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been his chief labor that, in the Christian race, he "might finish his course with joy.” (Acts xx. 24.) His desire was granted; he had run well, and run to the end. And his dying moments were consoled and cheered by the truth, that now his arduous race was run, and his reward was on high. steward, too, of the faith, and of the manifold grace of God, he had been “found faithful,” and with his dying breath he could say, in the presence of the Searcher of all hearts, “I have kept the faith."
But suppose it had not been so. Suppose he had found the warfare arduous, and, in the time of conflict, had deserted the cross, and joined the enemies of his Savior. Suppose he had run a short distance in the race, and, finding it a severe and painful struggle, had turned back, as many had done before him, returned to his former enmity. Or suppose that, knowing that the safe-keeping of the faith must be attended with great sacrifices, watchfulness, trials, and persecutions, he should have abandoned his trust, or, like Judas, betrayed it; what effect would this conduct have upon his future condition if Universalism is true? Would it make any difference ? Would there not still be in réserve for him a crown of glory? Would he not, as Paul the traitor, have as high a seat, as loud a song, as clear a voice, a diadem as bright, as he now will have as Paul the triumphant warrior, Paul the successful runner, Paul the faithful steward, who resigned his life rather than yield up the faith? Would not he and Judas sit side by side upon their thrones of light, in the presence of that holy Being, whose body the one betrayed, and whose cause the other abandoned into the hands of his enemies. If not, then Universalism is false. And if it was true, Paul could have known nothing of it; for his dying breath announces that, had he not fought a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, not only he would not have received a crown of life, but at last must have been a castaway.
I think no man can go forth from this investigation without the firmest convictions that Universalism is not of God. All nations have rejected it, and all rational minds fear a judgment to come. sents doctrines at once novel and fatal doctrines which the entire Christian world have rejected. We have seen, Universalists themselves being judges, that the nation of whom Christ came, and to which he preached, believed in the eternal punishment of the wicked; that Jesus and the apostles used language designed to confirm this opinion; that Universalism can only blot out this doctrine from the Bible by the most violent wresting and dreadful perversion of the word of God. We have proved that the reasoning which deduces Universalism from the Bible, would also deduce paganism or atheism; and that the same reasoning which blots out future woe, and quenches the fires of hell, ends the joy of the blessed, and puts out the light that surrounds the throne of God and the Lamb. And not only so, but Universalism does violence to the plainest teachings of Scripture, and makes the inspired penmen either incompetent or dishonest. It demands of you the sacrifice of the faith of the church, the piety and learning of eighteen centuries; it invites you to mock at sin, to laugh at the judgment, and to scoff at threatened danger. It tells its deluded votaries that if they do not enter in at the strait gate, if they do not lay up treasures in heaven, if they do not in this world repent and believe, it will be as well with them beyond the grave. Though they die thieves and drunkards, adulterers and fornicators, they shall at last be saved ; and all this though the Bible says that such shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.)
Upon the ministers of Universalism the blood of souls must rest ; their hands are stained with the crimson flood. Upon them the deep condemnation must fall of "handling the word of God deceitfully," of " wresting” the Bible to their own destruction, and that of others. May they be turned from their perilous and ruinous employ! May God "give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will ” ! (2 Tim. ii. 25, 26.)
Can any immortal souls be so unwise as to incur such risk as they must run in building upon such a foundation, and following such guides ? How will they, when this season of probation is lost, awake to their situation only to say, “ The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved ” !
LECTURE I V.
REASONS FOR RENOUNCING UNIVERSALISM, DRAWN FROM THE ARGUMENTS ADDUCED IN SUPPORT
OF THE DOCTRINE.
ACTS xvii. 11.
SCRIPTURES DAILY, WHETHER THOSE THINGS
In the discharge of his duty, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, Paul visited Thessalonica. The Jews of that eity were offended because Christ was preached among them; and they were enraged because he was preached by one, formerly of their own number, who was now preaching the faith that once he destroyed. Knowing that it would be impossible to answer or refute his reasonings, they first assailed his character; and then, gathering to themselves certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, they assaulted the house in which Paul lodged, and compelled him to depart from the city. He went by night to Berea. His reception there is thus described : “ These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
This more noble conduct is recorded for our imitation. It is a great thing to know what the Bible teaches in relation to human duty, and human destiny, in regard to the effect this life has upon the next; and how much our conduct and character in this state of existence will result in our eternal weal or woe. The Bible gives plain instructions upon these important truths. So clearly is our duty revealed, that “the wayfaring men, though fools, need not err therein." Though we may very properly avail ourselves of helps that we may understand the word of God, the responsibility returns upon us as individuals. We must hear and decide for ourselves; and to our own master we must finally stand or fall.
Universalists have always professed an ardent desire to have their sentiments examined. They invite and challenge inquiry. They complain that their faith is opposed as licentious; that it is rejected as untrue; and that many parts of the Bible are arrayed against it; while their expositions of Scripture are unnoticed, and the arguments urged in defence of their faith are passed by without examination.
One of the defenders of Universalism, who stands at the head of the sect, thus records the complaints of his brethren upon this point. He says, speaking of one who attempts to examine Universalism,
“And what does he adduce? Why, nothing but the same texts that have been invariably quoted, for the same purpose, by his numberless predecessors, for the last twenty or thirty years, and as invariably explained with much care by Universalists in their replies and other writings. Not an allusion to their interpretations escapes in a single instance; not an intimation that any other meaning had ever been