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our Lord, or his apostles, in describing future punishment? Yet we are assured, as the history of this country shows us, that nothing more was intended by all those expressions, than the desolating judgements by which it has been converted into a barren wilderness. When we see, then, that the above passages, whether in reference to the nature of punishment, or the duration of it, cannot be surpassed by any in the Bible; and when we see the true meaning of these passages made plain, by the events to which they referred, is it not daring to oppose the glorious doctrine of universal reconcilation, which is so clearly revealed in scripture, and in language which can admit of no misconstruction? But besides the above passages, in the Old Testament—in reference to punishment—we have others in the New Testament, and by the Saviour himself, to which I beg to crave attention.—The destruction of Jerusalem is described, by him, not only as a “great tribulation," but “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time: no—nor ever shall be.” This, of course, exceeds all the calamities above referred to; and justifies the adoption of still stronger language in describing it. And, indeed, he does use such language in describing it, that one would be apt to think that nothing less was meant than the general judgement, and the end of the world! But that he referred only to the calamitous events that were about to take place, is plain from such a passuge as the following,-‘‘Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." - Now—that all the calamities to which these passages refer, were very severe, will readily be granted; but no one who has read the history of them, will affirm that the event, when accomplished, bore any proportion to the threatenings.—Are we not, then, justified, in attaching a similar meaning to similar expressions, especially when we consider the great weight of scripture that we have upon that side, independently of the above passages? Let us then have recourse “to the law and the testimony,” and decide accordingly. “But,” says one, “I take the scriptures for my guide.” So, says the other: and their conclusions being different, each takes his high ground, nor thinks of reconciliation or concession—but of dominion and victory!—Permit me then to take my stand between them. Well, we have seen that, while one passage dooms the unbeliever to damnation, another represents God as the saviour of all flesh. One passage declares that “the wicked shall be turned into
hell, and all the nations that forget God;" another, and another, assures us, that they shall be redeemed from hell—that “all mations shall serve him;” and that “he shall inherit all nations.” One passage tells us that the Sodomites are “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire;” another declares—long after they were a people extinct, and known to be in hell—“I will bring again
the captivity of Sodom.” Well, then, let me ask,-have you
any way of reconciling these passages? You have not. “Why then are you so tenacious of the doctrine of endless damnation, and so hostile to the glorious doctrine of universal reconciliation; which, alone, can open up, and clear your way? Were those passages of a merciful, and those of a damnatory aspect, even balanced, throughout the scriptures, you might have some shadow of excuse for your awful dogma; but you must admit the cheering fact, that the passages which bear an aspect of mercy to mankind, as sinners, in general, are both more numerous, and more plain, than those of an opposite tendency, that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. What, then, is the conclusion we ought to draw from this? Why—if we saw those passages balanced, as it were, in even scale, we might, even in that case, be justified in giv
ing God the glory, by leaning to the side of merey, as respected his
dealings with mankind; but much more so, when we see pardon and mercy—which are styled his darling attributes—superabounding throughout the sacred volume. # But we may observe farther; there must be some way by which to reconcile those seemingly contradictory passages of scripture, or the scriptures must be chargeable with absurdity. Now, I have asked before, and I shall ask again,_Is there any possible way by which yon can reconcile them upon your scheme? There is not. If, then, under such circumstances, we can perceive, by comparing the language used in scripture, with the accomplishment of the events described by the said language (and this, as before noticed, is the true way to ascertain the meaning of the scriptures); if we can perceive, I say, that the Lord has, in all ages, attached a meaning to certain words and expressions, different from the meaning we are in the habit of of attaching to them—and if this is calculated to solve the difficulty, here the matter ought to rest, and every mouth to be shut before God. If it can be clearly seen from the result, that the punishments described by burning fire, fire unquenchable, burning pitch, and brimstone, not to be quenched night nor day, the smoke whereof was to go up for ever and ever, the vengeance of eternal fire, and all kinds of punishments, by whatever language described, were all of a limited and temporary nature, then we have a way to reconcile scripture with scripture, God with his attributes; and, which is not the least difficulty, to reconcile the Calvinist with the Arminian, and make all to harmonize together in the grand scheme of universal redemption. Now, when we have seen that there is but one, and only one way of reconciling those apparent difficulties that stand opposed to general redemption; and when we have seen, that this one and only way is obtained, by a strict adherence to the sense and meaning of the language of scripture, as illustrated and explained by the results; and if the result or accomplishment of a thing, be at all calculated to explain the meaning of the language that spoke of it beforehand (and who will dare to doubt this) then, I beseech you, candidly to yield. Thus you will have Scripture, Truth, Reason, Justice, Benevolence, Mercy, and all that is lovely and amiable upon your side,-see 1 John, chap. 4. Ponder on these things, all ye whose prejudiced minds have hitherto been bound up in the marrow scheme of partial redemption, and allow that the Lord, the Redeemer, may yet be faithful to his word and promises —allow that he may be that God of unbounded love and redemption, that he proclaims himself to be, to the human race;—allow that he may really be “the Saviour of the
