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peaceful influence does this assurance breathe through the soul ! Amid the darkness and dreariness of life, its language is,

" yet bear up awhile,
And what thy bounded view (which only saw
A little part) deem'd evil, is no more,
The storms of wintry time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded spring encircle all."



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This subject is so apt to be introduced in controversies of this nature, that I have thought proper to consider it at some length, and to assign it a distinct place in this investigation : especially as the opponents of universalism, when compelled by arguments from the attributes of God to abandon the hope of finding countenance to their theory in that quarter, are prone to have recourse to his law, and to make it responsible for the severity of the sinner's doom, as if the law could exist independently of the legislator !

66 God, to be sure," say they, " is infinitely good, and no wise disposed in and of himself 10 inflict upon his creatures so horrible a punish ment, but his law imperiously requires such a satisfaction upon its violators, and except its demands are met to the full, the order and harmony of the divine government cannot be maintained.” Never did a bad cause resort to a weaker fallacy. “ Is there a fate above the Gods ?" Or, to christianize the question, is there a law in the government of Jehovah which he himself cannot control ? and in contrariety to his purpose and pleasure will the destinies of millions of millions be fixed by this uncontrollable power in irreversible perdition? Then indeed is the creator to be pitied : since none more than he will deplore and únavailingly deplore-the ruin brought upon his creatures by this relentless law! Yet, even in this view of the case, he is not wholly exonerated from blame for having created beings in view of this result; and him, therefore, after all, and not his law, must they hold as primarily responsible for their miseries.

Theological system-builders tell us that the law of God is infinite. Why? Because it is God's law. All things are God's. Are all things therefore infinite? If so, they are equal to one


another and to him that made them! Its requirements too, they tell us, are infinite in regard to all intelligences. It follows then, that as much is required of persons of small, as of large abilities—as much of the ignorant as of the learned-of a child as of a man-of a man as of an angel! If these wise men had been at the pains of consulting the bible it would have informed them, that “ Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required,” (Mat. xii. 48.) and that in regard to every service, as well as that of which the apostle here particularly speaks, “ if there be first a willing mind it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not,” (2. Cor. viii. 12.) which, all the universe over, must be admitted as a fair and equal principle of legislation and government.

Proceeding on, for one step in error usually prepares the way for another, they assume that an infraction of this infinite law is an infinite offence ; which being the case, all offences must be infinite, for all are violations of the same law, and, therefore, all offences, whether committed by a wise man or a fool-a lord or his slaveby one possessing great, or another possessing small advantages -whether committed in the blaze of gospel day, or in the gloom of pagan night under strong, or under weak temptations-attended with aggravaling, or with mitigating circumstances-all are equal ! Nor is this the worst consequence, for if one sin is infinite, then it is equal to all the sins together that have ever been committed, for all together can make no more than an infinity. The school-boy who defrauds his fellow in a game of push-pins, in violating an infinite law, and thereby contracting guilt corresponding in turpitude to the dignity of the law sinned against, draws down upon his soul as much condemnation as though he had denied, betrayed, and crucified the son of God! or as though he had in his own person committed every crime that has ever been perpetrated since time began! Upon my word, persons who can believe all this must have an easy credulity!

But further; the offence being infinite, the punishment, we are told, must also be infinite. This is the philosophical ground, work-the rationale of the doctrine of endless misery. It hence follows that he who knew his Lord's will and failed to do it, will be beaten with no more stripes than he will who knew it not ! See a beautiful confirmation of this rare divinity in Lake xii. 47.


A punishment that is infinite in all cases, can be no greater in one case than in another : how greatly then was Paul deceived in supposing that crimes committed under the gospel, demanded greater punishment than did those committed under the law ! “ He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the son of God, and hath accounted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace ?"'* (Heb. x. 28, 29.) Moreover, Christ informed the scribes and Pharisees that they should receive the greater damnation, (Mat. xxiii. 14.) and a greater, if any dependence may be placed on logic, implies a less. That there are degrees in punishment, then, is a doctrine of undoubted scriptural sanction, and it hence follows that it is not infinite, for infinity admits of no degrees.

The law of God, speaking of it not in a particular, but in a general sense, is a copy of his eternal perfections—is a necessary emanation from his pure and holy nature: to understand its character, therefore, we have but to know that of its author. Is he good ? so is it. (Rom. vii. 12. 16.) Is he holy? It also is holy. (ibid.) Is he pure ? It also is pure. (Psl. xix. 8.) Is he love? His law is love likewise. (Mat. xix. 40.) Is he just? It too is just. (Rom. vii. 12.) Is he perfect? His law is perfect also. (Psl. xix. 7.) On his law, therefore, the divine Being has stamped the impress of himself. No thinking man will hesitate a moment to admit this fact.

