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punish them not merely for some particular instances of their conduct towards him, but for all their conduct towards themselves and their fellow creatures. He is angry with the wicked every day and every moment, for being enemies to all righteous
And hence he is disposed to punish his enemies far more severely than sinners are to punish theirs.
3. God's hatred of his enemies is perfectly just, but sinners' hatred of their enemies is always unjust. They never hate them for what they ought to be hated, but only for the injury which they receive from them. They do not hate them for selfishness, which is the only thing for which they ought to be hated; and therefore their very hatred is selfish and wicked, for which they really deserve to be punished. And a sense of their own guilt in hating their enemies for what they approve in themselves, often checks and restrains them from punishing their enemies with severity, and in many cases, from punishing them at all. Instead of feeling that they ought to punish them in justice, they feel that it is wrong to punish them, which makes them more mild, lenient and forgiving. But God hates his enemies for nothing but what deserves to be hated, and what his real benevolence and love to holiness necessarily disposes him to
His hatred of his enemies is a holy hatred, and his disposition to punish them a holy disposition. He feels morally obliged, in justice, to express his hatred of them, by punishing them according to their deserts. It belongs to him to punish his enemies, and to punish them exactly according to the degrees of their guilt. His own glory as the Supreme Sovereign of the universe, requires him to punish them, and to punish them exactly according to their demerit. And he has clearly and solemnly declared his determination not to clear, but to condemn and punish the guilty. “ See now that I, even I am he; and there is no God with me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me." God feels himself infinitely bound, in point of justice, and in regard to his own glory, to manifest his perfect displeasure towards his enemies, by giving them the reward justly due to them for their sins. He is, therefore, infinitely more disposed to punish his enemies, than sinners are to punish their enemies; and he will actually punish them with unspeakably greater severity. Besides,
4. There is another reason why God is more disposed to punish his enemies, than sinners are to punish theirs; and that is, his regard to the good of the universe, which sinners totally disregard in punishing their enemies. They are disposed to punish their enemies for their own sake, and not for the good of others. They are disposed to punish, merely to gratify their own feelings, whether it tends to help or hurt any other person or being besides themselves. Yea, they are often disposed to punish their enemies, though they know it must and will hurt their friends. They have no regard to the general good in punishing, but will let the greatest public enemy pass with impunity, if their own personal interest or feelings do not require him to be punished. But God punishes his enemies, both to display his justice, and to promote the best interests of the whole intelligent creation. And his disposition to punish his enemies is equal to his disposition to do what is right and best. God loves the good of his creatures infinitely more than either saints or sinners love their own good ; and he is infinitely more disposed to promote the good of his creatures, than they are to promote their own good. Hence he is far more disposed to punish his and their enemies, who oppose his and their interests, than they are to punish such injurious and guilty creatures. Accordingly, he always measures the weight and duration of that punishment which he inflicts upon his enemies, according to the good to be answered by it. This appears from the whole course of his providence towards mankind, in every age, and in every part of the world. He punishes sinners in this world just as often and as much as the good of mankind in this world requires, and no more. When the good of the world requires it, he punishes individuals; and when the good of the world requires it, he punishes cities, or nations, or whole kingdoms, by wars, pestilence, earthquakes, and the most desolating judgments. When the general good required it, he drowned the old world, burned up Sodom and Gomorrah, plunged Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, buried Korah and his company in the earth, destroyed Babylon, Nineveh, and even Jerusalem the capital of his own people. Sinners in this world have never been disposed to punish their enemies so much as God has been disposed to punish his. Indeed, he has never suffered sinners to punish their enemies, only when he was far more disposed to punish them himself. He employs sinners to punish both his and their enemies. So that whenever they punish their enemies, he is the prime mover and agent in their punishment. Sinners have never desired, nor intended to inflict such severe punishments upon their enemies, as God has upon his. He has constantly been seeking the general good, and has been constantly disposed to punish and even destroy every person and people, which the general good required to be punished or destroyed. And the same benevolence of the Deity will for ever dispose him to punish bis enemies to as great a degree, and to as long a period, as the general good shall require. Though the disposition of sinners to punish their enemies may abate, and die, and even turn into compassion and tenderness, yet God's disposition to punish his enemies will never cease, nor abate, but remain as long as he remains perfectly holy, just and good, and they remain guilty and ill-deserving creatures. He has threatened to send them away into everlasting punishment; and what he has threatened, he is able and disposed to inflict, and none can deliver out of his hand.
