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pious toward God; there being indeed no considera- SER M. tion, whereof the mind of man is capable, more apt to beget in him a care and conscience of what he doeth, than this; that after a very short and transitory life all his actions must undergo a strict scrutiny, according to the result whereof he shall be either approved and rewarded, or condemned and punished whereof any man being thoroughly persuaded, and anywise considering it, he cannot surely but accuse himself of extreme folly and madness, if he doth not provide for that account, and order all his practice with a regard thereto. The which use of this point God by his grace dispose us to make, for the sake of Jesus, our blessed Redeemer, to whom for ever be all glory and praise.
Now the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; Thes.v.23. and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
From thence he shall come to judge the Quick and the Dead.
THE CERTAINTY AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF
Acrs x. 42.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained by God to be Judge of quick and dead.
SERM. THESE Words are part of a sermon preached by St. Peter to Cornelius and his friends, wherein the apostle briefly declareth unto them the chief particulars in the history of Christ, together with some main points of Christian doctrine most fit for them to know; particularly he doth in these words express the point concerning the future judgment; reporting that our Lord especially did charge his apostles to preach unto the people and testify, that is, first publicly to declare and explain, then by convenient proofs, especially by divine attestations, to evince and persuade this point; the importance whereof, and eminence among other Christian doctrines, doth hence plainly appear, that the author of
our faith did make so especial provision, and gave SERM. so express charge concerning the promulgation and XXXIII. probation thereof: the which circumstance is indeed remarkable and weighty; but I shall not insist on it, meaning immediately to set upon considering the point itself, as it is here laid down in these terms; that it is he which was ordained by God to be Judge of quick and dead: in which words are couched three particulars most considerable.
1. A judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to men.
2. The Judge, by whom immediately that judgment is administered; he; Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
3. The extent of that judgment, or its adequate object; quick and dead.
These particulars I shall in order touch, inserting some material considerations about the nature and manner of this judgment, with some reasons why it should be thus managed; then I shall adjoin some practical applications.
I. There is a judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to men; that is, concerning the persons and actions of men performed in this life. How just and fit it is that there should be such a judgment, how useful and requisite the declaration thereof is upon several accounts, (for engaging men upon the practice of virtue and restraining them from vice, for the preservation and maintenance of human society, for the support and defence of religion, for the vindication of Divine Providence, and illustration of all God's holy attributes,) I have already endeavoured to declare; and in that regard I shall content myself now to say, that as upon the apparent equity
RARROW, VOL. V.
1. et p. 106.
SERM. and usefulness of this doctrine all nations commonly XXXIII. have ever embraced the general substance thereof, as Just. M. p. a fundamental principle of their religion, (all men commonly with a ready inclination having avowed it reasonable to suppose that every man after this life shall be brought unto a just and impartial bar, where his doings shall be exactly scanned, and his person answerably doomed unto a comfortable or afflictive recompense,) so our religion, in a peculiar manner, doth most expressly assert, most clearly describe, and most vigorously inculcate it, with all possible advantage, both for the clearing God's dealings and attributes, and for the excitement of men to a virtuous and pious life. The nature, manner, process, and result of the future judgment are in the holy scripture most punctually set down.
31. ii. 20. Jude 6.
1. It teacheth us, that God hath appointed a deActs xvii. terminate time for this judgment. God, saith St. Paul, hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness; that which is called the day of judgment, the last day, the day of the Lord, the great and the illustrious day; and, by signal excellency, the day; and, that day; intiThes. v. 4. mating, beside the certainty of the thing itself, the Heb. x. 25 most especial regard that men are concerned to bear
2 Tim. i.
18. iv. 8.
2. That in order to this judgment all the actions of men are with greater exactness registered in books; (the books of divine omniscience, seeing all things present, and retaining all things past, which (Job xiii. nothing can escape;) The books (it is said in the
Revelation) were opened, and the dead were judged from the things written in the books, according to
3. That, in order thereto, there shall be (effected SERM. by divine power and command) a general resurrec- XXXIII. tion of all persons, both just and unjust: The hour, Acts xxiv. saith our Lord, is coming, in which all that are in John v. 28. the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
4. That then all persons so raised shall be presented at the bar of our Lord, to answer and undergo their trial; I saw, saith St. John, the great Rev. xx. 12. and small standing before God's throne; and, We 10. must all, saith St. Paul, be made appear, and be θῆναι. set forth at the judgment-seat of Christ; and, The 10 Son of man, saith our Lord, shall sit upon the girathrone of his glory, and all nations shall be ga-Matt. xxv. thered together before him.
5. That then and there every thought, every word, every work of men shall be throughly disclosed and discussed; so that it, together with its due quality and desert, shall plainly appear; all the designs and pretences of men shall be laid bare; every case shall be considered; every plea heard and scanned; the merits of every cause weighed in an even balance, according to truth and equity; men's neglects and omissions of duty shall also come under consideration; an account will be exacted of all the talents entrusted to any man, (of the abilities, opportunities, and advantages he ever had of doing God service,) and of what improvements answerable he hath made; what men have done themselves, and what they have done by others, from the influence of their advice, their persuasion, or their example, shall be searched out and poised; God, saith St. 1 Cor. iv. 5.