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be the punishment, and hell will be found within them. The future punishment in which we believe, is no different in nature or kind, from what men experience in this world. And any person who is opposed to future punishment on this view of the subject, does, if he would confess it, feel equally opposed to all punishment in this world. It would seem that no reflecting person, who is friendly to virtue and morality, could oppose a future punishment of the nature I have mentioned. It has frequently been said by Christian writers, that if the unbelievers in revelation were men of real integrity, they could not possibly feel opposed to the moral precepts of the gospel. And it appears to me that the same remark will apply to the case before us.
If a man is friendly to the cause of virtue and holiness, and is impressed with a just sense of accountability to God, I cannot conceive what motive he can have in opposing a future retribution, properly understood.
Having stated the doctrine of future punishment, and shown that it is included in the idea of future, conscious existence, and is no different in its nature from punishment in this world, I will now call your attention to several considerations which lead the mind irresistibly to the thought of a future retribution.
1. An equitable retribution does not take place in this world. If this proposition can be established, a future retribution follows as a necessary consequence; for the Almighty declares that he will render to every man according to his works. There are many passages of scripture which teach us that a just and full retribution does not take place in this state. It was said to the rich man, who was in misery after death, “Remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but now he is conforted, and thou art tormented."* This text not only teaches
* Luke xvi. 25.
us that men are not fully rewarded in this world, but that a retribution does take place after death. This passage will be treated of at large in its proper place. We readily admit that sin is punished in this world, but because men are punished here in some degree, it does not follow that they are punished to the full extent of their deserts. What we shall attempt to maintain is, that a full and equitable retribution does not take place in this state. David was fully convinced of this. When he saw the prosperity of the wicked, his heart was grieved within him, because he could not reconcile the retribution which took place in this world, with the justice and equity of the divine Being. Speaking of the prosperity of the wicked, he says, “There are no bands in their death ; but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men ; neither are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain, violence covereth them as a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart can wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High? When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end."
Now although this description of the wicked will not hold good at all times, and in every situation, yet there are instances in which this is a just representation of the condition of the righteous and wicked. Look for example to the first ages of Christianity. The meek and humble followers of the Lamb, were persecuted beyond
re. They were exposed to every hardship, and called to suffer every agony which human nature could possibly feel, or the ingenuity of their persecutors could invent. But while these innocent Christians were thus enduring every torture, their cruel persecutors and murderers were enjoying peace and quietude, and revelling in sensual indulgences. To an age like this, the description of the Psalmist will apply. At such periods it is obvious to the eye of unbiassed reason, that an equal retribution does not take place in this world. St. Paul knew by sad experience that the gospel subjected him and his brethren to greater trials and difficulties, than those to which the enemies of Christianity were exposed. Reflecting upon this subject he says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable."* Now this passage rests upon the principle, that the gospel in that age subjected its possessors to greater sufferings than other men were called to experience.
* Ps. lxxiii. 4-17.
The apostle, it is true, was speaking not of a future punishment, but of a future existence. But in either case, the argument is precisely the same. The apostle's argument is this ;-If there is no future existence, then all men at death are in one and the same situation; they are precisely alike relative to happiness or misery; and we are of all men the most miserable, because we are called to encounter greater sufferings in this world than those who reject the gospel. And the same may be said if there be no future retribution. For if all men are happy after death, they are all in the same situation ; they are all alike as much as though they were all annibilated. Hence the apostle might say, If there be no future punishment, we are of all men the most miserable. The apostle's declaration, “we are of all men the most miserable,” is founded upon the principle, that his troubles in this world were greater than other men's. And whether he was treating upon future punishment or
* 1 Cor. xv. 19.
future existence, this principle remains the same. But probably it may be said that the apostle had greater consolations than other inen, as well as greater trials. To this we reply, however great the apostle's consola tions might have been, his sufferings were so weighty as to leave the balance of misery over happiness, in him than in the enemies of the gospel. If the apostle's consolations or enjoyinent kept pace with his sufferings, so as to leave him on the whole as happy as other men, he could not say with a shadow of propriety, or even truth, that he was the most miserable of all men, if the dead rise not. For if men do not exist after death, he could not be inore miserable than other men, unless he had a greater balance of misery over happiness in this world, than other men. So the apostle's declaration goes directly to show that he and his Christian brethren had more troubles in this world, than the persecutors of the gospel. This passage then proves incontrovertibly that a just retribution des not take place iu this world, and so conärms the account given by the Psalmist, that the wicked are sometimes prosperous in this world, even beyond the righteous.
Here then we have the testimony of David and Paul, that men are not fully recompensed in this state. But you will probably say that the Psalmist gave this representation, when he was ignorant, before he went into the sanctuary, and learned the truth. 'Tis true, that Da. vid's perplexity arose from his ignorance. He could not reconcile the enjoyment and prosperity of the wicked in this world, with the justice and equity of the Deity. But after he obtained information on the subject, these perplexities were all dispelled. David, when he was perplexed, was ignorant, it is true. But of what was he ignorant? Not of the prosperity of the wicked; for that he had already seen. Not of their quiet and enjoyment; for that he had witnessed. But he was
ignorant of their end. “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end." Here then was the additional knowledge which David received. He was not informed that his representation was false, or even exaggerated; but rather it was confirmed. But the knowledge which he acquired related to their end, that is, the state which awaited them after death., Your system requires that men be punished by the compunctions of conscience, day by day as they pass along. But it was not this which gave ease to the mind of the Psalmist; he understood that in the end they would be recompensed. To call that punishment which falls upon men day by day their end, is destroying the meaning of language, and making the scriptures mean what we please.
The whole book of Job goes to prove that men are not dealt with in this world according to their moral characters. Job, we are told, was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God, and eschewed evil ; in a word, that there was none like him in the earth.* Job then was a virtuous man ; he was unparalleled in goodness. But was his happiness on earth as much greater than other men's, as his character stood fairer ? No one will pretend this. No man ever experienced more severe trials. His fortune, his children, and all that he had, were torn from him. His friends proved false; his bodily and mental agonies were almost insupportable.
many trying and severe afflictions which befel the perfect and patient Job, teach us in the plainest manner that men are not always dealt with in this world according to their moral characters. While the righteous are groaning under many afflictions, the wicked are frequently prosperous and happy. Not only the case of Job, but the conversation between him and his friends, incontestably shows that God does not always deal with
Job, i. 8.