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"When he was set down upon the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him" &c. "When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth and sat down in the judgment seat." "Made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat." "And drave them from the judgment-seat." "The next day sitting on the judgment seat, commanded Paul to be brought." "Then said Paul, I stand at Cæsar's judgment seat." "Therefore when they were come-I sat on the judgment seat "—“Herod, arrayed in his royal apparel, sat upon his throne [judgment seat] and made an oration unto them." In one case the word is used for foot's breadth, but this of course is nothing to the question. In every other instance the word is used for the place where the formal sittings of courts are held. And if they do not refer to judgment in the future world, it is because they are instances where human judges, and not Jesus Christ are the occupants. If the word when having any reference to judgment, always denotes the place for the holding of a formal court, when the judgment seat of Christ is named, it denotes the place where Christ in person will hold a formal court. Such as no one pretends has been, or will be held on this side of the grave. And the writer in the context is speaking of death and its consequences, of being absent from the body. And in the text, he uses the clause "of things done in the body." Showing the time of the judgment to be after all those things are done; after the departure from the body. Then, this is represented as a judgment at which a complete retribution is measured out, for all the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. But the temporal condition of christians at that age, was the most wretched of any class, and if the judgment was temporal, it went against the christians—and in favor of their persecutors.
2 Thes. 1: 6. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with an everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified of his saints, and to be admired of all them that believe. Mr. Balfour objects to referring the time when christians are to receive their rest, to the day of judgment, because those christians have already found their rest at the time of their death. But this surely should be no objection in his mind, who by annihilation of the soul, annihilates all time between death and the resurrection. And to us, it is no objection, since we regard the complete consummation of the believer's rest, to be reserved to that day; though their troubles cease at death. And how would Mr. B. interpret a remark of Christ parallel with this? Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake; Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven. Is not heaven here held forth as the place where saints receive their rest from persecutions, and their rewards for all endurance in the service of Christ? Although heaven according to Mr. Balfour does not begin till after the resurrection! His next objection is, that the Thesalonians were to obtain rest at the same time that God was to recompense tribulation to their troublers. Well, is not this in every sense true if we understand the passage as relating to the final judgment? Is not that the time both of the consummation of the believer's rest, and of the consummation of the recompense on the wicked. His third reason is, that Jerusalem's destruction was the scene in which Christ is said to come to be glorified of his saints. But was that the time of all others when he was to be glorified by his saints? If he was glorified, then will he not be much more glorified, and much more admired by his saints, when he brings them all to heaven? His fourth reason exceeds all the rest. Here you have it in his own words. "This very application of the word everlasting is a strong confirming circumstance in proof of the views we have advanced." That is, its being called everlasting destruction, is a circumstance strong to show that everlast
ing destruction is not meant! Having thus noticed Mr. B.'s reasons, I have one or two difficulties to state affecting his interpretations. The Jews are not mentioned in the whole epistle. Then, there is no evidence that at the time of the writing of this epistle, the Thessalonians experienced their persecutions mainly from the Jews. It is far from being probable that a little handful of Jews, in that province so distant from Palestine, afforded the church so much annoyance as to receive such a notice in this epistle, as their persecutors. And then the assumption that the Christians in all parts of the world were to receive such a glorious rest, when Jerusalem should be destroyed-that that event was followed by a grand and eternal jubilee to the church in every province, is glaringly contrary to fact. We look in vain to the history of that age, for any such luminous days to the church, as seem to figure in the fancy of Mr. B. It is certain that only sixteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem, Nero commenced his infernal persecutions, which spread as far as the Roman power, and lasted as long as his life, which ended only two years before that event. And only eleven years after that event, Domitian, whose hostility was second only to Nero's, assumed the imperial power. And surely, nothing took place in the interval answering to the descriptions of the text. Another difficulty: It was a rest with us with Paul, who was dead long before Jerusalem was destroyed. And so in the ordinary course of nature, a considerable portion of the Thessalonians must have been dead also. All then that Mr. B. has said to the contrary notwithstanding, the church may look forward to that rest which remaineth for the people of God, and the wicked be assured of an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, ministered by the same hand that consummates the rest of the righteous.
2 Tim. 4: 6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand; I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to
me only, but to all them that love his appearing. Who that had never read Mr. B. would dream of this passage, referring to the scenes of Jerusalem's destruction? But there are some matters which need explaining before we are convinced. This was said by Paul in immediate prospect of death, which would show that the crown laid up for him was a crown to be received after death. If a dying man were heard to speak of a recompense laid up for him, we should understand him as expecting it after death. Then we want evidence, as in the last paragraph, that Jerusalem's destruction was a scene of such triumph to the church-such a heaven upon earth. The Saviour speaks of it as a day of consternation and flight. And the facts answered to the prophecy-It was a day of “fleeing to the mountains," when even christians escaped with their lives, leaving as it were their garments behind for haste and consternation, and found a refuge in a little town by the name of Pella. This is the day which Mr. B.'s imagination transforms into a glorious Jubilee, a universal rest. And then Paul did not live to be crowned upon that day, nor did he expect to; for nearly twenty years before it he pronounced himself as even now ready to be offered. But Mr. B. nothing daunted by such a difficulty, will have us believe, that though dead long before, Paul was crowned at this time. He says, "We have seen it stated somewhere in the course of our reading that, it was common to crown the dead victor [in the ancient games] with his crown the same as if he had been alive. It is certain, Adam in his Roman Antiquities, p. 472. speaking of their funeral rites says, 'the couch was sometimes decked with leaves and flowers, the bedstead of ivory, and if the deceased had received a a crown for his bravery, it was now placed on his head."" Now it is somewhat strange that the man who quotes Greek and Hebrew so profusely when there is no occasion for it, should send us to "somewhere in the course of his reading" for a fact so novel, and for one on which so much depends. That a crown should be used in funeral rites as one of the trappings by which a corpse was laid out in state, in remembrance of some achievements, by which a man's life had been signalized,
is a matter familiar to every tyro. But it happens that the text before us has no allusion to funeral rites-but to the exercises of the Grecian games; and Mr. B. perhaps would have given the world some instruction if he had told us where he read, that in games which consisted in wrestling and running races, (for these were not gladiatorial exercises) men were wont to be killed-and he who was killed in a race could be the victor -and then such victors crowned after they were killed: and, after having admitted all this, we want to know in what fact consisted the crowning of Paul at the time of Jerusalem's destruction. What fact then transpired fit to be the basis of such a representation, what remembrance was made of the apostle of the Gentiles by any of the parties concerned in that tragedy? And then, admitting that his memory was some way honored there, could that be a crown laid up for him, the desire of which goes out with such a gush of emotion as is expressed in the text? Was Paul such an ambitious aspirant for posthumous fame?
Heb. 9:27. And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. The question before us is, whether there be a judgment after death. And what says the text? Here I can most conveniently express Mr. B.'s views and my own in the form of a dialogue. Balfour. One would think it a premature conclusion, that the soul is to be judged after death unless it first be proved that man has a soul. Answer. Whether it be a man's soul or body that is judged, it is here asserted that after death is the judgment. B. But this is the only text that speaks of a judgment after death, while the vast importance of the subject required, (if there be a judgment after death) that these things should stand forth in large capitals. Ans. This is not the only text that speaks of a judgment after death, as we have seen. And if it were, one assertion of the Holy Ghost should convince and satisfy us. B. Will you tell us when this judgment takes place; immediately after death or at the resurrection? Ans. It is both immediately after death and at the resurrection; in the first case in the man's own connce, and in the other amid the public formalities of a gen