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Stranger. This is extremely striking; it carries conviction to the soul; I feel ashamed of my own folly.
M. You need not, Sir, for the things that make for our peace, are not frequently objects of attention; and indeed, it is God only who can make them manifest.
Stranger. Surely it is strange that all eyes are not open.
M. Sir, I can remember the time when my own eyes were shut. Stranger. True, Sir, I ask your pardon; from my birth until one hour since, the veil has been upon my heart. But, Sir, do you think it possible for any one to hear the truth thus plainly pointed out, and not see and acknowledge its manifold beauties?
M. Yes, Sir, as possible as for a blind man not to discern colours, no man can see the things of God but by the spirit of God, and it is that spirit which must take of the things of Jesus and show them unto us, or we shall never be able to see them.
Stranger. Your words carry demonstration. Have I your permission to continue this conversation?
Stranger. We are told, that he who believeth shall be saved, and he who believeth not shall be damned. I would be furnished with weapons against every opponent; how are we to understand this text?
M. Precisely as it is written.
Stranger. Your explanation of your text last evening is objected to; particularly where, after asserting that the Galatians were bewitched, you supposed that their bewitchery appeared in their becoming more zealous, in what they called works of righteousness; and it is demanded what authority you have from scripture for so bold an assertion, or how you can determine that their offence or bewitchery, was not manifested by their turning back to a vicious course of life?
M. My answer is ready, and my authority unquestionable; first, the apostle says, he bear them record they had a zeal for God, that they were diligent in the observance of days, and weeks, and months, and that in a religious point of view. And second, he strictly questions them, "This only would I learn of you? received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" Surely neither the Galatians, nor any other set of men in the wide world, ever ex
pected to make themselves perfect before God by vicious practices.
Stranger. Certainly not; your answer is perfectly satisfactory. But, it will be asked, can there be any reason urged on this plan, why, consistent with the scripture, "God should not surrender some to a reprobate mind that they may believe a lie, that they all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness?"
M. No, Sir, not even the shadow of reason; so far from it, that the plan of Universal Redemption, not only admits a possibility of the circumstance you mention, but receives it as a fact. The Christian Universalist firmly believes, that every one who continues in a state of unbelief, is, during his infidelity, given up by "God to a reprobate mind that he may believe a lie, that they all may be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness."
Stranger. There may be different ideas of damnation.
M. It is generally supposed that unbelievers in the present state are damned. Is it not?
M. Well, Sir, this is my opinion.
Stranger. But it is customary to suppose this damnation eternal. M. And, Sir, if you can prove unbelief eternal, I will undertake to prove damnation eternal.
Stranger. This, it is thought, can easily be done.
M. I hope not; but before I set my fellow labourers so Herculean a task, I would request them preparatory thereto, to consider first what the truth is which they do not believe; and secondly, what is the lie which they do believe?
Stranger. We should be told in a few words, that faith was in their judgment, giving credit to the divine word because it was divine. We give credit to the word of man, which may notwithstanding be false, because man may lie; but as God cannot lie, there can be no doubt of his word.
M. This idea of faith seems correct; but the present inquiry is not so much what faith is, as what that word is which the race of Adam are commanded to believe, and which they are damned for not believing; and what the lie is, that such damned individuals do believe?
Stranger. Why, my dear Sir, they will tell us, the truth, we are every where commanded to believe, is, that Jesus Christ is the Son VOL. I.
of God, and that he did every thing that was necessary for the justification of all mankind, and that by his Almighty power he will raise us up at the last day.
M. Well, Sir, if this be the truth we are commanded to believe, we can be at no loss to determine what the lie is, which these damned individuals believe. If it be true that Jesus is the Son of God, and that in the character Son, he has done all that was necessary for the justification of all mankind; it follows, that to believe he is not the Son of God, is to believe a lie. If Jesus has performed all that was necessary for the justification of all mankind, then to believe he did not perform all that was necessary for the justification of all mankind, is to believe a lie. If to believe that he, by his own power, will raise us up at the great day, is to believe the truth; then to believe he will not raise us up at the great day, is to believe a lie. Suppose it should be found at last that Jesus was not the Son of God, then these people would be found believers of the truth, and then they could not be damned for believing a lie; and suppose it should be found hereafter, that he did not perform in his own person all that was necessary for their justification before God, they would then be found believers of the truth, and sc, consequently, could not be damned for believing a lie. And if it be a truth that Jesus Christ has done all that was necessary for the justification of all mankind, then it is a truth that he has finished transgression, made an end of sin and brought in everlasting righteousness; that when all we like sheep went astray, the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all, and that he hath presented all mankind in himself as the second Adam, without spot and blameless. It is also a truth, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses, that he hath blotted out their transgressions as a cloud, and their iniquities as a thick cloud, and that he will not remember their sins. All this is the truth, and all this was necessary to be done by Jesus Christ, in order to the justification of Adam and his posterity before God. Now if all this be done, I would ask how is it possible all mankind can be eternally damned?
