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and signifies the Lord will come. The enemies of Christ, and all who despise him, are much inclined to put the evil day far away; but the Lord will come. Though they should always escape till that period, they shall escape no longer, and dreadful vengeance will overtake them.
The coming of the Lord is absolutely certain. While that event is frequently asserted in the Old and New Testament, it is worthy of notice that both are finished with an express assurance that he will come. Emphatically does Malachi speak of it: * For behold, the day cometh—the great and dreadful day of the Lord, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up.” And Christ himself, the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, concludes his testimony to the Church in these words: “ Surely I come quickly, Amen." The doctrine of Christ's second coming was early taught in the Church, for “ Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all that are ungodly,” &c.; and it will be continued to be taught till he actually come.
When the Lord comes he has a twofold work to accomplish, both parts of which are expressed. Isai. Xxxv, 4, “ Your God will come with vengeance against all his enemies; and he will come and save you.” Indeed, it is a very important branch of his work, to have “ these his enemies, who would not that he should reign over them, brought forth and slain before him ;” and none of them shall escape,
for « his hand shall find out all his enemies; and his right hand shall find out those that hate him. He shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of his anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them."
Then the Lord will call his enemies to an account, and reckon with them. All their privileges and opportunities, every invitation and offer of Christ, will be called over before them. They will be put in mind how frequently he urged them by his servants, and strove with them by his Spirit. The arguments, urging them to believe, from their danger if they did not, and their happiness if they did, will be clearly set before them. Their contempt and making light of the Gospel; their misimprovement and neglect of every privilege; and their heart-hatred of Christ, and his great salvation, will be fully disclosed. Conscience will be instead of a thousand witnesses, and will anticipate, and justify the sentence. All excuses will be in vain, and condign punishment will be inflicted!
Then, in sad experience, will they understand such Scriptures as these, which they often heard before, and as often despised : “ And that servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Luke xii. 47, 48. “ Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But
I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you," Matt. xi. 21, 22.
A most pitiful thought it would be, should it occur to any, that if the reckoning be only when the Lord comes; it is a long time to his second coming. “A thousand years are with the Lord as one day, and one day as a thousand years;" and he hastens his coming. It must be remembered, however, that while he will reckon with every enemy then before an assembled world, he comes at death, and reckons with every individual, and settles the business unalterably : for as the tree falls so it must lie. The rich man died, was instantly reckoned with, and in hell he lifted up
eyes. 4. That the punishment at Christ's coming will be exactly according to his word. The Lord warns his enemies now, that when he comes they shall be accursed; and when he actually comes, their punishment will be no more, no less, and no other than Anathema. A wise and righteous lawgiver never threatens one punishment and inflicts another; and far less will the Judge of all the earth. He threatens nothing less than hell and the curse; and nothing more will be inflicted. Sinners may lay their account with the curses which he has denounced in his word; and a supposition that these will be lessened, or altered, can only proceed from unbelief and Satan. The canon of Scripture is concluded with a declaration of the greatest severity against the man who would attempt, either to take from, or add to the plagues written in his word-expressive that such conduct is highly
criminal; and to imagine that God himself could be capable of it, is blasphemy. This declaration we have, Rev. xxii. 18, 19: “ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” These verses express on the one hand, the perfection and sufficiency of the sacred volume for pointing out the remedy, and warning every man of the danger of neglecting it; and on the other, the great zeal of God that it be not corrupted by the traditions and inventions of men. When God inflicts partial judgments or chastisements upon a professing people, he commonly, warns them; and they find them exactly according to his threatening. His declaration in Hosea. vii. 12, will be found to be, in general, the pattern of his dispensations : “I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard.” If these partial strokes exactly agree to his word, his great procedure at the last day will equally correspond to that rule. In the firm persuasion of which Paul said, Rom. ii. 16, “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Many express a strong desire to know futurity, and especially the transactions of the great day, and eternity. If they are in earnest, they should search the Scriptures. “They bave Moses and the prophets, let them hear them ; and if they will not hear them, neither will they be
persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Though sinners hate, and pretend to disbelieve, the Lord's word, their consciences are secretly convinced of the truth and propriety of it: of this they give full proof when death stares them in the face. Then conscience speaking with authority, and acting in concert with the word, begins to pronounce the sentence, and even partly to execute it. Conscience tells them they have not loved Christ; then, self-condemned and taking with the charge, they conclude, I must be Anathema, Maran-atha.
5. This phrase strongly implies the eternity of that punishment which is denounced against, and will be actually inflicted upon, all who love not the Lord Jesus Christ. If they are accursed when the Lord comes at death or judgment, there never will be the least alteration to eternity. The day of grace may sometimes be over in this life; but never extends beyond it. The period in which God strives either by means, or his Spirit, is limited to this world. As he does not always strive here, he never strives hereafter. Many have objected against the eternity of punishment. The truth and propriety of this might be well enough argued from the nature and demerit of sin, and the inability of the sinner to make any satisfaction for his past offences, or stem the torrent of corruption. Such as love not the Lord Jesus here, can never love hereafter. Enmity reigns in their hearts ; and though they were to rise from the dead, they would still be his enemies. Under the weight of the curse contained in the term ANATHEMA; “ they go away into everlasting punishment.” According to the meaning of