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a future state of immortal happiness, and it being so directly contrary to the effential attributes of God, who is perfectly good, that any of his creatures should be for ever miserable, what can we reasonably suppofe, but either that the virtuous and pious only shall inherit eternal life? or, if, as fome think, the Deity will not fuffer any thing he hath cieated absolutely to perish, that then the! stupid and the wicked may be fo changed and purified, as to enjoy fuch a state of being: as their feveral natures and capacities are fitted for this however to be vastly different from, and inferior to, the condition of the wife and the good. But to fuppofe, as many do, that this purification of the mind is to be effected by burning the body, by elementaoy fire, or by any other tormenting punishment, is a gross conceit and moft monstroufly abfurd, On the contrary, if there be any poffible method, as undoubtedly there is, of purifying corrupt men, and fitting fuch for a future: state of felicity, without tormenting them, we may rest assured, that no TORMENTS will be made use of.
This opinion, that all creatures capable of happiness will be finally happy, although in: very different degrees, or at least that none will be for ever miserable, feems so confo».
nant to the immense goodness of the Divine Nature, that it cannot be thought strange if it should find; and hath found advocates among the sensible and the most humane and best tempered part of mankind: it may indeed rather justly be wondered at, that, with fạch perfons, the opposite' opinion thould ever have prevailed.
SUPPOSE a good parent had children who did not behave as they ought to do, but that it was in his power nevertheless to make them happy or miserable : which would he do?-Undoubtedly he would make them happy. If we then, being comparatively evil, should do thus kindly by our children, how much more shall our heavenly Father, who is infinitely good, do by us his creatures? to whom he is, almost beyond comparison, nearer related than earthly parents are to their children. Indeed, were there no other reason why the Deity should not even permit us to be eternally miserable, this would be sufficient, - he hath created us. Again, suppose a good man had it in his power to render a multitude of people happy or miserable, who were strangers to him, or by whom he had even been hated or persecuted: what thould he do in this case ! The gospel hath told him; and if that had not, huma
nity would. Yet we suppose the Almighty, thom, properly speaking, none can injure, doth not. act with so much benignity to us, as we acknowledge we ought to do, nay as many of us actually do, by one another. Once more, I would ask a real good man, if he doth not feel a most exquisite pleafure in making others happy ? or, were it in his power to make all mankind so, whether the very thought would not be ravishing beyond expression? Yet we are not willing to allow this disposition to the FOUNTAIN OF GOODNESS; but suppose, nay assert, that he will condemn millions of millions of his creatures to everlasting misery. Surely, if any opinion men form of the Deity can be offensive to him, this must be so in the highest degree.
True it is, that all absolute certainty concerning a future state is, for wise reasons no doubt ", withheld from us: nevertheless it certainly behoves every man so to conduct himself in this life, as if he were fure of another.
For fuppofing there should be no future state, but that man when he dies shall cease
to Among other wise reasons, perhaps for this; that if we were certain of passing, when we go hence, to a state of perfect happiness, we should not have patience to stay here our allotted time.
to be; yet what will he lose? or rather,
and satisfaction in our own breasts; and in reflecting with pleafure on our actions: this good, these benefits, and many more, accrue from temperance, justice, and charity; - in a word, from virtue and piety. But, if our enjoying a future state, or any considerable degree of happiness in it, should depend on the habits we contract here, and on our conduct and behaviour in this world, then what infinite service and benefit will a rational, a virtuous, and a pious life be to us?
On the whole, we hope it may be reasonably and safely concluded, that God will not even suffer any of his creatures to be for ever miserable, much less punith them with everlasting torments : but on the contrary, if he hath allotted a future