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ly unacquainted with the plainest doctrines of the Scriptures. Their ignorance of theology, arises from the blindness of their hearts. It is a great unhappiness to be unsettled in respect to the soul's immortality—it is wicked— a manifestation that they do not ask counsel of God. When people are placed under the influence of corrupting principles, their attention to the Scriptures should be more close and constant, and be accompanied with unceasing prayer.
Young people are, in a special manner, in imminent danger under the sound of a deluding ministry. Bad impressions are easily made on juvenile and inexperienced minds. An oblique remark, a sarcastic sneer, a contemptible pamphlet, may lay the foundation of their everlasting ruin. Great events frequently grow out of apparently small causes. Parents should, therefore, be peculiarly anxious about their children, and careful in having their understanding properly cultivated on religious subjects. If they neglect the matter, Satan and his emissaries will not be slack in taking the advantage of it. The hearts of children are, by nature, prepared to fall before their seductive arts! Sinful ways, and the doctrines which support them, are always pleasing, when the heart is not reconciled to God. We live in a dangerous world; and "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Those people are highly favored, who have been delivered from the bondage of moral corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God; for their minds are now settled on all the grand truths of the gospel. This produces peace, joy, and hope.
5. If we possess an immortal soul, capable of existing separately from the body, it will follow, that its best interest claims our daily and strict attention. In general, much labor is bestowed to secure our welfare in the world;
but the soul is greatly neglected by the majority of mankind. Such a course of action is superlatively foolish. As to this, Christ saith, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" It will amount to very little, whether we have been rich or poor, honorable or despised in this life, when we shall have entered on the scenes of eternity. The joys of heaven, or the miseries of hell, will very soon make us overlook all that we shall have passed through on the earth. My dear hearers, eternity is a solemn and impressive subject! In the view of it, we may say with Moses, concerning sinners, "O that they were wise; that they understood this; that they would consider their latter end!" Eternal salvation and damnation, are really overwhelming considerations! They are calculated to rouse Christians to every possible exertion, and to awaken sinners from their moral sleep; for it will be but a short time, when we shall all be either in heaven or in hell! It is foolish and wicked beyond conception, to ruin our own souls! The highest eloquence is unequal to the illustration of this iniquity. Through divine mercy, we are now in a situation in which we may prepare to meet our God. O, let neither your Bibles, nor the Throne of Grace be neglected! "Behold, now is the accepted time! Behold, now is the day of salvation!" Even if some here are great sinners, and grown old in iniquity, there is forgiveness with God, through Jesus Christ, that his name may be feared. Seek ye the Lord, therefore, while He may be found, and your light shall rise in obscurity; and when your bodies are in the grave, your separate spirits shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of heaven. AMEN.
MALACHI IV. 1.
Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
THIS passage is highly alarming to people whose minds are not reconciled to God. It is an allusion to the day of judgment; but that is not the event to which it has a primary reference. The thing immediately intended, is the destruction of the Jewish nation, for their long and unparalleled wickedness, and especially for their rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory. It was about forty years after His ascension to heaven, that the event in view took place. It was effected by the Roman army, under Titus, who acted in the matter as the instrument of an avenging Providence.
On a careful perusal of the book of Malachi, you will be convinced that that was the event the Prophet had in view, when he wrote the text on whose investigation we have entered. The desolation which was brought upon Judea and the city of Jerusalem, is memorable, and a striking emblem of the final judgment. It was such a catastrophe in itself, and an emblem of such a momentous scene, as fully justifies these strong expressions: "Behold,
the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." In respect to the destruction of the Jewish nation, Josephus writes, No other people ever suffered such calamities, and no other ever equalled them in wickedness. It was really a work of judgment, that makes the ear, in hearing of it, to tingle. The people fell beneath the Roman sword, like stubble fully dry, before the devouring flame. In consequence of that destruction, the Jews have been dispersed over the whole earth, for almost eighteen hundred years. When the Roman army appeared, the Christians who were in Jerusalem, remembered the words of Christ, fled from the devoted place, and were saved from the devouring sword. The storm fell on the proud-on the doers of wickedness-on those who, by actions or consent, had been guilty of the crucifixion of Christ. The event which has been mentioned, however, was but a faint shadow of the general judgment. On that day, the righteous shall escape, and the wicked shall be consumed, Surely, it shall burn as an oven-the wicked be as stubble -they shall be burned up—not having root or branch left. The phraseology of the text, however, is such, that some people have drawn from it the inconsistent inference, that finally impenitent sinners shall all be annihilated at the grand consummation. Considering the inference to be inadmissible, we shall endeavor to show,
I. The import of annihilation; with some of the reasons on which the advocates of the doctrine think it is supported; and,
II. Attempt to confute the scheme by Scriptural argu
We are to show,
I. The import of annihilation; with some reasons on which the advocates of the doctrine think it is supported. Annihilation, literally and properly signifies a return to that state of non-entity from which all things originally came. In that condition, there would be no more consciousness, no more joy, no more fear, no more sorrow, no more hope. If we have not an immaterial and immortal spirit, distinct from the body, but now connected with it, it will necessarily follow, that all mankind must be in a state of mental annihilation, between death and the resurrection. Whether the body returns to non-entity, or not, is a thing of no importance in relation to the present question. When once the supposed operations of its organization are suspended by death, all knowledge of existence must cease, until the dust shall be reorganized by the power of the Creator. I have an impression, that those who believe in the annihilation of the wicked, think that they shall not be raised from the dead. But whether the matter of which their bodies are composed, shall, in their opinion, be annihilated or not, I have not been able to learn. This circumstance, however, is of no importance, If thought eternally ceases to be a modification of the matter, of which they are now composed, they may be said, to all important purposes, to be annihilated. But sufficient has been said to explain the point in question; for by annihilation, they undoubtedly mean, that the wicked shall be so far put out of being, as neither to suffer nor enjoy any more. We shall, therefore, proceed in showing some of the reasons on which the advocates of annihilation think it is supported. And,
1. It is highly probable, that a conviction of the unfitness of impenitent sinners for the 'pure enjoyments of the heavenly world, is one reason for this conclusion, Such an inference is, by no means, incorrect; for it is declared