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” Do, my dear Mr. Townley, avoid such carping in future. “
Although it cannot be expected that I should advert to any of the anonymous reviews of my “Divine Inversion” to which the publication of that work gave birth, [Such as those in the “Christian Teacher,” “Gospel Magazine,” “Tail’s Magazine”, “American Universalist Quarterly Review”; &c.] yet the abilities, as well as position in society, of the two gentlemen who have accompanied their strictures with their names, seem to demand on my part some notice of their respective productions.
To both I beg to observe that I consider myself honoured by my work having been deemed worthy of their animadversions ; and to both, especially to Dr. Weatherill, I beg to tender my most respectful acknowledgments for the courtesy which I have experienced at their hands.
Want of leisure compels me, without any farther preface, to dash at once in medias res ; and therefore I proceed to the consideration of the two articles in the order in which they are set down, which is also the order in which they made their appearance.
II. TO MR. TOWNLEY.
With my friend’s general notions, except in so far as they form the grounds of his attack upon my “Divine Inversion,” I have nothing to do. And his numerous sneers at the system of divine truth for which I contend, such for instance, as that at the bottom of page 151 of his work, I pass over, with merely an expression of regret that they should have been penned. A somewhat profounder acquaintance with divine truth than my respected antagonist yet possesses, may shew him that not only were they unmerited, but that, from the acerbity of feeling which they betray, they have more the appearance of springing from personal dislike, and of his having been galled by the system which they assail, than of having had their origin in deep, serious, and comprehensive views of the meaning of Scripture.
Mr. Townley’s note has one great advantage: it numbers his grounds of objection to my views. I have therefore only to follow him through these, as they are successively and very distinctly laid down by him.
He divides what he has to say into two parts : first, a defence of his friends the Salemites ; and secondly, a series of direct assaults upon my doctrines.
I. Defending the views of his friends, he says,
1. “Throughout the Bible a church implies service ; and where there is service there must be servants, officers, priests, and deacons ; and where these are, they must be of divine appointment.” Suppose I grant this as holding true of every external body spoken of in the scriptures. Does it thence follow either, 1st. that an internal church cannot exist? or 2nd, that if such a church can exist, it must, although itself internal, have an external service, external office-bearers, &c. ? “A church,” says my friend, “implies in one word conditionally.” Yes ; such a church, or such churches as Mr. Townley alludes to ; but not that of which I speak. And when a heavenly and internal church, the very basis of the existence of which is the fulfilment of all conditions of salvation by the Son of God, shall be proved to be necessarily conditional, then, but not till then, may I be placed at the bar on a charge of conditionalizing the Word of God. More I might say respecting the conditionalizing nature and tendencies of Salemite doctrine ; but I forbear.
2. Surely my friend must have read carelessly the very words which he quotes. I, no more than he does, contend for “a blotting out of the reign of the Messiah.” My words are, “a blotting out” of his reign “as spiritual Abraham.” This alters the case completely. I acquit Mr. T. of all intentional misrepresentation. Only, in animadverting on the language of another, he should pay a little more attention to what the subject of his animadversions actually says.
Mr. Townley thinks that 1 Cor. xv. 22-28 contradicts my assertion as to Jesus appearing first as head of the church, or elected body, before appearing ultimately as head of all. Persons may surely think differently as to this matter. The passage in question appears to me “confirmation” of my view “strong as holy writ” can make it. An “order” beginning with one, extending to some, and ultimately taking in all, (God only excepted, who “did put all things under him”) is, it strikes me, fairly considered, inexplicable on any other interpretation than that which I have given. However, treve de cela. To “the law and the testimony”, and to the church taught by that law and that testimony, I make my appeal.
Pardon me, my friend : the question is not what I may have thought or said thirteen or seventeen years ago, when my views of divine truth were less enlightened and scriptural than they are at present; but what have I said in my “Divine Inversion”? the work expressly selected by you for attack.
It strikes me that my friend rather shirks — let me use, because I wish to do so, a milder phrase, — avoids meeting my position as to Jesus being both spiritual Abraham and spiritual Adam. — Will he permit me to ask from him distinct and categorical answers to the following queries : — 1st. Is not our Lord, who in the 1st of Matthew is spoken of as Abraham’s descendant, and as such of the kindred of the Jews, also in Luke iii., spoken of as Adam’s descendant, and as such of kin to all? 2nd. Is not Jesus, who is set before us as spiritual Abraham in Acts ii., Romans iv., Ephesians i., 1 Peter i. 23, &c. &c., also set before us as spiritual Adam, in Romans v. 12-21, 1 Cor. xi. 3, (the head of every man is Christ,) 1 Cor. xv. 22, 45, 1 Tim. iv. 10, Heb. ii. 9, &c. &c. ? 3rdly. Is the representation of Jesus as spiritual Abraham, the same thing as the representation of him as spiritual Adam ? If you say so, prove it from scripture. It will not do to say, “spiritual Adam or Abraham.” I believe that God has recorded nothing in vain. If Abraham the father of the faithful had been a sufficient type of Christ, why also speak of our Lord as Adam, 1 Cor. xv. 45, or as the antitype of the being who is naturally the father of us all ? Is not such a representation, could we adopt your principles, puzzling and perplexing incapable of being satisfactorily explained? Observe, I know that he who is spiritual Abraham is also spiritual Adam. It is the same glorious being who is both. (See my second Dialogue.) What I beg to call your attention to is, that Adam was the ancestor, not of a part merely, but of the whole of the human race naturally; and that to call Jesus, Adam, is, if the type has any meaning at all, and if we are not to involve every thing in confusion, to point to him as the ancestor, not of a part, but of the whole human race supernaturally. It is upon this principle we explain Christ’s character as spiritual Abraham, or head of the church. Why apply a different principle to our Lord when spoken of as spiritual Adam, by denying him to be head of every man ? 1 Cor. xi. 3. And this, too, in the teeth of the Holy Ghost’s own inspired interpretation, in Ibid. xv. 22 ?
3. Will my friend excuse me if, while I profess my admiration of his acuteness, I express myself rather surprised at the summary and somewhat contemptuous way in which he dismisses my statement that “they,” the Salemites, “do not seem to apprehend how the resurrection of the body which we now have may be held, while yet we deny that it is raised a flesh and blood body ?” This he does by quoting from John iii. 6, and 1 Cor. xv. 50. The force of this quotation, if it have any force at all in opposition to my views, being, that I maintain the possibility of flesh begetting something else than flesh, and of flesh and blood inheriting the kingdom of God. Now, my dear friend, in what part of my works can you point to me as maintaining either the one or the other of these unscriptural notions? Where do I say, where do I even insinuate, that flesh or fleshly mind can beget spirit, or that flesh and blood can enter into the heavenly kingdom ? Is it not the grand object of all that I have written to shew that flesh can not rise above itself, and that sowing to the flesh of necessity results, and can only result, in the reaping of corruption ? True, I maintain that God manifest in flesh, through obedience to divine law, and through that crowning act of obedience to it, the sacrifice of himself, hath swallowed up flesh in spirit in himself ; and by that mighty power whereby he is able to subdue all things to him self, swallows it up likewise in the case of others. But I have yet to learn that the superseding of flesh by spirit on the part of the Creator, which I do contend for, 1 Cor. xv. 49, Phil. iii. 21, is the same thing as flesh raising itself to the possession and enjoyment of the heavenly kingdom, and clothing itself with everlasting existence, positions which, in whatever form they may be proposed, I loathe, repudiate, and utterly deny. See 2 Cor. v. 17 ; Rev. xxi. 5. Under these circumstances, why triumphantly exclaim, as you do, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God.” (The Italics are your own.) What other object can this have but to represent me as contradicting the very truths which I unreservedly and unqualifiedly maintain and glory in ? — “But the Bible tells another tale.” What ! That flesh only can produce flesh, and Spirit only can produce spirit, and that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, are doctrines which constitute the very staple of my works. They are doctrines for the assertion of which I have suffered persecution, and been turned out of an Established Church. You can scarcely help knowing this. For have you not read the charges of heresy brought against me in 1825 ? Have you not read several of my productions ? To come nearer to the point, have you not read my “Divine Inversion,” and especially section seventh of that work ? There the very doctrine of the impossibility of flesh rising to spirit the doctrine which prejudice is the doctrine of the Bible is expressly and at some length asserted. And yet, in your anxiety to screen your friends the Salemites a very amiable and praiseworthy feeling, I admit you represent me as on this very point contradicting the scriptures. “The Bible tells another tale” — whereas I assert exactly what the Bible does ! My dear Mr. Townley, is such conduct on your part fair ? As to your denying that what is now flesh and blood body is new-created in Jesus glorified as spiritual body, it is enough for me to answer you in the words of the inspired apostle : This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality; 1 Cor. xv. 53 ; and if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his spirit that dwelleth in you. Rom. viii. 11. These passages, and others of similar import might be produced likewise, asserting in the most express terms that what appears naturally in an inferior form is clothed upon supernaturally with a superior one that what is mortal in time is immortal in eternity to contradict such divinely-revealed facts involves you, my dear friend, in a dispute not with a paltry worm of the dust like the writer of this, but with him whose creatures both you and I are.
Having completed his defence of the Salemites, Mr. Townley then proceeds,
II. To a series of direct assaults upon doctrines held, or supposed by him to be held by me. His charges against me are,
1. My holding, according to him, three advents of Christ. To this I answer distinctly and straight-forwardly, that, in my apprehension, the advents of our blessed Lord are only two in number. First, that which occurred when he became manifest in flesh ; and, secondly, that which will occur when he comes to terminate this present world, and introduce his church into the full enjoyment of the heavenly glory. As, however, the first coming of Christ threw out its shadows before, or afforded an earnest of its future occurrence in the natural creation of Adam, Romans v. 14, and in the ceremonial institutions of the Jews, Coloss. ii. 16, 17, Heb. ix., so does the second coming of Christ throw out an earnest of its future occurrence, in that communication of the principle and first fruits of his ascension and glorified mind which constitutes in New Testament times the portion of all his believing people. Beckoning the two earnests of the two advents as themselves advents likewise, you are welcome, my dear friend, to charge me with holding four advents if you please. To me, nevertheless, there are but two. In explanation of what I have said in my “Three Questions,” first published in 1828, and afterwards republished in 1835, which is cast in my teeth by Mr. Townley, I would just observe, that I was then led partially into error by confounding the earnest of Christ’s second coming, which began to take effect from the period of Jerusalem’s destruction, with his second coming itself.
2. Excuse me, my dear Mr. Townley, if I suggest that your great and acknowledged acuteness has here betrayed you, unintentionally I am sure, into something like what is called “catching at a man’s words.” I have no doubt expressed myself, in one part of my “Divine Inversion,” as you represent me to have done. A modification of my language is, I admit, required, in order with perfect accuracy to convey my meaning. And yet, after all the reflection which I have been capable of bestowing upon the subject, I cannot see the grossness of the inconsistency into which you seem to think I have fallen. The Book of Revelation does appear to me to “consist of information respecting the then approaching salvation of the church, and of contrasts between the state of reconciliation and that of salvation.” Through out that wondrous book I find also hints of still deeper principles, upon which these contrasts rest, and by which they are to be explained. That is, besides its relative disclosures, there are absolute truths propounded in it, as the basis on which the former rest, and the source whence they flow. The word “whole” is what I perceive you cavil at. An addition to what I have said, of the clause, “accompanied with hints of the principles of that information and of these contrasts, or of those profound divine facts of which all phenomena secular and religious are the results,” will complete the idea which was in my mind when I wrote the words animadverted on, and which I have elsewhere more than once expressed. This clause, or some corresponding one, with a view to meet the objections of friends so acute, and so anxious for the perfect self-consistency of my statements as you are, when I have occasion to speak of the Book of Revelation again, I must be careful not to omit.
3. I confess myself unable to understand the point of Mr. Townley’s attack under this head. I have said I do say that “no external or earthly church of Christ has existed since the days of the apostles and the period of Jerusalem’s subversion.” And yet, I not only denied to Mr. Townley privately, but I now deny publicly in print, “that Christ has come a second time.” (Why, dear friend, take notice of a private conversation, when you have my published works denying the same thing to refer to ?) Wherein, however, is self-contradiction here apparent ? Have the goodness to shew me. “No, he affirms this,” (that is, that Christ hath come the second time.) “He affirms, and yet he denies : it is so, and it is not so.” Where do I affirm that Christ hath come the second time, in my “Divine Inversion,” the work now under consideration ? I have only affirmed, as I do affirm, that the members of Christ’s internal, heavenly, and spiritual church, the only church he now has, or can have, have enjoyed, and do enjoy, in the manifestation of the truth to their consciences by the Holy Ghost, that which is to them the earnest of Christ’s second coming. 2 Cor. v. 1 5, Ibid. 17, compared with Rev. xxi. 5. When I thus so distinctly deny in private te teste, and in public, that Christ’s second coming hath taken place, and yet affirm the enjoyment by anticipation of the earnest of that second coming by all the members of his church while on earth, two different things, you must admit, is it, dear friend, kind, is it consistent with perfect candour in you, to represent me as affirming and yet denying the same thing ? Are you justified in charging me, in reference to this matter, with “blowing hot and cold in the same breath ” ?
