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O Lord, belongeth mercy.”—(Ps. lxii. 12.) His mercy is great. “ Thy Mercy is great unto the heavens.” -(Ps. lvii. 10.) It is Very Great.—“Let me fall now into the hands of the Lord; for VERY GREAT are bis mercies.”--(1 Chron. xxi. 13.) Plenteous. “ The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and PLENTEOUS in mercy.”—(Ps. ciii. 8.) Rich.—“Who is Rich in Mercy.”--(Eph. ii. 4.) Manifold.—“According to thy MANIFOLD mercies.”—(Nehe. ix. 27.) Tender and Impartial. His TENDER mercies are over ALL his works.”—(Ps. cxlv. 9.) Sure. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”—(Isa. lv. 3.) God delights to exercise Mercy." He retaineth not his anger forever, because he DELIGHTETH in Mercy.”—(Micah vii, 18.) His mercy is literally unending.–“His mercy endureth FOREVER.” –(Ps. Evi. 1.)
2. Infinite Mercy desires the happiness of all mankind. It is the desire of Mercy to confer benefit and happiness, on all encircled in its embrace. This is the office it fulfills in the Divine Councils. It not only wishes for their happiness, but labors to secure it. God's Mercy reaches to all mankind. It extends its protecting arms around each and every soul of humanity. It is especially interested in the welfare of the sinful and deluded. It pities and compassionates those so ignorant and blind as to wander from the pleasant paths of righteousness, under the vain expectation of finding more enjoyment. Mercy yearns over them, and never can become satisfied, until they are brought to enjoy the rich blessings of heaven. God's Mercy desires ALL to be happy.—“His tender mercies are over ALL his works.” All men will continue through eternity, to be the objects of its regard." His Mercy ENDURETH FOREVER.” So anxious was David that this great fundamental truth should be impressed on the minds of men, that he declared twenty-six times in one Psalm--" His mercy ENDURETH FOREVER.”—(Ps. cxxxvi.) As long as the Throne of Omnipotence stands, his Mercy will be extended over every creature he has formed, and will seek the good of all! God's mercy is as greatly interested in the welfare of each soul of the human race, and labors as earnestly to secure its everlasting welfare, as though there were no other created being in existence!
3. In a universe over which a merciful Deity reigns, the desires of Mercy must finally become abundantly satisfied. That a perfect God should satisfy the desires of his Mercy, is one of those deductions which are self-evident. In the very alphabet of a correct Theological education, this truth must be impressed on the mind of the learner, viz. That all the attributes of God, exist and act in harmony--that all co-operate with each, and each with all — that each one is perfect; so infinitely perfect, as to carry out to a triumphant and successful execution, every plan, purpose, and work, that comes within its legitimate sphere. Thus God's Wisdom never errs in adopting perfect plans for the execution of all his de
signs. All that his Goodness suggests or desires, for the benefit of his creatures, is abundantly and perfectly accomplished. The work of his Justice is completed and all its claims satisfied. So of all his attributes. This view is essential to a correct understanding of the results of God's works and ways. To deny, or overlook, the perfect operation and fulfilment of the Divine Attributes, is to destroy the perfections of Jehovah, and plunge into a sea of dark and dreadful errors! Yet this is precisely the condition of modern partialist Theology. Not an attribute of the Most High exists that is not impeached in its perfection, and destroyed in its operation, by some of these Evangelical doctrines. His Wisdom errs—his Power becomes weakness--the claims of his Justice are never fulfilled on the guilty-his Goodnes is limited and fickle, and his Mercy is forever violated !!
That infinite Mercy must eventually become abundantly satisfied in respect to man's condition, is self-evident, from the simple fact that it is an attribute of Deity. If all its desires are not satisfied, then God is imperfect and his best wishes cannot be accomplished. Can eternal wretchedness satisfy Mercy? Can it consent to such a doom? Strange Mercy if it did! No! the endless felicity of all men, can alone satisfy Mercy!!
