« PreviousContinue »
tion! He informs us that all tradition can be traced back to some common source. True again. What is the source of this tradition ? Was it revealed to the heathen from God? I deny the assertion. There is no more evidence that he revealed that doctrine to them, than that he revcaled any other of the absurd religious notions prevailing among Pagan nations. The docirine of eternal misery was never revealed by the Deity to the Hebrews. There is no biblical scholar of any note in our day, who claims to find any such doctrine revealed in the Old Testament. Can it consist. enily be supposed that God would reveal such doctrine to the heathen, and withhold it from his ancient people, to whom were delivered the “oracles of truth?” The tradition of endless torments has already been traced to its common source in heathenism, in my thiril reply on this question. I showed that the idea was first suggested among an ignorant and superstitious people, by the custom of depositing the bodies of the dead, in deep and dark caverns and sepulchres.*
My friend doubts whether Sir Isaac Newton was a believer in the salvation of all men. That he departed far from those views which are denominated "evangelical, there can not be a doubt among those who have read his theological writings. Bishop Horsely, the editor of Newton's works, is charged with suppresing some of his manuscripts, which would undoubtedly have thrown more light upon his religious views. But that the great philosopher rejected the doctrine of the endless perpeluity of misery, is true beyond a doubt.1 Rev. Wm. Whiston, known throughout the world, as the translator of the works of Josephus, who was an intimate friend of Sir Isaac Newton, his assistant while Professor of Mathematics in Cambridge Universiiy, and successor to Sir Isaac in that Professorship, and who had the best opportunity of knowing his real religious opinions, declares that Newton's views were precisely the same as his, on the subject of Endless Punishment. And it is well known that Whiston deci. dedly rejected that doctrine, and published several works against it. The Elder asserts that Newton was greatly offended with Whiston for representing him as an Arian. This may be. It is very possible he was not an Arian, and yet was a believer in the salvation of all mankind. It was not uncommon for Trinitari. ans to be Universalists in those days. Indeed there is reason to believe it was considered a greater offence at that time, to deny the Trinity, than to object to the doctrine of endless suffering. That Newton rejected the latter sentiment, is unquestionably true, however far he may have been removed from Arianism.
See p. 494.
1 In his paraphrase on Rev. xiv. 10, 11, he says— The degree and duration of the torments of these degenerate and anti-Christian people, should be no other than would be approved of by those angels who had ever labored for their salvation, and that Lam' who had redeomed them with his most precious blood."
Mr. Holmes even goes so far as to question whether Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the immortal signers of the Declaration of Independence, was a Universalist. This would be laughable, did it not show an unblushing effrontery, at making reckless assertions "hit or miss,” without the slightest knowledge, or apparently the slightest care, whether they are true or false!! There is no more doubt in regard to the fact that Dr. Rush was a Universalist, than there is that John Murray or Elhanan Winchester, were believers in that doctrine. Dr. Rush was the warm supporter and intimate friend of Winchester-attended his meeting in Philadelphia, and corresponded with him while he was in Europe. If the Elder wants documents on this subject, I can furnish him with an abundant supply.* True, he admired the writings of Fletcher and Wesley, and other Methodists; but it was only because he believed they inculcated sentiments preferable to Calvinism, and which led directly to Universalism.t I ask the audience what reliance they can place on the positions of a man who will thus blindly make assertions, not only unsupported by facts, but directly in the face of the most incontrovertible evidence!! Another thing. Elder Holmes alledges that I took most of my “string of names," as he sneeringly denominates my list of eminent men, and many other facts I have introduced, from a Universalist Alтапас ! The object of this fabrication was to cast suspicion upon my sources of information. The charge and the intention are unworthy any respectable gentleman. Not a fact, not a word, introduced into this discussion, have I taken from a Universalist Almanac, or Register, or any thing of the kind. I feel that it is degrading to notice assertions so low and base. I do it only to point the public to specimens of the spirit and principles of action by which my opponent is governed !!
