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would be as far from answering to his infinitely superior, excellent, and important character, and properly vindicating it, as if no punishment at all were inflicted; yea, it would be infinitely worse than none, and really degrade his character, and be a reproach to him. In this case, a just punishment must be answerable to the infinitely amiable, worthy, and important character which is injured and blasphemed; that is, such a punishment as is suited to express the greatness of the injury done, and the infinite worthiness of him who is injured, and thus take off the reproach cast upon him. But this can be no less than an endless punishment. Therefore such a punishment is just; it is deserved, and must be inflicted, if there be any punishment at all, in order to vindicate the divine character.

But there are other objections against the infinite evil of sin, and the sinner's desert of endless punishment, which must be considered.

OBJ. 1. It is said, that as all creatures are finite, they are not capable of infinite guilt, or of committing a crime that has an infinite degree of evil in it, or that is in any respect infinite.

Ans. 1. This objection is obviated by what has been said in proving the infinite evil of sin, viz., that this results from the greatness and excellence of the being against which it is committed ; and depends not at all on the degree of existence of him who offers the abuse. If a finite creature can affront and abuse his Creator, who is infinitely great and worthy, he can be guilty of an infinite crime; because the greatness of the injury does not arise from the greatness of him who offers it, but from the character of him who is injured.

Ans. 2. If a creature should actually put an end to his Maker's existence, or dethrone him and destroy his kingdom, his crime would be truly infinite, all will grant. But to desire and attempt this, and do that which would certainly effect it, were it not prevented by a superior power, is to be guilty of the same crime, so far as the criminal is concerned, and therefore must be infinitely great, and deserve the same punishment as if the effect had actually followed. The infinite magnitude of the crime, in this case, does not in the least degree depend upon the greatness of the criminal, or the degree of existence of which he is possessed.

Ans. 3. Agreeably to this, when a crime is committed, men do not first inquire into the greatness or smallness of the perpetrator, in order to determine the magnitude of the crime; but consider the nature of the crime, and the injury done, and who is injured, etc. If an abject, dependent slave burns his master's house, and destroys him and his whole family, or attempts to do it, his inferiority and dependence on his master do not extenuate his crime in the judgment of men, but rather aggravate it, and no one will offer this as a plea in his favor, or as a reason for a mitigation of his punishment.

And here it may be observed, that it is equally unreason. able, and contrary to the common sense and practice of men, to

say that an infinite crime cannot be committed in the short space of human life, and that men cannot deserve endless punishment for the sins of a few years; for, as the infinity of the crime does not depend on the greatness of the offender, so neither does it depend on the length of time in which it is perpetrated. In judging of crimes, and the degree of punishment they deserve, men do not inquire what length of time was spent in committing them; but what is the nature of them, and what is done. And men are condemned to death, or imprisonment during life, for crimes which were perpetrated in a few minutes.

OBJ. 2. It is said, if every sin be an infinite evil, a crime of infinite magnitude, then all crimes must be equal; for none can be greater than infinite; which is contrary to reason and Scripture.

ANSWER. This consequence does not follow from the doctrine of the infinite evil of sin, as it has been stated. Two crimes may be both infinite in their criminality and ill desert, as committed against God, and yet, in other respects, one may be greatly aggravated and criminal above the other, being committed against more light and greater warnings, and an abuse of greater favors. They both deserve endless punishment, but one deserves a greater degree of punishment than the other. It is easy to conceive two persons deserving and suffering endless punishment, and yet one deserving and suffering a much greater degree of pain or punishment than the other. And is it not as easy to conceive of two persons being infinitely guilty, as rebels against the Monarch of the universe, and yet, in other respects, the rebellion of one be much more criminal than that of the other? This may be illustrated by the following similitude: Two cords or cylinders extended without end, and, in this respect, both equally infinite, may be of very different diameters, and, in that respect, one much larger than the other.

OBJ. 3. If sin be an infinite evil because committed against an infinite object, then the virtue and holiness of creatures must be infinitely good, excellent, and praiseworthy, because exercised towards the same infinite object, which is too absurd to be admitted.

Answer. This consequence does by no means follow.

Creatures can do more mischief, by rebellion, and take more from God, than they can do good, or give to him, by their obedience. Here there is an infinite difference. It has been shown that sin takes all from God, and in its very nature and tendency destroys all the good in the universe, and would actually do it, were it not counteracted by omnipotence, infinite wisdom, and goodness; but the obedience and holiness of creatures is not to be estimated by the object towards which it is exercised, but by the subject, by him who exercises it, or the degree and quantity given to God. All that a finite creature can give is but finite; he can give no more than himself, and therefore what he gives is infinitely short of infinite - it is as nothing compared with the object towards which it is exercised, or to whom it is given.

