QUESTION 28. Wherein consists Christ's exaltation?
ANSWER: Christ's exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
Q. 1. What do you understand by Christ's exaltation?
A. Not the conferring of any new glory upon his divine person, which is absolutely unchangeable; but a manifestation, in the human nature, (which had eclipsed it for awhile,) of the same glory, of which he was eternally possessed as the Son of God, John 17:5 -- "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
Q. 2. Why does Christ's exaltation immediately follow his humiliation?
A. Because it is the proper reward of it, Phil. 2:8, 9 -- "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted him."
Q. 3. What is the consequence of Christ's exaltation with respect to himself?
A. That the ignominy of the cross is thus fully wiped off, Heb. 12:2.
Q. 4. What is the design of it with respect to us?
A. "God raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God," 1 Pet. 1:21.
Q. 5. What are the several steps of Christ's exaltation mentioned in the answer?
A. They are, his rising again from the dead; his ascending up into heaven; his sitting at the right hand of God; and his coming to judge the world at the last day.
Q. 6. What is the FIRST STEP of Christ's exaltation?
A. His rising again from the dead on the third day, 1 Cor. 15:4.
Q. 7. What day of the week did the third day fall upon?
A. Upon the first day of the week, which is ever since, called the Lord's day, Rev. 1:10; and is to be observed to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath, Acts 20:7.
Q. 8. How can the day of Christ's resurrection be called the third day, when he was not two full days in the grave before?
A. It is usual in scripture to denominate the whole day from the remarkable event that happens in any hour of it: thus, Christ being crucified and buried on the evening before the Jewish Sabbath, and rising early in the morning after it, is said to rise again, "the third day according to the scriptures," 1 Cor. 15:4.
Q. 9. How may the truth Of Christ's resurrection be demonstrated?
A. From its being prefigured and foretold, and from its being attested by unquestionable witnesses and infallible proofs, Acts 1:3.
Q. 10. How was the resurrection of Christ prefigured?
A. By Abraham's receiving Isaac from the dead as a figure or representation of it, Heb. 11:19.
Q. 11. Was his resurrection foretold in the scriptures of the Old Testament?
A. The apostle Paul expressly affirms that it was, Acts 13:32-35 -- "The promise," says he, "which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written, in the Second Psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee; and that he raised him up from the dead, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David, (Isa. 55:3). Wherefore he saith in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption, (Psalm 16:10)."
Q. 12. Did not Christ foretell his own resurrection before he died?
A. Yes; for he said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," meaning the temple of his body, John 2:19, 21; and directed his disciples, before his death, to meet him in Galilee, after his resurrection, Matt. 26:32 -- "After I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee."
Q. 13. By whom was the resurrection of Christ, attested?
A. By angels, by the disciples, and many others who saw him alive after he was risen.
Q. 14. What testimony did the angels give to his resurrection?
A. They said to the women who came to the sepulchre, "He is not here, for he is risen, as he said," Matt. 28:6.
Q. 15. How did the disciples attest the truth of his resurrection?
A. They unanimously declared, that "God raised him up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but unto the witnesses chosen before of God, even to us," says Peter, "who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead," Acts 10:40, 41.
Q. 16. Did Christ confirm the truth of his resurrection by frequent bodily appearances after it?
A. Yes; for on the very day he rose, "he appeared first to Mary Magdalene," Mark 16:9; then he appeared to her in company with the other Mary, Matt. 28:1, 9; afterwards he showed himself to the two disciples going to Emmaus, Luke 24:13, 15; then to Simon Peter alone, ver. 34; and "the same day at evening, being the first day of the week," he appeared to all the disciples, except Thomas, John 20:19, 24; after eight days, he appeared to all the apostles, when Thomas was with them, ver. 26; "After these things Jesus showed himself again to his disciples, at the sea of Tiberias," John 21:1; then we read of his appearing to the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee, Matt. 28:16; at which time, it is probable, he was seen of the five hundred brethren at once, mentioned, 1 Cor. 15:6:after that he was seen of James, ver. 7; and, lastly, on the day of his ascension, he appeared to all the disciples on Mount Olivet, Acts 1:9, 12.
