« PreviousContinue »
felicity or not. And since his benevolence is universal, impartial and disinterested, he must love the good of all his creatures more than the good of any individual or any individuals; and consequently must be disposed to give up the good of any indi- . vidual or individuals, for the sake of promoting the greatest good of the universe. It is the natural tendency of impartial love to treat every object according to its worth. If a rich man sees his house on fire, and values every article in it according to its worth, but cannot save them all, which will he.give up, to save the rest? There is no doubt, in this case, but he will give up the lumber and least valuable articles, and pass through one apartment after another, and seize his desk, which contains his silver and gold, and most valuable papers, while he suffers all the other articles to be consumed in the flames. Or if his dearest friends and connections are to be preserved, will he not seek to save these rather than his property ? His impartial benevolence, in this situation, would be guided and governed by his wisdom. Apply this to the universal, impartial and disinterested benevolence of the kind Parent of the universe. Must not his universal, impartial and disinterested love to the happiness of all his creatures, lead him to seek the greatest happiness of all, and if necessary for that purpose, to sacrifice the happiness of individuals to the happiness of the whole? And now who dares to say but that God, in his universal goodness guided by his perfect wisdom, did see best to decree before the foundation of the world, that part of the angels should be for ever holy and happy, and part of the angels should be for ever unholy and miserable, and part of mankind should be for ever holy and happy, and part for ever unholy and miserable ? And if God did see it to be wisest and best to elect some angels and some men to eternal life, and reprobate some angels and some men to endless death, who will dare to say that it was inconsistent with his universal goodness and wisdom thus to elect and thus to reprobate some angels and some men ? There is, therefore, no force at all in the argument drawn from the universal goodness of God, to prove the doctrine of universal salvation. It is just as consistent with the universal benevolence of God, to make men miserable in a future state, as in this present evil world, where he inflicts ten thousand temporal evils and calamities upon them. The Universalists themselves could see no plausibility in their argument drawn from the universal benevolence of God, if they did not, designedly or undesignedly, overlook the distinction between God's love of benevolence and love of complacence. Though God's love of
. benevolence be universal, yet his love of complacence is not, but is confined to those only who bear his moral image, and pos
sess the same benevolent spirit that he possesses. He loves them that love him, with the love of complacence, but hates all those who hate his holy and amiable character. Accordingly, he declares in his word that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” God always did and always will love Judas with the love of benevolence; but never did, and never will love him with the love of complacence. If the advocates for universal salvation could prove that God loves all his unholy creatures with the love of complacence, they inight fairly infer that he will make them all finally and for ever happy; but they have no right to draw this inference from his universal benevolence.
2. Let us inquire whether the universal atonement of Christ affords a solid argument in favor of the universal salvation of mankind. The scripture plainly teaches us, that Christ did die on the cross to make atonement for the sins of the whole world. Christ himself said, he came “ to give his life a ransom for many." When John saw Jesus coming to him, he said, " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Paul said, “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all.” Again he said, “ We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” And the apostle John said, “ If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." These passages of scripture plainly prove, that Christ died in the room of all mankind, and made atonement for every man, without a single exception. He died as much for Judas as for Paul. But we have no right to conclude, because he died to make atonement for all men, that all men will be saved. And the advocates for universal salvation would see, in a moment, that no argument could be fairly drawn from the universal atonement of Christ, in favor of their doctrine, if they would only consider the nature of his atonement. The sins of men were not transferred to him, nor was he punished for their sins. He suffered, indeed, for them ; but his sufferings did not pay the debt of suffering which they owed to divine justice. They still deserve to suffer the penalty of that law, which they have transgressed, and which penalty he did not suffer, and which, if he had suffered, would not have taken away their desert of punishment. Sin is not of the nature of a pecuniary debt, which one person can pay for another, by suffering. The
atonement of Christ did nothing more than display that vindictive justice, which would have been displayed, by executing the penalty of the law upon the transgressors themselves. It did not render them less guilty or less deserving of punishment, nor lay God, in point of justice, under the least obligation to pardon and save them. It only laid a foundation for God to have mercy on whom he would have mercy, and to appear just in pardoning and justifying any penitent, believing, returning sinner. Though Christ died to make atonement for all men, yet he did not die with a design to save all men. Accordingly he said, “I lay down my life for the sheep," that is, for the elect, whom his Father had given him. Christ's universal atonement is perfectly consistent with God's electing love and discriminating grace. It is true, God has bound himself by promise to Christ, to save the elect; but he has not bound himself by promise to save any others of mankind. And it is impossible to prove from the nature and extent of the atonement, that any but the elect will be saved. Let a man only understand the nature and design of Christ's atonement, and he cannot draw the least argument from it, in favor of Chauncey's scheme, or Murray's scheme, or Huntington's scheme, or any other scheme of universal salvation. There would not be the shadow of plausibility in the argument drawn from the atonement of Christ, if his atonement were not considered and represented as paying the debt of suffering in the room of sinners, which is absolutely false and absurd. Even the personal suffering of sinners has no tendency to take away their guilt and desert of punishment. The personal suffering of the fallen angels, for nearly six thousand years, has not taken away any of their guilt or desert of punishment; but they still deserve to be punished, as much as if they never had suffered the least degree of punishment. And if the personal suffering of sinners cannot take away their guilt and desert of punishment, surely the sufferings of Christ, in making atonement, cannot take away their guilt and desert of punishment. So that the universal atonement of Christ does not afford the least argument in favor of the doctrine of universal salvation. Nor,
3. Do the universal offers of pardoning mercy to sinners in the gospel, afford the least argument to prove that they will all be saved. It is readily allowed, that the Bible abounds with such free, rich and universal offers of mercy to sinners. The evangelical prophet cries, “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, corne ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Christ cried, " If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." " Come unto me, all ye that labor and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And in the parable of the gospel feast, he represents all as invited to corne and partake of it.
