Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Talk no more, then, of that being a dangerous doctrine, which, though fraught with reconciliation, and mercy, to rebellious mankind, “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," yet, nevertheless, dooms the sinner to inevitable woe. When once you find universalists, or any one else, saying, that sin shall go unpunished,— that sinners shall be transported to heaven, with all their guilt and pollution about them, unrepented of, and themselves unreconciled to God, then, but not till then, say, that their doctrine is “dangerous,” or, that it leads to licentiousness. At all events, if it has a licentious tendency, you must charge God with it, and not the universalists, for it is the doctrine of the bible, upon which you pretend to have improved. According to your ideas, and upon that system called orthodox, it is not enough that we tell men of the unbounded love of God, and that we “say to the righteous, it shall be well with him,” and “woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands (or doings), shall be given him.”—No; this is not sufficient, in your eyes, to inspire them with love to God, and hatred of sin. It is, it would appear, too tame and pointless, to tell them, “the love of Christ constraineth us;” we must terrify them into the belief of the truth. We must tell them, you say, first,-That none can believe the truth, but those whom God hath chosen and elected from all etermity! and, second-that “it is the will of God that all who fail to obtain this election shall perish eternally,” and without remedy!! and, finally,–that “God knew, and determined, from the beginning, who were to be in heaven, and who in hell, to all eternity!!!” (see page 95). An amiable, and consistent doctrine, truly! I blush for those who can so dishonour God, as to attribute to him the daemoniacal procedure, of bringing the greater part of mankind into existence, for no other purpose than that of glorifying himself in their never-ending damnation.—I blush for myself also, when I think, that this orthodow doctrine, though it never “commended itself to my conscience, in the sight of God,” yet, that it should, at any time, have had the sanction of my lips, in common with others. Let those who thus represent God, never dare to condemn, or to speak of the cruelty and wickedness of a Nero: for there is no parallel between him and their God. Nero's momentary cruelty dwindles into mere insignificance—may, it is perfect harmlesness, compared to that which they ascribe to “the God of salvation,”—“the God of the spirits of all flesh.” T

There is another grand objection, which I find frequently urged against the doctrine of universal reconciliation, by the sticklers for the opposite doctrine, and which they deem quite conclusive. But, as I have already noticed this objection at considerable length, in the preceeding correspondence, I shall here be very brief:—it is this. “This doctrine,” say they, “is too palatable to wicked persons.” They will tell us, that such and such persons (naming them), all ungodly people, “were extolling it, as a liberal, and glorious doctrine; and that doctrine, or thing,” say they, “cannot be good, which such people can extol, and approve of.” But, if the doctrine be of God, as can be shown from his word, then, the objection may be repelled, in one sentence, thus, “Nay, but O man! who art thou that repliest against God?" The only question with us, should be this, Is it truth? If it be truth, it must be of God, and must be right. We have no right, I maintain, to cavil, or find fault, that mercy shall be extended to all, merely because it is not agreeable to our motions of the plan of grace. Our objection to the doctrine, if it can be shown to be a part of the divine testimony, is sinful ; and that it is so, I challenge the whole world to deny, without [both violating the scriptures, and the obvious spirit of christianity.

Now, let it be remembered, that for the truth of this doctrine we have “Thus saith The LoRD." I have produced numberless passages, both from the Old and New Testaments, which expressly declare, that Christ did die for the ungodly, and for all such. But I defy you to point out that chapter, or verse, in all the bible, that says, that Christ did not die to redeem such ungodly characters, or that he did not die for the world, even for the whole world. Which of us then, let me ask, has the scriptures most upon his side? Where, I ask, will you find it said, that Christ died for none but the elect only, or that he did not die for all?—But to return to the objection:—

You say, that such and such ungodly persons hail, with joy, the doctrine of universal redemption, and you object to it on that account. But this very thing that raises an objection, in your mind, is a matter of rejoicing with me. It is surely meet that sinmers should be glad and rejoice, to find, that redemption, instead of being limited, is “good-tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” These “ungodly people" do not rejoice, because they will escape punishment.—No ; they are not taught, by uni

versalists, at least, to believe this. They rejoice to find, that though God “will visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes, nevertheless his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail;"—that the Saviour “gave himself a ransom,” not for a few, but, “for all.” Why, then, should their “rejoicing in the truth,” be any cause of alarm or uneasiness to you? Surely their believing this truth, is not less likely to beget the love of God in their hearts, than the doctrine of never-ending torments. And, in proportion as the love of God is promoted, the love of sin will assuredly decay. But, again:—

