FUTURE PUNISHMENT NOT ETERNAL LIFE IN MISERY BUT DESTRUCTION.

 

BY HENRY GREW.

 

“Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 

JESUS CHRIST.

 

“All the wicked will he destroy.”-  Ps 145:20.

 

THE various errors existing in the household of faith in reference to revealed truth, evincing our imperfection, the force of prejudice, the efforts of erroneous education, the slothfulness of the mind, and the want of moral courage, are truly lamentable. We honor our Father in heaven and worship him acceptably, only so far as we have right conceptions of his character, his government, and his purposes. He must be worshipped “in spirit and in Truth.” Not in spirit only, but in truth. If we believe that God will reward or punish men contrary to his own truth, we dishonor him, notwithstanding we may, like Peter, intend to show him our sincere regard. As truth and the glory of God are inseparable, it is palpably deceptive to imagine that we glorify him by any opinion of conformable to truth. This every christian will acknowledge. Yet in our researches after truth, we are often biased by our own preconceptions of what is most consistent with the divine perfections and government, and rest in opinions, founded in our own fallible and prejudiced reasoning about what God must do, instead of believing his own declarations of what he will do.

 

In our study of the oracles of divine truth, the adoption of correct principles of interpretation, is of essential importance. Without this our appeal to the word of God may only serve to confirm us in error. The obscurity in which the plainest testimony of divine truth has been enveloped by unwarrantable principles of mystical interpretation, can only be dispelled by explaining the language of the Bible, as we do that of other books. A strict adherence to this obviously correct principle, connected with a humble dependence on the promised spirit of truth, will happily diminish the diversities of views and contentions now existing in the family of the redeemed.

 

The writer would ever duly appreciate the respectful regard, and holy fellowship of his beloved brethren in the Lord. As that regard, and fellowship however, is valuable only so far as it is consistent with truth, he dreads a deviation from its holy principles, far more than any transient humiliation, obloquy which may result from his association with those “eccentric” opposers of the traditions, which make void the doctrines and commandments of the Holy One, who are ever charged with bringing “certain strange things to our ears.”  Ac 17:20.

 

FUTURE PUNISHMENT

 

“MAN giveth up the ghost and where is he?”In vain has human reason exercised its utmost powers to answer this question of deep and thrilling interest to the intelligent mind. Philosophy has speculated and conjectured, but “the world by wisdom knew not God,”or his purposes. The all-absorbing queries, “how can man be just with God?”-what will be my future destiny? have been proposed in vain by the departing agonizing spirit, to the wisest minds unillumined by celestial truth. From that truth the desired information beams forth in characters plain and decisive. “The wages of sin is DEATH, but the gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ our Lord.”“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,”&c.

 

The fountain of life has not been opened by divine love for a rebellious world; its healing streams are flowing free and ample as the fluid which is essential to physical vitality. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”But alas! the same vile spirit of rebellion which has contemptuously resisted the righteous claims of the law of nature, and the revealed precept of perfect love, has displayed more clearly and fully its dire depravity in turning away from him who speaketh from heaven in the most affecting accents of divine compassion and mercy. Our present object is to inquire, with holy reverence, respecting that “sorer punishment”which awaits those, who, by impenitence and unbelief, tread “under foot the Son of God,”and count “the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing.”

 

The testimony of man is that the wicked shall be punished with everlasting existence in misery. The testimony of God is that they shall be punished with everlasting destruction. -  2Th 1:9.

 

Whether the common opinion that all men are immortal is true or false, it must certainly be admitted that it is illogical to infer such an opinion, as some do, from the simple fact of their possessing a rational and intelligent nature. A created being is necessarily dependent on his Creator who is perfectly “able to save and to destroy.”He “only hath Immortality.”  1Ti 6:16. The Son of God himself, who is the first born of every creature, and approximates the nearest to the eternal I AM, declared, “I live by the Father.”

 

Nor is such an opinion any more correctly inferred from the fact that immortality is an object of universal desire. We may as well infer the doctrine of universal salvation from the same premises. Is the desire of possessing an object proof of its actual attainment? Must not the punishment of sin necessarily consist in the loss of something desired, and in the endurance of something dreaded?

