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his own life. So he, who, while he holds the doctrine of Christ crucified, as the only foundation on which a soul can rest its hopes of salvation; builds at the same time, on that foundation, Antinomianism, or any other erroneous or destructive doctrine, he shall loose all his labour and his own soul scarcely escape everlasting perdition; nor even this, unless sheer ignorance and inveterate prejudice connected with much sincerity, be found in his case.”(2) The evident meaning of the passage is, as stated by Dr. Tillotson, " that men may hold all the fundamentals of religion, and yet may superadd other things whereby they may greatly endanger their salvation;" and it "intimates that it will be difficult for those that corrupt and deprave Christianity to be saved."
It is worthy of remark that the persons spoken of as being saved “so as by fire,” are those who build on the true and only foundation; v. 11. 12. so, we are willing to allow, that a Universalist, who builds on Christ by a living operative faith, and, under circumstances of unavoidable ignorance and inveterate prejudice,mingled with much sincerity, retains his unscriptural and exceedingly dangerous notions, will be saved, but with difficulty, whilst his wood, hay, stubble-like opinions will be utterly destroyed. But from this, it cannot, surely, with the least show of reason or propriety, be concluded, that the “ungodly” the "wicked,”—those who reject Christ the foundation, build not upon him, receive him not either as prophet, priest, or king,—who cavil at bis word, deny his atonement, ridicule bis religion, and live and die in their sins, will share in this salvation, even if it be “so as by fire.”
But if it be contended that the "fire" inentioned, is actual, material fire, and, as such, is used as a means of purification; we answer 1. This assumption precludes the possibility of any soul being restored before the re.
(2) Dr, A. Clark in loc.
surrection; as, ir the intermediate state, there is no material fire; or if there were, being material it could not in the very nature of things, have any purifying effect upon the soul, an immaterial principle. That none can be restored before the resurrection, is also the doctrine of the Scripture; for they that have done evil, in this world, shall, at the sound of the trump, come forth unto the res surrection of damnation. John v. 29.
We answer 2. The above assumption destroys the doctrine of restoration after the Judgment. The trial is to take place at, not after, the judginent day; "for the day shall declare it, for it is revealed by fire;” and, the man, whose work is tried, and burned up, and who suffers the mentioned loss, will be saved (not put in the fire, but saved) "so as by fire,” on the day of trial, the day of judgment, not afterwards. Hence, if any at the Judgment day be adjudged to Hell, the sentence will not be executed until after the day of trial is over. This, also is confirmed by the decisions of the Sacred Scriptures, as from St. Matthew's Gospel we undoudtedly learn, that, it is not until the Judgment is closed and the sentence of "depart ye cursed” is pronounced, the "wicked" with their united bodies and souls, “ go away into everlasting punishment." If, therefore, "fire" be employed either as an instrument of punishment, or as an alledged means of purification, it must be so employed after the day of "dread decision” is terminated, and not before. If then this be the case, all hope of being saved afterwards is excluded by this verse; for, as above stated, the salvation spoken of in it is to be experienced at the judgment day and not subsequently. The same conclusion appears manifest from the consideration, that, after the judgment, the fire of Hell can have no more effect of a purifying nature on the soul, than material fire could have had before that event; and tho' it can and will cause pain to the body, yet pain endured by the body in the way of punishment, can never impart a purifying, saving influence to the soul, unassailable by any material, painful agent. Hence there is nothing in 1 Cor. iii. 15, when properly explained to countenance the baseless and ruinous delusion of the use of disciplinary means for saving purposes in a place of future punishment.
TO BE HEREAFTER USED IS TO RESTORE THE SOULS OF
TO BE UNSCRIPTURAL.
To this question we reply in the negative; assured that, whilst no passage can be found in the Sacred Volume, which either expressly or by implication states the affirmative, there are many passages which are in direct and positive opposition to such an opinion.
Let it also be remembered, as formerly remarked, SCRIPTURE cannot contradict itself-cannot teach two doctrines as opposed to each other as light is to darkness and vice versa.
The following quotations are submitted as bearing upon the question at issue.
“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 hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched : where their worm dielh not, and the fire is not quenched.” , Mark ix. 43. 44. The contrast here is between "life" or heaven, and "hell,” which is here decided to be, a place of quenchless fire and of the deathless worm, remorse of
conscience; and if the words of our Saviour have any meaning, they mean that the experience of one of these places, necessarily and for ever excludes that of the other.
There is most certainly no mention of any design of means being employed to quench the flames, destroy the worm, and restore to the enjoyment of Wife" the souls that are once cast into hell; but the whole case is so stated, as, of set purpose, to shut out all idea of the existence of such design. The solemn injunction of our Lord to avoid pleasing and profitable sins is thrice repeated in this Chapter, and enforced by a thrice repetition of the awful motive just quoted;—which evidently shows of what unutterable importance and absolute necessity it is for persons so to conduct in this world as to escape the interminable miseries of the place of future torment. Nor must it be forgotten, that in these expressions, the strict eternity of future punishment is explicitly stated, without the use of the disputed word aionios, but in terms which will forever withstand the united force of sarcasm and distorted criticism. Their worm, ou teleuta, non moritur, dies not; the fire, ou sbennutai, non extinguit, is not extinguished, comes not to an end.
Mr. Watson's note on the words of the 48th v. is worthy of attention and is as follows. " These words are similar to Isaiah lxvi. 24; but even there they may be used as a proverbial description of hopeless and utter destruction, and so there may be no application of them by our Lord, except as the expression was well known as proverbial. Bishop Lowth and others think the allusion in Isaiab is to the valley of Hinnom, where the idolatrous Jews made their children to pass through the fire to Moloch. Josiah desecrated or defiled it; and it was the custom to keep fires perpetually burning there to consuine the filth and offal of the City. This might indeed, ex. plain the allusion to unquenchable fire, but not that to the worm that dieth not; and the notion of Lowth, that