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vince, that 'tis Final and Unalterable, so the Consequences of it shall be Immediately executed; both the Righteous and the Wicked shall presently enter upon the Different states thus Finally allotted them: There is nothing more to be feared by the one, or hoped by the other, but immediately after Judgment thus passed, These * sall go away into Everlasting punishment, but the Righteous into life Eternal. And we are further confirmed in the Belief of this by our Saviour, Mar. ix. at the 43. and following Verses, where he thrice styles the state of future misery, The fire that never ball be quenched, where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched, as if he did industriously Anticipate every the least degree of hope, that the punishment of Wicked Men shall ever have an end. To this account which our Saviour hath given us may be added that Remarkable passage, where 'tis said of the Wicked, that they shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of bis Indignation, and Mall be tormented
* Matth. xxv. 46.
with fire * and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb; and the Smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.
The certainty therefore of everlasting Happiness prepared for Good men, which no body is inclined either to Disbelieve or Dispute, is not more plain and clear than the eternal Misery of the Wicked; which yet hath been Question’d by some, and boldly Contradicted by others, upon several Principles, all which seem to be manifestly trivial and groundless, as may appear from what is in the second place proposed, viz.
II. Secondly, The solution of the Principal Ojections that have been made against the Eternity of Future punishment. And
Ist. I shall take notice of the Notion commonly charged upon Origen; That after the Wicked have, for a long time, endured the punishment inflicted upon them at the day of Judgment, they will be, at last, translated from Misery into the state of the Blessed; a Notion which there is not one tolerable Reason brought to prove, there being nothing, from * Rev. xiv. 10, 11. .
. B 4 which
which it can be deduced, in holy Scripture. For the texts alledged in favour of it, which St. Jerom * recites, do plainly relate either to God's Goodness in General, as, Pf. xxxi. 19. O how great is thy Goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee? or, to God's deliverance of the Jews from Affliction, as, Mich. vii. 9. I will bear the Indignation of the Lord, because I have finned against him, until he plead my cause and execute Judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I fall behold his righteousness; or, to the conversion of the Jews to Christianity, as, Rom. xi. 25, 26. Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved. And this is a full answer to those Testimonies of Scripture which are urged upon this Occasion.
St. Austint considers this Notion as proceeding from an Excessive Compassion in the Authors of it. And Theophylałt censures Origen fas a Trifler in this point, concluding it Impossible, that those, who * Comment. in II. lxvi. De Civ. Dei. I. 21. c. 17.
# Comment. in Matth. 25.
shall be, in the General Judgment, condemned to a State of punishment for their fins, should ever be numbred amongst the Righteous and partake with them in the Joys of Heaven: And the Reason is such as can never be answer’d, that 'tis Impossible for those to Repent and be Converted, who are finally deprived of the means of Grace, and already consigned to the place of Torment; and there is no Possibility of obtaining the happiness of Heaven by any other means, or upon any other terms than Repentance and Conversion. And this leads me to the consideration of a
2d Objection, that though wicked men should be for ever excluded the Kingdom of Heaven, yet they are not Capable of subsisting for ever under that other punishment, the punishment of Sense, which is denounced and described in Holy Scripture; that they must of necessity be at last quite consumed by that fire which shall never be quenched, and so their Misery must end in their utter Extinction. Upon this, some Writers have taken a great deal of pains in
ransacking ransacking the Histories of Nature, to find out such creatures as are able to bear the extreme heat of fire so as neither to perish, nor be in any measure wasted by it. How successful they have been in these enquiries I shall not examine; nor do I lay any stress upon such discoveries and the Arguments drawn from them. For there is another confideration, from which any one, who believes a God and the Holy Scriptures, may furnish himself with a full answer to this difficulty, the consideration of God's Power.
Indeed we cannot conclude the Existence of any thing from God's Power to effect it, if his Power be confider'd separately from the Revelation of his Will. But when he hath plainly and Positively revealed any thing, the Nature of which we cannot clearly comprehend, we may and ought stedfastly to believe it upon this Principle, that though it may be Impossible with Man, it is Possible
with God. We have the very fame - reason to.rest in a Belief, that God's Power will effect whatsoever he hath decla