is a probability that a great number of them will be saved. And we are at a loss to know why it should not be still more pleasing, if it can be proved, that all the human race will be saved. But while the two first of these will be admitted as pleasant and this is no argument against their truth, yet the last is considered false because it is the most pleasant. Does the objector say, we know the two first are true but not the last. This is the very point at issue to be proved, and the proof must be drawn from some other source, showing the falsehood of my doctrine, than the pleasing nature of it.

4th, If the pleasant nature of the doctrine, be a solid objection against its truth, the fewer saved the better, to prove the doctrine false, and the more agreeable, I presume, to the objector. We think, we may go further, and say, that the eternal misery of the whole human race, which would be precisely the reverse of my doctrine, is most likely to be the true one, according to this objection. Its being so harsh or unpleasant, then, shows it to be true; and because it is so unpleasant this is the strongest evidence that it must be true. The fact is, there is no real argument in the case before us. A false mode of reasoning is adopted, and the world might end, before any thing conclusive could be made out relative to this subject.

5th, The objector seems to think that the doctrine is pleasing, and the force of his objection to it arises from thinking that all are to be saved without a salvation from sin. This is his mistake not mine. Should he say,

this is the inference that many will draw from it, to go on in sin; 1 reply, I cannot help this, any more than the objector can, where persons draw inferences from his doctrine, to go on in the same course. Yea, I cannot help this, any more than an apostle could, when persons urged as an inference

from bis doctrine, “ let us sin because grace aboundeth.” What doctrine is it from which men may not draw inferences to go on in sin?. The only one that I can at present think of, is the doctrine of universal, Bernal misery. Even this is not an exception, for the inference would be, “ since at death we are all to be eternally miserable, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." If some have argued," let us sin because grace aboundeth,” perhaps others have also said," let us sin because eternal torments abound.”

6th, Is it not God's design that the gospel of his grace should be a pleasing doctrine to the world ? It is glad tidings of great joy to all people, We ask, does God mean to save the world by the preaching of an unpleasant doctrine? We know of none better fitted to effect this, than the doctrine of eternal torments in hell. Had the apostles preached this doctrine, just as much as preachers do in our day, we should have been inclined to believe, that God meant to save men and to save them by the preaching of this very doctrine. But will any man affirm, that their preaching has any affinity to the sermons .we hear in our day, so far as the doctrine of hell torments is concerned ? The word Gehenna or hell, none of their hearers ever heard them utler, if the New Testament is to be our Bible. The word hell is on the lips of all preachers, who believe this doctrine, so frequently, that one would think if they learned their divinity from the Bible, that it was full of it. The apostles never used the word hell in any sermon, but they seldom omit it. Whether my views be right or wrong, the following things are certain ; first, it was not God's design to save men in the apostles' day by preaching hell torments to them, for this they never did: and secondly, it is also certain, that my views are more like those entertained by the apostles, than the sentiments preached concerning hell torments by

orthodox preachers. I put in therefore my claim for being more orthodox than they are in this, if apostolic preaching is a true standard of orthodoxy. I may add, thirdly, which seems also certain, that if it be God's design now to save men by preaching the doctrine of eternal misery in hell, he has changed bis mind, for this was not his design in the days of the apostles. I might add more, but I forbear.

7th, If the objector is sincere in urging this objection, that because the doctrine is pleasant it cannot be true, does it not fairly follow, that the more unpleasant any doctrine is, the more certain is its truth! Upon this principle no doctrine ought to be more surely believed than the doctrine of eternal misery, for surely it is not a pleasant doctrine. All Universalists therefore, ought at least to believe the objector's doctrine and for this very reason, because it is sa unpleasant to them. But on the other hand, the objector ought to believe their doctrine and for the very same reason, because their doctrine is unpleasant to him. By this mode of deciding what is truth, both doctrines are proved true, and the two ought to believe each other's doctrine, and reject their own. But when they have done this, they must just rejeet the new doctrines they have embraced and receive their former ones for the very same reason; for the doctrines they have embraced respectively are pleasant, and those they now oppose are unpleasant. In short, it proves both doctrines true and both false at the same time.

8th, But we may ask the objector, is it possible for any man to receive any doctrine until it appears pleasant to him? We think this is impossible. A doctrine may appear very unpleasant, and while it does so to any person, he will reject it. This we have a very good example of in the objector himself. The idea that hell is not a place of endless misery ap

pears to him an unpleasant, a dreadful doctrine, and hence he rejects it. And the doctrine of eternal mis. ery, on the other hand, appears, at least to him, a very pleasant doctrine, and consequently he receives it. Yea, let the objector try, if he can, to receive any doctrine until it appears pleasant. The doctrine of endless misery he has received, and we think it must appear to him, pleasant, whatever it may be to other people. We think he ought not to deny this, and, sure we are, that we shall never envy him any part of the pleasure which it affords him, until we have altered our minds greatly on this subject.

9th, If my doctrine be so pleasant as the objector says, how comes it to pass that it is not universally received? Why is it even so much opposed? Yea, why is it opposed by the objector himself? So far from its being a pleasing doctrine to the majority, it is one which is generally condemned. All sects are agreed to put it down, if possible. There is something then in the doctrine, which renders it unpleasant. What this is, it is not very difficult to perceive. This doctrine, certainly bears hard against the pride and self-righteousness of the human heart. It affords no room for one man to glory over another, as a particular favourite of heaven. Some, yea many, murmur against the good man of the house, that every man should have a penny; and like the elder son in the parable, are angry that the father should treat such prodigals with such kindness. They think there should be a hell to punish sinners in forever, and some have even gone so far as to say, if all men are to go to heaven, they do not wish to go there. So long as such a spirit prevails, there need be no wonder that my views of this subject should be hated and opposed. The first thing such persons ought to do, is to consider the nature of the spirit they are of. Can such a spirit be the spirit of Christ?

It is further objected that this is a uery good doctrine to live by, but it will not do to die by.-In answer to this objection, let it be remarked, that this objection implies, that the doctrine of eternal misery, is a doctrine which will do, both to live and die by. But that my doctrine can afford no hope nor comfort, neither in life nor in death. Or does it mean, that this doctrine affords more of these, both in life and in death; but that the other only affords a false and temporary hope and comfort in life, but no hope nor comfort in death? Taking this to be the true sense of the words of the objector, we would then ask him, how he knows that his doctrine will do better to live by and die by, than the other? We do not think he can make any possible reply to this but by saying, my doctrine is true and yours is false. Well, we hope he, or whoever urges this objection, will consider it a duty they ought to perform, to prove that my views of Gehenna are unscriptural. For

1st, If they are true, why will they not do to live and die by better than the opposite views, which must be false? The whole here depends on the truth or falsehood of my sentiments. If they can be proved from the Scriptures false, I frankly confess that they are neither fit to live nor die by. Candour, in the objector, will certainly also grant, that if my sentiments are found upon examination true, his doctrine of eternal torments in hell, is not fit either to lite or die by, because it must be false. I contend that true doctrine, or in other words, the doctrine of the Bible, correctly understood, is the doctrine which men can either live or die by comfortably. Error is not good for men, either in life or in death. It is truth which gives true hope and joy to the mind, and it is truth which is a light to the feet and lamp to the path. The whole here depends on which of the two doctrines is the doctrine of Scripture. While this remains undecided,

« VorigeDoorgaan »