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sation our works with meekness of wisdom.”
We are to glorify God in our
bodies and spirits, and honour.
him with our substance, and with the first fruits of all our increase; for all our store comes from his hands. What purer and sublimer views are required in any of our devotion: duties. than in our secular emphyments : In the use of spiritu' privileges, than in the use C worldly property 2 Why mu: we banish evil thoughts ar, passions, and call up friendly spositions and pious affection in the worship of God? It is to we may be freed from the formt, and filled with the latter at alimes. However devout and aftionate we may seem to be in r supplications and intercession if, when these are closed, we t without the fear of God, or thout regard to men, our Pos answer no valuable Purpose he forms of divine worship * : means of religion ; and that us and benevolent temper, whis IntCessary to the accoPoness of these forms, we around to carry with us into all affairs of the world, and 'All the transactions of social li "If we are never religious, but \, are attending on devotioser. cises, our religion wil go far, nor do us much good. Is it not probable, that professed Christians *: partial in their religion - If V. aim to commit to God their
baths, their seasons of wors!.
THE prophet Ezekiel said to certain false teachers in his day, “Ye have strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by fromising him life.” This passage shows the nature and tendency of an error, which has extensive influence over the minds of men at the present day, and even threatens the prosperity and safety of the churches. . Many openly profess and earnestly defend the doctrine of universal salvation ; while multitudes of others, though with less confidence, secretly hope, in despite of God’s word, that the doctrine is true.
Permit me, Christian church-. es, to address a few things to your serious consideration, in order to guard you against the influence of this heresy."
It is a consideration worthy of notice, that the false doctrine, against which I now wish to for
and their days of affliction, } • Readers, who would see this her. they think little of committing *sy in its different forms completely
him their ordinary days, secular labours, substance.
But remember, my
thei:futed, are referred to Edward's antheir worldlye to Chauncy, Strong's answer to
ontington, and other eminent writ. on the subject.
tify your minds, is on several accounts peculiarly calculated to gain credit and influence in the world. You will observe, in the first place, that the doctrine of universal salvation is altogether gratifying to the feelings of our depraved nature. It perfectly coincides with that corrupt principle of mankind, which aims to unite happiness with sin. It deludes and quiets the awakened, troubled conscience, turning its faithful admonitions into soothing flattery, and thus gives hope and joy to those who are most obstinately pursuing the path of iniquity. This consideration, while it shows that the doctrine is to be strongly suspected, proves it to be exceedingly dangerous. Another circumstance, which
exposes men to be led astray by
this doctrine is, that it seems, at' first view, to agree with the divine principle of general benev. olence, which seeks the good of the world. They, who embrace universalism, imagine they are actuated by the love of mankind; while the belief of endless punishment appears to them incompatible with all the kind and tender feelings of the human heart. This imposing idea has great effect upon multitudes, whose faith is the result of superficial and partial examination. To this it may bé added, that the doctrine of salvation seems, in the apprehension of many, to honour the mercy of God, and thus leads thcm to think that the belief of it is the offspring of piety. It is an additional snare, that the doctrine is brought forward under different forms, and defended in different ways, some of them adapted to the capacity and
Survey of New England Churches.
taste of literary men, and otlers, to the capacity and taste o' the populace. This erroneousenet is mixed, in different derees," with various religious sytems. In some it is artfully conealed, and those principles, whilh prepare the way for it, are nsinuated with such consummte subtilty, that their influence rather felt, than their tendency observed. In others, those ptions of God and futurity, whicdirectly imply it, are mol , boldly advocated. In other the doctrine itself is expresy asserted and laboriously defeled. The churches of Chris should be
ware of all these is of error, and oppose them wha firmness proportioned to pernicious
zeal, with which hey are practised.” At the prest day men in general are in aminent danger of embracing this destructive tenet, on accoat of the impious neglect and cotempt with which God’s word itreated. Judging from the common practice of many, if noonost nominal Christians, we ust suppose it to be their sentacnt, that they have a right to pnstrue the Bible according A their preconceived opinions or their inclinations ; that ths may boldly reject the obvious meaning of those passages, which alarm their consciences, estrain their passions, or destoy their hopes ; and as boly embrace those opinions, hosever unsupported by scripture, which flatter their pride, or spply nutriment for any of their #praved affections. If the word at God were universally regardtd and constantly appealed to, as the standard of truth, an effectual barrier would be sct up against
the encroachment of this, and every other error. But the slight impression, which men in general have of the authority of God’s word, gives a dangerous advantage into the hands of deceivers to propagate fatal delusion. That you may be still more effectually secured against the error of universalists, it will be proper for you to weigh the arguments which they employ ; to consider how superficial and hollow they are, and to prepare yourselves to confute them in the most satisfactory manner. Their principal and most specious argument you will find to be that, which they pretend to deduce from the infinite benevolence of God. The argument is briefly this: Ms God is infinitely good, he must desire, and as he is almighty, he will certainly effect the haffhiness of all his rational creatures. If any, who are naturally cafiable of haffliness, are subjected to final misery, it must be ascribed to a defect in the hower, or in the goodness of God. All attentive, enlightened Christians will perceive, that this argument rests on a tottering basis. If the benevolence of God is indeed infinite, as all will allow, how then is it possible that finite beings should comprehend its dimensions, or anticipate all its operations 2 According to the reasoning, which universalists adopt, we should judge that the moral and natural evil now existing in the world is inconsistent with the goodness of God. If it be said, that this temporary evil will be made conducive to the general-good; we ask why end!ess evil may not be used in the same way ? Who can be cer