4. As to what Mr Townley says respecting my having “no ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in” my “chapel,” he may find the answer virtually involved in the principles laid down by me in the last section. To us to whom Christ hath revealed himself as head of a spiritual church of which we are members, and to whom he hath thus come in spirit in the earnest of his second glorious advent, it appears that external ordinances are, like external churches, by that very fact shewn to be ended. Those who think otherwise, if taught from above at all, we bear with, on the principles laid down in Romans, chapter fourteenth. That is, provided that the ordinances which they continue to observe have been, at one time, in reality of divine institution ; such as baptism and the Lord’s supper: not otherwise. Instead of your saying, pardon me, if I remark, somewhat harshly, that our “theory is far from perfect,” supposing us to be wrong, would not the word “practice,” think you, have been the more appropriate term ?
5. I have yet to learn from the inspired volume the impossibility of the saints of God now enjoying the earnest of the spiritual and glorified mind of the Lord Jesus. My friend Mr. Townley’s dictum, that ” this also is vanity, a faith which clashes with the plainest declarations of scripture,” is, he must be aware, no proof whatever on the subject, and cannot be accepted by me as such ; especially in the teeth of all those passages of God’s word which speak of “the earnest of the Spirit,” and “the witness of the Spirit,” and ” the sealing of the Spirit,” as being privileges of the whole body of believers. As to miracles and miraculous influences, my friend is, I presume, well aware that I understand them to have passed away with the apostolic age. The earnest of the Spirit, therefore, for which I contend as the privilege of the church now, is not the miraculous form of it which existed in the days of the apostles, but that permanent form of it consisting in the enjoyment of the principles of divine light and divine love, which is the portion of the saints, until time shall be no more.
6. Mr. Townley must be aware that I do not undertake to communicate to others the knowledge of divine truth. To do so is God’s prerogative, not mine. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matt. xiii. 9. These words are uttered by him who said, Let there be light ; and as he himself alone was competent to give effect to his word in this latter case, so also in the former. As there was light resulted necessarily from the one command, so the ear to hear results with equal necessity from the other. I can only state in human language, and pointing to the scriptures as my authority for what I say, what appears to myself to be divinely true. In so doing I can only reach the outward ear, and the fleshly understanding. To be heard internally, or through the medium of the new creation of the understanding, is the result not of creature effort or creature ability, but of God himself carrying home his own truth with power to the heart and conscience. By the way, it is a little too much for my friend to assume that this present world shall continue for ever, and to denounce as an “unscriptural dogma” my position that “this visible system of things” shall have an end. Above all, when such passages as 2 Peter iii. 10 12, and Rev. xxi. 5, Behold, I make all things new, are staring him in the face and reclaiming against him. Such passages he and his friends, I am well aware, attempt to explain away. But why not stop there ? Why, not content with imagining yourself to have shewn that the texts alluded to have been misunderstood when interpreted with reference to the termination of this present state of things, venture to assert positively that it shall be perpetuated for ever ? Suppose I require you to prove from scripture the immortality of a system of things which confessedly had a beginning, and which confessedly has been loaded with sin. How would you set about it ? How, with God himself expressly declaring to his own Son, Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands ; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure ; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed, Psalm cii. 25, 26, would you convict the All-wise of having committed a mistake with regard to this matter ? “Mr. Thorn,” you say, “holds the non-immortality of the soul.” So I do. But permit me to say, my friend, that you know, I speak advisedly, that I deny the immortality of the soul or fleshly mind, just because I affirm the immortality of Spirit or divine mind, through which soul is new created. 1 Cor. xv. 45-49. You know this, because you have read, and read with care too, works of mine in which this doctrine is again and again repeated. Why then throw out the insinuation in the form in which it appears in your Note ? Why merely state that I deny the soul’s immortality and stop there ? I see clearly that it answers your purpose to do so. And yet I find it difficult to persuade myself that to expose me to unmerited obloquy was Mr. Townley’s purpose. Again: sects maintaining the immortality of soul are supposed by Mr. Townley to object, “How does Mr. Thorn make out his universalism, while holding annihilation and purgatory ? ” An objection which Mr. Townley makes his own, by adding, “For I can find no one who can explain this part of his creed to me.” Now, friend Townley, I hold neither “annihilation” nor “purgatory”. Can I suppose you, acute as I know you to be, and carefully as I perceive you to have gone over my works, to be ignorant of this ? Why then express yourself as you have done ? Surely, my dear friend, this is anything but to deal fairly with me. So far from holding annihilation, other parts of the Note under review shew you to be aware that, whether right or wrong is not now the question, I hold the doctrine of Christ making all persons new ; that is, giving to all persons everlasting existence, the opposite of annihilation, in himself. Acts xvii. 28, 1 Cor. xv. 22. Have not you read also my brief exposure of the annihilation theory, in Appendix B of the “Divine Inversion” ? And so far from holding purgatory, a mere improvement of the old or human nature in a higher state, other parts of the Note under review shew you to be aware that I hold the doctrine of the new creation of human beings in Jesus Christ glorified ; a doctrine which, as laid down by the Holy Ghost and acquiesced in by me, implies, not the purifying and thereby the continuation of old things, but the passing of old things away and the making of all things new. 2 Cor. v. 17, Rev. xxi. 3 5. You may not understand me : that I can easily believe. But this at all events you do understand, that, giving me the benefit of my own words, the only way in which you are entitled to judge of my sentiments, I hold neither annihilation nor purgatory. The last sentence of the paragraph commented on is, I do not say exactly profane, but I wish that for your own sake you had omitted it.
7. My friend and I are here decidedly at variance. “I maintain,” says Mr. Townley, “that the all in all state was opened up at the fall of Jerusalem, not, as Mr. Thorn would say, in the sense of a beginning of something which is progressive in its manifestations, but in the sense of manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change. I can see nothing but absurdity in the reflection which Mr. Thom is constrained to offer on such passages as 1 Thess. iv. 13 17.” Were I inclined to bandy harsh expressions I might say, and say with truth, that the absurdity was all on the side of my friendly critic. But I forbear. Expressions of an unkind and disparaging description I wish as much as possible to avoid. They cannot do good. If, my friend, you mean in what you say, that at the period of the fall of Jerusalem the inspired writings were complete, you are right. If you mean that to the members of the church a view of all in all state began to be opened up at that period, you are right likewise. But going beyond the completeness of revelation objectively considered, and beyond the opening up of the completeness of God’s purposes to his chosen ones at and since the period alluded to, you contradict fact, and plunge yourself, I will not say into absurdity, but into a perfect abyss of error. As a matter of fact, the scriptures are not opened up subjectively yet in all their fulness of meaning to God’s chosen ones. As a matter of fact, they are not opened up in their meaning to the unregenerate world at all. “A manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive!” What! The Salemites themselves, by their own shewing, growing in knowledge ! My friend Mr. Townley also growing in knowledge ! This, in the sense of a full subjective manifestation of Jehovah, a manifestation unsusceptible of increase, having existed for 1800 years, is a sheer impossibility. And yet, unless this be Mr. Townley’s meaning, he admits “progression and change” ! All in all means fulness of manifestation on the part of God to all. But no such thing now exists. The assertion of it contradicts fact, and contradicts the experience even of those who make it.
But I take up Mr. Townley on another ground. “This,” says he, “is the all in all state.” All in all state now ? Why, if you are going to push this view out to its legitimate extent, the proper expression of it is not that it is the all in all state now, but that there never has been anything else than the all in all state. (A thing by the way, absolutely speaking, true. Exodus iii. 14 ; Psalm xc. 2 ; Hebrews xiii. 8 ; James i. 17.) For the all in all state not only excludes progression and change now, as the Salemites and Mr. Townley assert, but excludes progression and change at all periods and under all circumstances. Every argument therefore which my friend can adduce against a state of progression existing now, may with the greatest ease and pertinency be urged against a state of progression having ever existed at all. — An “all in all state opened up,” or “commencing at the fall of Jerusalem!” Why, my dear Mr. Townley, do you not see that — I had almost said absurdity — the inconsistency with fact of such an idea? An all in all state, absolutely considered, has neither beginning nor end. It therefore could not be opened up. It has ever existed. It must ever exist. And that unchanged and unchangeable. You allow progression and change before the fall of Jerusalem. You suppose an all in all state, exclusive of progression and change, then to have been opened up. That is, you suppose a state which by its very nature is exclusive of change, to have come into existence as itself a part of an order of things which implies change ! How is this possible ? — Remember that you have here only one alternative. Either you hold the all in all state as absolute and irrespective of progression altogether, in which case you carry it back not to the destruction of Jerusalem but to the beginning of time, rather into eternity itself; or admitting progression, notwithstanding the existence absolutely considered of an all in all state, ever to have existed, you play the game into my hands.
What I say, and say without any equivocation whatever, (pardon me, if I inquire respectfully if the phrase “Mr. T.;s equivocating denial,” be quite gentlemanlike and becoming a Dublin University A.B.?) is, that absolutely considered, there is and there can be no change in Jehovah himself; and that in connexion with his un-changeable nature and character there exists a state of things which, like himself, is unchangeable also. This is the all in all state. What I say farther, and say without any equivocation whatever is, that this state of things, in itself unchangeable, is capable of progressive, and therefore changing manifestation to the children of men ; or, that the state of things in itself unchangeable becomes, in its manifestation to changeable beings, itself changeable, in the sense of its being gradually and progressively developed. Can I express myself more distinctly ? More unequivocally ? In three progressive stages do I see this all in all or unchangeable state, in scripture developed. In Paradise, with relation to Adam; in Palestine, with relation to the Jews ; and throughout the world. with relation to mankind in general. My friend admits progression in the manifestation of the divine character up to the fall of Jerusalem, or in the two former stages. There, all at once, he takes a bound or start. Instead of seeing that the all in all state was then opened up merely in the highest sense in which it was capable of being so to creatures in flesh, he understands then a fulness of manifestation which is exclusive of the possibility of all additions whatever. “A manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change.” The progression, the possibility of any increase of knowledge, according to him, at the fall of Jerusalem ended. Man I beg his pardon, the church I beg his pardon again, certain human beings then came to see and enjoy God as all in all. Suppose I admit such a manifestation to certain human beings. What then ! Has progression in reality ended ? Did all who were to see him as all in all, then do so ? Certainly not. For in succeeding ages men have been seeing him to be so. Here then, Mr. Townley being judge, is progression. Again : do all who see him to be all in all make that discovery at once ? Certainly not. There was a time when the Salemites, and when my friend Mr. Townley, did not see him in his all in all character. (Supposing them, by the way, to do so, which I confess I much doubt.) Well then, here also is progression. — Still farther : do all now see him to be what he is ? Certainly not. Why then, this being the case, there is at least a possibility of farther progression in regard to them. And what I state as possibility is actually to be realised as fact, God himself declaring so. God willeth that all men be saved, (literally,) and come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. ii. 4. And Christ gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified, or a testimony, in the times, or seasons, proper to each. Ibid. 6. Then, but not till then, will God progressively considered be “all in all.” (The very words themselves, all in all, shew the correctness of my view and the incorrectness of my friends : for according to my view, God is fully and finally and completely developed through all, and to all, and in all. Whereas according to my friends, he is only made known in and to a part of the human race ; those who regard him as all in all upon my friend’s principles, committing evidently the blunder of taking a part for the whole.) And when God shall be manifested as all in all, then but not, dear Mr. Townley, till then will the principle of progressive manifestation as connected with creature mind be seen swallowed up in complete, unchangeable, and everlasting manifestation, as the attribute of divine mind.
Dear friend, is there any equivocation in these statements of mine ? If so, have the goodness to point it out.
“It is and it is not comes in at every turn.” Well, suppose that it does. Are all distinctions on every subject repudiated by my friend Mr. Townley ? Most assuredly not. He is too good a logician to be ignorant of their value, and, when requisite, to abstain from employing them. “It is so and so,” “it is not so and so,” I find pervading his work. Do I blame him for this ? No. For I am aware that it is impossible to write accurately on any topic without having recourse to such distinctions. To write on any topic ? Why, that it is impossible to hold a five minutes conversation without employing them. But if so, why does my friend censure me for saying “it is so absolutely considered ;” “it is not so relatively or progressively considered?” Does this furnish my friend with a ground for charging me with equivocation, or a tendency to falsehood ? Do, my dear Mr. Townley, avoid such carping in future.
“If the all in all state is not opened up in the sense of perfect and entire manifestation so as to exclude all progression and change, then there must be a ministry, and that too miraculously commissioned.” (I omit what follows, from a dislike again to copy what I am sure it must be painful to yourself to have written.) Have the goodness to prove this, my dear friend. You know that mere assertion will not do. To quote your own words, omitting the offensive epithet already objected to, “Mr. Townley’s denial must go for what it really is, a mere assertion, unsustained by a shadow of proof.” To me the objective manifestation of the divine character in the scriptures being complete, it appears that God has thereby not obscurely intimated his having reserved to himself alone, not conceded to a ministry, the power of opening up that complete objective manifestation, progressively in a subjective sense, in the hearts and consciences of his chosen people.
