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fearful thing to trifle with the turpitude of sin. Shall we stand up here under these circumstances, and brave God's throne, and charge him with injustice in excluding from the blessings of his government, those who love sin, are determined to practice it, and who, by a long course of willful rebellion, have contracted such dreadful guilt? And this moral guilt is enhanced by the rejection of the offers of salvation through a Redeemer. What does Paul say of such? “ There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversary.”- (Heb. x. 27.)
I might appeal to every experienced Christian in this assembly for a confirmation of the views of the deep spiritual character of the law, and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The nearer we get to God, in the experience of divine things, the greater is our sense of the evil and guilt of sin, and the more are we impressed with the condescension of God in providing a way of salvation.
My ninth argument, which I will introduce next, is drawn from
THE APPROVAL OF THE MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. We have already shown that nothing can be inferred from the attributes of God alone, respecting the future and endless destinies of men: that there are but two ways in which we can ascertain what is, or is not consistent with the divine attributes. 1. By the facts developed under his government. 2. By the declarations of his word. So far as facts are concerned, they support, most decidedly, the doctrine for which I contend. The audience cannot have failed to perceive this during the progress of this discussion. As to the declarations of God's word, we expect to show on this question as we have on the others, that we are abundantly sustained. What I wish now to say, is, that the moral attributes of God, as revealed in the Bible, not only do not afford any evidence against the affirmative of this question, but do really approve and support it.
“God is Love.” Divine love, though not an attribute, is a moral affection. But love in God is not weakness: a sickly sort of sentimentalism, as Universalism would have it, possessing neither eyes, nor ears, nor reason. The possession of such an affection would deprive him of the dignity and perfection of God, and render him unworthy the confidence of his creatures. God's love must move in harmony with his wisdom, holiness and justice; otherwise, it is not love, but weakness. God can love nothing that is not lovely. But sinners are not lovely either in their character or conduct; therefore God cannot love sinners. Here a distinction is to be made between compassion and complacency. It was the love of compassion that led the Divine Being to give his Son to die for the salvation of sinners. But divine compassion does not, of itself, constitute intelligent beings happy. There are thousands for whom divine compassion has provided happiness, who nevertheless are not happy, but quite the contrary. Men cannot be happy without being brought to experience God's complacent love, and this can never be, except through that system of moral means brought in by the atonement, and which man has power to despise and reject. God's complacent love never visits and blesses a sinful being, without due regard to the character and claims of every attribute of the divine nature. Moreover, the goodness and love of God, approve the inflictions of justice. They were present during those signal displays of vengeance which have marked the divine administration in his universe, of which we have striking examples recorded in scripture. When the inhabitants of the old world were destroyed by a flood -when the cities of the plain were consumed by fire-when thousands fell by the burning displeasure of God, in the camp of Israel, and the company of Korah were engulphed in the yawning earth-and when the host of Pharaoh was overwhelmed in the Red sea-divine goodness and love were present on all these occasions, consenting and approving the inflictions demanded by holiness and justice, and joining in the song of the Israelites--" the Lord hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
The most affecting instance of divine goodness to men, is found in the gift of his Son. But this was not to force salvation upon us, irrespective of our will and agency. Such a course would harmonize neither with the love, holiness, and justice of God, nor with the elevated character of man, as a rational and accountable being. The improvement of the gospel is left to our choice, and the rejection of it will be visited with a marked and terrible vengeance. And when those for whom Christ died, despise the riches of his grace, and force themselves obstinately from the embrace of mercy, God's love will approve their final perdition, and he will appear glorious in his holiness and justice, when the decision of the last day shall be given, "depart ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels," while divine love will sanction the shout of approbation from all holy beings ~"Just and righteous are thy ways, Lord God Almighty." My tenth argument is based on the doctrine of
HUMAN PROBATION. Probation is from the Latin word probo, and the corresponding Greek, Dokisnazo, and signifies, to examine into the goodness or fitness of any thing or person-to prove: and in the passive form is applied to those who have been tested as to their qualifications for entering upon some place or office of trust and distinction.
The ground we take is, that the whole human race is in a state of probation or trial, for a higher and better state, so far as they are now responsible for their conduct.
We argue this from the fact
1. That men are now upon a theatre of action from which there is more than one possible issue, and the particular nature of the issue is to be determined by the character of human conduct. In ordinary cases it would be enough to state the subject in this form, but we will illustrate what we mean, by a few examples. The husband, the wife, have entered upon the career of domestic life. To that career there is more than one possible issue. It may be attended with happiness, and end in peace and honor or with misery, and end in separation and disgrace. If they have children, those children may be happy and useful, or vicious in principle ani practice, and bring down the gray hair of their parents in sorrow to the grave. The issue to this career will be good or evil, prosperous or otherwise, according to the course of action and conduct pursued by the parties on whom devolve the responsibilities of ihe domestic circle: and herein, is both an illustration and proof of the doctrine of probation.
The student is on probation for a place among the literati of the age. To his career there is more than one possible issue. If he perseveres in diligent application to study, he will crown his brow with literary honors; but if he spends his time in idleness, he will never reach the goal-never enjoy the prize.
