THE sentiment has prevailed to almost an unlimited extent that the human family are, while in this life, if not in the full sense of the world, probationers, at least forming characters for the eternal world; and that no decision can with accuracy be formed as to the final issue of things, until that period arrives in which it is supposed a general judgment of all the human family will take place. Very many of the saints who profess to believe the doctrine of salvation by grace, election, predestination, effectual calling, complete justification of all for whom Jesus died, and that they are made perfect and without blame before him in love, &c., yet have experienced much slavish fear on the subject of a judgment to come, at which all their prospects for heaven and happiness may be forever blasted. Nor has it been very uncommon for us to hear some of our ministering brethren from the pulpit declaring that they expected to be called on at the day of judgment to answer for the manner in which they have improved the opportunity, &c. Having examined the scriptures upon this point, we are convinced in our mind that such sentiments are not only unwarranted in the scriptures, but entirely repugnant to what God has been graciously pleased to reveal to us upon the subject.
Our object in our former article upon this subject was not, as brother Trott seems to suppose, to deny the application of the term judgment to the manner in which Christ the Judge shall conduct the execution of the sentence of the law, when he shall turn the wicked into hell, with the nations that forget God; or whether he will or will not call up to their remembrance all the enormity of their wickedness, in order to discover to them the justice of his fiery indignation, then to be displayed in their perdition. What we had more especially in view was to show from divine authority that the wicked are condemned already – the wrath of God abideth on them; that their being suffered to live and die in their sins is positive evidence that they are not of the sheep of Christ, as he said unto them; that they are uninterested in his blood and righteousness, which forms the only ground of a sinner’s justification and acceptance with God. If brother Trott, and other brethren, believe that several scriptures, speaking of a judgment to come, have reference to a judgment to take place after the resurrection of the ungodly, in which the justice of God in the damnation of his enemies shall be made manifest, and the secrets of all hearts shall be exposed, we have no objection to their view, provided they do not attach to this view those or any of those extravagant notions, by which brother Trott thinks we have done great injustice to the views of our brethren. But we cannot admit that the state or destiny of any part of the human family will remain undecided by the judge of quick and dead until such a day of judgment shall come. This explanation of our views of the subject may obviate the objections of brother Trott, so far as relates to a judgment to come.
As brother Trott does not dissent from us in regard to the judgment of the saints, we shall not be required to enlarge upon that part of the subject. Whatever may be done at a future judgment day, in exposing the wickedness of them that perish, we have the oath and iniquities of his saints shall be remembered no more.
Brother Trott admits that there will be no new light called for at that day by the Judge, and, if we understand him, that the decision of the Judge is already made up in his own mind, from which decision he will not deviate – that he has declared that “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Now this is what we have called final and conclusive judgment; and it is that from which we do not believe there can be any possible appeal; and it is that in which all the saints of God, as the members of the mystical body of Christ the Judge, will most cordially acquiesce at that day. Does brother Trott believe that every act of the dispensation of God’s justice is so ordered as to manifest his righteousness? So do we. To us his righteousness in the judgment of the ungodly, as already settled and recorded in the scriptures, is quite apparent. How clearly he may make it known to the vessels of his wrath, either before or after their resurrection, is not for us to say. We have admitted, or rather contended, that the saints are brought experimentally to judgment, and the mountains of their guilt set in order before them, &c.; but it does not necessarily follow tha tgod will make the same display to such as go down to perdition. The redeemed could never so well appreciate the value of the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of Christ without this thorough conviction; but we do not know that the ungodly are ever to know anything of the value of an atonement in which they are not interested. If we have blended legal enactments, investigation of charges, and judgment given therein, together in the idea of judgment, it has been because the term is thus variously applied both in the scriptures and in its common use, and not because we would willingly produce confusion in the idea. We have contended, whatever may be hereafter, that the present is a day of judgment, that Christ is now seated upon his judgment throne, that he is now dividing his people from the world, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. If we are wrong, will brother Trott, or any other brother, tell us how the ungodly who die in their sins are consigned to hell immediately after death, and