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SERMON XX.

THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD UPON THE WICKED IN THIS LIFE INDICATIVE OF THEIR FUTURE RETRIBUTION.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to

hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the food upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judg. ment to be punished."—2 Peter, ii. 4.-9.

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MANKIND naturally desire to be happy, both in this life and that which is to come. Their

eyes and ears and hearts are al. ways open to those false teachers, who employ all their art and sophistry to persuade them that they shall escape future punishment, and enjoy complete and endless happiness. The apostle Peter found many in his day, who manifested a strong disposition to embrace the pleasing doctrine of such artful deceivers, whose character, and conduct, and pernicious sentiments, he reprobates in the strongest terms. Having mentioned the true prophets, in the last verse of the first chapter of his second epistle, he proceeds, in the ensuing chapter, to say, “ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves, swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” Now to prove that God would certainly destroy such deceivers and their followers, he argues in the following conclusive manner : “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly the Lord knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." This mode of reasoning from what God has done to what he will do, is plain and obvious to every capacity. Since God has actually inflicted temporal punishment upon impenitent sinners, who can help drawing the same inference from it, which the apostle has drawn, that God will reserve them unto the day of judgment, and then inflict an eternal punishment upon them. If we believe the Bible, we must believe that God has punished the fallen angels; that he has punished the inhabitants of the old world ; that he has punished the men of Sodom and Gomorrah; and that he has, from age to age, revealed his wrath from heaven against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And if we believe these plain, stubborn facts, we must believe the apostle's declaration, that they presage the future and eternal punishment of the finally impenitent. Accordingly, I propose in this dis

Ι course, to illustrate the apostle's argument:

That since God punishes the ungodly in this life; he will, if they remain ungodly, punish them eternally in the life to come.

The force and conclusiveness of this argument must appear to all, who will attentively and candidly attend to the following observations:

1. God's punishing sinners in this life shows that they deserve to be punished. Sin and guilt are inseparably connected. It is the nature of sin to deserve punishment. If sin did not deserve punishment, God would never punish men for it. It is wrong, in the nature of things, for God to punish an innocent creature, who has done nothing to deserve punishment. If sinners were not verily guilty in the sight of God, he would not be displeased with them, nor inflict the least pain or punishment upon them as a mark of his righteous displeasure. “He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Punishment is his strange work, which nothing can induce him to do, but the guilt and ill-desert of sin. So that his actually punishing sinners in this life affords infallible evidence that they deserve to be punished for their disaffection and disobedi. ence to him. But if they deserve to be punished for these sins in this life, they will deserve to be punished for them in the life to come. For punishment has no tendency to remove or even diminish the guilt and ill-desert of sin. Does the punishment inflicted upon the transgressor of human laws, take away

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or lessen their guilt or ill-desert ? Are they not as really guilty and ill-deserving after they have been punished, as they were before? And does the punishment which God inflicts upon sinners, have the least tendency to remove or diminish their guilt and ill-desert? Will any punishment they receive in this life render them less deserving of future and eternal punishment ? Has the punishment which the fallen angels have endured for nearly six thousand years, taken away their guilt, or rendered them less deserving of future and eternal punishment? Has the punishment, which the inhabitants of the old world, and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah have suffered for more than four thousand years, destroyed or diminished their guilt, or rendered them less deserving of the vengeance of eternal fire ? Did the punishment which God inflicted upon Pharaoh and his subjects, diminish their guilt, or render them less deserving of future and eternal misery? We cannot conceive that punishment in any case should remove the desert of punishment. Those who have once deserved punishment, will forever deserve punishment. But we know that the ungodly deserve punishment, because God has actually punished them in this life; which is an infallible evidence that they deserve to be punished forever. This being true, it serves to illustrate the apostle's argument. For, if God's punishing sinners in this world rendered them less deserving of future punishment, then his punishing them in this world would be an argument against his punishing them eternally after death. But if his punishing them in this life demonstrates that they deserve to be punished forever, then this very desert of eternal punishment, is a good reason, why they should expect to be punished forever.

2. God's actually punishing the ungodly in this world, shows that it is consistent with his goodness to punish them eternally in the world to come. God's actually punishing sinners, demonstrates that it is as consistent with his goodness to punish them, as with his justice; for we cannot suppose that he ever does an act of justice which is not consistent with his good.

