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obey him; but how unnatural to say, I know that God loves me, and seeks to do me good, therefore I am determined to hate and disobey him.
L. If universalism be true, you have nothing to fear from rejecting it; but if it be false, you have everything to fear from en bracing it.
R. If it be true, we have to fear if we reject it, that we reject "the faith once delivered to the Saints ;" and beside, we defame God's character, and cause our worship of him to border on idolatry by worshiping him in an unreal character: and if it be false, we err on the side of charity, having as much reason to believe that the love of Christ will constrain us to seek religion in this belief as in any other. "For the love of Christ constraineth us."-2 Cor. 5: 14. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."-Rom. 2: 4.
L. There is no possibility of gaining anything by believ ing in universal salvation.
R. Unbelief, to be sure," will not make the faith of God of none effect. Yet there is an influential love which enables us to imitate those we love and if we love the Lord, it will assimilate according to the idea formed of his character, whether cruel or merciful: we therefore count it great gain to view God's character in such a light as to have it influence us to "do good to those that hate us."
L. A person who believes universalism runs the risk of loosing everything, and of falling into eternal misery.
R. A belief that " the Lord is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil," "and will not change," does not hinder our feeling that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of. 2 Cor. 7: 10; for it is the goodness of God that leads us to hate sin on account of its evil nature.
L. Ask a preacher of universalism, what will become of those who reject his doctrine, and what answer could he give?
R. He could answer, if they reject it in the like disposition which possessed the hearts of the Chief Priests and the Elders when rejecting the doctrine of Christ, they could not be admit. ted to heaven before they were cleansed from their malicious hatred. But if sincerely thinking it to be erroneous, they might be good christians, not incurring any guilt for so doing.
L. I fear to embrace the doctrine of universal salvation, cause it would oblige me to regard Christ and his Apostles as dishonest teachers of religion, and the bible itself as fitted and designed to lead men into errors. According to this doctrine, it was the great design of our Saviour in coming into the world, to secure the salvation of all mankind. The Apostles, it is said, were commanded to publish it in their preaching. Now if this be so, how is it to be accounted for, that for eighteen hundred years the whole christian world, "some very few persons excepted," have been ignorant of this doctrine; have united in rejecting it, and with one voice, have declared it to be contrary to scripture, and of pernicious tendency?
R. Christ's being the true Messiah, proves as evidently that the Prophets were dishonest, or incompetent in their predic tions concerning him; and the Old Testament as fitted, and designed to lead the Jews into errors respecting him, as the truth of universalism would prove Christ and his Apostles to be incompetent, or dishonest teachers of religion; or the New Testament is fitted and designed to lead men into errors; for the Jews, with a few exceptions, on account of misunderstanding the prophecies, disowned and rejected Christ, although his whole life corresponded with the predictions; while they them. selves were helping to fulfil them to the very letter. The Lord had promised them that the law dispensation should be everlasting and commanded them to observe those ordinances for
ever, and because Christ did not build up their way of worship, they rejected him. Christians mistake on the same words, because God has said that some “shall go away into everlasting punishment, and be forever in hell," they think the period will never arrive when they will be delivered from hell. It is as easily accounted for, that the main body of christians have for eighteen hundred years rejected universal salvation, allowing it to be plainly taught in the bible, as that the Jews have for so many years rejected Christ; and their declaring it to be contrary to scripture and of pernicious tendency, can as easily be accounted for, as that the Jews when they believed the prophesies, should so misunderstand them as to declare that Christ was not of God, and that his examples and preaching had a pernicious tendency.
Christians, because they have reason to believe that some die before they are cleansed from sin, cannot believe the promises, that they ever will be. So the Jews do not believe that Christ will come a second time upon this earth to accomplish the remainder of the prophesies, therefore continue to believe he was not the true Messiah.
L. The grand object, it is said, of Christ in coming into the world, and of his Apostles, in preaching the gospel, was to pub lish the tidings of universal salvation; and yet, in speaking on this subject, they have used such language as has actually led a very great majority of the most serious and diligent stu dents of the bible to believe that many of the human race will finally be lost.
TO SHOW THAT A SUBJECT MAY BE PLAINLY REVEALED, YET RE MAIN UNOBSERVED BY THE GREATEST AND BEST OF CHRISTIANS.
Restorationist. The tidings of universal salvation not being understood by a majority of the most diligent students of the bible, no more prove that Christ did not preach them, than his disciples not understanding concerning his sufferings, death and resurrection, proves they had never heard of them, when he had told them plainly. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord this shall not be unto thee.-Mat. 16: 21, 22,For he taught his disciples and said unto them, The son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.—Mark, 9: 31, 32. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.-John, 20: 9. Let these say. ings sink down into your ears: for the son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him that saying.—Luke, 9: 44, 45.— Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mock.
ed and spitefully entreated, and spitted on; and they shall Scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.-Luke, 18: 31-35.
From these texts we may learn that a subject may be spok en upon in the plainest language, and yet remain a mystery in the minds of good christians on account of some professed opinions. The Apostles were prepossessed of the opinion that Christ would never die, therefore could not believe him when he plainly told them he should. So christians having been taught from childhood to believe that all will not be saved, have become so partial to the belief, that they will twist the Scriptures rather than renounce it: and although the salvation of all is spoken of in as plain language as was the death of Christ, yet, like the Apostles, christians think one thing is said, and another meant.
Limitarian. Did you ever doubt, after hearing a sermon on universalism; whether the preacher believed all men would be saved? Or did you ever infer from the writings of any of the modern propagators of that doctrine, that a part of mankind would be lost? How is it, then, that the sacred scribes, if they believed and taught universalism, have left the subject in so much darkness? How is it that they have led nearly all their readers into error on this subject?
R. Universalists give evidence of being as firm in their belief as any other denomination. They hold that, for a limited term, some will be lost, but not so that Christ can not find and save them. The sacred scribes taught universalism, and no doubt believed it. Nor did they leave the subject in darkness; for language could not be made to speak plainer; therefore they have not led their readers into error. It is possible that a subject may be revealed in the plainest manner, and yet the best of men remain ignorant of it. For proof;-after Christ