Posted By Thomas Perez. January 3, 2009.
PRINCIPAL PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE
THE FINAL HOLINESS AND HAPPINESS
OF ALL MANKIND.
By J. W. HANSON, D.D.
UNIVERSALIST PUBLISHING HOUSE.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington
Editor’s Notes: The original’s King James text has been edited only in that Old English words have been changed to modern English and the Bible Chapter Roman Numerals changed to Arabic. A table of Contents has been added and the Index moved to the back. Microsoft Word format starting on original page 5 follows; Page setup: Paper size, 8 ½” x 11″, portrait orientation Margins, top .7, bottom .7, left .7, right .7, gutter .6 inches font: Times New Roman, style: regular, size: 12 Paragraph Indentation: left 0, right 0, first line .2, original page # -.2 Line spacing: exactly 14 pt.
God’s Silence 6
Adam’s Punishment 6
Cain’s punishment 8
The Antediluvians 9
The Deluge 9
Sodom and Gomorrah 10
The Testimony of the Scholars 12
The Promise to Adam 15
The promise to Abraham 16
The Promises to the Obedient 19
The Threats to the Wicked 21
Gathered to Their Fathers 22
The Spirit Returns to God 23
The Fate of Ammon 23
Knowledge of God Gives Peace 25
God’s Anger is Limited 25
God’s Mercy is Unlimited 27
The Testimony of the Prophets 27
Universal Obedience 28
Man’s Infirmity Doubts God’s Goodness 28
Universal Dominion 29
The Prophet Isaiah 29
God’s Word Conquers 30
The Wise Woman 32
A Refiner 33
The Name Jesus34
The Word Gospel 35
The First Christmas Anthem 35
John the Baptist 36
An Incident and its Lesson 36
Be Like God 38
The Lord’s Prayer 40
The Universal Fatherhood 40
The Good Samaritan 45
The Gospel Leaven 46
The Jewish Leaven 46
All the Lost Are to Be Saved 47
Ninty and Nine (Poem) 49
Christ Will Accomplish His Mission 50
The Resurrection 56
The Resurrection to Damnation 58
The Nature of Punishment 65
The Prayer of Jesus For His Murderers 66
God the Creator 68
God’s Holiness 69
God’s Mercy 69
God’s Justice 70
God’s Omniscience 73
God’s Omnipotence 74
God’s Love 75
God’s Attributes Unlimited 77
God’s Power Unlimited 78
God’s Wisdom Unlimited 78
God’s Love Unlimited 79
Gods Will, Pleasure, Purpose, Promise, and Oath 80
You Must Be Born Again 88
A Conditional Promise Fulfilled 88
Sin burned, Sinners Saved 88
Every Soul Worth Saving 88
Comfort For All 88
Heaven’s Joy Certain 89
The Substance of Things Hoped For 89
The Wickedest Saved 89
The Image of God 90
Paul’s Hope 92
The Glad Tidings of God 92
The Universe Shall Be Delivered From Sin 93
What God Will Not Do 94
What God Will Do 94
Sin, Satan, Death, and Hell Destroyed 94
All Shall Be Righteous 95
All Destined to God 97
The People Were Astonished 98
Universal Pardon and Obedience 98
Christ Cancels Adam 99
A Healthful Doctrine 99
No More Sorrow 100
Universal Obedience Prophesied 100
The Universal Propitiation 100
Their Works Will Follow Them 100
The Building of God Sure 102
God Hates Sin 102
God All In All 102
God’s Glory 103
God a Universal Savior 103
Why Paul Was Persecuted 104
All Ought to be Righteous 104
The Final Consummation 105
THE DOCTRINE OF THE BIBLE.
The author of these pages proposes, in the briefest and simplest manner of which he is capable, to set forth the leading Scriptural arguments in favor of the doctrine of Universal Salvation. He will not attempt to exhaust the subject, nor will he endeavor to explain what are called “The Difficult passages,” that is, those that are popularly supposed to teach a different doctrine. Remanding that task – a perfectly easy one – to another volume, a proper companion to this, he will only attempt, in these pages, to present the prominent considerations that are contained in the Bible in support of the final redemption of all souls. In this important task he invokes the benediction of Almighty God; praying that any word herein contained, that is false, may perish, fruitless, while whatever is in harmony with the Divine Oracles may bring forth many good results in the promotion of truth and righteousness in the world.
The first thought that astonishes the mind when the Scriptures are consulted on this great question, by one who has taken for granted that they teach endless torture, for any part of the human family, is
THE SILENCE OF GOD.
The Almighty Father of the human family would not fail, at the very beginning of human history, to announce to his children the penalty of sin. To conceal such a doom as that of endless torment from any would be cruel treachery towards those whom he had created, and who would have the right to know all the consequences of disobedience. And yet only limited consequences – temporal punishments – were threatened at the announcement of the law to Adam, or when the penalty of their Sin was referred to, in the history of the earliest transgressors. If endless punishment were true, it would be stated as the threatened penalty of the original sin.
But Adam was neither before nor afterward told that he had incurred or should receive endless woe.
Here is the law, and its penalty:
And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. Gen. 2: 15-17.
Adam died as the penalty of his sin. How? This threatened death is not (1.) of the body, for physical dissolution was the natural result of physical organization, and the death threatened was
to be “In the day he sinned.” His body did not die in that day. (2.) It was not eternal death for the same reason. He certainly went to no endless hell “in the day” of his transgression. It was (3.) a moral, spiritual death from which recovery is feasible. Paul describes it:
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts. Eph. 4: 18. You has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2: 1.
Jesus describes it in the parable of the Prodigal son:
It was meet that we should make merry and be glad; for this, your brother, was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. Luke 15: 32. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live. Deut. 30: 15-19.
Adam died this kind of death and no other “in the day” he sinned. The death God threatened was in this life. The devil denied this penalty. If it was any different from that threatened, then the devil told the truth. This penalty is described in the language used toward Adam after he had sinned:
And unto Adam he said, Because you have harkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, you shall not eat of it; cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you
taken; for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return. Gen. 3: 17-19.
Would all these consequences be so fully described, and the one of surpassing importance be concealed? Would God perpetrate a “snap judgment” on his poor deluded creatures? Impossible. Our first parents died in trespasses and sins, as did the prodigal, “in the day” they sinned. The whole penalty to which Adam or any other should ever be liable was fully described, but not a word of endless punishment is there.
The case of Cain is equally explicit. What penalty did the first murderer experience? Here it is fully stated:
And the Lord God said unto Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I know not; Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What have you done? the voice of your brother’s blood cries unto me from the ground. And now are you cursed from the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto you her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shall you be in the earth; And Cain said onto the Lord, my punishment is more than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from your face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that finds me shall slay me. Gen. 4: 9-14.
Not a word of endless punishment for this greatest of crimes. “A fugitive and a vagabond in the earth” not torment in an endless hell, is the punishment of the first murderer. His punishments were all temporal, and were so understood by him. Is it credible that in addition to all this an
endless hell was in store for this first fratricide, and not a word said of the awful doom?
Read the detailed account of the Flood and of multitudes of antecedent transactions for the long period of more than seventeen hundred years, and not an instance can be found in which any other than temporal and limited consequences are described as the result of sinfulness.
The wicked people who were overwhelmed by the deluge were not threatened with endless punishment. Noah, the first great “preacher of righteous,” (Titus 2: 5,) did not say a word of it when he announced the flood. He threatened drowning, but said nothing of post mortem sufferings. Would he have spoken of this comparatively slight disaster, and conceal the enormous one of endless suffering if he knew anything of it?
And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. Gen. 6: 17. The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth; and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. Gen. 5: 11-13; 23.
Just think of charging God with describing the
height of the waters, the amount of the flood, the number of days, and all the small particulars of a limited penalty, and entirely overlooking the dreadful fate in store for the millions destroyed!
Nothing is said of endless punishment in connection with the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then the Lord God rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and all that which grew upon the ground. And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord, and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. Gen. 19: 24-28.
The fire and brimstone that these people suffered were here, in this world. And that it was limited is evident from the following:
For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her. Lam. 4: 6.
Jerusalem experienced a greater punishment than Sodom, as we know from the words of Jesus:
Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time. No, nor ever shall be. Matt. 24: 21.
All this shows that the suffering was in this world. The Sodomites never received a hint that they were exposed to endless punishment, nor is there any record that they ever went to such a doom.
The wicked whose character is described from Adam to Moses, a period of twenty-five
hundred years, are never threatened with endless punishment, nor is it ever said to have been visited upon any. The builders of Babel, Joseph’s brethren, Pharaoh, many wicked people are there threatened and punished, but not a word is said of endless punishment. Is it credible that for twenty-five hundred years God should have led men along to the brink of the grave, threatening them with all sorts of things, and entirely conceal this doom, which, if true, should have been reiterated to all from the cradle to the grave?
The punishments of sin are thus described two thousand five hundred years after Adam:
It shall come to pass, if you will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe to do all his commandments and statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your store. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase of your cattle, and the flocks of your sheep. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. The Lord shall send upon you cursing, vexation and rebuke in all that you set your hand unto for to do. . . He shall smite you with consumption, and with a fever, with blasting and mildew; etc. In the morning you shall say “Would God it were evening,” and at evening you shall say, “Would God it were morning.” Deut. 28: 15-29, 67.
All through the Old Testament, subsequent to the enunciation of the law, the wicked who are spoken of are never threatened with any but temporal penalties. Abimelech is a case in point:
Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father in slaying his seventy brethren. Judges 9: 56
So with Ahithophel, the suicide:
And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulcher of his father. 2 Sam.17: 23.
Is it asked how this suicide was punished? Paul answers:
Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment. 1 Tim. 5: 24.
Hence Paul tells us that under the Law
Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward. Heb. 2: 2.
Now for four thousand years every wicked act was fully punished in this life. “Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.” Would God have an endless hell and keep it a secret from the world for four thousand years? Would he keep sinners for four thousand years from a hell he had made, and then use it as a prison for other sinners no worse? No; the silence of God for forty centuries is a demonstration that he had no such place reserved for any of his children.
If God all the time he was threatening these limited consequences of sin, intended to inflict a doom compared to which all these are as nothing, then he deceived the people, for this is the full statement of the law:
These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses. Lev. 26: 46.
The laws of Moses enumerate many forms of punishment, many different penalties, but never lisp a hint of endless woe.
That endless punishment is not revealed in the law, the wisest theologians of all creeds agree:
Warburton: In the Jewish Republic, both the rewards and punishments promised by heaven were temporal only. Such as health, long life, peace, plenty, and dominion, etc. Diseases, premature death, war, famine, want, subjections, and captivity, etc. And in no one place of the Mosaic Institutes is there the least mention, or intelligible hint, of the rewards and punishments of another life. – Div. Leg, vol. iii – JAHN: We have not authority, therefore, decidedly to say, that any other motives were held out to the ancient Hebrews to pursue the good and avoid the evil, than those which were derived from the rewards and punishments of this life. Archaeology p.398.—MILMAN: The law-giver (Moses) maintains a profound silence on that fundamental, if not of political, at least of religious legislation — rewards and punishments in another life. He substituted temporal chastisements and temporal blessings. On the violation of the constitution followed inevitably blighted harvests, famine, pestilence, defeat, captivity; on its maintenance, abundance, health, fruitfulness, victory, independence. How wonderfully the event verified the prediction of the inspired legislator! How invariably apostasy led to adversity – repentance and reformation to prosperity! Hist. Jews, vol. i. –DR. CAMPBELL: It is plain that in the Old Testament the most profound silence is observed in regard to the state of the deceased, their joys and sorrows, happiness or misery.
