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murders, drunkenness, and such like, of which I foretell you as I have before said, that they who do such things, shall not obtain the kingdom of God.”1

My chief aim in the present chapter, is to demonstrate that this doctrine is not incompatible with right reason, or with our ideas of God's justice and clemency.

I might bring forward the following argument commonly urged by divines in vindication of this truth: That penalty, they say, is just which is in proportion to the malice or moral deformity of the offence. But everlasting punishment is in proportion to the malice or moral deformity of sin, which is an offence against God; therefore, the penalty of everlasting punishment is just. The malice of any offence depends chiefly on the dignity of the person offended, and on the special relations that exist between the offender and the offended. So that the greater the dignity of the person offended and the more sacred the duties violated, the greater is the malice of the offence.

Now, the dignity of God, whom man offends by sin, is infinite and the duties that man violates by offending God are the most sacred. They conclude, therefore, that the malice or moral deformity of sin is the greatest that can be conceived; and that consequently, it justly deserves the greatest of all punishments.

As this reasoning, however, may not seem con

1 Gal. V., 19-21.

vincing to the general reader, I shall pass it over, and content myself with another argument, which I think ought to commend itself to every impartial



The Scriptures declare that nothing defiled shall enter the kingdom of heaven,' and that only the clean of heart shall ascend to the mount of the Lord and stand in His holy place. This truth of Revelation is at once approved by our reason : for our conception of the sanctity of God and of His eternal dwelling-place, demands that the citizens of His kingdom should be exempt from moral defilement; that the sinner should be excluded from heaven as long as his defilement remains; and that consequently, should he abide in an eternal habit of sin, he ought to be for ever excluded from the kingdom of heaven.

Let us represent to ourselves a man whose life is given up to the gratification of his sensual desires, "whose god is his belly," whose imagination revels in scenes of debauchery, whose heart is estranged from God and His law. Suppose he dies in one of these orgies; surely, you will admit that in the swift transition from time to eternity, he does not pass through a purifying ordeal to fit him for the kingdom of heaven. The sleep of death does not alter the dispositions of his heart; for just as we are assured that the blessed will bear to the future life, the elevation of soul, the love of God,

1 Rev. XXI.

2 Ps. XXIII., 3.

and the aspirations for the good, the beautiful and the true that animated them in their dying moments, so shall the slave of lust awake in eternity encumbered with the passions of an ill-spent life:

"Coelum, non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt."

Even as they who cross the sea, may change the clime, but not their disposition; so in crossing the sea of life, the sensual man lands on the shores of eternity in the same frame of mind that he had in this world.

Repentance alone can now reconcile him to God. But what is repentance? It does not mean every kind of sorrow. Repentance and sorrow are not convertible terms. Repentance always involves sorrow; but sorrow does not always imply repentance. True repentance does not mean the envious regrets of the wicked who "shall be troubled with great fear, and shall be amazed at the suddenness of the salvation" of the righteous, "saying within themselves, repining and groaning for anguish of spirit: These are they whom we had sometime in derision, and for a parable of reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness, and their end without honor. Behold how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints. Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us. We wearied ourselves in the way of iniquity and destruction, and have walked through hard ways, but the way

of the Lord we have not known. What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All these things are passed away like a shadow, and . . . we are consumed in our wickedness. Such things as these the wicked said in hell."1

The consideration of past iniquity brings some indeed to salutary repentance, as happened to Magdalen, the Prodigal Son, and the thief on the cross; but we know from daily observation that it tends to harden many others.

Again, repentance does not mean the throwing of a mantle over a heart remaining corrupt, just as a foul heap is covered with snow.

Repentance is from within. It signifies a sincere regret for transgressions because they are displeasing to our Creator, a change of heart, a turning to God, by yearning for "holiness, without which no man shall see God.” 2

The heart is not moved without a motive-power. Where will the sinner who has entered into his eternity, find the lever to lift him from the mire in which he wallowed? Where will he find that influence to inspire him with holy aspirations? Not in himself; for the fountain of the heart is poisoned, and no new element of strength has been added to his soul since he passed from time to eternity.

He can find no help in his surroundings, for his companions are on a level with himself.

1 Wisd. V.

2 Heb. XII., 14.


His only hope, then, could be in God. where is the ground of that hope, when the night of life has passed, and the day of eternity has dawned? Salvation is not an inherent right, but a gift of God: "The grace of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord."1

Now the giver has a perfect right to prescribe the conditions on which this gratuitous gift may be received, and the term of time beyond which it cannot be obtained. That he has prescribed certain conditions and limitations, is evident from the only authentic Record we possess of His Revelation to man. The condition is that man should present himself as a saint or a supplicant, with the garments of innocence or of repentance. The obdurate sinner has neither, though he could have had them for the asking. He stands at the threshold of eternity, covered with the rags of infamy, without a single claim on divine justice or mercy, without a spark of love in his heart for the Lord who created him through love, nor a single sentiment in harmony Iwith the life of the citizens of heaven. Is it surprising that he is cast into exterior darkness? God prescribes a term of probation beyond which the door of mercy is to be closed. probation implies some limitation. probation, that is "the acceptable time," when it is given to us "to do good to all men" and so strive for the mastery that we may receive an incorruptible

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