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    “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that that testify of me; and ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” John 5:39, 40.SSII 65.1

    Some translate this text, “Ye do search the Scriptures,” etc. It makes very little difference which way it is understood, whether as a command of what should be done, or as a declaration of what was done. Either way, it shows the immense value of the Scriptures, because they reveal eternal life: and it shows, too, that the object they had in searching, was to learn about eternal life. And further, it shows that the Scriptures are the proper place to search for that inestimable blessing. Every man is bound to do this for himself, and not trust to his teachers alone, as I fear too many do.SSII 65.2

    Teachers may be good men - honest men; they may intend to lead the people into truth, and preserve them from error: yet they are but men - fallible men, and may “err not knowing the Scriptures;” and besides, it is possible they may be bad men, who may have some other object in view than to “save souls from death;” but if this is not the case, and they are sincere, still it must be recollected, we have all received our education, from the first dawnings of intellect, under an influence that has necessarily given our minds a bias to a particular theory, or mode of interpreting the Scriptures; that mode may be right, or it may be wrong; be it which it may, our teachers themselves have most likely had their opinions formed by it, and will teach it; but they cannot give an account for us to God; every man must give account of himself.SSII 65.3

    It will avail us nothing, at the judgment, to plead that our teachers taught us so, - or, that ecclesiastical bodies decreed or established such a belief, or articles of faith. It will roll back in thunder tones in our ears - “Every one must give account of himself to God.” “You had the Scriptures, and the injunction to search them - and if you have erred to your ruin through false teaching, you have done it with the words of eternal life in your hands; but which you have trusted others to interpret for you, without giving that application of your own minds to the subject which it was your duty to do, instead of being absorbed by the things of time.”SSII 66.1

    Would not such words be dreadful words in our ears at the great judgment day? Should we not then fully realize the truth of that Scripture which saith, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man?”SSII 66.2

    Teachers may be helps to understand the Scriptures, but should never be trusted as infallible guides; nor should they ever be allowed to decide authoritatively for us, what the true meaning of God’s word is. Any such attempt on the part of teachers, is a manifest usurpation of the prerogative of Jehovah, and should always be resisted. Let teachers in religion keep to their appropriate work; which is not to be “lords over God’s heritage,” but to be “helpers” and “ensamples to the flock.” They are not to decide who are heretics and who are orthodox, but to show men their sins - their perishing, dying condition, and point them to Christ, the Great Physician, that they may “have life.”SSII 66.3

    The expression of our Lord - “Ye will not come unto me that you might have life,” shows that men are exposed to death. The question, with us, in these discourses, is, to determine what that death is: - whether it is eternal life in sin and suffering, or destruction of being. My position is, that it is the latter; and I have endeavored to establish that point from the standard version of the Scriptures; that version has its imperfections, but is as safe to follow as any of the improved versions, that have been, or may be gotten up in these times of strife among the multitude of sects that are in existence. How far I have been successful in my attempt, others will judge for themselves. No man can believe without evidence. Some, it is true, will not believe whatever the evidence may be, unless they could find the thing proposed for belief was likely to be popular. But no one need calculate on popularity who sets himself to follow truth wherever it may lead him. Our Lord himself was despised and rejected of men.SSII 67.1

    In my last discourse, I had brought down my examination of objections nearly to the close of the Bible. What remains for us to do, is, in the first place, to finish that examination; then, I shall take up objections from other sources; after which, I shall sustain my position by a mass of Scripture testimony not yet introduced but in part.SSII 67.2

    AN EXAMINATION OF Revelation 14:9 to 14.SSII 67.3

    “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”SSII 67.4

    It is maintained, with great assurance, that this text teaches, that “eternity of eternities” is the period of the torments of all wicked men: and, therefore, proves them immortal.SSII 68.1

    In order to make this text available to our opponents, they must prove three things. First - That it is spoken of ALL wicked men. Second - That it relates to their punishment beyond this life. And, Third - That the term “for ever and ever” is used in its primary and absolute sense of endless. Neither of these points have they ever proved, and I am persuaded they never can. It is not enough for a man to affirm all these points; let them be proved. I say again, it never has been done and never can be.SSII 68.2

    1. Is this language used in reference to all wicked men?SSII 68.3

    I answer, no. It is a specified class, viz: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand.” This is the class spoken of and threatened; and it comes almost infinitely short of embracing all the wicked.SSII 68.4

