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a God of impartiality, of love, and of mercy. Where then, ye brethren redeemed, is the mighty sin of the Universalist, in believing, in the fullest sense of the word, and without reservation, or equivocation, those Scriptures, which represent him as “the Saviour of the world,” and a thousand passages to the same purport?— Where is the sin in believing this, and where the evil in witholding his belief from that, at which you stumble, and which confessedly fills the mind with horror and revolt 2—Where is the evil of rejecting that which is confessedly dark, misanthropic, and untenable; and in believing those doctrines which shine throughout the Scriptures, clear as a sun beam, which are altogether amiable, and Godlike, and are calculated to fill the soul with love to God, and to all mankind? In short, where is the sin in believing, more fully than you do, THE Scriptures 2 Would we not think that christians would be afraid to revile one for such an unreserved belief as this, when it is written, “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues, that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life;” or, as it is in the original (on the margin), from the tree of life.
I find it is generally believed, both by Calvinists and Arminians, that our first parents, the very persons whose disobedience introduced sin and misery into our world, are among the saved. SIN must have been no less sinful in them, than in us their descendants, who are naturally polluted as a consequence of their guilt and rebellion. Nay, their sin, inasmuch as it entailed sin and misery upon all mankind, must have been of a dye infinitely deeper. If the free mercy of God shall, therefore, extend to the root of all evil, to those very persons to whom all human misery and woe owe their origin, how much more shall it not rather be extended to their more innocent descendants, who are only sinful, as a necessary consequence of their rebellion ? The answer of a friend, when I was lately talking on this subject, was, “if our first parents are saved, it is in consequence of their belief in the promised Messiah,”—granted: but is not this faith, or belief of theirs, also of God's sovereign grace and mercy? so that the question still recurs, if the grace and mercy of God rescue them from eternal misery, how can we imagime that the same grace and mercy should be withheld from any individual of their comparatively innocent progeny? “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Rom. ii. 11; Eph. vi. 9, ; Col. iii. 25.) But farther: Have we not reason to believe, upon Scripture ground, that even Herod, with his men of war, who set Jesus at nought,- that Pilate also who gave sentence against him, that the chief priests and rulers, and all those who voted for, consented to, or had any hand in crucifying the Redeemer, and Judas amongst the rest, shall, in due time, be saved by him 2 Yes, verily,–for he prayed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do;" and we know, that whatsoever he shall ask of the Father, shall be granted unto him. It is said of the Redeemer, while he tabernacled with us on earth, that “He went about doing good,” (Acts x. 38.) He healed all that applied to him, of their temporal diseases. Such was his compassion that he even wept over Jerusalem, when foretelling the temporal calamities that were to fall on the inhabitants of that devoted city. And shall he so commiserate the temporal evils of his creatures, whose final doom is to be his vengeful wrath, and endless torment P But farther: What was his character, and what were his doctrines, but that of benevolence and good will towards all mankind? In his doctrine he commanded us, as imitators of him, to love all men, even our enemies—to do good to all, as we have opportunity; and we are enjoined by him to forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven us. Thus we see that when we are called to universal love and benevolence, we are not called to practice a virtue, which is not to be found in God himself. Nay, the reverse is so expressly the truth, that it is only in proportion as every christian possesses these dispositions, that he is a partaker of the divine nature. The benevolent expansions of the mind of a christian, by which he would, if he could, secure the salvation and happiness of all mankind, are just an emanation from the Deity itself—“For every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Therefore, in loving, even our enemies—in blessing those who curse us—in doing good to those who hate us—yea, in loving, blessing, and doing good to all, both the evil and the good, we would only be imitating Him who “gave his life a ransom for all," and so prove ourselves “to be the children of our Father who is in Heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust.” And we are told, that could we so love, and bless, and do good to all, we would then be perfect, even as our Father, who is in heaven, is perfect. (Mat. v. 45–48.) Therefore, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for GoD Is Love.” (1 John iv. 7, 8.) It is much to be lamented that this doctrine of love, and of universal redemption,--a doctrine which appears so evidently to be of God, is not more universally believed by his elect or chosen people, for sure it would much increase their happiness and joy. And sure it is, that a belief in this benevolent doctrine, cannot possibly contaminate the mind of any christian. Nay, sure it is, that it would tend to promote that heavenly temper of mind, and cherish all those graces that adorn the christian character. If such then is the native influence and tendency of this doctrine (and who will for one moment soberly dispute it), this, of itself, speaks volumes in its favour, and ought (independeatly of the great mass of Scripture on its side), to have its due weight in determining whether the doctrine be of God, or not. For it is no less true of doctrines than of persons, that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” A corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit, neither