The Fountain of Life

The Fountain of Life opened up: or, a display
of Christ in his essential and mediatorial glory

by John Flavel

Christ's Advent to Judgment, being the fourth and last Degree of his Exaltation, illustrated and improved

"And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." Acts 10:42

Christ enthroned in the highest glory in heaven is there to abide for the effectual and successful government, both of the world, and of the church, until the number given him by the Father, before the world was, and purchased by the blood of the cross, be gathered in; and then comes the judgement of the great day, which will perfectly separate the precious from the vile; put the redeemed in full possession of the purchase of his blood in heaven, and "then shall he deliver up the kingdom to his Father, that God may be all in all."

This last act of Christ, namely, his judging the world, is a special part of his exaltation and honor bestowed upon him, "because he is the Son of man,", John 5:27. In that day shall his glory, as King, and absolute Lord, shine forth as the sun when it shines in its strength. O what an honor will it be to the man Christ Jesus, who stood arraigned and condemned at Pilate's bar, to sit upon the great white throne, surrounded with thousands, and ten thousands of angels! Men and devils waiting upon him to receive the final sentence from his mouth. In this will the glory of Christ's sovereignty and power be eminently and illustriously displayed before angels and men. And this is that great truth which he commanded to be preached and testified to the people, namely, that is it "he which is ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead".

Wherein we have four things to be distinctly considered, namely, The subject, object, fountain and truth of the supreme judiciary authority.

First, The subject of it, Christ, it is he that is ordained to be Judge. Judgement is the act of the whole undivided Trinity. The Father and Spirit judge, as well as Christ, in respect of authority and consent, but is it's the act of Christ, in respect of visible management and execution, and so it is his per proprietatem by propriety, the Father having conferred it upon him, as the Son of man; but not his per appropriationem, so as to exclude either the Father or Spirit from their authority, for they judge by him.

Secondly, The object of Christ's judiciary authority. The quick and dead, that is all that at his coming do live, or ever had lived. This is the Object personal. All men and women that ever sprang from Adam: all the apostate spirits that fell from heaven, and are reserved in chains to the judgement of this great day. And in this personal object, is included the real object, namely, All the actions, both secret and open, that ever they did, 2 Cor. 5:5, Rom. 2:16.

Thirdly, The Fountain of this delegated authority, which is God the Father; for he has ordained Christ to be the Judge. "He is appointed", as the Son of man, to this honorable office and work. The word notes, a firm establishment of Christ in that office by his Father. He is now, by right of redemption, Lord and King. He enacts laws for government, then he comes to judge of men's obedience and disobedience to his laws.

Fourthly, and lastly, Here is the infallible truth, or unquestionable certainty of all this: "He gave us commandment to preach and testify it to the people." We had it in charge from his own mouth; and dare not hide it. Hence the point of doctrine is plainly this,

DOCTRINE. That our Lord Jesus Christ is ordained by God the Father to be the Judge of living and dead.

This truth stands upon the firm basis of scripture authority. You have it from his own hand, John 5:22. "The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgement to the Son," namely, in the sense before given. And so the apostle, Acts 17:31. "He has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance," etc. And again, Rom. 2:16. "In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." Three things will be opened here. First, The certainty of a judgement to come. Secondly, The quality and nature of it. Thirdly, That it is a special part of Christ's exaltation to be appointed Judge in this day.

First, The certainty of a judgement. This is a truth of firmer establishment than heaven and earth. It is no devised fable, no cunning artifice to keep the world in awe! but a thing as confessedly true as it is awfully solemn. For,

First, As the scriptures aforementioned (with these, 2 Cor. 5:10. Eccles. 12:14. Matt. 12:36. and many other, the true and faithful sayings of God) do very plainly reveal it; so the justice and righteousness of God require it should be so. For the Judge of all the earth will do right, Gen. 18:25. Now righteousness itself requires that a difference be made between the righteous and the wicked: "Say you to the righteous it shall be well with him; woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him," Isa. 3:10. But no such distinction is generally and fully made between one another in this world. Yes, rather the wicked prosper, and the righteous perish, there is a just man that perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness, Eccles. 7:15. Yes, not only in, but for his righteousness, as it may be fairly rendered.

