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means, will ever be used with them ; but he that is unjust must remain so still, and he that is filthy must be filthy still, and he that is righteous shall be righteous still, and he that is holy shall be holy still. Thus Christ takes leave of his church till his last coming, warning them to improve the means of grace they have, and informing them that they are never to have any other : q. d. They have Moses and the prophets ; and, in the writings of the New Testament, they have more glorious, powerful, and efficacious revelations of me.
Those writings I now finish and seal. Let them hear these, and make a good improvement of them : for these are the last means / shall ever use to change man's state. This is inconsistent with his reserving his greatest and most powerful means, with a determined certain success, to be used after the day of judgment.
§ 21. They who suppose the damned are inade to suffer the torments of hell for their purification, suppose, that God is herein prosecuting his grand design of benevolence to his creatures; yea, benevolence to the sufferers; and that he does not use these severe means but from necessity for their good, because all gentle remedies prove ineffectual. Now, it is unreasonable to suppose, that God is under any necessity of inflicting such extreme torments upon them for so long a time, in order to their being brought to repentance; and that,
1. If we consider the nature of things : torments inflicted have no tendency to bring a wicked man to repentance directly and properly, if by repentance we mean an alteration of the disposition, and appetites, and taste of the mind. We know by experience, that pain inflicted for gratifying an appetite, may make men afraid to gratify the appetite, but they do not change the inclination, or destroy the appetite. They may make men willing to comply with external exercises ; of which they have a distaste, and to which their heart, in its relish and inclinations, is averse ; yet not from love to the things complied with, but from hatred of pain, and love of ease. So that the man complies in some sense : but his heart does not comply. He is only driven, and as it were forced ; and an increase of pain alters not the nature of things. It may make a man more earnestly to desire freedom from pain; but still there is no more to be expected from it, than is in the tendency of pain, which is not to give a new nature, a
new heart, or a new natural relish and disposition. It is not granted, that even long continued pains and practice will gradually raise an habitual love to virtue. The pains of the damned being great and long continued, may more and more convince them of the folly of their negligence and fearlessness in sin, and may make them willing to take some pains, but will not show them the beauty of holiness, or the odiousness of sin, so as to cause them to hate sin on its own account.
Can any one that considers human nature, especially of those that deny an innate, desperate wickedness of heart, (as the men that we have this controversy with generally do,) doubt in the least, whether, if a man should be in a furnace of fire for one day only, alive and full of quick sense, and should retain a full and lively remembrance of his misery, it would not be sufficient to make him wholly comply with all the pains and outward self-denial requisite in order to an universal, external obedience to the precepts of the word of God, rather than have those torments renewed and continued for ages; and indeed rather than endure one more such day? What pains would not such a man be willing to suffer? What labours could be too much? What would he not be willing to part with, in foregoing worldly wealth or pleasures? Would not the most covetous man, that had felt such a rod as this, be willing to part with all his treasures of silver and gold ? and the most ambitious man be willing to live in a cottage or wilderness? the most voluptuous man to part with his pleasures? Would he need first to endure many ages of such torment, before he would be willing thus far to comply? It is against all principles of human nature to suppose it. If he retains the remembrance of the torment, in a lively idea of it, it must unspeakably outweigh the most lively and affecting and attractive ideas of the good things of the world. The supposition, therefore, of his not being brought to compliance by less torment, is as unreasonable as to suppose that a mote of dust would sink the scale, being put in a balance with a talent of lead, or with ten thousand talents. If the Most High compassionate these poor wretches, and has nothing but a kind and gracious design of infinite mercy and bounty towards them, why does he take such dreadful measures with them? Will no other do? Cannot infinite wisdom find out some gentler method to bring to pass the same design? If it be said, that no other can accomplish the effect, consistently with the freedom of will, I answer, What means can be devised, having a greater tendency to drive men, and compel them to comply with the thing required, (if there be any such thing, without acting freely, and as persons left to their own free choice, than such a rod, not only held over, but used upon them in such an amazing manner, by an omnipotent hand.
2. It is apparent, from what has often come to pass, that God is in no necessity of making use of such dreadful and long continued torments, in order to bring sinners to repentance. It is most unreasonable to suppose, that no sinners that ever were converted in this orld, were, before their conversion, as wicked and as hard-hearted, as some of those that kave died impenitent; as Saul, the persecutor, afterward the apostle Paul, and some of the converts, in the 2d chapter of
Acts, who had had a hand in Christ's crucifixion, and innumerable instances of persecutors and others, who have been brought to repentance since those days. Such were converted by gentler means than those pains of hell, in what the Scrip. ture calls everlasting burning; and that without any infringement of liberty necessary to their being moral agents. It would be unreasonable to suppose, that ali those eighteen, on whom the tower of Siloam fell, were good men. But Christ would not bave his hearers imagine they were worse than themselves; and yet intimates, that there was a possibility of their escaping future misery by repentance.
3. So far, as pain and affliction are made use of to bring men to repentance, it is apparent God can make infinitely less severe chastisement effectual, together with such influences and assistances of his Spirit, as are not inconsistent with the persons' moral agency in their forsaking sin and turning to God. And, if it should be said, that none of them had the habits of sin so confirmed, as all such as die in sin ; I would answer, That this is very unreasonably supposed ; and if it should be allowed, yet it cannot be pretended, that the difference of guilt and hard-heartedness is proportionable at all to the severity of the chastisement used for purgation. If no more than ten degrees of pain, or one year's chastisement be requisite for the overcoming of five degrees of strength of the habit of sin, one would think, that less than 100,000 degrees, or 100,000 years' chastisement, should be sufficient to overcome ten degrees of strength of the same habit.
