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Judge shall sit upon the throne, with all the saints round about him; the wicked remaining below upon the earth, to receive their final doom.
These preparatives will make it awful; and much more will the work itself, on which Christ now comes, be awful. It is "to judge the secrets of men," Rom. 2: 16; to sever the tares from the wheat; to present every man in his real character; and according as he shall be found on that trial, to sentence him to his everlasting and immutable state. O what a solemn thing is this!
And no less will the execution of the sentence make it a great and solemn day. The heart of man cannot conceive what impressions the voice of Christ, from the throne, will make, both upon believers and unbelievers.
Imagine Christ upon his glorious throne, surrounded with myriads and legions of angels, his royal guard; a poor unbeliever trembling at the bar; an exact scrutiny made into his heart and life; the dreadful sentence given; and then a cry, while he is delivered over to the executioners of eternal vengeance, never, never to see a glimpse of hope or mercy more.
Imagine Christ, like the general of an army, mentioning with honor, at the head of all the hosts of heaven and earth, the services that the saints have done for him in this world; then justifying them by open proclamation; and then their mounting with him to the third heavens, and entering the gates of the city of God, in the noble train of saints and angels, to be for ever with the Lord. Oh what a great day must this be!
2. As it will be an awful and solemn judgment, so it will be most exact and critical. The name of the Judge is, the "Searcher of hearts." His eyes as a flame of fire, pierce to the dividing of the heart and reins. It is said, Matt. 12: 36, that men shall then give an account of "every idle word that they shall speak." It is a day that will perfectly discriminate the character of every
man. No hypocrite can escape. Justice will hold the balances in an even hand.
3. It will be a universal judgment, "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." 2 Cor. 5: 10. Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God." Rom. 14: 12. Both those that were under the law, and those that, having not the law, were a law unto themselves." Rom. 2: 14. Those that had many talents, and he that had but one talent, must appear at this bar; those that were carried from the cradle to the grave, and he that stooped for age; the rich and poor; the father and the child; the master and servant; the believer and the unbeliever, must appear in that day. "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened." Rev. 20: 12.
4. It will be a convicting judgment. All things will be so clearly presented, that the sentence of Christ, both on saints and sinners, shall be applauded. "Righteous art thou, O Lord, because thou hast judged thus." His judgments will be as the light that goeth forth. So that those poor sinners whom he will condemn, shall be first self-condemned. Their own consciences shall be forced to confess that there is not one drop of injustice in all that sea of wrath into which they are to be cast.
5. It will be a supreme and final judgment, from which lies no appeal. It is the sentence of the highest and only Lord. As the ultimate resolution of faith is into the word and truth of God, so the ultimate resolution of justice is into the judgment of God." This judgment is supreme and imperial. Christ is the only Potentate, 1 Tim. 6:5; the sentence once passed, its execution is infallible. So you find it in the judicial process given us, Matt. 25; when the sentence is pronounced by Christ, it is immediately added, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." This is the judgment of the great day.
III. God, in ordaining Christ to be the Judge, has highly exalted him. Here his royal dignity will be illustrated; now he will appear in his glory.
1. In executing judgment Christ will be glorified in his kingly office, as fully as he has been in his other offices. We find but some few glimpses of his kingly office breaking forth in this world: as, his riding with hosannas into Jerusalem, his driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and his title upon the cross: all these were but faint beams: now that office will shine in its glory, as the sun in the midst of the heavens. For what were the hosannas of little children, in the streets of Jerusalem, to the shouts and acclamations of thousands of angels, and ten thousands of saints? What was his driving the profane out of the temple, to his turning the wicked into hell, and sending his angels to gather out of his kingdom every thing that offendeth? What was a title written by his judge, and fixed on the ignominious tree, to the name that shall now be seen ९९ on his vesture, and on his thigh, King of kings, and Lord of lords?"
2. This will be a display of his glory in the highest, before the whole world. For there will be present at once, and together, all the inhabitants of heaven, and earth, and hell: angels must be there to attend and minister; those glittering courtiers of heaven must attend his person: men and devils must be there to be judged: and before this great assembly will Christ appear in royal majesty. He will "reign before his ancients gloriously." Isa. 24: 23. He will then "come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe." 2 Thess. 1: 10.
3. This will roll away for ever the reproach of his death for Pilate' and the high priest that judged him shall now stand quivering at his bar; with Herod that set him at nought, and the soldiers and officers that traduced and abused him: there they that reviled him on
the cross, wagging their heads, will stand, with trem. bling knees, before his throne. "For every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." Rev. 1: 7.
INFERENCE 1. Is Jesus Christ ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead? Great then is the security of believers that they shall not be condemned in that day. Who shall condemn, when Christ is Judge? If believers are condemned in judgment, Christ must give sentence against them; yea, and they must condemn themselves too. I say, Christ must give sentence, for that is the proper and peculiar office of Christ. And certainly no sentence of condemnation shall in that day be given by Christ against them. He died to save them, and he will never cross and overthrow the designs and ends of his own death. Nay, they have been cleared and absolved already. And being once absolved by Divine sentence, they can never be condemned afterward; for one Divine sentence cannot oppose another. He justified them here in this world by faith; and declared in his word, which shall then be the rule of judgment, Rom. 2:16, that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ." Rom. 8:1. And surely he will not retract his own word, and give a sentence contrary to his own statute-book, out of which he hath told us that they shall be judged.
Moreover, all, except those who then survive on the earth, will have passed their particular judgment long before that day; and being therein acquitted by God the Judge of all, justified, and admitted into heaven, Christ cannot now condemn them with the world.
Nay, he that judgeth them, is their Head, Husband, Friend, and Brother; who loved them, and gave himself for them. Oh then, with what confidence may they go, even unto his throne! and say, with Job, Though he try us as fire, we shall come forth as gold: we know that
we shall be justified. And more than this, they themselves shall be the assessors with Christ in that day. No, it is not the business of that day to condemn them; but to absolve and pronounce them pardoned and justified in that "time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;" Acts, 3: 19; a "time of refreshing" indeed to his people. You that now believe, shall not come into condemnation. John, 5:24. You that now judge your selves, shall not be condemned with the world. 1 Cor. 11:31, 32.
2. If Christ be ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead, how miserable will Christless souls be at that day! They that are Christless now, will be speechless, helpless, and hopeless then. How will their hands hang down, and their knees smite together!" Oh what pale faces, quivering lips, fainting hearts, and biting consciences will be among them in that day! Oh dreadful day! Oh astonishing sight! to see the world in a dreadful conflagration, the elements melting, the stars falling, the earth trembling, the judgment set, the prisoners brought forth! Oh who shall endure this day, but those that by union with Christ are secured against its danger and dread!
Let me demand of poor Christless souls, whom this day is likely to take unawares, do you think it possible to avoid appearing, when terrible citation is given by the trump of God? Alas, how can you imagine it? is not the same power that revived your dust, able to bring you before his bar? There is a necessity that you must come forth, "We must all appear." 2 Cor. 5: 10. It is not in the sinner's choice to obey the summons or not.
And if you must appear, are there no accusers, nor witnesses, that will appear against you, and confront you in the court? What think you, was Satan so often a tempter to you here, and will he not be an accuser there? Yes, nothing more sure; for that was the main design