The Scripture doctrine of redemption, it is acknowledged, supposes that man, mean and little as he is in the scale of being, has occupied a peculiar portion of the Divine regard. It requires to be noticed, however, that the enemies of revelation, in order it should seem to give the greater force to their objection, diminish the importance of man, as a creature of God, beyond what its friends can admit. Though Mr. Paine expresses his “hope of happiness beyond this life,” and though some other deistical writers have admitted the immortality of the soul; yet this is more than others of them will allow. The hope of a future state, as we have seen, is objected to by many of them as a selfish principle; and others of them have attempted to hold it up to ridicule. But the immortality of man is a doctrine which redemption supposes; and if this be allowed, man is not so insignificant a being as they might wish to consider him. A being that possesses an immortal mind, a mind capable of increasing knowledge, and, consequently, of increasing happiness or misery, in an endless duration, cannot be insignificant. It is no exaggeration to say that the salvation of one soul, according to the Scriptural account of things, is of inconceivably greater moment than the temporal salvation of a nation, or of all the nations in the world for ten thousand ages. The eternal salvation, therefore, of a number of lost sinners, which no man can number, however it may be a matter of infinite condescension in the great Supreme to accomplish, is not an object for creatures, even the most exalted, to consider as of small account.
Having premised thus much, I shall proceed, in the first place, to offer a few observations in proof that there is nothing in the scripture doctrine of redemption which is inconsistent with the modern opinion of the magnitude of creation.
1. Let creation be as extensive as it may, and the number of worlds be multiplied to the utmost boundary to which imagination can reach, there is no proof that any of them, except men and angels, have apostatized from God. If our world be only a small province, so to speak, of God’s vast empire, there is reason to hope that it is the only part of it where sin has entered, except among the fallen angels, and that the endless myriads of intelligent beings, in other worlds, are all the hearty friends of virtue, of order, and of God.
If this be true, (and there is nothing in philosophy or divinity I believe to discredit it,) then Mr. Paine need not have supposed, if he could have suppressed the pleasure of the witticism, that the Son of God would have to travel from world to world in the character of a Redeemer.
2. Let creation be ever so extensive, there is nothing inconsistent with reason in supposing that some one particular part of it should be chosen out from the rest, as a theatre on which the great Author of all things would perform his most glorious works. Every empire that has been founded in this world has had some one particular spot where those actions were performed from which its glory has arisen. The glory of the Cæsars was founded on the event of a battle fought near a very inconsiderable city: and why might not this world, though less than “twenty-five thousand miles in circumference,” be chosen as the theatre on which God would bring about events that should fill his whole empire with glory and joy? It would be as reasonable to plead the insignificance of Actium or Agincourt, in objection to the competency of the victories there obtained (supposing them to have been on the side of righteousness) to fill the respective empires of Rome and Britain with glory, as that of our world to fill the whole empire of God with matter of joy and everlasting praise. The truth is, the comparative dimension of our world is of no account. If it be large enough for the accomplishment of events which are sufficient to occupy the minds of all intelligences, that is all that is required.
3. If any one part of God’s creation, rather than another, possessed a superior fitness to become a theatre on which he might display his glory, it should seem to be that part where the greatest efforts have been made to dishonour him. A rebellious province in an empire would be the fittest place in it to display the justice, goodness, and benignity of a government. Here would naturally be erected a banner of righteousness; here the war would be carried on; here pardons and punishments to different characters would be awarded; and here the honours of the government would be established on such a basis, that the remotest parts of the empire might hear and fear, and learn obedience. The part that is diseased, whether in the body natural or the body politic, is the part to which the remedy is directed. Let there be what number of worlds there may, full of intelligent creatures; yet if there be but one world which is guilty and miserable, thither will be directed the operations of mercy. The good shepherd of the sheep will leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and seek and save that which is lost.
4. The events brought to pass in this world, little and insignificant as it may be, are competent to fill all and every part of God’s dominions with everlasting and increasing joy. Mental enjoyment differs widely from corporeal: the bestowment of the one upon a great number of objects is necessarily attended with a division of it into parts, and those who receive a share of it diminish the quantity remaining for others that come after them; but not so the other. An intellectual object requires only to be known, and it is equally capable of affording enjoyment to a million as to an individual, to a world as to those, and to the whole universe, be it ever so extensive, as to a world If, as the Scriptures inform us, “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory; if there be enough in this mysterious transaction to fill with joy the hearts of all who believe it; if it be so interesting that the most exalted intelligences become comparatively indifferent to every other object, “desiring to look into it;” then is it sufficient to “fill all things,” and to exhibit the Divine glory “in all places of his dominion.”*
Fuller, A. G. (1988).”The Consistency of the of the Scripture Doctrine of Redemption with the Modern Opinion of the Magnitude of Creation,” Chapter V, in The Gospel Its Own Witness. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 2, pp. 86–88). Sprinkle Publications.