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kind, when it requires of them perfect obedience? How can it be fulfilled, unless perfect obedience be rendered unto it? Is it magnifying a law and making it honourable, to hang a man for violating it? Look at England, consider the many thousands who have been legally murdered for the violation of English law. For committing crimes, (which the law agravates). which under the milder, more just, and consequently, (because more just,) more merciful government of the United States, and do not subject the criminal to loss of life or limb! Hanging criminals, will surely prevent them from doing any harm, and likewise any good! Hanging a man ruins him. It is well said, "a man after he is hung is good for nothing." The law which destroys men, and makes them, from being good for something, to be good for nothing, can never be magnified and made honourble by this means, unless, to destroy men, and reduce them from being good for something, to be good for nothing, magnifies them and makes them honourable.
All laws require perfect obedience to their requisitions. A violation of the requisition of a law, and a compliance with what the law requires, are the greatest extremes and opposites.Therefore, if a law is made honourable by violating it, it is disgraced by keeping it. And if a law is made honourable by complying with its commands, it is disgraced by violating its commands. The scripture says, "In the multitude of the people is the honour of a king; and for want of people, cometh the destruction of the prince," Prov. xiv. 28. The king and his laws, ink or swim together. Let the king of England
increase the cognizance of his laws, and include as capital offences, the commonest foibles or faults incidental to his subjects, let his laws be magnified and made honourable by hanging ninety-nine out of a hundred of all his subjects, and in proportion as he magnified and made his laws honourable, he would be reduced and disgraced. To magnify a law, is to conform to its requirements. I ask, were the laws of England magnified and made honourable by the revolt of our fathers from that government? Would they have been magnified and made honourable, if the authors of the laws had quelled the revolt, and had destroyed every person who had revolted; and by that means, left the country desolate and waste? Can the law of God be made honourable by the distruction of his subjects? Are not laws made honourable, when all who are under them, testify their approbation of the laws, by observing all their requisitions? Can laws. be magnified any other way? No; surely, nev
Remember, that God's covenant or testament, is the covenant of a Father to his children: this Father, is love! and that all his purposes, decrees and dispensations, have for a common and ultimate object, the holiness and happiness of his offspring. "A son honoureth his Father, if I be a Father, where is mine honour?" Mal. i. 6.— How can a father be honoured by his children, so long as they disobey his commands? Now consider God's covenant, "I will put my law into their minds and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people," and "all shall know me from the
least to the greatest." "I will give him for a covenant to the people, for a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes," &c. Is. xlii. 6. Thus will God be honoured; not as some poor religious maniacs suppose, by the ignorance and misery of his offspring; but by their knowledge and happiness.
"Let the infuriate Calvanist, in the insanity of his mind, transplant the imaginary character of his God into his own bosom. Let his own family be the theatre of the exhibition of his theology, his own children the recipients of his frowns and his fury; and there let him show his honour! This house would be a hell, and the father a devil. We should behold a few loaded with favours, and the residue made wretched for the father's honour. We should behold the rejoicing few, shouting songs of triumph, and exulting at the misery of the sufferers. And the father's honour would appear brightest from the disclosure of the fact, that his decisions were arbitrary, having no regard to the merit or demerit of his children.
Again, the scriptures say, the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul, not by destroying them who violate it, by inflicting cruel penalties injurious to the offenders, but by inlightening their understanding, opening their blind eyes, bringing them out of darkness into light, guiding them with his counsel and afterwards receiving them into glory."
Must not that law be imperfect which cannot convert the soul? But the "law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul." The substance and sum of all law from the beginning to the end of
the scriptures, is comprised in these few words, and nothing can be better: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. and thy neighbour as thyself." If love will not convert the soul, it must remain in sin and hatred. How astonishing is the conclusion, that a law which requires supreme love to God and man, should end in supreme hatred; and instead of converting and enlightening the soul by the influence of love, should consign the soul to endless mi
This command was given by God to Moses, and to this, and all other commands that were given, rewards for obedience and penalties for disobedience are annexed. "If thou harken not unto the Lord thy God," &c. "all those curses shall come upon thee." (See Deut. xxviii.15.) But not one word of punishment hereafter, for transgression is mentioned.*
Therefore, it is conclusive, if there is an endless punishment for sin, or, indeed, if any punishment after this life, it cannot be for transgressing the laws of Moses.
*No: nor endless happiness for obedience neither. A man must be ve ry vain, or weak, to think that he can do any good in this world, even if he does as much, or more than a Howard, (the great philanthropist,) to deserve everlasting happiness. As it is well and truly observed by Franklin, "I am," says he, "far from expecting to merit heaven by my good works. By heaven we understand a state of happiness infinite in degree [not infinite in degree, this must be a mistake] and endless in dutation. I can do nothing to deserve such a reward. He that, for giving a draught of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those, who think they deserve heaven, for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit; how much more so the happiness of heaven? For my part, I have not the vanity to think, I deserve it, or folly to expect it, or ambition to desire it, but con tent myself in submitting to the disposal of that God, who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he never will make me miserable, and that the afflietions 1 may from time to time suffer, will tend to my benefit.
As a writer observes, that "believers in endless misery might with as much propriety say, that the law of God, given from Sinai, threatens endless misery to every man who wears long hair, as to say it threatens endless misery to any of Adam's race." And as there was no such law given then, nor never before; it would be most unreasonable that there should be any such law for sin under the gospel, for reasons which I have before briefly stated. More might be stated, but it will be best for the reader to examine and consider for himself, whether I am not right in stating as I have done, that there has never been any law given, recorded in the scriptures, that threatened eternal punishment for sin, which, if he cannot find any such law, which I am sure he cannot, he must then give up the curel doctrine of eternal misery in toto.
The advocates of eternal misery, must acknowledge that it was preached but very little, if at all, for above 4000 years. Eternal, or everlasting punishment for sin, is not once mentiontioned; and it is a truth, that in the present dạy there is more said in a single sermon, than there is in the scripture fron the beginning to the end; or that there is more preached about hell and everlasting punishment, now on one sabbath, in one hour, than there was preached in 4090 years. And there is something farther that may be taken into consideration; that is, the more wicked people are, the more warnings they have had of the consequences of their sins and wickedness. And although they were much more wicked in the course of the 4000 years than they are now, at least in our part of the world, or in America,