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Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which was not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileih not; where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth,” St Matth. vi. 20. and St. Luke xii. 32, 33.
This is that which St Paul calleth a better and an enduring substance," Heb. xii. 34. But what shall i say of the apostle's words, 2 Cor. iv. 7 ? "For our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us, kath hyperbolen eis hyperbolen aionion baros doxes katergazetai emin : A glory exceeding aionion, or eternal, to an excess. Here is an hyperbole upon an hyperbole ; beyond eternal; a far more exceeding eternal weight of glory.
But it is not so much by the different words made use of to denote the permanency of the felicity of the righteous, from those which are used to express the duration of the misery of the wicked, that I judge of the continuance of the one beyond the other; so much, as from the different sources from whence they flow, and of their different natures.
The happiness of those who are reconciled to God arises from their union to Christ ; in which if they continue grounded and settled during this present life, wherein they pass through so many sore trials, the union will become so permanent, as that it will be impossible to dissolve it; and the very nature of things shews, that if we abide firm to the end, through all difficulties, and overcome all those things that would seek to separate us from Christ, when we come into that state where we shail meet with no more temptations, nor any thing that has the least tendency to draw our minds from God, we must, of consequence, remain attached, or united to him, while we have an exist
This doctrine was known to David ; and therefore, he said, "While I live, will I praise JEHOVAN ; I will sing praises unto my God, while I have any he.. ing." Psal. cxlvi. 2. civ. 83. It may be proved, that the union shall continue between Christ and his faithful ones after this life, and shall become indissoluble ; and that neither "tribulation, nor distress, nor perse
cution nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword ; neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us (who abide in him) from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." See Rom. viii. 35--39. See also St. John, xv. 4, 5, 7, 9, 10. 1 John, ii. 24, 98.
The never ending continuance of the life, or state of well being of the righteous, may be certainly inferred, with the greatest ease, from the continuance of the life of Christ; who is made an high priest, "not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endlesss life,” Heb. vii. 16. And he hath expressly declared, "Because I live, ye shall live also," St. John xiv. 19. Thus as long as the cause remains, the effect must continue ; but the cause, even the life of Christ, inust undoubtedly continue to endless periods ; therefore also, the effect, or the life of those who are joined to him in an indissoluble union, shall continue. The apostle Paul understood logic as weil as any in our days; and lae thus reasons upon this glorious truth ; "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we (who are led by the Spirit of God, and have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father) are the children of God: And if children, then heirs ; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ ; if so be that we suffer with bim, hai we may be also glorified together.” Rom. viii 16, 17.
Now, as Christ, the principal heir, cannot be disinherited ; so, neither can those who are joint heirs with him. The Holy Spirit is given us as the earnest of our inheritance and to seal us to the day of rédemption, 2 Cor. v. 5. Ephes. i. 13, 14, and iv. 50.Christ is the head, and the overcomers through the blood of the Lamb, are the members of his body, and sball inherit all things ; he will be their God, and they shall be his children; he is their life, and he will make them pillars in the temple of God, and they
St. Paul say,
shall go no more out," Rev. iii. 12. " When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory," Col. iii. 4. And St. John says, 65 Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God ; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like hiin ; for we shall see him as he is," I John iii. 1, 2. Thus, we are sure, from the Scriptures, and from the nature of things, that those who are drawn by the Father, united to the Son, sealed by the Holy Ghost, willingly choose the Lord for their portion, and constantly adhere to him to the end, shall never be separated from him in the future ages; for he himself saith, “ As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me,” St. John, vi. 57. And as Christ is the great attracting loadstone, that shall finally draw all things to him ; it is evident, that he will preserve for ever, those whom he hath thoroughly drawn to himself, and who have adhered to him through the time of trial. Thus is the life eternal of the righteous, or their endless state of well being, expressed in much stronger language than the misery of the wicked ; and moreover, has its foundation in the union between Chrisi and his church, and in the nature of things.
Friend. But if the Spirit of God dwelling in us, and thereby causing us to adhere to Christ, and to follow him through all trials, makes our union to him so perfect, that nothing shall be able to separate us from him to all eternity ; since we are confirmed in habits of goodness by free choice, and by oît repeated exer cises ; why, by the same rule shall not the misery of the wicked be endless, seeing that they have chosen and adhered to evil through life, and by constant practice are confirmed therein ? Evil 'is grown up to a body in them; and it appears to me as difficult to re
form and bring them off from their vicious habits, as it would be to draw the saints in light from their adherence to virtueand goodness.
Minister. Your reasoning would be conclusive, upon the supposition that there are two eternal principles, viz. good and evil; if it can be proved, that evil is coexistent with goodness, that it hath always been ; then, the absolute eternity of sin and misery may be easily inferred. This is the true foundation of endless misery, and it came from the Pagan theology : The Heathens believed in two eternal principles, ever warring against each other, and neither fully prevailing ; that men had the liberty of enlisting under which they pleased ; and that those who in life choose virtue should enjoy endless felicity; while those who chose and adhered to vice, would eternally remain under its dominion, and of consequence be always miserable.Thus, the infernal deities being judged by the poor Pagans to be as eternal as the good gods, and more powerful ; they sacrificed more to the evil principle than to the good, out of fear, and to appease the ariger of those abhorred, malevolent agents; hence, the frequency of human sacrifices.
Now. when the Christian Religion triumphed over Paganism in the Roman empire, many of the philosophers embraced and professed it, but withal, retained many of their Pagan notions ; among which was the eternity of these two opposite principles ; hence arose the Ancient sect of the Manichees, who believe not only the eternal existence of two contrary eternal Gods, one good and the other evil ; but also, that all visible things were created by the devil; and upon this principle, they might argue the universality of damnation, with as much ease and certainty, as we, upon the contrary, may argue the certainty of the Universal Restoration, according to that glorious promise of God, Isajah, lvii. 16, 17, 18, 19, “ For I will not contend for ever, neither will I always be wroth; for the Spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetous
ness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me and was wroth; and he went on frowardly, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways and will heal him : 1 will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith JEHOVAH; and I will heal him."
Those who venture to contradict their Maker, and say, tbat he will contend for ever, and be always woroth; ought to give as good a reason, at least, why he will, as he hath given wby he will not; and, consequently, must prove him not to be the Father of all spirits, and the Creator of all souls : If, therefore, it can be demonstrated, that Satan is an eternal, self-existent, immutable, evil being, and that he hath created all, or a part of mankind, (as some asserted formerly, and as I myself have heard lately) or that he hath drawn some of God's creatures in to such an union with bimself, that they cannot be separated from him ; and that he will maintain his crown, throne and kingdom, in opposition to God, to all endless duration; then, and not till then, may the eternity of sin and misery, be concluded from the nature of things, with equal ease and certainty, as the perfection and happiness of the saints.
But if the kingdom of evil, and all the works of sin; Šatan and darkness, shall be totally destroyed by Christ, and all things shall be reheaded in him, who is the head of all principality and power, as well as of every man : See Ephes. i. 18. Col. ij. 10. I Cor. xi. 3. If every knee shall bow, and tongue shall swear, and all things, whether in heaven or in earth, or under the earth, shall confess that he is Lord; add all things whether in heaven or in earth, shall be reconciled to him: See Isaiah, xlv. 23. Phil. ü. 10. Col. i. 20. And all kingdoms (not excepting that of the prince of the power of the air) shall be broken and destroyed by the kingdom of Christ, which sha!! itself be yielded up into the kingdom of boundless love, where judyiment shall be no more : What shall we say of that