Baptist History Homepage

By J. R. Graves

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
Psalm 14:1.

      SUCH is Atheism, a height of folly so towering and presumptuous that no vaulting ambition ever gained it with one bound. Universalism, in our opinion, is the first tremendous stride toward the wild madness of downright Atheism. There is a striking similarity in the folly of the two. The Atheist can look upon the heavens garnished and resplendent with unnumbered worlds, justly weighed and poised upon the ethereal sea, and upon the outspread earth beneath his feet, exhibiting her ten thousand marks of design; and in the face of all, with omnipotent presumption, assert: "There is no God" - no Architect of it all. He is a fool in the most odious sense of the term, because he denies the evidence of his own senses.

     The Universalist opens God's word; he reads the penalty of an infinitely holy law; he hears the thunders of Sinai; he sees retributive justice overtaking the one offending hi the least commandment, and
"Partial notes from Psalm 14:1."

[p. 87]
hears a voice from heaven saying: "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy. . . . Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?" while the point of a thunderbolt burns into the brow of the heavens over his head, the terrific words: " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

      He can open the New Testament, and through the glass of the apocalyptic vision look down deep into the burning maw of the second death, and behold the smoke of torment, and the fiery crests of the angry billows of damnation surging and thundering against the breakers of eternal woe, and even hear the deep lamentations of the lost swelling up from the "lake of fire"; and, turning his eyes from this to the summit of Calvary, behold the blood, and listen to the groans of a dying God, to save him and a lost world from such a fate, and in the face of all, shut the book, and with unblushing brow assert: "There is no hell - no future woe!"

      I envy not such folly - such mad insanity. But, leaving the Bible for arguments to refute them, let us follow them through the windings of their suicidal arguments, and:

      1. The Universalist asserts that there is no future punishment, for all sin is fully atoned for here, sin being its own punishment. If remorse of conscience be the only punishment for sin, then it follows

[p. 88]
that the more sin, the less punishment! Moral philosophy, common sense, and every man's experience, teach that the longer any course of sin is indulged, the less compunctions of conscience are felt - the conscience becoming less and less tender. Read Paul to Timothy: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrine of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:1). Young man! let me warn you to beware of this seducing spirit.

      2. This doctrine holds out the strongest motives to become outrageously wicked. The sinner loves sin, and "rolls it as a sweet morsel under his tongue." Conscience lashes him deeply. This doctrine tells him to sin fast - drink deep of iniquity, and he will wrench from her hand the whip of scorpions, and feel their stings no more.

      3. If sin is punished only in this life, then the man who commits suicide to escape mental unhappiness or bodily pain and infirmity, is justifiable, or he ends his misery and enters upon immortal bliss. But the man is a murderer who takes his own life; and John says that murderers shall have their part in the lake that bumeth with fire and brimstone, - emblems of an awful punishment.

      4. The Universalist asserts that there is no devil, evil spirit or Adversary (call him by whatever name you please), going about "like a roaring

[p. 89]
lion seeking whom he may devour." Then this personage must be God, or some good spirit sent on this mission by Him; consequently, God is the subverter of His own throne - the devil of His own dominion!

      5. The Atheist claims the Universalist as a brother in full fellowship, and justly, upon his own reasoning; for nothing is plainer than that happiness and punishment are awarded in the same state of being. Therefore, if all punishment is awarded in this present life, all happiness is dispensed in this life also. So with his brother Atheist, he is labouring to prove that beyond this life is no place for either grief or joy, delight or sorrow, but the terrific darkness and silence of annihilation reigns o'er all.

     6. This doctrine affords license to sin; for it says to the sinner in the act of sinning: "You are suffering all the punishment you will ever feel," and sin is a pleasure. Consequently, happiness is a penalty of God's broken law; and the more sin, the more pleasure.

      7. Pirates and midnight assassins are engaged in doing the greatest kindness to their fellowmen, releasing them from the ills and woes and griefs of this unhappy life, and sending them into the bliss and fruition of heaven. They take a far more expeditious method than did the apostles, or do the ministers of the present day!

      8. But I have one serious question to propound

[p. 90]
to the believer in conscience-punishment, which is worthy of candid attention: If God has so organized the mind and conscience of man that sin is its own full punishment, is not punishment by the civil law an impious and daring usurpation, on the part of man, upon the government of God? If God has meted out his just punishment, will you say that it is not enough, and:

"Snatch from His hand the balance and the rod,
Rejudge His justice, and be God of God?"

      Has a child offended and you have taken it aside and inflicted the punishment you, its father, had judged the offense deserved, how would you be pleased to have a stranger, who happened to be passing and had learned the child's offense, seize upon it after you had released it, or while you were punishing it, and add to yours the punishment he imagined the child deserved? Would you not make him feel your just indignation? How dare you sit as a juror, and by your verdict consign a fellow-being who has offended against his God, to dungeon darkness or condign punishment? You cannot consistently do it, if you conscientiously believe in Universalism. If God has ordained that conscience shall be the avenger of sin, to punish by law is unjust, impious.

      The doctrine, then, virtually subverts all human legislation! It disorganizes all human society, and

[p. 91]
places every man's life in jeopardy. Would you be willing to hazard your life upon the oath of that man who has not the fear of a future punishment before his eyes? The law of our land declares that the Universalist is disqualified to act either as a witness or a juror, or to fill any civil office.

     Young man! examine well the ground upon which you are venturing. Every step here disfranchises you of the rights and immunities of an American citizen. Remember infidel France!

      Finally: You must notice some of the conclusions resulting from this doctrine:

     (1) You say that there is no punishment beyond the grave, for God will (i.e., desires to) have "all men to be saved"; where are the inhabitants of the antediluvian world? When their iniquity became so great that God could not endure to have them any longer pollute an already sin-cursed earth, or to vex the soul of righteous Noah, He opens the windows of a wrathful heaven, and breaks up the fountains of the deep to sweep them from the earth. And were they, the vile, the awfully wicked, borne on the surging billows of the deluge to the bliss of heaven, while righteous Noah, shut into the confines of the ark with beasts - clean and unclean - is tossed o'er the waters of a wrecked and deluged world? Poor Noah mistook the shortest pathway to glory. A thousand times better had he perished in the whelming waters, than to have lived, to have sinned.

[p. 92]
      (2) Did the pollution of the five cities of the plain rise to such a height, and become so rank that it rose to heaven, and God could not longer endure their presence on His earth, that He poured out the vials of His wrath in sheeted flames, and translated them in chariots of fire and brimstone to His bosom, and the presence of angels, and Noah, and Enoch, and righteous Abel, while poor Lot was driven to the caves of the mountains, to dwell with beasts of prey, exposed to starvation and death? Is this the discernment of a righteous God between the righteous and the wicked? If so, better had it been for poor Lot to have looked back, and stood a pillar of salt beside his wife.

      Query: Could God say to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah: "Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your God"?

      (3) One question we insist upon being answered: From what did Christ come to save? Not from hell or future punishment, for you say there is none. Then all were saved from future unhappiness before He came, and all to the end of time would have been, had He not died on the cross. Why did He come? To save from sin? His death did not save the antediluvians and Sodomites from sin, and yet your doctrine saves them, and why not the rest of the God-despising race of man as well? But does it save the world from sin now, and has it since His death? Did it save the Jews? The Romans who put the apostles to death? Does it

[p. 93]
save the heathen world from sin? Did it save Paul, the chief of its apostles and ministers? Does it save you? Before a man or a world can be saved, it must be lost, how was man and earth lost? In danger of what?

      (4) If all sin is punished here by conscience, man owes his salvation to his conscience, and not to Jesus Christ; consequently, besides God there is another Saviour. But if all his sins are avenged here, there is no such thing as salvation, and no one is saved.

      (5) Why should the apostles and primitive Christians suffer martyrdom and death by cruel torments, if a lie against the Holy Ghost was a pinion to waft them to the bliss of heaven?

      Query: "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." And "whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Law, by Matthew).

      "And Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie against the Holy Ghost? And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down, and gave up the ghost" (Verdict by Peter).

      What became of Ananias and Sapphira, having sinned against the Holy Ghost?

      To the priests of this religion, and the teachers and propagators of this peaceful delusion: Beware

[p. 94]
of the terrific curse and malediction of the prophet: "Ye heal the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Therefore, ye shall fall among them that fall; at the time that I visit them, ye shall be cast down, saith the Lord." 1
1 See Jeremiah 6:14, 15.

Graves Sermons Page
Baptist History Homepage