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which is implied in moral agency, there must be in the mind the idea or first truth that the good of God and of the universe is infinitely valuable. The idea may lie in comparative obscuration. Nevertheless it is and must be in the mind. If this is so, (and it must be so,) it follows that every refusal to will the highest well-being of God and of the universe involves infinite guilt.. Every moral agent must be able to affirm, and indeed must affirm to himself that the intrinsic value of the happiness of God and the universe must be boundless, unlimited, infinite. He must affirm that there can be no limit to it. By this affirmation or by the apprehension that necessitates this affirmation, his guilt ought to be measured, if he refuses to consecrate himself to the promotion of those in
V. Notwithstanding all sin deserves endless punishment, yet the guilt of different persons may vary indefinitely, and punishment, although always endless in duration, may and ought to vary in degree according to the guilt of each indi
The guilt of different persons may vary indefinitely.— This also may be true of the same person at different periods of life. Observe: the degree of guilt depends on the degree of intellectual development on moral subjects-upon the clearness with which the mind apprehends moral relations, especially the intrinsic value of those interests which it ought to choose. These apprehensions vary, as every moral agent is conscious, almost continually. The obligation to will an end lies in the intrinsic value of the end. The obligation is greater or less as the mind's honest estimate of the value of it is greater or less. Every moral agent knows that the value of the end is unbounded. Yet some have an indefinitely larger conception of what infinite and boundless means. Some minds mean indefinitely more by such language than others do. As light increases and the mind obtains enlarged conceptions of God, of the universe, of endless happiness or misery, and of all those great truths that cluster around these subjects, its obligation increases in exact proportion to increasing light, and so does the guilt of selfishness.
VI. That penal inflictions under the government of God must
Here the inquiry is, what kind of death is intended where death is denounced against the transgressor as the penalty of the law of God?
I. It is not merely natural death, for,
1. This would in reality be no penalty at all. But it would be offering a reward to sin. If natural death is all that is intended, and if persons, as soon as they are naturally dead have suffered the penalty of the law, and their souls go immediately to heaven, the case stands thus: If your obedience is perfect and perpetual, you shall live in this world forever: but if you sin, you shall die and go right to heaven. This would be hire and salary, and not punishment.
2. If natural death be the penalty of God's law, the righte ous who are forgiven, should not die a natural death.
3. If natural death be the penalty of God's law, there is no such thing as forgiveness, but all must actually endure the penalty.
4. If natural death be the penalty, then infants and animals suffer this penalty as well as the most abandoned transgress
5. If natural death be the penalty it sustains no proportion whatever to the guilt of sin.
6. Natural death would be no adequate expression of the importance of the precept.
II. The penalty of God's law is not spiritual death.
1. Because spiritual death is a state of entire sinfulness. 2. To make a state of entire sinfulness the penalty of the law of God, would be to make the penalty and the breach of the precept identical.
3. It would be making God the author of sin, and would represent him as compelling the sinner to commit one sin as the punishment for another, as forcing him into a state of total depravity as the reward of his first transgression.
III. But the penal sanction of the law of God is eternal death or that state of suffering which is the natural and governmental result of sin or spiritual death.
Before I proceed to the proof of this, I will notice an objection which is often urged against the doctrine of eternal punishments. The objection is one, but it is stated in three dif ferent forms. This, and every other objection to the doctrine of endless punishment, with which I am acquainted, is leveled against the justice of such a governmental infliction.
1. It is said that endless punishment is unjust because life is so short that men do not live long enough in this world to commit so great a number of sins as to deserve endless punishment. To this I answer,
(1.) That it is founded in a ridiculous ignorance or disregard of a universal principle of government, viz: that one
breach of the precept always incurs the penalty of the law, whatever that penalty is.
(2.) The length of time employed in committing a sin, has nothing to do with its blameworthiness or guilt. It is the design which constitutes the moral character of the action, and not the length of time required for its accomplishment.
(3.) This objection takes for granted that it is the number of sins and not the intrinsic guilt of sin that constitutes its blameworthiness, whereas it is the intrinsic desert or guilt of sin, as we shall soon see, that renders it deserving of endless punishment.
2. Another form of the objection is, that a finite creature can not commit an infinite sin. But none but an infinite sin can deserve endless punishment: therefore endless punishments are unjust.
(1.) This objection takes for granted that man is so diminutive a creature, so much less than the Creator, that he can not deserve his endless frown.
(2.) The fact is, the greater the distance between the creature and the creator, the more aggravated is the guilt of insult or rebellion in the creature. Which is the greater crime, for a child to insult his playfellow or his parent? Which would involve the most guilt, for a man to smite his neighbor and his equal, or his lawful sovereign?
