« AnteriorContinuar »
ing zeal, by which most limitarian professors are prompted to exhibit such violent opposition.
We do charitably believe that thousands of our brethren, of different denominations, do not, at heart, oppose this doctrine, though a mistaken prudence prevents their being its professors.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN INTELLIGENCER.
Sund ob Saviour of cause the scrohi
MR. EDITOR-I have been for many years a believer in the final restoration of all men to holiness and felicity. This doctrine I received, and have contended for, as far as I was able, on the ground of the mediatorial office of Jesus Christ, who is called “the Saviour of the world.” I considered our Lord in this character, because the scriptures so frequently speak of his “reconciling all things to himself," and subjecting the world to his righteous authority. The preachers of universalism, whom I sometimes heard, used to argue against a limited salvation, from the scriptural declarations, that Christ died for all, and that it was the divine purpose, through his mediatorial work, to bring "every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the father.” They likewise contended, in opposition to those who maintain that all opportunity for salvation closes with the present life, that the empire of Christ extends into a future world, or at least that no evidence to the contrary appears in the Bible. In vindication of the idea, that wicked inen may be restored to holiness and happiness in another life, I have heard Universalist preachers cite the promises made to Sodom and her daughters, that they should return to their former estate.
I had always supposed that these views of the doctrine in question were correct and scriptural. I had believed that repentance was a necessary process of mind, a mean to effect the sinner's salvation. Nor was it till lately, that I learned, that these ideas are considered by many as absurd, and that a different scheme is, by some, openly defended. According to the plan here alluded to, Jesus Christ saves those only who are made acquainted with his doctrine, by which they are delivered from all groundless fears of future misery, and made exceedingly happy in the prospects that lie before them. But as the number, who gain this knowledge in the present state is very small; and as millions live and die, ignorant of Christ and his doctrine, and religion, he cannot be said to be their Saviour, and of course, the doctrine of the universality of his grace, of his dying for, and being the Saviour of all men is unfounded. You may perhaps conclude, that this deficiency is balanced by extending the dominion of Christ into the future world. This, however, does not seem to be the case. When the abettors of this scheme are asked concerning the state of such as live and die in impenitence; they say that death delivers them from all iniquity, and they pass at once into glory and felicity ; and they rest the proof of this theory upon this declaration, “ he that is dead is freed from sin," and consequently, say they, from misery or punishment. This doctrine, if I understand it, makes repentance unnecessary, it knows nothing of a moral, disciplinary process, by which to subject the creature to the dominion of the Saviour ; and it appears to exclude the agency of Jesus Christ from the salvation of all, who are not, in this life, made acquainted with his doctrine.
I have said, Mr. Editor, that my information, that this doctrine was believed, was recently received ; and you may wish to know what impression it made upon my mind. I will confess to you, that for reasons already advanced, iť struck me with surprise. I found, that if this doctrine were true, we ought never again to call Christ the Saviour of the world, or of all men ; and that the work of subjecting the sinner to God, and transforming his soul into the divine image, is not to be attributed to the mediator, but is to be. considered as the result of a physical law of our nature: Death delivers us from sin and misery. Surely, thought I, if this be the doctrine of the bible, I am grossly ignorant of that sacred book; “I have not so learned Christ;" and if to believe in this theory is to be a universalist, I am not of that order. Men may call me what they please; perhaps I may be unable to say what I AM; I can however say what I am not; I am not a universalist, EUMENES.
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.
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 proyed 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 taking 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.