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Thus did Christianity, without the aid of civil power, and in opposition to the deep rooted prejudices of Jews and Gentiles, overcome the united power of the Roman empire, which exerted every nerve to extirpate it from the world. This fact furnishes us with a cogent argument in favor of the truth of the gospel. For we find that it triumphed over all the learning and power of the empire of Rome, in an age when the facts set forth in the gospel were recent, and the opposers had every opportunity to expose the fraud, if any had existed.
For the Repository.
CRITICISM ON MATTHEW xvi. 13.
I have often thought that the expression, "Whom do men say, that I, the Son of man, am ?" appears in rather an awkward form. It seems to propose a question, and to answer it at the same time; and in a way which appears to leave but little room for an answer from those to whom the question was directed. If Christ meant to inquire after the common report concerning himself, why did he put in that declaratory phrase, that expressly names him to be "the Son of man ?" This difficulty entirely vanishes by altering a single point, and resolving the one question into two. That we have a right so to do, is evident from the consideration of historic information, that the writings of the New Testament were first penned without points or accents, as now appear in the original Greek text. Admitting, then, we have this liberty, by changing a comma into an interrogation point, we have two questions in immediate connexion, the latter defining the particular object of the former. In this way the passage reads, "Whom do men say that I am? the Son of man ?" or, by supplying in the latter
question, "Do they say that I am the Son of man?" The reader may be disposed to say, we do more than alter a single point; we transpose the words. In reply, we observe, the remark respects the English translation only, and is not true of the original. The learned reader will notice that we only put an interrogation point for a comma, to make the different reading which we have pointed out. The writer of this article is ready to confess that he has not found these remarks supported by any translator or commentator that has come to his knowledge, except in relation to the first state of the original text. He is aware, that he may be considered fanciful, by some; but the remarks, such as they are, are humbly submitted; and they are such as induces him to think, they afford a warrantable, and, at least, more than probable, a true reading of the sacred passage. S. C. L.
For the Repository.
TO MR. ITHAMAR SMITH.
SIR-After the publication of your last reply to Mr. Loveland and myself, in the Repository for April last, the editor informed me that in a letter to him, you had -expressed a willingness to oppose the doctrine of Universal Salvation on scripture grounds, provided any believer in the doctrine would attempt to support it on the same grounds. It was my intention, at that time, immediately to have written in defence of the doctrine; but unavoidable circumstances, such as the sickness of myself and family, and the multiplicity and importance of my ministerial duties, have until now prevented me. I had also intended to have made some remarks in reply to your last communication; but as the discussion, if continued, is to be continued on different principles
from those on which it has hitherto been conducted, I shall merely observe at this time, that your "conclusion," (viz. "that Universalism is not the doctrine of the Apostles,") which you appear to think is "established with the strength of a three-fold cord," does not appear to me to have grown out of what has been written by us on the subject; and I know of no other method of ascertaining what was the "doctrine of the Apostles," than by a direct appeal to the Scriptures.
From the apparent candor which characterizes your former communications, I trust, Sir, that the present discussion will be conducted with that spirit which the importance of the subject demands; that the attainment of truth, and that alone, will be our object, and that neither of us will be actuated by the desire of displaying to the public our talents as polemical writers.
The question for discussion, (if I rightly understand the subject,) is the following, Is the doctrine of the final salvation of all mankind a scripture doctrine? It is of the utmost importance, in all controversies, that the subject in dispute be brought fairly and fully into view, that neither of the parties may be ignorant of the sentiment which he is to advocate or oppose; and as I am convinced that many, who are honestly and conscienciously opposed to the doctrine of universal reconciliation, are almost entirely ignorant of our real sentiments, I consider it my duty at this time clearly to state my views of the nature of the salvation of the gospel, which salvation, I firmly believe, will be co-extensive with the intelligent creation.
In explaining my views with respect to the nature of salvation, I shall, in the first place, show negatively what I do not believe on this subject, together with my reasons for the opinions which I have adopted.
1. I do not believe that the salvation of the gospel consists in a deliverance of the creature man from end
less condemnation and misery; because, in the scriptures I do not find such punishment denounced against man; and it is a manifest impropriety to say, that man can be saved from a punishment with which he never was threatened. Neither can I find, by a careful examination of the Scriptures, that a law was ever given to man, which denounced endless punishment as a penalty. 2. I do not believe that salvation consists in a deliverance of mankind from the demands of divine justice; because, I consider justice a divine attribute, and firmly believe that it will finally obtain all its demands. And as I conceive that all the attributes of God must eternally harmonize together, I cannot believe that his justice is diametrically opposed to his mercy.
3. I do not believe in a salvation which delivers man from the punishment which he deserves for his sins. This sentiment I consider not only immoral and licencious in its tendency, but also entirely without foundation in the Scriptures of divine truth. On the contrary, it is clearly revealed to me, that God "will by no means clear the guilty," and that he "will render to every man according to his works."
Having stated what salvation is not, according to my views of the subject, I will now briefly state what I believe to be the salvation of the gospel; and in doing this, I shall avail myself of the language of scripture. Matth. i. 21. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." John i. 29. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Acts iii. 26. "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." From these and similar passages I infer, that the salvation of the gospel is a salvation from sin; and as sin is the procuring cause of condemnation and misery, it follows, that if man is saved from
the cause, the effect will cease. Finally, salvation, in its highest and most perfect sense, I believe consists in the deliverance of the creature "from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God."
Such, Sir, are my views, (and on this subject I believe all Universalists are agreed) of the scripture doctrine of salvation; and such is the nature of that salvation, which I feel myself under the most solemn obligations to avow and to defend. That this salvation will finally embrace the whole family of man, I infer,
1. From the declarations of the scriptures, which speak of the destruction of sin. The first passage which I shall notice, is contained in the denunciation of God to the serpent. Gen. iii. 15. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." That the "seed," here spoken of, is Christ, I presume you will readily admit; and that the bruising of the serpent's head, refers to the destruction of sin, I infer from the words of the apostle, 1 John iii. 8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” And also from Heb. ii. 14, 15, "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." From these and other plain testimonies of the scriptures, I believe that a period will come, when sin shall no longer exist; but when God "will swallow up death in victory," and "wipe away tears from off all faces."
2. I believe this salvation will be universal, because God wills it. 1 Tim. ii. 4. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." And because he "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." See Eph. i. 11. And,