« FöregåendeFortsätt »
We will close our numerous quotations to this point (and far more numerous they might be made) with an interesting and most affectionate passage from the 2d Epistle of John, as follows: The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever: Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.'
Such are the Scripture associations of the truth of God. I believe it is not to be found in any other, or in any different association in the sacred writings. This divine perfection is there found constantly united with the amiable qualities of mercy, goodness, love, and the like; and is particularly pledged for the fulfilment of God's promises, and for the accomplishment of his gracious and benevolent purposes. Indeed, it cannot be consistently imagined that God has, or that he ever had, any purposes which are not benevolent; and hence the accomplishment of his truth must result in the display of his invariable and unlimited goodness, his unbounded mercy, and his everlasting love.
Mercy and truth are met together; they are united, and can never be separated. Men have attempted to separate them; and in human creeds and confessions of faith they have been set in opposition to each other. Hence, in sermons and religious publications, it has often been stated, in substance, that with respect to legions of devils, once angels in heaven, and myriads of the human race, the truth of God will continue forever disunited with mercy and love, and in close conjunction with eternal wrath and misery; and thus, instead of truth and mercy, truth and vengeance are to meet and embrace each other in an indissoluble union. Yet in all the Bible, no such an association can be found. We read of truth and mercy; truth and grace; truth and love. We are told of goodness and truth, kindness and truth, faithfulness and truth. We meet with righteousness and truth, salvation and truth, life and truth, and of abundance of peace and truth. But we never read in the Scriptures of wrath and truth, of truth and vengeance, or of death and eternal damnation and truth.
Now, how is this to be accounted for? or what is the just inference arising from it? It is clearly this, that the doctrine
of eternal wrath and vengeance, of endless punishment and misery, has no foundation in truth; and therefore is never, in all the Scriptures, placed in connexion with this glorious attribute of the divine nature. But, as already observed, the truth of God, the unchanging veracity and fidelity of Jehovah, is uniformly found in close alliance, in endearing association, with the amiable qualities, the eternal principles of mercy and goodness, benevolence and love.
Why is it, let it again be asked, that in all the Bible, the declaration of God's eternal and immutable truth, is in no instance found connected with wrath and vengeance, with endless punishment and misery? From the writings and from the preaching of many learned divines, we should expect to meet with such an association in nearly every chapter. Some of them tell us that God from all eternity hath 'elected some men and angels to everlasting life, and fore-ordained the rest to everlasting death;' and that the truth of God is engaged to carry into full effect, this eternal decree and fore-ordination. Others, who reject with abhorrence this supposed original decree and determination, still insist upon it that endless punishment and misery are agreeable to the truth of God, and necessarily connected with it; which, if more plausible, is not in reality more consistent, than the other theory. For this represents the infinite evil of endless despair and misery as existing according to the perfect foreknowledge of the Deity, unnecessitated by his predetermination, but in opposition to his will, and contrary to his original purpose.
This I take to be a fair representation; for even according to an approved orthodox catechism, Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever;' consequently, if in any instance this end shall fail to be realized, it must be contrary to the original design of the Creator; in which case it necessarily follows, either that the omniscient Jehovah changes his views with respect to mankind, or else that he is unable to accomplish them; and is therefore defeated in his purposes, and disappointed in his counsels. But can either of these results be imagined in relation to the Supreme Being, of whom the prophet declares that he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working?' The very thought is blasphemous. It goes, in its meaning, as the apostle says, to change the truth of God into a lie,' and to annihilate his infinite perfection. Rather, we repeat, 'Let God be true, but
every man a liar;' and with gratitude let it be forever remembered, that the truth of God is inseparably connected with his mercy and love, his gracious promises, and his immutable. benevolent designs; - designs and purposes, which embrace all mankind, for the accomplishment of which the truth and faithfulness of God and his almighty power are firmly pledged, and to which divine justice cannot be opposed; for Jehovah is 'a just God and a Saviour;' and he will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth'even the truth of their salvation.'
