Page images

“ When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into desolation as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish; thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.” (Ps. lxxiii. 17, etc.) All this evil, wretchedness, and destruction, in which the wicked perish, is what must be inflicted on them after death, in the invisible world; for these are they who prosper in this world, and die like other men, as death is common to both the righteous and wicked. Their end, therefore, which he then understood and described, must be the punishment which comes on the wicked in consequence of death, or leaving this world. If the wicked were happy as soon as they leave this world, this passage would be altogether unintelligible, yea, a perfect deception. And how can there be any end to this destruction and punishment, when this itself is said to be their end? If this destruction were to come to an end, and they, after all, must be eternally happy, how can this be called their end ? When St. Paul speaks of some whose end is destruction, must he not intend a destruction which is inconsistent with their eternal happiness ? For if he meant a destruction consistent with their having eternal life, such a destruction is not their end, but infinitely far from it, and everlasting life would be their end, and there would be no propriety or truth in the distinction which he makes. 6 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. vi. 21, 22.)

“ In the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture, and he poureth out the same; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever. But thou, Lord, art most high forevermore. For, lo, thine enemies, O Lord, for, lo, thine enemies shall perish. And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity; and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off. His righteousness (who feareth the Lord) endureth forever: his horn shall be exalted with honor. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved: he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away; the desire of

the wicked shall perish.” (Ps. lxxv. 8; xcii. 7-9; xciv. 23; cxii. 9, 10.) This distinction between the righteous and the wicked is not made in this life, therefore it must be made in the future state; and then this threatening shall be inflicted on the wicked. “ Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God." (Ps. cxxxix. 19.) This does not intend God's taking them out of the world by death, for in this sense he slays the righteous as much as the wicked, but it must intend a punishment after the death of the body, or the second death, or it can have no meaning. This is evidently opposed to what David desires God would grant unto him. • Lead me in the way everlasting.(Ps. cxxxix. 24.) “ The Lord preserveth all them that love him; but all the wicked will he destroy." (Ps. cxlv. 20.) This also must refer to a future state, for both they who love God, and his enemies, are equally preserved in this life, and destroyed by dying. This destruction of the wicked is that which is so often spoken of as their portion and end in the future state.

In the writings of Solomon, especially in his Proverbs, we find the future punishment and 'misery of the wicked often mentioned, and generally in contrast to the safety and happiness of the righteous. The following instances, out of many more that might be inentioned, will be sufficient to illustrate this remark. “ Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, and I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” (Pr. i. 24, etc.) “ His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray." (Pr. v. 22.) “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness; but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. The way of the Lord is strength to the upright; but destruction to the workers of iniquity.” (Pr. x. 28.) “ When a wicked man dieth his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth." (Pr. xi. 7.) What words could more fully express the misery of the wicked after death, or assert more strongly that he shall then be deprived of all good, which is the object of hope, and fall into absolute despair ? And how inconsistent are such assertions as these with his surviving this misery, and, after all this, obtaining eternal happiness! How can his hope perish when he dies, if he knows, or has the least hope, that he shall be yet eternally happy? Solomon says, “ Let not thine heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long; for surely there is an end, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.” (Pr. xxiii

. 17, 18.) These words illustrate those last quoted. If this be a promise to him that feareth God, that he shall be happy after death, and that without end, as it certainly is, then the other is a threatening of the contrary, which is misery without end. If both the righteous and the wicked shall be happy together forever, how is it possible to be true, that the hope of the latter shall be cut off and perish when he dies, and directly the contrary be true of the former?

“ Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.” (Pr. xi. 21.) “The wicked are overthrown, and are not; but the house of the righteous shall stand." (Pr. xii. 7.) “ Evil pursueth sinners; but to the righteous good shall be repaid." (Pr. xiii. 21.) « The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death. (Pr. xiv. 32.) “The Lord hath made all things for himself ; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Pr. xvi. 4.) “God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness." (Pr. xxi. 12.) “ Though a sinner do evil an hundred times," or years, "and his days be prolonged, yet, surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God; but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not before God." (Ec. viii. 12, 13.)

It is certain that all these evils which are denounced against the wicked, by which they are to be distinguished from the righteous, are inflicted, not in this life, but in a future state; because the same inspired writer says there is no such distinction in this life. “No man knoweth either love or hatred, by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not. As is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath." (Ec. ix. 1, 2.)

The prophet Isaiah speaks much of the dreadful evil and unavoidable punishment that will attend the wicked in the future state. He seems to sum up and declare the whole import of his commission and prophecy. “Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him ; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” (Isa. iii. 10, 11.) Here the righteous and the wicked are set in opposition to each other, with respect to the fruit and end of what they do in this world. And if what is promised to the former be endless life and happiness, can the threatening of the contrary to the latter be any thing but directly the opposite — endless misery and punishment? That punishment must be very dreadful which is a full reward of all that is done in this life, that is, answerable to his ill desert; and doubtless will be without end, which will be particularly considered in the sequel.

“ Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation. He that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then shall ye be trodden down by it." (Isa. xxviii. 16, etc.) This passage respects Christ, and points out the certain opposite consequences of believing on him and rejecting him. To him who believeth, the most perfect security from all evil is promised. He shall be out of the reach of the rising floods of water, and the overflowing scourge. But all the rest shall have judgment without mercy, and be punished according to their crimes, and swept away by the irresistible billows and overflowing scourge of the divine vengeance and wrath. What a striking, awful representation is this of the future punishment of the wicked! 66 The sinners in Zion are afraid ; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isa. xxxiii. 14.) How can this representation be just or true if a most dreadful punishment, yea, an endless one, does not await all those sinners and hypocrites who sustain this character to the end of life? “ For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversies of Zion.' And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up forever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.” (Isa. xxxiv. 8–10.)

The prophet, in this passage and in the preceding verses, is representing the dreadful punishment that shall come on the enemies of God and his church when he shall rise up to take vengeance on them, and recompense them for their evil deeds. And when he brings into view the great evils and awful destruction that shall come on the enemies of God's people upon the introduction of the happy state of the church in this world, he extends this view to their misery in the future state, in which their punishment shall issue and be completed. This is not the only instance of this kind, but we often find in the prophecies, both of the prosperity and happiness of God's church and people, and the overthrow and punishment of bis enemies, that the prophetic vision connects the complete and eternal happiness of the former with their happy state in this world, and includes both in the same figurative representation, and in the same manner represents the punishment of the latter. And that this passage hath reference to the future misery of the wicked, is further evident from the plain allusion to it in the Revelation, when speaking of the future and dreadful misery of the enemies of God and his people. “And they shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night.” (Rev. xiv. 11.)

In the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah, the last verse, there is another threatening of future evil to the wicked: “Behold all ye that kindle a fire, and compass yourselves about with sparks. Walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” “ Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? Who is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with me; for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment for the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth." (Isa. lxiii. 1-6.) Here Christ is represented as pouring vengeance on all his enemies, while he redeems and saves his church. This is exactly agreeable to several passages already quoted, and to the general current of Scripture. The acceptable year of the Lord is also the day of vengeance of our God. (Isa. Ixi. 2.) And

« PreviousContinue »