תמונות בעמוד

that the particular kind of each tree inay be instantly known.Something more than five hundred years ago this very ground was known to have been covered with the sea; nor is there any history or tradition of its before that time having been dry ground, which yet must have been at some time the case. Like appearances occur not unfrequently along our own coast. I have seen in Pever: y Level, and in other marshy places near the sea, in Sussex, many different trees lying horizontally at the depth of from four 10 ten or twelve feet, under the surface of the ground. Thest were discovered in cutting ditches for the drainage of the marshes. I observed also that they uniformly laid with their heads towards the sea.

Thus we see lands flourishing i verdure, producing large trees of different kinds, overwhelmed by the sea. We see this capricious element despositing its sediment often to a great height. We see it again, after it has sunk the land so deep beneath its slime, četiring from the same coasts, and leaving that habitable which it had before destroyed. All this is surprising, and, perhaps, instead of endeavouring to assign the cause, it will become us more to rest satisfied with the fact.




J PROCEED to the second instance which I proposed noticing. It is

my opinion that all the iniquity that ever existed from the foundation of the world to the time of the breaking off of the Jews, did not equal the rebellion and obduracy of that people; yet even to that people, 10 the inurderers of the Lord Jesus, was the gospel seni-God determined to make use of every mean, which was consistent with the freedom of their will, 10 effect their happiness; but though the means made use of were ineffectual, did God entirely give thein up, and cease 10 desire and seek their happiness ? No; I affirm he did 1101.-It is vue, he concluded them all in unbelief-he gave them up into the Thands of their enemies, to be exposed 10 the severest calamities; but it was, as Paul afirms, that he might have mercy upon all; they were still heloveci for the father's sakes; all God's severity towards them is intended to subserve his gracious designs respecting them. Well might the apostle exclaim while contemplating these things, (Rom. xi.) O the depth both of the wisdcm and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are lis judgments !" I hope you will not pass over those things without careful investigation : indeed, my friend, I have more confidence in your integrity and nobleness of soul, which induces me the inore chearfully to bring them before you; but the time would fail me to mention all the divine promises upon this subject. We read iu Ezek. xvi. that God wili restore Sodom and her daughters, Samaria and her

daughters, Jerusalem and her daughters ; that though he took them away as he saw good, (observe, goodness had to do with their removal) yet he will as certainly effeci their recovery. In like manner God haul spoken hy his prophets in every age since the world began. In the New Testament the doctrine of the restoration is not only stated, but also the means by which it shall be effected, and the happy consequences represented: so that this truth is not so obscurely hinted at as you imagine ; but having trod the same ground, I know why it appears so obscure--it is because we have been long accustomed to think and look at things difierently.

Did we carefully observe the divine conduct, truce the footsteps of infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness, we should discover the divine haud stretched forth for the prevention, (so far as consistent with the freedom of rational intelligences) and removal of sin. For what purpose were the angels which sinned cast down to Tartarus, was not one thing which justice had in view in casting them down the preventing the spreading of the contagion? For what end did God destroy the old world, but that he might put a stop to the horrid scenes of iniquity which then prevailed? Why is the life of inan contracted by the allwise parent of nature to the narrow limits of seventy years, but to weaken the force of temptation, that man, being made'sensible of his frailty, the emptiness of all sublunary things, might be induced to set his hope in God? For what end doth the Most High cut short the lives of his rational oitspring in the Hower of their dilys, by so mnary different calamities, but because he knows where they suffered to continue they woul:I heap up wratn a ainst the day of wrath. So he shut up the Jews in unbeliet, and gave thein up into the hands of their enemies, for what end? that he might annihilate them, or damu then lo all eternity: No, but with a view to their recovery, " that lie might have mercy upon all,” saith the apostle. It is on this ground, and on this only, I conceive, we can account for the many awful imprecations of the servants of God upon his and their enemies : for instance the various expressions of this kind in the Psalıns, and the cry of the souls under the altar: reconcile, if you cau, their conduct with the fear of God and the spirit of Christ, upon any other ground. Indeed, my friend, you will find ihi; no easy task. You cannot shew their conduct to be consistent, unless you admit with the Psalmisi, that mercy hath ta do with the rendering to every man according 10 his work; but if the notion of endless punishment be true, I see not how mercy can ever operate in the giving every man according to his works.

