Sermon 1476. Jesus, the Judge
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 25, 1879,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And He commanded us to preach unto the people and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of thequick and the dead." Acts 10:42.
You will notice throughout this short address by Peter how very careful he is to speak not at all upon his own authority,but wholly upon the authority of the Most High. He commences his conversation by saying that God had shown him that it wouldbe right for him, as a Jew, to commune with Gentiles. God had shown it to him-he had not, therefore, broken through Jewishlaw as the result of his own judgment, but under Divine direction. He goes on to commence his sermon by saying, "The Wordwhich God sent unto the children of Israel." He had come, therefore, not with a Word of his own inventing, but with a Wordof God's sending. "That Word, I say, you know." Then he speaks of Jesus of Nazareth Himself as anointed with the Holy Spiritand with power. And he speaks of himself and his fellow Apostles as "witnesses," bearing testimony to what the Lord Jesushad done.
Now, this way of speaking was, perhaps, rendered the more necessary by the mistaken reverence which Cornelius had renderedto his person, for he fell down at the Apostle's feet and worshipped him, but it should be the constant habit of all the ministersof Christ. It is ours to keep within the boundaries of our commission and shield ourselves behind its authority. What arewe that we should, of ourselves, have anything to say unto you, my Brothers and Sisters? What is our authority and by whatright can we speak of ourselves? Verily, we have no such power over you and if we come unto you in our own name, bid us notGod speed!
Every true minister must speak because he is commanded to speak. He must speak what he is commanded to speak and he must beprepared to fall back upon the authority of the Word of God continually. "If they speak not according to this Word, it isbecause there is no light in them." Only if the testimony of any man is in accordance with the Word of God, is God with himand it would be perilous to reject his testimony. The Apostle was not long in his address before he came to the doctrine ofthe judgment of all men by Jesus Christ. He says that he was commanded to preach it and, therefore, he did preach it. It maynot be called, "the Gospel," but it is certainly a most important accessory Truth to the Gospel-it is one of those doctrineswithout which a Gospel ministry would not be complete. I mean that if in any testimony concerning Christ the doctrine thatHe shall come a second time to judge the world were utterly neglected, such a testimony would not be a complete Gospel.
Hence you find that Paul, when he preached to the famous congregation of the Areopagites, took care to insist upon this Truthof God. In Acts 17:30, 31, he says, "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointeda day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assuranceunto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead." This was also a part of Paul's subject when he stood before Felix-"hereasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come"-and this made Felix tremble, for there is great force of convictionin that solemn Truth of God.
The doctrine of the judgment of the world by Christ was used by Peter and Paul and other Apostles as a sort of preliminaryTruth which they insisted upon before they came to the essence of the Gospel which consists in preaching Jesus Christ as aSavior. They plowed with this doctrine before they sowed the invitations of the Gospel. They did not, however, lay the axeto the root and then forget to proclaim the Word of Grace-they preached the terrors of the Lord, not in a legal, but a Gospelmanner! Peter does so in this case, for he first speaks of Christ in the judgment and then in verse 43 he adds, "To Him giveall the Prophets witness, that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins."
This morning, in obedience to the same command, I shall try to speak, first of all, upon the message. And, secondly, uponthe evident importance to be attached to it which we shall, in a great measure, gather from the words of our text. May theHoly Spirit, who in Peter's day fell on all those who heard his word, fall, also, upon you as you are led to believe in theLord Jesus!
I. First, let us consider THE MESSAGE which God commands all His servants to declare. That message begins with the assurancethat there is a moral government. There is a Judge over the race of men-we are not as the locusts, of whom Solomon says thatthey have no king. The world is not left unobserved of God to be as a den of wild beasts, or a pond of fish where everyonedevours his fellow and none calls them to account. Men are not permitted to do whatever is right in their own eyes, but thereis a Law and a Governor over them. God has committed all authority unto His Son and Jesus Christ, at this moment, reigns andrules over the whole race of men, taking account of all the actions that are done in their bodies and making note of everythingin order to the summing up of all things by-and-by. There is a Law, there is a rule, there is a government over the humancommonwealth. The race is not left to anarchy-Jesus Christ is Head of all.
