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tives, all representations of good and evil, may possibly be of no avail. Evil may in a manner become their good : and the unconquerable will and study of revengef may defeat all methods (should any methods be contrived) to restore them. To be brief, there are two things which must concur to produce this wonderful reformation : their own inward system, or constitution; and the system, or constitution of things without them. That is, they must be really moral agents, capable of choosing, loving, and practising virtue; and the place or state they are in must be correspondent, affording them the means of virtue, motives to it, and opportunities for it. Neither of which, as far as I can see, is likely to be the case. However, it cannot be proved from reason that this will be the case 8 ; and it seems plain from
For never can true reconcilement grow, Where wounds of deadly hate have pierc'd so deep. Miltox. 8 Since eternal life is the free gift of God, even to them who obey him, and their only claim to it is by promise, it seems an odd attempt to undertake to prove merely from reason, that they who would not obey him must be made partakers of it. “No “ man,” says Dr. Clarke, “ can say it is unreasonable, that thes, “ who by wilful and stubborn disobedience to their Almighty “ Creator and most merciful Benefactor, and by the habitual “ practice of unrepented wickedness, have, during the state of “ trial, made themselves unfit for the enjoyment of that happi“ness which God has prepared for them that love and obey him, “ should be eternally rejected, and excluded from it.” But bare deprivation of happiness cannot be all. That excellent writer goes on to prove unanswerably, that there must be some sensible and positive punishment, besides the mere negative loss of happiness. " And then as to the duration of this punishment; “no man can presume, in our present state of ignorance and “ darkness, to be able truly to judge, barely by the strength of his “ own natural reason, what in this respect is or is not consistent
scripture, that it will not. According to all the representations there given of the transactions at the day of judgment, the fate of the wicked will then be decided for ever. The divine Founder of the Christian religion may then say, what he said when he had just purchased it with his blood, Teté entai, It is finished h. Having accomplished the number of his elect, he delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father; and as no man can (nor, from the foundation of the world to the end of it, ever did) come to the Father but by himi; and his offices of mediation are now at an end, and the purposes of God by him, of bringing many sons unto gloryk, are fulfilled; the mystery, or the whole mysterious dispensation of God in Christ, (teneo hñ !,) will be finished. He and his saints take possession of the everlasting kingdom, and the door is shut. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie m. And according to the whole tenor and drift of the New Testament, there is no after-admission for such as these: no intimations dropt, from one end of it to the other, of their reestablishment, or recovery. On the contrary, it appears so evident, from all authorities sacred and primitive, that in gehenna, or hell, there is no repentance; that the greater part of those who deny the eternity of the punishment
“ with the wisdom and justice and goodness of the supreme Go“ vernor of the world; since we neither know the place, nor “ kind, nor manner, nor circumstances, nor degrees, nor all the “ ends and uses of the final punishment of the wicked.” Evidences of Religion, p. 360, &c.
" Jobn xix. 30. i Chap. xiv. 6. * Heb. ii. 10. | Rev. x. 7.
m Chap. xxii. 15. VOL. II. HORBERY.
choose to embrace the hypothesis of annihilation; contending that the damned, so far from being restored to happiness, will at last be utterly reduced to nothing. And they think that the scripture expres. sions of death, the second death, perdition, destruction, (lávatos, pbopà, oncopos, áró reia,) imply so much : which however appears to be a mistake, from what has already been observed in the second chapter: but of the point itself I shall treat more particularly in the following.
CHAP. V. Concerning the annihilation of the wicked: and
also concerning repentance in hades.
ANNIHILATION being a real effect, it must be produced by some cause. This cause must either be internal or external. If the latter, it must either be God himself, or some inferior agent or instrument. And the proof of this must be derived either from experience, or reason, or the word of God. The first of these can afford little evidence in the case, since there is no instance, or example, of annihilation in nature. In material substances we see great changes and alterations; but none of them are absolutely reduced to nothing. The modifications of matter are infinitely varied, but not one particle of matter itself is annihilated ; nor can all the art, or all the power of man, or any creature, utterly destroy it: Omnia mutantur ; nihil interit. And as bodies cannot reduce each other to nothing by their mutual actions upon one another, so neither have they any internal tendency to annihilation. They no more tend to unmake themselves, than they did to make themselves; but naturally persevere in their own present state.
If this be the case with regard to material substances, or bodies, it should hold, one would think, at least equally with reference to thinking substances, or minds. These are beings of a higher order, of a far more excellent nature, and which resemble the supreme Being himself. It cannot therefore be imagined that they should hold their existence by a more precarious tenure than the former, or be more liable to be reduced to nothing. And if the actions of material substances upon one another cannot annihilate bodies; it is not to be supposed, allowing that matter may act upon mind, that any such actiu should be able to destroy it. Created minds cannot annihilate bodies; and to suppose that any action of bodies should be able to annihilate minds, is to set the more excellent nature many degrees below the inferior, and to subject the noblest of God's creatures to that which is lowest in the scale of exist. ence. It is further to be observed, that as material substances cannot annihilate minds, so neither can these thinking substances annihilate themselves. This is plain from experience. Besides, this absurdity would follow, that if they had any such power, they would be able to elude the justice of God, when they deserved punishment, by destroying their own existence. It holds, again, equally strong at least with respect to thinking substances as to material, that they have no internal tendency to annihilation. God himself is a mind, or spirit; and therefore minds, as minds, can have no unnatural tendency to fall back into nothing. The more they resemble him, that is, the more pure and perfect minds they are, the further are they removed from the state and from the capacity of nonexistence. If there be any phenomena arising from the union of the mind with matter, which seem to betoken a tendency towards utter extinction, all true philosophers know that they do but seem to do so; and that the decays and disorders of the body only suspend or deaden