Page images

must be lost, because they cannot believe--that all idiots and insane persons must be consigned to perdition for the same reason --and that all heathen must fail of future felicity, because they have not the written word and preached gospel. These are declarations which he ought to know to be perfectly groundlessin direct opposition to the teachings of all evangelical Christians, and the plainest, and frequently repeated statements of God's word. As infants have never sinned personally, they are all saved unconditionally through the atonement-idiots are not at all responsible--and the heathen are only accountable for the moral advantages they possess. "In every nation, he that feareth God and worketh rightousness is accepted with him.” The gentleman's sixteenth, which is that endless punishment consigns moral men to hell, bears with as much force against limited as endless punishment, in proportion to its duration. Besides, it assumes a false standard of morality, and overlooks the fact that God is no respecter of persons. Mr. Austin's seventeenth negative argument alledges that the affirmative of this question makes religion a matter of selfish and sordid calculation. Take from the above, the terms se! fish and sordid, and to what remains I have no objection. I have sufficiently vindicated my views from the charge implied in this negative argument, and have also shown that as Universalism leads men to cast off fear and restrain prayer, it is open to one of the most serious charges which Almighty God brings against the enemies of truth and righteousness. The eighteenth negative argument of Mr. Austin is, that endless punishment destroys the peace of those who believe it. That the exposure of our fellow men to misery and danger of any kind, should affect our minds, is not strange. Were our minds not susceptible of such a feeling, we should be insensible to those motives which address themselves to the sympathies of our nature, and are intended to engage us in efforts for the good of mankind. But these feelings afford no more proof against future, than present punishment-against that which is endless, than that which is limited in duration. The expressions quoted from Saurin and Dr. Barnes, do not equal in the intensity of the feeling they disclose, those made by soine of the inspired writers in respect to the moral condition of 'men. Jeremiah said, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night,” &c. St. Paul had “great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart.” Our Lord wept over Jerusalem; and on another occasion, declared, “my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." What a pity that these blinded individuals bad not been enlightened by Universalism. Instead of weeping and being sorrowful, they would have laughed for joy. They would have seen that all this misery, arising from depravity, is, after all, a Nne moral speculation, which is being managed by the universal Father, for the benefit of his creatures, in which sin and

misery are the capital invested, and the profits will consist in a corresponding amount of holiness and happiness.

In the gentleman's tenth speech, I find very little worthy of attention, or calling for reply, save a few fantastie Universalist ex positions of scripture, in which, as a dernier resort, he flies to the destruction of Jerusalem for relief from the plain and forcible teachings of those passages which cannot be perverted in any other way. I really do not know what Universalists would do, were it not for Jerusalem. On their principles of interpretation, the destruction of Jerusalem is the key to the whole Bible-- it is it is the principal business of revelation, to tell the world of the destruction of Jerusalem. The great pains Mr. Austin has taken in his comment on 2 Thess. i. 9, to run round and round the subjeet, and obscure and cover up the plain language of the passage before he ventures to bring out his own views, is itself a suspicious circumstance. But after all, his explanation of it must strike every intelligent mind, as so perfectly unreasonable and childish, that to name it, is a sufficient refutation. To be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, he says, is to be banished from Jerusalem, and from the holy temple, where God's presence was believed to be manifested in a peculiar manner to his chosen people. That is, the Jews who resided at Thessalonica, a heathen city, were threatened by St. Paul with everlasting banishment from the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem, and this threat was executed when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman army, long after the death of the apostle, and many, if not all those Jews to which Mr. Austin supposes the passage refers. This is truly wonderful. But the gentleman thinks his view is favored by the meaning of the the word alethron, translated destruction, and which he says means; “pain, suffering of any description." But it happens, Donnegan defines it, "ruin, perdition," and Clarke on the same word, remarks as follows: " What this everlasting destruction consists in, we cannot tell. It is not annihilation, for their being continues, and as the destruction is everlasting, it is an eternal continuance and presence of substantial evil, and absence of all good, for a part of this punishment consists in being banished from the presence of the Lord-excluded from his approbation for ever; so that the light of his countenance can be no more enjoyed, as there will be an eternal impossibility of ever being reconeiled to him." I should not have quoted Clarke on this point, direct and relevant as his language is, if Mr. Austin had not used his name in connection with the subject, and thus attempted to make him responsible for an exposition of seripture, which he would regard as violating common sense, the established rules of Bible criticism, and as be ng in itself, unnatural and foolish in the extreme. Farther on this point we have only to say: 1. The apostle says, "To you who are troubled, rest with us.” Neither the apostles

nor other Christians had rest in that age, from persecutions and tribulations. The rest to which they were directed, was their futire heavenly inheritance. 2. He farther adds-- When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in faming fire.” We might as well look for a full explanation of this language in the destruction of Rome, as the destruction of Jerusalem: especially as connected with the punishment of the inhabitants of Thossalonica. 3. “Taking vengeance on them that know not Goland obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is probable the persecuting Jews were included in this reference to the ungodly, but the description answers more particularly to thu ungolly persecuting Gentiles--" those who know not God, and obey not the gospel.” There is no reference to the Jews, as distinguished from other sinners. 4. This vengeance was to be executel " when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be a imired in all them that believe" —which event has not yet taken place, and will not until he shall consummate the purposes of the gospel dispansation. The gentleman says his view is corroboratel by Hammond and other commentators. But he has furnished no proof of this, and if he takes the same liberty with Hammond that he does with Clarke, we have no reason to suppose Hammond gives him any support whatever. It is probable Mr. Austin takes his authorities from “ Page's Selections." This author does not scruple to garble and misrepresent the views of orthodox commentators, as often as it suits his purpose. Finally, Mr. Austin overturns all he has said in explanation of this pas. sage, ly the use he afterwards makes of the term destroyed. He quotes (Rev. xx. 14,) “ Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire," i. e., “ were destroyed.Now, if destruction in this case is perpetual and irretrievable

