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wretchedness in this world, which render persons objects of most sensible compassion. Such instances of misery often moved the compassion of our benevolent Savior when he was on the earth, and he wrought many miracles for their relief. But this misery is nothing to that now in view. All the evil that men ever did, or can suffer, in this world, bears no proportion to the evil case of one sinner who is cast into hell, from whence he cannot be delivered so long as God shall exist. This evil, indeed, is not yet actually come upon them, but they are in the utmost danger of it, and will soon have it fixed upon them forever, unless, by some means, they can be recovered from their present course. This case, then, above all others, calls for the compassion of the benevolent, and is most suited to raise it to the greatest height, and animate to the most earnest and unwearied endeavors to relieve and save them. The compassion of St. Paul was excited, by seeing men in this case, which caused a great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart,” and engaged him to “warn every one night and day with tears," and made him willing to do and suffer any thing, “ if by any means he might save some," and led him even to wish himself accursed from Christ, if this might effect the salvation of his brethren the Jews.
It is owing to unbelief, and great stupidity and senselessness respecting eternal punishment, that they who are exposed to it, so that nothing but the tender thread of life, liable to break every minute, holds them up from this destruction, can make themselves easy and feel so secure, and do not lament and weep, and turn their laughter into mourning, and their joy into heaviness, and fall into the greatest distress and horror: and what but an awful degree of this same stupidity can be the reason that the benevolent friends of mankind are not more affected with the misery of the wicked, and so little moved with compassion while they are daily surrounded by such infinitely miserable objects, and are so negligent of means that might be used for their relief?
Who can fully express the unreasonableness and folly of exercising great concern and anxiety about temporal calamities, and taking much pains to prevent their coming on near relations and friends, or deliver them from those which are upon them, while there is not the least concern nor any pains taken to deliver them from infinitely greater evil, even eternal destruction ?
Is there not a great degree of practical denial of the doctrine of eternal punishment among professing Christians, while they feel and express no more tender concern and compassion for sinners who are in such imminent danger of this punishment, VOL. II.
if it be a reality, and use no more means to reclaim and save them? How ought they to put on bowels of mercies and kindness towards them, and treat them with the greatest love, tenderness and compassion, patience and long-suffering, while they are taking the most likely methods for their help? If Christians were thoroughly attentive to this, and did express their compassion for sinners in all proper ways, it would remove one argument many think they have that there is no such punishment, viz., that Christians themselves do not appear really to believe it, while they profess to do it; and it would tend to make eternal misery more of a reality to them, and to gain their attention and affect their hearts.
How unbecoming the profession of Christians is it to be unmoved and inactive in this case, especially to converse and conduct so as tends to prevent the salvation of others, and destroy them forever! Instead of being with Christ, and gathering with him, they are against him, and doing the work of the great destroyer of souls; and how guilty must the ministers of the gospel and parents be, what an unbecoming and monstrously cruel part do they act, when, instead of faithfulness and benevolence to the souls immediately under their care, they speak and conduct in a manner which tends to their eternal ruin, and so become their destroyers! These not only imitate the destroyer, but their sin in destroying souls forever is, in many respects, much more aggravated than his.
IV. This subject will be closed with the following address :
First. To those who have been by some means led into a disbelief of the doctrine of endless punishment, and those who are in doubt about it, and do not yet determine whether there will be any such punishment or not.
If any of either of these have read the foregoing sheets, and shall be disposed still to read on, they are desired seriously to consider whether the doctrine of eternal punishment is not as clearly revealed and as well supported by Scripture and reason as any truth whatsoever; and what dangerous presumption it is to reject it, until they can find a full and satisfactory answer to the Scriptures and arguments which have been adduced in favor of it; and such must be warned of the danger of rejecting this doctrine through prejudice, and a fond inclination and desire that the contrary doctrine should be true. In this view, they are entreated to consider the following things :
1. The Scriptures present the truth there revealed as disagreeable to wicked men; and that, for this reason, they are disposed to dislike and reject it. Our Savior says, “Every one that doth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” And such are represented as “saying to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” The divine character is disagreeable to them; therefore, when the prophets prophesied falsely, the degenerate people loved to have it is so, and greedily embraced the delusion. You who are conscious you are yet in your
your hearts and practice are not conformable to the dictates of reason and Word of God - ought not to conclude any doctrine to be wrong because it is not agreeable to your way of thinking, and is displeasing to your inclinations and hearts. You must be cautioned and warned of your danger in the case before us.
What if you should, through the sinful prejudice and evil bias of your minds, form your hopes of eternal happiness upon the fond conceit that none will be miserable forever, and, when it shall be too late, find yourselves mistaken, and be plunged into that very endless misery which you was persuaded had no existence, and perhaps even ridiculed those who asserted it! Take heed, lest the awful disappointment, this infinite evil, come upon you!
