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SALVATION, À DEI IVERANCE FROM ERROR AND SIN,
THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD.
2 TIMOTHY j. 9, 10.
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began :-But it is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Our first inquiry will be directed to ascertain what the Apostle means by the word saved. With a view to bring this subject to the understanding of the hearer, in as plain and as profitable a manner as possible, we shall attempt in the first place to examine the common doctrine of the church respecting salvation, and in the second place bring the scripture testimony on the subject into view, that the difference between the common doctrine and the divine testimony may dis
What we propose to examine in the first place is found in the following statement, which is here quoted from the shorter chatechism ; “ All mankind by the fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.” This is the miserable state into which man fell
, according to the sentiment under examination; and from which God provided means to save some, accordingly as is expressed thus ; “God having out of his mere good pleasure from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer.”
It is evident that the learned divines, who compos
ed this creed, designed to apply the doctrine of salva-
therefore a cand be stated thus; All mankind, the elect and non-elect, by the fall are under God's wrath and curse, which curse is the pains of hell after the death of the body and forever; but in conformity to a decree of God,
lords made from all eternity, there is a Redeemer provided hud to save the elect from this everlasting curse.
trele Having now before us the doctrine of salvation as it has been held in the christian church for a long time, and as it is now held and taught to old and young, let us attempt to examine its propriety. And let this be done with all that candor which is due to all subjects of moment, and especially to this which evidently involves the character of the divine Being. Let it be done too with that charity towards the framers of this creed and towards those who now believe in it, which holds the higest rank among the christian virtues; for certain it is that this candor and charity are necessary to be kept in constant exercise, among such shortsighted, benighted creatures.
On approaching the proposition before us, the following absurdities present themselves.
1st. It is absurd to say, that those whom God elected from all eternity to be saved by a Redeemer, are liable to the pains of hell forever.
2d. It appears absurd to say, that those whom God entered into a covenant to save, are under his wrath and curse, by which everlasting misery hereafter is intended.
3d. This scheme of salvation accuses the divine Being of partiality in the most direct manner.
It states that all mankind are in one condition, all under God's wrath and curse, and all liable to the pains of hell for
ever; but that though all are in one condition, the scheme of salvation embraces only a part without extending the least benefit to the rest.
4th. The doctrine under examination supposes that the divine Being has condemned millions of unborn infants to the pains of hell forever, for an act which Adam and Eve committed in the garden of Eden, which certainly appears to be unjust in the extreme.
Let candor look, for one moment, at these absurdities and improprieties, and at the same time let charity kindly impute them to the imperfection of our com
A body of learned divines have said after much deep study and profound deliberation, that God from all eternity elected some of the human race unto salvation by a Redeemer, and at the same time say, that these elected ones are under his curse which is the pains of hell forever in the future world. These learned doctors, who knew that the scriptures assert the impartiality of God, and who professed to believe that he is no respecter of persons, have limited his eternal mercy to but a part of mankind, and have excluded the rest from his favor forever. Notwithstanding they well knew, that it is repugnant to the law of God to condemn the innocent, and that the divine Being hath said, " the son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father," yet for one act of Adam they have condemned all mankind to a state of endless misery.
According to these tenets thousands of millions of unhappy wretches have already been sent to this hell, of which these divines speak, without ever knowing until they got there, that there ever was an Adam, or that he had sinned and involved them in this awful calamity to all eternity. How many millions of infants, of people who were educated in christian countries, have gone from this world before they were old enough to understand the horrible story framed by these divines; but much more numerous still is the number of those who were born in heathen lands and never heard of any part of the christian scriptures, much less, if possible of this antiscriptural creed.
Such is the general corruption of the christian doctrine, introduced by the creed under consideration, that all which people think of being saved from is the pains of hell hereafter.
On this notion sermons in general have been framed, and carefully directed to instruct people in the way by which they may be saved from this hell in the füture state.
This future misery is the gloomy subject, which is presented to people's minds, in all the vivid forms which imagination and the most powerful eloquence have been able to set forth, in order to terrify the mind and to call into action the most fearful apprehensions of which the human mind is susceptible. All this is considered necessary in order to lead sinners to repentance, by which they may avoid this state of torment.
This scheme of doctrine leads the mind to understand the scriptures, which speak of saving sinners, to mean the saving them from hell in the eternal world, or from the wrath and curse of God hereafter.
The hearer is requested to take this common opinion into careful consideration and compare it with the scripture testimony. First examine to see if you can find this wrath and curse of God resting on all mankind, of which such careful mention is made in the creed to which we have alluded.
After a careful and patient examination of the divine testimony, your humble servant has unspeakable joy in being able to say that this wrath and curse of God is no where recorded in the scriptures.
When those doctors who framed the creed undertook to describe the consequences of the first trans gression, did they at all confine themselves to the divine word? No surely they did not; for if they had done this, they would not have found that God pronounced any curse even on Adam and Eve themselves, much less on all mankind for what these two did.
If this unaccountable notion of the wrath and curse of God were a truth would it not have been announc ed by the Creator on his first visit to his sinful chil
dren? But did the merciful Father of our spirits intimate to Adam and Eve, that they had brought his wrath and curse, which are eternal misery, not only on themselves, but on all their numerous, unborn offspring?
No, blessed be his name, he mentioned but two curses, and one of them was on the serpent, and the other was on the ground. And in room of saying one word concerning cursing all mankind with the pains of hell in a future state, the divine Being did not intimate that even the serpent himself would be subject to any infelicity beyond his natural life.
“ Dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life;" and beyond this there was no intimation. It was said to the serpent; "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise bis heel.” Here in room of God's wrath and curse on our first parents, is a blessed and glorious promise of a final victory over, and deliverance from the power of the tempter.
Let us next inquire for the scripture testimony concerning salvation, and endeavor to understand what we are saved from, and by what means we are saved.
On this particular, less will be necessary than would be required if the same had not been noticed in some of our former lectures; yet such is the importance of the doctrine under consideration, as to justify its frequent investigation.
It was said by the Angel of God, to Joseph, concerning the child Jesus, " Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins.' According to this, that from which Jesus saves us, is sins. But according to the common doctrine, it seems that the angel would have said ; thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save the elect from the wrath and curse of God in the future world.
In justifying himself before the scribes and Pharisees, who accused him of receiving sinners and eating with them, our Saviour represented sinners by a sheep gone astray, and the repentance and salvation of sinners
represented by the return of the lost sheep to the