Page images

and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched ; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

By this passage the case is perfectly clear that the worm, and the fire that is not quenched are in this state of existence, where times of worship are measured by new moons and by sabbaths.

And there can be no doubt but the Saviour, in our text had his eye on this passage in Isaiah, and spake of the same subject.

We will now allow the objector liberty to say, that it is evident that the passage in Isaiah alludes to the time of the new heavens, and the new earth, which must refer to a future state.

We reply to the objector, in this case, and say; “Ye greatly err, not knowing the scriptures,” for the prophet in his 65th chapter speaks as follows; “Behold I create new heavens, and a new earth ; and the forner shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy-And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.' Will houses be built, and vineyards be planted in a future world? No; all these scriptures evidently regard things which belong to our present state of mortal existence.

By a careful comparison of the passages to which we have referred, and by taking into the connexion one in St. Peter, and another in Revelations, on the subject of the new heavens, and new earth, and on the new Jerusalem, it appears clear that those scriptures were designed to represent the gospel dispensation. St. Paul

, in his epistle to the Hebrews, who understood the language of Isaiah, says to the believers in Jesus; “Ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." He does not say, that they will get to this heavenly Jerusalem in a future world, but he tells them, that that they have already come to it.

But what does Isaiah mean by saying; “They shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me ; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh?"

Reply-By all flesh, no doubt, the prophet meant the Gentiles of different nations who should come into the gospel church and covenant; and by the men that transgressed against the Lord, he meant the Jews who rejected their Messiah. These Jews are represented as tormented with a gnawing worm and a perpetual fire, and to be an abhorring to the Christian Church of Gentiles.

These remarks seem to bring us directly to the meaning of our text. “It is better for thee to ente into life maimed, than, having two hands, to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched ; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” That is, than to be cast into the state of condemnation and outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, into which the Jews who reject the gospel will be cast.

Will it now be asked, what will become of those Israelites who rejected the Messiah and have been cast into this state of condemnation? Let St. Paul give the answer; “ Blindness in part is bappened to Israel until the fulness of the gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved.

As it has been premised that the testimony by which a belief in a proposition is to be established, must be free from contradiction, before we can allow that the doctrine of endless misery is proved by the scriptures, they must be found entirely free from


declarations to the contrary.

St. Paul informs us, that God will have all men to be saved," and that Jesus “ gave himself a ransom for all” men. Now if God's will and the Saviour's ran

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

som finally fail of their object, what can we prove from the scriptures? If those whom God wills to save, and whom the Saviour ransomed are to be miserable eternally, who are to be saved ?

The fact is, there is no such testimony in the scriptures, which can, with the least degree of fairness be applied to a state of never-ending misery; and in fact if there were any such testimony in the scriptures, yet it could not prove the proposition, so long as there remain so many positive declarations against it.

Moreover, we feel it to be a duty to state, that in room of straining particular passages, which speak of the punishment of the wicked, so as to favor the idea of unlimited punishment, we should feel justified in restraining any passage, could such be found, that should seem to favor an opinion so dishonorable to God, and so revolting to our best feelings.

It surely should not require so much direct testimony from the scripture to prove that God will have mercy on all men, as to prove that he will not ; for if we judge the divine Being by his conduct to men in this ife, the evidence of his universal goodness is perfectly ample. And David says, “the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.'

If what the scriptures assert on this subject be true, and if we may credit the testimony of divine providence, we must conclude, that the doctrine that teaches unmerciful, never-ending punishment, is a direct impeachment of the divine Being; and is the greatest specimen of ingratitude that is to be found in all the world.

This ungrateful doctrine is now held up to be the guardian of morality! In order to be moral we must solemnly and heartily accuse the kind Father of our spirits, who loves sinners and sent his Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, of having predestinated millions of human beings to a state of endless


before the creation of the world! If re. ligion and morality begin with such ingratitude, what will be their progress ? and what will be their end? There is one more argument which the opposer


may think ought to be noticed, which is the following. As Jesus says, in our text; "it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to be cast into hell, &c.; as entering into life means entering into a state of eternal felicity, hereafter, so being cast into hell, being the opposite of entering into life, seems to favor the opinion that this hell is in the future, eternal world.

In replying to this argument, we shall bring the principal design of the text before the hearer, and introduce the argument of the Saviour for the purpose for which he used it.

And here the hearer is called on to observe that the objection to which we are now about to reply is in fact, founded on a mistake. By entering into life, we have no evidence to believe, that the Saviour had any

allusion to entering into a state of complete happiness, in the eternal, immortal state ; but we have evidence to the contrary of this, even in the text itself. Observe the words; “it is better for thee to enter into life maimed," &c. He surely did not mean, were to enter into a state of immortality in the eternal world maimed.

John Baptist, says; "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” St. John says, know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” St. Paul says,

St. Paul says, “there is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit

. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” To the Ephesians he says; “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ.” This is that life into which those who believe and obey the gospel enter maimed.

But the immortal state is represented glorious and complete.

We shall now solicit the attention of the audience to the consideration of what is meant by being maimed, n our text, and to an illustration of the proper object

that men




of the Saviour's argument. Observe the introduction of our subject. “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off'; for it is better for thee to enter into life maimed,” &c.

The evident meaning of the Saviour seems to be this; if one of your nearest connexions in the world, even if one as dear to you as a hand, should oppose your yielding obedience to the gospel, part with this dear connexion rather than part with divine truth. And though you thereby feel as one who has lost a hand, yet what you gain is more than what you lose. In this connexion, Jesus mentions the cutting off of a foot, and the plucking out an eye for the same cause as the cutting off of the hand ; and it is very evident that this recommendation was given on account of the opposition that was constantly in exercise against the cause of truth, and which he knew would increase unto grievous persecution.

Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth ; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of

He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

It was hard indeed for the disciples of Jesus to part with such tender connexions, and they, no doubt, felt

, in some respect, as people do, who have lost á hand, a foot, or an eye ; but then on the other hand, they had Jesus who is worth more than all they lost.

St. Paul was called to enter into life at the expense of all that he held dear, of a worldly nature. Brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, educated a Pharisee, in


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »