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IN the following Examination, the reader may possibly find the grand system of creation and divine moral government represented, in a manner different from that in which he hath been accuftomed to consider it. But, as we are all liable to err, let him reflect that it is as likely he should be milEaken now, in his ideas of the mediatorial dispensa. tion, as that I should have been mistaken in mine, ten or fifteen years ago. That a proposition is new to us, or different from what we have been acquainted with, is no sign that it is false. I shall first present the reader with some confiderations of the divine benevolence, as displayed in the creation and government of men. In this part of the work, it with be my principal endeavour to refute Mr. S's fyftem of divine benevolence, which is his sole foun. dation to build his fabric of eternal misery upon.
E Mr. S. be totally mistaken in his ideas of the divine benevolence, his whole scheme of eternal mise. ry is fubverted, as this scheme depends entirely on his ideas of divine benevolence for its support. If his notion of the general good, the good of the public, or the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and his holy intelligent kingdom, as being the role object of the divine benevolence, and yet necessarily produced by eternal lin and misery, be wrong and mis
taken ; all he hath written fails of its defign, the support of the doctrine of eternal misery. That his notion of these things is wrong, is plain and undeni. able, from the Gngle consideration, that it is reducea. ble to the most monstrous absurdity ; which the Țeader will clearly fee as he proceeds. "No doctrine that is true can posibly be reduced to absurdity. I wish the reader to pay ftrict attention to this im. portant point, the refutation of Mr S.'s doctrine of benevolence. If he shall be convinced that this is fairly and truly done, all the rest will be easy ; since it is absolutely impossible to support the doctrine of eternal misery, on any other plan of divine benevo. lence. Indeed, there are but two hypotheses of the divine benevolence, that brought forward by Mr. S. and that which I have inGfted upon, in oppofition to Mr. S. If his be wrong, therefore; mine is righe. And if my theory of divine benevolence be just, the doctrine of eternal misery cannot be defended.
The reader will next be presented with the in quiry, whether it be not the benevolent and gracious plan of God, that all men shall, eventually, be virtu, ous and happy. Mr. S. allows that such an expofition of the doctrine of divine benevolence, as I have given, fignifies the same thing, as that all men will be faved. This is readily conceded. But if that expo. fition of divine benevolence, which I have given, be proved, instead of being taken for granted, as Mr. S's is, this is all we want. That interpretation of the word benevolence, which is fubftantially supported by reason and scripture, is doubtless the true one,
though it should happen to signify the fame thing, as that all men will be saved. If I have refuted Mr. S's idea of divine benevolence, my own remains to be the true one ; as I before observed. To destroy Mr. S.'s theory of divine benevolence, was my first object. I have then produced many passages of Scripture, both from the Old and New Testaments, in support of my theory of the divine benevo. lence, and to show that it really is the benevolent plan of God, that all men shall, eventually, be virtuous and happy. That passage of the prophet Ezekiel, concerning the eventual restoration of the Sodomites, the ancient wicked and abandoned inhabitants of Sataria, with the Mke wicked inhabitants of Judea, and their final salvation, is a striking instance of divine benevolence towards the worst of men, And if God be so benevolent towards the worst of men, that have ever lived on the earth, as to deGre and design their restoration to virtue and happiness ; it must be considered as a substantial proof that he de. fires and designs the virtue and happiness of all men,
In the third part of this work, I have gone through with the examination of all the passages of scripture which Mr. S. has adduced as proof of the doctrine of eternal misery. These passages of scripture I have considered and endeavoured to answer, as so many objections against ty theory of the divine benevolence, and universal salvation. Future misery is the utmost that can be proved, from any passage of scripture Mr. S. has adduced, without any regard to the duration of that misery. From the justice
and goodness of the divine nature, we might safely and positively determine that future misery will have an end, if it were not demonstrated by scripture as it is in a variety of passages. As, where it is declared that Chrift came to destroy the works of the devil, which are moral and physical evil. Also, that be must reign, till be batb put ail enemies under bis feet ; and destroyed the last enemy, death. These, and many others as I have shown, give us the ut: most assurance, that neither sin nor death," moral nor physical evil, shall have existence in the universe when Jesus shall deliver up the mediatorial kingdom.
I have also endeavoured to answer that grand objection against the doctrine of universal salvation, that it tends to evil, and to licentious manners. I deGre the reader would carefully and candidly con: lider what I have written in answer to this objection. I think I have made it undeniably plain, that the doctrine of eternal misery tends, directly and nature ally, to destroy all piety and morality, all faith and hope, and love, and joy, and every pious affection; and all justice, kindness, and mercy towards maankind.
In the last part, I have addressed the clergy and people of the United States. In this address, I have attempted a brief view of the two very different systems; that of eternal misery, and that of universal holiness and happiness, with their different effects on the minds and manners of men. This is a gencral view of what the reader may expect in the following work; all which is now submitted to his cane did perusal and judgment.
. . A CRITICAL