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ROMANS xiv. 10. LAST CLAUSE.
"We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
We have attended to the solemn doctrine of the general resurrection. This event will be only the beginning of the grand and awful solemnities of that great day. The universal judgment will follow.
The doctrine of the judgment is brought into view in our Catechism in the answer to the 38th question.
"What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity."
The doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, as the result of a sentence passed upon men after death, was, in some form or other believed by the Hea then; though they knew nothing of him who will really be the Judge, and had very confused and wrong notions of the true nature of those rewards and punishments which will be adjudged to men; and were also entirely ignorant of a day of judgment, on which the whole world should be collected together, before the judgment seat of Christ. Their sentiments, such as they were, respecting a future judgment, were either derived from the light of nature; or else they were the faint and confused traces of early revelation, which had been preserved and handed down by tradition. Most probably, they were derived from both these sources.
But what the Heathen did or could know on this subject, but very imperfectly and obscurely, Revelation has very clearly and distinctly made known unto us. Here we are assured of an universal judgment of the collected world, on a day appointed by God, for this purpose.
Here we are informed, who will be the Judge, and what will be the manner of his appearance. And here we have the judicial process described, and the final sentence expressly stated.
The doctrine of the universal judgment was very early revealed; for as Jude informs us (vers. 14, 15.) "Enoch the seventh from Adam prophesied, saying, behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all." In the Old Testament, we have a proof of a future judgment, Eccl. xi, 9. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." And also Eccl. xii. 14. "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
But in the New Testament this doctrine is more explicitly and frequently taught; as in the following passages among others. Mat. xi. 22, 24. It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee." Mat. xii. 36, 42. "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." The queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment, with this generation, and shall condemn it." In the 25th chapter of Matthew, not only is the doctrine taught, but also the judicial process is described. Acts. xvii. 31. "He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness. 2 Cor. v. 10. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Heb. ix. 27. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." And 2 Pet. iii. 7. "But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment." These are some of the texts in proof of the doctrine that there will be a day of universal judgment.
The doctrine being established, let us next enquire who will be the Judge? The Scriptures inform us that God will judge the world; but Christ himself hath told us,
John v. 22. "The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Hence we learn that God the Son will execute the office of Judge of the world. This is clearly taught in many other passages some of which have already been quoted. It is taught in our text, "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Also Acts x. 42. "It is HE which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." Acts. xvii, 31. "He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man, whom he hath ordained." 2 Cor. v. 10. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." Rom. ii. 16. "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." And 2 Tim. iv. I. "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." Hence it is clearly evident, that the Mediator-the God Man Christ Jesus, acting in his mediatorial character, will, in the last great day, Judge the world.
The manner of his appearance will be awfully grand beyond description. It is set forth in Scripture in the most sublime manner of which human language is сараble; but human language is inadequate to represent the grandeur of the scene. "The Son of man (saith he himself Mat. xxv. 31.) shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory." Luke ix. 26. "He shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." Mat. xxvi. 64. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." "The Lord himself (saith Paul 1 Thes. iv. 16.) shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice' of the archangel, and with the trump of God." 2 Thes. i. 7, 8. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in flaming fire." "I beheld (saith Daniel vii. 9, 10.) till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." "And, I saw (saith John Rev. xx. 11.) a great white throne, and
him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." Such is the description given of the appearance of the Judge in that great day.
How different this appearance from that which he once made unto men! When he was seen in the form of a servant! When he lay an infant in the manger of Bethlehem! When he stood before the judgment bar of Pilate! And when he hung as a malefactor upon the cross! How will those then feel, who in the days of his flesh, refused to receive him as the promised Messiah, reproached and persecuted him, cried out against him, crucify him, crucify him, and condemned and put him to an ignominious death? How will those then feel who now when he is offered to them in the Gospel, neglect, or slight, or despise, or mock, or deny him? They will then still feel the same enmity and the same malice towards him, and his cause which they now do. But they must then attend to him. Every eye shall see him, and they too which have pierced him; and every ear must hear his voice. However they may hate and be filled with rage, they will not then be able to neglect, or slight, or despise, or mock, or ridicule or deny him as many now do; but filled with consternation, dread, and horror, they shall then call "to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand?" Rev. vi. 16, 17. Then shall his divinity and the truth of his religion blaze forth upon scoffers and infidels, and force conviction upon them, to their eternal confusion. This is the person, my hearers, who is now preached to you as the Saviour of sinners. Be intreated, therefore, by the dread solemnities of his appearance, in that great day, now to listen to his offers of mercy, and secure him as your friend.
As to the place where the judgment will be held we can say but little. The Scriptures seem to intimate that the extensive region of the air will be the place of judgment. For the Apostle tells us that the saints "shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." 1 Thes. iv. 17.
Before the throne of judgment, wherever it may be set, shall be gathered together that innumerable multitude
which are to be tried in that great day. The persons who shall compose the assembly, which shall in that day be collected before the judgment seat of Christ, to be tried by him, are angels and men. Whether the holy angels will be included among those whom Christ will judge in that day we know not. On this subject the Scriptures say nothing, and therefore it becomes us to be silent. But that fallen angels will make a part of those, who shall on that day be judged by Christ, the Scriptures clearly intimate. When Christ was upon earth and exercised his power over evil spirits, in casting them out from those possessed by them, they expostulated with him, saying, "art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" Mat. viii. 29. By which they evidently intimated, that they expected, Christ would at a set time, judge and condemn them to a fuller punishment than they then endured. And the day of judgment appears the most probable time for this. Besides the Apostle Peter tells us, 2 Peter ii. 4. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." And the apostle Jude, (vers. 6.) is still more express, "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." Hence it is evident that fallen angels, will make a part of that assembly, which shall in the judgment day, stand before the judgment seat of Christ. With these must be assembled all the children of men from Adam the first man down to the very last one of his numerous posterity. "We shall all"—all the human race, "stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Not one of the innumerable millions of our race, either old or young, shall be absent from that assembly in that great day.
The saints shall be collected together by the ministering angels, and by them be brought to the place of judgment. For our Saviour hath told us, Mat. xxiv. 31."And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other."The ministry of the holy angels, will also in that day extend to the wicked, and be exercised in collecting them before the judgment bar as prisoners to stand their trial,