Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

them, promises or intimations of future mercy. But, when the scripture speaks of God's dealings with ungodly men in another world, there are nothing but declarations and denunciations of wrath and misery, and no intimations of mercy ; no gentle terms used, no significations of divine pity, no exhortations to humiliation under God's awful band, or calls to seek his face and favour, and turn and repent. The account that the scripture gives of the treatment that wicked men shall meet with after this life, is very inconsistent with the notion of their being from necessity subjected to harsh means of cure, and severe chastisement, with a benevolent, gracious design of their everlasting good : particularly the manner in which Christ will treat them at the day of judgment. He will bid the wicked depart from him as cursed.

$23. We have no account of any invitations to accept of mercy; any counsels to repent, that they may speedily be delivered from this misery. But it is represented that then they shall be made his footstool. He shall triumph over them. He will trample upon them as men are wont to tread grapes in a wine-press, when they trample with all their might, to that very end that they may effectually crush them in pieces. He will trend them in his anger, and trample them in his fury, and, as he says, their blood shall be sprinkled on his garments, and he will stain all his raiment, Isaiah Ixiii. at the beginning; Rev. xiv. 19, 20. and chap. xix. 15. in which last place it is said, he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. These things do not savour of chastening with compassion and benevolence, and as still prosecuting a design of love toward them, that he may in the end actually be their saviour, and the means of their eternal glory. There is nothing in the account of the day of judgment, that looks as though saints had any love or pity for the wicked, on account of the terrible long-continued torments which they must suffer. Nor indeed will the accounts that are given, admit of supposing any such thing. We have an account of their judging them, and being with Christ in condemning them, concurring in the sentence, wherein he bids them begone from him as cursed with devils into eternal fire; but no account of their praying for them, nor of their exhorting them to consider and repent.

They shall not be grieved, but rather rejoice at the glorious manifestations of God's justice, holiness, and majesty in their dreadful perdition, and shall triumph with Christ; Rev. xviii. 20. and xix. at the beginning. They shall be made Christ's footstool, and so they shall be the footstool of the saints. Psalm Ixviii. 23. “ That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in

the same." If the damned were the objects of divine benevolence, and designed by God for the enjoyment of his eternal love, doubtless it would be required of all God's children to love them, and to pity them, and pray for them, and seek their good; as here in this world it is required of them to love their enemies, to be kind to the evil and unjust ; and to pity and pray

for the vilest of men, that were their own persecutors, because they are the subjects of God's mercy in many respects, and are fit objects of infinite divine mercy and love. If Christ, the head of all the church, pities the damned and seeks their good, doubtless his members ought to do so too. If the saints in heaven ought to pity the damned, as well as the saints on earth are obligated to pity the wicked that dwell here; doubtless their pity ought to be in some proportion to the greatness of the calamities of the objects of it, and the greatness of the number of those they see in misery. But if they had pity and sympathizing grief in such measure as this, for so many ages, what an alloy would it be to their happiness! God is represented as whetting his glittering sword, bending his bow, and making ready his arrows on the string against wicked men, and lifting his hand to heaven, and swearing, that he will render vengeance to his enemies, and reward them that hate him, and make his arrows drunk with their blood, and that his sword shall devour their flesh. Deut. xxxii. 40, 41, 42. and Psalm vii. J1, 12, 13. Certainly this is the language and conduct of an enemy, 'not of a friend, or of a compassionate chastising father.

§ 24. The degree of misery and torment that shall be inflicted, is an evidence, that God is not acting the part of benevolence and compassion, and only chastening from a kind and gracious principle and design. It is evident, that it is God's manner, when he thus afflicts men for their good, and chastens them with compassion, to stay his rough wind in the day of his east wind; to correct in measure ; to consider the frame of those that are corrected; to remember their weakness, and to consider how little they can bear. He turns away his anger, and does not stir up all his wrath. Psalm lxxviii. 37, 38, 39. Isa. xxvii. 8. Jer. xxx. 11. and xlvi. 28. And it is his manner, in the midst even of the severest afflictions, to order some mitigating circunstances, and to mix some mercy. But the misery of the damned is represented as unmixed. The wine of the wrath of God is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, that they may be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day

nór night. Rev. xiv. 10, 11. They are tormented in a flamo that burns within them, as well as round about them, and they shall be denied so much as a drop of water to cool their tongues. And God's wrath shall be inflicted in such a manner as to shew his wrath, and make his strength known on the vessels of wrath, and which shall be punished with everlasting destruction, answerable to that glory of Christ's power in wbich he shall appear at the day of judgment, when he shall come in the glory of his, Fatber, with power and great glory, in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel. Can any imagine, that in all this God is only correcting from love, and that the subjects of these inflictions are some of those bappy ones whom God corrects in order to teach them out of his law? whom he makes sore, and bindeth up? Job v. 17, 18. Psalm xciv. 12. There is nothing in Scripture that looks as if the damned were under the use of means to bring them to repentance. It is apparent that God's manner is, when he afflicts men, to bring to repentance by affliction, to join instructions, admonitions, and arguments to persuade.

