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First Published 1659

[see original text for extensive footnotes]


He shall come to judge.
[see sections 18 to 20 for a summary]


6.—For the explication of this action, as it stands in the article, three considerations will ,be necessary: First, how we may be assured that there is a judgment to come, that anyone shall come to judge. Secondly, in case we be assured that there shall be a judgment, how it appeareth that he which is ascended into heaven, that is, that Christ shall be the judge. Thirdly, in case we can be assured that we shall be judged, and that Christ shall judge us, it will be worthy our inquiry in what this judgment shall consist, how this action shall be performed; and more than this cannot be necessary to make us understand that he shall come to judge. 


7.—That there is a judgment to come after this life will appear demonstrable, whether we consider ourselves who are to undergo it, or God who is to execute it. If we do but reflect upon the frame and temper of our own spirits, we cannot but collect and conclude from thence that we are to give an account of our actions, and that a judgment hereafter is to pass upon us. There is in the soul of every man a conscience, and whosoever it is, it giveth testimony to this truth. The antecedent or directive conscience tells us what we are to do, and the subsequent or reflective conscience warns us what we are to receive. Looking back upon the actions we have done, it either approves or condemns them; and if it did no more, it would only prove that there is a judgment in this life, and every man his own judge. But being it doth not only allow and approve our good actions, but also doth create a complacency, apology, and confidence in us; being it doth not only disprove and condemn our evil actions, but doth also constantly accuse us and breed a fearful expectation and terror in us; and all this prescinding from all relation to anything either to be enjoyed or suffered in this life: it followeth that this conscience is not so much a judge as a witness, bound over to give testimony for or against us at some judgment after this life to pass upon us. For all men are a law unto themselves, and have the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.'  [Rom. ii. 14-16]


8.—Again, if we consider the God who made us and hath full dominion over us, whether we look upon him in himself, or in his word, we cannot but expect a judgment from him. First, if we contemplate God in himself, we must acknowledge him to be the judge of all mankind, so that a man shall say, verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth. [Psalm lviii. 11]  Now the same God who is our judge is, by an attribute, necessary and inseparable, just; and this justice is so essential to his godhead, that we may as well deny him to be God as to be just.  It was a rational expostulation which Abraham made, Shall not the judge of all the earth do right [Gen. xviii. 25]. We may therefore infallibly conclude that God is a most just judge; and if he be so, we may as infallibly conclude that after this life he will judge the world in righteousness.  For as the affairs of this present world are ordered, though they lie under the disposition of providence, they show no sign of an universal justice.  The wicked and disobedient persons are often so happy, as if they were rewarded for their impieties; the innocent and religious often so miserable, as if they were punished for their innocency.  Nothing more certain than that in this life rewards are not correspondent to the virtues, punishments not proportionable to the sins of men.  Which consideration will enforce one of these conclusions: either that there is no judge of the actions of mankind; or if there be a judge, he is not just, he renders no proportionable rewards or punishments; or lastly, if there be a judge, and that judge be just, then is there a judgment in another world, and the effects thereof concern another life. Being then we must acknowledge that there' is a judge which judgeth the earth; being we cannot deny but God is that judge, and all must confess that God is most just; being the rewards and punishments of this life are no way answerable to so exact a justice as that which is divine must be; it followeth that there is a judgment yet to come, in which God will show a perfect demonstration of his justice, and to which every man shall in his own bosom carry an undeniable witness of all his actions.  From hence the heathen, having always had a serious apprehension both of the power of the conscience of man and of the exactness of the justice of God, have from thence concluded that there is a judgment to come. Insomuch that when St. Paul reasoned of righteousness and temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled. [Acts xxiv 25.]  The discourse of righteousness and temperance touched him who was highly and notoriously guilty of the breach of both, and a pre-conception which he had of judgment after death, now heightened by the apostle's particular description, created a horror in his soul and trembling in his limbs. The same apostle discoursing to the Athenians, the great lights of the Gentile world, and teaching them this article of our CREED, that God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead; [Acts xvii. 31, 32] found some which mocked when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, but against the day of judgment none replied.  That was a principle of their own, that was confessed by all who either believed themselves, or a God; a conscience, or a deity.


9.—But yet, beside the consideration of the eternal power of conscience in ourselves, beside the intuition of that essential attribute, the justice of God (which are sufficient arguments to move all men), we have yet a more near and enforcing persuasion grounded upon the express determination of the will of God. For the determinate counsel of the Almighty actually to judge the world in righteousness is clearly revealed in his word.  It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment!  There is a death appointed to follow this life, and a judgment to follow that death, the one as certain as the other.  For in all ages God hath revealed his resolution to judge the world.  Upon the first remarkable action after the fall, there is a sufficient intimation given to angry Cain, If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door; [Gen iv. 7] which by the most ancient interpretation signifieth a reservation of his sin unto the judgment of the world to come.  Before the Flood Enoch prophesied of a judgment to come, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. [Jude 14, 15]  His words might have an aim at the waters which were to overflow the world; but the ultimate intention looked through that fire which shall consume the world preserved from water. 


The testimonies which follow in the law and the prophets, the predictions of Christ and the apostles, are so many and so known, that both the number and the plainness will excuse the prosecution. The throne hath been already seen, the judge hath appeared sitting on it, the books have been already opened, the dead small and great have been standing before him; there is nothing more certain in the Word of God, no doctrine more clear and fundamental, than that of eternal judgment." I shall therefore briefly conclude the first consideration from the internal testimony of the conscience of man, from the essential attribute, the justice of God, from the clear and full revelation of the will and determination of God, that after death, with a reflection on this and in relation to another life, there is a judgment to come, there shall some person come to judge. 


