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for the purifying and cleansing process, and we look for new heavens and a new earth characterised by this marvellous change : “ wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Let me now call your attention to some very important Scriptural facts.
First of all, I should wish you to refer to Matt. xxv. 46, as I have something to say about it which I hope you will ponder well before you reject it. It is a description of what the translators are pleased to call the last judgment; instead of which it is a description of the first judgment, that is to say, the judgment in the commencement of the
next dispensation. There have been many days of judgment in the world which are long past, which wound up the then circumstances of the nations or individuals that were involved in them. There was the judgment of the flood, of which men had 120 years' previous warning; that judgment swept away all but a family from the face of the earth, finally doing away with them. And then we have had the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah ; their day of judgment is past, long past. We have had the judgments of Babylon and a number of empires and places; these are all past. But this is the first judgment under the present dispensation, or, rather, it takes place at the close of the present dispensation. And what are we told about it? “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
This passage has been quoted ten thousand times in support of the horrible theory of everlasting conscious suffering; it has also been quoted in support of the dogma of universal restoration. Now I shall endeavour to put before you the utter impossibility of either of these things being true. The Greek words translated everlasting punishment are kólao'y aiuviov. What do these words mean? I shall tell you presently. But, first of all, let me put before you the great fact that the doctrine of restoration or universalism cannot be based upon this passage, because it has to do only with mortal men, and not men in resurrection life. The King sits upon His throne of glory, and deals judgment to the nations; you know He is expected as King; He shall come as King, and in this parable of the sheep and goats He calls before Him all nations and separates the righteous from the unrighteous; and the righteous shall enter into His glory, and the unrighteous shall enter into punishment. Is there any. thing analogous to this in the history of the world ? Have you ever read of a conqueror calling before him the tribes and the nations that he had conquered and dealing with them thusbringing the obedient and submissive under his sceptre and putting the rebels to fire and sword ? I need not send you back through the world's history for instances of this, for they have been furnished in very recent times. Well, that is the idea ; they are going into punishment. What does this word kóðadiv
mean? It means pruning, punishing. Now the universalists have said that as this word means pruning as well as punishing, these people are to be pruned and thus restored. Just take one of your flower-pots to-morrow and cut off a branch from the plant ; what will take place ? The branch will die. What will be the effect upon the flower ? It will improve it. This process is cutting off the rebellious ones who will not submit to the sceptre of King Messiah ; and a double result ensues. First cut off, punish, kill, destroy; and the effect of that is everlasting. The second result is that the loyal nations are vastly improved when they have got rid of these corrupt branches which are doing all the mischief; the pruning, instead of being hurtful, cuts off the rebel and benefits the loyal subject; and that is what King Christ will do when He comes in glory to exercise judgment. Never again have the idea of resurrection in connection with this passage, which refers entirely to the King coming to His throne, a proof that He will pacify the world and bring in a rule of peace, of glorious peace, & reign of victory and conquest and the putting down of evil.
Now let me refer you to 2 Thess. i. 9 and we will go back to the 6th verse—“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble
you troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire ”—when the Lord held His court on Sinai long ago, you know, He was attended by myriads of angels, unhappily translated “myriads of saints,” and many people think they were the souls of departed men ; but the word was angels, as we learn elsewhere, angels in ranks; when He returns He will have these ranks of angels—“ taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ : who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Here we have öleOpov aiúvov. Destruction, ruin,
όλεθρον death; these are the definitions of the term used in 2 Thess. ; not life, but death.
2 Peter iii. 7-"But the heavens and the earth, which are now,
the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men." This word útw.elas signifies to kill, to destroy, to perish utterly. Now the men to whom we are indebted for our Greek lexicons had no peculiar doctrine to substantiate ; they had as scholars to give the proper literal definitions of the terms. So that here in Peter and Thessalonians the meaning is absolute literal destruction of the person and of his life. “But," you say,
“But,” you say, “ do not the Scriptures teach that the finally impenitent are to be tormented ? ” Let us see. I do find men tormented in the Book of Revelation (ix. 4-6), but I also find the fact that they are alive and in the flesh, and wish to die to escape the torment, and death flees from them. There is no instance in the Book of God of disembodied souls subjected to
torment. Now I want you to consider this. All the dealings of God in this matter are with men upon the earth, and not at all with “ disembodied souls "-words unknown to Scripture. “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them,”—which means that the torments would cease as soon as death took place—“but that they should be tormented five months : and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death,”—death is deliverance from torment, of course—"and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Now how is this reconcilable with the invisible post-mortem hell about which men speak? The thing will have a reality-a dread reality-but it will be the last, the end of being to them, the second death.
Then we have in Rev. xiv. 9-11 also a áread picture of torments. “If any man,”—of those living upon the earth at that time“worship the beast, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,
and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” This is all very awful; but the great fact is that Christ will be present, and will be visible, and His holy angels, executing judgment upon the earth; and those rebels who worship the beast instead of Christ will be tormented. You remember the plagues of Egypt; the plagues of the Apocalypse are of the same character upon a vastly greater scale. The plagues of the Apocalypse have their root and initial meaning in the plagues of Egypt, just as Pharaoh was a type of this wilful King the beast.
