A Strange Doctrine
A very large class of people calling themselves Christians in the North of Europe, and indeed in the South of Europe - but there is no use of mentioning countries and names - believe that the soul is predestined to be lost or saved independently of its own liberty. It is a very strange doctrine, indeed. You could scarcely suppose men in their senses would profess it. To think that God, our Father, would, without any fault on our part, predestine any one of His creatures to be damned, and independently of what we call our moral liberty!
Yet I assure you that a very large section of our fellow-men believe in that ; and again that another class of men equally without the use of their moral liberty are also predestined to be saved. That one class will be lost whatever they do, and that another class will be saved, as it were, in spite of themselves. A regular law being passed by the Supreme Ruler, God, from the beginning of the world, predestinating one class to be saved without any actions on their part to deserve it, and another class to be lost without any acts upon their parts to deserve it; so that both salvation and perdition are doled out by an eternal decree, sentencing one class to be lost and another to be saved, independently of their own moral or Christian conduct.
That idea is also advocated in connection with another which seems to soften it down, that the pains of the damned are not eternal, and that if they should be lost, a time will come when all their pains will cease.
It is not for the sake of this question by itself that I have introduced the subject on this evening, but from the large amount of Christian knowledge connected with it; and you will, therefore, learn before I shall conclude this subject, that so large an amount of Christian knowledge is so interwoven with it that you will not be sorry for listening an hour to its discussion.
The text on which the believers in predestination rely is in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (8:28-30) :
And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints. For whom He foreknew. He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son: that He might be the first-born amongst many brethren. And whom He predestinated, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
That text you will learn, before I shall have concluded, should have an entirely different interpretation, and in the elucidation of my subject you will discover a vast field of Christian knowledge connected with it worthy of your attention.
An Infamous Doctrine
The first point presented here is the character of the men who advocate this doctrine; for, there can be no doubt whatever that if a man can once be made to believe that whatever he does he is lost, he will look upon murder or perjury as an essential part of his character. He says, "I can't help it any more than winking. I am predestined to be lost; therefore, whatever I do is no fault of mine; and whatever I do I cannot alter my fate. If I commit murder, it is laid out for me; and if I commit perjury, surely I am predestined to commit it. If I am a drunkard or a robber, it is the same." As to those crimes which dislocate society and overturn the happiness of private families, he says, "I can't help it; it is not my fault; surely they are all laid out. I am predestined to be lost." He won't repent, because he says there is no use in it. Another man may murder, and repent of his crime, but he won't. Another man may commit robbery, may make a restoration, but the believer in predestination would not, because there would be no use in so doing. Repentance is in his view foolish." God has laid out my fate for me before I was born, independently of my own conduct. I am essentially lost; and, consequently, all my actions are actions which I cannot help; and repentance, therefore, is useless."
The other class of men say, "I will be saved, no matter what I do. I can commit any or all crimes, and be perfectly indifferent; because, if I am to be saved, I am saved, and therefore I cannot overturn my fate. I don t wish to be better than I am. I will just be the way I like to be, and I will be saved. I am saved, no matter what I do. Neither will I be sorry for anything. He says that it is predestined, so that God becomes the author of the perdition of one without any crime, as it were, upon his part, and of the salvation of the other without any merit upon his part.
What do you think that it makes God into? The author of crime. What else? The punishing one man without any fault of his, and elevating the greatest villain into Heaven without His deserving it that makes God a great deal worse than the devil. It not only puts Him into the devil's place, but makes him twice as bad; for the devil only damns a man, but God punishes virtue and lifts vice into Heaven besides; so the doctrine of predestination would make God Almighty double the wickedness of Satan himself; damning one class of men which is the object of Satan in this world and elevating into Heaven another class of men without their deserving it. So it is doing two things, it is punishing a man without just cause (because God is supposed to lead him into vices), and it is conferring upon another man, without merit, eternal happiness.