Here the "wicked devours the man that is more righteous than himself," Hab. 1:13. As the fishes of the sea, where the great and strong swallow up the small and weak. And even in courts of judicature, where the innocent might expect relief; there they often meet with the worst oppressions. How fairly and justly therefore does the wise man infer a judgement to come from this considerations, Eccles. 3:16, 17, "I saw under the sun the place of judgement that wickedness was there, and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there; I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose, and for every work," q. d. the judgement to come, is the only relief and support left to poor innocents, to quiet and comfort themselves withal. To the same purpose also is that, Jam. 5:6, 7. "You have condemned and killed the just; and he does not resist you; be patient, therefore, brethren unto the coming of the Lord." It is confessed, that sometimes, God vindicates his providence against the Atheism of the world, by particular strokes upon the wicked; but this is but rare. And as the Father well observes, "if no sin were punished here, no providence would be believed; again, if every sin were openly punished here, no judgement hereafter could be expected." Besides,

Secondly, Man is a reasonable being, and every reasonable being, is an accountable being. He is a subject capable of moral government. His actions have a relation to a law. He is swayed by rewards and punishments. He acts by counsel, and therefore of his actions, he must expect to give an account, as it is Rom. 14:12. "So then everyone of us, shall give an account of himself to God." Especially if we add, that all the gifts of body, mind, estate, time, etc. are so many talents, concredited and betrusted to him by God, and everyone of us has one talent at least; therefore a time to render an account for all these talents will come, Matth. 25:14, 15. We are but stewards, and stewards must give an account, in order whereto, there must be a great audit day.

Thirdly, And what need we seek evidence of this truth, further than our own conscience? Lo, it is a truth engraved legibly upon every man's own bosom. Everyone has a kind of little tribunal, or privy sessions in his own conscience, which both accuses and excuses for good and evil, which it could never do, were there not a future judgement, of which it is now conscious to itself. In this court, records are now kept of all we do, even of our secret actions and thoughts, which never yet took air; but of no judgement, what need of records? Nor let any imagine, that this may be but the fruit of education and discourse. We have heard of such things, and so are scared by them. For if so, how comes it to obtain so universally? Who could be the author of such a common deception?

Reader, bethink yourself a little; if you have a mind (as one says) to impose a lie upon all the world, what course Would you take? How Would you lay the design? Or why do you in this case imagine what you know not how to imagine? It is evident that the very consciences of the Heathens, have these offices of accusing and excusing, Rom. 2:15. And it is hard to imagine, (as an ingenious author speaks) that a general cheat should bow down the backs of all mankind, and induce so many doubts and fears, and troubles, among them; and give an interruption to the whole course of their corrupt living, and that there should be no account of it? And therefore it is undoubted that such a day will come. But I shall rather chose, in the

Second Place, to open the nature and manner of this judgement, than to spend more time in proving a truth, that cannot be denied without violence offered to a man's own light. If then the question be, What manner of judgement will this be? I answer,

