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der the existence of these unhappy persons, upon the whole, a curse. If the Creator saw that any combination of circumstances would be attended with this consequence, he would either have prevented the occurrence of such a train of events, or have with held the fiat which was about to call the sufferers into life. It has been proved that every benevolent being would certainly do the one or the other.
Either, therefore, there must be, even in the state of punishment; a greater prevalence of happiness than misery, which is contrary to the general idea of that state; or, if this be not the case, since it must render the existence of millions of creatures infinitely worse upon the whole than non-existence, it is irre. concileable with the Divine benignity.
If, however, any advocate of the doctrine of destruction, should affirm that he does not adopt this opinion of the state of punishment, but believes that, at the winding up of the great drama of life, every intelligent being will have reason to bless his Creator for his existence, it is cheerfully admitted that this argument does not apply against his hypothesis ; but surely while his heart glows with pleasure at the generous conclusion he adopts, he cannot but wish that his satisfaction could be perfected by the sight of pure, happy, and ever-improving intelligences, in the room of that awful - and eternal blank
which must press upon his view, and close the
* It affords me great satisfaction to perceive that this argument in favor of the doctrine of Universal Restoration, founded on the resurrection of the wicked, which I think extremely important, and even decisive of the controversy, impressed with equal force the mind of my much-respected friend, the late Dr. Estlin, of Bristol. I cannot reflect without pleasure on the conversations I enjoyed with him on this subject at an early period of my life, and to which I owe, probably, much of that interest and zeal with which I have since pursued the inquiry. Intelligent, amiable, benevolent, admiring and loving the worthy and the wise, pitying, with Charity's own tenderness, the vicious, cheerful and diffusing cheerfulness, he lived-he diedTas CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHER. Part of the passage in his Discourses on Universal Restitution, which has led me to the mention of his name, (and who that knew him can refer to his name without paying it a tribute of respect ?) I must allow myself the pleasure of quoting.
“It is proper to mention two doctrines, which, if they had been sufficiently adverted to, one would suppose the idea of the final destruction of the wicked) could never have entered the human mind.”
"The first is that the wicked, without doubt, constitute by far the greater part of the human race. This truth, which, although it is reconcileable to infinite benevolence, yet to a heart which is susceptible of the finest human affections, is, after all, a most painful consideration, cannot be evaded. The voice of Infallibility hath spoken it; the elevated standard of Christian morality, compared with the general moral state of mankind, confirms it; every analogy of nature points out to it. Enter ye in at the strait gate ; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and
Such are the arguments in favor of the doctrine of Limited Punishment, terminated by Destruc
many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'
“ The next doctrine, which must not be forgotten, (I confess I found myself inclined to give it up, when I saw clearly that the doctrine of Annihilation could not be maintained in consis. tency with it,) is the resurrection of the wicked. If the Scriptures had positively asserted that the wicked would not rise, and that their death would be the final extinction of their being, the mind must have acquiesced in what, reasoning from the infinite benevolence of God, the best foundation of reasoning, it would still have acknowledged a difficulty: if the Scriptures had said nothing on the subject, their resurrection and restoration to virtue and happiness might, I think, have been inferred from the same sure and certain principles. They do not, however, leave any room for doubt on the subject. It is expressly said, “ AU that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth : they that have done good to the resurrection of life, they that have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.' Every account which is given in Scripture of the day of judgment confirms this.
“ The doctrine of Annihilation, then, supposes that by far the greater part of mankind were created by a benevolent and holy Being, whose prescience foresaw how they would act, to be vicious and die, to be raised from the dead, re-organized or recreated, to be miserable, and then to undergo a public execution, by which they would be for ever blotted out of this creation. Some of the wisest and best men that the world ever produced, have adopted this scheme of the origin, progress, and end of the Divine dispensations. I know we are apt to overlook the fate of this immense multitude ; and a most baneful
tion, and such are the difficulties with which the hypothesis is encumbered. Every objection which is commonly urged by intelligent persons against the opinion, that it is the great design of the Divine government to bring all mankind to a state of perfect purity and happiness, whether derived from the doctrine of Endless Alisery, or from that of total and eternal Destruction, has
effect upon the human mind, upon all the institutions of society, and particularly upon penal jurisprudence, has this overlooking of what others, even the majority, suffer. My brethren, if the fact be so, fix your minds upon it. You have often regarded with admiration that curious effect of the Divine power, the human body; the delicate structure of the eye and the ear, the nerves and brain, the veins and arteries, and the various organs of sensation, respiration, and motion, you have contemplated with devout wonder the faculties of the human mind; you have acknowledged with grateful satisfaction that God is Love; that every organ, that every power both of body and mind, is an inlet to enjoyment; and that man was formed in the image of God, that he might be the object of his favor for ever. Contemplate the scene which is now to take place. What a process is going on througbè nature! Myriads of those beings are to be raised from the dead, that is, re-organized, re-formed, or recreated, (a work, to which Omnipotence alone is equal, for the laws of nature are nothing but the mode of operation of the God of nature,) to be miserable in a greater or less degree, according to their degrees of guilt, and at length to be finally destroyed by fire! The mind cannot dwell on this idea !"-Discourses on Universal Restitution, delivered to the Society of Protestant Dissenters in Lewin's Mead, Bristol. By John Prior Estlin, LL.D., pp. 82-87.
now been fully considered. With regard to the doctrine of Endless Misery, it has been shown, that the terms everlasting, eternal, for ever, for ever and ever, &c., on which it is chiefly founded, do not denote duration without end, but only a lasting period : that even if it could be proved that these expressions, when applied to the subject of future punishment, must necessarily be taken in the sense of endless, it would by no means warrant the conclusion, that the wicked will be kept alive in misery through the ages of eternity ; because it is everlasting punishment, not everlasting torment, with which the wicked are threatened : that the application of the same term to the duration of the punishment of the wicked, and the happiness of the righteous, by no means proves that both are of equal continu. ance; because this word denotes different de grees of duration, when applied to different subjects ; because the nature of these two subjects is not only not the same, but directly opposite ; and because many considerations prove, that one of these states will be truly everlasting, but that the other cannot be so : that the argument derived from the metaphor of fire, and particularly from the expression unquenchable fire, is totally fallacious, because this language is used respecting fires which have been extinguished for ages, and respecting places which have since flourished,