I do not think I need go further. I could multiply arguments upon arguments; but I am sure that I have said enough in these logical propositions to show you that such a doctrine as that is about the most infamous thing that ever was preached. I know and have been among many nations that profess that doctrine. The whole of any nation, of course, may not believe it for they are divided into classes, but beyond all dispute that is the religious profession made by a large number of men indeed.
In order to arrive at a clear statement of the whole subject, I must first tell you what the character of God is, as nearly as men can presume to talk about it; and I must tell you what our own character is which we ought to know very well.
God's Character and Liberty
The first character of God is His liberty. The most perfect being, you know, ought to have the most perfect liberty. God is the most perfect being, and therefore He ought to have the most perfect liberty; and therefore He has the highest liberty a being can have that is, liberty to good. We have liberty to evil, if we turn that way; but if we keep always to the good side when we could go to the bad side, we make a perfect use of our liberty. A man can get drunk, or not. A man can swear and blaspheme, or not. A man can rob, or not rob. A man can have improper thoughts, or not have them. How can he avoid what is wrong? By the grace of God. The grace of God will remove vice precisely as lamps remove darkness. Bring grace into the heart, and there cannot be darkness; and if you call for it, you will certainly get it. But still we have the liberty of going to the good or to the bad side. That is man's liberty.
God's liberty is always to good. He need not have created us, if He had not wished. But He has created us, and for good. He might have abstained from that act if He had chosen. He need not have given us this earth; He need not have laid the foundation of nature. You know an eternity passed before He made the world. It is only a few years ago that all the worlds that swim in space about us were made. Some say six thousand years ago; some say sixty millions; others longer; but all admit they are a creation. It was a long time before He created them. The highest angel He ever made is a creature; and, of course, an eternity must have elapsed before He made him.
Then He need not have made him; but He has done it. Christ, if He liked, need not have redeemed us when we fell. He could have left us for all eternity. But He chose to redeem us. That is the liberty of the Trinity, not to evil, but to good. What an idea that is as to the character of God. He need not have done these things if He had not liked; but He did, and, therefore, to good.
No matter what kind of creatures began in heaven - angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, powers, principalities - there was a time when they were created. Then He made His own court and put them into it. They are His messengers pure spirits finer than the thoughts in your head, less body about them than the ideas of your mind. I think of London Bridge this moment, and I am on the bridge in my thoughts. They fly through space like thought. Walls of stone or iron cannot confine our thoughts. And the moment the soul escapes from the lips of a man dying, in one second it is in the presence of God, and judged the second after. They look into God the same as we look into a looking-glass, and they see their acts, good or evil, and they judge themselves. There are no books open. A man judges himself in a second. It is not God that judges. As quick as communication by telegraph, every thought, word, or action is recorded in the heart of God in a second. There is an invisible wire, as it were, between Him and us, and every action, word, or thought that touches one end of the moral wire here is recorded in the heart of God at the other end in a second. We look into His heart and see the record; no books open we see it the moment we come into His presence; and the soul is judged in one second. The moment the attendants, the wife, and children raise loud cries of lamentation, the soul may be damned. That is the work of God. His liberty is liberty to good; and when He does anything that appears to us harsh, it is our own conduct we should look at not His decision on us. He is as great in punishing vice as in rewarding virtue. He is as great in justice as in mercy. That is the character of God - liberty to good, the highest liberty of the greatest and highest being, and therefore not evil. He is surrounded by what are called His attributes, as old as Himself. You know He did not make His wisdom; the moment He appeared, it appeared. Nor did He make His own power. The power came in with Himself. Two and two are four. Was it not four yesterday, the day before, and from all eternity? That is what we call an abstract truth.