 

But what saith the Scriptures? In vain do we search for a single inspired declaration, that man, in the general, is immortal. The contrary is revealed. “Shall MORTAL man be just with God?”  Job 4:17. He is here represented as mortal; without any distinction of body, soul or spirit. It is true, that in the scriptures, the term “mortal body”is used. But it is to be observed that it is used only in reference to the saints to whom eternal life is given by Jesus Christ through faith in his name. If the soul or spirit of man in general, or man in general, is, in a single passage declared to be immortal, then must we indeed conclude that when he is called mortal, his body only is intended. But surely the fact that the body is mortal, is no proof that the soul is immortal. Of the saints it is said “the body is dead ( i.e.,  must die) because of sin, but the spirit is life (why? because it is naturally immortal?) because of righteousness”-i.e., “ the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.”  Ro 3:22. Man’s life, without reference to any distinction between body and spirit, was originally suspended on his obedience. “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely DIE.”There was not indeed an immediate execution of the penalty. All who admit that the death of the body, or punishment of a future state, was intended in the penalty, must admit that the whole of the penalty was not immediately executed. But if God consistently with his word, could postpone the execution of any part of the penalty, he could, if he pleased, postpone the execution of the whole. A man judicially condemned to die, is considered as dead. Thus the Apostle said to his brethren, “the body is dead,  ‘’ i.e.,  condemned to die.

 

The discerning mind, unbiased by human tradition, must perceive that in the sacred oracles, immortality is revealed, not as an object that all possess, or will possess, but as an object to be sought after and obtained by faith and “patient continuance in well doing.”  Ro 2:7. What prophet or apostle “moved by the Holy Spirit,”ever told men that they have immortal souls or deathless spirits?

 

REASONS FOR DISSENTING FROM THE OPINION THAT FUTURE PUNISHMENT WILL CONSIST IN ETERNAL LIFE IN MISERY.

 

1st. Because it is a violation of the penalty which God has annexed to the transgression of his holy law. This penalty is plainly and positively revealed to be, not eternal existence in misery, but DEATH. “In the day thou eatest thereof (i.e.,  of the forbidden fruit) thou shalt surely DIE,”or, “dying, thou shalt DIE.”  Ge 2:17. “The soul that sinneth it shall DIE.”-  Eze 18:4. “The wages of sin is DEATH.”  Ro 6:23. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth DEATH.”  Jas 1:15. “They that commit such things are worthy of DEATH.”  Ro 1:32. “Why will ye die?”  Eze 18:31. “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from DEATH.”  Jas 5:20. “There is a sin unto DEATH.”  1Jo 5:16. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the lake of fire.”  Re 20:15. “This is the SECOND DEATH;”v. 14. terminating existence forever, for there is no revelation of any revival therefrom.

 

The affixing of the term spiritual to the term death, as the penalty of the law, is confounding the penalty with the crime. Spiritual death is to be “dead in trespasses and sins.”This is the sinner’s guilt,  and distinct from the penalty. To say that the wages of sin is spiritual death, is to say that the wages of sin is sin. Who ever hears of the penalty of a law being expressed in figurative language?

 

2 Because God has plainly declared that “all the wicked will he destroy.”  Ps 145:20. That they “shall be punished, (not with immortal woe, but) with everlasting destruction,”etc.,  2Th 1:9. That they are “fitted to DESTRUCTION,”  Ro 9:22. That their way “leadeth to destruction:”  Mt 7:13. That they are “cast down into destruction;”  Ps 73:17. and that their “END is destruction;”  Php 3:13. For “they shall be destroyed forever.”  Ps 92:7. See also  1Co 3:17, Re 11:18, Pr 1:27 ., etc.

 

3. Because Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness of the Truth, plainly defines this destruction to be, not a destruction of happiness merely, but, a destruction of SOUL. and BODY, in hell. (gehenna)  Mt 10:28. The passages quoted, declare that the wicked themselves (and not merely something pertaining to them) shall be destroyed.

 

WHAT IS THE PENALTY OF THE LAW

 

