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The TERRORS of the LORD.

A SERMON UPON THE GENERAL JUDGMENT, Preach'd at MAIDENHEAD, in New-Jersey, May the 17th 1749 BEFORE The SYNOD of YORK.

By GILBERT TENNENT, A. M.

ISAIAH 58.1.

Cry aloud Spare not, lift up thy Voice like a Trumpet, and shew my People their Transgression, and the House of Jacob their Sins.

PHILADELPHIA: Printed and Sold, by WILLIAM BRADFORD in Second-Street, 1749.

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2 CORINTHIANS v. 11.

Knowing therefore the Terror of the LORD we perswade Men.

MY Fathers and Brethren, the governing Passions of the human Soul, which are indeed the great Sources of Action, are love and fear. Now the Religion of JESUS contains Arguments no­bly adapted to influence both, which is indeed its peculiar Glory. Here are the most power­ful attractives to allure our love and strike our ingenuity that ever were presented to the human Mind. I mean redeeming Love and Goodness, the astonishing condescention of God himself in assuming our Nature, under the ruinous Circumstances consequent to our Apostacy, and therein enduring voluntarily and patiently, in his Name, Body and Soul, all that Contempt and Misery which our Sins demerited, in order to reconcile us to GOD, and save us from Wrath and Ruin. O matchless Mercy! O amazing Goodness! O the intollerable, incomprehensible and inxpressible Agonies and Pains our dear dear, Lord endured! One would think that the mentioning of this Love alone, was sufficient to constrain Mankind to follow the Redeemer's Standard, and to dare to be Holy. But sad Experience proves the Contrary. Degenerate Mankind, while under the Dominion of Sin, are almost wholly lost to all sense of Ingenuity and Gratitude. Nothing truly Great and Noble has the habitual ascendant in them. No! Immoderate Self-love is the secret Spring of all their Motions, and therefore it's neces­sary to alarm those selfish Souls out of their fatal Security and In­dolence, by Arguments of Terror, that hereby they may be brought to a sight and sense of their Danger, and consequently constrained to the earnest Use of Means to obtain an escape.

THIS the primitive Ministers of CHRIST were well aware of, as the Text I have chosen to discourse upon informs us. They having had the Experience of the Terrors of God upon their own Minds, before their closure with JESUS, and having known their Necessity, Influence and Use, did labour by the same Arguments to per­swade others to be Holy, Knowing the Terrors of the LORD we perswade Men.

AND methinks among all the Arguments of Terror grasp'd in the sacred Volumn, none is more affecting and awful than that of the General Judgment, and this is what our Text refers to, and is therefore the Subject of our present Meditations.

THE General Judgment, my Brethren, is one of the most grand [Page 4] and important Events that comes within the Compass of human Knowledge; the Consideration whereof should summons all our Powers to the most reverend and deep Attention.

THAT there is a JUDGMENT to come, appears from the na­tural Subordination of Man to God, as a Creature to his Creator, a Subject to his Prince, and a Servant to his Master.

FROM this Subordination, correspondent Obligations do result; for the Neglect or Performance of which, it is but reasonable they should Account, and receive Rewards accordingly, otherwise the aforesaid Relations and Obligations would be vain and to no Pur­pose.

THERE are likewise natural Relations among Men, and Trans­actions which give ground to several Duties of Justice and Huma­nity, by the neglect of which others may suffer great Injury, of which they can sometimes get no redress. Is it not then most just and reasonable that such Cases should be referred to the common Patron of RIGHT, in order to be suitably rewarded? This was the Apostle's Judgment in his Epistle to the Thessalonians, he assures us, that it is a righteous Thing with God, to recompence Tribulation to those that trouble his People, and to them who are troubled rest.

AND are there not many secret good and bad Dispositions, which are not nor cannot be here awarded? Then is it not reasonable that there should be a Time when both shall be disclosed and obtain an answerable recompence?

THERE have been, and no doubt are in the World, such Persons who commit great Injuries, and yet no Justice can be got of them, either because of their Policy, their Power, or Authority: Is it not necessary therefore that there should be a supreme Tri­bunal, before which such grand, insolent and ungovernable Cri­minals should be arraigned? Not to say that Conscience accuses for the most secret Crimes, and presages a Judgment to come; yea the common Sense of Mankind dictates the reasonableness of Pu­nishment to the Guilty. Does not every Person when he sees ano­ther guilty of gross Crimes, judge it unfit that he should escape with Impunity? And will not the Mind be grated with In­dignation or Grief by beholding the Inocent and Beneficent Suf­fering?

