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the encroachment of this, and tain that God will not most highevery other error. But the ly manifest his benevolence and slight impression, which men glorify himself, by exhibiting a in general have of the authority perpetual contrast between the of God's word, gives a danger beauty of holiness and the deous advantage into the hands of formity of sin ; between virtudeceivers to propagate fatal de- ous enjoyment and merited pain} Jusion.
Who has a right, either on raThat you may be still more ef- tional or scriptural principles, to fectually secured against the er- be confident, that the endless ror of universalists, it will be punishment of impenitent transproper for you to weigh the ar- gressors will not furnish opporguments which they employ ; tunity for a brighter manifestato consider how superficial and tion of divine perfection, and for hollow they are, and to prepare promoting a greater sum of feliyourselves to confute them in the city in the universe, than the most satisfactory manner. final happiness of every individ
Their principal and most spe- ual? These questions are procious argument you will find to posed to confound the confidence be that, which they pretend to of universalists, and to show that deduce from the infinite benevo- the conclusions, which they delence of God. The argument is rive from the benevolence of briefly this : As God is infinitely God, are marked with uncertaingood, he must desire, and as he is ty and weakness. But on the Almighty, he will certainly effect other hand we would guard, with the happiness of all his rational sacred care, against the precreatures. If any, who are natur- sumption of carrying either our ally capable of happiness, are sub- reasoning or our faith on this jected to final misery, it must be subject any further, than we are ascribed to a defect in the power, warranted by revelation. or in the goodness of God.
Universalists sometimes reaAll attentive, enlightened Chris- son in this way. If God should tians will perceive, that this argu- punish any of his creatures eter: ment rests on a tottering basis. nally, he would show himself less If the benevolence of God is benevolent than an earthly parindeed infinite, as all will allow, ent, whose affection to his offhow then is it possible that finite spring could never consent, that beings should comprehend its any of them should be miserable. dimensions, or anticipate all its But here again we strongly oboperations According to the ject to the reasoning. Is infireasoning, which universalists nite benevolence to be measured adopt, we should judge that the by finite? Must the goodness of moral and natural evil now exist- God act upon the same limited ing in the world is inconsistent scale with parental tenderness? with the goodness of God. If it But even parental love, properly be said, that this temporary evil directed, affords an illustration of will be made conducive to the this subject. Parents, who are general good; we ask why end governed by wise affection, will less evil may not be used in sometimes banish a child from the same way? Who can be cer- their presence, and deliver him up to capital punishment for the imitate such an exercise of God's good of their family, and of the sovereign power, would be deempublic. And it hardly needs to ed a monster of cruelty. Hence be mentioned, that magistrates it is evident, that no valid arwhile actuated by the purest be- gument against the endless purnevolence, sentence criminals to ishment of sinners can be deducdeath, for the honour of governo ed from its being, in some rement, and the welfare of com- spects, unlike any exercise of humunity. If there is a great and man goodness or justice. It is indescribable difference between no more unlike, than enlightensuch instances of punishment, ed reason would lead us to exand the endless misery of im- pect, Parents and rulers are mortal bengs ; the difference acting for the interest of a famiiy is no more, than what necessari- or a community. God is acting ly results from the infinite dis- for the interest, the eternal intance between God and men, be- terest of the universe. How untween the interests of his king- reasonable, then, to urge against dom, and the interests they are any part of the divine adninispursuing. As God's benevo. tration, those maxims which relence operates upon a plan so late to the temporal or local inmuch more sublime, than hu-' terests of mankind, or those mon benevolence; and as the rules which regulate their coninterest of his universal empire duct. is so much more extensive, than The all sufficient atonement of the interest of a family or civil Christ is made an argument in community ; it must be expect- support of universalism. IfChrist ed that the measures of his ad- tasted death for every man, and ministration will, in many re- is the propitiation for the sins spectsy be different from those of of the whole world ; it is argua parent or civil ruler.
