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it Infinite, namely, that it is an Offence and Affront to the Infinite Majesty of God. Since therefore this Reason of Sin's being styled Infinite is not possibly applicable to Punishment inflicted by Almighty God, or to any thing whatsoever befide Sin, 'tis in vain to urge any thing as by the same Reason; 'tis therefore Impossible, that the case which this Author brings as Equivalent and palpably absurd, or that any other instance whatsoever Should Really be Equivalent, and by confequence, that any such instance should prove any thing at all against the Argument.
As for the first and Principal part of this Reflection, though there be something in it of that Clear and Easy Thought and Expression which the Author of it was so Eminent for, yet 'tis all Groundless and Mistaken. The Argument sets forth, that Everlasting misery is the Just punishment of Sin; and here is a very formal poof produced, that there are Degrees in the demerit of Sin, and will be Degrees of Punishment in the World to come; from which 'tis insinuated, that
Sin cannot deserve Punishment 'in any sense Infinite, because Infinite does not admit of any Degrees. Now no body ever denied or doubted, that there are Degrees of demerit and will be Degrees. of punishment in the World to come; but what is this to Infinite Duration, the only thing in question, and the only thing that this Reflection should have refer'd to? For the punishment of all Wicked men may be Infinite in Duration, and yet greater or less in Quality or Degree, more or less Sharp and Tormenting according to the Degrees of their Sins.
2ly, The second Argument is thus represented and thus replied to; It is said by others, that if Wicked men lived for ever in this world, they would fin for ever, and therefore they deserve to be punished for ever. But this hath neither truth nor reason enough in it to give satisfaction: For who can certainly tell, that if a man lived never so long, he would never repent and grow better?
In answer to this, it seems fufficiently manifeft, from the Principles of the Gospel, by which alone we are to be guid
ed ed and determined in this Matter, that no Man dies in a State of Impenitence, till he hath so far provoked Almighty God by his Sins, that the means of Grace are Justly and Finally withdrawn from him: And I think it may safely be affirmed, that those, from whom God's Grace is Finally withdrawn, would be for ever disobedient, if they should be suffer'd to live here for ever.
But 'tis further urged, that supposing this to be True, it is no Reason of God's inflicting Everlasting punishment, and that upon this account, That the Justice of God does only punish the Sins which men have committed in this life, and not those which they might possibly have committed if they had lived longer.
But here the Argument is Misapprehended, and the Reply very little or nothing to the purpose. For 'tis not supposed, that men will be punished for those Sins which they might possibly have committed if they had lived longer. If this were alledged, it must be with respect, not to the Duration, but the Degrees of punishment, which are without question
to be determined and inflicted proportionably to the measures of guilt: And therefore that any man should suffer the same Degrees of punishment, as if he had Actually committed all those Sins which he might Possibly have committed if he had lived longer, would be, according to our Notions of things, inconsistent with God's Justice. In this sense, and in this fense only, the observation is true, but does not at all affect the genuine purport and force of the Argument before us, which is grounded upon, and to be interpreted by, that Maxim of the Schoolmen, in this case, Duratio poena respondet durationi culpe, non quidem ex parte Actûs, sed ex parte Macule. The Duration of Punishment is proportionate to the Duration of Sin; where by Sin we are not to understand the Act of Sin, but the Pollution of it. And this is no Unintelligible nicety or senseless distinction, but the plain Truth, consonant to Reason and Scripture; from both which we know, that fin * defiles a man, that
* Mat. xv. 20.
thereby thereby * even the mind and Conscience is defiled.
We cannot indeed so accurately and fully account for Spiritual pollution as we can for the objects of sense, because our notions of Spirit are less clear and perfect. But our knowledge of it is thus far certain, that the commission of sin withdraws our Affections from God, and fixeth them upon such things as are directly repugnant to his Purity and Holinefs; that Habitual Sinners do with abhorrence avoid that which is Good and with delight adhere to that which is Evil. Now if this be the case, as doubtless it is, of all those who die in a state of fin; and if the means of Grace do terminate with this life; if there be no Repentance, no Conversion, no Regeneration beyond the grave, (as there is not the least colour of reason to believe or hope it) hence it necessarily follows, that all habitual Sinners will be for ever alienated from the love of God, everlastingly subject to an Abhorrence of Goodness, and everlast
* Tit. i. 15.