Noble's 'Appeal': IV. The Last Judgment.:
B. The Spiritual World the Scene of it; as of all former General Judgments.
that branch of our first Proposition which affirms, "That the General Judgment announced in Scripture as to be performed at the Second Coming of the Lord, was not to take place in the natural world" may now, it is hoped, hare been proved to the satisfaction of the reflecting mind; for we have seen, as proposed, "That the circumstances announced in prophecy as being to attend it, are such as cannot be intended to be literally understood, and, some of them, such as are impossible in the nature of things." Other texts also, we have seen, as explicitly affirm the contrary; while Reason has much to offer in support of their testimony. The other part of the Proposition,—"That the last Judgment was to be performed in the spiritual world,"—follows then of course, as also has been seen. This, however, may be confirmed by other considerations.
What then if it should be true, that although the General Judgment predicted in the New Testament is properly called the Last Judgment, because it is the last General Judgment ever to be per formed on the natives of this earth, it is not the first such judgment ever accomplished (as, indeed, its very name seems to imply); but, on the contrary, two or three general judgments have taken place before ? If the Last Judgment was not to be performed at the end of the world, but, as shown above, at the end of the age; and if "the age," as shown also, denotes the whole duration of a certain order of things as regards the dispensations of God to man; then, as it is certain that there have been, since the beginning of the world, several such ages and dispensations, it will be reasonable to conclude, that the end of each of the former of them, like the end of the last, was attended with a General Judgment upon those who lived under it. Accordingly, the Scripture clearly teaches, how much soever its testimony upon this subject may generally have been overlooked, that such is the fact. As it prophetically announces that the last age and dispensation ever to come to its end or consummation would then be attended with a General Judgment, so does it historically record, that each of the former of such ages and dispensations was attended at its end by a General Judgment. Its testimony to this effect, therefore, we will briefly notice.
That, from the beginning of the world, the specific connexion of its inhabitants with their Divine Parent has been regulated by four different dispensations, and they have been bound to him by four distinct covenants, the human subjects of which may be regarded as composing four general churches, is universally known. Adam and his posterity to the flood, lived under one dispensation: God then "established his covenant with Noah and his seed after him:"* another covenant was made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendants,+ of which the laws were given by Moses: and finally, "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." # It is also known, that the three first of these dispensations were entirely corrupted, and the covenants broken, by those to whom they were given, among whom the churches thus formed in consequence perished: and that the case would be the same with the fourth dispensation and covenant, is predicted through a great part of the Apocalypse, and by the Lord in person in Matt. xxiv., and, summarily, in that question of his which supposes a negative answer, "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?" $
The language in which the judgment upon the three former of these churches is described, being of the same symbolic kind as that in which the judgment upon the last is predicted, it has not been generally understood to relate to any transaction in the spiritual world, but has been confined to the calamities with which, in the natural world, the apostate members of those churches were at length overtaken; and yet, that the descriptions refer to judgments in the spiritual world also, may easily be inferred. Thus, as has already been seen, the passing away of heaven and earth, and convulsions in the heavenly bodies equivalent thereto, are constantly predicated in reference to the Last Judgment, and to the coming of the Lord for its performance: and these are predicated, not only in reference to the judgment which the Christian world is still expecting, but to the judgments on each of the former churches. The Apostle Peter, for Instance, informs us, that the same sort of catastrophe as is described, by the prophets under the figure of the conflagration of heaven and earth, is described by Moses under the figure of a flood: he says, "By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth, standing out of the water, and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed by water, perished: 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." || We find then, that as the destruction of heaven and earth by fire is one of the forms by which the Last General Judgment is described,
* Gen. ix. 9. + Gen. xvii. 7, 19. # John i. 18. $ Luke xviii. 8. || 2 Peter iii. 5, 6, 7.
so the destruction of the world that then was hy a flood is the form by which the General Judgment upon the Adamic Church is described if then the Last General Judgment was not to consist solely, nor at all, in the conflagration of the visible universe, but in a judgment upon those who had passed out of the natural into the spiritual world, the judgment upon the members of the Adamic Church did not consist solely, and probably not at all, * in a flood of material waters, but in a judgment upon those who had passed from the material into the spiritual world.
The Noetic Church did not long continue as one: "in the days of Peleg was the earth divided;"+ and, being scattered at Babel, they no longer continued to be "of one language and of one speech, "$— that is, they split into different forms of worship and doctrine; and all the ancient nations mentioned in the Old Testament were various branches of this church. Hence it does not appear that there was any General Judgment upon the whole together, till the Lord came into the world, and performed the judgment on the Jewish Church; which itself sprung out of the Noetic Church, and most of the constitutions of which, as is well known, were selected from those which bad previously been in use; but specific judgments upon various branches of it are mentioned in several parts of the Old Testament. Thus Sodom was destroyed by fire from heaven; and under this fact, performed in the natural world, was doubtless represented a judgment in the spiritual world, upon all of the same character who had passed into that world by death.