Q. 17. For how long time did Christ show himself alive, to his disciples, after his resurrection?
A. Forty days, Acts 1:3.
Q. 18. Why did he continue so long with them?
A. That they might be fully convinced of the truth of his resurrection, by his appearing frequently in their presence, and conversing familiarly with them, Acts 10:40, 41, and that they might be instructed in the nature and government of his kingdom, chap. 1:3.
Q. 19. How may we be sure, that the testimony of the disciples, who were witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, may be depended upon as an infallible proof of it?
A. Because they testified of his resurrection, as a thing of which they had certain and personal knowledge, and proclaimed it in a most public and open manner, in the very place where that remarkable event happened, Acts 3:15, and that under the outward disadvantages of being imprisoned, beaten, Acts 5:18, 40, and persecuted to death itself, for publishing and defending such a doctrine, Acts 12:2, 3.
Q. 20. By whose power did Christ rise from the dead?
A. Although the resurrection of Christ be frequently ascribed to the Father, as in Eph. 1:20; yet, in opposition to the Socinians, and other enemies of the Deity of Christ, it is to be maintained, that he rose also by his own divine power, as is evident from Rom. 1:4.
Q. 21. How may it further appear, that he rose by his own divine power?
A. He expressly affirms, that he would raise up the temple of his body on the third day, John 2:19; and that he had power to lay down his life and to take it again, chap. 10:18.
Q. 22. In what capacity did he rise from the dead?
A. In the capacity of a public person, representing all his spiritual seed; and as having their discharge in his hand, Rom. 4:25.
Q. 23. What was the necessity of Christ's resurrection?
A. It was necessary in respect of God, in respect of Christ himself, and in respect of us.
Q. 24. Why was it necessary in respect of God?
A. Because, since he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it was necessary that he should not be the God of a dead, but of a living Redeemer: for he is "not the God of the dead, but of the living," Matt. 22:32.
Q. 25. Why was the resurrection of Christ necessary with respect to himself?
A. Because, having fully paid the debt for which he was incarcerated, justice required that he should "be taken from prison and from judgement," Isa. 53:8; and that, since he purchased a kingdom by his death, he should rise again to possess it, Rom. 14:9.
Q. 26. Why was it necessary with respect to us?
A. Because, "if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain, and we are yet in our sins," 1 Cor. 15:17.
Q. 27. Did Christ rise with the self-same body in which he suffered?
A. Yes; for, says he to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing," John 20:27.
Q. 28. What remarkable circumstances accompanied the resurrection of Christ?
A. It was accompanied with a great earthquake, the attendance of angels, and such terror upon the keepers, that they "did shake, and became as dead men," Matt. 28:2, 4.
Q. 29. In what manner did the high priest and elder vainly attempt to smother the truth of his resurrection?
A. They bribed the soldiers to say, "his disciples came by night, and stole him away, while we slept," Matt. 28:12, 13.
Q. 30. How does the falsehood of this ill-made story appear at first sight?
A. From this: that it is not to be supposed the whole company of soldiers, who guarded the sepulchre, would be all asleep at once, especially considering the great earthquake that accompanied the rolling away the stone, and the severity of the Roman military discipline, in like cases, Acts 12:18, 19; and if they were really asleep, how could they know that the disciples came and stole him away?
Q. 31. What does the doctrine of Christ's resurrection teach us?
A. That he must needs be a God of peace, who "brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus," Heb. 13:20; that death and the grave are unstinged and vanquished, 1 Cor. 15:55; and that his resurrection is a certain pledge and earnest of the resurrection of his members at the last day, he having "become the first fruits of them that slept," ver. 20.
Q. 32. What is the SECOND STEP of Christ's exaltation?
A. His ascending up into heaven, Psalm 68:18.
Q. 33. Does not Christ's ascending up into heaven, presuppose his descending thence?
A. Yes; for so argues the apostle; "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth," Eph. 4:9.
Q. 34. Did Christ, when he is said to descend, bring a human nature from heaven with him?
A. By no means; for the human nature was made of a woman, on this earth, by the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost, Luke 1:35; but his descending signifies his amazing condescension, in assuming our nature into personal union with himself, Phil. 2:6, 7.
