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not saved. For salvation consists in deliverance from the curse of the law. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law :" and all who are saved, are saved by the redemption of Christ, which is a redemption from the curse of the law. But since all men are not saved from that punishment which a great part actually suffer in hell; it is absurd to say, that that punishment is the curse of the law from which Christ hath redeemed and will save all men.
I mean not now to enter into any dispute concerning the nature of Christ's redemption. It is sufficient for my present purpose to take for granted no more, than is granted by all christians, that all who are saved, are saved some how by and through Christ. This is abundantly asserted in the various works of Dr. C. But neither has he pretended nor will any other advocate for universal salvation pretend, that the punishment which is actually to be suffered by a great part of mankind in hell, is the curse of the law from which Christ is to save all men: because by the very terms a great part of mankind are actually to suffer it.
Beside; if that be the curse of the law; it is all the punishment to which the sinner is justly liable. He having suffered that, cannot consistently with justice be made to suffer any further punishment; and if after that he be exempted from further punishment, he is exempted from it, not in the way of grace, forgiveness or pardon; but entirely on the footing of justice and of his own personal right. It is to be noticed however, that the gospel is ignorant of any salvation of sinners, except in the way of grace and forgiveness.
If the punishment actually to be suffered in hell be the curse of the law, then the damned in their deliverance out of hell, and exemption from further punishment, experience no salvation at all. They are delivered from
nothing to which they are or ever were exposed. We might as well say, that the most innocent citizen in the state is saved from the gallows, when he hath neither committed any crime, nor is accused of any.-The very idea of salvation is deliverance from the curse of the law. But if the pains of hell for ages of ages be the curse of the law, they who suffer those pains, are not saved; they are damned to the highest possible degree consistent with law and justice; which is all the damnation for which any man can argue.
On the whole, I conclude, that the idea, that the curse of the law consists in the punishment, which the damned are actually to suffer in hell, is totally irreconcileable with the salvation of all men.
In the next place we are to inquire, whether the curse of the law consist in some temporary punishment, which is of greater duration than that which is supposed to belong to the punishment which the damned shall actually suffer. If the curse of the law be a temporary punishment of greater duration than that which is actually to be suffered by the damned; that more lasting temporary punishment is doubtless threatened in the law. Doubtless the curse of the law is the curse threatened in the law : the very terms imply this. Now, where in all the law, or in all the scripture, is threatened any punishment of greater duration, than that which in the sacred dialect is said to be everlasting, forever, forever and ever, &c.? But all these expressions are on all hands allowed to be applied in scripture to the punishment which the damned shall actually suffer. Unless therefore some longer punishment can be found threatened in scripture, than that which is said to be forever and ever, &c. it cannot be pretended, that the curse of the law is a temporary punishment of greater duration, than that which is actually to be suffered by the damned. But no punishment of
greater duration, whether temporary or endless, than that which the damned are constantly declared to suffer, can be pointed out from any part of scripture. Therefore the curse of the law is not a temporary punishment of greater duration, than that which is to be suffered by the damned.
Now, if this train of reasoning be just, if the curse of the divine law be neither annihilation, nor (on the supposition of the salvation of all men) that misery which the damned are actually to suffer; nor a temporary misery of greater duration; the consequence is inevitable, that it is endless misery. No other hypothesis seems to be conceivable. The law certainly threatens some punishment. This punishment must consist either in annihilation, or in something else. If it consist in something else, that something must be either temporary or endless misery. If it he temporary misery, it must be either a misery of shorter duration than that which is to be suffered by the damned; or that very misery which is to be suffered by the damned; or a temporary misery of longer duration. That the curse of the law is a misery of shorter duration than that which is to be suffered by the damned, no man will pretend; as this would imply that the damned will suffer a greater punishment than was ever threatened, and than is just. And that the curse of the law is neither the very misery to be suffered by the damned, nor a temporary misery of longer duration, I have endeavoured to prove, and submit the proof to the candid and judicious. If the proof shall be found to be good, we are driven to the conclusion, that the curse of the divine law is endless misery.
If then it be an established point, that endless misery is the curse of the divine law; the inference is immediate and necessary, that the endless misery of the sinner is a just punishment of his sin. It is impossible that a
God of inviolable and infinite justice should threaten in his law an unjust punishment. A law containing such a threatening, is an unjust law; and an unjust law can never be enacted by a legislator of perfect justice.-It is in vain to say, that God will never execute the law, To make an unjust law, is as really irreconcileable with justice, as to execute it. What should we think of a human prince who should enact a law, that whoever should walk across his neighbour's ground without his consent, should die on the gallows. I presume no man would pretend, that the forbearance of the prince to execute the law, would save his character from abhorrence and contempt.
Again; If all men shall be saved, they will be saved from something, from some punishment. That punishment must be either temporary or endless. If it be temporary, it must be either that punishment, which is to be endured by the damned, or a longer temporary punishment. But for reasons already given, it can be neither of these. Therefore it must be an endless punishment. But if all men be saved from an endless punishment, they were exposed to an endless punishment, and exposed to it by a divine constitution, and therefore an endless punishment is just; otherwise it could not have been appointed by God.
If all men shall be saved, they are redeemed by Christ, and they are redeemed by him from some punishment. That punishment is either temporary or endless. If it be temporary, it is either the punishment which the damned shall actually suffer, or a longer temporary punishment. But for reasons already given it is neither of these. Therefore, it is an endless punishment. Therefore they were exposed to an endless punishment, and that punishment is just. Surely no Christian will pretend, that our Lord Jesus Christ came to redeem and
save us from a punishment to which we never were exposed, and which the very justice of God would never permit him to inflict.
If endless punishment be unjust, it seems that Christ came to save mankind from an unjust punishment; a punishment, to which they were not justly liable, and which could not be inflicted on them consistently with justice. But what an idea does this give us of God? It implies, that he had made an unjust law, denouncing an unjust penalty; that having made this law, he was determined to execute it, till Christ came and prevented him.
If all men shall be saved, and shall be saved in the way of grace, favour, pardon or forgiveness; then it would be just, that they should not be saved. If their deliverance imply grace and forgiveness, then it would be just, that they should not be delivered, and that they should suffer that punishment from which they are delivered. But for reasons already given, if all men shall be saved, they shall be saved from an endless punishment. And to be saved from an endless punishment not on the footing of justice, but by mere grace and forgiveness, implies, that the infliction of endless punishment would be just. Surely to liberate a person from an unjust punishment, is no act of forgiveness.
All the ascriptions of praise, and all hymns of thanksgiving sung by the saved on account of their salvation, prove, that it would have been just, that they should not be saved. If God in delivering all men from endless punishment, be worthy of praise and thanksgiving, it would have been just, if he had not delivered them from it. A mere act of justice, which the object of it may demand on the footing of his personal right, does not infer, an obligation to any great praise or thanksgiving. No man conceives himself bound very much to praise