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SEVENTH ARTICLE OF THE CREED:
* From thence he shall come to judge the quick
“ and the dead."
ROMANS, xiv. 9, 10: For to this end, Christ both died and rose, and
revived, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and the living ; for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
E may very truly assert, in the language of St. Paul (2 Cor. ii. 16, 17), that the import of this article is either the savour of death unto death, or of life unto life; a sweet savour of Christ, to them WHO DIE IN THE LORD; i. e. in the true faith of his holy name, and humble dependence on his merits and mediation ; and at the same time, the most powerful inducement that can be urged upon all men, to LIVE TO THE Lord; and that from this very serious consideration (2 Cor. v. 10), that we must all appear
before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, good or bad.
The words of this part of our Creed propose to our faith the doctrine of a general judgment of all mankind. With this solemn act the office of Christ closes. Hitherto we have discoursed concerning our blessed Master, in his characters of prophet, priest, and king; as our lawgiver and pattern ; as the sacrifice and atonement for our sins; as our mediator and intercessor at the right hand of God, by whose power, there committed to him, in consequence of that exaltation, he is also made a principle of inward life to us, while our state of trial lasts, by shedding abroad his grace upon our souls, through the influence of his Holy Spirit. This subject represents him in the most majestic and awful of all his characters: and as the event is of such vast concern to every one of us (even our eternal salvation, or condemnation), every one must see the necessity of confirming our faith in this article of the Belief; because it includes a double motive to urge our perseverance in well-doing, viz. fear and reward.
I shall proceed in the plain order which I have hitherto adopted, as the most suitable method of informing your minds upon the principles of the holy religion you profess.
The article itself may be divided into three. parts: (1.) That Christ, at the end of the world, will return from heaven, where he is now seated, to intercede for us. (2.) The design of his coming is declared in these words : He will come to JUDGMENT. And (3.) the objects of his judgment are all mankind; He will judge both quick and dead—those who are alive on earth on the great day of account, and those that are raised from the dead, to receive their final sentence.
The truth of this declaration is abundantly set forth in Holy Scripture. The Apostle (Acts, üi. 21) informs us, that the heavens must receive him till the times of the restitution of all things; (Acts, i. 11,) and then this same Jesus which was taken up into heaven, shall so come, in like manner as he was seen to go into heaven. In Matthew, xvi. 27, Christ himself acquaints his disciples, that the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels ; and then shall he rewand every man according to his works. And this final part of his office he declares to belong peculiarly to HIMSELF (John, v. 22): For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. And the same doctrine, St. Paul assures his hearers, he had been commanded to preach to the people, that it is He who was ordained of God to be judge of quick and dead. (Acts, X. 42.)
That the Apostle built every religious consequence upon the assurance of this fact, we learn
from the solemn introduction of his admonition to Timothy, to attend to his duty with all diligence. I charge thee therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and dead at his appearing, and his kingdom. (2 Tim. iv. 1.) And St. Peter upholds his doctrine by the same serious motive, when, in his first General Epistle, he exhorts men to live no longer (the rest of their time) to the flesh, i. e. to the lusts of men, but to the will of God; nor to regard what they who run in all excess of riot, may think of them, because they have made so happy a choice, or change; and that for this most essential reason, that they should always keep in mind, that they were to give account to Him who is ready to JUDGE THE QUICK AND DEAD.
As Christians, we might rest fully satisfied with what our Lord himself did promise and assure us of, his second coming. But to give every due weight and dignity to the expectation of this event, as the Scriptures ,do often speak of Christ's second advent, or coming again in the flesh, it will be sufficient for your present satisfaction, to produce the testimony of St. Jude, 14; and the Prophet Daniel, who writes, that Enoch, the seventh from Adam,“ prophesied of this advent, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints. But the Prophet Daniel had a positive vision of Christ's power and glory, as Judge of all men: I saw in the night (says he) a vision: and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days; and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, that shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. vii. 13, 14.) To this fact the testimony of angels hath been given ; and that further promise of our Lord (John, xiv. 3, 28) is very expressive, If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself. You have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again to you.
As matter of comfort to those who continue patient in well-doing, the Apostle reminds them, Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come. (Heb. x. 37.) Our Redeemer, then, shall come; and not only so, but exactly as the Messiah was foretold, and as repeated in St. Matthew (xxiv. 30), as the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. This expression of the clouds, you must know, was interpreted by the Jews of old, to signify the glorious host or attendance of angels waiting upon the Son of man; and it is a figure of speech we use to this day, to describe a very great and innumerable body. To close the