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I admit Mr. W.'s distinction, and believe that Jesus Christ will subdue all things unto himself; but how does the universal restoration follow ? When a sovereign has subdued his rebellious subjects, are we to understand by it, that all of them are restored to favour, and that not one of them can be suffering in an exemplary manner ? The connexion of 1 Cor. xv. 28. will show, that by All things shall be subdued unto Him, is not meant, All things shall be restored by Him; for in ver. 25 we read, must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” This then is included in all things being subdued unto Him. But there would be as much propriety in supposing, that when a criminal, with a rope about his neck, is brought to the gallows, that he will certainly be restored to civil society, as to suppose, that when an enemy is under the feet of a conqueror, he must be restored to favour. The apostle here undoubtedly alludes to the custom of conquerors treading upon the necks of their enemies. The captains of Joshua put their feet upon the necks of the five kings whom they had subdued; but this was preparatory to their destruction, not to their restoration. See Jos. X. 24–26.
Mr. W. seems to lay much stress upon the words “ That God may be all in all.” It must be remembered, however, that it is said Christ now"filleth all in all," Ephes. i. 23. and again, it is written, “ Christ is all, and in all," Colos. iii. 11. Both these texts are in the present tense. And if Christ be now all in all, and yet many are now in misery, then the sovereignty may be transferred into the hands of the Father, that He may be all in all, and yet many may still remain miserable.
Rom. viii. 21, 22. is cited to prove that all things shall be subdued to Christ; but it speaks of deliverance, not subjection. Some have thought that this passage relates to deliverance out of hell; but a little reflection will convince any unbiassed mind that the apostle refers to the irrational creation. For,
1. He says, “ The creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly.” Now the rational creation was made subject to vanity, or trouble, willingly; for the sin of our first parents was certainly wilful. If it be objected that their posterity are subjected to trouble not willingly, I answer, that the apostle, by the word was, evidently refers to the period when vanity was first introduced into the creation ; and it can be true of the irrational creation only that, at that time, it “ was made subject to vanity, not willingly.”
2. The apostle observes, that " The whole creation “groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," And what are they groaning and travailing for? To "be. “ delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the “glorious liberty of the children of God.” This is true of the irrational creation. But no one pretends that the whole of men and devils had groaned and travailed until the apostle's time, to enjoy " the glorious liberty of the " children of God.”
3. Rational creatures in this passage are distinguished from the creation. “ For the earnest expectation of the
creature (795 XTITEWS, creation) waiteth for the manifesta“ tion of the sons of God. Because the creature (creation) " itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption “ into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For
we know that the whole creation groaneth, and tra“ vaileth in pain together until now : and not only they, 6 but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the
4. The time of this deliverance is unfavourable to the restoration out of hell. The creation is waiting for, and earnestly expecting the manifestation of the sons of God: when this event shall take place, therefore, their sufferings will terminate. Now the sons of God will be manifested in that day when I (Jehovah) make up my jewels. “ Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous " and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and
“ him that serveth him not.” Mal. iii. 17, 18. The wicked will be existing then, as distinguished from the righteous ; which could not be, were an universal restoration to take place at that time. The groaning of the rational creation is not for the redemption of their souls out of hell, but for “ the redemption of their bodies" from the grave; which happy event will precede the judgment and punishment of the ungodly.
• If it be observed,” says Mr. Vidler, “ that putting os under the feet of Christ is not expressive of grace, but “ of wrath, we answer, This is a Hebrew mode of “ speech, and evidently expressive of grace, for the tem“ ple itself, as typical of the church, is called God's foot"s stool.” 1 Chron. xxviii. 2.* In 1 Cor. xv. 25. to which passage Mr. V. I presume, alludes, we read, “ For “ He must reign till he hatb put all enemies under bis “ feet.” All men being put under the feet of Christ, is expressive of his authority over them ; but the way in which his authority will be exercised, must be gathered from their moral characters. The gracious exercise of his authority over the church is inferred from the covepant relation in which he stands to it, as a holy church, and not from the circumstance of its being under his feet. But in the text under consideration, the apostle is not speaking of the church, but of enemies; and it surely requires a vast stretch of imagination to suppose, that when enemies are under the feet of a victor, their situation is expressive of grace. It is impossible to attach such an idea to Joshua x. 24-26. 1 Sam. xvii. 51. Isa. lxiii. 3.
Mr. V. proceeds, “If it be said that to be subdued to “ Christ is expressive of wrath, we then observe, that “ whatever method may be used to subdue sinners, yet “their being subdued implies a state of grace and favour, " for we are exhorted to be subject to the Father of “whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. “ And even our Lord, when he shall have subdued all " things unto himself, will then be subject to the Fa“ ther."*
spirits, and live. And the bodies of the saints will be " changed at Christ's second coming, by that power
* God's Love, pp. 27, 28.
The remarks made above contain a sufficient reply to this paragraph. It is really astonishing that a sensible man should talk at this rate. The saints are assured that if they continue in a state of subjection to the Father they shall live; therefore all conquered enemies must reap life everlasting! The bodies of the saints will be raised by the power of Christ; therefore all subdued enemies must be raised to glory! Jesus Christ will be subject to the Father; therefore all destroyed enemies must be restored! Who does not feel the force of this cogent reasoning?
When Mr. V.'s hand was in this work, it is a wonder he did not attempt to prove, from Luke x. 17. that the devils are already restored. 6 And the seventy returned again “ with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto “ us through thy name.” He might have argued thus : The words are in the present tense ; and “ we observe, " that whatever method may have been used to subdue " them, yet their being subdued, implies a state of grace " and favour, for we are exhorted,” &c.
Messrs. Winchester and Weaver, to show that future sufferings are intended to subdue and purge sinners, lay considerable stress upon Isa. xxii. 14. “ shall not be purged from you till ye die.” When Job affirms, “ Till I die I will not remove mine integrity "" from me,” he certainly meant that he would never remove his integrity from him; and by parity of reason, the prophet meant, that the iniquity should never be purged away. Thus we see the weapons of our adversaries are turned against themselves.
" This iniquity
* God's Love, p. 28.
Of Sin in Hell. SOME of the advocates for endless punishment have asserted, that the inhabitants of hell will be signing continually, by which means the quantity of their guilt will be continually increasing ! the longer, therefore, they remain in hell, the further they will be from suffering what their sins deserve : their punishment, consequently, must be eternal. To this it has been replied, that the Scriptures nowhere speak of punishment for any deeds except those done in the body, and to attempt to justify eternal punishment on the ground of sinning in hell, is to admit that it would be unjust, if inflicted for the crimes committed in this world. This is Mr. Wright's argument.* But Mr. Vidler affirms, " A rational creature cannot be witbout “ law, either in heaven, earth, or hell.”+ If Mr. W.'s sentiment be adopted by the Universalists, Mr. V.'s must be rejected. For if the inhabitants of hell be under law, they must have moral liberty ; if they have liberty, the law may be broken : and if the law be broken, the transgressor ought to suffer for it.
The Scriptures represent punishment as being proportioned to deeds done in the body, and are entirely silent about laws by wbich the inhabitants of hell are to regulate their conduct. They may be incapable of moral obedience through the loss of moral liberty. That moral liberty may be lost, through the strength of sinful habits, I presume none will deny; and that God is obliged to restore it as often as a creature is pleased to destroy it, I think an inhabitant of hell has scarcely temerity enough to assert; and to say, that the obligation to obey remains after the power to obey is lost, is to say, in other words, that an impossibility ought to be done, which is an absur. dity.
* Examination of Ryland's Sermon, p. 49. * Winchester's Dial. Note, p. 77.