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care by Universalists in their replies and other writings. Not an allusion to their interpretations escapes him in a single instance; not an intimation that any other meaning had ever been pointed out, or attempted to be shown, than what he assigns. He merely rings over the old changes on those texts, the true application of which be knew to be the only question in dispute,—and forthwith the matter is clearly proved by Scripture! Why should he pass this off for 'an ample discussion,' a ' full and thorough investigation?'
The fault of this disingenuousness however does by no means rest on Mr. Parker alone: it is the common characteristic of nearly all the public opposition that has for a long time been made to Universalism. The whole course of the controversy, with the exception of a very few cases, has been a sort of theological game of scornful. An attack is made from the pulpit or the press, alleging as unanswerable objections such texts as these, 'he that believeth not shall be damned,'—' be that shall blaspheme against the holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation,'—'it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world neither in the world to come,'—'depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire. . . .and these shall go away into everlasting punishment,' ike. &c. The Universalists in answer refer their opponents to the contexts of these passages and to the Scripture usage of similar expressions, showing as they contend, that the texts have been misapplied, and that they have no relation to the subject in controversy. Forth comes another attack, avoiding to be sure all notice of the explanations offered, but proving very satisfactorily by reference to chapter and verse that the Bible reads, 'he that believeth not shall be damned,'—and so on as before. The Universalists reply, that they had hoped to be understood from tbe first to admit that these texts were in the Bible; that they are thoroughly aware of the fact, and need no further labors to convince them of it; that this is not precisely the point in question; but that the sole inquiry is, whether these passages ought not to be explained in agreement with their contexts and with Scripture usage: all of which, in order to secure a hearing, they lay at much length before their opponents. The old attack is repeated in the old form, and again answered; it is reiterated and re-echoed from north and south, from east and west; and as the Universalists persevere in appealing to the context and to Scripture usage, it is hinted, in an anxious way, that they are heyond the reach of the gospel, and that their interpretations of the texts adduced, are such flagrant perversions as none could be guilty of, unless given over to believe a lie that they might be damned. In vain do they remind their antagonists that the interpretations so contemptuously treated, happen in most cases to be the very same that commentators and critics of the highest repute among themselves, have proposed; the old catalogue of texts is again brought forward, as if it had never been considered nor received the least attention.
Nothing is plainer than that such a procedure has no bearing on the merits of the case; and notwithstanding the most solemn professions, it is about as plain that the real object must be some other than the ostensible one; for what man in his senses ever supposed that the proper way to discuss a subject was to throw back in the teeth of his opponents the same arguments that they had refuted some fifty or a hundred times? No matter whether it be done in mild or in opprobrious language; in either case it is but an appeal to popular prejudice. It is well known that the great mass of community was brought up to associate the idea of endless punishment with the sound of certain texts; and advantage is taken of this inveterate habit, to confirm the established and to produce impressions on the wavering and inconsiderate. But does not the history of the past show that this management has on the whole resulted, as it ought, in advancing the cause it was intended to look down? Let the opponents of Universalism, if they would be thought candid or honorable, change immediately their mode of controversy, nor sullenly continue to take for granted a certain application of texts, knowing that the application is the very thing in dispute.
One of the most favorite appeals to popular prejudice in this controversy, is, the plea that Universalism is of irreligious and immoral influence. This is urged at considerable length by Mr. Parker, though not in so coarse and angry a style as by many. In substance, however, he has brought forward about ail the particulars which others have alleged, so that our remarks on his statements will cover the ground usually assumed under this head. He devotes an entire Lecture to the oft repeated proposition that' Universalism does not produce a religious life, while the system opposed to it does produce genuine practical piety.' It would be an instructive inquiry, which of the doctrines most naturally inspires love to God and man, that of universal goodness, or that of interminable wrath; but it might be out of place here, since Mr. Parker professes to appeal, not to speculation, but to facts. What are his facts? He arranges them thus: That system which holds the doctrine of eternal punishment, leads many to come out from the world by an open and public profession of their faith in Christ,—leads to a life of prayer,—leads men to active exertion to send the gospel to the destitute,—and often reclaims men from vicious habits and from a life of sin; but Universalism produces none of these effects. He adds that 'the system which holds the doctrine of eternal punishment never occasions distress in a dying hour; but Universalism frequently leads to the most distressing apprehensions on a death-bed.' This sentence is rather strangely expressed; the meaning however is, that many lament on the approach of death, that they have embraced Universalism; but none that they have believed in eternal punishment.
