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    TESTIMONY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

    1. John the Baptist. Matthew 3:10 - “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.” It appears to me -SSII 91.2

    This language imports, clearly, an utter extinction of being, and nothing short. Again in the 12th verse, John says of Christ - “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Here the language denotes nothing less than the previous: and is, most clearly, a reference to the words of the Lord by Malachi, chap. 4:1. John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.”SSII 91.3

    John, then, does not teach the common notion of eternal conscious being in torments, but utter destruction of being, if there is any meaning in language. If, then, the Jews did hold the doctrine of endless sin and suffering, or the immortality of the wicked, as some pretend, John’s preaching was directly calculated to overthrow it. The next witness is,SSII 91.4

    2. Jesus Christ, our Lord. Matthew 5:29, 30 - “For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Let it be kept in mind that the term perish, primarily, signifies “to cease to have existence.” Now, I ask the candid, if the one member here is not, by our Lord, put in opposition to the whole body? and if so, is not the sense of this passage expressed thus - If one member is diseased it will cause the whole body to perish unless that member is removed; better, therefore, that one member should be cut off and perish than that the whole body perish.SSII 91.5

    But, again, Matthew 7:13, 14 - “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life.”SSII 92.1

    Here, as destruction is put in opposition to life, and signifies to be consumed; or, as Walker says, “In theology, eternal death,” it cannot mean eternal life in sin and suffering, but a “ceasing to be;” unless we would confound the use of all language, and adopt the notion, that the common people cannot understand the Bible, and therefore it ought not to be put into their hands. In fact, have we not come to that pass already?SSII 92.2

    How much short of this is it, when we are told, at least indirectly, that the language of the Scriptures is so figurative, or mystical, that we are not to give the obvious and literal sense of the words, as in reading other books?SSII 92.3

    But let us hear our Saviour further: Matthew 7:19 - “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.” The same idea and the same language as that used by John the Baptist. I ask if it imports any thing short of utter destruction?SSII 92.4

    Matthew 10:28 - “Fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” I ask if this language does not clearly imply, that God is able to kill the soul? - whatever the term soul imports - and does it not as clearly affirm, that he will kill or destroy utterly the wicked? I have no fear for the answer from the candid and unprejudiced.SSII 92.5

    Once more; Matthew 13:40, 50 - “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” How is it possible for words more clearly to denote an utter destruction of being, accompanied with the most bitter anguish? How can these words be tortured to mean eternal conscious existence in sin?SSII 93.1

    Matthew 16:25, 26 - “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it,” etc. “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”SSII 93.2

    Here is no idea of eternal conscious existence, or a miserable eternal life: but a loss of life. It could not be a loss of the soul, if the soul continues in being. No, says the objector, it means loss of happiness to the soul. I reply, a loss of happiness is one thing, and the loss of the soul is another and a very different thing. Suppose I should interpret the expression, “Whoever will save his life shall lose it,” to signify that the person who seeks to save his life shall lose, not his life, but the happiness of it! Would not the objector himself call it a perversion of the Scriptures? But it is no more a perversion than for him to say, the loss of the soul means only the loss of its happiness.SSII 93.3

    Again, Matthew 18:8, 9 - “Cut off thy hand; pluck out thine eye if” they “cause thee to offend,” for “it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed,” or “with one eye, than to be cast into everlasting” or “hell fire.”SSII 93.4

    Here the punishment is the opposite of life, which it could not be, if the wicked are to have endless life or eternal conscious being.SSII 94.1

    Thus then we fail to find, in the language of our blessed Lord, the doctrine of eternal existence in sin and suffering; but we do find that the punishment of the wicked will result in the loss of life; preceded by sufferings more or less protracted; set forth as the anguish fire produces on this corporeal system, and by the “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” We find, then, if I mistake not, no countenance to the supposed Jewish notion of eternal sin and misery.SSII 94.2

    3. Peter’s Testimony. Acts 3:23 - “Every soul which will not hear that Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” This language cannot relate to a temporary destruction, nor, as some suppose, to a violent destruction from this world, unless it can be shown that all who have refused to hear Christ have been thus destroyed. But this cannot be done; for, many unbelieving Jews have existed on earth to this day.SSII 94.3

