« FöregåendeFortsätt »
THE UNIVERSAL RESTORATION:
BETWEEN A MINISTER AND HIS FRIEND.
CONTENTS OF DIALOGUE I. OBJECTION.- That the words everlasting, eternal, &c., are applied to the punishment of the wicked.
ANSWER.–These words are but seldom applied to the misery of the wicked; being connected there with only iwice in the Old Testament, and but six times in the New; and are full as often con. nected with things and times that certainly have had, or will have an end, as they are with the misery of the wicked, &c.
OBJECTIOS.-But the words forever and ever, are applied to the misery of the wicked, &c.
AxWER.–This is a very strong phrase, and would be judged unanswerable, but for certain con. siderations:-1. If the phrase forever and ever intends any period or periods, longer than the word forever, then there must be a proportion, &c. 2. This phrase as applied to future misery cannot inlend endle88 duration. 3. It is more than probable that the lake of fire in which men shall be punisbed with the second death, will be the earth dissolved by the general conflagration, &c.
OEJECTION.- Forever when applied to things of this life and world may end, but being applied 10 things of another state must mean endless.
ANSWER.– The word forever applied to spiritual things and circumstances of another state must for be always understood to mean endless.
OBJECTION.-But does not the phrase forever and ever, in the New Testament, always intend endlirs?
ASSVER.-It doth not. An undeniable instance brought in proof, to which several more might bave been added.
OBJECTIOX.- But is not the Scripture chargeable with a design to mislead men in these words when applied to future misery, unless they intend endless duration? And does not the limiting these words accuse Christ of duplicity and deceit in his threatenings?
AXSWER.-The Hebrew word rendered everlasting properly intends a hidden duration, or period, but not endless.
OBIECTIOF.— The same word everlasting or eternal is in the very same verse applied both to the misery of the wicked and to the happiness of the righteous.
ASSWER.—The very same word is in other places applied to very different things, whose naturos and durations are entirely dissimilar.
OBJETIOX.-But, upon the supposition that the doctrine of endless damnation was true, in what manner might one expect it to be expressed in the Bible ?
AXSWER.-If it was true, there could be no promises, intimations, or even distant hints to the contrary. And it is therefore shown to be false by a number of positive proofs. If there were not prornises and intimations of the General Restoration in the Scripture, the doctrine of endless damna. lion muht be then coneluded to be true, however dark; but the endless happiness of the righteous is pfi forth in much stronger language, and with more abundant force of expression. The endless hap. piness of the righteous stands upon such foundations that can never be overthrown or destroyed; such as their indissoluble union with the original source of life and happiness; their being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, and the promise that they shall live because he lives; and his life is truly
OBSECTION.—That since the wicked have chosen evil, persevered in it through life, it has become a fixel habit in them, from which it would seem as impossible to reclaim them, as to draw off the ju-t from their attachment to God and goodness.
ANSWER.—This reasoning is founded upon the old pagan system of good and evil being two eter. dal co-existing principles. All men are God's creatures, and therefore he will not contend forever, nor be a ways wroth with the souls that he hath made. Satan's kingdom and all evil shall be destroyed, and therefore endless misery cannot have the same permanent foundation an endless happiness. Two things diametrically opposite to each other cannot both exist together to all eternity.
OBJECTION.-Bút does not the word all frequently intend a part only?
ANSWERED.-By giving certain never failing rules, whereby it may be known when the word all means strictly all, or the whole universally without any exception; confirmed by plain instances out of St. Paul's writings.
OBJECTION.-That perhaps by all things being put under Christ, nothing farther may be means than their being brought into a state of forced subjection, or made subject to his control.
ANSWER.-'T'hey are now put under him in this respect, but they are not yet put under him in the sense that they shall be, which implies a state of willing subjection. The word many frequently means all. All things were created by Christ; all rebellious beings shall be subdued by him, and all without exception shall be reconciled by him, and through him, to God.