God is an existing truth like that. Two and two can never cease to make four. That will always be an abstract truth. God is the realization, the living fulfilment of abstract truths. His wisdom is co-eternal with Himself, as also His power, and mercy, and prescience. He made neither of these attributes. There is nothing in Him created; He is the Creator; so that you must see Him as surrounded from all eternity by all those attributes that make Him God - power, wisdom, justice, sanctity, truth, and prescience. You read in the Scriptures that God changes. Not at all. He never changes; He could not. It is the sinner that changes. There is His justice. Here is His mercy. If you die under His justice, you are lost; but you have the power to leave that place and come around, and dying under His mercy, be saved. It is you that changes; He never changes; though we say He does, to accommodate the idea to our comprehension.
If you die under God's justice, you are lost. You can never charge Him with your perdition. You have to charge yourself. He can say, " You made your own bed in hell or heaven; it is your own affair. I took you out of the clay, I took ten stone of clay (if that be your weight), and organized it into your body, and breathed the soul into it, out of My own heart. I intended it for good. I gave you the power to do good and to be saved. You have chosen your own bed. I cannot change."
God cannot change; it is the sinner that changes. Make your own bed where you like, and die there. If you die under His mercy, you are saved. But if you die under His justice, you are lost. You have chosen your own bed; and He has given you leave to do so. If you offend His justice, you must make atonement one way or another. "Father," said Christ on the Cross, "if it be possible, let this bitter chalice pass from me". "No", was the voice in heaven "no, no, not until man's faults are atoned for." His Son had to make the atonement, and you can never look at the Cross - the grandest sight a man can look at every day of the week - without you see the shorthand of God's character; for without the blood of Christ you cannot be forgiven. You must have His blood on you, or you can never get from under the results of My angry justice. Now, look at Him, My own Son, and hear what I said to Him - listen to it in the stroke of the hammer as they nailed Him to the Cross.
That is the eloquence of My anger. Die under My justice you are lost. Change your position - which you can every - moment and die under My mercy, and you are saved. I did not make My justice, and I cannot alter it. Neither did I make My own mercy, nor can I change it. All these attributes are as old as Myself; they are Myself. If I had not these essentially, I would not be God. I cannot un-God myself. I saw everything millions of years before the world was created; I cannot help it.
Man's Character and Liberty
Having given you a short view of the character of God and His liberty, I am going to give you a short view of our character and liberty. You do not know yourselves. Although we have studied ourselves from the beginning of the world, we do not know ourselves; nor can we govern ourselves. We may govern an army of a million of men, and yet we cannot govern ourselves. A man may know all the books ever written, and yet not know himself. Everybody else knows us better than we do ourselves.
We have what is called moral liberty beyond all dispute. Every man that ever was born knows he feels that. And the crash of a world can not alter our sentiments inside. We are above mankind. Otherwise how could we be saved? Let a man be brought to the block and told to renounce his faith. "No, I will not". "If you don't I will kill you". "You may kill me, but the crash of all the worlds of creation cannot alter my decision. I am beyond the tyrant, beyond the king, beyond the axe of the executioner, I am beyond all the terrors of this world, and the accumulated power of all the worlds put together cannot alter my sentiment. You may kill me; you may put my hand to what you please, you cannot alter my mind."
Man is great in that way; and God is looking at the martyr: and what would be the use of giving us liberty unless we can exercise it? No, you cannot change the mind of a fellow-man by all the terrors of this world. Therefore he is as calm in the exercise of his moral liberty as if there were no exterior power at all. Man's mind's like a sunbeam in the field of battle. You may have the roar of cannon, but you cannot tarnish the light of the sun. The whole field may be covered with gore; but the ray of light is as pure as if there were no gore there. I am above all your power; no one can force a man to change his mind. That is his liberty. Why did God give us that ? To make the soul immortal.
God looks at the man that could do evil and yet does good, and says: "Ah, he has preferred Me to Satan: he has preferred virtue to vice; and as God I am bound to protect him. If I destroy that man, I destroy virtue, and I cannot do that," and upon that grand exercise of good liberty follows immortality. Otherwise you would be like a river running down hill; how can it help going down? Or like a stone dropped from my hand; how could it help falling? That is the reason brute animals are not immortal; there is no basis for immortality in them; they die and there is nothing more of them. But if a man performs virtuous actions and won't perform vicious ones, God is indebted to the soul of that man, because he performs a part of Himself when he need not have done it. He might have done what Satan tempted him to do. On that He founds immortality; and God is as much God in punishing vice as in rewarding virtue.