First, It will be a great and awful day. It is called the "judgement of the great day," Jude 6. Three things will make it so, the manner of Christ's coming; the work he comes about; and the issues, or events of that work. The manner of Christ's coming, will be awfully solemn, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," etc. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. Here Christ breaks out of heaven, with the shouts of angels, "en keleusmai", it signifies such a shout, says one, as is to be heard among seamen, when after a long and dangerous voyage, they first descry land, crying aloud, with united voices, a shore, a shore. As the poet describes the Italians, when they saw their native country, "lifting up their voices, and making the heavens ring again with Italy, Italy: or as armies shout when the signal of battle is given." Above all which (as some expound it) shall the voice of the Archangel be distinctly heard. And after this shout, the trumpet of God shall sound. By this tremendous blast, sinners will be affrighted out of their graves; but to the saints, it will carry no more terror, then the roaring of cannons, when armies of friends approach a besieged city, for the relief of them that are within it. The dead being raised, they shall be gathered before the great throne on which Christ shall sit in his glory; and there be divided exactly to the right and left hand of Christ, by the angels. Here will be the greatest assembly that ever met. Where Adam may see his numerous offspring, even as the sand upon the sea shore, which no man can number. And never was there such a perfect division made, (how many divisions soever have been in the world) none was ever like it. The saints in this great Oecumenical assize (as the author stiles it) shall meet the Lord in the air, and there the Judge shall sit upon the throne, and all the saints shall be placed upon bright clouds, as on seats or scaffolds round about him; the wicked remaining below upon the earth, there to receive their final doom and sentence.

These preparatives will make it awful; and much more will the work itself, that Christ comes about, make it so. For it is "to judge the secrets of men," Rom. 2:16. To sever the tares from the wheat; to make every man's whites and blacks appear; and according as they are found in that trial, to be sentenced to their everlasting and immutable states. O what a solemn thing is this!

And no less will the execution of the sentence on both parts make it a great and solemn day. The heart of man cannot conceive what impressions the voice of Christ, from the throne, will make, both upon believers, and unbelievers.

Imagine Christ upon his glorious throne, surrounded with myriads and legions of angels, his royal guard; a poor unbeliever trembling at the bar; an exact scrutiny made into his heart and life; the dreadful sentence given; and then a cry; and then his delivering him over to the executioners of eternal vengeance, never, never, to see a glimpse of hope or mercy any more.

Imagine Christ, like the general of an army, mentioning with honor, on the head of all the hosts of heaven and earth, all the services that the saints have done for him in this world: then sententially justifying them by open proclamation; then mounting with him to the third heavens, and entering the gates of that city of God, in that noble train of saints and angels intermixed; and so forever to be with the Lord. O what a great day must this be!

Secondly, As it will be awful and solemn judgement, so it will be a critical and exact judgement, every man will be weighed to his ounces and drachms. The name of the judge is "Kardiognoses", the Searcher of hearts. The judge has eyes as flames of fire, which pierce to the dividing of the heart and reins. It is said, Matth. 12:36. That men shall then "give an account of every idle word that they shall speak." It is a day that will perfectly fan the world. No hypocrite can escape; Justice holds the balances in an even hand: Christ will go to work so exactly, that some divines of good note think, the day of judgement will last as long as this day of the gospel's administration has lasted, or shall last.

Thirdly, it will be an universal judgement, 2 Cor. 5:10. "We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ." And Rom. 14:12. "Everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God." Those that were under the law, "and those that having no law, were a law to themselves," Rom. 2:12. Those that had many talents, and he that had but one talent, must appear at this bar; those that were carried from the cradle to the grave, with him that stooped forage: the rich, and poor; the father, and the child; the master, and servant; the believer, and the unbeliever, must stand forth in that day. "I saw the dead, both small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened," Rev. 20:12.

Fourthly, It will be a judgement full of convictive clearness. All things will be so sifted to bran, (as we say), that the sentence of Christ, both on saints and sinners, shall be applauded. "Righteous are you, O Lord, because you have judged thus." His judgements will be as the light that goes forth. So that those poor sinners whom he will condemn, shall be first "autokatakritoi", self condemned. Their own consciences shall be forced to confess, that there is not one drop of injustice in all that sea of wrath, into which they are to be cast.

Fifthly, and lastly, It will be a supreme and final judgement, from which lies no appeal. For it is the sentence of the highest, and only Lord. "For as the ultimate resolution of faith is into the word and truth of God, so the ultimate resolution of justice is into the judgement of God." This judgement is supreme and imperial. For Christ is the only Potentate, 1 Tim. 6:5. and therefore the sentence once passed, its execution is infallible. And so you find it in that judicial process, Matth. 25: ult. just after the sentence is pronounced by Christ, it is immediately added, "these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." This is the judgement of the great day.

