THE ULSTER HALL
Sunday December 7th 1919
Mr. D. J. McComb (Belfast)
Mr. James McKendrick (Scottish Evangelist).
Subject of Debate:
"Is Death Ceasing to Exist?"
"Does the Bible Teach Eternal Torment?"
Retyped and prepared for the internet by
Arches church of Christ, Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K., BT4 1AQ
THE ULSTER HALL DEBATE 1919
DEATH OR ETERNAL TORMENT
The debate was held in the Ulster Hall, (Belfast, Northern Ireland, ed.), before a crowded congregation on Sunday afternoon December 7th 1919 between Mr. D. J. McComb (Belfast) and Mr. James McKendrick (Scottish Evangelist). Chairman Mr. Alex Hamilton Esq. Timekeepers Mr. Barfoot for Mr. McComb and Pastor Jardine for Mr. McKendrick. Subject of Debate; "Is Death Ceasing to Exist" or "Does the Bible Teach Eternal Torment"?
It was an event arousing great interest in Belfast and around the Province. Many also came from (Scotland). The hour was 3-o'clock but by 2-o'clock as many people had gathered as to fill the huge hall twice over.
Thousands disappointed were outside; amongst them several able preachers who ably preached to those outside. A number of earnest Christians, who anticipated all this had hired the Minor Hall for prayer and this was well filled during the debate. It is estimated that from 8,000 to 10,000, were gathered so great was the interest. At the close of the debate, no verdict was allowed nor any public expression given, but the Chairman said each hearer would be able to judge which of the speakers had proved their case from the Scriptures, and no doubt each reader will impartially do the same.
Proceedings opened by singing the 100th Psalm, then, Pastor Jardine having led in prayer, the Chairman Mr. Alex Hamilton said, "The subject of the debate this afternoon is, "Is death ceasing to exist". Mr. McComb undertakes to prove that it is and Mr. McKendrick undertakes to prove that it is not.
Then the second part of the subject is: "Does the Bible teach Eternal Torment." Mr. McComb undertakes to prove that the Bible does not teach "Eternal Torment" and Mr. McKendrick affirms that it does.
Now the next thing I have to say is that Mr. McComb has to lead with twenty minutes, then Mr. McKendrick is to follow with twenty minutes, and in this order there will be two terms of ten minutes each concluding with five minutes each.
The next thing I have to mention is to say to the audience that there is to be no applause, or dissent, or even ejaculations by any member of the congregation. The subject is a solemn one no matter what way you look at it, if it means death is an end to everything , it is solemn to think of that, and if there is to be eternal torment this is a solemn subject too.
Upon this ground I appeal to the congregation that there will be no applause, no matter how either of the men score, as we sometimes say a good point or a bad one. There is to be no applause or ejaculations of any kind. In the second place this is the Lord's day and we like to respect it. On these two grounds I appeal to the congregation to observe this rule, and if you do so, I shall be delighted to thank you at the end of the debate. There are no personalities allowed and the Authorised and Revised Versions are to be the Court of appeal."
"My friends, those who are in sympathy with me remember the ruling of the Chairman, it is a very solemn time we should have together. The subject is of great importance, it is understanding the destiny of the human race, but I think that we should be very solemn indeed, as our Chairman has said. Those of you who are in sympathy with me will I trust, keep as quiet as possible and remember we are dealing with the Word of the Lord and we must have great respect for his words.
Our Subject is; "Is death ceasing to exist" we are not going to discuss the subject of death as it is used in the Scriptures, in the parabolic sense but rather in its literal sense. Death is used very often in the Scriptures in a reckoned sense. As the Apostle said, a woman living in sin is dead, yet she lives. But I know there is not one in the hall so stupid as to think that woman was actually, literally, physically dead. She was reckoned so. Again when the father speaks of his prodigal son, "This my son was dead and is alive again." We are not so stupid as to think he actually, literally, physically died, no, and again when we read in the 16th Chapter of Luke, that the rich man died and in "hell he lifted up his eyes" we are not so stupid as to think he actually literally physically died. I think I am speaking to an intelligent audience that will admit with me that this is a parable. I know there are some who do not like to say this is a parable.
Never mind. I am sure what Mr. McKendrick has got to say to you this afternoon is merely an emphatic reiteration of what we all have been brought up to believe, that before the world was made our loving heavenly Father had planned out everything well, that Adam would fall and his children would be brought into the world sinners. He, that great God of love, prepared in advance a great prison house with fuel enough to last to all eternity, with fireproof devils to keep his creatures tormented. I believed it dear friends, but I appeal to you this day who have friends dead, many of us have our friends who went out to fight for King and Country. We know they were not Saints we know they were not good enough for heaven but we know they were to good for a hell of torment, and the question comes to us, is what we have been told about this flaming fire literally true? Have we made any mistake? Mother can you think as you sit here this afternoon that your boy that you lost that went out to fight for King and Country, that you know had no idea of salvation, that did not trust in that "name under heaven given among men", are you satisfied he is in hell torment today? Those of you who are satisfied with the doctrine of hell torment I leave it with you, I am not asked to take it from you. My mission is to help those who are not satisfied. My mission is to try and get a better solution of God's plan, better than we have had in the past. Have I a better solution? I have dear friends, it's because of that I am here today. I preach a better solution. I come to the book examine it for myself. I discard the creeds and dogmas that I was brought up to believe. I come and examine it for myself.
