« ПредишнаНапред »
sis, and argues upon it as literally true, that, I lowers, shall be transformed into the likeness according to this account, all the posterity of of his glorious person, and shall enter with Adain, the whole human race without excep- him into the joy of their Lord.' tion, were victims to mortality, in consequence From the remaining part of this passage, a)of the fall of their first parents in Paradise, though it may not be possible to ascertain. thai, according to the same account, as all were with certainty and precision whai is meant by sufferers through him, so all shall be raised, the kingdom with which Christ is entrusted, to life, and restored to that state of dignity and which he shall ultimately deliver up to and happiness from which Adam unhappily the Father, nor in what sense he shall become fell-that thus Christ shald amply repair the subject to him who subjected all things to ruins of the fall, and, the second Adam com- him—yet we may safely deduce the following pletely efface the dishonour and misery en conclusions : that, after the resurrection of the tailed by the first.'
just, Christ will be invested by the Father Mr. Belsham, in his excellent commentary with authority and power to accomplish some on this passage, further remarks, that it is great porpose with regard to mankind—that very plain, that the resurrection of which the that purpose can be nothing but the compleapostle treats in this celebrated chapter is the tion of the wise and benevolent design of the di. resurrection, not of a chosen few, of a select vine government, in the total abolition of the nuraber, whether greater or less, but that of calamities introduced by the fall—that the acthe whole human race. The apostle's lan- complishment of this gracious purpose alone guage is so clear and full, with respect to the constitutes the end, the grand consummation of final happiness of those who are thus raised, all things, and that, though this consummaand that their resurrection to life will be ulti- tion will be opposed by numerous and potent mately a blessing, that the generality of enemies, yet that Christ will exert the power Christians have supposed that he is here with which he is invested, until he has uttertreating of the resurrection of the virtuous ly subdued them, when, having completed the only. But this is not the fact. He evident-end for which authority was delegated to him, ly speaks of the restoration of the whole hu- he will willingly resign it into the hand of man race- All who die by Adam shall be the Gracious Parent, the Universal Sovereign, raised by Christ otherwise the apostle's as. from whom he received it, who shall then be sertion would be untrue, The case, then, come forever all things to all his creatures. would have been this : As in Adam all die, so This appears to be the clear and express in Cbrist shall a select number, a small pro- doctrine of the passage, and if it be so it is deportion, be made alive. But this is not the cisive. The ultimate and universal prevaapostle's doctrine. His expressions are equal.lence of immortality, virtue, and happiness, is ly universal in each clause. All die in Adam. thus plainly disclosed, and asserted with all The same All, without any exception, with the energy and dignity worthy of the exalted out any restriction, shall by Christ be restor- theme. It is thus evident, that the power with ed to life, and ultimately to holiness and ever- which Christ is invested is not given him lasting happiness. And, to guard against the in vain, but will be completely effectualabuse of this doctrine, he proceeds to declare, that his triumph will be perfeci-that there that all will not be admitted at the same time is no rule, no authority, no power which is to the participation of final happiness; for, opposed to him, which he will not utterly though all men will be restored to life, and abolish, no enemy which he will not put unraised to happiness, all will not be made hap- der his feet. But the enemies with which he py at once, but each will be advanced as he is at war, the enemies which it was the labour becomes qualified for his reward, till in the of his life, the object of his death, and the end end the enemies of Christ shall all be sub- of his present exaltation, to exterminate, are, dued, and his authority shall be universally sin and misery, and death, the consequence acknowledged and obeyed—but every one in of sin. And over these we are assured by his proper class, not all at once. There will this passage that he will completely triumph. be a gradation in the introduction to final. The consequence is certain. The conclusion blessedness, depending upon the characters is inevitable. Immortality, holiness, and hapof those who are to partake of it, “Christ, piness, must in the end universally prevail. the first-fruits.” He is already raised to life, How else is it possible that these declarations and his virtues, his labours, and his sufferings, can be accomplished? How can Christ put have received their reward. He is the glori- down all the rule, all the authority which is ous first-fruits, the specimen and the pledge of opposed to him, if a malignant and omnipotent the final and universal harvest. “Afterwards, spirit (called the devil) succeed in making the they who are Christ's at his coming.” The great majority of mankind his victims, and true disciples and coinmunity of Jesus, all the through the ages of eternity exercise all unupright and virtuous in every age and country, controlled dominion over them? How can will next be raised to life and happiness, and Christ subdue all things unto himself, if this this joyful event will next take place at that malevolent being and his agents eternally long-expected period, when Jesus shall ap- counteract and oppose him? How can God pear again in his own and in his Father's be all in all, if the greater number of his creaglory, invested with the high commission to tures incessantly execrate his name, and vent raise the dead and to judge the world, when the most horrid blasphemies against him? the dead in Christ shall rise first, and, being How can death, the last enemy with which he acknowledged by him as his friends and fol. conflicts, be destroyed, if it succeed in blotting 13
out of existence for ever millions of millions duct, it is only necessary to convince them of human beings? The only idea it is possi. that it will terminate in their ruin. ble to annex to the destruction of death is the If men cannot be restrained from vice by prevalence of life; but, if (to repeat what has the apprehension of a reasonable and just de already been said) death effect the total and gree of punishment; it is vain to hope to deeternal extinction of the conscious existence ter them by menaces, which they are satisfied of the great majority of mankind, it is not are both unreasonable and impossible. To vanquished—it is the victor; it is not destroy- suppose that they will encourage themselves ed-it triumphs.
in sin, from a persuasion that the misery which There appears to be no reason whatever for they must inevitably bring upon themselves restricting the application of this passage sole- in consequence of it will terminate in their ly to the righteous, as with a view of avoiding reformation, is to imagine that they are insane the force of the preceding observations, some as well as vicious, and to betray the baseness have contended, because the context does not of our own hearts, by showing that we form require this limitationbecause the expres- a worse opinion of mankind than the worst sions which the apostle employs are of too of men deserve. universal a signification to admit of it, and be- Indeed, it is hardly conceivable, that the cause it is difficult to conceive that any thing reasonable and just, the solemn and impressive but the wish to support a system could have sug- sanctions which the Christian religion gives gested the idea, or indicated the necessity of it. to the Christian law would be attended with
Such is the scriptural evidence in favour of no greater moral benefit than it is to be feared the ultimate and universal prevalence of holi- they are, were they always scripturally enness and happiness. All the passages which forced. It requires, however, but little achave been cited appear necessarily to imply quaintance with human nature, to know, that, the truth of this opinion; to some of them it in order to render the fear of punishment availseems impossible to affix any other meaning. ing in the hour of temptation, it is absolutely There is not a single passage in the Old or necessary to satisfy
the mind both of its equiNew Testament which does not perfectly ty and certainty. The passions of the heart harmonize with this doctrine; but several of never were, and never can be, counteracted, the most striking, impressive, and cheering either by actual injustice, or by unreasonable assurances of scripture are totally incompatible menaces; and to teach that an eternity of with the opinions which oppose it. With suffering will be the consequence of the slightthe highest and noblest conceptions we can est offence, is to open the dood gates of sin, to form of the nature and dispensations of the deprive the mind of the most powerful motives Deity, with the nature of man and the nature to struggle against its improper inclinations, of punishment-in a word, with all that natı- and even to stimulate it to the pursuit of the ral and revealed religion teach concerning unhallowed objects of its desire, by forcing it God, concerning his human offspring, and to suspect the weakness, if not to doubt the concerning a future state, it perfectly accords. reality of the checks by which it is allempted With this body of evidence in its favour, and to restrain it. Were there, therefore, no other with no real counter-evidence of any kind to argument against the doctrines of Endless oppose it, it may surely be considered as es- Misery and of Total Destruction, than that tablished.
