Imagini ale paginilor

torments, most of which have already been prophet says, and it was revealed in mine mentioned and answered in these Dialogues; ears by Jehovah of Hosts, surely this iniquity but he makes use of one which has not yet shall not be purged from you, till ye die, been brought under our considération, which saith the Lord God of Hosts." Isai. xxii. is that the damned are under the necessity of 14. If then iniquity shall not be purged constantly committing fresh sin, and there away after death, it is certain that men shall fore as they will always continue to sin not always continue to sin in a future state, against God, so of necessity their punishment for they must cease to commit iniquity, becan never cease. Have you ever thought of this? fore it can be purged away. And though

Minister.—Yes, I have frequently heard it their punishments may at first cause them mentioned, but as it appears totally void of to rage, (as we see is frequently the case in all foundation in the Scripture, it hardly de. this world) yet they continue until the most serves any notice. The objections that I feel stubborn shall be entirely subdued and hummyself concerned to treat with seriousness and bled. respect, and candidly to answer, are those Friend.—There is another argument of this which appear to be drawn from the book of same kind, viz, that is not founded upon any divine Revelation; but if I must attend to all particular text of Scripture, which is directly those which the ingenuity of men might raise contrary to the one you have been answering, against the doctrine of the Restoration, I which I have formerly thought unanswerable should not only have a very hard task, but in favour of the doctrine of endless punishshould never know when I had done, and ment, which is the infinity of sin, being besides the discourse would dwindle into against an infinite object, containing infinite trifling and conjectures, very unsuitable to the hatefulness, and justly therefore deserving nature and importance of such an awfully se-infinite punishment. Sin is a crime of infinite rious subject. I must observe, that this magnitude, because God is a Being of infinite objection is nothing but a rash ungrounded majesty and perfection. Every crime justly assertion, or bold conjecture, without the least demerits punishment proportioned to its foundation either in Scripture, or reason, and malignity! and consequently every offence if I was to assert just the contrary, I cannot against God demerits infinite punishment. see why my assertion would not be a suffi- No mere creature can ever suffer an infinity cient answer. Nevertheless, lest it should of punishment in any limited duration. It be thought that any objection can be raised, follows therefore, that a sinner deserves to be that cannot be fairly answered, and that I, eternally punished. Farther, every man is knowing the strength of this, would willingly under infinite obligations to devote himself to evade it, I will say a few words upon it. the service of God, his infinitely glorious The Scriptures universally hold forth the idea, Creator, Preserver and Benefactor. To violate that men will be judged, condemned, and an infinite obligation is to commit a crime of punished according to the deeds done in the infinite malignity. A crime of infinite mabody. God will render to every man accord-lignity, deserves infinite punishment. Can ing to his deeds." Rom. ii. 6. * For we it ever be proved then that everlasting, or most all appear before the judgment seat of endless punishment is not the proper desert Christ, that every one may receive the things of a life of sin? I have often said, that this done in his body, according to that he hath argument, trite and common as it is, never done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Cor. v. 10. was, nor ever would be fairly answered : "And that servant which knew his Lord's nevertheless, I am willing to hear what you will, and prepared not himself, neither did have to say upon it. according to his will, shall be beaten with Minister.-As this argument, is often many stripes; but he that knew not, and did urged, as of the greatest weight, and as you commit things worthy of stripes, shall be have stated it in its greatest possible force, I beaten with few stripes." St. Luk 2 xii. 47, 48. shall endeavour to answer it fairly and parThese, and all the passages that speak of ticularly. futare punishment, constantly hold it forth as "If sin is infinite, then we must ascribe to it a jast retribution for the evil der ds done in one of the perfections of the Deity, which this life; but never intimate any thing of strikes me as something absurd, if not somewhat this objection holds forth, of punish- thing worse; sin, a privation, an act of a ment being continued ad infinitum for crimes worm, infinite ? Actions must, in my opinion committed hereafter. Besides, it is plain that take their denomination from the actors, and punishments or corrections are intended to not from the objects. Infinite actions, or stop men from sinning, and under the divine actions of infinite magnitude require infinite egency to take away their sins. “ By this power to perform them. If sin is of infinite therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged: magnitude, goodness is more so, as deriving end this is all the fruit to take away his sin.” a power from God to the performance of it. Isai. xxvii. 9. This is universally allowed But if you grant that David spoke in the to be the design of troubles and sorrows in name of the Mediator in Psalm xvi. you may the present life, and why not in the next be at once furnished with a proof, that even state also ? The Scripture says nothing to goodness, in the highest state in which it ever forbid this idea, but much to encourage it; was exhibited in the world, was not consider particularly that awful passage where the ed as of infinite magnitude by the great per


formor. “Thou hast said unto Jehovah, / ways, nor punish them as their iniquities de

Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth serve, unless they are doomed to endless y not to thee. But to the saints that are in the misery; what then will become of all those

earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all threatenings where God threatens to punish my delight,” verse 2, 3. If acts of goodness people for all their iniquities, and yet to shew were of infinite magnitude they must extend favour to them afterwards? This is impossito God, but the speaker, in these words, be ble upon your plan, for none can ever receive he who he may, David or Christ, was careful all the punishment due to their sins, during to let us know that he did not conceive his numberless ages. Yet if the word of God be acts of goodness infinite. And if acts of true he can deal with transgressors as they goodness are not infinite, it would be absurd have done, and yet be gracious to them afterto call evil actions infinite, which proceed wards. For thus saith Adonai Jehovah, I wholly from the creature.

will even deal with thee as thou hast done, I grant indeed that there is a passage of which hast despised the oath in breaking the Scripture which mentions the word infinite as covenant. Nevertheless, I will remember my belonging to sin and iniquity, but then it is covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, mentioned in such a connexion as shows it to and I will establish unto thee an everlasting be used as Josephus frequently mentions it, covenant. That thou mayest remember and for a very great multitude. And thus it is be confounded, and never open thy mouth any used by many good authors, who certainly do more because of thy shame, when I am pacinot mean to use it in the first and proper sense fied towards thee for all that thou hast done, of the word. The sacred writer, in the pas- saith Adonai Jehovah.” Ezek. xvi. 59, 60, sage alluded to, takes particular cate to guard 63. us against any such idea, as though sin was of Here is an instance to the purpose of those infinite magnitude, or virtuous and righteous whose sins were of the deepesi die, and to actions, which approach far nearer to infinity, whom God threatens to deal as they had done, as having their source from the fountain of and to punish them for all their numerous and infinite goodness. For Eliphaz says, “ Can aggravated transgressions, and yet to remema man be profitable unto God, as he that is ber mercy for them afterwards, and to be pawise may be profitable unto himself? Is it cified towards them for all that they had done. any pleasure to the Almighty that thou art All which things would be absolutely imposrighteous ? Or is it gain to him that thou sible, according to your ideas. In many makest thy ways perfect? Will he reprove other parts of Scripture God promises to renthee for fear of thee? Will he enter with der to transgressors according to their works thee into judgment ? Is not thy wickedness and ways, and yet to be afterwards gracious great? And thine iniquities infinite ?" Job unto them. And in one place, at least, where xxii. 2-5. And language very similar to the God is declaring the great mercies which he above is used by Elihu: “If thou sinnest what will manifest unto the children of Israel in redost thou against him? Or if thy transgres- turning them to their own land, and causing sions be multiplied, what dost thou unto him ? them to dwell safely therein, he says, “ And If thou be righteous, what givest thou him ? first, I will recompense their iniquity, and Or what receiveth he of thine hand? Thy their sin double; because they have defiled my wickedness may hurt a man as thou art, and land, they have filled mine inheritance with thy righteousness may profit the son of man." the carcasses of their detestable and abiminable Job xxxv. 6–8.

things. Jer. xvi. 18. What do you think These expressions, if they teach any thing, of this? If every offence is of infinite mag. I should think, expressly declare, that no ac- nitude, and deserves infinite punishment, tions of men can by any means be of infinite which can never be fully executed, then how magnitude, in the sense in which we com- can God punish a people for all their iniquimonly understand that worl; though their ties, and do to the greatest sinners as they numbers and magnitudes n ay be so great as have done, yea, and recompense their iniquito be styled infinite, as the sord is soinetimes ty, and their sin double first, and then be graused.

cious unto them, and love them, and be You assert in consequence of your ideas of pacified towards them afterwards ? And the infinite sin, that every offence against God de- prophet Isaiah says, “Comfort ye, comfort ye merits infinite punishment. If the case be so, my people, saith your God. Speak ye coindoes it not tend entirely to take away the dis- fortably uplo Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that venution which God hath made between sins her warfase is accomplished, that her iniquity of infirmity and sins of malice, sins of igno- is pardor.ed; for she hath received of the rance and sins of wilfulness, lesser and great- Lord's hand DOUBLE FOR ALL HER SINS." Isai. er sins ? All sins are offences against God, xl. 1, 2. Here a fact is said to be accomand if every offence against God is of infinite plished, which upon your scheme can never be magnitude, how can any be greater ? and thus done to all eternity; for if every offence the distinctions are entirely destroyed, and, all against God is of infinite magnitude, and desins will be esteemed equal, contrary to the serves infinite punishment, none whole tenor of ene Scriptures.

