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ernment. and injurious to his creatures. He must place, and preserve the sinner precisely in that situation where his individual happiness would be most advanced, whatever injury may be sustained by other beings, or even by the universe itself. How perfectly inconsistent these things would be with the common feelings and judgment of mankind, needs not to be shown. Nor is the opinion under consideration, more opposed to human judgment, than it is to scripture. Let any one read the divine declarations concerning the future punishment of ungodly men, and say, whether they describe merely parental dicipline, designed only for the recovery and final felicity of the sufferer. “Fear not them, who kill the body and af. ter that have no more, that they can do: but fear him, who, when he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” The wicked, it is said, “shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies; and will reward them that hate me.” Christ it is said, “shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them, who know not God.” The apostle speaks of “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the former is represented, as requesting, that the latter might be sent to afford seme alleviation to his extreme sufferings. Here was the fairest opportunity to suggest the sentiment, which we endeavor to oppose. Why did not Abraham say, what was well known to him, if this sentiment be just, “Your punishment is designed for your amendment; and, as soon as you repent, it will expire. After which, you will participate the same felicity and glory, which are now enjoyed
by the saints.” Instead of this Abraham replied, “Between
us and you, there is a great gulf fixed; so that they, who would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, who would come from thence.”
But it has lately been suggested, that there is something in scripture phraseology, which favors the idea of disciplinary punishment. “The word %02ačely, rendered to punish, in Matt. 25, and other places, properly signifies, we are told, correction, inflicted for the benefit of the offender.” That this criticism has no foundation ; and that this word has the same general signification, as our English word, punish, will appear by the following evidence. In the first Olynthiac of Demosthenes, speaking of those who should be found iniquitous in the war against Philip, he advises, that they should be punished, τους δ' αδικουνται κολαζειν, Considering the manner, in which the Athenians were in the habit of punishing such delinquents, frequently with death, it is impossible to suppose, that the orator is speaking of correction, inflicted for the offenders benefit. Surely persons were not put to death for their own advantage. Lysias, in his oration against Eratosthenes, advises, in regard to the thirty tyrants, that they should be punished by death. No one can doubt the meaning of this passage or imagine, that Lysias was recommending means, by which the oppressors of Athens might improve their morals. The use of the terms, in the New Testament, which are translated punishment and to punisk is by no means such as to support the criticism, against which we object.
Eternity of future Punishment.
PREVIOUSLY to bringing forward the positive proof, which supports the doctrine of endless punishment, it may be necessary to notice the two following objections, in addition to those, which were considered in the last lecture.
1. It is believed by some, that those passages of scripture, which speak of the wicked, as being consumed, destroyed &c. do not relate to the persons, but to the crimes of men. By such passages they understand, that the vices and bad dispositions of men will be destroyed, while men themselves, thus happily delivered from guilt, will be raised to partake of honor, and life eternal. If this sentiment be true, you perceive, that the persons of the wicked will not only not receive eternal punishment, but will receive no punishment at all.
To show the absurdity of this opinion, many words cannot be required. The language, in which the laws of God are expressed, is, in general, similar to that which is used by human legislators. In civil laws, the crime is stated, and the punishment attached to it. Persons, who steal.
rob, or break open houses, shall be imprisoned, placed it. the pillory, set on the gallows, or punished with death. So the laws of God, as stated in the divine oracles, are, “The soul, that sinneth, it shall die.—He, that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.—Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.-The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Now, should we allow, for a moment, that there is no absurdity in the idea of punishing sins, in the abstract, it would still be evident, that the language of scripture no more favors such an opinion, than the language of human laws. And a person, taking up a book of statutes, might as well understand, that neither dishenest persons, northeives, nor murderers were threatened; but only knavery, theft, and murder in the abstract, as he could understand the scriptures to threaten sin, and not the sinner. We ought not, at any time, but especially when attempting to explain the scriptures, to use language without ideas. Now, let it be inquired, what is meant by those, who say, that the sins of wicked men, and not wicked men themselves, will be punished, thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, the place, prepared for the devil and his angels? It is no more conceivable, that sins, abstracted from their authors, should be punished in another state, than in the present. Suppose then, that one person threatens the life of another; the guilty person goes free; but the threatening itself is taken to prison, or perhaps is required to give bonds for good behavior. Another person is guilty of forgery; he himself is to be acquitted; but the crime is to be branded or condemned to hard labor. A third person is guilty of perjury; the person himself goes free, as in the former cases; but the perjury is punished with imprisonment, perpetual infamy or death. That reflecting persons should be satisfied, when the most alarming denunciations of scripture are explained in a manner, so palpably absurd. is not within the limits of possibility.
II. Some persons, unwilling to encounter the difficulties, attending the doctrine of universal salvation, and still rejecting that of endless punishment, have embraced, as a medium, the belief of annihilation. Of them, who cherish this opinion, some believe, that the wicked will be annihilated at death; while others suppose, that they will previously endure a punishment, proportionate to their crimes. Each of these opinions will be briefly examined : and I. That, which considers the existence of wicked men, as ending at death. Against this opinion are the following objections. In many passages of scripture, the wicked are represented, as retaining their existence after the dissolution of the body. The rich sensualist is declared by Christ to be in torments. But annihilation, which destroys existence, most evidently precludes the possibility of suffering. Under this particular might be mentioned, the words of Christ, which declare, that in the place of punishment, there is “weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” That actions should be attributed to creatures, not in existence, is a glaring solecism. Again, the wicked, we are assured, will appear at the day of judgment: “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another.” Some will be condemned, and sent to immediate punishment. Now, this would be wholly impossible, if the wicked were annihilated at death. The dead could not stand before God, and be judged out of the things, written in the books, if they had been previously struck out of existence. Further, we are informed not only that all men will stand before God; but that “all will receive according as their works have been.” For some sinners it will be more tolerable, than for others, as there will be a difference in the number of stripes inflicted. But annihilation at death precludes every difference of this kind.