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(4.) That which further clears the divine justice in punishing sin with hell, is this, that God by his infallible promise assures us, that all who sincerely and uniformly obey him, shall be rewarded with heaven forever: a blessedness most worthy the greatness and love of the eternal God to bestow on his servants : a blessedness that surpasses our most comprehensive thoughts. Now if everlasting glory be despised, what remains but endless misery to be the sinners portion? The consequence is remediless. If sin with an eternal hell in its retinue be chosen and embraced, is it not equal that the rational creature would inherit his own choice? How just is it that those who are the slaves of the devil, and maintain his party here, should have their recompense with him forever? That those who now
to the Al mighty, depart from us, we desirenot the knowledge of thy ways,” should hear the dreadful “ depart from me into everlasting fire” As there will be no vain boasting in heaven, where the reward is the gift of pure bounty; so there will be no righteous complaint against God in hell, where the punishment is inflicted by powerful justice. He that voluntarily sins, by consequence chooses the punishment due to it.
(5.) The estimation of an offence is taken from the disposition of him that does it. When it is done with pleasure and obstinacy, there is no place for favor. Now final impenitence alone makes sin actually ande ternally damning to the sinner. Those that, notwithstanding all gracious means, live continually in rebellion against God; those that impenitently die in their sins; those that desire to live here forever, that they might enjoy their sweet sins; those that are so hardened and naturalized in their vices, that if they were revived and brought again into this world of temptations, would certainly return
to the pleasures of sin ; is it not righteous that their incorrigible obstinacy should be punished forever? Is it not just that those who would continue under the “dominion of sin," should forfeit all their claim to the divine mercy ? For if we consider them as unrepentant and irreclaimable from their wickedness, there are in them the just provocations and true causes of God's final rejection and hatred: and if we consider God as revealed in his word and works, his essential properties, wisdom, purity, justice, necessary work upon such objects in such a manner. How zealous an indigna. tion did the Son of God express against the obdurate Pharisees? You serpents, you generation of vipers, how should you escape the damnation of hell ? Mat. 23 33. They in despite of all his miracles, the equal expressions of his goodness and power, resisted his authority, blasphemed his person, and slighted his salvation. Now though other sins are of an inferior nature, and
* Pænæ æqualitas non nude spectanda ut in ponderibus et mensuris, sed expenso proposito, et voto ejus qui deliquit. Grot.
weaker evidence, yet obstinacy added to them, makes a person unworthy and uncapable of mercy. From hence the misery of the damned is without redemption, without hope, without allay forever.
The evidence of facts produced as the reason of judgment. All sins, wheth
er secrets or openly visible, shall be brought to judgment. Sins of omission and commission. All the aggravations and circumstances of sin. The manper of this judicial proceeding is by opening the books. The books of the law and gospel shall be unfolded in all their precepts, and men's lives compared with them. The omniscience of God will give convincing evidence of men's works. The book of conscience shall be opened, and accuse or excuse men. Satan will be a principal accuser. The wicked will accuse one another. The saints of God will give testimony against the wicked. The impartiality of the sentence will make the Divine justice conspicuous. There will be no distinction of persons in that judgment. There will be a distinction of causes. Every man shall be judged according to the tenor of his good works, and the desert of his bad. The harvest shall be answerable to the sowing of the seed, both in kind and measure.
II. I shall now proceed to consider the evidence of the facts that is produced as the reason of that judgment.
The temper of divine justice is very observable in the particular judgments recorded in scripture. In the first process of justice on earth, we read that God made the enquiry of Adam, Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? Gen. 3. 11. and by palpable evidence convinced him before he condemned him. Thus before the fiery vengeance upon the wicked cities, the memory of which will never be extinguished, the Lord said to Abraham, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorroh is great, and their sin is grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done according to the cry of it that is come up unto me, Gen. 18. 20. 21. viz. whether they were so numerously and excessively wicked; if not, I will know. God is pleased to incarnate himself in man's expression, to declare more sensibly to us, that he never punishes with precipitation, but after an equal trial of the cause. Thus we read of that profane king of Babylon, Belshazzar, that he was weighed in the balance, and found wanting, Ban. 5. 27. before he was sentenced to be deprived of his kingdom and life. And the destruction of the antichristian state, is attended with solemn hallelujahs for the righteousness of that judgment, Rev. 19. 2. 3. And in the last day the righteousness of God's proceedings
shall be universally manifest and magnified. It is therefore called the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Rom. 2. 5. Now in order to this, the scripture informs us, that all the works of men shall be brought into judgment, even every secret thing, whether good or evil, Eccles. 12. ult. And the Apostle saith, That we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in bis body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. 5. 10.
All sins, whether secret, or open and visible, shall be accounted for. Those sins that have been acted in the most secret retirement, so that no eye of man could take cognizance of them; sins concealed from the eye of day, the light of the sun, and from the eye of the night, the light of a candle, shall then be made manifest. Nay, the sins of the thoughts and affections, of which Satan could not accuse men, when the inward fire of lust or malice is not discovered by the least smoke or sparkles, by no expressions, all those shall be brought to judgment : God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, Rom. 2. 16.
The sins of omission of our duty that are so numerous, from carelessness and diversions, from slothfulness and delays, and that now so little affect us; for we are more sensible of what we do, than of what we have not done ; the guilt of all these shall then be heavily charged on the conscience of the sinner. “I was an hungry, and you gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink ;” was the accusation of the reprobates from the judge himself. To him who knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is a sin ; Jam. 4. The neglect of improve ing all the means, advantages, and opportunities of doing or receiving good, will be a great part of that judgment. The lord called his servants to an account for the talents committed to their trust, and required profit in proportion to their number and worth.