That being announced, we have to go on to say that there will be a judgment. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but afterthis the judgment." As the result of there being a government over mankind, an assize will be held where cases will be triedand justice will be administered. This, indeed, is the sanction and support of the Law, that it will call men to account.Its voice of power proclaims, "O you house of Israel, I will judge you everyone after his ways." There will be a day of finalaccount. I need not stop to quote the numerous passages of Scripture which assert that every one of us must give an accountof himself before God, for we are fully persuaded that "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of
But, my Brothers and Sisters, we think that all reasonable persons will conclude that there must be a judgment if they willonly consider the Character of God. Being the Ruler of the world, He must do justice. We should count any man who was madea king but a miserable counterfeit of a monarch if he never administered justice at all. If we had a state without laws, orlaws without punishments for those who broke them, we should be, indeed, in a wretched condition and our king would be themimicry of royalty! But such is not the case in the kingdom of Him who rules over all! It is said of our Lord, "You love righteousnessand hate wickedness"-this makes us feel that He wills to do justice. And as assuredly as He has power to punish transgression,we feel certain that He will do so.
There will come a day in which He will judge the acts of men because His Character is not such that He could or would triflewith evil. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." "The Father who, without respectof persons, judges according to every man's works" will not permit offenders to insult His Laws with impunity! It is wrappedup in the very idea of God that He is Judge of all the earth and must do right-and to do right He must hold a final courtin which He will "render to every man according to his deeds." The character of man equally involves a judgment, for he isevidently a responsible being and this is dear to anybody who cares to open his eyes.
We count not the cattle of the hills or the fish of the sea responsible-let them do what they may. No one blames the wolfthat he howls, or the lion that he devours. But when we come to think of man, we regard him as a creature whose actions havea moral quality about them and are either right or wrong. In fact, he is a responsible agent. Surely, where there is responsibilitythere is a law and where there is a law there must, some day or other, be rewards for well-doers and punishments for malefactors.The constitution and nature of man inevitably require this, or else his responsibility is given to him in vain.
Now, the present tangled condition of the world's history requires that there should be a day of rectification at the endof time. At this moment we often see the wicked prosper while the righteous are abased. At this day the mirth and the jollityare often connected with sin, while sorrow and grief go hand in hand with godliness in many and many an instance. Rememberhow the wise man argued and be persuaded by his reasoning-"Moreover, I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickednesswas there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous andthe wicked." Since the actions of men are evidently now left unpunished and highhanded sin holds power, there must come arighting of the wrong and a clearing of the just. The Judge of all the earth must do right and how can this be but by a finaladjustment in which it shall be clearly seen that though the wicked prosper for a while, they are as bullocks fattening forthe slaughter-and though the righteous suffer for a while, it is but as the gold suffers in the furnace-that it may come forthpurified.
Every heart that has ever groaned under the oppressor's wrong; every soul that has ever writhed under the proud man's arrogancemust feel that there must be an end to the reign and riot of evil and a time in which innocence shall be avenged. Every Jobmay lift himself up before his false accusers and say, "I know that my Avenger lives and that He will stand in the latterday upon the earth." Moreover, there is in the consciences of most, if not of all men, a testimony to a coming judgment. Iwill not say of all men, for I believe that some manage to drug their self-consciousness as at last to quiet all their fears.But the most of men believe in a judgment to come and in their more thoughtful moods are alarmed.
There is more faith as to the judgment than we dream of in those who are most profanely daring in their speeches against God.The reason why they speak so exceedingly proud is because their consciences make them cowards-and to veil their cowardicethey use bombastic words. These are the men that tremble first-the men that first cry out for mercy when the hand of God beginsto touch them! How very seldom do you find a man die in stolid unbelief! At some time or other, reason will speak and consciencewill be heard-and then that "dread of something after death" makes men cling, even, to the most wretched state-choosing, rather,to bear the ills they have than fly to others! They know not of the universal conscience, or almost universal conscience,that speaks like a prophet within the soul and tells of a throne of judgment, a Heaven and a Hell!