But, not to dwell upon the judgments of those more ancient churches; it will be sufficient for our present argument if it can be shown, that the Lord himself performed a Judgment, while in the world, of the same nature as the Last Judgment, which he then also prophetically declared that he would, at his Second Coming, accomplish. To such a judgment, many of the prophets of the Old Testament clearly refer. Their predictions respecting the Coming of the Lord into the world, are frequently connected with the announcement of a judgment then to be performed by him. They even represent the execution of such a judgment as inseparable from that work of redemption which all acknowledge that he came to accomplish; for without the removal thereby of evil spirits from the immediate influence which they then exercised upon the world, there could have been no salvation for the human race. Not to make an important assertion without proving it, I offer the following as a few samples of the predictions, in the Old Testament, of a judgment to he performed by the Lord at his advent in the flesh.
* That the first eleven chapters of Genesis do not contain an exact detail of natural events, but a history of the spiritual state of mankind in those ages, couched in the language of allegory, being the only style in use among the people whose history it describes; and that literally true history begins with the account of Abraham; may be seen fully established in "The Plenary Inspiration," &c., pp. 555—576.
+ Gen. x. 25. # Gen. ix. 1.
To what else can these words of Isaiah he worthily referred ? "Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger." * Now though this, in its literal sense, refers to the destruction of Babylon, who can doubt that it refers also to the destruction, at the judgment to he performed by the Lord at his coming into the world, of those who are spiritually meant by Babylon throughout the Word of God,—that is, of those who profane religion by applying its sanctities to the purpose of self-exaltation? Hence it is said of Babylon personified under the name of Lucifer, in the next chapter, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning I how art thou cast down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" +—words which, as the whole context shows, are not spoken of any casting down of Lucifer then past, but of an event then to come, and of which the ruin of the Babylonian empire, which also did not happen till two hundred years after the delivery of this prophecy, was a type.—"Behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense: he will come and save you." # Here the judgment to be performed by the Lord when in the world is spoken of, as necessary to the salvation of the human race.—"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath sent me to preach good tidings unto the meek, &c., to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God." $ In these words, the day of salvation is announced as accompanied by the day of judgment: and of this prophecy the Lord himself said while in the world, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."||—"For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation to
* Isa. xiii. 9—13. + Ch. xiv. 12. # Ch. xxxv. 4. $ Ch. lii. 1, 2. || Luke iv. 21.
me, and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury; and I will bring down their strength to the earth."* Here again is the salvation to be wrought by the Lord's coming into the world connected with a judgment to be performed at the same time.—"Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he-goats."+ This whole chapter treats of the salvation to be procured by the Lord when he should appear in the world in the character of the good shepherd; and the judgment then to be performed is in these words briefly described under the same image of separating between the sheep and the goats, as is so beautifully amplified in the description of the Last Judgment in Matt. xxv.—"Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." # Here is a plain prediction of a General Judgment, described with the symbolic accompaniment of the burning of the earth, as immediately to precede the establishment of the Christian religion.—"I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."$ Here is a description of the day of judgment with the usual adjuncts; and this prophecy is declared by Peter (Acts ii. 16) to have been at that time fulfilled. "But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth ? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap.—And I will come near to you to judgment.—For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it leave them neither root nor branch. Behold I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."||—Here is a sufficiently plain announcement of a day of judgment, in predictions applied by the evangelists, and by the Lord Jesus Christ, to himself while in the world.—"For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.— Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne: his lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw and trembled: the hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole
* Ch lxiii. 4, 5, 6. + Ezek. xxxiv. 17. # Zeph, iii. 8. $ Joel ii. 30, 31. || Mal. iii. 2—5; iv. 1—5.
earth: the heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.—For he coineth to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity."* A work of judgment is here clearly announced, and depicted with abundance of the appropriate figures; and these three Psalms plainly treat of the Lord's coming into the world, and of the salvation which, by his works of judgment, he would procure for mankind.
Many similar passages might be adduced; but these may suffice to show, that, according to the prophecies of the Old Testament, the advent of the Lord in the flesh was to be accompanied with the performance of a General Judgment. But do we find, in the New Testament, any plain intimation that such a judgment was performed accordingly ? This question may be most decidedly answered in the affirmative. The New Testament repeatedly notices, as just remarked, the fulfilment of predictions in which the coming of the Lord to redeem mankind is connected with the execution of a judgment: and it presents, besides, other independent testimonies to the same truth. Thus when John the Baptist announces that he was the forerunner of one who was greater than himself, he speaks also of him whom he preceded as coming in the character of a judge: "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."+ What plainer description of a General Judgment can there be than this ? It is in fact described under nearly the same images as the Lord uses, in several of his parables, for delineating the Last Judgment generally looked for by Christians. Thus, he concludes the parable of the wheat and the tares with this declaration: "In the time of the harvest, I will say unto the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." # This the Divine Speaker himself explains to be a figurative description of the Last Judgment still generally expected: "The good seed," he says, "are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one:—the harvest is the consummation of the age:—as therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be at the consummation of the age. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth
* Psalm xcvi. 13; xcvii. 2—6; xcviii. 9. + Matt. iii. 11, 12. # Ch. xiii 80.
