« PreviousContinue »
"I think it to be worthy of wisdom itself to make antitheses betwixt a very short period and a very long duration, though neither should be endless. What wise man but would endure a moment's inconvenience, for the sake of a great advantage that he should derive from it, and that, should endure for many years? And might he not say with great propriety, The pain and inconvenience that I shall endure is but for a moment; but the advantage shall be permanent and long that I shall derive from it." And to me it appears that the Scriptures have done this, particularly 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. Here the apostle says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal i. e. aionion, weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal," i. e. aionion. Here is a contrast betwixt temporal and aionion things, and yet that the apostle did not consider either of them as eternal (as our common translation falsely renders it) is evident ; because in verse 17. he says, the glory which our light affliction in the cause of Christ worketh for us, is a glory exceeding aionion to an
Every proper judge who reads this, must know that I have only given the genuine meaning of καθ' υπερβολην εις υπερβολην in this rendering:
Here then is an instance in point to shew that a contrast is drawn betwixt two things, of different duration indeed, but neither of them eternal: for if the aionion glory be eternal, how can that which our light affliction worketh for us exceed it so very far as Paul affirms it to do?
2d. You go on to say, that all these passages are totally silent as to any other state following that of destruction, damnation, &c. And you infer, that if any state is to follow these, it is strange that we have no intimation of it in any of the passages which you have quoted, and that if the punishment threatened to ungodly men had been only a purgation or temporal correction, we might have expected that something like this would have been intimated. It is supposed, say you, that some who are upon the right foundation may yet build upon it wood, hay, and stubble, and that the party shall suffer loss; but he himself shall bẹ saved, though it be as by fire. Now if the Doctrine of Universal Salvation were true, we might expect some such account of all lapsed intelligencies, when their future state is described: but nothing like it occurs in any of the foregoing passages, nor in any others.
In answer to all which I remark,
-Firs, That you are talking against Universal Salvation, while I am defending Universal Restoration. These are certainly very distinguishable things, and I do not, nor ever did, believe the former; but for the latter I contend as a Scriptural truth.
I will not say that it is with design, and contrary to known facts, that you represent me as an advocate of Universal Salvation; but it is certain that you have more than once or twice made this representation in your letters. The cause of your so doing is best known to yourself.
Secondly, As for all the Scriptures which you have brought forward not saying any thing about any other state following that of destruction, damnation, &c. there is probably a reason for it, namely, that none of them are speaking upon that subject: and you might have found many more of the same kind. What, then, did I ever pretend that every text that threatened a sinner with punishment, always contained in it a promise of his final restoration?
Thirdly, I think something like temporal punishment is implied in the threatened punishment of ungodly men, in Mat. xxv. 46. where the wicked are said to go into xohaσty alwviov, rendered everlasting punishment: Petitpierre, in his Treatise on Divine Love*; says, "There are two respectable authorities to prove that noλaow signifies chastisement; one is the illustrious Grotius, in his Rights of War and Peace; the other the celebrated Wyttenbach, in his Essay on Doctrinal Theology. Grotius says expressly, that the kind of punishment which tend to the improvement of the criminal, is that which the philosophers called, among other things, xoxas, or chastisement. And Wyttenbach, who writes this passage from Grotius, says, that God, in the infliction of sufferings, has three ends in view, the first of which is the correction' of the offender, in order to his future amendment, and that the Greeks frequently gave to such sufferings, the name xoow." To this quotation I add, that twicet in the New Testament we have noλagoμever, which, together with acid, is from the theme Khaw, applied, as Parkhurst observes, by Greek writers in the sense of restraining and repressing. The only place beside in which xoxaσg occurs in the New Testament is 1 John, iv. 18. "Fear Hath torment, (i. e. restraint) in it." From the whole of those passages I think it clear that xoλac signifies such a punishment as corrects the criminal, restraining and repressing him, and thereby bringing him into his due and proper place.
I hope it will be acknowledged that here is something like an intimation that the punishment threatened by our Lord to ungodly men is jintended as a limited correction, and consequently as a mean to purification. Nor let this seem strange to you; the idea is an ancient one:
Thine own iniquity shall correct thee," says the prophet. Certainly our Lord knows both the nature and the end of future punishment, and as he has called it a correction, we may rest assured that he is not mistaken. In the nature of the thing no correction can be of endless
Fourthly, You remark that none of the Scriptures speak on Universal Salvation in the manner which Paul speaks of such as, being on the foundation, and build wood, hay, and stubble there, are saved so as by fire. I hope I am not to blame for the manner in which the Scriptures
Edinborough Edit. p. 150.
† Acts, iv. 21. 2 Pet. ii. 9. translated punish and punished.
speak on any subject on which they treat. I have no right to dictate what they should say. My business is to submit to their authority. If they have not spoken a word on the subject of Universal Salvation, I am not disappointed at it. I am satisfied that they have spoken clearly on the subject of the restitution of all things; but if on that or any other subject, they have not spoken to your mind, I cannot help it.
3. You observe, of the Scriptures which you have brought forward in contrast, that "the phraseology of the greater part of them is inconsistent with any other state following that which they describe;" which you attempt to prove by saying, "On the supposition of salvation being appointed as the ultimate portion of those who die in their sins, they have not their portion in this life, but will, equally with those who die in the Lord, behold his righteousness, and be satisfied in his likeness. Their expectation shall not perish, but shall issue, as well as that of the righteous, in gladness; and though driven away in their wickedness, yet they have hope in their death, and that hope shall be realised," &c. &c.
