Page images
PDF
EPUB

The editor is not disposed to reply to “ Eumenes," or enter into a controversy concerning the disputable point which he has so calmly introduced ; but to prevent, if possible, all unnecessary replies in future, would offer a few suggestions, which he hopes will not be misconstrued. The reader, including friend “Eumenes,” is requested to pause for a moment, and see if we are not liable to labor under mistakes, in relation to each other's faith. Has not Eumenes misunderstood those Universalists, who, he thinks, do not extend the dominion of the Saviour into the future world ? Notwithstanding they deny all misery in that state, for crimes committed here, do they not also believe that all men are raised immortal, by virtue of their relation to Jesus as Mediator ? Do they not mean that those who repent, believe and are obedient, are specially saved, and have their reward in this life ; that such as enjoy the means without profiting by them, suffer punishment, compared with the others, and, in addition to similar physical evils, endure guilt or mental misery, rendering their condition much more dreadful than that of infants and idiots ? Do they not contend that a man who has abused the gospel and received his punishment, stands in the same relation to Jesus, as Mediator and Saviour, in a future state, that he does, who never in this world heard of his name? If any of my brethren contend that men will be holy and happy at death, independent of their relation to Jesus, "the resurrection and the life," their creed saps the foundation of our holy religion. But if they duly appreciate the value of repentance for sin, faith in the Lord Jesus, and hope in immortality, and yet do not believe that repentance will be necessary when all propensity to evil is done away, or faith be useful when knowledge supercedes it, or that hope will be needful when all men are made immortal in the resurrection, we shall be indulgent towards them, till their fundamental error is fairly exposed. We think the Universalists are under the highest obligation to exercise gentleness and forbearance towards each other, while they are so violently opposed by those, who surely are of a different faith, and we trust, of a different spirit.

14

A BELIEVER TO HIS FRIEND.

You gave me a little sketch in your letter of a reformation in religion, which has taken place in your part of the country. I hope it is a reformation of mind and morals, as well as the tongue. Religion is a sober rational thing, when it comes from the exercises of a pure and good heart, and never fails to contribute to the happiness and respectability of the possessor.

But a certain kind of noise and rabble is, what some crazy heads call religion, to which I shall leave others to give a name. In most instances, it is destitute of common sense, and in many of order, decorum, and propriety. These, not possessing the spirit of true religion, are never able to exhibit the external

graces

of internal goodness. For the works of God, in nature and grace are all allied, the effect never belies the

cause,

however, hypocrisy may, for a single time counterfeit. And it is so proved by fact, that very few turn out to be sober, pious Christians, who take it up in a kind of sudden frenzy. These, we generally find to have been of bad habits, and loose and abandoned in their morals. Their zeal generally comes from some sudden conviction of guilt, grounded on a hope, that, by a few fervent exercises of the forms of piety, they shall be able to efface the memory of former faults and frauds, and secure to themselves a sanctity of character, under which iniquity may be practiced with more impunity. If attacked on any deception of character, they never fail to appeal to their zeal and piety for conclusive proof to the contrary, and strike up a very fervent discourse upon religious subjects. This, for the respects most people have for religion, puts others to silence, and they escape their just deserts.

If such people have any idea of a God, it must be that of a Jupiter, who makes mean obsequious deportment, in his creatures, a divine grace, who sees nothing in the shades of night, and dispenses his rewards and punishments at noon-day measured by deep groans, a haggard phiz or a long face. These are pieties, I hope you never have nor will embrace. And here I wish you particularly to remark, that, when superstition gets into the head, it makes a man a strange creature ; but when the holy spirit takes hold of the heart, how humble it lays the soul at the foot of the cross, stripped of all the filthy rags of self-righteousness.

Real religion is an internal manifestation to the heart of good, and enables christians to know, from the testimony of the spirit, that they are disciples of the same Jesus, whom they profess. Following these manifestations of God in the mind, they are lead, in every day's path and every step of life, to proofs of new assurance of his providence, goodness and grace. These are the professors, who honor their religion through life, and give unquestionable evidence of the reality of their faith at the close of life.

Some people pretend to get religion, by inquiring of others, what it is ? But it is an easy question to determine, if any one knows any thing about it, but those, who go to its author for their religion. The same Spirit, who introduced it into the world, must preserve it, if it be kept. By takivg it from others, we have it loaded with the shackles of forms and ceremonies. If we take it from the throne of grace, we have it a pure and divine principle. God never withholds his holy spirit from those, who ask for it, and never gives it those, who simply talk about it.

