Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
The sentence that will be passed on our actions at the last day. I. The proofs of a general judgment are these:
1. The justice of God requires it; for it is evident that this attribute is not clearly displayed in the dispensation of things in the present state, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 . Luke 14:26 .
2. The accusations of natural conscience are testimonies in favour of this belief, Romans 2:1-29 . Daniel 5:5-6 . Acts 24:25 .
3. It may be concluded from the relation men stand in to God, as creatures to a Creator. He has a right to give them a law, and to make them accountable for the breach of it, Romans 14:12 .
4. The resurrection of Christ is a certain proof of it.
See Acts 17:31 . Romans 14:9 .
5. The Scripture, in a variety of places, sets it beyond all doubt, Judges 1:14-15 . 2 Corinthians 5:10 . Matthew 25:1-46 : Romans 14:10-11 , 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:10 . 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 . II. As to the Judge: the Bible declares that God will judge the world by Jesus Christ, Acts 17:31 . The triune God will be the Judge, as to original authority, power, and right of judgment; but, according to the economy settled between the three divine persons, the work is assigned to the Son, Romans 14:9-10 , who will appear in his human nature, John 5:27 . Acts 17:31 . with great power and glory, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 , visible to every eye, Revelation 1:7 . penetrating every heart, 1 Corinthians 4:5 . Romans 2:16 . with full authority over all, Matthew 28:18 . and acting with strict justice, 2 Timothy 4:8 . As for the concern of others in the judgment; angels will be no otherwise concerned than as attendants, gathering the elect, raising the dead, &c. but not as advising of judging.
Saints are said to judge the world; not as co-judgers with Christ, but as approvers of his sentence, and as their holy lives and conversations will rise up in judgment against their wicked neighbours. III. As to the persons that will be judged; these will be men and devils. The righteous, probably, will be tried first, as represented in Matthew 25:1-46 : They will be raised first, though perhaps not a thousand years before the rest, as Dr. Gill supposes; since the resurrection of all the bodies of the saints is spoken of as in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, in order to their meeting the Lord in the air, and being with him not on earth, but for ever in heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:52 . 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 . Here we may take notice of a difficult question which is proposed by some namely, Whether the sins of God's people shall be published in the great day, though it is certain they shall not be alleged against them to their condemnation? "This, " says Dr. Ridgley, "is one of the secret things which belong to God, which he has not so fully or clearly revealed to us in his word; and therefore we can say little more than what is matter of conjecture about it. Some have thought that the sins of the godly, though forgiven, shall be made manifest, that so the glory of that grace which has pardoned them may appear more illustrious, and their obligation to God for this farther enhanced.
They also think, that the justice of the proceedings of that day requires it, since it is presumed and known by the whole world that they were prone to sin, as well as others; and, before conversion, as great sinners as any, and after it their sins had a peculiar aggravation. Therefore, why should not they be made public, as a glory due to the justice and holiness of God, whose nature is opposite to all sin? And this they farther suppose to be necessary, that so the impartiality of divine justice may appear. Moreover, since God, by recording the sins of his saints in Scripture, has perpetuated the knowledge thereof; and if it is to their honour that the sins there mentioned were repented of, as well as forgiven, why may it not be supposed that the sins of the believers shall be made known in the great day? And, besides, this seems agreeable to those expressions of every word, and every action, as being to be brought into judgment, whether it be good, or whether it be bad. "But it is supposed by others, that though the making known of sin that is subdued and forgiven, tends to the advancement of divine grace, yet it is sufficient to answer this end, as far as God designs it shall be answered, that the sins which have been subdued and forgiven, should be known to themselves, and thus forgiveness afford matter of praise to God.
Again; the expressions of Scripture, whereby forgiveness of sin is set forth, are such as seem to argue that those sins which were forgiven shall not be made manifest: thus they are said to be blotted out, Isaiah 43:25 . covered, Psalms 32:1 . subdued and cast into the depths of the sea, Micah 7:19 . and remembered no more, &c. Jeremiah 31:34 . Besides, Christ's being a judge, doth not divest him of the character of an advocate, whose part is rather to conceal the crimes of those whose cause he pleads, than to divulge them; and to this we may add, that the law which requires duty, and forbids the contrary sins, is not the rule by which they who are in Christ are to be proceeded against, for then they could not stand in judgment; but they are dealt with according to the tenor of the Gospel, which forgives and covers all sin. And, farther, it is argued that the public declaring of all their sins before the whole world, notwithstanding their interest in forgiving grace, would fill them with such shame as is hardly consistent with a state of perfect blessedness. And, lastly, the principal argument insisted on is, that our Saviour, in Matthew 25:1-46 : in which he gives a particular account of the proceedings of that day, makes no mention of the sins, but only commends the graces of his saints." As to the wicked, they shall be judged, and all their thoughts, words, and deeds, be brought into judgment, Ecclesiastes 12:14 . The fallen angels, also, are said to be reserved unto the judgment of the great day, Judges 1:6 . They shall receive their final sentence, and be shut up in the prison of hell, Revelation 20:10 . Matthew 8:29 . IV. As to the rule of judgment; we are informed the books will be opened. Revelation 20:12 .
1. The book of divine omniscience, Malachi 3:5 . or remembrance, Malachi 3:16 .
2. The book of conscience, Romans 1:1-32
3. The book of providence, Romans 2:4; Romans 5:1-21 :
4. The book of the Scriptures, Law, and Gospel, John 12:1-50 . Romans 2:16; Romans 2:12 .
5. The book of life, Luke 10:20 . Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15 . V. As to the time of judgment: the soul will either be happy or miserable immediately after death, but the general judgment will not be till after the resurrection, Hebrews 9:27 . There is a day appointed, Acts 17:31 . but it is unknown to men. VI. As to the place: this also is uncertain. Some suppose it will be in the air, because the Judge will come in the clouds of heaven, and the living saints will then be changed, and the dead saints raised, and both be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 . Others think it will be on the earth, on the new earth, on which they will descend from the air with Christ. The place where, however, is of no consequence, when compared with the state in which we shall appear. And as the Scriptures represent it as certain, Ecclesiastes 11:9 . universal, 2 Corinthians 5:11 . righteous, Romans 2:5 . decisive, 1 Corinthians 15:52 . and eternal as to its consequences, Hebrews 6:2 . let us be concerned for the welfare of our immortal interests, flee to the refuge set before us, improve our precious time, depend on the merits of the Redeemer, and adhere to the dictates of the divine word, that we may be found of him in peace. Bates's Works, p. 449; Bishop Hopkins and Stoddard on the Last Judgment; Gill's Body of Divinity, 467, vol. 2: 8vo. Boston's Fourfold State; Hervey's Works, new edition, p. 72, 75, vol. 1: 155, vol. 4: 82, 233, vol. 3:
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Judgment, Last'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/j/judgment-last.html. 1802.