10.—Our second consideration followeth (seeing we are so well assured that there shall be a judgment), who that person is which shall come to judge, who shall sit upon that throne, before whose tribunal we shall all appear, from whose mouth we may expect our sentence. Now the judiciary power is the power of God, and none hath any right to judge the subjects and servants of God, but that God whose servants they are. The law by which we are to be judged was given by him, the actions which are to be discussed were due to him, the persons which are to be tried are subject to his dominion; God therefore is the judge of all. [Heb xii. 23.]  He shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil; [Eccles. Xii. 14] and so the last day, that day of wrath, is the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. [Rom ii. 5]  Now if God, as God, be the judge of all, then whosoever is God is judge of all men, and therefore being we have proved the Father and the Son, and shall hereafter also prove the Holy Ghost to be God, it followeth that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost shall judge the world;. because the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in respect of the same divinity have the same autocratorical power, dominion. and authority. 


11.—But notwithstanding in that particular day of the general judgment to come, the execution of this judiciary power shall be particularly committed to the Son, and so the Father and the Holy Ghost shall actually judge the world no otherwise but by hint. For God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained. [Acts xvii. 31]  It is God who judgeth, it is Christ by whom he judgeth. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. [John v. 22.]  There is therefore an original, supreme, autocratorical judiciary power; there is a judiciary power delegated, derived, given by commission. Christ as God hath the first together with the Father and the Holy Ghost; Christ as man hath the second from the Father expressly, from the Holy Ghost concomitantly.  For the Father hath given him authority to execute judgment because he is the Son of man ; [John v. 27] not simply because he is a man, therefore he shall be judge (for then by the same reason every man should judge, and consequently none, because no man could be judged if every man should only judge), but because of the three persons which are God, he only is also the Son of man; and therefore for his affinity with their nature, for his sense of their infirmities, for his appearance to their eyes, most fit to represent the greatest mildness and sweetness of equity in the severity of that just and irrespective judgement. 


12.—Nor was this a reason only in respect of us who are to be judged, but in regard of him also who is to judge; for we must not look only upon his being the Son of man, but also upon what he did and suffered as the Son of man. He humbled himself so far as to take upon him our nature, in that nature so taken he humbled himself to all the infirmities which that was capable of, to all the miseries which this life could bring; to all the pains and sorrows which the sins of all the world could cause; and therefore in regard of his humiliation did God exalt him, and part of the exaltation due unto him was this power of judging. The Father therefore, who is only God, and never took upon him either the nature of men or angels, judgeth no man (and the same reason reacheth also the Holy Ghost), but hath committed all judgment to the Son; and the reason why he hath committed it to him is because he is not only the Son of God, and so truly God, but also the Son of man, [John v. 22, 25, 27] and so truly man; because he is that Son of man, who suffered so much for the sons of men.


13.-From whence at last it clearly appeareth not only that it is a certain truth that Christ shall judge the world, but also the reasons are declared and manifested unto us why he hath that power committed unto him, why he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. For certainly it is a great demonstration of the justice of God so highly to reward that Son of man as to make him judge of all the world, who came into the world and was judged here; to give him absolute power of absolution and condemnation, who was by us condemned to die, and died that he might absolve us; to cause all the sons of men to bow before his throne, who did not disdain for their sakes to stand before the tribunal and receive that sentence, let him be crucified; 2 which event as infallible, and reason as irrefragable, Christ himself did show at the same time when he stood before the judgment seat, saying, 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. [Matt. xxvi. 64.]


Again, if we look upon ourselves which are to be judged, whom can we desire to appear before, rather than him who is of the same nature with us?  If the children of Israel could not bear the presence of God as a lawgiver, but desired to receive the law by the hand of Moses, how should we appear before the presence of that God judging us for the breach of that law, were it not for a better mediator, of the same nature that Moses was and we are, who is our judge?  In this appeareth the wisdom and goodness of God, that making a general judgment he will make a visible judge, which all may see who shall be judged. Without holiness no man shall ever see God, [Heb. xii. 14.] and therefore if God, as only God, should pronounce sentence upon all men, the ungodly should never see their judge.  But that both the righteous and unrighteous might see and know who it is that judgeth them, Christ who is both God and man is appointed judge; so as he is man all shall see him, and as he is God they only shall see him who by that vision shall enjoy him.

Christ Jesus then, the Son of God, and the Son of man, he which was born of the Virgin Mary, he which suffered under Pontius Pilate, he which was crucified, dead, and buried, and descended into hell, he which rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, and is set down on the right hand of God; he, the same person, in the same nature, shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  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. [Matt. xvi. 27.]  He then which is to come is the Son of man, and when he cometh, it is to judge.  The same Jesus which was taken up from the apostles into heaven, shall so come in like manner as they saw him go into heaven. [Acts i. 11.]  That Son of man then, which is to judge, is our Jesus, even the same Jesus, and shall come in the same manner, by a true and local translation of the same nature out of heaven.  For God will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given an assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead. [Acts xvii. 31.]  He then which ascended into heaven was the same which was raised from the dead, and by that resurrection God assured us that the same man should judge us. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be the Lord both of the dead and living. [Rom. xiv. 9.]  It appeareth therefore by God's determination, by Christ's resurrection and ascension, that the man Christ Jesus is appointed judge. 

14.—This office and dignity of the Son of man was often declared by several figurative and parabolical descriptions. John the Baptist representeth him that cometh after him by his delineation of an husbandman, Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. [St. Chrysostom, Matt. iii. 12.] The Son of man describes himself as an householder saying to the reapers in the time of harvest, Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn: and this harvest is the end of the world. [Matt. xiii. 30, 39]...