There is no other attribute of God which comes in conflict with Mercy, to prevent its being extended to all humanity. It is a great mistake to suppose that Justice throws any impediment in the way of Mercy. Here it is where my brother opposite, and all defenders of modern Evangelical Theology, greatly err. They view Mercy and Justice, as antagonistic in the councils of Heaven, and in their claims on man. They insist that Justice demands the endless punishment of all sinners, and that Mercy shall be extended to none. And on the other side, that Mercy desires and beseeches that such punishment shall not be inflicted; that the claims of Justice shall not be satisfied; but that man shall be saved from all punishment! Thus these two most glorious attributes, are made to war with each other. If this is really so, it is evident one or the other is urging that a great WRONG be done. If Justice rightfully demands that all men shall be punished forever, for their sins, then Mercy is seeking to do an infinite WRONG. If Mercy's claims that all shall be saved from punishment, are reasonable and proper, then Justice is striving to accomplish an act of most awful cruelty !! Yet this is the highest conception entertained by learned theologicians of the orthodox class, of the nature, claims, attitude and operation, of Jusand Mercy. In the words of the poet:
“ They set at odds Heaven's jarring Attributes,
And with one excellence another wound."
The method which, according to this theology, the Creator adopts to reconcile the attributes of Justice and Mercy, and fulfil their conflicting claims, is singular and marvellous. "To produce this reconciliation, it is taught that God finally determined to allow his
Son to suffer death, or rather himself, (for they insist Christ is God,) in place of mankind, as a victim to satisfy ihe infinite claims of Justice, and at the saine time afford an opportunity for Mercy to have its desires fulfilled in regard to the salvation of men. But strange to say, this infinite sacrifice was far from satisfying Justice. Notwithstanding it has had its victim-notwithstanding its demands upon the human race were all fulfilled by the death of Christ, yet it is not willing that Mercy should extend its arms around those for whom Jesus became a sacrifice, but still is clamorous for the torment of millions of human souls, on whom it has not the slightest claim. And strangest of all, it is supposed that God gives way to these abhorrent double claims of Justice, and allows it to sweep away into endless perdition, by far the greatest portion of mankind. Thus Justice is twice satisfied, which amounts to infinite cruelty, whilst Mercy, the most beautiful attribute of Jehovab, must fain content its compassionate yearnings with here and there one snatched from the rapacious grasp of Justice. And such theology is still mantained by learned D. D's and Professors of theology in this enlightened land, and in the middle of the nineteenth century!!
The fundamental error in this theory, is that Justice demands endless punishment. No wonder Mercy protests !-No wonder these aitributes are at wir! But Justice does not demand such punishment. It only requires that cach sinner be punished suffciently to bring him to reformation and no more. Such a punishment Mercy is willing to allow. In this attidude there is no conflict between them. When Justice has punished the wicked according to their deeds, sufficient to induce repentance, they are discharged from its claims. Mercy has then an opportunity to draw near each child of humanity, and make them all the objects of its regard-granting them the blessings of immortality and boundless felicity, which they could not claim on the score of moral desert. Thus ihese attributes move on harmoniously in all their operations 'specting man. Neither is exercised at the expense of ihe other, or to the wrong of the other, but both unite in promoting the good humanity. The scriptures represent Justice and Mercy as harmoniously coperating both in punishment and salvation. For a small monent have I forsaken thee; (justly punished thee,] but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; [temporarily punished thee in fulfillinent of the claims of justice :) but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer."-(Isa. liv. 7, 8.) Here is the operation of Justice and Mercy. The claims of hoth on the sinful are fulfilled without collision."
That Gol's mercy shall extended due time to all men, is evident from the fact that Mercy is his favorite attribute. The Bible nowhere asserts that the Creator delights in Justice, or Truth, or Wisdom, although he is strictly just, true, and wise. But it
says “ He DELIGHTETH in MERCY.” What can this teach but that he will give special, boundless, infinite activity to this lovely Attribute. When the scripture declares " his tender mercies are over all his works,” and that he “delighteih in Mercy," what other conclusion can be adopted, than that wherever, throughout the bounds of space, wani, need, weakness, blindness, or pain exist, there the sweet and “tender mercies” of God shall flow, to give relief, life, and joy! Is it reasonable to presume that Jehovah will forever deprive himself, in regard to countless millions, of the erercise of that which affords him delight ? Will not God do that in which he delights, in every case where a child he has formed needs Mercy? The scriptures describe him as doing whatsoever gives him delight. “I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.”– (Jer. ix. 24.) Let the scriptures decide the extent and efficacy of God's Mercy. “ He hath concluded then all in unbelief that he might have Mercy upon all."--(Rom. xi. 32.) “ He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in Mercy.”—(Micah viii. 18.)