Now, whether we had or had not this argument to support us would make not one jot of difference to those of us who believein the Word of God. What God says would always be enough for us, even if the nature of things and the apparent force of reasonshould flatly contradict His Word. Yes, I will even put it in that harsh way! We are always glad when we get the subordinatehelp of arguments fetched from the nature of things and so forth, but we care very little about them. We have accepted theBible as God's Revelation. We believe the teaching of this Book to be Infallible and inasmuch as the Scriptures declare thatthere is a judgment to come, we confidently look for it.
Now, according to the Revelation of the Gospel, this judgment will be conducted by the Man, Christ Jesus. God will judge theworld, but it will be through His Son whom He has ordained and appointed to actually carry out the business of that last tremendousday. He who shall sit upon the Throne is "the Son of Man." He will be thus enthroned, I suppose, partly because it is involvedin His mediatorial office in which the Lord has put all things in subjection under His feet. He is at the right hand of God-"angelsand authorities, and powers being made subject unto Him." God has been pleased to put the world, not under the direct governmentof personal Deity, but under the government of the Mediator, that He might deal with us in mercy.
That Mediator is Prophet, Priest and King-and His kingship would be robbed of its Glory if the King had not the power of lifeand death-and the power of holding court and judging His subjects. Jesus Christ, therefore, being mediatorial King and Sovereignand all power being given unto Him in Heaven and in earth, will take unto Himself His great power at the last and will judgethe nations. This high position is also awarded to our Lord as an honor from the Father by which shall be wiped away everytrace of the shame and dishonor through which He passed among the sons of men. The kings of the earth stood up to judge Him,but they shall stand before Him to be judged! The rulers took counsel together to condemn Him, but the rulers shall standat His bar to be, themselves, condemned!
Pontius Pilate and the chief priests shall all be there. And Caesar and all Caesars and Czars and emperors and kings and princesshall do homage before Him in the lowest manner by standing before His judgment seat as prisoners to be tried by Him. Therewill be no remembrance of the scepter of reed, for He shall break His enemies with a rod of iron! There shall be no marksof the crown of thorns, for on His head shall be many a diadem! Men shall not, then, be able to think of Him as the Man oftears with His visage sadly marred by grief and shame, for His eyes shall be as flames of fire and His Countenance as thesun shining in its strength!
O Cross, whatever of shame there was about you shall be wiped out forever among the sons of men, for this Man shall sit uponthe Throne of Judgment! The Father designed to put this honor upon Him and He has right well deserved it. Jesus Christ asGod has a Glory which He had with the Father before the world was. But as God-Man, He has a Glory which His Father has givenHim to be the reward of that labor of life and death by which He has redeemed His people. "Give unto the Lord glory and strength"is the ascription of all His saints and God, the Everlasting Father has done this unto His Son, concerning whom He has swornthat every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord to the Glory of God the Father!!
"Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodlyamong them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinnershave spoken against Him." I want you especially to remember that in the Holy Scriptures we are perpetually reminded, in referenceto the Judgment, that it is a judgment by the Man Christ Jesus. There must be special reason for this honor done to the Manhoodof our Lord, or it would not be so continually insisted upon. Daniel, in his prophecy, (7:13), says-"I saw in the night visionsand, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of Heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Himnear before Him."
The coming One in his vision was "the Son of Man" and we all know to whom that title belongs. Hence our Lord Himself veryearly in His ministry took care to claim for Himself this power of governance and judgment. Turn to John 5:22 where He says, "The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son,even as they honor the Father." Then, in verse 27, He gives us the reason for His being thus ordained to be the Judge-"AndHe has given Him authority to execute judgment, also, because He is the Son of Man." So that not only does Daniel see Himas the Son of Man, but Jesus Christ, Himself, declares that the authority to judge is given to Him because He is the Son ofMan-there being in that fact a peculiar reason why He should be Judge of all mankind.