“ My ed, that every man, even the thoughts are not your thoughts, whole world will be saved. To neither are your ways my ways, invalidate this argument it is sufsaith the Lord. For as the ficient to remark, that the same heavens are higher than the scriptures, which declare the earth, so are my thoughts higher universal extent and all sufficienthan your thoughts, and my ways cy of the atonement, declare with than your ways.” When by a equal plainness, that there are thunderbolt God strikes to the many who believe not, and that ground an affectionate father, on all such will certainly perish. whom depended the comfort of Now if the infallible Spirit of á blooming family ; or a prom- inspiration unequivocally affirms, ising child, who was the hope that a compliance with certain and joy of his parents ; when he conditions is absolutely essential sends wasting sickness into a cić to salvation, that only a part of ty, and, in a few days, sweeps off mankind ever comply with those thonsands of its inhabitants ; he conditions, and consequently that acts opon a plan far above the only a part will be saved ; tben, principles of human virtue or surely, the salvation of all canhuman authority. The man, not, according to scripture prinwho should attempt directly to ciples, be inferred from the suf
ficiency of the atonement. The to its sufficiency for the salvation Authorof the Bible has not taught of singers ; still there may be us to reason thus ; that because limits to the extent of its appliChrist died for all, therefore all cation. This may be illustrated will certainly be saved. Ac- by natural things. Although cording to the apostle, his dying God has made the sun sufficient for all proves, that all were dead. to enlighten, direct, and cheer But it is the familiar representa- all mankind; yet this does not tion of scripture, that multitudes, imply, that all will actually use for whom Christ died, will per- and enjoy the light. Notwithish. It is important, that Chris- standing the infinite abundance tians reason as the scriptures of light, some men may dereason, and that all those conclu- prive themselves of it by indulgsions, which contradict the obvi, ing in unseasonable sleep ; othous sense of scripture, be re- ers may obstinately shut their jected.
eyes and refuse to see ; while The mistake of those, who in- others, who behold the light, may fer universal salvation from the abuse it to their own injury. So universality of the atonement, that from the universality and a-. evidently arises from a wrong bundance of that great blessing idea of the nature of the atone in the natural world, it cannot ment. If the atonement were be correctly inferred, that it will , like the discharge of a debt, which eventually prove a blessing to all. takes away from the debtor all In like manner, we cannot prove obligation to make any further that allwill actually eat and payment, and from the creditor drink, because of the abundance all right to demand it ; then sal- of bread and water. Now it does vation must have been as exten- not imply any dishonour to the sive, as the atonement. But if inexhaustible bounty of divine the atonement be considered as a providence, that all do not par-, divine expedient, designed to take of it. Nor does it frustrate render it consistent with the hon- the purpose of the Redeemer, or our of God to offer salvation to show any waste of his all suffiall, and actually to tave those cient grace, that some will not who believe ; in other words, an receive it. He will forever have expedient, to magnify and bon- the honour of making the bounour the law, which was broken' tiful provision, and all his friends and degraded by man, so that will, with purest enjoyment, God might consistently exercise contemplate and adore the riches merey, and receive to heaven all of his goodness, forbearance, and who become penitent and holy, long sufferingwhich sinners making a proffer of the same despise. Both in the kingdom grace to others; if the atone- of providence and in the kingment. be viewed in such a light, dom of grace, God has the honits being designed and accepted, our of preparing immense treas. is sufficient for all, does not ne- ures of good, which his creatures cessarily imply, that all will in ungratefully neglect or abuse, fact be finally benefitted by it. and therefore never enjoy. Although there are no limits to Another argument, which you its value in the sight of God, or will often heur urged by univer: salists against endless punish- pears to a man a greater or less ment, is, that it exceeds the de. evil, as he has a higher or lower merit of human sin. ' . But before apprehension of God. Accordthey can with propriety assertingly, although it now appears this, they must either bave direct to universalists, that endless punand plain evidence of it from ishment exceeds the evil of sin; scripture, or be able by their yet how do they know but a own wisdom to comprehend the clearer and more adequate view whole evil of sin. - As to the of the perfection of God would first; let them show the direct raise their idea of the evil of sin and plain evidence they derive so far, that endless punishment from scripture, that endless pun- would appear perfectly equitable? ? ishment exceeds the evil of sin. Besides, they who take it upon If it had been the design of them to affirm, that endless pun-, scripture to teach this, we may ishment exceeds the demerit of well wonder that, when describ- sin, should be able to compreing future punishment, it has hend the vast extent of creation, used such unguarded expres- and to know all the injury which sions. Everlasting punishment, sin would occasion to the whole the worm that dieth not, the un- intelligent system; yea, that quenchable fire, and other similar they fully comprehend all the phrases of scripture lead us to evil consequences which it natcherish the idea, that endless urally tends to produce throughpunishment is proportioned to out all ages, and even to eternity, the demerit of sin; and there. For it is unquestionably just, fore it seems very strange, that that sinners be charged with all God should introduce such ex., the natural, direct consequences pressions, if he knew, and would of their actions, and be treated have us believe, that endless accordingly... punishment exceeds that de- Now whether they, who premerit.
