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iou with the context as it does by itself. I should have been happy, if you had quoted some text in the context to correct me; but seeing you have not, I will endeavour to clear myself of the charge of inattention to the context. The verse immediately preceding is, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here we are told that God loved the world; and can any person suppose this is inconsistent with a design to save the world? We are told that he so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son;-what a remarkable testimony! But for what? That whosoever believeth in him, might not perish. Can you see any thing here, inconsistent w with God's design to save the world, according to his love? To be sure you may infer that it is not the design of God that men should have eternal life in unbelief. But this effects nothing to your purpose, unless you can make it appear God designs some should be unbelievers eternally. Immediately after this, follows the text I chose to support my first statement. It is completely explanatory of God's design, in sending his only begotten Son into the world; containing meaning complete in itself, and serving rather to explain the preceding text, than the preceding text does that. This is plain by its being introduced by the causal conjunction for. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him, might be saved."
At the close of your labour, relative to my first statement, you say you do not see, as I have advanced a single inch toward proving my first proposition. You, therefore, conclude the above text in connexion with the context, does not authorize a belief, that it is the design of God to raise one soul from defectibility to felicity and true holiness. For it is evident, that if the text goes to prove God's design to save a part, or even one soul, although it be not full poof of my statement, it goes in proportion to the number towords it. But you do not see as it goes one inch; of course, you cannot see a design of God in the text to save one! If the text read, For God sent not his Son into the world to save the world; but that the world through him might be condemned, it seems that with your present optics, in
connexion with the context, you might see that it was full proof of my first statement! If this be your best sight, I confess, brother Laberee, you are very excusable for telling me, you do not see as I have advanced a single inch towards proving my first proposition.
You tell me you think the second passage I quoted is equally foreign to my purpose. There appears to remain as great a difference of sentiment between us now as ever; for I yet view it to be equally adequate; and wish for no stronger evidence of it, than what you have written, admitting your ideas of atonement to be correct. My argument was, the design must be as extensive as the foundation of the work to be accomplished. This is so evident, that I hardly thought you would attempt to evade it. To suppose the contrary, would be to suppose a waste of labour, and a want of proper economy.
You write that you "firmly believe, that Christ made an infinite atonement for the sins of the whole world." But do you believe, that God designed to take the sins of the whole world by that atonement? No; not an inch towards this design will you admit. It is plain by your letter, that Deity was at the infinite expense of sacrificing his infinite Son, to make an infinite atonement, to fulfil his infinite law, which was infinitely violated, by the infinite crimes of finite creatures, that God might be just. and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. And all this is done, not to effect a single inch towards a design to save the whole world!
But if Christ have fulfilled the divine law, then the divine law has no more demands against the offender. This certainly must be something of an advancement towards saving the whole.
You observe, "God could not, consistent with his perfections, pardon sin without a propitiation." As I must be brief, I can only remark here; I think it a pity his imbecility should be assisted by an infinite atonement to take away all sin, unless he has a design to do it. It would be a great expense to no purpose. Perhaps you may think I blaspheme in the use of the phrase, his imbecility; but I speak according to your representation. After the manner of men St. Paul said, “The weakness of God is stronger than men."..
I find an exhortation to listen to what our Saviour said in Mark xvi. 15, 16; but as you have made no remarks, I see no necessity of any remarks from me. Immediately connected with this passage, I find a very remarkable confidential expression, in these words; "Read, if you please, Christ's description of the last judgment; Matthew, 25th chapter, from the 31st verse to the end; and then say, does this favour your idea of the universal raising up of the fiually impenitent, from their 'defectible state,' to eternal felicity." This must be acknowledged more than an approximation to an ironical challenge. When our Saviour was blindfolded, a challenge was given him, indicted in a similar manner. This will appear by comparing them together. See Luke xxi. 64. "Prophecy; Who is it that smote the e?" "And then say, does this favour your idea?” T most material difference that relates to the two expressions, is, one came from the soldiery, and the other from a minister. And I am far from supposing that in this instance the minister has a "just claim to originality," as he thought in one instance his opponent had; for he has but studiously imitated the diction of his ancient precur sors. Whether the minister was as confident that he had shut the mouth of his opponent and put an end to all dispute as the poor ignorant soldiers were, that they had si lenced the great prophet, can only be decided by relative circumstances. But as it was a matter of no valuable consequence, for Jesus to answer his opposers, so I shall not undertake to show at this time that the subject of this challenge particularly favours my statement. At another opportunity, however, I think I shall attempt to show that it is not against it.
