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saints of God ? No, no, it cannot be; all men, like Judas, shall be conducted to their “ own place."
I have thus referred to a few considerations, which apart from the Bible, are sufficient to satisfy me that there is future retribution for the wicked. I have done so because, some of the highest literary productions of the day are ever zealous in propagating the idea that the principle of retribution is adequately administered here; that every sin a man commits carries with it at once its full punishment; that the sinner pays his debt as he goes on in life, and that there is no outstanding account to be settled in the great hereafter ; that if there be punishment in the future, the punishment will be for the sins that will be committed in the future, and not for the sins that have been committed in the past. I am ready to grant that the principle of retribution is developed here ; that a man even here, consciously or unconsciously, injures himself by every trespass he commits; but I deny that, it is adequately and fully administered. The supposition, to say nothing of its opposition to the Bible, is-(1) Opposed to consciousness. I ask you to single out one individual man whose conscience tells him that he has fully endured the sufferings due to his sin. If sinners felt this, would there be any forebodings of the future? The testimony of universal conscience is, that there is an immense account to settle in the hereafter ;-tremendous arrears to discharge in the ages that are to come. It stands opposed (2) To the tendency of sin in this life, which is to harden the moral sensibilities. As a fact, the more men sin the less they feel compunction for sin ; so that if all the retribution was here, we have this anomaly under the righteous government of God, that the more a man sins the less he shall suffer. It stands opposed—(3) To analogy. The violation of physical law does not always bring immediate and full retribution A farmer neglects the laws of agriculture in the Spring ;-Summer will come and Autumn pass away ; but in the dreary Winter he will feel the penalty. The violation of organic laws does not always entail immediate and full retribution. The youth violates the laws of health in the Spring of life, and often it is not until old age comes on, that the penalty is fully felt, and that he is made to feel that he possesses in his shattered constitution “the sins of his youth.” The violation of political laws does not always bring full and immediate retribution. Unrighteous governments may succeed each other for ages, but retribution comes at last. Thus we may rest assured it is with the moral history of individual man. Away with this flimsy dream of a flippant philosophy. There is a “treasuring up of wrath.” Sin is like the thunder storm in the sky; for awhile it dwells serenely in some small cloud_electricity gradually accumulates, the clouds darken and spread, until the wide expanse of Heaven is covered with a gloom, under which the whole creation grows still with boding fear;—at length it bursts, and the affrighted world is beaten with its fury. The first sin is a little cloud ; a nucleus which gathers to itself every subsequent act of iniquity, until at length it mantles the whole firmament of the soul in one dense storm-cloud.
The other grand thought contained in the text is :
II. THAT THE WAY TO ESCAPE THIS TERRIBLE HELL SHOULD
shall we escape ?” This is the question that should press on all hearts. As mistakes on this question are prevalent and inexpressibly dangerous, I shall begin the answer to it in a negative form.
First : Merely intending it will not do. All intend escaping hell. The mere intention is an evil. It prevents men from feeling, as they otherwise would, the terribleness of their present position ; and also renders ineffective the most powerful appeals. Intentions that lead not to corresponding efforts, are worse, I say, than useless ;-they delude, they
Of what avail to the master are the good intentions of his servant ? Of what service to the state are the good intentions of the statesman ? Are the fields cultured, or does commerce prosper, by good intentions ? Do men ever grow wealthy or wise by good intentions? How then can hell be avoided by good intentions ? “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father.”
Secondly: Mere formal worship will not do. You may have rules for worship distinguished by great scriptural propriety, to which you conform with the greatest precision. Morning dawn and evening shade may find you on your knees; in your family your domestics may mark the regularity of your devotions ; in the temple you may always be found in your seat, and blending your voice in the great congregation; but if you are not penetrated with the true spirit of religion, your formal services are a sin and an injury -you debase your moral nature-you insult your God. The Scribes and Pharisees did all this ; yet Jesus said, “Except your righteousness," &c.