    Besides, the original is much more expressive than our translation. The term translated destroyed is exolothreutheesetai; which Dr. Bloomfield in his “critical” notes on the Greek text, edited by Prof. Stuart, - says, “is a word found only in the Septuagint and the later writers; signifying to ‘utterly exterminate.’”SSII 94.4

    In this text, then, we have a clear testimony against the idea of endless sin and suffering, or the immortality of men in sin.SSII 94.5

    Acts 8:20 - “Thy money perish with thee.” Again, 2 Peter 2:1 - “Bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Also 12th verse - “These as natural beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, shall utterly perish.” This, certainly, does not look like teaching the common theory, that the wicked are immortal; and I know not how any form of expression could more forcibly teach the utter extermination of the wicked. At the 17th verse, he says of certain wicked characters, “To whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” This expression, to my mind, carries the idea of a total destruction; as light is sometimes put for life in the Scriptures; as, for example, “the life was the light of man,” so darkness is put for death; and the “mist of darkness forever,” I conceive, implies an utter extinction of being.SSII 95.1

    But again, 3rd. chap. - “The heavens and earth - are reserved unto fire again the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” “Perdition,” according to Walker, signifies “Destruction - Ruin - Death - Loss, Eternal Death.” Which of these definitions favors the common theory of eternal conscious existence?SSII 95.2

    Again at the 9th verse, Peter says: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish,” etc. Lastly he tells us, at the 16th verse, that some “wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.”SSII 95.3

    Thus I have noticed every passage found in Peter’s testimony concerning the final destiny of wicked men; and I ask, if it were not for the trammels thrown around our minds by tradition, if we should ever give any other interpretation to these texts than the plain obvious one of destruction of being? So it seems to me. I come to -SSII 95.4

    4. James’ Testimony. Let us now hear what he has to say. 1st chap. 15th verse, he says: “Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death;” and again, 5th chap. 20th verse, he says: “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death.” How can a man maintain that the soul is “deathless,” with such testimony before his eyes? And why should we submit to this mystifying the plain language of the Holy Spirit to keep an old theory alive, which cannot live in the light of a literal construction of scripture language, and when no good reason can be given for departing from the literal meaning?SSII 95.5

    5. John’s Testimony. 1 John 2:17. “The world passeth away and the lusts thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” The inference is irresistible, that the wicked will not abide forever.”SSII 96.1

    Again - Revelation 20:14, 15. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire:” i.e. they experience the second death, a death of the whole man: and this because they would not come unto Christ that they “might have life.”SSII 96.2

    Let us hear this apostle once more. Revelation 21:8. “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”SSII 96.3

    Other passages in Rev. supposed to refer to the final punishment of the wicked, I have noticed in another place. I leave my hearers to judge to which theory, that of endless being, or destruction of being, the testimony of John belongs.SSII 96.4

    6. Jude’s Testimony. Sixth verse, he says: “The angels which kept not their first estate, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” Here we have an account of sinning angels, and learn that they are “reserved;” but for what are they reserved? First - for judgment; i.e. to be judged; and the fair inference is, they are after that to receive their punishment, according to the declaration of Peter, that “God knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” I suppose it will be admitted by all, who believe in the existence of fallen angels, that they are now tormented; but that is not the punishment they are to have for their sins, though it is a consequence of their sins. What, then, is to be their punishment? Let them speak for themselves. “Art thou come to destroy us?” said they to him of whom the apostle says to the Hebrews, he shall “destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil.” But if the testimony of the devils, nor that of the apostle are sufficient, then hear that of the “Lord God” Himself. Addressing the old serpent, the devil, he said: “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head;” an expression so familiar to all, that I hardly need add, that no language could more forcibly point out the utter destruction of the devil.SSII 96.5

    Again - Jude, speaking of certain wicked characters says, - “Wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” The figure here used denotes an utter, total, and eternal obscuration, or disappearing. - No language could more forcibly denote the utter destruction of the wicked - of their being itself, so that they appear no more forever.SSII 97.1

