“If it be alleged that a portion of misery is necessary in order to relish happiness; that, therefore, the miseries of the present life, upon the whole, are blessings; and that the miseries threatened in the life to come may be of the same nature, designed as a purgation, by means of which sinners will at length escape the second death;—it is replied. All the miseries of this world are not represented as blessings to the parties, nor even all the good things of it. The drowning of Pharaoh, for instance, is never described as a blessing to him ; and God declared that he had “cursed the blessings ” of the wicked priests, in the days of the prophet Malachi. “All things,” we are assured, ” work together for good ;” but this is confined “to those who love God, and are called according to his purpose.”
As to the life to come, if the miseries belonging to that state be merely temporary and purgative, there must be all along a mixture of love and mercy in them; whereas the language of Scripture is, “He that hath showed no mercy shall have judgment without mercy.”—”The wine of the wrath of God will be poured out without mixture.” Nay, such miseries must not only contain a mixture of love and mercy, but they themselves must be the effects and expressions of love; and then it will follow that the foregoing language of limitation and distinction (which is found indeed throughout the Bible) is of no account, and that blessings and cursings are the same things. Dr. Priestley himself speaks of “the laws of God as being guarded with awful sanctions;” and says, “that God will inflexibly punish all wilful and obstinate transgressors.” But how can that be called an awful sanction which only subjects a man to such misery as is necessary for his good? How, at least, can that be accounted incredible punishment in which the Divine Being all along aims at the sinner’s happiness? We might as well call the operation of a surgeon in amputating a mortified limb, in order to save the patient’s life, by the name of inflexible punishment, as those miseries which are intended for the good of the sinner. If that be their end, they are, strictly speaking, blessings, though blessings in disguise…”
Excerpt From “The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared”, 1802
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.