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who would throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner, but who would burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. That this meaning, indeed, was prominent in our Lord's proclamation of the kingdom of heaven is forcibly illustrated by the Sermon on the Mount. To regard that Sermon as simply a collection of maxims of morality is to miss its most distinctive characteristic—that characteristic which aroused the astonishment of those to whom it was spoken-its tone of authority. It not only proclaims moral duties; but it proclaims the sanction for them. It speaks, throughout, of men being brought under the operation of the laws of the kingdom of heaven-laws more severe than any of which they had hitherto been conscious, and of all their actions being done under the eye of a Father in heaven, who will reward or punish them in accordance with their most secret conduct. More particularly, it concludes by a clear declaration that an appointed day will come when this judgment will be executed, and that our Lord Himself will preside over its execution. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' 'Therefore,' He adds, 'whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine,
and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man ;' and Every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man.'
In view of this conspicuous illustration of our Lord's preaching, taken from one of His most familiar and, as some have thought, least dogmatic utterances-one, moreover, which is placed by the Evangelist in the forefront of his account of the Gospelit can hardly be necessary to dwell on the numerous other passages in which our Lord announces more specifically and solemnly His future return in glory to execute judgment. It may serve to confirm their force, however, to observe how frequently, as in the instance just mentioned, they occur, so to say, incidentally, to support some other truth or declaration ; as though the great and awful fact were ever present to our Lord's mind, and He desired it to be similarly present to the mind of His disciples, as giving to all He says the supreme sanction of His power and His will to put it into execution. It is not only that there will be a judgment, but that He will Himself execute it. What we are told by the Evangelist, again and again, is that the Son of Man will come in His glory, and will sit on the throne of His glory, and will gather together all His elect from the four winds, and all nations shall be gathered before Him, and He shall separate them
as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and that He will reward every man according to his works. It was upon this declaration of His future return in power and judgment, that He was finally condemned by the Jewish Council. In reply to the adjuration of the High-priest, Art thou the Christ the Son of the Blessed?' Jesus said, 'I am; and hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.' Then the high-priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy; what think ye? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death.'
Now, the first observation which may be made upon a review of these awful declarations is, that they are a conclusive proof of the manner in which our Lord's claims as a moral teacher are indissolubly associated with His superhuman and divine nature. In these repeated and solemn assertions we are able to rest on broad grounds, independent of critical or philosophical disputes. Our Lord's assertions of His power and right to judge mankind, and of His future coming for that purpose, are common to all the Evangelists, and are at least as strong in St. Matthew as in St. John. The latter Evangelist, indeed, records some sayings which throw a light upon the relation in which our Lord stands to God
* St. Mark xiv. 61-64.
the Father, in His office as Judge. 'The Father,' we are told, 'judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.' The power of judging all men must lie in the hands of God alone, and any person who exercises that power must be endued with the omnipotence and omniscience of God Himself. St. John thus reveals the necessary condition in our Lord's relation to the Father for His exercising the office of Judge. But the declaration that He will exercise that office, and will exercise it with the whole authority and power of the Godhead, is made or implied throughout His teaching, and cannot be eliminated from any of the Gospels without such an entire annihilation of their historical character as would prevent our placing any reliance on their account of our Lord's words.
To take but one instance, consider what a tremendous claim is involved in the familiar parable of the division between the sheep and the goats. There are some persons who would use that parable, like many other portions of the Gospels, as though it were simply a touching and forcible exhortation
to beneficence. But it must be apparent upon reflection how much more is involved in it. The blessing and the curse in that last awful scene are bestowed, not simply upon works of benevolence or unkindness as such, but upon works of benevolence or unkindness considered as in effect done to our Lord Himself. The parable depicts all mankind as standing in a vital relation to Christ, and as blessed or cursed according as they have served either Him or those whom He adopts as His own. Recall the final sentence of the scene, 'Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.' Had the speaker been only one of the sons of men, what a tremendous presumption would have been involved in such a juxtaposition of words! 'Ye did it not to Me: and these shall go away into everlasting punishment.' The whole fate of mankind depending on their relation to Him! To be the Judge of every human soul, the supreme arbiter of every act, and thought, and word-this is the character in which our Lord presents Himself to us throughout the Gospels, in some of His simplest utterances as well as in His most mysterious; and in this claim alone He reveals Himself to us as our Lord and our God.
Our Lord's office as Judge is, in fact, one of the