網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

will, has ordained universal savation; and therefore, that is immutable and everlasting truth.This all can know, and be saved.

4. God's decree. "I will declare the decree ** Ask of me and I will give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession," Here is what the infinite Jehovah has decreed; not offered, net provided, but decreed though Jesus Christ.The heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth decreed to salvation! A more expressive term could not be used.

Where is Calvinism in the light of this testimony? Where too is Methodism, which denies the existence of such a decree? They both vanish, and among the thousand errors, that have cxisted only in the disordered imaginations of men. This testimony of David coincides with what Paul says in Heb. 1. 2. "Whom he hath appointed heir of all things." This word appointed is the same as decreed.--Thus we read; He appointed other seventy-I will appoint to you the kingdom, as my Father hath appointed a kingdom to me. According then to the scriptural use of the word appointed, it shows the positive certainty of Christ being heir of all things. Something more must be intended than that means are provided for this, that all can be saved, that there is grace sufficient for all. His being appointed, shows that all the perfections of the Father and Son are pledged for the execution of the work; and that the decree of Heaven has gone forth, declaring that Jesus shall be heir of all.

[blocks in formation]

LETTER XVI.

EASTON MD. May 24, 1835.

To Rev. Otis A. Skinner:

DEAR SIR: I have just read your fifteenth let-ter, and find nothing in it, that requires either a careful or a critical reply. That part of it which relates to my fifteenth communication, needs no investigation. The new proofs as you suppose them to be, of the final salvation of all men, require some notice, not because they contain any real proof, but because the unthinking reader, mightsuppose them to be of some importance, were I to pass them by, in total silence.

Your new proofs are taken from the promise, oath, will, and decree of God. All these things may appear very plausible to some persons; however, I shall attend to them in order.

1. The promises of God. The promises of the Most High, which are made to the human race, may be variously classified. They relate to time and eternity, to the body and to the soul, and they are conditional and unconditional in their nature, and with respect to their accomplishment. Some of the promises of temporal good are absolutely unconditional: as the promise of summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, the fertilizing showers of rain, and all the vegetable productions of the earth, for the use of man: all these things are given, in a certain sense, irrespective of any condition on the part of man. But, the promise of full barns and store-houses, great wealth and affluence, &c. are conditional, and depend, in a great measure, upon our diligence and unwearied perseverance in the pursuits of industry and domestic economy. "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land."

"The hand of the diligent maketh rich." Some of the promises of spiritual good are absolutely unconditional, as they are fulfilled without any previous condition on the part of man whatever. Of this class are the promise of a Saviour coming into the world to be an expiatory sacrifice for all sin-the promise of the Holy Spirit to convince the world of sin-the promise of the means of grace, and the establishment of gospel ordinances in the Christian church-the promise of a great diffusion of divine knowledge over the face of the earth. While all these general promises may be regarded as emanating unconditionally from the unbounded goodness and benevolence of God, it is equally certain, that a great number of the promises of spiritual good are conditional, depending on something which must be performed by the creature; for instance, the promises of the pardon of sin, and the purification of the heart by the Spirit of God, are suspended upon the condition of repentance, towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which must be performed by the creature through divine aid, otherwise the promises never will be fulfilled. The promise of eternal life is suspended upon the condition, that we accept of the overtures of divine mercy, as propounded in the gospel, and manifest this acceptance by faithfully discharging the duties we owe to God, to our neighbour, and to ourselves. The threatening of eternal misery, is suspended upon the condition, that we reject the gospel of Christ, and live in the violation of the laws of God; on all such, the horror and wrath of the Almighty shall be poured out without mixture, and without end, as to its duration. That the promises of God, in relation to individual happi

ness are contingent, and not absolutely certain, but depend upon contingent circumstances connec ted with the volition of the human will, is manifest from the sacred Scriptures. Take, for instance, the declaration of the Almighty, himself, where, in speaking of the consequence of the Jews transgressing his law, he says," Ye shall know my BREACH of promise." Num. xiv. 34. If the promises of eternal life were unconditional, why did the Apostle Paul caution the Hebrew converts to "take heed lest a promise, being left them of entering into his (God's) rest, any of them, should seem to come short of it." Heb. iv. 1. These scriptures prove indisputably, that the promises made to individuals, concerning future happiness, are all conditional. If this were not so, there is no possible use for a day of judgment; but there is a day of judgment appointed, in which the secrets of all hearts, will be made manifest, and the hidden things of darkness, brought to light, and every man receive a reward or punishment according to the deeds done in the body. Until you can prove that all the promises of God are unconditional in their fulfilment, it is vain, to adduce them in proof of the final salvation of all men; but this you never can do, while the bible is taken as a standard of appeal in these matters.

2. The oath of God. The oath of the Almighty is of the same force and meaning with that of his word; the former may be better calculated to make an impression on the human heart, than the latter, while they are both equally obligatory on the faithfulness of God, as it regards their accomplishment. The oath which God swore to Abraham, had respect to the Messiah, and the

prosperity of his kingdom and government, which were to emanate from the offspring of that Patriarch, as it regards the flesh. This cath was literally and actually fulfilled in the coming of Christ, the spread of the gospel, and the innumerable multitudes, who were regenerated in heart, and reformed in life by the grace of God. The oath of God, recorded in the cx. the Psalm, and quoted by St. Paul in Heb. vii. 21, concern ing the priesthood of Christ, is similar in mean · ing, with that concerning Abraham, inasmuch, as they both relate to the same subject with some little difference, the former respects the Messiah, and his kingdom, the latter, the priesthood of Christ, and the success of his ministerial labours. I can see no proof in all this, of the total extinction of human misery. You ask me "have I the oath of God in favour of endless misery?" To this I answer unhesitatingly-I have. If you will open your bible and turn to Psal. xcv. 11. you wil find that the Jews tempted God, and grieved his Spirit for the space of forty years in the wilderness; the consequence of which was, he swore in his wrath, they should not enter into his rest. You will probably say, this was a worldly rest, the land of Canaan, and not the happiness of the saints, in a future state. To this objection, I answer, we have an infallible commentator on the passage. St. Paul, applies it to the future state. In Heb. iii. 3. the apostle in addressing believers, warns them of the awful effects of unbeli and quotes Psal. cx. 11. and applies the passage concerning the land of Canaan, as a type of the heavenly blessedness. Then, if the sense of the Apostle is not this, that God has sworn in his wrath that unbelievers shall never enter inte

« 上一頁繼續 »