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be given him." Rom. ii. 6, 9. "Who will render to every man according to his deeds. Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil." vi. 23. "For the wages of sin is death." Ezek. xviii. 4. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." 2 Cor. v. 10. "For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." But I need not multiply quotations to prove a proposition, which is admitted by all to be true.
The question that arises in my mind from the two foregoing propositions, and which I find great difficulty in solving, is this: How can we reconcile those two principles with each other, and with the justice and goodness of God? It is a self-evident proposition, that no two truths can directly contradict each other, or, in other words, that no two propositions, which are diametrically opposed to each other, can both be true; and yet we find that both of the principles above stated, appear to be plainly and unequivocally taught in the scriptures. It is a known fact, that the Christian world is divided between those two principles; one part believing that "God fore ordained whatsoever comes to pass ;" and the other, that all things (so far at least, as respects human actions) are contingent, or depending wholly on the will of the creature; and writers of great learning and abilities have not been wanting, as advocates on both sides of the question. Hence it is evident, that there is (as it respects the principles of the christian world) an apparent contradiction in the two propositions above stated; and the following questions naturally arise. 1st. Are each of those propositions true, and plainly revealed in the scriptures? 2d. If both be true, are they opposed, or contradictory to each other? 3d. If both be true, and unopposed to each other, are they, or either of them in opposition to the
principles of strict justice, or the goodness of our heavenly Father? A satisfactory answer to the foregoing questions will, I think, have a tendency to throw light on divine revelation, and dispel from the minds of many sincere inquirers after truth, the clouds of darkness in which they are now enveloped.
This communication is not intended for the purpose of commencing a controversy, for the sake of argument; but to elicit from you, or some of your correspondents, a calm and dispassionate discussion of the subject, that "the ways of God to man" may be vindicated, and the character of our Father in heaven be cleared from the aspersions which are cast upon it, by many of the creeds and traditions of men. ARISTIDES.
For the Christian Repository.
Sir. If you think the following lines will subserve the interest of liberal principles, by being made known to the world in a more public manner, you will much oblige your brother and brethren in this section of the country, by giving them an insertion in your religious publication.
ABEL ABBOT, Jun. THE SPIRIT AND CAVILS OF FREE-WILL LIMITARIANISM IN EAST HATLEY, LOWER CANADA.
June 12, 1825, I attended public worship with the free-will people in this place. Soon after the commencement of the meeting, a young brother from Stanstead, by the name of Abel Moulton, came in, and being invited into the speaker's stand, he soon began to -speak, and to read as the foundation of his discourse, the following passage of scripture. "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.” 1 Pet. i. 24. While Mr. M. spoke from these words, he appeared to be very zealous, and gave us some very good discourse. But his zeal for his tenets caused him
to digress several times from his 'subject. He set up the doctrine of God's impartial goodness as the mark for his bow; but as near as I could judge, his fires did no great execution. He stated that if all men are to be saved, then a great part of the bible is without any meaning, for it abounds with exhortations for men to be holy. After the meeting was dismissed for the forenoon, as I walked from my seat to the door, a brother gave me his hand, and said he was glad to see me at meeting. I asked him, why? He said, that I might get good. This caused me to stop and have a little conversation with him and several of the other brethren. Soon the young minister came up and united in our conference. He said, that he wished to know whether I believed in the salvation of all men. I told him I believed that God was the Savior of all men, and that it was the will of Jehovah that all men should be saved from the power of sin and death. And I further stated, that I believed that Christ came into this world to do his father's will, and that the pleasure of the Lord would prosper in his hands. Do you not believe this? said I. Yes, said the minister. Then why did you say in your discourse, "If this doctrine be true, much of this book, (the bible) is without meaning." To this question, the brethren gave answer for their minister, and said, that Christ was not the Savior of unbelievers till they believed. I then proposed this question: Why do you exhort unbelievers to believe in Christ as their Savior, if he be not their Savior? The answer that I received was, that he might become their Savior. Then I observed to them; Brethren, if I understand your meaning, you exhort men to believe a lie, that faith in that lie may become a saving truth. But it appears to me quite otherwise, that the children of men are damned for not believing the truth. We should remember that believ ing of the truth never makes it more true, nor will the
disbelieving of the truth convert it into a lie, even tho we should remain in unbelief till we die.
The minister then observed to me and said, It appears you hold to repentance and salvation after death, which is very contrary to the scriptures of divine truth. I replied by observing that we read that Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison, and that the design of his preaching must be to save those prisoners. St. Peter says, "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. iv. 6. After I quoted this passage of scripture, several of the people said that Christ did not preach to the spirits in prison in his own person, but it was Noah that preached to the inhabitants of the old world by the spirit of Christ.
Br. Moulton then asked me how long it would be before those that die in unbelief, would believe, or whether there was any thing in the bible to prove they would ever believe. I told him, as to the exact number of years, neither I, nor any other mortal, at present, could know ; but that the scriptures abundantly prove that the time will come, "in the dispensation of the fullness of times," when God will gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." Br. M. said he wished to see the passage which I had quoted, and to examine every little word, as that might alter the sense. So I then read to him, Ephesians, 1st chap. 9, 10; also, Eph. 2d chap. 7-10, in which the doctrine of the final restoration is most plainly revealed. Br. M. said that the passage did not say that all mankind should be gathered into Christ, and as the little word to was lacking, it did not signify that the human family should be brought to have faith in Christ. I then read Eph. 1st chap. 11th verse, observing to the minister, that according to his rule of
interpretation, the apostles had obtained an inheritance in Christ, without faith in him, as the little word to was lacking. At this moment a great number of the brethren commenced singing, the conference ended, and I went away for the present.
As is customary in most meetings, prayer and singing commenced the service, after which, Brother Japhat Laban mentioned the circumstance of the famine in Egypt, and the manner in which the people came to Joseph to buy food, and applied it to christian experience, stating that hunger would drive one man to be the servant of another. But he stated that mankind would not become servants of Christ so long as they could obtain food otherwise. He also observed, that if the people had not come to Joseph, they must have staryed and perished;-which was all very well. Here closed the remarks of Br. Laban. After he had sat down, and silence reigned through the assembly for a little season, there was liberty given for any one to speak. I arose and observed that I wished to make a few observations and read a few passages of scripture.
At this moment, a brother Atwood fetched a hollow groan, and said, Look to God, brethren, and hold your strength. (Meaning, as I suppose, that the reading of that scripture which I should select, would militate against their faith.) I now observed that I agreed with Br. Laban's observations, and inquired if it were not reasonable to believe that pinching hunger will cause all men to come to Christ, and find in him that food which will satisfy the thirst of an immortal mind. Christ says, "And I, if be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men after me." John xii. 32. I next proceeded to make some observations on the common idea of this life's being the only state of probation, and noticed that I never heard of but two or three passages of scrip