S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Day of Judgment
As the Supreme Being is the only proper judge of our perfections, so he is the only fit rewarder of them. This is a consideration that comes home to our interest, as the other adapts itself to our ambition. And what could the most aspiring or the most selfish man desire more, were he to form the notion of a Being to whom he would recommend himself, than such a knowledge as can discover the least appearance of perfection in him, and such a goodness as will proportion a reward to it?
Let the ambitious man, therefore, turn all his desire of fame this way; and, that he may propose to himself a fame worthy of his ambition, let him consider, that if he employs his abilities to the best advantage, the time will come when the Supreme Governor of the world, the great Judge of mankind, who sees every degree of perfection in others, and possesses all possible perfection in himself, shall proclaim his worth before men and angels, and pronounce to him in the presence of the whole creation that best and most significant of applauses, Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into thy Masters joy.
As a thinking man cannot but be very much affected with the idea of his appearing in the presence of that Being whom none can see and live, he must be much more affected when he considers that this Being whom he appears before will examine all the actions of his past life, and reward and punish him accordingly. I must confess that I think there is no scheme of religion besides that of Christianity which can possibly support the most virtuous person under this thought. Let a mans innocence be what it will, let his virtues rise to the highest pitch of perfection attainable in this life, there will be still in him so many secret sins, so many human frailties, so many offences of ignorance, passions, and prejudice, so many unguarded words and thoughts, and, in short, so many defects in his best actions, that, without the advantages of such an expiation and atonement as Christianity has revealed to us, it is impossible that he should be cleared before his Sovereign Judge, or that he should be able to stand in his sight. Our holy religion suggests to us the only means whereby our guilt may be taken away, and our imperfect obedience accepted.
God will indeed judge the world in righteousness; but it is by an evangelical, not a legal, righteousness, and by the intervention of the man Christ Jesus, who is the Saviour as well as the Judge of the world.
How can we think of appearing at that tribunal without being able to give a ready answer to the questions which he shall then put to us about the poor and the afflicted, the hungry and the naked, the sick and the imprisoned?
God hath reserved many things to his own resolution, whose determinations we cannot hope from flesh; but with reverence must suspend unto that great day whose justice shall either condemn our curiosity or resolve our disquisitions.
At the day of judgment, the attention excited by the surrounding scene, the strange aspect of nature, the dissolution of the elements, and the last trump, will have no other effect than to cause the reflections of the sinner to return with a more overwhelming tide on his own character, his sentence, his unchanging destiny; and amidst the innumerable millions who surround him, he will mourn apart. It is thus the Christian minister should endeavour to prepare the tribunal of conscience, and turn the eyes of every one of his hearers on himself.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.
Methinks neither the voice of the archangel, nor the trump of God, nor the dissolution of the elements, nor the face of the Judge itself, from which the heavens will flee away, will be so dismaying and terrible to these men as the sight of the poor members of Christ; whom, having spurned and rejected in the days of their humiliation, they will then behold with amazement united to their Lord, covered with his glory, and seated on his throne. How will they be astonished to see them surrounded with so much majesty! How will they cast down their eyes in their presence! How will they curse that gold which will then eat their flesh as with fire, and that avarice, that indolence, that voluptuousness which will entitle them to so much misery! You will then learn that the imitation of Christ is the only wisdom; you will then be convinced it is better to be endeared to the cottage than admired in the palace; when to have wiped the tears of the afflicted, and inherited the prayers of the widow and the fatherless, shall be found a richer patrimony than the favour of princes.
Whether I eat or drink, or in whatever other action or employment I am engaged, that solemn voice always seems to sound in my ears, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment. As often as I think of the day of judgment, my heart quakes, and my whole frame trembles. If I am to indulge in any of the pleasures of the present life, I am resolved to do it in such a way that the solemn realities of the future judgment may never be banished from my recollection.
In that great day, wherein the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open, no one shall be made to answer for what he knows nothing of; but shall receive his doom, his conscience accusing or excusing him.
It cannot but be matter of very dreadful consideration to any one, sober and in his wits, to think seriously with himself, what horror and confusion must needs surprise that man, at the last day of account, who had led his whole life by one rule, when God intends to judge him by another.
O the inexpressible horror that will seize upon a sinner when he stands arraigned at the bar of divine justice! when he shall see his accuser, his judge, the witnesses, all his remorseless adversaries!
Could I give you a lively representation of guilt and horror on this hand, and point out eternal wrath and decipher eternal vengeance on the other, then might I show you the condition of a sinner hearing himself denied by Christ.
At doomsday, when the terrors are universal, besides that it is in itself so much greater, because it can affright the whole world, it is also made greater by communication and a sorrowful influence; grief being then strongly infectious when there is no variety of state, but an entire kingdom of fear; and amazement is the king of all our passions, and all the world its subjects. And that shriek must needs be terrible when millions of men and women, at the same instant, shall fearfully cry out, and the noise shall mingle with the trumpet of the archangel, with the thunders of the dying and groaning heavens, and the crack of the dissolving world, when the whole fabric of nature shall shake into dissolution and eternal ashes!
All the precepts, promises, and threatenings of the gospel will rise up in judgment against us; and the articles of our faith will be so many articles of accusation: and the great weight of our charge will be this, that we did not obey the gospel, which we professed to believe; that we made confession of the Christian faith, but lived like heathens.
God will one time or another make a difference between the good and the evil. But there is little or no difference made in this world; therefore there must be another world wherein this difference shall be made.