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What though they do not live in the midst of sensual temptations, yet who knows how far their spirits, haviog been ime mersed in flesh and blood, may carry with thein inward raging appetites to those sinful sensualities and defiliog pleasures, of which they are for ever deprived ?
Let me ask again, bave the devils ever repented in almost six thousand years? Are they not the same enemies to God, and his glory, and his image through all ages? And though the dainned spirits of men are absent from this world, and their evil companions on earth, yet are they not in the fittest company to teach them pride, and rage, resentment and malice, and the most unfit to teach them humility, repentance, and obedience to God? And when they have perversely sinned away all the means of grace in this life, is it reasonable to imagine, that God will powerfully soften their hearts by his sovereign grace, since he bas never given the least hint or instance of it in all the disco. veries made in the bible? And has it not been often one way of God's punishing sioners here in this world, by letting them go on in their iniquity and madness to the end? And why may not the wisdom and justice of God see it fit to treat sinners who have been incorrigible in this life, by the same method in the world to come?
IV. The natural effects and consequences of sin living in the soul, are misery and torment so long as the soul lives, that is, for ever. Sin, though it be a moral evil, as it is compitted against God, yet it is such an enemy to the nature of man, that where it has established its habit and temper in the soul, it naturally prepares constant anguish of conscience and certain misery. A wicked spirit all over averse to God and goodness, gone from this world and all the soothing or busy amusements of it, intense in its desires of happiness, and yet a stranger to all that can make it truly happy, and at the same time shut out by God's righteous judgment, trom all the means and hopes of grace, must needs be iniserable, and has prepared a state of endless inisery for itself, because its nature and duration are immortal. An unluoly creature who loves not God, and cannot delight in things holy and heavenly, but derives its chief joy from sinful pleasures, can never taste of felicity, can never relish the satis. factious that come from the knowledge and love, and the enjoyment of God; and when it is torn away, and banished from all the sensible ainusements of this life, it must and will be a wretched crcature in the avorld of spirits, and that by the very course of nature : And Gol cannot be, obliged to change the established course of suure to relieve this misery which the singer had will fully brought on himself; nor can Göd make hin happy without giving him a now temper of holiness, which he is not obliged to do by any perfection of his nature or any promise of grace.
If the souls of men are immortal, such will their passions be, their desires, their fears and their sorrows. Now their naturál desires of happiness, as I have said, will be imense and strong, when God, the spring of all happiness, who hath been renounced and abandoned by them, hath now for ever forsaken them, and separated himself from them. What cau there l'emain for them but everlasting darkness and despair, without a da'wn of hope through all the ages of eternity? Their guilty con scitnices, with the views of God's unchangeable boliness, will for ever fill them with new fears and terrors, what shall be the next panishment they are to suffer. Such is the state of devils at this time, who expect a more dreadful punishment at the great day, as several places of scripture make evident. Their being immersed in the guilt of sin, and under the constant and tyrannical dominion of it, will overwhelm them with present grief with cutting sorrows and horror unspeakable, which will sink into the centre of their souls, and make them an eternal terror and plague to themselves.
Again, let us consider their immortality of soul will be spent in thiuking: And what comfortable or hopeful object is there in beaven, earth, or hell, on which they can fix or employ their thoughts for one moment, to give a short release from their extreme misery? So that they are left in endless successions of most painful thoughts and passions from the very nature of things.
Again, suppose this body of mine were by nature immortal, and was designed by my Creator in its constitution to live for ever;
and suppose by my own folly and madness, my own wila ful indulgence of appetite and passion, I had brought some dreadful distemper into my fesh which was found to be incurable, whether it be the gout or the stone, or some more terrible malady of the nervous kind, must not this gout, by necessity of nature, become an immortal gout? Must not these distempers be immortal distempers, and create eternal pain ? And is the God of nature bound to work a miracle to cure and heal these diseases which I have wilfully brought upon myself by my own iniquities, and that after many waroings? Is it uprighteous in God to let me languish on amidst my agonies and groans as loeg as iny nature continues in being, that is, to immortality. And especially when there are valuable ends in divine providence, and God's government of the world to be subserved, by suffering such wilful, rebellious, and impenitent creatures to become saeris fices to their own iniquity and his justice, and perpetual monitments to other worlds of their own madness and his fioliness. Such is the case of a sinful spirit, and therefore a God of justive may pronounce upon it, and execute the eternal miserya: 1.1
Sect. II.--The strongest and most plausible Objections against
the Perpetuity of Hell answered. I think these reasons which have been given, are sufficient to justify the ministers of the gospel in representing the punishments of hell as everlasting : But man, sinful man does not love to hear of this dreadful perpetuity of hell: They would fain find some period to these sorrows, they search on every side if there be no way for escape from this prison, no door of mercy, no cranny of hope left among the reasons of things, 'or among the attributes, or the transactions of the blessed God: And they are ever proposing some methods to cut short this eternity, which scripture ascribes to the punishment of impenitent sinners. I shall endeavour therefore here to give a fair and plain answer to the strongest objections against this doctrine which I have ever yet met with. Objection 1. The first objection is raised from a criticism on
"a the words of scripture. - The Greek and Hebrew words, say they, which we translate eternal and everlasting, where the torments of hell are mentioned, are not always used for proper and complete eternity, they sometimes signify only a long duration : So God gave Abraham and his seed the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession ; Gen. xvii. 8. but now the Turks possess it. Several of the statutes of the levitical law were said to be everlasting; Lev. xvi. 34. But they are all abolished in the gospel, . The ferred on them, Exod. xl. 15. But this office is cancelled by the kingdom of the Messiah, and finished for ever,
Besides, let it be remembered, say the objectors, that the Hebrew word by Olam, and the Greek Asw and Adures, signify oulythe various ages or periods of time which belong to the du. ration of creatures, or to some constitutions of God concerning his creatures : And they should be translated an age, or ages, more properly than any thing else : And the adjective Aswvom, when applied to creatures, can relate only to these ages ; but these expressions were never designed to enter into God's own eternity, either before the existence of this world or after the consummation of it: Upon which rcason it is highly improper and absurd to assert, that the duration or punishinent of crear tures in hell shall be properly eternal and equal to the duration of the blessed, God himself. Now since every thing in God's transactions towards his creatures is sometimes limited by these Awes or ages, which are periods of time that shall be finished, why may not the dainuation and the sorrows of hell be also finished and cancelled at a certain length of years, though the common words, which we translate eterual and everlasting, be ascri. bed to thein in scripture ?
