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Modern DivineS! What discoveries ye might have made! How invaluable might ye have rendered your now, Alas! no longer learned Commentaries !“ A child of hell, uion geennes, is one like Satan in his disposition, and doomed to the same punishment.”(6) Were the Scribes and Pharisees children of the valley of Hinnom?-for they are included in the condemnatory sentence as well as the proselyie.
“ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell, geennes.” Matt. xxiii. 33.
According to the Universalist Commentators, this would read, “how can ye escape the damnation of the Valley of Hinnom”! Now our Lord is here addressing the Scribes and Pharisees, and his question is equivalent to the declaration, Ye cannot escape. We ask, then, our learned friends, if all, to whom our Lord on this occasion addressed bimself, were really damned in the Valley of Hinnom? Can they show satisfactorily that even one individual of the respected and honored orders of the Scribes and Pharisees suffered in this valley any punishment to which the word damnation can with propriety apply?-Let them produce their proof, or acknowledge the folly of saying. that, when punishment in hell is asserted in the New Testament, all that is meant is, suffering in this abominable valley. “Here, too, the punishment is stated: it is that of geenna, the fire of hell, which figuralivcly denotes the terribleness of that visitation which overwhelmed their City and nation in unheard of calamities, and literally the punishment to which they individually rendered themselves obnoxious in a future state. The phrase, “the judgment of damnation of hell,'' often occurs in the Tal mud for future torment, and the everlasting wrath of God.”()
Our remarks on this subject might be extended to a greater length; but what has been advanced, we appre(6) R. Watson
(7) R. Watson in loc.
hend, contains a sufficiency of Scripture and argument to refute the fallacious and dangerous notion, that, the wordt "hell,” in no one instance signifies a place of future punishment. To the advocates of this opinion we would take the liberty of saying, “it is easier said than proved."
THE QUESTION CONSIDERED WHETHER MEN RECEIVE IN THIS WORLD ALL THE PUNISHMENT WHICH
THEIR SINS DESERVE.
That sin deserves punishment of some kind is universally acknowledged: but as to the place and duration of this punishment a difference of opinion exists. The modern Universalists, as we before remarked, believe in no future punishinent whatever, but confine the punishment of sinners altogether to this world. Adverse Providences, and remorse of conscience, they assert, are all the hell, all the punishment men are required to suffer; and as these are endured in this life, no further demands of divine justice await them hereafter; but death is to all men the entrance into everlasting felicity in heaven. Hence, on this system, future punishment can have no existence:-itis a nonentity:-men never were exposed to it, and, if inflicted, it would be an act of the most flagrant injustice. The question we now propose to consider is
Do men so receive in this world the punishment of their sins, as to render future punishment altogether uncalled for and unjust?
The Modern Universalists answer this query affirmatively: we deny it and appeal to the Scriptures.
Our ultimate appeal in the settlement of this important question niust be to the decisions of the Sacred Scriptures, for God alone can decide upon the criminality of sin, and the nature, degree, and duration of its punishment; and as He is a God of Wisdom and Justice, He cannot inflict any punishment on guilty offenders which is truly unnecessary and unjust. To suppose the contrary, would be to suppose that God is at one and the same time both infinitely wise and infinitely foolish, infinitely just and infinitely unjust,-a supposition, which is not only absurd but blasphemous. The Bible contains the revelation of God's will; hence, if we find, in his written word, that there is a future punishment, and that the contrary belief is opposed to all the fundamental doctrines of the Christiau Revelation, then we must believe, on the Divine Authority, that, not only the affirmative side of the question at issue is positively untrue, but also that future punishment is both necessary and just. These observations the reader is requested to bear in mind as he proceeds in the discussion.
It may not be unprofitable to give the reason of the case in favour of our position. The following is from a Master's hand, and is with confidence submitted to the reader's careful attention:-the inferences are borne out by the Sacred Volume.
- Men are capable of committing sin, and sin is productive of misery and disorder. These positions cannot be denied. That to violate the laws of God, and to despise his authority, are not light crimes, is clear from considering them in their general effect upon society, and upon the world. Remove from the human race all the effects produced by vice, direct and indirect; all the inward and outward miseries and calamities which are entirely evitable by mankind and which they wilfully bring upon themselves and others; and scarcely a sigh would be heaved, or a groan heard, except those extorted by
natural evils, (small comparatively in number,) throughout the whole earth. The great sum of human misery is the effect of actual offence; and as it is a principle in the wisest and most perfect human legislation to estimate the guilt of individual acts by their general tendency, and to proportion the punishment to them under that consideration, the same reason of the case is in favour of this principle, as found in Scripture; and thus considered, the demerit of the sins of an individual against God becomes incalculable. Nor is there any foundation to suppose, that the punishment assigned to sin by the judicial appointment of the Supreme Governor is confined to the present life; for before we can determine that, we must be able to estimate the demerit of an act of wilful transgression in its principle, habits, and influence, which, as parties implicated, we are not in a state of feeling or judgment to attempt, were the subject more within our grasp. But the obvious reason of the case is in favour of the doctrine of future punishment, for not only is there an unequal administration of punishments in the present life, so that many eminent offenders pass through the present state without any visible manifestation of the Divine displeasure against their conduct, but there are also strong and convincing proofs that we are placed in a state of trial, which continues throughout life, and the result of which can only be known, and consequently we ourselves can only become subjects of final reward or punishment after existence in this world terminates. From the circumstances we have just enumerated to indicate the kind of government which is exercised over the human race, we must conclude, that, allowing the Supreme Governor to be wise and just, benevolent and holy, men are neither treated as innocent nor as incorrigibly corrupt. Now, what reason can possibly be given for this mixed kind of administration, but that the moral improvement of man is the object intended by it? The severity discountena