Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

also, that all visible things are created by the devil; and upon this principle, they might argue the universality of damnation, with as much ease and certainty, as we, upon the contrary, may argue the certainty of the Universal Restoration, according to that glorious promise of God, Isaiah lvii. 16, 17, 18, 19, "for I will not contend forever, neither will I always be wroth; for the Spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me and was wroth; and he went on frowardly, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways and will heal him I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith JEHOVAH; and I will heal him."

Those who venture to contradict their Maker, and say, that he will contend for ever, and be always wroth; ought to give as good a reason, at least, why he will, as he hath given why he will not; and, consequently, most prove him not to be the Father of all spirits, and the Creator of all souls. If, therefore, it can be demonstrated, that Satan is an eternal, self-existent, immutable, evil being, and that he hath created all, or a part of mankind, (as some asserted formerly, and as I myself have heard lately) or that he hath drawn some of God's creatures into such a union with himself, that they cannot be separated from him; and that he will maintain his crown, throne and kingdom, in opposition to God, to all endless duration; then, and not till then, may the eternity of sin and misery, be concluded from the nature of things, with equal ease and certainty, as the perfection and happiness of the saints.

But if the kingdom of evil, and all the works of sin, Satan and darkness, shall be totally destroyed by Christ, and all things shall be reheaded in him, who is the head of all principality and power, as well as of every man, (See Ephes. i. 10, Col. ii. 10, 1 Cor. xi. 3,-if every knee shall bow, and tongue shall swear, and all things, whether in heaven or in earth, or under the earth, shall confess that he is Lord; and all things whether in heaven or in earth, shall be reconciled to him,-(See Isaiah alv. 23, Phil. ii. 10, Col. i. 20,)-and all kingdoms (not excepting that of the prince of the power of the air) shall be broken and destroyed by the kingdom of Christ, which shall itself be yielded up into the kingdom of boundless love, where judgment shall be no more,-what shall we say of that doctrine, that teaches us the endless duration of evil? So far is the endless sin and misery of the wicked from being inferred from the endless holiness and felicity of the righteous, in the kingdom of the Father, that every proof and demonstration of the latter, concludes equally against the former.

One of the first arguments that ever began to take hold of my mind, and to bring me to think seriously of the system of the Restoration, was. what I read in a little book upon

the subject, called The Everlasting Gospel, &c., and is there thus expressed.

"It is as impossible that there should be two endless contrary things, as that there should be two real contrary Deities, a good God and a bad one, or two sorts of contrary creatures, both of truly divine original, some being made good by God, and others bad. For an absolute and merely infinite duration, which has neither beginning nor end, is, according to the confessions of all divines, yea, of every reasonable man, a property peculiar to the uncreated Being only. But such an infinite duration, which, although it has a beginning, yet shall have no end, can only be the property of those creatures that are of divine original. For as these, according to the language of the scripture, are of divine origin, and therefore are rooted in God, or in his almighty creating power, which has no beginning, they can also be everlasting, their existence or duration can also be without end in God. But whatsoever has not its eternal root in God, or in his eternal creating power, but is sprung up in the creature in this world, by its voluntary turning away from God, and against his holy will, and consequently is an admonition and displeasure to the Most High, and is only suffered by him, such as sin, and the punishment depending thereon, these things cannot possibly be of an absolute endless existence and duration, or remain so long as God shall exist; but must of necessity once cease and be annihilated. For as God is a Being to those creatures which he created good, and which exists through his will, wherein they may subsist and be preserved without end; so he on the contrary, to iniquity and sin, (which against his will, is sprung up in and sticks to the creatures) is a consuming fire, whereby all sin and perverseness in the creatures must be at last consumed, annihilated, and separated from them in the highest degree, in order to restore them to their primitive purity; in the same manner as the fire doth not consume and destroy the gold, but only the dross, and that which is impure."

We will now state some of the arguments in favour of the endless continuance of the happiness of the saints, in the kingdom of their Father: and those which prove that the state of misery shall come to an end.

Christ hath promised, that the happiness of the saints shall have no end; because his life shall have no end, and he is their life.

The misery of the wicked shall end, because the kingdom of evil shall end.

