Paul Dean’s Lectures: the tenth and final lecture

This is the tenth and last 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.





This evening, we propose to finish the present course of lectures by presenting to your consideration the arguments in favor of the Universal Restoration, deduced from the nature of man, and [174] the scriptural character of future happiness; introductory to which, it is proper to notice some leading facts on the subject, stated in the text.

First. That the will, purpose, and pleasure of God, on the great subject of man’s redemption and destiny, are precisely the same; it is therefore no less his will, purpose, or decree, that every rational creature should sincerely repent, believe and obey the gospel, than it is his desire, and good pleasure, that they should so do and be saved.

Second. That it is the great object of Jehovah to subdue and unite under one spiritual ruler and head, even Christ, all the nations, and kindreds of men; that they henceforth should forever enjoy his protection and favor, and be pure and happy in his service.

Third. That there is a set time when this great purpose of the Lord shall be accomplished, i. e. “the dispensation of the fulness of times;” and hence we may not expect it previous to that time, nor doubt of its being then accomplished.

Fourth. That the kingdom of Christ, when perfected and united, will comprise all the inhabitants of earth and heaven; so that not only all men and all angels will be under the dominion of Christ Jesus, their Lord and our’s, but they will be gathered together, and united in their character and service — not separated.

[175] On this subject, the best commentators agree that it is the glorious purpose of God to unite the Jews and Gentiles in the love and service of his son, Jesus Christ; to assemble the living and the dead in a future life of blessedness; and to gather the multitude of angels and the vast company of the redeemed, mutually to enjoy his kingdom, and forever to celebrate his praise!

What a blessed union will this be! What a glorious gathering of souls to Christ! The time of it, although future, will certainly come; for the scriptures assert in a very distinct manner, that Jesus must reign, till he hath subdued all things unto himself. And when this is done, but not before, he will resign the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all.

This doctrine of God’s will to unite all men and angels in Christ, at the close of his dispensations towards them, is, in the text, called a mystery; but it is said to be such, only in reference to the time previous to its being fully revealed; for since its revelation, it is capable of being clearly understood, and is supported by the most satisfactory scripture proofs, as well as from the nature of man, and his final state of happiness.

What proof then, does this proposition derive from the nature and character of man?

In answering this inquiry, it must not be expected that we shall enter upon a detailed and phi-[176]losophical investigation of human nature. It will be necessary only to call the attention to some general traits of character, belonging to the human race, in common with each other, to show that it is reasonable and scriptural that they should collectively as well as individually, be gathered to the same state of happiness; and these we shall learn from the holy scriptures themselves.

Man was distinguished in his creation from the from the whole animal race around him, by being made in the “image of God;” by being formed last, and therefore, the most perfect in body, mind, and affections; and by being placed over the other works of God. The care of the garden in which he was placed, and his dominion over all living on the earth and in the sea, liken him in his office and station, to the Supreme Governor of the universe. Let it be noted that this dominion is a joint dominion; for, it is not true, to much extent, that any man individually has it: but associated, he holds it with ease. Hence the honor and advantages of it, belong to all as sharers. It is not so much the sway of physical as of mental power; because reason and intelligence are the properties of the immortal soul, and not of the body. The soul is the seat of virtue, reason and skill; and its influence and dominion are given, directed, and restrained by its Maker. It governs the body, in which it is placed, in a most wonderful manner, [177] directing its energies and restraining its propensities, at its own will. And, by employing the body as its instrument, and by other means within its command, it governs the animal creation, traverses and subdues the earth, navigates the seas and gathers their treasure; it erects governments, establishes commerce, and cultivates the arts and sciences; it erects cities, rears temples, and forms associations commensurate with earth itself. By it also he analyses the earth, the air, and the light; ascends to the heavens, names, numbers and classes the stars; looks on the far distant planets, traces their course in their mighty orbits, and reduces to system and harmony their vast and mazy movements in the immensity of space. And by faith, the soul explores a future and a higher world, lives a future life, ascends to the throne of its Maker, and lays up its treasure in heaven

Now when we consider these distinctions and powers possessed by the creature man — the peculiar notice taken of his creation by the angels of God, those elder sons of paradise, who, as morning stars and sons of the Highest, sang together and shouted for joy at the birth of the great progenitor of men — when we reflect upon the vastness, the variety and usefulness of every part of the creation placed under his control, and see that nothing was made in vain, is it reasonable to suppose that man, made for such dignity, and to confer such pro-[178]tection and happiness on all other creatures, should himself he unhappy? Here let it he remarked, that the happiness suited to the nature of man, is, like his dominion, a joint one; and to be perfectly happy, they must all he happy.