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.” Ascendeth up to the ages, as an undying memorial ; just as the ruins of ancient Babylon prove that it was burnt, and as the Dead Sea marks the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed by fire and brimstone; the memorial of the judgment will last unto
And now mark: “And they have no rest day nor night.” What does that mean? Eternity ? No. You do not speak of day and night when speaking of eternity. They have no rest day nor night on earth. They worship the beast, and as long as they do this rest will be impossible ; for it is the day of judgment, and the Lord is the judge, and He will reign until he hath put all enemies under His feet.
“Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth." You will find this on
many a gravestone, but it is misapprehended. The persecutions of the Antichrist, the sufferings of the Christians of those days who were not ready when the Lord came, will be so fearful, that the statement is true, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth,” for they escape the torments of those who worship the Beast, and they rest from their labours, and their works follow them. They would not, they will not, worship the Beast. Death flees from the rebels that do this; but comes as a blessed deliverance to the loyal servants of Jesus Christ.
One passage more, brethren; a passage of extreme importance, as it embraces the whole of this doctrine about life and death. 2 Cor. ii. 14-16,“Now, thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish : to the one
we are the savour of death unto death: and to the other the savour of life unto life.” Literally, “To these it is the odour of death unto death; to those the odour of life unto life.” Life given in Christ to all who receive Him; and in the case of those who will not receive Him, death. In this passage, as in multitudes of others, we have this thing: life bestowed by Him Who only hath immortality, upon mortal beings; for the root of all the mischief that has for ages cast its black shadow upon the bright character of our Father is the pagan notion that man as such has an immortal soul. There is only one Being in the universe that can say, “I live for ever,” and that is God; and Christ has God's life in Him, and He imparts this life to believers, and that constitutes the hope of the Christian-the hope of immortality in his immortal Head ; that is the doctrine of Scripture, and God was justified in saying that His creation was “ very good” because He meant it to be the theatre of a splendid redemption, which, in its issues, was to put an end to evil, an end to sin, to pain, to tears, to sorrow, to death for ever.
A cleansed universe, dear brethren, is to me a splendid, a wonderful idea. God said "Very good," and He will say it again when .
“ He looks down from His heavenly throne upon a restored world, handed back to Him by His glorious Son, a world-wide empire brought into subjection to holiness and truth.
Age after age men have sinned and suffered, although with our sufferings there are mingled multitudes of mercies which call for thanksgiving; age after age tempest, war, pestilence, and famine have come and
the earth has drunk the blood of its inhabitants through countless generations. Shall these things last for ever ? God's character says no; Christ's work says no; the nature of man, who is only mortal except he be in Christ, says no; the whole arrangement of this Book declares no; and one looks forward with exceeding joy to the time when the former things with their tears and sorrow and sin and suffering and death shall be done away to make room for the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Now just look at the text for a moment. Mark it well. God is seen wiping away tears from the eyes of men. He loves them, then. They are His children. He is kind, compassionate. Tears are the sign of sorrow and grief. God wipes away tears, that is to say, by having put an end to all grief and all sorrow. No tears, means no cause for tears, nothing to be sorry for. And there shall be no more death. “O death, I will be thy
O destruction.” The destruction of death enters into the arrangement of Christ's redemption. What does that mean?
It means the bestowal of immortality, of His own sinless immortality ; for you may rely upon it that such a thing as an immortal sinner is entirely out of the question ; it would be a monster in God's creation.
“Neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Now let me remark that any being who is capable of pain is by that fact proved to be mortal; he who suffers has in that suffering a proof that he must go down to the dust some day. Nothing can be immortal but that which is perfectly sinless; and this brings us back to the fact that Christ Jesus came to give “life.” Again and again the Gospel puts this truth in this condensed form. I have heard men say: “We have this immortal soul and we cannot get rid of it; God Himself cannot destroy it if He would.” This is gross blasphemy, and a thorough misunderstanding of the Divine meaning of redemp
You have been told that Christ came to give us happiness, and to take away sufferings and sorrow; He came to redeem men, and so to make them fit for a blessed heaven. But, brethren, we must take God's words to mean what they say ; the interpretations of commentators under the influence of traditional theology will lead you astray; but if you accept what is set before you in this Book you will not mistake.
The Lord Jesus came that we mortals might have life in Him. This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. That this includes blessedness is certain; for eternal life in misery is unknown to the Bible.
Let me explain my meaning in a few words. It is not the belief of certain truths to which I am referring. It is the reception of life. The gift to us of an immortal soul? Not that. It is the in-breathing of Christ's nature, Christ's life into us, that constitutes the Christian. The spirit of life or the life of Christ given to a man makes him one with Christ, and there is the basis of immortality, of incorruptibility, for that is the word. Not an immortal man, but a man made incorruptible in the image of Christ; a thorough man, a man after the image of Christ, Who is the image of God; that is God's idea of perfect manhood.
Well now, finally, if this view be correct, you see why God insists