Friend.—I have taken the freedom to call the presence of the Lord, and from the glory upon you, to have a little discourse with you of his power." concerning the doctrine of the Restoralion of Jude 6, 7. “ And the Angels which kept all Things, which it is said you believe; and not their first estate, but left their own habitato propose some objections.
tion, he hath reserved in everlasting chains anMinister.—1 am happy to see you, and am der darkness, unto the judgment of the great willing to discourse, as well as I am able, ip, day: even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the on any subject that may be agreeable; but I cities about them in like manner, giving themhave always made it a rule never to press the selves over unto fornication, and going after belief of my sentiments upon my friends; and strange flesh, are set forth for an example, sufI can safely say, that, though such great fering the vengeance of eternal fire." pains have been taken by my adversaries, to These texts, together, form such an objecprejudice people against me, I have never tion to the doctrine of the Restoration, that I gone about from house to house to propagate can by no means believe it, unless this can be my opinions; and I make it a universal rule fairly answered, and proofs brought from the not to introduce the subject in conversation, Scriptures to shew, that the words everlasting unless desired; but yet I never have refused and eternal, (which are translations of the to own my sentiments, when asked, respecting same word and synonymous) being connected the matter; and am ready, in the fear of God, with the punishment of the wicked, and their to answer any objections that can be made, to future misery, do not necessarily imply the a doctrine which I believe is plainly revealed continuance of the same while God exists. in the Scriptures of truth, and appears to me Minister.-I am glad that you have so fairly worthy of God.
and fully stated the matter; and I highly comFriend.- I shall first of all bring to view mend your resolution, not to believe the unithat grand objection, which is formed from the versal doctrine, unless this can be answered word eternal or everlasting, being applied to a fully, without any torturing or twisting the future state of punishment; as in the follow. Scriptures; and if I am not able with God's ing passages : Isaiah xxxiii. 14. “ The sin- assistance, to remove this difficulty, I will ners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath sur- publicly recant my sentiments. prised the hypocrites. Who arnong us shall But, before I come to give a direct answer, dwell with the devouring fire? Who among I would beg leave to remark how very seldom us shall dwell with everlasting burnings." this word is used to express the duration of
Dan. xii. 2. “ And many of them that sleep punishment. We should think, by some ser in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to mons we hear, that everlasting is applied to everlasting life, and some to shame and ever- misery in every book of the New Testament, lasting contempt.”
if not in every chapter. A friend of mine told St. Matt. xviii. 8. “Wherefore, if thine me, that he was once preaching in Maryland, hand or thy foot offend thee (or cause thee to and after sermon a man came and asked him offend) cut them off, and cast them from thee; of what denomination he was. To which he it is better for thee to enter into life halt or answered, a Baptist. I think, says the man, maimed, rather than having two hands, or two that you do not preach up so much everlasting feet, to be cast into everlasting fire."
damnation as the Baptists and Methodists St. Matt. xxv. 41. " Then shall he say also among us do. To which my friend replied, unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye everlasting damnation is found in the Scripcursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the ture. True, answered the man; but some devil and his angels.” Verse 46." These preachers give us more of it in one sermon shall go away into everlasting punishment, ihan is to be found in the whole Bible. The but the righteous into life eternal or everlast- truth of this remark will appear, if we consiing.” The same word in the original being der that St. Luke never uses the word aionion, used for both, though varied by the translators. or everlasting, as connected with the misery St. Mark. iii. 29. " But he that shall blas- of the wicked, in his gospel; nor St. Mark pheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never but once, and then in a particular case only. forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal dam- In the gospel of St. John, it is not to be found nation.
at all in that connexion, nor in any of his episy 2 Thess. i. 7, 8, 9. - The Lord Jesus shall | tles: in the account of the preaching of the be revealed from heaven with his mighty an- apostles through the world, in the first age of gels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them Christianity, we do not find it mentioned, in that know not God, and that obey not the gos- that light, so much as once: no, not in all the pel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be sermons, and parts of sermons, wbich St. Luko the doctrine of everlasting damnation is the there is, of necessity a change also of the law' substance of many modern discourses. St. for he of whom these things are spoken perPanl never mentions everlasting destruction taineth to another tribe, of whom no man gave but once, though his writings form a conside- attendance at the altar: for it is evident that rable part of the New Testament. Neither our Lord sprang out of Judah ; of which tribe are such words found in the Epistle of St. Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. James, or in those of St. Peter, and but three And it is yet far more evident, for that, after times in the Gospel of St. Matthew: and on- the similitude of Melchisedek, there ariseth ly twice in all the Old Testament. But was another priest, who is made not after the law the word aionion applied to misery but orice of a carnal commandment, but after the power in the whole Bible, it would deserve a serious of an endless life: for he testifieth that, thou consideration; and unless the force of it can art a priest forever, after the order of Melchibe removed by the authority of the Scriptures, sedek: for there is verily a disannulling of the it must remain an unanswerable objection. commandment going before for the weakness Bot I shall proceed to answer it, by bringing, and unprofitableness thereof.” Heb. vii. 12, an equal number of passages where the word 18. The whole sum of the apostle's arguererlasting is applied to things and times, that ment, in this epistle, tends to prove that the have had, or must have, an end. As in the everlasting ordinance is now no more ; and the following passages: Gen. xvii. 7, 8. “And I everlasting priesthood of Aaron and his sons is will establish my covenant between me and now abolished. thee, and thy seed after thee, in their genera- Another passage where the word everlasting tions, for an ererlasting covenant; to be a God is evidently used in a limited sense, is Numb. unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I xxv. 11, 12, 13, where we read thus: “ Phinewill give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, has, the son of Eleazer, the son of Aaron the the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; children of Israel while he was zealous for my and I will be their God.” Verse 13. “ He sake among them, that I consumed not the that is born in thy house, and bought with thy children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore money, must needs be circumcised : and my say, behold, I give unto him my covenant of covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlast- peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after ing covenant."
