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justice in the salvation of all men. The sentiment which, as I thongbt, rendered God a mutable being, impaired my confidence in his wisdom and his omniscience; and the necessity of the sufferings and death of Christ, as Jehovah, to propitiate himself, appeared in any other than a rational light. All the fac. ulties of my mind were called into requisition to reconcile the absurdity of imputing transgression to a righteous person, and punishing him as a singer, while the wicked escaped the infliction of that discipline which I thought was clearly threatened in the scriptures. During this trial of mind, a friend lent me some of Mr. Ballou's works, and light immediately shone on the understanding. From him I learned, that the mission of Christ was to save men from deserving-not from deserved punishment. This sentiment is now so well confirmed, that it will never be forgotten, while the light of reason illumines the understanding.
When the letters of Mr. Hawes appeared in the Observer and the Secretary, I was earnestly invited to review them. Knowing that they were considered by some as unanswerable, and as they embraced a great variety of topics, I was not at first prepared to undertake the work. But frequent solicitations prevailed—the work was accomplished, though vader very adverse circumstances. It was well received by the public, and frequent suggestions were offered, as an inducement to publish the whole in a book form. To this step 1 have finally been induced, and a small impression of only one thousand copies, is now offered to the public for perusal. The labour has been great, and several subjects have received less attention than I should be glad to bestow. Every subject of importance, has however, received close attention, and every argument of any weight been fairly quoted, and honestly examined. The publication of the whole of Mr. H's Letters, would add nothing to bis arguments, and every person may see that no important statement has been omitted.
I have not dwelt so fully on two of Mr. H's assertions as I originally anticipated; viz. the wide extent of the belief in endless misery, and the various consequences of virtue and vice. Examples could easily be given from history, going to prove conclusively, that a uniform national belief has no necessary connexion with truth. Faith in particular tenets has been ef. fectually established by the sword, and the descendants of those who have thus submitted, have been equally as faithful to the tenets received, as were their conquerors.
To say, as Mr. H. does, that the vicious are equally as happy in this world as the righteous, is so absurd, that it hardly requires a serious refutation. Scripture and experience, are both utterly against it, and the assumption is calculated to lead the mind to infidel principles and licentious conduct.
RUSSEL CANFIELD. Hartford, June, 1827.
To Rev. Joel Hawes, Hartford.
Sir-I make no apology for addressing these strictures to you the substance and style of the letters being too obviously yours to admit a rational doubt concerning their authorship. Without further preface, then, I shall proceed to the investigation of their contents.
On a careful perusal of these letters, I am persuaded the following statements can be fully supported ;
1. They contain assertions, and questions in the affirmative form, as reason and data for argument, which
you do not, and cannot sustain. 2. They exhibit deductions, which, if true, would destroy the very principle for which you contend,
3. They offer as proof of certain tenets, scraps of scripture, in a mutilated form, bearing obvious marks of " handling the word of God deceitfully."
These you will consider as high charges—they are -and the writer is ready to hazard every thing dear to the human heart on the event of supporting them, in their most literal import and extent.
Your first appeal is to prudence, from which the following is a fair quotation ;
“ It is a maxim, the correctness of which you will readily admit, that in every question of duty and happiness, where one side is doubtful, and the other safe, we are bound to take the safe side. Act according to this maxim, and you cannot be a Universalist. Those who believe in a future state of retribution, and endeavour to prepare for it by a life of penitence and faith, will certainly be saved. On this point there is no doubt."
He must indeed be a novice, who does not perceive the second sentence to be a mere assumption of the very ground in debate, which you are bound to support, without depending on the sophistry of a petitio principii, and which you would support, were your power equal to your design. Why cannot a prudent man be a Universalist ? No reason is given-no argument used-nor does creation furnish one.
It is generally understood that you were settled on Calvinistic principles, but you seem now to have taken the very ground for which the Calvinistic Council of Dort burnt Barneveldt, a disciple of James Arminius. These are your words:
- How then, in such a case, would a prudent man act? He would choose the safe side. He would live and act like those who expect to give account, and endeavour to make sure his salvation on the same grounds on which they expect to be saved."
When penning this, you might not be aware that in future letter, (the 9th) you would find it necessary to charge the Universalists with having "no uniform character."
The next passage worthy of notice is a question put into the affirmative form, as follows:
“Can he then, be in his right mind, who puts to hazard the interests of his soul-who shuns the path which he knows will infallibly conduct him to heaven, and pursues one which, to say the least, may lead him down to hell ?”
This quotation contains such a palpable absurdity, and brings a charge so repugnant to our every day's observation, that it requires particular notice. The contemptible hypocrisy which it imputes to Universalists, is the least of its deformities. With what a grace this charge comes from one professing a popular doctrine, always the hot-bed of hypocrites, is left for those to decide, who know the most certain avenues to the human heart. What temptations are offered by the doctrine or its defenders-what premiums can be offered, save the slander and persecution of the orthodox ?
The gross absurdity of this charge, and its utter destitution of truth, are obvious to the youngest capacity. We are charged by you with embracing this doctrine, knowing that it is not merely false, but, that it will inevitably lead us down to regions of hopeless, interminable despair, and that its opposite will as infallibly lead to realms of bliss, without alloy, and without end. Dare
you say that
know this, or that the assertion is supported by the most distant appearance of probability ?
But what principle in the constitution of man leads him to seek remediless wo, in a future world, through the medium of a system, which makes him obnoxious to the derision, and persecution of knaves and fools in this? Where is the charm to work this miracle-this abandonment of desire for happiness, implanted in every man, which breathes the air, or sees the light of heaven? But is it indeed so? has a Protestant Clergyman in these enlightened days, the temerity thus to hurl the thunderbolts of damnation on all who refuse to bow the knee at the shrine of his motely system? Are we yet under the dictation of the holy mother church, out of which is no salvation ?
In this quotation, works are the ground of acceptance with God-have you " no uniform character?"
After inquiring for a motive to embrace Universalism (and very properly too, on your hypothesis) you ask:
“Will you say that it opens an easier and pleasanter way to heaven, than the doctrine which teaches a future state of retribution ? It may be so in respect to those who wish to go to heaven in their sins ; but not to those who love God and delight in his service.”
The tenet of future retribution is so important in your system, that it seems you consider nothing easy or pleasant without it. Astonishment seems to have laid hold on your faculties, that any person should prefer the plan of making all men holy, and consequently happy, through any other medium, as easier and pleasanter, than that of future retribution. It is conceded, however, that men who desire to enjoy heaven in their sins, (who teaches this ?) prefer another method, while those who love God, and delight in his service, have very different sentiments. On the effect of this fear of a future retribution, I shall meet you with an extract from an orthodox source. Its harmony with the best feelings of a Christian's heart, and with the most unyielding testimony of facts, renders it worthy of preservation.
“Love, and not this fear of punishment, is that which influences to all acceptable obedience. It is indeed true, that the Scriptures speak of a fear, which has influence in this obedience. But it is not this fear of punishment. It is a filial, reverential fear, which is itself the fruit of love, as all acceptable obedience is. Let love rule in the heart, and influence the obedience, and then, though all fear of punishment be removed, obedience will still be regarded. Angels and saints in glory are obedient. But they have no fear of future punishment. They are influenced by love.
"'Tis love that makes their cheerful feet,"