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Justification and Kindred Subjects: Preface PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

The universe exhibits the power and wisdom of God.

No doubt God’s object in creation was to exercise and manifest his perfections. "All things that are in heaven and in earth, whether they be thrones or dominions, principalities or powers, all things were made by him, and for him." Universalists talk of and magnify the mercy of God, but seem to overlook the justice of God. The fact that Christ was put to death for men, shows that those men would have been justly exposed to death had he not suffered in their stead.

It occurs to me that if we deny the reasonableness of future punishment, we do so on the ground that we are not willing that God shall have a state of things in which his justice can be exhibited. Justice is the more important perfection of God: he says, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy." From this it appears he may withhold his MERCY and yet be God, but not so his JUSTICE. "Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne." It appears his throne could stand should he withhold his mercy, but not so of his "justice"; take that from him and his throne would fall.

The element of justice is essential to all human governments. A human government with universal mercy would be like a body without bones. A human government in which every punishment is DISCIPLINARY would be a failure.

There must, in all governments, human or divine, be a policy that honors the law, as well as that exhibits mercy. Let a human government adopt the policy that every criminal shall be forgiven, and that no one shall suffer but for his own improvement and civilization would die. Some respect must be had to the honor of law.

Among the nations of earth it is found that mercy can be shown in some degree, but not to an infinite degree, I mean not UNIVERSALLY, without destroying the very idea of government. And so when we contend that the mercy of God is not universal, we only contend that God’s government in this respect is like the best governments of earth. His mercy to his redeemed people, "endures forever," and will never terminate in time or eternity. But to contend that his mercy must needs be extended to all the race, is to lose sight of his justice and hold that this attribute of God must never be exhibited.

But the universe is an arena in which all the perfections of God are seen; his power is seen in the vastness of creation. The order and regulation of all the plants proclaim his power and wisdom. The earth, with its motions that occasion the seasons, making the seasons the proper length to mature vegetation for the sustenance of life; also its motion that occasions day and night, making them not so long as that animal and plant life would perish with cold at night, nor yet with heat by day; and yet making day and night long enough for the good of his creatures on earth; also in placing the sun a suitable distance from earth, and establishing an order of things that holds the sun in its place for thousands of years, for the good of man, and in an infinite variety of ways the Lord has shown his power in creation, and wisdom that cannot be comprehended, and throughout all his works, in the starry heavens above, or among his creatures of earth, we are met with evidences of infinite wisdom and power. So we behold all the perfections of God shining out in his works, his power and wisdom, and see his goodness to his creatures. Shall we not expect a state of things in which his justice shall be as well exhibited as his other attributes are and have been exhibited.

The words, "He that spared not his own Son," suggests to us a justice as inflexible as possible to conceive of and remind us that the justice of God will not be laid aside for his own Son. Every argument, that it is cruel in God to inflict future punishment, or too severe, or unreasonable, would be as good an argument that Christ himself should not be made to suffer, but "He spared not his own Son." This is an exhibition of his justice as truly as the future punishment of the finally impenitent. "He that spared not his own Son," suggests to us that our salvation can only come by a method that honors law, and removes guilt, and invests us with a righteousness as real and true as the law is spiritual and holy; it also suggests to us that if we should be lost eternally we would have no more arguments to make for ourselves than could have been made in favor of "sparing" Christ.

If one attribute of God may be spoken of as the highest, then his justice, we may say, should have that place.

Our souls in heaven will be as free from sin as his law requires them to be, and so we shall have a righteousness as pure and spotless as that which adorns our adorable Saviour. My object in these pages has been to present something of the method of grace in preparing poor guilty mortals to live in heaven itself.

May this be the sweet and eternal privilege of the unworthy writer of these pages, as well as that of the reader.

Affectionately,

J. H. Oliphant

Crawfordsville, Ind., Sept. 1, 1899.

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.