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Apac mi. 15. For witho
whoremongers, and mur serer loreth and m
have no inhen
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and " and murderers, and idolaters, and who
Cake and maketh a lie. See Num. C. and the tests there referred to. uch as these are excluded out of the holy city,
no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God, but are cast out into outer darkness, where Call be weeping and gnashing of teeth; have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, in the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels ; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.
eth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man
One of the first texts we quoted above is John the Baptist's testimony of our Saviour, Matt. iii. 12. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. “ This text contains,” says Dr. Clarke, “ a distinct declaration, that the great design of “ God, as in every dispensation of religion in gene“ ral, so in the gospel more particularly, is to sepa“ rate the evil from the good by proper trials : and " that this design will be effectually accomplished “ by Christ; in the present life partly, and to cer
“ tain degrees; in the future life perfectly, totally, “ and finally.” With this declaration of the Baptist's, almost in the beginning of the New Testament, agree our Lord's own words here, at the end of it. We see, in this last chapter of the Revelation, the complete establishment of the kingdom and city of God; when the wicked shall be separated from among the just, totally and for ever. And this evidently appears, from all the texts produced in these two chapters, to be the uniform doctrine of the New Testament, from one end of it to the other,
СНАР. ІІІ. In which the doctrine collected from the texts
above cited is further asserted, and reconciled with the moral perfections of God.
IT is abundantly clear from the two preceding chapters, that at the day of judgment a separation will be made between the righteous and the wicked. This indeed, excepting the circumstance of the time, is not so properly a point of revelation, as the fundamental principle of all religion, as well natural as revealed : for he that cometh to God, in any act of religion, or religious worship, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. xi. 6. Without this retribution, which implies punishment as well as reward, (though it was to the apostle's purpose here to mention only the latter,) religion signifies nothing; the same end, and the same event would come alike to all men ; and as no distinction would be made either here or hereafter, between the good and the bad, God Almighty could not be said to be the moral Governor and Judge of the world. It is therefore a certain, clear, and fundamental principle of all religion, that there will be a retribution both to good and bad. The scriptures, especially of the New Testament, teach us, that this retribution will be made at the day of judgment; then shall the righteous and the wicked be separated from one another, and these shall go away into everlasting punish
ment; but the righteous into life eternal. See Num. XXII.
The question we are immediately concerned in is, Whether this punishment of the wicked, subsequent to the day of judgment, will be strictly everlasting, or eternal? It will appear plainly to any one who reads the testimonies produced above, which way the language of the New Testament leans in this point. This certainly leads us to the affirmative side of the question. Archbishop Tillotson, in his famous Sermon on the subject, makes it one head of his discourse to shew, “ That the eternal punish“ ment of wicked men in another world is plainly " threatened in scripture.” This is plain, if words can threaten any thing plainly; or if it be plainly promised that the life of the righteous in another world will be eternal. And this, I suspect, is the real reason at bottom, though some other pretences are suggested, (of which more in its proper place,) why Mr. Whiston denies both. This gentleman takes the liberty to assert, that eternal punishments are entirely unjust in their own nature ; extremely cruel and barbarous, both in the threatening and in the execution a. Here, we see, lies the root of the matter. Texts and testimonies of scripture, and fathers, may be quoted, in a manner, such a manner as it is; but what is all this to the purpose ? the case is prejudged, and in effect determined beforehand. And what sentence can one expect from a judge, who at the same time that he calls in witnesses, and pretends to examine them, makes a declaration that, however, let them say what they will, the cause is so absurd, or so unjust in its own na
a P. 136.
ture, that no evidence
" riis stare videt,
once will be sufficient to prove it vich a great opposer of the eternity ishment, yet is forced to own that the ems to be on the other side: “ Natura abhorret ab ipso nomine pænarum æter. &c. At scriptura sacra a partibus contracare videtur b.” “ But then reason,” he says, nature of God, and the nature of things, reclaim idly.” We see where the thing rests. It would adily be acknowledged that the scripture teaches fernal punishments, if the doctrine could be reconciled with reason, and our natural notions of God's
b De Statu Mort. et Resurg. p. 288. edit. 2da. After the words above quoted, he goes on thus :-“Humani generis amantissi“mus Jesus Christus, aperte et explicite has penas dæmonum " et damnatorum æternas appellat; cum bonorum et malorum “ explicans fata, sententiam in improbos hac formula pronunciat; “ Execrati abite a me in ignem æternum, qui paratus est Diabolo “ et angelis ejus, Matt. xxv. 41. Eodem sensu, tritico in horreuni “ collecto, paleam exurendam dicit igne inextincto, Matt. ïïi. 12. “Et in gehenna non mori vermem nec extingui ignem, Mar. ix. 44. “ Hæc testari videntur, idque ex ore Christi, improborum pænas “ fore æternas et interminatas. Neque aliter loquuntur prophetæ “ et apostoli, Dan. xii. 2. 2 Thess. i. 9."—What can give a man, who owns all this, the hardiness to contradict it? and who admits too at the same time, that the rule of interpretation “a li“ tera non recedendum esse sine necessitate." Why truly, there are reasons, “manifest reasons and invincible arguments," against this doctrine : that is, against the plain and explicit declarations of Jesus Christ himself, the prophets, and apostles. On the contrary, I am satisfied, first, that there are no such reasons : and, secondly, that if there were, it is not likely that men should be able to discover them. It cannot be consistent with the wisdom of God to threaten what is inconsistent with any known perfection of his nature to execute. Such conduct is below the wisdom of an earthly lawgiver; and such empty threats, as soon as they were discovered to be so, would only expose hini and his laws to contempt.