Page images

tion with which men, according to their several circumstances, are favored. If we neglect these, I grant it is still not imposible (as Paul's story fhews) that God may, in some extraordinary way, convert us; I insist, however, that it is highly improbable that he will do so, and the more fin we commit, the less likely should we consider our conversion to be just as we see that in the case of Paul, the addition of the fin of wilfulness to his other crimes might have prove ed an aggravation that would have put him beyond the hope of mercy.

We read of one dying thief who repented on the cross, and was cer-tainly saved; but the scriptures name no other instance of any thing like a real and availing death-bed repentance.

We are thus taught, that no dying finner should harden his heart through despair, and yet 'that no living finner should prefume on God's giving him grace to repent in his last hours.

We read, in like manner, of only one Paul who was converted by means of a voice from heaven, or while he was breathing flaughter against the Christians; but, on the other hand, when the apostles and disciples were regularly me together, and were all with one accord in one place," at the time of Penticost, we are told that the numbers converted even in one day were three thousand, for God was pleased to give his peculiar blessing on this first instance of the public preaching of the apostles by an extraordinary effusion of his Holy Spirit,

Whenever we apply ourselves, therefore, to the story of Paul's Conversion, let us bring with us an honest mind.

We may, if we please, « wreft this," as well as other parts of scripture, 6 to our own destruction;" but we may also draw from it, if we are so disposed, the strongest confirmation of our faith, and the greatest encouragement to repent of our fins, and to put confidence in our Saviour's mercy.



F all the subjects in religion there is none more deeply interesting than that of the general judgment. That some sort of day of reckoning will come upon the world, is what few men, I believe, have ever doubted, for it is a very natural persuasion. Some new philosophers, indeed, have attempted to teach people to the contrary, but surely it is hard to believe that there will be one event to the righteous and to the wicked, and that the groflest finner and the purest saint, the man who has indulged himself without caring how much he hurt his fellowcreatures, and he who has both done and suffered much in order to do them good, shall each, when they die, be placed in the very fame circumstances by God. No; we all are apt to agree in the general belief, that there will come

a day of judgment; the point in which we differ is, the particular mode in which the Almighty will deal with us when we are brought to trial, and the sort of preparation for it which is - necessary. Even those who profess themselves Christians, vary much from one another in this particular, for we have all our own opinions and prepossessions; and though we think that we be. lieve the Bible, yet in fact, we all, more or less, invent a day of judgment of our own, instead of feeking light from the revealed word of God.

It is the design, therefore, of the present tract, not to attempt either to interest the feelings, or to alarm the fears of the reader, by representing to him such a day of judgment as the writer's own imagination might paint, but rather to collect together what fcripture hath said on this subject. All human speculations will be avoided, and nothing will be introduced which may tend to lead the mind into uncertainties, for the great point is to know whiat we really have to expect

. “ It is appointed unto all men,” says the scripture, “ once to die, and after death the judgment.” What then is the dature of this judgment? There is no doubt, I think, that some trial is. undergone immediately after death, and that a suitable state of happiness or of misery is appointed for every one as soon as he leaves this earth. " This day," said our Saviour to the penitent thief, “ thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” But what is here meant to be spoken of

is ' rather that public and univerfal judgment which we are taught to expect at the final confummation of all things, in which God will mama nifest his mode of dealing with his creatures before his holy angels, and before all the affembled world.

The scriptures have given us many very plain notices of what is to take place on this great day, and of the rules by which God will judge us; and it is worthy of remark, that what the fcriptures teach is very agreeable to what, if our minds were free from all corrupt bias, we might naturally suppose to be the dealings of a Very wile and merciful, and at the same time, of a very righteous and holy God.

In the first place, then, I would observe, that the scriptures declare it to be an universal truth, that 66 GOD SHALL JUDGE EVERY CORDING TO HIS WORKS” Jews and Gentiles, men of every age of the world, and of every fect; men of every language and nation shall

be“ judged, every man according to his works, į for there is no respect to persons before God.”

Those, indeed, " who have been without law,” that is, those who have not had the scriptures given them, “and who have finned without law," it is said in the Romans," shall also perifh without law," while those it is added, " who have finned in the law shall be Judged by the law." Christ, we may take occasion here to remark, is ordained by God to judge us in this manner, ” for he hath appointed a day in which


he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained;" and again it is said, “ for we all must appear before the judge ment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether they be good or whether they be evil."

That we are all to be judged according to our works, is a plain and obvious first principle of religion; the scriptures, nevertheless, again and again, repeat this truth in our ears: they do so, in order, no doubt, to ground us in it thoroughly, and to prevent our so misunder standing any of the Christian doctrines, as to think they justify us in departing from this fundamental truth. Thus, for instance, it is faid again, “ To them, who by patient continuance. in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality, he shall render eternal life; but unto them that are contentious (that is, as I suppose, contentious against God) and obey not the truth, butobey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every foul of man that doeth evil, to the Jew firit, and also to the Gentile,” 66 And I saw the dead,” says St. John, “ small and great stand before God, and the books were opened, and the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hell (that is the place of departed spirits) gave up the dead that were in them, and they were judged, every man according to his works.”

When our Saviour speaks of false pretenders

« PreviousContinue »