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for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.—I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.” Two things may be noted in these sayings of Christ.
(1.) It is here declared what the state of those obstinate unbelievers should be at the day of judgment, for their wickedness here in the body, with an asseveration I say unto you. And sentence indeed is passed beforehand upon them by their Judge, concerning the punishment that shall be executed upon them at the day of judgment. The declaration is made in the form of a solemn denunciation or sentence: Wo unto thee, Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida, &c. And, is it reasonable to suppose, that the very Judge that is to judge them at the end of the world, would peremptorily declare, that they should not escape punishment at the day of judgment; yea, solemnly denounce sentence upon them, dooming them to the distinguished punishment they should then suffer for their obstinacy in their lifetime; and yet appoint another time of trial, of a great many hundred years between their death and the day of judgment, wherein they should have opportunity to escape that punishment ?
(2.) It is here also to be observed, that the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah should be condemned to misery at the day of judgment, though they had already been in their purifying flames, and in a state of probation, under the most powerful means to bring them to repentance for 1900 years, and should be after that for more than 1700 years. So we may argue, from Rom. ii. 3—12, 16, where the apostle speaks of men's treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, by their abusing the day wherein God exercises towards them the riches of his goodness, forbearance and long-suffering, which should lead them to repentance; plainly intimating, verse 6th, that the Judge in that day would render unto every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, &c., eternal life ; but to them who are contentious, &c., tribulation and wrath, &c. And that as many as sinned without law, should perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, should be judged by the law : which plainly shows that they are to be judged according to their deeds during this life, wherein alone there is this distinction of some sinning without the law, and some sinning in the law. And then in verse 16, the apostle repeatedly tells us, when these things shall be, that men shall thus receive their retribution ; “ In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men according to my gospel ;" which shows that this life is the only state of trial, and that all men shall be judged at the end of the world according to their behavior in this life, and not according to their behavior in another state of trial, between this life and that day; which, with respect to most, will be so vastly longer than this life; and when they (as is supposed) will be under more powerful means to bring them to repentance. So, it is apparent, by 2 Thess. i. 5—9, “ Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God-seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. - When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,” &c. Here it is manifest, that all that are obstinate unbelievers, rejecters of the gospel, and persecutors of believers, shall, at the day of judgment, be punished with everlasting destruction. So that no room is left for a state of trial, and a space to repent before that time for ages in hell. So it is apparent, Matt. xxv, that none will be found at the right hand, but they that have done Vol I.
such good works, as can be done only in this world; which would not be declared beforehand, if there was an opportunity given for millions of others to obtain that privilege.
$ 9. If it should be supposed (however unreasonably), that though it be already declared by a peremptory sentence of the Judge, that all sinners continuing obstinate during this life, should be condemned at the day of judgment, still this is consistent with their being in a state of probation, in order to escape ing condemnation during the space between death and the general judgment: Yet the account which the Scripture gives of that day, in several of those forementioned texts, is inconsistent with men's being in a state of trial during that space. For, if they are in a state of trial during this space, then they are accountable for their ill improvement of that space, and the proper subjects of judgment and condemnation for their wickedness during that space; and so those works would come into the account, when they appear at the great judgment, as well as those done in the body, which would be no more done during a state of probation than the former. This is not consistent with every one's receiving according to the things done in the body, or in proportion to the guilt that every one contracted then. It is inconsistent with the description Christ gives of the day of judgment in the 25th of Matthew, where Christ says not only to them on his right hand, I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat, &c.—and the good works are all such as are done only in this world; but all the wickedness which those are condemned for, who are at the left hand, is such as is committed in this life only.
§ 10. It may be proved, that the day of man's trial, and the time of God's striving in the use of means to bring him to repentance, and waiting for his repentance under the use of means, will not be continued after this life, from those words, Gen. vi. 3, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be 120 years.” It is as much as to say, that it is not fit that this day of trial and opportunity should last always to obstinate, perverse sinners. It is fit some bounds should be set to my striving and waiting on such as abuse the day of my patience; and that merciful means and gracious calls should not be continued, without limits, to them that trample all means and mercies under foot, and turn a deaf ear to all calls and invitations, and treat them with constant contempt. Therefore I will fix a certain linit, I will set their bounds to 120 years: when, if they repent not, I will put an end to all their lives, and with their lives shall be an end of my striving and waiting. This, which in Genesis is called God's Spirit striving, is by the apostle Peter expressed, by the wuiting of the long-suffering of God, i Pet. iii. 20. But, according to the doctrine we are opposing, instead of God's striving and using means to bring those wicked men to repentance, and waiting in the use of striving and endeavors 120 years, or to the end of their lives, and no longer; he has gone on still since that, for above 4000 years, striving with them in the use of more powerful means to bring them to repentance, and waiting on them, and will continue to do so for so long a time afterwards, that the time is often called everlasting, and represented as enduring forever and ever.
