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Heb. vi. 6. has reference to the present world and state, and implies nothing but that there will be another world and state, but saith not one word about their duration. If Heb. x. 26, 27. prove any thing, in favour of Mr. P. it must be by taking it for granted that the fiery indignation there spoken of as DEVOURING, means, by implication, that it shall NOT devour them, but leave them undevoured in everlasting misery. Av L
Luke, ix. 25. mentions the folly any man would be guilty of who, to gain the whole world, should lose himself, or be cast away; but how that implies that such a man shall FIND himself for ever, in hell torments, must be left to Mr, Fuller to ermine. '£ MRI) Mat. xxvi. 24. contains a proverbial saying, which cannot be admitted to determine any thing with certainty. Mark, ix, 43-48. teaches us that the instruments of punishment are never wanting to God, and can never be escaped by man; but implies not that a wicked man shall be kept for ever in existence, to be the subject of their tormenting operations. Luke, xvi. 26. is part of a parable, which, if it can be admitted to prove any thing with certainty, except its moral, only proves that the wicked cannot pass the barrier which separates between their abode and that assigned to the virtuous. In John, iii. 36. it is not said that the wrath of God shall abide on the unbeliever for ever, and that the unbeliever during eternity shall be kept alive for the purpose of sustaining it. John, viii. 21. proves that the enemies of Christ could not follow, him whither he was going; but how does that imply that they shall be kept alive to all eternity in the torments of hell? Phil. iii, 19. talks of the END of wicked inen, and of DESTRUCTION being their END; which is very curious sort of language if it intended to imply that they shall live indestructible in endless misery! And with respect to James, ii 13. how judgment without mercy should imply torments without end, is more than I can tell. It might have made more for Mr. Fuller's doctrine, had the phrase been judgment without justice, Indeed. so far as implication goes, this verse is clean contrary - to Mr. F. for it saith, mercy rejoiceth against judgment." IV. Mr. Fuller would have his Readers esteem all those passages which intimate that a change of heart and a preparedness for heaven are confined to this present life," as conclusive in favour of the doctrine of the eternal existence of the wicked in endless torments.
Granting Mr. F. all that he asks in this fourth argument, it includes nothing respecting the duration of future punishment. We all know, Mr. Editor, that, to all mankind, after death cometh judgment-that judgment will have respect to what has been done in this life-and, as the world will be judged in righteousness, that proportionate punishment or reward will be assigned to each individual: and as the reward or punishment,will be according to the works done in the body, eternal torments, during an eternal existence, cannot, in righteousness, be inflicted on any one. So that, if it be true that the Scriptures assert no change can take place in wicked men, in the state beyond the grave, that cannot, by any means, be admitted as proving Mr. Fuller's doctrine.
* Mr. Fuller refers to Prov. i. 24. but ver. 32. which forms part of the context, expressly saith, "The turning away of the simple shall SLAY them, and the prosperity of fools shall DESTROY them." Must we believe that being slain and destroyed means they shall live for ever in endless misery? Luke, xiii. 24—29. it is said, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth among those who shall be refused admittance into the happy kingdom of God, but it is not said how long their misery is to last. Surely John, xii. 36. by exhorting men to become children of the light, does not prove that the children of darkness shall suffer torment during eternity! Mat. xxv. 5-13. proves the uncertainty of Christ's second coming, and that those who are not virtuous when they die, shall not be admitted at the resurrection into the happy kingdom of God; but it does not prove that those who are excluded, shall live for ever in hell torments. 2 Cor. vi. 1, 2. saith well, that "Now is the day of salvation," but in no respect determines the nature or duration of future punishment. Heb. iii. 7— ——16. is quoted; but I ask whether "not entering into the rest of God," proves an eternal existence in everlasting torments? Heb. xii. 15—17. contains a strong argument for care and watchfulness, and cites the example of Esau, who gave up his birth-right for the sake of gratifying his appetite with a savoury dish; but this does not prove either that Esau, or any of those most like him, shall be kept alive to all eternity in the torments of hell. Rev. xxii. 11. I have already remarked upon, and shewn that it is very far indeed from having any thing to do with the eternal existence of wicked men in hell torments.
