Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Peter 3:7 - 3:7

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 2 Peter 3:7 - 3:7


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THE DAY OF JUDGMENT

2Pe_3:7. The day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

A FUTURE state of rewards and punishments is, in theory, universally acknowledged; but, in practice, it is grievously forgotten, and, by not a few, is held in derision. Because God delays to execute his threatenings against ungodly men, they imagine that he never will execute them. Just as in the days of Noah, because the menaced deluge was suspended for one hundred and twenty years, it was to multitudes an object of scorn; so now the idea of an universal conflagration, when “the heavens and the earth 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,” is deemed a fable; and the destruction which will then come upon the whole ungodly world is disregarded, as the dream of a fanatical or superstitious mind. The day of judgment, it is hoped, will prove alike favourable to all; and no great difference be put between the righteous and the wicked. But the name given to that day deserves particular attention: and I beg you to attend to it, with the humility that becomes you, whilst I open to you,

I.       The terms by which the day of judgment is here designated—

It is called “The day of the perdition of ungodly men.” Let us consider,

1.       Why it is so called—

[As, at that period, rewards and punishments will be alike distributed, one would suppose that that day might with equal propriety be called “the day of the salvation of godly men.” But this designation would by no means be so proper as that which is given to it in my text. For, though the salvation of the godly will be then completed, it will not then be begun: it is begun in this world: the saints, as soon as they believe in Christ, “receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls [Note: 1Pe_1:8-9.]:” nor is there any one blessing which they shall ever enjoy in heaven, but is now conferred upon them through the medium of faith; insomuch, that they are represented by St. Paul as already “sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [Note: Eph_2:6.].” Their bodies will indeed be then partakers with their souls in the felicity of heaven; but, as far as their souls are concerned, they have already, even whilst here upon earth, an earnest and foretaste of their heavenly inheritance. The ungodly, on the other hand, have to wait for their award till the day of judgment. I say not, indeed, but that God does sometimes make them to feel a foretaste of his wrath even here; but, generally speaking, they are left to pass their time here under a fearful delusion, by which they pacify their consciences, and lull themselves asleep in their sins. They are under condemnation now, as much as ever they will be: as it is said, “He that believeth not, is condemned already, because he believeth not in the name of the only-begotten Son of God [Note: Joh_3:18.]:” but the day of execution is that which is specified in my text: and so St. Jude expressly calls it; “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodlily committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him [Note: Jude, ver. 14, 15.].” And the great use of the judgment will be, to display before the whole assembled universe the justice of God in inflicting on the wicked this punishment, whilst so different a portion is given to the righteous: as St. Paul has said; “It is the day of wrath, and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God [Note: Rom_2:5.].” Hence there is a peculiar propriety in that name, by which the day of judgment is designated, in my text, “The day of the perdition of ungodly men.”]

2.       That it will so prove—

[Doubtless, at the time of our death, a suitable award is made to every man: but at the day of judgment there will be a public assignment of this doom to every individual of mankind, attended with solemnities which will greatly augment the keenness of their perceptions; and the bodies of all will be made partakers of the sentence that shall be accorded to their souls. In that day every child of man, from the very beginning to the end of time, will be called forth, and summoned to appear before their God. “The sea will give up the dead which were in it; and death and hell will deliver up the dead which were in them: and all will be judged according to their works: and whosoever is not found written in the book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire [Note: Rev_20:13-15.].” Then will be a separation between the righteous and the wicked, even as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and then shall the wicked go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal [Note: Mat_25:46.].” Yes, verily, this separation shall take place; for “the wicked,” whatever they may now imagine, “shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [Note: Psa_1:5.].”]

And now let me endeavour to place before you,

II.      The considerations which such a view of the judgment should suggest to our minds—

And surely it should lead us,

1.       To inquire into our own real character—

[At that day, the Judge will not determine according to our partial views, but according to his own most righteous law: and, whatever may have been the line chosen by ourselves, he will bring our conduct to that infallible test, and determine our doom in perfect accordance with is.

