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recklessness of debauchery, can ever wear it out; no searedness of conscience is proof against it. All men fear it, and so all men believe it. Guilt is a dread attendant. Guilt is woe.
No inscrip: tion of natural religion is in broader light than this. Guilt and woe are one. They are sworn friends. One tracks the other. You never see them alone. Either the reality, or the prediction of the reality, justifying God, and condemning the guilty, you always find. Sometimes both the consciousness and the prediction, in gloomy embrace within the soul, produce almost the experience of hell beforehand.
I could not share in childish prayer,
Nor join in evening hymn,
'Mid holy cherubim.
That lighted me to bed,
With fingers bloody red ! You may say it is only the guilt of murder that is followed by such experience; but there are hours in your own being which tell you that it does not need to be a murderer, in order to hear within your own soul the roll of the muffled drum summoning you to judgment. Sin of every kind, your sin, all sin, unrepented, unannealed, unpurged, is perdition. It is not the Bible alone that tells you of it. God's judgments are like the light that goeth forth in regard to it; it is the very voice of universal, outraged nature; the instinctive shuddering and dread of death is the echo of that voice, rolling from the recesses of eternity. Nature cries out through all her works that sin is woe! Revelation utters a corresponding voice, the wages of sin is death! It is heard through all heaven, sin is woe! Ît reverberates through hell, sin is woe! It is echoed from that world to this, in thunder that makes every guilty soul tremble, sin unrepented of is death eternal !
We have then the following stream and chain of the demonstration in our Natural Theology. We put it into the shape of its successive conclusions.- 1st. The constitution and course or system of nature, including man in his mind, his moral character and entire development, as well as God in his development to man, apart from his Word. Out of this springs, ON THE ONE SIDE,
ON THE OTHER,
Man as a moral agent, with the God as a moral governor, good, ideas of God,immortality, accounwise powerful, righteous, exer- tability, virtue, vice, judgment, cising now a providential gov- retribution, all developed as a ernment, which is to go on for manifest possession of his being
and operation of his faculties.
Man as a sinner against God,
proved by his own conscience, God hating sin, proved at pre- by the universal admission of sent but partially, though clearly. the race, by the undeniable real
ity of things.
Man as a sufferer in conseGod inflicting evil on account quence of sin, proved again by of sin, proved by all the suffer- conscience, and the direct eviing that exists.
dence of fact.
But man again as suffering But, God partial in such in unequally, and sometimes very
But, God partial in such in- little, and therefore partially, fiction, sometimes sparing the neither with relative nor abso more guilty, and letting the more lute justice in perfection, the ininnocent suffer.
nocent sometimes suffering while
the guilty escape. Therefore, God waiting to ex
But again, man's own concluecute fully all just awards unex
sion from these facts, and from ecuted in this life, by and by, in the predictions of his conscience, due season, in the future world. that God will hereafter interpose
to punish sin. The Result, more than all others palpable, proved also by the examination of the faculties and the experiences of the human mind, supposed active itself in a future world, which is admitted,
RETRIBUTION. The question which Natural Theology cannot answer, How to be saved from it? The point where Natural Theology stands gazing into the eternal world, in breathless, solemn fear and expectation.
We have denominated the argument in our Natural Theology a demonstration, for it is clear that whatever demand is clearly made by our Natural Theology is of that nature. If it teaches that man, as a sinner against God, his own nature, and his fellowman, has not received, and does not receive, the just award for his deeds, then it demands such an award, and in demanding it predicts it, and in predicting it demonstrates it. For, unless it comes, God is not righteous, not infinitely good. It must come, will come; as certainly as Natural Theology demonstrates the being of a God, so certainly it demonstrates a future retribution. If such retribution were not a reality, considered as present in the reality of things, though future in their development, then the demonstration of a God would fail. Therefore the prediction by our Natural Theology of a future retribution is actual demonstration. We reason just thus in regard to sequences and relations in this world. If I see a man kindling a flame at the root of a dry tree in the forest, or see him lay down his axe at the root of such a tree, and after girding himself for the work, begin to strike, this with me is demonstration that he is going to fell the tree. If I see a number of workmen under the direction of a man of wealth, building a large and costly house, it is demonstration to my mind that the house is meant to be inhabited. If I see a man plunge a dagger into the heart of his neighbor, it is demonstration to my mind that he intended to kill his neighbor.
Or, to take another line of illustration, if I walk along the streets of some buried but excavated city, and see beside me in one quarter a number of sepulchral monuments with memorial inscriptions upon them, I conclude that these were places for the burial of the dead; and although in entering these monuments I find no vestiges of dead bodies, this does not in the least weaken in my mind the force of the demonstration that the tombs once contained the remains of the dead, or were built for the purpose of containing them. If on entering those monuments I find an urn, with a groove at the top to receive a cover, it is demonstration that the urn originally possessed the cover, and is imperfect without it. This is demonstration towards the past, although the past in those particulars, is as unknown to me as the future. Or, if I find anywhere a gold box with a groove for the cover, and places for the hinges, and a manifest arrangement for the fastening, although the cover cannot be found, it is demonstration to my mind that there was or is a cover somewhere ; the cover may be irretrievably lost, but I know as certainly that it belonged to the box, as I know that the box is before me. Or, if I go into a jeweller's shop, and find a curious ring, with a cavity in the center for the stone, I know that a stone is to be placed in that ring, although the master of the shop may say nothing to me of his design in regard to it. Or, if I go into the shop of a bookbinder, and there see the sheets of many copies of the Bible in process of folding and sewing together, it is demonstration to me that those books are to be bound, and that when bound, the sheets which I do not there see will be found bound up in thein. This is demonstration in regard to the future.
