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bringeth forth herbs,” etc., “ receiveth blessing from God. But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” (Heb. vi. 4, etc.) “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses's law died without mercy; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall be be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Heb. x. 26, etc.) “ Looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much inore shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven." (Heb. xii. 15, etc.)
We have also the apostle James's witness to future punishment. “ For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy." (James ii. 13.) To have judgment withont mercy, is to be punished according to his ill desert. “ There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest another?” (James iv. 12.) "Go to now, ye rich men, weep
and bowl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your gold and your silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire; ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (James v. 1-3.)
St. Peter comes next in course. “By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.” (1 Pet. iii. 19.) Ilere the spirits of the sinners of the old world, to whom Noah preached, being influenced thereto by the spirit of Christ, are spoken of as being in prison, when St. Peter wrote, which was above two thousand years after they left this world. They are, therefore, prisoners now, confined in darkness and despair, to the judgment of the great day. “ For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. iv. 17, 18.) “ Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. V. 8.) “ Who bring on themselves swift destruction. Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment, and spared not the old world, 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 example unto those that after should live ungodly; the Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished. These, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, shall utterly perish in their corruption. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” (2 Pet. ii. 1, 3, etc.) 6 But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us. ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. iii. 7, 9, 16.) Here it is supposed that all will perish who do not come to repentance in this life while God waits on them; and, therefore, certain destruction to those who continue impenitent through life, under all means used with them to bring them to repentance, is in these words fully asserted.
It will be thought strange, perhaps, by some, that this pas. sage, from which it has been inferred that all mankind will be saved, should be used to prove directly the reverse, viz., that many will perish. It has been said, if God is not willing that any should perish, certainly none can perish; for who hath resisted his will ?
To this it may be answered, in the first place, that it is certainly very strange indeed, and perfectly unaccountable, that St. Peter should here assert that none of mankind will perish, since he had declared the contrary, over and over again, in this cpistle, and does it even in this very paragraph. He had said, that false teachers would bring on themselves swift destruction; that God reserved the wicked to the day of judgment, to be punished; that they will utterly perish in their own corruption; and in the next verse but one before this says, the heavens and the earth are reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. And with reference to this awful catastrophe, he says, that God does not bring it on immediately, because he is long-suffering and disposed to give men time and opportunity to repent, not willing that any should perish in that destruction which he had just said was coming on ungodly men. So that he here asserts, God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, as he had just said ungodly men will perish; for whose perdition God had already made provision.
The way is now prepared to answer in the next place. When the apostle says, God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, the natural, plain, and only consistent meaning is, that God in his dealings with men, in bis providence, does not consult and pursue methods to circumvent and insnare them, to prevent their having a sufficient and fair opportunity to repent; but puts them under all proper advantages for this, sets before them the strongest motives, and waits upon them with great patience and long-suffering; and who has at the same time declared, that if they do not come to repentance in this life, they shall certainly perish in the perdition of ungodly men. He will not put an end to the world, until he has used all proper and suitable means, and taken the greatest conceivable variety of methods and ways, in the wisest and best manner, adapted to bring them to repentance; that they who continue impenitent may appear in their true obstinacy and perverseness, and be left wholly without any excuse; and their full desert of the destruction which God will bring upon them, and his righteousness in punishing them, may be seen in the clearest light by all.
And, by the way, they who suppose that St. Peter here asserts that not one shall perish, must allow he equally asserts that all shall come to repentance, for God is said to will the latter as much as the former; and this repentance is to take place in this life, because God is long-suffering towards them in this world for this end; but they do not pretend that God brings all men to repentance in this world. If, then, notwithstanding what God wills respecting their repentance, they do not repent, what evidence is there that they will not perish? If they say, the repentance which God wills" is to take place in the other world, it will then be asked, why he is long-suffering towards them in this world, in order to their coming to repentance in the other world? If they are not to come to repentance in this life, why does God wait upon them here even to long-suffering, and not send them directly into the other world, where they will repent? For to wait on them here, is only to put their repentance off to a greater distance. To send them out of this world, is the only way to effect and hasten their repentance.
But to proceed: this apostle speaks of those who go to destruction by abusing the Holy Scriptures. “In which," i. e., St. Paul's writings, “are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned (or rather, unteachable) and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."
The apostle Jude speaks in much the same language with St. Peter, of the punishment and destruction of sinners. He says, “I will, therefore, put you in remembrance how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day; even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise these filthy dreamers, etc.; woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily in the way of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
The apostle John, who so much celebrates the love of God, yet speaks of future punishment. “There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John v. 16.) That is, there is a sin which God will not pardon; but it is infallibly connected with the second death, which is the wages of sin. I, therefore, do not direct any Christian to pray for the pardon of this sin. But more of this is to be found in the Book of the Revelation, written by St. John. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Rev. ii. 11.) It is here implied, that all who do not overcome in this life shall suffer the second death. What this is, we shall find fully explained in this book. “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants, and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." (Rev. xi. 18.) The destruction here spoken of is consequent on the day of judgment. "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out, without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine press, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." ' (Rev. xiv. 9, etc.) “ And I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation and glory, and honor, and power unto the Lord our God. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever.” (Rev. xix. 1, 3.)
“ Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power. And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night, forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God. And they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. xx. 6, etc.) “ But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.” (Rev. xxi. 8.)
66 And he said unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take