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whether a man be of Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or what not; if he be not of Christ, he never will get to heaven, whatever set or sect he may belong to.
CAPTAIN GLIB.—How do you know that? You speak as if you knew all about these things to a dead certainty, and as if all other opinions but yours were only smoke and nonsense.
PETER. —And so they are, all that goes against the Word of God; for we get our knowledge only from him, and we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen. Certainly a loving God would not leave us in doubt which was the way to hell, and which the path to Heaven. CAPTAIN GLIB.-Oh we don't want any of
fire and brimstone preaching. Men can be drawn by love much more easily. And as to the hell you speak of; why, every man may have his share of that in this world, and be purified by it.
PETER.—Just as if a man could be purified by hell- · fire, as if he were a mere piece of gold, or copper put in a crucible. The hell of sinners is not a purgatory nor a hospital, nor is it a house of correction, but of final punishment, so that believers in Christ may not come into that place of torment. But if we die in our sins, after Christ has offered to save us, we shall have our part in the lake that burneth with
9 John iii. 11.
fire and brimstone, which God tells us means the second death; 10 where the Lord Jesus has said that “their worm dieth not, and the fire shall never be quenched.”+1 Furthermore, they who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power, when he shall come in flaming fire with all the holy angels, taking vengeance on the wicked who once neglected and despised him, when they might have been saved by him." But why should Christ, the Son of God, come into the world to die for sinners, if there be no Eternal Death of the soul to be saved from? How impossible that there should ever be the falsehood of such a death set agoing in this world, to frighten innocent men, and make them all their lifetime through fear of death subject unto bondage?
At these words Captain Glib seemed for a moment confounded, and turned and said something to the man Deism who stood by; whereupon the same person took up the word, and said, Men have got light enough by nature to sail by, if they will only use it.
Oh yes, answered Peter, plenty enough; and good enough; but if they put it out, or blindfold their
10 Rev. xix. 20; xx. 14. 12 2 Thess. i. 9.
u Mark ix. 46. 13 Heb. ii. 15.
own eyes, what then? And if the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness ! 14 There's many a false light, on many a coast, and many a reef in the ocean without a light. And there are many men whose understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts; 15 and such men go blindfold to perdition. You may think you are safe enough, when you are next door to ruin.
No man is safe, even with the Word of God in his possession, but only by constant watchfulness unto prayer. God has given us that Word, and Jesus Christ is its interpreter, as to all things contained in it, especially those concerning himself who only is the Author and Finisher of Faith.16
He himself is Lord also of the Sabbath, which we observe here on the Wide Ocean as sacredly as Christians anywhere upon the land. For the day is as good and the worship as heavenly for those that go down to the sea in ships and do business in the great waters, as for those that gather in meeting-houses, and cathedrals and synagogues and temples on the land. Anywhere and everywhere, God is a Spirit, and requireth us to worship him in Spirit and in truth.?? But what is the need of his telling us that he is a Spirit and that we must so worship him, if all mankind are acceptable worshippers, whether they worship images or idols or African fetiches, if they are only sincere? Any man may be as sincere in his devotions as he is in his sins; and as safe, any way, God or no God, if sincerity be indeed his Saviour.
14 Matt. vi. 23. 16 Heb. xii. 2.
15 Eph. iv. 18. 17 John iv. 24.
Well, said Deism, and who is to be the judge? A man's own conscience must guide him, according to his liglit. And if he is faithful to his conscience, God will accept him, right or wrong; no matter for the manner or mistakes of his worship.
But where do you find that, answered Peter? Not in the Bible, certainly; for Christ says, In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." For God will judge the world, not by men's laws, or opinions, or beliefs, or sincerities, but by his own word, and a conscience towards him. No teacher or preacher, not even Paul or Isaiah, is right, or can be right, but by a conscience towards God, and towards his Word; and there can be no such thing as a sincere conscience towards God, denying that word. No help for those who do not believe in Christ, neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.19 And the Son of Man has come into this world, for this one purpose, to seek and to save that which was lost. But none of us can be saved, except we believe in him. For there is an evil conscience in every sinful man, as well as a good conscience in every good man.
18 Matt. xv. 9.
Then Captain Glib again took up the word and said, But we also, by steam navigation, are advancing according to the progressive spirit of the age. We can no longer consent to be bound down by a creed set up two thousand years ago, when everything else to-day is marching free, and the Bible itself is being reconstructed by the New Science of the Critical Nineteenth century, in which, as all the world knows, a great many manuscripts have been discovered, such as the Lord Jesus himself could have had no knowledge of, and of course could not have consulted. But we have the advantage of that great increase of light; so that our critical conjectures are far ahead of the knowledge of the Apostles themselves. As to the Word of God we are to interpret that according to the increase of our own wisdom; and having discovered within a few years so great a quantity of Manuscripts, we are obliged to overhaul the old text, and revise our old transla
19 Acts iv. 12.