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themselves christians, confess, that it is taught in their scriptures, and that they can discover no appearances of a contrary doctrine. This could scarcely be the case, were a final restoration spoken of in the bible. Indeed, it is inconsistent with such an idea, for it cannot reasonably be admitted, that God would conceal the truth, for the sake of influencing men by fears of imaginary evil. He would not prevail on them to obey him, by permitting them to apprehend a fate, infinitely more dreadful than the worst beings will ever endure. If then the doctrine of restoration is true, whence arises the silence of the scriptures concerning it? a silence, from which, if not from more direct testimony, has resulted the almost universal persuasion, that the torments of hell will never end.
3. The first hearers of the gospel must have understood future punishment to be eternal, unless the contrary was expressly affirmed by their teachers. The Jews, in the time of our Savior, believed, that all, who were not embraced in the covenant made with Abraham, would perish forever. Every scholar also knows, that eternal punishment was a favorite theme of the Greek and Latin poets, and a popular
- notion of the multitude. When, therefore, Christ and his apostles came to speak of the place of torment, their hearers, whether Jews or Pagans, would need to have their opinions, if erroneous, corrected. If nothing was said on the subject, and no intimation given that they were in an error, they would naturally conclude, that they had not been mistaken, and would continue to believe in eternal punishment. It hence, most manifestly devolves upon believers in a final restoration, to show in what place and in what manner, Christ and his apostles ever controverted the popular opinion.
4. That the wicked will never be restored to virtue and happiness, is fairy inferred from the moral tendency of punishment. Alone it can never produce contrition. The first inducement to repent, which can operate on the human mind, is the apprehension of personal, evil. But neither that apprehension, nor actual suffering, can subdue the will and melt the heart. Danger may excite alarm and induce inquiry, but it cannot reconcile a rebellious mind and call forth emotions of gratitude and love. The goodness of God leadeth men. to repentance. It is not the fire of hell, which
can make them sorry after a godly sort. That can only add intensity to their hate, and inflame their malevolence against God and his laws. It is not in the nature of man, to be thus won to holy views and feelings. The infliction of punishment, therefore, supplies no means and affords no prospect, of the voluntary subjection of the wicked to the government of God. It rather, by exciting opposition, and confirming hatred, tends to perpetuate rebellion.
5. If the wicked deserve any punishment, as its infliction proves they do, they will never cease to deserve it. They take very partial views of the subject, who imagine, that the sins of this life are the only actions, for which the final rejectors of the gospel will be confined in despair. They will increase their own ill desert, by ceaseless resistance to the government of God. The sins done in the body do indeed merit everlasting destruction. But were this denied, the wicked in hell are perpetually violating the unimpaired obligation of supreme love to God, and consequently creating a reason for their endless punishment. Did not the nature of the case establish this, the word of God would make it certain.
"Let him that is filthy be filthy still." Moral impurity consists in a bad state of the affec
Were the wicked to exercise pious feelings, they would no longer be unclean. They will, it hence appears, continue in sin. In other words, the souls of lost men are under a law, which they violate, and to the penalties of which, they are unceasingly exposing themselves. The time can never arrive, in which they will not deserve additional punishment for acts just committed. While they are suffering for the sins of this life, they will be provoking the justice of God to punish them for new, more numerous and it may be more aggravated offences. The sin ofthe fallen angels, in tempting our first parents to take the forbidden fruit and in deceiving their posterity, is no more punishable than the sins, which wicked men will commit after their final sentence. And as both the bible and the nature of the case show, that they will continue to offend, there is a reason constantly arising, for perpetuating their punishment.
6. If the doctrine of restoration is true, the wicked will be released without deserving acquittal, or they will escape, having expiated their sins by an adequate punishment, on the ground of justice.
But it is not pretended, from any thing in the bible, that they will ever be restored because they no longer deserve to be punished. Such a supposition is often made, but it is not found in the word of God. The salvation of men, as far as it extends, is always spoken of as the result of forgiveness. The texts, which are employed to prove universal salvation refer the whole effect, whatever it is, to the mercy of God; and in no instance intimate that the wicked will expiate their sins and complete the period of lawful punishment, by suffering to the extent of their crimes. None of these imply the doctrine of restoration on the ground of justice, whatever else they may teach. If, as it is alleged, they assert it at all, it is through the mediation of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. But lost men will not escape through forgiveness, for the scriptures are most explicit in deciding that there is no pardon beyond the grave. "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your ther forgive your trespasses." The doctrine of restoration is, therefore, not true, because neither of the suppositions on which it rests, can be maintained.
7. The above conclusion is, with equal satis