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member the Lord thy God."—They, who enjoy temporal prosperity, are very apt to forget God and to disregard his glory in using the blessings they have received from his hand. But they ought to be sensible of their entire dependance upon God for all their possessions and enjoyments. And they should be careful to use their temporal blessings with a frugal, thankful and obedient spirit.
the question here stated, is the object of this paper. And,
1. We are not to understand from the fact that God, desires the salvation of all men, that he is determined to save them all. Many have supposed, from the desires which God has manifested on this subject, that he has determined to save all; and of consequence all will be saved. But we, in thousands of instances, do not determine to accomplish things, which on some accounts, would be desirable; and in thousands of other
IN WHAT SENSE Does god desire tHE instances, we determine upon
SALVATION OF ALL MEN? things, which on some accounts This question takes it for grant- are undesirable. And for ought ed, that God does desire the salva- that appears, higher orders of tion of all men. A truth so plain beings may often find it necessary as this, and so readily admitted by to do the same. It cannot therealmost every reflecting mind, fore be inferred, from the desires scarcely needs a formal proof.-- of the Supreme Being that all The fact that God is benevolent, mankind should be converted and that he has given his Son to die saved, that he has determined to as a propitiation for the sins of save them all; and especially is the whole world, that he freely of such an inference inadmissible, fers salvation to all upon condition since he has clearly revealed in of their repentance toward God, the scriptures determinations of a and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, different kind. He has there as that he has given his Holy Spirit sured us in the plainest terms, to strive with those who reject, that all mankind are not to be saved. as well as with those who embrace The wicked will, at death, be the gospel, that he has invited, "driven away in their wickedentreated, and besought sinners of ness"-they will come forth, in every description to accept of his the last day "to the resurrection offered mercy and live, is certainly of damnation"--at the final judg enough to convince every candid ment, they will "go away into person, that God desires the sal- everlasting punishment," where vation of all men. But the ques- "the worm dieth not, and the fire tion before us is, "In what sense is not quenched," and where "the does he desire this? To give a smoke of their torment ascendeth plain and satisfactory answer to up, forever and ever"-But if 3
such is to be the end of a certain portion of our race, then God has not determined to save them all; although, as we have seen, the salvation of all must be to him in some sense desirable.
2. When it is said that God desires the salvation of all men, we are not to understand that he desires this, on the whole. Many who. have no faith in the doctrine that God has determined to save all men, still regard him as desiring not only in itself considered, but on the whole that all should be saved. "He desires the salvation of all," it is said, "if they will repent; although for wise reasons, he declines exerting his sovereign power in bringing them to repentance." This is the same as to say, that he desires, on the whole, that all should repent and be saved. To this view of the subject, which is at present a popular and prevalent one, there are to me insuperable objections; some of which I shall proceed to state. And first,
It goes to shew, that the general plan of government, which God is at present pursuing, is not the best which might be pursued. It holds forth another plan, which, to say the least, is equally as good, and with which the Deity could be equally well pleased. This is, that all should come to repentance, and be saved. This, would his rebellious creatures only consent to it, he desires, on the whole; and it is only because they will not consent, that he has recourse
to the plan which is actually going into effect. Obviously, therefore, the view I am opposing, represents the present plan of divine administration, not as the best which could have been devised, or as that which God on the whole preferred; but as a kind of last resort, to which he had recourse, because he could accomplish his object in no other way. However this mode of representing the subject may seem to others; to me, I must acknowledge, it appears absurd, and is painful in the extreme.
In the second place, If God de-. sires, on the whole, that all should repent and be saved,; then it is impossible to assign any satisfactory reason, why he does not exert his power, and bring all to repentance. It will not be pretended, by those who adopt the sentiment I here oppose, that God cannot convert sinners, without destroying their freedom; for they admit that he does convert all who are saved, in perfect consistency with. their freedom. If then he desires, on the whole, that all men should be saved; if he can promote his own brightest glory and the greatest good, in saving all, as well as in any other way, and if he can bring them to repentance, in perfect consistency with their freedom; why, I ask, are any lost? Why does he not accomplish his desires, and glorify himself, in saving all? The everlasting sin and misery of millions of our race, is certainly, in itself, a great evil
-unspeakably great ; and the only consideration, by which the benevolent heart can be reconciled to it, is, that it is an evil without which, the highest glory of God, and the great good, could not be promoted. But by the sentiment now under consideration, this only method of becoming relieved of the difficulty is taken away. The highest glory of God, and the greatest good, can be promoted, it appears, in the salvation of all men, equally as well as they are at present. Why then, I ask again, are not all saved? Why has infinite benevolence adopted a plan, involving the eternal ruin of millions of creatures, if he might have glorified himself, and promoted every desirable purpose of his government, equally as well, in some other way.
