« ZurückWeiter »
think there is no such thing as endless torment, or eternal death; and that this is precisely what the serpent said to the woman in the garden,_“Ye shall not surely die." And hence they think that we contradict the word of God as directly as did the serpent. In this manner they make out the accusation, that we preach the serpent's doctrine. They make it out to their own satisfaction, and you perceive how they do it. We see precisely the situation in which our opposers are placed, in regard to this matter. Their creed declares that God threatened man with eternal death. This creed lay on their cradles. They have no doubt that it teaches the doctrine of the Bible. Proceeding on this ground, they have made out the charge referred to. They have done so honestly. They have believed the creed from childhood. They believe it from the force of education, and the habits of thought in which they have lived all the days of their lives. My friends, I am not blaming them; but this does not destroy my right to defend myself, or the denomination to which I belong, or to correct the error, by showing how the mistake has happened, and wherein it is a mistake. 6 But wherein is the mistake!' says the hearer. I will endeavour to point it out.
The doctors of the church have affixed a signification to the word death, which the Scriptures, furnish no authority for. Let us ask the question, Do the scriptures anywhere speak of eternal death?
"Why," says the hearer, “I have heard it so freel quently preached, I thought the Bible was full of
it.” Now, this is a grievous error.
a moment. When a penal law is enacted by one of our legislatures, is it not expected that the penalty will be promulgated so soon as the law is published? Would it be proper to enact a penal law, and publish it, but by no means allow the people to know the penalty, until a crime prohibited by the law is committed? Or would it be just for a legislature to enact a law, prohibiting certain acts, and then, after the law has been violated, to say what the penalty shall be? This would be perverse business. It would be making an ex post facto law. “Very true," says the hearer, “but what of all that?” I will tell you. If the Creator intended that eternal death should be the consequence of transgression, would he not have said, • In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” eternally? Most certainly,--but no such thing is added. This alters the case remarkably, and even radically. For as the doctors of the church have predicated their accusation against Universalists, upon the supposition that eternal death was threatened to Adam-and as there is no Scriptural authority for this supposition--the mistake is radical and the allegation brought against Universalists is gone in a moment. It is totally lost.
This, then, is the state of the case; and we call upon our accusers to make good the charge in ques. tion, by proving the premises; to prove, by Bible testimony, that the death spoken of in the Scriptures, had any allusion to eternity. Certain it is, that God said nothing about it. So far, then, as this matter stands, the accusation against us is a falsehood. We never held up the idea that sin does not bring death to the transgressor. We say that sin does not bring eternal death. “Hare you any au
thority for that?” says the hearer. Yes, I have, and you are ready to receive it. I will give it to you in the words of Scripture. Romans v. 20, 21 : “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Now, if sin had abounded unto eternul death, then grace abounded much more. than eternal death! Let us continue the quotation: "That as sin bath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” But if sin reigned to eternal death, could grace reign to eternal life? It is impossible; for “all have sinned;", and if all have died an eternal death, none can be made the subjects of grace, either here or hereafter. Now, it is impossible that grace should abound much more than sin, if sin has abounded to eternal death. Sin must be dead, before this eternal life can be received. Sin must be removed; and therefore it is that Jesus must be “the Saviour of the world”he must be the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” Now, when the sin of the world is taken away, there can be no death, for there will be nothing to support it. Sin supports death, and when sin is removed, the consequence is gone.
"Well,” says the hearer, “you have certainly is exposed and refuted the mistake which your accuall sers have made in bringing such charges against
you; but there is another thing which you must make out, namely, that those accusers are doing the very same thing that they charge you with doing." This is not a difficult task.. They say, that the death
threatened in the Bible, was an eternal death in the cab ta world to come. Please to keep this in your
minds. They say, too, that."all mankind, by the fall
Limitsu communion with God, fell under his wrath and · talas curse, and so were made liable to all the miseries of beards this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for
Do our accusers believe that all mankind will die ihat eternal death in the world to come? Do they believe that every one will die an eternal are death? By no means. We should wrong them, we thought so. They admit that Adam and Eve identi did not die ant eternal death in the world to come:"T Again. Do they believe that all the rest of mankind will die this eternal death? By no means. How do they avoid this admission? They say, God provided a Saviour, to save man from eternal death. Let us suppose this to be the case. Is it not ad supposable that the serpent knew this at the time he spoke to the woman? If he did, he was safe in saying, “ Ye shall not surely die,” inasmuch as our argument supposes he knew that God would send a Saviour into the world, and save mankind from eternal death. They tell us, that “God, from all eternity, elected some men and angels to everlasting life.” Allow this to be true; and suppose that the serpent knew it to be true, was he not on safe ground, when he said, “ Ye shall not surely die?" Certainly. It is as plain a case as can be stated.
Again. Our accusers tell us, that if wê repent of our sins, we shall not die that eternal death. They zealously exhort us all to repent of our sins. Why do they exhort us to repent? Their answer is, “ that you may escape eternal death." Well, then, according to their idea, we can by repentanee avoid the
eternal death threatened in the garden. If the serpent knew all this, had he not good authority for saying, "Ye shall not surely die?” For, according to this idea, we may eat as much forbidden fruit as we choose, and afterwards repent, and go to heaven!--You see this subject plainly. Of all men in the world to manage an accusation of the kind I have adverted to , our opposers are in the most miserable condition; for they are doing the very thing of which they
The attention of the hearer is now specially requested. "The serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” According to our opposers, the death here alluded to was eternal death in the world to come.
Let us suppose that a day or two after the transgression, the serpent paid the woman a visit, and asked her respecting her condition, and whether she had eaten any of the fruit? “ Yes, I ate of it." Well, are you dead? “ No, I am not dead.” Has the threatened penalty come upon you? "No."-Now, would not the serpent have had a right to say to the woman, “ I told you, you would not surely die! You are comfortable and well; eternal death has not come upon you; you are here alive; death has not come upon you!” Now, my hearers, be careful to remember, that God did not say; If ye eat of this fruit, ye shall die in eternity; but “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." In the day of the transgression. There is nothing future in the declaration. And if that death did not take place in the day of the transgression, we have no Scriptural authority to believe that it ever did, or ever will take place.