Page images
PDF
EPUB

books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them, 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."* A more impressive description of the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment is scarcely in the power of human language. Lo, the dead, “both small and great stand before God!—Death and hell, or the grave were cast into the lake of fire." Prior to the day of judgment death and hell were the receptacles of the ungodly. Here they were confined as in a prison. But having received their doom, they shall go away into everlasting punishment. This is the second death. In this dreadful abyss all will be cast, as the just punishment of their sins, excepting those whose names are “written in the book of life." I conceive that the doctrine of endless punishment is not taught in any plainer manner in any confession of faith - on the globe. And if these passages can be explained away, all those confessions may. Nothing can stand before such criticisms.

1

Thus 1 have given you a very summary view of the testimony of God, respecting the endless punishment of the wicked. The greater part of this testimony is taken from our Lord's discourse, who knew the truth, and was himself to be the judge of the world. This renders the evidence peculiarly interesting. We have the declaration of him who knew the character, desert, and destiny of all

men."

I would now request you, my dear hearers, to pause, and consider prayerfully the preceding arguments, and decide as on a dying pillow. Can these most unequivocal declarations of God's word be honestly and safely set aside? Is that system worthy of your confidence, which fearlessly proposes to make a covenant with death, and with hell, to be at an agreement? Is it safe to hope for heaven while going on still in your trespasses? Is it wise to trust the destiny of your soul upon that system which has a tendency to take

*Rev. xx. 11-15.

away every powerful incentive to holiness, to remove all permanent restraints, to leave men in bondage to their evil propensities, and to lead them to hope that they shall be as well off in the end by disobeying God, as by obeying him? Is it prudent to risk your salvation on a doctrine which is rejected by the pious and praying part of the community, and embraced chiefly by those whom the Bible denominates wicked, and which speaks peace to the wicked to whom God has said, 'There is no peace;' which confounds all distinctions between sin and holiness, and makes the hearts of the righteous sad by its lies, and strengthens the hands of the wicked that he should not turn from his evil way by falsely promising him life?

O be entreated, fellow-sinner, attentively to consider the endless duration of future punishment! It is this which will constitute the most terrible ingredient in that cup which will be the portion of the wicked. Dreadful as will be their sufferings, they would not be so intolerable, were there any hope of their termination. But of this there can be no hope. Every thing will conspire to force upon the sinner's mind a conviction that his existence and his sufferings will be commensurate with eternity. The misery of being lost, how inexpressible! It is misery without relief, without hope, without limits,-ever increasing, with capacities perpetually strengthened and enlarged to bear accumulating woe. O, might hope enter this dark mansion, might its guilty inmates be struck into nonexistence at any period ever so remote, might one drop of water be applied to their parched tongue, what a luxury! But all this will be denied. Will you then say, "If I must be damned, there is no alternative. Rather than live as the Bible requires, I will run the hazard?" Before you rest in this fatal resolve, stop for a moment, and think what it is to sink down in the faintness of despair forever, under the wrath and curse of God! And will you wade down to ruin since the Son of God died to save you, died on the cross, died in agonies, and is now waiting to be gracious? Shall it be said as it respects you, that Christ died in vain? Shall your souls, which might be raised to a glorious immortality, and celebrate the high praises

God to all eternity, writhe in agonies forever? There is virtue enough in the blood of the everlasting covenant to queneh the flames of hell that are kindling in your breasts, and to deliver you from going down to the pit of endless woe. In Christ there is a full and complete salvation. And he, that repents of his sin, and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, shall be saved.

What then is your resolve? Will you turn away and say, "These are hard sayings; my feelings revolt at such sentiments; I cannot believe that the punishment of the wicked will be endless, nor that my eternal destiny will depend under God upon the manner in which I conduct myself in this life; I do not want to hear any more of these things?' In announcing the terrors of the Lord, we do not denounce against you endless wrath. But, knowing the terrors of the Lord, we would have you, also, know and feel the terrors of the Lord, that you might be persuaded, by us, to be reconciled to God.

Did we know that you had already committed the unpardonable sin, or that your day of probation were closed, and your final destiny sealed, it would be useless for us to tell you of these things, and we might be considered as tormenting you before the time. But since we hope you are within the reach of mercy, how can we forbear to use all possible means to awaken you from your lethargy of sin! How can we forbear to tell you that "Your judgment lingereth not, and your damnation slumbereth not."-(2 Pet. iii. 3.)

My careless hearers! death! perdition! everlasting destruction! the yawning lake of pitchy darkness, from which arises the smoke of an eternal torment! are before you. Your path is in the broad and frequented way that leadeth to destruction. And will you not stop and listen a moment? Will you not bear with your friend? Will you pass on to be punished? Shall those eyes which now behold so many objects of delight, be fixed in despair and glare in eternal fire? Shall that bosom which now swells with the elasticity of health and youthful spirits, feel the gnawing of that worm that never dies? Shall that ear which now hears the sound of the gospel, hear the awful voice of Jehovah declare to you, "Depart

ye cursed into everlasting fire ?" Must I see some of those who are dear to me, for whose salvation I have labored, and wept, and prayed, and whom I would have gladly plucked as brands out of the burning, weltering beneath the burning billows of Jehovah's wrath?

But I cannot proceed. The thought is overwhelming, that any of my dear hearers will die in their sins, and sink in unabated flames, and converse with everlasting groans, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth in a world of endless rebellion against God. I can only point you to the cross of Christ. The door of mercy is now open, but it may soon be shut.. Jesus is now pleading but he will not plead always. O "behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" Cast yourself upon his clemency and seek for forgiveness in the way he has prescribed.

But are you yet at ease? How can I then cease to warn you? My soul follows after you with ardent desires and bleeding pangs. But what can I do for your salvation? I would therefore turn my expostulation to supplication. O Lord God Almighty! with holy awe I speak thy revered name. Reach forth thine arm of mercy, and pluck these precious souls from everlasting burnings. Must they perish forever? O Lord! of thine infinite mercy prevent it. Holy Spirit of promise! aid my supplications, and of thine efficient agency, turn these sinners from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. O guide them into all truth. Lord Jesus! pity them, pardon them, and save them. Remember thy dying groans! remember Calvary! and let thy love flow into their bosoms, and melt and purify their obdurate and defiled hearts. And thine will be the glory forever. Amen.

LECTURE IV.

COLLATERAL PROOFS OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT.

Ezekiel xviii: 4.—" The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

An impious proverb had been taken up by the Jews, in their captivity, which carried with it an awful impeachment of the rectitude of the Divine precedure. "Ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel," since it is desolated by the judgments of God, "saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." The import of this proverb was, that the children, though themselves innocent, suffered for the sins of their parents.

That there was some occasion for this proverb, it cannot be denied. God had said that he would "visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation."-(Deut. v. 9.)—and he had often declared, that in bringing present ruin upon Judah and Jerusalem, he had had an eye to the sins of Manasseh, and other preceding kings.

A parent, who is possessed of wealth, or blessed with a healthful constitution, may squander the one by idleness, gambling and intemperance; or destroy the other by a lewd manner of living. Consequently, his children, who have a just claim on his best exertions to educate and support them, and to make a reasonable provision for their happiness, are reduced to poverty and wretchedness by his imprudence, or afflicted with a diseased constitution by his li

« PreviousContinue »