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him forever-is a very "silly” affair to Elder Holmes!! Not so, however, does this subject appear, to others among men, who have Christ's spirit within them! Not so to those scripture writers, who delighted to describe the ingathering of all souls into the kingdom of the Redeemer, and to dwell upon that blessed era, when “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”—(Phil. ii. 10–11.) But if my argument is - silly,” will the Elder favor us with something on the opposite side, that shall be reasonable and logical! That one part of the same race of intelligent beings, are the children of God, and another part the children of the devil, I suppose is not “ silly!" That men can at one time make the devil their father, and then at another time make God their Father-and thus travel around from being to being, making whomsoever they will, to become their parent, and then unmaking them at pleasure—is not "silly,” in my friend's view, but plain, sound, good sense!! There is no account. ing for tastes !
Dismayed at the strength of the argument drawn from God's Paternity, my opposer makes a desperate assault upon it, with such weapons as the following: He asks-would a good father bring his children into a world of sin and blasphemy, of warring and wretchedness, if he had power to prevent it? Would he subject them to sinfulness to bring them through it to happiness? Would he make sickness and then make medicine to heal it? Would he set robbers on his children that he might rescue them? Would he break their legs, that he might have an opportunity to restore them to health? From these things, he reasons that as God allows all this sin and misery, he is not a good Father, and hence all dependence placed upon him as a Parent, to bring bis dependent creatures to holiness and happiness, is fallacious and groundless !
Is it possible my friend imagines the audience and the public so blind that they cannot see the destructive and suicidal nature of this argument? It does not bear against Universalism alone, but against CHRISTIANITY itself!! Striving in vain to undermine the strong foundations of Universal Salvation--with blind and desperate zeal, he would tear away the very pillars of the gospel, an bury the hopes of the world in oblivion, rather than acknowled the truth of the doctrine of God's boundless love, which forms t highest theme of angel's songs ! Throughout the entire exten the New Testament, the Savior and the Apostles describe the CK tor as a wise, good and affectionate Father--they dwell much this truth, and institute comparisons to show that his love for la intelligent offspring infinitely exceeds that of an earthly paren This doctrine forms the chief.characteristic, as it does the brightest glory of the Gospel Dispensation! Against this great, fundamental truth, Elder Holmes throws all the force of his argument, and his logic. He points to the natural evils of life--the pains and woes, which afflict humanity-to convince the audience of what?
Why, that God is not such an affectionate Father as the scriptures represent him!! Yea, he takes his place by the side of the Deist and the Atheist, and makes use of precisely the same arguments which they urge to overthrow the authenticity of christianity, and to disprove the existence of a God! Ask the Deist for his proof that the gospel is a fable--inquire of the Atheist his strongest evi. dence that there is no wise and good superintending Providenceand they will both chime in with my opponent and point to the prevalence of sin and woe upon the earth!!! Why will men be so short-sighted as to pull down their own edifice, in their hot zeal to overthrow their neighbor's dwelling!
In defence of Universalism and the whole system of Christianity, let me notice briefly the argument he attempts to draw from the imperfections and evils of this life. It overlooks, in the first place, that man has for wise and good purposes, been so constituted by the Creator, that he attains to perfection in knowledge and happiness, only by progressive stages. Our own experience and observation atiests the existence of this law of progress, in all that pertains to human beings. Now such a progress necessarily consists in a series of changes from lower to higher stages. Yet such a career could not be passed through, except its commencement was in the midst of more or less imperfection. Hence, “the creature was made subject to vanity.”---(Rom. viii. 20.) And hence in this life, the commencement of his endless career, the starting point in his progressive existence—he manifests great imperfection in his own doings, and is subject to many natural imperfections or evils in his whole organization. But from these he is destined to travel onward and upward, in due time, to higher and better scenes and influences.
