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Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come. Rev. 14: 6, 7. We think the above remarks, under this head, to be sufficient. All that is necessary to keep any from straying on this subject is, to observe the plain and positive teachings of the Bible, rather than to follow preconceived and superstitious notions, to the violation of their better reason, and the expense of truth and common sense.
On sundry passages, Section II, we remark, first, that whatsoever time or place is referred to, no judgment is spoken of which is to take place after the resurrection from literal death, or even after the close of the Gospel day.
In Matt. 5: 21, 22, we find, that whoever should kill another, or even call his brother a fool, or be angry with him without a cause, should be in danger of the judgment or decision of the Jewish council. In Matt. 12: 41, 42, it is said, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it." The judg ment here alluded to is one often spoken of, and as often declared to come upon that generation, the people then living, not in eternity. It is the time of judgment of which Christ speaks when he says, Matt. 23: 33, 35, 36, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (gehenna.) "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.” Chapter 24: 21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." All these calamities and afflictions did come upon the people of that age and nation, to the utter destruction of their city, and final overthrow of their national polity. Paul speaks of the same judgment in Acts 24: 25, "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled." This judg ment was about to come, or nigh at hand. Peter alludes to the same in 2 Peter 2: 3, "And through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a
long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.' Peter speaks of the judgment of false teachers and wicked men of that day as lingering not, and their damnation (or sentence to con demnation) as slumbering not: it was about to fall upon them. The same in 1 Peter 4: 7, "But the end of all things is at hand." The end of their civil, political, and religious rites, ceremonies, and institutions. The same in Matt. 16: 27, 28, "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." Here is a judgment during the life-time of some then living, in which every man should be rewarded according to his works; all of which shows that it was in this world, and even nigh at hand. There are several passages eaking of the same time, such as Matt. 25: 46, and others which are explained in this work. Matt. 10: 14, 15, "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." See, also, its parallels in Mark 6: 11, and Luke 10: 11, 12. Here the same time and judgment is referred to as in Matt. 12: 41, 42, and other places. Christ says, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city." (Those who rejected the apostle's preaching.) Our Saviour was almost continually warning the people of an alarming judgment or calamity which was rapidly approaching, and would suddenly and unexpectedly fall upon that people and nation. And as the people then (in Christ's day) had more instruction upon the subject, more light and knowledge, higher facilities from the various means they possessed, their judgment, their calamity, affliction, and perilous distress, would be more intolerable, more protracted and intolerably painful and grievous, than was the judgment and calamity which befell Sodom and Gomorrah. Is not this too true to be disputed? When, or where, was there ever a time or place that suffered more than did the Jews in that calamitous day? See Josephus, and others, on the destruction of Jerusalem. The evils suffered by Sodom and Gomorrah were not so severe and trying as those of Jerusalem. And notwithstanding so many suppose this to
relate to a future general judgment, the best critics and commentators of the limitarian orders, are of the same opinion with ourselves. DR. HAMMOND says on this subject, "I assure you, the punishment or destruction that will light upon that city shall be such that the destruction of Sodom will appear to be more tolerable than that." He also refers to what he had said in another place on the phrase kingdom of God, where he quoted and explained the text thus: "66 Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in that day,' (i. e., not in the day of judgment to come, for that belongs to each particular person, not whole cities together, but) in that day of the kingdom of God, than for that refractory city. God's dealing with Sodom in the day of their destruction with fire and brimstone, shall be acknowledged to have been more supportable than his dealing with such contumacious, impatient cities of Judea.". Paraphrase on Matt. 10: 15, and Annotations on Matt. 3: 2. The same views are given by Bishop Pearce, Gilbert, Wakefield, Dr. A. Clarke, and others.
