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All deserve to be damned, and would be damned but for his electing mercy, which snatches some from their merited doom, “as brands from the burning.” The non-elect have no ground for complaint, for their condition is rendered no worse by the salvation of others than it otherwise would be; hence with the pious Baxter we may exclaim, “ Let DESERVED be written upon the gates of hell, but on the gates of heaven be inscribed THE FREE
Author. Did not your creed blind your eyes to the light of reason, my friend, you would be far from satisfied with this disposition of the case ; for, first, as our friend Arminian has shown, endless ruin is not, cannot be, deserved, by acting in accordance with the divine pre-appointment. And, in the second place, if it even were deserved, both justice, and the principle of impartiality, require that either all should be punished alike, or pardoned alike, since all are alike involved in a common guilt. What would be thought of a chief magistrate, (in whom our constitution has vested the pardoning power, for discretionary exercise,) if he, acting on the principle you ascribe to the deity, should pardon one part of a piratical crew, and hang the other, when both were equally guilty ? Would the public mind approve so arbitrary and capricious a use of his prerogative ? On the contrary, would it not arouse against him the honest indignation of every thinking man? If some of the pirates were less deserving of death than others, that would alter the case; but this is not the posture in which your creed places it’: according to it, all are alike guilty, and alike deserving of punishment; and yet that same God whose " ways are equal," and " who will render unto every man according to his works," damns some according to, and saves others contrary to, their deservings! Truly, my friend, to believe this does require a most marvellous credulity!
Arminian. Mr. Author, I like your views of election and reprobation right well, they effectually vindicate the goodness and equity of our Creator: but I cannot be reconciled to your views of foreordination ; nor can I see any use, if they be correct, in your preaching, writing, or using other means for the reformation of mankind. Why, I ask, do you use means in order to an end which is unchangeably foreordained ?
Author. Because they also are foreordained. Isaiah announced
to Hezekiah, king of Judah, that God had appointed him to live yet fifteen years ; nevertheless, this did not prevent, on the part of the sick monarch, a recourse to medical means for his recovery. (Isaiah xxxviii. 21.) “Except these abide in the ship,” said Paul, 'ye cannot be saved," notwithstanding that God had told him that they should all escape, and become converts to the gospel by his
" For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, Sirs, be of good cheer : for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts xxvii. 23—25.) It is presumed that Paul did not preach to these the less on account of the assurance that they were to be given to him for converts ; it is scarcely probable that he excused himself with the plea, that as God had purposed their conversion, it would be effected with or without means. · Calvinist. I fully approve your answer; the purpose respecting the salvation of the elect is indeed unalterable, and the number of the same " is so fixed and definite, that it can neither be added to, nor diminished.” Still, as you have said, he who has appointed the end, has also with it appointed the means whereby it is to be effected : and the same is true with regard to the reprobate ; they are to be damned by the agency of appointed means
s—the gospel was appointed “a savour of life unto life, and of death unto death."
Arminian. The poor reprobate then would have been better off without it, if it is only to prove to him an instrument of final ruin. This is truly horrible! It follows conclusively from your view, that the gospel is an occasion of greater evil than good, by as. much as the number of the damned will exceed that of the saved ! And is this “the gospel of the grace of God ?" Oh! assuredly not. I see now a great utility in preaching on universalist principles, inasmuch as it is to be an effectual means in God's own time and way of bringing into the fold of life the whole of human kind; an end, this, worthy of such means ! and a means, this, (I may add) worthy of such an end ! But to preach the glorious gospel to intelligent creatures for the mere purpose of furnishing an excuse for damning them eternally! God of heaven! how diseased by corrupting creeds must be the mind of that man, who
can tolerate such an absurdity! You affirm that the gospel is appointed as a sure means of bringing about a total ruin to millions—the universalist has it a sure means of accomplishing a final salvation for all.
Calvinist. And according to Arminianism it will prove a sure means of accomplishing nothing! It may, or it may not, just as it shall happen! All may be saved, or none! God may prevail, or the devil ! hell may be useless, because tenantless, or all the universe besides may be depopulated to people it! all is uncertainty, nothing is sure! Now, agreeably to my system, something, at least, is certain ; the purposes of Jehovah, seconded by his power to fulfil them, are a guarantee that he has not created in vain ; nor has Jesus died, nor the scriptures been given, nor the gospel been preached, nor the spirit operated, but that all whom from eternity he designed for salvation, shall be saved.
