« PreviousContinue »
called by the i Chaldee paraphrast “the Gehenna of everlasting fire.”
But Archbishop Tillotson says “ The Scripture loves to make use of sensible representations, to set forth to us the happiness and misery of the next life; partly by way of condescension to our understandings, and partly to work more powerfully on our affections. For while we are in the body, and immersed in sense, we are most apt to be moved by such descriptions of things as are sensible; and therefore the torments of wicked men in hell are usually in scripture described to us by one of the quickest and sharpest pains that human nature is ordinarily acquainted with, namely, by the pain of burning. But we cannot from these and the ' like expressions certainly determine that this is the true and proper pain of hell : all that we can infer from these descriptions is this, that the sufferings of wicked men in the other world shall be very terrible, and as great and probably greater than can possibly be described to us by any thing that we are now acquainted with. These forms of speech, seem to be calcu. lated and accommodated to our capacities, and not so much intended to express to us the proper and real torments of hell, as to convey to us in a more sensible and affecting manner the sense of what the scripture says in general, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Dr. m Clarke also asserts that “the exact nature and manner of the future punishment of the wicked, any further than is in general necessary to deter us from sin, is not distinctly revealed to us.”
i See Bishop Lowth's most excellent comment on Isai. XII. 33. and Chald. Isai, xxyi. 19. k Serm. on Luke xvi. 19, 20. vol. i. Serm. lxxii, fol. ! Luke xvi. 24.
Whatever sentiments thinking men, intimately acquainted with the scriptures, entertain on this subject; whether that God will for ever inflict a positive punishment on the wicked ; or that, after a punishment exactly proportioned to their offences, he will annihilate them; or that a privation of being by fire will be the mode of everlasting destruction with which he will punish them ; revelation is express that their punishment will be dreadful, and coeval with their existence.
I must further observe a plain implication in our Lord's language, that the degree of future rewards and punishments will be adapted to our respective merits or demerits: and add to what has been oalready suggested on this point, that for some it is prepared to sit on our Lord's P right and left hand in his glorious kingdom ; and that some will receive more 4 abundant condemnation.
m Serm. xiv. on the goodness of God, p. 91. fol. a 2 Thess. 1. 9. • p. 10, note 5-10. P Matt. xs. 23. and parallel places. 9 Matt. xxiii. 14. & p.p.
WHAT HE TEACUES OF GOOD AND EVIL SPIRITS.
WE learn from our Lord's discourses that the heavenly angels are a a numerous host; that they do • God's will in heaven; that they are raised above the imperfect condition of humanity, and are d holy,
glorious, and fimmortal beings; that they are & acquainted with many of God's counsels, though not with all ; that they are occasionally ministering spirits to mankind, both in a this life and the i next; that at the last day our Lord shall come to judgment, and all k the holy angels with him; that he shall · send them forth, and they shall sever the wicked from among the just; and that in their presence he will ** confess those who boldly confess him before men, and deny those who timidly deny him.
Our Lord speaks of evil angels and their head in the following terms ; depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, , prepared for the Devil and his angels. He addresses his Tempter by the appellation of ° Satan ; and the history of the temptation exhibits this apostate spirit under his proper character, as the enemy of all righteousness. The P evil one, Satan, and the Devil, are used by him as equivalent terms. [This wicked being is called . Satan, because he is the grand adversary of God and goodness; and he is called the Devil, because he is their grand' calum. niator.] Our Lord further says, that the unbelieving and wicked Jews were of their father the Devil, and willingly executed his desires; who was a manslayer from the beginning, as he seduced our first parents into the commission of a crime which subjected them to death; and who abode not in the truth, but deceived by lies the progenitors of the human race, and was indeed the original framer " of falsehood. In another place evil men are styled by our Lord "children of the evil one; his imitators, and partakers of his malignity. Christ also represents Satan as erecting a * kingdom opposite to God's kingdom of righteousness; as a strong man armed, who guardeth his palace, but as y overcome, disarmed and spoiled by one stronger than he ; as the enemy who sowed
* Matt. xxvi. 53.
c Matt. xxii. 30. 4 Matt. xxv. 31. Mark viii. 38. Luke ix. 26. • Luke is. 26. fLuke xx. 36.
& Matt. xxiv. 36. Mark xiii. 32. h Matt. xviii. 10. i Luke xvi. 22. * Matt. xxv. 31. lib. xiii. 41, 49. m Luke xii. 8, 9. n Matt xxy. 41. • Matt. iv. 10 Luke iv. 8. P Comp, Matt. xiii. 19. Mark iv. 15. Luke viii. 12.
9 In Hebrew up signifies adversari. In three places ó retain Ixtar, in three they translate the word by iviernes, and in seventeen by Siz'Boxes. See Kircher's conc. Gen. iii. 5. he brought a false accusation against God, as concealing knowledge from mankind. In the book of Job, (which is a true history poetically adorned, Satan is dra. matically introduced as attributing Job's integrity to a wrong motive, and falsely asserting that it would not bear the test of adversity. c. i. 9, 10, 11. c. ii. 5. And in the bold language of the Apocalypse he is represented as the Accuser of the brethren, as having accused faithful Christians before God day and night. c. xii. 10. It seems probable that he acted this part towards his fellow angels in heaven. & Gen. iii. 4. * And probably the apostate angels. remarkable passage John viii. 44. w Matt. xii. 38. * Matt. xii. 26. Luke xi. 18. y Luke xi. 21, 22. and parallel places. * Matt. xü. 25, 39.
See that very
tares among the good seed; and as * taking away the word sown in the hearts of men, lest they should believe and be saved. (He repeatedly calls him the prince of this world ; and describes this bruler in the hearts of wicked men as coming to inflict on him heavy evils, but finding in him no sin to strengthen his power over him'; as d cast out of his dominion in the hearts of men ; (as. judged and condemned to suffer loss, by having his kingdom of idolatry and vice contracted. When the seventy returned, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us through thy name ; he thus figuratively expressed the rapid propagation of his gospel,' which tended to establish a kingdom of righteousness; I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. He thus addressed the apostles, when they were in danger of defection from him: « Behold, s Satan hath desired you, to sift you as wheat;" to shake and overcome your constancy, through fear of the Jewish rulers. Many - learned men have thought that our Lord used the populat language of the times, when he represented the woman, who had been bowed together for eighteen years, as i bound by Satan; and when he addressed those who are called demoniacs in the gospels, as really under the power of impure and evil spirits. In some places there is an ambiguity in our Lord's manner of expressing himself, as it is transmitted
* Mark iv. 15. and p. p. 6 See Eph. ii. 2. vi. 12. • John xiv. 30. See Luke iv. 13. xxii. 53. * John xii. 31. • John Xvi. 11. f Luke x. 17, 18. & Luke xxii. 31. h See on this subject Joseph Medle, Disc. vi; Doctor Mead, Medica Sacra ; Sykes ; Lardner ; and a late very able treatise by Mr. Farmer. Luke xiii. 16.