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I TIMOTHY II. 4.
Who will have all men to be saved.
By some persons these words are supposed to prove, that none of mankind will suffer endless punishment. By others, they are brought to oppose important sentiments, which have been believed in every age of the church, by the most eminent saints. The text, then, is
highly interesting. And as it is often perverted, a consistent explanation of it is very desirable. The words of the text may, doubtless, mean that God absolutely intends to save some men of various nations, conditions and characters. And from the context, there is reason to believe, that in this sense the words are used by the apostle. But there is, probably, as much reason to believe that the apostle meant, in the text, to declare what God desires respecting the salvation of every man.
Taken in this sense, the words naturally suggest the following doctrine :
God desires the salvation of every human being
In the present discourse it is proposed, First, to explain this doctrine ; and, then, to prove it.
Let us, in the first place, consider what is meant, when it is said, that God desires the salvation of every human being.
1. It cannot mean that God designs that all mankind shall be saved.
All will be saved, if such be his intention. For God declares the end from the beginning,
Saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” “ He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth : and none can stay his hand.” It is very evident that the designs of God extend to every thing, and that all his designs will be accomplished. If, then, he intends that every one of mankind shall be saved, there is no reason to believe that any will be lost. But we must believe that many will be lost, unless we disbelieve a great number of the plain and decisive declarations of the holy scriptures. For it is written, “ The wicked shall be turned into hell with all the nations that forget God.” And again, “ He that being of
. ten reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy.” The Lord Jesus Christ says to sinners, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” He said to the unbelieving Jews, “ Ye shall die in your sins." And in the commission which he gave his apostles, he says, “ He that believeth not shall be damned.” It is also written, “ The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone ; which is the second death.” Some, however, pretend that there will, finally, be no persons of such characters as are here described, and threatened with future punishment.
But Christ says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that lcadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat.” Again, when one said unto
“ him, Lord, are there few, that be saved ? He said unto them, strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are : Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are ; depart from me all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust
From these declarations of the Lord Je. sus Christ, it is evident that many will be excluded from the kingdom of glory. And they, who are excluded, cannot be admitted at any future time. For Christ says to such an one, as shall be cast into hell, “Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." And again he says, “ If thy hand offend thee, cut it off ; it is better for thee to enter into life