him, even the covenant of an everlasting priestHere note that the land of Canaan is called hood: because he was zealous for his God, an ererlasting possession; and the covenant and made an atonement for the children of of circumcision in the flesh, an everlasting co- Israel.” venant, though it is certain that the land of if the word everlasting intends endless duraCanaan, as well as the other parts of the earth tion, how shall we be able to reconcile this most be dissolved or melted, in the general promise with the total cessation of the Leviticonflagration; and circumcision is now de cal Priesthood? As for the family of Phineclared null and void by the Holy Ghost; and has, with whom this covenant of an everlasting the ceremony cannot endure to endless ages. priesthood was made, it was entirely deprived
of the same kind are the following pas- of the benefit of the same, within the space of szges: Gen. xlviii. 3, 4. “And Jacob said four hundred years; for when the sons of Eli unto Joseph, God almighty appeared to me at transgressed the covenant, by profaning it, Loz, in the land of Canaan, and blessed me: God sent him word, that as they had broken and said unto me, behold, I will make thee it on their parts, it was entirely, and to all infruitful, and multiply thee, and will make of tents and purposes, dissolved. Read 1 Sam. thee a multitude of people; and will give this ii. from the beginning of the 12th verse to the land to thy seed after thee, for an everlasting end of the 17th, and from the 27th to the end possession." And in the blessing of Joseph of the chapter: and also, chap. iii. 11, 12, 13, he says, “ The blessings of thy father have 14.. prevailed above the blessings of my progeni- I will transcribe verse 30, of the second tors, unto the utmost bound of the everlasting chapter in proof of my point. " Wherefore biils." By which, I suppose, the hills of the Jehovah, God of Israel, saith, I said indeed, land of Canaan were meant.
that thy house, and the house of thy father God saith to Moses, Exod. xl. 15. “ And should walk before me for ever: but now thou shalt anoint them (Aaron's sons) as thou Jehovai saith, be it far from me, for them didst anoint their father, that they may min- that honor me, I will honor; and they that ister unto me in the priest's office; for their despise me, shall be lightly esteemed.” Hoanointing shall surely be an everlasting priest- phini, and Phinehas, were soon after slain in hood, throughout their generations.” Lev. one day; and Saul the King of Israel, sent Ivi. 84. “ And this shall be an everlasting sta- Doag the Edomite, who fell upon the priests tute onto you, to make an atonement for the and slew fourscore and five persons, who children of Israel for all their sins, once a year; wore a linen ephod, in one day. And Nob, and he did as Jehovah commanded Moses." the city of the priests, smote he with the edge
The apostle declares, that these everlasting of the sword; both men, and women, and ordinances were only till the time of Reforma- children, and sucklings, and 'oxen, and asses, tion, Heb. ix. 10, and this everlasting priest- and sheep, with the edge of the sword.”. 1 hood of Aaron's son, had ceased long ago: Sam. xxii. 19. The whole house of Phine" For the priesthood being changed (by Christ) has seems to have been destroyed at this time except Abiather; and when Solomon came to misery of the wicked shall endure for ever and the throne he thrust him out from being priest, ever. " that he might fulfil the word of JEHOVAH, Minister.-Indeed they are terrible threatwhich he spake concerning the house of Eli, nings; and no doubt will be fully executed. in Shiloh," 1 kings, ii. 27. From this time
Friend.-But, do you imagine that such pasthe house of Ithamar had the priesthood. sages as the following can intend less than
It is so evident that the word which is trans- endless misery? Rev. xiv. 11. “And the lated everlasting, cannot in the nature of smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever things, absolutely signity, without end, that I and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, should not think it worth while to quote any who worship the beast and his image, and more passages in proof of its intending age or whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." ages, only, were it not constantly used as a Rev. xix. 3. 6. And here smoke rose up for great objection against the universal Restora- ever and ever.” Rev. xx. 10. 6. And the tion; I shall, therefore, instance two or three devil, that deceiveth them, was cast into the more in particular, in this place, and refer to lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast a great number of others, of the same kind; and the false prophet are, and shall be torall tending to prove the same thing. Heb. iii. mented day and night, for ever and ever." 6, " The everlasting mountains were scatter- Minister.