have received single for one of their sins, far If every offence against God demerits less double for all. infinite punishment, then it will follow, that And therefore nothing can possibly be more

can ever

trite and common argument, that as every sin black night, one in endless damnation, and is of infinite magnitude, so it justly demerits the other in gloomy annihilation. But on infinite punishment, which as no mere crea- your plan light rises out of obscurity, and a ture can bear, must necessarily subject all who glorious day succeeds the darkest scenes. are recompensed according to their own doings This view of things sets the Book of divine to endless misery.

Revelation in the most pleasing light, and apBesides, if I was to grant you, contrary to pears, for aught any thing that I can see,conScripture, reason and common sense, that sistent with the Divine perfections. But why, every offence is of infinite magnitude, and since you believe the Universal Restoration, naturally deserves infinite punishment, how do you not mention it more freely and fully, would you prove from that, the certainty of in your public discourses? endless misery? Do you make nothing of the Minister. On the other hand, some ask me, reconciliation which our Lord Jesus Christ Why do you ever mention it at all in your has made for all sinners and for all sins? sermons; since it is not essential to salvation

Let me ask you seriously, did not Christ to believe it? To them I give these answers: make a full and complete offering and pro- 1. St. Paul declared to Timothy, that this pitiation for the sins of the whole world ?' Is Universal Gospel of God's being the Saviour, it not certain that his merits were far greater or Restorer of all men, but especially of those than the demerits of all mankind? Is he not that believe, was a faithful saying, and wor. the lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of thy of all acceptation; and that they laboured the world? If Christ died for all men, with- and suffered reproach, because they trusted in out exception, as you grant, and removed all God, as the universal Saviour. But he was their iniquities, and bore them away, and re- so far from being ashamed of this belief, that conciled all to God by his death while they he said to Timothy, "These things command were enemies; much more as he has paid so and teach.” 1 Tim. iv. 9–11. And so am I great a price for their ransom, he will recover determined to do, at proper opportunities : them out of their lost estate, and save them notwithstanding the reproach and contempo by his life. “ Where sin abounded, grace awaiting me for so doing. did (or shall) much more abound. That as 2. Though it is frequently said to be a sin hath reigned unto death, even so might matter of little or no consequence, if true; yet grace reign through righteousness unto eter- if it be any part of the record God hath given nal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. v. of his Son, (as I think I have proved) we are 20, 21.

in danger of making him a liar, if we believe I conclude, that let sin be ever so great, the it not. See 1 Jo

ver. 9-11. grace of God is greater; and if you will have 3. Though you may be Christians, and not it that sin is of infinite magnitude, I hope you believe it; yet I cannot; though once I could will not deny the propitiation of Jesus Christ, also. But now the evidences of its truth apwhich he made for all sins, the same charac- pear so plain to my mind, that it would be ter. Therefore if you magnify sin, and insist criminal in me not to believe it; since I do beupon the greatness of its demerit, I will en lieve it, would it not be highly dishonest in deavour to magnify the all-powerful Redeem- me to deny it? I have never done so yet, ET, above it and speak of nis power to redeem when asked ; and God forbid, that I should all the human race for whom he shed his he ashamed to publish, what he has comblood. And then you will gain nothing in manded to be made known. favour of the doctrine of endless damnation, 4. I have commonly acted merely on the by all your arguments founded upon the in- defensive, and I never should, that I know of, finity of sin. Christ being far more infinite to have preached it in pablic, or but rarely, far save, than sin can be to destroy; and as he less have written upon the subject, had it not has undertaken to redeem and bring back been represented as a dangerous and destructhose who were lost, there is no danger of his tive heresy; and people been cautioned against failing to perform it.

