Page images

been led into this error by the subverting influence of his system. The Bible says repent " that your sins may be blotted out.” Universalism says when your sins are expiated by punishment, then, and not till then, will you repent. All know what is meant by blotting out. It is to cancel a debt, or release from an obligation. A merchant blots out an account, that has been forgiven, and thus exonerates the debtor from all obligation for the debt: so the sinner who repents, is released from the obligation to endure the penalty of sin. Forgiveness of punishment, so far from standing in the way of repentance, is one of its results, and must always be preceded by repentance, otherwise, there is no deliverance from sin in any sense.

I will now proceed to present my thirteenth argument; that it makes perfect nonsense of the scriptures. We have seen the meaning of pardon and forgiveness, and the remission of sins. Ephesians iv. 32: “Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake, has forgiven you." How shall we interpret this passage on the principle that men are not and cannot be forgiven any part of their punishment ? How can we be tender-hearted to those who have sinned against us if we exact from them the very last mite of punishment? The doctrine set up by my friend is wholly inconsistent with this passage of scripture, and would require it to be turned into perfect nonsense to read at all in consistency with his doctrine. Matt. vi. 14, 15: "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." How would this passage be interpreted on the principles of Universalism? To harmonize with Universalism, it should read, “If you punish not men for their trespasses against you, that they may repent and be forgiven: neither will your heavenly Father punish you for your trespasses, that you may repent and be forgiven ! Suppose a man meets me in the street and abuses me: what is required of me that I may forgive his trespasses?. I ought to say, “Sir, though I might go with you to the seat of justice, and make you smart for this insult

, yet my Christian principles teach me to forgive those who despitefully use me and persecute me.” That would be forgiving his trespasses, but on the principles of Universalism, I ought in the first place to seek satisfaction-first by giving him a severe drubbing, and then by prosecuting him through the law—and then I might say, sir, I am now ready to give you a free and full pardon, and extend you the right hand of fellowship!! “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." If this would be the effect of not forgiving, what would be the effect of a contrary course? The application can be made by the congregation themselves. Luke vi. 36: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your father also is merciful.” How is our father Merciful ?[ Time expired.

[MR. AUSTIN'S SIXTH REPLY.1 Gentlemen Bloderators: -Perhaps I cannot pursue a better course than by commencing this speech with a notice of the last remarks of my Brother Holmes. He says that my views of forgiveness make perfect nonsense of the scriptures. All careful readers of the Bible, are as capable of judging on this point as Elder Holmes. To their decision I willingly submit the correctness of such an assertion. He insists moreover, that according to the Universalist doctrine, we must first punish one another, and then forgive one another. No sir! Universalism teaches that indiviiluals have no legal or moral right to take the punishment of ofenders into their own hands. We believe that whoever inflicts iasult or injury upon another, will receive a just punishment from the hand of God, through the operation of human laws, and the workings of his own conscience. As individuals, it is our duty, not to retaliate, not to punish, but to forgive the offence; leaving legal and moral consequences to higher tribunals. Hence all the display of wisdom and wit on this subject, from the other side, anounts to nothing. It shows more cunning to cover up an argunent, than intelligence to fathom it, or candor and ability to meet it. Let me ask my friend what would be the course of action in the supposed case according to his doctrine, which teaches that God punishes an innocent being-Jesus Christ-in place of the offender, and then forgives the latter and allows him to go “unwhipped of justice ?" On this principle, if we are insulted or injurei, our first duty is to seek out some innocent person-the more pure and godlike, the better-flog him within an inch of his life, ani then turn and forgive the guilty and hardened wretch. No doubt he would approve of this doctrine, as the depraved invariably do. He gladly clutches at this very convenient and easy mole of escape, and is prepared by such facilities, to go on and repeat his crimes on others?

