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(Ps. xci. 1, 3—6, 10, 11.) “The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old agat 'sha be fat and flourishing.” (Ps. xcii. 12–14.) that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth under ir the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of oil. the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than ru. 13. and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared into her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her." (Prov. iii. 13-18.)
Are the wicked now punished ? Here are scripture answers. “ The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. Evil shall slay the wicked; and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.” (Ps. xxxiv. 16, 21.) “ Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree: yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.” (Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2, 14–16, 35, 36.) “Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways. For the froward is abomination to the Lord : but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just." (Prov. iii. 31–33.) “ He lovein transgression that loveth strife ; and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. He that hath a froward heart findeth no good; and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief." (Prov. xvii. 19, 20.)
66 Who hath woel, who hath sorrow ? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause ? who hath redness of eyes? They that
tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thy heart shall utter perverse things: Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as ie that lieth upon the top of a mast.” (Prov. xxiii. 29—34.) “I
vent by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding: and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well; I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep : so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth ; and thy want as an armed man.” (Prov. xxiv. 30—34.) Let these testimonies suffice out of many, very many; they are enough to establish the bible decision of the point, that “the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner." (Prov. xi. 31.)
In, order, then that punishment should be effective of the ends intended by it-in order to its fulfilling its purposed objects in the scheme of divine government, it is seen that it must be certain ; it must also be a nalural consequence of sin-as necessarily connected with it as other effects are with their causes; and it must also be proportionate to the offence. Hence, the scriptures constantly speak of the divine retributions as being according to our deeds. But does the doctrine of endless misery so represent it? Nay, verily, but quite the contrary.
Charles and Henry were brothers—twin brothers; they grew together until they had attained their 20th year, when Charles died; and as he made no profession of religion, he was sentenced to endless pains. Had Henry died at the same time, he would have shared a similar doom, for he was as destitute of religion as his brother; luckily for him, however, he lived until his 70th year, during the whole of which time he was in an unconverted state, excepting the last six months : for the last six months he had lived a pious life, and, consequently, was admitted after his death to heaven. “ The punishment of sin,” saith the theory of endless misery,“ does not take place here, but is deferred until the parties arrive in the spiritual world." Consequently, Henry
received no punishment in this world for his long career of sinfulness; and it will not be pretended that he received it after he arrived in heaven-he was therefore not punished at all! But how fares it with his brother Charles? He, poor fellow, must welter in unceasing flames for the crimes of his brief existence on earth! Has God rendered to these twins according to their works?
The above, I think, is not a strained view of the subject; on the contrary, it corresponds to facts which, if the notion of endless misery be true, are constantly transpiring. Not only is it commonly supposed that a man may secure an exemption from just punishment by repentance, and after serving sin for the main part of his life, be prepared in a few days, or hours, or even moments, for heavenly bliss—but it is also supposed by Arminians, that if a christian be overtaken with sin at the last, and die unpardoned, although the whole of his former days may have been devoted to virtue, yet he shall sink to hell, and be lost past redemption! It is indeed impossible to avoid innumerable and most gross anomalies in connexion with that doctrine, and for the reason that it is essentially absurd in itself. In the theory of forgiveness and of punishment, as herein advocated, and which has been shown to be in striking agreement with scripture and fact, no such anomalies are involved : it seems to meet all the requirements of reason and justice-it reflects a glory and a praise upon the all-perfect Creator and Ruler of the universe-and it affords a guarantee that the great and benevolent ends of his government, (which can be nothing less than the promotion of the greatest possible amount of eventual good to the greatest possible number of his subjects,) shall be infallibly and triumphantly achieved.
6. That be far from thee,” said Abraham, when God had revealed to him his purpose of destroying the Sodomites, and the patriarch was remonstrating against the involving the good and the, bad in a common destruction-" That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked ; and that the righteous be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. xviii. 25.) Here was a fitting occasiou for Jehovah to have informed the patriarch, (and through him the world,) that in his present dispensations he does not discriminate between persons of different characters, but treats all alike, deferring unto a future period the making of those distinc
tions which justice seems to require. But no such information did Abraham obtain ; on the contrary, the justness of his remonstrance was practically acknowledged. God did not slay the righteous with the wicked, but saved Lot and his family, whilst he overthrew with a judgment of fire the wicked inhabitants of the cities of the plain. Nevertheless, we are informed by modern theologists, in the face of this, and of a hundred kindred scriptural facts, and the experience of all ages and of every day, that a suitable distinction is not here made betwixt the righteous and the wicked; and therefore, that to satisfy the requirements of infinite justice, there must be a future dispensation for this special end. Such is the conclusion-you have seen, reader, that the premises are false, and, consequently, the conclusion is false also.
HELL PUNISHMENT EXAMINED.
Dr. Adam Clark, speaking of the English word hell, says, " It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon helan, which signifies, to cover, conceal, or hide, and hence the tiling, or covering of a house, and the covering of books are to this day called heling; and the phrase to hell is still used as synonymous with to cover, or hide, in several of the western counties of England. Thus the true and primitive meaning of the word hell, was perfectly accordant with the idea suggested by the Hebrew sheol, and the Greek hades, for, as nouns, all three of these words imply something unseen, concealed, or invisible, and have, therefore, with propriety been employed to convey the notion of an unseen world, the grave, or the state of the dead in general.” Thus far the great Arminian commentator.
The learned Archbishop Usher, has expressed the same opinion, as follows: “ We have no word in the French or English language to express the idea conveyed by the Hebrew sheol, or the Greek hades. Our English word hell had anciently this meaning, being derived from the German hell, to hide. Hence, the ancient Irish used to say hell the head,' meaning to cover the head. So that our hell then answered to the Greek hades, which
signifies 'an unseen place.' To this agree, also, Dr. Campbell, of Aberdeen, and many others.
Not only in regard to the literal sense of the Old Testament word rendered hell, are learned commentators agreed, but also in regard to the fact, that the idea of punishment beyond death was not entertained by the Jewish people, nor inculcated in their sacred oracles : this must surely be admitted a highly important concession. Look at it, reader. The Jewish economy continued down to the four thousandth year of the world, and after. For all this period, then, no revelation had been made to man concerning a hell beyond the grave. And although Jehovah had established a church on earth, and revealed to that church his character and his laws; although he addressed the human will by every motive likely to influence it; yet, for four thousand years and more, no disclosure was made relative to a fact the most awful that finite mind can contemplate; a fact (if true) which ought to have been traced in words of flame on every object in nature!!!
There was not in the Hebrew language a word denoting such a state or place as an ultra-mundandhell; for although in our version of the Old Testament, we occasionally meet the word hell, yet it is derived from a terın (sheol) which literally signifies the separate state. The Jews evidently supposed that all the dead go to the same place. Their usual phraseology in regard to a deceased person was, (whatever might have been his character,) “he was gathered to his fathers.” Nor did this relate merely to the body of such individual, for we find it used in reference to those who were interred in foreign lands, as well as to such as were buried in the family cemetery with their progenitors.
That the term sheol suggested no idea to the mind of a Jew answering to the modern signification of the word hell, must be extremely apparent to every candid student of the Old Testament; see for proof the following, arnong numerous similar instances of the application of this term.
When the patriarch Jacob supposed his son Jacob to be torn in pieces by a wild beast, he exclaimed, “I will go down unto [sheol] the grave unto my son, mourning.” (Gen. xxxv. 37.) Job, in the midst of his troubles, supplicated his Maker as follows: “Oh, that thou wouldst hide me in (sheol] the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret till thy wrath be past." (Job, xiii.