I begin at the beginning. I start where God pronounced the sentence first. God said unto Adam "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die", I agree God's sentence was death but he never told father Adam anything about personal torment. He did not say to Adam, you will die spiritually when you eat. After that you will die bodily, after that your soul will be cast into a lake of fire, and you will be tormented forever and ever. Not a word about it, but: The day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die Adam. "Because thou hast done this----Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thou wife and hast eaten of the tree which I commanded thee saying, `Thou shalt not eat of it'". Because thou hast done this. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground" Where? Until thou (not your body) until thou returnest to the dust. "For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return." Let me, dear friends, make it as clear as the Bible makes it. Dust thou art, dust thou art brother, dust thou art sister; dust thou art Adam, "And unto dust shalt thou return." Now, mother, your son is in the dust. Father, your boy that died for his King and Country is not in hell torment, he is in the dust of the earth, and so I go right on through the Bible. I come to Job, what does Job tell me? "Why died I not from the womb?--- Why did the knees prevent me? Then would I have been silent. I should have slept; then had I been at rest, with Kings and Counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves--- There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together," - not a word of torment - "There the prisoners rest together,--" "the servant is free from his master" - 3rd Chapter of Job. Then in the 10th Chapter of Job - "I should have been as though I had not been." I did not make it, dear friends. Your boy in the tomb is as though he had not been; says Job. 14th Chapter Job, 7th verse - "There is hope of a tree if it be cut down that it will sprout again" --- But man dieth and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down and riseth not: till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Ecclesiasts ix, v.5- "For the living know that they shall die but the dead know not anything." My mother is dead. How much does she know? "The dead know not anything." "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." Where do you go? "The grave whither thou goest." Psalm vi v.5. "For in death there is no remembrance of thee in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" Isaiah xxxviii - Hezekiah says: "The living, the living, he shall praise thee." "The grave cannot praise thee" My mother is dead, can she praise the Lord? No, the dead cannot praise thee. Hezekiah said when the Lord sent him word that he was going to live 15 years more, he would rather be here than where he was going. He was glad because he was to live 15 years more, and he sang a song unto the Lord, and he says, "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption." I did not make it, it is the word of God. "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption." "My soul." Ezekiel xviii v.4 - "The soul that sinneth it shall die." The soul is not immortal. No, dear friends, there is not a word about the immortality of the soul from Genesis to Revelation. Do I believe in hell? Of course I do. I cannot doubt what is in the Bible. The Bible tells me about a hell, but I will come and examine hell too. I turn up Psalm ix v.17 - "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God" But I am worried about this hell. I want to know the truth about hell. I do not like the idea of my friends suffering and of me enjoying gladness to all eternity. I cannot rejoice at the thought that if I am saved there are some suffering in hell. I want to know what it is, and so I am not satisfied in reading Psalm ix v.17 in the Authorised Version. I come to the Revised Version. I want to see what it says. My brother here says he will take what the Revised Version says, and I say, "Yes that is right." We want to know more. You see those who translated the Revised Version were better Scholars than those who translated the Authorised Version. They were living in a day of more knowledge, and they will tell us the truth. Won't they tell us the truth? Psalm ix v.17 - The wicked shall be cast into "Sheol." Where is this? Is my dear mother in Sheol? What is she doing there? Sheol, what is it? Are we going to be tormented with the thought of eternal torment for our friends and enemies and our neighbours on the strength of a great doubt? "The wicked shall be turned into Sheol." Where is it? What is it? It is a Hebrew word. What does it mean? My brother may say it means a hell of torment. Why were we not told the truth by the translators? If there is a place in the Bible that they should have said hell and a hell of torment it should be in the place where the wicked go in-------- Psalm ix v.17. But no, the revisers were too well educated to ask us to believe that the place where the wicked are is a place of living torment. They dare not put it in the text, and so they tell us that the wicked shall be turned into "Sheol." That is where your dead mother is - in Sheol. That is where your dead friend is - in Sheol. What is it? What is Sheol? I start discussing it myself. I find the word "Sheol" is the only Hebrew word translated "hell" in the Authorised Version. It is translated 31 times "hell", but then on the other side it is translated 31 times "grave" and three times "pit". Is it the grave, or is it a place of torment? Why do they tell us the grave in one instance and a place of torment in another? But, dear friends, let me go further in the Revised Version we have the same word "Sheol" 29 times not translated. 29 times it occurs as "Sheol" in the Revised Version. It is only 15 times "hell" and 15 times "grave", and 5 times "pit". Where is it and what is it? Who is in it? Let me tell you. Job xi v.13 - "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave", reading the Revised Version, in Sheol "O that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol", but say some, there are two compartments in Sheol: there is one for the good and the other for the bad. I wish the Bible told us something about it. There is not a word about two compartments in Sheol. They all go to the one place. Old Jacob said "I will go down into Sheol unto my Son mourning"--- "Then shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to Sheol." Again we read in the 32nd Chapter of Ezekiel - "And they shall not lie with the mighty--- which are gone down to Sheol with their weapons of war: and they have laid their swords under their heads." Here we have Sheol as a place where swords are laid under the heads. What should it be, dear friends, what could it be, but the grave? Perhaps my brother will tell me that Sheol is not the Hebrew word for "grave" but rather that "queber" is and when reading from the word "queber" we should always think of the grave, not of "Sheol." Let me remind you that we have more than one English word for the place of the dead. We speak of the grave, we speak of the tomb, we speak of the sepulchre, and we mean the same thing. The Bible speaks of Sheol and speaks of the grave in the Old Testament meaning the same thing. Now I say, on the strength of the Revised Version even as against the Authorised Version, we have a great doubt presented