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position which will reconcile their existence with the perfect goodness of God.
If any should inquire, how evil can produce good? it must be acknowledged, that this is an exceeding difficult question to answer fully and satisfactorily in all cases : however, many instances of it are obvious. 'Tis an evil to cut off a limb from a living man ; but if this be done to preserve life, it is consequentially good. Pain and sickness are cvils ; but if, as many think, constant health and uninterrupted ease do not afford so great a degree of pleasure, as a return of health after fickness, or of eafe after pain, then thefe evils produce good. Besides, they may be of service in weaning men from this world, and in causing them to leave it with willingness inftead of regret. Nay, death itself, commonly esteemed the greatest of temporal evils, if it be the entrance of a better life, is a most substantial good; but if of eternal misery, is then a real and terrible evil.
These indeed are instances only of physical evil producing good: how moral evil can be
any way beneficial, the writer of this Essay acknowledges himself ignorant: but, as man is formed and circumstanced, moral evil feems inevitable; and if it be really so, this is a very strong reason why God will pardon
it. The well-known and good-natured opi-
FTER all, fome may ask,-Are the
good and the bad to fare alike in a
Mr. Locke, in his treatise intitled The Rea-
plainest and directest words, that by death
Hhould lose his life, but be kept alive in “ perpetual exquisite torments? And would
any one think himself fairly dealt with " that was so used "?" Again, “ I must \confefs - by death here I can understand “ nothing but a ceasing to be." And a little further he says, “ Immortality and bliss
belong to the righteous; but an exclusion
from Paradife and a LOSS OF IMMOR“ TALITY is the portion of finners k.”
The scriptures do in many places favour this opinion, that death, literally speaking, and not eternal misery, is the portion of finners: but as we must acknowledge, that these writings do alfo in other places seem to assert the contrary, their authority therefore will not, on this occasion, be pleaded.
HOWEVER, we shall endeavour to fhew, if the apostle Paul meant, by God's making one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour, not that one man was designed only for everlasting life and happiness, and another for death, but that one was made for eternal bliss, and another for eternal mifery ; St. Paul would in that case appear to have given a most shocking account of the Deity and his dealings with his creature man. Might not man then, in the words the apostle puts into his mouth, with great
L.S Pi 8.
* P. 15.
reason fay to his Creator ? " Why doth he “ yet find fault? For who hath refifted his « wilt?". And what : folution of this diffi. calty, or what: fatisfaction of consolation would it be to fay?.“ Nay but, Oman, " who årt thou that repliest against God? "Shall the thing formed fay to him that «formed it, Why haft thou made me thus?" Yes, no doubt; if he is made to be 'eternally miserable, he has great reason to ask, WHY? And-práy, what fatisfaction will he receive by the apostle's other question?Hath not " the potter power over the clay, of the fame « lump to make one vessel unto honour, and "another unto dishonour?”, Undoubtedly he hath ; and no injury is done to the clayo for: it signifies nothing to the un'feelings
, insensible clay what is done with it, neither, strictly speaking, is one veffet more or the other less honourable. But surely this cannot be faid of man'; if by the vessel of honour is meant a person designed for, and to enjoy everlasting happiness; and by the vessel of dishonour one designed for, and to fuffer everlasting misery. What a simile, in this sense, would here be of the potter and his clay, and man and his maker? Might it not, were this the case, be truly faid, that nothing is lefs like the subject intended to be illustrated than such a limile. If, as some
have supposed, the apostle really intended by vessels of dishonour, and vessels of wrath, men that were created by God to be eternally miserable, he certainly had the greatest reas son here to have said, as he did say in another place before cited, “That which I speak, « I speak it not after the Lord; but as it
were foolishly:" for surely the Lord never taught, that he created fome men, nay, far the greatest part of mänkind, to make them éverlastingly miserable; neither could it be wise in any one to say fo. But if nothing more was designed by the apostle than to fhew, that some men were formed to die and absolutely cease to be; and others, tho’ also to die, thould nevertheless rise again to perpetual happiness ; this would greatly alter the case. And, :If we suppose this to be the distinction between the good and the bad, the wise and the unwise, will not their states 'be vastly different? Will not the latter be sufficiently punished, and yet without cruelty, by the loss of immortality and eternal happiness? I say without cruelty ; for if when men die they cease to be, they are then no more miserable than before they had a being.
BUT this, it may be said, is all conjecture. Very true: and what more than conjecture can be expected on a subject which will not V