The Elder has given you the reading of Eph. iv. 32, according to Universalism, as he declares, although in doing it, he totally perverts that system. Allow me to present the reading of that passage on the principles of modern orthodoxy : “Be kind one toanother, tender hearted, forgiving one another, [after each one has punished some innocent neighbor, in place of those who injured them, and allowed the guilty to go free of all punishment] even as Gol for Christ's sake hath forgiven you,” (after punishing his holy Son--yea, himself—in your place, thus giving you an assurance that you can sin to any extent and be screened from all retribution.] The same reading will apply to the passage-"Be ye merciful as your Father also is merciful.”—(Luke vi. 30.)

My friend on the affirmative, insists the Universalist view of forgiveness—that God does not forgive until he punishes--amounts to no forgiveness whatever. If this objection is well founded, it

is as fatal to his system as to mine. His doctrine teaches that Deity would not, and could not forgive men, until all the PUNISHIMENT due for all the sins of all men, had been fully inflicted on Jesus Christ, as a substitute for the world, and all the claims of justice for penalty on man, had become completely satisfied. Then Goi could forgive! Here is precisely the same principle which is urged as an objection against Universalism. Jehovah does not forgive until he punishes somebody-either the guilty or a substitute, and his justice is satisfied. The only difference between his system and mine, is this—that while his represents Goil as not willing to forgive until the innocent are PUNISHED, and the guilty GO FREE, mine insists he does not forgive until the guilty are themselves punished! I submit to all candid minds, which of the two is the the most consistent, and which must exert the best moral influence ?

Elder Holmes inquires, who ever heard of a man calculating, when he commits sin, to avoid the punishment? In reply, I ask who ever heard of one, (except in some exceedingly rare cases,) who did not calculate to escape? It is this calculation, authorized by the popular doctrines the day, and the expectation of succeeling in it, and avoiding all punishment, that lures millions into wickedness. lle mentions a singular case of a cripple, who was tired of life, and wanted to go to heaven, and who thought the best way to get there would be to commit a murder, when he could repent, be executed, and go to glory! Brother Mo lerators! that case illustrates, in my estimation, the method in which most, if not all murderers reason. They believe if they take the life of a fellow being and are detected, there will be sufficient time allowed them to REPENT, and get to heaven. And they are encouraged in this expectation by the numerous instances of murderers who repent, or profess to, on the gallows, and who, we are told by Evangelical Clergymen, swing from the scaffold into heaven, without the slightest infliction of Divine punishment !! This illustration is an unfortunate one for my brother; for he unhappily belongs to that very class of preachers, whose teachings tend to foster and encourage this most seductive view of the facility of escaping the punishments of God. True, in this case, the poor cripple did not find that repentance on which he had been taught to place so much dependence. But this makes the case none the less a perfect illustration of the moral tendency of my friend's system. According to his own showing, it was this corrupting doctrine of the power of repentance to save from all punishineni, that led the poor wretch to the commission of the murder. Had he been taught the Bible doctrine that repentance does not save from punishment, but is the effect of punishment, and that there is no escaping the just penalty of God's law-his hands would never have been stained with the blood of his brother man !

Į desire now to finish my argument on the subject of forgive.

