On Eternal Punishment
In publishing the following paper we wish to make our own position clear as to the truth of eternal punishment, and to emphasize the way in which God has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures. Not that this wholesome truth needs any apology, but it has often been preached and taught in an unbalanced way, and we wish to hold the balance of the truth.
The objectors say, “You preach a God who has no mercy, and who consigns His creatures without pity to eternal pain.” No, we do not; on the contrary, we preach a God who at His own cost has provided a way of escape for all from this terrible doom—Who “so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), “Who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), Who “commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), Who beseeches men through His ambassadors to be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:20), Whose long-suffering with men holds back the long-predicted judgment, because He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
The gospel of God, which is concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 1:1, 3) is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (v. 16) It is conceived in absolute and eternal righteousness, so that through it He can be just and yet justify everyone that believes in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). It begins with the solemn fact that “all have sinned,” and declares that none can obtain righteousness by works; but it offers to all more than they have forfeited by their sins, or could gain by their works, even though their works were perfect; and it offers all that it has to give freely. All this many of those who cavil at the truth ignore, as though it had never been written in the Word of God, or preached in the world by the servants of God.
The cross of Christ, on which He gave Himself a ransom for all, is the great proof of God’s love for men and the length He would go to save them; He could not have done more; but it is also the great proof that God cannot pass by the sins of men, as though they were nothing at all. He would not be a God of holiness and truth if He did; hence the gospel which proclaims His love and grace also reveals His wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Eternal punishment will be the portion of those who have refused to repent of their sins to God, and who have treated with indifference or disdain His proffered mercy. It is for those “who know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). Thus we believe and teach; to do other we must abandon the plainest possible statements of the Bible and adopt instead of them the reasonings of the human mind. We accept that Word of God as it stands; the only other honest course is to reject it altogether.
If our readers consider the solemn truth in the light of the gospel of God’s grace, we are sure that they will not fail to bless His name for the love that has provided a way of escape for all, nor refuse to acknowledge the justice of the condemnation of those who refuse the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. (Ed)