« PreviousContinue »
fers a general amnesty to all, whatever may be their state of degradation, on condition of their improving the advantages he gives them in redemption. The case is, as though the Queen of England should proffer an amnesty to the prisoners at Botany Bay, on conditions which would sustain the ends of good government, as fully, as the course that would retain them there, according to the original terms of banishment. He has referred to law commentators, and I would ask if the very declarations he has quoted from them do not sustain my views of pardon? They do, to the very letter, every one of them. And in addition to the names he has given, I would add Blackstone. He says in his commentaries, book 4, chapter 31: “to pardon is to remit treasons, and felonies," and by consequence, to save from punishment for these crimes.-[ Time expired.
[MR. AUSTIN'S SEVENTH REPLY.] Gentlemen Moderators :- My friend opposite has misstated my argument on the pardoning power, though of course, not intentionally. I said that in the government of a perfect God, there was no pardon from punishment; not that there was no pardoning power. God pardons the sinful, on the principle of repentance. But his government being perfect, there can be no necessity for the exercise of pardon from a punishment designed for the good of the creature. And besides to pardon from punishment, pre-supposes some error in the adjustment of the infliction, to the sin committed. This liability to error cannot attach to God's government. To save the guilty from punishment designed to restore them to virtue and godliness, would be as wise as to save a patient from a salutary and health-restoring medicine, because it is nauceous to the taste, and gives temporary pain.
He says I maintain that if Christ was punished for the sins of men, then their guilt must also rest on him. I do not know that I have said this, but concede that I did. If Christ was punished in the stead of mankind, then the sins and the guilt of all men must necessarily have been placed upon him. Punishment pre-supposes guilt. You cannot punish a being if he is not guilty. Suffering may be laid upon him, but it will not be punishment. There can be no such thing as punishing the innocent. They may be injured, scourged, tormented, but all this will not be punishment, in the true sense of that word. They may endure privation, pain, ignominy, in behalf of others, but in no correct view can all this amount to the least particle of punishment. It is only when pain is inflicted on the guilty, in correction of their guilt, that it is punishment. If Jesus was not sinful—if guilt in black and dread reality, did not rest in his heart, then, (however much he may have suffered,) he was not punished. And if my friend's doctrine is true, that no man can be saved unless Christ has been punished in his place, then the whole world will be lost forever ! The Son of God was not punished in the place of sinners, but he suffered in behalf of men-for the benefit of the world—setting mankind a noble example of devotion to the good of others, and the benefit of the race.
The ninth argument which Elder Holmes brings in the affirmative, is based on the intercession of Christ. What is an intercessor? It is one who acts in behalf, or for the benefit, of another.
This is the sense in which Christ is our intercessor. Being the Mediator between God and men, (1 Tim. ii. 5,) through whom all our spiritual blessings flow from the Father, he is represented as our Friend, or in a figurative sense, as our Intercessor. He is not described in the scriptures as interceding to save men from punishment_but as one who obtains blessings and favors for us.
Dr. Adam Clarke gives us the following explanation of the office of Jesus as an Intercessor: “Our Lord makes intercession for us, by negotiating and managing, as our Friend and Agent, all the affairs pertaining to our salvation."-(Clarke on Rom. viii. 27.) This undoubtedly approaches a true view of the work of Christ as man's Intercessor.
The tenth argument in the affirmative, my friend builds on the assumption that the gospel proposes to save sinners now, which, he says, cannot be, if men are punished all they deserve. I cannot appreciate the point of this argument. I am aware the gospel proposes to save sinners now—that there is a present salvation. The scriptures clearly teach this. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”—(2 Cor. vi. 2.) “ God is the Savior of all men, especially [i. e. immediately] of those who believe."-(1 Tim. iv. 10.) But I cannot conceive how this important truth affects the argument in relation to the certainty of punishment. Recollect salvation is from sin, and not from punishment. The fact that an individual repents and turns to God, and experiences present salvation, so far from proving he has been or will be, saved from punishment, is the strongest evidence he has already been punished. For punishment is one of the instrumentalities through which men are brought to genuine repentance of sin. No moral being can experience true repentance of crime, without having felt the chastisement which sin, sooner or later, invariably receives.
His eleventh argument, is founded on the fact, as he asserts, that if the sinner is, and must be punished to the full extent of his deserts, his punishment is so indefinite as to time and place, that it exerts no influence on him.
It requires but slight reflection to discover that this argument possesses no real weight. We maintain that upon the principles of Universalism, the scriptures inculcate all the definiteness in regard to place, and time, and means, of punishment, that can produce the slightest practical influence. A knowledge of the place and
time of punishment is not so important to deter from sin, as a belief of its certainty. My friend's own system is far more defective upon this subject, than any thing he can justly charge on my views. li there is imperfection on either side, it is better for men not to know positively when or where punishment is to be experienced, and yet that at some time, and in some place, it will assuredly, and without failure, be inflicted, than to have an exact knowledge of time and place, and still cherish the belief that it can very easily be avoided! Of what utility is the knowledge of the location and of the moment of punishment, except to encourage the believer of it, that it furnishes him greater facilities to escape its indiction!
Elder Holmes declares Atheists, Sabbath breakers, and other vile sinners, do not know whether they receive any punishment or not, in this life. Does he speak from experience, on this subject -or bow does he know what is suffered by these classes, through the power of conscience and the numerous other ways in which God chastises the guilty? Let him consult those who have been addicted to immoral practices, and when they speak the honest convictions of their hearts, they will instruct him, that they found no true happiness in sin; but that however fair they endeavored to make the outside, there was a worm gnawing within, that destroyed all real peace of mind. He refers to their worldly prosperity-10 barns full of grain, as an evidence that they are not punished.* Does he not yet know that God frequently causes the very abundance of the possessions of the wicked, to prove the greatest torment and curse of their lives? Hence all he says in regard to governments who so punish the criminal that they do not know they are punished, is wholly inapplicable.
