Page images
PDF
EPUB

through which men might be saved from punishment, such salvation would conflict with justice. But through Christ the repenting sinaer is saved from punishment in perfect harmony with the divine attributes. The passage to which I have just alluded needs no comment; it presents with singular clearness the great central doctrine of christianity. Mr. Austin also gives us to understand that punishment is not an evil in any sense of the word. But if it be not an evil in any sense, it must be a blessing in every sense, and God proposes to punish man with a blessing. If that punishment which the Bible teaches us is the just and deserved consequence of sin, be a blessing, then it follows that those who hare the most sin are the most blessed. Where, then, is the motive to desist from sin ? Has a man under such circumstances any motive to repent of his sins and turn to God? Punishment is a blessing, and hence he who sins most, is most punished, and most blessed! A strange view, this, oi the government of God and the character of punishment ! We almit that God often chastens bis children and that this is a gooi to them. But he must make a difference between the chastening of his people, and the punishment of the incorrigible sinner. The Bible represents the one as chastened, while the other is punished. In the case of the sinner it is punishment—the first fruits of that endless perdition which will be awarded him in the retributions of the last day. In the case of the christian, the visitations of God loose their penal character, and become the corrections of a kind and loving Father. And the corrections administered to the children of God do not necessarily result in good. This result depends upon the disposition with which they are received and improved.

It is scarcely worth my while to reply to the representations of my friend respecting retaliation and revenge. On the principles which I advocate, he knows it has no existence, and is not the doctrine of any of my school, but he must say something, and not being able to remove any of my arguments, he proceeds to erect this man of straw, and then shows himself redoubtable by knocking it over. Against his own theory, however, the charge of retaliation may be made to lie, as every offender must expiate his offences in his own person ; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, becomes the ruling principle of action.

My friend protests against judging of the nature of the Divine government from human governments, and yet he makes the most of his arguments rest on the administration of a father in his family, thus erecting a human standard as the criterion of the divine administration, and laboring to establish what he strenuously condemns in me. We shall have occasion to show up his paternal arguments before we close, but we pass it by for the present.

I now call your attention to what Mr. Austin says is the curse of the law. I quoted and built an argument on the passage, “ Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law.” This I said was pun

[ocr errors]

ishment, the penalty of the law. Christ having redeemed us from that, provides a way to escape from the punishment of sin. Mr. Austin replied that this meant the Levitical law. First, let us say, there is no proof of this whatever, except his ipse dixit. We are to take it on his authority, and to suppose we have the argument answered. My reply is this: In the first place, the Apostle was preaching to the Galatians, who were never under the Levitical law, and had nothing to do with it. How then could the redemption of Christ be intended to free them from the Levitical law ? My second point, is that the object of this redemption was that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles by faith. What was that blessing? It was justification by faith; for, says the Apostle, “ Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now this blessing of Abraham existed before the Levitical law, consequently the redemption of Christ, was intended to save them, the Jews and Gentiles, and all the world, from a curse that existed anterior to the Levitical law. And the result of such salvation would be to bring them the blessing of Abra. ham, which is justification by faith. Is this consistent with Mr. Austin's version of the matter? In the third place, the Levitical law was typical of Christ, and hence in no sense a curse.

If it was as Mr. Austin says, then God established the typical representation of Christ, his son, as a curse, and then sends Christ to redeem men from that curse! How does this look ! Moreover this law is called the “ shadow of good things to come.” Is that a curse ? The only sense in which Christ removed the Levitical law, was in bringing it to an end. When he came there was no further necessity for it, because it was all fulfilled in him. He therefore was the end of the law, for righteousness to every one who believeth. Moreover, Mr. Austin says, to remain under this law was a curse, but this same chapter says, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” On his method of interpretation, how is he to harmonize with St. Paul ? He says, to continue under the law is to be cursed; but St. Paul says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things writin the book of the law, to do them.” I think this is sufficient to show that his version of the matter was got up on the spur of the moment, as the best theory that could be presented to counteract a fact, in itself unanswerable.

I now present my next argument, founded on the scriptural view of pardon, forgiveness, and remission. These words are of very frequent occurrence in the scriptures as expressive of benefits con. ferred, or favors shown to those who repent and turn from their evil ways. With respect to such it is said, they shall be “abundantly pardoned,” “ be forgiven,” “obtain remission of sins,” and so on. All English dictionaries to which we have been able to gain access, agree that the signification of these terms, is, in substance, to release the guilty from penalty, from the obligation to

suffer the legal consequences of his guilt, and treat him, so far as punishment is concerned, as though he were innocent. Web. ster, as a correct exponent of the views of others, uses these terms to define each other, and his definition substantially is,“ release of an offence, or of the obligation of an offender to suffer a penalty, or to bear the displeasure of an offended party.” If these words do not mean this, Mr. Austin can tell us what they do mean. More. over, this definition of the English words is sustained by the Greek of the New Testament. The words translated "forgiveness,” “remission,” and so on, being defined by Greek lexicographers to mean, release of a captive, remission of a debt, or punishment. These terms thus defined, there is no difficulty in understanding our Lord, when he says “Father forgive them;" or the Psalmist when he says, “ Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

The scriptures represent that in pardoning, forgiving, or remit. ting the sins of the guilty, God confers on them a great benefit; hence the language of the Psalmist just quoted. But in what pos. sible way can a sinner be blessed in the pardon of his sins, with. out being released from the just and deserved consequences of his sins? We say there is no way: Hence, as forgiveness, pardon, remission, and so on, are gospel favors, it follows that gospel salvation embraces deliverance from just and deserved punishment.

