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and which are still in existence: that the sin against the Holy Ghost, which has been deemed so decisive a proof of this doctrine, directly con, futes it, since it affords the most satisfactory evidence, that expressions of this kind do not and cannot denote duration without end, and since the punishment annexed to this crime may be inflicted to the very letter without its being endless: that those minor arguments which are deduced from some expressions and parables of Scripture, are insufficient to establish the doctrine, while some of them afford powerful arguments against it, and that the same is true of the reasonings by which many persons have endeavored to support it.
With regard to the doctrine of Limited Punishment terminated by Destruction, it has been shown, that it is founded solely on terms to which an unscriptural meaning is affixed; that, while it professes to be established on the plain and positive declarations of Scripture, it is countenanced chiefly by a phrase which occurs only in the most highly figurative book of the New Testament, and amidst expressions entirely metaphorical; that this very phrase affords it no other support, than what can be derived from an inference which is so extremely equivocal, that the opposite conclusion may be deduced with equal plausibility; and that, while there is not a single
passage in which the doctrine is expressed in clear and precise terms, there are many with which it is utterly incompatible.
All the objections which are commonly urged against the cheering and benevolent doctrine, that the whole human race will be ultimately restored to purity and happiness, having been thus fully considered, the mind may now be prepared to enter on an examination of the scriptural evidence which appears to favor it.
OF THE SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE IN FAVOR OF THE
DOCTRINE OF THE FINAL RESTORATION OF ALL
It is admitted that the term Universal Restoration no where occurs in the Old or New Testament. It has been adopted in this work merely for the sake of brevity and precision. The doctrine of the Scriptures is, that God is the ruler of the world ; that every event is under his direction, and promotes in its appointed measure the purposes of his wise and benevolent administration ; that the natural and moral evil which prevail are the instruments which his wisdom has chosen, no less than the more obvious blessings of existence, to promote the highest advantage of his intelligent creatures : that, by his almighty and all-perfect superintendence of events, he will secure this result ; that he has placed mankind in a state of discipline, in order to form and to try their characters ; that those who improve their present advantages, will be rewarded after death with endless felicity; that those who neglect and abuse them, and incapacitate themselves for pure enjoyment, will be placed under a painful and lasting discipline, which will correct their evil dispositions and vicious habits, and form in their minds a genuine love of excellence ; that, in order to accomplish these benevolent purposes, he has raised up Jesus Christ,
, whom he has specially and miraculously qualified to execute the most important of them, having with this view revealed to him the glorious gospel, and commissioned him to declare it to the world ; that in reward of the firmness and fidelity with which he executed this most momentous' trust, notwithstanding the danger and suffering to which it exposed him, God has highly exalted him, and made him the medium through which he communicates the greatest blessings to mankind ; that as Jesus revealed the gospel, so he will fulfil its promises, and execute its threatenings; that as he was the instructor of mankind, so he will be their judge ; that to him is committed the direction of the state of discipline to which the wicked will be consigned ; that as the execution of the purposes which are comprehended in this vast and benevolent plan, supposes the government of innumerable intelligent beings, and the superintendence of many great and important events, it is termed a kingdom, of which he is said to be the head ; that he will conduct the govern
ment of this kingdom with perfect wisdom, until it shall have accomplished all the purposes for which it is appointed; until it shall have extirpated sin, destroyed the consequence of it-death, restored universal purity, and produced universal happiness ; that then, being no longer necessary,
; he will resign his office, restore to Him from whom he received it, the power with which he was invested, in order that the great Sovereign of earth and heaven, the Fountain of all being and happiness, may himself“ be all in all.”
Such is the glorious consummation of the Divine dispensations which the Scriptures teach us to expect ! Such are the sublime and cheering truths, the evidence of which is now to be detailed!
The principle on which the following investigation of Scripture is conducted, and on which it is concluded that the passages which will be cited, express or imply these truths, is that which is adopted in the most exact inquiries to which the human understanding is directed. In every philosophical inquiry, it is admitted that that hypothesis ought to be adopted which accounts for all the phenomena with the greatest clearness, and which is attended with the fewest difficulties. Whatever theory best explains acknowledged facts, is universally considered most entitled to regard ; and if it solve the several phenomena easily and simply, while every other hypothesis