to us as to the state of the unsaved being in a place of fire and brimstone. Nothing is further from the Hebrew word "Sheol" nothing further from it. And again let me remind you that the only thing from which we seem to get the idea of torment and brimstone is from the dark sayings of Christ in parables. I assure you on the strength of the Gospels that Christ taught the people only in parables and dark sayings, and when he told them that they would be "cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" - Mark ix v.45 - and when he spoke of the place "where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." I assure you on the strength of the writer himself -Mark iv and 34 - "that without a parable he spake not unto them." Our Lord did not mean that we were to cut of our hand and pull out our eyes and cut off our feet. He used these things in a parabolic sense. He did not mean a literal place of torment when he said they would be cast into hell having all their members. I assure you the word translated "hell" is not the word for "hell" at all. The word is "Gehenna." And so it is in the Revised Version, in the margin, Gehenna. Gehenna was the name of a place outside Jerusalem in which all the garbage of the City was cast, and where a fire was kept continually burning up the rubbish."
Mr. McKendrick in his opening speech of reply said:
"In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I stand here before you this afternoon, and seek the Holy Spirit's aid, to prove from the Bible, the Holy Word of God, that death never means ceasing to exist, and that this book does teach eternal torment. Whether I succeed or not, every God fearing and Bible loving person in this vast congregation will impartially judge, you have heard the Chairman's statement, that the subject for our debate is: "Is death ceasing to exist" or "Does the Bible teach eternal torment"? Into this subject no sophistry or sentiment must be allowed for one moment. Neither can cunning reasoning nor able argument have a part. It must be "Thus saith the Lord." That is the court of appeal, and from the Holy Word of God there shall be no escape today.
Our time is limited, and it would be quite impossible to quote every place in the Bible where the word "death" occurs; but I will make a fair selection where God uses the word "death" that you may judge if I am able to prove what I undertake to do: that death never means ceasing to exist. I am taking passages fairly known to the average person. Take Ephesians ii v.1 "you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." And in verse 5: "When we were dead in sins." In the light of these words I feel sure that no one in this place would either assert or insinuate that those people prior to conversion had no existence. They were existing, treading their path and filling their sphere in life having a very real and conscious existence. It is an outrage upon common sense and plain Bible teaching to say that death means ceasing to exist. We make no attempt to define what that condition is, but the word death is the word chosen by God to declare the condition in which unsaved people are and does not mean ceasing to exist. I pass from that and go to Colossians iii v.3 "for ye are dead." But these words apply to a people in a very different state. A people who in their unsaved condition were dead in "trespasses and sins," are now declared by God to be "dead" but in another condition defined by Romans vi v.2 "reckon ye yourselves also to be dead unto sin." We are absolutely indebted to God for the definition he gives us of these two states, plain to every honest mind. Those who have never experienced the second birth by the Holy Spirit of God, nor redemption by the blood of Jesus, they are declared by God to be dead in sins, and all who have undergone the saving change, the second birth, they are said by God to be "dead to sin." Yes there are many who are playing their part in life, and God says they are dead; but surely no one would say that means they have no existence, with these two facts plain before their eyes: the saved - "dead to sin", unsaved - "dead in sins." Again "he that loveth not his brother abideth in death." Is that no existence? Also, "she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Again we ask, does this teach no existence? In the Epistle of Jude there were certain spies inside the Christian fold (verse 12), Satan's servants, whose object was to hinder the cause of Christ from inside the Christian camp. God says of them they are "twice dead". They exist in a condition that God calls "twice dead." I, however, refer you to Luke viii v.49, where you read of a girl who had sickened and died. The mourners gathered around her bed. They sent for the Saviour, the Son of God. When He came He spake the life giving word. He said. "arise," and there, before the eyes of all assembled, the girl sat up hale and well, and was the same as before. Did that girl cease to exist when the breath left her body? Was she in a state of non-existence then? Nay, verily; but existing in a condition never hitherto experienced by her. The body was lying there dead, but where was the spirit? We read, "Her spirit came again, and she arose straightway." If the spirit had ceased to exist how could it return? You cannot unite what does not exist. She was existing in this condition, the body there, the spirit elsewhere; and God incarnate, by his own life-giving word said to the maid "Arise", her spirit returned, and she arose. And the people stared in blank astonishment when they saw the mighty power of God. There was an act performed before their eyes that all created power of heaven above and earth below - Angel, Archangel, or man - could not accomplish. There is a case outside the pale of all created power - to unite what death separates. The Lord separated that spirit and body; the Lord united them again, and the maid sat up and was restored to her friends. Mr. McComb referred to Luke xvi. I am not going to argue with those who declare that this is a parable but I refuse to accept for a moment that this is a parable. Our Lord Jesus Christ narrates the case as He knew it. Suppose you begin at verse 13, and there he is speaking about how men were living, and solemnly appealing to the people. At this juncture He says no man can serve two masters, it is an utter impossibility. He must either love the one and hate the other but he cannot serve God and Mammon. Between verses 13 and 19, there was a rude interruption on the part of those who were hit hard by the sentence. Then He narrates the case as He (God manifest in the flesh) knew it saying there was a certain rich man, etc, and he died. Did that end all? No, for the Lord says he was buried. So death did not end all, nor burial either, for the Lord says, "in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments" who can tell what occurs beyond this present scene? There is no created power can say what is there. But here we have One speaking who can review the past without studying history, and who can foretell all that lies ahead without studying prophecy. Here we have God incarnate in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and He narrates the case as he knew it. The rich man died and was buried and in hell he lifted up his eyes in torment. In the light of these words, would anyone say he had no conscious existence after his body was laid in the grave. Allow the man to speak for himself.
