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men more than they deserve, and thus disregards that fundamental rule in his government which requires him to punish his subjects according to their deeds, it is plain it amounts to the same thing with violating all natural sense of justice. Thus, by adopting other phraseology, the gentleman lays down the same principle again, and calls on me to answer it the second time. Well, as the point is by no means exhausted, but may be answered in different ways, I will accommodate myself to the gentleman's great propensity to multiply what he is pleased to call arguments.
It “violates that fundamental rule in God's government which requires him to punish men according to their deeds." This is a very specious and high-sounding declaration ; but after all the pomp with which it was delivered, it amounts to just nothing.
1. Because it is mere assumption. The gentleman has given us no data, by which to determine the correctness of this allegation. He has furnished us with no standard by which to determine the moral turpitude of sin, nor has he attempted to fix the “quantum sufficit” of punishment, adapted to the different grades of crime. He himself seems in doubt at times, whether the sinner will be punished all he deserves in this life, or whether his punishment must run over into eternity, and continue there an indefinite period. On the principles of Universalism as taught by Winchester, Murray, Skinner, and others, the restoration of the sinner in another world, from a state of sin and punishment, is indefinitely postponed. They are not able to tell when it will occur. But if they cannot tell, and do not know how long the sinner must be punished in the future state, how do they know that endless punishment would violate any fundamental principle of God's govern
How does Mr. Austin know, and how are we to know that endless punishment violates the rule which distributes to evry man according to his deeds, when he has furnished us with no standard by which to graduate the moral turpitude of sin, or the amount of punishment deserved by the sinner as adapted to the different degrees of guilt and crime?
2. This argument, based on a supposed violation of a fundamental rule of God's government, comes directly in contact with a prominent feature of Universalism, viz. that God's government is strictly paternal ; and it also conflicts with the theory of pun. ishment advocated by the gentleman during this discussion, until we commenced debating the third question. That theory is, that God's punishments are always inflicted with direct reference to the reformation of offenders. Now, if God's government be strictly and entirely paternal, and if he never inflicts punishment but with a view to the reformation of the sinner, it is as plain as daylight, that the fundamental rule of God's government which he supposes outraged by endless punishment, has no existence. The moral desert of the transgressor is not a consideration : the question is not what the sinner deserves, but, what is necessary to reform him ;
and by this rule, (on the principles of Universalism,) God deals out his punishments, and by no other rule. Here again my friend is inconsistent with his theory, and inconsistent with himself. His argument, therefore, vanishes away, “and leaves no trace behind." It is really worth the while to inquire here, how many times has the gentleman changed his ground during this controversy? And yet we shall not be able to answer the question in any other than general terms. When he has laid down his premise, constructed his argument, and deduced his conclusion, he has given us no pledge that he will occupy the same ground in his next speech, or that he will advocate principles which can by any means be made to harmonize with what he has already advanced. He has refuted nearly every one of his own arguments, by presenting forthwith some other argument directly or indirectly contra licting it. He has taken so many and various positions, on different and opposite grounds, in relation to many subjects which have come up between us, that but for his voice and gestures, and general “suavitu in modo,” I should scarcely recognize him as the same opponent with which I commenced this debate. My friend has often reminded me of an intemperate student whose name was Ami. Having taken a little too much of the "good creature," on recovering his senses, he found himself in the ditch besmeared with mud. After surveying himself for some time in evident perplexity at his singular attitude, he broke out into the ollowing soliloquy: “Am I Ami, or am I not Ami? If I am ot Ami, who am I ? but if I am Ami, where am I ?" Indeed, should suppose it would be really difficult, by any proof furnished by the unity and harmony of his theology, for the gentleman to determine who he is, or where he is: and but for those more tangible and substantial proofs of the I and me, developed by philosophers, it would seem no easy task for him to maintain his personal identity. But in the third place, apart from all this, it is not true that endless misery in case of the finally incorrigible, violates that fundamental rule of the government of God which awards to every man according to his deeds. So far from this, the system which embraces this doctrine, is the only system which sustains the rule referred to, and vindicates the character of God in a strict and impartial application of it. What is it to render to every man according to his deeds? This is a point left by Mr. Austin in as loose and indefinite a form, as the turpitude of sin, or the “quantum sufficit" of punishment. And yet, unless we know what the rule of retribution is, it is worse than folly to attempt a conclusion respecting the justice or injustice of the divine government.
Our view of this subject'is as fo’lows: 1. The retributive ad. ministration of Gol is adapted to the human constitution, including the freedom of the will, or the power of moral choice. 2. It corresponds with the degree of light which God has afforded his
moral subjects, respecting his law and their duty. 3. The moral responsibility of man graduated just according to the measure of these advantages of constitution, freedom, moral light, and moral motives, all of which make up the moral ability and accountability of the creature. All God's punishments are distributed with strict regard to these facts, without which there could be no accountability, and no retribution. 4. Finally, after warnings and penal visitations, together with gracious calls to repentance during a life of probation, to render to every man according to his works, is to award to them at the last day, the day of final judgment, according to the course of conduct they have pursued, and the moral character they have formed. Hence St. Paul says, God "will render to every man according to his works: to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honor and immortality, he will render eternal life: but to those who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but take pleasure in unrighteousness, he will render tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath
in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” From this decision there is absolutely no appeal.
