4. The righteousness of the church shall be manifested, and all the wickedness of their enemies shall be brought to light. Those saints who had been the objects of hatred, reproach, and contempt in the world, and were reviled and condemned by their persecutors without a cause, shall now be fully vindicated. They shall now appear clothed with the glorious robe of Christ’s righteousness. It shall be most manifest before the world, that Christ’s righteousness is theirs, and they shall as it were gloriously shine forth in it. And then also shall their inherent holiness be made manifest, and all their good works shall be brought to light. The good things which they did in secret shall now be manifested openly. Those holy ones of God, who had been treated as though they were the filth and offscouring of the earth, as though they were not fit to live upon earth, as worse than beasts or devils, shall now, when things shall appear as they are, appear to have been the excellent of the earth. Now God will bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noon day. And now it shall appear who were those wicked persons that were not fit to live, when all the wickedness of the enemies of Christ and his church, their pride, their malice, their cruelty, their hatred of true religion, shall be set forth in all the horrid acts of it, and with all its aggravations in its proper colors.
And now the righteous may be heard before this great Judge, who could not be heard before those unjust judges. Now they shall declare their cause, and shall rise up in judgment against their persecutors, and shall declare how they have been treated by them. And now all the wickedness of the wicked of the whole world shall be brought to light. All their secret wickedness, and their very hearts, shall be opened to view, and as it were turned inside out before the bright light of that great day. And things that have been spoken in the ear, in the closet, and done in the dark, shall be manifested in the light, and proclaimed before all angels and men that are, ever were, or shall be.
5. The sentence shall be pronounced on the righteous and the wicked. Christ, the glorious judge, shall pass that blessed sentence on the church at his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” This sentence shall be pronounced with infinite love, and the voice will be most sweet, causing every heart to flow with joy. Thus Christ shall pronounce a sentence of justification on thousands and millions, who have before had a sentence of condemnation passed upon then by their persecuting rulers. He will thus put honor upon those who have been before despised. He will own them for his, and will as it were put a crown of glory upon their heads before the world. And then shall they shine forth as the sun with Jesus Christ in glory and joy, in the sight of all their enemies.
And then shall the sentence of condemnation be passed on the wicked, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Thus shall the church’s enemies be condemned, in which sentence of condemnation, the holy martyrs, who have suffered from them, shall concur. When the words of this sentence are pronounced, they will strike every heart of those at the left hand with inconceivable horror and amazement. Every syllable of it will be more terrible than a stream of lightning through their hearts. We can conceive but very little of those signs and expressions of horror which there will be upon it, of shrieking, quaking, gnashing of teeth, distortions of countenance, hideous looks, hideous actions, and hideous voices, through all that vast throng.
6. Upon this Christ and all his church of saints, and all the holy angels ministering to them, shall leave this lower world, and ascend up towards the highest heavens. Christ shall ascend in as great glory as he descended, and in some respects greater. For now he shall ascend with his elect church with him, glorified in both body and soul. Christ’s first ascension to heaven soon after his own resurrection was very glorious. But this his second ascension, the ascension of his mystical body, his whole church, shall be far more glorious. The redeemed church shall all ascend with him in a most joyful and triumphant manner. And all their enemies and persecutors, who shall be left behind on the accursed ground to be consumed, shall see the sight and hear their songs.
And thus Christ’s church shall forever leave this accursed world, to go into that more glorious world, the highest heavens, into the paradise of God, the kingdom that was prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
7. When they are gone, this world shall be set on fire, and be turned into a great furnace, wherein all the enemies of Christ and his church shall be tormented forever and ever. This is manifest by 2 Pet. 3:7, “But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” When Christ and his church are ascended to a distance from this world, that miserable company of wicked being left behind, to have their sentence executed upon them here, then, some way or other, this whole lower world shall be set on fire, either by fire from heaven, or by fire breaking out of the bowels of the earth, or both, as it was with the water in the time of the deluge. However, this lower world shall be set all on fire. — How will it strike the wicked with horror, when the fire begins to lay hold upon them, and they find no way to escape it, or flee or hide from it! What shrieking and crying will there be among those many thousands and millions, when they begin to enter into this great furnace, when the whole world shall be a furnace of the fiercest and most raging heat! Insomuch that the Apostle Peter says (2 Pet. 3:10, 12) that “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up,” and that the “heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” And so fierce shall be its heat, that it shall burn the earth into its very center, which seems to be what is meant, Deu. 32:22, “For a fire is kindled in my anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.”
