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son of the sinner? How can the “denun- | into life eternal.” And what prevents the ciations of the Divine anger" be supposed to execution of this punishment by a righteous imply that his wrath shall fall upon the sin, God? Does his paternal love? We admire and not the sinner? The express language the firm justice of the civil magistrate, when of scripture is counter to such an idea. “Sin” he inflicts the penalties incurred by a broken is truly the “abominable thing” that his law even upon his son; when he thus sacri“soul hateth,” but it is with the “wicked”fices any promptings of parental affection, that God is “angry every day.” We read that he may administer impartial justice. of the most awful punishments threatened We honour all such, because they thus show upon the impenitent: The wicked, and a true sense of the importance of vindicating him that loveth violence, his soul hateth;” righteous law in order to secure the common “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from good. Cannot God also visit his guilty and heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on impenitent creatures with eternal punishthem that know not God." These are but ment, when his law has been violated, his a few out of many passages that might be authority insulted, and the welfare of the quoted, plainly denouncing the wrath of moral universe endangered? He is no longer God upon the sinner, and that on account the Father, but the righteous Judge, to the of sin.
unredeemed sinner. Does his mercy forbid When “Sigma” affirms that the character the full measure of punishment? The jusof love is God's “ favourite representation,” tice of God inexorably demands the punishwe demur to such a use of the term, as it is ment of every impenitent sinner, but mercy unscriptural. Favouritism implies partiality, holds out forgiveness to the sinner when he disfavour, &c., and to apply such a term to turns from his ways: “Have I any pleasure qualify any aspect of God's character in his at all that the wicked should die, and not own sight, is to suppose him as one like unto that he should return from his ways and purselves, and possessed of the same pas- live?” “As I live, saith the Lord, I have sions. All the attributes of God are equally no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” glorious, equally essential to his nature; and “ Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for te will indicate his justice, even while he why will ye die, O house of Israel?” From exbibits his mercy unto men.
these passages we see that God “ desireth “ Sigma,” in supporting his position, goes not the death of the sinner,” but he saves on to assert that the “holiness and justice him only as he “turns” from his wickedness. of God forbid the eternal punishment of The mercy of God does not prevent the exe the wicked,” as “this would be to per- cution of his judgments; if it did, he would petuate the existence” of sin, which is “dia- be changeable, partial, swayed by the affecmetrically opposed to his nature.” What, tions of men. His mercy is necessarily we would ask, are the requirements of divine regulated by his justice. Were he to forgive justice? The law threatens,“ the soul that the impenitent, without any reference to the sinneth, it shall die.” “Cursed is every one demands of his justice, his mercy would that continueth not in all things written in degenerate into weakness, and encouragethe book of the law, to do them.” Is it un- ment would be given for the repeated violajust in God to inflict this punishment? tion of his law with impunity. While he What, we ask, is the just demerit of one sin? holds out hopes of pardon to sinners, he is Cau any calculate its enormity? None but yet bound to punish those who remain God himself can tell its desert, and the finally impenitent. “He that believeth on amount of punishment due unto it. When the Son hath everlasting life: he that behe has pronounced sentence upon the sinner, lieveth not the Son shall not see life, but be shall not be released until he has “paid the wrath of God abideth on him;" thus, the uttermost farthing.” When will that “ Justice and mercy meet together; rightebe? “How long will it be ere they attain ousness and truth kiss each other.” to innocency? Who can solve the pro- Is it said that the holiness of God forbids blem? Is it aught short of eternity? Just the eternal punishment of the wicked, beand righteous are God's judgments when he cause then sin would be perpetuated? This appoints that “the wicked shall go into difficulty has reconciled many to the idea of everlasting punishment, but the righteous annihilation, the utter extinction of being.
