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even to a much higher exaltation of their nature, than original innocence was entitled to expect, of all those of the human race on whom divine goodness and wisdom have operated their full effects ; destruction of all that can render existence desirable ; suicide of all the qualities that distinguish the man from the brute; the period of repentance and amendment, as well as their means, for ever gone: all this exhibits a scene of misery of which this world furnishes no emblem. It is proper, however, to add, that as the mind is the only recipient of delight, even of that which proceeds from mere sense, and as the minds of the reprobate must be incorrigibly depraved, those incorruptible bodies which they shall acquire at the resurrection, can afford only sensations of anguish and torment, such as are expressed by the strongest figures of holy scripture. I hasten to leave this tremendous subject, and to relieve my own mind and that of my reader from the horrible images which it suggests. In treating Christian doctrine, it was necessary to state it ; for men must be persuaded by the terrore as well as by the tender mercies of the Lord. Nay, considering the general depravity of the human race, I apprehend that motives of real intimidation, such as the gospel
holds forth, are more effectual for their amendment than those better and more generous considerations by which minds only of a nobler frame can be influenced.
No objection has ever been started to the eternal duration of future happiness. This is indeed necessary to complete enjoyment. Any apprehension of our losing it would operate as a perpetual abatement of every joy. But the eternity of future punishment has been disputed as repugnant to the goodness of God; and the positive and explicit declarations of scripture on this point have been so explained, as to make them signify only a very long duration of purgatorial or corrective suffering, after which the most abandoned will be admitted to happiness, and an universal restoration take place. Nay, it has been maintained, that even the devils themselves will be ultimately saved. The main objection to this doctrine, so apparently benevolent, is, that there is no authority for it in scripture, the only source of information on this subject. For the very same epithets, eternal and everlasting, are there applied to the states both of future happiness and of future misery. Nay, it may easily be shown that, in regard to the latter, additional expressions are employed, which seem to exclude every notion of termination. The salvation of the devil appears to be one of
the wildest fancies that ever entered into the brain of man. The simple answer to it is, “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? or what communion hath light with darkness? or what concord hath Christ with Belial ? The conversion of this personage would be a miracle of the first order. In regard to the human race, it is to be observed that the present state is the only period allotted for their probation. “For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave." “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still ; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still ;. and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.rd Here we have the final determination of characters. For he that is the first and the last, Jesus, immediately adds, “ And, behold! I come quick
a This conceit was maintained by Origen, who, in his third book of Principles, cap. vi. asserts that the devil and his angels, and all the damned, will ultimately be saved. This work of Origen, which was a sort of introduction to theology, has come down to us only in the translation of Ruffinus, who corrected and maimed it, in order to render it more conformable to the orthodox doctrine of the church.-See Basnagii Annales Politico-Ecclesiastici, An. Dom. 203.-Origen seems to have derived this opinion from his Platonic philosophy, which maintained an universal renovation. To this philosophy his acuteness and prodigious learning enabled him to accommodate the Christian scheme. Ah ! erring philosophy! what mischief hast thou produced by mingling thy own inventions with the simplicity of divine truth ! b 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.
ç Eccl. ix. 10. d Rev. xxii. 11.
ly, to give every man according as his work shall be." A perpetual trial is an absurdity; for trial implies a period of retribution. This period God has thought proper to fix for our species, after the termination of the present life. It is foolish for us to oppose our own limited understanding to his unerring judgment. Besides, the eternal punishment of the incorrigibly wicked may have, in regard to superior orders of being, effects of the most salutary kind, to which our circumscribed views cannot extend. We observe that even the commination of everlasting punishment serves not to arrest the progress of vice and to render the practice of virtue general. Remove this, and consider how much more the floodgates of crime would be opened. After all, this controversy is resolvable into the inquiry concerning the origin of evil ; for, if free agents have been wisely and graciously created, the conseqences of moral evil, as well as those of moral good, must necessarily be admitted. But of this subject enough.
It is now evident that the gospel employs every means that can influence rational beings. It addresses, in the most powerful manner, the main springs of human conduct, the desire of happiness, and the dread of misery, hope and fear, generous and selfish principles. Whatever can rouse the soul to action, and induce it to pursue its true felicity, and to avoid its greatest bane, both temporal and eternal, is placed before us in the Christian scheme, and every provision is made for assisting the infirmity, and for remedying the corruption of human nature. This will still more appear in the chapters immediately succeeding.
a Rev. xxii. 12-16.