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fively as committed against mankind, or a mere tranfgreflion of the laws of human fociety, is always finite in its nature, and can never arise higher however henious the crime may be, and therefore it never does, nor can receive more than a finite punifhment. The punishment of man for offences committed against man are always of this nature. But as it is against God and the degree of its faultinefs is according to the infinite dig. nity of the divine nature, hence the punishment must be the greatest poffible, it must be in the highest degree and of the most unlimited duration.
The fin or faultinefs of an action afes from and confifts in the violation of fome obligation the perfon is under. If a perfon be under no obligation he can commit no fault; for where there is no law there is no tranfgreffion. Now if fin confifts in and arifes from the violation of an obligation, and if the obligation violated be infinite, then the act itself contains. in its very nature an inconceivable degree of evil or faultiness; but God is a being to whom all rational creatures are under the highest poffible obligation, therefore every fin against him is an evil beyond created conception, and hence it muЯ receive the greatest measure of punishment, and the justice of God requires that the fame fhould be inflicted. Therefore the torments of hell will furely be eternal. For God will deal with every one ftrictly according to his works; and finite creatures can in no other way be the fubjects of the greatest possible punishment, or a punishment adequate to their demerit, but by fuffering to the utmost extent of their capacities throughout the whole of their interminable exiflence.
Secondly, it is evident the future fufferings of the wicked will be everlasting or eternal from the nature of that state into which they pafs at death. It is a fate of the most perfect mifery. It is defigned of God for this very purpose, therefore all who were fentenced to that place muft neceflarily be miferable. Many have gone from our world to these
abodes of woe, and many are ftill going thither from year to year. And they are as full of mifery as their fouls can hold, and as long as they continue in that ftate they must be miferable from the very nature of it. If there be no other state to which they can pafs, if this be the final and last condition of the wicked and there remains no further change or removal, during their existence, and they muft fpend their exiflence here, and their existence will be eternal, then it is plain their punishment r mifery must be eternal alfo.
It is evident from the feriptures that there are but two apartments in the eternal world, which are the receptacles of fouls that go from this, to wit, heaven and hell. The latter is reprefented as the final fate of thofe who die impenitent, unpar. doned and in their fins. There is not the leaft hint of any other ftate, nor any reafen or neceffity to fuppofe another, these two answering to the two characters among mankind, the righ teous and the wicked, therefore a third fate would be wholly fuperfluous. And however this is believed in popish countries, it is altogether unfounded both in reafon and revelation. Now as this is the cafe, that the ftate into which the wicked pass at death is their final condition, and there is no future change to take place, therefore their mifery will be eternal.
Thirdly, it is certain that the torments of the wicked will be everlafling from their temper and character. Their tempers and difpofitions are fuch that they can never be brought into a reconciliation to God, but by almighty power and divine. grace creating in them a new heart. And it is abfolutely certain God will never exert his gracious power to any fuch purpofe; there is not the leaft intimation of any such thing in his word, but there are abundant declarations of a contrary nature. He has utterly abandoned them to their enmity, malice, and all the corruptions of their hearts. Their enmity and wickednefs is the reafon of their condemnation at firft, and as long as the fame temper and difpofition continues, fo long it is
perfectly proper they fhould be held under punishment. For the reason that makes any conduct on the part of God, or any fufferings on the part of finners juft and righteous at any time, will render them fo at all times while the reafon continues on which they are grounded. If therefore the damnation of the wicked was right, when they were first turned into hell, it must remain equally fo to all eternity; because the reafon and ground of it will always be the fame, even perfect, increasing and invincible enmity to God and all goodness. Natural evil will never cure moral evil; nothing can effect this but the gracious operations of the Spirit of God. Hence if it was right to condemn them to hell, it will be equally right they should be kept there forever. The damned who have been there from the beginning, have not grown better, but worfe; therefore there can be no poffible motive for their release. They con. tinually employ themfelves in new acts, exertions, and exercises of hatred, malice and enmity to all that is good, hereby their guilt will be continually encreafing, and their defert of punishment in quality and weight as their moments do in number-Thus, according to all rules of juftice and propriety, the torments of hell inftead of abating, must increase, and never come~ to an end.