We think the above conclusions are correct, and the only rational exposition that can be given upon the subject. But objections are founded on the future tense of the verb, It shall be more tolerable, &c. We think that those who observe the original use of the tenses must be satisfied that they are not there used with the same precision as in our own language at the present day, and that instances often occur which can be reduced to no fixed grammatical principle. But we do not wish to criticize upon the license of those expressions. And if those who raise the above objection to the tense of the verb would persevere in like criticisms with the Bible, we think they would soon be willing to retrace their steps, and adopt more rational rules of interpretation. The fact is this, - the time or judgment of which Christ here speaks was then future; it did not take place until about forty-one years after Christ's day; and when it did come, it was not so tolerable, so easily borne, as that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Consequently he could with all propriety say, It shall be, &c. We will here mention another fact, which, if generally understood, might in a measure tend to obviate the difficulty: the article the is not used in the original text. It stands thus hemera kriseos." In the Greek, we find but one article used which answers to the definite article the in English Mr. Fisk, in his Greek Grammar, says, "When no article is ex
pressed in Greek, the English indefinite article a is signified." Consequently, we cannot understand our Saviour as pointing in the text to some one, and only one definite judgment, as though there were but one understood by the people; but as of one among others of the kind, transpiring to nations. Many have the impression that there is a general judgment in eternity spoken of by Christ, and that he there alludes to that definite one; whereas, he only alludes to a judgment of a national character which was about to fall upon them. But, should we understand this judgment as a special one of the kind pointed out to the people, we see no objection to calling it the judgment; and we are confident that the Jews understood it in this manner. We find the article nowhere connected with the phrase en hemera kriseos, "a day of judgment," with the exception of one place in the New Testament. 1 John 4: 17, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment (en te hemera kriseos); because he is, so are we in this world." This is the only place where the phrase is used with the article. The day of God's judgment on the Jewish nation and no other day of judgment was expected during that generation was near when John wrote the text, and was the greatest day of judgment the world had ever seen; nor was the like ever to be again. It had been predicted by the prophets, and also by our Lord himself, and no doubt was a subject of frequent conversation among Christians, and most people of the day. This day was called by Malachi the day of the Lord which should burn as an oven, the great and dreadful day of the Lord. From its greatness, its being near, and other circumstances, no wonder John called it the day of judgment.
There are other texts which allude to the same time and judgment, which it is not necessary here to mention. Paul speaks of a different judgment in Heb. 9: 27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." The apostle is here speaking of the judgment or justification of the high priest, after his sacrificial death under the Law. In this chapter he particularly. delineates the ceremonies under the Law, and compares the figurative death of the high priest to the sacrifice of Christ. In verses 11 and 12, he says, "But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by
the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Verse 24-28, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world (kosmou); but now once in the end of the world (aionion) hath he appeared to put away sin, by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men (tois anthropois, the men) once to die, but after this the judg ment (krisis), so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin, unto salvation." By the above, it is clearly seen that Paul was contrasting the death of the high priest with the death of Christ, and comparing the result of the priest's sacrifice with the result of Christ's sacrifice; both of which were justification, — the former for one year, the latter once for all. And as it is (in the Law dispensation) appointed unto the men (high priest) once to die (to die once a year), but after this the judgment (justification). It will be observed that the article in the original is prefixed to men, which is not in the English translation, but is prefixed to the word judgment, in which place it does not stand in the original text By also observing the comparatives, as and so, it is clear that the apostle meant as we have stated it. After the high priest had returned from the Holiest of all, having offered his gift, were not he,. and the people also, justified in the sight of God for one year? The time cannot be named when the priest had acquitted himself in his office and offering before the Lord, but that the people and nation were actually judged, and in this judgment were acquitted, and actually stood justified before God for one year. Many appear to think that the word judgment necessarily implies condemnation; but in every legal and just judgment, those adjudged are either justified or condemned in the above case we find they were adjudged to justification. Now, supposing we should admit the word "die," in the text, to mean literal death, and judgment, condemnation; we should then read it thus: As it is appointed to all men literally to die, but atter death condemnation. The same all that die must receive the same sentence. The text says nothing about some being