$ 11. Those words of Christ, “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day, the night cometh wherein no man can work," John ix. 4, prove that there is no other day of trial after this life. Christ having undertaken for us, and taken on him our nature, and appearing in the form of a servant, and standing as our surety and representative, had a great work appointed him of God to do in this life for eternity. He could not obtain eternal life and happiness for ': mself any other way, than by doing that work in this life, which was the ' .ne of his probation for eternity, as well as ours. And therefore his words imply as much as if he had said, I must do that work which God has appoirr.d me to do for eternity, that great service which must be done, as I would be eternally happy, now while the day of life lasts, which is the only day aprointed for the trial of man's faithfulness in the service of God, in order to hi'. being accepted to eternal rewards. Death is coming, which will be the se'cing of the sun, and the end of this day; after which no work will remam, nothing to be done that will be of any significance in order to the obtuoing of the recoinpense of eternal felicity.
$ 12. And doubtless to the same purpose is that in Eccles. ix., “ Whatsnuver thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work” (or no man can work),“nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, - "hither thou goest.” As much as to say, after this life, nothing can be done,
othing invented or devised in order to your happiness; no wisdom or art will erve you to any such purpose, if you neglect the time of the present life. It s unreasonable to suppose the wise man means only that we should in this life do all that we can in temporal concerns, and to promote our temporal interest, and that nothing can be done towards this after this life : not only as this would be an observation of very little importance, it being as flat and impertinent as if he had said, whatever your hand finds to do this year, do it with your might; for nothing that you do or devise the next year, will signify any thing to promote your interest and happiness this year: but also because the wise man himself, in the conclusion of this book, informs us, that his drift through the whole book is, to induce us to do a spiritual work; to fear God and keep his commandments, in order, not to happiness in this life (which he tells us through the book is never to be expected), but in order to a future happiness and retribution in consequence of a judgment to come; chap. xii. 13, 14,“ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep his commandments. For this is the whole" (i.e. the whole business, the whole concern) “of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
§ 13. If the wicked in hell are in a state of trial, under severe chastisements, as means in order to their repentance and obtaining the benefit of God's favor in eternal rewards, then these things will follow. 1. That they are in a state of such freedom as makes them moral agents, and the proper subjects of judgment and retribution. 2. It will also follow, seeing that the torments of hell which they suffer, being the last means God uses, or such as will be effectual after all other means have failed or proved utterly ineffectual, so that it appeared in vain to use them any longer, so that there was no other way left, than to have recourse to those severe means which will finally be effectual with every one, will bow all their hearts, and thoroughly purge their minds, and bring them to repentance; I say, if this be the case, then it is evident, that those terrible chastisements are made use of as the most powerful means of all, more efficacious than all the means used in this life which prove ineffectual, and which proving insufficient to overcome sinners' obstinacy, and prevail with their hard hearts, God is compelled to relinquish them all, and have recourse to those torments as the last means, the most effectual and powerful. 3. If the torments of hell are to last a very long time, ages of ages, the torments of the sinners of the old world till the end of the world, and after that so long, that the time is often and almost constantly represented figuratively as everlasting, lasting forever and ever; then it must be because sinners in hell all this while
je If the end such greats as to this ,
are obstinate; and though they are free agents as to this matter, yet wilfully and perversely refuse, even under such great means, to repent, forsake their sins, and turn to God. If the end of their torment is to bring them to repentance, it is unreasonable to suppose that they will be continued under their torments after they are brought to repentance. They must therefore frowardly go on in their rebellion, enmity and opposition to the great God, whose power they feel in their misery; who continues with the greatest peremptoriness to command them to forsake their sins, and submit to him immediately without delay; adding withal severe chastisements and terrible torments to bow their wills and bring them to compliance. They must with desperate hardness of heart refuse to return to their duty, though they feel the dreadful effects of this refusal, and know, that by persisting in it, they must continue to groan under them for ages more. And, 4. It must be farther supposed, that all this is while they not only suffer these dreadful chastisements for their obstinacy, and know they must suffer them till they comply, though it be ever so many millions of ages; but also that they have the offers of immediate mercy, and deliverance made to them, if they will comply. Now, if this be the case, and they shall go on in such wickedness, and continue in such extreme obstinacy and pertinaciousness, for so many ages (as is supposed, by its being thought their torments shall be so long continued), how desperately will their guilt be increased! How many thousand times more guilty at the end of the term, than at the beginning! And therefore they will be much the more proper objects of divine severity, deserving God's wrath, and still a thousand times more severe or longer continued chastisements than the past; and therefore it is not reasonable to suppose, that all the damned should be delivered from misery, and received to God's favor, and made the subjects of eternal salvation and glory at that time, when they are many thousand times more unworthy of it, more deserving of continuance in misery, than when they were first cast into hell. It is not likely that the infinitely wise God should so order the matter. And if their misery should be augmented, and still lengthened out much longer, to atone for their new contracted guilt; they must be supposed to continue impenitent, till that second additional time of torment is ended ; at the end of which their guilt will still be risen higher, and vastly increased beyond what it was before. And, at this rate, where can there be any place for an end of their misery ?
