« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
to his own moral likeness-the swallowing up of all other kingdoms in his kingdom. Then will his mediatorial work be complete, and Christ will resign his kingdom to the Father.
In the exposition of apostolic and Christian judgement which we have thus endeavored to unfold, we have understood that judgement in a broader sense than simply an arraignment for trial, to be followed by acquittal or condemnation, according to merit. Besides such a judgement, it includes the promulgation of the principles upon which it shall rest; and, ultimately, such a control over the heart and life as will make them conform to the requirements of those principles. It thus becomes equivalent to the term rule.
The Scriptures elsewhere authorize such a sense. Indeed, a narrower sense unfolds the full significance, neither of the divine rule, nor of the Saviour's mission. The Psalmist often applies the term to God, in this broader sense. "O let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth." 22 Here we have an example of the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, where one clause explains the other. "Judging the people righteously," is equivalent to "governing the nations upon earth." Again, "Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; he shall judge the people righteously." 23 Here the reigning of the Lord among the heathen, explains his judging the people righteously, so that the world, the people of the world, -shall be established that they shall not be moved; so established in the truth that they shall not turn from, nor disobey, the living God. So filled is the Psalmist with the glory of this idea, that he breaks forth in raptures: "Let "the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth, [that is, to rule the earth]; he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth." 24
Now, towards the accomplishment of this end, viz: 24 Ps. xcvi. 11-13.
22 Ps lxvii. 4.
23 Ps. xcvi. 10.
the ruling of the earth by his truth, all the providences of God seem to be directed. Hence Daniel says, "All his ways are judgement." 25 His peculiar dealings with his chosen people, were designed to lead them to acknowledge his existence and rule, and to prepare the way for a more perfect establishment of his spiritual reign, through the mediation of Jesus Christ. This spiritual judgement, or rule, is recognized in the prophecies which announce the Messiah. Isaiah says, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgement unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgement in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law." 26 We obtain a partial commentary on this extract, in the variation of the latter clauses of it, as quoted by the evangelist Matthew, and applied to Jesus.
"A bruised reed shall he not break,
And smoking flax shall he not quench,
The result of his judgement or rule shall be victory over sin, the foe he came to vanquish; and such a victory as shall lead the sinner to trust in his name. What a blessed assurance! Christ shall apply the redeeming truths of the gospel, which, working by their retributive and purifying energy, shall gain a final victory in the absolute redemption of the world. This done, not Jews only, but Gentiles, also, shall gladly receive the law from his lips, and trust in his name. Dr. Clarke, even, is animated with the glory of this prospect. By judgement," says he, "understand the gospel; and by victory, its complete triumph over Jewish opposition, and Gentile impiety. He will continue by these mild and gentle means to work till the whole world is Christianized, and the universe filled with his glory." 28
In harmony with this prophetic doctrine of judgement 25 Dan. iv. 37. 26 Isa. xlii. 1-4. 27 Matt. xii. 20, 21. 28 Matt. xii. 20.
in connection with Christ's mission, are his own declarations. Thus, he says, as before quoted, "The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgement unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, [who thus rules in their hearts,] even as they honor the Father." 29 And he adds, "For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgement also, [that is, to establish his spiritual rule by imparting this life,] because he is the Son of Man." 30 The same sense is involved again when he says, "For judgement I am come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind." 31 The objects of this judgement as thus stated, clearly show the judgement itself to be a rule by the power of gospel truth; making the self-confident boaster perceive his ignorance and mistakes, and the honest inquirer rejoice in the light of salvation. Looking thus upon the kingdom he came to establish, upon the spiritual rule he would exercise therein, Jesus might well say, "Now is the judgement of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me;" ;" 32 that is, the crisis had then come, in which good would triumph over evil, and the attractive influences of which would draw all men in purity to Christ; thus casting out the evil of the world.
There is another class of scriptures referring to this judgement, which have filled the hearts of men with fear, but which will now be found to be full of hope, and easily understood. I refer to those which speak of our "appearing before the judgement seat of Christ. " Upon this class of texts has been built the frightful doctrine of a future general judgement, to be followed by eternal retributions. But, by the "judgement seat of Christ," we are now led to understand the seat of those influences by which he established his rule in the hearts of men; or more strictly, perhaps, it is but an adaptation of language to the forms of human tribunals. The assurance that we must be brought before the judgement seat of Christ, signifies that we must be subjected to the retributive and
29 John v. 22, 23.
30 John, v. 26, 27.
sanctifying influence of his truth. We have seen, both from prophetic declarations, and from Christ's own words, that the judgement he came to execute, is not a formal one, but a judgement by the power of his truth. Hence, appearing before his judgement seat, signifies not appearing before him personally, but being brought under the influence of his doctrines. Some of these scriptures admit no other exposition. And since no formal judgement is executed, we necessarily suppose it to be by the influence of truth. That the energies of truth are adequate to such a work, is fully implied in the declaration of Paul, that the "gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” 33 The assurance that we "must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ," becomes thus full of hope; since it is equivalent to the promise, that "all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest," 34 and become the willing subjects of his rule.
Thus Christ is now judging the nations; and the apostles and saints, who shared in the promulgation of the gospel, are sharing in his rule. We recognize the course and results of his judgements in all the great revolutions of our time. We see them in the liberalizing tendencies of national institutions; in the increasing humanity of modern legislation; in the growing philanthropy of social life; in the benevolent yearnings for the poor, the vicious, and the enslaved; and in the brightening glories of Christian hope. Whenever we shall so heartily and successfully study Christ, as to come into the meridian light of the Sun of righteousness, and enjoy in our own souls the rich blessings of salvation, then shall we understand, as we never before understood, the excellent blessedness of Christ's kingdom.
A. A. M.
33 Rom. 1, 16.
34 Heb. viii. 11.
Condition of Men after Death.
Ir may be well to apprize our readers, at the outset, that we do not propose, in the article before us, to inquire into what is distinctively called the ultimate, or final, condition of men. With respect to this, it is enough for the present occasion to say, that we believe the New Testament teaches, expressly as well as by implication from its general principles, that all things will eventually be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ; that he who was sent to be "a ransom for all," and "the Saviour of the world," will accomplish the object, before " he shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father." To us, this truth appears to be so inwoven in the gospel that we cannot take it away without rending the whole texture into fragments. Nor can we conceive of hardly any particular doctrine more important in its relations to other points of Christianity, or more interesting to mankind when considered in itself; as we have endeavored to show in a former number of our publication.' But, in the present article, we shall take this doctrine, and this view of the subject, for granted, since we suppose that the most of our readers already agree with us in the positions.
Has it never occurred to them, however, that there still are questions, lying further back, into which people may run, and which affect the value of this doctrine so materially as to make it of little import, or of the highest moment, accordingly as they are answered in one way or another? All questions that call in doubt the reality of our future existence are plainly of this kind; and so are all questions that involve its character as an object of personal interest
We bespeak the patience of our readers, while we attempt to illustrate what seems, perhaps, to need no illustration.
I. Now, if the existence which we are to have hereafter be so defined away as to make it an unreal one, it