A Treatise on Atonement, by Hosea Ballou
Chapter 10 : Reasons for Believing in Universal Reconciliation
Having answered, as I hope to the reader's satisfaction, some of the most important objections against God's universal goodness to his creatures, I shall now turn on the other hand, and give the reader some of my evidences for believing in the so-much-despised doctrine of universal holiness and happiness.
First, I reason from the nature of divine goodness, in which all pretend to believe, and none dare in a direct sense to deny, that God could not, consistently with himself, create a being that would experience more misery than happiness. Secondly, if God be infinitely good, his goodness is commensurate with his power and knowledge; then all beings whom his power produced are the objects of his goodness; and to prove that any being was destitute of it would prove that Deity's knowledge did not comprehend such being. Thirdly, there is as much propriety in saying that God is infinite in power, but that he did not create all things, as there is in saying, though God be infinite in goodness, yet part of his creatures will never be the partakers of it. It might as well be said that God is infinite in knowledge, and yet ignorant of the most part of events which are daily and hourly taking place, as to say that he is infinitely good, and yet only a few of his creatures were designed for happiness. Fourthly, if the Almighty, as we believe him to be, did not possess power sufficient to make all his creatures happy, it was not an act of goodness in him to create them. If he have that power, but possess no will for it, it makes a bad matter as much worse as is possible. I then reduce my opponent to the necessity of telling me if those whom he believes will be endlessly lost, be those whom God could save, but would not, or those whom he would save, but could not. If it be granted that God has both power and will to save all men, it is granting all I want for a foundation of my faith.
I would further argue that as man is constituted to enjoy happiness, on moral principles (to the knowledge of which principles we come by degrees), it is as reasonable to believe that all men were intended to obtain a consummate knowledge of the moral principles of their nature as that any of Adam's race were. There is not an individual of the whole family of man who is perfectly satisfied with those enjoyments which earth and time afford him; the soul is constituted for nobler pleasures, which to me is an evidence that God has provided for all men some better things than can be found in earthly enjoyments, where we find but little except vanity and disappointment. There is an immortal desire in every soul for future existence and happiness. For the truth of this assertion I appeal to the consciences of my readers. Why should the Almighty implant this desire in us if he never intended to satisfy it? Supposing a mother has the power of modifying the desires and appetite of her child, would she cause it to want that which she could not get for it? Would she take pleasure in seeing her child pine for fruits which did not grow in the country where she lived, and which she could not get? Or would she prefer the anguish of the child to its happiness, when it was in her power to grant all it wanted? If such a mother were to be found, who would call her a godly woman? Could her child, thus tormented, rise up and call her blessed? No, surely it could not.
I further argue that all wise, good, and exemplary men wish for the truth of the doctrine for which I contend; they earnestly pray for the salvation of all men, and do all in their power, by the grace of God, to dissuade men from sin, to the obedience of the Gospel; they enlist willingly into the service of virtue, to endeavor to win proselytes to holiness; their object is the destruction of sin, and the advancement of righteousness, and they believe, and I think justly, that God will bless their labors.
None but wicked men would wish for the endless duration of sin. Were it left to the carnal mind, it would wish for nothing but the privilege of drinking in iniquity forever. But those who truly love God and holiness desire night and day to overcome the vile propensities of their own deceitful hearts, and pray for the reconciliation of others to holiness and happiness. Now, why should we suppose that God is more of the mind of the wicked than of the righteous? If it be God's spirit in us which causes us to pray for the destruction of sin, is it reasonable to say that this same spirit has determined that sin shall always exist? Are we not right in judging of the nature and character of God from the dictates of his spirit in us? If so, does this spirit teach us the necessity of endless transgression and misery? I wish the reader to keep in mind that I hold sin and misery inseparably connected, and holiness and happiness so likewise.
I further argue, if any of the human race be endlessly miserable, the whole must be, providing they all know it; for, reasoning from that spirit of benevolence which is necessary to a conformity to the principles of holiness, I prove it impossible for a well-disposed man to see another in misery without bearing a very sensible proportion of such misery. If it be argued that this idea is wrong, and that the spirit which dictates it is of the evil one; I say, in answer, all good men in the world feel it to be a truth; and no man ever exhibited more of it than the Saviour of the world.
If any one should be so particular as to query, asking, if the Almighty himself be not desirous of the salvation of sinners; and if so, how can this happiness be complete? I answer, a being to whom events do not take place in succession, nor time pass away, with whom an eternity is a present now, whose knowledge, is intuitive, and who can neither hope nor anticipate, can neither increase nor decrease in happiness. But when we speak of God, abstractedly, our words ought to be few and chosen.
Those who are the most devout on earth are the most desirous for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, and the deliverance of themselves and their fellow-men by sin, from sin and misery. For the sake of a case, I will suppose a Christian today is exercised with fervent desires for the reconciliation of sinners; at night, he dies. Do all those holy desires cease at death? If they do not, but do continue, though the happiness of the soul be great, yet it is, at least, capable of being enlarged, or increased, by the prosperity of the Redeemer's cause among men.
How the idea ever got place in the human mind, that even fathers and mothers, in the world to come, would rejoice to see their own offspring in endless flames and hopeless torments, I can hardly conceive; though the probability is, it was first invented to shun, in theory, those difficulties not otherwise to be avoided. I wish to use this error as prudently as possible; but I wish to have it rightfully understood, and judged of impartially. Will perfect reconciliation to God have this effect? I know it is contended that it will; but what evidence have we of it? Was not Christ reconciled, or in a state of conformity to God's law? Did he manifest joy at the sufferings of mankind? When he looked on Jerusalem, that abominable city, and knew that its chiefs would be his murderers, when he spake of the dreadful calamities just ready to burst on their devoted heads, how did he feel? Streams of sorrow broke from the eye of innocence; in his grief, he spake of their destruction, but prophesies of seeing him again, when they should welcome him, saying, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!"
If perfect reconciliation to God will effect complete happiness at the sight of human misery, the more we are reconciled to God the more satisfaction we should take in seeing our fellow-creatures miserable! Then, those who can look on men in distress with the least sorrow are the most reconciled to divine goodness; and those who feel the most sorrow at the afflictions of their fellow-men are the most perverse and wicked! Some may say, heaven is entirely different from this world, and when we get there we shall be totally changed from what we now are; therefore, it will not do to argue what we shall be there from what we ought to be here. Then the awful fact is, all we call goodness here will be called badness there; and that which we call badness here will be goodness there!
If the effects of moral holiness in the world to come should be different from what they are here, I wish to be informed on what moral principle the change is made. If these things be so, the souls of the cruel need but little alteration to prepare them for heaven, and that little laid out in making them what we should call worse. Such a heaven as this does not, I hope, exist in the universe. My opponent will urge his argument still further on this subject, and say, it is not the misery of the wicked that affords so much pleasure to those who are in heaven, but their joy is increased in consequence of the execution of justice. This, however, is giving up what is contended for, namely, that every degree of misery will create thousands of degrees of happiness; because, could divine justice be as well understood without this misery as with it, the misery itself would do no good.
I am willing to grant that a good man will prefer the execution of justice to his own private ease, or the partial happiness of a criminal. But how would a judge appear who should manifest joy and gladness on pronouncing the sentence of death upon one of his fellow-men? Who would not turn from such a court with disgust and deep abhorrence? To call such a circumstance an instance in which men have an occasion to rejoice is a violation of our senses.
