Page images

oppressor, with no future adjustment of their doings before the bar of God, must stand on the same level, where is the justice of the Holy One? If retribution is dispensed only in this world, here is partiality of the most glaring description.

5. Sometimes men are removed into eternity in the very act of atrocious wickedness. According to the system of universalism this is the most palpable form of partiality in the government of the world.

An instance of this kind has been already mentioned. The Egyptians, while pursuing the oppressed Israelites were engulfed in the Red Sea. The pirate has perished in the act of inflicting death upon peaceful men. The highwayman has been slain by the armed traveller. The adulterer has fallen a victim to the vengeance of an injured man. It is said that three robbers had been successful in seizing a rich booty. One of their number was sent to a neighboring town to obtain a supply of provisions. His companions resolved to murder bim on his return, that they might secure for themselves the whole of the booty. Their cruel resolution was carried into effect. Previously to his death he had poisoned the food which he was sent to purchase—for the purpose of becoming sole proprietor of the plundered wealth. His companions suspecting no danger, partook of the provisions and died. Thus all were cut off in the very act of atrocious wickedness.

In such cases, when are the perpetrators of crime punished ? Not in the future world, if we are to believe universalism; not in this life, for they die in the very commission of glaring crimes. And yet we are told that in this world men do receive according to their deserts? How is justice administered in cases of this description ? When are those who die in the very commission of crime punished ? or do they pass with all their guilt to the courts of heaven?

Say not that these cases are rare. Happily this is the fact. How comes it to pass that any such instances occur under the government of the all-wise God? Are not such instances so many specifications of glaring partiality ?

Should the governor of the State detect but a few men in the commission of murder, or rape, or forgery—should he shield them by all the power of executive patronage from the grasp of justice-should he advance them to the highest stations of inAuence, the glaring injustice of the procedure would call forth the most tumultuous excitement. Universalists themselves

would reprobate such a wanton outrage upon the rights of society. And does the Holy One welcome to the embrace of his love the blood-stained murderer, who has been slain in the commission of crime, or the foul libertine who has perished by the hand of an injured man? He does, if universalism may be credited.

The view of apparent irregularities like those that have been mentioned thus far, has driven men to the belief of future retribution. They have seen that unless a future time for the adjustment of such proceedings should arrive, the divine character would labor under the most unhappy implications. They have believed, as the Bible teaches, that the time will come, when the delayed retribution will be awarded to the evil and the good, with exact impartiality: God has appointed a day of judgment in which the transactions of this life will be closely scrutinized, and when every man shall " receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Universalism, in rejecting this scriptural truth, dispepses with a doctrine which has seemed to the servants of God and to the world at large the only explanation of the apparent disregard of justice in the government of this world. The friends of this system are obliged to prove merely from what is developed in this life, that God is just. They are not at liberty to leave perplexing difficulties to be explained by the unfolding scenes of the future world. All punishment, according to their system, is inflicted in this world. The reality of a day of judgment they deny. They must either question the justice of God, or explain in some satisfactory manner the glaring instances of partiality which their systein discloses in the administration of Jehovah.

Until universalism can account for the deviations from rectitude which her system brings to light in the providence of God, we must affirm that upon the principles of this system the Holy One is guilty of glaring partiality—that he is not “righteous in all bis ways and holy in all his works.”

II. Universalism involves a charge of incompetency against the Sovereign of the world.

The Almighty has established laws by which men are to be governed. He has affixed penalties which may be supposed the most suitable that infinite wisdomn can devise. According to the scheme of universalism, the penalties are faithfully enforced ; every man, it is said, "is punished to the full extent of his guilt.

How does the administration of Jehovah succeed? What is the state of the world? Does the government of the Eternal inspire sufficient awe or sufficient love to save men from incurring the penalty of the law? Where is the man that has been restrained effectually from sin? There is not an instance of undeviating rectitude in our world. All have sinned ; all do sin, and all are punished. There is not one of our race who escapes the penalty of the law as it is explained by universalism.

The civil government that could not wield sufficient influence to keep any of its citizens from becoming felons, would be deemed singularly weak. If all the inhabitants of our land were, at some time of their life, the inmates of a prison, you would infer that there must be some glaring defect in the structure of the government-either that the laws are unwise, or that the execution of them fails of answering the desired purpose. Universalism would bring out to view a similar defect in the divine government. It contemplates no future day of reckoning, when the unpunished and unpardoned offences of men are to be visited with ample retribution. It makes all men suffer in this world, and only in this world, according to their desert. It contends that God enforces faithfully the penalties of his laws. Under an administration so effective, what do we witness ? Every inhabitant of our world becomes a malefactor, and is punished. There is none that does not become, at some time of his life, an inmate of the universalist's hell. The great mass of the human family must be imprisoned over and over again, as long as they live. Some persons, if we may judge by their misfortunes, seem never to remain out of this prison. Why, if a civil government could not sustain itself without covering the land with prisons and immuring within their walls all its subjects, from the chief magistrates down to the humblest child, at intervals, would it not be deemed miserably weak?

