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world, because felicity is the fruit of the works of righteousness; and of these works we have no account. When we take away the cause, the effect ceases; so when works of righteousness are accomplished, felicity is no more!-But enough! My hearers will excuse these expressions. They are brought to compare with the common argument against future punishment or misery. But the subject I propose to labor more particularly in another Lecture.
Fifthly, let it be remarked that in all the passages I have chosen and placed at the head of this Lecture, there is no account stated of a fixed duration of punishment, pronounced to be the portion of the wicked. Nor have we reason to believe they will be sentenced to a stated duration of punishment, prescribed in the sentence of the Judge, as is the case with criminals, when tried before their fellow men. This heavenly Judge needs not to be restricted to certain prescribed rules to prevent his doing injustice, or to assist him in determining what is right. For justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne: Mercy and truth go before his face.
Those who hold the doctrine of the endless misery of the wicked in the future state, I am sensible will not be willing to accede to the idea, that there is no prescribed duration declared in the sentence of the Judge to the wicked. And although they would not pretend to find it in the passages the speaker has chosen, they conclude the scriptures are not
silent upon the subject. It is to be acknowledged, we find the words everlasting and eternal, and other phrases of a similar meaning, applied to punishment. But these have been proved by many learned authors to represent duration indefinitely. The learned and industrious John Butterworth, author of a Concordance and Dictionary of the Bible, who appears by many of his explanations to be a Calvinist, and certainly a believer in the endless misery of the wicked, has, of eternal, which he accounts the same as everlasting, this definition; "Sometimes it only intends a long duration of time." This concession of our worthy author is sufficient to prove those terms ambiguous and indefinite. For it comes from a quarter where we should the least expect.
The idea that is held by many as sacred as the word of inspiration, that the state of all men is permanently fixed in happiness or misery at the day of judgment, is not found in all the passages which are placed at the head of this Lecture. In all the passages in the Bible that mention "the day of judgment," "the judgment-seat of Christ," "the last day," or any other plain, unparabolical passage that speaks of Christ's judging mankind, there is not the least intimation of any thing of this nature. Nor have I reason to believe that any one will attempt to bring a passage of this description to controvert what I have now spoken. That they may bring scripture that appears to them to prove that all will be per
manently fixed in happiness or misery at the day of judgment or at death, is not disputed. But I think they will not pretend to bring any of the aforementioned description. If the truth and importance of this idea be equal to the confidence many pious and worthy people. of our country have in it, can any rational account be given for a total silence respecting it, in every scripture that has been read in your hearing at this time? I must state, for myself, that I do not find it in the Bible.
Another very common idea I do not find in the scriptures before us. It is that when the judgment closes, some are crowned with felicity and joy, and others left in misery. I conclude the day of judgment continues as long as punishment continues. We have no particular account of any punishment after the day of judgment, but in it. The day is not, therefore, to be reckoned twelve or twenty-four hours, but a certain process of time. Judg ment in Heb. vi. 2, is called eternal. That the word day in some scriptures is used in an extensive and enlarged sense is evident. Christ says to the Jews, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day," John viii. 56. He said also to Jerusalem, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, 99 Luke xix. 42. In both these texts the word seems to include the period of natural life, or perhaps in the first, the time of Christ's ministry, or the present dispensation of the gospel.
It is said of Sodom, it shall be more tolera
ble than for Capernaum in the day of judgment. Nothing said of this after the day of judgment. For every idle word men shall give account in the day of judgment; shall be justified or condemned. Here is nothing said about condemnation continuing after that day. There is also a passage that says, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished;" but this likewise says nothing of punishing them afterward.
It is not convenient to add much labor to this part of our subject in this Lecture; but I hope to be able more fully to elucidate it in
In view of the scriptural evidences of a future day of judgment, I think it may be added, the present situation of man seems to evince the truth of the doctrine. His present accountability presupposes a time when he shall answer for its use. His moral agency, without which accountability could not exist, naturally implies the truth of the same idea.
Some reasons for this process of general judgment are very manifest. It explains the ground, nature, and propriety of punishment; and the justice of God in his dealings with his sinful children. It clearly opens and explains the dark dispensations of his providence; exhibits his justice, goodness, wisdom, and mercy conspicuously in all his works. The character of the Supreme must there appear in the native lustre of his attri
butes. The saved will then learn from what they are redeemed; and for what they praise the Lord of life and glory, giving thanks forevermore. All that the Lord has done for mankind, and the grace of our heavenly Father, must from that period be eternally realized in the many hearts of gratitude, and by the numerous family of the redeemed.
To close, let us recapitulate the subject, and notice particularly the heads of what it affords.
1st. We learn that we have reason to expect a certain period, called "the day of judg ment," when men will be judged after this life, and receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. Our present individuality, then, must be recognized in the future state.
2d. We find every work is then to be manifested, and every one of the human family to share his part in that day of giving account to God.
3d. Every work of man will then be approbated or disapprobated, according as it is good or bad, and the then present character of every one plainly shown him by the Judge of all the earth.
4th. That we have no account of being judged for sins committed in a future state of existence, but according to deeds done only in the body.
5th. Though we learn the wicked are coudemned, we do not find that they are sentenced to a stated duration of punishment, as at