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in this tragedy, and have something extraordinary in them at that time; either as to number, or bigness, or nearness to the earth. Besides, the air will be full of flaming meteors, and of unusual forms and magnitudes; balls of fire rolling in the sky, and pointed lightnings darted against the earth ; mixt with claps of thunder, and unusual noise from the clouds. The moon and the stars will be confused and irregular, both in their lights and motions; as if the whole frame of the heavens was out of order, and all the laws of nature were broken or expired.
When all things are in this languishing or dying posture, and the inhabitants of the earth under the fear of their last end, the heavens will open on a sudden, and the glory of God will appear. A glory surpassing the sun in its greatest radiency; which though we cannot describe, we may suppose it will bear some resemblance, or proportion, with those representations that are made in Scripture, of God upon his throne. This wonder in the heavens, whatsoever its form may be, will presently attract the
eyes of all the christian world. Nothing can more affect "them than an object so unusual, and so illustrious; and that brings along with it their last destiny, and will put a period to all human affairs.
Some of the ancients have thought, that this coming of our Saviour, would be in the dead of the night, and his first glorious appearance in the midst of darkness, 2 Peter iii. 10. God is often described in Scripture, as light or fire, with darkness round about him. “He bowed the heavens, and came down, and darkness was under his feet. He made darkness bis sesret place. His pavillion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him, the thick clouds passed," Psalm xviii. 9, 11, 12. And when God appeared upon Mount Sinai, the amountains burnt with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness,” Deut. iv. 11; or, as the apostle expresses it, "with blackness, and darkness, and tempest,” Heb. xii. 18. Light is never more glorious than when surrounded with darkness; and it may be, the sun at that time, will be so obscure, as to make little distinction of day and night. But, however, this divine light overbears, and distinguishes itself from common light, though it be at mid-day.' It was about noon that the light shined from heaven, and surrounded St. Paul, Acts xxii. 6.And it was in the day-time that St. Stephen saw the heavens opened, Acts vii. 55, 56, “Saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." This light which flows from a more vital source, be it day or night, will always be predominant.
That appearance of God upon Mount Sinai, wbich we men
tioned, if we reflect upon it, will help us a little to form an idea of the last appearance. When God had declared that he would come down in the sight of the people, the text says, “There were thunders, and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. And the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole Mount quaked greatly.” If we look upon this Mount as an epitome of the earth, this appearance gives us an imperfect resemblance of that which is to conie. the several parts, or main strukes of it; first, the heavens and the earth in smoke and fire; then, the appearance of the Divine glory, and the sound of a trumpet in the presence of angels. But as the second coming of our Saviour is a triumph over his enemies, and an entrance into his kingdom, and is acted upon the theatre of the whole earth; so we are to suppose, in proportion, all the parts and circumstances of it, more great and magnificent.
When, therefore, this mighty God returns again to that earth, where he had been once ill treated, not Mount Sinai only, but all the mountains of the earth, and all the inhabitants of thie world, will tremble at his presence. At the first opening of the heavens, the brightness of his person willscatter the dark clouds, and shoot streams of light throughout all the air. But that first appearance being far from the earth, will seem to be only a great mass of light, without any distinct form; till by nearer approaches, this bright body shews itself to be an army of angels with this King of kings for their leader. Then you may imagine, how guilty mankind will tremble and be astonished; and while they are gazing at this heavenly host, the voice of the archangel is lieard, the shrill sound of the trumpet reaches their ears, and this gives the general alarm to all the world: For he cometh, for he cometh, they cry, to judge the earth. The crucified God is returned in glory, to take vengeance upon his enemies: not only upon those who pierced his sacred body with nails, and with a spear, at Jerusalem; but those also that pierce him every day by their profaneness, and hard speeches, coucerning his person, and his religion. Now they see that God whom they have mocked and blasphemed, laughed at his meanness, or at his threatenings; they see him, and are confounded with shame and fear; and in the bitterness of their anguish and despair, call for the mountains to fall upon them, Rev. vi. 16, 17. "Flee into the clefts of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord;" Isa. ii. 10, “and the glory of bis Majesty when he ariseth to shake terribly the carth.”
As it is not possible for us to express or conceive the dread and majesty of this appearance; so neither can we, on the other hand, express the passions and consternation of the people that behold it. These things exceed the measure of human affairs, and of human thoughts; we have neither words nor comparisons to make them known by. The greatest pomp and ipagnificence of the emperors of the east, in their armies, in their triumphs, in their inaugurations, are but like the sports and entertainment of children, if compared with this solemnity. When God condescends to an external glory, with a visible train and equipage; when from all the provinces of his vast and boundless empire, he summons his nobles, as I may so say, the several orders of angels and archangels, to attend his person; though we cannot tell the form or manner of his appearance, we know there is nothing in our experience, or in the whole history of this world, that can be a just representation of the least part of it. No armies so numerous as the host of heaven. And in the midst of those bright legions, in a flaming chariot will sit the Son of man, when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and triumph over his enemies: and instead of the wild noises of the rabble, which make a great part of our worldly state, this bles. sed company will breath their hallelujahs into the open air, and repeated acclamations of “Salvation to God, which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb,” Apoc. vii. 10. "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ," chap. xii. 10.