But would not such an act, supposing it the same length in guilt. “The man whose should ever happen, itself write the eternal moral sense is blunted (to use Sigma's" condemnation of sin and the sinners? Is words) and all but destroyed, and the man sin, therefore, left to be an indestructible who has offended in a less daring and flagrant evil? Were it given us to determine con- manner,” will not be consigned to the same cerning it, our language would be, “Let it degree of punishment, but each will receive perish; let the wickedness of the wicked the reward due to his demerits. Scripture come to an end!” But should we under- plainly teaches that there will be a differstand what we said ? The greater and ence in the degrees of bliss enjoyed by the most formidable problem is, that it should saints in heaven;* and not less plainly does ever have existed at all. “ It is injurious it affirm that there will be different degrees to the glory of God, contrary to his will, and of punishment in store for the wicked. We thwarting to his benevolence. Why was it read of the “greater sin," of the “greater ever allowed, even for a single moment? It damnation," of some who shall receive “ few has arisen, and could arise, only under a stripes," and again of others who shall have system of law; and what means can God " many stripes," while the doom reserved for employ to counteract it but law? Must he, others is so tremendous that it is declared, to prevent it, abandon his government, and “it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and dissever from man moral agency and liberty? Gomorrah,” for “ Tyre and Sidon in the day What other resource bas government in case of judgment than for them!"f From these of transgression but punishment? God passages, and in fact the whole tenor of threatens eternal punishment, and is he scripture, it is evident that responsibility under any other necessity than thus to increases in proportion to privileges enjoyed: punish it? The perpetuity of sin is a diffi- “ To whom much is given, of him shall culty, but far less than its violent cause. much be required;" this is alike the language Why is it continued ? Why does it last an of reason and revelation, and without correage, an instant? If God was never bound sponding differences in punishments, strict to destroy it, he is not still. If he could justice could not be administered. never destroy it without making void all his The fearful terms employed to express
the principles and laws of government, he can- nature of future punishment, as also its not still. But, after the present dispensation, duration, may require our attention. “The Satan is a chained captive, no more to be wicked are reserved to the day of destruction, loosed; the wicked are bound hand and to the day of wrath.” “A fire not blown foot, and cast into outer darkness. Sin shall consume him." "His
eyes shall see is no longer suffered to range abroad, defy- his destruction, and he shall drink of the ing God and his law; it is divested of all its wrath of the Almighty;" of that “ wine known active qualities, so far as the universe which is poured out without mixture into apart from the abodes of the lost is con- the cup of his indignation.” “ The smoke cerned. It is not a threatening ill; can of their torment ascendeth up for ever and * tempt' no more; is commanded to go into ever;" they are “ tormented with fire and the deep,'' shut up,' and a seal' set on it. brimstone, in the presence of the Lamb." In disposition it exists, will exist; a thing Who can conceive what is the “wrath” of which offends: in their heart, the lost that Lamb, when it overtakes the impenitent • work wickedness. But it is under perfect scorners of his mercy? Upon the wicked restraint as to harm, perfect conquest as to is to be rained “snares,”“ fire and brimresistance, for punishment is victory.' stone, and an horrible tempest.” Are we
Nor will injustice be done to any, when, reminded that these are figurative expresat the day of judgment, all the wicked are sions? That is not denied; but what do condemned to eternal punishment. Each is they imply? What horrors are expressed appointed his own place, according to his by that "torment,” that “second death," character. All will not receive the same that “worm" which “dieth not!" severity of punishment, for all have not run
* Compare Dan. xii. 3, with 1 Cor. xv. 41; also
Luke xix. 12-27, with John xiv. 1. * Hamilton's " Rewards and Punishments," + See John xix. 11; Mark xii. 40; Matt. xxiii.
14; Luke xii. 47, 48; Matt. x. 15; xi. 20—24.
“Sigma” hazards a criticism respecting strike to warn others, but the cure of the the term “ aionion," and affirms that it would patients' is foreign to its nature; it can be more properly rendered “age-lasting.” meditate no such end.” Of the wicked it Granted this to be the meaning of the term may be said, They “reap” of “that which sometimes, we would ask, is this meaning they have sown,” they “eat of the fruit of to be understood of it in all places where their own way,” and are “filled with their it is used, when applied to the felicities of own devices." saints in heaven, and when affirmed of God Is there any hope that the condemned or his attributes? If not, what rule have will ever repent, that they will ever be we for varying its meaning correctly, other released and restored to favour? Would not than that before given, viz., “ that the iden such a hope make their "torment” more of continuity, duration, is commensurate and tolerable? * It only wants the refusal of this co-equal with the duration and existence of to add the last severity, and make their case the subject of which it is the predicate.” It one of utter, dark despair. How is their is affirmed of the soul, and that is immortal; character described? They are the wicked does it mean“ age-lasting” when applied to still; “ the wicked shall do wickedly;" they the punishment of the wicked? Does it“ depart” the “cursed," with every tendency mean the same limited period when applied of evil in them, and their dispositions still as expressing the duration of the bliss en- the same. The sentence is pronounced joyed in heaven, or is it then to be under- “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; stood in its legitimate meaning? If so, why he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Is this alteration ?
