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concerned in fitting them for their final doom ; but they will be forever conscious, that they acted freely and voluntarily in all their wicked endeavours and selfish conduct, for which, they themselves being judges, they deserve eternal punishment. As neither the fore. knowledge, nor decree, nor agency of God, did prevent their ill desert in time, so neither the foreknowledge, nor decree, nor agency of God can remove their ill desert to all eternity. And just so long as their ill desert remains and they are conscious of it, their mouths will be stopped and they will feel that they have not the leası ground or reason to complain of being punished forever according to their deserts. If the foreknowledge, or decree, or agency of God ever did, or ever should remove their ill
desert, then indeed they would have good ground to complain of God for making them what they are and for punishing them for what they are.
But all sinners, whether they believe or disbelieve the foreknowledge, decrees and agency of God or not, know that they are really guilty ; and if they are really guilty, they deserve to be punished and God may justly punish them as long as they deserve to be punished. As they now know that they are guilty, so they always will know that they are guilty; and as they always will know that they are guilty, so they always will know that they have no ground or reason for complaining of God for punishing them forever according to their deserts. The prophet puts the question to every impenitent sinner, “What wilt thou say, when he shall punish thee ?” He will have nothing to say by way of complaint, any more than the man, that was cast into outer darkness for being destitute of a wedding garment, "he was speechless.'
2. If good men, for good reasons, desire God would punish the finally impenitent according to their deserts; then they are prepared to rejoice, when they shall see him display the glory of his justice in their future and eternal punishment. Though there may be something in a future state which shall prevent the righteous and the wicked from passing the one from the other ; yet
there is no reason to think, that they will not be mutual spectators of each others final condition. Though Christ, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, represents that there is an insurmountable bar of separation between Dives and Abraham and Lazarus ; yet he represents them as spectators of each others condition. Dives saw Abraham and Lazarus in their happy condition ; and they saw him in his state of torment. And it is said of the worshipper of the beast, that “he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” That is, in the view of Christ and the angels. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the righteous will forever see the displays of divine justice upon the vessels of wrath and cordially rejoice in God, while they behold the smoke of their torments ascending forever & ever. Though they will take no pleasure in the sin or misery of the damned ; yet they will take pleasure in seeing a holy and righteous God give unto his impenitent and incorrigible enemies a just recompense of reward. Do not good men rejoice in the displays of divine justice in this world ? Do they not rejoice, when their armies engage in a just war and slay thousands and thousands of their unjust and cruel enemies? Do they not approve of the appointment of days of tbanksgiving and spend them in public praise for the displays of divine justice in destroying those, whom they believe deserve to be destroyed ? Are they not then prepared to rejoice in far more bright displays of vindictive justice, in the future and eternal punishment of all the finally impenitent and incorrigible enemies of God and his kingdom? Their love to God and to the highest happiness of the universe cannot fail to prepare them to unite with all the heavenly hosts, in crying “Amen, Alleluia, while they see the smoke of their torments ascending forever and ever."
3. If good men desire God to punish the finally impenitent forever, for the reasons that have been mentioned ; then they will never have any just ground to reproach or complain of them, for feeling and expressing such a desire. Many are stumbled at the language of the inspired writers, who so often imprecate divine judgments upon the incorrigibly wicked ; and especially at the language of David in the text and in various other psalms. They seem to suppose, that such language breathes a malevolent spirit towards the enemies of God, which no man ought to feel, or express. Dr. Watts was of this opinion and accordingly omitted to versify some whole psalms. Expositors in general have supposed, that such imprecations are not to be understood literally. Some have supposed, that they are to be understood prophetically, and others that they are to be understood poetically. But there appears no difficulty in understanding them literally. They express the same spirit, that God feels towards incorrigible sinners, and the same spirit that he expresses in actually punishing them, according to their deserts. He feels no malevolence towards those, whom he punishes forever and takes no pleasure in the eternal death of the wicked, but he takes pleasure in doing justly, as well as in loving mercy.