Now apply the same principles to Natural Theology: I find, as it were, a system without the cover ; but there is a place for the cover, and the mind is satisfied with the proof that there must be a cover. I find a system as it were in loose sheets, and those sheets before me tell me of other sheets that are to be added. I know that it is to be bound, and that when it is bound, I shall find the sheets that are missing. I find God's Ring of Providence in the great workshop of the Master ; but the stone I do not see ; I see the place for it, and I know that when the ring is perfected, it will be there. I find in Natural Theology this requisition and prediction of a great consummation, a just and final award for characters and deeds, which must have such a retribution. I know that it will come, as certainly as I know that I am in my Master's 'workshop, in the creation of my Maker. 'I see many things which I cannot understand, but I know that everything has a righteous design and meaning, and I know that God does not say one thing in his works, and a contradictory thing in his providence, nor one thing in his providence, and a contradictory thing in his Word.
It may perhaps be answered, that all this demonstration of a future retribution in Natural Theology is still but mere probability, because no man has yet gone into the eternal world and returned, under the system of nature. But we affirm it is actual demonstration, and not mere probability, because, without the predicted result, God is not just." Therefore it is not mere probabili
but demonstration. If the result predicted were of such a nature as to be immaterial in regard to God's character, then, indeed the proof would be mere probability. It might be so, and it might not. But the attributes of God already known require the predicted result, and therefore the prediction is demonstration.
The iron clamp of Natural Theology upon the soul is that of guilt and retribution, and the command of Natural Theology is repentance. But nature has no promise of pardon, does not even say that pardon is possible. Here, on this dreadful darkness, rises the Sun of Righteousness upon the soul. Here comes in the gospel, bringing life and immortality to light through the atonement. I hear many good things from Plato and the heathen moralists, said a holy man and profound writer, but I never hear anything like the sweetness of the sentence, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Neither is there any anticipation of that sentence, nor any foreshadowing of it in Natural Theology, but the reverse. There is the flaming sword, turning every way in the gate of Eden, forbidding all access, but no gentle form inviting us within. Our Natural Theology brings us to the threshhold of the eternal world, and leaves us there, to gaze at the only reality absolutely demonstrated from nature, as awaiting us in that world, namely, Retribution.
The next question which the soul seems to raise, and about which the universal conscience of mankind is exercised, is not so much how to avoid that retribution'; for the sense of it lies upon the soul as an inevitable reality ; but, how that retribution is to be exercised? The imagination of mankind under the power of a guilty consciousness, has wrought out a thousand terrible external suppositions, and predictions, and is indeed the mother of almost all the superstitions, as well as truthful guesses in the world; for superstition is simply the work of an angry conscience in nature's sinfulness and ignorance, or of a powerful imagination goaded on by conscience, and excited to almost preternatural exercise.
But when reason pauses, as it sometimes does, and turns from outward imaginings to inward realities, it finds already in existence and in partial operation, even in this world, powers and causes enough for a great infliction of punishment, or of justice, if carried only as they are into the eternal world. We find the human constitution itself so fearfully and wonderfully made, that its examination sustains and carries out the conviction and prediction of punishment, by showing us what may be, even in ourselves, the agents of such punishment. We find that even in this world by far the greater portion of the suffering we endure comes from ourselves. We find in mankind, in ourselves, an individual conscience of such power, that beneath its rule it is only necessary to be guilty, in order to be miserable. There are indeed great external evils and sufferings, which are the consequences of sin; pain, sickness, poverty, the loss of friends, the penalties of human law, all are sources of sufferings; but the suffering would be, comparatively, very little, were the mind at peace with God, in the enjoyment of a sense of God's favor. It is the inward guilt, unrest, torment and foreboding of the soul, that make external suffering what it is. So that, allowing the constitution of nature to remain, as to all external suffering, precisely as it now is, if yet the inhabitants of the world were a race of pure, gentle, loving beings, submissive to God, with an innocent and quiet conscience, and seeking and delighting in one another's happiness, external suffering would scarcely be felt, as such, and this world would be very like heaven, even with all its present external sufferings in full existence. And on the other hand, let the sinful passions of men have their full development, let the natural depravity of mankind operate unrestrained, and this world, without any other cause, even in spite of its external enjoyments, would be very like what our most direful imaginings conceive of the misery of hell.
Now then it is manifest that, carried as we are into the eternal world, we must have there the same elements of suffering within us, because the same guilty nature and conscience that we have here. But our reason tells us that our suffering, even of this kind, in this world, is but restrained and partial, and that in the world of perfect development and retribution it must be complete ; and we cannot help asking ourselves how it may be accomplished ? We cannot help forecasting our situation and experience in the presence of a just and holy God. We canot help an uneasy consciousness that in such presence, in the eternal world, simply and only as we are, all consideration of the infliction of external penalty being left aside, there must be in ourselves the experience of misery. We ask what elements or agents are there in the constitution of the human mind, the discovery and experience of which,