The twelfth argument in the affirmative, is that Universalism repudiates the highest example in the Universe of the forgiveness of injuries. This is a most remarkable argument, or rather charge. What more salutary or beautiful example can be placed before the world, than the principle which my system attributes to God, that at any time, and in any world, he forgives men their offences, on due repentance. But look at the example of the Creator as represented by Elder Holmes, and theologians of his schoolThat God would not forgive the transgressions of men, until an innocent being had been punished in their place. Ah! worse than even this That if sinners do not, during the brief years of this life, believe that the innocent Son of God has been punished in their place, their heavenly Father will never forgive them, but will inflict an endless storm of retaliation and revenge upon them! What kind of an example is this? What influence would it have on society, were man never to forgive an offender until some innocent person was punished in his stead; and then, if the guilty man did not believe this, within a given space of time, turn upon him and seek revenge during the entire course of his life?
* This proof that the sinner is not panished here, which pre-supposes also that the righteous are not rewarded in this lite, reminds me of the couplet of the poet:-
“But sometimes virtue starves while vice is fed, ·
His thirteenth argument I have alrealy noticed at the commencement of my last speech. He complains that Universalism represents God as exacting every iota of punishment on the sinner. Acknowledged. And does not his system attribute the same principle to Deity? Does it not insist that he exacts all the punishment due every sin that has ever been committed, and that his exaction is so rigid, if it cannot be fulfilled by the guilty, he will accept of it from the innocent ? Have it, he will, in one way or another! We do indeed maintain that God exacts punishment to the “ last iota.” And why? Because it is designed for the reformation of the sinner. The physician very properly demands that all his medicines shall be taken, because it is designed for the recovery of the patient. Is it cruel to give a sick man all the medicine that his restoration to health requires? Is it cruel to punish the sinful all their restoration to moral health requires ?
His fourteenth argument rests on the assertion, that my views contradict the common sense of mankind and the common usage of words. He reiterates his complaint that I have not quoted from Dictionaries and Lexicons. I acknowledge I have quoted more from the scriptures than from Dictionaries. And the reason is satisfactory to me, if not to my brother opposite. It is because I have more confidence in God's word, than man's explanations. I would give more for one “Thus saith the Lord," than all the Dictionaries ever made. Most of them were compiled by men under the influence of what I believe to be erroneous views of religion; and they have made their Dictionaries conform to their preconceived opinions. This is especially obvious in regard to words of uncertain or disputed meaning. I would not by any means repudiate Dictionaries or Lexicons. I give them all the weight they can legitimately claim. But I go to the Bible as the best Dictionary to teach us its own meaning. So long as I can explain scripture by scripture, I feel satisfied.
The supposition of the Elder, that the keeper of a prison should draw up a petition to the Governor for the pardon of a convict whose term of imprisonment had expired, is pointless and witless. It rests on the old mistake which has run through the entire length of his arguments, that pardon or forgiveness is from punishment -whereas the Bible declares it is from sin. The question whether a discharged convict should be forgiven his crimes-i.e. have the remembrance of them blotted out, and be restored to good standing
in community-would depend upon the influence which his imprisonment had exerted upon him. If it had brought him to sincere repentance, he should be forgiven-restored. But if he came forth unrepenting and hardened, who will maintain he should be forgiven, notwithstanding he had been imprisoned all the law required?
His fifteenta argument is built upon another assertion--that if men cannot be saved from punishment, they cannot be saved at all, and hence universal damnation will prove the doom of the world! It cannot be necessary I should spend a moment in examining this assertion, for it is not an argument. Salvation is from sin. Punishment is one of the means of salvation. How absurd to speak of saving men from that which leads to salvation!
I proceed now to urge another argument against the affirmative of this question. My friend complains I have insisted with much pertinacity, that his doctrine exerts an immoral influence. This I have done from a deep and solemn conviction that such is its tendency. I now re-assert the position. I introduce it as an argument of the most weighty and convincing nature against the truth of the whole theory of the affirmative of this question. The practical influence of the doctrines maintained on this subject by Elder Holmes and his Evangelical co-laborers, is to throw open a broad highway in which the transgressor can proceed to the commission of crime at pleasure and with utter impunity. I insist it is precisely such a doctrine as sinful men want and approbate. Ask them, and they will tell you they desire nothing better.
Under the influence of sinful promptings, mankind are ever seeking to separate wickedness from punishment-striving to contrive ways and means to indulge in sin, and avoid the infliction of its just penalties. We see all around us, men plunging into every species of immorality, under the deceptive expectation that it will make them happy, and then struggling to get away from punishment. To delude and flatter themselves that this can be done, they go to work and invent theories, systems, doctrines. A great part of the modern Evangelical theories and creeds-are but a grand contrivance-cunningly and adroitly penned-to allow the indulgence of wicked passions, and to shift the just punishment from the guilty to an innocent substitute! I regret exceedingly that learned Professors of Theology, Doctors of Divinity, Ministers of the Gospel, and professors of religion, lend themselves to such a work-I do not say intentionally, yet none the less certainly. They virtually take their place alongside the most depraved, and insist that men ought to be allowed to sin under such circumstances, that they can escape all punishment! Instead of teaching the people the great and salutary truth, that sin and punishment are indissolubly connected, they continue to proclaim the most seductive and flattering error, that there is a way