You remark, that “ Reison has often suggested why did not God preveni sin, having power to have done it, and to have carried on his designs without the introduction of so much disorder?" Undoubtedly if we speak of God's power, nothing could, or ever can, be too hard for him, for his power is infinite; but I will affirin, and I think I ain authorized by evidence, that God could not have prevented sin without destroying the freedom of his creatures, whereby his glorious purpose of making his creatures happy by choice, and the free exercise of their powers, had been frustrated. God formed his creatures moral agents, ritional intelligences, fixed them in such a state as afforded opportunity

for the developement of their powers, made them arbiters of their own actions, gave them opportunity of learning to choose good and refuse evil by the lessons of experience : whereas all compulsion offers voilence to freedom, and degrades rationality. Herein the wisdom and goodness of God are rendered wonderfully conspicuous, that all the plans of divine government, for the removal of evil, for the complete happiness of the creation, have operated, will continue to operate and be completely carried into effect in perfect unison with the liberty of the creatures. Hence the gospel is never made effectual in any soul, whatever some persons may say, by compulsion, but by allurement; the soul being led to see the real value and excellency thereof, and on that ground to believe and obey it. For any man to demand why infinite wisdom and goodness did not continue creatures always in a state of happiness, whether tliey were willing or unwilling to embr ce the means of happiness, discovers ignorance of the ways of God with men, and of what constitutes the happiness of moral agents, (i e.) love by free choice. These remarks I submit to your serious consideration : and pray remember that is reason has been much perverted, what it may seem to suggest must be brought to the test of evidence, and decided by facts. To suppose the universal restoration is supported on as weak a basis as what you call the suggestion of reason, is to suppose its friends no better than mad men, or enthusiasts; but if you exanine, you will find, that the well informed Universalist does not decide without the most substantial evidence,

You next express your wonder what my motives can be for desiring to promulgate this doćirine. You could not start a question which I am more desirous of discussing. If the doctrine for which I am an advocate can, upon impartial grounds, be fairly proved incapable of practical utility, let it sink into oblivion; but if it be calculated to ennoble the soul, to raise lofty conceptions of God, to produce every thing that is consolatory, to influence to all holy obedience, then let it spread from one end of God's wide domains to the other, till its divine influence be felt by every creature, and God be all in all.

1. The universal and unchanging love of God to his lapsed creatures, leads my mind to such enlarged conceptions of the being who made and governs the world, as my former i:leas were incapable of producing. However confirmed I might forn.erly be, that the love of God to his elect was immutable, prior to my present views, I really thought that his clesign of making all his creatures happy would be eternally frustrated, or that the folly of finites would finally prevail over the wisdom of the infinite; but now to my abundant joy I clearly see that what God doth, wills, or purposes, shall stand, without either addition or diminution, which shews how superior his nature is to all influence, either of sin or the creature: besides, his unwillingness to afflict and grieve the children of men, is a proof that he hath a gracious end in a illicting them, or that love is at the bottom of all the chastisements which he inflicts. Thus, upon the ground of the universal doctrine, God appears lovely in all his. works and ways.

2. The 'doctrine in question harmonizes the various parts of divine revelation, relative to the character, works, and ways of God, and proves


the whole to be worthy of him who made and governs the world: this the advocates for indless punishment can never do, with all the reasoning they are master of, until they abandon that horrid doctrine.

3. It furnishes those who receive and are under its influence, with Such powerful arguments against infidelity, that scourge of the Almighty, as are calculated to silence the infidel and drive him from the field. is

4. The above doctrine presents the example of God, in his dealings with his creatures, as every way worthy of our imitation, making it fully evident that what he requires of us, in our conduct toward others, is realized in his conduct in perfection. He requires us to love unceasingly our enemies, and demonstrate it by doing them good; if our enemies hunger to feed them, to bless and curse not; but if that doctrine be true which supposes that God will in a future state cease to love, or seek the happiness of his rebellious creatures, how will his conduct realize his own injunctions, or be a fit example for our imitation? Would not, in that case, the divine conduct be made to resemble the conduct of a priest I once heard of, who would tell the people that they were not to do as he did, but as he said? But if we admit the doctrine I am contending for, no such thought can be entertained by us of the God of holiness ; on the contrary, we shall see that he supports all his injunctions by his own conduct towards his creatures. He calls us to exercise love, mercy, and forgiveness, that we may resemble him, from whom love, mercy, and forgiveness flow, and will never cease to flow, while any objects continue to need the cominunication of them.

