Sweetser's Universalism Explained, part two

Universalists, like St. Paul, have a conception of God which necessitates a belief in the salvation of all men, especially in the salvation of those who believe in Him as He has revealed Himself to us in His Son Jesus Christ.

They believe, first of all, that there is one God, and only one; that He is a living, personal, spiritual Being, the Infinite Spirit, filling all space with His invisible presence, self-existent and unchangeable, without beginning or end. They believe that He is the Creator of the material universe, and, either directly or indirectly, of everything that it contains; that without Him there was nothing that is made; that it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves nor any other creator; that all men are His creatures, that He is the author of their existence, and that in Him alone they live and move and have their being.

They believe, moreover, that He is a Being of infinite wisdom, infinite justice, and infinite power — that from His knowledge thre is nothing hid, that He sees the end of all things from the beginning thereof, that as the Judge of all the earth He will always do right, and that nothing can prevent Him form fulfilling His purposes. In short, they believe in His Divine Sovereignty, supreme over all things; and they therefore do not believe that any amount of free agency which He has given to any one will enable that person to thwart the intention with which He created him. In this respect Universalists are in agreement with Calvinists. No Calvinist believes more firmly than Universalists do in the supremacy of God’s will, or in the certainty that His purposes will all be accomplished. It seems to them that a Being who was not thus supreme, but whose intentions could be thwarted and who surposes could be everlastingly nullified by any of his own creatures, would not be a perfect Deity, but very far short of it.

They believe, nevertheless, in the fact of human free agency. No Arminian believes in it more firmly than they. But they do not believe in it to such an extent as to contradict their belief in God’s superior agency. They believe that man’s free agency, while sufficient to give him a moral character and to make him morally sufficient to enable him to defeat the intention of the God who created him. They beleive that God’s wisdom and power are such that, without destroying man’s free will, He can accomplish the purpose for which He created him; that He can so influence the free will of His creatures as to cause them to choose in the end what He chooses.

If we can influence other people to do what we wish them to do, as we frequently can, not contradicting but using their free agency, much more can the Almighty do so; and the Bible distinctly asserts that He will. It says that “a man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9); that His people shall be willing in the day of His power (Ps. 110:3); and that although it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needlethan for some people to ender into the kingdom of heaven, yet God can accomplish their salvation, for with Him all things are possible. (Matt. 19:23-29). Universalists believe these statements. Believing in man’s moral freedom, they believe it is only a subordinate freedom, a derived and delegated freedom, which God can control and will control in accordance with His all-wise and omnipotent purpose which was formed before the world began.

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