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PROOF TEXTS OF THE JUDGMENT.
after His resurrection, and in which He now sitteth on the right hand of the Throne of God in heaven, shall He come visibly with power and great glory to judge the world.
Among the particulars yet to be considered on this Article, let us now proceed
I. To consider, why God hath appointed a day of general judgment.
And 1. That God has appointed such a day is as clearly and as positively affirmed in the Word of God as language can express it. Matt. x. 15; xii. 36; xxv.; Ecc. xi. 9; Acts xvii. 31 ; Heb. ix. 22; 2 Pet. ii. 9 ; iii. 7; 1 John. iv. 17; Jude; 2 Thess. i. 7-10; iv. 14–18; Heb. vi. 1, 2; 2 Cor. v. 10; Rom. xiv. 10, 11; Jo. v. 22; Rev. xx. 12.
2. The resurrection of Christ is a proof that He is to come again to judge the world.
A few texts on this point at present, as Acts xvii. 31 ; and Rom. xiv. 9, 12, are deemed quite sufficient.
Because God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom He hath ordained ; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised him from the deud." “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living. For we shall all stand before the Judgmentseat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." It is usual in the sacred writers to connect the resurrection of the dead with the eternal judgment, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, vi. 1, 2. For the most part the same texts of Holy Scripture that prove our Lord's resurrection, ascension, and sitting on the right hand of God, also speak of his coming again to judge the world; and when in any of these proof texts
His second coming is not spoken of in express termis, it
1 Thess. iv. 14–18. “And to you
It is in evidence then that God has appointed a determinate day for the judgment of the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, as the Creed affirms. This Article then denies and refutes on Scriptural authority the opinion or surmise of those who hold that there is no fixed day for a general judgment. It is a notorious fact not only that there were ancient heretics who denied any resurrection from the dead, or any determinate general judgment of mankind ; but there are now certain teachers who either altogether avoid committing themselves on the subject, or who hold the opinion that by the term day, in regard to the last judgment, we are to understand simply that as the present season of grace is sometimes called the sinner's day, or the day of God's long-suffering and patience towards us, so when the Gospel dispensation ceases, and there is an end of its shining light, during which sinners were called to repentance, then comes what is called the last day, for then the Judgment will commence, but that we cannot fix any definite idea to the term day as used in reference to it. On the
JUSTICE REQUIRES A JUDGMENT.
contrary, the Creed implies what the Scriptures declare, that God has appointed a day for the judgment of the world in righteousness by our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall come from heaven for that purpose. [See Confession of Faith, chaps. xxxii. and xxxiii., quoted in previous chapter.]
3. Again : Such are the relations between God as Creator, Supreme Lawgiver, and Universal Governor, that His Justice requires an open and final adjustment of the affairs of His Universe. Speaking with reverence, He is bound by his Eternal Justice to be faithful to himself, to his laws, and to all the virtuous beings in all his universe—to vindicate his moral government by rewarding the obedient and punishing the disobedient, and thus show that there is a difference between those that serve Him, and those that serve Him not. If the Supreme Being does not take notice of His creatures, and reward the obedient and punish the disobedient, then this world is indeed a poor melancholy atom, and we are orphans in the vastness of a creation that has no Creator. If Epicurus is right, that there is no notice taken of human conduct by the Supreme Being, then what becomes of God's Justice ? But we know that some visitations of vengeance have fallen upon mankind. And if so, must there not be equal justice done to all ? For if the inequalities of this life are not put to right in the world to come, it is impossible for God's creatures to see His Justice, or to know that there is in fact any difference between doing well or doing evil. To deny the future judgment is to destroy the foundation of all morality.
Even among the heathen, we find from the remotest antiquity some dark notions about a future judgmentsome “ few sparkles of light in their consciences" about a future state or of a judgment to come. Both philosophers and poets in Greece and Rome wrote about it. Plato and the Platonists, and Cicero and Virgil abound with references to a future trial and rewards and punishments to come from a final adjustment of the contest now carried on between good and evil. Man's moral nature is so strongly impressed with the idea of some future state, and of some final result as to the contest between good and evil, that all nations and ages have in some way expressed their belief on the subject. All lands have temples and worshippers, and all zones have altars and sacrifices. The savage tribes of the wilderness, the hierophants of Egypt, the schools of Rome, the sages of the Academy, and the wise men of the East, have all, though in different ways, confessed their conviction as to the reality of moral evil, and the necessity of some future retribution. Now whence this moral sense, and this idea of a future judgment? Is it innate? If so, whence does it come, but from the Creator? Is it learned from tradition or acquired by reason? Whence its universality unless it is divinely inspired ? But although all ages have felt painful convictions on these subjects, yet none knew how to escape from the wrath to come. For the two thousand years intervening between Noah and the coming of Christ, God left the world to prove to itself that by its own wisdom it could not find Him out nor deliver itself from the power of evil. The very idea of our accountability after death for the actions of this life involves the day of future retribution.
And although it is not possible to analyze these notions of the heathens, and say exactly how much they received from others, or how much they have discovered by the mere light of nature, or how much they owe to the dim and scattered glimmerings of divine truth revealed to the Hebrews, yet enough is clearly seen to show that there is
FOUR UNIVERSAL JUDGMENTS.
a wide-spread and deeply painful consciousness that something is needed to break down the reign of evil; and that, as an actor in the old French revolution said, if there is no God, we must make one, for the world cannot be governed without a God. Human society cannot continue to exist, if all idea of a future state and accountability for our conduct after death were lifted off the heart of
Moral responsibility is necessary to break or to endure the reign of moral evil.
The heathen, especially Plutarch and Cicero, have written largely concerning the necessity of a judgment to come. And the Sacred Scriptures clearly and fully confirm what natural religion, or perhaps we should rather say, what common sense, reason, and the Providence and attributes of God require, that there should be a future general judgment.
Nor is it unworthy of notice, as Witsius argues, that we have precedents in sacred history that should be received as proofs and warnings of the judgment to come. We read in the Bible of four public and universal judgments upon our race. First, in Paradise, when we were all represented in Adam ; second, on the world before the flood ; third, on the nations in the plains of Shinar, at the tower of Babel. And the fourth is the last judgment.
The wisest heathen have been found, like the royal Psalmist before he went to the sanctuary of God, and learned their dreadful end, stumbling at the prosperity of the wicked in this world. From this unequal, unfinished state of things two opposite conclusions have been drawn : namely, that the Supreme Being is totally indifferent to human actions, and consequently there is no final judgment-day for rectifying the miseries of this life. Every thing is left to chance or blind fate. This is too