Giving to man moral liberty is to enable God to lay a basis in his nature on which he builds immortality. You will say then: "Why, this liberty is the foundation of heaven itself." It is; there could not be heaven without it. You could not give immortality to the beasts of burden in our streets, for they neither know God nor love Him, and cannot have any merit before Him. When you know God and love Him, and perform acts of merit, that becomes the basis of heaven, the basis of His worship, and the very thing that makes Him be worshipped by all heaven, God above all beings.
In order to show you that God would not take away this liberty from man I will call your attention to three facts.
- When Lucifer abandoned God in heaven, rebelled against Him, there was a moment when he had the perfect exercise of his liberty, and thinking that God was not his equal, through pride he rebelled, and God cast him out of heaven. You naturally ask: " Why didn't God look at him and stop him?" If he did, he would stop the angelic liberty, and Lucifer and his associates could have no merit. He gave the angels liberty. Lucifer abused it and fell. But you say: "Could not God look at him and stop him ?" No; for if He did there would be no merit, and how could He be pleased with the worship of beings without merit? How could He be pleased with the worship of stones and of plants? How could He be pleased with the worship of the highest being created, if he had no merit? For such worship would be no worship at all. So the highest archangels of heaven had their liberty. Many remained faithful and some fell. And God would not look at them to stop them, and thus overturn their liberty; for if He did He would overturn the basis of immortality in the angels; and they had liberty beyond dispute; but he would not overturn it, because it is the basis of man's merit, and the basis of His own worship in heaven.
- And when man was created, and when Satan, the serpent, tempted Eve, could He not have looked at Eve and stopped her? Although all mankind were to be cast off, He would not overturn liberty in him, because He could not overturn the basis of human perfection and human immortality, and of His own worship. Heaven could not be founded if it were not for that. Although he saw that all mankind would fall, yet sooner than break man's liberty, He would not interfere.
- But I have a better fact than that - the Cross. Could He not have looked at Caiphas and Pilate, who tried Him, and stopped them? Could He not have looked at the executioners and stopped their hands as they were going to redden them in the blood of the Saviour? No. Although they were going to commit the largest crime eternity ever saw, or ever can see? No; He would not give them a look beyond the boundary of the legitimate exercise of their liberty.
These three cases are sufficient to show you how pertinacious God is in maintaining entire that grand principle of human liberty. He leaves us all to ourselves, but if we call for assistance, we will get it. He gives us a certain amount whether we call for it or not, but He does not touch the integrity of our liberty; because the whole merit of man's salvation, the whole purity of the worship of God, is founded upon that basis of moral liberty; and He would let heaven and earth be torn asunder sooner than touch that grand first principle.
You have heard this case and understand it, as far as I have gone with it. And now you will ask me, if God has given this liberty to man to do good or to do evil, this statement of yours cannot be right, because according to your arrangements a man need not commit evil at all. Certainly not; he could do all good. Then you say to me, "Will you tell us whether or not the angels, the archangels, cherubim, and seraphim, have any liberty now?" They have. "And if, so, whether or not they can abuse it?" No. And you ask, "How can they have it and not abuse it?" They have liberty perfect as before, and yet they cannot do evil. "Why?" I will give you the answer of the Fathers. "They have liberty, and cannot do evil." The Fathers say, "Take a wheel or a hoop, and lift it upon the side, and it will fall this way or that. At rest, by gravitation, it will drop down. But roll it forward with infinite velocity, and it cannot fall. It is driven forward in one direction with such velocity, the innate power to fall is taken away by a higher power." It still has the power in it? Decidedly; but the power of falling this side or that, though not taken out of it, is destroyed as to its exercise by the forward motion.