-I confess you have proposed a tered, the perpetual hills did bow.'' The gos- difficulty that I should judge to be unanswerapel is called “ The everlasting gospel," Rev. ble, were it not for the following consideraxiv. 6, yet it must cease to be preached, when tions: it shall be needed no longer. Jonah saith, 1st. If forever and ever is a longer time than “ The earth with her bars was about me for- forever, which must be granted; then is there ever; yet hast thou brought up my life from some proportion between themi thus, if forcorruption; 0 Jehovah, my God.” Jonah ii. ever intends an age, period, or sometimes a ges; 6. But it would be the highest absurdity forever and ever, may intend ages, an age of upon the supposition that the word Legnolam, ages, but any proportion at all between two here rendered forever, properly signifies with periods supposes both to have an end, or there out end, for him to say, that his life was could be no proportion. brought up from corruption; and, therefore, 2dly. I find a time promised, when, “ there we know that he could not use it in that sense, shall be no more death; neither sorrow nor because, on the third day, he was delivered crying; neither shall there be any more pain; from his dreadful prison. There is no doubt for the former things are (or shall then be) but the time that he was there, seemed an age, passed away. And he that sat upon the and, while he was thus shut up, there was no throne said, behold, I make all things new. intermission to the darkness, and distress that And he said unto me (John) write; for these overwhelmed him; and, therefore he might words are true and faithful.” Rev. xxi. 4.5. say, with propriety, that earth, with her bars 3dly. I think there is sufficient reason, from was about him, forever (i. e. perpetually with the words of St. Peter, in his second epistle, out cessation) during the period he remained 3d chapter, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12th verses, to in the fish's' belly; which appeared to him, conclude, that as the earth was once overflowas a long age indeed. But, as it would be a ed with water, and became truly a lake of work of much time and labor to mention all water, wherein the world of ungodly men perthe passages where the word translated for- ished; so, by the general contlagration, the ever, evidently intends only an age, or period, same shall become literally the lake of fire I shall just direct you to the following; which and brimstone, in which the wicked shall be you may look over at your leisure.
punished after the day of judgment: but I Gen. xiii. 15. xliii. 9. xliv. 32.—Exod. xii. also think, that the 13th verse of the same 14, 17, 24. xxi. 6. xxvii. 21. xxviii. 43. xxix. chapter, compared with Rev. xxi. 1. Isaiah 9, 28. xxx. 21. xxxi. 16, 17. xxxii. 13.-Lev. Ixv. 17. lxvi. 22, more than intimates, that iii. 17. vi. 13, 18, 20, 22. vii. 34, 36. x. 9, 15, the new heaven and earth shall be created out xvi. 29, 31. xxiii. 14, 21, 31, 41. xxiv. 3. xxv. of the substance of the old, dissolved by the 30, 46.-Numb. X. 8. xv. 15. xviii. 8, 19. fire; that the new earth shall no more have a xix. 10.—Deut. iv. 40. xv. 17. xviii. 5, 28, sea therein, seems to imply, that in its former 46.- Josh. iv. 7. xiv. 9.-1 Sam. ii. 30. iii. state, it had a sea, or why this expression, 13. xxvii. 12. xxviii. 2.–1 Kings, xii. 7.—2 "and there was no more sea."—Now, if this Kings, v. 27.-2 Chronicles, x. 7.
hypothesis is right, the following will be the Here are more than fifty passages, where true state of the case, viz. the word rendered for ever intends only age, or The lake of fire is expressly declared to be ages; to which many more might be added. "the second death," Rev. xx. 14. The earth,
Now the rule for understanding words is in its burnt, melted and dissolved state will this :—What must be the meaning of the be the general lake of fire and brimstone acword, in many places, and what may be the cording to the verses above cited from St. meaning in all; is the true sense of the Peter. There will be a new heaven and a same.
new earth, created out of the substance of the Friend. Although the single word forever, old, in which there will be no more sea, either in these passages, seems evidently to intend of water, or of liquid fire; consequently the certain unknown limited periods; yet what lake of fire, or second death, (which are de
course, the punishment of the second death them. Try, for instance, to reconcile Psalm must then cease.