Again: The human family are one by nature; for God “hath made of one blood all nations of of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Therefore the national and other distinctions and differences, which exist among men, must all pass away, and one condition be finally assigned to them all, as most suited to their character as social beings — as the offspring of one earthly progenitor, from whom they derived their common nature, capacities, senses, desires, and aversions — and as best comporting with their responsibleness to one heavenly Father for the manner in which they employ their powers, and improve their means of happiness, individual and social. They possessed the earth, originally, as tenants in common, and are alike capable of living in every climate and region of it, and of finding there the comforts of life for their support; which shows that God is equally good to them as the inhabitants of this world, having made equal provision for their temporal happiness.

Further, mankind have equally apostatised from their Maker, and violated their obligations to him; “for all have sinned and come short of the glory [179] of God.” If therefore the purpose of the Lord be changed in regard to any, on account of sin, it must be equally changed in regard to all; for all have sinned. Nor is this all. One Saviour hath come down from heaven to live, suffer and die for their universal redemption; and if his mediation be sufficient to restore any part, consistently with their free agency, why is it not so for the restoration of the residue?

Now, seeing the whole posterity of Adam inherit his nature, his capacities, his obligations, and his guilt, by their descent from him, and by their adopting his character; it in justice follows that his destiny will be theirs; for if God created Adam for happiness, then he created all his descendants to share the same felicity; for they, in their nature, are but the first man extended. To say therefore that God made the first and great progenitor of mankind for misery, would be saying that he intended the whole race for the same end; which no one can admit for a moment.

Hence we infer from the unity of human nature, the joint dominion given to it over the works of God, the similarity of the capacities of men, their equal responsibility and guilt, and the equal means provided for their welfare, here and hereafter; that they will not be separated from each other in their final destination. This inference is supported by the consideration of the vast and in-[180]comprehensible capacities of the human intellect for improvement in knowledge, virtue, and the social principle; by its capacity for the service of men, and for communion with God; and by the actual proficiency which has been made in science, devotion, and philanthropy, by such persons as Newton, Fenelon, Howard, and many others. The principles which governed these men in their illustrious course, are capable of being brought to act on all human minds as a stimulent leading them to emulate the bright examples of their distinguished lives. And to what heights of refinement, knowledge and sympathy, is not the human mind capable of being advanced by the means of grace and the power of God? Will the All-Wise Creator, then, suffer such capacities to be forever lost to himself, to their possessors, and to the world? Surely not. For God himself hath proclaimed his solemn purpose to bring them to be perfect, to be one in Christ — to be one in heaven. Eph. i. 10; iv. 13. Rev. v. 13. If such be not the purpose of God, why are all men called to the practice of virtue, and to seek a state of glory? Why are we required to offer prayers for all, and to practice universal benevolence? Why did Jesus give himself a ransom for all; send his gospel to every creature; and promise the outpouring of the holy spirit upon all flesh? Do not these things, which are admitted by all christians, show clearly that it [181] is the plan and counsel of the Lord, to bring all his rational creatures, as a united family, to glorify his name, and to enjoy his kingdom forever?

Second. Let us inquire into the proofs of this sentiment, afforded by the nature and character of the happiness of the redeemed, as described in the holy scriptures. It will be kept in mind that the question under discussion is this, viz. whether the final happiness of mankind will be universal, or extend only to a part. In seeking the evidence of its universality, we may first notice some things in regard to the nature of heavenly felicity; which we shall attempt with a reverence befitting its sacred character.

Heaven is a pure, spiritual and happy state of the perfected souls and bodies of the redeemed; immortal, sanctified and forever delivered from all suffering and death, and blessed with the beatific vision of God, of Christ, and of angels — with a view of the unfolded mysteries of eternity, the glories of redemption, and the joy of saints — an enchanting sense of the divine favor, and of an overflowing gratitude for the unutterable grace which pitied and redeemed them, with the happy assurance of the endless perpetuity of all their bliss. It is not local, that is, its inhabitants do not derive their happiness wholly from the place, but principally from the moral and reconciled state of the soul — from a holy communion with God, and a sacred regard to each [182] other as fellow heirs of glory. Hence the idea that men can go there by means of any physical change, such as death or the resurrection, without any mental preparation or renewal of heart, is most visionary and unfounded. That, however, there is in the universe a place where God will make special manifestations of his glory; where the saints will be gathered and united with the holy angels; and where there will be appropriate and refined pleasures, suited to the spiritualised senses of the immortal body, and that this place is properly called heaven, is most likely.

