And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:…
I. THERE IS A JUDGMENT ORDAINED BY GOD AND TO BE DECLARED TO MEN. The Holy Scripture teacheth us —
1. That God hath appointed a determinate time for this judgment. "A day in which He will judge the world in righteousness."
2. That in order to this judgment all the actions of men are with greater exactness registered in books. "The books were opened."
3. That, in order thereto, there shall be a general resurrection of all persons, both just and unjust.
4. That then all persons so raised shall be presented at the bar of our Lord, to answer and undergo their trial.
5. That then and there every thought, word, and work of men shall be thoroughly disclosed and discussed; so that it, together with its due quality and desert, shall plainly appear.
6. That on each man, according to the true quality of his doings, a definitive sentence shall pass, whereby he shall be acquitted or condemned.
7. That according to the purport of this sentence a discrimination shall be made; and to one party a gracious reward; to the other, a sore punishment.
8. That all this shall be transacted in a regular, public, and most solemn manner, in open court, in the face and audience of all the world, before angels and men.
9. That the judgment shall pass to the full conviction and entire satisfaction of all that are present; so that each one concerned therein shall be forced in conscience to acquiesce in his doom, as most just and equal.
II. THE JUDGE ORDAINED; Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Why it should be so, many reasons may be assigned.
1. It was requisite that the judge should be visible, and audible; such whom the parties concerned might discern and converse with, in order to their clearer and fuller satisfaction, or conviction: such our Lord, the Son of man, clothed with glorified flesh, will be.
2. This Judgeship is a good part of that regal office which God did confer on Christ; giving Him a power over all flesh, all authority in heaven and earth.
3. It is an office of too great eminence to be imparted to any other. "Worthy is He alone to receive the book."
4. He alone also capacities proper for this judicature: that Divine faculty of searching men's hearts; wisdom to know all matters of fact that ever were, and to discern the right in every case; absolute goodness, perfect equity and immutable love of right, and that exact temperament of affection toward men which is requisite to the distribution of equal justice toward them, according to due measures of mercy and severity.
5. By this designate on the glory of God is especially promoted: His wisdom appeareth in constituting one so in all respects most fit to discharge the office; and His goodness, for since it was requisite that a judgment should pass on us, how could the terror thereof be better allayed than by putting it into the hands of His Son? How also could He exhibit a more illustrious instance of His justice and love to righteousness than in advancing Him to so glorious an office, who, out of perfect compliance to His will, did freely stoop so low, and gladly undergo so much?
6. Just it likewise was that to Him should be consigned a power to reward His friends and do Himself right on His enemies.
7. This appointment is conducible to our edification.
(1) It is apt to raise in us a high reverence of our Saviour; and consequently to dispose us to the observance of His laws and imitation of His example.
(2) It is a matter of special comfort and encouragement to consider that hence assuredly we shall find a fair and favourable trial; since it is no enemy, but our best friend.
III. THE OBJECTS, OR THE EXTENT OF THE JUDGMENT ORDAINED. All, without exception.
IV. APPLICATION: The doctrine is calculated —
1. To make us circumspect and vigilant; for, since we must render an account of every thought, word, and action, what exceeding reason have we, with most attentive and accurate regard, to mind whatever we do!
2. To beget and preserve sincerity in us. What a folly is it to delude men with false appearances, or rather by them to abuse themselves; seeing they soon will be rightly informed, and we grievously disgraced for it!
3. To render us serious in all our thoughts, opinions, affections, actions; suppressing all proud conceits, all admiration of these transitory things, all wanton joys; for —
(1) Why should any apprehension of worldly state, of any endowment, puff up our minds, seeing the day is near at hand which will quite level men?
(2) Why should we value those splendid toys, or that sordid trash, which men here do so eagerly scramble for; which then evidently will be discountenanced?
(3) Why, having affairs on foot of such vast importance, should we amuse ourselves with trivial matters?
(4) How shall we dare to embrace the serpent of sinful excess?
(5) And how can we be easily transported into wild merriments, if we consider how infinitely serious business lieth on us; how nearly our everlasting welfare lieth at stake?
4. To engage us carefully to improve all the talents by God's providence and grace committed to us. Hath God bestowed —
(1) Wealth on us? this will engage us so to use it in God's service.
(2) Power? this should induce us to use it moderately and fruitfully.
(3) Any parts, wit, knowledge? this should move us to employ them in drawing men to the practice of virtue and piety.
(4) Honour or credit among men? this may oblige us to use it as an instrument of bringing honour to God.
5. To induce us to the observing strict justice and equity in all our dealings. "Let no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter, because God will judge and avenge for all these things."
6. To breed charity in us; in giving, in forgiving, in judging and censuring of men.
7. To support and comfort us, as against all other wrongful dealing, so against all unjust and uncharitable censures, groundless slanders and surmises, undeserved reproaches of men; for that assuredly at that judgment right will be done, and innocence cleared.
8. To preserve us from being deluded and poisoned by the more favourable opinions of men. For "God seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart."
9. To encourage us to "judge ourselves so that we be not judged," or not condemned with the world.
10. To guard us from infidelity and from impatience in regard to the providential dispensation of affairs here. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God."
(I. Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: