JUDGMENT, TRIAL, PROBATION.
Will the saints be brought to trial?
Perhaps no subject of revelation is so little understood as is that of the judgment. Probation and judgment, mean one and the same; viz. a trial. Probation, says Webster, is the act of proving; a trial, or examination. In the M. E. Church, converts are placed on probation; that is, on trial for six months; and if they pass through this trial successfully they are admitted to full membership. During this six months trial they are expected to learn the ways and doctrins of that church. The day of judgment is the day of trial, or probation for eternal life.
"We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." That is, all mankind must pass through a trial or probation under him, in order to determine with them the question of eternal life, or eternal death. Christ himself submitted to a trial, won the victory, and became the "firstborn from the dead." And "now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out. And I, if I be lifted up will draw all unto me, (John 12: 31). The Greek here for judgment is the same word as in Matt. 11: 24, and that class of texts; and evidently refers to the final and decisive judgment.
The final judgment of all mankind, then, began with the head of the Church; who, of course, passed his trial triumphantly. And thus abolished, or conquered, death; and commenced the process which shall cast out the prince of this world, or him that hath the power of death. Prior to this, their probation was for an earthly inheritence, and a fleshly kingdom; and had been a total failure. But now "He sends forth judgment, [trial] unto victory," (Matt. 12: 20); and life and immortality are brought to light by his own successful probation.
After Christ, the next to pass through the judgment, [ probation, or trial] is "the church of the firstborn," or house of God;
"whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," (Heb. 3: 6}. That is, if we pass the trial successfully.
Having seen that the judgment of this world began with our Lord; we will now show that the judgment on his Church also transpires in this life. In other words, judgment [not the sentence, but the TRIAL] transpires during probation; here on the church, hereafter on the world.
"For the time is come [says Peter in his first epistle] that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if first at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God"?
As judgment means trial, it follows that where probation ends, the judgment ends. "With the gospel church it ends at death; and with the world it will end with their time of trial.
The objection may be urged that judgment comes after death: "It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment." This is true only of mankind in general; but the gospel church is an exception. "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life," (John 5: 24). The word "judgment," which in this text is rendered condemnation, is krisis, the same as in Heb. 9: 27; and also in Matt. 12: 36; "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment" [krisis]; and clearly means the final great decisive day of trial. Those who accept of Christ here, have their trial, or judgment in this life, and "have passed from death unto life," that is, the sentence of life is pronounced, and they "shall not come into judgment," or another trial; are the words of the Master.
Judgment is not executed until after the trial, but the trial is the judgment, and with the saint ends at death. So that with the apostle he can say, "I have finished my course; I have kept the faith; [I am not going to another trial; I am not going to judgment; the sentence of eternal life has been already awarded] and a crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which he, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only " &c. If sentence had not been pronounced at the end of Paul's probation, and he has yet to stand a trial to decide whether a crown of righteousness is laid up for him, then the Holy Spirit was premature in passing sentence, "He that believeth on him that sent me is passed from death unto life, and shall not come into judgment." Hence all the future judgment for the saint, is its execution, or the receiving of the reward: "Sown a natu-
ral body; raised a spiritual body." Which second birth, is the crown of life; "neither can they die any more."
Thus "the judgment of this world," which Christ said began with himself; who was tried in all points; has, thus far, been a probationary trial for life. And there is abundence of evidence that the great judgment day is designed and set apart expressly for the purpose of placing the world on a probation or trial for life. It is certain the mass of mankind, from Adam to the present time, have not had probation in Christ, the only name given under heaven or among men, whereby they must be saved. And no one can escape, either in this age, or the next, of standing a probationary trial for his life at Christ's tribunal, "For to this end Christ both died, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. For we shall all [either while living, or after death] stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God," (Rom. 14: 9-11).