I will say for myself, I neither expect nor desire perfect happiness while I see my fellow-men in misery; I had rather be possessed of that sympathy which causes me to feel for another than to enjoy an unsocial pleasure in a frosty heaven of misanthropy. Is it possible that we should be completely happy and see those in misery whom we love? No one will say we can. Are we not commanded to love our enemies? Can we be truly happy and not love them? Surely we cannot; then how can we be completely happy and see them miserable?
A parent may be persuaded to attend his child while a surgeon performs an amputation; but with what acute feelings his heart is agitated! How eagerly would he inhale the pain and make it his own were it possible! But there is something in all this that is tolerable; he is in hopes of saving the life of his child: were it not for his hopes, could he endure the sight? But what is all this compared with a parent viewing his child in endless flames! O parents, what a blessed circumstance it is that when we are called to part with our children on earth, we can mingle a little joy with the sorrow in hoping that they belong to the deathless family in heaven!
If the good desires which are found in the Christian heart are ever to be satisfied, universal subjection to the government of Christ will surely take place; if virtue ever gains an universal victory over sin and vice, universal holiness and happiness will be the consequence. Man exists on such a principle as renders him capable of improving in knowledge and happiness, which he obtains by experience; and it is very evident that as the wheels of time move, man is fast advancing, which favors the idea that at some period known to Deity, the desired haven will be obtained in the acquisition of that wisdom which is from above.
When we send our children to school it is for the purpose of learning that of which they are ignorant; and it is by degrees that those sciences are obtained which constitute them learned. When a child first takes a quill in hand to write, he blunders, but does not blunder so as to imitate the copy; neither will two out of a thousand imitate each other.
Men begin their moral existence in their separate capacity in the same way; unacquainted with the skill of their divine preceptor, they err from sacred rules and differ from their fellow-pupils. Jars and broils ensue, and sorrow and woe are the consequences. But as they become taught, they conform to the divine rules of their master and learn that their happiness consists in being united.
Happiness is the greatest object of all rational beings, and no one will follow any particular object any longer than he thinks it subservient to his main one. The reason why men sin is, they think, and think erroneously, that they shall obtain more happiness in so doing than in following the dictates of truth. But is it reasonable to suppose that the error will never be discovered? Will the sinner never find his mistake? O yes, says my opposer, to his eternal confusion and endless misery! But stop a moment; if he find his mistake he will abandon the object; and when he ceases to sin he begins to reform and approximate towards holiness and happiness.
I have sufficiently argued that man cannot be miserable, in consequence of moral condemnation, any longer than he is, in a moral sense, a sinner. Then he must sin endlessly in order to be miserable so long; which if so, he will never find his mistake, he will never learn that righteousness and truth are more productive of happiness than sin. But I think it erroneous to suppose that a being who is capable of learning anything cannot learn some time short of eternity that it is better to do right than wrong. Should we argue, however, that that might in some cases be true, it would destroy the idea of complete and positive misery for which my opponent contends. Complete misery would not admit of a prospect which could administer the smallest hope; in which case, the soul would have no object which could possibly induce it to action; then would the soul become inert, and its existence would be destroyed, and become not a subject of happiness or misery.
I would argue again, from a reasonable idea admitted by all, namely, that mankind, in their moral existence, originated in God. Why, then, do we deny his final assimilation with the fountain from whence he sprang? The streams and rivulets which water the hill-country run in every direction, as the make of land occasions. They are stained with various mines and soils through which they pass; but at last they find their entrance into the ocean, where their different courses are at an end, and they are tempered like the fountain which receives them. Though man, at present, forms an aspect similar to the waters in their various courses, yet in the end of his race I hope he will enjoy an union with his God, and with his fellows.
Having given a few hints, from the nature of moral beings, in favor of my general plan, I shall beg the attention of the reader to some evidences, from the Scriptures of truth, in favor of universal holiness and happiness. The method I intend to pursue will be conclusive; for I am determined to admit no Scripture as evidence, in this case, that needs any interpretation to cause it to mean what I wish to prove; therefore I shall produce but a small part of the Scriptures which I conceive have a direct meaning in favor of Universalism.
It will not be expected that all, or more than a small part of the passages, which relate to this subject, will be presented in this work; but I will endeavor to arrange those I do adduce in such order, and accompany them with such remarks, as I hope may convey conviction to the candid reader.
It is well known that the gospel dispensation is intimately connected with certain promises, which God made to the ancient fathers of the Jewish nation. See Gal. iii. 16-18.:
Now to Abraham and to his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it shoud make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Heb. vi. 17-20:
Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made an high priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.
Acts xiii. 30-33:
But God raised him from the dead; and he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again.
We presume it is not necessary to quote more passages to show that the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its favors, is pursuant to certain promises which God made to the fathers. This fact being clearly understood, it will appear altogether reasonable that we begin our examination of scripture proof of whatever we believe in, as the final result of the gospel schemes, by a careful examination of those primitive promises; for if, as we have seen in the passage just quoted from Acts, the glad tidings of the gospel, proclaimed by the apostle, were a declaration that the promise which God made to the fathers he had fulfilled the same by raising up Jesus again, then have we a right to believe in all that we find contained in the promises, and nothing more.
Now as we are going to examine those ancient promises of our heavenly Father, and as we are about to inquire into their most evident import in reference to what we ought to believe will be the final result of the gospel of Jesus Christ, let us engage in this work with honest unprejudiced minds; and let us lay aside all prepossessions which might tend to bias our judgment, and be willing to submit to whatever we find in this great charter of the divine will. See Gen. xii. 1-3:
Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Chap. xxii, 15-18:
And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, by myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
This promise which God made to Abraham, he confirmed to Isaac, as we read in chap. xxvi. 3-4:
Sojourn in this land; and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee and to thy seed 1 will give all these countries; and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
See also the confirmation of this promise to Jacob: chap. xviii. 13-14:
And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed, and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shc.lt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Having these promises thus before us, it may be of service to notice several particulars in their character. First. As to the blessing or blessings which they promise to all the nations and to all the families of the earth, there appears an entire impartiality. Second. Whatever blessing or blessings were intended by these promises, there is not the least intimation that they were promised on any conditionality. That the fulfilment of them depended entirely on the will and power of God is seen by the passage before quoted from Acts xiii. 32-33:
And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again.
It seems, according to this very plain testimony, that the resurrection of Jesus was the fulfilment of the promise to bless all the nations and all the families of the earth in the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which seed is Christ.
Now that there may be no mistake or doubt as to what the blessing is which was promised to all the nations and to all the families of the earth in Christ, we invite the reader's attention to the following scriptures: Gal. iii. 8:
And the scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blest.
By this passage we learn that the blessing promised was justification through faith. Compare Rom. iv. 25:
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
See more corresponding passages: Col. i. 20:
And, (having made peace by the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
That the things to be reconciled were man may be seen next by the next verse:
And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.
The way in which Christ effected this reconciliation is expressed in the next verse:
In the body of his flesh through death to present you holy, and unblameable, and unprovable in his sight.
Eph. i. 9-10:
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath prepared in himself: that, in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.
What a glorious foundation for hope is here. How blessed was Abraham when he rejoiced in the day of Jesus. How blessed were the prophets of the Lord who saw these things, though afar off; the sight weaned their affections from all earthly things; they sought a city which hath foundation, whose builder and maker is God. When Jacob blessed his sons, he spake of the coming of Shiloh, unto whom, saith he, shall the gathering of the people be; see Genesis xlix. 10; how exactly does this testimony of the patriarch agree with that of the apostle's:
Unto him shall the gatherings of the people be.
And the apostle's testimony, Eph. i. 10:
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ.
We will hear what the prophet David, says, concerning the kingdom of Christ, Psalms lxxii. 11:
Yea, all kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.
He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence.