Thirdly, In the last place, I must inform you, that God, in ordaining Christ to be the Judge, has very highly exalted him. This will be very much for his honor: for in this, Christ's royal dignity will be illustrated, beyond whatever it was since he took our nature, until that day; now he will appear in his glory. For,

First, This act of judging pertaining properly to the kingly office, Christ will be glorified as much in his kingly office, as he has been in either of the other. We find but some few glimpses of the kingly office, breaking forth in this world: as, his riding with Hosannas into Jerusalem; his whipping the buyers and sellers out of the temple, his title upon the cross, etc. But these were but faint beams: Now that office will shine in its glory, as the sun in the midst of the heavens. For what were the Hosannas of little children, in the streets of Jerusalem, to the shouts and acclamations of thousands of angels, and ten thousands of saints? what was his whipping the profane out of the temple, to his turning the wicked into hell, and sending his angels to gather out of his kingdom everything that offendeth? what was a title written be his judge, and fixed on the ignominious tree, to the name that shall now be seen on his vesture, and on his thigh, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Secondly, This will be a display of his glory in the highest, before the whole world. For they will be present at once, and together, all the inhabitants of heaven, and earth, and hell; angels must be there to attend and minister; those glittering courtiers of heaven must attend his person; so that heaven will, for a time, be left empty of all its inhabitants: men and devils must be there to be judged: and before this great assembly, will Christ appear in royal Majesty. He will, (to allude to that text, Isa. 24:23.) reign before his ancients gloriously. "For he will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," 2 Thess. 1:10. The inhabitants of the three regions, heaven, earth and hell, shall then rejoice, or tremble before him, and acknowledge him to be supreme Lord and King.

Thirdly, This will roll away forever the reproach of his death: for Pilate and the High-priest, that judged him at their bars, shall now stand quivering at his bar; with Herod that set him at nothing, the soldiers and officers that traduced and abused him: there they that reviled him on the cross, wagging their heads, will stand, with trembling knees, before his throne. For "every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him," Rev. 1:7. O what a contemptible person was Christ in their eyes once? As a worm, and no man. Every vile wretch could freely tread and trample on him; but now such will be the brightness of his glory, such the awful beams of majesty, that the wicked shall not stand in his presence, or "be able to rise up," (as that word imports, Psalm. 1:5.) "before him." So that this will be a full and universal vindication of the death of Christ, from all that contempt and ignominy that had attended it. We next improve it.

INFERENCE 1. Is Jesus Christ ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead? Great then is the security believers have, that they shall not be condemned in that day. Who shall condemn, when Christ is Judge? If believers be condemned in judgement, Christ must give sentence against them; yes, and they must condemn themselves too. I say, Christ must give sentence, for that is the proper and peculiar office of Christ. And, to be sure, no sentence of condemnation shall in that day be given by Christ against them. For,

First, He died to save them, and he will never cross and overthrow the designs and ends of his own death. That cannot be imagined. Nay,

Secondly, They have been cleared and absolved already. And being once absolved by divine sentence, they can never be condemned afterward. For one divine sentence cannot cross and rescind another. He justified them here in this world by faith: Declared in his word, (which shall then be the rule of judgement, Rom. 2:16.) that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ," Rom. 8:1. And surely he will not retract his own word, and give a sentence quite cross to his own statute book, out of which he has told us that they shall be judged. Moreover,

Thirdly, The far greatest part of them will have passed their particular judgement, long, before that day, and being therein acquitted by God the Judge of all; and admitted into heaven upon the score and account of their justification; it cannot be imagined that Christ should now condemn them with the world. Nay,