    Let us examine the connection and see when the “beast and his image” arose. The previous chapter shows that they did not come into existence till after the Christian era; nor indeed till the old Roman empire was in its divided state - as the ten horns clearly show - which could not have been earlier than the fourth or fifth century after Christ. Hence, the wicked spoken of in the text under consideration, did not embrace any that lived before the Christian era, nor any that lived for three or four hundred years after. Here, then, is a large exception of the wicked. But we shall probably find a still larger exception, by an inquiry as to which beast is spoken of; for two are mentioned, viz : a ten horned beast, and a two horned one: and nearly all commentators are agreed that the two horned one came up at a much later period than the other; and some doubt if it has ever appeared yet. If the two horned beast is the one spoken of in the text under consideration, then an exception must be made of the wicked during the centuries that elapsed from the rise of the first to that of the second beast. Hence here is another large number of the wicked who are not embraced in the threatening. That it is the worshippers of the two horned beast, who are threatened, seems likely from the fact, that it is that beast that causes the image to the first to be made. Thus another period must elapse, after the second beast arose, before men could “worship his image;” and hence many other wicked would not be embraced in the judgment denounced in the text we are examining. Then we must inquire who or what power this “beast and his image” represent. Protestants, quite generally, say, it symbolizes Papacy. If that be so, then no Protestant sinners are included in the text; so that none of them need fear the threatening, whatever it embraces, unless they turn Papists. Possibly the Papist might say, the beast, etc., is Protestantism. If so, then all Catholic sinners escape. Thus, we see, it is a mere assumption to say, “This punishment foreshown, Revelation 14:9 to 11” is “precisely” that to which “all the wicked will be subjected,” as D. N. Lord said, in his review of Dobney on Future Punishment, Theological Journal for 1850, p. 416.SSII 68.5

    The dynasty of rulers symbolized by this beast and his image are of late origin, if yet in existence; hence it is impossible that more than a small portion of the race of Adam can come under the threatening of chapter 14. This fact alone shows the absurdity of our opposers quoting it in support of their theory, which is, that all wicked men will be involved in endless torment.SSII 70.1

    2. Does the judgment threatened in this text relate to wicked men beyond this life?SSII 70.2

    Can our opposers prove that it does? They can assume it; but assumptions do not pass for evidence in these days of investigation. Have they any evidence of their position? If so, what is it? and where is it found? But as they have none, I proceed to affirm, that those inflictions, on the worshippers of the beast and his image, relate to judgments in this life, “on the earth,” and not in some fancy hell in another world.SSII 70.3

    The previous chapter gave us an account not only of the beast and his image, but the threatening of the beast, “that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed;” verse 15. To counteract this, God caused an angel to make the terrible threatening in the text; and its appropriateness to deter men from obeying the beast is apparent.SSII 70.4

    The chapter following the text opens thus - “I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; and in them is filled up the wrath of God.” The original is “In them was completed the wrath of God.SSII 70.5

    Mark well, these plagues are the last on some body; and they are to have a completion; hence it is impossible that they can be eternal, or endless. Now observe, verses 7, 8, it is said, “One of the four vital beings gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God,” etc. “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled,” or completed.SSII 71.1

    Let it be distinctly noted, these plagues are THE LAST, and that they COMPLETE the wrath of God on the power to be visited; and also that no MAN can enter into the temple of God till they are COMPLETED. Now what follows - If these plagues, or any part of them, fall on the wicked spoken of in chap. 14:9 to 11, then either no man ever can enter the temple of God, or the wrath spoken of will have been completed, or finished. Now listen - “I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God [where?] UPON THE EARTH:” not in hell, nor the moon, nor any other fancy location. “And the first went and poured out his vial upon the earth.” Well, what happened? “And there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had THE MARK OF THE BEAST, and upon them which WORSHIPPED HIS IMAGE.”SSII 71.2

    Here is the commencement of the exact fulfillment of the threatening in chap. 14. There we find the threatening; here the wrath in a course of accomplishment, and it has not missed the persons threatened. These plagues are all to fall on men upon the earth; chap. 16:1; they are the “filling up of the wrath of God,” and they are the “the last:” and till they are filled up and completed, no man can enter the temple of God: then what becomes of “the eternity of eternities” of their torment? It has passed away, like other fancies of mere theorists.SSII 71.3

