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water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 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, and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God is not slack in fulfilling his promise to judge the world, in the sense of these objectors. For he neither alters his purpose, nor remits his operations, but constantly employs the whole creation in preparing things for the day of judgment. But his plan is so great and extensive, that a thousand years bears no more proportion to the time necessary to accomplish it, than one day bears to the time necessary to accomplish any human design. Though he moves all the wheels of nature as fast as they can be moved, yet ages must roll away before he can finish his great work, and prepare all intelligent creatures for the retributions of eternity. The whole course of providence, instead of weakening, serves to confirm the apostle's reasoning against the criminal and dangerous infidelity of scoffers, and plainly teaches us this solemn and important truth:
That God is preparing all things, as fast as possible, for the day of judgment.
We live in the last days, in which scoffers have actually come, who not only call in question the inspiration of the scriptures, but the immortality of the soul and a future day of retribution. If there be indeed such a solemn day approaching, it is much to be desired that this truth should be set in so clear and strong a light, as to carry irresistible conviction to every mind. And I cannot but hope the following considerations will convince the understanding and conscience of every person, that God is preparing all things, as fast as possible, for the day of judgment.
1. God has but one supreme end in all his works. This end he proposed before the foundation of the world. To this end he has had an eye, in every step he has taken in creation, providence and redemption. And ihis end is to be completely unfolded and accomplished at the day of judgment. Ail things tend to that day, as to their centre and final issue. Then all intelligent and accountable creatures will be prepared for, and fixed in that state for which they were originally and eternally intended. All the subordinate designs of the Deity stand related to, and connected with his supreme ultimate design, which he can never relinquish, nor be slack to accomplish. The reason why
men are ever slack in pursuing their ultimate design is, because they either give it up, or make it subordinate to some other ultimate design. They often alter their minds in respect to their ultimate end, and the means to accomplish it; which often retards, and sometimes prevents their finally obtaining their supreme object. But God never alters his mind in respect to his ultimate purpose, and the means to attain it. There is no new or superior object in the universe to divert his attention, or excite his exertions. If he pursues any thing he must pursue his original ultimate design, and carry it forward as fast as possible. He cannot be slack as men are, through weakness, despondency, or mutability of purpose. He cannot, for a moment, let his great work stand still, or go backward, but is morally obliged to carry it on, with as much constancy and rapidity as the nature of his supreme purpose will admit. There is just as much reason to believe that he will prepare all things as fast as possible for the day of judgment, as there is to believe that he had any supreme or ultimate end in creation.
2. The heart of God is wholly set upon the great design to be accomplished at the great day. He formed this design from eternity, and in preference to all other possible designs. His heart, to speak with reverence, is bound up in it, and all his felicity flows from it. He has no other source of happiness than the consummation of his eternal purpose, which he purposed in Jesus Christ, and which will be consummated at the last day. The Lord of hosts is far more zealous to attain the object of his supreme affection, than any of mankind ever were to attain the objects of their highest wishes. His supreme affection as far surpasses the supreme affection of his most exalted creatures, as his natural perfections surpass their natural abilities. He must, therefore, prepare all things as fast as possible, for the attainment of the object of his supreme and infinitely ardent affection. He must cause the immensely numerous events of providence to follow one another, without the least intermission, or interruption, until they finally usher in the judgment of the great day.
3. God is able to prepare all things for this most important and desirable event, without the least delay. He is able to pursue his great design, with perfect case and constancy. He can work, and none can let it. Men often meet with difficul. ties and obstacles which they cannot surmount, and which retard, or prevent the accomplishment of their designs as soon as they intended and desired. Or if they meet with no external obstructions, their exertions are laborious and wearisorne, and require them to take time to recruit their exhausted strength. But the Almighty is liable to no such impediments or relaxa.
tions. He can do every thing with perfect facility. His power consists altogether in his will. Whatever he wills should exist, exists instantaneously. He said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” He commanded, and all things existed and stood fast. And by the same word of his power, or exercise of his will, he constantly preserves and governs all his creatures and all his works. His omnipotent arm never becomes weak or weary, by the most incessant and powerful exertions in upholding the weight, and controlling the affairs of the whole universe. “ Hast thou not known ? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary?” We cannot conceive of any reason or cause, why the omnipotent Deity should not pursue his ultimate design as fast as possible, and accomplish it as soon as possible. Hence we are constrained to believe that he is operating in every part of the universe, as fast as possible, to prepare all his intelligent creatures for their great and last account.
