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    ONE EVIL OF THE COMMON THEORY OF ENDLESS BEING IN SIN AND SUFFERING, IS,

    It sustains the mischievous practice of mystifying, or making the Scriptures to have a secret or hidden meaning, in the plainest texts.SSII 131.1

    This mischievous practice was brought into the church, almost as soon as the Apostles had left the world. The converts from heathenism seemed intent on uniting heathen philosophy with christianity. Hence they must find an abundance of mysteries in the Scriptures: and the practice of allegorizing, i.e. making the language to contain something that does not appear in the words, commenced and generally prevailed, before the third century. This was done, doubtless, with a view to lead heathen philosophers to embrace christianity, as affording them a fruitful field for their researches. But it led the church astray into the wild fields of conjecture; and every lively imagination could find hidden wonders in the Bible; while the plain literal meaning of the text was disregarded. That fatal practice increased from age to age, till the simplicity of the gospel was totally eclipsed, and the obscuration has not wholly disappeared to this day.SSII 131.2

    This practice has given occasion to honest people, as well as to infidels, to say, “You can make any thing out of the Bible,” or “play any tune upon it.” And this is true, if men are to be allowed to take texts which have a plain, obvious, and literal signification, and call them mystical or figurative, when there is not a clear necessity for doing so. The Scriptures themselves often notify us when the language is to be understood figuratively; and frequently those figures are explained, and the literal interpretation given.SSII 131.3

    The common method of making the terms life and death mystical, or figurative, i.e. to mean something more, and far different from what appears in the literal and obvious signification of the words, I conceive is unwarranted by the Scriptures, and tends only to throw confusion upon the plainest subjects of the Bible, and also to take away the force and beauty of very many otherwise clear and intelligible portions of God’s word.SSII 132.1

    Let me now call your attention to texts, the beauty and force of which are greatly weakened and obscured by such a course.SSII 132.2

    Deuteronomy 30:15, “I have set life and death before you, therefore choose Life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Again, Psalm 16:11, “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.”SSII 132.3

    Now let us contemplate some portions of the New Testament, in view of the theory I oppose, and the one I advocate, and see on which they have most force and the clearest meaning. Look at the young man who came to our Saviour with an important inquiry, Matthew 19:16 - What does he say? Is it his inquiry, “What shall I do to escape endless misery or suffering?” No: but, “What shall I do that I may have eternal life?” How plain the question, on the theory I advocate, and how appropriate the answer, “If thou wilt enter into life,” etc. Not, - if thou wilt escape endless life in torments, - not, if thou wilt have a “happy eternal life,” but simply, - If thou wilt enter into life. What simplicity, beauty, and force! all is natural, and easy to be understood.SSII 132.4

    Again, John 3:15, 16, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” All here, again, is natural, easy, and forcible, on the theory that the wicked are actually to die or perish if found rejecting Christ, who only has eternal life to give. But on the theory I oppose, we must have a whole sermon to explain the meaning of the term perish, and make it appear that it does not mean “extinction of being,” but eternal life in sin and misery! I once heard a Doctor of Divinity in New York city preach a whole sermon on that one point; and that, too, after he had admitted that the primary meaning of the term is “extinction of being.” It seems to me it is taking quite too much pains to make obscure the meaning of a word, that of itself is easy to be understood.SSII 132.5

    In the same chapter, at the 36th verse, it is said: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” He is already condemned to death, and is dying; eternal life is offered in the Son of God, he that will not accept it, through him, shall not possess life, but the wrath of God shall abide on him to the full execution of the penalty, which is “death, the wages of sin.” Again, John 5:28, 29, - “The hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation,” or condemnation: but to what? not to eternal life in sin and misery, but to death - for that is the wages sin has earned. Here the language is natural and forcible, on the view I advocate, and the contrast of life and death is perfect; but I ask any candid man if it is so on the view I oppose?SSII 133.1

    Again, at the 39th and 40th verses: “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they that testify of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”SSII 134.1

    They were looking not for eternal happiness merely, or an escape from eternal torments, but for eternal life. Yet when the only physician who could give that priceless blessing calls them to come to him for it, they would not come; and, as a matter of course, they are not saved “from death.” Look at the following texts, in the 6th chapter of John: “Labor for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life, unto the world. I am the bread of life. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life. I am that bread of life. This is that bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. The words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”SSII 134.2

    That simple life and death are put in opposition, or clearly implied in these texts, is too plain not to be seen by any person of common attention. “Not die - eternal life.” Now, a man shall “not die,” if the theory I oppose is true, whether he come to Christ or not; and it would have been just as easy to have expressed the doctrine of eternal being in sin and suffering by unequivocal language, as in that, the literal interpretation of which must necessarily lead astray, if that doctrine be true.SSII 134.3