He says, "I am tormented." Those who are there know better than any who are here. Our task is to see what God says, not what we think. We are here to see what the Word of God teaches. Now, always bear in mine who the speaker is. He is God manifest in the flesh, declaring as God saw and as He knew. Now if there is no torment or suffering beyond death, is it not branding Our Lord Jesus Christ as a scare-monger, a sort of bogey-man, crying `"Wolf"! "Wolf"! When there is no Wolf?' when He says the man in hell lifted up his eyes in torments, if this never happened? And that God-sent man, John the Baptist, tells us he was sent to cry to men, to flee from the wrath to come: what was his attitude but that of a harmless imbecile that found his pleasure and spent his time in trying to frighten people about things that would never happen? But there you have the case in detail. There our Lord holds up the solemn fact of what it means if men serve Mammon rather than God. The one who served God passed into eternal bliss; the other who lived for wealth and pleasure and for this world died, and his awful state is here narrated by the Lord. I quote death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. "This is the second death." Also Chapter 21 v.8 "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the Abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters , and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Now in all of those cases quoted, is it not plain to every honest and unbiased mind that the word "death" never means ceasing to exist, but consciously existing in a condition called "death." Then why should anyone suppose, or say, that what is called the "second death," is annihilation? Is cessation of existence? Is being wiped out ? I will briefly state the cases again. All unsaved are dead in sins. All the saved are dead to sin. "He that hateth his brother abideth in death" In the case of the girl death separated spirit and body - and Christ reunited what existed before. And the case of the rich man in hell torments - would anyone dare say that any of these cases teach non-existence? Emphatically it is existence in a condition that God calls "death". And the second death - the lake of fire - would anyone dare to say in the light of these Scriptures that have been brought before us, that death here means no existence? Anyone who would say or believe that, what is it they would not say or believe? The word of God is our only guide. These are things beyond all human ken and we are absolutely indebted to God for the light of his word upon these things.
Now concerning eternal torment. Dismiss from your minds for the moment angels, men or demons, do not think of anything angelic, human, or satanic, but think of the question. Does the Bible teach eternal torment? Tormented day and night forever and ever - Rev. xxv v.10, let me also read these words. "They shall be tormented day and night, and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever." - Rev. xiv v.11. I hope you have done as I asked you to do and dismissed all thought for the moment of angels, men or demons, and that you are considering for the time being one thing only, that is, does the Bible teach eternal torment? I will read the words again. "Tormented day and night for ever and ever". Some people say, how can it be forever if it is day and night? Well, God uses language and words which you and I can understand and we ourselves use. He says "day and night" which means unchanging, and forever and ever which means unending and, mark you, this is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him. If you challenge these words you are neither contending against Mr. McComb nor McKendrick, but you are pitting yourself against the Lord God Almighty. These are the words of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and it reads "Tormented day and night forever and ever." If I asked any person in this congregation who does not believe in eternal torment, what words they would use to express eternal torment, or if I said. "Please Mr. McComb, if you did believe in eternal torment (which I know you do not) what words would you use to declare it?" I say most emphatically that one and all of you would have to use these very words or words tantamount to these, for no other language could declare it. Tormented day and night forever and ever is the sure word of God."
"Our friend, Mr. McKendrick, when he referred to Revelations missed one wee word, did you notice what he did not tell you when he asked you not to think of angels, men, or demons. What did he mean by that? He did not want you to think of the beast. For if you think of the beast, you will have to conclude it is tormented too, because he knows as well as I do that God never meant to torment a beast forever and ever.
