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conscience, providence, and religion, fall of eternal punishment, which God has threatenthemselves, and, if these systems fall, whated to inflict on all, who finally reject this pray, become of all these perfections of God, great sacrifice. Having allowed the obligawhich you pretend to defend? tions under which the incarnation lays mankind, everlasting punishment seems to me to have nothing in it contrary to divine justice. No, the burning lake with its smoke, eternity with its abysses, devils with their rage, and all hell with all its horrors, seem to
The objection taken from the liberty of God might seem to have some colour, were hell spoken of only in passages where precepts were enforced by threatenings but attend to the places, in which Jesus Christ speaks of it. Read, for example, the twenty-me not at all too rigorous for the punishment fifth of Matthew, and there you will perceive of men, who have trodden under foot the Son are facts, prophecies, and exact and circum of God, counted the blood of the covenant an stantial narrations. There it is said, the world unholy thing, crucified the Son of God afresh, shall end, Jesus Christ shall descend from and done despite unto the Spirit of grace,' heaven, there shall be a judgment of mankind, Heb. x. 29; and vi. 6. Were we to examine the righteous shall be rewarded, the wicked in this manner each part of the objection shall be punished, shall go away into ever- opposed against our doctrine, we should lasting punishment.' How can these things open a second source of solutions to anbe reconciled to the truth of God, if he fail swer it. to execute any one of these articles?
3. The doctrine of degrees of punishment affords us a third. I have often observed with astonishment the little use, that Christians in general make of this article, since the doctrine itself is taught in Scripture in the clearest manner. When we speak of future punishment, we call it all hell indifferently, and without distinction. We conceive of all the wicked as precipitated into the same gulf, loaded with the same clains, devoured by the same worm. We do not seem to think, there will be as much difference in their state as there had been in their natural capacities, their exterior means of obtaining knowledge, and their various aids to assist them in their pursuit of it. We do not recollect, that, as perhaps there may not be two men in the world, who have alike partaken the gifts of Heaven, so probably there will not be two wicked spirits in hell enduring an equal degree of punishment. There is an extreme difference between a heathen and a Jew; there is an extreme distance between a Jew and a Christian; and a greater still between a Christian and a heathen. The gospel rule is, 'Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, Luke xii. 48. There must, therefore, be as great a difference in the other life between the punishment of a Jew and that of a pagan, between that of a pagan and that of a Jew, between that of a pagan and that of a Christian, as there is between the states in which God has placed them on earth. Moreover, there is a very great difference between one Jew and another, between pagan and pagan, Christian andhristian. Each has in his own economy more or less of talents. There must therefore be a like difference between the punishment of one Christian and that of another, the punishment of one Jew and that of another Jew, the suffering of one pagan and that of another: and consequently, when we say, a pagan wise according to his own economy, and a Christian foolish according to his, are both in hell, we speak in a very vague and equivocal manner.
To how many difficulties have men submitted by not attending to this doctrine of degrees of punishment! Of what use, for example, might it have been to answer objections concerning the destiny of pagans! As eternal punishment has been considered under imuges, that excite all the most excruciating pains, it could not be imagined how God should
The difficulty taken from the goodness of God vanishes, when we rectify popular notions of this excellence of the divine nature. Goodness in men is a virtue of constitution, which makes them suffer, when they see their fellow-creatures in misery, and which excites them to relieve them. In God it is a perfection independent in its origin, free in its execution, and always restrained by laws of inviolable equity, and exact severity.
