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the twenty-fifth of Matthew. After such plain and positive declarations and predictions of future and eternal rewards and punishments, none who pay a due regard to the Bible, can believe that all men will be saved. Thus weak, impertinent and absurd, are the supposed strong reasons in favor of universal salvation.
1. If no arguments can be drawn from the strong reasons, or fundamental principles, upon which the doctrine of universal salvation is founded, in favor of it; then no arguments can be drawn in favor of it, from any passages of scripture, which have been, or can be adduced to support it. All denominations of christians endeavor to read the whole Bible into their scheme of doctrines, and especially the Universalists. They quote and apply a multitude of texts to prove that all men will be saved, and while they explain the passages they cite, according to their own false principles, they carry a great degree of plausibility to many people. But if the passages they adduce be rightly explained according to the first and fundamental doctrines of the gospel, they will appear to have no pertinency or force at all. Let any passage of scripture be explained according to the true meaning of God's universal goodness, as consisting in universal benevolence and limited complacence; or according to the true sense of the universal atonement of Christ; or according to the true sense of the universal offers of mercy to sinners; or according to the true sense of the universal and total depravity of mankind; or according to the true sense of the threatenings denounced against sinners in the gospel; and such a passage rightly explained could not afford the shadow of an argument in favor of universal salvation. And this is true of every passage in the Bible. All the numerous texts that Universalists quote, they explain and apply according to their own false principles; and of course they misapply and pervert every text they adduce in support of their unreasonable and unscriptural sentiments. No doctrine can be proved or refuted, by merely marshalling one class of texts against another, without explaining them according to some sound and acknowledged principle. Texts ought never to be adduced to explain and establish any first principles; but first principles are to be adduced to explain and establish the sense of every text of scripture. It is easy to select particular passages, which, without a true explanation, will appear to support the most absurd doctrine that ever was imbibed and propagated. The plain words of Christ, at the first sacrament, respecting the bread he brake, “ This is my body," have been ten thousand times employed to prove the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the bodily presence of Christ at his table. But can these words prove the grossest absurdity in nature, that Christ's identical body can be actually present in ten thousand places at once ? This is contrary to the reason and common sense of all mankind. It is just as absurd to suppose, that some texts in their true sense prove that all men will be saved; and that other texts in their true sense prove, that some men are now, and others will be, separated from God and all good to all eternity. It is in vain to attempt to refute Universalists by quoting particular texts of scripture, without explanation. The only way to refute them is to refute their strong reasons, or first principles, which they argue from. They can evade any text of scripture, by explaining it according to their false principles. This is their dernier resort, when they meet with any plain scripture in opposition to their favorite doctrine. They deny the force of all texts, which speak of the doctrine of election, the doctrine of reprobation, the doctrine of the general judgment, or of any other doctrine opposite to their own, by saying that all such doctrines are inconsistent with their sense of the universal goodness of God, or the universal atonement of Christ, or the universal goodness of mankind, or their universal punishment in this life. All their plausibility arises from their sophistry, which consists in reasoning right from false principles. That they all mean to reason sophistically I do not believe, nor mean to assert; but I have no hesitation in asserting, that they do reason sophistically, and more sophistically than any other errorists that I am acquainted with. For their doctrine is more palpably and obviously false, than any other doctrine pretended to be found in the Bible.
2. If those who maintain that all men will be saved, have no strong and conclusive reasons to support their opinion, then those who maintain, that only a part of mankind will be saved, have strong and conclusive reasons to support their doctrine. The doctrine that all men will be saved, is directly opposite to the doctrine that only some men will be saved. If the doctrine of universal salvation be false, and founded upon false principles, then the opposite doctrine, that only a part of mankind will be saved, is founded upon true and solid principles. Two directly opposite doctrines cannot both be true, but one must be true, and the other false. It has been made to appear sufficiently plain, perhaps, that no just and conclusive arguments can be drawn, either from reason, or from scripture, to support the doctrine of universal salvation; from which it necessarily follows, that just and conclusive arguments may be drawn from reason and scripture, to support the doctrine that only a part of mankind will be saved. Whatever reason has to say, and scripture has to say upon the subject, is in favor of the doctrine of future and eternal rewards and punishments. Reason says, that all impenitent sinners deserve eternal punishment, and that it is consistent with God's universal benevolence, to inflict an eternal punishment upon them. Reason says, that there is an essential difference between saints, who possess pure, disinterested benevolence, and sinners, who are wholly under the dominion of perfect selfishness; and that these two classes of men ought to be for ever separated; the benevolent made happy and the malevolent made miserable. Reason says, that no totally depraved sinners will ever choose to become benevolent, without a special divine influence upon their hearts; and that God is under no obligation to grant them such a special divine influence; and consequently that God may, consistently with his universal benevolence, renew one and not another, as an act of absolute sovereignty. And now, all that scripture says respecting these points serves to confirm all the dictates of reason. Every doctrine and every passage of scripture, according to its true sense, either directly or indirectly proves that only a part of mankind will be saved. All reason and all scripture is in favor of those who maintain the doctrine of universal salvation, or in favor of those who maintain the doctrine of limited salvation. But Universalists themselves are sensible that the whole current of scripture is apparently against ther, and for this reason they exert all their powers, in conversation, in preaching, and in writing, to explain away the texts, and refute the reasons, which oppose their doctrine. They never lay down principles and explain them, nor construe scripture according to the dictates of reason. But those who hold to a limited salvation lay down principles and explain them. They tell what they mean by God's benevolence, and what they mean by his love of complacence; what they mean by total depravity; what they mean by regeneration; what they mean by election and reprobation; and what they mean by the terms of salvation. And having fixed these great and fundamental principles of the gospel, they can read the whole Bible in support of them, or in consistency with their doctrine of limited salvation. They do not set one text of scripture against another, but explain every text agreeably to the great fundamental principles which they have established and explained. There is no occasion of misconstruing and misapplying any passages of scripture, in order to prove that only a part of mankind will be saved; or in order to refute every argument and every scripture that Universalists can bring to support their unscriptural and absurd sentiments. Their strong reasons, when brought to the test of solid principles, lose all their force, and leave them no infallible rule, by which to
construe apparently conflicting passages of scripture.
