« AnteriorContinuar »
God; who shall render to every man according to his deeds: To them, who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortalty; eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness; indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man (not sin of man, but soul of man) that doth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile."
To these may be added the declarations of Christ. “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doetb the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity." “Fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: But rather fear him, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
To inforce these solemn warnings, our compassionate Redeemer, as it were, sets before our eyes the certainty and danger of future punishments, by a number of wellchosen and striking parables. To this end he spoke the parable of the vineyard of the sower-of the rich fool -of the marriage supper-of the ten virgins of the talents of the tares_and of the rich man and Lazarus, Each of these parables would greatly serve to illustrate the subject before us, but especially the two last; which, therefore, we beg leave to recite at large. The parable of the tares is in the thirteenth of Matthew.
“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came, and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, an enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou that we go and gather them up? But he said, nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: And in the time of harvest, I will say unto the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles, to burn them: But gather the wheat into my barn." Our Lord's exposition of his own parable supersedes any other comment. It is this. “He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one: The ene. my that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity: And shall cast them (not their sins, but them personally) into a furnace of fire: There shall be weeping and knashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their Father."
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in the sixteenth of Luke, gives us a still more visible and affecting representation of the miseries of the damned.
“There was a certain rich man which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar, named Lazar. us, which was laid at his gate, full of sores; and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: Moreover the dogs came and licked bis sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried: And in hell he lifted
his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: For I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 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. Then he said, I pray thee therefore that thou wouldest send bim to my father's house; for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets: Let them hear them. And he said, nay, Father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” Nothing short of dreadful experience can give us clearer evidence of future torments than this parable; nor afford a better comment upon our Lord's representation of the final separation be:
tween the righteous and the wicked, and their respective rewards and punishments at the last day.
There is one thing more contained in the text, which deserves particular notice, and that is,
IV. The endless duration of future rewards and punishments. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlast ing fire prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: But the righteous into life eternal.” This is the general voice of scripture. The prophet Daniel says, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, and ever. lasting contempt.” The apostle Paul asserts, that “the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in flaming fire, taking ven. geance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." In Rev. xx, 3, the apostle John tells us, “He saw Satan cast into the bottomless pit.” This epithet, which we meet with no less than six times besides in this book, expresses in the strongest manner the never ending miseries of the wicked, the smoke of whose torments is repeatedly said to ascend forever and ever, Our Lord once before asserted the eternity of future punishments as clearly as he does in the text. “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 heil, 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 fcct to be cast into hell, into the fire that ncver shall bc quencli
cd: 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.” In this last passage the eternity of helltorments is expressed in terms which admit of no evasion. Our Lord's argument here turns upon the infinite disparity between temporal and eternal pains. Duration is the only point to be illustrated. And finite is here set in contrast with infinite duration, And this infinite duration is expressed by a variety of epithets, which are, of all others, the most plain, determinate and unexceptionable.
As to the words_eternal_everlasting—forever and ever—they generally signify a duration which is absolutely boundless, and are to be taken so here, unless there be some special reason for restricting them to a limited duration. When they are applied to subjects which are in their own nature temporary; this naturally leads us to understand them in a limited and restricted sense. But when they are applied to the souls of men which are immortal, the subject allows us to interpret them in their most common and extensive meaning. The souls of the wicked may exist as long as the souls of the righteous, and therefore the miseries of the former may run parallel with the happiness of the latter. And this is asserted in the text. The same word in the original is used to express the duration of future punishments, which is used to express the du. ration of future rewards. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: But the righteous into life eternal.” The Greek word here rendered eternal and everlasting, is rendered so fifty-seven times in the New Testament; and there are but two places in the