as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." * Now the only difference between this parable and the saying above quoted of John, is, that, in the parable, the wicked are compared to tares, and by the Baptist to chaff: in other respects, the figures used are the same. In both, the good are compared to wheat: in both, the taking of the good into heaven is called the gathering of the wheat into the Lord's garner or barn: in both, the casting of the wicked into hell is called burning the chaff, or tares, with fire. Jesus says that this work should be performed at the consummation of the age, or at the close of the dispensation of divine things then commencing: accordingly, all allow that the parable relates to the Last Judgment: but John says that Jesus, of whom he was speaking, had his fan in his hand, to make the requisite separation, then: Is it not then demonstrably evident, that such a judgment as the Scripture predicts at what is commonly called the end of the world, or at the consummation of the dispensation then commencing, is affirmed by the Scripture to have been actually wrought while the Lord was in the world;—that time being also the end of the world, or the consummation of the age, to the Jewish Church, and to the whole remains of the Noetic Church likewise ? If the Scripture affirms that a General Judgment was to be performed by the Lord at his second coming in the spirit, it affirms with equal positiveness, that a General Judgment was performed at his first coming in the flesh. The one rests upon the same authority as the other, and if we deny one we must deny both.
But not only does John the Baptist announce, that He before whom he was sent was coming to perform a work of judgment; but the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly declares the same thing: "The Father," saith he, "judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:—And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." + Is this supposed only to mean, that a sort of judgment was then to be passed upon the Jews in this world, the destruction of whom, as a nation, did speedily follow ? This interpretation of the words is guarded against by its being added, "Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." # These words relate, not to any resurrection of the body, $ but to certain operations, attendant upon the judgment, in the spiritual world, which he was then about to perform, while, as to his natural body, he was yet in the natural world: hence he speaks of it as being just about to take place—"the hour is coming;"—and to prevent any from imagining, nevertheless,
* Ver. 38—43. + John v.. 22—27. # Ver. 28, 29. $ As has been shown above, pp. 45—47.
that it was a distant judgment of which, he was speaking, he makes the declaration more explicit still two or three verses previously; for he there says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God." * Plainly enough, then, the whole passage relates to a judgment he was then about performing: and it is here described, in such figures as are often used when this subject is treated of, as a resurrection of the good to life eternal, and of the wicked to damnation.+
But if we were to dwell particularly on all the passages in which the Lord himself speaks of the judgment which he was engaged in performing, in the spiritual world, at the same time that, as to his natural humanity, he appeared in the world of nature, this discussion would be protracted to a great length: I will therefore only mention, very briefly, one or two more. We find him, then, in another place, saying, "For judgment am I come into this world." # And again, most explicitly, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." $ It is acknowledged by all, that by the prince of this world is in Scripture meant the devil. Now, it is very remarkable, that a casting out of Satan is elsewhere spoken of when the subject is respecting a General Judgment. Thus, in reference to this very judgment performed by the Lord while in the world, the Prophet speaks of the falling of Lucifer from heaven. || To the same effect, in reference to the Last Judgment generally believed to be yet future, John the Revelator declares, that he saw a great dragon cast out of heaven; and he explains this dragon to be that old serpent, called the devil and Satan. @ Just in the same manner the Lord says in Luke, when the disciples returned and told him that even the devils were subject unto them through his name, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." ** Evidently then, the circumstance described as the falling of Satan from heaven, is a thing essentially belonging to the performance of a General Judgment. Then put these facts together. John the Revelator says that such an occurrence would take place at the last judgment of all: Isaiah announced that it would take place at the judgment to be performed by the Lord while in the world: and Jesus himself twice declares, that it did then actually happen: how then is it possible to retain any doubt, that the Lord Jesus Christ was actually engaged in performing a judgment in the spiritual world, while, as to his assumed human, nature, he was personally present in this ?
* Ver. 25. + See this view of the above texts fully substantiated in my "Strictures," Ac., Int. Repository for Nov. 1835, pp. 658—663. # Ch. ix. 39. $ Ch. xii. 31. || Isa. xiv. 12. See above, p. 136. @ Rev. xii. 9. ** Luke x. 18.
Both parts—the latter as well as the former,—of our first proposition, may now, I trust, appear sufficiently established;—namely, That the General Judgment announced in Scripture as to be performed at the Second Coming of the Lord, was not to take place in the natural world, as commonly supposed, but in the spiritual. If the Last Judgment announced in the New Testament be not the only General Judgment ever accomplished on the natives of this earth, but on the contrary, there have been two or three such before; then, doubtless, this would be executed in the same manner as those. It is certain that, at former judgments, particularly at the most indisputable of them, that performed by the Lord while in the world, there was no gathering together, in this world, of all who had previously died, no appearing of the Judge in the clouds, and no destruction of the globe and of the visible universe: consequently, neither were such events to occur at the Last Judgment of all. All former General Judgments were executed in the spiritual world: consequently, that world must be the scene of the Last Judgment also.