Watson On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

What shall be the modus, or the manner of trial?

(1.) The citing of men to court. The dead are cited as well as the living. Men, when they die, avoid the century of our law-courts; but at the last day, they are cited to God’s tribunal. ‘I saw the dead,small and great, stand before God.’ Rev xx 12. The citing of men will be by the sound of a trumpet. I Thess iv 16. This trumpet will sound so loud, that it will raise men from their graves. Matt xxiv 31. Such as will not hear the trumpet of the gospel sound ‘repent and believe,’ shall hear the trumpet of the archangel sounding ‘arise , and be judged.’

(2.) The approach of the judge to the tribunal.

(i) This will be terrible to the wicked. How can a guilty prisoner endure the sight of the judge? If Felix trembled when Paul preached of judgment, Acts xxiv 25, how will sinners tremble when they shall see Christ come to judgment! Christ is described, sitting in judgment, with a fiery stream issuing from him. Dan vii 10. The Lamb of God will then be turned into a lion, the sight of whom will strike terror into sinners. When Joseph said to his brethren, ‘I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt,’ ‘they were troubled at his presence.’ Gen xlv 4. How did their hearts smite them for their sin! So, when Christ shall come to judgment, and say ‘I am Jesus, whom ye sinned against; I am Jesus, whose laws ye have broken, whose blood ye despised. I am now come to judge you.’ Oh, what horror and amazement will take hold of sinners! How they will be troubled at the presence of their judge!

(ii) The approach of Christ to the bench of judicature will be comfortable to the righteous. Christ will come in spender and great glory. His first coming in the flesh was obscure. Isa Liii 2. He was like a prince in disguise; but his second coming will be illustrious—the shall come in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. Mark vii 38, Oh what a bright day that will be, when a vast number of angels, those morning stars, shall appear in the air, and Christ the Sun of Righteousness shall shine in splendor above the brightest cherub! He will come as a friend. Indeed, if the saints’ judge were their enemy, they might fear to be condemned; but he who loves them, and prayed for them, is their judge; he who is their husbands their judge, therefore they need not fear but all things shall go well on their side.

(3.) the trial itself, which has a dark and a light side. A dark side. It will fall heavy on the wicked, when the judge being set, the books shall be opened, the book of conscience, and the book of God’s remembrance. Rev xx 12. The sinners’ charge being red, all their sins laid open, their murder, drunkenness, and uncleanness, Christ will say,’What can you plead for yourselves, That the sentence of death should not pass?’ Then being convicted, they will be speechless. Then follows the dismal sentence: Ita maledicti, ‘depart from me, ye cursed, into an everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.’ Matt xxv 41. He that said to God, ‘Depart from me,’ Job xxi 14, and to religion, ‘ Depart from me,‘ , must now hear that word pronounced from his judge, ‘ Depart from me,‘– A dreadful, but a righteous sentence. Ps li 4. the sinner himself shall cry, ‘Guilty!!’ Though he has a sea of wrath, he has not one drop of injustice. When once the sentence is passed, it is irreversible; there is no appealing to a higher court. The trial has also a light side. It will increase the joy and happiness of the righteous. The day of judgment will be a day of jubilee to them.

[2] at that day Christ their judge Will own them by name. Those home the world scorned, and looked upon as mad men and fools, Christ will take by the hand and openly acknowledge to be his favorites. What is his ‘confessing of men’ but his openly acknowledging them to be precious in his eyes? Luke xii 8.

Christ as judge will plead for them. It is not usual to be both Judge and advocate, to sit on the bench and plead; But it will be so at the day of judgment.

(1.) Christ will plead his own blood for the saints. ‘these persons I have purchased; they are the travail of my soul; they have sinned, but my soul was made an offering for their sin.’

(2.) Christ will vindicate them from all unjust centers. They were strangely misrepresented in the world, As proud, hypocritical, factious; as Paul was called a seditious man, the head of a faction. Acts xxiv 5. but at the day of judgment Christ will clear their innocence; he will ‘Bring forth their righteousness as the light.’ Ps xxxvii 6. he will wipe off the tears from their eyes, and dust from their names. When Moses was charged with taking too much upon him, he comforted himself with this, ‘tomorrow the Lord will show who are his.’ Numb xvi 5. so the Saints when reproached, they comfort themselves with the day of judgment, in which Christ will say who are his, and they shall come forth as the wings of a dove covered with silver.

(3.) Christ will abs all these people before men and angels. As a pilot said of Christ,’I find no fault in this man’, John xviii 38; so Will Christ sake of the elect, ‘I find no fault in them, I pronounce them righteous.’ Then follows,’Come, he blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom.’ Matt xxv 34. As if Christ should say,’O ye happy ones, the delight of my soul, the fruits of my sufferings, stand no longer at the bar. We are heirs apparent to the crown of Heaven, enter and take possession.’ At the hearing of this sentence, with what ravishing joy will the saints be filled! This word,’Come, ye blessed,’ will be music to their ear, and a cordial to their heart.

(4.) Christ will mention before men and angels all the good deeds the signs of have done. ‘I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was third, and ye gave me to drink.’ Matt xxv 35. You that has wept in secret for sin, and that have shown any love for Christ’s name, that have been rich in good works, Christ will take notice of it at the last day, and say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ He himself will be the herald to proclaim your praises; thus it shall be done to the man whom Christ delights to honor.

…(1.) The day of judgment is comfort in respect of weakness of grace. A Christian is ready to be troubled to see his grace so minute and imperfect; but, at the last day, if Christ find but a drachm of true grace, it shall be accepted. If think be true gold, thought it be many grains too light, Christ will put his merits into the scales, and make it pass current.

Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (1692; Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, repr. 1997), 312–15

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