God never exercises one perfection of his nature in opposition to another. He never exercises his goodness in opposition to his justice, and he never exercises his justice in opposition to his goodness. God's actually punishing sinners, therefore, as fully proves that it is consistent with his goodness to punish them, as with his justice. If his dooming the rebel angels to endless punishment, proves that he was just in doing it, it equally proves that such an act of justice was consistent with his goodness. If his drowning the old world, and burning

ness.

Sodom and Gomorrah, proves that he was just in doing it; it equally proves that such an act of justice was consistent with his goodness. Or if his punishing sinners, in any instance, proves that he is just in punishing them, it equally proves that it is consistent with his goodness to punish them. If it be consistent with divine justice to punish sinners according to their desert; then it is equally consistent with divine goodness to punish them according to their desert. And if it be consistent with divine justice to punish sinners as long as they deserve to be punished; then it is consistent with divine goodness, to punish them as long as they deserve to be punished. And if sinners deserve to be punished forever ; then it is consistent with both divine justice and divine goodness to punish them forever. We have no ground to suppose, that it is any less consistent with the goodness of God, to punish sinners as long and as much as they deserve to be punished, than it is consistent with his justice. And since we know from God's actually punishing sinners in this life, that it is consistent with both his justice and goodness to punish them in this life, according to their deserts; we may justly and infallibly conclude, that it will be equally consistent with both his justice and goodness, to punish them according to their deserts in the life to come. It is impossible to see why it should be any more inconsistent with the goodness of God, to punish sinners according to their desert, in another world, than in this. And since God does actually punish sinners in this world, because they deserve it, who will presume to say, it is not consistent with his goodness to punish them as he does punish them? And who that acknowledges, that it is consistent with his goodness to punish them here, will presume to say, it is inconsistent with his goodness to punish them hereafter according to their deserts ? It is strange, therefore, that any who acknowledge the justice of God in punishing sinners according to their desert, should presume to deny that it is consistent with his goodness, to punish them according to their desert, either in this life, or in that which is to come.

3. God's actually punishing sinners in this world, shows that he may have as good reasons for punishing them in another world, as in this. God does not always punish sinners when he sees that they deserve to be punished, but only when

, he sees good reasons for punishing them. The world of the ungodly long deserved to be punished before God saw best to sweep them from the earth with the besom of destruction. Pharaoh deserved to be destroyed long before God destroyed him. The seven nations of Canaan deserved to be cut off, long

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before God cut them off. Indeed, God is not obliged, in point of justice, to punish sinners at all, in this probationary state. And he never does punish them merely because it is just to punish them; but only when he sees good reasons to punish them, or some good ends to be answered by it. In all instances in which God has actually punished sinners in this world, we know that he has seen good reasons for punishing them. Now if God has seen good reasons for punishing sinners in this world, we may justly conclude that he may see as good and better reasons for punishing them in another world. One reason why God punishes sinners in this world, is to display his wrath towards them; and another reason is to display his mercy towards the subjects of his grace. And he may see both these reasons for punishing sinners in a future state. So the apostle concludes in the ninth chapter of Romans.

66 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?" The apostle here has particular reference to Pharaoh, whom God destroyed on purpose to display his wrath towards him, and the glory of his mercy towards his chosen people. And cannot God answer these two important ends, by punishing Pharaoh and all other impenitent sinners to all eternity ? Many seem to imagine, that God can see no good reason for punishing sinners forever; but it is easy to conceive, that the same reasons, which induced him to punish sinners for a time, should induce him to punish them forever. Why should he be more unwilling to show his wrath and make his power known in punishing the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, in another world, than in this? Or why should he be more unwilling to make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, in the world to come, than in the present world? But if we only suppose that God can see as good reasons for punishing the ungodly in a future state, as he actually sees for punishing them in this world ; then we must suppose, that he will certainly punish them in another world, as long as he can display his wrath towards them, and his mercy towards the vessels of mercy.

4. God's actually punishing sinners in this world, shows that it is consistent with the universal atonement of Christ, to punish them according to their desert, forever. It must be granted that Christ made atonement for the sins of the whole world, and tasted death for every man.

But his atonement did not alter the nature and ill-desert of sin, nor release the sinner

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