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is fully set in them to do evil.” (Eccles. viii. 11.) Still the writer of this text did not suppose that punishment was deferred until after death ; on the contrary, he positively asserts that the days of the wicked shall not be prolonged ; but the mere circumstance of a delay in the execution of punishment he saw to be of injurious consequence on the hearts of men. How much more so, to tell them that they may possibly escape with entire impunity, how guilty soever they might be? And what must men think of the wisdom and goodness of Jehovah, as our moral governor, if he does indeed deal with us upon principles which himself has declared pernicious ? It is nowise probable that in the above passage there is allusion to a tardiness in the retributions of heaven ; I think that the reference is to human punishments, which are often delayed, (and even omitted altogether,) and men are apt to be emboldened to repeat their transgressions by this delay and uncertainty. In Solomon's time, nothing was known of a judgment after death; it was a settled point with the people of that day, that sooner or later the judgments of heaven overtook the guilty in life; although then, as now, they were apt to be deceived into false conclusions, from the external appearances of prosperity on the part of wicked men, and from the fact that “ there be just men unto whom it happeneth, according to the work of the wicked ;" as if the operations of nature, and the contingent events of life must each moment be interfered with, and shaped to suit the ever-changing moral conditions of mankind ! Christ himself has told us, that God causeth his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth his rain upon the just and the unjust.” But these circumstances do not conflict with the express testimony of the scriptures on the other hand. the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; much more the wicked and the sinner." (Prov. xi. 31.)
The sum of my argument, then, is as follows: 1st. That there is no express nor fairly implied scripture warrant for a general judgment after death. 2d. That on the contrary, all the texts which speak of a judgment, or of judgments in particular, are clearly, (so far as they can be understood,) applicable to time, not to eternity. 3d. Both God the Father, and Christ the Messiah, are expressly and repeatedly represented as exercising the judicial branch of their moral government in the earth. 41h. The
bible (as well as civil history) abounds with instances of divine judgment upon the guilty, both individuals and communities. 5th. Hence I infer that, except the righteous Judge of all the earth tries and punishes the same parties twice for the one cause, that a judgment after death is unnecessary. 6th. It were a mockery also, for the cases to be tried are clearly known to the infinite and omniscient arbiter, in their origin, and consequences, direct and remote; in his mind, therefore, they are prejudged. How vaia, then, and absurd, were the forms of trial under such circumstances ! Finally, if a general judgment, in any form, shall take place after this life, it does not follow that punishment (much less endless punishment) must necessarily be any part of its consequences. It were far more probable-far more in agreement with what is disclosed to us in nature and revelation of the boundlessness of the divine mercy—that the object of such judgment will be to bring the purity and grace of God into greater contrast to our perceptions, with our wickedness and ingratitude ; and thus, whilst at the same time that we shall obtain the deeper conviction of our unworthiness, we shall also be the more constrained to adore that almighty love which shall consent to “cast our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Mic. vii. 19.) We are not without ample bible warrant for this idea of a general judgment and its objects. See amongst other instances to this point the following: “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ : Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation ; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound ; that as sin had reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. v. 16–21.)
I have before observed, that the verb to judge, is most usually employed in the scriptures to express the same thing as the verb
to govern. Christ is considered as the King of the New Testament state, or gospel kingdom; and as such he is represented as exercising the judicial functions of government. His judgment shall last while his reign lasts, and he shall only “reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet;" “then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that hath put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Now it is most strange, on the part of our opponents, that they make the exercise of his judicial authority to begin just where the scriptures make his regal authority to end! And notwithstanding the plain and repeated declarations of the bible, that he “shall execute judgment and justice in the earth,” they will have it that he judges men for their good and evil actions, not in time, but in eternity.
MISCELLANEOUS OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED.
There are two texts of scripture which speak expressly of punishment after death-yea, more, after the resurrection! How will universalism stand before these? The one is Daniel xii. 2. 66 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” The other is St. John v. 28, 29. “ Marvel not at this : for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth ; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” These passages are parallel in their reference and signification. Universalists, I know, attempt to give them a figurative application. But we ought ever to reject figurative expositions of scripture, except expressly warranted by the context, or except a passage be such in its nature as to expressly require a departure from the rules of literal interpretation.
It is granted that the above texts are parallel, bụt this very admission is fatal to the objection ; for Christ has fixed the time of
the event to which they refer, at the period of the overthrow of the Jewish state, and so indeed has the prophet likewise; the entire 12th chapter of Daniel is occupied with predictions relative to this subject. I allege this upon the highest possible authority, viz. that of Jesus Christ. See for proof, Matt. xxiv. 15–21. "The resurrection spoken of by Daniel was to take place when there should be “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time,” when God shonld “have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people”-when “ the daily sacrifice should be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up." But when were these events to happen? They were to happen when the Jewish dispensation was to be brought to a close, and the gospel institution to be set up on its ruins. The Savior's exposition of the prophet, in Matt. xxiv. leaves us no ground for doubt on this head. Thus much as regards the time of this resurrection, which, instead of being at the end of the world, as our opponents think, is past, by nearly eighteen centuries.
Now as to its nature, it were the height of absurdity to suppose it literal, for several reasons. 1st. We have no account in history, sacred or civil, of a literal rising of all men from their graves, at the time of Jerusalem's overthrow, or at any other period. 2d. To understand it literally would involve consequences absurd and contradictory. It would lead to the result that all mankind will at the same time rise to life and to damnation! “They that have done good to the resurrection of life.” Is there a single human being who has not done good ? “ And they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.” Is there a human being who has not done evil ? Take this passage in a strict sense, then, and you have the monstrous conclusion that all shall arise to life and all shall arise to damnation! 3d. A literal rendering of these texts would establish a doctrine at variance with that exhibited by Paul in a set treatise on the resurrection. If men are to arise from their graves in a morally corrupt and dishonored condition, what meant he by saying of our body, “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption—it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory—it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power ?" Say you that he spake this of a part of mankind only? No such thing, sir; on the contrary, he says, “ IN CHRIST shall ALL be made
alive.” (I Cor. xv.) If Paul believed that mankind would consist, in the resurrection, of two classes, moral opposites to each other, here is the place where he would have said so; but he establishes the contrary, for it is utterly impossible to reconcile the popular doctrine concerning the resurrection with the glorious portraiture of that great event which the apostle has here giventhe last enemy vanquished—hades overthrown—all things subdued unto the Father and God all in all.
But another reason, and sufficient of itself for understanding the texts under consideration in a spiritual sense, is, that the immediate connexion of the one in St. John imperiously calls for such an acceptation. Christ, in a verse or two preceding, describes the resurrection referred to as then beginning to take place. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." And through the chapter he speaks of life and condemnation, as a then present consequence of embracing, and of rejecting the gospel. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting
shall not come into condemnation ; but is passed from death unto life.” See also the following verse to the same effect : “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” It is any thing but reasonable to suppose that he should so rapidly pass from the figurative to the literal on the same subject, without apprising his hearers of his change of style. I may remark further, that language quite as strong as either of our texts can be produced, the figurative meaning of which, nevertheless, is too obvious to be denied ; see the following : “ Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Isreal. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live; and I shall place you in your own land : then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.” (Ezekiel