Eternal Punishment and Seducing Teachers
The LORD, shortly before entering upon his sufferings, cautioned his apostles and the church of God down to the end of time against men who should presume to take upon them his great name, saying, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24); and the apostle Paul, when about to suffer martyrdom for the truth of Christ, wrote to his son Timothy, saying, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
We are living in these latter times, when men, as regards their religious views, wax
worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
The apostle Peter, when he was about to put off the earthly house of his tabernacle, testified that he and his fellow apostles had not followed cunningly devised fables; and when referring to past and future days he spoke under the Spirit of inspiration, saying, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1.)
Every kind of error that Satan can devise and palm upon preachers who are ignorant of real godliness is now being sown broadcast, some by one religious sect and some by another. It would almost appear as if there were a race being run by many of the leading men amongst the so-called religious teachers of the present day to try which can outdo the other in violating the Scriptures, misinterpreting them, condemning them, denying their inspiration, and even going so far as to question whether the Redeemer ever spoke the words which the Evangelists have recorded, who were witnesses of his Person and who heard the solemn and separating sentences which fell from his blessed lips.
One of the most prominent doctrines which worldly religious teachers are promulgating is the denial of the eternal punishment of the wicked.
This doctrine, which a few years ago was believed in by most of the religious denominations, is now being repudiated by the great bulk of professors. Learned men rise up with their sophistry and plausible speech to endeavour to interpret the Scriptures according to their corrupted reason, and they find multitudes upon multitudes who eagerly receive and swallow down, to their own destruction, their pernicious and God-dishonouring sentiments.
Amongst the various denominations who hold and preach the most flesh-gratifying errors is the Church of England. At the Church Congress held at Manchester, Oct. 5th, 1888, Archdeacon Farrar said that the old doctrine of eternal punishment, in all its naked horror and with all Us false accretions, was practically dead.
He said it had been softened down in every possible direction; it was scarcely alluded to in any sermon; theologians on all sides seemed anxious to disown or modify those particular ways of presenting the doctrine, or even in the face of countless volumes of theology and homiletics to maintain that these never were the prevalent views in the Christian Church.
For fully one thousand five hundred years those had undoubtedly been the prevalent opinions among Christians, but they had never been the real doctrine of the Christian Church.
Moreover he said the late Dr. Pusey differed from him as to the views of the Rabbis and the fathers and other matters, but he found with the deepest thankfulness that on every question which he deemed to be vital Dr. Pusey was absolutely at one with him. He had argued and Dr. Pusey had admitted that it was no part of the Catholic faith to believe, first, that the torments of hell were physical; or secondly, that the vast majority of mankind were doomed to them; or thirdly, that we must assume them to be the lot of all who died and made no sign; or fourthly, that every form of retribution beyond the grave was necessarily endless.
Both he and Dr. Pusey argued in favour of two proposals,—first, that God might reach any souls whose case to us seemed to be hopeless, and secondly, that there might be a terminable punishment in Hades in the intermediate state beyond the grave. He said if they looked through the New Testament they would not find one word which demanded a belief in the final fixation of each man’s destiny at the moment of death, or taught anything resembling a hopeless futurity of torment and rebellion awaiting the great mass of mankind. For himself he ventured to express the hope that the destiny of this world would not end in final dualism. To him the one text, “God is love,” was sufficient to disprove the doctrine of endless torment, which alone he had repudiated.
*These undisguised statements are not confined to Archdeacon Farrar; but they are sentiments held by a great many men, both in and outside the pale of the Church of England. They are forerunners to pave the way for an open declaration in the belief of purgatory. Such men ought to be at once expelled irom the National Church and go over to the Church of Rome, to which body in spirit they belong. Some time ago we reviewed a little work by Mr. Hemington, wherein he writes most Scripturally on the meaning.of the words “everlasting,” and “eternal punishment.” We again strongly recommend the distribution of this little work.
All this is horrid blasphemy against God and his Word, which tells us that the wicked shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and that the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.
The apostle Jude, who wrote with such vehemency of spirit upon these matters, speaking of the angels which kept not their first estate, says, “they are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day;” and that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who so solemnly and suddenly were cut off through their wickedness, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
But these gentlemen who assume the name of reverend and who get their livelihoods by deceiving souls, in their fight for notoriety and their blasphemous assumptions, are each determined, if possible, to stand upon the highest pedestal, and so exhibit themselves and their doctrine to the public gaze. John says, “They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” (1 John 4:5)
At this same Church Congress one very reverend gentleman, named Sir Geo. W. Cox, of York, who was unable to be present, sent a paper which was read to the meeting, in which he said that respecting death, judgment, heaven, and hell,and endless punishment beyond the grave, we have now escaped from this evil dream, havitnj learnt that the darkness, misery, and despair which it spread about us were caused by our forefathers and by ourselves. The yoke of those deadly falsehoods had been broken, and we could rejoice in our deliverance.
He said that these doctrines which were mentioned in the Epistles of Jude and Peter were obtained from a book called the Book of Enoch*
Also that the discourses of the Redeemer in Matthew 24 and 25 were obtained from the same source, namely, the Book of Enoch; and consequently these discourses which the apostles heard and received into their souls from the lips of the dear Redeemer were never uttered as they are given to us, and probably were never uttered at all.
He further said that such questions as these must be settled according to the evidence at our command, and not by appeals to the authority of the book in which they are found, such appeals or claims involving a tyranny which has become intolerable, and which must be fought against until it be utterly put down.
In Matthew 25 the Lord, just previous to his sufferings, preached to his disciples the doctrine of everlasting life and happiness to the righteous, whom he calls his sheep, and of everlasting punishment and misery to the wicked, whom he calls goats.
But this Rev. Sir G. W. Cox questioned whether the Lord ever uttered the words at all, and we should not be surprised to hear of these men and others of a similar class going so far as to assert that such a Person as the Lord Jesus Christ never was born into this world, that he never went to the end of the law for righteousness for his people, that he never suffered in the garden of Gethsemane, that he never died on the cross for the sins of his elect; and that the New Testament, from beginning to end, is nothing but a myth or a fable.
It is true such doctrines and teaching cannot be held by the Lord’s own people, who are exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, that is, the word of faith in all its branches and all its bearings; but we write these things as a word of warning to the simple and unwary.
The Word of God is as plain upon the doctrine of eternal punishment to the wicked as it is upon the eternal happiness of the righteous.
One gentleman, in writing an Article upon this statement and doctrine at the Church Congress, was so exhilarated in spirit and so jubilant over the progress of this doctrine of devils, that he said the introduction of the subject of eternal punishment would in twenty years time be very rare, not only in the Established Church, but in half of the Nonconformist sects as well.
We may with safety conclude that as the world becomes more civilized and wise in natural things, they wax worse and worse in all that should concern them respecting death, judgment, and eternity.
The quotations we have given are from men in the National Establishment, or the Church of England, men who have sworn to uphold the thirty-nine Articles. Against such men as these and the doctrines which they are advancing and which appear so general amongst these so-called divines, we raise a solemn protest, and pronounce them blasphemous to the last degree; and we venture to say that the Church, with such men, and leading men within her pale, is a national disgrace, and the sooner this National Church is separated from the State the better and more creditable to the community at large.
By James Dennett – 1889