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When mankind are brought to believe, firmly and sincerely, that there is a reward for virtue this side of a located heaven, and a recompense for vice this side of a located hell, then virtue will reign triumphant, and a more powerful, thorough, and general reformation will take place than the world ever yet saw.
4. It has been objected that "This is the same doctrine that was held by the ancient Sadducees." We know the Sadducees believed in the doctrine of present rewards and punishments. In this we agree with them. But they also held that death was the last end of man. From this we dissent. We are not, therefore, Sadducees, because we happen to agree with them on the doctrine of rewards and punishments. We believe in the existence of one God. So does the objector; so did the Pharisees; so did the Sadducees. But is the objector a Universalist, Pharisee, or Sadducee, because he agrees with them in believing in one God? The Sadducees believed implicitly in the five books of Moses, and received them as a rule of faith and practice. They could not find the doctrine of future retribution in them; but they did find the doctrine of retribution in this life; hence they rejected the former, and embraced the latter. And this is one of our reasons for doing the same. The Sadducees held other doctrines, which in a great degree nullified the influence of their views respecting rewards and punishments upon them; but, notwithstanding this, they were a much more moral, virtuous, and respectable sect than their neighbors the Pharisees, although the latter believed in the (supposed to be) purifying doctrine of future retribution. They never received half the censures, nor half the condemnatory denunciations, from Jesus Christ, that the Pharisees did. Jesus frequently spoke of the Pharisees as "hypocrites, whited sepulchres, serpents, generation of vipers," &c.; but he never bestowed these appellations upon the Sadducees. And although he warned his disciples to beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, yet we are not informed that the views of the Sadducees respecting rewards and punishments was the doctrine referred to. It is far more probable that it was their doctrine respecting a future state.
5. It is said "That there is no mercy in this system of rewards and punishments." No mercy in it! Is it so, then, that God cannot be just, and at the same time be merciful? If so, then to those who are punished God is not merciful, and to those who are
saved, he is not just. This impeaches both the justice and mercy of the divine Being. The highest exercise of mercy consists in withholding unnecessary or unjust punishment. Hence, God can punish his creatures all that justice requires, and at the same time be merciful to them. He can be both just and merciful at the same time. Cannot a parent chastise his children all they deserve, and do it in mercy? So can God. Hence the Psalmist says, "Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his works." Ps. 62: 12.
6. But it is also said "There is no grace in this system." "Mankind," it is said, "according to this system, are punished all they deserve; and, therefore, there is no room for the exercise of grace." Indeed! But are not these rewards and punishments limited? And is there not room enough for the exercise of grace after the dispensation of rewards and punishments has ceased? Cannot a father punish and reward his children all they merit, and, after they arrive to the age of twenty-one years, give them each a farm as an act of grace? And cannot God reward and punish his creatures all they merit in time, and in eternity bestow upon them immortality, as his gift to them through grace? Certainly, the fact of our having been justly dealt by in time gives us no claim on God for any benefits to be extended to us in another world. But we have shown it to be the doctrine of the Bible that "God will render to every man according to his works." If, therefore, the objector thinks there is no mercy nor grace in this theory, we leave him to settle the dispute with the Bible.
7. It is objected that "This theory gives no rational account of what, or in what, the punishment of sin consists." We think we have been sufficiently plain and definite on this subject; but, if the objector is not satisfied, we will now try to make ourselves understood. The nature of the punishment of sin depends altogether upon the nature of the sin committed. If it is a neglect of the physical laws, then it is a deprivation of the enjoyment which flows. from the exercise of the physical powers. If a violation of these laws, it is the physical pain and misery which is the necessary consequence. If it is a neglect of the intellectual laws, it is a deprivation of the pleasure derived from the exercise of these faculties; and, besides, the individual must be deplorably ignorant, and, in point of intellect, sink to a level with the brute creation. If a
violation of these laws, it is mental uneasiness and unhappiness, frequently terminating in partial derangement, or positive insanity. If it is a neglect of the moral laws, it is a deprivation of the happiness which results from the exercise of the moral powers. If a violation of these laws, it is the misery and unhappiness which fol low necessarily. If it is both a neglect and violation of either or all of these laws, then the punishment, as is seen, will be both nega tive and positive; a deprivation on the one hand, and positive suffering on the other. We trust the subject is now sufficiently plain, and if so, the objection we are considering falls to the ground. 8. Another objection is that, "According to this theory, much of the punishment, which is experienced by the guilty, consists in remorse of conscience.” Now," it is said, "it is well known that by a long-continued course of sin, conscience may become completely paralyzed and inactive, so that it ceases to reproach or sting the transgressor." Whether the conscience can ever become entirely dormant and inactive is very doubtful. If there are any eases of this kind, they must be exceedingly rare; and they form exceptions to the general rule. It is true, the Bible speaks of some whose consciences were "seared as with a hot iron;" but this does not prove that their consciences had become extinct, nor entirely inactive. That the conscience may become measurably dormant is undoubtedly true; but it must be recollected that if there is such a thing as remorse of conscience, there is such a thing as the pleasure derived from a conscience "void of offence." Conscience not only condemns us for our faults, but it approves us for our virtues. In proportion, therefore, as an individual becomes insensible to remorse of conscience, in that same proportion he becomes insensible to its approving smiles. Now, does he gain anything by this? Is he placed in any better circumstances? in circumstances more favorable to the enjoy ment of happiness? No. As the inward monitor speaks not to approve, so its warning voice speaks but feebly. In that case, the individual becomes more reckless and daring; less circumspect and cautious, and more bold in his crimes. Of course he is more easily detected, and more exposed to the penalties which are annexed to the laws and institutions which have been established by man. We ean imagine no deprivation which can be worse, nor no condition on earth which can be more deplorable, than for an individual to be
destitute of conscience. The fact, then, on which this objection is based forms no real objection to the theory we are advocating.
