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We know that a Prophet, of whom we have but little knowledge, complains something in the same manner as the preacher does, in the 73d Psalm ; after which, in the same Psalm, he confesseth himself to be ignorant and foolish, even as a beast ; a very proper confession for one to make, who is un. wise cnough to represent that the wicked, in this world, are better provided for than the righteous. 4. It is by no means uncommon for preachers, of all chris tian denominations, to warn their hearers against sin, and to urge, with great earnestness, the remarkable punishments inflicted on the Jews, as an example of what we ought to expect, if we are equally sinful : And in so doing they follow the worthy example of the great Apostle of the Gentiles. See 1 Cor. x. 5-12. "But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now, these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.. Neither be ye idolators, as were some of them :. As it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose, up to play. Neither let us commit fornications, as some of them committed, and sell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now, all these things happened unto them for ensamples : and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore, let him that think th he standeth take heed lest he fall.". It seems not a little strange that à professed Christian preacher, who has the Bible for his guide, should endeavor to persuade his hearers to believe, that God does not punish sin, according to its demerit, in this world, where it is committed.. ide
á If it were necessary, it would be very easy to prove, on the other hand, that virtue is also amply rewarded io this state of being, according to its purity. But it seems unne. cessary to labor this point, as men in general, and even pharisees, in these times, are loth to say in so many words, that God does not reward them according to the cleanness of their hands. However, as the preacher suggests that David was among those who thought they had some reason to complain, it may be well to produce his testimony to the contrary ; and this will be particularly welcome as it clears the divine character from an uncharitable representation. See 2d Sam. xxii, 21. " The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness ; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompenced me.” 25. “Therefore the Lord hath recompenced me according to my righteousness ; according to my cleanness in his eyesight." Whoever will read and carefully examine the whole of this chapter, will see that no comment is necessary to show that David was fully satisfied with the marks of distinction which the rock of his salvation had made between him and his enemies.
Men of corrupt and envious minds, who have the vanity to believe themselves more righteous than their neighbours, forever feel wounded when they see that the heavens sn:ile on their neighbours with shines & showers as well as on them, and they are under the necessity of gratifying their envý with promises of distinction in another world, where they will have the distinguishing favor of resting on beds of roses, while their malicious eyes will drink exquisite pleasure in seeing their fellow-creatures, even their own children, wrecked on sheets of scorching flames forever! Such is the spirit and such the doctrine, with which the meek son of Mary, and the exalted Son of God, is dishonored in the world which he came to save. And this is the spirit, and this the deadly error, from which the divine light and heavenly love of his gospel, is revealed, to save transgressors. .
The preacher on his 9th and 10th pages has introduced a number of passages of scripture, which he supposes go to prove that God will make an eternal distinction in the future world, between mankind, under the different denominations of righteous and wicked. These passages we will consider.
The first passage quoted is from Psalm i, 5. “The ungodly 'shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congrega. tion of the righteous.” If this passage were spoken or writ. ten by the direction of the Holy Ghost, to show that mankind will remain eternally in a state of sin and opposition to God, then the preacher' has quoted and applied it justly, but we proceed to show that this is not the case. The Holy Ghost in this Psalm shows in a beautiful and most rational light, the distinetion between righteousness and sin, the eternal durability of the former, and the momentary existence of the latter. Speaking in the 1st and 2d verses, of the blessed
re lungodly shah of the right the waye righteou
man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, &c. proc ceeds in the 3d and onward, to show the difference betweeri this and the opposite character. “ And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth furth his fruit in his season : his leaf also shall not wither, and what. soever he doch shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, noř sioners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of tht ungodly shall perish.” Mark the distinction. The righteous is represented by a tree planted by the river's of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season, bearing an unwithering leaf. The ungodly are represented by chaff, which the wind drive eth away. A tree planted by a river of water, which produ. ces its fruit in season, is in a situation to increase its species; but chaj possesses no power to propagate itself, it is not a tree whose seed is in itself, and therefore is not a plant of God's planting, and according to the words of the Saviour, will be rooted up. Notice particularly, that the way of the righteous is known and acknowledged of God, but the way of the wicked shall perish. If the way of the wicked shall perish, will it remain in the coming world and to all eternity?
