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What settles this poiot with me, is, if sioners may be converted in the intermediate state, we must give up that important Gospel truth, that every one will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. For if sinners may, and some actually do, repent and obtain forgiveness betwixt death and judgment, they cannot be coodemoed and doomed to suffer the second death for the sins of this life. Bishop Pearson observes, “But neither they “ (the dead) nor we (the living) shall ever escape eternal « flames, except we obtain the favour of God before we “be swallowed by the jaws of death. We must all
appear before the judgment- seat of Christ, that every
one may receive the things done in his body: but if they “ be in the state of salvation now, by virtue of Christ's “ descent into bell, who were numbered amongst the “ damned before his death, at the day of the general “ judgment they must be returned into hell again ; or if
they be received into eternal happiness, it will follow “either that they were not justly condemned to those “ flames at first, according to the general dispensations s of God, or else they did not receive the things done “in their body at the last; which all shall as certainly “ receive, as all appear, &c."*
The reason assigned in Scripture why no means of conversion are, or will be used in hell, is, its inhabitants are incapable of improvement : see Matt. v. 13. Luke xiv. 34, 35. As salt, when it hath lost its savour, cannot recover its seasoning power, but is cast out as good for nothing ; so men may be so far corrupted by sin, as to be incapable of a restoration to moral virtue; and without this, they cannot be restored to happiness.
* Pearson on the Creed, p. 270.
On the Promise of Deliverence out of Hell.
THAT on which I dare venture the whole cause,"? says Mr. Winchester, “ is, that God hath absolutely pro"mised to restore and bring again those whom he hath
utterly destroyed.” Unless God can absolutely” reconcile contradictions and perform impossibilities, Mr. W. must be " utterly” mistaken. Out of many instances, which might be adduced in proof of this strange proposition, Mr. W. says, “I will fix upon one that is full "to the purpose, and unexceptionable: and that is the
case of Sodom and ber daughters, &c. These wicked “nations shall have their captivity returned ; shall "return to their former estate, and shall be received by “ Jerusalem as daughters, in the everlasting covenant : “ Jerusalem and her daughters, more wicked themselves " than Sodom and her daughters, shall be restored at the
same time. It is evident that the inhabitants of Sodom “ will be condemned in the day of judgment, and pun“ished in the lake of fire; consequently the return of " their captivity is not to be expected till after the crea“ tion of the new earth. See Ezek. xvi. 53-63. Matt. “xi. 24."*
Were it not that the whole cause is ventured upon this prophecy, I should not have thought it necessary to pay much attention to it; but since such uncommon stress is laid upon it, I hope the reader will excuse a little prolixity. Let the following remarks be well considered.
1. By Jerusalem and her daughters, is meant the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin ; and by Samaria and her daughters, the other ten tribes. After the revolt of the ten tribes, the king of Judah resided at Jerusalem, and
* Dialogues, p. 179—182.
the King of Israel at Samaria ; hence the two houses of Israel, as well as their countries, are sometimes called by the names of these two cities. See Isa. vii. 9. Jer. Xxxi. 5. Ezek. xxiii.
2. The return of the captivity of Jerusalem and Samapia, or the two houses of Israel, will precede the day of judgment, and cannot be a return from hell. Their return and union are predicted by Isaiah, chap. xi. 11-16. “ The outcasts of Israel and dispersed of 66 Judah,” can intend no less than the two houses of Israel. The prophet speaks of their reconciliation with each other, and of their restoration to their own country. These events had never yet taken place : the prophecy, therefore, remains to be fulblled. They will not be "gathered together” out of hell, but from the four corners of the earth. This event, and some others mentioned by the prophet, cannot take place after the day of judgment.
The whole of Jeremiah xxxi. is a prediction of the return of the two houses of Israel from their long captivity. Here God expressly declares, “I will make a
new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house
of Judah.” Ezekiel cannot allude to a covenant subsequent to this, because this new covenant shall not be broken, nor shall the Jews cease from being a nation before God for ever, ver. 31–36.
There cannot, therefore, be a return from the captivity after this time. This restoration will not be out of hell, but “ from the " north country, and from the coasts of the earth,” ver. 8. And when it takes place, “ there shall dwell in Judah, " and in the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and - they that go forth with flocks,” ver. 24. “ Jerusalem “ also will be rebuilt: The city shall be built to the Lord 6 from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the “ corner,” &c. ver. 38, 39. No one supposes, however, that men will be employed in tilling lands, feeding flocks, and building cities, after the day of judgment,
In Ezek. Xxxvii. 15-28. we have an account of the gathering of the two houses of Israel from among the heathen into their own land, to possess it for ever,-of their being united, and having one king over then,-of their increase of population,-of God entering into everlasting covenant with them, &c. It is certain that this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, and it is certain that the events wbich are here predicted cannot take place after the general judgment. This covenant, like that in chap. xvi. is said to be everlasting, and is, undoubtedly, the same.
The return from captivity mentioned in chap. xvi. cannot refer to a period subsequent to this, because their apostacy after this time is spoken of as impossible, ver. 23-26.
3. The return of the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, will take place at the time when Jesusalem and Samaria, or the two houses of Israel, return from their captivity: “When I shall bring again their cap“tivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and “ the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I
bring again the captivity of thy (Jerusalem's) captives “ in the midst of them. When thy sisters, Sodom and “ her daughters, shall return to their former estate, then “thou (Jerusalem) and thy daughters, shall return to
your former estate.” Ver. 53—55.
It follows from the above that Jerusalem, Samaria, and Sodom will all return from their long captivity in their descendants. But Mr. W. says,
6. There are none of “their (Sodom's) descendants remaining on earth. All
were destroyed by fire and brimstone ; none of the “ inhabitants escaped, Lot and his daughters excepted, “ who were only sojourners." And I ask, Is not every man a sojourner only, in whatever country he be situated ? It is very probable that Lot intended to make Sodom his residence for life. He could not remove his cattle to a more fertile spot: Gen. xiii. 10. He had resided several years in the city, and some of his
daughters were married and settled in it. By the destruction of the country, he lost all his property, and some of his children ; but the captivity of Sodom will be turned in the restoration of his descendants. The Moabites and the Ammonites descended from the children that Lot bad by his daughters : “ Thus were the daugh“ ters of Lot with child by their father. And the first“ born bare a son, and called his name Moab; the
the father of the Moabites. And the younger “she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi ; “ the same is the father of the children of Ammon,' Gen. xix. 37, 38. We read of their restoration in Jer. xlviii. 47.-xlix. 6. " Yet I will bring again the cap“tivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the Lord.-I “ will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, " saith the Lord.”
I think that the restoration of the land of Canaan and Sodom to their former state of fertility, is likewise included in this promise. The fine plain of Sodom was turned into a lake, now called the Dead Sea, when the inhabitants of Sodom were destroyed. . And the land of Canaan, which was so noted for its fruitfulness, is
now, by the unanimous testimony of travellers, a mere desert, When God shall bring again the captivity of Palestine, its fertility will be very great. Amos ix. 13. The land of Sodom was promised to Abraham for his posterity. See Gen. xiii. Before Lot separated from Abraham," he
eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan " that it was well watered every where, before the Lord * destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden < of the Lord. And the Lord said unto Abraham, after " that Lot was separated from bim, Lift up now thise
eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northso ward, and southward, and eastward, For all the land · which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed “ for ever. Arise, walk through the land, in the length ss of it, and in the breadth of it: for I will give it unto
66 lifted up