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law or custom, to be dissolved as whim, or caprice, or will, may dictate. It is a tie of nature, and hence is indissoluble and indestructible. Those who stand connected as parents and children, must forever remain so. God being the Father of all men, will through eternity, hold that relationship toward them. It was by no agency of man that the link was formed which connects Jehovah and his intelligent creatures as parents and children; and by no agency of man can that link be dissevered! Wherever a soul may be, whatever it may become in its moral character, it will still be a child, and God its parent. True, there is a moral, or spiritual sense, in which some men are children of God, and others not. Those who obey him, who walk in uprightness, are his children by imitation—are approbated children. The word "children,” in this sense, is a conventional term, abounding in the scriptures, and signifying simply an imitator. Prof. Stuart says * Every kind of relation or resemblance, whether real or imaginary, every kind of connection, is characterized (in the Bible) by calling it the son of that thing to which it stands thus related, or with which it is connected." (Letter to Dr. Miller pp. 95–99.) Thus a peaceable man is called the “Son of Peace"--one who sympathizes with the unfortunate, is called the “Son of Consolation'--those who disobey are called the “Children of disobedience.”-(Eph. v. 6.) Those who are wise, are called “Children of wisdom.” A murderous person is called the “Son of a murderer"-and individuals given to great wickedness, are denominated the “Children of Diabolus"-(1 John iii. 10,)—that is, imitators of an evil and wicked spirit. Those who cherish true faith in God, are denominated the Children of Abraham,” (Gal. iii. 7,) --that is, imitators of Abraham. It is in accordance with the same scripture phraseology that those who imitate God, are denominated the - Children of God."
But this has no reference to, nor does it affect, the great fundamental truth, that God in an infinitely important sense, is the common and eternal father of all men. The fact that the upright and virtuous are denominated children, i. e. the imitators of God, does not prove that the disobedient are in no intimate sense, his children. Because some of the children of an earthly parent, imitate him, it is no evidence that those who do not, are not his children. The only distinction that can be made—the only one that the Bible makes is that some men are obedient children of God, while others are disobedient children of the same God.
That God recognizes men even in sin and disobedience, as his children, is made evident by the plain assertions of scripture6 Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."--(Heb. xii. 5, 6.) For what does God "chasten" and
" rebuke," and "scourge” mankind ? It is for disobedience and sin. Still he calls them his sons_his children. Again: “A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel; for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God. Return ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings."(Jer. iii, 21, 22.) Notwithstanding Israel had back-slid, forgotten God, and plunged into wickedness, still he calls them his children. These evidences are amply sufficient to sustain the truth of St. Paul, when he said to the idolatrous Athenians, “We are all his offspring, for he hath made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth."-(Acts. xvii. 26.)
2. The affection of the Heavenly Father for his offspring, is of the same nature as that of a wise and good earthly father; but infinitely stronger and more enduring. The simple fact that God reveals himself as our Father, proves that he wishes us to understand his feelings for his children to be similar to the emotions a good and wise earthly father cherishes for his offspring. If he did not intend us thus to judge of him, why so repeatedly proclaim himself a Father? How can we judge of him as a Father, except by what we know of a good earthly father? Dr. Chalmers says-"He who can assign the properties of that relation which subsists between a dependent family and their earthly benefactor, can assign the properties of that relation which subsists between the whole species, and their heavenly benefactor.”—(Chalmers' Natural Theology p. 38.)
The love of the Heavenly Father for his children, is stronger than that of an earthly father. “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent ? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven, give good things to them that ask him.”—Matt. vii. 9.] Here two things are manifest-First: That our Heavenly Father entertains the same feeling of love towards his offspring, that an earthly father does. Second : But he possesses it in a far higher degree.-"How much more shall your Father which is in Heaven.” Again—"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."(Isa. xlix. 15.) The affection of our Heavenly Parent is more intense, and far more enduring, than even that of a mother for her babe!!
3. Whatever a wise and good earthly parent would do for his children, had he the power, we may believe our Heavenly Father will do for his offspring, he having all power. A wise and good earthly father would have the punishments he inflicts on his children, result in their reformation. This is his sole object in inflicting them. An enlightened, christian parent, never indulges in angry, revengeful, retaliating feelings, in chastening his children. He does it in love, from a deep interest in their welfare, and a strong desire to restore them to obedience and rectitude. And if he had but sufficient power, he would cause his chastisements to produce these most desirable results. We have a right to reason from the parental character of the Deity, that he punishes his sinful children on the same principle and from the same motive-i. e., to reform and restore them! His nature as a holy, pure, loving Father, necessarily leads to the cherishing of this motive. Can a good Father punish his children for no purpose but to torment them? Would an earthly father punish his children all their life time simply to torture them ? Certainly not. His punishments are intended solely for their good—to bring them to repentance, and cease when that object is effected. So our Heavenly Father punishes for the benefit, the reformation, of his offspring. "Thou shalt also consider in thy heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.”—(Deut. viii. 5.) “Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them_reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits, and live? For they, verily, for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." —(Heb. xii. 9.) Such is the purpose of God's chastisements!