4. There is no more reason to think that God will be slack, in fulfilling his promise of coming to judgment, than to suppose that he has been slack in fulfilling other promises of far less importance. He promised to destroy the old world; but he was an hundred and twenty years in preparing things for that awful catastrophe. He promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan; but he was four hundred years in preparing his seed and the seven devoted nations for that interesting event.
He promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; but he was four thousand years in preparing the way for the coming and death of the promised Messiah. Though God was long, yet he was not slack in fulfilling these promises. He undoubtedly prepared things as fast as possible, for the accomplishment of them. And there is precisely the same ground to believe that, though God has employed several ages past, and may employ several ages to come, in preparing the way for fulfilling his promise concerning the great day, yet he will prepare all things for it as fast as possible. The steady succession of day and night, summer and winter, and the rapid revolutions and changes in the natural and moral world, afford a constant and increasing evidence that God is pursuing his ultimate end in creation, and preparing all things as fast as possible for the great concluding scene. To confirm this, and all the preceding observations, I may add,
5. That God has all means, instruments, and secondary causes in his hand, to accomplish his purpose and promise of coming to judge the world in righteousness. As he has made all things for himself, and fitted them for his use, so he con
stantly employs all things in his service. He makes use of every creature and of every object which he has brought into existence, as a voluntary or involuntary instrument of preparing the way for the final settlement of all the concerns of all moral beings.
We know that he directs all the motions and changes in the material creation, in reference to his supremne and ultimate design. Inspiration tells us that “while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease." The sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the ocean, and all the elements, are so many instruments, which he can and will continually employ in his service to the end of time. And it is easy to conceive, from the use he has made of those material objects heretofore, what important events he may bring about, and what important purposes he may answer by their instrumentality in time to come.
By his common providence, without any special or miraculous interpositions, he may cause fire and hail, snow and vapors, gentle showers, stormy winds, and rolling billows, to fulfil his word, and prepare the way for the closing scene of time.
All the animal species, as well as inanimate objects, are under his constant and supreme direction; and we may be assured that he will employ them as instruments of carrying forward his ultimate design to the end of the world. He made them to serve his purposes in this world only, and when the present material system is dissolved, they will cease to exist. But till that period arrives he will use them as the rod of his wrath, or the ministers of his love. He employed frogs, and fies, and serpents, and the meanest insects, to prepare the king and kingdom of Egypt for ruin. He employed ihe ravens to feed Elijah, and the fish to supply Peter, and the colt to serve Christ. God is still the owner of all the fowls of the mountains, of all the wild beasts of the field, and of all the cattle upon a thousand hills, and has an absolute right to dispose of them to serve the purposes of his providence. Nor can there be the least ground to doubt whether he will employ the whole animal creation, to prepare the way for the accomplishment of his supreme and ultimate end in all his works.
And we ought to consider farthermore, that God continually employs all intelligent creatures, as the free and voluntary instruments of carrying into execution his original and supreme purpose in the creation of the universe. He made use of Satan to bring about the fall of man and the death of Christ. He employs evil spirits to prepare the wicked for the day of evil. And he employs the holy angels to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation. He also employs rulers and subjects,
ministers and people, parents and children, masters and servants, and every son and daughter of Adam, to prepare one another for their future and final state. Such numerous and various means, instruments, and secondary causes God is continually employing, to prepare things for the day of judgment. And now can there be any just ground to imagine that he is slack concerning his promise, or that he will never fulfil it? Did not Noah give sufficient evidence to the ungodly world of their approaching destruction, by the men and means which he employed, for an hundred and twenty years, in preparing the ark for the safety of himself and family? Did not Solomon give abundant evidence that he would finish the temple, while he employed so many thousand hands, year after year, in preparing materials for that large, elegant, and superb structure ? But do not the vastly greater preparations which God is constantly making for the day of judgment, give us far more clear, striking, and infallible evidence that he will bring about that unspeakably awful and joyful event as soon as possible?
This subject now suggests some important things, which call for our most serious attention.
1. The great preparations which God is making for the last day, give us just ground to expect that when it comes, it will be a most solemn and important event. If it should bear a proper proportion, in point of solemnity and importance, to the time and means employed in preparing for it, it will unspeakably surpass, in solemnity and importance, all other scenes which have ever taken place, or ever will take place, in time or eternity. Accordingly the apostle, with peculiar propriety and emphasis, calls it the great day. The circumstances, the business, and the consequences of it, will all unite to render it solemn and interesting beyond the present conception of men and angels. 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; and the earth shall be burned up. The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. Then shall the Son of Man sit upon the throne of his glory, with all the holy angels with him, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall sep. arate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats, and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the books, which contain the records of time and eternity will be opened. Then every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, will be brought into judgment. Then whatever had been covered,