What more can be added to satisfy the most unbelieving, the most sceptical? God's tender mercies are over all his works-He delights in Mercy – Whatsoever delights him, that he doeth! He included all mankind in unbelief, for no other reason, than to afford himself the opportunity of having Mercy on all!!-[Time expired.
(MR, HOLMES' FIFTH REPLY.) Gentlemen Moderators and Respected Friends :- I percieve I am this morning unattended by any of my ministerial brethren, though I doubt not there are many in the congregation, whose sympathies and prayers are enli-ted in behalf of truth. That my ininisterial brethren are absent, is a matter of no consequence to me, and perhaps I should not have alluded to it at all, but for a remark made by Mr. Austin. That remark was. that I had had the benefit of many heads in framing my arguments. In this I understood him io allude particularly to the argument by which I overturned the superstructure he had reared on the Paternity of God. I am gratitiet at this, as proof that he feels the force of that argument, however unwilling he may be to admit it.
But it is not true that I have had the assistance of many heads, in any other sense than the author would, who pursues a general course of reading with a given objeci in view, and then, by a course of independent thought, sists the whole, and presents ihe essence of the subject in his own language. Let me enquire here, how many heads' has the gentleman had to assist him? He has had one cool, calculating head at his elbow, taking notes and making suggestions thus far during the discussion; and if I mistake
not, Messrs. Williamson, Rogers, Thomas, and Skinner, are acting a more conspicuous part in this discussion than they get credit for.
As I have several times alluded to the subject, I will take the present time to give my views of the government of God.
1. God is a moral being, having moral attributes, which must be unitedly and harmoniously displayed in any scheme of government, which he may adopt and bring into existence. He is underived in his existence, and absolutely independent of all other beings, hence has a right to introduce and establish a government based on his own character.
2. If he establish a government, that government must be moral, because no other would be adapted to his character as a moral being. A government strictly and entirely paternal, would not be suited to the divine character. It would possess only one element, and that not adapted to any one of the divine attributes. The term father, as applied to God, is a relative term, hence does not indicate an essential element of the divine character. Would God bring into being a government to exist forever, and be extended over all beings and worlds, and yet not based upon any one of his attributes ? The idea needs only to be stated, to be refuted. Common sense rejects the notion at first sight.
3. A government suited to the moral character of God, must afford opportunity for a display of the moral attributes of God-goodness, wisdom, and holiness. No other than a moral government could do this. We can conceive of a government not moral--a mechanical government, made up of a concatenation of undeviating cause and effect, every link of the chain moving every other link, and God moving the whole-or like a regular train of machinery, erery part acting upon every other part with irresistible power.
But such a government would not be moral, for two reasons: 1. It would afford no opportunity to display the moral attributes of God, goodness and holiness. Any scheme of government that would leave these attributes out of its relations and provisions, could not be moral, and would be unworthy the character of a moral governor. It might require wisdom to construct such a government as above described, but nothing but power would be needed to keep it in motion. The power of God must sit at the head of this great piece of mechanism, turning the great iron wheel, whose resistless cogs set the whole in motion, and impart an impulse to the least and most insignificant part of the machinery; while every other attribute of God is left unprovided for in its operations. In this case, fate, irresistible fate, would alone preside over the destinies of all beings and worlds. This would not be a moral government, because, 2. There could be no such thing as moral character pertaining to the subjects of it. There would be no moral freedom, and where there is no moral freedom, there can be no foundation for moral character. Under such an arrangement, every thought, word and deed, would be necessitated; hence, man would be neither rewardable, nor