The same is correspondingly true of an angel or archangel. He has liberty, but he is in the presence of God, and is driven forward by such love to Him that he has not the power to exercise his liberty. Again, take the case of glass in the window. The glass is black, but you know the sun shines through it. But when the sun shines through it, you know it cannot be black. The sun changes it into its own beautiful transparency. You ask, me, was that black? Certainly. Is its nature black? Certainly. There is no light in its nature. Try it. It is not self-luminous. There is not a single ray of light in its nature. But its blackness and darkness are taken away as long as the light shines through it. So the spirits in heaven have the power of doing evil, but that power is taken away by the superabundance of Godlike light that passes through the soul. So you clearly perceive that neither the angel nor the archangel is deprived of his liberty, but the presence of God and the circumstances deprive him of the possibility of exercising it.
These thoughts are singular, but true. As long as these lamps are burning, the darkness cannot be here. They are incompatible with the existence of darkness. So long as the soul or the spirit stands before God, it is incompatible with their condition that they can do evil.
God's Character in Respect of Mankind
Now, to show you the character of God in respect of mankind. I read from Ezechiel, "As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of the sinner, but that the wicked may turn from his evil way and live." I say to the high Calvinist - Do you hear that? "As I live, saith the Lord, I will not the death of the sinner;" - "I do not wish it, but that the wicked may turn from his evil way and live. So far from wishing his death, I wish the contrary."
Christ, in St. Matthew, says: "It is not the will of my Father that is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." "It is not the will of my Father. He sent me that not even one of these little ones of all the world should perish." St. Paul says, "God wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." It is not predestinated that they are to be lost. He wishes them all to be saved. He does not say that He saves them all, but that He wishes it, leaving you to fill up the measure of the action. St. Paul to Timothy, "Jesus Christ gave Himself a redemption for all mankind." St. Paul to Timothy, "If any one sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ; and He is a propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world." He saves all; wishes all to be saved.
John the Baptist - "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world" - all the world. Christ says : "The bread I will give is My flesh for the life of the world. I came not to judge, but to save the world." He does not wish evil to anybody; wishes all to be saved, and gives His grace for it ; but you have to do the action yourself. He wishes the product, but you have to put the seed in. He wishes your children to know Christian knowledge, but you have to teach them to speak, and to teach them the Christian doctrine. He wishes to have them instructed, but you are to do it. They cannot speak of themselves, nor learn of themselves. That is your business. He wishes to change the wicked, and gives grace to save all.
Now let us read the text "We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good." So there is a regular work going on, and there is no predestination without work. "All things work together unto good to such as according to His purpose are called to be saints; for, whom He foreknew, them He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son." He saw mankind from eternity. Take a single man, John, for instance; and He saw that He was a moral, good man, a good husband, a good father, a good son, an honest man, a good citizen; and as he opposes no obstacle, He gave him grace particularly to reward his good conduct. Whom He foreknew before the world was made, He saw the way he would go on according to the use of his liberty.
It was not He that made him go on in that way. The man did it himself in the exercise of his liberty. Foreknowing from all eternity what kind of man he was, what did He do to him? He predestinated him to be made comformable to the image of His Son, to be brought by future grace into a higher position. I will give that man a little light. He is now in the dark. He is a pagan. I will give him a little light to direct his steps, and I will see how he will do with it. If he takes that and follows it, I will give him higher light - will make him according to his own exertions conformable to the image of Christ. "That he might be the first-born among many brethren. And whom He predestinated, them He also called."
First, this man is a moral, good man. I am looking at him in his own actions, in the exercise of his own liberty. I will give him a little light. If he does not go back I will lead him further, and I will certainly bring him to be made conformable to the image of Christ. He cannot be Christ, but I will make him conformable to His image. He will be the likeness of Him to a certain extent in his humility, his patience, his submission to My will; and so far as he can be I will bring him to be conformable to the image of Christ. "And whom He predestinated, them He also called." "And I will call that man into the Catholic Church". How will you call him? I will shipwreck him, if you like - throw him upon a Christian country. I will send a priest to him, if you please. I will make him travel. I will send an angel to him (which He has done); but beyond all doubt, I will call that man, if he perseveres.
