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be defended. He is fully in earnest to show that the eternal persistence of moral evil is and must be in irreconcilable contradiction with the true idea of God. The following extracts, taken, one from the portion preceding, the other from that following, the Biblical Argument, are samples of "the manner in which he discourses on this solemn and awful theme. Speaking of the argument for the necessity of endless penalty as a means to maintain confidence in the divine government he says:
"Must the eternal peace and happiness of all beings depend on the coeternal anguish of those who have begun to sin V Are the delights of Paradise and the 'fulness of joy' not sufficient to restrain the world from plunging into the abyss of annihilation? So far as human beings have lost confidence in God or creature, is it not more restored by the renewal of » single heart in the image of Christ, than by the supposed exposure of millions to eternal woe? How do earthly rulers restore the lost confidence of their subjects? Which is the stronger government — that in which the most dreadful punishments are inflicted, or that in which the mere-loss of place or favor is so dire that infliction is not needed? And must God forever afllict the guilty, that the innocent may learn to trust in him?" pp. 84, 85.
Here he assumes that, in a moral government rightly constructed and administered," the mere loss of place or favor," without any positive infliction of penal evil, should be a sufficient protection against sin and its consequences; an assumption which he can never establish, and which would be as conclusive against the actual government of God in the present world, as against the doctrine which he is combatting. Again he says:
"If man is created absolutely immortal, subject to the alternative of eternal happiness or eternal misery, he seems to have hardly a fair trial here; we should suppose that instead of being exposed to any dangerous temptations, the heavenly Father would have furnished every motive to virtue, and would have allowed no motive to sin; and we need not wonder if such fair trial for so fearful an alternative is sought in some prcexistent state." p. 240.
Here he assumes, again, that a moral government administered by law over free beings may be so constructed as to exclude all "dangerous temptations," and furnish "every motive to virtue," while it allows " no motive to sin." Whoever discourses in this manner concerning God's moral government is certainly talking quite at random, understanding not what he says, nor whereof he affirms.
With such foregone conclusions he comes to the examination of the scriptural argument. Now to deny the success of this or that particular attempt to defend the doctrine of eternal punishment upon the ground of human reason and philosophy, is one thing; but to affirm explicitly, or assume implicitly, that it is absolutely irreconcilable with the divine attributes, and therefore cannot be true, is quite another thing. We are very ready to admit that many unsatisfactory theories of reconciliation have been proposed. If one chooses to maintain that no adequate solution of the difficulty has yet been found, we shall not contend with him. But we shall remind him that this argument, drawn from the limitation of human faculties, is a two-edged sword cutting both ways. If, as he affirms, no one has yet shown, on the ground of human reason and philosophy, how the doctrine in question is consistent with the divine attributes, it is equally true that no one has ever shown or can show, on the same ground, that it is not consistent with them. The ultimate appeal, then, must be to the declarations of holy writ. Here alone our faith can find a firm restingplace. Inasmuch, however, as the main body of the work now under review is devoted to extra-scriptural arguments and considerations, it seems proper, before proceeding to the question of the biblical doctrine, to examine a few of his leading positions which belong to
The Philosophical Argument.
1. Dualism. True dualism is the doctrine of two opposite eternal principles, each self-existent, and therefore each independent of the other in its being and attributes. From the conflict between these arises to each a perpetual restraint and hindrance. Neither has power to do what it would, because of the opposing power of the other. It is not necessary to insist upon the obvious fact that this theory denies the very idea of a self-sufficient omnipotent God. The god of the dualist does simply as well as he can in contending forever against a coordinate nature wholly external to himself, of which he is not the author, and which, therefore, he can only resist without the ability to destroy or control. Such a necessity, imposed upon God from without in spite of his own free will, would be dualism. But a so-called "moral necessity," arising not from the defect of the divine attributes, but from their infinite fulness, however absolute it may be, is not dualism. This necessity the Scriptures boldly as-cribe to God. It is "impossible," say they, " for God to lie." The necessity of speaking the truth rests upon God absolutely and eternally. But it is the necessity of his infinite perfection. It is self-imposed, and therefore altogether free. Now precisely the same necessity rests upon God in respect to holiness and sin. In spite of our theories the latter exists under his moral government, as well as the former. It is "impossible" that he should not love and reward holiness. It is equally impossible fhat he should not hate and punish sin — and, for anything that our finite reason can determine, punish it eternally. There is no limitation to the divine power in the one case, any more than in the other. It is no eternal conflict with an unconquerable self-persistent power, but simply the treatment of sin as the infinite reason of God sees it right and good to treat it God's power to annihilate the wicked no sane man will deny. But this does not teach us what he will do. What he might have done, had he seen best, to prevent sin, or to bring sinners to repentance, we are not called upon to affirm. He has done that which his infinite perfections dictated. If the above plain distinction between a moral necessity, which has its ground in the very fulness of the divine perfections, and which leaves God free in the fullest sense of the term; and a natural necessity imposed upon him either from within by the limitation of his own attributes, or from without by a coordinate self-existent power (which implies, however, as has been shown, an inward limitation also)—if this plain
distinction be made, then the whole argument of the author from the supposed dualism involved in the doctrine of eternal punishment falls to the ground, at least so far as we have any concern with it.
