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is true, all these worthies are now in hell! If this doctrine is true, thousands of those who foughtthe battles of the Revolution—who spilled their blood for our benefit-who laid down their lives to establish our Independence-when slaughtered in contending for liberty, were plunged straight from the battle field, into the lowest depths of hell !! Can you believe all this? You must if you believe the doctrine which is maintained here by my opponent! If you reject these terrible results, you must reject the doctrine which teaches them!
My seventeenth Negative Argument is that the doctrine of Endless Punishment, reduces religion to a matter of mere selfish and sordid calculation. According to the system on which this doctrine is founded, God made the worlu designing all to he holy and happy. But he was disappointed in his plans and expectations. Every thing fell into ruins the moment the mechanism of human existence which God had constructed, went into operation. Instead of all men becoming holy and happy, as the Deity supposed they would, all became exposed to the terrific burnings of an endless hell! Religion is supposed to be the only way and means of escape from that hell. To effect such an escape is believed to be the sole object of religion. It is all that God designed it for, and all it is good for. If it would not do this for its professors, they think it would not be of the slightest value. So far, and so long, as religion will open a way whereby men who have “ rolled sin as a sweet morsel under their tongues,” can escape eternal perdition, and gain heaven, so far, and so long, do they esteem it of importance! But if Religion will not do this-if it is not designed to save men from hell, and open the gates of heaven-if it has nothing to do with rescuing souls from infinite wrath--they can conceive no object in being religious, no call for religion, and no work for it to do!! Such is tbe principle upon which our Evangelical brethren, according to their own showing, practice religion! Do I mistake this subject? I appeal to the experience of all my audience, and the public at large, for the truth of my declaration ! What is the great theme, the general drift of the preaching of the divines of that school? There is a remarkable unanimity among them in this respect, if in no other. However learned or unlearned, however polished or uncouth, however eloquent and profound, or shallow and puerile, their discourses may be--all their serinonizing, from the lowest exhorter, to the highest D. D.-all their prayers, ordinances, forms and ceremonies-have but one object, one begining, one endling, one body, one soul, one everything, viz : the necessity of struggling to ESCAPE HELL and GAIN HEAVEN!!! I do not say that this forms the theme of all their sermons, exhortations, etc. But this is the foundation on which all are based-this is the feature that gives shape and color to all they utter. The great mass of believers in that doctrine form no higher conception of the object of religion. They can see nothing in it more pure, spiritual, disinterested, elevated and honorable, than to snatch blind and erring creatures froin the fury of-their Father in Heaven !!
Another evidence that these statements are correct, is the unbounded and really unfeigned surprise which so many express, that any class of men can be religious, who do not believe God has prepared a hell, where he will torment his children forever! They cannot imagine what such strange people can have to make them religious. As for loving, obeying, serving and worshipping Go not through fear that he will torment them forever, but from admiration of his character, reverence of his name and government, and gratitude for his blessings—they cannot conceive how such motives can make men religious !! Hence, we hear it so oiten said—“ If I believed as some do-if I believed there was no endless punishment to be endured-if I believed all men will be saved
- I would rush into sin I would drink my fill of wickedness -I would cheat, steal, rob and murder, and riot all my life in corruption!!". What a depraved heart! Does not such language, which is often uttered, fully corroborate all I have said ? Subtract the fear of hell from such hearts, and how much real, pure religion would be left? I sometimes fear, were an angel to descend from heaven, and proclaim to the world with a trumpet “God has no design to torment his creatures forever--there is no Endless Hell,” that every evangelical church on earth would be instantly abandoned and left to silence and desolation. In such a case, according to their own showing, the moving spring which urges that class to worship would be wanting! Can it be believed the true religion revealed from heaven, exerts an influence so sordid and sellish as this?-[ Time expired.
[MR. HOLMES' NINTH SPEECH.] Gent. Moderators and respected auditors :--I have not for a single moment during this discussion, lost sight of the responsibility which rests upon me, as the advocate of important divine truth, in opposition to the insidious and malignant attacks of error. I hope I may still retain and never lose this feeling of responsibility. As the most of my last speech was employed in direct arguments for the affirmative of this question, I will devote my first time in this speech to a consideration of the opposing allegations and proofs of Mr. Austin.
In the gentleman's reply to my argument on the conditionality of salvation, he endeavors to convict me of teaching salvation by works, not by grace. If he cannot see the difference between conditions and merit, his obtuseness may furnish an apology for his misapprehension. I can account for it in no other way, only on supposition of general ignorance of critical and systematic
theology, or a deliberate design to misrepresent. He says the Methodists are in the fog on this point. Perhaps they are ; but if so, they are not likely to obtain much relief from his theory, The truth is, Mr. Austin has allowed himself to make loose and random remarks on the subject of grace, as it stands connected with salvation, which convict him of great want of information as to what the Methodist view is. I will enlighten him a little on this head. The 9th and 10th Articles of Religion of the M. E. Church, read as follows: “ We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings:--Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.”
- Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgments; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and sprivg out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by its fruit.”--(Discipline p. 12.) Here we have the true scriptural doctrine, plainly expressed, and cautiously guarded—the doctrine that salvation is “not of ourselves,” but “by grace through faith,” that faith which "works by love and purifies the heart.” This view perfectly harmonizes with the language of St. Paul, (Rom. iii. 24.)_** Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus : whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”. Also, (v. 1.)—“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." But Mr. Austin, it appears, is not able to see how salvation can be by grace, and yet by faith. He thinks, if we suppose the sinner has anything to do, his salvation is by the merit of works; that is, the beggar earns the favor he seeks, by asking for it, and believing his benefactor is willing to grant it. The fog and confusion is in his own mind, and probably arises from the blinding influence of his theory, which admits neither GRACE nor Faith as essential to final salvation. Punishment is the “ sine qua non” of universal salvation; but Paul says it is “ by faith, that it might be by grace.”
Mr. Austin brings as an objection to the doctrine of a general judgment, that it sends people to hell before they are decided to be guilty. This charge is untrue in regard to my view of divine retribution, but holds good against Universalism, since, on the principles of that system, men are punished without being declared guilty by any process understood either by themselves or others. Indeed, in most cases, the more wicked the sinner, the less he seems inclined to admit the existence of moral retribution. But, as the above charge stands against a future judgment, it may be met as follows:
1. All men are guilty. They are (except so far as they are justified by faith in Christ,) now under the condemnation of the divine law, and only need the formal sentence of the judge, to hand them over to just and deserved punishment. To use language borrowed from ju:licial proceedings amongst men, they are under arrest, until the court which is to pass upon them shall con
2. In the mean time, a system of restoring mercy is brought in, through the redeerning agency of Jesus Christ, the object of wbich is, the relief of the guilly from the necessity of final condemnation and punishment. A dispensation of grace and pardon is allowed to intervene; hence, “ sentence against an evil work,” (sin and guilt,) “ is not speedily executed;" but the gospel is proclained-it is announced as glad tidings, “he that believeth shall be saved;" and the sinner, “ fore-seeing the evil,” is allowed, if he will, to "hide himself" from the gathering storm, by obeying the gospel, and believing in Christ as his Savior. There is an arrest of judgment for the time being, to allow the gospel system to develop its influences and accomplish its gracious designs, in secu.
ring against final condemnation and irretrievable punishment, all who will repent and return unto “God, who will abundantly par. don"
3. As “sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed," (Excl.) is postponed, that the sinner may improve a day of grace, and be saved from the results of that sentence; and as the day of grace afforded is to continue during the probation of each indivi. dual sinner, and in regard to the whole race, during the reign of the mediatorial kingdom; hence the propriety and necessity that the judgment should not take place, until the end of the dispensation of grace-when “the kingdom shall be delivered up to the Father"--when those who have not availed themselves of the offers of mercy, will be held accountable on the strict principles of law_" when the books will be opened, and another book will be opened, which is the book of life, and the dead will be judged out of those things written in the books, according to their works." The fact that the sinner passes out of this life before he stands • before the judgment seat of Christ,” does not alter the case, nor create the least difficulty. He is still under the government of God, and approaching the judgment. As a sinner, he was unhappy here ; and as he takes his sins and moral character with him into the future state, he is unhappy there. The only difference in his circumstances is, that in the future world he has passed the limits of his probationary state, and having rejected the offers of mercy, there is no hope in his case. Being "unholy,” he must remain "unholy still," " reserved unto the day of judgment, to be punished.”—(2 Pet. ii. 9.)
Nothing that we have said upon this subject, must be construed into a denial of the judgment of God in this world. The general fact
that God rules, reigns, and judges in this world, is an important item in my theology. For the most part, however, this judgment relates to those affairs which belong wholly to this world ; such as his dealings with nations, communities and families—personal character, responsibility and destiny, not being immediately involved. We may also admit, that the judgment of God in this world extends to individuals, so far as to give them a prelude of what will be their final sentence and doom, if they appear before the Judge in the moral character which they have acquired here; that is, the influence of God's retributive administration is felt previous to the arrival of the “ appointed” day, which shall measure out to every man a just award, “according to his works."
I trust, now, I have satisfactorily removed the difficutly started by Mr. Austin, and which seems to have arisen in his own mind, out of the narrow and deficient views he takes of God as a moral Gov.
In reply to my argument from the conditionality of salvation, Mr. Austin says, “eternal life is something men enjoy in this life.” This is true, though the conclusion he would draw from it is false. That conclusion is, that it is confined this life. If Mr. Austin intends to say that eternal life is confined to this world, I wish him to say so distinctly, and not talk any of his non-committalism on this point. There are two questions I would be pleased to have answered. 1. In what does eternal life differ from final holiness and happiness? 2. Is eternal life confined to this world? Please give us a plain and direct response.
That eternal life is enjoyed by the believer in this world, is plain from John xvii. 3.--" And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. Also 1 John v. 11, 12.--" And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that haih the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not life.” But while these passages prove eternal life may, in its nature and essence, be enjoyed in this world, they also prove with equal plainness that it is conditional-" he that hath not the Son, hath not life.”
Moreover, eternal life is not confined to this world. Mark x. 30.--Our Lord promises those who endure losses and persecutions for his sake in this world, that they shall receive,
" in the world to come, eternal life.” Rom. vi. 22, 23.--We are told, the end of a course of Christian obedience is "everlasting [aionion,] eternal life.” Now, I proved in my former speech that “eternal life," "everlasting life,"
,” “ eternal salvation”-and salvation in all its aspects and relations to time and eternity, is conditional. The gentleman can no more disprove this, than he can move the earth from its axis. And yet he must say something; be therefore cavils and qnibbles about eternal life being enjoyed in this life!!! Who ever disputed this ? Eternal life is enjoyed in the soul, and