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A. It is represented by terms the most awful and affecting. It is called “death,” “worm that never dieth,” “bottomless pit," "darkness," "mist of darkness," "blackness of darkness for ever,” “ake of fire and brimstone," "fire that never shall be quenched," "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” “furnace of fire," "fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Though these expressions should be considered metaphorical; yet they convey the idea of the greatest-of extreme pains and torments. The capacities and faculties of the wicked will, be much enlarged after death, so that they will be capable of suffering much more misery in the future, than in the present state.
Q. 6. Will there be different degrees of punishment inflicted upon the wicked hereafter?
A. There will. Some will endure more misery than others. Punishment will be according to the number, magnitude, and aggravation of offences.(a)
Q. 7. Is the future misery of the wicked bodily, or mental, or both? A. It is both. As the body and soul constitute
. the person, that sinned in this life, so they both will constitute the person, that will suffer in the life to come, after the separate state closes, though before this time, the soul only will suffer. It is by no means certain, that the body will not be afflicted by material fire. The bodies of the wicked will be immortal and incorruptible, and, therefore, no more liable to decay than spirits. Besides, if they were corruptible, God could preserve them in the fire, as He did the bodies of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Both the Old and New Testaments expressly declare, and, in manyinstances, that the wicked will be punished hereafter by fire. These passages of
(d) 2 Cor. 5. 10. For we must all appear before the judgmènt seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Scripture, though they should be considered figurative in a sense, nevertheless seem to convey the idea of corporal punishment. The ancient Fathers, particularly, Augustine, Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Jerome, maintained the doctrine of future punishment by material fire. Whether we conclude there will be punishment by material fire or not, we must conclude there will be bodily sufferings, because the soul cannot suffer greatly without affecting the body; and the finally impenitent will be completely miserable. But however this may be, bodily distress will not be the principal punishment of the wicked. Mental sufferings will chiefly constitute the misery of the damned, These will arise from various sources, viz. clear convictions of sin, guilt, and ill desert; recollection of the kind admonitions and remonstrances of God, of His ministers and people, and that salvation was once within their reach, but now, by their neglect, is removed at an infinite distance from them, and that they must dwell forever in utter despair; raging desires of ease and pleasure never gratified; association with the devil and his angels, and all wicked and impenitent men, who will torment one another; the knowledge that God overrules their sin and misery for the good of His friends; banishment from the favourable presence of God; a view of the righteous in exquisite happiness; and the sinfulness and malignity of their hearts. These will constitute a hell within them, and lay a foundation for wretchedness without intermission, abatement or end.(0)
(e) Matt. 25. 41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matt. 13. 30, 40, 41, 42, 49, 50. Let both grow toge until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his
Q. 8. Is hell a place, or a state merely?
A. It is a place. It is thus represented in the Scriptures. There is the same reason for believing hell to be local, that there is for believing heaven to be local.
angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. So shall it be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Rev. 19. 20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. Rev. 20. 10, 14, 15. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev. 21. 8. But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. Rev. 14. 10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. Matt. 3.12. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Mark 9.43, 44. And 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 shall never be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Isa. 33. 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath Surprized the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Ps. 11. 6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup. 2 Thess. 1. 9. "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. Dan. 12. 2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Q. 9. Is it dangerous to believe in the doctrine of universal salvation?
A. It is; for, being false, it leads to the neglect of true religion, to ease in impenitence, to encouragement in immorality and sin. Nothing in universalism is calculated to restrain men from vicious conduct, and make them virtuous and happy; whereas the opposite doctrine has directly the contrary effect. The truth of a religious doctrine may be ascertained by the moral tendency it naturally has. If its tendency be good, the doctrine is true; if its tendency be bad, the doctrine is false. But the tendency of the doctrine of universal salvation is bad; the doctrine, therefore, must be false.
Q. 10. Why do any of mankind embrace the doctrine of universal salvation?
A. Not because there is evidence, that it is true, for there is none; but because it permits indulgence in sin with impunity, and because the thought of suffering eternal misery is terrifick and distressing.
Q. il. Can God be good, though the wicked should be miserable in the future world? A.
God is good though misery exists here. Why then may He not be good, though misery should exist hereafter. Indeed goodness obliges Him to exercise His punitive justice towards the wicked, for this is not only what they deserve, but what the general good of the universe requires.
Q. 12. What would be a legitimate inference from the doctrine of universal salvation in reference to the old world, to Sodom and Gomorrah, and to Judas, from God's treatment of them?
A. The inference would be, that God was a friend to sin, and an enemy to holiness, and for their sins received to heaven the old world by a flood of waters, while Noah, for his righteousness, was doomed to dwell longer in this world of afflictions; that God, for their abominations, took the inhabit
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ants of Sodom and Gomorrah, by a storm of fire and brimstone, to the mansions of everlasting blessedness, while Lot, for his piety, had to lead a longer pilgrimage of sorrow on the plains of Zoar; and that God delivered Judas, for his perfidy in betraying his Lord and Master, by his own act of selfmurder, from this evil world, and received him to eternal bliss, while the other apostles, for their faithfulness and devotedness to their Master's cause, were left to spend upon the earth years of toil and sufferings. The same reasoning would apply to Pharaoh and his host, Korah and his company, Ananias and Sapphira, and many similar instances in the present day. In view of these considerations, we leave it to those, who embrace the doctrine of universal salvation, to determine how God's conduct is to be justified.
Q. 13. How ought those who espouse the cause of universal salvation to be treated?
A. With the greatest kindness-q-with the most tender concern for their salvation, that if possible they may be led to renounce their errour, and embrace the truth as it is in Jesus.
Q. 14. How ought mankind to act in view of the future punishment, which awaits the ungodly?
A. They ought immediately to repent of all their sins, believe in Christ, and give all diligence to prepare for death, judgment, and eternity, and thus secure their everlasting salvation.(0)
(f) 2 Pet. 3. 11–14. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him inpeace, without spot, and blameless. Luke 21. 33, 34, 36. Heaven