Our brother proved what I have said that death is used in a figurative and reckoned sense. When he said we were "dead in trespasses and sins" did he mean we were actually dead. I am not speaking about the reckoned dead, I am talking about the actual literal and physical death. He should have told us about Lazarus when he was telling us about the maid. You remember our Lord said, "Lazarus sleepeth." And someone said, "Lord if he sleep he shall do well." Howbeit, Jesus spake unto them plainly - not figuratively this time - He said "Lazarus is dead." Then going to the tomb He does not say, "Lazarus come down from heaven", but looking down into the tomb, "He called him saying, "Lazarus, come forth." I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and my brother believes in the resurrection of the living, and that is the difference. How much stress was laid upon the parable of the rich man! He says it is not a parable. I ask my brother to take notice of Matthew viii v.34 and Mark iv v.34. There we are told that Christ only spoke to the people in parables and dark sayings, and without a parable he taught not the people. It is in the Book; I did not make it. Which of you I ask, could bear to be in heaven and hear the shrieks of your lost sons and friends, appealing for water because they were tormented? Father with your lost son in hell, could you enjoy sitting in heaven? Wouldn't you want to be thrown there along with him? I can hear a mother saying, "he has gone to hell, and I will go there too, I cannot part with my son." And then we must remember Abraham's bosom doesn't hold many people - (interruptions) - and there is no hope of you getting into it for it is full long ago. It is a literal bosom. Then I ask my friend, what kind of literal water he wanted to cool his spiritual tongue? Would it be literal water such as Lazarus might get on earth to cool his tongue? Then I ask, when they buried the rich man why didn't they bury his eyes? "In hell he lifted up his eyes", can you imagine heaven as a place of Joy, and hell a place of woe, with shrieks of sinners calling for aid and getting none? We cannot believe it. Oh, no, my friend referred to John the Baptist warning the people to turn from the wrath to come. Paul warned them that the time of wrath had come upon Israel when Titus sent his army and destroyed Jerusalem. The time of wrath had come upon them to the uttermost. That was "the wrath to come." I will give any man £100 - and I am not very wealthy - if he gives me a text in the Scriptures to show that the soul in immortal; but I can give you Scriptures to show that the soul is not immortal. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." What is the soul? God made man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the spirit of life. Man has a sinning soul and the sinning soul will die. The sooner we look at things plainly the better. It is not the fire that converted you. It is not the fire that converted me. "Remember the goodness of God, that leadeth thee to repentance." I hope my brother will carry that with him. Fire and brimstone will make people afraid for their skins, but it will not keep them from sinning. "God so loved the world." - The heathen, the unsaved - while we were yet unborn Christ died for you and me: and he is coming back to - what? See John v v.29 "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." All that are in heaven? No! All that are in hell? No! All that are in their graves? No! It shall come to pass that whosoever shall not hear shall be destroyed; he shall punish them with everlasting destruction at his second advent. The "lake of fire" is not a literal fire. We hear of goats being cast into the fire. We are not goats. "The wicked shall be destroyed." "All the wicked will God destroy."
"You will plainly understand by the terms of the debate that I am under no obligation to pursue Mr. McComb in any by-path he chooses. We have a subject before us today; "Is death ceasing to exist: and does the Bible teach Eternal torment". That is the subject before us, and there must be no side issues. But I would just mention one or two things briefly. I hope you are all sufficiently Bible taught to know this; that resurrection is everywhere connected with the body; never the soul. And when God speaks about resurrection it is the body in every case without fail. That is one thing. And when he spoke about the soul - I hope you are sufficiently Bible taught to know that this is a word used in a variety of ways, sometimes referring to a man's soul and sometimes to the whole man. We read of all the souls that came with Jacob. Was it only souls? And eight souls were saved by the Ark in the days of Noah. Plainly here again it was eight people called souls. I might go on quoting case after case if time would allow. It is never the soul that sins, but the responsible person sometimes called a soul. If you read the whole passage in Ezekiel you will find that the father will not bear the sins of the children, nor the children the sins of the parent, but every man shall bear his own sin.
He told us "the wages of sin is death" not the wage of sin, but the wages of sin. Holiness is always conducive to life and sin is always conducive to death. And it includes the death when Adam changed from his innocent state into a sinful state. It embraces the day when Adam was laid in his grave, also when the dead, small and great, will stand before the throne and receive the second death, the lake of fire. It is still the wages of sin. Sin always produces death. It does not say the "wage of sin" but the "wages of sin is death", what we call death is the dissolution of the spirit, soul, and body, for the body without the spirit is dead, but when united it is the spirit, soul, and body, "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." and what we call the first death is the dissolution of these; the second death is the reunion of all that was separated caused by the first death. It is now my duty to show you who the victims of the eternal torment shall be. Once more I ask you, do these words speak of eternal torment? "Tormented day and night forever and ever," day and night unchanging: forever and ever, unending. If anyone dares to say that does not teach eternal torment, then it is idleness to argue with him, and a waste of time to talk to him. We are here to see what God has revealed in his holy word. I will take three samples - Revelation xix v.20, "And the beast was taken and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast and them that worshipped his image." These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. I do not know if there are any here like some I have met who, denying eternal torment, say these are two systems not two persons. "The beast was taken and with him," a person, not with "it". - "the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, a person with which he deceived them" ---- and they "both - two persons not two systems - were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."
