other way for sinners being purged as moral agents; and, if hell fire is the means of any other purification, it cannot be a moral purification.

If the wicked in hell are the subjects of torments, in order to their purification, and so being fitted for, and finally brought to eternal happiness: then they are the subjects of a dispensation, that is truly a dispensation of love, and of divine and infinite goodness and benevolence, towards them.-And if the design of the pains of hell be that of kind and benevolent chastise. ment, to bring sinners to repentance, and compliance with the divine will; then we cannot suppose that they will be continued after the sinner has repented, and is actually brought to yield and comply. For that would be to continue them for no purpose ; to go on using means and endeavours to obtain the end, when the end is accomplished, and the thing aimed at is fully obtained already.-Moreover, if the damned, after many ages suffering extreme torment in hell, are to be delivered, and made perfectly and eternally happy, then they must be in a state of probation during this long season of their confinement to such extreme misery. If they are not in a state of probation, or on any trial how they will behave themselves, under these severe and terrible inflictions of wrath, but are to be delivered and made eternally happy at the end of a certain period : then what restraints are they under from giving an unbounded loose and license to their wickedness, in expressions of enmity against God, in cursing and blaspheming, and whatever their hearts are inclined to ? And if they are in such a state as this, wherein they are thus left to unrestrained wickedness, and every curb to their most wicked inclination is taken off, being nevertheless sure of deliverance and everlasting happiness; how far is this state fit to be a state of purgation of rational creatures and moral agents from sin, being a state wherein they are so far from means of repentance, reformation, and entirely reclaiming and purging them from sin, that all manner of means are rather removed ; and so much is every restraint taken off, that they are given up wholly to sin, which, instead of purifying them, will tend above all things that can be conceived, to harden them in sin, and desperately establish the habits of it?

$ 3. A state of purgation of moral agents, that is, a state to bring sinners to repentance and reformation, and not a state of trial, is a gross absurdity: If any should say, that, “ .

though we should maintain that the pains of hell are purifying pains, to bring sinners to repentance, in order to their deliverance and eternal happiness; yet there will be no necessity of supposing, either that they may sin with impunity, and so without restraint; or that they are properly in a state of probation : for they have no probation whether they shall finally have eternal happiness, because it is absolutely determined by the benevolent Creator, concerning his intelligent creatures, that they shall finally be brought to a state of happiness; but yet their circumstances may be such as may tend greatly to restrain their wickedness, because that the time of their torment shall be longer or shorter, according as they behave themselves under their chastisements more or less perversely; or that their torment shall be raised to a greater height, and additions be made in proportion to the wickedness they commit in their purgatory flames :" To this, I ANSWER: Even on this supposition they are in a state of probation for a more speedy possession of eternal life and happiness, and deliverance from fur. ther misery and punishment; this makes their state as much a state of probation, as their state in the present life. For here it is supposed by these men, that sinners are not in a state of trial, whether ever they shall obtain eternal happiness or no; because that is absolutely determined, and the determination known, or knowable concerning all without any trial. But only it is a state of trial whether they shall obtain eternal life so soon as at the end of their lives, or at the day of judgment. Neither have they any trial during this life, whether they shall escape all affliction and chastisement for sin or not ; but whether they shall be relieved from a state of suffering so soon, and shall escape those severer and longer chastisements that, with respect to many, are to come afterward.

And on the supposition of the objection, there must be the proper circumstances of a state of probation in hell, as well as on earth. There they must likewise be continued in that state of free agency, that renders them properly the subjects of judgment and retribution. For on the supposition of the objection, they shall be punished for their wickedness in hell, by an addition to their misery proportioned to their sin ; and they shall be the subjects of God's merciful strivings, endeavours, and means to bring them to repentance, as well as here. And there must be a divine judgment after the trial, to determine their retribution, as much as after this life. And the same or like things, must be determined by the Supreme Judge, as will be determined at the day of judgment. At that great day, on the supposition of such as I oppose, What will be determined concerning the impenitent? not what their eternal state shall be, but only whether they shall have eternal happiness immediately; whether they have repented, and are qualified for immediate admission to heavenly glory ; or, whether the bestowment of it shall be delayed, and further chastisements made use of, and so it must be again after their castigatory purifying pains. At the end of all there must be a judgment, whether now they truly repent, and so have performed the condition of deliverance, and immediate admission to the state of the blessed, or whether there shall be a further season of misery ; which brings it in all respects to be a proper judgment, as much as that at the general resurrection; and the preceding time of the use of means and God's striving with them to bring them to repentance, is as much a proper time of trial in order to judgment, as the time of this life.

