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ON THE ANNIHILATION OF MORAL EVIL, CON
SIDERED SEPARATELY, AND IN CONNECTION
FROM THE GRAVE.
If Moral Evil shall be annihilated, the Resurrec
tion of the Human Body may be presumed to be
a necessary Effect. When we turn from those subjects, which have engrossed our thoughts in the preceding parts of this work to the annihilation of moral evil, and to those effects which must result therefrom, the mind is presented with a scene which is totally distinct, in its nature, from those which we have hitherto surveyed, and we enter upon a mode of argumentation which is entirely new.
In the foregoing parts we have seen the primeval state of inan, and we have contemplated the fatal effects which have resulted from the introduction of moral evil into the world. We have also seen, that had it not been for moral evil, death would have been unknown, together with those natural effects which follow upon the body, when in a state of
separation from the soul. And it is evident from those views which we have taken of the whole subject in general, and from those proofs which have been adduced in favour of the facts; that in what light soever death may be surveyed, it can only be considered as acting in subordination to moral evil. And therefore, moral evil must be considered by us, as the primary cause of all the degradation, which human nature in this probationary state of exile, is destined to undergo. That the human soul must survive the
is a truth which is generally admitted, and may be proved; it must therefore exist in a state of consciousness throughout eternity. The sensations, to which we must submit hereafter, must be either pleasant or painful; for, into no other forms can consciousness be resolved. This therefore brings immediately to our view a state of future punishments and rewards.
To investigate the nature of those punishments and rewards, which await the guilty and the righteous, when this life shall be lost and swallowed up in another; is remote froin my design. The evidences which must support these facts may be drawn from the nature and attributes of God, when considered in connexion with vice and virtue ; so that the moral attributes of the Deity co-operate with his innmutability, to ensure a state of retribution in another life. It will be sufficient for my present purpose, to pre- . sume that a state of felicity awaits the souls of the righteous, and from this ground will arise some im.
portant evidence, that all moral evil must be done away
from the human soul, before it can possibly inherit the kingdom of God.
There are few abstract truths, which will admit of more satisfactory evidence than this, that two natural extremes cannot possibly meet together. The terms themselves presume a situation, which never can be overcome; and even if it were allowed possible that a union could be accomplished, they would be no longer those extremes which are presumed by the supposition. In short, the feelings of human nature, are strong indications in favour of a future state; and the vices which go unpunished, and the virtues which gò unrewarded here, are powerful arguments to prove it sure.
The hopes and fears which inhabit the human bosom, plainly point to distinct abodes; and ensure those rewards and punishments, which are strictly analogous to virtue and vice, and to the total sum and aggregate nature of human actions here below.
Whatever the abstract nature of that happiness may be, which we hope to enjoy beyond the grave ; it is certain that it must be derived from God; his perfections being the only fountain of excellence to which all created beings must apply; for equally certain it is, that in him we live, and move, and have our being
And since God, from his exalted and immutable perfections can communicate that only, which is congenial to his nature, we cannot avoid concluding, that there must be an agreement between him who confers, and the object which receives the felicity conferred. For, since the felicity
which is conferred by God must be perfectly consistent with his nature; it can only find repose in that bosom which has received the impression of the divine image. Without this likeness, there can be no union; where there is no union, there can be no concord; and where there is no concord, there must be infelicity and woe.
But, since God is and must be necessarily devoid of all moral evil; and, since man in his present condition is under its influence and dominion ; the consequence is inevitable, that an agreement under these circumstances can have no existence. It must therefore follow, that either God or man must change in nature, before they can possibly meet together. For, certain it is, that those gratifications which are pleasing to man, in his present state, are such as God cannot possibly bestow, through the holiness and perfections of his nature ; while it is equally certain, that even the glories of heaven can communicate no felicity to man, through the corruptions and depravity which reign in the human heart. And hence the necessity of a radical change before man can derive felicity from God.
Now, since God is both immutable and perfect, it is evident that he can neither change, nor include moral evil in his nature; and, since heaven is a place of happiness, to which the souls of the righteous shall be admitted ; and since felicity, under existing circumstances, cannot be communicated; the inevitable consequence is, that man must undergo a change. As therefore moral evil is that, which has sunk man beneath his primitive rank in the scale of created excellency; separated him from God, and thereby rendered him unfit for that felicity which he hopes to enjoy hereafter; so, the removal of moral evil must restore him to his primitive dignity and native grandeur ; and render him meet to be a partaker of that felicity, which the Almighty will confer in a future world. Hence then the certainty of future rewards demonstrates the necessity and certainty, that, from those who are admitted to glory, all moral evil must be done away.
If man, under the influence of moral evil, with all his passions and propensities unsubdued, were to be admitted into heaven, even heaven itself could confer upon him no felicity.
“ The mind is its own place, and of itself
For, as an agreement between the giver of happiness, and the receiver of it, must be necessary in order to its pure enjoyment; a previous qualification must be admitted, and must be attained. But, as, the influence of moral evil, is, under this consideration, presumed to be retained, no such qualification can be possessed; and consequently, no felicity can be enjoyed. As therefore, felicity is to be communicated in that celestial region, the necessary qualification for its possession must be obtained ; and as this cannot be where moral evil holds dominion, the plain consequence is that moral evil must be