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passion, and yet it failed to melt down their hard hearts. Nothing can be more plain than that goodness and mercy have followed sinners all their days; sinners who have lived in sin and blasphemy, and died unreformed. That sinners do resist the influence of divine mercy, and rebel against the filial regard of the hand that formed them, God himself bears testimony while he calls heaven and earth to witness the astonishing fact. Isa. i. 2. “Hear, O heavens! and give ear, O earth! for the Lord hath spoken; I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me."
4. Sinners sometimes resist and harden themselves under the dispensation of divine punishment. Rev. xvi. 9. “ And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God which hath power over these plagues, and they repented not to give him glory.” Verse 11. “And men blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains, and repented not of their deeds.” Verse 21. “ And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for the plague thereof was exceeding great." We have now shown that sinners do sometimes resist all the principal means which God employs to bring them to repentance and salvation, and hence, the salvation of all men cannot be certain, on one hand, while, on the other hand, the endless punishment of those who resist the means of their salvation, is the most probable issue.
VI. The scriptures teach that there will come a time when it will be too late to seek and obtain salvation. Gen. vi. 3. “And the Lord said, my spirit shall not always strive with man." That the influence of the divine spirit is essential to salvation cannot be doubted by any who believe the Bible, and yet sinners are threatened with a withdrawal of this spirit, in which case it must be forever too late to seek salvation. On this text Dr. Clark remarks as follows: “ It was only by the influence of the spirit of God that the car. nal mind could be subdued and destroyed: but those who wilfully resisted and grieved this spirit, must be ultimately left to the hardness and blindness of their own hearts." Psa. xxxii. 6. “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.” This text clearly implies that there will come a time when God will not be
found; hence, we read, Isa. lv. 6. “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. An exhortation to seek God, “while he may be found,” most clearly supposes that a time is coming when he will not be found; and to “call while he is near,"
supposes that a time is coming when he will not be near. In accordance with this we read, Prov. i. 24, 26, 28. “Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh ; then shall they call upon me but I will not answer, they shall seek me early but shall not find me." Chap. v. 11. “ And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body is consumed.” Isa. xxxviii
. 18. “ For the
praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee : they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth." Whether the word, here rendered pit, signifies the grave or hell itself, will not alter the nature of the evidence, which the text furnishes, in proof that there will come a time when it will be too late to seek salvation. If they that go
down into the grave cannot hope for the truth of God, it follows that the only time and place in which we have the proffers of divine truth, and consequently of salvation, are in this world, and that those who rejeet the truth of God in this life, and descend to the grave in unbelief cannot hope for the rea newal of its proffers in the world to come. 2. Cor. vi. 2. “ For he saith, I have heard thee in a time acceptable, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” This most clearly implies that the accepted time and day of salvation are limited, and that a time is coming which will not be accepted, and which will not be a day of salvation. What then is the accepted time, and day of salvation? We answer the time of preaching the gospel, as the apostle says, at the close of the preceding chapter, of himself and all other true gospel ministers, “we are embassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.' Now, while this ministry of reconciliation is holding forth in the name of God, offering terms of peace to rebel
man, is the accepted time and day of salvavation ; and this closes with each individual sinner at death,
and will close with all sinners at the end of time, when all the watchmen shall be gathered in from Zion's walls, and all sinners be called to an account. Heb. iii. 13. “ But exhort one another while it is called to-day, lest any
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Verse 15. “ While it is said, to-day, if you will hear_his voice harden not your hearts as in the provocation.” By the expression,
to-day,” in these passages are understood the present state of gospel privileges and gracious overtures, in opposition to the state which is to succeed. In literal phraseology, 10day, distinguishes the present period of time from the future, which is called to-morrow; hence, when applied to the time of preaching the gospel, or to the time of God's gracious call to sinners through the gospel, it distinguishes the present time, that is, this life, during which “ it is said to-day,” as a time of gracious probation, within the limits of which sinners may hear the voice of God, in opposition to a time or state to come, when it will be too late to hear effectually unto salvation. Luke xiii. 25. “ When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, and he shall say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.” Matt. xxv. 11, 12. “ Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Here the case of sinners is brought to view by representing them in the condition of persons excluded from a marriage feast, in consequence of being too late in their application for admittance. The door is represented as being open only for a given period during which admission may be obtained, at the expiration of this period the door will be closed when it will be too late to enter. Now, if this serves at all to illustrate the impending destiny of sinners, and the principles of the divine administration as revealed in the gospel, of which there can be no doubt, it follows, that there is a limited period, during which the door of gospel salvation is open to all who will enter in and be saved, and that a time is coming when this door will be shut, that is, when the offers of salvation will no longer be held out to the sinner, and, consequently, when it will be too late to seek and obtain salvation.