Your memories will at once allow you to recollect that in the famous pictures drawn by our Lord wherein He describes the Judgment,(Matt. 25:31, 32), He takes care to begin by saying, "When the Son of Man shall come in His Glory, and all the holy angels with Him, thenshall He sit upon the Throne of His Glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them, one fromanother, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats." He does not call Himself the Son of God in this case, but says,"The Son of Man shall come in His Glory." So is it, too, in Matthew 13:41-"The Son of Man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that
This it was which seems to have struck the Apostle Paul so much when he quoted from the Psalms and applied the language toChrist, in Hebrews 2-"What is man, that You are mindful of him? Or the son of man, that You visit him? You made him a little lower than the angels;You crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of Your hands: You have put all things in subjectionunder his feet." Whereon he says, "We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor." It is as Son of God as well as Man-having anintense sympathy both with the King and with the subjects- having manifested His Grace even to the rebellious and being yetfilled with intense love to the Father and His Law. If we could have the election of a judge, what being could we supposemore impartial or so impartial as the Lord, who, though He counted it not robbery to be equal with God, yet made Himself ofno reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh?
O blessed Judge, be You at once enthroned by the choice of the whole creation! This Person is peculiarly suitable to be Judgebecause He has a perfect knowledge of the Law. Yes, Your Law is My delight, He says. He put on righteousness as a garment.The Lord Jesus Christ, from His youth up, was an exceedingly deep scholar of the Law of God. He grew, as a Child, in wisdomconcerning the will of God. His ears were opened to hear as He learned, that He might know how to speak a word in season tothem that are weary. He knows the Law, for He made Himself subject to it and kept it in all its parts. This is the first requisiteof a judge-to be thoroughly acquainted with the statute-book.
Yet further, He knows, also, the evil of law-breaking. What a Judge is this whom God has appointed, who, strange to say, hasHimself suffered for sin though in Him was no sin, for He was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners! Yet thesting of sin, which is death, He has endured and the curse of sin has passed upon Him, as it is written, "Cursed is everyonethat hangs on a tree." With what precision, then, can He judge who, being both God and Man and knowing well the Law, has alsoan intimate acquaintance with all the heinousness and wickedness of law-breaking! Well did the Father choose Him to be theJudge of the quick and the dead! It puts judgment beyond a fault when He who is the Friend of sinners is made the Judge ofsinners. Thus much, then, concerning the fact that there will be a judgment and that this judgment will be conducted by theMan, Christ Jesus.
Now, observe, that this judgment will concern all mankind. He will judge the quick and the dead, that is, those who will bealive at His coming He will judge as well as those who have already died. He may come before some of us shall die. The timeof His advent we cannot guess, but we shall certainly appear before His Judgment Seat whenever He shall fix the assize. Thesummons will exempt no man-from the utmost ends of the earth they shall come! None will be able to hide
themselves in solitary places, or to find shelter among the crowded cities. Here and there a criminal escapes the vigilanteyes of human law. Though it is difficult to do so, there have been cunning men who, year after year, have managed by variousdisguises to escape recognition and have continued their depredations and evaded the police. But there shall be no such instanceamong all that shall be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord!
And as for the dead who have died in past ages, they shall all rise again. What prodigious multitudes! What crowds that baffleall arithmetic! Yet shall they all be arraigned and tried-all the living and all the dead of Christian lands and heathen lands-ofantediluvian ages and of ages upon which the ends of the earth have come. Kings, princes and every bondman, rich and poor,small and great, shall all stand in that Last Great Day in Christ's great Judgment Hall. It concerns you, my Brothers, asit does me. It concerns you, my Sisters, and your children as well as those who have gone before. As surely as the Lord lives,the things that are seen shall pass away-mountains and hills shall flee before Him and rocks shall be melted down at His Presence-butHis Word shall never pass away! And behold, He comes! "Behold, He comes 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."
Just a few words concerning this Judgment. When He does come, that judgment will be a very eminent one. It will be a judgmentfixed by the peremptory ordinance of God, for the text says that He has "ordained" Jesus to sit as Judge. It is by ordinanceand decree that Jesus Christ will take the Throne. He takes not this honor upon Himself on His own authority, but He claimsthe Throne as One that was ordained of God as was Aaron. In all His offices He quotes the Divine decree and for this, thelast of all, He has the ordinance of God to be the Judge of the quick and the dead. Everything done will be by Divine authority-therewill be the stamp and seal of the everlasting God set upon everything that shall be transacted on that grand occasion. Thewhole trial will be most solemnly conducted. I shall not, for a single moment, attempt a description of the scene. There isroom, indeed, for imagery and poetry, but we have none of these and need them not this morning. This will suffice-"For theLord, Himself, shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and thedead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thess. 4:16).
