Page images

apostle John, who distinguishes between a sin unto death, and a sin not unto death, 1 John v. 16. Criminals, or those who were deemed worthy of capital punishment, were called sons, or men of death, 1 Sam. xx. 32, xxvi. 16, 2 Sam. xix. 28, marg. reading, just as he, who had incurred the punishment of scourging, was designated a son of stripes, Deut. xxv. 16, 1 Kings xiv. 6. A similar phraseology was adopted by Jesus Christ, when he said to the Jews, Ye shall die in your sins, John viii. 21, 24. Eleven different sorts of capital punishments are mentioned in the sacred writings.' Introd. vol. iii. p. 143. 6. GILPIN. ·lf



your society is visited with sickness for his sins, let public prayers be made; and if his sins be not of such a nature as God may think fit to punish with death, (in which case the offender must be left to the divine mercy,) the devout prayers of the church will be heard.' Expos. in loc.

7. Benson. "If a christian, by an impulse of the spirit, perceives that any christian brother has sinned such a sin as to draw down upon himself a disease, which is not to end in death, but to be miraculously cured by him, then let him pray to God, and God, in answer to his prayer, will grant life and perfect health unto such christians as have sinned a sin which is not to end in death. There is a sin which draws down a disease upon christians, that is to end in death. I do not say, or mean, that any christian shall pray for that, because, in such a case, God would not hear his prayer, nor miraculously cure his christian brother, at his request.' Par. in loc.

8. ROSENMULLER. This standard critic agrees with those already quoted, in supposing the sin unto death to be a crime punishable with temporal or bodily death. He differs from them only in believing this death was to be inflicted, not by God, but by the civil magistrates, and that the entreaties for forgiveness were to be addressed to them, rather than to Him; inasmuch as to them belongs the right of inflicting the punishment of death for the more heinous offences.' Scholia in loc.



For there are certain men crept unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into laciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.'—JUDE 4.

Being ordained to condemnation has been supposed to mean, doomed to final damnation ; but that this is not the import of the words, is admitted in the following quotations :

1. HAMMOND. Before ordained of old to this condemnation : the way to interpret this, as almost any

other difficulty in this epistle, will be, by comparing it with the second of Peter, which is almost perfectly parallel to this. There these men are spoken of, chap. ii. 3, and the passage that there seems parallel to this is—bringing on themselves swift destruction, and for whom judgment for some while lingereth not, and their destruction doth not nod, ver. 3, which signifies, in both places, the certain, and quick destruction which is likely to come upon those men, who, by complying with the Jews, and professing themselves to be such, to avoid their persecutions, are, by the Roman destroyers, taken for Jews, and so speedily (soon after this time) devoured. Only in this place is mentioned the being formerly set forth, or written of, answerable to which is 2 Pet. ii. 1, among you shall be false teachers ; which, being an affirmation that there shall be, must be grounded on some prophecy, or prediction, that there should. And that is clearly to be found in Christ's prediction of the destruction of the Jews, Matt. xxiv. 10, before which there should come false prophets, all one with the false teachers in St. Peter, (see 1 John ii. 6,) by which the Gnostics are certainly to be understood. And, therefore, at the writing of St. Jude's epistle, these being actually come in, he speaks not of them by way of prophecy, that they shall come, but applies to them the former prophecy, that they are the men that were before written, or prophesied of by Christ, in the gospel of St.

Matthew, and so capable of that title. Instead of this, when St. John, 1 Ep. ii. 18, speaks of this very matter, he saith—As ye have heard that antichrist cometh, so now there are many antichrists, by which, saith he, we know that it is the last hour ; just as St. Matthew had made it a prognostic of the coming of that fatal period of the Jews. By this it appears, first, that formerly (or of old,) here refers to Christ's time ; forewritten, (or ordained,) to Matt. xxiv., or the passage there set down; and judgment, or condemnation, to that great destruction that should fall, about that time, upon all the obdurate, unbelieving Jews, and false teachers—Gnostics, or other abominable christians, whose sin is set down in the following words—impious, foc., and their condemnation in these. Annot. in loc.

