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However, that you are as yet borne with, is no argument that your damnation slumbers. The anger of God is not like the passions of men, that it should be in haste. There is a day of vengeance and recompense appointed for the vessels of wrath; and when the day shall have come, and the iniquity shall be full, none shall deliver out of God's hand. Then will he recompense, even recompense into your bosoms.




Acts xvii. 31.

Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the

world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained.


These words are a part of the speech which Paul made in Mars-Hill, a place of concourse of the judges and learned men of Athens. Athens was the principal city of that part of Greece which was formerly a commonwealth by itself, and was the most noted place in the whole world for learning, philosophy, and human wisdom; and it continued so for many ages; till at length the Romans having conquered Greece, its renown from that time began to diminish; and Rome having borrowed learning of it, began to rival it in science, and in the polite and civil arts. However, it was still very famous in the days of Christ and the apostles, and was a place of concourse for wise and learned men.

Therefore, when Paul came thither, and began to preach concerning Jesus Christ, a man who had lately been crucified at Jerusalem, (as in the 18th verse,) the philosophers thronged about him, to hear what he had to say. The strangeness of his doctrine excited their curiosity; for they spent their time in endeavouring to find out new things, and valued themselves greatly upon their being the authors of new discoveries, as we

ormed in ver. 21. They despised his doctrine in their hearts, and esteemed it very ridiculous, calling the apostle a babbler; for the preaching of Christ crucified was to the Greeks foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. yet the Epicurean and Stoic philoso


phers, two different sects, had a mind to hear what the babbler

had to say:

Upon this Paul rises up in the midst of them, and makes a speech; and as he speaks to philosophers and men of learning, he speaks quite differently from his common mode of address. There is evidently, in his discourse, a greater depth of thought, more philosophical reasoning, and a more elevated style, than are to be found in bis ordinary discourses to common med. His speech is such as was likely to draw the attention, and gain the assent of philosophers. He shows himself to be no babbler, but a man who could offer such reason, as they, however they valued themselves upon their wisdom. were not able to gainsay. His practice here is agreeable to what he saith of himself, 1 Cor. ix. 22. “ that he becaine all things to all men, that he night by all means save some.” He not only to the weak becaine as weak, that he might gain the weak; but to the wise he became as wise, that he might gain the wise.

In the first place, he reasons with them concerning their worship of idols. He declares to them the true God, and points out how unreasonable it is to suppose, that he delights in such superstitious worship. He begins with this, because they were most likely to hearken to it, as being so evidently agreeable to the natural light of human reason, and also agreeable to what some of their own poets and philosophers had said, (ver. 28.) He begins not immediately to tell them about Jesus Christ

, bis dying for sinners, and his resurrection from the dead; but first draws their attention with that to which they were more likely to hearken; and then, having thus introduced himself, he proceeds to speak concerning Jesus Christ.

He tells them. the times of this ignorance concerning the true God, in which they had hitherto been. God winked at; he suffered the world to lie in heathenish darkness; but now the appointed time was come, when he expected men should every where repent; “because he had appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained.” As an enforcement to the duty of turning to God from their ignorance, superstition, and idolatry, the apostle brings in this, that God had appointed such a day of judgment. And as a proof of this, he brings the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Concerning the words of the text, we may observe,

That in them the apostle speaks of the general judgment: He will judge the w RLD.-The time when this shall be, on the appointed day: He hath appointed a day. How the world is to be judged: In righteousness.-The man by whom it is to be judged: Christ Jesus, whom God raised from the dead.

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Doctrine. There is a day coming, in which there will

be a general righteous judgment of the whole world, by Jesus Christ.

in speaking upon this subject, I shall show, That God is the supreme judge of the world. That there

Thai there is a time coming, when God will, in the most public and solemn manner, judge the whole world. That the person by whom he will judge it, is Jesus Christ. That the transactions of that day, will be greatly interesting, and truly awful. That all shall be done in righteousness. And, finally, I shall take notice of those things which shall be immediately consequent upon the judgment.


