Page images
PDF
EPUB

dead. So also 2 Tim. iv. 1. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. And accordingly we are told, that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, Rom. xiv. 10. and all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. v. 10. And to the same purpose our Saviour himself tells us, that the Father judgeth no man, that is, immediately, but hath given all judgment to his Son ; and afterward he gives the reason of it, because he is the Son of man, John v. 22, 27. that is, because he dutifully complied with his Father's will, in cheerfully condescending to clothe himself in human nature, and therein to offer up himself a willing victim for the sins of the world : for so Rev, v. 9. 12. Worthy is he alone to receive the book, (of judgment,) and to open the seals thereof; because he was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by his blood. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power and honour, the glory and blessing appendant to his high office of judging the world. · From all which it abundantly appears, that this great action of judging the world is to be performed by Christ. I proceed therefore to the

Second general head I proposed to treat of, which was to give an account of the signs and forerunners of his coming to judgment. For before he actually appears, he will give the secure world a fearful warning of his coming, by hanging out to its public view a great many horrible signs and spectacles. For thus the prophet Joel, Joel ii. 30, 31. I will shew

[ocr errors]

wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord: which prophecy of his is particularly exemplified by our Saviour; Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, Matth. xxiv. 29, 30. And more particularly, Luke xxi. 11, 25, 27. Great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and

famines, and pestilences ; and fearful, sights and great signs shall there be from heaven: and there shall be signs in the sun,and in the moon, and in the stars ; and upon the earth distress of nations, with great perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring: and then it follows, then shall they see the Son of man coming. It is true, this prophecy of our Saviour immediately respects the destruction of Jerusalem, and was in part accomplished in it; several of these very signs being a little before the calamity of that city actually exhibited to the public view of the world, as both Josephus and Tacitus assure us; and several others of them were exhibited immediately after the tribulation of those days, in that prodigious eruption of the Vesuvius in Campania, the woful effects whereof were felt not only in Rome and Italy, but in a great part of Africa, in Syria, Constantinople, and in all the adjoining countries, vid. Dion Cass. lib. 66. 68. But it is apparent, that our Saviour here prophesies of the judgment of Jerusalem, as it was a type and representation of the general judgment. So that

though his prophecy respects Jerusalem's doom immediately, yet through this it looks forward to the final doom of the world : and therefore, as in foretelling the former he prefigures the latter; so in foretelling the foregoing signs of the former he prefigures the foregoing signs of the latter. And since he here intended the signs of Jerusalem's doom's day only for types and figures of those signs which shall forerun the doom's day of the world, and seeing that types have always less in them than are in the things which they typify and prefigure, there is no doubt but those signs which shall forerun the last judgment, will be much more eminent and illustrious than those of Jerusalem's judgment, which were intended only to typify and prefigure them. And accordingly St. Jerom tells us of an ancient tradition of the Jewish doctors, (to which our Saviour in this prediction seems plainly to refer,) that for fifteen days together, before the general judgment, there shall be transacted upon the stage of nature a continued scene of fearful signs and wonders: the sea shall swell to a prodigious height, and make a fearful noise with its tumbling waves ; the heavens shall crack day and night with loud and roaring thunders; the earth shall groan under hideous convulsions, and be shaken with quotidian earthquakes; the moon shall shed forth purple streams of discoloured light; the sun shall be clothed in a dismal darkness; and the stars shall shrink in their light, and twinkle like expiring candles in the socket; the air shall blaze with portentous comets, and the whole frame of nature, like a funeral room, shall be all hung round with mourning and with ensigns of horror: and when these fatal symptoms appear upon the face of the universe, then shall the inhabitants of the earth mourn, and the sinners in Sion shall be horribly afraid, being loudly forewarned by these astonishing portents of the near approach of their everlasting doom. Having thus briefly shewn what shall be the signs of our Saviour's coming to judgment, I shall proceed to

III. The third general, which was to shew the manner and circumstances of his coming. And here we will first consider the place from whence he is to come: secondly, the state in which he is to come : thirdly, the carriage on which he is to come : fourthly, the equipage with which he is to come: fifthly, the place to which he is to come.

1. The place from which he is to come, which is no other than the highest heavens, where he now lives and reigns in his exalted and glorified humanity; for him must the heavens receive till the time of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21. In that bright region of eternal day, that kingdom of angels and of spirits of just men made perfect, he is to reign in person till the last and terrible day, and from thence he is to begin his circuit, when he comes to keep his general assizes upon earth; for he is to be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2 Thess. i. 7. and to descend from heaven with a shout, 1 Thess. iv. 16. So that in the close of those dreadful alarms which he will give the world by the preceding signs of his coming, he will arise from his imperial seat at his Father's right hand, and descend in person from those high habitations of inaccessible light, and every eye shall see him as he comes shooting like a star from his orb, and the sight of him shall affect the whole world with un

speakable joy or consternation. The righteous, when they see him, shall lift up their heads and rejoice, because they know he is their friend, and brings the day of their redemption with him; they shall congratulate his arrival, and welcome him from heaven with songs of triumph and deliverance. But as for the wicked, they shall shriek and lament at the sight of him, as being conscious to themselves that by a thousand provocations they have rendered him their implacable enemy; the sense of which will cause them to exclaim in the bitter agonies of their souls; “ O yonder comes he whose mercies we have spurn“ ed, whose authority we have despised, whose laws

we have trampled on, and all the methods of whose “ love we have utterly baffled and defeated; and “ now, forlorn and miserable that we are, how shall “ we abide his appearance, or whither shall we flee “ from his presence? O that some rock would fall

upon us, or that some mountain would be so piti“ ful as to swallow us up, and bury us from his

sight for ever. But, woe are we! within these “ few moments the rocks and mountains will be gone,

the heavens and earth will melt away, and nothing will be left besides ourselves for his fiery

indignation to prey on.” Thus shall the sight of the Son of man, descending from his throne in the heavens to judge the world, inspire his friends with unspeakable joy, and strike his enemies with terror and confusion.

2. We will consider the state in which he is to come, which shall be far different from that in which he came sixteen hundred years ago. Then he came in an humble and despicable condition, clouded with poverty and grief, and oppressed with all the inno

66

« PreviousContinue »