Page images
PDF
EPUB

sence all was well; but the moment he was deprived of this, he was afflicted indeed, and complained of this loss as the greatest of all. David also was most sensible of this, and expresses the dreadful affliction it occasioned to him, when he said, How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me unto the end ? How long dost thou tum away thy face from me! How long shall I take counsels in my soul, sorrow in my heart all the day ?” Psal. xii. 1. “ In thy favour thou gavest strength to my beauty; thou turnedst away thy face from me, and I became troubled,” Ps. xxix.8. God himself also threatens sinners, to deprive them of his countenance as one of the greatest punishments even in this life, saying to such, “ I will cast you away from before my face, as I have cast away all your brethren,

." Jerem. vii. 15. “ Because they forsook me, I have bid my face from them; and I have delivered them into the hands of their enemies I have dealt with them according to their uncleanness and wickedness, and have hid my face from them,” Ezek. xxxix. 23. Then shall “ they cry to the Lord, and he will not bear them; and he will bide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved wickedly in their devices,” Mich. iii. 4. What then will be the case of sinners in hell, when banished for ever from the face of God, and plunged in an ocean of misery, they shall cry out, in the agonies of despair, thou hast hid thy face “ from us, and hath crushed us in the hand of our iniquity,” Is. lxiv. 7.; and, as this will be the most exquisite part of their punishment, so it occupies the first place in the sentence that will be pass, ed against them on the day of judgment: “Depart from me, ye cursed !” Matth. XXV. 41.;

I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” Matth. vi. 23.; " I know not from whence ye are;

[ocr errors]

depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity,” Luke xiii. 27. Depart from me! that is the dreadful sentence; and hence St. Paul declares, that “They shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his power,” 2 Thess. i. 9. And being thus for ever separated from God, they are, of course, separated from all good, banished for ever from the society of his saints, and eternally cut off from the joys of heaven ; for “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liars with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God," 1 Cor. vi. 9. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest-of which I foretel you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things, shall not obtain the kingdom of God," Gal. v. 19.; for this know and understand, that no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of Göd,” Eph. v. 5. “Into that heavenly Jerusalem shall not enter any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie," Rev. xxi. 27. But without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie," Rev. xxiii. 15.

(7.) The duration of their torments shall be for ever and ever, as long as God shall be God, for endless eternity; as is expressly declared in several of the texts above cited.

Q. 53. How can it be reconciled with the good ness of God to say, that he will punish his creatures for all eternity?

A. This is a difficulty which is much cried up by the Free-thinkers, who deny all revelation; and on this ground they form their argument against what the Christian revelation teaches concerning the eter

nity of future punishments; but in this they act most irrationally; for it is a most evident truth, “ that no arguments founded on principles which we cannot comprehend, can possibly disprove a proposition already proved on principles that we do understand.” That the Christian revelation is from God, and most infallibly true, is proved, beyond reply by all the motives of credibility, which are arguments, of their own kind, suited to the capacity of every man of common understanding. What is becoming the divine goodness, how infinite goodness and infinite justice can be reconciled in their respective operations, is intinitely above any finite understanding to comprehend. As the Christiar revelation is from God, every article of it must be infallible truth. Although, therefore, our finite understandings should not be able to reconcile any revealed truth with our finite and imperfect idea of infinite goodness, yet this can never be any reason, either against the truth of revelation in general, or against any particular truth contained in it. Now, the eternity of hell torments is a truth revealed by God, a fundamental article of the Christian reve. lation; consequently, although we cannot reconcile this truth with our weak and imperfect idea of the goodness of God, yet this can never have the smallest weight against that truth.

Q.54. How does it appear that the eternity of hell torments is a truth revealed by God?

A. From three very strong reasons: (1.) Be. cause the Holy Scriptures every where represent these torments as eternal, as never-ending, as en during for ever and ever; and this appears from numbers of these texts above cited. (2.) Becauso the Christian world has at all time, and in all places, declared this to be revealed truth, has always understood those texts in their literal and obvious

sense; nor is it possible to shew any other beginning for this belief than that of Christianity itself, as appears from the writings of Christians in all ages, and from the testimony and declaration of the Church of Christ on all occasions. (3.) Because, in the fourth century, when the opposite doctrine began to be broached, it was immediately condemned by the whole Christian world, as an impious doctripe, contrary to the sacred word of God, and to the faith received from their predecessors. Hence, it follows, that, in order to disprove the eternity of hell torments, the deists must shew, either that the Christian revelation is an imposture, or that this article is not a point of the Christian revelation; neither of which has it ever been in their power to do, notwithstanding all their efforts for that end.

Q. 65. From whence arises the mistake of those who deny the eternity of hell torments ?

A. From the false and unjust idea they form to themselves of the malice of sin ; for, blinded by their passions, and inclined by the corruption of their heart to justify every thing that is agreeable to our natural inclinations, they shut their eyes against the evil of sin, and the greatness of the in. jury committed by sin against the infinite majesty of God, and, on this account, fondly endeavour to persuade themselves, that, as sin, according to their notion of it, is but a trifling affair, it is inconsistent with the divine goodness to punish it with eternal torments; all which is nothing else but reasoning upon false principles, and taking the argument by the wrong end. For, if they would argue rationally, they should reason in this manner: God is infinitely just, and therefore can never punish sin more than it deserves; he is infinitely good, therefore must rather be inclined less than it deserves. But this infinitely just and good God has positively

declared that he will punish mortal sin, in the next world, with eternal torments; therefore sin must infallibly be an evil of infinite malice, however trifling it may appear to my self-love, and corrupt judgment.” This is a just way of reasoning, and founded on the most incontestable principles. And, would they but allow themselves to consider the malice of sin by the principles of reason itself, and not through the mist of passion, they would both be brought to the same conclusion, and at the same time be convinced, that it highly deserves eternal punishment. For, even among ourselves, do not the constant feelings of our heart persuade us, that an offence, the same to itself as to the action, is always the more grievous, the greater distance there is between the offender and the person offended ? Do we not constantly decide, that the malice of the injury is always greater, the more exalted the person offended is in dignity above the offender? Seeing, therefore, that there is an infinite distance between the most perfect creature that could be created, and God himself the Creator, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that mortal sin, which is a grievous injury, done by the creature to the Creator, must contain a malice, in this respect, infinite; of course to be punished according to what it deserves, it must require an infinite punishment; but, as a finite creature could not subsist under a punisbment infinite in its intenseness, it therefore must be infinite in its extension or duration, that is, must last for eternity.

It must also be further considered that God Al. mighty has forewarned sinners of their danger; he has told them beforehand what they have to expect, if they die in their sins. Now, when good and evil, life and death, are placed before their eyes, that they may choose which they please; if they

« PreviousContinue »