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to Hezekiah, king of Judah, that God had appointed him to live yet fifteen years; nevertheless, this did not prevent, on the part of the sick monarch, a recourse to medical means for his
recovery. (Isaiah xxxviii. 21.) Except these abide in the ship,” said Paul, “ye cannot be saved,” notwithstanding that God had told him that they should all escape, and become converts to the gospel by his
“ For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, Sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts xxvii. 23—25.) It is presumed that Paul did not preach to these the less on account of the assurance that they were to be given to him for converts; it is scarcely probable that he excused himself with the plea, that as God had purposed their conversion, it would be effected with or without means.
Calvinist. I fully approve your answer; the purpose respecting the salvation of the elect is indeed unalterable, and the number of the same “is so fixed and definite, that it can neither be added to, nor diminished.” Still, as you have said, he who has appointed the end, has also with it appointed the means whereby it is to be effected : and the same is true with regard to the reprobate ; they are to be damned by the agency of appointed means—the gospel was appointed savour of life unto life, and of death unto death."
Arminian. The poor reprobate then would have been better off without it, if it is only to prove to him an instrument of final ruin. This is truly horrible! It follows conclusively from your view, that the gospel is an occasion of greater evil than good, by as inuch as the number of the damned will exceed that of the saved ! And is this “the gospel of the grace of God ?" Oh ! assuredly
I see now a great utility in preaching on universalist principles, inasmuch as it is to be an effectual means in God's own time and way of bringing into the fold of life the whole of human kind; an end, this, worthy of such means ! and a means, this, (I may add) worthy of such an end ! But to preach the glorious gospel to intelligent creatures for the mere purpose of furnishing an excuse for damning them eternally! God of heaven! how diseased by corrupting creeds must be the mind of that man, who
can tolerate such an absurdity! You affirm that the gospel is appointed as a sure means of bringing about a total ruin to millions—the universalist has it a sure means of accomplishing a final salvation for all.
Calvinist. And according to Arminianism it will prove a sure means of accomplishing nothing! It may, or it may not, just as it bhall happen! All may be saved, or none! God may prevail, or the devil! hell may be useless, because tenantless, or all the universe besides may be depopulated to people it! all is uncertainty, nothing is sure! Now, agreeably to my system, something, at least, is certain ; the purposes of Jehovah, seconded by his power to fulfil them, are a guarantee that he has not created, in vain ; nor has Jesus died, nor the scriptures been given, nor the gospel been preached, nor the spirit operated, but that all whom from eternity he designed for salvation, shall be saved.
Arminian. All whom he designed for salvation! I wonder then you don't turn universalist at once; for I am sure it is susceptible of easy and clear proof, that all were designed for salvation ; and if all so designed shall be saved, why then, all shall be saved ! This is giving in to universalism with a witness.
Author. Well, well, gentlemen, we may as well bring our conversation to a close, for you cannot sufficiently agree together to unite in opposing me: on the contrary, you make out a clear proof of my doctrine by the arguments which you urge against each other. One of you affirms, that there is, on God's part, a plenitude of
for the salvation of all: the other, that there is a plenitude of disposition. What, then, is left to me to prove ? for a full disposition to do a thing, and a power adequate to its performance, implies with certainty that the thing shall be done. It must be evident to your candor, gentlemen, that each of your systems, taken separately, “ limits the Holy One of Israel ;” out of both, united, a theory may be framed which will well harmonize with the divine perfections. Universalism, in my judgment, is that theory.
Arminian. Nevertheless, I must still object against both yours and the Calvinian system, that, by ing that all things are the result of divine appointment, they make God the author of all the sin in the universe !
Author. We make him the author of all things, indeed; so do
the scriptures; so does common sense; and so, I may add, does your own doctrine also, as has been shown before. It can make no actual difference between us in this respect that you say, God permits, while we say, he appoints, for the result is the same in both cases. I have a tiger chained to a stake; without my permission it can do no harm; there is a group of lovely children playing near by ; the monster is glaring at them, his eyes flash fire, he claws the ground, and gnashes his teeth with rage.
Shall I permit him to get loose among them? It is done ; he has broke his chain; he has bounded into their midst: merciful heaven, what a scene of carnage ensues! their screams pierce my soul ! My conscience accuses me of the deed, but I am guiltless! I am guiltless! I only permitted it.
An act is sinful only as it is committed with a sinful design ; God's designs, like himself, are infinitely and unchangeably good, consequently, he cannot sin in any act or appointment of his, (however much suffering may be involved in its present operations,) because not only is such act, or appointment, designed for ultimate benefit to all who are affected by it, but the Being who so designed has power sufficient to bring such benefit to pass.