And men shall be blessed in him, all nations shall call him blessed.
If any wish to argue, that David meant no other than Solomon, by the King's son, let them take notice of the 7th and 8th verses:
In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
The moon yet endures, but the reign of Solomon does not. The kingdom spoken of, in the text, was to be universal; but Solomon's was not. Let us take particular notice of the 11th verse:
Yea all kings shall fall down before him.
Shall all the cruel tyrants of the earth bow down to him who was born in a stable? Shall all the haughty kings of the proud and wealthy nations, bow down to him whose chosen companions when on earth were poor fishermen? Will you, out opponent, say, this is a pleasing doctrine to the carnal mind? Herod, who caused the massacre in Bethlehem, in order to murder Christ in infancy, could hardly be persuaded that it was agreeable to his carnal mind to bow before Jesus, at the head of this little band of martyrs. No, carnal mind must be crucified before all this can be done.
Would it please the present kings of Europe to tell them to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and to learn war no more? Would it be agreeable to their carnal, proud and haughty minds to submit to the religion of their Saviour? Which of them would, in order to gratify carnal-mindedness, abandon all his equipage, his horses and chariots of state, mount a forlorn ass, ride into an enemy's land, preach peace and salvation to his inveterate foes, and pray for his murderers in death? And can you believe that all the kings of the earth can bow down before the Saviour, with any more gratification to carnal-mindedness, than they could imitate him in his life and death?
"All nations shall serve him." (Psa. lxxii. 11.) If all nations serve Christ, will they not all be blessed in him according to the promise? I do not argue that any will be blessed in Christ who do not serve him; but the text says all nations shall serve him. Psa. xxxvii. 10:
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be, yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
Yet he passed away, and he was not, yes I sought him, but he could not be found.
If the wicked continue in sin as long as God exists, it appears to me to be improper to say, "Yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be." And if God has prepared a place of endless torments for the wicked, and that in sight of the righteous in heaven, it is hardly proper to say, "Thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be." And if the wicked are to be tormented forever, in sight of the righteous, why is it said, "I sought him but he could not be found"? (Psa. xxii. 27.) Then see Psa. xxii. 27:
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.
Who will doubt the salvation of those who turn unto the Lord and worship before him? See Psa. ii. 7-8:
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Compare this beautiful passage with one like it in Col. i. 19:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.
In what a capacious Saviour did David believe! Should a preacher at the present day recite the words which I have just quoted he would immediately be accused of holding the heretical doctrine of universal salvation, as his hearers might be pleased to call it; or should he communicate the doctrine half as clearly as it is communicated in those quotations, that part of his audience who were warmly opposed to the doctrine would grow uneasy, while those who favored the doctrine would be satisfied their speaker did so likewise. Some method must be used to explain those Scriptures differently from what they say, or the doctrine for which I contend is fairly proved by them.
Let us pass to the prophecies of Isaiah; see chap. xxv. 6-8:
And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all the nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall be taken from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
No one will doubt that the provisions here spoken of are those which are provided in the Gospel of salvation.
In the first place, then, observe it is made for all people; this proves that it was the intention of him who made the feast that all people should share in its divine benefits.
Secondly. It is testified that the veil of darkness which was over all people shall finally be taken away.
Thirdly. That death is to be swallowed up in victory, and tears wiped away from off all faces. And,
Lastly. That the rebuke of God's people should be taken from off all the earth. And the evidence given to prove it all would be done, is, the Lord hath spoken it.
It is of no avail for any to pretend that though the provisions of the Gospel were provided for all people yet all will not partake of them, let the reasons be what they may; for if God wipe tears from off all faces, all must receive the benefits of Gospel grace and peace. Compare this testimony with 1 Cor. xv. 54:
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.
Again, with Rev. xxi. 4:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
How can it be justly said that death is swallowed up in victory when the fact is death will reign as long as God exists? Or, how can it be said that God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of men, if millions are to mourn to an endless eternity? Or, why is it said there shall be no more sorrow, crying nor pain, if sorrow, crying and infinite pain are never to come? In Isaiah ix. 6-7, the Saviour is prophesied of as possessing a kingdom, the increase of which should have no end. To the same purpose, see also Daniel vii. 14:
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Observe, "All people, nations, and languages shall serve him." If a great part of the human race are to exist in endless rebellion against Christ and his kingdom, it seems that the prophet was not only ignorant of it but believed the reverse. See Isaiah xlix. 6:
And he said, it is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.
I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, etc.
For the strength of this covenant, see Jer. xxxiii. 20:
Thus saith the Lord; if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, etc.
When men are possessed of sufficient agency to stop the wheels of time, to silence the motion of the solar system, and to disannul God's covenant with day and night, then day and night will depend on the will of man. So likewise, when he has agency to disannul that covenant which is ordered, and in all things sure, then his eternal salvation will depend on himself, and not on his God.
Attend to the similitude of the Redeemer's glory, from the prophecy of Ezek. xvii., last paragraph (verses 22-24):
Thus saith the Lord God, I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent: in the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit and be a goodly cedar; and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken, and have done it.
Time would fail me to write one-half that might be quoted from prophets on this subject. I ask for no explanation on their testimony; if what they say do not prove my doctrine, I will not have recourse to explanations.
I have reasoned from the goodness of God to prove that it is his will that all men should finally be holy and happy; I will now call proof from divine revelation to the same idea. See St. Paul's 1st Epistle to Timothy, ii. 4:
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
What could induce St. Paul to write this sentence if he did not believe it? My opponent will say he believes it himself. Then, I say, all for which I argue is granted. But my opponent has a method by which he can explain this passage so that it may be true, and yet God may will the endless misery of millions. It is only to say that the passage is expressive of God's revealed will, but not of his secret will, arguing that his revealed will is in direct opposition to a will which he has seen fit not to reveal!
Though much use is made of this method in order to shun the force of this passage and many others, if there be any propriety in it, it is out of my sight; or if it would not betray a want of good sense in any other case, I will leave my reader to judge.
To say God's revealed will is contrary to his eternal and unrevealed will, would in me be blasphemy of the first magnitude; yet I do not doubt the sincerity of those who frequently say it. But is it not in a direct sense charging God with hypocrisy? However shocking it may seem, I know of no other light in which to view it.
Again, if God have a will which he has not revealed, and my opponent knows what it is, I would ask how he came by this knowledge? God's revealed will is that all men should be saved, but his secret will is that most of them should be eternally miserable! I would ask when this will was a secret? It has been openly talked of by limitarians ever since the light of the Gospel advanced so as to discover the apostacy of Christians.
St. Paul speaks of the mystery of God's will which he proposed in himself, which the apostle says God has made known. See Eph. i. 9:
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself.
And in verse 10 he tells what this will is, but it is very different from what my opposer says the hidden will of God is:
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth, even in him.
St. Peter says God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come unto repentance.
In short, I cannot see the propriety of saying that God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth, if he predestinated from all eternity millions for eternal misery; and if he created any to glorify him in endless torments, I cannot see why he should not be willing for them to perish, and answer the end for which he made them.
Again, what is that truth which God wills all men to know? According to the words of the text, it must be a truth consonant to their salvation, or they could not be saved and yet believe the truth. For instance, suppose out of the whole alphabet all are to endlessly miserable except the vowel letters, and the whole alphabet was brought to the knowledge of the truth; surely the vowels would believe they were to be saved, but all the consonants would believe they were going into endless torments; and the faith of the consonants would be as true a faith as that of the vowels. But how could the consonants enjoy salvation while possessing this faith?
