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You see people in this world running through the streets to see a king or a queen ride through them. How they do climb to their house-tops to see some warrior return from battle. Ah! what a trifle! What is it to see a piece of flesh and blood though it be crowned with gold. But oh! what is it to see the Son of God with heaven's highest honours to attend him, entering within the pearly gates, while the vast universe resounds with “ Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth."
3. I must close by noticing the last point, which is this. In our Saviour's prayer heaven's greatest privilege is also included. Mark, we are not only to be with Christ and to behold his glory, but we are to be like Christ and to be glorified with him. Is he bright? So shall you be. Is he enthroned? So shall you be. Does be wear a crown? So shall you. Is he a priest? So shall you be a priest and a king to offer acceptable sacrifices for ever. Mark, that in all Christ has, a believer has a share. This seems to me to be the sum total, and the crowning of it all,—to reign with Christ, to ride in his triumphal chariot, and have a portion of his joy; to be honoured with him, to be accepted in him, to be glorified with him. This is heaven, this is heaven indeed.
And now, how many of you are there here who have any hope that this shall be your lot? Well "said Chrysostom,“ The pains of hell are not the greatest part of hell; the loss of heaven is the weightiest woe of hell;" to lose the sight of Christ, the company of Christ, to lose the beholding of his glories, this must be the greatest part of the damnation of the lost.
Oh, you that have not this bright hope, how is it that you can live? You are going through a dark world, to a darker eternity. I beseech you stop aud pause. Consider for a moment whether it is worth while to lose heaven for this poor earth. What! pawn eternal glories for the pitiful pence of a few moments of the world's enjoyments. No, stop I beseech you; weigh the bargain ere you accept it. What shall it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul, and lose such a heaven as this?
But as for you who have a hope, I beseech you hold it fast, live on it, rejoice in it
“ A hope so much divine,
Live near your Master now, so shall your evidences be bright; and when you come to cross the flood, you shall see him face to face, and what that is only they can tell who enjoy it every hour.
DELIVERED ON Advent Sunday, DECEMBER 2, 1855,
IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF CHESTERFIELD.
BY THE REV, G, BUTT, A.M., VICAR.
“ Eternal judgment."-Hebrews vi, 2.
Here we have in two words, a doctrine of the most solemn import set forthone which forms a very essential portion of the Christian faith—and which must of necessity exercise great influence over the mind, and heart, and life of the man who truly believes it.
Eternal judgment—the doctrine of it, says the apostle, is one of the principles of the general doctrine of Christ; i.e., it is one of the first principles or fundamental truths of Christianity.
It is one then of which no man can be safely ignorant; one which no man can doubt or dispute, without great hazard to his soul, and without justly incurring the charge of unbelief. We are not at liberty to choose what we shall believe and what we shall not believe, of the fundamental truths of Divine Revelation; we must receive all or none, he who rejects any of these truths and articles of the Christian faith, is an heretic, an unbeliever, and hath no part or lot in Christ. The essential doctrines of God's word are so wedded together, that they cannot be taken and accepted separately; if they deny one, a virtual denial of all is involved in that denial of one. As Christians then, we must believe in the truth of the doctrine of eternal judgment, and must confess that it is one wbich ought to be constantly realized in the mind, and made a theme of frequent meditation. At this season of the year, in which our church invites us to remember and prepare for the Advent of ber Great and Glorified Head, we shall do well to consider what he comes for, even, as we believe to be our Judge. “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son : that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” (John v. 22.) Jesus Christ is not only the Saviour of men, but the Judge of men ; in these titles and offices of Christ we find a twofold reason for honouring and obeying him; he is able to save and deliver us from the wrath to come, he is able to cast us into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and the one or other he will infallibly do for every soul of man here present. As it is written_" He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.” Behold, he cometh with clouds, and the holy angels with him; Divine glory shines about his throne; and he is invested with authority from the Almighty Father to administer “ eternal judgment.” The graves open at the sound of the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead, small and great are gathered together by the angels, and lo! they stand before the awful tribunal and Majesty of the Son of Man to recieve eternal judgment. This judgment immediately follows upon the general resurrection, accordingly in the verse from which our text is taken, these doctrines are coupled together—“And of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." There will some indeed be judged who shall not be partakers in the resurrection, because they shall be alive on earth at that time. Christ declares that all the tribes of the earth shall mouri, when they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew xxiv. 30.) Doubtless, great consternation will fill the souls of all the ungodly when that stupendous event takes place, perhaps some vain scorner may be in the very act of pronouncing the words—“Where is the promise of his coming ?” when Christ shall be suddenly revealed - to employ his own language-"Even as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west." (Matthew xxiv. 27.) Doubtless multitudes will be found in a very bad state of preparation, eating and drinking and minding earthly things, with very little apprehension of the mighty events which are at hand; saying, peace, peace to themselves, till sudden destruction falls upon them. Doubtless, if Christ should come now, this year, this day, this hour, this very moment, and what there is to hinder his doing so, I cannot tell, nor you either I suppose, he would not find many hearts amongst us, in which his throne and kingdom were already established-hearts full of faith, and holy fear, and love hearts that could bid him welcome and hold their confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. Let each one here present consider how it would be with himself or herself. For “ we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, there to receive according to the things done in the body, whether they be good or evil, and they that have done good shall rise to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation; and every one of us shall give account for himself unto God." · Having said thus much generally upon the words of our text, I shall now proceeed to dwell chiefly upon the word eternal, as it stands connected with the word judgment. Much may be said concerning the doctrine of judgment, and on points which bear relation to it; and all and every of these are important, very important, but it is quite impracticable to enlarge upon all these points in the course of a single sermon, or even to touch upon them, except in the most cursory manner; I shall, therefore, confine my remarks upon the present occasion to the consideration of the word eternal, concerning which adjunct it may be said with propriety, that it gives judgment its most weighty and solemn character, and consequence. Human judgment is not without its awe and solemnity, and the arraigned criminal trembles in his guilty soul, while standing before the bar of an earthly judge, he awaits with apprehension the sentence which shall inflict upon him the pains and penalties of the law which he has transgressed.
