Imatges de pÓgina
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My first statement I find you disapprove, and likewise the use of the texts, I adduced to substantiate it. The idea that it is "the design of God to raise the whole human family from their defectible state, ultimately, to a state of felicity and true holiness," you think is not true. Then if God have any design at all, in relation to our argument, his design must be that the whole human family should not be raised to felicity and true holiness! Having no design that they should be the partakers of felicity and true holiness, it argues that he designs some at least should be made the subjects of endless misery. If such design may be called good, you will, in this way, understand the Psalmist when he says, "The Lord is good to all, and his 'tender mercies are over all his works."* But as the term good, by the most approved lexicographers, is explained as having desirable qualities, I conclude no man has a right to pronounce that good, which, on rational principles, he is unwilling to enjoy himself, and which would not be salutary to any living being. Neither is it easy to reconcile the design of endless misery with the exercise of tender mercies over all the Creator's works.

It will be a vain thing in this place to argue that men are moral agents, and that the offer of salvation is free to all, which they may accept if they will; that the atonement has laid a foundation for all, when the design of Deity is against a part of the whole. For you acknowledge in your letter, "that the scriptures clearly prove, that all God's designs will certainly be accomplished."

Relative to the design of God, one of three things, I think must be true; 1st. That it is his design to make all men holy, in a saved state. 2d. It is his design to save a part, and eternally damn the remainder. Or, 3d, He has no design about it. The first of these you disapprove. The second precludes even the possibility of all being saved. It is, therefore, only on the last, that you can argue that salvation is free for all, who will accept. If you say God designs to save all that choose to come and no others, this cannot be considered as a statement by itself; for it makes the design of God, as relating to the salvation of an individual, posterior to his coming; of course there could be no *Ps. cxlv. 9.

DEAR SIR,

LETTER IIL

TO REV. JOSEPH LABEREE.

Gilsum, November 23, 1815.

I received your letter, being a reply to one I sent you, some of the last days of October, and embrace the first opportunity that leisure offers to grant you a return. I was sorry to find that my letter had made me the subject of "much surprise;" and my sorrow arose, not from a consciousness of misconstruing the sacred word, but from a sympathy that ever causes to feel for the distresses of others. Viewing me with the word of God in my hands, a professed preacher of that word, and resting my eternal all upon a manifest misconstruction of it, it is no wonder, that you should be filled with surprise. Surprise, in this case, would be but a natural incentive of divine charity, arising from a great concern for the welfare of your friend. But should my eternal all, rested on a manifest misconstruction of scripture for a foundation, land me in the regions of irretrievable misery and woe, you enjoying tranquil peace in celestial abodes, and clothed with divine sensibility; would it not be a matter of greater surprise that you could be calm and tranquil, in viewing such misery, than that I should be so stupid as you now view me to be? If you feel concerned for your friend now, because you consider his future felicity precarious, how do you expect to be at rest, when your awful forebodings are really visited upon him? But it is my wish to correct your mistake, and to show you that I do not rest my eternal all upon a misconstruction of scripture; neither upon a proper construction of scripture; nor upon any other work that I can do; but on the Rock of everlasting ages, the chief corner Stone that is laid in Zion.

With a view to this I proceed to notice your remarks upon my statements.

My first statement I find you disapprove, and likewise the use of the texts, I adduced to substantiate it. The idea that it is "the design of God to raise the whole human family from their defectible state, ultimately, to a state of felicity and true holiness," you think is not true. Then if God have any design at all, in relation to our argument, his design must be that the whole human family should not be raised to felicity and true holiness! Having no design that they should be the partakers of felicity and true holiness, it argues that he designs some at least should be made the subjects of endless misery. If such design may be called good, you will, in this way, understand the Psalmist when he says, "The Lord is good to all, and his 'tender mercies are over all his works.". * But as the term good, by the most approved lexicographers, is explained as having desirable qualities, I conclude no man has a right to pronounce that good, which, on rational principles, he is unwilling to enjoy himself, and which would not be salutary to any living being. Neither is it easy to reconcile the design of endless misery with the exercise of tender mercies over all the Creator's works.

