by Thomas Whittemore
GOD THE CREATOR OF MEN
1. God is the Creator of all men. "He hath made of one blood, all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth." Acts 17:26 He would not have created intelligent beings, had he known they were to be forever miserable. To suppose that God would bring beings into existence who he knew would be infinite losers by that existence, is to charge him with the utmost malignity. The existence itself would not be a blessing, but a curse; the greatness of which cannot be described. As God is infinite in knowledge, and as he sees the end from the beginning, he must have known before the creation, the result of the existence he was about to confer, and whether, upon the whole, it would be a blessing; and , as he was not under any necessity to create man, being also infinitely benevolent, he could not have conferred an existence that he knew would end in the worst possible consequences to his creatures.
GOD THE FATHER OF MEN
2. God is the Father of all men. "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?" Mal. 2:10 A kind Father will not punish his children but for their good. God is evidently called the Father of all men in the Scriptures, and this is not an unmeaning name; he has the disposition and principles of a Father. He loves with a Father's love; he watches with a Father's care; he reproves with a Father's tenderness; he punishes with a Father's design. God is the Father of all men; and, therefore, he cannot make mankind endlessly miserable.
GOD THE LORD, OR OWNER OF MEN
3. All men, of right, belong to God. "Behold, all souls are mine," saith the Lord. "As the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine." Ezek. 18:4 God will not give up what belongeth to him, to the dominion of sin and Satan forever. All men are God's by creation; he made them all. They are his by preservation; he sustains them all. They were his at first, and they always have remained in his care. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." That God, who says to men, "If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel," can never abandon his own creatures. He will ever exercise a gracious care over them, as will be more fully seen in the following reasons.
ALL MEN COMMITTED TO CHRIST'S CARE
4. God hath given all things to Christ, as the moral Ruler of the world. "Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Psalms 2:8 "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." John 3:35 "All things," here, means all intelligent beings. So say the best commentators. (The word things is in italics in the KJV which means it is not in the Greek. We are not talking about trees here.)
5. God gave all beings to Christ that he might save them. "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." John 17:2 This plainly evinces, that it was God's design, in giving Christ dominion over all flesh, that they should all enjoy eternal life.
6. It is certain that Christ will save all that the Father hath given him. "All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out." John 6:37 These three propositions are irrefragable evidence of the final happiness of all men. 1st. God hath given all things to Christ. 2d. All that God hath given him shall come to him; and 3d. him that cometh he will in nowise cast out. All are given; all shall come; and none shall be cast out. What is the unavoidable conclusion?
THE WILL OF GOD
7. It is THE WILL of God that all men shall be saved. "Who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth." KJV 1Tim. 2:4 By "all men", in this passage, is undoubtedly to be understood all the human race. Salvation comes through the belief of the truth. God wills that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth, and be saved thereby.
8. God inspires the hearts of the good to pray for the salvation of all men, and say, as Jesus said, "Thy will be done." Matt. 6:10. Adam Clarke says, "Because he wills the salvation of all men, therefore he wills that all men should be prayed for; as in 1 Tim. 2:1. "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." Would God inspire the hearts of his saints to pray for the salvation of all mankind, if he knew they would not all be saved?
9. Jesus came to do the will of God. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:34 "Lo, I come to do they will, O God." Heb. 10:9 The will of God is, that all men be saved. This is his will, by way of distinction and preeminence. Jesus came to do this will. He came as the Savior, as the Savior of all men. He came as the good Shepherd, to seek and save that which was lost. He came to save all men, not only those who lived on the earth while he was here, but all who lived before, and all who have since lived, and all who shall live. Jesus gave himself a ransom for all; he tasted death for every man; and unto him, at last, every knee shall bow, and every tongure shall confess him Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Such is the way in which Jesus does the will of God.
10. The will of God cannot be resisted. "He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Dan. 4:35. Who can resist a being of Almighty power? What God wills to take place, must take place. He wills the salvation of all men because it is right. A God of purity cannot desire endless sin and rebellion. If he wills the salvation of all men, he wills all the means by which it shall be accomplished; it must therefore take place.
11. God has no other will besides the will to save all men. "He is in one mind, and who can turn him." Job 23:13.
THE NATURE OF GOD
12. God is love and love worketh no ill. "God is love." 1 John 4:8. "Love worketh no ill." Rom. 13:10. This is a very forcible argument. God's nature is the very essence of benevolence, and benevolence cannot be the origin of endless evil. If love worketh no ill, God can work no ill; and, therefore, God cannot be the author of endless evil.
13. God loves all mankind. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." John 3:16: and, as Jesus died for all men, so God loves all men. This argument adds great force to the last.
14. God loves even his enemies. For he requires men to love their enemies, which he could not do if he hated his. (Matt. 5:44) And Jesus declared, "for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:35. This is but an amplification of the preceding argument. If God loves his enemies, he certainly loves all men; for no one doubts that he loves his friends. And can God cause those to be endlessly miserable whom he loves?
