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may see every variety of character. Strip each individual 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 rewarding 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.
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
surely there is a future retribution. If on the other hand they are saved by passing from this world to another, or by a miracle at the resurrection, then Jesus has no concern in their salvation; he is in no sense their Savior. These passages you perceive may prove restorationism, but have no bearing upon*universalism. I shall however give a few specimens to show their insufficiency for your purpose.
Finally, I must be permitted to state the distinct and deep impression left on my mind from the perusal of a large portion of the writings of your denomination. It is this. The authors of these works seem to me to have determined that the doctrine of no future retribution shall be established on some foundation. An effort is then made to explain away all opposing texts. In this business various contradictory expositions are given; some at times plausible, some nonsensical, and some manifestly absurd. Then every passage which might lead an unthinking reader to doubt is produced in defence of your doctrine, and supported by many round assertions, and no small share of sneers at opposite views. I could illustrate these remarks by many selections did my limits permit; but as I shall have occasion hereafter to adduce a few specimens of your interpretations of scripture, I proceed to the appropriate business of the present letter.
I. You assert that God made a covenant with Abraham, that in him and his seed all nations should be blessed. You refer to a class of passages in the bible in proof of your position. You then infer that there will be no future retribution. Now your inference does not follow from your premises. For your proof texts do not say when the promised blessing shall be received. They do not intimate that a perfect retribution takes place on earth, or that there shall be no rewards and
punishments beyond the grave, and consequently have no bearing on the question at issue.
II. You assert that God has declared with an oath, that unto him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. You refer to a class of passages in proof of the truth of your assertion. You then infer the doctrine of no future retribution. Now your inference has no connexion with your premises. For your proof texts neither declare nor intimate, that a perfect retribution takes place in this world, nor that there shall be no rewards and punishments beyond the grave, and consequently have nothing to do with the controversy.
III. You assert that God has purposed and willed the salvation of all men. You mention a class of texts in proof of your statement. You then infer that all retribution is confined to this life. Now your conclusion does not follow from your premises. For your passages of scripture neither affirm nor intimate that all are rewarded and punished according to their deeds on earth, nor that all shall be saved from future rewards and punishments, and consequently are not at all to your purpose.
IV. You assert that God will not retain his anger forever; and you adduce passages in proof of your position. You then infer that all will be made happy the moment they enter upon the next conscious existence. Now your conclusion is not legitimately drawn. For your texts neither prove that a perfect retribution takes place in this world, nor that the divine anger or punishment will cease with temporal death; and consequently have no bearing upon the controverted question.
V. You assert that God is the Father of the whole human family; and you produce a class of passages which prove this assertion to be true. You then infer that none are to be rewarded or punished hereafter for the conduct of this life. This is not sound reasoning.