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all men to be saved, &c. it must be understood only as an expression of his benevolence, and not an absolute decree to accomplish. Neither does the phrase all men, in the scriptures, always include every individual of the human race, but frequently a limited number, it is written “all men glorified God for what was done” that is, for the miracle of healing the impotent man, which was known but to a very small proportion of mankind at the time it is said all men glorified God, &c. That we may understand wherein we disagree before we proceed further, I will thank you to inform me, whether you believe the impenitent in the world to come, suffer the just desert of all their sins, and to the extent of what strict justice can require.
Lorenzo. I do by no means, for Christ has made full satisfaction by his atonement; if sinners should now suffer the full demerit of their crimes, it would be unjust, as it would be requiring two payments for one debt; and further it would be contrary to the gospel plan of forgiveness when sinners are sent to the world of correction, their corrupt hearts are not subdued, if they were, they would be proper subjects for Heaven; and while they remain thus, they will be continually adding sin to'sin, and swelling the dreadful catalogue, instead of expiating for past transgressions. If sinners should suffer the full penalty of the law, the atonement of our Saviour would be useless, as they would be intitled to heaven on the ground of strict justice.
My ideas are, that justice is fully satisfied, since Christ has suffered the full desert of every sinner, and that God will use every mean in his power, that is consistent with the free
of sinners, to bring them to repentance : so that all their corrections in this, and in the world to come, will be for their best possible good.
Evander. If I understand you correctly, you suppose all who die impenitent, receive a disciplinary punishment in the world to come, which will finally bring them to repentance; and since justice is fully satisfied for every transgression, by Christ's atonement, God is bound by the laws of benevolence, to bestow all the good in his power upon every individual ; and that the torments of hell are the kindest treatment the impenitent are capable of receiving, as it is theonly means, conducive to their everlasting happiness.
Lorenzo. I perceive nothing, but that you have stated my ideas correctly.
Evander. Although we agree, that if sinners in any way suffer the penalty of the law, they can receive no benefit from Christ's atonement, still we differ materially as to the nature of the atonement. If you suppose the full demand of the law against every sinner, perfectly satisfied, and that Christ has suffered the exact quantum of evil due to every sin ; then sinners are not only intitled to salvation on the ground of strict justice, but the gospel plan of forgiveness is totally ex
cluded; for to forgive a debt, that is already paid. to the full extent of the demand, looks like an absurdity to me. I have another objection to your ideas : if benevolence requires God to bestow all the good in his power upon every individual, since every demand against them is satisfied by their surety; if he should inflict punishment in the future world, to bring sinners to repentance,
appears to be done without necessity, and instead of its being an act of kindness, it looks like an act of cruelty; for to deny that it is out of the power of God to regenerate sinners in this life, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and thereby bring them to unfeigned repentance; would be to deny fact, which has been demonstrated in the conversion of St. Paul, Mary Magdalene, and many others.
Lorenzo. The same means that will bring onė sinner to repentance are not sufficient to bring another; undoubtedly God will use every means consistent with moral freedom; but should he use irresistible power, it would be inconsistent with the liberty of moral agents.
Evander. It might be inferred from your arguments that God uses the same means with
every sinner: the fact, however, would be difficult to prove. But, agreeable to your idea, the torments of hell are eventually as irresistible, and infallibly certain, to produce repentance, as the irresistible power of the holy Spirit : if they are not, then the certainty of universal salvation is at
an end. If the operations of the divine Spirit are inconsistent with the liberty of sinners, we should suppose that the more powerful influence of the torments of hell, would totally destroy moral agency, and render the unhappy şouls in hell as incapable of repentance as mere machines.
Lorenzo. I think it is evidently taught in the Scriptures, (to which we are indebted for all our information of the future state) that the finally impenitent will be corrected in the world to come, and it is equally certain that their punishment will be temporal, and not eternal.
Evander. I am pleased to see you confining yourself to Scriptural evidence; let our sentiments be brought to the law and to the testimony, and by them let them stand or fall. I think you will not find it difficult to prove, by the Scriptures, that the impenitent will be punished in the world to come; but to prove their punishment only temporary, I am persuaded you will not find so easy a task, without wresting the Scriptures.
Lorenzo. I am not insensible that their punishment is represented as for ever and everlasting; for it is written, “ these shall go away into everlasting punishment;" “ to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever;" but it is to be remembered, that these expressions in the Scriptures, generally mean only a long period, as an age, or ages of ages; we read, “ that the earth abideth for ever;" again it is written, “ the earth, and things therein shall be burnt up;" again, “the everlasting mountains were scattered.” Our Saviour says to his disciples, “make to yourselves friends of the unrighteous mammon, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” It is evident, from these passages, that everlasting and for ever, are often applied to things of time; and when they are applied to the punishment of sinners, they must not mean endless duration, in order to harmonize with the general tenor of the Scriptures.
Evander. Although these expressions are sometimes, in figurative language, applied to time, still they are generally applied to endless duration, and no language more forcibly expresses it: it is written, “the Lord shall endure for ever;" from everlasting to everlasting thou art God." The duration of the saints' enjoyment in heaven, is expressed in the saine language: " he that believeth on me hath everlasting life;" "the saints of the Most High shall possess the kingdom for ever.” The temporary happiness of glorified saints may, with as much propriety, be argued from these expressions, as the temporary punislıment of impenitent sin
Lorenzo. That all mankind will finally bow in humble submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, is evident from the atonements extending to every