CHRIST, PRESE T SAVIOUR, FUTURE JUDGE.
BY FRA CIS TRE CH,
Matthew xxvi. 64. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power^ and comiiig in the clotids of heaven. A HERE never was a greater contrast than that which existed between the humiliating circumstances of Him who spake these words, and the grandeur which He announced for His own at a futiu-e period. This grandeur too was to be witnessed by those very persons whom He thus addressed. The Speaker was Jesus — at the time betrayed by one of His disciples, and abandoned by them all. He was taken captive — charged with blasphemy against God — led as a prisoner into the palace of Caiaphas, and standing before His enemies, all bent on His destruction, and seeking false witnesses in order to put Him to death. I repeat that Jesus spoke these words — alone, friendless, helpless — suflFering at the time much cruel treatment and indignity, and soon to
CHRIST THE PRESE T SAVIOUR. 273 suffer more, until the end and consummation of all by His crucifixion and death. He had answered nothing to the charges brought againt Him. " As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.'' And why ? Because, though in Him was no sin, and He was all innocent and spotless, yet He stood at the time as our representative ; and we, being guilty before God, could answer nothing to the charge of our sins. That explains it. Therefore it was that " Jesus held His peace," as it is written in the sixty-third verse. But when " the high priest answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him,
Tliou hast said : nevertheless I say unto you. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."^ The subject of this sermon will be — the contrast between our Lord Jesus Christ's first coming in humiliation, and His second coming in glory. One has taken place already. The other will take place hereafter. One coming is as certain as the other. It is only a question of time : for as at the exact period which God had appointed for His Son to " visit us in His great humility" Jesus was born at Bethlehem, so too, precisely at the time which God has appointed for His Son to return in His majesty He will appear again ; and all will be most assuredly fulfilled connected in Scriptm-e with that day. Let us therefore T
274 CHRIST. THE PRESE T SAVIOUR look, in faith, to God the Holy Ghost for His blessing and power from on high, while I speak of the chief constrasting marks and distinctions in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, at these two separate, but equally sure appearances — one past, the other yet to come. First, then, concerning our Lord in the day of His humiliation. And here (in order to contract the subject into a close and instructive form, rather than to wander vaguely over too much ground) I shall select only one mark or attribute of Jesus in the day of His humiliation, which concerned His owti person, and another which concerned His work "for us men and for our salvation.'* The mark, then, attached personally to the Saviour at His first coming, was that of suffering. He was to be, first, a suffering Messiah, and subsequently, but not till after His sufferings, a glorified Messiah. He was to endure (on account
of our sins) all the agonies of body and of spirit which were fulfiUed in Him during His short but afflictive stay on earth, when He bore God's wrath, for our iniquity, poured out upon His ever blessed and most righteous head — ^when He was despised and persecuted, betrayed and deserted — tempted and tried to the uttermost, led as a sheep to the slaughter, and condemned, " the just for the unjust,'' unto a cruel death, even the death on the cross. It had been very plainly and abundantly prophesied in the Old Testament that all this would come. Accordingly all did
A D THE FUTURE JUDGE. 275 • come. For it was after the determinate counsel of God the Father, in His love towards sinners like ourselves, to give His Son for us ; and it was after the determinate counsel of His Son, in His matchless love and compassion, thus to be given for us, that He might atone for our guilt. Therefore the Lord Himself repeatedly speaks of His own sufferings as no strange thing. They were not mere results of each hour and day, but, in God's mercy to us, appointed and anticipated things. Thus He saith to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, concerning His death and crucifixion, " Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory ^ V Again He saith, *' Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to sufffer, and to rise from the dead the third day**." Which truth the apostles ever took up as the great foundation of their ministry, as the very centre of all that religion which they preached and established. Thus did St. Peter. He told, in the face of the wondering Jews, on the day of Pentecost, that " God hath made that same Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ^." Again, he preached that " God before had shewed by the mouth of all His prophets that Christ should suffer**." And we ever hear of St. Paul thus reasoning : as " opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and
risen again from the dead*." Thus it is seen that we have a suffering Saviour « Luke xxiv. 26. ^ Luke xxiv. 46. c Acts ii.36. *1 Acts iii. 18. « Acts xviii.3. t2