If, then, the penalties of sin are limited in duration, we can understand this reticence, even though those penalties should continue in the future state, but if God meant all the time he was thus declaring temporal consequences, to inflict endless torment, he was deceiving his children — an impossible supposition.
Were endless punishment true, the Garden of Eden should have sighed the awful tidings from all its leaves, it should have been thundered from the
rocky pulpit of Sinai, and have been shrieked into the ears of every transgressor from Adam down. Would a good being, a Father, would a decent being, any one better than a demon, sum up and particularize a score of trivial penalties, and conceal the one that should be mentioned most of all? Would a wicked human king threaten three months’ imprisonment, say, for crime, and then behead the criminal, when convicted, all the time concealing from him this capital penalty? Is it supposable that God would stay to talk about drought, and fever, and scab, and itch, when he had intended to burn, or even to imprison in an endless hell? Such a supposition is too enormous for the human mind to cherish.
The silence of God for four thousand years, the fact that he never hinted at such a doom, demonstrates that it was not then impending, and if not then, under the severe dispensation of Moses, it is impossible that it should be found in the milder message of the Gospel of the grace of God.
Now all Christians admit that the people in the times of the Old Testament accepted the doctrine of the resurrection. Is not the fact that nothing is said to the contrary prima facie evidence that the resurrection state was by then regarded as one in which all was to be well? Is not the silence of the Scriptures concerning any evil fate there, a powerful argument in behalf of the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection, that all there are equal to the angels?
But let us proceed to some or the most striking of the positive declarations teaching universal salvation. We adduce first:
While we would not claim that God gave to Adam a distinct declaration that our first parent understood to mean universal salvation, we are certain that he gave him the germ of that sublime result when he announced the consequences of the warfare between man and evil. After Adam had sinned, the first promise was given:
I will put enmity between you (the serpent,) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel Gen. 3: 15.
This was an announcement of the destruction of Satan, the tempter and enemy of man, inasmuch as a wound on the head of a serpent indicates his destruction, while a wound on the heel of man is not irremediable. What is the serpent? It is explained as follows:
Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. From whence come wars and fighting amongst you? come they not hence, even of the lusts that war in your members? James 1: 14; 4: 1.
But Satan and his works, the lusts and sins of mankind, are to be destroyed:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death, were, all their life-time, subject to bondage. Heb. 2: 14, 15. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3: 8. So Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. Rev. 20: 14.
And the apostle exulted over their destruction:
Oh Death where is your sting? Oh Grave where is your victory? 1 Cor. 15: 55.
The promise to Adam was fulfilled in Christ, who came to vanquish the vanquisher, and who placed in operation those means that will result in delivering man from all his foes, death, hell, the devil, and the works of the devil. The original promise to Adam contained in embryo the idea of universal deliverance through Christ.
How can any believer in the Bible escape the conclusion that the reconciliation of all men to God is taught in the promise to Abraham?
Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, unto a land that I will show you; and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless you; and curse him that curses you; and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed. Gen. 12: 1-3. And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time and said, By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, for because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying, I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore: and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies: and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice. Gen. 22: 15-18. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your seed shall all the 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.
I. It is a Universal Promise. Every human being who ever lived or ever shall live is included in “all the nations families and kindreds of the earth.”
II. The blessing is Christian Salvation. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to your seed which is Christ. Gal. 3: 16
III. It consist in a Gospel Blessing. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel to Abraham, saying: In you shall all nations be blessed. Gal. 3: 8.
IV. It is Salvation from Sin, through faith. Know you therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In you all nations shall be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Gal. 3: 7, 8, 9. It included the murderers of Christ. But you denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the prince of life, whom God has raised from the dead: whereof we are witnesses. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your seed shall all the 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: 14-15; 25-26.
V. It is to be fulfilled in the resurrection. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers; unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? Acts. 26: 6, 8. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Heb. 6: 19, 20.
VI. It has been attested by the Oath of God. For
when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself saying, surely, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying, I will multiply you. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the vail: whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec. Heb. 6: 13-20.
VII. Man’s unbelief will not prevent its fulfillment. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar: as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged. Rom. 3: 3-5 If we believe not, yet he abides faithful: he cannot deny himself. 2 Tim. 2: 13.
VIII. Man’s disobedience will not always exist. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, can not disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. Gal. 3: 17.
IX. All the conditions are to be complied with, and it is so certain that it is spoken of as already accomplished. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? Gen. 18: 17, 18.
X. Abraham believed it. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for
righteousness. Gal. 3: 6. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And, therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Rom. 4: 20-22.
XI. All Christians are required to believe it. Now, it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him: but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Rom. 4: 23-25.
Thus God’s promise to Abraham is (1) a universal one, (2) of Christian salvation, (3) consisting in a Gospel blessing, (4) of deliverance from sin, including even the murderers of Christ, (5) and will be finally fulfilled in the resurrection, to which (6) the oath as well as (7) the promise of God is pledged, and (8) against which man’s unbelief, (9) and sinfulness will not always be opposed, but (10) all the conditions will be complied with, and it is so clearly stated that (11) Abraham believed it, and enjoyed the righteousness that comes through faith, and (12) all men are under obligations to see in Christ the promised seed that will deliver humanity from sin. Can Scriptural demonstration go beyond this positive language?
In the Old Testament teach that immortal blessedness is not, but that limited happiness and prosperity are the reward of goodness:
He that dwells in the secret place of the Most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. He
shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Ps. 91: 1-16. Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them. Ps. 119: 165. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delights in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed. Ps. 37: 23-25. You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you. Isa. 26: 3. My son, forget not my law, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and long life, and peace shall they add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them about your neck: Write them upon the table of your heart; So shall you find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Prov. 3: 1-4. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil in that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land whither you go to possess it. Deut. 30: 15-16. And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your kine, and the flocks of your sheep. Blessed shall be your basket and your store. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blest shall you be when you go out. The Lord shall cause your enemies that rise up against
you to be smitten before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand unto; and he shall bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord shall establish you a holy people unto himself, as he has sworn unto you, if you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of you. And the Lord shall make you plenteous in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers to give you. The Lord shall open unto you his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto your land in his season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend unto many nations, and you shall not borrow. And the Lord shall make you the head and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if that you hearken unto the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them. Deut. 28: 1-13.
This was the reward, and the extent of it, of well doing. Exactly opposite were
These were not endless but limited, not hereafter but here.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the forward. Prov. 22: 5. A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. Ps. 107:34. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace says my God, to the wicked. Isa. 57: 20, 21. This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of the oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty. If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword; and his off-spring shall not be satisfied with bread. Those that remain
of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep. Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; he may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver. He builds his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper makes. The rich man shall lie down but he shall not be gathered; he opens his eyes, and he is not. Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest steals him away in the night. The east wind carries him away, and he departs: and as a storm hurls him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand. Men shall clap their hands at him and, shall hiss him out of his place. Job. 27: 13-23.
To attempt to quote all the passages that teach this doctrine would be to cite every precept and every declaration in the Old Testament. All that refers to Adam, Cain, the Antediluvians, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s Wife, Pharaoh, the Egyptians, Ahab, Solomon, Jeroboam, Absalom, Amnon, David, the Israelites, teaches that all are visited by limited, temporal punishments and pains, and the doctrine is continually taught, that after the wrath of God has run its full career in pain and penalty to the transgressor, the Divine Mercy remains unspent and inexhaustible.
The reader of the Old Testament is frequently met by passages that demonstrate that the ancient worthies who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, cherished this sublime faith. Is not this the teaching of such passages as these:
Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the Ghost and died,
and was gathered to his people. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days. And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. Gen. 25: 8, 17; 35: 29; 49: 33.
They all went to “one place” to meet the “great majority,” and there is no hint that any part of them went to any endless prison house. Indeed, the testimony is that at death all go to God.
Solomon declared, when describing the dissolution of the body:
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Eccl. 12: 7.
He depicts the destiny of every member of the body: the “keepers of the house,” the hands; the “strong men,” the legs; “the lookers out at the windows,” the eyes; “the silver cord,” the spinal marrow; “the golden bowl,” the skull; “the pitcher at the fountain, the wheel at the cistern.” the heart; all these become dust. Would he not tell us the fate of the soul? He does, it “returns to God who gave it.” There, in the hands of its maker and owner, it cannot fail to be cared for.
Incidental passages frequently occur in the Old Testament showing that the Bible worthies entertained the idea that the next state of existence is an improved one, even to those who die in sin. We find an instance where it reads:
And the soul of King David longed to go forth unto Absalom, for he was comforted concerning Amnon seeing he was dead. 2 Sam. 13: 39.
The king of Israel loved his two sons, but when the wicked’er of them died, he felt at ease concerning him, was even comforted, while he still mourned over the living one. Why? Because he believed in his heart that he had gone where “the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.” Job 3: 17. Would David have been comforted concerning his son who committed a horrible and nameless crime, and died drunk, had he believed that he had gone to a world of endless torment? No, he was comforted because he believed he had bettered his condition. This harmonizes with what his son Solomon subsequently said:
So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which are yet alive. Eccl. 4: 1, 2.
When the wise seer uttered these words millions of sinners had died – the antediluvians, the people of the wicked cities, and multitudes besides, and yet he could say of the dead – all the dead – they are more to be praised, that is, better off, than the living. He therefore agreed with his father David that those who leave this world improve their condition. He teaches that those who lay aside what Paul calls “the body of this death,” our earthly nature, are in improved relations. They cannot, therefore, be in a state of ceaseless torment, but must be in a world where Divine disciplines are being administered, for the purpose of working out the redemption of the sinner. The dead are not more to be praised than the living unless they are better, purer, holier; and no father, loving a son,
could be comforted because he was dead, unless he believed in his heart of hearts that he was better, happier, and so better off than when living. David mourned over wicked Absalom, living, but was reconciled, “comforted,” as he thought of wicked Amnon, dead. The dead son must have been better off than the living son.
Let us glance at a few of the declarations in the Old Testament, confessedly less numerous and less explicit than those of the New Testament, and yet developing the increasing purpose that grows and augments from the beginning to the end of Revelation.
Job says: “Acquaint yourself with God and be at peace. Job. 22: 21. If he were the being the creeds describe, the better we knew him the more we would be tormented. Ignorance of his character would be the soul’s bliss. But the better he is known the more peace the soul enjoys. Hence he must be incapable of torturing the soul forever, or punishing it more than its good demands. It is ignorance of God that makes the soul unhappy, while knowledge of him renders the soul peaceful. Hence it follows that God has no attribute that would harm or injure. To know his purposes, to understand his disposition, to see him as he is, gives joy.
A great number of passages of Scripture speak of what the Bible calls God’s anger or wrath -meaning thereby his disapprobation and punishment of sin – as limited, brief and destined to end, frequently contrasting it with his mercy, which, it is said,
will never end, and declaring that the soul of man could not exist as the victim of endless wrath.
God’s delight is in mercy, and he displays anger towards men for their benefit, and when the purpose of the anger is accomplished, mercy is resumed.
