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three fourths of a century! Some, moreover, if this theory be true, pass to heaven by a path of flowers; their education, habits, temperaments, worldly interest, family and social considerations ; all incline them to the choice of a religious life : whilst with others, the very reverse is the case ; they are religious, if at all, at a sacrifice of nearly every earthly interest! If eternal bliss is to be attained at the price of a religious life, why is not that price equally within the reach of all? And Thirdly, human life at the longest is too short, its lights are too dim; its wants, trials, temptations, cares, too numerous; and its momentous ends too obscurely revealed, if these ends are, the avoidance of an eternity of woe, and the ensurance of an eternity of bliss. No, no, it cannot be that we here are to form characters which shall last forever: for those who die in infancy form no characters at all! And shall they so remain forever? “ But they are innocent," it will be said. True, but innocence is not virtue, when we have it not in our power to be otherwise. If innocence is a passport to eternal joys, we are all born into the world with the passport in our hands, and millions attain the prize by the mere accident of dying before an opportunity is offered of forfeiting the title !
But my opponent opines, that if man is not a probationer for eternity, there was no need of the saviour's advent and death, and that preaching, and the whole business of religion is useless ! Really, I can see no force in this argument; man is a rational Being; he owes duties to his God, and to his fellows; it is the office of religion to acquaint him with these, and to prompt him to a discharge of them—he is subject to numerous trials and afflictions; under which it is the business of religion to sustain himhe is destined to a higher station in Being than that which he at present occupies : to this religion with friendly finger points his hopes. Jesus Christ came to expound to man the nature and claims of this religion : and by his ministry, miracles, life, death, and ascension, to exemplify and establish it. No necessity for religion, indeed! It might as well he said that we shall not want religion in a future life, except it be to prepare us for another still beyond it! Truth is, if even there were no future life, religion would still be needful to guide us peacefully and happily through the present, and wherever there is rational existence, religion is
indispensable to its happiness. I must decidedly, protest against that narrow theory, which supposes religion only necessary as a sort of certificate of admission to the world of bliss! It is clear that such is the view of it which has practically obtained amongst the major part of christendom.*
2nd. Let us now glance at the texts, which my friend thinks sustain his views of a future conditional salvation ; he says truly that universalists are in the habit of referring them exclusively to the present state. 6. The soul that sinneth it shall die.” All acquainted with the language of the bible know, that soul is but another word for person or individual ; “ Eight souls were saved from drowning," that is eight individuals were so saved. Now how many souls have sinned ? “ All have sinned ;” (Rom. iii. 23.) therefore, in the sense intended, all have died. To say that this is an endless death, is not only to assume beyond what is revealed, but also to incur the absurd consequence that all mankind shall endlessly die!
6 He that believeth not shall be damned." The Greek word here rendered damned is in other passages rendered condemned, and judged ; and might with equal propriety have been so translated in this place. We have no warrant for saying that the damnation is to ensue beyond the grave. “He that believeth not IS condemned already.” (John iii. 18.). My opponent, if he is not now, has been an unbeliever : while such he was damned, or he was not; if not, the text in his case proved false; if he was damned, it must have been in this state of being, and thus his view of the text is proven incorrect.
“ He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption.” Where ? Not surely in a future world, for there, neither flesh nor corruption exists : we have Paul for witness, that in the resurrection “ this corruption shall put on incorruption :" and again, “ for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible.” (1 Cor. xv.) But my friend thinks the language
* The quaint, and calvinistically, orthodox John Bunyan, shall bear me witness to the truth of this remark. “When he was come up to the gate he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him ; but he was asked by the men, that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you ? and what would you have ? he an. swered, 'I have eat and drank in the presence of the king.' Then they asked him for his certificate that they might go in and show it to the king. So he fumbled in his bosom for one and found none, &c." I need hardly add, that he was denied admisaion.-See Pilgrim's Progress, part first.
