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of Universalism, it will be proper for us to take up the subject in regular order, and to reply to the statement. 1. That punishment full and adequate for sin is inevitable, and from it there is no escape. The passages which speak of the infliction of punishment and the certainty of its execution, should not be so interpreted as to conflict with other portions of Holy Writ, and subvert the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ. There must be harmony in the Scriptures, and in the plans and works of God. That class of passages relied upon to prove the impossibility of a suspension of the threatened penalty, or of an escape from just and deserved punishment, are evidently designed to teach the just principles and holy character of the moral government of God. That God has devised and established a moral government over the national and moral world, designed to restrain evil, and promote holiness and happiness by motives and inducements, is based on unquestionable truth and authority. To answer the end of this moral government, to promote the greatest good of the whole community of God's rational and accountable intelligences, two methods were instituted. A strict and hearty obedience to all the requirements of our Maker; this was the first and most desirable method ; but in the event of a failure in this respect, the only alternative left, was to exercise the penalties of law upon the transgressor. The first method of obedience would effectually bar out all evil from the province of moral government, and thus promote general peace, holiness and happiness among men : the latter alternative of inflicting punishment on the guilty transgressor, would display the just abhorrence of God against all sin in the public example of punishment on the disobedient, and cast a restraining influence over those who stand gazing upon the scene to persuade them to obey divine law, and not tread in the path of transgression.
But we find, that the regulations of divine government have been rejected; the path of holiness leading to certain happiness has been forsaken; and the broad way of vice ending in destruction is thronged by the human race. Thus, the first method of securing substantial bliss and a conscientious peace has been forfeited; and the only means left in the hands of God to wield his government over man, and secure its end, to promote the greatest good of the whole race of accountable creatures, was to inflict the penalty of the divine law on the guilty. This punishment of the rebellious is an exhibition of public justice, intimating that God abhors wrong, and yet desires to restrain others from sin, and promote and perpetuate their welfare.
We say, that God manifests public justice in punishing the wrong-doer, with a view to distinguish the peculiar ea:ercise of justice in this affair from that justice which may be denominated distributive, or commutative. What then is public justice? Whenever God manifests himself in stern displeasure at wrong and in the punishment of the guilty to vindicate the honor of his laws and to promote the greatest good of the whole community, then he exercises that species of justice. It is distinct from distributive and commutative justice, in this, that distributive justice exercises itself in awarding to every one the full merit of his conduct immediately, therefore it would destroy a state of probation and trial; this is contrary to matter of fact, for we are in a state of trial, and we know that in this life there is no equal distribution of rewards and punishment: commutative justice demands the surrender of an equivalent for the wrong we have done to God and his law—to do this is inconceivable, either by obedience or by suffering misery. That there will be distributive and vindictive justice displayed against man for his ungodliness when he shall have passed beyond the line of probation, we verily believe, and have proven in the chapter on punishment. But God exercised public justice in his moral government, upon which was founded the penalty of law; and whenever the public good can be promoted in some other way besides the infliction of its penalty, that penalty may be suspended, and the culprit saved from its inflictions. This is the point to be proved. Can the penalty of moral law be suspended and arrested in its execution, or not? Can some plan be devised and adopted to answer the same ends of moral government without the infliction of the full and adequate punishment of law, or not Did the coming of Christ, his obedience, his suffering and death, constitute an eapedient sufficiently worthy and in all respects adapted, to render it possible, and afford just and proper ground for God to suspend the penalty of his law, and save guilty men from its deserved infliction and show him benignant mercy, or not? Universalists answer, no—there is no escape from the infliction of the penalty of moral law; its execution is “sure, swift and inevitable.” We answer, yes; for this alone consists with reason and the teaching of God—this alone can attach any significant value to the sufferings of Christ, and prevent the charge of insincerity and solemn mockery being preferred against God in the contrivance and execution of the plan of saving grace. We would here state in few words, that Christ, by the merit of his blood, has only suspended the penalty of the law, and if the plan of mercy is not embraced by repentance and faith, while in a state of probation, that wrath will yet overtake the guilty and the despiser of God and effect their utter ruin in eternal woe. For this reason people are exhorted and entreated by God and man to obey the gospel and escape for their life to the strong-hold of grace; not to
218 SALVATION FROM SIN.
linger on all the plain where God’s judgments are pregnant with wrath, but hide in Christ, the sheltering Rock. 2. Do the Scriptures teach, that the children of men can escape the penalty of the law; the just and adequate punishment of sin, in and through Christ. This proved and Universalism falls a conquered foe. It is well known, that in civil government public justice allows the suspension of the penalty of the law, or the grant of a reprieve to a criminal, whenever the objects of good government can be secured, without the literal and adequate infliction of deserved punishment. When government can be honored, and a restraining influence be exercised over the community, to the utmost possible extent against recklessness and crime, the criminal may be saved from deserved punishment and become the object of clemency and mercy. This is matter of fact in civil government, proved by experiment, and affords a proper illustration of what God has done in devising a plan of mercy, while sustaining the honor, dignity and object of moral law. Those therefore who deny the possibility of any one being delivered from the infliction of the penalty of moral law, and saved from the punishment due to sin, obviously reject the atonement of Christ as the foundation of salvation. This Universalism does, as we shall prove hereafter. - - 1. In reading the word of God, we shall find various words and phrases employed expressive of punishment of sins; such as punishment, destruction, indignation, wrath, &c. We wish to show, that when the Bible speaks of being saved from wrath, that it teaches the doctrine of salvation from deserved punishment. We read in 1 Thess. v. 9. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Heb. iii. 2. “In wrath remember mercy.” These two passages would seem to teach, that salvation and mercy are just the opposite of wrath. As salvation implies a rescue and deliverance from ruin and destruction, , therefore when the wrath of God is poured out upon the workers of iniquity, they must be visited with desolation and destruction. Ps. ii. 12. “Kiss the Son, lest he be
angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is
kindled but a little.” As wrath means a punishment for
sin, those who are unreconciled with Christ, shall perish at the first kindlings of indignant wrath. Jer. vii. 29. “For the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his . wrath.” Jer. x. 10. “At his wrath the earth shall tumble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.” The people shall not be able to abide, for the earth shall shake, and they shall be: rejected and forsaken, when the wrath of God shall be revealed, and be poured out upon them. Thus God's wrath must be punishment for sin. Rev. vi. 17. “For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand 2’’ This wrath must meanutter ruin and destruction. Num. v. 11. “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, that I con
sumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.” This
passage not only teaches that wrath means punishment for sin; but also, that God saved the children of Israel from deserved punishment, which was about to consume them, and would have done so, had it not been for Phinehas. Ps. lxxxix. 46. “How long, Lord, wilt thou hide thyself, forever ? shall thy wrath burn like fire * Ps. xc. 9. “All our days are passed away in thy wrath,” &c. Ps. ci. 9–11. “For I have-eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping; because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast listed me up and cast me down. My days are-like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.” The anger of God means his internal displeasure