All wise and just law is instituted for the benefit of the governed; human laws, as they emanate from imperfect beings, often lose sight of this end; and by as much as they do, they are unwise and unjust sometimes the offspring of tyranny-sometimes of caprice, interest, conceited ignorance, or misdirected benevolence-but always marked with the imperfection of their authors. God's law, on the contrary, is absolutely perfect, and must succeed in effecting the final good of all for-whose behoof it was instituted.* Deny this, and you deny thc plainest dictates of cominon sense. The penalties of this law-how severe soever-must be compatible with this design; for a greater absurdity could not exist in terms than the declaration, that the

* The intention of the apostle's argument here is, that as there was no escape for those who committed the highest class of offences under the law, so apostates from Christ, being still more deserving of punishment, as they sinned against greater obligations, should more certainly and more terribly perish, in the judgements then impending over the obstinate enemies of Christ's cause. It is as though a judge should say in passing sentence on a criminal, “ You must not hope that executive clemency will be exercised in your case ; for if such an one escaped not, who committed a similar act with less atrocity in the manner, and under less aggravated circumstances, of how much sorer punishment must you be thought worthy, who hava slaughtered a fellow being in a most cruel manner, and in cool blood"

nalties of an infinitely perfect law are such as will defeat its own ends. The doctrine of endless misery, therefore, is an absurdity in terms.

The quibbler may essay to evade the above conclusion by affirming that if the general good be secured, (even at the expense of a certain amount of private good,) the original object of the law will be answered, in like manner as human governments frequently find it necessary to sacrifice guilty individuals in order to secure the public weal. But this plea is not valid : human governments are extremely defective-yet even they, in proportion as they are wise and just, aim at the universal good; if they fail of effecting this end, it is from want of power ; when they sacrifice individuals they plead necessity for the act; but as men advance in enlightenment, they discover this plea to have no foundation in fact, and, consequently, amongst the most refined nations capital punishments are grown into disrepute. Whether in human governments this necessity does, or does not exist, it certainly does not in the government of God. Does he love every indivibual ? Then his law respects the final good of every individual. Is that law perfect? Then all its proposed ends must infallibly be effected. Universal salvation results of

But let us go to the scriptures once more. - Think not,” saith Christ, “ that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil, for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” (Mat. v. 17. 18.) t'hat this has not reference to the Jewish ceremonial law is obviuus, for it Christ did come to abolish, as saith Paul, “ The law was our school-master to bring us unto Christ, but after that faith 18 come we are no longer under a school-master.” (Gal. iii. 24.) It was the moral law which Christ came to fulfil, and how is it to


* It is not strictly proper to speak of the divine law as having been instituted, for like himself it must have been from eternity; being, as already remarked, a necen sary emanation from his all perfect nature.

be fulfilled ? By every individual being brought to comply with its requirements ; and what are these? “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind ; this is the first and great command, and the second is like unto it; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Mat. xxii. 37. 40.) To the same purpose speaketh James, “ If ye fulfil the royal law; thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye shall do well," (Jam. ii. 8.) and Paul likewise, “ Love worketh no ill to its neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom. xiii. 9.) On every being in the universe must this law be equally binding—all, however, are not equally capable of understanding its claims, and, consequently, the obligations of all in regard to it are not equal, nor for the same reason is a noncompliance with it equally culpable in all—for culpability is in proportion to the obligations violated—and the obligations of each are in proportion to the capacity and opportunities of each. However, if not one jot or little is to pass from the law till all be fulfilled, it follows that all are to be brought eventually to comply with its requirements, in loving God supremely, and each other as themselves. Hence we again arrive at the result that all mankind shall be saved.

Those who, in the effort to screen God from blame in the business of endless punishment, are in the habit of referring it to the inexorable character of his law, usually attempt to illustrate the matter by the example of Zeleucus the lawgiver. To one of his statutes was appended the penalty of the loss of both eyes on the part of its transgressor; it turned out that his own son was the first among his subjects to incur this heavy doom; the king, as may be believed, was much afflicted at the circumstance, that his only heir and presumptive successor in the government, should be subjected to a punishment which would forever blast his expectations in life ; yet the penalty must be inflicted, or his laws would sink into contempt. He therefore determined at length to yield to the violated statute the two eyes which it demanded; but instead of having both taken from his son he shared the punishment with him, and yielded one of his own! By this means, we are told, he secured the most unbounded respect of his subjects. toward himself and government.

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