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to inquire. But certain it is, that there is nothing in the whole course of human affairs, nothing that can enter the imagination of man, so great, so extraordinary as those concluding scenes, to which St. Paul had called the attention of Felix, reasoning on the necessity of a Life of Righteousness* and a Judgment to come; in order to be prepared for the last Advent of Christ our Saviour, and he able to stand the general Conflagration of the World we inhabit.
If we could figure to ourselves those scenes— the New Jerusalem shining high above us, Tophet flaming far below us; the glorious Judge ascending his Throne of Glory, with his Militant Thousands of holy Angels around Him; all Nations gathering before Him, which He separateth one from the other, as a Shepherd dividcth his Sheep from the Goats; setting the Sheep on His Right Hand, and the Goats on His Leftf, in awful expectation of that Sentence, which is to doom them to endless Happiness or Misery ; if we could draw these pictures in our minds in true and lively colours, we should scarcely ever be able to attend to any thing else, or divert our imagi
* The Character of Felix was a very bad one, for all manner of unrighteousness, as Tacitus informs us—far omnem Saevitiam ft LibUincm jut regium exercuit—He practised' all manner of Crue'ty and Intemperance, in the Administration of the Government; thinking that he might commit (cuncta Malefacta imbune) all kinds of Wickedness without Punishment; and therefore it is no wonder that St. Paul's arguments concerning a future Judgment and Punishments to come, made him tremble.—Josephus informs us that Brasilia, the wife of Felix, was no better than himself; that she deserted her husband King Isis, to marry a Heathen Felix, doing evil, and defying the Lavit of her Country.
\See Wbitby's Commentary.
t St. Matt. Ch. XXV.
nations from such awful subjects! For what can ever affect us in this world, if Heaven and Hell, all in motion—the greatest Glory united with the greatest Terror, have not this effect? For, however much this blessed Jesus has been despised on earth, and his Holy Doctrines, rejected of men; the day I speak of, will come—a Day, O Felix! when he shall shew himself to be the Son of God, with Power! For it concerns the honour of his Government, that there should be an Account and Judgment to come! In this world, all things come alike unto all men. There is one Event to the Righteous and to the Wicked, to the Clean and to the Unclean, to him that Sweareth, and to him who Feareth an Oath! But in that last Judgment, whereof I speak, Justice shall be done to every one; each doubtful case shall be cleared up, and the Ways of God vindicated to Man! All the present Mazes of Providence shall then be penetrated and laid open. Secret Wickedness, deep Disguise, Dissimulation and Guilt, shall then be unveiled! Concealed and persecuted Goodness shall be lifted up and rewarded, and flagrant Villainy punished!
As the Circumstances attending this last Judgment will be terrible, so will the Preparations for it be awfully alarming! When the Son of God rises from his Throne to come to Judgment, the whole world of invisible Spirits will attend his progress. At the Voice of the Archangel, and the Sound of the Trump of God—the Dead shall hear, and shall rise and marshal themselves, obedient to the summons. Those who lived some thousand years ago, and those who live in the present day—the Mighty and the Weak, the Conquerors and Conquered; and Thou, O Felix! and thy imperial Master, Csesar, and Alexander, and all the Names of hoar JR^nown, $hall be crouded into one promiscuous innumerable Throng; while the Earth, as if wearied of its ancient inhabitants, for whose sake it had \onggroaned under the Curse of Heaven, shall sink under^their feet, wrapt up in devouring Flame, and pass away with a great noise!
Now comes forth the Ancient of Days in all his Glory and his Father's Glory! Enrobed in a Cloud of Light which will eclipse all other created Light; His Head encircled with a radiant Bow, His Face brighter than the Sun's Glory, His Legs as Pillars of Fire, the eternal Book of the Councils of God, displayed on High, as His heavenly Banners, He rides forth sublime on the wings of the Wind; a fiery stream issues before him to clear his way. His Seat assumed, thus he opens the awful Process:—
"Hear, ye assembled nations! attend to the voice of your Judge, before whom all your thoughts and actions lie naked and open, from the Foundation of the World to the present Day!
"I divested myself of my Glory, which I had with the Father from eternity; and came down to preach the Gc-spel of Peace and Salvation to all the fallen Race of Man. I revealed to you a Scheme of atonement for Sin, and a method of Reconciliation to God. I opened the prospects of Life and Immortality before you; and I provided a supply of my Word and sound Doctrine to remain with you through every Age of
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the World. I charged my holy Angels to minister unto you in Truth and Good. My Divine Spirit was ever touching your Spirits with all Holy Influences. I appointed your own Consciences as my Vicegerent within you, to be your constant Monitor and Guide.
"Come now, ye whose Souls can testify within you, that you have made some improvement of these advantages, and have repaired your failings, by speedy Repentance, and turning to my Divine Mercy—" Come ye in glorious Ranks, and be seated on my Right Hand! But ye who have neglected and despised all these advantages, who have trampled my Mercies under foot, and have counted the Blood of the Covenant, whereby you were to be sanctified, an unholy thing—Go ye to my Left Hand. Be ye divided from the faithful Multitude on my Right, as a Shepherd divides his Sheep from the Goats. To you, ye faithless, is reserved the Sentence of Condemnation, prepared for the Devil and his Angels, from the beginning of the World."
Such an account, on a subject so new and interesting, as a future arraignment of all the World for the deeds done in the Body, at the Bar of an Omnipotent All-seeing, Righteous Judge, it may be well believed, filled the Mighty Felix with terrible apprehensions. He Shook, he Trembled, he fell into dreadful alarm, as hath been noticed from the sacred Text before; and lest he should betray the dignity of his Rank and Office, and become unmanned on his Judgment-Seat, he was glad to frame an excuse, "Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee!"
The vanity of such an excuse as this, I hope there will be little occasion to enlarge upon, after what I delivered on the subject, in a former discourse.
"A more convenient Season! To-morrow, and again to-morrow, or any succeeding portion of our time—these are not ours of a certain. Amidst the constantMonitors of the uncertainty of Things here— to keep, day after day, hanging on to-morrow; to behold our short Glass of Life ebbing and shaking to its last sands; Friend after Friend torn from our Bosoms; and yet we still defer our main chance—Oh! this is the height of all Infatuation!"—
My next, or ninth Discourse will be in part a continuation and conclusion of this great Subject of a future Judgment, as treated of by sundry of the most eminent Divines of our Church, and some learned foreign writers.