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prove that it is a creature of God; that it originated in goodness ;” and that it is desirable and indispensable. This is most literally calling “evil good,” and putting “ darkness for light." 12 "When God looked out upon the finished universe, and approved the work, sin had not entered. True, there was a moral law, and man had been constituted capable of disobedience. But that the disobedience was, therefore, designed, necessitated and approved, is a non sequitur. As fitly might it be argued that Fulton, in the application of steam-power to the propelling of vessels and machinery, designed and desired all the accident and death that have resulted from his invention.' He doubtless foresaw that such calamities might occur from human ignorance and negligence. The possibility of such results is inseparable from the confinement of the force that resides in steam. Yet he knew that such accidents could be avoided by care and skill on the part of those who might manage the machinery; and that a balance of good would result from steam navigation. Indeed, the very word accident precludes the idea of design and essentiality. Neither can the careless engineer plead, in justification, that Fulton was the primary cause of his own dereliction.

So man's moral freedom and accountability, without which he were not man, are inseparable from the possibility of disobedience. Sin is an accident, and not a law, but “the transgression of the law ;” and the sinner can not plead in palliation, that God has made him capable of sinning. Neither may we argue, because God overrules man's wrath and disobedience so that it shall work no final evil, that, therefore, sin is good. Good needs no overruling, but is beneficent in its own natural and immediate tendency: We may not imagine that God needs evil in the world, and that, by transgression, we are in the way of duty, and thus “ do evil that good may come.” 13 He has so arranged his moral laws, and so directs his providential forces, that there shall be no ultimate loss from the aggregate of happiness. The currents of evil are turned from their original and natural courses, and applied to good. It is a fixed and present law, that he who sins shall suffer ; nor will the suffering be mitigated by the false inference, that our sins help God in achieving final good. He has secured this consummation beyond all contingency, and requires us, for our welfare, and in reverence to his authority, to obey.

12 Lsa. y. 20

13 Rom. ii. 8.

It is an extreme to teach, as has been often taught in former time, that sin brings no punishment in the present life. We are always more forcibly impressed with what is near and sure, than with what is distant and uncertain ; and however hot and glowing may be the fires of retribution kindled in the future world, they are dimmed by distance, and cooled by the uncertainty. Those who have been educated in such views seem to recognize no law of present compensation, and are thus led to misinterpret the natural results of transgression, as mere casualties. There is thus an habitual blindness to the immediate consequences of disobedience; and occasionally, a “ fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation," ia in the future; but this distant evil is impressed only by some extraordinary fervid representation.

The natural tendency of this method is to produce a state of mingled recklessness and excitability. Indeed, the greatest profligates have been regarded by this school as the most hopeful subjects for conversion and salvation and often the most promising candidates for the ministry. The more the conscience is abused the more sensitive it is to the power of terror, and the more susceptible to that sudden and violent reaction which revivalists denominate conviction. It is difficult to alarm the innocent and placid mind; while the guilty conscience, with the moral nerves all stimulated and inflamed by sin, is rendered doubly excitable.

66 The wicked flee when no man pursueth ; but the righteous are bold as a lion.” 15 Hence the vile and reckless are often highly susceptible to all terrific influences.

A few years since, two distinguished statesmen died, the one as eminent for the purity of his private moral, as for his intellectual power; and the other, unfortunately, the reverse. The latter, it was said, sought and welcomed the offices of religion, in his last hours ; while the former repelled the obtrusion of an over-officious clergyman who seemed to covet the honor of preparing him for death, while he was occupied in taking leave of his friends. These facts, if facts they were, have been employed in the pulpit, in 14 Heb. x. 27.

15 Prov. xxviii. 1. VOL. XVIII.


eulogy of the Northern and disparagement of the Southern statesman. By a broader view of moral philosophy, and a full appreciation of the principle above illustrated, this conclusion might possibly be reversed.

No less unwarranted and practically unsafe is the idea, that sin leaves no consequences to be realized beyond the grave. This extreme is a modern reaction from the ancient dogma of no present retribution. One view limits to the present life all mercy and forgiveness; while the other circumscribes within the same small compass all justice and punishment. In either case, the bed is too short and the covering too narrow for the repose of a broad, far-reaching, and untrammelled mind. 16 There is no authority in Scripture, or the deductions of sound reason, for limiting the exercise of any of the divine attributes, either to this life or the future. While a large portion of the Christian world are repudiating the dogma of endless punishment, but a small part are adopting the opposite ultraism of no future retribution. The latter is principally limited to a fraction of a single sect; while the former is discarded by one whole denomination, by a majority of one or two others, and by a considerable number in nearly all orders in Christendom. The theory of no future discipline has been before the reading religious world for nearly half a century, and is losing ground, even in the denomination within which it originated.

