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The Day of Judgment

A Sermon

[By T. James Blair.]

[1924.]

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

In light of contemporary discussion on the subject of Judgment Day, it was thought fitting that an item or two should be made available to readers who are willing to consider what the Bible has to say on this important subject.  The preacher of the following sermon was a Reformed Presbyterian minister in the first half of the 1900's, who laboured among the remnant of Covenanters, or Reformed Presbyterian dissenters, who opposed the compromising courses of the majority of American Reformed Presbyterians under the direction of the RPCNA Synod. Until more recent times, he was the last minister who alone persevered as a witness for the Covenanted Reformation in opposition to the anti-Reformation defection which continues to predominate modern Presbyterian communions.

In a less-than-honest attempt to discredit those adhering to Reformation principles and practices, it has been suggested that those who do so are misled because their whole theology is dictated by their eschatology. However, those who are at all acquainted with historic Protestant beliefs about the end-times, will confirm that there is nothing here which deviates from standard Protestant beliefs and application concerning the Day of Judgment, and its approach. Those who are willing to learn, or to be directed to present duty in light of the reality and gravity of this subject, will find what is useful for their instruction. The author has brought forward an abundance of Scripture passages bearing on this topic, so that there is little which anyone may desire to know on the subject, which can not be learned in what follows. As for any precise when, that is what we may not desire to know.

2011.06.02.

Text: “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Cor. 5:10.

When mention is made of the Judgment day, infidels scoff, and fools mock and rage; and the most part of men, including many professed disciples, deprecate any reference to that time of final accounts.  Yet it is an event of the utmost importance, calling for the special concern of every one, and duly considered, it should make a deep impression on our minds.[1]

The doctrine we would draw from this text and speak to is:

Doctrine, That there is a general judgment day appointed, when the ordained Judge will render to each one a reward or punishment, according to their good or evil works.

In speaking to this doctrine we will endeavor to explain the following heads:

  1. Some reasons why there will be a day of judgment.
  2. The Judge.
  3. The manner and circumstances of Christ’s coming to judge the world.
  4. The manner of day this will be.
  5. Who are to be judged.
  6. The things about which they shall be judged.
  7. Qualities of this judgment.
  8. The sentences passed on that day.
  9. Application.

I. Some Reasons Why There Will Be a Day of Judgment

1. Because many wrong and wicked sentences are passed here upon earth.  The guilty are often let go free and even rewarded for their evil deeds; while the innocent and righteous are condemned as malefactors, and adjudged not fit to live {14} Many times the people of God are judged as heretics and seditious persons, rebels, opposed to all law and government, “those turning the world upside down,” because they count it duty “to obey God rather than men.” [Acts 17.6, 5.29.]  On the other hand, the wicked are commended and rewarded for imprisoning, torturing, and slaying the witnesses of Jesus; always representing the devilish cruelties done to the godly as in the interest of law and government.  Even our blessed Savior was adjudged a law-breaker; “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die.” Jno. 19.1.

And as there are many who wrongly judged, so there are many wrongs and wicked works that are never brought to judgment here, but condoned or passed by.

Therefore there will, and must, be a day of judgment, when all unjust and wicked sentences will be reversed and justice done.  Solomon says, “I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.  I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.”  Ecc. 3.16,17.

2. Because there are many things done in secret that never come to light.  Things that are kept close and “hid from the eyes of all living.”  How many murders, adulteries, thefts, and false oaths that are never unearthed?  How many idolatries, blasphemous oaths, and breaches of the Sabbath of which none but the transgressors themselves are cognizant?  Therefore there must be a day of judgment that will manifest and bring to light all works of darkness, that righteous judgment may be executed.

“God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”  Ecc. 12.14.

3. Some think themselves above all law and judgment. Some earthly potentates, civil and ecclesiastical, claim immunity from all judgment by their fellowmen; and though they pass many wicked judgments, will be accountable to none for them.  So there must be a day when the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the judge and the judged shall all be tried on {15} equal terms.  “There is no respect of persons with God.” Rom. 2.11.