1. If sinners are less disposed to punish their sinful enemies, than God is to punish his enemies, then their tender mercies are unholy and criminal. There is nothing upon which many gross sinners more value themselves than their tenderness and compassion towards the miserable and guilty. Indeed all sinners have more or less tenderness and sympathy towards miserable and sinful objects; and they consider their sympathetic feelings as really amiable and virtuous. But God says in his word, that their tender mercies are cruel. They are often very unwilling to punish those whom they ought to punish, and to see others punished who justly deserve to be punished. The tender mercies of parents often prevent them from punishing with the rod of correction their guilty children, whom they ought to punish. The tender mercies of executive officers often prevent them from informing against transgressors of good and wholesome laws, and from putting the laws into execution. The tender mercies of friends often prevent them from exposing one another to the punishment they know they deserve. And the tender mercies of enemies often prevent them from exposing those to punishment who justly deserve it, or to so great punishment as their conduct merits. This was true in respect to Saul. He was not willing to punish Agag so much as he deserved, and so much as God was disposed to punish him. Jehoshaphat had no disposition to punish the king of Israel, after he appeared friendly to him, though God eventually punished him severely. And there is no sinner in the world, who is willing that his greatest enemy should be punished eternally. But if God be not too much disposed to punish his enemies, then sinners are too little disposed to have them punished. Their tender mercies are selfish and cruel, and would destroy the highest good of the universe. Satan undoubtedly would, if he could, unbar the gates of destruction, and let himself and all the spirits in prison go free, rather than see himself and others reserved in chains to
everlasting darkness and despair. But is there any thing amiable and virtuous in his tender mercies? If not, then there is nothing amiable or virtuous in those who profess to desire and expect universal salvation. They do not hate sin as God hates it, and have not the same disposition to punish it that God has to punish it, according to its intrinsic demerit. Nothing but pure, disinterested benevolence can dispose any creature or being to inflict an eternal punishment for sin.
The reason is, no creature or being who is destitute of pure, disinterested benevolence, can hate sin for what it is in itself, or can be disposed to punish it any more or any longer than their interest requires it to be punished. All sinners are apt to think that God is altogether such an one as themselves, and as they are not disposed to punish their enemies for ever, that God is not disposed to punish his incorrigible enemies for ever.
2. If God is more disposed to punish his enemies than sinners are to punish theirs, then none can truly love God without loving his vindictive justice, or his disposition to punish the finally impenitent for ever. This is an essential attribute of his nature; and he can no more divest himself of it, than he can divest himself of any other essential attribute that he possesses. He has as plainly revealed his vindictive justice in his word, and as strikingly displayed it in his providence, as any one of his glorious perfections. He has said, “ Vengeance is mine; I will repay." He has revealed his wrath from heaven-against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And his vindictive justice is but a branch of his pure and disinterested benevolence. It is, therefore, impossible that any should sincerely love God, without loving his vindictive justice, or inflexible disposition to punish sin according to its desert
. I know that many imagine that the gospel has drawn a veil over his justice, and displays only his mercy to sinners. But this is so far from being true, that the justice of God shines more clearly in the face of Jesus Christ on the cross, than in the law at Mount Sinai. And that the justice of God might not be obscured by the gospel, Christ directed his apostles, and all his ministers through them, to go into all the world and proclaim:“ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." It must be owing to a misapprehension of the nature and design of Christ's sufferings and death on the cross, and to a misapprehension of the terms of the gospel, if any imagine that the gospel does not display the vindictive justice of God. It is impossible therefore, for any to approve and embrace the gospel understandingly, while they disapprove and hate the vindictive justice of God. The gospel may be, and often is so preached, as to lead sinners to think that they love a sin-forgiving, while
they hate a sin-punishing God. But this is a most dangerous delusion; for God is as much disposed to punish as to forgive sin. This all must know either in this world, or the next; and when those who imagine they love the mercy, while they hate the justice of God, discover this truth, it will destroy all their false love and awaken all their native enmity to God, which must be removed, or they will perish for ever.
3. If God be more disposed to punish his enemies, than sinners are to punish theirs, then his present conduct in punishing sinners is a strong evidence that he will punish the finally impenitent for ever. This is called an evil world, because so many evils and calamities abound in it. Many are the afflictions of the righteous as well as of the unrighteous. God punishes both saints and sinners in this life, and sometimes he punishes both severely. And he never punishes any who do not deserve it. And since he punishes men in this world because they deserve to be punished, it is rational to conclude that he will punish the impenitent in another world because they deserve it. The apostle Peter reasons in this manner : " For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner ap
Again this same apostle says, “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 deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” These passages are to be understood literally, in their plain and obvious sense, because they perfectly agree with the general current of scripture, and with the dictates of reason on this subject. There are the same reasons for God's punishing his incorrigible enemies in another world, as for punishing them in this; and there are the same reasons for his punishing them for ever, as for punishing them at all. One reason why God punishes men in ihis world is, because he hates sin in its own nature; and another reason is, because the punishment of sin tends to promote the good of mankind in this world. These two reasons will exist in their full force in another world, and require God to punish sin there, because he hates it, and to punish it for ever, because the punishment of