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DISCOURSE XXIX.

THE FALLING AWAY, THE END OF THE WORLD, THE RESURRECTION

OF THE DEAD, AND THE LAST JUDGMENT.

Chap. xx, 7-15.

And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations, which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

It seems almost incredible, after so long and glorious a season of grace, that Satan should so recover his influence in the world, as that the number of his adherents should become as the sand of the sea !" Yet thus it is.. What is ordinarily called the religion of a people becomes a sort of national habit, to which they are attached from generation to generation. But it is not thus with true religion. There is nothing in it suited to the temper of mind with which men are born into the world. If therefore the Holy Spirit be aggrieved, and withdraw his influence but from one generation, it will be like that which succeeded the times of Joshua, that “knew not the Lord.” If in such a state of things Satan be permitted to ply with his temptations, he is certain to be successful.

“ The four quarters of the earth” prior to this must have been evangelized by the gospel; but the dragon being let loose deceives them; not by any new superstition, like that of popery ; for as

to the beast and the false prophet, they will long since have gone to perdition. It may be by a persecuting infidelity, the spirit inspired by the dragon bimself, that this last effort will be made. Having seen so much of Christianity in the world, the hearts of the wicked will rise against it, and be so far “deceived" by the wicked one as to imagine themselves capable of extirpating it from the earth.

The name given to the enemies of Christ is borrowed from the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of Ezekiel, wbere mention is made of Gog and Magog. It does not appear, however, that the prophecy of Ezekiel and Jobo refer to the same period; but that the language is merely allasive. Ezekiel's Gog and Magog seem to refer to a combination among the nations against the house of Israel, soon after their restoration to their own land and their conversion to Christ, and which will be prior to, or at the commencement of, the Millennium : but the Gog and Magog army of John is “after the thousand years are expired." The meaning may be, that like as the nations will combine against restored and converted Israel, so will the whole world of the ungodly combine to exterminate Christianity from the earth : and as the one would issue in the utter overthrow of the assailants, so would the other.

9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of Heaven, and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

As there is nothing in the account which intervenes between this and the resurrection of the dead, the “ fire that cometh down from God out of heaven" may be no other than the general con• flagration itself, spoken of by the apostles Peter and Paul The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up.-The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking ven. geance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet. iii. 10. 2 Thes. j. 8.

And now the grand mover of all the mischief which has taken place in the world, is not merely bound for a season as before, but cast into perdition, where his agents, the beast and the false prophet, are. There is no mention of their being “ tormented," because they as political bodies were incapable of it; but of him it is said he shall be “ tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Perdition to them will be oblivion ; but to him a state of everlasting punishment.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled aray; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened ; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their morks. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

A more impressive description of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment, is scarcely in the power of language. The words are simple, but the sentiments exceedingly sublime. “The language is so plain, (says Mr. BLACKWELL,) as not to need, and so majestic and grand as to exceed, commentary or paraphrase.” But it is not for us to stand admiring the language till we overlook the event itself.

Lo, the dead, both “small and great, stand before God!" young and old, rich and poor, all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. None are so insignificant as to be overlooked ; none $0 mighty as to escape : the governers and the governed, the parent and the child, the master and the servant, the oppressor and the oppressed, the preacher and the hearer, all must give an account of themselves to God!

Men, owing to the imperfection of their knowledge, and of their memories, make use of "books :" but God's infinite knowledge requires no such assistance. It is merely in allusion to human proceedings that this is spoken. His memory is itself the book from which he will judge the world.

Believing sinners are justified by grace: but both believers and unbelievers will be judged “ according to their works." Those who have sinned without the light of revelation, will be judged by the light of nature. Those who have sinned against revelation will be judged by it, according to the light they had, or might have had. Believers themselves, though not dealt with according to their deserts, (for they will “obtain mercy of the Lord in that day!") yet their works will be censured or approved according to what they were. Their sinful works will be burnt up, though they themselves are saved ; and as to their good works, though there be nothing in tbem deserving eternal life, or furnishing the least ground for boasting, yet will they be admitted as eridences ju their favour. Matt. xxv. 31–40.

There have been many days of judgment, as it were, in miniature, but this will be universal. Whether men have died at sea, or on land ; and whatever hecame of their bodies, wbether slain in battle, devoured by beasts of prey, or decently interred in their graves, all will rise and be judged. Ver. 13.

“ Death and hell (or the grave ) were cast into the lake of fire." Death and the grave are things which belong to time, and which, as rivers are lost in the ocean, will now be swallowed up in eternity. Prior to the day of judgment the ungodly were confined under their power as in a prison ; but having received their doom they shall not be remaiided thither, but shall go away into everlasting punishment. " This is the second death." Into this dreadsul abyss all will be cast, as the just punishment of their sins, excepting those whose names are " written in the book of life.” An interest in the salvation of Christ is the only security against eternal death.

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