« AnteriorContinuar »
the Universalists, as unfair disputants, when they use the word benevolence in that loose sense which, he says, means that all creatures shall be made happy!! Thus Mr. S. hath taken care, sirst, so to explain the word benevolence, as to make it inser the eternal sin and misery of a great part of the human races and then, to enter a caveat against any such exposition of the word, as will, in the least degree, favor the . extirpation of sin and misery out of the universe g because this would be taking for granted the subject of dispute. What, kind reader, shall we do in this dilemma? If we interpret the word benevolence* so as to favor the destruction of sin and misery, we shall be unfair disputants. And, if we tamely indulge Mr. S. in his explanation of this word benevolence, we shall be eternally plagued, I sear, with sin and misery in the world.
Further, Mr. S. hath forewarned us what to expect, if we presume to interpret the word , benevolence in that loose sense, which favors the destruction of sin and misery, viz* that it will be denied that God is a ,benevolent being. So that we see that Mr. S. bath taken every precaution to keep sin and misery in the world.
If we say that God loves the children of Adam j esteems, and treats them all with impartial affection; desires the virtue, holiness, and happiness of them all; and, when he contemplates a world of intelligent creatures, redeemed, restored, and saved, by his own gracious mediatorial scheme, he loves it,
he he beholds this happy, exulting, enraptured world of intelligent creatures with divine pleasure; and this is his benevolence: we may expect soon to hear it denied that God is a benevolent being.
Whereas, if we fay that God delights in the eternal sin and misery of a great part of Adam's race, as the necessary means of producing the greatest good the greatest possible quantity of happiness, even the glory and blessedness' of God and of his holy intelligent kingdom; and that he looks, with supreme pleasure, on this mixed state of his moral world; and this is his benevolence: O then, then God is a benevolent being.
This last, my kind reader, is the only true representation of the Father of mercies, and God of all grace 1 Does your reason, your common sense, or your heart, consent? Can you persuade your mind to believe that this is a just representation of your Creator, and of divine benevolence?
The last sentence of my last quotation from Mr. S. viz. " This loose sense of the word will be very agreeable to sinful minds, and bath a fatal tendency to six them in the security of death," I shall leave to be considered, hereafter, as^ an objection against that scheme of creation, and divine moral government of men, which we shall more fully examine.
To proceed a little farther with Mr. S's. idea of benevolence; he fays, p. 115, "Every good mind wishes the greatest possible happiness in the universe cf being. He wishes the greatest possible number
of of individuals to be made happy, that can be with the greatest happiness in the whole; and that each of these individuals should be the happiest possible. If God had made a revelation concerning any one qr number of persons, that their salvation would be. inconsistent with his plan of benevolent government; and that their being made happy would necessarily alter the scheme of social existence, in such a manner, that the universe would lose more than they would gain; in such a case, it is not seen that benevolence could wish their salvation, at the expense of a greater good. Benevolence never can wish a diminution of real good in the universe, sot this would be acting against an essential quality of its own nature, which is, a delight in-good or happiness." My kind reader, are you weary of the constant repetition of such ideas of benevolence? or does your patience still hold out? I consess mine is clean gone. I blame Mr. S. for asserting, without proof, and continuing to repeat, and call into view, that disagreeable idea, that the eternal misery of some is a mean of happiness to the rest. God has been pleased to give us two revelations of himself, and of his moral government of men ; one natural, our reason; the other supernatural, his holy word. We have a right to use both, in all our inquiries after moral and religious truth. We will now endeavor, once for all, by the use of natural revelation, to demonstrate, First, That eternal misery, as a punishment of temporary crimes, is absurd and impossible, in its own nature. Secondly,
If If it were possible, that it is cruel injustice to inflict it. Thirdly, That it cannot be a mean of increasing but must, in the nature of things, imbitter and spoil the happiness of saints. 'If these things can be done in a manner satisfactory to the public, it is readily seen, that Mr. S.'s hypothesis of the greatest good, and of divine benevolence, are totally refuted; and that his whole scheme of divine moral government is subverted. That scheme of divine government, which I formerly stated, in company with that which Mr. S. hath adopted, I shall, hereafter, examine, and endeavor to establish.
First, Eternal misery, as a punishment of temporary crimes, is absurd and impossible in its own nature. Eternal punishment is an insinite punishment. Insinite punishment insers insinite guilt. Insinite guilt is the quality of the action of an insinite being. Man is the guilty being. Man is therefore an insinite being. Thus we must give up the idea of eternal misery, as a punishment inflicted on mep for,sins committed in this world, or admit that man is an insinite being.
Secondly, Would the.nature of things admit it, e. ternal misery is cruelly unjust. . Man,opce flept in nonentity. The siat of the Almighty called him into existence. At the moment, when jGod said, "Let us make man"; the whole series, and every accident,.of man's future existence, were present to the divine view. Before^man existed, hexes tainly was not guilty. ,J:'.,'L To
To call an innocent nonentity into being, to bs eternally sinful and miserable, is to exert irresistible and almighty power to produce an insinite evil. I freely submit it to my reader, and the world, whether this be not an action of sovereign cruelty, and barbarous injustice.
Thirdly, The eternal misery of sinners would not increase, but imbitter and spoil, the happiness of the saints. Heaven and hell will be eternally in prospect of each other according to the supposition. I call on the indulgent father, and on the delicately kind and tender mother, to speak the sentiments of their hearts. Are you willing to receive heavenly happiness at the expense of the eternal sin and misery of your dear children? Or, if in heaven, can you imagine it would increase your felicity, to look down into the hideous regions of eternal despair, and there to behold your children in devouring sire, never to be quenched, where their worm will never die ? Parental, silial, and every social seeling, must be entirely eradicated from the human soul, by a transition from earth to heaven, or the miseries of hell, if they are to be eternal, will destroy the happiness of celestials.
The glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom, are necessarily produced by the eternal sin and misery of the wicked. If by the glory and blessedness of God be meant, the illustrious display of the divine character and persections, the eternal fln and misery of the wicked, instead of