afforded by their tendency to lessen the If any one should fear that its inculcation sanctions of morality, by destroying the fear may lesson the dread of future punishment, of punishment, this alone would be sufficient and thus operate to the disadvantage of piety to justify a distrust of their truth. and virtue, the apprehension must originate The effects of the unamiable doctrine of in a misconception of the doctrine, or an igno- Endless Misery, and of its kindred opinions, rance of human nature. To teach men that on the temper and conduct, have been strikingthey will be visited with a just degree of pun- ly depicted by an able advocate of the doctrine ishment for the sins they commit—that every of destruction. •According to men's sentiments deviation from rectitude, even the slightest of God, and of the designs and measures of his and the most secret, that every improper feel government,'observes Mr. Bourn, in his Dising and thought which is cherished, must course on the Gospel Doctrine of Future punishbring with it a proportionate degree of suffering, ment, such hath been the influence of religion must inevitably do so, unless the constitution on their temper and conduct. And, if they have of the mind and the whole frame of nature be not framed to themselves a God after their changed—that those who indulge in the least own evil hearts, they have framed their own degree in vice must necessarily, in all situa- hearts agreeable to that false and evil charactions and at all seasons, be the worse for it, ter which they were taught to ascribe to God. and that, if they continue in a vicious course And when they have believed the Deity to to the end of life, both the nature of the case, love and hate, to elect and reprobate, nations, and the repeated and solemn declarations of parties, or individuals, without reason or regard scripture assure us that the pain they will be to the ends of good government, they themselves made to suffer in a future world will be most have become more arbitrary, bigoted, fierce, severe and lasting—to suppose that such doc- unmerciful, and more addicted to hate and trine will encourage sin, is to imagine that persecute their fellow-creatures, all who are men can be enamoured of misery, and that, not of their own church, and whom they supto excite them to any particular course of con- posed to be reprobated of God.
It is hardly credible, that inhumanity and can be done to reclaim the unhappy offender ? cruelty would ever have been carried to such What means can be taken to enlighten his excess in the Christian world as they actual- mind and meliorate his heart? What discily have been, had they not derived counte- pline is best adapted to his mental and moral nance and support from these antichristian disorder ? What will lead him back to virand barbarous notions. Tyrants and perse- tue and to happiness most speedily, and with cutors, if they have not invented these doc- least pain? Such is the feeling of the mind trines, yet have applied them to excuse to their enlightened by the generous doctrine we have own consciences, and to vindicate to others, endeavoured to establish. Could it but enter the most iniquitous and cruel proceedings; the heart of every legislator—did it but guide and when they had made the very worst use the hand that constructs the cell of the poor of their power, in persecuting good men—at captive–did it apportion his pallet of straw least men who deserved no such punishment and his scanty meal—did it determine the —they have persuaded themselves and others, completeness and the duration of his exclusion that they were acting like the Deity, espous- from the light of day and the pure breeze of his cause, and maintaining his character and heaven-did it apply his manacles, (if, dishis glory.
daining to treat a human being with more in“The court of inquisition, as established in dignity than is practised towards the most many countries, and as far as it differs from savage brutes, it did not dash his chains to civil courts of judicature, is declared by the the earth,) what a different aspect would these authors and maintainers of it to be the nearest miserable mansions soon assume! What difimitation of the divine tribunal, and it is avow- ferent inhabitants would they contain! Priedly founded upon and justified by the doc- sons would not then be the hotbeds of vice, in trines of reprobation and of eternal torments. which the youthful offender grows into the harJews, infidels, and heretics, are judged in that dened criminal, and the want of shame succourt to be criminals, and are condemned. ceeds the abolition of principle, but hospitals And how do they vindicate this procedure, of the mind, in which its moral disorder is rebut by supposing them to be all reprobated moved by the application of effectual remedies. and abhorred of God ? And they execute The person who habitually contemplates them, not by a quick despatch, but by the all mankind as children of one common Famost lingering torments. And what do they ther, and appointed to one common destiny, plead for this cruelty, but that it is an act of cannot be a persecutor or a bigot. He may faith-that they are doing the work of God, see much error which he may lament, and and that he will expose those wretches to the much misconduct which he may pity; but a like torments for ever? Thus they conquer generous affection towards the whole human nature by faith, as they express it ; that is, race will dilate his heart. To the utmost of they extinguish all sense of justice and relent- his ability, he will enlighten the ignorant, ings of mercy in their own nature, and harden correct the erring, sustain the weak, bear with themselves in iniquity and barbarity, by the be- the prejudiced, and reclaim the vicious. Firm liefof those very doctrines we are exposing, and to his own principles, he will not trench on by them they defend themselves in the face of the liberty of others. He will not harshly the world, and give a colour and sanction of censure, nor suspect an evil motive where inreligion to the most enormous wickedness.' tegrity and conscience obviously direct the
