The Doctrine Of The Annihilation Of The Wicked -- By: William L. Parsons

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:77 (Jan 1863)
Article: The Doctrine Of The Annihilation Of The Wicked
Author: William L. Parsons

The Doctrine Of The Annihilation Of The Wicked

Rev. William L. Parsons

The Maker of the human soul, it may be granted, can, if he choose, terminate its existence. If annihilation be the appointed destiny of any of our race, the record of the fact will naturally be found in the Bible; and the question must be mainly decided on scripture grounds. The burden of proof, of course, rests upon those who affirm the doctrine.

Before considering the argument which annihilationists attempt to make from the Bible, we shall do well to take notice of the underlying fact, that their current reasoning is an assault upon the prevailing doctrine of future eternal punishment, which they assume to be inconsistent with the benevolence of God.

Mr. Hudson, their ablest writer, quotes a mournful strain from Mr. Barnes, in which he confesses that his mind is tortured with the fact “that the immortal soul should be allowed to jeopard its infinite welfare, and that trifles should be allowed to draw it away from God and virtue and heaven; that any should suffer forever — lingering on in hopeless despair, and rolling amidst infinite torments without the possibility of alleviation, and without end; that since God can save men, and will save a part, he has not purposed to save all; that, on the supposition that the atonement is ample, and that the blood of Christ can cleanse from all sin, it is not in fact applied to all; that, in a word, a God who claims to be worthy of the confidence of the universe, and to be a being of infinite benevolence, should make such a world as this, full of sinners and sufferers; and that, when an atonement had been made, he did not save all the race, and put an end to sin and woe forever.”

The difficulty thus felt by Mr. Barnes, has burdened the minds of men of all schools in theology and philosophy; and they have sought, in different ways, so to vindicate the justice and benevolence of God, as to afford the relief which the human sensibility naturally craves from conclusions so painful as this picture presents.

One class of theologians resolves it into a question of divine sovereignty which, as yet, admits of no solution satisfactory to reason; and they demand that reason shall stand in awe and be silent before the sovereign majesty of God.

Another class justifies God on the ground of man’s moral agency. They insist that God has made man in his own constitutional image, as his infinite benevolence dictated; that he has made the best possible provision for the salvation of moral agents; and, therefore, that if any reject life and persist in sin, and incur its penalty, there remains no good reason why the loyal subjects of Go...

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