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It had been usual with me to think that the triumph of mer, cy, in the day of retribution, as described in James, ii. 13. Psalm lxii. 12. respected another defeription of people than those who were to receive judgment without mercy, namely, those that should fofpeak and fo do as they that should be judged by the perfeet law of liberty: but you have found out a scheme, it seems, in which these opposites are united in the same perfons; and in which the ungodly, while receiving judgment without meriy, have no judgment but what is in mercy (P.10), Is it furprising. Sir, that a man of plain and ordinary capacity Thould be at a loss to understand such things as these?...
It would not have occurred to me that an argument could have been drawn from the threatenings of God to Israel in the present life, (Lev. xxvi.) to what shall be done to the un. godly world in the life to come : yet so it is (p. 43.); and the ground on which the analogy is justified, is the immutability of the Divine character. But whatever the immutable character of God requires to be done, muft be done alike in all ages, and to
all people: whereas, what was there threatened to Israel was | not done at the same time to other nations, nor has it been done
fince to any nation beside them. Amos iii. 2. Actsxxvii. 30. There is nothing in it analogous to his dealings with mankind, unless it be the general idea of his,“ making use of natural evil to cor, rect moral evil.” This being known to be the case on earth, you “ cannot but think it must be the design of future punish, me'nt.” Such is the whole of your argument, which you re, commend to my “ serious confideration !” But how if, on the other hand, I should say, though natural evil be used on earth to correct moral evil, in society at large, yet it is not al. ways fent for the purpose of correcting the parties themselves. We have no proof that the men of Sodom were destroyed by fire, or Pharaoh drowned in the sea, for their good : therefore, I cannot but think there is a similar design in future punish ment.
I always supposed that the sense in which God is said to be the saviour of all men, especially of them that believe (p. 44), was that in which the apostle there put his truft in him, namely, as the God of providence, whose care is extended to all his creatures, but especially over believers.
I have read of the difpenfation of the fulness of times; but the idea never occurred to me that these times were to be understood of ages beyond the last judgment. I have no doubt but the “ gathering together in one all things in Chrift, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth,” will be accomplilhed,
and that within the limits of time. If it be done, as you allow it will (p. 10), by the time that he shall have put down alt rule, and all authority, and power, and shall have fubdued all things unto himself,” it will be done by the time that he hall have raised the dead, and judged the world ; for THEN is this work described as being accomplished. I Cor. xv. 24.
In reading the account of the new heaven and new carth in the xxi chap. of the Revelations, I find amongst other things it is said, there foall be no more death, and afterwards no more curfe; but I should not have thought of these things being applied to the universe at large, but merely to the inhabitants of that blessed ftate ; and the rather seeing it is said in the same chapter that the fearful and the unbelieving, and the abomir nable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and forcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have THEIR PARTintbelake which burn. eth with fire and brimstone, which is the facond death. Neither could I bave supposed it possible from such a representation of the second death, to conclude that it consisted in annihilation.. :
By the times of the reftitution of all things (Acts iii. 21), I have been used to understand the times of the resurrection and the last judgment: for that till then, and no longer, will Chrift be detained in the heavens., Whenever Christ descends from heaver, then, according to Peter, will be the times of the rela titution of all things : but this will be previous and in order to his raising the dead and judging the world (i Thęs, iii, 16.). Consequently these are the times of which the apostle speaks. The utter overthrow which will be then given to the kingdom of Satan by the general confiagration (2 Peter, iii. 12), the de. struction of the last eneniy, Death, by the refurrection (1-Cor. XV. 23; 26), and the final adjuftment of human affairs by the lait judgment (Matt. xxv. 31, 46), will be a reftitution of all things, the empire of fin will be crushed, and the government of God completely restored.
" ; ' !! But the times in which your scheme is tobe accomplished muft be after the final judgment; for from that period there is an everlafting punisoment for the wicked to endure, a lake of fire into which they are to be cast (Matt. XXV. 46. Rev, XX. 15); and from which your reftitution of all things is to recover them Your restitution therefore, and that of the scriptures, are not the same. .
.', 's'; ' iri ... You cannot conceive a restitution of all things, and of fijn being made an end of, unless all the individuals in the creation be either reconciled to God, or annihilated; but what autho. rity have you for such a construction of these terms? Did the
restoring of all things on the Messiah's first appearance (Matt. xxvii. 11), include all individuals, fo far as it went ?. When God said to Zedekiah, And thou profane, wicked prince of Ifrael, whole day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, did it mean that he should be either converted or annihilated ? - Ezek. XX. 25. And when the same language is used of the fins of the people (chap. XXXV. 5), does it mean that they should be either converted or annihilated.? Rather is it not manifest that by iniquity having an end is meant that the perpetrators of it were brought to condigni punishment; shut up in Babylon as in a prison, and rendered incapable of doing further mischief? Such will be the case with all the ungodly at the second coming of Chrift; and this will be the restoration of peace, order, and happiness, to the rest of the universe. ::: * The doctrine of endless misery appears to you to "confound all degrees of punishment, in giving infinite punishment to all." (p. 42.) You, it seems, can conceive of no diversity of suffering, unless it be in duration. Will the reflection of loft fouls on their past life then be all exa&ly the same? The same in the objects reflected on, and confequently the same in the intenseness of their misery? How grossly absurd, Sir, muft be your notions of future punishment, to admit of such an idea Besides, there is equal reason to believe that there will be different degrees of glory as of misery. If heavenly bliss bear any relation to the labours and sufferings of the present life on behalf of Christ, which the Scriptures affure us it does (Matt. v, 12. 2 Cor. iv. 17), these being diverse, that must also be the same. But according to your reasoning, there can be no di. versity unless it be in duration : either, therefore, all degrees of happiness must be confounded in giving infinite happiness to all, or the inhabitants of heaven, as well as thofe of hell, muft, after a certain period, .be continually diminishing by annihilation,
Such, Sir, are your expositions of Scripture. Except in the productions of a certain maniac in our own country, I never recollect to have seen so much violence done to the word of God in so small a compass. ; inici
a l According to your scheme, all things work together for good to them that love not God, as well as to them that love him. Thus you confound what the Scriptures discriminate...
