« PreviousContinue »
man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." And v. 25, 26. Rom. ii. 6, 8, and 9th. Cor. v. 10. James, ii. 13; and Rev. xiv. 10; and xxii. 12; and many other passages, which very plainly, I think, contradict your assertion, that the wicked who are punished in the future world, are not punished according to their demerits; or, what is the same thing, are delivered from those punishments which are threatened against the violators of the law; and, at the judgment, are sent away in everlasting punishment. Can you think, sir, of any greater punishment than that which is threatened in these passages I have quoted, and which the wicked are said to suffer? If there is any greater punishment, threatened any where in scripture than the punishment which these scriptures declare, the wicked shall actually suffer in a future world, it has hitherto escaped my observation and knowledge. But you say all mankind will be delivered from the curse of the law by Christ; that future punishment is inflicted on the wicked to make them better and bring them to repentance; of course they are forgiven, and do not suffer "that sentence of condemnation, which the just demerit of sin requires. "if you can reconcile this with the word of truth I would be glad to see it; but I confess it is beyond me to do it. If the wicked have judgment without mercy; do not come out of prison, till they have paid the very last mite, and so on; and yet do not receive that sentence of condemnation which they deserve, but are delivered from it, I certainly do not know, how any man will ever be able to understand the language of the Bible.
There is another difficulty I will just mention here. Our Saviour, you recollect, says there is one sin which shall never be forgiven. Matt. xii. 32. "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Now all who are saved are saved by grace through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christ is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Surely then, none can be saved by Christ, only those to whom he forgives sin. And if the blasphemer against the Holy Ghost is never forgiv
en, neither in this world, neither in the world to come, how can he be saved by "the only name given whereby we must be saved." But not to insist on this last difficulty, how you will settle the first I have mentioned I am not a ble to guess. You must positively contradict scripture, or you must acknowledge you are not correct in supposing that all will be delivered from the curse of the law; or, lastly, you must suppose the curse is something different from the punishment, which the wicked do suffer in a future world; and of course something different from any thing which is threatened in the scriptures. It will follow, then, that the curse of the divine law is no where threatened in the law, nor in any part of the word of God. But if even you could devise a way by which you might fancy you could get out all the others from their deserved punishment; yet the blasphemer against the Holy Ghost, who is never to be forgiven, would stand in your way.
Perhaps, then, you will say, the law must take its course with him, if he cannot be forgiven, and he must pay the utmost farthing. The question will then return, what is the punishment due to the demerit of sin? It cannot be that punishment which the wicked suffer in hell," in order for their own good, that they may be made better, and brought to repentance. For according to you, they are to be delivered from that punishment shortly, by Jesus Christ, and made happy in heaven. Christ delivers from the curse of the law; of course, those whom he delivers, do not suffer that curse. If then the curse of the law be not that misery which the wicked do actually suffer in the future world, it must be either a greater temporal punishment, or endless misery. But, sir, if the penalty of the divine law be any where threatened in the law, (and I présume it is no where else to be found) it cannot be afeer temporal punishment than the damned in hell do actually suffer; for no other punishment is any where threatened in the scrip
Now, sir, I believe you must of necessity take one of three courses. You must continue to affirm, as you have affirmed in your second answer to my questions, that those who are punished in a future world, are finally delivered from punishment, and carried to heaven by the merits of
Christ; consequently do not suffer according to their demerits; and plainly and positively contradict a vast number of threatenings, not only of the law, but also a vast many positive declarations of Christ and his disciples, that the wicked are punished according to their works, that no mercy is shewed them: or, 2d, you must say, they do suffer all the law threatened them; have satisfied all its demands; have paid the very last mite; and come out of hell on the score of justice and not of mercy, and go to heaven without any help from Jesus Christ. For it would be idle to talk of shewing mercy to those who were no longer guilty, and against whom the law has no demands. They come out of hell on the footing of strict justice; and can claim exemption from punishment on the footing of strict justice; and are conformed to the law of God, and in friendship with their Creator, and must of course be happy. But on this supposition more absurdities present themselves than I shall have time to enumerate. If any men do satisfy the divine law, and are received to happiness, they are received, not on account of what Christ has done, but on account of legal righteousness of their own. Besides, they are not saved from any thing which is threatened in the divine. law. Universal salvation, therefore, is an unmeaning term; and that all men are raised up from their defectible state, is also without meaning. They are punished in hell till justice is satisfied; and they, (if you will permit me to quote one of your brethren) are whitened in hell, till they become fit for heaven! There is, I believe, but one supposition more which you can make; it is that the curse threatened in the divine law is endless misery. Thus, sir, I have done for the present with your first answer.
