Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Peter 3:10 - 3:14

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Peter 3:10 - 3:14


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DISCOURSE: 2428

THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

2Pe_3:10-14. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which 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 burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless [Note: This was preached on occasion of the horrible conspiracy (called “The Cato-Street Conspiracy,” in February, 1820,) against his Majesty’s Ministers; the meditated destruction of whom, by the explosion of a grenade of 14lbs. weight, afforded very abundant and appropriate matter as introductory to this Discourse.].

* * * * * * *

BUT have we never contemplated our own situation? Have we never considered that the solemnities of the judgment day are now in actual preparation; and that, not our own individual dwelling, or friends only, will be affected by them, but the whole universe? Our minds are at this time justly, and almost exclusively, engrossed with the consideration of this tremendous plot, which God, in mercy to this whole nation, has defeated. And I hope rather to strengthen, than efface, those impressions, by leading you to contemplate,

I.       The events predicted in our text—

These are widely different indeed from each other; but they are inseparably connected, and infallibly simultaneous. Let us consider,

1.       The dissolution of this present world—

[Once the world and every thing in it, with the exception of that small portion contained in the ark, was destroyed by water: and there is a time coming when the whole of it without exception will be destroyed by fire. Of the latter there will be no more expectation at the time, than there was of the former. In the days of Noah they were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, as securely as at any former period of the world: and would not believe that they were in any danger, till, on the entrance of Noah into the ark, the flood came and destroyed them all. So, at the last day, the inhabitants of this globe will be as little occupied with the thoughts of judgment, as we are at this moment. Our Lord tells us, that “he will come as a thief in the night;” that, without any previous warning, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth, with every thing in it, shall be burnt up.”

Conceive now the feelings of men at the very first moment that this tremendous and irresistible combustion shall burst forth. Some faint idea may be entertained, if only you suppose that the plot, which God in his mercy has defeated, had been accomplished. Conceive the company that was assembled, either as partaking of the friendly repast, or as deliberating on the affairs of state, and consulting with each other for the welfare of the nation: conceive of them as beholding the desolating instrument cast in among them, and ready in a few moments to execute its destined office: with what terror would they be filled ! and, if a moment were allowed for an ejaculatory petition, with what ardour would they implore mercy for their souls! Thus will it be in every quarter of the globe. All, except the remnant, who, in the habit of their minds, have been dying daily, will be ready to “call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and to cover them from the wrath of the Lamb,” whose judgment they dread.

But to that happy remnant another scene will open: for to them shall be revealed,]

2.       The establishment of a new and better state—

[They, “according to God’s promise, are even now looking for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness:” and then shall that new state open to their view. In the bold and figurative language of prophecy, the Millennial state is sometimes described under these terms [Note: Isa_65:17; Isa_66:22.] — — — and well it may be; since, when compared with the present state of things, wherein iniquity so awfully abounds, it will be indeed “a new creation.” But the period here spoken of is contemporaneous with the final judgment; and, consequently, must refer to heaven itself, where neither sin nor sorrow can ever dwell. That is the period of which St. John speaks, when he says, “I saw a new heaven, and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth [Note: Rev_21:1; Rev_21:27.].”

Contemplate the feelings of the godly at the moment that this glory bursts upon them. In vain shall we look for any thing wherewith to compare it upon earth. Alas! the visions of the godly are not so bright; nor do their sublimest raptures make so deep an impression as do the terrors which are inspired by sudden and appalling danger. But, as contrasted with the feelings of the ungodly, we may conceive in some little measure their bliss. Let us picture to ourselves the Rich Man and Lazarus, entering at the same moment into the eternal world, the one beholding the abyss of hell ready to swallow him up, and the other fixing his eyes upon his God and Saviour, whose glory and felicity he is about to share. But]

We shall contemplate these things to more advantage, if we view them in connexion with,

II.      The effect which the prospect of those events should produce upon us—

This the Apostle sets forth,

1.       In a way of candid appeal—

[We all look for these events; nor do any of us doubt but that they will come in due season. Let me then ask of all who are here present, “What manner of persons ought ye to be?” Should you not be waiting for that period “in all holy conversation and godliness?” Should you not be “looking for it, and hasting unto it” with a holy eagerness, to meet “your God at his coming?” As for the things of this life, they should be as nothing in our eyes. Being so soon to part with them all, we should sit loose to them; as the Apostle says; “They who have wives should be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away [Note: 1Co_7:29-31.].” I well know, that, when such a state of mind is recommended by us, we appear to require more than is necessary. But I will venture to appeal to every considerate man, whether this be not the conversation that becomes us, when our God is coming to judgment; and when he has told us that “he will come as a thief in the night?” Would it not be madness to be dreaming of “peace and safety, till sudden and everlasting destruction come upon us [Note: 1Th_5:2-3.]?” The wise virgins were not wise in this respect, that, like the foolish virgins, they slumbered and slept. Happily for them, they had oil in their vessels with their lamps; or else, with the foolish virgins, they also would have been excluded from the nuptial feast. The true frame for all of us to be in, is that of ardent and affectionate expectation; “our loins being girt, and our lamps trimmed,” and our whole souls as “those who wait for the coming of their Lord.” Maintaining this frame, you may rest assured, that “the Lord Jesus Christ will confirm you to the end [Note: 1Co_1:7-8.],” and present you faultless before the presence of his Father’s glory with exceeding joy [Note: Jude, ver. 24.].”]

2.       In a way of affectionate entreaty—

[“Beloved” brethren, “seeing that ye look for such things, I beseech you be diligent that ye may be found of God in peace, without spot and blameless.” Think, if that day should come upon you unprepared; and, instead of going forth to meet a loving Saviour, you should behold only an angry and avenging Judge; how terrible will this be! Lose not an hour then; but be diligent in seeking peace with God through the Son of his love. It is the blood of Christ, and that only, which can effect your reconciliation with God: and therefore lose not a moment in sprinkling it upon your souls; yea, let your holiest actions, as well as your more acknowledged sins, be purged with it from their defilement. Endeavour, too, to preserve a “spotless and blameless” conduct throughout your whole lives, being “sincere and without offence until the day of Christ.” Let no allowed sin be found in you: but so “cleanse yourselves from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, that you may perfect holiness in the fear of God,” and be acknowledged by him as “Israelites indeed, in whom there was no guile.” This will doubtless require “diligence:” but surely the occasion justly deserves all the care and labour you can bestow upon it. Can you doubt whether those, whose lives have been lately in such imminent peril, have taken precautions against any future surprise? Would they not be justly blamed, if they were to be as heedless of danger, as they were before they knew of the conspiracy that was formed against them? Be ye then on your guard. They, whatever attempts were made against them, might escape: but no possibility of escape remains for you. “Your God will come, even as a thief in the night;” and therefore I entreat you all to be diligent, that, “whether he come in the evening, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning [Note: Mar_13:32-37. The particular instructions in this passage, “Take ye heed, watch, and pray,” may here be dwelt upon to advantage.],” “you may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless” — — —

I only add, “Account the long-suffering of God to be salvation [Note: ver. 15.].” You have long been spared; and God is still forbearing to call you to your great account. “Beloved brethren,” “despise not this goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering of your God; but let them lead you to repentance [Note: Rom_2:4.].” Though the general judgment should be long deferred, your own particular doom will be fixed the very instant that you shall be summoned into the eternal world. Do not then delay till it be too late; but “to-day, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts,” lest God cut you off in your sins, and “swear in his wrath that you shall never enter into his rest.”]