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see the effects or not, our children will rise up and call us blessed. But,
3. They must have the benefit of our example. If we are found opposing the work of the Lord, are unwilling to be enlightened, and are vexed at every solicitation of charity, we shall have children in our own likeness, and they will live only to prolong our disgrace. But if we march up to the work of the Lord ourselves; if our children hear us pray earnestly for the devoted missionary, and see us afflicted when we have missed any opportunity to give of our substance to the Lord, and glad when opportunity presents, and generous in our contributions; they will naturally imbibe the same spirit, and we shall be honored, and God will be served in our offspring. If we are afraid that a course like this will render us poor, and injure our children, it is either because we lack the necessary information, or doubt the truth of the promise. It is plainly written and easily understood, “Give early of thy substance to the Lord; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses burst out with new wine.” Now what parent that believes this text to be the word of the Lord, would not rather, far rather, that his children could have a claim to this promise, than any possible human security for the stability and the increase of their fortune? It affixes to every bond we hold the seal of heaven; secures the timely shower, the prosperous breeze, the wisdom necessary to plan our concerns, and the happy combination of circumstances, in every hour when we shall need the interference of a heavenly friend.
Let us, then, leave our children a well-selected library, a mind well cultivated, a conscience awake to duty, a heart habituated to feel the woes of another, and, depend upon it, our estates will be more secure, and our offspring better provided for, than if we should leave them with the opposite habits, in the possession of a kingdom.
Do you say, none but God can do all this for our children? True : and all that is required of us is, that we wish it done, that we entreat him to do it, that we set the example and use the means required. Then if our children will not be obedient, we can have peace in death, and the curse of being their destroyer, will be removed from our shoulders. But we need have no such fears. The frequent and extensive revivals with which God is blessing the churches, gives encouraging promise, that from among the rising generation there is to be selected an army of combatants, who are to march under the captain of their salvation to victory and glory. There is more hope that our children will be saved, than there has been, with respect to any generation that has ever inhabited the globe. If this is the period predicted in the context, and there are many indications that it is, then the promise is, “Thy children shall all be taught of the Lord.” Or if this prediction is not to receive its full accomplishment, till the lapse of a century, still its partial accomplishment may be the inheritance of our children.
III. The course described will render them happy. “Great shall be the peace of thy children.” The evident indications of Providence are, that there has dawned a new era of the Church. If then we do our duty to our children, set the example and enforce the precepts required, our hope may be that they will be among the ornaments of the risen and rising generation. They will go into life with habits suited to the sphere in which they are to act. They will associate with a benevolent community, will have a delightful employ, will witness most glorious displays of the wisdom and power of God, and will doubtless have those communications of the Spirit which create the best possible enjoyments of a rational mind. If these hopes are not all a dream what a blessing it now is to be a parent.
When our hearts have ached for our children, how such a hope would have cheered us. If they may live and act worthily amid the scenes of such a period, it is quite enough. AMEN.
THE BRIDGELESS GULF.
LUKE xvi. 26. And, besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed : so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot ; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The evident meaning of the text is, that the rich man could expect no relief from heaven. Not only could Lazarus bring him none, but none could be brought. There was no communication between the two worlds. They were forever separated by an impassable gulf! and whether its bottomless caverns will ever be filled, or a bridge erected, I shall, at present, leave those to guess, who venture to doubt the plainest text, who dare to die in their sins, who hope to reach heaven by the way of hell, and who hang that forlorn hope upon a straw.
Two points the parable settles : that the wicked shall be punished, and that they shall be punished after death. The rich man had received his good things. Now the beggar receives his ; and the gulf that separates them is impassable. Christ did not make Abraham say that the rich man had received part of his good things, and that the gulf was not passable at present. We seem to be taught the irreparable loss of his soul. To say the contrary is to charge Christ with using a figure calculated to deceive, and this is to blasphemously impeach his truth and his goodness.