Again, The idea that God desires, on the whole, the salvation of all men, is inconsistent with various and numerous representations of scripture. It is inconsistent with those passages which represent him as appointing a certain portion of our race, to be "the vessels of his wrath." "Who stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed." "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness." And the Supreme Being is represented in the scriptures, not only as appointing a
certain portion of men to sin and death; but as blinding their minds, hardening their hearts, and preparing them for their final doom.— "Hath not the potter power over the clay of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor." "Whom he will, he hardeneth.” "The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted and healed.""For this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth." And God is further represented in the scriptures not only as appointing a certain portion of our race to eternal death, and as blinding, hardening, and fitting them for it; but as so ordering events in providence as, in his own time, to cut them off, and complete their ruin. "It was of the Lord, to harden the hearts" of the Canaanites "to come against Israel, that he might destroy them utterly." The sons of Eli," hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would stay them." "And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab, king of Israel, that he may go up, and fall, at Ramoth Gilead." Whatever may be thought of these various passages, they certainly are in the bible; and whatever inter
pretation may be put upon them, they will remain, I think, in glaring inconsistency with the sentiment that God desires, on the whole, the salvation of all men, and that he can glorify himself, and promote the greatest good, as well in saving all, as in any other way. I now observe,
3. When God is represented as desiring the salvation of all men, we are to understand that he desires this, in itself considered.There is scarcely any event which does not present a different aspect to us, when viewed as it is in itself, and when viewed in relation to other things. Thus, many things, which are in themselves desirable to us, when viewed in relation to other things, appear undesirable; and many others, which are in themselves undesirable, when viewed in their connections, appear desirable and important. The amputation of a mortally diseased limb-the taking of a loathed, dreaded medicine-and indeed, the doing of any thing, which causes U pain, whether in body or mind, must be in itself undesirable to us; still, how many such things appear desirable to us on the whole--are wisely determined on by us--and cheerfully accomplished. The distinction here referred to, so very obvious in human affairs, may safely be carried up to the Supreme Being. Most objects must appear to him very differently when viewed by themselves, and when viewed in relation to the infinite whole.
Thus, the afflictions of the present life, when viewed in themselves, are undesirable to the benevolent heart of the Deity. "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Still, he sees it best on the whole that af flictions should be sent, and he determines to send them. So the final ruin of any of his creatures is, in itself considered, unwelcome to the creator. He desires, in this view, that all should be saved. Still he has seen it best, on the whole, that all should not be saved, and has adopted a plan, which in its ultimate developement, must complete the ruin of a portion of our race.
It is highly favorable to the view here given, that it represents the present plan of divine administration as decidedly the best one--as that which God in eternity preferred, and to the accomplishment of which, from the first he has uniformly adhered. He adopted it— not because man fell, and he wished to supply a remedy-nor because, when salvation was offered, all would not accede to the terms-nor because he foresaw, in eternity, that such would be the fact ;--but because he originally and eternally preferred it-because he saw from the beginning that it was decidedly the best.-And the fall of angels and men ; the promulgation of gospel offers, and their final rejection by a portion of our race; and indeed all the sin, and all the misery, which ever was, or will be, in the uni
verse, so far from thwarting or defeating this plan, are themselves a fulfilment of its essential parts. On this infinite and glorious plan of government, in which all things are tending in the happiest manner towards the greatest general good, the heart of Deity has been uniformly set; and in accomplishing it, he is moulding the hearts, and directing all the changes and concerns of creatures, according to his pleasure. In perfect consistency with their freedom, and with all due regard to considerations of character and of justice, he is forming his vessels of mercy, and his vessels of wrath--he is melting and hardening, saving and destroying, as seemeth good in his sight. He is working all things, according to the counsel of his own will."
And while the view we have given, thus leaves the great plan of Deity unchanged and glorious, it also leaves him at liberty to indulge and to express all the feelings of his benevolence, in respect to existing characters and events. He may feel the yearnings of a father towards his incorrigible and ruined enemies. He may say in respect to them, "How shall I give you up He may affirm in the most solemn manner that he has no pleasure in their death.-He may invite and entreat them to turn and live. He may desire, in itself considered, and desire earnestly, that all should be saved. It is thus, that the view here given harmonizes all the various rep
resentations of scripture on the subject; and consequently it is entitled to be received as a part of that truth which has been revealed to us from heaven.
To the sentiment advanced in this paper, I know of but one objection which needs at present to be answered. It has been said, "If God desires the salvation of all, in itself considered merely, and not on the whole; then there can be no sincerity in the universal invitations of the gospel.
In answer to this objection it may be sufficient to say, that the universal invitations of the gospel were designed to express the good will which God bears to all men, and the desire which he feels for their salvation in itself considered. If it is a fact, that he feels a very strong and ardent desire for the salvation of all men in itself considered, at the same time, that he, from a regard to the greater good which will accrue to the universe from the punishment of some, determines that all shall not be saved, it is highly proper and important that he should express it. It is as important that this feeling of his should be expressed, as it is that his true character should be known; for, this concealed, his true character could not be known. But there is no conceivable way in which God's benevolence to all men, his desire that they may be saved, and his unwillingness that any should perish, could be expressed, when some are actually lost, but by his providing a Savior