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Clarke says, "These words may refer, 1. To the creation of the world. 2. To the Jewish state and people. 3. To the state in which the world shall be found when he (Christ) comes to judge it. The righteous and the wicked shall be permitted to grow together, till God comes to make a full and final separation." Notes in loc.
Obj. 7. The five foolish virgins shut out. Matt.
On these words Henry observes, "The state of saints and sinners will then be unalterably fixed, and those that are shut out then, will be shut out forever." Com. in loc. Clarke says, "Then shall the kingdom of hea ven. The state of Jews and professing christians, or the state of the visible church at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and in the day of judgment; for the parable appears to relate to both those periods. And particularly to the time in which Christ shall come to judge the world, it will appear what kind of reception his gospel has met with." Again, "The door was shut. Sinners on a death bed too often meet with those deceitful merchants, who promise them salvation for a price which is of no value in the sight of God. Come unto me, says Jesus, and buy-there is no salvation but through his blood, no hope for the sinner but that which is founded upon his sacrifice and death. The door was shut-dreadful and fatal words! No hope remains. Nothing but death can shut this door-but death may surprise us in our sins, and then death is our only portion." Notes in loc.
Obj. 8. The parable of the talents. Matt.xxv. 14-90.
On the punishment of the unprofitable servant mentioned in the parable, Dr. Clarke remarks: "He is punished with an everlasting separation from God and the glory of his power. Cast forth the unprofitable servant, ver. 30. Let him have nothing but darkness, who refused to walk in the light : let him have nothing but misery, weeping and gnashing of teeth, who has refused the happiness which God provided for him.
Reader, if the careless virgin and the unprofitable servant against whom no flagrant iniquity is charged, be punished with an cuter darkness, with a hell of fire; of what sorer punishment must he be judged worthy, who is a murderer, * # * a blasphemer, a thief, a liar, or in any respect an open violatcr of the laws of God? The careless virgins and the unprofitable servant were saints in comparison of millions, who are, notwithstanding, dreaming of an endless heaven, when fitted only for an endless hell!" Notes in loc.
Obj. 9. The parable of the feast. Luke xiv. 15 -24.
On this parable Clarke says but little, and refers his readers to Matt. xxii. 1—14, where it is largely explained, in which explanation I find the following words:-"That if this marriage do not take place here, an eternal separation from God, and from the glory of his power shall be the fearful consequence." Notes in loc.
Obj. 10. The rich man and Lazarus. Luke xvi. 19-31.
On this parable Wesley remarks, "But Abraham said, Son-according to the flesh. Is it not worthy of observation that Abraham will not re
vile even a damned soul? Shall living men revile one another? Thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things: Thou didst choose and accept of worldly things as thy good, thy happiness. And can any one be at a loss to know why he was in torments? This damnable idolatry, had there been nothing more, was enough to sink him to the nethermost hell." Notes in loc.
Clarke says, "This account of the rich man and Lazarus is either a parable or a real history. If it be a parable, it is what may be; if it be a real history, it is that which has been. Either, a man may live as is here described and go to perdition when he dies: or, some have lived in this way, and are now suffering the torments of an eternal fire. The account is equally instructive, in which soever of these lights it is viewed."— Again, "The torments which a soul endures in the hell of fire, will form through all eternity a continual present course of indescribable woe. Actual torment in the flames of the bottomless pit, forms a fourth circumstance in the punishment of the lost." Notes in loc.
Obj. 11. The vine and its branches. John xv. 5, 6.
Henry says, on these words, "They will be burned forever in a fire, which not only cannot be quenched, but which will never spend itself." Com. in loc.
In explanation of this metaphor, Clarke says, "He is cast forth: Observe, that person who abides not in Christ, in a believing, loving, obedient spirit, is 1. Cut off from Jesus, having no longer any regard or title to him, or to his salvation. 2. He is withered-deprived of all the in
fluences of God's grace and spirit; loses all his heavenly unction; becomes indifferent, cold, and dead to every holy and spiritual word and work. 3. He is gathered becomes (through the judg ment of God) again united with backsliders like himself, and other workers of inquity; and being abandoned to his own heart and Satan; he is 4. Cast into the fire-separated from God's people, from God himself, and from the glory of his power. And 5. He is burned-is eternally tormented with the devil and his angels, and with all those who have lived and died in their iniquity. Reader! pray God that this may never be thy portion." Notes in loc.
Obj. 12. The trees twice dead. Jude 12.
On this passage Mr. Wesley writes, "Twice dead—In sin, first by nature, and afterward by apostacy, plucked up by the roots: And so incapable of ever reviving." Notes in loc.
Now sir, wha think you of the testimony of "orthodox critics" respecting the metaphors in debate? Clarke, to whose authority you have appealed, has decided against Universalism in favour of the doctrine of endless misery. What now? You have appealed to him against my views; I am satisfied to abide by his decision throughout, so away goes the novel doctrine of Universalism to the four winds.
The four texts which you cite, in the last section of your letter, in proof of the doctrine of Universalism are entirely perverted and misapplied to support an erroneous system.
John xii. 32. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." I can see no proof in these words that the punishment
of the wicked is not eternal. Nor do I think any man living can, unless blinded by a false creed, or basely interested in the establishment of a false doctrine. All that our Saviour could mean, by the words in question was, that if he should be put to death on the cruss, he would, by the influence of his Holy Spirit on the human heart, enlighten both Jews and Gentiles, and thereby put the means of salvation within their reach, that those who should obey his holy gospel should be everlastingly saved.
Rom. v. 20. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."These words relate to the fall of mankind in Adam, and their restoration by Jesus Christ.That all men fell in Adam is admitted; that provision is made for the restoration of all in Christ is also admitted, which is all that is intended in this text. It is not said that all mankind shall be made righteous. But supposing it was, and that in the most positive manner, it would not prove the final salvation of all men, according to your own account: for, you said in your 6th letter that the believer of to-day may be the infidel of to-morrow. So that although all had eternal life, or were made righteous in this life, they may not be eternally saved.
1 John iv. 14. "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." These words prove that God has, of his unbounded mercy, sent his son into the world to purchase, by his obedience and death; the salvation of the world; and, although it is prepared in Christ, its application to the human