Mr. Thom “writes himself minister.” If this word be obnoxious to you, I am willing to abandon it, Assign to me any designation you please. Argumenta ad hominem however, as you know, do not touch the real point in controversy between us. Let us, if we can, get rid of them. They tend to no other end than to excite unpleasant feelings.
“His” (Mr. Thom’s,) “real aim is to establish a ministry” I print your words in Italics, as you yourself have printed them. How you have come to fancy yourself thus intimately acquainted with my inward views and motives I cannot tell. This however I can tell you, that in the object which you have chosen thus publicly and gratuitously to impute to me, you are most grievously mistaken. My aim is exactly the opposite of that which you declare to be mine. If there be one thing more dear to my heart than another one thing which, more than another, I have had in view in my different publications it is and has been to be instrumental in God’s hands to point the minds and attention of men away from human ministries, from priests and priestcraft of every description, to my dear and glorified Redeemer, the Great High Priest and sole Instructor of his church, speaking directly in his own most blessed word. See my “Irving Miracles, pp 13 14,” my preface to Barclay’s “Without Faith, without God,” &c. &c.
The third part of my present work Mr. Townley will find to be an answer, although not formally yet in reality, to his challenge, as given in the following words : “I submit to Mr. Thorn what I have submitted to all sects, to fill up their assumed intermediate state between the apostolic and the perfect.” In the portion of my work alluded to, Mr. Townley may observe, that, taught by God’s own word, I can distinguish between the earnest of the perfect and the perfect itself between our being conformed in mind so far to the Son of God, and our being conformed to him entirely in body as well as mind. God does not in his manifestation of him self advance per saltum. He proceeds gradually. Taught by his example, I am satisfied to represent him as advancing from inferior to superior degrees of self-manifestation, until, progression ending with creature nature, the fulness and unchangeableness of self-manifestation, on the part of Jehovah, is seen to swallow up all.
“It is idle to say there is, and yet there is not. This is only calculated to deceive the simple-minded.” The not very gentleman-like insinuation conveyed in these words, I am sure, upon reflection, my friend, Mr. Townley, would wish unsaid.
“Mr. Thom’s Universalism resolves itself, to all appearance, into a yea and nay gospel : a supposition Christianity, as a friend happily styled it.” I have wished to avoid bandying epithets with my respected antagonist, and, therefore, I abstain from expressing, what had almost flowed from my pen, my opinion respecting the “supposition” character of another system of religion, (can I call it Christianity ?) with which I happen to have some little acquaintance. Dear friend, you are a younger man than I am ; therefore, do take a small piece of advice from a senior. Avoid, as much as possible, all approaches to what might be construed into personality. Well do I know the difficulty of acting on this advice likely to be experienced by one whose temperament is so ardent as your own. To act upon it, however, might do you good. Haud inexpertus loquor. “A yea and nay gospel.” Ah! dear friend, is there not conceivable something even worse than this, namely, a system of religion which is no gospel at all ?
Mr. Townley is pleased to say, “If I am to be a believer in Universalism, I must have a widely different statement from any which Mr. Thom propounds.” My friend has his choice among innumerable other systems of Universalism besides mine : such as Jeremiah White’s, the Chevalier Ramsay’s, Petit-pierre’s, Elhanan Winchester’s, Stonehouse’s, Kelly’s, Murray’s, Neil Douglas’s, Huntington’s of Connecticut, &c., &c. Professor Bush is, I perceive, a favourite writer with him. He is also a favourite with the American Universalists, a body which boasts of numbering among its adherents above 600,000 individuals, and which happens to agree with my friend in his notion of Christ’s second coming being past. Suppose I recommend to my friend’s notice the system advocated by these religionists, as brought out in the writings of Ballou, Walter Balfour, Whittemore, T. J. Sawyer, and others. Or, seeing that he labours under considerable doubts respecting “soul,” and respecting the punishment of the wicked hereafter, (doubts strangely inconsistent with his dogma of the existence now of a “manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change,”) and seeing, consequently, that there may exist in his mind a latent suspicion of there being something true in Universalism after all, suppose I use the freedom to suggest to him to construct a system of his own” I never propounded my system as absolutely perfect. To the Father of Lights I continually look up for further instruction in divine things, through the instrumentality of his word. Nevertheless, I do venture to think, (I might express myself more strongly, but, in deference to the taste of the present day, which will only be content with the appearance of modesty, whether true or false, on the part of authors, I use this language,) that the system brought out by me in my various writings, especially in my later ones, is somewhat more consistent with scripture, and with itself, than any previously devised and concocted. And yet, have I anticipated a different reception for it than that which it has met with ? No. Believing, as I do, that flesh lusteth against spirit, and spirit against flesh, these two being contrary the one to the other, (Gal. v. 17,) I never anticipated a wide and general reception of the views which I have propounded (in the main God’s views,) on the part of the learned, the intelligent, and the fleshly pious. On the contrary, the more spiritual, that is, the more true and divine my views are, the more have I counted on, the more do I count on, their being offensive to fleshly mind, whatever form that mind may assume. Matt. xvi. 23 ; John viii. 45 ; Rom. viii. 7; 1 John iii. 1, 2. (See Preface to my – Three Questions,” second edition ; Epistle Prefatory to my ” Dialogues ;” and section seventh of my ” Divine Inversion.”)
My friend, Mr. Townley, will therefore perceive that I am prepared for, and can without the slightest irritation listen to, such remarks respecting my system as those which he has seen meet to make. I take them, considering the quarter from whence they come, as of the nature of a compliment to its truth an indirect and unintentional one, to be sure. And yet I must add, in justice to myself, as well as to my friend, the following: From Mr. Townley I am not only willing, but eager to learn. Let him propound truth. Let him, uncaptivated by a plausible and ingenious but baseless human theory, speak under the influence of the mind of God. Nay, let him, in so speaking, not in sporting mere paradoxes, correct errors into which as a human being, and as of necessity entertaining limited views of divine truth, I must have fallen. Let him do this, and then he will not, I trust, however unwilling human beings may be to say peccavi, find me inclined to reject his statements in the lump, or to speak of him and his writings in a way that may fairly be deemed contemptuous.