it supposed that they will ever repent and We receive the literal meaning of the find mercy? After the“ present life,” the terms, “ gnolam," in the Hebrew, “aion," day of grace is passed, probation is ended, "aionon," in the reek, rendered "ever," and retribution begun. The language of everlasting,” because they are terms, the scripture is solemnly emphatic on this point. true meaning of which, being once ascer- Fools make a mock at sin;" but a time tained, no quibble, however ingenious, can cometh when He whom they have treated alter. The terms “fire and brimstone,” are with such insult and scorn will appear as the evidently figurative; for neither can have angry Judge, taking vengeance on his eneany effect upon an immaterial nature; but mies. “ He that being often reproved, har"fire" being the most devouring of all the deneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, elements, and death by it the most painful, and that without remedy." and“ brimstone” being most repulsive, they Do any suppose that the wicked will be are fit emblems of the nature of the pun- restored to divine favour at or after the ishment endured by the human soul under judgment? If not then, when? After a the judicial wrath of the Almighty. We lengthened period? Why, and by what give this explanation of the several terms means shall this be accomplished ?” “God in answer to a question of “Sigma” in is” already “ all in all,” whatever that may his second article. Had the question not be. The kingdom is delivered up," and been asked, we should never have thought Christ is become subject unto the Father. so simple and self-evident a Shall be again leave that throne, and enter
again upon another work, that of redeeming Is it supposed that the future punishments the lost? Where is the evidence for such of the wicked are corrective? Will they an idea ? Not in the Bible: “there remainact as a purifying influence upon the soul? eth no more sacrifice for sin.” Where then ? The passages which have passed before us, Will the Holy Spirit continue his gracious and all others that refer to future punish- operations in the world to come? How ment, contain no expressions which denote shall he “convince of judgment to come, that these are God's dealings“ as with sons when that is already past? Because “ they
that“ chastisement” which they must not rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit,” there" despise," the “rebuke” under which they fore is he now turned to be their enemy, must not “ faint.” The style of these denun- to “fight against them.” Is there no end ciations befitteth not the correction which he to be gained by these eternal sufferings? dispenseth “for our profit.” Justice may Do they
only show us the “God of love
of explaining matter.
cherishing vindictive feelings,” when he thus | closure of that "indignation and wrath," punishes his guilty creatures? We would "tribulation and anguish," that awaits the not insult the Divine Being by entertaining impenitent. We notice it as a solemn fact, such thoughts. The eternal punishment of that the most fearful denunciations of divine sinners expresses to us his idea of the awful wrath fall from the lips of the blessed Saviour.* nature of sin; and may not the dread exhi- "Amid the “blackness, darkness, and tempest bition of God's wrath upon sinful men of Sinai' we are prepared for the thunder, throughout eternity have a salutary influence the blast of the trumpet, and the curses of upon other intelligences, in deterring them Ebal; but under the new dispensation, we from sin, and make them “fear” while they await the meekness and gentleness of Christ. “ love"? "Now all these things happened We espect an infinite tenderness; nor are unto them for ensamples: and they are we disappointed. He pleads to weeping, written for our admonition.” Even as and agonizes even to blood! Yet, what Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about voice ever spoke so much of hell?” It is them, are set forth for an example.” Sinful repeatedly his chief theme. " The terms he men may be eternal monuments of God's employs to illustrate its nature are full of justice-even as the saved are of his mercy significance; he reiterates his illustrations, in heaven-to show unto all the universe the heaps image upon image, and adds warning awful consequences of breaking God's holy to warning.” † He speaks of the outer law, and what a “fearful thing it is to fall darkness”; of “weeping, and wailing, and into the hands of the living God.”
gnashing of teeth," as being descriptive of The number of the condemned has really the sorrows of its inhabitants; of the place nothing to do with the question of eternal of “torment,” where they are given up to punishments. The question is not more " tormentors;" where they are tormented affected than it would be were but one lost. in flame," and denied the slight alleviation The principle is the same, whether one or afforded by the “tip of the finger” being many are condemned, because the justice or dipped “in water to cool the suppliant's injustice, being always personal, is the same; parched tongue"! In one of his discourses, and if eternal punishment be just in one when referring to a terrible retribution, he instance, it is equally just in many. But urges men to prefer making the most painwe maintain that the number of the saved ful sacrifices in an attempt to escape, rather shall greatly exceed those of the lost, vast than incur this awful doom. There is a as the latter may be. “A great multitude solemn emphasis, and rhetoric the most which no man could number,” gathered from perfect; we hear the awful repetitions roll all “ nations, kindreds, people, and tongues," along as successive thunder-peals—"And stand “before the throne of God and before if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is the Lamb." The Redeemer shall“ see of better for thee to enter into life maimed, the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.” than having two hands to go into hell, into Nor can we suppose that he will be "satis- the fire that never shall be quenched. fied,” unless his followers vastly outnumber Where their worm dieth not, and the fire the lost.
