Page images
PDF
EPUB

But here the Universalist says that the phrase "this world" means only "this age," before the destruction of Jerusalem. Then the passage reads-He that surrenders life in this period, before the destruction of Jerusalem, shall have eternal life by living through that destruction. That is, by suffering himself to be killed before, he shall escape being killed then. But we cannot leave to Mr. B. even the comfort of such an interpretation. For the word translated world is not aion, about which Mr. B. has made the discovery that in some cases it means "age," but kosmos, the most peculiar and appropriate word for world. This interpretation then is miserably lame in every limb and joint.

Again, if these phrases mean no more than some advantages secured in this life, it is marvellous that that word eternal should be in such free and frequent use as descriptive of it. If it occurred but once or twice, the work of explaining it away would not be so hopeless. But the phrase in our translation rendered eternal life occurs twenty-seven times in the New Testament, and the phrase rendered everlasting life occurs thirteen times. Here then are forty instances in which according to Mr. B. the happiness of the believer is essentially called eternal life. Is not here at least ground for a presumption, that that spiritual life is eternal in its nature? Surely, if that word is only an expletive or empty flourish, its so frequent occurrence without a guard or explanation, must tend to mislead the reader. Should we not be expected to believe it to be eternal life, since the pen that was guided by the Holy Ghost has in forty instances called it so?

And then, what meaning has the word eternal as qualifying spiritual life, if that life be confined to this world; the Holy Ghost does not use words without a meaning. This word eternal, is fairly presumed to be used as an adjective, to express some quality of that something which Mr. B. calls spiritual life. But pray what quality? It is not duration, as abundantly appears from Mr. B.'s remarks, though the word was made to express duration. It is not spirituality, for it has no power to express that quality. Mr. B. has not attempted to

show any examples in which it is synonymous with spiritual. We have been told what it does not mean with great assurance, and now we wait to be told what it does mean-presuming that it is not used forty times without a meaning. Our author repeatedly, and with an air of triumph, remarks that the exact phrase, eternal death, is not used in the Bible. But if it had been, and had been used in forty instances, what would it avail with such an interpreter? Forty instances of the use of eternal life in every variety of forms, cannot convince him that the writers meant eternal life; and no more would as many repetitions of the phrase eternal death, satisfy him that eternal death was meant. The one could as easily be made to evaporate in the destruction of Jerusalem as the other.

I call now upon Mr. B. to show me a single truth of the Bible that is revealed with more clearness and irresistible force, than the truth that there is eternal life for the righteous beyond the grave, is revealed in those forty passages. Give me the same liberty to distort and pervert plain language, and I will engage to prove or disprove any thing,-prove that the Bible neither teaches nor intends to teach any thing. Yet this notion, that these phrases always mean a temporal good, is a main pillar in Mr. B.'s system, and I have given it a more extended notice than it would otherwise demand, that the reader may see how glaringly unsound are his main positions. And it is well to notice, how the Scriptures are here made to bend to the convenience of his system. Eternal life in a future state is not denied. But it so happens that those passages which most directly reveal the doctrine, are in such a shape as to confirm by parity of reason the doctrine of future punishment also. The witnesses testify fully and distinctly in favor of a doctrine received, but in telling their story they let out an unwelcome truth. And so they must be shoved from the stand, and the main matters of their testimony be assumed without proof. I appeal to the conscience of my Universalist readers, whether these witnesses to the salvation of men, would have been silenced-whether these texts would have been so interpreted, did not the wants of their system require it. But if

I am correct in this opinion, we have here a sickening view of the workings of perverted mind laboring to evade the truth of God. That man will deal thus with the word of God, in a matter that involves his own eternal well being, and the well being of those whose character and destinies are moulded by the influence of his pen-that immortal man should be willing to risk his salvation on such strained and flimsy evasions, is marvellous indeed. Yet the system of Universalism is constructed throughout, of materials not unlike to these.

It is essential also to Mr. B.'s system, as we have observed, that the happiness of heaven be regarded in no sense as a recompense for righteousness in this life. That there is no punishment in the future world, cannot be credited as long as it is granted that any are there rewarded for the conduct of this life. Let us then take up the position that the future condition of men is not to be affected by their conduct in this life, and bring it in brief terms to the test of scripture. Math. 5: 12. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets. Luke 6: 28. Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy, for your reward is great in heaven. Math. 6: 1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Thess. 1: 6. Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them which trouble you; and to you, who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven,- -when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them which believe. 2. Tim. 2: 12. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. 2. Tim. 4: 7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing. Heb. 11: 9. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is

God. Verse 13. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Verse 16. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city. Verse 35. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Rev. 2: 7. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Verse 10. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Rev. 3: 5. He that overcometh, shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. Rev. 14: 13. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them. Rev. 21: 7. He that overcometh, shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. But it is not worth the while further to extend these quotations: I should transcribe no small part of the Bible, were I to give all the texts which imply the doctrine. I chose to present these marked quotations from the word of God, without comments of my own, to show how strong and unequivocal is their testimony, that a reward is reserved in heaven for the righteous.

The eternal life of the gospel, is a matter of distinct revelation. And that the universalist system goes to annihilate that eternal life which is brought to light in the gospel, and substi tutes the product of human conjecture and hope in its stead, is reason enough for declining the proffered advantage. If the salvation of the soul be not the end of our faith-if the alternative of heaven or perdition, be not broadly placed before us in the Bible—if the pages of the gospel do not glow with a

light from a heaven to come, and if that heaven be not the prize of our high calling, the crown reserved for the victor in the christian warfare, the Bible is the most deceptive of all books. If the Bible means as it says, and those passages referred to in this chapter are to be understood according to honest common sense principles of interpretation, eternal life is a matter of unequivocal revelation-made certain to the believer but by direct assertions of inspiration; and this is an eternal life which has a beginning in this world, at least, in seminal principles. There must needs be here a sowing to the spirit, if hereafter we would reap life everlasting. Accordingly it is truly said to the believer, The kingdom of God is within you. It matters not essentially in what world a man is; in proportion as he has a spiritual and holy temper, the kingdom of God is within him. That spiritual joy in which mainly consist the rewards of heaven, is nothing more nor less than the well going machinery of a well conditioned soul. And this fact solves all the mystery of eternal life, being asserted as a thing whose possession commences on this side the grave, as well as that which is to be yet attained in its full perfection in that world, where all the jarrings of sinful passion are excluded. And this is the reason why only the pure in heart can see God; why without holiness no man can see the Lord; why there is no heaven for man unless it be begun before those who are filthy are adjudged and confirmed to be filthy still-why there is no way to die the death of the righteous without living the life of the righteous.

« PreviousContinue »