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THE BRIDGELESS GULF.
Luke xvi. 26. And, besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixod: 80 that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neithor can thoy pass to us, that would come from thence.
The evident meaning of the text is, that the rich man could expect no relief from heaven. Not only could Lazarus bring him none, but none could be brought. There was no communication between the two worlds. They were forever separated by an impassable gulf! and whether its bottomless caverns will ever be filled, or a bridge erected, I shall, at present, leave those to guess, who venture to doubt the plainest text, who dare to die in their sins, who hope to reach heaven by the way of hell, and who hang that forlorn hope upon a straw.
Two points the parable settles :—that the wicked shall be punished, and that they shall be punished after death. The rich man had received his good things. Now the beggar receives his; and the gulf that separates them is impassable. Christ did not make Abraham say that the rich man had received part of his good things, and that the gulf was not passable at present. We seem to be taught the irreparable loss of his soul. To say the contrary is to charge Christ with using a figure calculated to deceive, and this is to blasphemously impeach his truth and his goodness.
Christ would not have represented the rich man as dying, and then lifting up his eyes in torment, if sinners were not punished after death. Nor would he have represented him as separated from the smallest comfort by an impassable gulf, if there were any possible relief for those who once make their bed in hell !
And those who deny that there is any hell but the grave, will gain nothing, when they understand this parable. Be it the grave or not, the rich man found it a place of torment; a place where sensitive beings enjoy no comforts, not even a drop of water to cool their tongues ; a place partitioned off from heaven by a gulf impassable. I will here stop to quote one or two texts more, to show the weakness as well as wickedness of supposing that the Scriptures recognise no other hell but the grave. « The wicked shall be turned into hell," and so will the righteous, if this sentiment be correct--for the righteous, as well as the wicked, commonly find a grave. He who does not cut off a right hand and pluck out a right eye that offends, is in danger of having his whole body cast into hell. But if hell be only the grave, the whole body must be cast thither, whether the offending member be amputated or not. We read, that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. Did any one ever suppose, that the revolting angels were buried in the earth? Who that has common sense, and can use it, ever thought of putting spirits in a grave? Besides, we read of the fire, the brimstone, the darkness, and the torments of hell! Can this hell be the grave? My dear hearers, I cannot spend your time to confute an error so