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IS THERE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE FOR BELIEVING THAT ALL MEN
WILL BE FINALLY HOLY AND HAPPY 1
[MR. AUSTIN'S FIRST SPEECH.] Gentlemen Moderators and Respected Audience :--The question we have assembled to discuss this morning, is one which assuredly ranks higher in its scope and importance, than any other that can claim the attention of man. Into what utter insignificance do all those topics shrink which have agitated the world, in the presence of one which takes hold on eternity, and involves the destiny of vast multitudes of beings formed in God's own image, and who stand next in rank to the angels around the throne of Heaven! Let no one entertain a fear that the cause of Religion will receive injury by an investigation of this description. If conducted in a christian spirit, it can but tend to bring out truth before the people; and who can object to the prevalence of truth? who would forbid that its divine light should be diffused throughout the world ? In the words of the poet Milton, “Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth ; so Truth be in the field, we do injurionsly to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple. Who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a fair and open encounter."
I stand here, Brother Moderators, to mislead, to deceive, no man. My only purpose is to discharge, to the extent of my ability, a solemn duiy resting upon me, to advocate and defend what I be. lieve to be the truth of Heaven. The Judge of all, knows the sin. cerity and depth of my faith in the doctrine I shall labor to maintain. He knows my love of its principles, my perfect confidence in the salutary moral influence it exerts upon the lives of its adherenis. Believing in my heart that my labors in this discussion will be productive of good—that the system of Religion I inculcate, is more scriptural and reasonable, than the prevalent theories of the day, and far better calculated to promote true morality, christian charity, benevolence and good will in the world, I feel I am engaged in God's service, and in promoting the welfare of my fellow beings, in advocating its claims to be received, believed, and practiced by all men!
I sincerely trust we we shall lay aside whatever of prejudice,
bigotry, or pride of opinion that may rest in our minds, and weigh candidly, maturely and prayerfully, all the considerations presen. ted by both parties in this controversy. One wish alone should occupy our hearts, and that is that we may be led to behold and adopt the truth as it is in Jesus--that truth " which maketh free indeed.” We can utter no better prayer on such an occasion as this, than that conveyed in the language of the poet :
If I am right, thy grace impart
Still in the right to stay;
To find that better way. Let none of us forget that the All-seeing Eye rests full upon us, beholding not only our words and acts, but reading the thoughts treasured in the inmost recesses of our souls-remembering that he holds all men strictly accountable for the use they make of their time, their talents, and the degree of light he has granted them.
In taking the affirmative of this question, I enter upon the work of its advocacy with a pleasure, a heartfelt satisfaction, I have no no language to describe. Blessed with a doctrine which receives the entire sanction of all my mental capacities, and excites the highest admiration of my heart, how could it be otherwise than that its propagation and defence should be a pleasant labor. That I have an advantage over my brother on the opposite side in this respect, I am frank to acknowledge. The doctrine that all men will finally become holy and happy, is surpassingly grand and unspeakably desirable! What sentiment can be more sublime and imposing—what more honorable to that God who is the Father of all-what more in accordance with his attributes, or more highly calculated to surround his name and character with a greater effulgence of glory--what more creditable to that Redeemer who announced himself as the "Savior of the world,” and “who tasted death for every man," or more in accordance with the work he came to accomplish—what more desirable to the purest and holiest feelings of every christian heart—what more pleasing to angels, to Christ, to God himself, than the doctrine which teaches that every sinner in the universe, shall at last be brought to repentance, every stubborn heart shall be melted into contrition, and all souls, having become purified from sin and filled with love to God and man, shall be allowed to enter the golden streets of the New Jerusalem
No wanderer lost,
A family in Heaven." To establish these exalted and soul cheering truths, is the pleasing task before me. But alas! what is the labor Elder Holmes has entered upon ? How unsatisfactory and undesirable, how
dark, gloomy, appalling, the task of attempting to show that a doctrine so desirable is untrue! What a work! to strive to prove, virtually, that Jehovah's government is imperfect! that his law will forever remain unfulfilled! that his beneficent purposes in man's existence, are frustrated! his plans of creation and redemption fallen into inextricable confusion? his love, the yearnings of his mercy, his parental affection, all unsatisfied ! Jesus Christ defeated in the great object of his mission, unable to “see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied !" countless millions of intelligent beings, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, who are capable, under favorable influences, of arising up to an equality with angels in holiness and love, thrust down to the companionship of devils, to roll in agony and blaspheme the name of their Faiher throughout eternity! and Ruin ! RUIN! RUIN! written all over the greater portion of the moral universe of the Most High !!!!
Such is the disparity between the labors of the parties in this discussion! While I can say in all sincerity, in the presence of God and his angels, that I utterly detest and abhor, with unspeakable loathing the distinguishing tenet for which my opponent will contend, Endless Punishment-I know he can return no such compliment. He can entertain no feelings of this description, in regard to the great doctrine I shall advocate, but must grant it his entire love and admiration. While not a person in this assembly --not even my friend opposite—no, nor any being in the universe, except such as may possess the feelings of fabled demons-can pray for the truth of the doctrine of endless woe-all present, my opponent none the less than others, all good beings in the earth, in every world created by omnipotence, and in Heaven itself, will grant their ardent prayers for the truth of the doctrine of the repentance and salvation of all men ! What an infinite distinction! His a doctrine universally disliked, and in maintaining which, he will have to contend against the best and holiest feelings of his heart! Mine a sentiment as universally loved, and fully according with the highest and purest desires of every soul. I sincerely pray the Father of spirits to enable me to conduct this debate in such a manner as to be instrumental in throwing light upon the minds of my opponent and those who sympathize with him, and in leading them out from the error of their ways from their limited and darkened views of the character of God and the salvation of the gospel, into the broad and truth-illumined fields of boundless grace and mercy! My First Argument I build on
THE DESIRE OF GOD. PROPOSITION:-1. God Desires the final holiness and happiness of all mankind. 2. His desire will ultimately be satisfied.