Mr. Austin's sixth negative argument is, that endless misery destroys the certainty of rewards and punishments in the administration of God. This is verily a curious notion, and as foolish as it is curious. Have we not just quoted from Paul, that God " will render to every man according to his works ? Reward to the good, and punishment to those who are perseveringly and finally wicked, is as sure and certain, as that there is a God whose law and government are extended over his subjects. And it is equally certain, that both the good and bad have in this life the prelude, or first fruits, of what will belong to such characters in the future and endless world. How, then, does the gentleman make out his case ? Why, the sinner may repent and secure pardon: and the good man may apostatize and lose his reward: hence he concludes there is an uncertainty in the administration of justice. This is truly wonderful!!! Let us look at it a little farther. What is it that is uncertain ? Is it uncertain that the good will be saved, and the wicked punished ? No. If the wicked man repents and becomes good, he will be treated according to the new character he has acquired-according to what he is, and not according to what he has been. Is there any thing wrong here? Is there any uncertainty here? Would Mr. Austin have a man punished as a inner after he has become a Christian? I think not, for he has more than once told us that when the sinner repents, he ceases to be punished, and this is all I contend for. Again, when the good man apostatizes, and becomes a wicked, depraved man, God deals with him as a wicked man, according to what he is, and not according to what he has been. Is there any uncertainty here ? Not at all. God's administration is unchangea
ble in its character, and certain in the application of its principles, let man change as he will. Does Mr. Austin object to this? Would he have the bad man rewarded as though he were righteous ? Does he wish the results of vice and virtue to change places, and to have men treated according to what they have bcen, and and not according to what they are ? Let him not contend with me on this point, but go and settle it with inspiration. Did not Christ say to the thief on the cross, " To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise ?" Has Mr. Austin any objection to this? Is there any uncertainty here? Does not Ezekiel say—“When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and commitieth iniquity and dieth in them: for his iniquity that he hath done he shall die ?" Again—"when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive ?" And yet Mr. Austin says these principles, for which I comtend just as here expressed, create uncertainty in the distribution of rewards and punishments, and make the ways of God unequal!! O Universal. ism! “are not the ways of God equal ? are not your ways unequal ?”—(Ezek, xviii. 26, 27.) Mr. Austin says I repudiate reason.
This is not true. I repudiate his view of the use and office of reason in matters of religion, as outright and downright Infidelity. I have endeavored to rescue reason from his abuse of it, and give it, its true relation to the subject of revealed religion. To make human reason the test by which to try, receire or reject, all doctrines of revelation, is to repudiate revelation, by raising the dictates of human reason to an equality with, if not to make them superior to, the voice of God. This is what Mr. Austin does, and is what is done by all Infidels. The office of reason in relation to revealed religion, may
be stated as follows: 1. To determine whether the communication claiming to be a revelation from God, is attended with, and confirmed by, those evidences of divine interposition which are necessary to authenticate a revelation. Besides the collateral and historical proof, the two main branches of testimony are miracles and prophecy. These evidences of divine authority are addressed to our reason, and reason is competent to consider and decide the claim of a reyelation as based upon such proofs. And reason is bound to investigate the evidences, and determine the question of divine author. ship, on the strength of these proofs, in a fair and impartial way, whether the particular doctrines contained in the book he understood, comprehended, or not. Having become satisfied of the divine authority of the revelation, it is then the province and duty of reason,
2. To examine with humility and an honest desire to learn, what God communicates to us in his blessed book. And in performing this work, the same rules are to be applied as in the
interpretation of any other statement or record; for as our only object after the authenticity of the revelation is established, is to discover the sense, or ascertain what is declared to us by God, our reason or judgment is called to precisely the same office, as when the meaning of any other document is in question. Such is the office, and this the limitation of reason, in determining the claims of a professed revelation, and ascertaining the sense and meaning of its language. To carry reason beyond this, is to take it out of its proper sphere, and assign it a task in advance of its actual powers. And this very thing is done by Mr. Austin. He makes it the prerogative of reason to determine beforehand what kind of doctrines à revelation should contain, or after the communication has been made, to judge and decide whether the doctrine involved ought to be received as truth. This is precisely the ground upon which all Infidelity rests, and on which all Infidels assume the right to reject the claims and teachings of divine revelation. But, unless it can be shown that human reason is the same in degree, as well as in kind, with divine reason; that is, commensurate with it as to its powers, and equally incapable of error, the argument against certain doctrines which reason professes not to understand, and because they are not comprehended, is perfectly unsound. “Nothing more is necessary to show the fallacy of this mode of arguing, than to urge the indisputable truth that God is wiser than man, and has endowed man with only a portion of that faculty which he himself, and none other beside him, possesses in absolute perfection."—(Van Mildert.)
Mr. Austin says the great characteristic of the divine mind, is love. That love is a great characteristic of the divine mind I have no doubt, but that it is the greatest, I don't believe. All the attri. butes of the mind of God are infinite; hence, no one is greater than another. God's holiness is as prominent as his love; and there is no principle in the love of God, inconsistent with the holiness of his character, out of which arises his infinite justice. There is as much energy in divine holiness and justice, as in love.
My friend says the existence of a personal devil is a heathen doctrine, and therefore, on the principle he has laid down in regard to heathenism, he is bound to repudiate the idea. Well, if he is intent upon reasoning in this way, let him carry out the argument, and say, the existence of a personal and Supreme Deity was a doctrine of heathenism, therefore the idea is false, and should be repudiated. But let me ask here, where did the New Testament get the idea a personal devil ? Where did Christ get the idea, when he rebuked, cast them out of the possessed, and allowed them to go into the swine-as also, when he speaks of the place of punishment “prepared for the devil and his angels ?" Where did Paul and the other Apostles get the idea ? I know how Universalists dispose of this subject, and I suppose the gentleman, if he says any thing about it, must adopt the same