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for the wide range of an excursive imagination. Perhaps, their reign of glory ended,—the saints shall then be turned adrift in the immeasurable regions of immensity, to colonize new planets; perhaps realize the supposition of Origen, fall again into sin, and be hurled into the fiery abyss;—perhaps, all the divine intentions respecting them being now accomplished, they may be totally annihilated, and consigned to the wide womb of uncreated night; or, perhaps, nobody knows what!!! When we get into this wild whirlpool of speculative opinions, there is no saying where we may end. We may doubt first one thing, then another, until we doubt of every thing worth believing, and at last believe nothing, but upon ocular demonstration. Thus, the greater part of the Universalists, are Arians and Socinians, or what is just the same thing, Deists. Time is too short, and etermity too near, to allow us leasure for such unedifying speculations; and you and I are rapidly approaching that period, when they will afford us no comfort. Nothing but the peace of God in the soul, will suit a dying pillow; and it behoves us, in the meantime, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. , Let us abstain from the discussion of subjects, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying; and let our propensity to curious inquiry be checked by the solemn admonition-" Go thy way, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”
To conclude:—That the work of Christ is amply sufficient to restore all men to holiness and happiness, I firmly believe; and that it is possible for an infinitely gracious God ultimately to do so, I am not sufficiently authorised to deny; but that he really will do so, I dare not for my soul assert. The words everlasting, and eternal, may have a limited sense in the divine purpose, even as the threatening regarding Nineveh certainly had; but with this I have nothing to do. As a minister of the gospel, I must tell the people, that the wicked shall be turned into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. If you think these hard sayings, which you cannot hear, I am sorry for it, and the more so, as I dare not prophecy to - you smoother things. That the Lord may have mercy on you and me, that we come not into that place of torment, is the earnest prayer of,
My Dear Sir, &c. &c.,
(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. o 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. me, no man shall stop me of this boasting," until he can show me scripture authority sufficient to overturn it:—But to return to your epistle.
In the first part of it, you say, “you have no pleasure in declaiming on the future misery of the ungodly, but it is your duty to warn them to flee from the wrath to come, and to do so in the language which God employs for that purpose.” Now, that you do not so in the language which God employs, I have sufficiently proved in my former letter, and frequently told you in private— On this awful and important subject, I have shown, that you made use of language both unscriptural, and unwarrantable; and this you have not yet contradicted. And in one of your sermons, even since I wrote that letter, not content with the plain declaration of scrip-. ture, “on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder,” you added, with emphasis, “shall grind him eternally to powder.” Such is your language, but not the language which God employs.
You say, I “seem horrified at the idea of God having pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.” This I am not ashamed to avow; and I have the very oath of Jehovah upon my side.—“As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” After such a plain declaration (and the whole tenor of scripture speaks the same language), how presumptuous in his creatures, to represent his character, in a light more suited to their own temper and dispositions. Whether you have pleasure in declaiming on future misery, or not, I shall not affirm, though one would naturally think so, from what I have already shown. But I do certainly affirm that to attribute pleasure to God in this, is derogatory to his honour, and at variance with his character, as portrayed in the sacred volume. It is repugnant to the best feelings of his sinful creatures, how much more to a God of infinite love and mercy. If a prospect of the temporal calamities, about to be inflicted upon the Jews, for their wickedness, drew tears from the eyes of the Saviour, when he “wept over Jerusalem," with what feelings of commiseration would he contemplate their eternal sufferings?— How does the conduct of Christ, on this occasion, comport with the dogmas of Calvin P. How does it quadrate with your declaration, that “the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, and must, of course, have pleasure in the punishment of the incorrigible,” whose temporal calamities alone, made the Saviour weep. That God, in
vindication of his justice, and his moral government of the world, must punish the wicked, I firmly believe; but in vindication of his mercy, and goodness, it is presumptuous to declare that punishment to be etermal, in the unlimited sense of the term.—We are not to assert one perfection, or attribute, of the Deity, at the 'eapense of
another. He is not only, righteous, to execute judgement against .
