The Scriptural Doctrine Of A Future State -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:59 (Jul 1858)
Article: The Scriptural Doctrine Of A Future State
Author: E. P. Barrows

The Scriptural Doctrine Of A Future State

E. P. Barrows

We cannot but attach a high significance to the fact, that of all the writers who have denied the doctrine of eternal punishment, in the proper sense of the words, not one, so far as our knowledge extends, has begun with the direct scriptural argument. Not one appears to have been led by the simple declarations of the Bible concerning the future state of the wicked to the conclusion either that they will all be finally made blessed, or that they will all be annihilated. So far as our observation goes, they have always begun with the proposition, that the received doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked cannot be consistent with God’s goodness, and therefore cannot be true; and, after laboring at great length to fortify this position, they have then come to the work of bringing the declarations of Scripture into harmony with it. A striking illustration of this method of procedure we have in a volume now before us, entitled: The Doctrine of a Future Life,1 in which the author labors to establish the position that the everlasting punishment of the wicked will consist in their annihilation after the final judgment. The body of the work consists of 468 pages. Of these only 67 are devoted to the “scriptural argument,” and of these sixty-seven pages, the last eleven are occupied with the consideration of the “indirect scriptural argument,” drawn from the supposed opinions of the Jews on the subject of the future state in our Lord’s day. In the 169 pages that precede this scriptural argument, the author labors to show that, upon none of the philosophical grounds upon which the doctrine of eternal punishment has been maintained, can it possibly

be defended. He is fully in earnest to show that the eternal persistence of moral evil is and must be in irreconcilable contradiction with the true idea of God. The following extracts, taken, one from the portion preceding, the other from that following, the Biblical Argument, are samples of the manner in which he discourses on this solemn and awful theme. Speaking of the argument for the necessity of endless penalty as a means to maintain confidence in the divine government he says:

“Must the eternal peace and happiness of all beings depend on the co-eternal anguish of those who have begun to sin? Are the delights of Paradise and the fulness of joy’ not sufficient to restrain the world from plunging into the abyss of annihilation? So far as human beings have lost confidence in God or creature, is it not more restored by the renewal of a single heart in the image of Christ, than by the supposed exposure of millions to eternal woe...

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