I have insisted upon the reality and equity of future punishment; contending, at the same time, that it is limited in its duration, and corrective in its nature. You, without having any regard to the loss which sinners will sustain by having no part in the millenial kingdom of Christ on earth-without considering in the least the tribulation, indignation, and wrath, which is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness-without allowing any thing for the few stripes and many stripes which, according to their character, they shall receive, insist upon it, that the difference I make betwixt the state of the righteous and the wicked, will not accord with those Scriprures: or, in other words, if ever there be an amelioration in the future state of the wicked, then those Scriptures cannot be true; because then "those who die in their sins, will, equally with those who die in the Lord, behold his righteousness, and be satisfied in his likeness," &c. The fallacy of such reasoning, I conceive, must be evident to every reader.
And here let me ask, Sir, what Universalist who holds with future punishment, ever supposed that, when sinners were restored from guilt and punishment, they would then be made equal in holiness, happiness, and glory, with God's first-born children? For my part, I do not know that all the angels of God, or all his prophets, apostles, and saints, either are now, or ever will be, equal in holiness, happiness, and glory; much less that those who die in their sins will ever be equally so with those who die in the Lord.
You represent also that, according to my views, "the broad way does not lead to destruction, but merely to a temporary correction, the end of which is everlasting life. The claff will not be burned, but turned into wheat, &c.—That those who in the present life have not believed in Christ shall not perish, but have everlasting life, &c.—finally, that though they bear briars and thorns, yet their END is not to be burned, but to obtain "Salvation." You once, in the course of our correspondence, attempted to fix the inconsistency of holding both with annihilation and Universal Restoration upon me. I should at present
take no notice of this-(as you have apologized for it elsewere) was it not that you, in the above quotation have recourse to arguments, which belong only to the scheme of annihilation. You are not to be told, Sir, that destruction, burning, perishing, are not considered by the advocates of endless conscious misery, as implying an end of being; yet that you have reasoned upon these phrases in that sense seems clear; but is it so that annihilation is inconsistent with the Universal Doctrine only? Is it perfectly reconcilable with the idea of endless torment? And is an advocate for the never ending misery of sinners allowed, upon occasion, to shift his ground to annihilation, to baffle his opponent or perplex his reader? The trifling manner in which you have reasoned upon the figurative expressions contained in some of the contrasted Scriptures is unworthy of your general good sense; "the chaff," say you, on the Universal scheme, "Will not be burned, but turned into wheat-the tares will be the same—and the bad fish will be turned into good!" It is pity for any body to follow a system at the expence of common
The apostle to the Hebrews, in one of your contrasted passages, takes a figure from the production and treatment of bad ground, and applies it to illustrate the case of such as had misimproved the blessings of the gospel. "The earth which beareth thorns and briars, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned." What if an Universalist, following, as you have done, the figure, should say, though such ground be burned because of its unfruitfulness, yet the burning of unfruitful ground is, oftentimes, the only method the farmer can take to alter its quality and make it fruitful, and that the sacred writer had a refrence to this process and its consequences in God's dealing with sinners: would you admit this as argument? Yet surely it is upon par with any thing which you have said upon the above mentioned figures of speech.
But I apprehend that in my last epistle to you, (see U. M. for June, p. 225-229.) I shewed the proper scriptural method of considering such texts as you now have brought forward, and took a view of them as perfectly consistent with the restitution of all the intelligent offspring of God; namely, by referring them to the times and the seasons which God has appointed in which to reconcile all things to himself. Mercy and judgment are often united in the Scriptures to the same individual, each in their proper season. I have given several instances of this in the letter refered to, and could point out more, but wish to avoid being tedious. I would only, therefore, observe, that the phraseology of the greater part of those texts which relate to the rejection of the Jews is as Inconsistent with any other state following that which they describe, as the texts appear to be which you have brought forward in contrast; and yet the former must in due season give place to a restoration of the Jewish people; and so must the latter to a reconciliation of all things to the Father by the blood of the cross.
As there are several other things in your fourth letter which I shall have occasion to notice, and as I have written already somewhat at length,
I conclude at present by an assurance of my usual, and unbated good will towards you.
TO MR. A. FULLER,
AN ANSWER TO THAT PART OF HIS FOURTH LETTER,
AND TO SUCH PART OF the fifth*,
AS RELATES TO THE WORDS,
ETERNAL, EVERLASTING, AND FOR EVER AND EVER.
IN stating the principal grounds on which you rest your belief of the doćirine of Endless Misery, you reckon, secondly,
"All those passages which speak of the duration of future punishment by the terms everlasting, eternal, and for ever and over."
In reckoning up such passages, you say, you have not mentioned Isa. xxxiii. 14. because you “did not wish to introduce any but what would be allowed to refer to a future life." This I am glad to see, as it shews that you now treat the subject with rather more caution than you have done. In your letter in the Evangelical Magazine, which gave rise to our correspendence, and in your first and third letters in the Universalist's Miscellany, THIS PASSAGE was brought forward, and the devouring fire, and everlasting burnings of it, were reiterated by you with profound awe; but I congratulate you on having given it up, as it has certainly nothing to do with a state of future punishment.
The number of texts in which you find the above terms connected with the punishment of men or devils in a future state, is twelve; out of these the Old Testament affords only one instance, according to your enumeration-Dan. xii. 2. Of these twelve instances I must object to Rev. xix. 3. "And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." This text I conceive not to relate to a future life, but to the vengeance of God upon mystical Babylon, in the course of his providence, in the present state of things; which, when it shall take place, will afford much joy to the church of God upon earth, which is described in the language of prophecy, by much people in heaven, singing praise to God. That the scene of the destruction of mys.ical Babylon is on earth, is evident, by consulting the preceding chapter, where the merchants and shipmasters, and passengers and sailors, and also the kings of the earth, are represented as bewailing her ruin. Most commentators have supposed
* U. M. for March, 1800, p. 101.