Page images
PDF
EPUB

persons, and for sinister ends, charged with being unsound on the doctrine of the Trinity. Dr. Brewster vindicates him from the charge of heterodoxy; and M. Biot has remarked, that "there is absolutely nothing in the writings of Newton to justify, or even to authorize the idea that he was an anti-trinitarian." Newton repelled the insinuation with indignation. He was so offended with Mr. Whiston for having represented him as an Arian, that he would not permit him to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society while he was President. I assert this on the authority of Dr. Brewster, who wrote the life of Newton. There is a gentleman here who is somewhat acquainted with the writings of Newton -has read his life, and gives it as his opinion, that he was a Calvinist, of moderate views. But whether Calvinist or Arminian in his theological views, it is quite certain he was not a Universalist.

I find also the name of Dr. Thomas Dick set down amongst those claimed as believers in the dogmas of Universalism, but not only without authority, but directly in the face of his repeated and published declarations. In his “ Philosophy of Religion," after many and various illustrations of the influence of depraved passion on the happiness of men, he remarks as follows: "We cannot form a more dreadful picture of future punishment, than by conceiving the principles of falsehood, deceit, and malignity, and the passions of pride, hatred, malice, and revenge, raging with uncontrolled and perpetual violence. The effects produced by the uncontrolled operation of such principles and passions, would be such as may be fitly represented by the emblems of the 'worm that never dies,' of devouring fire, and of their necessary concomitants, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.' What other ingredients of misery, arising either from local circumstances, from recollections of the past, or the anticipation of the future, may be mingled with the cup of future woe, it becomes not us particularly to determine." And as "such a punishment produces no virtuous results or tendencies, he concludes, " that the misery of wicked intelligences, will continue as long as they remain in existence.” In his Future State, he remarks as follows: “As the peace and serenity of virtuous minds are preludes of pobler enjoyments in a future life, so those terrors which now assail the wicked, may be considered as the beginnings of that misery and anguish which will be consummated in the world to come, in the case of those who add final impenitence to all their other crimes." On another page, speaking of careless and sensual worldlings, he describes them as “ entirely regardless whether they shall sink into the gulf of annihilation, or into the regions of endless perdition.” We will give one specimen more. He quotes with approbation the language of Hieronymus—" whether I eat or drink, or in whatever other action or employment I am engaged, that solemn voice always seems to sound in my ears, 'awake ye dead

and come to judgment.? As often as I think of the day of judgment, my heart quakes and my whole frame trembles. If I am to indulge in any of the pleasures of the present life, I am resolved to do it in such a way that the solemn realities of the future judgment may never be banished from my recollection.”— (Sec. 7 and 11.) Mr. Austin also embraces Dr. Franklin in his list of Universalists, and all the proof adduced is, that he • believed no form of Christianity worthy the name, which does not embrace the reconciliation of a lapsed world in its provisions," or something to this amount. If there be any thing peculiar in the signification of this remark, it was doubiless intended to distinguish his views from the rigid Calvinism generally preached in his day. The language is such as would be used by any intelligent Arminian for such a purpose.

If Franklin should be regarded as properly a believer in Christianity at all, (a question not yet fully settled,) he unquestionably received it on the basis of a general atonement. But if he were a Deist, (as some suppose,) his Deism was superior to the present form of Universalism, inasmuch as it embraced the doctrine of retribution in a more consistent aná higher sense. Whatever else he may have been, we have no evidence that he was a Universalist.

Did time permit, I might go on in this way to the end of Mr. Austin's chapter on illustrious Universalists, adding fresh evidence at every step, of the reckless manner in which he makes assertions. I trust, however, I have given sufficient proof that the long string of names read to us, was got up merely for effect, and is entitled to no sort of confidence. Why the gentleman should think it for his interest to pursue such a course, I can no more tell, than I can tell why it has been asserted that my moderator, Dr. White, has become a Universalist since the commencement of this discussion.

Mr. Austin.—By whom?

MR. HOLMES.—I know not, nor do I care by whom; the fact is before us, and affords a practical illustration of the manner in which Universalists multiply their converts. In this way we shall all be Universalists soon.

MR. AUSTIN.-I hope so.

MR. HOLMES.-And I suppose the gentleman not only hopes so, but would feel at perfect liberty to say so, when he could serve his purpose hy it

, without the fear of contradiction. The canor and integrity of such proceedings, however, will be duly appreciated by the audience and public.*

Since this debate was held, it has come to me in different ways, that Univer. salists who were not present, have confidently asserted that I renounced my views during the discussion, and had embraced Universalism. Where did they get this intelligence ?

Intent upon making capital in some way out of John Calvin, Mr. Austin introduces his peculiar views again. I remarked, a day or two since, if John Murray could return to this world, he would find his professed successors publishing a very different doctrine from that which he taught. Mr. Austin thinks the same would be true of Calvin. That the system taught by Calvin has been slightly modified since his day, is very true, but there is a marked difference in the two cases. The first error, the starting point of Universalism, was the rejection of the plain teachings of the Bible on the subject of future punishment. But from the beginning it has gone on “waxing worse and worse.” The loose and rationalistic method of interpretation adopted in the rejection of endless punishment, has served as an entering wedge io still farther encroachments upon Bible truth. One doctrine after another has been surrendered, until not a single element of Evangelism remains, and the system stands before the world stamped with the prominent features of skepticism. Calvin's error related to the universality of the Atonement, and the provision made for lost men, arising out of his peculiar views of predestinalion. This was his starting point. But, has this error exerted the same deleterious influence upon the evangelical part of his theory, which we have seen to be true in the case of Universalism? By no means. The Infidelity of Murray's theory has leavened the whole lump, but Calvin's error has submitted to modification under the evangelical influence of his general system. Instead of growing worse, it has become belter, Mr. Austin himself being judge. Here is the important difference in the two cases.

