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II. It may be queried, whether it be not undesirable, and must not be considered as an unhappiness, that all this good cannot take place without any suffering. Would not this be infinitely better and more agreeable, if it were possible? And surely this is possible with God. If it be not, must not this be crossing and the source of uneasiness and regret to the infinitely good Being, and to all his benevolent friends!
ANS 1. It is certain that God hath taken this method to promote the highest good of the universe, by ordering things so that a great degree of sin and suffering should exist in order to it. Infinite benevolence seeks the greatest good of the whole; therefore, if this could be effected as well, and to as great a degree, without any sin or suffering, God would have prevented the existence of these; consequently, all this sin and misery do take place because they are necessary to the greatest good of the whole, so that it could not be obtained in any other
way. All must allow that God will answer some good end by all the sin and misery in the world, which could not be so well answered without them; or confess that his government and administrations are imperfect and unwise; and if the evil that has actually taken place is designed, and necessary to answer the most important and best end, then it may be as necessary, for the same reason, that it should continue forever, to answer the same end to the highest degree; and that it is so, and the reason of it, has been shown above. This, therefore, being a known fact, cannot be disputed; and we may hence conclude there is nothing undesirable and disagreeable in it; yea, we are certain there is not, if it be desirable that the greatest good of the whole should take place.
2. Infinite power is not an ability to effect impossibles, or to make contradictions consistent; for not to be able to do this is no defect of power, as these are not the objects of power any more than sound is the object of sight; and there is nothing disagreeable in this, but, on the contrary, it would be undesirable there should be any such power, were it possible.
It is impossible that a creature should be made capable of enjoying an infinite degree of happiness in a limited duration - just as impossible as it is that he should be a God; nor can creatures be happy unless some method be taken, and means used, to make them so. Should any one ask why every creature is not made to enjoy as great a degree of happiness as his Creator, and why there are not millions of crea. tures more than there are, or ever will be, (for God cannot create so many that this question may not be asked “Why did he not create more ?") and why they might not all be thus
happy, without any way being taken, or means used, to make them so, and whether it will not be eternally considered as an unhappiness, and matter of grief and regret, that all this cannot be, he may be answered, that all these are, in their own nature, absolutely impossible, as they imply a contradiction, and, therefore, not desirable, but the contrary; for what is impossible, and implies a contradiction, is not desirable, and, therefore, this can give no uneasiness to a perfect mind.
And is not this a sufficient and satisfactory answer to the query proposed ? A Being of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness can be under no restraint; and the highest possible good of the universe will be effected by ways and means that are most wise and best. This is all that a perfectly good mind can wish and desire; and, therefore, there can be no possible ground of the least uneasiness to such a mind, but every thing is perfectly suited to give it all the enjoyment and happiness that can be desired.
III. If it be granted that endless punishment were necessary, and would answer all the good ends which have been mentioned had there been no Mediator and Redeemer, yet, since the Son of God has, in the human nature, suffered the curse, even that which, considering his infinite greatness and dignity, is equivalent to the eternal sufferings of men, - so that God may be just, and maintain and honor his own character, law, and government, in pardoning and granting complete salvation to sinners for Christ's sake, and in his sufferings may be seen clearly displayed all those things that have been mentioned as manifested in the endless punishment of sinners, — and since the merits of Christ are as sufficient for the salvation of all, as of only a part of the human race, since all this is true, it is queried, Why is it necessary or proper that any of mankind should suffer eternal punishment? Are not all the ends of suffering answered in the sufferings of Christ? What need, then, is there of endless punishment?
ANSWER. It is granted that the mediation and sufferings of Christ have so far answered the law, and the end of the punishment therein denounced against sin, that God may, consistent with his character and law, pardon and save every one of the human race who believes in Christ, being heartily pleased with his mediatorial character and works, as by his sufferings for sinners the same and as much regard and honor is paid to the divine character, law, and government, as if they had suffered forever; and hereby are manifested the infinite evil of sin, and the infinite ill desert and misery of the sinner, and the wonderful love and grace of God; and, therefore, in this view and sense, what Christ hath done and suffered for man is as sufficient for the salvation of any one as of another, and for all as for part of the human race.
Nevertheless, this does not lay God under the least obligation actually to save all; and it still remains for his infinite wisdom and goodness to determine this: whether all shall be saved, or only part of mankind; and if but part, how great a part, and what individuals shall be included in that number, so as shall, in the best manner and highest degree, answer the ends of redemption, and promote the greatest good of the whole.
And though the sufferings of Christ do lay a sufficient foundation for the salvation of sinners, and make a bright and glorious display of those truths which have been mentioned relating to the divine perfections, law, sin, etc., yet the eternal sufferings of some of the human race may be necessary to make and continue a manifestation of these things to the best advantage, and so as to promote the greatest happiness of the blessed; yea, in all respects as necessary as if Christ had not suffered; necessary in order to complete, or fully accomplish, the ends of Christ's sufferings; so that redemption by Christ would, without this, be very imperfect, as all the ends of divine wisdom and goodness could not be answered if all were saved. And that this is really
And that this is really so is abundantly evident from what has been said, concerning the ends that will be answered by eternal punishment, in the preceding section.
