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Lectures from the tone of controversy, and to give them a practical bearing. He has used great plainness of speech, for which he need make no prefatory apologies. If in any case he has seemed to use language with too much severity, he can safely say, that it has not been from any unkind feelings towards those whose sentiments he has exposed, but from an earnest solicitude to promote their spiritual and eternal well-being.
In these Lectures, the author makes no pretensions to originality of thought and expression beyond those to which he is entitled.To a rational and scriptural view of the truths in the subjects he has proposed, and to a satisfactory solution of the difficulties which have been objected to it, the author has devoted much time, labor and care; and he has availed himself of all the aid which he could obtain from his predecessors, to whose writings he could have access. He has not scrupled to make a free use of their polemical works, compressing their ideas into a small compass, and generally clothing them in his own language, and arranging them in the more inviting form of popular lectures, and giving them an adaptation to the capacities of common minds. After these Lectures were delivered, and he had concluded to publish them, he found it difficult in many instances to discriminate between the ideas or even the expressions borrowed from others, and those which were original.Rather, therefore, than attempt to distinguish all the extracts by the sign of quotation, he prefers to devote his time to other objects which would better compensate him for his labor. And it is a question of but little consequence with the public, whether this or that passage has been quoted, or this or that argument has been advanced and supported by another, or whether they are his own. The only question of importance is, “What is truth ?" May the God of truth, by the spirit of his grace, guide the understanding and heart of the reader, that he may peruse this volume with a mind divested of every prepossession and of all prejudice, and may it be instrumental in promoting his present and future welfare.
To the people of his charge, whose friendly attentions he gratefully bears in mind, and in whose welfare he cherishes the liveliest interest, and whose many expressions of kindness and affection he would gladly reciprocate by his most earnest endeavors to promote their spiritual and eternal well-being, these Lectures are now inscribed, with sentiments of affectionate regard, and fervent prayers, by their Pastor,
W. C. RIDER..
the words of the prophets that prophecy unto you; they make you vain; they
SCRIPTURE PROOFS OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT.
Matthew xxv: 46.—And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.
In this text it is asserted, that impenitent sinners shall go away into everlasting punishment. This solemn and affecting declaration of our Savior and our final Judge has been very generally regarded by Christians of every age and nation, as intending in the strictest sense, a punishment endless in duration. But there have been multitudes of persons, particularly of modern times, who style themselves Christians, that have objected to this interpretation, and insisted, either that there will be no punishment hereafter, or that this punishment will be disciplinary, and that the subjects of it will be eventually restored to purity and happiness. "In support of this opinion and in opposition to that which has been generally received by the whole Christian world, they have advanced various arguments and objections which they consider as unanswerable, and to which they apparently yield their own assent." Now it is proper to examine these arguments and objections, and either to expose their fallacy, or to acknowledge that they cannot be refuted. But there is a feeling in some minds, that doctrines, the most absurd and unscriptural, have no need to be answered. To let error alone, however, in expectation that it will die of itself, is not an apostolic course. There is as little scripture as reason for this policy of neglect. The expediency of answering, seems to depend upon the
actual effect of error, more than upon its inherent plausibility or absurdity. And it is a fact, that thousands in this community are taught to regard the doctrine of future punishment as a Pagan superstition, and that of universal salvation, as sacred truth. And they are strengthened in their opinions from the fact, that there is so little interest awakened in the minds of the Orthodox, in relation to this subject; and that they are making no persevering attempt to establish the doctrine of endless punishment, and to refute the objections that are alleged against it. They also seem desirous of persuading the public, that the ground on which we rest our belief of the doctrine of endless punishment, is very slender and fallacious, and that we do not receive it as a Bible truth of the highest practical importance, which ought to be interwoven with the whole train of our thoughts and actions; but as a mere speculative proposition, to be admitted for the purpose of completing a system of Theological belief. From these considerations, I think it highly important that we should state, with all possible perspicuity, the grounds on which we rest our belief of the doctrine in question.
Before I proceed, however, I shall make a few observations for the purpose of removing, if possible, a prejudice that many cherish against this doctrine. The subject is unquestionably awful and affecting beyond comparison. But few persons of tender sensibilities can contemplate it in all its magnitude and importance, without the most overwhelming sensations. No numbers can estimate, no finite thought can conceive, how important an object is the final destiny of one immortal being. How entirely overwhelmed, then, must he be who contemplates it, when he remembers the affecting declaraation of our Saviour, and beholds it verified by melancholy experience, that "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat."
The subject is also unquestionably perplexing, as well as painful. Some persons, I am aware, speak of the doctrine in question as being, in their view, easy of investigation, and free from all embarrassment. But it may be fairly questioned, whether they have given the subject such a thorough and scriptural investigation, as might furnish them with just views of its nature. Others discourse of it