We are not going to detail the chronological order of events. We have not time today (but I may just say that hell, the bottomless pit, and the lake of fire are all distinct. The one is not a change of expression for the other. Hell, the lake of fire, the bottomless pit, never mean the same thing, they are distinct). The thousand years roll away and Satan the prisoner is loosed and goes forth to deceive as before - Rev. xx v.8. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever - Rev. xx v.10
Please observe it does not say where the beast and false prophet were but are: and this after a thousand years. Mr. McComb, this is the Revised Version. If some choose to call that figurative I will not quarrel, I will not argue; but if it is a fact and not a figure it is awful. But if it is only a figure then it is ten thousand times more awful, for a fact is always greater than a figure. Don't think by calling it a figure that you have wiped out the fact. You have not, you have only intensified its greatness. The Old Testament abounds with figures, types, and shadows of our Lord Jesus Christ, but isn't he the substance, the fact, the anti-type, infinitely greater than them all? Therefore if the lake of fire is a figure, it is a figure of a fact. If it is a fact and not a figure Oh! how awful; and if it is only a figure then God only knows what the fact must be, for the fact must always exceed and by far excel the figure. And as to the idea of this meaning "wiped out", please observe before the thousand years began, the beast and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire, then after the thousand years, Satan was cast into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet "were"? No, No, where the beast and the false prophet "are." and death and hell (the soul and body now reunited) were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death, and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire - Rev. xx v.14 and v.15. These Scriptures give fair samples of who the victims of the lake of fire will be, and plainly show that the lake of fire does not annihilate, nor wipe out, but preserves its victims."
"I think our brother is right; it is awful if eternal torment is the wages of sin, it is awful. If we are to be tormented day and night forever and ever it is awful. There should be no smile on my brother's face. We should be crying night, noon, and morning, Fire! Fire! Fire! There should never be a pleasant Christian anywhere. We should all be in tears. What man of you could pass a house on fire where the inmates were burning in the attic and pass on: Oh, you cruel men! Wouldn't you cry "Fire! Fire!", and would you not try to save them from the fire? But we have men today shouting "fire" and torment to all eternity, and they enjoy life. It is a wonder they can take their holidays in the summer time and have good meals, and eat and sleep soundly at night knowing their fellow men are going to Fire! Fire! Fire!
Our brother tells us - I wonder what he was thinking about when he did - that when a man dies physical dissolution has taken place, and that is the first death, and when the body, soul and spirit are united and cast into the lake of fire that is the second death. Well, that may be logic: it would not suit me. If you smash up a house that is destruction; if you build it up again that is the second destruction. That is not very logical. Our brother told us that the spirit lived after death, and that the soul lived after death. He did not tell us where the soul went or where the spirit went, or if one went to hell and the other to heaven. Sometimes it was the soul and sometimes it was the spirit. Now, how unreasonable that is but how reasonable the word of God is. God made man of the dust of the ground. That is body. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, that is spirit, and man became a living soul, that is soul. "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." I did not make that - Psalm 146 v.4. Verse 3 says - "Put not your trust in Princes, nor in the son of man in whom there is no help." That is why I talk about the resurrection of the dead. You cannot resurrect people who are still living. They must be dead in order to talk about resurrection. I assure you I believe in the resurrection of the dead, but I assure you I believe they are dead first. Let me remind you that the first death came on account of Adam's sin, and in Adam all died.
We read in Psalm xc v.3, "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." Come back. That is the resurrection from the dead. "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall not hear him shall be destroyed, and they shall be returned to the dust of the earth." That is the second death. The first death is called figuratively "asleep". The second is called figuratively "a fire", because the fire is used as a symbol of destruction because you could not preserve anything in fire. The whole human race is called asleep, because Jesus died for them and there is hope of awakening, but of the second death there is no resurrection from the dead and, further, it is spoken of as a lake of fire which is the second death. Fire is used as a symbol of destruction. The second death comes after the first.