Arminian. All whom he designed for salvation! I wonder then you don't turn universalist at once; for I am sure it is susceptible of easy and clear proof, that all were designed for salvation ; and if all so designed shall be saved, why then, all shall be saved ! This is giving in to universalism with a witness.
Author. Well, well, gentlemen, we may as well bring our conversation to a close, for you cannot sufficiently agree together to unite in opposing me; on the contrary, you make out a clear proof of my doctrine by the arguments which you urge against each other. One of you affirms, that there is, on God's part, a plenitude of power for the salvation of all: the other, that there is a plenitude of disposition. What, then, is left to me to prove ? for a full disposition to do a thing, and a power adequate to its performance, implies with certainty that the thing shall be done. It must be evident to your candor, gentlemen, that each of your systems, taken separately, “ limits the Holy One of Israel ;" out of both, united, a theory may be framed which will well harmonize with the divine perfections. Universalism, in my judgment, is that theory.
Arminian. Nevertheless, I must still object against both yours and the Calvinian system, that, by assuming that all things are the result of divine appointment, they make God the author of all the sin in the universe !
Author.. We make him the author of all things, indeed; so do
the scriptures; so does common sense ; and so, I may add, does your own doctrine also, as has been shown before. It can make no actual difference between us in this respect that you say, God permits, while we say, he appoints, for the result is the same in both cases. I have a tiger chained to a stake; without my permission it can do no harm; there is a group of lovely children playing near by; the monster is glaring at them, his eyes flash fire, he claws the ground, and gnashes his teeth with rage.
Shall I permit him to get loose among them? It is done ; he has broke his chain; he has bounded into their midst: merciful heaven, what a scene of carnage ensues! their screams pierce my soul! My conscience accuses me of the deed, but I am guiltless ! I am guiltless ! I only permitted it.
An act is sinful only as it is committed with a sinful design ; God's designs, like himself, are infinitely and unchangeably good, consequently, he cannot sin in any act or appointment of his, (however much suffering may be involved in its present operations,) because not only is such act, or appointment, designed for ultimate benefit to all who are affected by it, but the Being who 80 designed has power sufficient to bring such benefit to pass.
The tiger is loose, (by which I would personate sin and misery,) whether by appointment, or permission, you must see that the divine character is equally concerned in the event. Shall it roam and make havoc amongst God's offspring forever? or shall it be destroyed—the wounds it has inflicted be healed, and the subjects of its violence be brought to see and experience, that, all things considered, it was better for them to have suffered from its fury for a time, that thereby their happiness might be enhanced for eternity? Your creed renders an affirmative answer to the former question-mine to the latter. And now tell me, candidly, which answer is the more consonant with the glory, the wisdom, the benevolence of the infinite Creator ? Put your hand on your heart and answer.
To the question, "Why do you write, and preach, since, as all things take place by necessity, you cannot alter them ?" my answer is, I can alter such things as were appointed to be altered by my means. As before observed, when ends are ordained, the means for effecting them are ordained also; there is then all the use for means upon this scheme, as upon any other.
« But how would you reply to a criminal," (I may be asked,) “ who should plead, that as it was foreappointed to him to commit the deed, he ought not to be punished for it?" I would answer him, that it was also foreordained that he should suffer for the act. It was certainly foreordained that Judas should betray the Savior, and also that he should experience the woe pronounced upon him therefor.
If you don't like this view of things, good friend, whoever you be, the author will be most happy to have you refute it: show that it is contrary to scripture; contrary to experience, to fact; and bring forward, in lieu thereof, a scheme which shall unite the suffrages of all these in its favor; which shall better consist with the Omnipotence and sovereignty of the great Jehovah; and not only will the author become your most willing convert, but he will make you, into the bargain, his most sincere and humble bow of thanks.
EVERLASTING, FOREVER, &c.
A BRIEF VIEW OF THE ARGUMENT FROM THESE TERMS.
We are apt to forget, in this branch of the discussion, that the question is not about the meaning of English words; for as the bible was not written in English, the meaning of terms in that language can have nothing whatever to do with the settling of the inquiry as to its doctrines. The proper question before us is, What is the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words, which are rendered everlasting, eternal, etc., in our version of the scriptures ? In the attempt to maintain the doctrine of endless suffering, it has been most strenuously contended, that the radical and most usual sense of these words is unceasing duration. If, however, we attend to their applications, we shall have reason for considering this definition extremely questionable: they are applied to hills, and mountains; to the term of human life; to the Aaronic priesthood ; to the Jewish ordinances; to their possession of the holy land, and to many other things of temporary duration. In one Vol. I.—2 B