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to have transpired, are disposed to avow of the Judgment, as Philetus and Hymeneus did of the resurrection, that it “ is past already.” Moreover, it is to be observed, that these opinions are held, not from any absolute desire to give novel representation to the Judgment; but because, unless these representations are admitted, they cannot possibly harmonize the subject with their theory of the millennium.
The passages of Holy Scripture by which it is attempted to sanction these opinions are chiefly two; the one addressed to the Thessalonians, and certainly quite irrelevant to the subject; and the other in the chapter before us, which, to say the least, is capable of a figurative as well as a literal acceptation; and, in this case, the figurative acceptation rather than the literal is supported by every just principle of biblical criticism.*
* The illustration of these Scriptures does not belong to this Lecture, yet the preacher may be allowed a passing notice. In the 4th chap. of 1st of Thessalonians the apostle is referring not to the resurrection of all, but of believers; those who are living and those who “sleep in Jesus ;'' and, confining himself to these two classes, he merely speaks of the order in which it shall occur. The dead in Christ shall first be raised, and then those who are alive shall be changed.
On the passage in the 20th chap. of the Revelations I think much light may be thrown by comparison. In the 6th of Revelations, 9, 10, there is exactly the same reference to the souls of the martyrs. Here they are represented as under the altar crying for vengeance on the enemies of the church ; and they are instructed to wait for the answer of their prayer and their final triumph till others their brethren shall have been slain also. When this is accomplished and the church is raised to victory and peace, these souls of the martyrs are said “ to live again” and to reign a thousand years. Can these descriptions thus united be more or less than a figurative expression of the two estates of the visible church-the one afflictive, the other prosperous? The church severely persecuted is beautifully represented by the souls of the martyrs groaning for vengeance; the church delivered and triumphant is as beautifully represented by the martyrs living again in her prosperity; and the term of their life and her prosperity are therefore identified; both are for the thousand years. For other illustration of this important passage, see the Discourse on the Millennium by the Rev. J. Morison, and Dr. Wardlaw's Sermons.
But the subject under consideration is not to be disposed of by a criticism on one or two doubtful quotations. It is interwrought with the whole texture of Scripture ; it is open to various illustration; and he “who runs may read” what is the mind of God on the future Judgment. As appropriate to our present purpose we apprehend there are chiefly three things taught us; and, if these shall be established, they will at once invalidate the opinions which have been advanced against the predominant faith.
The first of these particulars which we conceive to be matter of clear revelation is, that the Judgment shall be one, shall occur at one time and include all men. This statement so readily engages the credence of those who follow the guidance of Scripture, that explanation is made difficult. The Judgment is always spoken of as one. Those who choose
to have transpired, are disposed the Judgment, as Philetus and F of the resurrection, that it " is
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the resurrection of damnation.” , us, that then all nations shall be (at one and the same time) before nd that he shall separate them one from er as a shepherd divideth the sheep from - goats.” He describes the present state of ociety by corn and tares growing together ; the Judgment as the harvest; and declares, that then his angels shall separate them; and that then the wicked shall be cast into fire ; and then (at the same time) the righteous shall shine forth in the kingdom of his Father. * Now, if words are still to be the medium of thought, is it possible for these expressions to convey any sentiment except that the Judgment is to be one—that it is to embrace all men—and that each man is to be judged and sentenced in the presence of all other men ?
We are aware that the milder disputant has endeavoured to avoid the force of these declarations by supposing the Judgment to continue through the millennium ; and on this supposition he has proposed to unite two periods, which would otherwise be divided by
* It is well known that the original particles used denote an identity of time.
to talk of “two Judgments” and “a second Judgment ” cannot pretend to derive their phraseology from the written word. There are not even any obscure expressions on which such a construction may be forced. Those visitations of Providence which attend us in this life are carefully distinguished from it; and the Judgment stands out single and alone, having nothing before and nothing after like unto itself.
By a necessary consequence, the Judgment will occur at one time, and will be universal. Citation might here be carried to an indefinite extent; but the passages are in the common places of your memory. The inspired writers have carefully employed those terms which indicate a unity, and not a succession, of time. It is “ a day;"_" the day of the Lord”_"the day of Judgment”—“ the last day.” In this “ one day all men shall be judged.” It is a day in which “God will judge the secrets of men,” that is, of all men; a day in which “he will judge the world in righteousness;" a day when “every man's work shall be made manifest ;” and a day when “all must appear before the Judgment seat of Christ.
The Son of God has given the strongest evidence on this subject. He declares, that