Your fourth answer will now claim some attention. You write thus: I believe a future punishment is inflicted for the same, purpose as punishment in the present life. I believe the sinner who is subject to this punishment, with other means, is made better, and brought to repentance.". This is plain enough, only I do not know what you mean by the "other means" of which you speak; but that is no matter. You go here, I presume, on the supposition that the punishment which is inflicted on the wicked in a future world, is merely disciplinary. I make this supposi
tion, because you say in your second answer to my ques tion, "I believe all mankind will be delivered from this curse [curse of the divine law] by the only name given whereby men can be saved."
If all mankind, as you say you believe, will be delivered from the curse of this law, it must follow then, that no one will ever suffer or be punished according to his demerits; of course, they will not suffer all which according to strict justice might be inflicted on them. I have already hinted that this sentiment is at war with the word of truth, which you have professed to follow. That says they are judged according to their works are tormented day and night forever and ever; have judgment without mercy; are confined in prison till they have paid the very last mite; and no greater punishment is threatened in the law, than that which the seriptures declare the wicked shall suffer in hell. But this argument is so plain I need not pursue it further. Your idea that the torments of hell are inflicted on man in a future state merely as a wholesome discipline to make them better and bring them to repentance, must be considered.
I had always supposed that the language of the Bible was intended to be understood by common people; and that it meant something different, when, what a common man, like myself, would suppose, were the most dreadful threatenings, and curses, and woes, pronounced on wicked men, from what it did when it spake of the chastisement of the child of God. Why, on your plan, are those who are sent to hell, said to be cursed; to lament; to be cast off forever; to be reprobates; to have judgment without mercy? Surely, they are lost, or cast off, or cursed, or out of the reach of mercy, according to your plan, in no other sense than the children of God are while in this probationary state. For some reason which you have not mentioned, they, you suppose, are sent to hell, and are put under more powerful means of grace. Now, as we understand lan-guage, can this be said to be a curse? It is a painful trial, no doubt; so it is for the sinner to be under conviction in this world. But should I see an unregenerate sinner under the most poignant anguish from a sense of his sirs, I could not believe that he was accursed, nor that God had
withdrawn his mercy from him; and even if I could know that his probationary state would be lengthened out to a million of years, and the sinner would continue till the last hour of his prebation, in the most intense pain, if this pain were absolutely necessary to make him better, and bring him to repentance, and qualify him for heaven, I could not call him accursed, nor believe that God had ceased to show him mercy. Certainly, if it be a mercy or a blessing to carry an intelligent being to heaven, and make him eternally happy there, it must be a blessing and not a curse to use those means which are absolutely necessary to qualify him for that place. If a man were sick, and must die unless some blood were taken from him, although the taking of the blood might be an operation somewhat painful, yet no one, I think, would call it a cursed remedy, if nothing else could save the man's life. If your construction of the scriptures be correct, they speak a language totally different from what we suppose they mean. By we mean common men. By a curse common men mean an absolute evil, and those who are cursed suffer real evil; but to put men under an administration of grace cannot be called an evil. It is certainly a great good, an unspeakable blessing, if no other means can bring them to endless felicity. Hear David; "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord," &c. Also, St. Paul, "For whom the Lord loveth he chastenetk, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth: if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."
Now, sir, I would ask, why this distinction in the language of the Bible, between saints who are disciplined on the earth, and the wicked who are sent to hell, to be put there under a course of discipline? If their punishment is inflicted on them for their own good, everlasting.good, why are they not said to be blessed? Why are they not called sons and said to be loved of God? It appears to be the idea of the Apostle, that there were some who did not receive mere chastisement, whom he calls bastards; all who are sons partake of chastisement; the wicked in hell, then, if they are only chastised for their own good, are sons, and