« PreviousContinue »
be capable of suffering much more misery in the future than in the present state.
Q. 6. Will there be diffèrent degrees of punishment inflicted upon the wicked hereafter ?
A. There will. Some will endure more misery than others, though all will be punished eternally This idea may be thus illustrated ; two cords may extend around the earth, yet one be twice as large in diameter as the other; two persons may be afflicted with the same malady during the same length of time, yet one suffer thrice the distress of the other. Punishment in eternity will be according to the number, magnitude, and aggravation of offences committed in this state of existence. (d)
Q. 7. Is the future misery of the wicked bodily, or mental, or both ?
A. It is both. As the body and soul constitute the person that sinned in this life, so they both will constitute the person that will suffer in the life-to come, after the separate state closes, though before this time the soul only will suffer. The representations of Scripture on this subject, though they should be considered figurative, seem to convey the idea of corporeal punishment. And it is reasonable to conclude there will be bodily sufferings, because the soul cannot suffer greatly without affecting the body, and the finally impenitent will be completely miserable. But bodily distress will not be the principal punishment of the wicked. Mental sufferings will chiefly constitute their misery. These will arise from various sources, viz. 1. Clear convictions of sin, guilt, and ill desert; 2. Recollection of the kind admonitions and remonstrances of God, of His ministers and people, and that salvation was once within their reach, but now, by their neglect, is removed to
(d) 2 Cor. v. 10. For we must all appear before the judge ment-seat-of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.- Rev. xx. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.-Rom. ii. 6. Who will render to overy man according to his deeds.
an infinite distance from them, and that they must dwell forever in utter despair; 3. Raging desires of ease and pleasure never gratified ; 4. Association with the devil and his angels, and all wicked and impenitent men, who will torment one another; 5. The knowledge that God overrules their sin and misery for the good of His friends; 6. Banishment from the favorable presence of God; 7. A view of the righteous in exquisite happiness; and, 8. The sinfulness and maliguity of their own hearts. These will constitute a hell within them, and lay a foundation for wretchedness without intermission, abatement, or end. (e)
(e) Matt. xxv.41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.-Matt. xii. 30.40, 41, 42, 49,50. Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest, I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn ihem ; but gather the wheat into my barn. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. So shall it be at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.-Rev. xix. 20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worship ped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.--Rev. xx. 10. 14, 15. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.—Rev. xxi. 8. But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.-Rev. xiv. 10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.--Matt. üi. 12. Whose fan is in his hand, and
Q. 8. Is hell a place, or a state merely?
A. It is a place. It is thus represented in the Scriptures. There is the same reason for believing hell to be local, that there is for believing heaven to be local.
Q. 9. What is the effect of believing the doctrine of universal salvation ?
A. It leads to the neglect of true religion, to ease in impenitence, to encouragement in iinmorality and sin. Nothing in universalism is calculated to restrain men from vicious conduct, and make them virtuous and happy; whereas the opposite doctrine has directly the contrary effect. The truth of a religious doctrine may be ascertained, in part, by its moral tendency. If its tendency be good, the doctrine is true; if its tendency be bad, the doctrine is false. But the tendency of the doctrine of universal salvation is bad; the doctrine, therefore, must be false.
Q. 10. Why do any of mankind embrace the doctrine of universal salvation ?
A. Not because there is evidence that it is true, for there is none; but because it permits indulgence in sin with impunity, and because the thought of suffering eternal misery is terrific and distressing:
Q. 11. Can God be good, though the wicked should be miserable in the future world?
A. He can. God is good, though misery exists
he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.Mark ix. 43, 44. And if ihy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.—Is. xxxiii. 14. The sinners in Zion are afraid ; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings ?—Ps. xi. 6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup.—2 Thess. i. 9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.- Dan. xii. 2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and soine to shame and everlasting contempt.
here. Why then may He not be good, though misery should exist hereafter. Indeed, goodness obliges Him to exercise His punitive justice towards the wicked, for this is not only what they deserve, but what the general good of the universe requires.
Q. 12. What would be a legitimate inference from the doctrine of universal salvation in reference to the old world, to Sodom and Gomorrah, and to Judas, from God's treatment of them?
A. The inference would be, that God was a friend to sin, and an enemy to holiness; and for their sins received to heaven the old world by a flood of waters, while Noah, for his righteousness, was doomed to dwell longer in this world of afilictions; that God, for their abominations, took the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, by a storm of fire and brimstone, to the mansions of everlasting blessedness, while Lot, for his piety, had to lead a longer pilgrimage of sorrow; and that God delivered Judas, for his perfidy in betraying his Lord and Master, by his own act of self-murder, from this evil world, and received him to eternal bliss, while the other apostles, for their faithfulness and devotedness to their Master's cause, were left to spend upon the earth years of toil and suffering. The same reasoning would apply to Pharaoh and his host, Korah and his company, Ananias and Sapphira, and many similar instances in the présent day. In view of these considerations, we leave it to those who embrace the doctrine of universal salvation to determine how God's conduct is to be justified.
Q. 13. How ought those who espouse the cause of universal salvation to be treated ?
A. With the greatest kindness—with the most tender concern for their salvation, that if possible they may be led to renounce their error, and embrace the truth as it is in Jesus.
Q. 14. How ought mankind to act in view of the future punishment which awaits the ungodly?
A. They ought immediately to repent of all their sins, believe in Christ, and give all diligence to pre
', pare for death, judgment, and eternity, and thus se
cure their everlasting salvation. (f)
Means of Grace. Q. 1. What is to be understood by the means of grace?
A. Those things which God has appointed to be used for the instruction, conviction, conversion, and sanctification of mankind.
Q. 2. What are the means of grace?
A. The principal means of grace are a preached gospel; reading the Holy Scriptures and other religious books; prayer in public, private, and secret; the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper; religious conversation and meditation ; self-examination; and religious education. (a)
($ ) 2 Pet. ii. 11–14. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt' with fervent heat ? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in
and blameless.—Luke xxi. 33, 34. 36. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life; and so that day come upon you unawares. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of
(a) 1 Cor. i. 18. 21. 23, 24. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks, foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Eph. iv. 11, 12. And he gave some, apostles; and some, proph