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perfect in their nature, but deliverence from that state into which God subjected them, “ not willingly." But the tree is created in a state of physical perfection : and its improvement is not deliverance from original rottenness, imposed on it by its Creator, but an expansion of the perfect elements if its perfect constitution. There is all this difference between the subject and the illustration ; hence I said to make the figure applicable to the subject, he should find a tree created in a state of rottenness : but as God never created a rotten tree, the illustration, so far from explaining-really contradicts his theory. I deny most positively, and emphatically, that the Bible any where teaches that man was originally created in an imperfect, state or in a state of unavoidable subjection to vanity, or sin and misery. The physical, intellectual, and moral constitution of man were originally free from defect, they were only imperfect in a sense that admits of the expansion of those powers, already existing in a state of physical mental and moral perfection. The idea that God subjected man to a condition of sin and misery, against his will, is monstrous—and comes directiy in the face of the gentleman's brilliant descriptions of the love of God.
Though I have already remarked incidentally on Mr. Austin's argument from the love of God, yet I will now give it a more particular consideration. He has taken great pains to frame this argument so as to cover its weak points, and produce the best possible impression, but by the aid of scripture, and a little common sense logic, we shall be able to dissect it and expose its fallacies.
1. Love is not an attribute, but an emotion of the mind : hence like other emotions, such as fear and hatred, it has no independent existence-is not an essential element of nature, depends in its exercise upon external circumstances, and must vary in its character, according to the nature of the object which calls it forth. It is not safe to build an argument, in so grave a case as this, upon a mere emotion or affection of the divine mind, considered abstractly from the principles of his government, and the harmonious exercise of his attributes.
2. As God is the first source of all science, hence the principles of moral philosophy have their fonndation in the divine character. But on these principles, that which is loved by a holy being, must be lovely in itself, must have some quality adapted to call forth love, and must be morally assimilated to the character of the being who loves. This is certainly true of the love of approbation or complacency. There may be love of pity, or compassion, without complacency, and it was in this sense that "God so loved the world,” as to make provision for their salvation. But only that which is morally lovely, can he love with the love of approbation and delight.
Saints are lovely in his sight,
He looks and loves his image there. An argument from the love of God, for the salvation of such as acquire holiness of character, and trust in him by a course of obedience, would be sound; but a conclusiou from such a premise, embracing the unconditional salvation of all men, without distinction, and regardless of that moral character acquired by holy obedience, would violate the rules of sound logic, and the principles of moral philosophy.
3. That God can do nothing but love," is not true, because it contradicts the scriptures. Dr. Payson, from whom this language is taken, never intended to use it in an unqualified sense ; or, if he did, it would make no difference, since it is flatly opposed to the word of God. God is said to be displeased with sin, and to be “angry with the sinner every day." I admit there is nothing in the nature of God which answers to revengeful feeling, such as man in his condition of depravity, exhibits towards his fellow-men, yet it is a feeling of opposition and disapprobation towards those who transgress his holy law. My friend will not dispute that the Bible abounds in expressions that cannot be explained in any
other way, than on supposition that there is in the mind of God, a feeling of disapprobation-of displeasure—a holy indignation against those who love depravity and practice sin, What did Isaiah allude to, but this, when he said, "O Lord I will praise thee : though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me."-(xii. 1.)
It is also said in the scriptures, just as specifically and emphatically, just as unqualifiedly, and absolutely, "God is a consuming fire," as it is that he "is love." And the same logic that would prove the salvation of all men from the latter passage, would
rove the damnation of all men from the former. It is also said, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”– Hleb. x. 31; xii. 29.) If these passages and their context, do not prove that God exercises a feeling towards those who are contentious and do not obey the truth,” far different from that which he possesses towards his loving and obedient children, I am wholly at a loss to understand the meaning of language, or the force of terms. Observe.—I do not believe that this language : "Our God is a consuming fire,” is to be taken in an absolute and unqualified sense. Nor do I believe, the language, “God is love," is to be so understood. Both these passages, and all others represented in their character by these, are to be explained in their specific bearings and application, by the attributes of God, by the nature of his government, and by the relations and responsibility of man.