But I leave the rest to our silent devotion and admiration.Only give me leave, whilst this object is before our eyes, to make a short reflection upon the wonderful history of our Savjour, and the different states which that sacred person, within the compass of our knowledge, hath undergone. "We now see him coming in the clouds, in glory and triumph, surrounded with innumerable angels: This is the same person, who so many hundreds of years ago, entered Jerusalem with another sort of equipage, mounted upon an ass's colt, while the little people and the multitude cried, “Hosanna the son of David.” Nay, this is the same person, that, at his first coming into the world, was laid in a manger, instead of a cradle, a naked babe dropt in a crib at Bethlehem, Luke ii. 12, bis mother not having wherewithal to get her a better lodging, when she was to be deliver. ed of this sacred burt'rn. If this Divine person had fallen from the clouds in a hody, clothed in flesh and blood, and spent his life here ai nners; that, alone had been an infinite condescension :
had not been er h to take
upon him human nature, he was content, for many months, to live the life of an animal or plant, in the dark cell of a woman's womb. “This is the Lord's doings, it is marvellous in our
Neither is this all that is wonderful in the story of our Saviour. If the manner of his death be compared with his present glory, we shall think either the one or the other incredible. Look
up first into the heavens ; see how they bow under him, and receive a new light from the glory of his presence ; theu look down upon the earth, and see a naked body, hanging upon a cursed tree in Golgotha, crucified between two thieves, wounded, spit upon, mocked, abused. Is it possible to believe, that one and the same person can act or suffer such different parts ? That he, who is now Lord and Master of all nature, not only of death and hell, and the powers of darkness, but of all principalities in heavenly places, is the same infant Jesus, the same crucified Jesus, of whose life and death the christian records give us an account? The history of this person, is the wonder of this world ; and not of this world only, but of the angels above, that desire to look into it, 1 Peter i. 11, 12.
Let us now return to our subject. We left the earth in a languishing condition, ready to be made a burnt offering, at the beck of its offended Lord. When Sodom was to be destroyed, Abraham interceded with God, that he would spare it for the righteous' sake; and David interceded to save his guiltless people from God's judgments and the destroying angel: But here is no intercessor for mankind in this last extremity; none to interpose, where the mediator of our peace, is the party offended. Shall then, the righteous perish with the wicked? “ Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Or if the righteous be translated and delivered from this fire, what shall become of innocent children and infants ? Must these all be given up to the merciless flames, as a sacrifice to Moloch? And their tender flesh, like burnt incense, send up fumes to feed the nostrils of evil spirits ? Can the God of Israel smell a sweet savour from such sacrifices? The greater half of mankind is made of infants and children, and if the wicked be destroyed, yet these lambs, what have they done? Are there no bowels of compassion for such an barmless multitude? Yes, the righteous Lord, who loveth righteousness, will say as Daniel said in the days of his flesh, suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. But not so with the wicked whose resurrection is now effected. They now begin to realise that seripture spoken by the prophet Daniel, that they shall rise with shame and everlasting contempt. Now roars the deafning, jarring, appalling thunders of Gabriel's
trump to earth's remotest bounds--now God begins to rain snares, fire and brimstone upon the ungodly. That flood of fire begins to pour from heaven which is to consume this holocaust.
Imagine all nature now standing in a silent expectation to receive its last doom ; the tutelary and destroying angels to have their instructions ; every thing to be ready for the fatal hour; and then after a little silence, all the host of heaven to raise their voice, and sing aloud, “ Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered : As smoke is driven away, so drive them away ; as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” And upon this, as upon a signal given, all the sublunary world breaks into flames, and all the treasuries of fire are opened in heaven, and in earth.
The conflagration begins. If one should now go about to represent the world on fire, with all the confusions that necessarily must be in nature, and in mankind upon that occasion, it would seem to most men a romantic scene : yet, we are sure there must be such a scene, " The heavens will
pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat, and all the works of the earth will be burnt up." And these things cannot come to pass without the greatest disorders imaginable, both in the minds of men, and in external nature, and the saddest spectacles that eye can behold. We think it a great matter to see a single person burnt alive ; here are millions shrieking in the flames at once. 'Tis frightful to us to look upon a great city in flames, and to see the distractions and misery of the people; here is an universal fire through all the cities of the earth and an universal massacre of their inhabitants. Whatsoever the prophets foretold of the destructions of Juda, Jerusalem, or Babylon, (Isa. xxiv. Jer. li. and Lamentations,)in the highest strains, is more than literally accomplished in this last and general calamity; and those only that are spectators of it, can make its history.
The disorders in nature, and the inanimate world, will be no less strange and unaccountable, than those in mankiod. Every element and every region, so far as the bounds of this fire ertend, will be in a tumult and a fury, and the whole habitable world running into confusion. A world is sooner destroyed than made, and nature relapses bastily into that chaos state, out of which she came by slow and leisurely motions : as an army advances into the field by just and regular marches, but when it is broken and routed, it flies with precipitation, and one cannot describe its posture. Fire is a barbarous enemy, it gives no mercy; there is nothing but fury and rage, and ruin and destruction, where soeverit prevails. “A storm or hurricane, though it