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And why is not this equally true of the Governor of the universe ? If it be, then endless punishment must be one essential part of his government, as necessary to display, in the clearest light, his infinite righteousness and goodness.
Thus it appears, from the view given of it under this head, that endless punishment will serve to manifest and display the divine perfections and character, and in what way and man. ner it will do this, and why it is necessary in order to answer this infinitely important end, so much to the glory of God, and consequently for the good and happiness of all who love him.
But that infinite goodness is exercised and displayed in punishing the wicked forever, will be more fully proved under the next head; where it will be particularly considered, as it respects and will promote the general good, the glory and happiness of the kingdom of God.
III. The eternal punishment of the wicked will many ways promote the highest good of the blessed, especially the redeemed from among men, and is the most proper and necessary means of their unspeakably greater degree of holiness and happiness forever than could otherwise take place; and, therefore, must be agreeable to infinite goodness, and a strong expression of it.
The exercise and manifestation of God's displeasure against his enemies, and the enemies of his church and people, in condemning and punishing them according to their deserts and evil deeds, and vindicating his servants and their cause, and saving and delivering them from the hand and power of their adversaries, causing them to triumph over all that injured them, is certainly an instance and expression of his righteousness and goodness. The Holy Scriptures every where represent it in this light, of which every person, attentive to his Bible, must be sensible. God, in vindicating the righteous cause of his servants, by delivering and saving them, and manifesting his high displeasure against their enemies, by condemning and punishing them as they deserve, exercises and displays his righteousness; and, at the same time this righteousness is nothing but kindness and mercy to his church and people; and the more his displeasure and anger towards bis and their enemies is manifested in the greatness of the righteous punishment inflicted upon them, the greater is the expression of his goodness to them, and they are unspeakably more happy in the righteousness of God and in his love and favor to them, than they could have been had they not been thus vindicated and delivered, and their enemies had not been destroyed and punished with everlasting destruction; therefore, the righteousness of God, as it respects this case, is often spoken of in Scripture as including his goodness; and righteousness and salvation are words frequent used as synonymous, as every careful reader of his Bible must have observed. The following passages, among a multitude of others, serve to illustrate these observations: “ Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape. Let them be confounded and consumed that are adversaries to my soul. But I will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness, and thy salvation all the day.” (Ps. lxxi. 2, 13, etc.) * For thy righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul.” (Ps. cxliii. 11, 12.) " By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation.” (Ps. Ixv. 5.) “ Rejoice, O ye nations, his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” (Deut. xxxii. 43.)
Therefore, the divine vengeance and eternal punishment that shall be inflicted on the wicked is represented in Scripture to be in the clear and full view of the redeemed and inhabitants of heaven, as a means of exciting and greatly increasing their love, joy, and praise. Speaking of the wicked, he says, “ God shall destroy thee forever. The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him.” (Ps. lii. 5, 6.) ** He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Ps. Iviii. 9, 10.) “ Render unto our neighbors sevenfold into their bosoms, their reproach wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord. So we, thy people, will give thee thanks forever.” (Ps. Ixxix. 12, 13.) *Only with thine eyes
“ shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the wicked.” (Ps. xci. 8.) “ And they shall go
forth and look
the of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isa. lxvi. 24.) “ And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever.” (Rev xiv. 10.) “ Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” (Rev. xviii. 20.)
“ After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God; for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath
avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia, and her smoke rose up forever and ever." (Rev. xix. 1, etc.)
None, surely, will dispute the goodness of God in punishing his enemies, and the enemies of his church and kingdom, so far, and as long, as shall be necessary to secure and promote the best interest and highest happiness and glory of all who belong to this kingdom ; for that goodness itself should do this, is agreeable to common sense and reason. And this is asserted in the Holy Scripture. God there represents himself as giving people and nations up to ruin and destruction, for the sake of his church, as the effect and expression of his love and goodness. “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Is. xliii. 3, 4.) In these words there is reference to the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, for the sake of Israel, that they might be delivered to the greatest advantage to themselves, as an example of what God would yet do for his church. And when we see Moses and that people rejoicing and praising God, for his goodness in overthrowing and taking vengeance on his and their enemies in such a signal and dreadful manner, we approve of it as reasonable, for it was, viewed in all its connections and consequences, a wonderful act of divine goodness. Therefore it is celebrated as such, and made matter of solemn, joyful praise to God in Ps. cxxxvi. “To Him that smote Egypt in their first born ; for his mercy endureth forever. To Him which divided the Red Sea into parts, and made Israel to pass through the midst of it; for his mercy endureth forever. But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea ; for his mercy endureth forever."
