Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

66

"throne of his glory all nations, and separated them one from "another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats: "Then shall the KING say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for "you from the foundation of the world. Then also, shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed, "into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the "righteous into everlasting life." Surely, this passage, in the nature of its imagery, in the uniformity of its wording and construction, in the naked, forensic explicitness of its style, has every thing that can be imagined of sedulous provision against the possibility of doubt, subterfuge, or evasion. The tenor of these remarkable verses, and the entire want, throughout, of any mitigating or ambiguous phrase, appear in the most forcible light, when viewed in contrast with the eminent humanity of our Lord's personal character. It is not the heated and angry enthusiast-it is not even Peter, or James, or Paul, it is Jesus who speaks ;-He, of whom it is recorded, that he ever melted

6

in compassion' at the sight even of the lighter circumstances of human misery. It is Jesus who predicts the day when he shall drive impenitent men from his presence, with the language of execration.

If, with respect to the more direct affirmations of Scripture, it appears that our Lord expresses himself in the terms which would naturally present themselves to a man of frank character and upright intentions, who designed to inspire the apprehension of a hopeless condemnation, as the consequence of impenitence, the same thing may be affirmed in regard to the indirect branch of the evidence which bears upon the question. While, with the doctrine of Universal Restoration in our minds, passages of the first class necessitate the suspicion of some verbal chicanery, some fraudulent etymological subterfuge, those of the latter class, including the parables, images, and incidental allusions, which refer to the future condition of the wicked, must, on this supposition, without an exception that we remember, be charged with a remarkable infelicity of illustration and inappropriateness of style. It appears to us, that one at least of the following ideas, forms the basis of the thought in all these parables, images, and allusions, namely-irremediable loss-hopeless, intrinsic_worthlessness—or final abandonment on the part of the disposing Agent. "What "shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose "his soul?" "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." "Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in "bell." "He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, "but the wrath of God abideth on him." Again: "The ax

" is laid to the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that "bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire." "He will gather his wheat into the garner, but He will "burn up the chaff, with unquenchable fire." "The tares are the children of the wicked one: as, therefore, the tares are "gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of "the world." "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth "as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast "them into the fire, and they are burned.” "They gathered "the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.". "Those "mine enemies, bring them hither, and slay them before me." "He will miserably destroy (xaxws awσ) those wicked men.", "On whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to "powder." Nor, as we may remark in this place, must it be considered as an insignificant circumstance, that the specific pathologic symptom of despair, that ultimate condition of the mind which results from the dominance of an unmixed emotion, is the one uniformly attached by our Lord, in his brief descriptions of future wo: "There shall be weeping and gnashing "of teeth." This phrase is not appropriate, if the thing it is intended to signify, be the pungent sorrow of hopeful correction; but it perfectly accords with the import of the above cited passages, if it be considered as designed to express the consciousness of having sustained an irremediable loss.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

There is a branch of Scripture evidence, bearing upon the question in debate, to which we find not even an allusion, in the volume before us. It is, perhaps, the more deserving of attention, from the very circumstance of its having an indirect, although an inseparable connexion with the subject. Those of our readers whose thoughts have frequently rested upon the painful consideration of human perdition, will remember, we doubt not, to have had, at times, a train of ideas similar to the following, pass through their minds.

Unhappy Man! he enters upon the unalienable gift of 'existence, as though he were the inheritor alone of a day, and of its trifles. He is born blind to his own incalculable destinyblind to his relation to the Infinite Being. Almost all the 'circumstances of his condition, seem contrived to aggravate 'the incredible fatuity, which impels him to balance the transient 6 good of animal life, against the interests of an endless duration.

[ocr errors]

The ceaseless voice and solicitation of grovelling wisheseven the vulgar familiarity with existence, produced by the degrading conditions of the body, and the uniform repetition of minute events, all seem burdened with the same fatal advice: "Forget God-forget thyself." The thousand enticements of this painted scene, are leagued to ensure the oblivion of a futurity beyond the grave.'-The grave! This mound of earth, what is

<

it but a grave? Yet he forgets, that the gay hillock on which he sports and dreams, is truly the tottering crust of a fathomless abyss. Nor have counteracting realities ever the force of these delusive impressions. That first of truths, which it makes the heaven or the hell of the intelligent universe around him to know, Man only believes, with a variable con'viction. Alas, the amazing anomaly! he does but believe that there is a God. Here then, surely, is the sole cause of bis error, his crime, and his misery. May it not be imagined, that the moment of his awaking in the sensible presence of Almighty God, -the moment which brings home to his con'sciousness the Great Truth, will work the instantaneous, at least the incipient rectification of his abused affections? How' ever unworthily these affections may have wandered, will they not then, by an impulse involuntary and irresistible, revert towards the incomparable object of love? It may even be 'conceived, that he will offer himself the willing sacrifice to offended law. But if we may not go thus far, is it credible that rebellion will survive the full apprehension of unbounded power? Will there be sin when there is no more delusion? Will not the entire passiveness of submission, succeed the first glimpse of the appalling apparatus of punishment, or the first proof of its omnipotent efficiency?'

6

6

"We need not determine abstractedly to how great a degree of attention such a view of the subject might have been entitled; it is enough that the principle on which it proceeds, receives a full reply in that branch of revealed truth, which we wish here to introduce.

