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God, produces not only mental and bodily anguish here, but more horrid sufferings hereafter. On what principle of prudence then, is sin so often treated as a harmless gaiety or a pardonable weakness. It seems strange, if they believe their own creed, that those who admit the temporary punishment of the wicked, are not startled at this reflected picture of human depravity. But perhaps the spirit of unbelief which causes them to doubt the doctrine of eternal punishment, impairs the force of conviction, in respect to a temporary infliction. However this may be, there is no surer inference from our doctrine than the inexpressible odiousness of sin.
4. Too great efforts and sacrifices to rescue men from perdition, cannot be made. The alarm of the awakened sinner, the intense anxiety of one pleading for pardon, the urgent entreaties of friends, the affectionate warnings and persuasive eloquence of the pulpit, feebly express the value of the soul. It is a theme, which should engross every mind; it should draw to itself the resources of Christendom, fill the coffers of every evangelical society, send the missionaries of the cross throughout the world, give the bible to every family, re
form the press, impart to the pulpit new weight and unction, break up every intemperate habit, render solitary every haunt of vice, it should make the world solemn and produce the universal enquiry ;-“what shall I do to be saved.” All this is true, were the wicked eventually to be reprieved. And is religious solicitude useless and superstitious? Is the believer in eternal punishment the only person, who acts inconsistently, while he lives in the neglect of duty ? Is there not something peculiarly astonishing in the well known stupidity of the restorationist? Can he be sincere in professing to believe, that the wicked will suffer for most excruciating torments, and yet manifest such cold indifference to their spiritual wel. fare? He accuses believers in eternal punishment of insincerity, because their solicitude for the wicked is not always uniform, nor ever adequate to the interest involved. Yet when did he ever manifest compassion for those who, according to his own admission, are to perish for ages
But I forbear; so awful a subject must not be treated like a question between man and man. Yet
let not Christians be reproached for the anxiety which they do feel and manifest in behalf of the soul, for feelings deeper than other hearts experience, for efforts which afford true religion a place on earth, and which will ultimately extend it throughout the world.
THE GRADATIONS OF FUTURE PUNISHMENT.
LUKE xii. 47, 48.
And that servant, which knew his Lord's will,
and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will
, shall be benten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.
Divines have not always been careful to give a proper representation of the difference, which the various wickedness of lost men will occasion, in the intensity of their sufferings. All are described in some sermons, as sharing equally in the shame and anguish of despair. The consequence has been an entire denial of the doctrine of future punishment, as too horrible for human belief. The object of the present lecture is to exhibit the
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subject, as far as ability serves me, in its true light, that such unreasonable prejudices may be removed.
God is able to make the conditions of the wicked in the next life, very various, and far more unlike than the extremes of misery endured on earth. In the exercise of this prerogative, He expressly declares, that there shall be an impartial distribution of justice. “Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.” must all appear before the judgment 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.” “ But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself, wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds." “ But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” “ To whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more.” The text is also explicit on this subject. It is a direct assertion, that those who sin against the clearest light and best opportunities of knowing the divine will,