John Brown of Haddington On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

Believers shall be adjudged to everlasting life on account of Christ’s fulfillment of the law in their stead…and their sentence will correspond with the nature, though not with the merit of their gracious qualities and works, particularly their kindness to poor saints, which shall be publicly mentioned as a mark of their union with Christ, filial relation to God, gracious heirship and diligent seeking of his heavenly kingdom…. But, whether their sins will be publicly mentioned in the last judgment, is not so evident.

On the one hand,

  1. None of their sins are mentioned in the judicial procedure….
  2. God casts all their sins behind his back, into the depths of the sea, and remembers them no more….
  3. Christ, their judge, being also their propitiation and advocate, would not mention their sins….
  4. The public mention of their sins could not but affect them with shame; and could not consist with his presenting them without wrinkle

But on the other hand,

  1. Every work of men, whether good or bad, is represented as brought into judgment….
  2. God’s justice seems to require, that both sides of a cause should be produced and heard….
  3. Many of their sins are publicly marked in Scripture.
  4. By the public mentioning of their sins, the justifying virtue of Christ’s blood will be illustriously manifested….
  5. Many of their sins are so connected with those of the wicked, that the one cannot be publicly mentioned without the other.
  6. The belief of such public manifestation of their sins may be of great use to render them circumspect in this life.
  7. Such public mention of their sins could not then affect them with disagreeable shame and confusion, as it is not their innocence, but Jesus and his righteousness, which are their comfort and glory….

—John Brown of Haddington (1722–87), Systematic Theology: A Compendious View of Natural And Revealed Religion (repr. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015), 333–34.Note: The ellipses signal the omission of Bible references. Italics original.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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