God go

God is the Supreme Judge of the World. 1. God is so by right. He is, by right, the supreme and

. absolute ruler and disposer of all things, both in the natural and moral world. The rational, understanding part of the creation, is, indeed, subject to a different sort of government from that to which irrational creatures are subject. verns the sun, moon, and stars ;


rns even the motes of dust which fly in the air. Not a hair of our heads falleth to the ground without our heavenly Father. God, also, governs

, the brute creatures ; by his providence, he orders, according to his own decrees, all events concerning those creatures. And rational creatures are subject to the same sort of government; all their actions, and all events relating to them. being ordered by superior providence, according to absolute decrees; so that no event that relates to them, ever happens without the disposal of God, according to his own decrees. The rule of this government, is God's wise decree, and nothing else.

But rational creatures, because they are intelligent and voluntary agents, are the subjects of another kind of government. They are so only with respect to those of their actions, in which they are causes by counsel, or with respect to their voluntary actions. The government of which I now speak, is called moral government, and consists in two things—in giving laws, and in judging.

God is, with respect to this sort of government, by right the sovereign ruler of the world. He is possessed of this right by reason of his infinite greatness and excellency, by which he merits, and is perfectly and solely fit for, the office of supreme ruler. He that is so excellent as to be infinitely worthy of the highest respect of the creature, hath, thereby, a right to that respect; he deserves it by a merit of condignity; so that it is injustice to deny it to him. And he that is perfectly wise and true, and is ouly so regarded, hath a right in every thing to be regarded, and to have his determinatious attended to and obeyed.

* Except as they are sinful; for the sinfulness of actions is not ineluded in the decrees of God, who is pure act from eternity to eternity,

God hath, also, a right to the character of supreme ruler, by reason of the absolute dependence of every creature on E: All creatures, and rational creatures no less than others, are wholly derived from him, and every moment are wholly dependent upon him for being, and for all good : so that they are properly his possession. And as, by virtue of this, he hai right to give his creatures whatever rules of conduct he pleases, or whatever rules are agreeable to his own wisdom; so the mind and will of the creature ought to be entirely conformed to the nature and will of the Creator, and to the rules he gives that are expressive of it.

For the same reason, he hath a right judge their actions and conduct, and to fulfil the sanction of his law. He who hath an absolute and independent right to give laws, bath, evermore, the same right to judge those to whom the laws are given. It is absolutely necessary that there should be a judge of reasonable creatures; and sanctions, or rewards and punishments, annexed to rules of conduct, are necessary to the being of laws. A person may instruct another without sanctions, but not give laws. However, these sanctions themselves are vain, are as good as none, without a judge to determine the execution of them. As God hath a right to be judge, so hath he a right to

. be the supreme judge ; and none hath a right to reverse his judgments, to receive appeals from him, or to say to him, Why judgest thou thus ?

2. God is in fact the supreme judge of the world. He hath power sufficient to vindicate his own right. As he hath a right which cannot be disputed, so he hath power which cannot be controlled. He is possessed of omnipotence, wherewith to maintain his dominion over the world, and he doth maintain his dominion in the moral as well as the natural world. Men may refuse subjection to God as a lawgiver: they may shake off the yoke of his laws by rebellion; yet they cannot withdraw themselves from his judgment. Althougb they will not have God for their lawgiver, yet they shall have him for their judge. The strongest of creatures can do nothing to control God, or to avoid him while acting in bis judicial capacity. He is able to bring them to his judgment-seat, and is also able to execute the sentence which he shall pronounce.

There was once a notable attempt made by opposition of power entirely to shake off the yoke of the moral government of God, both as lawgiver, and as judge. This attempt was made by the angels, the most mighty of creatures; but they miserably failed in it: God notwithstanding acted as their judge

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