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CHAPTER V.

IS ANNIHILATION THE PUNISHMENT OF THE DAMNED?

DOCTOR C's first object was, to prove that all men will be finally happy.-If he should fail in this, his last resort was annihilation. "If the foregoing scheme," says he,* "should be found to have no truth in it, and the wicked are sent to hell, as so many incurables, the second death ought to be considered, as that which will put an end to their existence, both in soul and body, so as that they shall be no more in the creation of God." Having made the supposition, that the next is the final state of men, he says, "It is most peremptorily affirmed, that they" (the wicked) "shall reap corruption, perish, be destroyed, and die a second time; which fixes the sense of the word everlasting, when joined with the misery they shall be doomed to undergo, limiting its meaning to an age, or period of duration only." Corruption, perdition, destruction, and the second death do not limit the meaning of the word everlasting, unless it be on the supposition, that those words themselves mean annihilation. Sometimes by those words Dr. C. seems to have meant a transition from one future state of existence to another; at other times he expressly declares that they mean misery, torment. Now if those words applied to the wicked mean a transition from the next state of existence to another, they by no means certainly limit their misery. This transition may be from one state of misery to another state of misery; as Dr. C. supposed that they might pass through several future states of misery, before they should arrive at happiness. Nay, from the words used in this sense, no inference can be drawn,

* Page 282.

+ Page 288.

that they will ever arrive at a state of happiness: because a transition from one state of misery to another state of misery, is as truly a transition, as a transition from a state of misery to a state of happiness.-But if those words mean misery or torment, they certainly do not limit the future misery of the wicked; as will more fully appear presently.

99**

I do not find any proof offered by Dr. C. that the wicked will be annihilated, unless he consider the very meaning of the words destruction, death, &c. as a proof. But this proof, if it be one, was absolutely given up by himself, as he held, that those words signify not annihilation, but misery; as in the following passages; "Everlasting punishment, everlasting fire, everlasting destruction: so the words are rendered in our English bibles; but we are very obviously led to understand by them MISERY, that must be suffered for a certain period." "If men continue the servants of sin, the wages they shall receive before the gift through Christ is conferred on them, will be the second death: whereas if they become the servants of God, this gift through Christ will issue in their eternal life, without their passing through the second death." That by the second death he here meant not annihilation, but the misery of hell, is manifest, as it is to be followed with the gift of God through Christ, which is eternal life. "The going away into everlasting punishment, the being cast into the furnace of fire, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, mean the same thing in the sacred dialect, with the second death.”‡ "They may be saved without first going through the torments of hell, or as the scripture expresses it, without being hurt of the second death."§ How strange then is it, that Dr. C. should urge the literal and original meaning of the words death, destruction, &c. as an argument + Page 210.

* Page 224. 1 Page 90.

Page 337.

for annihilation, when he himself supposed that they mean not annihilation, but obviously mean misery! and that he should suppose, that they limit the sense of the word everlasting, when it is joined to the misery of the damned! As well might he have said, that the word misery limits the sense of the word everlasting, when it is joined to the misery of the damned!

Perhaps some admirers of Dr. C. may attempt to reconcile this inconsistence, by saying, he held that the words death, destruction, &c. mean and prove annihilation, on the sole supposition, that the next state is final: that on any other supposition he held that they mean misery. But this would be a vain attempt. For if those words do or may mean misery, they are no proof of annihilation, whether the next state be final or not. They are no more a proof of it, than the words misery and torment; because by his own concessions, they are at least capable of meaning misery or torment. Therefore though Dr. C's scheme of universal happiness should fail, we should from the application of the words death, destruction, &c. to the wicked, be under no necessity of supposing that they will be annihilated; everlasting destruction may mean everlasting misery.

The truth appears to be, that Dr. C. was led to adopt, as the last resort, the idea of the annihilation of the wicked, not by the obvious meaning and use of the words death and destruction in scripture; since he allows they obviously mean misery or torment; but by the preconception, that it is a certain truth, that the endless misery of any of mankind can never exist. To this preconceived opinion the scripture must some way or other be accommodated.

But let us proceed to some considerations to confirm the proposition, that annihilation is not the curse or punishment denounced against sin in the divine law.

The doctrine, that annihilation is the curse of the divine law, may be holden in two different senses, both which I conceive to be entirely opposite to the truth.— It is the sentiment of many, that annihilation is the punishment of sin threatened in the law, and is actually inflicted on those who die impenitent.-Again; it is the sentiment of some, that though annihilation will not be inflicted on any; yet it is the curse which was originally in the law denounced against sin; but that Christ hath absolutely redeemed all from it; and therefore none will suffer it.

I. It is the sentiment of many, and was the sentiment of Dr. C. provided his scheme of universal happiness do not hold; that annihilation is the punishment threatened in the law, and is actually inflicted on those who die impenitent.-Concerning which it is to be remarked;

1. That on this hypothesis, all Dr. C's arguments both from scripture and reason, to prove the salvation of all men, entirely fall to the ground; and it is nothing inconsistent with either the justice or goodness of God, that a great part of mankind should be forever cast off, and suffer an endless punishment; and not only a great part, but the greater part of the whole; as he acknowledges, that but few are saved immediately from this life.* Nor is it at all inconsistent with the design of Christ's undertaking, nor with his honour as the Saviour of mankind, that the greater part of the whole race should not be saved. All that argument therefore of Dr. C. with his declamation on the supposed absurdity, that Christ should undertake to defeat the devil and destroy his works, and

* Page 8, and 322.

† The reader will take notice, that these observations are made on the sole ground of Dr. C's concession, that but few of mankind are to be saved immediately from this life, and do not imply, that this is the real truth.

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yet really be so far baffled by him,* as still to fail of the salvation of the greater part of mankind, comes entirely to nothing. Nor must it be any more urged as an argument in this dispute, that God is willing that all men should be saved, and not willing that any should perish; or that Christ died for all men, &c. &c. At least these pro-positions must be received with the same limitations and distinctions, with which the despised orthodox, systematic divines have received them. At the same time, all those texts which speak of the restitution of all things; of God's tender mercies over all his works; of the free gift coming upon all men to justification of life; of the creature delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God; of the destruction of the last enemy, death; of all things gathered together in Christ; of all things reconciled to God by Christ; of every creature saying, blessing and honour, &c. to him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb, &c. &c. must be given up, or understood with the like limitations, as are put upon them, by the believers in endless misery.-At the same time, all Dr. C's laboured criticism on αιων, αιωνιος. and εις τους αιώνους των αιώνων, &c. must be acknowledged to be groundless and all that he hath said against vindictive punishment, and in favour of mere discipline, is nothing to the purpose.

II. The scriptural representations of the punishment of the wicked are inconsistent with the idea that it consists in annihilation. According to the scriptures the wicked depart into everlasting fire.-The smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever.-They shall weep and wail and gnash their teeth.—They have no rest day nor night.-The rich man in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment.-The damned shall dwell with everlasting burnings,-When the master of the house shall have * See page 322, 323.

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