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of righteousness arose with healing in his beams. So does the rising sun, which makes our natural day, manifest the surrounding objects, which the darkness of night had obscured from our sight.
The resurrection of Jesus made manifest the abolition of death. It brought to open light what was shown unto Moses at the bush, when God said; “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto him."
Our text informs us, that Jesus Christ hath not only abolished death, but hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. This form of expression fully acknowledges that life and immortality were divine facts in the economy of God before the coming of Christ, but that his process was necessary to make these glorious things known to mankind.
To conclude, the arguments to which we have attended are designed to show that the common notion of saving mankind from the wrath and curse of God in the eternal world is without foundation, either in scripture or reason; and that according to the scriptures our immortality and eternal life were established in the economy of divine wisdom before man existed. Also, that the salvation which the gospel of Jesus Christ effects for us, is a salvation from our sins, from our wanderings, from the darkness of our deceived minds, from all uncleanness, to righteousness, to reconciliation to God, to the knowledge of the truth, and to holiness of life.
And if it be asked, what there is for us to do, if we believe this doctrine, we reply in the words of divine truth, which have been already noticed.
Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness ; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.
Furthermore, if we be asked, what reward we may expect for our careful attention to these virtues, we again reply ; In keeping the commandments there is great reward. Great peace have they that love the law, and nothing shall offend them. 66 And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever.”
EXPLANATION OF MATT. XXIV. AND XXV.
MATTHEW xxv. 46.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment : but the righteous
into life eternal.
While calling the attention of this congregation to the consideration of this portion of our Saviour's testimony, many difficulties are presented to the mind of the speaker; some of which it may be profitable to name.
1. The long established use and application of this text, by commentators, preachers, and all denominations of christians stand in direct opposition, in one important particular, to the use and application which your servant feels himself obligated to make of it. The particular alluded to is the applying of this text to a future state of our existence. And to this may be added another particular, nearly as universally assented to as the former, which is the belief that this text proves the endless duration of misery.
2d. The power of tradition in the human mind forms the most material difficulty which seems to oppose our attempt to bring the true meaning of our Saviour, in the passage before us, to the hearer's understanding. It is vain, my friends, to pretend that we are free in our minds from the force of education. Indeed we ought not to be. We were wisely so constituted, that what we imbibe in our youth should fix a lasting prepossession in cur minds, in favor of opinions which are recommended by our instructors, and against those which we have been taught to view erroneous. But we should do well to consider, that while it is acknowledged that great benefits arise from this natural and
necessary bias of the human mind, it is equally true, that it may often so happen as to produce effects most pernicious. Solomon says; train
a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Here the author relies on the force of education, and gives a most wholesome advice to those who have the charge of children, to bring them up in the way they should go. And it is furthermore evident that the recommendation designed to guard against the unhappy effects of the same power in a case where an erroneous education should be imposed on youth.
Having been taught in our tender years that our heavenly Father has ordained a state of the most dreadful torment in the future state for those who are sinners in this world, and having been instructed at the same time to apply the text under consideration, together with almost all passages of scripture, which speak of the punishment of the wicked to this future state of misery, it has become as habitual for the mind to apply such passages to this future misery, as to apply the names London, Boston, and Philadelphia to the Cities of these names; or as to apply the names Washington, Franklin, and Adams to the distinguished statesmen of these names.
Under these circumstances, the opposer of divine truth has nothing to do, but to rest upon the prejudice of the public mind. He comes forward with all possible assurance and boldly asserts that our Saviour has laid it down in the most solemn and unequivocal manner that “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved and he that believeth not shall be damned;" laying an emphasis on the damnatory term that causes our nerves to tremble. He depends entirely on the prepossessions of the public mind to apply this damnation to a future state ; an application in no way intimated by our Saviour, and by no means intimated by any words in connexion with the passage.
In the same way the preacher, who applies our text to a state of punishment in the future world, manages with the prejudice of his hearers. He says; the divine teacher himself has told us, that at the last judgment, when all the dead are raised and brought to the tremendous bar of God, the sinner will be placed on the left hand, and sentenced to everlasting punishment. He depends entirely on the blind prejudice of his hearers' minds to justify his assertions, and the application he makes of the text. There is not a word in the text nor in any part of its connexions, that intimates any thing about a resurrection of any from the dead, or that the judgment treated of in this chapter is the last judgment, or that any part of the subject belongs to a future state.
But notwithstanding the embarrassments which have been named, and another which is by no means inconsiderable, the very limited abilities of the speaker, which are sensibly felt as inadequate to make a proper arrangement of the momentous subject before us, and altogether unequal to the task of contending against the host of prejudices which are marshalled against the simplicity that is in Christ, yet there are two considerations which are highly encouraging. The testimony of Jesus which lies before us, and which stands connected with our text makes our subject so very plain that it seems to promise conviction to every mind; and the remarkable candor which has characterised this congregation, while attending to this course of lectures, gives that support to the speaker, without which he would have been discouraged.
It may be well for us to raise some queries respecting the general use of this portion of scripture, by which the mind of the hearer may be the better prepared to seek for its true application.
Ist. As this passage is usually applied to a future state, let us ask whether in order to justify such an application it be not indispensable that some part of the testimony in connexion with the text should de ate that it belongs, not to this state, but to a future world? For instance, should the speaker, this eve ning contend that this twenty-fifth of Matthew treated of things which took place before Noah's flood, should you not feel justisfied in opposing such an ex