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Num. XXXVII.

Luke xiii. 27, 28. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. See Num. VIII. IX. XX.

This doctrine of the final exclusion of the wicked runs uniformly throughout the New Testament.

Num. XXXVIII.

Luke xiv. 34, 35. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

If the meaning of these words be, that men may become in a moral sense what salt that hath lost its savour is, in a natural; they are a clear proof of the utter moral incapacity of the wicked to grow better: on which, as I conceive, the doctrine of their eternal punishment all along proceeds. And compared with Matt. v. 13. they teach us, that when the disciples of Christ thus degenerate, they especially become worthless, and thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out.

Num. XXXIX.

Luke xvi. from ver. 23. to ver. 31. inclusive. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham .afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tor

mented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The plain instruction that arises from this parable appears to me to be this; that our fate in another life depends upon our conduct in this; and that there is no alteration of the future state, as to the nature and kind of it; but, be our portion happiness or misery, it is what we must abide by; there is no passing from the one to the other. The rich man's requests, in his own behalf, and in behalf of his brethren, are equally rejected. With regard to the first, he is reminded, that he had received his good things already; which was in effect reminding him (since there could be no sin in the bare receiving them) of his abuse of them. And besides, there was an obstacle in the very nature of the thing, which rendered his request impossible to be complied with. And as to his other request, in behalf of his five brethren, he is given to understand, that they have the proper means of instruction in their hands, the writings of Moses and the prophets, which they ought to attend to and obey. And that, if they would not, a messenger from the dead would, as to the purposes of real conversion, be equally use

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less and ineffectual. All this seems to me to imply very strongly, that our fortunes are now depending; that this life is our probation; is furnished with means sufficient for that purpose; and that, if these be neglected, there is no other resource which will serve as well, or be of any avail hereafter. This is the light in which the parable always appeared to me; and in which it does still, notwithstanding the colours with which Mr. W. has endeavoured to disguise it. The rich man being only in hades, not in gehenna," his torment," Mr. W. says, "was only "medicinal, and designed for his conversion and sal"vation." But whence does this consequence appear? the rich man himself seems to know nothing of this design of his punishment. Nor does the be nevolent patriarch Abraham give him any intimation of this kind; though it would probably have been a greater comfort and relief to him than a drop of water to cool his tongue. But the "circum"stances of the rich man," Mr. W. says, " agree with "his being in hades, in order to his amendment. In"corrigible sinners are always represented as in pri"son, in hades, and close confined there till the day " of judgment, without any positive torments inflict"ed on them there: whereas, he is represented as "out of prison, and in great torment." That the rich man is represented as in hades, I grant; but I still see no proof of the consequence, that this punishment was in order to his amendment. Supposing that incorrigible sinners are in prison, is not he in prison? No; Mr. W. says, " he is represented as "out of prison." But where, or what is this representation? Does his holding a dialogue with Abra

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ham imply that he is not close confined? he seems to think that he is, and therefore would send Lazarus on his errands. And he speaks of this fame, and of this place of torment, as a man naturally would do that was confined to them. But here Mr. W. again takes his advantage: "He is represented in great torment, whereas incorrigible sinners have no positive torments inflicted on them in hades." Incorrigible sinners are represented by him upon other occasions in a very "doleful condition in hades":" and that is enough for our purpose. For the parable says nothing about the torments being positive or not positive; and there is no manner of necessity to interpret the flame, in which he says he is tormented, of a literal and real fire. By the same rule we must take all the rest literally; and then Abraham, in the separate state, must have a bosom; Lazarus must literally lay his head in it, and have a finger too to dip in real water; and the rich man himself have eyes and a tongue. But Mr. W. observes further, that "Abraham does not treat him as a damned "wretch that deserved no compassion or answer, "but calls him son," &c. Now we know so little of the manner how separate spirits, good and evil, treat one another, and can infer with so little certainty any thing from it, that this argument perhaps might safely enough be left to Mr. W. to make his best of it: Et valeat, quantum valere potest. However, we may recollect, that it was no part of Abraham's business either to judge or condemn him; and since the very nature and design of the parable required that he should discourse with him, it is more suitable to Abraham's character, as well as to our

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Lord's who spake the parable, that it should be conducted with decency and decorum, than that Abraham should treat him as a "damned wretch," how much soever he might deserve it. As to his having been an infidel, or sadducee, in his lifetime, I cannot admit that for any great extenuation of his guilt, though it seems to be suggested to this purpose. “In "all likelihood he had disbelieved all that was said by the pharisees and Essenes out of the Old Testament, concerning the rewards and punishments of "the future world." Any one may see for what purpose the pharisees and Essenes are brought upon the stage; only to alleviate his crime, as if it consisted in disbelieving only their doctrine, or something that they taught, with or without reason, out of the Old Testament. Whereas the truth is, if there be any truth at all in the fact", he had disbelieved that prime article of all religion, the rewards and punishments of another life; a doctrine so independant of all authority of pharisees and Essenes, that no religion ever did, or ever can, subsist without it; and

n Which probably there is not. For though Mr. W. says that "the rich man in all likelihood had been a sadducee," it rather appears that he had been a pharisee. Our Lord had been persuading his hearers to pursue and prefer the true riches, and told them that they could not serve God and mammon. The pharisees, who were rich and covetous, heard these things, and derided him. Our Saviour severely reproves them, verse 15; and intimating to them that their law and external kind of religion, which they valued themselves so much upon, was just expiring, and to be succeeded by one of greater purity and perfection, he then immediately adds the parable; in which the rich man is not accused of infidelity, (for the persons against whom it was designed were all believers,) but of luxury and uncharitableness; and his brethren are to be persuaded not to believe, but to repent.

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