SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."--John iii.16
THE term world as here used does not mean the globe of earth on which we live--but the race of man. In this sense the term is often used. The world; the whole world; are terms often used to signify the men who live in the world, the race of man, as such. The term perish in this passage does not mean annihilation; it is manifestly put in contrast to everlasting life, as the opposite of that. Everlasting life, as the term is here used, is not merely everlasting existence--I know not the term is ever used in that sense in any other part of the Bible: whether everlasting existence will be a blessing or not, will depend upon the state in which individuals exist, whether in happiness or misery. Under some circumstances everlasting existence might be anything but a blessing.
This everlasting life which is here spoken of is doubtless an everlasting living with God in heaven--an everlasting existence combined with everlasting happiness; this is the eternal life so often spoken* of in the Scriptures, and, doubtless, is that which is meant in this place. Now to perish is the opposite of this; it is not annihilation or a mere ceasing from existence, because to annihilate would ofttimes be no evil to the individual on whom the sentence should be inflicted; to a wretched being it would be not an evil at all, but a great favour. In short, it is very plain that to perish is the very opposite of everlasting life, and means what is expressed in everlasting death, or a state of endless punishment.
In speaking from these words I propose to notice--