Now, in that day, the ungodly, of every class, will be sentenced to perdition. St. Paul appeals to us respecting this: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” And then he guards us against that self-deception to which we are so prone; “Be not deceived:” and then, enumerating a sad catalogue of persons addicted to wickedness, as fornicators, adulterers, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners, he declares that no one of them “shall ever inherit the kingdom of God [Note: 1Co_6:9-10.].” To these may be added “the impenitent” and “unbelieving, as sure to take their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone [Note: Luk_13:3; Luk_13:5. Rev_21:8.].” Nor must we omit the unregenerate, even though their lives may have been as exemplary as that of Nicodemus himself: for, “except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [Note: Joh_3:3; Joh_3:5.].” Care, too, must be taken not to deceive ourselves in relation to our own experience: for there is much hypocrisy in the human heart; and “a hypocrite, even though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and reach unto the clouds, will be detected by God, and will perish for ever, like his own dung;” so that his former admirers, with a mixture of surprise and grief, will say, “Where is he [Note: Job_20:4-7.]?” The apostate too, however eminent his profession may have been, will share the same fate. The man who turns back, “turns back to inevitable and everlasting perdition [Note: Heb_10:39.];” and plunges himself into deeper misery than he would ever have experienced if he had never known the way of righteousness at all [Note: 2Pe_2:20-21.]. Seeing, then, that so many must perish, is it not of vast importance that we ascertain our true character, in order that we may know what doom we are to expect? Yes, beloved, to all of you I would most affectionately say, “Judge yourselves, that ye be not judged of the Lord.”]

2.       To realize in our minds the terrors of that day—

[St. Paul, “knowing the terrors of the Lord, persuaded men [Note: 2Co_5:11.].” And we, too, should meditate upon them, in order to stimulate our souls to a holy activity in the ways of God. Consider how many millions of our fellow-creatures will in that day “call upon the rocks to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them from the wrath of that Lamb,” whom here they neglected and despised [Note: Rev_6:15-17.]! What “fearfulness, too, will surprise the hypocrites,” who indulged the vain conceit that their specious conduct would find a happier issue! and with what bitter cries will they exclaim, “Who amongst us can dwell with the devouring fire? Who can dwell with everlasting burnings [Note: Isa_33:14.]?” In vain will they knock at the gate of heaven, crying, “Lord, Lord, open to us;” since they were content with the lamp of outward profession, without the oil of true grace in their hearts [Note: Mat_25:3; Mat_25:11-12.]. Some will venture even to expostulate with God, as though they had been hardly treated: “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But they will be repelled with that indignant reproof, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye who wrought iniquity [Note: Mat_7:22-23.].” O, the millions, the countless millions, that will perish in that day; all of them “drinking of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever: and they will have no rest day nor night [Note: Rev_14:10-11.]! Who can reflect on this, and not determine, through grace, to shun so awful a doom, and to make “the long-suffering of God the means and prelude of everlasting salvation [Note: ver. 15.]?”]

3.       To improve to the uttermost the advantages we now enjoy—

[This is the day of grace; “this is the day of salvation,” to every soul that desires to be saved [Note: 2Co_6:2.]. Yes, truly, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and live [Note: ver. 9.].” Do but consider this, my brethren: you will never have to cast the blame of your condemnation upon God. If the day of judgment prove the day of perdition to your souls, the fault will be utterly your own. There is no want of sufficiency in Christ to save any who shall come unto God by him. Nor is there in him any want of willingness to save even the chief of sinners. Of those who rejected him in the days of old, and provoked him to abandon them to utter destruction, he complained, “How often would I have gathered you, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” The same may he say of you in the day of judgment. Be diligent, then, in the use of all the appointed means of salvation. Repent of all your sins: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world. Flee to him for refuge: lay hold upon him: hide yourselves under the shadow of his wings: and then, in that awful day, when all who offend and do wickedly shall be cast out, you shall stand before him with great boldness, and “be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless [Note: ver. 14.].”]