Although, as heretofore promised, the response of the moral sense directly follows sin, when the conscience is in a healthy state, yet there are circumstances under which this immediate reaction would seem to be precluded. By frequent repetition, and long continuance of any particular sin, the conscience ceases to revolt from familiarity with the evil, as, by habitual use, some poisons cease to nauseate, and even become palatable. The falsehoods of trade, the cruelties of war, the affected earnestness and pathos of the lawyer in a wrong cause, and the duplicities of the politician, are illustrations in point. In cases of this kind, the judgment, as well as the conscience, sometimes becomes perverted. The individual has ceased to recognize correct moral principle as his rule of action.

16 Lsa, xxviii. 20.


Let us now suppose this conscience to be re-quickened, and the judgment re-enlightened by some influence in the present life. The memory runs back over these misdeeds, and the resuscitated conscience goes back with the memory. As the memory pauses at the commencement or templation of each sinful act, the conscience pauses, and forbids the deed. And as we repeat, in memory, the perpetration of the wrong, the conscience is pained with the remembered violation.

But this re-awakening of the conscience does not always come in the present life. The conscious approach of death usually produces it; but this effect is often obviated by the suddenness of the event. The hardened pirate may be seized, by mutiny, in his sleep, and laid to slumber in the coral chambers of the ocean, or pierced by a ball from the pursuing man-of-war, with blood and plunder in his heart. Reason, analogy, and Scripture, would seem to teach that, in such a case, the compunction would follow death, if memory survives, and conscience resumes its vitality. “He that doeth wrong shall suffer for the wrong which he hath done ;” 17 and if not in this life, in the future.

Perhaps it may be argued that, in the case supposed, death is the punishment. But this is only a physical evil, and the moral consequences of the sin. are still unrealized. . And beside, good men often suffer death in acts of duty, as in the extinguishment of a fire, in the saving a child from the flames, or a man from drowning. The legitimate penalty of sin, and that of which the Scriptures more generally treat, is moral suffering.

One argument urged against any future retribution is this: All sin, on the whole, is for the best. Though man means evil in the act, and though present, seeming evil may result, yet God will overrule it for future and private good, as in the case of Joseph's brethren selling him into Egypt. The sinner, seeing this in the future world, will feel no pain, but even rejoice in remembrance of his former sins. Now if a knowledge that our 'sins are overruled for good will prevent remorse for past sins, certainly a firm belief in such overruling will produce a similar result. Many of us believe, in the present life, in such a consummation. Does such belief prevent compunction for transgression ? If so, then this belief prevents all present punishment, save the mere physical results of sin. In this case, the doctrine must be immoral. And if such belief does not present such compunction, neither will a knowledge of the thing believed, and therefore this argument is groundless. It proves, or rather disproves, too much. If it disproves future, it also disproves present suffering for sin, by those who thus believe.

17 Col. iii. 25.

But a belief that God averts the tendency of evil, and transforms its results, does not relieve the violated conscience. Joseph's brethren saw, undoubtedly, that their transgression resulted, indirectly, in their preservation. Joseph said to them, “Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Yet this did not prevent the workings of conscience. After the death of their father, they asked pardon of Joseph anew. And though he re-assured them, saying, “ Fear not; ....

... ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,” le there can be little doubt that, to the day of their death, they felt, at times, the gnawings of remorse. It might be very plausibly argued that these dealers in human flesh suffered enough from famine, before they went to Egypt, to punish them for their sin. But the famine had no visible connection with their crime, and their righteous father and the innocent Benjamin suffered from this evil as deeply as themselves. The legitimate penalty for their sin was inward “tribulation and anguish, ,” 19 humiliation and remorse. Had they died of starvation on the way to Egypt, this would not have been a punishment for their guilt, nor any sequence of their unnatural conduct. Doubtless their souls would have been harrowed by the evil memory in the day of their famishment. But if not then, why not at a subsequent period? The pain of a violated conscience is a natural and philosophical effect, and must follow, immediately or remotely, as inevitably as the physical effects, a transgression of the material laws. He who indulges his appetites intemperately can not escape the bodily injury arising from this cause by a knowledge that he shall gain future wisdom from the expe

18 Gen. xlv. 5; 1. 19, 20,

19 Rom. ii. 9.

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