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Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,' (Phil. ii. 9, 11.) It is therefore impossible that the design of God in Christ's exaltation should be frustrated." (See sermon from Psal. xxii. 27, 28.)
The alwve is the language of Scripture, and the language of the Universalists. But, although it goes to establish the doctrine most expressly, of universal restoration, or a reheading of all things in Christ, yef this is not the drift of the worthy Author,—he is applying the whole of it to the extension of Christ's dominion on earth, by means of the spread of the gospel. But whether such expressions as the following, which he quotes, will apply simply to the spread of the gospel for a short period of time, over the earth, and not rather to a more universal reheading of all things in Christ, let christian candour, or even common sense alone decide.—" Heir of all things." —" Allkindreds of the nations"—"All the families of the earth"— "Heir of the world,"—" I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory,''—" All flesh shall come and worship before me,"—" To destroy the kingdom of Satan," &c.— "All things are delivered unto me of my Father,"—" Given all things into his hand,"—" Every knee shall bow of things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth"—" For in that he put all things in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him." "So that," as the Author justly remarks, "it must, be understood In The Largest Sense." And as he also remarks, "there are a great many promises, to the.same purpose, which are expressed in terms Equally Universal." These expressions, coming from the lips of a Calvinistic Minister may pass, and be borne with. But, did the very same expressions come from a Universalist, hiany arguments would be raised to do away with their force and meaning.
This shows that people, when using the plain language of scripture, without colouring or comment, will, sometimes, be betrayed into these very principles which they would not dare openly to countenance. This universality, and these All things, All kindreds, All families, All flesh, &c. cannot possibly be confined to any millennium, or to any limited period of time to which we are to look forward.
If the promises and prophecies, above cited, have reference only to a temporary subjection of the nations to Christ, in this life, as the author has only in view, how poor and how limited is the salvation by Jesus Christ, compared to the victory obtained by the D evil over the creatures that God hath made!
Our Author admits, that " Though, in North America, the Gospel has been making considerable progress, there are other parts of the world, particularly in Asia, and Africa, where the Redeemer had once planted his standard, which are now either overspread with the delusions of Mahomed, or have reverted back to gross Paganism. "Computations," says he, " have been made of the proportion which the professors of christianity at this day bear to the rest of the inhabitants of the globe; some make them to be a sixth, and others a seventh part of mankind. What a vast disproportion is here! And if, from these, we were to select the innumerable multitudes of mere nominal professors, and baptized infidels, the disproportion would be vastly greater." If such then is the picture at present, when christianity, comparatively speaking, may be said to prosper in the world, what an awful picture is presented to us, by the history of man, since the creation! But how grand the picture, when we turn to the atonement, and can there view the whole of the human race as the redeemed family of God, and rejoice in the hope of his glory. Here we behold the redemption by Christ, "who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;"—we behold, I say, his redemption, not only glorious, but universal in its effects; cancelling and counteracting all the evils introduced by the fall—all the ravages that sin has made in our world ;—and, " that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,"—(Rom. v. 20).
With regard to the extent of Christ's death and atonement, the elect people of God are, in general, no less narrow-minded than his former elect people, the Jews of old were. They imagined that the blessings of the Messiah's Kingdom were to be confined to their nation, to the exclusion of all the world besides; and we see how difficult it was to reconcile the then handful of the Jews, to the extension of mercy to the nations of the Gentiles.—(Acts xi. 17.,xxii. 22).
The elect now, in the Christian era, are as inconsiderable among the nations of the earth, in regard to numbers, as the Jews then were. And although we are favoured with a much greater development of the extensive plans of grace, than they were, yet christians are, in the present day, no less prone to limit the grace of God, than the Jews of old were—to themselves exclusively. Nay, farther; among the different sects of professing christians, there may probably be found not a few, who, in the matter of redemption, look not beyond their own party. Is this like the benevolent spirit of the gospel?
The Jews had the express declaration of God, that the Messiah, or the seed promised to Abraham, should be for salvation to the Gentiles, (Isa. xi, 10., xlii. 1, 6., liv. 3., lx. 3.) Yet we see, that not only the Jews, as a nation or people, but even the Apostles themselves, after they had received the holy spirit, were sore pinched to admit and believe this in its full and proper extent. Such was the prejudice of the Jews, and the narrowness of their minds, that when St. Paul was Btating the manner of his conversion, and what Christ said to him, on that occasion, namely, "I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles," they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live." (Acts, xxii. 22.} And after that the Apostle Peter was constrained by a vision from God, to preach unto the Gentiles, " The apostles and brethren that were in Judea, contended with him, saying, "Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised," &c. "But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning." He minutely related the vision, and how that the spirit bade him go to the house of Cornelius, "nothing doubting." And even although his visit was by the divine command, and attended with evident manifestation of the grace and mercy of God to the Gentiles, to whom he had been preaching, it appears not only that he had gone among them with some reluctance, but was even afterwards somewhat ashamed of it; for he urges the vision from God in vindication of his conduct, and concludes thus, " Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I that I could withstand God?" (Acts xi. 17.)
