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IN WHICH IS SHOWN THE PECULIAR ABSURDITY AND FATAL TEN
DENCY OF THE MODERN SCHEME OF UNIVERSAL SALVATION.
BY NATHANIEL EMMONS, D. D.
The doctrine of Universal Salvation is of great antiquity. It was first received and propagated by Origen and Clement of Alexandria, who lived in the latter end of the second century. They maintained, that God will, through the medium of the gospel, make all mankind eventually happy, though he will punish all who die in impenitence and unbelief, until they have received the due reward of their deeds, and are completely purged from their moral depravity, and become meet for the kingdom of heaven. This original scheme of universal salvation has been handed down from age to age, with a few modifications and shades of difference. But Mr. James Relly a few years since, formed a different scheme of universal salvation, which he founded upon a supposed personal union between Christ and the whole human race. By virtue of this mystical union, he supposes, that all men, whether penitent, or impenitent, will immediately, after death, go to heaven and be completely and forever happy there.
“ That Christ as mediator was so united to mankind, that his actions were theirs, his obedience theirs, and his sufferings theirs, and consequently he has as fully restored the whole human race to the divine favour, as if they had all obeyed and suffered in their own persons. The divine law has now no demands upon them, nor condemning power over them. Their salvation solely depends upon their union to Christ, which God established before the world began. Accordingly, they being in him, as branches in the vine, as members in the body, &c. they are considered together with him, through all the circumstances of his birth, life, death, resurrection, and glory. Thus considering the whole law fulfilled in Jesus, its precepts obeyed, its penalties endured, he now inherits the promise : and thus standing in him, and united to him, through all his doings, and sufferings, his condition, and state is theirs. And they can read the law, or the doctrine of rewards and punishments, without fear; because all the punishments threatened in the book of God, have been executed upon them (as sinners and law-breakers) in him.” This is the corner-stone or sole foundation, which supports the scheme of universal salvation, as maintained by Mr. Relly, Mr. Murray, Dr. Huntington, and all their unlearned, unstable, and deluded followers. If this should give way, their whole fabric falls to the ground, and their hopes perish. Though thiş novel doctrine may meet the wishes of those who are under the dominion of an unholy heart; yet it deeply concerns them to inquire whether it be true, before they build their future and eternal hopes upon it. And whoever will
seriously and impartially consider the few following observations, it may be hoped, will be convinced, that it is repugnant to reason, scripture, and the plain dictates of common sense.
In the first place, the union, upon which this doctrine is founded, is entirely false and visiona y. It is impossible to conceive, that all mankind were personally “ with Christ through all the circumstances of his birth, life, death, resurrection, and glory.” For he was born of the virgin Mary ; was circumcised the eighth day; was baptized by John in Jordan ; was forty days and forty nights in the wilderness ; was betrayed by Judas ; was condemned by Pilate ; was crucified between two malefactors; was buried by Joseph of Arimathea ; and was raised from the dead by the Father, and seated at his own right hand in glory. Had there been such a supposed personal union between Christ and all mankind, by which his obedience, sufferings, and glory are theirs; then they must all now be conscious of having the same views, the same affections, and the same sorrows that he had, while he lived and when he died; and of the same glory and blessedness which he now enjoys in heaven. But where is the man, who is conscious of being personally united with Christ, in all these stupendous scenes of his birth, life, death, resurrection, and glory! If it be said, that this is an unfair representation of the matter; and that by “ Christ's being in mankind and their being in him," is only intended, that according to a certain divine constitution, God considers what Christ did and suffered as being done and suffered by mankind personally ; the answer to
this is obvious. No divine constitution or appointment whatever, could make Christ's personal obedience and sufferings theirs. A divine constitution cannot alter the nature of things, nor effect impossibilities. Who can conceive that it is now in the power of the Supreme Being, by a new positive constitution, to make Christ the betrayer of Judas, the crucifier of his crucifiers, and the perpetrator of all the sins that ever have been committed in the world? But it is no more impossible for God to do this now, than it was from eternity, to make a constitution by which, not only the actions of Christ and of Judas, but the actions of Christ and of all mankind should be the same.
The supposition of a divine constitution relieves no difficulty here. The notion that all mankind were “ with Christ through all the circumstances of his birth, lise, death, resurrection, and glory,” is as absurd as the doctrine of transubstantiation, of which no man can form an idea. The doctrine, therefore, which is built upon such a false and visionary union, is repugnant to the plainest dictates of reason and common sense.
Nor, in the second place, is it less contradictory to the whole current of scripture, which assures us, that all unrenewed, unholy, impenitent sinners are unfit for, and shall never be admitted into the kingdom of heaven. Our Saviour said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Paul said, “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” And Solomon said, “ The wicked is driven away in his wickedness : but the righteous hath liope in his death." These, with a multitude of other passages of scripture, which might be adduced,