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čast into the lake of fire are the living adherents of the last beast; the followers of the false prophet; the limbs of Antichrist; the woful counterpart, as they had been the mockery, of the members of Jesus. Into the lake of fire the devil himself is not cast so soon : he is shut up in the bottomless pit for a season, because God hath yet need of him for a further manifestation of His own glory, by shewing the incurable nature of sin, and the infinite love and wisdom of God in providing a ransom from such a hopeless thraldrom. This done, all evil shall be swept from the creation into the lake of fire, all things shall reflect some attribute of the Creator; Man shall shew forth the image of God, and God shall be all in all.
The kingdom of heaven about to be manifested, has its kings, its ministers, and its subjects now preparing; each class now fashioning for the station it shall then occupy; each band now learning the song it shall then sing. And while the occupants of the several regions in the kingdom of heaven are training and drawing together, the regions are being prepared for the change which must pass upon them, in order to become fit receptacles for their changed inhabitants: no longer a mixture of good and evil in the same place and the same company, but the good in regions of bliss without the admixture of evil; the bad cast out of the heavens and the earth, into the region of unmitigated woe.
At present Satan mingles with the sons of God, and false brethren weaken and divide the church. As yet we have to wrestle, not against flesh and blood alone, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Hitherto our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But the tares are even now gathering into bundles to be burned; the good grain is even now swelling to maturity in the field of the Lord, watered by the dews of heaven, and the latter rain of the Holy Spirit; and soon, very soon, shall the wheat be gathered by the Son of Man into his garner, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble; and “ The day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Again and again we are constrained to reiterate, that this day of grace, this Gospel dispensation, shall not end in a time of conversion of the nations, but in a time of judgment upon the nations of Christendom for universal lack of faith, and all but universal apostasy.
In Christendom, under the Gospel dispensation, as in Chorazin and Bethsaida by our Lord, the greatest displays of the power of God, and the fullest offers of salvation, have been made, and been rejected. Woe unto thee, Christendom! woe unto thee, Babylon ! it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for thee! For apostate
Christendom shall become the Tophet, the lake of fire prepared for the king of Babylon. Upon Idumea shall the sword of the Lord come down, upon the people of his curse, to judgment. “For the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea ; for it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.... And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch; it shall not be quenched night nor day: the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it sball lie waste" (Isa. xxxiv. ; Rev. xix. 3).
And shall this word of the Lord against Christendom fail of its accomplishment? Verily, no. “God is not a man, that he should lie; nor the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” He hath pronounced the doom of Christendom, and we cannot reverse it.
But a further revelation follows hereupon; a truth yet more difficult to receive, more revolting to carnal reasoning, more staggering to weak faith ; a truth which we have long perceived and often hinted at, but have hitherto shrunk from declaring with the certainty which our conviction warrants, and with the confidence which our faith justifies. This truth appears at first sight to be a contradiction of the preceding, but is its completion and confirmation; is the light springing out of darkness ; is redemption triumphing over the fall; is mercy rejoicing over judgment. For it may be clearly proved from Scripture, that Christendom, where the church has been so long planted, shall not only be made the eternal monument of God's righteous vengeance upon those who have rejected the Gospel, or apostatized from the faith, or blasphemed that Holy Name whereby they are called ; but shall also be made the eternal monument of the saving mercy of our God, upon those who have received the truth in the love of it: at once the throne of the glory of God, and the demonstration of his holy indignation against sin; at once the abode of the glorified saints, and the dungeon of the second death; the heavenly Jerusalem resting upon its surface, and beneath its soil the deep abyss of the lake of fire.
The attributes of God can only be understood by comparison, and the highest attributes only by contrast—the height of good contrasted with depth of evil; holiness and love in God, compared with the sin and hatred in his adversaries. In that fullest display of the character of God which is made in the person of Jesus Christ, its mystery and its glory lies in the extremity of contrast,—God, manifest in The FLESH. In the person of Christ was exhibited a far greater contrast than that of which we are treating: not merely the juxta-position without as
sociation, not merely the contrast of glorified and doomed creatures; but the ever-blessed Creator himself taking hold of a doomed creation, to stay its doom; clasping his adversaries to his bosom, and making them sops: and this by sending His own Eternal Son to stand in their stead, to become a curse for them; to endure the wrath of God the Father, who was well pleased in bruising and slaying Him !
The mystery of the person of Christ is the union of the greatest possible contrasts. The infinitely holy God became Son of Man, to stay the doom which passed upon man at the
the Eternal Fountain of Life and Joy to the universe, came into this world to suffer and to die; He who was the Brightness of the Father's Glory, and who thought it no robbery to be Equal with God, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And in the members of the body of Jesus, a mystery, and a contrast, is exhibited, only inferior to that of his own person, which hath in all things the pre-eminence. We, though helldoomed sinners, and bearing about us a body of death, are called to be sons of God, and to have our bodies temples of the Holy Ghost ! Moreover, we are called to have the mind of Christ, the
very mind of God. And whose mind has constituted the lake of fire ? who has determined that it shall be the eternal abode of the devil, and of all impenitent sinners? Is it not the infinitely merciful God? is it not the tender-hearted Jesus ? Away, then, with that puling sentimentality which affects to be more pitiful than God, who gave his Son to die, and Christ, who died for his enemies a tenderness so infinitely exceeding the conception of
Scarcely for a righteous man would one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die : but God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.'
