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and personal exertions, may safely be understood in the same way. To account for the less visible influ. ence of evil spirits now, we have only to reflect on the work of the Great Redeemer. When on earth, he gave Satan's head a fatal blow. Hence we are not to look for the same exhibition of infernal power, as was visible in the generation in which our text was spoken Whether the demons were invisible, diabolical agents, or the corrupt and infernal dispositions of heart by which sinful men are, in a greater or less degree, influenced, is unimportant in this interpretation of the above parable. The latter, however, is congenial with our own experience ; the former, with the suppositions or imaginations of others.
III. When the question is proposed, Why the Scribes and Pharisees should be represented by a man out of whom the unclean spirit had gone, or a house empty, swept, and garnished, we reply ; In this and many other instances, the Master reasoned with them, by granting the sentiment for which they contended, though erroneous, in order more fully to expose its ako surdity and their wickedness.
When the Pharisees considered themselves whole, and others indisposed, Jesus exposed their folly by allowing it, and declaring, he came to confer blessings on the latter. Did the Pharisees solicit his attention and company, priding themselves with the vain notion of being righteous ? He admitted it, and said, "I came not to call the righteous (such as you suppose yourselves,) but sinners to repentance.” His language admits of the following paraphrase : "If your notion be correct, ye Scribes and Pharisees, that you are righteous, then you have no need of my endeavors to assist, nor even of my example to guide you, in the pathway of the just. If you have been converted from sin or delivered from the unclean spirit so common to the Jews, as you pretend, why do you now come lorward, exhibiting far greater wickedness than your
predecessors ? You are comparable with a man, who, having been once delivered from an evil demon, is again visited with the same, and seven more, more infernal than he ; in which his condition would be rendered worse.
We are not to understand by the above, that the Pharisees were in reality like an empty and garnished house ; but, simply, that admitting they had once been delivered from the influence of the wicked spirit, their conduct, at the time our text was spoken, proved them possessed of a disposition, seven fold more criminal, than was common to the Jewish nation. If their house had been once swept, it had become altogether upclean. The aseription of numerous miracles to a diabolical agency, was far more malignant, than a disbelief of the truth in the Messiahship of Jesus.
IV. The last state of that man was worse than the first ; or, the greater the wickedness of mankind, the more dreadful the consequences.
By considering the condition of the Jews, at the time our Savior spake, we shall easily compreh: nd the meaning of the above expression. We have found them more sinful, hardened and adulterous, than their predecessors. Consequently, as long as they remain. ed in a state of impenitence, their punishment would be greater. And even the duration of it is rendered anful, as we learn by the denunciation pronounced against them, for the perpetration of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. The last state, or that in which they possessed eight devils instead of one. is surely more painful than the former. If to be under the influence of ope evil demon be a curge, to be distracted by the combined power of many, must be more so.
The instantaneous overthrow of Sodom and Go. naorrah by fire from beaven, was tolerable. compared with the calamity and destruction of the Jews, at the revelation of Jesus Christ in the glory of his Father. As the greatest crimes,unrepented of,incur the heaviest judgements, we may easily account for the following language applied to the generation, represented in our text. “For then (in the judgement of the Jews) shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world, to this time, no, nor ever shall be ;" for it is a righteous- thing with God to recompense tribulation to those who wickedly oppose his truth, his gospel, and, above all, the Son of his love.
Let us beware, candid reader, how we treat these subjects. Let us all take heed, lest our conduct prove analogous to the doctrine of the parable. Lest having abandoned some heinous iniquity, we suffer the evil again to return upon us with seven fold influence.. For criminal habits which have once been suppressed, and are again indulged, will generally assume a more for.. midable abd unyielding aspect. Like a foe once sub-. dued. but at length victorious, they will exercise a tyranny unlimited in its severity. Then having obe tained a victory over every evil disposition or criminal habit, exhibit the activity and faculties of a man, in resisting its second assault, instead of the passivepess of a house, in the re-possession of its former residence. Then shall it never be said of thee, candid reader, the last condition of that man was more intolerable than the first.
JURTHER REMARKS, &c.
[Concluded.) To prove there is no deliverance from hell, and that wicked men and devils will be tormented as long as the righteous are bappy in heaven, the speaker quoted Prov. xxix. 1, "He that being often reproved, hardeneth bis neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” But what kind of evidence is this? Does the text say any thing about hell? about its end.
less duration ? or devils and the wicked remaining there eternally? Not a syllable of all this. What would the reader think of a man, who should undertake to prove that one of his neighbors inbumanly butchered one of his own lovely infants, by producing witnesses that testify, that the man said he would chastise his servants if they were refractory ? And the disparity between the threatening and the supposed inhumanity, dwindles into less than nothing, when brought in sight of Mr. Latbrop's doctrine of never ending agony. To destroy a thing, is widely different from perpetuating it in endless suffering.
In relation to the words everlasting and eternal, ap. plied to the misery of the wicked, I would observe ; this subject has not only been frequently canvassed by the learned, but the Editor of the Repository havjog an erudite criticism on it, now ready for this or the next number, I feel extremely happy in submitting this point to him ; and, therefore, request my readers to suspend an opinion, till favored with itte perusal of that article.
Mr. Lathrop's quotation from 2 Pet. iii. 16, was evidently against him ; for the Apostle was so careful as to discriminate the things which were hard to be understood. But was he speaking of the doctrine of endless misery? I answer, no; and refer my readers to the passage and ils connexions, for the truth of my assertion. Observe. “As also in all bis Epistles, speaking in them of these things ; in which are some things hard to be understood.” Some things hard to be understood ? What things ? Answer; the coming of the Lord, as a thief in the night-the dissolution of the heavens and the elements, by fire-the new heavens and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. These are the things hard to be understood. Not a word about Mr. Lathrop's endless misery, or ghosts tormented in hell, as long as God lives. Therefore, the presumpe tion is, that he is one of the characters to whom St.
Peter alla led; for he evidently misunderstood these things, and applied them to a doctrine not so much as mentioned in revelatiðn. And though it will evidently be to his own destruction ; yet, I sincerely hope he will realize help in the Lord, as it is written; “Thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is tbine help."
Mr. Lathrop teaches with uncommon authority, that the blind leaders of the blind, those whom we are not to bid God speed, neither receive into our houses,are the deniers of the doctrine of endless misery This is more readily presumed than proved. When he proves that blind leaders were believers in God's equal goodness to mankind; advocates for the will of God, that all men shall be saved'; teachers that Jesus is the Savior of all'men, especially of those wbo believe, he will be considered worthy of further notice. Otherwise, his. far-fetched inferences will be imputéd to mental or - spiritual blindness.
But the greatest curiosity is, tbat those who be. Jieve in Jesus as the Savior of the world, the One ap-pointed to destroy sin, Satan, and death, are to remain: in hell, with devils and the blackest characters as long as God exists. Here if they did not believe he was the Savior, neither that he would destroy sin, &c. they would be received into the mansions of the blest. Reader, does not Mr. Lathrop dony the scriptures; or, in other words, do not the scriptures teacb, that Jesus will destroy sin, and its author, and its consequences? But does Mr. Lathrop really believe that a man will be eternally miserable for believing more than he does ? If so, where is bis Calvinism ? I think I shall not misrepresent Mr. Lathrop, to say, he holds that God, from all past eternity, elected some to everlasting life, through a Redeemer; and they will as surely be saved, as God will effect his own purpose ; that their salvation is as fully and completely of God,as their creation ; that just as many will be saved as is