« السابقةمتابعة »
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.
It 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 quenchAnd 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
Abraham, &c. And let any text mean what it may, it cannot mean that God will not fulfil his promises, as the apostle says, in allusion to these promises, "it is impossible for God to lie." The consequences of understanding any passage of scripture contrary to the first and gracious promises, and many other passages of scripture to the same import, have already been considered, (pp. 127-132, &c.)
I will now notice the discourse of our Saviour to his apostles, in the 24th and 25th chapters of Matthew, which is one continued discourse, in which we have those words, before quoted, on which such great stress has been laid in support of the cruel, unmerciful doctrine of everlasting punishment. I shall endeavour to be as plain as possible, that any reader may see that these words have no allusion to sufferings after this life. This whole discourse, delivered by Christ, is in answer to the question his disciples asked him in the 3d verse of the 24th chapter. But before we quote this question, we will make a few observations and quotations introductory to the question and answer.
It will not be disputed but that numerous pas sages of scripture, as in the 28th chapter of Den teronomy, and in the prophets and New Testa= ment, are predictions of the terrible calamities that came upon the Jewish nation, in the total destruction of their city and temple, and in their dispersion among the nations of the earth, whichi has continued to this day.
The Monday preceding the crucifixion of Christ, he beheld the city and wept over it, saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in