« PreviousContinue »
The passage quoted by Mr. Austin from 51st Psalm, claims a passing remark. It is as follows: “ Have mercy upon me O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." Let Mr. Austin teli me if he can, how a man can have his sins blotted out, and yet not be saved from the consequences of those sins. The tender mercy of God has been brought into the question, Now what is mercy? It is a term that relates only to those who are guilty, and who stand in need of favor which they do not deserve. And its proper application is only in cases where individuals are treated with favor, though deserving punishment. The very passage quoted is a refutation of Mr. Austin's views on that point. The position assumed by him is that God punishes man first according to his deseris. Hence there is no mercy to be exercised towards him, in any ap. plication of the term.
With these remarks, I proceed to present my eighth argument, founded on those passages that clearly imply salvation from punishment. Luke xiii. 7-9. The parable of the barren fig tree.. Tais represents moral beings who deserve to be punished for past delinquency. The proposition to spare the tree another year as a trial, clearly implies that if it bore fruit, it should then bespared the punishment already deserved on account of past barrenness. If it should not bear fruit then, that punishment should be inflicted. The tree deserved to be cut down or it did not. If it did not, then God threatened unjust punishment; but if it did, then the proposition to spare the tree is a proposition to spare from deserved punishment. Ezekiel xviii. 21.: “ But if the wicked will turn from his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed shall not be mentioned unto him.” In Ezekiel xxxiii. 14-16, we have the same truth in nearly the same language. Jeremiah xviii. 7–8.: “ At what instant I shall speak, concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” Here God promises that when he threatens punishment against a nation for its sin, if they repent of that sin he will not inflict the punishment. We have already seen an illustration of this passage in the case of the Ninevites. They were threatened with punishment, just and deserved, and it would have been inflicted had they not repented. But repenting at the preaching of Jonah, God did not inflict the punishment threatened, and hence they were saved from just and deserved punishment. He that believeth shall be saved, but he ibat believeth not shall be damned.” It is said in another place he that believeth not is condemned already. It therefore follows that he that believes is free from condemnation. Thence he must be saved from punishment. Micah viï. 18.: “ Who is a God like unto thee,
that forgiveth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” And now we ask the candid, what meaning, other than that for which we contend can be attributed to this language? God is said to pass by the iniquity of his people. How? By pardoning them; that is saving from just and deserved punishment. 2 Kings xxiv. 4. : “ Manassah filled Jerusalem with innocent blool, which the Lord would not pardon.” What would have been the effect of a pardon here? We see it in the consequences of a refusal to pardon. God would not pardon Manassah, and the etrect was the destruction of Judah. Hence, if he had pardoned him, Judah would have been saved from this destruction. Thus ihe effect of a parlon is to save from just punishment. I would like to know if it can be explained, how pardon can be exercised at all, if it does not save from punishment ? And when the gentleman has made out a clear case of pardon without removing punishment, I would thank him to reconcile it with the account given in Lake vii. 41–50. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, thou hast rightly judged. Our Lord then refers to the woman who had washed his feet with tears and wiped them with the hair of her head, and assures Simon that her sins which were many are all forgiven.” Then says he to the woman, verse 50, “ Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.” On this case we remark,
1. The debtors had incurred a just obligation, but had nothing with which to discharge it.
2. In view of their poverty, and consequent inability to pay, the creditor frankly forgave them both.
3. This act of forgiveness released them from all the consequences of their indebtedness.
4. Our Lord employs this account of the creditor and debtors, to illustrate that act of forgiveness, then and there performed in behalf of the woman. Hence, as the creditor did grant a bona fide release to the debtors from the consequences of their indebtedness, so Christ, in pardoning the woman, released her from the penal consequences of sin; that is, from just and deserved punishment.
If there be any truth or force in the illustration, as applicable to the case of the woman, it proves her released from the punishment deserved on account of sin. Acts iii. 19.: “Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall ome from the presence of the Lord.” The Greek word translated blotted out, is to expunge, annul, obliterate. See Donegan, page 504. On this passage, Clark remarks as follows: ** That your sins may be blotted out, which are not only recorded against you, but for which you are condemned by the justice of
and the punishment due to them must be executed upon you, unless prevented by your repentance and turning to him whom ye have pierced.” Romans iii. 24-27. : “ Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.” Here it is said, that we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ-because or on account of our faith in him whom God hath set forth, as a propitiation. What is a propitiation ? It is an act performed by a third person, for the purpose of effecting reconciliation between parties at variance : and this is done by turning away the displeasure of the justly offended party. This act was performed by Christ, who became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. As the effect of this propitiation, the obstacles to human salvation are removed, the righteousness of God declared, or vindicated, while he proceeds in the exercise of forbearance, to remit the past sins of those who “believe in Jesus.” Here the doctrine of forgiveness of punishment is clearly taught.-[ Time expired.