There are some who do not admit my general system, but who will admit this part of it: namely, that it is the will of God that all men should finally be holy and happy, but say at the same time that it depends on the creature's accepting of offered mercy on the rational conditions of Gospel obedience, making Gospel obedience a prerequisition to salvation; while I contend that Gospel obedience is, in fact, Gospel salvation.
To be saved from sin is surely Gospel salvation, and to be obedient, according to the dictates of Gospel grace, is salvation from sin. There is just as much propriety in making obedience a condition on which salvation is granted, as there would be for a physician to propose to a patient in a fit of the asthma that he would afford relief on condition the patient should first breathe easily. However, if it be granted that it is God's will that all men should be finally holy and happy, I will more directly answer the supposition that this will may fail by the words of St. Paul. See Eph. i. 11:
In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated, according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
If God will have all men to be saved, and worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, it proves that for which I contend as fully as anything can be proved from Scripture. My opponent, perhaps, will say (as many have said to me in conversation) after meeting with much difficulty in arguing, "Anything may be proved by scripture." To which I reply there is one thing that the scriptures do not prove, neither can all the ingenuity of man make them substantiate it, and that is, the endless misery of a moral being.
If any of my opposers can prove, by scripture, the endless duration of sin and misery, as plainly as the two passages above recited prove universal holiness and happiness, I will never content any more on the subject.
I will take further notice of Paul's first communication to Timothy. He goes on, in the 5th and 6th verses, to give Timothy a reason for what he had asserted (1 Tim. ii. 5-6):
For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
The apostle's reasoning is evidently good and plain; for God would not have given his Son a ransom for all, if it were not his will that all should be saved; and if it be God's will it ought to be ours, therefore it is right to pray for all. If the ransom were paid for all, it argues that it was the intention of the Ransomer that all should be benefitted.
What would have been the astonishment of the world, after the immortal Washington had caused to be paid a ransom for all the American prisoners who were in Algerine slavery, if he had told the Dey that he did not want more than one quarter of those captives sent home to the land of liberty and to the enjoyment of their families, for which they had so long sighed in bondage; and that he might wear out the rest with fatigue and whips? But the good man's soul was never satisfied until they all came home, and with songs of joyous liberty hailed the land of their nativity! And blessed be the Captain of our salvation; he, also, shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied, when all the "ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joys upon their heads, when they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (Isa. xxxv. 10.)
The reader's attention is now invited to those Scriptures which, in expression, are more particularly applicable to the deliverance of mankind from this bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The whole of the 15th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians was intended to refute those who denied the resurrection; but as that doctrine in not denied by my opponent, I shall take notice only of those parts which affect the argument between us. See verse 20:
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
Christ, as the first fruits of them who slept, is represented by the heave-offering under the law. See Num. xv. 19, 20:
Then it shall be that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave-offering unto the Lord. Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough, for an heave-offering: as ye do the heave-offering of the threshing-floor, so shall ye heave it.
Exod. xxii. 29:
Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors; the first born of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.
See also Num. xviii. 15. By the offering of the first ripe fruits, the whole of the succeeding harvest was sanctified; and in the first born which were redeemed, the succeeding fruits of the womb were considered holy; see Acts xxvi. 23:
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.
Christ being the first who rose from the dead, and rising as the first fruits, sanctifies all the rest, as did the first fruits under the law. St. Paul's comment on the first fruits is very illustrative of the scriptural meaning thereof. See Rom. ix. 16:
For if the first fruits be holy, so are the branches.
In the heave-offering under the law there is a beautiful representation of our Saviour. The sheaf taken from the field, being separated from all the rest of the same growth, represents the separation of Jesus Christ from mankind to be holy unto the Lord; and the sanctification of the whole harvest, being by the first ripe fruits, is to show us that our sanctification is in Jesus, the first fruits of them that slept. The same may be clearly seen in the instance of the dough; a certain part of it was to be separated from the rest for an offering unto the Lord in which the remaining part of the lump (as the apostle calls it) was considered holy.
These observations are made here in order to draw the reader's attention more closely to the labors of the apostle which we have now under consideration; for he goes on immediately to show what he means by the lump spoken of in Romans. See verse 21:
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
Let me here observe that death came by the earthly man, and the resurrection came by the heavenly man, which is in point to prove that the plan of the Gospel is to deliver mankind from the earthly Adam to the immortality of heaven.
Perhaps none would dispute what I here contend for, provided I did not extend the cure as extensively as the malady; but I shall also contend for this, and will clearly prove it by the apostle's testimony. See 1 Cor. xv. 22:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
It is not possible for me to state the doctrine more concise and positive than the apostle has done so in the passage quoted. But I am willing to attend to my opponent's objections as I proceed. He will say he does not dispute that the apostle here meant all mankind, but that he only intended they would all be raised from the dead, not that all would be delivered from condemnation and sin. But I will rest my argument on the words themselves; I say, if all men are made alive in Christ, they cannot be said to be out of Christ dead or alive, sinful or holy.
The present state of our being is derived from Adam, the earthly nature; and, in a natural sense, we are all in him. Our future state of existence we derive entirely from the heavenly nature; and, therefore, it is said all shall be made alive in Christ. The apostle goes on still further to show the order of the before-mentioned work, arguing, from the first fruits the whole family of mankind. See 1 Cor. xv. 23-25:
But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterwards that that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
Christ is here again spoken of as the first fruits, in the order of the resurrection, which consists of three parts.
First, of Christ himself, who was the first that rose from the dead.
Secondly: Those who are Christ's at his coming, at what the apostle calls the end, which cannot be, until he hath put down all rule authority, and power, and every enemy has submitted; at which time, the Mediator delivers up the kingdom to God, the Father.
Then shall the great work of reconciliation be finished, and the labors of the Redeemer completed with immortal honor. Then shall all the millions of the human race be reconciled to God through Christ, and shall sing; see Rev. v. 11-14:
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; singing with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessings. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. And the fours beasts said, amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down, and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever.
The reader will observe that ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, beasts and elders, first declare the Lamb, who had been slain, to be worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessings; then every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, say, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Then the elders and beasts, who first pronounced him thus worthy, fell down and worshipped him who liveth forever and ever.
There is nothing in all the sacred writings more astonishingly beautiful than this account; neither do I think it possible for the imagination to paint anything half so grand and sublime. I am all astonishment! To realize by faith the accomplishment of this glorious prediction transcends every other thought or idea of which the mind is susceptible.
There is no room for my opponent to argue against the doctrine of universal holiness and happiness while this passage of divine truth lies in sight. There are no expressions left out of this passage that would make it more extensive.
May I not ask the opposer if he be not willing to acknowledge what mysterious powers have acknowledged, that Christ, the dear Lamb who hath been slain, is worthy to receive as extensive worship as is declared in the passage quoted?
When the four beasts and the elders saw universal nature bending before the object of their worship, the immediately fell down, anxious to excel, and worshipped him who liveth forever and ever. If my opponent thinks Christ is not worthy of so much worship, he thinks less of him than I do, and less than I wish he did.
There are yet remaining many passages in the 15th of 1st Corinthians which are in point to prove what I am contending for, even more than is at this time necessary to introduce. A few more, however, may be proper, with some few remarks. See verse 28:
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that did put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
What must we understand by all things being subdued unto him? Will any one say all that is meant by it, is that Christ will then have power over all men whereby he can reward the righteous and torment the wicked? When did he not possess this power? When were not all things in subjection to Christ enough for these purposes? The subjection of all things to Christ must mean something, and it is reasonable to believe that it means the reconciliation of the heart to holiness. Can a soul in sin, employed in blaspheming the Incommunicable Name, be said to be in subjection to Christ in any way that answers to the text? I do not think any will contend for it.
