Page images
PDF
EPUB

ject ;

logical, and critical examination, this is the passage, and this is the argument. Well, now, to this argument I ob

1. That it overlooks the fact that moral agents are governed by the law of persuasion, and not by the law of physical force. God governs the physical universe by the law of physical force. The earth rolls around on its axis and performs its yearly circuit round the sun; the sun rises, shines, and sets, and all the planets move and fill the appointments of their Maker's will, by the law of physical force, and hence in their movements there is no moral action-no sin-no virtue. But when we enter the moral government of God, we find moral agents possessing the power of choice, governed not by physical force,but by persuasion. Here an infinite will of pleasure and infinite physical force may be resisted by the volitions of moral agents; and, as a matter of fact, clearly beyond all dispute the pleasurable will of God, despite of his infinite power, (which cannot consistently with the nature of his moral government be brought to bear upon the volitions of moral agents) is successfully resisted millions of times every hour. It is true God can, by an act of his infinite will arrest the progress sin. He

can, by a nod, blot the moral universe out of existence, and roll the waves of eternal oblivion over men and angels ; or he can strike down the freedom of the human will and control henceforth the actions and affections of man by instinct, or by the the physical omnipotence of his own will. But in the latter case, man would as truly cease to be a moral being as though he were annihilated. He would be governed by force, and hence would be neither blameworthy por praiseworthy. Let his acts be what they might, he himself would be neither righteous nor wicked. But,

2. I object to the Universalist argument drawn from 1 Tim. 2:1, because, as the logicians say, the argument proves too much, and therefore proves nothing. It proves, (1) That there never was any sin or misery in the universe. Let me illustrate. Carry yourself back to the

of

UNIVERSALLY

morning of the creation. The earth, sun, moon and stars are ushered into being and hung on the pinions of gravitation. God is about to crown and complete the great work by the creation of man. The angels of heaven and the sons of God, as they look down from the windows of heaven upon the sublime and august scene, begin, like modern Universalists to speculate upon the future, Say they to each other : The beings now to be created in the bright image of their Maker and crowned lords of this beautiful world, must be UNIFORMLY AND HOLY AND HAPPY; for God is infinitely good, and must therefore will their holiness and happiness. He is infinitely wise, and can therefore devise the means. He is infinitely powerful, and can therefore render the means uniformly and universally efficacious ; ergo, the earth will be a world of Universal bliss.' But' the brother's blood of the first murderer crying from the groumd to heaven for vengeance, would speedily unravel this sophistry and overturn the strongest pillar in the temple of their Universalism. (2) The argument upon which you so much depend will prove that all men are NOW holy and happy. "Let

US see.

men NOW.

God wills the holiness and consequent happiness of all

There is no better way of ascertaining the WILų of a Lawgiver than to consult his laws. The laws of God require all men to be holy-he now commands all men every where to repent.

This then is bis will. Well, he has infinite wisdom and can, therefore devise the means. He is infinitely powerful, and can, therefore give certain, uniform, and universal efficacy to these means ; ergo, all men are NOW holy and happy. Thus

you see your argument proves too much. It is therefore unsound. When carried out it contradicts the experience and observation of all men in every age of the world. “As a matter of fact, no man in his sober senses can deny that God's law is an expression of his WILL OF PLEASURE, and that wherever and whenever his laws are violated, there his will is successfully resisted. This is done

many millions of times every hour; and every instance in which moral agents have, during the history of our race, violated the will of God as expressed in his laws, may be regarded as so many unanswerable refutations of this specious and most sophistical argument in favor of Universalism. Is it not so ?

Yours as ever.

LETTER XIV.

My Dear Sir:

Having in my previous communications, shown the doetrine of modern Universalism to be unphilosophical ;-and having also examined the scriptural evidence, upon which you depend for the support of the system, and found it to be wanting," I now propose to turn over one more page of this controversy, and read up to you some portion of the direct scriptural testimony in favor of the doctrine of a judgment to come. But before I proceed to an examination of this testimony, I will make a few preliminary remarks, designed to prepare your mind for this investigation.