Justice is not incompatible with eternal punishment. It is not to be granted, that a sin committed in a limited time ought not to be punished through an infinite duration. It is not the length of time employed in committing a crime, that determines the degree and the duration of its punishment, it is the turpitude and atrociousness of it. The justice of God, far from opposing the punishment of the impenitent, requires it. Consider this earth, which supports us, that sun, which illuminates us, the elements, that nourish us, all the creatures which serve us; are they not so many motives to men to devote their service to God? Consider the patience of God, what opportunities of repentance he gives sinners, what motives and means he affords them. Above all, enter into the sanctuary; meditate on the incarnate word, comprehend, if you can, what it is for a God to make himself of no reputation,' and to take upon him the form of a servant,' Phil. ii. 7. Consider the infinite excellence of God, approach his throne, behold his eyes sparkling with fire, the power and majesty that fill his sanctuary, the heavenly hosts which around his throne fulfil his will; form, if it be possible, some idea of the Supreme Being. Then think, this God united himself to mortal flesh, and suffered for mankind all the rigours, that the madness of men, and the rage of devils could invent. I cannot tell, my brethren, what impressions these objects make on you. For my part, I ingenuously own, that, could any thing render Christianity doubtful to me, what it affirms of this mystery would do so. I have need, I declare, of all my faith, and of all the authority of him, who speaks in Scripture, to persuade me, that God would condescend to such a humiliation as this. If, amidst the darkness which conceals this mystery, I discover any glimmering that reduces it in a sort to my capacity, it arises from the sentence of
condemn the wise heathens to a state that seemed suited only to monsters, who disfigure nature and subvert society. Some, therefore, to get rid of this difficulty, have widened the gate of heaven, and allowed other ways of arriving there, besides that whereby we must be saved, Acts iv. 12. Cato, Socrates, and Aristides, have been mixed with the multitude redeemed to God out of every people and nation,' Rev. v. 9. Had the doctrine of diversity of punishments been properly attended to, the condemnation of the heathens would not have appeared inconsistent with the perfections of God, provided it had been considered only as a punishment proportional to what was defective in their state, and criminal in their life. For no one has a right to tax God with injustice for punishing pagans, unless he could prove that the degree of their pain exceeded that of their sin; and as no one is able to make this combination, because Scripture positively assures us, God will observe this proportion, so none can murmur against his conduct without being guilty of blasphemy.
But, above all, the doctrine of degrees of punishment elucidates that of the eternity of them. Take this principle, which Scripture establishes in the clearest manner; press home all its consequences; extend it as far as it can be carried; give scope even to your imagination, till the punishments which such and such persons suffer in hell are reduced to a degree, that may serve to solve the difficulty of the doctrine of their eternity; whatever system you adopt on this article, I will even venture to say, whatever difficulty you may meet with in following it, it will always be more reasonable, I think, to make of one doctrine clearly revealed, a clew to guide through the difficulties of another doctrine clearly revealed too, than rashly to deny the former decisions of Scripture. I mean to say, it would be more rational to stretch the doctrine of degrees too far, if I may venture to speak so, than to deny that of their eternity.
4. The fourth source of solutions is a maxim from which a divine ought never to depart; and which we wish particularly to inculcate among those who extend the operations of reason too far in matters of religion. Our maxim is this. We know indeed in general, what are the attributes of God; but we are extremely ignorant of their sphere, we cannot determine how far they extend. We know in general, God is free, he is just, he is merciful but we are too ignorant to determine how far these perfections must go; because the infinity of them absorbs the capacity of our minds. An example may render our meaning plain. Suppose two philosophers subsisting before the creation of this world, and conversing together on the plan of the world, which God was about to create. Suppose the first of these philosophers affirming -God is going to create intelligent creatures -he could communicate such a degree of knowledge to them as would necessarily conduct them to supreme happiness-but he intends to give them a reason, which may be abused, and may conduct them from ignorance to vice, and from vice to misery
Moreover, God is going to create a world, in which virtue will be almost always in irons, and vice on a throne-tyrants will be crowned, and pious people confounded. Suppose the first of our philosophers to maintain these theses, how think you? Would not the second have reasoned against this plan? Would he not, in all appearance, have had a right to affirm-It is impossible that God, being full of goodness, should create men, whose existence would be fatal to their happiness-It inpossible a Being, supremely holy, should suffer sin to enter the world? Yet, how plausi ble soever, the reasons of this philosopher might then have appeared, the event has since justified the truth of the first plan. It is certain God has created the world on the plan of the first; and it is also as certain, that this world has nothing incompatible with the perfections of God, how difficult soever we may find it to answer objections. It is our diminutiveness, the narrowness of our minds, and the immensity of the Deity, which prevent our knowing how far his attributes
Apply this to our subject. The idea of hell seems to you repugnant to the attributes of God, you cannot comprehend how a just God can punish finite sins with infinite pain; how a merciful God can abandon his creature to eternal miseries. Your difficulties have some probability, I grant. Your reasons, I allow, seem well-grounded. But dost thou remember, the attributes of God are infinite? Remember, thy knowledge is finite. Remember the two philosophers disputing on the plan of the world. Remember the event has discarded the difficulties of the last, and justified the plan of the first. Now, the revolation of future punishments in our system, is equal to event in that of the first philosopher. They are revealed. You think future punishment inconsistent with the attributes of God: but your notion of inconsistence ought to vanish at the appearance of Scripturelight.
