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" through the Gospel.”. Christians are taught that man has two states of existence, the one temporal, the other eternal: ineffable, interminable bliss, is promised to those who are “ faithful unto death ;” while “ in“ dignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,” are represented as the eternal doom of " every soul of “man that doeth evil,” and repenteth not. The Scriptures also suggest to us a remarkable and essential distinction, not only in regard to the duration, but to the nature, of the states before and after death. Here the capacity of enjoyment and that of suffering appear to have nearly an invariable ratio : those who have the richest sources of delight seem to have most avenues of pain; every new road to knowledge gives them a fresh insight into their ignorance ; and every refinement upon pleasure renders them more alive to distress : while those who are blunted against the finer feelings seem in an equal degree hardened against the pressure of evil ; so that though they may enjoy less, they likewise suffer less: and the happiness of this life is, probably, much more uniformly diffused (the stings of conscience not considered) than cursory observers might suppose. But this balancing of bliss and woe will not be found beyond the grave. In the future world the capability of enjoyment will, to the blessed, be perpetually expanding, while that of suffering will be entirely destroyed: and, on the other hand, with those who are consigned to endless punishment, the capacity of suffering will, there is reason to fcar, continually increase, while that of enjoyinent will be blunted and annihilated ;—for “ the wrath of God
" abideth on them.” They are considerations like these, that give such unbounded importance to the concerns of the soul, and make us exclaim to those who regard them with supineness,
ci O! be wise !
Allow me to place before you a few of the passages of Scripture, in which the nature and duration of the future state of existence are expressly declared. And first I shall quote part of the language of our Lord in his awful description of the solemnities of the judg. ment day, 6 Then the King will say to them on his 6 right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit " the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 66. of the world.” “ Then shall he say also to them on “ his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into ever“ lasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” " And these shall go away into everlasting punish“ ment; but the righteous into life eternal.” (i) In one of his prayers to his heavenly Father, the language of the Messiah was, “ Father, I desire that those “ whom thou hast given me may be with me where I “ am, to behold my glory.” (k) In his celebrated sermon on the mount, his language was, “ Blessed are
(1) Matt. xxv. 34, 41, 46. (k) John, xvii. 24.
« the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” (1) And in the Revelation we have the promise, “ To him that “ overcometh I will grant to sit upon my throne, even “ as I also overcame and sit with my Father on his « throne." (m) Hence, in other parts of the same inspired book, it is said, “ They are before the throne 6 of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; 66 and he that sitteth on the throne will dwell among “ them. They will hunger no more, nor will they “ thirst any more ; nor will the sun strike on them, “ nor any heat. For the Lamb that is in the midst 66 of the throne will feed them, and will lead them to “ living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away « all tears from their eyes.” “ And there shall be no vo more death, neither sorrow nor lamentation, neither 6 shall there be any more pain : for the former things “ are passed away.” (n) Well may language labour to describe felicity such as this: even hyperbole upon hyperbole would here be defective, as is indicated by the apostle Paul when he calls it “ an exceedingly “ exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (0)
Let us now contemplate the other side of the pićture. “ If thine hand cause thee to offend, cut it 56 off: it is better for thee to enter maimed into life, “ than, having two hands, to go into hell, into the “ unquenchable fire; where their worm dieth not; “ and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot cause
(1) Matt. v. 8.
(m) Rev. ii. 21. (n) Rev. vii. 15-17. xxi. 4.
(0) 2 Cor. iv. 17, where the kal' vtrepßolny ELS UTEPßolyv is infinitely emphatical, as Blackwall justly remarks.
" thee to offend, cut it off: it is better for thee to “ enter into life lame, than, having two feet, to be “ cast into hell, into the unquenchable fire; where " their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 66 And if thine eye cause thee to offend, pluck it out; - it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God « with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into “ hell fire ; where their worm dieth not, and the fire 6 is not quenched. For every one shall be SALTED “ WITH FIRE.” (p)“ Between us and you (who are 6 in hell torment) there is a great gulf fixed: so that 6 they which would pass from hence to you cannot; 66 neither can they pass to us that would come from - thence.” (g) « The Lord Jesus shall be manifested 66 from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming “ fire, taking vengeance on those that know not God, 66 and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus “ Christ: and these shall suffer punishment, even 66 everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord 66 and from the glory of his power.” (9) To these is “ reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." (s) “ The smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and “ ever ; and they have no rest day nor night.” (t) " And the devil that deceived them was cast into the 66 lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the « false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and “ night for ever and ever.” (v)
Such, on the one hand, are the delightful, and on
(p) Mark, ix. 43–49.
(2) Luke, xvi. 26.
the other, the tremendous declarations of Scripture. They are so plain and forcible, that it is scarcely credible that any other sentiments than those they inculcate should be cherished by persons who profess to be believers in Christianity. Yet there are some who contend that the soul sleeps, utterly void of sense, consciousness, and activity, from the time of death till the day of judgment; the admission into any degree of happiness. being suspended till that event: and others, who dream of temporal punishments after the time of life is past, who fancy that there is a state of preparation and improvement beyond the term of life, through which bad men will pass, and come out fitted for “ the beatific vision of God.” Both these appear to me to be very great mistakes; though the latter is inconceivably the most dreadful. I shall, therefore, devote a few pages to each of them; beginning with that of the sleep of the soul.
Thought is as essential to mind, as figure is to matter. So that if we can suppose matter to exist without figure, we may suppose mind to exist without thought. “ A real suspension of thought, then, is the destruction “ of the mind; and what might be termed a restoration “ of thought, would, in fact, be the formation of a new 66 mind. If, therefore, at death, the thinking principle 66 should rest, should cease to act, it would at the same “ instant cease to be. Its very existence and character “ depend on its action. And if, at the resurrection, 66 the inspiration of the Almighty should again make "man a living soul, capable of thought, such an act of 66 omnipotence, with respect to mind, would be a new