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an offer made, and a talent bestowed ; and yet great is the danger of neglecting it; yea, so much greater is our danger, if we do neglect it, as the salvation itself is great. Hence the apostle, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation." Heb. ii. 3. Here we see it may be neglected, however great and universal it be; and then there being no other door of hope, well may it be said, “ How shall we escape ?” And well also might the apostle, in another place, represent those who do thus neglect, and tread under foot the blood of the covenant, &c. as being worthy of a “much sorer punishment” than those who, despising " Moses' law, died without mercy.” See Heb. x. 28. This points out a dreadful hereafter; else what sense is there in this passage? What, then, is this much sorer punishment, than death without mercy ? Surely, it must be the same thing, which is, in other words, declared to be the portion of such as know not God, and obey not the gospel, viz. that they “ shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." 2 Thess. i. 9.
When the Almighty first laid a positive prohibitory injunction on our first parents, he pronounced immediate death upon the breach of it.. But, strange to think! a lying persuasion to the contrary, soon prevailed on them to disobey the voice of their Creator, they ate, they died, they lost the image they were made in; and they went to tacking fig-leaves together for a covering. We read their conduct, and condemn their disobedience; we wonder at their believing a liar, in direct contradiction to the voice of eternal truth. But, alas ! how many of us are acting the same part over! We read in the plain, undisguised words of our Saviour, the “everlasting punishment” of the wicked; and that it is in consequence of their omission of what the righteous are found in ; yet so expert are too many, at tacking fig-leaves together, and seeking out many inventions, that the same old serpent, with the same old lie, easily prevails in his attempts to seduce them. And though his promises of life eternal to the wicked, and that they shall not die an everlasting death, or receive an everlasting punishment, are direct contradictions to Christ's and his apostle's declaration, yet many will be led away by his delusions; and as Adam and Eve found him to be a liar, and immediately felt the truth of their Maker's assertion, in that spiritual death which came upon them, and in their being driven out of the paradisical garden, and from the divine presence; so, doubtless, all who are now believing his lying suggestions, and partaking of forbidden fruits by him presented, will have to rue their sad deception; and if they go on in their sins, and in them die impenitent, as they can never go to live and reign with Christ in glory, they might thereby be awfully convinced of the truth of his assertions, in regard to future punishments.
Several ways have been tried, and divers schemes invented, to establish if possible, the eternal salvation of all mankind, as a doctrine of truth; and to render it compatible with the plain doctrines of the gospel. But as the open face of the whole plan of our redemption, as exhibited in sacred writ, wears such a very different aspect from that which this opinion, if true, would stamp upon it, therefore, the advocates for this doctrine seem to be obliged to use many evasions, in order to get rid of the obvious force and meaning of many plain, and very important scripture passages; for instance, the word everlasting, though allowed by the learned, to be the very same word in the original, as the word eternal; and though we find it often used in the New Testament, to express an eternal duration, and never once a temporal, (unless in regard to future punishments,) and no bint any where given us, that it is used on this head, in a sense different from its natural meaning; yet will they insist that here it means infinitely short of eternal. I ingenuously confess, that I think myself under an indispensable obligation, by my profession of christianity, to receive my Saviour's meaning in such important cases, according to the genuine sense of his words; and I do think it is below the character of a Christian, and may I not say, degrading to human reason, to strive to put such a forced construction upon the meaning of these plain expressions. Another evasion is, that the sheep on Christ's right hand, are all mankind; and goats on his left, their sins, or evil dispositions : as if the sins or dispositions, were capable of existence separate from the sinner, and could thus receive an “everlasting punishment:" but this is too weak to deserve much serious attention,
though pretty often advanced. Some urge the ills we suffer here, for our misconduct, against the probability of any considerable sufferings hereafter; but ought not these, on the contrary, to be considered as a strong evidence of future misery? For if the righteous are to consider their present enjoyments of the divine presence, as an earnest or foretaste of the joys to come ; why are not a guilty conscience, remorse, and condemnation for sin here, an earnest, or foretaste of sorrow and sufferings hereafter? And as divine favour is vouchsafed to pious persons, as an encouragement to press forward towards the prize of eternal blessedness; why is not the sinner's anxiety of soul for evils committed, to be considered as an urgent call, to “flee from the wrath to come.”
Among the divers schemes contrived to render this sin-pleasing opinion plausible, and if possible consistent with scripture, there is one which has been published to the world under the specious title of " Union, or a Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and his Church, by James Relly.”
