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After giving his brethren instructions relating to their duty to their fellow men and their relatives, he addresses them with respect to one another, as professed Christians.
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise, blessing: knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew (or avoid) evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open. to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be the followers of that which is good?"
Peter then exhorts them to sanctify or glorify the Lord God in their hearts; and, said he, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
In giving reasons for our hope, it is proper that we first give the reason of our hope in the peculiar doctrine which distinguishes us
from all other Christian sects: namely, the reason why we do not believe in endless sin and misery; but in the final holiness and happiness of all mankind. And
1. We do not believe in endless sin and misery, because it is contrary to the goodness and kindness of God.
The goodness of God must necessarily, aim at the happiness of the universe. The greatest good, or happiness of the intelligent system is the only object worthy an infinite God. The most orthodox support the sentiment, that the glory of God is the highest object in creating the universe; and to display all his perfections, in securing the greatest sum of happiness among his creatures, is the glory of God. But if a part of God's creatures are endlessly wicked and miserable, God cannot be good and kind in creating them. Their existence is a curse, and not a blessing. To suppose that heaven is happier on account of an endless hell, is the same absurd supposition, as to suppose that any human body is happier on account of the sufferings of one of its members. We read and know by experience, concerning the human body, that if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. So in the family
of man. No one can be always happier, because others are miserable. It is not inconsistent with the divine goodness, to cause a partial evil to exist for a time, to secure the universal good. The most savage spirit grows sick at never ending wretchedness. The savage may torment for a time, to gratif some revengeful disposition; but even revenge itself, would not torment always. Allowing wicked men to be destitute of every thing that is lovely, and altogether hateful; this very circumstance proves that divine goodness and kindness must oppose their endless existence. God has cut off hundreds of generations of wicked men from the earth; and in most, if not in every instance, it was because they had filled up the measure of their iniquity, by their great abominations. And was God so opposed to their sins that he would take them away from the earth, and will he uphold them in existence, to sin eternally against him?
Those divines who believe in the divine purposes, admit that God will overrule all evil for good. This supposes that God's people, the saints, will be happier on account of the misery of the wicked; for no one can suppose that the wicked will them
selves be happier for endless misery. Hence, if God is good and kind, he can no more make a part of his creatures miserable, to promote the happiness of others, than he can make all his creatures endlessly miserable, and still be infinitely good and kind.
2. We do not believe in endless sin and misery, because it is contrary to the desires of all benevolent beings. Sin and misery are painful subjects for the benevolent mind to contemplate. All good men in every age of the world have deplored their existence in the earth. Their humanity and piety have been wounded and grieved by the wickedness and wretchedness, which they have witnessed among their fellow men. It has been the desire and prayer of all good men, to be delivered themselves and to have others delivered from the power and dominion of sin. And will good men be so changed in another world, that they shall be happier for the existence of sin and misery among God's creatures to all eternity? No! the goodness and kindness of men, are like the goodness and kindness of God. Had men the wisdom and power of God, their benevolent hearts would lead them to find out a way to subdue the wicked, and make them obedient and
happy. Who can doubt the wisdom and power of God? The goodness of God, and the benevolence of man lead them to desire the holiness and happiness of mankind. If God's wisdom and power are equal to his goodness, what can hinder the salvation of the whole human family? Why do Christiaus pray God to convert sinners, if they believe he is not able to convert them? It therefore is denying the perfections of God, and the benevolence of man to admit that any of God's creatures will be always wicked and miserable.
3. We hope that all men will be made finally, holy and happy, because God says, in his word, that he desires it.
We read that God loved mankind when they were ungodly, sinners, and enemies. Now if God is unchangeable, will he not always love them? Will not love always seek the welfare of the object loved. “Love worketh no ill to its neighbor." Nor to an enemy. We are required by Christ, to love our enemies as he loved his enemies, and as God our Heavenly Father loved the world. Hence we read, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the. wicked, but rather that he turn and live "