Page images

"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 in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."* It has been objected that the fire of hell or eternal fire, is not here meant, for the following reasons: First, Peter mentions thecase of Sodom and Gomorrah, but says nothing respecting their going to hell-but this does not prove that Jude has not. Shall we reject the testimony of one inspired writer because all have not testified in the same words to the same point? Again, it is objected that Sodom and Gomorrah were set forth as an example, if the example were in a future state, for an example must be visible to be of any effect. But cannot a fact which is known by sufficient testimony affect us as an example, unless we witness the fact with our own eyes? If so, the example of Christ can be no example to us. The testimony of the passage then remains unimpaired. In the passage we have a recital of the former judgments of God upon sinners with a design to awaken those to whom warning is given in the Epistles. The apostle reminds them of the fall of the angels who kept not their original office, but forfeited it by some misbehavior. They left their proper station, rebelled against their Creator and Sovereign Lord, and thought to have usurped the throne of Omnipotence. Hence God drove them out of Heaven, notwithstanding their power and numbers, and reserved them ever since, in everlasting chains of confinement, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day to be punished. The design of introducing the fall of angels in this connection is to show how impossible it is for those who rebel against God, to effect their escape. Are angels reserved, and shall sinful man escape! In illustrating the same point, the apostle also introduces Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them who to set forth as an example of that terrible punishment which is to n the wicked at the general judgınent, having under* Jude 6, 7,


[ocr errors]

gone the punishment of an eternal fire, a fire whose effects will be eternal. Thus will all the ungodly be punished with eternal fire at the general judgment—the consideration of which should lead them to speedy repentance. This I conceive to be the import and design of this passage.

"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever."* The persons spoken of in the context are false teachers who privily introduce destructive heresies, denying even the Lord who bought them, who bring upon themselves swift destruction,-whose punishment threatened of old lingereth not, and whose destruction slumbereth not,-whom the Lord will keep in ward to the day of judgment to be punished, as he spared not the angels who sinned, but with chains of darkness confining them in Tartarus, delivered them over to judgment, and as he did not spare the old world, and as he punished the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. After heaping upon them a number of opprobrious epithets he adds for whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever. Surely there is nothing in these epithets that would lead us to conclude that their punishment was some temporal calamity only. The blackness of darkness signifies a state of disconsolate misery. Here it denotes the punishment of the wicked after the judgment, which our Lord also has represented by being cast into outer darkness. Should any one however contend that this punishment of the false teachers was experienced in this life, he is required to show in what historical fact they experienced temporal calamities that were fitly represented by the mists of darkness forever, and by the casting down to hell the angels that sinned.

"And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever."+ "And they said Alleluiah, and her smoke rose up forever and ever."| "And the devil that deceived them was cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be

* 2 Pet. ii: 17. † Matt. viii: 12.

Rev. xiv: 11. || Rev. xix: 3.


tormented day and night forever and ever. It is objected that "these passages have respect to punishment in a future state of existence." But no reason is assigned why we may not understand them as a proof of everlasting punishment in the world to come. They have been so understood by our ablest and best divines, and no comments of my own upon them will render the grand truth they exhibit more manifest. I have now finished the examination of the particular passages in which these words and phrases are found in application to punishment. I shall therefore proceed to lay before you a concise view of the forms of speech in which endless punishment is taught in language equally explicit as in the terms everlasting, eternal, forever, and forever and ever. But these we shall reserve for consideration in a future lecture.

* Rev. xx: 10:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



John iii: 36.-He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

SENSE and reason cannot make us acquainted with any thing in the great concerns of eternity. It is hence evident that if we become at all conversant with the realities of the future world, it must be through some medium wholly distinct from those by which we become conversant with the things of the present world. Reason and sense, in this case, can be of no avail. They soon find a limit to their powers, and set down bewildered and exhausted. What we need in this situation is, "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen," We want a hand which can lift the veil and show us the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which the heart of man has formed no conception. The faith which is produced by the Holy Spirit of promise, supplies our manifold defects in reference to these things. It is like the telescope to the natural eye,-it brings near in their real magnitude, importance, and proportion, the objects of the invisible world. It introduces us into the heaven of heavens, unlocks the mystery and unfolds the book of seven seals.

Such a faith implies a right temper of heart, and is connected with eternal life. To exercise this faith in reality, is to rely upon the TESTIMONY of God. It is cordially to credit the account which God has given of himself, of ourselves, of sin in its nature, effects, and consequences, of Christ, of earth, heaven, and hell. This faith C*

is not an assent of the understanding only, but of the passions, will, and affections. Belief is expressly said to be with the heart. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness." "If

thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest."

A lifeless, tame, unmeaning assent, will avail nothing but to mock God, and increase our guilt and condemnation. To believe in Christ is to confide in him, rely upon him, and trust to his merits and promises for salvation. It is go to him as a lost and ruined sinner, undone as to any help in ourselves, or in any created arm,—to act towards him as the Saviour of lost men, and to look to him only for salvation. God has wisely ordered, that the reception of Christ, should be the turning point of salvation. Those who thus believe have everlasting life. They are in possession of that which is a recovery from spiritual death, and which shall result in eternal life in heaven. Heaven is begun on earth. Piety is the same in kind here, that it will be there; only it will here be purified, expanded, and perfected. It is here life begun, that will be matured in the full and perfect bliss of heaven.

But he that has not this evangelical faith, shall not see life. He shall never enjoy true happiness in this world nor in the world to come. He shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. The wrath of God, or his opposition to sin in its fruits and effects in this and the coming world, abideth on him. This implies that the unbeliever is now under the wrath of God. It implies also that it will always remain upon him. It will remain or abide there as its proper dwelling-place. Now since every avenue into the kingdom of heaven, and every way of escaping the wrath of God are closed, except by the Lord Jesus Christ, those who will not believe must enter the world of spirits as they are; and there they must receive the wages of sin, reap the fruit of their doings, and bear unpitied and alone all that God may choose to inflict as the expression of his sense of sin. Such is the miserable condition of the sinner, yet they will not come unto Christ that they might have life. They

« PreviousContinue »