In your letter some things are found different from what could be reasonably wished. I looked for candid reasoning, and behold irony; I sought for calm deliberations, and behold a challenge. The follower of the Lord Jesus was anciently under the necessity of opposing prejudices of a hurtful and magisterial nature. Hence it was necessary that those weapons of warfare that are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, should be exercised in vindication of the truth; nor does it appear the time is yet arrived when these should be whol. laid aside as useless in this respect.
I pass to notice your remarks upon my second statemént. You say my argument is, that "God would be unjust if all his rational creatures do not obey" his "law." You are informed, I have a copy of my letter; and by it I learn you have greatly misunderstood my argument. The statement was, "The justice of God requires the fulfilment of this design," alluding to the first statement; and the argument was to prove it. Not that God would be unjust if he did not fulfil it, or that any other being would be unjust if he did not fulfil it: but that justice required its fulfilment. One would think, by your suggesting that you had found novelty in a statement that contained no such novelty, that you have a remarkable taste for novels. He would be the more confirmed in this opinion by your noticing my statement, merely on that account.
To my third statement you accede, and say, "When you have established your first statement, your third must be acknowledged true; till then I think it worth nothing.' Strange! That a statement you acknowledge true, so far as in general terms it relates to the fulfilment of the designs of God, you think is worth nothing, till a statemeut you believe is false, is proved. When you find false things are proved true, then those which you now believe you will es teem to be valuable; till then you think they are worth nothing. Your thoughts and mine are very different. I think statements that I believe true, are worth something without proving statements true that I do not believe. Did I suppose you unskilful in the use of language, I should have concluded you meant, till I proved my first statement, my third effected little or nothing to my purpose. If this had been your meaning, you would have been incorrect; for your acknowledgement shows that it effects all to my purpose that I wished to have it effect; and saves any more labour on this part of the dispute.
I find no remarks relative to my fourth statement; but I find a sentence which I suppose was written as a reason why it was thought proper to make no remarks, which I am at a loss how to understand. You write, "Were a man to tell me the sun was made of sackcloth, I should not think it worth my trouble to bring arguments to convince him of his absurdity." I think you did not mean that my
statement was so uncandid, that it did not deserve an answer; for you acknowledge, my "apparent candour" was such that you were "pleased." Did you mean to intimate that my statement was so erroneous, and indicated so much weakness in its author, that the trouble would be too great to convince him? If so, how much are you like our great High Priest, who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and hath compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out of the way. Did you suppose the statement indicated so much weakness in its author, that you judged him incapable of receiving instruction? If so, the same reason might have spared you the trouble of writing that sentence; or even your whole letter. Or did you think it came so near the truth that it was no matter whether I was corrected or not? I think it becomes an astronomer as well to say, the sun was made of sackcloth, as to say, God has no design to save the world; and a minister of the gospel, much better. We have the works of nature and revelation against the latter; but against the former, we have the works of nature only. But I conclude you wrote the sentence under consideration, as a reason why you neglected my fourth statement, and meant nothing. I have two reasons why I understand it so. One is, my only statement that you acknowledge, you think is worth nothing. As you think a statement according to your faith is worth nothing, it is possible you may think your good reason, contained in the sentence about the sun's being made of sackcloth, is worth nothing; and consequently mean nothing. My other reason is, you were surprised, that I should rest my eternal all upon the mis-construction of scripture, that you hardly knew what you wrote, and meant nothing.
I close the present lengthy letter with sentiments of good will. All candid communications will be gratefully received.
SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
Rev. JOSEPH LABEREE.