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is, indeed, admitted, that the 'evidence here referred to, does not immediately relate to the future condition of the human system; but it is nevertheless directly conclusive against the whole of the argument in favour of Universal Restoration. That this is the case, we have the virtual acknowledgement of its advocates, inasmuch as they find it indispensable roundly to deny the facts which this evidence substantiates. We enter into no contest with Sadducean effrontery. It is the doctrine of the Bible, that there exists a permanent revolt among creatures who are subjected to no delusion; who lie beneath the iminediate perception of the Divine Presence; who are fully competent, both by original knowledge and by experience, to estimate the madness, and to predict the consequence, of their opposition to Omnipotence. God is love:-but He is hated by an unnumbered company of His creatures, who have seen Him as He is. God is perfectly beneficent :-but this beneficence con→ sists with a defection, which, as it is palliated neither by ignorance, nor by physical disadvantage, leaves no resource among the moral means of restoration. All that is revealed on this subject, tends to establish the opinion, (on other grounds pro

bable,) that in the presence of God, moral being is necessarily final, and that, therefore, the apparent disadvantage to which Man is at present subjected, is truly the essential condition of a state, in which change shall be possible.

Hell, we are told, is a reformatory, dressed and furnished for the willing subjects of a painful cure; but Hell, the Bible assures us, is the appointed prison of beings, of whose unchanged malevolence and maleficence it records the proofs, from age to age. A little effort of the mind, perhaps, is needful to bring home to our thoughts the plain fact of the case. It is nothing but a feebleness of the understanding, which disposes us to think of an intelligible matter of history, as though it were a mere abstraction. If Satan be an abstraction, so is Hannibal. Will any one dare go through the proof in detail, and affirm that the existence and proper personality of the latter, is better attested than those of the former? "The Devil was a murderer "from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there "is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of "his own, for He is a liar, and the father of it." He is by eminence, "The Enemy;" and the designation he acquired in the first scene of human history, it is predicted he will sustain to the period of its consummation. He is "that old "Serpent;the Devil;" The Deceiver, and Destroyer of men; "The Ruler of the darkness of the present age. "" He is the ADVERSARY, upon whose head the DELIVERER has already trodden, and whom the God of peace shall bruise shortly beneath the Christian's foot.

Were we then left to gather our opinion on the subject of Future Punishment, alone from the indirect intimations which abound in the inspired volume, and especially from the testimony it bears to the permanent character of the being into whose arms it is expressly declared impenitent men shall fall, we should be justified in rejecting the doctrine of Universal Restoration, as irreconcileable with these intimations. They would, indeed, afford ground for an apprehension, in the terror of which thought is lost, that the world in which we move, has passed within the precincts-within the empire of Infinite Evil; and this Evil, not a mere metaphysical liability, but Evil positive, and imbodied in the person and purpose of an Enemy of unknown power, and unmixed malevolence. He who mocks, may mock-he who doubts, may doubt, till the day of proof: but the Christian will "pass the time of his sojourning here in fear;" apprized, as he is, that "his Adversary the Devil, as "a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

1.06

We cannot conclude, without suggesting the eminent propriety of observing the bounds of a Christian-we might add, of a philosophical modesty, upon this subject. It is the first

office of this modesty to remind us, that Testimony is our inheritance, while speculation is a profession of ever questionable title. His own intellectual and moral competency, is the object of a Christian's scepticism. The sceptic doubts of every thing, but his powers. The former lightly esteems the uncertain, but cleaves to the certain: the latter contemns the certain, and idolizes the uncertain; he sacrifices his comfort, his usefulness, perhaps his soul, to the impatient wilfulness of thought.

It is a further and not less important dictate of this modesty, addressed indeed to a different order of persons, that we suffer not the specious zeal of forward credence, to carry us beyond the limits of the inspired testimony. The threatenings of revealed religion, be it ever remembered, are the sanction of its promises: charged with this sanction, the promise becomes a message of "death unto death," to the disobedient. The Gospel offers to men a positive good. The mere destitution of the Gospel involves an irremediable loss; but the rejection of the Gospel, is a crime which entails the endless punishment of endless remorse. Thus, while the Preachers of Mercy are authorized to say, "Whosoever will, let him come, and take the waters of "life freely," they are bound to affirm, and the affirination is the highest work of charity, that the man who hears the invitation of the Gospel, and rejects it, either by a formal contempt, or by the base preference of present pleasures, passes from the season of his probation, beneath the infinite burden of hopeless immortality.

Art. V. The Case of Eusebius of Cæsarea, Bishop, and Historian, who is said by Mr. Nolan, to have mutilated Fifty Copies of the Scriptures sent to Constantine the Great; examined. By Thomas Falconer, A. M. Formerly Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 8vo. pp. 15. Oxford University Press, 1818.

THE

HE subject discussed in this well written tract, is the assertion of Mr. Nolan, the author of an elaborate work “ On the "integrity of the Greek Vulgate," who, in support of the hypothesis which he has attempted to establish, affirms, that Eusebius of Cæsarea erased certain passages from certain copies of the Gospels and Epistles, having availed himself of the opportunity which presented itself when he was commanded by Constantine the Great, to provide transcripts from the MSS. of the books of the New Testament preserved at Cæsarea, for the use of the new churches at Constantinople. This bold assertion Mr. Falconer examines with the most patient attention, and establishes, completely to our satisfaction, the inconclusive nature of the arguments by which its author endeavours to substantiate what is, in fact, a mere creation of fancy.'

"

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »