« AnteriorContinuar »
parents, or on any other transgressor, in one day, or ever can be. There would then be the same objection against man's dying an eternal death, or against the threatening of the law being completely executed in any period of eternity, as there is in its not being fully accomplished in the very day of transgression.* The threatening would admit of a substitute in perfect consistency with divine veracity. "When sentence is passed against a criminal that he must surely die, yet, if there can be a way found out that will equally secure the dignity of the commonwealth without his death, all will justify the legislator in pardoning the offender; yet it was proper to say, that in the day of his trial, according lo the sanctions of the law, or verdict of the court, he was a dead man. It was the design of God, in threatening our first parents, to secure the honour and dignity of his character and government; and if this can be done as well or better by accepting a substitute, who dare call his truth or veracity in question? We are informed by the sacred pages that this is the case^-that, through the Mediator, God can now be just to himself and the universe, and yet justify him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. iii., 26. But such as continue in unbelief and do not embrace the Mediator, remain in a state of condemnation, and must feel the wages of sin, that is, eternal death.
In page 6th you observe, "In order for you to be duly prepared to make these assertions" (viz., how God feels towards sin), "you ought at least to possess a complete knowledge of the whole nature of sin, cause
* "The threatening expresses two things, viz., the certainty of the punishment, as infallibly connected with transgression; and that the penalty should follow on one or the first act of rebellion. We find much the same language to express one or both these; and not that the threatening should be immediately 'fully' executed on the day the crime was committed. Ezek. xxxiii., 12, 13. See also 1 Kings ii., 37. 'For it shall be that on the day that thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shall know for certain that thou shalt surely die.' This does not mean that he should die on the same day in which he should pass over Kidron; but that he should certainly be put to death for the offence without a further trial." —Dr. Hopkins's System, vol. i., p. 307. Those who wish to see the subject largely and clearly illustrated, are desired to consult the Dr. on the point.
and consequences, and all the feelings of God towards it, and also the fulness of his wisdom and knowledge, or you could not with any propriety have limited the Holy One of Israel to that single point." Sir, can we never know that God hates sin, without comprehending all sin, in its nature and consequences, and the fulness and wisdom of Deity? If a man must have so much knowledge to know whether God hates sin, I would ask, in my turn, how much must one have to deny it? It seems that by some means you have obtained so much information as to know that God has not an infinite dissatisfaction or hatred towards sin. I would reply, that God must have an infinite hatred towards it, or a finite hatred, or no hatred at all. If God has only a finite hatred towards sin, then he is a finite being:—then why are you puzzled to know how I came to judge of the feelings of the Holy One of Israel? Cannot one finite being judge of the feelings of another finite being? If God has no hatred towards sin, why that compassionate exclamation, page 10, "O, may God forgive you this folly, and lay not this sin to your charge?"
You admire at my retentive memory in attempting to tell what Satan meant to preach almost six thousand years ago. "Either I must exist in some sort of animal in the days of Adam, and been conversant with the serpent, or do it by transmigration or conjuration." Sir, did you find out what the serpent did not preach in this way' Is there no other way to obtain ideas? How shall we understand your epistle ?—we were not with you when you wrote it. Must we understand it by transmigration and conjuration? Was it from these sources that it derived so many new and valuable ideas?
You ask, page 8, "Did you, sir, ever meet with the idea in any of the universalian authors, that the wages of sin is eternal life?" Yes, sir, I think I have, in the first universalian author or preacher. His words are, "Ye shall not surely die. In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Now what can be more express ?—they should have their eyes open, and know good and evil: this surely supposes life; dead people do not have their eyes open, &c.
But you1 will have it that I mean you, and mean to stigmatize you and others. But, sir,—don't be offended —how came you to discern that you was intended ?— was it done by transmigration or conjuration?
"To transmigrate cannot be right,
Since 'tis so great an evil;
In seeing you insist so much that I mean you, and not the old preacher, brought to my mind the following anecdote: As a man was writing to his friend, a bystander looked over his shoulder all the time, which led him to conclude in the following manner—" Sir, I should
have sent you a much longer epistle, but has been
all the time looking over my shoulder." The by-stander exclaimed, ""Pis false! I have not looked over you, nor do I know a single word you have wrote!"