IS not a future Judgment, my Brethren, when eternal Rewards shall be dispensed, needful to excite Men to Vertue and Goodness, and to restrain them from Vice? Certainly Men are by Nature prone to a present sensible Good, which the fears of a greater E­vil, and the Hopes of a greater Good, are necessary to turn them from.

FEAR and Hope are doubtless the main Springs which turn the Wheels of human Action. Now this life scarcely affords Rewards which overpoize the Difficulties that attend Piety and Vertue; nei­ther can human Laws extend to all Actions, and hence, as the A­postle observes, if in this Life only we have Hope, we are of all Men the most miserable.

[Page 5]AGAIN, Human Society must disband without a Judgment to come: For how can that subsist without Justice and Charity, and can these be expected without Conscience, and can that do its Office without Fear and Hope, without a regard to a future reckoning?

IF you enquire concerning the Judge, I answer, the absolute Power of judging, inseparably belongs to God the Father, he being our Creator, to his Judgment we stand obnoxious. But the exer­cise of this judicial Authority, is, for wise Purposes, committed to the Son.

IT is necessary that the Judge should be visible, in order to the clearer Conviction and more ample Satisfaction of the Parties con­cerned.

MOREOVER, the Power of Judgment is a Branch of CHRIST'S Kingly Office, which the Father conferred upon him as a Reward of his mediatorial abasure. Indeed it is an Office of two great emi­nence to be conferred upon any other, to determine the final States of intelligent Beings; the Lamb is only worthy to take the Book of Judgment and open the Seals thereof, because he hath redeemed us to God by his Blood. It is he alone who hath a Capacity for this Province, because of his Omniscience, Wisdom and Goodness.

AND surely, Sirs, it is but right that the Lord Jesus Christ should be vested with a Power to reward his Friends, and crush his inveterate Enemies, that so the apparent dishonours of his Cross may be forever rol'd away.

FARTHER, the Glories of God's Wisdom and Love, are dis­play'd in appointing so well qualified a Person, so meek, so loving, so merciful a Judge. Not to say, that this appointment likewise serves to beget in us, a Reverence of Christ, an Observance of his Laws, and an Imitation of his Example.

AS to the Manner of the judicial Process, the sacred Scriptures give us the following account hereof, viz. That a Time is ap­pointed for it, which is called a Day.

THAT God hath registered Men's Actions in the Book of his Omniscience in order to it.

THAT for this End, a Resurrection of the Just and Unjust shall be effected by Almighty Power.

THAT then all Persons raised, shall be presented before the Bar of God; I saw, saith the Apostle John, the Dead, small and great, stand before God,

THAT every Thought, Word and Action shall be examined, God will bring to light the hidden Things of Darkness, and make manifest the Counsels of all Hearts.

THAT after this, a definitive Sentence shall pass agreeable to Mans Actions, which shall be accordingly executed.

THAT all Things shall be transacted in a fair and regular Manner, to the Conviction of all present.

NOW, my dear and reverend Brethren, methinks the Conside­ration of what has been said, should excite us, who bear the Mini­sterial [Page 6] Character, unweariedly to endeavour (pro viribus) to alarm and perswade a secure and obstinate World, by the Terrors of the LORD, after the Apostolical President in our Text, whatever An­tinomians and Enthusiasts mutter to the Contrary, seeing that the whole need no Physician, but the sick. Let us urge Sinners with the utmost Importunity and most solemn Pathos, to repent and believe the Gospel; to fly from the Wrath to come to the great Redeemer for Shelter and Salvation.

AND should not the Thoughts of the solemn judicial Scene be­fore us, excite all, both Ministers and People to watchfulness and sobriety, for we know not when the Son of Man cometh, at Mid­night, Cock-crowing, or in the Morning.

NOR should we be thereby less induced to sincerity and candor in our whole behaviour, and to the serious steady Performance of the secret Duties of Religion; which will be then openly and honourably mentioned, and graciously, but plentifully, Rewarded. O, Sirs! let us endeavour to have the Testimony of our Con­sciences in our favour, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly Wisdom, but by the Grace of God, we have had our Conversation in the World. O let us improve our Talents, for we are but Stewards, and must quickly give Account of our Stewardship. *

LET us relieve Mens outward Wants as far as we have Ability and Opportunity: This, above all other Instances of Goodness, is particularized in the scriptural Description we have of the General Judgment, I was Hungry and ye fed me, &c.

