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with authority, and not as the Scribes, expressed it differently.
Our subject, likewise, admits no evasion by understanding Sodom figuratively. The text is clear in expression that old Sodom was meant. This is evident from these words; "If the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." But should a figurative sense still be insisted on, as we find Judah and Israel prefigured by Sodom and Gomorrah in Isaiah i. 10, it is to be remembered, that it must intend some people, that when our Savior spoke, did not then "remain ;" and which, if they had had the privileges of Capernaum, would have remained until that day. Therefore, Sodom, whether it be understood literally of old Sodom, or figuratively of some other people, not then remaining or known among the inhabitants of the earth, in being judged at a time future to the day of Christ, have their judgment in future life.
As Capernaum, in our text, is compared with Sodom, so, in other places, Chorazin and Bethsaida are compared with Tyre and Sidon. Of Tyre and Sidon our Savior said, as he did of Sodom, it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for Chorazin and Bethsaida. And it is as evident that by Tyre and Sidon is meant those ancient cities known by those names, as it is that by Sodom is intended the city so memorable for being sud
denly destroyed by fire. See Luke x. 13. "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes." In understanding Tyre and Sidon figuratively, it should be remembered they must be applied to some people that existed a great while ago in comparison with the Savior's age, or they could not have so early repented.
With reference to the second scripture at the head of this Lecture, let the question be asked: Can we imagine, that men give account to God for every idle word they speak in this life? If so, the text may be fulfilled in time; otherwise, it must receive its accomplishment in future life. St. Paul quotes this prophecy from Isaiah, "And every tongue shall confess to God." His comment is, that "every one of us shall give account of himself to God." It does not appear to be his opinion that men had given, or were giving, their account to God, as they passed the journey of life, but should in some future period. He states it to be at a time, when all shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; and the day of judgment we have before proved to be after this life. But say, men give account for every idle word in this life, we ask, by what means? It is through the medium of conscience? It is those, and those only, "who do by nature the things contained
in the law," whose "consciences bear witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another." Experience is too plain to admit that every idle word is brought, even to the bar of conscience, that drops from many thoughtless tongues. Some are called to remembrance by accident, that otherwise would never have been thought of; but the Psalmist says of the wicked, "God is not in all his thoughts." Then can he be at the judgment-seat, giving account to his Maker through the medium of conscience, for all his words?
Some of my hearers may perhaps be weary of hearing so much argumentatively said on a subject so generally believed and preached among us. But I would beg the patience of these to a few more arguments on the subject; for we wish to know the strength of the ground on which we stand. And besides, however generally believed, there appears to be a number that tacitly discredit the doctrine, and some that openly deny it. Our next testimony is from St. John in the following, where Christ is represented a Judge: "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." This also is testified in the language of St. Paul. "He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained." "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." In another place; "We must all appear before
the judgment-seat of Christ." But our Savior openly asserted, he had nothing to do as a judge in this world. "If any man," says he, "hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." This, I think, is plain additional testimony to what has already been made evident, that we may expect to be judged in a future state; for we find Christ is a judge; all shall stand before his judgmentseat; and yet, when he was here he judges Then in a future state we appear before his judgment seat; and in the same state is the day of judgment.
But we have still more testimony; which may be found by attending to the language of St. Paul. "Whilst we are at home in the body," says he, "we are absent from the Lord. We must all appear before the judginent-seat of Christ, that every man may receive the things done in his body, whether it be good or bad." Query; how shall we appear before the judgment-seat of Christ ? in presence, or in absence? At home in the body, says St. Paul, we are absent from the Lord, and in the third verse from this expression, he states we must all appear before his judgment-seat. Could he possibly mean in this life, when he had just said, we, that is, he and his christian brethren, "in the body are absent from the Lord ?" The conclusion therefore must be evident, that either the opposers of judgment in a future state, or the good old apostle Paul were in the wrong.
Our next and last testimony is from the same apostle as follows: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." This expresses in so many words that judgment is after death. But some evade the force of it by understanding the death to be a spiritual instead of a temporal one. The contrary, I think, is evident from the comparison of men's dying, with the offering, or death of Christ; as well as from a plain allusion to the passages we have been considering. As it is appointed unto men once to die, so Christ was once offered, or died. Or to state it shorter. As men die once, so Christ was once offered. Christ did not die a spiritual death, was never dead in sin; but offered his natural body, and this body died. Man, likewise, by divine appointment, must yield his body to death once, and but once. Now as man yields his body to death once, so Christ on the cross once offered his; and as man comes to judgment after death, so Christ, after he was offered, will appear the second time without sin unto salvation to them that look for him. This appears to be the true import of the text. If a more rational and scriptural interpretation can be offered, it would merit the greater attention. Till such is found, let us be content with its natural import. For