THE WISDOM OF GOD
15. God is wise; and it cannot be a dictate of wisdom to create beings, and then make their existence a curse by entailing endless suffering to it. God foresaw all the consequences of our creation when he made us. He knew fully what the result would be to each individual. Is it possible, that infinite goodness could breathe life into unoffending dust, when it was clearly foreseen that endless evil would ensue? It was not possible. God must have created only to bless. "Love worketh no ill."
16. The wisdom of God is "full of mercy," and "without partiality." James 3:17. "Full of mercy," says Adam Clarke, i.e. "ready to pass by a transgression, and to grant forgiveness to those who offend; and PERFORMING EVERY POSSIBLE ACT OF KINDNESS." Surely, a God of infinite power and skill, who "performs every possible act of kindness," will save his fallen creatures from their sins. "Without partiality," i.e. without making a difference. God is no respecter of persons. He is kind to all men, and he will perform every "possible act of kindness" to all men.
THE PLEASURE OF GOD
17. The pleasure of God is in favor of the salvation of all men; and therefore, neither death, sin, nor pain, can be the ultimate object of God in reference to man. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." Ezek. 33:11. Death and sin and pain may exist for a time; but if God has no pleasure in them of themselves, they are not the end at which he aims, but the means by which he accomplishes that end. The end in which God rests as his pleasure, design, or purpose, must be essentially benevolent, because he is essentially a benevolent God. Neither death, nor sin, nor pain can be his ultimate plan or pleasure; they are the means by which his holy and righteous designs are carried into effect.
18. God created all men expressly for his pleasure, and, therefore, not for ultimate death. "Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11 Adam Clarke has a fine remark on this passage. He says, "He made all things for his pleasure; and through the same motive he preserves. Hence, it is most evident, that he hateth nothing that he has made; and could have made no intelligent creature with the design to make it eternally miserable. It is strange, that a contrary supposition has ever entered into the heart of man; and it is high time that the benevolent nature of the Supreme God, should be fully vindicated from aspersions of this kind."
19. The pleasure of God shall prosper in the hand of Christ. "The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." Isaiah 53:10 Clarke says, on Isaiah 53:10, that the pleasure of God is, "to have all men saved, and brought to the knowledge of the truth." Compare this with the 20th section.
20. God's pleasure shall surely be accomplished. "So shall by word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11. "I will do all my pleasure." 46:10 Does not this passage show that God's pleasure shall certainly be accomplished? His word shall not return unto him void: it shall accomplish what he please, and prosper in the object which he sent it to accomplish. God has no pleasure in the death or suffering of the sinner. That was not the object of creation. God created men for his pleasure, and his pleasure shall certainly be accomplished.
21. God has purposed the salvation of all men. "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." (Eph. 1:9,10) It is evident from this passage, that God has purposed to gather together all things in Christ. God's purpose agrees with his will or pleasure. He wills to have all men saved; he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked; and accordingly he has purposed to gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth. This is God's purpose; this is what he has purposed in himself. And this is not the gathering together of those things only which are in Christ, but the gathering together of all things in him. "Unto him shall the gathering of the people be." (Gen. 49:10) And Jesus confirms this: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32) Thus we see all things are to be gathered into Christ. They are all to have his spirit, and partake of his new creation; for "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17) By the phrase "all things," as Archbishop Newcome says, it meant, "all persons, all intelligent beings. See the neuter for the masculine, John 6:37,39." See more on this subject under the 78th section.
22. The purpose of God cannot fail: it must certainly be accomplished. "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, surely as I have purposed, so shall it stand." (Isaiah 14:24) "For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?"( verse 27) "I have purposed it, I will also do it." (46:11) Now, whatever God purposes must take place. God can have no second thoughts; hence, Paul speaks of "the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel (i.e. the previous consultations or deliberations) of his own will." (Eph 1:11) What, then, shall hinder the accomplishment of this purpose? Has he formed a plan which he cannot execute? No; the concurrent testimony of the sacred writers is, that whatever God has purposed, SHALL BE DONE. So let it be, O Lord.
THE PROMISES OF GOD
23. God promised to Abraham, his servant, that he would bless all mankind, in his seed. "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:3) "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 22:18) All the nations of the earth, all the families of the earth, according to this promise, are to be blessed in the seed of Abraham. The language is absolute: it is without any condition. "All the nations of the earth shall be blessed." And who is this "seed of Abraham," in whom all the nations and families of the earth shall be blessed? I agree with Dr. Adam Clarke on this matter. He says, in his note on Gen. 12:3, "in thy posterity, in the Messiah, who shall spring from thee, shall all families of the earth be blessed; for as he shall take on him human nature, from the posterity of Abraham, he shall taste death for every man; his gospel shall be preached throughout the world, and innumerable blessings be derived on all mankind, through his death and intercession."
24. God made the same promise to Isaac. "I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham they father, and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 26:3,4) This passage is precisely of the same import with those quoted under section 23. It refers to precisely the same subject, and asserts the same facts. We repeat it here, because God saw fit to repeat the same promise to Isaac which he had made to his father Abraham; and it forms a distinct argument of itself.