Fourthly, He that judged them is their head, husband, friend, and brother: who loved them, and gave himself for them. O then, with what confidence may they go, even unto his throne? and say, with Job, "Though he try us as fire, we know we shall come forth as gold." We know that we shall be justified. Especially, if we add, that they themselves shall be the assessors with Christ in that day. And, (as a judicious author pertinently observes,) not a sentence shall pass without their votes. "So as that they may by faith not only look upon themselves as already in heaven, sitting with Christ, as a common person, in their right; but they may look upon themselves as judges already. So that if any sin should arise to accuse or condemn, yet it must be with their votes. And what greater security can they have than this, that they must condemn themselves, if they be condemned." No, it is not the business of that day to condemn, but to absolve and pronounce them pardoned and justified, according to the sentence of Acts 3:19. and Mat. 12:32. So that its must needs be a time of refreshing, (as all scriptures call it,) to the people of God. You that now believe, shall not come into condemnation, John 5:24. You that now judge yourselves, shall not be condemned with the world, 1 Cor. 11:31, 32.

INFERENCE. 2. If Christ be ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead, how miserable a case will Christless souls be in at that day! They that are Christless now, will be speechless, helpless, and hopeless then. How will their hands hang down, and their knees knock together! O what pale faces, quivering lips, fainting hearts, and roaring consciences will be among them in that day! O dreadful day! O astonishing sight! to see the world in a dreadful conflagration, the elements netting, the stars falling, the earth trembling, the judgement set, the prisoners brought forth; O who shall endure this day, but those that by union with Christ are secured against the danger and dread of it! Let me demand of poor Christ less souls, whom this day is like to take unawares,

First, Do you think it possible to avoid appearing, after that terrible citation is given to the world by the trumpet of God? Alas, how can you imagine it? is not the same power that revived your dust, able to bring you before the bar? There is a necessity that you must come forth, 2 Cor. 5:10. "We [must] all appear." It is not in the sinner's choice, to obey the summons or not.

Secondly, If you must appear, are there no accusers, nor witnesses, that will appear against you, and confront you in the court? What think you, was Satan so often a tempter to you here, and will he not be an accuser there? Yes, nothing surer; for that was the main design of all his temptations. What think you of your own consciences? are they not privy to your secret wickedness; do not they now sometimes whisper in your ears, what you care not to hear of? If they whisper now, they will thunder then, Rom. 2:15, 16. Will not the Spirit accuse you, for resisting his motions, and stifling thousands of his convictions? Will not your companions in sin accuse you, who drew or were drawn by you to sin? Will not your teachers be your accusers? How many times have you made them complain, Lord, they are iron and brass, they have made their faces harder than a rock; they refuse to return. Will not your very relations be your accusers, to whom you have failed in all your relational duties? Yes, and everyone whom you have tempted to sin, abused, defrauded, overreached; all these will be your accusers. So that it is without dispute, you will have accusers enough to appear against you.

Thirdly, Being accused before Jesus Christ what will you plead for yourselves: will you confess, or will you deny the charge. If you confess, what need more? "Out of your own mouth will I judge you," says Christ, Luke 19:22. If you deny, and plead not guilty, your Judge is the searcher of hearts, and knows a11 things. So that it will not at all help you to make a lie your last refuge. This will add to the guilt, but not cover it.

Fourthly, If no defense or plea be left you, then what canned you imagine should retard the sentence? Why should not Christ go on to that dreadful work? "Must not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Gen. 18:25. Must not you render to every man according to his deeds? 2 Cor. 5:10. Yes, no question but he will proceed to that sentence, how terrible soever it be to you to think on it now, or hear it then.

