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is secret that shall not be made manifest, neither any thing hid that shall not be known and come abroad. (Luke viii. 17.)
But do we not shut out all hope? In this way, shall not all perish? If indeed, these books were all, we might despair; but, blessed be God, another book is produced at that day.
We notice then, in the next place, a PARTICULAR BOOK-the book of life, in which book, if the name of any one be inscribed, he is not condemned, but is accepted.
There is a frequent allusion to this particular book in the preceding chapters. The Saviour promises to him that overcometh, I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. (Rev. iii. 5.) He shews that all shall worship the beast, whose names are not written in the book of life,...of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. xiii. 8; xvii. 8.)
The figure seems taken from the list of freemen of a city. There is a list of freemen belonging to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. Their salvation has been decreed from eternity; they were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. In the fulness of time God called them to himself, outwardly by his word, and inwardly by his Spirit: their names are on the Redemeer's Roll, and they have subscribed with their hands to the Lord. They have
ventured their souls on the merits of Jesus; they are freely justified by his grace, and have received his Spirit, and brought forth that fruit of good living, which distinguishes those who belong to Christ.
If their sins be written against them in other books, in this book they are all struck through with the marks of the Redeemer's blood. They are blotted out according to that gracious promise, I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins, (Isaiah xliii. 25;) and on the other hand, to them in the language of St. Paul, God imputeth righteousness without works.
Yet even those, whose names are in the book of life, are judged according to their works; for all are judged-every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Every man's work shall be manifest, for the day shall declare it. (1 Cor. iii. 13.) Their judgment is necessary for two reasons; that the divine justice and equity in the discrimination made between them and the wicked, may be clearly seen, and that the proportion of their reward may be fixed.-Though saved by grace, there are yet different degrees of glory according to our fruitfulness in good works, for he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. But here is the blessedness of the Book of life-it furnishes a plea to answer the various charges
which lie against us—it records, as its first name, if I may so say, that Prince of Life, the Head of his people, who bore their sins in his own body on the tree; and by whose obedience they are accounted righteous; who is the second Adam, through whose righteousness the free gift comes upon all who believe in him unto justification of life. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. xv. 22.)
Brethren, may you then believe in Jesus, and live to him, and so shall it be manifest that your names are inscribed in the book of life.
Think, we beseech you, think again and again, what you can possibly answer to all the charges written in God's book against you; apply to the Lord Jesus without delay, and never cease calling upon him for salvation; continue to ask, to seek, and to knock, so shall you obtain satisfaction, on just grounds, through the manifest work of the Spirit on your hearts and in your lives, that your sins are all blotted out, and will be no more remembered against you, that you are clothed with that righteousness in which alone you can be accepted, and which is unto, and upon all them that believe, and are made meet for the heavenly inheritance.
IV. THE JUDGMENT ITSELF.
The dead were judged out of those things which
were written in the books, every man according to their works.
Notice its comprehensiveness, its condemnation, its justification.
Its COMPREHENSIVENESS is universal. It is not only a judgment for all men, but for all works also. If every man is judged according to his works, as stated in our text, then not only must we all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, but also all be judged for all our works; so the Scriptures plainly state, For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. (Eccles. xii. 14.) Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matt. xii. 36.) The whole of life as recorded in the books which have been mentioned will be brought under review, our thoughts and words and works, our relative duties, our tempers, our daily conduct. And let the self-righteous remember that, if they rest on their own obedience, one single sin will condemn them. (James ii. 10.)
Sinners how will ye
O fearful scrutiny! appear! Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God! You cannot answer him one of a thousand of the charges brought against you. Think of this, ere it be too late, and seek the true refuge.
The CONDEMNATION of that day.
All who have not fled for refuge to Christ Jesus, and have no meetness for the heavenly inheritance, must evidently and without remedy be condemned. There is none other name under heaven given whereby we must be saved,-and they have rejected that only name. See the wicked then clearly and fully manifested to be wicked. See them without excuse, speechless before the throne. Now they begin to feel the force of that question they should have before considered, Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
It is a fearful thing to see a criminal at an earthly tribunal tried for his life and condemned to death; to mark his pale face, his quivering lips, and his trembling limbs, and to hear the judge pronounce the awful penalty; but all this is temporary and unimportant compared with this everlasting condemnation. The words of the Judge are full of terror, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt. xxv. 41.) And the execution of the sentence immediately follows, Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. xx. 15.)
O dread above every thing this condemation ! Fear nothing compared with this! Suffer any thing rather than undergo this! It comprehends all other evils, and with the tremendous addition