Neither are the circumstances which in human courts of justice accompany the administration of the law without their terrors. It is wisely ordered that the law should be invested with a kind of awful pomp and majesty, to the end that it may command the greater reverence, and extort the more scrupulous obedience. Therefore even the man who is inwardly conscious of his own innocence, and tolerably certain of an acquittal, can scarcely repress feelings of fear, and awe, and mental perturbation, while he stands before the bar of justice to answer an accusation of some serious offence made against him. Still whatever importance may attach to the decision of an earthly court of judicature, how great soever the joy with which one hearkens eagerly to the verdict of acquittal, and public declaration of his innocence, by which he is restored to liberty and life; or how poignant soever the anguish with which the wretched offender listens to the sentence of condemnation to the severe penalties of the broken law; nevertheless, there is one circumstance attending these decisions and inflictions, pains and penalties; they are for time, and not for eternity. Though a malefactor may be sentenced to transportation beyond the seas for the term of his natural life, his sentence cannot extend beyond the term defined, his natural, his bodily life. Or though another for some atrocious crime be sentenced to execution, and to be hanged by the neck until death ensue, it is after all but death of the body, that a human hand can inflict, not that second death which is for ever.
When the apostle, then, is speaking of eternal judgment, it is evident that he is speaking of divine, not merely human judgment. It is the judgment of the Most High God he is treating of, which has an infinitely wider and more extended reach, and when his heavy wrath falls upon the impenitent transgressor, it falls upon him with the consuming fury of the fire that shall never, never be quenched. Hence, our Saviour, Christ takes occasion to give us this salutary admonition. “ I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” (Luke xii. 4, 5.)
It is on this account that St. Paul styles judgment eternal—the judgment of the great day—not because the judgment will sit for ever, we know that it will not, for Scripture says, “God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world.” We need not understand by the word day a span of twenty-four hours; but the word recessarily implies a certain definite period of time, during which the judicial proceedings will be carried on to an end.
The word eternal, as coupled with judgment, signifies the everlasting results of the great day of universal judgment, declares that an irrevocable unalterable sentence will then be passed upon every child of Adam, which will eternally decide and fix his condition in happiness or woe. Against this sentence there can be no appeal; you cannot move for a trial in a higher court; no court can be higher than that which the Supreme Majesty of the Creator
and Lawgiver of heaven and earth, the true and only Potentate, holds by the person of his own co-equal Son, his delegate, duly commissioned and authorized by him for that purpose. There is no chance of a sentence once passed being reversed ; the saints receive from their Redeemer a kingdom which shall never be moved, and a crown of glory which fadeth not away, while unto the wicked, the imperishable record of their penal doom stands stereotyped for ever in letters of unquenchable fire. This doctrine of eternal judgment is so expressly and repeatedly stated in holy Scripture, that no man who denies it, or doubts it, can have any reasonable excuse for so doing: nevertheless, it is to be feared that a secret denial or doubt of the truth of everlasting punishment is cherished in the hearts of many who do not go so far as openly 10 express what they fondly imagine, who, perhaps, are scarcely aware of the woeful extent to which unbelief in this respect has laid hold of them.
It is the policy of Satan to cover over as well as to foster mistrust and doubt of God's eternal truth, and to persuade men that they are sound in the faith, while, may be, they are very far gone indeed in the ways of error and apostacy. 0! he is a very subtle adversary, and in the natural deceitfulness of our corrupt hearts and blind understandings finds very apt materials to work his wicked will upon. Let us not be ignorant of his devices. In order that we may know whether we do really believe all the doctrines of Christ, we should carefully try and examine ourselves to see what influence the truth we suppose we believe exerts over us, how much, and how far it actuates us. Did all professing Christians act thus from time to time, not a few among them would discover that there was little real credit attached in their minds to many of the most essential and vital truths of the Christian revelation. Many would find that the Word of God which they had in some sense received, and fancied they had still in possession, had been long since while they slept stolen by Satan from their hearts.
The phrase " practical infidelity,” is not an uncommon one, (by which we understand a denial in the life and conversation of truths received with the miņd) yet, I very much doubt whether practical infidelity ever exists but in company with, and in consequence of, heart infidelity. Indeed, these two kinds of infidelity act mutually upon one another. Without faith of the mind and heart, and reception of the truth in the love of it, the conduct can never be truly righteous and godly; while on the other hand, unless the truth which is held speculatively is confessed practically and acted upon, as the truth according to godliness, it is likely to depart ere long from the mind of the man who was once illuminated, and its place will be occupied by some specious and fatal error. Such transmutation of God's truth into a lie is being continually effected by Satan, who, to accomplish his purpose the better can assume the form of an angel of light. Accordingly Paul warns Timothy, a young disciple, “ hold faith and a good conscience, which i.e. a good conscience,) some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Timothy i. 19.) You see how important it is to keep a good conscience, and to practice the truth we believe. Be sure of this, that where the heart is libertine, the creed will be latitudinarian. They who live in the practice and love of sin, are fain