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7 and 8. In the next chapter, [xvi.] we read of the manner in which these seven angels poured out the seven "last plagues ;" and a slight examination will show, that they were all poured out upon the earth. "And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God UPON THE EARTH. "" The first vial was poured out upon the earth, meaning the land, verse 2. The second was poured out upon the sea, verse 3. The third was poured out upon the rivers and fountains of water, verse 4. "The fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun,' verses 8, 9. "The fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast," verses 10, 11. "The sixth angel poured his vial upon the great river Euphrates," verses 12-16. "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air," verses 17 – 21. These were the seven angels having the seven last plagues, and this was the manner in which the seven last plagues were poured out.
Now when it is said, "if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book," what other plagues can be referred to than those which are enumerated above? And is it not evident, that those plagues have no reference to the immortal existence ?
In the interpretation we have given of this subject, we are confirmed by two of the best critics. Hammond paraphrases the two verses as follows:
"As for all those to whom this prophecy will come, I conjure them all, that they change not a tittle of it, and withal, that they look upon it as the last authoritative prophecy that is likely to come from heaven, to be a rule of faith to the church. What is here said, is decreed and settled immutable; no man shall be able to avert it; and whosoever shall go about to infuse any other expectations into men than what are agreeable to these visions, God shall bring on him the judgments that are here denounced against God's greatest enemies. And so in like manner, whosoever shall derogate any
thing from the authority of this prophecy, or take out any part of it, or occasion men's not receiving the admonition of Christ here contained, in every part thereof, God shall cast him off, throw him out of the church, account him incapable of all the blessings, which are here promised to the faithful Christians."
The learned Grotius, in his "Annotations," speaks as follows:
"God shall add unto him the plagues: by the plagues are to be understood, as well those in chapter vii. ix. x. and xi., as those in chapter xvi. xvii. and xviii.; of which one portion relates to the Jews, and the other to the Roman empire.
"And out of the holy city: he shall not be a member of the church, but shall be cast out, as one making a lie."
To conclude, let me observe, that the 20th verse shows, that the punishments denounced in the 18th and 19th verses were of speedy accomplishment. "He which testifieth these things saith, surely, I come quickly; Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus."
POPULAR OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED.
I. WE propose to notice in this chapter, the most common objections to Universalism. A series which appeared in a highly respectable Orthodox periodical in Boston, a few years since, will be made the basis of this chapter. We prefer this method, that the objections may appear in the language of the objector, and thereby be given in their full force.
II. "Universalism is contrary to the dictates of common prudence. Prudence says, Always take the safe side of a question. But it is not safe to adopt Universalism; for if it be not true, and it may not be, then, trusting to it, I shall lose my soul. Whereas, if it be true, and I adopt the contrary belief, I am nevertheless safe."
This is the old argument, which has been answered time after time. It is to be presumed, that partialists never read the writings of Universalists; for, in that case, they would be unwilling to bring forward an argument which has been fairly and repeatedly refuted. The argument before us, is based on the safety of believing in endless misery. The believer in endless misery, it is thought, suffers no disadvantage, and is exposed to no danger; for if Universalism is true, he is as safe as anybody else; but if the doctrine of endless misery be true, what will become of the Universalist? The question, then, with the partialist is not, which doctrine is best sustained by evidence, but which is it safest to believe? We say, it is the safest to believe the truth; and the primary question, before which every other dwindles into nothing, is this, which of these doctrines is true? We will, however, waive the primary question, and inquire which it is the safest to believe? But is there not something unphilosophical in this question? A man's belief is here represented as something he can manage at his pleasure; it is supposed he can believe any thing or every thing; and if he thinks that it is safer to believe one thing than another, he will believe it. We see nothing here like reason or good sense. A man's belief is governed by evidence; and whether it is safe to believe a proposition, can have no influence at all on him in forming his religious opinions. The argument, then, under consideration is an unphilosophical one, that no man, in the exercise of good sense, would bring forward.
If the doctrine of endless misery should at last prove true, (God forgive the supposition,) we see no reason why the believer in that doctrine would not as likely be lost, as the sincere Universalist. It certainly cannot excite anger in God for men to believe Him better than he really is; and how it will recommend a man to God's favor to attribute to Him the disposition of a demon, we have no means of knowing. As to this life, the believer of Universalism has the advantage
over every man in the world. He is filled with joy and peace in believing. Death, to him, is the passport, not to eternal nothingness, nor eternal torture, but to immortality and incorruption. Whereas, a man who believes in the orthodox doctrines of the day, if he have the common feelings of humanity, must find his bosom wrung with the keenest anguish.
The primary question with the Universalist is, what has God revealed in his word? To this standard we bow implicitly. The true sense of this book is the only true orthodoxy we know of. If our opponents will convince us, by arguments drawn from this book, that their doctrines are true, we shall feel ourselves compelled to receive them; but, until they do, they may rest satisfied, we shall be obliged to retain our present opinions.
III. "If I become a Universalist, I must reject the evidence arising from the general apprehensions of the Christian world; and that, too, when it should have the greatest possible weight in every candid mind. With comparatively few exceptions, the inhabitants of Christendom have, for eighteen hundred years, embraced the doctrine of a future and eternal punishment; and all this time the strongest feelings of the natural heart have been enlisted against it. So that it is next to a miracle, that the Christian world should, for so many ages, embrace the doctrine of future punishment, and reject that of universal salvation, had not the doctrine of universal salvation been most evidently false, and that of future punishment most evidently true.'"
Is this argument sound? Is the believer in endless misery satisfied with it? The Pope's supremacy has been as generally acknowledged, as the doctrine of endless misery ever was. Will the man who penned the above argument, accede to the Pope's claims? Will he say, with comparatively few exceptions, the inhabitants of Christendom have, for eighteen hundred years, embraced the doctrine of the Pope's supremacy, and transubstantiation, and all this time the strongest feelings of the natural heart have been enlisted against it. So that it is next to a miracle, that the Christian
world should, for so many ages, embrace this doctrine of the Pope's supremacy, and reject the contrary, had not the contrary been most evidently false, and that of the Pope's supremacy true," will he say this? No, he will not. Then he himself acknowledges that his argument is good for nothing. If he will go into China, or any other heathen land, he may use the same argument in defence of idolatry; at Constantinople, the same, in principle, may be set up in defence of Mahometanism. That the doctrine of endless misery was held, without exception, in the dark ages of the church, is no argument in its favor. The Universalist alleges, and is able to prove, that the doctrine he holds, was taught by Christ and his apostles, and by some of the most eminent Christian Fathers immediately succeeding the apostles; that it was not for two or three centuries, that the doctrine of endless misery was unquestionably declared; that the two contrary sentiments existed in the church for a long time, without being made a matter of reproach on either hand; and that, when the doctrine of Universalism was first condemned, it was done by wicked men, whose hearts were filled with enmity against those who held that doctrine, and who were plotting their destruction. Of these very important facts there is the fullest evidence. For additional information on the subject, we refer the reader to the first chapter of this work.
IV. 66 Adopting the sentiments of Universalism, I cannot account for that deep solicitude which Christ and his apostles manifested for the salvation of immortal souls. That they were deeply solicitous for the salvation of their hearers, admits not of doubt or dispute. But why should they have been so, if all were sure of heaven?"
This is mere sophistry. That Christ and his apostles were solicitous for the salvation of their hearers, and of all mankind, the Universalist has no desire to dispute; but it belongs to the partialist to prove, that they were solicitous to save men from eternal hell torments in the future state. Now the truth is, we do not