There shall be shouts when He comes, as if all the angelic bands lifted up their voices in acclamation and, above them all,one voice shall ring out most majestically, the voice of the archangel! And yet above all other sounds a trumpet call shallthunder forth, most dreadful to the ears of ungodly men. Louder than ten thousand thunders shall it peal over earth and seaand none shall be able to resist the summons. Then, in His descent, the Judge shall pass into the region of the clouds. Heshall sit upon a Great White Throne and every eye shall see Him-and also they which crucified Him. His coming will be withgreat pomp of angelic splendor, fit for the state of such a King and for the solemnity of such a day!
That judgment will be very searching, for the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we shall give an account for the deeds done in the body, each one according to what he has done, whether it is goodor whether it is bad. And our Savior, in Matthew 12:36, informs us that for every idle word that man shall speak he must give account in the Day of Judgment-words, therefore, willbe put in evidence as well as actions. Yes, and there will be an account taken in that day of things which never reached thepublicity of words, for you know how Solomon closed up the book of Ecclesiastes by saying that, "God will bring every workinto judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil." Paul also says, "God will judge the secretsof men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel."
Such things as were never known by our fellow creatures and were forgotten by ourselves shall be revealed and judged. Imaginations,lusts and desires of the soul, secret thoughts and passions and murmuring shall be laid open before all men-and before Godshall a reckoning be made. That Judgment will be of a very exact kind. It will proceed upon evidence and documentary testimony-slanderand hearsay will not be mentioned. No condemnation will come upon good men through the whisperings of malicious tongues, buteverything shall be done in due order and according to the rules of the Court of Heaven.
Listen to this-"And I saw a Great White Throne and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away,and there was found no place for them: and I saw the dead, small and great stand before God, and the books were opened"-documentarytestimony brought into court as evidence-"and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life, and the dead were judgedout of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Don't you see that the judgment will be doneby record and solemn affidavit, in that great Court of King's Bench? There
will be no hurry, no passing over judgment with a light hand-all will be done in truth, equity and according to facts recordedby the Infallible Omniscience of God.
And what severity of justice will then be seen, for things will not be judged by their outward appearance, but put to thoroughtest and trial! Hear the words of the Lord-"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, becauseit shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." Well may we cry with Malachi, "Butwho may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like a fuller'ssoap." The sentences which will then be pronounced will be so just as to be indisputable and even the condemned will admitthe justness. At the Last Great Day not one of the condemned shall be able to deny his guilt nor the justice of the sentence!Though sent to Hell, he will feel it is what he deserves.
You remember when the king came in to see the guests and found a man that had not on a wedding garment, the intruder couldmake no excuse, but stood speechless? There shall be an assent in every human mind to the sentence of the Christ of God-itshall flash such awful conviction into the soul of every sinner that, though he is damned, his own soul shall say, "Amen,"to the condemnation! Oh, what a Judgment Day will that be in which everyone shall be certain, even in his own sad case, thatthe verdict of the Judge is bright as the sun with righteousness and cannot be appealed against! This, surely, will be theHell of Hell-that it is deserved even in its utmost pang and bitterest pain. Oh, my Hearers, will any of you have to say,"Amen," to your own condemnation? I pray the Lord to save you from such a fate.
That verdict will be final and irreversible. When Jesus has once pronounced it, there will be no appeal, no suing out of awrit of error, no reversal of the decree. He Himself has said it-"These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but therighteous into life eternal." There will be no delay in execution, nor escape from the doom! There will be no steeling ofthe heart to endure it and no outliving the doom! It will last on in all its terror, the final verdict of the Judge of allthe earth, pronounced by the Christ of Love! I know not how to speak upon such a theme as this, but must leave it as it standsbefore you. May the Holy Spirit impress it upon your minds.
