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those that die in their sins, that they have all the good and coulfort in this life, that ever is designed for them. Luke vi. 24. “ Wo unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.” Luke xvi. 25. “ Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things." Psal. xvii. 13, 14. “ Deliver my soul from the wicked-from the men of the world which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure."
$ 30. According to the opinion I am now opposing, God will surely at the last deliver all the damned from their misery, and make them happy. So that God will see to it, that the purifying torments shall certainly at last have their effect, to turn them from sin. Now, how can this consist with God's treating them as moral agents, and their acting from the freedom of their own wills, in the affair of their turning from sin, and becoming morally pure and virtuous, according to the notions of freedom and moral agency which now prevail, and are strenuously maintained by some of the chief assertors of this opinion concerning hell torments; which notion of freedom implies contingence, and is wholly inconsistent with the necessity of the event ? If after all the torments used to bring sinners to repentance, the consequence aimed at, viz. their turning from sin to virtue, be not necessary, but it shall still remain a contingent event, whether there ever will be any such consequence of those severe, long-continued chastisements or no; then, how can it be determined, that this will surely be the consequence? How can it be a thing infallible, that such a consequence of means used will follow, when at the same time, it is not a consequence any way
necessarily connected with the means used, it being only a thing contingent whether it will follow or not? If God has determined absolutely to make them all pure and happy, and yet their purity and happiness depend on the freedom of their will; then here is an absolute, divine decree, consistent with the freedom of men's will, which is a doctrine utterly rejected by the generality of that sort of men who deny the eternity of hell torments. If it be said, that God has not absolutely determined the duration or measure of their torments, but intends to continue them till they do repent, or to try lesser torments first, and, if these do not answer, to increase them till they are effectual, determining that he will raise or continue them till the effect shall finally and infallibly follow; that is the same thing as to necessitate the effect. And here is necessity in such a case, as much as when a founder puts a piece of metal into a furnace, with a resolution to melt it, and
a if continuing it there a little while will not dissolve it, that he will keep it there till it does dissolve : and if, by reason of its peculiar hardness, an ordinary degree of heat of the furnace will not be effectual, that he will increase the vehemence of the heat, till the effect shall certainly follow.
$ 31. If any should maintain this scheme of temporary future punishments, viz. that the torments in hell are not purifying pains, and that the damned are not in a state of trial with regard to any expected admission to eternal happiness, and that therefore they are not the proper objects of divine benevolence; that the dispensation they are under, is not truly a dispensation of mercy, but that their torments are properly penal pains, wherein God displays his vindictive justice; that they shall suffer misery to such a degree, and for so long a time, as their obstinate wickedness in this world deserves ; and that indeed they shall be miserable a very long time, so long that it is often figuratively spoken of in Scripture as being everlasting, and that then they shall be annihilated : On this I would observe, that there is nothing got by such a scheme; no relief from the arguments taken from Scripture, for the proper eternity of future punishment. For, if it be owned, that Scripture expressions denote a punishment that is properly eternal, but that it is in no other sense properly so, than as the annihilation, or state of non-existence to which the wicked shall return, will be eternal; and that this eternal annihilation is that death which is so often threatened for sin, perishing for ever, everlasting destruction, being lost, utterly consumed, &c.; and that the fire of hell is called eternal fire, in the same sense that the external fire which consumed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is called eternal fire, (Jude 7.) because it utterly consumed those cities, that they might never be built more; and that this fire is called that which cannot be quenched, or at least not until it has destroyed them that are cast into it. If this be all that these expressions denote, then they do not at all signify the length of the torments, or long continuance of their misery; so that the supposition of the length of their torments is brought in without any necessity, the Scripture saying nothing of it, having no respect to it, when it speaks of their everlasting punishments: and it answers the Scripture expressions as well, to suppose that they shall be annihilated immediately, without any long pains, provided the annihilation be everlasting.
§ 32. If any should suppose, that the torments of the damned in hell are properly penal, and in execution of penal justice, but yet that they are neither eternal, nor shall end in annihilation, but shall be continued till justice is satisfied, and they have truly suffered as much as they deserve, whereby their punishment shall be so long as to be called everlasting, but that then they shall be delivered, and finally be the subjects of everlasting happiness; and that therefore they shall not in the mean-time be in a state of trial, nor will be waited upon in order to repentVOL. VII.
ance, nor will their torments be used as means to bring them to it; for that the term and measure of their punishment shall be fixed, from which they shall not be delivered on repentance, or any terms or conditions whatsoever, until justice is satisfied: I would observe in answer to this, that if it be so, the damned, while under their suffering, are either answerable for the wickedness that is acted by them while in that state, or may properly be the subjects of a judicial proceeding for it, or not. If the former be supposed, then it will follow, that they must have another state of suffering and punishment, after the ages of their suffering for the sins of this life are ended. And it cannot be supposed, that this second period of suffering will be shorter than the first : For the first is only for the sins committed during a short life, often represented in Scripture for its shortness, to be a dream, a tale that is told, a blast of wind, a vapour, a span, a moment, &c.