4. To manifest the justice and mercy of God.  God’s justice must be glorified in pronouncing and executing sentence on all ungodly sinners, who pass by or violate the righteous precepts appointed for all flesh. The patriarch’s inquiry: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?“ (Gen. 18.25), strongly asserts the fact of a coming day when justice shall be fully and impartially meted out to all.  And God’s mercy must have a day to shine resplendent in rewarding all those who have taken hold of his covenant, and are faithful unto death. “Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.”  Ps. 58.11.

5. Because God’s oppressed people cry and pray for it. They are encouraged by his promises to hope and wait for that day when God will fully vindicate their service.  “He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday.” Ps. 37.6.  They cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Rev. 6.10.  And assuredly God will hear and answer the prayers of his people.

These are some of the plain and weighty reasons why there must and will be a day of judgment.

II. The Judge

As there is a day of judgment appointed for the whole world, so we must enquire who presides over that wonderful tribunal? Our text answers the question. The Judge is Jesus Christ; “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

1. It is given Christ as a reward for his sufferings in accomplishing the work of redemption.

“All things are delivered unto me of my Father.” Matt. 11.27. {16}

“He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” Phil. 2.8,9.  “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son * * * And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” Jno. 5.22-27.

2. Because Christ only is fitted and able for this work.  (1) On account of the glory and dignity of his person.  None but Christ is qualified to pass final judgment on men and angels. “God is judge himself.  Selah.” Ps. 50.6.  Pause! Consider! none but the all-wise, omniscient Jehovah can try “hearts and reins.”  No created being is capable of such a wonderful trust. None can execute such an exalted commission, but he who is “the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person.” Heb. 1.3.  (2) Because of the stupendous difficulty of the work.  The highest angels around God’s throne could not try one individual of mankind.  For, the judgment is not only of acts done, and words spoken, but of all the secret thoughts and imaginations of the heart.  And neither angels nor men can know the secrets of the heart.  So God alone is able to judge the goodness or evil of the heart’s inmost cogitations; “For he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” Ps. 44.21.  (3) The judgment is to be acted visibly before the eyes of the assembled universe.  But God is invisible in his nature, being a Spirit; “No man hath seen God at any time.” Jno. 1.18. But this judge appears to all eyes; “Every eye shall see him.” Rev. 1.7.  Hence none but Jesus Christ, God and man in one person, is qualified to preside at that momentous tribunal.  The glorious Son of God, majestically seated on his mighty throne, will appear in the sight of the vast assemblage of heaven, earth, and hell.  “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1.11.

3. For the comfort of his people.  Very comfortable it is for God’s people, who have been judged and condemned {17} by their bitter, raging enemies because they loved and adhered to Christ’s cause, now to have their blessed Lord and Savior for their Judge.  “The Lord is our Judge.” Is. 33.24.  How often did the confessors and martyrs of Jesus appeal from the wicked sentences of those who unjustly condemned them, to the bar of heaven?  Their appeals are all written in the Judge’s book, and he is their Friend, Husband, and elder Brother; their cause is his cause.  He will judge their cause, for what is done unto one of the least of these, his brethren, he accounts done to him. See Matt. chap. 25.  The “King of all the earth” (Ps. 47.7), the eternal Son of God is the just and righteous Judge. Adore and sing praises, his people; fear him, enemies all!

III. The Manner and Circumstances of Christ’s Coming To Judge the World

1. He will appear visibly.  Clothed with his glorified human nature, and seated on a visible throne, he will appear before the eyes of the assembled world: and no child of Adam can miss a sight of him.  “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” Rev. 1.7. But with what different emotions will the assembled myriads view this wonderful spectacle; the eyes of his enemies will be dilated with terror, while those of his friends shine with the light of joy.