It will be a vain thing in this place to argue that men are moral agents, and that the offer of salvation is free to all, which they may accept if they will; that the atonement has laid a foundation for all, when the design of Deity is against a part of the whole. For you acknowledge in your letter, "that the scriptures clearly prove, that all God's designs will certainly be accomplished."

Relative to the design of God, one of three things, I think must be true; 1st. That it is his design to make all men holy, in a saved state. 2d. It is his design to save a part, and eternally damn the remainder. Or, 3d, He has no design about it. The first of these you disapprove. The second precludes even the possibility of all being saved. It is, therefore, only on the last, that you can argue that salvation is free for all, who will accept. If you say God designs to save all that choose to come and no others, this cannot be considered as a statement by itself; for it makes the design of God, as relating to the salvation of an indi vidual, posterior to his coming; of course there could be no *Ps. cxlv. 9.

previous design, relative to that person. This makes the last mentioned idea evidently appear to be included in the third thing proposed, that God has no design either for or against the salvatiou of men. This idea, however, indicates apathy in Deity, if it be not an approximation to Atheism.

You inform me that you acknowledge the doctrine inculcated in the first text I quoted to prove my first statement; but still it remains, that you and I disagree about what that doctrine is. The text, "For God sent not his Son into the world, to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved," I thought was sufficient evidence, that it was God's design to save the world; but you say, "The object of Christ's mission, when he came upon the earth in the flesh, was to make an atonement for the sins of lost men." Now as you deny the design of God to save all lost men, it ought to be fairly understood, what may be the meaning of making "an atonement for the sins of lost men;" or, "for the sins of the whole world," as you express in another place of your letter. If the design of \ God by the atonement, was not to take away the sins of all lost men, it is difficult to determine for what purpose the atonement was made for all; unless to consecrate their sins, that they might never depart, unto lost men for evermore!

You conclude I have done violence to the aforementioned text in St. John; and from a want of due attention to the context. Sir, if this business have been too much neglected, we will attend to it now. You have not said a word of my argument from the text; but a considerable portion of your letter is occupied in pointing out the absurdity of not considering the connexion in which texts stand; "and building a scheme solely on a very few such passages, in manifest violation of all the plain meaning of all the rest of scripture." This amounts to an acknowledgement that what I have said of the text, in a detached sense, is correct; but that the text detached does not express the same meaning that it does in connexion with the context, by which it is explained, and to which I ought to have attended. All, therefore, that is necessary to maintain my ground, is to show that the text means the same in connex

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ion with the context as it does by itself.

I should have been happy, if you had quoted some text in the context to correct me; but seeing you have not, I will endeavour to clear myself of the charge of inattention to the context. The verse immediately preceding is, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here we are told that God loved the world; and can any person suppose this is inconsistent with a design to save the world? We are told that he so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son;-what a remarkable testimony! But for what? That whosoever believeth in him, might not perish. Can you see any thing here, inconsistent with God's design to save the world, according to his love? To be sure you may infer that it is not the design of God that men should have eternal life in unbelief. But this effects nothing to your purpose, unless you can make it appear God designs some should be unbelievers eternally. Immediately after this, follows the text I chose to support my first statement. It is completely explanatory of God's design, in sending his only begotten Son into the world; containing meaning complete in itself, and serving rather to explain the preceding text, than the preceding text does that. This is plain by its being introduced by the causal conjunction for. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him, might be saved."

At the close of your labour, relative to my first statement, you say you do not see, as I have advanced a single inch toward proving my first proposition. You, therefore, conclude the above text in connexion with the context, does not authorize a belief, that it is the design of God to raise one soul from defectibility to felicity and true holiness. For it is evident, that if the text goes to prove God's design to save a part, or even one soul, although it be not full proof of my statement, it goes in proportion to the number towards it. But you do not see as it gocs one inch; of course, you cannot see a design of God in the text to save If the text read, For God sent not his Son into the world to save the world; but that the world through him might ke condemned, it seems that with your present optics, in

one!

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