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it is applied to the incorrigibly wicked, it signifies expressly their final punishment or damnation, not annihilation; for, after all that is intimated by destruction' is actually executed on them, we hear of them again existing in their torments. This might easily be shewn from many passages.
I shall only take notice of two. Our Saviour saith, Matt. vii. 13, Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, or hell, and many there be which go in thereat.' Now, that hell does not annihilate the damned, though it is here called destruction, is plain from the parable of the rich man, whom we find existing in the midst of its torments. Hence it appears, that destruction only signifies misery without hope of relief. Again St. Paul tells us, Heb. ii. 14, that our Saviour took on him the flesh and blood of a man, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death,' that is, the devil. Here the devil is expressly said to have been destroyed by the death of Christ; but surely not annihilated; for we know he is to be judged at the last day, and punished afterward; and therefore what follows, but that, by destruction' in this place, we are to understand the abolition of his empire, namely, sin, and its effects, in all who should embrace the gospel of Christ, and believe in his death?
It is easy to see what men mean by 'such dissolute objecjections, founded on arguments so evasive. They pretend the honour of God, and tenderness to their fellow-creatures; whereas nothing can be more manifest, than that they mean all the time an indulgence for themselves, for the vilest part of themselves; and preach up this indulgence among their acquaintances for no other reason, than because they cannot securely enough believe in it, till they have a crowd to believe with. For this goodly end they represent us, who believe in the eternity of future torments, as cruel and inhuman; not seeming to consider, that, although the infliction of such torments should be ever so unjust and cruel, we are not to be blamed for it, since we are not the inflictors; nay, nor considering, that, while we believe their eternity, we must be really cruel and unfaithful in the highest degree, should we be silent on the awful subject. But they indeed ought to reflect a little more closely, whether, as they cannot be absolutely sure, that the punishment of the wicked will be only temporary, they do not act a most ensnaring and cruel part in giving vice such hopes of indulgence, as in the generality of men, will have the same effects with the hope of total impunity. For my own part, I solemnly declare, there is nothing in revelation I am more thoroughly convinced of than the eternity of those torments. This declaration I make, not that I presume to hope it will have any weight, merely because it is mine, but that it may be my apology for often and strongly insisting on the terrible doctrine; and surely it is a sufficient one. That clergyman, who believes, as I do, can in nothing shew himself so truly tender and affectionate to his flock, as in dwelling often on the dreadful subject, in painting it to the life in all its horrors, and in urging it home on the hearts of the insensible with every argument that can convince, and every expression that can alarm. He cannot possibly exceed on such a subject; for, say what he will, he must still be short of infinity. The Scriptures will best supply him with materials, whether he aims at convincing or rousing. Let him say after God, and fear not, though the wicked should wince, when he lances; and the affectedly nice ascribe that shock to their delicacy, which is felt only in their guilt. They may say he is unmannerly for talking of hell to the genteel ; but this is not to move him; for hell was made for the genteel, and for them that'fare sumptuously every day,' as well as for meaner mortals. If they would have him speak to them only of heaven, let them shew him in their lives, that they are in the way to heaven. But if avarice, or ambition, or pride, or oppression, or if riot, sensuality, lust, and villany, shew themselves triumphant in their actions, he ought to shew them the latitude of the road they are in, and the fire and brimstone, yes, I say, 'fire and brimstone,' in which it ends. If they would have him delicate in his preaching, let them be delicate in the morality of their actions. But what right hath the stupid drunkard to soft words; or the hardened adulterer, to delicate expressions; or the despicable trickster, to honorary addresses; or the infernal perverter of justice, the cruel oppressor, the horrid murderer, to tender or distant admonitions, from him who delivers a message of vengeance from the Lord of hosts, , and the Judge of heaven and earth?
