Abbildungen der Seite

pleasure in unrighteousness; and when they no longer have pleasure, in unrighteousness, they will no longer be damned.

Stranger. Suffer me, dear Sir, to ask when will this blessed period arrive?

M. God himself hath answered this question, in due time.

Stranger. From me the veil is removed, conviction is forced upon my soul, and I wonder and adore. But still the objector will repeat, are mankind brought into a state of felicity whether they will or not?

M. To such objectors I would meekly reiterate my answer : Pray, I would say, have the goodness to attend to what I have to urge. God informs us that man in his fallen state, will not come unto him that they may have life. Here we are apprized that the will of the wandering nature is opposed to God; for God assures us that it is his will, all should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved. Now if it be true that God is unchangeable, then it will always be his will that all men should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved. But if man, any man, should remain forever in a state of damnation, consequent upon not coming to the knowledge of the truth, and so be eventually lost ; then our God not obtaining his will must remain eternally unsatisfied, while the adversary of mankind will obtain a most signal victory over the will of his Creator. God wills one thing, the Devil and the unbelieving heart another; one or other of these powers must prevail. Let the worshipper of Omnipotence determine the question.

Stranger. This difficulty is insurmountable.

M. I pity those who would wish to surmount it, or who would style it a difficulty.

Stranger. The world, my dear Sir, are unaccustomed to think ; they will not investigate, they will not determine ; they acknowls edge the subject deserves serious consideration; but they will refer it to a more convenient season. And, in the interin, they accuse you of deep art, of a plausibility, an ingenuity, which can make right wrong, and wrong right.

M. How greatly do such accusers err. The illuminating power dwelleth not in me, Sir, it dwelleth in the divine testimony itself. Were I to occupy the ground my opponents have taken, I should soon be discomfited. A preacher in the city of Philadelphia, undertook to preach against me, and in order to confute me, selected that precious text, “ Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” “Now, my friends," said thc preacher, " I shall undertake to prove he did not take away the sin of the worid !" Had I, Sir, undertook such a task, I should have been embarrassed, distressed, and confounded. I could not set my face against the phalanx eml odied against me, were I not on all sides defended by a “thus saith the Lord.”

Stranger. Alas! alas ! I know not who will support this testimony when you are gone.

M. Nor I, Sir, but I am convinced the God who sent me, is able to send out others, abundantly better qualified to defend his cause. He will not leave himself without a witness.

Stranger. Are you, my dear Sir, never perplexed by doubts?

M. No, Sir, as long as I believe the authority of divine revelation, or the being of a God, or the existence of my soul in a future state, when it shall depart from this body, so long I shall believe, without wavering, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses; so long I shall be firmly persuaded, that it is the will of God all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth, and so long I shall be confident, that the will of God will fully and finally prevail over all opposition, for he ruleth in the armies of heaven, and every where performeth all his pleasure.

Stranger. I bless God on your behalf, my brother: and although convinced for myself, there are many scriptures that I am unable to understand, among which, the conclusion of the 25th of Matthew is most prominent, and, to confess the truth, I find many of your hearers with whom I have conversed, unable to give an idea of that portion of God's word; they seem to shrink from it, or would wil. lingly leap over it.

M. And, Sir, if they did leap over it, they would but imitate their opponents, who are necessitated to evade, or pass over, a great part of the Bible. I regret, however, that any of my hearers should be at a loss for the sense of that very plain passage ; for, give me leave lo assure you, if I were called upon by all the clergy of this continent, to defend by scripture, the gospel of our Saviour, I do not know any single portion of holy writ, which I would prefer to the conclusion of the 25th chapter of Matthew: and, to the honour of the Divine Being be it spoken, I am not obliged to bring it, as the professed advocates for revelation generally do; for the purpose of making a great part of the Bible a palpable falsehood. Thus it is frequently introduced. When we say Jesus is the Saviour of all men, the 25th of Matthew is brought to prove he is not ; when we say he is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, the 25th of Matthew, they exclaim, confutes this idea. When we declare the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, the 25th of Matthew is brought forward, to prove our testimony false. And thus to whatever sentence we produce as a voucher for the sovereign universal grace of God, this redoubtable passage, is supposed to contain an incontrovertible negative. But we have not so learned Christ. We confidently believe the scriptures are all yea and amen to the glory of God, by Him who is the Saviour of the body. We think that this divine passage is so far from militating with any sacred record, that we view it as a glorious confirmation of every consolatory testimony, and this is made plain to our understanding when we consider,

1st. Who are the subjects of the general judgment. 2d. The sentence pronounced upon those subjects.