If the texts above quoted do not mean this, they can have no bearing at all on the sinner's condition, and consequently, can have no meaning. It would be worse than trifling to pretend to deny, that the closing of the door and the shutting out of certain characters represents an exclusion from gospel blessings, and to suppose that it relates merely to a temporary exclusion here in this world. This would be false, for sinners are not shut out, in this sense, in this life : no sinner knocks at the door of the gospel church, or at the door of mercy and salvation, and receives for an answer, “ I know you not whence
Even the Jews, of forlorn condition, are not excluded in this sense ; to them the door of
gospel salvation is open ; hence, this exclusion from the benefits of religion, must be a future and a final one, when it will be too late to seek and obtain salvation. Rev. xxii. 11, 12. “ He that is unjust let him be unjust still, and he which is filthy let him be filthy still. And behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give unto every man according as his work shall be.” This text clearly teaches that there is a time coming when our moral characters will be forever settled; when it shall be said, “ he that is filthy, let him be filthy still,” it must be too late to seek and obtain salvation; and when it shall be pronounced," he that is holy, let him be holy still,” there will be no more apostacy.
Should it be said that this text has no reference to the final judgment, or to the fixing of our final condition, it is replied that were this granted it would not destroy the argument. The text clearly speaks of the coming of Christ, with his reward with him, to give unto every man according as his works shall be. Now, to make the least of this, it relates to some temporal calamity which threatened the destruction of the wicked ; and if it be said of the wicked in view of a temporal destruction, that is, temporal death, he that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still,” it follows that it will be too late to reform after death-that those who die morally filthy, will be filthy forever. If the text relates to the destruction of the Jews, as universalists suppose
almost every threatening relates to this event, then, it follows that those Jews which were destroyed, are filthy still. At least, the text proves that some sinners, at some time, either in this
world or the world to come, have been, or are to be, unalterably confirmed in their injustice and pollution, and with these it must be, at such time, forever too late to seek salvation. We think we have now shown from scripture, that there will come a time when it will be too late to secure salvation ; from which it must follow, that all who do not repent and obtain salvation, within the limits of this probationary state, must be forever lost.
'VII. The scriptures speak of rewards and punishments in a manner which clearly implies the doctrine of endless punishment. These scriptures are various, some restricting salvation to certain characters, and others speaking of the punishment of the wicked. Matt. y. 8. « Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This text most clearly speaks of the future blessedness of the saints. Note, the condition, purity of heart, is in the present tense, and the blessing is in the future tense. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” those who are now pure in heart, “ for they shall see God” hereafter, not do now see God. If seeing God then relates to the admission of the saints into the divine presence hereafter, to “ ever be with the Lord,” it follows, that the impure in heart will be forever excluded from the society of the blessed. The text marks the blessedness of seeing God as peculiar to the pure in heart, which cannot be true if all are to see God, which must be the case if universalism be true; it would be equally true to say, blessed are the impure in heart, and wicked in life, for they shall see God. Herein universalism differs from the doctrine of Christ. Christ
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;" but universalism says, in effect, the impure, as well as
shall see God. But it may be said, in reply to this, that all will become pure, and then all will see God. True, if all become pure all will see God; but this is what the text does not assert; indeed, it implies directly the reverse. To promise the pure
in heart that they shall see God, implies that some may remain impure, and not see God. Not only so, but to take it for granted that all will become pure, is to beg the main question at issue. 2 Tim. iv. 7,8. “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