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jeading to repentance, and faith in Christ, and promotive of love and obedience;—and as these comprehend all the MEANS that can reasonably be supposed to be einployed in another state for saving purposes; we are warranted in concluding that the absence of these implies the absence of all others.
But to this it may be objected, God can work as well without as with means. We reply, the objection, whilst it certainly gives up the probationary character of the future state, does not relieve the difficulty. As to what God can do, there is no doubt. All things not implying an impossibility, and a violation of his veracity, or any olher of his attributes, assuredly come within the range of his Power. But let us suppose a case. For reasons satisfactory to himself, the Deity declares that no unholy soul can be admitted to heaven, but at the termination of natural life, shall be cast into Hell:-he determines to make none holy but those, who repcnt and believe in Christ, and that none can thus repent and believe except in this life, no provision for the exercise of these fruits of the Spirit in the future world being made ;-then, we are warranted in affirming, that the Deity himself cannot take an unholy soul, as such, out of hell, that, in this life, repented not, and believed not, neither was made holy, and place it in heaven with his sanctified and glorified saints. This, in a moral sense, is as impossible, as, in a physical sense, it is for a thing to be and not to be in the same moment of time. For the contrary of this would make the God of Truth a Liar ! But it is “impossible for God to lie.” Heb. vi. 8. Hence, if the case supposed be the real doctrine of the Scripture, which it undoubtedly is, as will appear from the preceding Chapters of this work,-then, the doctrine of future restoration and the use of means to that effect, falls to the ground; and it is well, if in the greatr.ess of its fall, it overwhelms not many of the sons and daughters of Universalism in its ruins.
Again:- Adinitting that the Deity can act as the oljection supposes, yet, a question of the greatest moment in the discussion, remains to be determined; and that is, Will God save from future torment without means, those, who in this world, wilfully “set at nought his counsel and would have none of his reproof”? A mere possibility of this event, were there no obstruction, is surely not sufficient to satisfy the mind deeply concerned for its eternal well-being. Now to ascertain what the Lord will do in this matter, recourse must necessarily be had to his written word; for further then this word declares we know not. "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." "For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Rom. viii. 20. Unless therefore it can be shown from the Word of God, that he has promised to save the finally impenitent froin future misery, or to rescue them out of their prison,” without means, nothing of certainty can be drawn from his mere Power, to support the notion that, on the supposition of no obstacle intervening, he will absolutely so exert his Power. But, if the doctrine of the strict eternity of future punishment be the doctrine of the Scriptures, wbich, we have already shown, is the case, then no such promise of future restoration, either with or without means, can be found in the Sacred Oracles,-otherwise they would contain the most palpable contradictions, which we have before proved impossible.
Again:- In confirmation of our views of the question now under discussion, we remark, there is reason to bejieve, that God wills men to be actually saved in this Jife, and for this purpose grants them every necessary asistance; but that if they improve not their present advantages, his determination is, not to afford them any other. This determination necessarily arises out of the circumstance of this life being our only probationary state; and, as such, necessarily referring to a future state, where all is fixed, unchangeable, and eternal. Nothing short, therefore, is it of downright presumption, to expect other assistances in the future world; especially as the Scriptures exhibit not the slightest encouragement on which to build such an expectation, but employ the strongest language declarative of the reverse.
“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith,) To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the wilderness : when your fathers tempted me and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, They do alway err in their hearts; and they have not known my ways. So I swear in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest.” Heb. iii. 7–11. This passage, in its primary application, it is granted, refers to the coming short of the Israelites of Canaan, to the land of promise. But, in this particular, their history reads to subsequent ages, especially to professing Christans, an awfully admonitory les. son. They came short of Canaan, a type of heaven :-to put them in possession of it no means were subsequently employed :-ihey perished in the wilderness and their loss was irreparable. To caution us against coming short of the heavenly rest, the Apostle seizes on this piece of history and holds it up to our contemplation as a most instructive lesson; for, in this case, i.e. coming short of heaven, as well as in the other, no subsequent means will be employed to bring us to the promised land of eternal felicity, and the loss thus sustained can never be repaired.
If this be not the meaning of the Apostle in the verse just quoted, he means nothing in the following exhortations.-"Wherefore, take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin.” Id. 12. 13. v. “ So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” 19. v. "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem (dokē, actually) come short of it.” iv. 1. v. “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." 12. v. Now, why should they "take heed" lest by unbelief they depart from the living God why should they “abour" lest they “fall”-or why should they even “fear” (there is no fear in the Universalist's creed) lest they come short” of future and eternal rest, mif, after this life there are other opportunities, and other and more abundant means to secure an entrance "into the kingdom of heaven?” Are they thus exhorted on the principles of Universalism? No. They are exhorted thus, only on the ground, that living and dying in their sins, their departure from God, their fall from their uprightness, their coming short of heaven, will be of an eternal character.
CHAPTER IX. . OBJECTIONS, FROM 1 Pet. jii. 18-20—1 Pet. iv. 6. AND
1 Cor. iii. 15, ANSWERED. To the general scope of the last Chapter, several objections are urged, taken professedly from the Scriptures; to answer which is the object of the present Chapter.
Asks a self-confident Universalist, Does not Sr. Peter, affirm that Christ by his Spirit “went and preached unto the Spirits in Prison," i. e. in Hell? -We subjoin the whole passage. " For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit; by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient, when once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noan, while the Ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water.” 1 Peter iii. 18, -20.-The following comment, by a distinguished Divine, is very satisfactory and perfectly agreeable to the Analogy of faith._" By attributing the preaching of the Ancient prophets to Christ, the Apostle hath taught us that from the beginning the economy of man's redemption has been under the direction of Christ. To the spirits in prison that is, which were in prison when St. Peter wrote this Epistle. They were men in the flesh when Christ preached to them by His Spirit speaking in