Permit me here to introduce my twelfth Negative Argument. The system of doctrines, of which Endless Punishment forms the centre and soul, represents the Deity as dependent on man, for the accomplishment of his purposes. My friend opposite, will allow -has already allowed—that God created mankind originally de
• While Winchester was in London, Dr. Rush addressed him a letter dated Phil. adelphia, May 11, 1791, in which he says—“ The Universal doctrine prevails more and more in our country, particularly among persons eminent for their piety, in whom it is not a mere speculation, but a new principle of action in the heart, prompting to practical golliness.”
In another letter to Winchester in London, dated Philadelphia, Nov. 12, 1791, Dr Ruzh uses the following language--- Your funeral sermon for Mr. John Wes. ley, does honor to the philanthropy of your Universal principles. I admire and honor that great man above any man that has lived since the time of the Apostles. His writings will ere long revive in support of our doctrine. For'if Christ died for all, as Mr. Wesley always taught, it will soon appear a necessary consequence that ALL shall be saved !!" There was not a little sympathy between Methodists and Universalists in those
signing to bring the entire race to a state of holiness and happie
Moreover, he will acknowledge that the Father sent the Son to save all men, and that in his gospel the most abundant provisions are made for the salvation of every human being ! Will these gracious purposes--these benevolent designs—be accomplished ? His system declares they will not. And why? Because the CREATURE will not be saved-will not ACCEPT the terms of salvation-will not ALLOW God save him in his own way!!
If this is a true statement of the case, the creature overthrows the plans of the Creator. Does not this unavoidably make the Deity dependent on man for the fulfillment of his purposes ? If man will do certain things—if man will comply with certain terms—then God can accomplish his original purposes. But if man will not lend his aid—if he will not perform a certain part of the work—then it is impossible for the designs of the Creator to be accomplished !! Who does not see that this makes Jehovah dependent on a worm of the dust, for carrying forward to a successful issue, his divine and infinite plans? It makes “ the hinge,” the turning point, of those plans, to rest in the most weak, fickleminded and uncertain of creatures, rather than in God, the most mighty, wise, able and sure of all beings!! Why should the Creator allow this? Why should he disrobe himself of that which would give infinite CERTAINTY to all his primary designs towards his offspring, and place it upon the shoulders of ig. norant man, where he knew it would be in the very midst of UNCERTAINTY? No reason can be assigned for a transaction so destructive. Hence whoever adopt such an idea, must believe it in direct violation of their own good sense ! We may be sure Jehovah has not delegated to other beings, nor put away from himself, for any cause, that which is essential to give success to all his measures for man's salvation. Within his own infinite na. ture and endless rescources, there is an abundant sufficiency 10 carry into execution every design and plan he has formed in regard to his creatures. No being in heaven or on earth, can thwart his will. To none has he given the power to overturn his purposes ! If men possess an ability to frustrate the designs of God at one time, they may at another. If they can annul his purpose to save them, they can annul his purpose 10 damn them !! How absurd the idea that Deity will permit bis creatures to thwart his efforts to make them endlessly happy, and will not permit them to thwart his efforts to make them endlessly miserable. All such errors should be abandoned. Jehovah's Will is the Sovereign Arbiter of all events. His Will is able to make man's will the agent to accomplish its designs—“Of his own Will begat he us with the word of truth."- (James i. 18.) “It is God which worketh in you, both to WILL and to DO, of his good pleasure !" -- (Phil. ii. 13.)
My thirteenth Negative Argument, is that the doctrine of End.
less Punishment dishonors God, and disgraces Christ. It represents God as creating mankind under such circumstances, that a large portion fall into unending blasphemy and woe. Is not this casting dishonor upon his good name? Jehovah formed the human race for his own pleasure—" Thou hast created all things ; and for thy PLEASURE, they are and were created.” —(Rev. iv. 11.) God took pleasure in man's creation. He took pleasure not only in the act of his creation, but in the end for which he was created. As Deity is omniscient—as all eternity is NOW to him —that end was clearly seen and known to him. And if to any of his creatures it is an end of agony and sin, God who saw it, and knew it, must have taken PLEASURE in it. Surely he would not create any for an end in which he did not take pleasure! Hence, this doctrine virtually charges an infinitely holy Be. ing with taking pleasure in a state of endless sin and woe!! Does not this dishonor God ?