2. In a sudden and surprising manner.  Though the Judge appear openly before the eyes of all, yet what a surprise will it be to the most part of men.  Familiar examples of sudden and complete surprisal are used in Scripture to illustrate this momentous event. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered into the Ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matt. 24.38,39.  So will Christ’s coming to judgment find the world slumbering in the same stupid and ruinous security.  And as the slumbering {18} householder is unaware of the silent approach and breaking in of the thief; so will Christ’s coming to judge, overwhelm proud and careless sinners with astonishment and confusion.  “Behold I come as a thief.” Rev. 16.15.

“Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say peace and safety then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” 1 Thess. 5.2,3.

3. At the time appointed in the counsels of God from eternity.  “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” Acts 17.31.  The precise time of his appearance for judgment was fixed before the foundation of the world, and when it comes nothing can delay his coming; then “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his holy angels.” 2 Thess. 1.7.

4. He will come in a terrible manner.  The refulgent rays of his glory will break forth with such awful majesty that sinners will be convulsed with fear.  “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites.  Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?  Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Is. 33.14.  Their guilty consciences already condemning them, with what fearful dread will the wicked behold the approach of the angry Judge.  In vain they will call to the rocks and mountains to hide them; every refuge is gone, for “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Pet. 3.10.  With none to pity, much less help, they must endure Christ’s piercing eye that lays bare the inmost recesses of their hearts.  “His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” (Ps. 11.4.)  Oh! how terrible that coming will be to his enemies! How awful to see the Lord Jesus coming “in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess. 1.8. {19}

5. He will come in power and great glory.  The attendants of the mightiest earthly potentates may easily be counted; but who can number the attendants of Christ when he comes to judge?  “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” Ps. 68.17.  “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” Jno. 3.35.  “Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matt. 28.18.  At the day of judgment, the full and most glorious manifestation of Christ’s power “over all flesh” will be openly displayed: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” 1 Thess. 4.16.  “Then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13.26.  “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Dan. 7.10.  A myriad and illustrious retinue of holy angels, those flaming seraphims, his ministers, that do his pleasure;” attend him with acclamations when he comes to “judge the world with righteousness.”

The brightness of his glory on the mount of transfiguration bewildered the eyes of his disciples [Mark 9.2-10]; and much more will the brilliant rays of his glory dazzle the eyes of all flesh, when he comes seated upon a high and lofty throne, and calls men and devils before his righteous bar.

IV. The Manner of Day This Will Be

We will now inquire what sort of a day this will be.

1. It will be a wonderful day.  All that ever lived upon the earth, being called from their graves, and all then living will be gathered into one vast assembly; likewise “the prince of the power of the air” and all his rebel crew must appear for their sentence.  A wonderful day that will behold such an aggregation.  Beggars from the dunghill will stand shoulder {20} to shoulder with the rich and delicate; kings and princes that did according to their own wills, while they ruled with rigor over their fellows, are now on the same footing as the slaves they cruelly and outrageously trod down; fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, friends and enemies are there together: none can be absent from that assembly.  “The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honorable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator” (Is. 3.2,3), will be there on that wonderful day.  But what makes it a truly wonderful day is the Judge. He who in the days of his humiliation veiled his glory and was accounted of no reputation [Phil. 2.7], will then come in all his own glory, and that of his Father; then will be answered in full his prayer just before he laid down his life: “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Jno. 17.5.  The transcendent glory and matchless beauty of Christ will cause all to wonder and stand in awe.

2. A great day.  It is great, for it is a day of great events, all things that ever were shall be brought to an end: it is the last day, “the great and terrible day of the Lord” after it there shall neither be day nor night: no heavens, no earth, no sea, all will be dissolved and burnt up with fervent heat.

3. A terrible day.  It is “the great and terrible day of the Lord.”  There will be terror without to wicked men when they behold the wrathful countenance of the Judge: terror within when their consciences accuse them for all their evil doings.  It will be a day of terror to infidels, atheists, and deists who tried to make themselves and others believe that there was no God, none to bring them to account for their wickedness, now they are convulsed with fear in the presence of Jehovah’s angry face.  “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Ps. 7.11.  A day of terror for those who refused the gracious offers of Christ, and for apostates, those who once were washed from their filthiness but turned back to their {21} “wallowing in the mire” [2 Pet. 2.22]; with what dread will they behold the coming of Christ for judgment.

