صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

our Lord's description: the most prominent distinguishing feature of believers and unbelievers was selected; and thus an intimation was given of the rule of judgment, sufficiently clear to the humble student of scripture, though others may mistake or pervert it. In this view of it the whole is obvious, and coincides with other testimonies of the sacred writers. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the "brethren."1 66 Seeing ye have purified your "hearts through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


of the brethren, see that ye love one another "with a pure heart fervently; being born again— 'by the word of God."2 "If a brother or sister "be naked, or destitute of daily food, and one of you say, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and "filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body, what doth "it profit?" "My little children, let us not love " in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in "truth: and hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him.”3 So that love of the brethren, shewn in active kindness, is uniformly required as evidence of our faith in Christ and love to his name.


These reflections elucidate the following scriptures also, and are confirmed by them. "Know, "O vain man, that faith without works is dead." "The grace of God that bringeth salvation-teach"eth us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly "lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and

I 1 John iii, 14.

21 Pet. i. 22, 23.

3 James ii. 15, 16. 1. John iii. 18, 19.

[ocr errors]



godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who

gave himself for us, that he might redeem us "from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a "peculiar people, zealous of good works."

One most solemn and affecting passage still remains to be considered: "The Lord Jesus shall "be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking


vengeance on them that know not God, and "that 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, when he shall come "to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in "all them that believe."2 We are here expressly informed, that at the day of judgment all will be condemned, who have not known God, and obeyed the gospel: but how many persons of moral character and external respectability will be found in that company! No exceptions, however, are intimated the saints, even those that believe, will alone stand accepted by the Judge: and all else will be "punished with everlasting destruction "from his presence."

I shall conclude this part of the subject with the words which Christ spake to his servant John: "Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with

me, to give every man according as his work "shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the begin"ning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed "are they that do his commandments, that they

'Tit. ii. 11-14.

2 Thess. i. 5—12.

66 may have right to the tree of life, and may "enter in though the gates into the city."


to whom does the title and privilege of the tree of life belong? Surely to the true believer, who loves Christ, and keeps his commandments. "Ye "are my friends," says he, "if ye do whatsoever I "command you."

This view of the subject harmonizes the whole scripture, and reconciles those parts which seem to be contrary to each other: but, when this centre of union is overlooked, men either " go about "to establish their own righteousness," or run into antinomianism. These two extremes are the Scylla and Charibdis, the fatal rock or dreadful whirlpool, of our perilous voyage. I have therefore endeavoured to mark out the safe passage between them; and may the Holy Spirit guide us at a distance from these, and all other dangers, on the right hand and on the left!-We proceed then,

III. To state more explicitly, and shew more precisely, the rules of judgment, as delivered in the sacred oracles.

It is most evident, that the scripture was intended principally for those who bestow pains to understand it: and this obvious reflection illustrates the propriety of the descriptions there given of the great decisive day; for they certainly relate almost exclusively to those who profess the religion of the Bible. We cannot therefore infer any thing from these descriptions concerning those who have not been favoured with revelation, or have rejected it though other scriptures give some

Rev. xxii. 12-14.

light on the subject. The holy law is the unalterable rule of right and wrong, in respect of all men however distinguished: nor is it possible, that God should judge of characters and actions by any other rule; for the law is the exact reflection of his infinite holiness, and he "cannot deny him"self." He can, however, pardon the guilty, and make allowance for unavoidable disadvantages. They who know not the will of God and do it "not shall be beaten with few stripes: but they "who know and refuse to do his will shall be "beaten with many stripes." It will be "more "tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah," than for those who heard the doctrines and saw the miracles of Christ, and did not repent and believe the gospel.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The apostle therefore adds a few verses after the text, "As many as have sinned without law "shall also perish without law." They have indeed violated the perfect rule of duty: but, as they had not the advantage of the written word, they will not be liable to so heavy a condemnation, as wicked Jews and Christians: yet, as they acted against the dictates of their own reason and conscience, those remains of the law originally "written in the heart," they " will perish without "law." For, "being a law to themselves," their consciences may indeed excuse some parts of their conduct, but they must condemn others; especially "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of 66 men by Jesus Christ :" so that " every mouth "will be stopped, and all the world become guilty

Luke xii. 47, 48.

"before God." All, except idiots, (who scarcely can be thought accountable creatures,) know far better than they practise, and might know much more, were not their hearts set against the truth through love of sin. All men must therefore be condemned according to this rule; and the number, and aggravation of their crimes, compared with the measure of their advantages, is the standard by which their punishment will be ascertained, by the infinitely righteous Judge.

What the Lord may do in mercy to any of his sinful creatures, it does not become us to inquire beyond what he hath seen good to reveal: but we have no ground to suppose that any who die without spiritual religion can be happy in another world and neither scripture nor history coùntenance the opinion, that the Lord gives his sanctifying Spirit where he has not sent some measure of the light of revelation. We are sure however, that the state of the pagans will be far better than that of wicked Christians, so called. While we therefore rejoice in our privileges, we may tremble lest they should increase our condemnation: and the state of the nations, who still sit in darkness " and the shadow of death," should animate our endeavours, and excite our prayers for their conversion.

The apostle adds, " as many as have sinned un"der the law, shall be judged by the law." The Jews rejected the gospel, and sought justification by the works of the law." Deists discard revelation, and rely on their own moral conduct to recommend

1 Rom. iii. 19.

« السابقةمتابعة »