« AnteriorContinuar »
was settled by God himself, who knows all things, who of them were to be in heaven, and who would be in hell, to all eternity," (an excellent way of preaching, indeed, to convince and reclaim sinners). So you call yourself a General Baptist, and stand midway between the Calvinist and the Universalist. But why thus halve, or compromise the matter with God? You will find particular election most distinctly stated in scripture, and also universal redemption;—but where will you find what you call general redemption mentioned? It is not to be found in the bible. You object to the term particular, to the exclusion—(or reprobation, or, whatever you may call H), of all others,—so far we are agreed. But you also object to the term universal, very inconsistently, and substitute the compromising term, general* But whether the expressions "All men," "Every man," "All things," "Every creature," &c., &c, have a more general, or a universal signification, I shall let common language, with a very moderate portion of common sense decide.
Before I conclude, I have one request to make, and beg you will attend to it in the spirit of christian simplicity and godly sincerity, —It is this. If, in the perusal of this epistle, you may have felt your mind any way rising against the doctrine, or rather (for yon told me yon could like the doctrine), rising against the troths of scripture which I have adduced in support of it, (and which are but a sample of what I will give you in my next), I earnestly beseech you to read it patiently over again: And when you do so, have the fortitude to divest yourself of prejudice and think for yourself. Take the scriptures for "a lamp unto thy feet, and a light unto thy path," (Psl.cxix. 1006.) Harness yourself with thechristian armour, of nothing boasting until you put it off:—" let the spirit of Christ dwell in you," and take possession of your whole soul:—in short, shroud yourself in the spirit of genuine christianity, when you enter upon the subject, and I pledge myself you will neither write, nor speak, nor think as you have done. Let us remember the words of Jesus, "If ye continue in my leord, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
That the spirit of truth may guide us into all truth, is the earnest prayer of
Yours very sincerely.
Hettcr df ourtlj.
From the Author to the Baptist Minister.
A brief Survey of the Old Testament, tn reference to Universal Redemption, and showing that no kind of punishment can come from the hand of God, but in mercy to the. subjects of it.
In my last letter, I told you that on the ground of scripture testimony only, I would recognise you as an opponent, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." On this sure ground, I not only place myself, but will maintain my stand. But, upon this ground, you have not, and I aver that you cannot contend with me, except by detaching passages to suit your purpose. You may, however, even garble and select such passages, as you please, with a view to drive your point; if you will only confront me with these, instead of railery and abuse, I am quite prepared to meet you. And, in the meantime, as I promised to send you an host of scripture authority, in support of my sentiments on the universality of the atonement,—I now sit down to redeem that pledge. Although the scriptures, both of the Old and of the New Testament declare "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. 26.)—although they declare this, in such plain and general terms as ought for ever to silence you on that subject, yet, I shall not rest here; for I shall come to particulars, and refer you to the very words of the prophets themselves, individually. I shall show you that Moses, aud that Job, the two first penmen of the sacred scriptures, most distinctly taught this doctrine:—That David, that Isaiah, that Jeremiah, that Ezekiel, and Hosea, and Joel, and Amos, and Micah, and Nahum, and Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, and Zechariah, and Malachi, all pointed to a period of universal reconciliation; and, in short, that "all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." But I shall not even rest with the prophets; for I shall turn to the Evangelists, and Apostles on whom you particularly rely as the very founders of all our doctrines and institutions of Christianity, and show, that they also foretold this glorious consummation, for which "the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together, nntil now: because the creature itself, (or creation), also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God." —Nay, but I shall not stop here either; for I shall refer you to the plain and unequivocal declarations of the Saviour himself, <* wh» is the head over all things to his body the church," and surely, as I said, you cannot plead a higher authority. Now, if after all this authority, (which I pledge myself to give you), in favour of the doctrine, you are still determined to oppose it, permit me to caution you in the words of the Apostle, to take heed "lest haply ye be found even to fight against God," ( Acts v. 39).
Although all and every passage I may quote from the Prophets, and from the New Testament, may not have a direct reference to universal redemption, yet if I can show that this doctrine is clearly taught, throughout the Scriptures, then, by your rejecting it, you are not contending with me, but with the Prophets, and Apostles, and with the Saviour himself. And lest you should think me "as many which corrupt the word," (2 Cor. ii. 17.) and in order to prevent you, or any one else, from charging me with "handling the word of God deceitfully," or in any measure construing it to suit my purpose, I shall, in general, confine myself to a recitation of the scriptures chiefly, with little or no comment of my own.— It would greatly exceed my limits, were I to give you any thing Hke an epitome of their writings, on this subject; my aim is merely to show, by a brief glance at those writings, that they held and taught the doctrine I am contending for.—I shall therefore proceed.