Q. 35. How is the ascension of Christ expressed in scripture?
A. By his going away, John 16:7; his being "received up into heaven," Mark 16:19; and his having "entered once into the holy place," Heb. 9:12.
Q. 36. As to which of his two natures is he properly said to ascend?
A. Although Christ ascended personally into heaven, yet ascension is properly attributed to his human nature, as the divine nature is every where present, John 3:13.
Q. 37. From what part of the earth did Christ ascend into heaven?
A. He ascended from Mount Olivet, which was nigh to Bethany, Luke 24:50, compared with Acts 1:12.
Q. 38. What is worthy of consideration in this circumstance, that he ascended from Mount Olivet?
A. In the Mount of Olives was the place where his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death; and where he was in such an agony, that "his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground," Luke 22:39, 44; and therefore, in that very place, his heart is made glad by a triumphant ascension into that fullness of joy, and those pleasures for evermore, that are at God's right hand, Psalm 16:11.
Q. 39. Whither did Christ ascend, or to what place?
A. He ascended up into heaven, Acts 1:10, 11.
Q. 40. When did Christ ascend into heaven?
A. When forty days after his resurrection were elapsed, Acts 1:3.
Q. 41. Who were the witnesses of his ascension?
A. The eleven disciples were eye witnesses of it; for, "while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight," Acts 1:9.
Q. 42. What was he doing when he parted from them?
A. He was blessing them, Luke 24:51 -- "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
Q. 43. What was his parting word?
A. "Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," Matt. 28:20.
Q. 44. In what capacity did Christ ascend?
A. In a public capacity, as representing his whole mystical body: hence he is called the Forerunner, who "is, for us, entered within the veil," Heb. 6:20.
Q. 45. With what solemnity did he ascend?
A. With the solemnity of a glorious triumph: for, having vanquished sin, Satan, hell, and death, he ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, Eph. 4:8.
Q. 46. Who went in his retinue?
A. Thousands of angels, sounding forth his praise, as a victorious conqueror, Psalm 68:17.
Q. 47. What evidence did he give from heaven, of the reality of his ascension?
A. The extraordinary effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, within a few days after it, Acts 2:1-4.
Q. 48. Why was this remarkable down-pouring of the Spirit delayed till after Christ's ascension?
A. That he might evidence his bounty and liberality, upon his instalment into the kingdom, by giving "gifts unto men," Eph. 4:8.
Q. 49. For what end did Christ ascend up into heaven?
A. That he might take possession of the many mansions there, and prepare them for his people, by carrying in the merit of his oblation thither, John 14:2, 3; and likewise, that he might make continual intercession for them, Heb. 7:25.
Q. 50. What does the ascension of Christ teach us?
A. That he has brought in an everlasting righteousness, because he has gone to his Father, John 16:10; and to believe that he will come again to receive us to himself that where he is, there we may be also, John 14:3.
Q. 51. What is the THIRD STEP of Christ's exaltation?
A. His sitting at the right hand of God the Father, Eph. 1:20.
Q. 52. What is meant by the right hand in scripture?
A. The place of the greatest honour and dignity, 1 Kings 2:19.
Q. 53. What is meant by sitting?
A. It implies rest and quietness, Micah 4:4 -- "They shall sit, every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid:" and likewise power and authority, Zech. 6:13 -- "He shall sit and rule upon his throne."
Q. 54. What then are we to understand by Christ's sitting at the right hand of God the Father?
A. The quiet and peaceable possession of that matchless dignity, and fullness of power, with which he is vested, as the glorious King and Head of his church, Eph. 1:19-22.
Q. 55. For what end does he sit at the right hand of the Father?
A. That he may there represent his people, and make his enemies his footstool.
Q,. 56. How does it appear that he represents his people at the right hand of God?
