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by Dr. John Thomas
He placed him under a law, which required belief of God's word and obedience.
He could obey, or disobey, as he pleased; he was "free to stand and free to fall".
He disbelieved God's word; he believed a he, and sinned.
Here was voluntary disobedience; hence, the opposite to this is made the principle of life namely, belief of whatsoever God saith, and voluntary obedience to His law.
This is the principle to which the world is reprobate; and to a conformity with which all men are invited, and urged by the motives presented in the scriptures; even all who would inherit the kingdom of God, and afterwards inhabit the earth for ever, on an equal footing with the angels of the universe.
The following testimonies will elucidate the principle of the divine economy.
"I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely; and he that overcometh shall inherit all things;" -- "Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and that they may enter through the gates into the city"; -- "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God"; -- "He shall not be hurt by the second death"; -- "To him that overcometh and keepeth my works to the end, I will give power over all nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron"; -- "If thou doest well thou shalt be accepted"; -- "These things are written that ye may believe, and that believing ye may have life through his name"; -- "As many as received Jesus, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name, which are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but which are born of God"; -- "Except a man be born of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"; -- "He that believes the gospel and is baptized shall be saved"; -- "God will render to every man according to his deeds; to them, who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality -- eternal life".
But of testimonies there is no end.
The law of the Lord is perfect, and without a single exception.
There are no "perhapses," or "maybes"; it is not "yea and nay, but Amen in Christ Jesus".
The only way to the kingdom of God, and to a participation in the eternal constitution of the world, is in the path of a faithful obedience to the law of God.
Now from these testimonies it is plain, that to attain the rank of the sons of God in the eternal world -- where, indeed, all are sons without exception -- human beings, without respect to age, sex, or condition, must believe and obey the truth; for "without faith it is impossible to please God".
This rule provides for no exceptions; but declares the principle without qualification.
If faith then be required, it is manifest that God designed to move men by motive, not by necessity -- but by intellectual and moral considerations.
Now the carrying out of this principle necessarily involves great loss of human, or animal life; for if virtue be the subject of reward, vice must also be of punishment.
Because, if vice were unrestrained, it would gain the ascendancy; eradicate virtue from among men as before the flood; and defeat the principle upon which it is proposed to effectuate the work, and thus destroy the original design.
The mere fact of dust, by the power of God expressed in creation and the physical laws, assuming the form of men, does not, therefore, entitle them to the glory of the Future Ages; or expose them to the alternative of damnation in eternal death.
These are doctrines predicated upon a moral, not a physical constitution of things.
The destiny of the animal world, and that of men, is physically the same; they are all under God's physical laws, and consequently have "no pre-eminence" the one over the other.
Man differs from other animals, as these differ from one another; and if his race attain to the angelic nature, which God designs it shall, it will not be because it is human, but because it is voluntarily obedient to His laws.
The peopling of the Future World upon this principle we have proved from the Word.
It is a principle which annihilates all human sophisms and traditions about "the salvation of all mankind"; the "predestination of some to salvation, and of others to damnation by a stern, inexorable necessity"; "physical regeneration before death"; "the disembodied existence of immortal souls in heaven or hell for ages before the resurrection"; the "damnation and salvation of infants, idiots, and pagans"; "purification by death and resurrection without previous remission" -- and much more unscriptural, irrational, and absurd jargon of the schools and systems of the age.
Universalism, a wide-spreading upas in the world, which teaches that all human beings, of whatever age or character, shall dwell with God eternally, is based upon a mistaken notion of God's purpose in the formation of the animal world.