• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • March 2023
    M T W T F S S
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The Need for Rebirth

The Lord declares that a great and wondrous change is needful to salvation. It is not merely an alteration of life. It is a thorough change of heart, will, and character. Archibald Alexander explains:

Men are satisfied commonly if they can so regulate their lives as to escape the censure of men, and the disgrace which follows wicked actions, but they pay little attention to their hearts which are as a cage of unclean birds. Most men are not in the habit of judging of their thoughts, imaginations and feelings, by the holy law of God, which condemns every wandering of desire, every unhallowed temper, and every want of supreme and perfect love. If we look upon our own hearts we must be convinced that all is not right within. If our hearts are naturally good, why do they turn away with strong secret aversion from the spiritual service of God? If our hearts are not dead to God, why are we not daily delighted with the contemplation of his glorious attributes? Why is prayer a burden? Why are we so entirely engrossed with sensible and worldly pursuits and pleasures? And if the moral and amiable need regeneration, what shall we say of the multitudes who are living in open rebellion against God? The profane, the unjust, the intemperate, the licentious, the scoffer, the false-swearer, the defrauder of the widow and the orphan, the sabbath-breaker, the liar, the neglecters of God’s worship, the slanderer, and a multitude of others who live habitually in known sin, surely need to be reformed, and they will never be thoroughly reformed until they are regenerated. Such must put off the old man with his corrupt deeds, and put on the new man. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God who will abundantly pardon.” There is an urgent necessity that every sinner should repent, for true repentance is unto life. And what our Lord declared to the Jews is true of all, and was intended for all. “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish,” and Paul preached to the Athenians that “God now commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, of which he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Evangelical repentance, conversion and regeneration, are substantially the same. They all signify a thorough change of views, affections, purposes and conduct; and this change is every where declared to be essential to salvation. And this is not a merely arbitrary constitution. No one is capable of the enjoyment of heavenly felicity who has never been born again. Without spiritual life, what would the sinner do in heaven? If men have no love to God, nor relish for his service, heaven is no place for them. Heaven is a holy place, and all the exercises and employments are holy, therefore, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” And to be holy, ye must be born again. (“A Practical View of Regeneration”)

The Necessity of Regeneration

The following essay, by Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), was originally published in the Princeton Theological Review, 1836. From these excerpts we find that no one is capable of enjoying heaven that has never been born again. If men do not love God, nor desire to be in His service; what uses have they for heaven? Archibald Alexander writes:

The proof of the wickedness of man is found in every part of the Bible; and it is a truth confirmed by all history and experience. That a reformation would be desirable, and that all men need to be made better than they are, will not be denied. But there is a deep-rooted opinion in the minds of men, that this reformation and return to the service of God will be easy whenever they shall determine upon it. The need for supernatural power to regenerate the soul is not commonly felt; and when men begin to be convinced of their impotence as it relates to holy acts, they are prone to make their depravity, which is the only cause of their inability, their excuse.

The necessity of regeneration arises from the fact, that man by the fall has become dead in sin. Spiritual life is extinct, and, therefore, if any are saved, they must be regenerated. Life cannot spring from death. Life is a gift of God in all cases. He breathed into man, when his body was formed out of the clay, the breath of life. It would be as reasonable to believe that the organized body could inspire itself with life, as that the dead soul can perform acts of spiritual life. All men having fallen into the same spiritual death, all need regeneration. Some men are amiable in their natural temper and regular in their external behavior; but these also are naturally blind and depraved. They have no right apprehensions of God, no holy affections towards him, no cheerful and habitual purpose to serve him. They need therefore to be converted, however highly they may be esteemed among men. Though such, like the young ruler who came to Christ, may have many amiable qualities which entitle them to the love of their friends, yet, like him, they may lack one thing. Their hearts may be fixed, like his, on worldly objects. Let all such, therefore, be assured that, as well as others, they must be born again. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God searches the heart; and often that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Under a fair exterior there often lies concealed a heart full of unbelief, pride, and ingratitude. By the restraints of education, an enlightened conscience, and a regard to reputation, sin may be kept from breaking out into enormous and shameful actions; but the seeds of all iniquity are concealed in every heart. (“A Practical View of Regeneration”)