Obj. 4. Though God be infinitely great, excellent, and worthy, yet finite minds can have no conception of that which is infinite. The infinity of God is altogether inconceivable to them, and out of their sight, and all their ideas must be limited. But that of which they can have no idea or conception can have no influence on the mind, and therefore cannot increase the obligation of creatures so as to render it greater than if the object was finite; consequently, a creature cannot be under infinite obligations from God's infinite greatness and excellence.

Answer. It is certainly not true that a finite mind can have no conception of an infinite being different from that which he has of one who is finite; because this is contrary to our experience in the consciousness of the ideas that are in our own minds. If men could have no idea of that which is infinite different from that which they have of a finite object, they could not reason, nor speak an intelligible word about it, which the objector himself thinks he can do, and is actually doing it while he is making the objection. And if we consult our own feelings, we find that we feel otherwise towards that which we conceive to be infinite than we could if we thought it was not so. The instance before us will sufficiently prove this. Are we not conscious that we ought to be affected with the infinite being and perfection of God, inexpressibly otherwise than towards any finite being? And if so, then bis infinity, or his being infinitely great and good, brings an obligation on us to respect and love him, which we could not be under were he not infinite. And if that which is infinite, viz., infinite greatness, authority, and excellence, binds us, and the greatness of the obligation arises from the infinity of the object, then it must be an infinite obligation.

When we think of future life and happiness, we easily and necessarily distinguish between temporary and endless happi

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ness, and prefer the latter to the former feeling, in some sense, the infinite difference. And when we attend to infinite or endless punishment, and argue for or against it, we feel that this is infinitely more dreadful than any finite evil, and cannot but dread it unspeakably more, and be sensible that it affords an inexpressibly stronger motive not to rebel against God than any finite punishment can; and that it is infinitely greater folly and madness to provoke God to cast us into such punishment than to expose ourselves to one infinitely less. Therefore, the reason and experience of every man, if properly attended to, will teach him that the objection is without foundation.

The evidence that sin is properly an infinite evil, and has in its nature infinite ill desert, has now been considered, and objections have been examined and obviated; and the reader is to judge whether it may not be proved, even to a demonstration, that all sin deserves infinite or endless punishment. But as the infinite evil of sin appears from another consideration, it may be further observed,

6. The atonement which has been made for sin, in order to the sinner's being pardoned, shows that there is infinite ill desert in sin.

They who acknowledge the divinity of Christ, and, consequently, his infinite greatness and worthiness, must also acknowledge that the atonement he has made for sin, by his obedience and sufferings, has infinite worth and merit, and is as great and considerable as the person who gave himself to be the propitiation for the sins of men. But if sin be not an infinite evil, then this atonement is infinitely more and greater than was necessary in order to open the way for the pardon of it; and the Mediator is infinitely greater and more worthy than it was necessary he should be, in order to make atonement for sin. One end of the atonement which Christ made for sin was, to show what evil there is in sin, and its ill desert. But this is every way sufficient to atone for sin which has infinite ill desert; therefore, this declares sin to be an infinite evil, or to deserve infinite or endless punishment. Consequently, to deny that there is infinite evil in sin, is, in effect, to deny the divinity of our Savior, or the truth which is declared in the atonement which he has made for sin.

It being thus evident, beyond all contradiction, that all sin is infinitely criminal, and deserves endless punishment, so that God may justly inflict it, and must do it, if he lays judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, and punishes sinners according to their desert, it hence appears further evi. dent and certain, that this punishment will be inflicted on all who die in their sins, from those passages of Scripture which

declare that God will reward them according to their works, and inflict a punishment answerable to their desert.

This is often and abundantly asserted in Scripture. From many instances of this, the following are selected: “ Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him; for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” (Isa. iii. 11.) " Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.(Ps. xxviii. 4.) 6 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Matt. xvi. 27.) “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath, and reve. lation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds; tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” (Rom. ii. 5.) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. v. 10.) “ And the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works." (Rev. xx. 12.) “ Behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. xxii. 12.)

All sin deserves endless punishment; this is the proper wages of sin, and God may most justly inflict it. God has said, in his word, that he will punish sinners in the future state, according to their ill desert; therefore, they will be punished forever.

Secondly. It must be considered whether any good end can be answered by inflicting an endless punishment on creatures.

If no good end can be answered by thus punishing, and if it be not, all things considered, necessary for the good of the whole that any creature should be made miserable forever, then it is not consistent with wisdom and goodness to inflict such a punishment upon any, though they may deserve it, and no injustice would be done to them by inflicting it. The infinitely wise and good Governor of the world always has some wise and good end in all he does, and never punishes his creatures merely for the sake of punishing, or only to make them miserable. This is strongly asserted by God himself, when he says, “ As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked;" and, therefore, we may be sure he will not punish them forever, though they deserve it, unless it be necessary to prevent greater evil and answer the best and most important purposes.

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