Page images


him from the evils of this present | turally and evidently importing, world, he had nothing more to that the one in his life time resuffer. He was removed from all ceived the whole of his portion of evil forever, and placed high above good, all that he was ever to enits reach, in a state of rest and joy, and nothing but torment comfort, joy and happiness with remained for him ; and that the out alloy. Such, so vast and in other likewise received in his life finitely interesting is the difference time all bis evil things, and nobetween the present and the fu- thing more of evil remained for ture state of the wicked, and of him, but unmingled comfort or the righteous. At death, the one happiness ; for the more explicit passes, on a sudden, from all the and unequivocal declaration of comfortable enjoyments and fond this folemn truth, the more deephopes and expectations, which ly to impress it on the mind, and are here experienced, into a state to cut off all hope of relief, or of of as insupportable pain and tor ever passing from the state of misment, as if he was plunged into a ery to the opposite state of happiflaming fire and supported in ex-ness, he added, “ And besides all istence with all his senses in full this, between us and there is vigor, and capable of recollecting a great gulf fixed : so that they and reflecting upon his past life, who would pass from hence to privileges and enjoyments, and you cannot ; neither can they knowing that they are complete pass to us that would come from ly gone forever, whilst the least thence.” alleviation to his present torment The separation between the is utterly unattainable.

righteous and the wicked, the hapThe other is at once removed py and the miserable, in the future from all the evils from all the itate, is fixed, established, so as to fins and sorrows, doubts and fears, render all passing from the one to trials and temptations, afflictions the other utterly impossible. This and sufferings of the present life, is represented by the figure of a and lodged with safety in the great gulf, a vast chasm, over mansions of


and comfort, which no creature can possibly reft and happiness, far above the pass, fixed between their respectreach of every evil forever. Nor ive places of residence. By the is there any room for the latter to unalterable decreę and irreversible fear, that at some future period fentence of God, the line of sepahe may lose his present happiness, ration is fixed and impassable ; so or exchange it for the opposite that if we might suppose any of ftate of torment; or for the other the happy to have such compalto alleviate the anguish of his heart fionate feelings towards their felby the distant hope of passing, at low creatures in torment, as to be some future period, from his pre- willing to go to them to adminissent state of torment to the blessed ter some alleviation to their pains, abodes of the righteous. For it is not in their power to do it. when Abraham had informed the Nor, on the other hand, is it pofa rich man that he had received his fible for those in the place of tor. good things in his life time, and ment, tho they should be ever so Lazarus evil things; but now defirous of it, to pass over to the Lazarus was comforted and he blessed abode of the righteous, to tormented,-in language molt na- partake in their happiness. This Vol. IIL No. 9.


appears to be the instruction moft | The gulf which feparated between directly held forth in the words the two states was fixeda word as tho they had been uttered on very emphatical, in the original, purpose to guard us against the importing unalterably and immor. vain and impious doctrine of pre- ably established. Therefore, to insumptuous men, that the wicked, finuate, surmise, or pretend the after suffering a while in hell, or meaning might be, that for the in purgatory, will be released from prefent the gulf is placed there, their torments, and go over to and renders the paffage impoffible, partake with the righteous in the tho at some future period it may everlasting happiness of heaven. be removed, and a paffable highHowever finners in their life time way eftablished out of hell into may fondly hope or imagine, that heaven, is manifestly to pervert such an event will or may possibly and wres the words of scripture. take place ; yet, when they enter Further : The fcriptures bear the other world, they will find it a uniform teftimony to the fame a vain, presumptuous, delusive truth, in a great variety of ways, imagination, issuing in the horrors and terms and modes of expression, of complete despair.

all moft naturally and clearly imBut how do we know this ?

-porting, and teaching in the moft By the plain declarations of the forcible manner, that the punishword of God, the only medium ment of the wicked will be strin. by which we have any certainly without end. “ When a wickknowledge of a future state and ed man dieth, his expectation shall its important concerns.-But what perish.According to the plain if there is a great gulf fixed be declarations of scripture, when tween heaven and hell, which is fome, who Neep in the duft of the now impaffible ? Abraham did earth, awake to everlasting life, not expressly fay it would always others awake to shame and everbe so : he did not affirm that the lasting contempt.-Hell, into time would never come, when this which the wicked are to be caft, gulf should be reinoved or filled is the fire which never hall be up, and a paflage opened from hell quenched ; where their worm dito heaven. How then do w eth not, and the fire is not quenchknow but that this may yet be the ed. Accordingly, when the rightcafe The whole that Abra eous, after the final fentence of ham is here represented as saying, the supreme Judge, enter into life according to the most plain and eternal, the wicked will go away obvious import of his words, was into everlasting punishment.-It adapted and deligned to teach the had been good for Judas if he rich man in torments, that his had not been born which could case was desperate--that his good not be true if he went to heaven things were all past and gone for at his death, or gets there at any ever