The power of God stands engaged to preserve and keep those who commit themselves to him; and thus, their union with him shall always continue.

The same is engaged to destroy that covenant with death, and the argument with hell, whereby sinners are held in subjection to Satan, and thus to take the prey from the mighty, and the captives from the terrible.

The subjects of Christ are his natural subjects; he is their rightful sovereign: hut

[ocr errors]

Satan's subjects are slaves led captive by him at his will; he is an usurper, and all that are in bondage to him belong to Christ, who will finally draw them all to himself.

Those that are in bliss shall be eternally attracted by him, and shall always choose that which is good; but when evil is broken, its influence shall no more prevail over those that are captivated by it; and they shall feel the consequences of sin in such a manner as to loathe it; and they shall heartily return, and swear allegiance to their rightful King.

There shall be no influence to draw the saints in bliss from Christ, and thereby dissolve his kingdom; but all the influence of God and goodness, shall tend to dissolve the kingdom of darkness, and to put an end to the thraldom and misery of its unhappy slaves.

Thus, I might go on with a long train of arguments upon this subject; but these may suffice.

Friend. It is true, that nothing can be plainer, than that ALL things in these places, must mean ALL beings except God; but then, perhaps, St. Paul only meant, that they should be subject to his control, and not brought willingly to obey. If you can prove this point as clearly as you have the other, and from the same authority, it will seem to put the matter with me beyond dispute.

Minister. This is very easily done; for it Minister. I acknowledge this is the case is universally acknowledged by all Chrisin common conversation, and in such parts of tians, that all things are now, and have ever the sacred history where we are in no danger been subject to his control; for when he was of being misled by it, being well informed by upon earth, in his lowest state of humiliation, the context, or some other passages, or from even the unclean spirits, the most rebellious the nature, or from the circumstances of the of beings obeyed his word; which made those facts, that we must take it in a limited sense; who saw his miracles cry with amazement, but I do not recollect any passage, where any" what thing is this? What new doctrine is point of doctrine is spoken of, in which the this? For with authority commandeth he word ALL is used in that uncertain and unde- even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." terminate manner; and it is necessary that it St. Mark, i. 27. The devils obeyed him unishould not be used in that way, in matters of versally in whatever he commanded them; importance; because we might be led into and could not enter into the swine without his confusion and great uncertainty thereby; not permission; and how disagreeable soever his knowing whether to understand it universally, words were to them, they were forced to comor partially. Wherefore I lay down this plain ply, without daring to complain; yea, they rule, viz., when the word ALL is used in any frequently seemed like humble suppliants; passage of Scripture, and we are not neces- and once we read, they went so far as to adjure sarily obliged, either by the context or some our blessed Lord not to torment them. See other text, or the nature and circumstances St. Mark, v. 7. The winds, waves, fishes, all of the case, to understand it partially; and obey him; all diseases, and even death itself, especially where any important point of doc- heard his voice, and departed at his bidding; trine is spoken of, we are always to understand and to his disciples he said, "All power is it universally, without exception. given unto me, in heaven and in earth.” Matth. xxviii. 18. And certainly now, he is at "the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers, are made subject unto him." 1 Pet. iii. 22. God hath exalted him far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion; and every name that is named; not only in this age (for so I render the word aioni) but also in that which is to come; and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church." Ephes. i. 21, 22. But as though the apostle had known that the sense would be disputed, he hath said, "But now we see not yet all things put under him." Heb. ii. 8

Friend. But can you prove from the writings of the apostles, that they used the word ALL in this large and universal sense?

Friend.-Your arguments would seem very conclusive, for the entire subjection of all things, if you could prove that the word ALL, intends literally and mathematically, the whole, without exception; but this I think, will be difficult for you to do, as you must know that it is very frequently used in common language for a part; and sometimes for only a small part of mankind.

Minister.-Yes, my friend, very easily, and in the most unexceptionable manner. Hear what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says upon this matter: "Thou hast put ALL things in subjection under his feet; for in that he put ALL in subjection under him; he left nothing that is not put under him." Heb. ii. 8.

intend ALL, in the largest sense; for how
would this conclusion naturally and necessa-
rily follow," For in that he put ALL in subjec-
tion under him, he left nothing that is not put
under him;" unless it be premised, that ALL
is used in the universal sense of the word..

