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grace, and the tenders of his mercy, when they were free? But even supposing they should, what figure will these forced reformades, converted by the devil, make in heaven on the strength of a renovation, wherein the providence of the Father, the gospel of Christ, and the grace of the Holy Ghost had no hand; wherein choice, liberty, or the love of God and goodness, had no share; whereof anguish or terror was the only cause; whereto relief from the horrible effects of sin, not hatred of sin itself, was the only motive ?

In opposition to this amazing supposition, we are told, that those who were unjust, must be unjust still ; and those who were filthy, must be filthy still.' We are told, that without shedding of blood there is no remission;' that the blood of Christ is that alone which taketh away sin;' and that there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin,' for the sins of such as transgress wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth,' of such as have trodden underfoot the Son of God, and have counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing; and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.' We are also assured, that “it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, andhave tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come; if they shall fall away to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.' If this is true of the wicked, even in this life, why shall it not be true of the damned after the final sentence shall be passed upon them?

There are others again, who maintain that God, after punishing the wicked in proportion to their sins, will annihilate them all. For an opinion so bold, and attended with consequences of such importance to the moral world, they give us two reasons, neither of them at all convincing. First, They say, our sins are temporary and finite, and therefore cannot justly be punished with endless torments. And, secondly, They judge, the wicked cannot be reformed in hell, nor ever rendered fit for an admission into heaven ; and therefore must be reduced to nothing. This piece of practical, . Atheism prevails strangely at present, even among men who would take it very ill to be told, they are no Christians.

Whether this opinion is founded in truth, or not, the best way is, according to our Saviour's rule, to judge of it by its fruits. Do these men, who have such a fellow-feeling with the devil and the damned, stand in no need of the in dulgence, afforded by their principle, to vice and wickedness of all kinds? Have they no reason to apprehend themselves concerned in the question about eternal torments ? Nothing in their consciences to whisper a wish to their judgments, that they themselves should hereafter be nothing? Is it all pure, abstracted, disinterested, pity for others, without the least mixture of compassion? How godlike is their goodness, who being free from sin themselves, and assured of their own happiness, find such tenderness for the sinner, for the reprobate, even for the author of all evil! This is indeed a very soothing opinion, and wonderfully serves to set forth both his good nature who holds it, and to mollify the severity of guilt in those who feel it. Were there no other reason but this, I should be apt to suspect its truth; for it seems to be a maxim, that nothing can be true, which, of its own nature, encourages sin ; as it does, that nothing can be false, which is necessary to the prevention or cure of sin; because, otherwise, sin would have a foundation in the nature of things, and one truth, at least, to countenance it; from whence it would follow, that an evil principle must have had a hand in the creation, and therefore probably in the government, of the world. If a good being supremely and uncontrollably governs the world, he must do every thing consistent with the freedom of his moral creatures, to prevent their falling into sin and misery. Should he so contrive things, as that temptations to sin should be great and present, and his rewards and punishments little and future, he could not expect to be well obeyed. That our temptations to sin are present, and also very strong, the nihilators themselves will readily grant; because they make it a reason for that indulgence their principle promises. Now is it not evident, that he, who believes the punishment of sin will be temporary, hath less, infinitely less, reason to resist temptation, than he who believes it will be eternal ? And is there not, therefore, infinitely less reason to hope, he will

never fall, or, if fallen, that he should rise again? If there is but one supreme, eternal Being; if that Being is infinitely good, just, and powerful; there must be an infinite reason against moral evil, that is, against the only possible evil; and this reason may lie as well in the infinity of punishment, as in that of reward. It can indeed be nothing else, but one or both. But creatures can neither enjoy nor suffer infinitely, any otherwise than in point of duration; which proves the eternity, either of the reward or punishment. Now, there is not so much reason for the eternity of a reward, which we can never deserve, as for the eternity of a punishment, which we may, if our sins are infinite. Since I have been here again obliged to mention the infinity of sin, I beg leave to be understood in this sense, not that such things are infinite as are committed under the ignorance of God's law, or without any tincture of contempt, or an intentional insult on his majesty ; but such only as give a character to our whole lives; such as we persevere in to the last, although we know God abhors them, and us for committing them ; such in a word, as on the whole, shew we are by choice the servants of Satan, and not of God.

