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for which it is designed, or else it must be continued in a future state, until it effect there what it fails to accomplish in this world.
1. All sinners are not reformed in this life, as scripture and matter of fact abundantly declare. It is said Prov. xiv. 32. “ The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death." If then the wicked are driven away in their wickedness, in opposition to the hopeful death of the righteous, it is clear that they are not reformed and saved from their sins before death. Indeed it cannot be denied that some men sin on life's most extended verge,
and blaspheme with their last breath; it is certain, therefore, that all men are not reformed in this life.
2. Will it be said that punishment fails to effect its designed object, in those cases in which men are not reformed in this life? We answer, such a concession must be fatal to the argument drawn from the corrective design of punishment; for what does it avail to contend that punishment is designed to reform the sinner, if it be admitted, at the same time, that it may fail to produce the designed effect? If it be admitted that God does inflict punishment, which does not reform the sufferer, the fact that endless punishment cannot reform its subjects, forms no argument against it. Not only so, but if it be contended that punishment be designed to reform the sinner, and admitted at the same time, that it may fail to effect this design, it must follow that the means which God employs to reform sinners fail of their object. Now, if sinners can and do resist and render ineffectual the means which God employs to bring them to repentance and salvation, the final salvation of all men, to say the least, must be doubtful.
3. As universalists contend that all punishment is designed to reform the sinner, and as it is fatal to their cause to ad-, mit that it may fail in its design, they must allow that it will be continued in a future state, since it is manifest that it does not effect its intended object in this life. There is no way to escape the force of this conclusion. There are three alternatives between which they may choose, viz. they may admit that all punishment is not designed to reform the sufferer, or they may hold on to the corrective design of punishment, and admit that it sometimes fails to effect its intend
ed object; or they may contend that it will effect the reformation of the sinner, and admit that for this purpose it will be continued in a future state. Now, as it would be fatal'to universalism, to assent to either of the two former positions, the conclusion is that universalists, in order to be consistent with themselves must allow that sinners will be punished in a future state.
II. There are some sins which will not admit of punishment in this life. In all cases where life is ended in sin, the subject cannot receive all the punishment he deserves before death, and therefore must be punished in a future state.
When we look into this world of wickedness and death, we see one man die in a drunken fit; another fall by the hand of his intended victim whom he was about to murder and rob—falling with the instrument of death in his hand, and murder in his heart; another has his head shot off in the field of battle ; another is struck dead by lightning from the clouds, when in the act of blaspheming the name of God; and another perishes by his own hand-blowing out his own brains, and sending his soul into the future world, “ as sudden as the spark from the smitten steel,” stained with his own blood. Nothing can be more clear, than that sinners, dying under the above circumstances, cannot receive their full punishment in this world. If sinners are punished all they deserve in this life, under these circumstances, at what time do they receive it, and in what does it consist? Is it said that it is inflicted prior to the commission of the crime? The notion is too absurd to be indulged for a moment.
1. If sin be punished before it is committed, then the innocent receive the punishment: before sin is committed man is innocent; he is then punished, if the punishment is prior to the sin for which it is inflicted; after that he commits sin ; he is then guilty and receives no punishment on the above principles.
2. İf sin be punished before it is committed, it must follow that sinners do not render themselves liable to punishment, by the commission of their crimes. On this principle, when a man has an opportunity to commit sin, and is disposed to do it, he may take it for granted that the punishment is past and commit the act with impunity.
Will it then be said that sin is punished at the time it is committed ? This would imply that sin deserves no more punishment than is endured while the sinner is engaged in the crime, which in some of the above supposed cases can be but a moment. The absurdity of such a notion we have already shown in a preceding chapter, (see Chap. IV. Argument viii.) to which we will here add.
1. To say that sin receives its punishment at the time of its commission, so that it is fully punished by the time the act is finished, is to encourage sin. Sin is often committed with no other object than the gratification which the act itself affords; now, if the punishment is received at the same time, it must be overbalanced by the gratification, making the pleasure of sin greater than its punishment; thus, the scale must preponderate in favor of sin
2. The above notion is contradicted by plain matter of fact. Did Cain receive all the punishment his wicked murder deserved while he was slaying his righteous brother ; or was he punished after the act was committed ? The same inquiry might be made of every case of divine punishment recorded in the Bible. The same inquiry also may be made of every penalty inflicted by courts of justice, at the present day. If theft be punished all it deserves while the thief is in the act of stealing, imprisonment for the same act must be over and above justice.
