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Though it seems hardly necessa- punishment of the wicked will ry to enlarge on this point, yet have the same effect. Thus but it may not be tedious or useless little attention is necessary to to attend to the following speci- show, that the principal scripmen. The Judge of angels and tures, which universalists press men has expressly foretold not into their service, furnish no valonly the general transactions of id argument in support of their the last day, but the very words, scheme. which he himself will speak to By thus exposing some of the the wicked; “ depart from me, arts of universalists, and showye cursed, into everlasting fire, ing, in a few leading points, that prepared for the devil and his their sentiments are contrary to angels';" and has declared what inspired truth, it has been my will actually follow their awful aim, Christian churches, to guard doom ; "they shall go away into you from danger. The imposeverlasting punishment.” Here ing scheme of universalism is Christ is professedly treating the interwoven with degrading appoint in question ; here, conse- prehensions of Jehovah's charquently, we expect the most acter and government; while it clear and certain information. sets up a god, other than the But it is not from this passage, true God, and which wicked men that universalists make conclu would love. Can you approve sions favourable to their system. and countenance such a scheme? This is not one of their texts. Has not its influence always been They resort to those, which pernicious to Christian piety and speak of the benevolence of God, morality? Is not a time of genthe all sufficient atonement of eral impiety and wickedness the Christ, the universality of the time of its easy triumph? From gospel offer, the gracious design its prominent features, from the of the afflictions of the saints, &c. arguments urged in its defence, But what if God is infinitely be- and from the effects which would nevolent? Who will dare to say, naturally flow from its universal that the infinitely benevolent God prevalence, do you not perceive, does not see the endless punish- that it is the offspring of error, ment of the impenitent necessa- an enemy to the true interests of ry to the best interest of the Zion, and poison to the soul? universe, which is the object of Will any of you embrace a sentihis benevolence? What if the ment which freely coalesces with atonement of Christ is all suffi- all the depraved passions, and cient? Who can infer from its which finds a welcome reception allsufficiency, that it will cer- and quiet residence in the heart tainly be received by all? What of impenitence? Will you counif the gospel offer is unlimited ? tenance a doctrine, which diUnlimited offers may be reject- minishes or takes away all the ed, and the blessings involved restraints of divine law, and in them lost. What if the pres- opens the floodgates of irreligion ent afflictions of the saints are and vice ? Let all men vigiintended, and actually operate, as lantly and resolutely shun this salutary discipline? It does not doctrine, which keeps sinners hence follow, that the future from repentance by promising ther life. And as their greatest calming the passions, moderatsafeguard, let them search and ing the desires, disposing to a reverence that sacred book, which cheerful acquiescence in the albrings immortality to light; lotments of Providence, promotwhich presents eternal blessed- ing justice and friendly interness, as the encouragement and course among mankind, and difreward of the holy, and unveils fusing a spirit of universal benevto our view that eternal destruc-' olence towards our fellow creation, which is the certain portion tures, tends greatly to promote of the wicked.
present happiness. Let any per. PASTOR. son, who has paid but a moder
ate attention to what passes with
in his own mind, reflect on the THOUGHTS ON I COR. XV. 19.
period when he was either frel
ted with envy, burning with .". If in this life only we have hope in malice or revenge, inflated with Christ, we
are of all men the most ambition, distracted with worldmiserable."
