Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Ps. xxxiv. 8: “ O taste and see that the Lord is good.Ps. lii. 1: “ The goodness of God endureth continually." Psalm cxlv. 9: “ The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. 1 John iv. 8: " GOD


66 IS LOVE."

If there be any foundation for the doctrine of Endless Misery, or of absolute, irrevocable Destruction, these passages are not true. The doctrine of Endless Misery teaches, that God created the great majority of mankind to make them miserable ; that he called them into being with no other view than to glorify his justice by their eternal condemnation, and that, from all eternity, he fore-ordained them to this horrid fate. To say of such a Being that he is good, that his very nature is love, that his tender mercies are over all his works, and that his goodness endureth continually, is to destroy all distinction between tenderness and cruelty, and to identify malevolence with benignity.'

If it be said that he treats the elect with benevolence, and that these expressions relate only to these favored individuals, it is replied, that this is an assumption which is unsupported by the shadow of proof; for these passages do not affirm that he is good to the elect, but that he is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works.

If he elected a few individuals to happiness, and decreed the great majority to Endless Misery, how can there be any truth in the declaration, that he is good to all? And if the greater number are to be doomed to torment, day and night, without intermission, for ever; if, in the anguish of their souls, they incessantly cry to him for mercy, beseeching him to lighten or shorten their suffering ; and if he behold their misery without pity, and turn a deaf ear to their supplications, how can his tender mercies be over ALL his works, or his goodness endure continually?

Nor is the doctrine of Destruction consistent with these passages; for according to this opinion the wicked will be raised from the dead, afflicted with terrible and unremitted anguish, for a very protracted period, and then blotted out of existence for ever; so that, upon the whole, they must be incalculably more miserable than happy. Even if the contrary should be maintained, and it should be said that they will enjoy more than they suffer, still, according even to this concession, these passages can be true only in the lowest sense.

But if the Deity design and pursue the ultimate felicity of all his intelligent creation, what a light and glory do they shed on his character, and how perfectly do they accord with the noblest ideas we can form of the object of his dispensations !

3. The final restoration of all mankind to purity and happiness is favored by those passages which speak of God as merciful.

Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7: “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin.” 2 Chron. xxx. 9: “ The Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you if you return unto him." Psalm cii. 8: “ The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”

These repeated declarations of the compassion and clemency of God cannot be true, if through the ages of eternity he refuse to be reconciled to the great majority of his creatures. It is vain to endeavor to prove that he is merciful, on the ground that he is willing to forgive the penitent sinner in the present state ; for not to mention that, if there be any truth in the common doctrine of the Divine decrees and of election, the pretension is an idle mockery; were his elemency restricted to this life, he would have infinitely less claim to the character of merciful, than that man would possess who should inflict the most intolerable suffering on another for the space of eighty years, without shewing any disposition to relent except for a single liour. There is, indeed, an utter disproportion between the

two cases, because this life compared to eternity is inconceivably less than an hour compared to eighty years.

They who contend that the mercy of God is restricted to the present life, ought to remember that they have no scriptural authority for this opinion. Such a notion is never inculcated in the Old or New Testament. There is not a single passage from which it can be fairly deduced. Those which might seem to favor it have been fully considered. The declarations of Scripture are not--The Lord is merciful and gracious, but his clemency is limited to the present state : he is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy, but he becomes implacable and inexorable the moment this life terminates: its language is - The Lord is merciful and gracious ; slow to anger and plenteous in mercy : he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities ; for as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is bis mercy towards them that fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from

Like as a father pitieth his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him: for he knoweth our frame: he remembereth that we are dust."

If he place his offending offspring under a discipline which corrects their evil dispositions, and forms in their hearts a genuine love of excel.


lence, this beautiful and affecting description of the Deity is just; but if he doom them to into

: lerable, unremitted, and unending anguish, or if, after having made them suffer the utmost penalty of their crimes, he blot them out of existence for ever, every syllable of it is false!

4. The ultimate happiness of every individual of the human race is favored by all those passages which positively deny that God will be angry for ever.

Psalm xxx. 5:“His anger endureth but for a moment." Psalm ciji. 9: “ He will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever." Ps. lxxvii. 7-12: “ Will the Lord cast off for ever, and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever ; doth his promise fail for evermore ? Hath God forgotten to be gracious; hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, This is my infirmity: I will remember the

years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord. I will meditate on thy work, and talk of thy doings.” Isaiah lxvii. 16 : “ I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wrath : for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made."

How different is this description of the disposition and conduct of the Deity from that which is exhibited by the doctrines of Endless Misery, and of total and eternal Destruction !

« PreviousContinue »