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When a doctrine is clearly proved from Scripture, all difficulties should give way to-Thus saith the Lord; for it is easy to ask questions upon a known truth which no man can fully answer. But such a mode of disputing is like casting dust into a person's eyes it is to perplex rather than to elucidate a subject: it is inconsistent with that reverence which is due to the Divine authority, and can only serve a bad cause.
On the Immutability of God's Counsels.
MR. WINCHESTER, after citing Eph. i. 8—11. Î Tim. ii. 3, 4. remarks, "if God will have all men to be "saved, or restored, and to come to the knowledge of "the truth—if it is his good pleasure, which he hath pro"posed in himself, in the dispensation of the fulness of "times, to rehead all things in Christ, both in heaven "and on earth-and if he worketh all things after the "counsel of his own will; then is not the doctrine of the "restoration true?"'*
It is allowed that the good pleasure of God, to gather together, or rehead all things in Christ, was not defeated for we read in ver. 22, that God hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church. The gathering together, or reheading all things in Christ, therefore, cannot mean the restoring all things in Christ, because the former hath taken place, but this hath not. The apostle was writing to
"out greater detriment to the whole." King's Origin of Evil, p. 471. Law's Note.
* Dialogues, p. 101.
the saints at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, and he informs them of a mystery of the Divine will, which was, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times," or under the Gospel dispensation, (see Gal. iv. 4.) to raise Jesus Christ to the head of His moral government, and invest Him with full authority over all things in heaven and on earth. In ver. 22. the apostle informs them that that happy event had then taken place, and that the Redeemer's authority was exercised for the good of the church. This would be full of consolation to the faithful saints; but what has it to do with the restoration of wicked men and devils? Suppose his majesty were to resign the government of these kingdoms into the hands of his son, with a charge to exercise his authority for the benefit of his faithful subjects; should we not think the man deranged in his intellects who should conclude from it, that every prisoner would be set at liberty, and that there would be no more disorder in society?
The will of God, as expressed in 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4. may be frustrated. The Universalists believe that repentance, faith, and obedience are necessary in order to salvation and they know very well that the will of God respecting our repentance, faith, and obedience, is daily frustrated in innumerable instances. The apostle wrote under the influence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore expressed the will of God, when he said, "I will that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. But do men pray every where? Do they every where lift up holy hands? Must we search every where in vain for a wrathful person or a sceptic? Now what an absurdity is it to pretend that the end is certain and necessary, when experience proves that the means in order to it are contingent? The Predestinarians are consistent upon this subject: they hold that those who are predestinated to eternal life, are necessitated to perform the conditions upon which it is suspended. And indeed the connexion between the end and the means is so
close, that even a child must perceive the one cannot be absolutely determined while the other is involved in uncertainty.
A great deal of confusion has arisen upon this subject from not considering in what cases the will of God may be opposed with success, and in what cases it cannot. The will of God, so far as it is made known to us, is irresistible in every thing, except where the co-operation of the human will is necessary to bring about His purpoGod cannot make man virtuous and happy without the concurrence of his will, and no violence must be done to it, for there can be no moral virtue without moral liberty. Man may, therefore, by continued resistance defeat the will of God concerning his salvation. The word of God is very express upon this subject. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Matt. xiii. 37. Here the will of man and the will of God are represented as opposed to each other, and the will of man as prevailing. Mr. Vidler on 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4, says "It would be, per
haps, a sufficient answer in the opinion of most persons "only to ask, Is the apostle speaking here of a command,
or of a purpose of the Divine mind?""* I beg leave to ask, Whether it be not the purpose of the Divine mind that the commandments should be kept? if it be, is not the Divine purpose frustrated when they are broken?
I wish to inquire farther, Whether it be the purpose of
God to save any who do not obey His commands? if not, since Mr. V. grants that His will respecting our obedience may be resisted, I shall be glad to know how it can be proved that His will respecting our salvation is irresistible?
To show that the Divine purpose cannot be frustrated,
*God's Love to his Creatures, p. 24.
Mr. V. refers to Isa. xliii. 13. xlvi. 11. Dan. iv. 35. Ephes. i. 11. I have granted that the will of God is irresistible in every thing except in the virtue and happiness of His creatures. The above texts do not militate against this exception, and therefore do not require any further
On the Extent and Efficacy of the Death of Christ.
HRIST died for all men. I infer from this proposition that the salvation of all men is possible: my opponents infer from it that the salvation of all men is certain. My inference supposes salvation to be conditional: theirs supposes it to be unconditional. Does it require a scribe
well instructed in the law to determine this matter? and yet it has been confidently asserted, that a consistent Arminian must be a Universalist.
Mr. Weaver writes in the following curious manner on 1 Tim. iv. 10. 66 By saying the Saviour of all men, he "includes the whole, both saints and sinners; and then adding, especially of them that believe, he distinguishes "the righteous from the wicked, by which distinction it is
plain he meant to include both. But if Jesus Christ be "the Saviour of all men, and yet is not the Saviour of "all men, nor ever will be, is not this a contradiction in
terms ?"* I believe with Mr. W. that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men." But the question is, In what sense must we understand this phrase? The additional words, especially of them that believe, show that He is the Saviour of believers and of unbelievers in two very
* Free Thoughts on the Universal Restoration, p. 39.
different senses, which would not be true on the supposition that all are made finally holy and happy. The obvious meaning of the passage is, He is the Saviour of all men conditionally, and of believers fully and eternally. But what has this to do with their doctrine of the final restoration of all, especially considering the distinction which they have lately made between restoration and salvation?
"It appears from 1 John iii. 8," says Mr. Weaver, "that if the works of the devil are not destroyed, the purpose of God's Son is not accomplished. And how "the works of the devil can be destroyed, if nine-tenths "of mankind be left to blaspheme for ever, I know not."* Guy Fawkes had prepared works for the ruin of the nation; were not his works destroyed without his being made prime minister? Before it can be concluded from this text, that punishment must come to an end, it must be shown that it is the work of the devil, rather than of Jesus Christ, to punish sinners for their sins.
Mr. Weaver tacks together John i. 29.-xii. 47. and informs us, that the world, whose sins the Lamb of God taketh away, is" that world who hear his words and be"lieve not. But how this world is to be saved," says he, "if their punishment is to be without end, I must confess "I know not." Nor I neither. Nor yet do I know of any text of Scripture which says that the infidel world is to be saved. I am sure neither of the passages to which Mr. W. refers say any such thing; and I know who : hath said, He that believeth not on the Son, shall not
Mark ii. 10. is next brought forward by this gentleman. "If the birth of Christ," he observes, ". was to be in "fact good tidings of great joy, and that to all people, "then people must be benefited by it, but if endless "misery be true, &c." The quality of tidings then, it
+ Ibid. p. 91.
+ Ib. 91.
*Free Thoughts. p. 91.