"Marvel not at this, for the hour [time] cometh, when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment," (John 5: 28). [Krisis, is translated judgment thirty-nine times, and is the word used when speaking of the day of judgment; and yet in this, and two other cases it is, for no other than a theological reason, rendered damnation]. "It is appointed unto man once to die, and and [sic] after this damnation," (Heb. 9: 27); this is the same word, and the same rendering, But our Lord teaches in this, as in other texts, that one class are raised to life, sentence being already passed, so that they "shall not come into judgment; while the others are raised to probationary trial. If it be otherwise, and he has no good for them, but they are raised only for punishment, how is it that every deed "whether it be good or whether it be evil, is to be rewarded? "Whosoever [this is a big word, and takes in men of all characters] shall give you a cup of water to drink, in my name because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward," [Mark 9: 41).
From the general teaching of Scripture it appears that the probation of the next age will differ from that of this age. Here it has been under grace, and exclusively for the "Church of the firstborn. "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him." These are judged in Christ; and hence appear only by proxy. That this class do not appear in judgment we know, for those who believe on him "shall not come into
judgment, but are passed from death unto life." The sentence of a crown of righteousness laid up for them, is already passed, and it is to be given in that day. But with the world it is not so. They must answer for themselves, and receive a reward for every deed, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. And this includes all who are raised to judgment. Another proof that the saints who are forgiven, are not raised to judgment. A queer forgivness, if we have still to answer for every deed. In the judgment of the world, they will be rewarded for every good deed they ever done in their life, if it was only the giving of a cup of cold water to help a disciple of Christ, as surely as they will be rewarded for their evil deeds. And it is thus, they can now "make to themselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness." For "he that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and he will repay him again." And he has appointed a day in which these things will be adjudicated. But their rewards and punishments will he proportioned, not by the magnitude of the deed merely, but by a righteous judgment: "The servant who knew his lords will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes; while he who knew not, but did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few." And "where there is no law [not even that of conscience], sin is not imputed."
In this gospel age, there is no law to one who walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. But in that age mankind will be subject to law, and not to grace. And those laws will be enforced with rigor: "Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron."
The age of judgment is the time of separation as brought to view in Matt. 25: 31 —. The sheep and goats, of that parable refer to the good and bad of that age. And those who are finally saved will surely inherit the kingdom. The scene is at the time he sits on "the throne of his glory," and therefore at the time "the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations." And Christ reigns during the restitution age which is a thousand years duration. "For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." But this end is not reached until all classes are raised; "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order." Though the apostle gives the "order" of the resurrection only so far as it relates to the Church of the firstborn, still the statement is, that all are to be raised, "then cometh the end; when he shall have delivered up the kingdom. As one order of the dead "live not again until the thousand years are ended;" we know where
the "end," of which he speaks is due, viz. When all the dead are disposed of, and the last enemy, death, is destroyed. And as there can be no trial for life, after there is "no more death," it follows that probation must end with the thousand years.
There is no third death mentioned; hence we may assume that men will not die in that age, unless they die the "second death," which is eternal. Therefore, as they come to maturity, the good will be translated, or "delivered from this bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God," without tasting death; as we may suppose would have obtained, had man not sinned. This would be a perfect restitution. "But the sinner being a hundred years old, shall be accursed." That is, in the restitution, when men are once made alive in Christ, they will no longer die in Adam, or else Christ's work is made of none effect; but the soul that sinneth the sin which is unto death, shall die.
When all the human family who have died in Adam, have had probation for life, that is, have been brought, to Christ's tribunal, and there is no other name by which they can obtain life, then those who have commited the unpardonable sin, in this life, and "live not again until the thousand years are ended," are raised, and, with the nations who are left, after the good have been taken out, are brought to the final executive judgment; as given in Rev. 20: 9, 10; which is the end, to which Paul refers.
Verses 11, to 15, is, I apprehend, a mere recapitulation of the whole scene from the setting of the judgment, Rev, 4: to the end.
Tell the whole world these blessed tidings,
Speak of the time of rest that's near;
Tell the oppressed of ev'ry nation,
Jubilee lasts a thousand years.
Chorus— A thousand years earth's coming glory—
'Tis the glad day so long foretold:
'Tis the bright morn of Zion's glory,
Prophets foresaw in times of old.
What if the clouds do for a moment
Hide the blue sky where morn appears:
Soon the glad sun of promise given,
Rises to shine a thousand years.
Haste thee along ages of glory,
Haste the glad time when Christ appears—
Oh, for the faith of ancient worthies;
Oh, for that reign of a thousand years.