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of enormity, which would have shocked his soul and struck him dumb in the commencement of his vicious career. The man of general good life and upright intentions, feels much more distress at the slightest deviation from moral rectitude than the most abandoned libertine careering in his licentious course, who has given himself up to work all manner of filthiness with greediness. The first deviation from probity is attended by a keen sense of guilt; conscience is on the alert. On a second offence conscience feels less, and so, until she is lulled to sleep, and sin is punished with little or no remorse. With this view the testimony of scripture accords. We read of some who have “ their conscience seared as with a hot iron," 1 Tim. iv. 2. We read of others, “who being past feeling, have given themselves over unto laciviousness to work all manner of uncleanness with greediness," Eph. iv. 9.
2. On the supposition that the sinner receives his full punishment in this life, it cannot be known how great, or how small an evil the punishment of sin is. may
tell sinners that for their transgression they must be punished, and that except they repent they will perish, but how much they must suffer we cannot inform them; we cannot threaten them with an hour's punishment, for the worst of crimes; for we know not that they will live an hour. The law of God does not inform its subjects how much they must suffer if they incur its penalty, if there is no punishment after death. The sinner knows he cannot suffer long, but does not know that he shall suffer another day or hour; for the law, with all its threatened penalties, does not give assurance that we shall survive that length of time; therefore God's law does not positively threaten the sinner with an hour's punishment, unless it threaten punishment after death. How long the sinner must suffer for his sin is therefore as uncertain as the day of his death; and more so, for while it is asserted that punishment shall not exist after death, it is not contended that the sinner will certainly be punished up to that period.
3. It cannot be known who suffer for sin, if its punishment be all endured in this life. We cannot know who are the subjects of divine punishment, by the sins of which those around us are guilty ; for some commit their deeds in darkness, and others conceal the heart of a hypocrite under an
external appearance of sanctity. Nor can we discover who are the objects of divine punishment by the suffering we see men endure, for there is no visible suffering endured by the wicked to which the righteous are not exposed, and sometimes actually endure. It is clear then that we cannot know in this world who suffer for their sins.
4. If sin receive its full punishment in this world, we can see no important object to be secured by it; no object worthy of the divine administration. It cannot be to make an exhibition of the divine justice, nor to vindicate the divine law and government; for no exhibition is made of the punishment inflicted, nor of the subjects on whom it falls. It cannot be to make the sufferer an example to others; for neither the sufferers nor the punishment they endure is known as above stated. Nor can punishment be designed to reclaim the sufferer if it be confined to this world; for if there is no punishment after death, all will, of necessity, be reformed when they die; hence, if reformation be the end of punishment, such reformation must be confined to this life. To say men are punished in this life to reform them after death, would be to admit that they will be sinners in a future state, and consequently subject to punishment. If punishment, then, is designed to reform the sinner, it must reform him in this world, or be continued after death, or fail of its design, as we have shown in a preceding argument. Now, it is notorious, that all sinners are not reformed in this life; some sin and blaspheme with their last breath. This leaves no motive to punish the sinner for sins committed just as he is leaving the world; for, as the reformation which punishment is designed to effect has exclusive reference to this life, it can be of little consequence just as the sinner is entering eternity. To punish a dying sinner to reform him, with exclusive reference to this world, when in a week, a day or an hour, he will certainly be conveyed by death where his sin cannot follow him, and where he will need no reform, looks to us to be unworthy of the divine administration.
That punishment is not designed to reform, and that it does not result in reformation, on the supposition that it is confined to this life, is farther evident from the fact, that sinners themselves do not always know when they are punish
ed, or that they are punished at all for sin in this life. We are liable to suffering here whether we sin or not; and who can tell which of his trials and sufferings are to punish him for his sins, and which are his natural inheritance, as a citizen of this world of sorrow ? Not only so, but some have lived and died in a belief that God never punishes sin, in this world or in the world to come. Such persons are not only without reformation by their punishment, but on the supposition that sin is fully punished in this world, they receive the whole penalty of Jehovah's law without knowing that they are punished for sin.
It is clear then, if sinners be punished in this life all they deserve, their punishment cannot be designed to display the divine justice, nor to vindicate the divine government and authority. It cannot be to make the punished an example to others, nor can it be to reform the sufferer; to which we add, it therefore can reflect no glory upon the divine attributes, upon
the divine administration. It must therefore follow that sinners go unpunished, or endure a punishment which can answer no important end to the punished, to others, nor to the divine government, or else they must be punished in a future state ; and to us the latter appears most consistent.
