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for us! And, O that we might follow him! Now we may feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame; may take in the stranger, relieve the distressed, visit the sick, the fatherless, widows & prisoners in their affliction; may bury the dead, & constantly perform works of benevolence & mercy,while we remain in this state of our existence; which if we here neglect, we never can perform at all, & of consequence, never can obtain the rewards which are promised to the obedient; but as it is not the state of rewards and punishments that we are now discoursing about, but a state beyond-even the Restoration of all things; neither is the dispute about what men can do after this life, but what God can do, or what he has purposed to do with and for them, in the ages to come, after the dreadful sentence is past; whether they shall be left under the same, while God exists; or whether they shall ever be restored; or whether they shall be annihilated; this, you know, is the state of the question; some hold the first and others the last; but I am apt to think both these opinions are extremes, and therefore judge it safest to maintain the second, which I take to be the medium here.
Friend. Indeed I am convinced, that no circumstance preceeding the general judgment, can affect the argument; because we are informed, that the condemnation of the wicked shall be at that day; when GOD will render to them according to their deeds, and will say to them, Depart from me, &c.-But the follow ing texts of Scripture form a strong objection to the universal Restoration, which I would wish you well to consider.
"The expectation of the wicked shall perish; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand; he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him. The eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they sha I not escape; and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost. His confidence, shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors For what is the hope of the wicked, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul. Will GoD hear his cry, when trouble cometh upon him? He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perisheth. Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh : When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind when distress and anguish come upon you: Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer: they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me ; For that they hated knowTedge, and did not choose the fear of JEHOVAH. They would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices," Prov. x. 28. Job viii. 13, 14, 15. xx. 27. xi. 20. xviii. 14. xxvii. 8, 9. Prov. xxix. 1. xi. 7. 1. 24-31.
These, and abundance of other similar passages, declare the future state of the wicked to be desperate, without hope; they and their hopes perish together, as the spider's web; they have no hopes or prospect of being redeemed; they can look for nothing but judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour them as stubble fully dry, and as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Solomon says. "The expectation of the wicked is wrath," Prov. xi. "As he loved cursing, so shall it come unto him; as he delighted not in blessing, so shall it be far
from him. As he cloathed himself with cursing, like as with his garment ; so shall it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones," Psal. cix. 17, 18. Indeed he can have no hopes, when he considers that he hath neglected so great a salvation all his life; that he hath set at nought God's counsels, despised his reproofs; that when his CREATOR called to him to turn, he had no ears to hear his voice; and therefore, when sorrow shall overtake, though he may cry, he shall not be regarded of God; and though he may seek, he shall not find; the Master of the house having risen up,and shut to the door,all knocking for entrance is in vain, even though such were to plead for admittance in the most earnest manner, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us ;" he shall answer, "I know you not whence you are ;" and though they may reiterate, and expostulate, saying, "We have eaten and drank in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets," he shall not be moved, but shall say to them, "I tell you, I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.There shall be weeping, and gnashing of teeth, when they shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and they themselves thrust out." St. Luke xiii. 25, 26, 27, 28.See also St. Matth. vii. 21, 22, 23. xxv. 11, 12.
Minister. These are awful warnings, indeed; and were they attended to as they ought to be, would be sufficient, one would think, to deter men from their evil ways: I am glad that you have stated them in this most striking point of light; for though they form no real objection to my views of God's dealing with men, as I understand the Scriptures, they are an insuperable bar to the opinions of those who deny a future state of retribution, which I think impossible for them to answer fairly. I shall, however, notice brieflv, some things in this collection of Scriptures, in order that my sentiments may appear in their true light.
1. All the hopes of the wicked, ungodly, and hypoGrites, shall perish at their death.
Perhaps they hoped to have lived long, to have enjoyed health, wealth, pleasure, and all worldly good, for many years; to have seen their children for many generations, flourishing for a long time on earth; but death destroys these hopes.
The hypocrites might have hoped that they should have been accepted with God, on the account of their birth, parentage, profession, rank among the people of God, observation of the externals of religion, &c. &c. all of which vain hopes do certainly perish at death.
The profane and wicked infidel, aud practical a theist, might have hoped, either to have ceased to. exist, or to have found some way of escaping the threatened punishment; but death destroys these hopes also.
2. Whatever may be the final intention of God towards these miserable creatures, it is evident they are shut up in a state of keen tormenting despair, or dreadful suspense, and may be fully persuaded that they shall never be released, of which it is likely they may not have even the most distant hope, or the least degree of knowledge-but, on the contrary, be in fearful expectation of more terrible punishment hereafter.
3. As they have lived and died in sin, their destruction, or misery, is certain-and there is no remedy, that can prevent their experiencing the consequences of their crimes, and suffering the just punishment which shall be inflicted on them, according to their different deserts.
4. They who live and die in rebellion against Gor, will be eternally deprived of the glories and honours of the kingdom of Christ, which otherwise they might have possessed; will be excluded from a share in the first resurrection, and will be exposed to suffer the
torments of the second death; which all must inevita bly suffer, who remain incorrigible till the great day of judgment.
5. As God hath called, and they have refused, it is but reasonable to suppose, that they in their turn, shall cry in vain yet nevertheless, though he may long delay, he may hear their cries, & deliver them at last, See Psal. cvii. 13, 14, 15, 16.
David, in his Psalm xxxivth says, "The face of Je HOVAH is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth." Our translators not understanding, or not entertaining an idea of the future Restoration, add, "The righteous cry, and JEHOVAH heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles." Whereas the Holy Ghost has put no such words as the righteous into the text there; but after saying, that the face of JEHOVAH is against them that do evil, to destroy them out of the world, and to make them forgotten, and their names to cease upon the earth, it adds, a word that signifies crying, and then says, "And JEHOVAH heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles :" See ver. 16, 37. This seems, indeed, like the doctrine of the Bible, which elsewhere says, speaking of the notoriously wicked; 0 my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind. As the fire burneth the wood, and as the flame setteth the mountain on fire; so persecute them with thy tempest, aud make them afraid with thy storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O JEHOVAH. Let them be confounded, and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish. And they shall know (as the Hebrew word signifies, and as it is rendered in the old translation) that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth," Psal. lxxxiii. 13, 18. Here we see, in a beautiful and clear manner, that one grand design of God in bringing judgments, and even what is called utter destruction, upon men, is that they may know that he is JEHOVAH, the true God;