Friend. But hath not the same apostle
made an exception, when he used the word
ALL, in some other of his writings?

Minister. Yes, truly; but it is such an exception as justifies this sense of the word, more than a thousand arguments: "For he hath put ALL things under his feet; but when he saith, ALL things are put under him, it is manifest, that he is excepted which did put ALL things under him.” 1 Cor. xv. 27. Here God the Father being alone excepted, proves all other beings to be included in the words ALL things; and that in so convincing a manner, that I am astonished that I did not perceive it long before I did.

It is evident, that the apostle's reasoning would be very inaccurate, if not entirely false, upon the supposition that ALL things did not

[ocr errors]

necessary distinction between all things being
put under him; and all things being subdued
unto him, the former is already done in the
fullest manner; and the latter shall be as per-
fectly and fully accomplished in due time:
Because the creation itself shall be delivered
from the bondage of corruption, into the glo-
rious liberty of the children of God. For we
know that the whole creation groaneth and
travaileth in pain together, until now," Rom.
viii. 21, 22.

All things were subject to his control, even on
earth; and they cannot be less so, now he is
exalted to heaven, to the glory which he had
with the Father before the world was; and
yet many years after his ascension, the apos-
tle says, "But now we see not yet all things"
put under him;" by which he must certainly
mean their being willingly subject unto him;
for, in all other senses, all things are now put
under him, in the most unlimited manner, as
we have seen already. But the apostle goes
on to tell how far the important work is ac-
complished, and that a sure foundation is laid
for its entire completion; saying, "But we
see Jesus, who was made a little lower than
the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned
with glory and honour, that he, by the grace
of God, should taste death for ALL;" (for so
the word pantos ought to be rendered.) There
was anciently a manuscript in use, in which
the words were choris Theou instead of chariti
Theou, that is, for all EXCEPT GOD. And
there is a little doubt of its being the true
sense; because St. Paul makes the same ex-
ception, with respect to those who are put
under Christ, as we have before noted, 1 Cor.

Though what hath already been spoken, may seem more than enough to prove the point respecting the word all; yet there is one passage more, full to the purpose, that I would not omit; it being of itself, fully sufficient to settle the dispute forever:-The apostle, speaking of Christ saith, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him, to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Col. i. 15, 20,

xv. 27.

As the word all is generally acknowledged to be used in its most extensive sense, in every place in this paragraph, except the last, there is no reason to be given why the apostle should change the sense of the word, without giving us the least notice of it; and, indeed, it would be very unkind, if not unfair, for him thus to do; as it would tend to mislead us in a matter of very great importance.

Friend.-L.hope I am not so attached to my own opinions as to be unwilling to hear and consider what may be advanced against them; but the doctrine of endless damnation has been so generally considered as a most important article of faith by all denominations, that I can by no means think of giving it up, unless you are able to establish the contrary system upon the most solid ground, and answer all the scriptural objections fairly, that have been, or that can be brought against it; for I must have all my doubts solved, before I can think of believing such a strange doctrine as this appears to me.

Minister. I must heartily commend your prudence and sincerity. I took the same resolution; and would never receive this view, till I could answer all objections to my own satisfaction; and if you are disposed to inquire farther at another opportunity, I shall be happy in giving you all the assistance in my power.

B

Then the apostle adds, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Heb. ii. 9, 10.

Instead of the word all intending only a part, we find in several places, that the word many intends all, as in Rom. v. 15, 16, 19. "For if through the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. The free gift is of many offences unto justification. For, as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous." Isaiah liii. 11, 12. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many (or the many) for he shall bear their iniquities. And he bare the sins of many and made intercession for the transgressors." These many are called all, in the 6th verse. "All we, like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and JEHOVAH hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

66

But to return to our subject: St. Paul assures us, that though all things, without exception, are put under him, in one sense, yet, in another, he says, "But now we see not yet all things put under him." But he leaves us not in the dark about the matter; but speaks of that effectual "working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Phil. iii. 21. And when all things shall be subdued unto himself, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be ALL in ALL." 1 Cor. xvi. 28. Here we plainly find, a very

CONTENTS OF DIALOGUE II.