Mr. Austin has attempted to excite prejudice in the minds of the mothers of this audience, on supposition that I have taught the total depravity of infunts. Need I say that I have neither taught, nor believe this? I have said, and now repeat, that if men had been allowed to exist after the Adamic apostacy with. out redemption, or any of the gracious infuences arising therefrom, they would have been in a condition of total depravity. But as this is not the case—as Christ has died for all the morally dead, all are raised above a state of total depravity, in just so far as they are the subjects of gracious influence arising from redemption. As to the moral condition of infants, it is clearly a Bible doctrine, that they are born in a state of justification. Hence, Paul-Rom. v. 18--"As by the oflence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” It was on this broad and general ground of the atonement, that Christ when on earth, took infants in his arms and blessed them, saying, "suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid thein not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Mothers, what do you think of this prominent feature of my theological system? Does this look like total depravity? As an unconditional benefit

of the Atonement, your infants are in a state of personal justification, and have the benediction of the Savior. Nor will they ever lose this, except by personal, voluntary transgression, after having passed to maturer years. Mr. Austin asks, “what was the condition of those who died before Christ came into the world ?" I am astonished at the gentleman's limited knowledge of theology, if such remarks indicate the real measure of his attainments in this sublime science. Does he not know that Christ is announced in the Bible as “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world ?: That in the purpose of God, the Atonement was as really made before the tragic scenes of Calvary occurred, as it has been since the actual crucifixion of the Son of God? and that the unconditional blessings of the Atonement were as ample and general, in the days of the patriarchs, as in those of the apostles? If he does not understand these things, I greatly marvel ; but if he does, why ask such questions?

Let us now take another advance step in the main argument. My eighth argument is based on

THE MORAL TURPITUDE OF SIN. And besides directly supporting the affirmative of the question under debate, it will serve also as a reply to Mr. Austin's seventh negative proof.

We have already seen how Universalism rids itself of the moral turpitude of sin; it is, first, by making it the result of physical organization; and secondly, by lowering the standard of divine requirement, making the law of God not the embodiment of moral perfection, but simply the rule of physical, intellectual and moral action, founded in, and arising out of the human constitution. If the law violated be in man only, as is asserted by standard works on Universalism, the turpitude of sin must be graduated accordingly. If we take such groveling views of the law, and of sin, we ought, in order to be consistent, to dispense at once with all positive punishments. The law that man violates is in himself, and let that law see to it that the punishment is inflicted. But this is wrong, all wrong. It commences wrong, hence must be wrong in the conclusion. The turpitude of sin arises from other and higher considerations.

1. Sin must take its moral turpitude from the nature of the obligations violated. These oblígations are infinite. They are comprised in the following particulars.

First. What God has done for us. He has given us existence under circumstances which stamp the character of man with great dignity and nobleness. He has given him powers which he may improve until carried forward to the heights of heaven--he may pass the point now occupied by the highest arch-angel who bask's in the sunlight of divine glory: God has also given us the means and motives for maintaining our state of purity, and completing our preparation for heaven. And when in neglect, violation and ingratitude, we fell from that state of purity, he gave his only begotten Son to redeem us, and restore us to divine favor, happiness and heaven.

Secondly. An obligation to God is commensurate to the infinite loveliness of his character. God is a being of infinite moral beauty and perfection; infinite wisdom, goodness and holiness. We are therefore, under infinite obligations to love and obey him. To refuse to do so, to trample under foot his laws and spurn his authority, would certainly imply a degree of moral turpitude not to be measured by any human standard. The man who insults a dumb beast without reason, is blameworthy, but if he insults and abuses his follow man, he is liable to civil pains and penalties; but if he insults law and justice in the person of a Magistrate or Governor, or if he attempts to subvert a lawful and righteous government, or defeat its wise and benevolent ends, the turpitude of his offence is increased in a ratio corresponding to the dignity, authority and goodness against which it is committed ; he is guilty of high treason, and may, without any injustice, be deprived of the blessings of the government. What, then, shall we say of the turpitude of a willful and deliberate offence, committed against the person and dignity of an all-perfect God, and in violation of such infinite obligations as rest upon us to love and serve him?

Thirdly. In connection with this, take the infinite perfection of the divine law, so "holy, just, and good.” It is the brightest efflux of his essential wisdom, the visible beauty of the Most High. It is perfectly adapted to exalt and make happy the moral subject. Were it a man's law, or a mean, ill-adapted, unjust law, the turpitude of offence against it would be graduated accordingly. But it is the standard of moral perfection to the whole universe; infinitely perfect in its glorious nature, infinitely good in its designs.

II. Sin takes its moral turpitude from the evil at which it aims. It is the direct opposite of holiness. If holiness be an infinite good, sin is an infinite evil, because it displaces holiness just so far as it prevails. It aims at subverting God's moral government; it therefore aims at accomplishing an infinite evil. As it can only increase with the diminution of happiness, it is the murderer of earth and the foe of heaven. If endless holiness would be an infinite good to any intelligent being, for the reason that sin displaces holiness, endless sin would be an infinite evil.

We have thus developed the main points which concur in fixing the character of sin. It is the transgression of an infinite law, in violation of infinite obligations, committed against the goodness and authority of an Infinite Being-and opposes and displaces infinite good. Sin is therefore in its nature, designs and results, an infinite evil. We can now understand why God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity with approbation—" cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." O sir, it is a

« PreviousContinue »