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reason why the ministry of it, calling on men to repent, or turn themselves to the reception of its saving benefits, should then be extended to all men, Gentiles as well as Jews, them who were afar off, as well as to them who were nigh. We think it likely, from the similarity of expression, that St. Paul had in his mind the passage above quoted from the prophet, when he addressed this to the Athenians. For, like the prophet, he speaks of the judgment of Christ, and of his 'judging in righteousness,' and calls the time of his judging a day.' And in speaking of the propriety of calling, at that time, on all men everywhere to repent, the apostle probably had his mind on the prophet's saying, that in that day he should stand as an ensign to the people, unto which the Gentiles should seek.' And that the judgment of Christ spoken of in the passages which we have quoted from the prophet, is his kingdom which commenced on earth with the close of the Jewish dispensation, is rendered further apparent by St. Matthew, in the application which he makes, in his Gospel, of one of these prophetic scriptures: Mat. xii. 14, &c. 'Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him how they might destroy him. But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence; and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; and charged them that they should not make him known: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant, whom I have chosen ; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."
But in the day or dispensation of the judgment or government of the world by Jesus Christ, there is also a retributive judgment, as well as under the former dispensation. St. Paul testifies, that God will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, [literally incorruptness,] eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile ;
for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law, [i. e. without the written law,] shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.' 28 It is hence perceived that the judgment of God, in its cognizance of the moral actions of men, is the same now, under the reign of Jesus Christ by his gospel, that it was under the reign of the patriarchs and of Moses and the prophets, by their inspired teachings. Then, every work was brought into judgment, and every secret thing, and there was verily 'a reward to the righteous,' and 'every transgression received a just recompense of reward.' And so it is now, when God judges the works, and even the secret things' of men, by Jesus Christ. He will render to every man according to his deeds. He will award tribulation and anguish to every one that doeth evil; and glory, honor, and peace, to every one that doeth good.
God's judgment, under the Christian dispensation, is administered on the same principle on which it was conducted in former ages, it being according to men's deserts; varying in its awards, of course, according to the different degrees of guilt as St. Paul said in his address to the Hebrews, which we have noticed, 'If the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.' This great salvation is the record of truth and grace spoken by Christ and his witnesses, and confirmed by signs and wonders. And the idea expressed in this place is, that if the Hebrews should neglect and abuse the greater opportunities they enjoyed from these more full and mighty proofs of truth, they would be recompensed with sorer calamities, than had ever been suffered by their fathers; and calamities, too, which they could not escape. For if others, who were before them, received a full punishment for all their sins, they, for their greater sins, could not escape their just, their greater punishment. He introduces here no new kind of judgment, set up in another world, but teaches. their responsibility to the same principle of judgment which
28 Rom. ii. 6-16.
had fully recompensed others in the earth, and would recompense them with a punishment no more severe, than in proportion as their guilt was greater.
Concerning the greater punishment which the Hebrews should receive in the judgment coming on that generation, and which should be especially suffered by any Hebrew Christians who should apostatize, the apostle speaks directly in Heb. x. 28: He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?' That this relates to a punishment which should be administered in the judgment coming on that generation, is evident from what precedes the passage: The apostle had just exhorted the Hebrews, saying, Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that promised; and let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhort one another; and so much the more as ye see the day approaching; that is, the day of their judgment or trial. 'For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.'
The meaning of the apostle in this place is plain: If any of the Hebrews who had received the knowledge of the truth, should wilfully, or from sinister motives, abandon the Christian cause, they would feel condemned; and knowing that the sacrifices of the Mosaic law were done away in Christ, they could no more relieve their consciences by offering these legal sacrifices for sins. They would remember the teachings and warnings of Christ concerning the great distress that should come upon their land, and the wrath that should devour that people; and they would be troubled with a fearful looking for of that threatened judgment, and that fiery indignation which should devour the adversaries of the gospel. The punishment administered by that judgment, was indeed a sorer punishment upon the Jews in general, than any which had before been suffered. For Jesus said concerning that event, 'There shall
be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.' And surely the apostatized Christians, who, in that unheard-of tribulation, had their portion with the hypocrites,' were the most miserable of that unhappy people.
This particular instance of judgment, because it was designed in its results to fulfil the words of Christ, to put down the persecution of his cause, to establish and extend his kingdom in the world, and to exalt his name in power and glory among men, was called in a special manner the coming of Christ in his power and kingdom, and his executing judgment from the throne of the Father's glory; as in Matt. xvi. 27, 28: For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.' And Matt. xxiv. 30: And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels witth a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.' And having thus fixed the general time of this coming of his in judgment, he resumes the mention of the same event, in the last paragraph of the same discourse, to give a further description of the attending circumstances: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations.' The gathering of the people, or of the nations, is a familiar form of expression in the Old Testament, to denote the widely prevailing effects of such divine judgments as were the subjects of discourse. And as this judgment was designed to introduce believers into a renewed and enlarged enjoyment of those gospel blessings which are called everlasting life,' and to pour upon the unbelieving Jews that punishment which the prophet represented by a fire that should not be quenched,' 30 and 'an everlasting reproach,' 31 so Jesus here describes it as introducing some into everlasting life,' and others into everlasting punishment.' 32 On the
31 Jer. xxiii. 40.
29 Mat. xxiv. 21, 51. 32 Mat. xxv. 41, 46.
30 Jer. vii. 20. xvii. 27.
meaning of the word everlasting in this case, we need not here occupy room to argue, because it is conceded by all that this word, when applied to events of time, is used in a limited sense; and it is plain that in this case it is applied to a punishment which has been executed on the earth. It is no other punishment than what Moses and the prophets forewarned the Jews that they should suffer, if they should bring to a certain crisis their moral corruptness. And surely they did not forewarn the people of any other punishments, than what were comprehended in all the curses of the law, the execution of all which, we have seen, should be accomplished on the earth.
The exceeding severity of this particular judgment, which was executed at the coming of Christ in the end of the Jewish age, is expressed by him in his addresses to the cities of Israel, by way of contrasting it with the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of other cities: Wo unto thee, Chorazin! Wo unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in dust and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hades; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.' 33 We conclude that Jesus did not mean here to teach that Sodom, Tyre and Sidon, were to be literally judged and punished at some future time; because every transgression and disobedience of the words spoken by God's messengers in former ages, had received a just recompense of reward.' And besides, that the temporal judgment of Sodom was referred to, is evident, in that it prevented that city from 'continuing unto this day.' Jesus was also speaking of the temporal destruction of these cities of Israel. They had been exalted to heaven, but should be cast down to hades. As their being exalted to heaven, was their temporal exaltation in the earth, so their reverse of fortune, expressed by being cast down to hades, was their temporal destruction. And the time
33 Mat. xi. 21-24.