1. It may be well to remember, that is but one passage of the Word of God can be found, wbich by fair construction, expresses or necessarily implies the doctrine of future retribution, that doctrine is fully established; for the truthfulness of a sentiment does not depend upon the number of times it may be repeated; but upon the fact, that it is somewhere or in some way fully expressed or necessarily implied in the Scriptures. If we then can find one passage in all the Bible, which teaches the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, Universalism is a delusion.

2. In order to appreciate the Scriptural testimony on the subject of a judgment to come, we should-carefully inquire into, and duly consider the circumstances, under which Christ and his Apostles uttered their sentiments. On the subject of future retribution, what were the sentiments of their hearers? If Universalism is true, then Christ and his

Apostles were Universalists. They of course preached Universalism fully, freely, and clearly ; and, if honest, they must have made their hearers understand them upon this important point. Did their hearers so understand them? Did the Jews, Greeks, Romans, deny the doctrine of future retribution, and thus render it unnecessary for Christ to give them instruction on this point? No. This you will not pretend. The whole Jewish nation, with the exception of the small seet of Sadducees, as we learn from Josephus, fully believed in the doctrine of the future and eternal punishment of the wicked. This you will not pretend to deny. Not a single person of the whole nation, from aught that appears from their history, was ever known from the days of Abraham to Christ, to believe that all men would be saved. Now according to your system,Christ came into the world to preach Universalism; the people were all radically, fundamentally wrong on this subject. He was bound to set them right. To this he must have done as Universalist preachers now do, viz: exposed the delusions of the people on this point so fully and frequently, as to preclude the possibility of any honest mind being deceived. Did our Savior do this? 'When, where, on what occasion did Jesus attack the prevailing sentiment of the nation on the subject of a judgment to come, and preach Universalism so plainly as to be understood by his hearers? Had Christ taught the doctrine of no future punishment, it must, froin the nature of the case, have produced a great excitement, and his enemies would have accused him on this point, as they did on other subjects, of teaching a dangerous error.

Did they do this? Did his most malicious enemies ever accuse him of denying the doctrine of future accountability, or of inculcating Universalism in any form or manner? No, never.-Why not? Because so far from teaching this doctrine, Christ employed language adapted to impress upon the minds of his hearers still deeper the conviction that God would bring their works and every secret thing into judgment. He spoke to them of the unquenchable fire ;" the "undying worm," the "damnation of hell;” the day of

judgment,” and “everlasting punishment,"-expressions used by the Jewish Rabbins in reference to future punishment; and he left these and all similar expressions to fall upon

the ears, and sink down into the hearts of his hearers, without any reservations or qualifications. Let a Universalist preacher of our day, do this, and he would immediately be understood to have departed from the faith of the order.'

What is true of Christ in his labors among the Jews, is also true with regard to the Apostles in their labors among the Greeks and Romans. Whatever errors or superstitions may

have been cherished among them,on almost every question of theology, yet in relation to the question of the reality of future rewards and punishments, in some form, there was no dispute among any of the heathen nations of antiquity, except among a few of their atheistical philosophers. With this exception, upon the question of the reality of future rewards and punishments, there was but one opinion. All believed in a judgment to come. Well, now, if Paul and Peter, were Universalist preachers, we shall find them, like the Universalist ministers of our day, zealously assailing the commonly received doctrine of future punishment,and using their utmost endeavors to persuade their bearers that they will all inevitably be saved, whatever their characters may have been in this world. But let me ask, when ? where? on what occasion did these men denounce the doctrine of future accountability, as an 'old heathen notion? When, where, did their friends or foes, understand them to preach, that there would be no moral or spiritual distinctions in the world to come ? Did their enemies ever accuse them of advancing such a sentiment? No-never. On the contrary, we shall find in the course of this investigation, that they used language directly adapted to confirm in their opinion, that they would enjoy or suffer in eternity, the reward of their doings.

Let these considerations be borne in mind, while I now invite your attention, to what may be called the scriptural argument. I believe in the doctrine of a judgment to come, because a great many texts promise the righteous future

« PreviousContinue »