tain that God will not most highly manifest his benevolence and glorify himself, by exhibiting a perpetual contrast between the beauty of holiness and the deformity of sin; between virtuous enjoyment and merited pain? Who has a right, either on rational or scriptural principles, to be confident, that the endless punishment of impenitent transgressors will not furnish opportunity for a brighter manifestation of divine perfection, and for promoting a greater sum of felicity in the universe, than the final happiness of every individual : These questions are proposed to confound the confidence of universalists, and to show that the conclusions, which they derive from the benevolence of God, are marked with uncertainty and weakness. But on the other hand we would guard, with sacred care, against the presumption of carrying either our reasoning or our faith on this subject any further, than we are warranted by revelation. Universalists sometimes reason in this way. If God should punish any of his creatures eternally, he would show himself less benevolent than an earthly parent, whose affection to his offspring could never consent, that any of them should be miserable. But here again we strongly object to the reasoning. Is infinite benevolence to be measured by finite : Must the goodness of God act upon the same limited scale with parental tenderness 2 But even parental love, properly directed, affords an illustration of this subject. Parents, who are governed by wise affection, will sometimes banish a child from their presence, and deliver him up to capital punishment for the good of their family, and of the public. And it hardly needs to be mentioned, that magistrates while actuated by the purest benevolence, sentence criminals to death, for the honour of government, and the welfare of community. If there is a great and indescribable difference between such instances of punishment, and the endless misery of immortal beings ; the difference is no more, than what necessarily results from the infinite distance between God and men, between the interests of his kingdom, and the interests they are pursuing. As God's benevolence operates upon a plan, so much more sublime, than humon benevolence ; and as the interest of his universal empire is so much more extensive, than the interest of a family or civil community ; it must be expected that the measures of his administration will, in many respects, be different from those of a parent or civil ruler. “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts, and my ways than your ways.” When by a thunderbolt God strikes to the ground an affectionate father, on whom depended the comfort of a blooming family ; or a promising child, who was the hope and joy of his parents; when he sends wasting sickness into a city, and, in a few days, sweeps off thousands of its inhabitants ; he acts upon a plan far above the o of human virtue or human authority. The man, who should attempt directly to
or a community.
imitate such an exercise of God’s sovereign power, would be deemed a monster of cruelty. Hence it is evident, that no valid argument against the endless punishment of sinners can be deduced from its being, in some respects, unlike any exercise of human goodness or justice. It is no more unlike, than enlightened reason would lead us to expect. Parents and rulers are acting for the interest of a family God is acting for the interest, the eternal interest of the universe. How unreasonable, then, to urge against any part of the divine administration, those maxims which relate to the temporal or local interests of mankind, or those rules which regulate their conduct. The all sufficient atonement of Christ is made an argument in support of universalism. If Christ tasted death for every man, and is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world ; it is argued, that every man, even the whole world will be saved. To invalidate this argument it is sufficient to remark, that the same scriptures, which declare the universal extent and all sufficiency of the atonement, declare with equal plainness, that there are many who believe not, and that all such will certainly perish. Now if the infallible Spirit of inspiration unequivocally affirms, that a compliance with certain conditions is absolutely essential to salvation, that only a part of mankind ever comply with those conditions, and consequently that only a part will be saved ; then, surely, the salvation of all cannot, according to scripture principles, be inferred from the suf
ficiency of the atonement. The Author of the Bible has not taught us to reason thus ; that because Christ died for all, therefore all will certainly be saved. According to the apostle, his dying for aft proves, that all were dead. But it is the familiar representation of scripture, that multitudes, for whom Christ died, will perish. It is important, that Christians reason as the scriptures reason, and that all those conclusions, which contradict the obvi
ous sense of scripture, be re
jected. The mistake of those, who infer universal salvation from the universality of the atonement, evidently arises from a wrong idea of the nature of the atonement. If the atonement were like the discharge of a debt, which takes away from the debtor all obligation to make any further payment, and from the creditor all right to demand it; then salvation must have been as extensive, as the atonement. But if the atonement be considered as a divine expedient, designed to render it consistent with the honour of God to offer salvation to all, and actually to save those who believe ; in other words, an expedient, to magnify and honour the law, which was broken and degraded by man, so that God might consistently exercise mercy, and receive to heaven all who become penitent and holy, making a proffer of the same grace to others; if the atoneament be viewed in such a light, its being designed and accepted, as sufficient for all, does not necessarily imply, that all will in fact be finally benefitted by it. Although there are no limits to its value in the sight of God, or
to its sufficiency for the salvation of sinners; still there may be limits to the extent of its application. This may be illustrated by natural things. Although God has made the sun sufficient to enlighten, direct, and cheer all mankind ; yet this does not imply, that all will actually use and enjoy the light. Notwithstanding the infinite abundance of light, some men may deprive themselves of it by indulging in unseasonable sleep ; others may obstinately shut their eyes and refuse to see ; while others, who behold the light, may abuse it to their own injury. So that from the universality and abundance of that great blessing in the natural world, it cannot be correctly inferred, that it will eventually prove a blessing to all. In like manner, we cannot prove that all will actually eat and drink, because of the abundance of bread and water. Now it does not imply any dishonour to the inexhaustible bounty of divine providence, that all do not partake of it. Nor does it frustrate the purpose of the Redeemer, or show any waste of his all sufficient grace, that some will not receive it. He will forever have the honour of making the bountiful provision, and all his friends will, with purest enjoyment, contemplate and adore the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, which sinners despise. Both in the kingdom of providence and in the kingdom of grace, God has the honour of preparing immense treasures of good, which his creatures ungratefully neglect or abuse, and therefore never enjoy. Another argument, which you will often hear urged by univer