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The evidenee of facts produced as the reason of judgment. All sins, whe
ther secret or openly visible, shall be brought to judgment. Sios of omission and comınission. All the aggravations and circumstances of sin. The manner of this judicial proceeding is hy opening the books. The books of the law and gospel shall be unfolded in all their precepts, and men's lives compared wth them. The omniscience of God will give convincing evidence of men's works. The book of conscience shall be opened, and ac.
Satan will be a principal accuser. The wicked will acruse one another. The saints of God will give testimony against the wicked. The impartiality of the sentence will make the divide justice conspicuous. There will be no distinction of persons in that judgment. Tbere will be a distinction of causes. Every man shall be judged accord. ing to the tenour of his good works, and the desert of his bad. The har. vest shall be answerable to the sowing of the seed, both in kind and
cuise or excuse men.
11. I shall now proceed to consider the evidence of the facts that is produced as the reason of that judgment.
The temper of divine justiee is very observable in the particular judgments recorded in scripture. In the first process of justice on earth, we read that God made the inquiry of Adam, “ hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?" Gen. 3. ll. and by palpable evidence convinced him before he condemned him. Thus before the fiery vengeance upon the wicked cities, the memory of which will never be extinguished, the Lord said to Abraham, “ because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done according to the cry of it that is come up unto me," Gen. 18. 20, 21. viz. whether they were so numerously and excessively wicked; “ if not, I will know." God is pleased to incarnate himself in man's expression, to declare more sensibly to us, that he never punishes with precipitation, but after an equal trial of the cause. Thus we read of that profane king of Babylon, Belshazzar, " that he was weighed in the balance, and found wanting," Dan. 5. 27. before he was sentenced to be deprived of his kingdom and life. And the destruction of the antichristian state is attended with solemn hallelujahs for the righteousness of that judgment, Rev. 19. 2, 3. And in the last day the righteousness of God's proceedings shall be universally manifest and magnified. It is therefore called “ the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Rom. 2.5. Now in order to this, the scripture informs us, that all the works of men shall be brought into judgment, “even every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Eccles. 12. ult. And the apostle saith, “ that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Cor. 5. 10.
All sins, whether secret or open and visible, shall be accounted for. Those sins that have been acted in the most secret retirement, so that no eye of man could take cognizance of them ; sins concealed from the eye of the day, the light of the sun, and from the eye of night, the light of a candle, shall then be made manifest. Nay, the sins of the thoughts and affections, of which satan could not accuse men, when the inward fire of lust or malice is not discovered by the least smoke or sparkles, by no expressions, all those shall be brought to judginent : “ God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." Rom. 2. 16.
The sins of omission of our duty that are so numerous, from carelessness and diversions, from slothfulness and delays, and that now so little affect us; for we are more sensible of what we do, than of what we have not done; the guilt of all these shall then be heavily charged on the conscience of the sinner. was an hungry, and you gave me no meat ;, I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink,” was the accusation of the reprobates from the Judge himself. 66 To him who knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a sin.” James 4. The neglect of improving all the means, advantages, and opportunities of doing or receiving good, will be a great part of that judgment. The Lord called his servants to an account for the talents committed to their trust, and required profit in proportion to their number and worth. All sins of commission in youth and
gross sensuality, as lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries, and all excess of riot, shall be accounted for to him who is ready to judge the quick and the
age, whether "
dead,” | Pet. 4. 5. or acts of unrighteousness to others. “He that doeth wrong, shall receive according to the wrong he has done." Col. 3. 25. And sins of a lesser guilt, for which the most are not touched with grief or shame, shall then be produced in judgment. All the sins of our words, so easily committed, and not so easily observed, shall then be called to a heavy remembrance. The Judge himself tells us; I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt. 12. And if vain words, the signs and immediate effects of a vain mind, shall sadly increase our accounts, how much more all the contentious, fierce and revengeful words; the detracting, false, contumelious and injurious words ; the impure, filthy and contagious words ; the profane, blasphemous and impious words, that “flow from the evil treasure of the heart ?" O their dreadful number and oppressing weight!
And all the aggravations and circumstances of men's sins, that raise their guilt to such fearful heights, shall be enumerated in order to judgment. For thus it was foretold; “ behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand 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 all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14, 15. And all the good works of the saints shall then be remembered, even to the least work of piety, the “ giving of two mites to the treasury of the temple,” Luke 21.3, 4. and the least works of charity, the “giving a cup cold water to a disciple,” Matt. 10. 42. upon the account of his relation to Christ. All their secret graces and duties shall then be rewarded.