25. The same promise was repeated to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. "and in thee, and in thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 28:14) The apostle Paul (and higher authority we do not wish) fully settles the question in regard to who is meant by the "seed of Abraham." He says, "Now to Abraham and his seed, were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, WHICH IS CHRIST." (Gal. 3:16) Christ, then, is the seed of Abraham; and in him ALL the nations and families of the earth shall be blessed.
26. Peter, the apostle, understood this promise as referring to the salvation of men from sin, by Jesus Christ. "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, in thy seed shall all kindreds of the earth be blessed. 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." (Acts 3:25,26) Here we have a third term,-kindreds. All nations of the earth, all families of the earth, and all kindreds of the earth, must certainly signify all mankind. The import of this absolute, unconditional promise is, they shall all be blessed in Christ Jesus.
27. The apostle Paul repeats this promise, and calls it THE GOSPEL. "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3:8) This is a further confirmation, that the blessing promised men in the seed of Abraham, is a spiritual, gospel blessing.
28. There is no threatening of any kind whatsoever in the Scriptures, no law, no penalty, no punishment denounced, which when rightly understood does not harmonize with this promise, for the law is not against the promises of God. "Is the law, then, against the promises of God? God forbid." (Gal. 3:21) The law mentioned in this verse was undoubtedly the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. God was specially careful to frame that law in such a manner, that not a single sentence or particle of it should contradict the promises made by him to Abraham. What those promises were, we have seen. It is equally true, that not a single threatening of punishment for sin, or for unbelief, not a denunciation of hell-fire, or condemnation of any kind of sin, is opposed to the promises of God. Now as those promises most explicitly assert, the final blessing of all nations, kindreds, and families of the earth with salvation from sin in Jesus Christ, so no portion of God's law, no threatening of punishment, should be so construed, interpreted, or explained, as to contradict this; and as the doctrine of endless condemnation for sin does explicitly contradict those promises, that doctrine we may be sure is not revealed in any portion of God's word.
THE OATH OF GOD
29. God hath confirmed his promise by an oath. See Gen. 12:16-18. Heb. 6:13. But the most striking passage, perhaps, is this-"I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, surely shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength." (Isaiah 45:23,24) I think the words of Adam Clarke on the oath of God, are worthy of the deepest consideration. On the words of God, "he sware by himself," Clarke remarks, "He pledged his eternal power and Godhead for the fulfillment of the promise; there was no being superior to himself, to whom he could make appeal, or by whom he could be bound; therefore he appeals to and pledges his immutable truth and godhead." Com. on Heb. 6:13 And again, the same commentator remarks, "The promise pledged his faithfulness and justice; the oath all the infinite perfections of his godhead; for he sware by himself. There is a good saying in Beracoth, on Exodus 32:13. 'Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swearedst by thine own self.' What is the meaning of "thine own self?" Rab Eleazar answered, thus said Moses to the holy blessed God, Lord of all the world, If thou hadst sworn to them by the heavens and the earth, then I should have said, as the heavens and the earth shall pass away, so may thy oath pass away. But now thou hast sworn unto them by thy great Name, which liveth and which endureth forever, and forever, and ever; therefore thy oath shall endure forever and forever and ever." (Com. on Heb. 6:18.)
THE POWER OF GOD
30. God is almighty; nothing can resist his will; nothing can defeat his purpose; nothing can prevent the fulfillment of his promise. "What he had promised he was able to perform." (Rom. 4:21) If God were not almighty, then the world might not be saved; but he is almighty; "none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?" and therefore, in God's own time (and that is the best time), and by his own means, the whole world shall be saved.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST
31. Because God not only wills the salvation of all men; not only hath purposed to save them all; not only hath promised it; not only hath confirmed that promise by an OATH (see previous issues); but also hath provided the means, in the death of Christ, for the salvation of all men. Jesus died for all. "He gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:6) "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9) "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2) Here are three expressions: 1st, "ALL;" 2nd, "EVERYMAN;" 3d, "THE WHOLE WORLD." It seems as though the sacred writers took the utmost care to guard against being misunderstood in this important particular. Some would have us believe (see Prof. Stuart's Com. on Heb. 2:9) that these expressions are to be understood only in a general sense, in opposition to the contracted opinions of the Jews, who confined the blessings of God to their own nation only; and that the words are intended to declare, that Jesus died for Gentiles as well as Jews. We cannot so restrict the sense. Look at the connection in which these passages are found, and it will be seen that the terms used, apply to all men, in the widest sense of these terms. Paul instructs Timothy to pray for all men; not for Jews and Gentiles in the general sense, but for kings and all in authority; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who will have all men to be saved. So John says, "if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father." (1 Epistle John 1:1) Is not the language here designed to apply to all men: Who can dispute it?
32. The labor of Christ will be efficacious for all for whom He died. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied." (Is. 53:2) "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." (John 12:32) If the Redeemer died for all men, can He be satisfied with the salvation of a part only? Can He look back upon his work and say, it is well done? Will He not rather draw all men unto Him, by the power of His truth, and make them holy and happy forever? Are we not authorized to expect such a result, from the fact, that He gave Himself a ransom for all? And if they are all drawn unto Him, will they not all be saved?
