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it was to no purpose that Dr.C.quoted so many promises and scriptural declarations to prove the salvation of all men.
On the same hypothesis concerning liberty, even though all men were delivered from hell and admitted to heaven, there would be no certainty that they would continue there. They would be constantly liable to sin anew, and bring on themselves a second damnation. To deny this, would be, to allow that their faculties might consistently with moral agency, be certainly and fixedly inclined to "exercise themselves in one way only."
That the inhabitants of heaven are liable to sin and damnation, is actually allowed by honest Bishop Newton. "This life is indeed a state of trial,* but not a trial to fix our fate forever, without any possibility of changing for better or for worse, in the world to come. For if the righteous can be but righteous, and the wicked can be but wicked, and cannot act otherwise; there is an utter end of all freedom of will and morality of action. Their virtue ceases to be virtue, and their sin is no longer sin.""The scripture fassures us, that in the next life men will be made (Luke xx. 36,) equal unto the angels; but angels, we know, have apostatized and fallen; and why may not men, even when made equal unto the angels?—If righteousness‡ should degenerate and become wickedness; or if wickedness should amend and become righteousness; the tables would then be turned, and with the change of their nature, their state and condition would be changed too." How then is it certain that all men will be finally holy and happy? It neither is, nor can possibly be certain; because certainty in this case would imply that "the righteous can be but righteous ;" and so "there would be an utter end of all freedom of will and morality of action."
What then becomes of the boasted evidence of the See Newton's works, vol. vi. p. 361. † Page 362. ‡ Page 360.
final salvation of all men? There is no certain evidence of it. There is not, nor can be, on this scheme of liberty, any certain evidence but that all men will finally apostatize, and of course be doomed to misery correspondent to their wickedness.
It is true, the Bishop abundantly contradicts this sentiment concerning liberty, and holds that the damned must repent, and cannot but repent, as in the following passages; "It is impossible for any creature to live in eternal torments-If nothing else yet his own sensations and feelings must bring him one time or other, to an ac knowledgment of his sin and of his duty."*" The fire must in time purge away and consume the dross and leave only the gold behind. No creature can be so totally depraved and abandoned, as to hold out under the most exquisite tortures, obstinate and obdurate to all eternity. -In short, if they have any sense or feeling, any reason or understanding, any choice or free-will, they must one time or other, sooner or later, be brought to repentance."t "Tortures upon tortures, tortures without end, no creatures of the least sense or feeling can support; but must all be brought to submission at last and they had much better make a virtue of necessity"‡-Virtue then is consistent with necessity. How is this idea consistent with what has been before quoted from this same author? But inconsistence and self contradiction relieve no difficulty.
From the same hypothesis it follows that God himself does not and cannot possibly govern mankind with certainty; that there is no foundation to pray for any event which depends on the volitions of our own minds, or those of other men; that there is no ground for confidence in the divine providence; and that it is impossible that any future free actions of men, or any events depending on those actions, should be certainly foretold, or
*Page 362. + Page 364.
+ Page 366.
even foreknown by God himself; because what is absolutely uncertain, cannot be certainly known, and what is certainly known is certainly fixed and determined. But it is not consistent with my design to enlarge on the endless absurdities of this scheme of human liberty, absurdities from which, though long since pointed out to belong to that scheme, the ablest advocates for it, have not been able, and it is presumed never will be able, to clear it.
A REPLY TO DR. C'S ANSWER TO THE ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT, DRAWN FROM THOSE TEXTS, WHICH DECLARE THE PUNISHMENT OF THE DAMNED TO BE EVERLASTING, FOREVER, FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE FIRE OF HELL TO BE UNQUENCHABLE.
DOCTOR C. says,* that the misery of the damned is said to be eternal or everlasting, in five texts only in all the New Testament. Whatever was intended by this ambiguous proposition, the fact doubtless is, that many of his readers have been grossly deceived by it, as they have been led to believe, that the doctrine of endless punishment is apparently taught, in no more than five texts in all the New Testament; or that no more than five texts can be produced, the words of which seem to import an endless punishment. Whereas, all that Dr. C. or any man can pretend is, that the punishment of the damned is in five texts only, in the New Testament, asserted to be eternal, by the use of the adjective alavios, commonly translated eternal or everlasting. It cannot be pretended, but that the texts in which the punishment of the damned * Page 258.
is in some manner or other declared to be eternal, and in words as determinate, as the adjective, avios, eternal, far exceed the number five. The five texts now referred to, do not comprise any of those, in which the damned are said to be punished forever, forever and ever; to be punished by a worm that dieth not, and a fire that is not quenched; to be confined by an impassable gulf; to be shut out from the kingdom of heaven; not to see life, &c. &c. &c.
Now what follows from this circumstance, that the punishment of the damned is in five texts only, in the New-Testament, declared to be eternal, by the application of the Greek adjective, alavios? It may still be declared to be eternal, by other words equally determinate, in above five hundred texts.
Or if there were no other texts, expressing in other words, endless punishment; are not five divine asseverations of any truth, sufficient to bind our faith? If five be not sufficient for this end, neither are five thousand.
Besides; all that Dr. C. says on this head, may be justly retorted: and if his observations in page 259, 260, be of any force to show, that the doctrine of endless punishment is not taught in the scriptures; just as forcibly may it be proved, that the damned will not be punished for an age. Supposing, as Dr. C. does, that the words ala, alavios, &c. do not mean an endless duration, but the duration of an age; I might say, "The misery of the wicked is said to be for an age, in only five texts, in all the New Testament: Upon which I cannot help making a pause to express my surprize to find the sacred writers so very sparing in the use of this word age, as referring to future torments. It is used but three times by Matthew; but once by Mark; but once by Paul; and not once by the other writers of the New Testament. All which is very extraordinary, if it be a doctrine of Chris
tianity, that the wicked are to be punished for an age.— And the omissions of the sacred writers upon this head, are a strong presumptive argument, that they knew nothing of this doctrine, which has been so vehemently pleaded for in these latter days," by Dr. C. and some others. Therefore, whenever it shall be proved, that notwithstanding the rare use of the word with a reference to the punishment of the wicked, that punishment will really last for an age; it is presumed, that it can be proved from the same topics, that it will last without end. If a word, signifying an age, applied five times to future punishment, prove that punishment to continue for an age; why will not a word signifying an endless duration, applied five times to that punishment, prove it to be without end? Nothing therefore can be concluded from the number of times, alwvios, eternal, is applied to future punishment. The whole question, in this state of it, depends on the proper meaning of the word; not at all on the frequency of its use.
Dr. C. says,* *That day and alaves may signify a limited duration;" and that "from this remark it follows, that the preceding evidence in favour of universal salvation, remains strong and valid." It is acknowledged, that if those words may signify, and all things considered, do as probably signify, a limited, as an unlimited duration, when applied to the punishment of the wicked; nothing either for or against endless punishment, can be concluded from the use of those words. It is also, on the same suppositions, acknowledged, that by that application of those words, the evidence which Dr. C. has exhibited in favour of the salvation of all men, is not at all impaired. But it is not granted, that those words, when applied to the punishment of the wicked, do as probably signify a limited as unlimited duration. Nor is it granted that Dr. * Page 260.