“In this world, ministers and their people often meet together to hear of and wait upon an unseen Lord. But at the judgment, they shall meet in His most immediate and visible presence.
Ministers, who now often meet their people to preach to them the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, to convince them that there is a God and declare to them what manner of being He is, and to convince them that He governs and will judge the world, and that there is a future state of rewards and punishments, and to preach to them a Christ in heaven, at the right hand of God, in an unseen world—shall then meet their people in the most immediate sensible presence of this great God, Savior, and Judge, appearing in the most plain, visible, and open manner, with great glory, with all His holy angels, before them and the whole world.
They shall not meet them to hear about an absent Christ, an unseen Lord, and future Judge; but to appear before that Judge—being set together in the presence of that supreme Lord—in His immense glory and awful majesty, of whom they have heard so often in their meetings together on earth…
How highly therefore does it now become us to consider of that time when we must meet one another before the chief Shepherd! When I must give an account of my stewardship, of the service I have done for, and the reception and treatment I have had among the people to whom He sent me. And you must give an account of your own conduct towards me, and the improvement you have made of these three and twenty years of my ministry.
For then both you and I must appear together, and we both must give an account, in order to an infallible, righteous and eternal sentence to be passed upon us, by Him who will judge us with respect to all that we have said or done in our meeting here, and all our conduct one towards another in the house of God and elsewhere.
He will try our hearts, and manifest our thoughts, and the principles and frames of our minds. He will judge us with respect to all the controversies which have subsisted between us, with the strictest impartiality, and will examine our treatment of each other in those controversies. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nor hid which shall not be known.
All will be examined in the searching, penetrating light of God’s omniscience and glory, and by Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire. Truth and right shall be made plainly to appear, being stripped of every veil. And all error, falsehood, unrighteousness, and injury shall be laid open, stripped of every disguise. Every specious pretense, every cavil, and all false reasoning shall vanish in a moment, as not being able to bear the light of that day.
And then our hearts will be turned inside out, and the secrets of them will be made more plainly to appear than our outward actions do now. Then it shall appear what the ends are which we have aimed at, what have been the governing principles which we have acted from, and what have been the dispositions we have exercised in our ecclesiastical disputes and contests.
Then it will appear whether I acted uprightly, and from a truly conscientious, careful regard to my duty to my great Lord and Master, in some former ecclesiastical controversies, which have been attended with exceeding unhappy circumstances and consequences. It will appear whether there was any just cause for the resentment which was manifested on those occasions.
And then our late grand controversy, concerning the qualifications necessary for admission to the privileges of members, in complete standing, in the visible church of Christ, will be examined and judged in all its parts and circumstances, and the whole set forth in a clear, certain, and perfect light.
Then it will appear whether the doctrine which I have preached and published concerning this matter be Christ’s own doctrine, whether He will not own it as one of the precious truths which have proceeded from His own mouth, and vindicate and honor as such before the whole universe.”
–Jonathan Edwards, “A Farewell Sermon,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1. Ed. Edward Hickman (Banner of Truth, 1834/1998), 1:ccii, cciv. This sermon from 2 Corinthians 1:14 was preached in Northampton on June 22, 1750.