33. When Jesus was born, the angel said to the fearful shepherds, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2:10) The tidings of the Redeemer's birth, were certainly good tidings to all people. They should all hear these tidings, and to all they should be good tidings. But how can this be, if a part of the human race are never to be benefited by the Redeemer's sacrifice?
34. The people who heard Jesus preach said, "we have heard Him ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." (John 4:42) Jesus cannot be the Savior of the world, if the world will never be saved. What Jesus taught the Samaritans, that induced them to regard Him as the Savior of the world, may be inferred, 1st. from His conversation with the woman at the well of Jacob, (John 4) and 2nd, from the exclamation of the Samaritans, in the 42nd verse. He evidently did not preach to them the doctrine of endless misery; for would they have concluded from the fact of his preaching that doctrine, that he was THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD?"
35. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, said, "We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." (1 John 4:14) This is the same character that the Samaritans judged the Lord to possess, from his personal instruction. (John 4:42) John says, "We have seen;" i.e. he knew it from his acquaintance with his Master. And do testify. We cannot hide this truth; we will proclaim to men, that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE PROPHETS
36. All the holy prophets have spoken of the restitution of all things. "And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, since the world began." (Acts 3:20,21) This is an important passage of Scripture. "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, (but who hath been crucified, and hath ascended unto heaven, and ) whom the heaven must receive (or contain) until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." This "restitution of all things" is to take place, when Jesus comes down from the heavens, in the sense in which he had ascended into heaven. He had ascended into the heaven bodily; the heavens would contain Him until the times of the restitution; and then He would bodily visit the earth again. Now when shall he visit the earth again bodily? Answer, at the resurrection of the dead. (See Acts 1:10,11, and 1 Thess. 4:16) We conclude from this, that the restitution of all things is to take place at the resurrection of the dead. The learned Parkhurst gives this view of the subject, and quotes Stockius at large as agreeing with him. We do not understand, that the restitution shall not begin until the time, but that it shall then be completed, and filled up, so that it may be said, all things are restored. This is begun in part in this life; but it will be completed and finished at the resurrection. What is this restitution? It is the putting of things back into their original condition. See A. Clarke, on the passage. Man was originally created in God's image; but the divine image has been obscured by sin; and men now bear the image of the earthly. But at the resurrection, when Christ shall appear, the restitution of all things shall take place, and then mankind will be restored to the image of God again; for St. Paul says, that at the resurrection mankind shall be changed from the earthly to the heavenly image. (1 Cor. 15:49) This heavenly image which we have lost, we obtain back again at the resurrection of the dead; and to this the Saviour's language agrees, for He saith, that in the resurrection men shall be as the angels of God in heaven; i.e. they shall bear the heavenly image; (Matt. 22:30) that they can die no more, and "shall be the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 22:36) This God hath spoken by all his holy prophets since the world began; not fully and clearly as He hath revealed it in the gospel; but He hath spoken by the prophets of the recovery of all things from the dominion of sin, and their reconciliation to God, and the gaining again of the heavenly image. The reader is referred to a long and excellent passage in A. Clark's Com. on Acts 3:21, which he closes by saying, "as therefore, the subject here referred to is that, of which all the prophets from the beginning have spoken, (and the grand subject of all their declarations was Christ and His words among men,) therefore the words are to be applied to this, and no other meaning. Jesus Christ comes to raise up man from a state of ruin, and restore to him the image of God, as he possessed it at the beginning."
37. head the seed of the woman was to bruise. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:15)
38. David also said, "all the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him." (Psalms 22:27) This agrees precisely with the promise of God to Abraham, that all the nations, families, and kindreds of the earth shall be blessed in Christ Jesus.
39. David also said, :all kings shall fall down before Him (Christ), all nations shall serve Him,--men shall be blessed in Him, all nations shall call Him blessed." (Psalms 72:11,17) This is of the same import with section 38.
40. David also said, "All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name." (Psalms 86:9) This must certainly include all the nations of the earth; God made them all, from Adam to the latest born.
41. David also said, not less than twenty-six times, in that part of his meditations embraced in the 136th Psalm, "his mercy endureth forever." What kind of a mercy is the mercy of God, which is to endure forever: it is a universal mercy. See the next section.
42. He also declared, that that mercy which is to endure forever, is over all the works of God. "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all his works." (Psalms 145:9) God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
43. He also said, "all thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and thy saints shall bless thee." (Psalms 145:10) Can all God's works praise Him, if a part are consigned to eternal fire?
44. He also said, "the Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy." (Psalms 145:8) Can endless misery be ordained by such a god as this?
45. He also said; "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger forever." (Psalms 103:8,9) This could not possibly be true, if God purposed to make any of His creatures forever miserable. If we allow that torment shall be endless, can we say, that "God will not always chide," nor "keep His anger forever?"
46. Isaiah represented, that there was no sin which might not be pardoned. "Though you sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isa. 1:18) The evident intent of this language is, that there was no sin so deep-dyed in the soul, that it could not be washed away. That is here said of Israel, is true of every individual.