The same principle, or doctrine of probation, governs the condition and happiness of all classes of men, proving that even in this life, men are placed in a state of probation for a better state than that now enjoyed, and an advanced condition of happiness; and that whether they rise to that better state, and enjoy that advanced condition of happiness or not, is to be determined by the improvement they make of their powers and blessings.
Here I anticipate what may be the reply of Mr. Austin, viz. “that though men are placed in a state of probation for happiness for this life, yet this is not true of the life to come, where happiness is made sure to all, whether they will or no.” To this allegation I invite particular attention, and in reply remark,
1. It is wholly an assumed position. I know of no fact in nature or revelation which authorizes it. Let a single well established fact under the government of God in this world, which authorizes such a supposition, be quoted, or give us a thus saith the Lord—“ man's future happiness and salvation does not depend in any degree upon his conduct in this life”—this will be something to the purpose; but until this is done, the assertion to which we reply, has no higher proof of its correctness than the ipse dixit of my friend.
2. Nor is this all; the assumption that this world is not a probation for another, is opposed by the argument from analogy. This argument is founded upon the fact, that the constitution of things in the moral world is established and unchangeable. That this is a fact, I presume no one will dispute. Even Mr.
Austin says in his " Voice to Youth,” “ the Creator has established moral laws for the government of the human race, which are as sure in their operations, and as undeviating in their effects, as his natural laws, although their movements and influences are not so evident to the eye of the spectator.” And a little farther on he says, " this principle in morals is as immutably fixed as the pillars of Jehovah's throne.” Now on this very fixed and established constitution of the moral world, do I predicate, as one of its main pillars, the doctrine of human probation for happiness in another world. For, as the moral constitution of man is adapted to the moral government of God, if one is fixed and immutable, so is the other: if not, there is no correspondence between them. If the time shall ever come when the laws of man's moral nature change, there must be a corresponding change in the moral government of God, in order to preserve the harmony. But if both are unchangeable, as they certainly are, then the analogical argument for human probation is irresistible. We have already seen what results follow human conduct in this world. Thousands fail of securing the great objects of existence as pertaining to this life, by a misimprovement of time, talents, and advantages, given them by their benefactor that they might reach and secure those objects. And as the moral laws, both of man and the divine government, are immutable as “the eternal throne;" hence, the results which flow from their operations here, must always exist, unless a change be made in the laws; the developments seen in this lise, are an illustration and pledge of the results of human conduct in the life to come. This fact is so obvious and irresistible, as to have extorted from Rev. Hosea Bal. lou, 2d, the following: “Character is not as a garment that one may wrap over us, or strip off from us without our agency. It is integral with ourselves : it is the product of our mental growth, the result of a voluntary process of development. Circumstances and influences may hasten or retard this development, or be the occasion of its taking a new direction ; but it is a process still, an internal one; having its immediate cause in our will. * Unless the universal chain of cause and effect are [is] cut off at death, whatsoever he (man) has become, up to this event, must influence the character which he now has, so as to make it different than it would otherwise be. Just how it will affect him in subsequent stages of his development, amidst the multitude of other influences, we may not be able so positively to determine: but the general fact appears certain." That is, the general fact that man's conduct in this life, influences his condition in the next, that his character at death will go with him into eternity.-(Universalist Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2.) No discerning mind can fail to perceive how fully this sustains my argument on probation, and how completely it wrecks the hopes which have been usually based on Universalisin.
3. Once more, the assertion that man is not a probationer for another life, is a contradiction of the voice of revelation,
1. Tim. iv. 8-“Golliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Rev. ii. 10—“ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Rom. ii. 6-16--"Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life : but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil;
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." These are a few of the many passages which establish the doctrine of human probation. This argument commends itself to the common sense of every man who is willing to be governed by common sense. And I am gratified, that after appealing to passions, prejudices and sympathies, until the audience has become sensible of a painful nausea, the gentleman has for once appealed to common
I hope now he will stick to the text in a common sense way, and when I speak again, I will give him a few additional thoughts on the same subject.
I have now presented ten of the affirmative proofs which I depend on to sustain my position. The most of these are founded on established facts and fundamental principles. Mr. Austin has talked around and around them, without really getting hold of them. Occasionally he has approached one of these facts or principles, as though he intended to grapple it, but ere he reached it, he has darted off in another direction, and left the threatened fortress in all its strength and beauty. Let the gentleman understand, and the audience remember, that no arts of sophistry, rhetorical flourish, or felicity of expression, can supply the place of correct logic and sound argument. He must take hold of these fundamental principles, shake their firmness, and tear away their fastenings, or his labor is wholly lost. To this work I invite him.
Mr. Austin says death will be destroyed. Granted, though the only proof he has of it, is by the signification of the same words which declare the future destruction of the sinner. However, the death referred to by the Apostle in this case, is, as Mr. Austin very well knows, the death of the body, which is to be destroyed by the general resurrection : but the death to which I allude in my argument, is moral death, on which a physical resurrection can exert no influence. My friend must try again, therefore, before he hits the point; meantime, let him prove what he has yet failed to do—that there is life in death. Is a man dead while there is yet life in him ? Is he alive after life has become extinct? If he is, there is a possibility that the life