There is in the scriptures a great variety of imagery employed to set forth the nature and felicity of this heavenly state. It is compared to a country, abounding with health, peace, plenty, safety and righteousness; — -whose rivers are pure, and whose trees are ever blooming and yielding their fruit every month; — whose mountains are brought low, and whose valies are exalted, making one vast beautiful plain, beneath a glory far surpassing the brightness of the sun in his strength. To this “better country,” the inhabitants of every region shall triumphantly and joyfully come to sit down “with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,” and share with them its happy society, and its blisful scenes.

Again, it is likened to a kingdom, whose king is most wise, powerful and good; whose laws are most righteous, holy and equal; whose subjects are [183] the most united, secure, loyal, and happy. A kingdom which will swallow up the glory of all other kingdoms in its growth and grandeur, and surpass all other dominions in the perpetuity of its reign, and the eternity of its prosperity and splendor. To a city, with pearly gates and golden streets, — beautiful squares, and rich dwellings; living fountains and righteous citizens. To a house eternal in the heavens, with spacious mansions, and sure foundations. To a rich and splendid feast, attended by numerous, intelligent, and congenial guests. To a family of heavenly descent, divine parentage, rich inheritance, and numerous members, gathered from earth and heaven, to dwell together forever in the sweetest communion of fellowship and love. And to a chorus of celestial praise to God and the Lamb, in which every creature in the universe are performers on the golden harps of eternity, each contributing his share to the harmony and to the happiness of all.

What is the principle that runs through all these images of future happiness? Is it not that of association or the combining of many in one body? It requires many people to make a great and happy nation — many subjects to make a powerful and prosperous kingdom, and many citizens to compose a city of distinguished advantages. The same principle holds true in the case of an assembly, a family, or a concert of praise. Men individually [184] can perform or enjoy but little; but when associated in a proper manner, they can perform wonders, and produce surprising sensations of pleasure and happiness. Human nature is decidedly social, being formed to live in families, cities, and kingdoms; but ultimately to be united in one universal empire of peace and joy.

Another principle observable in the above images of happiness, is that of unity in the character, feelings and views of those who are associated, in order to their individual or social welfare and pleasure. For, “how can two walk together except they be agreed?” But when all men “shall be of one heart and of one mind,” and “see eye to eye;” then shall the knowledge and glory of the Lord fill the earth “as the waters cover the sea.”

The happiness of heaven therefore, like the happiness of the present world, is social, and to be perfect, must be mutual, and to be mutual, all who share it must have the same qualifications. If then holiness be necessary to heaven, all who are admitted there, must possess it; and if they are equally happy, must be equally holy. If repentance and faith be prerequisites to holiness, then those who leave this world in unbelief and impenitence, are unholy and unprepared for heaven. Yet the felicity of heaven, to be perfect, must be universal, and hence those that are not prepared in this life, must be qualified for it in another and fu-[185]ture, i. e. an intermediate state. And for this purpose, the means of grace and repentance must as necessarily extend through the intermediate state, and the age of judgment, as does the kingdom of Christ, who “is Lord” and Ruler “of the dead and living,” to whom all that die in unbelief must bow, according as we have shown in a previous lecture. To illustrate the social nature of happiness, we may look at the descriptions of it, given above. Take for instance, that given under the idea of a family. The happiness of a family is strictly social and reciprocal; for if “one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it,” so that no one liveth or dieth to himself, but each liveth for the good of the others. This agrees perfectly with our experience; for while one parent, brother or sister of an affectionate family be sick, or suffers greatly in body or mind, every member shares the calamity. The same principle holds good in the case of a city; if sickness and pestilence prevail; if poverty and want oppress; if vice and irreligion spread corruption among the youth, every citizen participates in the evil, and sympathises with the immediate sufferers. And it becomes more and more so, as the citizens become refined in their feelings, and improved in the religious, moral and social virtues of the heart. The lively [186] and sincere christian, shares much more largely in the tribulations around him, than does the hardened and scoffing infidel. The happiness of good men, therefore, in the present world, is severely taxed by the criminal and innocent sufferings which every where salute his eyes, and appeal to his heart. Were there in our favored city, for the year to come, to be no sickness, death, mourning — no intemperance, fraud, lasciviousness — no malice, evil speaking, or contention — but were perfect benevolence, cheerfulness and plenty to be universal among us; would not the happiness of the best men, and sincerest christians, be much advanced from what it now is? Truly it would. But would it be as much so, if all the vicious were to be banished, as if they were to be reformed? Answer, O ye parents, who deplore the vices of some of your dear children; answer it, every good citizen. Yet were the vicious already out of it, how should we be shocked at the proposal to admit them into such a peaceful and happy association, without their being first separated from their destructive and pestilential vices! But if so prepared to add to our number and happiness, how joyfully should we hail their admission! “Even so there is joy among the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

