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be unjust in condemning him for life to the prison of hell, and punishing with infinite woe sins committed against an infinite Majesty,-sins from which he should have been deterred by considerations of infinite force,-in short, sins in which he would have lived for ever, had not death interposed?
3. When a distemper rages with an immense vio lence, the remedy ought to have an immense force.But, dreadful as the threatenings of eternal punishments they prove not half dreadful enough to deter sinners from their iniquity. Therefore, it does not become us to complain that God's severity towards the impenitent is too great, when our conversation shews that it is too little to bring us to repentance and godly fear.
4. If a man breaks his leg by a fall, and obstinately refuses to have it set, in the nature of things he must feel the consequence of his obstinacy till he drops his lame body into the grave, but as a stubborn sinner cannot drop at death his immortal soul, which is his very self, he must, in the nature of things, bear the consequences of his stubbornness for ever.
5. God does not punish sinners who die impenitent, barely for the momentary acts of their past sins, but chiefly for the habit of them, which is eternal. As a wolf who hath no lambs to tear, remains a wolf, and may justly be chained or killed; so the rich glutton, who hath not a drop of water to cool his tongue,' remains a glutton, and is justly shut up in hell, which is nothing but the prison and death of an immortal soul.
6. Add to this that the sinful habits of the impenitent will eternally produce sinful acts of rage, revenge, malice, despair, and blasphemy; nor will any one say, that uninterrupted acts of sin do not deserve uninterrupted strokes of punishment; or that it is not highly agreeable, both to reason and justice, that the line of divine vengeance should extend as far as that of human insolence, that is, to all eternity.
7. Lastly. If you consider the inflexible Justice of
God, as seizing upon the holy Jesus, whose purity, majesty, and power were infinite; and remember how it forced a bloody sweat from all his pores, the most amazing complaints from his lips, and at last his very breath from his tortured body, you will ask yourself, 'If these things are done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry?' (Luke xxiii. 31.) If stern Justice pursued the Prince of Life unto death, even the death of the cross,' what will it not do to a sinful worm, who not only rebelled all his life against the infinite Goodness, Holiness, and Majesty of his Creator, but trampled under foot, to the last, the free offers of infinite glory, to the last did despite to the Spirit of grace, and rejected, to the last, an interest in the infinite merits of the Redeemer's blood?
Par. You have so cleared my difficulties, and answered my objections, that I begin to think Reason is on your side, as well as Scripture,
Min.-As you are candid enough to acknowledge the impression that rational truths make on your mind, I beg you will be patient enough to consider one more argument in favour of the doctrine of our sinfulness, danger and misery, in a state of nature. I hope it will weigh so much the more with you because I have it from your own mouth. Did I not hear you, this very day, call Jesus, "SAVIOUR?" Can you deny it?
Par.-Deny it !-God forbid! Shall I be ashamed to confess that he came to die for us, and to save us from hell and everlasting - ?
Min.-Enough, Sir.-You have granted me more than I want to convince a man of sense. If Christ died for us, reason tells us that death is our desert.-If he came to save us from hell, it is plain that he saw us in a damnable state: Unless you will charge him with the unparalleled folly of coming from heaven to save, from their sins, people that were very good, and bleeding to death to save from hell people who were in no danger of going there.
Par. I never saw things in this light!-But now
that Christ hath died for us, all danger is over, the bitterness of eternal death is past.
Min.-Yes, for those who are savingly interested in his merit: And who these are, the Apostle tells us. 'They that are Christ's,' says he, 'have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts;' for 'if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.' (Gal. v. 24; 2 Cor. v. 17.) And these will readily acknowledge, that 'in them, [as considered out of Christ,] dwells no good thing, and that they are by nature children of wrath even as others.' (Rom. vii. 18; Eph. ii. 3.) As for the rest of mankind, far from being out of danger, our Lord tells us himself, that the wrath of God abides on them, and that they are condemned already.' (John iii. 18, 36.)
Here the Parishioner, unable to stand his ground any longer on the field of Reason, attempted to make as honourable a retreat as he could: And that he might not seem to have lost the day, he erected a new battery against the doctrine of our corrupted and lost state, which introduced the fourth Part of the Dialogue.