Paul Dean’s Lectures: the eighth lecture

This is the eighth of the lectures in Paul Dean’s 1832 A Course of Lectures in Defence of the Final Restoration, an homage to celebrate the Universalist minister’s 240th birthday.

The numbers in brackets are the beginning of the page in the original.





Revelation is the greatest and richest of blessings to man. It discloses the perfections of Deity, and the designs of his government; it opens to our view the felicities of Eternity, and shows us the way to attain them; and teaches us to aspire to Heaven as our destined home. Compared with these treasures, what are the riches, the honors, or the pleasures of this short and changeful life?

[139] But that which adds to the scriptures their greatest value to us as sinners, is the spirit of promise and grace which runs through the sacred volume, from the beginning to the end, as a vein of the richest gold, offering divine aid and success to those who seek the heavenly inheritance. These precious promises all flow through one only medium, the Lord Jesus Christ; for out of him there are no promises of salvation. The spirit and design of all the promises is therefore, to set forth the the riches of grace in Christ for penitent sinners, the treasures of glory he has prepared for them, and the blessed rewards he will confer upon their obedience and fidelity, as followers and friends; and thus to endear to men the goodness of Him who sent his son to be the saviour of the world, and thus to encourage them in the practice of virtue and filial piety.

When, however, we connect the several parts of Christianity, its doctrines, histories, precepts, promises, and warnings, as a whole, it is a most perfect system of promises — one great promise, embracing whatever could reasonably restrain our propensities to evil, and check the vicious in their rash career to wretchedness — whatever could conduce, to the temporal, spiritual, and eternal happiness of men, individually and collectively. Hence, all parts of the Bible are to be considered in connection with the promises of salvation by a Re-[140]deemer, and as necessary to their perfect accomplishment; nothing therefore, as designed by the Holy Spirit, is against the promises, but all the scriptures “are yea” and “amen” to the glory of God,” by the preaching of the gospel.

For this doctrine we have the authority of St. Paul, saying “Is the law against the promises of God? God forbid.” According to this authority, the promises take the lead in the sacred writings, expressing the great designs of their Beneficent Author; and hence all the requirements, warnings, and denunciations therein contained, must in their ultimate design and tendency, perfectly harmonize with them; so that the whole word of God, may, in the comprehensive language of the angel, be declared “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

From this perfect harmony of the scriptures, it follows, that all punishments therein denounced upon the wicked, must be intended to reform the transgressor, and thereby fit him to be partaker of the promises; so that the threatenings may all be fully accomplished, and yet the promises all be realised; nay more, they are in the plan of infinite wisdom and grace, necessary as preparatives, for the fulfilment of the promises. There is an indescribable beauty seen, by viewing the scriptures in this pleasing light; for the doctrines explain the grounds, nature and import of the promises; [141] the threatenings warn us of the evils of sin, and awaken us to a sense of our need of the blessings promised by the gospel; and the precepts teach us how to obtain and enjoy the rich promises of grace here, and of glory hereafter.

The benefits resulting from this glorious system of promises, through one gracious Mediator, can be received only by faith — faith in Christ, faith in the promises, and not in the promises only, but also in the precepts and threatenings with which the sacred volume abounds; for all parts of the scripture being necessary to salvation, faith in all those parts, must be necessary to a saving faith. Without this faith, the promises, however great and glorious they may be, can have no power to comfort, strengthen or encourage us. They remain to us a dead letter, a mere nullity, till they are received as sacred and revealed truth. But when so received, they become “the power of God unto salvation.”

As well might we expect to enjoy the light of the sun in the firmament without eyes, as to possess the promised blessings of grace without faith. This faith in revelation, is not only a source of consolation to the afflicted, and a powerful support to the soul when the heart and the flesh are failing at the approach of death; but it is also the most powerful spring to virtue and piety. Who would begin to build, if he had no faith he should [142] be able to finish? What husbandman would feel courage in the spring, to go forth to the fields and cast in the appointed seed, protect and watch its growth with such interest and patience, were it not for his faith that in the harvest he should reap an abundant reward for his care and toil? Or what disciple could have felt the courage to follow his blessed Saviour through evil as well as good report, submit to the loss of all things, and to death itself, had he not believed his Lord, according to promise, would be with him always, make him more than a conquerer over death, and give to him a crown of everlasting life?

Having thus attempted to show the unity of the promises, the harmony of the promises with the other parts and doctrines of the scriptures, and the necessity of faith in them; let us now inquire whether God has promised in his word, the universal restoration, i.e. in the fulness of times, to subdue each of the human race to perfect obedience, and to bring them to be genuine christians in temper, spirit, and feeling; and thus make them heirs of his everlasting kingdom? Which if we succeed to do, it will then be proved that all the scriptures support the doctrine, and that faith in it is necessary to salvation.