The only subjection which is acceptable to Christ is a broken and contrite heart, which he will not despise. The plan, then, of the Gospel is universal submission to Christ in holiness and happiness.
The delivery of the kingdom of Christ to the Father is declared in the last clause of the passage quoted, of which I have before taken notice in this work, in order to show the dependence of Christ on the Eternal and Self-existent. Then, it is said, "God shall be all in all." (1 Cor. xv. 28.) In what sense will God be all in all at the close of the Redeemer's process that he is not now, or always was? Answer, he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. When all men are brought to love God supremely, and their fellow-creatures as themselves, it will then be manifest that we are nothing only as we exist in God; therefore, God will be all. And as the eternal spirit of love, which is the governing principle of the heavenly man, will be the governing principle of each soul thus reconciled to the law of love, it my be justly said that God is in all. See 1 Cor. xv. 47-49:
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
As we have all been partakers of the earthy Adam, so, the apostle argues, we shall be partakers, in the resurrection, of the Second Adam, whom he calls the Lord from heaven. See verses 51-54:
Behold, I will show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.
If death, sin and sorrow are to remain as long as God exists, how can it be said death is swallowed up in victory? If the apostle believed any part of the family of man would finally be excluded from the blessings of the Gospel, why did he not just hint something of it in this account of the close of the Mediatorial kingdom? Did he consider it a matter of too small a moment to mention? If he did, he is inexcusable for precluding the idea by plain and positive testimony. See his conclusion (1. Cor. xv. 55):
O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If sin remain without end, it being the sting of death, when the question is asked, "O death, where is thy sting?" sin may answer, "Here I am and here I will be in spite of him who undertook to destroy the works of the devil, and here I will boast of my power as long as he does of his, whom angels adore, and I hate!" See Phil. iii. 21:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Observe, who shall change our vile body. In a former quotation it is said, "we shall all be changed"; and in the present passage it is said, "whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." In a former quotation it is said, "And when all things shall be subdued unto him."
Let us hear what our blessed Lord himself says in respect to his mission. St. John v. 22-23:
For the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him.
In the sense in which this passage was spoken, it is evident that the sinner does neither honor the Father nor the Son, and the plain testimony of the text is that all men should honor both.
Compare this with Phil. ii. 9-11:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
As in the other passage the exaltation of the Saviour is first spoken of, and then the grand intention in his exaltation shown; so in this; there it is for the purpose that all men should honor him; and here it is that unto him every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Of this glorious and soul-reviving truth the prophet Isaiah was not ignorant, but speaks of it most clearly. See chap. xlv. 22-25:
Look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seen of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
The reader will observe I have left out some supplied words in the above quotation, by which the passage reads without ambiguity.
Had the inspired prophet been possessed of an accurate knowledge of the dispute in which I am engaged, I do not see how he could have written a sentence more pertinently to my argument; and I have not a doubt but the Spirit intended the passage for the same purpose for which I have used it.
St. Paul, in the eighth chapter of Romans, shows the extent of redemption in so strong terms as to admit of no possible evasion. See Rom. v. 22-23:
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
If the reader will be at the trouble of examining this passage with its connection, that for which I contend will appear plainly proved by it.
There is no end to proofs of universal reconciliation to God; for everything of a moral nature testifies to it, and all material nature is a figure of it. The ministry of reconciliation, which, St. Paul says, was committed to himself and others, is that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses. The truth of Christ's dying for all is the foundation of the apostle's argument on this subject; which truth, the apostle says, he was constrained to believe by the love of Christ; for thus saith he (2 Cor. v. 14, etc.):
The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
I may as well stop here as anywhere, for as I just said, there is no end; and if those Scriptures which I have quoted be true, that which I have endeavored to prove is proved; but if they be not, more of the same testimony would prove nothing.
There is but one method left for my opponent by which he can further oppose me; and that is, by denying the whole system of divine revelation and man's susceptibility of rational ideas. But as that would equally destroy all for which he would contend, he will undoubtedly be cautious.
We now see clearly that it is God's will, according to his eternal purpose, purposed in himself, that all men should finally be holy and happy; that it was the intention of the Saviour's mission; that the prophets, by the spirit of prophecy, long foresaw this universal and godlike glorious plan of grace; that every good principle in man stands up in testimony of so divine a system; that the happiness of all moral beings is wrapped up in the glorious issue of the ministration of reconciliation; and that it is, in reality, opposed by none, but by unreconciled being, unholy principles, and unlawful desires.
And shall we say that the eternal good will of him who dwelt in the bush must fail at last? Must the testimony of the prophets fall to the ground? Must the captain of our salvation, who warred in righteousness, who reddened his garments in his own blood, who bore the sins of the world, and suffered death in agony, to obtain his lawful inheritance, be robbed of them at last? Were this believed in heaven the royal diadem would fall from the head of him whom all the heaven adores, and the highest archangel would faint away! But, blessed be the Lord, and blessed be his truth, its divine power shall cause the Leviathan of infidelity to bite the ground, shall rend the veil which is cast over all nations, and shall more and more manifest divine righteousness and the name in which it is found, in which name alone is salvation.
In the days of the apostles, the greatest object in preaching the Gospel of Christ was to prove him to be the Saviour of the world, the true Messiah of the law, urging that he died for all, that he made no distinction between Jew and Gentile, but had broken down the partition-wall between them, for the glorious purpose of making of the twain one new man in everlasting fellowship and eternal peace. But how hath the gold changed, how hath the most fine gold become dim? The main apparent object, at the present day, is to prove the object of the Saviour's mission, as it respects the salvation of sinners, extremely limited, and that but few of the human race will finally be the redeemed of the Lord to the praise of his glory; that the great adversary of righteousness will obtain a much larger conquest of souls than Christ himself; and, oh, shocking to name, eternal justice is profaned by being called to assist the serpent's designs in the endless duration of sin and rebellion against God!
Those whom the Lord hath blessed with a belief of universal holiness and happiness are proscribed as heretics, infidels, offscourings of the earth, friends to nothing but sin, and enemies to nothing but God and holiness; opening a door to licentiousness of every abominable species, destroyers of the pure religion of Christ, and nuisances to society. But is it, in reality, manifesting a love to sin to argue its total destruction by the power of divine righteousness? Is it manifesting enmity against God and the religion of Jesus to contend for the propriety of all men's serving him in holiness and happiness? And are we nuisances to society because we endeavor to persuade all men to love God and one another? Can these things be displeasing to him who was born in Bethlehem? Will he not rather greatly bless such labors, though performed by those as little esteemed in the world as the poor fishermen who left their nets and followed the despised Nazarene?
Let us ask a few questions. Which reflects the most honor on the divine character, to contend it was necessary for him to create millions of rational creatures to hate him and every divine communication he makes to them to all eternity, to live in endless rebellion against him, and endure inconceivable torments as long as God exists, or to suppose him able and willing to make all his rational creatures love and adore him, yield obedience to his divine law, and exist in union and happiness with himself?
Which reflects most honor on the Saviour, to say that but few will obtain salvation by him, and though he died for all men, yet his death will benefit but few, or to say with the prophet, "He shall see of the travail of the soul and be satisfied, having reconciled all things to God, through the peace made by the blood of the cross"? *
If there be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance, which would yield the most joy to the heavenly hosts, the repentance of one-fourth of mankind or the whole? If the servants of Christ here on earth desire the increase of holiness and the decrease of sin, which would be most agreeable to such a desire, the belief that the greatest part of mankind will grow more and more sinful to all eternity, or to believe that sin will continually decrease, and righteousness increase, until the former is wholly destroyed and the latter becomes universal?
