« السابقةمتابعة »
It was not the design of Christ's death, to condemn the world, but that the worldt hrough him might be saved. But notwithstanding this, the wickedness of man is so great, that he refuses the knowledge which is proffered him, and increases the severity of his doom, by rejecting the means of salvation. In this is plainly implied, not only, that some men will perish, but that the mission of Christ will enhance their condemnation. "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." The import of this cannot be mistaken. We have already noticed the technical meaning of the day of judgment, but here is mentioned the additional circumstance of the general conflagration. The perdition of ungodly men will then take place.
7." As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are somethings hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
The sense in which destruction
2d. Peter, iii. 7, 16.
is predicated of the wicked has already been noticed. It is here deserving of more serious consideration, because it is said to follow erroneous views of the bible, which could not be said of any other book, and which on the scheme of universal salvation, is not true. It is only on the supposition, that the scriptures reveal the way in which we must walk or perish, that the distortion of their meaning can involve men in misery.
8. "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath, against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life. But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath; tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile." This is the last proof passage to be cited on this occasion, and not the least decisive. It evidently relates to the retribu
Romans ii. 5-9.
tions of eternity. The day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, properly designates the day of judgment. It is now with God a time of mercy. Nor, is there any period of probation, which can be proclaimed to the world as pre-eminently disclosing his indignation and righteous judgments. The punishment is also represented to be the result of an obstinate impenitency, and of a gradual preparation for final condemnation. But what is most convincing, is the opposition, which is presented, between the condition of those who obey not the gospel, and that of the righteous, who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honor and immortality. To these eternal life is given, while those are recompensed with indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. What can more plainly declare the future misery of a portion of mankind? Were I seeking to express the doctrine in terms that defy a false construction, I could not avail myself of better language. Here then I might safely leave my hearers to decide whether future punishment is a doctrine of the bible. Let, however, the following considerations be candidly weighed.
1. The evidence which has been adduced, though amply sufficient for the purpose, is but a small part of what might be advanced. I have purposely avoided those passages, which relate to other topics in the general question before us. But even were the texts, hereafter to be noticed, and those already examined, erased from the sacred page, the truth which they assert, would still remain in legible characters. It would be safe to undertake this controversy, were every text which I shall employ in these lectures denied me. And what may seem more surprising to some, it might be sustained by passages, taken exclusively from the epistles of St. Paul.
2. Should it be said, that that branch of the subject, treated of in this and the preceding lectures has commanded an undue share of attention, since most persons admit, that the wicked will suffer, at least for a limited period; it may be replied, that my design embraces not only a collection of the evidence, necessary to establish the doctrine of future punishment, but an elucidation and defence of the passages, which declare it. My hearers musthave noticed, that while most universalists admit the doctrine of a limited punishment,
they task themselves, with the labor of deducing a different sense from every passage, which teaches it. Though, however, most of them in our day adopt the notion of a final restoration of the wicked, admitting that they will suffer for a season, yet there are those who contend for the immediate salvation of the whole world. To them the preceding arguments are addressed.
3. The conclusion to which we have arrived exhibits sin as a very great evil. How offensive to God is the conduct, which involves men in the miseries of hell, even if those miseries are temporary! That must be more odious and abominable than mankind are apt to allow, which induces a good and merciful Being, to execute on the wicked such a punishment, as indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, denote. Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the smoke of a bottomless pit, the flames of a lake of fire, are terrible descriptions. This life presents no parallel to the pain and agony, here figured forth. But sin is the cause of it. What men often regard of trivial consequence, of casual occurrence, and of indifferent character in the sight of