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" him that serveth him not." Mal. iii. 17, 18. The wicked will be existing then, as distinguished from the righteous; which could not be, were an universal restoration to take place at that time. The groaning of the rational creation is not for the redemption of their souls out of hell, but for "the redemption of their bodies" from the grave; which happy event will precede the judgment and punishment of the ungodly.
"If it be observed," says Mr. Vidler, "that putting "under the feet of Christ is not expressive of grace, but "of wrath, we answer, This is a Hebrew mode of speech, and evidently expressive of grace, for the tem"ple itself, as typical of the church, is called God's foot"stool." 1 Chron. xxviii. 2.* In 1 Cor. xv. 25. to which passage Mr. V. I presume, alludes, we read, "For "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his "feet." All men being put under the feet of Christ, is expressive of his authority over them; but the way in which his authority will be exercised, must be gathered from their moral characters. The gracious exercise of his authority over the church is inferred from the covenant relation in which he stands to it, as a holy church, and not from the circumstance of its being under his feet. But in the text under consideration, the apostle is not speaking of the church, but of enemies; and it surely requires a vast stretch of imagination to suppose, that when enemies are under the feet of a victor, their situation is expressive of grace. It is impossible to attach such an idea to Joshua x. 24-26. 1 Sam. xvii. 51. Isa. lxiii. 3.
Mr. V. proceeds, "If it be said that to be subdued to "Christ is expressive of wrath, we then observe, that "whatever method may be used to subdue sinners, yet "their being subdued implies a state of grace and favour, "for we are exhorted to be subject to the Father of spirits, and live. And the bodies of the saints will be changed at Christ's second coming, by that power * God's Love, pp. 27, 28.
"whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. "And even our Lord, when he shall have subdued all things unto himself, will then be subject to the Fa"ther."* The remarks made above contain a sufficient reply to this paragraph. It is really astonishing that a sensible man should talk at this rate. The saints are assured that if they continue in a state of subjection to the Father they shall live; therefore all conquered enemies must reap life everlasting! The bodies of the saints will be raised by the power of Christ; therefore all subdued enemies must be raised to glory! Jesus Christ will be subject to the Father; therefore all destroyed enemies must be restored! Who does not feel the force of this cogent reasoning?
When Mr. V.'s hand was in this work, it is a wonder he did not attempt to prove, from Luke x. 17. that the devils are already restored. "And the seventy returned again "with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto "us through thy name." He might have argued thus: The words are in the present tense; and "we observe, "that whatever method may have been used to subdue "them, yet their being subdued, implies a state of grace "and favour, for we are exhorted," &c.
Messrs. Winchester and Weaver, to show that future sufferings are intended to subdue and purge sinners, lay considerable stress upon Isa. xxii. 14. "This iniquity "shall not be purged from you till ye die." When Job affirms, "Till I die I will not remove mine integrity "from me," he certainly meant that he would never remove his integrity from him; and by parity of reason, the prophet meant, that the iniquity should never be purged away. Thus we see the weapons of our adversaries are turned against themselves.
* God's Love, p. 28.
Of Sin in Hell.
SOME of the advocates for endless punishment have asserted, that the inhabitants of hell will be sinning continually, by which means the quantity of their guilt will be continually increasing! the longer, therefore, they remain in hell, the further they will be from suffering what their sins deserve their punishment, consequently, must be eternal. To this it has been replied, that the Scriptures nowhere speak of punishment for any deeds except those done in the body, and to attempt to justify eternal punishment on the ground of sinning in hell, is to admit that it would be unjust, if inflicted for the crimes committed in this world. This is Mr. Wright's argument.* But Mr. Vidler affirms, "A rational creature cannot be without "law, either in heaven, earth, or hell." If Mr. W.'s sentiment be adopted by the Universalists, Mr. V.'s must be rejected. For if the inhabitants of hell be under law, they must have moral liberty; if they have liberty, the law may be broken and if the law be broken, the transgressor ought to suffer for it.
