Page images
PDF
EPUB

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, scurvility, play upon words, and whining."

Your friend and well wisher,

SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.

Rev. JOSEPH LABEREE.

MR. LOVELAND,

LETTER VII.

To SAMUEL C. LOVELAND.

Jericho, 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 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. 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 quot ed 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 answer 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 persop, his sufferings and obedience must have been of infiuite 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 condannation, 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 wretched 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 suffer, 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. lxii. 12. Thou renderest to every man according to his work." Matt. xvi. 27. "For the Son of

man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works." And v. 25, 26. Rom. ii. 6, 8, and 9th. Cor. v. 10. James, ii. 13; and Rev. xiv. 10; and xxii. 12; and many other passages, which very plainly, I think, contradict your assertion, that the wicked who are punished in the future world, are not punished according to their demerits; or, what is the same thing, are delivered from those punishments which are threatened against the violators of the law; and, at the judgment, are sent away in everlasting punishment. Can you think, sir, of any greater punishment than that which is threatened in these passages I have quoted, and which the wicked are said to suffer? If there is any greater punishment, threatened any where in scripture than the punishment which these scriptures declare, the wicked shall actually suffer in a future world, it has hitherto escaped my observation and knowledge. But you say all mankind will be delivered from the curse of the law by Christ; that future punishment is inflicted on the wicked to make them better and bring them to repentance; of course they are forgiven, and do not suffer "that sentence of condemnation, which the just demerit of sin requires." If you can reconcile this with the word of truth I would be glad to see it; but I confess it is beyond me to do it. If the wicked have judgment without mercy; do not come out of prison, till they have paid the very last. mite, and so on; and yet do not receive that sentence of condemnation which they deserve, but are delivered from it, I certainly do not know, how any man will ever be able to understand the language of the Bible.

There is another difficulty I will just mention here.

[ocr errors]

Our Saviour, you recollect, says there is one sin which shall never be forgiven. Matt. xii. 32. "Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.' Now all who are saved are saved by grace through faith, and that not of themselves, it is the gift of God. Christ is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Surely then, none can be saved by Christ, only those to whom he forgives sin. And if the blasphemer against the Holy Ghost is never forgiv

« PreviousContinue »