    Again, John 8:12, “He that followeth me shall have the light of life.” And at the 51st verse, “If a man keep my sayings he shall never see death.” Again, in 10th chapter, “I am come that they might have life. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, - and they shall never perish,” etc. Does not this language clearly imply, that those who do not follow Christ will perish? Yes, says the objector, their happiness will perish! But I ask, if such an interpretation is not forced and unnatural? Our Saviour says no such thing. Perish is put in opposition to life. By the simple and natural meaning of the terms, there is great beauty and force in the language. Besides, to admit of a departure from the literal meaning of the term perish, throws us into the regions of uncertainty; and if one man may say it means his happiness shall perish, another may say it means his sins shall perish, and so on. But if it signifies simply what the word imports - a destruction of being - then his happiness and his sins perish with him, as a matter of course, and there is no obscurity about it.SSII 135.1

    Again, John 11:25, 26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” How forcible and full of power are these words, literally understood! But say, to die, means loss of happiness, though the person still lives, and you at once strip the expression of our Lord of the energy which it possesses in its plain and obvious meaning.SSII 135.2

    Again, John 14:6, - “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”SSII 135.3

    Also, Romans 5:17 - “If by one man’s offence, death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ; therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, [i.e. unto death;] even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men, [i.e. in its offer,] unto justification of life. That as sin hath reigned unto death, [i.e. unto condemnation to death,] even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”SSII 135.4

    That the death spoken of, here, is a literal death the context clearly shows; it was that death that came into the world by one man’s sin (verse 12,) and which “reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression:” (verse 14.) If then the death is literal so is the life offered, and promised; and that life is only to be obtained “through righteousness,” or becoming righteous, and “by Jesus Christ.”SSII 136.1

    Now look at such expressions as the following: “The crown of life, - The word of life, - The grace of life. He that hath the Son hath life, - he that hath not the Son of God hath not life, - The water of life, - Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life, - This do and thou shalt live, - Because I live ye shall live also, - We shall also live with him, - Be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live, - God sent his Son, that we might live through him, - If one died for all, then were all dead,” i.e., dying, doomed to die; as the body is dead, because of sin, i.e., doomed to die, though not yet actually dead. “Who died for us, that we should live together with him.” These, and a multitude of other texts of Scripture, all speak in plain and unequivocal language, if the view I take of the final destiny of the wicked is correct; otherwise, and if figurative, the imagination must be employed to explain them; and then we find ourselves let loose in the wild fields of fancy; and who shall decide where we shall stop?SSII 136.2

    In these sermons I have endeavored to show that man by sin lost all title to immortality; and had it not been for the “seed of the woman” the race would have utterly perished, or ceased to be, and would have been as though they never had been. There is not a particle of evidence that the original threatening embraced a state of eternal sin and suffering, that idea has puzzled our greatest and most learned divines, to tell how an atonement could be made adequate to redeem men from such a punishment. To meet the case, they have gone to the idea that God, himself, suffered to make the necessary atonement; and then they have started back from that position, as being impossible that the Godhead could actually suffer, and so have substituted the “human body and soul” of Jesus Christ, as united with the Godhead, and the human nature of Christ only suffering. This has led others to deny an atonement altogether, as they have contended that the man Christ Jesus, while the Godhead did not suffer, could not, by any sufferings he might endure, give an equivalent for endless torments in the fire of hell. Pressed with this difficulty, the advocates of the endless sin and suffering theory have been led to say, it was not necessary to an atonement that the sufferer should endure the very same punishment that the guilty were liable to, but only such as should show that God would not let sin go unpunished. Others have taken advantage of this admission to deny the necessity of an atonement at all, and hence have opposed the idea of one. This has resulted in a still further departure from truth, and they have taken the position, that if man suffers for his sins, himself, that is all sufficient; and that his sufferings are bounded by this life, or at most, to a very limited period in a future state, after which he will have an eternity of happiness.SSII 137.1

    Now all this confusion and conjecture, for I can give it no higher name, I conceive, arises from not clearly understanding what man lost by the fall, for himself and posterity. In order to understand this subject I shall conclude these discourses, with general remarks on Adam’s state, trial and failure.SSII 138.1

    The extravagant manner in which Adam’s knowledge and holiness has been insisted on by nearly all theologians, I am disposed to think, is not sustained by either the works or words of God. Adam has been represented as the very perfection of knowledge and holiness at his creation. The facts stated in regard to his creation are so few, that from those alone we might be left in doubt as to Adam’s perfection as an intelligent and moral being; yet we shall find by observing God’s order in his works in connection with revelation the real state of Adam at creation.SSII 138.2

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