These principles applied to the whole human race, prove that as a family or city, cannot be perperfectly blessed while any of its members are [187] separated from them, or are vicious and miserable with them; so no one of all mankind can be perfect in felicity, until all their number are perfected in Christ, and joined with them in the joys of heaven. Hence, the social character of heaven, as well as the unity and sympathy of human nature, prove that happiness must be universal; because otherwise it cannot be perfect, neither in degree, nor extent.

Now he that wills the perfection of human felicity, will surely so refine the hearts of all his ransomed children, by his grace; so quicken and expand their sympathies by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit; and so enlarge their understandings and views by the light of the gospel, as that they shall look upon all people as their brethren, love them as they do their own souls, and feel rising high in their sympathetic bosoms the raptures of heavenly joy at the safe arrival of each from the captivity of death and sin to the freedom of perfect rest in the paradise of God. And this noble sympathy, so completely resembling the compassion of Jesus who pitied a lost world and redeemed it by his ignominious and painful death, will be the source of the purest and sublimest pleasure, derived from the happiness of others; but which, should one of the vast fraternity of the human race fail of gaining it, would fill heaven with weeping at the distant sound of his hopeless wailings in endless despair.

[188] But, I forbear — Christ having wept over a fallen world in the arms of death; God will wipe tears from off all faces, that the followers of the Lamb may henceforth forever “rejoice with them that do rejoice.” Here no mother will lament a daughter lost; no father grieve over the ruin of a prodigal son. Here every soul will have felt the evil of sin, its need of a Saviour, and its obligations to divine grace; it will have passed the scenes of bitter repentance, stood before the judgment seat of Christ, plead guilty before God, sought and obtained pardon in the name of Jesus. Here each will wear the robes of a Saviour’s grace, and be crowned with a Saviour’s righteousness; and all be united in perfect love to God and each other, and in celebrating the fadeless glories of redemption.

This glorious restitution of all things, of which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began, is a result of the christian system devoutly to be desired. It will be the capstone of the moral and spiritual temple of virtue and glory; it will confer immortal honor and praise upon its divine founder and builder; and it will be the source of endless joy and blessedness to the redeemed. To it there are no well founded objections, as has been shown. The scriptural views of election — that all are chosen of God to aid in rearing it, and finally to enjoy it, are in its [189] favour; the condition and means of grace will all aid its completion; the punishments of the wicked being not endless but emendatory, will be its powerful support; and hence the genuine tendency of its prevalence in society, must be to check and remedy the spread of vice and irreligion, and to promote the triumph of virtue and piety among men. And not only this, but the united operation of all the attributes of God; the mission, works, and death of Christ; the united voice of revelation; the tendency of the moral precepts of the gospel; the nature of man, and the character of his future happiness, all join to establish it as the truth of God founded on the Rock of Ages.

This doctrine also establishes the certainty of a future, just and equitable punishment for those who die impenitent, and the gracious and salutary design of such a retribution; and therefore proves most conclusively and rationally that the doctrine of no future punishment on the one hand, and of endless misery on the other, are unscriptural and pernicious: the one releasing men from a suitable sense of their responsibility to God, and of their obligations to profess and obey the christian religion, and the other clothing the character of God and of Christianity with an inexorable severity, subversive of the grand design of God to gather together in one all things in Christ.

[190] To conclude, my beloved brethren, I now commend to your serious consideration and devout obedience, the doctrine of the restoration, as one most happily suited to make men truly religious without being superstitious; liberal and cheerful, without levity and skepticism; a doctrine equally necessary to the happiness of each, and one therefore in which all should feel an equal interest — against which there is no objection, and in favor of which, reason and revelation both unite — which, when it shall be accomplished, will perfect the will of God, and answer the prayers of his saints; exhibit the happy result of all the means of grace, and give to virtue and piety, their endless triumph; and thus fill the universe with the hallelujahs of salvation and glory to God and the Lamb, forever and ever, Amen.

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