by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXIII

June, 1944

Number 12

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

Paul prays, "Now may the God of Expectation be filling you with all joy and peace in believing, for you to be superabounding in expectation, in the power of holy spirit," Rom. 15:13.  Whether or not this will be our portion, depends on what we believe.  

Saurin, a celebrated preacher of France, who lived more than a hundred years ago, and who was known as a fervent "hell-fire" preacher, broke out into the following lament at the close on one of his sermons on endless misery: "I sink!  I sink under the awful weight of by subject; and I declare, when I see my friends, my relatives, the people of my charge, this whole congregation; when I think that I, that you, that we are all threatened with these torments/ when I see in the lukewarmness of my devotions, in the languor of my love, in the levity of my resolutions and designs, the least evidence, though it be only presumptive, of my future misery, yet I find in the thought a mortal poison, which diffuseth itself into every period of my life, rendering society tiresome, nourishment insipid, pleasure disgustful, and life itself a cruel bitter.  I cease to wonder that the fear of hell hath made some mad and others melancholy."  When a man finds only misery in what he believes, can it be that he is believing the truth?  Is not the truth supposed to make us free?  And is not freedom from fear a very blessed freedom?  

More than a century ago the "encyclopedia Americana" had this to say about William Cowper, a writer of many "religious" hymns: "He was led into a deep consideration of his religious state; and, having imbibed the doctrine of election and reprobation in its most appalling rigor, he was led to a very dismal state of apprehension.  We are told that the terror of eternal judgment overpowered and actually disordered his faculties; and he remained seven months in a continual expectation of being instantly plunged into eternal misery."  We are told by other sources that he died under this dreadful fear.  

About a hundred and ten or fifteen years ago there died, in New England, Dr. Austin, who, it was well known, had entertained and preached the doctrine of endless misery.  The Rev. Dr. Tenney preached his funeral, and said, "For the last three or four years a thick and dark cloud enveloped in dismay, the mind of our revered friend.  He lost nearly all hope of his own reconciliation to God, and interest in the Redeemer.  He sank into a settled, deep, religious melancholy, which occasionally appeared in paroxysms of despair and horror.  His bitter moans were, at times, sufficient to ring with sympathetic anguish, the most unfeeling heart."  

I knew a preacher in Alabama who taught that God predestinated part of the human family to endless misery in a burning hell.  In his last days he became darkened in his mind, and it became known to all his acquaintances that he had lost all expectation of bliss for himself.  So far as I know, he died in that state of mind.  This explains why many preachers, while subscribing to the doctrine of endless torment, do not preach it unless forced by circumstances to do so.  They say they prefer to preach something more pleasant.  When I was orthodox I was not nearly so happy as I am now.  While I had no fear of torment for myself, I believed others were going into such a condition.  Still, in the light of my experiences since, I now wonder if I really believed it as strongly as I thought I did.  It seems to me now, that if I sincerely entertained such thoughts, I would become insane. 

More than a century ago, appeared this objection to the Teaching: "It is not safe to adopt universal salvation, for it be not true, and it may not be, then, trusting to it, I shall lose my soul.  Whereas, if it be true, and I adopt the contrary belief, I am, nevertheless, safe."  The following is part of the reply, given by Thomas Whittemore, in 1840: "If the doctrine of endless misery should at least prove true, (God forgive the supposition,) we see no reason why the believer in that doctrine would not as likely be lost, as the sincere believer in universal salvation.  It certainly cannot excite anger in God for men to believe Him better than He really is; and how it will recommend a man to God's favor to attribute Him the disposition of a demon, we have no means of knowing.  As to this life, the believer of universal salvation has the advantage over every other man in the world.  He is filed with joy and peace in believing." 

Here are other quotations form Whittemore: "Is the believer in endless misery satisfied with it?—That the doctrine of endless misery was held, without exception, in the dark ages of the church, is no argument in its favor.—When the doctrine of universal salvation was first condemned, it was done by wicked men, whose hearts were filled with emnity against those who held that doctrine, and who were plotting their destruction.—We have seen too often the dreadful effects resulting from endless misery, to be indifferent to the subject.  We have known people grievously tormented with the fear of being cast off forever, so much so, that at times they have been actually insane; and not a few cases of suicide have resulted from this cause.—when we see the deep misery and heartfelt anguish which a sincere belief in the doctrine of endless torment occasions, the heart bleeds for the unhappy sufferers, and we pray God most earnestly that they may be saved from the influence of such a 'faith.'  We have a deep solicitude for the salvation of such persons from the 'fear that hath torment.'  No instance of persecution can be pointed out in all the history of the church, which can be justly attributed to those who believe that God will, at last, have mercy on all.—We believe that, as Jesus Christ died for all men, so all men will be saved.—Men will not be forced; they will be drawn.  They will not be dragged to heaven against their wills, for the people of Christ will be willing in the day of His power.—As God wills the salvation of all men, and is able to do all His will, all men will be saved.—God will have all men to be saved, saith Paul to Timothy.  This will of God cannot fail, for He doeth His will among the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; none can stay His hand, or say to Him, Why doest Thou so?—Paul declares that every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ the Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  

John Murray was one of the earliest advocates of the Teaching in the United States.  After filling hundreds of pulpits throughout the land, he came to his death rejoicing in the great truth that had animated his long ministry.  In the last hour of his life he dwelt with rapture on the inspiring theme that had so refreshed his spirit through the years.  He died with the greatest of all truth on his lips.  

It is said of Elhanan Winchester, one of the ablest exponents of the salvation of all mankind, that when he was dying, in 1797, he requested that a hymn be sung at his bedside, by three young ladies.  He joined in the singing, after telling them that he might die before the song could be finished.  Before the singing was done he was able to join only in the first line of each stanza, and as the voices of the singers died away, the man of God ceased to breathe.  Dr. Strong, a Presbyterian minister, and a strong opponent of the doctrine Winchester had preached, conducted the funeral, and "bore frank testimony to his final constancy in the doctrine which he had preached."  

Three Greek words are translated "hell."  They are: Gehenna, the land of Hinton, a valley near Jerusalem, which shall be used as an incinerator of dead criminals during the kingdom, Mark 9:43 and Isa. 65:23, 24; Hades, the unseen, which is the "home of the souls of the dead, Ps. 16:10 and Acts 2:27, and which shall be swallowed up by the lake of fire at the time of the white throne judgment, Rev. 20:14; and Tartarus, the prison house of sinning messengers, II Pet. 2:4.  Paul carefully refrained from mentioning either of these.  He knew that all would cease to function long before the consummation.  He was aware, on the other hand, that death would remain until the consummation.  Death is the supreme penalty.  It is worse than anything else God does to any of His creatures.  But the apostle knew that it will be abolished at the consummation.  Therefore he did not spend one moment grieving over the ultimate "fate"  of any person.  He knew God's ultimate, which is salvation, justification, vivification and reconciliation for all.  

Therefore, while Paul was concerned about his ministry, and the welfare of the people, he did not spend a life of dread, either for himself or any other person.  He could say, "Be rejoicing in the Lord."  And he set the example.  All who believe the truth concerning God's goal for humanity and the universe, shall be filled with all joy and peace in believing. 

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