for all"—that he “tasted death for every man,”—In short, admit, and believe the plain truth, that “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”— Allow all this, (no matter whether you call it universalism, or by any other name) and give the Saviour his due, nor grudge him the victory over his and our enemies, namely, sin, and death, and hell. I cannot, I dare not misbelieve those gracious declarations of scripture. For such a belief as this, and for the consequent sentiments of filial love towards God, and of benevolence and mercy towards our brethren, (on which are said to hang all the law and the prophets,)—we may be reproached with the term Universalist, or what people chuse. This is a matter of small moment with him
that “believeth on the Son of God, and hath the witness in himself,” h
(1 John v. 10.). It was by way of reproach, that the disciples were first called Christians. And to this day, the terms Methodist, Seceder, Quaker, Anabaptist, &c. are all given by way of reproach. It is not to names, but to things we should look.--"What is there in names? A Rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” Laying aside, therefore, all party names and distinctions, let TRUTH alone be the object of our search. On this basis only, I wish to rest the whole argument for, or against universal reconciliation. To the scriptures of truth I have amply appealed, and on this basis, I dread not all the thundering artillery of the most rigid of those termed Calvinists. * I beseech you, then, brethren, by the mercies of God—by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—that you abandon all your hard thoughts of the Almighty Father of our Spirits, and allow that he may really be that God of unbounded love and redemption that the Scriptures and the Universalists represent him to be. But before concluding this subject, let me notice what is considered a weighty objection to this doctrine, by the advocates of never-ending damnation. “Because,” say they, “the same word for everlasting, and eternal, is applied to the happiness of the righteous, as to the punishment of the wicked; therefore, the felicity of the one may come to an end as well as the misery of the other.” But, besides that the language employed, in reference to felicity, is very different from that employed in regard to misery, we find, that the life of those who are redeemed is always connected with the life of the Redeemer himself. Therefore, if the Redeemer, who is “God over all, and blessed for ever,” shall live in glory, so long as he shall endure, they shall endure also. He says (John xiv. 19.) “Because I live ye shall live also.” And St. Paul says (Rom. vi. 8.) “We believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him.” “We shall live with him by the power of God,” (2 Cor. xiii. 4.). Again,_* It is a faithful saying: For, if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him,” (2 Tim. ii. 11.) And the redeemed people are represented as “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,”—heirs of “his kingdom which cannot be moved.” Such passages as these, are sufficient to set the matter at rest; but, independently of all these, and although the terms everlasting, and eternal, were not even applied to the duration of bless at all,—we have enough to prove that it shall be without end.
We are told (1 Cor. xv. 54.) that “When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality then shall be brought to pass that which is written, death is swallowed up in victory." And, again;–“It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption,” &c. And St. Peter calls it “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” Now, if the life of Christ, as a pledge of theirs, and if the terms incorruptible, incorruption, immortality, &c. are not sufficient to establish the never-ending felicity of the redeemed, you will not find words in all our vocabulary that will be sufficient for that purpose.
Many other passages might be adduced which are paramount to all the everlastings, eternals, and for evers, such as the words of Jesus (John x. 28.), “they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” “Neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God,” (Luke xx. 36).
Since writing the above, I have seen a late Theological Discussion, in Philadelphia, from which I make the following quotation, from the speech of Mr. Kneeland:—
“My opponent tells you that he can prove the eternal punishment of the wicked, by the same expressions that we prove the eternal life of the saints. Neither is this true.—The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, speaks of the great High Priest, “who was made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life,” vii. 16. Where we have a Greek term araraXvros connected with life, and the life of the great High Priest of our profession, when he is contrasted with the everlasting atovtov priesthood, under the law—(for theirs was called an everlasting priesthood, Exod. xl. 15.). And, when the apostle contrasts their continuation with the life which is in our High Priest, even Christ, and through him given to us, he makes use of this word, which signifies, literally, indissoluble, indestructible.—Now I tell you, my hearers, and call upon my opponent to disprove the statement, if he can, that the Greek term here made use of, is no where connected with misery, death, or punishment, in all the Bible.
“Now, if Christ, his disciples and apostles intended to preach the doctrine of endless misery to their hearers, why did they not make use