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And these shall go away into everlasting punishment : but the righteous
into life eternal.
While calling the attention of this congregation to the consideration of this portion of our Saviour's testimony, many difficulties are presented to the mind of the speaker; some of which it may be profitable to
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1. The long established use and application of this text, by commentators, preachers, and all denominations of christians stand in direct opposition, in one important particular, to the use and application which your servant feels himself obligated to make of it. The particular alluded to is the applying of this text to a future state of our existence. A may be added another particular, nearly as universally assented to as the former, which is the belief that this text proves the endless duration of misery. 2d. The
power of tradition in the human mind forms the most material difficulty which seems to oppose our attempt to bring the true meaning of our Saviour, in the passage before us, to the hearer's understanding. It is vain, my friends, to pretend that we are free in our minds from the force of education. Indeed we ought not to be. We were wisely so constituted, that what we imbibe in our youth should fix a lasting prepossession in our minds, in favor of opinions which are recommended by our instructors, and against those which we have been taught to view erroneous. But we should do well to consider, that while it is acknowledged that great benefits arise from this natural and
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part from it."
necessary bias of the human mind, it is equally true, that it may often so happen as to produce effects most pernicious. Solomon says; “ train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not de
Here the author relies on the force of education, and gives a most wholesome advice to those who have the charge of children, to bring them up in the way they should go. And it is furthermore evident that the recommendation designed to guard against the unhappy effects of the same power in a case where an erroneous education should be imposed on youth.
Having been taught in our tender years that our heavenly Father has ordained a state of the most dreadful torment in the future state for those who are sinners in this world, and having been instructed at the sarne time to apply the text under consideration, together with almost all passages of scripture, which speak of the punishment of the wicked to this future state of misery, it has become as habitual for the mind to apply such passages to this future misery, as to apply the names London, Boston, and Philadelphia to the Cities of these names; or as to apply the names Washington, Franklin, and Adams to the distinguished statesmen of
Under these circumstances, the opposer of divine truth has nothing to do, but to rest upon the prejudice of the public mind. He comes forward with all possible assurance and boldly asserts that our Saviour has laid it down in the most solemn and unequivocal manner that “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned;" laying an emphasis on the damnatory term that causes our nerves to tremble. He depends entirely on the prepossessions of the public mind to apply this damnation to a future state ; an application in no way intimated by our Saviour, and by no means intimated by any words in connexion with the passage.
In the same way the preacher, who applies our text to a state of punishment in the future world, manages with the prejudice of his hearers. He says; the
divine teacher himself has told us, that at the last judg. ment, when all the dead are raised and brought to the tremendous bar of God, the sinner will be placed on the left hand, and sentenced to everlasting punishment. He depends entirely on the blind prejudice of his hearers' minds to justify his assertions, and the application he makes of the text. There is not a word in the text nor in any part of its connexions, that intimates any thing about a resurrection of any from the dead, or that the judgment treated of in this chapter is the last judgment, or that any part of the subject belongs to a future state.
But notwithstanding the embarrassments which have been named, and another which is by no means inconsiderable, the very limited abilities of the speaker, which are sensibly felt as inadequate to make a proper arrangement of the momentous subject before us, and altogether unequal to the task of contending against the host of prejudices which are marshalled against the simplicity that is in Christ, yet there are two considerations which are highly encouraging. The testimony of Jesus which lies before us, and which stands connected with our text makes our subject $0 very plain that it seems to promise conviction to every mind; and the remarkable candor which has characterised this congregation, while attending to this course of lectures, gives that support to the speaker, without which he would have been discouraged.
It may be well for us to raise some queries respecting the general use of this portion of scripture, by which the mind of the hearer may be the better prepared to seek for its true application.
1st. As this passage is usually applied to a future state, let us ask whether in order to justify such an application it be not indispensable that some part of the testimony in connexion with the text should designate that it belongs, not to this state, but to a future world? For instance, should the speaker, this evening contend that this twenty-fifth of Matthew treated of things which took place before Noah's flood, should you not feel justisfied in opposing such an ex
travagant statement by saying, that there is not a single intimation in the whole chapter that gives any countenance to it? You certainly would. Then be s0 candid, kind hearer, as to acknowledge, that in order to justify the application of this scripture to a future state of existence, there must be found something in the testimony that so applies it.
2d. As it is the current opinion that in order for the accomplishment of the judgment treated of in this chapter, all the dead must be raised, have we not a right to contend, that in order to support this opinion, the resurrection of the dead should be distinctly stated somewhere in the general account?
If the speaker should now say, that according to the testimony of the Saviour concerning the judgment in the 25th of Matthew, the gift of speech will be given to all the beasts, to all the birds, and to all the fishes ; and that at that time we shall hear them all talk in our native language, if you thought proper to refute such a visionary notion, would it not be sufficient to say that there is nothing in the chapter or its connexion that gives any authority for such a statement? It is hoped then that you will acknowledge, that if it be allowed that all the dead will be raised be fore the judgment, recorded in this chapter, can take place, we must be able to find authority for this opinion in the account before us.
3d. As it is held that the judgment of which we read in this chapter is the last judgment, is it not very proper that we should be able to find some proof of this idea in some part of the testimony of the divine instructor ?
But in relation to these particulars, we feel confident in what has already been said, that there is no intimation in the whole account before us, that this judgment is the last judgment, or that the dead will be raised to be brought to it, or that it relates to a future state.
The attention of the hearer is now solicited to the following statements, which the speaker expects to prove in this discourse!
1st. The time of the judgment under consideration, is confined to the generation in which our Saviour lived on earth, according to his own testimony.
2d. The Jews, as a people, who rejected the gospel of Christ, and persecuted his apostles were those who were sentenced to everlasting punishment. And,
3d. Those who believed in Jesus and received the testimony, and administered to the necessities of his persecuted Apostles, were those that were blessed with life eternal.
The better to bring those statements, accompanied with their proper proofs, before the mind of the hearer, we shall commence our examination of the divine testimony where the subject before us seems to begin. This is in the latter part of the 23d chapter.
It seems that Jesus was in the temple where he ad dressed the Scribes and Pharisees, calling them hypocrites, blind guides, serpents, and a generation of vipers. He then proceeds to testify to them the judgment which would come upon them, and the occasion of it. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye
shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacarias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.
Be so good, my friends, as to remember this declaration of the Saviour. Jle here speaks of the most tremendous judgment that ever fell on mankind, and he confines the time to that generation. He then lamented over Jerusalem, spake of its desolation, and said ; “ Ye shall not see me henceforth till
blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Here ends the 23d chapter, and the 24th commences by informing us that “ Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him, for to show him the buildings of the temple: And Jesus
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