5. It is on the ground of the Universal dortrine, and, I canceive, upon that ground only, that a reconciliation can be effected between those two leading parties of professed Christians, the Calvinists and Arminians.

Strange it is that serious persona do not more generally discover that both are right and both wrong. I cannot see how we can consistently with the Scriptures question the truth of the leading point for which Calvinists contend, namely, the iminutability of the divine counsel, purposes, and designs; or doubt the truth of the leading idea of Arminians, namely, that Christ died for all mankind. Though neither of these parties will admit the truth of the other's position, yet they cannot completely refute each other; both have evidence from Scripture to support them, yet they do not perceive that their leading ideas are consistent with each other; the friendly Universalist steps in to act a mediatorial part between the contending parties, to bring together, and harmonize those, for whom hope and charity united could before do no more than leave them as they were. Ah! friendly, and godlike system, prove to the Calvinist that he may retain what is excellent, valuable and glorious, in his system, yet admit that Christ died for all: prove to the Arminian that he may maintain the love of God, and the death of Christ, in all their extent, yet believe in the immutability of JEHOVAH'S counsels, purposes, and designs. (For further information on this subject see Letters on Election, in the Universalist's Miscellany.)

Finally, my friend, this doctrine is not only calculated to ennoble the soul with exalted ideas of God, to justify his ways to men, to harmonize his VOL. IV, .

"Pp. . .

sayings and dispensations, to unite contending parties, and produce oneness among the saints; but also to the sensible sinner it affords light in the midst of darkness, for, instead of exhibiting to his view a wrathful furious being, it places before him a loving, kind, compassionate God, replete with mercy, who does not totally forsake his creatures on account of their enmity and ingratitude to him; but who follows them with loving kindness and tender mercy, taking every step for their recovery, that infinite wisdom, power, and goodness can devise, to operate in consistency with the freedom of the human mind. Oh! how calculated is such a view of the divine goodness to melt the obdurate, to conquer the enmity of the human mind. The views which Universalists have of subjects are calculated to be of the greatest practical utility. What ardent love to the human race do they inspire! what sympathy with all who are in a state of suffering! what forbearance and kindness do they produce! what strong desire of the happiness of others! Instead of inflating the mind with pride and self complacency, prompting Christians to think highly of themselves, and look down with contempt on others, it teaches humility and love to all, it constrains those who are under its influence to take by the hand their fellow men, yea their most inveterate enemies, and pray them, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God. This divine truth instead of leaving the mind barren and lifeless, the soul in a state of supineness, is calculated to produce the greatest mental exertion, to ravish the soul and assimulate it into the likeness of Christ. A system so excellent in its nature, so benevolent in its object, so happy in its consequences, must necessarily inspire the Universalist with increasing desire for its promulgation, furnish him with abundant matter for fervent prayer, in full assurance that, sooner or later, the effects of the redeemer's death shall be experienced by every soul of man, and lead him to exult with the poet, when he says,

“That vast unfathomable sea

Shall swallow all of Adam's line,
And every soul of man shall be

For ever lost in love divine."

Now, my friend, I subunit what I have written to your serious examination, and propose for your deliberate consideration, the benevolence of God in as often shortening the life of man; his promise to Abram, that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed : mark the absolute nature of that promise, “ shall be blessed." Examine the promises of restoration contained in the prophets, for God hath spoken thereof by all his prophets : in particular those which relate to the restoration of Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem. Although the former hash for ages remained an entire desolation, yet God will restore them. The word hath gone out of JEHOVAH's mouth in righteousness, and shall pot return, or be reversed, that every knee shall bow, and every tongue swear to him; which implies reconciliation and subjection: gea, shall say, that in him they have righteousness and strength. Look at the case of Nebuchadnezzar, how he was humbled, and what a confession he made of the true God: hence learn whoever walks in pride he is able to abase: and you know that the reason why singers do not seek after God

« הקודםהמשך »