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one instance, for the relation of friendship between God and man; ALL HIS LOVE TO THEM BEING MERE MERCY THROUGH CHRIST, AND ALL THEIR LOVE TO HIM NO MORE THAN THE DEBT OF GRATITUDE. “ For (as the apostle says) there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. iii. 22, 23.)
So God's mercy to mankind will suppose judgment, as much as mercy between man and man. For in this case mercy is often overweeping, and sometimes very capricious, as well as judgment; but not so with God: his mercy is as regular as his justice. If his will be absolute, it is never unreasonable. “The works of his hands are verity and judgment : all his commandments are true. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and equity.” (Ps. cxi. 7, 8.) For want of these accompaniments the judgments of men are no more good sometimes to the many, than their mercies to the few ; injuring the one by impunity, as the other by indulgence: but not so with God. As God alone is the last resort for mercy, so he is its only infallible dispenser; and as he never dispenses mercy without judgment, so neither will he judgment without mercy, except in one case that we read of. “For he shall have judgment without mercy that shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment." (Jam. ii. 13.)
Comparing these two, therefore, in different ways, it will be hard to say of them, which may stand first as a foundation to the other; judgment to mercy, or mercy to judgment. As for example, if God's mercy to mankind was the foundation of a particular judgment,—that of one tasting death for every man, (Heb. ii. 9,) such judgment ought to be regarded as the foundation of all his mercies. For if the sentence of one guilty person be a present benefit to the community, how much more the sentence of an, innocent, by which they are discharged from future penalties !-as St. Paul reasons very justly ; where he says, " There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh did; and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” (Rom. viii. 1-4.)
It appears, that neither judgment nor mercy could exist before its object, as love might: but love, which is older than either, must have laid the foundation of both, in making those who made themselves objects for them, and them for each other. And as objects of judgment appeared first among the productions of divine love, in a separate consideration of the two which I now propose to take, judg. ment will deserve a precedence.
§ 1. But it may be already anticipated, that we shall not find this view of divine judgment like the ordinary examples to which we are accustomed. For (as the subject says himself) my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isai. lv. 8.) “ His judgments are like the great deep;” (Ps. xxxvi. 6;) being, among other peculiarities, of which some have been alluded to, distinguished by one pre-eminently, that before observed, of extending to a future state, which no human judgment can affect. And hereupon is formed a distinci tion of the same into 1, present; and 2, future : considering which successively,
1. The judgments of the present period may be distinguished again into inward and outward, or secret and apparent, by the sphere in which they occur.
In the spiritual department of the kingdom of which the accidents are now preaching, or in the way of being preached, it will be necessary to understand of course a regular tribunal of the same kind with the department, that is, spiritual; and it may be understood, in a “ Court of conscience;” not
meaning an outward and visible court, like the old fashioned rendezvous that used to be held within stone walls ostensibly enough, but an invisible court that is only held within those of flesh and bone. And here is found a remedy for the defects inseparable from earthly courts, in which jus. tice being eluded continually must be apprehended elsewhere: where the injured sufferer meets his oppressor with a bill of indictment, to be tried in a higher court hereafter at the general assize before the most injured of mankind, and a jury of his own martyrs.-- Glorious idea! That a poor man and an innocent sufferer should be endowed with the privilege of trying every great and prosperous villain that has been ; and that they who have followed him in suffering and persecution should then become his partners in the work of retribution both upon men and angels : as our Saviour tells his apostles, and others similarly with them, “ Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me in the regeneration, (his Kingdom, the regenerating medium upon earth,) when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or mothers, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. xix. 28, 29.)
In the mean time there will always be found samples enough of this inward and spiritual kind of judgment for a token of what may be : when the infliction from God alights, not, as usual, on a man's person or circumstances, gliding therefrom towards the citadel of the heart, but falls on that at once, and on the head likewise perhaps soon after; being altogether on the man himself; yes, on bis own evil self: as Moses threatened the Israelites in case of disobedience to the divine authority, “ The Lord shall smite thee with madness and blindness, and astonishment of heart;" (Deut. xxviii. 29 ;) and as St. Paul demonstrated by a reference to examples well known in his time, “ Because that when they knew God they glo
rified him not as God; neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND.” (Rom. i. 21, 28.) Dreadful are his judgments when they fall upon the head and upon the heart in the way of reprobation! as the prophet says, “Behold a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind : it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked;" (Jer. xxii. 19;) and as Job says, “ He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way. They grope
They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.” (Job xü. 24, 25.) For this appalling discipline he may continue and aggravate to an inconceivable degree in every department of a rebellious subject or state : not in the material only, with wasting and burning and overturning; but in the spiritual and intellectual likewise, with a dreadful depravation of the subject and eventual ruin in eitherthere shivering and horror to a degree, here madness and despair unlimited; till “ the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint." (Isai. i. 5.)
Only an indifference to God's name, his authority and ordinance is a strong symptom of spiritual sickness, as David observes, “Health is far from the ungodly, for they regard not thy statutes.” (Ps. cxix. 155.) And besides that there are many other tests of spiritual health and prosperity as well as corporeal, frequently indicating at the same time the divine approbation, or more frequentlyreprobation of the subject. Thus, for example, a sickly or unhealthy state of the soul is first detected by an indifference to God and his statutes, as before observed; and next, not only the symptoms of disease are confirmed, but its cause is also determined to lie in the divine reprobation, by irregular propensities in the heart, as well as a more decided turn for atheism in the imagination : diag
nostics of the soul as clear as any which the body can present in sickly circumstances. Such, I say, is the most frequent, but not invariable course of a dangerous malady affecting the soul. For sometimes the riches of God's mercy are displayed in that case, as in a dangerous bodily disease, by what may be called a crisis: when the evil spirit shall have ceased, or, as we say, worn out his welcome;" a disordered conscience growing to the full, and “sin, that it might appear sin, working death (to itself, I should hope) by that which is good” (Rom. vii. 13) --a merciful judgment for the sufferer! the same being (like his heavenly Deliverer) "put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (Pet. I. iii. 18.) For that most Righteous Example himself could not have suffered here as he did, if he had not been previously charged or loaded with the sins of others, as well as with their guilty flesh: when God was pleased to hide his divine perfection in human imperfection for a necessary atonement-sending, or coming, in the person of the only Son for this purpose, as before cited.
Every one must perceive comfort for himself in this divine immunity of righteousness, if he can flatter himself with the enjoyment of a righteous origin,---or, which is the same, of a blessed assumption by our Saviour Christ; “ If (as St. Paul expresses it) that I may apprehend that, for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. iii. 12.) Then indeed should “mercy rejoice against judgment,” and one might take pleasure in the chastisement of one's hostile or evil part, as St. Paul did, (Cor. II. xii. 10,) from one's regard to one's good, which is Christ. “For though he was crucified through weakness; yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him: but we shall live with him by the power of God.” (Ib. xiii. 4.) But when a man has no relation to that righteous principle or beginning ;--"intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all