9. It may be objected that, "As a part of the punishment of sin consists in remorse of conscience, and as, according to Phrenology, some men have a large share of conscience, and others only a small degree, therefore, those who deserve the least punishment will receive the most, and those who deserve the most will receive the least." To this we reply:- If two men perform the same act, and one of them possesses a great share of conscience, he is guilty in a great degree; if the other has naturally only a small share of conscience, he is guilty only in a small degree. One, therefore, deserves a great degree of punishment, the other only a small degree. This objection, then, only proves that our theory of rewards and punishments is one of the strictest impartiality, equity, and justice.
10. It may be asked, "How does the self-murderer get his punishment?" Self-murder! We know of no such crime. Murder implies malice aforethought. But the Bible informs us that “no man ever yet hated his own flesh." The crime of self-murder is therefore impossible. We know that a certain declaration is often quoted to prove that there is such a crime, namely, "No self-mur derer shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” This declaration is supposed by some to be in the Bible; but it is not. There is no such passage in the book. The word self, and murder, or murderer, are nowhere connected in the whole Bible. By the "self-murderer," we presume the objector means the suicide. If, then, it be asked, "How does the suicide get his punishment?" we answer: The act of suicide is generally, if not always, committed by those who are of unsound mind, those who are acting under the influence of either partial or positive derangement. It is extremely doubtful whether any person of sane mind ever, coolly and deliberately, in the sober exercise of his judgment, put a period to his own existence. Those who commit the act of suicide under the influence of insanity are not responsible; hence, incur no guilt, and, consequently, no punishment. But, allowing some do commit this act in the exercise of their reason, what then? The whole difficulty in the mind of the objector may arise from a false view which he entertains respecting the object and mode of divine punishment. If you suppose divine punishment to be retaliatory, that is, that a cer
tain quantum of pain is inflicted on the transgressor, equal in amount to that which he has occasioned, or that he is made to experience a certain amount of evil equal to that which he has produced, or that he is made to suffer simply and solely because he has com mitted an evil act, - all this is a very great mistake. No. God punishes to reform and make better. His punishments are disciplinary, emendatory, and salutary. He does not, therefore, inflict pain upon the transgressor simply because an evil act has been committed, but in order that the crime may not be repeated. Again, if the objector supposes that God, in the administration of his moral government, is under the necessity of specially interfering and directly punishing his creatures, this is another very great mistake. No. God is under no necessity of guarding the interests of his law by penal enactments and penal sanctions. It is a law, as we have seen, which is founded in the nature and fitness of things, a law written in the constitution of man. very God's law, therefore, unlike all the laws ever instituted by man, does, by its own operation, absolutely secure the reward of virtue and the punishment of vice. God, to be sure, may, at certain times, and in certain cases, inflict direct punishment upon the violators of his law. But this is not his general mode of administration. As a general thing, we know of no penalty annexed to the law of God except the nat ural and necessary consequences which flow from its violation; nor any punishment for sin except the natural and necessary conse quences which flow from the practice of vice. How strong is the love of life! How instinctively man will cling to it, and shrink from death! How great must be the suffering, and how intense the agony, endured by that mind, which will prompt its possessor voluntarily cut the strong cord which binds him to earth! "But," you may say, "all this suffering and agony he has brought upon himself by his own voluntary sins." All this may be very true; and, if so, it is a proof that sin is punished in this life. Of the suicide, then, it may be said, that, by a course of sin and transgression, he has plunged himself into misery, until God uses his own hand as the instrument of his own destruction. He is cut off from life and all its endearments, and his career of wickedness has terminated in untimely death. It may be well to mention here that the Bible nowhere enumerates suicide among the catalogue of crimes, nor the suicide among the catalogue of criminals. We would not now wish to be understood as justifying the act of suicide. Very far from it.