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UNIVERSAL SALVATION EXAMINED, &c.
IN WHICH THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF DR. CHAUNCY'S SYSTEM CONCERNING FUTURE PUNISHMENT ARE POINTED OUT AND COMPARED WITH EACH OTHER.
In which the fundamental principles, &c. are pointed out, &c. BEFORE we enter into the consideration of the particular arguments of Dr. Chauncy, it may be proper to give some account of the fundamental principles of his system.
Beside the doctrine of the salvation of all men, to establish which is the design of his whole book; there are several other doctrines, which may be considered as fundamental to his system. He does not deny all future punishment of the wicked; but allows that they will be punished according to their demerits, or according to strict justice. Thus he allows that " many men will be miserable in the next state of existence, in proportion to the moral depravity they have contracted in this. There is no room for debate here."*"They must be unavoidably miserable in proportion to the number and greatness of their vices."† "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through JESUS CHRIST our LORD: i. e. if men continue the servants of sin, the * Page 9. + P. 10.
wages they shall receive, before the gift through CHRIST is conferred on them, will be the second death."* If some men suffer that punishment which is the wages of sin, they doubtless suffer all which they deserve. No man deserves more than his wages. "In the collective sense, they will be tormented for ages of ages; though some of them only should be tormented through the whole of that period; the rest variously as "to time, in proportion to their deserts." "There shall be a difference in the punishment of wicked men, according to the difference there has been in the nature and number of their evil deeds." He speaks of the wicked as liable "to positive torments awfully great in degree, and long in continuance, in proportion to the number and greatness of their crimes." "The pardonableness of all other sins and blasphemies," [except that against the HOLY GHOST] "lies in this, its being possible for men, to escape the torments of hell, though they should have been guilty of those sins. Accordingly the unpardonableness of the blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST, must consist in the reverse of the pardonableness of other sins-in the impossibility of their escaping the torments of hell, who are chargeable with this sin.-This now being the meaning of the unpardonableness of blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST, it is quite easy to perceive, that even these blasphemers, notwithstanding the unpardonableness of the sin they have committed, may finally be savedFor if they are not saved till after they have passed through these torments, they have never been forgiven -The divine law has taken its course; nor has any intervening pardon prevented the full execution of the threatened penalty on them.-Forgiveness strictly and literally speaking has not been granted them." "This kind of sinners being absolutely excluded from the privilege of
P. 90. † P. 307. Page 320. P. 350, 351. || P. 335, &c.
forgiveness, must, as has been said, suffer the torments of another world, before they can be saved."*
In these passages concerning the blasphemers of the HOLY GHOST, the author plainly supposes, that not only those of that character, but all who suffer the torments of hell are finally saved without forgiveness, having satisfied by their own sufferings the utmost demands of strict justice. He who is delivered from further punishment in consequence of having suffered a punishment however great in degree and long in duration, but not equal to that, to which he is liable by strict justice, is the subject of forgiveness. Just so much punishment is forgiven him, as is lacking to make the punishment, which he hath suffered, equal to that, to which he is liable by strict justice. Now our author, in the passages just quoted, supposes that both the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost and all others who pass through the torments of hell, are finally delivered, not in consequence of a punishment inferior in degree or duration, to that which may be inflicted on them, according to strict justice; as in that case they would be the subjects of forgiveness: but in consequence of that punishment, which is according to strict justice, and therefore they are delivered without forgiveness. He says, "The pardonableness of all other sins, lies in the possibility, that those who have been guilty of them, should escape the torments of hell." Those therefore who actually pass through the torments of hell receive no forgiveness; but are liberated on the footing of strict justice. If pardonableness, or which is the same, a possibility of pardon consist in a possibility of escaping the torments of hell; then actual pardon consists in an actual escape from those torments. Of course they who do not escape them, but pass through them, receive no pardon.
* P. 340.
Again the only observation made by Dr. C. to show, that the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost are not forgiven; or the only respect in which he asserts, that they are not forgiven, is, that they pass through the torments of hell. But as this holds good with regard to all the damned, it equally proves, that none of them are forgiven; and that the divine law takes its course on them all; and that no intervening pardon will ever prevent the full execution of the threatened penalty on them.-Now if the divine law take its course on the damned, and the penalty threatened in the law, be fully executed on them; they are undoubtedly punished according to their demerits, or according to strict justice; and if after all, they be liberated from punishment, they are liberated not in the way of forgiveness, nor on the footing of grace or favour; but on the footing of strict justice."
But if this conclusion concerning all the damned be denied; yet as the blasphemers of the Holy Ghost are some of mankind, some of mankind at least, if not all the damned, will be saved on the footing of strict justice, and without forgiveness.
The same observations for substance, may be made on the other quotations above. If the damned suffer " a misery in proportion to the number and greatness of their vices;" if "they receive the wages of sin ;" if they be "tormented variously as to time, in proportion to their deserts;" and "according to the difference there has been in the nature and number of their evil deeds;" if they suffer "positive torments awfully great in degree and long in continuance, in proportion to the number and greatness of their crimes;" they are punished to the utmost extent of justice. To punish them any further would be excessive, injurious and oppressive. To exempt them from punishment, is so far from an act of grace or favour,that it is an act called for by the most rigorous justice.
By these quotations, and by the observations on them, it appears, that our author holds, that the damned suffer a punishment properly and strictly vindictive, and vindictive to the highest degree, and to the utmost extent to which vengeance in any just government can proceed. Indeed speaking of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he plainly asserts a vindictive punishment both of those cities, and of the damned; he says, that "the destruction of those cities" was, "for a public example of the divine vengeance to after ages. And the fire of hell is doubtless called everlasting for the like reason ;" i. e. because it will last, till it shall have accomplished the design of heaven in the destruction of the damned, for a public example of the divine vengeance. In his Five Dissertations p. 110, he speaks of the labour, sorrow and death which men suffer in this world, as "testimonies of God's vengeance,—as judgments on his part, and real evils on theirs ;" By vindictive punishment is meant, that which is sufficient to support and vindicate the authority of the divine law, or which is sufficient to satisfy the justice of GOD. But no advocate for vindictive punishment ever supposed, that to vindicate the authority of the law and to satisfy the justice of God, a greater punishment is necessary, than is according to justice or according to the desert, or the nature and number of the sins, the vices, the crimes of the person punished: or that to those ends, a greater punishment is necessary, than is inflicted, when "the divine law takes its course;" or than is implied "in the full execution of the threatened penalty." A punishment greater than that which answers those descriptions, would be so far from satisfying justice, that it would be positively unjust: it would be so far from supporting the authority of the divine law, that it would bring it into contempt by violating it.
* P. 274.