PROOF.—I presume my friend on the opposite side, will not deny the existence of such a desire in the Creator. Every attribute per
taining to his moral character, attests the presence of such a desire. He is righteous and holy. Can a righteous and holy being possess any other desire than that creatures formed in his own image, should all finally become holy and happy? The wise man declares" The desire of the righteous is only good.”— (Prov. xi. 23.) If God is righteous, and the righteous only desire good, then his desire in regard to the final condition of mankind, must be that they shall all enter upon obedience, purity, and felicity! God is the Father of all men. He is a wise, good and compassionate Father, Can such a parent entertain any other desire for his offspring, than that their final state shall be one of holiness and bliss? "God is Love."—(1 John iv. 8.) Can a being whose whole nature is love, cherish any other wish than that all the objects of his love—and he loves the whole world(see John iii. 16, 17)--shall eventually enter upon a state of endless happiness?. But I need not elaborate this point. It will undoubtedly be acknowledged by my brother on the opposite side. " That God desires the holiness and happiness of all men, I freely admit"-(Elder Holmes' “ House upon the Sand," p. 21.) This is my friend's own acknowledgment!
'Will this desire of the Deity be satisfied ? I maintain that it will, and that too, without the slightest liability to failure. Will my friend opposite, take the ground that God's desire will not be fulfilled ? Such a position would be in plain violation of all enlightened conceptions of a perfect God. "Unsatisfied desire is one of the most certain and prolific sources of wretchedness. To insist that the Creator's desire for the eventual purity and felicity of of all his creatures, shall forever remain unfulfilled, is but to maintain that he will forever be unhappy! Can a father who ardently desires that his son should become a virtuous and honorable citizen, be happy in the frustration of that desire, when he beholds him led to a felon's death? Can the Heavenly Father, whose love for his offspring infinitely exceeds that of any earthly parent, be happy, if his desire for the endless good of all, shall perish in disappointment? Can he be happy if multitudes innumerable of the children of his affection, fall into endless sin and misery? If the Creator Desires the final holiness and happiness of all men, then he has Willed it. A consistent and perfect being, would not Desire what he could not Will. If it would be improper and impossible for such a being thus to Will, it would be improper and impossible for him thus to Desire. If he has Desired and Willed the final holiness and happiness of all men, then he has provided adequate ways and means to accomplish that desire and will. And if he has provided ADEQUATE ways and means, then all men must eventually become holy and happy! Where is there defect in this argument?
Think again :—The Psalmist declares "The Lord shall rejoice in his works.”—(Ps. civ. 31.) How can the Lord rejoice in his
works, if they so result as to forever prevent the acoomplishment of a Desire so holy and good as for the final purity and blessedness of all his creaturesThe fact that he will rejoice in his works is proof positive that his works will so terminate as to gratify every Desire of his holy nature. Moreover the scriptures assure us that “the desire of the righteous shall be granted."'(Prov. x. 24.) That God “will fulfil the desire of them that fear him."-—(Ps. cxlv. 19.) Yea, that "He openeth his hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing."---(Ps. cxlv. 16.) He that is able to satisfy the desire of all other beings, is he not able to satisfy his own Desire ?-A desire too, the most holy, honora. ble and worthy that the human mind can comprehend? Who or what is to prevent the accomplishment of such a Desire in an infinitely wise and omnipotent Deity? Would the angels in hea. ren, if they could—and could they if they would? Are we to suppose that a God possessing all knowledge and foresight, would endow man, or any other being, with power to forbid the gratification of his high and gracious Desires? The simple statement of the thought, bears with it the most ample refutation.
The word of God setties the point in regard to the applicability and weight of my argument. In Job we read, “ He is in one mind, and who can turn him? And what his soul DESIRETI, even that he DOETH!!:-(Job. xxiii. 13.) What more need be added. Elder Holmes acknowledges God desires the holiness and happiness of all men. The Bible asserts positively, that whatsoever he desireth, even that he DOETH!! Here I might rest the whole argument on the entire question. This single declaration anply sustains the affirmative of the proposition now before us, and places it infinitely beyond the reach of all human logic to overthrow or weaken, in the slightest possible manner!! Bly Second Argument rests on
TIIE INTENTION OF GOD. P?OPOSITION:God originally Intended that the doctrine of Universal Salvation should be true--and actually Believed its teachings would be fulfilled.
Proor.---That the Creator had some distinct intention-some clear, positive design, in regard to the ultimate condition of the human race, when he formed the determination to usher them into existence, no believer in the Divine Existence can doubt. What was the nature of that intention or design? Elder Holmes will not take the Calvinistic ground, that God intended but a part of mankind for salvation, and reprobated the remainder to endless wretchedness. He will assuredly unite with me in the declaration, that Deity originally intended to save all his creatures, and make themn holy and happy. . But whether he agrees with m2 or not, the scriptures abundantly support this position. They der'are that "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world, through him, might be saved.” (John