Fifthly, To conclude, if sentence be once given by Christ against your soul, what in all the world canned you imagine should hinder the execution? will he alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth? No, Psalm. 89:34. Do you hope he is more merciful and pitiful than so? You mistakes, if you expect mercy out of that way in which he dispenses it. There will be thousands, and ten thousands that will rejoice in, and magnify his mercy then; but they are such as obey his call, repented, believed, and obtained union with his person here; but for unbelievers, it is against the settled law of Christ, and constitution of the gospel, to show mercy to the despisers of it. But it may be, you think your tears, your cries, your pleadings with him, may move him; these indeed might have done somewhat in time, but they come out of season now. Alas, too late. What the success of such pleas and cries will be, you may see if you will but consult two scriptures, Job 27:8, 9. "What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he has gained, when God takes away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble comes upon him?" No: And Matt. 7:22. "Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils, and in your name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me you that work iniquity."

And must it come to this dismal issue with you indeed? God forbid it should. Oh then,

INFERENCE. 3. If Christ be appointed of God to be the Judge of all, how are all concerned to secure their interest in him, and therein an eternal happiness to their own souls, by the work of regeneration? Of all the business that men and women have in this world, there is none so solemn, so necessary, and important as this. O my brethren, this is a work, able to drink up your spirits, while you do but think of the consequence of it.

Summon in then your self-reflecting and considering powers: get alone, reader, and, forgetting all other things, ponder with yourself this deep, dear, eternal concernment of your. Examine the state of your own soul. Look into the scriptures, then into your own heart, and then to heaven, saying, Lord, let me not be deceived in so great a concernment to me as this. O let not the trifles of time wipe off the impressions of death, judgement, and eternity from your heart. O that long word [Eternity,] that it might be night any day with you; that the awe of it may be still upon your Spirit. A gentlewoman of this nation, having spent the whole afternoon, and a great part of the evening at cards, in mirth and jollity, came home late at night, and finding her waiting gentlewoman reading, she looked over her shoulder upon the book, and said, Poor melancholy soul, why do you sit here poring so long upon your book? That night she could not sleep, but lay sighing and weeping; her servant asked her once and again what ailed her; at last she burst out into tears, and said, Oh! it was one word that I cast my eye upon in your book, that troubles me; there I saw that word Eternity. How happy were I, if I were provided for eternity! Sure it concerns us, seeing we look for such things, to be diligent that we may be found of him in peace. O let not that day come by surprisal upon you. Remember, that as death leaves, so judgement will find you.

INFERENCE. 4. Is Jesus Christ appointed Judge of quick and dead, then look to it, all you that hope to be found of him in peace, that you avoid those sins, and live in the daily practice of those duties, which the consideration of that day powerfully persuades you to avoid or practice. For it not only presses to holiness in actu primu, in the being of it; but in actu secondo, in the daily exercise and practice of it. Do you indeed expect such a day? Oh then,

First, See you be meek and patient under all injuries and abuses for Christ's sake. Avenge not yourselves, but leave it to the Lord, who will do it. Do not anticipate the work of God. "Be patient, my brethren, to the coming of the Lord," James 5:7,8, 9.

Secondly, Be communicative, public-hearted Christians, studying and devising liberal things, for Christ's distressed members; and you shall have both an honorable remembrance of it, and a full reward of it in that day, Mat. 25:34, 35.

Thirdly, Be watchful, and sober, keep the golden bridle of moderation upon all your affections; and see that you be not overcharged with the cares and love of this present life, Luke 21:34, 35. Will you that your Lord come and find you in such a posture? "O let your moderation be known unto all, the Lord is at hand," Phil. 4:5.

Fourthly, Improve all your Master's talents diligently and carefully. Take heed of the napkin, Matt. 25:14, 18. Then must you make up your account for them all.

Fifthly, But, above all, be sincere in your profession. Let your hearts be found in God's statutes, that you may never be ashamed; for this day will be the day of manifestation of all hidden things. And nothing is so secret, but that day will reveal it, Luke 12:1, 2, 3. "Beware of hypocrisy; for there is noting covered, which shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be made known." Thus I have finished, through divine aids, the whole doctrine of the impetration of redemption by Jesus Christ; we shall wind up the whole in a general exhortation, and I have done.