is not quenched. And if thy foot offend Is our view of this doctrine “opposed to thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter the genius and spirit of Christianity?" halt into life, than having two feet to be How so? The gospel is "glad tidings,” cast into hell, into the fire that never shall “good news,” “joy to all people,” just be- be quenched. Where their worm dieth not, cause, wherever it comes, it proclaims a way and the fire is not quenched. And if thine of escape from the eternal doom awaiting eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for sinful men. A truth so important as this thee to enter into the kingdom of God with we should expect to find distinctly stated in holy writ. It is so. It stands forth as
*“ Sigma" asserts it as a "remarkable fact that the frontlet of Christianity, the one great punishment.
the Saviour very infrequently alluded to future
We refer to the following texts :truth on which all revelation proceeds. Matt. viii. 11, 12; xiii. 41, 42, 47–50; xsi. 33–46; From the beginning, in the Old Testament, xxii. 11–13; xxiv. 51; xxv. 30-46; Mark is. we find traces of this doctrine; but it is in 42-48; Luke xiii. 24—28; xvi. 19–31; xix.
20-27; John v. 29, &c. the gospel that we meet with a full dis- + “Rewards and Punishments," sec. 6.
one eye, than having two eyes to be cast negative in the strongest possible manner, into hell fire. Where their worm dieth not, and no intimation is given that the fire ever and the fire is not quenched.” Whose words will or can be quenched even by God. If such are these? Who is it that thus threatens were possible, why did the Saviour use these the most awful retribution? It is the meek negative terms, when others, less expressive and loving Saviour, the Judge of angels and and more limited, would have conveyed his men, the “ truth and the life,” who warns meaning? If Christ did not mean to teach lest the stroke should fall. His words must the eternity of future punishments, he made be true; and when he thus emphatically use of language which could not be underespresses himself, who shall contradict him? stood, except it be supposed to affirm the Who can or dare say that a time will come contrary; and thus it lays him open to a when this worin shall die, when this charge of trifling with or using language " fire” shall be " quenched,” and its last which conveys a false idea relative to this embers cease to burn?
important subject. If this cannot be supCan we infer from the language that it is posed, all must agree that here, in these “ unquenchable by man, but not by God”? words, Christ plainly teaches the eternal How is such an idea deduced? By what duration of future punishments. rule of interpretation is this inferred? We
CLEMENT. remark that the words used express the Ashton-under-Lyne.
NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-IV. The evidences of Christianity are internal discussion appeared natural, and was easily beas well as external, and the belief of reason- lieved. Christianity is now more and more felt able men in the Christian religion rests on to be the revelation of a God who is love, and both of these descriptions of evidence. It to be a system of love. Men begin to see that appears to us that nothing can possibly do this essential attribute of the Deity, of which greater violence to the moral sense than the the gospel is the highest expression, affords dogma of eternal punishment; that, if true, the explanation of those doctrines of Chrisit must be considered as the prominent fea- tianity which appeared intricate or mysture or characteristic of the religion, and terious. Christianity evokes a spirit of love that Christianity would thus want the in- utterly destructive to a belief in the doctrine ternal evidence of a divine revelation. Why of eternal punishment, erroneously connected is it, however, that men believe Christianity, with religion. It is impossible to predicate notwithstanding the opinion that it teaches that a revelation from a God of love can the doctrine of eternal punishment? The have for its distinguishing feature the docdoctrine can scarcely be realized by the mind, trine in dispute. It is felt that a belief in and while it may receive an intellectual that doctrine can only have proceeded from assent, it fails to make a general impression. a false method of interpreting the scriptures, There is so much really good in the design and generally from the carnal blindness of and precepts of Christianity, that it is readily those to whom they have been addressed. embraced, the pernicious doctrines connected Although the doctrine under review must with it being thrown into the shade. Both cease to be believed, both from the progress Romanism and the old orthodoxy of Protes- of Christianity itself
, and the expansion of tantism answered important purposes. They the human mind, yet it is proper to discuss were fitted for ages of comparative darkness. it. There are believers in it who cannot The highest truth is generally received only throw it out of view--men of powerful imawhen men are prepared for it, and it is gination, tender feelings, and possessed with clearly ascertained by us only in the light an absorbing conception of the spiritual and of our best affections. Christian theology is eternal. The more deeply religious they tending to expansive and humane views. become, the more they realize the horror of Narrow and harsh conceptions of the chris- the doctrine; and at the same time they tian revelation are found to be inadequate cannot fail to see that, in regard to the or distorted representations of religion. so immense majority of the human race in all long as men firmly believed in Romanism, or ages, or, in other words, the race as a whole, the Calvinism of creeds, the dogma under Christianity has no other doom to pronounce