can such pure desires proceed from a heart not under the influence of divine teaching. In proof that the doctrine is of God, I would only ask,+is there a real christian on earth, that would not rejoice in the salvation of every sinner of mankind? I can answer the question,-no. Whence then does this heavenly desire proceed? I hesitate not to pronounce it of divine origin. If so, and if the stream partake of the fountain, if this be a desire implanted by God himself, then it must issue in complete accomplishment. For “the Lord will fulfil the desire of them that fear him.” (Psalm cylv. 19.) The first breathings of universal love and philanthrophy, produced in the mind of every new-born child of God, are unquestionably the genuine streams that proceed from the heavenly fountain. To every christian, then, who can look back upon the days of his first love, and can recal to mind the first dawnings of those Godlike dispositions, I would put the following question.—Whether do you think, would a belief in the doctrine that I have been advocating, or in those doctrines and systems commonly taught and believed, be most likely to promote the unceasing flow of those heavenly streams? The answer is plain and obvious. Therefore, I conclude, that, laying aside the great mass of scripture in its favour, that doctrine which is so pre-eminently calculated to inspire the soul with love to God, and to the whole human race (which is represented in scripture as the whole duty of man), cannot be other than Divine. For, as there is no effect without a cause, that which has a divine and heavenly tendency, must be of divine origin also. Now, I confidently appeal to the conscience of every christian, whether I am supported in my conclusions or not, both by the express letter of the scriptures, and the genuine spirit of christianity; yea, and by their own approving minds. Whence, then, proceeds such opposition to the benevolent doctrine? Let the Lord himself answer the question,-"The prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests bear rule, and my people love to have it so." (Jer, v. 31.) The truth is, that the craftsmen of modern divinity “ have their living” by this means. Divest the clergy of their bug-bear of neverending misery, and they will lose more than half their importance. Of these wolves who should appear in the church, “not sparing the flock,” and of this their very doctrine (the parent of superstition and of the corruptions of christianity), we are distinctly foretold; (Acts xx. 29. ; 1 Tim. i. 1, 9,-11.) and so it is that, from the progression of anti-christian doctrines and principles, much of what now passes for orthodox, would have been termed heterodor by Christ and his apostles. Thus are we circumstanced in the present age of the church; and it naturally happens that men are much influenced by what are called “the commonly received opinions” of the times in which they live. It is very difficult to unshakle our minds from the prejudices in which we have been brought up: indeed, it will be found, upon an impartial inquiry (as I have mentioned elsewhere), that mankind, in general, are really more under the influence and dominion of prejudice, and false notions, than under the influence of reason, judgement, and truth! Had we, for instance, lived in those days when “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began.” (Acts iii. 21.; Luke i. 70.) I say, had we lived in the days of their preaching, or in the days of Christ and his apostles, who all taught that doctrine, we would not have had those prejudices to combat we now have. Nay, had we lived immediately subsequent to the time of the apostles, in the days of Origen, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian, all eminent men, in the first ages of the church, who held the doctrine, it is probable we would have had no such prejudices. Even in the time of Oomitian (bishop of Amyria), the doctrine of universal reconciliation, or “The restitution of all things,” appears to have been prevalent. For, speaking of those who, in his time, were advocates for endless punishment, he says, “they have rashly run out to anathematize the most glorious doctors of the church, on account of that doctrine (universal redemption) and this under pretext of denouncing Origen; but, thereby, anathematizing all the great men who were before him." Thus, it would appear, that all the great men, before his time, were Universalists.
To conclude:—When we see that the doctrine of universal reconciliation, gives more glory to the Redeemer, that it is more consonant to the general scope and spirit of the Scriptures, than
that of either the Calvinist, or Arminian, and that a belief in this
doctrine would tend to reconcile both parties;–when we see that this doctrine was taught by all God's holy prophets “which have been since the world began,” by Christ and his apostles, and by the most eminent christians, before that christianity became corrupted under the dominion of the clergy;-and when we consider the blessed effects of this doctrine on the mind, in promoting and cherishing all those fruits of the Spirit, and those heavenly graces which adorn the christian character—say, whether does this, or the commonly-received doctrine, claim our belief and regard 2 Augustine, who controverted this doctrine, even bore honourable testimony to those who held it. He says—“I must have to do with our merciful men, and dispute with them peaceably, who will not believe the eternity of future punishments.” He elsewhere styles them, by way of derision, “The merciful doctors,"—ablessed appellation indeed! And let those, who, in the present day, reject the glorious doctrine, admit this, at least, that if the Universalists are not, entitled to this appellation, no sect of christians on earth are: And let them also think on that expression of our Saviour, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” And remember that it is also said—“He shall have judgement, without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judge
ment." (James ii. 13.) G