Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

which nothing but the want os Power and Opportunity would prevent. And though they be deprived of that Power; yet they are Unalterably confirmed and established in the Habits of fin; they will for ever continue subject to those sinful qualities and dispositions which they have contracted, qualities that are directly opposed to the Purity and Holiness of the Divine Nature. And upon this account, their punishment is, to all intents and purposes, reconcileable with God's Justice, which, in a state of Punishment, not of Probation, does require the Execution of Vengeance upon his Enemies, so long as they continue so, and that is for ever and ever.

3/y, The Eternity of punishment is plainly consistent with die Goodness of God upon this account, that he hath set before us Life and Death; the Happiness proposed is, at least, equal to the Misery denounced, and we may chuse our own Condition. Though Mankind was become Justly obnoxious to God's Wrath; yet he hath freely and graciously restored us to an Opportunity of avoid

C 3 ing ing Misery, and obtaining Unconceivable Happiness at his own right hand for evermore. And this is properly the perfection of Goodness: But Goodness and Mercy themselves cannot save those, that will not comply with the terms of Goodness and Mercy.

These Answers, or such as these, at least joyntly consider'd seem abundantly sufficient to satisfy the Difficulties; though the contrary hath been insinuated in a discourse too well known, which was some years ago published by one, whose extraordinary Personal accomplishments and high Station in the Church do command so very great Deference, that it may perhaps be thought scarce allowable to mention any part of his Writings otherwise than with Approbation and Applause: But he hath in this particular, to the Disadvantage of the Article, made it very plain, that even the greatest men have their intervals of Misapprehension and Mistake. For he hath first urged several reasons to destroy these or the like Answers, and then undertaken to remove the Difficulties, by such solutions hri- of os his own, as afe so far from Answering that end, and confirming the Truth of the Article, that they give manifest occasion to Disbelieve it. All which I shall take the liberty of examining and of endeavouring to refute.

[graphic]

And first, he thus reflects upon the first Argument we urge in Vindication of God's Justice.

First, it is said by some, that because Jin is Infinite in respeB of the ObjeB against whom it Is committed, which is God, therefore it deserves an Infinite punishment. But this, I doubt, will upon examination be found to have more of subtlety than os solidity m it. 'Tis true indeed, that the Dignity of the Person againfi whom any offence is committed is a great aggravation of the fault; For which reason all offences against God are certainly the greatest of all others. But that crimes should be hereby heighten d to an Infinite degree can by no means be admitted, and that for this plain reason, because then the evil and demerit of all fins must necessarily be equal; for the demerit of no Jin can be more than Infinite: And if she demerit ofallfins be equal, there

C 4 can can be no'reason for the degrees of punishment in mother World. But to deny that there are agrees of punishment there, is not only contrary to reason, but to our Saviours express assertion, that some shall be beat e-1 with many stripes, and some with fewer; and ihat it shall be more tolerable for some in the day of Judgment than for others. Besides, that by the fame reason that the least sin that is committed against God may be said to be Infinite because of it's Object, the least punishment that is mfliBedby God may be said to be Infinite because of it's Author; and then all punishments from God as well as all fins against him would be equal, which is palpably absurd.

As to this last part of the Reflection, That by the same reason that the least fin that is committed against God may be said to be Infinite because of it's ObjeB, the least punishment that is infliBed by God may be said to be Infinite because os it's Author: It may be answer'd by observing, that Punishment is not at all heighten'd or increas'd because inflicted by Almighty £od; for temporary Pain, which God

inflicts

inflicts upon the body, is as well .Finite, both in Degree and Duration, as if it were inflicted by a Finite Being j whereas Crimes, as this Author himself acknowledged, are aggravated according to the Dignity of the person against whom they are committed, and so Sin is heighten'd, because committed against God's Infinite Majesty, though Punishment, because inflicted by him, be not.

The Author of this Reflection therefore might as well have argued, that if {in committed against God be Infinite because of it's Object, therefore all creatures are Infinite because God is the Author of them; for this consequence is strictly the same, equally True and equally Pertinent.

When in this Argument Sin is styled Infinite because of it's Object, 'tis not urged or imagined, that every thing, which is, in any sense, related to Almighty God, is for that reason to be esteemed Infinite; but that, besides the nature of such a Relation, which is Common both to Sin and Punishment, there is in Sin a Peculiar property, which renders the guilt of

« AnteriorContinuar »