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Christ; or the argument in favour of universal salvation, drawn from the divine goodness, does not depend at all on the atonement. To argue that goodness requires the salvation of all men now since Christ has made a sufficient atonement, implies that without the atonement no such argument could be urged. To argue from the atonement is not to argue from goodness merely, but from fact, from the gospel, from particular texts or from the general nature of the gospel. The argument is this; Christ hath made atouement for all, therefore all will be saved. But that this argument may carry conviction, it must first be made evident that the atonement did respect all mankind; also that it is the intention of God, to apply the virtue of that sufficient atonement, to the actual salvation of all. But these things can be proved from the declarations of scripture only. Now all Dr. C's arguments from scripture shall be considered in their place; but this is not their place.
The question, Whether it be consistent with divine goodness, that any of mankind be punished without end, means, either, Whether it be consistent with the greatest possible exertion or display of goodness in the Deity; or, Whether it be consistent with goodness in general, so that God is in general a good Being, and not cruel and malicious, though he do inflict endless punishment on some men. It is not an article of my faith, that in all the works of creation and providence taken together, God displays indeed goodness in general, but not the greatest possible goodness. This distinction is made, to accommodate the discourse, if possible, to the meaning of Dr. C. As he denies that God has adopted the best pos sible plan of the universe, it seems, that he must have distinguished in his own mind, between the goodness actually exerted and displayed by the Deity in the present system, and the greatest possible display of goodness.
If the former of these be intended by Dr. C. and others, all their strong and frightful declamations on this subject, come to this only, that endless punishment is not the greatest possible display of the divine goodness; or that the system of the universe, if endless punishment make a part of it, is not the wisest and best possible. But this is no more than is holden by Dr. C. and it is presumed by other advocates in general for universal salvation. Dr. C. abundantly holds, as we shall see presently, that the present system of the universe, according to his own view of it, without endless punishment, is not the wisest and best possible. It is therefore perfect absurdity in him, to object, on this ground, to endless punishment.
But it is manifest, by the vehement and pathetic exclamations of Dr. C. on this subject, that he aimed at something more than this. It is manifest that he supposed and meant to represent, that if the doctrine of endless punishment be true, God is not a good, a benevolent being, but a cruel, malicious one. He says, that the doctrine of endless punishment "gives occasion for very unworthy reflections on the Deity: That in view of that doctrine fan horror of darkness remains, that is sadly distressing to many a considerate heart.". He quotes with approbation those words from Mr. Whiston: "If the common doctrine were certainly true, the justice of God must inevitably be given up, and much more his mercy. This doctrine supposes him," [God] "to delight in cruelty." So that the question agitated by Dr. C. is really, Whether, if God inflict endless punishment on any sinner, it be not an act of cruelty and injustice, as all cruelty is injustice. But this is the very question, which has been so largely considered in several preceding chapters, and needs not to be reconsidered here. So that
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Dr. C's arguments from goodness are mere arguments from justice; and if endless punishment be reconcileable with divine justice, it is equally reconcileable with divine goodness, in the sense in which he argues from divine goodness.
If after all it be insisted on, that Dr. C. meant to consider the question, or that the question ought to be considered, in the first sense stated above, viz. Whether endless punishment be consistent with the most perfect display of goodness; although if the negative of this question were granted, Dr. C. could not consistently thence draw an argument in favour of universal salvation; yet it may be proper to consider this state of the question, and perhaps sufficient observations upon it will occur in the sequel of this chapter.
II. I am to make some general observations concerning the divine goodness, and take notice of some concessions made by Dr. C.
The goodness of God is that glorious attribute, by which he is disposed to communicate happiness to his creatures. This divine attribute is distinguished from the divine justice in this manner: the divine justice promotes the happiness of the universal system, implying the divine glory, by treating a person strictly according to his own character: the divine goodness promotes the same important object, by treating a person more favourably than is according to his own character or conduct : So that both justice and goodness may and always do, as far as they are exercised, subserve the happiness of the universal system, including the glory of the Deity, or the glory of the Deity, including the happiness of the universal system. As the glory of God, and the greatest happiness of the system of the universe, and even of the created system, mutually imply each other; whenever I mention either of them, I wish to be understood to in
clude in my meaning the other also. The declarative or the exhibited glory of God, is a most perfect and most happy created system; and a most perfect and most happy created system is the exhibited glory of God; or it is the exhibition, the manifestation of that glory; as a picture is an exhibition of the man.
That infinite goodness is in God, and is essential to his nature, is granted on all hands: God is Love. This attribute seeks the happiness of creatures, the happiness of the created system in general, and of every individual creature in particular, so far as the happiness of that individual is not inconsistent with the happiness of the system, or with happiness on the whole. But if in any case, the happiness of an individual be inconsistent with the happiness of the system, or with the happiness of other individuals, so that by bestowing happiness on the first supposed individual, the quantity of happiness on the whole shall be diminished; in this case, goodness, the divine goodness, which is perfect and infinite, will not consent to bestow happiness on that individual. Indeed to bestow happiness in such a case would be no instance of goodness, but of the want of goodness. It would argue a disposition not to increase happiness, but to diminish and destroy it.
Therefore that Dr. C. might prove, that the endless punishment of any sinner is inconsistent with the goodness of God, he should have shown, that the sum total of happiness enjoyed in the intellectual system will be greater if all be saved, than it will be if any suffer an endless punishment. To show that God by his infinite goodness will be excited to seek and to secure the greatest happiness of the system, determines nothing. This is no more than is granted by the believers in endless punishment. It is impertinent therefore to spend time on this. But the great question is, Does the
greatest happiness of the system require the final happiness of every sinner? If Dr. C. have not shown that it does, his argument from divine goodness is entirely inconclusive.
Instead of showing, that the divine goodness or the greatest happiness of the general system, requires the final happiness of every individual; Dr. C. has abundantly shown the contrary. In his book on the Benevolence of the Deity,* he expresses himself thus; "It would be injurious to the Deity to complain of him for want of goodness merely because the manifestation of it to our particular system, considered singly and apart from the rest, is not so great as we may imagine it could be.— No more happiness is required for our system, even from infinitely perfect benevolence, than is proper for a part of some great whole.—We ought not to consider the displays of divine benevolence, as they affect individual beings only, but as they relate to the particular system of which they are parts.-The divine benevolence is to be estimated from its amount to this whole, and not its constituent parts separately considered.-The only fair way of judging of the divine benevolence with respect to our world, is to consider it not as displayed to separate individuals, but to the whole system, and to these as its constituent parts."—"No more good is to be expected from the Deity with respect to any species of beings, or any individuals in these species, than is reasonably consistent with the good of the whole of which they are parts."-" It is true, that destruction of life will follow, if some animals are food to others. But it may be true also, that there would not have been so much life, and consequently happiness, in the creation, had it not been for this expedient."-" As we are only one of the numerous orders which constitute a general system, this quite alters the * Page 56, &c. † Page 58. + Page 84. Page 107.