of the latter clause of this text too strong, to apply to things of time: “he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” • Do Universalists,' he somewhat wittily asks, • enjoy their everlasting life in this world ?' I will treat him to a bible
answer, “ He that believeth on the son HATH everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but IS PASSED from death unto life.” (John iii. 36.) You see then, (if the scriptures are to be the umpire between us,) that Universalists, as well as other honest folk who believe in Christ, may enjoy everlasting life in this world. It seems but reasonable, moreover, that the harvest should be reaped where the seed is sown; he would be a sagacious fellow who should think of going to the moon to gather a crop of turnips which he had planted on this earth! Equally sagacious is he who talks of going to a world of spirits to reap corruption of the flesh.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to the deeds done in his body, whether they be good, or whether they be bad.” Begging my opponent's pardon I must tell him, that, in the sense of this text for which he contends, he does not believe it himself! Does he, for instance, believe that he will suffer in a future world for all his transgressions in this ? Not he; notwithstanding that he will acknowledge to have sinned often, and greatly, yet he thinks that his post mortem state will be one of unmingled happiness! He does not believe that Moses, in the future state, will be punished for his murder of the Egyptian, whoso body he buried in the sand : nor that Samson will be held to a reckoning for his scandalous connexion with Delilah ; nor Peter, for the denial of his Lord; nor Thomas, for his obstinate refusal to credit Christ's resurrection without sensible demonstration. And yet he puts upon the text before us such a construction as requires him to believe all this! Let us now look for the true sense of this passage: leaving out the words added by the translators it reads. as follows, “For we must all appear before the judgmentseat of Christ, that every one may RECEIVE THE THINGS IN BODY, according to that he hath done, whether good or bad.” Where is the judgment seat of Christ ?
Are we any where told it is in eternity ? No; on the contrary, Christ him. self
says, “ For judgment I am come into this world ;" (John is.
39.) and as to the time of this judgment he says, “ Now is the judgment of this world;" (John xii. 31.) and, indeed, it was long before predicted of him that he should "execute judgment and justice in the earth ;” (Jer. xxiii. 5.) and another prophet saith, " he shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth : and the isles shall wait for his law.” (Isaiah xlii. 4.) “ The judgment seat of Christ” is a figure, implying that by the principles of his gospel human actions are tested in this latterday dispensation ; Jesus himself explicitly sanctions this definition. “ He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him : the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John xii. 48.) Let these remarks suffice for the present, they sufficiently show that an application of the text in dispute to a future state, is unauthorized and gratuitous.
Pass we now to what my opponent deemed his most invincible proofs, perhaps we shall find them not absolutely insuperable after all. A young lawyer, it seems, and a certain rich young man, inquired of Christ what they should do to inherit eternal life; and because they were directed to superadd christian charity to legal obedience in order to the attainment of this object, my friend thinks it quite clear that future endless bliss is conditionally bestowed. Were I a logician I would whisper in his ear,
my friend, first prove, what you here assume, viz. that the scripture sense of eternal life’ is synonymous with future endless bliss." But this he thinks he has already done, by showing an instance in which this phrase is put in apposition with the word heaven. It behooves him, however, to show also that this last term always, or even generally, is used to signify the world of bliss. That it is not, I can establish past dispute ; yea more, I can establish that it does not in this very instance. For it is immediately afterward confounded with the “ kingdom of heaven;" “ Verily, I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now I know of no one instance in which this phrase signifies the future world of bliss ; its invariable reference is to the church, or the gospel dispensation : the same that is likened to “ a grain of mustard seed;" to “ leaven which a woman hid in two measures of meal;” to “ ten virgins ;". and numerous other things. This kingdom is a purely spiritual
institution ; it “cometh not,” saith the saviour, " with observa tion, the kingdom of heaven is within you :" and Paul says it consists of “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the holy spirit.” (Rom. xiv. 15.) It was truly difficult in Christ's day for a rich man to become a subject of this kingdom ; opposed as were its unpretending and self-denying principles, to the porop, and glitter, and ostentation of the world; and embracing only, as was then the case, a few unlearned, untitled, and obscure fishermen, as its denizens. Even many years subsequent to Christ's time, an apostle had occasion to say: “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” (1 Cor. i. 26.)* How hardly, then, would a rich man resist the blandishments of the proud world, and become a follower of the humble Nazarene ! “ It is easier,” said Christ, “ for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Mat. xix. 24.) This led the disciples in apparent surprise to inquire, “ Who then can be saved ?" The answer given is strangely at variance with the doctrine of salvation by human agency: “ With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What is this but virtually saying that our salvation is not by any means of ourselves ? that it is something over which we have no control ?-and which, therefore, cannot, in the nature of things, be conditional; but must come solely from God, who alone can secure it to us? And the same thing is elsewhere repeatedly affirmed. “ By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephe. ii. 8.) Which indeed is avowedly the doctrine of all protestant christendom, and has been maintained also by some eminent lights in the Romish church, more especially by St. Augustine : and yet, with singular inconsistency, they mostly deny in fact, what they so clearly avow in terms!
The disciples next inquire (for I wish here to meet all the apparent difficulties of this passage) what they should receive, who had forsaken all and followed him : he answers them, “ When the son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also
* The Countess of Huntingdon (a rigid calvinist) used to say, that her hope of salvation would be cut off by this text but for the presence of one letter! But for that blessed letter mit would read, Not any noble are called.