But those who maintain that only a part of the human race will finally reach the kingdom of heaven, can easily construe scripture in general in harmony with the doctrine they profess.
3. It appears from what has been said concerning the strong reasons that are brought forth in support of universal salvation, that they destroy one another. If one of these reasons be true, the others are all impertinent and inconclusive. If it be true that the universal goodness of God is inconsistent with his hating sinners for their sins, with his threatening to punish them for their sins in a future state, and with his actually punishing them for ever, then he must make them all eternally happy; without any regard to the atonement of Christ, without any regard to their universal goodness, and without any regard to their suffering in the present life. The representation which Universalists give of the universal goodness of God, and the manner in which they reason from it, show that they all build their whole scheme upon it. For according to their reasonings from divine goodness, it must make all intelligent creatures for ever happy, whether they are holy or unholy, guilty or innocent. What occasion then was ihere for the atonement of Christ, in order to save any of mankind from a punishment which his universal goodness would not permit him to inflict? According to their idea of the universal goodness of God, it is absurd to talk about either the need, or the benefit of Christ's atonement; for there was no need of it, and it does no good. It does not save men from future and eternal pun. ishment, nor from temporal death, nor from temporal evils and calamities. They have but one strong reason, in their own view, in favor of universal salvation, and that is, the universal goodness of God. Take this away from them, and they have not another reason left them, of the weight of a straw. them whether they build their doctrine upon the universal goodness of God, or upon the universal atonement of Christ, or upon the universal offers of the gospel, or upon the universal goodness of human nature, or upon the punishments which God brings upon men in the present life; and they are silent, and durst not answer distinctly. They are capable of seeing that these strong reasons clash, contradict, and destroy each other. It is the fate of error to run crooked. False principles are as inconsistent with one another, as with truth. And when passages of scripture are explained upon false principles, they are made to clash, to contradict, and destroy the force of each other. It is not for the want of pains, nor talents, that Universalists cannot make their strong reasons unite and harmonize in the support of their doctrine. The truth is, all their strong reasons are false, and being false, cannot be made to appear consistent by any subtile reasonings, nor by any false glosses upon any particular passages of scripture. So that the plain and palpable inconsistency of the scheme of universal salvation, is a plain demonstration of its falsehood.
4. If Universalism be founded upon the false and inconsistent principles that have been mentioned, then it leads to the denial of all the fundamental principles and doctrines of the gospel. Accordingly we find that Universalists do deny the doctrine of personal election, the doctrine of regeneration, the doctrine of conditions of salvation, and the doctrine of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked, at the general judgment. These are certainly the cardinal doctrines of the gospel; and when these are denied, who can see that there is any truth or importance in the gospel ? Men are as certain of future and eternal happiness without it as with it. Though Universalists will not be pleased to be called deists, yet they are deists to all intents and purposes; and their doctrine leads directly to deism, and the preaching of it makes more deists than Universalists, among their more discerning heaters. Their error is a great and essential error, because it tends to prevent men from performing the conditions upon which the salvation of their souls is absolutely suspended. It assures them that they need not repent nor believe in Christ, nor exercise one holy or gracious affection, in order to escape the wrath to come, and enjoy everlasting life. They cannot fail of eternal happiness, let them say, or feel
, or act as they will. Can there be a more licentious and dangerous doctrine than this? I know they flatly deny this tendency. But their denial evinces their inconsistency, absurdity and delusion.
5. It appears from what has been said, that those who preach the false and dangerous doctrine of universal salvation, are extremely criminal. Their criminality is very great, whether they do, or do not know, that their doctrine is false. If they do not know that their doctrine is false, it is because they are voluntarily ignorant. If they did but impartially attend to the dictates of reason and scripture, they would know that their doctrine is false. But if they do know that their doctrine is false, then they are ten fold more criminal in propagating it, and leading precious and immortal souls to endless perdition. They are severely condemned in scripture, as strengthening the hands of the wicked, and making sad the hearts of the righteous. They are represented as under strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they might be damned. But where is the great criminality of preaching this doctrine, if it did not expose them to any temporal, or eternal punishment? And why should such false teachers be ranked among the most vile and guilty characters described and condemned in the Bible? Or