276 CHRIST, THE PRESE T SAVIOUR as our own. Thus, in that atonement which He made for our sins, we have a way of salvation opened for us, by which the guiltiest and most miserable sinner of us all may have fuU forgiveness of his sins, and be made a partaker of the kingdom of heaven. Thus we see, in brighter colours, and more clear by far than our creation, or any other gift that God could possibly have displayed, how "God is love" — how the love of Christ passeth knowledge (to use Scripture language) in its length, breadth, depth and height. And thus through faith in Jesus, as a dying and a suffering Saviour, we have peace with God now and evermore : for Christ having suffered in our place, our guilt is transferred to Him, and His righteousness to us: and we are accounted as righteous for His sake ; and, being accepted in Him here, our acceptance with God is sure now and sure for eternity. Thus much regarding the person of Christ, as to one special attribute or mark of His first coming. And now to explain the contrast between His relationship to man and the aspect of His character towards them at that time, with His future relationship to men and His aspect towards them at His second coming. Here I would dwell on the truth, that the one grand feature of His work was at that time, and is still, the salvation of those who were lost. I repeat it, the salvation of those who were lost. In His ministry our Lord
seems ever to have most carefully guarded
A D THU FUTURE JUDGE. 277 against any other office or work being at that time His. In His whole life there is not to be found one single instance of His inflicting any thhig like punishment on wickedness. You remember that the Old Testament is full of the accounts of the most severe judgments inflicted by the ministers, prophets, and saints of God, such as were Moses, Samuel, and Elijah. But there is nothing of the kind in the whole history of Jesus Christ. All sin was lying open and naked to His penetrating eye. The course of transgression and wickedness was going on all around His path. And He was subject Himself, in His own person, to the most dark, unjust and hideous crimes, in His cruciflxion, which ever deflled the earth and its inhabitants. evertheless, all who are acquainted with Scripture, doubtless remember well how constantly the Lord Jesus disclaimed any other office, to be exercised on His part, at His flrst coming, except just that of a Saviour. To quote a few such passages : " If any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not : for I came not to judge the world, but to save the worlds" Again, " God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved «f." Again, " I judge no man»*." either would He stop in His work of salvation to decide cases of law. " Who made Me a judge or a divider over you?" was His word when thus applied to. or would He pronounce any thing f John xii. 47. g John iii. 17. l» John viii. 15.
278 CHRIST THE PRfiSB T SAVIOUR like a judicial sentence against the sinful woman taken in adultery — but His saying was, ** either do I condemn thee' " — neither do I adjudge penal-
ties to thee — " Go, and sin no more." And when His too impetuous apostles, forgetting all humanity in their blind zeal, would have called down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans, (on their refusal to receive their Lord, journeying, as He was, to Jerusalem,) how did Jesus act? " He turned, and rebuked them, and said. Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: for the Son of man is not come down from heaven to destroy men's lives, but to save them^." And these are only a very few of the testimonies borne by our Lord to that most gracious and most comforting truth, even the true character of His first coming ; and this character shines through and through it in all the attractive brigiitness of mercy, forbearance, and love, such as God only could shew, and as never could have entered into man's imagination to conceive. We now approach the second head of our subject, viz. the contrast to all this, which will be exhibited at Christ's second coming. Having come once in humiliation, Jesus will come the next time in majesty and glory. His suffferings are past, once and for ever. "It is finished, " He exclaimed on the cross. Soon He arose and sat down for ever on the right hand of God, from whence, in dile season, He will be revealed. Then " every eye shall see Him." Then shall it be fulfilled, "Behold, He cometh with > John viii. ii. ^ Luke ix. 56.
A D THE FUTURE JUDGE. 279 clouds." Then He will be attended with the countless retinue of His "mighty angels" and saints — descending from heaven and compassed with the songs of triumph and of jubilee, " with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God*." Then His sudden glory will in a moment illuminate the whole earth. " As the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth unto the west, even so shall the coming of the Son of man be." Then all the prophecies about Christ's second coming — so rich, full, and glorious, as to
make one almost unwilling to use any mere human words to describe it, shall be brought to pass. But as, in speaking of our Lord's day of humiliation, I have dwelt on one special mark of it, namely, His suffering, so I shall act now, as we attempt to gaze a moment, by faith, on His future majesty. He will then come to judge — ^to exercise His judgment between those who served and those who served Him not ™ — to condemn the unrighteous to their everlasting doom and to reward His people with everlasting blessedness. Moreover the word Judge means also to rule. How remarkable it is to find judgment and rule especially disclaimed by our Saviour at His first coming, but especially claimed at His second coming in every part of God's prophetic Word ! Hear David in the Psalms ! " He cometh. He cometh to judge the earth : He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with His truth." Hear Isaiah ! " Out of Zion shall go * I Thess. iv. i6. "» Malachi iii. i8.