To answer the above questions, so as to favor my opponent's argument, is more than any one would be willing to do; and which, if done, would involve an endless train of ideas too glaringly absurd to be supported. But to answer them agreeably to the nature of divine truth, opens to infinite beauties, more serene than the morning, and more glorious than the noon day. God the fountain of living waters, and the essence of eternal life, is seen, by faith in Jesus, the same to all rational beings, the author, supporter and blesser of them. Christ Jesus, the head of every man, is beheld as the brightness of the Father's glory, and express image of his person, through whom the Eternal hath manifested the riches of his grace, the eternal councils of his love to the world, brought life and immortality to light, and manifested our eternal sonship in the Second Adam.
Each holy desire, as the fruit of the Spirit, in the souls of those who believe, feasts on the rich promises of Abraham's God, believing him faithful who hath promised. Heaven hath already received the heave offering of the first ripe fruits, and the fields are white, ready to harvest. O, ye laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, be ye not idle. What an extensive field is here in which for the mind to expand and send its desires abroad! The transcendant beauties of salvation have visited the dark regions of mortality, as light and heat from the vernal sun visit the cold and dark north, turning frozen lands into fruitful fields, taking the icy fetters from limpid streams which bend their course to the fountain, bringing the time of the singing of birds, and causing the voice of the turtle to be heard.
"I am come," says Jesus, "to send a fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" (Luke xii. 49.) All the passages, which allude to a dispensation of fire, which we have observed, in this work, are direct evidences, to prove the destruction of sin and all sinful works, the purification of sinners, and their eternal reconciliation to holiness and happiness. This fire will either overcome sin, or be overcome by it. But who will argue the latter? If none, then let the former be acknowledged.
If you say, these things appear differently from what you expected they would, before your inquiry; and you find something more interesting than tradition has taught you; if you feel soft, in your mind, towards the so much despised doctrine of universal holiness and happiness; if you can believe heaven large enough to contain mankind, and begin to breathe in the air of unbounded benevolence, and feel faith mingled with your desires for the destruction of sin, and the increase of holiness, then come still further. The knowledge of these things is progressive, and obtained only by degrees. Let us still go on and view the heavenly beauties yet to be unfolded, in the plan of the Gospel.
We well know there are many difficulties to be surmounted; to profess universal salvation will subject some to excommunication from regular churches; others to the pain of being neglected by their neighbors; others to be violently opposed by their companions; and, in many instances, undoubtedly, the father will be against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; and a man's enemies may be those of his own house. But can such difficulties excuse us for not owning him, who, for us, bore the cross and despised the shame?
All denominations, since the world began, have experienced some difficulties in their first establishment. Christ and his apostles wrestled hard, and encountered great opposition, even to the loss of all earthly things, with life itself. Since the apostacy, the denominations which arose out of Popery have, in thousands of instances, suffered more than duty calls us to suffer, in a land of liberty and toleration.
But some will say, there are none who profess the doctrine in my vicinity, except some of the lower class of people; and if I rank myself with them, my titles of honor will do me no good, and my road to the temple of fame will be forever intercepted. One will say I must believe the doctrine, I cannot argue against it, but I will say nothing about it, lest I should be mistrusted; I would gladly embrace the opportunity which Nicodemus did, who went to Jesus by night; but to come out boldly, to the knowledge of the world, is too great a sacrifice. Says another I am convinced of the truth of the doctrine, but I have preached so much against it, have warned my hearers so much to shun that heresy, I am now ashamed to tell them I believe it. Another feels so dependent on his neighbors, he wishes to have them go forward first. All these circumstances, and many more, bear great weight with various persons, in various circumstances, causing great labor of mind; and those who are under such influences may be said to be heavy ladened. We know of no better remedy for those cases, than an attention to the exhortation of Christ, who said (Matt. xi. 28-30):
Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
The reader may judge, from those circumstances, whether this doctrine be pleasing to the carnal mind, as its enemies say. Was it pleasing to the Pharisees of old to be taught by Christ and his disciples, that publicans and harlots should enter the kingdom of heaven before them? Yes, just as pleasing to their carnal minds, as it is to a professed preacher of Christ who can thank God that he is better than other men, to tell him that those upon whom he looks as much viler than himself, stand in no more need of pardon than he does.
St. Paul, before his conversion to Christianity, undoubtedly looked on the doctrine of Christ to be exactly calculated to please wicked men, as the most part of those who were discipled by it, were publicans and sinners; and he well knew, that the foundation of their hope was the forgiveness of sin. This he despised, as did many of his equals in the Jewish religion; feeling themselves whole, they felt no need of a physician. They supposed the Gospel to be a doctrine every way calculated to vitiate and immoralize mankind. Undoubtedly the Pharisees often said of the disciples of Christ, their religion is perfectly suited to their characters; they are sinners, and know not the law; and they have contrived a very easy way to get to heaven.
But if we ask St. Paul, after his conversion, what he thought of these things, he would undoubtedly give a very different account. For when the Lord met him in the way, and gave him to understand his real character, and what he was doing; he was astonished, and fell to the earth; his sins were set in order before him, and his soul was greatly troubled. In this situation, he learned the necessity of the doctrine which he had despised; experienced the necessity of its pardoning mercy; and became as willing to endure persecution, for its sake, as he had been to persecute it before.
When it is understood that Gospel salvation is salvation from carnal mindedness and all its relative ills, to a reconciliation to the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; if all men were thus saved, it would not be argued that it is pleasing to the carnal mind. As the doctrine for which we contend is entirely the reverse of carnal mindedness, so it is equally opposed to licentiousness; for what can be a stronger restraint on the passions than a belief in God's universal goodness, and that all men are the objects of his mercy? Such a belief, when it has its proper effects in the mind, raises a supreme affection for God, and kindles the sacred fire of love and unbounded benevolence to mankind. If any would dispute me on my statement of the consequences of this faith, I have greatly the advantage; as my opponent does not possess this faith, he cannot tell the effects of it so well as one can who does. However, I will not make use of that advantage, having argument in my power that is more than sufficient. Let my adversary state his argument, that we may see the strength of it.
The fact is, he has no argument; he can only assert, "the doctrine is not productive of love to God or man, but the reverse; and if he believed it, he would commit every sin that was in his power." Is it hard to see, that my opponent has made a very fair and full profession of his love to sin, in place of his love to God; and a strong desire to injure his fellow men, in room of serving them in love? What was the elder brother angry for? At what did he grumble? And why did he refuse to go into his father's house? Because the father had received the prodigal, and treated him kindly. (Luke xv. 11-32.) At what did the laborers grumble who bore the burden and heat of the day? Because those who had wrought but one hour received as much as they, and received their money first. (Matt. xx. 1-16.) At what did the Pharisees and scribes murmur, when they saw all the publicans and sinners come to Jesus to hear him? Because he did not condemn them to hopeless despair, but kindly received them. (Luke v. 30, etc.) At what do our opposers rage? At what are they dissatisfied? Not because we exclude them from any privilege, or blessing of the Gospel. What then? We are sorry to name it. It is because we extend those blessings further, and hope they will do more good than what suits them!
