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infinite : Though their understanding and comprehension will be vastly extended, yet men will not be deified. There will probably be a very enlarged view that particular persops will have of various parts and members of that vast assembly, and so of the proceedings of that great day ; but yet it must needs be, that according to the nature of finite minds, some persons and some things, at that day, shall fall more under the notice of particular persons than others ; and this (as we may well suppose) according as they shall have a nearer concern with some than others, in the transactions of the day. There will be special reason why those who have had special concerns together in this world, in their state of probation, and whose mutural affairs will be then to be tried and judged, should especially be set in one another's view, Thus we may suppose, that rulers and subjects, earthly judges and those whom they have judged, neighbors who have had mutural converse, dealings, and contests, heads of families and their children and servants, shall then meet, and in a peculiar distinction be set together. And especially will it be thus with ministers and their people. It is evident by the text, that these shall be in each other's view, shall distinctly know each other, and shall have particular notice one of another at that time.
(2.) They shall meet together, as having special concern one with another in the great transactions of that day.
Although they shall meet the whole world at that time, yet they will not have any immediate and particular concern with all. Yea, the far greater part of those who shall then be gathered together, will be such as they have had no intercourse with in their state of probation, and so will have no mutual concerns to be judged of. But as to ministers and the people that have been under their care, they will be such as have had much immediate concern one with another, in matters of the greatest moment, that ever mankind have to do one with another in. Therefore they especially must meet and be brought together before the judge, as having special concern one with another in the design and business of that great day of accounts:
Thus their meeting, as to the manner of it, will be diverse from the meeting of mankind in general.
2. Their meeting at the day of judgment will be very diverse from their meetings one with another in this world.
Ministers and their people, while their relation continues, often meet together in this world : They are wont to meet from Sabbath to Şabbath, and at other times for the public worship of God, and administration of ordinances, and the solemo services of God's house : And besides these meetings, they have also occasions to meet for the determining and managing their ecclesiastical affairs, for the exercise of church discipline, and the settling and adjusting those things which concern the purity and good order of public administrations. But their meeting at the day of judgment will be exceeding diverse, in its manner and circumstance, from any such meetings and interviews as they have, one with another in the present state. I would observe how, in a few particulars.
(1.) Now they meet together in a preparatory unutable state, but then in an unchangeable state.
Now singers in the congregation meet their minister in a state wherein they are capable of a saying change, capable of being turned, through God's blessing on the ministrations and labors of their pastor, from the power of Satan unto God ; and being brought out of a state of guilt, condemnation and wrath, to a state of peace and favor with God, to the enjoyment of the privileges of his children, and a title to their eternal inheritance. And saints now meet their minister with great remains of corruption, and sometimes under great spiritual difficulties and affiction : And therefore are yet the proper subjects of means of an happy alteration of their state, consisting in a greater freedom from these things, which they have reason to hope for in the way of an attendance on ordiDances, and of which God is pleased commonly to make his ministers the instruments. And ministers and their people now mcet in order to the bringing to pass such happy changcs; they are the great benefits sought in their solemn meetings in this world.
But when they shall meet together at the day of judgment, it will be far otherwise. They will not then meet in order to the use of means for the bringing to effect any such changes ; for they will all meet in an unchangeable state. Sinners will be in an unchangeable state : They who then shall be under the guilt and power of sin, and have the wrath of God abiding on them, shall be beyond all remedy or possibility of change, and shall meet their ministers without any hopes of relief or remedy, or getting any good by their means. And as for the saints, they will be already perfectly delivered from all their before remaining corruption, temptation, and calam. ities of every kind, and set forever out of their reach ; and no deliverance, no happy alteration, will remain to be accomplished in the way of the use of means of grace, under the administrations of ministers. It will then be pronounced, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still ; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still ; and he that is righteous let him be right eous still ; and he that is holy let him be holy still.”
(2.) Then they shall meet together in a state of clear, certain and infallible light.
