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It seems the words in the nineteenth verse of the third of the Acts, “ times of refreshing," are held by writers to be doubtful, as to what time was intended by them, yet the most reasonable construction must be, the appearing of Christ; and which the words,“ presence of the Lord,” strongly show; but, whether they do or not, it is most certain they must refer to a future time for sins to be blotted out, and not at the time of repentance and conversion. The conversion here meant must be a conversion to the faith of Christ; it is therefore clear, there can be no blotting out of sins at the time of repentance and conversion, but at “ the times of refreshing,” whenever that may be. It is not possible to form a text which could be more conclusive than this is for establishing the principle now contended for, that remission of sins is future; the mode by which the remission is to be obtained is first stated, and the time when that remission is to take place. From this text two certain conclusions are to be drawn; one, that repentance and conversion are absolutely and indispensably necessary for a sinner to obtain remission of sins; the other, the time when the remission will take place, after a due observance of the injunction given.
We will now offer an argument against justification in this life, which must have a very con
vincing effect. It having been shown, that man can at any time during life fall from grace and faith, and be annihilated as to life eternal, we will suppose this case to have taken place, that a man has had faith, and thereby has had his sins pardoned, and he afterwards draws back, or falls from faith. We have seen that every secret thing is to be brought forward at the day of judgment; what is to become of those sins which have been remitted in this life? Can sins which have been pardoned be then brought against the transgressor ? If they can, the remission has had no virtual effect; and if they cannot, the statement that every work is to be brought into judgment, and man is to receive according to that he hath done, whether good or bad, cannot be relied upon as well founded.
AN ENQUIRY INTO THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
The day of judgment having a close connexion with the justification and salvation of man, it becomes necessary to see and learn for what use and
purpose it was ordained. Job xix. 29. “Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that
ye may know there is a judgment.” Jude 6. “ And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”
1 Thess. v. 2. “ For yourselves, know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
Jude 15. “ To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Rom. xiv. 10. “But why dost thou judge thy brother ! or, why dost thou set at nought thy brother ? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Ibid. 11. “ For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Ibid. 12. “ So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Ibid. ii. 16. “ In the day when God shali judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”
2 Cor. v. 10. “ For we must 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."
Eccles. xii. 14. “ For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”
Matt. xii. 36. “ But I say unto you, That every idle word that man shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
James i. 12. “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation ; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
The word judgment has been most properly explained by Mr. Cruden, in his Concordance,
to be “ the solemn action and trial at the great and last day.”
That there is to be a day of judgment is so fully and clearly shown, in many parts of Scripture, it appears almost a waste of words to produce authorities for that purpose; but from the above texts these certain facts are to be collected, that there will be a day of judgment, which will come as a thief in the night, and when “ we must all appear, and stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may give account of himself, and receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” and “ when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ,' and “ bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil,” and “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof;" and “ blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Here we have a full, clear, certain, and particular description, not only of what is meant by the day of judgment, which must be a day of trial, but also of such matters as are to be brought forward, and what the proceedings will then be, which are to take place at that awful and solemn tribunal of the Lord of hosts.