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Though it seems hardly necessa- punishment of the wicked will ry to enlarge on this point, yet have the same effect. Thus but it may not be tedious or useless little attention is necessary to to attend to the following speci- show, that the principal scripmen. The Judge of angels and tures, which universalists press men has expressly foretold not into their service, furnish no valonly the general transactions of id argument in support of their the last day, but the very words, scheme. which he himself will speak to By thus exposing some of the the wicked ; “depart from me, arts of universalists, and showye cursed, into everlasting fire, ing, in a few leading points, that prepared for the devil and his their sentiments are contrary to angels ;” and has declared what inspired truth, it has been my will actually follow their awful aim, Christian churches, to guard doom ; "they shall go away into you from danger. The imposeverlasting punishment." Here ing scheme of universalisin is Christ is professedly treating the interwoven with degrading appoint in question ; here, conse- prehensions of Jehovah's charquently, we expect the most acter and government; while it clear and certain information. sets up a god, other than the But it is not from this passage, true God, and which wicked men that universalists make conclu would love. Can you approve sions favourable to their system. and countenance such a scheme? This is not one of their texts. Has not its influence always been They resort to those, which pernicious to Christian piety and speak of the benevolence of God, morality? Is not a time of genthe all sufficient atonement of eral impiety and wickedness the Christ, the universality of the time of its easy triumph ? From gospel offer, the gracious design its prominent features, from the of the affictions of the saints, &c. arguments urged in its defence, But what if God is infinitely be- and from the effects which would nevolent? Who will dare to say, naturally flow from its universal that the infinitely benevolent God prevalence, do you not perceive, does not see the endiess punish- that it is the offspring of error, ment of the impenitent necessa- an enemy to the true interests of ry to the best interest of the Zion, and poison to the soul? universe, which is the object of Will any of you embrace a sentihis benevolence? What if the ment which freely coalesces with atonement of Christ is all suffi- all the depraved passions, and cient? Who can infer from its which finds a welcome reception ailsufficiency, that it will cer- and quiet residence in the heart tainly be received by all ? What of impenitence? Will you counif the gospel offer is unlimited ? tenance a doctrine, which die Unlimited offers may be reject- minishes or takes away all the ed, and the blessings involved restraints of divine law, and in them lost. What if the pres- opens the floodgates of irreligion ent afflictions of the saints are and vice ? Let all men vigiintended, and actually operate, as lantly and resolutely shun this salutary discipline? It does not doctrine, which keeps sinners hence follow, that the future from repentance by promising
them life. And as their greatest calming the passions, moderatsafeguard, let them search and ing the desires, disposing to a reverence that sacred book, which cheerful acquiescence in the al. brings immortality to light; lotments of Providence, promotwhich presents eternal blessed- ing justice and friendly interness, as the encouragement and course among mankind, and difreward of the holy, and unveils fusing a spirit of universal benerto our view that eternal destruc- olence towards our fellow creation, which is the certain portion tures, tends greatly to promote of the wicked.
present happiness. Let any perPASTOR son, who has paid but a moder
ate attention to what passes with
in his own mind, reflect on the THOUGHTS Ox 1 Cor. xv. 19.
period when he was either fret
ted with envy, burning with If in this life only we have hope in
malice or revenge, inflated with Christ, eze are of all men the most ambition, distracted with worldmiserable.”
ly schemes, or chagrined with The proposition contained in disappointments, and venting his these words appears, at first spleen, if not directly against view, to be plain and simple; God, yet against every person but to ascertain its particular and thing around him, and conmeaning, and application to the trast it with the time when his apostle's argument, has been at passions were calm, and he felt tended with some difficulty. We that resignation to the divine are surely not to consider the will, that contentment with the apostle as asserting that Chris- allotments of providence, and tian rewards are so coinpletely that spirit of benevolence to all confined to a future life, that his fellow creatures, which genthose, who are his faithful follow- uine religion inspires ; and he ers, are really in a worse situa- will find no difficulty in detertion, and enjoy less happiness in mining at which period he was this life, than th: rest of man- the most happy. Beside, alkind. This opinion of religion though the outward situation of is frequently entertained by those Christians is sometimes more who are strangers to its power, inelligible than that of other and consequently to its conforts. men, that is by no means the case Religion appears frightful to their universally. We find many perimaginations, a composition of sons of that description, who, gloom and melancholy. But is though they may not be figuring this either the language or feel- on the theatre of the great world, ing of any one, who has tasted are yet in that situation which and seen that the Lord is gra- Agur prayed for, as the most elicious ? Surely not. Nor can we gible of all, i. e. with neither believe that the apostle ever poverty nor riches, but with a meant to inculcate such a senti- competent share of domestic ment. Setting aside future pros- comforts, and exempt from the pects, which, according to the calamities usually attendant on supposition in the text, are cut wicked courses. Exclusive of off, the influence of religion in the superior joys which the Christian sometimes has in the their Master. But we do not contemplation of the perfections find that the apostle ever considof God, not only these, but many ers either his own situation or other considerations might be that of others to be on this acmentioned to show that godliness count worse on the whole, than hath the promise of the life that that of other men. They had now is, as well as of that which is the peace of God, which passeth to come. While on the oth- all understanding, as well as joy er hand, the vanity which provi- unspeakable and full of glory. dence has stamped on all worldly As divine consolations are usualenjoyments; the lashes of an ly apportioned to the day and accusing conscience, sufferings the occasion, it is pot to be doubtfrom the prevalence of malignanted but they usually possessed enpassions, connected with the mis- joyments, which rendered their ery and distress, and even con- present situation more comfortatempt from the world itself, ble than that of their persecu: which is frequently the conse- tors, or than that of any one, who quence of vice ; painful fears is a stranger to the peace and lest those principles of religion pleasantness of wisdom's ways. should eventually prove true, It is, therefore, still necessary which none has ever been able to search for a different meaning to demonstrate to be false ; all of the passage ; and by comparthese things combine to show, ing it with the preceding verses, that the way of transgressors is avd with the scope of the aposhard, even should there be no tle's argument, which was to hereafter. We cannot there prove the doctrine of the resurfore suppose that the apostle as- rection, the words are not only serts religion to be disadvanta- easily understcod, but the argugeous on the whole, even in this ment is also forcible and conlife. Nor will it come up to the clusive in favour of the apostle's full extent of the meaning of the doctrine. By attending particupassage, to limit it to the apos- larly to the chapter we observe, tles and primitive Christians, as that the great argument by which if it asserted that they, who were the apostle proves the resurrecso severely harassed and perse- tion of the dead, is the resurreccuted were, as it respected their tion of Christ. This fundamentsituation and enjoyments in this al article of the Christian faith world, more miserable than other he had before informed us was men. It must be allowed that if attested by a large number of we confine our views to temporal unexceptionable witnesses, to things alone, we shall find that whom he had appeared, at differChrist's apostles and the primi- ent times, after his resurrection. tive preachers of the gospel But if the dead rise not, then all were exposed to many and grieve this story about the resurrection ous sufierings. They were lia- of Christ, wbich is pretended to ble to be killed all the day long, be proved by so many witnesses, and were ever accounted as sheep is a mere fabrication, and he is for the slaughter; and many of not risen. But is Christ be not them actually lost their lives for risen, then is our preaching vain, their adherence to the cause of and your faith is also vain, Yea, and we are found false witnesses ous, or dangerous undertaking, of God, because we have testifi- much less persist in it until ed of God, that he raised up death, without some adequate Christ, whom he raised not, if motive, such as wealth, honour so be that the dead rise not. or fame here, or the prospect of For if the dead rise not, then is future and eternal rewards in a Christ not raised. And if Christ better world. But as the aposbe not raised your faith is vain, tles had no encouragement to exye are yet in your sins. Then pecţ temporal rewards, so, if they also which are fallen asleep what they published concerning in Christ have perished. If then Christ was a fable, they could these things are so, if that gospel neither derive any present, interwhich we have been preaching nal peace of mind from their to you is a fable, and that future proceedings, to console them in state, which we have been lead their sufferings, nor hope for ing yoų to expect, nothing better any future reward. Unless, than a dream, and we are in real- therefore, we suppose the apos. ity nothing but false witnesses, tles voluntarily to embrace pres, then it follows that, as we can ent pain without any motive, or promise ourselves no temporal any other prospect than eternal rewards for our deception, but misery ; if they believed a future pn the other hand, are every day state at all, the testimony they exposed to the most cruel suffer- gave could not be considered as a ings, and as these sufferings can cunningly devised fable. be alleviated by no inward peace The apostles undoubtedly of mind, or consciousness, that knew whether the facts which we are suffering in a good cause, they published, as such, were while we are persisting in the true or not. They knew whethpublication of a deliberate false. er there was such a person as hood, we must be of all men tlie Jesus of Nazareth ; whether most miserable in this life ; and they lived and conversed with if there is an hereafter, as we can him, and received his instrucpromise ourselves no future re- tions, and were commissioned, ward, but have reason to expect as his disciples. They knew the punishment of the vilest im- whether the doctrines they pubpostors for endeavouring to im- lished as his, were really his docpose such an infamous lie upon trines. They knew all the cirmankind, therefore we must be, cumstances which took place on the whole, of all men the most concerning his death and suffer miserable.
