Page images
PDF
EPUB

ment

ment arises out of a sinful course, it is a natural consequence or effect of sin. Hence, this punishment cannot destroy sin, because an effect cannot destroy its cause. So far as punishment is positive, it is inflicted by the law giver, as the penalty of his violated law. This punishment cannot destroy depravity, because it is its object to preserve the honor and stability of the government. First, by guarding the law from infraction, and secondly, by seeking satisfaction when it is transgressed. There is nothing in the nature or design of prinishment adapted to destroy depravity. Punishmay

act as a motive on the mind of the sinner--it may lead to reflection, to repentance—it may lead to a determination to embrace the gospel; but in this case it is the gospel that destroys depravity, not punishment. Depravity cannot be destroyed without the operation of divine grace; but there is no grace in punishment, because it is the infliction of law, and there is no grace in law; therefore punishment cannot destroy depravity,

And if we wish farther proof of this, we have it in the practical and moral results of the systems of punishment established among men, and in the fact that thousands persevere and die in sin, though they are the subjects of God's penal dispensations and visitations in this world.

4. The strength of depravity is increased by indulgence. Every repeated act of depravity increases the sinful bias of the mind. On the principles of philosophy it must be so. As the strength of moral power is improved by exercise, so the strength of passion and principle, whether good or bad, is increased by indulgence. The stream of human depravity runs downward, and the farther it proceeds from its source, the more deep and rapid does it become, until every moral barrier and virtuous restraint is swept away, and the sinner abandons himself to the full power and influence of his vicious propensities. Hence, says Paul, speaking prophetically, "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”'

Look at the downward course of the drunkard, the liar, the thief, and the licentious man, as practical illustrations and confirmations of the truth of this position. The beginning may be small, but the end is like the breaking away of dykes, and the letting out of water. Do these facts furnish any proof, or allow any hope even, that all men will be holy and happy?

5. Thousands, resisting all moral restraints and reformative influences, commence active life under depraved principles, increase in depravity as they grow older, and leave this world under the unrestrained influence of vicious indulgence. One is a tippler at twenty-a drunkard at thirty-and at forty dies with the "delirium tremens.” Another is a liar at ten-a thief at twenty -a murderer at thirty--and to escape detection and punishment, ends his life by suicide. And in various ways, tens of thousands live and die, exhibiting no other feelings than hatred of God, and

ness.

love of every thing vicious. Thus we have shown you man, depraved in youth, in manhood, in old age, in death particularly displaying his ruling passion strongly, as far as we can trace him. His course is marked with blackest moral turpitude; and when he leaves our sight, 'tis done by a depraved act of peculiar base

Now, where is he, and what is his moral condition ? Tell me, sir, has he ceased to be depraved? If not, will he cease to be depraved? If so, when, and where, and how? Let me have your demonstration, sir: and recollect, nothing short of demonstration will answer here. We must have something on which the mind can fasten as infallible security. We saw him as he passed, and he was depraved—we saw him when he left the world, and he was still more depraved. By what process is this incarnate devil transformed into an adoring worshipper at God's right hand? We wait for an answer.

In the meantime we remark, the only remedy for the depravity of man, is in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the benefit of this is only enjoyed by those who use the proffered grace, and improve the light reflected upon the mind. This God gives power to do; and yet, as we have seen, many despise and spurn every gracious offer, and rush on madly to ruin. For such there is no hope. “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Thus we have shown, that the depravity of man, in its nature, tendencies and results, goes directly to establish the eternal perdition of the ungodly. Nothing can prevent this issue in regard to every depraved sinner, but his timely appropriation of the appointed remedy. Let Mr. Austin disprove this, if he can.

Let him presenta thus saith the Lord, for the notion that man is to be redeemed and saved from his depravity and misery in a future world, and I promise to give up the point and suspend this discussion.[Time expired.

[MR. AUSTIN'S THIRD REPLY.] Brother Moderators :--In commencing his third speech, the gentleman in the affirmative, introduces the following declaration of the Most High—“The Lord will not cast off forever. But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.”—(Lam. iii. 31-33.) It would be difficult to determine why he called up this passage, in this stage of our discussion, after noticing it before it was introduced in support of the affirmative of the second question. The probability is, however, that after laborious cogitation he fancies he has luckily discovered something that will enable him to weaken the support it yields to the salvation of the world. As usual, when seeking to destroy the most positive declarations of God, the Elder very unceremoniously manufactures a condition, which he tacks to the

passage, and that he fancies, makes it all straight, according to orthodoxy. So ingeniously has this improving of the word of Jehovah been done, that he has metamorphosed one of the most positive declarations against endless punishment, that Deity could utter, or human language express, into a very respectable proof, as he supposes, of the very doctrine which the Creator designed to contradict. God says he “WILL NOT cast off forever!" Mr. Holmes, after having dove-tailed his condition into the passage, would have the audience believe he has adroitly turned it around so that it reads directly backwards, in regard to the meaning God designed it to convey--as follows: “The Lord WILL cast off for ever. Though he cause grief here, yet will he cause greater, even endless, grief hereafter; because he WILL NOT have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he DOTH afflict willingly, and grieve the children of men!!!" I humbly suggest my friend has made rather too free with the declarations of the Almighty! Any reader of the Bible can see at a glance, that there is no conditionality attached to the passage. Whatever the prophet says in the context, either in regard to the rewards God bestows upon the humble and upright, or the punishments he inflicts upon the wicked, in no respect invalidates or weakens the positive assertions of the passage under consideration. While speaking of rewards and punishment, the Most High reveals a primary and fundamental principle in his government, viz. that however severely he may feel it right to punish his disobedient children, yet he will not cast them off for ever ; but that in the midst of judgment he will remember mercy, because his mercies are a vast multitude. And a most satisfactory and gracious reason has been assigned, why the Father of Spirits is thus merciful. “ He doth not afflict willingly, (simply to torment,] nor grieve the children of men !"

