August 11, 2007

Thomas Manton (1620–1677) on the Justice of Eternal Torment

Object. 3. How can it stand with his justice to punish a temporary act with eternal torment or punishment?

Ans. 1. We are finite creatures, and so not fit judges of the nature of an offence against God; the lawgiver best knoweth the merit of sin, which is the transgression of the law. The majesty against which they sin is infinite; the authority of God is enough, and his will the highest reason. A jeweller best knoweth the price of a jewel, and an artist in a picture or sculpture can best judge of the errors of it.

2. With man, offences of a quick execution meet with a long punishment, and the continuance of the penalty in no case is to be measured with the continuance of the act of sin. Scelus non temporis magnitudine, sed iniquitatis magnitudine metiendum est. Because man sinneth as long as he can, he sinneth in ceterno suo (as Aquinas), therefore he is punished in aeterno Dei. We would live for ever to sin for ever, and because men despise an eternal happiness, therefore do they justly suffer eternal torment; and their obligations to God being infinite, their punishment ariseth according to the excess of their obligations.
Thomas Manton, “Sermons on Matthew XXV,” in The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, D.D. (London: James Nisbet, 1872), 10:81–82.


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