Page images

amazement to see themselves all on a sudden encompassed on every side with flames, will raise a hideous roar and outcry; millions of burning men and women shrieking together; and their noise shall mingle with the archangel's trumpet, with the thunders of the dying and groaning heaven, and the crack of the dissolving world, that is sinking into eternal ruins. In which miserable state of things, whither can the poor creatures fly, or where can they hope to find a sanctuary? If they go up to the tops of the mountains, there they are but more openly exposed to the dreadful lightnings of heaven; if they go down into the holes and caverns of the rocks, there they will be swallowed up in the burning furnaces of the earth; if they descend into the deep, there they will be soon overtaken with a storm of fire and brimstone; and wherever they go, the vengeance of God will still pursue them with its everlasting burnings. “And thus having no retreat left them, no avenue to escape out of this burning world, here they must remain for ever surrounded with smoke, and fire, and darkness, and wrapped in fierce and merciless flames, which, like a shirt of burning pitch, will stick close to, and pierce through and through their passive bodies, and for ever prey upon, but never consume them.

And now the almighty Judge having seen his dread sentence executed, will arise from his throne, and from thence return to the seat of the blessed, in a solemn and glorious triumph, with all his holy myriads of angels and saints, who, as they follow him through the air and ether, will, with loud hosannahs and triumphant acclamations, celebrate the praises of their Redeemer. Thus shall the ransomed of the Lord return with him with songs to the heavenly Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, and everlasting praises in their mouths. For being arrived into those blissful regions, there, in those glorified bodies which they put on at their resurrection, they shall live for ever in unspeakable pleasures and delights, and be entertained, not only with all that happiness which they enjoyed in the state of their separation, when they were only blessed spirits, but also with all the satisfaction and delights that their glorified bodies can require and enjoy. So that now their blessedness shall be consummate, and all the capacities of their human nature, compounded of body and soul, shall be fulfilled with bliss, till they overflow, and can contain no more. But wherein the happiness of their glorified bodies shall consist, I shall not presume to inquire, the scripture being silent concerning it. And what the happiness of their souls shall be hath been shewn at large before, vol. i. part 1. chap. 3, 4. So that as to that state of eternal life, in which our Saviour shall place his faithful servants in the conclusion of this great judgment, I need say no more of it in this place.


Concerning the conclusion and surrender of the kingdom of Christ. WHEN our Saviour hath finished that last and most glorious act of royalty, viz. judging the world, and hath finally condemned to everlasting fire the irreclaimable enemies of God, and crowned all his faithful subjects with eternal glory and beatitude, the apostle tells us, he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, 1 Cor. xv. 24. For our better understanding of which we are to consider that the kingdom of Christ is twofold: first, essential, as he is God essential, and doth subsist in the divine essence; by the supereminent perfections of which he being exalted above all things, hath an essential right of dominion over all things; and this is coeternal with himself, and is as inseparable to him as his being; this he can no more deliver up than he can his godhead, which, without ceasing to be, can never cease to be supreme over all things. But then, in the second place, there is his mediatorial kingdom, which is that of which we have hitherto been treating; and this, as hath been shewn before, was by solemn compact and agreement conferred upon him by the Father, upon condition that he should assume our nature, and therein make expiation for our sins; in consideration whereof the Father obliged himself to grant a covenant of grace to the sinful world, and to constitute him the mediator of it; by which mediatorial office he is authorized to rule for God according to the tenor of that gracious covenant, as well as to intercede for us; and in ruling for God according to that covenant, he is to crown and reward all such as return to and persevere in their duty with everlasting happiness, and to render eternal vengeance to all such as obstinately persist in their rebellion. So that when this is done, (as it will be in the conclusion of the day of judgment,) the whole business of his mediatorial kingdom is at an end; then the covenant, of which he is now mediator, will be completely executed, and consequently his mediation will cease, as being of no farther use, and having no farther part to act. For now God and man being made completely one, the office of a mediator ceases of its own accord; for a mediator is not a mediator of one, Gal. iii. 20. and therefore the two parties being perfectly united, there is no farther use of a mediator between them. Wherefore as our beatific vision will supersede the necessity of his prophetic office to teach and instruct us, as our perfection and entire fruition will supersede the necessity of his priestly office to offer and intercede for us, so the security of our possession of both will supersede the necessity of his kingly office to protect and defend us; and therefore, when our affairs are once reduced to this happy issue, his kingly office, as well as all other parts of his mediatorship, will for ever cease. But since this great mystery is nowhere expressly delivered in scripture, but only in that fore-cited 1 Cor. xv. I shall endeavour to give a brief account of the whole passage, which lies in ver. 24-28. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and all power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him which did put all things under him, that God may be all in all. The whole sense and meaning of which passage

I shall cast into these propositions :

First, That the kingdom or dominion here spoken of was committed to him by God the Father.

Secondly, That he is to possess this kingdom and dominion so long and no longer, as till all things are actually subdued to him.

Thirdly, That during his possession of it he is subject to the Father.

Fourthly, That after his delivering it up to the Father, he will be otherwise subject to him than he

is now.

Fifthly, That he being thus subjected to the Father, all power and dominion shall from thenceforth be immediately exercised by the Deity.

I. That the kingdom or dominion here spoken of was committed to him by God the Father; and this is expressly affirmed, ver. 27. For he (i. e. the Father) hath put all things under his feet; which words are a quotation of Psalm viïi. 6. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: which words are to be understood literally of the first Adam, but mystically of the second; as is evident not only because it is here applied to Christ by St. Paul, but also by the author to the Hebrews, Heb. ii. 7, 8. where he expressly tells us, that it was God the Father that crowned Christ with glory and honour, and that did set him over the works of his hands, and put all things in subjection under his feet; and accordingly our Saviour himself declares, that all power in heaven and earth was given him, i. e. by the Father, and that it was the Father that committed all judgment to him; and the apostle expressly tells us, that it was God that exalted him with his own right hand to be a Prince

« PreviousContinue »