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dertake to prove he did not take away the sin of the world!” Had I, Sir, undertook such a task, I should have been embarrassed, distressed, and confounded. I could not set my face against the phalanx embodied against me, were I not on all sides defended by a “ thus saith the Lord.”
Stranger. Alas! alas! I know not who will support this testimony when you are gone.
M. Nor I, Sir, but I am convinced the God who sent me, is able to send out others, abundantly better qualified to defend his cause. He will not leave himself without a witness.
Stranger. Are you, my dear Sir, never perplexed by doubts?
M. No, Sir, as long as I believe the authority of divine revelation, or the being of a God, or the existence of my soul in a future state, when it shall depart from this body, so long I shall believe, without wavering, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; so long I shall be firmly persuaded, that it is the will of God all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth, and so long I shall be confident, that the will of God will fully and finally prevail over all opposition, for he ruleth in the armies of heaven, and every where performeth all his pleasure.
Stranger. I bless God on your behalf, my brother: and although convinced for myself, there are many scriptures that I am unable to understand, among which, the conclusion of the 25th of Matthew is most prominent, and, to confess the truth, I find many of your hearers with whom I have conversed, unable to give an idea of that portion of God's word; they seem to shrink from it, or would willingly leap over it.
M. And, Sir, if they did leap over it, they would but imitate their opponents, who are necessitated to evade, or pass over, a great part of the Bible. I regret, however, that any of my hearers should be at a loss for the sense of that very plain passage; for, give me leave to assure you, if I were called upon by all the clergy of this continent, to defend by scripture, the gospel of our Saviour, I do not know any single portion of holy writ, which I would prefer to the conclusion of the 25th chapter of Matthew: and, to the honour of the Divine Being be it spoken, I am not obliged to bring it, as the professed advocates for revelation generally do; for the purpose of making a great part of the Bible a palpable falsehood. Thus it is frequently introduced. When we say Jesus is the Saviour of all men, the 25th of Matthew is brought to prove he is not ; when we say he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, the 25th of Matthew, they exclaim, confutes this idea. When we declare the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, the 25th of Matthew is brought forward, to prove our testimony false. And thus to whatever sentence we produce as a voucher for the sovereign universal grace of God, this redoubtable passage, is supposed to contain an incontrovertible negative. But we have not so learned Christ. We confidently believe the scriptures are all yea and amen to the glory of God, by Him who is the Saviour of the body. We think that this divine passage is so far from militating with any sacred record, that we view it as a glorious confirmation of every consolatory testimony, and this is made plain to our understanding when we consider,
1st. Who are the subjects of the general judgment. 2d. The sentence pronounced upon those subjects.
1st. Who are the subjects of the general judgment? They are two distinct characters of sinners, held up under the figure of sheep and goats. The character of the judge points out his near relation to the sheep. He is described under the figure of a shepherd, whose property the sheep are: and when he shall come in the clouds of heaven with power, (which by the way is the day of his power, of which we just now had occasion to speak,) and great glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall be gathered before him all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, (not one sheep from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep upon his right hand, but the goats on his left.
It is observable that sheep are every where, throughout the sacred writings, held up as a figure of the fallen human nature. Like sreep they go astray ; our Saviour was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but he saith, he has other sheep, which are not of this fold, and those also, he graciously declares he must bring in. Further, even when they are restored to the true shepherd, and bishop of souls, still we find them described by the same unvarying figure, they are still sheep, so that it becomes evident there are wandering, and there are restored sheep.
But the sheep are not more certainly considered, by the inspired writers, as figurative of the fallen human nature, than the goat is of the fallen angelic nature. Persons conversant in the Hebrew
language, inform us that the Hebrew word, rendered by our translators Devil, is, strictly speaking, Goat ; and, they add, it was in ancient times supposed that evil spirits presented themselves in the form of goats. Our Saviour, to whom the term angel is frequently applied, and who is emphatically styled the angel of the covenant, uniting the divine and human nature, and offered up for the sins of the people, is, himself, in this expiatory transaction, Leviticus xvi. figured, in reference to his divine nature, by the goat on which the Lord's lot fell; while the scape goat, to whom the restitution of all things, will ultimately return every evil, of every description, is, in the margin of my Bible, denominated Azazel, another title for the adversary of mankind; and this Azazel, we are assured, shall bear these evils, into a land not inhabited.