As the doctrine of universal holiness and happiness opens an infinite field in which for the mind to expatiate, and learn the goodness of God in all his works and providence, it is the most animating to a benevolent soul of any that was ever believed in our world, and lays the broadest foundation for exhortation to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live sober, righteous and godly lives. How strong are the inducements, from such glorious views of God and his mercy, to lead us to imitate such unbounded goodness in all our intentions and actions. And being fully convinced, that our happiness is in union with our duty, those who fully believe in the consequences of atonement, as we have argued them, will see the propriety of our endeavoring to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance, exhorting them to good works in all faithfulness in whatever situation duty may call them, or whatever the part may be which our heavenly Father hath called them to act, in his divine and delightsome service. The duty enjoined on the believer of this doctrine is as much more extensive than the duty enjoined by any other faith, as the faith itself is more extensive; and its delights are so, likewise.
If a poor man was offered a thousand pounds for a day's labor, it would undoubtedly be a very strong inducement to him to labor. But it is to be observed, in this case, that it is not the labor itself which is the object, but the large sum of money with which the laborer expects to be rewarded. It is not the labor in which the man delights; could he obtain his money, without the work, it would be his choice. But when the labor itself is all the enjoyment, and the whole object is obedience, the laborer will not wish the time short, or the duty small; no, eternity is none too long for the soul to contemplate laboring in the endless delights of obedience to his God.
Those who believe a future state of happiness depends on certain duties performed by them, undoubtedly intend to do those duties sometime before they die; and it is often said that a procrastination of those duties, on which so much depends, is dangerous as life is uncertain; yet they had rather let it alone, until old age deprives them of the common comforts of life; at which time, they may about as well be employed in the dull and disagreeable task of being good as any thing else. But those who consider their duty as their meat and drink, ought not to need much inviting to feed on dainties so rich. We should hardly believe a man to be in his right mind, who, for eating a good meal of victuals, should charge the price of it. "In keeping thy commandments, there is great reward." **
By these observations, the reader will see how needful it is for us, at all times, to attend to our duty, because "now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. vi. 2); to every willing and obedient soul who feels the power of atoning grace, salvation is present. Truly it is said of wisdom (Prov. ix. 1-2.):
She hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
God, in infinite wisdom, has constituted all moral beings so that their duty is their happiness, and strict obedience fulness of joy. Why, then, my brethren, shall we starve? Why live poor? Why should we be so parsimonious of those heavenly stores that can never be exhausted? (Matt. v. 6)
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.
(Luke xi. 9.)
Ask, and ye shall receive; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
God forbids none (Rev. xx. 17.):
The Spirit and the bride say, come; and let him that heareth, say, come.... And whoever will, let him take of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Remember the salvation which God wills is a salvation from sin. Then, as much as you desire salvation, you will wish to avoid sin and wickedness. There are none who would say, they did not want salvation; but how many are there who say, they want it by their own conduct! No man, understandingly, wants salvation, any further than he wants more holiness.
The Universalist, who is really so, prizes his duty as his heaven, as his peace, and his most sublime enjoyment. How then shall we be so lost, so blind, and so deceived, as to wish to shun our duty and our happiness? If we really believe those things, and desire that others may be brought to see and believe the same, let us endeavor, in the first place, to prove to all men that such a belief is of real service in cultivating our morals and in regulating our behaviour. And, secondly, by using our abilities as God hath given, in cool dispassionate reasoning, with those who do not believe; contending for nothing but the pure principles of love, in meekness and all gentleness. Never argue for will sake nor for mastery; and, shunning every appearance of sophistry, never suffer yourselves to be anxious about the issue of conversation; but speak the words of truth and soberness, and leave the event to be directed by the spirit of God. Falsehood is so apt to detect itself, that an argument is generally best conducted, when the disputant is refuted by consequences arising from his own statements; and if he cannot see and understand them for himself, it will do no good to see them for him. If we can see for ourselves, we do well.
If the Lord of the harvest hath graciously been pleased to call you by his grace, to preach the word of his Gospel to his purchased possession; to sound abroad the trumpet of salvation, and to feed the sheep and lambs of the one true shepherd; then remember that it is required of stewards that they are found faithful. St. Paul declared himself a debtor both to the Greeks and Barbarians, to the wise and the unwise. He having received a dispensation of the Gospel, the grace of which belonged to all men, he thereby became a debtor to all. And if we have received a dispensation of the same Gospel, we are debtors to all whom this Gospel concerns.
How happy is a friend, who has good news to communicate to his companions; and surely it is an office much to be desired to carry good news to the distressed. See the officer when he reads a pardon to one who expects immediate death: his soul bursts through his eyes in streams of joy, while he pronounces the words which give life to the dead. But how much more excellent are the labors of those whose feet are beautiful on the mountains, who publish peace in the Redeemer's name, even glad tidings unto all people.
Much watchfulness is necessary, lest the law of the carnal or old man gets the government of the mind. I will venture to say, there never was a preacher more ready, on all occasions, than the old man which we are exhorted to put off; he is willing at all times to assist, never waiting to be called. He has no objections to preaching about Christ, if Christ be not preached. He is perfectly willing to say that salvation is all of God, and that Christ is a whole Saviour; but then it is indispensably necessary that he should do something; such as asking, seeking, knocking; or, if it be only accepting of offered mercy, is all he wants. It may be, the reader will wonder a little at what I here say, as I have just quoted the exhortation, to ask, to seek, to knock, etc.; but I wish to be understood, that we must ask, seek and knock, not in the name or nature of the earthly Adam, but in the name and nature of the heavenly man.
The old serpent, the devil, is never better pleased than when he can do something which he thinks lays God under some obligation to him. If the carnal or old man get so baffled as to be reduced to give up his influence respecting our eternal life in Jesus, he will immediately propose, in his struggles, that all he can do is to ensure a blessed state for some considerable time after we die, say for a thousand years, or any given time; then all must depend on the Saviour. If the earthly Adam can get us up Jacob's ladder a few steps, he is willing that Christ should do something by and by.
Now the object of all those devices, of which we are not ignorant, (as St. Paul says) is to keep us in the service of the flesh ; but remember, he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption. A Pharisee, who feels as if something was coming to him more than others receive, perhaps will not be scrupulous about the exact quantity. He only wishes to have proper attention paid him; if he can flatter himself with a higher seat in heaven than those are to have, on whom he looks as worse than himself, it satisfies his carnal pride. Perhaps a period of punishment for sinners, after death, in which they may be justly corrected, for not being so good and holy as this Pharisee, would give him much satisfaction. He would then be willing to have the poor wretches delivered from absolute misery, and enjoy some small conveniences.
O, how hard it is, to be a humble disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus. It is death to carnal mind. If I preach the Gospel all my life long, spend all my time and strength for the good of mankind, and the honor of my Saviour, shall I not have something more hereafter than one who has mocked and derided me? Answer if I have, in truth and meekness, preached Christ, and have been faithful in his cause, ought I not to be thankful that he has enabled me so to do ? Have I been the loser, unless we are paid in the world to come by having some privilege granted us which another may not enjoy? O, blush, my soul, if thy follies rise so high.
No, every moment's faithfulness has been supplied with streams of divine consolation; and it ought to be remembered, that the preacher never refreshes others, unless he himself is refreshed. If I have professed to preach Christ, but have preached myself in place of him, undoubtedly I may think there is something coming, as my living has been very poor while I have thus labored; but the truth is, our reward has been equal to our service.
I am willing to acknowledge that carnal mind often contends, that I have done so well, I ought in consequence to expect high approbations; and I begin to look down on those whom we fancy of less magnitude. But, O, the viperous sting! Well might an apostle say (Rom. vii. 23),
I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Says the same apostle (Eph. iii. 8),
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Upon what high advantages did he calculate, above those who were much less in labor than himself?
