« PreviousContinue »
PREFACE BY THE PUBLISHER.
THE Letters that fill the following pages, were intended to contain an investigation of the doctrine of endless misery, compared with that of the salvation of the whole human family. The advocates for each belief, engaged to make the sacred scriptures the criterion of judging, the ground of examination, and the impartial decision of the subject. But in the pursuance of our labors, no concessions have been gained on either side. It is, therefore, submitted to the judgment of the candid reader, which side the scripture appears the most to favor, and which appears the most agreeable to reason and christian experience, from the arguments and scriptures offered, as the advocates for each sentiment have judged for themselves. The subject is thought to be a serious and important one, embracing the interests of every individual. Our views of the character of our glorious and benevolent Creator, must have an influence on our moral conduct, and tend to sweeten or embitter life, according as they approximate to the light of divine truth, or are foreign from this benignant and salutary principle. Hence the spirit of impartiality and free enquiry should ever be cherished in the human breast. The seat of prepossession and the influence of popular religious tenets, evidently form no small barrier to the progress of truth. From a view of past ages, we see they are as likely to be against the truth as in its favor.
In making these remarks, the publisher would not so much as intimate, that the authors of these letters were altogether free from similar embarrassments; for undoubtedly they are as strongly attached to their respective sentiments, as multitudes that have gone before them. And it would not be a matter of surprise, if the believers of each doctrine, after reading these letters, should have a very unfavourable opinion of the one, who advocated the faith opposite his own. Every sentiment, measured by the opinion of an opponent, to him appears an exaggeration, and un
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 christan 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 auswer 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 information, 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 confirming 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 au 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 state
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.
2d. The justice of God requires the fulfilment of this design,
3. 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 intro duce, 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 situation, 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.