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fiction of our fancy, which imagines that a virtuous disposition, amiable in human beings, would suit also the perfection of their Maker. In considering the moral attributes of God, the best guides we can possess are the dispensations of his natural and moral government, which, as far as our weak intellects can comprehend them, afford direct evidences of his character. From an examination of these, it should seem, that we much mistake the nature of Divine Benevolence, which appears to be identified with justice, and to consist, not in an infinite affection towards all his works, but in an infinite affection only towards the virtuous part of them; and to be balanced at the same time by a detestation equally infinite, of that part which is vicious.

The attributes of the Almighty being thus considered, punishment is a consequence of sin, as necessary, and resulting as directly from his moral nature, as the rewards of virtue: and the eternal torments of the wicked, their crimes being supposed to be proportionate, would follow as a natural emanation from the same system. If such then be the establishment of God's moral government, endless late be granted, his powers are limited indeed; for then it is impossible for him to create above one system, supreme excellence being one. Even Lord Bacon, in his celebrated confession of faith, supposes it to have been impossible for God to have created any thing which would have seemed good in his eyes, unless washed by the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Cannot God then be at once All-pure and Almighty ? Like flatterers ignorant of their trade, we debase where we mean to exalt.

misery is of course possible; and those who deny it can deny it only sub modo, by asserting that no crimes committed on earth can deserve such a retribution. This would be daring, if not impious ; and perhaps it is sufficient to reply, that if sin be in itself so odious as to admit of no atonement but the sufferings of God himself, they can have little room to hope for mercy, who aggravate crimes inexpiable without such a miracle, by the defiance of those sufferings which might have purchased their safety. It is of little import whether we can or cannot reconcile these awful dispensations with our notions of the Creator ; they speak to us with a voice sufficiently intelligent, and declare that such is the conduct of the Almighty, whether we inay please to approve of it or not.

Thus much is sufficient to prove that the doctrines of our Church, on this head, contain in them nothing contradictory to the Attributes of Providence, as evident in his conduct before us, and this, ad homines, is enough; for then they stand on the evidence of the Holy Scriptures unaffected by any antecedent improbability. But the truth is, that analogy goes further than these negative proofs, and all its additional testimony will be found to incline to the same side. It is observable, that in the government of this world, punishments are much more generally distributed than rewards. Misery of all kinds is frequent and public, while happiness is silent and invisible: an awful lesson, well calculated to teach us that our God is a God of judgment; and to warn us, lest relying too much on the infinite mercies he has vouchsafed us, we should forget the more tremendous parts of his administration. Are we disposed to think leniently of our sins, and be lieve it incredible that the threatened vengeance should be thus unlimited ? Let us recollect, that those who, to our dim vision, seem purified from sin and elevated almost to angelic excellence, have certainly in some, and perhaps in all ages, been the objects of the severest visitations. If then it be so, that failings, to us invisible, bring with them such fearful consequences, how shall we calculate the sum of evil to be poured forth on his head, whose life has been devoted to iniquity, unqualified by any virtue? Imagination shrinks from such a consideration, and can repose only in humble resignation on the merits of a merciful Redeemer.

Beyond, however, these proofs of the probable severity of punishments, the course of events in this world affords yet one instance directly analogous to the doctrine in dispute; and the conduct of Providence, in the one case, affords a strong presumption that the same will be adopted in the other. Imprudence in temporal concerns appears to bear the same relation to the present state, as moral misconduct may be supposed to bear to a future one. Now, it is observable, that though imprudent conduct, to a certain point, may be wholly or partially repaired, yet, when that point is past, it is even here irretrievable; no repentance can atone, no labours can avert the consequences ; but the ills naturally åttendant on such actions come on irresistibly upon us, till a prematare death finally closes the scene The man who by early inteinperance wastes his health, his fortune, and his character, has a season of probation allowed him, in which reformation is practicable; but the day soon comes when even reformation is vain; when their “ fear cometh as desolation, and their destruction as a whirlwind.”

If then there be any force in analogical reasoning, and if this analogy be correct, a strong presumption is here afforded, from the circumstances which actually pass before our eyes, of the truth of that doctrine, which our Church is content to rest only on the words of the New Testament; so little foundation is there for the assertion that it is a priori improbable.

I have one more observation to offer in confirmation of this truth, before we proceed to the evidences of revelation. The constitution of our nature is such that it is scartely possible for us to continue stationary. Habits, whether good or evil, are daily strengthening ; and in proportion as we press on in virtue or vice, the difficulty of receding is increased ; and it is easy to conceive these habits so advanced by constant exertion, as to leave nothing more than an abstract possibility of any future alteration. Such is the state of the case even here; but we know that with this life the hour of probation will be ended. If, therefore, we may venture to reason at all concerning the mysteries of a future world, it should

• This argument from the analogy of death may be found in Bishop Butler.

seem almost naturally impossible to banish the eternity of punishments : for God's moral governinent being supposed the same, punishments must he attendant upon crimes ; and those who, at the time of their dissolution, had reached any considerable height of depravity, must, according to the present constitution of things, daily sink deeper in vite, by the daily corroboration of their vicious habits; and thus crimes and their attendant punishments must continue in a perpetually accelerating and eternal progression.

As a refuge from these fearful auguries, we can look only to the mercies of God and the merits of our Saviour ; but even these, though the source of all comfort, are pregnant also with awful considera: tions, since the first, we know are conditional, and the latter attest the consequence of unrepented sins. Whether these arguments would in themselves be sufficient to prove the truth of the doctrine I maintain, is not very material to determine, but I hope they will be thought so far to remove all the usual objections, as to allow the mind to look for its confirmation in Holy Writ, without any disposition to Cavil at it when discovered.

The observations which I have already offered, would have been of less importance, had the doctrine now under examination met with no opposition. To me the words of Revelation are fully adequate to its establishment ; but the history of heresy, in every age, may assure us, that no language, however direct, would be thought convincing by those whose VOL. II.


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