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On the Destruction of the Second Death.
THERE is a famine in the land of promise on this article, otherwise, I suppose, Mr. Winchester would not have produced such passages as the following to support it: Psa. lxxxiii. 13-18. Prov. iii. 35. Jer. xx. 11.— xxiii. 40. Isai. xlv. 16, 24.* If these texts favour the doctrine of the restoration, I think it may be proved from every verse in the Bible. It would be insulting the common sense of my readers to spend time in showing that these texts are irrelevant to the subject.
On Isa. xxv. 8. Hosea xiii. 14. 1 Cor. xv. 26. Mr. Winchester observes, "The second death is infinitely more the enemy of man than the first, and may there"fore be considered as an enemy which God will "destroy." Mr. W. ought to have known that the apostle does not say, or mean, every enemy of man shall be destroyed: his words are, "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet." The obvious meaning of those words is, Jesus Christ will reign till every enemy to his government be conquered. I believe it would be as difficult to prove that the second death is an enemy to the Divine government, as that a prison, for offenders, is an enemy to human governments. It appears from Matt. xxv. 41. that the second death, which is there called everlasting fire, is prepared by the Judge for the punishment of the wicked; and it is not very probable that he would prepare an enemy to himself. The sting of death is sin. "While sin remains in "existence," says Mr. W. in the same page, "death "will be able to show its sting; but the time will come "when death will have no sting to boast of; therefore
* Dialogues, p. 50.
+ Ib. p. 61.
"sin, and consequently death of every kind, shall be "destroyed." The apostle is not here speaking of death of every kind, but of one kind only; namely, of that which reigns over the body; as is evident from the preceding verses: "When this corruptible shall have
put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on "immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying "that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory? O "death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy "victory?" It immediately follows," The sting of death "is sin." "No man can doubt but that by this corruptible, and this mortal, is meant the body. When it shall be raised to incorruption and immortality, then this victory over death shall be celebrated. But will not the resurrection precede the day of judgment? and will not sinners be doomed to suffer the second death after the day of judgment? How is it possible, then, to include any triumph over the second death in this song?
To what wretched shifts are men reduced when they are determined to abide by a system, right or wrong! I was led to this reflection on turning to Mr. Vidler's notion of God's love, p. 18, 19. This gentleman says, "We allow that, in the first resurrection, it (1 Cor. xv. "54, 55.) will have part of its fulfilment, but we are "persuaded that it reaches much farther than the first "resurrection, or even than the general resurrection.” This is a bold stroke; but Mr. V. proceeds to the proof. "The apostle," says he, "introduces the doctrine of the "resurrection on the largest possible ground, ver. 21 We understand the resurrection here in a three"fold progression; Christ as the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming, but every man in "his proper rank. Here, then, are two ideas concerning "universality and order, to which the apostle adds ano"ther, ver. 49. which is conformity to Christ in his "resurrection state. Was it the righteous only who "have borne the image of the first man, or have all
"mankind borne it? If all mankind, then will all man"kind bear the image of the second man in his resurrec"tion state, but in different orders (ranks) and degrees. "Those who believe and obey the Gospel will have "their vile bodies changed into the likeness of his "glorious body, immediately on his second coming, as a "sample of that mighty power by which he is able (and "we think willing) to subdue all things unto himself; "but those who believe not, and obey not the Gospel, "will pass through the second death before they can "receive their measure of conformity to Christ in his "resurrection state."
Mr. V.'s comment on ver. 49. is far-fetched indeed. Suppose I had written to a few pious friends, and informed them, for their consolation, that as we have borne the image of Adam, we shall also bear the image of Jesus Christ: what would be thought of a commentator who should say my meaning was, that believers, and unbelievers, and damned spirits, should all bear the image of the Lord Jesus? The apostle in chap. i. 2. informs us who are included in this pronoun we. He wrote to the church of God at Corinth, to them that were sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place called upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
Mr. V. contends that some will have to pass through hell before they attain to conformity to Christ, and that they will not have completed this progress till long after the general resurrection; but the apostle says, "It "(the body) is RAISED in glory. When this corruptible "shall have put on incorruption-then shall be brought "to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." If this declaration will not be fulfilled till long after the general resurrection, this corruptible will not have put on incorruption till long after that event; but the apostle says again, "It is RAISED in incorruption." We conclude, therefore, that Jesus Christ
will stand in no need of the fire of hell to purify and burnish the bodies of those who attain to a glorious immortality. If all, except the few whom Mr. V. calls a sample, have to "pass through the second death before they receive their measure of conformity to Christ," it must be granted that this song of victory will not be sung till many ages after the general resurrection; but I will show Mr. V. "a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but "we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of "an eye, at the last trump, (for the trumpet shall sound) "and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, &c." In this mystery the following particulars are clearly discernible :
1. That Christ will come, (ver. 23.) and the trumpet sound, while some of the saints are alive on the earth: for "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
2. That this change of the bodies of the saints, then found alive, will be instantaneous. "We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at "the last trump."
3. That all who have a part in the resurrection here described, will be raised at the same moment. "The "trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised."
4. That THEN, when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and the living saints changed, and not some ages after, as Mr. V. teaches, "shall be brought "to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
From these four incontrovertible truths, I draw the following inferences :
1. That Mr. V.'s gradual change, which is to be completed in hell, long after the general resurrection, is not the change which the apostle here intends.
2. That as the instantaneous change will happen when some of the saints are upon the earth, it will precede the day of judgment.
3. That when this instantaneous change takes place, death will be swallowed up in victory, and, therefore, will be destroyed before the day of judgment. Consequently,
4. That the death which the apostle speaks of cannot be the second death, because sinners will be doomed to it after the day of judgment.
Mr. Winchester inquires on Heb. ii. 14. "Now what "death has the devil power over? The death of the "body, or that of the soul?"* If any person will be at the trouble to read the context, he can be at no loss for an answer. "Forasmuch, then, as the children are par"takers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took "part of the same; that through death He might destroy “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; “and deliver them, who through fear of death were all "their lifetime subject to bondage." I presume no one supposes that the word death, which occurs three times in this passage, is to be understood in different senses. I ask, therefore, What death did Jesus Christ die? Was it not the death of the body? Then it must surely be the death of the body which the devil has power over.-The lake of fire which the apostle John calls the second death, is the proper punishment of devils, and was prepared for them, Rev. xxi. 8. Matt. xxv. 41. If they had the power of the second death, no doubt but they would soon destroy it: Jesus Christ need not have died for that purpose.
"I am not able to imagine," says Mr. Winchester, how St. John's vision (Rev. v. 13.) could be just, if endless "damnation is true. I should not expect any intimations, "far less absolute promises, that God would destroy "death." Most of the Universalists urge this vision as affording demonstrative proof of the Restoration. In reply, I observe,
1. In this vision the apostle saw "such as are in the singing this song." The Universalists acknowledge
* Dialogues, p. 62, + Dialogues, p. 24.