Page images

which we infer that no moral agents, guiltless of actual transgression, shall be damned. And while we would not diminish the glory of the divine benevolence, we venture to say, that, in all cases, it is wiser and safer to rely on the justice of Deity. We know not what obstacles the moral government of God may, in particular instances, interpose to the exercise of his mercy. But we may rest assured, that nothing can possibly occur to induce him t. do what is unjust. When I stand at the bar of my Maker as a sinner, I should tremble for my fate were I compelled to cast myself entirely on his benevolence and compassion. May I then be enabled to plead his justice, satisfied, not, indeed, by any acts of my own, but by the obedience and sufferings of him who died that guilty men

might live!

We go on to remark, as another argument for the truth which we are attempting to defend, that no object is to be attained, so far as we can see, in the government of God, by the perdition of infants. We can readily conceive, that the punishment of actual offenders may accomplish a highly important end in the divine administration, by deterring other beings from transgression. But no imaginable good can result from inflicting misery on those who never sinned. Were the Supreme Ruler of the universe to consign the innocent to final wretchedness, the only reason that we could conceive for such a procedure would be the malevolence of his nature. But the God of the Bible has no pleasure even in the death of the wicked. He punishes them for the general good of the universe.

Besides, it deserves to be considered, whether it is not impossible, in the nature of things, for infants to endure what must constitute a primary part of the punishment inflicted on the wicked in the future world. They are surely incapable of remorse. On their spirits the worm that never

He can

dies cannot prey. They have done no evil with which to reproach themselves. To suppose that they should feel remorse on account of Adam's sin is preposterous. No man's conscience ever has upbraided bim, or ever will upbraid him for any transgressions but his own. no more repent of what Adam did, than he can repent of what Nero or Caligula did.

There is one objection to the salvation of infants, on which we ought, perhaps, to offer a single remark, before we close. The Scriptures, it is said, insist on faith as a condition of salvation. Now, as infants cannot believe, they cannot be saved. We answer, in one word, that God requires faith only of those who are capable of exercising it. He never demands impossibilities. And more than this, the argument to which we allude, if it proves any thing, will prove that no infants whatever can be saved, since they are all equally incapable of faith. Indeed, the more we examine this subject, the stronger becomes our conviction as to the soundness of our fundamental position, that infants must be either all saved or all lost. No medium between these extremes, is, in any respect tenable. We believe that they will all be saved, and though not capable of exercising faith, their salvation will be ascribed to Him who loved them, and gave himself for them.

The subject which we have thus hastily discussed is eminently consolatory to parents, or, at least, to pious parents, whose lot it has been to be deprived of their infant offspring. There are, no doubt, such parents in the assembly which we this morning address. Brethren, we would have you to banish all sorrow from your bosoms, since we feel authorized to assure you, and on scriptural grounds, that your departed infants are far happier now than they would have been had Providence continued them with you. Yes, they are with God in glory, and you may confidently anticipate a joyful meeting with them on the day of your own entrance into heaven. Let it then be your endeavour meekly to submit to the will of the Most High, and diligently to prepare for that better and brighter world, where parent and child shall be united to part no more.

Does any one here ask, why we have intimated a restriction to pious parents, of the consolation flowing from our present subject? We answer, because other parents, though they are warranted in the belief that their departed infants have gone to heaven, have no right to cherish the hope that they shall ever meet them there. Their own destination must be very different. This is, in truth, a solemn thought for impenitent fathers and impenitent mothers. Are there such in our audience to day? Brethren, we beg you to consider how you will endure an eternal separation from your children. Believe us, such separation is inevitable if you do not speedily repent of your sins, and become new beings. We exhort you, then, as you retain any affection for the infants whom you have lost on earth, and as you would delight to join them again in the realms of celestial purity and bliss—0! we exhort you, not to continue another hour in a state of impenitence.

But there are those in our audience to day-impenitent sinners, we mean—who are not parents. And what salutary admonition, dear hearers, does this subject address to you? We shall tell you, in a single word. It suggests the solemn reflection, that it had been far better for you to be removed from earth before the setting of the first sun that dawned upon you, than to die in your present condition. You, no doubt, rejoice that it was your good fortune to escape the many perils of infancy, and if ever you have felt any thing like gratitude to God, the emotion has probably been excited by the contemplation of his goodness in prolonging your existence. And yet we must assure you, that what you thus count a blessing, will prove a real curse should death overtake you ere you have secured an interest in Christ. We request you, then, to carry this solemn thought home with you. But what are we saying? Carry it home with you? No, let it have its due influence on the spot. O! leave not the house of God this morning till you have resolved to repent and enter on a new course of life. Nothing can be gained by delay. The interests of eternity are at stake, and every moment, therefore, is of infinite importance to you. It is only by promptness and decision, that you can escape whatever misery is implied in a worm that dieth not, and fire that is not quenched.


JOB XIX. 25, 26.

“ For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter

day upon the earth. And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

This passage has been strangely considered by some as destitute of any spiritual meaning. They suppose, that Job here simply expresses the confident hope that God would at last deliver him from the misery which had come upon him in the loss of property, of children, and of health ; that a calmer and happier period would arrive before the termination of his earthly career. But this exposition of the text may be shown not to be the true one, by a reference to the two verses immediately preceding. If the afflicted patriarch had been thinking merely of a temporal redemption, it is hardly to be presumed, that he would have prefaced the declaration of his cheering views on this article with words so exceedingly solemn as the following: 60 that my words were now written! O that they were printed in a book! That they were engraven with an iron pen and laid in the rock for ever!" Now, surely such language, to say the least, sounds very inappropriate, as an introduction to a profession of belief, on the part of an individual, that he should one day be as rich in flocks and herds as ever, that the sons and daughters whom Providence had taken from him should be replaced by others, and that the boils which covered his

« PreviousContinue »