2. Quantity and quality. A fallacy which runs through the present treatise is the substitution of the quantitative argument, where sound logic absolutely demanded the qualitative. For example, in answer to the argument that "jusTice is certainly good and salutary; and if the justice of eternal suffering can be made out, it should not be accounted an evil," he says:
"Is punished sin an evil V It is made up of three things — guilt, pain, and the justice which connects them. Now the guilt is certainly an evil in itself, and so is the pain; the justice is doubtless good, else it would not be just. But what is it good for? Punitive justice denotes simply this, — that guilt and pain are good for each other. The example of punishment may happen also to be good for other beings; but this is an added consideration, extrinsic, and can never create the justice itself. Rather the need of exemplary punishment, whether to restrain the vicious, or to encourage the virtuous, indicates just so much imperfection and evil." p. 27.
Now, waiving other errors (as they seem to us) in this statement, why say " exemplary punishment?" Is not the need of any punishment "just so much imperfection and evil," as really as the need of "exemplary punishment?" But this does not prevent some punishment from existing. How can he show that it will prevent " exemplary punishment?" He says again:
"Can sin and pain bo an eternal fact without an eternal necessity? If not necessary, then why actual? If it be said that man, absolutely immortal, shall sin forever, maugre God's efforts to change his sinful purpose, then he imposes an immortal necessity upon God; and this becomes an eternal necessity, in the eternal reason for such immortality." p. 28.
Waiving, again, other objections which we might make to this statement, if it be intended to represent the received views of the orthodox, we simply ask: How come sin and pain to exist at all ?" If not necessary why actual?" But they are actual. And if they can be actual without imposing upon God any necessity in the author's dualistic sense, then who shall undertake to say in what measure they may be actual? We might fill pages with quotations of passages where the same fallacy of quantity for quality prevails. He quotes from Whately the following passage:
"The main difficulty is not the amount of evil that exists, but the existence of any at all. Any, even the smallest portion of evil, is quite unaccountable, supposing the same amount of good can be obtained without that evil; and why it is not so attainable, is more than we are able to explain. And if there be some reason why we cannot understand, why a small amount of evil is unavoidable, there may be, for aught we know, the same reason for a greater amount. I will undertake to explain to any one the final condemnation of the wicked, if he will explain to me the existence of the wicked; — if he will explain why God does not cause all those to die in the cradle, of whom He foresees that when they grow up they will lead a sinful life. The thing cannot be explained; and it is better to rest satisfied with knowing as much as God has thought fit to teach us, than to try our strength against mysteries which will but deride our weakness." p.147.1
As this is a point of vital importance, we looked with no little interest for the author's answer. This extends over about five pages. Omitting that part of it which is occupied with reciting the opinions of others, the following is his train of argument. He first lays down the true principle that " the distinction of evil as much or little, lasting or fleeting, will be almost worthless if it can be derived from no principle. Evil is essentially that which ought not to beHow, then, can its actual temporary existence be wrong, and its eternal existence forbidden? This brings us to the question whether God permits evil? If so, how, or why ?"1 He comes to the conclusion that sin exists " by a permission that does not compromise the divine integrity; a permission not moral, and denoting God's complacence or sanction, but physical. God freely grants the power to perform what he earnestly deprecates, and absolutely forbids." s So far well. But after expanding at some length this idea of the divine permission of sin, he comes to the following extraordinary conclusion:
1 Quoted from Scripture Revelations on a Future State, Lecture VIII.