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The other party suppose, that, properly, there is no sin in the world ; that as all things come to pass by the will of God, and his immediate influence upon his creatures, he is as well pleas, ed with the murderer, adulterer, thief, blasphemer, liar, profane swearer, athiest, &c. as with the most upright moral man in the world, or what I should call the best Christian. They deny that men are moral agents at all, and consequently deny God's right to punish any of his creatures for any thing they do.
I was once riding with a man of these absurd sentiments, and I asked him, whether the two cotemporaries, Nero and Paul, equally did the will of God, and were alike acceptable to their Creator, and both equally happy at the moment of their death ? He answered without hesitation, Yes. I then asked him, whether if he should kill me, and then commit suicide, or self-mar. der, we should be both immediaely happy ? He said, Yes, I then told him plainly, that if I had a not better opinion of his disposition than I had of his sentiments, I should not like to ride the road with him.
But some will say, From whence did sin proceed ? I answer, It is impossible it should come from God.-But can you tell from whence, or by what means, it came into existence ? If you cannot, says one, I will insist upon it, that it owes its existence to God, and proceeded from him.-'That would be an unfair conclusion ; for I may not be able, with certainty, to tell from whence a thing came, and yet may be able in
fallibly to point out some places from which it did not, and could not come.
A3 for instance, I may be sailing over the Ocean, and see a mountain of ice, and one may ask ine, from whence came this mountain of ice ? I may answer, I do not know. But suppose he should say, This mountain of ice feil from the sun ; I might be able to contradict him, and declare with as much certainty that it did not drop from the sun, as though I could tell exactly from whence it came. For I might reasonably argue, that the fountain of light and heat could never produce a mountain of ice, for this plain reason, that heat cannot be the parent of cold. The same reasoning will apply to the present.. Though I may not be able to say how sin came into the universe, yet I have clearly proved that God is not the author of it; and having vindicated his character, I am the less concerned to say from whence sin came. If it did not arise from the free agency, natural, peccability, or mutability of rational intelli. gences, and the possibility of it was not implied in their state of trial and probation ;. then I con. fess I know not how it entered the universe. But as I am well satisfied that it entered at the door of the free agency of intelligences, com-bined with their natural mutability ; and the possibility of it could not have been prevented, without destroying that beautiful order which God appointed : and as I know most infallibly that God.could not be the author of it: I shall concern myself no farther how it came.
A General Epistle to all who believe the Doctrine
of General Redemption, and Universal Retoration, both in Europe and America.
My dear Friends, Brethren and Companions, IT having pleased Almighty God, of his great mercy and goodness,to shew to many these glorious truths of late, and amongst others, the writer of the following Epistle, though unworthy of that high honor : he therefore, as one that has obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, begs leave, with all humility, to present this to ken of his love, to all those who are persuaded that Jesus having redeemed all men through his blood, will finally bring them all to bow the knee, and swear allegiance to him, and will reconcile and rehead all things to him. self.
Dear brethren, suffer the word of exhortation --and read over this letter daily, till you find the spirit of it hath taken entire possession of your hearts, and till you are enabled, through grace, to practice the important duties here recommended.
You profess to believe the universal benevolence of the Deity; O let me exhort you to imitate the love of your Father who is in heaven. Do not let hatred & wrath dwell in your hearts,
while universal love dwells upon your tongues. For nothing is a more palpable absurdity and contradiction, thạn a man professing to believe the universal benevolence of the Deity, and yet full of partiality and malice himself! Let all professing universal love, remeinber, that " if a man say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar ; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seer?” As the belief of God's universal love to his creatures, tends to dispose our minds to love them too ; so the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, will enable us with pleasure to perform it. We must not only love our brethren, and professed friends, but we must love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us.
This love to mankind we must shew by avoiding all that will hurt them, as far as possible : we must do them no harm, neither by actions. nor by words ; we must not allow ourselves so much as to think evil of them, far less to speak evil of them, on any occasion ; all slandering, lying, tattling, whispering, backbiting, &c. (crimes which are too frequent in the world) should be wholly avoided, as the mischief they occasion to society is inconceivable ; besides, they are expressly contrary to, and breaches of the plain commands of God, given to Moses, & confirmed by Christ and his apostles.
“ Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale. bearer among thy people, neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am
Jehovah. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart : Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself : I am Jehovah. Lev. xix. 16, 17, 18.
“ Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil : cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love ; in honor preferring one another.” Rom. xii. 9, 10.
" Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamor,and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice : And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ hath forgiven you." Eph. iv. 31, 32.
“ Wherefore, laying aside all malite, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings ; as new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow there
1 Pet. ï. 1, 2. Ceasing to do evil, is the next step towards learning to do well ; and would all people learn to leave doing harm, there would be much less need, than there is now, of acts of kindness and mercy : for the great part of all the real miseries that are in the world, owe their existence and continuance to those dreadful principles, selfishness, envy, pride, and wrath, which are the the ruling tempers in the most of men, and which horrid dispositions fill the world with ev.
ery evil work.