It will be a day of awful terror for persecutors and murderers of God’s people when they behold him coming to plead their cause.

4. A day of reckoning.  It is a day wherein men must give an account of their stewardship, of all the time they lived on earth; of every day, every hour, and every moment: and of how they have used the talents entrusted to them.  “After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.” Matt. 25.19.  On that day, the minister must reckon for his flock, the parents for their children, the master for his servants, the magistrate for those under his rule.  We must give a strict account of our deeds whether good or evil. “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Luke 16.2.

5. A day for proving the guilt of the wicked.  God will present a libel against his enemies and those of his people, he will lay open men’s consciences, and prove their guilt before angels and his people: he will make it so patent that all, even the condemned themselves, must say amen to all the charges laid against them.  What a frightful nest of wickedness will the unregenerate heart be found to be when laid open to view. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it” (Jer. 17.9); not the transgressor himself, until God sets it forth to view.  “The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.” Ps. 9.16.  “God is the judge.” 75.7.

6. A day of joy to God’s people.  As it will be a day of condemnation to the wicked, so it will be a day of redemption and joy to his people.  “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God; * * * which executeth judgment for the oppressed.” Ps. 146.5-7.  What a joyful day it will be for his own people, a day of consolation and salvation; for this, they will glorify his name. “And it shall be said in that day, lo this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have {22} waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Is. 25.9.

The Lord Jesus Christ who laid down his life for the sheep; he who loves them, and whom they love and adore, is coming to receive them unto himself.  “I will come again and receive you unto myself.” Jno. 14.3.

7. A day of gathering and of separating.

A day of happy assembling of beloved ones.  There the saints will meet with Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets and apostles; there the parents will rejoice to see the children for whom they labored and prayed, often with tears; there the faithful minister will joy to see those he exhorted, rebuked, and wrestled for at the throne of grace: forebodings and fears give way to rejoicing as the sheaves are gathered in.  “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ,” “even as ye are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.” [1 Thess. 2.19,] 2 Cor. 1.14.

V. Who Are To Be Judged

1. All men are included in this judgment; none are, or can be exempt from standing at Christ”s judgment bar: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” [2 Cor. 5.10.]  There will stand Adam and all his posterity to the latest generation; patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and private Christians, ministers and people, magistrates and subjects, Jews and Gentiles. No rank, degree, or condition while in this life can exempt men from this judgment; low and high, rich and poor, old and young, masters and servants, parents and children, noble and ignoble must appear before Christ’s panel.

All distinctions of race, condition, or servitude among men disappear at the mouth of the grave; and at the day of judgment all stand on the same level before the Judge.

2. The devil and all the apostate angels must appear at Christ’s tribunal.  Those evil spirits that fell from their {23} first estate and were left to suffer the penalty of their sin; and well do they know that they must be condemned, as they said to our Savior, “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” Matt. 8.29.  “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6. Then all mankind, and the fallen angels must appear for judgment.

VI. The Things About Which They Shall Be Judged

Our text tells us, “they are the things done in the body.”

1. All their works whether good or evil.  (1.) All good works will be tried whether they be right in motive, principle and end; and many actions men account good will not be found acceptable with God.  (2.) All evil works will be brought into judgment, whether they be open or secret.  “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecc. 12.14.  Multitudes endeavor to hide their evil deeds by concealing them under cover of darkness; and many wicked works are never brought to light in this world.  There are many frauds, murders, adulteries, and false oaths of which the world remains ignorant; but all will be brought to light at the day of judgment.

