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candid, while to one of a similar sentiment it looks fair and reasonable. From this consideration, let it be suggested, that, when improprieties appear on either side, every excuse be made, which charity can find, or humanity approve.
Though I have endeavoured to be dictated by that christian candor and impartiality that well becomes my profession, Mr. Laberee thinks one of my letters so little to the purpose, that, "in justice," I have no claims to an answer from him. He, therefore, gave me to understand particularly, that his letter was granted "as a matter of favour," and not of justice; for he said, "In justice, you have no claim to any answer from me. In this letter which was granted me as a matter of favour, or pure grace, without the least colour of "justice," that I had merited, or could claim from him, he accuses me of "low criticism, scurrility, play upon words, and whining about a challenge." Now what appears the most remarkable in this place, is, that as my opponent thought I had no claim to an answer, and of course would not claim any thing in his answer, that the only time he undertook to rouse his benevolence, his favour could not produce things more precious.
I deem it unnecessary to give the reader any more in formation, concerning what he may expect in the following letters; as he undoubtedly will choose to make his own conclusions, rather than to learn them from one engaged in the controversy. To the candid and generous reader, the following pages are therefore submitted, with the humble hope, that they may be a mean of enlightening and con firming many who are in doubt which way to walk.
SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
TO REV. JOSEPH LABEREE.
I now sit down, according to promise, to introduce a friendly correspondence, on the subject of the extensiveness of salvation by Jesus Christ. As professed ministers of his gospel, it appears that we have fallen into considerable difference of sentiment, in relation to the final state of the whole human family. While you openly proclaim, that he who remains a sinner during this mortal existence, must endlessly remain a sufferer during an immortal existence, I preach that all sinners will experience the salvation by Christ, to be universal and free. An attempt to compare these ideas with the standard of divine truth, must, confessedly be conducted with candour and deliberation, to promote our interests in the discovery and belief of the truth. With such a disposition of mind, I hope to be dictated in every sentence, submitted to the candid and fair criticism of an ingenuous opponent.
In pursuing this correspondence, I make, and shall endeavour to maintain by the scriptures, the following statements:
1st. The design of God is to raise the whole human family, from their defectible state, ultimately, to a state of felicity and true happiness.
20. The justice of God requires the fulfilment of this design,
3d. The Holy Scriptures plainly teach its fulfilment. 4th. The instruction of this doctrine is attended with more salutary effects, in human society, than any other.
For scriptural proof of the first statemeut, I shall introduce, at present, only two passages. The first is found in St. John, iii. 17. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." I deem it a fair conclusion, that God works not without design; and that his design is according to his work. Of course when we are made acquainted with the one, we are able to judge of the other. Being informed that God "sent his Son into the world, that the world through him might be saved," I hereby learn the design of God is the salvation of the world; which proves from scripture every thing for which I contend in my first statement.
The other text I would introduce is I. John, ii. 2. “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." The same observations which I made on the other text, will equally apply to this. If Christ be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, it evidently shows his design to save the world.
To prove the truth of the second statement, I shall cite you to the divine law. The justice of God is contained in his law. I need not quote particular texts; you have them at your own option. This law requires the love and obedience of all who are under it; which love and obedience can only be known in a state of salvation. Toward the most rebellious and wicked the law changes not its requirements; but still demands him to love the Lord God of Heaven, and his neighbour as himself. This principle of love, which the law requires, will enable us to know God, who is love, and whom to know is life eternal. In the fruition
of eternal life, we enjoy felicity and true holiness, which if the law require, the justice of God must require; and consequently demands the fulfilment of the design of God, as represented in the first statement. This being evident, it is plain the justice of God cannot require a contrary situa tion, namely, a state of endless misery. You may, therefore, expect me to endeavour to maintain, that the justice of God requires the salvation of of sinners.
In relation to the third statement, it may be observed, that three things only are necessary to its support; and if in neither of these there be a failure, the statement must be true: or, at least, that God will fulfil his designs. If it can be maintained, that God possesses means sufficient to accomplish; wisdom, to plan; and power and ability, to execute his work; then there can be no difficulty in maintaining, that he will fulfil his designs. His word by the prophet is, Isaiah lv. 10, 11, "For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
The fourth statement is submitted without any remarks, with a request, that if you object to it, you would offer a few reasons.
As you wished me to express in writing, whether I believe there will be a future punishment, I conform to your desire. I think some may be made the subjects of punishment in a future state of existence, or in a state beyond the present.
These statements, with the remarks, are now submitted for discussion, as expressive of my real sentiments; and for the propriety of them, I shall hold myself responsible, until I am convinced they are not true.
With sentiments of respect, your friend,
Rev. JOSEPH LABEREE.
SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
Richmond, August 16, 1815.
MY DEAR SIR,
To SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.
Jerico, September 23, 1815.
I received your letter, not till the 7th or 8th of September, and then I called for it myself at Capt. M's. The week after I received it I was necessarily absent from town to attend our Convention; and the week following, I was employed in preparing for, and attending our Association. This I hope will sufficiently explain the reason why an answer to your letter has been so long delayed.
I read your letter, sir, with some degree of satisfaction; but with much surprise. I was pleased with your appar ent candour; but was greatly surprised, that a man who has the word of God in his hands, and professes to preach that word, should rest his eternal all upon such a manifest misconstruction of it.
Your first statement, (for I will take them in the manner you have set them down) is this; "The design of God is to raise the whole human family from their defectible state, ultimately, to a state of felicity and true holiness." To prove this proposition, you quote John iii. 17; "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." I freely acknowledge, in all its length and breadth, the doctrine inculcated in this text. The object of Christ's mission, when he came upon the earth, in the flesh, was, I believe, to make an atonement for the sins of lost men. But I apprehend, if you had attended a little more particularly to the context, you would not have drawn the conclusion which you have. Do you think it altogether right to take a particular text of scripture, without, in the least, considering the connexion in which such text stands; and build a scheme solely on a very few such passages, in manifest violation of all the plain meaning of all the rest of scripture?