§ 14. It farther appears from what was observed above, that the sinner continuing obstinate in wickedness under such powerful means to reclaim him, for so long a time, will be so far from being more and more purged, or brought nearer to repentance, that he will be, as it were, infinitely farther from it. Wickedness in his heart will be vastly established and increased. For, it may be laid down as an axiom, that the longer men continue wilfully in wickedness, the more is the habit of sin established, and the more and more will the heart be hardened in it. Again, it may be laid down as another axiom, that the greater and more powerful the means are, that are used to bring men to reform and repent, which they resist, and are obstinate under, the more desperately are men hardened in sin, and the more the principle of it in the heart is confirmed. It may be laid down as a third axiom, that especially does long continuance in perverse and obstinate rebellion against any particular kind of means, tend to render those particular means vain, ineffectual, and hopeless.
After the damned in hell have stood it out with such prodigious and devilish perverseness and stoutness, for ages of ages, in their rebellion and enmity against God, refusing to bow to his will under such constant, severe, mighty chastisements, attended all the while with offers of mercy, what a desperate degree of
hardness of heart and fixed strength of habitual wickedness will they have contracted at last, and how inconceivably farther will they be from a penitent, humble, and pure heart, than when first cast into hell! And if the torments should be lengthened out still longer, and also their impenitence (as by the supposition one will not end before the other does); still the farther will the heart be from being purified. And so, at this rate, the torments will never at all answer their end, and must be lengthened out to all eternity.
$ 15. Matt. v. 25, 26, “ Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him ; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily 1 say unto thee, thou shalt not come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." These words imply, that sinners are in the way with their adversary, having opportunity to be reconciled to him but for a short season, inasmuch as it is intimated, that they must agree with him quickly, or they shall cease to be in the way with him, or to have opportunity to obtain his favor any more. But, if they shall be continued in a state of probation after death to the end of the world, and after that for (as it were) endless ages, how far, how very far, are these words of Christ from representing the matter as it is!
$ 16. That some even in this world are utterly forsaken of God, and given up to their own hearts' lusts, proves that these men never will be purified from their sins. That God should, in the future world, use great means to purify them, and fit them for eternal bappiness and glory, in the enjoyment of himself, is not consistent with the supposition, that, after the use of great means and endeavors with them in this world, he gives them up to sin, because of their incorrigibleness and perverse obstinate continuance in rebellion, under the use of those great means, and so leaves them to be desperately hardened in sin, and to go on and increase their guilt, and multiply transgressions to their utter ruin; which is agreeable to manifold representations of Scripture. This is not agreeable to the scheme of such as suppose, that God is all the while, both before and after death, prosecuting the design of purifying and preparing them for bringing them to eternal glory. Consider Prov. xvi. 4, “The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Psal. xcii. 7, “When the wicked spring as grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever.” These places show, God has no merciful design with those whom he gives up to sin. .
§ 17. The apostle, in Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6, says, “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, &c., if they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame," &c. The apostle speaks of their renovation to repentance, as (at least) never likely to happen; for this reason, that they have proved irreclaimable under such great means to bring them to repentance, and have thereby so desperately hardened their hearts, and contracted such great guilt by sinning against such great light, and trampling on such great privileges. But if so, how much more unlikely still will it be, that they should ever be renewed to repentance, after they have gone on still more and more to harden their hearts by an obstinate, wilful continuance in sin, many thousand years longer, under much greater means; and have therefore done immensely more to establish the habit of sin, and increase the hardness of their hearts; and after their guilt is so vastly increased, instead of being diminished ? If it be impossible to bring them to repentance, after they have rebelled against such light and knowledge of