before the resurrection of their bodies? Are they punished first and then judged afterwards? We were unapprized of the inference which the Universalists drew, with so much propriety, from our preaching at Welch Tract last May, but if we are to be held accountable for all the inferences men may draw from our preaching, we deserve pity; and if one so discriminating and eage-eyed as our esteemed brothe rTrott was so alarmed as to indulge serious apprehensions that we were about to renounce the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, what had we a right to expect from the Universalists? We will try hereafter, in preaching and in writing, if the Lord will vouchsafe to enable us, to be more explicit, and have it understood as definitely as possible, that we believe the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of Christ, and shall come forth, some to the resurrection of life eternal, and some to the resurrection of damnation; that we believe the happiness of the saints and punishment of the wicked will be alike interminable. We cannot imagine how brother Trott makes out that Christ assumed his judgment-seat while he was himself under the law, as was the case thirty-six years before the destruction of Jerusalem, especially as he agrees with our general views on Matt. xxv. 31-46? That he did call out many of his people from among the Jews is admitted, and that he taught them as never man taught, that he, as their Leader, set them patterns to imitate, and that he assured them that his kingdom was at hand, and instructed them to pray that it might come, &c., is well understood; but it is also known that he told his disciples that the Pharisees occupied Moses’ seat at that time, and that he directed them to do whatsoever they commanded them to do, is also as well known. And we had understood that when he was raised from the dead he was declared to be the Son of God, with power, and that when he should sit in the throne of his glory he would sit in judgment. We have understood that the nations were presented before him for judgment, in a peculiar manner, at the discontinuance of the temple worship, and the abolition of Jewish rites, when Jerusalem was destroyed. But if we are wrong we will gladly be taught the way of the Lord more perfectly.
In our remarks on Matt. xxv. 31-46, we did not intend to represent that the nations, as such, were sheep and goats to be separated, but rather that the Lord had in every nation some that were to be set on his right hand, and others that were denominated goats, which he would place upon his left, and that he would say to the former, Come, and to the latter, Depart; that these two classes, called sheep and goats, are two nations; the one a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; the other is called the kingdom of Satan. The holy nation should, under the ministration of Christ, during this judgment day, be completely distinguished, and effectually divided from the kingdom of Satan; so brother Trott will discover we do not differ quite so widely from Peter as he had supposed.
In reference to those scriptures brought forward by brother Trott to sustain the doctrine of final judgment to come, as far as relates to the wicked, we had prepared a reply; but upon more mature consideration our reply seems to be uncalled for, inasmuch as we do not deny the premises which by the array of scriptures he designed to establish. We see nothing in these scriptures to condemn our conclusion that the judgment of the world, of mankind, both saints and sinners, is as irrevokably fixed in the unchanging mind of God now as it will ever be; nor do we understand brother Trott to object to this view. We will therefore withhold, at least for the present, what we have written upon those passages.
In reference to our having restricted the application of those passages which we brought forward in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem, brother Trott has altogether mistaken us. We believe the passages primarily applied to that event, and in the execution of divine wrath upon that devoted city is shown the impending storm that is eventually to sink Mystery Babylon like the mill-stone; and, for aught we know, this subject may even look forward to the breaking up of the elements of nature, when time shall be no more. That Christ did come without sin unto salvation, after he had ascended up on high, after he had received his kingdom, and that he descended with a shout, or a display of power and glory that evidently demonstrated his perfect triumph and the decided defeat of the Jews, when he came in the execution of his wrath upon them, we do assuredly believe; but that we would confine the application of all those scriptures which we referred to, or any of them, to that event exclusively, we disclaim.
As this article is sufficiently lengthy, as brother Klipstine is now engaged in his further prosecution of the subject, through the exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and as we may probably have occasion to write again upon this subject hereafter, for the present we shall dismiss it, with our thanks to brother Trott for his faithfulness in pointing out wherein he conceived us to be in error. We feel the necessity more and more of examining the scriptures closely, prayerfully, and with a view to bow ourselves to what they dictate. May the Lord lead us all by his holy spirit in truth and holiness, for his name’s sake.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
New Vernon, N. Y.,
October 1, 1841.
Editorials Volume 1