He retains not his anger forever because he delights in mercy. Micah 7: 18. 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. Ps. 103: 8, 9. For his anger endures but a moment: in his favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Ps. 30: 5. In a little wrath I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. Isa. 54: 8.
One reason why God will not “be angry forever” is, because no soul could endure the storm of God’s endless wrath. The benevolence of God is demonstrated in the statute of limitations, by which when pain becomes unendurable, the victim dies. Endless torture no soul could endure.
For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit would fail before me and the soul which I have made. Isa. 57: 16. Hence, 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 does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Lam. 3: 31-33.
God could not be angry with any soul forever, because it would be infinite folly in him to do so. The wise man says:
Anger rests in the bosom of fools!” Eccl. 7: 9.
Can it rest forever in the great heart of infinite wisdom? Preposterous thought, Anger is contrary to God’s nature, but mercy is his delight. Hence
O, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endures forever. Ps. 107: 1.
In Psalm 136, this language, “his mercy endures forever” occurs twenty times. There never can come a moment, in the endless existence of the sinner, when he cannot resort to the fountain of infinite mercy, and find a full supply of Divine grace. It is for all souls, and the fountain will ever be accessible.
The prophets often “built better than they knew,” and uttered truths which later generations comprehended better than they did themselves. Especially is this true of some of their utterances concerning man’s final destiny. Even in the times of our Savior, the prophets were not understood even by those who professed to follow them. For instance, the Sadducees did not accept the doctrine of the resurrection, while they professed to follow Moses, and yet Jesus told them that God taught the resurrection to Moses when he said:
I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Luke 20: 38.
So the Apostle declares:
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 has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3: 20, 21.
We have shown that Moses prophesied the destruction of man’s passions and sins, when he announced the death of the serpent. And we must accept the declaration of the Apostle that all the holy prophets, ever since the beginning of the world,
foresaw and foretold “the restitution or all things.” Let us consult a few of the prophetic declarations. The sweet singer of Israel often utters the great truth on which he built the hopes he cherished.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish: and abundance of peace so long as the moon endures. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. Ps. 72: 6-8. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you. Ps. 22: 27. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord; and shall glorify your name. Ps. 86: 9.
This is David’s method of expressing universal obedience.
He regards doubt of God’s universal and unending goodness as an infirmity of man, founded on no reality in God’s purpose or disposition. Hence he declares:
Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever? does his promise fail for evermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? has he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. – Ps. 77:10. For he says, 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. Ps. 103:9. For his anger endures but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Ps. 30: 5. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my
commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes, nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Ps. 89: 30-33.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 165: 8, 9. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. Ps. 86: 9. O you that hears prayer, unto you shall all flesh come. Ps. 65: 2. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you. Ps. 22: 27.
See also his faith in the welfare of his wicked son Amnon as expressed heretofore. We might here rehearse his triumphant exaltations concerning the brevity of God’s anger, and the endless duration of his mercy, elsewhere found in the Psalms. He evidently looked forward to the expiration of God’s anger, and the triumph of Divine mercy and grace in all souls.
Uttered some of the most comprehensive and glorious of all the statements of this doctrine ever framed by human lips or pen.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isa. 25: 8.
If we have any doubt whether this teaches universal deliverance from death and sorrow, in other words, whether the prophet inculcates universal life, and happiness, we have but to turn to 1 Cor. 15, where Paul quotes it, and applies it to the final
resurrection, so that if Paul has not made a mistake, Isaiah, in this language teaches the restitution of all things to God.
Look unto me and be you saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else. 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.” Isa. 45: 24-27.
Here is universal worship and service.
He, (Christ) shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. Isa. 53: 11.
As he died to redeem all souls, and is satisfied with the result, it follows that the purpose of his mission was accomplished.
The triumph of God’s grace is thus described:
As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth and makes it bring forth and bud that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes 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. Isa. 55: 10, 11.
The Divine word is irresistible, and it has gone forth to compel every soul to confess righteousness and strength in the Lord. This certainly was a prophetic anticipation of the universal reign of Christ. The prophet must have been inspired by the spirit of this faith when he inquired:
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Isa. 49: 15.
God will never forget a child of his or cease to care for it, or neglect it, and can only fail to
restore it to himself from lack of means, a lack we cannot impute to one whose wisdom and power are infinite.
Foresaw the grand result when he declared:
Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke although I was a husband unto them, says the Lord. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, 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, says the Lord, for I will forgive their sin and I will remember their iniquity no more. Jer. 31: 31-34.
It will at once be perceived that this language is uttered of the Jews, but it should be remembered that the Jews cannot be saved till after the Gentiles are redeemed.
For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved. Rom. 11: 25, 26.
This is the substance of his declaration found in Lam. 3, 31, 32. Thus even the “weeping prophet” saw the bow of promise in the sky, beheld “the rainbow round about the throne!”
Agrees with his brethren, the prophets.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will
be your plagues: O grave, I will be your destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. Hos. 13: 14.
We are not left in doubt as to the meaning of this language for Paul quotes it in 1 Cor. 15 and declares that it denotes the anastasis, or ascension of all humanity to a condition of holiness and happiness. Even Hosea foresaw the destruction of hell, and the delivery of its inhabitants at the final resurrection.
Who is a God like unto you, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retains not his anger forever because he delights in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us. He will subdue our iniquities, and you will cast all their sins into the depth of the sea. You will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which you have sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. Mic. 7: 18, 19, 20.
This reference to the promise to Abraham, coupled with the declaration that he retains not his anger forever, harmonizes with the idea expressed by
And there was given him dominion, and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him: his dominion is an ever lasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Dan. 7: 14.
Thus, whatever may be the extent of sin, or its duration, even those who had not seen the fullness of the Gospel as revealed by him “who brought life and immortality to light,” were able to agree with
Who told King David:
For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on
the ground which cannot be gathered up again, neither does God respect any person, yet does he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. 2 Sam. 14: 14.
The Prophet Malachi comprehended this when he called Jesus
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. Mal. 3: 3.
The silver refiner kindles the fire beneath his crucible that he may purge the dross away from the precious metal, and when he can see his perfect image reflected in the molten mass, his task is done. So Jesus will pursue his great work till the dross of sin shall be purged from all hearts, and every soul shall “resemble the Son as the Son resembles the Father.” In thus designating Jesus as the Refiner, the prophet foretold the Divine event to which the whole creation moves,” when
“O’er every foe victorious,
He on his throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious –
All blessing and all blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove.
His name shall stand forever,-
That name to us is Love.”
Thus the end of the elder dispensation harmonizes with its beginning, when the universe was finished, and all that God had made was pronounced very good.
And God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good.” Gen. 1 :31.
We have thus briefly denoted the more prominent considerations in behalf of our blessed faith that are recorded in the Old Testament. It was not to
be expected that the dim twilight of Revelation would be radiant with the glory that bursts from the cross having beheld the dawning of the truth, let us turn with delight to the glory that streams from the Sun of Righteousness. In the Gospel of Jesus Christ we shall find the truth so plainly revealed that “he who runs may read,” and “the wayfaring man need not err,” as he consults the declarations of him “who spoke as man never spoke,” and the words of his disciples who repeated the blessed truths they had heard him utter.
The great truth of universal redemption is taken for granted, or expressed on nearly every page.
Before the birth of Jesus the Angel of the Lord comprehended the grand result when he said to Joseph,
You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1: 21
He is to save his people. Who are his people? Sinners, for they are to be saved from their sins. How many sinners will he reach and redeem?
Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. Ps. 2: 8. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hands. John 3: 35.
In one sense, in the sense employed in this passage, the people of Christ are sinners, and all sinners are his people, and as “no man lives and sins not,” the expression “his people” denotes all men. The apostle illustrates the thought when he says:
God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all. Rom. 11: 32.
The heavenly messenger made his name, Jesus, (one who saves,) an epitome of his character and mission. He is entitled to be called Jesus, because he will deliver his people, sinners, all men from transgression and sin.
The word Gospel, (Anglo Saxon, “good spell,”) signifies good news, glad tidings. Nothing so deserves this description as the doctrine that announces the deliverance of universal humanity from sin and sorrow; and this Gospel is to all.
Behold I bring you good tidings (the Gospel) of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2: 10.
It is a glad announcement to all souls, because it teaches all that sin, error, suffering, and evil shall be destroyed. No other Christian doctrine so deserves the name Gospel, and this blessed assurance is fully entitled to it.
This was the burthen of the first Christmas song, on the plains of Bethlehem, on the birth-night of the Savior. The messenger from the skies said to the shepherds:
Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2: 10, 11.
And the heavenly choir repeated the declaration in angelic chorus:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 14.
The glad tidings of joy are ultimately to reach all people, Christ’s people, sinners. To say that one soul will be omitted from the saving influence of his grace and truth, is to charge the angels
with falsehood, for then the glad tidings would not be to all people. The aged Simeon caught a glimpse of the truth when, taking the infant Jesus in his arms, he said:
Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, according to your word: For mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel. Luke 2: 29-32.
John the Baptist differed very much from modern Baptists in the style and substance of his preaching. In announcing the coming of one, after him, whose shoe latchet he was not worthy to loosen, the forerunner and herald of the Savior cried:
As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Luke 3: 4-6.
He thus affirms that the moral universe shall have no valleys, no hills, nothing crooked or perverse, but that universal salvation shall result from the laws of Christ. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” He uttered the same great truth, when, seeing Jesus approach, he said:
Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. John 1: 29.
Not the sin of a few, or even of many, not of a part only, but of the whole world!
In the very beginning of our Savior’s ministry he came to “Nazareth where he had been
brought up,” and the account says (Luke 4: 16-20.) He read to the people in a Jewish synagogue. He read these words:
The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Isa. 61: 1.
Here he stopped short, in the middle of a sentence, refusing to read the remainder of the prophet’s language, and “closed the book, and gave it to the minister, and sat down” What was the sentence he refused to read? This:
And the day of vengeance of our God. Isa. 61: 2.
Why did he end thus abruptly, and decline to read what the prophet had spoken of him? Because he came to represent God as a Father and Savior, and would not utter of himself one word that would seem to contradict that great fact. Now it is admitted by all commentators that the Old Testament is silent concerning the subject of endless hell, but say some, the New Testament teaches that awful doctrine, and Jesus came to reveal to men endless torment in the immortal world. And yet when Jesus stood for almost the first time in the presence of his people, and read the prophetic declaration concerning himself, he refused to admit that he came to announce a day of vengeance, but rolled up the parchment in the middle of a verse. He would not read language that might seem to teach that he came to represent God as other than the Father and Savior of all.
What is the spirit of that grandest discourse ever yet heard or uttered, the Sermon on the Mount. Be like God. He is kind to the wicked, good to the bad. Be like him.
Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6: 27, 28, 35, 36. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just, and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matt. 5: 44-48.
Could this language be employed concerning God, if he consigned the sinner to an endless hell? And if he did torment his enemies forever, should we be like him, if we loved our enemies. The fact that we are like God only when we are kind to those who injure us, demonstrates that God is the same, and as he is without variableness, or even the shadow of turning,” James 1: 17, the same yesterday to-day and forever, Heb. 13: 8, it follows that he will always manifest himself with impartial kindness towards all. The spirit of this language is in eternal hostility to the idea of
endless torment, and inculcates the restitution of all souls to Him whose property they are. We must treat each other as God treats us, in order to be merciful as God is merciful. If God is not merciful to all who offend him, where is our obligation? and if we must not be unmerciful because he is not, how can he eternally punish? God forbids us to overcome evil with evil, and demands of us that we overcome evil with good.
Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12: 21
And yet it is said that he employs his infinite power in overcoming evil by evil to all eternity! “Recompense no man evil for evil,” Rom. 12: 17, is the Divine injunction, and yet God employs eternity in disobeying his own commands! We are told to bless our foes:
If your enemy hunger feed him; if he thirst give him drink; for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head, Rom 12: 20.
And yet we are taught that damned souls shall cry for water in vain – a drop of water – to all eternity. Thus God is represented as not doing what he commands us to do, and doing what he commands us not to do, and that to all eternity! Let it be shown that God is unforgiving, cruel, unmerciful, will torment his enemies forever, and men will resemble him most when they are most fiendish. If God were to torment one soul forever, a Sioux Indian would be his best representative among men. But as we are most like him when kindest and tenderest, it follows that his mercy and love towards every child of his will be without limit or bound.
As this Divine discourse proceeds, it culminates in
And this may be called the Universalist Profession of Faith. All men are required to recognize and address God daily as their Heavenly Father; one who is always kind and merciful toward all his children. They are commanded in that prayer to pray for his kingdom to come, his kingdom of holiness and purity, and for his will to be done. We will show hereafter that his will is that all souls shall be saved, (See 1 Tim 2: 1-6; Eph. 1: 9-14; John 6: 38-40). It is declared that all true Christian prayer must be in faith, nothing doubting, (1 Tim 2: 8,) for whatever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14: 23). Now, how can any one address God as a Father. and pray that his will may be done, and understand that will to include the final welfare of all souls, and offer that prayer in faith, and not be a Universalist? The doxology of the prayer is in the same vein. He who offers it understandingly, and who prays in faith, can say triumphantly, “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory,” and his “Amen.” Signifying, So may it be, and So shall it be, is an aspiration and a psalm, a petition and an exultation. He sees the Father’s will universally triumphant, or his Amen is but an ignorantly pronounced expletive offending heaven with idle rhetoric. Unless he utters it as a triumphant ejaculation that the desire “Deliver us from evil” will at length be answered in universal redemption, his Amen has no meaning. But let us dwell a little on the one great fact in this prayer that demonstrates universal salvation:
The prophet Malachi (2: 10) asks. “Have we not
all one Father?” If he employed this language in a restricted sense, confining it to the Jews, Christianity enlarges it. In the Lord’s Prayer, above, all are under perpetual obligations to call God by the dear name that describes as no other word can, his kindly purpose towards all men, his children. Jesus declares: “One is your Father:” Matt 23: 9. Paul affirms, “There is one God and Father of all. Eph. 4: 6, and he adds that his punishments are all administered to correct and reform those who, by sinning, deserve them.
We have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected as and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us, after their own pleasure but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Heb. 12: 9, 10.
He illustrates his paternal love not only in sending the sunshine and the rain on the evil and the good, who are alike his children, but he punishes because he loves and for the purpose of redemption. Sin does not destroy this relation. It continues when man forgets or disregards it.
A certain man had two sons; and the younger or them said to his father, father, give me the portion or goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in the land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his field to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and
I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him: and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again, he was lost and is found. Luke 15: 11-24.
God continues to be the father of the lost, remaining always the same to sinners.
A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel, for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten their God. Return you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding. Jer. 3: 21, 22.
We are to judge God’s feelings towards his children by our own feelings towards our offspring.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt. 7: 9-11.
Make the heart of the best earthly parent the unit to be multiplied as far as the mind can go, and the quotient – differing in degree, but the same in kind, indicates Our Father. The earthly parent will do all he can for his children, but God not only will do so much, but he can do all he will. Let any earthly parent look into his own heart, and in the
drop of love there he will see reflected the great heart of God, planning, devising, executing, in time and in eternity, the best possible for every child. The fact of God’s paternity infinitely wise and powerful, is a guaranty of universal salvation. God created, governs, punishes, does all things as a Father. He will not permit final woe to befall any one of his vast family. He will accomplish the ultimate welfare of each and all, this we know, as truly as we know that he is “Our Father.”
How the Scriptures dwell on this great fact.
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you that you may be the children of your father which is in heaven for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matt 5: 44, 45.
That is, being the children of God, we ought to imitate him in character. God’s paternal love resembles that of the good earthly parent for his children, only it is infinitely greater, and far more enduring.
Or what man is there of you whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt. 7: 9-11. But Zion said, the Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget you. Isa. 49: 14, 15.
A parent would not cast off his child forever. Will God, whose love is infinite? The wicked are
still God’s children, and are punished that they may be made better.
And you have forgotten the exhortation which spoke unto you as unto children. My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him, for whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is he “whom the father chastens not? But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh that corrected us and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby. Heb. 12: 5-11.
We act like illegitimate children until punishment reforms us, but we are not such, for what would God be, if we were really illegitimate?
God is Father in three senses:
1. By creation in his image. You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with honor and glory. Gen. 1, Ps. 8.
2. By faith in Christ and love of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father. Rom. 8: 15.
3. By being raised in his perfect likeness at the final resurrection, as all souls will be. And Jesus answered and said unto them, the children of this world marry, and are given in marriage, but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection of the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage, 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. Luke 20: 34-36.
If the sinner forget his relation as a child of God, the Father remembers it, and though man cannot say, “Abba, Father. God says,” My son give me your heart. Prov. 23: 26.
What else than this is taught in that immortal parable, the Good Samaritan?
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he look out two pence and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him, and whatsoever you spend more, when I come again I will repay you. Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, go and do you likewise. Luke 10: 30-37.
Here a man is given as an example to all time, of a divine and god like spirit, because he was merciful and compassionate to an enemy, ministered to his necessities, and relieved his wants. Would the God who gave to man this sublime ideal, violate it in his treatment of his enemies? Is not the parable of the Good Samaritan a demonstration that the
Father of men will employ all his infinite attributes in the most blessed work that men or angels, or the great God himself, can ever perform – the hallowed work of restoring and saving? Is not this story a guaranty of universal redemption?
The power of leaven is irresistible. However small the quantity placed in meal it overcomes by its fermentation, all opposition, and assimilates the entire mass to its own likeness. Jesus makes this beautiful figure illustrative of the irresistible influence of his Gospel in the human heart, in the moral world.
Another parable spoke he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Matt. 13: 33. And again he said, whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. Luke 13: 20, 21.
The Gospel leaven must prevail universally; it will ferment until “the whole is leavened.”
The Sadducees taught that there is no resurrection, and the Pharisees taught endless torment after death, for a portion of mankind. Jesus warned his disciples, alike, against the doctrines of each party.
Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. The disciples did not understand his meaning. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, it is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O you of little faith, why reason you among yourselves, because you have brought no bread? How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware
of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the DOCTRINE of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matt. 16: 6-12.
The Sadducees taught no resurrection, the Pharisees believed in the future happiness of a portion of mankind. Jesus told his disciples to beware of both. Only one other view is possible, the final happiness of all.
All Christians admit that men are in a lost condition. While there is no such language as “finally impenitent,” or “finally lost” in the Bible, the Gospel everywhere assumes that souls are lost. For the purpose of seeking and saving such, all such, Jesus came to this world.
The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost. Luke 19: 10.
Not a part, but all the lost. Will he succeed? This question he answers, and in the three parables, the Lost Silver, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Prodigal, he teaches that all the lost are to be restored.
What man of you having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, does not light a candle and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it. A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, father give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he came to himself, he said; how many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare,
and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, father I have sinned against heaven, and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, father I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to he called your son. But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, – for this, my son, was dead and is alive again; he was lost, AND IS FOUND. Luke 15: 11-22.
Now, had these parables been related to teach the common doctrines of the sacrificial church, they would have represented the shepherd as having found say twenty sheep, while eight were ir-reclaimable; the woman would have lost, say six pieces of silver, and found but two, while four were utterly gone, and the father would have had, say four disobedient children, only one of whom returned, while three wandered in the great desert of sin irredeemable forever. But this is not the teaching of these simple yet divine stories. Their significance is not in the loss of sheep, or silver, or prodigal, nor in the value placed on them by their owners, nor in their diligence in searching. There are beautiful lessons in all this, but the emphasis is placed where the Christian world does not place it, not on the loss, or the finding of a part, but on the fact that the search was continued until all the lost were found. The word that Christians overlook, is the word UNTIL – “Until he find it,” “Until she find it,” the search continues for sheep and silver, and the father of the prodigal waits until he can see his son return, until
he can say “My lost son is found.” These parables teach beyond all controversy that however many are lost, they are all found, that when the search is finished there are no lost. Hence the divine author of the parables says:
All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 6: 37-39.
Christianity tolerates no final loss. All the lost are to be found by the Heavenly Seeker. When the divine task is consummated the entire race will be brought home – “no wanderer lost, a family in heaven!” The language of our Savior can have no significance, if he does not accomplish the redemption of all souls.
I am the good shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. John 10: 14-16.
Christians of all creeds rise to the sublime height of the salvation of all, in their best moments, as witness the universal singing of the “Ninety and Nine,” a song that breathes the spirit, while it expresses the literal language of our faith, and yet is sung by Christians of every sect, everywhere.
In the shelter of the fold,
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountain wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.
“Lord, you have here your ninety and nine:
Are they not enough for you?”
But the Shepherd made answer, “This one of mine
Has wandered away from me;
And although the way be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find my sheep.”
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed,
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere he found his sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert he heard its cry –
Sick and helpless and ready to die.
“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way
That mark the mountains track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back!”
“Lord, whence are your hands so rent and torn?”
“They are pierced to-night by many a thorn.”
All thro’ the mountains thunder-riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a cry to the gates of heaven,
“Rejoice! I have found my sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!’
1. The object of Christ’s ministry was to redeem universal humanity.
For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19: 10. Jesus says unto them, my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. John 4: 34. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved. John 3: 17. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, 1 John 4: 14.
2. He labors in this and in the future world to effect his purpose.
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. 1 Pet. 3: 18-20. Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 1 Pet. 4: 5, 6.
3. He has ample power to do all he attempts.
And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Matt. 28: 18. As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. John 17: 2. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. Rom. 14: 9. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. Phil. 3: 20, 21. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. John 3: 35.
4. He will be successful.
The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied… Isa. 53: 10. This is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world. John 4: 42.
Jesus himself said: It is finished. John 19: 30.
He undertakes to save all men, he labors here and thereafter to accomplish his purpose, he has power to achieve it, and is actually and absolutely “the
Savior of the world,” which he could not be if one soul were lost.
1. All souls were created for Christ.
2. Having become unreconciled, he died to bring them into harmony with God.
3. He had so succeeded in establishing the requisite means that he was able to see the result accomplished.
- It is a universal reconciliation. “All things are reconciled.”
For the love of Christ constrains us: because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might he made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5: 14-21. Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether
they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist, and he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell: and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled. Col. 1: 13-21.
5. He will draw all men unto him, and they will obey the call, and submit to him in willing and righteous obedience.
He tasted death for every man, Heb. 2: 9, that each might become his disciple, and possess eternal life, and this he declares all men will have, as surely as he is lifted up, that is, crucified. Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. John 12: 31, 33. No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me. John 6: 44, 45. As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you has given him. John 17: 2. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father: neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Matt. 11: 27. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of him that sent me. And this is
the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6: 37-40. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations. Ps. 22: 27, 28. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him 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. Phil. 2: 9-11.
