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fice shall he salted with salt." This salt, which is the fire which never shall be quenched, is the same, no doubt, represented, as has been noticed, by the salt of the covenant under the law, according to the directions given in Lev. ii. 13. the manifest design of this fire is to save, by its purifying qualities, the subject on which it operates. Now if we can find any natural connexion between the three par. ticulars, here brought to view, and the future, eternal, inmerciful punishment of those disciples and acknowledged friends of Jesus Christ, then the common opinion of this scripture stands on the evidence of the text. But the erroneousness of such an opinion is so palpable, that it requires no argument to make it more so.
The objector, possessing an unaccountable attachment to the opinion generally entertained of the text, will say --Although these words were spoken to the disciples of Christ, they ought to be applied to men in general. To this I agree, but not to the exclusion of the disciples. There surely would be no propriety in saying, that, though Christ spake the words of our parable to his disciples, he did not mean that they should take either the direction or the warning to themselves. In the connexion of the text in Matthew v. Christ says to his disciples, “ Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisecs, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” It surely would not be correct to say that Christ did not mean that his disciples should not enter into the kindom of heaven except their righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and pharisees. The truth is plain enough. The disciples of Christ, as well as every body else,
must have a better righteousness than that of the scribes and pharisees, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven; and the disciples, as well as every body else, were exposed to be cast into that refining fire, which never shall be quenched. Therefore, if any of the human race ever were exposed to endless, unmerciful punishment, as proved, or intended by our parable, the disciples most surely were thus exposed. It is then reasonable for us to query to see what friendship that must be which would exercise itself in inflicting endless, unmerciful punishment? If this be friendship, what is enmity? If it be argued that the subject deserves this unmerciful punishment, and that it is inflicted by justice, though directly contrary to the benevolent principle of friendship, it is acknowledging that the friendship of Christ is directly opposed to justice. According to the scriptures, Christ was so great a friend to all mankind as to lay down his life for them, and he is said to be the same yesterday, to day and forever. How then can he become unmerciful to those
sinners whom he loves, and for whom he died? The
propriety of the notes on this parable, and their relation to the whole connexion, is easy to be seen; for any punishment which is calculated to purge and cleanse mankind from sin, is perfectly consistent with the love and friendship which our Saviour has manifested for mankind. David was afflicted with the pains and sorrows of hell, and acknowledged that it was good for him that he was afflicted. The goodness of God to mankind is no less evident in the chastisements with which he corrects his children, than in the smiles of his providence; for the Lord will not cast off forever, but though he cause grict,
yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict wil. lingly, nor grieve the children of men.
PARABLE VI. Enter ye io at the strait gate ; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat : Because strait is the gate,
aod oarrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be which find it.”
MAT. vii. 13, 14. By the strait gate, we understand the way of life communicated under the law, the word strait having the signification of difficult ; the word narrow is also used in describing the gate, or way of life. The way of life, under the law, in respect to dispensation, was through those shadowy types made use of under that dispensation, or in the priesthood of the law; and the way was so narrow or difficult, that few, very few were enabled to look through the figures of the law, and behold Christ: Or if possible to make the idea more plain, we say, Christ is the only way of life, as he says of himself, - I am the way," &c. And although it may seem disagreeable to a christian who has been taught the unbounded grace of the Saviour, and viewed him as a place of broad rivers, to tell him that this same Jesus was narrow, life difficult to be obtained by him, &c. yet, when we consider that the christian of the present day enjoys those things which many prophets long desired but obtained not, and that those who had the brightest ideas of the Saviour, under the law, saw him, in respect to the present dispensation, through a glass, and that as
darkly as those who now believe, view him in his glory, which is to be revealed in the ages to come, it will not seem unjust to represent the Saviour, under the law, as a strait, difficult and narrow way.
On the other hand, it is just to represent the way
of death, which leadeth to destruction, broad, in the same proportion as the way of life is narrow ; observing at the same time, that the representations are under the same dispensations. But what is meant in the text, by the way and gate which leadeth to destruction? Answer, if Christ the heavenly man is the way of life, it is evident that the earthly man is the way to destruction; and though the Jews, generally speaking, looked for salvation by the works of the carnal or old man, and though that way seemed right to them, the' end thereof was death to the
who sought salvation in that way. And though many
in the present day may be-as-uncircumcised in heart and ears as the unbelieving Jews, and may boast of their hard earned righteousness, and despise others for the lack thereof, and all these things seem right to them; and though they may fancy themselves alive without the law, yet when the commandment shall come with divine authority on their miods, the end of all their righteousness will be death. Happy is the soul that can boast the loss of all these things, and glory alone in the righteousness of the great Redeemer.
ILLUSTRATION. The common use of the above passage has been to prove that the number, which will finally obtain salvation by Jesus Christ, will be few; and that the number which will suffer endless, unmerciful punishment will be many.
As the notes give, as is conceived, the truc meaning of the text in as plain a manner as is easy to explain it, all which is necessary to be done is only to show that the common opinion is as contrary to the plain and positive declaration of scripture, as it is to the benevolent principles inspired by divine truth
The number set forth in the scriptures as the happy subjects of gospel salvation, may be judged of from the promises made to the fathers, in which it is said that all the families, all the nations, and all the kindreds of the earth should be blessed in Christ the seed of Abraham. The only method by which the 'opposer of universal salvation by Christ
, pretends to get along with the promises of God, as stated above, is, by saying the blessing promised, means the temporal blessings of Provi dence, of which all men partake in this life. And though this be the only way to avoid the real gose pel truth, yet it acknowledges one main point, by which the partial doctrine is destroyed. For it allows that the promises are strictly to all men without distinction. This being the case, the whole is lost on the part of the opposer by the particular testimony of St. Paul to the Galatians, in which he decides the matter beyond all dispute. Sce Gali jï. 8. “And the scriptures foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unte Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” By this scripture we see that the promise is a gospel promise, and that the blessing is justification through faith. If all the nations, all the families and all the kindreds of the earth are finally blessed with justification through faith, in Christ the seed of Abraham, the opinion that but few of the human race will be saved by