ly schemes, or chagrined with Tue proposition contained in disappointments, and venting his these words appears, at first spleen, if not directly against view, to be plain and simple ;
God, yet against every person but to ascertain its particular and thing around him, and conmeaning, and application to the trast it with the time when his apostle's argument, has been at- passions were calm, and he felt tended with some difficulty. We that resignation to the divine are surely not to consider the will, that contentment with the apostle as asserting that Chris- allotments of providence, and tian rewards are so coinpletely that spirit of benevolence to all confined to a future life, that his fellow creatures, which genthose, who are his faithful follow- uine religion inspires ; and he ers, are really in a worse situa- will find no difficulty in deter: tion, and enjoy less happiness in mining at which period he was this life, than the rest of man- the most happy. Beside, alkind. This opinion of religion though the outward situation of is frequently entertained by those Christians is sometimes more who are strangers to its power, inelligible than that of other and consequently to its comforts. men, that is by no means the case Religion appears frightful to their universally. We find many perimaginations, a composition of sons of that description, who, gloom and melancholy. But is though they may not be figuring this either the language or feel- on the theatre of the great world, ing of any one, who has tasted are yet in that situation which and seen that the Lord is gra- Agur prayed for, as the most elicious ? Surely not. Nor can we gible of all, i.e. with neither believe that the apostle ever poverty nor riches, but with a meant to inculcate such a senti- competent share of domestic ment. Setting aside future pros- comforts, and exempt from the pects, which, according to the calamities usually attendant on supposition in the text, are cut wicked courses. Exclusive of off, the influence of religion in the superior joys which the
Christian sometimes has in the their Master. But we do not contemplation of the perfections find that the apostle ever conside of God, not only these, but many ers either his own situation o; other considerations might be that of others to be on this ac. mentioned to show that godline 88 count worse on the whole, than hath the promise of the life that that of other men. They had now is, as well as of that which is the peace of God, which passeth to come. While on the oth- all understanding, as well as joy er hand, the vanity which provi unspeakable and full of glory. dence has stamped on all worldly As divine consolations are usual, enjoyments ; the lashes of an ly apportioned to the day and accusing conscience, sufferings the occasion, it is not to be doubt, from the prevalence of malignanted but they usually possessed enpassions, connected with the mis- joyments, which rendered their ery and distress, and even con- present situation more comfortatempt from the world itself, ble than that of their persecuwhich is frequently the conse- tors, or than that of any one, who quence of vice ; painful fears is a stranger to the peace and lest those principles of religion pleasantness of wisdom's ways. should eventually prove true, It is, therefore, still necessary which none has ever been able to search for a different meaning to demonstrate to be false ; all of the passage ; and by compare these things combine to show, ing it with the preceding verses, that the way of transgressors is and with the scope of the apos. hard, even should there be no tle's argument, which was to hereafter. We cannot there. prove the doctrine of the resurfore suppose that the apostle as- rection, the words are not only serts religion to be disadvanta- easily understood, but the argu. geous on the whole, even in this ment is also forcible and conlife. Nor will it come up to the clusive in favour of the apostle's full extent of the meaning of the doctrine. By attending particupassage, to limit it to the apos- Jarly to the chapter we observe, tles and primitive Christians, as that the great argument by which if it asserted that they, who were the apostle proves the resurrec. so severely harassed and perse- tion of the dead, is the resurreccuted were, as it respected their tion of Christ. This fundament. situation and enjoyments in this al article of the Christian faith world, more miserable than other he had before informed us was men. It must be allowed that if attesied by a large number of we confine our views to temporal unexceptionable witnesses, to things alone, we shall find that whom he had appeared, at differChrist's apostles and the primi- ent times, after his resurrection. tive preachers of the gospel But if the dead rise not, then all were exposed to many and grier. this story about the resurrection ous sufferings. They were lia- of Christ, which is pretended.to ble to be killed all the day long, be proved hy so many witnesses, and were ever accounted as sheep is a mere fabrication, and he iş for the slaughter; and many of not risen. But if Christ be 10t them actually lost their lives for risen, then is our preaching vain, their adherence to the cause of and your faith is also vain. Tea, and we are found false witnesses
ous, or dangerous undertaking, of God, because we have testifi- much less persist in it until ed of God, that he raised up death, without some adequate Christ, whom he raised not, if motive, such as wealth, honour $0 be that the dead rise not. or fame here, or the prospect of For if the dead rise not, then is future and eternal rewards in a Christ not raised. And if Christ better world.
But as the apos. be not raised your faith is vain, tles had no encouragement to ex. ye are yet in your sins. Then pect temporal rewards, so, if they also which are fallen asleep what they published concerning in Christ have perished. If then Christ was a fable, they could these things are so, if that gospel neither derive any present, interwhich we have been preaching nal peace of mind from their to you is a fable, and that future proceedings, to console them in state, which we have been lead- their sufferings, nor hope for ing you to expect, nothing better any future reward.
