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casions of sinning against him, under pain of the worm that shall not die,and the fire that shall not be quenched. The threatening is made in the same terms, (whether they are to be under. stood metaphorically or literally) and will as surely be executed, if not timely prevented. And awful indeed will be the sufferings that are meant ! From the mode of expression, as well as from the nature of things, they cannot be tri. fling, short, or unimportant: but pungent and severe ; lasting, and, to the highest degree, tre: mendous. But from the words in the original, it does not appear our Lord meant to assert the endless duration of this wretchedness and misery. It is three times said, they shall go into hell-fire ; three times, that this fire is not quenched. Twice more, that it never shall be quenched. The two first, are faithful sayings, and true, boih in the Greek and English ; but the last is not found in the original, though it is renclered never by the translators. Neither medepote nor ondepote are found in the Greek. But the sense, you will say, is the same, though the expression may be different. The sense of the Translators seems to have been the same ; but not the sense of Christ, He twice asserts the fire to be unguenchable; and thrice that it shall not be quenched. They officiously have translated the word never, instead of not, which con. veys a different idea to the English ear. Our Lord's exact meaning here, seems to be this: While men continue sinning, and do not avoid the occasions, thereot; so long will they suffer, and in this proportion, be miserable hereafter,
if they die in their sins. Their worm shall not die, neither shall the fire be quenched, till their rebellious spirit be broken down, and subdued ; and they willingly submit, and yield themselves to the Lord. But it is no where said this shall never be. The contrary is asserted in other places. It should not therefore have been rendered, the fire shall never be quenched, since Christ only said, it shall not ; But if never, and not, must be taken in the same sense ; it can only be in a lax, and not in a strict one. The fire shall never be quenched, till all the ends of it are answered, and there is no further occasion or use for it. An eliptical way of speaking.
Some have inclined to interpret this awful passge in St. Mark, not of individuals, in a future state, but of persons, in a church-state and capacity, here in this life ; and so have understood the fire, and the worm, to be descriptive of the corrupt, declining and worm-eaten state of the Jewish, and all other churches, that have lost their order, discipline and truth, and have, in consequence, been left dead carcasses : ecclesiastical bodies, without spirit and life. The hand, foot, and eye, to signify some diserning, walking, or leading members of a church; who, if they walk disorderly, and give any occasion of stumbling, must be cut off, and cast out, so as never to come into such a body again : and this, they think, answers to their worm that di. eth not, and the fire that is not quenched. The apostle indeed, has likened Christ's body the church, to the natural body, and drawn argu. guments from it, 1 Cor.xii. But when we com
pare this with Matt, v. 28, 29, 30. & with Col. iii. 5. and with its parallel place, Matt. xviii. 7, 8,9. it does not commend itself so satisfactorily to the minds of some, or appear, in general, so agreeable to our Lord's meaning, as the above interpretation : but if any prefer it, they will judge for themselves.
The last objection you make is, “ That if coerlasting, and eternal, when applied to the future miseries of the wicked; is to be taken in a limited sense, and not to mean strictly endless ; it must be so taken, when applied to the future happiness of the righteous, and so leave room to believe, but also may come to an end ; which though Mr. Whiston believed, yet who else can come into ?"_It is agreed, the same word in the original is used for the duration of both, (Matth. XXV. 46.) and I have no scruple in saving, that I believe, the happiness as well as the misery, that are spoken of in that passage, will both have an end. But it is because I do not apprehencthe happiness here meant, to be the last or final happiness of the righteous, but that only which they will enjoy with Christ upon earth during his Millenial reign ; it is their aionion, or a thousand years happiness; not that which shall succeed it, when Christ shall have given up the kingdom to God, even the Father. This happiness then, which is peculiar, and to be enjoyed only by the children of the first resurrection, may, and will have an end : and who can reasonably object to it, when it is in order to a greater and more enduring one vvhen it shall end in something higher ; even in
that far more exceeding and eternal (or endless) weight of glory, the apostle speaks of 2 Cor. iv. 17. Which words are very strong indeed in the original, and such as are no where applied to any miseries the wicked will endure. --Hads. Mr. Whiston considered this, he would not have fallen into his strange mistake. It would have solved the difficulty, better than he has done, and is what I offer in reply. But, see this, with many more objections to Universal Restoration, ably, sensibly, and more at large replied to, in the Dialogues I mentioned to you in my last.
When I write again, I mean to maintain this generous and noble doctrine, in opposition to the doctrine of Annihilation ; or that view of the future sufferings of the wicked, which maintains them to be positive and lasting for a time; but after that, to end in Extinction and Perdition. In the belief of this good, anal better news, be. lieve me Your fast, and faithful friend,
In which it is defended against what is called by
some Annihilation, and by others Perdition, Destruction, and Non-existence.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I NOW sit down to fulfil the engagement my last laid me under ; which was to maintain the doctrine of the final Restoration of all fallen and intelligent beings, in opposition to Annihilation, or Destruction. There are some who plead for a literal Resurrection, both of the just and unjust : but these latter, they say, when raised, tried, and condemned, are to be sensibly tormented for a time only, not always: The remainder of their punishment is to be negative, and that of loss only, not positive pain and suffering. After they have endured a proportionate degree of misery, they are no longer to exist, or be thought worthy to live, buť to go out of all sensitive life, into endless silence and oblivion. This is the nature and state of the future punishment of the wicked, in the opinion of some ; and what they think most agreeable to Reason and Scripture. But Restoration-Universal Restoration is so much better news, and has so much more evidence from Nature, Reason, & Revelation, in favor of it, that it prevails with
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