And here shall all the persecutors of the church of God burn in everlasting fire, who have before burnt the saints at the stake, and shall suffer torments far beyond all that their utmost wit and malice could inflict on the saints. And here the bodies of all the wicked shall burn, and be tormented to all eternity, and never be consumed. And the wrath of God shall be poured out on their souls. Though the souls of the wicked in hell do now suffer dreadful punishment, yet their punishment will be so in creased at the day of judgment, that what they suffered before, is, in comparison of it, as an imprisonment to the execution which follows it. And now the devil, that old serpent, shall receive his full punishment. Now shall that which he before trembled for fear of, fully come upon him. This world, which formerly used to be the place of his kingdom, where he set up himself as God, shall now be the place of his complete punishment, and full and everlasting torment.
And in this, one design of the work of redemption which has been mentioned, viz. putting Christ’s enemies under his feet, shall be perfectly accomplished. His enemies shall now be made his footstool, in the fullest degree. Now shall be the most perfect fulfillment of that in Gen. 3:15, “It shall bruise thy head.”
8. At the same time, all the church shall enter with Christ, their glorious Lord, into the highest heaven, and there shall enter on the state of their highest and eternal blessedness and glory. While the lower world, which they have left under their feet, is seized with the fire of God’s vengeance, and flames are kindling upon it, and the wicked are entering into everlasting fire, the whole church shall enter, with their glorious head, and all the holy angels attending, in a joyful manner, into the eternal paradise of God, the palace of the great Jehovah, their heavenly Father. The gates shall open wide for them to enter, and there Christ will bring them into his chambers in the highest sense. He will bring them into his Father’s house, into a world not like that which they have left. Here Christ will bring them, and present them in glory to his Father, saying, “Here am I, and the children which thou hast given me,” as much as to say, “Here am I, with every one of those whom thou gavest me from eternity to take the care of, that they might be redeemed and glorified, and to redeem whom I have done and suffered so much, and to make way for the redemption of whom I have for so many ages been accomplishing such great changes. Here they are now perfectly redeemed in body and soul. I have perfectly delivered them from all the ill fruits of the fall, and perfectly freed them from all their enemies. I have brought them all together into one glorious society, and united them all in myself. I have openly justified them before all angels and men, and here I have brought them all away from that accursed world where they have suffered so much, and have brought them before thy throne. I have done all that for them which thou hast appointed me. I have perfectly cleansed them from all filthiness in my blood, and here they are in perfect holiness, shining with thy perfect image.”
And then the Father will accept of them, and own them all for his children, and will welcome them to the eternal and perfect inheritance and glory of his house, and will on this occasion give more glorious manifestations of his love than ever before, and will admit them to a more full and perfect enjoyment of himself.
And now shall be the marriage of the Lamb in the most perfect sense. The commencement of the glorious times of the church on earth, after the fall of Antichrist, is represented as the marriage of the Lamb. And this shall be the marriage of the Lamb in the highest sense that ever shall be on earth. But after this we read of another marriage of the Lamb, at the close of the day of judgment. After the beloved disciple had given an account of the day of judgment, in the close of Revelation 20, then he proceeds to give an account of what follows, in Rev. 21 and 22. And in Rev. 21:2, he gives an account, that he saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And when Christ shall bring his church into his Father’s house in heaven, after the judgment, he shall bring her thither as his bride, having there presented her, whom he loved, and gave himself for, to himself without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.