"Then a great number ought to be saved, if that is the fact." Will you get a great number like that man? I foresaw that man's character - there was no mortal sin in it; and where will you get a great number of men without mortal sin? But get me the men, and I will venture to say I will do the rest. Whom He foreknew from his conduct He predestinated; and whom he predestinated, He called into the Church; and those who go on well after being called, them He also justified and will make perfect. And whom He justified, them He also glorified. "I will take him to Myself."
And there you see all things are working together, depending on the man's liberty. The whole are not predestinating him without his own exertions, but leading him step by step, by the proper exercise of his own liberty, until He calls him into the Church, makes him into a saint in this world, and glorifies him forever with Himself in the next. You see now the whole text, and you see that these men we are speaking of must be mad; for that whole text, instead of being in their favor, is quite against them. The whole text is - I do not wish anybody to be lost; I wish all men to be saved. You understand the text.
"We see God's character and our own, as far as you have developed it," but still you will say to me, "There are a great many lost, are there not?" Yes, but it is their own fault. "But you say that many are lost?" Certainly I do. "How will you account for that?" It is their own fault; they abused their liberty; like Lucifer, took the wrong side, and died under the justice of God ; they made their own bed in hell, and were lost. Yes, He did; but His foreseeing it had no influence on their conduct, any more than my foreseeing brought you to Church tonight, or will put you out of it, or will cause you to remain in it. His foreseeing does not make a man go this way or that way. I see you sitting there before me: I do not make you get up or go out.
God foreseeing men before this world was created, had nothing to do with their conduct, no influence on their actions. It is their own fault, if they are lost ; their damnation is at their own door. " But did He not decide their fate before they were born?" Before they were born in this world He did. "What do you mean by saying before they were born in this world?" Because He did not decide their fate before they were born in His decree, which was written long before the world was created. "His decree?" Certainly; all things that ever took place or ever will are written in His decree, for everything is before Him as present. You and I see the past in the present. He only surpasses us by seeing the future in the present. I look back to my childhood, and recollect things that occurred when I was four years of age. I look back to my education, see my companions in college; look back to all the places I was ever in. There is no past in it. I cannot tell how I have that. It is a property of my being as a man, human creature. I make no exertions to see these things; they are before me just as you are. God only surpasses us by seeing the future as well as the past. I do not look back. I think, and all my past life is before me, and here you are both together. We are very like Him, you see. As we see all past things, He sees all future things. Future things, you say, have no real existence. I want to know what kind of existence past things have in your head. You will find that future things are about the same things as past ones. He sees all things future. You see the things that have been done, but His looking on has nothing to do with our conduct.
"Yes, but did He not see and decide my fate before I was born." Yes, before you were born in this world, but not before you were born in His decree, where everything was written. All things, past, present, and future, are before Him. That is His character, and that will be our character before God in heaven. Millions of years in heaven are like a second; and the soul's memory is perfect: and we shall know each other far better in heaven than here. You forget a man here for the want of memory. "I know," said Job, "I will see my Saviour in my own flesh, and with my own eyes." No other man's eyes will see Him for us. There, before the throne of God, we shall recognize and see each other. Men will know us better than they do now. You tell me now that your fate was decided before you were born. Born where? Look at the decree of God ; and you see there your birth written down, and next your life, and then your death, and God's decision under that again. How could He decide until He saw your life? And how could He see your death before your birth? The thing is absurd; He could not do it, and, therefore, you will see your birth written at the top of the decree; then your whole life under that; and then your death under that; and then His decision under that. So your fate is decided before you are born here, but it is not decided until after your life and death is seen.
