« PreviousContinue »
notion of it, as it reflects fitly on the first death, (which is a destruction, but such as is reparable by a reviving or resurrection, but this past hopes, and exclusive of that,) so will all the several places, wherein it is used, be clearly interpreted; chap. ii. 11–He that overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death, that is, if this church holds out constant, it shall not be cut off; that is, though it shall meet with great persecutions, ver. 10, and death itself, yet that utter excision would no way better be prevented than by this of constancy and persevering in suffering of all. So here, speaking of the flourishing condition of the christian church, reviving, after all its persecutions and corruptions, to a state of tranquillity and purity; On these, saith he, the second death hath no power, that is, they have not incurred that utter excision, (having their part in the first resurrection,) but they shall be priests to Christ and God, and reign, f.c., that is, have a flourishing time of christian profession for that space of a thousand years. So in ver. 14, where death and hades, [hell,] are cast into the lake of fire, that is, death and the state of mortality utterly destroyed, (O death, I will be thy death,) it is added, this is the second death, that is, mortality is utterly destroyed, there shall now be no more death, the life shall be eternal. So chap. xxi. 8, the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, (the utter, irreversible destruction, such as fell on Sodom, called eternal fire, utterly consumptive,) is called the second death, into which they are said to go, that are never to appear in the church again, (see chap. xxi. 8). And though in these different matters, some difference there must needs be in the significations, yet, in all of them, the notion of utter destruction, final, irreparable excision, may very properly be retained, and applied to each of them.' Annot. in loc.
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.'-Rev. xx. 10.
This is considered, by all the orthodox commentators, as far as I am acquainted with them, as proof of the existence and misery of a mighty apostate spirit, whom they call the devil. But this does not affect the question, whether all men shall be saved. For, as I have already said, (Jude 6,) the endless misery of devils or apostate angels is one thing, and the endless misery of mankind is another, and a very different thing. If the endless misery of the one class were fully proved, the like misery of the other class would not follow as a necessary, or even natural consequence.
. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them : and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'-Rev. xx. 12-15.
This passage, also, is explained, by all the orthodox commentators, as far as my examination has extended, with reference to the events of the future life. But it should be recollected, that many of them have interpreted similar forms of expression, occurring in this book, to relate to events transpiring on the earth. Why they have given a different interpretation to the same kind of language here, I do not profess to know.
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.'-Rev. xxi. 8.
The following quotations furnish orthodox authority for supposing this text to relate to the concerns of the present life, and not to those of the future.
1. HAMMOND. • But for the false, apostatizing, cowardly Gnostics, notable for so many ill qualities, abominable villainies in lust, bloodiness, persecuting of the orthodox, pure christians, adultery, sorcery, idol worship, deep dissimulation, and lying, and falsifying, yea, perjuries; and all such as they were, they shall utterly be turned out of the church, (see note on chap. xx. 6,) not to appear any more among the christians. Par. in loc.
2. ROSENMULLER. For the meaning of this verse, so far as it indicates punishment, Rosenmuller refers to what he has said on chap. xix. 20, which is quoted in its proper place.
"And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.'-Rev. xxi. 25-27.
That this does not indicate exclusion from happiness in the future life, but only exclusion from the church on earth, is admitted in the following quotation :
HAMMOND. · And there shall be a most ready, hospitable reception, at all times, for all that will come into
the faith by amendment of life. And the Gentiles of other parts, that are not subject to the Roman empire, shall come into the church, and contribute their best to the flourishing of it, by endowing of the church, (which is ordinarily meant by honor). And this shall, generally, be done by all that have any resolution of living purely and godly; and only they shall be kept out which are immersed in all filthiness, and abominable, unnatural, vicious practices, and in all kind of unjust dealing, for such cannot by the laws of baptism be received, and such will not desire to undergo Christ's discipline.' Par. in loc.
• And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.-Rev. xxii. 11.
This text has frequently been quoted to prove that those who die in a sinful state must be raised with the same moral character, and so remain to all eternity. But that this is not the true meaning of the words, is admitted by the writers quoted below.
1. HAMMOND. And then, methought, Christ himself said thus unto me-Seal not, shut not up this prophecy; (as sealing is opposed to leaving open and legible, Isa. xxix. 11,) lay it not up as a thing that only future ages are concerned in; for the time of the completion of a great part of it is so immediately at hand, that it is fit the prophecy should be open, for all to see, and observe the complexion of it. And now the bad and good shall come to receive their sentence; there remain not now any more seasons of working changes on any, but he that is now an impenitent persecutor of christianity, an impenitent, carnal Gnostic, is like suddenly to be taken, and dealt with accordingly, and on the other side, he
that held out constant for all those terrors, and persecutions, and deceits of carnal sins, is suddenly to receive the fruits and rewards of it. Par. in loc.
1. Tomson's BEZA. • This is not as were other prophecies, which were commanded to be hid, till the time appointed, as in Dan. xii. 4, because that these things should be quickly accomplished, and did even now begin.' Note in loc.
Both these writers evidently understand the text to be descriptive of a remarkable distinction which was to be made on the earth, between the good and the bad, very soon after this prophecy was delivered.
SECTION CXLII. * Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.'-Rev. xxii. 14, 15.
That these words are to be understood in relation to events occurring on the earth, and not in the future state of existence, is allowed by the writers quoted below :
1. HAMMOND. "Thrice happy are they that receive the faith of Christ, and live according to those rules of piety mentioned ver. 2, and live quietly and christianly in the church: out of which, all profane, wicked persons are to be ejected; such are the Gnostics, who cannot be better compared than to dogs, for biting and tearing the orthodox, constant christians, and are over and above sorcerers professed, and guilty of all filthy pollutions, bloody-minded, guilty of idol-worship, and hypocritical treacherous persons, (see chap. xxi. 8,) and so are but false, equivocal members of Christ's church, and shall have no part of the benefit of christians. Par. in loc.
Thus does Dr. Hammond interpret the city, out of which all vile characters are to be ejected, to mean the