O! let us forgive Injuries, he shall have Judgment without Mercy, who hath shewed no Mercy. If we forgive not Men their Trespasses neither will God forgive ours.

O! let us beware of rash judging, why dost thou judge thy Bro­ther, or why dost thou set at nought thy Brother, for we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

AND on the Contrary, dear Sirs, O let us labour to increase in that glorious Grace of LOVE, which hopes all Things, suffers long, and is kind, and is not easily provok'd. And let the Thoughts of the last Judgment deter us from Injustice, Covetousness and Light­ness of Mind and Behaviour. Let no Man go beyond and defraud his Neighbour, for God is the avenger of all such. Seeing then that all these Things shall come to pass, which the Scriptures [Page 7] speak of the last Judgment, what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness?

THE Consideration of the last Judgment may serve to keep us from Infidelity, because of the Confusions and Injustice that are in the World, for this is but a short Time of Trial; after the Conclusion of this Drama, all Things will be put to Rights and appear in their proper Colours. What tho' we endure unjust in­vectives for a Time, God will bring forth the Righteousness of his People as the Light, and their Judgment as the noon Day; and hence the Apostle observes, it was a small Thing to him, to be judged of Man's Judgment.

NOW, Sirs, we should be excited to examine our Sates, our Principles of Action, our Speeches and Works, and see whether they will stand the tryal of the last Judgment.

METHINKS, dear Brethren, the Consideration of the last Judg­ment, may justly strike Terror and Consternation into every Tribe of Impeninents; if it be considered, that it shall be universal as to Persons and Things, as well as impartial and irreversible. God will bring to Judgment every Work, with every secret Thing; he will bring to light the hidden Things of Darkness, and make ma­nifest the Councils of the Heart, as I before observed.

THE most secret impious Thought must then be disclosed, and the most disguised Contrivances brought to the open light of Day; and it is but reasonable it should be so, seeing the moral Good and Evil of Actions much depend upon their Intention. The Lord Jesus, who is a discerner of the Thoughts, and searcher of the Heart, will, in the Day of his coming, examine and open the secret Springs of the Actions of Men; and then likewise shall their Words be scan'd and judg'd; and this is but reasonable, seeing they are the most natural Indications of the Temper and Dispo­sition of the Mind, and often do much Injury to the Names, Bodies and Estates of Men. Our Lord assures us, that Men must give an Account of every idle Word in that Day, (Mat. xii. 36, 37.) and that by our Words we shall be justifyed, and by our Words we shall be condemned. The Apostle Jude informs us, that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these Things saying, that the LORD shall come with with ten Thousand of his Saints to ex­ecute Judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of their ungodly Deeds and hard Speeches. How shall the lyar, the unjust Person, the whoremonger, the slanderer and back-biter then appear.

AND every evil Action must then be stript of all its present dis­guises, and open'd in its horid deformity; yea and the Evils we have induced others to commit, we must then answer for. There a light shall be struck into all the Works of Darkness, thro all the pretexts of Subtilty, and every impenitent Transgressor, with out Distinction, will be covered with Confusion, and expos'd to contempt and scorn!

The Alexanders and Nimrords of the Earth, and all the Sons of Violence, of Blood and Rapine, that have sacrificed the Lives of [Page 8] Thousands to their Ambition and Avarice, and made Nations tremble before them, must stand appal'd before their Judge to receive their final Sentence: Then will they curse the madness of their Arrogance, and cry to the Hills and Mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the Face of him that sitteth on the Throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. All the human Race must appear at the dreadful Summons. The greatest Potentates, the depest Politicians, [...]he bravest Heroes, as well as every Person of the meanest order, to receive their Doom, their final Doom! At that Tribunal there will be no difference or respect of Persons observed between the greatest Prince and meanest Peasant And that which makes the General Judgment the more solemn and dreadful, is that there will be no Appeal forever from the Sen­tence of the Judge.

WITH what awful Solemnity does the holy Scriptures represent the Scene of the last Judgement, then, we are told, that there will be distress of Nations, with perplexity, the Sea roaring and Men's Hearts failing them for fear, that then the Sun shall be darkned and the Moon shall not give her Light, and all the Powers of Heaven be shaken; that the Archangel's Trumpet shall sound to the Extremities of the Earth, after which the Son of Man shall descend from the visible Heavens in a Cloud, and appear in his own and in his Father's Glory. Thousands of Angels shall minister to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before him! The Son of GOD will come with Power and great Glory in flaming Fire, to take Vengeance on those that know not GOD, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting Destruction from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power. Then the Sea shall give up her Dead, and Death and Hell shall deliver up their Dead, and the whole Atmosphere be in one awful uniform Blaze! The Heavens shall pass away with a great Noise, and the Ele­ments shall melt with fervent Heat, the Earth also and all its Works shall be burnt up!