The phrase “under the earth,” Kataxthonion, means infernal, and the whole description, says Bretschneider, is equivalent to all mankind. Professor Stuart says:
Things in heaven, earth and under the earth is a common periphrasis of the Hebrew and New Testament writers for the universe.
Albert Barnes says:
The whole universe shall confess that he is Lord. This is a willing confession, to God’s glory, and must therefore be of sincere worship.
Who so offers praise glorifies me.” Ps. 50: 23.
This must be universal worship, as it is all to the glory of God the Father. There are no unwilling worshippers. Hence the apostle teaches that the result of Christ’s mission is to render all souls righteous:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not
imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift: for if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one: much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, 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. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. 5: 12-21.
All have sinned, and become subject to death, and the same all are to be made spiritually alive. The same “many” who were disobedient sinners are to be made righteous.
Says Dr. Macknight (Scotch Presbyterian):
For as hoi 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 through the disobedience of Adam 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.
Thus these many, i.e. all mankind, are to become actively righteous. Says Professor Stuart.
Dikaioi, moreover, must have an active sense here, in order to make out the antithesis to hamartoloi, which clearly bears only an active sense, if the usus loquendi may decide this point; at least it does so wherever else it is employed.
The “many” who died in sin, died as Adam died and are to be made alive with spiritual life, as Christ was alive – that is, all men are to resemble Christ as they have resembled Adam. This the Apostle illustrates by the figure of a pair of scales:
As in Adam all die, EVEN SO in Christ shall all
be made alive,
1 Cor. 15: 22.
Nothing can be plainer or more positive than the Bible presentation of the Final Resurrection. It demonstrates the deliverance of universal humanity from sin and suffering. It describes a state in which evil has vanished from the moral universe. The resurrection is employed as a figure, sometimes, that is, as a national, or local, or moral awakening, and sin is said to follow it, but in all such instances the circumstances limit it, and show that it is not the final resurrection. Such a usage is the following:
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about; and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O, Lord God, you know. Again he said unto me, prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God unto these bones, behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live:
and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, Son of man, and say to the wind, thus says the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold they say our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, thus says the Lord God; behold, oh my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, says the Lord. Ezek. 37.
Had not the explanation in verse eleven been given, it might have been thought that this is a description of the literal resurrection, but it is seen to be a poetical statement of deliverance from the Babylonish captivity. A similar use of language is found in the following passages:
I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead. Rev. 3: 1. And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. Eph. 2: 1. For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. Luke 15: 24. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Phil. 3: 10-12.
This is a resurrection attainable in this life.
Not as though I had already attained, but if I might by any means attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
But the following is the most striking instance:
Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5: 28-29.
That this is not the general resurrection is evident.
1. Because it took place then, and is not now future, “The hour is coining, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”
2. Because in this account all are not said to be raised, but only those who had “done good or evil.” This excludes half the human race, which, dying in infancy, never has done good or evil.
3. Or if it be claimed that all are raised, then only the good and evil are assigned and the rest are left unprovided for.
4. Because this resurrection follows the judgment, whereas, in the popular view, the final resurrection precedes the judgment.
5. Because in the final resurrection no judgment follows. See 1 Cor. 15.
6. Because the dead are not raised from hades, but from the “the graves,” as in Ezek. 37
7. This is a moral awakening, of those dead in trespasses and sins, and therefore can only
include those who have done good or evil, and not all men. It is parallel with Dan. 12: 2, and Matt. 24. Daniel says:
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
That Daniel’s is a local and figurative use of the word is evident:
1 Because it is not all men but “many” who are raised, and
2. Because this was to be at the second appearing of Christ during the lifetime of those who heard Christ speak. Daniel says:
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time. 12: 1.
There shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matt. 24: 21.
That the prophet and the Savior refer to the same event is evident:
When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (who so reads, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains? Let him which is on the house-top not come down to take anything out of his house. This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled. Matt. 24 15, 17, 34.
All these descriptions refer to the moral awakening, or anastasis that Jesus caused. But the final resurrection is a different event. It is described by Jesus and Paul.
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked
him saying, Master, Moses said, that if a man die, having no children his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren; and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother; likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last or all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them: You do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Matt. 22: 23-32. And Jesus answering said unto them, the children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain the world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 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. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto him. Luke 20: 34-38. See also, Mark 12: 18-27.
1. All are raised according to this statement, “the dead are raised.”
2. All the dead are immortal. “Neither can they die any more.”
3. They are “angels.”
4. They are like God in character.
5. All must be holy and happy forever, as all are immortal, godlike, angels.
The objection sometimes offered to this view is in
the phrase Luke uses, but that the other evangelists do not. “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world.” But this phrase is a reply to the Pharisees who denied that some would be deemed worthy to rise. Jesus having said that all will rise, says they “having been accounted worthy,” (kataxiothentes) are immortal and holy. The lexicographers define this word thus: Donnegan, “To deem worthy, to honor, to esteem, to desire, to sue for.” Greenfield,” to account worthy, to esteem fit.” Dr. George Campbell thus translates it:
But among them who shall be honored to share in the resurrection and the other world.
The “Emphatic Diaglott” defines the phrase ” having been accounted worthy.” The language is this:
The children of this world marry and are given in marriage but they having been accounted worthy to obtain that world, that is, the resurrection of the dead, are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
That he taught this doctrine is evident from verse 33. “And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.” What astonished them? In his audience were
1. Pharisees who believed in partial salvation. Had he taught that he would not have astonished
2. Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. Had he taught that, he would not have astonished them.
3. Heathen, who entertained views similar to those of the partialists of the present day. Had he taught endless punishment for a portion of mankind, he would not have astonished them.
The only doctrine that could have astonished all these classes, was the resurrection of all souls
to holiness and happiness. He taught something new and different to what all these classes received. Universal salvation is the only possible view different from the doctrines of all these. Hence Jesus warned his hearers against the old ideas.
Then Jesus said unto them, take heed, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matt. 16: 6, 12.
He rejected the idea of all and taught that the resurrection condition is one of universal holiness.
Paul’s view accords perfectly with the doctrine of the Savior:
But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruit of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then, comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy (that) shall be destroyed (is) death. [The words “that,” and “is” are supplied by the translators. What Paul says is, “The last enemy, Death, SHALL BE DESTROYED.”] For he has put all things under his feet. But when he says, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural
body it is raised a spiritual body. And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible; and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be you steadfast, un-moveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15: 20-28; 42-58.
Here we see,
1. All mankind are included. The same all that die as Adam died will be resuscitated.
2. They are not merely to live, but are to live “in Christ.” And as is the first fruit so is the harvest.
3. They are to be new creatures, and wear the image of the heavenly. If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. 2 Cor. 5: 17.
4. It is a condition of “glory,” “incorruptibility,” “immortality.”
5. It is not the resurrection of the body, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”
6. Death is to be destroyed.
7. All man’s enemies are to be annihilated.
8. And man is to be victor through Christ over all. 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. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall be taken away from off all the earth; for the Lord has spoken it. Isa. 25: 6-8.
9. That the final resurrection is to holiness, is evident from Paul’s words in Acts 24: 15, in which he hopes for “the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” It is not supposable that Paul could hope, that is, desire and expect, the resurrection of the unjust, if he believed that they would rise to endless torture. The fact that he hoped for the resurrection of the unjust proves that he regarded it as a blessing to them, even.
It is said that there is a resurrection to be attained by human effort. True, Jesus says:
Then said he also to him that bade him, when you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and you shall be blest; for they cannot recompense you; for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14: 12-14.
This is the result, not of faith, but of good works, and gives a higher measure of glory to those who are worthy of it. “In the resurrection one star differs from another.” Those who deserve it, have the larger measure of joy in the resurrection.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection. Heb 11: 35.
There are grades hereafter, all are not alike, though all are equal to, or like the angels.
The anastasis, or resurrection is not merely being, it is a rising, a moral and spiritual ascent ultimately to be experienced by all mankind, who are to be made alive in Christ, and become equal to the angels. It is “rising to a better life,” in the words of Macknight, Scotch Presbyterian. This is the clear and unmistakable testimony of Jesus the Savior and Paul the Apostle. Well did this sublime consummation compel the apostle to exclaim:
For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. Rom. 11: 32-36. And let all the people say Amen.
The office of punishment to correct and reform, as punishment is explained in the New Testament, demonstrates that it is to be followed by reformation and restoration. In Matt. 25: 46, where certain wicked are sent away into “everlasting punishment,”
the word “everlasting” denotes – as is its usual meaning in the Bible – long but not endless duration, and the word punishment is a translation from kolasin, which means to prune. These are sent away to be pruned, that is improved; this is the exact meaning of the language. Paul conveys this idea:
To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor. 5: 5. We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of Spirits and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Heb. 12: 9-11.
We must therefore charge God with being unable to accomplish his purpose in the punishment he inflicts, or we must admit that his pruning, sooner or later, causes those punished to yield to God “the peaceable fruit of righteousness,” by “partaking of his holiness.” Hence all God’s punishments must end in reformation.
Long before his death, Jesus commanded his disciples to forgive those who injured them. This injunction is in the Lord’s Prayer, and it is also found in the following:
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus says unto him, say not
unto you, until seven times, but until seventy times seven. Matt. 18: 21, 22.
The reason is, because God places no limit on his forgiveness. If it could be shown that God ever ceases to forgive, then the obligation would not rest on man to forgive those who wrong him. But as God always forgives, man should do likewise. “Seventy times seven,” four hundred and ninety times, denotes continual forgiveness. How sublimely was this illustrated on the cross:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Luke 23: 34.
Did Jesus offer this prayer “in faith, nothing doubting?” If not it was not Christian prayer. Was his prayer answered? If not, then Jesus was mistaken, for he said, addressing the wicked Jews:
You shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord. Matt. 23: 37-39.
And certainly Peter looked beyond the guilt of the murderers of Jesus to their deliverance from sin, when he said:
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified his Son Jesus; whom you delivered up and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go, but you killed the Prince of Life . . . You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers; saying unto Abraham, and in your seed shall all the 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: 13-15; 25-26.
Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of his murderers. He must have prayed in faith, for he condemns all other prayer. He believed that even his disciples’
prayers would be answered, – and of course his own – and Peter declares that these wicked men for whom Jesus prayed, were to be delivered from their iniquities. And if this be true, certainly no human sin can fail, sooner or later, to receive the divine forgiveness.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with hands, as though be needed anything, seeing he gives to all life, and breath and all things; and has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring. Acts 17: 24-28.
He did not create without a good purpose.
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor and power; for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created. Rev. 4: 11.
He created for his pleasure, but he can only be happy in the happiness of others. He foreknew, foresaw the destiny of his children. He was good and desired their welfare, wise and planned as he pleased, powerful and will execute his plans. Therefore he has not created one soul whose welfare he has not fixed.
The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 145: 9.
He created as an infinitely wise, powerful and good Father. Therefore all his children will reach
a happy immortality. Let the Christian always remember that God is the Creator of souls only as he is their Father, and his faith will infallibly perceive that he is the final Savior of just as many as he is Creator.
