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a “Come ye blessed of my Father," much to their astonishment as it would seem, from their response, When saw we thee,” &c., having had, it may be, no Scripture revelation, but only the law of kindness written in their hearts; while others who have had gospel light and teaching shall be found on the left hand, learning but too late that faith without works is dead, being alone, as they shall hear from the lips of the Judge their sentence, “ Depart ye cursed."
Whether all that have ever lived and breathed the breath of life will re-appear to stand in judgment there, may admit of question in the light of some portions of Scripture testimony. If "the King whose name is the Lord of hosts hath said concerning Babylon, her princes, and her wise men, her captains, her rulers, and her mighty men, they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake (Jer. li. 57), and “ As many as have sinned without law shall perish without law” (Rom. ii. 12), for “Where no law is there is no transgression ” (Rom. iv. 15), it may be, that the heathen to whom the word of God has not been sent, comprising the myriads of India, China, and the aborigines of Africa, America, and Australia in the ages long past and gone, who, so far as we know have had no revelation, will not be raised to judgment, but in their present death have already utterly perished. And when we consider the infinitude of the human race, that during its seven thousand years' history shall have been born to live a few brief years, and then to pass away like a forgotten dream, a vast proportion of which have had no more moral training or acquaintance with a Creator than the brute creation around them, we feel driven to one or other of two conclusions, either they will be raised and without judgment become subjects of a revelation in some future age, or, in their present death continue dead, and prove to have been “ 'put away like dross,” to be taken into account no more.
We are not unmindful that "the wrath of God is to be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,' but it is to such as hold the truth in unrighteousness, and, therefore, to such as have had a revelation of what truth is. Nor would we tamper with the words already quoted, “ All that are in the graves shall hear his voice," &c., and," I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God," &c. But finding the word “all” admits of considerable qualification in some Scriptures, we incline to think that it may also here. And when we consider the necessity of the chaff to the wheat, and that both grow upon one stem from one root, and that the wheat he will gather into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire; we feel urged to inquire in more senses than one, What is the chaff to the wheat ?
The extent of revelation to the antediluvian world is to us almost entirely unknown. Whether Enoch was a preacher of righteousness as well as a prophet of judgment we are not told; we may
almost surely infer it, but with what result we know not. Noah is expressly called a preacher of righteousness, but whether even his wife, his sons, and his son's wives were obedient to righteousness or saved in any other sense than from a watery grave we know not. Whether Lot's dark lantern was the only ray of light that ever shone upon the cities of the plain we cannot tell; but that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah must stand in the judgment appears certain from our Lord's words in Matt. x. 15. Whether the inhabitants of Canaan had a visitation of mercy ere God by Israel visited them in judgment, to destroy and dispossess them for all the abominations which they wrought in their Moloch worship we are not told. That Nineveh was
so visited and repented at the preaching of Jonah we are told. What the condition of the world, and what its measure of accountability has been in the various epochs of its history wherein God has been, or seemed to be, silent over it, we are left to conjecture.
Those centuries that elapsed between the closing of the old canon of Scripture and the opening of the new, during which the cry of God's people must have been ascending to heaven, but He answering not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes, excepting those few who feared the Lord and thought on His name : and those centuries that preceded the Reformation wherein the very Bible itself became buried or veiled in an unknown tongue : how it has been that in the moral as well as material universe, some parts have been light, others dark, and others again in perpetual twilight: how dark places of the earth have continued full of cruelty age after age : how justice and sovereignty harmonise in Him in whom there is no darkness at all, we shall in that day learn to our entire satisfaction.
What an unveiling of God and man shall that day bring! What deeds of darkness accomplished, but never known beyond their perpetrators, shall the light of that presence reveal! What purposes of evil formulated but never accomplished for lack of power and opportunity must come forth for judgment then ! As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he," and at this judgment-seat the thoughts and intents of the heart shall determine a man's works to have been good or ill. The covetous and oppressors who would have devoured widow's houses and disinherited the fatherless had not God pleaded their cause, shall then be judged, as if they had brought their wicked devices to pass; and many shall be found to have coveted Naboth's vineyard without Ahab's power to acquire it. For now has come the day when “ God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts," " when the earth shall disclose her blood and no more cover her slain."
