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both states which imply lapse of time, it must follow that if sinners are saved and punished too, they must be saved before they are punished, at the time they are punished, or after they are punished; therefore, if it can be shown that sinners cannot be saved and then punished, that they cannot be saved at, or during the time in which they are punished, and that they cannot be saved after they have received all the punishment they deserve, the conclusion will be irresistible • that if they are punished all they deserve, they can never be saved.
1. The sinner cannot be saved and then punished. If the sinner can be first saved and then punished, it follows that salvation is no preventive of damnation, or security against it; and if so, universal salvation, if proved, would constitute no objecion to the doctrine of endless punishment, since punishment
exist after salvation has taken effect. 2. The sinner cannot be saved and punished at the same time. If the sinner be saved and punished at the same time, then salvation and damnation are made to meet, at the same time, in the same subject, and exist together. Salvation in such case, as before remarked, can be no security against damnation, and damnation, in turn, can be no preventive of salvation ;'universal salvation becomes consistent with universal damnation. Now, if this be all true, it may yet appear that if all men should be saved, they may notwithstanding be punished endlessly for their sins.
3. The sinner cannot receive all the punishment he deserves first, and then be saved. As this point is the nucleus around which universalists must rally, if they think of saving their cause, it shall receive particular attention.
That sinners cannot be punished all they deserve, and then be saved, must appear from the following considerations :
1. The sinner cannot receive all the punishment he deserves until a space of time shall have elapsed, after he shall have ceased to commit sin, and he can never cease to commit sin while he is in a state of condemnation and punishment; he cannot, therefore, receive all the punishment he deserves prior to his being saved. It cannot be denied that faith is essential to salvation, for it is written, Mark xvi. 16. “He
that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”_ This clearly proves that no unbeliever can be saved. But to evade the force of this, in proof of endless punishment, universalists generally explain the above text by John iii. 18. which says, that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already.” By this they endeavor to prove that in the expression, " he that believeth not shall be damned,” nothing is meant, more than that the unbeliever will be condemned, here in this life, while he remains in unbelief, without any reference to a future state. This we will admit, at present, for the sake of the argument, and try them by their own exposition. It is agreed, then, that unbelief is a sin, for which the unbeliever deserves to be damned, and must be damned and punished so long as he remains an unbeliever, and no longer. From this it must follow, that the moment faith is exercised, the sinner must be released from condemnation and punishment. We ask then, can the sinner believe while he is yet receiving punishment for his past unbelief ? Most certainly not, if there is no salvation from punishment; for as the sinner can be condemned and punished no longer than he remains an unbeliever, to say that he can believe at any time prior to his having received all the punishment he deserves, would be to say that he might be saved from just punishment; which is the point for which we contend. If the sinner, then, cannot believe before he has received all the punishment he deserves, we ask, can he receive all the punishment he deserves before he believes ? Assuredly not; for unbelief is sin, for which the sinner must be damned and punished, and we have already remarked that punishment supposes a time of punishment, in which it is endured, and this time of punishment must elapse after the commission of the sin, for a mån cannot be punished before he commits the sin for which he is punished. Taking this view, it must be clear that, at the point of time when the sinner believes, he will still deserve punishment for his last unbelief, he cannot, therefore, receive all the punishment he deserves before he believes. It is evident then, that the sinner cannot believe before he receives all the punishment he deserves, without being saved from such punishment, while
it is equally apparent that he cannot receive all the punishishment he deserves until after he does believe; therefore, the conclusion is irresistible that the sinner must remain in sin and misery for ever, or else be saved from the punishment he deserves. As it is perfectly clear, that punishment must be subsequent to the commission of the sin for which it is inflicted, it follows that while the sinner fails of his entire duty, he will deserve punishment which must be still future; hence, he must first become conformed to the perfect law of righteousness, and then, after that, suffer all the punishment he deserves for his past delinquency, before he can have suffered all the punishment due to his sins. We maintain that this is impossible; for, while the sinner is in a state of condemnation and punishment, he cannot be thus conformed to the law of righteousness, for it is manifestly absurd to suppose that a man can be holy, living without the commission of sin, serving God with all his powers and loving him with all his heart, and that he is, at the same time, a sinner, guilty, deserving punishment, and is actually suffering under the divine displeasure. To state the point clearly, suppose a sinner hears the gospel to day, and rejects it in