Nerve, then, your hearts to the contemplation of this highest revelation, this completion of the purpose of God; string your harps to this loftiest note ; attune your voices to this sublimest song of praise ; while we open the scriptural grounds we have for maintaining the juxta-position of the heavenly Jerusalem and the lake of fire: and let every reader use it as a fresh motive for pressing the offer of the Gospel upon all they love, to pluck them as brands from the burning.
In all the Scriptures which treat of the day of the Lord, the joy is heightened by insisting on the contrast between the everlasting destruction of them that obey not the Gospel, and the glorification of the saints, in whom the Lord shall be admired. The nations are continually called upon to rejoice with his people, not only for mercy to them, but for vengeance on their adversaries (Deut. xxxii. 43); and heaven and earth, and all
when they see the smoke of her burning” (Jer. li. 63 ; Rev. xviii. 20; xix. 1); and the inhabitants of the new heavens and new earth, in going up to worship the Lord continually, “ shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed : for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched” (Isa. Ixvi. 24). This may suffice for the fact, that the saved and the lost, the tenants of heaven and of hell, are within sight of each other, like Dives and Lazarus in the parable of our Lord. But as in the parable there is a great gulf between the two, so the pavement of the street of the city, which is “
pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Rev. xxi. 21), divides between the heavenly Jerusalem and the lake of fire. It is transparent, to manifest what is going on beneath; and the flames there give it the colour of gold; as in another place it is called “a sea of glass mingled with fire ” (Rev. xv. 2). The same thing is declared in the prophets : “ Through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod. And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass” (the rod for measuring the foundation), “ which the Lord shall lay upon him” (the Assyrian),“it shall be with tabrets and harps : and in battles of shaking will he fight with it” (Babylon, to level it for a foundation). ”“ For Tophet is ordained of old ; yea, for the king” (the Assyrian) “it is prepared ” (Isa. xxx. 31–33). The attentive reader of this chapter cannot entertain a doubt that this chapter reveals the Lord's purpose of founding Zion, the mountain of his holiness, on the ruin of Babylon, which shall sink into Tophet, the lake of fire beneath. The same thing is declared of Moab, trodden down as straw for the dunghill (Isa. xxv. 10); and of the lofty city of Babylon, laid low beneath the Zion having salvation for walls and bulwarks; where the feet of the poor and the steps of the needy tread down them that now dwell on high (Isa. xxvi. 1–6).
In those places where the destruction of Babylon is spoken of in the strongest terms, a song of rejoicing almost always ensues, which the context obliges us to understand of the same locality. The desolation of Idumea, and its abandonment to dragons and demons (Isa. xxxiv.), is immediately followed by " the wilderness and solitary place becoming glad for them” (xxxv.): and there, even there, the redeemed shall walk, where the land hath been turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone, beneath their feet (Mal. iv. 3); "and the ransomed of the Lord shall come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." The same contrast is brought together when the Lord comes" forth from Bozrah with garments dipped in blood, the day of vengeance in his heart, and the year of his
redeemed being come ; when he shall tread down the people in his anger; and when his people shall sing, “ I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses” (Isa. Ixiii.).
The first promise after the Fall was, that the Seed of the woman should with his heel bruise the head of the serpent; and the like promise is given to all the followers of Christ: the Lord shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly (Rom. xvi. 20). “Because,” saith Christ,“ thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation....thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder ; the young lion and dragon shalt thou trample under feet” (Psa. xci. 9, 13). “ And unto you that fear the Lord shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.... And ye shall tread down the wicked ; for they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet, in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. iv. 2, 3). “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city” (of Babylon)" shall be low, in a low place” (Isa. xxxii. 18).
On the sea of glass, whence the judgments of the Lord are made manifest, shall the redeemed of the Lord sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. In this heaven shall the servants of God rejoice over the destruction of the apostate Babylon, when her smoke goeth up for ever and ever. 'In this heavenly Jerusalem, through its street transparent as glass, shall the saved ones read the holiness of God, who tabernacleth among them there; and have the same mind with him in all things, rejoicing in every thing that God has appointed, and in every thing God has done; seeing the joy of holiness and the misery of sin with the discernment of God's Spirit; shrinking from the contemplation of neither, but acknowledging, with all the heart, that all, all, is very good.
From this superiority to carnal compunctions and worldly affections, from this enlargement of our discernment to take in the whole purpose of God, and from nothing less, shall we derive sufficient motives to call incessantly upon God for the full
power of the Holy Ghost, to enlarge us into capacity to receive and strengthen us with power to execute the mighty work, the heart-rending work, which the church shall now be called to do; for brother shall be set against brother, and friend against friend.
But thus, and thus only, shall we be conformed to the image of God, be made partakers of his counsels, and have full fruition of his joy. Thus, and thus only, shall we know all the glory of God, when we see the infinitude of his holiness and the infi