    7. Testimony of Paul. If there is immortality in sin and suffering, we shall expect to find that doctrine clearly stated by such a writer and preacher as “Paul” the “Apostle of Jesus Christ.” In other words, if the punishment of impenitent sinners is endless life in misery, Paul cannot be supposed to overlook it, who had constantly to preach to sinners of the worst class, and often speaks of their doom. Now, if it should appear that Paul never once gives countenance to the doctrine of the immortality of the wicked, or their conscious being in endless suffering, then it must be evident he did not believe that doctrine. It will be my object to examine fully what Paul did say and teach on this question; and not a text shall be omitted where he touches the subject.SSII 97.2

    In Acts 13:40, 41, Paul utters a strong word of caution to his hearers on the danger of despising the gospel. Does he say, “Behold, ye despisers and wonder and” sink to endless misery? No. What then? “Perish.” This phrase does not mean preserve, under any form or circumstances, but “to decay, to die, to cease to have existence, to be destroyed.” Again, at verse 45, the Jews are found “contradicting and blaspheming,” showing an awful state of wickedness. If Paul is a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, we shall expect him to state in the strongest and most emphatic terms the danger of such wicked conduct: but we find not a word that gives countenance to the notion that these wicked men were immortal, and would be tormented eternally. Just the reverse of this is clearly expressed: “Seeing ye put the word of God from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” What can be plainer and more forcibly expressed? It was “everlasting life” they forfeited by their sins; and that is the highest penalty of God’s law, or Paul was unfaithful.SSII 98.1

    The next place where we find the apostle speaking on this subject is Romans 1:29-32. Let us first attend to the description he gives of the wickedness of those of whom he speaks. He says, v. 28-31, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those thing which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable unmerciful.”SSII 99.1

    Can a blacker catalogue of sins be furnished than this? Surely if any men deserve unending being in indescribable torments these do. Let us hear what further the apostle has to say concerning them: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy” of endless torments in hell fire! Is that what they “are worthy” of, Paul? “No, I did not say any such thing.” Well, what did you say? “I said they are worthy of DEATH.” Is that all? Those who profess to be your “regular successors” tell us such wicked men are immortal, and cannot die, but must live eternally in misery. However, we believe you, and think those who claim to be your “successors” may not have sufficiently heeded the apostolic injunction to “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit; after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the [pagan] world, and not after Christ.”SSII 99.2

    I now follow the apostle into Romans 2. After showing that God’s judgment of men will be impartial, both on the Jew and Gentile, he give us to understand who will have “immortality, eternal life,” viz: those “who seek for” it, by a “patient continuance in well doing:” while the opposite character will have “indignation and wrath:” and that this will be the case with all who have sinned “without law,” or “in the law;” so, that “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ,” they shall “perish.” In this chapter, then, the apostle gives no countenance to the theory that wicked men are immortal, or that any man can have immortality unless he “seek for” it: all others shall experience the “wrath” which they have “treasured up,” under which they shall “perish” in the day of judgment. To “perish” and have “immortality, eternal life,” are put in contrast by the apostle.SSII 99.3

    Next, look at Romans 6:21-23, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is endless torments!” Have we read Paul right? Does he talk thus? Let us look again, “For the end of those things is death.” Modern divines say it is “endless misery” - Paul says it is “death.” Which shall we believe? Paul continues, “But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the END EVERLASTING LIFE,” He then adds, “For the wages of sin is” everlasting life in indescribable and unutterable torments! Is that right? Did he say so? He ought to say so, if modern theology is true. Let us take off the old sectarian spectacles and look at this text again. What did Paul say? He said “the wages of sin is death.” Well, we thought so; but his words have been so often “tormented” to make them speak “endless misery,” we did not know but we might be mistaken, and that death meant life. “No,“ cries the apostle, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thus Paul has a perfect contrast - Death to the sinner - Life to the saint. One dies, and his death is eternal: the other lives, and his life is everlasting. Thus far Paul is clear of the heresy of endless life in sin and suffering.SSII 100.1

    Romans 8:13, the apostle says, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” How perfectly plain. It needs no learned perverters of God’s truth to make common sense men understand it. So sure as one lives, the other will die: and just as certain as life implies consciousness, death implies unconsciousness. “To be, or not to be,” depends on the character men form here. If they have been made free from sin and had their fruit unto holiness, they live, by the gift of God, eternally. If destitute of this character they die, and thus reap the wages for which they labored.SSII 101.1