Such, we see, were the prejudices of the Jews against granting salvation to the Gentiles; although they had the promise, that in the Messiah, the Gentiles, all nations, nay, "all the families of the earth should be blessed."—That he should "inherit all nations." —That " all people and nations should serve him," and many such declarations.—(Psal. lxxii. 17., lxxxii. 8.; Gen. xxviii. 14.; Dan. vii. 14.)
All who bear the name of Christian will be ready to admit that the Jews were very narrow and stinted in their minds, and fell far short of comprehending the nature and extent of the salvation by Christ, revealed in the scriptures. But why blame the Jews for their narrow-mindedness, when we, who are less excusable, manifest a similar spirit? We, in addition to their Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah, have him represented as "the Saviour of all men," (1 Tim. iv. 10.)—" the propitiation for the sins of the whole world," (1 John ii. 2.)—"the Saviour of the world," (1 John iv. 14)—of "all flesh,"— (Psal. lxv. 2; Isa. xlvi. 23.; Luke iii. 6.)—" the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world," (John i. 29.)—" that he gave his life a ransom for all," (Eph. i. 10.)—that " he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man," (Heb. ii. 9.) We have these, and many express declarations of the same kind,—and a thousand more of the same import, and all corroborated by that spirit of philanthropy which runs through every page. When we have these hundred passages in the Old, and these thousand in the New Testament, all pointing, in the plainest terms, to the universality of Christ's redemption; and when we find all these .so congenial to the genuine spirit of the Gospel, it is surely dishonouring to God to limit his salvation, as many do. Those passages, in Scripture, that may appear to wear a contrary aspect, can never warrant us, in opposition to the numberless passages, that are so expressly universal, to limit his atonement.to'the salvation only of the elect few, to the exclusion of the whole world besides.
Hear this then all ye who have been brought up in the belief of never-ending misery. I will tell you, in the language of Scripture, whether you will give heed to it or not, that it is indeed " good news" to guilty sinners,—it is "glad tidings of great joy to all people,"—it is, in short, the Gospel, that Jesus is "the Saviour of the world," even "the whole world,"—" that he gave his life a ransom for all." "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Whosoever they be that are comprehended in the all who have died m Adam, or whatever be the nature of the death here spoken of, or the evils introduced by the fall, into our world, it is evident that it is to be counteracted and succeeded by life. So " that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Shown to be more consonant to Scripture, and its effects on the mind of a believer, when contrasted with what is called Calvinism, or ArminiAxism. shown to be more Godlike, and decidedly preferable to either.
The great body of Christians throughout the world, may be divided into two classes, commonly denominated Calvinists, and Arminians. It is somewhat strange, that these two classes should bear with each other, in many things, and iu some degree recognise each other as brethren in Christ, and yet both will join in condemning the Universalis, who embraces all that is really tenable in the belief of both, and also what would reconcile them to each other, and to the scriptures of truth. The Arminian proves, frem Scripture, "that God is love—that he is good to all—that his tender mercy is over all his works—that he gave his Son for the world—that Christ died for the world, even the whole world—and that God will have all men to be saved."
The Calvinist proves, also from Scripture, "that God is without variableness or shadow of turning—that his love, like himself, alters not—that the death of Christ will be efficacious towards all for whom it was intended." The union of these Scripture principles is the final restoration of all men; and this is the belief of the Universalists, for which they are held up to reproach. The Calvinist believes there is an elect number for whom only Christ died; the Arminian, that Christ loved and died for all men: Yet both admit, the horrible idea, that by far the greater part shall perish eternally! Now, the Uuiversalist believes, what the Scriptures teach, that there is, and has been, in every age, an elect number, who are his peculiar people, and are the "first fruits" unto God of the great family of man, whom Christ died to redeem, (James i. 18.; Col. i. 14.) Thus he espouses what is amiable and Godlike in the belief of both parties, and rejects that only which they both admit with horror, and which neither of them can reconcile with the general tenor of the Scriptures, nor with the character of