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surety; and therefore with respect to those who believe not in the surety, and have no interest in him, the divine perfections require that this punishment should be inflicted on them.
This appears, as it is not only not unsuitable that sin should be thus punished; but it is positively suitable, decent, and proper. If this be made to appear, that it is positively suitable that sin should be thus punished, then it will follow, that the perfections of God require it; for certainly the perfections of God require what is proper to be done. The perfection and excellency of God require, that to take place which is perfect, excellent, and proper in its own nature. But that sin should be punished eternally, is such a thing, which appears by the following considerations.
1. It is suitable that God' should infinitely hate sin, and be an infinite enemy to it. Sin, as I have before shown, is an infinite evil, and, therefore, is infinitely odious and detestable. It is proper that God should hate every evil, and hate it according to its odious and detestable nature. And sin being infinitely evil and odious, it is proper that God should hate it infinitely.
2. If infinite hatred of sin be suitable to the divine character, then the expressions of such hatred are also suitable to his character. Because, that which is suitable to be, is suitable to be expressed that which is lovely in itself, is lovely when it appears. If it be suitable that God should be an infinite enemy to sin, or that he should hate it infinitely, then it is suitable that he should act as such an enemy. If it be suitable that he should hate and have enmity against sin, then it is suitable for him to express that hatred and enmity in that to which hatred and enmity by its own nature tends. But certainly hatred, in its own nature, tends to opposition, and to set itself against that which is hated, and to procure its evil and not its good and that in proportion to the hatred. Great hatred naturally tends to the great evil, and infinite hatred to the infinite evil of its object.
Whence it follows, that if it be suitable that there should be infinite hatred of sin in God, as I have shown it is, it is suitable that he should execute an infinite punishment on it; and so the perfections of God require that he should punish sin with an infinite, or which is the same thing, with an eternal punishment.
Thus we see not only the great objection against this doctrine answered, but the truth of the doctrine established by reason. I now proceed further to establish it by considering the remaining particulars under the doctrine.
II. That eternal death or punishment which God threatens to the wicked, is not annihilation, but an abiding, sensible
punishment or misery.-The truth of this proposition will appear by the following particulars.
1. The scripture every where represents the punishment of the wicked, as implying very extreme pains and sufferings; but a state of annihilation is no state of suffering at all. Persons annihilated have no sense or feeling of pain or pleasure, and much less do they feel that punishment which carries in it an extreme pain or suffering. They no more suffer to eternity than they did suffer from eternity."
2. It is agreeable both to scripture and reason to suppose, that the wicked will be punished in such a manner, that they shall be sensible of the punishment they are under; that they should be sensible that now God has executed and fulfilled what he threatened, what they disregarded, and would not believe. They should know themselves that justice takes place upon them; that God vindicates that majesty which they despised; that God is not so despicable a being as they thought him to be. They should be sensible for what they are punished, while they are under the threatened punishment. It is reasonable that they should be sensible of their own guilt, and should remember their former opportunities and obligations, and should see their own folly and God's justice.-If the punishment threatened be eternal annihilation, they will never know that it is inflicted; they will never know that God is just in their punishment, or that they have their deserts. And how is this agreeable to the scriptures, in which God threatens, that he will repay the wicked to his face, Deut. vii. 10. And to that in Job xxi. 19, 20. "God rewardeth him, and he shall know it; his eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty." And to that in Ezekiel xxii. 21, 22. "Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you."-And how is it agreeable to that expression so often annexed to the threatenings of God's wrath against wicked men, And ye shall know that I am the Lord!
3. The scripture teaches, that the wicked will suffer different degrees of torment, according to the different aggravations of their sins. Matt. v. 22. "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Here Christ teaches us, that the torments of wicked men will be different in different persons, according to the different degrees of their guilt.-It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, for Tyre
and Sidon, than for the cities where most of Christ's mighty works were wrought.-Again, our Lord assures us, That he that knoweth his Lord's will, and prepareth not himself, nor doth according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knoweth not, and committeth things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.-These several passages of scripture infallibly prove, that there will be different degrees of punishment in hell; which is utterly inconsistent with the supposition, that the punishment consists in annihilation, in which there can be no degrees.
4. The scriptures are very express and abundant in this matter, That the eternal punishment of the wicked will consist in sensible misery and torment, and not in annihilation.What is said of Judas is worthy to be observed here: "It had been good for that man if he had not been born;" Matt. xxvi. 24. This seems plainly to teach us, that the punishment of the wicked is such that their existence, upon the whole, is worse than non-existence. But if their punishment consists merely in annihilation, this is not true.-The wicked, in their punishment, are said to weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; which implies not only real existence, but life, knowledge, and activity, and that they are in a very sensible and exquisite manner affected with their punishment.-Isaiah xxxiii. 14. Sinners in the state of their punishment are represented to dwell with everlasting burnings. But if they are only turned into nothing, where is the foundation for this representation? It is absurd to say, that sinners will dwell with annihilation; for there is no dwelling in the case. It is also absurd to call annihilation a burning, which implies a state of existence sensibility, and extreme pain; whereas in annihilation there is neither.