Has he not ample power to carry a purpose so holy into effect? Has he not abundant resources? Can the creature stand out against this purpose, and thwart the design of the Creator ? Impossible! God's punishments will result in the restoration of the punished to righteousness and obedience. “Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”—(Heb. xii. 11.) God's chastisements thus yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, and all who are punished will in due time be restored to holiness and happiness.
A wise and good earthly parent will at any time, allow his disobedient children to repent, reform, and return to obedience and happiness. He will adopt no measure which he forsees will result in fixing his children in disobedience. Much less would he, after a season, place them where they should have no opportunity to reform. We are compelled to reason in the same manner of our Heavenly Father. Why should he set a fixed time, and insist that if his blind and erring children do not repent in that time, deny them the privilege of ever repenting? Why should their Heavenly Father place them in a condition where they would become eternally fixed in wickednes, and be compelled to blaspheme his name forever? No! whenever the sinner would repent, in any life, in any world, God allows it. Why should he not? Who would be injured by it ? None, certainly—but all
wonld be benefited! What says the Bible ? “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto ihe Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."—(Isa. Iv. 7.) This divine invitation will stand forever, for the acceptance of man! There is no time set, no limit fixed, no place designed when, or where it shall ceas. Let the wicked repent and return to God, and they shall be abundantly pardoned, is the “ Standing Rules of eternity!!-[ Time expired.
(YR. HOLMES' SECOND REPLY.] Will Mr. Austin show me a place in the Bible where it is said that those who die in depravity and crime, will certainly repent and be restored to holiness and happiness in another world ? Such a declaration would have much weight in his argument.
Mr. Austin.-If my brother will show me a place in the Bible where it says the wicked shall not repent in another world, I will give up
argument. MR. HOLMES.—This is presenting a wrong issue-requiring me to prove a negative. Men are now lost—depraved—sinful: dying in this state, the presumption is, they will always remain so, unless this presumptiom be disproved by positive testimony. The negative of this question must be regarded as true, until the affirm. ative is proved; and yet, there is an abundance of negative proof, as we shall see before the termination of this debate.
Perhaps I cannot do better at present, than to confine myself to the last argument of my friend founded, on the assumed ground that all men are the children of God in a spiritual sense-in a sense that unconditionally insures their endless felicity. He quotes a number of passages to prove what no one disputes-viz. that God chastens his children. But does this prove that all men are the children of God in a spiritual sense ? That the chastening of the Lord “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness” to those (children of God) who are exercised thereby, is very true; but if the gentleman hai quoted the whole of the passage from Heb. xii. he would have given the best of proof, that some men are not children of God, and hence, are designated," bastards and not sons."
It is the doctrine of the Bible, that men only become children of God by faith in Christ, and that those who are not in a state of divine obedience, and under the influence of gospel faith, are the children of the devil. Hence said our Lord to the Jews, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” (John viij. 44.) Now, if men are the subjects of divine chastening, while they “children of the devil”-“bastards and not sons”-what be
comes of the peaceable fruit of rightousness, said to filow from such chastening ? and where is the force and utility of my friend's argument, founded on the paternal relation ?
In connection with this argument. Mr. Austin has appealed to the sympathy which the mother has for her infant child. Well, I have nothing to object to the mother's sympathy. In its proper application, within the sphere in which it was designed to move, it is a most necessary and noble element of humanity; prompting the mother to that care and kindness so necessary to the sustenance and happiness of her tender offspring. But what has this to do with the final holiness and happiness of all men? Would the gentleman establish an analogy between the sympathy of the mother for her infant, and the sympathy of God for a world of reh. els against his throne and government, and then proceed to plead that sympathy against the administration of law and justice? If this be his object, let him carry out the principle:- let him plead sympathy against the infliction of all positive punishments by the civil and criminal law :-let him go back and plead the sympathy of the mother against the destroying angel, who slew the first born of Egypt:-let him invoke divine sympathy against the destruction of the antediluvians—the Sodomites-and the host of Pharaoh :finally, let him invoke both human and divine sympathy against the doctrine for which he has contended so strenuously in ihis debate—that God will punish every man to the full extent of his deserts.
1. This paternal argument, is wholly sympathetic. It will not harmonize with moral law, or justice: it moves upon the surface of things, and will not endure, for a moment, the touch of intellectual investigation. Human nature is morally perverted : and as human sympathy arises out of human nature, it is perverted in the same ratio: hence, when applied to moral subjects, it is an unsafe guide. In basing an argument on human sympathy, Mr. Austin erects a perverted human standard, as the criterion of the divine administration.
2. Though all men are the children of God by creation, or natural relation, yet they are not so in a moral sense : and it is clearly the doctrine of scripture, and providence, that those who sin, forfeit the blessings of their natural relation.
3. There is another and higher sense in which men are children of God, viz. adoption. Hence it is said in Gal. (iv. 4, 5,) Christ came “ to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son in your hearts, crying, Abba, Faiber. Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
Here we are taught that our son-ship is by gracious adoptionthat our heavenly inheritance depends upon our son-ship--and that those who are not sons, are not inheritors of God through Christ.