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And this is what I hope you will be induced to perform; and that your preachers who have sufficient leisure to write controversial books will find time to do something for the defence of christianity.
2. Does not modern universalism tend to destroy the christian ordinances? You have
societies formed in different parts of the union. Perhaps there are fifty or sixty in Maine. I am informed that scarcely half a dozen churches have been gathered in the state. Similar remarks might be made in relation to other places. Even where the ordinance of the supper is celebrated the number of communicants is generally very small. A friend of mine once remained to the communion in the church where your oldest and ablest divine officiates, and he found but thirteen present. I suppose the whole number who have made an open profession in your societies, including the believers in restoration, is less than two thousand. This is a point easily settled. Give the exact numbers in each place and the controversy in question is at an end. Mere denial of my statement will not produce conviction. Now if your communion table was hedged up with creeds there would be some good excuse for this deficiency. I am not so superstitious as to suppose there is more real goodness in a person simply because he partakes of the consecrated elements. But I regard the subject in this light. If a man has a firm belief in the gospel; if he loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity; if he wishes to form a christian character; if he desires to improve all the means of grace within his reach, he will generally feel disposed to comply with the request of his ascended Master; he will be unwilling to neglect this act of gratitude and this opportunity of personal advancement in holiness. Though there may be as good christians out of the church as within her enclosures, yet the observance of this rite is now considered an evidence of a person's interest in the gospel of Jesus. Does not this prevailing neglect of the ordinances seem to indicate that too many take up your system as a matter of speculation, and not as an inducement to greater progress in religious goodness?
3. Does not modern universalism tend to the destruction of gospel preaching? How many societies have been formed in your order within the last twenty years? The number is large. How many of them are now in existence; how many of them in a flourishing condition; and how many that support a stated ministry? I cannot give an accurate answer to these questions. By looking over files of your papers, and your modern history of universalism, and comparing the statements there found with existing facts I am led to the following conclusions. Many societies have dwindled into insignifi
Many more have a name to live but are virtually dead. Many have but a few sabbaths' preaching in the course of the year. Some have sold their churches. Some are in a more prosperous condition.
A change of ministers is almost constantly taking place. There are some exceptions to these statements. Then the character of your preaching generally. Is it in accordance with the commission given by our Savior to his apostles. Is it the grand object of your ministers to make their hearers practical christians; to make them love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves? Or do they spend much time in ridiculing and condemning other denominations; in defending the peculiar dogmas of your creed, and in explaining away those passages which seem to teach a contrary doctrine? I leave these questions for each one to answer for himself. I am
no enemy to doctrinal or controversial preaching at proper times. But I conceive that we
have accomplished no very valuable object until we have induced our hearers to live sober, righteous and godly lives. And I have come to the conclusion from the facts which have come to my knowledge, that many of the members in your societies take no deep interest in correct practical preaching.
4. Does not modern universalism tend to sectarianism? If unitarians, residing in orthodox parishes, were admitted to the christian ordinances, and not publicly condemned for their honest convictions, I should consider it a sectarian proceeding for any minister of our denomination to interfere in their behalf, and encourage them to form a separate society. But if they were excluded from the baptismal font and the table of the communion; if they were denied the christian name and sentenced to future misery, for their sincere belief, I should feel it my duty to aid them in the maintenance of their religious rights. And any thing I could do for their prosperity I should not regard as sectarian. You ought to pursue a similar course.
Now if a minister of your sect should go to an individual in a unitarian parish in which all was peace and harmony, where the believer in your doctrine was denied no privilege, no right, no hope, where he retained his christian name and standing and influence, and urge him to furnish a hall for preaching, to collect all he could gather into a new ecclesiastical body, I should call this thoroughly sectarian. That such a course has been pursued, that another preacher declared he should go into every place in which he could get hearers, and do all in his power to make proselytes to his system, I do know. And that several of the party have shown no great delicacy in obtruding their services into the parishes of their brethren I suppose no one will deny. Now I am not condemning any christian measures for the spread of what is believed to be truth. But it is repeatedly said in my hearing, that universalists manifest as much sectarian zeal as the orthodox, as much bigotry and narrow mindedness, as much denunciation and disorganizing disposition, without the strong motive arising from the calvinistic creed. Whether this is literally the fact or not I leave others to determine. I indeed feel engaged in the promotion of unitarianism. Why? Because I think it is the pure truth of the gospel and will make more and better christians. I had rather be instrumental in making one pious disciple than five hundred nominal unitarians. Now is it the principal object in all the exertions of your preachers to make men truly good; rather than to build up a party?
5. Does not modern universalism tend to the destruction of civil government? You believe that sin itself punishes the sinner sufficiently. If so all human inflic'tions are undeserved and unjust. Take the highway robber. He is imprisoned for life. This is a most severe punishment. If his crime produces sufficient torment then all this is unrighteous. If then you are sincere in your opinion you must protest against all human interference in cases of wickedness. You must affirm that every criminal is justly and adequately recompensed by his deeds of iniquity. You must labor for the abolition of all civil laws. Yes. If I honestly believed your system I would discover consistency in my conduct. I wish to remove all possible evils. If God or the sin itself always punishes the transgressor according to his guilt, then surely there is no greater curse than civil governments. I should therefore labor day and night to abolish all human penalties. Could I be instrumental in effecting such an object what would be the consequences? Go into society tomorrow. Proclaim that all men are rewarded and punished pre
cisely according to their deeds. Scatter all written laws to the four quarters of heaven. Assure every man that he may do as he pleases, the consequences of his own conduct will be upon his head. And what would follow? Anarchy, confusion, murder, every evil work. Are you not bound then by your very belief to begin the destruction of all penal enactments, or acknowledge that your views are not capable of being reduced to practice without destroying society?
6. Does not modern universalism seem to offer a bounty on wickedness? Here are twin brothers. One labors hard and unremittingly in the formation of a christian character. He attains to great moral excellence. The other gives himself to dissipation. He becomes thoroughly abandoned. At fifty both die. The christian has already prepared himself for heaven. He is admitted. The other is made over by miracle and placed upon an equality with his brother. Is not this holding out an encouragement to irreligion and sinfulness? Here are two young men without any decided moral principle, like many that we find in the world. One is an atheist, and the other a universalist. They are governed by the same motives which operate more or less in all hearts of the same description. The atheist asks himself what course of conduct he shall pursue. The following train of thoughts passes through his mind. “Here I am upon this earth. How I came here I have no knowledge. They say there is a God in heaven. I have no belief in any supreme Being. I have no hope of another life after death. This world is all I can call my own.
Now I have seen enough of mankind to know that most happiness is secured by doing about what is right. I will therefore avoid all those vices which can give me any serious torment. I will remain on the sure side of the question." The universalist adopts the