« PreviousContinue »
tares bound in bundles and burned in that capacity, will increase the fury of the flame that shall consume each individual tare, so must the wicked be a torment to each other in a future state. O “Lord gather not my soul with sinners,” but let it be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord !"
7. Once more. Another constituent part of future punishment is the wraih of God fastening upon a guilty conscience. What must it be to see yourselves surrounded by a just and holy God and to meet his piercing, withering glance, fixed upon you wherever you turn your eye! How dreadful to see the eternal God, the Sovreign of the universe, who has been through time loading you with his favors, for which you have been ungrateful, and which you have devoted to the vilest purposes, now regarding you with severe displeasure. O this will be indeed a fire to the soul that shall burn to the lowest hell! a fire that will be felt in all the faculties of the soul, when a God of inflexible justice shall avenge himself, his law, his Son, his Spirit, and his covenant, on all the despisers of the * riches of his grace. Oh! it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! Who of us, my hearers, can stand before the indignation of the Almighty, whose anger burns to the lowest hell? The anguish of this flame is as much greater than that of any material fire as the Creator is superior to the creature.
Such I conceive to be the principal ingredients in the future cup of the wicked. O then, my friends, be fearful lest after all that has been said and done, you should by lamentable experience find that your passions and desires, your understanding, your consciousness of loss, your reflections, the reproaches of your conscience, the recognition of your companions in guilt, and the wrath of a holy and just God should constitute a worm that will feed on your souls forever, and be a fire in your breasts that shall never be quenched.
Do you hope for future happiness? The foundation of this is substantially the same as that which forms the basis of happiness in this world. As in the present life there are certain endowments necessary for securing substantial happiness, so there are certain moral qualifications indispensably requisite in order to prepare us
for the employments and bliss of the life to come. For it is a decree of Heaven-founded on the moral laws which govern the universe, which, like the law of the Medes and Persians, cannot be changed-i hat, “ Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” The foundation of future felicity must be laid in “ repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” We must be convinced of our inherent depravity as the descendants of the first Adam; of the guilt and demerit of our offences; of the spotless purity and infinite rectitude of that Being whom we have offended; and of the awful consequences of unrepentant guilt. We must view the extent and purity of the divine law. We must renounce all hope of justification before God, by our works, and must receive with humility and gratitude that full and free salvation which is exhibited in the gospel, and must “ behold” by an eye of faith “ the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” We must depend alone on the aid of the Spirit to enable us to subdue the corrupt propensities of our natures, to renew our souls after the Divine image, and to inspire us to abound in all those fruits of righteousness which are to the praise and glory of God. And you must give all diligence to make your calling and election sure, “by adding to your faith, courage ; and to courage, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, the love of the brethren; and to love of the brethren, love to all men.—And thus there shall be richly ministered to you an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus · Christ.” This
moy the Lord dispose.you to do; and to his name be all the glory, world without end. Amen.
* 2 Pet. i. 5-7, 11.-Macknight's Translation,
ON THE METHODS BY WHICH MODERN OBJECTORS TO THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT, EVADE THE
FORCE OF SCRIPTURE TESTIMONY RESPECTING
Jeremiah xxiii: 16, 17.-" Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Hearken
not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make
you vain : they speak a rîsion of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said ye shall have peace ; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you."
On former occasions, I have stated the proofs of endless punishment. If you have fully examined these proofs, and weighed them as on a dying pillow, you are, I think, reduced to this alternative; either to admit the doctrine we have endeavored to establish, or to reject the authority of the Bible. The Scriptures, as we have already shown, do, in a variety of instances, and in the most unequivocal manner, assert the endless punishment of the wicked. Now, if they do at the same time assert the contrary, they must be regarded as a medley of absurdity and contradiction, and ought to be rejected as an unsafe guide in matters of faith and practice. A book, which is calculated in its nature and tendency to lead men astray in an article of vital importance to their present and future well-being, ought to be put out of their hands, and consigned to oblivion.
Indeed, it may be fairly questioned whether the objectors to endless punishment, have much respect for the authority of the Bible. Do they not often question the credibility of portions of Scripture history ? and are not their views of its authenticity and divine inspiration very, vague and undetermined ? True, they admit the testimony of Scripture when they think it favors their views; and what class of errorists do not the same? But they seem to find but little difficulty in rejecting it, when it is against them. Do they not, when closely pursued and driven from all their subterfuges by the force of Scripture arguments, frankly confess oftentimes, that they do not believe all that the Bible says?
Hence it is a fact, that Infidels and Atheists rejoice in the spread of those sentiments peculiar to the objectors in question, as being favorable to their views; and they are generally the advocates and supporters of these several denominations of objectors, when they advocate and support any. In all our towns and villages where they are not sufficiently numerous to organize themselves into a distinct society, they are at the present day extensively uniting their efforts with these several denominations, giving their money to erect meeting-houses ; to educate and support ministers; to endow colleges and Theological schools; and to aid in the circulation of their religious publications. And this they do, as they have in some instances acknowledged, not because they believe in the distinguishing sentiments of these religious sects, but because they regard them as best adapted to prepare the way for what they deem the best of all; barefaced Deism, and downright Atheism. Abner Kneeland, that apostle of Infidelity, who was once a distinguished Universalist preacher, thus describes the difference between his former sentiments and those which he holds at the present time: “The difference between these Ultra Universalists, as Adin Ballou calls them, and us Free Inquirers, is nothing more than a dream of the imagination, against which we shall not contend, and for which
there can be no real objection in not contending." I know that Universalists will be offended at this, and say it is not a fair representation of their sentiments. But let them show by facts and argnments, and by their fruits that they are here misrepresented; and that their sentiments are not substantially the same as those of the Free Inquirers. Until this is done, we shall believe that Universalism not only has a tendency to Infidelity, but is a species of it. This same remark might, with the strictest propriety, be extended to other classes of objectors. They all maintain the doctrine of philosophical necessity, or fate, and the sufficiency of human reason, independent of Revelation, to ascertain what is truth. They deny the doctrine of total depravity of human nature ; the divinity, incarnation, and vicarious sufferings of Christ; the doctrine of the Trinity, future judgment, and endless punishment. And they sustain their sentiments by positive assertions, dexterous sophistry, and false principles of interpretation. In these and many other points there is a striking analogy between these objectors, and Infidels.
I grant that these religious sects, who deny the doctrine of endless punishment, profess to regard the Bible as the word of God. But do they not deny in practice what they admit in theory? Do they not give painful evidence, in treating the sacred Oracles with levity, and by asserting that they contain mistakes in philosophy. errors in chronology, and discrepancies in historical facts; that their professed veneration for the Bible is a mere garb which they bave stolen from the sanctuary, by means of which they may the better deceive those who are “ willingly ignorant”? Even when they recur to the Scriptures in proving or defending their favorite systems, how is the sacred text tortured to make it speak what was never intended by the Holy Ghost! This passage and that, they will tell us, have a figurative meaning, and then they assume the prerogative to understand the figure as they please. Thus they can make the Scriptures mean anything or nothing, just as it suits their systems? I do not deny that there are figures and metaphors in the Bible, and some of them, in the Old Testament especially, diffi.