A TREATISE ON FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION: IN WHICH ARE ILLUSTRATED THE PROFESSION, MINISTRY, AND FAITH OF THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS

Jesse Kersey

Philadelphia: Emmor Kimbor, 1815. Pages 67-71.


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REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS

[p. 67] In relation to this subject, we resort, as in other cases, to the doctrine of the Scriptures. Our belief in them, I have already said, is confirmed by the concurrent evidence of the Spirit of Truth; without which we apprehend no one can be a true believer, but only led to a traditional and implicit belief. Concerning rewards and punishments, it is very clear that the Savior of men has taught this doctrine; and with it may be connected the belief of [p. 68] immortality, and the resurrection both of the just and the unjust. "And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungered and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in, or naked and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer, and say unto them, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on his left hand, depart from me, ye cursed; into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Matt. 25:32-42. [p. 69] Many other passages might be taken to prove that rewards and punishments are the manifest doctrines of Jesus Christ, and as certainly as we believe him to be the Son of God, the Lord from heaven, a quickening Spirit, the judge of quick and dead, so certainly we profess to believe and teach this doctrine. But to know the terrors of the Lord for sin, to be humbled under the power of his mighty hand, and really to experience the weight of the dispensation of condemnation, is the most effectual convincement, that the transgressor is absolutely and positively separated from the love and favour of his Lord; and we believe that this has been the humbling dispensation by which many have been brought to believe in the doctrine of rewards and punishments; and to be awfully convinced that if the soul departed out of time in this dark and desperate state, it would be without any qualification for happiness. But though we are satisfied, according to the Scriptures, that if we die in our sins, where our Lord is we cannot come, yet we are also satisfied that his tender mercy waits long for transgressing mortals, and his calls of kindness are in many ways communicated to them, to repent, return and live. [P. 70] But if all these are rejected, and men harden the heart and stiffen the neck, and will none of his reproof, then the awful moment we believe will come when it will be said, "depart from me, ye workers of iniquity; and let him that is filthy, be filthy still." Whilst I have been stating the doctrine of Christianity, and the profession of the Society on this very serious subject, my soul is moved within me by a renewed remembrance of the wormwood and the gall; by a fresh sense of the awful impression which I have experienced under the righteous judgments of God, for the sins of my youth. And though it may be a digression from the subject, I will here express the tender solicitude I feel, that none may quench the Spirit, or evade the Holy discipline of the cross of Christ; lest they finally fall, never to rise again into the privilege of salvation.

I have before stated, that with the doctrine of rewards and punishments is connected that of the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection both of the just and the unjust. Such a resurrection the Society of Friends believe in, according to the Scriptures. I have often marveled why any discussion or ground of dispute should exist upon this subject; and yet it is one [P. 71] about which much has been said. Here also we resort to the doctrine of the Scriptures, and are satisfied with what we apprehend they teach in the case. Paul has said on this subject, "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory, so also in the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." 1 Cor. 15:40-45. And again, in the same chapter, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." 50. And again, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 55, 54. One more passage I shall offer from the scriptures on this subject, and afterwards leave the reader to his own conclusions. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the Spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Eccl. 12:7.

Next: Days and Times.