I shall just notice one objection more, and have done. I have found persons, when so shut up by scripture, that they could hardly answer a word, who would say,+*Do you think all the christian world in the wrong till now? and are we all to be put right by a handful of universalists?" To this I answer;-all corruptions of christianity which have overrun the church, have crept in by degrees; and reform, generally begins by a few individuals only. Look at the reformation from those awful delusions of popery:did it not begin by a “handful” of persons, to use your expression? By the exertions of a few individual reformers, we have, under the divine goodness, now got rid of many of the superstitions and absurdities of priestcraft, which at one time it was reckoned blasphemy to oppose. And I have no doubt, from the rapid march of knowledge, that, ere long, the doctrine I am now combating, will be as little believed, as those other inventions of priestcraft, which we have now got rid of as abominations.—And I have no doubt, also, that, ere another century shall elapse, the then christian world will be acknowledging, with gratitude, their obligations to the “handful of universalists,” who, in the present day (and they are multiplying greatly), are exerting themselves in chasing the empire of darkness, just as we now acknowledge, and appreciate the exertions of the few reformers. This leaven, of God's unbounded love and redemption, is growing exceedingly,–especially in America, that land exempt from all national establishments of christianity, and from all clerical dominion and tyranny. This is the country where we may expect the unadulterated truth to triumph over the doctrimes and commandments of men.

It is, therefore, an objection of no weight, in the scale of truth, that because the clergy, in general, and the great bulk of the people,

think so and so, therefore, the “handful of universalists," who presume to think differently, must be wrong. So said they of old, of the few who then believed in Jesus, and asked—“Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people, who knoweth not the law, are cursed."—So have said, both rulers and clergy, and the bulk of the people, in all ages, whenever any few individuals dared but to hint at any kind of reform, either in church, or state—So said the great bulk of Europe, but a few centuries ago, when a handful of christians who had the boldness to think for themselves, dared to call in question the doctrines of transubstantiation,-of praying to departed saints,<the infallibility of the Pope, and many other abominations and absurdities. To conclude:—Notwithstanding all I have said, or rather what the scriptures have said of the gospel of reconciliation, as “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,"—let it ever be remembered, that the declaration runs thus—“He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not, shall be damned." . And, however clear, and however general may be those declarations of scripture, which point to a future reconciliation of all mankind to Christ, we are left in no doubt at all that the damnation threatened on account of sin, will be both certain, and awful, whether inflicted in this life, or in that which is to come. That is no light matter, we may learn from the appaling figures used in describing it, such as fire and brimstone,—weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, &c. And with regard to the duration of misery;-although we are assured, that these judgements will last no longer than they have accomplished the destruction, the burning, consuming, and purifying, for which they were intended; and, although we are assured, that death, and even hell itself, shall at last be subdued by the Redeemer, and “swallowed up in victory;" yet, we may also be assured, that these torments shall not be of a momentary nature, which are represented by the terms that so frequently refer to ages, such as eternal, everlasting, and for ever. Let no man, therefore, take encouragement, from the gospel, to go on in sin. For whether as regards the severity, or the duration of punishment, it shall be “according to the deeds done in the body,” and that they shall be “judged every man according to his works.” We are told, by the Saviour himself, that when be shall come ànd appoint sinners their “portion with unbelievers," that servant who knew his lord's will and did it not, shall be beaten with “many stripes;" while those who were less guilty, shall be beaten with “few stripes." [And here, by the bye, a question very naturally occurs; If endless misery is to be the portion of even the least sinner, in the state of woe (as is generally allowed), would such a never-ending existence in misery, be compared, by the Saviour, to only a few stripes;—would the temporal calamities, in the destruction of Jerusalem, draw tears from his eyes, and he represent their never-ending misery, by the term of a few stripes? —Impossible! But to return]. Although “he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,” be assured, ye who “make a mock at sin,” that “the wicked shall not be unpunished,” that “it is an evil thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God.” Truly, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God:” For, before “the times of the restitution of all things,” “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Therefore, I say, although we have seen, from scripture, that the Lord has repeatedly, and re-repeatedly, and again and again, pledged his word, his promises, and his very oath, that all shall be redeemed, reconciled, restored; yet, know assuredly, that those “who sin, that grace may abound, whose damnation is just,” it shall also be certain. For, “though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished. It is a fixed law, in nature (of course, with nature's God), that where the cause is laid, the effect must follow. And in nothing is cause and effect more inseparably connected than in sin and punishment. “He that doeth wrong, shall receive for the wrong that he hath done, and there is no respect of persons with God.” “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” (Rev. xxii.

12).

« AnteriorContinuar »