Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

ture, severe and protracted suffering is often so denominated.

Objection 2. On the hypothesis, that future punishment will be corrective, it follows, that all men will not be saved, because deliverance from the curse of the law is essential to salvation ; but if the curse of the law, be that punishment which is necessary to lead to repentance, and if a great part of mankind will suffer this punishment, it follows that a great part of mankind will not be saved; for to be saved, and yet to suffer the curse of the law, is a contradiction. Moreover, a deliverance from the curse of the law, would be a deprivation of the greatest good which God, in their present temper, can possibly bestow upon the wicked. -

Answer. This objection is entirely verbal. The advocates for the corrective nature of punishment do not believe that all men will be saved, but that sinners, having been reclaimed by the discipline through which they will be made to pass, all men will ultimately be rendered pure and happy. Accordingly, they maintain that the impenitent must be subjected to future punishment, for the very reason assigned in the objection, that, were it otherwise, it would argue a defect of wisdom and goodness in their moral governor, since it would be to withhold from them the greatest good, which, in their present temper, he can bestow upon them.

Objection 3. If the penalty of the law consist in that punishment which is necessary to lead to repentance, then all upon whom it is inflicted, when brought to repentance, are delivered from farther suffering, not on the ground of mercy and goodness, but of justice. They have satisfied the divine law : it has taken its course upon them: if, therefore, they are not immediately released from farther punishment, they are injured and oppressed. Accordingly, all forgiveness of the impenitent, is impossible, since forgiveness implies that the sinner forgiven is not punished according to law and justice; but on the hypothesis under consideration, all who suffer future punishment are punished according to law and justice, inasmuch as they endure that punish

ment, which is necessary to repentance. Answer. It is true that all who suffer future punishment endure the penalty of the law, and therefore, in a popular sense, cannot be said to be forgiven. o It is true, also, that after they have suffered all the punishment annexed to the law, any farther, punishment of them would be, unjust : their exemption from fartherpunishment is, therefore, without doubt, required by strict justice; and yet under the Divine administration, it is highly improper to speak even of that very exemption as a matter of right : for, such is the nature of punishment under the government of God, that it is as benevolent a provision as the direct and immediate bestowment of happiness: it is at once the actual communication of good in the form best calculated to secure happiness. The sinner is therefore as much indebted to the Creator for it as he is for the gift of life itself, and for that constitution of his nature which renders life a blessing. When, therefore, that happy period'shall have arrived when punishment shall be no longer necessary, when it shall have accomplished its work, when it shall have eradicated the disposition to evil, and have produced a fitness for happiness, instead of proudly claiming exemption from it, the sinner, with unbounded gratitude, will adore and bless his benignant Creator for having inflicted it. He will perceive that it was the wisest and kindest provision which his Heavenly Father could possibly have made for his happiness, and, with the profoundest emotions of dutiful obedience and filial love, he will thank him for it. . . . . . . . ''The punishment inflicted upon the sinner being, then, in truth, the communication of good to him in the manner that is best adapted to his moral state, it is evidently absurd to speak of his claiming exemption from it as a matter of right. It is the necessary, though painful, means to a wise and benevolent end, and it will cease, of course, as soon as it has accomplished its end. . . . . . . . . . . This view of punishment is truly honorable to

the Deity; truly calculated to win the most obdurate to the love and adoration of him: while that view of punishment which is implied in the objection is essentially unjust, because it is the infliction of mere pain, pain that answers, and that is intended to answer, no beneficial purpose; which, as it is perfectly inconsistent with goodness, so it must be totally irreconcileable to justice. - , Objection 4. If the only just end of punishment be repentance, and there be any curse of the law at all, it must be repentance itself. Answer. The curse of the law is not repentance, but the suffering necessary to produce repentance. . . . Objection 5. If the only just end of punishment be to lead the sinner to repentance, and to promote his individual good; and if all just punishment be a mere discipline necessary and wholesome to the recipient, then punishment inflicted for any other end is unjust. It is, therefore, unjust to punish a sinner on account of any contempt of the Deity, any opposition to his design and to his cause, or on account of any injury which he may do to his fellow-beings, excepting so far as he injures himself at the same time. Answer. Those who maintain that punishment inflicted by an infinitely wise, powerful, and good being, must be corrective, do not mean

that it must correct the evil disposition of the sinner alone, but also the injury done to the system. They contend that perfect goodness must aim at both ; that infinite wisdom must perceive the means by which both may be accomplished, and that almighty power must be able to render those means effectual. . To effect one end alone, while both are equally possible and equally necessary, they believe to argue an imperfection which cannot exist under the divine administration. It is just to punish the sinner on account of contempt of the Deity and opposition to his will, both because that contempt and opposition are injurious to the sinner himself and to the system, and it is the proper object of punishment to repair the injury done. to both. . . . . - - : Objection 6. On the hypothesis that all punishment is corrective, it must be maintained that vindictive punishment is unjust ; yet at the same time it is admitted, that the punishment actually inflicted is in the highest degree vindictive. For a vindictive punishment is that which is inflicted with a design to support the authority of a broken law; but if the punishment which is necessary to lead the sinner to repentance be sufficient to support the authority of the divine law, and be inflicted for this end, as is admitted, it is to the highest degree vindictive, and designedly vindictive. Those, therefore,

« PoprzedniaDalej »