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THE SONG OF HEAVIN,
REVELATION, xix. 3.-And again they said, Alleluia,
John, the last of the apostles, wrote this book, while in banishment in the Isle of Patmos. He was favored with extraordinary visions of the heavenly world and inspired to foretel the most important changes, which were to pass over the world from his day to the end of time. From the fourteenth chapter to the close of the book, he gives very striking representation of the increase and prosperity of the Church and the final overthrow of Babylon, which mystically represents Antichrist, the great head of all opposition to it. He says, “I looked and lo, a Lamb stood on mount Zion and with him an hundred and forty four thousand having his Father's name written in their foreheads." This Lamb was an emblem of Christ surrounded by those, whom he had redeemed from the earth. After the safe arrival of the Church in heaven, he says, there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." And after these things he says. “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying Alleluia: salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God.
For true and righteous are his judgments : for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with fornication and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her band. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.” Alleluia signifies, Praise
the Lord. This is the truth, which lies on the face of the text:
T'he heavenly hosts will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent forever.
It is proposed to show, in the first place, that they will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent forever, and then to inquire, why they will do it.
I. I am to show that the heavenly hosts will praise God for punishing the finally impenitent forever.
1. '1 his appears, from the representations of scripture. The Church of God on earth sang praises to God for the display of his justice in the destruction of Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. When the people of God had passed through it on dry ground and saw th Egyptians overwhelmed in the merciless waves ; “ Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and the rider hath he thrown into the sea." And the apostle John heard the inhabitants of heaven sing this same song in the praise of God for destroying his inpenitent and incorrigible enemies. When the seven angels, who had the seven last plagues to inflict upon the wicked world, as marks of God's just & awful displeasure, were prepared to pour out the vials of divine wrath, then John beard“ them sing the song of Moses, the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." When Isaiah had a vision of heaven and of the desolating judgments, which God had sent upon the wicked, upon earth, he heard the heavenly hosts cry one unto another, “ Holy, holy, boly, is the Lord of hosts ; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah and John were eye and ear witnesses of the feelings and language of the heavenly world, in the view of God's vindictive justice in punishing the wicked. They assure us, that the heavenly hosts do actually praise God for displaying his righteous and holy displeasure against the enemies of all righteousness. They cry Alleluia, when they behold the smoke of their torments rising up forever and ever. This leads me to observe,
2. These representations are perfectly agreeable to the character of perfectly holy beings. The pure spirits in heaven are holy as God is holy and just as God is just ; they feel as God feels towards himself and all his holy and unholy creatures. As God loves holiness and hates sin, so they love holiness and hate sin, and as he is disposed to punish sin, so they are pleased to see him punish sin. It is altogether reasonable, there. fore, to suppose, that they are disposed to love him and praise him for giving sinners a just recompense of reward. They see him cast the wicked down to hell. For John heard the third angel, who was the executioner of divine vengeance, say, “ If any man worship the beast and his image, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation ; and he shall 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 ascendeth up forever and ever." Who can suppose, that the holy angels and spirits of just men made perfect can be spectators of such a scene without peculiar sensibility ? They must be pleased or displeased with the divine conduct; they must approve, or disapprove of it. And of necessity, they must either praise, or blaspheme God, while they see him express the indignation of his benevolent and holy heart towards the disobedient, impenitieat and unbelieving. Those, who believe what the whole current of scripture gives us the fullest evidence to believe, that some of our sinful race will be finally and forever cast off, cannot disbelieve that the heavenly world will approve of God's casting them off forever, and sincerely praise him for all the displays of his amiable and awful justice in the eternal condemnation and punishment of the wicked.
For if they do not praise God, they must blaspheme bim and deserve the very punishment, which they condemn. No one can carry his thoughts to heaven and believe, that there will be any blasphemy there against him, who sitteth on the throne and the Lamb, but perpetual praise for the bright dis
plays of divine justice, as well as divine grace. I proceed to show,
II. Why the heavenly hosts will forever praise God for his forever punishing the wicked according to his threatenings in his word.
Here it may be proper to premise, that the holy and benevolent inhabitants of heaven do not praise God for pujishing the wicked, because they take pleasure in their punishment, simply considered. The God of love himself can take no pleasure in punishing the wicked, simply considered ; and he says so under the solemnity of an oath. “As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” All the heavenly world possess the same benevolent spirit, which can take no pleasure in the pains and sufferings of the damned, simply considered ; and therefore they do not praise God merely for the punishments he inflicts, but for the pure, perfect and holy justice, which he displays in punishing. Nor do they praise God for punishing the wicked, because they have no regard to the worth of their immortal souls and the importance • of their eternal happiness. They know that their souls are as capable of enjoying eternal happiness as their own and that their eternal happiness is as valuable as their own, simply considered. And were it consistent with the highest good of the universe, they would rejoice to see them converted, released from punishment and admitted into heaven, in any future period of their existence. For they love to enjoy happiness themselves and to see all their fellow creatures enjoy it to as great a degree and to as long a duration, as the best good of the universe requires, or admits. Some seem to think, that if the heavenly inhabitants do praise God in the view of the miseries of the damned, they must necessarily feel and express perfect malevolence towards those sinful and miserable objects. But this idea ought to be discarded, because there is no foundation for it in scripture, or reason. The way is now prepared to bring forward the plain and positive rea
It is true,
sons, why the heavenly hosts do say “Amen, Alleluia,” while they behold the endless sufferings of the wicked.
1. The first and most obvious reason for their praising God for forever punishing the wicked is, that they deserve to be punished forever. There is an inseparable connection between sin and ill desert. Every sin deserves punishment and must forever deserve it; because punishment has no tendency to take away its ill desert. Every transgressor of a human law, after he has suffered the penalty of it, still deserves to be punished as much as he did before ; because the punish ment he has received has not either removed, or diminished his guilt, or desert of punishment. the good of the public does not require a transgressor of the law to receive a perpetual punishment, in many cases ; and for that reason, the law does not require him to suffer a punishment as long as he lives ; but in some cases it does require this and that justly ; because his sufferings do not remove, nor diminish his ill desert. And this holds true, in respect to punishment in a future state. Whatever punishment God may inflict upon the finally impenitent at the last day, they will deserve to suffer as long as they exist. For they will deserve it at any future period of their existence, as much as they did at the moment God at first inflicted it
It is as true, that sinners deserve eternal punishment, as that they deserve any punishment at all. But it seems to be universally allowed, by sinners themselves, that they actually deserve some punishment and even more than they are willing to suffer. There can be no doubt but that the angels of light and the spirits of just men made perfect have a much clearer and juster view of the ill desert of sin than any of man. kind in this present imperfect state. They have seen apostate angels and apostate men and some of them have been apostate creatures themselves. They have had great opportunity and abundant occasion to examine the evil nature and ill desert of sin, with the deepest sensibility and attention. They must all know,