IV. It does not appear that wicked men suffer more in this life than many of the most pious.
We have shown in a preceding argument that it cannot be known in what the punishment of sin consists, nor on whom it is inflicted, if it be confined to this world. This certainly goes far towards proving that the wicked do not suffer more in this life than those whom the scriptures denominate righteous; for if we cannot know what, and how much punishment the sinner endures in this life, we think it must be difficult to prove that he suffers more than the good man, around whom wants and sorrows often gather, and storms of adversity and persecution howl. But we will not rest the argument on a supposed impossibility of proving that sinners do always suffer more in this life than the righteous, but will attempt to show that they do not. The righteous have sometimes endured all that men are capable of suffering in the flesh. They have endured cold and hunger, nakedness, famine, prisons, racks, fire, and sword. Many devoted chris
tians have closed their eyes amid the hellish tortures of an inquisition. Now we ask, what more than all these have wicked men suffered ? Some, it is true, have endured the same or similar trials; but many others who have been very wicked have endured none of them, but have walked through life in paths perpetually cheered by the sunshine of prosperity. Do universalists say that sinners suffer from a guilty conscience, what is paramount to all those evils which sometimes fall in the path of the righteous ? We reply,
1. That this is what can never be proved.
2. It is what the sinner will not himself admit. What sinner will say that he suffers more than would equal the afflictions of Job, the trials of Jeremiah, or the labours and sufferings of Paul?
3. It is what we think no man of sober thought will believe. Who will believe that the wicked men of their acquaintance, who are surrounded by all the good things of this world, and appear sportfully merry, actually suffer more than the devoted christian, whose sighs escape from his dungeon through iron grates, or whose groans tell the deadly work of the instrument of torture ? If it be said that the righteous have the support of religion amid all these trials, it is granted; but we add,
1. The wicked have many blessings, such as health, peace, and plenty, of which many of the godly have not been permitted to taste; and these mercies must serve much to mitigate their sorrow, admitting that they are punished here.
2. The righteous, amid all the supports which religion affords, endure much mental distress to which the ungodly are strangers; the best men often
weep, while wicked men rejoice. Hear the Prophet exclaim, “O that my my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night.” Hear an Apostle declare, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” Consider that these are exercises which sinners never feel, and we think it will appear that wicked men do not always suffer more in this life than good men.
Indeed if the tears of both were numbered, we have no doubt it would appear that the an of God sheds the most. This argument may be thus stated : If sinners are punished in this life all their sins
deserve, they must suffer more than the righteous. But sinners do not always suffer more in this life than the righteous, therefore they are not punished in this life all their sins deserve, and consequently must be punished in a future state.
V. If there is no punishment after death, it must follow that the piety of the pious, and the wickedness of the wicked can affecť them only in this life ; all the consequences of virtue and vice, here, must cease at death. To say that the virtue of good men, or the vice of bad men, will affect them after death, would be to admit the doctrine of future punishment. Taking this view of the subject, it is obvious that to deny future punishment is to dispossess religion, at least, of most of its motive influence with which it addresses itself to the better interests of mankind.
1. The pious have no object to secure by their fidelity in religion, only what they enjoy in this life. Suppose then, as universalists must, to be consistent with their own theory, that prophets, apostles, confessors and martyrs, knew that their profession of the truth which brought upon them the contempt of the world, the frown of kings, and prepared the rack to torture them, and the fiery fagot to burn them; suppose, we say, that they knew the benefits of their profession would last no longer than the sufferings which they endured for its sake, and can any one believe that they would have braved all the storm of persecution that fell upon them with such undying fortitude as marked their career? Would Moses have chosen to suffer affliction with the people of God on earth, if he had believed that he could enjoy the splendour of the Egyptian throne and heaven too? Would Paul have endured what he did for the sake of the gospel, had he believed that himself and all others would be just as well off at death without the gospel as with it? Would he have warned every one, night and day, with tears, if he had known that all distinction between the righteous and the wicked would cease at death? We see then that the course pursued by the prophets, apostles, and fathers, was such as would not have resulted from a belief that the conduct of the present life has nothing to do with our future destiny. Had they believed that their perseverance in the truth would not benefit them after death, their blood would never have stained the ground, nor