tend to determine, that there is But on this point they are not a disproportion between endless much accustomed to argue from punishment and the evil of sin, scripture. That endless punish- have what is necessary to qualiment is beyond the demerit of fy them for such a determination, sin is, they pretend, very evident let Christians judge. Have they, to their reason. But that they by searching found out God? may judge, whether/ endless Have they found out the Almighpunishment. be proportioned to ty to perfection? Do they know the evil of sin, or not, it is neces- the extent of creation ? Do they sary that they have a perfect know all the dreadful effects, comprehension of thesevil of sin. which would naturally result In order to this, they must pos- from sin to the intelligent unisess a clear and adequate knowl, verse through everlasting ages? edge of that Being, against whom. Unless they possess all this sin is committed. The degree, knowledge, their undertaking to of malignily in sid. has an evident deny the proportion between relation, to the greatness and endless punishment and the degoodness of God. It is a well merit of sin is weakness and pre known fact, that sin always ap- sumption, How much
reasonable a part do they act, of the Saviour, the gracious who humbly refer this subject purpose of God respecting the to the wisdom of God, and im- salvation of his people, the naplicitly confide in the declara- ture and necessity of regenerations of his word.
tion, &c. we must search those Here it will not be improper particular portions of the Bible, to consider, how exceedingly une in which these subjects are most fit mankind are to judge on the directly and fully explained. Our degree and duration of the pun- sentiments on these subjects ishment which they deserve. should be primarily founded on Besides being creatures of yes- the plainest and most appropriterday, totally unable to compre- ate declarations of scripture. hend that divine perfection which Other passages, where the subsin opposes and dishonours, and jects in question are incidentally the extensive and endless mis- mentioned, or by distant implichief which naturally follows in cation referred to, may afford adits train ; they themselves are ditional proof or illustration ; but the sinners, whose guilt is in such proof or illustration must question. They are the crimin- always be viewed in subserviency als, who are to be sentenced, and to the principal passages.
Το are subject to all those strong apply this to the subject before partialities, which persons are us ; if we would obtain satisface apt to feel in their own favour ; tory information respecting the partialities, on account of which future punishment of the wickneither divine nor human law ed, we must primarily attend to saffers men to sit as judges, in those scriptures, in which the their own case. Revelation teach- transactions of the all decisive es, that all judgment is commit- day are disclosed; in which ted into the hands of the Son of the final sentence of the Judge God, and that the judgment, against the wicked, and the duo which we pass upon ourselves, is ration of their future punishto be governed by the solemn in- ment are most expressly declarformation which he has given ed. But such scriptures as these us, and by a constant reference universalists disregard or perto the final sentence which he vert ; while they found their will pass upon us.
opinions on passages, in whiclı The method, which universal- the subject is very obscurely ists adopt, when they undertake hinted at, or in which other subto reason from scripture, is high- jects, having an imaginary, but ly exceptionable. If we wish for no real connexion with it, are the plainest and most satisfacto- brought into view. Their own ry information on any subject, arguings, implications, and dewe must apply, with peculiar at- ductions are taken for substantial tention, to those passages, in evidence, and are set up in opwhich the inspired writer is pro- position to scriptures, which are fessedly and explicitly treating too plain to be misunderstood, that subject. For example ; it too soleme and weighty to be we would know the mind of the overlooked, and too clearly and Spirit respecting the natural strongly expressed to admit character of mankind, the offices of plausible' misconstruction. Vol. III. No. 6.