II. I desire, in the second place, to call your attention for a little while to THE EVIDENT IMPORTANCE OF THIS MESSAGE. Itsimportance may be gathered from the text because it says, "He commanded us to preach this." Did the eternal God give a commandfor us to preach this Truth of God? Then He must know, in His infinite wisdom, that there is a great necessity for its beingdeclared. But please notice the way in which the command is to be executed. "He commanded us to preach." Now, to preach meansto herald, to proclaim. Lo, we this day precede the great Judge as the trumpeters go before our judges on assize day and thisis our cry, "He comes! He comes! He comes! The Man of Nazareth, Jesus, the Crucified, is coming, appointed Judge of the quickand the dead!"
And we are to cry this with all the loudness of voice and earnestness of tone and solemnity of manner which become the heraldsof the King of kings! Whether you believe it or not, He comes! Whether you trifle with it or not. Whether you are rebels orloyal subjects, He comes and that speedily! He comes to judge the world in righteousness and the people in equity. Thus wemake solemn proclamation in His name, declaring to you a fact which you will do well to hear with serious hearts and thoughtfulminds.
But then it is added that we are "to testify that it is He." Having given the proclamation, we are then to solemnly bear witnessand to speak the fact over and over again for God, adding our own belief that it is surely true. In the Greek, this word,"testify," is very forcible, something like the affirmation which those of us who account it wrong to take an oath are knownto make in courts of law. We give our solemn affirmation and truthful testimony that it is so. It is the truth, the wholetruth and nothing but the truth that we declare when we tell you that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of Man, is comingupon the clouds of Heaven to judge the quick and the dead. We are to speak of this as a thing we know and are certain of-andwe are to stand before men and whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear-testify that it is so. That which is tobe both proclaimed and testified in obedience to the Divine command is no mean matter. Listen and take heed, I beseech you.
And this is to be done "unto the people"-not to some few, but to all the people-to the Gentiles, to the nations. Whereverwe go, this is to be part of our proclamation as the heralds of Christ, "Behold, He comes to judge mankind." To you, my Hearers,even to you is this word of warning sent! Will you not regard it? Now, Brethren, there is importance in this, not only accordingto the text, but from other reasons. If you think awhile, you will see that it sheds a great light upon the future of theungodly. Whatever you, my Brother, choose to say of the wrath of God which is
revealed concerning the impenitent, please think of this! It may be you feel troubled about its dread severity and eternity-butlet this ease your perplexity that the Judge upon whom the sentence depends is Jesus Christ, the Savior of men!
I feel perfectly safe in leaving the future of the wicked in such hands as His! And however terrible may be His own words-andthey are terrible to the last degree-about the future of the lost, I, for one, can never quarrel with Him. If it were Mosesthat spoke, if he spoke for God, I dare not challenge him, yet there might be the temptation. But when He speaks who is theSon of Man, let all the earth keep silence before Him! The severity which He exercises must be inevitable severity-you canbe sure of that. If there is pain, anguish and wrath to every soul of man that does evil, then, since it is the Christ whowill pronounce it, it will be because it must be and cannot be helped, but must be so in the nature of things. Therefore webow before this dreadful doctrine of Scripture and, instead of trying to quiet men in their sins, we know the terrors of theLord and we beseech them, in Christ's stead, that they be reconciled to God-
"You sinners, seek His face, Whose wrath you cannot bear! Fly to the shelter of His Cross And find salvation there." Fly intothe clefts of that rock which otherwise will grind you to powder when it falls upon you!
This doctrine, too, that Christ is Judge, ought never to be forgotten because it reflects great Glory upon Him. Ah, sons ofmen, you may despise Him, but He is your Master! You may say, "Let us break His bands asunder and cast His cords from us,"but Jehovah's own decree has set Him as King upon His holy hill of Zion! You may, if you will, bite your lips and rage andrave against the Incarnate God, Jesus our Lord and King, but you shall stand before Him as surely as you live, to confessthe blindness and the futility of your opposition and to be made to bow your knees in terror if you will not bend them, now,in reverence! Yes, He is King! The world may say what it wills and there may come darker times than these, but the lone stargleams afar with undying brightness-the Star of the morning which ushers in the eternal day! Jesus comes and when He comes,light breaks for all that are on His side-and the black and murky darkness of an endless night shall descend on all that areHis foes.
