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law is not imperfect; therefore the conclusion is just. Logic, then, brings us to the very truth attested by the saviour, and before quoted, viz., that the law of God, in every jot and tittle, which is love to God and to our neighbors, shall infallibly be fulfilled, in the universal obedience of all the intelligences for whose behoof it exists.
I ask now, are the penalties annexed to this law, such as will defeat its intentions, and render impossible its fulfilment? They certainly are, if the theory of unceasing punishment be true, for in that case, myriads of myriads of beings will eternally remain in a state of rebellion against God, and of enmity toward each other. To render the absurdity of this still more glaring, we will again have recourse to comparison.
A preceptor, having under his care numerous pupils of highly respectable parentage, is anxious to advance them to the highest possible state of intelligence, in order that they may prove ornaments to society, and creditable to himself as their instructor; he accordingly frames a strict code of disciplinary rules for their guidance, and enacts among other things, that any pupil who shall for a certain term of time neglect his studies, shall forever thereafter be debarred from all means of mental improvement, and be doomed to perpetual ignorance. Reader, can you see any fitness between such a law, and the preceptor's original design ? On the contrary, could he have adopted a surer measure for its frustration ? And think you that in the government of the universe, God thus weakly legislates against his own purposes ? You must deem but meanly of his wisdom if you do.
The only plea now remaining for endless misery connected with this subject is, that by its penal operations upon the offend'er, the law will secure the respect to which it is entitled. This plea is good as it regards limited and emendatory punishment; but as it regards that which is endless, it is utterly void of force, for a law which acts against its own ends—which respects not the ultimate good of those upon whom its penalties fall—and which is therefore blind-weak-vindictive--and inconsistentis in fact entitled to no respect, and can never secure it from rational beings; a servile compliance with its mandates, from motives of fear, it may indeed exact, but in that case it can with no propriety be called “ the perfect law of Liberty." God's way
of securing respect for his law, consists in his having made it so reasonable in itself—so just-so pure-so benevolent—so everything that it should be—that the mind truly enlightened in regard to its nature and claims, cannot but choose to obey its dictatesmost cheerfully and heartily to obey them : if all minds do not now so choose, it is because all minds are not now so enlightened ; but the covenant of God's love, which promises to bless all mankind in Christ Jesus, implies his purpose thus ultimately to enlighten all, and to bring all to obey this law, as the means of that blessedness. “I will put my law in their minds,” saith God, as before quoted, “and will write it in their hearts.” And then will have come to pass the prediction of the prophet, “ And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah liv. 13.) “ It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God." (John, vi. 45.) Thus what the prophet foretold, Christ has sanctioned.
How beautiful, then, is the light which the scriptures have thrown upon this interesting subject! and how opposed, at every step, are its conclusions, to the drear and spirit-blighting theory of endless suffering ! According to their teaching, as before shown, God's law, like himself, is love; its perfection consists in its adaptedness to convert the soul. (Psl. xix. 7.) God's veracity is pledged that he will write on all hearts, (Heb. viii. 11, 12.) and when this is done, all will obey it. 6. The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus," will set them free " from the law of sin and death,” (Rom. viii. 2.) herein consists the blessedness of the upright, that “ his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Psl. ii. 2.) Reader, get possession of this law of love, and it will lead you to visit the fatherless and the widow-to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God to love your enemies—to overcome evil with good—and thus to assimilate to the character of
father in heaven. “Great peace have they that love the law of God, and nothing shall offend them,” (Psl. cxix. 165.)
DIRECTLY AND POSITIVELY PROVEN FROM THE RELA
TIONS OF GOD TO MAN.
1. AS OUR CREATOR.—He must be, in a remote sense at least, responsible for the issue of our being, and according as it shall prove a blessing or a curse, he may be regarded as a benefactor or an enemy, and we shall have endless reasons for gratitude toward him, or for resentment. It is vain to attempt an evasion of this consequence, for if it be said that our misery would not have been, but for our sin, it must also be admitted that our sin would not have been, but for our existence, nor our existence, but for our creator: to this conelusion, then, it must come at last, and here it must rest. What man, though ever so much depraved, would consent to be a parent, with the certain knowl. edge before him, that his offspring would be a subject of misery and degradation in this life, and of ceaseless and hopeless suffering in another? And provided he did so consent, might not his offspring justly account him his foe, and hold him accountable for all the evils of his wretched being? It would certainly not avail the parent to plead that he was actuated by benevolent motives in conferring that existence, and that he designed it should prove a blessing to the recipient; for how could he have designed that for good which he knew would prove an evil ? Man, however, though possessing the foresight supposed, might plead the strength of his sensual inclinations, and the insufficiency of his moral principles of resistance, not in excuse, but in extenuation of his pernicious act; but could the divine character, in a siinilar case, find shelter under such a plea? No, for “God cannot be tempted with evil,” (James i, 13.) nor has he sensual inclinations to gratify.