Will my friend pardon me, if I suggest to him that his admissions in the passage beginning, “In fact, I must know some thing clearer of the soul than I have ever yet read,” are scarcely consistent with the tone of dogmatism which throughout his work, and especially thoughout the Note animadverted on, he has assumed ? He feels himself in want of clearer notions respecting soul, stating his agreement with Mr. Bush, “that on no subject are we more in the dark than in regard to” this. He denies his having adopted or expressed any fixed views as to the “annihilation of the wicked” a declaration to which I attach implicit credit. Still the question arises What in this case becomes of Mr. Townley’s “full, complete, perfect, and conclusive manifestation, denying all progression and change”? He says: “I can only state, that it is possible there may be punishment in the continued principle of the present existence of the ungodly in a future state.” “Future state“, dear friend! Why I had supposed that, according to you, we were now in the ” all in all”, or ever present and ever unchangeable state. It seems that I have been mistaken. And yet, how reconcile the contradictory assertions ? Were I disposed to act as my friend has done, I might urge something about the “is,” and the “is not ; ” but I forbear.
Again: “there may be punishment.” How can that be? I mean, on your own principles. Why, Mr. Townley, as this world is to continue for ever according to you, and as you conceive us to have got into the all in all or unchangeable state already, your language should be, not “there may be punishment,” or “there will be punishment,” both of which propositions subvert your notion of an unchangeable state, but “punishment in time to come is just such as is now undergone.” You deny “hell torments” as commonly understood. Well you may, if we be in the all in all state punishment in time to come being, in that case, what exactly it is now. “Let it be observed, that the after existence of the wicked does not depend upon an end of the world, a resurrection,” &c. After existence of the wicked ! How, to repeat what has been again and again said, can there be such “after” or future “existence,” if this be the all in all or ever present unchangeable state ? And further, how can this be, consistently with your sentiment of there being no resurrection of the body ? Except in the case of God himself, distinct existence, without form or body of some kind or another, is an utter impossibility. Hence the church puts off the image of the earthy, not by being unclothed, but by being clothed upon with life, or by putting on the image of the heavenly. 1 Cor. xv. 49, 2 Cor. v. 4. But you laugh to scorn, as “unscriptural,” the “tenet of a resurrection body.” Why, dear Townley, do not your views tend towards something like Pantheism, or the confounding of the creature with the Creator? “But, indeed, this very little concerns me in any way.” Then why meddle with the subject at all? Why, especially, with views of your own confessedly unsettled, presume to condemn the settled views of others? Can avowed ignorance undertake to disprove knowledge ? And all this, after having told us, and pretended to attack our views on the hypothesis, that your own divine “manifestation” was “full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change.” Stop, my dear friend. Be a little better acquainted with the subject, and a little more consistent with yourself, before you again venture to take up the strong ground in the way of denial, and to employ the contemptuous modes of expressing yourself, which in your Note you have done. “Annihilation is a curious expression.” So it is. But it is a word which is in use, and which was in use long before you and I were born ; and without it, or some corresponding term, metaphysical and theological discussions could not be carried on. As to any charge or insinuation founded on it, whatever reference it may have to others, it cannot attach to persons who, like myself, believe that in God, revealed in Jesus Christ, all live for evermore.
As confirmatory of my friend’s condemnation of Universalism, I am treated to a quotation from Professor Bush. It would have been more to the purpose, and more satisfactory to me, to have seen it — I mean the scriptural form of it, not Universalism with a fool’s cap put upon it — condemned by the word of God. Particularly when I consider the unbounded reverence for the scriptures which Mr. Townley professes, and his boast of being exclusively guided by their decisions. However, the quotation is made for my benefit and the benefit of others, and valeat quantum. Mr. Townley evidently dislikes Universalism. Hates it, perhaps would be the more appropriate term. Wherefore, I presume not to enquire. He himself should know best : but the fact is so. Hence his disposition to seize on every weapon by which he conceives himself likely to be able to annoy its supporters. The language of Professor Bush, a gentleman animated by a spirit very similar to his own, most happily and opportunely comes in to his aid. Mr. Townley will forgive me, if I here press his conscience a little. Does he really believe with the American Professor (does the Professor himself really believe) that “if we were called upon to specify any form of alleged Christian doctrine, for which the least amount of evidence,” (observe, the least, in italics,) “could be adduced from the scriptures, it would be that of the final universal salvation of the race ?” (The italics are not mine.) “For this we find an entire lack,” (the italics are mine,) “of positive scriptural evidence.” I say, does Mr. Townley really believe this ? Does he, after his own admissions respecting his ignorance of the nature of soul, his doubts as to future punishment, and his pointed condemnation of hell torments, really believe that Universalism is the most baseless of religious theories ? (No shirking of this, my dear friend.) And if not, why quote Bush’s language, and stamp it with his approbation ? Besides, Mr. Townley knows that Mr. Bush is referring, in the words quoted, to the American system of Universalism, with which mine has scarcely any leading feature in common. Supposing, then, argumenti causa, that Mr. Bush may be right in what he says respecting the one system, does it thence follow that his remarks have any application whatever to the other? and is Mr. Townley justified in quoting them as he does, without the slightest intimation of the opposing nature of two theories which it answers his purpose for the moment to identify ? I bring no charge against my friend of “equivocating.” But I certainly appeal to his own conscience as to the correctness of the line of conduct which he has seen meet to pursue. Quoting Professor Bush, (still with approbation,) Mr. Townley says, “moral character must necessarily be the basis of destiny. 1 Moral character, a life and conversation becoming the gospel, it is the high privilege of every child of God to cultivate and exhibit.” But pardon me, dear friend Townley, if I suggest, that the purpose which God purposed in himself before the world began, not the character of a creature, is the basis of destiny, or rather, destiny itself; and if I state that, until now, I had always understood, not moral character, but the divine righteousness of Jesus Christ, to be that in which guilty creatures stand perfect and accepted before God. *
Bush’s little anecdote is a very pleasant one. Its conclusiveness against Universalism no fleshly mind can dispute. Unfortunately, however, it labours under the slight disadvantage of virtually, if not expressly, contradicting our Lord and his apostles : the former of whom has declared that he came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance; Matt. ix. 13 ; that is, to make bad men good, for he himself gives the repentance ; Acts v. 31; see also John xii. 32; and one of the latter of whom, besides asserting that God who is just, is also the justifier of the ungodly, Rom. iii. 26, iv. 5, v. 6 8, proposes his own case, which was that of the salvation of the chief of sinners, of one who had been before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, a very bad man, who had been made a good one, as a pattern of the principles upon which Jesus Christ proceeds, in the salvation of other bad men similarly circumstanced with himself. 1 Tim. i. 13 16: see also 1 Tim. ii. 4, 6, iv. 10.*
