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THE DISAPPOINTMENTS WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
LUKE XIII. 28-30.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. "And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
"And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."
In the 24th verse of this chapter we are informed that a certain man said unto Christ, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" As this was a question of improper curiosity, Christ, instead of answering it, directed him and all others who shall become acquainted with the injunction, to strive to enter in at the strait gate, and subjoined, as a powerful reason for obedience to the command, that many would seek to enter in, and would not be able. To this melancholy declaration he annexed a most affecting account of the miserable disappointment which would
be experienced by those who in this world, but on false grounds, expect an admission into the divine kingdom. They will go with confidence to the door of life, and say, "Lord, Lord, open to "us." They will declare that they have eaten and drunk in his presence, and that he has taught in their streets, but he will reply, "I know you not whence ye are; depart from me ye "workers of iniquity." Then he subjoins, "There shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham, “and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom "of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come "from the east and from the west, from the north and from the "south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And be "hold there are last which shall be first, and there are first " which shall be last."
In this passage of Scripture we are taught,
I. That some of the human race will be shut out from the kingdom of God, who have confidently expected admission.
II. That others, whom they expected to see shut out, will be received.
III. That the distress occasioned by this disappointment will be very great.
These subjects, deeply interesting to every religious assem bly, and demanding at the present moment the most solemn attention of this audience, will be briefly considered in the following discourse.
I. Some of the human race will be shut out of the kingdom of God who have confidently expected admission.
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye "shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the pro"phets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust "out." The persons to whom these words are addressed are exhibited in the context as coming with an assurance of admission, and as alleging what they think very sufficient reasons why they should not be rejected. They give Christ the honourable title of Lord, and thus indicate their own character
as his servants. They request him to open to them, in terms which sufficiently prove that they expect no denial. They declare that they have eaten and drunk in his presence as friends, and that he has, at a former period, shown them peculiar favour, by teaching his religion publicly in their streets. These very persons he addressed in the text as being, to some extent, a part of his audience. This audience, we know, was formed of Jews, all of whom, being children of Abraham, confidently regarded themselves as heirs of the divine kingdom. In the corresponding passage, (Matthew viii. 12,) Christ himself calls them, as they were probably accustomed to call themselves, "the children of the kingdom." "I say unto you, that many "shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with "Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. "But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer "darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." These Jews, therefore, notwithstanding their confident expectations of being admitted, will be finally shut out. Like them, all who on similar grounds form the same expectations, will be disappointed.
Christ has proffered to mankind a glorious immortality in the future, eternal kingdom of his Father. But he has proffered it on his own terms only. Many of mankind, however, intend to obtain this blessing on terms widely different from his. Of these multitudes feel assured of success, and will enter the future world with this assurance. The expectations of all these persons will be disappointed; and while they are crying "Peace and safety," sudden destruction will come upon them, which they cannot escape. As some, perhaps many, of this audience may be in this very situation, it cannot be an unprofitable employment to examine the character of those who will meet with this unexpected reception.
First, Of this number will be all those who leave the world relying upon their own righteousness.
Christ has taught us abundantly and absolutely that his righteousness is the only foundation of our acceptance. Hence he is styled, "The Lord, our righteousness," and our salvation. "Mine eyes," said Simeon, when he took him up in his
arms and blessed him, "have seen thy salvation." Hence also he is called "the hope of glory" to mankind, i. e. the foundation upon which evangelical hopes of future glory may be safely built. Hence also God says, "Blessed is the man "who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." Hence, on the contrary, he says, "Woe unto them that are "wise," i. e. righteous," in their own eyes." Hence also he says, "Cursed be the sinner who trusteth in man." And again, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life, "but he that believeth not, shall be damned."
Still there are many persons who rely either wholly or partially on their own righteousness for salvation, and not on his: In many respects these persons differ from each other greatly, in this their character is exactly the same. If they go out of the world in the possession of this character, they will hereafter be united in the ruin of their hopes.
Of this number are all those persons who place their reliance on external religious services. Confidence in the external services of religion has probably existed in every generation of men, and especially at those periods in which religion has been peculiarly corrupted. These plainly constituted the whole religion of the Pharisees. But our Saviour says to his disciples, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the "Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the king"dom of heaven." These services were also in an eminent degree the religion of the Jews in the time of Isaiah. "To "what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? "saith the Lord. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is 66 an abomination unto me, The new moons and Sabbaths, "and the calling of assemblies I cannot away with. When yo "spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you; "yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear." But notwithstanding these decisive declarations, not a small number of persons through every succeeding generation, have placed their hopes of final acceptance on the same services.
He that believeth, and he only, shall be saved. Whatever may be intended by that faith which is the means of our justification, and therefore of our title to eternal life, it is certain
that it can be nothing external. Faith, whatever else it may be, has its seat in the soul, and cannot possibly be an exercise of the body. How valuable soever, then, these services may be, their value cannot exist in this, that they constitute, either wholly or partially, the foundation of acceptance with God. Of course every man who has placed his reliance on his prayers, his praises, his communion at the table of Christ, the dedication of himself or his children to God in baptism, his assumption of the Christian covenant, his confirmation, his absolution, or his exact attendance on the established or occasional worship of God, will find all these of no more use or avail than a pilgrimage to Mecca, or an ablution in the Nile or the Ganges. When they are recited in the final account, however numerous, exact, and uniform they may have been, he will learn, what he ought now to know, that they are a smoke in the nostrils of Jehovah, an abomination which he cannot away with.
The multiplication of such services, and extreme exactness in performing them, united with many scruples and fears concerning things of an indifferent, and therefore ordinarily of a lawful, nature, constitute the character of those who are styled superstitious.
The difference between the superstitious man and the external Christian lies not in the kind, but in the degree. Between the observances of superstition and the faith, repentance, and holiness of the Gospel, the distance is infinite, there being nothing in the former which bears a remote resemblance to the latter. To the latter God has promised salvation, to the former he has promised nothing. In the day of trial, therefore, the superstitious man will find that all his hopes are built upon the sand.
Of the same number is the enthusiast.
Enthusiasm is a reliance for religious knowledge, dispositions, and duties on immediate and supernatural communications from God. No such communications exist in fact. Those which are mistaken for them are only the suggestions of a wild and heated imagination. Were they really what they are believed to be, they would contain in themselves nothing which is evangelically good, nothing of the nature of religion, nothing