I close by noticing that the importance of this doctrine is very great if we remember its beneficial effect upon our everydaylife. I constantly hear silly people, wicked persons, say, "Tell the people about something that has to do with today-aboutcleanliness and honesty and all that!" As if we did not do that and as if we were not the first to exhort men to fulfill allmanner of social duties, do we not bid them think on whatever things are pure, honest, temperate and of good repute? And ifI want men to live righteously, soberly and honestly, I know of no motive that can have greater weight with them than thisof a judgment to come! Take that away from us and what have we to urge upon the sons of men at all? If they are to die likebrutes, they will live like brutes! If there is no hereafter, they do well to say, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow wedie."
This, though it looks like a future thing, is one of the present-day questions of every hour. You are stewards-you will haveto give your account. Your Lord will come and question you as to your use of His goods. Will anybody in his senses tell methat this is unpractical? Surely every reasonable man will admit that for the promotion of right, truth and holiness, thisis one of the most practical considerations that can possibly be found. If God will judge men at the last, it behooves mento see how they live today. Another special benefit of this Truth of God is its convincing and awakening power. Men tremblewhen they hear of judgment to come and they are led to cry, "What must we do to be saved?" Men begin to confess their sinswhen they are told that the Law by which they will be judged is spiritual and reaches even to the thoughts and intents ofthe heart. "Then," they say, "who can stand before His Presence when once He is angry? If even to think an evil thought, orto lust an evil desire brings condemnation, who among us can stand when the heart-searching God shall sift the sons of men?"
This is the reason why it ought to be preached, for only penitents convinced of sin are likely to accept the remission ofsins. This is the plow which makes furrows for the good Seed! This is the surgeon's knife which prepares for the receptionof the healing balm. And O, my Brothers and Sisters, you all know how quickening this doctrine is to Christians! We do notfear the Day of Judgment-we do not dread the thought of standing before our Lord Jesus because we have a plea which we knowwill answer every purpose! Our plea is this-we have been tried, condemned and punished already! Judge of all, You know whenwe were tried, judged and condemned! Look! In Your hands are the nail
prints which are the witnesses that You bore our sins in Your own body on the tree! Look! On Your side You wear the ruby gemwhich tells how Your own heart made expiation for the guilt of all that trust in You!
We are not afraid, for there is no judgment for him who is judged already! There is no punishment for him who is punishedalready in a Substitute whom God has accepted! Yet this expectation of judgment quickens us to holy duty- we feel that sincethe Master comes, we would be as men that look for their Lord and stand with our loins girded, doing service, expecting tohear His footstep at any moment-
"O watch and pray! The Judge is at the door!
Before His flaming bar you soon must stand.
O watch! And keep your garments spotless pure,
And then shall you be found at His right hand." I shall be glad if any word that I have spoken upon this Truth of God shallstrike and stick and abide in your hearts- and make those think who have been most thoughtless concerning the world to come.Years ago a gentlewoman had been spending an afternoon at cards and the evening at a ball and such-like amusements. She camehome very late and found that her maid, who was sitting up waiting for her, was reading a book. "Ah," she said, "are you stillporing over your dull books? They make you moping and melancholy."
The lady retired to her chamber but she couldn't sleep. In the night she was troubled and fell a-weeping. Sleep forsook her.She tossed to and fro and at length she called her maid, who asked, "Madam, what ails you? I thought I left you very merryand well." "Oh," she said, "but I looked over your book and I only saw one word and that word stings me. I cannot sleep. Icannot bear it!" "What word was it, Madam?" "It was that word, 'ETERNITY.' Oh, Maid," she said, "it is very well for me tosport and play and waste my time as I have done, but oh, eternity, eternity, eternity! How can I face eternity?"
And so that night was turned to weeping and to prayer. I could wish the same might happen, now, to many of you. The Judgeis at the door! Jesus comes to judge you-will you have Him, now, to be your Savior? If not, His coming will cause you to weepand wail-and that throughout eternity! Remember that word, ETERNITY. God bless you all. Amen.