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have been natural to conclude thus much from the faint records of tradition, or from the weak exertions of unassisted human reason.
Whether that reason would of itself have been able to discover this great truth, it is not necessary for us to enquire; for we are no longer left to such feeble guides, but are assured of the certainty of a last judgment by the constant tenor and clear revelation of the holy Scriptures. They assure us, that “God hath appointed “ a day in which he will judge the world “ in righteousness b;" when he “ will bring
every work into judgment and every " secret thing, whether it be good or whe“ther it be evil.” They tell us, that a day is coming, “ when the dead, small and
great, shall stand before Godd;" when “ the sea shall give up the dead that were “ in it, and death and hell” (the place of departed spirits) “ shall deliver up the “ dead that were in them, and they shall “ be judged every man according to his “works.” They tell us, that " we must " all appear before the judgment-seat of
Acts xvii. 31. e Ecclesiastes xii. 14. & Rev. xx. 12, 13.
Christ, that every one may receive the " things done in the body according to “ that he hath done, whether it be good or 166 bad.” A multitude of other passages assert or allude to the same awful event: and many set forth in most expressive terms some of the tremendous circumstances with which this event will be accompanied. Our Saviour tells us in St. Matthew, that “the Son of Man shall * come in the glory of his father with the
holy angels?;" and in St. Luke, that 46 the Son of Man shall come in his own
glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels 8.” St. Paul 'informs us, that " the Lord Jesus shall be revealed 46 from heaven with his mighty angels in
flaming fire, taking vengeance on them ... that know not God, and that obey not f the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christh.” And again, “ The Lord himself shall 66 descend from heaven with a shout, with “the voice of the archangel and with the
trump of God, which shall awaken the
2 Cor. v. 10. * Matt. xvi. 27. ix. 26. h 2 Thess. i. 7, 8.
dead, and raise them out of their
graves: « but the dead in Christ shall rise first.» And in the book of Revelation, St. John, in the spirit of prophecy, represents himself as having actually seen this awful spectacle. “ And I saw a great white throne, and him « that sat on it, from whose face the earth " and the heavens fled away; and there was “no place found for them. And I saw “ the dead, small and great, stand before
God; and the books were opened; and “another book was opened, which is the s book of life; and the dead were judged “out of those things which were written “in the book, according to their works!.”
The Scriptures, you will recollect, repeatedly tell us, that this event will be accompanied by the destruction of the world, which we now see, and that the instrument, by which this destruction will be accomplished, is fire. We are told, för instance, by St. Peter, that “the heavens “shall pass away with a great noise, and " the elements shall melt with fervent heat; “ the earth also, and the works that are " therein, shall be burned upk.”
1 Thess. iv. 16. Rev. xx. 12. 2 Pet. iii. 10.
My friends, let me here pause while I beg you to refleet, that these are not de scriptions of an event in which we have no concern, and which we máy hear and read of without interest. "We shall all of us be called upon to witness the tremendous scene, You, and I, and all shall actually witness this destruction of the universe; we shall actually see this earth, with all the works of nature, and of art upon it, its cities, its forests, and its mountains, devoured by the flames, and passing away into nothing. And there is not one among us, whatever his state or condition may be, whether small or great, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, wicked or holy, but must appear before this awful tribunal. And yet we can most of us hear of these things, without being affected; or, if we are affected for a time, the impression soon passes away; and our hearts are again given up to this world, as if it were our only portion, our only rest. One reason of this indifference is to be found in our want of reflection upon the nature of the judgment to which we shall then be subjected; upon the strict justice, I had almost said the severity, with
which it will be conducted. Let us proceed therefore, in the next place, to consider what we shall be judged for.
II. We shall be judged, the text tells us, for the things done in the body; for our behaviour during our continuance on earth; for our actions, words, and thoughts, which, as you have heard, are represented as being recorded in the book of God, that at the last day we may be judged out of those things which are written in the book.
We shall be called to account for our actions. Not only will the more daring violations of God's law then be remembered, but also those deeds of darkness, which the hopes of concealment encouraged us to commit, of which we said, no eye shall see us; forgetting that nothing can be concealed from God, “ that all things are naked, and “opened unto the eyes of him, with whom 56 we have to do," and, that the time would come when he would “set our misdeeds “ before him, and our secret sins in the light " of his countenance".” Every unlawful indulgence of appetite, of which we said in our heart the darkness shall cover it;
"Heb. iv. 13.
m Psalm xc. 8.