, as I contend it is, and as Mr. Austin admits, it remains for him to show why it does not mean the same in Thess. i 9, and why he does not agree with Hammond, who says, everlasting destruction, in this place, means "utter destruction.Moreover, as hell is to be destroyed without remedy, by being cast into the lake of fire, according to Mr. Austin's own admission, it follows that the being cast into the lake of fire mentioned in the next (15th) verse, implies a destruction equally irremediable. Now, as he insists that destruction" signifies “pain, suffering of an description,” it is plain from his own reasoning, that those whose names are - pot written in the book of life," and are therefore " cast into the lake of fire," are doomed to interminable pain and suffering. That is, his own reasoning supports the doctrine of endless punishment.

On the sin against the Holy Ghost, I need only make a remark or two in addition to what I have said elsewhere. 1. Mr. Auss tin connects the name of Clarke with his exposition of Matt. and Márk, on this point, and asks whether Methodist clergymen have ever given their people the views of their own Dr. Clarke. His


object in this is to convey the impression that Clarke sustains his explanation. But nothing can be more false. Our people read Clarke for themselves: thousands of copies of his cominentary are found in their libraries. Clarke's views are, in the main, mv views, on this and most other theological points, and so they are the views of Methodists generally. And on the the sin against the Holy Ghost, he clearly sustains the doctrine of endless pun. ishment. His language is, ** Even personal reproaches, revilings, persecutions against Christ, were remissible; but blasphemy, or impious speaking against the Holy Spirit, was to have no forgir:ness.” And the language,“ neither in this world, neither in the world to come," which he says is equivalent to “neither in this dispensation, neither in the dispensation to come," he regards as a strong method of aflirming the hopeless condition of such sin

li sinners such as are there described have no forgiveness under the Jewish or Christian dispensation, it follows they have no forgiveness in this world, and if forgiven at all, it must be under some dispensation in the future world, which is not identified with the Christian dispensation, and of which we have no information. If Mr. Austin will develope any such means of forgiveness and restoration, we shall be bound to submit the case. 2. But Clarke says the word never, found in Mark 11. 29, is not found in some ancient manuscripts. This is true. But does he say it ought to be left out ? He mentions the fact, to show that those mannscripts are deficient, and to call attention to the word never, as an essential part of the true text, and as necessary to the sense of the passage. The word never is also necessary to make the sense of the passage correspond with the parallel place in Matt. xii. 29. The force of this passage cannot, by any fair means, be explained away. All the facts and circumstances being considered, the conclusion of Tholuck is fully sustained, viz: " What Christ says concerning it, (sin against the floly Ghost) seems clearly to imply a degree of opposition against Holy truth, which leads to eternal unhappiness."

Heb. vi. 4-6, on which Mr. Austin has commented at length, does not refer to common cases of backsliding at all. Hence, all he has said of my denying one of the distinguishing traits of Methodism, is perfect nonsense. I adduced the passage to show that the scriptures represent the condition of some sinners as hope less. Clarke says the passige refers to “apostates from Christianity: to such as reject the whole Christian scheme, and its author, the Lord Jesus.” He farther adds--- the design of these solemn words is evidently to show the Hebrews that apostacy from the highest degrees of grace was possible; and that those who were highest in the favor of God, might sin against him, lose it, and perish everlastingly." The reason why it was or is impossible to renew such characters to repentance, is found in their rejection of Christ, “ the Lord that bought them," without


[ocr errors][merged small]

whose efficacious blood, no sinner can be saved. Mr. Page, the renowned author of the “ Selections,” gives a rare specimen of his candor in quoting from Clarke on this passage. Passing over all he says on the main subject, in which the Dr. asserts the final perdition of the ungodly in the most emphatic manner, he gives a part of what he says on the words, " nigh unto cursing," in the 8th verse, as being applicable to the Jewish people about to be cursed of God. It is in this way that Universalist writers obtain concessions from the orthodox.

Matt. xxiii 33, Mark ix. 43, and Jude 6, Mr. Austin refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. So the question, “how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?” means, how can ye escape the destruction of Jerusalem ? " It is better to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched,” means, you had better part with your valuable possessions, which offend you, and be Christians, than be involved in the destruction of Jerusalem. So, also, the “angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitations, and are reservell in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day,” the gentleman tells us, are certain apostate earthly messengers, who were reserved to the destruction of Jerusalem: When our Lord admonishes his disciples, (Matt. x. 29,) “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” he means, that God is able “ to destroy (annihilate) both soul and body in the midst of the dreadful fires of Gehenna." And though God never did any such thing, and never intended to, yet our Lord addressed this admonition to them, “to inspire them with courage and confidence, in the midst of the perils by which they would be surrounded in proclaiming the gospel.” I have not referred to these explanations of scripture by my opponeni, with any view of replying. I will not insult the good sense of this intelligent audience, by attempting a formal refutation of that which refutes itself. My object in alluding to them at all, is to show you how they look, when stripped of the verbiage and rhetoric with which the gentleman has striven, though wiih poor success, to cover up their ridiculous deformity. I have not the least fear that any honest, intelligent mind, familiar with the scriptures, will be deceived by such interpretations. On that class of scripture passages which relate to the kingdom of God, of Christ, and of heaven, and the exclusion of the ungodly therefrom, I find I have compelled Mr. Austin to abandon the general ground of Universalism. The position taken generally, not to say universally, by the supporters of modern Universalism, is, that the kingdom of God, and of heaven, from which sinners are excluded, is confined to this life ; hence, has no bearing on the future condition of man. But, from the argument I have presented

« PreviousContinue »