MOSES evidently taught this doctrine from the mouth of the Lord. When the first intimation was given of the Messiah, there was no partial redemption, or partial victory over Satan, mentioned. The victory of the seed of the woman was to be complete: It was to bruise Satan's head. And in the third chapter of Genesis, verse 22, we have it, according to the true reading of the Hebrew, not in the debating manner, "Lest he put forth his hand," as in our common translation, but, "surely he shall put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life; yea he shall eat and live forever." Who? even Adam, and in him all who should be affected by his transgression. This you admitted to me to be the true translation of the passage, according to the first Hebraists.
Again;—-We are frequently told by tins Prophet, that in Abraham's seed, which is Christ, (Gal. iii. 16.) "all the nations,"—— and "all the kindreds,"—and "all the families of the earth, shall be blessed." (chap• xxviii. 14.—xii. 3.—xviii. 18.—xxii. 18.—xxvi. 4). Now, how can all and every nation, and people, and kindred, and family, be blessed in him, if the greater part of mankind (all those who die in unbelief) are to remain in hell to never-ending duration? How can the nations of Sodom, and Gommorrah, of Tyre, and Sidon, and others long extinct, be blessed in Christ, if they are not to be restored to blessedness? In what sense, I again ask, can these kindreds, and families, be said to be "blessed in Aim," whose doom is to be never-ending torments? But show me a man that does not belong to any nation, or kindred, or family upon earth, and I shall not dispute with you about his salvation. Let him be damned, if you please, through absolute eternity; he is not included in the promise made to Abraham.
In Leviticus, chapter xxv. we have a beautiful representation of the character and work of the Lord the Redeemer, in reference to universal redemption, as figured by the Jubilee, and the redeeming of servants. These, we are told, were "shadows of good things to come; but the body (substance or reality) is of Christ," (Col. ii. 17; Heb. x. 1). Again,—.in chapter xxiii. from verse 9. we have universal redemption pointed out by the figure of the "first fruits." Now, if all these figures, under the law, are, according to St. Paul, " shadows of good things to come," of which the substance is to be realized in Christ, in what other light can we view that of the first fruits (the elect) than as a pledge of the ingathering of the whole harvest of mankind? (compare with James i. 18; Romans viii. 19—24).
Again:—In Duteronomy, chapter xv. we have this doctrine beautifully prefigured, by the "year of releaser See this chapter throughout, full of benevolence and mercy, and all pointing to "good things to come." There are many other passages of the same aspect, in the writings of Moses, that might be mentioned, did time and limits permit; but I must proceed :—
In the book of JOB (which is as ancient as Moses, and by some supposed to have been written by him), the writer evidently points to a general restitution, where he says, (chapter xiv. 14.) "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come. Thou shah call, and I will answer thee; thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands."—» Are we not all the workmanship of his hands; and hath not one (iod made us all? In the case of Job, we hare a remarkable proof of the end and design, and the beneficial effects of chastisement. And, be it remembered, that these are not confined to Job, nor to any one who may be termed righteous. The cause of punishment is the same in all, namely sin. The effect is the same in all, namely, a purifying from sin; for we are told that "afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby," without distinction. As Job saith, (chapter xxxvi. vi.) "God is mighty, and despiseth not any. He preserveth not the life of the wicked." But it follows, (verse 8.) "If they be bound in fetters, and be holden in the cords of affliction, then he showeth them their work, and their transgressions, that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they returnfrom iniquity." And it follows, (verse 21.) "Take heed that thou regard not iniquity, for tfiis hast thou chosen rather than affliction," which would be more for thy profit. "Behold," says the Apostle James, on this subject, "we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the etui of the Lord (notice the expression) that the Lord is rery pitiful and of tender mercy." As all are the workmanship of his hands, as well as Job, and as "he is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over (or upon) all his works," therefore no punishment can come from God, but in tender mercy to the .subjects of it. If his nature is love, all his punishments, from the slightest chastisment, to the punishment of hell, must partake of his nature, and all prove dispensation of love. But if punishment is never to come to an end, it will be difficult to perceive the "love," and the "tender mercies " of God towards the subjects of it.
But DAVID was a universalistcomplete. Universal redemption appears to have been the darling theme of the Psalmist. In what other light is it possible to understand him, in the following beautiful strains. For while he says, in one passage, that " the wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God," he triumphantly exclaims, in others, "all nations whom thou hast made (of course those in hell) shall come and worship before thee." And regain, "Thou shah inherit all nations." "All the ends of die