What I have sketched is only the outline of character. If you would get and keep religion, I would not advise you to go much to others, even ministers, to inquire what it is ? But accustom yourself to the diligent reading of the revealed word, and, as often as doubts and difficulties arise, instead of inquiring the inventions of men, any farther than regards ancient rites and ceremonies, go in honest inquiry to the throne of grace, and, if you ask in sincere faith, you will never be denied all, which will be proper for you to know. If you do hus, while in the wilderness of this life, as oft as you are a thirst, smite the rock, which contains the waters of eternal life, with the rod of faith ; a spring therefrom will never fail. It is needless for me to waste more of your time. If you have religion, I shall perhaps detain you from better occupation. If you have it not, it will be but a song to the ear and nothing addressed to the understanding

PHILOS.

ANOTHER BLIND GUIDE EXPOSED.

A man who undertakes to instruct the world by elaborate works upon the different Religious Systems, which have been embraced and defended, at different periods and places, and yet is so bigotted, as to see only the dark side of his subject, may, with propriety, be called, a blind guide. Such is the character of Mr. Adams, the author of the

Religious World Displayed,” or, what is worse, he is a wilful calumniator. This will be evident to every reader, possessed of any generous feelings.

In displaying the doctrine of the Universal Restoration, as he calls it, Mr. Adams at first appears to be candid, and states the subject as it has been defended; but he soon introduces a cruel misrepresentation. Among many others, who have either embraced or favored the doctrine, he justly reckons Oregin, Bishop Newton, the learned Petitpierre, Whiston and the famous Dr. Priestly, Chevalier Ramsay, Archbishop Tillotson, Dr. T. Burnet, the pious William Law, Dr. Hartley, Dr. Rust, Dr. Chauncey and Mr. Winchester; the Mennonites, the harmless Tunkers and the Shakers. He allows that those who embraced the doctrine, in the first centuries, were by Augustine, called, the merciful Doctors.

As though determined to poison the feelings of his readers against this weight of character and talents, he impudently subjoins the following:

“Nor need we be surprised that libertines and Atheists hold it, (that God will save all men) and that they strive to bring others over to their opinions."

But who will not be surprised that a man of common sense should write in such a manner ? Could insinuations be more unjust and calumnious ?

How can an Atheist, who disbelieves in the existence of God, hold the doctrine of Universal Restoration through the Lord Jesus ? Is it not the weakest insult on the talents of all readers, to pretend, that men who do not believe there is a God, are striving to convince others that God so loved the world, as to send his Son to save all sinners? The insinuation comes about as near the truth, as we should, to contend that Mr. Adams was not blinded by education or interest, but wrote after the manner of candid impartial historians. This insinuation is no more consistent, than we should be in the saggestion, that a blind man, who did not believe there was any sun, was much engaged in convincing people that the sun shone on all men, the evil and the good. We are under the same obligation to believe him, as we should be, were he to assure us in the first place, that he never had any father, and then strive to make us believe that his father sent him to college, to strengthen and enlarge his capacities, that he might comprehend the amazing fact, that an Atheist did not hold that God loved the world! O, the power of superstition! O, the blindness of Priests !

Mr. Adams thinks there may have been some in all ages who may have embraced the doctrine at heart, but did not dare profess it for fear of persecution. That is doubtless correct; and by the way it shows, what experience would lead us to believe, viz. that the professors of the Universal Restoration have ever been persecuted, and also, that the believers in endless torments have been their persecutors. Let him have all the honor which the concession affords.

He pretends that libertines and men of corrupt passions embrace the doctrine. But should we not inquire, whether no men of corrupt inclinations have espoused his doctrine? Did the church believe in Universal Salvation during the dark ages of superstition, wickedness and cruelty? Does he not know that the precious doctrine of endless torments, was as dear to the Popes and Cardinals, as the apple of the eye? And while our hearts bleed at the thought, let us in justice to truth ask, for what pretence the Inquisition was established; why every engine of torture was invented to torment heretics ? Was it the believers in endless misery who were thus destroyed ? No, reader; not a crime has been left uncommitted, not a deception unpractised, and no cruelty untried, among the defenders of eternal unmerciful torments! Unsatisfied with threatening their fellow creatures with endless hell-torments in another world, they have invented all possible plans for tormenting them in this world; and in the light of the very flames by which they perished, these holy defenders of Orthodoxy have perpetrated erimes, at which Sodomites would blush. It is an eternal truth, and must be proclaimed, that those who have been

« PreviousContinue »