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SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.
2 THESS. i. 8, 9.
« The LORD Jesus shall be revealed from heaven,
with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know nor God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus CHRIST; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the LORD, and the glory of his power." THE Second Coming of our LORD, and the
amazing scenes which will then be opened, to the everlasting confusion of his enemies, and the perpetual joy of his faints, are subjects which frequently occur in holy writ. The Prophets and Apostles, Christ and his Evangelists, speak often and largely of these matters ; and though with fome variety of phrase and manner of reprefentation, yet without any contradiction. And they all treat them, not as points of mere speculation, the contemplation of which has a tendency to encrease our knowledge, and exalt our minds, but also and chiefly as discoveries of the utmost importance and concern to us all, which when cordially believed and attentively confidered, have, through divine grace, the most happy influence on our femper and conduct. And it is highly probable that Christianity would fourish much more than it does among us, if the Ministers of the Gospel imitated, in this, their example, and led both saints
and sinners to the more frequent and serious confideration of those events which will suon take place.
2. Would we successfully call finners to repentance ? Like Paul preaching at Athens, we must testify that “God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained.”_Would we make the finners in Zion afraid? Would we wish to see fearfulness surprise the hypocrites? With the Prophet we 'must demand, « Who can endure de. vouring fire? Who can dwell with everlasting burnings ?" Would we persuade the delicate and effeminate to self-denial and mortification, to “cut off the right hand and to pluck out the right eye which offend?" We muit, with our Lord, remind them, that it is better one of their members should perish, than that their whole body Thould be cast into hell, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.". Would we fortify the timorous against the fear of man which always bringeth a snare, and often leaderh into fin? We mult exhort them in the words of Jesus, “not to fear those who can only kill the body, but rather to fear Him who can destroy both body and foul in hell."
3. In short, whether we would rouse the careless, or excite the indolent, or reclaim the backNider, or comfort the distreft, or fuccour the tempted, or encourage the faint hearted, or animate the faithful soldier of Jesus Christ patiently to endure hardships, courageously to fight his enemies, valiantly conquer the powers of darkness, and seize the crown of everlasting life ; — we must bring the Day of Judgment into view, with the terrors of hell and the joys of heaven, and fetch our arguments, motives and encouragements, thence.-Thus will the flout hearted and thofe who are far
from righteoufness tremble, with Felix (who was alarmed at Paul's reasoning concerning a judgment to come) and enquiring “What must we do to be saved?” will is repent and be converted, that their fins may be blotted out." And thus will the true believer rejoice in hope of the glory of God; and while for “ the joy that is set before him he endures the cross and despises the shame,” he will * give all diligence to be found of Christ at his coming in peace, and without spot and blameless.”
4. Since then these are such necessary and fruitful subjects of discourse, and fo repeatedly offered to our confideration in the sacred Scriptures, it may be profitable for us frequently to employ our thoughts upon them. That we may do it for a few moments at this time, I have made choice of this most alarming passage of Scripture, in which the Apostle, with a view to their comfort and support under their fufferings, puts the persecuted Church of God at Thessalonica, in remembrance of the very different state of things which would soon take place, with regard to them and their persecutors. “God (says he,) will recompense tribulation to those who trouble
you, and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who (adds he) ihall be punished with everlasting destruction from the prefence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."
In these words we have, I. The Certainty and Manner of our LORD's Second Coming.
II. The Character of them who shall then be the objects of his wrath.
III. The Nature and Duration of the punish ment which he will inflict upon them.
These are all very important points, and well deferve our most serious consideration.
In this Discourse I shall confine myself to the first of them, viz.
1. The Certainty and Manner of our Lord's Second Coming
1. As to the Certainty of his Second Coming, they who read and credit the Oracles of God, can entertain no doubt at all concerning it. It is there foretold and described so frequently and clearly, and with such variety of method and expression, that the moft careless reader can hardly avoid observing and understanding it. If therefore I produce fome Scripture-testimonies of this Truth, it is not so much with a view to illustrate and confirm it, as to impress fo ufeful a subject more deeply upon our minds, for it is too manifeft, that it may be believed and understood, where it has, by no means, its proper influence.
2. I observe then, that this event was foretold by the ancient Prophets, as well as by Christ and his Apoftles.
Even “Enoch of old prophefied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute judgment upon all.” A truth this of which the Pfalmift was not ignorant, for in the goth Pfalm, he testifies, “ Our God Thall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire fhall devour before him, and it shall be very tempeltuous round about him : he shall call the heavens from above and the earth, that he may judge his people.” These predictions, so clear and express that their sense must be obvious to all, are confirmed and illustrated by the testimony of Daniel,
chap. vii. ver. 9, 10. “ I beheld (lays he) till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did fit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery Alame, and his wheels as burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened ! " What a sublime and inimitably grandi defcription have we here, mixed with admirable 1. mplicity ? How far does it exce d, in these respeels, every thing to be met with in merely human compofitions? How plainly does it appear to have been the effect, not of genius and art, but of a mind, through the influences of the divine Spirit, elevated with the grandeur, awed with the majetty, and struck with the terror of the subject.
3. These ancient prophecies of our Lord's fecond coming have the sanction of his own authority, not only as being inspired by him, but as being confirmed by most express declarations, delivered by himself, as well while upon earth as after his ascension into heaven, and that both before friends and enemies. I shall produce only two or three of these as specimens of the rest. Thus when Caiaphas, the Elders and Scribes, had the boldness, er presumptuous wickedness rather, to call their Creator and final Judge to take his trial at their tribuna!; before these he testified, “ Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man fitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” To his friends and followers, he often foretold the same event, though with a different view, not merely to convince and alarm, but also and especially to comfort and encourage them. Thus, when predicting and defcribing the deAtruction of Jerusalem, and the ruin of the Jewish