sin, but he is also “faithful and just to forgive sin.” A Nero, might have pleasure in witnessing the dying agonies of the victimsof his cruetly; a Cardinal Beaton might have pleasure in beholding, from his window, the martyrdom of Hamilton, and others; and the savages of North America, may dance round the stake, and feast their eyes with the torments under which their prisoners expire: But, bad as mankind are, I should hope, for the honour of humannature, that instances of such fiend-like dispositions (which you actually ascribe to Jehovah himself) are but rare. Few, even of the most hardened, would really have pleasure in the punishment of the most wicked criminal, much less “a wise and good Magistrate,” as you are pleased to assert, and infinitely less so, the great Jehovah, “whose tender mercies are over all his works." Think seriously on these things, and give God the glory that is due unto him, nor make him more vindictive, and cruel, than our sinful selves.— But on this favourite subject of yours, I shall dwell a little longer. Punishment, from the hand even of our corrupt rulers, is, I say, not vindictive, but for the good of the sufferers themselves, or of the community. Under no good government is punishment inflicted, merely for the sake of punishment, but with a view to reclaim, or improve mankind. This is the end of every wise and good government. And are we really to suppose, that punish-, ment, from the hand of God, is to flow from less benevolent intentions? Far be it from the Majesty of Heaven, by whom “kings rule, and princes decree justice." . . . . " ". , Whenever we read of God's wrath, vengeance, furious rebukes, judgements,firey indignation, fire and brimstone, hell fire, fire un-quenchable, &c., whether with respect to ages past, or to come, (for they are equally applied to both), we ought to consider, what.' are the end and design of all those sore evils." If we are to believe the scriptures, that God is a God of love, that he afflicts not willingly, but for our profit, (Heb. xii. 10.)... If we are to believe that whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives, does not this point out the end and design of
all the chastisements and judgements, expressed under those awful figures? No chastisements, whether denominated common affliction, or hell fire, or fire and brimstone, ever came, or can possibly come from a being whose very essence is Love, but with a gracious and merciful design. If his nature and essence is love, his actions must partake of his nature, and tend to the good of those upon whom they are exercised. Even the most awful judgements, then, inflicted upon rebellious men, are in tender mercy, and will issue in salvation. For, though no affliction for the present seemeth, joyous, but grievous, yet afterwards, it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby. All and every person are exercised thereby, less or more. And let it be remembered, that every affliction and chastisement they experience, is on account of sin; but notice the gracious results, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. All the evils, therefore, that can, and de come upon mankind, whether righteous or wicked persons, proceed from the same cause—sin. Sin is the procuring cause of suffering, in any man. But, according to the distinction commonly held between the elect and non-elect, one might say, if Christ died to atone for the sins of his elect, why should he visit them with punishment, on account of those sins already atoned for. But the scriptures assure us, that every sin, of every man, in the whole world, is atoned for, (1 John ii. 2.), so as to effect a reconciliation, and to secure to him, the heavenly inheritance.— Nevertheless, as cause and effectare inseperably connected, so shall punishment as assuredly follow transgression. This is a law, fixed and unalterable. “He that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, for there is no respect of persons with God.”—“Sin will not go unpunished." Sooner, or latter, that heart must bleed, that seeketh happiness in the ways of sin. Now, what is the end and design of the Almighty in all this? You will tell me that all his afflictions and chastisements, are in tender mercy, as respects his elect, or chosen people. But the procuring cause, (sin) being the same in both, the end, and the design, and the effect, must be the same in both also. God cannot punish sin in one person, for one end and design, and punish sin in another of his creatures, for another end-" are not my ways equal, saith the Lord.” From Adam we inherit the ends of corruption and natural death. This is the lot, even of the inconscious and innocent babe. But
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