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read one word in the Bible about saving men from punishment in the future state. Jesus was anxious to save people from their sins, and their errors, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth. He was anxious to save the Jews from the awful judgments which were impending over them, and all the apostles partook of the same solicitude. Paul says, (Gal. i. 4,) that Jesus gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from " this present evil world.” The evils from which Jesus canie to save men are in this world, and for this reason he carne into this world to save them. We challenge those who believe in endless misery, to produce a single passage in which salvation from hell torments in the future state is spoken of. The Universalist feels a like solicitude, with that possessed by Christ and his apostles; and our heart's desire and prayer to God is,” that men may be brought to the knowledge of the truth. We have seen too often the dreadful effects resulting from endless misery, to be indifferent on this subject. We have known people grievously tormented with the fear of being cast off forever, so much so, that at times they have been actually insane ; and not a few cases of suicide have resulted from this
Universalists feel the dcepest solicitude to save men from these errors, and bring them to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.” Now, on the same principle on which our opposing brethren can account for the solicitude of Universalists, let them account for the solicitude of Christ and his apostles.
When we see the deep misery and heartfelt anguish which a sincere belief in the doctrine of endless torment occasions, the heart bleeds for the unhappy sufferers, and we pray God most earnestly that they may be saved from the influence of such a faith. We have deep solicitude for the salvation of such persons from the “ fear that hath torment,” 1 John iv. 18; and we desire that they may be brought to enjoy the same faith which the apostle Peter cherished when he said, “ believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of
glory," 1 Peter i. 8. He, certainly, could not have believed in eternal torments. The evils which have been produced by an unshaken faith in endless tornients, are absolutely indescribable. We will give one or two instances, but a large number must be omitted for a want of room.
We call the reader's attention to a paragraph in the sermon preached a few years since, hy Rev. Dr. Tenney, of Weathersfield, Connecticut, at the funeral of the late Dr. Austin, for many years pastor of the elder orthodox society in Worcester, Massachusetts. It shows, clearly and forcibly, the oppressive and unwholesome tendency of those views of the divine character and government, which Dr. Austin was well known to entertain. We publish the extract as a warning, - a solemn warning, --- and as a tangible and incontrovertible evidence, that there is no comfort nor solace to be derived from the doctrine of endless misery.
" But for the last three or four years, a thick and dark cloud has hung over the course, and enveloped in dismay the mind, of our revered friend. He lost nearly all hope of his own reconciliation to God and interest in the Redeemer. He sunk into a settled, deep, religious melancholy, which occasionally appeared in paroxysms of despair and horror. His bitter moanings were, at times, sufficient to wring with sympathetic anguish the most un feeling heart."
Dr. Austin for a long time before his death, was in a state little short of madness ; * and we do not see what is to hinder that effect in a man who sincerely believes in endless misery, and applies his doctrine to himself. The same remark may be made concerning the celebrated Dr. Bellamy, well known as an orthodox divine. Cowper, also, the beautiful poet, it is well known, more than once attempted to destroy his life through the influence of religious melancholy. “He was led into a deep consideration of his religious state; and, having imbibed the doctrine of election and reprobation, in its most appalling rigor, he was led to a very dismal state of apprehension. We are told, “ that the terror of eternal judgment overpowered and actually disordered his faculties; and he remained seven months in a continual expectation of being instantly plunged into eternal misery.”* Although he at times recovered from this dreadful depression, he at last sunk under it, being gradually worn out, and he expired upon his bed.
* See “Unitarian Advrcate," for July, 1831.
This subject brings to mind the exclamation of Saurin, the celebrated French divine. After having preached a long discourse in support of endless misery, he breaks out in the following touching peroration : “I sink! I sink under the awful weight of my subject; and I declare, when I see my friends, my relations, the people of my charge, this whole congregation ; when I think that I, that you, that we are all •threatened with these torments ; when I see in the lukewarmness of my devotions, in the languor of my love, in the levity of my resolutions and designs, the least evidence, though it be only presumptive, of my future misery, yet I find in the thought a mortal poison, which diffuseth itself into every period of my life, rendering society tiresome, nourishment insipid, pleasure disgustful, and life itself a cruel bitter. I cease to wonder, that the fear of hell hath made some mad and others melancholy.”
May we not, then, have " deep solicitude” that mankind may be delivered from a faith whose effects are so appalling?
V. “On this ground, I cannot account for the bitter opposition which the wicked exhibited to the preaching of Christ and his apostles. If in their preaching they advocated the doctrine that all will be saved, why did they meet with persecution and distress from wicked men' No one can tell."
If Christ and his apostles preached Universalism,
* See the new “ Encyclopedia Americana," art. Coroner, and Cow. per's " Private Correspondence with his most intimale friends, edited after the life by Haley, by his relative Johnson,"
the objector finds it difficult to account for the opposition with which they met. Now, we say, this is somewhat remarkable. Do not Universalists, now, preach the salvation of all mankind ? Certainly. And what sect is opposed wiih more bitterness than they? The very reason why Christ was opposed by wicked men, was, because he preached an impartial doctrine. Sellrighteous sinners, such as opposed Jesus and his apostles, alsvays did hate, and always will hate, that which is impartial. All this the blessed Saviour most carefully pointed out to thein. In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, some are represented as murmuring against “the good man of the house,” because he gave to ev. ery man a penny: This was treating all alike ; and this instructive parable Jesus uttered to reprove those wicked men, who found fault with the impartiality of his doc, trine. To the same purpose was the parable of the prodigal son spoken. The elder son murmured, that self-righteous sinner, who, in his own estimation, . had never done any thing evil in his life. What did he murmur at ? Because the sinner was received to favor. The apostle Paul tells us, that he labored and suffered reproach because he “trusted in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them who believe ?"
This was the very reason why he was opposed, and reproached, because he believed in Universalism and trusted in God as the Saviour of all men.
Is it asked, why the wicked should oppose Christ because he preached that they should be saved. We answer, because he preached that every one else should be saved also. It was for this reason, that he “ endured contradiction of sinners." And why do the wicked now oppose the same blessed doctrine ? For the same reason; because it assures them, that others are to be saved as well as they. This is the secret. Human pride revolts at Universalism ; it always opposed it, and it always will. This doctrine is congenial only to
the humble mind; and gives happiness only to those whose hearts are contrite and benevolent.
VI. “ The preaching of Christ and his apostles often excited deep anxiety in the impenitent to secure the salvation of their souls. How can we account for this fact, if their preaching made them sure of heaven?”
This objection is stated in such a manner, az to con. vey a fallacious idea to the mind. We
e say, then, and we defy contradiction, that a single case cannot be found in the Scriptures, of persons being desirous to save themselves, either their souls or their bodies, from hell torments in the future state of existence. gard to the future, and in regard to God's care of men, the preaching of Jesus always had a tendency to inspire confidence, not anxiety. Read the sixth chapter of Matthew, particularly the latter part of it. How kindly and ingeniously does the Saviour, iu that sublime passage, reason men into confidence in God. buked them for their distrust. He pointed them to " the birds of the air,” and “the iilies of the field,” - the one bountifully fed, and the other beautifully clothed, without any anxiety on their part. From this he reasoned as follows : “ If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe
This was the strain of Christ's preaching ; and he closed it, on that occasion, by saying, (as the passage is better translated,) “ Take, therefore, no thought for the future, for the future shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto present time is present evil.” Jesus preached to the Jews, that they were in imminent danger of the judgments with which God was about to visit their nation, and on this account the anxiety of many was excited; but on no occasion did Jesus or bis apositles cause people to believe, that they were in danger of hell torments in the future existence.