« PreviousContinue »
to pardon, and slow to punish; and that, with the exception of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, such a Mediator is never hinted at.
In answer to this, I would only remark, that the same may be observed with respect to a future judgment, and that mankind were to receive sentence from Christ; that there would be a day of judgment, that a distribution of rewards and punishments would then take place, is uniformly predicted by all the prophets; but they are alike silent, as to the agent by whom this grand event is to be conducted. It was reserved for the brighter light of the New Testament to perfect the discoveries of the Old. In both cases, the fact itself is revealed, while the mode of its accomplishment is doubtless for wise purposes hidden from our view.
What Patriarchs and Prophets failed to predict, has been exhibited in the gospel history with a lustre far exceeding our highest expectations, and with a precision, which strikes our understandings, while it interests our hearts.
5. The future state of the righteous and the wicked will then be determined.
Respecting the awful subject, of the final state of the wicked, I shall say but little. If there had been as much pains taken to avoid
future punishment, as there has been to decide upon its nature and durability, and to settle the full meaning of the words everlasting and eternal, it would have been greatly to the advantage of mankind. I shall merely bring forward one text on each side of the argument, and leave my audience to judge between them.
In support of the durability of future punishments, the words at the close of the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew are adduced; "The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal." The Greek word is the same, though our translators have differently rendered it; and I will say, whatever becomes of the controversy, the expressions used in each case should also have been the same; both should have been translated everlasting, or both eternal.
The passage I shall bring forward on the other side, is from the Epistle of Jude, where, speaking of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is said, they were punished with eternal fire, whereas that fire has been quenched for ages.
The Apostle might mean, by the expression, a remediless fire, one that burnt itself out; as a penalty is called remediless, if it can never be repealed. I wish to leave your
minds perfectly free, and proceed to consider a far more pleasing subject; namely, the blessedness reserved for the righteous. If spared to a succeeding Sabbath, I shall enter more fully into this interesting inquiry, and discuss more particularly their privileges, their employments, and their joys. Scripture uniformly describes their happiness as far exceeding what eye has seen, or ear heard, or even the heart imagined, on earth.
The Book of the Revelations abounds with
passages to this effect. "The righteous,' it is there said, "shall shine as the sun in the temple of their Father." They shall be as pillars to support the fabric. "They shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever.'
How solemn, how impressive, how animating is this prospect! Let our thoughts often dwell upon it; it will cheer us in sorrow, it will direct us amidst perplexities, it will enable us to support with firmness the various trials which may await us; it will be our guide through life, our staff in the dark valley, and our comfort for ever. With pious hope and humble confidence, may we anticipate the solemn period, when, raised from the dust, we shall appear before our Judge, when "he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe."
How different will be the appearance of our Saviour at that august period, when compared with his former circumstances. The gloom and sorrows of Calvary will be exchanged for the splendours of that tribunal from whence sentence is to be passed on an assembled universe. He who once stood arraigned at Pilate's bar, will be exalted to that throne, before which Pilate himself must stand. The robe of mockery will be laid aside, and the garments of real majesty assumed; and the reed, once the feeble emblem of dominion, exchanged for the sceptre which sways the world! Let us frequently meditate on this great and solemn day! Let us endeavour steadily to walk in his footsteps, obey his precepts, and follow his commands while on earth, under the assurance, that we shall then receive the plaudits of an assembled universe; we shall be greeted by angels, welcomed by our Saviour, presented to God; "Father, here am I, and the children which thou hast given me." Amen.
Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. MATTHEW Xiii. 43.
THE subject of immortality and a future state is one of those upon which the mind of man can never tire; it is of such universal interest, of such general importance, of such extensive concern, that discussions upon this subject, however frequent, and however familiar, cannot fail of being listened to with the most anxious solicitude.
Called by an unknown correspondent to deliver my opinion upon the subject of a future state, (as well as to clear some doubts which appear to have existed in the mind of