For the purpose of this inquiry, we may divide the promises into those which declare the divine purpose to remove the sources of evil, or the [143] obstructions in the way of human happiness; and secondly, those that describe the good he will confer.

The general and special sources of human misery are sin, sorrow and death. Sin is the general source of all sufferings; although sorrow and death are second causes of great anguish and pain in the world. Were men to be separated from sin, they would be free from death, sorrow, and every cause of human disquiet. And if they were exempt from death, and the other causes of grief they would also be free from the dominion and influences of sin. Now the first class of the promises to which we have alluded, very plainly announces the destruction of all these sources of human wo. As, 1st. of sin. St. John i. 29. “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” Daniel ix. 24. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” St. Matt. i. 21. “Thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.” 1 John ii. 2. “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Heb. ix. 26. “Now once, in the end of the world, hath he appeared to put away sin, by [144] the sacrifice of himself.” Phil. ii. 10, 11. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 1. Cor. xv. 25. “For he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet.” These promises of God show in the clearest manner, that it is the divine purpose, and the office of Christ, to restrain transgression, make an end of sin offerings, as offered by the law, which he did, by becoming the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world; that he will save his people, not only believers, but the whole world from their sins; and that he will make an end of rebellion, bring every creature to bow to his authority, in heaven, in the earth, and under the earth, and also to abandon their infidelity, confess him Lord and Saviour, so that in the universe there will not be found one single enemy to Jesus, one despiser of his gospel, or one sinner before God. Such are the promises. Do they not plainly declare that sin shall be separated from the hearts and lives of the whole intelligent creation; and so forever be destroyed and borne away?

2. Another great source of sufferings, which God has promised to remove, is death; see Isaiah xxv. 8. “He will swallow up death in victory.” Hosea xiii. 14. “I will ransom them from the [145] power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction; repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” 1. Cor. xv. 26, 54. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?” Revelations xxi. 4. “And there shall be no more death.” According to these passages, God has most solemnly promised, to overcome and conquer death, ransom its subjects, and destroy the place of its dominion; so that nothing, bearing the name or having the properties of death, shall be found any more. Let it be here noted, that while one of the human race remains subject to death, temporal or spiritual, the saints will never be able to sing in shouts of triumph, O death! where is thy sting? O grave! (hell) where is thy victory? But that they will have such a glorious victory to sing, who can doubt? Since God will hide repentance, or change of purpose, from his eyes, till it be accomplished; and St. Paul has assured us, that, “As in Adam all die, even so, in Christ shall all be made alive.”

3. The last source and proof of misery among men, now to be mentioned, which God has promis-[146]ed to take away from the world, is that of sorrow, grief, despair. The following are the promises referred to; Isaiah, xxv. 8. “The Lord will wipe away tears from off all faces.” Revelation xxi. 4. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” These, with many other passages of like import, prove most conclusively, first, that God will wipe tears from off all faces; second, that he will wipe all tears from each face. And third, that there shall be no more weeping; for all the causes of grief will have passed away.

Therefore, by this class of the promises, God has given us the strongest assurance that he will, by the agency and grace of Jesus Christ, take away the sins of the whole world, making an end of its dominion over the human mind; that he will destroy death, release all that have been, are, or shall be subject to its power, and bring all weeping, grief and sorrow to a final end.

Having thus noticed the promises which speak of the destruction of sin and misery; we now come to those that confer happiness. Of this class are 1. The great leading covenant promise made of God to Abraham. When God called Abraham to leave his country and kindred, he gave him several great promises, and concluded with these gracious words, [147] “And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” See Gen. xii. 1, 2, 3. And after he had passed the trial of offering up his son, it pleased Jehovah to confirm these promises by an oath, saying, “By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: in blessing 1 will bless thee,” &c. “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Gen. xxii. 15, 18. This same glorious promise was renewed to Isaac, in these words, “And I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father, &c. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, &c. Gen. xxvi. 3, 4. 5. And the same was confirmed unto Jacob, in nearly the same language,”And in thee, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. xxviii. 14.

This glorious promise, the apostle calls the gospel preached by Jehovah, see Gal. iii. 8. “And the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.” “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made: he saith not, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Ver. 16.

Surely, all nations, families, and kindreds of [148] the earth, intend mankind without any exception; and they all are to be blessed in Christ, with the gospel blessings of justification and life eternal, according to St. Paul’s commentary of this promise of God made to the fathers: which is the foundation of the gospel, and the only ground of the faith delivered to the saints.