cii. 25, 26, with Psalm cxlviii. 6. “Of old 4thly. The smoke of their torments is to as- hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and cend up for ever and ever, and they are to be the heavens are the work of thy hands. They tormented day and night. But, as the smoke shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of of their burning earth must cease, when its them shall wax old like a garment; as a vessubstance is entirely dissolved or melted, and ture shalt thou change them, and they shall all combustible bodies are consumed; and be changed. He hath also established them as it is intimated in Job xxvi. 10, that day for ever and ever; he hath made a decree which and night shall come to an end; and in Rev. shall not pass.” wi. 25, it is said of the New Jerusalem, “ And Now, if the words forever and ever signify the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, without end, then there is a contradiction that for there shall be no night there.” For all cannot be reconciled; but only understand these reasons, I cannot be altogether persuad- them ages of ages, (as, indeed, they ought to ed, that their being tormented day anıl night, be rendered) and the whole difficuliy vanishes forerer and ever, during which time the smoke at once. of their torment shall constantly ascend, is Suppose a person should read Rev. xx. 11. quite equal to endless misery, especially as and xxi. 1. " And I saw a great white there shall come a time when death shall be throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose no more, pain shall be no more, sorrow shall face the earth and the heaven fled away; and be no more, smoke shall probably ascend no there was found no place for them. And I more, and peradventure, night shall be no saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the
first heaven and the first earth were passed 5thly. But the great reason of all, why I away; and there was no more sea :” and do not conceive that forever and ever, doth should then say, these visions cannot be true, certainly intend endless duration, is because I because Solomon haih said, “ One generation find the words as often used for times and passeth away, and another cometh, but the periods, that must have an end, as you find earth abideth for ever." Eccl. i. 4. • And them used for the misery of the wicked.- God laid the foundations of the earth, that it You bring three passages, which are all that should not be removed, for ever.” Psalm civ. are to be found in the whole Bible, where 4. " The world also is established that it they are used in that sense; I shall now in- cannot be moved.” Psalın xciii. 1. See validate those evidences for endless damnation, also Psalm lxxviii. 69, and xcvi. 10. What by bringing an equal number of texts where would you think of such reasoning? Just so you will allow the words are used in a limit- weak, must all the reasoning against the unied zense.
versal Restoration be, from the words for ever Prierul.-Is it possible that you can find and for ever and ever, being applied to states any such passages in the Bible ? Pray shew of future misery, if God had promised to put them to me.
an end to them all, by reconciling all things Minister.Isa. xxx. 8. “Now go, write it to himself, destroying sin, and introducing a before them in a table, and note it in a book, new creation, and a state of universal and that it may be for the time to come, for ever permanent happiness: for if such promises arderer."
really exist, and their existence can be deSee Jer. vii. 1,7. The 7th verse is, " Then monstrated, all reasoning against them must will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the be vain and futile. land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and Friend.-It is certain that when the word trer.”
forever is applied to things of this life Jer. Ixv. 5. “Turn ye again, now, every and the world, it intends a period ; but one from his evil way, and every one from when applied to spiritual matters, and things the evil of your doing, and dwell in the land of another world, it must be endless, according that Jehovas hath given unto you, and to to my judgment; and I am apt to think, you your fathers, for ever and ever.”
will find it so too. These passages are as many, and as strong- Minister. I am certain that you will soon is expressed, as those which you brought to be convinced to the contrary. The apostle, prose endless misery; and yet nothing can be speaking of Christ, says, " But this man, more evident than that they cannot intend after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for entiens duration. Here, these periods must ever sat down on the right hand of God; from be limited by the great conflagration; and henceforth expecting till his enemies be made thas (for ought that appears as yet) the mise- his footstool.” Heb. x. 12, 13. You will ry of the wicked may be limited notwithstand- please to notice, that Christ's sitting down in ing the use of those expressions, to set forth the heavens, on the right hand of God, is not its dreadful continuance to unknown ages; at a circumstance belonging to this world or the least, those words do not necessarily imply, things of time; and he is to set there forever ; that they shall never, as long as God lives, be and yet that period, which according to your delivered from their sins and consequent suf- hypothesis must be endless is expressly limitferings.
ed by the sacred writings. The heavens have If we were always to read for ever and ever, received him, “until the times (seaso endless, we should set the scriptures at vari- ages) of restitution of all things,” (that is till ance; and no criticism could ever reconcile the beginning, and not the ending of those