280 CHRIST, THK PRESE T SAVIOUR forth the law, and the Word of the Lord fh)m Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people ".'' Once more ! '' In righteousness doth He judge and make war®/' And Jesus especially describes Himself as Judge of that coming time. To quote one passage : '' When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory ; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left p." Such will be the process of Christ's fixture judgment. And therefore St. James speaks of Him expressly as the "^ Judge who standeth before the door." And therefore St. Peter, in the Acts, when preaching to CJomelius, tells, how God commanded him and his fellow-apostles " to preach unto the people, and
to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead*!.'' These are just a few plain and most simple passages, selected from the vast multitude of Scriptural testimonies, telling of Jesus Christ, as fixture judge both of quick and dead — i. e. of all whom He shall find alive at His coming, and of all who have died, from generation to generation, during the existence of this earth. And now, as these subjects ought to be to us most eminently ^ Isaiah ii. 4. o Rev. xix. 11. P Matt. xxv. 33. q Act? X. 42.
A D THE FUTURE JUDGE. 281 practical — as they are made known to us in order that they should engage our minds, and heai-ts, and influence our whole conduct — I shall endeavour to make a practical use of this striking contrast in the offices of Christ at His first and at His second coming. First, then, since Jesus would not be judge when on earth, but only and exclusively the Saviour, and since He remaineth exactly the same still, and will so remain till the moment arrives for His appearing again and assuming the office of a judge, so also to know and feel this is of the very utmost importance towards the conversion of sinners, and towards the comfort of saints. o repentant sinner — mourning over his wickedness, confessing his transgressions against God, seeking to lay the burden of his sins at the foot of the cros^ and exercising faith in Jesus, as his Redeemer — no such person need now have the least apprehension of finding in Jesus a judge, to examine or condemn him on account of his past sin. In this sense, judgment is more than His " strange work." It is a work utterly unknown to Him — a work, with which He will have nothing to do. ow He invites all unto Himself. ow He " receiveth sinners."
ow He saith, " Yet there is room." ow He proclaims by the word of His apostle, " Be ye reconciled to God." ow His voice is heard, " Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." ow He puts no question at all to any returning sinner as to his
282 CHRIflT THE PRKS9T SATIOCB past life — demands not what any one has been, bnt looks on him as he is, and stands readj to save every one coming to Him in fiuth. In God, through the Saviour, all now is mercy, joy at a lost one found, willingness to receive, to pardon, and to bless. o question — no sentence is uttered — no look or demeanour is now seen in Jesus which would characterise the Judge. Oh! who can understand this without feeling his heart leap and exult for joy ? Who can discern the Saviour s merciful arms thus opened to him, and not run — 3'ea, flee to them for succour with all trust and thanksgiving? Who can behold His countenance, in such tender mercy, without experiencing peace, without blessing and praising God, who hath given him grace to seek and find the Lord, as his own full Saviour, Deliverer, and Friend, ere he arises from the grave to behold Him as His Judge ? Then come to Christ for His salvation in this day of grace ! For, on the other hand, the time will come when, in the sense recently considered by us — I mean, in that of receiving the guilty, and forgiving, and accepting them — Christ will be no more the Saviour. Awful truth, do you say? Yes, awful indeed, and yet most true ! He hath declared Himself that the day is coming when the "door will be shut" — when many will cry out, " Lord, Lord, open to us," but when the dreadful answer will be heard, in the sentence of doom, all sure and irreversible, '' Verily, I say unto you, F know you not/' The time is coming when all.
