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with death. Now we belong to God. Of mere right we are bound to render him our affections,' our obedience, our lives, our immortal souls. Are not these Infinitely beyond the money which the thief steals from his neighbor? And if we rob God of these by a life of open transgression, do we not require, on the very ground of reason and justice, an Infinitely greater punishment? Again, it is the law of earthly governments, that if a soldier deserts his post in time of war, he shall lose his life for the crime. Where is the proportion here? Take a man's life because he was afraid, or because, for any other reason, he abandoned his place for a few hours, against the word of his superior officer, a mere man like himself! Why, if this be reason and justice, and a severity absolutely required to prevent the dismemberment of every army, and the consequent destruction of every government in time of war, what punishment is too great for him who deserts his post against the strict command of his Creator and Redeemer, and in the time of that warfare which he is waging against the power of the great enemy? But again, we find that reason and justice never estimate the punishment by the length of time spent in the commission of the crime. Whether treason, or murder, or highway robbery be perpetrated through a long and tedious scheme of management, or on one moment's deliberation, makes no difference in the quality of the punishment. Manifestly, then, on the principles of human legislation, the shortness of the period spent in transgressing the laws of God, presents no sufficient defence against the condemnation of the sinner. Neither does the majesty of earthly /government wait for the repetition of any crime to justify the punishment, but all the offenders we have mentioned are punished for the first and perhaps the only crime; whereas no man can possibly count his transgres
sions against the Divine law, every one of which is worthy of condemnation ; then, what a punishment must the whole require!
There is yet another mode of viewing this subject, which is well worthy of consideration. It is derived from the principle, that crimes are always estimated in their sferocity, by the magnitude of the duty which the criminal has transgressed, and by the dignity of those against whom he has directed his transgression. Thus if I maliciously take away the life of a brute, I am punished by a slight fine, but if I maliciously take away the life of a man, I must pay the penalty of the law with my own. Here the bare act is the same in both cases, namely, the malicious taking away of life, but the crime is incalculably enhanced by the comparative dignity of the man over the beast, and the criminal's punishment is rated accordingly. So, in monarchical governments, the same words which, if spoken or written in relation to a common man, would hardly be counted an offence at all, when spoken or written in reflation to the king or the royal family, may cost the life of their author. Here, too, the crime is entirely changed by the increased dignity of the persons against whom it is committed. By the same rule it is, that under our own government, the very actions, which, when committed against a fellow-citizen or citizens, would only constitute a trifling riot, if directed against the constituted authorities, become a deadly treason. In all this, reason and justice are well content; but the same reason and justice must remember, that the dignity and majesty of God over man are Infinite, and the dignity and fnajesty of the divine government are Infinite also ; by necessary consequence, therefore, crimes directed against the Supreme Being are Infinitely enhanced in their atrocity, and call for an InFinite increase in their punishment.
From this brief appeal to the principles of human legislation, it must be obvious, that earthly justice and the reason of earthly law are totally at war with both branches of the objection, since it is plainly absurd to talk of a finite sin committed against an Infinite Being, and equally absurd to talk of reformation as the chief end of punishment, when, in fact, all human law regards The Safety Of The Government, and the wholesome effect produced upon society by making an example of the offender, so As
TO DETER OTHERS FROM COMMITTING HIS CRIME; and
these are the leading objects in all penal legislation.
Now in order to give the principles of human reason and justice their full effect upon this question, it is only necessary to suppose, what must at least be admitted even by the infidel as sufficiently probable, namely, that the punishments of the damned are so determined as to be visible examples to the whole universe of God throughout eternity, for the purpose of warning the rest of his creatures, lest they also should rebel and fall into condemnation. If earthly governments require the infliction of public punishment, why may not the government of kGod require the same? If the object to be effected by this punishment be one of eternal advantage, why shall not the instrument be eternal too? How do we know, whether there is another world of sinners in the whole creation besides our own? Many hundreds of millions of orbs we assuredly perceive in the stars and planets, all of which we presume to be peopled like the earth, and over all of which the same high government of heaven holds an absolute control. Others may have fallen from their allegiance like ourselves, but it is no unlikely conjecture that the number of those who will be condemned, as a warning to th e rest, is exceedingly small in proportion to the wholes perhaps not amounting to half so many as are sacrificed to the laws of our own land, for the warning, the peace, and the safety of the community. If, then, the continuance of their punishment be necessary to the security of the rest, how should reason or justice object to it; and if the safety of the Divine government, and the peace and happiness of the whole universe of God, demand the eternal spectacle of righteous condemnation, as a wholesome example, is it not manifest that human reason and justice must approve, however human sympathy might deplore its exhibition.
2. Seeing, from this brief recurrence to the principles of human legislation, that the objection we have been examining has no foundation in the theory or the practice of criminal law in earthly governments, we proceed, in the second place, to show how utterly it is opposed to the evidence of Scripture.
St. John the Baptist, speaking metaphorically of the last day, saith, that Christ will ' gather the wheat' (that is the righteous) ' into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff' (that is the wicked) ' with unquenchable fire.' Our Lord himself, teaching the necessity of self denial, saith, three times, that * It is better for you to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into hell, Where The Worm Dieth Not, And The Fire is Not Quenched.' So the text expressly declares, that' The wicked shall go away into Everlasting PunIshment, but the fighteous into Life Eternal,' in which passage the same word in the original Greek which is used to signify the endless duration of the reward, is used to signify the endless duration of the punishment. Again, St. Paul calls it an * Everlasttng Destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power;' and. the very description of the place of punishment conveys the same idea, for our Lord calls it' Everlasting Fire
PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.' St. John
declares, that 'The fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, where they shall be tormented day and night For Ever And Ever.' And again he saith, that 'The smoke of their torment ariseth up For Ever And Ever.' Asuredly no language can be more express than this, to prove that the misery, to which the final judgment shall sentence the wicked, will be without end.
3. But it is said, that sometimes the expression ' For EvEr' in Scripture means only a limited time, as when it is applied to the Jewish ceremonial law, where the phrase occurs with regard, for example, to the passover, 'You shall keep it an ordinance for ever.' Here the term is supposed to mean until the coming of Christ in the flesh, and so of many other places in the Bible. Therefore it is argued, that it may only mean a limited time, where it is applied to the punishment of the wicked.
To this the answer is easy. In the first place, it is certain that the true and proper meaning of these expressions in the original languages, namely, the Hebrew and the Greek, is fairly translated by the words everlasting, for ever, &c., and that the few cases in which a more limited sense is apparently designed, can only claim this interpretation on account of the limited nature of the subject matter. The true state of the question may be readily understood by the mere English scholar, when he is told, that the original words are applied, invariably, to the existence and the attributes of God, and that the Hebrew and the