A man of this stamp is infinitely guilty in the sight of God; because, as far as in him lies, he disappoints the whole intention of the creation. God made all things here for man, and man for himself. But if man turns 'every thing here to an occasion of sin, and himself to rebellion, how are the wise and gracious intentions of God to be answered ? Will a témporary punishment, followed by annihilation, make amends? No; God did not make him in vain; yet in vain he must have been made, if, after a life of sin, and a short punishment, he is to be unmade again. Surely, the infinitely wise Being who created and disposes all things, can turn this his creature, who would not be his servant, to a better account. He can even make him serve the

of righteousness by exhibiting in him to all eternity a wholesome example of his indignation at sin, that angels and men may see, and fear to offend. This way, and this only, God may bring universal good out of moral evil, and make either happy, or at least useful, servants of all his moral creatures ; insomuch that what St. Paul said, Rom. xi. to the Gentile converts, concerning the unbelieving Jews, may for ever be truly said to the just, concerning the benefits they will derive from the example made of the wicked ; 'If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world—behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but towards you goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also shall be cut off.'

purposes

But, over and above all this, God may apply the wicked to other particular uses, of which, at present, we can form no determinate idea. Throughout his universal empire he may have offices and stations of inconceivable use to the whole, which none can so well fill as the wicked ; because confinement, disgrace, and pain, may be as essential to those offices, as they are to the business of a miner, or a galleyslave. As, for instance, they are threatened in Scripture with a punishment of fire ; how do we know but the inscrutable phenomena of that element may arise from the agency of evil spirits, who, although chained themselves in the blackness of darkness toward the centre of a luminous body, may, in order to some small mitigation of their pain, so elaborate the combustible matter as to be the cause of that motion whereby the rays of light and heat are propelled towards, and from, the surface ? This supposition will always have a possibility to countenance it, till the nature of fire, and the activity of light, are discovered to be the effects of some other cause. But be this as it will, there is all the reason in the world for supposing, God obliges them to answer some other ends of their creation, besides that of exemplifying his justice; and, in order to it, assigns them such a situation as may render them physically, as well as morally, useful. The devil, who, from a prince in heaven, is become a tyrant in hell, is continued in being, not for the evil he is permitted, but for the good he is forced, to do. While he is himself the highest example of God's justice, he is also the punisher of those he tempts to sin ; and will, as the executioner of vengeance, be compelled to do more good, on the whole, to the moral world, than God will suffer him, as a tempter, to do evil. What other services he renders to God against his will, in his station as 'prince of the air,' we know not; but we are sure he does not hold that principality merely on the merit of doing mischief. To shut up this argument; we are not to conclude for the annihilation of the damned, till we are sure infinite wisdom and power can by no means serve itself either of them or their punishment.

It is to no manner of purpose, that the favourers of annihilation make use of the words death' and 'destruction,' as applied to the wicked in Scripture, in order to wrest a proof from thence of their falling into nothing. The word 'death’ is used by the sacred writers in three different senses. Sometimes it signifies 'a death unto sin,' sometimes 'a separation of soul and body,' and sometimes a separation of the soul from God,' in order to its eternal confinement in hell, which is called the second death. The first happens to men while yet alive. The second, when the soul and body are disunited. And the last is called death ; not because it is attended with annihilation, which hath no analogy with any kind of death; but metaphorically; because, as in a natural death, the body is cut off from the soul, its only principle of life, so, in this, the soul is cut off from God, who is the life, that is, the happiness and joy, of the soul. If a wicked soul ceased to exist on its departure from the body, how could it be judged, or sent away into punishment with the devil and his angels at the last day?' Now, after this, we are assured, there shall be no more death;' that is, no new deaths of any kind; so that, if there is to be an annihilation of the damned, no argument is to be drawn for it from any use of the word death' in Scripture.

Neither does the word 'destruction' afford them any advantage, there being no one place in all the Bible where it signifies an absolute annihilation of any substance; no, not even when it is called ' utter destruction,' as in Zech. xiv. 11. Indeed, when it is applied to worldly power, sin, death, &c. which are either but nonentities, or mere modes of things, it sometimes, not always, intimates a total abolition of the subject. When it is applied to kingdoms or cities, it threatens dissolution to societies, and ruin to houses; that is, dissipation to the mere assemblages; but by no means annihilation to the men or materials whereof they consist. When it is applied to men simply, it often signifies disappointment to their schemes, downfal to their ambition or power; or a substitution of poverty and affliction, for wealth and pleasure; never more than a natural death. But when

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