The doctrine, on the other hand, which it conduct. Mildness will be on his lips, foris the object of the preceding pages to esta- bearance will mark his actions, and universal blish, discloses a principle which is more be- charity will connect him with the wise and nevolent in its tendency, and which, were it good of all climes, and of all religions. properly felt, and invariably regarded in the He who believes that a Being of almighty affairs of life, would have a happier effect on power, unerring wisdom, and unbounded love, society than any other opinion which has is seated at the helm of affairs, and is making ever engaged the attention of men. It leads every event promote, in its appointed measure, to a distinction which is but beginning to be the highest happiness of all intelligent creaobserved, even by the intelligent and enlight- tures, must possess perpetual serenity and ened, and which, when it shall come to be peace. The storm of adversity may gather general, will alter astonishingly the moral above him and burst upon his head, bui he is condition of the world. It leads to an exact prepared against it, and it cannot dismay him. discrimination between the criminal and the He knows that the evils which encompass crime. While it inspires us with abhorrence him are only blessings in disguise. The fair of the offence, it softens the heart with com- face of nature smiles upon him with a brightpassion for the unhappy condition of the offen-er radiance. The bonndless expanse of header, induces us to do every thing in our pow- ven above him, the painted plain beneath him, er to change it, to give him better views and the glorious sun which diffuses light and life better feelings. When we hear of the perpe- over the ample and beautiful creation, are tration of a crime, we are too apt to think only magnificent gifts of his Father, on which his of punishment. What suffering can be too enlightened eye beholds engraven the promise great for such a wretch ? is the exclamation of his higher destiny. The narrow precincts which bursts froin almost every lip. The senti- of the tomb can neither bound nor obstruct his ment is worthy of the unlovely doctrines which enlarged view. It extends beyond the circle produce and cherish it. A more benevolent of the earth, and reaches to that celestial system would excite a different feeling. What' world, where progression in excellence is infinite, and happiness is unchanging and im- | of these sublime and cheering trìths would mortal. Nothing can disturb his steady con- have on the mind, by the feeling of which he fidence. In the most awful moment of his who has made this humble attempt to illusearthly existence, his feeling is sublime as his trate and establish them has been conscious destiny is glorious. Even while he is par- while engaged in the pleasing task, with sintially subdued by death, and dragged to the cerity he might say, that it would be highconfines of the tomb-while he is sinking, in- ly favourable to benevolence and to happiness. to it, and it closes over him, he can exclaim A more ardent love of the Supreme Being, a in triumph, 0, death, where is thy sting? 0, purer and warmer attachment to his fellow. grave, where is thy victory! Thanks be to creatures, a more anxious desire to promote God who giveth me the victory, through Jesus the attainment of genuine excellence, both in Christ, my Lord !
himself and others, has glowed in his heart, Such are the effects of an enlightened and while meditating on these delightful subjects. scriptural view of the perfections and govern- Uniformly has he seemed to himself to rise ment of God, and the nature and destiny of from the contemplation more deeply affected man. Indeed, a firm persuasion, that our than before with the emotions of piety and beCreator is possessed of every possible excel-nevolence. May the perusal of these pages lence, that he is our constant and best Friend, produce the same happy effect on the mind of that we are entirely at his merciful disposal, the reader. May it inspire him with a fervent that he is conducting us, and all our brethren love of God. May it cherish in his bosom an of mankind, by the wisest means, to the high- ardent and generous attachment to the whole est happiness, and that the natural and moral famiiy of mankind. May it enable him to disorders which aiflict us are the instruments enjoy with a more reasonable, pure, and so. by which he will eventually establish the uni- cial satisfaction, the blessings of existence, versal and eternal reign of purity and bliss, and to sustain, in a manner worthy of a man cannot but tend to expand the heart, to cherish and a Christian, the affliction which may the benevolent affections, to soften the man- await him. May it continually cheer him with ners, and to unite the whole human race in the most glorious hopes, and fit him to real. the tenderest bands of friendship and affection. ize them. And may the anticipation of the Were it right to judge of the general effect universal and everlasting reign of Purity and which the frequent and serious contemplation | Happiness hasten his own attainment of both! 248