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nity of hell torments. If it be said, that God has not absolutely determined the duration or measure of their torments, but intends to continue them till they do repent, or to try lesser torments first, and, if these do not answer, to increase them till they are effectual, determining that he will raise or continue them till the effect shall finally and infallibly follow; that is the same thing as to necessitate the effect. And here is necessity in such a case, as much as when a founder puts a piece of metal in a furnace, with a resolution to melt it, and if continuing it there a little while will not dissolve it, that he will keep it there till it does dissolve : and if, by reason of its peculiar hardness, an ordinary degree of heat of the furnace will not be effectual, that he will increase the vehemence of the heat, till the effect shall certainly follow.
N. B. Some of these things observed in opposition to the notion of hell torments being only purifying pains, may be used as arguments to prove the eternity of future misery in general. As what is said concerning the consummation of all things, &c.,-concerning the rich man's having received his good things, &c.—the punishment of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost-concerning the last dispensation, Rev. xxij. 10, 11, 12,-sinners being thrown away, lost, &c.--the last enemy subdued-concerning the devil, and wicked men's suffering the same punishinent with him.
29. If any should maintain this scheme of temporary future punishments, viz., that the torments in hell are not purifying pains, and that the damned are not in a state of trial with regard to any expected admission to eternal happiness, and that therefore they are not the proper objects of divine benevolence; that the dispensation they are under, is not truly a dispensation of mercy, but that their torments are properly penal pains, wherein God displays his vindictive justice; that they shall suffer niisery to such a degree, and for so long a time as their obstinate wickedness in this world deserves; and that indeed they shall be miserable a very long time, so long, that it is often figuratively spoken of in Scripture as being ererlasting, and that then they shall be annihilated : on this I would observe, that there is nothing got by such a scheme; no relief from the arguments taken from Scripture, for the proper eternity of future punishment. For, if it be owner, that Scripture expressions denote a punishment that is properly eternal, but it be said that it is in no other sense properly so, than as the annihilation, or state of non-existence that the wicked shall return to, will be eternal; and that this eternal annihilation is that death which is so often threatened for sin, that perishing forever, that everlasting destruction, being lost, perishing, utterly consumed, &c., so often denounced to wicked men; and that the fire of hell be called eternal fire, in the same sense that the external fire which consumed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is called eternal fire, Jude 7, because it utterly consumed those cities, that they might never be built more; and that this fire is called that which cannot be quenched, or at least not until it has destroyed them that are cast into it.--If this be all that these expressions denote, then they do not at all signify the length of the torments, or long continuance of their misery; so that the supposition of the length of their torments is brought in without any necessity, the Scripture saying nothing of it, hava ing no respect to it, when it speaks of their everlasting punishments : and it answers the Scripture expressions as well, to suppose that they shall be annihilated immediately, without any long pains, provided the annihilation be everlasting.
30. If any should suppose that the torments of the damned in hell are properly penal, and in execution of penal justice, but yet that they are neither eternal, nor shall end in annihilation, but shall be continued till justice is satisfied, and they have truly suffered as much as they deserve, whereby their punishment shall be so long as to be called everlasting, but that then they shall be delivered, and finally be the subjects of everlasting happiness; and that therefore they shall not in the mean time be in a state of trial, nor will be waited upon in order to repentance, nor will their torments be used as means to bring them to it; for that the term and measure of their punishment shall be fixed, from which they shall not be delivered on repentance, or any terms or conditions whatsoever, until justice is satisfied: one thing that I would observe, in answer to this, is, that if it be so, the damned, while under their suffering, are either answerable for the wickedness that is acted by them while in that state, or may properly be the subjects of a judicial proceeding for it, or not. If the former be supposed, viz., that they are answerable and accountable for all that wickedness that is acted by them during their long state of suffering for the sins of this life, and must also be punished for all that wickedness as much as it deserves, and so as fully to satisfy justice (as is supposed with respect to the sins of this life); then it will follow, that they must have another state of suffering and punishment, after the ages of their suffering for the sins of this life are ended. And it cannot be supposed, that this second period of suffering will be shorter than the first : for the first is only for the sins committed during a short life, often represented in Scripture, for its shortness, to be a dream, a tale that is told, a blast of wind, a vapor, a span, a moment, a flower, &c. But the time of punishment is always represented as exceeding long, called everlasting; represented as enduring forever and ever, as having no end, &c. If the sins of a moment must be followed with such as it were endless ages of punishment, then, doubtless, the sins of those endless ages, must be followed with another second period of suffering, much longer. For it must be supposed, that the damned continue sinning all the time of their punishment; for none can rationally imagine, that God would hold them under such extreme torments, and terrible manifestations and executions of his wrath, after they have thoroughly repented, and turned from sin, and are become pure and holy, and conformed to God, and so have left off sinning. And if they continue in sin during this state of punishment, with assurance that God still has a great benevolence for them, even so as to intend finally to make them everlastingly happy in the enjoyment of his love, then their sin must be attended with great aggravation; as they will have the evil and ill desert of sin set before them in the most affecting manner, in their dreadful sufferings for it, attended besides with evidence that God is infinitely benevolent towards them, and intends to bestow infinite blessings upon them. But, if it be so, that this first long period of punishment must be followed with a second as long, or longer; for the same reason, the second must be followed by a third, as long, or longer than that; and so the third must be followed by a fourth, and so in infinitum ; and, at this rate, there never can be an end of their misery. So this scheme overthrows itself.