ness and pardon. It is objected by those on the other side, that the views I entertain violate the usual meaning attached to those words by the dictionaries. Suppose they do; that cannot invalidate their correctness. It should be borne in mind, the definitions of the dictionaries are taken from the nature of pardon as exercised in human governments, and under judicial laws, which from the nature of man, must be exceedingly imperfect. These afford no criterion for judging of the office of pardon or forgiveness in the Divine government. Human governments are administered in respect to criminals, too generally on the principle of retalialion. This principle has no existence in God's government. He has strictly forbidden his creatures to inflict pain in a spirit of retaliation. He cannot violate his own precepts. Human governments pardon, or remit punishment, I acknowledge. But they do it from a necessity, arising from the imperfection of all earthly tribunals. Human legislators are incapable of enacting laws that shall operate perfectly in regard to the detection and chastisement of wickedness. Courts, judges, jurors, are utterly unable to adapt punishment so that it shall, in all cases, be in exact proportion to crime and guilt. Sometimes they condemn an innocent man, or sentence one to a punishment too severe for his crime. At other times extenuating circumstances are brought to light during punishishment, which show that it ought to be mitigated, or wholly remitted. In all such cases the judicial authority must have the power to change or shorten the punishment, or cause it entirely to cease. But it must be clearly seen that this pardoning power in human governments, grows out of their imperfection, and is indeed, necessary for the correction of their mistakes. Were they liable to make no error-could they adapt just the right kind and amount of punishment in every case—there would be no need of the pardoning power in human governments, as there could not possibly be an opportunity for its exercise. Let it be remembered ihat God is liable to no mistakes in the administration of his government. It is a perfect government, with perfect laws, rendering to every man exactly according to his deeds. He is able to adapt his punishments in accordance to the heinousness of the sin, without liability or possibility of error. He makes no mistakes in punishing the innocent, or allowing the guilty to escape under the impression that they are innocent, as do human courts. God never sentences to too much or too little punishment. Hence there is no place, no opportunity for the divine government to change or remit punishment. It is all right, in the first place!

The views of pardon I have adduced are sustained by some of the wisest and most eminent Law Commentators in the world. BECCARIA, an eminent Italian Law Commentator, says “The power of pardon, (i.e. remitting punishment,] does not exist under a perfeci administration of law. The admission of this power is a tacit acknowledgment of the infirmity of the course of justice." Chan

cellor Kent, the eminent jurist, the learned lawyer and judge, who has recently departed from life, utters the following language :

" If there is in the universe, an administration of justice, that is free from infirmity--if there were an administration so perfect, as in every instance to maintain a just proportion between crime and the penalty—and were the rules of testimony, and the mode of trial so perfect, as to prevent every possibility of mistake or injustice—then this administration would need no pardoning power."

This is plain common sense. Is there not such an administration of justice in the universe ? Is not God's administration precisely of this description ?-a perfect administration, capable of inflicting the right kind and amount of punishment in every case ? Answer—"The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” (Ps. xix. 7.) Therefore the Supreme Ruler of the universe can neither exercise nor need a power to remit or pardon punishment. I submit to the decision of the intelligent, which opinion is deserving of more weight on this subject, that of BECCARIA and Chancellor Kent, or that of Elder Holmes! I have already shown there can be but two purposes, so far as the guilty are personally concerned, for which punishment is inflicted upon them, viz: either for their injury or their benefit. If it is inflicted for their injury, then it becomes purely revenge, retaliation. But the penalties of a holy and benevolent Deity cannot be administered on a principle so low and wicked. Hence his punishments must be designed for the benefit of the sinful to restore them to obedience and holiness. Why, then, should he screen them from its infliction? Who can fail to discover that the affirmative of this question is attempted to be sustained in direct violation of all enlightened views of the perfect government of a perfect God!

I hasten to notice an argument which Elder Holmes draws from justification. What is meant by justification ? Clearly not what it is claimed to be a work wrought for the sinner, by Christ giving himself a sacrifice to the justice of an offended Deity. The the only mistake which my friend, and his Evangelical brethren, have made on this subject, is, that they have unfortunately adopted an old Pagan sentiment, instead of the New Testament doctrine. From remote antiquity the practice of offering sacrifices to their gods to appease their anger and obtain their favor, has prevailed in Pagan lands. It is susceptible of the clearest proof, that the whole modern theory of Atonement-of a substitute, for the sinner, is a heathen doctrine. It is one of those corruptions which crept into the churches during the dark ages, when it was overwhelmed by a mountain mass of Pagan errors. Among the Trojans, Greeks, Romans, and other heathen nations, human victims were frequently slaughtered as expiatory, vicarious sacrifices, or atonements to their imaginary deities. Among the many gross notions, which the multitudes who were converted from heathenism to christian

« PreviousContinue »