But the time of punishment is always represented as exceeding long, called everlasting ; represented as enduring for ever and ever, as having no end, &c. If the sins of a moment must be followed with such punishment, then, doubtless the sins of those endless ages, must be followed with another second period of suffering, much longer. For it must be supposed, that the damned continue sipning all the time of their punishment; for pone can rationally imagine, that God would hold them under such extreme torments, and terrible manifestations and executions of his wrath, after they have thoroughly repented, and turned from sin, and are become pure and holy, and conformed to God, and so have left off sinning. And if they continue in sin, during this state of punishment, with assurance that God still has a great benevolence for them, even so as to intend finally to make them everlastingly happy in the enjoyment of his love, then their sin must be attended with great aggravation; as they will have the evil and ill desert of sin set before them in the most affecting manner, in their dreadful sufferings for it, attended besides with evidence that God is infinitely benevolent towards them, and intends to bestow infinite blessings upon them.-But, if this first long period of punishment must be followed with a second as long, or longer ; for the same reason, the second must be followed by a third, as long or longer than that; and so the third must be followed by a fourth, and so in infinitum ; and, at this rate, there never can be an end of their misery. So this scheme overthrows itself.
§ 39. And if the damned are not answerable for the wickedness they commit during their state of punishment, then we must suppose that, during the whole of their long, and, as it were, eternal state of punishment, they are given up of God to the most unrestrained wickedness, having this to consider, that how far soever they go in the allowed exercises and manifesta
tions of their malice and rage against God and Christ, saints and angels, and their fellow damned spirits, they have nothing to fear from it, it will be never the worse ; and surely, continu. ing in such unrestrained wickedness, for such duration, must most desperately confirm the habit of sin, must increase the root and fountain of it in the heart. Now, how unreasonable is it to suppose that God would thus deal with such as were objects of his infinite kindness, and the appointed subjects of the unspeakable and endless fruits of his love, in a state of perfect holiness and purity, and conformity to and union with himself; thus to give them up beforehand to unrestrained malignity against himself
, and every kind of hellish wickedness, as it were infinitely to increase the fountain of sin in the heart, and the strength of the principle and habit ? Now, how incongruous is it to suppose, with regard to those for whom God has great benevolence, and designs eternal favour, that he would lay them under a necessity of extreme unbounded hatred of him, blasphemy and rage against him, for so many ages ; such necessity as should exclude all liberty of their own in the case ? If God intends not only punishment, but purification by these torments; on this supposition, instead of their being purified, they must be set at an infinitely greater distance from purification. And if God intends them for a second time of probation, in order to their being brought to repentance and the love of God after their punishment is finished; then how can it be certain beforehand, that they shall finally be happy, as is supposed ? How can it be certain they will not fail, in their second trial, or in their third, if there be a third ? Yea, how much more likely, that they will fail of truly turning in heart from sin to the love of God, in their second trial, if there be any proper trial in the case, after their hearts have been so much more brought under the power of a strong habit of sin and enmity to God? If the habit proved so strong in this life, that the most powerful means and mighty inducements of the gospel would not prevail, go that God was, as it were, under a necessity of cutting them down and dealing thus severely with them; how much less likely will it be, that they will be prevailed upon to love God and the ways of virtue, after their hearts are set at so much greater distance from those things? Yea, unless we suppose a divine interposition of almighty, efficacious power, to change the heart in the time of this second trial, we may be sure that, under these circumstances, the heart will not turn to love God.
§ 34. And besides, if they are laid under such a necessity of hating and blaspheming God, for so many ages, in the manner that has been spoken of, how extremely incongruous is such an imagination, that God would lay those he intended for the eternal bounty and blessedness of dear children, under such circumstances, that they must necessarily hate him, and with
devilish fury curse and blaspheme him for innumerable ages, and yet never have cause, even when they are delivered and made happy in God's love, to condemn themselves for it, though they see the infinite hatefulness and unreasonableness of it, because God laid them under such a necessity, that they could use no liberty of their own in the case ? I leave it for all to judge, whether God's thus ordering things, with regard to such as, from great benevolence, he intended for eternal happiness in a most blessed union with himself, be credible.
$ 35. The same disposition and habit of mind, and manner of viewing things, is indeed the main ground of the cavils of many of the modern free-thinkers; and modish writers, against the extremity and eternity of hell torments, if relied upon, would cause them to be dissatisfied with almost any thing that is very uncomfortable in a future punishment, so much as the enduring of the pain that is occasioned by the thrusting of a thorn under the nail of the finger, for a whole year together, day and night, without any rest or the least intermission or abatement. There are innumerable calamities that come to pass in this world, through the permission and ordination of divine providence, against which (were it not that they are what we see with our eyes, and are universally known and incontestable facts, this cavilling, unbelieving spirit, would strongly object: and, if they were only proposed in theory, as matters of faith, would be opposed as exceedingly inconsistent with the moral perfections of God; and the opinions of such as asserted them would be cried out against, as in numberless ways contrary to God's wisdom, his justice, goodness, mercy, &c; such as, the innumerable calamities that have happened to poor innocent children, through the merciless cruelty of barbarous enemies; their being gradually roasted to death, shrieking and crying for their fathers and mothers; the extreme pains they sometimes are tormented with, by terrible diseases which they suffer ; the calamities that have many times been brought on whole cities, while besieged, and when taken by merciless soldiers, destroying all men, women, and children, without any pity ; the extreme miseries which have been suffered by millions of innocent persons, of all ages, sexes, and conditions, in times of persecution, when there has been no refuge to be found on earth; yea, those things that come to pass universally, of which all mankind are the subjects, in temporal death, which is so dreadful to nature.