Man’s Natural State

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) originally published this essay in the Princeton Theological Review, 1836. In these excerpts, Alexander describes the alienation of man from God:

That human nature has lost that moral purity and perfection with which it was originally endued, is a truth which lies at the heart of the Christian religion. Indeed, we see not how it can be denied by the deist, without casting a gross reflection on the character of God. It is only from the Scriptures, however, that we learn the origin of evil. Here we read that God made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions. Man being in honor continued not. When God created man he formed him in his own image and after his own likeness; and what that image consisted in, the apostle Paul informs us, when he speaks of the new creation. “And that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” The phrase “after God,” means after the image of God. This is expressed in the parallel passage, “Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

By the fall this moral image was effaced. The mind which had been illumined by divine truth became spiritually blind; the heart whose exercises had been holy and harmonious, became corrupt, the hot-bed of every vicious propensity, and the center of darkness and disorder. Instead of moral beauty, there was now deformity. In the place of pure felicity, misery succeeded. The soul was now turned with aversion from God and holiness, and the affections attached themselves to the creature. Reason and conscience no longer had control over the inferior passions and appetites; but these, seizing the reins of government, urged man on to carnal indulgences inconsistent with purity and peace. Being now alienated from God, man became his own center around which he endeavored to make all things revolve, from which the most direful disorder ensued; yet he persists in acting upon this principle of supreme selfishness. Although this depravity was from its commencement total, inasmuch as all holy exercise and all holy motives were banished from the mind; yet is human iniquity capable of indefinite increase. Its natural progress is from bad to worse, without a conceivable limit. All therefore are not equal in sin and guilt. The same person is comparatively innocent when he commences his course, to what he becomes at the end of a long life of transgression. And the enormity of his guilt, as well as the obstinate perverseness of his evil nature, depends on the clearness of the light resisted, and the multitude of the mercies abused. Wickedness may attain its greatest visible height among the heathen, but in the sight of God, self-righteous Pharisees are more guilty than Publicans; and Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum will have a more intolerable doom than Tyre and Sidon, or even than Sodom itself. The deepest guilt is contracted under the clear sunshine of the gospel, and by those whose privileges, opportunities, calls and professions, lay them under the strongest obligations to love and serve their Creator. (“A Practical View of Regeneration”)

Is The Doctrine Of Future Punishment Cruel And Unmerciful?


Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander (1772–1851) was an American educator, theologian and preacher. In 1807 he became pastor of Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. He received the Doctor of Divinity in 1810 from the College of New Jersey. He is most noted as founder and first principal of Princeton Seminary serving there from 1812 to 1840. As principal and professor of theology, he is considered the first of the great “Princeton theologians.” Below, he shares his thoughts on false doctrines that teach there is no hell:

Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:3-5 ESV)

[According to many], the doctrine of [hell] endless punishment is “cruel and unmerciful”. . . . It is customary with them to appeal to the tender feelings and sympathies of their hearers, and to conclude that if a parent would not inflict such a punishment on his children, much less will God on his creatures. But this is a false method of reasoning. An amiable child shudders at seeing a criminal suffer the just punishment of the law, but this is no argument against the punishment of the guilty.

It would be easy to persuade a set of convicted felons that the law which condemned them was cruel and unmerciful, because they want to escape punishment, and do not take into consideration the important ends to be answered to the public by their punishment. Thus wicked men are easily brought to believe that the penalties threatened in the Scriptures are cruel and unmerciful; but such opinions ought to have no weight with the honest and impartial inquirer after truth.

