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wickedness: so that, to vindicate the justice of God's proceedings, it seems reasonable there should be a future judgment, for a suitable distribution of rewards and punishments.
Q. How does it appear from Scripture that there shall be a general judgment ?
A. God hath given assurance unto all men, that he will judge the world by Jesus Christ, in that he raised him from the dead. The process of the great day, with several of the particular circumstances of it, are fully described by our Saviour. St. Paul declares expressly, that we must all appear, and stand before the judgment-seat of Christ ;i St. Peter, that the day of the Lord shall come, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.j No doctrine appears more clear, and express, and fundamental, in the word of God, than that of a general judgment.
Q. When shall this general judgment be?
1. The general judgment shall take place at the end of the world. When the state of our trial and probation shall be finished, it will be a proper season for the distribution of public justice; for rewarding all those with eternal life, who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality; and for rendering to them that obey not the truth, but obey uprighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.k
Q. But if every man, upon his death, passes into a state of happiness or misery, what need is there of a general judga ment?
A. Though it is plain from Scripture, that good men, when they die, pass into a state of happiness, and bad men into a state of misery; yet all the declarations of our Savi. our and his Apostles concerning the judgment, with the parables that relate to it, plainly refer to the last and general judgment; for then it is only that the whole man shall be completely happy, or completely miserable: then it is that the bodies of men shall be raised; and as they have been partakers with the soul, either in obeying or offending God, so shall they then share in the rewards or punishments of it. Then it is that the reasonableness of God's providence, in relation to the sufferings of good men in this world, will be fully justified, and his goodness as amply vin
g Acts xvii. 31.
h Matt. XXV.
i Rom. xiv. 10 ; 2 Cor.««10.
dicated in those severe punishments that shall be eternally inflicted upon the wicked. Moreover, this general judgment is necessary, to display the majesty and glory of our blessed Saviour; that, by this public act of honour and authority, he may receive some recompence for the contempt and ignominy which he met with from a wicked and ungrateful world, and that his despised servants may be owned by him in the sight of angels and men; that public justice may be done to those virtues which their humility took care to conceal, and which were sullied by the calumnies and slanders of malicious men.
Q. To whom hath God committed the administration of this judgment ?
A. The Lord Jesus Christ is constituted by God to administer the judgment of the great day. God will judge the world in righteousness by that man Jesus Christ, whom he hath ordained. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works.m. The Father judgeth no man, but bath committed all judgment unto the Son. The apostles were commanded to preach unto the people, and testify, that it is Jesus who is ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.
Q. Why is the administration of this judgment committed to the Lord Jesus Christ ?
A. The administration of the general judgment is committed to our blessed Saviour, in order that he may receive public honour in that nature wherein he suffered ; that he who, for our sakes, stood before an earthly tribunal, may be constituted judge of the whole world; that he, who was despised and rejected of men, may appear in the glory of his Father, attended, with an innumerable train of holy angels; that he, who was condemned and crucified to ab. solve us, may receive authority to åbsolve and condemn the whole race of mankind.
Q. Who are those that shall be judged ?
A. Angels and all inankind shall be judged. The fallen angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.P All men that have ever lived in the world, and those that shall be alive at our Saviour's coming, shall be gathered before him, who is or
1 Acts xvii. 31.
m Matt. xvi. 27.
Jude, ver. 6.
n John v. 22.
dained by God to be judge of quick and dead, and they shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, both small
Power shall not exempt the kings of the earth and the great men, neither shall meapness excuse the poorest slave.s
Q. For whai shall we be judged?
A. We shall be judged for all things which we have done in the body, whether they be good or bad. All our thoughts, words, and actions, shall then undergo the severest scrutiny.