Thus we have indicated a few proofs of the doctrine of eternal punishments. We have endeavoured to convince you, that what the Scriptures teach us on the duration of the punishments of the wicked is neither repugnant to the nature of God, nor to the nature of man. We will now lay aside these ideas, and endeavour to improve the few moments that remain, by addressing your consciences. Having shown you the doctrine of eternal punishments as taught in Scripture, and approved by reason, we will try to show it you as an object terrible and affecting. But, while we are endeavouring as much as possible, to accommodate ourselves to your impatience, use some efforts with yourselves; and if ever, through indulgence for our person, or through respect to our doctrine, you have opened access to your hearts, grant it, I entreat you, to what I am going to propose.
III. Observe the quality, and the duration of the punishments of hell. The quality is expressed in these words, smoke, torment. The duration in these, ascend up for ever
 The quality of the punishment of hell. The very name given in Scripture to the fire is expressed in these terms, smoke, torment of hell has something very significant in it. The metaphorical terms include five ideas. It is called the fire of Gehenna,' Matt. v. Privation of heavenly happiness-Sensation 22. This word is compounded of words, of pain-remorse of conscience--horror of which signify the valley of Hinnon.' This society-increase of crime. valley was rendered famous by the abomina1. A privation of celestial happiness is the ble sacrifices which the idolatrous Jews offer. first idea of hell, an idea which we are ined to Moloch. They set up a hollow brazen capable of forming fully in this life. We figure, enclosed their children in it, kindled have eyes of flesh and blood. We judge of fires underneath, and in this horrible manner happiness and misery according to this flesh consumed the miserable infant victims of and blood, and as things relate to our families, their cruel superstition. This is an image of our fortunes, our professions, and we seldom hell. Terrible image! We have no need of think we have immortal souls In the great abstract and metaphysical ideas. Who among day of retribution all these veils will be taken us could patiently bear his hand one hour in away. Darkness will be dissipated, scales fire? Who would not tremble to be condemnwill fall from our eyes, the chief good will be ed to pass one day in this monstrous machine? known: but what will be the condition of him, And who, who could bear to be eternally conwho no sooner discovers the chief good than fined in it? When we see a criminal in chains, he discovers also, that he shall be for ever given up to an executioner of human justice, deprived of it! Represent to yourselves and just going to be burned to death, nature man constrained to see, and made by his own shudders at the sight, the flesh of spectators experience to know, that the pleasures, the shivers, and the cries of the sufferer rend grandeurs, and all the riches of this world, their heart, and excite painful compassion in are nothing but wind and smoke; and that all the emotions of the soul. What must it true felicity consists in communion with God, be to be delivered up to an executioner of in beholding his perfections, and participat divine justice? What to be cast into the fire ing his glory: or, to use emblems taken from of hell? Delicate flesh! feeble organs of a Scripture, represent to yourselves a man, human body! What will you do when you who shall see the nuptial chamber of the are cast into the quick and devouring flames bridegroom, his triumphant pomp, and his of hell! magnificent palace; and who shall see all these glorious objects as felicities, which his crimes forbid him to enjoy. What regrets! What despair! Lord of nature! Being of beings! Adorable assemblage of all perfections! Eternal Father! Well-beloved Son! Holy Spirit! glorious body of my divine Redeemer! archangels! cherubim! seraphim! powers! dominions! general assembly of the first-born! myriads of angels! apostles! martyrs! saints of all ages, and of all nations! unfading crown! perfect knowledge! communion of a soul with its God! throne of glory! fulness of joy! rivers of pleasure! all which I see, all which I know, and wish to enjoy, even while avenging justice separates me from you; am I then for ever excluded from all your ineffable delights? Are you all shown to me to make me more sensible of my misery? And do you display so much felicity only to render my pain more acute, and my destruction more terrible?