Previously to the examination of these statements, we must observe that if the effects alleged be produced directly by the doctrine of eternal punishment, and do not flow as naturally from the opposite, the conclusion will indeed be overwhelming, but it will fall on another quarter than it was aimed at. All that boasted separation front the world, all that public profession of faith in Christ, all those prayers, all those active exertious to send the gospel to the destitute, all that moral reformation—all that goes td constitute that boasted superiority, is just such as proceeds from no purer source than the fear of eternal punishment! If this be not what is meant by Mr. Parker and others who urge the appeal, they mean nothing in point; for if they trace those effects to other influences than the prospect of endless torment, the question no longer lies between the two doctrines. Let those who are so fond of this appeal, remember that the very proposition that Universalism does not lead to a religious life, while the opposite does, necessarily implies that the religion they have in view, is, like the evil tongue, 'set on fire of hell,' and cannot exist without it. Take the fear of this away, teach men that all will be saved, and the whole flood of piety, so called, in which the accusers glory, would disappear from the world, like a stream on the drying up of the fountain. Then, let it vanish, that we may have something in its place, springing from better principles. The truth, however, is, that most of the effects alleged result, not from the doctrine of endless punishment, but from certain circumstances that may he connected indifferently with either of the doctrines in question. This will appear in the examination of Mr. Parker's statements, to which we now proceed.
Universalists, it is said, do not generally make an open and public profession of faith iu Christ. Now, it is so notorious that on the contrary they are by no means backward in publicly avowing and defending their faith in Christ as the Saviour of the world, that the charge cannot be supposed to mean what it expresses. Its real burthen, when stripped of all disguise, is not that they make no such profession, but that they do not make it according to the method practised by their accusers. They do not come forward on a set day, with certain formalities, and proclaim their religiousness; they do not publicly relate experiences; many of them do not enter into the church covenants of modern times, nor observe ordinances. But, be they faulty here or not, one thing is manifest: neither of the doctrines in question has any peculiar influence on these particulars. Some of them are mere fashions, changing perpetually with time and place. Thus, the custom of relating experiences and of proclaiming to the world one's piety, is, even among the believers of endless punishment, confined to a small and comparatively an insignificant number; while on the other hand it is found also among a few Universalists— very few indeed, but bearing perhaps about the like proportion to the whole body. Why then is it claimed as the legitimate fruit of belief in endless misery? Those immense communities of this faith, the Roman Catholic, the Greek, the Lutheran, the English, and some other churches, have nothing of the kind: it is in the diminutive sects of our country alone, that it happens to prevail. But since it happens to be the reigning fashion here, public sentiment in many places regards it as sacred, and confounds it with profession of faith in Jesus Christ; and advantage is taken of this prejudice to cast suspicion and abhorrence on those Universalists who neglect it. As to the formation of churches and the observance of ordinances, they result from conviction of their importance and from zeal in their cause, not from any peculiar influence of the doctrine of eternal punishment. The Quakers, who hold this tenet, discard those institutions altogether, because they believe them obsolete; and Universalists have seen or imagined so many abuses in them, that they have gone perhaps beyond the medium, and frequently neglected what they ought only to have reformed. To proceed: what is meant by the common allegation that Universalists do not lead a life of prayer? Merely that their devotions do not come out before men in vocal performances, so much as those of others; for, of the exercises of their hearts, we suppose their accusers will' not assume to be competent judges. And when it is said that they are not active in sending the gospel to the destitute, nothing more is meant than that they do not form missionary societies to support preachers in India, and other heathen countries. Well, how long have their accusers done this? About twenty or thirty years! There is certainly not a little audacity in this charge. Having flourished a century or two, spread over the whole country, become powerful and wealthy, and having a good supply of unsettled preachers, they engaged a (ew years since in the missionary cause; and forthwith, missions, however conducted, are so sacred, so indispensable, that all who oppose their management, or who do not even engage in them, are of course no Christians. What were they themselves, forty years ago? And what was their doctrine of endless punishment, at that time? Doubtless, not the true doctrine, since it did not then' lead tbem to active exertion to send the gospel to the destitute,' notwithstanding the abundance of their means. They should consider that the Universalists, as a separate denomination, are only of fifty or sixty years standing, and that from a variety of causes they have been obliged to employ all their means at home, where the fields are still white for the harvest, and the laborers few. These circumstances being so manifest, it is difficult to see how their opponents can, with perfect sincerity, urge this charge as an objection to their doctrine, though it is well enough calculated to arm all the prejudices of a community enthusiastic in our present missionary schemes. As to another charge, that Universalists frequently renounce their faith on a death-bed, we suspect that, admitting it true to its utmost extent, its authors would feel none of its alleged force, were it but turned against themselves. They do not reflect that, among the believers of endless misery there are, to say the least, as frequent occurrences of a parallel kind. Those who think themselves converted and in a state of salvation, often fall into despair, and in the closing scene lament that they ever indulg