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To. REV. JOSEPH LABEREE.
Barnard, May 25, 1816.
In answering your last, I purpose to write three letters; noticing, in the first, your remarks upon my first statement; in the second, what you have offered on the curse of the divine law; and in the third, what you have said of the design and subjects of punishment. I think your frankness in acknowledging you have not attempted to reason till now, is worthy of notice; especially, when I call to mind, that you expected it from me; and were disappointed, as you write, because you did not find it. It appears then, your disappointment rose, because I had not labored hard with logical arguments; when on your part, you frankly own you have done nothing about them. But lo, a reason! "I saw nothing to argue against.". Was there not a statement, containing a branch of my faith in opposition to yours? Were there not scriptures brought to substantiate the statement? But I am told, the statement in the "very outset;" was "assumed." Yes, you say, "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 has 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." You "saw nothing to argue against." How is this to be understood?...that my arguments were so conclusive, that there was no room for debate? You did not mean to be taken in this manner; but probably many will think it is so, and think you took this method to extricate yourself. But supposing I had assumed the statement; ought you to give it up on that account, and tamely yield with a few complaints? How in this way would a minister adorn a good profession, as a soldier of sus Christ? But assumption is far from being the case.
I will cite you my own words from the first letter: "Thess statements with the remarks are now submitted for discussion, as expressive of my real sentiments:" Thus, so far from being assumed, you see they were only submitted for discussion; and to be admitted true, when proved. In the sentence that introduced the statements, I did not positively state that they were true, nor that I could prove them; but said I shall endeavour to maintain them. If this looks like assumption, what do you think of some of your own expressions? Look at the following quotation: "Now, Sir, I think I might fairly dismiss this subject, and rest till you have cleared up the difficulties already mentioned, and should I rest till then, I apprehend my quiet would not very soon be disturbed." "Prove that all men will absolutely exercise true faith in the Redeemer, either in this world or in that which is to come, and 1 will embrace the dogtrine of universal salvation! but till you have done that, I cannot subscribe to it; and till you have another Bible, y ou will never do that." If you, in the rank of human intelligencès, stand as high as “a common man,” which opinion I learn you have of yourself, and which I never undertook to dispute, I think you must be able to see from the above quotations that I am elear from your charge of assumption! and have the extreme mortification to find that your ac cusation against me is your own condemnation. Were a man to search the Gazettes of our country, printed in a time of war, when the public spirit was inflamed in the dire contagion of party politics; could he find expressions more dogmatical, or more positive assumptions than you have: used.
I have used two texts of seripture to prove my first statement, and endeavored to show my reasonable arguments how they supported it. Now in opposition to this, I have the authority of Mr. Laberee only, that the texts have no reference to the subject. This authority I beg leave to dispute. I do not see why you ought to have the prerogative of saying, they have no reference to the subject, any more than I should of affirming to the contrary. But let us look at the statement, in view of the first text. Je sus says, "God sent his Son into the world;”—and then does be not tell us for what purpose! “To saVE THE WORLD”
It was thought "the world" included "the whole human family;" and "to save the world," was "to raise the whole human family from defectibility to felicity and true holiness;" and that if God sent his Son to do this, he designed to have it done. Now you will not so much as attempt to reason on the subject, because you say it has no reference to it.
Does not your assertion resemble D's in the following si militude? A employs B to clear a lot of land of trees. B gives information of his appointment to his friends and relatives, among whom are C and D; and writes, saying, 'A sends B; not to condemn the land, but to clear the land.' C states to D that it is the design of A to clear all that lot of land. D disputes it. C then produces the written document; but D still persists that it is not A's design to clear that land, and affirms that the sentence C brought, has no reference to the subject of controversy. All that he will allow is, that B should cut out the brush or under stuff, so as to make it possibls to clear the land.