OBJECTION. Of the worm that dieth not, and the unquenchable fire, five times threatened by our Lord Jesus Christ in one passage.

ANSWERED.-By reference to the words in the prophesy of Isaiah, to which our Lord probably alluded. Passages from the prophets brought to shew a literal accomplishment of the original words. The dreadful threatenings of future misery to the wicked, implied in those words of our Saviour. They shall be publicly punished and tormented in the lake of fire, which is the earth in its melted or dissolved state. Nevertheless, there shall be a new creation of the earth, and so the lake of fire shall cease. Many instances of fires mentioned in Scripture, of which it was said, they shall not be quenched, which yet have ceased long ago. And of those fires whose smoke is said to ascend up forever. Things contrary are often predicted of the same places and people, and must be understood as occurring at different times. Our Lord's words of every one being salted with fire considered.

OBJECTION. All the fires above mentioned were on earth, and in time; but the fire of hell, being in eternity, can never go out, or cease to burn to all endless duration.

ANSWER.-Those fires on earth that were never to be quenched did not continue to burn as long as the earth remained; and therefore there is no necessity of granting that the fire of hell shall burn to all eternity. Punishments belong only to the ages of ages before Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to the Father.

OBJECTION. The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven, &c.

ANSWERED.-1. By shewing what this sin is, &c. 2. All that bears the name of death shall be destroyed, and all sorrow, crying, and pain, shall cease and be no more. 3. Where sin abounded grace shall much more abound.

OBJECTION. The deplorable case of Esau.

ANSWER. He lost the birthright, and the peculiar privileges that belonged to the first born, but yet he had a blessing from his father of a lower degree. The great difference between them was more fulfilled in their posterity than in their own persons. Love and hatred are sometimes only compara tive, and not positive terms, and only imply a preference of one to the other.

OBJECTION. The great gulph between the region of happiness and misery is impassable.

ANSWER.-Christ has passed it when he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who were disobedient in the days of Noah. This proves a state of conscious existence after the death of the body. The rich man seems to have had compassion towards his brethren. The scriptures constantly hold out punishment in proportion to the sins committed in the present life.

OBJECTION. The case of Judas, of whom Jesus said, "Good were it for that man that he had never been born."

ANSWER.-1. This was a proverbial saying. 2. Both Job and Jeremiah cursed the day of their birth. and wished that they had never been born. 3. Solomon declares an untimely birth to be better than the longest and most prosperous life of one whose soul is not filled with good, and who hath no burial. 4. If Judas had died before he was born he would have escaped all earthly trouble, and future misery, and would have been immediately happy. 5. The Jews as much rejected and doom. ed to woe as Judas.

DIALOGUE II.

Friend.-Good day to you, sir, I was just passing by, and if you have a little time to spare, I should be happy to have some further discourse with you, respecting your sentiments; for although I cannot fall in with your views, yet I am convinced, that your mind is upright in the matter, and that you do not disagree with your brethren for the sake of differing, but for what you believe to be truth.

Minister. I have this to say, (and I can with truth declare it) that I never should have dissented from my brethren, had they only given me the liberty of enjoying the natural right of freely thinking for myself in matters of religion. I sincerely wish to live and die in unity with all that love God and keep his commandments; and I should never have troubled the world with my sentiments, had not great pains been taken to represent me as a heretic, and my sentiments dangerous to mankind; this was done to prevent people from hearing what I had to say in other matters. I was therefore in a sort, compelled to sit down and answer all the objections that were brought against the truth I believed;

which answers drawn (as I trust) fairly from the Scriptures, have satisfied many who have read what I then wrote upon the subject.

Friend. I never saw your answers to objections in print; but in our last conversation, you gave such answers to many questions, as to convince me that much more might be said in favour of the general Restoration than I formerly imagined: but I have a number of objections remaining, which appear to me unanswerable; and which I beg leave to state in the plainest manner.

