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deeming love? Shall that repentance and faith which the sinner refused to acquire in the society of Christians, be learned from the companionship of devils and the damned? Shall blasphemy teach him to pray? Shall torment teach him gratitude? Shall fiends teach him obedience? Shall hell become the avenue to heaven, and the worst enemies of Christ become the ministers of his Gospel? Yea, shall those, to whom in the presence of an assembled universe he said ' Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'—shall they convert their abodes of horror into a temple to his praise, and begin to worship and to serve their God, when he has cast them off for ever? O folly of follies—infatuation or insanity, to think so! The false ingenuity of deluded men may conjure up this phantom, to silence their own fears, or to excuse their own opposition, or possibly to gratify what may seem to them the benevolence of their own hearts—but neither the testimony of experience, nor the principles of human law and government, nor the plain letter and spirit of Scripture, can be fairly brought to sustain them.
One popular form of error on this subject yet remains to be noticed, and this is, unquestionably, the worst and most irrational of all. We allude to the doctrine, that the present life is the only period to which the retributive justice of the Almighty is intended to apply—-or, in other words, that there is no hell but that which the Providence of God allots to the wicked in this world, so that beyond the hour of death, there is nothing to fear, since all men, without distinction, will be saved together.
Those who maintain this astonishing absurdity, have labored very industriously to prove, that the original words which are translated hell, in our English Bible, mean only the grave; and that not only the design but the express promise of redemption, includes the whole family of man. Of course they conclude that the wrath, tribulation, and anguish, threatened upon the ungodly, affect only their mortal condition, and nothing more. In order, therefore, to demonstrate the total error of these positions, we shall show by a few quotations from Scripture, that the hell and the judgment denounced upon the wicked are After Death, and then we shall point out the utter irrationality which seems to us connected with the contrary doctrine.
We first turn to the words of the Saviour. 'Fear not them,' saith he to his disciples, 'which kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do; but I will-forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear him who, After He Hath Killed, hath power to cast into Hell, Yea, I say unto you, fear him.'
The same Divine Teacher, in the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus, saith, ' The rich man Died and was buried, and In Hell he lifted up his eyes, Being In TorMent.'
St. Paul declares, ' It is appointed unto men once to die, and After That, the judgment.' 'For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of the things Done In The Body, whether they be good or whether they be evil.' St. Peter declares, that 'There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the Creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, Reserved Unto Fire, against the Day Of JudgMent OF UNGODLY MEN.'
St. Jude speaks of the fallen angels as being ' reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the Judgment Of The Great Day,'—of the inhabitants of Sodom, * suffering the vengeance of Eternal Fire,'—and of the sensual hypocrites of his own time, as being 'wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness For Ever.'
And St. John saith, 'I saw The Dead, small and great, stand before God ; and the books were opened, and another book was opened which is the book of life, and The Dead Were Judged out of those things which were written in the books According To Their Works—And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was Cast Into
THE LAKE OF FIRE.'
Now it seems to us a mere mockery of the meaning of words, to say, in the face of our Lord's own declarations, and of every inspired teacher of the New Testament, that there is no judgment after death—no punishment beyond this life, for the ungodly. The contrariety of such a notion, even to the few passages we have cited, is too glaring to require the aid of argument.
But the irrationality of the doctrine is quite as striking as its contrariety to Scripture ; for how can it be pretended that the present life exhibits an open display of the judgment of God upon transgressors? We do, indeed, fully believe, that there is an inseparable connexion between godliness and happiness—between impiety and misery even here. We firmly credit the promises by which the blessings of a gracious Providence are guarantied to the righteous. But we do utterly deny that there is any such public manifestation of the judicial approbation or condemnation of God in the present life as can answer to . the promise or the design of the general judgment. The wicked often flourish 'like a green bay tree.' Health, riches, honor, rank, influence, and reputation are often found clustering around the earthly lot of the irreligious and profane. And, on the other hand, poverty, bereavement, neglect, and sickness are as often seen to be the portion of the faithful, the humble, the spiritual worshipper of the meek and lowly Redeemer. Nay, these various conditions of men are expressly recognized, and connected with many weighty and solemn declarations, by our Lord himself. 'Blessed are ye that mourn, for ye shall be comforted. Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.' 'Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.' 'Through tribulation ye must enter the kingdom of heaven.' 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' Where, then, is the state or the place of punishment appointed in this world for the impious and the ungodly? Where is the ' everlasting fire,' on this side of the grave, ' prepared for the devil and his angels,' into which Christ bids the accursed to depart? Where is the tribunal found on earth, before which, as the Apostle saith, ' we shall all stand to give an account of the things done in the body?' These questions surely furnish their own reply.
Nor does the absurdity of this doctrine rest even here, because it is a main part of this moist preposterous system, that, after the discipline of the present life is ended, all men are received into heaven. Let us see, for a moment, how this will accord with the facts stated in the Bible.
Before the deluge, we read that the wickedness of mankind was great upon the earth, yea, that the imagination of their heart was only evil, and that continually, so that God determined to destroy them all by a flood, with the single exception of the righteous Noah and his family. Accordingly the threatened judgment came—the ungodly world was overwhelmed, and forthwith Taken Into HeaVen!
Again, we read that the anger of the Lord was excited against the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for their excessive and abominable wickedness, so that a tempest of fire descended upon them and they perished. The good man Lot was left some years longer to struggle through a life of trial, and died also, but long before the period of his release, the impious and flagitious Sodomites had been
TAKEN INTO HEAVEN!
Again, we find that the nations of Canaan were wicked and utterly detestable in the sight of God, so much so that the very land was said to be sick of its inhabitants, and the Lord accordingly gave their country to the Israelites, and commanded them to go and destroy the Canaanites with an utter destruction, as a people devoted by the just judgment of the Almighty Governor. Joshua proceeds, in obedience to the Divine command—the hosts of Canaan fall before the arm of Divine Justice, and immediately they find themselves in possession of bliss and glory in The
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!
But the time would fail us if we were to notice the tithe of the vile and flagitious wretches whom this marvellous system would translate into the regions of celestial peace. Let us pass on to two cases with which we shall close this branch of our subject.
When the fulness of the time had come, the Son of God appeared incarnate upon earth, preached his holy doctrines, performed his wondrous acts, and became obedient unto death—even the death of the cross. His enemies, full of rage and malice, conspire against him, and