Page images
PDF
EPUB

B contends, all the wicked in Hell will be restored, and if it is known that they will be restored, there is no propriety in speaking of them as lost. On bis principles, they are not lost. They are in perfectly safe keeping. Though they may be sutiering a punishment, in comparison of which all the evils of this life are were mts,” yet it is all for their good; it is known to be all for their good, a saltary discipline, which is to purze away their sins and prepare them for Heaven. According to air. B., any other pune ishment, than that which is to prove the reformation and salvation of the sinner, is unworthy of "an infinitely good and wise God.” Ny to say of a person under this salutary and merciful disci, line, while it is known, (and he knows himsell, it be happens to be one of Mr. B.'s bearers,) that it is preparing tiiia for inexpressible and eternal felicity, that he is losi, is an outrage upon the law of language. He is not lost.

I repeat it, he is safe. He is in the best circumstances which, with bis present character, he can be in. Though his present sutterings may be great, yet they are but the neessary means of his future good. He is an heir of glory, and will forever bless God for the kind and wholesome discipline, uuder which he is now placed. We might as well say of the inmates of our penitentiaries, and state prisons, that they are lost, as to say, upon Mr. B.'s principles, that souls are lost who are sentenced to only a temorary punishment, and that with a view for their preparation for Heaven. As well, did I say? There would be muci. mose : ropriety in saying of the former that they are lost, than of the la:tor; for in our prisons, convicts are often confined without any reference to their personal good, but for the safety of the publik ; and there is in no case, certainty that they will be reformed, but often a strong probability that they will be made worse instead of be'ter, by their imprisonment. But, upon Mr. B.'s principles, th se who are sent to Hell, are sent there for their benelit; and there is a known certainty arising from the promises of God, that they will pot only be released, but that this punishment shall be the very thing which shall "purge away their sin," and prepare them for that glorious inheritence in Heavin, to which they are destined by the decree of God, and of which they all are, or may be certain in this life. To talk of souls being lost while there is no endless punishment, under the government of a "gord and wise God” to which they can be sentenced, and while all who read his word are expressly informed that he is determined to save them, and while they themselves, even urder the severest pains which they can feel amidst the flames of Hell, can comfort themselves with the assurance that this is but the "fire of love,” which will assuredly "work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” is in our view the very height of absurdity. A child shut up in a dark room, with a view to bring him to obedience to his parents' coinmands, might as well be said to be lost.

But here we shall be told, that sinners, whom Christ came “to seek and to save," are now said to be lost; that those to whom ''the gospel is hid” are said to be. Jost, and that the Bible speaks. familiarly of the inpenitent and unbelieving generally, as lost. All this, we readily acknowledge. And it is on the principle that they are liable to be irrecorerably lost. If there was no external ruin, or absolut: destruction, to which they are liable, this language would be improper. The use of it, by the sacred writers, in relero ence to the wicked, is among the most appailing evidence, that epdless wo's is before them, unless they repent. It is never said, either in the Bible, or among men, who use language with propriety, that any one is lost, while God knows, and they know, and the person himself knows, that he is safe. The impenitent and unbelieving are now under a sentence of condemnation which will never be revoked unless they repent. They are walking in the broad way whicb leads to destruction, to interminable woe, and to this they will certainly arrive, unless they retrace their steps. They are at enmity with God, a state of mind which disqualifies them for the enjoyment of H'aven, and which, unless “they make themselves a new heart and a new spirit,” will necessarily involve them in coleplete and eternal wretchedness. And with respect to their repestance and reformation, there is, as yet, an entire uncertainty. Appearances are in favor of their continuance in the road to deatb. They are, therefore, said in respect to what they are exposed, and what tbey must inevitably suffer, if they do not change their course, to be lost; in the same sense, in which it is now familiarly said of the inteinperate and dissipated, they are ruined men, or a person sentenced to be executed, he is a dead man. In each of these cases, they are said to be ruined, dead, or lost in respect not so much to what they now are, as to that state to which they aretend

ing.”

From the Massachusetts Missionary Magazine.

ON RESPECT OF PERSONS.

It is allowed by all, that to be a respecter of persons is wrong and criminal in any moral agent. At the same time, it is probable that some attach very erroneous ideas to the phrase. It is the object of the follswing remarks, to show, with as much precision as the writer is able, what it is to be a respecter of persons.

To be a respecter of persons, as the phrase is commonly understond among men, is to show savor to some and refuse it to others, from partial, unterested motives. To show more favor to some persons than to others, if it be not done from partial, interested motives, is not considered by mankind in general, as respecting persons in any criminal sense. For instance; to express more este 'm and respect for a man of distinguished virtue and merit, than for a man, infamously vicious, or to bestow more favors upon the honest, industrious poor, tba: upon the poor and knavish, provided

it be done with proper motives, is never considered, by reasonable men, as a criminal respect of persons. Nor can it be considered as a criminal respect of persons, for one to show more favor to some than to others, of persons who are equally deserving, provid- . ed it be done with disinterested motives. The Governor of the Commonwealth cannot be accused of respecting persons, for bestowiny an horourable and lucrative ofllce upon one citixen, and passing by allother equally capable and meritorious, if, owing to certain circumstances, he really thinks it will be more conducive to the public good. And, on the other hand, supposing two criminals, equally guilty, aso under sentence of d-ath, and the Chief Magistrate is convinced that the safety of the State requires the execution of but one of them; wlio will accuse him of respecting persons, for pardoning the one, and giving orders for the ex'cution of the other?

