They shall stand there to be judged, but not to be acquitted. Fear shall lay hold upon them there; they shall not stand their ground; they shall flee away; they shall not stand in their own defence; for they shall blush and be covered with eternal contempt.
Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there, “_nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous_.” All our congregations upon earth are mixed. Every Church has one devil in it. The tares grow in the same furrows as the wheat. There is no floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from chaff. Sinners mix with saints, as dross mingles with gold. God’s precious diamonds still lie in the same field with pebbles. Righteous Lots are this side heaven continually vexed by the men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” above, there shall by no means be admitted a single unrenewed soul. Sinners cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live upon a tree than the wicked in Paradise. Heaven would be an intolerable hell to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter; but such a privilege shall never be granted to the man who perseveres in his iniquities. May God grant that we may have a name and a place in his courts above!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5.–“_Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment_,” etc. And may not a reason also be conceived thus, why the ungodly can never come to be of the congregation of the righteous: the righteous go a way that God knows, and the wicked go a way that God destroys; and seeing that these ways can never meet, how should the men meet that go these ways? And to make sure work that they shall never meet indeed, the prophet expresseth the way of the righteous by the first link of the chain of God’s goodness, which is his _knowledge_; but expresseth the way of the wicked by the last link of God’s justice, which is his _destroying_; and though God’s justice and his mercy do often meet, and are contiguous one to another, yet the first link of his mercy and the last link of his justice can never meet, for it never comes to destroying till God be heard to say _Nescio vos_, “_I know you not_,” and _nescio vos_ in God, and God’s knowledge, can certainly never possibly meet together.–^Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 5.–The Irish air will sooner brook a toad, or a snake, than heaven a sinner.–^John Trapp.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 5.–The sinner’s double doom. 1. Condemned at the judgment-bar. 2. Separated from the saints. Reasonableness of these penalties, “therefore,” and the way to escape them.
“_The congregation of the righteous_” viewed as the church of the first-born above. This may furnish a noble topic.