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Rev. xix, which gives an account of the marriage, to see whether the whore of Babylon was invited to the feast, and made one of the bride-maids ; but I found all heaven rejoicing that He had judged the great whore, and singing Alleluia, because her smoke rose up for ever and ever!
On Judgment by Jesus Christ.
All punishments inflicted by God,” says Mr. Wright, " are connected with mercy; to him belongeth mercy,
even when he rendereth to every man according to “ his work.” Psa. Ixii. 12. If Mr. W. means that it is an act of mercy to render to every wicked man according to his work, how will he reconcile it with what he bath said, about “justice not requiring that sinners should re"ceive according to their demerits ?” Wherein lies the difference between rendering to every wicked man according to his work, and every sinner receiving according to his demerits? And yet it seems one would be an act of mercy, the other an act of injustice!
It is granted that punishments are connected with mercy, but not that the mercy always extends to the individual sufferers. God • divided the Red Sea into “parts—and made Israel to pass through the midst of "it-but overthrew Pharaob and his host the Red s. Sea; for His mercy endureth for ever.” Psa. xxxvi. 13, 14, 15. Mercy is here connected with the overthrow of Pharaoh and his bost; but no man in his senses sopposes the mercy extended to the Egyptians. It was a mercy to the Israelites to be delivered in this way out of the hands of their enemies. In Psa. Ixii. we find that David, like the Israelites above, was surrounded with enemies. They imagined mischief against him, ver. 3.
They consulted to cast him down from his excellency, ver. 4. He had recoursé to God for defence, and exhorts the saints to a similar conduct under similar circumstances, ver. 5, 8. He then warns the wicked of the sinfulness and vanity of their attempts against God's people, ver. 9, 10. And his own confidence, his exhortation to the saints, and bis warning to the wicked, are all founded upon the next words ;
- God hath spoken once ; twice have I read this ; that power belongeth "unto God. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy ; “ for thou renderest to every man according to his “work,” ver. 11, 12. Upon the whole then we learn, that God has power to protect His saints, and to punish their enemies ; and that the mercy which he keeps for His saints will induce Him to exercise His power in the way of judgment upon the wicked: He will render to them according to their works, as in the case of Pharaoh and his host, and thus deliver His people.
Mr. Wright proceeds, “ The future existence of man“kind is the consequence of the death and resurrection of “ Christ, (John xi. 25. 1 Cor. 15, 22. 2 Tim. i. 10.) < but it is acknowledged that the death and resurrection - of Christ are effects of Divine love, consequently "every thing arising from his death and resurrection 66 must be an effect of love. The Son of God will “ judge and punish the wicked: consequently his judging and punishing them will be mediatorial acts, intended " to bring them into subjection, and reconcile them to « God.”
If all the effects of a cause are effects of Divine love, because that cause is an effect of that love, it will follow that, since the existence of man, as a free agent, is an effect of the love of God, every thing produced by man as a free agent, is an effect of it also, i. e. the sins of men are effects of the love of God.
Although the death and resurrection of Christ are effects of Divine love, this does not hinder, but that the bene
fits flowing from these gracious acts, may be proposed to mankind upon certain conditions, and that those who do not comply with the terms of the new covenant, may be deprived of its blessings. His Majesty, instead of executing the laws against an army of rebels, makes proclamation, that all who will lay down their arms and return to their duty within a limited period, shall be restored to the same privileges with his other subjects : but that if they do not cease from their unnatural rebellion within the term specified, they shall be proceeded against as rebels and traitors. Does this gracious proclamation prevent his Majesty from punishing with death those who despise it? Yet, in Mr. W.'s way of drawing consequences, it is easy to prove that those who continue in rebellion, will be dealt with in mercy.
Thus “ the prolonged existence of these re“bels is the effect of His Majesty's gracious proclama“tion. It is acknowledged that his Majesty's proclama“tion is the effect of his love : consequently every thing
arising from this proclamation is an effect of love. His " Majesty will judge and hang those who obstinately per
severe in rebellion; consequently his judging and “hanging them will be gracious acts, intended to make “them good members of civil society!” In fact, if we allow Mr. W.’s consequences to be just, it may be shown very readily, that when one act of mercy has passed, nothing but mercy can follow.
It is surely most curious language to tell sinners that it is an act of love and mercy in God to send them to bell. Why should theyøbe afraid of going to hell, if there be nothing but the love and mercy of God displayed there? Is the contemplation of these Divine perfections calculated to inspire them with fear?
To show the tendency of Mr. W.'s doctrine, I will suppose the following conversation to take place between him and a person who is in the habit of attending his ministry, and of reading his productions from the press.
Mr. W. You are far advanced in years, Mr. F., what do you
think about another world. Mr. F. I cannot say, Sir, that I am prepared for heaven, but it is some consolation to me, that the horrible doctrine of everlasting damnation is not true.
W. Poor consolation indeed! You cannot tell how se. vere future punishment may be, nor how long it may contioue. Is it not the height of folly to run the bazard of enduring the most extreme tortures for ages, merely to gratify your sinful inclinations for a few days ?
F. If I were conscious of any such hazard, I would immediately subscribe to the folly of my conduct. have you not informed the world, that “all punishments are connected with mercy ?” and also that “God cannot act towards any creature at any time, but from a principle 66.of love ?»* Now will a God of love and mercy inflict punishment.greater in degree, or of longer duration than is necessary to bring his creatures to virtue and happiness?
W. But for aught we know, extreme punishment, for a long time, may be necessary to bring about those ends.
F. The direct contrary is clearly deducible from your writings. You know that the above description is calculated to beget fear ; whereas you have observed in reply to Dr. Ryland, (p. 18.) that “the government of God is " not the reign of terror-that men are not to be fright"ened into his love-that if they saw his loveliness, and • perceived his love to them, they certainly would love "and obey bim." I cannot possibly see how this repre. sentation can accord with any punishment; much less with punishment that will be very severe, and of long duration.
W. “ It is not supposed by us, that the wicked will be “ conquered and made virtuous by mere torment, only “ that their sufferings may conduce to their conviction so of the evil and bitter nature of sin, in order to their
* Hints, p. 4.
st being fitted to become recipients of divine mercy, by “ wbich they will be healed and restored.'
F. If a conviction of the evil and bitter nature of sia be all that is necessary in order become a recipient of Divine mercy, then I may hope to escape all future punishment, since, if I die in my present state, I shall go into the other world with this conviction.
W. “ As God doth not afflict willingly, all the suffer“ings of the present state have a tendency to bring men “ to reflection, that they may be humbled before the Lord ; “ and how will it be proved that the sufferings of the 66 wicked hereafter will not have the same tendency ?”'\
F. An advocate for the tremendous doctrine of endless torments would object, that you apply that text in too great a latitude, and ask you how the destruction of the Sodomites had so happy a tendency? with many other puzzling questions; but I entirely coincide with your views of the passage. You have however furnished me with arguments, in the very next page, to remove all apprehensions of any thing very dreadful; for you observe, “ That sufferings in the present life bave not al
ways a good effect, may be accounted for by consider“ing that sinners do not, generally, view them as coming " from the hand of God, nor consider sio as the cause of " them; no wonder, then, that they are not humbled un“ der the Divine hand; but they must have very different “ideas when under future punishment.” You go on to say, " that men in this life, bowever great their suffer“ings, find many alleviations, many things to divert their " attention and dissipate their thoughts ; but none of " these circumstances can exist in the future state of " punishment.” Now, Sir, if the peculiarity of men's circumstances here be the reason why the sufferings of this life do not always terminate in conversion, if those hinderances will not exist in another world, and if God do