2. Men’s words will be tried.  “I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matt. 12.36,37.

Men often think very little of what they speak, but we see how important it is to guard the tongue well.  The tongue is man’s glory, but it is not to be allowed to run idly or wantonly; ejecting chatter, futility, and filth, but speaking forth words of truth and soberness to the praise and glory of God. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” Jas. 1.26. {24}

How necessary it is then to guard carefully words as well as actions.

3. Men’s thoughts will be judged.  Actions and words constitute the whole basis for men’s judgment of their fellows, God’s judgment pauses not here, but passes on to the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Heb. 4.12.]  Judgment of men’s thoughts must slumber, “until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.” 1 Cor. 4.5.  God knows and will judge all men’s thoughts, none can escape his knowledge; all are written in his book of remembrance and will be brought forth on that eventful day.  The Eternal Word “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4.12.

VII. Qualities of This Judgment

1. It is a just judgment.  God does not, and cannot wrong any of his creatures; infinite rectitude bounds all the doings of his hand; “Righteousness shall go before him.” Ps. 85.13.  “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” 97.2.  “He shall judge the world with righteousness, the people with his truth.” 96.13.

The Judge has an exact knowledge of all men’s thoughts, words, and actions, and an infinite comprehension of strict justice; therefore his judgment is full and incontestably just.

2. Exact and critical.  The judgment of the Searcher of hearts, to whom all hearts are known and all events foreknown, must be exact.  Men are hampered in their decrees because they do not know all the facts of the case, or they are not able to critically weigh the real measure of guilt or innocence of those to be judged: not so the judge of “quick and dead,” who knows the exact moral worth or turpitude of every act, word, or thought that has been or will be upon earth.  None will be found able to say exact justice has not been accorded them, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” Rom. 2.16. {25}

3. It is a universal judgment.  All that ever lived upon the earth, with all that come after to the end of time will be subjects of this judgment.

The apostle makes it plain, “We must all appear;” men and women, those stooped with age, those in the bloom of youth, and the babe that was taken from the breast to the grave; the whole posterity of Adam will be judged on that momentous day.  It makes no difference whether the bodies of the dead were deposited in costly sepulchres, or “buried with the burial of an ass” (Jer. 22.19), or cast into the depths of the sea; all will hear and obey the trumpet’s call to appear for judgment: and all the fallen angels will be there to receive their sentence. “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; * * * * and the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.” Rev. 20.12,13.

4. It will be a terrible judgment.

God’s Word designates it, “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” Joel 2.31.  That day will be ushered in with signs of terror, “blood and fire, and pillars of smoke:” and “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” [2 Pet. 3.10]; and the mighty sound of Gabriel’s trumpet will constrain all to quit their graves and come forth.  Truly this day is ushered in with terrors, for Christ’s coming is solemn and awesome; “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;” (1 Thess. 4.16) and seated on his glorious throne, with the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left, Christ will give forth his terrible judgments on the wicked.

5. It will be the final judgment.  Solomon gave wonderful decrees; and cases went from inferior courts to “Caesar’s judgment seat:” but “a greater than Solomon is here” [Matt. 12.42], and a just Judge in opposition to base, voluptuous, wicked Caesar; {26} and from Christ’s judgment there is no appeal, his sentence is irrevocable and unalterable.  Men may appeal from the sentences passed by their fellows, but there is none to review Christ’s judgment or alter the sentences he imposes.

VIII. The Sentences Passed On That Day

Two sentences are given by the righteous Judge, one acquitting the righteous, and the other condemning the wicked.

1. The godly hear the voice of their gracious Lord saying: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered and ye gave me meat, etc.” Matt. 25.34-40.  Oh, the gracious decree! the loving bowels of the Judge! the righteous are acquitted and rewarded not for their own goodness, but for that of their Judge, who was delivered to death for their offenses, who was raised from the dead for their justification, and comes clothed in the habiliments of a Judge to give them a public acquittal before angels and men: “Enter ye into the joy of your Lord.” [Rom. 4.25, Matt. 25.21.]