And if the second thing mentioned be affirmed, viz., that the damned are not answerable for the wickedness they commit during their state of punishment, then we must suppose that, during the whole of their long, and, as it were, eternal state of punishment, they are given up of God to the most unrestrained wickedness, having this to consider, that how far soever they go in the allowed exercises,and manifestations of their malice and rage against God and Christ, saints and angels, and their fellow damned spirits, they have nothing to fear from it-it will be never the worse; and surely, continuing in such unrestrained wickedness, for such an exceeding, and, as it were, endless length of duration, must most desperately confirm the habit of sin, must increase the root and fountain of it in the heart as it were infinitely. Now, how unreason
able is it to suppose, that God would thus deal with such as were objects of his infinite kindness, and the appointed subjects of the unspeakable and endless fruits of his love, in a state of perfect holiness and purity, and conformity to and union with himself; thus to give them up beforehand to a kind of eternity of unrestrained malignity against himself, and every kind of hellish wickedness, as it were infinitely to increase the fountain of sin in the heart, and the strength of the principle and habit ? If they are thus given up to unrestrained wickedness during the period of their punishment, and there be evidence of this, then this certain continuance in unbounded wickedness for so long a time, must be part of the punishment they are sentenced to, and that is bound upon them by an irreversible doom; which certainly supposes such a necessity that they are laid under, as is not consistent with that freedom which this sort of people hold as requisite to moral agency. Now, how incongruous is it to suppose, with regard to those that God has great benevolence to, and designs eternal favor for, that he would lay them under a necessity of extreme unbounded hatred of him, blasphemy and rage against him, for so many ages; such necessity as should exclude all liberty of their own in the case? If God intends not only punishment, but purification by these torments; on this supposition, instead of their being purified, they must be set at an infinitely greater distance from purification. And if God intends them for a second time of probation, in order to their being brought to repentance and the love of God after their punishment is finished; then how can it be certain beforehand that they shall finally be happy, as is supposed ? How can it be certain they will not fail in their second trial, or in their third, if there be a third ? Yea, how much more likely that they will fail of truly turning in heart from sin to the love of God, in their second trial, if there be any proper trial in the case, after their hearts have been so much more brought under the power of a strong habit of sin and enmity to God? If the habit proved so strong in this life that the most powerful means and mighty inducements of the gospel would not prevail, so that God was, as it were, under a necessity of cutting down and dealing thus severely with them ; how much less likely will it be, that they will be prevailed upon to love God and the ways of virtue, after their hearts are set at so much greater distance from those things? Yea, unless we suppose a divine interposition of almighty, efficacious power, to change the heart in the time of this second trial, we may be sure that, under these circumstances, the heart will not turn to love God. But such an interposition of efficacious power is not agreeable to the notions of freedom and moral agency, which that sort of people maintain, who deny the eternity of the torments of hell. It would be yet more plainly contrary to their notions of freedom and moral agency, to suppose, that after their state of suffering is over, they would be immediately made perfectly holy, and freed from such a degree of confirmed wickedness, without any time of trial at all. Such perfect holiness, wrought so immediately from the greatest depth of wickedness, and the most extremely confirmed malignity and depravity of heart, could not be the effect of free will, in their notion of it; and therefore would, according to their system, be no virtue, no rewardable or praiseworthy holiness. Besides the supposition of God's thus setting his creatures at once in a state of confirmed and eternal holiness and happiness, is not agreeable to God's way of dealing with his creatures : for, how much better and more fitly might the creature be thus confirmed, in the first instant of its creation, than to be thus confirmed in perfection of favor and glory, after so many ages of actual enmity and most extreme wickedness, without any previous trial or space of repentance ?
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And besides, if it be so, that they are laid under such a necessity of hating and blaspheming God, for so many ages, in the manner that has been spoken of, a necessity utterly inconsistent with human liberty ; then they will have no reason whatever to condemn themselves for all this enmity and blasphemy of theirs, for so long a time, after they are made perfectly holy and happy, and see that they had no reason at all for such malice and rage; but that all was infinitely against reason, and that at the same time there was infinite reason that they should love and honor God. But how extremely incongruous is such an imagination, that God would lay those he intended for the eternal bounty and blessedness of dear children, under such circumstances, that they must necessarily hate him, and with devilish fury curse and blaspheme him for innuinerable ages in the most unreasonable manner, and yet never have cause, even when they are delivered and made happy in God's love, to condemn themselves for it, though they see the infinite hatefulness and unreasonableness of it, because God laid them under such necessity of it, that they could use no liberty of their own in the case? I leave it for all to judge, whether God's thus ordering things, with regard to such as he, from great benevolence, intended for eternal happiness in a most blessed union with himself, be credible.