We also read, " The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” These universal offers of pardoning mercy have some true meaning, and the great question now is, What do they mean? Are they to be understood conditionally or unconditionally? There is a condition to be seen on the very face of them. There is something for men to do on their part, in order to possess the spiritual blessings offered. Men must thirst for the waters of life, and come to them, in order to partake of them; and men must come to Christ, that they may have life, in order to obtain it. Christ says, “ All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Coming to Christ signifies the same as believing in him.
All the offers of the gospel are made to some holy exercises of heart; such as holy love, holy repentance, holy faith, holy submission, and all other holy affections. And if men exercise any of these holy affections, they are promised eternal life; but if they refuse to exercise holy affections, they are threatened with eternal death. Christ commanded his apostles, and through them all their successors in the ministry, to preach the gospel in this conditional language : “ He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." Repentance and faith are the cardinal conditions, upon which eternal life is promised; and impenitence and unbelief are the cardinal conditions, upon which eternal death is threatened. This is agreeable to the solemn declaration of Christ. “ He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Lest the universal offers of mercy should be misunderstood and perverted, the gospel every where guards them with the solemn conditions of eternal life, or eternal death. Every offer of mercy in the gospel is inseparably connected with the promise of eternal life, upon the condition of accepting the offer, and with the threalening of eternal death, upon the condition of rejecting the offer. Hence the universal offers of pardoning mercy in the gospel afford no argument in favor of universal salvation, but an evidence, next to demonstration, that some men will be damned.
4. Some draw an argument in favor of universal salvation from the universal goodness of mankind. They assert, that there is no such thing as a change of heart, by the renewing and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; and that it is an infallible mark of hypocrisy for one man to think or say, that he is any better at heart, than any other. They deny, that there is any essential distinction between saints and sinners in this life. They hold, that all men are partly bad and partly good, and that none are totally depraved. If they can prove this, it is granted that they can fairly infer from it that all men will be saved. For the gospel does certainly promise eternal lise to all who truly love God, repent of sin, and believe in Christ, or have the least degree of saving grace. But can they prove, that there is no essential distinction between such true penitents and sincere believers, and the rest of mankind? Can they prove, that total depravity has not reigned in the hearts of all men, naturally, from Adam to Moses, and from Moses to Christ, and from Christ to this day? Christ taught the doctrine of total depravity. He said, that sinners have not the love of God in them, and that they have the same selfish and malignant spirit that reigns in the heart of the great adversary. Paul taught, that all men are naturally dead in trespasses and in sins, and that they have a carnal mind, which is eninity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed can be; so that they who are in the flesh cannot please God. It is unscriptural and absurd in the highest degree, to pretend to draw an argument in favor of universal salvation, from the false supposition of the universal and equal goodness of mankind.
5. Some argue that all mankind will be saved, because they are all sufficiently punished in this life. This they consider as a very strong reason to prove universal salvation. They affirm that temporal punishment is all that sin deserves. They affirm that there is not a threatening in the Bible, respecting any future and eternal punishment of sinners. But all men of plain common sense, who have read the Bible, and whose understanding has not been darkened by the blindness of the heart, and by the sophistry of seducers, know that God has plainly threatened future and eternal punishment to the finally impenitent and unbelievers. The law threatens eternal death to every impenitent transgressor of it. Christ abundantly taught the doctrine of future and eternal rewards and punishments. He taught this doctrine, when he said, “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." He taught this doctrine, when he said, “ Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdoin of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He taught this doctrine in the parable of the tares and the wheat; in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and in the representation of the general judgment in