(3.) The higher the ruler is exalted above the subject in his nature, character, and rightful authority, the greater is the guilt of transgression in the subject. Therefore the fact that man is so infinitely below his Maker but enhances the guilt of his rebellion and renders him worthy of his endless frown.
3. A third form of the objection is, that sin is not an infinite evil, and therefore does not deserve endless punishment. This objection may mean either that sin would not produce infinite mischief if unrestrained, or that it does not involve infinite guilt. It can not mean the first, for it is agreed on all hands that misery must continue as long as sin does, and therefore that sin unrestrained would produce endless evil. The objection therefore must mean that sin does not involve infinite guilt. Observe then, the point at issue is, what is the intrinsic demerit or guilt of sin? What does all sin in its own nature deserve? They who deny the justice of endless punishment, manifestly consider the guilt of sin as a mere trifle. They who maintain the justice of endless punishment, consider sin as an evil of immeasurable magnitude,
and, in its own nature, as deserving of endless punishment. Proof:
1. The guilt or blameworthiness of an action consists in its being the violation of an obligation. Example: Should a child refuse obedience to his fellow who has no natural or acquired claims upon his obedience, he would not be blameworthy. But should he refuse obedience to his parent who has both a natural and acquired claim to his obedience, this conduct would be blameworthy. This shows in what blameworthiness consists.
2. The guilt or blameworthiness of an action is equal to the amount of obligation to do or omit that thing. We have just seen that the blameworthiness lies in its being the violation of an obligation. Hence the amount of blame worthiness must be equal to the amount of obligation. If a child refuse to obey his fellow, he contracts no guilt. If he refuse to obey his parent, he contracts a degree of guilt equal to the amount of his obligation to obey. Suppose that some one upon whom he is a thousand times as dependent as upon his parent, and who therefore has a thousand times higher claim upon his obedience than his parent has, should command him to do or omit a certain thing. Should he in this case disobey, his guilt would be a thousand times as great as when he disobeyed his parents. Now suppose that God, upon whom every moral being is not only perfectly but endlessly dependent, requires the creature to love him with all his heart; who does not see that his guilt in refusing obedience must be as great as his obligation to obey?
Having shown that moral obligation is founded in the intrinsic value of the highest well-being of God and of the universe, and that it is always equal to the light afforded to the mind or to the soul's knowledge of the value of those interests, and having shown also that every moral agent necessarily has the idea more or less clearly developed that the value of those interests is infinite, it follows:
That the law is infinitely unjust, if its penal sections are not endless. Law must be just in two respects.
The precept must be in accordance with the law of na
The penalty must be equal to the importance of the precept. That which has not these two peculiarities is not just, and therefore is not and can not be law. Either, then, God has no law, or its penal sanctions are endless.
1. That the penal sanctions of the law of God are endless,.
is evident from the fact that a less penalty would not exhibit as high motives as the nature of the case admits, to restrain sin and promote virtue.
2. Natural justice demands that God should exhibit as high motives to secure obedience as the value of the law demands, and the nature of the case admits.
3. The justice, holiness and benevolence of God demand that the penal sanctions of his law should be endless; and if they are not, God can not be just, holy or benevolent.
4. Unless the penal sanctions of the law of God are endless, they are virtually and really no penalty at all. If a man be threatened with punishment for one thousand, or ten thousand, or ten millions, or ten hundred millions of years, after which he is to come out, as a matter of justice, and to go heaven, there is beyond an absolute eternity of happiness. Now there is no sort of proportion between the longest finite period that can be named, or even conceived, and endless duration. If, therefore, limited punishment, ending in an eternity of heaven, be the penalty of God's law, the case stands thus: Be perfect, and you live here forever. Sin, and receive finite suffering, with an eternity of heaven. This would be, after all, offering reward to sin.
5. Death is eternal in its nature. The fact, therefore, that this figure is used to express the future punishment of the wicked affords a plain inference that it is endless.
6. The tendency of sin to perpetuate and aggravate itself, affords another strong inference that the sinfulness and misery of the wicked will be eternal.
7. The fact that punishment has no tendency to beget disinterested love in a selfish mind towards him who inflicts the punishment, also affords a strong presumption that future punishment will be eternal.
8. The law makes no provision for terminating future punishment.
9. Sin deserves endless punishment just as fully as it deserves any punishment at all. If, therefore, it is not forgiven, if it be punished at all with penal suffering, the punishment must be endless.
10. To deny the justice of eternal punishments, involves the same principle as a denial of the justice of any degree of punishment.
11. To deny the justice of endless punishment, is virtually to deny the fact of moral evil. But to deny this is to deny - moral obligation. To deny moral obligation is to deny moral