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conversation, and you proposed the correspondence your self. Now if you are willing to admit these facts, I will not differ with you about calling it a challenge from me; but will grant you the liberty of terming it what you please.
You say you "expected something, which at least bore the semblance of argument," but who can discover in all your writing to me, even one attempt to argument, except to show the absurdity of not considering texts in connexion with their contexts?
Now you tell me when you received my first letter, you concluded I intended it only as a sort of a feint, to throw you off your guard, that I might fill you with surprise at another assault; but before, you said you were pleased with my apparent candour, although you disapproved of my sentiments. It remains for you to show how much appearance of candour there would be in that which is concluded to be a snare to assault.
You beg leave "to repeat," saying, "In my opinion, you have not advanced a single inch towards making out your system from this word." Dear sir, you may "repeat" two or three times more, and if you do not accompany them with an attempt of argument, I will call them "vain repetitions."
Your denying my statement, and blaming me for continuing to maintain them, betrays as much inconsistency as to tie a man's legs and then tell him to run.
Your questions I consider rather out of the line of the argument begun; but I am willing to gratify you with direct answers.
1st. I believe the curse of the divine law is, its pointing out to the transgressor the heinousness of sin, and that sentence of coudemnation which its just demerit requires.
2d. I believe all mankind will be delivered from this curse by the only name given whereby men can be saved. 3d. I do not believe an infinite atonement necessary in order for God to be just in the pardon of sin.
4th. I believe a future punishment is inflicted for the same purpose as punishment in the present life. I believe the sinner who is subject to this punishment, with other means, is made better and brought to repentance.
As to a continuance of the correspondence, I cannot say that it is my desire; but if you choose to continue it, I had rather you would do it as a matter of obligation; obligation to your God, and to your conscience; for should you happen to get into so merciful a mode, as to wish to confer upon your friend "a matter of favour," as you now have, he might find you again accusing him of "low witticism, scurrility, play upon words, and whining."
Your friend and well wisher,
SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
Rev. JOSEPH LABEREK,
To SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
Jerico, March 18, 1816.
I received your letter some two or three weeks since, which was an answer to my last, and which contained some answers to questions which I proposed to you; but my avocations have been such, that I have not been able to pay any attention to the subject till now. You complain in your letter, "that you can discern in all I have written to you, no attempts at argument." I acknowledge the assertion is well founded: I made no attempts because I saw nothing to argue against. To attempt to reason with a man who in the very outset, assumes by way of what he calls a statement, the sole point about which we contend, and supposes he bas established that point by the introduction of only two texts of scripture, which had no reference to the subject of controversy, appeared to me perfectly idle. When you have proved from scripture that it is the design of God to bring all mankind to a state of endless felicity, there is no more room for debate between us. But you could not suppose this point settled by the two texts which you quoted from St. John; nothing like it. You can prove that it is the design of God to "raise all mankind from their defectible state," only by one of two ways; either by bringing a positive declaration of scripture, that this is God's design, or by establishing the point by the general tenor of his word. The first you will not attempt; and I do not know, whether you will acknowledge you have attempted the last. If you have, I believe you will agree with me, that you have not made much progress in accomplishing your undertaking. For this reason, Sir, I did not think it necessary to attempt reasoning. But in your apswer to my question, you have given me some knowledge of the foundation of your plan.
I do not know now whether I shall be able to convince you, that I make any attempts at reasoning, but I will try. I will observe, however, that from your letter I learn with regret, what I was apprehensive I should learn, that in order to support your favorite system, you find it necessary to adopt one of the most glaring and pernicious errors that ever disgraced the name of a christian. In order to believe that all men will be saved, you must rob the Son of God of his divinity, and settle his rank somewhere among the finite creatures of God. For you tell me that you "do not believe an infinite atonement necessary, in order for God to be just in the pardon of sin.” But if an infinite atonement be not necessary, such an atonement has not been made, unless you suppose God has performed an unnecessary labor. And if an infinite atonement has not been made, Jesus Christ is not a divine person. For if he be a divine person, his sufferings and obedience must have been of infinite value: of course he made an infinite atonement. But 1 have not time, had I an inclination, to enter here on a proof of his divinity. Besides, it is foreign to my design in writing this letter. I will only observe, that when I look into my Bible, I am astonished that any man who has read and professes to believe that book, can ever question this great truth.
I will attend now for a few minutes, to the answers you have given to my questions. Your definition of the curse of the divine law is, "The pointing to the transgressor the heinousness of sin, and that sentence of condemnation, which its just demerit requires." Whatever else you may have intended to include in this definition, a desert of punishment is very clearly and very strongly expressed. By the word condemnation our lexicographers mean the sentence by which any one is doomed to punishment. This seems to be your idea; for you say, "it is that sentence of condemnation, which the just demerit of sin requires;" or, perhaps, your idea would have been better expressed, had you said, the sentence, &c. which the demerit of sin justly deserves. Demerit is the opposite of merit; that is, ill deserving, or deserving of punishment. This I believe is the common and only signification of the word demerit. Now, sir, had you informed me how long this punishment will be
inflicted, or could be inflicted according to strict justice, our ground of controversy would have been plain. Had you stated how great in your opinion is the demerit of sin in violating the divine law, I might have made this letter much shorter, and saved myself and you some trouble... But since you have not done this, I must appeal to the law and to the testimony, and hope you will be willing to abide their decision.
According to your opinion, it would be just in God to inflict on the sinner as great a punishment as his sin deserves. This you say is threatened in the law; but surely God has not threatened any thing in his law, which would be unjust. You believe all men will be delivered from the curse of this law; even the damned who are sent into future punishment, are to be raised up from their retched state, and delivered from the just penalty of the law, by Jesus Christ. Of course, according to your method, no one of mankind will ever suffer the curse of the divine law. I know no reason, then, why you may not admit, agreeable to your system, that endless misery is threatened in the law. Something is threatened beyond all question. If it is not that misery which the wicked actually do suffer in hell, it must be either some greater temporal punishment than they suffer, or a punishment absolutely without end. If you say the punishment threatened in the law, is a longer temporary punishment, than the wicked do actually suf fer, you must grant that it would be just in God to punish them more than they are punished! If they were dealt with according to strict justice, for aught I can gather from your answers, they would be punished with endless misery. But on your plan they are not punished according to strict justice; they cannot be said to have answered the demands of the law; something has been forgiven them; they do not have justice without mercy...do not pay the uttermost farthing. Now there appears to me to be some difficulty here. The scriptures most decidedly declare, that the wicked in hell are punished according to their demerits. Job, xxxiv. 11. "For the work of a man shall be rendered unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways." Ps. Ixii. 12. "Thou renderest to every man according to his work." Matt. xvi. 27. "For the Son