« PreviousContinue »
speaks of the resurrection of the body, and nothing else. Time will not permit us to protract these examinations. The few passages which we have noticed, are some of the most prominent of those which are adduced in support of the doctrine of Universal Salvation. These are sufficient to show that the reasonings of Universalists, so far as founded upon direct scripture testimony, are at least obscure and unsatfactory; and this is all we wish to show, for the present.
In conclusion, my friends, let me call your attention to one strong mark of error which characterizes every defence of Universalism. It is this-all the main arguments clash with one another. For instance, we are told that no man will be eternally punished, because no man deserves any more punishment than a salutary discipline; that this is the whole curse of the law; and that it would be cruel to inflict any farther punishment. Then again, we are told with the same breath, or on the same page, that no man can be lost, because Christ will deliver him from the curse. Show the same man that justice requires something more than mere disciplinethat it requires punishment for sustaining the power of the injured law, and then he takes the ground that this punishment cannot be eternal, because it is greater than the sinner deserves.Show him that it may possibly be true, that the sinner deserves an eternal punishment-then he tells you that the tender mercy, and infinite compassion of God, will reclaim and save the soul. Show him that the exercise of such compassion implies that all his reasoning about justice, is good for nothing, as he now admits that the sinner does not deserve salvation, but re
ceives it through infinite mercy; yet he is not at all daunted. Show him that goodness may be consistent with inflicting the very penalty of the law, and then he betakes himself to the atonement of Christ, and pleads that the very men will be forgiven, of whom he denied just before, that they needed forgiveness.
And is this the system, my dying friends, upon which any of you are resting your hopes for eternity? Permit me, as one who loves your souls, to intreat you to re-consider the subject: Self-deception can profit you nothing. The prudent man looketh well to his going.
The scriptures are able to make you wise to salvation; but they must be read with the docility of a little child, and not with a desire to support a vain theory. Go to the Bible with humble prayer, and in the spirit of sincere inquiry, and it can point you to the heavenly city. It will tell you, it is true, of a fiery law-a law which made the holy Moses to fear and quake: It will tell you of its endless curse: It will open before you, the pit of hell, and show you the quenchless flame, and the undying worm.-But it will also point you to the New-Jerusalem, and show you its gate wide open. It will point you to the blood which can cleanse from all sin : In accents of love, it will speak of a compassionate Saviour, and tell you, to "go to his bleeding feet, and learn how freely Jesus can forgive."
Seek then, sincerely to know the truth ;---but remember that God has said, of those who love not the truth, they shall be given up to strong delusion to believe a lie, that they might be damned, because they believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
An argument from the Providences of God towards the righteous and the wicked
"For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come."-ISAIAH, 63: 4.
The character of Jesus Christ receives no small portion of its interest from the strong and impressive contrasts which it exhibits. It is made up of infinite dignity, and unparallelled condescension. There is discoverable in it, a perfect superiority to the world, and, at the same time, an attention to its minutest concerns. He mingles the richest mercy with the most unbending justice. He forgives the vilest sinner without one reproachful word, only tenderly exhorting him to sin no more; while at the same time he assures the most unexceptionable moralist, who is yet destitute of true piety, that he cannot escape the damnation of hell.
The Prophet Isaiah has set forth in the words of our text, one of the most interesting contrasts in this wonderful character; his mercy, and his justice. In the chapter next preceding that from which the text is taken, he had been speaking of the provisions of the gospel, and of the unlimited extent of its invitations; but he stops not to dwell upon the richness of its blessings, nor yet upon the freeness with which they are proffered:-he casts his eye still further into the future, and looks for the success of that cause which had brought the Son of God
from heaven. Upon this he catches a vision of the Messiah, under the character of a mighty Prince returning in triumph from the conquest of his enemies. Being struck with the majestic appearance of this personage, he represents himself as holding a conversation with him-respecting his character and the nature of his undertaking. The dialogue possesses all the wapt elevation of prophetic poetry. The Prophet commences with this inquiry-Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah; this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? The Conqueror replies, I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
The land of Edom, and Bozrah the chief city of Edom, must here be understood mystically, for the enemies of the church, as the Edomites were the enemies of Israel. The terms are so used in the 34th chapter of this Prophecy. Besides, the word Edom signifies red, (as blood is) and Bozrah a vintage, which in the prophetical idiom denotes God's vengeance upon the wicked. Thus this conquest is generally thought to allude either to the reformation, or to some great revolution yet to come, antecedently to the latter-day glory of the church. Be this as it may, however, the Prophet seeks to know more of the manner in which this conqueror displays his power as one mighty to save, and makes the farther inquiry-Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat? To this the Messiah answers-I have trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with me; for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall
be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
The reason for his exhibiting such severity in judgem ent, and of his determination to do so in time to come, is then expressed in the words of our text:
For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.
The whole dialogue plainly sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ as successfully prosecuting his mediatorial work; in doing which, he does at the same time, redeem his friends and overthrow his enemies. Our text suggests a very interesting and general principle of the Divine government. It teaches us that:
WHEN CHRIST BESTOWS SIGNAL BLESSINGS UPON HIS CHURCH, HE DOES AT THE SAME TIME EXECUTE SIGNAL JUDGEMENTS UPON HIS ENEMIES.
It is my purpose to illustrate this principle, and to construct upon it, the following argument. God is now acting upon a principle, which exhibits alike, an intention to show mercy to some, and to punish others. This principle, we have reason to believe, will exist in the Divine government forever, and therefore the Providence of God, so far as it goes, confirms the doctrine of future and eternal punishment. That you may be prepared rightly to appreciate this argument, let me invite your attention to some brief statements relative to the nature of the Divine government.
The ultimate design of God, in all his works, is the promotion of happiness. This object is accomplished by the exhibition of his holy perfections; and these perfections are exhibited by the establishment and support of a government under the administration of laws. To