3. The third idea of future punishment is that of the remorse of conscience. The pains of the mind are as lively and sensible as those of the body. The grief of one man, who loses a person dear to him, the inquietude of another afraid of apparitions and spectres, the gloomy terrors of a third in solitude, the emotions of a criminal receiving his sentence of death, and, above all, the agitation of a conscience filled with a sense of guilt, are pains as lively and sensible as those which are excited by the most cruel torments. What great effects has remorse produced! It has made tyrants tremble. It has smitten the knees of a Belshazzar together in the midst of his courtiers. It has rendered the voluptuous insensible to pleasure, and it has put many hardened wretches upon the rack. It has done more. It has forced some, who upon scaffolds and wheels have denied their crimes, after a release, to confess them, to find out a judge, to give evidence against themselves, and to implore the mercy of a violent death, more tolerable than the agonies of their guilty souls. This will be the state of the damned. This will be the worm that never dies,' and which will consume their souls. This will be the cruel vulture, that will devour their vitals. Conscience will be obliged to do homage to an avenging God. It will be forced to acknowledge, that the motives of the gospel were highly proper to affect every man, who had not made his if'face as an adamant, his forehead harder than a flint. It will be forced to acknowledge, that the goodness of God had been enough to penetrate every heart, even those which were least capable of gratitude. It will be constrained to own, that the succours of the Spirit of God had been more than sufficient of themselves. It will be driven to own, that the destruction of man came of himself, and
2. Consider painful sensations. To these belong all the expressions of Scripture just now mentioned, darkness, blackness of dark ness, thirst, fire, lake burning with fire and brimstone, and all these to such a degree, that the damned would esteem as an invaluable benefit one drop of water to cool their tongues,' Luke xvi 24. We dare not pretend to determine, that hell consists of material fire. But if you recollect that we just now observed the power of God to excite in our souls such sensations as he pleases, to this reflection you add this remark, that Scripture almost always employs the idea of fire to express the pains of hell, you will be inclined to believe, that most of these unhap py sufferers literally endure torments like those, which men burning in flames feel; whether God act immediately on their souls, or unite them to particles of material fire.
that he sacrificed his salvation to vain imaginations, more delusive than vanity itself. The testimony of a good conscience has supported martyrs in fire and tortures. When a martyr said to himself, I suffer for truth, I plead a good cause, I bear my Saviour's cross. I am a martyr for God himself; he was happy in spite of seeming horrors. But when the reproaches of conscience are added to terrible torments, when the sufferer is obliged to say to himself, I am the author of my own punishment, I suffer for my own sins, I am a victim of vice, a victim for the devil; nothing can equal his horror and despair.
4. A fourth idea is taken from the horror of the society in hell. How great soever the misery of a man on earth may be, he bears it with patience, when wise discourse is addressed to him for his consolation, when a friend opens his bosom to him, when a father shares his sufferings, and a charitable hand endeavours to wipe away his tears. The conversation of a grave and sympathizing friend diminishes his troubles, softens his pains, and charms him under his afflictions, till he becomes easy and happy in them. But, good God! what society is that in hell! Imagine yourselves condemned to pass all your days with those odious men, who seem formed only to trouble the world. Imagine yourselves shut up in a close prison with a band of reprobates. Imagine yourselves lying on a death-bed, and having no other comforters than traitors and assassins. This is an image of hell! Good God! what a society! tyrants, assassins, blasphemers, Satan with his angels, the prince of the air with all his infamous legions!