Answer I: These are the same words both in Greek, anda
Hebrew, by which God expresses bis own eternity, which is ab. solute and complete without end. He is the everlasting God; Gen. xxi. 33.' The eternal God, and his everlasting arms; Deut. xxxiii. 27.-Rom. i. 20. and xvi. 26. and several other places. These are the words also by which the scripture expresses the duration of the felicities of heaven, and the eternal life and happiness of the saints; Dan. xii. 2.---Rom. vi. 23,—Johu ii. 15-18. Now why should we not suppose the same words to signify the same duration, when the Old or New Testament speaks of everlasting burnings as the vengeance of God against the wicked ; Isaial xxxiii. 14. or everlasting shame and contempla Dan. xii. 2. And especially where the joys of the saints, and the misery of sinners, are set in opposition to one another in the same text, as in Dan. xii. 2. and Mat. xxv. 46. The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal
? And yet further, when we find this doctrine sufficiently confirmed by many other places of scripture which set forth the eternity of these torments?. I grant that the eternity of God himself
, before this world began, or after its con: summation, las something in it so iminense and so incomprehensible, that in my most mature thoughts I do not chuse to enter into those infinite abysses ; nor do I think we ooglit usually, when we speak concerning creatures, to affirin positively, that their existence shall be equal to that of the blessed 'God, especially witli regard to the duration of their punishment ; perhaps this sort of language may carry in it something beyond what we are called to discourse about, at least in this mortal state, and therefore sucta comparisons are more safely omitted.
But I would remark here still, that these Alves or ages both of reward and punishment, which are pronounced concerning saints or sinners, do but begin in their perfection at the end of this world ; and thence it follows, that they must enter far into the eternity of God's existence yet to come: And the saints will be made happy, and the sinners will be punished for long ages after the end of this world, and all the Alaves or ages of it. And though God, by his Spirit, has not been pleased to make this comparison expressly, nor assert our duration commensurate with his own, yét he is plcased to express the duration of the punishiment of sinners in the same common language and plirases, whereby' he expresses his own duration, and the happiness of thie saints; and hereby he encourages us to express these punishments by the same common words in our language too, rather than venture to cut them short by a Greek or Hebrew criticism, Without any divine warrant or necessity.* -10. 0103The word aidinisi perpetual, is applied to the chains of devils ; Jude, verse 6. as well as to God; Rom. i. 20. aod bowever the word arow aná nieves pay be used for ages or periods in this world, yet etwas swn awwwww, or ages of ugesi-never applied in all the New Testament to any thing but God or Christ,
Now are there any sinners so void of understanding, of so daring and desperate a mind, as to venture their eternal all upon such a poor criticisin of words! Even upow supposition these terms in the Greek and Hebrew might signify any long duration short of eternity; yet there is a terrible hazard in confiving them to this sense, since they do denote a proper eternity, when they describe the duration of the blessed God; and I think we may add also, the duration of the bappiness of the saints.
Besides, let it be remenbered, that the other expressions of scripture, 'whichi denote and pronounce the perpetuity or eternity of these punislıments, are not liable to the same criticism or anbiguity of a word. Their fire shall be unquenchable, or is not quenched, their worm dieth not. They have no rest day nor-night
, they shall be tormented day and night for erer and ever ; Rev. xiv. 10, 11. aod xx. 10. These expressions seem to carry with them a more certain signification of the perpetual continuance of the punishment. Now can the temper and the deceiver of souls have so unhappy an influence over you, as to persuade you to venture onward in the paths of sin, to pat off religion and delay your repentance, and neglect the means of salvation, in hopes that hereafter this weak criticism, upon some of the threatenings, may take place before the Judge of the whole earth, and thus excuse or save you? Is not such a sorry refuge and presumption a dangerous and a dismal sign upon impenitent sinners, that sin and Satan have darkened your understanding, and confounded your judgment, as well as hardened your hearts, in order to your everlasting destruction
Answer II. Suppose the punishments of hell continue only for a long time, and not for an endless immortality, yet this time would certainly be found exceeding long for sinners to bear the torment eved according to their own criticisms. Let'us consider this matter under some particulars. The Jewish dispensation, which is sometimes called everlasting, stood near about fifteen hundred years, from Moses to Christ; and are ye content to languish and groan under torments and miseries, for fifteen liundredi years, merely to satisfy your vicious appetites of pleasure for ** few days or a few years of this niortal life Again,'! "
The rebellious sinners who were destroyed at the food and their spirits, which were sent into the prison of hades or hell, were certainly confined there four and twenty hundred years : And if they were released then, as some imagine, by the preaching of Christ to them, it is a long and dreadful time to continue under the vengeance of Of God; and is it worth while for any
man to continue inşir on earth, and to venture this tength of punishior the betadiness or Sints, or the prinishment of sinners, and therefore we may
! well conclude, that all these four run into an eternity beyond all uke rapposed periods of this world, and far beyond all our eoneeptions.