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LETTER No. VII.
BALTIMORE, Dec. 30, 1834.
To Rev. Otis A. Skinner:
DEAR SIR,-I shall in this letter, lay before you twelve objections to the doctrine of universal salvation, taken from the metaphor, and parables of the New Testament. And,
1. In Matth. 11. 12. (see Luke 111. 17.) we read that "he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. On this text I would remark that, 1. The wheat and the chaff are metaphors, intended to point out the condition of the righteous and the wicked, in this world. 2. The disposition which was made of them, that is, the gathering in of the wheat to the garner, and the burning up of the chaff, was designed to point out the disposition which shall be made of the righteous and the wicked, at the day of judgment; the former shall be admitted into the heavenly blessedness, while the latter shall be cast into eternal fire. Now, to say that the wicked will come to eternal life as well as the righteous, would not only quite destroy the most prominent feature in the metaphor, but directly contradict it.
2. We are informed Matth. III. 10. (Matth. III. 17-19; Luke 111. 9.) that "the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is
hewn down and cast into the fire." On this passage I would observe, 1. The word trees is a trope or metaphor to signify men. 2. The axe is the justice of God. 3. The good fruit is the fruit of the spirit, Gal. v. 22, 23., love, joy, peace. long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith or fidelity, meekness and temperance. Those who do not bring forth these fruits shall be cut down by the judgments of God, and cast into everlasting fire. One of the most prominent features in this metaphor is, the utter impossibility of a burned tree, returning to its original state of verdure. This idea, when carried out, and applied to the state of the sinner, will present itself in direct opposition to his final restoration to endless happiness.
3. We read Matth. v. 13. (Luke XIV. 34, 35.) "ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men." Here it may be observed, 1. The word salt is a metaphor, designed to signify men. 2. The savour of the salt may signify the influence of true piety, and the grace of God, in the hearts and lives of men. 3. The use of salt, is to preserve the various articles of domestic life; so truly pious men preserve, for a time, the ungodly from temporal destruction, and are sometimes the means of their eternal salvation. See the case of Sodom.— Now if the salt loose its savour, it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men: therefore, if men give themselves up to final apostacy, they are
fit for nothing but to be cast out of the kingdom of God, and banished to everlasting destruction. The most striking idea in this figure is perfectly hostile to the doctrine of universal salvation.
4. We are told, Matt. XII. 43, 45, (Luke XI. 24, 26.) that "when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out, and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first." Now this parable, if it may be cailed a parable, points out the life, character, and final condition of an apostate. The unclean spirit was cast out by the spirit of God, at his conversion.— The unclean spirit or principle returned at his fall from the grace of God. The seven other spirits, more wicked than the former, entering into the man, points out his total depravity and entire abandonment of all good. The last state of this man is worse than the first. Now if the doctrine of Universalism be true, the last state of every man is infinitely better than any former state, whatever it may have been. Hence, one of the leading features of this passage, is directly opposed to Universalism.
5. In Matth. XIII. 47., it is declared, that "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to the
shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, and cast the bad (sapra dead, or rotten) away." On these words I remark: 1. The sea may signify the world. 2. The fish mankind. 3. The net the gospel. 4. The fishers the ministers of Christ. 5. The good and bad fish, saints and sinners; the former are to be gathered into churches, and the latter to be cast away. So shall it be, said our Saviour, at the end of the world; the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. Our Lord's explanation of this parable is extremely hostile to the doc. trine of Universalism,
6. The parable of the wheat and the tares recorded in Matth. vIII. 24, 30., and explained in Matth. XIII. 36-43., affords a very formidable bulwark, against the innovations of Universalism. Let us see the particulars of this parable. 1. The field is the world. 2. The good seed are the children of God. 3. The tares are the children of the devil. 4. The tares and the wheat, or the righteous and the wicked, are to remain together till the harvest. 5. The harvest is the end of the world, (not the end of the Jewish age, for the tares are still among the wheat.) 6. The reapers are the angels, who shall gather up the tares, and burn them in the fire. Thus it shall be, at the end of the world; for, the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire. I cannot see how the tares, after being burned, shall become
wheat; which must be the case if Universalism be true. I wish to see a consistent exposition of this parable; and yet in accordance with the principles of Universalism: but this is utterly impossible.
7. The parable of the ten virgins, Matth, xxv. 1-12, presents a difficulty of some considerable magnitude, to the reception of the doctrine of Universalism. This parable, in general, represents the state of the church in this world. The five wise virgins who took oil in their vessels to recruit their lamps, represent true christians, that obtain the grace of God, which will serve to sustain them in the hour of death, and at the day of judgment, The five foolish virgins, represent formal professors, who are blameless in the eyes of the world, have a lamp of outward profession, but make no provision for eternity by seeking the regeneration of the heart. The coming of the bridegroom may signify Christ's coming to judgment at the last day. The admission of the wise virgins to the wedding, may indicate the introduction of the saints into the kingdom of glory. While the rejection of the foolish may, as forcibly, point out the final rejection of the wicked, at the last day. The leading features of this parable, present a very strong objection, to the final salvation of all men.
8. The parable of the talents, Matth. xxv. 14, 30, is utterly irreconcielable with the doctrine of the Universalists. Let us review some of the leading features of this parable. 1. The travelling man may represent the Almighty God. 2. The servants signify all