Our brother proved three deaths. He says you are dead in trespasses and sins, your body will die, and your soul will be cast into hell. That would be a third death not a second one. If I am dead in sin, and my body dies that is twice, and if my soul dies that is three times. It is better to look at it from the Bible stand point, that the whole human race will be brought back to earth, and will come to know about the love of Jesus who died for them, and then if they wilfully sin they shall be cast into the second death. You cannot kill a man twice at once, I think that is very clear. Now, quoting from Ezekiel again, where our brother said everyone should die for his own iniquity, the human race is not dying for its own iniquity. Romans v v.12, Revised Version, "Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world; and so death passed upon all men." There is nobody saved yet, and nobody has ever got a chance of salvation yet, only the Church. The rest of the human race will get a chance at the second advent, not a second chance but a first chance. Satan will be bound a thousand years. Christ will open all the blind eyes, and there shall be a highway, not a narrow way. Then when Christ comes, when the desert blooms as a rose, is Christs second advent. Psalm xc v.1 - "let the earth rejoice for the Lord cometh to judge" it is a good time when Christ cometh to judge the world. "Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice" "He shall judge the world with righteousness" I thank God that there is hope for our unsaved friends in the coming time when our Lord comes to judge the world. 2nd Timothy iv v.1 - "I charge thee therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." That is the time the living and the dead shall be judged. You and I get on our knees every morning and we say, "Thy kingdom come" "He shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." Then, "Thy will be done on earth." On "earth". Then "as it is done in heaven." But it cannot be done until Christ comes to judge the world, and in judging the world he will help the world. He comes to bless not damn the world. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
"I have said before, and repeat, I am under no obligation to pay the least attention to any side question raised by Mr. McComb. There is just one thing I will refer to. Mr. McComb says I made no reference to how it was with those who died. Listen to what the Apostle Paul, inspired by the spirit of God, said; "whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord." 2nd Corinthians v v.6 and he says, "We are --- willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." In Philippians i v.23, he speaks of his desire to be with Christ, which is far better. Those that passed away from here redeemed by the blood of Jesus, saved by grace, and knew the joy of sins forgiven, you want to know where they are. You could not guess, and I could not tell, but the Apostle Paul declares they are with Christ: that is where they are, "Which is far better" that is how they are. This Scripture shows clearly and plainly where they are, and how they are - "with Christ", where else could you wish them to be? And "far better." What more could true love desire?
Mr. McComb said I did not deal fairly with Luke x v.1 in regard to the rich man. Listen while I give you the words of Christ: in hell that is where he is, in torment that is how he is, and that is true of all who die out of Christ, and in their sins. The Saviour said, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." "Whither I go ye cannot come." But those who are saved when they pass away it is to be with Christ - that is where they are far better - that is how they are. "But if ye believe not that I am he ye shall die in your sins" and "whither I go ye cannot come." In hell, that is where they are; in torment that is how they are. That is neither Mr. McComb's opinion nor mine: that is the word of God who cannot lie. (Applause). (I am sorry you have applauded, because it is not fair to Mr. McComb. I enjoy your expression of appreciation, but please reserve it for some future time.) In hell, that is where they are; in torment that is how they are. As I have said that is neither his opinion, nor mine. He has been suggesting more than once to you what you would not do, and saying what God would not do. None of us know what God has done apart from that Blessed Book; neither do we know what God will do apart from that Book. God declares what he has done and will do, and we are absolutely indebted to God for every ray of light beyond the tomb and beyond this scene in which we are and God tells us, those who fall asleep in Christ are "with Christ" and "far better," those who die in their sins are in hell, that is where they are; in torment that is how they are. This is what the Lord said, and what the rich man in hell confessed. "I am tormented in this flame" let me quote two verses, Matt xx v.46 and John 3 v.36.
You heard Mr. McComb say something about the goats being put into the fire (I regret his irreverent remark.) "He shall separate them as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." It is people, not animals that are spoken of, and those called goats get a place on the left hand, and the others - the sheep - on the right. No man knows better than Mr. McComb that the word used in Matthew xx v.46 is the same in either case. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life", (Revised Version Mr. McComb), it is the same word in either case. Then you heard him say something about the fire and what it's effect would be. Listen, "depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared" - for whom? For sinful men.
I challenge anyone to show that God prepared the lake of fire for sinful men. No tongue can tell or mind conceive what God in infinite love has prepared for us at wondrous cost, Salvation, perfect and eternal through the atoning blood of his son. No man believes more in God's love than I do. But I believe He is light as well as love, and if men prefer the service of the devil to the service of God, if men prefer sin and despise Salvation bought by the blood of Jesus, if they refuse to own the authority of God, if they refuse to bow the knee to him, then listen: "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Christ brought Salvation to all men, and "how shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation"? If we spurn that pardon bought by his blood then by so doing we seal our own doom, damn our own soul, and prepare ourselves for the place that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and these "shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into eternal life" Who said that? The Lord who cannot lie.
Mr. McComb has been saying what the Lord will do, and will not do. God himself knows best, and God declares there is only one thing he cannot do, and that is: it is impossible for God to lie, and the mouth of the Lord hast spoken it. Now here is one verse when rightly understood that completely wipes out two soul damning heresies that are widely spread today - the one called Universal Salvation, the other called annihilation. I think Mr. McComb is an advocate of both for he speaks as if, no matter how a man dies, there is hope of being saved by and by. Look, listen! John iii v.36 - "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life." No Universal Salvation there, "shall not see life", no hope beyond the tomb, no chance beyond the grave. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life." That wipes out Universal Salvation. Listen, "But the wrath of God abideth on him," not visiteth him, but abideth on him. He must be there or it could not abide upon him. The wrath of God does not wipe him out, the wrath of God does not annihilate him; the wrath of God abideth on him, and Revelation xx v.10 says it is "Forever and ever." Those verses go to show without the shadow of a doubt (for he cannot lie) that if we die in Christ we shall be with Christ which is far better. But if we die in our sins, then the lake of fire shall be our place, and "The wrath of God abideth on him," this shall be their portion. Thus saith the Lord."
