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case, making those capacities only an evidence of wise and reasonable benevolence, which are fitted for a particular part sustaining such a place in the constitution of this whole."*" I proceed to show wherein the unhappiness that is connected in nature, or by positive infliction of the Deity, with the misuse of moral powers, is subservient to the general good of the rational creation, which is hereby more effectually promoted, than it would have been, if free agents might have acted wrong with impunity." For if they" [future punishments] "are considered-under the notion of a needful moral mean intended to promote, upon the whole, more good in the intelligent creation, than might otherwise be reasonably expected; they are so far from being the effect of ill will, that they really spring from benevolence, and are a part of it."
By these quotations it appears with sufficient clearness, that it was Dr. C's opinion, that there are defects, miseries and punishments of individual creatures, which are consistent with the good of the system, and are therefore consistent with the divine goodness; and that the divine goodness does not seek the happiness of any individual any further, than the happiness of that individual is subservient to the happiness of the system, or to the increase of happiness on the whole. Therefore Dr. C. supposes the miseries of men in this life, and even the punishments of the future world, are not inconsistent with the divine goodness, because they are subservient to the good of the system.-Now the advocates for endless punishment believe the same concerning the endless punishment of those who die impenitent: and for him to suppose without proof, that this punishment is not consistent with the greatest good and happiness of the system, is but begging the question.
* Page 237. + Page 242.
What is the absurdity of supposing, that the endless punishment of some sinners may be subservient to the good of the system? Why may not the general good be promoted, as well by endless misery, as by the miseries of this life? And why may we not be allowed to account for endless misery in the same way, that Dr. C. accounts for the miseries of this life, or for the temporary misery which he allows to be in hell? It is now supposed to have been proved, that endless punishment is just. If then the general good may be promoted by the tortures of the stone endured for a year, by a man who deserves them, why may not the general good be promoted by the same tortures, continued without end, provided the man deserves such a continuance of them? If we were to judge a priori, we should probably decide against misery in either case. But fact shows that temporary miseries are consistent with the goodness of God, or with the general good: and why may not endless misery be so too, provided it be just?
If it be asserted, that the endless punishment of a sinner who deserves such punishment, is so great an evil, that it cannot be compensated by any good, which can arise from it to the system; I wish to have a reason given for this assertion. It is granted that the good accruing to the system overbalances the temporary miseries of sinners both here and hereafter. And is the endless misery of an individual, though justly deserved, so great an evil, that it cannot be overbalanced by any endless good, which may thence accrue to the system? Endless misery is doubtless and infinite evil: so is the endless good thence arising, an infinite good.
Nor does it appear, but that all the good ends, which are answered by the temporary punishment of the damned, may be continued to be answered by their continual and endless punishment, if it be just. God may continue
to display his justice, his holiness, his hatred of sin, his love of righteousness, and of the general good, by opposing and punishing those who are obstinately set in the practice of sin, and in the opposition of righteousness, and of the general good. In the same way he may establish his authority, manifest the evil of sin, restrain others from it, and by a contrast of the circumstances of the saved and damned, increase the gratitude and happiness of the former, as well as increase their happiness by the view of the divine holiness, and regard to the general good, manifested in the punishment of the obstinate enemies of holiness and of the general good; and by a view of divine grace in their own salvation, and the salvation of all who shall be saved. These are the principal public ends to be answered by temporary vindictive punishment, on supposition that future punishment is temporary; and if any other good end to the universe shall be answered by it, in the opinion of those who believe it, let it be mentioned, that by a thorough inquiry we may see whether the same good end may not be answered by continual and endless punishment.
Another question concerning the divine goodness proper to be considered here, is, Whether it secure and make certain the final happiness of every man; or whether it be satisfied with this, that opportunity and means are afforded to every man to obtain happiness, if he will seize the opportunity and use the means.-Concerning this also, Dr. C. hath sufficiently expressed his sentiments; as in the following passages; * We must not judge of the benevolence of the Deity merely from the actual good we see produced, but should likewise take into consideration the tendency of those general laws conformably to which it is produced. Because the tendency *Benevolence of the Deity, page 60.
of those laws may be obstructed, and less good actually take place, than they were naturally fitted to produce. In which case, it is no argument of want of goodness in the Deity, that no more good was communicated; though it may be of folly in the creatures."*" It is impossible we should judge fairly of the Creator's benevolence, from a view only of our world, under its present actual enjoyments. But if we would form right sentiments of it, we must consider the tendency of the divine scheme of operation, and what the state of the world would have been, if the rational and moral beings in it had acted up to the laws of their nature and given them full scope for the production of good."-" All the good suitable for such a system as this, is apparently the tendency of nature and the divine administration, and it actually prevails so far as this tendency is not perverted by creatures themselves, for which he" [God]" is not answerable." The Doctor expresses himself to the same purport in many other passages of the same book. ·
It is manifest, that in these passages, Dr. C. esteems it a sufficient vindication of the divine goodness, that God hath established good laws, hath benevolently constituted the nature of things and hath given opportunity to men to secure to themselves the enjoyment of good: and that the divine goodness does not imply that every individual creature shall actually enjoy complete good or happiness. If these things be true, then no argument from the divine goodness can prove, that every individual of mankind will be finally happy: the divine goodness though complete and infinite does not secure actual happiness to every individual: it secures the opportunity and means only of happiness or it secures such a divine scheme as has a tendency to the happiness of all, and would actually prevail to the communication of happi
* Benevolence of the Deity, page 69. † Ibid. page 73.
ness to all, if it were not perverted by creatures themselves, for which perversion God is not answerable.
Now that such a divine scheme as this is actually adopted, is undoubted truth, and may be granted by every advocate for endless punishment. Therefore on the same ground on which Dr. C. vindicates the goodness of God, from the objections which arise from present calamities, and from future temporary punishment; may the same goodness be vindicated from the objections which are raised from endless punishment. In the former case it is pleaded, that God is infinitely good, though creatures suffer calamities here and deserved punishment hereafter, because he has given them opportunity to obtain happiness, and has adopted a scheme of operation which has a tendency to good. Just so God is infinitely good, though some men suffer deserved endless punishment; because he has given mankind opportunity to obtain eternal life and salvation, and has adopted a scheme of providence and of grace, which will actually prevail to the final salvation of all, if it be not neglected or perverted by men themselves; for which neglect or perversion God is not answerable.
It is also conceded by Dr. C.* that "none of the sons of Adam, by the mere exercise of their natural powers, ever yet attained to a perfect knowledge of this rule," [the rule of man's duty, and of God's conduct in rewarding and punishing.] "Most certainly they are unable, after all their reasonings, to say, what punishment as to kind, or degree, or duration, would be their due, in case of sin." This is plainly to give up all arguments against endless punishment, drawn from the goodness of God, or from any other divine perfection. For if "most certainly after all our reasonings" from the divine perfections as well as from other topics of reason, we be "un*Twelve Sermons, page 40.