The bridegroom and the bride shall then enter into heaven, both having on their wedding robes, attended with all the glorious angels. And there they enter on the feast and joys of their marriage before the Father. They shall then begin an everlasting wedding day. This shall be the day of the gladness of Christ’s heart, wherein he will greatly rejoice, and all the saints shall rejoice with him. Christ shall rejoice over his bride, and the bride shall rejoice in her husband, in the state of her consummate and everlasting blessedness, of which we have a particular description in Revelation 21 and 22.
And now the whole work of redemption is finished. We have seen how it has been carrying on from the fall of man to this time. But now it is complete with respect to all that belongs to it. Now the top stone of the building is laid. In the progress of the discourse on this subject, we have followed the church of God in all the great changes, all her tossings to and fro that she has been subject to, in all the storms and tempests through the many ages of the world, until at length we have seen an end to all these storms. We have seen her enter the harbor, and landed in the highest heavens, in complete and eternal glory, in all her members, soul and body. We have gone through time, and the several ages of it, as the providence of God, and the Word of God, have led us. And now we have issued into eternity after time shall be no more. We have seen all the church’s enemies fixed in endless misery, and have seen the church presented in her perfect redemption before the Father in heaven, there to enjoy this most unspeakable and inconceivable glory and blessedness. And there we leave her to enjoy this glory throughout the never ending ages of eternity.
Now all Christ’s enemies will be perfectly put under his feet, and he shall have his most perfect triumph over sin and Satan, and all his instruments, and death, and hell. Now shall all the promises made to Christ by God the Father before the foundation of the world, the promises of the covenant of redemption, be fully accomplished. And Christ shall now perfectly have obtained the joy that was set before him, for which he undertook those great sufferings which he underwent in his state of humiliation. Now shall all the hopes and expectations of the saints be fulfilled. The state of things that the church was in before, was a progressive and preparatory state. But now she is arrived to her most perfect state of glory. All the glory of the glorious times of the church on earth is but a faint shadow of this her consummate glory in heaven.
And now Christ the great Redeemer shall be most perfectly glorified, and God the Father shall be glorified In him and the Holy Ghost shall be most fully glorified in the perfection of his work on the hearts of all the church. — And now shall that new heaven and new earth, or that renewed state of things, which had been building up ever since Christ’s resurrection, be completely finished, after the very material frame of the old heavens and old earth are destroyed, Rev. 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” — And now will the great Redeemer have perfected everything that appertains to the work of redemption, which he began so soon after the fall of man. And who can conceive of the triumph of those praises which shall be sung in heaven on this great occasion, so much greater than that of the fall of Antichrist, which occasions such praises as we have described in Revelation 19! The beloved disciple John seems to want expressions to describe those praises, and says, “It was as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” But much more inexpressible will those praises be, which will be sung in heaven after the final consummation of all things. Now shall the praises of that vast and lorious multitude be as mighty thunderings indeed!
And now how are all the former things passed away, and what a glorious state are things fixed in to remain to all eternity! — And as Christ, when he first entered upon the work of redemption after the fall of men, had the kingdom committed to him of the Father, and took on himself the administration of the affairs of the universe, to manage all so as to subserve the purposes of this affair. So now, the work being finished, he will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, 1 Cor. 15:24, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.” Not that Christ shall cease to reign or have a kingdom after this; for it is said, Luke 1:33, “He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” So in Dan. 7:14, “That his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” But the meaning is, that Christ shall deliver up that kingdom or dominion which he has over the world, as the Father’s delegate or vicegerent, which the Father committed to him, to be managed in subserviency to this great design of redemption. The end of this commission, or delegation, which he had from the Father, seems to be to subserve this particular design of redemption. And therefore, when that design is fully accomplished, the commission will cease, and Christ will deliver it up to the Father, from whom he received it.