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After having quoted three or four verses from this Psalm, Luther Lee remarks; "This is their end, which the Psalmist learned in the sanctuary of God, and if their end is to be cast down into destruction, and to be utterly consumed with terrors, they cannot be saved." Such is Mr. Lee's argument. It proceeds on this false assumption, that, by the end of the wicked, is meant their endless destiny in the immortal state. We deny that position. We say, by the end of the wicked, in that place, nothing relating to their eternal destiny was intended. Take one passage in proof of this, out of fifty which we might quote; "Son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; an end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations." "An end is come, the end is come; it watcheth for thee; BEHOLD, IT IS COME !" &c. &c. Ezek. vii. 1–15. Now, this was the end of the wicked of which Ezekiel spoke; and, so far from putting it in the future state, he said, "BEHOLD, IT IS COME ! Let Mr. Lee, or any other writer, adduce a passage which states, that the end of the wicked is destruction in the immortal state, and then he will do something to his purpose.


XX. "The Lord preserveth all them that love him; but all the wicked will he destroy." Psalm cxlv. 20.

This text is adduced by Strong, and some others, in proof of endless misery. But what possible proof. does it furnish? Does it say, that God will destroy the wicked in the future state? It says nothing of the kind. Now, that is the very thing to be proved. Is it intimated, that this destruction is endless? Not at all. Is the least reference made here to the immortal condition of man in any way? Certainly not. It is useless, then, to adduce the passage as proof of endless misery.

XXI. “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as a desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." Prov. i. 26-29.

This seems to be a prominent text with the believers in endless misery. Edwards, Davis, Strong, Hawes, Lee, and almost every other writer who has defended endless misery, has adduced it for that purpose. Against this array of authority, we bring forward the simplicity of divine truth.

We object to the common interpretation of this passage, that there is not the least reference in the passage, to the immortal existence; there is no reference to physical death, no reference to the subsequent resurrection, no reference to eternity. If there be such reference, let it be pointed out. The common understanding is, that this language is to be addressed by Jehovah to the sinner at the day of judgment. But, that this supposition is not correct, see the 20th verse. "Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets, " &c. And then, "Because I [wisdom] have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my [wisdom's] counsel, and would none of my [wisdom's] reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity,' &c. Here, we see, it is wisdom personified, that addresses the children of men in this manner. Wisdom says to every man, if you do not attend to my words, and give heed to my counsels, I shall not assist you in the day of your sorrows. You will call upon me then, but I cannot benefit you; because you have slighted my reproof. The experience of every foolish man proves the truth of Solomon's words. Even if fools prosper, it is but for a moment; for "the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." ver. 32.


Dr. Adam Clarke honestly confesses, in the same paragraph in which he insists most earnestly upon the

endless damnation of the sinner, that the passage we are considering has no reference to the eternal state of men. "Nor can any thing spoken here be considered as applying, or applicable, to the eternal state of the persons in question; much less to the case of any man convinced of sin, who is crying to God for mercy." Com. on the place.

XXII. "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” Prov. v. 5.

Here we have an instance of the parallelism which we so frequently meet with in Hebrew poetry. The same truth is stated in both parts of the verse. "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on (sheol) hell." Here death and sheol, or hell, are used in precisely the same sense. The sense of the passage is, that the society of a lewd woman, of whom Solomon was speaking, would bring a man to an early, sudden, or ignominious death. Prof. Stuart's remarks are very reasonable on this point. He says; "To die, in the usual manner, is not a special penalty of wickedness; and, therefore, the threats of death, directed against particular acts of wickedness, can never be rationally regarded as having reference to any thing but sudden, premature, and violent death. That the wicked shall not live out half their days,' is an assurance, repeated in many forms, and in a great variety of ways, in the Old Testament scriptures. In this point of view, it is possible, I concede, to interpret all the texts which exhibit sheol as having a reference merely to the grave; and, therefore, it is possible to interpret such ones as Prov. v. 5; ix. 18, and xxiii. 14, as designating a death violent and premature, inflicted by the hand of heaven." Exeget. Essays, p. 3.


XXIII. "When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perisheth." Prov. xi. 7.

This is one of the texts frequently adduced in proof of endless misery; Edwards, Davis, Strong, Hawes, and many others, quote it for that purpose. There is no truth more frequently or more clearly declared in the

word of God, than that the expectations of the wicked shall perish. The hopes of wicked men are principally placed on the present life. They hope for great happiness, for plenty, for long life; but their wickedness frequently cuts short their existence, and all their expectations flee away at once. The passage has no reference to the future state. Warburton says, on this text; "It appears by the context, (that is, by the whole tenor of these moral precepts and aphorisms,) that the expectation which should deceive is that of worldly, wicked men to establish themselves in their prosperity." Divine Legation, Book vi. Sec. 3.

XXIV. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness; but the righteous hath hope in his death" Prov. xiv. 32.

This passage is almost precisely of the same import with the one we last considered. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, that is, he finds no stability in iniquity; he is like the chaff, which the wind driveth away. But does the passage assert, that the wicked are driven into endless punishment? No; it asserts nothing of the kind. In order to express the common doctrine which is inferred from this passage, it should read, "the wicked is driven into endless punishment in the future world;" but as nothing of that kind is said, so we presume nothing like it is meant. Warburton says, concerning the above passage; "The righteous hath hope that he shall be delivered from the most imminent dangers. So the Psalmist; upon them that hope in his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.' And again; 'thou hast delivered my soul from death; wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living."" Divine Legation, Book vi. Sec. 3.


XXV. "For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out." Prov. xxiv. 20.

As strange as it may seem, yet Strong and Hawes both adduce this passage in proof of endless punishment. Is there the least reference here to the immortal exis

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tence? Not at all. Do not the wicked frequently find punishment in this world? Is not their candle frequently put out here? Are they not in darkness here?

XXVI. "He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." Prov. xxix. 1.

Almost all the defenders of endless misery quote this text. But there are several particulars which ought to be clearly expressed in this text, in order to give it power to support a hereafter, endless punishment, which are not thus expressed. 1. That the destruction here meant is in a future state. Of this, the text says nothing. 2. That one destroyed, in a scripture sense, cannot find help, or deliverance. This is not stated in the text. If it be said, the text says, "without remedy," it may be replied, that this may mean no more, than that the destruction in the case pointed out cannot be prevented; or it may mean, that in the sense in which the destruction takes place, restoration is not to be expected. The house of Israel may be considered as an example of our subject. God was pleased to reprove them often by his prophets, but no people were ever more hardened, or more miserably destroyed. The prophet Hosea says, xiii. 9, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." Thus we see sinners may be destroyed, and yet afterwards find help in the Lord.

XXVII. "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.' Eccl. xii. 14.

And here we inquire, as we have done in many other cases, is the least reference made to the future state of existence? Is it said, "God shall bring every work into judgment" in the future, immortal existence? No such statement is made. The Saviour said, when on earth, "Now is the judgment of this world," John xii. 31; "for judgment I am come into this world," ix. 39; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth," Psalms lviii. 11. In the light which these passages,


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