« ForrigeFortsæt »
rejoice in their youth, and to let their hearts cheer them in the days of their youth: and are for walking in the ways of their hearts and in the sight of their eyes." But if they will do so, the wise man has told them what they must expect in the conclusion, "Know thou, that for all these things GOD will bring thee into judgment," Eccles. xi. 9. This will certainly be the end of all their mirth and jollity; that will pass away "like a tale that is told," and never be heard more; but what remains will be a sad account to be given of all their frolicks and delights, if they have offended GoD by them, as ten thousand to one but they have often done. There will then be an end of them all; the scene must change, when they must pay very dear for all their short sinful mirth and pleasures, and be confined to a dismal place of darkness and horror, there to suffer the just effects of GOD's displeasure, "in weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth for ever."
If, therefore, young men would be wise for themselves, and prevent all this, let them take the same wise man's advice, Eccles. xii. 1. and "remember their creator in the days of their youth;" and consecrate their tender age to his service. Let them begin betimes to think of Judgment, and govern their lives under a due sense of it. This will not hinder them from taking pleasure in their lives, but help them to be more prudent in the choice of it. This will direct them to the more solid and substantial pleasure of all that can be had in this world, even to the testimony of a good conscience, while it helps to preserve them from youthful lusts, and all other follies, which may endanger the loss of the favour of GOD.
Nay, early thoughts of Judgment will enable them to make greater advances and attainments in piety and virtue, which will greatly augment their reward hereafter. But when men sin on to old age,
should they prove true penitents at last, which is exceeding hard, and exceeding hazardous too, they can never recover this lost time in their Christian race. At the best, they must look forward with fear and trembling into the other world. For such late penitents do usually carry the marks of their repentance in shame and sorrow to their graves. But those that begin their lives aright, and pursue a steady course of piety and virtue in the fear of GoD all their lives long, by keeping continually a future Judgment in their view, what great improvements may they not make, and what glorious rewards may they not expect from their righteous Judge? In short, this will lay the most sure foundation of peace and comfort within their hearts while they live; and when they come to die, will give them such an humble assurance of mercy from GoD, at the great day of account, as will make them to welcome even death itself, "with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
What are all Persons to be judged for.
I PROCEED NOW to the fifth thing which I proposed to speak to in treating of this subject, a future Judgment; and that is, to consider what the persons are to be judged for, who shall appear before "the judgment-seat of CHRIST."
The answer to this, in general, is very plain, from the words of St. Paul, 2 Cor. v. 10. "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of CHRIST, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." The meaning of which words is this, That all men whatsoever shall be accountable at the day of Judgment for all the things they have
done in this life, while they were in this world, in this state of union of the soul and body: and shall receive the due recompence and reward of them, whether they were good or whether they were evil.' These are usually comprehended under these three general heads, of thoughts, words, and actions.
First, We must all be accountable for our thoughts ; which are the inward acts of our minds.
Such are all the secret designs, purposes, and intentions, which all we have cherished and entertained in them; which shall be considered and examined at the last day; and we shall be judged for them, as well as for our outward actions. "For GoD is the searcher of hearts," 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. and the "discerner of the 66 underthoughts," Psalm cxxxix. 1, 2, and standeth all our imaginations." Nothing that is conceived in our minds, can be hidden from his allseeing eye; our hearts to him are as open as the most public actions of our lives. And it is certain, we may sin with our minds and spirits, as well as with our bodies. For GOD, who is a spirit, requires the worship and obedience of our minds and spirits, being offended with sinful and impure thoughts, as well as with wicked actions.
If we therefore frequently cherish in our minds any wanton, lewd, and lustful desires, and please ourselves with impure fancies and imaginations: if we secretly harbour in our hearts any malicious_and revengeful purposes, and contrive and wish for opportunities to effect them, though by some accident or other we are prevented from executing our designs and intentions; yet we are, in the sight and esteem of GOD, as accountable for them, as if we had For he actually put our designs in execution. that would do ill, but wants means and opportunity for it, contracts the same guilt in the sight of GOD, as if the thing had been actually committed; because Thus our his mind approves of, and consents to it. Saviour has given us his determination in a case of
the like nature:' " Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart," St. Matt. v. 28.
And as it is with criminal actions intended only, and not fulfilled, that they shall be brought to account at the day of Judgment, and punished according to the demerit of them; so shall it also be with relation to the good intentions of the heart. Whosoever has a sincere desire and disposition in his heart to good, and would gladly accomplish it if he could, though he should be hindered from it; yet he will be esteemed by GoD to have all the merit which those desires, if they had been fully effected, could have given him, and shall have his good intentions considered and rewarded at the day of Judgment.'
Secondly, We must be accountable for our words. This our Saviour himself has assured us of, that we shall be judged for our words: St. Matt. xii. 36, 37. "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of Judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." And, indeed, what can men more deserve to be judged for than their words, their vain, idle, and wicked words; than which nothing does more mischief in the world, as little as some men make of them? What can shew a greater contempt of GOD, than for men to call GOD to witness, upon every trifling occasion, to their lies and falsehoods, by their horrid oaths? What more profane than to call upon GOD, to damn themselves and others, at almost every word they speak? What tends more to corrupt men's morals and lives, than lewd, wanton, and filthy talk, than atheistical discourses and profane jests upon religion and the holy Scriptures? Does not St. Paul tell us, that "evil communications corrupt good manners?" 1 Cor. xv. 33. What makes more divisions in the world, and creates greater Bp. Greene's Discourses.
disturbances to neighbours, and families, and private persons, than slandering, and backbiting, and talebearing? And can we then think it fit that all this should pass for nothing at the Judgment of the great day? May not every one of us rather trembling say, What shall I do, if GoD shall enter into Judgment with me for every idle word? O blessed GOD, what shall become of them who love not only "foolish talking and jesting, which are not convenient, but to speak evil one of another;" Ephes. v. 4. James iv. 11. to slander, to backbite, to create disturbances; and to raise divisions among their neighbours? How then should we sadly remember and heartily repent of it, when we have done thus! How highly fit is it that these things should be well considered by us, since by our words, as well as by our deeds, we shall stand or fall! What reason have we to fear the sentence of that day, who have so frequently sinned with our tongues, that if there were no other sins to be then accounted for, we have enough on this account to make us fear the event of that terrible sentence! O let this consideration teach us to set a guard on our lips, and to watch over our tongues, with a care, as near as we can, equal to that fear, which shall be at doomsday, where we are to pass our last accounts.'
Thirdly, We must be accountable for our actions in general, all our civil as well as religious actions; for our behaviour towards men, in all our dealings and intercourse with them; as well as for our demeanour towards GOD, in the duties of his more immediate worship and service; for those of lesser moment and consequence, as well as for those of greater weight and concernment. And, in particular, for all the sinful actions we have done in secret, in the greatest darkness and privacy, as well as for those which were done in public, and in the open view and sight of the world; for our sins of omission, as well as for those of commission for