« PreviousContinue »
cluding the graces of the Holy Spirit. In a future state of punishment, that is, in hell, the sinner must be acknowledged to be destitute of holiness; and possessing no moral quality but sin or unholiness, he can of himself under these circumstances, never produce or originate holiness, which alone can prepare him for heaven. As well might unholiness produce holiness, sin produce righteousness, death produce life, or damnation produce salvation, as for a guilty, condemned sinner in hell, to work himself into a holy candidate for heaven! It is clear then that no moral change can take place in the sinner for the better after the day of general judgment; and hence; the sinner, if sent to hell, must remain forever the same, and remaining forever the same in moral character, God can never, consistently with his own immutability, revoke the sentence. For God to condemn a sinner and send him to hell, at one time, and then revoke the sentence and recall him from his infernal prison, while he is yet the same in moral character, is to act differently at different times, in view of the same moral principles ; which implies change or mutability. We trust we have now shown,
1st. That the penalty of the divine law which is death, is in itself an endless curse, so as never to terminate of itself, but being left to its own tendency will hold on upon its subjects with an eternal grasp.
2d. That the immutability of God, the judge of all, forbids the thought that the sentence will ever be revoked by the act of him whose word inflicted it. From these two points the conclusion is irresistible, that the sinner if condemned when judged at the last day, must remain under condemnation for ever, world without end.
XI. The relation, which the sinner will sustain to the divine administration after the day of judgment, will be such as to render his punishment endless. After the general judgment the sinner will not sustain to God's moral government the relation of a subject in a state of trial or probation ; but of a subject in a state of retribution. Leaving out of the account the case of infants, which can have no bearing upon this argument, we say that men can sustain but two relations to the divine administration: the first is that of a state of tri
al or probation, during which they are held accountable to answer for their conduct at the judgment of the last day; the second is a state of retribution, in wnich they enjoy or suffer the reward of their conduct in their state of trial, as it may have been good or bad. These two relations which men sustain to the divine government, are separated from each other by the judgment. Probation ends at death, and retribution commences at the judgment; the intermediate state being only a state of arrest preparatory to the judgment. The reader will perceive that this argument proceeds on the supposition, that there is a day of general judgment; this point having been proved in the preceding chapter. Not only so, but Restorationers, against whose theory this argument is directed, without much reserve admit the fact of a general judgment. On this ground then, we say the judgment, including the intermediate state, is the dividing period between these two states of trial and retribution, dividing man's existence into two grand portions, the first of which is state of trial, and the second a state of retribution. Now, as there are but these two states in man's whole existence, and as the judgment divides between these, it follows that all prior to the judgment must be a state of trial, and that all after the judgment is a state of retribution. This clearly renders the retribution endless, both of the righteous and wicked; hence, those who are condemned at the judgment, having to spend the whole of their remaining existence in a state of retribution, must remain under such sentence of condemnation so long as they exist; and, therefore, must be the subjects of endless punishment.
Should it be insisted, in opposition to this argument, that probation or a state of trial will extend beyond the judgment, we object to such a hypothesis on the following ground:
1. Such a position, would suppose the judgment not final, and that another judgment must take place, subsequently to the one of which we read in the scriptures, and to which we refer when we talk of a general judgment to come. It must be clear that if the present state of trial is to be closed by a general judgment, calling its subjects to render an account for their conduct during the same, it must appear
reasonable that every other state of trial which may follow should end
in the same way, by a general judgment; and as it is matter of fact that some do mis-improve the present state, we see the principle which would assign to man a state of trial after the general resurrection and judgment at the end of this world, would lay the foundatioa for an alternate succession of trial and judgment through the coming ages of eternity; nor can it appear, on this principle, that all will be saved; for as men do abuse the present state of trial, they may on the same principle, abuse every subsequent state of trial, and hence, never respond to the fearful claims of their probation.
2. If the future state, after the judgment, is to be a state of trial, no good reason can be given why it will not be such to the righteous as well as to the unrighteous; and if all are to be in a state of trial, it may be the occasion of the fall of some of the good, as well as of the repentance of some of the bad; hence, nothing will be gained to the cause of universalism by this unscriptural and visionary notion of probation in the future world. This appears still stronger in view of the facts already established—that both Adam and angels fell into sin from a holy state.
