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ministry, and attend a few serinons of our high orihodox preachers, he would be very much at a loss to conjecture what religion they were of; and if he should attempt to liken it to any thing he ever heard of while on earth, it would be to some branch of the Gnostics.“After all this parade of words, said my friend, I take you to be a Universalist or a Unitarian.” Keeping my observations in mind, it is immaterial what I am called. I have said I mean to follow Jesus Christ. He was of Nazareth, and declared, by one of his chosen companions, in the first sermon preached after his ascension, to be a man approved of God by miracles, and wonders and signs, which God did by him. If any body knew what Jesus was, I believe Peter was among those who knew him best. Now taking this in connexion with the doctrines, precepts, and example Jesus left to the world, with the full assurance of living again in a resurrection state, that our happiness or misery is predieated as consequences of our virtue or vices here, and all under the general administration of the providence of God our heavenly Father, leaves no doubt in my mind, but that all things and events will terminate finally in the happiness of all. This will be to the glory of Ġod-and nothing short of this, can be, according to my view of God's administration.
The scriptures abound with passages where God is spoken of, as a kind and affectionate Father of all the human family; and it seems to me we must give up that term as improperly used, and not at all expressive of the relation the Deity intended to exhibit of himself to the human race; or we must admit it in its fullest extent as to what a human father would do, to and for his children, were his power, knowledge, and goodness equal to his affection. Did you ever know a child to behave so undutifully to his father, as that it would not be imputed to the father as unnatural and cruel, if he had power and knowledge to place his child in a situation where he would be reformed, and become a virtuous and obedient child, and yet refused to do it out of vengeance to his child, because he had not duly improved, and made proper returns of gratitude for the common privileges he had been indulged with ? My friend acknowledged that he believed every father, unless he were a monster, would so apply his chastening rod to his refractory child, as sooner or later to work out his entire reformation, if he possessed knowledge and power enough. - But said he, “how would it do to preach up to the world, that the wicked will finally be happy ; would it not tempt them to go on in sin, and add miscry to their wickedness, until the world became a great bedlam, a very hell on earth?” I answered, that what would be the consequence of a general preaching of this doctrine of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of the Deity could only be known, so far as future events can be foreknown, by reasoning theoretically on the human mind, connected with passions, appetites, and affections, under the guidance of reason, and under the influence of hope and fear. All sensitive creatures seek pleasure, and all chastisement is only pain designed to prevent wrong elections, and induce to right and proper ones. Hence, endless or everlasting chastisement seems to approach pretty near to a solecism. If chastisement or punishment does not always succeed in bringing the sufferer to reformation, it is owing to the want of knowledge and power in the person inflicting it. But let us examine the history of the human race as far as this particular point is made a disputed subject, and so far as history will lead us. The objection is; if the public teachers of religion were to preach up the idea that pain, misery, and torments unutterable in the resurrection state, for misbehavior in this transitory world, were to be less than infinite, or of shorter duration than eternity, people would be more likely to indulge their vicious passions and appetites, than they have been under this thundering doctrine. This I deny; because I have not yet found a person who would say he really believed there was a strong probability that he should finally be thrown into that state of endless wo. The generality of those who appear at first as if they were willing you should think they had worked themselves up to a state of mind to believe this doctrine, have a salvo, in what they call sovereign grace, for themselves and their particular friends. Hence, these believers in endless misery, always have an uncommon charity for the most notorious sinners that are dooined to the gallows, when they are told, that a moment, or even a second of time, before they are choaked, they were heard to utter a few of their cabalistical words, about sovereign grace, saving faith, precious blood, and infinite merit, &c. I have never met with one of these believers, who would
he verily believed one of his own sect or creed, however immoral his life may have been, was doomed to hell ; though they say there is no hope for one of their morally honest neighbors whose creed they happen to deem heterodox-poor soul, there is no chance for him; he, they say,
relied on his morality! Again why may we not reason analogically, from the effects of temporal punishments to the effect of future punishments in the resurrection state? A general survey of the European governments for the three or four last centuries, will hardly support the objection. And in our own country, through the whole extent of it, there has been a regular mitigation of the criminal code for nearly half a century, and I believe the fact is, that crimes have decreased, and general happiness increased. Again there are numerous societies of Universalists in our own country ; indeed they are daily increasing, and my acquaintance with them, which is as extensive as it is with most of the other sects, will not warrant a conclusion in favor of the objection. Good education, with chastisement properly applied in this and the resurrection state, I have no doubt, will bring all nations, tongues, and people to bow to the sceptre of him, whose yoke is easy, and whose burden is light.
