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the eburch for not believing in his wonderful change and perpetuity
If we could suppose tbere is any gratitude in the devil, would he spare a thousand compliments for the honor, which that council bas endeavored to con. fer upon him? They have arraigned an innocent brother at their bar; they professed to try him for his religious sentiments ; but their great concern appeared, to know his faith concerning this evil character; and they have judged him accordingly. They find he does not believe in their opinion of bis origin ; he devies his endless existence; and does not credit his power and dominion, to the extent which they profess. They hare therefore decided that he should be excluded from the church. Had the friends of this evil and notorious character heen thus jealous for his name, could they have done him a more pleasing service? What then, when his professed enemies go so far as to reject a brother for denying him ? Servants of the Lord, consider these things. “Therefore now amend your ways, and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
ON THE NATURE OF PUNISHMENT.
[Concluded from No. II.] Now if the righteous possess the greatest possible blessedness, and the wicked suffer the greatest possible misery, the happiness of the righteous being promoted by the misery of the wicked through a display of divine justice, and the misery of the wicked by the happiness of the righteous, if there be more among the miserable, as is generally believedl, than among the righteous, the balance, respecting happiness and misery: must then turn in favor of misery. Instead, then, of promoting the greater blessedness, it promotes the
greater misery. Thus we find the Hopkinsian doetrine subverts itself; for it embraces, for the elect, but a small number in proportion to the whole.
As one person is as capable of suffering an infinite punishment as a multitude, would not the salvation of all but one produce, on this plan, the greatest possible blessedness? Or must there be an addition to endless misery, to feed the felicity of heavenly wouls !!
Should the Hopkinsian say, that if there be more among the damned than among the blessed it destroys not bis system, because their felicity is so much the more abundant in consequence of the number of the damned; then the same might hold true, though the elect should be reduced to the number that went out of Sodom, previous to her destruction.
Endless punishment, we have before said, capnot be for the benefit of the sufferer; nor do many believe it is for the general good of the whole, in any sepse whatever. It is argued to be a requirement of divine justice. But the inference is visible from this idea, that divine justice requires what is not good, or what does not beneat. It makes it further evident that in the execution of divine justice, there can be no good desiga And if there cannot be a good design, it makes divine justice unworthy of God; consequently destroys the idea of its existence.
Men seem generally disposed to consider punishmaent in this world disciplinary; but wben they carry it to another state, they lose all sight of discipline, and convert it into a sort of divine tyranny. A doctrine, so cruel and so repugnant to the divine perfections, needs the clearest évidence to establish it, in the mind of a rational and thinking person. The prophet Jeremiah under all his affliction, appears to be preserved from 80 fatal a conclusion. See Lam. ii. 31, 32, 33, “For the Lord will not cast off forever:
But though he cause grief, yet will he have compaš. sion according to the multitude of bis mercies. For be doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Let it here be noticed, that this manner of punishment is not limited by the prophet to the saints, but is extended to the children of men. believe the wicked to be the children of men, as well as the righteous. · The prophet limits it to no particular time, but speaks in general terms, “But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his inercies. If it be said that panishment is sometimes called for ever, and everlasting, all that an 'opposer could gain by such remarks would ibe to make it contradict the text, which says, “The Lord will not cast off forever.” He could gain no victory by it. This would only involve him in the same difficulty with his friend. But when we consider that the Hebrew word, rendered forever, signifies “lime hidden or conscaled from man," importing an endless or temporary duratioa ; and that the compas. sion which God will have on the sidner, succeeds his grief, no argument from the force of the same word can well militate against the conclusion of disciplina. Ty punishment. The remarks which the prophet makes in the same chapter, had they been applied to some characters, would undoubtedly have been considered as strong evidence against disciplinary punishment, as any passages that are to be found in the Bible. "I am a man,” says he, “that hath seen afiliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me and brought me into darkness, but not into light. Surely against me is he turned; he hath turned his hand against me all the day."
St. Paul's words on this subject, Heb. xii. 6, 7, 8, appear full to the point. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealoth with
you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, wbereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and nol sons." This scripture extends the chastening of the Lord to every one whom the Lord loveth,' ana likewise states ihat "all are partakers” of chastisement. Niapy understand Diis of believers, but the application appears to be general. Jesus says, 'Godia so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whom the Lord loveth, then, are the inhabitants of the world. No Jess extensive is his chastening rod. St Paul says the Lord chastiseth for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Where then is the punishment that is not for profit ? Should the respondent say, it is in hell, we ask, what people they are that 'suffer this punishment. If it he those who were once the wicked in this world, are they not of the number which God so loved as to send his only begotten Son, for their salvation ? If he loved them once, does he not love them pow? And if he once punished them for good, how is the design of this punishment changed ?
God's will to save all men and bring them to the knowledge of the truth is pot consistent with an uns merciful punishment. Christ's tasting death for ev. ery man, does not authorize such a punishment. Nor have we reason to believe that his coming to do. the will of his Father, will ever eventuate in a task: 20. contrary to the declared objects of his mission
Observing in your remarks to Correspondents, & request for a further illustration of the parable of the "unjust steward." especially, in relation to one point, I cheerfully comply with your request, and offer you the following defence of the "Interpretation."
The objection to be removed is, that guilt was implied in the expression, “What shall I do, for my lord taketb away from me my stewardship," uttered by the steward. To obviate this. observe :
First, The aecused steward was called to an account, as though the accusation were just. Thus ; “How is it I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest no longer be gleward." The threateniog is positive, and the reply perfectly patural, considering the nature of the demand, to reuder an account of his official conduct. “What shall I do, for my lord taketh away from me my stewardship.” Thus naturally paraphrased; “Though conscious of my innocence of the charge alledged against me, still, if my lord persist in the severity which his words import, what shall I do? But we hear nothing like a confession of injustice. .
Did he make any promise within himself to be more faithful to his lord, that he might again ingratiate himself into his favor, and obtain a recantation of his threatening? Do we find any particular, in which the steward's conduct, upon examination, was condemned? We do not. Therefore, by the same method of interpreting, by which the language of the steward implies guilt, the threatening of the lord might imply, or express, an untruth. He said, “Thou mayest no longer be steward,” and yet continued him in office. This language must be understood with some limitation, or the lord's word will be falsified.
But to set this subject completely at rest, bet the