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they task themselves, with the labor of deducing a different sense from every passage, which teaches it. Though, however, most of them in our day adopt the notion of a final restoration of the wicked, admitting that they will suffer for a season, yet there are those who contend for the immediate salvation of the whole world. To them the preceding arguments are addressed.
3. The conclusion to which we have arrived exhibits sin as a very great evil. How offensive to God is the conduct, which involves men in the miseries of hell, even if those miseries are temporary! That must be more odious and abominable than mankind are apt to allow, which induces a good and merciful Being, to execute on the wicked such a punishment, as indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, denote. Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the smoke of a bottomless pit, the flames of a lake of fire, are terrible descriptions. This life presents no parallel to the pain and agony, here figured forth. But sin is the cause of it. What men often regard of trivial consequence, of casual occurrence, and of indifferent character in the sight of
God, produces not only mental and bodily anguish here, but more horrid sufferings hereafter. On what principle of prudence then, is sin so often treated as a harmless gaiety or a pardonable weakness. It seems strange, if they believe their own creed, that those who admit the temporary punishment of the wicked, are not startled at this reflected picture of human depravity. But perhaps the spirit of unbelief which causes them to doubt the doctrine of eternal punishment, impairs the force of conviction, in respect to a temporary infliction. However this may be, there is no surer inference from our doctrine than the inexpressible odiousness of sin.
4. Too great cfforts and sacrifices to rescue men from perdition, cannot be made. The alarm of the awakened sinner, the intense anxiety of one pleading for pardon, the urgent entreaties of friends, the affectionate warnings and persuasive eloquence of the pulpit, feebly express the value of the soul. It is a theme, which should engross every mind; it should draw to itself the resources of Christendom, fill the coffers of every evangelical society, send the missionaries of the cross throughout the world, give the bible to every family, re
form the press, impart to the pulpit new weight and unction, break up every intemperate habit, render solitary every haunt of vice, it should make the world solemn and produce the universal enquiry;—“ what shall I do to be saved." - All this is true, were the wicked eventually to be reprieved. And is religious solicitude useless and superstitious? Is the believer in eternal punishment the only person, who acts inconsistently, while he lives in the neglect of duty ? Is there not something peculiarly astonishing in the well known stupidity of the restorationist ? Can he be sincere in professing to believe, that the wicked will suffer for ages the most excruciating torments, and yet manifest such cold indifference to their spiritual welfare? He accuses believers in eternal punishment of insincerity, because their solicitude for the wicked is not always uniform, nor ever adequate to the interest involved. Yet when did he ever manifest compassion for those who, according to his own admission, are to perish for ages of ages ? But I forbear; so awful a subject must not be treated like a question between man and man. Yet
let not Christians be reproached for the anxiety which they do feel and manifest in behalf of the soul, for feelings deeper than other hearts experience, for efforts which afford true religion a place on earth, and which will ultimately extend it throughout the world.
And that servant, which knew his Lord's will,
and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be benten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
Divines have not always been careful to give a proper representation of the difference, which the various wickedness of lost men will occasion, in the intensity of their sufferings. All are described in some sermons, as sharing equally in the shame and anguish of despair. The consequence has been an entire denial of the doctrine of future punishment, as too horrible for human belief. The object of the present lecture is to exhibit the