But the Elder fancies he has met with a “ windfall.” He has found a passage which utters something about being cast off for

David once said to his son Solomon--"If thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever."-(1 Chron. xxviii. 9.)* But in what sense would he cast him off for ever? Not as his creature---not as his offspring--but as a King: In other words, he would take away his authority, his dominion, as an earthly Ruler. The principle upon which God would continue unto him his kingdom-his regal power and splendor--is laid down in a preceding verse-"I will establish his kingdom for ever, IF he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments as at this day.”——(verse 7.) But if he be not thus constant, then Jehovah would cast him off for ever as King of Israel, and deprive him of the high trusts conferred upon him. But while setting him aside

ever.

* This passage has been omitted in his printed speech.

as an earthly monarch, he would remember mercy as a father, and restore the erring in due time, to holiness and heaven!

My brother opposite insists God does punish men capitally in this life-that sinners sometimes receive as punishment for their crimes, bodily injuries from which they do not recover. In taking this position, Elder Holmes reiterates his belief in punishment in this life. This is a direct blow from his own hand, against his favorite dogma of Endless Punishment. He will not have the hardihood to contend that men will be punished hereafter and forever, on account of deeds for which they have already been punished in this world. But although men do occasionally experience bodily injury, in the present life, as a punishment for sin, this is not a capital punishment, under the government of God. Capital punishment is the highest punishment which a tribunal can inflict on a culprit, and one which removes him beyond its reach, either for good or for evil. But such is not the character of any bodily loss which the government of Heaven inflicts on the sinful in the present existence. It is not capital, because it is not the highest that can be imposed, even in this world. The sting of a guilty conscience is a punishment far more severe and terrible than any bodily injury. It is not capitul because it does not take the culprit beyond the jurisdiction of God. It can endure but for the few years of this life. And this guilty one during life and after death, is still under the control of his Judge, and subject to any influences he may bring to bear upon him. It is not capital, because it is remedial. From any penalty, any suffering, any loss, of a bodily nature, God can bring out good to the soul. He can make it instrumental in working repentance and purification in the hearts of the guilty.

Mr. Holmes insists that men have no power to reform. The supposition that they have, he says, is against facts. He maintains that the world is in a degenerating state where Christianity does not exist, and that Africans and Indians have deteriorated from a former high condition of light and knowledge. There are soine singular things connected with these assertions. If men have no power to reform, pray how can they be censured for not reforming? Moreover, with what blackness does the assertion cover the doc. trine of Endless Punishment! Crush a sensient being down to endless agonies, for failing to do what he had " no power” to do!! The declaration that men have no power to reform, is absurd in every point of view. So far from being supported by “facts," there is not a fact in existence, which does not contradict it. Acknowledging that individuals and nations, under adverse circumstances may deteriorate, yet take any or all such individuals from the influence of these circumstances, place them in an intelligent and religious community-furnish them with competent teachers -and not one of them in possession of a healthy mental organization, but what would rapidly improve in all branches of mental,

moral and religious knowledge! Does any man in his senses doubt this? Then all men have power to reform and improve !

My friend declares the reformation of the guilty, is not the whole object of punishment. I have not pretended it is. There is another ohject, viz: its influence as an example. These two purposes compose the entire design of punishment. Any infliction of pain which aims not at both of ihese objects, cannot claim to be considered punishment. It is nothing less than retaliation and cruelly. And this is precisely the character of the doctrine of Endless Punishment. Its advocates do not pretend it is designed to induce reformation. It inflicts its pangs simply to torment its wretched victims. As to example, it can furnish noihing of this description. It is not inflicted except in another world, when the condition of those who witness it, according to partialism, is irrevocably fixed either for endless joy or endless woe!! Example there, cannot be of the slightest avail

. In support of his position, that Gol's punishments are without remedy-i. e. are endless, brother Holmes quotes two passages from Proverbs. The first is from Prov. xxix. 1 -“ He that, being often reproved, hardneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy". Can it be believed by persons of good sense, that in writing this sentence, Solomon designed to convey the idea, that men who do not repent in this life, shall in the next world, be tormented forever ! This must have been his meaning, if he used the phrase without remedy," as my opponent contends he did. To destroy, literally signifies to annihilate. The passage therefore, is considered in a sense strictly literal, would prove, not endless misery, but the total annihilation of the wicked. As it cannot be supposed the word destroy can have this extreme sense, when used by scripture writers, in refererce to intelligent and moral beings. it is to be understood as indicating severe punishment. In construing this passage my opponent assumes that the hrase “ without remedy,” applies to the nature and duration of the punishment. But this cannot be admitted. I insist it applies to the certainty and not the length of the punishment. As though the wise man had said -" He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be punished, and that without failure !It was his object to warn the sinful, that when they violate the law of God-when they give way to wicked temptations--they cannot escape the just consequences of their demerit. There is no remedy they can apply to save from punishment-no cunningly devised scheme to allow men to riot in sin, and shift the consequences of their guilt upon an innocent substitute. But on their own heads, will come the just penalty of God's violated law.

The other passage quoted by the Eller, was Prov. i. 28-" Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer. They shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.” He would have the audience understand, that the scriptures describe this as the lan

« PreviousContinue »