You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy. Lev. 19: 2. Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Rev. 4: 8.
A holy God might allow sin and sorrow as a means, but he could not allow it as an end, unless he were compelled. Such a God could not permit, as the best thing he could do, what only an infinite devil could do at his worst, perpetuate vice, and continue wickedness forever. Infinite holiness will wage a continual warfare with sin until universal holiness shall reign. To shut up sin in the prison house of hell, and keep it alive forever, is to violate God’s love of holiness. How absurd to say that a holy God has affixed penalties to his law that will insure final unholiness! All men must be holy because he is holy.
The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 145: 9. His mercy endures forever. Ps. 107: 1. He is as merciful when punishing as when forgiving. Also unto you, O Lord, belongs mercy, for you render to every man according to his works. Ps. 62: 12.
Ps. 136 employs the phrase, “mercy endures forever,” twenty times. A God all mercy is not a God unjust, nor is a God all justice a God unmerciful, inasmuch as God’s mercy and justice are as the two wings of the Holy Spirit, identical in object and purpose. God is merciful and just in
punishing and forgiving. When the Divine Love plans it is wisdom, when it executes it is power, when it punishes it is justice, and when it forgives it is mercy. If one sinner escape his full punishment God is unjust. If one is lost he is unmerciful.
He is a just God and a Savior. Isa. 45: 21. You were a God that forgave them, though you took vengeance of their inventions. Ps. 99: 8.
The meaning of this verse is, he punished first and then forgave. This he must do toward each soul. But if he torments one soul forever, where is his mercy? The worst a depraved devil could do would be to torture an enemy forever. Can infinite benevolence do no better than the worst malevolence would do? His infinite mercy demonstrates the final salvation of every child of his.
A God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deut. 32: 4. A just God and savior. Isa. 45: 21. Who will render to every man according to his deeds. Rom. 2: 6.
God will not judge for unbelief but for “deeds.” Hence, as each has done good and evil, each is to be, at the same time, forever happy and forever wretched, or all rewards and punishments must be temporal. Justice requires obedience. Justice demands that every mortal being should receive the full measure of his desert. If all deserve endless punishment, all must be forever miserable, or God will work eternal injustice on those who escape the penalty, and as no soul will ever be able to suffer endless torment, so no soul will ever be justly punished. If endless torment be the just penalty of God’s law, justice can never be administered to any
one soul, inasmuch as no soul can ever experience the penalty in its fullness.
O man, what does the Lord require of you but to deal justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6: 8.
Will he require men to do justly, and then compel them forever to deal unjustly? Could he love and demand justice, and issue a just law, and then affix a penalty that would insure its defeat, and perpetuate injustice?
God Almighty, just and true are your ways, you king of Saints. Rev. 15: 3. Justice and judgment are the habitation of your throne. Ps. 89: 14.
The law of God and the object of justice is to convert men.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Ps.19: 7. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13: 10. For verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matt. 5: 18. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. 1 Tim. 1: 5. Jesus said unto him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, this is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matt. 22: 36-40.
All men are to receive strictly according to their works. If it is just to punish sinners forever, then all souls must be damned. And as all are to be dealt justly by, it follows, if any are to be saved, that endless punishment cannot be the just due of any one. As all have performed both good and evil deeds, all have merited both endless happiness and endless torment. Can men then accuse God of so stultifying himself as to make his law a failure by annexing a penalty
that shall forever prevent its fulfillment? But justice is satisfied here, without an infinite penalty.
Comfort you, comfort you my people, says your God. Speak you comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. Isa. 40: 1, 2.
Here the law was satisfied with a temporal penalty, therefore it does not require an endless one. Hence we are taught that God fully punishes the sinner, and then forgives his sins.
You were a God that forgave them, though you took vengeance of their inventions. Ps. 99: 8.
That is, justly punished and then mercifully forgave. Justice can only be satisfied with universal obedience to God’s law. Therefore it cannot demand the infliction of endless torment but must forever insist on obedience, and forever labor to secure it.
Justice can only be satisfied when all men do justly. It requires all men to love God, and cannot therefore be satisfied with anything less than universal obedience. Endless punishment would defeat the demands of justice, and would be unjust, and is therefore impossible. Justice is identical with mercy and demands the same. The divine law will always be binding on all moral beings, therefore, God’s attribute of justice can only result in universal holiness, so that the fact that God is just is a guaranty that the infamous injustice of endless sin and woe can never be perpetrated, but that his just and perfect law will be fulfilled in the conversion of the souls of all mankind. A just finite being secures the prevalence of justice far as he has power.
A just infinite being will not fail to secure universal justice, for he possesses not only the disposition, but the means requisite to that great end.
O Lord, how manifold are your works, in wisdom have you made them all. Ps. 104: 24. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15: 18. Great is our Lord and of great power; his understanding is infinite. Ps. 147: 5. He is perfect in knowledge. Job. 36: 4. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Isa. 46: 10. For you, even you, only, know the heart of all the children of men, 1 Kings 8: 39. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Heb. 4: 13. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. Pro. 15: 3. You understand my thought afar off, and are acquainted with all my ways. There is not a word in my tongue but lo! O Lord, you know it altogether. Ps. 139: 2-4.
God foresaw every event and could have prevented any. Knowing the final result, with ability to prevent he must have intended it. Therefore he designed the endless torment of some or the happiness of all. Everything will be as he wishes. He desires universal happiness, and is wise enough to accomplish it. Man’s freedom of will and all other impediments were foreseen and provided for.
“Did he o’erlook the least of his concerns,
Since from the least the greatest oft originates,
Then unforseen contingence might alarm him,
And disturb the calm and equal course
Of his affairs.”
Nothing can surprise him or long prevent the operations
of his perfect wisdom. To say that a father foresaw that a child, if created, would suffer forever, is to say that he would never create such a child. When we say he is all omniscient Father, we demonstrate his care and love, and final protection and grace to all his children. He could not create an immortal being of whose salvation he was not absolutely sure.
If it were possible for him to be infinitely good, as he is, to desire the salvation of all, as he does, and infinitely wise to plan what he desires, as he is, he might fail for lack of infinite power to execute his desires and designs. But he is almighty to execute.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Rev. 19: 6, 7.
He will do what he can, being love, and he can do what he will, being omnipotent, and being omniscient, he can devise the requisite means to accomplish all he wishes. His love desires, his wisdom plans, and his power accomplishes the salvation of all. If he does not desire universal happiness he is not infinitely good, if he cannot plan he lacks wisdom, and if unable to execute he lacks power. But he desires that result, plans to accomplish it, and executes all plans. What shall hinder them? Nothing.
He does 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 are you doing? Dan. 4: 35. There are many devices in a man’s heart, nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord,
that shall stand. Prov. 19: 21. But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desires, even that he does. Job 23: 13. Who works all things after the counsel of his own will. Eph. 1: 11.
Praise, everlasting praise be paid
To him who earth’s foundations laid:
Praise to the God whose strong decrees,
Sway the creation as he please.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God: and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God. And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him. 1 John: 4: 7, 16. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13: 10.
Good will is the divine nature and essence. What ever God does is always directed by what he is. Such a God will do the best he can by each of his creatures. But endless torment would be the worst he could do. Is the best a God of Love can do no better than the worst he can do? Can a God of Love do that which does not benefit himself; angels, men nor devils, which will defeat his benevolent purpose, render heaven an exile to millions, who miss their loved ones, and fill hell with agony? No. His “love works no ill.” Therefore he will always be kind to the unthankful and evil, will punish to reform and bless.
For I am the Lord, I change not. Mal. 3: 6. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1: 17.
Then he will always love his enemies; will always
seek their good, for this he does and always has done.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5: 6-8. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16, 17. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4: 9, 10.
He loves sinners, and will do the best he can for them. God is Love. This is the passion that he ever manifests towards his children. It will never cease in the bosom of the Father.
“They sin who tell us love can die;
With life all other passions fly.”
All others are but vanity
Its holy flame forever burns.
From heaven it came to heaven returns.
Hence the Apostle says:
If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother he is a liar. 1 John 4: 20.
So if a man say God is love, and will hate and curse his child, he is a liar. He can only ordain or allow, what is for the final good of his children. Even his punishments will result in their improvement. “Our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12: 29. But the fire is love, and will only consume the enemies of his children; for “Love works no ill.” Rom. 13: 10.
And God so loved the world that he sent his Son to die for it. John 3: 16.
We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the World. 1 John 4: 14.
So that the believing Christians can say:
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8: 38.
God created, governs, judges, punishes, and does all things as a Father, all-wise, almighty, all-merciful. All that the best earthly father would do for his children, God can do for his offspring. Good will, kindness, the best he can do with infinite might and wisdom, God will do for every child – for all mankind. The best thing that infinite love, aided by omnipotence and omniscience can accomplish – the only thing these divine attributes will accomplish, is universal happiness.
The Psalmist reprehends a practice prevalent both in his day and now of “limiting the holy One or Israel.” Ps. 78: 41, of placing boundaries to the abilities of the divine attributes. Infinite, they are without limitation, and it is a sort of profanity to adopt any conclusions that place bounds to them, and yet many Christians represent God as like the foolish man:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after lie laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it all that behold it begin to mock him, saying this man began to build, and was not able to finish. Luke 14: 28-30.
He does 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 are you doing? Dan. 4: 35. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater so shall my word be that goes 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. Isa. 55: 10, 11. Who works all things after the counsel of his own will. Eph. 1: 11. The Lord God omnipotent reigns. Rev. 19: 6.
Then nothing can hinder his power from executing whatever he wishes to accomplish. And yet how often it is said that the weakest human being who ever lived, is endowed with a will so strong that if he please to exercise it, God cannot accomplish a plan between which and himself that stubborn will shall rise, though it is a plan which he has pledged his sacred word, and sent his only son to live and die to accomplish! God has commanded all souls to obey him; has declared that all shall obey him; but we are told that if we help him he will succeed, but if we decline to do so, we can defeat him – can throw the divine purpose from the track, and though God’s omnipotence exert itself to the utmost, it shall fail utterly of its purpose. Is not this limiting that attribute of Deity on which the Divine character rests?
His understanding is infinite. Ps. 147: 5. Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand and I will do all my
pleasure. Isa. 46: 10. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15: 18.
To claim that God desires the final welfare of all men, and that his wisdom has devised the best plan possible to infinite wisdom, but that man’s rebellion has not been foreseen, or, if foreseen, not amply provided for, presents the same disastrous result. What would he said of a mechanic who should construct a sewing machine which, on trial, would not sew? On examination it is found that a little wheel or spring has been inserted that utterly prevents the machine from doing what its maker declares it was constructed to do! Would not such a machinist convict himself of folly? To say that God has created men to serve him, and has conferred upon them an agency that prevents them from serving him – that he has not wisdom enough to overcome the agency he has given them, is to limit God’s wisdom. To say that man’s agency is not abundantly provided for in the plans of God, and that all souls will not be willing to obey him in the day of his power, is to limit the Holy One of Israel. The divine perfections are equally impeached if we suppose that God will do all he wishes, but that he does not desire that all souls shall enjoy him; that his wisdom and power will accomplish all he pleases, but the final triumph of evil in a portion of his universe is a part of the divine plan. This is Calvinism. It plumes itself on a strong and wise God, but it builds his wisdom and power on the ruins of his goodness, just as in other systems of error his goodness stands on the ruins of his wisdom and power.
