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is eternal death, and therefore if this curse came upon any, they cannot obtain salvation? Then we reply and say; this objection does not rest on the divine testimony. The words “eternal death,” are not in the scriptures. The objector, therefore, has no right to require any further reply. The text says; cursed is every one,” &c. It does not say ; cursed shall be every one in the eternal world, who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them, in this world.
To the Corinthians the Apostle speaks of the ministration of the law as a ministration of death, but he by no means allows it either an eternal duration, or power to prevent in the least degree, the ministration of life. He speaks as follows; “ Who also hath made us able ministers of the new-testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious ? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which was done away was glorious, much that which remaineth is glorious.”
We see, by the Apostle's reasoning, that the law dispensation, being a ministration of death, "was to be done away,” and succeeded with the ministration of righteousness; but that these dispensations are opposed to each other is not allowed by any scripture argument.
This doctrine, that the law is not against the promises of God, which we find abundantly proved from the scriptures which have been noticed, is a doctrine which is plainly taught in the economy of divine providence and in the most essential goveremeut embraced in human concerns; I mean the government and econ
omy of a family. In the divine providence, God has promised (and he fulfils his word) that there shall be summer and winter, seed time and harvest. These blessings do not depend on men, men depend on them; man's labor does not call them forth, but they call men to their work; and accordingly as they labor and wisely improve their advantages, they are rewarded. If they neglect the duties of the season, they are recompensed with want. In a family government and economy, there are many favors bestowed on children, that in the nature of things, cannot depend on the obedience of those who receive them. How many favors does parental love bestow on infancy, favors essential to life, long before the subjects are capable of knowing on whom they depend for support? And in the last will and testament of parental provision, how many valuable legacies are bestowed on children, to which they had no other claim but heirship? But all these blessings which are entirely independent of the conduct of children, have no power to prevent the reasonable exercise of a proper discipline during that period in which the offspring are objects of such an economy. And on the other hand, it is as plainly seen, that this discipline has no power to oppose the interest which the child holds by heirship; but then one seems to establish the other; for that relation which gives the right to adminster discipline, holds also the right of heirship.
From the several points of doctrine, which we have endeavored to support, the tollowing inferences may be drawn.
1st. There is, according to the scriptures, in the moral government, of our heavenly Father, a wisely concerted discipline, by which the faults of men are duly noticed and faithfully and compassionately chastised. But it is not consistent with the design of this dispensation to extend correction or punishment for sin, so as, in any way, to deprive, even the sinner, of the everlasting inheritance which belongs to the sons of God.
The opinion, therefore, that the law of God demands the everlasting, or eternal punishment of sinners is, by
no means a scripture doctrine; for surely such a doctrine would prove that the law was against the promi
Such a law, in the room of being a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, would be an unmerciful tyrant, like Pharoah, who held the people of God in bondage, and refused to let them go. This divine law and discipline of our heavenly Father admonishes us to take heed to our ways. Hereby we are advised, commanded, admonished, rebuked, warned, threatened ; and in case of obstinate disobedience, and continuance in sin, we are severely punished. But let us always remember that the chastisements of our heavenly Father are for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness.
2d. We may infer from the doctrine we have maintained, that the sense of what St. Peter said to the Jews is equally true respecting all men ; “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." Those to whom St. Peter spake these words, were those who delivered up Jesus and denied him in the presence of Pilate; they were those who denied the holy One and the just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto them, and killed the Prince of life. “ These,” Peter said, “ were the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our , fathers." Now as the promise of the covenant was to - all the kindreds of the earth, and as the testimony of the prophets was equally extensive, we conclude that all the families, all the nations, and all the kindreds of the earth” are the children of the prophetic testimony, and of the covenant of promise. The blessing promised was also mentioned by this Apostle as has been noticed; “ Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you, from his iniquities.
Let us conclude with the Apostle's exhortations “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
In the infinite variety of all important subjeets to which the rich treasures of divine revelation call our most serious and engaged attention, this, expressed in our text, is unquestionably entitled to the highest rank. However the thoughtless and profane may treat the Supreme disposer of all things, however trifling the name of the Most High may be handed round by polluted lips, one moment's serious attention to the impropriety of such communication is sufficient to convince the reasonable mind, that God is a subject infinitely too great to be introduced into trifling conversation, and infinitely too good to be mentioned by profane lips. But notwithstanding the impropriety and evil, of which mention has been made, are great and heineous, they bear but a scant comparison with the impropriety and evil of representing the great Father of our spirits as a character which would be dishonorable to man, who is but a worm of the dust.
If we lay aside the prejudices which the creeds of men have carefully treasured up in our deceitful hearts, we shall at once be struck with horror at the character which a false education has given to the best of all intelligent beings. The moral evil naturally growing from false notions of the divine character, has so established its empire in the hearts of men, and exercises such unresisted control over the temper and spirit of those who are deceived by such notions, that there appears but one remedy; and this one must be found in
the removing of those errors, by the clear shining of divine truth in the understanding.
The particular and most special object of the present discourse is to contribute, at least, a humble attempt to remove wrong views of God from the mind, by showing that all the divine attributes harmonize in love; which view of the character of our heavenly Father, seems evidently comprehended in the text of which choice has been made.
There are but a few passages of scripture which speak in a direct manner of what God is. He is call
fountain of living waters,” by the Prophet Jeremiah. "My people have committed two evils ; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” This is a most striking representation of true and false religion. Love is a fountain of living waters. It is a living fountain, one that is never dry. This is true religion ; it has no hatred in it; it works no ill to its neighbor; it measures to others what it is willing to receive.
But false religion is any thing and every thing but love. It is something hewed out ; that is, it is the work of invention and art. The living water of divine love is not in it. It pretends to love, but hatred is its most essential ingredient. It is based on enmity. If we disallow enmity, false religion cries out, heresy, the foundation of religion is gone!-St. Paul says; “ Our God is a consuming fire.” Love is a consuming fire to all the hay, wood, and stubble which error has introduced into religion. “Now, if any nean build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest : for the day shall declare it, and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shal suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved : Yet so as by fire.” The fire of divine love seeks to consume nothing but that which is injurious to the sinner, who is the object of divine love.