All comparisons on this subject fail; for neither parents nor civil rulers, nor any other beings in the universe, except the supreme Ruler, are under obligations to punish sin according to its merit. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” Only God Almighty is capable of estimating the evil of sin, and of inflicting punishment in exact proportion to its evil. If reasoning from the sympathies of our nature, and especially from the tender feelings of parents, were of real force, it would be as conclusive against the judgments of God on individuals and communities in this world, as against future punishment. For what benevolent parent would subject his children to the innumerable forms of evil and suffering which are everywhere witnessed in our world? How many perish by shipwreck, by pestilence, by earthquakes, by oppression, by war, and by persecution! But because a kind earthly father could not endure to see his children suffer such things, must we conclude that it is an unrighteous thing in the Governor of the universe to recompense the wicked by such judgments? Or will these men deny that God has anything to do in bringing these evils upon men?

How is it possible that reasonable men, with the Bible in their hands, can believe in [this false] doctrine. . . If they would only listen to the dictates of conscience, they never could think that there was no future punishment for sinners of the deepest dye. The very heathen, as many of them as believe in a future state, hold the doctrine of future punishment for the crimes of a wicked life. There never before was a sect of heretics who altogether denied the doctrine of future punishment. . . . As we said before, this doctrine had its origin in paradise, when the devil assured Eve that she will not die for her disobedience . . . And was the very doctrine by which the grand adversary murdered our whole race; but never, until recently, could any number of men be found of sufficient hardihood to avow it as the main article of their creed. It contains within itself the virulent poison of all other errors and heresies; yes, it leaves in the distance every form of infidelity. Atheism, black and blasphemous as it is, is not so dangerous as this doctrine; for it completely removes all restraint from the sinner . . . assuring the vilest sinners that they have nothing to fear hereafter; and not only so, but promising them the rich reward of eternal life. The prevalence of this soul-destroying error, in some parts of our land, is truly alarming. Every citizen, as well as every Christian—is bound to use his best endeavors to check the progress of an error fraught with so many dreadful consequences! (“Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted”)

Sin And Future Fear

Archibald Alexander

Can sinners enjoy the kingdom of God? How then, can men of depraved habits and who never have sought the Righteous God, enjoy the perfect holiness of heaven? Such men could never endure the participation in of holy exercises there. Death, in and of itself, makes no radical changes in the moral character. Therefore, if you die unrepentant, you will never reach that high and holy place. Archibald Alexander provides us with his views on this topic:

“Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth, but are obeying unrighteousness; affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. There is no favoritism with God. All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law.” (Romans 2:3-12)

The one thing needful is, to be fully persuaded that nothing is needful. If men are only informed that there will be no future reckoning, no condemnation of the wicked, no future punishment, they need know nothing else; and whether they believe it or not, all are in the safe way to heaven. . . .

This doctrine encourages men to continue in sin by removing all fear of future judgment and punishment. In this respect its tendency is as bad as atheism itself, for the most impious denial of a divine Being cannot promise more to its foolish votaries than exemption from judgment and future punishment. This species of Universalism is fraught with the very worst poison of atheism. It tells the sinner, that, let him act as wickedly as he will, or as he can, there is no fear of future misery. Indeed, it is in some respects worse than atheism, for it not only promises exemption from punishment, but the reward of eternal happiness to the impenitent sinner! It says to the atrocious murderer and cruel assassin, You need fear no evil hereafter; though you should die in the commission of the foulest deeds, heaven, with all its glory and happiness, is yours. Is not this shocking to every honest mind? And what must the effect be on profane, cruel, and abandoned profligates?

How pernicious its influence in the hour of temptation! Suppose an inexperienced youth in a place of trust to have imbibed this doctrine. An opportunity occurs of defrauding his employer of a vast sum of money, with the prospect of escaping detection. Well, what shall hinder him from enriching himself at once? If the belief of a future judgment were now to rise in his mind, he would be ready, like Joseph, to say, How can I do this great evil, and sin against God? But having no apprehension of any judgment to come, and sure of heaven, let him do what he will, he is led into temptation, and is deprived of every consideration which would lead him to resist it. Even the faint hope that there is no future punishment, has a powerful effect in leading corrupt men to commit atrocious crimes, although this hope is contrary to all that they have ever been taught; but who can calculate the influence of a persuasion that there is no future punishment for the greatest crimes, derived from men who pretend to be preachers of the gospel? Doubtless a large portion of the most abominable crimes that ever were perpetrated, owe their existence to a secret belief or hope of the truth of the very doctrine which Universalist preach.