    The judgments embraced in these seven last plagues are fully developed in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th chapters, and result in the entire destruction of “Babylon the great” - which seems to be only another symbol of the beast. Babylon is judged, condemned, thrown down, burned with fire, and to “be found no more at all,” chap. 18:21. The terrible torments inflicted on her, and her devotees, as set forth in the chapters named, is a full and perfect fulfillment of chap. 14:9 to 11; and it is seen to be “on the earth;” and no support or countenance is given to the assumption of endless sin and suffering by it.SSII 72.1

    As I have shown that the threatened wrath is to be “upon the earth,” and that it must have a completion, or no man can ever enter the “temple in heaven,” it is unnecessary to spend time to prove that the term, forever and ever, in the text, is used, as often elsewhere, to signify no more than an undefined period. I might greatly extend remarks on this subject; but trust enough has been said to convince all candid inquirers, and more would not avail with bigots, and dealers in mere assumptions.SSII 72.2

    The last resort of the advocates of the eternal sin and suffering theory is Revelation 20:10, “The devil was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone - and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” In reply, - to say nothing of the fact that it is evidently a symbolical power that is here spoken of, I remark:SSII 72.3

    Some of the most learned men, and men, too, who believe in the common theory of unending sin and misery, have admitted that the “terms ‘everlasting,’ ‘forever,’ and the like, are uniformly used in the Scriptures to denote the longest possible duration of which the subject to which they are applied is capable.”SSII 72.4

    If this view is correct, and I see no reason to dissent from it, then the text under consideration proves that the devil and his associates in misery, are to be tormented during the whole period of their being: and of course cuts off restorationism; but does by no means prove that Satan, or wicked men, are immortal; on the contrary, we are expressly taught, Hebrews 2:14, that Christ shall “destroy the devil.” Not destroy the “happiness” of the devil - that is done already; but his person, his being. Any other construction of the words, I conceive, is uncalled for and unnatural, unless it can first be shown that he is immortal, and that immortality can suffer.SSII 73.1

    It is further evident that the devils themselves expect to be destroyed. “Hast thou come to destroy us,” said they to him who will finally do that work.SSII 73.2

    Whatever may be the views of the devil in the matter, the blessed God has said of the seed of the woman, that “It shall bruise thy head:” Genesis 3:15. The work for which Christ was “manifested” will never be complete till the “old serpent’s” head is bruised: which expression denotes the entire destruction of the life principle. Bruise a serpent anywhere, except his head, and he may live; but crush that, and he dies. The devil then is to die. Whoever he is, or whatever he is, the finale is total destruction, however hard the death may be, or long in being accomplished.SSII 73.3

    The argument used by my opponents to prove the immortality of the wicked, is drawn from the language which speaks of their punishment, or torments. And why do they infer, that this language proves the eternal conscious being of the wicked? Because, say they, the soul is immortal! That is the very point to be proved. Their argument runs thus:SSII 73.4

    First proposition: - The soul is immortal.SSII 74.1

    Inference: - The wicked will eternally sin and suffer.SSII 74.2

    Second proposition: - The wicked will eternally sin and suffer.SSII 74.3

    Inference: - Therefore they are immortal.SSII 74.4

    Here an attempt is made to establish the truth of the first proposition by an inference drawn from that proposition; when the truth of that inference, itself, depends upon the truth of the first proposition. Nothing can be proved in this way to sustain the doctrine of the immortality of the wicked. It is reasoning in a circle, and assuming the whole question at issue, instead of proving it.SSII 74.5

    Here, again, I refer to the language of Richard Watson, in his “Institutes.” Though he believed in the eternal being of all souls, yet he says, vol.ii. [1st Am. Edition] page 250, the notion “that the soul is naturally immortal is contradicted by Scripture, which makes our immortality a gift, dependent on the will of the giver.” And again, page 167 and 168, 2nd volume, he calls the doctrine of the “natural immortality of the soul” an “absurdity.” The question then is, does God “give” immortality to any but the “holy?”SSII 74.6

    My opponents say, “Yes;” and I answer No. “Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection on such the SECOND DEATH hath no power.” All others will forever be cut off from life and immortality.SSII 74.7

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