God The Righteous Judge
Man’s Rebellion, His Own Destruction
John Hunt | Added: Nov 05, 2016 | Category: Theology
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When God threatens, Isaiah 27:11, He that made them, will not have mercy upon them, and He that formed them, will shew them no favour, He in the same verse gives the reason of His severity, and says, they were a people of no understanding; i.e. a brutish and sottish people, that understood nothing that was good. God in determining the eternal state of persons in the great day, will not act merely as a sovereign, to say this or that soul shall go to hell because He will have it so, but as a just Judge because they deserve it should be so. There is one text may give great light into this matter, Revelation 20:12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in those books, according to their works. Observe, here is a representation of the awful Day of Judgment; and observe, here was the Book of Life, so called, as containing the names of all such as God had decreed unto eternal life. But here were other books besides that, as containing the good and evil deeds of men, and it is said the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the [books;] not any one of them only, but all of them, according to their works. From whence it seems clear, that respect will be had both to the decrees of God, and works of men, in order to determine the eternal state of man, either as to happiness, or misery; so as their names being found written in the book of life shall not secure their entrance into Heaven without those good works they were chosen to, nor the best works secure their entrance into Heaven whose names are not written in the book of life. On the other hand, none shall be sent to Hell merely because their names are not found written in the Book of Life, who have not done some evil; for all the books were opened. To clear this further, let us suppose an elect soul called to the bar, and Christ the Judge to say to the angels that are to attend the service of that day, “Search the Book of Life, and see if this man’s name is found there”; they answer, “It is done as thou commandest, and here we find it written with thy own hand, that this man by name, living at such a time, and in such a place, should enter into Life.” Let us suppose the Judge further to say, “Search the other books, wherein all good deeds are recorded”; they answer, “It is done, and here we find it recorded of the same man by name, that such a day he heartily closed with Christ, and from that time truly repented of, and turned from sin, and solemnly devoted himself to the Service of God, and continued exercising himself to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and man to the day of his death.” Hereupon the Judge acquits him, saying, as Matthew 25:21. Well done, good and faithful servant;—enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
In the next place, to suppose some Reprobates to come trembling at the bar, and the Judge commands the angels to search the Book of Life if their names are found therein, the angels answer, “It is done, and none of their names are found there, let them die.” But let us suppose the Judge to say, “Before I give sentence of death, search the other book of all evil deeds done”; they answer, “It is done, and here we find it recorded of one of the prisoners at the bar by name, that he lived where the Gospel was purely preached, yet would not so much as hear it; yea, that he was a scoffer at, and a persecutor of, such as were better than himself; and a hater of all that was good.” “Of another of the prisoners it is found, that though he heard the Gospel, and had many a sweet call, yet he never would comply therewith, but lived in omission of those duties that thy faithful servants with the most pressing motives oft exhorted him unto; yea, that he was guilty of gross impieties, though often warned against them, and of the punishment that would certainly be inflicted for them.” “Of a third it is found, that he indeed was cast in the dark parts of the earth, and never so much as heard the joyful sound, and doth not stand chargeable of refusing to comply with the calls of grace, as the former was, yet he sinned in not obeying the dictates of conscience, which proves him to be worthy of death. Hereupon the Judge says to the prisoners, ”Guilty, or not guilty?" What have you to say for yourselves why sentence should not pass upon you? They stand trembling, pale, and speechless, like that man that wanted the wedding garment. The Judge then denounces the sentence of death, as Matthew 25:4, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, &c. not because not elected, but because they had omitted what they ought to have done, and had done what they ought not to have done: As Isaiah 3:11, Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him. And thus this great day is concluded, according to that general rule, John 5:28, 29; All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation: Thus we read Revelation 20:15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Nor is there the least shew of injustice, or unrighteousness; since God herein inflicts no more upon them, than was deserved by them. Nay, it would look much like unrighteousness not to do it; since it is as much the part of a righteous Judge to condemn and punish the guilty, as to clear the innocent. Says the Apostle, Romans 3:5, 6; Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance; God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?
What? Will any, instead of trembling at God’s judgments, charge Him with unrighteousness? Let them rather accuse themselves than God; and admire His patience, that He hath not long ago executed His decrees upon them as vessels of wrath, thus by sin fitted for destruction. Let such God-provoking sinners duly consider that text, Job 36:18, Because there is wrath, beware, lest he take thee away with his stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.
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