be agreed ?" (Amos iii. 1-3). And when they had filled up the measure of their iniquity by crucifying their Messiah, soon, very soon, the curse fell upon their city to its destruction, and upon their nation to its dispersion. The very canon of Old Testament Scripture, commencing with so much of blessing to the race, closes with the warning, “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. iv. 6). Again God began
. with man on the day of Pentecost in the endowment of the church with blessing and power to bless, and the chapters that open in greatest blessing we have seen close in the greatest curse the earth has ever seen, in Satan's masterpiece, the Man of Sin.
But now the greatest wonder of all is, that millennial blessedness should end in curse let loose again, resulting in the siege of restored Jerusalem, “the beloved city:" for which act of presumptuous folly and wickedness fire descends from God out of heaven and devours them. Thus briefly and graphically is the overthrow of man and man's enemy described, and such a direct intervention of judgment we may suppose to have been imperative, for we cannot conceive of the city and its inhabitants as in any way qualified to sustain a siege or resist an assault.
Now must take place that most awful if not most wonderful event of human history,
THE GENERAL RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT,
wherein, according to our Lord's words, "all that are in their 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 judgment” (see Alford), and according to John, “The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades delivered the dead which were in them.” And here let us note that the resurrection of the one class is as real a bodily resurrection as that of the other; for we must insist that the promise to the believer is not less a threat to the unbeliever, “I will raise him up at the last day.” Not only in the words above quoted have we this revealed, but Paul to Felix declares, “ there shall be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust.' (Acts xxiv. 15.) Nor may we inquire of these, any more than of those in the first resurrection, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?” It should suffice us to hear our Lord first say, Him which hath power to destroy both soul and body in hell ;" and finally John, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” In the body, men have sinned; sin hath been to a great extent the result of its promptings; in the body, therefore, men must receive their sentence, and the body as well as the soul must become the subject of the second death." We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done through the body according to the things that he did, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. v. 10. See Alford.)
Thus before the great white throne (emblem of omniscience, purity, and perfection in judgment) set up in the heavenlies must appear in one dread assembly all fallen intelligences, human and angelic. But first in order we think must come the judgment of angels; sinners as they were before men, we suggest that their judgment will be likely to precede that of men. And that they are to be judged is evident from two passages, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels ?” (1 Cor. vi. 3.) and “ The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (2 Peter, ii. 4; and Jude 6). From which it is evident that before Satan and his legions are consigned to the lake of fire, he and they must stand in the judgment to receive their sentence from Christ and his saints, then seated with Him in the throne of His glory. Now it shall be seen whether all the angels who kept not their first estate come under the judgment of condemnation; or whether (as some think) Christ went and preached to these spirits in prison during the forty days that elapsed between His resurrection from the tomb and His ascension from Mount Olivet. What Peter meant when he wrote that crux of all commentators, 1 Peter iii. 19, 20, we then shall know. That the preaching of our blessed Lord to any spirits anywhere could be in vain cannot be thought; “He shall not fail nor be discouraged;" but to whom and to what end this was, we then shall see. Certain it is that Peter apprehended a feature of our Lord's mission to fallen spirits about which, to say the least, there is much obscurity. That Satan, the tempter of our race, was first the tempter of his own, we believe. That the sin of the tempted is less in degree than that of the tempter is certain. That the weak are always the prey of the strong, if God be not their helper, is equally certain. That His tender mercies are over all His works, His word declares. That His rational creatures, both human and angelic, share those mercies most, is evident. That He has been long-suffering toward men, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, Peter declares. That grace has been shown to elect angels, enabling them to keep their first estate, and may yet have been shown to others who kept not their first estate, is at least suggested by the passage quoted from Peter.
With what absorbing interest, an interest surpassing all other, shall we then discover the origin of evil. How amidst the hierarchy of heaven one was found with pride and daring enough to dare Omnipotence, and others too of meaner rank to join the rebel host! How much of fact or fiction, how much of inspiration our Milton had, when he penned that glorious commentary on Hebrews i. 6, we then shall know :
• Hear all ye angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,
Satan ; so call him now; his former name
Paradise Lost. Book v.
Then shall it be shown who was chief sinner and who next and next. And if the least responsible shall be the first to die, it will follow that the first that sinned shall be the longest sufferer and the last to die. For now the lake of fire, “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels," must receive its first consignment. Strong and mighty angels, those terrible ministers of vengeance, must now fulfil their dread mission, for at length “the time” (Matt. viii. 29) so long delayed has come. No longer a prison, a bottomless pit; but a lake of fire, a pit of destruction, an everlasting destruction in the sense that it will be irretrievable, resulting in extinction, that God may be all in all.
When thus man's tempter has been judged and received his sentence—the execution of which may last for an age or ages—man the tempted must stand in the judgment to receive his sentence too. And then must appear the scene depicted first by our Lord in Matt. xxv., and then by the Seer in Patmos, Rev. xx. 12. And because great difference of opinion exists as to the identity of these two scenes, we will fortify our position by quoting one who will be an authority with some if not with all. Dean Alford, in his com
mentary on Matt. xxv. 31-46, says, “ We now come to the great and universal judgment at the end of this period—the millennial kingdom—also prophesied of distinctly in order in Rev. xx. 11-15, in which all the dead both small and great stand before God. Notice the precision of the words in verse 31, ‘But when,' literally whenever,' this setting forth the indefiniteness of the time, the 'but 'showing the distinction from the two parables foregoing, and then' to mark a precise time when all this shall take place—a day of judgment.” Then must be seen standing in the
— judgment the parents of our race (unless indeed already manifested at the pre-millenial assize), when we shall learn the measure of their responsibility, and their interest in that atonement about which they can have known so little intelligently. Whether the sin of Eve, who was the first in the transgression, was equal to that of Adam, seeing that he was alone when the prohibition was given, and she was assailed by the tempter as the weaker of the two. Then must stand in the judgment the first man-slayer, who only in the blow that proved fatal to his brother could become aware of the meaning of death, and what would cause it, and could only measure his guilt when God said, “What hast thou done ? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Gen. iv. 10.) That he was of that wicked one is more evident in his hate of his brother's righteous works than in slaying his brother, which was but the sad fruit of an evil root. Then must stand in the judgment those ancient sinners to whom the seventh from Adam prophesied, saying, “ Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against them." Thus early in the world's history were men warned of judgment to come upon all ungodliness. But if it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, for Tyre and Sidon in that day than for sinners of later date, what may not be said for these to whom judgment became first proclaimed.
And this we take to be an important feature in the judgment now. under consideration, the relative responsibility of the judged, the principle contained in the words, “ That servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke xii. 47, 48). And hence it is manifest that Omniscience alone could be the judge of quick and dead. For then shall the righteous of all ages, countries, climes and times, who have in that sense which God will approve obeyed the law written in their conscience, be invited with