Another very important consideration which the Elder in his fatal argument, has overlooked, is that man has been endowed with moral freedom, in order that he may attain to that holiness which is alone the fruit of a voluntary exercise of his high moral capacities in the service of goodness and righteousness. But moral freedom necessarily involves an exposure to temptation, and a liability to sin. Not that it compels men to sin, but places them within the range of a liability to sin. It is through the exercise of this freedom, which is the highest endowment, and will eventually prove the most valuable blessing bestowed on man, that he falls into sin, temporarily, in this life. Hence the existence of sin in the present world-and hence its reconcilability with the perfections of a wise and holy God.
Although the immediate consequences of man's progressive nature, and of his endowment with moral freedom, is a subjection to pain and sin in this state of being, yet their final results, as affordiag him a salutary discipline and the instructions of a Great School of Experience, will be to elevate him to higher degrees of perfection in knowledge and happiness, than he could have attained in
any other way! How could moral beings arrive at a condition of enlightened voluntary holiness, except they had at some period of their existence, struggled with temptation and sin? How could they realize and enjoy the felicities of higher states of being, if they had not once been called to suffer sickness, pain, misfortune, and the last great evil, death?
I am prepared by these suggestions to answer the inquiries of the Elder. A wise and good earthly father would expose his children to sin, and sickness, and pain, did he clearly foresee that he could cause this exposure to result in elevating them to higher degrees of virtue and happiness, than they could experience by an exemption from them!! And it is for these all-gracious and allsufficient reasons, I repeat, that the wise and good Heavenly Parent has created his moral offspring subject to imperfection !!
Let me briefly notice this subject in another light. Sin-evilpain-are in the world. Here we agree. They must exist either in accordance with God's Will and Purpose, or in opposition to his Will and Purpose. I take the former ground. As already shown, I maintain, that although God does not compel man to sin, yet he has exposed him to temptation-subjected him to imperfectionthat a future and greater good may result, than would ensue from pursuing some other course. It was God's original purpose that his earthly offspring should travel up through every stage, from the imperfections of this world, to the highest glories of Heaven ! The scriptures clearly support this position. * The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” Here we are taught that the subjection of the human race to vanity was the work of the Almighty. And why? To lead him to endless wretchedness ? No: but to lead to a deliverance—to an elevation into the high rank of children [imitators] of God—“Because the creature itself also shall be DELIVERED from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”—(Rom. viii. 20, 21.)
But friend Holmes takes the opposite ground, that natural and moral evil-that sin and pain-exist AGAINST the Purpose, the Will, of Jehovah! This position not only contradicts the Scriptures, which declare that God " doeth according to his Will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth,” (Dan. iv. 35,) but it is fatal to his own hopes and anticipations in regard to a future state of being! If sickness, misfortune, and transgression, exist in the present life, against the Will of God—if they are the fruit of a frustration of his plans and objects in creation-then upon the plainest principles of analogy, they may exist against his design and desire, in another life, in any department of his creation--and they may afflict any class of beings, even to the highest angels-Christ—God himself! What is to prevent it?. If the Will, the intentions, of Jehovah are disappointed and thwarted among men, what can insure immunity to other classes of beings?
If he cannot do his Will on earth, how can he do it in Heaven ? Wedded to a hypothesis so fatal, upon what sure foundation can my friend rest his hopes of future deliverance from sin and pain, and an enterance upon perfect felicity? The most strictly orihodox christians-clergymen and laymen-en.lure misfortune and disappointment in this world--they are sick—they meet with dreadful accidents, tearing their limbs, and breaking their bones—they have been persecuted, driven to the dens and caves of the earth, and tortured in the most cruel manner, for their faithful adherence to their religious sentiments. All this, according to Elder Holmes, has been in direct opposition to the design of God, and against his will. What possible assurance is there, on this theory, that they will not be subjected to the same, or a worse state of things in the next life? And, moreover, according to the Elder, the wicked are not punished in this life--or at least punished so little, they are not aware of it. · Their barns are bursting with grain—prosperity and happiness attend them through life, while the unfortunately pious part of mankind, meet with crosses and trials, and are compelled io travel in an “up hill” road! Now what is to prevent this same prosperity and happiness attending the wicked hereafter? It will be of no avail to say it cannot be; God has willed and purposed a different state of things. His will can as easily and as certainly be thwarted by the wicked in another state of being, as in the present. I beg the reflecting portion of the audience to notice the fatal nature of the ground on which my opponent has placed himself. My reply covers all he has said or may say, in regard to the present existence of sin and evil.
