The Eschatology Of The New England Divines -- By: Frank Hugh Foster

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 043:170 (Apr 1886)
Article: The Eschatology Of The New England Divines
Author: Frank Hugh Foster


The Eschatology Of The New England Divines

Rev. Frank H. Foster

Having in the previous article1 presented a sketch of the work of Dr. Chauncy which called forth the reply of Dr. Edwards, we now proceed to the reply itself. We shall consider it, first, as an answer to Chauncy, and, second, as a contribution to theology.

I. The Reply to Chauncy.

This may be denominated a perfect specimen of unyielding logic. Edwards demands that Chauncy shall be held to the proper meaning of his words, and upon this basis he drives him into a multitude of contradictions. He does not thereby always arrive at results which Chauncy would have acknowledged as his own positions, but this serves only to reveal the more clearly, what it was his object to exhibit, the inner inconsistency of Chauncy’s scheme.

He begins by showing that what Dr. Chauncy expressly holds as to some of the wicked, he must hold of all; viz., that they suffer the full penalty of the law, and hence, when finally saved, are not forgiven, but simply liberated from further punishment. Justice is satisfied, and liberation follows in strict justice.2

But Dr. Chauncy also holds that the future punishment of the wicked is disciplinary. It is intended for their good. It is to make them the “willing and obedient subjects

of God.”3 But these two ideas are utterly inconsistent, if Dr. Chauncy holds to the distinction between retributive justice and discipline, as it is shown he does.

Again, Dr. Chauncy holds that all men, both believers, and those who are saved after suffering the punishments of hell, are saved by the mere mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ. But this idea is also inconsistent with the first view mentioned, since together they declare that God will of his abounding goodness grant to his creatures just so much relief from misery as they are entitled to in the strictest justice!4

An ordinary reasoner would have been content to stop here; but not Dr. Edwards. He proceeds now to show that Dr. Chauncy not only does, but must, hold these discordant ideas in order to maintain his scheme.5

The damned who suffer for ages of ages must be punished according to their deserts, or else there is some greater punishment threatened than this of ages of ages, which no ...

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