2. Gilpin. 'For many deceivers are now abroad in the world, (as it was prophesied there should be,) &c. Thus I should translate the words, of old ordained to this condemnation.' Erpos. in loc.


And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.'-JUDE 6.

All the orthodox commentators, so far as I have examined, agree in interpreting this text in reference to the endless misery of the apostate angels. But then it should be recollected, that, whether this interpretation be correct or not, it does not materially affect the question, whether all men shall be saved. The endless misery of angels is one thing--the endless misery of men is another, and a different thing. The endless misery of the one class, if fully established by the testimony of the scriptures, would not, of itself, conclusively prove the endless misery of the other class. It is by no means

admitted, that the endless misery of angels is here indicated. But if it were, the endless misery of mankind would not follow as a necessary, or even a natural, consequence:


Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.'--JUDE 7.

It is allowed, by the writers quoted below, that this verse does not, as many suppose, prove that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are suffering punishment in the spiritual world.

1. Whitby. I suppose Whitby believed many of these persons will be finally lost; but he did not believe the text to afford any proof to that effect. He says,

• That this is spoken not of the cities themselves, but of the inhabitants which dwelt in them-i. e., of them, who had given themselves over to fornication, and gone after strange fleshis evident; but yet I conceive they are said to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, not because their souls are at present punished in hell-fire, but because they, and their cities, perished from that fire from heaven which brought a perpetual, and irreparable destruction on them and their cities.

For (1,) we have proved—note on 2 Pet. ii. 6, and iii. 7—that even the devils themselves are not tormented, at present, in that infernal fire, but only will be cast into it at the day of judgment; and, therefore, neither do the wicked Sodomites yet suffer in those flames. (2,) I would admonish you, saith the apostle, though you once knew this, that Sodom and Gomorrah thus suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. Now, from the history of Genesis, and the writings of the prophets, they might

know that these cities, and the inhabitants of them, were overthrown, eis aiona, with a perpetual desolation, Zeph. ü. 9, but they could not know from thence that their souls were afterwards cast into hell-fire. (3) To deigma, an example, is to be taken from something visible to, or knowable by, all who were to be terrified by it, especially when it is an example manifested and proposed. Now such was not the punishment of their souls in hell-fire; but nothing was more known and celebrated among authors, sacred and profane, Jewish, Christian, and heathen writers, than the fire that fell down upon Pentapolis, or the five cities of Sodom, they being mentioned still in scripture, as the cities which God overthrew with a perpetual desolation.

Nor is there any thing more common and familiar in scripture, than to represent a thorough and irreparable vastation, whose effects and signs should be still remaining, by the word aionios, which we here render eternal. I will set thee, eis eremon aionion, in places desolate of old, Ezek. xxvi. 20. I will destroy thee, and thou shalt be no more, eis ton aiona, forever, ver. 21. I will make thee, eremian aionion, a perpetual desolation, and thy cities shall be built no more, chap. xxxv. 9. See also Ezek. xxxvi. 2, Isa. lviii. 12. They have caused them to stumble in their ways, to make their land desolate, and surigma aionion, a perpetual hissing, Jer. xviii. 15, 16. I will bring you, oneidismon aionion, an everlasting reproach, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten, Jer. xxiii. 40, and xxv. 9. I will make the land of the Chaldeans a perpetual desolation, thesomai autous eis aphanismon aionion, they shall sleep, upnon aionion, a perpetual sleep, Jer. li. 39. And this especially is threatened, where the destruction of a nation or people'is likened to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah ; thus, Babylon shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, ou katoi kethesetai eis ton aiona chronon, it shall never be inhabited, Isa. xiii. 19, 20. And again, Jer. 1. 40. The like is said of Edom, Jer. xlix. 17, 18; and of Moab. Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah,

« PreviousContinue »