“ But," inquires an objector, “may not the creator have made man subject to the liabilities supposed in the doctrine of endless misery, with the view of testing his obedience for if man were not left to his own election between good and evil, how could his virtue as a moral agent be put to the proof?” A sheerer fallacy never perplexed the poor human brain! What! the almighty
maker of man must have recourse to tests to know the qualities of what he creates ! It is to be hoped then, that he is made wiser by his experiments! But supposing such a test necessary, still it might have been made without involving endless, and, therefore, irremediable consequences. That man is left to his choice between good and bad is not denied ; but it is denied that infinite benevolence has suspended his weal or woe, for eternity, on so frail and fickle a thing as the human will-more especially as he could not but foresee the result of such suspension.
A father having mixed a quantity of arsenic with some white sugar, puts the compound into the hands of his children, acquainting them at the same time with its poisonous qualities, and cautioning them against eating of it; they, however, seduced by its appearance, and detecting nothing but agreeableness in the taste, disbelieve, or disregard the parental admonition, allow their appetites the dangerous indulgence, and experience death as the consequence. The neighbours of the father, hearing that the children came into possession of the poison by his agency, inquire his motives in arming his poor offspring with the means of selfdestruction. “Merely by way of experiment,” he replies, " upon their faith in my word, and obedience to my commands." The neighbours inquire again if he did not foresee the probable issue of the experiment. Yes,” he answers, “not only the probable, but the certain issue, was as clear to me before the trial as it is since-still, I meant no harm to my children by the affair ;" can you not, reader, anticipate the judgement of the neighbours upon this cruel transaction ? 66 Wretch !" methinks I hear them exclaim, “You are guilty of the murder of your children! you supplied them with the instrument of death, full well knowing how fatally to themselves they would employ it; and now you seek to deafen your conscience to the voice of their blood by the weak plea, that you designed a result, different from what you were assured would take place! you are convicted, sir, out of your
Yet is this contemptible apology the best that can be found, by the advocates of unending, woe, for the defence of the divine character. God designed well in creating those to whom he knew their existence would prove an endless curse.
Let us conceive Jehovah as existing alone in the solitude of uppeopled space. Stood he then in need of creatures like us, to
augment his happiness ?-o increase his power ?-to perfect his perfections ? No; for infinity is insusceptible of increase. What, then, prompted him to create ? Was it the desire to test his creative skill? No; for omniscience does not gather knowledge from experiments. The only conceivable motive in this ease is that of benevolence, in order that it might have objects on which to expand itself; being infinitely happy in himself, the creator was prompted to produce sentient creatures by a propensity to epmmunicate that happiness. And in proportion as beings are multiplied, in that proportion are the participants of that exhaustless felicity also multiplied. Here is an end worthy of a God! an end, reasonable, benevolent, glorious ! philosophy approves it as probable, religion as just and true; this is a corner. stone in the universalist faith, and for want of such a foundation, the thousand and one theories in religion are as unstable as the ocean's waves, and as unsubstantial as their foam ; happily we are saved the labour of proving this important point, by the fact that it is self-evident, and, therefore, by no party in theology denied : yet, although none deny it in terms, many do in effect for is not the doctrine of endless misery, to all intents and purposes, a total denial of it?
In the deity's discourse with Jonah, how affectingly is his relation to man, as creator, urged as a reason for the display of his mercy. “ Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night; And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand souls that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle.” (Jonah iv. 10, 11.) The prophet, it seems, had been more painfully affected about the perishing of a gourd, because he had found a shelter in its shade from the torrid sun, than about the prospective destruction of a large city with its entire population ! and inasmuch as he had predicted this destruction, he would have preferred it should ensue, rather than that his preaching should fall into disrepute! God, therefore, condescended to show the callous prophet the ground of his own benevolent interest in this vast multitude-he had (so to speak) laboured for them, and made them to grow—they were the work of his hands his benevolence had prompted him to create, and