I will now present my sixth argument, based on the scriptural doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ. “Being justified by faith,” says Paul, “we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans v. 13. To be justified is to be acquitted from guilt, and treated as though we were innocent. Hence the Greek word Dikaio, signifies to vindicate, acquit, defend, to pronounce righteous. To be justified, therefore, is to be declared righteous. To be justified by faith in Christ is to be acquitted from our guilt, and declared righteous for Christ's sake, and on account of our faith in him. The immediate effect of this justification, is peace with God; that is deliverance from the punishment with which God visits the sinner. Therefore the justified can say with truth, “Oh Lord, I will praise thee, though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comforteth me." The doctrine set up by my friend not only destroys the nature of justification by depriving it of the elements of salvation, but it also makes it depend on the law, and not on Christ. The difference between Universalisin and the Bible, is as plain as the light of Heaven. Universalism makes justification the result of being pun. ished all our sins deserve; the Bible makes it depend on our faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says, had there been a law given that could have given life, righteousness should have been by the law; but “ if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Universalism, on the contrary, so far as justification is concerned, asserts that Christ is dead in vain, by affirming that there is no such thing as justification from guilt and punishment, by faith in Christ, whereas St. Paul says, “ justification is by faith, and by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justitied.” If we are to be punished for all our sins, to the full extent of our deserts, then we shall get our justification as the result of our punishment. There are but two methods of justification, by the law, and by Christ. But if by the law, it must be in one of two ways-either by keeping the law to the full extent of its demands, or by suffering ile penalty of the law in our own persons. In either case justification would be by the law, and not by Christ; and hence in direct contradiction of the Scriptures, which say, “ by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified.” And further, there is no law given, that can give life either by obedience to its demands, or by the sufiering of its penalties. Hence, the passage in Acts xiii. 39., “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." You see this goes directly against the idea of justification hy law. This argument may be stated thus: To be justified is to be accounted righteous, and therefore secured against condemnation and punishment. And this justification is by faith in Christ, and hence a gospel benefit. Therefore, gospel sal. vation embraces deliverance from just and deserved punishment.

I now present my sevenih argument, founded on the fact that some men have been saved from punishment; and we shall see whether Mr. Austin's declaration will stand, that the Bible nowhere spcaks of salvation from punishment. The question is not whether the sinner is ever punished in this life or in a future life, nor in regard to the duration of punishment; but wheiher there is any way for him to escape from the punishment he deserves on account of bin. If I can show clear examples of this, recorded in the scriptures, I shall have sustained the affirmative of this proposition, and consequently refuted the dogmas of Universalism. Now for the proof -Ps. ciii. 10,“He bath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities; for as the Heaven is high above the Earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” Now it is the uniform language of scripture, that God is just in rewarding the sinner according to his iniquities, and in punishing him according to his sins. But this passage says God did not do so, therefore he saved these sinners from the punishment they deserved. 1. They were saved from DESERVED punishment. 2. They were saved by the exercise of mercy. 3. On condition of reformation-"they that fear him.” Job xi. 6. : “ Know therefore, that God exacte:h of thee less than thy iniquity deserveth.” Sam. jii. 22.: “Ii is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.” This language clearly implies that those here referred to, might have been justly consumed, and that they deserved to have been consumed, but they were saved from it by God's mercy. That is, they were saved from

deserved punishment. Ezra ix. 13. : “After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and great trespass, seeing that thou our God bast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this.” Hence Ezra expressly says they were panished less than they deserved, and that they were saved from deserved punishment by a signal deliverance. Nothing can be plainer than this. To these testimonies we add the case of the Ninevites, who, upon their repentance, were saved from deserved and threatened punishment. Jonah proclaimed," Yet forty days and Ninevah shall be overthrown." "His preaching was effectual. The King and people humbled themselves and repented, and Ninevah was not overthrown at all for the sins of that generation. One hundred and fifty years afterwards, the prophet Nahum was commissioned to preach to them, and then not repenting, they were destroyed, These passages are too plain to need further comment. I will present one more, which will overthrow completely Mr.Austin's position. Psalms lxxviii. 38: “But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not; yea many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.” We have said that these passages were too plain to need further comment; too decided to need multiplication. They cannot be set aside except upon some principle that would unseitle the meaning of all language. If there is meaning in words, and the English language is capable of a definative sense, these passages teach that God delivers from deserved punishment, and that some men hare been so delivered. “Being full of compassion,” he “ forgave their iniquity ard destroyed them not.” What then would have been the result if he had not forgiven them? Would they not have been destroyed ? Here then is a contrast between the results of forgiveness and compassion, and of deserved punishment. The one is salvation, and the other destruction ! Take the case of the Ninevites, who were threatened to be overthrown in forty days; that threat was just or it was not. If it was not, then God was not honest in his declaration, “Yet forty days and Ninevah shall be overthrown.” Then the threatened punishment was not a just one, but a mere bugbear held up to frighten them. If it was just and deserved, then the fact that they were saved on condition of repentance and reformation, is one that establishes salvation from just and deserved punishment.

I wish to call attention to those passages quoted by Mr. Austin, to show that God ioflicts punishment to bring men to repentance. I refer you to Psalm lxxxix. 31–33.: " If they break my statutes and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their transgresgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. I understood Mr. Austin to substitute the word them for him, in the above passage, and I find others who

« PreviousContinue »