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ON THE SUBJECT OF THE FUTURE JUDGMENT.
MR. Balfour's second Essay is upon the resurrection of the dead. This so far as it is occupied with the proofs of the resurrection of Christ and of mankind, I shall have no occasion to controvert. And so far as it consists of a development of his views of the nature and consequences of the resurrec
on, it will find a sufficient answer in my remarks upon the other topics. If I mistake not, the chapter now before us, will afford a virtual refutation of his notion of a resurrection, which goes to obliterate all the consequences, and supersede the necessity of a judgment to come. In Mr. B.'s third Essay, he enters upon an examination of the passages in the New Testament, wherever occur the words judge, judgment, condemned, condemnation, damned, damnation, &c. for the purpose of showing that none of them give us reason to expect a judgment or punishment after death. In this he has taken upon him a great work, and we shall see how he has accomplished it. That some of these words often are applied to judgments in this life is obvious. But the burden of proof which he has assumed to himself is, that in no instance, are they applied to a judgment in the future world. My task then will not be to follow him through, and weigh the correctness or incorrectness of every interpretation which he has given; but to show that there is at least one instance, where the word is used of judyment after death.
The first passage which I shall notice, is Matt. 12: 36. But I
say unto you, that every idle word which men speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Mr. B.'s reason for believing that the day of judgment here spoken of is in this world, is in substance this: That Nineveh and the
queen of the South are predicted to rise in judgment with this generation, and of course it must be while they were living upon the earth. And he asserts that they rose in judgment only by their history and conduct given in the Old Testament. But I see no necessity of its being in this world, because of its being with that generation; that generation and all others will have a place in the future world. And then Christ says they shall rise, not they have risen, as should be said if the record of their past conduct were all the testimony they were to bring for condemnation. Then the proposition in the text happens to be general. Every idle word that men, (that is any man, not the men of that generation) shall speak, &c. The accountability here is made as broad as the race of man. And this day of judgment is a day when every man will give account of every idle word. But such a day as that did not occur in that generation. This rendering the account of every idle word, spoken by every man, cannot take place in one day unless that day be such a day of general judgment as we are expecting after death. And then the phrase, give account, forbids Mr. B.'s application of the passage to Jerusalem's destruction, being never used for the experience of punishment, but always for a formal rendering of an account of a trust or responsibility, as you may see by the following quotation of all the other instances in which it occurs. Give an account of thy stewardship. Whereby we may give account of this day's concourse. For they watch for your souls as they that must give account. Who give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. Is it not then an unauthorized interpretation to apply this giving of account to anything which took place at the time of Jerusalem's destruction.
Mark 3: 28, 29. Verily I say unto you all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men and blasphemies where withsoever they shall blaspheme; but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Mr. B.'s labor upon this passage is chiefly employed in an attempt to show that the word rendered eternal, does not mean eternal, but that it should be rendered judgment of
the age, referring to the coming national judgment. But it was not the Jews only which were exposed to commit the unpardonable sin here spoken of. Allowing Mr. B.'s view of the nature of this sin to be correct—that it consists in resisting the evidence of miracles, the Gentiles to whom the gospel was published by the apostles, were equally exposed with Jews to the commission of the sin. And John in his general epistle warns his readers against this sin unto death, as though the Gentiles were liable to commit it. But they could not be thus liable on Mr. B.'s theory. He has a summary way of settling the question; that is by roundly asserting that no one understands this as effecting the eternal condition of the individual. This is a favorite argument of his, but requires but a short answer. In short, if this passage does not express the idea of punishment in the future world, what language can express it? It is said he hath never forgiveness, and, lest this should not express the whole, it is added, is in danger of eternal damnation. And forever to prevent this being applied to any
punishment, the never having forgiveness is 'prefixed. Can language be better guarded against perversion? What Mr. B. gains by his criticism upon the phrase “ world to come,” I am unable to discover. For it is well known that “the world to come,” according to Jewish notions was a world without end, extending from the commencement of the Messiah's reign on through eternity. And to say that a sin should never find forgiveness neither in this age, nor in the age to come, is equivalent to saying that it never shall to all eternity. In this view of the subject the rendering “age to come” is preferable to “ world to come,” strictly confined to the eternal state. Because, the implied possibility of the forgiveness of other sins in
age to come, is something very different from the possibility of forgiveness in the future state, in that the age to come includes the period and probation here as well as of a retribution there.
John 5: 28. Marvel not at this for the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of
life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. The points which Mr. B. here mainly labors to make out, I admit-viz, that the phrase, “the hour is coming,” is sometimes used of other times than the resurrection—that the word resurrection is sometimes applied to other things than a literal resurrection of the body—that men are sometimes figuratively said to be in their graves and to be brought out of their graves as expressive of moral conditions and changes. But it is one thing to show that words are sometimes used in such a figurative sense and another to show that in this time they are so used. Having shown that these words sometimes mean so and so, and having assumed without a shadow of proof they have that meaning here, he then assumes further that to come forth to a resurrection of life, means to come into the happiness enjoyed by the believer in this world, and to come forth unto the resurrection of damnation means the experience of the temporal judgments, which came upon the unbelieving Jews at the close of their dispensation. Now suppose we admit these groundless assumptions, then the passage will read—The hour is coming when all the spiritually dead shall hear his voice, and come to spiritual life. They of the spiritually dead which have done good while spiritually dead, shall come forth to spiritual life. And they of the spiritually dead who have done evil, shall be raised from their spiritual death, and be made spiritually alive, and find that resurrection one of damnation. There is Mr. B.'s interpretation fairly put together, and its comely proportions challenge inspection. And then it seems that all who are in their graves, that is spiritually dead, in all parts of the world and in all ages, are to come forth-are to experience this moral resurrection, and be made to believe, and then those of them who did not do good before they believed, were to have their belief one of damnation, and die in the destruction of Jerusa-lem. Now where is the sober man who can digest all this farrago, and call it fair interpretation of the word of God!
The idea that a moral resurrection is here intended, is also excluded by the context. A moral resurrection is spoken of in a verse above, and distinguished from this resurrection. Af
ter speaking of the moral resurrection, and speaking of the power of the Son to effect it, it is added, marvel not at this, namely, that the Son will raise men to a spiritual life, for even the men that are in their graves, are to hear his voice and come forth. But if moral resurrection be meant in both cases, then we have the speaker saying, There is to be a moral resurrection, but marvel not at this, for there is to be a moral resurrection. Mr. B.'s suggestion that “ in all the passages universally allowed to treat of the resurrection, not a word is said about coming forth to a resurrection of damnation,” amounts to this, and no more,—that when a passage happens to say a word about such a coming forth, Mr. B. is sure not to allow, that it treats of the resurrection, and then it ceases to be universally allowed.
John 12: 48. He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day. That the last day here applies to the end of the world Mr. B. admits, but evades the truth by saying, that the word rendered "judge" means to convince or to persuade ; making Christ say–he came not to convince or persuade, when every one knows that a great part of his life was employed in convincing and persuading. Besides the contradiction to fact, there is another difficulty: the word never is used in the sense which he gives it. Out of the more than seventy times in which it is used in the New Testament, he cannot produce one where it has that sense. He doubtless would have done it if he could. The truth then remains unimpaired, that every one who rejects Christ hath one that judgeth him at the last day.
Rom. 14: 10. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ. 1 Cor. 5: 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive of the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, wheth. er it be good or bad. That the reader may see with how much reason Mr. B. asserts, that the word judgment seat, and the scripture usage of it, is not in favor of a judgment seat in another state of existence, I will quote all the instances where it