It is currently held that while the Gospel is an effective offer of Christ to all men, those, who refuse to accept the mercy it presents, will be punished for this, in addition to the sentence of the Law for their sins. Thus it is believed that while the Gospel is the means of salvation to some, it will be the occasion of increased torment and woe to others. Against the unscripturalness of this, the Article protests.

It is granted that future punishment will admit of degrees, and that its measure will be the greatness and atrocity of sin as estimated by the final verdict of the equitable Judge.

It is also granted that the fuller men’s natural and rational knowledge of God’s revealed will, the greater their wickedness in continuing in wilful wrong-doing. The idolatry of the Jews as a nation, was more sinful than that of their heathen neighbours, for they had the inspired Scriptures. The sins of men who have been taught the truths of the Bible, are greater than if they were imperfectly acquainted with its moral defi­nitions and distinctions. To disregard the monitions of an im­perfectly instructed conscience is sin; but it is greater sin to rebel against the light, (Job 24:13.) It is, therefore, a fearfully solemn thing to know what is right on the authority of the Bible, and to persist in doing what it condemns as wrong. Men will be held accountable according to the measure of their acquaintance with truth. All men have sufficient moral know­ledge to warrant their condemnation as sinners. Some men have, however, a more accurate and extensive acquaintance with the distinctions between right and wrong, and their final doom as sinners will be proportionably increased. (Luke 12:47,48.)

While admitting this, we deny the theory of augmented dam­nation for rejecting the Gospel; for:

The final rejection which is supposed to lead to this frightful increase of eternal punishment must be either a spiritual or a natural act.

If it is a spiritual act, heaven-born sinners can not only be lost, but doubly damned, which none but Arminians would assert, and with them we have here no controversy.

If this rejection is a natural act—namely, that of a man who has not received the grace of Regeneration—then the doctrine represents God as guilty of the grossest injustice. The elect only can be saved. For their sins only Christ atoned. To none but them is He presented as a Saviour by the Holy Spirit; and through efficient grace, all such will receive Him. It would be distinctly unrighteous to punish other men for not availing themselves of provisions that were never made for them; for not accepting what was never designed for, or presented to them; and for declining what “they are not able to see,” John 3:3, or apprehend. To torture a blind criminal beoause he has no sight, would be the refinement of cruelty and to represent a holy God as wreaking vengeance on men for not doing what is beyond their original capacity, is surely the vilest slander on His goodness. “The natural man,” who has no higher faculty of understanding than his rational intellect— including both his mental and moral powers—“receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” They can be perceived only by higher faculties than he possesses. Such a man is blameworthy for sin; but not for remaining passive concerning what he knows and can know nothing about. (1 Cor. 2:14.)

If those who do not yield the “obedience of Faith” to the Gospel are to be eternally punished for their unbelief, in addition to the equitable punishment which will be pronounced on their sins, this will surely be somewhere stated in the Bible. With the exception of 2 Cor. 2:15, no passage is ever advanced to defend it. It is tacitly accepted by thousands; none attempt to substantiate it.

The subject is discussed in the Author’s Manual of Faith and Practice, in which it is shown that “the claims of the Law of God cover all natural obligations,” (page 20,) that “the curse of the Law will be the sinner’s final condemnation,” (page 23,) and that “the death of Jesus will not augment and intensify the woe of the lost,” (page 56.)

Suggestive comments on 1 John 5:10, and Rev. 21:8,[1] are also given; (pages 23 and 204;) and Psalm 2:12; Prov. 1:24-26; Mark 16:16; John 3:18,19, and 16:8,9; and 2 Cor. 2:15[2] are explained in Addendum 5. to Chapter 15., page 233.

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[1] It is shown that by the “unbelieving” (oi apistoi) in Rev. 21:8, is not meant those who have refused to believe in Christ and be saved, but such as are “faithless” in the sense of false—in whose characters no confidence could be reposed.
[2] 2 Cor. 2:15, “ We are a savour of death unto death,” was employed by C. H. Spurgeon to prove that “the Gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some men’s damnation at the last great day,” because such “men sin against greater light.” “This shall be the virus of their guilt—that ‘the light came into the world, and the darkness comprehended it not;’ for men love dark­ness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.’” Spurgeon’s Sermons, vol. 1., page 201. The reader is counselled to contrast this with the exposition referred to above.



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