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whom that constitution depends. Can we then doubt that it will be such as to secure reformation, and not confirmation in vice?
Let the mind then seriously consider what the human nature is: that it is capable of pure, refined, and exalted happiness, in an illimitable degree; that it is made for the enjoyment of this felicity; that its benevolent Author exercises over it a continual government which tends to remove, and which, if its operation continue, must ultimately remove all that is opposed to it; and determine which scheme is most probable, that which teaches that the great majority of mankind shall never taste of happiness, but suffer the most intolerable and unremitted anguish during an endless being ; or that which affirms that, after having endured this misery for unknown ages, they shall be for ever blotted out of existence ; or that which maintains, that all which their Maker designed concerning them, shall come to pass; that the very sin and suffering which afflict them, shall be the means of working out their final purity and happiness, and that they shall accomplish this in so excellent and perfect a manner, as triumphantly to prove, that notwithstanding all our present difficulties about the existence of natural and moral evil, THE BENEvo LENT PARENT of MANKIND HAS A CCOMPLISHED THE BEST END BY THE
wises.T MEANs. If the latter opinion be indeed favored by these two great principles, the perfections of God and the nature of man, its truth must be considered as established. If, then, we could go no farther, the arguments which have been adduced to support the doctrine of the ultimate restoration of all mankind' to purity and happiness, appear sufficient to produce a rational and solid conviction of its truth. They prove, certainly, that it rests upon much firmer ground than either of the doctrines which oppose it ; and when in connexion with this, the doctrine itself is considered, every reflective mind must surely incline to prefer it. If, then, we could not produce another argument, in support of it, and if, on examining the Scriptures, it be found that they do not contradict it, (supposing they do not expressly favor, if they. do not directly confute it,) it must be admitted. as true, because, in that case, there will be much, to favor, and nothing to oppose it. But, in point of fact, reason furnishes us with still more conclusive arguments, and the scriptural evidence in support of it, is decisive.
OF THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF THE DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL RESTORATION, FROM THE NATURE AND OBJECT OF PUNISHMENT.
One of the chief objections to the doctrine which it is the object of the preceding reasoning to establish, is, that although the Deity is in the highest degree wise and good, yet that he is, at the same time, an irreconcileable enemy to sin, that he will visit it with the punishment it deserves, and that while we are sure that that punishment must be great, we have no means of ascertaining its exact extent. - * If the doctrine of Universal Restoration denied this, that circumstance would be fatal to it, whatever might be urged in its favor; but God’s abhorrence of sin, and his determination to punish it, not only do not militate against this doctrine, but afford the most powerful arguments in support of it. . In order to be satisfied of this, it is necessary only to establish clear and precise conceptions concerning the nature of divine punishment.
What is the meaning of this term It has been lately defined thus: Punishment is the conduct of God with respect to the wicked, in the capacity of a judge. The defect of this account is, that it is a definition which requires a definition; for when in an inquiry concerning the nature of divine punishment, it is said, that it is the conduct of God with respect to the wicked, in the capacity of a judge, we must inevitably put the ulterior question—What is the nature of that conduct? Whence another definition must be given, which perhaps may require a third. Let the following definition be substituted for the former: Punishment is the infliction of pain, in consequence of the neglect or violation of duty. When we say a person is punished, we mean that he suffers some pain or privation, in consequence of his having omitted what he ought to have done, or of his having done what he ought to have avoided. Is there any distinction between punishment and revenge They are universally believed to be totally different in their nature. What, then, is the exact difference between them It is of the utmost importance to ascertain this, because revenge is the only thing with which punishment can be confounded. It has been said, that punishment is the infiction of pain, in consequence of the neglect or violation of duty. Let us then say, that Revenge is the infliction of pain, in consequence of the commission of injury. The neglect of duty seems to give rise to punishment; the commission of injury to revenge. But since the commission of injury must necessarily be resolved, either into a neglect or violation of duty, it follows, that these two definitions are exactly the same. Either, therefore, the definition of punishment must be defective, or that of revenge must be false; for if these two things really differ from each other, it is impossible that the same definition can apply to both. - We purposely made these definitions defective, in order that the difference between punishment and revenge might be more clearly seen, and that the appearance of taking for granted the point in dispute might be avoided. It is necessary to add to the former definition of punishment, the words, “With a view to correct the evil;” and to that of revenge, the words, “With a view to gratify a malignant passion.”— These definitions will then stand thus: Punishment is the infliction of pain, in consequence of the neglect or violation of duty, with A VIEW TO CORRECT THE EVIL. Revenge is the infliction of pain, in consequence of the commission of injury, witH A view To GRATIFY A M.A. LIGN ANT PASSION. That the pain which punishment occasions,