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and pressing temptation, countless millions of them should for a few years of sin be consigned by a God of infinite love and justice to never ending torment ? The longest life is but as a moment compared with eternity, yet for the sin of that brief space, there is a theology which bids us believe, everlasting perdition will be the doom. The idea conflicts violently with the most elementary, as with the profoundest notion, of divine justice and goodness.
Now, let it not be objected here that we are not competent to judge of those attributes, or to say that this or that is fitting or not fitting in regard to them. I answer that God himself recognises our capacity to judge of them by appealing to our own sense of them, and bidding us to imitate them. It is written, ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy.' We are told to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. We are exhorted to be imitators of God as dear children. Human excellence, therefore, is but the reflection and the copying of divine excellence. This could not be, we could not be commanded to be like God, if moral attributes, as ascribed in supreme perfection to God, mean qualities altogether foreign to human conceptions of goodness, if they are not analagous in principle to what He has Himself defined and enjoined as goodness in his moral creatures. Rather may it be said that such is the link between the human and the divine, that then is man most human when he most approaches to the divine. That is human or inhuman which is in concord or conflict with those moral instincts which the Creator breathed into his creature, so creating him after his own image, and imparting to him of
1 Pet. i. 16. Matt. v. 48.
the divine nature. Impaired and dimmed as they
of these moral instincts in man as man. It is as endowed with these instincts, emanations from Himself, and as capable therefore of appreciating divine excellence, that men are exhorted to imitate God. Human excellence cannot therefore differ from divine excellence in essence, but only in degree. What is abhorrent to our sense of the one, ought to be abhorrent to our sense of the other. And, indeed, we act upon this sense of what is fitting or not fitting to the divine nature when we repudiate thoughts, feelings, acts attributed by the heathen to God, and like St. Paul "commend ourselves to 2 Cor. iv. 2. their conscience' (ovveídnous), by showing the incompatibility of such thoughts, feelings, and acts, with the goodness and justice of God. And so, appealing to and acting on the same συνείδησις, , may that dogma be unhesitatingly pronounced a priori impossible, intrinsically inadmissible, which attributes to God what universally would be stigmatized as harsh, cruel, and unjust in man. Therefore do we repudiate as a priori improbable, as intrinsically inadmissible, the dogma of endless torture as the punishment of sinners, because it ascribes to God what would be execrated in man. For instance,
were an earthly ruler to condemn the vilest criminal in his kingdom to be carefully kept alive in order that he might be subjected to perpetual torture, all humanity would shudder at it. Yet there is a theology which calmly attributes to the all just and loving God the determination to keep myriads of his subjects in never ending existence in order that they may undergo never ending torment. Were an earthly father to consign a child, however worthless, to unintermitted suffering, should we not say that they who offered their children to Moloch were saints in comparison ? Yet we are asked by some theologians to believe that the heavenly Father will subject his disobedient children to torment without end and without remedy. Were any human legislature to ordain that all crime alike, great or small, of tender youth or hoary villain, of the tempted or the tempter, of the ignorant or the well instructed, whether once committed or oft repeated, that all crime equally should be liable to life-long torture, more or less intense, indeed, according to the aggravations of the case, but still in all cases alike lifelong, would not such a legislature be denounced as a monstrosity on earth ? Yet there is a theology that teaches that under the legislation of the All Wise and All Good everlasting torment will be alike the doom of the arch-rebel and his adherents, of the tempter and his victims ; alike the penalty of the prolonged defiance of the one, extending through thousands of years, and of the brief disobedience of the other, brief, i.e., in comparison, though it be the disobedience of the longest life allotted to man; alike the punishment of him who, created holy, with
no inherent tendency of nature to evil, with no solicitation to it from without, yet became a rebel, and has ever since made it the one end of his existence to foment rebellion, and no less the punishment of those whose sin is that of the nature they were born with, a nature moreover incessantly exposed to temptation. Does not that moral sense which God implanted in us, as a witness for Himself, cry out at this as a libel upon divine justice ? But to take a milder contrast. According to the theology we are now combating, both the hoary headed transgressor and the youthful transgressor, if they die impenitent, will alike perish everlastingly. For instance, a lad of wicked disposition and conduct dies at twelve years old, unconverted and impenitent. Now it will scarcely be alleged that responsible being commences at an earlier age than five or six. So then, for the sin of some six or seven years, this child, no less than a sinner of a hundred years, is to undergo an anguish, of modified intensity perhaps, but still unlimited in duration. Again, I say the moral sense revolts at this, as repugnant to the idea of divine equity. No just man, we instinctively feel, would so apportion punishment ; a fortiori to attribute it to God we feel is monstrous.
It is generally believed, even by those who take the extremest views of human sin and its punishment, that Adam and Eve, the first transgressors, through whose fall a corrupt nature has become the sad inheritance of man, nevertheless found mercy, and will not perish everlastingly. Yet their sin had a special aggravation. They were made in the
image of God, with affections untainted, with a will unbiassed towards evil, yet they succumbed to temptation. Is it, notwithstanding, believed that they, the primal sources of human depravity, were still brought back to God, and does it not become antecedently probable that their descendants, the involuntary heritors, not the wilful procurers, of a fallen nature, shall ultimately be all recovered and restored ? And does not this presumption derive additional strength from the very titles of the Saviour as the Second Man,' the Last Adam'?
The force and bearing upon the argument of that Roan. «. 12–21. contrastive parallel, which St. Paul has drawn
between the effects of the First Adam's trespass and of the Last Adam's obedience, as co-extensive and commensurate, will hereafter be considered. But for the present, putting this out of sight, and keeping strictly to the a priori view of the case, I say that the name of itself suggests a probability that as in the one Federal head of the human race mankind was lost, in the other Federal Head it is to be saved. Out of these his titles alone,—the Son of Man, the Second Man, the Last Adam,—there arises a presumption that as in the Adam all die, so in the Christ shall all be made alive.
Whether, then, we contemplate the person and work of the Saviour, the purposes of his mission and his endowments for it, or whether we consider the condition and circumstances of those whom He became incarnate to save, the antecedent probabilities of the case seem all to point in the same direction, and to warrant one and the same presumption,—the complete triumph of Christ's king