July 17th On the terrors of the Last Day
Consider first, that nothing can be conceived more terrible than the prospect the Scripture gives us of the last accounting day, with all the prodigies that shall go before it. The sun shall be darkened, the moon red as blood; the stars without light, and seeming to fall from the firmament; the earth shall be shaken with violent earthquakes; the sea swelling and roaring with unusual tempests; the elements all in confusion, and whole nature in disorder. ‘The great day of the Lord is near,’ said the prophet, (Sophon. i. 14, 15,) ‘it is near and exceeding swift:’ ‘That day is a day of wrath, a day of tribulation and distress, a day of calamity and misery, a day of darkness and obscurity, a day of clouds and whirlwinds,’ &c. But oh! what shall then be the thoughts of unhappy sinners who shall see themselves threatened with all these frightful signs of the divine indignation? Alas! they shall presently ‘wither away,’ according to the expression of the Gospel, (Luke xxi. 26,) ‘for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world;’ and through the apprehension of that dismal tragedy, which shall suddenly follow after these frightful preludes.
Consider 2ndly, that these terrors shall chiefly affect the wicked, against whom they are all levelled: so that ‘they shall begin to say to the mountains, fall upon us; and to the hills, cover us,’ (Luke xxiii.30,) ‘and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?’ Apoc. vi. 16, 17. But as for the true servants of God – who are his friends and children – when these things shall begin to come to pass, they are told, (Luke xxi. 28,) ‘to look up and to lift up their heads, because their redemption is at hand.’ and surely the more they love God, and take to heart the interest of the glory of Christ, and the coming of his everlasting kingdom; the more will they rejoice at the approaches of that day that shall be so glorious to him, and so happy for all his elect. The day in which he shall be publicly acknowledged by the whole universe for the great lord and judge of all; the day in which he shall finally triumph over all his enemies, and make all his servants sharers in his triumph and glory; the day in which he shall put an end to the usurpation of Satan and to the reign of sin and death, and send them all to their proper place, never to come out any more; the day in which he shall abolish for ever the corruption of the flesh, together with the old man, and all the errors and lying fooleries of a deluded and a deluding world, and shall establish the eternal reign of incorruption, justice, and truth. In fine, the day in which he shall wonderfully renew both heaven and earth, and bring all his servants into the never-ending joy of their Lord. O when shall that happy day come!
Consider 3rdly, that after all those frightful symptoms above rehearse, of the last agony and final expiring of this sinful world, a fire shall come raging like a torrent that shall at once involve all the kingdoms of the earth in devouring flames, sweeping off and consuming all it shall find upon the whole face of the globe, and reducing all to smoke and ashes. Where then, O ye worldlings, will be all those painted toys you are now so found of? Where will be your gardens and palaces? Where your gold and silver, your costly plate and jewels, your pompous equipages, and whatever else you seem to possess in this dream of your mortal life. Alas! all these things shall end in smoke, and when you wake you shall ‘find nothing in your hands,’ Ps. lxxv. ‘O that men would be wise, and would understand, and would provide for their last end!’ Deut. xxxii. 29. Do thou at least, O my soul, learn to be wise by the consideration of this last fire, that shall so suddenly put an end to all these worldly bubbles; and take thou care to provide for thyself by laying up thy treasure in heaven, where alone it shall be out of the reach of this fiery deluge.
Conclude to be always afraid of sin; to fly and abhor it above all evil, and thou shalt have nothing to fear at the last day.