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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
Old IIothers, il noto such
historians. This insinuation is no more consistent, than we should be in the saggestion, that a blind inan, 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
most tenacious for the doctrine of endless misery, have also been the only wilful and wicked persecutors of others. And at this time, we find the same spirit, in a high degree, among those who call themselves Orthodox, and others by the names, Libertines, Unitarians or Universalists.
[We do not publish the following letter as a mark of disrespect for our Methodist friends, generally, or because we suppose they would descend to such scurrility as it opposes. But as the writer of the letter was once a Methodist preacher and is frequently attacked by them in an unfair manner, we owe the publication to him as a manly defence. The Editor takes no part in the subject, and is wholly unacquainted with Mr. Shaw and the people of his circuit. We have reason to believe the letter substantially correct, till it is contradicted and disproved. We hope it will be a warning to others, to desist from unfair abuse of a doctrine they do not understand.]
LETTER TO REV. MR. SHAW. DEAR SIR-I had the pleasure of attending your meeting on Sabbath evening, the 3d instant, and was much surprised to hear your statements made agaiost those, that profess to believe in the final salvation of all men, without bringing to your aid any passages of Sacred Writ, to support assertions, made in a very bold and uncharitable, not to say, in an unchristianlike, spirit. When we hear a person, and especially, one who professes to be a preacher of that gospel which brings glad tidings of great joy to all people, condemn any system of doctrine, taught amongst men, we expect he will back his declarations by the scriptures of divine truth; and when he tells us that the doctrine of the final restoration of all things, “spoken by the mouth of all God's holy prophets since the world began,” sprung from the bottomless pit; that it opens the floodgates of wickedness and all manner of sin and iniquity, without any qualification or explanation whatever, we must conclude that he is wholly unacquainted with the doctrine he condemns, or does it out of prejudice, and is vain enough to suppose that his hearers will take his words for truth. “ Search the scriptures,” is an injunction of him “who spake as never man spake." And what do they tell us ? "Judge not, lest ye be judged,” is the language of the Saviour of the world, and he came not to condemn, but to save the world. He told his disciples to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ;” and, by the gospel, we understand, GOOD NEWS—such as was preached by the angel to the shepherds. "Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE: for, unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” But the gospel has altered much since that day, if you preach it correctly; for you will have it to mean the eternal misery of at least one half of the human family. But you say, the doctrine of Universal Salvation is bad, because the most wicked and abominable profess to believe it! If all who profess to be christians, were really such, you might bring your argument to bear upon the doctrine of Universal Salvation. But did you never see or hear of a man, whom you thought to be bad, that did not profess to believe that doctrine? If not, have the candor to inform me for what purpose you have societymeetings, when nearly one half of the neighborhood are called together, to accuse or acquit a member? For what purpose are some of your quarterly meeting Conferences held, where letter after letter is read, deposition after deposition brought forward, from one to twenty or more witnesses called and examined, to accuse or acquit--who? why a preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America! And for what are some of your brethren, not to say sisters, publicly read out of your society ? For my part I have reason to suppose that all this is done on account of disorderly life and conversation, in those that are so dealt with. And if so, the Methodist doctrine sprung from the bottomless pit, according to your own theory, which you say is correct. You also observed that the wicked have no hope; but only an expectation. But for my part, I cannot conceive the difference between them, and had you have taken pains to have read the chapter following your text, you would have there found that they have a hope. But because their hope of happiness once disappoints them, does it follow of a certainty that it always will? even after they are brought to act from a different motive? If so, what encouragement have you to pray or preach? You prayed to God to convert souls the evening I heard you; and I hope you prayed in faith, for what is
not of faith is sin. But I presume there was none converted that night. Will you now give up, and say, I will pray no more. No, I am persuaded it is far from you so to think ; but like Abraham of old, “who against hope believed in hope,” still continue to pray for them. And I will appeal to the experience of every christian, if they did not once expect and hope for happiness in the things of the world and in sin; but they were disappointed; and if your reasoning is just, they are not christians now, and even you yourself must plunge the fiery gulf of eternal woe. If you are careful to examine, you will find that Solomon (whona you think to be a wise man in many respects) uses the words hope and expectation, as applied to both the righteous and the wicked. You also observed that it was a bad doctrine, for you never knew of a reformation under the preachers of it.' Now, sir, I would candidly ask you, what you understand, or would have your hearers understand, by a reformation? Is it to come together to worship God, with a zeal without knowledge? to make his house a place of confusion, and to conduct in such a manner as would put modesty to the blush? Is it to profess that religion which is “ pure and peaceable," and at the same time, be engaged in quarrels and disputes ? Is it to profess that religion which “ thinketh no evil,” and, at the same time, speak against, and tell every thing to hurt and defame those that are their professed brethren? Is it to profess that religion which “ forgives the faults of others,” and, at the same time, exaggerate them in every manner ? Is it to profess that religion which teaches us “ to love our enemies," and at the same time, evince to the world by our actions and words, that we hate, even, our brethren? Is it to profess that religion, which teaches us to pray to God in faith “ for all men, that they may come to the knowledge of the truth," and, at the same time, to send, as far as in our power, a part of the human family to endless pain ? If that is what you call a reformation, I believe you, when you say, you “ never heard of one under a preacher of Universal Salvation," and I hope in God we may never have one of that description amongst us! I should be extremely sorry to have the time of our preachers spent, as well as that of others, in endeavoring to settle and adjust the difficulties