47. It is said, that "all nations shall flow into the mountain of the Lord's house,"--a figurative representation of the covenant of the Gospel. (Isa. 2:2)
48. In this mountain, the Lord of Hosts hath made for all people a feast of fat things. "And in this mountain, shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well-refined." (Isa. 25:6) By "mountain," here, is meant the covenant of the Gospel; the place of the establishment of the ark is made a metaphor, to signify the Gospel. Adam Clarke says, this feast is "salvation by Jesus Christ." Com. On the place. This salvation is prepared for all people; it is sufficient to supply the wants of all.
49. "God will destroy, in this mountain, the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil, that is spread over all nations." (Isa. 25:7) This salvation is not uselessly prepared. Unbelief shall be done away. The darkness of the nations shall be removed. The covering cast over all nations shall be destroyed; they will then all see the truth.
50. "God will swallow up death in victory. " (Isa. 25:8) This is to take place at the resurrection of the dead, for Paul quotes these words, and applies them to the resurrection of the dead, in 1 Cor. 15:54.
51. "The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces: (Isa. 25:8) The work of the Gospel will not be fully done, until tears shall be wiped away from all faces. Sorrow shall cease. Paul applies the subject to the resurrection of the dead.
52. Isaiah said, "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." (Isa. 40:5) This is the declaration of Yahweh, for the prophet adds, "the mouth of the lord hath spoken it." If the Lord hath declared, that all flesh shall see his glory together, surely it must be done.
53. Isaiah represents the Gospel as being completely successful in accomplishing the purpose for which it was sent into the world"--that, as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and return not thither, but water the earth, and cause it to bring forth and bud, so shall the word of God be; it shall not return void, but it shall accomplish the divine pleasure, and prosper in the thing for which God sent it. (Isa. 45:10,11) Thus all who allow that God sent the Gospel to benefit all mankind, must here see, that that beneficent object will surely be accomplished. If any reject the Gospel, and are lost forever, can it be said in truth, that God's word does not return unto Him void?
54. Isaiah, speaking in the name of Yahweh, said, of Christ, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." (Isa.49:6) In this verse, the prophet affirms, that the blessings of the Gospel should not be confined to the Jews. "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles;" for what purpose? Answer; "that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." This expression is intended to signify the greatest possible extension of the blessings of the Gospel. Is this consistent with the supposed fact, that countless millions of the human race shall never hear of the blessings of the Gospel?
55. Isaiah represented Yahweh as saying, "I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made." (Isa 57:16) Is this declaration consistent with the doctrine of endless misery? According to that doctrine, will not God contend forever? Will He not be always wroth?
56. Yahweh saith, by Jeremiah, concerning the covenant He made with the house of Israel, " I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their heats; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his Neighbor, and every man his brother, saying , know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31:33,34) The spirit of the passage is universal grace. What God here saith He will do for the Jews, He will also do for the Gentiles. The former is a pledge of the latter. (See, for additional argument on this subject, section 88)
57. "THE LORD WILL NOT CAST OFF FOREVER. But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies, for He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." (Lamen. 3:31-33) O, what a precious declaration is this! Though God cause grief, yet He will have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies, for He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. This is the principle of the divine government. God does not afflict for the purpose of afflicting, but for the good of the sufferer. How, then, can endless torment be inflicted?
58. Daniel said, of the reign of Christ, "there was given Him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom, that which shall not be destroyed." (Dan. 7:14) If all people, nations, and languages serve the Savior, will they be endlessly miserable? Will they not be endlessly happy? This passage should be applied, undoubtedly, to all for whom the Savior died. Jesus seems to have referred to the declaration of the prophets, in what He said after His resurrection. (Matt. 28:18)
59. Hosea said, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave (or Hell, Sheol), I will be thy destruction." (Hosea 13:14) Let the light of inspiration guide us. St. Paul applies these words to the resurrection of the dead, at the last day. (1 Cor. 15:54,55) At the resurrection of the dead, then, God will destroy Sheol, HELL. He does not raise His creatures from the dead in order to punish them forever in sheol,(Hell) for sheol (Hell) shall then be destroyed.
60. Micah said, of Yahweh, " He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy." (Micah 7:18) A most precious assurance! Altogether at variance with the doctrine of endless misery.
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS
61. Jesus, when on earth, preached in such a manner that the people "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." (Luke 4:22) This could not have happened, had he threatened the people with endless misery. He preached salvation to sinful, guilty man; he preached the love of God to the whole world; and declared, that God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but, that the world, through Him, might be saved. Well might the people wonder at his "gracious words."
62. Jesus inculcated the strongest confidence in God; and reasoned in the most tender and judicious manner with the people, to dissuade them from taking anxious thought for the future. Read Matt. 6:25-34. This is one of the most striking passages in the whole New Testament. The object of the Savior was, to encourage, in the hearts of those whom he addressed, the most implicit confidence in God, for all future blessings. God is good; he is kind, even to the unthankful and to the evil; therefore said the Savior, "take no anxious thought." Be not afraid; God will do thee good. He has already proved his beneficence to thee. He takes care of the lower orders of beings; why shouldst thou doubt? He clothes the flowers of the field with beauty; why shouldst thou despair? Take not anxious, painful thought for the future. Sufficient unto the present is the evil therof. Such is the spirit of the passage, which is perfectly consistent with the doctrine of Universalism, but utterly inconsistent with the doctrine of endless misery.
