Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

swear, shall swear in truth and righteousness ;

shall rebellion cease, and disobedience be no

[ocr errors]

more.

he says,

The apostle St. Paul, seems to quote this passage of Scripture with some variation, in his epistle to the Philippians Chap. ii. 9, 10, 11; where, speaking of the sufferings of Christ, and the consequences of the same,

6 Wherefore God also bath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name ; that at (or in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Now, this confession appears to me to imply a willing subjection to the authority of the Sovior, brought about by the operation of the blessed Spirit; for the same apostle saith, " Wherefore, I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed; and no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," I Cor. xii. 3.

Then the argument thrown into a syllogistical form, will run thus :

If every knee shall how, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; then shail all rebellion cease.

But the first is true; therefore also the last. If every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father; and no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; then sball the Holy Ghost work effectually in every man. As the major is proved by Phil. ii. 11, and the minor by 1 Cor. xii. 3, the conclusion must be evident to a demonstration.

Friend. I acknowledge, that in the present state, no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost ; but when they shall stand before his bar, they shall confess him Lord, to the glory of God the Father by force.

Minister. But St. Paul speaks generally, “ That no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost :'' He does not mention time or place, but represents the matter impossible ; beside every ex: pression here used, implies a willing, and not a foreed subjection ; as bowing in the name of Jesus, and confessing him to be Lord of all, to the glory of God the Father.

Friend. But we are sometimes told, that God is as much glorified by the eternal damnation of some, as by the eternal salvation of others.

Minister. I have, indeed, heard some assert the same : But as the glory of God is the ultimate end of all that he doth, we may properly ask, why he should take any pains to saye mankind ?

But, above all, there is one objection that may be brought against this idea, which is hard to answer ; and that is, God hath said, “ For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked ; but that the wicked turn from his way, and live; turn ye, turn yé, from your evil ways; for why will ye die, o house of Israel ?" Ezek. xviii. 23. xxxii. 11. It is evi, dent to me, that God must take pleasure in what glo. rifies his name ; and as he hath sworn that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, it must be set down for a truth, that punishment, without having the reformation and subjection of rebels for its end, is uinworthy of the Being wé adore ; and even now, it is called “his strange work," and "his strange act." But to proceed : If endless misery were a' trath, I should not expect that the mystery of the will of God, which he hath made known unto bis chosen, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, would be, " That, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one (or rehead) all things in Christ, both which are in heav. en, and which are in earth," Ephes. 1. 9, 10. Far less should I expect to find, that " it pleased the

[ocr errors]

Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, hava ing made peace by the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col i. 19, 20. And I am not able to imagine, hogy St. John's vision (Rev. v. 13.) could be just, if endless damnation is true, where he says,

6. And every creature who is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” In the nature of things, it appears impossible to me to believe these passages to be strictly and literally true, if endless misery be a truth : Therefore I say, that i should not expect any intimation, far less absolute promises, that God would destroy death, the works of the devil, and make all things new, with many others of the like nature,

We find it promised, that every knee shail bow; and lest some might say, that every knee, meant only some knees, it is explained by the inspired apostle, to mean all things in heaven and in earth, and under the earth ; and not only so, but every tongue shall swear, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father; which could not be, except all were reconciled to him, whether things in heaven, or things in earth : Wherefore, this is also promised ; and, in consequence of their being subdued, humbled, made obedient, and reconciled, they shall be reheaded in Christ ; never more to go astray, nor break that band of eternal union, which shall bind all together in one body, joined to one head; and all shall give never ceasing praise to God and the Lamb, world without end.

As endless damnation appears to me to be against the promises, I cannot hold it as an article of my

faith ; but were there no promises or intimations to the contrary in Scripture, I should not require it to be threatened in any stronger terms than it is : 1 should

believe is as a truth, though I might not be able at present, to see the propriety and equity thereof; I should never suffer my weak reason to gainsay Divine Revelation : But my difficulty arises from these exPress promises of God, which compose so great a part of that book which is given us as a rule of faith and practice ; and which promises expressly assert a future state of things beyond sin, sorrow, pain, and death of every kind; when all things shall be made Dew; and death, the last enemy of God, Christ, and man, shall be destroyed, swallowed up in victory ; and sin, which is its sting, shall be no more in existence; and tears shall be all wiped away from all faces.

But, though I have acknowledged that I should not dare to dispute the doctrine of endless damnation, unless God had given intimations, and even promises to the contrary ; since I find several dreadful threaten. ings in the Scripture, in which the word aionion, or cus erlasting, is joined with the punishment of the wicked; yet a very little attention will shew us, that the felicity of the righteous is promised in much stronger language, than the misery of the wicked is threatened in the Scriptures.

I remark in the first place, that the word aionion, rendered everlasting, or eternal, is used much oftener in St. John's gospel alone, to express the continuance of the life, or well being, of the righteous, than it is used in the whole Bible, to express the misery of the wicked; and this remark is strengthened by observing, that he never once uses the word in his whole gospel, nor in his epistles, to set forth the duration of punishment. See St. John, iii. 15, 16, 36. ir. 14-V. 24. vi. 27, 40, 47, 54, 68. x. 28.-xii. 25, 50. xvii. 2. 3. in all which passages, the word aionion is used to express the continuance of the well being of the righteous.

But not to insist on this : I observe, that there are many stronger expressions (even in our translation) o set forth the well being of the righteous, than any

that are used as connected with the misery of the wicked. Isaiah xlv. 17. we read, “Israel shall be saved in JEHOVAH with an everlasting salvation ; ye shall not be ashamed, nor confounded, world without end.” But where do we read, that the misery of the wicked shall have no end? The word endless, or world without end, is never once used by our translators, to express the eternity of punishment, in the whole bible.

We read, in 1 Pet. i. 4. of "an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled; and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven :" And in Chap. v. 4. of a crown of glory, that fadeth not away. ;” and, Heb. xii. 29 of a "kingdom, which cannot be moved :" And our blessed Saviour's words are remarkably strong upon this subject, innany places; as, in St. Luke's gospel, Chap. xx. 35, 36, where he says, “But they who shall be acscounted worthy to obtain that world, and the (first) resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage ; neither can they dielany more ; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection :" And in St. John, x. 27, 28, 29, we read thus : “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow ine: and I give unto them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all ; and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” In Chap. xi. 25, 26, Christ says, "I am the resurrection and the life ; be that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live : And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” And in chap. vi. 50, he says, “This is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.And he expresses the perpetuity of the heavenly bliss, and of our enjoyment of the same, by advising us, saying, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thievos do not break through nor steal. Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom,

« AnteriorContinua »