"I wish our bother believed it. "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life." Will they be living in hell? He that believeth not Christ shall not see life, but the wrath of God the dominion of death, abideth on him. Where is Adam tonight. The wrath of God brought him to the dust. The wrath of God is abiding on him, and the second death will be everlasting death.
Our brother quoted Matthew xx v.46 - "They shall go away into everlasting punishment." Why did he not say torment, if torment was the right kind of punishment? What is the punishment for sin? Death, What is everlasting punishment? The second death. What is the punishment under the law of England for a criminal who commits murder? Death, capital punishment. Death is the capital punishment of the law of God. Everlasting Death therefore is everlasting punishment. I do not deny everlasting punishment, but I deny it is torment. I say, "The wages of sin is death," not torment. I was wonderfully struck, when our brother said, "in torment that is how they are," that you started clapping your hands. This is how it appealed to me. I think, dear friends, if there is the slightest love of God in you, the love of Jesus Christ, you would be sorry, instead of clapping your hands at your fellow men being roasted. We could think of the Germans who crucified our fellow men as being brutes, but you can sit here and laugh at the idea of Satan tormenting your fellow men forever and ever. I think your hearts must be black and that you are "in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity" I wish you could change your hearts and become like Christ. You do not love them, I am glad to rejoice because I know they are not suffering. I would not cause a cat to suffer. I know the law of England would punish you for causing an ass to suffer, it would punish you if you worked an ass with a sore on its back, and you ask me to believe God will permit Satan to torment his creatures to all eternity. He told us it was prepared "for" the devil not "by" the devil. It was prepared then by somebody else; it was prepared by God, so we think of it as prepared by God. "There the prisoners rest together" They are not tormented. They rest together. I did not make it. I am quoting from the Bible; I know my brother loves the Bible. "There the prisoners rest together." not tormented together. "There the servant is free from his master." Job xi v.21 - "His sons come to honour and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them."
Our friend told us that when the Apostle Paul said, "Absent from the body to be present with the Lord." he did not say for how long. The minute he died did he travel 92,000,000 miles beyond the Sun to be with Christ? I believe he is wrong. I believe the Second advent is the time we meet. "The Lord himself shall descend" --- "and the dead and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them --- to meet the Lord in the air." The Lord's second advent is the time of meeting. They are dead in Christ for they are not caught up yet. They will go up to meet him in the air at his second advent."
"Mr. McComb never once called your attention to the fact that it was the God of infinite love who gave his Holy sinless Son to the awful death of the Cross. It was the God of infinite love who did that. God in infinite love gave his holy sinless Son to take the guilty sinners place and there upon the cross endure the awful wrath that we deserved. This the God of Love has done, and has plainly said what he will do with all who love their sins, and neglect his great Salvation secured for us by the sufferings of his sinless Son. It is not for Mr. McComb or myself to say what God can do, will do, or wont do. Only from that Blessed Book do we learn what God has done, and will do. Again I remind you, there is only one thing he cannot do, it is impossible for God to lie.
I want to read you five things that stand or fall together. Hebrews i v.8 - "Thy throne O God, is forever and ever." Does that mean Gods throne will only stand till it falls? is that the idea conveyed by these words, that the throne declared by these words will only stand till it falls? In Revelation x v.9, we read, "God who liveth forever and ever." Does that mean God will only live till he dies? The thought is blasphemous. "Forever and ever" is the life time of God and "Forever and ever" is the duration of his throne.
The Lord Jesus says in Revelation iv v.18 - "I am he that liveth and was dead and behold I am alive forever more," does that mean he will only live until he dies again? and concerning those redeemed by his precious blood, the hope held out to them is that we shall reign forever and ever - Rev. xxii v.5 - does that mean we shall only reign till we cease reigning? And of the victims of the lake of fire, God has said, "And they shall be tormented day and night forever and ever." Does that mean it is only for a very brief and limited duration? No, no, all these are of equal duration, and are stamped with eternity. We are now looking into the sphere where there is no time limit. Time has passed away, eternity has dawned and those five things stand or fall together. If one goes they all go, if one falls they all fall. The same words forever and ever describe the whole five. If the throne of God dissolves and the eternal God dies and the Lamb once slain be slain again, and the reign of the redeemed end with bitter disappointment then but not till then, will the sufferings of the wicked cease. But sure as Gods throne shall stand, and the eternal God live, and he who liveth, live for ever more, and his redeemed wear their amaranthine crown, and grasp their waving Palm of victory and swell their hallelujah chorus, so surely shall the sin loving and Christ rejecting prove the truth of Gods word, and be tormented day and night forever and ever.
God foresaw and foreknew that men would arise and deny, pervert and corrupt his holy word. It is what Satan did in Eden, and in Old Testament days there were false prophets among the people and in the days of Paul there were false Apostles, deceitful workers; and Peter said: !There shall be false teachers among you." God foreseeing and foreknowing this would be said, (these are the true words of God) - Rev. xix v.9 - "The day will dawn, the time will come, when according to Jeremiah, they shall know whose words shall stand, mine or theirs." The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
END OF THE DEBATE