From all these ideas results a fifth, an increase of sin. Self-love is the governing passion of mankind. It is that which puts all the rest in motion, and all the rest either spring from it, or are supported by it It is not in the power of man to love a being, who has no relation to his happiness; and it is not possible for him to avoid hating one, who employs his power to make him miserable. As God will aggravate the sufferings of the damned, by displaying his attributes, their hatred of him will be unbounded, their torment will excite their hatred, their hatred will aggravate their torment. Is not this the height of misery? To hate by necessity of nature the Perfect Being, the Supreme Being, the Sovereign Beauty, in a word, to hate God; does not this idea present to your minds a state the most melancholy, the most miserable? One chief excellence of the glory of happy spirits, is a consummate love to their Creator. One of the most horrible punishments of hell, is the exclusion of di vine love. O miserable state of the damned! In it they utter as many blasphemies against God as the happy souls in heaven shout hallelujahs to his praise.
And shall we amuse you, with our imaginations?
These are the punishments of condemned souls. It remains only that we consider the length and duration of them. But by what means, my brethren, shall we describe these profound articles of contemplation? Can we number the innumerable, and measure that which is beyond all mensuration? Can we, make you comprehend the incomprehensible?
For my part, when I endeavour to represent eternity to myself, I avail myself of whatever I can conceive most long and durable. I heap imagination on imagination, conjecture on conjecture. First, I consider those long lives, which all men wish, and some attain; I observe those old men, who live four of five generations, and who alone make the history of an age. I do more, I turn to ancient chronicles. I go back to the patriarchal age, and consider a life extending through a thousand years; and I say to myself, All this is not eternity; all this is only a point in comparison of eternity.
Having represented to myself real objects, I form ideas of imaginary ones. I go from our age to the time of publishing the gospel, from thence to the publication of the law, from the law to the flood, from the flood to the creation. I join this epoch to the present time, and I imagine Adam yet living. Had adain lived till now, and had he lived in misery, had he passed all his time in a fire, or on a rack, what idea must we form of his condition? At what price would we agree to expose ourselves to misery so great? What imperial glory would appear glorious, were it followed by so much wo? Yet this is not eternity; all this is nothing in comparison of eternity.
I go farther still. I proceed from imagination to imagination, from one supposition to another. I take the greatest number of years that can be imagined. I add ages to ages, millions of ages to millions of ages. I form of all these one fixed number, and I stay my imagination. After this, I suppose God to create a world like this, which we inhabit. I suppose him creating it by forming one atom after another, and employing production of each atom the time fixed in my calculation just now mentioned. What numberless ages would the creation of such a world in such a manner require! Then I suppose the Creator to arrange these atoms, and to pursue the same plan of arranging them as of creating them. What numberless ages would such an arrangement require! Finally, I suppose him to dissolve and annihilate the whole; and observing the same method in this dissolution as he observed in the creation and disposition of the whole. What an immense duration would be consumed! Yet this is not eternity; all this is only a point in comparison of eternity.
Associate now all these suppositions, my brethren, and of all these periods make one fixed period; multiply it again, and suppose yourselves to pass in multiplying it a time equal to that, which the period contains; it is literally and strictly true, all this is not eternity; all this is only a point in comparison of eternity.
My God! one night passed in a burning fever, or in struggling in the waves of the sea between life and death, appears of an immense length! It seems to the sufferer as if the sun had forgot its course, and as if all the laws of nature itself were subverted. What, then, will be the state of those miserable victims to divine displeasure, who, after
fess to believe, so, that if you deny these truths, you must deny your own faith, Christianity, religion.
they shall have passed through the ages, which we have been describing, will be obliged to make this overwhelming reflection, All this is only an atom of our misery! What will their despair be, when they shall be forced to say to themselves, again we must revolve through these enormous periods; again we must suffer a privation of celestial happiness; devouring flames again; cruel remorse again; crimes and blasphemies over and over again! For ever! for ever! Ah my brethren! my brethren! how severe is this word even in this life! How great is a misfortune, when it is incapable of relief! How insupportable, when we are obliged to add for ever to it! These irons for ever! these chains for ever! this prison for ever! this universal contempt for ever! this domestic trouble for ever! Poor mortals! how short-sighted are you to call sorrows eternal, which end with your lives! What! this life! this life, that passes with the rapidity of a weaver's shuttle! Job vii. 6, this life, which vanishes like a sleep!' Ps. xc. 5, is this what you call for ever! Ah! absorbing periods ef eternity, accumulated myriads of ages; these, if I may be allowed to speak so, these will be the FOR EVER of the damned!
