Imágenes de páginas

endless punishment is just, it follows of course that it is consistent with the general good, and which is the same thing, with the divine goodness, and is even required by divine goodness on the supposition on which we now proceed, that no atonement is made for sin. The very idea of a just punishment of any crime is a punishment which in view of the crime only, is requisite to repair the damage done to the system by that crime. Any further punishment than thisis unjust, and any punishment short of this, falls short of the demand of justice. At the same time that this is demanded by justice, it is demanded by the general good too: because by the definition of a just punishment, it is neccessary to the general good; neccessary to secure it, or to repair the damage done to it, by the crime punished. So that a just punishment of any crime is not only consistent with the general good, but is absolutely required by it, provided other measures equivalent to this punishment be not taken to repair the damage done by sin, or, which is the same, provided an atonement be not made. And if the endless punishment, of sin be just; it is of course, on the proviso just made, perfectly consisfent with the general good of the universe, and absolutely required by it, and equally required by the goodness of God. And to say that though it be just, it is not reconcileable with the divine goodness, is the samé as to say, that though it be just, it is not reconcileable with justice.

Objection: Divine goodness does not admit of the endless punishment of the apostle Paul; yet his endless punishment would be just.-Answer: Divine goodness, or the general good of the universe, considering the sins or the personal character of Paul by itself, does both admit and require his endless punishment. But consid ering the atonement of Christ, which, as I have repeat

edly observed, comes not into consideration in the present argument, it does not indeed admit of it.

I beg leave to ask the advocates for universal salvation, whether if Christ had not made atonement, it would have been consistent with the general good of the universe, that sinners be punished without end. If they answer in the affirmative, then endless punishment is in itself reconcileable not with justice only, but with goodness too, as goodness always acquiesces in that which is consistent with the general good. For if only in consequence of the atonement, endless punishment be inconsistent with the divine goodness, it becomes inconsistent with it, not on account of any thing in the endless punishment of sin, or in the divine goodness simply; but wholly on account of something external to them both: and therefore that external something being left out of the account, there is no inconsistency between the endless punishment of sin and the divine goodness in themselves considered. But that they are in themselves inconsistent is implied in Dr. C's argument from divine goodness; and that they are not in themselves inconsistent is all for which I am now pleading.

If the snswer to the question just proposed be, that it would not be consistent with the general good, that a sinner be punished without end, even if Christ had not made atonement; it follows, that such punishment is no just; as the very definition of a just punishment is, one which in view of the sinner's personal character only is necessary to the general good.-Or if this be not a proper definition of a just punishment, let a better be given. Any punishment is just, or is deserved, for no other reason, than that the criminal viewed in himself owes it to the public, or the general good requires it.

5. If divine goodness require, that every sinner be, on his mere repentance, exempted from punishment, it

will follow, that sin is no moral evil.-If divine goodness require that every sinner be, on his mere repentance, exempted from punishment, the general good of the universe requires the same. If the general good do require it, then either the sinner hath in that action of which he repents, done nothing by which the general good hath been impaired; or that impairment is repaired by his repentance. For if he have impaired the general good, and not afterward repaired it, then by the very terms it requires reparation. And this which the general good in these cases requires of the sinner for the reparation of the general good, is his punishment, and not his exemption from punishment. But if the sinner have done nothing which requires that reparation be made to the general good, then he hath committed nothing which hath impaired the general good: or, which is the same, he hath committed no moral evil. For moral evil is a voluntary act impairing the general good consisting in the glory of God and the happiness of the created system.-Or if it be said, that the repentance of the sinner repairs the general good, and prevents the ill effects of his sin; I answer, repentance is no punishment, nor any reparation of damage to the universe by a past action. It is a mere cessation from sin and a sorrow for it. A man who has committed murder, makes by repentance no reparation for the damage which is thereby done to society, or to the universe. So that if ever any damage were done to the universe by sin, and if therefore the public good required that reparation be made by the punishment of the sinner, it still requires the same, and therefore does not require his exemption from punishment. Beside; the false and absurd consequences necessarily following from the principle that

* See these considered at large in Chap. ii.

[ocr errors]

the penitent deserves no punishment, which is the same with this, that the general good does not require that the penitent, viewed in his own character merely, be punished; plainly point out the falsity and absurdity of the principle itself. Particularly this consequence, that on that supposition the penitent néver is nor can be forgiven, as he makes by his repentance full satisfaction in his own person, and thus answers the demand of justice or of the general good.-But if it be true, that repentance does not repair the damage done by sin to the universe; and if as is now asserted, the general good do require that the penitent sinner, without regard to the atonement of Christ, be exempted from punishment; it required the same before he repented; consequently his sin never did impair the good of the universe, and therefore is no moral evil.

Objection 1. The fourth argument seems to imply, that sin consists in damage actually done to the universe; whereas there are many sins, in which no real damage is actually done. As if a man stab another with a design to murder him, and open an abscess, whereby the man is benefitted instead of murdered; and in all acts of malice, which are not executed, no damage is actually done.

Answer. Taking the word damage in a large sense, to mean, not merely loss of property, as it is sometimes taken, but misery, calamity or natural evil; it may be granted, that sin does consist in voluntarily doing damage to the universe. It is a misery, a calamity, or a natural evil to any man, to be the object of the malice of any other person, though his malice be never executed. It exposes him to the execution of that malice: it renders him unsafe and to be unsafe is a calamity; especially to be the object of the malice of another to such a degree, that the malicious man attempts the life of the

object of his malice.


In this case the man who is the object of malice is very unsafe indeed. And if but one person be in a calamitous situation, so far at least the public good is impaired, or the universe is damaged. Besides, if that one act impairing the public good, be left unpunished, and no proper restraint by the punishment of the act, be laid upon the man himself and upon others, the flood-gate is opened to innumerable more acts of the same, or a like kind. This surely is a further calamity to the universe. So that every sinful volition, though it fail of its object in the attempt, or though it be not attempted to be executed in overt act, is a real calamity or damage to the universe.

Objection 2. The preceding reasoning must needs be fallacious, as it implies, that goodness or grace is never exercised in any case, wherein punishment is deserved;, that whatever is admitted by justice, is required by goodness; and that if sin be a moral evil and deserve punishment, it cannot consistently with the general good be forgiven.

Answer. This is not true. The reasoning above does not imply, but that there may be, consistently with the general good, the forgiveness of some sinners, Nor does it imply, but that the general good may require the forgiveness of some sinners; as undoubtedly it does require the forgiveness of all who repent and believe in Christ, and so become interested in him according to the Gospel. Nor does this reasoning imply, but that some sinners may obtain forgiveness on some other account than the merits of Christ: though I believe it may be clearly shown from scripture, that forgiveness can be obtained on no other account. But this reasoning does assert, that if all penitents as such, or merely because they are penitents, or on account of their own repentance and reformation, be required by divine goodness to

« AnteriorContinuar »