But, in the great day of decision, he shall say to them on his right hand. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter ye into the kingdom prepared for you, from before the foundation of the world.” Yes, indeed, those seated on the right hand were the blessed of the Father, and this from the foundation of the world; and although wandering, going astray, they had forfeited their right to the kingdom of heaven, for in truth they were deplorably bewildered, every one pursuing his own way, yet at this period, they are brought back by the great shepherd and bishop of souls: for while they were yet sinners they were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and so blessed by the Father, that he gave them his Son, that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed. It was therefore, that while the sheep, all of them, were going astray, the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all. Wherefore ? That wc may be all ultimately restored to the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world. These were the nations on the right hand.
But who then are those on the left hand, which the shepherd divideth from the sheep?
Undoubtedly goats; yes, we repeat, if the human sinners are described by the metaphor sheep, the angelic sinners are described under the metaphor goat. In this metaphor there is great propriety, for as goats are mischievous, driving, and harassing the sheep, so these angels, who kept not their first estate, have always been industriously employed in tormenting the human nature. Until this predicted period, they will continue to intermingle with the individuals of mankind, working in their hearts, and so rendering them children of disobedience.
But at this splendid era, they will be separated one from the other; the sheep from the goat; the man from the Devil ; the evil spirit from the heart in which he worked ; every sufferer shall be separated from his body of sin and death : Luke xvi. « Two men shall be in one bed.” Observe, not three. Every person clothed in flesh, is more or less under the dominion of that man of sin, who made the world a wilderness. The redeemed shall be separated from the fallen angel, whose nature our Emmanuel passed by. “ The sheep from the goat; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left."
But the Shepherd addresses himself to one description of sheep, upon his right hand; I say to one description, for he doth not address them all, he speaks of some, and to others. He says to some, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in :
“ Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw ve thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“ Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"
And the King shall answer, and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
The least of his brethren were those spoken of; those who were benefited by these charities, who partook the food, whose thirst was slaked, who were covered with the garment ; those who were sick, strangers, and in prison, not those who tendered them consolation. Thus, as I said, he spake to some, and of others.
Who were those he spake to, and who were those he spake of?
The Redeemer himself, in his sermon on the mount, answers this question, Matthew v. 19, after many divine precepts, precepts which exhibited the full perfection of his characters, he adds
« Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
It is thus we determine who the least in the kingdom of heaven are; and even these, the meek and lowly Jesus was not ashamed to call his brethren. Assuredly not, for he was made in their likeness, he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Whatever is done for the most heinous offender, our Saviour considers as done to himself! for he bowed the heavens, assumed the nature, and died for that offender; and having bought the transgressor with so great a price, and when he was lifted up from the earth, having drawn this sinner unto himself, whatever was done unto him as belonging to Jesus, he considered as done to himself; and placed on the seat of judge ment, he will, on the appointed day graciously render his acknowledgements. Nor can any thing which may happen in this state of vicissitudes, prevent the whole of the stray sheep from inheriting the kingdom prepared for them, before the foundation of the world. But as they were all blessed in their first head, Adam, and as the Father that blessed them in him in Eden, after they had fallen, sware unto Abraham, that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed; then, in that great day of restitution, when the top stone is to be brought forth with shouting grace, grace unto it. The kingdom will be delivered up unto God the father, that God may be all in all.
But we will turn to those on the left hand, and
2d. The shepherd of the sheep will say to these goats, “ Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Thus every thing shall be according to the former preparation. The blessing pronounced on our nature in the beginning is confirined in the end, and the reason is urged.
“ For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me not in : naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prision, and ye visited me not.
“ Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
“ Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inas. much as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
They shall say, Lord, for by his Omnipotent power, they shall be obliged to own him Lord of all.
Such is the malignity of fallen spirits, as effectually to prevent VOL. I.