Six Sermons on the Inquiry Is There Immortality in Sin and Suffering?



“Ye shall not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. SSII 45.1

Our Saviour saith, the old serpent - “the devil, is a liar and the father of it.” He commenced his attack on our race by saying they should “not surely die,” if they did disobey God. He was successful in that game, and has played the same card, in some form, on men, ever since he first swept Paradise with it. He told Eve that the God of love could not give place to such feelings as to cut them off from life if they did disobey. He has never forgotten his success. True, he has turned his card since, but it is the same card still. It has still inscribed on it - “Ye shall not SURELY DIE.” Now he makes use of it to insinuate that God does not love or pity man, seeing He has determined that man shall not DIE, but be kept alive in eternal and indescribable torments, for sins committed on earth, or hereafter to be committed in the theological hell, where it is impossible for the miserable ones to cease from sin! SSII 45.2

As the doctrine, “Ye shall not surely die,” had its origin with the old serpent, I cannot divest myself of the conviction that the notion that wicked men will be kept eternally alive in torments, and never die, had its origin from the same source, as it appears to be a perfect fac-simile; and that it was invented to inspire hard thoughts of God and keep men from turning to Him by repentance and faith, or confidence, and acknowledging their sins against the God of love. And I solemnly believe, this doctrine has kept more away from God, and driven them into infidelity, than any other doctrine that was ever promulgated. I am solemnly convinced that it has done more to destroy men than all other errors put together. SSII 45.3

For, if some minds have been temporarily affected by it, they are seldom found to be uniform Christians, and hardly pretend to live in obedience to God, unless under some strong excitement; multitudes of others, without any proper reflection upon the claims of God’s law, have rejected eternal punishment, because of the nature of that which the “orthodox” say is to be inflicted; whilst others have lived and died in real infidelity, or what has been called so, because they could not believe that a Being whose word declares that He “is love” could inflict such a punishment on even the worst and most bitter of His enemies. SSII 46.1

But I will not detain you longer with an introduction. I shall attempt to show you, that the death God has threatened, as the wages of sin, is not immortality in misery, but an actual and total deprivation of life. I say, then, in opposition to the old serpent, if men do not come to Christ, that they may have life, they SHALL surely die - past hope, past recovery. SSII 46.2

Let me here briefly recall attention to the question at issue. It is not whether man can be immortal, nor whether the righteous will be immortal, but will the conscious being of the wicked be eternal? Is the punishment of the wicked interminable being in sin and suffering? or an eternal cessation from life? SSII 46.3

I use the term immortal, in these discourses, in its commonly received meaning, i.e. according to Grimshaw, “exempt from death;” and according to Walker, “never to die - never ending, perpetual.” Strictly speaking, immortality is the development of life through an indestructible organization, so far as it relates to created beings. SSII 46.4

In my first sermon I had brought the subject down to the inquiry, SSII 47.1