The subject furnishes an apology, if any were necessary, for Universalist ministers, in relation to their peculiar style of preaching. They have been accused of usually choosing the most encouraging texts, and of dwelling, with great zeal and emphasis, upon the mercy and love of God, his infinite compassion, his tender regard for the human race, and the impartial and unchanging purposes of his grace. We believe they are often justly liable to the charge, and we wish they may never be less so; for these are divine principles and qualities to which, as we have seen, the truth of God is, by the inspired writers, particularly appropriated, and with which it is associated in a union never to be dissolved. Whereas, should they declare the terrors of divine and interminable wrath and never-ending punishment, they would teach for doctrines, the unauthorized opinions and traditions of men ; doctrines with which the truth of God is never found united to which its sacred seal is never affixed in all the Bible.
And are there any who are better pleased with the preaching of these latter doctrines, than with that of the former? Who are they? They can be none other than those described by St. Paul, who turn away their ears from the truth,' and who are turned into fables.' Shall we further quote the apostle's description, particularly of teachers of this character? For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.' But, however withstood, opposed, or reproached, let not the ministers of 'grace and truth' be ashamed or afraid to preach the truth as it is in Jesus;' but having themselves received mercy, let them not
faint, but by manifestation of the truth, commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.'
Appropriate to the subject is the following poetic fragment, with which we close the article:
'Whate'er your arts, ye powers of hell, suggest,
Confus'd, you search your dreadful rolls in vain ;
Funeral and Sepulchral Rites.
THE love of life is scarcely more natural, than the desire which every man feels of living in the memory of those he has left behind him, after he shall have passed off the stage of earthly existence. To die and be forgotten, to be blotted out from the book of human remembrance, to enter the shades of an eternal night, and not leave a single memorial to tell the world that we once were rejoicing like themselves in the light of the sun, is an idea at which the mind instinctively revolts, and which can find no abiding place, except in the bosom of the misanthropist. The sentiment, so prettily expressed by the bard, has more of poetry than philosophy or truth in it:
'Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
I very much doubt whether there ever was a mind that could sympathize with the poet in this wish. The passion of vanity itself, which is bound up in the heart of man, precludes the adoption of a sentiment which would consign him to eternal oblivion. A feeling the very reverse of this, generally pervades the human mind, and to immortalize one's name, and render it eminently conspicuous in the temple of fame, has been an object, to attain which, ambition has driven her blood-stained car over bleeding millions of the human race, life has been sacrificed to toil and privation, and everything hazarded, the possession of which is valuable. The short period of existence which falls to us in the common allotment of nature, does not satisfy the mind; we seek to prolong it as far as possible, and therefore we desire, that after our bodies shall have returned to their original elements, we may still 'have a name to live,' and that that name 'shall flourish in immortal youth.' Nor is this feeling merely selfish and confined exclusively to our own case. When the body is deposited in its narrow bed, when earth is committed to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,' and every attendant solemnity seems to assure us that a final separation has taken place, we cannot leave the hallowed spot where a beloved friend reposes, and with stoical indifference suffer every fond recollection, like letters written on the sand of the sea-shore, to be effaced by the first trivial occurrence that we meet with in life's journey. No; memory will hover over the spot of departed worth, and frequently shall affection lead its votary to revisit the tomb in which are the mortal remains of one so dearly cherished. We shall feel, (what will no less affect us, though it be the mere creature of fancy,) that we are discharging a debt of gratitude, and that his disembodied spirit receives the offering with pleasure. To the influence of such feelings as these, we may attribute the erection of the monumental brass, sacred to the memory of worth and virtue, or the more lasting strains of the poet, who has celebrated in immortal song the deeds of the brave and the virtues of the good. Nor let it be imagined that this effort to rescue from oblivion the names of the good and great, is without its use. The history thus handed down has excited emulation in many a bosom, and led the admirer of greatness to follow in the steps of him who has been the object of his admiration. While we are willing to confess that the proud mausoleum has often enshrined the ashes of