These arguments, therefore, do not at all fatisfy me, Mr. Editor, that the doctrine of the eternity of hell torments, in the sense in which Mr. Fuller holds it, is a doctrine of Scripture. I remain,
P. S. As the letter above remarked upon contains the main strength of Mr. Fuller, it will not be necessary for me to trouble you farther; since, if Mr. F.'s Readers are not convinced by what is strongest, they will hardly yield their assent to what is weakest in the argument; I therefore subjoin the following.
Granting to Mr. F. that by answers to av, and that the latter is compounded of, and and may be rendered into English by always being," is not the English term of general application? Must hot, therefore, the meaning depend upon the nature of the event, of object, to which it is applied?
That this must be the case with awv I desire no better authority and testimony, merely human, than Aristotle, and no more of his than MH F. has quoted. From him we learn, that the term in question has the meaning of endless when applied to beings whom" time does not "make old." But, says Aristotle, more ancient Greek writers than myself call the time of each person's life his atov. Why? Is it to affirm that time endless? Na, truly; but because, according to the law's of nature, nothing raskeƐing any man can exist out of the limits of his
Fife. This, I admit, is conclusive; but the conclusion entirely overthrows the argument Mr. F. would found upon the term aœÿ.
ON THE NEW CREATION,
ANSWER TO THE
QUESTIONS OF A SUSSEX FARMER,
AS S fire may be produced by friction; so religious knowledge may be. increased by a communication of ideas.
The subject of this letter, which once appeared extremely intricate to me, has been so clearly opened to my mind, and the discovery has afforded me so much real satisfaction, that I cannot resist the impulse I feel to publish my sentiments (with your permission) to the world, through the means of your valuable Miscellany. But, that I may not occupy too? much room, I shall proceed immediately to the subject, without farther preliminary observation; and for the same reason, shall give references, rather than long quotations.
I had formerly considered that vision of the new creation, recorded in Rev. xxi. and concluding at the former part of the sixth verse with these remarkable words, " And he said unto me, It is done," was the utmost limits of revelation; but was extreinely at a loss how to reconcile with this idea, what follows to the end of the book; till, after the most attentive perusal, and serious consideration of the matter, the difficulty was one day removed, as it were in a moment, by a thought, which flashed immediate conviction on my mind, and placed the whole in a clear and beautiful light before me, and no subsequent considerations have been able to eradicate the impression.
In order to give a connected view of the subject, I shall back to go ch. xix. 11. to the end; where we have a grand description of our Lord Jesus Christ, coming with his saints and angels, to take vengeance on those who had been the oppressors of his church and people, and we are also informed of the consequences that shall attend his coming. We have in ch. xx. first, an account of the binding of Satan for a thousand years; secondly, the beginning and end of the millenial kingdom of Christ, and a blessing pronounced upon those who shall partake of it; thirdly, the loosing of Satan out of his prison, that he may go again into the world, in order to prove those who had, for so long a time, lived happily under the mild and peaceable reign of the Messiah, whether they will remain firm in their allegiance in the hour of temptation: wẹ are also made acquainted with the great success he will meet with in his diabolical attempt; and likewise of the awful destruction, by fire
from heaven, of those who shall league together against Christ and his saints. Fourthly, we are presented with a sublime description of the last-and general judgment; when all Ihose who are not " found written in the book of life, shall be cast into the lake of fire."
Mr. Winchester maintains that this earth will be turned into a lake of fire and brimstone, at the conflagration, (z Peter'ff. 7.) and will be the appointed place of punishment for the wicked; and the learned and ingenious Dr Apthorp, formerly Vicar of this place, was of the same opinion; but his system necessarily led him to consider that, as the final State of the globe; whereas Mr. W.'s comprehends the new creation literally understood, after the earth shall have been purified by fire.
