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it were not just, to inflict an endless punishment for the sins committed in this life only, which I by no means allow; yet there would be no injustice in suffering the sinner to go on in sin, and to punish him continually and without end as he sins.
That it was no injustice in God, to leave man at first to fall into sin, will doubtless be granted by all, because it is an evident fact. Now if God may without injury permit a creature to fall into sin to-day, and punish him for it, why may he not do the same to-morrow, and so on through every day or period of his existence. And if it be just to leave a sinner to endless sin, it is doubtless just to inflict on him endless punishment for that endless sin. Therefore the endless sin and punishment of a creature is no more inconsistent with divine justice, than the existence of sin and punishment in any instance, and for ever so short a duration. If it be not consistent with justice, that a sinner be left by God to endless impenitence; then the leading of a sinner to repentance is an act of mere justice, the payment of a debt, and not an act of grace, which is utterly irreconcileable with the scriptures. If it be not consistent with justice to leave a sinner to final impenitence, then God is bound in justice, some time or other to lead every sinner to repentance. But when is this time? How long may God, without injury, permit the sinner to continue impenitent? If he may for one day, why not for two? for four? for eight, &c. to eternity ?-Though the damned should, by their sufferings, fully satisfy for all their past sins; yet God would be no more obliged in justice, to lead them to repentance, or to preserve them from sin in future, than he was obliged to preserve them from sin at the time they first fell into it and consequently he would not be obliged in justice to release them from punishment. I take it to be abundantly conceded by Dr. C.
that the damned may justly be punished till they repent. Therefore if they never repent they may justly be punished without end.
Now, that our advocate for universal salvation, may establish his favourite proposition, that endless punishment is not reconcileable with divine justice; he must show, that it is not consistent with divine justice, to leave a sinner to proceed without end in his own chosen course of sin, and to punish him daily for his daily sins. Till he shall have done this, it will be in vain for him to plead, that those who die in impenitence, will all finally be saved, because endless punishment is not reconcileable with the justice of God.
If after all, any man will insist, that endless punishment is not reconcileable with divine justice? he ought fairly to answer the preceding reasoning, and to show that the curse of the divine law from which Christ hath redeemed us, is either annihilation, or that misery which the damned are actually to suffer; or a longer temporary misery. He ought to show further, that Christ came to deliver all men from some other punishment, than that which is endless; or that it is reconcileable with the character of God to refuse to release man from an unjust punishment, without the mediation of his son: that deliverance from unjust punishment is an act of free grace, pardon, or forgiveness that deliverance from an unjust punishment is a proper ground of extatic and everlasting praise and thanksgiving to God. That the very mission of Christ, the institution of the gospel and of any means necessary to the deliverance of sinners from endless punishment, can be considered as gracious gifts and institutions, on any other supposition than that endless punishment is just. He ought also to show, of what advantage the mediation of Christ is to those who suffer in hell for ages of ages; and how the hope and
the promises of the gospel, and how praying for the salvation of all men, can be reconciled with the idea, that endless punishment is unjust, and finally, that it is unjust, that God should leave a sinner, to perpetual sin, and to punish him perpetually for that sin.
It seems to be but an act of justice to Dr. C. to repeat here, what I noticed before, that he himself, whether consistently or not, does acknowledge the justice of endless punishment: as in these words: "If the next state is a state of punishment, not intended for the cure of the patients themselves, but to satisfy the justice of God, and give warning to others, 'tis impossible all men should be finally saved."* This is a plain declaration, that a state, in which all salvation, and all possibility of salvation, are excluded, no more than satisfies justice, or is no more than just.-The same is confessed in those many passages of this and the other works of Dr. C. wherein he has positively asserted, that man cannot be "justified on the foot of mere law," of "rigid law," &c. He would not deny, that the law of God is just, perfectly just. If therefore we cannot be justified on the foot of the divine law, we must on that foot be finally condemned, and consequently must be finally condemned on the foot of justice. Therefore the final or endless condemnation of the wicked is entirely just. The just law of God himself condemns them: and if that law, 66 mere law," " rigid law," be executed, they must be condemned to an endless punishment, and cannot possibly be justified or saved. So long therefore as the divine law is just, so long, according to the concession of Dr. C. the endless condemnation and misery of the wicked are just.-There seems to be no way to avoid this consequence, but by holding that the curse of the law, and the punishment which "satisfies justice," are annihilation, with respect * Page 11. Page 34, 36, 43, &c.
to which sentiment, I must refer the reader back to Chap. v. But how inconsistent it is, to hold, that endless punishment, whether consisting in annihilation, or misery, is no more than satisfactory to justice; and at the same time to hold, that the wicked in temporary pains. in hell, suffer according to their deserts, and endure the_ whole penalty of the law, cannot escape the notice of any attentive reader. Or will it be said, that the Docfor held a commutation of punishment? that endless annihilation is commuted for temporary misery? If so, then temporary misery is the curse of the divine law now inflicted in commutation for endless annihilation; and our author was entirely mistaken in a doctrine abundantly taught in all his writings, that, "by law," "mere law," "rigid law," no man can be justified or saved.
As a corollary from the whole of the preceding reasoning concerning the justice of endless punishment, may I not safely assert, what was most grievous to Dr. C. and is so to all other advocates for universal salvation; that SIN IS AN INFINITE EVIL? If every sinner do, on ac count of sin, deserve an endless punishment, sin is an infinite evil that is all that is meant by the infinite evil of sin. Therefore if any man deny the infinite evil of sin, let him prove, that it does not deserve an endless punishment, and let him answer the preceding reasoning to evince the justice of endless punishment.*
Perhaps some may object, that supposing sin do deserve an endless punishment, when it is not repented of; yet how can it deserve so great a punishment, when it
In this chapter it was often more convenient for me, on several accounts, to use the expression endless punishment, than that of endless misery. Still the reader will perceive, that the latter is my meaning. The reasons had been given in the preceding chapter, why the endless punishment of the damped cannot be annihilation.
is renounced in real repentance.-But if repentance make atonement for sin; if it satisfy the broken law of God; if it repair the damage done to society by sin; or if it so far atone, that the good of the universe, comprehending the glory of the Deity, though it before required, that sin should be punished with endless punishment, now requires that it be punished with a temporary punishment only: then as repentance is a satisfaction made by the sinner himself, and makes a part of his personal character, sin repented of, does indeed not deserve endless punishment, otherwise it does. And if repentance do make the satisfaction for sin which has been described, then the satisfaction or atonement of Christ is in vain, since repentance would have answered the purpose without the death and atonement of Christ. There was no need that sinners be redeemed by Christ, or as Dr. C. says, that he should be "the person upon whose account," " and that "his obedience and death should be the ground or reason upon which happiness should be attainable by any of the race of Adam." They might have redeemed themselves, and by repentance have made a full satisfaction or atonement for their own sins, and thus might have been saved on their own account, and on the ground or reason of their repentance.—But if on the other hand it be granted, that repentance does not make atonement or satisfaction for sin, and it be just to punish a sinner without end, provided he do not repent; it is just to inflict the same punishment, though he do repent.
This chapter shall be closed with a remark on a passage before quoted from Dr. C.* in which he says, that the difference in the degree of the pain of the damned will scarce be thought worthy to be brought into the account, when the circumstance of endless duration, is