The tiger is loose, (by which I would personate sin and misery,) whether by appointment, or permission, you must see that the divine character is equally concerned in the event. Shall it roam and make havoc amongst God's offspring forever? or shall it be destroyed—the wounds it has inflicted be healed, and the subjects of its violence he brought to see and experience, that, all things considered, it was better for them to have suffered from its fury for a time, that thereby their happiness might be enhanced for eternity ? Your creed renders an affirmative answer to the former question-mine to the latter. And now tell me, candidly, which answer is the more consonant with the glory, the wisdom, the benevolence of the infinite Creator ? Put your hand on your heart and answer.
To the question, “ Why do you write, and preach, since, as all things take place by necessity, you cannot alter them ?" my answer is, I can alter such things as were appointed to be altered by my means. As before observed, when ends are ordained, the means for effecting them are ordained also; there is then all the use for means upon this scheme, as upon any other.
" But how would you reply to a criminal,” (I may be asked,) “ who should plead, that as it was foreappointed to him to commit the deed, he ought not to be punished for it ?" I would answer him, that it was also foreordained that he should suffer for the act. It was certainly foreordained that Judas should betray the Savior, and also that he should experience the woe pronounced upon him therefor.
If you don't like this view of things, good friend, whoever you be, the author will be most happy to have you refute it: show that it is contrary to scripture ; contrary to experience, to fact ; and bring forward, in lieu thereof, a scheme which shall unite the suffrages of all these in its favor; which shall better consist with the Omnipotence and sovereignty of the great Jehovah; and not only will the author become your most willing convert, but he will make you, into the bargain, his most sincere and humble bow of thanks.
EVERLASTING, FOREVER, &c.
A BRIEF VIEW OF THE ARGUMENT FROM THESE TERMS.
We are apt to forget, in this branch of the discussion, that the question is not about the meaning of English words; for as the bible was not written in English, the meaning of terms in that language can have nothing whatever to do with the settling of the inquiry as to its doctrines. The proper question before us is, What is the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words, which are rendered everlasting, eternal, etc., in our version of the scriptures ? In the attempt to maintain the doctrine of endless suffering, it has been most strenuously contended, that the radical and most usual sense of these words is unceasing duration. If, however, we attend to their applications, we shall have reason for considering this definition extremely questionable: they are applied to hills, and mountains; to the term of human life; to the Aaronic priesthood ; to the Jewish ordinances; to their possession of the holy land. and to many other things of temporary duration. In one
instance, forever is applied to a period of three days. (Jonah ii. 6.) If such uses of terms were only occasional, if they occurred but now and then, and after long intervals, we might suppose them employed out of their strict and ordinary signification ; but such is far from the fact; on the contrary, their application 10 limited periods is so frequent, that the best critics in the languages have defined them as “ expressing duration, but with great variety."
That they are frequently used to express eternity is granted, chiefly as applied to God and his attributes; but then, it must be observed, their being so applied is no evidence, that this is their radical meaning, for we also find days, years, and ages, similarly applied. (Ps. lxxxix. 29; Mic. v. 2; Ps. cii. 24, 27; Isa. xxvi. 4; Ephe. iii. 21.) Yet surely none will hence infer that these words, apart from their connexion, imply eternity, although as thus applied they undeniably do. The same is true of everlasting, forever, etc. : when the subject to which they are applied is in its own nature eternal, they are to be understood as expressing that sense ; but when the duration of the subject is limited, they must be understood as implying but a limited duration.
Seemeth it at all probable, reader, that if the radical sense of these words were as affirmed by the doctors of endless misery, Jehovah would have employed them as he has in his commands to the Jews ? He surely did not purpose that their peculiar religion should be of perpetual obligation; yet he directed that the priesthood should be everlasting. (Ex. xl. 15.) He set apart the house of Aaron to this office forever. (Deut. xviii. 5.) He gave the Jews the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. (Gen. xvii. 8; xlviii. 4.) He instituted the sabbath as a sign betwixt him and them forever. (Numb. x. 8.) The atonement was to be an everlasting statute. (Lev. xvi. 34.) Their ordinances of the passover, (Ex. xii. 15.) tabernable, (Ibid. xxxi. 17.) and circumcision, (Deut. xxviii. 46.) were to last forever. And the same term, in its duplicated form, is applied to their possession of the promised land, forever and ever. (Jer. vii. 7; xxv. 5.) Many simiJar texts might be quoted, in which these terms are used in a way greatly to have deceived the Jews, if their generally received sense had been unending duration; for they would in that caso naturally have inferred that their institutions were to continue