All sins of commission in youth and age, whether gross sensuality, as lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries, and all excess of riot, shall be accounted for to him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead, i Pet. 4. 5. Or acts of unrighteousness to others : He that doth wrong, shall receive according to the wrong he has done, Col. 3. 25. And sins of a lesser guilt, for which the most are not touched with grief or shame, shall then be produced in judgment. All the sins of our words, so easily committed, and not so easily observed, shall then be called to a heavy remembrance: the judge himself tells us, I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; Mat. 12. And if vain words, the signs and immediate effects of a vain mind, shall sadly increase our accounts; how much more all the contentious, fierce, and revengeful words; the detracting, false, contumelious, and injuri
ous words; the impure, filthy, and contagious words ; the profane, blasphemous, and impious words, that "How from the evil treasure of the heart ?" Otheir dreadful number, and oppressing weight!
And all the aggravations and circumstances of men's sins, that raise their guilt to such fearful beights, enumerated in order to judgment : for thus it was foretold, Behold, the Lord comes with ten
thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him ; Jude 14. 15. And all the good works of the saints shall then be remembered, even to the least work of piety, the giving of two mites to the treasury of the temple, Luke 21. 3. 4, and the least works of charity, the giving a cup of cold water to a disciple, Mat. 10. 42. upon the account of his relation to Christ. All their secret graces and duties shall then be rewarded.
The manner of this judicial evidence is set forth to us in scripture, by the “opening the books;" congruously to proceedings in human judgment, wherein the information and charge is duced from writings, for the conviction of the accused. Thus it was represented to St. John in a vision; I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of the things that were writen in the books, according to their works, Rev. 20. 12.
[1.] The books of the law and gospel shall then be opened in all the injunctions and prohibitions, and our lives compared with them. Our Saviour told the Jews, Do not think that I will accuse you to my Father; there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom you trust: not the person, but the law of Moses; John 5. 45. And he denounced against those that reject the gospel; The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge them in the last day, John 12. 48. The law is the exact transcript of God's sacred will, the natural and immutable rule of righteousness: it is pure, forbids all sin, and enjoins universal holiness; it is spiritual, requires not only a conformity in words and actions, but inward sanctity in mind and heart: for the soul is the principal part of man, entirely open to God's eye, the maker and judge of it; and the most enlightened saints have but an imperfect knowledge of it here. This made holy David, after his meditation upon its purity and perfection, to cry out in an agony, Who can understand his errors! cleanse thou me from secret sins; Psal. 19. This, when opened in its spiritual and comprehensive nature, by a wise and zealous preacher, darts a light into the conscience, and discovers many secret sins, that like so many serpents were still and quiet in the dark; but upon the sudden breaking in of the light, Ay upon the sinner, and torment him with their mortal stings. But when the Lawgiver himself
shall expound the law in its full extent and perfection, with respect to all the duties it commands, and sins it forbids, bow guilty will men appear? how unable to answer one article of a thousand charged upon them?
[2.] The omniscience of God will give most convincing evidence of all his works : All things are naked and open to his eyes, with whom we have to do in judgment, Heb. 4. 13. The Psalmist declares the infinite perspicacity of his sight; The darkness hides not from thee, but the night shines as the day; Psal. 139. As his light and transcendent brightness is invisible to us, 1. Tim. 6. 16. so our thickest darkness is visible to him. We cannot see things in the night, because it hinders the reception of the rays, that insinuate into the eyes, and causes sight; but the eyes of our judge are like a flame of fire, Rev. 1. 14. dispelling all darkness.
From his throne in heaven, his piercing eye sees through all the concealments of men's sins. Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, and our secret sins in the light of thy countenance, Psal. 90. 8. He discovered the sacrilege of Achan, the lie of Gehazi, the deceit of Ananias. Saul's disobedience in sparing the Amalekites devoted to destruction, 1 Sam. 15. 21. had the colorable pretence of piety, and, as a sacrifice, was laid on the altar. ind David's murder of Uriah was imputed to the chance of war, as a sufficient excuse, 2 Sam. 11. 25. But though they might have deceived others, they could not deceive God: he is intimately present with the souls of men, that are unsearchable to the most discerning angels of light, and knows all their most secret designs and desires, the deepest seeds of their actions. He alone has exact scales to "weigh the spirits of men,” all the principles, aims and affections, that are inseparable from their works. The Pharisees, in whom pride was the first property, and hypocrisy a second pature, could not with all their saintly shews impose on our Saviour; for he knew what was in man, Matth. 23. 14. He discovered their alms to be, not the effect of charity, but ostentation, Matth. 6. 2. and their specious acts of devotion, to be a train to surprise some rich prey, Matth. 23. 14.
And this divine knowledge of men and their actions, is in or. der to judgment. Thus the wise king declares, doth not he that ponders the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Prov. 24. 12. And God himself testifies, I the Lord search the heart, even to give to every man according to his works, Jer. 17. 10. For this reason, he is said to keep a register of mens sins. Thus he speaks of the impure idolatries of the Jews; Behold, it is written before me, Isa. 65 6. to signify his exact and actual knowledge; “I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosoms. And at the day of judgment, he will declare his knowledge of