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CONCERNING THE FUTURE STATE OF THOSE WHO DIE IN THEIR SINS.
The Holy Scriptures teach that the Wicked will be punished in the future State.
MUCH is said in the Scripture concerning the evil and punishment that will come on the wicked in a future state. This observation will be sufficiently illustrated by the following passages, though they do not contain all that is said on this subject in the inspired writings.
The evils which God brings on men in this world for their sins, and his often destroying them in a terrible manner, as a testimony of his displeasure with them, many instances of which we find recorded in sacred writ, do forebode the future punishment of the wicked, and may well be considered as a standing evidence and admonition of this.
The destruction of the old world by the flood, when only one family was saved, the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrab, and the deliverance of Lot, are considered by Christ and his apostles as emblems or types of the destruction or punishment of the wicked in the future state, and the salvation of God's people. "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, etc., until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not till the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt. xxvi. 37, 38.) "For if God spared not the old world, but saved Noah, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly, and turning the cities of
Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample to those that after should live ungodly, and delivered just Lot; the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." (2 Pet. ii. 5, etc.) Here the apostle makes these destructions of the wicked an argument that the ungodly in general will be punished in the future state, and after the day of judgment; and, therefore, teaches us to consider them in this light, and by them to learn the distinction God will make between the godly and unjust at the last day. In the same light St. Jude considers the destruction of Sodom. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." In this view, the Bible is full of admonitions of the certain punishment of all that live ungodly, when the righteous shall be completely delivered and enter into everlasting life. A contrary doom is pointed out for the wicked.
When God reveals a Savior by Moses, and promiseth he shall come into the world in the character of a prophet, he adds the following words: "And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto my words, which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." (Deut. xviii. 19.) That is, he shall answer to me for it, and I will deal with him, and punish him accordingly. Therefore, when St. Peter quotes this passage, he expresses the true sense in the following words: "He shall be destroyed from among his people." This is an early declaration that rejection of Christ in this world would prove fatal to men; and that he would be so far from saving all men, that they who shall disregard him in this life will certainly be punished with a peculiarly aggravated destruction.
We find an awful threatening of God to the wicked, who continue his incorrigible enemies through this life, under all the methods taken to reclaim them, in Deut. xxxii. 35, etc.: "To me belongeth vengeance and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For I lift my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgments, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy."
The punishment here threatened to the obstinately wicked
is to be inflicted in a future state; for no such distinction between God's people and his enemies, as is represented in this passage of Scripture, does take place in this world; besides, the first words of this paragraph are quoted by St. Paul, (Heb. x. 30,) and he applies them to the future punishment of the wicked, of which he is there speaking. "For ye know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord." And he then adds, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." In the last words, "the living God," he evidently has reference to those in the passage above recited, "I lift my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever." Which certainly implies that God lives so as to be able to punish the wicked in a future state; so that they are so far from getting out of his hands when they die, that then, in a peculiar sense, they fall into his hands, to suffer the vengeance threatened; and may it not be justly observed here, that, though the endless duration of this punishment is not expressly asserted in the threatening, yet it seems to be plainly intimated, when Jehovah introduces himself as living forever, to express his determination and ability to render vengeance and recompense to his enemies; and that he will do this as long as he liveth? But this is to be more particularly considered hereafter. And perhaps it will appear, when properly considered, that it is necessary that God should live forever, in order to render vengeance and a proper and full recompense to his enemies; that is, a punishment equal to their desert.
Job and his friends speak much of the evil end and punishment of the wicked, as certain and inevitable, being the objects of God's displeasure and wrath; and at the same time men. tion the security and happiness of the righteous in his favor and protection. (See Job iv. 8, 9, 20, 21; viii. 13-22; xi. 13-20; xv. 20-35; xviii. 5-21; xx. 4-29.) In this last-quoted passage are the following words: "Knowest thou not this of old, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet he shall perish forever, like his own dung. His bones are full of the sins of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust. When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating. He shall flee from the iron weapon, and a bow of steel shall strike him through. It is drawn and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall; terrors are upon him. A fire not blown shall consume him. The heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him. This is the portion of a wicked
man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by God." Job himself agrees with his friends in this, that the wicked are the objects of God's wrath, and shall be punished. They differed on this head only in applying this doctrine. They considered outward afflictions in this world as included in the punishment of the wicked, and therefore concluded that they who suffered greatly by the hand of God in this life were ungodly, and the objects of divine displeasure, and that God would protect and save the truly pious from such evils in this world. He insisted that the distinction between the righteous and the wicked did not take place and appear in God's dispensations and dealings with them in his providence in this life, therefore the good and evil by which they were to be distinguished must and would take place in a future state only. He says that innocence and righteousness will not secure a person from afflictions in this life, and from death, in common with the wicked. "This is one thing, therefore I said it, he destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. The earth is given into the hands of the wicked; if not, where and who is he?" (Job ix. 22, etc.) He observes, that the wicked live long and prosper in their wickedness in this world. "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure, into whose hand God bringeth abundantly." (Job. xii. 6.) "Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, and mighty in power? Their seed is estab lished in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them," etc. (Job. xxi. 7-9.) Yet he speaks of the punishment and destruction of the wicked as certain and inevitable, which, therefore, must take place in a future state. Speaking of the wicked, he says, "They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away. God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and he shall know it. His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty." (Job xxi. 18-20.) "Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous. For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? This is the portion of the wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty. The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered," i. e., he shall die, but shall not be gathered and received to the society of the blessed, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were at their death. "He openeth his eyes, and he is not.
Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth; and a storm hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him, and not spare; he would fain flee out of his hand." (Job xxvii. 7, etc.) "Is not destruction to the wicked, and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?" (Job xxxi. 3.)
Job and his friends lived in the days of Moses, or before, and by them we learn what was the doctrine respecting the future punishment of the wicked, received and taught by the people of God at that time. They represent it as certain and very dreadful, and give not the least hint that it shall ever end, but the whole they say rather imports the contrary. They represent the wicked as deprived of all his hopes, when he dies, which surely cannot be true, if he shall be immediately happy, or happy forever, though punished for a time. What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? God shall cast upon him, and not spare. Yea, he shall perish forever.
The Book of Psalms, in which the future state is brought more fully into view than in the preceding part of Scripture, is full of threatenings to sinners, and declarations of their punishment in the world to come. This will be sufficiently evident, by reciting the following passages, out of many more which are found in those sacred writings:
In the first Psalm the truly pious are pronounced blessed, and the ungodly are cursed, as those who shall be condemned at the day of judgment, separated from the righteous, and utterly perish and be destroyed. "The ungodly are not so, but are like the chalf which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish." "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." (Ps. xi. 6.) This is not their portion in this life, therefore it must refer to their punishment in a future state, which is represented as very dreadful. "Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies, thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger. The Lord shall swallow them up, and the fire shall devour them. Evil shall slay the wicked; and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate." (Ps. xxi. 8, 9; xxxiv. 21.) When the Psalmist has related the trouble and perplexity he had experienced, by observing the apparent prosperity and happiness of the wicked in this world, he says,