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and everlasting state of happiness. But were it generally denied, this denial would not invalidate the divine testimony. Nothing can be more evident than the fact that the inspired writers of both the Old and New Testament had a belief in the doctrine of a future state and a hope of enjoying its felicities immediately after the termination of their earthly pilgrimage. They speak decisively of their expectation of it; and of the consolation the prospect afforded them under their sufferings. And they have exhibited this doctrine as a ground of consolation to all true believers. Now it must be manifest to every student of the Bible that this final state of the righteous is here presented in strong and pointed contrast with the future state of the wicked. If this state of the wicked was not of course final, it would not, in such a number of instances, and in such a variety of forms of expression, be contrasted with the final state of the righteous. In this case it would not be a contrast. But in the passages above quoted there is precisely the same proof that the wicked will be miserable forever, that there is that the righteous will be happy forever. If one can be proved to be unlimited in duration, the other can by the same arguments. These representations are not merely convincing; they are overwhelming These eternal states exert a reciprocal influence, in showing forth the glory of heaven and the misery of hell.
Again, no one of these passages give any intimation of any other state following this, in which they present in contrast the happiness of the righteous and the misery of the wicked. Were not the present a term of probation for the rewards of eternity; and were not the soul capable of exerting its powers and faculties in a state of separation from the body; and did it not immediately on leaving the body enter into a state of happiness or misery ; and were the punishment of the wicked of limited duration only, and designed as a kind of discipline to correct their evil dispositions and vicious habits; and were all men to be eventually restored to purity and happiness we should have expected that something like this would have been intimated when the future states of men are described. But nothing like this occurs in any of the foregoing passages, nor in
any other. And shall we presume to build a theory of religious truth upon the mere silence of revelation? Shall we presume to advance as a doctrine of the Bible a sentiment, for the support of which we have neither precept nor example ?
But once more: The phraseology of the foregoing passages, or of a greater part of them, is inconsistent with any other state following that which they describe. · On the supposition that salvation had been appointed as the ultimate portion of all men; then the men of this world had not had their portion in this life, but would equally with the righteous behold the face of God in righteousness, and be satisfied in his likeness. Their expectation of a glorious immortality would not perish, but end in gladness; and though driven away in their wickedness, yet they would have hope in their death, and this hope would not prove illusive. Though transgressors shall be destroyed, and the end of the wicked cut off, yet their end shall be, peace as well as that of the perfect and upright man. The desire of the wicked for endless bliss, shall not perish, but be gratified. Though it is said that some of the multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt, and though the antithesis determines the word everlasting to mean the same when applied to shame and contempt as when applied to life; yet on the hypothesis which we are opposing, the wicked who sleep in the dust of the earth shall eventually awake to everlasting life equally with the righteous. The broad way, our Saviour tells us, leadeth to destruction. Now if he believed and taught the final salvation of all men, would he not have honestly told his hearers that there is no way to destruction (or divine punishment after death), and that, of course, none are in danger of going there; and instead of saying strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, would he not have declared the more cheering and benevolent idea that the gate of heaven is wide and that all will eventually find it? On this principle all shall enter the kingdom of heaven, whether they do, or do not the will of God. The tares will not be gathered and bound in bundles to be burned, but will be changed into wheat, and gathered into the
barn. Those who offend and do iniquity shall shine forth in the kingdom of God as well as the righteous. The cursed as well as the blessed shall inherit the kingdom of God, which, by the way, was also prepared for them from the foundation of the world. They shall not go away into everlasting punishment but into life eternal. Those who believe not in Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life as well as those who believe in him. On this principle, to come forth to the resurrection of danınation is the same as to come forth to the resurrection of life. Those who have received their consolation in this life, and on whom the Son of man hath pronounced a woe, will share in his beatitudes and receive a great and glorious reward in heaven. Though the sinner reap corruption, as the fruit of his sowing to the flesh, yet that corruption shall not be the opposite of everlasting life, since it will issue in it. Though they bear briers and thorns, yet their end is not to be burned, but to obtain salvation. Whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall not have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, but shall inherit all things, and shall have equal right to the tree of life with those who obey the commandments of God. Thus we see, that the phraseology of the foregoing passages is inconsistent with any other state following that which they describe.
From these considerations, it appears that these passages are designed to express the final tate of men. If so, they in effect express the endless punishment of the wicked: for if the description here given of the portion of the wicked, denotes their final state, there is no possibility of another state succeeding it. And this truth the sacred Oracles invariably teach. They represent man as being placed in this world on trial for the rewards of eternity, and that he will here receive that impress of character which will remain forever. It is on this ground that the spirit of inspiration urges us to do with our might what our hand findeth to do, and assures us that the night cometh wherein no man can work. If our present character will have no influence on our future destiny, why this preparation? why this discipline of our moral nature ? why this moulding our hearts to sobriety and devotion ? why our Saviour's tears over his incorrigible enemies? why the solicitude of the apostles
for the salvation of men ? and why the joy of angels over repenting sinners? The Scriptures invariably express and imply, that at the winding up of all earthly scenes, the final states of men will be unalterably fixed.—“ He that is unjust let him be unjust still ; and he which is filthy let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous let him be righteous still; and he that is holy let him be holy still.” All who contend for a successive duration acknowledge that there will be a period when the states of all rational creatures will be fixed forever. This period I conceive to be at death, but if it be not till after the last judgment, those that are then unholy and filthy must remain so still. There will be no change in their character. The Psalmist asks in language which implies a strong negation, « Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave, or thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” Those then who enter the future state in an unholy character, must retain that character forever; and of course must be excluded from heaven, for “nothing unclean shall be admitted there ; without holiness no man shall see the Lord ; and except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." The scriptures have in no single instance given us the most remote hint, that God will ever vouchsafe his mercy and grace to those who die in their sins, or that he will annihilate his rebellious creatures; but every thing warrants the opposite conclusion. Consequently the allotments of the righteous and the wicked will be as far asunder as heaven and hell, as unlike as endless joy and endless sorrow.
Whoever then hopes to enter heaven without a preparation for it in the present life, will meet with an awful disappointment.
“ Pure are the joys, above the sky,
And all the region peace;
Can see, or taste the bliss.
Pollution, sin, and shame;
But followers of the Lamb."
Nor let it be imagined that God will interpose at the hour of death and by an exertion of his power and benevolence destroy the principles of sin, and take the wicked up to the joys of heaven. Such an inference in every individual case would imply a continued mira cle, and would subvert the established order of the divine govern. ment; as it would supercede the necessity of all those moral instructions and moral preparations which God has appointed for rendering his people “ meet for the inheritance of the saints in light ;" and would prevent the moral renovation of the world which is now being gradually effected by the combined exertions of those who are the “light of the world,” and the “salt of the earth.” It is true the mercy of God is infinite, and no abandoned sinner need despair while he remains within the confines of the present state. But if he pass from time to eternity under the power of revengeful and depraved passions, he has no ground to hope that he will ever afterwards be admitted to the felicity of heaven. He must go away into everlasting punishment..
I remark :: III. THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED IN THE FUTURE WORLD, IS SOMETIMES SPOKEN OF IN THE SCRIPTURES BY A NEGA* TINE FORM OF EXPRESSION; AND THEN THE IDEA CONVEYED IS,
THAT IT WILL BE ENDLESS.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him : but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall never be forgiven him neither in this world, neither in the world to come. -Between
you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot ; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. -He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.- I
go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins : whither I go, ye cannot come. -Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with man