It is a horrible consequence of this doctrine, that it puts it in the power of the sinner to blaspheme and defy Almighty God with impunity! The malignant, ungrateful wretch, instead of praising, may blaspheme the great Jehovah every day of his life, and may die with horrid blasphemies on his lips, and yet he shall be rewarded with everlasting happiness! Indeed, as all the punishment of sin is supposed to be in this life, when a sinner commits some horrible crime in the last moments of his life, as in a late case where a man first shot an innocent person, and then blew out his own brains, where or how will he receive his due punishment? His death is but the pang of a moment, and if there be no retribution for such crimes in the government of God, it cannot be believed that he is a righteous moral Governor. (Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted)

Would You Believe That Everyone Goes To Heaven?

Archibald Alexander

If you would believe that everyone goes to heaven then repentance is useless; and there is no need of sanctification. Heaven would be the sinner’s right. There is no need for Christianity; no connection exists between Christianity and salvation. There is no need to love and serve God. Either atheism or hatred of God is just as good as piety. Archibald Alexander explains why this belief is so perverse:

“Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth, but are obeying unrighteousness; affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. There is no favoritism with God. All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (Romans 2:3-12)

Greater mischief cannot be done to men, than by disseminating among them such erroneous opinions as remove from their minds those beneficial restraints which preserve them from giving indulgence to sin, or such as lull them into a false security, and persuade them to neglect attention to that preparation which is necessary to fit them for death and judgment. [The belief that there is no punishment beyond the grave and that all will enter paradise] . . . does violence to the Holy Scriptures, and perverts the plain and obvious meaning of numerous passages which speak of the future punishment of impenitent sinners. And if in one case we may thus set aside the express and repeated declarations of God, to accommodate the doctrine to our own reason and inclinations, the volume of inspiration is dishonored and rendered useless; for upon these principles we may reject every fundamental truth of the Bible. If the doctrine of future punishment is not taught in the Bible, neither is the doctrine of future happiness; for they are commonly taught in the same passages, and in similar language.

If it be true that sin is not punished in the future world, then it would follow that God exercises no moral government over the world; for in the present life the wicked often live at ease and are prosperous, while the virtuous are afflicted. This doctrine goes far to annihilate all difference between virtue and vice, for we must judge of these according to the treatment which they respectively receive from the supreme Ruler; but if there be no future punishment, there is no strong mark of disapprobation set on vice. A doctrine which involves such a consequence as this must be false and dangerous.

If this doctrine should become general, human society could not exist. Like atheism, to which it is near akin, its malignant tendency is not fully seen while society at large is under the influence of a contrary belief. But take away from the minds of all men the fear of judgment and eternity, and this world becomes a scene of violence—an aceldama. All confidence among men would be destroyed; all the bonds of civil society would be severed. Do not say that vice might be coerced by the civil law—a vain hope. Where the whole mass is corrupt, laws are useless. (“Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted”)

Archibald Alexander: The Destruction Of The Wicked

Archibald Alexander

Our chief hope, as Christians, is to stop those who are falling into the snare of the devil and introduce them to the saving power of Jesus Christ. We must also introduce them to the fear of judgment and an eternity in Hell. Heaven is not the sinner’s right and the unjust will be punished as Archibald Alexander here explains:

“Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your hardness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth, but are obeying unrighteousness; affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. There is no favoritism with God. All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law. (Romans 2:3-12)

The apostle is here laying down the principles on which the whole world will be judged at the last day; and can there be a doubt in any mind that the wicked are here threatened with future punishment? “When the Lord shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.” 2 Thess. 1:7-10. The punishment here threatened is of the nature of vengeance—taking vengeance: it is to be inflicted on all who obey not the gospel when the Lord shall come; that is, at the Day of Judgment. The duration of the punishment is everlasting. In whatever sense this word is understood, the argument is equally conclusive in favor of future punishment. No testimony can be made more direct and explicit to prove future punishment than these words of Paul. We should be at a loss, if required to frame a declaration which should fully express the doctrine of the future punishment of the wicked, to invent one more clear and positive. (“Future Punishment”)

Hell Is No Longer Fashionable!

