« AnteriorContinua »
saith, that "he died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments." Luke 16. 22-24. In relation to the point in view, St. John says, "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, 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; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever ; and they have no rest day nor night." Rev. 14. The same writer says, "The devil, who 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, for ever and ever." Rev. 20.
These divine passages clearly show, that neither wicked men nor devils are to be annihilated; but they shall have to exist in misery to eternity. This kind of testimony might be greatly enlarged; but it is altogether unnecessary; for what has been said, is ample and conclusive. There is no such thing as rising up against the evidence which has been advanced, but by an absolute refusal to submit to the decision of the Scriptures. But, I hope, my hearers, that you are not yet prepared to take such a fatal stand. If I know my heart, the object in these discourses has been, to preserve you from placing yourselves in such an awful situation.
The improvement of this subject must be reserved for the next occasion. Take heed, therefore, how ye hear; and prepare to meet your God. AMEN.
MALACHI IV. 1.
Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
In the foregoing sermon, the annihilation of the wicked, with some of the arguments by which its advocates endeavor to support that theory, have been exhibited. But in opposition to it, such evidence has been adduced, as ought to be deemed sufficient. We may, therefore, consider the everlasting existence, and consequent misery of the finally impenitent, as a doctrine fully established. All that remains to be done, is the
1. If sinners are not to be annihilated, but eternally punished, we must conclude that their case is highly alarming. It is impossible for them to flee from God, either in this, or in a future world. As He will not annihilate them, and no others can, they will have to be eternally miserable. If they could, no doubt they would give: ten thousand worlds to escape from their existence. They will learn, by a painful experience, that "it is a fearful
thing to fall into the hands of the living God." "He that made them will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show them no favor." They are all now under the condemnation of the Almighty. The awful but just sentence will never be revoked, while they continue to oppose the government and law of God. Alas! "enmity against God," is, in truth, the character of man by nature! The opposition is reciprocal, and constantly maintained; and therefore, God saith of sinners, "My soul loathed them, and their souls abhorred me." Zech. 11. 8. As sinners are fatally determined never to yield to God, and as there is no possibility of withstanding his power, their case is truly awful. The language of Heaven to them is, "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the day that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." Ezek. 22. 14. In fact, the impenitent will neither be able to endure their misery, nor to flee from it. There could be no such heartrending expressions used with propriety, if sinners are all to be annihilated at death. No man could be aware of the moment of that event, nor feel the least distress under the operation. The slight anticipations. which sinners may have now of such an end, must constitute all their sufferings. This can bear no comparison with having to appear at the bar of God; to see an angry Judge of infinite power; to hear Him say, "Depart from me, ye cursed ;" and then to sink into eternal flames! Every unconverted soul is exposed every moment to all the evil that has been described. The Lord saith, "He that believeth not, is condemned already." John 3. 18. No condition can be more alarming than that of an unconverted sinner, until the sentence of Heaven shall have been actually executedThis led an Apostle to say, "Knowing therefore the terror af the Lord, we persuade men." 2 Cor. 5. 11. When
these solemn truths are fastened on the mind, by divine operation, the sinner begins to be awakened. His cry then is, "What shall I do to be saved?" In the view of sin and divine wrath, every degree of his selfish peace is completely destroyed. The apparent peace of a sinful world, is truly surprising. Alas! they have no proper sense of their guilt and danger. They hate to open their ears to the sound of searching preaching, lest their guilty repose should be disturbed. But however great their ease may be, ministers and Christians are alarmed about them; and they cry to God that their perishing souls may be saved. The anxiety of the Christian world is increasing greatly, in respect to the case of sinners; but it is very far from being equal to what it ought to be. There is great need of more copious showers of divine grace, on the church, and on the world. "The glory of God must yet cover the earth, as the waters fill the sea." His people, therefore, are now called in a pressing manner, to unite their prayers and exertions. The command is, "Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." He is now causing many of His servants to say, "For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth."
2. If the wicked are not to be annihilated, but eternally punished, we may learn the vast importance of apprizing them of their guilt and danger. The Holy Scriptures reflect sufficient light on this mournful case. The universality of sin, and the total depravity of every human being, are truths clearly revealed and powerfully impressed there. At the judgment day, sinners will see that it was not for the want of light, on their own case, that
they remained in darkness. It is a chosen darkness-not liking to retain God in their knowledge-saying to the Almighty, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. God warns men not to sin against Him, by His commandments and prohibitions, by His threatnings and judgments. He presses them to embrace Christ, and to flee from the wrath to come, by the most tender expostulations-the most affecting invitations-and by the glorious promises of eternal life. He has barred the road to endless destruction in such a manner, that it requires great determination and perseverence to reach that dreadful place, which is "prepared for the devil and his angels !" "Why will ye 'die ?" is sounded in the ears of sinners from day to day. The glorious door of salvation, through divine grace, is opened wide to mankind. The Lord may truly say, "What more could I have done for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked that it should bring forth grapes; wherefore, brought it forth wild grapes?" In a word, every warning that sinners need, is contained in the Scriptures. In addition to these Holy Oracles, He hath appointed religious instructors, to press men with every possible argument, "in season and out of season," to repent, believe, and turn to God. Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and ordinary ministers have been, and now are, employed in this important business. Their instruction, in all ages, has been, "Say ye to the wicked, It shall be ill with him." But to penitents, they have always been directed to say, in the name of the Lord, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isa. 1. 18. To the obstinate, they have always been directed to proclaim, that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousnes of men"-to say, "Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the