2. There is a sentence of condemnation passed upon the wicked.  To their terror and astonishment the ungodly will hear the awful sentence: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt. 25.41.  And the sentence is no sooner given than it is put in execution.  No appeal for mercy will be of any avail in that day; many will cry, “have mercy, Lord,” but he will answer: “many a day you had mercy offered, but you refused it, now mercy is clean gone forever.” [Matt. 7.21-23, 23.37, Jer. 44.3-6.]  The door of hope is shut, the pity and longsuffering of the Lord [2 Pet. 3.9] are no more in exercise; nothing but eternal wrath to eternity.  “Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Verse 30.

IX. Application

Wait!  Pause for a moment!  Do not begin to say, “I {27} do not wish to hear anything about this doleful and frightful day of judgment, tell us of the love and mercy of a gracious Savior, but nothing of wrath and condemnation.”  Rest assured, that however unwilling any may be to hear of a day of judgment, it is a most certain and tangible truth.

We all need to have it impressed on our hearts, that “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.” Ecc. 3.17.  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, declares it, Jude 14,15; Joel prophesies of it, Joel 2.30,31; Malachi speaks of it, chapter 4.1; our Savior frequently refers to it; Paul, and Peter, and John all remind those to whom they wrote of the necessity of remembering the solemn fact: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Heb. 9.27.  If we believe the voice of the Scripture, we will be assured of the truth of a day of judgment.  This life is the only time of probation for that day that is of the utmost importance to every child of Adam. If we are not prepared while here for standing before Christ’s judgment bar, then we will never have opportunity for preparation; for as death leaves us so judgment shall find us. Those who seriously believe this truth will evidence their belief by their practice, in reading and hearing of God’s Word, in heavenly conversation and prayer, and even in their eating and drinking, according to the injunction: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10.31.  Careless, superficial performance of duty or walking in known sins says, that those who do so, do not believe in a day of judgment.  Why do those that take God’s name in vain or that profane his Sabbaths, or that wrong or defraud their neighbors, continue in their evil courses? It is because they do not believe God will bring them to judgment for their wickedness. “Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.” Ps. 10.13.

2. Believe it not only with the head but let the importance of it affect your hearts.  Consider how certain it is.  It cannot be controverted, for it depends on God’s faithfulness; and if we believe other parts of God’s word we must believe {28} this also.  How sad it is that the most part of men are [so] engrossed with the affairs of this life that they seem to have no concern for the future.  Boston says, “These awful words, death, judgment, and eternity, make no more impression upon their hearts than if they were words of no significance.”[2]

3. Know and consider that we cannot escape Christ’s judgment of all our thoughts, words, and actions; what a multitude of thoughts rush through men’s minds every day, and every hour of the day, and yet God takes cognizance of all; every idle thought is marked in his book; a calm consideration of this should bring us to our knees before God.  And remember that all our words and acts are marked either to approve or condemn us before the “Judge of the quick and dead.” [2 Tim. 4.1.]  Oh! that this caution us and make careful of our words and deed! and that we may study to show ourselves approved before God.

For warning, remember, the righteous Judge will be so far from acquitting and sparing contemners of and rebels against his righteous authority that he will hold them strictly to account; and there is no escaping his all-seeing eye, no fleeing from him who is everywhere present, and no resisting his almighty power.  Be warned to fear God and keep his commandments now, while mercy is offered; for “Behold, the Judge standeth before the door.” Jas. 5.9.  Those who refuse to open their hearts to him now may in a very little time find the door of mercy and grace is shut against them; and their cries of “Lord, Lord, open to us,” meet the answer, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Matt. 25.12.  How will that sword pierce their hearts to the quick! How will they cry for one moment to plead their cause with the Judge; just one more offer of mercy: but no, they have cast aside the offers of grace, despised the day of mercy, and now there is nothing but wrath to eternity.  “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels forever.”

And the sentence is based on the sins of omission, duties neglected; men take very little notice of these, but God does.

