Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

We may ask why stubble should be used to represent the proud and them who do wickedly! Stubble is extremely combustible, it is consumed and gone almost as soon as it is set on fire. It therefore shows that the proud and them who do wickedly will continue to burn but a short time, and this idea is fully expressed in the conclusion of our text; "it shall leave them neither root nor branch." The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, has said, as recorded in the 37th Psalm; "For yet a little while and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be." According to this divine prediction the wicked will not exist but a little while and of course cannot suffer but a little while; for they surely cannot suffer any longer than they exist. We read in the 10th of Proverbs as follows, "As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.

Not only does the text under consideration fully disprove the idea to which it is usually applied, but the several passages already quoted equally disprove it. To their united testimony we may add what candid, unprejudiced reason seems to suggest on the same subject.

It is granted by all who profess to believe in a Supreme Being, that he is a Being of infinite goodness. Now we know that it is not the nature of goodness to harm any creature, but to do good to all. From these plain self-evident facts we infer, that God will never administer any kind of affliction to any of his creatures, which is not designed for their benefit. If a creature be in a state of keen distress, from which there is no hope of recovery, to put an end to this creature's existence is a favor. That very fond and compassionate love, which renders the parent solicitous for the child's recovery from pain and sickness,

and impels to every possible exertion which promises the least relief, will, the moment all hope is gone, seek repose in the dissolution of nature.Were it proposed to a kind parent, whose tender offspring is struggling with the distress of a most painful complaint, that though the child could not be cured, it might be preserved in its present situation to old age, would this be chosen rather than that these pains should subside in the peaceful sleep of death? The evident fact is, that goodness is never willing to prolong pain and distress unless it is seen how this may prove beneficial to the subject. It therefore belongs to those who contend for the doctrine of endless punishment, to cast in their minds whether they can justify themselves in giving to the Father of our spirits a character, which for cruelty infinitely exceeds the most unfeeling tyrant which has ever oppressed mankind.

The faithful word of divine inspiration, as recorded in the 57th chapter of Isaiah informs us, that God "will not contend forever, neither will he be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before him, and the souls which he has made." And by the same divine authority we have it recorded in the 3d chapter of the Lamentations, that the " Lord will not cast off forever: but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men."

While these last quoted passages prove, beyond all contradiction, that God will not punish his creatures with an endless punishment, they as fully show that the design of punishment is not to annihilate the soul that God has made. The reason which God renders in the passage quoted from Isaiah, why he will not contend forever nor be always wroth is because the spirit would fail before him, and the soul which he has made.

We may now consider the following important question. (viz.) How is it possible that all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly should be burnt up root and branch, and yet be saved in the Lord Jesus with an everlasting salvation? And furthermore, how can the wicked be saved by the grace of God, if the words spoken by David be true, where he says, as before quoted; "For yet a a little while and the wicked shall not be ?" If the wicked are not allowed to exist, how can they be saved?

Reply. Here we think is a proper place to bring in the scripture doctrine of regeneration or new birth, not with a design to treat it by way of explaining it, but by application. Jesus said to the Jews; "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."-Now suppose any of these Jews were converted by the spirit of truth after our Saviour's ascention to glory, they thereby became the children of God. If so, they were no longer the children of the devil. If any of the children of the devil can by regenerating grace, become the children of God, then by the same grace all the children of the devil may become the children of God. Suppose this should ever be accomplished would not the predictions of the Prophets be fulfiled? Where are the wicked? There are none. Where is his place? As there are none wicked so there is no place for the wicked. Where is the stubble? the fire has passed over it-there is no stubble.-Look carefully, see if the root be not left-the root is all consumed.-Are the branches spared? There is neither root nor branch left.

Now turn your eyes and behold the innumerable multitude of all nations on mount Zion. From whence came they? These are they who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their

robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. They have been translated out of the king dom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son.

The bearers will now ask if we are to explain the text under consideration in this way? Is it in reality a fact that this text which has been so often quoted to terrify us with the apprehensions of never ending burnings, does, in reality, mean the purification of all who do wickedly, and the total destruction of wickedness?

Reply As we have already proved, that the text can neither be applied to the endles duration of punishment, nor yet to the annihilation of the proud and them that do wickedly, we may now proceed to enquire for its true application, by bringing it into connection with other passages in particular where similar language is used, and with those generally which express the design and will of God concerning sinners. By a careful attention to this method, we shall be likely to avoid any application that would be in opposition to the revealed testimony.

[ocr errors]

“For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn ag an oven. What day is this? A little before in the preceding chapter, the Prophet uses the following words; "Behold I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his teinple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold he shall come saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiners fire, and like fuller's soap. And he shall set as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer ante the Lord an offering in righteousness."

The messenger here promised, who should pre, pare the way before the Lord, we find in John the baptist, accordingly as we read Luke 1st, " And thou,child,shalt be called the prophet of the highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways." Compare also, Isaiah 40th, 3d, with Luke 3d 4th. By bringing these scriptures together we learn, that the day spoken of in this 3d chapter of Malachi was the time of the coming of Christ who is called the messenger of the covenant, who should be as a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap. There is no doubt then but this scripture was a prophecy of the gospel day, and of its refining and purifying mankind.

We shall in the next place prove that the day spoken of in our text is the same day of which mention is made in the preceding chapter, which we have shewn to be the gospel day. Following our text the Prophet goes on to describe what shall take place on this day that shall burn as an oven, &c. but before he closes the subject he says; "Behold, I will send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.' The hearer will observe that he who is called Elijah in the Old Testament is called Elias in the New. Speaking of John, Jesus says, as recorded Mat. 11; "For this is he of whom it is written, behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.-And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come." Thus as evidently as we can prove any thing from the scriptures, we prove that the day that is mentioned five or six times in these two chapters is the gospel day.

The Prophet Isaiah speaks of this burning day in his 9th chapter as follows; "For every battle

« ForrigeFortsæt »