As you appear to be so positive that my statement is not supportable, neither by positive texts of scripture, nor the general tenour of God's word, I will take this opportunity to add more scriptural evidence to its support. "To bring a positive declaration of cripture," you say, I "will not attempt." This will depend upon what you understand to be a positive declaration of scripture. If by a positive scripture to the point, you must have the very word design, it is acknowledged such a declaration cannot be produced;for I do not recollect as the word design is used in the whole Bible. But if a word or sentence can be found that plainly expresses its meaning without argument or inference, ought it not to be considered a positive declaration to the point in question? Then what would be the difference in saying, "God designed to raise the whole human family from defectibility to holiness," and saying, "He will (thelei) have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth?" I. Tim. ii. 4. If the above text had said, "he designed to have all men saved," &c. would you pretend to deny that it is a positive declaration to the point? If you would be at the trouble to examine, you will find the Greek word thelo means, to be willing, to wish, to desire, to
mean or design. Hence the above text would have admitted the word design as well as will; but either make it express to my purpose, and full to the satisfaction of every reasonable unbiassed mind. To make out that this text is not full to the support of my statement must be shown that God does not design what he wills; that all men do not mean the whole human family; and that being saved and coming to the knowledge of the truth do not mean raised from defectibility and true holiness. All or one of these must be pointed out or the text is full to my purpose.
For universal reconciliation, see the following; #2 Cor. v. 19; Col. i. 20. That the reconciled are saved, see Rom. v. 10. For universal justification. see Rom. v. 16, 18; Gal. iii. 8; Rom. iv. 5, where justification is applied to the ungodly. That the justified are saved from wrath; see Rom. v. 9. For a universal gathering in Christ, see Ephe. i. 10 That this was purposed according to God's will, see the 9th verse. Universal life in Christ, 1 Cor. xv. 22. That all in Christ are new creatures, 2 Cor. v. 17; which proves the new birth for all, or that all will be born again.
I am glad you acknowledge the text in St. John, iii. 17, represents God as having a design in sending his Son into the world. Your words are these; "Nichodemus was ignorant, grossly so, of the 'design of God in sending his Son into the world." I think you hold that God had a design in sending his Son into the world, or you could not have supposed Nichodemus ignorant of it; for if he had none, neither Nichodemus, nor any other person, could know it, or be ignorant of it. But you represent Christ as correcting Nichodemus in the words of our text. You are mistaken, says he, in thinking that God will send his Son into the world to condemn all except the Jews. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that salvation might be free to all the human family, whether Jew or Gentile," &c. Now, sir, if the text represent God as having a design, which I gather from your words before quoted, all that divides between us is, what the design is. You say, "it is that salvation might be free to all the human family, whether Jew or Gentile, that whosoever believeth, or will believe in him, shall not perish but have ev erlasting life;" and the text says, it is, "to save the world."
Of these two I will adopt the text rather than your explanation; which in its own language proves my statement, notwithstanding you said it had no reference to the subject; with this proviso, that the world means the whole human family. But here I find I am attacked. It is questioned whether "the world mean numerically every individual of the human race." You first quote John xii. 19. "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold the world has gone after him.” Here it is concluded that the world could not mean every individual of the human race, because they did not all exist in that age; nor is it reasonable to suppose that every individual of that generation had ever heard of Christ. In reply, I would remark, these are not the words of Christ, nor of any of his disciples; but the murmurings of the Pharisees among themselves in a passion. They meant no doubt to represent a great multitude, or almost the whole nation. Your next is John vii. 7; "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth." In this passage you except Christ's disciples, and all those that looked for the consolation of Israel. Now, sir, if from this term world, you except no more, as it appears you cannot, I shall be content; for it proves that the world means all that hate Christ, though others are excepted; and if all these be raised from a state of hatred to a state of holiness, the other may be dispensed with; for the whole need not the physician as those that are sick. Thus you see from the passages you have chosen, there is no exception to the term world, only in those that Christ has taken out of the -world in a spiritual point of view. Your next says, "the world shall rejoice." Here you suppose without doubt the world includes the wicked; then the righteous are excepted. To this explanation I have no objection, and am willing to apply it to John iii. 17; which argues that it is God's design to save the wicked. You still quote another, which represents Christ as praying for his disciples, and not for the world; of course the disciples are an exception to the world. But I find his prayer is enlarged in the 20th verse, (17th chapter) and still more so in the 21st and 23d. One more you quote, "The world hath hated them because they are not of the world." Why were they not of he world? Because Christ chose them out. Then be