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that God eternally hates sinners, it would be much more to your purpose. And think you, sir, that Jehovah will subject to an indiscriminate destruction both that which he loves and that which he hates ? that he will never dissociate them? It were equally wise in the farmer to destroy both his wheat and its adherent chaff, merely because he found them together in his field ! Or for the lapidary to destroy his precious stones, because of the worthless earths in which he may have found them embedded !
Either God once loved the sinner, or he did not. If he did not, then he created him in hatred, and it is vain to look to the life or character of the sinner for the ground of that hatred, as it took place millions of ages before he was in being! If God did once love the sinner, he loves him yet-he ever will—or he is a finito Being, and affected by finite objects ; but, the scriptures being true, this cannot be, “ for he is of one mind and none can turn him.” (Job xxiii. 13.) God must, therefore, to all eternity love all intelligences ; this love will not prevent their being subjected to just punishment, for punishment aims at a good result; but it will certainly prevent their being ruined; for the ruin of its object is only consistent with hatred.
It is the very perfection of absurdity to suppose that the dispositions of an infinite Being are in anywise affected by the mutations of his frail and short-sighted creatures; this our opponents · must and do admit, and yet they are continually giving to some
obscure scripture texts such an interpretation as makes them teach directly the contrary. For instance, the passage in the first chapter of Proverbs, where Wisdom, personified in the feminine gender, is represented as saying, “ Because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hands and NO man regarded; I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh,'' &c. Which text is usually subjected to the horrid comment, that the Almighty God will laugh, and sport himself with the miseries of his infinitely ruined offspring ! But in their blind zeal to make out a case our opponents seem to overlook the fact, that, thus interpreted, the passage goes quite beyond their purpose.it proves too much, as it includes themselves, with all mankind besides, in a doom of final reprobation—"NO man regarded ;" and therefore ALL men must be endlessly damned! A sweeping conclusion, truly.
The mutability of God is manifestly implied in the common supposition, that although he will bear with the provocations of sinners during the term of their stay on earth, yet so soon as they are removed hence, he will utterly alter his course, and let loose his vengeance upon them without mercy. Some have even supposed that there is a period in the lifetime of each individual, beyond which the divine forbearance will no longer be exercised toward him; if he remains impenitent up to that juncture, he is said to have “ sinned away his day of grace ;" his fate is then sealed. To such an one will apply the language of Abdiel, addressed to the chief fallen spirit, in “ Paradise Lost.”
“those indulgent laws will not be now vouchsafed, Other decrees against thee are gone forth without recall. That golden scepter which thou didst reject, is now
An iron rod to bruise and break thy disobedience.” How hapless the lot of such! For they have learned by bitter experience that the divine mercy is as variable as their own purposes ! The number, however, is comparatively small, who think that life's flickering taper will in some cases outburn the sun of divine mercy; much the most of christians are of the opinion of the poet, that,
“ Whilst the lamp holds out to burn
The vilest sinner may return." But the philosophy is weak, and the theology false in either case; for how in the name of both can God's dispositions toward his creatures be affected by their removal from one department of his works to another ? Can such removal change the relations between the parties? Is God not the same Being in all places? Take, for example, the case of Paul. Suppose that on his way to Damascus, when the vision came upon him, he had broken his neck in falling to the ground; he would then have died an unconverted persecutor of the christian religion. What then? Why then, according to popular theology, he would have been an object of divine wrath to all eternity! But, luckily for him, his neck escaped, and a few minutes witnessed his moral transformation into a chosen vessel of mercy! What a hair-breadth partition betwixt bliss and woe eternal! How unstable the divine regards toward his creatures! and how feeble the chances on which they turn! “I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. iii. 6.) For the same reason, I desire no better; the dogma of interminable misery must be false.
