July 13th On the particular judgement after death
Consider first, that besides the general judgment that shall be at the end of the world, there is a particular judgment that passes upon the soul presently after death, according to that of the apostle, (speaking of the time when we are discharged from the body,) 1 Cor. v. 10. ‘We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.’ Thus we see, in the case of Dives and Lazarus, Luke xvi., that their doom was immediately decided after death, and the one sentenced to the torments of hell the other carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom. See then, my soul, what thou art to look for as soon as thou art parted from the body; thou must be presented before the judgment-seat of Christ, in order to give an account of thy whole life, even of all that thou hast thought, said, or done, during thy abode in the body, and to receive sentence accordingly for life or death eternal, and the sentence that shall pass then shall be ratified in the general judgment at the last day. O reflect then, how thy accounts stand at present with thy God. O what couldst thou be able to say for thyself if this night thou shouldst be cited at the bar? It may perhaps be thy case, for the judge has long ago declared that he will come when thou least expectest him – take care then to be always ready.
Consider 2ndly, the qualities of this judge by who we are to be tried after death. He is infinitely holy, and therefore cannot endure iniquity. He is infinitely wise, and therefore cannot be deceived; his all-seeing eye is ever upon all our ways; all the thoughts and motions of our hearts are naked and open to his sight; they are all recorded on his book; not one of them all can escape his notice or memory. He is also infinitely powerful, and therefore there is no resisting or withstanding his judgment; no dignity, no authority, no strength, no subtilty, no fraud, no learning or wit can be available at his tribunal; he made both great and little – king and beggar are equally his subjects – and there is no respect of persons with him, nor appeal from him. In fine, he is infinitely just, and therefore ‘will render to every man’ at that time ‘according to his works’. No favour is to be expected then for sins unrepented of. The time of merit and of acceptable repentance is now at an end. Ah! Christians, let us think well on these truths whilst it is our day in which mercy reigns; let us clear up all our accounts while we have time; let us wash away our sins now with penitential tears; let us store up to ourselves immortal treasures before the night overtakes us. All that we can then do will come too late.
Consider 3rdly, some other circumstances of this great trial, particularly the law by which we are to be tried; the accusers and witnesses that shall appear against us, and the nature of the sentence that shall be pronounced after the hearing of the whole cause. The law by which we shall be tried shall be the Commandment of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; by this law, by these heavenly rules we must stand or fall; these shall acquit us, or condemn us for eternity. O let us then study them well, and in practice conform our whole lives to them. Our accusers shall be the devils, and the unhappy accomplices of our crimes, more especially such as we have drawn into sin, the blood of whose souls shall cry to heaven for vengeance against us. The witnesses shall be our own guilty conscience. And the sentence shall be an unchangeable, irrevocable eternal doom, either to heaven or hell. O let us remember these things, and we shall never sin.
Conclude to let thy whole life henceforward be a preparation for this great trial, and thou shalt not fail of a happy issue.