Sidor som bilder

For what imaginable reason should our Saviour speak so explicitly and so repeatedly of the perpetuity of the fire, unless it were to be the perpetual instrument of punishment to the sinner? Its duration is mentioned by our Saviour, as a weighty motive to deter from crimes. But of what importance is it to the wicked, whether the fire, from which they are delivered be extinguished, or maintained?

Concerning those, in the invisible world, it is said, “Let him, who is unjust, be unjust still, and let him, who is filthy, be filthy still."-What is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?-To the wicked God says, "I will laugh at your calamity and mock, when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction as a whirlwind."-It is said of the wicked, that they "shall be destroyed without remedy:" and repeatedly, that their " hopes shall perish."


Further, our Saviour said concerning Judas, " It had been good for that man, if he had not been born." As an argument against the final salvation of all men, this passage is conclusive. For, if salvation is universal, Judas is not excluded. But if Judas partakes of salvation, his existence is inexpressibly valuable. Suppose him to endure as great sufferings as you please, yet being limited, they bear no proportion to the glory, which is to follow. His existence on the whole, would therefore, be to him, immeasurably advantageous.

It would be easy to accumulate passages of scripture, similar, in their import, to those which have been adduced. It is believed, however, that the evidence already exhibited is sufficient to prove, that the punishment of the wicked has no end. But to prove a doctrine, is one thing: to make men feel and live, as if it were true, is another. The latter, in regard to the doctrine, now discussed, is far the more difficult. By persons, who entertain a holy confidence in the government of God, the subject may, perhaps, be contemplated without agitation, though not without the

most profound and awful solemnity. But, that persons who make no pretensions to piety, who have scarcely considered what is implied in the term, and would even be ashamed to be numbered among its votaries-that such persons should without anxiety, and the highest degree of terror, reflect on the doctrine of eternal punishment, as either true or probable, is a fact, of which no account can be given, without resorting to that deep depravity in the human heart, which prevents all the powers of man from their proper use, and renders him insensible to his acknowledged interest.

That you may consider what is comprehended in the doctrine, now proved, I borrow the representation of an eloquent French writer. "When I endeavor to represent eternity, said he, I avail myself of whatever I can conceive, most firm and durable: I heap imagination on imagination, conjecture on conjecture. I go from our age to the time of publishing the Gospel, thence to the publication of the law, and from the law to the flood, and from the flood to the creation. I join this epoch to the present time, and I imagine Adam yet living. Had Adam lived till now, and had he lived in misery, had he passed all his time in a fire, or on a rack, what idea must we form of his condition? At what price would we agree to expose ourselves to miseries so great? What imperial glory would appear glorious, were it followed by so much woe? Yet this is not eternity: all this is nothing in comparison of eternity?

"I go further still. I proceed from imagination to imagination, from one supposition to another. I take the greatest number of years that can be imagined. I add ages to ages, millions of ages to millions of ages. I form of all these one fixed number, and I stay my imagination. After this I suppose God to create a world like this which we inhabit. I suppose him creating it by forming one atom after another, and employing in the production of each atom, the time fixed in my calculation, just now mentioned. What numberless ages would the production of such a world, in such a

manner require! Then I suppose the Creator to arrange these atoms, and to pursue the same plan of arranging them as of creating them. What numberless ages would such an arrangement require. Finally, I suppose him to dissolve and annihilate the whole, observing the same method in the dissolution, as he observed in the creation and disposition of the whole. What an immense duration would be consumed! Yet this is not eternity. All this is only a point in comparison of eternity."

"My God," exclaimed the agitated preacher, "one night, passed in a burning fever, or in struggling among the waves of the sea, between life and death, appears of an immense length! It seems to the sufferer, as if the sun had forgot his course, and as if all the laws of nature itself were subverted. What then will be the state of those miserable victims to divine displeasure, who, after they shall have passed through the ages, which we have been describing, will be obliged to make this overwhelming reflection; All this is but an atom of our misery! What will their despair be, when they shall be forced to say to themselves; Again we must revolve through these enormous periods; again we must suffer the privation of celestial happiness: devouring flames again; cruel remorse again; crimes and blasphemies over and over again; Forever, forever! Ah, how severe is this word, even in this life! How great is a misfortune, when it is incapable of relief! How unsupportable, when we are obliged to add forever to it! These irons forever! These chains forever! This prison forever! This universal contempt forever! Poor mortals, how short sighted are you, to call sorrows eternal, which end with your lives! What, this life; this life, which passeth with the rapidity of a weaver's shuttle! This life, which vanisheth like a sleep; is this what you call forever? Ah, absorbing pcriods of eternity, accumulated myriads of ages; these, if I may be allowed to speak so, these will be the forever of the damned!"

In view of this painting, so vivid and so terrific, you per. haps exclaim, the doctrine must be false. Then I will make but one request: it is, that you would abandon every immorality, all profane language, all contempt of the Lord's day, all dissipation; and exhibit the feelings of rational beings and christians, till you can prove the doctrine false, or even incredible. Do this, and I am silent forever.




THOUGH in contemplating human mortality our first anxiety is naturally, and with good reason, directed to the intellectual part of our natures, it is impossible to avoid all anticipation of that change, which death produces in the human body. As the body has been our constant companion from the first moment of our being until the present time; as it has been the medium, through which many pains and many pleasures have been communicated; as its preservation has engrossed so considerable a portion of our thoughts; it is by no means surprising, that a kind of dread is excited, at looking forward to the time, when all its funçtions shall cease, when its parts shall be separated, and when it shall be concealed in the earth, to prevent it from being either injurious or offensive to the living.

Though, without revelation, it would not occur to man, that his body would be re-organized and revived, the thought, whenever suggested, could scarcely fail of meeting the most cordial welcome. The desire of existence is universal.

And, though this desire is peculiarly strong in relation to the soul, it extends with no inconsiderable power to the body. Our present attention will be directed to that doctrine, which teaches the resurrection of the dead.

Though the Stoics believed, that certain revolving periods would produce successive renovations in the system of the universe, it does not appear, that any tenet, similar to the christian doctrine of a resurrection was believed, or even known, among the pagan philosophers. However congenial this doctrine is to the native feelings of man, the opinion, which some of these philosophers entertained as to the inherent malignity of matter, and its influence in contamin ating the soul, would have led them to view an eternal sepa ration from it, as a thing more desirable, than a permanent reunion. When certain Epicureans and Stoics at Athens heard St. Paul discourse of Jesus and the resurrection, they treated him contemptuously: observing that he seemed to be a proclaimer of foreign deities; not undestanding, as it is believed by very learned commentators, the term, which is translated resurrection; but conceiving that avasTaois, as well as Inoous, was represented by St. Paul, as an object of worship.

The doctrine of a resurrection was not expressly taught to the Jews by their inspired lawgiver.

There is but one passage of scripture, I suppose, which will be thought to militate with this remark. It is found in the 22d ch. of Matthew. On a certain occasion, the Sadducees, who denied not only the resurrection, but the existence of angels and spirits, came to our Saviour with design to perplex him, by asking, to whom would belong, in the resurrection, the woman, who had been wife to seven brethren. Jesus, having first answered, that in the resurrection there is neither marrying, nor giving in marriage, adds, "But, as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living?"

« FöregåendeFortsätt »