But if sin receives all its punishment while the sinner is committing the act, in what does the punishment of sin consist? Suppose a man takes his own life by blowing out his own brains in an instant, or is shot dead in the act of attempting to kill another, does his punishment consist in the pain he endures ? This cannot be.
1. This would make the punishment of murder consist in the pang
of an instant, of which we can scarcely have any perception. Murder, in such case, is punished with less smart than good parents often inflict on their children for a much less offence.
2. The pain of dying in such case cannot be greater than men generally endure in death, whether they save life or take it; for all must die, and generally suffer more than the man whose existence is ended in an instant as above supposed.
3. To suppose that the punishment of suicide consists in the pain of dying, would be to suppose that the man punishes himself for his own sin, and that the act which constitutes the sin, and the act which inflicts the punishment are the same. From this, one of two fatal consequences must follow, viz. as the same act produces both the sin and the punishment, it must follow that God is the author of the sin, or else that he is not the author of the punishment. Now if it be said that God is the author of both the sin and the punishment, then he punishes for that of which he is the author; and if it be said that God is not the author of the punishment, then the sin is not punished by God, and the pain of dying is proved not to be the punishment of suicide.
Will it be said that the punishment of suicide, or the punishment of a man who is shot dead in an attempt to murder another, consists in the loss of life? If so we reply,
1. The loss of life cannot be greater to the highway robber, or to the poor wretch, who is so tired of life as to commit suicide, than it was to righteous Abel or St. Stephen. The loss of life must be as great to the man who loses it in attempting to save the life of another, as it is to the man who loses it in an attempt to kill another.
2. On the supposition that there is no punishment after death the loss of life is, in fact, no loss, but a great gain, just in proportion as heaven is to be preferred to earth!
3. To suppose that the punishment of suicide consists in the loss of life, confounds sin with its punishment, and destroys all distinction between them. Suppose a man to hang himself, in what does the sin consist? It must be acknowledged that the sin consists in the sacrifice of life, while it is said that the punishment consists in the loss of life, which amounts to the same thing : a man sins by hanging himself, and he is punished for it by hanging ; or a man is guilty for the loss of life, and he is punished by the loss of life, for which he is guilty. It must be clear that this makes sin and its punishment the same ; the sin consists in the punishment and the punishment consists in the sin. Now, if this be granted, there are some sins for which many persons would esteem it
privilege to be punished. It must appear conclusive from the above reasoning, that
If the full pen
there are many sins which are not, and which cannot be punished in this life; they will therefore be punished in a future state.
III. To suppose that sin receives its full punishment in this world, must defeat every object of punishment which can be considered worthy the divine administration. alty of the law be inflicted, and endured by the offender in this life, it cannot be known what the punishment of sin is, how much of it the transgressor must endure, on whom the weight of the divine penalty falls, nor for what purpose it is inflicted.
1. If sinners are punished in this life all their sins deserve, it cannot be known in what their punishment consists. Can universalists tell in what the sinner receives his reward? If they can, they will please inform us in what way transgressors suffer for their impiety. Do different sins receive the same punishment, in kind? Or are profane swearers punished in one way and liars in another? Do the same acts of transgression always receive the same punishment, in kind, or are the violations of the same command punished sometimes in one way and sometimes in another ? There is no suffering which sinners endure in this life, that we can recognize as the full penalty of the law. The punishment cannot consist in the misfortunes, sufferings, and death common to human beings; for these evils would overtake us if we were to refrain from sin and serve God with all our powers: good men suffer and die as well as bad men. The punishment of sin cannot consist in the penalties inflicted by the law of the land; for the laws enacted by men are sometimes unjust and oppressive, punishing virtue and rewarding vice. Different governments annex different penalties to the same prohibition, and all often change, while many sins are beyond the reach of the best civil authorities. Nor can the punishment of sin consist in mental anguish, or remorse of conscience. If the punishment of sin consisted in guilt of conscience, it would appear that the moral sensibility of the soul must be waked up in proportion to its progress in sin and guilt, which is not
Progress in sin is attended with greater and greater insensibility until every moral feeling of the soul is so blunted that the sinner can sport in the midst of those scenes