Christ would not have represented the rich man as dying, and then lifting up his eyes in torment, if sinners were not punished after death. Nor would he have represented him as separated from the smallest comfort by an impassable gulf, if there were any possible relief for those who once make their bed in hell !
And those who deny that there is any hell but the grave, will gain nothing, when they understand this parable. Be it the grave or not, the rich man found it a place of torment; a place where sensitive beings enjoy no comforts, not even a drop of water to cool their tongues ; a place partitioned off from heaven by a gulf impassable. I will here stop to quote one or two texts more, to show the weakness as well as wickedness of supposing that the Scriptures recognise no other hell but the grave. “The wicked shall be turned into hell," and so will the righteous, if this sentiment be correct-for the righteous, as well as the wicked, commonly find a grave. He who does not cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye that offends, is in danger of having his whole body cast into hell. But if hell be only the grave, the whole body must be cast thither, whether the offending member be amputated or not. We read, that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. Did any one ever suppose that the revolting angels were buried in the earth? Who that has common sense, and can use it, ever thought of putting spirits in a grave ? Besides, we read of the fire, the brimstone, the darkness, and the torments of hell! Can this hell be the grave ? My dear hearers, I cannot spend your time to confute an error so weak. Its advocates must be left to their own stupid infatuation.
I shall proceed to inquire, whether the miserable inhabitants of hell have any hope of relief?
I. If their endless punishment is not revealed in the Scriptures, it could not have been. I mean by this remark that every varied form of words and expression is used in the Scriptures, to express this idea, that could be. After the process of the last judgment, the wicked are to go, accursed, into everlasting fire ; where they are to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. And where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever ; and where they shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever. The words here used, are declared by the most approved lexicographers in the Greek and Hebrew languages to mean eternal ; having no end. The same words, and others like them, are used in many texts, to express the duration of the miseries of the damned. And if they do not express endless duration, there are no words in those languages that do. And can we believe that they who used those languages had never received the idea of an eternity, or if they had the idea, had no words with which to express it? If then, the Deity, in revealing his will, made use of the strongest words which human language afforded, to express endless punishment, and yet has failed, how could he have revealed this truth if it had been truth? It seems impossible, unless he had adopted some other mode of making known his will.
I cannot stop, brethren, to hear the quibbling of those, who, although they acknowledge that the fire will burn for ever, believe that the wretched victims will be released. It is as frequently and as strongly expressed, that the finally impenitent shall be punished for ever, as that the fire shall for ever burn. And it would be impeaching the character of God to suppose, that he would feed the flames of Tophet, while there was no employ for its fires. “Their worm shall not die.” They shall be tormented day and night, for ever and ever."
But as to the main doctrine—what would men have had him say, that they might believe it? If he had said, “They shall never escape from hell, would they believe him? This he has said. The very name of that place of misery indicates, that there is no escape. It is called a prison. “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." And as prisons are not usually left unbarred or unlocked, so we hear Christ say of this prison, “I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore ; and have the keys of hell and of death.” And to secure the prisoners still more, they are reserved “in chains under darkness.” Their place of abode is also termed a pit, a furnace, and a lake of fire. These terms imply a place of fearful confinement. The text assures us that an impassable gulf confined the rich man in this perdition.
Had he said, they shall never reach heaven, or be in the place where his people are, and where he is, would this satisfy those who who try to doubt? This he has said. “ Sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous.” “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Christ said to some of the Jews, “Ye shall die in your sins; whither I go ye cannot come.” And in another place he says,
" Where I
ye cannot come.” And the text again bars the finally impenitent out of heaven, by an impassable gulf. “They shall never see life, but the wrath of God abideth on them."
Had he said, Sinners shall never be forgiven, would this have given satisfaction? This he has said. Said the Lord Jesus, "He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” And we read again, that to those who sin wilfully, after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no inore sacrifice for sins. It is predicted, that those who regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operations of his hands, he shall destroy, and not build them