What is the penalty of the law? Not life in misery,  but death. “The wages of sin is DEATH.”  Ro 6:23. “The soul that sinneth is shall DIE.”  Eze 18:4. “Sin when it is FINISHED, bringeth forth DEATH.”  Jas 1:15. “They that commit such things are worthy of ‘DEATH.”’  Ro 1:32. “Why will ye DIE?”  Eze 18:31. “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from DEATH.”  Jas 5:20. “There is a sin unto DEATH.”  1Jo 5:16. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”  Re 20:12. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  Re 20:15 verse. “This is the SECOND DEATH.”  Re 20:14. Will it be said that all these expressions of death are figurative? How figurative? Of what is the second death figurative? Is the first death figurative? Let us appeal to Jesus Christ to determine whether the second death is figurative, importing eternal existence in misery; or whether it is literal, importing a destruction of being, both soul and body. “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to DESTROY both soul and body in hell.”  Mt 10:28. Nor is this a solitary testimony. Paul solemnly assured the Philippians that the “END”of the wicked is “DESTRUCTION.”Here is double testimony against the common opinion, which supposes they will have no end. “What if God willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to DESTRUCTION?”  Ro 9:22. When all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be DESTROYED FOREVER.  Ps 92:7. If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God DESTROY.  1Co 3:17. I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their END, surely thou didst set them in slippery places, thou castedst them down into DESTRUCTION.”  Ps 73:17,18. “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to DESTRUCTION,”&c.  Mt 7:13. Other passages reveal the same truth.  Re 11:18;  Ps 145:20;  Pr 1:27, &c. Indeed the scriptures plainly define “everlasting punishment,” into which the wicked will certainly go, to be, not eternal existence in misery, but “ everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.”  2Th 1:9. How forcible is all this testimony!

 

In those passages which exhibit in contrast,  the affecting retributions of a future state, there is a remarkable uniformity in setting in opposition,  not happy and miserable eternal life or existence;  but life and death, &c.”“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life,” &c. “He that hath the son hath life;  and he that hath not the Son of God,  hath not life.”“ If ye live after the flesh ye shall die;  but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”“ Strait is the gate,”&c.,”which leadeth unto life.” “ Wide is the gate,”&c., “which leadeth to destruction.”“ For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved,  and in them that PERISH, to the one we are the savor of death unto death;  and to the other the savor of life unto life.”“ he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap (what? immortal woe?) corruption;  but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.”“ And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition,  but to you of salvation,  and that of God.”“There is one lawgiver who is able to save, and to destroy.” The wicked are “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,” the righteous “vessels of mercy-prepared unto glory.”“ The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.”

 

How plainly do these passages teach, that the final destinies of men, are not eternal, happy and miserable life,  but life and death-life and destruction-salvation and perishing-life everlasting and corruption-salvation and perdition,  or being lost-glory and destruction. In  Mt 25:46,  life eternal is opposed to everlasting punishment,  but the term everlasting punishment does not necessarily imply everlasting existence, nor is this the Bible definition of everlasting punishment. The positive declaration is, that it consists in “everlasting destruction.”  2Th 1:9, which is literally everlasting punishment. There will be no restoration to life and felicity.

 

In  Joh 5:29, the “resurrection of life”is contrasted with the “resurrection of damnation,” i.e.,  condemnation. In  Ro 2:6-10, it is contrasted with “tribulation and anguish.”But as the second death is preceded by condemnation and torment, and neither of these imply endless existence, these passages, in their most obvious import, are perfectly reconcilable with the idea of final destruction.

 

It is an argument of magnitude against the popular opinion on this solemn subject, that numerous and varied terms used in the Bible to express future punishment, are, in their obvious import, opposed to life in any condition. Death. The second death. Destruction. Perdition. Perish. Lost. Coming to an end. The figurative passages import the same. “He will BURN UP the chaff with unquenchable fire.”If the fire, which the husbandman puts to the chaff for the purpose of entirely destroying it, is quenched, the chaff may be partly saved. If it “shall not be quenched,”it continues until it is expended by the utter destruction of the chaff. “Their worm dieth not.”If the worm dieth, “the carcasses”(see  Isa 66:24) are not entirely devoured; if their worm dieth not,”they are wholly destroyed. What unbiased mind does not perceive that our Lord, by using these similitude’s, designed to impress the minds of his disciples with the fearful truth that a destruction of being-of “body and soul,” will be the sure portion of all who prefer their own carnal gratification, to the service and joy of the kingdom of God?

 

 Re 14:11-19:3, 20:10. In these passages, the term forever, is connected with the torment of the wicked, and if this term is never used to express limited duration, these passages are opposed to the numerous varied and plain divine declarations of the entire destruction of the ungodly. But is this a fact? Certainly not. It is admitted, that if the plain testimony of the Bible does not contradict the literal import of the term forever, as applied to the torment of the wicked, we ought to understand it in its literal import, as we do when it is applied to the happiness of the righteous. But if the terms, forever, and forever and ever, which are literally synonymous, are often used to express limited duration; and the general testimony of scripture in respect to future punishment, plainly imports destruction, it is a violation to the just rule of interpretation, to understand the passages referred to, in their literal import. Now I affirm that these two facts are susceptible of clear proof. {[1]} After finding the term everlasting or forever, applied to the covenant of circumcision,  Ge 17:13 -to the Jewish possession of the land of Canaan,  Ge 17:8 -to a written record of the prophet,  Isa 30:8 -to the continuance of the present earth,  Ec 1:4 -and even to Jonah’s three days entombment in the fish,  Jon 2:6 -is it astonishing to find it applied to the duration of the suffering of the wicked, which may be a long period prior to their final destruction?