Unless, than a dream, and we are in real, therefore, we suppose the aposity nothing but false witnesses, tles voluntarily to embrace pres. then it follows that, as we can ent pain without any motive, or promise ourselves no temporal any other prospect than eternal rewards for our deception, but misery ; if they believed a future on the other hand, are every day state at all, the testimony they exposed to the most cruel suffer, gave could not be considered as a ings, and as these sufferings can cunningly devised fable. be alleviated by no inward peace The apostles undoubtedly of mind, or consciousness, that knew whether the facts which we are suffering in a good cause, they published, as such, were while we are persisting in the true or not. They knew whethpublication of a deliberate false; er there was such a person as bood, we must be of all men the Jesus of Nazareth ; whether most miserable in this life ; and they lived and conversed with if there is an hereafter, as we can him, and received his instrucpromise ourselves no future re, tions, and were commissioned, ward, but have reason to expect as his disciples. They knew the punishment of the viļest im whether the doctrines they pubpostors for endeavouring to im lished as his, were really his doc, pose such an infamous lie upon trines. They knew all the cirmankind, therefore we must be, cumstances which took place on the whole, of all men the most concerning his death and suffermiserable.
ings, consequently whether what In this view of the subject the they published was true or false. text is plain, and the apostle's ar. They knew whether the miragument forcible, not only in favour cles said to be wrought by him of the precise point which he un- were really wrought or not. dertook to illustrate, viz. the cer. They knew whether what they tainty of a resurrection, but also asserted concerning his resurrecin favour of the truth of the tion was true or false, as whether Christian system in general; for they saw and conversed with him no man in his right mind will freely, and whether they ate and engage in any important, ardu- drank with him after his resur
rection; and they knew whether apostles could not be deceived in they themselves were enabled to their knowledge of the fact of speak with tongues and work Christ's resurrection, which they miracles in his name. Many of related ; so, that they should in the facts related were of a public such a resolute and undaunted nature. Christ's preaching, mir- manner, engage in the cause of acles, sufferings, death, &c. were an impostor, knowing him to be all facts of public notoriety. The such ; one who had not only deaccounts of these facts, which ceived others, but had also de are now on record, were publish-ceived them; that they should ed in the same age, and in the persevere in asserting a known same place in which the transac- falsehood even unto death, know. tions were alleged to have taken ing that they should thereby inplace. They were of such a na- cor the hatred of their own ture that they might have been nation, that bonds and imprisoneasily disproved had they not ments would await them in evebeen true. Others, not strictly ry city, and that they would of a public nature, must have probably suffer not only violent, been perfectly known to the apos, but the most painful and igno: tles. This was the case of the minious deaths, without one conresurrection. He shewed him.
soling reflection,' without the self alive by many infallible signs least self approbation, and with and proofs to all the disciples in out a single ray of hope, derived a body, to numbers of them at from the contemplation of futu. different times, and to above rity ; with no other prospect befive hundred brethren at once. fore them but the gloomy alter. The fact was obvious to their native of annihilation at death, or senses. They not only saw and everlasting misery ; this would conversed with him, but did eat indeed be to make them of all and drink with him, and even pro- men the most miserable. ceeded to handle him to satisfy Thus the apostle's argument themselves that it was a real is not only of peculiar force to body and no apparition. They establish the doctrine of the reswere not disposed credulously to urrection, but also places the admit the fact, but examined it truth of Christianity itself upon with the most critical exactness ; an immoveable basis. The and in their manner of relating Christian religion is either true these facts, there is every indica- and of divine authority, or it is tion of plain sense, and sound un- a forgery invented by men actuderstanding, without any symp- ated by the vilest motives, and toms of an overheated imagina- aiming at the worst of purposes. tion, or of their being under the Indeed no other motive can be influence of enthusiastic impul given for the forgery, than the ses, without any pomp of words most disinterested malevolence, or affected eloquence, but in a even something in direct opposistyle piain, simple, unaffected tion to all the motives, which and dispassionate, the argument ever have been found to influ. of a composed spirit, an evidence ence the conduct of either good irresistible, that they could not or bad men. But to suppose be deceived. As therefore the that the best and most benero