He desires to save all.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3: 16. But God commends his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us Rom 5: 8. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved.) Eph. 2: 4,5. The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 145: 9.
It matters not which view we take. No theory of the loss of a single soul can be adopted that does not drag to ruin one or more or the attributes of God. Does he not desire the welfare of that soul? Then he is deficient in goodness. Can he not plan its welfare? Then he is not infinitely wise. Can he not execute the plan he desires? His power is limited. To be infinite in all his attributes he must be so good as to desire, so wise as to plan, and so powerful as to execute the good of all. The God of Calvinism is strong but bad; the God of Arminianism is good but weak. The Christian God has the faults of neither and the merits of both.
If, therefore, we say that God will not and cannot, or can but will not, or will but cannot, save every human soul, we limit him in some direction, but if he will and can, then the result contemplated by the Universalist faith must be accomplished.
It is the will of God to save all souls.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Tim. 2: 1-6. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6: 37-40.
This is not a will of desire merely, but of purpose, such being the meaning of the word thelo, as the following passages show:
For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whom he will. John 5: 21. And Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be you clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matt. 8: 3. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees saying unto him, get you out, and depart hence; for Herod will kill you. Luke 13: 31. We will not have this man to reign over us. Luke 19: 14.
A good being, a Father, could have no other will than the welfare of his children. His will is finally to be accomplished.
But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desires, even that he does. Job 23: 13. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord that shall stand. Prov. 19: 21. He does 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 are you doing? Dan. 4: 35. Your people shall
be willing in the day of your power. Ps. 110: 3. Your will be done. Matt. 6: 10.
It is God’s pleasure that all shall be redeemed from sin and error.
For you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created. Rev. 4: 11. As I live says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Ezek. 18.: 23, 32. Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has 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.
God’s pleasure will be performed.
I will do all my pleasure. Isa. 46: 10. So shall my word be that goes 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. Isa. 55: 11. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his (Christ’s) hands. Isa. 53: 10
It is God’s purpose to save all.
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has 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: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will; that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ: in whom you also trusted after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph. 1: 9-14.
The phrase, “all things,” here employed, denotes
“The universe,” according to Professor Stuart, and Archbishop Newcome says the phrase means “all intelligent beings.” God, then, purposes to unite in one, all intelligent beings, that is “the whole purchased possession.” God’s purpose will be executed.
The Lord of Hosts has sworn, saying, surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed so shall it stand – for the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? And his hand is stretched out and who shall turn it back? Isa 19: 24-27. I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Isa. 46: 11. Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Tim. 1: 9.
If God had no purpose he would not be God. If a bad purpose he would not be a father. He had a good purpose. It embraces the moral universe. It will be fulfilled in the holiness and happiness of all mankind. It is sometimes said that the Divine will is defeated.
O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that killed the prophets, and stoned them which are sent unto you; how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. Matt. 23: 37, 38
But such critics do not read the next verse:
For I say unto you, you shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.
It was a postponement, but not a defeat, of the will of Christ. Thus God’s Will, Purpose and Pleasure are all invested in the work of universal redemption, and his will, purpose and pleasure
will be accomplished, for they will remain eternally the same, inasmuch as he is “without variableness or shadow of turning.” James 1: 17. God wills, and Christ wills universal salvation, the people shall be willing, and God’s will shall be done.
He has pledged his sacred promise to render all his offspring holy and happy. In the beginning he announced the temporal duration of sin, and the death of evil.
And I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel. Gen. 3: 15.
What is the serpent or man tempter?
Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. James 1: 14.
Satan and his works are the lusts of the flesh, and are to be destroyed.
For as much, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: and deliver them, who though fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb. 2: 14, 15. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3: 8.
This promise he renewed to the patriarchs and confirmed to the apostles.
In you shall all families of the earth be blessed. Gen. 12: 3. In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Gen. 22: 18. I will perform my oath which I swore unto Abraham your father, and I will make your seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and I will give unto your seed all these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Gen. 26: 3, 4. And in you, and in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Gen. 28: 14. You are the
children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in your seed shall all the 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. And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen, through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham saying, in you shall all nations be blessed. Gal. 3: 8. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, and to seeds as of many; but, as of one, and to your seed, which is Christ. Gal. 3: 16.
All the nations, families and kindreds of the earth are to be blessed with a gospel blessing, to consist in being turned away from iniquity, and the Universalist can plead the promise of God for his faith. “That anchor holds.”
He will fulfill his promise.
God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent. Has he said and shall he not do it? or has he spoken and shall he not make it good? Num. 23: 19. For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true but every man a liar. Rom. 3: 3, 4. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen. 2 Cor. 1: 20.
God has confirmed his promise by an oath. He has sworn to redeem all mankind from sin and error.
I have sworn by myself; the word has gone out of my mouth and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear surely shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Isa. 45: 23. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie we might have a
strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. Heb. 6: 16-20.
Thus we have God’s affidavit to plead in evidence of our faith.
Jesus is the appointed means to accomplish this end.
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work. John 4: 34. Your will be done, Matt. 6: 10, was his prayer. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. John 3: 17. We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4: 14. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12: 32.
God wills the salvation of all men.
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2: 4
The will of God shall be done.
He does 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 are you doing? Dan. 4: 35.
The will of God is law, alike in the spiritual as in the material world. It must ultimately be accomplished.
God purposes to save all men.
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has 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.
God’s purpose will be executed.
My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure. Isa. 46: 10.
God promises to save all men.
You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in your seed shall all the kindreds or the earth be blessed. Acts 3: 25.
God will fulfill his promises.
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God by us. 2 Cor. 1: 20.
God makes oath that he will save all men.
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. Isa. 45: 23-24.
And God will make good his oath.
Wherein, God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Heb. 6: 17, 18.
Jesus will accomplish the work he came to do.
He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. Isa. 53: 1. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him 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. Phil. 2: 9-11.
WHAT GOD WILLS, HE PURPOSES; WHAT HE PURPOSES, HE PROMISES; WHAT HE PROMISES HE MAKES OATH TO, SENDS HIS SON TO ACCOMPLISH, AND JESUS DOES ACCOMPLISH.
In this language addressed by Jesus to Nicodemus, (John 3: 7,) is the perpetual declaration of the Almighty Father to all who are un-regenerated, and it will continue to be uttered, as long as there is an un-regenerated soul. Usually it is understood as expressing what ought to be, but it also expresses what God has determined shall be – what must be will be. “You MUST be born again;” is prophetic of all human beings.
I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12: 32.
Here Jesus predicates universal salvation on his crucifixion. “If I am crucified,” he says, “I will ultimately attract all men unto myself.” For he said this (verse 33) to signify the mode of his death. The conditions have been complied with; he has been crucified. We must believe in the result announced, or we deny the declaration of Jesus himself.
If any man’s work shall be burned, be shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. 1 Cor. 3: 15.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 1 Cor. 4: 5.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God
of all comfort; who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Cor. 1: 3, 4.
What can the Christian say to those who mourn the death of unrepentant friends, that will comfort them – “those in any trouble” – except that they are still in the hands of Divine Grace, who will do for and by them better than their dearest friends can ask or think? Only the Universalist faith can comfort those in any trouble.
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5: l.
The apostle could not know this, unless it depended on God’s immutable purpose. If human weakness or sin could sacrifice it, then Paul could only hope or believe that he might have such a house. His certainty renders its existence absolute, and its inheritance sure.
Paul gives one grand definition of Christian faith: “It is the substance of things hoped for.” Heb. 11: 1. What partial view of God’s redeeming grace merits this description? What do all Christians ardently hope for, but the ultimate deliverance of all souls from the thraldom of sin?
The apostle Peter addressed the wickedest of human beings, those who committed the worst act ever perpetrated, the murder of the sinless Savior, as destined to salvation, after having received the just penalty of their sins. He said:
You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. Acts 2: 22, 23.
And when they were “pricked to the heart” he added:
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (vs. 38, 39).
It is not possible that the promise was to these men, and that they are to be saved, and any less wicked than they “lost.” Their deliverance insures the redemption of all. Hence Peter adds to the same wicked people:
You denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life. You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in your seed shall all the kindreds of the earth he 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: 14, 25.
The image of the invisible God. Col. 1: 15. The brightness of his glory and the express image of his person. Heb. 1: 3.
That is, in all his conduct, in every trait of his disposition, he was just like God, and did just what God would have done. How did he treat sinners? To the woman taken in adultery, he said, “Go, and sin no more. John 8: To Thomas, the skeptic,
who refused to credit his resurrection, he showed the evidence of that great fact in his hands, his feet, and his side. John 20. To Peter, denying with oaths and curses that he had ever known him, he looks with pity and grief, and the heart of the false disciple is melted. John 18. To Saul, hating him and persecuting his followers, he sends no stroke of doom to annihilate him, but the opening heavens are radiant with light as he arrests the cruel persecutor with the unanswerable question, “Saul, Saul, why persecute you me?” Acts 9: 4. For those who nailed him to the cross his last breath is a prayer that they may be forgiven for their unparalleled crime. Luke 23: 34. Was it the prayer of faith, and will that prayer be answered? Christ was the friend of sinners in this world; is he their friend now? Will he always be their friend? If not, is he the same yesterday, to-day, and forever? As God’s image he will always remain the loving friend of sinners, employing all possible means for their improvement and welfare. His whole life was in the same spirit. He invoked no vengeance, demanded no bloody sacrifice, either of the sinner or of a vicarious substitute, but pity, mildness, mercy and love went from him towards even the vilest of the vile. God must treat the skeptic, the profane, the cruel, the murderer, the wicked of every grade in the same manner, or the resemblance between image and original would be destroyed. Can God justify the resemblance to Christ, unless, though he punish, he continues to love, and employs all his infinite attributes, and all the ages of eternity if need be, in the blessed work of purifying and saving his children from the sins that alienate them from him? This was the work that always occupied
Jesus, that still occupies him as he sits at the right hand of the Father. As truly as Jesus is the image of God, the Father must always thus be employed, until the last exile from the home of the soul returns to allegiance, and duty, and heaven.
Paul hoped that the unjust would be raised. He said:
I have hope towards God that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. Acts 24: 15.
He must have believed that the resurrection of the unjust would be a moral as well as an existential anastasis. He might believe in it, if it were an unhappy fate, but he could not hope for it. Hope is compounded of desire and expectation. He therefore expected and desired the resurrection of the unjust. Only a demon could desire their rising if it were to a condition of endless torment. But Paul, whose heart always yearned for human happiness, tells us that the unjust will rise into an improved condition, a desirable and therefore good and happy existence, when he says he hopes for the resurrection of the just. Hoping for it he demonstrates that he believed it to be something desirable, a benefit to them.
The apostle Paul, in the first verse of the first chapter of his letter to the church in Rome, calls Christianity “The Glad Tidings of God.” gospel, (euaggelion). His writings show that he delighted to dwell on the universal grace and mercy of God. He announces it in scores of passages, found in this book, and asks concerning those who deny it:
What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief
make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. Rom. 3: 3. Believe what? That
The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Rom. 8: 21.
- Dr. Macknight says “Ktisis” (the creature in this passage) “signifies every human creature.” Prof. Stuart declares its meaning to be, as in Mark 16: 15, and Col. 1: 23, “mankind in general.”