Our Lord told the Jews, that if they believed not that he was the Messiah, they should die in their fins, and whither he went they could not come (John, viii. 21); but according to your Scheme, they might die in their fins and yet be able to go whither he vent, and inherio eternal life. i
The The Scriptures describe a sort of characters who shall be ex. , posed to a certain fearful looking for. of judgment (Heb. X. 27): but this, according to your scheme, can be nothing more than annihilation. For as the case of the characters described is suggested to be irrevocable and hopeless, they cannot be punished ,during ages of ages in a way of mercy, or with a view to their recovery; and as to their being punished during this long period, and in the end annihilated, this would be contrary to all your ideas of punishment, which must always have its foundation in mercy. Hence it follows, that all this fearful looking for of judgment, amounts to no more than what atheists and in. fidels generally prefer, death being to them an everlasting Reep.
Nor is--your hypothesis less at variance with itself than with the Holy Scriptures. Your notion of temporary punishment clashes with all your arguments drawn from the benevolent feelings of a good man. You ask, “Doth not every good man . love his enemies, and forgive even the worst of them? Is there a man living whose heart is filled with the love of God that would not promote the best interest of his most inveterate foe, it it lay in his power? And hath not God more love than the best of men ? And are not his wisdom and his power equal to his love ?”: (p:74.)
In return I ask, Is there a man living whose heart is filled with the love of God that would be willing that his worst enemy should be cast into hell for ages of ages, or for a single age, or even a single day, when it was in his power to deliver him from it? But God hath more love than the best of men, and his wisdom and power are equal to his love”; consequently there will be no future punishment.
Your notion of annihilation will also contradict the greater part of your pretensions. You talk of universal salvation, but you do not believe it; for a part of the human race are to be given up as incurables to annihilation. You plead the v. chap. to the Romans in favour of your doctrine, contending that juftification of life will be as extensive as condemnation, but you believe no such thing; for a part of those who are condemned, instead of being justified and saved, will be given up as incui il rables to annihilation. You think you see times beyond the last judgment, in which all things, or rather as you understand it, all persons, are to be gathered together in Christ, and rea, conciled by the blood of his cross: howbeit you mean not so, neither doth your heart think so, for a part of them will be , ftruck out of existence, and who can therefore be neither gathered nor reconciled. You pretend to unite the opinions of
crofs : For a parere be nevinions of
Calvinifts and Arminians: the former you say render the death of Christ effectual, but limit its design to a part of mankind; the latter extend it to all, but consider it as ineffectual ; while you maintain that it is designed for all, and effectual to all. (p. 70, 71.) But this is mere pretence ; you believe no such thing; for a part of mankind are to be at last annihilated. By àn anecdote which you have inserted in p. 65. of your Miscellany, you flatter yourself that you have fastened a difficulty on a Mr. R. from which he cannot extricate himself, but by embracing your doctrine. But neither could he if he did embraceit: for you no more believe that God will save all inankind, than Mr. R.
You pretend to urge it as a difficulty on me, that “either God cannot, or will not make an end of fin; that there is not efficacy enough in the blood of Christ to destroy the works of the devil ; or else that the full efficacy of the atonement is withheld by the divine determination :” (p. 44.) But it is all pre. tence. If it be a difficulty, it equally bears upon your own hypothefis as upon mine. If Christ died with an intention to save all, why are not all saved? Why must a number of them be annihilated ? Is it because God cannot bring them to repentance and falvation, or because he will not? Is there not efficacy enough in the blood of the cross to destroy the works of the devil, without his having recourse to a mere act of power, an act which might have been exerted without that blood being Thed ? or is the full efficacy of the atonement withheld by the divine Determination ?. .
I am, Şir, with sincere good will,
Yours, &c. “ AUGUST 9, 1799.
:: ANDREW FULLER.
L enquirer after truth, which are apparent in your « Remarks on the Person of Christ,” I would, with the permission of the Editor, make a few observations upon some passages in the paper just mentioned. . . Your first position is what no Christian can deny.--« God
is invisible.” In this, I apprehend, you mean to beunderstood . in the plain and literal sense of the words, “No man hath
seen God at any time, or can see him." Your fourth pofition ftates, that “ The invisible God is become visible in the person of Christ, who is God with us."