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It is not merely for his own felicity that the good man is concerned. He looks beyond himself. The destiny of others affects his own. If the great majority of his fellow-creatures are to be banished to irremediable and endless woe, he feels that he cannot be happy. « Merciful Father, (his own felicity excites the exclamation, and he cannot repress it; Merciful Father he cries,) can any attribute of thy nature require this! Canst thou have formed the great majority of thy creatures on purpose to torment them! Oh no: every perfection of thy nature, the operation of which is felt by man, must be exerted for his good!
Viewing, then, the attribute of justice, which has been supposed to require the endless misery of the greater part of the human race, as that very principle which is designed to prevent this terrible consequence, he feels himself capable of relying with implicit confidence on the decisions of the Judge, both with regard to himself and to all mankind. He is satisfied that he will treat even the most criminal with perfect equity; that he will place them in circumstances the best adapted to their unhappy condition ; that his discipline will ultimately accomplish its end, and extirpate sin and misery from the creation.
By this attribute, then, must be determined the future destiny of all reasonable beings! How deeply ought this solemn truth to be engraven on every mind! How weak, how foolish is the indulgence of any criminal propensity! The scrutiny of Omniscience is on us. The power of Omnipotence surrounds us. The decisions of unerring justice await us. Who then can sin with the hope of impunity ? Let the wicked man hear and tremble; for remorse and woe await him; and let him that conceiveth iniquity in his heart, consider with himself, that justice and judgment are the habitation of the throne of the Great Being with whom he has to do.
OF THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF ENDLESS MISERY,
FOUNDED ON THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY.
If the justice of God afford no argument in favor of the doctrine of endless misery, still less, is it supported by the Divine sovereignty. If by the sovereignty of God be meant his exemption from control, this may be a reason for his doing what is right, but cannot be a reason for his doing what is wrong. If he have benevolence to design the ultimate happiness of all, wisdom to discern the means of securing his purpose,
and if he be absolutely sovereign, that is, if there be no superior power to control his will, this is so far from affording an argument against the final prevalence of purity and enjoyment, that it forms a solid foundation on which the hope of it may be established,
If from the sovereignty of God it be inferred, that he can do whatever he pleases, this conclusion is certainly just ; but at the same time it must be remembered, that there are some things which he cannot will. To suppose, for example, that he could create millions of beings with a determination to doom them to intolerable and
idea of his character which natural and revealed religion teach, and cannot possibly be proved by the admission that he possesses unlimited power ; for though he is sovereign, and can do what he wills, he is also good, and cannot will what is malevolent.
It has been objected to the doctrine of Universal Restoration, as has already been observed, that it places the future happiness of mankind on the footing of right and claim. Nothing can be less true. The advocates of this opinion are so far from believing that endless happiness can be demanded as a right, that they contend that no creature has a claim to existence itself, much less to this or to that degree of enjoyment. They maintain that life is so entirely a free gift, that every intelligent being, however low his rank in the scale of creation, or however little his happiness exceeds his misery, ought, if his pleasure does preponderate, to receive the boon with gratitude : but they contend, that if the balance of enjoyment be-against him, he has nothing for which to be thankful, and that a benevolent being who causes him to live for ever, must make his immortality a blessing. : Such, then, are the arguments which are commonly urged in support of the doctrine of End. less Misery, whether derived from the language of Scripture, or from considerations which are independent of it. If to affirm, that no sober
mind can consider them with candor without being satisfied of their insufficiency and fallacy, be rather the language of strong individual conviction, than of prudence or of truth ; it
may least be said, that the preceding observations de serve the serious attention of every person' who wishes to contemplate the Deity with reverence and love, or to vindicate the claims of the Christian system to the respect and reception of reflective men.
The cheering and benevolent tendency of a belief in the ultimate happiness of all intelligent beings ought, at least, to entitle it to attention. He who believes that the whole system of things is under the wisest and the best direction, has a source of consolation which must be entirely unknown to him whose system leads him to suspect that the wisdom and benevolence of its author are limited and partial. Embracing the faith of the first, when true to my principles, I can contemplate the present with complacency, and anticipate the future with delight. I can look upon adversity with resignation, upon prosperity with a calm and chastened joy. I can smile even in those moments when neither philosophy nor religion can check the starting tear. I see, it is true, that man is born to trouble, that his days are few and evil, that impurity stains him, that passion blinds him, that evil of every kind assails him, and that a future state will increase