hearing me, on that account. Friend.--I must confess that what you 5. Í have been frequently desired to preach have said on this head entirely convinces ine, upon the subject, expressly; and could not that we cannot found the eternity of punish- well refuse, without betraying a cowardly disment, upon infinity of sin; and you have position. given me more satisfaction upon many points 6. I ask, Who is the best man; he who in these conversations than I ever expected preaches the truth contrary to his judgment, to receive. I am indeed at length almost for interest, or to gain applause ; or he that persuaded to receive your sentiments, though fairly speaks as he thinks, without disguise ; I once thought that it was impossible to an- although he knows that it will displease his swer all my objections, yet you have gone far best friends on earth; even upon the suppotowards it. Nay I cannot at present recollect sition that he errs in many points? If there any thing material, but what you have an be an heretic, in the world, it is the man who swered. I would not be too hasiy in adopting for the love of money or applause, or through this system, but after your example will consid- the fear of man, preaches that to others which eri: well. But there is certainly something he himself doth not believe. “ He that is such, more grand, beautiful, and harmonious in this is subverted, and sinneth; being condemned view, than can be found in any other scheme; of himself.” Tit. iii. 11. for both the other systems end in d--bunce and 7. If we are 10 hold forth nothing to man

kind, but what all are agreed in, we must dis-, fair investigation; and, therefore, I never course upon very few subjects ; for I do not mention it at all, at my first preaching in any recollect so much as one, but what people place; nor unless I have sufficient opportunieither disagree about the thing itself, or the lies to discuss it. manner of explaining and holding it; no! 7. Christ says to his disciples—"I have not even the being and perfections of God; yet many things to say unto you; but ye nor any point of doctrinal, experimental, or cannot bear them now." St. John xvi. 12. even practical religion.

And St. Paul says" And I, brethren, could 8. We are to endeavour to teach mankind not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as what they know not, as well as to confirm unto carnal; even as unto babes in Christ: I them in what they are already taught; should have fed you with milk, and not with meat; keep back nothing that may be profitable to for bitherto ye are not able to bear it; neither them; should give meat to strong men, as yet now are ye able." 1 Cor. ii. 1, 2. well as milk to babes, and should not shun to "Strong meat belongeth to them that are of declare the whole counsel of God. We ought full age; even those who dy reason of use, to justify the ways of God to men, to shew have their senses exercised, to discern both the necessity and harmony of Divine Revela- good and evil.” Heb. v. 14. Therefore, as tion, and take pains to convert infidels; all the Saviour and his apostles adapted their which things are more promoted by this view subjects and discourses to the circumstances than any other.

of their hearers, and treated them in a gentle As to your question, why I do not dwell manner; so should we.

Prudence, patience, more upon it? I answer:

and care, should always be used in dis1. There are a thousand other subjects in coursing on a doctrine so deep and awful as the Bible, besides this; and all deserve con- this; and, especially, as it hath been so little sideration, according to their weight and known of late ages. importance.

8. I would wish to establish well the first 2. I have an utter aversion to going always principles of Christianity, before I meddle in the same round of matter or manner; and, with any thing else; and as to the doctrine therefore I frequently vary in both.

of the Restoration, I would rather that it 3. There are many other subjects of more should seem to be naturally inferred from present importance than the belief of this ; truths already known, than delivered as an such as repentance, faith, hope, love, obe independent system: I, therefore, seldom or Hience, &c., and therefore ought to be more ever make it a leading point in my disfrequently insisted on, in proportion to their courses; but sometimes lead to it, as a napresent use.

tural consequence of what has been said. 4. There are many scenes of providence After all, I would choose that men should and grace to take place in the universe, be- discover it themselves, by carefully reading fore the general Restoration ; such as the the Scriptures, without prejudice, believing Millennium, the calling of the Jews, the uni- them to be strictly true; by living in love versal spread of the gospel through the earth, towards God and man; by walking in hu&c. These things are much nearer, and mility, often reflecting on their former estate; therefore the Scripture speaks more of them; and constantly viewing the sufficiency of and what God speaks most of, in his word, Christ, and the boundless love of their great we should discourse of most to the people. Creator; rather than to learn it of any man,

-5. This doctrine, though it may have its far less still, of such an unworthy worm as use in converting men; and certainly enables I am. those who believe it, to set forth the terrors 9. As far as I know my own heart, truth, of the Lord, and his mercies, in a more in love is my constant aim. I am unconnectstriking manner than otherwise they could; ed with any party; and am not so prejudiced yet it is chiefly useful in comforting the peo- in favour of any thing that I hold, but that I ple of God, and, in part relieving them from would willingly be convinced in any thing, that bitter anguish which their tender minds by proper evidence; and when so convinced, feel, from the consideration of the vast num- I am ready to retract publicly. As, therebers that perish; and, therefore, may not be fore, I do not feel myself personally interest80 proper for a popular audience as many ed to support the system, right or wrong; I other subjects.