5. GOD IS OMNIPOTENT.-(Rev. xix. 5.)—Whatsoever, therefore, his wisdom prompts him to purpose, his power enables him to execute. By Calvinists this truth is fully admitted, but they contend, that God only purposed the salvation of a part of mankind, and that that part must eventually be gathered in, “ for,” say they, “ God has all power, and will not fail to do his pleasure.” They seem anxious to vindicate the divine wisdom and power, but it is at the expense of his goodness and equity. Arminians, on the other hand, seem shocked at this limitation of the divine benevolence, and contend that God is impartial, and earnestly desires to have all men saved, but from some cause or other will be disappointed! They seem anxious to vindicate the divine goodness and equity, but it is at the expense of his wisdom and power ! The Calvinistic deity is an all-wise, and all-powerful Being ; but partial, and inexorable, who works for his own mere pleasure, uncaring how much misery that pleasure may cost his creatures! His own glory is his continual aim-for this he raises up or casts down-gives life or death—he saves or damns. His glory must reign, though the throne of its sovereignty be erected on pyramids of damned spirits ! The Arminian God, on the contrary, is a kind-hearted, well-meaning Being, but deplorably deficient in prudence and foresight, he is rather to be pitied than blamed when the creatures he formed for himself are wrested from him by the devil, and lured into irrecoverable ruin, for he certainly made them for a different end ! He is rather to be pitied than blamed I say, yet, in truth, he is scarcely excusable in having created beings, of whom he knew himself unable to take the necessary care! and that by far the larger part of them shculd-despite his utmost efforts to the contrary-become a prey to his malignant enemy the devil. Reader, can you in conscience say that I am unfair in these representations ? Universalists worship a deity“ who will have all men to be saved,” (1. Tim. ii. 6.) and who “ worketh all things after the council of his own will," (Eph. i. 2.) whose pleasure it is that all should “turn from their evil way and live," (Eze. xxxii. 11.) and who “ will do all his pleasure,” (Isa. xlvi. 10.) God has certainly not given to his creatures an ability to counteract his infinite purposes! On the contrary, “ He doeth his will, in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and
none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?" (Dan. iv. 35.)
It is pretended, that “none are doomed to final ruin, till God has previously done every thing for their salvation, which, consistently with his attributes, he can do; and that, therefore, the endless misery of the damned involves no reflection on the divine goodness." Supposing this true, does it involve no reflection on his goodness to have called them into being, under circumstances which rendered their endless misery certain ? But it is not true; the weight of Christ's authority stands against it; he testifies that God did much more for Chorazin, and Bethsaida, than he had done for 'Tyre, and Sidon; and that had he done as much for the latter places, “ they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes,” (Mat. xi. 20.) And addressing Capernaum, he says, “ If the mighty works which are done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day,” (ibid.) Now it certainly must be considered a singular fact, that God desires the salvation of all, and yet permits thousands to sink to endless woe, who could have been saved by his doing merely as much for them, as he saw fit to do for others! How is this ? Universalists maintain, that God's love is as strong beyond, as on this side the grave; and that what it fails of accomplishing here, it will infallibly accomplish hereafter ; at least, the ultimate salvation of all men cannot fail from a lack of divine power; if at all it must be from a lack of his goodness. But
6. GOD IS GOOD.-(Psa. lxxxvi. 5.)-Goodness is opposed to evil, it seeks to overcome it, hence the injunction, “ Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,” (Rom. xii. 27.) This, undoubtedly, is according to the divine conduct, for God
would certainly not enjoin on his creatures a virtue which he I will not practice himself; and if the divine goodness shall event
ually overcome our evil, then the existence of evil must forever cease; and, by consequence, the existence of misery also. Lord is good to all, and his tender mercy is over all his works,” (Psl. cxlv. 9.) But how God can be good to all, and yet torment countless millions without any regard to their good, is more than can be comprehended! How his tender mercy can be over all his works, and yet a large portion of those works be abandoned to infinite ruin, is also more than can be comprehended ! Indeed,
there are many things in the scriptures which we must not pretend to understand in accordance with the notion of endless misery, inasmuch as they are utterly repugnant to that doctrine. If the mercy of God does extend to the damned, without alleviating their miseries, or eventually bringing them to a salutary termination, then there is no difference between mercy and cruelty—it is as well to be the object of the one as of the othersince they both produce the same effects. For how can cruelty be better defined than by saying, it is the infliction of torment on an object, without designing any good to that object from that torment? and if infinite mercy will do this, then it is not distinguishable from infinite cruelty. If, on the other hand, the mercy of God does not extend to the damned, then it is not "over all his works,” neither is it infinite, which signifies without bounds or limits.
To me it seems that the question of endless misery can be settled in few words, as follows—The unhappy subjects of endless damnation, is their existence, so far as respects themselves, a good ? or an evil? You will not hesitate to answer, an evil. I again ask, Can an absolute evil emanate from a Be ing who is infinitely good ? No, is the only answer of which this question will fairly admit, and it answers equally well the question, whether the dogma of unceasing suffering can possibly, in this view of the case, be true ?
7. GOD IS JUST.-(Deut. xxxii. 4.)—We are brought into existence by the mere will of our creator; we are compelled to accept of that existence on his own terms, our will is not consulted in the matter; if the terms on which we receive our being are as dreadful as represented by the doctrine of endless misery, it seems but just that we should be voluntary parties in the compact; but such we are not, and, therefore, cannot justly be held to the terms.
A powerful nobleman settles by deed of conveyance a small farm upon one of his tenants; while the latter is rejoicing in his newly acquired property, he is informed, that the conditions of the gift are, that not a single weed must be allowed to grow upon the premises ; that if, at any moment when it may suit the donor to call him to account, there shall be found any such within the limits of the farm, he shall answer for it with his life, and be put