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aid you in obtaining the true meaning of the apostle. “ If the gospel be true, and if there be a resurrection of the dead, the teachers of the christian religion are acting a wise and laudable part in proclaiming the doctrine of eternal life, and in exposing themselves to daily hazard for the sake of diffusing christian truth; for they are serving their fellow creatures in their most essential interests, and their labor shall not be finally in vain, even with regard to themselves. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, it would be the excess of folly to persist in an office of so great hazard and so little
If during my whole stay at Ephesus, I have encountered the most savage treatment from wicked and interested men, who were ready to devour me like beasts of prey, this conflict as well as many others, I have endured with resolution and cheerfulness, animated by the hope of a recompense at the resurrection of the just. But upon the principles that some among you adopt, what have I to expect? It were better for us all, if there be no resurrection, and no future life, to renounce the christian religion which requires temperance, selfdenial and self-government, and to adopt at once the licentious maxims of the Epicurean philosophy. As life is short, and we have nothing to expect hereafter, let us make the most of it while we live, and indulge ourselves without restraint in the gratifications of sense and appetite. Do not suffer yourselves to be imposed upon by this plausible and dangerous maxim, and do not associate with those who would inculcate such pernicious advice.” You perceive that the argument applies with equal force against your doctrine as the one then believed by some that there would be no future life. The whole object of the apostle is to urge to perseverance in the christian cause, with the expectation of escaping future punishment, and receiving future
reward. So that a more direct attack upon your system need not be named. 1 Cor. 15. 30, 34.
Take one more specimen. The apostle concludes his whole argument in these words.
- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” If you can read through the whole chapter, and then say that this last verse does not teach the doctrine of future rewards, I will furnish satisfactory evidence of this position. The case is really so plain that I am ashamed to enter into a formal defence of its truth. As to this world you know their labor was worse than in vain; it exposed them to the greatest torments; it provoked such persecutions that they were the most miserable of mankind, consequently it must secure a future reward or it would be forever vain. I will quote no more passages at present. Now you must reconcile this chapter with all the other writings of the apostle. Have I not shown beyond all controversy that he taught future rewards and punishments? And would he contradict in this single chapter the whole tenor of his preaching and letters? Impossible. I must therefore conclude that this chapter furnishes in itself sufficient evidence to upset your whole system.
I have thus answered every argument that I thought could have the least influence with candid and intelligent readers. If there are others on which you place any reliance, let them be named, and I will immediately give them my attention. How feeble must be the foundation of a religious system which can furnish no better evidence of its truth; a system which is opposed to all sound philosophy, to the general current of revelation, to all the great facts of christianity; and which cannot produce one single passage from the whole bible
which either teaches its character or implies its correct
Whether a little less boasting on the part of some of your writers, and a little less dogmatism, and a little less denunciation, and a little more modesty, and a little more candor, and a little more liberality, would not be becoming, I leave for you to decide.
MY DEAR SIR,
I will now state some of my objections to modern universalism. I shall express my honest convictions without the least reserve. You will remember that I am attacking a system of error and not the characters or motives of its defenders. You will therefore take no offence at the great plainness of speech which I must adopt.
I. Modern universalism is an unscriptural system. This is my firm belief. A few of the reasons which confirm this opinion may be briefly stated.
1. The scriptures do not teach the system of modern universalism. Can you mention a single passage, which contains the idea, that the righteous are always and equitably and fully rewarded by their righteousness in this world? Can you mention a single passage, which contains the idea, that the wicked are always and equitably and fully punished by their wickedness in the present existence? Can you mention a single passage, which contains the idea, that the righteous shall not be rewarded hereafter by the righteousness here acquired?