Page images
PDF
EPUB

would be defeating the very object of that salutary discipline under which they were to be placed. You see then, my hearers, how absurd the arguments drawn from the sympathies of our nature against the doctrine of endless punishment. The argument drawn from the circumstance that endless punishment is abhorrent to their feelings, and that God will not inflict it, lies as we have seen equally against the sufferings of this world and against matter of fact, and therefore it cannot be sound. The truth is, on this subject and all others, feelings must all yield to matter of fact, and to actual experience. Whatever is, is truth, and whatever contradicts it is falsehood.

11. It is said that the proper meaning of the term Gospel is glad tidings, and it is glad tidings to all men. But if only a select number are to enjoy its benefits, how can it be glad tidings to all? It can certainly be no favor, no matter of joy to those who are finally lost.. In reply to this argument, I would enquire is it necessary in order to impart value to a favor, that it be actually received ? Did the man in the parable who made a splendid feast and bade many, manifest no kindness to those who rejected his invitations ? Suppose a hundred criminals under sentence of death and waiting their execution, would it be no favor to them if the chief magistrate should order the doors of their prison to be set open and a full and free pardon to be offered to them, on condition of their confessing their guilt and promising amendment, unless all should accept his offer? Would not the offer in itself be glad tidings, even if they should all reject it, and die in prison or be led forth to execution? Are not the tidings of an infallible remedy for a disease with which we may be afflicted good tidings, whether we regard them or not? And are not the tidings just as good if we neglect them and die through our neglect, as if we obtain the remedy and thereby secure a restoration to health? The invitation of the gospel is full and free. None are excluded from the offers of mercy who do not exclude themselves. All who will may accept them, and this is all that is necessary in order to render the gospel glad tidings. Whether it be received or rejected does not in the least alter its

[ocr errors]

nature and design. It does not cease to be glad tidings by being perverted, abused, and rejected to our ruin.

12. It is said men receive in this world all the punishment they deserve, and therefore cannot be justly punished beyond this life. This argument we have already noticed,* but it may be expedient and proper to give it a further examination. This argument takes for granted that wicked men are punished in the present life according to the guilt and demerit of their sins.

But this is false in fact. Admit if you please that the more aggravated crimes are usually followed by something like a speedy retribution; what punishment, let me ask, do they endure who contemn God, who are unjust, cruel, proud, selfish, avaricious and revengeful? Do you say remorse of conscience? The consciences of some are seared as with a hot iron, so as to be past feeling: What remorse of conscience has a West India pirate, a highway robber, or a nightly assassin. They do not feel half so much as a tender-hearted christian feels for neglecting family or secret devotions, or indulging in a worldly minded spirit for a single day. The truth is, the more wicked a man is, the less he suffers from remorse of conscience, so that if this be the appointed punishment of the wicked, the more sinful they are the less punishment they will have to endure. Let such a sentiment be exhibited, and will it deter men from the commission of sin ?

This doctrine is impossible in the very nature of things. If the sinner must suffer the whole punishment of his sins, must bear the whole weight of his transgressions, how can he receive all bis punishment in this life? How can that man who commits suicide, and by that sin passes beyond the boundaries of time into eternity, suffer the punishment of his sins? He commits one of the greatest crimes, and yet does not remain a moment in the world to suffer for it. Hence he must suffer in a future state, as he does not remain a moment after his crime to suffer in this.

This doctrine is contrary to scripture. The general course of Providence is accurately described in the words of our Saviour,

• Lecture v.

[ocr errors]

“He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust.” That God will reward every man according to the deeds done in his body, is the concurrent testimony of the Bible. Now as facts prove that some men are more wicked than others, it must also be proved that the wicked suffer more in this life than the righteous, and that the more wicked a man is the more he must suffer. This has never been done. The language of scripture as well as the universal experience and observation of mankind bear testimony to the contrary. Consequently this doctrine under consideration is contrary to scripture.

If men are punished in the present life according to their deserts, then the scheme which advocates the salvation of all men is false. For this goes to prove that all men are saved. But from what are they saved? They are saved from nothing if they endure the whole penalty of the law. It is absurd to talk of salvation after men have received all the punishment due to their offences and thereby fully satisfied the claims of divine justice. Full punishment and free salvation are totally inconsistent with each other. Now if you assert that all are punished according to their deserts, then none are saved. But if you say all are saved, then none are punished as they deserve. I am not unaware of the evasion of some respecting the meaning of the term salvation. They would persuade us that it is deliverance from the dominion only and not from the guilt of sin. But does this idea accord with scripture. Does that explain salvation to mean simply the deliverance from the power of sin. Is all that it says of pardon, forgiveness, and remission of sin, without meaning? Is not pardon a deliverance from the punishment of sin, and remission a release from the penalty of the divine law ? To explain these terms, then, to denote only freedom from the power of sin, furnishes an example of the facility with which some can wrest the scriptures, and perverts the plainest words of the lan, guage.

These arguments I have thus briefly noticed, are, I believe, the strongest and most plausible that are adduced by the objectors to endless punishment, against that doctrine and in favor of the final

[graphic]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

salvation of all men. Whether they have been fairly met and answered in this discourse, I leave it with the judgment of the serious and candid to decide. To me it appears that the arguments which I have noticed, are altogether fallacious, built upon unfounded assumptions, and perverted inferences; and that they are not supported by a single text of scripture. If others think otherwise, I hope they will investigate the subject with candor. As truth is important, and the result of our investigations may carry with them eternal consequences, let us seek the truth with candor and prayer and embrace it with joy, that we may be saved by its influence.

[ocr errors][merged small]

ON THE SOURCES, THE EVIL NATURE, AND THE DANGEROUS MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF A SCHEME, WHICH DENIES THE DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT, AND ADVO

CATES THE FINAL SALVATION OF ALL MEN.

Proverbs xix: 27.—“ Cease, my son, to hear the instruction which

causeth to err from the words of knowledge."

PRINCIPLES are not objects of speculation merely; they are the foundation and frame-work of character. They are the main-springs of purpose and action, and enter into the essence of all we do. Moral beings are in this life, and in that which is to come, just what they are in principle. “ As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” And as principles are the immediate and chief objects of God's cognizance in moral being, so they form the principal ground of acquittal or condemnation at his righteous tribunal. Good principles are the primary elements of a good character. It is, therefore, just as important that we should adopt correct principles, as it is, that we should here sustain a character morally good; and hereafter enjoy the presence and favor of Almighty God.

The scriptures are very full and explicit, in representations of the unholy and destructive influence of erroneous principles. They represent them as increasing unto more ungodliness, and eating as doth a gangrene.

They are fruitfnl and productive ; and on this account they are the more dangerous. They will destroy the soul as a gangrene destroys the body. Let a system of false opinions, in respect to religion, once get possession of any mind, and whật

« PreviousContinue »