Stranger. No one believes all mankind will be eternally damned.
M. But why not all mankind, as well as any individual among mankind, if what was done by Jesus for the justification of any one, was done for the justification of all?
Stranger. Many will say Jesus did not die for all.
M. Well, Sir, if Jesus did not die for all, the individuals for whom he did not die cannot be commanded to believe he did, and as they are excluded from the grace, they cannot be subjects of it, and of course they are not condemned for believing a lie.
Stranger. I know not what answer they could produce to this observation; except, perhaps, that God hath done all on his part for the justification of mankind.
M. Then, Sir, if God has done all on his part, there can be no more condemnation, for we are accountable to none but God; and if it be God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? it is all therefore of him, and to do all that was necessary on his part, was to deliver all mankind from condemnation and eternal death.
Stranger. But it will be questioned: Doth not God say ye will not come unto me that ye may have life?
M. To which I would answer, yea, verily. But the same God says, "They shall be willing in the day of my power."
Stranger. But will he force salvation upon them, whether they will or not?
M. No, Sir, he will not use force; although he will compel them to come in that his house may be full, it will be a divine compulsion, with which they will be so well pleased, that it will appear their own free act and deed. I repeat, our God does not say I will save them, whether they will or not; but they shall be willing in the day of my power.
Stranger. It will be urged, no individual can be in a happy state, without believing.
M. This is assuredly true; the scripture fully expresses this sentiment, and I unwaveringly assert, that as long as the belief of the lie is continued, so long, and no longer, will the damnation continue; and no longer, for unbelief as a cause, and damnation as an effect, run coeval with each other. Now, as we have the word, and oath of Jehovah, two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, that ALL shall know him from the least to the greatest, and as we are assured that to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, is life eternal, and as the word is gone forth in righteousness and shall not return, that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to God; as we are assured of all this, so we are as well assured that all mankind will become believers; and that when they believe the truth, they will no longer believe a lie; and when they no longer believe a lie, they will no longer have
pleasure in unrighteousness; and when they no longer have pleasure in unrighteousness, they will no longer be damned.
Stranger. Suffer me, dear Sir, to ask when will this blessed period arrive?
M God himself hath answered this question, in due time.
Stranger. From me the veil is removed, conviction is forced upon my soul, and I wonder and adore. But still the objector will repeat, are mankind brought into a state of felicity whether they will or not?
M. To such objectors I would meekly reiterate my answer: Pray, I would say, have the goodness to attend to what I have to urge. God informs us that man in his fallen state, will not come unto him that they may have life. Here we are apprized that the wi.l of the wandering nature is opposed to God; for God assures us that it is his will, all should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved. Now if it be true that God is unchangeable, then it will always be his will that all men should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved. But if man, any man, should remain forever in a state of damnation, consequent upon not coming to the knowledge of the truth, and so be eventually lost; then our God not obtaining his will must remain eternally unsatisfied, while the adversary of mankind will obtain a most signal victory over the will of his Creator. God wills one thing, the Devil and the unbelieving heart another; one or other of these powers must prevail. Let the worshipper of Omnipotence determine the question.
Stranger. This difficulty is insurmountable.
M. I pity those who would wish to surmount it, or who would style it a difficulty.
Stranger. The world, my dear Sir, are unaccustomed to think; they will not investigate, they will not determine; they acknowledge the subject deserves serious consideration; but they will refer it to a more convenient season. And, in the interim, they accuse you of deep art, of a plausibility, an ingenuity, which can make right wrong, and wrong right.
M. How greatly do such accusers err. The illuminating power dwelleth not in me, Sir, it dwelleth in the divine testimony itself. Were I to occupy the ground my opponents have taken, I should soon be discomfited. A preacher in the city of Philadelphia, undertook to preach against me, and in order to confute me, selected that precious text, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." "Now, my friends," said the preacher, "I shall un