Thirdly: Sacramental observances will not do. Christianity has rites, but they are few, simple, and significant. No ritual, either Jewish or Christian, was intended to be a mystic channel to convey grace; but a symbol to express a truth. A selfish priesthood, however, has diverted sacraments from their original intention. In the Papal Church there is a class of men who impiously arrogate the power of delivering men from hell, by the administration of certain rites. Let men but receive baptism and the Lord's Supper from their consecrated hands, and they are saved. Would that this soul-destroying superstition were confined to Rome ! We have it in what is called Protestant England, and in some sections of the Protestant Church of this Protestant Island. Do not apostolic succession, baptismal regeneration, priestly absolution, episcopal confirmation, imply the possession of a power by the priest to make men religious ? At death beds there are those who will administer the Lord's supper to such as have lived a life of iniquity, and then commit them to the grave in a full and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. Love for souls, fidelity to truth, reverence for human reason, and the God of reason, impel
me to raise my humble protest against this destructive superstition on the part of the people, this crafty selfishness and impious arrogance on the part of the priests.
Fourthly: Liberal contributions to the cause of religion and benevolence will not do. God has in His providence made the progress of His truth in the world greatly to depend upon the giving of property. Why this ? He could have rained Bibles from heaven, studded the globe with temples, and written His gospel on the face of the heavens for men of every land to read. Why then has He left it to us ? Manifestly in order to give us an opportunity of cultivating those generous sympathies of the heart, whose proper development is at once necessary to our perfection and happiness. God intended giving to His cause to be felt as, a high privilege, not an arduous duty; a thing that man should hail with delight, not an obligation to be discharged with reluctance. Men have misunderstood this, and they give from the idea of merit. This is fatal to religion. No contribution, however liberal, will enable a sinner to escape the damnation of hell. “Though I give all my goods to feed the poor," &c.
Fifthly: Aiming at it as an end will not do. Those who from the impulse of fear seek to avoid hell, or from an impulse of hope seek to secure Heaven, will assuredly miss the mark. Such persons are influenced by the same principles as influence the avaricious man in increasing wealth, or the ambitious warrior in invading countries,SELFISHNESS. Why, in this very principle is wrapped up the combustible matter that feeds the flame of hell. It is written-written in the philosophy of mind, written on the page of experience-written by the infallible hand of Jesus -that he “ that seeketh his life shall lose it.” Sixthly : External reformations will not do.
There are two kinds of reformation. The one begins within, the other without; the one is the development of a new life, the other is but the putting on of a new dress; the one is the lopping off the branches from the upas, the other is striking it dead at the root; the one is putting a mask over the demon,
the other is the changing of the demon to an angel. True reformation is the new life working off the old forms; withered leaves falling, and old plumage changing, by the impulse of fresh vitalities.
The mere external reformation is no good ; it is but the painting of a corpse with the hues of life—which is a corpse still. The drunkard may renounce his intemperance, the blasphemer his oaths, the voluptuary his lusts, the liar his falseness, the sabbath-breaker his profanity; the most profligate may strip himself of all the depraved features by which he may have been known, and stand forth before the eye of society as a model of conventional morality, and yet be as near hell as ever. Like the man in the Gospel—one devil has been ejected, but no angel has been welcomed in his place; and the room is empty and ready to receive seven devils more,
and make the last state worse than the first. If then the damnation of hell cannot be escaped in any of these ways,
How is it to be done? This is still the all-important question. The great glory of the Bible is that it answers this question. The answer is—"BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED."
But how can faith in Christ do this? Where is the adaptation of the means to the end ? In answer to this question I would briefly submit three remarks :
HELL YOU MUST ESCAPE A SINFUL
1. THAT TO CHARACTER. Hell has always a locality, because all existences whether happy or miserable must have a place. But hell is not locality. The same place which is a hell to one may be Heaven to another. That hell is some miserable region, on whose verge the sinner is standing, and that salvation is the outstretching of the Divine arm to deliver him from falling into it, is an idea as monstrous and pernicious, as it is popular. Salvation is not the taking of a man from one place and lifting him to another; it is the taking of a man from one state of mind into another, from one class of ideas, feelings, purposes, prospects, habits, into another. Malice, envy, selfishness, re