And if this was such a remarkable instance of God's goodness and mercy, thus to punish and destroy Pharaoh and the Egyptians, for the sake of his church, to promote their good and happiness, when he could have delivered them without this destruction, but not so much to his glory and their advantage, and in this God made a display of his glorious character and infinite goodness, as matter of admiration, joy, and praise to his church, and to be celebrated forever; then it is equally an instance of his goodness, yea, an infinitely greater and more remarkable instance of it, and proportionably brighter display of his glorious character, and greater matter of eternal joy and praise, to punish forever the impenitent enemies of his redeemed church, this being necessary, in order to promote their highest good, to make their redemption most complete and glorious, and raise them to the greatest height of felicity and glory
It is now to be more particularly considered and shown how the everlasting punishment of the wicked is suited, and even necessary, to answer these ends.
It has been already observed and shown how well suited and necessary endless punishment is, to make a full and most glorious display of the divine character, in the view of the blessed. In this will be seen, as could not be seen so clearly and to such advantage by any other medium, or without this, the infinite greatness, power, and terrible majesty of Jehovah; and also his infinite excellence and worthiness, and his hatred and displeasure, his indignation and wrath against sin, and his infinite benevolence and goodness, to which sin is opposed. The smoke of their torment shall
' ascend up in the sight of the blessed forever and ever, and serve, as a most clear glass, always before their eyes, to give them a constant, bright, and most affecting view of all these. And all this display of the divine character and glory will be in favor of the redeemed, and most entertaining, and give the highest pleasure to all who love God, and raise their happiness to ineffable heights, whose felicity consists summarily in the knowledge and enjoyment of God. This eternal punishment must therefore be unspeakably to their advantage, and will add such immense degrees of glory and happiness to the kingdom of God, as inconceivably to overbalance all they will suffer, who shall fall under this righteous punishment, and render it all, in this view and connection, an infinite good. But it will further appear how useful and necessary the endless punishment of the wicked is, to the highest good and happiness of the redeemed, and all the friends of God, by attending to the following particulars :
1. The eternal existence of sin, in all its horrors, acted out without restraint, with the infinite evil which is the natural and just consequence of it, taking place in the sight of the inhabitants of heaven, will serve to manifest and illustrate the beauty, excellence, and worth of holiness, and the happiness of all holy beings, and forever brighten the character of God and all his friends, and render the blessed unspeakably more sensible of their happiness, and of the beauty and happiness of each other, than they could be if there were no such contrast.
It is well known that contraries illustrate each other, and that the greatest beauty cannot appear to the best advantage without a shade; that deformity gives a lustre to beauty, and
evil magnifies and sweetens the contrary good. This contrast will take place to the highest possible degree, and to the greatest advantage forever, by endless punishment, and cannot be without it; therefore it is necessary to the highest happiness and glory of heaven.
2. The eternal punishment of the wicked, in the sight of the redeemed, will serve, incessantly, to keep fresh in their view the infinite evil of sin, and, in the most effectual, lively manner, teach them and make them feel their own infinite ill desert, and the infinitely evil case in which they should have been, had God treated them according to their deserts, and so keep in clear and constant view the infinite guilt and misery from which they have been redeemed, and maintain in their minds a lively, growing sense of all this.
There are many other ways in which they are and will be taught these things, but this will add great instruction, which they could not have without it, and it is better suited than any other to keep up their attention, and give them a more lively, constant, affecting apprehension and sense of them. It is of great importance, and necessary, that the redeemed should be under the best advantage to see these truths, in order to their glorifying God in the best manner, and enjoying the highest happiness. For,
3. This is necessary in order to their most clearly seeing, and celebrating to the highest degree, the goodness of God, his astonishing grace and mercy in their redemption. Had there been no sin, guilt, and misery, there could have been no such thing as redeeming love and grace ever known or thought of by creatures; and this is great in proportion to the greatness of the guilt, vileness, ill desert, and misery of the sinner, and the former cannot be known any farther than the latter are discovered and seen; therefore, redeeming love and goodness can be no farther seen and celebrated by the redeemed than they realize their ill desert and the infinite guilt and misery from which they are redeemed. In the light of this only is seen the goodness and sovereign grace of God to them in their redemption; and in proportion to their sight and sense of this will they feel and adore the goodness of God to the redeemed, and their hearts glow with the most sincere, sweet gratitude and joy, while they give all the praise and glory to God, for the distinction made between them and those who in their sight are forever unutterably miserable; and their enjoyment and happiness, their love, gratitude, and praise, will rise in proportion to their view and sense of God's infinite, astonishing goodness and distinguishing sovereign grace to them and all the redeemed. Therefore, while they