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which cannot inherit incorruption are no more. The serpent's days are ended, he has no more dust to eat, he is destroyed and is no more.
If the adversary had an immortal constitution, could exist out of flesh and blood as well as in them, the putting off all flesh and blood, would only demolish one of the enemy's encampments, while it would leave him unbounded space and eternity to occupy, still.
We may now draw to a conclusion, by an attempt to illustrate the following clause of our text; “ And deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
For want of the knowledge of life and immortality, which Jesus has brought to light by his resurrection from the dead, men are perpetually subject to bondage through fear of death. But a belief in the gospel of our blessed Redeemer gives us a complete victory over all such fears. It enters the silent, dark mansion of the dead with a steady clear light which directs us to the bright abodes of immortal life.
The disciples of Jesus, who were favored with positive evidence of the resurrection of the Saviour, were so completely delivered from the bondage of fear, that they never hesitated to publish the doctrine of the resurrection even to the perpetual hazard of their lives.
Such was the persuasion which St. Paul had of the truth of the resurrection, and the glory - of the future world, that he said ; “ I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better." This Apostle built all his hopes of a future existence on the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says ; “ If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain ; ye are yet in your sins.—But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. -For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He further says; 6. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.—And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
In the image of the earthy man we find the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be. We find a law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity to the law of sin. We find all the fruits of the flesh, and all the devil, of which the Apostle speaks in our text, that has the power of death. But in the image of the heavenly man none of these things exist. "No carnal mind, no enmity against God, no law in the members warring against the law of the mind. That flesh and blood which cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and that corruption which cannot inherit incorruption, will exist no more.
The “ whole creation,” thus delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, will realize the fulness of what we now see but in part.
My brethren, how near are these things! but a moment, as it were, separates us from the immortal scenes anticipated by the christian faith. The view of these eternal things and a steady belief in them, are present victory over the powers of the flesh. This is indeed a holy calling, a calling to heavenly-mindedness and heavenly conversation. These thoughts and contemplations are blossoms in the desert, they are pools in parched ground. This doctrine
This doctrine of eternal life is a river in a dry place, the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. - In the world
shall have tribulation. but in me ye shall have peace.
My friends do not reject and refuse this peace, this joy, this consolation, because it is free to all. You do not refuse the light and warmth of the sun because all men have it; why then will you turn your backs on the
grace of Jesus because he is that wisdom which is without partiality ?
Jesus says ;
THE SECOND DEATH.
REVELATION xxi. 8.
Bat the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
This passage is among the number which have been used to prove a state of intolerable misery in the eternal world, and continually recited in those terrific sermons which were designed to awaken the fears, and operate on the timidity of the ignorant.
Our duty leads us to investigate the use which has been made of this passage, to examine the propriety of its common application, and as plainly as possible refute whatever may appear incongruous with the word of God, and the doctrine of his grace. It will likewise be expected, that suitable labor will be directed to discover the true sense of this, and similar passages.
Our text informs us, that the lake of fire and brimstone is the second death, and as this death is called “the second death,” it evidently refers to a first death. The common doctrine of the church supposes that the first death is the death of the natural body, and the second death the eternal condemnation of the soul and body after the resurrection, in a state of the most exquisite torture.
There seems to be no small inconsistency in this opinion, in that it makes the second death to be second to something as entirely different from itself as any thing could be invented. The death of the body consists in a total extinction of animal life, in an entire destitution of all sense, and renders the subject incapable of pleasure or pain. Where then is the propriety of calling a state of the quickest sensation, and the most intolerable misery second to that which is altogether unlike it?
While a person lives in this world, he is subject to sorrow, adversity, sickness, and pain. Why then would it not seem altogether more congruous to call a state of misery hereafter the second life, than to call it the second death, that is, second to the death of the body?
Another very great inconsistency in the common use of our text is, that it supposes that after people shall have ceased from all the sins which are enumerated in the text, and are in a constitution of existence in which no such crimes can ever be committed, they are then and there to be tormented for what they did in this world. No one supposes that there will be unbelievers, whoremongers, idolaters, &c. in the eternal world. What reason then is there in supposing that in a world where no crime can never be committed, crimes will be eternally punished ? In this world we are obliged to punish crimes, and the object is to reclaim the criminal, or to deter others from committing like offences, or both. But what is this punishment for in the eternal world, in which no one pretends that any
crime can ever be committed ? Will the advocate for this hereafter punishment, pretend that it is inflicted on mankind because they have been sinful in this world? We will then endeavor to show that this is not a correct answer.
Suppose then that a man now commits a crime, say theft, or murder, must he be punished? Yes, he surely must be punished. Why, what necessity is there of this, punishment? Answer ; if he be not punished, he will repeat the crime with impunity, and restraint will be taken from others, and crimes will be multiplied.
This is ad:nitted as a rational answer, and public sentiment yields to the execution of the law. But this answer cannot b? given in relation to this supposed punishment in the future world; for punishment can be no terror to evil doers, where there are none.
In case of criminality in this world, could it be made to appear, that the relinquishment of penalty would in no way tend to multiply crimes, the humanity and good sense of the public would most surely discontinue to punish.
It is evident that punishment regards the future, and directs its endeavors to reclaim from wickedness and to prevent crimes.
By the prophet Isaiah, God says to sinful Israel ; Why should ye be stricken any more ?
Ye will revolt more and more.” The evident sense of this is, there is no good reason for punishing, unless evil can be prevented by it.
But what evil will be prevented by this endless punishment in the future world ? Its advocates do not pretend that it will either make its subjects better, or restrain others from sin.
But it is said, that it necessary to hold up the terrors of endless punishment to deter people from committing sin in this world. If this be all, there is no necessity of the doctrine's being a truth, if it be believed, though in fact it be false, it has all the effect to deter people from committing sin that it would have were it true.
But we are ready to deny even this utility to the doctrine in question. For the advocate of the doctrine makes provisions which completely nullify its power to produce any such effect. He informs the transgressor that if he repent of his sins any time in this life he will avoid this punishment hereafter; and moreover he certifies him that repentance is within his own power, and that he can repent any time if he will. Now where is the terror ?
We will suppose that our legislature makes a law that if a man steal to the amount of a certain sum, he shall, on conviction thereof, be confined to hard labor for life unless he shall in one week after committing the crime wash his hands in clean water. Would there