« ForrigeFortsæt »
VII. 'Many, who once advocated universal salvation, have since confessed, that when they were strongest in the belief of the sentiment, they had many doubts and misgivings, and were secretly convinced, that it could not be true. Many, who have tried to be Universalists, have afterwards testified, that, after their most strenuous efforts to believe that doctrine, they could not convince themselves of its truth. How could this be, were it plainly taught in the pages of rev. elation, and consonant with the deductions of right reason?"
Now we must confess, that we call this very unsatisfactory. "Many who have advocated Universalism, have confessed, that when they were strongest in the belief of the sentiment, they had many doubts and misgivings." How could they be said to be strong in the belief of the sentiment, if they had many doubts? And yet we are told, that these people, who believed Universalism, when they were strongest in the belief of the sentiment, not only had many doubts and misgivings, but " were secretly convinced, that it could not be true." This is what we call a paradox. Again," Many who have tried to be Universalists," it is said, "have afterwards testified, that, after their most strenuous efforts to believe the doctrine, they could not convince themselves of its truth." And what does this prove? Perhaps it proves, that they had not got the eyes of their understanding enlightened; we do not think it proves any thing more. Let us turn the tables. Many who have tried to be Calvinists, have afterwards testified, that, after their most strenuous efforts to believe that doctrine, they could not convince themselves of its truth." And here we may repeat the objector's pungent question:"How could this be, were it plainly taught in the pages of revelation, and consonant with the deductions of right reason?" It is well known to be a fact, that, many people of candid, generous, and discriminating minds, have searched the Scriptures carefully and prayerfully, from day to day, and from week to week, with no other desire than to learn what is therein reve evealed, and have, by this process, become fully convinced, that the doctrine of Universalism is a doctrine of the Holy
Scriptures. "How could this be, were it " NOT "plainly taught in the pages of revelation, and consonant with the deductions of right reason?"
VIII. "Universalists themselves seem to be doubtful of their own cause. Otherwise, why are they so anxious to make proselytes, to erect meeting-houses, to have preaching, and to prop up their cause by increasing their numbers? If their doctrine be based upon the truth, what matter is it whether others believe or disbelieve it? They will all meet in heaven, to go no more out forever!"
It appears from this, that if a sect are "anxious to make proselytes, to erect meeting-houses, to have preaching, and to prop up their cause by increasing their numbers," then they "seem to be doubtful of their own cause." What is the unavoidable inference from this? Answer. That the opposers of Universalism "doubtful of their own cause," for none are more anxious than they "to make proselytes, to erect meeting-houses, to have preaching, and to prop up their cause by increasing their numbers." They believe, or, at least, the author of this objection does, in predestination, and in the election of some to eternal life, and the reprobation of others to eternal danination. "If this doctrine be based upon the truth, what matter is it whether others believe it, or disbelieve it.". Their fate is irrevocably fixed.
IX. "It cannot be denied, that the advocates of Universalism are mostly to be found in that class of people which the Bible denominates wicked; while nearly all the wise and good adopt the contrary belief. The intemperate, the thief, the robber, the profane swearer, the murderer, the corrupt and dissolute, are generally pleased with the preaching of Universalista; but the pious and the better portion of community deprecate the influence of such preaching. I like the society of the wise and good, better than that of thieves, and drunkards, and profane swearers.'
It would be well for us all, if we would be much on our guard against the sin of self-righteousness. It is a sin that doth most easily beset us. We fear, that the author of this objection, doubtless unconsciously to himself, was under the influence of some such error.
