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mercies speedily prevent us; for we are brought very low. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies."
These passages appear to me sufficiently luminous to set the question at rest; but a passage will be produced from the New Testament, which ought to settle the point beyond controversy. In the first chapter of Luke, the father of John the Baptist, thus speaks; "And thou, child shalt be called The Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give the knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
These texts serve to exhibit the sense in which the term tender mercies was used by the inspired penmen. Should you furnish a better rule, to determine the sense in which words and phrases are used in the Bible, than the comparison of scripture with scripture, the use of this method ought in future to be considered as obsolete. But until that better rule be discovered, I shall argue from the best rule yet discovered, that the text alludes to spiritual blessings. That the quotations, already made, show the text, Ps. 145, to signify the remission of sins through the tender mercy of our God, is too clear to controvert; and if this be not salvation, even on your own hypothesis, you are left to give your own definition in words better suited to the subject. On the first text I argue, that the language is without limitation. If all nations whom God has made are to worship before him, and if in this worship they shall glorify the name of their Maker,
even orthodoxy run mad must be unable, by the most sublimated sophistry, to separate the Universality of spiritual worship, from the universality of the creation. On the second text, the same argument may be repeated. But I proceed to further testimonies.
The author of the Apocalypse, after stating the number of the sealed to be one hundred and fortyfour thousand, says; "After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen; Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thankgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
In the 3d verse of this chapter, (the 7th) we learn that those who were sealed, are "the servants of our God." But the sealed, the chosen, are but the first ripe fruits, the earnest of a plenteous harvest. After these, came the innumerable multitudes, the all nations, and families, and kindreds, and tongues, and people; yea, the every creature in heaven and earth, and all which can be comprehended by the term universe, which are all included "in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." Rev. 21: 3, 4, 5.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the
former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful."
On this I shall merely remark, that if "there shall be no more DEATH, neither sorrow, nor crying, nor pain, endless suffering is not revealed in the scriptures, it is a mere figment of the imagination, an ignis fatuus "which leads to bewilder," and like that in the natural world, ever eludes the grasp.
I have thus, without attempting to give the strength of our testimonies, produced no less than four passages in proof of the doctrine, which, being found in the Bible, will oblige you to doubt the competency of Christ and his apostles, as teachers of religion. You may soon be satisfied, that the testimonies in favour of Universal Salvation are as direct, and more numerous, than those in favour of Universal Creation. If you hesitate in giving credit to the one, you will be under the necessity of doubting the other, for I hold myself bound to prove by scripture, that God is not the sole author of Creation, the moment you adduce proof that he is not the Saviour of his creation, of all his creatures.
I shall now examine a charge brought by you against Universalists in the following sentence of your ninth Letter;"With a view to disprove the doctrine of future punishment, Universalists are very fond of appealing to the sympathies of our nature, especially to parental feelings."
It is needless to deny this charge; we plead guilty, and shall quote scripture and orthodoxy in justification. Isaiah represents the unbelieving Jews as saying, "The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. But what is the answer! Does it not furnish proof that the prophet was also guilty "of appealing to the sympathies of our nature, especially to parental feelings?"
"Can a woman forget her SUCKING CHILD, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my HANDS; thy walls are continually before me."
After the prophet Hosea has said, " Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone;" and notwithstanding the dreadful doctrine drawn from the text by the orthodox, the sympathies of the human heart are sufficiently warranted by the subsequent language of the same prophet. "Is Ephraim my dear Son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still." And again—“Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him, I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found."
But, not to multiply quotations, let us inquire whether sympathy dwelt in the breast of Christ and his apostles. Christ, in speaking of the stiff-necked and rebellious Jews, says, "How often would I have gathered thy children," &c. "O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day," &c. But Paul declares in one word, that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. Is not an appeal to the goodness of God, and to the mercies of God, an appeal to the sympathies of our nature? But orthodox testimonies are not wanting. The following is from the Evangelist;
"To her in the form of pity, sorrow owes many kind alleviations, and virtue ascribes many of her triumphs. To thee, angel of consolation, may the wretched appeal for peace, and hope, and comfort. To thee, the social circle owes its charms, and friendship her strong and tender influence. Woe to him who heeds not thy persuasions; he hath already leagued with hell, and hath covenanted with the children of darkness.”
After reading the above quotations, you are left to furnish an apology for the gross attack that is made in the citation from your Letters, on the sympathy of our natures. But this is not all, you are called upon to give a reason for those astonishing exertions made by the abettors of your system, for the salvation of the heathen. Are you in earnest for their good, or do these systematic operations proceed from a spirit not recognized in the scriptures?
I shall close the present Number by examining a Hopkinsian sentiment admitted into your Letters. If the admission of its truth lead you into a labyrinth of contradictions, the fault is not mine.
"Now it is admitted on all hands, that God is a being of infinite goodness. His natural and moral perfections render it certain that he will govern the universe in such a manner as will, on the whole, secure the greatest possible sum of happiness. But what does this prove? That no evil natural or moral, can exist under the government of God,—that all the subjects of his empire must be holy and happy?"
To this I reply; if the premises be correct, the conclusion is certain, for Universal holiness and happiness must be the result. All the ingenuity of Samuel Hopkins, aided by all his followers, has not been able to extricate the sentiment from the palpable absurdity of connecting it with the tenet of endless misery. If the greatest possible sum of happiness be consistent with a great sum of misery, then is either the goodness or power of God deficient. Is God dependent, or independent? If the doctrine of fatalism prevent him from the full exercise of infinite benevolence, the being whom we worship as God is a mere idol. If he WILL the salvation of all, and may yet be disappointed, by what surety do we know he may not be disappointed in the salvation of a single soul?But you seem to argue, that as evil, natural and moral,