63. Jesus warned the people against the doctrine of the Pharisees, who are well known to have believed in endless punishment. Matt 16:6; compare verse 12. There is no doubt, that the doctrines of the Pharisees were of a partial nature. Jesus was impartial in his teachings. He was the friend of publicans and sinners, and for this the Pharisees hated him. This was the great point on which he differed from the Pharisees. Their doctrine peculiarly was a doctrine of cruelty, wrath, and partiality; his was a doctrine of love, compassion, and universal grace. No person, who will make the comparison fairly, can avoid coming to this result. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.
64. Jesus taught, that men in the future world will be like the angels of God in heaven,--holy, spotless, and pure. "In the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven." (Matt. 22:30 Luke 20:35,36) In what sense shall they be as the angels of God in heaven? Let the passage in Luke 20 answer this question. "Neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." Here are two points, in which they will be equal to the angels, viz. 1st. they will be immortal; and 2nd. they will be children of God, bearing a moral likeness to him. This will be the state of all who shall be raised from the dead.
65. Jesus reproved the Pharisees for shutting up the kingdom of heaven. "Woe into you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." (Matt. 23:13) These Pharisees were never charged with having shut up the kingdom of hell; that, they appear to have kept open. But they shut up the kingdom of heaven. Jesus desired to have all men enjoy his kingdom; and we are assured, that, at last, all shall know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest. They will then all have entered the gospel kingdom.
THE TESTIMONY OF PETER
66. Peter saw, in the vision of the vessel like a sheet knit at the four corners, that all men came down from heaven; that they are all encircled in the kind care of God, while here on earth; and , that "all will be drawn up again into heaven." (Acts 10:15; 11:5-10)
THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL
67. Paul represented the free gift of life as extending equally with sin. "As, by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Rom. 5:18) This is a very important passage. It teaches us, that the free gift of eternal life shall extend equally with sin. On the one hand we are told, judgment came upon all men by sin; on the other we find, that "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." This free gift is eternal life, see Rom. 6:23. But, for a further view of the argument of the apostle in this place, see section 68.
68. Paul also says, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." The same many that were made sinners, Paul declares "shall be made righteous." This certainly asserts the salvation of all sinners. Parkhurst in his Greek Lexicon, says, Oi polloi, the many, i.e. the multitude, or whole bulk of mankind, Rom. 5:15,19, in which texts oi polloi are plainly equivalent to Pantas anthropous, all men, verses 12, 18." The learned Dr. Macknight is to the same purport. "For as oi polloi, the many, in the first part of the verse, does not mean some of mankind only, but all mankind, from first to last, who without exception, are constituted sinners, so the many in the latter part of the verse, who are said to be constituted righteous, through the obedience of Christ, must mean ALL MANKIND, from the beginning to the end of the world, without exception." See his commentary on the place. The evident sense of the passage is this: For as the many, that is, the whole bulk of mankind were made sinners, so shall the many, that is, the whole bulk of mankind, be made righteous. What can be plainer than this fact? We agree with the authors of the Improved Version, who say, "Nothing can be more obvious than this, that it is the apostle's intention to represent all mankind, without exception, as deriving greater benefit from the mission of Christ, than they suffered injury from the fall of Adam. The universality of the apostle's expression is very remarkable. The same "many" who were made sinners by the disobedience of one, are made righteous by the obedience of the other. If all men are condemned by the offense of one, the same all are justified by the righteousness of the other. These universal terms, so frequently repeated, and so variously diversified, cannot be reconciled to the limitation of the blessings of the Gospel, to the elect alone, or to a part only of the human race." (Note of Rom. 5:19)
69. Grace shall abound more than sin, and reign more potently, so that at last all shall end in everlasting life. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5:20,21) What a blessed assurance! Grace shall conquer sin? In every heart where sin has reigned, grace shall set up its empire. Grace shall reign triumphantly and successfully. We see not yet all this done; but it shall be done at last.
70. Paul teaches, that the same creature which was made subject to vanity, "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom. 8:21) It is worthy of remark, that it is the same "creature," or creation, which was made subject to vanity, that is to be delivered. Rev. Thomas White, in his sermons preached at Welbeck Chapel, translates the passage thus: "For THE CREATION was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it; in hope that THE CREATION ITSELF also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God." (Horne's Intro. II. 540) Dr. Macknight decides, that creature, in the passage, signifies, "every human creature," "all mankind." Let us read the passage with such a rendering, as it undoubtedly gives it its just sense. For every human creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who had subjected the same in hope; because every human creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
71. Paul teaches the eventual salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in ; and so "ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED." Rom. Xi. 25, 26. The terms, Jews and Gentiles, comprehend all mankind. Paul asserts the ultimate salvation of both Jews and Gentiles, that is, all men. What serious man can pretend, that by the fulness of the Gentiles he meant only a portion of them, and by all Israel, he meant only a small part of Israel? Was it such a view, that led Paul to exclaim, at the conclusion of his luminous argument on this subject, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God?" If God sought to save the whole, and succeeded in saving only a fraction, was the depth of his wisdom so surpassingly great? And remark what he says at the conclusion of the 11th chapter. "For of him (God) and through him, and TO HIM are all things," (Gr. ta panta) the universe ; as Dr. Whitby says, "For of him (as the donor) and through him (as the director and providential orderer) and to him (as the end) be all things." The argument is complete.
