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which may seem to countenance each of them. But if we consider that all the righteous will have gone to heaven before that day, and all the wicked to the regions of darkness, except the righteous and wicked that shall then be alive, we have good reason to think that this world will be reduced to ashes, before Christ shall sit on the judgment seat. For we are told that the righteous, who shall be alive at that day, shall meet the Lord in the air, and leave this world; and undoubtedly the wicked, who are alive, like the righteous, will immediately stand before the judgment seat of Christ. After the solemn process is ended, we are told what will become of both the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous, Christ will say, “ Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But to the wicked he will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Here is no intimation that either saints or sinners will be sent back to this world, as the place of their final residence; but it is plainly intimated that the wicked will be sent to the regions of darkness, where the fallen angels are now, and will finally take up their eternal residence there, while the righteous will be admitted to the mansions which Christ shall have prepared for them in the kingdom of heaven, where none but holy men and angels will reside for ever. But if the planets were inhabited by either holy or unholy beings, why is no mention made of their being present at the great day of decision, and of their going away with the righteous, or with the wicked ? The only rational answer to this question is, that there are no such holy, or unholy inhabitants in the planets or fixed stars.
3. If God acted systematically in the work of creation, and formed every individual in connection with and in relation to the whole, then we may justly conclude that he always acts systematically in governing the world. If he had but one great ultimate object in the work of creation, and made such creatures and such things only as he saw necessary to accomplish his ultimate design, then we may be sure that he governs every creature and every object in subserviency to his ultimate design in creation. He has a regard to the whole material world, in moving, directing and disposing of every particle of matter; and he has as constant regard to the whole moral world, in his conduct towards every rational being. Both the natural and moral worlds are always transparent in his view; and whenever he causes any thing to move in the natural world, or any creature to act in the moral world, he has a regard to his whole system. He has a paternal and impartial regard to his whole family in heaven and earth, in his treatment of every angel, and in his treatment of every man.
A wise and kind parent will
have an impartial regard to his whole family, and will not favor one child to the injury of his whole family. And, if he have a large family, he will treat every one of his children differently from what he would if he had but one child. So the wise and kind parent of the universe treats angels differently from what he would if there were no men; and he treats men differently from what he would if there were no angels. They are all connected like one family; and God's conduct, in the course of providence, is governed by these mutual relations, though neither angels nor men discover all these relations and connections, and of course do not, in a thousand cases, see the reasons of the dispensations of providence and grace. It is because God governs all beings and all objects systematically, that his judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out, by men or angels. And God will continue to govern angels and men, kings and kingdoms, and every intelligent creature, in this systematical and mysterious manner, as long as the world stands, though it plunges all the inhabitants of heaven and earth in darkness and doubts, hopes and fears; because he cannot give account of his matters, without explaining his whole system. But,
4. If God created all things at once, and as one whole or connected system, then he can remove all the darkness which now rests, or ever has rested, on his providence. It is only to bring all his intelligent creatures together, and show them their relations to and connection with each other; and that will discover the various reasons of his conduct towards every individual, and convince them all that he has been holy, wise and just, in all the dispensations of his providence and grace. When they see the same reasons that he saw for his conduct, it will carry irresistible evidence to every created being, that he has treated him perfectly right. He has done this, partly, in a great many instances. He convinced Joseph and his brethren that he meant it for good, that he had treated them all as he did treat them. As God has a reason for every instance of his conduct towards every creature he has made, so he never forgets any reason of his conduct; and this enables him to show all his creatures, however numerous they are, why he has smiled upon them at one time, and why he has frowned upon them at another; why he has given them one thing, and denied them another; and why he has treated one so differently from another. He knows all the relations and connections between individuals, nations, and kingdoms; and he treats them all according to the various relations which they bear to him, and to each other. And he intends to make them all know all these relations, upon which all his conduct towards them is founded.
It is impossible that he should give them this knowledge, so long as they live separately, and are acting the various parts on the stage of life which he has appointed. But when he has brought them all together, and shown them all the situations, relations and connections, in which they have been placed, then he can make them see why he has placed them where he has placed them, why he has treated them as he has treated them, and why he has employed them as he has employed them, to answer the wise ends for which he created them. They will then see the same reasons of his conduct which he saw before he laid the foundations of the earth, or created angels and men. It is sufficient for him to tell them that they know not now, why, or what he does, but they shall know hereafter to their perfect satisfaction.
5. If God created all things at once, to answer a certain great and good purpose, then that day will be a glorious day, when this purpose shall be completely accomplished. And it will be completely accomplished at the end of the world. So that the end of the world will be a far more glorious day than the day of creation. Then the sons of God shouted aloud for joy, though they knew but very little of the great and good designs God had in creating it. They have been very ardently engaged in looking into these designs, as they have been gradually unfolding from age to age, for nearly six thousand years. Nor has their ardor abated, but rather increased, to see the sun and stars falling, and the whole frame of this lower world dissolving; and to behold the winding up of the great drama, in which all intelligent beings have been actors. And it is equally true, that good men, as well as good angels, sincerely desire to see the great result of creation, and the means and instruments by which God's ultimate end is accomplished. The things to be seen, to be heard, and to be known, at the last day, will be unspeakably pleasing to every benevolent heart.
Men are extremely fond of knowing what has been done, what is doing, and what will be done, in every part of the world, while they live in it. They are anxious to know the present state of Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, France, Russia, and Britain. But at the last day, they shall know all the events which have taken place in every part of the universe, from the beginning to the end of time, and all the agents by whom they have been brought about, and all the motives by which they were governed, and all the reasons why God caused them all to do what they did, to accomplish his great design in the work of creation. And this knowledge will clear up all the dark things in providence, and all the dark and mysterious parts of God's conduct in the creation and government of the heavens and the earth,
with all their hosts of men and angels. And in this light, all holy beings will see nothing but light to all eternity; which will fill them with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
6. If the end of the world will exhibit such a blaze of perfect light, then we may be sure that it will fix all intelligent creatures in their final and unalterable state. Those who are happy in the light of the last day, must necessarily be happy for ever; and those who are unhappy in that light, must be unhappy and completely miserable for ever. None will be saved or lost after that day. Those who then love light will always love it; and those who then hate light will always hate it. God's purposes will then be so fully answered, and things will then be brought to that perfect state, that no alteration can be made for the better. And the whole universe will be convinced that the sentences pronounced at that day are absolutely decisive and irreversible.
TEESE things understood not his disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and
that they had done these things unto him. — JOAN, xii. 16.
The day after Christ had visited Lazarus at Bethany,“ much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that he was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel, that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt.” This triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem was predicted in the ninth chapter of Zechariah. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, o daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass.” These things, however, which were so plainly foretold by the prophet, “understood not his disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him." God had good reasons for foretelling this great and joyful event, though he knew that his prediction would not be understood until after it was fulfilled.
In treating of the subject of prophecy, which now lies before us, I shall show,
1. That God does foretell, in bis word, many events before they come to pass;
II. That he never fails to bring to pass the events he foretells; And,