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of this term, about the meaning of which there could be no dispute? But my opponent cannot show, in one single instance, this word in connexion with punishmentor misery. Judge, then, for yourselves, how well he has succeeded in proving that the punishment of the wicked will have no end.”
BETWEEN THE AUTHOR AND A BAPTIST MINISTER, ON THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT.
From the Author to the Baptist Minister.
When I glance over the first fifty pages of your publication on the universality of the atonement,—when I think of the many delightful and edifying discourses I have heard from your lips on the way of salvation, and the love of God to perishing sinners, I am filled with grief and astonishment at the awful fulminations which have, of late, occupied so much of your discourses, and on which you really appear to dwell with peculiar delight. I freely admit, that you should "not shun to declare the whole counsel of God." And that he will punish the wicked, it is your duty to declare, on all proper occasions. But it is the Gospel, chiefly, that you are called on to proclaim to your audience. Now, in your sermons, these two last Sabbath evenings, we have not heard one word of gospel, (last uightespecially), excepting a sentence or two, at the end. I think I never saw a man more in his element than you appeared to be, these two evenings, when you were dealing out eternal torments, with such an unsparing hand as never did the most rigid calvinist, in my hearing! Not satisfied with an ordinary view of the torment expressed in your text, under the figure of "the worm which dieth not, and the fire that never shall be quenched" you went on to say—that, "as figures generally fell short of the reality, so it is likely that the torment will far exceed that of material fire," which fire you depicted in the most awful colours your fertile imagination was capable of. This was certainly as far as you possibly could go, and much farther than you were warranted to go, in order to heighten the torment; and, in order to lengthen it, you declared that the expression in your text, " every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt," was used to signify that the victim, by this process of salting, shall be "kept from putrefaction, destruction, decomposition, and annihilate n, under the operation of the fire." Horrible misanthropy! In page 65 of your pamphlet, when treating on the passage "depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," you say, "Is it possible that it should be necessary for me to prove that the rules of grammar, as well as the whole tenor of scripture, clearly evinces that not the persons, but the^re is here said to be prepared for the devil and his angels?" I would likewise say to you—Is it necessary that I'should tell you that the words of your text prove not the endless punishment of the persons, but the duration of the agents. It is the worm that is said never to die, and the fire that is said never to be quenched. And with regard to your assertion of such figures, in scripture, falling " short of the reality," I am surprised to hear one so conversant with the Bible, as you are, talking in this manner. Look at Jer. vii. 20, and xvii, 27.—Isaiah, chap. xxxiv.: also chap• lxvi., 24% (from which last your text is borrowed), and tell me if the events, in reality, (such as the ruin of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, and the expulsion of the Jews,—the desolating judgements which converted the denounced countriesinto abarren wilderness, &c.) tell me, I say, if any of these events, when accomplished, bore any proportion to the figures used in the threatenings? And be it remembered, thatthexe threatenings were uttered in the very words of your text, ami by "burning fire" "fire unquenchable," "burning pitch," and "brimstone," fire "not to be quenched night nor day, the smohe whereof was to go up for ever and ever," than which there are not to be found, in the Bible, terms, nor figures, more strong, in describing the punishment of the wicked, either in point of severity or duration. Yet all these calamities were temporary in point of duration; and though both sore and grievous, were as nothing, in reality, compared to the threatenings, as we learn from the history of the events.
And as to the horrible use you make of the salt:—I would turn your attention to the "covenant of salt" mentioned in Num. xviii. 19. and 2 Chron. xiii. 5. See also salt as a figure and symbol of healing, when used by Elisha, at the command of God, (2 Kings, ii. 21.), after which it is recorded, "Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters." Indeed, besides that of healing, Sec. I find salt used as a symbol, in various respects, in scripture, having always relation to some good towards mankind, but never with a view to perpetuate their torments, as you have the awful presumption to assert, and call on us to believe. You once told me that you were, at one time, almost a convert to the doctrine of universal redemption, and that you would not, even yet, speak against it with much firmness. Latterly, however, the torments pf hell, and the eternity of them, has become much your theme. I have referred particularly to last night. The Sabbath before that, you told us (which I noted down at the moment), "He therefore delights in the punishment of the unbelievers," in direct opposition to Ezek. xxxiii. 11.and the whole tenorof the gospel scriptures. And, one day, after telling us, in the words of scripture, that He willeth not the death of the wicked, you added, in your own anti-scriptural language, "but should they fail in obtaining salvation, He wills that they should perish eternally." Thus you make God to have two wills or double-minded, contrary to that passage,—" He is of one mind."
It is certainly a mistake, to think, that this mode of preaching is the way to bring sinners to God. And you cannot show me, either from the Epistles, or the Acts of the Apostles, that this was the mode of preaching in those days. From detached passages of scripture you may deduce such doctrine as you have lately dwelt so much upon, but from the scriptures, as a whole, you cannot. And I aver that such is neither the genuine spirit of the gospel, nor is it at all in the nature of christian philanthropy.
You told me, one day, that you objected to the doctrine of univer.. ».l redemption, on the following ground.— You cannot, you say, find out, from the scriptures, what discipline they are to undergo, who die in unbelief, in order to effect a reconciliation, or by what process they are to be restored. In reply, I beg leave to premise— that in all I have said, you have never seen me attempt to be wise above that which is written: I, therefore, honestly confess that I am no more able than you are, to describe the discipline, nor define the process by which sinners are to be restored. It is enough for you, and for me, to believe that it shall be so, if the Lord has said it. Permit me, here, to adopt your own language, (page 51), and say, "How unreasonable for one to presume to ask questions, to reason about consequences, to lay down premises, and draw conclusions, with a view to invalidate the most obvious part of the testimony of Jehovah, merely, because from his limited knowledge of divine things, he finds himself unable to reconcile it with other and less obvious parts of that testimony. It is our province to believe what God has testified, and not to reason about it." If, then, he has really said that he will repair the ruins of the fall,—nay, if he has said he will do more than heal the breach,—that "where sin abounded grace did (or shall) much more abound,"—if he has said that "he gave his life a ransom for all," that "he tasted death for every man," that "he will gather together in one, or re-head, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth." And that he will, "through the blood of his cross, reconcile all things unto himself;"—if he has said, in short, that he will "restore all things,"—If, I say, he has declared aU this in plain language, and given us many other unequivocal declarations, in scripture, to the same purport, it is not for us, if we profess to believe the divine testimony, to withhold our assent, merely because we are not acquainted with all the means, or the process by which he is to accomplish his end and design. Are we to reject the most clear and obvious parts of his testimony, because• that other and less obvious parts do not correspond with our notions ?" Such conduct," to use your own words, (page 51), "would be infinitely less rational, than would be that of an illiterate idiot, were he to attempt a refutation of the Newtonian theory." Because there are millions of things which are seen every day, in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, of which we can neither describe the causes, uses, nor process of their formation, &c. &c ; we are not, on that account, warranted to deny the facts. Neither are we warranted to deny, or misbelieve "the restitution of all things which God bath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began," and declared by his apostles, in the plainest language, merely because we are not acquainted with all the means.by which the blessed end is to be accomplished. It is not for us, who are but the creatures of a day,—beings who cannot comprehend, fully, tlic nature of a• single object around us, to drag the Almighty to our bar—to arraign his government, and pretend to decide concerning "possibilities," his "decrees," bis "secret will," his " revealed will," &c. Our province is to believe his Word, to be humble, and to adore. Again ;—