he not entertain a high opinion of himself? Is it not arrogating too much to himself, and those who agree with him in opinion, to say, "nearly all the wise and good" adopt the belief of endless misery? Is such a profession consistent with the spirit which led the publican to exclaim, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner?". It rather reminds us of the case of the Pharisee, who said " Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men." But are the allegations true, which are embraced in this objection? That those who really feel themselves to be sinners, and see their need of divine grace and salvation, will prize the doctrine of Universalism, is unquestionable; but this is not what the objector means. He means, that those who have no contrition for their offences, the thoughtless, the cruel, and the debauched, are generally in favor of Universalism. In this sense the objection is false. Is it true, that the wicked are generally Universalists? Is it true, that those who take the name of God in vain, --those who are intemperate, those who are debauched, are generally Universalists? Examine the penitentiaries. Inquire into the religious opinions of the prisoners; and in the great majority of cases, you will find, that they have been educated in the belief of endless torments. It is true, they have not paid much attention to the subject of theology, in any way; but, so far as they believe in the future state, they generally apprehend, that the doctrine of endless misery is true. Were those who have carried on persecution, who have kindled the fagot,who have shed rivers of human blood, who have murdered men, and women, and children, indiscriminately, in their attempts to exterminate heresy, have these men been Universalists? No instance of persecution can be pointed out, in all the history of the church, which can be justly attributed to those who believe, that God will at last have mercy on all. Who were the inquisitors, those who loved to feast their eyes on writhing bodies, and to gratify their ears with the groans and unavailing prayers of the poor victims of their
wrath? Were these men Universalists? No, not one of them; for, had they been, their doctrine would have taught them better; they would have had compassion on the ignorant, and those who are out of the way. It is a truth, which a strict observation of society will confirm, that Universalism prevails mostly in those places where crime is least known. Compare the different parts of our own country, with one another, and then inquire in which parts Universalism mostly prevails. Compare our own country with Europe, and the above remaik will be fully proved. It cannot be said, in truth, that Universalism is principally to be found among those who are justly denominated the vicious.
We have already hinted at the fact, that those who really feel their sinfulness, and are exercised with contrition for their offences, will love the doctrine of Universalism. Such loved the doctrine of Jesus, when he was on earth. The publicans and sinners drew near unto him to receive his instructions, and the Scribes and Pharisees murmured, because he "received sinners and ate with them."
X. “Universalism is most obviously of a corrupt moral tendency. Its fundamental truth is, All are sure of heaven. Believing this, men may act out the corruptions of a depraved heart without fear of retribution, and of course, without much restraint. I cannot believe, that the religion which opens the door of crime and blood is from heaven."
Universalism is not most obviously of a corrupt moral tendency. We offset one assertion against another. One important truth embraced by Universalists is, that all men shall be rewarded according to their works; that the punishment of sin is not delayed until the future existence, but that it is swift, sure, and inevitable; that sin goes hand in hand with woe throughout its whole duration; that it is itself hell, into which the sinner cannot plunge, without feeling its flames and torments. In regard to retribution, such is the doctrine of Universalists. We must again contradict the author of the objections, and say, "Believing this,
men" cannot "act out the corruptions of a depraved heart without fear of retribution." So far from destroying the fear of retribution, Universalism quickens it, by showing that the punishment of sin cannot be avoided. But some attempt to prove, that sinners escape punishment in this life, and are oftentimes happier than the righteous. This, this is the doctrine which will cause men to "act out the corruptions of a depraved heart, without fear of retribution.” Here we may apply the closing words of the objection: "I cannot believe, that the religion which opens the door of crime and blood is from heaven."
Those who insist, that Universalism is of a "corrupt moral tendency," ought to account for two things. First, how it happens that Universalists, at the present time, are as good as other people. Second, how it took place, that, in the dark ages, when the doctrine of endless misery found not a solitary being to question its correctness, people were more wicked than they ever were before, or ever have been since. The objection before us ought never again to be brought forward, until these two facts are satisfactorily accounted for.
XI. “The Bible, on almost every page, contemplates mankind as divided into two classes, the righteous and the wicked. It declares, that the distinction exists between them now, that it will exist at the hour of death, before the throne of final judgment, and through every period of their existence. I cannot reconcile this with Universalism."
That the Bible speaks of the righteous and the wicked, the Universalist most cheerfully allows; but that the sacred writers contemplated mankind as divided into two distinct classes, is not correct. By the righteous, are meant such as do righteousness. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous." 1 John iii. 7. There is no man perfectly righteous. "There is none righteous, no not one. Rom. iii. 10. "There is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good and sinneth not." Eccles. vii. 20. This surely does not