But, if a man shows peculiar favor or respect to certain persons, rather than to others, from partial, interested motives, he is universally and justly considered a respecter of persons. If a parent, from a partial, unreasonable fondness for one of his children, confers oa him peculiar favours, he is a respecter of persons. If a judge shows favo!r to some, on account of their relation to himself, or on accouot of their rank, fortune or connexions, and deries justice to others, because they are poor, or ignorant, or destitute of opulent and powerful friods, he is an odious respecter of persons, Thus it appears, that, according to the common acceptation of the phrase among mankind, to be a resprcter of persons, is to show favour to some and refuse it to others, from partial, interested motives. And, in this sense the phrase is used in the holy Scriptures.

Thus, in the laws which God gave the children of Israel, he enjoined this mpon them, Leviticus xix. 15. Ye shall do no unrig hteousness in judgment; thou shalt not reject the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” Again, he tells the same people, Deuteronomy 1. 16, 17. “And I charged your judges at that time, saying, hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the

The words of St. James show, very plainly, the scriptural idea of respect of persons. James ii.-1, 10. "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect to persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparrel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye shall have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say

to the poor, stand thou there, or sit liere under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves?— If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.”

face of man

If the preceeiling remarks are just, they lay a foundation for the following inferences.

1. When it is said in Scripture, that, God is no respecter of persons, the meaning is, that he does not ireat bis moral subjects in a partial, unjust manner; but that he treats them all, and mankind in particular, bigh and low, rich and poor, bond and free, Jew and Gentile according to their characters, without any undue la rour or affection whatever. He is high above all sinister views and partial attachments. All those distinctions of honor and rank and wealth and nation, which are made among men, are levelled in His presence, before whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, and from whom the greatest are as far removed as the least. He will distribute justice and judgment with an equal band. Them that honour him, however poor, and low, and dispised in this world, He will honour; but them that dispise Him, however great and rich and noble they may be considered among men, He will lightly esteem. He will reward the righteous and punish the wicked. He will save saints and destroy sinners.

This not only follows from the above remarks, but is evident from several passages of Scripture. The following are worthy of pare ticular attention. Acts x. 34, 35. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but, in every nation, he that feareth Him and worketh righteous. ness, is accepted with him.” Rom. ii. 6, 11. “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who, by patient continnance in w.ll-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentions, and do not obey the truth, but obcy unrighteousness, indignation and wraty, tribulation and anguish, upon every man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile: but glory, honour and peace, to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God."

2. From the preceeding observations, it appears, that God's being no respecter of persons, does not afford any evidence that He will save all mankind. Universalists frequently say, that if God saves some of mankind and destroys the rest, He will be a respecter of persons. This is as much as to say, that God cannot, without respecting persons, treat mankind differently, in the world to come.

Whereas, it is because He is no respecter of persons, that he will treat them differently. At the great and last day God will sit on the judgment-seat, and dispense rewards and punishments among mankind, according to their characters and deeds done in the body. He will not do the least injustice, nor show the least partiality. But, should lle, at that day, clear the guilty, should he adjudge those to salvation who died in impenitency and unbelief, He would not act the part of an upright judge; He would show a partial regard to sioners, to the neglect of the glory of his character and the good of His kingdom. What could savour more of respect of persons, than for God to bestow heavenly blessedness npon those who remain incorrigible enemies to his character and

[ocr errors]

government, and who, during life, have despised the riches of his goodarss, forbaralice and long suffering? That God is no reSprcter of persons, is a conclusive argument against the doctrine of universal saltation, and should make all universalists tremble, in vi'w of the awful consequences of their persevering impenitency and neglect of the great salvation offered in the gospel.

3. Gu may forın the inoral characters of his rational creatures, as ! l. pleases, without being a respecter of persons. Respect of parsins r«lates to characters already formed, and not to ibe formatun of characters God's being no respecter of persons, implies, that he will treat all his accountable creatures in an impartial, just and equitabl» manner, according to their several characters. It is impossible to show respect to persons, before they are mad, or bave any moral characters, either good or bad.

God sziv it to be necessary, in order to accomplish his original a. benevolent design in creating the universe, that there should 02 creatures of different capacities and of diffèrent moral characters. He saw it to be necessary, that there should be good and evil angels, and good and bad inen. Accordingly, he determined to bring angels and men into existence, and to form their characters according to his pleasure. He had the most wise and beneroleat end in view, in determining the existence and moral characters of all his rational creatures: and in bringing them into existence and actually forming their characters, he bas no partiality for any one. His iltimate end is, to display his own glory and to make a universe, which shall contain the greatest possible sum of holiness and happiness. As the great potter, he moulds the clay into vessels of diffrent sizes and shapes, according to the use he intends to make of them. As the potter displays no partiality, in forming different vessels for different uses; so God is no respecter of persons, in forming men of different characters for different ends. In forming the moral characters of his creatures, God displays his sovereignty; in his treatment of them, after their moral characters are formed, He displays bis justice and his grace, without respect to persons.

4. From what hath been brought into view, it appears, that Goil's being no respecter of persons, is no solid objection against the doctrine of election. The Scripture teaches ns, that God elected some to everlasting life, that he might glorify himself in their-deliverance from sin and misery. And in determining the number and the individuals, whom he would save, he was guided by his own infinite wisdom. He determined to save as many as it would be best to save. And he fisd on the individuals, with a view, not to their good simply, but to his own glory and the highest good of his kingdom. He had no more respect to the persons of those whom he elected, than to the persons of those whom he did not elect. He did not elect some, because he valued their happiness more than the happiness of others. He viewed the souls of men, as all precious, all equally capable of happiness and deserving of misery. He determined to regenerate and save

« PreviousContinue »