that he was now to look future time, to inherit endless for nothing but unceasing tor- glory and happinefs. There is a ments, without the smallest con fin which never shall be forgiven, ceivable alleviation—that all hope neither in this world, nor in the of getting out of the state of mis world to come. There are some, ery, or paffing from it to the op- to whom the mist of darkness is posite state of happiness, was vain reserved forever to whom is and groundless, for it could not be. reserved the blackness of darkness



forever.—They who know not and not a tittle of it will fail of God, and obey not the gospel, its accomplishment. Heaven and Thall be punished with everlasting earth may pass away, but every destruction. There are some, the declaration of the divine word smoke of whose torment ascendeth will continue eternally true. Eveup forever and ever.-In the lake ry promise will be punctually fulof fire and brimstone, all the final-filled, according to its true and ly wicked and impenitent are to most obvious meaning and import; have their part, which is the se. and every threatening will be in cond death-a death from which like manner fully executed ; and the scriptures no where intimate the future and eternal state of any redemption or deliverance. mankind just such as the ferip. The beast and the false prophet, tures are plainly designed to teach as well as the devil (basanisthe- and declare it shall be. fontai) shall be tormented, in the Here then, let us open our lake of fire and brimstone, day eyes, and look at our situation.and night forever and ever. Rev. The short and, to us, uncertain

period of our present life, is our It is moreover worthy of no- only probationary state for an end. tice, that the scriptures in speak lefs eternity. In this short periing of the future punishment of od our characters will be formed the wicked, no where represent it for endless bliss, or endless designed for their good. They In this life, tho subject to nume. never intimate that it is intended, rous crosses and disappointments, like a wholesome medicine or fal- calamities and afflictions, we ex, utary discipline, to purge and pu- perience many comfortable enjoyrify them, and fit them for future ments, and the sympathy and kind happiness; but they represent it affiftance of numerous friends, as defigned for their perdition And here, under the most trying for their destruction for their circumstances, there is generally utter and endless ruin.

room for hope of an alteration for It is not easy to conceive how the better. Yea, if as yet we the divine teachers of christianity, bear the character, against which and inspired writers of the new the awful denunciations of eternal testament, could well have declar- | wrath are made in the scriptures ed and inculcated the doctrine of of truth, there is still a possibility endless punishment of such as die that our character may be changin their fins, by the language then ed—that we may come to repentin use, in a more clear, explicit, ance, and pass from a state of conunequivocal, determinate and de- demnation to a state of pardon cisive manner than they have done. and acceptance with God, thro To‘their decisions we must render faith in Christ Jefus. an implicit and full belief, or re But the moment our eyes are main in the utmoft uncertainty a closed in death, and our souls quit bout the infinitely important con- their present tabernacle of the bocerns of a future state. For we dy, our preparatory state will be have no certain knowledge re. at a final end. No essential specting them, but what is derive change of character or state will ed from divine revelation. But be any longer poslible. When whether we believe or disbelieve, death hath brought any under its the word of God abideth forever, power, whether they have lived


seventy years or morc, or are cut doctrines of religion, it may down in the meridian or prime of generally useful to profeffors, and life, or in childhood or youth, especially to the churches in the their character and state are fixed new settlements, to have the difor an endless eternity. If they vine rule of church discipline, as die in the Lord, united to Christ taught by our blessed Saviour, in and partakers of his spirit, they the 18th of Matthew, fo explainwill partake with him in the glo- ed as to be easily understood by ry to which he is exalted. But if every well disposed person. For they die out of Christ, whilft dead tho the rule, on the firft reading in trespasses and fins, their state of it, appears to describe a line of will be fixed in hopeless misery. practice not to be mistaken; yet,

In what a critical and alarming when churches have been brought situation is every impenitent Chrift- to act upon it, a diverlity in opiless finner, whether old or young! nion has frequently arisen, conOn what a dreadful precipice doth cerning the real extent and import every such person stand, exposed of the rule ; an unhappy divifion and liable, every moment, to take in the church has been the consethe tremendous leap into the abyss quence, and brotherly love has of misery, from which there will failed of exciting to that perfeverbe no redemption forever! ing watchfulness over every mem

