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for what sin he can commit in this short life. He however forms no definite notions on the subject of future retribution, and might as well believe in universalism. Another class are driven by this doctrine to skepticism and infidelity. They cannot reconcile it with the character of a good Father. They are assured that it is taught in the scriptures. They renounce their belief in revelation. Hundreds in our land may be found to answer this description. The last class are sincere believers in the view mentioned; and are driven by it to despair and in some cases to insanity. I have spoken plainly, but, as I firmly believe, the words of truth and soberness. The rational and scriptural view is this.
God is a perfect Father. He made us for happiness. He loves us all with an infinite affection. He gives us free agency. When we disobey the laws of our nature we are punished; when we observe his precepts we are rewarded. Every thing bad in our thoughts, words, deeds, has a bearing upon our future destiny. We cannot escape from the consequences of sin for a long period even if we reform. If we do not repent the work becomes every day more difficult. As we leave this world we enter upon the next existence. God is still a Father. Jesus is still a Savior. The angels are filled with love. Man is still a free agent. He cannot be happy without holiness. He cannot becomne holy without his own consent and most strenuous exertions. The principles of the divine government remain unaltered. Punishment must attend or follow sinfulness. No blame rests upon any but the free moral agent who has made himself wretched, and who must remain in torment until reformation ensues.
When that time will arrive God only knows. This I believe to be the rational and scriptural view; and this I believe to be of the best possible
moral tendency. For the character of our Father, the
of man, and the doctrine of a perfect and impartial retribution are preserved.
Thus have I given you a mere outline of the argument for a future righteous retribution. I could have extended my reasoning and proofs to an indefinite length. If however you are not convinced of the truth of my positions by the evidence presented, I have no expectation that you
will ever be converted to my opinions by any rational or scriptural arguments. I have confined my remarks to one point.
I have advanced no evidence but such as appeared to me to be intelligible to the simplest understanding, and to have a direct bearing on the controversy. I have quoted many passages of scripture, and more texts are already selected and approved by the highest authority in our country. I have endeavored to answer every important objection to my views which your writers have stated; and to refute the arguments by which they have defended your system. If any objection or argument of weight has been omitted I shall feel great regret. I have avoided personalities except in a few instan
I trust you have found no unkind or unchristian language. I have indeed spoken my mind with great plainness and freedom. I have given free and full utterance to my feelings respecting your distinguishing sentiments. This you will not condemn or dislike. I have not impugned the motives or slandered the characters or outraged the feelings of your members. I have alluded to the conduct of individuals, and expressed my opinion of the qualifications of some of your critics for the important work of exposition. I think I have not done unto others differently from what I should be willing others should do unto me in return. I think you can have no cause of complaint on the score of uncharitableness,
I have endeavored to avoid all appearance of display in learning. In reading the writings of some of your ministers I have experienced no small share of disgust. I have seen criticisms upon greek words by those who evidently have no knowledge of the language. I think some have been guilty of this who could not read a page of classical greek to save their lives. Now I do not blame a man for being ignorant of the ancient languages, because this may be unavoidable. But to impose upon the ignorant, simply because you can tell the letters of the alphabet, or have a mere smattering of this kind of knowledge, is truly censurable. I do feel that I am deserving of some credit for not exposing fully the ignorance and pedantry of some of your authors.
I hope you will read what I have written with candor and decide for yourself concerning its merits. And if you are disposed to return an answer to these letters, I hope you
will pursue a fair and christian course. You recollect the answer of the orthodox to my letters on religious liberty. You then pronounced that production sophistical, evasive, unfair, ungentlemanly and altogether inconclusive. I know you will shun the peculiar faults of that review. You will however permit me to remind you of several particulars to be avoided.
I hope you will not charge me with misrepresentation. I have given a definite statement of the sentiments which I meant to attack. I have quoted from your writers some passages to show that others hold the same views with yourself. If you do not now believe those opinions, you will not accuse me of misrepresenting the belief of universalists. Perhaps you may deny the inferences I have made in certain cases. If so show me the
in which th
can be avoided. I hope you will not charge me with contradicting myself. This is a very common mode of attack when
all fair arguments fail. The infidels pursue this course in relation to the bible. I lately read one of their pamphlets called the scripturian's creed. Passages are taken from their connexion and when placed beside each other have an appearance of discrepancy. Examine the context and all difficulty vanishes. I cannot give the compiler of the work credit for common honesty, nor the
person who should be led to reject the truth of the gospel from its perusal credit for common sense. Now it would be no difficult matter to take sentences from their connexion and make it appear at first sight that I had contradicted myself in a few instances. looking to the context and receiving a few words of explanation from other parts of the work, I trust all will
ppear consistent. I think you will not be guilty of this mean subterfuge so often adopted by those who are defeated.
I hope you will remember what kind of an answer to the present publication will be necessary to satisfy candid readers before you undertake the work. I have presented a large number of arguments and very many passages of scripture in proof of my positions. Now you may refute one or a dozen arguments; you may explain away one or a dozen passages of scripture, and still you have accomplished nothing to your purpose. You must refute every argument; you must destroy the obvious meaning of every passage of scripture, before your work will be accomplished. I trust you will not be guilty of the meanness of taking one or more of the weakest arguments, and one or more of the less conclusive texts, and holding them up before your readers as fair specimens of the whole work. I have known this done by those whom you pronounced unfair and dishonorable.
I hope you will meet every question and proof in a
fair and open manner.
Sometimes I have noticed a good deal of mystification in the writings of some of your order. When they could not answer an objection or argument, they would talk about the subject, raise a great cloud of words before the eyes of their readers; evade the real point at issue, and cry victory. It is too late in the day for success to attend such measures. If you would hope to secure the attention of candid and honest inquirers after truth, you must meet the question fairly: you must furnish a conclusive answer to the argument. Or you must acknowledge that you know of no way in which the position can be overthrown. I trust therefore that you will not stoop to the degrading business of mystifying the subject in debate.
I hope you will avoid the infidel mode of attack. You have seen in what manner one of your former preachers assails all natural and revealed religion. He cannot answer the arguments by which they are supported, and so he resorts to sneers, ridicule, assertions, objections. Now there is no subject however sacred or well attested but may be ridiculed. You may say something against every truth in existence. You may make round and strong declarations. But with sensible men all such attacks have little weight. They are generally the indications of a feeble mind or a weak cause. but superficial reasoners, and blinded partisans, and willing slaves, can be satisfied with an answer of this description.
I hope you will avoid personalities and blackguard and dishonesty. I ought to apologize for expressing such a hope. I have no good reason to expect any thing of the kind from your pen. But I have seen so much of this in one or two of your writers that I could not omit the caution. You may wish to know if I shall reply to any answers that may be made to my publica