A. Because they are said to "sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," which can only be meant of their sitting representatively in him, as their glorious Head, Eph. 2:6.
Q. 57. How are the enemies of Christ made his footstool?
A. By the triumphant victory which is obtained over them, Psalm 72:8, 9; and the extremity of shame, horror, and confusion, with which they shall be covered, Psalm 132:18.
Q. 58. When shall his enemies be made his footstool?
A. He has already triumphed over them in his cross, Col. 2:15; but he will make his final conquest conspicuous to the whole world at the last day, Rev. 20:10-14.
Q. 59. How long will Christ sit at the right hand of God the Father?
A. For ever and ever, Psalm 45:6 -- "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever."
Q. 60. Will Christ's mediatory power and authority, at the right hand of God, be the same in the church triumphant in heaven, as it is in the church militant on earth?
A. It will be the same as to the essence or substance of it, but different as to the manner of its administration.
Q. 61. In what consists the essence of Christ's mediatory power and authority in heaven?
A. In the relation in which he stands to the members of his body: he will continue for ever to be the King, Head, and Husband of the church triumphant, the fountain of all blessing and happiness to them, and the bond of their perpetual fellowship and communion with God, Psalm 48:14; Hos. 2:19; Rev. 7:17.
Q. 62. What is the difference between the manner of the administration of his mediatory power there and hereafter?
A. The administration of his kingdom on this earth, is, by the ministry of the word, the dispensation of the sacraments, and the exercise of ecclesiastical government and discipline: but in heaven, there will be no use for any of these, Rev. 21:22 -- "I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple of it."
Q. 63. What is meant then by Christ's delivering "up the kingdom to God, even the Father?" 1 Cor. 15:24.
A. The meaning is, Christ having completed the salvation of his church, will present all and every one of them to his "Father, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing," Eph. 5:27, saying, "Behold! I, and the children which God hath given me," Heb. 2:13.
Q. 64. What is meant by Christ's putting down all rule, and all authority, and power, in the above passage, 1 Cor. 15:24?
A. The meaning is, he will have no occasion to exercise his power and authority, in such sort as he did before; as there will be no more elect to save, and no more enemies to conquer, Rev. 19:8-20.
Q. 65. In what sense will the "Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him" as it is said, ver. 28.?
A. The Son, as Mediator, being the Father's servant in the great work of redemption, Isa. 42:1, shall then be "subject to him that put all things under him," in so far, as having finished his mediatorial service, in bringing all the elect to glory, he will render up his commission, as his Father's delegate, not to be executed any more, in the former manner, as ruling over his church in the midst of enemies; for he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet, 1 Cor. 15:25; Heb 10:13.
Q. 66. In what respect is it said, that God shall then be all in all?
A. The glory of the Three-one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, will then be most clearly displayed, and no more a seeing "through a glass darkly, but face to face," 1 Cor. 13:12, and a seeing him as he is, 1 John 3:2.
Q. 67. What may we learn from Christ's sitting at the right hand of God?
A. That we ought to "seek those things which are above," where Christ is; and to "set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth," Col. 3:1, 2.
Q. 68. What is the FOURTH STEP of Christ's exaltation?
A. His coming to judge the world at the last day, Rev. 1:7; John 12:48.
Q. 69. How do you prove that there will be a general judgement?
A. The scripture expressly asserts it; and the justice and goodness of God necessarily require it.
Q. 70. Where is it expressly asserted in scripture?
A. In many places; particularly Acts 17:31 -- "He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained," &c. See also 2 Cor. 5:10; Jude, ver. 6; Rev. 20:11-13.
Q. 71. Why do the justice and goodness of God require a judgement?
A. Because they necessarily require that it be well with the righteous and ill with the wicked; that every man be rewarded according to his works, which not being done in this life, there must be a judgement to come: "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," 2 Thess. 1:6, 7.