2. Those which proclaim the universal spread of the gospel, see Isaiah xlv. 23. “I have sworn by myself, the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear.” “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” “For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. Isaiah lv. 10, 11. Heb. viii. 10, 11.

[149] These scripture promises not only assert that the gospel which God sent into all the world, and commanded to be proclaimed to every creature, will universally prevail; but also that it will be written in the hearts of all men, from the least to the greatest, producing a most hearty and willing subjection to the divine will, and effecting all the purposes of its revelation.

3. Those which describe the extent of the Messiah’s kingdom and reign. Psalm ii. 7, 8. “I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me, thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, and nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great [150] voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.” “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth , and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Dan. vii. 13, 14, 27. Rev. xi. 15. Eph. iv. 10, 11, 12, 13. Phil. ii. 9, 10 11.

These prophetic promises, (for so we view them) give assurance that the kingdom of Christ will continue its growth, until it em I races in its bosom all people, nations, and kingdoms of this world not only, but all who have passed to the world of spirits, each being of one faith, and perfect in Christ, so that he will be reverenced and admired as King of Kings, and Lord of the [151] * . What a glorious dominion will that be, which our Lord will extend over all men in this, and a future world, as his redeemed, willing, and happy subjects, bound to him by perfect love and gratitude.

4. Those which contrast evil with good, showing that the latter will greatly surpass the former; that the good, by Christ, will more than balance the evils, by Adam. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1. Cor. xv. 21, 22. “Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift hath come upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin had reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” Rom. v. 12, 18, 19,20, 21. and viii.21.

[152] Here we have the apostle’s contrast of death by Adam, with the resurrection by Christ — of condemnation for sin, with justification by grace — of sin, with righteousness — of the limited reign of misery, with the endless reign of happiness — of the bondage of corruption, with the glorious liberty of the sons of God — and of the number that sinned, with the number that shall be saved. And what is the result of this contrast? Answer, this is the result; the same persons that die in Adam are to be made alive in Christ; the same persons that are made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, will be justified by the obedience of Jesus Christ; and all who groan in the bondage of corruption, will possess the glorious liberty of the sons of God. What a glorious and universal restoration is here promised of the whole sinful, suffering, and dying race of Adam! A restoration to life, purity, joy, and glory; wherein grace shall abound beyond the reign of sin, and righteousness extend its dominion beyond the power of death, in an eternity of bliss and glory.

We now ask what evils do exist in the universe that God has not promised to destroy? What good that can be imagined for the human race, is there, that God has not promised to bestow?

Now for the confirmation of our faith, and the encouragement of our obedience, let us notice that the promises of God, on each of the above men[153]tioned subjects, lead us to the same conclusion; and each in their result, perfectly sustain the final restitution of the whole human race. For if the sin of the world be separated from it, and taken away; then the world must be holy and happy; if death be destroyed, all must have life eternal; if all tears be wiped from all faces, then perfect joy must be the portion of each; if every man of every nation be blessed and justified in Christ, the seed of Abraham, then guilt and sufferings must cease forever; if the true gospel and kingdom of Christ prevail over the whole earth and be written in every heart, and not only this, but if every knee “of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth,” shall bow to Christ, and every tongue confess him to be Lord to the glory of God the Father; then must the restoration to perfection and felicity be strictly universal, and the reign of righteousness extend infinitely beyond that of sin, misery, and death. Not only do all the promises but every part of the scriptures, even the threatenings and judgments of God, according to this plan, promote the cause of righteousness and salvation. What a foundation is here laid for our faith, hope and consolation; what gentle cords of love draw us to the obedience of him, in whom are all the promises of grace and of glory; what a rational and filial fear restrains us from the love of sin; and what a light spreads itself over the sa-[154]cred pages, reconciling them in the most perfect harmony?

Thy judgments, O God, are right; and thy promises full of mercy. What thou dost prohibit in thy wisdom, that help us to shun; and what thou hast promised, O help us to believe with the heart, and obey that our souls may take hold on eternal life. Let the moral universe experience the blessed fruition of all thy promises; and to thy name be the glory, in Christ Jesus, amen and amen.

One Reply to “Paul Dean’s Lectures: the eighth lecture”

  1. It’s a pity that Dean’s writings haven’t had more of a look from people. Although I do remember seeing a copy of his writings in the library for Earlham College. I remember the reference to South Carolina, and his shocking title of bishop.

    I wonder if instead of putting him in competition with Hosea Ballou, if the two were better read in parallel.

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