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FOURTHLY, That the belief of God's
punishing finners and unbelievers in this manner is, as above-mentioned, absolutely necessary to deter men from being wicked, and is part of the foundation of religion.
The first part of the argument, respecting sin being infinite and deserving infinite pu-: nishment; having been mentioned by archbishop Tillotson, and effectually confuted by him, I shall tranfcribe the substance of his answer to it, “ If this be true,” faith he, " then all sins muft necessarily be equal ; for " the demerit of no fin can be more than in
finite, * * * * and then there can be no:
degrees of punishment; which is contrary " to scripture and reason's
I fall only add, that were this doctrine true, the robbing of an orchard would be as great a crime as murder, and deserve equal punishment; which being contrary to the nature of things, and the proportion that punishments should always bear to crimes, surely no reasonable man can believe or will assert ". Y.
Sermon 35, vol. I. * The opinion that all fins or crimes must necessarily be equal, tho' fo abfurd, was held by the Stoics. Cicero, in his fourth book de finibus, introduces Zena saying, - omnia peccata paria, -- all crimes are alike : but Cicero condemns this doctrine, and so does Horace, who says,
In order to form a right judgment of the other part of this argument,--that the justice and glory of God require he should punith finners and unbelievers with eternal misery, many particulars might be considered ; but to avoid prolixity, only a few will be here mentioned.
IT should be remembered who created man, and that if he is induced to fin by his own inclinations and paffions, who implanted these in bis nature, and who hath given him so small a portion of reason and resolution, as' is seldom, if ever, fufficient entirely to restrain and
govern them: and if for this purpose, or to obtain faith, any supernatural affiftance be neceffary, who alone is able to afford it; and if it be not afforded, who hath withheld it: but if man is tempted to fin, or to infidelity, by any other being of superior cunning, power, and abilities, it well deferves inquiry, why this being is not restrained from effecta ing his vile and most audacious purposes of
rendering Queis paria ele fere placuit peccata, laborant, Cum ventum ad verum eft : sensus moresque repugnant, Atque ipsa utilitas, jufti prope mater & æqui.
Lib. I. Sat. 3. Thus Englished by Mr. Francis : Who hold all crimes alike, are deep distreft, When we appeal to truth's impartial teft. Sense, custom, social good, from whence. arise. All forms of right and wrong, the fact denies.
tendering men for ever miserable, and thereby disappointing the Almighty's defign of making his creatures for ever happy.
Besides, as the terms of salvation are commonly described, there appears fo manifest a disproportion between a likelihood of gaining eternal happiness, and the danger of suffering eternal misery, that probably not one in many thousands since the creation of the world hath obtained the former, and consequently all the rest of mankind have been condemned to the latter. Would any man voluntarily accept such a chance for eternal happiness, with such prodigious odds for eternal misery against him? How then can it be just to place men in such circumstances ? Or, if this were the case, with what truth or propriety could it be said, that happiness and misery are set before them, and they at liberty to chuse?
If the generality of men were to be thus unhappy, an omniscient Being must have known it. May we not be permitted to ask-Why then did he create them? Surely not from necessity; for if so, then God himself could not be a free agent. Many of the heathens thought, that even their supreme deity fupiter was over-ruled by Fate or Destiny ; but no christian will fay this of the true God. Since then there was no necessity for man to be created, would it not have Y 2
been been infinitely better he had never existed, than that such multitudes should be for ever miserable ? Indeed, were this the wretched condition of men, the propagation of mankind would be a most deplorable evil, and nothing could be more desirable than the speedy extinction of the species.
These particulars will be left to the reader's consideration, which they seem well to merit; and I shall proceed further to observe,
That if all men are liable to be eternally punished, but may nevertheless, by certain means, obtain eternal happiness, then undoubtedly God would give to ALL MEN a clear, distinct, and certain knowledge,
FIRST, What faults, failures, or fins they are thus to be punished for, and by what means they may avoid everlasting misery and gain everlasting felicity. And,
Secondly, If the justice and glory of God require, that he should punish finners and unbelievers with everlasting torments, then undoubtedly both justice and reason require also, that it should be in the power of the former not to fin, and of the latter to believe aright.
CERTAINLY, if the justice and glory of God require, that he thould punish sinners and unbelievers with eternal misery, he would as a righteous judge and lawgiver
afford them this knowledge and this power. For “ shall not the judge of all the earth do
right?” Most assuredly he will.
But, first, that God hath not given this knowledge to all men, is evident: if he had, they would agree concerning the several points above-mentioned ; whereas there are hardly any they differ more upon.
SOME people believe those things to be deadly fins, which others regard as mere trifles; and many lay the greatest stress on certain means of salvation, which others esteem as no better than insignificant, ridiculous, and even wicked and abominable practices.
The great number of different and contradictory opinions on these subjects, entertained and violently contended for by the various professors of religion, are too well known to need being much insisted on, and would lead us into too wide a field. A few only therefore shall here be taken notice of. And first,
Of fins for which some men imagine they are liable to eternal punishments.
LES Tartares de Gengiskan, chez lesquels c'étoit un péché, et même un crime capital, &c.
Among the Tartars of Gengiskan it is a sin, " and even a capital crime, to put a knife in “ the fire, to lean against a whip, to strike $4 a horse with its bridle, to break one bone