$31. That which lasts as long as the world stands, is sometimes said to be forever. Yet the space of man's life in comparison of the state that succeeds is often represented as a moment, the shortest space, yea, even as nothing. And so the space of time to the end of the world is represented as very short, Heb. x. 37. Here in a particular manner observe those words of Christ, Rev. xxii. 10, 11, 12. After Christ had shown John the end of the world, the day of judgment, and consummation of all things, he says, “ The time is at hand. He that is unjust let him be unjust still, &c.—Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Here Christ represents to his beloved disciple the space from that time to the end of the world, to be very short, after he had from time to time represented to him (in the course of those visions, of which this is the conclusion) the state of the punishment of the wicked to be everlasting, and forever and ever; as chap. xiv. 10, 11, and xix. 3, and xx. 10. And even in this 22d chapter, 5th verse, when Christ says,-Behold I come quickly, and so represents the time to the end of the world to be but short, we are naturally and justly led to compare this representation with that which is made of the duration of the future state both of good and bad after the judgment; and to draw inferences accordingly concerning the duration of that following state, on many accounts : As, i. The same Jesus, in the same course or series of visions, by which John is directed in this book, makes buth representations: and the future state of the righteous and wicked, especially of the latter, is set forth in a representation that is insisted on, and repeated from time to time, as being forever and ever. 2. He at this very time, and in the same vision (as may be seen verse 5 of this same 22d chapter), says of the blessedness of the righteous, that it shall be forever and ever ; the very same phrase that is used before, from time to time, to re: forth the duration of the misery of the wicked. 3. After he had spoken otine glory of the righteous as being forever and ever, he, in the midst of those words, wherein he represents the time to the end of the world as very short, joins both righteous and wicked together, representing their state as fixed, unalterable and everlasting, in the same expressions ; “ The time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Behold I come quickly.” The shortness of the time to the end
of the world, is expressed in the words immediately preceding those that express the endlessness of the state of both righteous and wicked; and then again the words immediately following express the same thing over again, “Behold I come quickly.” And, 4. The words immediately following these, naturally lead us to the same comparison, even to compare the duration of the time before the coming of the Judge, and the duration of those rewards and punishments which he will render to men according as their works shall be; “Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be.” The shortness of the time before his coming to judge and recompense men, is declared, for the comfort of the righteous, and terror of the wicked; and the thing that justly renders the consideration of the measure of duration before Christ's coming comfortable to the saints, though it seems so long on some accounts, is, that it is very short in comparison of the duration of the reward that shall follow; and so the thing that should justly make the measure of time, before the judgment, terrible to the wicked, is, that though they may be ready to please themselves that the time is so long, yet it is very short in comparison of the punishment that shall follow. And in other places of Scripture, the time preceding the punishment of the wicked in particular, is represented as very short. Thus it is threatened that God would bring upon them swift destruction : and it is said, the things that shall come upon them, make haste, and that vengeance shall come speedily on the enemies of the elect, and the like. And the punishment of the wicked itself is always represented as everlasting and endless. Whence we may most reasonably suppose, that those phrases, when applied to future punishment, are used in their most proper sense, and not at all in the same manner as when applied to the space preceding, which is here spoken of as comparatively very short.
When the fire of hell is represented as that which shall never be quenched, it is not thereby meant that it shall not be quenched till it has consumed its fuel and goes out itself. For, by being quenched, as the word is used in Scripture, is meant, not only a being extinguished or put out, but a going out, or ceasing, or ending in any respect. So the words are to be understood, Isai. xlii. 17,“ They are extinct, they are quenched as tow," i. e., their power and rage shall be like the fire of tow, that lasts but for a very little while, and then goes out. Vessels of mercy, and vessels of wrath, are expressly distinguished. And the apostle James speaks of some that shall have judgment without mercy, James ii. 13; which proves the punishment of hell is not the effect of mercy, and that mercy and pity never shall be exercised towards the damned.
§ 32. Hutcheson on the Passions, p. 77,3d edition, says, “No misery is farther the occasion of joy to a sedate temper, than as it is necessary to some prepollent happiness in the whole.” It would be worth while particularly to examine this matter, and inquire, whether there be not something in the natural sense of desert, which God has implanted in creatures that are moral agents, which tends to acquiescence in the pains or suffering of the ill-deserving, not merely from a natural desire of good to ourselves or others, or good to the universal system, but as what a sense of desert naturally tends to, as a gratification of that sense.
$ 33. It is manifest, that God's design in punishing his enemies, is in part to convince them of his greatness and majesty, and to make them know their folly in despising them, as well as to make his glory and majesty visible to others, even to the whole universe. Exod. ix. 14– 17,“ For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. Vos.. I.