Is it poflible, that rational crea- ber of the church, which is effentures, in this situation, with their tial to the honor of Christ, in the eyes open, should pass a day or an world ; to the respectability of hour, without great and earneft the church ; and to its growth in concern, to obtain or find security real holiness. against falling headlong into com Christ has given the rule, on the plete and interminable misery – principle, that in the moft perfect Whilst there is an opportunity to gospel church, which can beformescape, from which they are con ed on earth, offences will ordinari. ftantly liable to be completely and ly come. Real Christians, at the finally cut off, if they do not im- best, are weak, imperfe& creamediately improve it, how is it tures, exposed to error ; and from possible that they should be so in the remaining lufts of the flesh and fatuated, as to attend to any thing of the eye, the pride of life and else in preference to it?

the infinuating temptations of the ASTHENES. great adversary of souls, to fall into

fin, and pierce with fresh wounds The means for reclaiming a back- the dear Redeemer. siding brother.

ous Son of God, therefore, ia inerMESS'RS EDITORS,

cy to his church, has provided a

remedy, for the recovery of fuch INCE the design of the Con weak, inconfiderate backsliders,

necticut Evangelical Maga- honorable to himself, and peculi. zine, among other useful objects, arly adapted to humble the offendis to explain difficult passages of er, all his days, before God, for scripture, and to afford the Chrif- his fin and folly. This remedy tian church the greatest attainable confifts in the faithful brotherly light respecting the gospel rule of watch of all the members of the practice in church goverament, as church over each other, never fufwell as of faith in the important fering a scandalizing sin to pass, in a

The glori


brother, unreproved. For this fa&tion to his injured name as pubreason, the faithfulness of the lic as the offence hath been church, in dealing with an offend. Whence arises all this backward. ing member, is the highest poffi- ness to save the church from disble act of brotherly kindless it can grace ; the cause of God from show such a person, and is acting contempt ; and the name of the unitedly with the great head of the adorable Redeemer from the scoff. church, in seeking to save that ings of the ungodly, but from which would otherwise be loft. Acarnal pride, hypocrisy, and hardsheep ftraying from the fold into the ened unbelief? Is this religion ? wilderness must be looked up, and Does it exhibit to the world brought back to the fold. “There strong marks of a love to Jesus, is joy in the presence of the an which

many waters cannot gels of God over one finner that quench, nor the floods drown"? repenteth.” How great, then, A love to him as “ strong as must be the joy not only in the death” ? Alas! How far the presence of the angels of God, but reverse is such unwillingness to in the presence of his faints, on glorify his injured name !_Would earth, over the backsliding Chrif-you know how a true saint feels tian, when he repenteth, and hum- and acts when convicted of finning bleth himself before God and the in this manner against an holy world for his sin and folly ; where God ? Read the plaintive he humbly acknowledges the deep moans of the backsliding David, wound he has given the caute of which he wrote with his own the Redeemer, in the world, by hand, and, that he might give falling into fin; and confeffes his energy to the expression, describshame and guilt with those expref- ed in verse, that all who should five marks of penitent forrow of ever hear of the greatness of his heart, which carry with them a fins, might know his consequent conviction that the love of God bitterness of soul for them.* Aill reigns supremely in his heart ! Remember, as king of Israel, he -Perhaps, no one thing has giv had power to destroy the life of en greater strength to the enemies an offending subject ; yet, how of God, in opposing vital religion, meek and humble he was !-How than the neglect of strict church overwhelmed with forrow of discipline, and the great obstina-heart and confusion of face, cy, which is often discovered in when an humble prophet plainly professors, (when proved guilty of told him, “ Thou art the man ! fcandalous fin) against publicly Thou hast done this abominable confefling their guilt and shame wickedness !--Not an angry word before God and his people, in the fell from his lips,—not a frown humble, penitent manner, expres- lowered upon his brow ; but the five of unfeigned love to their in- king of Israel sunk down into the jured Saviour. How can the humble rank of a brother. He love of God be in the heart of the realized the truth of the divine person who is unwilling to do this? proverb, “ Faithful are the wounds How can he be a true friend to of a friend ;” and in the bitterJesus, who, when he knows heness of his soul he exclaimed, has, by finding, given occation to “ I have linned against the Lord." his enemies to blaspheme his holy pame, refuses to make the fatis • Pfal. 38 and si.

« PreviousContinue »