The Penitent Pardoned, pp 181-185.
Christ’s coming again to judge the world is not only a dreadful doctrine to a Felix [Acts 24:25], but may make thee a Christian to tremble in these cases.
First, the doctrine of Christ’s coming may make men tremble, who are guilty of acts of oppression and violence in Courts of Judicature, Eccl. 3. 16, 17. And moreover, I saw under the sun the place of judgement, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous, and the wicked, for there is a time for every purpose, and every work. That is, to judge every purpose and every work. When God shall come to places of judgement and places of Judicature, and shall say, wickedness is there, and shall say bribery is there, and the deferring of the cause of the poor is there, woe be to all oppressions of the poor, and grinding their faces in Courts of Judicature, many whereof are seats of violence and not Courts of Judicature, Christ shall come to judge things that men will not judge; men will not judge adulterers, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Men will not judge men for heresy, but God will judge them, Christ’s coming is dreadful to all men that live by oppression and violence in Courts of Judicature.
Secondly, Christ’s coming to judgement is dreadful to all them, who to save their worldly advantage, are ashamed to profess the Gospel of Christ. O! Christ’s coming is a dreadful time to these. In Mark 8:38. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy Angels. I pray you mark, here are two answers to an objection in these words. First, men might say, why blessed Jesus, who would be ashamed of thee? if Christ were on the Earth we would never be ashamed of Christ; Therefore Christ adds, whosoever is ashamed of me and of my words: though you might not be ashamed of Christ’s person, yet you might be ashamed of his words. Then men may object and say, why truly if it were a peaceable time, a safe time to profess Christ; but what, when we live in a wicked place, and among a wicked people, will not Christ bear with us, to hold down our heads a little, and to sleep in a whole skin? no, saith Christ, whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man, &c. Let the place be never so bad, thou must not be ashamed of Jesus Christ, and his words: if thou be, the Son of Man shall be ashamed of thee, when he comes with the glory of his Father. Christ’s coming is dreadful to all you, who are ashamed to profess Jesus Christ in a sinful and adulterous age and place, wherein you live, I shall leave it to you to make application.
Thirdly, Christ’s coming to judgement is dreadful to all those who spend their days in sensuality and riot, Christ’s coming is terrible to them, Luke 21. 34. And take heed to your selves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Men that live in riot and excess, and sensuality, they do but pamper their flesh and feed themselves, to make themselves a sweeter morsel both for worms and Devil, Christ’s coming will be a dreadful time for them.
Fourthly, Christ’s coming will be dreadful to all those, who bear not a sincere love to Jesus Christ. Wilt thou mark one scripture, 1 Cor. 16. 22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. There is much of God’s mind in this dark expression, If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be an accursed man, that is the meaning of the word Anathema; but the other word Maranatha, it is a word compounded of two words, and it bears this sense, Maran signifies a Lord, and Atha signifies he comes; so then when the Scripture saith, he that loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be an accursed man; Let him be Maranatha, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judge the word, let Christ then curse him that doth not love him. O then I beseech you think this with your selves, that all you who do not bear a sincere love to Jesus Christ when he comes, his coming shall be with a curse, a curse to Hell and damnation to all such.
Fifthly, Christ’s coming will be dreadful to all them who do obstinately refuse subjection and obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 2 Thess. 1. 7, 8. And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty Angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s coming it will be in flaming fire to take vengeance on all such.
Sixthly, Christ’s coming it will be dreadful to them that do live and die railers against Religion; those who scoff and jeer at godliness, Christ’s coming will be a dreadful coming to all wicked men, Jude 15. To execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly amongst them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. I do wish it were engraven before the eyes of all wicked railers. There is many a railing Rabshakeh, and many a cursing Shimei which hath uttered many a hard speech against the people of God; they accuse one man to be an hypocrite for carrying of a Bible under his arm, another man to be an hypocrite for shedding a tear in his sermon: O you are the men that Christ will come to execute judgement upon, to convince you of your hard speeches.
Seventhly, to unmerciful men Christ’s coming is a dreadful time, James 2. 13. For he shall have judgement without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy, Christ’s coming to judgement shall be a time of thy having of judgement without mercy, that shewest no mercy; In Mat. 25. 41, 42, 43. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in, naked and ye clothed me not, sick and in prison, and ye visited me not. Austin hath a good gloss upon this text, saith he, If that man shall go to Hell, that will not give another man bread when he is an hungry! O then to what a Hell shall that man go to which takes away bread from the hungry man. And if that man shall go to Hell that will not clothe the naked, O then to what a Hell shall that man go to that taketh clothes off the necessitous man’s back! And if that man shall go to Hell that will not visit men that are in prison, O then to what a Hell shall that man go to, that casts godly men into prison! Now beloved, I beseech you take heed that you be not men wanting bowels of mercy towards your distressed brethren, you are to expect judgement without mercy, that shew no mercy.
Eighthly, to those that live and die in their sin of uncleanness and lusts of the flesh, Christ’s coming it will be a dreadful day to them. Therefore you read that God will judge adulterers, he will judge a drunkard, he will judge a swearer, he will judge a Sabbath-breaker, yet particularly whoremongers and adulterers, he will judge. Heb. 13. 4. But whoremongers, and adulterers God will judge. King Henry VIII was a lascivious Prince, and old Latimer sent him a token, a Bible, and about the Bible was written, whoremongers and adulterers God will judge; it was to terrify him. There is a strange text, 2 Pet. 2. 9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly, out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished; But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness. Here is a chiefly for them, God will punish every unjust man, but God reserves them to the day of judgement, chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, &c. Do I speak to men that may have this chiefly applied to them? O take heed that thou doest not fall under the righteous judgement of God, that thou be not entangled in that sin, that will make the Lord judge thee chiefly.
Ninthly and lastly, Christ’s coming again is dreadful to all men, who strengthen themselves by popular tumults and insurrections. In opposing and destroying of a lawful Magistracy, that have destroyed Judges, Rulers, Governments, it will be a woeful time to them, 2 Pet. 2. 9, 10. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgement to be punished. But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government, presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Men that under pretence of power and the like, shall trample down Rule, Government, Authority, and Dignity; the Lord hath another day to judge them that will not be judged here, he will judge them with a chiefly.