Q. 72. Who is to be the Judge?
A. The Son of man, the man Christ Jesus, Matt. 25:31; Rom. 14:10.
Q. 73. How will Christ, as God-man, be Judge, when it is said, (Psa. 50:6) that God is Judge himself?
A. The Three-one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is Judge, in respect of judiciary authority, dominion, and power; but Christ, as God-man, Mediator, is the Judge, in respect of dispensation and special exercise of that power, John 5:22 -- "The Father hath committed all judgement unto the Son."
Q. 74. Why is the judgement of the world committed to Christ as mediator?
A. Because it is a part of that exaltation, which is conferred upon him, in consequence of his voluntary humiliation, Phil. 2:8-10.
Q. 75. When will Christ come to judge the world?
A. At the last day, John 6:39, 40.
Q. 76. Why is it called the last day?
A. Because, after it time shall be no more; there will be no more a succession of days and nights, but one perpetual day of light, comfort, and joy, to the righteous, Rev. 21:23; and one perpetual night of utter darkness, misery, and wo, unto the wicked, Matt. 25:30.
Q. 77. In what manner will Christ come to judge the world?
A. In a most splendid and glorious manner: "for he will come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory," Matt. 24:30; "In the glory of his Father, with the holy angels," Mark 8:38.
Q. 78. Will the world be looking for him when he comes to judgement?
A. No; his coming will be a fearful surprise to the world; for "the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night," 2 Pet. 3:10. See also Luke 17:26-31.
Q. 79. What is the difference between his first and second coming?
A. In his first coming, "he was made sin for us, though he knew no sin," 2 Cor. 5:21; but "he shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation," Heb. 9:28.
Q. 80. Is the precise time of his second coming known to men or angels?
A. No; it is fixed in the counsel of God, but not revealed to us, Mark 13:32.
Q. 81. What will be the forerunner of his second coming?
A. The preaching of the gospel to all nations, Matt. 24:14; the downfall of Antichrist, Rev. 18:21; the conversion of the Jews, Rev. 16:12; and yet, after all, a general decay of religion, and great security, Luke 18:8.
Q. 82. What are the qualities of the Judge?
A. He will be a visible Judge, "every eye shall see him," Rev. 1:7; an omniscient Judge, "all things will be naked and opened unto his eyes," Heb. 4:13; a most just and righteous Judge, 2 Tim. 4:8; and an omnipotent Judge, able to put his sentence into execution, Rev. 6:17.
Q. 83. Who are the parties that shall appear?
A. All mankind, called all nations, Matt. 25:32; and likewise, "the angels which kept not their first estate," Jude, verse 6.
Q. 84. What summons will be given to the parties?
A. "The voice of the archangel and the trump of God," 1 Thess. 4:16.
Q. 85. Will any of them be able to contemn the summons?
A. By no means: "all shall stand before the judgement seat of Christ; and every one shall give account of himself to God," Rom. 14:10, 12.
Q. 86. Where will be his throne of judgement?
A. In the clouds, or aerial heavens; for we read of being "caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," 1 Thess. 4:17.
Q. 87. By whom shall all mankind, great and small, be gathered to the bar of the Judge?
A. By the angels, who shall gather together all the elect, Mark 13:27, and likewise the reprobate, Matt. 13:41.
Q. 88. Will the elect and reprobate stand together, in one assembly, to be judged?
A. No; they shall be "separated one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats," Matt. 25:32.
Q. 89. How will they be assorted and separated, the one from the other?
A. The elect, who are called the sheep, being "caught up together in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," 1 Thess. 4:17, shall be set on his right hand; and the reprobate, being the goats, are left on the earth, (Matt. 24:40,) upon the Judge's left hand, Matt. 25:33.
Q. 90. What kind of a separation will this be?
A. It will be a total and final separation, never to meet or be fixed with one another any more, Matt. 25:46.
Q. 91. Will any man be a mere spectator of these two opposite companies?
A. No, surely: every man and woman must take their place in one of the two; and shall share with the company, whatever hand it be upon, Matt. 25:33.
Q. 92. What will be the subject matter of the trial?
A. Men's works, "for God shall bring every work into judgement," &c., Eccl. 12:14; their words, "every idle word that men speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement," Matt. 12:36; and their thoughts, for he "will make manifest the counsels of the heart," 1 Cor. 4:5.
