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The Lord will bring to light the hidden things of dark. nefs, and make manifeft the counfels of the hearts.
How hearts will be opened to view, we know not. Perhaps when the veil of flesh is removed, minds may poffefs an intuitive knowledge of each other-be able to look into one another, as while in the body, they look into themselves. Here, this is mercifully prevented; but may be no longer neceffary in another state of exiftence. It may be requifite, to that investigation of characters which we are taught to expect at Chrift's coming. For it is the language of the text, and other Scrip. tures, that every impediment to the complete knowledge of each other, will then be done away; that no person's character will longer remain problematical. The hidden works of darkness will be brought to light, and the counfels of the hearts made manifeft.
ASTONISHING fcenes of wickedness will then, no doubt, be disclosed. Probably each one will difcover things in himself which he had not fufpected-depravity, unfairness, difingenuity, the bare fufpicion of which by others, would be refented as affrontive.
WHEN the prophet forewarned Hazael of the cruelties which he would exercise when he should be king of Syria, his nature seemed to revolt-he could not suspect himself capable of fuch enormities. "But what! is thy fervant a dog?" But all was verified when he had afcended the throne!
BUT though a world of hidden iniquity will appear when the counfels of the hearts fhall be made
manifeft. Good things will alfo be opened to view which had till that day been concealed-yea, III. SOME things commendable will be found in all. Then fhall every man have praise of God.
ALL are finners. "There is none good but one, that is God. Some "are finners exceedingly." Some will continue fuch till they fhall have time no longer-die as they have lived, and be sentenced to "have their part in the lake of fire-which is the fecond death."
Bur though numbers of this description will be found when the Lord comes, it is prefumed that there will be none among them in whom there will be nothing commendable-who will never have done a praife worthy action.
WHEN "every work is brought into judgment and every fecret thing, whether it be good or evil," every thing commendable which hath been done by the wicked, will come into the reckoning. Nothing will be overlooked, because done by finners. The prejudices inherent in mankind often render them blind to what is commendable in an enemy, and caufe them to magnify his failings; but not fo the Deity. God is perfect. "The way of man will he render unto him," whatever may be his general character.
THE faints are not equal in virtue and the attainments of grace. Therefore the differences which will be made among them. When they shall stand before the Judge, their whole proba tion, with all its circumftances, will be reviewed, and every praise worthy purpose, defire and ac
tion, will be confidered and rewarded. On the other hand, every neglect of duty and every deviation from it, will come into the account and make deduction from the weight of glory reserved for them.
AND among the enemies of. God, fome will be found greater finners than others-to have finned longer-against greater lights, and to have been guilty of more and greater crimes. To fuch will be referved the greater weight of woe. In order to these discriminations their whole probation will be confidered. And in thofe on whom sentence of condemnation will pafs, the righteous judge will take due notice of every pause which they fhall have made in the ways of fin-of every infance in which they may have denied themselves, out of regard to the divine authority, though it may have been out of fear of God's judgments, and of every act of kindness done by them, to a fellow creature. Every thing of this nature, will be confidered, and make fome deduction from the punishment which would otherwise have been inflicted on them. The judge will pafs nothing of this kind unnoticed, condemning the finner to the fame degree of suffering, as though it had not been found upon him. A cup of cold water given to a disciple of Chrift, will not lofe its reward.*
"HEROD feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and obferved him; and when he heard him he did many things, and heard him gladly." Herod's punishment will not be, in
Matthew x. 42.
every respect, the same, as though he had paid no attention to John's teaching. He will not be pun. ished for refufing to hear John, when he did hear him, or for refufing to do, what he did do, in compliance with his counsel: Though he will be condemned as, eventually the murderer of that holy man. His partial obedience might be extorted by fear; but this is preferable to disobedience; oth erwise fear would not be urged as a motive to obe. dience. "Fear him who is able to deftroy foul and body in hell." If preferable to disobedience, a difference will be made between thofe who obey from no higher principle, and those who disobey.
HERE God certainly makes a difference between them. When Rehoboam humbled himself in the time of his affliction, "the wrath of the Lord turned from him that he would not deftroy him: And alfo in Judah things went well." But his repent ance was not unto life. The character given him at his death is that of a wicked man.
WHEN Ahab, affrighted by the preaching of Elijah, as he was going to take poffeffion of the vineyard of murdered Naboth, "humbled himself and walked foftly:" God fignified his approbation of his legal repentance and partial amendment, in preference to his former courfe; though he afterwards cut him off in his fins.
THESE are unequivocal evidences that partial obedience, though dictated by the fervile principle of fear, is preferable, in divine estimation, to allowed difobedience. God makes a difference in his treatment of people here, on this account;
fufpends his judgments, and mitigates fomewhat of their severity, where he fees this kind of relenting in finners. If God doth this here, is there not reason to believe that he will do it hereafter: The rules of divine administration are doubtless uniform in time and eternity. Where he gives a comparative preference here, he will do the fame here. after.
So we obferve our Savior noting things commendable in fome who did not belong to his king. dom. When the young ruler who came to inquire what he should do to inherit eternal life, declared that he had kept the commandments from his youth up, he was viewed with comparative approbation." Then Jefus beholding him, loved him.” It is not conceivable that his partial conformity to the divine law had not made him to differ from those who had allowedly difregarded it-that his character was as bad as theirs-though he foon made it evident that the one thing needful was not found upon him.*
SOME fuppofe that the unrenewed can do nothing but fin againft God with all their might-that every purpose of their hearts is neceffarily enmity against him, and all their volitions and actions determined oppofition to his law and government: But we conceive that neither Scripture, nor experience juftify the fuppofition-that were fuch their ftate, they would be in no degree, the fubjects of moral government, and would not be addreffed of God as moral agents.
* Mark x. 17, &c.