Ministers are set as guides and teachers, and are represented in scripture as lights set up in the churches ; and in the present state meet their people from time to time in order to instruct and enlighten them, to correct their mistakes, and to be a voice behind them, when they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, saying, “ This is the way, walk in it ;" to evince and confirm the truth by exhibiting the proper evidences of it, and to refute errors and corrupt opinions, to convince the erroneous and establish the doubting. But when Christ shall come to judgment, every error and false opinion shall be de. tected ; all deceit and illusion shall' vanish away before the light of that day, as the darkness of the night vanishes at the appearance of the rising sun ; and every doctrine of the word of God shall tben appear in full evidence, and none shall remain unconvinced ; all shall know the truth with the greatest certainty, and there shall be no mistakes to rectify.
Now ministers and their people may disagree in their judgments concerning some matters of religion, and may sometimes meet to confer together concerning those things wherein they differ, and to hear the reasons that may be of. fered on one side and the other; and all may be ineffecual as to any conviction of the truth : They may neet and part again, no more agreed than before"; and that side which was in the wrong, may remain so still : Sometimes the meetings of ministers with their people in such a case of disagreeing sentiments, are attended with unhappy debate and controversy, managed with much prejudice and want of candor ; not tending to light and conviction, but rather to confirm and increase darkness, and establish opposition to the truth, and alienation of affection one from another. But when they shall hereafter meet together, at the day of judgment, before the tribunal of the great Judge, the mind and will of Christ will be made known ; and there shall no longer be any debate or difference of opinions ; the evidence of the truth shall appear beyond all dispute, and all controversies shall be finally and foreyer decided.
Now ministers meet their people, in order to enlighten and awaken the consciences of sinners : Setting before them the great evil and danger of sin, the strictness of Gods law, their own wickedness of heart and practice, the great guilt they are under, the wrath that abides upon them, and their impotence, blindness, poverty, and helpless and undone condition : But all is often in vain ; they remain still, notwithstanding all their ministers can say, stupid and unawakened, and their consciences unconvinced. But it will not be so at their last meeting at the day of judgment ; sinners, when they shall meet their minister before their great Judge, will not meet him with a stupid conscience : They will then be fully convinced of the truth of those things which they formerly heard from him, concerning the greatness and terrible majesty of God, his holiness, and hatred of sin, and his awful justice in punishing it, the strictness of his law, and the dreadfulness and truth of his threatenings, and their own unspeakable guilt and misery : And they shall never more be insensible of these things : The eyes of conscience will now be fully enlightened, and never shall be blinded again : The mouth of conscietice shall now be opened, and never shall be shut any more.
Now ministers meet with their people, in public and pri. vate, in order to enlighten them concerning the state of their souls ; to open and apply the rules of God's word to them, in order to their searching their own hearts, and discerning the state that they are in ; but now ministers have no infallible dis, cerning of the state of the souls of their people ; and the most skilful of them are liable to mistakes, and often are mistaken in things of this nature ; nor are the people able certainly to know the state of their minister, or one another's state ; very often those pass among them for saints, and it may be emi. nent saints, that are grand hypocrites ; and on the other hand, those are sometimes censured, or hardly received into their charity, that are indeed some of God's jewels. And nothing is more common than for men to be mistaken concerning their own state : Many that are abominable to God, and the children of his wrath, think highly of themselves, as his precious saints and dear children. Yea, there is reason to think, that often some that are most bold in their confidence of their safe and happy state, and think themselves not only true saints, but the most eminent saints in the congregation, are in a peculiar manter a smoke in God's nose. And thus it undoubtedly often is in those congregations where the word of God is most faithfully dispensed, notwithstanding all that ministers can say in their clearest explications, and most searching applications of the doctrines and rules of God's word to the souls of their hearers, in their meetings one with another. But in the day of judgment they shall have another sort of meeting; then the secrets of every heart shall be made manifest, and every man's state shall be perfectly known, 1 Cor. iv. 5. “ Therefore, judge nothing before the time, un. til the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts : And then shall every man have praise of God." Then none shall be deceived concerning his own state, nor shall be any more in doubt about it. There shall be an eternal end to all the ill conceit and yain hopes of deluded hypo