But if we judge by scripture representations of the state of the damned, they are left destitute of all these things.There are no prophets, or ministers, or good men, to admonish them, to reason and expostulate with them, or to set them good examples. There is a perfect separation made betwixt all the righteous and the wicked by a great gulph ; so that there can be no passing from one to the other. They are left wholly to the company of devils, and others like them. When the rich man in hell cries to his father Abraham, begging a drop of water, he denies his request ; and adds no exhortation to repentance. Wisdom is abundantly represented in the book of Proverbs, as counselling, warning, calling, inviting, and expostulating with such as are under means for the obtaining wisdom, and as waiting upon them in the use of means, that they may turn at ber reproof. But as to such as are obstinate under these means of grace and calls of wisdom, till the time of their punishment comes, it is represented, that their fear shall come as desolation, and destruction as a wbirlwind; that distress and anguish shall come upon them; and that then it will be in vain for them to seek wisdom : that if they seek her early, they shall not find her, and if they call upon her, she will not hear; but instead of this, will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh ; which certainly does not consist with the idea that the God of wisdom is still striving with them, and using means, in a benevolent and compassionate manner, to bring them to seek and embrace wisdom; still offering wisdom, with all her unspeakable benefits, if they will hearken to her voice and comply with

her counsel. Is wisdom then actually using the most powerful and effectual means to bring them to this happiness, even such as shall surely be successful, though they have obstinately refused all' others; and when wisdom called, they heretofore refused, when she stretched forth her hand, they did not regard? Is he still most effectually acting the part of a friend, to deliver them from their distress and anguish, instead of laughing at their calamity ? Prov. i. latter end. This declaration of wisdom, if it ever be fulfilled at all, will surely be fulfilled most completely and perfectly at the time appointed for obstinate sinners

' to receive their most perfect and complete punishment.

If all mankind, even such as live and die in their wickedness, are and ever will be the objects of Christ's good-will and mercy, and those whose eternal happiness he desires and seeks; then surely he would pray for all : but Christ declares that there are some that he prays not for. John xvii. 9. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou bast given me ; for they are thine.” Compared with ver. 14. 6 The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Ver. 25. “ The world hath not known thee, but I have known thee; and these have known that thou hast sent me;" and ver. 20. “ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” By this it appears that Christ prayed for all that should ever be true believers.--But he prayed not for those who should not be brought by the word of the apostles, and such means of grace as are used in this * world, to believe in him, and should continue notwithstanding not to know God, and in enmity against true holiness or Christianity. These were such as Christ prayed not for.

$ 25. If sin and misery, and the second death, are to continue and prevail for so long a time after the day of judg. ment, with respect to great multitudes that Christ will finally save and deliver from those things, having perfectly conquered and abolished them; then how can the scriptures truly represent, that all enemies shall be put under his feet at the end of the world, and that the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death; and that then, having perfectly subdued all bis enemies, he shall resign up the kingdom to the Father, and be himself be subject to the Father? as in 1 Cor. xv. 20—28. The time of Christ's victory over death will be at the general resurrection and day of judgment, as is evident by ver. 54. with the foregoing context. The chief enemies that Christ came to destroy, with regard to such as should be saved, and be of his church, were sin and misery, or death consisting in sin, and death consisting in suffering the second death, un

speakably the greatest enemy that came by sin, infinitely more terrible than temporal death. But if the notion I am opposing be true, these greatest and worst enemies, instead of being subdued, shall have their principal reign afterwards, for many ages at least ; viz. sin in the sad effect and consequence of it, men's misery; and God shall have his strongest conflict with those enemies afterward; that is, sball strive against them in the use of the most powerful means.

$26. There is a great evidence, that the devil is not the subject of any dispensation of divine mercy and kindness, and that God is prosecuting no design of infinite goodness towards him, and that his pains are not purifying pains. It is manifest, that, instead of any influence of his torments to bring bim nearer to repentance, he has been from the beginning of his damnation, constantly, with all his might, exerting himself in prosecuting his wickedness, his violent, most haughty, and malignant opposition to God and man; fighting especially with peculiar virulence against Christ and his church; opposing with all bis might, every thing that is good ; seeking the destruction and misery of all mankind, with boundless and insatiable cruelty ; on which account he is called Satan, the adversary, and Abaddon and Apollyon, the destroyer. He is represented as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, a viper, the old serpent, the great red dragon; red, on account of his bloody cruel nature. He is said to be a murderer from the beginning. He has murdered all mankind, has murdered their souls as well as their bodies. He was the murderer of Jesus Christ, by instigating Judas and his crucifiers. He has most cruelly shed the blood of an innumerable multitude of the children of God. He is emphatically called the evil one, that wicked one, &c. He is a liar, and the father of lies, and the father of all tbe sin and wickedness that is, or ever has been, in the world. He is the spirit that worketb in the children of disobedience; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. It is said, that he that committeth sin is of the devil. For the devil sinneth from the beginning; and all wicked men are spoken of as bis children. He has set up himself as God of this world, in opposition to the true God, and bas erected a vast kingdom over the nations; and is constantly carrying on a war with the utmost earnestness, subtilty, malice, and venom, against Jesus Christ, and all his holy and gracious designs; maintaining a kingdom of darkness, wickedness, and misery, in opposition to Christ's kingdom of light, holiness, and peace; and thus will continue to do till the end of the world, as appears by Scripture prophecies.

§ 27. And God's dealings with him are infinitely far from

« EdellinenJatka »