This author has been considered as one of the greatest advocates for what they call the doctrine of universal salvation; let us, then, examine his foundation a little, for though it may be altogether needless to enter into a paragraphical confutation of his performance, or to follow him in the various ways in which he aims to hold up the same thing; yet, if we can overthrow his foundation, the building will fall; if we hew down the body of the tree, the branches must perish. Nevertheless, in order to counteract the hurtful tendency of his publication on the minds of such as don't fully see through the nature of his colourings and representations, it may be best to be somewhat particular upon such parts of it as contain the most seeming force of argument, or by the round of words may most likely hurt his readers: for his performance will not suffer us to doubt that he verily believed his own remark, viz: “ The truth itself being seldom that which the reader falls in love with, it is language, sounds, and pomp of words, that enamour a fluttering world.” * Were it not for this, his piece would need no answer, and perhaps had it not been for this he had never ventured to propose
* Preface, page 1.
such a system to mankind. However, as he has proposed it, dressed up in delusive colours, which may, probably, by its being, to use his own language, "pleasing to the ear, and striking to the mind," * prove enamouring, to such as love liberty,--let us strip it of its trappings, and view it in its naked form, whereby its deformities will soon appear. He
supposes a union to have existed from “ before the foundation of the world,” between Christ and all mankind. This union is his foundation stone; on this stands his whole fabric; and this be would have us believe to be “ necessary to the equity of salvation by Jesus,” (page 1,) and that there is “ no consistency" therein “ without it.” Sometimes he speaks of it as a “ union between Christ and his church,” but the whole scope of his treatise evinces that he applies it to all mankind, and that he holds it forth as rendering us one with Christ, even prior “ to our apparent personal existence;" (p. 17.) that this union takes in all men in such a manner as renders Christ's "condition theirs in every state which he passes through;” (p. 12.) that they “ are not twain in any condition, but constantly one in all things." P. 26.
This is the genuine sense of his doctrine, the hinge on which the whole turns; and this being an absolute mistake in itsell, and it being certain that no sach union ever existed, nor ever could, it follows that his whole foundation is only imaginary.
Now that it cannot be as he pretends, let us advert to 2 Cor. v. 19.: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” Here we find a work of reconciliation, which could not be if such an extensive union had forever existed; for where is the necessity, or even possibility of a reconciliation between such as were always so united as never to be "twain in any thing ?" Indeed, the very work of this reconciliation is 'making“ of twain one new man.' Ephes. ii. 15. Therefore not always one, but really twain till made one by this reconciliation. We, in a disobedient, unconverted state, are all sinners; but Christ was always " separate from sinners." Heb. vii. 26. As sinners, we were “ sometimes darkness;" Epbés. v. 8. but Christ is and always was light, and between light and darkness there is no communion. But to be brief, if such a union bad existed, as Relly urges, there had been no kind of necessity for the sufferings of Christ, no possibility of our sinning, and so no need of a Saviour; for if we were always one with him who never fell, then we never fell; if we never were “ twain in any thing,” then the moment we fell, he fell: if so, his sufferings were in vain, and we might as well have suffered to ransom him, as he to ransom us.
* Preface, page 1.
But the author himself, in the course of his works, has abundantly contradicted this notion of oneness; for (p.41.) being pinched with an objection from 1 Peter iii. 18.“ Christ also hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust,” he is obliged to distinguish between Christ's “individual character," wherein he grants he was sinless; and his character as “head, and representative of the church," under which he holds him to have been made sin, and that he was “punished with that death and condemnation which was due to man's offence."* But how is it possible for our Saviour to be in his “individual character” sinless, if he was always in the same condition with the sinful people, never "twain in any thing, but constantly one in all things ?" Surely if so, then one in sin; one in “ individual character," as much as in any thing else. Besides, if he had two characters, they had two, or not one in all things; if he suffered as the head of the church, they suffered so too, or else a twain is admitted. So that take it which way we will, his distinction stands him in no stead, and he must, if he will be upright, grant there is no such union; or that Christ is absolutely a sinner, as much as we, and that in his own “individual character:" or if this don't suit, take it the other end foremost; and it must be allowed that we were forever as free from sin as he ; or the twain comes in again, and destroys the union, the oneness" in all things."
As to Christ's being “made sin for us,” it is plain, that this means a sin offering, or sacrifice for sin; for to suppose him made real sin is gross blasphemy, and what Relly himself seems to abhor; and yet without allowing him to have been a real
* Surely he did not suffer eternal death; though Relly maintains this to be due to man's offence.