I sink under the weight of this subject; and I declare, when I see my friends, my reIntions, the people of my charge, this whole congregation; when I think, that I, that you, that we are all threatened with these torments; when I see in the lukewarmness of my devotions, in the languor of my love, in the levity of my resolutions and designs, the least evidence, though it be only probable, or presumptive, of my future misery, yet I find in the thought a mortal poison, which dif fuses itself into every period of my life, rendering society tiresome, nourishment insipid, pleasure disgustful, and life itself a cruel bitter. I cease to wonder, that a fear of hell has made some melancholy, and others mad; that it has inclined some to expose them selves to a living martyrdom by fleeing from all commerce with the rest of mankind, and others to suffer the most violent and terrible torments. But the more terror this idea inspires, the more inexcusable are we, if it produce no good fruits in us. The idea of eternity ought to subvert all our sinful projects. In order to avoid eternal misery, all should be suffered, all surmounted, all undertaken, sinful self should be crucified, and the whole man devoted in holy sacrifice to God. Let each particle of our bodies, become a victim to penitence, let each moment of life expose us to a new martyrdom; still we should be happy, could we avoid the flaming sword, that hangs over our heads, and escape the gulfs of misery, which yawn beneath our feet.
My brethren, have you heard what I have been speaking? have you well reflected on what I said? Perhaps I may have weakened these great truths. Perhaps I may have left many proper things unsaid Yet, methinks, if you have thoroughly comprehended what little I have said, you will become new men.
Remember, we have not exceeded the truth; all we have said is taken from Scrip ture, from those Scriptures which you pro
Remember, we have taken our evidences from that part of Scripture, which you consider as the most kind and comfortable, I mean the gospel Renounce, I beseech you, at once, this iniserable prejudice, that under the gospel we ought not to speak of hell. On the contrary, it is the gospel that reveals it in its clearest light; it is the gospel which proves it; it is the gospel that describes it; the gospel says, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, Matt xxv. 41 It is the gospel that says, The servant which knew his lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes,' Luke xii. 47. It is the gospel that says, 'If we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judg ment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries,' Heb. x. 26, 27.
Remember the doctrine of degrees of punishment, which seems to diminish the horrors of hell in regard to pagans, and Christians educated in superstition and ignorance, has every thing in it to augment the horror of future pain in regard to such Christians as most of us are.
Recollect what sort of persons God reserves for this state. Not only assassins, murderers, highway robbers; but also apostates, who know the truth, but who sacrifice through worldly interests the profession of truth to idolatry; misers, usurers, unjust persons, gluttons; unclean, implacable, lifeless lukewarm professors of Christianity; all these are included in the guilt and punish
ment of sin.
Remember, we must be wilfully blind, if we deny, that in this town, in this church, in this flock, in this assembly, among you, my hearers, who listen to me, and look at me, there are such persons as I just now mentioned, each of whom must come to this reflec tion; I myself, I perhaps, am in a state of damnation, perhaps my name is one in the fatal list of those at whom these threatenings point.
Go farther yet. Remember, this life is the only time given you to prevent these terrible punishments. After this life, no more exhortations, no more sermons, no more admission of sighs and tears, no more place for repentance.
After this, think on the brevity of life. Think there may be perhaps only one year granted, perhaps only one month,perhaps only one day, perhaps only one hour, perhaps only one moment, to avoid this misery; so that perhaps, OLord avert the dreadful supposition!) perhaps some one of us may this very day experience all these torments and pains.
Finally, consider the spirit, that this mo ment animates us, the drift of this discourse, and, to say more, consider what God is now doing in your favour. In a plenitude of compassion, and with bowels of the tenderest love, he entreats and exhorts you to escape these terrible miseries; he conjures you not to destroy yourselves; he says to you, that my people would hearken unto me. Be