But, says the reader, will not St. Paul fare better than the worst of sinners in eternity? Judge from what he says (1 Tim. i. 15),
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
The more humble we are, the greater our enjoyments. But when all are completely humbled, and perfectly reconciled; when all old things are done away, and all things become new; when he, who sitteth upon the throne, maketh all things new in deed and in truth, we believe all strife, concerning who shall be great in the kingdom of heaven, will be at an end.
Ye, who preach righteousness in the great congregations of the people, forget not the exhortation of the Captain of our salvation: "Learn of me." (Matt. xi. 29.) What good will all our labors do unless we learn of Christ? If we learn of him, he will be unto us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption; and we shall preach, not ourselves, but Christ Jesus our Lord, and ourselves the servants of the people, for Jesus' sake.
Remember, again, the exhortation of him who is the leader and commander of the people, "Search the scriptures." (John v. 39.) Make yourselves acquainted with, and have free recourse to, this great store-house of divine riches, that you may be ready to "deal a portion to seven and also to eight." Ye are the salt of the earth." (Matt. v. 13.) As salt preserves and seasons meats, so that they are acceptable, so ought the ministers of righteousness to endeavor, as far as possible, to preserve mankind from sin, that they may be acceptable members of the church of Christ. (Verse 13 continued:)
But if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
We cannot be profitable to others, unless we have the savor of the Spirit within us; this lost, and we are good for nothing; and in room of having a mouth, and wisdom, to put gainsayers to silence, we shall be overcome by them, and they will tread us under their feet. (Jude i. 3)
Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
But be sure to remember that (2 Cor. x. 4),
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God.
Carnal mind frequently urges the necessity of contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints; but then we must contend in a coat of mail, and with the weapons of him who sought the life of the Son of Jesse. Be prepared to meet every kind of opposition; we must be attacked on every side, the adversary will not leave one stone unturned, nor a weapon in his armor, untried. Be cautious of any system of divinity; remember (Prov. iv. 18):
The path of the just is a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
The moment we fancy ourselves infallible, every one must come to our peculiarities, or we cast them away. Even the truth may be held in unrighteousness. Daniel's God was undoubtedly the true God; but we do not conceive Darius any more the real friend of that God, when he made a decree that all people should worship him, than he was when he made the decree that no petition should be asked of any God or man for thirty days save of himself.
The cause of truth wants nothing in its service but the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. All the divisions and subdivisions which now exist among Christians, or ever have existed, were caused wholly by the want of those graces. Should we be tenacious about certain sentiments, and peculiarities of faith, the time is not far distant when Universalists, who have suffered every kind of contemptuous treatment from the enemies of the doctrine, will be at war among themselves, and be trodden under foot of the gentiles. Having begun in the Spirit, do not think to be made perfect by the flesh. In order to imitate our Saviour, let us, like him, have compassion on the ignorant and those whom we view to be out of the way. Attend to the exhortation (Heb. xiii. 1):
Let brotherly love continue.
If we agree in brotherly love, there is no disagreement that can do us any injury; but if we do hot no other agreement can do us any good. Let us keep a strict guard against the enemy "that sows discord among brethren" (Prov. vi. 19). Let us endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace" (Eph. iv. 3). May charity, that heaven born companion of the human heart, never forsake us; and may the promise of the Saviour be fulfilled concerning us (Matt. xxviii. 20):
Lo I am with you even unto the end of the world.
You have now kind reader, cast your eye over these pages; perhaps you feel to say, "the doctrine of universal holiness and happiness cannot be true, notwithstanding all the author has said in favor of it"; and if so, I condemn you not. The time has been, when I believed as little of the doctrine as you now do; I never adopted the belief of universal holiness and happiness out of choice, but from the force of real or supposed evidence. And I know you cannot believe it on any other ground.
I hope, however, you feel no enmity to so glorious a system of God's grace; I hope you have the spirit of Christ, and wish well to mankind. I have, besure, great consolation in believing that our Redeemer has many faithful servants and loving disciples in the world who do not believe in the extensiveness of salvation as I do, and I often take great satisfaction in feasts of charity with such brethren. St. Peter was undoubtedly a lover of Christ and his Gospel before he was taught by the sea of Joppa to call no man common or unclean. The rest of the disciples, who were dissatisfied with his preaching the Gospel to the uncircumcised, were doubtless possessed of the spirit of Christ, which caused them to glorify God when they had more extensive views of the Gospel, through Peter's communications.
As far as I see men walk in the spirit of love to God and one another, I feel an union with them, whether their particular sentiments are mine or not. Men cannot believe at will; we believe as evidence appears to our mind. The times have been when each denomination has been proscribed, and, in some measure, persecuted. Each as it rose has been censured by those who could not fall in with their doctrine; and what does all this condemning one another prove? -- only the imperfections of all, and the badness of the human heart.
You will not think evil of me, kind reader, if I exhort you not to feel too hard against what you may find to be your duty to acknowledge. It grieved Peter when his Lord asked him the third time, if he loved him, as he had denied him thrice. There are many Universalists now who have frequent occasion to confess how hard they have been against the doctrine, and how much they have spoken unadvisedly with their lips against what they now rejoice to believe is truth, and humbly adore the Saviour of sinners for opening their eyes to behold such unspeakable beauties. If you attend to the exhortation, to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, undoubtedly you may see more of the riches of his goodness than you now do.
The prophet Ezekiel's knowledge of the holy waters was progressive, and obtained by degrees. When he was first led into the waters, they were only to his ankles; but he went still further, and they were to his knees; he went still further, and they were to his loins; he went further, and the waters were risen, waters for men to swim in, a river that no man could pass. Had the prophet refused to travel in these waters after he first entered them, he would not have known nor believed them to be so multitudinous as they were. A soul in the earliest moments of heavenly love is first unspeakably charmed with the untold beauties and graces of his Redeemer; next, wife, children, father, mother, brothers, sisters, all friends; directly enemies; and finally all mankind, are embraced in the extended arms of heavenly love and divine benevolence.
I close this work, humbly hoping and expecting the glorious increase and extensive growth of what I have (though feebly) contended for, viz. the holiness and happiness of mankind. I look with strong expectation for that period when all sin and every degree of unreconciliation will be destroyed by the divine power of that love which is stronger than death, which many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown; in which alone I put my trust, and in which my hope is anchored for all mankind; earnestly praying, that the desire o the righteous may not be cut off.
The fulness of times will come, and the times of the restitution of all things will be accomplished. Then shall truth be victorious, and all error flee to eternal night. Then shall universal songs of honor be sung to the praise of him who liveth forever and ever. All death, sorrow and crying, shall be done away; pains and disorders shall be no more felt, temptations no more trouble the lovers of God, nor sin poison the human heart. The blessed hand of the once crucified shall wipe tears from off all faces. O, transporting thought! Then shall the blessed Saviour see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied, when, through his mediation, universal nature shall be brought in perfect union with truth and holiness, and the spirit of God fill all rational beings. Then shall the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which maketh free from the law of sin, become the governing principle of the whole man once made subject to vanity, once enthralled in darkness, sin and misery, but then, delivered from the bondage of corruption, and restored to perfect reconciliation to God in the heavenly Adam.
Then shall the great object of the Saviour's mission be accomplished. Then shall the question be asked, O death where is thy sting? But death shall not be, to give the answer. And, O grave, where is thy victory? But the boaster shall be silent. The Son shall deliver up the kingdom to God the Father; the eternal radiance shall smile, and GOD shall be ALL in ALL.
* Ballou appears to have combined two Bible passages here. Isa. liii. 11. reads: "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." And Col. 1. 19-29 reads: "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself..."
** Paraphrase of Psalm xix. 11.
Paragraphing and some punctuation altered for clarity. See the Preface to the 2011 Web Edition.