    Romans 9:22: the apostle inquires, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” What, Paul! Are you coming out a Destructionist? Beware how you favor that class of men, for we hate them, as Ahab did Micaiah. 2 Chronicles 18:7.SSII 101.2

    Again, Paul says, Romans 14:15, “Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died:” and verse 20. “For meat destroy not the work of God.” Now, that is provoking, Paul: we called you, as Balak did Balaam, to curse our enemies, and behold thou hast blessed them altogether. But, come I pray thee unto another place - and curse me them from thence. Very well, answers Paul, we will go to 1 Corinthians 1:18:SSII 101.3

    “For the preaching of the cross is to them that are to be endlessly tormented foolishness.” Will not the endless misery theorists cry out now, as did Ahab king of Israel to Micaiah, when he said with the false prophets, Go ye up to battle, and prosper, etc.; and the king said, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou say nothing but the truth to me in the name of the Lord? Very well - if truth is what you want, then I, Paul, say, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” Well, have you anything more to say? Yes, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy:” 1 Corinthians 3:17. More destruction! Yes - “and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died:” 1 Corinthians 8:11. And, “if the dead rise not - then they also that have fallen asleep in Christ are perished:” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18. Worse and worse - truly Paul, you only prophecy evil of our theory: for, you not only teach the wicked are to be destroyed, but that the saints who die are perished if there is no resurrection, and if so, they cannot be conscious now! But we are not satisfied yet, Paul; so please come with us to another place, it may be we shall make out these Destructionists heretics from there. We turn to 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that” are preserved in endless misery! Have we read Paul right? No - He did not say any such thing. What did he say? “In them that perish.” But, don’t that mean preserve? No, for “to the one we are the savour of death unto DEATH; and to the other the savour of Life unto LIFE.” But, Paul, by such testimony do you not corrupt the word of God? “No - we are not as many who corrupt the word God, but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ:” v. 17.SSII 102.1

    Alas for the advocates of inherent immortality - take Paul to what place they will, he is stubbornly set in giving no countenance to their Pagan fable. Let them, however, try him to their heart’s content, and Balak like, drag him to another place. Galatians 6:8, What do you see now Paul? “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, [not immortality,] but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” Philippians 1:28, “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.” Also, chap. 3:19, “Whose END IS DESTRUCTION.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3, “Sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.” Shall not escape what? Destruction. But they would escape it if eternally preserved. Now, Paul, do let us try you once more: come to another place. Speak now, we pray thee, so as to confirm our theory this once, for we cannot bear to think we and our fathers have been in error, and that we are not gods. 2 Thessalonians 1:9, “Who shall be punished with everlasting” preservation in indescribable agonies, where “the presence of God in his vengeance scatters darkness and woe through the dreary regions of misery; for God is present, himself, in hell to see to the punishment of these rebels; his indignation kindles, and his incensed fury feeds the flame of their torment, while his powerful presence and operation maintains their being, - and renders all their powers most acutely sensible; thus setting the keenest edge upon their pain, and making it cut most intolerably deep.” Now, immortal-soul believers, shout and clap your hands, for you see Paul is fairly and fully on your side! But stop one moment: we have made a mistake. We began with Paul, but the railroad track has got so badly worn by much travel that we run off, and took Benson’s track, in his Sermons on Future Misery. Badly as we are off the track of Paul, we must get back again. We start anew then: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power,” etc. Thus Paul differs from Benson and his immortal soul coadjutors immensely.SSII 103.1

    Again, the apostle, in speaking of the man of sin, chap. 2:10, says his working is “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved: and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned [condemned] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Then Hebrews 6:8, he says, “That which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned;” not preserved; for John the Baptist declares, Matthew 3:12, that the chaff, same as thorns and briars, shall be “burned up with unquenchable fire;” no preservation, but utter destruction. Let us hear Paul once more, Hebrews 10:26-27, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Devour, which signifies to eat up, to consume, to annihilate. “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition,” [destruction,] v. 39.SSII 104.1

    Thus closes up the testimony of Paul. I have now placed before you every word that he has spoken onSSII 104.2

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