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wish, I was compelled to listen to those difficulties and objections. And when I sat down to remove them, I arose from my work convinced that the attempt had only added to the number, and increased
This to me was a source of very great anxiety and trouble. Conflicts before unknown assailed me. Distrust, fear, and perplexity, multiplied on each side, and well nigh overcame me.
And when I finally abandoned Universalism, the step was not a hasty one. The conflict cost me almost
life. Nor was it for want of determination or desire on my part, that these difficulties were not removed, and my mind set forever at rest on my former faith. But no relief or comfort could I gain until my refuge of lies was abandoned, and I, as a penitent, sought, and, as I trust, obtained, mercy at the foot of the cross of Christ. In this course of lectures I shall lay before you
this I hope to do all this work in a kind spirit. It has been my prayer to my Savior, that nothing may appear in these lectures which shall exhibit any spirit save that which he will own and bless. While I speak plainly, I wish to do it kindly. And while the only severity that will appear will be the severity of truth, I desire to speak the truth in love." I have no animosities to revenge, no passion to gratify. I bear Universalists no hatred. I leave behind me many persons whom I would most gladly take away from a system to which they and I have been too long and too fondly attached. I believe them to be attached to a ruinous error, to a fatal delusion; as fatal to the soul as the deadliest poison is to the body; that the way in which they walk, though it seemeth right to them, is the way of destruction-"the end thereof is death." I believe the whole tendency of Universalism to be baleful in the extreme to the best interests of our race, and that its ministry is engaged in the ruin of souls, and every where is stained with their blood. I speak from the character which my own labors have borne in that cause, and from my knowledge of the results of Universalism. My reasons for these opinions I shall lay before you. I have no learned essay to present. I design to meet Universalism as it is; to give you the result of my own sad experience upon this subject, and to say a few plain things in a plain way; to prove that Universalism has no claim upon any rational mind; to set forth the withering power of error; to lift a warning voice, and bid all, not yet insnared, to shun a delusion, which, with a siren song, and with assurance of safety, leads down to everlasting despair all who trust its teaching.
The present lecture, consisting of a mere recital of my own feelings, experience, and investigation upon Universalism, demands, perhaps, an apology for introducing it. Indeed, did I consult my own feelings, I should strike this lecture from my course. It is not pleasant thus to speak of myself, to recall harrowing and painful scenes. Nor do I attach importance enough to my personal feelings, to give them the prominence which they hold in this lecture. But my friends, in whose judgment I place more confidence than in my own, have urged me not to omit it, as it seems desirable that the process
should accompany the result. I have been induced to waive all considerations of a personal character, to hush all suggestions arising from considerations of delicacy, and at once approach the subject of this lecture, MY RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE,
MY EARLY LIFE.
Those who have enjoyed early religious instruction, who in youth have been counselled, and in early life have been taught, of God; who have grown up under impressions made around the family altar, and have all their life been followed by religious influences, can poorly sympathize with me,
I never enjoyed early religious instruction. In my father's house there was no family altar; no voice of prayer was there heard ; no reading of the Bible as an act of worship. I never enjoyed the benefit of Sabbath school instruction ; no friend told me of God; no one instructed me to lisp his name, or fear his law. I have no recollection of having ever passed a night in my life, till I was more than twenty years of age, in a house in which there was family prayer, or the reading of the Bible, as an act of religious worship.
My earliest recollections as to religion are identified with Universalism. My first impressions upon the subject are very distinct at this hour. I thought the gospel was designed simply to teach that men would not be damned ; that, however men died, God would make all equally happy at death; that the Bible, beside this, taught little else that was important or interesting, and, on the whole, was rather a dull
book. The Sabbath I was taught to regard as a day of rest from toil, but not from sport; and no one who had influence upon my childhood interposed any restraint from my doing my own pleasure upon the holy Sabbath. When I was six years of age, my father embraced the doctrine of Universalism, and became a preacher of the system. Nearly all that I heard upon the subject of religion, was favorable to Universalism ; nearly all my relatives were of that faith ; and almost all my acquaintances received the same sentiments. Very early I imbibed a hatred toward all systems that differed from this. So soon were the seeds of error planted in my heart — seeds watered by impure counsels and hurtful instructions.
FIRST SERIOUS IMPRESSIONS.
When I arrived at the age of sixteen years, my attention was turned to the subject of personal religion. A seriousness prevailed among many of my associates, the influence of which I felt. Religion seemed to me a great concern. I thought that my life was not what it should be, and that, to be respected, I must change my associates. I knew that my heart was not right in the sight of God, and that to die as I then was, would expose me to the wrath of God. My feelings were enlisted and changed. I read the Bible with pleasure, and, in some small meetings, urged my fellow-men to repentance.
But it was my misfortune to be thrown among a class of professors who belonged to no Christian denomination. They stood alone as a church ; and,
though they held to experimental religion, they rejected nearly all of the essential doctrines of the gospel. They denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, the immortality of the soul, and the doctrine of endless punishment. Though my feelings were excited upon the theme of religion, my understanding was not informed. I had no settled religious opinions. The amount of my faith was this: I believed the Bible to be an inspired book; that Jesus Christ was a man; and that annihilation was the doom of the finally impenitent.
At this time, I was thrown into the company of Universalists, and their system was commended to my attention.. I was invited and persuaded to attend their meetings, and was assured that Universalism and personal piety could harmonize, and that one would be the better Christian, the more devoted man, for receiving that faith. I found the advocates of Universalism frequently using terms which others employed in connection with religious truth; and, presuming them to be sincere, I found myself growing daily in favor of Universalism. I examined the arguments by which it was supported; became familiar with the exposition given to difficult parts of the Bible; and as my early associations favored the claims of Universalism, I adopted the system when in my seventeenth year. Believing that Universalism could do for man what no other system could, I resolved to enter its ministry. I made vigorous preparations for the public advocacy of my faith ; and my first sermon was preached in Medway, Massachusetts, in the month