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neither do I condemn thee;" (John viii. 11;) He will say to us, more faithfully than Peter to him, “Though all men deny thee, or condemn thee, I will not.” (Mark xiv. 31.) “Thou hast confessed me before men, and I will confess thee before my Father, and the angels of heaven.” (Matt. x. 32.) He, whose first coming was not "to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved ;” (John iii, 17;) I am šure, intends not his second coming to condemn his people, but that they, through him, might be saved. He hath given us eternal life in charter and title already, yea, and partly in possession; and will he after that condemn us? When he gave us the knowledge of his Father and himself, he gave us eternal life; and he hath verily told us, “ that he that heareth his word, and believeth on him that sent him, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.” (John v. 24, and xvii. 8.) Indeed, if our Judge were our enemy, as he is to the world, then we might well fear. If the devil were our judge, or the ungodly were our judge, then we should be condemned as hypocrites, as heretics, as schismatics, as proud, or covetous, or what not? But our Judge is Christ, who died; yea, rather, who is risen again, and maketh request for us : for, “ all power is given him in heaven and in earth, and all things delivered into his hands; and the Father hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man."i For, though God judge the world, yet the Father, immediately, without his Vicegerent, Christ, judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. Oh what inexpressible joy may this afford to a believer, that our dear Lord, who loveth our souls, and whom our souls love, shall be our Judge ! Will a man fear to be judged by his dearest friend, by a brother, by a father, or a wife by her own husband? Christian, did he come down, and suffer, and weep, and bleed, and die for thee, and will he now condemn thee; was he judged, and condemned, and executed in thy stead, and now will he condemn thee himself ; did he make a bath of his blood for thy sins, and a garment of his own righteousness for thy nakedness, and will he now open them to thy shame; is he the
i Rom. viii. 34, 35; Matt. xxviii. 18; John xiii. 3; John ix. 22, 23, 27. That Christ's judging power according to his human nature, is not the principal, primitive, supreme; but only the supreme delegate derived power, is certain ; sicut Scotus, in l. iv, Sent. Dist. 48. qu. i, p. 256. (mihi.)
undertaker for thy salvation, and will he be against thee; hath it cost him so dear to save thee, and will he now himself destroy thee; hath he done the most of the work already, in redeeming, regenerating, and sanctifying, justifying, preserving, and perfecting thee, and will he now undo all again: nay, hath he begun, and will he not finish; hath he interceded so long for thee to the Father, and will he cast thee away himself? If all these be likely, then fear, and then rejoice not. Oh what an unreasonable sin is unbelief, that will charge our Lord with such unmercifulness and absurdities ! Well, then, fellow-Christians, let the terror of that day be ever so great, surely our Lord can mean no ill to us in all : let it make the devils tremble, and the wicked tremble; but it shall make us to leap for joy: let Satan accuse us, we have our answer at hand; our surety hath discharged the debt. If he have not fulfilled the law, then let us be charged as breakers of it: if he have not suffered, then let us suffer ; but if he have, we are free : nay, our Lord will make answer for us himself. “These are mine, and shall be made up with my jewels : for their transgressions was I stricken, and cut off from the earth; for them was I bruised and put to grief: my soul was made an offering for their sin, and I bore their transgressions. They are my seed, and the travail of my soul : I have healed them by my stripes ; I have justified them by my knowledge.” (Isa. liii. 5, 8; 10, 11.) “ They are my sheep : who shall take them out of my hands ?” (John X. 28.) Yea, though the humble soul be ready to speak against itself, “ Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee,” &c., yet will not Christ do so. This is the day of the believer's full justification. They were, before, made just, and esteemed just, and by faith justified in law; and this, to some, evidenced to their consciences. But now they shall both, by apology, be maintained just; and, by sentence, pronounced just actually, by the lively voice of the Judge himself; k which is the most perfect justification. Their justification by faith, is a giving them title in law, to that apology and absolving sentence which at that day they shall actually receive from the mouth of Christ ; by which sentence, their sin, which before was pardoned in the sense of the law, is now perfectly pardoned, or blotted out by this ultimate judgment. (Acts iii. 19.) Therefore, well may it be called the time of re- , freshing, as being to the saints, the perfecting of all their former refreshments. He who was vexed with a quarrelling conscience, an accusing world, a cursing law, is solemnly pronounced righteous by the Lord, the Judge. Though he cannot plead Not guilty, in regard of fact, yet, being pardoned, he shall be acquitted by the proclamation of Christ : and that is not all; but he that was accused as deserving hell, is pronounced a member of Christ, a son of God, and so adjudged to eternal glory. The sentence of pardon, passed by the Spirit and conscience within us, was wont to be exceeding sweet; but this will fully and finally resolve the question, and leave no room for doubting again for ever. We shall more rejoice that our names are found written in the book of life, than if men or devils were subjected to us ; and it must needs affect uso deeply with the sense of our mercy and happiness, to behold the contrary condition of others; to see most of the world tremble with terror, while we triumph with joy; to hear them doomed to everlasting flames, and see them thrust into hell, when we are proclaimed heirs of the kingdom; to see our neighbours, that lived in the same towns, came to the same congregations, sat in the same seats, dwelt in the same houses, and were esteemed more honourable in the world than ourselves; to see them now so differenced from us, and by the Searcher of hearts, eternally separated. Thus, with the great magnificence and dreadfulness of the day, doth the apostle pathetically express : “It is righteous with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you ; and to you who are troubled, rest with us; when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” &c. (2 Thess. 1, 6–10.) And, now, is not here enough to make that day a welcome day, and the thoughts of it delightful to us? but yet there is more. We shall be so far from the dread of that judgment, that ourselves shall become the judges. Christ will take his people, as it were, into commission
* Observ. That a complete and full absolution from all sin, is not enjoyed till the day of judgment. Mr. A. Burgess, ofJustification,' lect. xxix. p. 258. The Scripture, not only in this privilege of remission of sin, but in others also, makes the complement and fulness of them to be at the day of judgment: Eph. i. 7, and iv. 30; Rom. viii. 23 ; 1 John iii. 2; Matt. xix. 23. Mr. A. Burgess ubi supr.
