« AnteriorContinuar »
rich and the men of the world in no other sense have their portion in this life, than the rest of men.-They have some good things in this world, but infinitely the greatest part of their happiness is to be enjoyed in the world to come, and what they enjoy here, is nothing in comparison with what they are to enjoy hereafter. More than this, cannot be said of any man,
Mark ix. 43-49; "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee, to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell-fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Matt. iii. 12; "Whose fan is in his hand, and he shall thoroughly purge his floor; and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
John iii. 36," He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." If all are to be saved, then all will see life and enjoy it. Should it be said, that the meaning of this text is barely, that he that believeth not, shall not see life, while he remains an unbeliever; it may be observed, that this sense of the text will admit the idea, that unbelievers may all become believers, at death, or at some future time in life; as it holds forth no more, than that a man while an unbeliever, shall not be admitted to life; and says nothing but that all unbelievers may become be
lievers in this life, or at death; and therefore may attain to life and salvation in heaven, just as soon as those, who are now believers. But can any man bring himself to believe, that this text was not designed to teach us, but that unbelievers will attain to the life and salvation of heaven as soon as believers? If that be the true sense, this text teaches us no more concerning unbelievers, than is true concerning all saints in this state of imperfection. It may on this supposition be said, with equal truth, and in the same sense, that no imperfect saint shall see life, as that no unbeliever shall see life. It is plain, that this text was meant to exhibit some privilege of the believer above the unbeliever. But if the construction, now under consideration, be the true one, and universal salvation be true, what is that privilege? The believer has the promise of an endless life; so has the unbeliever in common with all mankind. The believer cannot perhaps be admitted to the inheritance of that promise, within less than ten or twenty years. Within the same time the unbeliever may be admitted to the same inheritance, whether he be admitted to it at death, or in consequence of some discipline in hell, by which he is led to repentance and faith. The believer has the present comfort of anticipating his future happiness; there is on the plan of universal salvation, abundant foundation for the same anticipation to the unbeliever. It is true, the unbeliever is not yet prepared for the possession of heavenly happiness: neither is the believer during his present imperfection.
Luke xvi. 26; "And besides all this, between us and 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." Matt. vi. 15; "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Chap. xxiii. 34,
35; "And his Lord was wróth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." Heb. vi. 8; "That which beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."-How is the end of any man to be burned, if all shall finally be saved? Luke xiv. 24; "For I say unto you, that none of those men who were bidden, shall taste of my supper." Chap. xiii. 25, 26, 27; "When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not, whence you are-I tell you, I know you not, whence you are, depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."-Rev. xxii. 11, 12; "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. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be."-These last words, with verse 10th, determine this text to refer to the general judgment.-The words of the tenth verse are, "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand." But a period ages of ages after the general judgment cannot be said to come quickly, and to be at hand.
If to these texts it should be said, that they mean no more, than that they cannot as yet be saved, though they will be saved in proper time; I answer, (1) That there is no appearance in the texts themselves, of such a sense; (2) That if that were the true sense, they would mean no more, than might be said, mutatis mutandis, of all real saints, who are not about to die immediately; (3) That
that sense would imply, either that the future punishment of the wicked is a mere wholesome discipline, or that those who die impenitent do not deserve endless punishment. If they pass the great gulf as soon as they repent, their punishment is a mere wholesome discipline: but that it is not a mere wholesome discipline, I have endeavoured to show in Chap. ii. and iii. If they suffer the full punishment, which they deserve, and then come out, they are saved without forgiveness, and they never deserved an endless punishment, the contrary to which I have endeavoured to prove in Chap. vi. To those chapters I beg leave to refer the reader, for what might be said here in further answer to this objection.—If because the damned cannot pass the great gulf at present, it be said, There is a great gulf fixed, so that they cannot pass thence to heaven, then because a saint is not about to die at present, it might with propriety be said, there is at great gulf fixed between him and heaven, so that he can. not pass it. If those scriptural expressions, "Let him be unjust still,”—“Great gulf fixed, so that they cannot pass,"" Depart, I know you not," "Shall not taste of my supper," &c. mean no more, than that they shall remain unjust, &c. for the present: why may not the following expressions-" Shall not come into condemnation,"" Are justified from all things,"" Is passed from death unto life,”—&c. mean no more, than that the saints shall not come into condemnation for the present, or for some time to come ?-Are for the present justified from all things? Is for the present passed from death unto life?
Rev. iii. 5; "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." Does not this text plainly hold forth, that the names of all who do not overcome, shall be blotted out of the book of life; and
that Christ will not confess their names before the Father, and before his angels? Chap. xiii. 8; "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world," Chap. xxi. 27; "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." Psal. lxix. 27, 28; "Add iniquity to their iniquity, and let them not come into thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous." Now will any be saved, whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life? In the quotation from Rev. xxi. 27, it is expressly asserted, that no one who defileth, worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, shall enter the heavenly city; but they only who are written in the Lamb's book of life. Therefore not only will not all men be saved, as some will be excluded the heavenly city; but some men have not their names written in the Lamb's book of life, and this is a further evidence, that all will not be saved.
It is said, that "sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous," (Psal. i. 5,) and the representation in the parables of our Lord, is, that after the general judgment, the tares and chaff shall be no more mixed with the wheat; nor the good with the bad fish. Nor is there any intimation that the tares or the chaff will become wheat, or the bad putrid fish become good; but the contrary is plainly implied in the parables themselves. Besides, the judgment is said to be eternal, alavio,* doubtless with respect to the endless and unchangeable
* Which word, I hope, from what has been already discovered, in the investigation of its true sense, I have a right to consider as used in the endless sense.