The truth is, they who call themselves the polite people of the world, and have indeed some delicacy in matters of ceremony, and external civility, are, generally speaking, so grossly corrupt and wicked, so foul in their affections, so outrageous in their passions, so enormous in their actions, that hell, opened in the most heightened descriptions, seems to be the very doctrine of all Christianity that is peculiarly adapted to them. But if they will not bear such descriptions, let them stay away from the house of God, and then we shall have less foppery and vanity, less bowing and grimace, less whispering and ogling, less inattention in the house of prayer; less pride, pomp, and parade, in the house of humiliation : we shall, in a word, have again congregations of Christians in our churches, instead of our present very genteel assemblies; which want nothing else but wine, dancing, and cards, to turn them into ridottoes. Then the plain, wellmeaning, people, who come hither to confess their sins, and deprecate the judgments of an offended God, will not be perpetually called off from that solemn work, by every new idol that enters to flaunt it in silk and jewels. We Christians meet here for no other purpose, but to worship God, and hear his word; and we shall do both the better for having none among us, but such as come with the same intention. If the mention of hell and damnation from the pulpit should scare others away, it is neither a loss to religion nor us, even although they should go to soothe their guilt with cards and dice, which is but an insult on God's day; whereas they seldom come hither, but to insult that, his house and worship.
It is surely the business of every one who appears here as a Christian, to give all his attention to the prayers, while they are repeated ; and to the word of God, when that is read or explained. If the Lord promises, let them hope and rejoice; if he threatens, let them fear and tremble. We must think both alike useful, both highly necessary, if we know ourselves. And it is the business of us, who officiate, not only to display the gracious promises of our Master to such as diligently seek for glory, honour, and immortality;' but also faithfully to inculcate his menaces of judgment, and fiery indignation,' to the stupid, the hardened, and impenitent; that, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we may thereby persuade men to forsake their sins, and turn to God.'
And now, may the holy and all-powerful Spirit prosper this blessed work in our hands, and your hearts, that all our hopes and fears may operate together for our entire conversion, and eternal salvation, through Christ our Saviour; to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now, and for evermore. Amen.
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE
NECESSITY OF FAITH THEREIN.
Heb. x. 38, 39.
The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have
no pleusure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them who
believe, to the saving of the soul.
THERE are two things strongly set before us in this passage of Scripture; first, That it is by faith we are to hope for salvation, and eternal life; and, secondly, That, of consequence, he who draws back from this faith, or apostatizes, having lost the principle of life, brings on himself perdition, or damnation. Immediately after asserting, in these words, the importance of faith, the apostle goes on to tell us what faith is; and then, by a long enumeration of its effects, shews what it had done before, and under the law, in them who had not received the promise, that is, the thing promised, which was Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the righthand of the throne of God;' chap. xii. 2. In this we see the Christian faith sufficiently distinguished from all other kinds of faith, both by him in whom we are to believe, and by that
which we are to believe of him; namely, that it was he who was promised by God, not only as a Redeemer to Israel, but as that seed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed' with light, through his instructions; and with remission of sins, through his blood. To inculcate this doctrine, and thereby to shew the superiority of the Christian above the Mosaic dispensation, was the scope of the whole epistle, the substance whereof the inspired author recapitulates, and farther enforces, as he proceeds, from my text to the end.
Whatsoever therefore this great teacher hath told us, either in person, or by his Spirit, speaking through the apostles, is the matter of that faith, on which so great a stress is laid. God did not become our Redeemer and Comforter, to teach us trifles, or things of so little moment, as to leave us excusable, if inattentive to them. If he speaks, we may be sure it is on a subject of great importance; we may be sure it is perfectly true in itself, and highly useful to mankind; and therefore cannot be neglected by us, without a grievous crime, nor contradicted, without a mortal sin. But as what he hath delivered, although highly important in all its parts, is not equally important; so the ignorance of some things is both a smaller loss, and a less sin, than that of others. By faith, when it is made necessary to the salvation of all, to whom sufficient evidence is offered, is to be understood a firm belief of the important articles, or doctrines, which relate alike to all mankind, as containing whatsoever is to be universally known or practised. What these are we must know, and that they are true, we must believe, or we cannot be saved; we, I mean, to whom God hath been pleased to communicate the means of this knowledge and faith.
Nothing in Scripture is more clearly and strongly declared, than that faith in Christ is the first, the fundamental means of salvation. St. Paul takes a world of pains to shew us, that it is faith which justifies ;' and not only in my text, but in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, and in the third of his Epistle to the Galatians, repeats what we find, Hab. ii. 4, · The just shall live by his faith ;' plainly intimating, that he is rendered just in the sight of God by faith, and, being justified, is rewarded, through the imputed