Q. 93. Why are books said to be opened at this solemn trial? Rev. 20:12.
A. Not to prevent mistakes in any point of law or fact for the Judge has an infallible knowledge of all things, but to show that his proceeding is most accurate, just, and well-grounded in every step of it, Gen. 18:25.
Q. 94. What are these books that shall be opened, and men "judged out of these things, which are written in the books?"
A. The book of God's remembrance, Mal. 3:16; the book of conscience, Rom. 2:15; the book of the law, Gal. 3:10:and the book of life, Rev. 20:12.
Q. 95. What is the book of God's remembrance?
A. It is the same with his omniscience, by which he knows exactly every man's state, thoughts, words, and deeds, whether good or bad, John 21:17 -- "Lord, thou knowest all things."
Q. 96. For what will this book serve?
A. It will serve for an indictment against the ungodly: but with respect to the saints, it will be a memorial of all the good they have ever done, Matt. 25:35-41.
Q. 97. What kind of a book is that of conscience?
A. It is just a duplicate of God's book of remembrance, so far as it relates to ones own state and case, Rom. 2:15.
Q. 98. What is the book of the law?
A. It is the standard and rule of right and wrong, Rom. 7:7; and likewise of the sentence that shall be passed upon those who are under it, Gal. 3:10.
Q. 99. Why will this book be opened?
A. That all on the left hand may read their sentence in it, before it be pronounced, Ezek. 18:4.
Q. 100. By what law will the heathens be judged?
A. By the natural law, or the light of nature, which shows that "they who commit such things (as they shall be convicted of) are worthy of death," Rom. 1:32.
Q. 101. By what law will Jews and Christians be judged?
A. By the [written] law, Rom. 2:12 -- "As many as have sinned in the law," -- that is, under the written law, -- "shall be judged by the written law."
Q. 102. Whether will Christians or Heathens be most inexcusable?
A. Beyond all doubt, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and other heathen countries, at the day of judgement, than for those who enjoyed the light of the gospel, and despised it, Matt. 11:22, 24.
Q. 103. Will the book of the law be opened for the sentence of the saints?
A. No; for being, in this life, brought under a new covenant, they are no more "under the law, but under grace," Rom. 6:14; and therefore another book must be opened for their sentence.
Q. 104. What is that other book out of which the saints shall be judged?
A. It is the book of life, Rev. 20:12.
Q. 105. What is registered in this book?
A. The names of all the elect, Luke 10:20 -- "Your names are written in heaven," Rev. 3:5 -- "I will not blot his name out of the book of life."
Q. 106. Why is it called the book of life?
A. Because it contains God's gracious and unchangeable purpose, to bring all the elect to salvation, or eternal life, "through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. 2:13.
Q. 107. In whose hands is the book lodged?
A. In the hands of the Mediator, Christ Jesus, Deut. 33:3 -- "All his saints are in thy hand."
Q. 108. What is the ground of the saints' acquittal, according to this book?
A. The book of life being opened, it will be known to all who are elected, and who not: Christ will, as it were, read out every man's and woman's name recorded in this book, Rev. 3:5 -- "I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
Q. 109. Whether will the cause of the righteous or the wicked be first discussed?
A. As "the dead in Christ shall rise first," (1 Thess. 4:16,) so it appears from Matt. 25:34, and 41, compared, that the judgement of the saints, on the right hand, will have the preference.
Q. 110. What is the blessed sentence that shall be pronounced upon the saints?
A. "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," Matt. 25:34.
Q. 111. For what reason will this sentence be pronounced first?
A. Because the saints are to sit in judgement, as Christ's assessors, against wicked men and apostate angels, 1 Cor. 6:3, 4.
Q. 112. Upon what footing or foundation will this sentence pass?
A. Upon the footing of free grace alone, reigning through the imputed righteousness of the Surety, unto eternal life, Rom. 5:21.