You proceed to ask me questions, to which you doubtless expect answers. "Do you expect to be looked upon as an honest man, and to be treated as a gentleman, while you studiously represent the devil as a universal preacher?" Ans. If I never meet with respect, and be looked upon as an honest man, and have genteel treatment, till I desist from esteeming and representing the devil a universal preacher, I am confident I shall never receive such treatment. I hope never to court genteel treatment at the expense of Divine truth. Should any "persons of discernment" view themselves implicated by the sentiment, and have their genteel feelings wounded, who is to blame?
You ask again, "Will your low cunning support you long in the estimation of enlightened people?" Ans. When I receive your definition of high cunning and low cunning, and who you mean by enlightened people, I shall be able to reply.
My querist proceeds, "Have you not already practised this mischief of misrepresentation to your damage in your own parish?" Ans. When the old preacher complains regularly of misrepresentation, and proves the charge, I stand ready, according to former promise, to retract, and give the devil his due.
Further, you ask, "How far abroad do you wish to have yourself known to be a person who can so easily descend to unjust measures to carry a bad design into effect?" By unjust measures, and bad design, I conclude you mean my opposition to the universal preacher. Ans. So far as the old gentleman's ability and influence extend.
Sir, you seem to be full of questions. You ask again, "Will you represent all those who enter your parish to preach Christ, and him crucified, to be the servants of the devil?" Ans. No, sir, none but those who are sent by him, and preach like him, " Ye shall not surely die."
Again, "You will not contend that universalism ought to be rejected merely because it is an ancient doctrine?" Ans. No, sir, but because it is a devilish doctrine.
Since it seems so fashionable to ask questions, if it would comport with modesty, I would ask a few. How came you to suggest, page 8, that I dare not contend with you on fair ground? Is that the first representation of this kind you have made? If such boasting is natural to you, why do you try to exculpate yourself from any thing of this sort in page 4? Sir, you well remember, that when we delivered our sermons, I opened the door for a public discussion: I told you and the congregation my objections against your discourse; I believe the greater part of the people present were of your sentiment, but you wholly neglected to dispute with me. Was not this an offer to meet you on fair and open ground?
Some months after you wrote me a challenge—to appoint a day for a public combat, to choose a committee, or seconds, to see if we fought fairly ;—I then told you that I viewed it inconsistent with Christian modesty and decency for you to make the challenge, and for me to comply. I am still of the same opinion. Had I complied with your request, and called the people together to hear us debate, I had reason to believe that you would not have engaged in the controversy, as you had utterly refused on a much more favourable opportunity. With what face then can you repeatedly observe, that I "dare not contend with you on fair and open ground?" When you are disposed to repeat the assertion among strangers, please to show them my written reply to your challenge, and they will find out the truth.
Another question I wish to ask you is, How came
?)U to know so much about the people of my parish 1 ou are often mentioning them. You have preached among them a few times—but you are sensible you never saw many of them on such occasions, and it is very possible you never will. If you had left conjuration out of your epistle, I should have many doubts whether you knew much about them.
In page 9th you have the following threats: "Go on, then, and meet the certain consequences; and, should you persist in your present line of conduct a little longer, I don't think you will believe the consequences of sin to be altogether in another world." Sir, where is your benevolence? have you forgot your lovely sermon, that had nothing "corrosive?" Will you torment your fellow-creatures before the time, and fill the mind with forebodings of some dreadful event, nor even suggest what it is? Whether it is to consist in assassination, confiscation, transmigration, or conjuration?
You tell us that universal salvation was preached by God "when he promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. He preached it by the bow in the cloud to Noah. He preached it by promise to Abraham, saying, In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed. He preached it to Isaac, and Jacob," &c. Here I must say, almost in the language of a late writer,* "You are possessed of the
* Mr. Ballou's Epistle, pages 7, 8.