Archibald Alexander

There is no greater mischief done to men, than by spreading among them false opinions which remove beneficial restraints. I am writing here about those restraints which preserve men from indulging in sin, or relying on a false security. Those same false opinions persuade men to neglect that preparation which is necessary for death and judgment. One such false opinion may be more dangerous than all others to the good of men; it is the opinion that there is no Hell or future punishment. Archibald Alexander gives us more information to help our understanding of this matter:

“He, who believes on the Son, has everlasting life; and he, who believes not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

Here there is no room for any doubt on account of the import of particular terms. That the life here spoken of is life in a future state cannot be denied, for it is expressly called everlasting life; and it is expressly asserted that unbelievers shall not partake of this life. Now if they are deprived of life in the future world, they are deprived of happiness; there is no medium between life and death, happiness and misery. Unbelievers must therefore be miserable in the future world. And this seems to be asserted strongly in the last words quoted: “And the wrath of God abides on him.” These words do not merely signify that the unbeliever is under wrath while in this world, but that this is an abiding state. It is the contrast to the possession of eternal life. While the wicked are in this world, they are indeed under a sentence of wrath, but the execution of this wrath is reserved for a future state. The greatest sinners and most obstinate unbelievers live in ease and pleasure here, and do not suffer the wrath under the sentence of which they lie. But it will abide upon them, and the vials of this divine wrath will be poured out upon them to all eternity. . . .

Let us now attend to a few testimonies from the apostle Paul. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 6:23. Here the just rules of interpretation require us to consider death, as it stands in contrast with eternal life, to be eternal death.

“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction.” Phil. 3:18, 19. This destruction, which comes at the end of the sinner’s course, cannot be natural death; for all are subject to death—the friends as well as the enemies of the cross. It is certainly a destruction which is peculiar to the wicked, and as it is their end, must be future punishment, or the second death. (“Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted” by Archibald Alexander)

There Will Be A Future Punishment Of The Wicked

If the discourses of Christ Himself do not teach us that punishment comes to some after death, then we might as well give up all hope of learning anything from the Bible. Archibald Alexander provides us with scriptural evidence for this teaching:

“And if your hand offends you, cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:43-44)

Our blessed Savior says, “Fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The same solemn truth is repeated in Luke: “But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell.” Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5. Here the casting into hell comes after the death of the body, and must therefore mean future punishment beyond the grave. The truth is so plain, that argument or comment seems to be superfluous: it cannot be made more evident. . . .

[T]hose who have done good, [go] to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:29. These are also the words of Him who is TRUTH itself, and they teach as clearly as words can teach, that after the bodies of the wicked have lain for a time in the grave, they will come forth unto the resurrection of damnation. . . .

“Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” “Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” “These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” Matt. chapter 25. Is there no reference to future punishment in these solemn declarations of our Lord? If not, then there is no reference to the future blessedness of the righteous. If ten thousand people were set to read this portion of Scripture, and each to declare what he believed to be the plain import of the words, can it be believed that there would be found one individual who would doubt whether or not future punishment was threatened here? Certainly not, unless he had been perverted by the false glosses of Universalist teachers. . . .

Our Lord, in the explanation of the parable of the tares, says, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 13:40-43. And in the parable of the net cast into the sea, in the same chapter, our Lord, in the application, says, “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and separate the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 13:47-50. In these passages the punishment threatened is to be inflicted by the ministry of angels at the end of the world, and must, of course, be future punishment. And as this tremendous punishment of being cast into a furnace of fire is threatened to all workers of iniquity, it must be endured after the resurrection. There is here no need of exposition. (“Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted”)