There is no pre-judgment, but a post-judgment. He reads your life and death, and then decides. His decision is not before your death, but after it, in His imperial, eternal decree. The whole of this is before you were born into this world, but not before you were in His decree. There is not the least difference between Him and the judge in your own assizes, except that the judge of the assizes cannot foresee the case; it must be argued before he sees it; but God foresees the whole case and judges; but it is after He has seen your birth, life, and death in His decree. It is a post-judgment, not an after-judgment, "So His decision is after my death?" Decidedly. "But when He foresaw it, must it not be the case?" No, indeed not; if you asked otherwise it would be different. "Is not His decision a cruel thing?" Not at all. It would be, if He made your case. But you make the case yourself. He only judges your case. You can no more change Him than you could a judge of the land. How could you say to him: " You are a cruel person, to adjudge me to be hanged." "No, I am not cruel; I did not make your case. You made your case yourself. Why do you charge me with leading you into crime? You made your own case. I barely judge." God can say to the soul: "You made your own case; I judge. You could have made it different, and my judgment would be different. I barely judge in My justice your case; but you made it. I saw before the world began what you would do; I drew out my decision, having seen your birth, life, and death."
But you still argue the case : "Could not God make all saints, and make no wicked men?" No, He could not do that, in the present order of things. Many a father and mother may be lost, and the child saved. If he could not make any but saints you could not have been parents, and you would not have been alive in heaven. That would be punishing virtue to save vice. "Why did He make man in his liberty?" For good. "Why did He make any but the virtuous?" From the reasons I have stated. "But can God save us at our death?" Yes, He will if you repent; but He won't do so if you don't repent. "But no matter what sin we commit, cannot God save us after our death?" I won't say what He cannot do or can do; but it is a clear case that if He saves a man after a life of sin, He contradicts Christ. And Christ will stand in heaven equal with His Father, and He will say When I was on earth, I said that no man could be saved unless he died under My blood. I said that neither the drunkard, nor murderer, nor perjurer can enter heaven - this man is all; and I said - Without repentance, no man can be saved. This man never repented. If You save him, You make the Gospel I preached a mockery, and My Cross a cruelty. This man is without Me, and You save him without Me. Why did You make Me die, if You can do without the Cross if You can save him not only without My blood, but against it? Why did You make Me die ? The whole Gospel is a mockery, and the Cross is a cruelty, for it appears You can do without it. Therefore, Christ addresses the Father "I am Your equal; I cannot allow Myself to be un-Goded; and if this man is saved I am un-Goded before My own court. I am made a liar, and I cannot be made a liar before My own court. I stand here to resist that man's entrance into heaven, the same as I would stand here to advocate his entrance if he died in Me. My Father will not save a man without repentance. It would be canonizing vice and trampling on virtue."
Then the damned soul addresses Christ "O Lord Jesus Christ, if we die in this position are we lost forever?" Lost forever. "Is there no hope?" No hope. "What have we done, poor worms of the earth that we are, to call for such a terrific manifestation of your anger?" You have committed the largest crime known to eternity - you dipped your hands into the red blood of the innocent Jesus. You are worse than the Jews. They did not know what they did; you did. You were aware that the Jews crucified the Son of God. You knew it through life; and you ratified the act by participating in their iniquity. You have committed a very great sin. That was before Me the day I was crucified, and helped to crucify Me. You are one of the accomplices. My crucifixion was not brought about by men, but by sin; it was sin that crucified Me; and if one man kill a man, or with ten men, they are all equally guilty. Your sins were among the sins that brought Me to the Cross. You are, therefore, an accomplice, whether one man crucifies Me, or millions of generations. All are equally guilty, as if only one man put Me to death. They all share the same crime. Your hands are, therefore, red with my blood. You never washed it off with repentance, and you stand before Me as one of the worst accomplices of My crucifixion. You committed, therefore, the largest crime known to the history of God - dipped your murderous hands in the scarlet blood of the Saviour. You are lost forever.