Fourthly, the fufferings of the damned can by no means make any atonement for fin. Two things are effentially neceffary in making an atonement; that all the fufferings be borne which the penalty of the law threatens and requires; and that they be borne from principles of perfect obedience to the law, and from love and duty to the lawgiver. If either of these conditions be wanting, the fufferings can contain nothing of the nature of atonement. He may fuffer myriads of ages, and thefe myriads multiplied into themselves myriads of times, the cafe will still be the fame, there will not be the least atoning effi cacy in his fufferings. The certainty of thefe requifites in the atonement for fin, is capable of the strictest demonftration. To
fuffer the penalty which the law requires in order to fatisfy its demands is felf-evident, and the neceffity of thefe fufferings being performed from love and obedience, feems equally clear and striking. An atonement muft imply fomething in it acceptable to the lawgiver, and all acceptableness to God arises from obedience, and none will pretend there is either love or obedi ence in the fufferings of hell; therefore their punishment, how ever long endured, can make no atonement for fin. All the fufferings in that world are from invincible conftraint and ne-ceffity. They are bound down under them by the almighty power of God against their wills. They would break out of hell, destroy God, ufurp his throne, and murder all his faithful Subjects were it in their power. But all the devils and damned in the infernal regions, in the most violent exertions of their Tage and malice, are as nothing in the hands of the Moft High; they have fuch an awful sense and assurance hereof as fills them with diftraction and defpair. All these things ferve to demonftrate there can be no period to their fufferings, but that they must be everlasting. This doctrine might be strongly argued from the confideration of the ends of divine government in the infliction of punifhments,-and from the nature and infinitely valuable fufferings of Chrift for the redemption of men,—and `from the qualities, virtues and principles contained in his atone ment for fin; but thefe arguments are too extensive and fo lemn to treat in a fhort and defultory way, in which the nature of a contracted pulpit difcourfe obliges me to confider things.
Wherefore I proceed to the
Laft argument I propofe at prefent to offer in fupport of our doctrine. And it is a confideration not only conclufive and decifive in itself, but it gives additional weight and ratifying force to all the preceding. It is this:
The holy fcriptures do abundantly, repeatedly and in exprefs
terms, declare and affirm, that the punishment of the wicked n hell will be eternal. The firft paffage I would produce is from the prophecy of Isaiah" And they, that is the faved of "the Lord, fhall go forth and look upon the carcafes of the men "that have tranfgreffed against me; for their worm fhall not "die, neither fhall their fire be quenched." No words can be more exprefs than these in afferting the perfect, compleat and everlasting deftruction of tranfgreffors; nor any declaration of this doctrine be plainer in prophetic language. It is the genius of the prophetic ftile to exprefs fpiritual and eternal things in bold figures, and by fenfible and material images. Daniel affords another authority in point:-"And many of them. "that fleep in the duft of the earth fhall awake, fome to ever.
lafting life, and fome to fhame and everlafting contempt." Here the affertion is explicit, that the fhame and contempt of fome who fhall be raifed at the last day, will be everlasting or eternal. The next authority is in Malachi:-" Behold the day cometh that fhall burn as an oven, and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, fhall be ftubble; and the day "that cometh fhall burn them up, faith the Lord of hofts, that "it fhall leave them neither root nor branch." The declaration here is deferiptive and ftrong. It exhibits the greatness of God's jail indignation against the proud and all that do wickedly. God will bring total and abfolute deftruction upon them. They fhall be burnt up root and branch. Their ruin fhall be perfect and compleat as of that which is wholly confu med. Now contemplate the nature of this ruin, root and branch, and the fubjects of it, who are defigaed for an eternal quration, and it affords an undeniable proof of the doctrine, that the miferics of the damned will be unmixed and everlasting.
The new Teftament abounds with authorities to the fame purpofe. How particular is our Lord's affirmation in his mater. Three times he repeatedly declares, "The worm. di"eth not, ale file is not quenched." He files their tor