Closing Down Hell And Swinging Wide The Gates Of Heaven


Archibald Alexander

Archibald Alexander was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, 17 April 1772, and died in Princeton, New Jersey, 22 October 1851. He was licensed to preach 1 October 1791, ordained by the presbytery of Hanover 9 June 1794, and for seven years was an itinerant pastor in Charlotte and Prince Edward counties. On the organization of the theological seminary at Princeton in 1812 Dr. Alexander was unanimously chosen as the leading professor. His powers both for pulpit oratory and polemic disquisition were extraordinary. He was always busy, and from 1829 to 1850 scarcely a number of the Princeton Review appeared without an article from his pen. In the following excerpt, Alexander warns us of the doctrines of Universalism:

No benevolent being delights in the suffering of others—for its own sake. But it is one of the clearest dictates of reason, that sin should be visited with punishment. Men may differ widely in opinion as to what sin is, in regard to many particulars, but everyone sees and feels the propriety of punishing crimes, which he acknowledges to be such, in proportion to their evil. Indeed, it would be difficult to give a definition of sin which does not involve this idea; and a better definition of moral evil could not easily be given, than that it is that which deserves punishment. None are found, therefore, who, while they acknowledge a difference between virtue and vice, deny that the latter deserves punishment. And as all sinful acts are not of equal malignity or turpitude, it will be agreed by all, that, in justice, everyone ought to receive just recompense according to his deeds; and that he whose sins are less, should not suffer equally with him whose sins are greater. . . .

Whether the end of punishment is always the good of the sufferer is disputed. On this point it may here be observed that, that intuitive perception, which exists in every mind, of the connection between sin and punishment, has no respect whatever to the benefit of the guilty person. Punishment, according to the clearest and simplest idea of its nature, is some pain or loss to the person who endures it. . . .

Although we are so constituted as to perceive and feel that sin deserves punishment according to its evil, yet we have no precise standard of the degree of punishment which any sin deserves. Reason cannot tell how much pain is due to any particular offence: its clear perception goes no further than to the general proposition that it ought to be punished according to its desert, whatever that may be. Yet it has appeared exceedingly evident to most men, that although some degree of punishment follows sinful actions in this life, men do not receive here a full retribution for their crimes; since very often great transgressors are prosperous. . . .

But in our times and in our country, a new phenomenon has appeared in the religious world. A sect has risen up . . . who profess to receive the Bible as the word of God, and yet utterly deny all future punishment. . . .

[T]he primary motive which has led men to [reject future punishment] is the desire of removing from the minds of worldly and wicked men the dreadful apprehension of endless torments. I say worldly and wicked men, for the true Christian does not need this doctrine for his consolation. He is safe without it. Therefore the humble and devoted Christian is not commonly, if ever, the advocate of this system. It was a doctrine invented for the lawless and disobedient—a doctrine to bring comfort, not to penitent believers, but to impenitent sinners, who are not willing to forsake their sins. . . .

Sinners, if this doctrine be true, may dismiss all their foreboding apprehensions. They may, indeed, “eat, drink, and be merry;” and if they will only make up their minds to bear the inconvenience which sin may bring upon them here—and few are restrained from the indulgence of revenge, ambition, avarice, and lust by this consideration—they may give full swing to their corrupt inclinations, and be just as wicked as they please. And indeed, if there be no future reckoning, the principal source of uneasiness to the sinner here will be removed, namely, the fear of judgment to come. This is indeed a glorious doctrine for impenitent sinners. They may even set their Maker at defiance, for they have nothing to fear from him after this life. Nothing which they can do will either retard or hinder their eternal happiness. . . .

But it may be asked, “Why do these deceivers connect their doctrine with the BIBLE?” Would it not be much easier to take the ground of infidelity at once, and depend upon ‘reason’ for support, instead of Scripture . . . [M]ost people have a veneration for the Bible, [these deceivers] wish to avail themselves of these common sentiments in favor of the Scriptures; and by this means they get a handle for working on the credulity and prejudice of unstable souls, who are ever gaping after something new and strange in religion; “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” By the perversion of the sacred Scriptures, also, they are able to promise their followers not only exemption from future misery, but positive felicity in heaven, which they could not do on the principles of infidelity. (“Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted”)

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