When sinners are saved from their sins, by the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, then the way of the wicked will perish. Thus we see the scripture, with which the preacher wishes to support his notion of endless sin and unmerciful punishment, is directly against him. Nor was he more fortunate in his second choice of a passage. See Psalm xxxvii, 18, 20. “The Lord knoweth the days of the upright; and their inheritance shall be forever. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume, into smoke shall they consume away." No question from this passage necessarily arises but the following. What will finally become of the enemies of the Lord ? That this question may be answered satisfactorily, we will look at some passages of scripture directly to the point. See Rom. v. 10. “ For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son ; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” xi, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32. “ As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes ; 'but as. touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes, For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. For as ye jo times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these alệo now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” Col. 1, 21,
in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight." These scriptures make it plain that the grace of the gospel, in its saving operations, converts God's enemies into friends, from şin to righteousness. And this is exactly the same truth as is thus spoken of the ministry of the word, committed to the apostles, “to wit, that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world unto himself, nat imputing unto them their tres
It may labour in some very honest mjud, why the text should say, that the wicked shall perish ? and why the ene. anies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs? and why they shall consume away like smoke? Answer, the wickedness of the wicked being brought to an end, it may be justly said that the wicked have perished, or that they are destroyed, for in the character of the wicked they are no more. The fat of lambs being used for burnt offerings, where, on the altar of God it was cousumed by fire, and went off in smoke, so the enemies of God must be purisied by fire, even by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.
If contrary to the above solution we say, that the enemies of God will remain his enemies to all eternity, in a permagent state of rebellion, we as fully disallow the truth of the text, in that it saith, they shall be destroyed and consumed, as we disallow their final reconciliation to God.
Likewise it ought to be noticed, that by wicked works we have all been enemies to God; then of course, if the preacher have done justice to the text under consideration, it consigns us all to never-ending mişery, while he himself, like blind Sampson, fares the fate of the expiring Philistineș.
The third passage which the preacher has quoted for proof of his main point, unavoidably destroys his general argument in all its branches. See Isaiah iii, 10, 11. "Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him ; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked ! it shall be ill with him ; for the reward of his hands shall be given him."
With a view to show the preacher his error, we ask him if he do not find him-elf under the necessity of acknowledge ing that hr has been, if he be not now. WICKED? If he answer in the negative, we reply in the language of truth, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If he answer in the affirmative, we ask whether he has received the “reward of his hands ?” If the wicked must receive the reward of their hands, and if they cannot receive it in this world, then of course they must receive it in the world to come, where the preacher will as surely be punished as his doctrine is true! And not only the preacher, bụt all those who are redeemed from sin by the blood of the everlasting covenant ; for they could not be redeemed from sin if they were not WICKED, and if they were wicked, and if they have not received the reward of their hands, nor can receive it in this world, they must in the world to come!
It is remarkable that the preacher should happen to avoid the verses preceding his quotation, which show that the evil reward of the wicked, as the fruit of their hands, is received in this world, where their sins are committed. See verse 8 and 9. "For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen; because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory. The shew of their countenance doth witness against them, and they declare , their sin as Sodom, they hide it not ; woe unto their soul ! for they HAVE REWARDED EVIL UNTO THEMSELVES." Here is the ruin of Jerusalem and the fall of Judah, which is the reward of the hands of the wicked, which they have rewarded unto themselves. There appears to be no more reason why the text under consideration should be applied to a future state of existence, than for applying it to a state of existence before we came into this.
The fourth passage which we find quoted for the purpose of proving thai some of God's rational offspring will be punished unmercifuliy to all eternity, is found in Mal. iii, 16, 18. “For them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name, a book of remembrance was written before him. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day