§ 4. But if the damned are in a state of trial, let it be considered how unreasonable this is. If they are in a state of trial, then they must be in a state of liberty and moral agency, as those men will doubtless own; and so, according to their notion of liberty, must be under no necessity of continuing in their rebellion and wickedness, but may cast away their abominations, and turn to God and their duty, in a thorough subjection to his will, very speedily. And then, seeing the end of their probationary state, and the severe means God uses with them to bring them to repentance, is obtained; how unreasonable will it be to suppose, that God, after this, would continue them still under hell-torments for a long succession of ages? But if God should speedily deliver them on their speedy repentance; how are the threatenings and predictions of their everlasting punishment fulfilled in any sense, according to the sense even of those who deny the absolute eternity of the misery of hell, and hold, that the words everlasting and for ever, &c., when applied to the misery of the damned, are not to be taken in the strictest sense? They yet allow, they signify a very long time, a great many ages.

$5. If the devils and damned spirits are in a state of probation, and have liberty of will, and are under the last and most extreme means to bring them to repentance, and, consequently, the greatest means, having the strongest tendency of all to be effectual; I say, if thus, then it is possible, that the greatest part, if not all of them, may be reclaimed by those extreme means, and may be brought to thorough repentance before the day of judgment; yea, it is possible, it might be very soon. And, if so, how could it certainly be predicted concerning the devil, that he would do such and such great things in opposition to Christ and his church, from age to age? and that, at last, he should be judged and punished, and have God's wrath more terribly executed upon him? as Rev. xx. 10. “ 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 for ever and ever." And how is it said in Scripture, that when he fell, he was cast down from heaven, and reserved under chains of darkness unto judgment? The expression seems naturally to signify strong and irrefragable bonds, which admit of no comfort or hope of escape. And, besides, a being reserved in chains unto judgment, is not consistent with the appointment of another time Vol. VII.


of trial and opportunity to escape the judgment and condemnation. It is said, Jude 6, “ They are reserved in everlasting

. chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. And if any of the separate souls of the wicked, that are in the case that the soul of the rich man was in, when he died and lift up his eyes in hell, being in torments, should repent and be delivered before the day of judgment, and so should appear at the right hand among the righteous at that day, then how could that be verified, 2 Cor. v. 10. - For we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, whether good or bad?" And we have reason to think, that the time of standing before the judgment-seat of Christ, which the apostle has a special respect to, is the day of judgment, if we compare this with other scriptures ; as that of the same apostle, Acts xvii. 31. “He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained.” And many other places.

$ 6. And how does their being in a state of trial, many of them for so many ages after death before the day of judgment, during all which time they have opportunity to repent, consist with those words of Christ, Mark vii. 38.

« Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me, and my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him, also, shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels? How is their continuing in a state of trial from the time of that generation, and from the end of their lives, to the day of judgment, consistent with its being declared to them from God beforehand, that they shall certainly be condemned at the day of judgment? or, with Christ's certifying them beforehand, that wbatever trial they shall have, whatever opportunity God should give them for repentance and pardon, for so many ages, all would be in vain; which, in effect, is passing the sentence. We may argue, in like manner, from those words, Matt, x, 14, 15. « And whosoever shall not receive you, and hear your words,--Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sódom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” So Matt. xi. 2124. “Wo unto thee, Chorazin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida !-I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, in the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be brought down to hell. I

say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee."

It is here declared, what the state of those obstinate unbe. lievers should be at the day of judgment, for their wickedness here in the body, with an asseveration I say unto you. And sentence indeed is passed beforehand upon them by their Judge


concerning the punishment that shall be executed upon them at the day of judgment. The declaration is made in the form of a solemn denunciation or sentence: Wo unto thee, Chora. zin! wo unto thee, Bethsaida, &c. And is it reasonable to suppose, that the very Judge that is to judge them at the end of the world, would peremptorily declare, that they should not escape punishment at the day of judgment; yea, solemnly denounce sentence upon them, dooming them to the distinguished punishment they should then suffer for their obstinacy in their lifetime; and yet appoint another time of trial, of a great many hundred years between their death and the day of judgment, wherein they should have opportunity to escape that punishment?

§ 7. It is here also to be observed, that the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah should be condemned to misery at the day of judgment, though they had already been in their purifying flames, and in a state of probation. The apostle (Rom. ji. 16.) repeatedly tells us, when these things shall be, that men shall thus receive their retribution ; “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men according to my gospel ;" which shows that this life is the only state of trial, and that all men shall be judgud at the end of the world according to their behaviour in this life, and not according to their behaviour in another state of trial, between this life and that day. So it is apparent, by 2 Thess. i. 5-9. " Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God-seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction,” &c. Here it is manifest, that all who are obstinate unbelievers, rejectors of the gospel, shall at the day of judgment, be punished with everlasting destruction. So that no room is left for a state of trial, and a space to repent before that time for ages in hell. So it is apparent Matt. xxv. that none will be found at the right hand, but they that have done such good works, as can be done only in this world; which would not be declared beforehand, if there was an opportunity given for millions of others to obtain that privilege.

§ 8. It may be proved, that the day of man's trial, and the time of God's striving in the use of means to bring him to re. pentance, and waiting for his repentance under the use of means, will not be continued after this life, from those words, Gen. vi. 6. “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." It is as much as to say, that it is not fit that this day of trial and opportunity should last always to obstinate,

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