The Scriptures represent punishment as being proportioned to deeds done in the body, and are entirely silent about laws by which the inhabitants of hell are to regulate their conduct. They may be incapable of moral obedience through the loss of moral liberty. That moral liberty may be lost, through the strength of sinful habits, I presume none will deny; and that God is obliged to restore it as often as a creature is pleased to destroy it, I think an inhabitant of hell has scarcely temerity enough to assert; and to say, that the obligation to obey remains after the power to obey is lost, is to say, in other words, that an impossibility ought to be done, which is an absurdity.
* Examination of Ryland's Sermon, p. 49.
+ Winchester's Dial. Note, p. 77.
"We see," says Archbishop King, "that our bodies may be maimed for ever, and our limbs dislocated and "distorted to such a degree as to become totally incapa"ble of those functions for which nature designed them. "Why should we not have the same opinion of the mind, "viz. that by depraved elections, passions, and affec"tions, it may be so far diverted from the right way of "thinking, as to become equally disabled and unfit for "governing its actions according to the dictates of right "reason, as a lame man is for a race? If, therefore, "God do not interpose his omnipotence, the same errors, "the same ignorance, the same habit of a perverted mind "and obstinate propensity to evil, which here draws us "aside from the right path, may continue with us for ever nor will the soul that is immersed in this kind "of evil be capable of curing itself. For one that is in"fected with these maladies is as unfit to help himself, "as one that has cut off his hands and feet is unable to run or feed himself."
That moral liberty may be lost, so as never to be regained, is proved from Heb. vi. 4-6. Here is a state of mind described which cannot be improved. It is IMPOSSIBLE to renew them again unto repentance. This state is illustrated by ver. 7, 8. After land has received the rain of heaven, and the culture of the husbandman, if it produces nothing but thorns and briers, it is rejected as a soil incapable of improvement. So men, who have been favoured with the Gospel and the labour of the spiritual husbandman in this life, and yet have not brought forth the fruits of the Spirit, are rejected: their END is to be burned. Can laws be given to creatures who cannot obey them?
The influence and strength of sinful habits are well described by Mr. Addison. "Those evil spirits," says he, "who, by long custom, have contracted in the body " habits of lust and sensuality, malice and revenge, an * aversion to every thing that is good, just, and laudable, "are naturally prepared for pain and misery. Their * Origin of Evil, pp. 510, 511.
" torments have already taken root in them; they can"not be happy when divested of the body, unless we 66 may suppose, that Providence will, in a manner, create "them anew, and work a miracle in the rectification of "their faculties. They may, indeed, taste a kind of "malignant pleasure in those actions to which they are "accustomed, whilst in this life; but when they are to "be removed from all those objects which are here apt "to gratify them, they will naturally become their own "tormentors, and cherish in themselves those painful "habits of mind which are called, in Scripture phrase, "The worm which never dies. This notion of hell is so very conformable to the light of nature, that it was "discovered by several of the most exalted heathens."*
It has frequently been objected against us, that if punishment be endless, the reign of sin will be endless also. It is a sufficient answer to ask, Does thieving reign in that country where all the rogues in it are confined in prison? But if the Universalists still contend, that sin will he committed till punishment shall cease, I beg leave to inform them, that they admit a principle, which, in its consequences, overturns their system. Sin in hell deserves punishment as well as that which is committed in this world. So that if we suppose a man deserves fifty years punishment for sinning fifty years in this world, yet should he sin during those fifty years of punishment, he will merit punishment for fifty years longer to expiate those sins, and so on ad infinitum. But did it ever enter into the head of any one, that a man is violating the laws of his country, while suffering in a prison, in the stocks, or the pillory for his crimes? On a review of the foregoing, it appears that the sinful habits of the damned are too strong to be eradicated in a way consistent with the relations which subsist betwixt God and rational creatures. They must, therefore, be miserable for ever, since, by the Divine constitution, no creature can be restored to happiness, who is not first made virtuous.
* Spectator, No. 447.