The sufferings of Christ are a peculiar and striking manifestation of the sacredness of the divine law, God's hatred of sin, and the infinite evil and malignity of it - a manifestation which could not have been so fully made, had not Christ suffered as he did. Nevertheless, the eternal sufferings of sinners are suited, in many respects, to instruct and affect creatures as the sufferings of Christ alone could not; and the former are necessary to be joined with the latter, that the display and instruction may be most full and complete. The sufferings of Christ were temporary, and soon over, and, though they never will be forgotten, yet they cannot be so clearly in view as the present, constant, endless sufferings of the wicked; and the latter will be the means of keeping up a more clear and fresh view of the former than could otherwise be, and, at the same time, will be a constant, eternal exhibition before their eyes of the infinite odiousness and misery of the sinner when sin has its natural and deserved course and issue, which is so necessary in order to a proper, full, and most affecting view of the power and worthiness of Christ, the efficacy of his mediation, the greatness of the salvation by him, and his infinite love and grace in dying to save sinners, which has been considered above.
It hence appears that the sufferings of Christ for sinners, and the abundant sufficiency of his merit for their salvation, render eternal punishment not the less necessary, but in all respects more so, and unspeakably more important and useful, as it is necessary to make this salvation most complete and glorious, and answers more important ends than it could had there been no salvation for sinners by a Mediator.
But this may be further illustrated by the following particulars :
1. If all the human race were saved, it never could be seen, as now it will be, how exceeding perverse and obstinate men are in their sins. In the eternal destruction of men this will be set in the most clear and convincing light. God is using the greatest variety of means with men of different ages, nations, and capacities, and in different and various circumstances, suited in the best manner to influence them, and bring them to repentance, urging them by infinitely weighty arguments and motives to embrace the offered Savior, (which, by the way, could not be in any measure so strong and urgent, were there no eternal destruction for the disobedient,) and yet, in opposition to all these, they refuse the offered salvation, abuse and trample upon divine love and mercy and the Savior himself, and madly rush on to eternal perdition. This will make a most bright and endless discovery of the infatuation, madness and malignity of sin, and the obstinacy and vileness of the sinner, which must have remained in a great measure out of sight, and never could have been so fully known and realized by the saved, were there no awful instances of this, who shall suffer the consequences of it forever. If all did believe in Christ and accept of the offered salvation, it never could have been so fully known that men were obstinate and vile enough to slight this salvation and trample on Christ, under the greatest light and advantages, and perseveringly choose eternal destruction rather than submit to the Savior.
It is of the greatest importance that this should be seen forever, that the redeemed may have a constant and increasing sense of the nature of sin, and know how far they were from salvation, notwithstanding all possible means and advantages, and realize the infinite power and grace of Christ in their recovery; that they may give the glory to God which is due to him, and enjoy redeeming love and grace in its full extent, sweetness, and glory.
2. If all were saved, the real need and absolute necessity of an atonement for sin in order to the salvation of men would not appear in so clear a light as it will do in the eternal punishment of the impenitent. If all were saved, they would be
in some degree sensible of the need of this atonement; but it would not appear so clear and certain that there is no other possible way of salvation, and that all must have been miserable forever, had it not been for the atonement and redemption of Christ, as it now will, when all that slight and reject this atonement, through this life, actually perish forever, without any possible remedy.
3. If all mankind were saved, the sovereignty of divine grace in the salvation of men would not be so manifest as it now will be.
Indeed, grace or mere favor is, in its own nature, sovereign grace; that is, it is exercised towards those who have not the least claim or desert of it. And the further a creature is from any desert of the favor granted, and the more unworthy and ill deserving he is, and the more he has done to provoke dis. pleasure and wrath, the more sovereign is the grace; and, therefore, the more the creature's ill desert appears, the more the favor granted appears to be mere sovereign grace, and the greater manifestation there is of the riches and glory of this.
But this will be made to appear in the strongest light to the redeemed, when they behold those in everlasting misery, as their just and deserved portion, who are no more ill deserving than themselves, and know that mere sovereign grace hath made the distinction, since, had it not been for this grace, they themselves would infallibly have run on to destruction, and been as sinful and miserable as those who are actually lost, notwithstanding the offers of salvation made to them, and the means and advantages they enjoyed. Nothing can be better suited to keep this in the clearest view forever than this actual distinction made by divine grace in saving some, while others are given over to deserved everlasting destruction. And without this, or were all saved, the manifestation of this would have been comparatively dark, and very imperfect.
From this view of the matter, it appears easy to see how important and necessary it is that all should not be saved, in order that the Redeemer and redemption might appear in their true greatness and splendor, and the highest manifestation of glorious, sovereign grace be made in the salvation of sinners, and the greatest happiness of the saved promoted; though, at the same time, it is not pretended that any are able to discern all the ends that divine wisdom and goodness will answer by this dispensation.
IV. If it be granted that it is necessary, in order to render the work of redemption most complete and glorious, and the redeemed happy to the highest degree, that all should not be saved, yet it is queried, why there should be so few saved,