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INTRODUCTORY EPISTLE TO THE READER.
Before you enter upon the perusal of the following pages, you will doubtless wish to ask a few questions. Please to propose such as you think proper and I will return honest and explicit answers.
“In what sense do you use the term universalist?": I use it to denate an individual, who believes that a perfect retribution takes place in this world; who denies all future rewards and punishments for the deeds done in the body; who contends that all will be happy like the angels in heaven the moment they enter the next conscious existence, and who declares that no distinctions will exist among mankind beyond the grave.
“What name do you give to the person who believes that all future punishment will terminate in the reformation and consequent happiness of mankind?” I call him a restorationist. Many of this faith have already
separated from the universalists and organized themselves into a distinct denomination; while others of the same sentiments still remain in the sect of universalists. But this is no reason for withholding from them their rightful name, as you learn from the following official declaration. “It is not necessary that restorationists should use this phrase, “ ultra,' to distinguish themselves from universalists; for the appellations universalist and restorationist are sufficient distinctions." Very well. I bow submissively to this authority; and will never intentionally call a universalist an ultra, or a restorationist a universalist. And I will do all in my power to have this important distinction observed. Trumpet, vol. xiv. p. 103.
“Have you attacked the distinguishing doctrine of the restorationist?" I have not. My main object is to establish the certainty of a future righteous retribution. I think there is little or nothing in the following letters to which any of the number will object, whether they are now connected with unitarians, universalists, baptists, calvinists, methodists or episcopalians. And I know not why any believers in future retribution should dislike my work, since I have not discussed the question of the duration of future punishment.
" Do you assert that universalists believe in a perfect earthly retribution?" I do. Read the following official declarations. “ The fundamental principle of universalism is this, that all men shall be rewarded accord
ing to their works ; that the punishment of sin is not delayed until the future existence, but that it is swift, sure and inevitable. In regard to retribution, this is the doctrine of universalists. “ It is a sentiment which distinguishes us from all our religious opponents, that this life is a state of retribution as well as of trial or probation; that here virtue receives an ample reward of happiness, and that here sin meets a competent punishment of misery.”
- There is in the moral government of our heavenly Father, an established administration, which secures to those who love and obey him a present complete reward; and one which delays not to give unto the wicked the reward of his hands. To deny this, however popular the contrary opinion may be, is a moral delirium, a fatal insanity, which not only exposes us to danger, but absolutely plunges us into trouble.” Trumpet, vol. xiii. p. 38. Cobb’s Sermon in Ch. In. 1829. Ballou's Select Sermons, p. 87.
“Do you assert that universalists believe no one will be rewarded hereafter for the goodness here acquired ? " I do. Read the following official declaration. “By this rational interpretation, we avoid the heathen notion of recompensing men in one state of being for the conduct they do in another. Of all reveries this is the wildest. Jesus no where taught that doctrine.” Trumpet, vol. xii, p. 134.
“Do you assert that universalists believe no one will be punished hereafter for the sins of this life?" I do.
Read the following official declarations. “The universalist does not indeed believe in punishment after death for the sins of this life. Our doctrine is and has been, that men will not be punished in the future world for the sins of this life.” “ Universalists do maintain that punishment in the future state is not threatened in the divine word.” Trumpet, vol. xiii. p. 42. Vol. xii. pp. 158, 190.
“Do you assert that universalists believe all will be made happy in heaven the moment they enter upon the next conscious existence?" I do. Read the following official declaration. - Universalists now know of no condition for man beyond the grave but that in which he is as the angels of God in heaven. Let the opponents then refute, if they can, the views of universalists of the present day." Trumpet, vol. xii. p. 158.
“ Do you assert that universalists believe there will be no distinctions among men in a future life ? I do. Read the following explicit declaration. The bible does not support the doctrine of distinctions among mankind, either in the grave or beyond it." Trumpet, vol. xiii. p. 38.
" Will universalists be satisfied with having your attack confined to these opinions?” Certainly. Read the following official direction. " When you attack the doctrine of universalists, we beseech you to take hold of the real doctrine as it is believed now and defended now. Refute Origen, if you can; and Relly and Winchester if you can; but do not suppose you have refuted