THEN the Almighty Judge shall be seated upon his Saphire Throne from which the Earth and Heavens shall flee away.

WHEN our blessed Saviour came to suffer for the Sins of the World, he came in the Form of a Servant, and vail'd his Glory with a clayie Mantle; he stoop'd to assume the Infirmities of Hu­manity in the most humble Circumstances, and was exposed to Cruelty and Contempt: But when he comes as a Judge, he will assume his proper Greatness, and appear with a Splendor suitable to the Dignity of his Office, suitable to the Glory of his Charac­ter! All Nature shall tremble before him, and the Foundations of the Hills shall shake because he is Wroth! The Sars shall start from their Orbs, and the Canopy of the visible Heavens shall shrivel up into a flaming scroll, and the whole Earth shall be a burning trembling Globe of Fire. The great Redeemer will be cloth'd with Majesty surpassing all Expression, the [...] of his [Page 9] Head will be white as Snow, his Eyes as a flame of Fire, his Countenance as the Sun shining in his Strength, and his Voice as the Sound of many Waters, and the Court that attends the descending GOD, will be array'd in all the Pomp of Heaven; in their magnificent ROBES of State. When all these amazing E­vents are brought to pass, and that in a sudden and tremenduous Manner, how shall the Wicked appear; when the Curtain between both Worlds is drawn, and all Inhabitants of Heaven, Earth, and Hell present themselves to us at one View, how will it strike the impenitent with Terror and Amazement, especially when the final Sentence shall be pronounced, Go ye Cursed into ever­lasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. How dread­ful will it be for all the Sons of Shame and Death, to behold universal Nature dissolving in the most dreadful Agonies, and all the curious Works of Art covered with Flame and Ruin! To hear the Heavens roaring with dreadful Thunders, and the great Ocean bewailing the general Catastrophe, with the loudest Mur­murs! To see the visible Heavens cover'd with one sheet of Fire, and sending down burning Showers upon the reeling Earth! The sulphurous Matter of which will doubtless catch fire and burst its Bowels into burning Rivulets! How dreadful will it be to feel the Earth totter like a Tennis Ball with Earthquakes, and to hear the dreadful rumblings thereby caused in its Bowels; toge­ther with the hideous Screeches of damned Men and Women! The whole Earth will be then like a burning Vesuvius or Aetna! Where will these poor Creatures fly for shelter who have no Friend in Heaven, or on Earth to help them in their Distress? What shame must cover their Faces? What Anguish rack their Hearts, when their secret Impieties are disclos'd, before that vast Assembly of the Quick and Dead! How must a Sight of their Companions in Iniquity confound them and encrease their Woe and Horror? How shall ye be able to look the great Judge in the Face, whose Laws ye have broken, and whose Salvation ye have slighted?

O secure Sinners, your Eyes and Ears shall see and hear these Things! O what a scrole of Mourning and Lamentation and Woe shall then be opened before you? (Rev. i. 7.) Behold he cometh in the Clouds, and every Eye shall see him, and those also that peirced him, and all the Kindreds of the Earth shall wail be­cause of him, O Sinners! Sinners! realize these awful Events by frequent and believing Mediation, and make it the Business of Life to secure a Retreat from the Tempests of divine Vengeance, under the Wing of IMANUEL, by bewailing your Transgressions against him, and by believing in him; set your Faces towards Zyon with a religious Resolution, enquire the Way thither with humble Importunity, and weep as ye go! O let your Laugh­ter be turned into Mourning, and your Joy into Heaviness! Rent your Hearts and not your Garments, and turn unto the Lord your God, for tho' he be just and righteous, jealous and omnipotent, [Page 10] yet he is gracious and merciful, slow to Anger, and of great Kindness.

SIRS, the strongest Images we can form of the Majesty of GOD, and the terrible Effects of his angry Resentment are in­finitely too feeble and languid to give an adequate Representation thereof. O therefore let us kiss the Son, least he be angry and we perish from the Way, when his Wrath is kindled but a little, blessed are all they that put their Trust in him. By this may we all be hid in the great and terrible Day of GOD's Anger, thro' JESUS CHRIST our LORD. AMEN. AMEN.

FINIS.

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