In whatever way it may be supposed man will become an endless sufferer and blasphemer, it equally dishonors God. If we say with the Presbyterians, that God from all eternity reprobated a part of mankind to eternal woe, we dishonor him by dishonoring his benevolence, his goodness, and his mercy! If we take the ground of our Methodist brethren, and while contending that the Creator designed all to be happy, insist also that his plans to accomplish that design have most signally failed-yea, that God knew they would fail; knew that all his provisions and offers would be in vain ; knew that a large part would forever be sinful and wretched, when he made them-we should deeply dishonor Gou, by dishonoring his Wisdom, his Power, and all his most important attributes.
This doctrine also disgraces Christ. His Father sent him to save all men, and he came expressly to perform that great and good work. He had ample POWER to complete it He declares, “ All power is given unto me in heaven, and in earth.”(Matt. xxviii. 18.) Will Jesus succeed in this holy work? The doctrine my friend advocates, declares he will not! It insis!s he will meet with a great overthrow—an almost total rout!! It declares his adversary, the Devil, will succeed in robbing him • vast myriads of those for whom he died! It proclaims a migh victory for the Devil! It insists that the Son of God will ret: to his Father, suffering under an eternal defeat, with but a si remnant of those he was sent to save--that the conquero. wreath shall be snatched from his brow by the arch Adversary, who shall remain forever undestroyed, unconquered !!-A consummation which would make all Heaven MOURN, and all Hell REJOICE!! I insist that a doctrine which makes such representations, casts deep disgrace on the Son of God!! How ditferent, far different, does the opposite sentiment represent, exalt, and honor him!!
My Fourteenth Negative Argument, is that endless misery is not recognized in their devotional exercises, by any of the patriarchs, prophets, saints or righteous men, mentioned in the scriptures. If the doctrine is true, they must have been acquainted with it, and must have felt exposed to it. Yet in no instance in the Bible, does any one pray that it may be true, or give thanks that it is true. Neither did they pray that endless woe might be inflicted on any human being! The prayers of David went as far in that direction as any recorded in the scriptures. · But the most he did was to pray for the destruction of his enemies—by which he meant their temporal overthrow and death. Why did not the ancient prophets and saints pray that Endless Punishment might come upon the sinful ? If it is a just and salutary doctrine, and God designs to inflict such a punishment, why did they not pray that it might overtake them ?
The scriptures are full of the confessions of the servants of God, in relation to their own sin and its punishment; but in no case do they confess that they were justly exposed to eternal woe, or exposed to it in any way or form!. Would they not have done so, had they believed in such a doctrine ? Believers in it in these days, very frequently confess in their prayers, that it would have been just in God to have cut them off forever. (Do they believe a word of it, when they say so ?) The saints never pray thus in the Bible! Why not? Neither do they give thanks that they have been rescued from endless suffering. This they would most naturally have done, had they believed they were exposed to it. The believers in that sentiment render such thanks in our days.
The ancient saints and righteous men, never prayed that 'themselves, or their friends, might be saved from endless woe. If they believed themselves exposed to it, why did they not put up such a petition ? Nothing would be more proper, nothing more natural, than such prayers. The modern believers in that sentiment often pray in such, manner. Indeed petitions that they may not be cast into endless perdition, forms the great theme of most of the prayers of modern orthodox professors. No such petition ever escaped from the lips of those whose prayers are mentioned in the Bible. Christ in that beautiful prayer which he designed as a sample for the imitation of all christians, gives no direction to beseech God to be saved from interminable woe! His prayer is, " Deliver us from Evil,” not deliver us from end. less punishment, as it would have been on my brother's theory. The silence of all the prayers in the Bible on this subject, is most remarkable, on the supposition that the doctrine is true! That silence is strong proof that such a sentiment is false !-[ Time expired.