It is said that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. How can this expression with any propriety be understood to mean a state of annihilation? Yea, they are expressly said to have no rest day nor night, but to be tormented with fire and brimstone for ever and ever. Rev. xx. 10. But annihilation is a state of rest, a state in which not the least torment can possibly be suffered. The rich man in hell lifted up his eyes being in torment, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, and entered into a particular conversation with Abraham; all which proves that he was not annibilated.
The spirits of ungodly men before the resurrection are not in a state of annihilation, but in a state of misery; they are spirits in prison, as the apostle saith of them that were drowned in the flood, 1 Pet. iii. 19.-And this appears very plainly from the instance of the rich man before mentioned, if we consider him as representing the wicked in their separate state, between
death and the resurrection. But if the wicked even then, are in a state of torment, much more will they be, when they shall come to suffer that which is the proper punishment of their
Annihilation is not so great a calamity but that some men have undoubtedly chosen it, rather than a state of of suffering even in this life. This was the case of Job, a good man. But if a good man in this world may suffer that which is worse than annihilation, doubtless the proper punishment of the wicked, in which God means to manifest his peculiar abhorrence of their wickedness, will be a calamity vastly greater still; and therefore cannot be annihilation. That must be a very mean and contemptible testimony of God's wrath towards those who have rebelled against his crown and dignity-broken his laws, and despised both his vengeance and his grace-which is not so great a calamity as some of his true children have suffered in life.
The eternal punishment of the wicked is said to be the second death, as Rev. xx. 14. and xxi. 8. It is doubtless called the second death in reference to the death of the body; and as the death of the body is ordinarily attended with great pain and distress, so the like, or something vastly greater, is implied in calling the eternal punishment of the wicked the second death; and there would be no propriety in calling it so, if it consisted merely in annihilation. And this second death wicked men will suffer; for it cannot be called the second death with respect to any other than men; it cannot be called so with respect to devils, as they die no temporal death, which is the first death. In Rev. ii. 11. it is said, "He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death;" implying, that all who do not overcome their lusts, but live in sin, shall suffer the second death.
Again, wicked men will suffer the same kind of death with the devils; as in verse 25th of the context, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Now the punishment of the devil is not annihilation, but torment: he therefore trembles for fear of it; not for fear of being annihilated, he would be glad of that. What he is afraid of is torment, as appears by Luke viii. 28. where he cries out, and beseeches Christ that he would not torment him before the time. And it is said, Rev. xx. 10. "The devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
It is strange how men will go directly against so plain and full revelations of scripture, as to suppose, notwithstanding all these things, that the eternal punishment threatened against the wicked, signifies no more than annihilation.
III. As the future punishment of the wicked consists in sensible misery; so it shall not only continue for a very long time, but shall be absolutely without end.
Of those who have held that the torments of hell are not absolutely eternal, there have been two sorts. Some suppose, that in the threatenings of everlasting punishment, the terms used do not necessarily import a proper eternity, but only a very long duration. Others suppose, that if they do import a proper eternity, yet we cannot necessarily conclude thence, that God will fulfil his threatenings. Therefore I shall,
First, Show that the threatenings of eternal punishment do very plainly and fully import a proper, absolute eternity, and not merely a long duration.-This appears,
1. Because when the scripture speaks of the wicked being sentenced to their punishment at the time when all temporal things are come to an end, it then speaks of it as everlasting, as in the text, and elsewhere. It is true, that the term for ever is not always in scripture used to signify eternity. Sometimes it means as long as a man liveth. In this sense it is said, that the Hebrew servant, who chose to abide with his master, should have his ear bored, and should serve his master for ever. Sometimes it means, during the continuance of the state and church of the Jews. In this sense, several laws, which were peculiar to that church, and were to continue in force no longer than that church should last, are called statutes for ever. See Exodus xxvii. 21. xxviii. 43, &c. Sometimes it means as long as the world stands. So in Eccles. i. 4. "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever."
And this last is the longest temporal duration that such a term is ever used to signify. For the duration of the world is the longest of things temporal, as its beginning was the earliest. Therefore, when the scripture speaks of things as being before the foundation of the world, it means that they existed before the beginning of time. So those things which continue after the end of the world, are eternal things. When heaven and earth are shaken and removed, those things that remain will be what cannot be shaken, but will remain for Heb. xii. 26, 27.
But the punishment of the wicked will not only remain after the end of the world, but is called everlasting, as in the text, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment." So in 2 Thess. i. 9, 10. "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power when he shall come to be glorified in his saints," &c.-Now, what can be meant by a thing being everlasting after all temporal things are come to an end, but that it is absolutely without end?