4. That God can do “nothing but love," is contradicted by the
voice of nature. Get some commanding eminence, and look out upon God's universe. If we had no voice announcing from his word, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life,” what conclusion should we draw from the facts exhibited in nature? What conclusion have the heathen come to ? Their consciences tell them they are guilty-and nature proclaims God an avenger of guilt-a being of TERRIBLE MAJESTY. I know nature gives many indications of the wisdom and goodness of God. The flowers exhibit their beauty, and emit their fragrance, grateful to the sense of man. The grass is green -the rain of heaven descends upon the just and upon the unjust. The birds sing sweetly, the sun shines brightly; and when his disc is hid:
“ The moon awakes, and with her virgin stars,
Of purity, of holiness, and God.” But then there is another side to this picture. There are moaning winds, and blighting frosts, and winter blasts. There are storms as well as sunshine. There are times when nature groans, and seems to die, while
"God and angels come to lay her in the tomb." What means the pestilence which "walketh in darkness,” and the "destruction which wasteth at noonday.” What means that dreadful scourge the cholera, which with fearful visage, marches on-and on-and onward still, with giant tread, from continent to continent, interrupting the relations of life, and devouring its thousands at a meal? What means the sweeping tornado which speeds its furious course, spreading destruction of property and life wherever it comes, and then turning into calm and sunshine, as if to mock the joys and hopes of men, it looks, and
- smiles, at the ruin it has wrought." What means the inward rumbling, trembling, upheaving of the quaking earth—the burning lava which rushes down the mountain side, consuming every green thing, and overwhelming villages, cities, and their inhabitants in one common and dreadful destruction. To these examples of God's severity we might add the drowning of the old world, and the many other marks of terrible vengeance which God has executed upon the nations of the earth. Can God "do nothing but love?" If nature speaks of God's love, it also speaks of his severity and justice. From the foregoing facts, it must be evident, that if hope prevails over fear and despair, it will be because of the gracious assurance of revelation. The Bible assures us there is a disposition in the mind of God to forgive sin, and that he that confesseth and forsaketh his sins sball find mercy. But neither Revelation nor na
ture gives any pledge that the love of God, will, by its own absolute influence, effect the unconditional universal salvation of all
5. The argument from the love of God refutes itself. The gentleman reasons thus :-"God is love," therefore all men will be finally holy and happy. My reply is “God is love," therefore all men are now holy and happy. This latter conclusion is false--no one disputes this, hence the presumption is, that the other is false also. If holiness and happiness are the absolute productions of divine love, why do they not now exist with respect to the whole human race God's love is as strong now as it ever will be--it will possess no elements or influence hereafter beyond what it possesses now, but it does not now produce human holiness and happiness, how then is it to effect this object hereafter. It has been as true for six thousand years past, that “God is love," as it is now, and yet the world has abounded with depravity and misery during the whole period. Now, if the love of God acts upon human character and condition absolutely, irrespective of human agency or the principles of moral government, why has it not removed degradation and misery from the Universe? It has not done so, but on the contrary, thousands have become more and more depraved and wretched the longer they lived! The conclusion is unavoidable, that the argument is erroneous; for that which has not produced holiness and happiness in the ages that are passed, and is inefficacious to effect it now, can be no sufficient security for holiness and happiness in the future.
6. Mr. Austin argues again from the love of God, in substance as follows: Endless misery is an evil. If men are finally miserable, God will make them so; but this he cannot do, because he cannot be the author of evil : therefore all men will be finally holy and happy. Here is another specimen of the gentleman's slip-shod logic. I am sometimes really at a loss to determine whether my friend intends to deceive the audience, or whether he lacks the discernment necessary to detect the fallacies of his own argument, and is, therefore, himself deceived. In the process by which he arrives at the above deduction, there are a number of mere assumptions. First, he assumes that endless unhappiness is morally wrong, for this is the sense in which I understood him to use the term evil. But this depends upon principles and facts which are yet to be settled. In saying that the final perdition of the ungodly is morally wrong, he assumes the very point in debate-begs the question, and then draws his conclusion so as to harmonize with his theory. Secondly, he assumes that the moral character of punishment arises out of its duration, whereas, the nature and fitness of the punishment, does not depend upon its duration, but on the turpitude of the crime, and moral desert of the punished. Whether the punishment be for a long or short
period, does not change its moral character. Third : he assumes ihat God makes the sinner miserable. Let us suppose for the sake of the argument, that this is true. The same logic that would prove it wrong to make the sinner miserable forever, would also prove it wrong to make him miserable, or occasion his unhappiness for a limited period. For we have already seen that the moral character of punishment is not determined by mere duration. But it is not true that God occasions the misery of sinful' men; they cause their own misery by assuming such an attitude to the law and government of God, as to make their own unhappiness a natural and necessary consequence; and continuing this attidude of hostility and rebellion in utter rejection of the terms of reconciliation, they alone are responsible for the consequence to themselves, though it be endless perdition. I will close my reply to the argument from the love of God, by a remark or two on the divine paternity.
Mr. Austin has urged repeatedly, that what a good father would do, he having sufficient wisdom and power, that God will do for the whole family of man. But the common sense of every father here, teaches him, that if he had the power and wisdom requisite to reform his children, and make them virtuous and happy without punishment, he would do it without delay. Does not my friend see the conclusion to which his course of reasoning conducts him? He virtually takes the ground, that God has neither wisdom nor power to bring men to heaven and happiness, without first making them sinfuland miserable. Carry out the principle, and where will it lead to ? Men must become drunkards before they can become temperate and sober-knaves before they can be honest men—and liars before they can learn to speak the truth. For heaven's sake my friend, renounce your theory, or invent some better way to support it.
I trust I have now given a sufficient answer to the much lauded argument from the love of God. I have shown its defection in no less than six particulars, each of which destroys its validity and vitiates the conclusion sought to be drawn from it. Let Mr. Austin overthrow either of my positions if he can. I invite him to the trial. And let him not seek to mistify the subject by flourishes, but in a fair and manly way, take hold of the naked principle and remove it.
I will now introduce my second negative argument. Universalism makes God the author of all the sin in the universe. This follows as a legitimate, and indeed, unavoidable corollary, from a number of the positions already taken by Mr. Austin in this discussion. Besides, the fundamental principles of the system lead to the same conclusion. We have already seen that it makes sin proceed from the physical constitution or bodily portion of our naiure. The leading writers of Universalism would not take ground so offensive to common sense, were it not necessary to support a