Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

(MAP. X.

vexation of the excluded ones (and the expression is a proverbial one), 'there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Still, be it observed, there is no mention of everlasting torment or eternal perdition; and therefore, so far as these two parables are concerned, the dogma of unending suffering is without feundation.

116

CHAPTER XI.

THE JUDGMENT ON THE NON-CARISTIAN NATIONS

AT CHRIST'S COMING,

CHAT. XI.

FOLLOWING the judgment on the Church, as set forth in the parables of the Virgins and the Talents, comes that upon the non-christian nations, as set forth in the parable of the Sheep and Goats. Both of these judgments take place at the coming of the Lord, but yet with a certain distinction of time and order and character. The former occurs immediately on the appearing of the sign of the Son of Man in heaven ; the sleeping saints being raised and the living saints caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air: so when He comes they come with Him, arrayed in spiritual bodies, fashioned like unto the body of his glory. But this judgment of the sheep and goats evidently takes place after the Lord's descent from heaven and upon

his coming to the earth, as is indicated in the openatt. xxv. 31, 32. ing words, ‘But when the Son of Man shall come

in his glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He take his seat upon the throne of his glory; and before Him shall be gathered all the nations.' In the first judgment the saints themselves are the subjects of it, but in this they are assessors with the Lord, being the 'brethren' to whom the King refers. The criterion, too, of this

CHAP. XI.

judgment is an entirely different one. In the first, the subjects of it are judged as consciously waiting and working for the Lord ; in the other, by the law of human kindness, as kindness unconsciously done to Christ Himself. This alone is, I think, enough to show that, whatever be the exact interpretation of the parable now under consideration, it sets forth a judgment distinct in time and character from that of the two previous ones.

A very common interpretation of this parable has been to regard it as a description of the last general judgment upon all the living and the dearl, at once and together. Those who so explain it consider that by 'all nations' is to be understood all mankind, Christian and nonchristian alike; that these, being gathered before the judgment seat, are divided into two great classes; the good being represented by the sheep, the wicked by the goats; and so that herein is exhibited the final distribution and irrevocable doom of the whole race of man.

But to this interpretation there are, I submit, insuperable objections. In the first place, it involves a confused repetition in relation to the two previous parables. As we have seen, by the virgins and servants can only be meant those professing at least Christianity, who are judged by criteria appropriate to them alone; yet, according to the interpretation now in question, these are again brought in to be judged among the nations gathered before the throne. Surely this is scarcely congruous, and we therefore seem obliged to seek for the subjects of this judgment elsewhere than among Christians.

Secondly, this interpretation

CUAP. XI.

1 Cor. vi. 2

involves an inexplicable inconsistency in the parable itself. For, if all men are included under those represented by the sheep and goats, then who are the ' brethren,' with reference to whom they are judged? These are evidently distinct from those at the time under judgment; for it is in relation to their conduot towards them that the sheep and goats are respectively approved and condemned. And who can these 'my brethren' be, of whom the King speaks, but the wise and faithful ones who had already entered into the joy of the Lord ; who, having gone forth to meet Him, had now come with Him, and were sitting with Him on his throne, according to that saying, "The saints shall judge the world'? Thirdly, the criterion of judgment here applied would be an utterly inadequate one, in relation to all men equally. According to the interpretation now under discussion, Christian and Heathen, Jew and Gentile, are to be alike subjected to one and the same test, namely, the law of kindness to the brethren of Christ. But how can this be made to consist with those passages which clearly indicate a distinction of judgment, as between those who had 'sinned in the law,' Jews and Christians, and those who had sinned without the

law,' the heathen; or as between those who knew Luke rü. 47, 48. the Lord's will and those who knew it not?

Besides, even if there were no distinct intimation to the contrary, is it to be supposed that a Christian, with all the light and privilege with which he had been favoured, would have to undergo no severer scrutiny, no more searching ordeal, than a heathen who had never so much as heard the name of

Rom. ii. 12.

GUAP. XI.

Christ? And yet this must be supposed, if the interpretation we are contending against be accepted. Fourthly, observe the utter unreality which this interpretation introduces into the parable, in that it represents Christians, when standing before the judgment seat of Christ, as professing ignorance of a thing which they had been most distinctly taught, even that love and kindness shown to the brethren of Christ is love and kindness shown to Him. Both those represented by the sheep and those represented by the goats alike say, 'Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered,' etc., each equally using language expressive of ignorance and surprise, as to what they were respectively commended for doing, or condemned for not doing. Is it possible that any Christian, who had read this very chapter and been instructed in it, could speak thus to the Judge, either in deprecation of praise or repudiation of blame ?

If Christ were now to come and call us, writer and reader, before Him, could we go to the judgment seat and profess to be surprised that He should tell us that we had done to Him what we had done to his brethren, or that we had not done to Him what we had not done to them ? Yet the interpretation in question supposes this; and to my own mind this unreality, this affectation of humility and of ignorance that it involves, is alone conclusive against its acceptance.

Discarding, then, this interpretation, we have now to seek for one more probable and consistent. And at the outset, let the name, by which the subjects of this judgment are designated, be care

« ÎnapoiContinuați »