have, therefore, dwelt much less upon it, 6. The plan of this grand Restoration is so than most preachers do upon their particular vast, includes so many different and seeming- sentiments, ly. contradictory dispensations, that it cannot 10. When I first embraced these views I be fairly stated, and fully defended, in one was obliged to give some account of my sermon, and especially the objections answer- reasons; and I chose rather to do it by ed; and many persons are not capable of writing than preaching. Accordingly, I pubtaking in and digesting at once, so many sub- lished my sentiments, and answers to many jects as are necessary to the understanding objections; which publications being in the of this matter, and have not patience to attend hands of those to whom I preached, made to a long series of demonstrations, arguments, it less necessary for me to discourse upon and proofs; and, therefore, this doctrine those matters in public, or even in private, as should not be introduced by any man, in any I could refer to what I had written ; and

lish these familiar discourses, which we have them against what is thus intruded upon had together; after which it will be less ne- them. It is the best way to give time and cessary than ever for me to preach the Re- leisure to persons, whom you would wish to storation publicly; yet, I will not wholly convince; and let them exercise their own avoid it ai convenient times, and in proper faculties. circumstances.

Friend.--I must confess that what you 11. Lastly, as I know so much of the na- have advanced is highly satisfactory to me, tore of man, as to be sensible that he turns, and I trust will be so to many others who with disgust and loathing from what is per- may read these conversations, which I hope petually crammed down his throat; but to have the pleasure of seeing in print before felishes that which he falls upon, as it were long; and in the mean time, I wish for a accidentally, and comes into by little and lit- blessing to attend your labours, and that you tle; I have always made it a rule never to may be an instrument of much good to man intmduce it, in public or private, unless kind in your day and generation, and that here it was earnestly desired, nor ever to you may obtain a crown of life from the continue it long together; and, above all, Lord the righteous judge, in the day of his Deser to question people upon the subject, appearing. after discoursing upon it; asking them, say- Minister.-] thank you most kindly for ing, Do you believe it? &c. Nor would I your benevolent wishes. I heartily wish the ever wish to press them with the arguments same blessing may come to yourself. And at once and oblige them immediately to if I have been an instrument of giving you yield; as this kind of conduct, so far from any satisfaction, let all the glory be to God, answering any good purposes, commonly sets | but let me have an interest in your prayers.




[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The following is taken from a course of Lectures on the Prophecies, by the Reverend Author

of the preceding Dialogues. *Then cometh the end, when he shall have de ment: but I have in the course of these Leclivered up the kingdom to God even the Father; tures given my thoughts so fully upon these when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath opinions and the reasons why I cannot conpar al enemies under his feet. The last enemy cur with them, as that I trust Í have no need ibu shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put to repeat them in this place. We may here al things under his et. But when he saith, ali once more observe, that the word rendered things are put under him, it is manifest that he is everlasting, does not signify endless, even Excepted who did put all things under him. And when applied to the kingdom of Christ; (as when all things shall be subdued unto him, then it freqnently is in the Scriptures) since here pu: all things under him, that God may be all in it is positively asserted, that there shall be ail."'-1 Cor. xv. 24-28.

an end to the glorious kingdom of the Son of

God, so often called an everlasting kingdom This is the only passage of Scripture that in our translation: but which I humbly apcontains any intimation of Christ's delivering prehend, might better be called a kingdom of up the kingdom to the Father, but as it was ages. written by divine inspiration, this grand event Then cometh the end; when he shall have deand closing scene is by no means to be dis- livered up the kingdom to God even the Father, pated, or explained away.

when he shall have put down all rule and all In discoursing upon this glorions subject, I authority and power. shall follow the order of the words, and make He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, such remarks as may present themselves to even the Father; but not until he liath put my mind as I pass along.

down all rule and authority, and all power. For Then cometh the end, &c. These words teach the Kingdom was given to him for this very as the important truth that the Mediatorial purpose, and this he will certainly accomplish, dispensation will as certainly come to a peri- to the praise and glory of his name.

His enad or close, as any other dispensation ever gagements he must fulfi), according to the did ; though it is by no means of so short a nature and tenor of the counsel of peace, which deration as many take it to be. Some make was between the Father and his will beloved it to end at the second coming of Christ; and Son; for (as the prophet says) “The counsel stbers immediately after the general Judg-1 of peace shall be between them both.” Zec.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »