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in the Scriptures, that unsanctified people shall not inherit the kingdom of God. As to this point, the Anti-Trinitarians differ from every class of the Universalias. One class of that general denomination, profess to believe, that all mankind are so interested in the Atonement of Christ, that they shall ascend immediately to heaven after death. The other, however, seem to think there will be a limited punishment inflicted on obstinate sinners; and that, by enduring it, they will atone for their guilt, be purified from sin, and, in some period of eternity, be admitted to final happiness. But it is certainly more reasonable, and congenial with the declarations of Scripture, to believe, that those who die in opposition to God, shall rather be annihilated than received to heaven. We concur with them so far as to believe, that such people cannot be admitted into heaven; but that which seems to be a reason in their minds for annihilation, leads us to believe in their eternal punishment.
2. Opposition to the doctrine of endless misery, is, no doubt, another reason which leads them to the belief of annihilation. While they admit that such sinners as have been mentioned, are unfit for heaven, they seem to be unwilling to allow that they shall be sent to a place of eternal pain. They contend, that the eternal continuance of sin and misery is inconsistent with the infinite benevolence of God. This argument is more plausible than solid; it is calculated, however, to affect the feelings of men who are opposed to every thing that is contrary to a selfish inclination. But the inference from the benevolence of Deity, that all sin and sorrow shall come to an everlasting end, is rather hastily drawn. If the argument has any force in it, it militates as powerfully against the existence of these things now, as it does against their continuance. The infinite goodness of God cannot be consistently doubted;
yet these evils have existed in all ages; and we are anthentically informed, that they are to be continued, in some degree, down to the end of time. If sin and sorrow are continued through the course of seven thousand years, under the government of God, we have no ground to conclude that the eternal continuance of these evils may not be perfectly consistent with infinite wisdom and benevolence. The argument of the opposer is this, Wherefore should God make creatures, and determine that they should sin and suffer forever? But to this we may reply, Why should God make creatures, permit them to sin, and cause them to suffer in this world, and at death annihilate them to all eternity? An answer to the second difficulty, will be a complete reply to the first. It is beyond our province, to say what is or is not wisest and best for God to do with his own creatures. To contend that sinners do not deserve eternal punishment, is assuming the seat of judgment, which none but JEHOVAH has either the right or the ability to fill. If criminals were permitted to decide on the degree of punishment which they deserve, no doubt, it would be light, and of short duration. But as all şin is against God, He is the only proper judge of its demerit, and of the degree and duration of the misery which his own glory, or the general good, require to be inflicted on the guilty. The feelings of many people, no doubt, revolt at the thought of future and eternal misery; but they have not a proper sense of the Divine Honor, the evil of sin, and its tendency, unrestrained, to overturn the happiness of the universe. It is a mournful fact, that many, in judging in this case, are more influenced by their own feelings, than by reason and evidence. This lays a foundation for a multitude of wild and unsupported theories. Yes; to ward off the painful anticipation of the eternal wrath of God, men have recourse to the doctrine of universal sal
vation; to the plan of restoration, after a limited future punishment; and also to the belief of an everlasting anni hilation. In these various ways, guilty men are endeavoring to obtain a present and momentary peace. But God solemnly declares, that "though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished." Proverbs 11. 21. "Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne; mercy and truth shall go before His face." Ps. 89. 14. "He is in one mind; and who can turn Him ?" Job 23. 13. Every obstinate sinner hates to have justice take place in his own case. But we should remember, that our wicked feelings can make no alteration in divine truth. What that is, it will eternally remain to be, without any regard to our unreconciled wishes. To contend with God, because his doctrines are unpleasant to us, is the very height of foolishness. If we are blind to the glory of God in the displays of His justice, He is not. In that case, He proclaims, "As I live, all the earth shall be filled with my glory." Every one of the sinner's subterfuges must ultimately fail him; and no one of them is more delusive than that of annihilation. But the things that have been mentioned, are, undoubtedly, reasons on which the delusive scheme is founded; but they are as volatile as airunsolid as the slippery sand. But,
3. Some equivocal passages of Scripture are pressed into the support of this dangerous doctrine. The very text which we are now investigating, is considered as one of their strong holds. It must be acknowledged, that its phraseology is strong; but it is certainly capable of more than one construction. It is said in this passage, that God will burn up the wicked; and that He will leave them neither root nor branch. Annihilation, is one sense which may be put upon the text which we are now considering. But it is highly figurative; and therefore, it should be construed with
great care and modesty; comparing it with passages which are more plain, and relate to the same subject. It may on·ly mean, that all the hopes of sinners shall be disappointed, and every vestige of their happiness destroyed, as completely as if they were burned up. The words certainly convey the idea of the entire ruin of the wicked-but that may be perfectly consistent with the doctrine of their endless punishment. But if there were no other passages more clear, the annihilation of sinners might be argued with some degree of plausibility, but not with absolute certainty. There are some other texts, however, on which they appear to rely, that may now be mentioned. One is, 1 Thess. 1. 7-10. It reads thus-" When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.", This passage is, like the text that has been chosen for our theme, equivocal-capable of a double construction. In accordance with this, are the following passages, "The ungodly are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away-the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment-the way of the ungodly shall perish." Ps. 1.4-6. Another sacred writer says, "I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.-They are brought into desolation, as in a moment.-They are utterly consumed with terror. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image." Ps. 73. 17-20. "The transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut
off." Ps. 37. 38. Many such passages might be collected; but to multiply them is unnecessary. The general arguments for the doctrine of annihilation, have now been exhibited; at least, as far as I have a knowledge of them. The remarks which have been made, apply to all these passages, in respect to their import. To resort to such parts of the Scriptures, in support of the theory of annihilation, is a manifestation that the cause is in distress.
In conformity to my promise, I shall proceed,
II. To confute the scheme by Scriptural arguments. It is, certainly, the general belief of the Christian world, that the existence of sinners is to be eternal, as well as the existence of the saints. Their faith, in this respect, is founded on the following reasons:
1. There is no express declaration in the Bible, that sinners are to be annihilated. The passages on which reliance is placed, by the advocates of that plan, are all ambiguous-capable of another explication. A doctrine of such magnitude, certainly, requires express testimony in its favor. Without this, it is highly presumptuous, either to believe, or advocate it. It is deluding ourselves, and ruining the souls of others. If the doctrine were believed, it would be a powerful inducement to the wicked to pursue their sinful courses, without any thought of repenting, or reforming their lives. It is, therefore, a dangerous and vain expectation.
2. It is very unreasonable to suppose, that an intelligent being should cease to exist. The Psalmist says of man, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet." Ps. 8.5, 6. God, therefore, must have a higher end to answer by the existence of man, than merely to display his power in his