The following two positions will be admitted without question, it is believed, by all Christians. If endless punishment be true, it is terribly true to all those who are in danger, - wherein is found another powerful reason why it should have been made known in the clearest manner, on the very morning of creation! In the clearest manner:
The following two positions will be admitted without question, it is believed, by all Christians. If the doctrine of endless punishment be, as affirmed by its believers, absolutely and indispensably necessary to the preservation of virtue, and to perfect obedience to the laws of God; if this be the salutary and saving influence of the doctrine, then it constitutes one of the strongest possible reasons for its being revealed to man at the very earliest period of the world's history.
If endless punishment be true, it is terribly true to all those who are in danger, - wherein is found another powerful reason why it should have been made known in the clearest manner, on the very morning of creation! In the clearest manner: Rather than that there should even be the possibility of a mistake in a matter of such vast and fearful moment, it should have been graven by special miracle into every soul that God sent into the world.
Let us, then, proceed to inquire if we have any such revelation of the doctrine. When God created Adam and Eve, The name trifles and its significance placed them in the garden of Eden, did He announce to them any law for their observance, having attached to it the penalty in question?
Surely justice demanded, if He had forced them into being subject to this awful peril, that He should set out before them both the law and its punishment in the most specific manner. Did He do this? Where is the record of it?
Read diligently the first and second chapters of Genesis, and see if anything of this sort is recorded there, in connection with the creation of man. In chapter iiwe have this statement: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: They are simply commanded not to eat of the forbidden tree.
Now, whether this is understood in a literal or allegorical sense, we cannot suppose that we have here the formal announcement of a divine law, which claimed the obedience of all mankind on the penalty of endless torment. We certainly cannot believe that God would open the great drama of our life on this earth, involving such infinite consequences, in such brief and doubtful language, and with so little specification where so much was needed.
As regards the penalty of disobeying the commandment, do we find any statement which can be mistaken for endless punishment?
God says, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;" but this is very far from saying, "Thou shalt, after the death of the body, be subjected to the torments of an endless hell. So terrible a doctrine must not be assumed, but demonstrated by unquestionable evidence.
Who can believe that God would reveal so frightful a punishment in language so easily misunderstood - by the single word "die," a term employed in such a variety of senses, capable of such a wide latitude of usage?
Would any earthly parent, if the immortal salvation of his children were at stake, have been so careless of his speech?
Would he have chosen language so liable to be mistaken? Would he not rather have announced the awful truth in words which would admit of no possible doubt? Beside, if the terrors of this punishment are so effectual in preventing transgression, this was another reason for a specific declaration of the consequences of disobedience.
If the argument on this point is good, a plain, open threat of endless woe at the very gate of Eden, as they entered, might have kept them back from the forbidden tree, and saved them and our race from the dreadful evils which followed the introduction of sin into the world.
But let us now turn to the record of their transgression, and of some other examples, where, if the doctrine is of divine origin and authority, we may surely expect to find it announced, and the weight of its awful curse brought down upon the guilty victims.
As this is the beginning of the sorrowful tragedy of evil, we may look for some distinct revelation of the doctrine in review, if it is of God; yet not one word is said in reference to it, nor is there any threat of punishment that can be mistaken for it! The serpent is cursed, and the ground is cursed; but neither the man nor the woman!
And observe carefully all the words of the sentence, and while mention is made of evils to be endured in this life, not the most distant allusion is made to any evil or punishment beyond this life.
Now, if the doctrine of interminable torment after death be true, how are we to account for this? Can it be possible that God would be so careful to mention all the lesser evils, and wholly omit all mention of the terrible woes that are to have no end?
Who can believe that a just lawgiver and ruler would deal thus with his people? And of all things who can believe that the divine Father would deal thus treacherously with His own children? But how differently the case stands, when we come to the doctrine of a present retribution for sin.
In the very outset God warns our first parents against transgression, and in the most positive terms declares to Adam, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. In the very day of transgression they should die, or suffer the punishment of their sin, and this surely, beyond question or doubt.
And was this assurance of God fulfilled? Most certainly; for they had no sooner sinned, than the retribution began, and they died to the peace and joy of innocence.
The day of transgression was the day of judgment.
They found that the wages of sin were death, or, in other words, misery, fear, anguish, and all the direful consequences of wrong. And that their case may profit their posterity, a careful statement of the mournful consequences of the transgression is made up, and put on record as a warning to future generations.
Cain; or the murder of Abel. Here we have an example of the greatest of all crimes, murder - the murder of a brother! Surely we may now expect the doctrine of endless punishment to be revealed; and it would seem that, if true, there is no possible way to avoid mention of it.
This was the first instance of this awful crime, and, Cain standing exposed to the fearful penalty, this was the time to roll the thunder of its terrors through the world, as a warning to all coming generations!Turnitin provides instructors with the tools to prevent plagiarism, engage students in the writing process, and provide personalized feedback.
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