In Note O, Mr. Townley thus expresses himself: “As this is the last time I shall have occasion to mention Mr. Bush’s work, I would beg again to suggest its perusal, as a startling objection to popular notions of the resurrection. The preface and introduction alone are worth the price of the volume.” This is high praise ; and, in as far as the abilities of the author are concerned, not higher than is deserved. Here, however, a most important question arises : Am I to understand my dear friend as expressing approbation of the doctrines laid down in the learned Professor’s preface and introduction? If so, I am pained to say, but a regard to truth compels me to do so, that a more startling exhibition of great talents devoted to the propagation of religious scepticism, and the inculcation of fleshly views of divine truth, it has scarcely ever fallen to my lot to encounter, than in the portions of Mr. Bush s work thus recommended. (Except, perhaps, in his Argument from Reason, most admirable as a mere piece of human ratiocination, but a most barefaced assault upon the self-sufficiency, and alone sufficiency, of divine revelation.) Passing over the preface, and confining myself to the introduction, I remark, that progression in the knowledge of the scriptures, abstractly considered, is a grand and glorious truth ; (strangely at variance, to be sure, with “a manifestation” of truth which “denies all progression and change,” such as is that contended for by Mr. Townley;) but progression in the knowledge of the scriptures, like knowledge of them at all, is confined to the members of the election of God. For divine knowledge in flesh, as it never has belonged to, so it never was intended to belong to the mere men of the world. See the commencements of most of Paul’s Epistles : see particularly the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Therefore, while progression in divine knowledge is with me a fundamental principle, I contend for it as bestowed, not, as the Professor supposes, in consequence of our interrogating the scriptures, (after the fashion recommended, with reference to the physical sciences, in the Novum Organum,) but solely in consequence of their divine Author choosing to open up their meaning; not by means of active exertions put forth by those who make divine discoveries, but by means of God’s making himself known to such as passive recipients of his truth. God was to be sought for by the Old Testament house of Israel ; but the grand principle of his dealings with the members of his New Testament church is, that he is found of them who seek him not. Isaiah Ixv. 1, 2, Rom. x. 20, 21. The fact is, that God, in diametrical opposition to the Professor’s theory, sees meet to bless the poor; (those “minds of the lowest order,” at whose assent to the truth the worthy gentleman sneers, p. 50 ; see 1 Cor. i. 25 29;) while he sends the rich, the self-conceited Pharisees, German Rationalists, Tractarian Theologians, Hebrew Scholars, and Professors of Hermeneutics imposing their laws of interpretation (save the mark!) upon divine revelation, empty away. And while progression in divine knowledge is with me a fundamental principle, it is not such progression as consists in bending the infallible declarations of Jehovah to the theories of the sceptical, the scientific truly or falsely so called, and the deistical, (see the introduction, pp. 21 20,) but in the having opened up more and more, by Him who alone can do so, such views of the scriptures as by their beauty, harmony, truth, power, and glory, pour contempt more and more on all the boasted efforts and achievements of man ; bending science, as merely human, to their divine discoveries, and not in any way succumbing to the real or pretended discoveries of science. The whole shewing, that the same God who once puzzled the scribes and the wise men of this world, by that cross which was to them respectively a stumbling block and foolishness, I Cor. i. 17 25, iii. 18 20, is still, through his works of nature, which fleshly mind fancies it can thoroughly scan, puzzling all except those whom he condescends to instruct through his word. Yes ; I rejoice in the progressive discoveries made to me, and to those besides who know the truth, by God himself, through the instrumentality of the scriptures ; but not in the fancied discoveries made by scientific men, or by myself, at the expense of revelation. Dear Mr. Townley, look at the snare laid for you by such men as those whom you admire, and in certain respects justly admire. Entangled themselves in fleshly theories, what can they, except such theories, throw around others? Blind themselves, what result can follow to those who blindly entrust themselves to their guidance, except that both fall into the ditch ? If you can not see the snare laid for you, may that God who alone can, preserve you from it.*
Allow me again for a moment to travel out of Note D. In one of those sneering attacks [I at once assume your language, at the bottom of page 108 and top of page 109, as intended for me : indeed, it would argue sheer affectation on my part to dissemble my conviction that it is so.] upon the system of divine truth for which I am honoured to contend, [A system, by the way, from which you have borrowed many valuable, although unacknowledged hints. The want of acknowledging your obligations to it I bring not against you as any ground of accusation certainly. Supposing your procedure in this respect intentional, it is a mere matter of taste on your part. But it is just as likely that your omission may be unintentional. Dr. Lee, Messrs. Roe, Wilkinson, Stark, and Bush, have such claims on you, that no wonder an obscurer individual should have been overlooked. Dear friend, it is extremely gratifying to me to find that I have been able to render you any service.] attacks which, I am sorry to think, but too much abound in and disfigure your clever and ingenious book, you are pleased to represent me as “avowing belief in a future resurrection of dust”; and what you mean by “a resurrection of dust” is denned by yourself, at page 123, to be “a repetition of bodily life ” : therefore about this matter there can be no mistake. Now, my dear friend, it is not my practice to charge any man with falsehood, when I can explain his language consistently with any other hypothesis. And if such be my practice in general, still less, where you are concerned, will my feelings towards you permit me to suppose for one instant that you could intentionally state what you knew to be untrue. Without any equivocation or reservation whatever, then, I acquit you of falsehood. But can I equally acquit you of carelessness ? Can I satisfy my own mind that you have always taken the pains requisite to inform yourself accurately on the subjects of which you venture to treat? Let the facts of the case speak. You say that I “believe in a resurrection of dust.” Instead of so doing, the sentiment which you ascribe to me happens to stand diametrically opposed to mine. I do not believe in a resurrection of dust ! I do not believe in any view which involves, through the death and resurrection of Christ, “a repetition of bodily life,” or a recurrence in any respect what ever to the state of things now existing ! Nearly twenty years have elapsed since I could be charged with holding any such notions ; and in the first part of my “Three Questions,” a work which I think you have read, the whole force of my reasonings is directed against them. To the same notions the whole scope of my “Divine Inversion” stands opposed. My view as to this subject is expressed in the language of the apostle : as we have borne the image of the earthy, Adam, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly, Christ Jesus ; 1 Cor. xv. 49 ; and he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal bodies, (not body, dear friend, but bodies,) by his Spirit that dwelleth in us. Rom. viii. 11. That is, what are now bodies of dust, or of flesh and blood, I rejoice to think are raised up and live for ever as spiritual and glorious bodies, fashioned like to the spiritual and glorified body of the Son of God. In a word, I repudiate entirely, as unscriptural, not on rational grounds, for with fleshly reason in divine things I have nothing to do, the idea of the resurrection of a body of dust. The view thus entertained by me, although you have perused pretty carefully several of my works, you appear hitherto to have overlooked ; a circumstance which has evidently betrayed you into confounding my sentiments on the subject with those of the general run of professors of religion, who do hold the resurrection of dust, or of a flesh and blood body, and along with that, of necessity, “a repetition” more or less of the present bodily life and state of things. Your present mistake, however, you will not commit again. That sense of candour which I am satisfied you possess, will prevent you from doing so. You will understand me as avowing, that as Christ’s personal body rose, so do our personal bodies rise likewise, a result essential to our complete conformity to him, as well as to our individual existence ; but you will understand me as avowing also, that what is now soulical or dust body is not raised again as such, but is raised as spiritual body, just as Christ’s was. You may not understand me. You may dislike my view. You may consider it as unscriptural. You may even feel disposed again to sneer at it. (Do, for your own sake, correct your sneering tendency, my dear friend.) But I think I know you too well to suppose that you will reiterate what I now tell you is incorrect, namely, that “I avow my belief in a future resurrection of dust.” A body of dust exists, and can only exist in time. It is only as clothed upon with spiritual body that our glorious Lord exists, and that any one can exist, throughout eternity. 1 Cor. xv. 42-49.