 

Their doom will be inconceivably dreadful; the precise duration of their suffering is not revealed. Of the fire in the land of Idumea, caused by the judgment of God against his enemies in the present state, it is written, “it shall not be quenched night nor day, the smoke thereof shall go up forever.”  Isa 34:10. So the testimony respecting Sodom, &c., “Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,”may be considered as referring to the entire destruction of those cities, by which they were “set forth for an example” to the world, of the fearful consequences of disobedience. But if not, the term eternal may be used in a limited sense, as the original word is in many places. In this limited sense the term “everlasting fire”must be understood, in our Lord’s declaration, “it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire.”Here, being cast into everlasting fire is set in opposition to entering into life. But if the sinner is to live forever in this fire, he enters into life as much as if he should enter paradise. Eternal life is his portion in either case, though the quality of it is vastly different. “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life,  but the wrath of God abideth on him.”If it abideth on him to utter destruction,  he shall not see eternal life, otherwise he will. It is said that “no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him:”but if the murderer has an immortal soul abiding in him, he has eternal life abiding in him as certainly as the holiest saint on earth, only of a different kind. The scriptural terms “everlasting fire,”“unquenchable fire,”import a fire which shall utterly destroy. No other construction of these terms, can be reconciled with the divine testimony-with the penalty of the law, which is DEATH-with the definition of the sinner’s punishment, as consisting in “everlasting destruction;”or with our Lord’s instruction, that this destruction is not a destruction of happiness,  but of body and soul.

 

Some affirm that when the term forever, is applied to things of the present state,  it is to be understood in a limited sense, but that when it is applied to things pertaining to a future state,  it is to be understood in its literal import. Let us test this argument. Does not all its force rest upon the principle, that things in a future state are necessarily endless? Is this principle true? Certainly not. It is no more true that every thing which succeeds the present state shall necessarily have no end, then it is true that all things which preceded it had necessarily no beginning; of course, Our Heavenly Father excepted! We know that other beings began to exist before the present state. Nor is there any thing in the nature of things, which proves that dependent beings may not cease to exist after it. All depends on the will of God. If the general tenor of scripture testimony respecting future punishment, is in favor of a destruction of being, this argument, and all others must fall before it.

 

Some suppose that by the destruction of the wicked, is intended the destruction of their sins;  others, the destruction of their happiness. The destruction of sin-of happiness-of being, are entirely distinct ideas; each is susceptible of definite intelligent expression by appropriate language. How could our Lord express the latter idea more definitely, than he has in  Mt 10:28? “Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” If this passage, which is so particular and definite, is considered in connection with  2Th 1:9  Ps 92:7  Ps 73:17, &c., is it possible for an unbiased mind to reject the import advocated? The doctrine is taught in both testaments.

 

Another argument is offered to the consideration of such as desire emancipation from the mental slavery of human systems, in the fact, that, in the scriptures of truth,  no qualifying adjectives are ever affixed to the terms eternal life and immortality,  denoting different kinds of eternal life or immortality.

 

Simple immortality-simple eternal life, is invariably represented as a blessing. If the common opinion is the truth, it would have been as necessary for the inspired writers, as it is for modern preachers, to make a distinction between a blessed and a cursed immortality. The effects of sin and grace are not miserable and happy eternal life; but death and eternal life. “The wages of sin is death,  but the gift of God is eternal life,  through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

It deserves the serious consideration of every one, who trembles at the thought of bearing false witness for God, whether the occurrence of the term forever, &c., in connection with the actual torment of the wicked, in a very few passages, can justify us in rejecting the obvious sense of all those numerous divine declarations, which plainly teach in various terms the purpose of the Almighty, that “all the wicked will he destroy?”  Ps 145:20. Which, we ask: is most accordant with correct rules of interpretation, to insist upon the literal import of the term forever, (often used to express a limited duration), and give a figurative construction to the terms death, second death, destruction, perdition, lost, coming to an end, &c.; or to admit the obvious import of these terms, and of our Lord’s instruction, that the wicked are to be destroyed body and soul, and understand the term forever, in a few passages, (in some of which it is connected with day and night, ) in a limited sense?

