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Paul's share of future happiness will be diminished on account of his cruel persecutions, although he aimed at the promotion of the divine glory; for you know the recollection of them rendered him truly humble and gave him no small share of uneasiness, as you learn from his repeated reference to the subject. I do likewise believe that Calvin must suffer the natural consequences of his unchristian temper and unrighteous deeds, although he was sincere in his opinions and aimed to promote the glory of God. I further believe that our forefathers were imperfect christians, and like all the children of our impartial parent must be rewarded
precisely according to their deeds.
What I say concerning others I believe in relation to myself. He that knowingly disobeys must suffer severely, while he that ignorantly transgresses shall be beaten with few stripes. Retribution must be just and equitable, or our Father is not impartial. We are assured that he is no respecter of persons, and consequently will reward every man precisely according to his character.
2. I am not however surprised that this objection has been stated. Orthodox opinions and preaching and conversation have called it into existence. They teach us that the elect will not suffer hereafter for the sins of this life. Many whom they claim as among this number have been guilty of great wickedness. Many whóm they rank with the reprobate have sustained much better characters. They assure us that if God changes the heart of the most abandoned wretch on earth at the last moment of his mortal existence he will escape all future punishment. Here is the doctrine of universalism. You merely say that all are elected. The principle in both is the same. Yours is much the most rational and benevolent of the two; for it does not ascribe so great a degree of partialism to the universal Father. And I
believe most firmly that the calvinistic notions of election and instantaneous conversion have been at the foundation of your success in obtaining adherents. There is but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous; and but half a step from calvinism to universalism. I reject both as irrational and unscriptural. I believe in a perfect God, in a perfect retribution; in no partialism in the one, in no favoritism in the other.
3. The erroneous views which prevail in relation to the nature of future retribution have aided both systems. Many suppose that they can be made happy by entering heaven. If they can but secure an entrance within its enclosure they expect to enjoy perfect felicity. They do not seem to know that the kingdom of heaven must be within them; that their real happiness must always depend upon the moral state of their soul; that a sinful person would find the society and employments of purified spirits their greatest torment. Others believe that hell is a place of fire and brimstone, or something external which will give them misery. They do not seem to know that hell consists in the depraved state of the soul, and that so long as their depravity continues their punishment must remain. Future happiness is the natural consequence of religious goodness. Future misery is the natural consequence of sinfulness. No one can become sinful or holy without his own consent and exertions. No one can become happy without holiness. So when we speak of christians suffering the natural consequences of their wickedness in another life, many profess to be astonished. They believe that all who can get into heaven will be perfectly happy and all who go to hell must be perfectly miserable. They give figurative language a literal interpretation. They do not consult the plain teachings of scripture and the clear deductions of reason: Look into society and you
may see every variety of character. Strip each indi vidual of all disguises. Let the true state of the soul in every instance be known. Remove all external causes of happiness and misery. And what would be the consequence? Why the person of most goodness would experience the most happiness. The person of most wickedness would suffer most wretchedness. Between these two there would be every degree of suffering and enjoyment. Each individual would have as much of heaven as he possessed holiness; and as much of hell as he retained of depravity. Not very dissimilar I conceive will be our condition on entering the next existence. All will in this way know themselves thoroughly. By taking this view you can see how the sins any one has committed must detract from his qualifications for felicity, and consequently you can understand how the happiness of a saint may be less on account of great crimes. We are told that in our Father's house are many mansions, and so provision is made for every degree of moral excellence; provision is made for re warding or punishing every individual precisely according to his deserts. And as these views prevail in the community the doctrines of a partial or a total election will be abandoned.
Thus, my dear sir, have I answered the principal objections to the doctrine of a future righteous retribution. I have not intended to omit any of the least consequence. Some you know have already been noticed; others will claim a share of attention before I finish the discussion. Let me ask you to examine my answers, and inform me of the instances in which they do not appear satisfactory.
LET TER X.
MY DEAR SIR,
I will now endeavor to refute the arguments which your writers have advanced in support of the doctrine of no future retribution. I know indeed that one who formerly ranked among your ablest preachers made the following declaration. “ It is not pretended as we know of, that the scriptures prove there will be no future punishment. But within the few last years passages
have been quoted in proof of this belief. One of your number has published an hundred arguments in defence o universalism. I perused the tract with the greatest astonishment. I cannot make myself believe that the author supposed the texts adduced presented any decisive evidence in favor of his distinguishing views. Before I proceed to the main business of this communication, I will make a few remarks on the kind of testimony needed for your purpose.
In the first place, to prove your system true, you want clear, direct, explicit statements of the fact, that a perfect retribution takes place on earth, and that there will
be neither rewards nor punishments hereafter for the deeds done in the body. Passages of scripture which teach such sentiments would put an end to the controversy. None of this description can be produced. This single circumstance is enough to satisfy my mind of the unscriptural character of your theory.
In the second place, many of your proof texts are quoted from the Old Testament. On your own principles of interpretation, these passages are nothing to your purpose. For you contend that a future life was not made known to the Jews, and consequently to suppose that future happiness was promised to all is a gross absurdity and contradiction. This very admission on your part destroys at once all evidence from this quarter. I shall however briefly allude to some of the quotations, you make from the hebrew scriptures, for the purpose of showing their irrelevancy.
In the third place, you quote many passages from the New Testament which have no bearing upon the question at issue. Take one illustration. You say that Jesus died for the salvation of all mankind. I admit the truth of your assertion. But does this statement prove that those who die impenitent and unreformed will be saved from all future misery? By no means. Then it has nothing to do with the controversy. It may prove restorationism, but has no connexion with universalism. I must however give a passing notice to such quotations to exhibit their inappropriateness,
In the fourth place, most of the texts you quote appear to me to furnish the strongest possible evidence against your own doctrine. Take one example. You affirm that Jesus is to be the Savior of all men. Very well. How is the sinner saved? Only by becoming holy. Now many
leave this world unreformed. If Jesus is to effect their salvation in the only way revealed, then