The grand reason of my friend’s dislike to my views, and what I perceive has drawn down upon me the expressions of asperity which occur in his work, is evidently my leading proposition, that there is progression in the knowledge of divine truth now, in consequence of an increased and increasing opening up of the meaning of the scriptures, to his chosen ones, by their divine author. This is at variance with the Salemite theory. And also with Mr. Townley’s dogma, of the present existence of “a manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change.” Opposition to my statement, at whatever cost, followed, therefore, as a matter of course. How pleasant in matters of controversy is it, after one has been subjected to the saying of smart, and even bitter things, which can break no bones, to find one’s main proposition supported, nay, even contended for, by one’s antagonist! Remarkably is this the case with my friend Mr. Townley. Not withstanding “the completeness of” his “manifestation,” he is still so much at a loss respecting “soul,” and some other points, that he is desirous to have the full and complete “manifestation, which denies all progression and change,” yet farther completed to his own mind. That is, he is waiting for farther “progression,” and consequently “change in the manifestation,” to himself ! This is certainly very good. But it is not all. Progressive advancement in divine knowledge is actually by the denier of all such progression asserted as a principle ! In his work itself he says, “In proportion as it,” (our interpretation, or our system, or our knowledge of the Bible, the last I think,) “is seen and embraced, it corrects any tendency,” &c. Page 5. Nay, not only so, but at page 7, we find him using the following strong language : “And then, moreover, with respect to the supposed non-ability of interpreting every scripture in favour, which appears to make against us, may we not be allowed to ask, if it is not quite as possible that the revelation of the infinite God should not yet be exhausted in a way of discovery of its glories, just as it is possible that the same should be the case in natural things” ? A very proper question, my dear friend. And, by all who know the truth, falling to be answered, as it is your intention it should be, in the affirmative. Many, many are the years during which I have been contending for this glorious principle, that the creature hath not exhausted, and cannot exhaust, the infinite manifestation of the Creator ; [See especially the Seventh Section of my “Divine Inversion,” as well as my “Why is Popery Progressing ? ” and my “Preface to Barclay,” and other productions.] and John Barclay, as I think you are aware, did the same thing before me. Many, many are the years during which I have been opposing this principle to the fixed humanly devised creeds of theologians. Happy am I to hail you now as a coadjutor in this one of my grand objects. Still the question arises : How can Mr. Townley hold this principle of progressive divine manifestation consistently with his avowal of the existence of “a manifestation full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change”? The true answer, I suspect, is this, that Mr. Townley hitherto has neither understood me nor himself. Like him, I contend for revelation, in so far as the fact of committing it to writing is concerned, having been “full, complete, perfect, and conclusive, denying all progression and change,” (nay, pronouncing a curse upon him who should add to it, see Rev. xxii. 18, language inconsistent with Dr. Tilloch’s scheme, [In so far as it makes the Book of Revelation the first written.]) previous to the period of Jerusalem’s destruction. (Query — In attacking me, would not perfect candour have dictated the making of this known ?) And it now appears by his own admissions that, like him, I contend for this same revelation, complete as to the writing of its words, being susceptible of gradual and progressive opening up to the children of God, (or by whatever other name he chooses to designate those who know its meaning,) by its divine Author. Wherein, then, friend Townley, as to this point, do we differ ? And if agreed, what becomes of your assertion, that God is now manifested fully, completely, and without the possibility of progression ? How can a manifestation which is progressive, as in your own case you admit it to be, nay, as you maintain it must be, be reconciled with “a manifestation which” somewhat inconsistently you maintain also “denies all progression and change ” ? Excuse me for being thus particular, my dear sir. Think over the matter again. “It is,” and “it is not,” must here be had recourse to.
“It is” objectively perfect ; “it is not” subjectively so, but capable of progressive manifestation to the mind ; is, to save circumlocution, and, when addressing those who understand the meaning of words, the way in which I should explain myself. And “it is not” progressive in some sense, but “it is ” progressive in some other, is what my friend Mr. Townley, do what he will, unless he choose to repudiate his own words altogether, will be constrained to say. What then become of the high-swelling pretensions of the Salemite system ? You may try to evade the conclusion upon which I am forcing you, by saying that the Bible is “a clear revelation to the church, no matter whether understood or not.” The second Advent a past event, page 29. That is, a book “is a revelation” which reveals nothing, and therefore is not a revelation. And that that ” is clear” which is clear to nobody. Again : “there they are, a revelation, no matter as to the ignorance or knowledge of that poor earth-worm man.” Page 90. In other words, that is “a revelation” which is no revelation. Do you expect me to refute this? Or, “that men would permit that the Bible should speak for itself!” Ibid. p. 26. By this am I to understand the power of man to comprehend the scriptures independently of the teaching of their divine Author ? If so, then what becomes of a separate number? why do not all comprehend them ? and why not avow yourself at once a Pelagian ? [Strongly tempted am I to doubt your entertaining correct and scriptural ideas on the subject of an elect number alone being taught the truth. The whole strain of your work is at variance with my supposing you clear as to that point. Besides, there are passages now and then occurring which seem to indicate the identity of your views with those of our liberal religionists. Such as, for instance, “If, on the other hand, our diagram plan is in its great principles correct; i. e., if the second advent of Christ has taken place, and if this doctrine should once seize upon the minds of the people, what then ?” &c. The Second Advent, &c. p. 136. What is really divine never was calculated to seize on the minds of the people, and never will. Popular and fleshly dogmas, however, may. ] If not, then this is not the fulness of the all in all state, but merely a step in the progression towards it.
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