Page images
PDF
EPUB

and exemplified by, a course of conduct in conformity to the will of the Supreme God. When thus manifested, it forms the basis of every good and moral character. All mental and physical powers are derived from the Creator, while their correct exercise is left to the control of each individual, therefore the formation of character, whether good or bad, is the production of each voluntary agent, for which he is held strictly responsible at the bar of God. Whoever lives according to the principles of justice and eternal truth will secure for himself, internal and external holiness; and whatever is right will be esteemed and complied with, because it is right, and all wrong will be detested, whether in theory or practice, because it is in conflict with the will of God. A heart thus moulded and a character formed on such a principle, will be after the image of the Creator, and ensure present and future happiness. However much we are aided by the grace of God in the formation of this character, in view of our sinful and fallen state, and though we are wholly dependent on grace for justification; yet the grace of Christ will not contravene our definition of human holiness.

The question might here be presented, if any can and do secure the holiness requisite to enter heaven, why will not all do so, and thus all mankind be saved? We verily believe that adequate provisions are made for all, and that all may come and have life; yet the human race are not, therefore, necessarily saved, made holy and prepared for heaven. There may be a suitable antidote for a certain disease which when correctly used accomplishes a speedy cure, yet all who are afflicted with the identical disease are not necessarily healed, though the remedy is within their reach, whether applied or not. The question of the final holiness and happiness of the human race, will not depend mainly on the grace of God, available to all by repentance and

faith; but whether this must be the case without the possibility of a failure, because God has decreed and determined it should be the case without respect to circumstances, conditions, or character. · We say no; while the advocates of the unconditional and certain holiness of all mankind reply in the affirmative. What argument do they advance to prove this point?

1. The Paternity of God as the Creator of the human family. This has been the theme of many a sermon, and essay, and the burden of the most earnest appeals to awaken sensibility in the bosom of man. Wherever the sound of Universalism has been heard, this has been the loudest and sweetest note. And many have reasoned from man to God, and have attached the same feelings to the heart of the Lord, which they have found in their own hearts, therefore they have concluded that he was like themselves. And because they have no pleasure in destroying their fellows, but prefer to elevate them to purity and happiness, therefore the Lord will not destroy his creatures, but will render them holy and happy. Thus their feelings supplant the place of the Bible, and decide peremptorily what God will do in the face of all he has already done to the contrary. He has destroyed the world once ; also nations, and people, and he may do it again, although human feelings stand opposed. Whatever He has done at one time, He may do again under like circumstances. And whatever is consistent with his spirit and character in time past, will be consonant with his will in the future, provided the conduct of his creatures falls under the administration of his righteous government. Therefore the paternity of God will not necessarily procure the final holiness and happiness of all mankind. But more to the point. This question has been stated and reasoned thus :

1. “That God is the Father of the whole human family, because he has created them in his own image.”

2. “ That this relation exists independent of moral character, and can never be dissolved.”

3. “ Therefore God will always be the Father of the whole human family.”.

We do not discover what particular bearing the above reasoning can have on the doctrine of the necessary holiness and salvation of the human race, unless a necessary connection can be shown to exist between the relation of God, as the Father of all mankind in the sense of Creator, and the certain holiness of all his creatures. It is not necessary to prove, that God is our Father, because he created us in his image, and that God will continue to sustain that relation irrespective of human character, therefore he will always be our Father in the same sense that he is our Creator, unless we design to infer the necessary holiness and happiness of all mankind because God sustains this relation to all his creatures. It yet remains to be proven, that the holiness and happiness of the human race, are an unavoidable result from the fact that God has created us in his own image. · In what particular sense is God the Father of our race, that communicates this saving virtue to the relation existing between God and man, as Creator and creature, which will secure their necessary salvation? It cannot be, because he is our Creator merely, for he has created beasts, and birds, and reptiles, and it is not contended, that this will secure their holiness and final happiness. All the virtue and glory of this relation is centered in the fact, that God created man in his own image. Nothing else was created in the image of God. If the image of God in man will ultimately and necessarily procure the final holiness of our race, then the argument would stand thus :

That God created man in his own image and likeness, which constitutes him our Father in a higher sense than he is the Father of all other created objects. ,

And since the image of God in which man was created is indestructible, and consequently this relation will always exist.

Therefore, no “other consummation consists with the spirit of God as the Universal Father," than the holiness ..of all. : We wish to state the argument fairly and give it all the

force it can claim, and then to bring the truth into close conflict, that the triumph may be more manifest.

In the further examination of this subject, we shall notice, the image of God in which man was created—then whether this image can afford the necessary virtue to the relation existing between God as the Father, in the sense of Creator, (we are thus specific, because God is our Father in a different sense from that in which he is our Creator, in relation to the holiness and happiness of believers,) and mankind as his creatures, so as to secure finally the holiness of all rational intelligences--and whether this relation consisting irrespective of character can secure the realization of the doctrine we are combating.

IMAGE OF GOD IN WHICH MAN WAS CREATED.. Man was created in the image of God, after his likeness,-he most resembles God of all created things. It cannot consist in his corporeal nature, for if bodily form be predicated of God, then the existence of Deity is bounded by 'geometrical limits. This is perfectly absurd, for the Infinity and Omnipotence of God, essential attributes to his divine existence, would be destroyed. Nor does the image of God in man, consist in the sceptre of dominion granted him at his creation by his Creator, for after he had been formed, and was made a living soul, this dominion was entrusted to him, not as an essential element to constitute him a man ; but to elevate him as an accountable being and as lord of this lower world, only subordinate to God. His creation was a work quite distinct from the act which conferred upon him such crowning authority. Therefore the image of God in man must lie in his soul and spiritual nature.

1. In spirituality. Image means likenessone thing resembling another. The son is like his father, or the daughter the image of the mother. The soul of man has the image of God enstamped by His plastic hand, for they both possess spirituality. God is a Spirit, incorporeal, invisible, and incorruptible--without parts or dimensionsfrom all eternity the same, and pervading the universe with his presence. He is emphatically spiritual God is a Spirit;" John iv. 24 ; and He created man a spiritual being, “the spirit shall return to God who gave it;" Eccl. ii. 7 ; therefore since both are spiritual, God and the soul of man ; in this we discover a similarity and the image of the Creator.

2. In essential life. The existence of God is underived ; but man began to be. He is unoriginated, self-existent, and an immortal being, “ without beginning of days, or end of years," therefore a “living God;" but man was created and is dependent, yet his soul is a living subsistence, life is inseparably connected and is one of its distinguishing attributes. To take life from the soul, is to reduce it into nonentity. We can form no conception of the soul without blending essential life with the very idea of its existence. The body of itself is motionless, inactive, and lifeless ; while the soul is always full of activity and enjoys life underived in the sense and manner that the body derives life; and it can not die in the sense of ceasing to be, for it has

« PreviousContinue »