[MR. AUSTIN'S FOURTH REPLY.] Gentlemen Morlerators :-) propose in the present half hour, to pass my friend's fifth and sixth arguments, based on his views of pardon and justification, until to-morrow, in order to give them a more critical examination. I wish to notice this evening, his seventh argument. It is drawn from certain passages of scripture, which, he asserts, teach that men have been saved from punishment. He has quoted these passages, he says, to prove that there are instances where God has not punished men as much as they deserve! I can but express my exceeding regret that he has thought proper to resort to an argument of this nature! Can it be possible he has maturely reflected on the practical influences of such an argument, ou the minds of this audience, and especially the youthful portion of it? Has he duly considered the moral tendency of quoting scripture to prove to the young as well as old, that they may sin with impunity, to their hearts content, and escape all punishment whatever? What more do the inexperienced need as an inducement to sin? I call upon my brother and all clergymen of the so-called Evangelical school, in the name of Heaven, and humanity, and for the good of society, to desist from such a course. I pray them to refrain from going to the Bible, and quoting God's holy word to prove that men can violate his commandments-trample on every thing holy and good--and yet be screened from all penalty! I beg
of them not to taint the minds of the rising generation, with a doctrine so demoralizing—so peculiarly calculated to seduce them into the path of sin! Did the passages Elder Holmes has quoted, prove that God has saved sinners from just and deserved punishment, they would prove more-they would prove that God has done violence to the plainest dictates of justice—that he has subverted the fundamental principles of his own governmentand made his revealed word contradict itself in the most positive manner. If there is any doctrine that is plainly and unequivocally laid down in the Bible, it is the certainty of the punishment of the wicked. What signification should we attach to the passages my friend has quoted? They are not to be taken literally; but are to be understood as declarations uttered by men laboring under a deep sense of the heinousness of their crimes, and of the depth of guilt which rested on their souls. With their minds overwhelmed with a just estimation of their wickedness, they make these strong declarations. Yet these very passages show that God had punished them for their sins, which overthrows the position of my opponent, of salvation from just and deserved puuishment. But under their excited feelings, ihey thought they had not been punished quite as much as they ought to have been. This does not invalidate, or even reach the great principles for which I contend—viz: the certainty of punishment. I insist an enlightened interpretation of seripture compels us to understand these high wrought passages, as the declarations of men, smarting under a sense of guilt; and not as overturning the great fundamental principle every where taught in the Bible, that God's punishments are inflicted with unvarying certainty, and inflexible justice. They are certain, because they are just. Were they unjust, they might well be uncertain !
My brother on the affirmative, has repeatedly represented that gospel salvation is an “expedient,” to which God was compelled to resort to rescue man from the claims of justice. This is a inost remarkable view of the Creator and the perfection of his ways. What is an expedient? Its definition is-“ Means to an end contrived in an exigence or difficulty—a shift.” It appears then, according to my friend's position, that Deity managed the affairs of his world so imperfectly, and with so little foresight, that every thing fell into confusion against his intention, and in violence to all his calculations. Being thus surrounded with difficulties, he could not follow out his original plan in man's creation; but pressed by the strong exigency of the case, he was compelled to resort to an expedient contrived on the spur of the occasion, to rescue his creatures from their perilous condition. In this manner the so-called orthodox “plan of salvation,” is supposed to have originated. Who can believe this, of an all-perfect God?
My friend refers to my quotation from Hebrews" Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous ; Revertheless afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteous
ness unto them which are exercised thereby." He maintains that chastisement is not punishment, but that it is a salutary course of discipline! I acknowledge that chastisement is a salutary course of discipline, and I insist that such also is the nature of punishment. These terms are synonymous, so far as the object of their infliction is concerned. The only distinction between them is, that chastisement is a lighter infliction of penalty for less heinous crimes, and pun. ishment a more severe correction for deeper guilt. But they both are imposed for the same purpose, expressed distinctly in the language of the Apostle above quoted—that they may “afterward yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby.”--(Heb. xii. 11.) Upon what principle of propriety could the father of a family correct one portion of his children for their benefit, for the purpose of restoring them to obedience and uprightness; and another portion, only to injure them, and in such a manner as to confirm them in their disobedience and crime? The words “chastening” and “corrected,” (Heb. xii.) are from the Greek word “paideian." Robinson's Lexicon gives as its definition--a training, consisting of instruction, admonition, examples, rewards, punishments. That this Greek word signifies punishment, is evident from its use in Luke xxiii. 16, where Pilate says, in reference to Christ, who was arraigned before him--"I will therefore, chastise (paideusas] him, and release him.” Here this word has the meaning of scourging, lacerating the body with rods--[see Matt. xxvii. 26,?—which surely was a punishment of a severe and ignominious character. Dr. Adam Clarke says of scourging—" This is allowed to have been a very severe punishment of itself, among the Romans, the flesh being generally cut by the whips used for this purpose." (Clarke on Matt. xxvii. 26.)
Elder Holmes acknowledges God punishes his children, so-called -(i. e., those among men who are peculiarly his children hy general obedience and imitation,) on a principle of salutary discipline, with a view to their amendment and happiness. Why should he not deal with all his children-all men--upon the same principle ? If it is important to punish those who are but occasionally disobedient, with a view to their amendment, how much more important that those children who are habitually disobedient, should have such a punishment as shall lead them back to virtue and godliness.
But my friend insists the chastisements mentioned in Hebrews, refers only to the righteous. I have already alluded to the impropriety of speaking of the punishment of righteous men. The perfect groundlesness of this position will be made evident to all, by the declaration of St. Paul in the 11th verse He says that chastening “afterward yieldeth the peaceable fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS unto them who are exercised thereby.” This shows that chastening or punishment is not inflicted on those already righteous, but on the sinful to make them become RIGHTEOUS!! It is designed to produce RIGHTEOUSNESS where it was not before !