XII. The circumstances of the sinner, after the day of judgment, will be such as to preclude the possibility of his salvation, on gospel terms. There will be no opportunity in the future state to comply with the conditions of salvation, as it is offered in the gospel. We here particularly insist upon faith, and its concomitants, as being essential to salvation. Mark xvi. 16. “He that believeth shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned." John iii. 36. " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life." Heb. xi. 6. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Now, we maintain that it will be impossible for man to believe, in a gospel sense, in the future world, after the day of judgment. This must appear from the nature of faith itself. St. Paul has given us the following definition of faith, Heb. xi. 1. “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” From this text we learn,
1. That as “ faith is the substance of things hoped for," it can exist only in the absence of the things which are the object of our hope.
2. As “faith is the evidence of things not seen” it can exist only in the absence of the things to which it relates, of which it is the evidence; hence, faith always stands opposed to sight. 2 Cor. v.7. “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” Now, no such faith can exist in the future world. Can the sinner, in the future world, believe that there is a God when he shall have seen him as he is, and while he shall be suffering under the penalty of his righteous law ? Can he believe in Jesus Christ, as his saviour who died for him, after he has been judged by him and condemned for not having believed through the evidence which the gospel affords in this life? Surely there could be no virtue in such faith ; or, rather, it would not be faith but knowledge, forced upon the understanding with all the solemnities of the judgment day. The day of judgment will furnish ocular demonstration of all the essential truths of the gospel, which we are now required to believe on other testimony, leaving no possible room for the exercise of faith; hence, as faith is the only condition of our justification, when a sinner dies in unbelief and passes into the invisible world, he is at once beyond the reach of gospel justification, and must reap forever the reward of his unbelief, where he will be made to know irresistibly, what he refuses to believe in this life on gospel testimony.
Faith will also be impossible after the day of judgment, in another point of view. We have shown in the preceding argument, that at the day of judgment Christ will resign the mediatorial kingdom ; that he will judge sinners at the last day, and not intercede for them. He will then no longer be oui intercessor, our advocate with God, our propitiation and our atoning sacrifice at the throne. How then can the sinner believe in Jesus Christ, in a gospel sense, after the day of judgment? Can the sinner believe in Jesus Christ as his intercessor and advocate with God at the day of judgment, when he shall be condemned by him as his judge. It is impossible. Indeed were the sinner to believe this, he would believe a falsehood which could not save him, and yet without faith in Christ there can be no salvation. It must appear plain in view of the above facts, that to believe in Christ after the day of judgment, as the gospel now requires us to believe in him, would be to believe what will not then be true;
therefore, gospel faith, and consequently gospel salvation, will be impossible after the day of judgment.
Should universalists attempt to take advantage of this argument, by supposing it to cut off all the heathen and infants from salvation for want of faith, we reply, that the argument has nothing to do with them. That the heathen who never have heard the gospel, and infants whose rational powers are yet locked up in the immature organs of the earthly tenement, cannot believe, we admit; and the argument asserts nothing concerning these, but is founded wholly on the case of adult sinners, who hear the gospel in this life, and are capable of believing it. If universalists will undertake to prove that if adult sinners, who hear the gospel and are capable of believing, cannot be saved for want of faith, that therefore the heathen who do not hear the gospel, and infants who are not capable of faith, cannot be saved, they will assume ground both unscriptural and unreasonable.
XIII. To suppose that the punishment of the wicked, in a future state, will be of limited duration, must involve the divine administration in injustice. After the frequent and clamorous charges of injustice, which universalists have brought againt the doctrine of endless punishment, it may startle the reader to see this charge returned upon its authors and urged against the doctrine of limited punishment in a future state. It may also be thought a strange position to maintain, that endless punishment is just, and limited punishment unjust; but we have only to ask for an attentive hearing on this subject and hope to satisfy the candid reader that the position is tenable. That this argument may be clearly understood, we will distinctly state the several points from whence the conclusion is drawn.
1. There is to be a day of general judgment, as we have heretofore proved, when sinners will be judged and receive a sentence consigning them to a punishment proportioned to their demerit. That the punishment of sinners will be proportioned to their guilt, cannot be denied. Romans ii. 6. “Who will render to every man according to his deeds." 2 Cor. v. 10. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that every one may receive the things done in his body according to ihat he hath done whether it be good or