And not only the ages past and present shall stand in judgment
there, but the myriads yet unborn, who shall people the earth during the millennial period; and who shall measure the accountability of that age, when Satan shall be bound and the Saviour shall reign, when righteousness shall be the rule and sin the exception? Surely sin against the light of that day will be sin indeed! But the judgment must sit and the books be opened ; and every man shall be judged out of those things which are written in the books according to his works. The judgment of Matt. xxv. and Rev. xx. is expressly a judgment of works. No question of creed or caste or nationality, Jew or Gentile is here; every man's work as the result of creed or no creed at all; effects not causes now are judged. Inasmuch as ye did or did not; runs the sentence. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life”-here let us note the individuality of the judgment and sentence—“was cast into the lake of fire.” This which is shown to John as a lake of fire is called by our Lord in Matt. xxv. “ everlasting fire,” and elsewhere is by him explained as destructive of body and soul in hell (Matt. x. 28). Paul also speaks of it as everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. i. 9). But let any who doubt the finality of this end of the wicked consult the following seven passages, to which other seven might soon be added : Ps. Xxxvii. 10 and 38, Ps. cxlv. 20, Obad. 16, Mal. iv. 1, 2 Peter ii. 12, Jude 12. From which it should appear to every candid mind, that the emblem of fire is employed by God as the most destructive element known, that thereby we might learn his will concerning the lost. That is not lost which can be found anywhere, neither has that perished which continues to exist.
And when thus the work of the Son of God shall have been accomplished in the salvation of the redeemed, and in the destruction of the works of the devil then must come
THE SURRENDER OF THE KINGDOM
" to God even the Father, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power; for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” Can this be, while a rebel will exists, human or angelic, anywhere in His universe ? Not to our understanding of His being all in all. But when at length the last sinner has died, and with him death itself finally swallowed up in victory, the mystery of God therein will be truly finished. The purposes of Jehovah in Creation and Redemption having been completed by the revelation of Himself in a trinity of persons, “ in bringing many sons unto glory,” Jehovah reaches -recovers that primoval status which was His while as yet the
Word was in the bosom of the Father, and shall then become what we take to be expressed in the words “ God, all in all.”
Then must appear
THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH,
the last and best vision granted to John. For if the division of chapters had been ours the first verse of Rev. xxi. would have been the last verse of Rev. xx., regarding it as we do in point of order the last thing shown to John and the end of revelation. All that follows in point of record is but former vision in detail. We find mention of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God as the portion of the overcomers in Rev. iii. 12, and here in Rev. xxi. we have its description in detail. And this portion shall become theirs at the commencement of millennial glory, which now is done away by that glory which excelleth, in the new heavens and the new earth. For in the presence of the great white throne the earth and the heaven-that now is—“ fled away, and there was found no place for them,” which we take to be but another form of expression for that of Peter's, “ the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” This being so, it is evident that all then living upon the earth must become-as to their bodies—the subjects of some change, that together with the risen dead they may stand before the great white throne for judgment after the material earth shall have passed away. But the new earth now under consideration has no more sea. No more continents dividing nations and interests into home and foreign relations, no more islands isolating from their fellows ever so many or ever so few. One vast home without apartments, one vast country without provinces, one vast earth without sea. sense whatever a material earth, we may be sure it will not be land without water: if as some think this has been the foreshadow and reflection of that which shall abide, we may yet have acquaintance with rivers, lakes, and inland seas, but troubled ocean seas no
If in any
The finality of revelation to the believer we have already seen in the words, “ And so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. iv. 17). The remaining finalities we have now reached in these words,
Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. xx. 15). “ The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. xx. 10). " Then cometh the end, when He delivereth up the kingdom to God and the Father
that God may be all in all ” (1 Cor. xv. 24, 28. Alford); and, lastly, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea” (Rev. xxi. 1).
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been His counsellor ? or who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed to him again ? for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
Bless'd be the Father and His love,
To whose celestial source we owe
And rills of comfort here below.
From whose dear wounded body rolls
Pardon and life for dying souls.
Who in our hearts of sin and woe
And into boundless glory flow.
And God the Spirit we adore,
Without a bottom or a shore.- Watts.
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