« AnteriorContinuar »
It is therefore granted, that the kingdom of Christ will continue, after the general judgment, and even without end. Yet it does not thence follow, that he will not at that time have finished the mediatorial work, or rather the work of saving sinners. I make this distinction, because though Christ will at the general judgment, have finished the work of saving sinners from wrath; yet he will without end be the mediator between the Father and the saints, and will be the medium of all divine communications to them, whether of knowledge, of happiness or of honour. It by no means follows from the circumstance, that Christ will, after the general judgment, retain a kingly power and dominion, that he will exert that power in delivering sinners from sin and misery.
The whole of Dr. C's discourse on this subject implies, that the kingdom of the Father, in which he shall be all in all, will not begin immediately after the general judgment. But how can this be reconciled with Matt. xiii. 40-44, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then, Jole, at that very time, shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their FATHER." This single text proves that the kingdom becomes the Father's immediately after the end of this world, and therefore entirely overthrows all Dr. C's labour to prove, that the kingdom does not become the Father's till ages of ages after the end of this world; and equally overthrows his great labour to fix a construction on 1 Cor. xv. 24, consistent with his scheme.
Beside; the Doctor's construction of the last passage mentioned seems to be absurd in itself. For he "con
nects the end," as to the time of it," with Christ's delivery of the kingdom to the Father."* in the same page explains himself to ting up of the scene of Providence with respect to the sons of Adam :" which is and can be no other than the end of Christ's mediatorial kingdom. According to Dr. C. therefore, the apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, gravely tells us, that the end of Christ's kingdom will be, when he shall deliver up his kingdom to the Father: or the end of it shall be at the very time, at which the end of it shall be! But what is this, but the most childish tautology! Who ever imagined, that Christ would still retain his kingdom, after he should have delivered it up? Surely that scheme must be in distress indeed, which requires such construction as this to be put on the sacred scripture !
Doctor C. says, "The reward promised, under the administration of Christ's kingdom, in this present state, in order to persuade men to become his good and faithful subjects is not the final happiness God intends to bestow upon them, but the happiness of that state which intervenes between the resurrection and God's being all in all." But all the promises of the Bible are given in this present state; therefore there are no promises in all the Bible of final happiness. How then does Dr. C. know that all men, or even any man will be finally happy? This is at once giving up his favourite doctrine, to establish which he wrote his whole book.
And by the end he mean the "shut
Doctor C. calls out, "What a poor, low, lean idea the common explanation of this text gives us of the final effects of Christ's reign-in comparison with that, the above interpretation lets us into !" Such exclamations occur in almost every argument of his book. I observe
* Page 198. † Page 222. + Page 225.
therefore concerning them once for all, that they seem better suited to work on the passions and imagination, than on the reason; that at least they are attempts to determine what is most for the general good and the glory of the Deity, not from revelation or from fact; but a priori, by our own imagination concerning what is best and most eligible. Now that we are in this way utterly incapable of determining what is most eligible, and most for the divine glory, in a thousand instances; every man of reflection must grant.
I have now finished my remarks on Dr. C's "decisive" argument from 1 Cor. xv. 24, &c. Whether it be indeed "decisive;" whether it be "unanswerably strong,"* is submitted to the reader.
We are next to consider the Doctor's argument from Rev. v. 13; "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, saying, Blessing and honor, and glory and power be unto him, that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."-The main question concerning these words is, whether they "look forward to a completion of the scheme of God," and assert a fact which is not to take place, till that scheme shall be completed. This is Dr. C's idea: he says, "they evidently look forward to the completion of that scheme;" he says it merely; he gives no reason to prove it. The context gives no suggestions of such an idea. It may be presumed, that Dr. C. himself did not imagine, that the song of the four beasts and four and twenty elders, contained in verse 9th, &c. looked forward to the completion of the scheme of God. It was evidently sung on occasion of the Lamb's taking the book sealed with seven seals, and before any of these seals were opened. Nor is there the least hint,
* Page 211.
but that what is described in the 13th verse, took place on the same occasion: but the narration naturally implies that it did then take place. The 14th verse confirms the construction now given. "And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth forever and ever." These words are evidently a part of the song mentioned in the 9th verse, as it was sung by the same four beasts and four and twenty elders. Whereas according to Dr. C's construction of the 13th verse, they are either a song which is to be sung after the completion of the scheme of God; or though they are a part of the song mentioned in the 9th verse, the apostle's account of that song is interrupted by inserting in the midst of it, a song to be sung by all mankind, after the completion of the scheme of God. To assert therefore, that the fact of the 13th verse did not take place on the occasion of the Lamb's taking the book; but is to take place ages of ages after the end of this world; and to support this assertion by no proof or reason, is to act an unreasonable part: especially considering the context and the difficulties attending that construction.
These words appear to contain a figurative representation of all creatures joining in joy and praise to the Father and the Lamb on occasion of Christ's taking and being about to open the seals of the book sealed with the seven seals; the book of Providence toward the church. That such representations are common in scripture, we have already seen, while we were considering Rom. viii. 19, &c. Therefore no argument in favor of universal salvation is afforded by this passage.
Dr. C. mentions several other texts as favouring his scheme; but says himself, that he does not "depend on them as proofs," or as "conclusive in themselves." We need not therefore spend time to remark upon them,
The reader of himself will easily conceive from the answers given to those on which he does depend as conclusive, what answers would be given to the rest.
Toward the close of that part of his book, which contains the direct evidence of universal salvation, Dr. C. comes down wonderfully, seems to relent, and to be scared at the result of his own reasoning. He owns, that after all, he may be mistaken; that concerning the state which he supposes will succeed the next state, neither the prophets, Jesus Christ, nor the apostles, have spoken in plain and explicit language, leaving no room for doubt.* How these mild concessions are reconcileable with his many previous declarations, that his arguments are at least in his opinion, "evident,” “ decisive," unanswerably strong," that it is "positively affirmed" (in Rom. viii. 19, &c.) "that they-shall be instated in immortal glory;" that "it is absolutely declared in this passage of scripture," (Rom. v. 12, &c.) "that they" (mankind universally) "shall be made righteous," &c. &c. remains to be pointed out.
IN WHICH DR. C's SCHEME IS CONSIDERED, WITH A REFERENCE TO HIS IDEAS OF HUMAN LIBERTY AND MORAL AGENCY,
Ir is an essential part of the system of Dr. C. and of the generality of the advocates for universal salvation, that all fixed certainty of any actions of men, whether external or internal, is inconsistent with liberty and moral agency in those actions-That this is really a tenet of the Doctor may appear from the following quotations. *Page 252, 253.