unbelief; for this conduct he deserves to be punished longer or shorter; the length of his term of punishment can make no difference with this argument, so long as it is acknowledged to be limited. Suppose, then, for the sake of the argument, that this unbeliever for rejecting the gospel to day, deserves to be punished in some way, it matters not how, twenty-four hours; now, while he is enduring this twenty-four hours' punishment, does he not come short of the divine requisition ? Most certainly he does, unless man be capable of turning his powers to a two-fold account; that of suffering for the past, and obeying for the present, all at the same time. This we think is manifestly absurd; for it implies that mart is capable of doing more, during any given period of time, than the perfect law of his creator requires. If while the sinner suffers the supposed twenty-four hours' punishment, he answers the claims of the divine law, by obeying for the same time in which he suffers for the past, then he answers the claims of the divine law, for a given period, in just half that period ; that is, in twentyfour hours he discharges the entire claim of the law for forty
eight hours, by suffering for one twenty-four hours' delinquency, and by obeying for another twenty-four hours, during which he suffers. Now, if this be true, it follows that man can discharge the claims which his creator has upon his entire existence, in just half the time during which he enjoys existence; which is too absurd to need farther refutation. If, then, the sinner must come short of the divine claim, during the time in which he suffers for the past, it must follow, that at the expiration of the twenty-four hours, above supresed, he must deserve just as much punishment as he did at its commencement; therefore, the sinner can never suffer all the punishment he deserves, preparatory for salvation, but if he is ever saved his salvation must commence with the remission of the punishment which he at that time may
deserve. The following very appropriate remarks, are extracted from Dr. A. Clark's Sermon, entitled “ SALVATION BY FAITH.”
“ We have already seen that every intelligent being owes the full exercise of all its powers to its Creator, through the whole extent of its being, and if such creature do not love and serve God with all its heart, soul, mind and strength, through the whole compass of its existence it fails in its duty, and sins against the law of its creation. Now, it cannot be said, that beings in a state of penal sufferings, under the wrath and displeasure of God, (for if they suffer penally they must be under that displeasure,) can either love or serve him. Their sufferings are in consequence of their crimes, and can form no part of their obedience. Therefore all the
ages in which they suffer, are ages spent in sinning against this first essential law of their creation; and must necessarily increase the aggregate of their demerit, and lay the eternally successive necessity of continuance in that place and state of torment,” Clark’s Ser. vol. 3. p. 199. These remarks show that a sinner can never arrive at a point when he will have suffered all the punishment he deserves, therefore a ma n cannot first suffer all the punishment he deserves and then be saved.
There is no way to evade the force of this conclusion, unless it can be shown that sin deserves no punishment, which extends, in duration, beyond the time occupied in committing the offence; and to take this ground would be not only ridiculous in its consequences, but it would suppose
offences receive no punishment at all, which is to desert the question in debate ; for if sin deserves no punishment it is worse than trifling to contend that the sinner must receive all the punishment he deserves on the one hand, or that the gospel provides for the salvation of sinners from the punishment of sin on the other hand.
Though we think the above fully settles the question, yet we will add,
If it were possible for man to suffer all that his sins deserve, he would then stand in no need of salvation, in any consistent sense of the term. From what can men be saved, after they have suffered all the punishment they deserve? They cannot be saved from punishment, for this would
prove the point for which we have contended; and not only so, but there can be no danger or possibility of their suffering more than they deserve. They cannot be saved from the commission of sin, for they must first cease to commit sin before they can receive all the punishment they deserve. They cannot be saved from the love of sin, as universalists sometimes assert, for as we are required to love God with all the heart, to love sin is coming short of the divine command, and must be sin itself, and consequently deserving of punishment. Now as men deserve punishment for loving sin, they must be saved from the love of sin before they can receive all the punishment they deserve. They cannot be saved from death, for salvation does not secure us from the death of the body; nor can the resurrection be resorted to as salvation, possible after the penalty of the law has been endured, for we have shown in Chap. I. that death itself
, is a part of the curse which the law inflicts for sin, and hence it follows, that men cannot be said to have received all the punishment sin deserves, while death holds its dominion over the body. Not only so, but if the resurrection be resorted to as salvation, it will follow on the above principle, that it is salvation from just punishment, which is the very thing for which we contend. They cannot be saved from hell, for this would imply that they deserve to go to hell, which cannot be true if they have already suffered all that they deserve. They cannot be saved from annihilation, unless it be admitted that they deserve it, or are in danger of being