Minister.-Do, my dear friend; you wil. give me pleasure by being free and open upon this subject; propose all your objections in the strongest manner possible, and I will give you such answers as have satisfied me in the matter; and I beg leave to assure you, that no light, trifling, or forced answer, far less a manifest evasion, would satisfy my mind upon this awful and interesting subject; and if what I believe is not capable of a scriptural defence, I shall endeavour to quit the ground as speedily as possible.

Friend. The word of our Saviour, recorded

by St. Mark, ix. 43-49, forms a very se-
rious, and to me an unanswerable objection
against the Universal Restoration.

Hammon Gog. And seven months shall the
house of Israel be burying of them that they
may cleanse the land."-(See Ezek. xxxix.
4, 5, 11, 12.)
"And it shall come to pass,
that every one that is left of all the nations
which came against Jerusalem, shall even go
up, from year to year, to worship the King,
JEHOVAH, of Hosts and to keep the feasts of

ed. And if thy foot offend thee (or cause thee
to offend) cut it off; it is better for thee to en-
ter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast
into hell, into that fire that never shall be
quenched (or that is unquenchable ;) where
their worm dieth not, and their fire is not
quenched. And if thine eye offend thee (or
cause thee to offend) pluck it out: it is better
for thee to enter into the kingdom of God
with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast
into hell fire; where their worm dieth not
and the fire is not quenched. For every one
shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice
shall be salted with salt."

"And if thy hand offend thee (or cause thee to offend) ent it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched (or that is unquenchable;) where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quench-Tabernacles." Zech. xiv. 16. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith JEHOVAH." Isaiah lxvi. 21. "And they that shall come up to Jerusalem, to worship the Lord, during the time that these bodies shall lie in the open field, shall go forth, and behold them in a state of putrefaction, a prey to worms; and all the nations of the earth shall see God's judgments executed upon those who dare rebel against him, by making war against the Lamb, and against his army." Rev. xvii. 14, xix. 19.

It is also intimated by Ezekiel, that a fire shall be kindled, to burn their weapons of war, &c., which shall last for some time. Hear his words: "And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the handstaves and the spears: so they shall burn them with fire seven years; so that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire." See Ezek. xxxix. 9, 10.

Here our Lord repeats five times, that "the fire is not, or never shall be quenched, or is unquenchable; words of near similar meaning; three times he speaks of hell, as a place where "their worm dieth not;" and to shew the propriety of the sufferengs of the miserable, he says For every one shall be salted with fire;" i. e. preserved by the fire, as salt preserves meat. These are the objections from this passage, briefly stated: are you able to answer them fairly, without any evasion, from the authority of Scripture.

**

Minister-This is certainly a most terrible passage, and deserves to be considered particularly.

There is no doubt but that Jesus Christ had his eye upon that passage in Isaiah lxvi. 24. -And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

It will be of no use for us to understand when this prophecy shall be fulfilled: It shall be when the children of Israel shall return, and be settled in their own land; and their enemies shall come against them, and shall be destroyed, and their carcasses shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, and shall be a prey to the fowls of heaven, and their flesh shall be devoured by worms, which shall not die, till they have eaten and entirely destroyed their bodies.

"Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee; I will give thee to the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field; for I have spoken it, saith Adonia JEHOVAH. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea; and it shall stop the noses of the passengers; and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude, and they shall call it the valley of

Thus have I endeavoured to give the plain sense of the text to which our Lord alluded; and I have not the smallest doubt of its being hereafter literally fulfilled.

I will now endeavour to give what appears to me the meaning of the text before us :-Christ threatened that those who would not deny themselves, and cut off those things that led them into sin, should hereafter suffer infinitely greater inconveniences, by being cast into hell fire. And, oh! who can conceive how dreadful a portion is threatened to some transgressors! that they "shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation! and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:-And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up ages of ages; and they have no rest day nor night." Rev. xiv. 10. 11.

Thus, as the enemies of God, who shall be destroyed near Jerusalem, shall have their carcasses exposed, full of worms, and be an abhorring unto all that behold them; so those who are cast into the burning lake, shall be publicly exposed to shame, and shall suffer openly for their crimes; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend up continually, during those ages that the lake of fire, or the second death shall continue.

But when I consider that this terraqueous globe itself is probably to become the lake of fire, when the elements shall melt with

« ÎnapoiContinuă »