2. The first lie that was told in this world was in the words of Satan, the father of lies, to our mother Eve: “ Ye shall not surely die,” in order to induce her to rebel against God, and ruin herself. And he has been propagating this lie and deception among mankind ever since, by which men have flattered themselves that they should have peace, though they walked after the evil inclinations of their own hearts, and it has proved the ruin of multitudes. And have you not reason to fear, yea, may you not be certain - when it is asserted that no man shall perish forever for any sin he can commit in this life, though he obstinately persist in it till death, but, notwithstanding all possible rebellion, shall be happy forever— this is the same lie, revived and propagated by Satan and those unhappy persons who are taken in his snare? It certainly looks just like it. And are you willing to be taken in such a snare and perish forever?
3. The sacred oracles represent wicked men as inclined to flatter themselves that evil will not come upon them, when they are upon the brink of destruction. " The wicked hath said in his heart, I shall not be removed; for I shall never be in adversity.” (Ps. x. 6.) “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agree. ment, when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us.” (Isa. xxviii. 5.) " Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, and it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. xxix. 18, 19.) “For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.” (1 Thess. v. 3.) This is the natural attendant of sin, thus to blind and delude the sinner, and lead him to flatter himself that he shall escape the evil which is hastening upon him. And if you begin to lose the fears of future punishment which perhaps you once had, and to think and grow confident that you shall have peace and eternal life, though you walk after the imagination of your own heart, and indulge every lust, have you not reason to think you are an instance of this very self-flattery and delusion described in the Scriptures now cited? If this be not the very thing, what can it be? Awake and tremble, O sinner, for, verily, thou art the man!
4. The character of false prophets, in the Scripture, is, that they flatter men in their sins, and prophesy smooth things, promising peace and safety to men, when destruction is coming upon them. And, on the contrary, the true prophets declared there was no peace to the wicked, and denounced evil and certain destruction which was coming upon them unless they repented. And this recommended the former to the multitude, who caressed and spoke well of them; and at the same time rendered the latter disagreeable, and brought upon them hatred and ill treatment.
This observation might be illustrated by referring to a great number of particular passages of Scripture. The attentive reader of the Bible must be sensible of this. Only the follow- , ing will be recited now: “ Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophecy unto you; they make you vain. They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” (Jer. xxiii. 16, 17.) Of false prophets it is said, “ They have seduced my people, saying, Peace, and there was no peace.' (Eze. xiii. 10.) “ With lies ye have strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not turn from his wicked way, by promising him life.” (Verse 22.)
Let those who are now addressed seriously consider whether they who promise eternal happiness to you, whatever be your character in this world, so that you cannot miss of it by any course of sin whatever, do not take upon them the very character which the Bible gives of false prophets; and whether
they who, on the contrary, hold forth endless destruction as the certain portion of the impenitent sinner, and those other doctrines which are connected with this, and are so disagreeable to wicked men in general, do not appear in the character of true prophets and teachers; and whether, by embracing the former, and rejecting and hating the latter, you will not act just as those deluded, wicked men did who were pleased with the prophets who preached peace to them, and hated and persecuted those of the contrary character.
Be entreated to think of this, as you value your own souls, and would not be flattered to your eternal ruin. Think of it with an unprejudiced, honest mind, until you are able to give a rational, satisfactory answer; and is it possible it should be in the negative?
5. When all the evidence from Scripture, supported by reason, which has been produced, together with the preceding observations, are honestly considered and weighed, is it possible that any one should be able to stand forth and say, “ I am absolutely certain that all mankind will be eternally happy, and that he stands on a safe and sure foundation who has no other ground but this to build his assurance of everlasting life upon"? If you cannot do this, as you certainly cannot, unless your delusion be remarkably strong, but must own you are far from being absolutely certain that all shall be happy, then why will you adhere to this, and trust in such an uncertainty for salvation, however probable you may think the doctrine to be, and neglect the only way in which you may be absolutely certain, and build on the most sure ground ?
God hath laid in Zion a sure foundation, a tried, precious, corner stone, and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed of his hope, shall never be destroyed. Here is the most perfect security, established by innumerable express promises made by him who cannot lie. He who believeth on Christ with that faith which implies love and obedience to him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. How unreasonably do you act, of what folly and madness are you guilty, if you neglect and refuse this great and sure salvation which is offered to you! and you may be absolutely sure you shall have everlasting life, if you will accept of it; and trust to that which, at most, is no more than probable, and may fail you after all. This is neglecting a certainty, for the sake of an uncertainty at best, in an affair of the highest moment. conduct would be thought madness in any temporal, worldly matter : why then will you be guilty of it when your whole, your eternal interest is depending? Indeed, there is no probability that such folly and infatuation will end well; but a