6 22. If the torments of hell are purifying pains, and are used by a God of universal benevolence towards his creatures, as necessary means for the purgation of the wicked from sin, and their being fitted for, and finally brought to eternal happiness in the enjoyment of the love of God; then it will follow, that the damned in hell are still the objects of God's mercy and kindness, and that in the torments they suffer, they are the subjects of a dispensation of grace and benevolence. All is for their good ; all is the best kindness that can be donc them, the most benevolent treatment they are capable of, in their state of mind ; and, in all, God is but chastising them as a wise and loving father, with a grieved and compassionate heart, gives necessary chastisement to sons whom he loves, and whose good he seeks to the utmost; in all he does he is only prosecuting a design of infinite kindness and favour. And indeed, some of the chief of those who are in the scheme of purifying pains, expressly maintain, that instead of being the fruits of vindictive justice, they are the effects of God's benevolence, not only to the system of intelligent creatures in general, but to the sufferers themselves. Now, how far are. these things from being agreeable to the representation which is made of things in the Holy Scriptures ?
The Scriptures represent the damned as thrown away of God; as things that are good for nothing; and which God makes no account of; Matt. xiii. 48. As dross, and not gold and silver, or any valuable metal; Psalm cxix. 119.
• Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth as dross." So Ezek. xxii, 18. Jer. vi. 28–30; as salt that has lost its savour ; as good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men; as stubble that is left, and as the chaff thrown out to be scattered by the wind, and go whither that shall happen to carry it, instead of being gathered and laid up as that which is of any value. Psalm i. 4. Job xxi. 18. and xxxv. 5; as that which shall be thrown away as wholly worthless, as chaff and stubble and tares; all which are thrown away as not worthy of any care to save them; yea, are thrown into the fire, to be burnt up as mere nuisances, as fit for nothing but to be destroyed, and, therefore, are cast into the fire, to be destroyed, and done with. Matt. iii, 12. and xii. 30; Job xxi, 18; as barren trees, trees that are good for nothing; and, not only so, but cumberers of the ground; and, as such, shall be cut down, and cast into the fire. Matt. iii. 10. and vii. 19. Luke xiii. 7; as barren branches in a vine, that are cut off and cast away; as good for nothing, and gathered and burned. John xv. 6; as thrown out, and purged away, as the filth of the world. Thus, it is said, Job xx. 7. that “the wicked shall perish for ever, as his own dung." They are spoken of as those that shall be spewed out of God's mouth; as thrown into the lake of fire; as the great sink of all the filth of the creation ; Rev. xxi. 8. “ But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their share in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone." As oriers and thorns, that are not only wholly worthless in a field, but hu tful and pernicious; and are nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned ; Heb. vi. i. e. the husbandman throws them into the fire, and so has done with them for ever. He does not still take care of them, in order to make them fruitful and flourishing plants in his garden of delights. The wicked, it is said, shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world ; Job xviii. 18. Instead of being treated by God with benevolence, chastening them with the compassion and kindness of a father, for their great and everlasting good, they, at that day, when God shall gather his children together, to make them experience the blessed fruits of the love of an heavenly Father, shall be shut out as dogs; Rev. xxi. 7, 8. with chap. xxii. 14, 15. And are represented as vessels of dishonour, vessels of wrath, fit for
nothing else, but to contain wrath and misery. They are spo. ken of as those that perish and lose their souls-that are lost; (2 Cor. iv. 4.). Those that lose themselves, and are cast away; those that are destroyed, consumed, &c.; which representations do not agree with such as are under a dispensation of kindness, and the means of a physician, in order to their eternal life, health, and happiness, though the means are severe. When God, of old, by his prophets, denounced his terrible judgments against Jerusalem and the people of Israel, against Moab, Tyre, Egypt, Assyria, &c., which judgments, though long-continued, were not designed to be perpetual; there were mixed with those awful denunciations, or added to them, promises or intimations of future mercy. But, when the Scripture speaks of God's dealings with ungodly men in another world, there are nothing but declarations and denunciations of wrath and misery, and no intimations of mercy; no gentle terms used, no significations of divine pity, no exhortations to humiliation under God's awful hand, or calls to seek his face and favour, and turn and repent. The account that the Scripture gives of the treatment that wicked men shall meet with after this life, is very inconsistent with the notion of their being from necessity subjected to harsh means of cure, and severe chastisement, with a benevolent, gracious design of their everlasting good : particularly the manner in which Christ will treat them at the day of judgment. He will bid the wicked depart from him as cursed,
$ 23. We have no account of any invitations to accept of mercy; any counsels to repent, that they may speedily be delivered from this misery. But, it is represented, that then they shall be made his footstool. He shall triumph over them. He will trample upon them as men are wont to tread grapes in a wine-press, when they trample with all their might, to that very end, that they may effectually crush them in pieces. He will tread them in his anger, and trample them in his fury, and, as he says, their blood shall be sprinkled on his garments, and he will stain all his raiment, Isaiah lxiii. at the beginning; Rev. xiv. 19, 20. and chap. xix. 15; in which last place, it is said, he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. These things do not savour of chastening with compassion and benevolence, and as still prosecuting a design of love toward them, that he may in the end actually be their Saviour, and the means of their eternal glory. There is nothing in the account of the day of judgment, that looks as though saints had any love or pity for the wicked, on account of the terrible long-continued torments which they must suffer. Nor, indeed will the accounts that are given, admit of supposing any such thing. We have an account of their judging them, and being with Christ in condemning them, concurring in the Vol. VII.