Sivut kuvina

objection. He says, “ Did Daniel here speak of everlasting punishment of the wicked? If he did, he declared it in plainer language than any other sacred writer.” Surely he is like to children sitting in the market and saying we have piped unto you, and ye have not danced, we have mourned unto you and ye have not lamented. The truth now is taught too plainly to admit belief.

I have already pursued this examination beyond the patience of the reader, and shall therefore omit other passages whose testimony is equally in point. And were I to labor in the summing up of the matter contained in this chapter to give you a vivid and forcible condensation of the proof, I could do nothing more effectually than to read you the passages commented on, and ask you to decide, what is the plain unsophis. ticated common sense interpretation of them. Read them and forget every comment that you heard of them, and you will find it difficult to resist the conviction that the word of God has revealed a judgment to come.



I CANNOT persuade myself to dismiss this topic, without presenting some facts and considerations which, independent of direct scripture testimony, appear to my own mind, conclusive proofs that there is to be a judgment after death. The theory of Mr. Balfour and the modern universalists (excepting as I do in all this discussion, the restorationists) is, if I understand it, that all punishment or retribution which God ever inflicts on men, he inflicts in this world. This idea I think can be shown to be untenable, aside from that kind of eyidence which we have been examining. That it can be clearly proved that this present life is not the scene of God's last and most complete retribution. I shall not pretend that nothing is here done in a way of retribution. Scripture records many instances of retributions inflicted on nations and individuals. God here and there lets down a stroke of his justice to check the flow of human wickedness, and forewarn the world of what is to be ex. pected, at the termination of the sinner's guilty career. But it is generally true that sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed.

My first reason for believing that this life is not the scene of complete and only retribution, is, that the ends of punishment are not fully nor chiefly answered by all the judgments that are inflicted on the wicked here. What is the end of punishment? The universalist replies the good of the offender only. This is not true. But grant it for the moment. If all are punished according to their deeds in this world, it is plain that this punishment fails of securing in all instances the reformation of the offender. Those passages of scripture which speak of judging every man according to his works, are made by the universalist to say that all men have a complete retribution according to the deserts of their sin in this world, and this punishment is designed to reform the offender. But I ask, is this end answered? Are all effectually reformed in this life ? Are the evils which the drunkard endures seen to be working a gradual reformation upon him as he approximates towards a drunkard's death? Does the man in the act of suicide show that the work of reformation was complete upon him at the moment when he left the world? The well known fact that millions of wretched beings are pressing on from this to the eternal world, increasing in wickedness and hardness of heart as they go, shows that the purpose of man's reformation is not universally and completely effected by punishment or any other means in this world. On this hypothesis God is every where attempting what he cannot effect, and then receiving into a state of being, where punishment and the rod of correction never come-receiving to his confidence and love those whose obstinate rebellion neither persuasions nor chastisements could subdue.

But it is not true that all punishment is disciplinary, intended for the ultimate good of the offender. The execution of a murderer is not specially intended for his own good, but for the good of the state, to sustain the force of law. And the laws of God look as much to the public good as do the laws of a state. But understanding retribution as designed to give force to law, and cause the lawgiver to be feared and obeyed, we do not see its ends universally or generally answered in this world. No retributions, here experienced, avail to create a general respect for the law of God, to vindicate his power, holiness and truth, till all men have an effectual impression of it, and to rectify the disorders of the moral kingdom. We expect that the authority of God will be recognized, that the .force and energy of government will be felt, if any where, surely on the ground where law is having its highest and most impressive executions. But what a farce is God's law, and what a mockery its execution, if having done its utmost, it secures

no more respect and obedience, than it gets from this world ! God either has to law to which he will exact the obedience of. men, or there is to be a day after the sun has ceased to shine upon this world, when he will render unto every man according to his works.

The fact that there are Atheists in the world, is of itself a proof of a judgment in the future world. For I take it to be self-evident, that retribution does not answer its proper ends, unless the person knows whence and why the infliction comes. According to the Hebrew law-giver, the offender is punished that all men may hear and fear; and retribution is in amount the practical declaration of God, of his purpose to enforce obedience, and if effectual, it is received as such by all on whom the example operates. If the government of any commonwealth should send out the strokes of justice through secret agents, employed for the punishment of crime, instead of distributing them through open courts of justice, so that the community should see that one was made to suffer in his estate, another in his reputation, another in the loss of life, while none knew why and whence the disaster came-that would answer no ends of government, and give no force to law. So a punishment sent from the King of kings, if it come not in ways so marked and manifest, as to compel conviction whence and why it comes, fails of its end. Is it to be credited then, that this world is the scene where God makes the highest manifestations of his justice, and gives the fullest enforcements to his law by penalties, while a great part of the world have no practical impression that there is a God—while few of those most deserving of punishment have any idea that they are receiving punishment for their sins? Is God pouring his completest retributions through this world, while the world knows it not? If so his whole design is frustrated, he is mocked by the work of his hands—he is mocked in his very attempt to make his power and justice known. And then it is a remarkable fact that the most wicked, those who deserve most deeply to feel the rod are usually most insensible of God's presence and power in the evils which they endure. Does this imper

fection attend the government of God, that he cannot give energy and effect to his retributions, that he punishes and the offender knows not by whom he is punished or whether he is pun. ished or not? I think we have reason to expect that when God puts on the character of a judge in order to render to every man according to his works, he will make his justice run out in such lines, that every eye can see it—he will throw upon the distinction between the righteous and the wicked such a light that all will be forced to recognize it—he will let forth the hand that inflicts the stroke so impressively that none can doubt whence it.comes or for what intent. There will be no atheists in that day which God has appointed to judge the world.

Again, the success which the worst of men often find in the worst of schemes, proves that God has judgments in reserve for the future world. I will not say to how great an extent it is true, as Job expresses, that The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke. God are secure, into whose hands God bringeth abundantly. I own that there are instances of retribution signal and exemplary, so often that the robber has reason to fear that wealth gotten by his means, will afford him little comfort. But it is sufficient for our argument that there are many glaring facts of a contrary nature, that there is many a proud oppressor who gathers wealth from the sighs and tears of his fellow-men, and yet who lives to enjoy his wealth as long as the most upright--that there are those into whose hands God bringeth abundantly, who by the worst of means have accumulated hundreds of thousands, and yet who live and die free from disastrous reverses, whose stately mansions seem to look defiance to the God of justice, and impress on every beholder the conviction that justice is forever The dethroned, if she have not reserved for herself a vindication in the world to come. What say you of those who by acts of piracy and butchery of their fellow-men, enrich themselves with the wealth of the seas, and yet escape detection ? What of those, who against light and conviction make merchandise of men's bodies, and roll in affluence brought to them in ships that have served as the prison-house, yea, the slaughter-house of hundreds of hu

« EdellinenJatka »