("Universalist Belief," pages 90 - 95, by Asher Moore, 1846)
Once more, Paul is equally explicit in declaring the universal extent of the divine paternity, in Ephesians iv. 6, where he testifies that there is "one God and Father of all." We find nothing in the connection of this passage to limit its signification to any portion of the human race; but the nature of the subject plainly requires that it should be understood in the fullest sense. As certainly as "there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, "there is "one God and Father of all." This declaration is so plain and so manifestly expresses the universal paternity of the Supreme Being, that we can offer no comment, and none is needed to elucidate its meaning.
We are aware of the common opinion that the divine image has been lost in man by reason of sin. But upon what plausible grounds this opinion is founded we have never been informed. The Scriptures declare that man was created in the image of his Maker; but we have never been able to find the passage which declares that this image has ever been lost. James declared in his day that men were "made after the similitude of God." James iii. 9. If men had not ceased to be created in the image of God at that time, we should like to be informed when so great a misfortune befell our race.
But this talk about man having lost the divine image is unworthy of notice. As well might we say that man has ceased to be a man. If any one of our race is not, a child of God, that individual is perfectly free from all filial obligations to his Maker, and owes no more obedience than a beast. He is lost from our race, and holds no fraternal connection with the human family. But the absurdity of such a notion is too glaring to require formal confutation. And it would seem that no man who is at all conversant with the Scriptures, and who ever takes the pains to think, could harbor a supposition so meanly preposterous.
We may, however, be reminded of the fact that the Scriptures speak of some men as being children of the Devil. The fact is not denied; but we fear that it has been strangely misunderstood. Are we to suppose that an evil being has created, and preserves in existence, and supplies the wants of a part of the human race? Were the Jews who were called serpents and a generation of vipers, the actual children of a reptile? And was Judas who was called the son of perdition, really begotten of destruction? In all these things the relation is not real, but figurative. A child of the Devil is an evil and wicked person. The character exhibited is taken for the man himself. A generation of vipers means men full of cursing and bitterness-- with the poison of asps under their tongues, and their hearts filled with murder. And a son of perdition means one doomed to destruction. An actual child of God may in spirit and character be a child of hell. But whatever men may be in feeling and conduct--in the principles that govern their lives--and in the objects of pursuit that engage their attention, no fact is more positively affirmed in the Scriptures, than that there is "one God and Father of all."
When we reflect upon the nature of that relation which binds together earthly parents and their children, we are at once convinced that the relation which subsists between the immortal Father of spirits and the human race, is not the result of accident, or of any thing performed by man. Your children are bound to you by the ties of kindred before they know you, and whatever may be their character. There is a natural relationship subsisting between father and child, which cannot be created by obedience, nor destroyed by disobedience. If we are in reality the offspring of God, we are so before we know him; and whatever may be our sinful wanderings and unworthiness of character, we still bear the same relation. In feeling, and spirit, and character we may be the servants of sin and the children of Satan. But the ties of spiritual kindred that subsist between the Father of spirits and ourselves can never he dissolved; and if they were, it is certain that all our filial obligations would at once be destroyed. The relation of parent and child is not the result of adventitious circumstances. It exists independently of any peculiar, character in either party; and though they be estranged and know not each other, the parental and the filial relation still exist. And, indeed, we find that the Lord called to the Israelites, in their greatest sinfulness, saying, "Turn, 0 backsliding children."
Can we view the Deity as the "God and Father of all" mankind, and still suppose that there is a portion of our race to whom he bears no parental affection and love? Will he ever, under any conceivable circumstances, withdraw his fatherly goodness, and become hardened against any that were created in his image and bear his divine likeness? The good father provides for the wants of his children, and seeks to bless them; and though he may be strictly just in his discipline toward them, he still bestows upon them unnumbered favors that have never beet merited. He is kind to his offspring before they know him; and his love follows them through every scene of life even unto death. The wayward and disobedient are objects of his tender compassion; and be never ceases his efforts to reclaim them from the ways of folly and transgression, and to restore them to wisdom and peace. And the man who should become the foe of any of his children, and subject them to fierce curses without intending ever to do them any good, would forfeit the name and character of a parent, and stand before the world a monster in cruelty, and an object of universal execration and disgust! No matter what might be the ingratitude and vileness of his offspring; if he were to treat them with revenge or maliciousness, or abandon them to the worst imaginable fate, he would be not only unworthy the name of a parent, but a disgrace to humanity, and little less than a fiend incarnate! To impute such conduct to any man that breathes, would be the greatest indignity, and the worst injury that could be inflicted upon his character.
Shall we suppose that Gods parental love to the children of men, is less constant than that which an earthly parent cherishes for his offspring? Is it a thing to be lost or gained at pleasure by the fitful choice and uncertain efforts of man? Can God be the Father of men today and their foe tomorrow? Or, continuing the Father of all during all times and throughout eternity, will he contend forever and be always wroth against any of his offspring; and preserve them in existence merely that they may endure ceaseless and merciless torments? This is surely a serious charge to bring against that Being who is declared to be Love--who is good unto all--who is the God and Father of all--and who is without variableness or even the shadow of turning. Such an accusation should not be made on slight grounds; nor without the most weighty and irresistible reasons. If such be the character of God, alas! that the morn of creation ever dawned, or man ever derived the breath of life from the great Fountain of being!