One great cause of men’s neglect of duty is the want of serious thoughts concerning Christ’s coming to judge the world. {29} Boston says, “many put this day far away, and set it at a remote distance from them; and this makes them careless and secure.”  We heard of a minister, who in a sermon described the last judgment in all its terrors, with such ardent expressions, and those animated with such an affecting voice, and such an inflamed countenance and action, that his hearers broke into tears and passionate cries.  The preacher bade them stop their tears and passions, for he had one thing more to add, the most affecting and astonishing of all, namely, that, within less than a quarter of an hour, the memory and regard of that which so transported them would vanish, and their affections return to their carnal objects in their usual manner.

Have a care that this be not a picture of your case.

Serious thoughts of judgment should be a powerful restraint against sin, especially secret sins, knowing that the eye of our Judge beholds the most secret acts and cogitations of the heart.  What difference if we do succeed in hiding our wrong acts and evil thoughts from men, we cannot from the final Judge, who will assuredly reward every one “according to that he hath done whether it be good or evil.”

On the day of judgment we will either be acquitted or condemned, either set with the sheep on Christ’s right hand or with the goats on his left.  “Be ye not mockers lest your bands be made strong.” (Is. 28.22), in the judgment of the great day.

For Exhortation.

Choose the “one thing needful;” strive to make sure of an interest in Christ.  Make the Judge your friend by embracing him as the only and all-sufficient Savior; and give all diligence to be clothed with his righteousness for that eventful day. None will be able to stand before that bar—only those clothed in the goodly raiment of their Elder Brother; no access into the guest-chamber—only to those having on the wedding garment of Christ’s righteousness.  Do this now, leave it not until tomorrow; “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 6.2.

“O that men were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end.” Deut. 32.29.

Go to the “throne of grace” and seek earnestly for grace {30} and strength to enable you to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; that the day of death may find you prepared for the day of judgment.

Take no account of the reproaches and revilings of the world; study to be found faithful.

Seek earnestly to make the whole frame of your life a flaming torch to proclaim and evidence to the world that you are servants of the living God, and desire to glorify him in your hearts and lives: that we may be accepted in the day of final accounts: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”  To his name be glory.  Amen.


Footnotes:

1. The three following paragraphs were originally found printed at the beginning of this sermon as paragraphs 2-4.  On account of the apparent typos, and to avoid any delay of the more practical consideration of the sermon text, they are here presented as a footnote.

The preposition “for,” emphasizes the apostle’ warning, glorious step in the exaltation of our of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;” (Phil. 2.8.) God hath not only exalted, but super-exalted: when, sitting on his glorious judgment-throne, he cites the whole world to appear at his bar. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Jno. 5.22. “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Acts 17.31.

The preposition “for” emphasizes the apostle’s warning, and seems to imply an ellipsis, as: (And there is need to strive earnestly to act so as to approve ourselves before him) for we must all appear,” etc.  The reference is likely to the strenuous labors of those striving for honors in the Grecian games; which would give the apostle’s words added weight to the Corinthians, familiar with those scenes.  The Greek verb, translated in our text “appear” is by some commentators rendered, “be made manifest,” meaning that our inmost soul is laid open before the Judge.”  But our translation “appear” seems to be the apostle’s chief meaning.  Bloomfield says, “I suspect that it was a forensic term, meaning, to present one’s self for trial.”  We think both senses may well be included.  We must appear for {13} trial, and with no possibility of escaping strict justice, for our inmost hearts will be an open book before “The Judge of all the earth.” Gen. 18.25.

The verb rendered “may receive,” in the middle voice signifies, to bear away as one’s own; and well applies to each one carrying away from the trial the reward of his deeds, good or evil, as done while in the body.  This life is the time of probation for eternity, and according as it is improved, or neglected and misspent, so will the righteous Judge give sentence.

2. Thomas Boston, Sermon Of Christ's Exaltation, from his Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion. Vol. 2, page 123 in the Edinburgh edition of 1773.