ings, consequently whether what In this view of the subject the they published was true or false. text is plain, and the apostle's ar. They knew whether the miragument forcible, not only in favour cles said to be wrought by him of the precise point which he un- were really wrought or not. dertook to illustrate, viz. the cer. They knew whether what they tainty of a resurrection, but also asserted concerning his resurrecin favour of the truth of the tion was true or false, as whether Christian system in general; for they saw and conversed with him no man in his right mind will freely, and whether they ate and engage in any important, ardu- drank with him after bis resur,
rection; and they knew whether apostles could not be deceived in they themselves were enabled to their knowledge of the fact of speak with tongues and work Christ's resurrection, which they miracles in his name. Many of related ; so, that they should in the facts related were of a public such a resolute and undaunted nature. Christ's preaching, mir- manner, engage in the cause of acles, sufferings, death, &c. were an impostor, knowing him to be all facts of public notoriety. The such ; one who had not only deaccounts of these facts, which ceived others, but had also deare now on record, were publish- ceived them; that they should ed in the same age, and in the persevere in asserting a known sime place in which the transac- falsehood even unto death, knop. tions were alleged to have taken ing that they should thereby inplace. They were of such a na- the hatred of their own ture that they might have been nation, that bonds and imprison. easily disproved had they not ments would await them in eve. been true. Others, not strictly ry city, and that they would of a public nature, must have probably suffer not only violent, been perfectly known to the apos- but the most painful and ignor tles. This was the case of the. minious deaths, without one con resurrection. He shewed hirn- soling reflection, without the self alive by many infallible signs least self approbation, and withand proofs to all the disciples in out a single ray of hope, derived a body, to numbers of them at from the conteinplation of futudifferent times, and to above rity ; with no other prospect befive hundred brethren at once. fore them but the gloomy aiterThe fact was obvious to their native of annihilation at death, or senses. They not only saw and everlasting misery ; this would conversed with him, but did eat indeed be to make them of all and drink with him, and even pro- men the most miserable. ceeded to handle him to satisfy Thus the apostle's argument themselves that it was a real is not only of peculiar force to body and no apparition. They establish the doctrine of the res were not disposed credulously to urrection, but also places the admit the fact, but examined it truth of Christianity itself upon with the most critical exactness; an immoveable basis. The and in their manner of relating Christian religion is either true these facts, there is every indica- and of divine authority, or it is tion of plain sense, and sound un- a forgery invented by men actuderstanding, without any symp- ated by the vilest motives, and toms of an overheated imaginas aiming at the worst of purposes. tion, or of their being under the Indeed no other motive can be influence of enthusiastic impul- given for the forgery, than the ses, without any pomp of words most disinterested malevolence, or affected eloquence, but in a even something in direct opposistyle plain, simple, unaffected tion to all the motives, which and dispassionate, the argument ever have been found to influe of a composed spirit, an evidence ence the conduct of either good irresistible, that they could not or bad men. But to suppose be deceived. As therefore the that the best and most benevos