I The sins before faith are forgiven ; not so as that they are not committed, but so as if they had not been cominitted.-Clem. Alexand. Stromat. 1. iv.
with him; and they shall sit and approve his righteous judgment. Oh fear not now the reproaches, scorns, and censures, of those that must then be judged by us: did you think, O wretched worldlings, that those poor, despised men, whom you made your daily derision, should be your judges; did you believe this, when you made them stand as offenders before the bar of your judgment? No more than Pilate, when he was judging Christ, did believe that he was condemning his Judge; or the Jews, when they were whipping, imprisoning, killing the apostles, did think to see them sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. “Do you not know,” saith Paul, “ that the saints shall judge the world : nay, know you not that we shall judge angels ?” (1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.) Surely, were it not the word of Christ that speaks it, this advancement would seem incredible, and the language arrogant; yet even Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of this, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh 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 of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14.) Thus shall the saints be honoured, and the “ righteous have dominion in the morning.” (Psal. ix. 14.) O, that the careless world were “but wise to consider this, and that they would remember their latter end ! ” (Deut. xxxii. 29.) That they would be now of the same mind as they will be when they shall see the “heavens pass away with a noise, and the elea ments melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, to be burnt up.” (2 Pet. iii. 10.) When all shall be on fire about their ears, and all earthly glory consumed; “for the heavens, and the earth, which are now, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Pet. iii. 7.) But, alas ! when all is said, “ the wicked will do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. xii, 10.) Rejoice, therefore, O ye saints, yet watch; and what you have, hold fast till your Lord come; (Rev. ii. 25;) and study that use of this doctrine which the apostle propounds. “Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness : looking for and hasting to the coming of the day of God; wherein the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements melt with fervent heat.” (2 Pet. iii, 11, 12.) But go your way, keep close with God, and wait till your change come, and till this end be; “ for you shall rest, and stand in the lot at the end of the days.” (Dan. xii. 13.)
The fourth antecedent, and highest step to the saints' advancement, is their solemn coronation, enthronizing, and receiving into the kingdom. For, as Christ, their Head, is anointed both King and Priest, so under him are his people made unto God both kings and priests; (Rev. i. 5 ;) (for prophecy, that ceaseth) “to reign and to offer praises for ever.” (Rev, v. 10.) * The crown of righteousness, which was laid up for them, shall by the Lord the righteous Judge be given them at that day.” (2 Tim. iv. 8.) “They have been faithful to the death, and therefore shall receive the crown of life.” (Rev. ii. 10.) And according to the improvement of their talents here, so shall their rule and dignity be enlarged, (Matt. xxv. 21, 23,) so that they are not dignified with empty titles, but real doininions : for Christ " will take them and set them down with himself on his own throne; (Rev. iii. 21 ;) and will give them power over the nations, even as he received of his Father ; (Rev. ii. 26-28;) and will give them the morning star. The Lord himself will give them possession with these applauding expressions : “ Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. xxv. 21, 23.) And with this solemn and blessed proclamation shall he enthrone them: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Every word full of life and joy. “Come;" this is the holding forth of the golden sceptrę, to warrant our approach unto this glory. Come now as near as you will : fear not the Bethshemite's judgment, for the enmity is utterly taken away. This is not such a “come” as we were wont to hear. “Come, take up your cross and follow me :" though that was sweet, yet this much more. “ Ye blessed;" blessed indeed, when that mouth shall so pronounce us. For though the world hath accounted us accursed, and we have been ready to account ourselves so, yet certainly, those that he blesseth are blessed, and those whom he curseth, only are cursed; and his blessing shall not be revoked: but he hath blessed us, and we shall be blessed. “Of my Father;" blessed in the Father's love as well as the Son's, for they are one. The Father hath testified his love in their election, donation to Christ, sending of Christ, accepting his ransom, &c., as