"No hope?" No hope. "Eternal fire?" Eternal fire. "Infinite anger?" Infinite anger. "Infinite duration?" Infinite duration. "Three infinities?" Three infinities. "Infinite anger, infinite fire, infinite duration - what have we done to deserve three infinities?" You deserve an infinity multiplied by a million of infinities. As the Saviour is God, and the highest being in heaven, your crime rises in malignity in proportion to His character; and as He is infinity multiplied by infinity, your crime against Him is so large that even infinity cannot express it. "Forever lost?" Forever lost.
"Is there no excuse for passion ?" None whatever. The saints all say - We were subject to passions; we committed sins. Christ was subject to passions, and without sin. We were subject to passion, and it was by overcoming our passions that we wear these crowns of glory. Do not say that passions brought damnation on you. Passions made us what we are.
"But poverty?" Then the canonized saints say - We were poor, and our poverty saved us.
"But we were persecuted?" Then all the conference rise up and say - We were persecuted, and our persecutions gave us seats near Christ. And the martyrs stand up and say - We were persecuted; look at our red clothes. We were flayed alive, roasted on spits, boiled in boiling caldrons of oil. Look at our red clothes now made white. It was suffering made us what we are.
"But is the care of wealth no excuse?" And kings stood up and said - We had crowns, but by the proper distribution of our wealth we were saved.
"Our ignorance?" Say all the poor, we neither knew how to read or write. See Mary, My Mother, crowned with the twelve stars on her head, and see all poor around her. There is no excuse, no hope, there never can be an end.
"But can't You save me?" "I did not make Myself," says God, "nor My attributes. I am the essence of things. I am two and two are four; I never can be five. I did not make My justice, My sanctity, nor My mercy. They were made with Me; they came into existence along with My own person inseparably connected with Myself. You mistake My nature. I intended you for good. You brought the evil upon yourself. I intended you to die under My mercy, but you have chosen to die under My justice. The kingdom of hell is as well founded as the kingdom of heaven. I am as much God by punishing crime as by rewarding virtue. You mistake Me; you forget yourself even. There was a time I did not create anything.
"I created you for good; I gave you a mind to direct you; I gave you grace to inspire you and instruct you. You resisted everything, you made your bed in hell, and you shall enjoy it forever. I cannot change; I am unchangeable. You can change, but I cannot. I am the essence of things; you brought damnation on yourself; and now you shall be removed as far from Me as thought can reach. You shall be put away in the dark where no spent ray of creation shall reach you; century after century shall roll away, and million after million of years, and your terrors will be but just begun. I am as much God by pronouncing sentence of perdition, as by bringing all these into eternal happiness. I did not predestinate you to be lost; you had your liberty; you abused it. Nor did I predestinate these to be saved. They had their liberty and they used it properly."
Now, if what I state be true - and it is as true as God - must not a man be perfectly out of his senses if he allows six o'clock to rise on him tomorrow unless he changes his life ? If a little bird were to come to this earth at the end of every million of years, and take away a single grain of sand at a time, the time would come when it would be all gone; but the terrors of the damned will be but just begun.
"But cannot fire burn it out?" No. All time is the stroke of a pendulum; and how can the stroke of a pendulum change vice into virtue ? You must repent here if you are to be saved. If you allow this life to pass, your foot is slipped from the shore, and you are gone into a new territory. If I could only take one sinner in this congregation and make a good man of him, should I not be the happiest man in the world? Many a man often comes out of curiosity to hear a man and goes away converted, and goes on his knees, and says from this day forward I will never go back to sin. I think whenever I talk with such firmness and emphasis as I do at present, I am sure that a random shot will hit some man. I shall conclude by thanking you for coming out in the frost to-night to hear me, but I do from the bottom of my heart pray that if there be any one sinner in this Church that finds his mind changed as it ought to be, that God will continue His grace to take him out of the possession of the devil, and bring him to God and eternal happiness,