 

The affixing of the term spiritual to the term death, as the penalty of the law, is confounding the penalty with the crime. Spiritual death is to be “dead in trespasses and sins.” This is the sinner’s guilt,  and distinct from the penalty. To say that the wages of sin is spiritual death, is to say that the wages of sin is sin.

 

The proper import of the term death is the cessation of life, or conscious being. Its import is the same whether applied to the body or spirit. Death is the opposite of life. Like other words it is sometimes used in a figurative, or metaphorical sense. The spirit may die or cease to exist, as may the body. On the all sustaining arm of the Infinite all his creatures are dependent for life, and all things.

 

Although great caution is to be observed in reasoning concerning what is, and what is not, consistent with the perfections of Him who “holdeth back the face of his throne and spreadeth his cloud upon it,”we may with holy admiration trace the harmony existing between his revealed perfections and his revealed purposes. Let it now be candidly considered whether the entire destruction of the sinner, subsequent to such degrees of torment as the degree of his guilt shall require, is not far more consistent with the revealed character of our Father in heaven, than the doctrine of interminable miserable existence. The supposition that God will hold his enemies in endless miserable existence, simply because he is able to do it, is an impeachment of his character which will not be advocated. God’s power is ever regulated by his benevolence and justice. It is argued that sin is an infinite evil, and requires an infinite punishment. To prove that this principle furnishes no argument against the plain construction given in these pages to the divine declaration, “the wages ( i.e.,  the desert) of sin is death;” it is sufficient to remark, that it is as evident that the everlasting destruction of a finite being, capable of the eternal knowledge and enjoyment of the Infinite, is an infinite punishment;  as it is that rebellion against the Infinite, by a finite being is an infinite evil.

 

God will punish no more than justice requires. Such is his compassion and benevolence he does this only from moral necessity. The voice of infinite love expostulates with the most incorrigible “why will ye die?” Will divine justice be dishonored-will holy intelligences discern any connivance at iniquity-any violation of law-when the righteous Judge of all, after having apportioned different degrees of bodily and mental misery to the wicked according to their degrees of guilt, shall destroy “body and soul for ever?”Because this is not so terrible as interminable miserable existence, does it present an inadequate motive for repentance or diminish the proper restraints of sin? Is a father to be charged with presenting his disobedient child with the greatest motive, because he does not threaten him with the greatest evil he can possibly inflict? Will you charge Legislatures with not properly restraining crime, because they will not consign all criminals to the tortures of the rack during their present existence? What unbiased mind does not perceive a sufficient appeal to the fears of sinful and accountable men, and an adequate motive to all who will act upon rational principles, in the threatening of the loss of all the glory of immortality, and of enduring torments which shall issue in total destruction? If the loss of all those emanations of the wisdom, power, and love of the Infinite, which the sinner will be capacitated eternally to behold and enjoy,  if he will repent,  together with the actual suffering of protracted, unutterable torment of body and mind antecedent to utter destruction, are considerations inadequate to bear on an intelligent mind and induce repentance; will ever the expectation of endless torment be adequate? Is it so in fact? If it is said that although it never is so, without the influence of the Spirit of God; yet it is more likely to be so with that influence, because it is more horrible; I ask reverently is it most likely that the God of truth will honor truth of a lie?

 

The objector proceeds upon a principle which implicates himself if he admits of degrees of punishment; and what is far more serious, he implicates Jesus Christ in the charge of diminishing the proper restraints of sin. The principle is, that the proper restraint to sin is the threatening of the greatest possible punishment. So that when Jesus Christ declared that some should “be beaten with few stripes,” he deprived such persons of the proper restraint of sin! When shall we cease to be wise above what is written? The supposition that the Almighty restrains sins to the utmost of his power is contrary to his word and to fact. Is he to be charged with not properly restraining iniquity, “because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed,”in consequence of which, “the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil?”or because he does not convert all men to holiness? or because he does not immediately destroy the incorrigible. God is not man that he should be the victim of caprice, or passion, or power. “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.”  Ps 89:14. In governing his moral universe and awarding destinies, he is regulated, not by his power,  but by his justice and benevolence. All who admit degrees of future punishment, necessarily believe that God will punish millions of men less than he is able to do. After all our reasoning, it is obvious, that sin cannot be more effectually restrained or excluded from the dominions of the Almighty, than by the final destruction of his incorrigible enemies. Our belief exhibits the glorious scene of a perfectly holy and happy universe, without that sacrifice of justice, and without that inadequate expression of God’s displeasure against sin which the doctrine of universal salvation manifestly implies.

