« السابقةمتابعة »
it appears that "God, who worketh all things af ter the council of his own will," had determined otherwise: he passed along from one end of the continent to the other, proclaiming the glad tid: ings of everlasting life, the same that the angels had proclaimed should be "good tidings of great joy to all people." I will stop to ask a simple question. Suppose he had joined with all other preachers, and proclaimed hell and eternal damnation to most people, would this have been good tidings of great joy to all people? It-is surprising that people cannot, or will not, see the difference between preaching the gospel of Christ, and that of Antichrist.* And as says the proclaimer of good tidings, "When I first came to America there was not a single preacher, hardly a hearer, who had any idea of the true Christ, as the Saviour of the world." Then he tells how the doctrine had increased in his day; and says, "Yes, yes, the knowledge of the salvation of God will grow exceedingly"—a true prediction; it has grown exceedingly: and considering its increase, as we have seen in a little over half a century, and from so small a beginning, and against the combination of nearly all the clergy and the denominations of professed Christians to oppose it, what may we expect, from its present increase, will be its progress 50 years hence? I think it very probable that be
*It was some years before, or in the years 1741 and 42, that Whitfield passed through the country, with little or no opposition, because he was orthodox, preaching salvation to a small number, the elect, and eternal damnation to all others. And this is "good tidings of great joy to all people." Astonishing infatuation! Whitfield made a great stir among the dry bones, with much sorrow and crying; but all soon passed away but truth liveth and abideth forever.
fore the expiration of the time heretofore mentioned, (p. 97,) all those doctrines which falsely represent and debase the divine character, degrade the human mind, and which are a disgrace to human nature, will nearly all pass away. No doubt the knowledge of the Lord, (to know the Lord, is to know his true character,) will grow exceedingly, and it will be universally decided that all men belong to God, and that he is the loving and kind Father of the whole human family, "who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." And as this blessed doctrine increases, mankind will become united as children of one Father, and of one great family, "when nation shall not lift up sword against nation." And knowing that they are all brethren, "they shall learn war no more, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Amen
So be it.
Of those passages of Scripture on which the most stress has been laid in support of the doctrine of endless misery. And the principal objections to the final happiness of all men considered.
Ir is very seldom that objections to this doctrine are drawn from reason. Indeed, I know of no objections thereto from natural reason, which seems to be rather for it than against it. If it gives no positive proof of the universal restoration, it does not offer any objections against it, nor against the possibility of it. Is it contrary to our best reason to say, that God, whose character is love, may not make the whole human race finally happy? None will pretend to affirm any such thing. And reason would rather approve of a revelation that he would certainly make them happy, than otherwise. It is on this very account, by understanding the scriptures that he will make many eternally miserable, that has run many men of strong reasoning powers into deism, rather than believe what they conceived to be so derogatory to the character of an all-powerful and good Being, and so contrary to their reason.
The only difficulties or objections to the final happiness of all men, are drawn from a few passages of scripture. Those passages on which the greatest stress has been laid, shall now be considered. Although the doctrine of endless misery has been, I think, clearly and sufficiently
refuted in the preceding pages, yet it may be satisfactory to some readers, (and even to some who cannot believe in endless misery,) to see how those passages of scripture righly explained, that speak of everlasting punishment, particularly that of Matthew xxv. 41. "Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." And Mark ix. 44. "Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And Matthew xxv. 46. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment."
If I can give satisfaction respecting these passages of scripture, little need be said about any others apparently of the same import.
For I presume it will be readily granted, that if these plain declarations of Christ do not mean that the wicked will be punished forever, then there are no other passages any where in the scriptures that should be so understood, as there are no others that speak so plain and positive of future punishment, and are so often quoted by limitarians to prove it. These texts are the foundation on which they build their cruel doctrine of an endless hell, and everlasting torture and torment. But with the help of the Bible of the Old and New Testaments, (and I want no better help,) I think I shall be able to prove that these texts will support no such building.
I have heretofore observed, that most of those texts which limitarians quote to support their doctrine of eternal misery, have no allusion to any sufferings beyond this life; and if so understood, they are in direct contradiction to numerous other passages of scripture, and in particular to the promises made to Adam, and renewed to