Q. By what ineasures shall the sentence of the great day pass upon men ?
A. T'he sentence of the last day shall pass upon men according to the nature and quality of their actions. The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.u
Q. But will the degrees of their good and bad actions be considered, as well as the nature and quality of them ?
A. The Scripture plainly and expressly asserts, that the rewards and punishments of the next life shall bear a proportion to the good or evil men have done in this. That servant which knew his master's will, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes ; but he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; for to whomsoever much is given, of bim shall be much required :v he that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully, shali reap bountifully. In the parable of the talents, our Saviour plainly teaches us, that men are rewarded according to the improvements they make. He that had gained ten talents, is made ruler over ten cities; and he that had gained five talents, ruler over five cities.
St. Paul expressly affirms, that the glory of the saints shall be different at the resurrection y The more conformed any man is to the divine image, the greater capacity he has for the enjoyment of God; and the more advanced he is in wickedness, the more susceptible he is of torment, the more deserving of divine wrath.
Q. Is the time fixed for our Saviour's coming to judg. ment?
A. The time and season for that great judgment is appointed by God, and reserved as a secret to himself.
r Acts X. 42.
s Rev. xi. 18; vi. 15; Job xxxiv. 19.
that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.z The angels, who excel in knowledge, and shall administer in all the solemnities of the last judgment, are yet ignorant of the time fixed for that awful event. Christ, who is himself to be the judge, and who, as God, knows all things, yet, as the Son of man, knows not the time which the Father hath appointed for the judgment of tbe world.
Q. What shall he the manner and the circumstances of Christ's appearing?
A. Christ, the judge of the world, shall be revealed from heaven with the mighty angels ;a he shall descend with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God ;' he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and in that of his holy angels ;' he shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him, and he shall separate them, the one from the other, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Those that sleep in the grave shall awake, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, and they that are alive shall be changed, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Glorious shall be the appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ;' glorious in respect of the brightness and splendour of his celestial body, made still more glorious and majestic by the authority which his Father hath committed to him of universal julge; glorious in his retinue, being accompanied with thousands of holy angels, who shall attend not only to make up the pomp of his appearance, but as ministers of his justice; and glorious, lastly, in that bright throne of glory, from whence he shall dispense life and death to all the world.
Q. What may we learn from the certainty of a general judgment ?
Ă. From the certainty of a general judgment we should learn-to govern our lives with such care and considera. tion, that we may be able to give up our account with joy, and not with grief; to keep such strict watch over ourselves, by frequent examination, that our demeanour, in this state of probation and trial, may obtain the favour and acceptance of our Judge at his dreadful tribunal; to restrain ourselves from committing the least sin, because there is none so in.
b 1 Thess. iv. 16.
2 Mark xiii. 32.
a 2 Thess. i. 7. c Luke ix. 26.
d Matt. xxv. 31, 32. e I Thess. iv. 16, 17; 1 Cor. xv. 51.
f Titus ii, 13.
considerable as to be overlooked by the omniscient Witness and Judge of our actions; not to encourage ourselves, by the greatest secrecy, to the breach of any of God's holy laws, because all our actions shall be then exposed to the view of an assembled universe; not to be dejected by the slanders and calumnies of bad men, because our integrity shall then be cleared by him who cannot err in judgment. The consideration of a final judgment should teach us to improve all those talents which the providence of God has intrusted to us, because we are but stewards, and must give an account of them; to be sincere in all our words and actions, because, in that day, the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed; to avoid all rash judging of others, because he that judgeth another, shall not escape the judgment of God; and to abound in all good works, because our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.
Q. What should we learn from the uncertainty of the time when we shall be judged ?
A. The consideration of the uncertainty of the time when we shall be judged should teach us immediately to recona cile ourselves to God by a sincere and hearty repentance, that the terrible day of God's wrath may not find us unprea pared; to be always upon our guard, that we may make a daily progress towards Christian perfection, and constantly defend ourselves against the attacks of our spiritual enemies ; to be frequent in all acts of piety and devotion, that when we are summoned to appear, we may, if possible, be found em. ployed in religious exercises ; and to implore constantly God's grace, that the da of judgment may not overta us unawares, but that, by a patient continuance in well-doing, we may wait for glory, honour, and immortality,