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MISCELLANEOUS PROOFS OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT.
I PROPOSE in this chapter to adduce some disconnected and independent considerations, in proof of the punishment of the wicked, in the future world, such as it was not in my way especially to notice in any of the preceding chapters.
Conduct has, in many respects, a language more intelligible and impressive than words, written or spoken. And the conduct of such a man as Paul, is capable of throwing much light on this subject. It is a proper subject of enquiry, whether the conduct of Paul harmonizes with the notion that universal salvation was the gospel which he spent his life in promulgating. And fortunately we have not only the history of Paul's conduct in the ministry, but the express reasons assigned for that conduct in various particulars. So that both his conduct and the reasons therefor assigned by himself, mutually confirm the testimony of each other, as to the real sentiments of his heart. In one instance he gives us a reason for his conduct in this shape-Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men, 2 Cor. 5: 11. Here we learn that the apprehension he had of the terror of the Lord, was the cause which impelled him to such efforts as he made in persuading men. Now let us look at this matter a moment.-Here was one of the most valuable of lives, with great exclusiveness of purpose, and with strenuousness unexampled, devoted to the business of persuading men. Prospects of worldly distinction had been relinquished, mental endowments and advantages of rank and influence, second to those of few, were counted as dross and as dung—the favor of the great ones of the world, was exchanged for their frowns,-poverty, perils, persecutions and toils unceasing, were encountered in the business of persuad
ing men. Such singleness of aim, such ceaseless driving towards one point, such throwing of the whole soul into the enterprise undertaken, has rarely been witnessed. Now what does the man mean by, all this? What is the mighty principle of conduct like this—what the commanding motive that sways the energies of such a mind in subserviency to the single purpose of persuading men to embrace his gospel ? This is his answer. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Do you say that the terror of the Lord means some evil to be suffered in this life by those who rejected his persuasions ? The context shows that a terror to be revealed at the judgment seat of Christ is meant. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror, &c. But waiving this, suppose that the terror of the Lord here refers to nothing more than judgments inflicted in this world upon those who did not embrace the gospel Then we have God's apostle exhausting, his life, through hardships beyond what the greatest sinners under any judg. ments of God felt in this life, often endure, to persuade men away from what?—from the unhappiness of an unconverted state, and from some possible sufferings, that might come upon them if they did not repent—and to persuade them to encounter the unparalleled temporal calamities, that were the inevitable lot of the christian. We have then this wise apostie, laboring to persuade men to avoid the temporal calamities of the wicked, for the more sure and severe calamities of the godly. We have a Paul braving the terrors of a hostile world, to induce men to exchange the less for the greater evil. We have him ready to go to prison and to death,—to be exposed to wild beasts at Ephesus, to face the sword of Cesar and the dungeon of Nero, to persuade men away from the ease and security of the enemies of the gospel into the dangers and persecutions allotted to those who in such days would live godly in Christ Jesus. Is not this magnifying his benevolence at the expense of his reason? And on this hypothesis we need
not wonder that his work of persuasion was so difficult. Persuasion in that case would have been a miracle, if Paul had told the world in the outset, that neither those who received nor those who rejected his message had anything to fear after death, and that the question of rejecting or receiving, was only one of securing the most happiness in this life, none but maniacs would ever have been persuaded by him. For all the terrors of a world in arms, a world influenced by sevenfold hostility to the gospel were against him, and such arguments had greater persuasive force than any found in such a gospel as his would have been. The terror was on the other side of the question. It was the receiving and not the rejecting of the gospel, which exposed a man to temporal dangers. · Really, if Paul employed himself in persuading men that the easiest and most safe and comfortable way of spending this mortal life, was in a course of christian duties, when duty led to the rack and the stake, he had a work before him. If that were fact, the text above quoted might be paraphrased after this sort-Knowing the terror of the Lord; i. e. the terrors of enjoying unmolested the favor of the world, and of the powers that be, we persuade men to the safer and happier course of life, which confers bonds, imprisonments, and the privilege of being hunted like wild beasts, and the constant expectation of a violent death, overbalanced by no prospect of a reward in the future life.
