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The Judgement of God Compared to that of Men

by Richard Baxter

1. An humbled soul, that hath felt what it is to have displeased God, and what it is to be under his curse, and what it is to be reconciled to him by the death and intercession of Jesus Christ, is so taken up in seeking the favour of God, and is so troubled with every fear of his displeasure, and is so delighted with the sense of his love, as that he can scarce have while to mind so small a matter as the favour or displeasure of a man. God's favour is enough for him, and so precious to him, that if he find that he hath this, so small a matter as the favour of a man will scarce be missed by him.

2. God only is our supreme Judge, and our governors as officers limited by him but for others, if they will be usurpers, and set themselves in the throne of God, and there let fly their censures upon things and persons which concern them not, why should we seem much concerned in it? If a beggar step up into a seat of judicature, and there condemn one and fine another, will you fear him, or laugh at him? Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master doth he stand or fall. Men may step up into the throne of God, and there presume to judge others according to their interests and passions: but God will quickly pull them down, and teach them better to know their places. How like is the common censure of the world, to the game of boys, that will hold an assize, and make a judge, and try and condemn one another in sport! And have we not a greater Judge to fear?

3. It is God only that passeth the final sentence, from whom there is no appeal to any other: but from human judgment there lieth an appeal to God.' Their judgment must be judged of by him. Things shall not stand as now men censure them. Many a bad cause is now judged good, through the multitude or greatness of those that favour it: and many a good cause is now condemned. Many a one is taken as a malefactor because he obeyeth God and doth his duty. But all these things must be judged over again, by him that hath denounced a "woe to them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness," Isa. v. 20. "He that saith to the wicked, Thou art righteous, people shall curse him, nations shall abhor him," Prov. xxiv. 24. It were ill with the best of the servants of Christ, if the judgment of the world must stand, who condemn them as fools, and hypocrites, and what they list: then the devil's judgment would stand. But he is the wise man that God will judge to be wise at last; and he only is the happy man that God calls happy. The erring judgment of a creature is but like an ignorant man's writing the names of several things upon an apothecary's boxes; if he write the names of poisons upon some, and of antidotes on others, when there are no such things within them, they are not to be estimated according to those names. How different are the names that God and the world do put upon things and persons now! And how few now approve of that which God approveth of, and will justify at last! How many will God judge heterodox and wicked that men judged orthodox, and worthy of applause! and how many will God judge orthodox and sincere! that were called heretics and hypocrites by men! God will not verify every word against his servants, which angry men, or contentious disputants, say against them. The learning, or authority, or other advantages of the contenders, may now bear down the reasons and reputations of more wise and righteous men than they, which God will restore and vindicate at last. The names of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and many other excellent servants of the Lord, are now made odious in the writings and reports of papists, by their impudent lies; but God judgeth otherwise, with more righteous judgment. Oh what abundance of persons and causes will be justified at the dreadful day of God, which the world condemned! And how many will be there condemned, that were justified by the world! O blessed day! most desirable to the just, most terrible to the wicked and every hypocrite. How many things will then be set straight, that now are crooked! and how many innocents and saints will then have a resurrection of their murdered names, that were buried by the world in a heap of lies, and their enemies never thought of their reviving! O look to that final judgment of the Lord, and you will take men's censures but as the shaking of a leaf.

4. It is God only that hath power to execute his sentence, to our happiness or misery. "There is one lawgiver that is able to save and to destroy," James iv. 12. If he say to us, "Come ye blessed," we shall be happy, though devils and men should curse us; for those that he blesseth shall be blessed. If he condemn to hell, the applause of the world will fetch no man out, nor give him ease. A great name on earth, or histories written in their applause, or a gilded monument over their bones, are a poor relief to damned souls. And the barking of the wicked, and their scorns on earth, are no diminution to the joy or glory of the souls that shine and triumph with Christ. It is our Lord that "hath the keys of death and hell," Rev. i. 18. Please him, and you are sure to escape, though the pope, and all the wicked of the world, should thunder out against you their most direful curses. Woe to us if the wicked could execute all their malicious censures! Then how many saints would be in hell! But if it he God that justifies us, how inconsiderable a matter is it, who they are that condemn us, or what be their presences! Rom. viii. 33.

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Richard Baxter on Man-pleasing


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