When considering the threatenings of the Bible, it must never be forgotten that they are always to be interpreted and understood in harmony with the great principles declared in the Scriptures, and more especially with the revealed character of God, and his promises to man. They must be so explained as to harmonize with the rest of the book that contains them. For instance, we read that "God is a spirit," and yet the same book speaks of the eye, hand, arm and ear of God. As an infinite spirit can have no such organs, we must not say either (1) that God is not a spirit, or (2) that one part of the book contradicts another part. Such passages must be interpreted so as to agree with the great central fact that God is a spirit.
Now we read that "God is Love"—is a "Father." And at the same time we are told that he will cast the wicked into hell—into everlasting fire— will punish them forever, etc. On the same principle we must not (1) deny that God is Love and a merciful Father, nor (2) believe that the Bible contradicts itself; but we must believe that the threatenings harmonize with the promises, and that no penalty can be accepted as taught in the Bible, that would prove God not a father, or destitute of love towards each and all of his children. In other words, we must shed the light of infinite, boundless, unending love on all threatened penalties, and interpret them in perfect accord with the Divine character. Believing that God is love, we must not only be prejudiced against believing that endless or any other cruel punishment is threatened in the Bible, but we must, with all the resistance of which our moral natures are capable, refuse to credit any statement that represents God as permitting any penalty to befall the sinner which will not result in his final welfare. The love of God, the Divine Paternity, is an efficient guaranty against the possibility that unending agony can be experienced by any human creature. So that, if the letter of Scripture seemed to teach endless punishment—which it does not, when properly understood— the light of the great central fact of revelation-God's Love—would dispel all darkness from the declaration as soon as the light of that truth should fall upon it. In this frame of mind we should consider the threatenings of the Bible.
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