On another occasion, giving explanations of the reasons of his conduct, he says, that he was made all things to all men, that he might by all means save some. But save some from, what?_from trouble in this life. Were his converts wont to experience that kind of salvation ? Did he expect they would ? Did he not rather tell them that all who will live godly, in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution ? From what else then, did he save some, than the perdition beyond the grave ? Thus the conduct of Paul as interpreted by himself, is every way at war with the idea of no punishment in the world to come ? If he was laboring to save men from hell, conscious of standing between a dying world and an undone eternity, his whole conduct was rational and consistent, having a fit proportion be
tween the amount of his exertions and the vastness of his object. On the other hypothesis, his whole history is a history of quixotic adventures.
Suppose Paul had actually devoted his life to the spread of the gospel, that held out universal immunity from punishment beyond the grave. How different would have been the course of his life, and preaching? Those who preach such a gospel now, do it with some consistency. Their leading doctrine is foremost in all their preaching. To convince men that hell is a chimera, and heaven the sure portion of the sinner and the saint-that whatever distinctions are here made between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not, will be obliterated by the hand of death-that sin and holiness are tending to one result,—that both the river of life and the river of death that pour through this world, are at last to disembogue into the same ocean of eternal glory, are the points, towards which their main labors • are directed. - Heaven for all and hell for none" are doctrines,
the absence of which in any universalist sermon would be deemed unpardonable. But was Paul in this sense a universalist preacher? Was he so anxious to disburden the sinner's conscience of every fear of hell? Were all the energies of his soul bent to the purpose of persuading the world, that every course of sin was sure to end in heaven? Was he all careful to make it appear that the dread damnation of which he sometimes spoke, meant nothing more than temporal evils? When in the presence of Felix, he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, did he carry the idea that this judgment to come, was only some unpleasant results of man's irregularities of life experienced in this world? Was this the doctrine that made the judge on the bench tremble before the prisoner at the bar? And when he thundered in the Grecian senate, and was hissed from the floor because he came down upon them with overbearing demonstrations of the resu:rection, think you that the Senators were so offended because he did, or because he did not mention the resurrection to damnation ? Every way the life of Paul is a standing re
futation of the doctrines of the Universalists. This source of proof is capable of being advantageously expanded, but I will not pursue it further.
Again. I consider all the earnest warnings in Scripture against heresy and the adoption of ruinous doctrines as virtual refutations of Universalism-inasmuch as if that system be true, no doctrines can be ruinous. There is such a thing frequently spoken of in the Scriptures as heresy. 2 Peter 2: 1, Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and shall bring upon themselves swift destruction. In Gal. 5: 20. Heresies are set down in a list of the “ works of the flesh," and in company with such things as “ witchcraft, idolatry, murders, drunkenness,” &c. In Titus 3: 10, A man that is a heretic is represented as one who should be excluded from the communion of christians. In 2 Peter 3: 16, those who wrest the Scriptures are said to do it to their own destruction. In Gal. 1: 8, a curse is pronounced on those who should bring a different gospel than that preached by Paul; as though heresy were a serious matter. Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Jude exhorts to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, against those who have crept in unawares, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. Now I am not inclined to assert that Universalism is the only and the specific error on which the writers in all these cases had their eye. But I would here ask two or three questions. In the first place, is there one system of religious error, has there ever been one, the belief of which is more fatal to man's immortal interests, than Uuiversalism, if that be erroneous ? This question answers itself: there can be but one opinion about it. If a man believes there is no hell, he will, unless all the laws of mind are reversed in his case, shape his heart and conduct according to that belief—and neglect God's appointed means of escaping eternal perdition. It is as true as that there is a hell, that he that believeth not-believeth not what ?-the great facts revealed