72. Paul teaches, that whether living or dying we are the Lord's. "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live we live unto the Lord; and whether we die we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." Rom. xiv. 7, 8. Does Paul here mean to include all mankind? Does he here mean to assert, that all without exception, are the Lord's? We can come to no other conclusion. He adds, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living," verse 9. The terms "dead and living," evidently signify all the human race. Of course, all the human race are Christ's for ever.
73. Paul saith, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." I Cor. xv. 22. "If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature." 2 Cor. v. 17. Hence, if all shall be made alive in Christ, they shall all be new creatures in the resurrection of the dead. Belsham says, "The apostle's language is so clear and full with respect to the final happiness of those who are thus raised, and that their resurrection to life will be ultimately a blessing, that the generality of Christians have supposed, that he is here treating of the resurrection of the virtuous only. But that is not the fact. He evidently speaks of the restoration of the whole human race. All who die by Adam shall be raised by Christ; otherwise the apostle's assertion would be untrue. The case then would have been this, as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall a select number, a small proportion, be made alive. But this is not the apostle's doctrine. His expressions are equally universal in each clause. ALL die in Adam. The same ALL, without any exception, without any restriction, shall by Christ be restored to life, and ultimately to holiness and everlasting happiness."
74. Death, the last enemy, shall be destroyed. 1 Cor. xv. 26. If death be the last enemy, and if that shall be destroyed, there will be no enemies to the happiness of man remaining after the resurrection.
75. Paul, in his account of the resurrection, does not admit of the existence of sin in the immortal state. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised incorruption ; ***** it is raised in glory. ***** it is raised in power; ***** it is raised a spiritual body." 1 Cor. xv. 42-44. When the apostle cries out triumphantly, "O death ! where is thy sting?" he certainly means, that sin was absent, for "the sting of death is sin."
76. Paul saith, "that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." 2 Cor. v. 19. It is not said, that God was in Christ reconciling himself to the world, for he was never unreconciled to the world; but God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. By "the world" in this place is undoubtedly intended all for whom Christ died. God was engaged in this work ; he had appointed the means for its accomplishment ; and we believe, under his wise direction, it will be done.
77. Paul saith to the Galatians, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. iii. 28, 29. According to what promise? Answer. According to the promise of God to Abraham, that in him, and his seed [Christ], all the nations, kindreds and families of the earth shall be blessed. In Christ, therefore, none of the distinctions are known of which Paul there speaks. "Ye are all one in Christ Jesus." That point being settled, he adds, "and if ye be Christ's [as he had proved] then are ye Abraham's seed, [that is, not by lineal descent, but spiritually], and heirs according to the promise."
78. He saith, that to Jesus was given "a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philip. ii. 9-11. Professor Stuart, of Andover, says, in his "Letters to Dr. Channing," "Things in heaven, earth, and under the earth, is a common periphrasis of the Hebrew and New Testament writers, for the universe. What can be meant by things in heaven, that is, beings in heaven, bowing the knee to Jesus, if spiritual worship be not meant?" So much from Professor Stuart. Now if the universe [that is, all men without exception] are to render spiritual and divine worship to Christ, will they not all be holy and happy ?
79. The foregoing reason is confirmed by the fact, that "if we confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in the heart that God hath raised him from the dead, we shall be saved." Rom. x. 9.
80. It pleased the Father, by his son Jesus, "TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." (Col. 1:19-20) This is a similar periphrasis to that spoken of by Professor Stuart, [see section 78] which signifies the universe. The phrase, "all things," as Archbishop Newcome observes, signifies all intelligent beings. It is God's pleasure "to reconcile all things unto himself", -- an irrefutable argument in proof of the final holiness andhappiness of all men.
81. Paul directed Timothy to pray and give thanks for all men, which was agreeable to the will of God to "have all men to be save," who had appointed a mediator to give himself "a ransom for all." (1 Tim. 2:1-6) Paul's argument in this place is as follows: I exhort first, that supplication, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. None are excluded from the divine favor; all have something to be grateful for; for God is kind and good to ALL. He will have all men to be saved, which is the highest proof of his regard for all men, in execution of the divine purpose to bring all to the enjoyment of salvation.
82. God is called "the Saviour of all men." (1 Tim. 4:10) This title is applied to Jehovah, because he is the source of salvation. He wills the salvation of all; he has purposed the salvation of all; he has promised salvation to all; and has confirmed that promise by an oath. Hence, he is originally the Saviour of all men.