The manner of this judicial evidenee is set forth to us in scripture, by the “ opening the books ;” congruously to proceedings in human judgment, wherein the information and charge is produced from writings for the conviction of the accused. Thus it was represented to St. John in a vision; “ I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of the things that were written in the books, according to their works.” Rev. 20. 12.
1. The books of the law and gospel shall then be opened in all the injunctions and prohibitions, and our lives compared with them. Our Saviour told the Jews, “ do not think that I will accuse you to my Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom you trust : not the person, but the law of Moses." John 5. 45. And he denounced against those that reject the gospel ; “ the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge them in the last day.” John 12. 48. The law is the exact transcript of God's sacred will, the natural and immutable rule of righteousness; it is pure, forbids all sin, and enjoins universal holiness; it is spiritual, requires not only a conformity in words and actions, but inward sanctity in mind and heart : for the soul is the principal part of man, entirely open to God's eye, the maker and judge of it. And the most enlightened saints have but an imperfect knowledge of it here. This made holy David, after his meditation upon its purity and perfection, to cry out in an agony, “ who can understand his errors ! cleanse thou me from secret sins.” Psal. 19. This, when opened in its spiritual and comprehensive nature, by a wise and zealous preacher, darts a light into the conscience, and discovers many secret sins, that like so many serpents were still and quiet in the dark; but upon the sudden breaking in of the light, fly upon the sinner, and torment him with their mortal stings. But when the Lawgiver himself shall expound the law in its full extent and perfection, with respect to all the duties it commands, and sins it forbids, how guilty will men appear? how unable to answer one article of a thousand charged upon them?
2. The omniscience of God will give most convincing evidence of all our works: “all things are naked and open to his eyes, with whom we have to do in judgment.” Heb. 4. 13. The psalmist declares the infinite perspicacity of his sight : “ the darkness hides not from thee, but the night shines as the day.” Psal. 139. As his light and transcendent brightness is invisible to us, 1 Tim. 6. 16. so our thickest darkness is visible to him. We cannot see things in the night, because it hinders the reception of the rays, that insinuate into the eyes, and cause sight : but the eyes of our Judge are like a “flame of fire,” Rev. 1. 14. dispelling all darkness. From his throne in heaven, his piercing eye sees through all the concealments of men's sins. « Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, and our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” Psal. 90. 8. He discovered the sacrilege of Achan, the lie of Gehazi, the deceit of Ananias. Saul's dis, obedience in sparing the Amalekites devoted to destruction, I Sam. 15. 21. had the colourable pretence of piety, and, as a sacrifice, was laid on the altar. And David's murder of Uriah was imputed to the chance of war as a sufficient excuse, 2 Sam. 11. 25. But though they might have deceived others, they could not deceive God. He is intimately present with the souls of men, that are unsearchable to the most discerning angels of light, and knows all their most secret designs and desires, the deepest seeds of their actions. He alone has exact scales to “ weigh the spirits of men," all the principles, aims and affections that are inseparable from their works. The pharisees, in whom pride was the first property, and hypocrisy a second nature, could not with all their saintly shows impose on our Saviour; “ for he knew what was in man,” Matt. 23. 14. He discovered their alms to be not the effect of charity but ostentation, Matt. 6. 2. and their specious acts of devotion to be a train to surprise some rich prey, Matt. 23. 14.
And this divine knowledge of men and their actions, is in order to judgment. Thus the wise king declares, “ doth not he that ponders the heart consider it ? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it ? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?" Prov. 24. 12. And God himself testifies, “ I the Lord search the heart, even to give to every man according to his works.” Jer. 17. 10. For this reason he is said to keep a register of men's sins. Thus he speaks of the impure idolatries of the Jews; “ behold, it is written before me," Isa. 65. 6. to signify his exact and actual knowledge, “I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosoms.” And at the day of judgment he will declare his knowledge of their sins before all, and the most secret shall be made evident, as if written in their foreheads in the most plain and legible characters.
And all the goodness of the saints shall then be revealed by the Judge. * Their greatest excellencies are invisible to the eyes of men : the sanctity of their aims and affections, which gives life and value to all the acts of obedience; their secret duties, wherein the sincerity and ardency of their souls is most expres
* O si nobis aniinam boni viri liceret inspicere, quam pulchram faciem, quam sanctam, quam ex maguifico, placidoque fulgentem videremus! Senec.