He appears to place much importance upon a proposition which he has stated in terms the most logical, viz:–Either God could save men without passing through this state of sin and evil, and would not ; or, he would, but could not !! He imagines one or the other of the horns of this dilemma, must pierce my position. But how so? I can see no force in it, except, that my brother, like Hlaman of old, has erected a gallows for the destruction of his own theory. It involves the ground I have just gone over. He takes the position, that God would save men without exposing them to sin and evil, but coULD NOT. Then he is not GOD, and the Elder and his brethren have unfortunately wandered into infidelity, or rather idolatry, and are worshipping an imaginary being, instead of the true God. I insist the Deity could have made all men holy and happy without having exposed them to sin and evil, but would not. And why would he not? Because his infinite wisdom dictated, that in the final result of things a greater amount of happiness, and a more worthy and perfect holiness, could be attained by temporary subjection to imperfection and its evils, than on any other plan of creation.
Mr. Holmes cannot refrain from introducing the old stereotyped objection to the doctrine of God's parental affection and impartial
grace, of the drowning of the antediluvians, and the destruction of Solom and Gomorrah! He asks exultingly, if this was the fruit of the Creator's Fatherly love? This is a favorite argument with our friends of the opposite faith. Indeed, it seems to be viewed by them as the highest effort of the combined learning, talent, skill, shrewdness, and wit of all their theological warriors! When other efforts have proved abortive, they seize upon this, as the sword of Goliah, which shall assuredly slay the adversary, and deliver the field of controversy into their hands. Failing to repeat it with sufficient unction in plain prose, they weave it into doggerel rhyme, with other matters expressed in language equally chaste, dignified, and witty, and circulate it through the land for the special editication of the faithful! If friend Holmes thinks this stale objection has not been harped upon long enough—if he imagines the public have not sufficient common sense to detect its shallowness-if he dreams he can increase his capital by bringing it into this discussion-I cannot object. It only subjects me to the labor of meeting his assertions, which even a child in the principles of Universalism, can overthrow, and which indeed, have again and again been shown to be but the merest fallacy. I suppose he will allow the antediluvians and the dwellers in Sodom and Gomorrah, were human beings! If they were, then God sustained towards them the same relationship of Father, that he does to all his intelligent offspring. His dealings with them, therefore, were the dealings of a wise and good Parent with disobedient offspring. Should an earthly father while chastising his erring children in one apartment of his residence, suddenly remove them to another apartment, would it furnish any rational indication that he had laid aside all parental affection, and was torturing them with a revengeful cruelty, such as the most malignant enemy alone could inflict? The supposition would be extremely absurd. Yet what were God's dealings with the antediluvians, and inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, but removing them while in the act of inflicting just correction, from one apartment of his Great Edifice to another? What evidence do these acts afford, that the Creator will torment them forever? The destruction of these ancient transgressors, furnishes no proof that God cherished any less love for them than for the rest of the sinful world. It only shows divine wisdom preferred that method of punishment in these instances, to any other at his command. Universalists are continually charged with believing that the Antediluvians, Sodomites, etc., when swept from the earth, ascended inmediately to Heaven. There never was a charge more totally groundless. No opinion of this description ever prevailed, or existed in our midst. Our belief is that the Heavenly Father dealt with them on the same principles that he deals with all other sinners--that he punished them justly for their sins, and that whenever their hearts are sostened, and they turn to him in repentance and love, he pardons and accepts of them. Their removal to an