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was given of the rule of judgment, sufficiently clear to the humble student of scripture, thoughothers may mistake or pervert it. In this view of it the whole is obvious, and coincides with other testimonies of the sacred writers. “We know that we have passed from death “ unto life, because we love the brethren."* "
“Seeing ye have purified your hearts through the Spirit, un“ to unfeigned love of the brethren; see that ye love “ one another with a pure heart fervently; being born “ again—by the word of God.”+ “ If a brother or " sister be naked, or destitute of daily food, and one “ of you say, depart in peace, be ye warmed and fill
, “ ed; notwithstanding ye give them not those things “ which are needful for the body; what doth it profit?" “My little children, let us not love in word, neither " in tongue, but in deed and in truth: and hereby we
know, that we are of the truth, and shall assure our “ hear tbefore him.”I So that love of the brethren, shewn in active kindness, is uniformly required as evi. dence of our faith in Christ and love to his name.
These reflections elucidate the following scriptures also, and are confirmed by them. “ Know, O vain
man, that faith without works is dead.” “ The
grace of God that bringeth salvation--teacheth us, " that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we “ should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this
present world; looking for that blessed hope, and * the glorious appearing of the great God, and our “ Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, to
* i John iii. 14.
Jam. ii. 15, 16. Vol. I.
+ 1 Pet. i. 22, 23. I John iii. 18, 19.
“ redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify to himself “ a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”*
One most solemn and affecting passage still remains to be considered: “ The Lord Jesus shall be revealed “ from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on " them that know not God, and that obey not the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be
punished with everlasting destruction, from the pre“sence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; “ when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and " to be admired in all them that believe.”+ We are here expressly informed, that at the day of judgment all will be condemned, who have not known God, and obeyed the gospel; but how many persons of moral character and external respectability will be found in that company! No exceptions, however, are intimated; the saints, even those that believe, will alone stand accepted by the Judge; and all else will be punished with everlasting destruction from his presence.
I shall conclude this part of the subject, with the words which Christ spake to his servant John, “Be“ hold I come quickly, and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, “ the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his “ commandments, that they may have a right to the “ Tree of life, and may enter in through the gates in“ to the city.”Ị But to whom does the title and privilege of the Tree of life belong? Surely to the true
* Tit. ii. 11-14.
† 2 Thess. i. 5-12. # Rev. xxii. 12-14.
believer, who loves Christ, and keeps his commandments. “Ye are my friends,” says he, “ if ye
do “ whatsoever I command you.'
This view of the subject harmonizes the whole scripture, and reconciles those parts which seem to be contrary to each other: but when this centre of unity is overlooked, men either “ go about to establish their " own righteousness," or run into antinomianism. These two extremes are the Scylla and Charibdis, the fatal rock or dreadful whirlpool, of our perilous voy-' age.
I have therefore endeavoured to mark out the safe passage between them; and may the Holy Spirit guide us at a distance from these, and all other dangers, on the right hand and on the left! We proceed then,
III. To state more explicitly, and shew more pre, cisely, the rules of judgment, as delivered in the sacred oracles.
It is most evident, that the scripture was intended principally for those who bestow pains to understand it: and this obvious reflection illustrates the propriety of the descriptions there given of the great decisive day; for they certainly relate almost exclusively to those who profess the religion of the Bible. We cannot therefore infer any thing from these descriptions, concerning those who have not been favoured with revelation, or have rejected it: though other scriptures give some light on the subject. The holy law is the unalterable rule of right and wrong, in respect of all men however distinguished: nor is it possible, that God should judge of characters and actions by any other rule; for the law is the exact reflection of his in
finite holiness, and he cannot deny himself. He cau, however, pardon the guilty, and make allowance for unavoidable disadvantages. “ They who know not “ the will of God and do it not, shall be beaten with “ few stripes: but they who know and refuse to do “ his will shall be beaten with many stripes."* It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for So. dom and Gomorrah, than for those who heard the doctrines and saw the miracles of Christ, and did not repent and believe the gospel.
The apostle therefore adds, a few verses after the text; “ as many as have sinned without law shall also
; “perish without law.” They have indeed violated the perfect rule of duty: but, as they had not the ad. vantage of the written word, they will not be liable to so heavy a condemnation, as wicked Jews and Christians: yet as they acted against the dictates of their own reason and conscience, those remains of the law originally written in the heart, they “ will perish with.
out law." For “being a law to themselves,” their consciences may indeed excuse some parts of their conduct, but they must condemn others; especially in the day, when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ: so that “every mouth will be stopped, “ and all the world become guilty before God.”+ All, except idiots (who scarcely can be thought accountable creatures), know far better than they practise, and might know much more, were not their hearts set against the truth through love of sin. All men must therefore be condemned according to this
* Luke xii. 47, 48,
† Rom. iii. 19.
rule and the number, and aggravation of their crimes, compared with the measure of their advantages, is the standard, by which their punishment will be ascertained, by the infinitely righteous Judge.
What the Lord may do in mercy to any of his sinful creatures, it does not become us to enquire, beyond what he hath seen good to reveal: but we have no ground to suppose that any who die without spi. ritual religion can be happy in another world; and neither scripture nor history countenance the opinion, that the Lord gives his sanctifying Spirit, where he has not sent some measure of the light of revelation. We are sure, however, that the state of pagans will be far better, than that of wicked Christians, so called. While we therefore rejoice in our privileges; we may tremble, lest they should increase our condemnation: and the state of the nations, who still sit in darkness and the shadow of death, should animate our endeavours, and excite our prayers for their conversion.
The apostle adds, “as many as have sinned under “the law, shall be judged by the law.” Thc Jews rejected the gospel, and sought justification by the works of the law. Deists discard revelation, and rely on their own moral conduct to recommend them to God; and various descriptions of professed Christians form a complex law of works, out of the religion of the new Testament. But whatever system, men favoured with revelation may adopt, if they put the event of the great decisive day, on their own works, as the ground of their confidence; they will be judged according to the holy law of God, and fall under its awful curse. "Christ is become of none effect to them: