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faction, established by many of the passages, which have been quoted to prove merely that there is a state of future punishment. In them it is declared, that certain men shall not inherit the kingdom of God, that they shall in no case enter into it, that they shall have their portion in the world of misery. These denunciations leave no room for an honest doubt, that their sufferings will be perpetual. Were the scriptures silent, as it respects a more clear and positive declaration on the subject, it might justly be thought hazardous to deny the eternity of future punishment.
These considerations, I present to my hearers, not as unanswerable arguments; though, taken collectively, they are enough to convince me of the unreasonableness and temerity of expecting deliverance from the world of despair. The sources of evidence, to which I hereafter call your attention, afford such as is explicit and unanswerable.
1. The curse of the law, or the penalty by which it is enforced, is eternal death. That from which men are rescued by faith in Jesus Christ, is that to which they expose themselves by sin. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be
lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Christ came to save men from destruction, and to confer on them eternal happiness. But if they, by violating the law, have not forfeited this happiness, it cannot be the design of christianity to confer it. Without a Savior, they are condemned, in consequence of their sins, to eternal exclusion from heaven; and as perishing is the antithesis of this, to eternal suffering. Such happiness Christ confers, such misery he averts; and hence it follows, that the curse of the law, or that which is incurred by transgression, is endless punishment. But those, who reject the gospel, which we have seen some men do, incur this penalty, and can, therefore, on the ground of justice, never escape. It is to be observed, too, that as believers are saved by faith, as the only condition of salvation, it implies, that the consequences of unbelief are eternal. Why should everlasting life be promised them, as a reward of repentance and faith, if they have not forfeited it, and if they are, whatever
their conduct may be, to enjoy it? Christ would not, in such a case, be the author of eternal life, but only a Savior from temporary evils, and the author of happiness, during that limited period.
II. The text and other passages of similar phraseology, are unequivocal evidence against the doctrine of restoration. They declare that the wicked shall be punished with unquenchable fire, or that there shall be no termination to their torments. "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner, but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable." "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." These declarations will receive a separate and particular examination. It is important, however, to make my younger hearers first acquainted with a rule of interpretation, to be applied in the subsequent part of this discourse and of essential use in decipher
Luke 3. 19. Mark 9. 43, 44.
ing the meaning of language. The rule is this. Words are to be used in their common and obvious import, unless it is modified by the nature of the subject or by the design of the writer. Universal terms, as the world, mankind, all men, are sometimes to be limited, but never, unless the context makes it apparent, that the whole human race is not intended. It thus happens, also, that terms expressing duration denote the longest period of which the subject united with them, is capable. The same word may, in one application, express an absolute eternity, while in another it includes only a short period of time. But no ambiguity, or perplexity arises from this various use of language, because the subject itself always announces its exact signification. You sell an estate, assigning it to the purchaser and his heirs forever, and though forever in its common sense expresses an absolute eternity, it is not in this connexion thus understood. If you should speak of losing your soul forever, the language would be equally intelligible. In the first instance, forever signifies the longest period in which an estate can be entailed, or until it shall be voluntarily disposed of; and in the other case,
it signifies the longest period, in which the soul can be lost. Let this rule be applied, and no doubt will exist, whether the duration spoken of is limited or not. When that which is said to be eternal, without end, unquenchable, or forever, is something which belongs exclusively to time, it-limits the signification of these terms. But when it is something, which in its nature extends beyond the grave, and may subsist without end, these terms are not to be limited, but to be taken in their literal sense, as denoting an absolute eternity. The everlasting hills or mountains, are hills or mountains, which remain as long as time endures. The subject, of which everlasting is here predicated, does not admit of a longer duration than the continuance of the earth. The everlasting God is a being, whose existence is not bounded by time. In the first of these instances, everlasting denotes a temporary, but in the second, an endless duration. It may be said of the fire of a perpetually active volcano, that it is unquenchable, that it never shall be quenched, without causing any misapprehension or leading the hearer to suppose, that his informant believes the earth shall never be destroyed. And the language