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express this evil no images which nature can furnish are sufficiently strong. And to prevent this inconceivably dreadful evil we must look not to equity but sovereignty; not to the benevolence of a ruler or a judge, but to that of a Being of absolute supremacy; a supremacy that has no other limits in its operations than the glory of the divine Essence, and the wisdom of its decrees.
§ 11. We conclude, then, that prior to scriptural evidence on either side, the verdict, in point of equity, is on the side of perpetual suffering. For the same reason that it appears there should be any punish. ment, (independent of scripture evidence,) it also appears there should be a perpetuity of it; feeing that punishment is not founded on the bare will of God, but on the guilt and depravity of the creature, which depravity and guilt if ever removed must be done by a sovereign act. But this can be no further known than it is revealed; therefore the question remains, Il’here is the evidence that God will by an cet of mere sovereignty, put a period to what must of itself continue, and rescue infernal prisoners from fin and wie?
§ 12. A full discussion of the subject on this ground, which is the only fair one, does not comport with my plan in this Essay. Besides, it has been of late professedly handled in an elaborate manner by a writer of no inconsiderable name.* However, as there are some things relating to the
subject, * Dr. JONATHAN EDWARDS's Answer to Dr. CHAUNCY.
subject, which have been lately advanced,t that may appear to militate against what I have now asserted, I shall take some notice of them in the form of objections.
§ 13. 1. “ It is evident, from this view of the " matter, that the Jews reject Christ and his reli“ gion, upon as good ground, as you reject the uni. “ verfal restoration, and perhaps better ; for you " have nothing to plead against the restoration, but some " threatenings of punishments, which are called ever.
lafting, or eternal, in our translation ; but they “ plead express promises of the everlasting continu“ ance of their church state and worship, in oppo“ fition to christianity." * Nothing to plead against the restoration but threatenings. I Yes; we plead guilt unpardoned, depravity unremoved, the sinful impotence of the creature, the inefficacy of all moral means whatever, and the operations of EQUITY. The Jews reje&t Christ and his religion upon as good
+ By Mr. ELHANAN WINCHESTER, in his Treatise entitled, The Universal Refloration, Exhibited in Four Dialogues between a Minister and his friend. Second Editicn, London, 1792. * The Univer. Restor. p. 16.
" Were there no promises or intimations to the contrary in fcripture, I fould not require it to be threatened in any stronger
terms than it is; 1 should believe it as a truth, though I might " not be able, at present, to see the propriety and equity thereof; " I should never suffer my weak reason to gainsay divine revela“tion: but my difficulty arises from these express promises of
God, which compose so great a part of that book which is given us as a rule of faith and praciice, and which promises expressly assert a future state of things, beyond sin, sorrow, pain and death of every kind.” The Univer. Refior. p. 24.
ground, as you rejeet the universal restoration. Perhaps not; for there was no natural, infallible, and equitable connection between the design of the jewish churchstate and the rejection of the Messiah; the connection was of their own making, and had no existence but in their mistaken views of Moses and his law, of Christ and his gospel. Whereas the connection that subfifts between the subject of guilt and suffering is natural, infallible, and equitable; and therefore can be removed only by a sovereign hand in a way which we may denominate miraculous. And consequently, the force of the terms expressing the duration of both dispensations being equal, the conclusion must be as unequal as the connections before mentioned,
$ 14. 2. “ Your reasoning would be conclufive,
upon the supposition that there are two eternal “ principles, viz. good and evil; if it can be proved, “ that evil is coexistent with goodness, that it hath “ always been : then, the absolute eternity of fin “ and misery may be easily inferred. This is the “ true foundation of endless misery, and it came “ from the pagan theology." + It seems, then, that evil may coexist with goodness for ages of ages, but may not any longer, without running into Manicheism. The question is not now, What is the sovereign good pleasure of God respecting the termination of evil, but whether it is inconsistent with the divine perfections to perpetuate the sufferings of the guilty. If not inconsistent to continue them
+ Ibid. p. 30.
for a thousand years, by what rule can we draw the line as a boundary ? Is it by the rule of exactly proportioning the punishment to the crime ? * But this assumes what is not granted, that the demerit of fin is to be estimated by the temporary duration of the suffering, as well as the intenseness of degree. As it is not doubted, for good reasons, that there are numerous degrees on the scale of happiness, for the fame reasons why should it be doubted that there degrees greatly varied on that of sufferings? The variation in degree, therefore, is adequate to preferve an equitable proportion, irrespective of the continuance. The rights of what attribute would be infringed upon, the glory of what perfection would be eclipsed, by not liberating a guilty prisoner ? If continued sufferings be contrary to equity, there lies a ground of claim on deliverance, which the sufferer may plead as his due. But this is too impious to be admitted. If contrary to benevolence,t then for a period called ages of ages, God in punishing offenders, or leaving them to themselves, acts in contrariety to his benevolence, which is equally impious to imagine. is the supposition contrary to wisdom ? It is sufficient to say, that we have no
* “ To suppose a poor ignorant heathen, or a child of ten years “ old, will remain in misery as long as the most perfecuting tyrant,
or apoftate christian, seems to contradict all the ideas we have of " justice and equity, as well as of goodness; for in this case, who
can suppose that cach one is exačily rewarded according to his works?” The Univer. Refor. p. 74. t“ The universal benevolence, or the love of God to his
creatures, is one of the first principles from which the general “ restoration is deduced.” Ibid. p. 89.
data, in the present case, to determine what is or is not conformable to wisdom, but what God himself has revealed, which refers to another question. I therefore conclude that the inference in favour of endless misery is fairly drawn, from the nature of sin and the equity of God, without having recourse to the absurd notion of two eternal principles.
§ 15. 3. “ Another great principle, upon which “ the restoration depends, is, that Christ died for " all.”* If, then, redemption is not universal, there is no inference to be drawn from it in favour of the restoration. But suppose the truth of the position; how does it imply the inference? His death must be considered either as making a proper purchafe, or an expedient on the part of God on account of which he bestows favours. If the former, why fhould Christ suffer the purchased possession to lie in torments for ages of ages? Does not his blood cleanse from all fin without the severity of so long a period of torments ? If the latter, why should this great expedient in the divine economy imply a restoration any more than other displays of good. ness and favour rejected and abused? Christ having died for all, therefore, can no more ensure a restora. tion than a favour bestowed, but yet abused, can promote friendship.
$ 16. 4. “ Another principle upon which the “ universal doctrine depends, is, the unchangeableness
of God: whom he loves once, he always loves;
* The Univer. Restor. p. 91.