And all his friends ought to take no pleasure in the misery of the damned, but they ought to take pleasure, in seeing God do justly, as well as in seeing him display mercy. The reasons we have given why good men desire God to puoish the finally impenitent, according to their deserts, were these three, first, their love of the attribute of divine justice, and secondly, their love to the glory of God, and thirdly, their sincere regard for the good of the universe. These are sound reasons, why pious and benevolent men should desire God to punish the finally impenitent forever ; and discover not the least malevolence towards the wicked ; who will never, therefore have the least ground to reproach them for their benevolent desire. I have heard it scoffingly said, that those, who expect and desire God should punish the finally impenitent forever, appear to hope, that they shall forever enjoy a malicious pleasure in seeing the misery of the damned. But this is a groundless and unjust reproach cast upon the truly pious and
benevolent. Though they will forever rejoice in the displays of divine justice, yet they will not rejoice in the effects of divine justice upon the wicked. Who can suppose, that Adam or Abel will rejoice in the misery of Cain? Who can suppose, that Aaron will rejoice in the misery of Nadab and Abihu? Who can suppose that David will rejoice in the misery of Absalom ? But those parents, with all their benevolence towards their offspring, will say, Amen, while they forever behold the tokens of their torments ; nor will their miserable offspring have the least reason to reproach or complain of their pious parents and friends for rejoicing in the displays of divine justice upon them. Scoffers in this world may reproach and blame God and his friends, for approving divine justice displayed towards the spirits in prison ; but whenever they come into the other world, they will be fully convinced, that they have no being to blame but themselves, for the miseries they endure, Indeed, all the objections, that were ever made or felt against the future fate of the finally impenitent, have arisen from a misapprehension, or misrepresentation of the nature and tendency of pure, universal, disinterested benevolence.
4. If good men desire God to punish the finally impenitent forever, then they have no more reason to disbelieve and oppose the doctrine of reprobation, than the doctrine of election. Though all good Calvinists believe and love the doctrine of election, yet many of them dislike and oppose the doctrine of reprobation. They love the doctrine of election, because it displays the sovereign grace of God towards the vessels of mercy; but dislike and oppose the doctrine of reprobation, because it displays the vindictive justice of God towards the vessels of wrath. But how can they consistently love the divine attribute of grace, while they hate the divine attribute of justice ? If they approve of God's conduct, in choosing some to eternal life and preparing them by his special grace for future and eternal happiness and finally putting them into posses
better than other men. They are ready to imagine tbat God will more readily pardon the sins of other men, but their own sins appear too great to be forgiven. They have thought and read, and heard more than the vain and stupid ; but they have done nothing but abuse the light and knowledge they have received, by which their guilt has been tenfold augmented. This is the distressing case of moral sinners under convictions, whether they have, or have not neglected the means of grace, or whether they have or have not professed to love religion. Sinners are generally stout hearted under awakenings, but when their conscience is wounded with a sense of guilt, they have more than they can bear and are constrained to stoop.
7. Since all guilt or ill desert consists in the evil affections of the heart, it is easy to see why good men have been so much borne down with the burden of sin. Job, David, and Paul, had a deep and habitual sense of their great criminality and guilt. The reason was, they had experienced keen convictions of conscience, before they were converted ; and this made their conscience always tender afterwards. You may have remarked it, that those, who have appeared to have the deepest conviction before they were converted, have generally appeared to have the most tender conscience, and to be the most afraid of stifling it, or acting against its dictates and remonstrances. And so long as good men keep their conscience alive, it will do its office, cause them to keep their heart with all diligence, condemn them for every deviation from the path of duty, and teach them to see, to feel, and lament their great moral imperfections in the sight of God. Good men are much more troubled with their hearts from day to day, than sinners are with their hearts. They see the nature and ill desert of sin, and feel that they deserve eternal death, though they hope to enjoy eternal life. They groan, being burdened, and cry with the apostle, “0 Wretched man that I ans ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ??' They judge and condemn themselves, and the divine