A D THE FUTURE JUDGE. 283 all who have neglected the ** great salvation of Christ/' would desire to see one — even one — of " the days of the Son of man, but shall not be able :" for those days, as days of mercy and acceptance, will then have all passed away ; God "limiteth a certain day." Thai limit, for the world, is, till Jesus returns as Judge, and for each one of us, till our sojourn here is concluded ; and all the power of angels and of men and of all creatures together could not lengthen or protract our day of grace one instant further. And why? Just for the reason that the Lord Jesus will appear as the Judge. Undoubtedly this word and this title, as given to our Saviour, has a far more extended meaning than we usually give to it. For He will not only pronounce the acquittal of the righteous and the guilt of the unrighteous, and thus fulfil the office of a Judge, but He will also rule for ever in His own kingdom, as judging, and exercising righteousness, for the welfare and the happiness of all then put under Him — of all living creatures under His most glorious dominion. We cannot however do more than take this single glance into the glad and wide-spreading scene of blessedness, thus set before us, concerning Christ's future reign, as the " Prince of peace" and " God of the whole earth." We must return to the practical lessons connected with our subject. Let us then learn to confide more and more in the Lord Jesus Christ, as our sufffering Saviour ! Let us honour and magnify the excellency of
284 CHRIST THE TRE-^EXT SAVIOUR those sufferinp^ hy realizing more and more that *'IK*rtect i>eaeer which faith in them, as atoning for our sins, must bring go sweetly and effectually to all the true children of God. Let us behold, in Jesus Christ* our most loving Friend, Benefactor, and Deliverer, our *' all in air for good, aU our
salvation, and all our desire ! Let us look to Him as the '' Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" — as our great, all prevailing Intercessor who pleaded for us once, that we might not be cut down in our sins, during the dark and perilous time of our unconverted state, and who pleads for us now, that, having been converted, and having be(»n made fruitful, we may bear more fruit still to the glory of God's holy name ! And let us more and more rejoice, cheered and a&sured by the words of that apostle whom Jesus loved : " If any man sin, w^e have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : and He is the propitiation for our sins'." Thus let us trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as our present Saviour ! Let us also remember Him as oiu- future Judge and King for eternity, before whom the same apostle fell at His feet as dead, when he saw Ilim revealed in the awful attributes of His future majesty, " with eyes as a flame of fire — with the sharp twoedged sword issuing from His mouth, with His countenance as the sun, when it "shuieth in his strength \" Let us, whatever others may do — let us listen to the summons: " Stand in awe of Him, all the whole earth f and >• I John ii. 1,2. ^ Rev. i. 16.
A D THE FUTUKE JUDGE. 285 let us prove this by obedience in all things, not with any thought of thus meriting salvation, but as the proof that we know and serve the Lord. Let us, whatever others may do — let us obey our Saviour's warning voice : '* What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch !" Let us pray that we may be accounted worthy to " stand before the Son of man !" Let us live looking out for the glad return of our own Almighty Master and Lord ! Let us live holily and blamelessly in thought, in word, and in deed, as we should desire to be found living by Him were He to appear immediately! Let us live as those, who, unworthy though they l)e of the very least mercies, yet have the warrant of God's Word to assure us, that all mercies,
yes, all imaginable are ours in Christ Jesus — that we, being w^ashed in the blood of Jesus, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, may anticipate without fear — yea, rather with all gladness of heart, to which we need put no limit and no stint — the glorious appearance of our Judge: and let not our own sin nor our own weakness interfere in the least with this full assurance of our faith. Let us be willing to suffer with Christ, and for Christ, in this present evil world ! Let us imitate His spirit and His acts in shewing to our fellowcreatures mercy and love to the uttermost, but of judgment and condemnation as little as we may, consistent with integrity and with fidelity towards them and towards God. Let this be our day of humiliation too ! And let us be assured — too dazzling and too bright though it be for our
286 CHRIST THE PRESE T SAVIOUR. imperfec*t vision in this body of sin and of death — let us l)e well assured, that, if we believe in Jesus, and are ready to suffer with Him, then, in due time, and without fail, we shall reign with Him also; and (with faculties hereafter to be perfected) shall be employed by Him, to accomplish His work, at His appearance, and in His kingdom. Is it not written, '' Such honour have all His saints V Is it not written, that '' the greatness of the kingdom shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most HighS" when (to use the language of our text) Jesus, the Son of man, once crucified, and now glorified, shall appear once more, '' sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven !" Let us all lay these things very near indeed to our hearts! Truly they are things unspeakably important to every one of us : and thankful indeed shall I be if the power of Divine grace should accompany what I have said, and render them aC^ blessing to any hearer. Of which blessing we may expect no small or ineffectual amount, when God our
Saviour in the day of His past suffering, and God our Saviour in the day of His future glory, is the subject of the word preached. * Daniel vii. 27.
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