1st. Who are the subjects of the general judgment? They are two distinct characters of sinners, held up under the figure of sheep and goats. The character of the judge points out his near relation to the sheep. He is described under the figure of a shepherd, whose property the sheep are: and when he shall come in the clouds of heaven with power, (which by the way is the day of his power, of which we just now had occasion to speak,) and great glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall be gathered before him all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, (not one sheep from another,) as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep upon his right hand, but the goats on his left.

It is observable that sheep are every where, throughout the sacred writings, held up as a figure of the fallen human nature. Like sheen they go astray ; our Saviour was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but he saith, he has other sheep, which are not of this fold, and those also, he graciously declares he must bring in. Further, even when they are restored to the true shepherd, and bishop of souls, still ve find them described by the same unvarying figure, they are still sheep, so that it becomes evident there are wandering, and there are restored sheep.

But the sheep are not more certainly considered, by the inspired writers, as figurative of the fallen human nature, than the goat is of the fallen angelic nature. Persons conversant in the Hebrew

[ocr errors]

language, inform us that the Hebrew word, rendered by our translators Devil, is, strictly speaking, goat; and, they add, it was in ancient times supposed that evil spirits presented themselves in the form of goats. Our Saviour, to whom the term angel is frequently applied, and who is emphatically styled the angel of the covenant, uniting the divine and human nature, and offered up for the sins of the people, is, himself, in this expiatory transaction, Leviticus xvi. figured, in reference to his divine nature, by the goat on which the Lord's lot fell; while the scape gout, to whom the restitution of all things, will ultimately return every evil, of every description, is, in the margin of my Bible, denominated Azazel, another title for the adversary of mankind; and this Azazel, we are assured, shall bear these evils, into a land not inhabited.

But, in the great day of decision, he shall say to them on his right hand. “Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter ye into the kingdom prepared for you, from before the foundation of the world.” Yes, indeed, those seated on the right hand were the blessed of the Father, and this from the foundation of the world ; and although wandering, going astray, they had forfeited their right to the kingdom of heaven, for in truth they were deplorably be wildered, every one pursuing his own way, yet at this period, they are brought back by the great shepherd and bishop of souls: for while they were yet sinners they were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and so blessed by the Father, that he gave them his Son, that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed. It was therefore, that while the sheep, all of them, were going astray, the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all. Wherefore ? That we may be all ultimately restored to the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world. These were the nations on the right hand.

But who then are those on the left hand, which the shepherd divideth from the sheep?

Undoubtedly goats ; yes, we repeat, if the human sinners are described by the metaphor sheep, the angelic sinners are described under the metaphor goat. In this metaphor there is great propriety, for as goats are mischievous, driving, and harassing the sheep, so these angels, who kept not their first estate, have always been industriously employed in tormenting the human nature. Until this predicted period, they will continue to intermingle with the individuals of mankind, working in their hearts, and so rendering them children of disobedience.

But at this splendid era, they will be separated one from the other; the sheep from the goat; the man from the Devil ; the evil spirit from the heart in which he worked; every sufferer shall be separated from his body of sin and death : Luke xvii. “ Tavo men shall be in one bed.” Observe, not three. Every person clothed in flesh, is more or less under the dominion of that man of sin, who made the world a wilderness. The redeemed shall be separated from the fallen angel, whose nature our Emmanuel passed by. “ The sheep from the goat; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left."

But the Shepherd addresses himself to one description of sheep, upon his right hand; I say to one description, for he doth not address them all, he speaks of some, and to others. He says to some, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in :

“ Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: 1 was in prison, and ye came unto me." .

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"

And the King shall answer, and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

The least of his brethren were those spoken of; those who were benefited by these charities, who partook the food, whose thirst was slaked, who were covered with the garment ; those who were sick, strangers, and in prison, not those who tendered them consolation. Thus, as I said, he spake to some, and of others. Who were those he spake to, and who were those he spake of?

The Redeemer himself, in his sermon on the mount, answers this question, Matthew v. 19, after many divine precepts, precepts which exhibited the full perfection of his characters, he adds

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

« ZurückWeiter »