Q. 113. Is it not said, Rev. 20:13, that they are "judged every man according to their works?"
A. The sentence passes upon the saints, ACCORDING to their works, as flowing from a heart renewed and sanctified; but neither for their works, nor for their faith, as if eternal life were in any way merited by them, Gal. 3:18; for the kingdom is said to he prepared for them, they inherit it as children, Rom. 8:17; but do not procure it to themselves, as servants do their wages, Col. 4:1.
Q. 114. Are not good works mentioned as the ground of the sentence, Matt. 25:35, 36 -- "I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat" &c.?
A. These good works are mentioned, not as grounds of their sentence, but as evidences of their union with Christ, and of their right and title to heaven in him, John 15:5, 8; even as the apostle says in another case, of the unbelieving Jews, 1 Cor. 10:5 -- "With many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness:" their overthrow in the wilderness, was not the ground of God's displeasure with them, but the evidence of it.
Q. 115. Will there be any mention made of the sins of the righteous?
A. It appears not; "In that time, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none: and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found," Jer. 5:20. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth," &c. Rom. 8:33, 34.
Q. 116. What will follow upon the saints' receiving their sentence of absolution?
A. They "shall judge the world," 1 Cor. 6:2.
Q. 117. In what way and manner shall they judge the world?
A. As assessors to Christ the Judge, assenting to his judgement as just, Rev. 19:2, and saying Amen to the doom pronounced against all the ungodly, Psalm 149:6-9.
Q. 118. What will be the sentence of damnation that shall pass upon the ungodly?
A. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," Matt. 25:41.
Q. 119. How is the misery of the wicked aggravated, by the pronouncing of this sentence?
A. In as much as they are damned by him who came to save sinners, Heb. 2:3, and must undergo the wrath of the Lamb, from which they can make no escape, Rev. 6:16, 17.
Q. 120. Is there any injury or wrong done them by this sentence?
A. By no means: for, says our Lord, "I was a hungered, and ye gave me no meat," &c. Matt. 25:42, 43.
Q. 121. Are these evils no more than evidences of their accursed state?
A. They are not only evidences of their ungodly state, but they are the proper causes and grounds of their condemnation: for, though good works do not merit salvation, yet evil works merit damnation, Rom. 6:23 -- "The wages of sin is death."
Q. 122. Why are only sins of omission mentioned in the above passage?
A. To show, that if men shall be condemned for sins of omission, James 2:13, much more for those of commission, Rom. 2:23, 24.
Q. 123. What will follow upon the sentence of condemnation against the wicked?
A. The immediate execution of it, without the least reprieve or delay, Matt. 22:13.
Q. 124. Will the devils also be judged?
A. Yes; they are "reserved unto the judgement of the great day," Jude v. 6.
Q. 125. How can they be said to be reserved unto the judgement of that day, when they are condemned already?
A. Though, from the first moment of their sinning, they were actually under the wrath of God, and ever since carry their hell about with them, yet their final sentence to further judgement is reserved for that day, 2 Pet. 2:4.
Q. 126. What is the final sentence, or further judgement, to which they are reserved?
A. It will be a most dreadful addition, and accession to their present torments, not only by the holy triumph which the saints shall have over them, as vile, vanquished, and contemptible enemies; but likewise, by the eternal restraint that shall be laid upon them, from hurting the elect any more; and that, by their being shut up, and closely confined in the prison of hell, under the utmost extremity of anguish and horror for ever and ever, Rev. 20:10.
Q. 127. Who will keep the field on that day?
A. Christ and his glorious company: they shall see the backs of all their enemies, for the DAMNED shall go off first; as seems to be intimated in the order mentioned, Matt. 25:46 -- "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."
Q. 128. What improvement ought we to make of Christ's coming to judge the world at the last day?
A. To be diligent that we be "found of him in peace at that day," 2 Pet. 3:14, by closing with him in the offer of the gospel now: to be "looking for, and hasting unto the coming of the day of God," ver. 12, having our "loins girded about, and our lights burning," Luke 12:35; that so, when he comes, whether at death or judgement, we may be able to say, with joy, "Lo! This is our God, we have waited for him," Isa. 25:9.