2. It is subject to evil.
3. It has a hope of deliverance.
4. It shall be delivered.
5. Into the liberty of God’s angels, or children. Though not yet accomplished it is the province of Christian faith to believe in this result, and thus eat celestial fruit on earthly ground. Hence the same apostle says:
You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 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: 8, 9.
The subjection of all men to Christ is like that of Christ to God.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, (hupotagee) then shall the Son also himself be subject, (hupotageesetai), then to him that put all things under (hupotazanti) him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15: 28. For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery lest you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to
Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. Rom. 11: 25-27.
It is therefore a willing service, the love and homage of faithful and obedient children. All men are to be subject to Christ with the same subjection under which Christ is subject to God.
He will not always chide. Ps. 103: 9. He will not contend forever. Isa. 57: 16. He will not cast off forever. Lam. 3: 31. He will not retain his anger forever. Micah 7: 18.
He will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2: 4. He will swallow up death in victory, and wipe tears from off all faces. Isa. 25: 8. He will destroy the devil. Heb. 2: 14. He will destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3: 8. He will destroy man’s last enemy. 1 Cor. 15: 26. He will reconcile all things unto himself. Col. 1: 19, 20. He will finish sin, make an end of transgression, and bring in everlasting righteousness. Dan. 9: 24.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb. 2: 14, 15. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3: 8.
The Revelator saw the work accomplished.
Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. Rev. 20: 14.
This denotes their destruction. Paul declares:
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death. 1 Cor. 15: 26.
The words “that” and “is” are supplied by the translators. The passage as Paul wrote it is “The last enemy shall be destroyed, Death.” So whether we suppose he meant physical or moral death, it is to be destroyed, and all other enemies are to be destroyed previously. Death is the last. This is what caused the apostle to exclaim triumphantly:
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? 1 Cor. 15: 55.
There is no sting, no victory. Then there is no sin. “The sting of death is sin,” and Christ is victorious over sin and death, by accomplishing their destruction. These passages teach that Jesus became mortal to destroy man’s enemies, the devil, sin, and death, and that he succeeded in his great mission, leaving not an enemy of man in existence, when he had finished his work.
“O’er every foe victorious,
He on his throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious –
All blessing and all blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove,
His name shall stand forever
That name to us is Love.”
Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. Isa. 60: 21.
Who are his people?
You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people FROM THEIR SINS.” Matt. 1: 21.
His people are sinners, and as “all have sinned,
and come short of the glory of God,” all men are sinners, and all are “his people.” “All souls are his,” and though all have gone out of the way in sin, all are to return to willing obedience.
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. Isa. 45: 23, 24.
And that word shall be fulfilled:
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. Isa. 55: 11.
Hence we read:
I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. Ps. 2: 8. You has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17: 2, 3. 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. He gave himself a ransom for ALL. 1 Tim. 2: 6. He tasted death for every man. Heb. 2: 9.
Jesus foresaw and announced this when he said:
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, (crucified) will draw all men unto me. John 12: 32. All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6: 37
This explains the meaning of such passages as these:
All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you. Ps. 76: 9. Unto you shall all flesh come. Ps. 65: 2. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord. Ps. 22: 27. 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, says the Lord, and I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more. Jer. 31: 34. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. Col. 1: 19, 20.
Archbishop Newcome and Prof. Stuart say “all things” here mean “all intelligent beings.” Thus all souls are to he converted to God, and universal holiness will prevail.
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Rom 11: 36.
Can human language more fully state the sublime truth of God’s universal triumph over sin and death in briefer terms, than it is here declared? As truly as all souls came from God, and exist by him, they shall go to him. For it is of human beings that the great apostle is here speaking. Having reached the conclusion of universal salvation, what wonder that he said:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? Rom. 11: 33-35.
And then he closes with that grand epitome: Of Him, through Him, and to Him are all things.
O You whose power o’er moving worlds presides,
Whose voice created and whose wisdom guides,
On darkling man in pure effulgence shine,
And clear the clouded mind with light divine.
‘Tis Yours alone to calm the pious breast,
With silent confidence and holy rest;
From You alone we spring, to You we tend,
PATH, MOTIVE, GUIDE, ORIGINAL AND END!
What wonder that, on hearing this great truth for the first time,
The common people were astonished at this doctrine of the resurrection of all souls to holiness. They were familiar with the idea of annihilation, and of endless punishment, but universal salvation was new to them. No other news could have astonished them. “They were astonished at his doctrine.” Matt. 22: 33. Had he taught annihilation in this argument concerning the resurrection, he would not have astonished the Sadducees, had he taught endless punishment he would not have astonished the Pharisees and Pagans. But universal salvation astonished all because new to all. He taught the resurrection of all mankind to an equality with the angels.
I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I 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. – “whom to know is life eternal”- from the least to the greatest of them, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. Jer. 31: 33, 34. For all [the house of Israel] shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Heb. 8: 11. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Rom. 8: 21
Christ’s labors cancel Adam’s influence,
|Therefore 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|
|But where sin abounded,||grace did much more abound. Rom. 5: 20|
|As sin has reigned unto death||even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom. 5: 21
|As in Adam all die||even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Cor. 15: 22
|For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,||
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Rom. 5: 19
1. All mankind are to be made alive.
2. They are to live “in Christ.”
3. They are therefore to be new creatures, for “if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.”
2 Cor. 5: 17.
4. They wear the heavenly image.
5. Grace reigns wherever sin has borne sway.
6. The exact number “made sinners,” namely, all men, are “made righteous.”
A belief in universal salvation exerts a good moral influence.
For the grace of God that brings salvation to all men has appeared teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. Titus 2: 11, 12.
This is the true reading. God’s grace has not appeared to all men, but it brings salvation to all.
The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isa. 25: 8.
Can there be a hell full of agony and woe? Must not heaven, then, be universal?
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindred’s of the nations shall worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is the governor among the nations. Psalms 22: 27, 28. All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him, all men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Psalm 72: 11, 17. All nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. Psalm 86: 9. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. Isa. 40: 5.
When all the ends of the world turn to God and worship, then will be universal obedience.
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 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: 1, 2.
Have the sins of the whole world been propitiated? If so, can payment be asked again? Christ has done for all what he has done for any. The fate of each, so far as Christ is concerned, must be the fate of all.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. Rev. 14: 13.
Not the belief; the faith, or the moral and spiritual condition of the last moments of life is here alluded to, but the works. That is, the works of the spirit. These are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Gal. 5: 22, 23. These follow the spirit into the other world. The Bible does not teach that the works of the flesh follow the dead. These are adultery, fornication, uncleanliness, lasciviousness, idolitry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like. Gal. 5: 19-21. These perish at the death of the body:
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me, I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present within me. For I delight in the law of God, after the inward man: but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. 7: 18-24.
This explains Paul words:
For he that sows to the flesh shall of the flesh (not of the spirit) reap corruption. Gal. 6: 8.
The works of the flesh perish with the flesh, but the works of the spirit survive with the spirit. All that is worthless dies.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall he revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any
man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. 1 Cor. 3: 13-15.
For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of
God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5: 1.
Did the reader ever reflect that the apostle could not say “we know” that we have eternal mansion, if its acquisition depended on man’s efforts, or if any possible act of his could forfeit it? He might hope for it, but it would not be certain. His certainty demonstrates that the title rests not on man’s conduct, which might forfeit it, but on God’s absolute purpose. Every Christian can say “we know;” because God in his house of many mansions has reserved one tenement for each immortal tenant, and at some time in the far future each son and daughter of God will find and occupy his predestined home. We can only read our title clear, and say with Paul “WE KNOW,” when we feel that we can neither earn nor forfeit that title, but that our occupancy depends on one whose purpose cannot fail.
Sin is the abominable thing that his soul hates. He could not, therefore, so stultify himself as to build an eternal hell, and perpetuate sin. But he loves the sinner. He will, therefore, destroy the sinner’s foes, all his enemies, even the last. –
The last enemy shall be destroyed, death. 1 Cor 15: 26.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him,
then shall the son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15: 28.
When he is all in all can the devil be in any?
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all. Eph. 1: 19-23.
God’s glory can only be promoted by the salvation of all his children. Good music glorifies the musician, good machinery the machinist, a good farm the farmer, good children a father. Success glorifies, and defeat shames. God designs a holy race. He can only be glorified by universal holiness. Hence he says: “Who so offers praise glorifies me.” Ps. l: 23. And the “honor and the power and the glory” can only belong to him when his efforts to redeem all shall issue in the redemption of all.
Every soul is under perpetual obligations to regard God as his personal Savior. Then the doctrine must be true. God must be the final personal Savior of all, or those of whom he is not the Savior are commanded to believe a lie, but because he is, those who do not believe make God a liar, by their unbelief.
He that believes not God has made him a liar, because he believes not the record that God
gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God has given us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5: 10, 11.
That is the divine plan, and all the means have been adopted to insure success. In the Divine mind the future is the present, what is to be, is. Thus God is the Savior of all men. This was
It was for preaching Universal Salvation. He says:
For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men especially of those that believe. 1 Tim. 4: 10.
Paul does not claim that he was persecuted for teaching that God had made it possible for all to be saved, but for declaring that God is actually the Savior of all men. Had he inculcated the Methodist or Presbyterian scheme of partial salvation, he would have agreed, substantially, with the heathen and the Jews. They believed in a partial God who would save but a part. Had the apostles taught only that, they would not have been reproached. But believing in the salvation of all, they were persecuted. Had they been partialists as were the Jews and the heathen would they have been persecuted for teaching that God is the universal Savior? Can God be the Savior of those he does not save? If any one is lost, is God the Savior of all men? Is he in any sense the Savior of unbelievers? He is not the especial Savior of believers, unless he is the actual Savior of all. Paul suffered reproach for no other reason than for teaching that God is a universal Savior.
All will confess righteousness:
Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, surely shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Isa. 45: 24.
This confesses the Lordship of Jesus.
Wherefore God also has highly exalted him and given him 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. Phil 2: 9-11.
This is not compelled, but voluntary.
No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 12: 3.
Hence, the attractions of the cross will win the loving allegiance of all souls, at the last.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12: 32.
This condition is now fulfilled, he has been crucified, the conclusion follows in due time.
Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule and all authority, and power. For he must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he has put all things under his feet. But when he says all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Cor. 15: 24-28.
The apostle describes the “far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves,” thus:
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Heb. 8: 10-12.
And the Apocalyptic seer saw all men happy when he beheld the final consummation:
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 sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Rev. 5: 13. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, 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. And 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: 2-4.
We have thus indicated the chief passages that teach the doctrine of universal salvation. We have not quoted all of them, nor have we quoted that spirit which is without measure, and which can not be reduced to chapter and verse, which pervades the Bible – the divine aroma that sweetens and perfumes the Book of books. The love and character of God, and the life and spirit of Christ are forever at war with the idea of endless hate and ceaseless torment, and breathe that holy spirit that will have nothing less than universal reconciliation to God, universal holiness among men. The few passages we have quoted unmistakably teach the great truth inculcated by all God’s attributes, and that was the vital breath of him who came to do God’s will among men, and who successfully accomplished his great mission, in reconciling universal humanity to its God and Father. When God’s plans shall have been completed,
Then the end, beneath his rod
Man’s last enemy shall fall;
Hallelujah! Christ in God,
God in Christ is ALL IN ALL.