« AnteriorContinua »
"I saw him that sat on it." "No man hath seen God at any time." Remove that cloud, that vapor, and I am unable stedfastly to behold the face of the sun: bow much more, the face of him who arrays the sun in all his effulgence! If he raise his voice a little louder in the whirlwind, or in the thunder, I am overwhelmed and lost.
Ah! it is conscious guilt that appals me, that clothes the face of God with terror, that roars in the tempest, that raises the voice of the mighty thunder; but, "reconciled unto God," "justified by faith," I “have peace with God," I see as I am seen, I know as I am known: "beholding with open face as in a glass the glory of the Lord," lo, the believer is gradually "changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." "The only begotten who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
Did the pomp and wisdom of an earthly potentate dazzle and delight the eyes of a sovereign like himself, and constrain one inured to scenes of magnificence, to cry out, "It was a true report that I heard in mine own land...howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and behold the half was not told me ?" What then will it be to see, with the beloved: disciple, "a great white throne, and him who sits upon it," with the myriads of the heavenly host bending before it, rejoicing without trembling.
Grant me, gracious God, now to see thee in these thy lower works, in the wonders of thy providence, in the exceeding riches of thy grace, in the face of thy Son Christ Jesus, and thereby prepare me for seeing thee as thou art, and for being made like unto thee! Place me with thy servant Moses upon a rock, put me in a clift of the rock, cover me with thy hand while thou passest by, remove thy hand, that I may trace thy presence in the blessings thou hast left behind thee, that I may be strengthened to meet the direct rays of thy countenance, when thou comest to "be glorified
in thy saints, and admired in all them that believe." "From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them."
"All these things shall be dissolved. The heavens shall pass away with great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." "They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment ; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same." God "spake, and it was done; he gave commandment, and it stood fast." "At his word earth and heaven rose out of chaos," and lo, he looks them into nothing again; they shrink from his presence, they vanish at his nod, they cannot abide the brightness of his coming. They have fulfilled their day, they have accomplished the purpose of him who made them, they have contributed their aid toward the rearing of a more glorious fabric, and having become unnecessary, that moment disappear.
The local and transient effects of an earthquake, a hurricane, an inundation, are striking, impressive and permanent: proud cities levelled to the earth, or swallowed up of it; fertile plains overwhelmed with a briny or a fiery tide; the glory of man sought but not to be found. But what is this to the dissolution of a globe? Surely the balance must be destroyed, a blank in nature take place, and wild uproar ensue. No, the vision represents a whole system passing away: that sun and all the surrounding planets, and innumerable other "planets circling other suns," lost, yet not missed; fled " as the baseless fabric of a vision," and not a wreck left behind and yet no schism, no deficiency in the body; for the promise of the Eternal immediately repairs the loss; he makes " all things new;" "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteous.
With the heavens and the earth, the little, fading
interests and distinctions of the world vanish also. Before bis face all is reduced to one level, all is composed and tranquillized; every one reads his doom in the face of the sovereign Judge. The heavens and earth have fled away, but the rational beings which peopled them remain; they are of a more enduring substance, they partake of the nature of God himself, they are immortal, eternal like him. "I saw," says John," the dead small and great stand before God."
When time was, these were distinctive characters. There was the infant of days, and the hoary head, the inhabitant of the palace, and of the cottage, the learned and the illiterate, the slave and his master. But these marks of difference are forever abolished. Indeed they were long before abolished. Before that great and notable day of the Lord came, before the judgment was set, or the books were opened, disease and death and the grave had levelled all the distinctions of this world; had reduced the sceptred monarch to the condition of the peasant, annulled the dif ference between the slave and his master. The decisive hour is now come which is forever to determine who is henceforth to be accounted small, and who great; the hour that shall bring to light hidden worth, and thrust presumptuous pride into outer darkness; that shall exalt the good to the throne of God, and plunge the wicked into the depths of hell.
The dead small and geat. Even the awful distinction between the dead and the living shall then be done away. They were dead, but are alive again; "for all live to him." Behold the mouldering earth, before it be forever dissolved, restoring to existence every particle of itself which once entered into the composition of a human being, which was once animated with the breath of life. Behold the spacious sea, before it be forever dried up, surrendering its bidden treasure, not the silver and gold, and jewels which its vast womb contains, but the innumerable myriads of
men and women it had been insatiately devouring during so many ages, and whom it cau no longer cover or conceal.. The sound of the last trumpet has dispelled their long slumber. See, they emerge from their watery bed, they spring up into newness of life, their eyes again behold the light, the light of an eternal day, they swim through regions of transparent air, the on no more, they hasten to an ppear before their Judge. Behals Cu tue grim king of teriors, faithful to his trust, giving in the exact register of his wide domain, resigning his awful empire, restoring his captives to life and liberty, and their rightful Lord; not one lost, not one detained and the great destroyer is at length himself destroyed.
And for what purpose this mighty preparation, this second birth of nature, this new creation of God? Bebold an assembled world, from the father of the human race down to the youngest of his sons, stand before God. They stand as subjects in the presence of their Sovereign, as expectants before the eternal Arbiter of their destiny. In his eyes, in their own consciences they red their doom; they stand to hear their irreversible decree; their posture speaks acknowledgment of the right of judging, submission to authority, acquiescence in the wisdom and justice of the Judge. But that erect attitude must quickly change into the prostration of dutiful and grateful children, or of focs subdued, of wretches condemned; for lo,
The books are opened, and judgment begins. It is spoken after the manner of men. Earthly judges refer to statutes as the rule of their decisions; men are tried by the laws of their country, and because human faculties are limited and imperfect, the memory unretentive, the understanding liable to error, the heart warped by partial affections, facts must be preserved in written documents, to prevent alteration or mistake, the law expressed in clear and distinct terms, and the cause, not the person of the party, held up as the obe
ject of judgment. But what need of books or of records to assist the memory of Him who is omniscience, to whom are known all his own works, and all the ways of men from the foundation of the world; whose will is the law; and who knows no distinction but that between truth and falsehood, right and wrong? What need of external evidence of the testimony of others, when every man carries the evidence in niso bosom, and is acquitted or condemned of his own conscience? What, Oman, are the contents of these awful books? The words thou art now speaking, the pursuits in which thou art now engaged, the spirit by which thou art now actuated. Thou art every day filling up the record, with thy hand enrolling thine own honor or shame; and the unfolding of that day shall reveal that only which thou thyself hast written. On thyself it rests whether the last solemn discovery is to cover thee with everlasting contempt, or to crown thee with joy unspeakable, and full of glory; whether the opening of the book of life is to display thy name in golden characters to angels and men, or the register of condemnation consign thee to everlasting punishment. The book that shall be opened is none other than the book of scripture, the infallible rule of faith and manners, and according as thou art conformed unto, fallest short of, or exceedest that standard, so shall thy doom be.
They were judged every man according to their works. In this mixed and imperfect state, it frequently happens that the guilty escape, and the innocent suffer. "The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." Princes play the madman, and quarrel, and fight, and myriads of unoffending wretches pay the forfeit of that folly. But before yonder tribunal every one appears to answer for himself; every one comes to reap the fruit of his own doings. "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O God, for in shy sight shall no flesh living be justified." "If thou,