According to our views, the penalty of the divine law is not enforced in this life ; its full infliction is reserved for a future state; and at last an immensely large proportion, saved by the atonement, will escape the penalty of eternal death. The government of God will accomplish its benign purposes without the enforcement of threatened suffering on every mortal. It is so effective as to recover lost sinners to the love and service of a holy God. Whereas according to universalism, none escape punishment; all are fully punished in this life. Nor do they

seem to be beneficially affected by this severity. The govern-. ment of Jehovah, it seems then, is too weak to save any of the race; all sin, and all are punished ; and they sin and suffer punishment as long as they live, are imprisoned and then set at liberty to be imprisoned over and over again in the reputed hell of this world's misery. Thus we are taught to regard God chiefly as the jailer of the world. Though he is vigorous in the extreme in the discharge of this unpleasant office, his prisons are continually filled, and yet the earth remains the same abode of universal depravity.

Let it not be replied here that universalism teaches the final salvation of all men, and that it provides a remedy for all existing evils in the divine administration. If sin is punished only in this world, future salvation can be no remedy for the ills of our present state. The doings of this life are to have no bearing upon the future. Such is the singular admission of universalism, (Whittemore's Notes on the Parables, p. 354.) In forming our estimate then of the divine government, we must limit our views to its results in this life, and here, as we have seen, we witness weakness and inefficiency. The administration of the Almighty is more unsuccessful than the administration of any human ruler, if we must credit universalism.

The legislators of antiquity deemed it unwise to propose laws without enforcing their penalties by the fear of future punishment. It is the opinion of statesmen that human laws cannot be sustained without the aid of a belief in future punishment. Even Napoleon would not dispense with this and among the means by which his government was administered. But universalism makes the Ruler of the world so unwise as to dispense entirely with the threatening of human punishment. If her statements were true, the all-wise God might improve his administration greatly if he would only learn from human sagacity to restrain mankind by the fear of future punishment.

The penalty of punishment in this life never has restrained men to any great extent. Whether it be threatened by God or by man, it is not sufficient to amehorate essentially the character of our race. Universalists themselves show that all the hell which they suffer in this world is but an inconsiderable evil. For although confident that they shall be happy after death, they evince no eagerness to leave a world where the sins of men are rigorously punished. They like their prison. Its confinement is not intolerably irksome. They are not anxious to depart and

be with Christ, as Paul was. We have known some of their number to be extremely unwilling to die, and wish earnestly to stay longer on earth, to stay in the only place of punishment which they believe to be known in the dominions of the Almighty. Why should they wish to linger in our world, if it be a hell, and the only hell, as they assert, unless they begin to find that their doctrine is false, since it charges God with such incompetency as can never disgrace the government of the Eternal.

III. Universalism conflicts with the benevolence of God.

We, who believe the doctrine of future and endless punishment, are accused of dishonoring God by adopting the most revolting conceptions of his character. Especially are our views said to conflict with divine benevolence. We believe that our conceptions of divine goodness, when stripped of the hideous drapery which our opponents are pleased to hang around them, will be found to accord, not clash with the inspired assertion, “God is love." We are charged with denying the goodness of God. Those who differ from us claim at least to entertain more expanded views of the divine benevolence than we do. Are they sure that their sentiments involve no impeachment of the goodness of the Almighty? This is a point on which they express themselves with much warmth, sometimes in a strain that denotes the most sincere desire to show forth the praises of the Lord, sometimes with a hectic glow and a severity of expression that betokens more doubt than conviction of the alleged superior belief in the benignity of God.

We wish not to say in return the hard things that have been said of ourselves. Our sentiments teach us to render good for evil, blessing for reviling. We shall not then retort upon our assailants the charge that their doctrine supposes God “to delight in cruelty.” But we shall attempt to show that universalism involves heavy charges against the benevolence of the Deity.

1. The first specification we would make of this charge is, that if the doctrine of eternal punishment be not true, its prevalence is irreconcileable with the alleged goodness of God, for we cannot suppose that he would suffer mankind to be deluded and afflicted as they have been by the dominion of a cruel error down to the present time.

If the heart of our Heavenly Father turns with instinctive horror from the mere conception of the future and endless pun

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »