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to the passages that are now selected for this purpose. They clearly express the idea of punishment for sin; and, as it respects time and duration, there are three differing sentiments held among us, one of which only can be true to compare with them. One is that punishment is confined to this state of existence; another that it is future, but will end; and the third is interminable misery in an endless existence.
In relation to these points, we will first notice the blasphemy against the holy Ghost, which is stated not to be forgiven in this world, neither in the world to come. If it be made clearly to appear the world to come is in this world, it is equally plain that the unforgiven state of the blasphemer may be in this world; otherwise the text proves future misery and punishment. But to be fulfilled in this life, both "this world" and "the world to come" must be in this world! It is said
the word world means age or dispensation." Jesus spake these words under the law, during the continuance of the legal priesthood. "This world" referred to the then present order of things, and "the world to come," to the age in which the Gentiles would be visited with the gospel, and the Jews excluded. It is granted the original might be more properly rendered age than world. But does the scripture say, the world or age to come, is the gos pel dispensation in this life? It does not.
Does it naturally embrace this idea? We ask for proof. Satisfactory evidence has not yet been shown. St. Paul who considered himself and his brethren as "not under the law, but under grace," which is the gospel dispensation, considered himself and them in that age, which some account the world to come; and yet he spoke of the world to come and of ages to come. Did he so express himself and mean by the world to come, the age in which he lived, a dispensation which was not under the law but under grace? He undoubtedly meant to be understood by such expressions according to the natural import and connexion of his words, and therefore expressed the idea of an age or ages succeeding the dispensation of the gospel in this life.
Christ says the children of this world marry and are given in marriage. If he here intended the dispensation of the law as opposed to that of the gospel, why not as well say the children of the world to come, marry and are given in marriage? Those that belong to the gospel dispensation have married, and, as they believe, according to the law of God. But there is no dispute but "this world" in the passage alluded to, includes this mortal life, and that world" a succeeding period.
In opposition to the idea of future punish. ment the blasphemy against the holy Spirit is applied to the Jews in a national capacity; and their present exclusion from gospel priv
ileges is considered their unforgiven state in the world to come. From the beginning of the gospel dispensation to the present, according to this opinion, they are receiving their punishment for blaspheming against the holy Ghost. But where is the proof of this idea? Did any of the inspired penmen make this ap. plication of the text? They applied the punishment to the individual blasphemers, and not their descendants. St. Matthew says, "But whosoever speaketh against the holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." He says nothing here of their children, nor any others. St. Mark limits it particularly : It is "he that shall blaspheme ;" and St. Luke likewise: "But unto him that blasphemeth," and not to another.
Should it be urged that the punishment of the blasphemy against the holy Ghost is the temporal punishment of the ancient Jews and their descendants, from Christ until now, because they are in an unforgiven state like the blasphemer, the hearer is cautioned against admitting this application as an undeniable consequence. In case of a particular theft, and of a man known to be a thief, it would not follow of certainty from his known character, that he was guilty in that instance. It would either be necessary to prove there were no other thieves, or that he actually performed the alleged crime.
To make the blasphemy before mentioned applicable to the different generations of the Jews from Christ, we must rationally conclude, the modern Jews actually commit this crime as well as the ancient. But according to the idea now opposed, none but the ancient can share the punishment of both ages or worlds, which the sacred writers apply to every blasphemer against the holy Ghost. From this consideration, therefore, the idea appears not admissible.
As it respects the use of the text in support of endless misery, it is evident such believers must admit the certain salvation of all others to urge the certain misery of these. This is as clearly against the common opinion, as this opinion supposes the text against universal salvation; for it reckons the blasphemers against the holy Ghost to compose but a small part of the finally impenitent.
Relative to our subject we will now notice the second passage at the head of this discourse: And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. This passage closes our Savior's comment on the parable of the wheat and the tares, according to which it is clearly in favor of punishment after this life. He says, "the wheat or good seed are the children of the kingdom; and the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of
the world." It is not to be doubted that when Christ undertook to explain, he used language as expressive of his meaning as could be well applied. Otherwise it could not merit the title of an explanation. It is objected by some that the children of the wicked one, mean wicked people, because it. is said the enemy that sowed them is the devil. The inference is then drawn, "According to this mode of reasoning, God has produced some of the inhabitants of the earth, and the devil some." To avoid this absurdity it is next concluded the tares, the children of the wicked one, are false doctrines; and the wheat, the children of the kingdom, is the doctrine of Christ. But, my hearers, is this comment free from absurdity? Compare it with Christ's explanation. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that of fend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
If we reckon the tares false doctrines, according to this text they are cast into the furnace of fire, which separates them from men. How then do they wail and gnash their teeth? What are false doctrines, when separated from their advocates? What is the situation of their advocates, when by the fire or spirit of truth, they have lost them? Would they be likely to mourn for their loss ?