 

The scriptural and rational doctrine of degrees of punishment is perfectly reconcilable with final destruction of being, -as it will be preceded by such different degrees of suffering as divine justice shall determine.

 

It has been asked, with more wit than reason, “ Is it possible that God should threaten them (the wicked) with putting an end to their miseries?” We believe no such statement. The object of God’s threatening is not “putting an end to their miseries, “ but to their being,  and consequently to all hope of life and felicity. An end to their conscious misery is indeed necessarily involved in the threatening. So the threatening of a certain term of imprisonment for crime, implies a release at the expiration of such term. But who ever considered such release as any part of the threatening?

 

It is supposed from  Mt 25:41, “that the punishment of wicked men will be the same as that of wicked angels, and that if the devils could persuade themselves that they should be utterly destroyed, they would believe and be at ease rather than tremble.”Let us hear them on this subject. “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us!”  Mr 1:24;  Lu 4:34. If the expectation of destruction would set them “at ease,” why did they cry out, “ Let us alone? Why did they not cry out,  welcome thou destroyer? If their own testimony is to be admitted (and they sometimes spoke the truth) it must be acknowledged that they expect to be both additionally tormented and destroyed.  Mt 8:29;  Mr 1:24. If this testimony is inadmissible, that of an inspired witness must not be rejected. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is,  the devil,” &c.,  Heb 2:14. It is indeed easy to say,  that this means that his works shall be destroyed, but how is it proved? Is it by a single declaration of truth that he shall exist forever? May not his works be destroyed, and himself also? That both will be destroyed appears to be revealed. See  1Jo 3,8  Heb 2:14. By what authority then do we deny either?

 

Prejudice only will affirm that these views have any connection with the error of universal salvation, or imply the least tendency towards such a delusion. If we are chargeable with favoring such a device of the arch adversary, because we deny that God will punish men to the extent of his power, the believer in endless misery, who allows degrees therein, is chargeable with the same. It is no uncommon thing for erring man to pass from one extreme to another. That the preaching of the popular opinion has driven many to the opposite extreme of universal salvation is believed. Whether it is so or not, or whatever doctrine in our fallible opinion is best adapted to restrain or punish sin, the determining question is-what hath God said? What is the chaff to the wheat?

 

If any are disposed to accuse us, because we believe that the “fiery indignation,”which a righteous God has threatened, “shall devour the adversaries;”let them pause, and seriously consider, lest they be found even charging God foolishly.

 

With all this evidence before me, tell me not of “deathless spirits”and “immortal souls” out of “the book of life.” Whosoever is not found there, will be “cast in the lake of fire,”which is the “SECOND DEATH.”Are any of us speculating on this awful subject and withholding our hearts from our Maker? Let us agonize to enter into life. The overwhelming conviction that God, and heaven, and immortality with its inconceivable glories, are lost-ALL, FOREVER LOST, by voluntarily preferring the world to God, will be the bitterest ingredient in the last cup of agony of the expiring soul!

 

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8 Voice of Warning, 24 pages, $3 per. 100, 5 cents single.

 

9. The Great Controversy, (nearly ready) -pages, $ per 100, cts. single.

 

10.Voice of the Church, 400 pages; bound $1.

 

All the above can be obtained Wholesale and Retail of H. L. HASTINGS, Peace Dale, R. I. Also of W. Pratt, Windsor, Conn.; H. H Dickinson, Hartford, Conn.; G. T. Adams, 167 Hanover street, Boston; Dr. C. O. Towne, 159 High st., Providence; Ira Hartwell, Lowell, Mass.; R. E. Ladd, Springfield, Mass.; Dr. S. P. Hubbard, Chicoppe, Mass.

 

{[1]} Mr. Dwight and Mr. Hawes, have represented that “the terms ‘everlasting,’ ‘forever,’ and the like, are uniformly used in the scriptures to denote the longest possible duration, of which the subject to which they are applied is capable.” Reasons, &c., page 18. As if the “everlasting covenant”of circumcision could not possibly be in the flesh of the Jews; or the “:everlasting possession”of the land of Canaan be their habitation to this day! As if the bars of the earth encompassing Jonah “forever,”could not possibly have been a longer period than three days!