“I wish, said my friend, you would tell me more particularly how this matter stands on scripture grounds; you seem to have reasoned, or conjectured wholly on
the nature and constitution of the human mind theoretically; and the natural relation of God as the Father of the human race; and on the experience of Governments; with appearances as they may be collected from the characters of individuals among the societies of Universalists in this and other countries—now this opens too wide a field for me to travel over. to the moral conduct of the Universalists, they like the Quakers, are but a small portion compared to the great body of the other sects, and therefore their morality, if they have more, or even as much as those of other denominations, may fairly be attributed to their considering themselves as being overlooked and watched for their halting, and so from motives of mere prudence, decency and good neighbors, carry themselves better than they would, were they under no other restraint than their religious tenets lay them.”
I told my friend I thought I understood all his positions; and would consider them-I was ready to admit there was some weight in his observation that a small society separating themselves, on particular principles, from the rest of mankind, will naturally from the pride and ambition of the party feelings, which are always more or less identified with ourselves, become vigilant to recommend their society, by good conduct, to the rest of mankind; but does not the very ground of this observation go to shew us that people may be well governed without any view of punishments hereafter, and so destroy the whole of the argument in favor of everlasting torments ? I wished him to think of this against be called to see me again; and I would endeavor then to tell him how this matter stands on grounds more scriptural.
APHORISMS. To acknowledge a fault and refrain from it, is but saying, I am wiser to-day, than I was yesterday.
When your reason and judgment gain an ascendancy over one evil propensity, consider the victory as worthy of perpetual commemoration
PROCEEDINGS Of the General Convention of Universalists, of the New England States and others, in annnal session, at WARNER,
N. H. September 18th and 19th, 1822. The Ministers and Delegates composing the Convention, met at the hall of Br. - George on the evening of the 17th, and opened the council with solemn and devout prayer, by Br. Samuel C. Loveland. And
1st. Chose Br. Hosea BALLOU, Moderator.
2d. Chose Brs. S. C. LOVELAND and HOSEA BALLOU, 2d. Clerks.
3d. Proceeded to read and examine the letters from various Societies, and the credentials of the delegates, which furnished just occasion for rational joy of heart, and gratitude to our common Father in heaven, for the prosperity which he has kindly sent to our Sion the year past.
4th. Pursuant to requests from Societies in Cambridgeport, (Mass.) New-London and Wilmot, (N. H.) and Strafford, (Vt.) to be received into the fellowship of the General Convention Voted that said requests be granted.
5th. Chose Brs. Sebastian Streeter, Hosea Ballou and Russell Streeter, a committee to attend to requests, either for letters. of fellowship, or for ordination, and to report thereon.
6th. Adjourned until the morning of the 18th, at 8 o'clock, A.M. Prayer by Br. Elias Smith.
7th. Met on the morning of Wednesday; Prayer by Br. Hosea Ballou.
8th. Called on the Committees which were appointed last year to visit the several associations in connexion with the General Convention, who gave favorable representations concerning the good work of the Redeemer's grace in the north, the south, the east, and the west.
9th. Adjourned to attend public services. The order of the morning service was as follows:
Br. Kittridge Haven, the introductory prayer. Br. H. Ballou, 2d. the Sermon from Rom. i. 25. Br. Asa Priest, the concluding Prayer.
AFTERNOON SERVICE. Br. Sebastian Streeter, the introductory Prayer. Br. Elias Smith, the Sermon from Daniel vii. 13, 14. Concluding prayer, Br. John E. Paliner.