83. The "grace of God bringeth salvation to all men, and teacheth us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." (Titus 2:11,12) Adam Clarke remarks, "It cannot be said, except in a very refined and spiritual sense, that this Gospel had then appeared to all men ; but it may be well said, that it bringeth salvation to all men ; this is its design ; and it was to taste death for every man, that its author came into the world." Again, he adds ; "As the light and heat of the sun are denied to no nation nor individual, so the grace of the Lord Jesus ; this also shines out upon all ; and God designs that all mankind shall be as equally benefited by it, in reference to their souls, as they are in respect to their bodies, by the sun that shines in the firmament of heaven."
84. Christ is to "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. 2:14) Christ will destroy all evil, and banish it entirely from the universe.
85. Paul says, "we which have believed do enter into rest;" which could not be true, if they believed in the doctrine of endless misery. (Heb. 4: 3)
86. "It is impossible for God to lie," who has sworn to Abraham to bless all the kindreds of the earth, in his seed, which is Christ. (Heb. 6:18) If God could be false to his own promise, then the world might not be saved ; but "it is impossible for God to lie." Therefore, all men, without exception, shall at last be blessed in Christ Jesus.
87. Paul has repeated the testimony of Jeremiah, concerning God's covenant with the house of Israel ; "all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Heb. 8:11) This is a pledge of the previous salvation of the Gentile world. The word of God assures us, that the Gentiles shall be fellow-heirs with the Jews, of the blessings of the Gospel. God says, "all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." All the children of Israel, all the descendants of Abraham ; not those who may happen to be upon the earth at any particular time, but the whole posterity of the patriarch, without exception. This is similar to what Paul declares. (see Rom. 11:26)
88. God never chastens us but "for our profit," causing all chastisement "afterward to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Heb. 12:10,11) How, then, can the doctrine of endless punishment be true? If God's chastisements afterward yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, how can they be endless?
89. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from ALL sin." (1 John 1:7) There is no sin, that the blood of Christ will not wash away. Though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; and, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Jesus can save the chief of sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15) He has the will, no less than the power; therefore, all men will be saved by his grace.
90. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 3:8) Sin is the work of the devil, and will be destroyed; but men are the workmanship of God, and will not be ultimately destroyed. Jesus shall destroy all sin ; he came into the world for that special purpose ; and, having begun the work, he will not give over, until it is completely accomplished.
91. The record, which God has given of his Son, is this; "That God hath given to us eternal life ; and this life is in his Son." (1 John 5:11) Is this record true? it surely is. Who are called on to believe it? all mankind. If any man believe it not, he makes God a liar, by saying, that God's record is not true. God, then, has certainly given eternal life to all men in his divine purpose.
92. John, the revelator, said: "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever." (Rev. 5:13) Here is another instance of the "common periphrasis" of the Hebrew and New Testament writers for the universe. Every creature shall at last pay divine honors to God and the Lamb. "If this be not spiritual worship," saith Prof. Stuart, "I am unable to produce a case, where worship can be called spiritual and divine."
93. The same illustrious writer says: "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy ; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." (Rev. 15:4) Does this mean only all those nations who may happen to be upon the earth at a certain time? or, does it mean "all nations," in the sense of the divine promise to Abraham? Judge ye.
94. He also says: "The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." (Rev. 21:3) When this is fulfilled, all men will be reconciled to God. The Gospel is designed to make every heart the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit; and, when the purpose of the Gospel shall be fully accomplished, God shall reign in the hearts of all men.
95. He furthermore declares, that "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes ; and THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH, neither sorrow, nor crying ; neither shall there be any more pain ; for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4) Thus, we see the doctrine of eternal weeping, eternal sighing, eternal sorrow, eternal pain, is false; false as the Bible is true. And, although we read, in the Scriptures, of the second death, yet, if we read of thirty deaths, it would be no argument against Universalism, since the time is to come, when "THERE SHALL BE NO MORE DEATH."
96. God induces all good people to pray for the salvation of all men, which he could not do, if it were opposed to his will; because, "if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us," (1 John 5:14) and because "the desire of the righteous shall be granted." (Prov. 10:24)
97. Peter said; "Believing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and FULL OF GLORY." Can it be possible that they believed in the doctrine of endless sin and misery? Would this have made them rejoice with unspeakable joy? Not unless they were demons in human form.
98. All the threatenings of the word of God, when properly understood, harmonize with the doctrine of Universalism ; the punishments spoken of being limited punishments only, and no threatening or law extending sin, or its consequences, beyond the resurrection.
99. Universalism is the only hypothesis in which the perfections of God can harmonize, -since, if men are lost forever by God's decree or permission, it impeaches his goodness; if, by his neglect or want of foreknowledge, it impeaches his wisdom; or, if sin be too mighty for him, and rebels too stubborn for him to subdue, it impeaches his power.
100. Lastly; "All things shall be subdued unto Christ, -Christ shall be subject unto him that put all things under him, that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL." (1 Cor. 15:28)