« السابقةمتابعة »
worm and a perpetual fire, and to be an abhorring to the Christian church of Gentiles..
These remarks seem to bring us directly to the meaning of our text. “It is better for ibee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to be cast into hell,into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” That is, than to be cast into the state of condemnation and outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnasbing of teeth, into which the Jews who reject the gospel will be cast.
Will it now be asked, what will become of those Israelites who rejected the Messiah and have been cast into this state of condemnation? Let St. Paul give the answer ; “ Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved.”
As it has been premised that the testiniony by which a belief in a proposition is to be established, must be free from contradiction, before we can allow that the doctrine of endless misery is proved by the scriptures, they must be found entirely free from any declarations to the contrary. .
St. Paul informs us, that God “ will have all men to be saved," and that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all” men. Now if God's will and the Saviour's ransomn finally fail of their object, what can we prove from the scriptures? If those whom God wills to save, and whom the Saviour ransomed are to be miserable eternally, who are to be saved?
The fact is, there is no such testimony in the scriptures, which can, with tlie least degree of fairness be applied to a state of never ending inisery; and in fact if there were any such testimony in the scriptures, yet it could not prove the proposition, 39 long as there reinain so many positive declarations against it.
Moreover, we feel it to be a duty to state, that in room of straining particular passages, which speak of the punishment of the wicked, so as to favour the idea of unlimited punishinent, we should feel justified in restraining any passage, could such be found, that should seem to favour an opinion so dishonourable to God, and so revolting to our best feelings.
It surely should not require so much direct testimony from the scripture to prove that God will have mercy on all men, as to prove that he will not; for if we judge the divine Being by his conduct to men in this life, the evidence of his universal goodness is perfectly ample. And David says “ the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.”
If what the scriptures assert on this subject be true, and if we may credit the testimony of divine providence we must conclude, that the doctrine that teaches uninerciful, never ending punishment is a direct impeachment of the divine Being ; and is the greatest specimen of ingratitude that is to be found in all the world.
This ungrateful doctrine is now held up to be the guardian of morality! In order to be moral we must solemnly and heartily accuse the kind Father of our spirits, who loves sinners and sent his Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, of having predestinated millions of human beings to a state of endless woe, before the creation of the world! If religion and morality begin with such ingratitude, what will be their progress? and what will be their end?
There is one more argument which the opposer may think ought to be noticed, which is the following; As Jesus says, in our text; “ it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to be cast into hell &c.; as entering into life means entering into a state of eternal felicity, hereafter, so being cast into hell, being the opposite of entering into life, seems to favor the opinion that this hell is in the future, eternal world.
In replying to this argument, we shall bring the principal design of the text before the bearer, and introduce the argument of the Saviour for the purpose for which he used it.
And here the hearer is called on to observe that the objection to which we are now about to reply is, in fact, founded on a mistake. By entering into life, we have no evidence to believe, that the Saviour had any allusion to entering into a state of complete happiness, in the eternal, immortal state; but we have evidence to the contrary of this, even in the text itself. Observe the words ; “it is better for thee to enter into life maimed," &c. He surely did not mean, that men were to enter into a state of immortality in the eternal world maimed.
John Baptist, says; "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” St. John says, “ we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." St. Paul says, “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the laws of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” To the Ephesians he says; “ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ." This is that life into which those who believe and obey the gospel enter maimed.
But the immortal state is represented glorious and complete.
We shall now solicit the attention of the audience to the consideration of what is meant by being
maimed, in our text, and to an illustration of the proper object of the Saviour's argument. Observe the introduction of our subject. “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee cut it off ; for it is better for thee to enter into life maimed,” &c.
The evident meaning of the Saviour seems to be this; if one of your nearest connections in the world, even if one as dear to you as a band, should oppose your yielding obedience to the gospel, part with this dear connection rather than part with divine truth. And though you thereby feel as one who has lost a hand, yet what you gain is more than what you lose. In this connection, Jesus mentions the cutting off of a foot, and the plucking out of an eye for the same cause as the cuting off of the hand; and it is very evident that this recommendation was given on account of the opposition that was constantly in exercise against the cause of truth, and which he knew would increase unto grevious persecution.
Jesus said; “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loreth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it ; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
It was hard indeed for the disciples of Jesus to part with such tender connections, and they, no doubt, felt, in some respect, as people do, who have lost a hand, a foot, or an eye; but then on the other hand, they had Jesus who is worth more than all they lost.
St. Paul was called, to enter into life at the expense of all that he held dear, of a worldy pature. Brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, educated a Pharásee, in high esteein arnong his people, and in the confidence of the bigh Priest of his nation; in his youth when his prospects were exceedingly fattering, and at a moment when he was engaged in rendering all possible service to the interest of those authorities, wbich were hostile to the cause and disciples of Christ, he is called to embrace the Saviour, and to part with all his connections and friends on earth. He entered into life maiined. He felt like one who has lost a hand, a foot, and an ere, but thereby saved his life.' How often would. such a person think of the members gone. How often would he say, O that my hand, my foot, and my eye could again be restored. So it was with St. Paul. He says; “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accused from Christ · for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." And again, he says; “ Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be sared.” But there he saw them, devoted to the worm and fire, discribed by the prophet Isaiah.— They were the Apostle's « kinsmen according to the flesh.”. They were to him like lost meinbers of bis body, for whom he exercised great and continual concern.