In the former part of ch. xxi. St. John relates the most glorious vision with which he was favoured, viz. the new creation; the happy consequences attending which, are related in the 4th verse. Ver. 5. "He that sat upon the throne said, behold I make all thngs new?" and then commanded the apostle: to write down what he had heard, as well worthy of belief. Ver 6. And he said unto me, it is done." The whole revelation of God, respecting man, is here finished, and we see a chain of events following each other, in the most exact order and regularity. The vision, being thus ended, Jesus Christ next asserts the divinity of his character in the same words, as at the beginning of the book; and then promises the free communications of his spirit to those that thirst after righteousness. Our Blessed Lord, before he parts from his beloved disciple, takes occasion to excite our obedience, by the most glorious promises on the one hand, and the most awful threatenings on the other. The 6th and 7th verses deserve our utmost attention, as they relate to subjects of the highest importance to us. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things." What animating encouragement is this to persevere in the paths of holiness, and to resist the solicitations of sin ! "Shall inherit all things!" be a partaker of the grace of God in this life of the first resurrection, and of the blessings of the millenium, and, finally, of eternal, glory in the kingdom of heaven, and it is added, "I will be his God, and he shall be my son." ¿^ .
The denunciation in the 7th verse is most awful indeed, and well calculated to work upon our fears, if we did but receive it as the word of God, and wete, seriouly concerned for the welfare of our souls. One of the angels which had the seven vials comes to the apostle, and carries him (ver. 9) in spirit to the top of a high mountain, where the holy city, which he had seen in his former vision coming down from God out of heaven, is again represented to him, and a particular description of it is given, from the 11th verse to the end of the chapter. Much has been written to illustrate the meaning of these metaphorical expressions used by, St. John in describing the city; but it is not my intention to enter upon that subject now. I shall therefore keep on to the 24th verse, and endeavour to answer a Sussex Farmer's Questions, proposed p. 236 of your Miscellany, and which, I believe, has not been yet noticed. 9 ide 4 du ili 90.lk,
The first circumstance that, led him into a difficulty, concerning this portion of Scripture, seems to have been this, that he considered all that
which follows the vision of the new creation, as relating to the earth in its renewed state; but I am of opinion that, upon a reconsideration of the subject, he will find his mistake, and perceive that it relates to Jerusalem which is above, (Gal. iv. 26.) and which the apostle had been informed, by a vision, should descend from heaven, when Christ shall come to renew the face of the earth.
I should be glad, Mr. Editor, to know from you, or some of your correspondents skilled in the Greek language, whether it would be doing any violence to the text, to read the former part of the 24th verse thus: And them of the nations which are saved, instead of And the nations of them which are saved. Many instances might be produced from the common translation, of a departure from grammatical precision, by the transposition of words; but I shall mention only one, which occurs in Mat, iii. 5." "Then went out to him Jerusalem," &c. Now, I apprehend, that the idiom of our language requires that it should de read, "Then Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, went out to him," &c. If the above alteration may fairly be admitted, without violence to the sacred text, 66 a Sussex Farmer's" two first questions will be satisfactorily answered. In this view of the subject," them of the nations which are saved," &c. appears to denote the same persons who had been redeemed "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation," ch. v. 9.; and the kings of the earth will include all virtuous princes who have ever reigned; and the glory and honour which they will bring into the city, will consist of their virtuous subjects; the state or period of their existence will be from the creation to the general judgment; and their subjects compréhend the mass of the people in all ages. The gates of the city standing always open, (ver. 25.) may be expressive of the perfect security of that state of happiness, into which the righteous shall enter; or it may further denote that an entrance shall always be open to any in whom the love of sin shall have been destroyed by the torments of the burning lake, and whose past transgressions shall be covered by the perfect righteousness of the dear redeemer, and their names registered in the Lamb's book of life. ig
In answer to his third question, I believe that the "characters, or persons bearing that character," mentioned in the 27th verse, will not be found at all after the new creation, but are the same persons who were cast into the lake of fire at the general judgment; while those whose names were found written in the Lamb's book of life, ascended with their dear Lord and glorified Redeemer, to inhabit the heavenly Jerusalem, and will descend with him again when he shall make all things new," and to wipe away all tears from the eyes of those who had been in forment and affliction. This verse also holds out to us what characters shall NOT enter into the New Jerusalem, and therefore becomes a stimulative to virtue; but will lose much, if not the whole, of its force, if supposed to relate to a period and state of existence of which we can have no rational conception. If we understand (in the succeeding part of the vision, ch. xx.) by the "river of water of life," the influencing graces of the spirit; and by " the leaves of the tree,