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sage the word in question occurs twice; in one case it is rendered world, and in the other everlasting. In the latter case the term has an endless sense, because it is applied to the Deity ; in the former case it is used in a limited sense, because the passage speaks of the beginning of the world. In Titus i. 2, the apostle speaks of eternal life which God promised before the world began. Here again the same word occurs twice. Once it is rendered eternal and applied to life, and consequently is used in an endless sense ; and once it is rendered world, and must be used in a limited sense, for it would be an absurdity to speak of the beginning and end of eternity. In Habak. iii. 6, the word “everlasting" is twice employed; once it is applied to the mountains, which the passage declares, “were scattered," and once to the ways of God, which we know are unchangeable.
We have here three several instances in which the terms rendered everlasting and for ever are twice employed in the same passage, by way of antithesis; and yet every person will admit that the word has one meaning in one part of the sentence, and another meaning in the other. Why then may not the same term in the same construction be employed to denote an endless duration in the one case, and a limited duration in the other, in the 25th of Matthew, as well as in the 16th of Romans, the 1st of Titus, or the 3d of Habakkuk? From what we have offered upon this subject, I think it
, follows most conclusively that the words rendered eternal and for ever, are loose and indefinite in their meaning; and that we must look at the subject to which they are applied, in order to determine their sense in any given case. It has also been shown that there is nothing in the nature of punishment which would give an endless sense to the term, when applied to that subject; but on the contrary, chastisement, the only punishment worthy of a merciful God, necessarily implies a limitation.
But in contending for the final subjugation of the world, we do not overlook the agency of man. It is no part of our creed that man is to be passive in the great work of salvation. We believe that all men will ultimately be made happy; because we believe that all men
7; will of their own accord bow submissively and become the willing subjects of the Prince of Peace. The free agency instead of constituting any objection to our views, is the medium through which the Spirit of God operates in bringing men to holiness and happiness. On any system of religion, those who are saved, are saved willingly; and if one free agent can be brought to penitence without impairing his freedom, the same may be true of all.
Restorationists believe that the doctrine of the Restoration is the
most consonant to the perfections of the Deity, the most worthy of the character of Christ, and the only doctrine which will accord with pious and devout feelings, or harmonize with the scriptures. They teach their followers, that ardent love to God, active benevolence to man, and personal meekness and purity, are the natural results of those views.
Though the Restorationists, as a separate sect, have arisen within a few years, their sentiments are by no means new. Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Didymus of Alexandria, Gregory Nyssen, and several others, among the Christian fathers of the first four centuries, it is said, believed and advocated the restoration of all fallen intelligences. A branch of the German Baptists, before the Reformation, held this doctrine, and propagated it in that country. Since the Reformation this doctrine has had numerous advocates; and some of them have been among the brightest ornaments of the Church. Among the Europeans, we may mention the names of Jeremy White of Trinity College, Dr. Burnet, Dr. Cheyne, Chevalier Ramsay, Doctor Hartley, Bishop Newton, Mr. Stonehouse, Mr. Petitpierre, Dr. Cogan, Mr. Lindsey, Dr. Priestley, Dr. Jebb, Mr. Relly, Mr. Kenrick, Mr. Belsham, Dr. Southworth Smith, and many others. In fact the Restora
, tion is the commonly received doctrine among the English Unitarians at the present day. In Germany, a country which, for several centuries, has taken the lead in all theological reforms, the orthodox have espoused this doctrine.
The Restoration was introduced into America about the middle of the eighteenth century, though it was not propagated much till about 1775 or 1780, when John Murray and Elhanan Winchester became public advocates of this doctrine, and by their untiring labours extended it in every direction. From that time to the present, many men have been found in all parts of our country, who have rejoiced in this belief. This doctrine found an able advocate in the learned Dr. Chauncey, of Boston. Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia, Dr. Smith, of New York, Mr. Foster, of New Hampshire, may also be mentioned as advocates of the Restoration.
Most of the writers, whose names are given above, did not belong to a sect which took the distinctive name of Restorationists. They were found in the ranks of the various sects into which the Christian world has been divided. And those who formed a distinct sect were more frequently denominated Universalists than Restorationists. In 1785, a convention was organized at Oxford, Massachusetts, under the auspices of Messrs. Winchester and Murray. And as all who
had embraced universal salvation believed, that the effects of sin and the means of grace extended into a future life: the terms Restorationist and Universalist were then used as synonymous; and those who formed that convention adopted the latter as their distinctive name.
During the first twenty-five years, the members of the Universalist Convention were believers in a future retribution. But about the year 1818, Hosea Ballou, now of Boston, advanced the doctrine that all retribution is confined to this world.
That sentiment at first was founded upon the old Gnostic notion, that all sin originates in the flesh, and that death frees the soul from all impurity. Subsequently some of the advocates for the no-futurepunishment scheme, adopted the doctrine of materialism, and hence maintained that the soul was mortal; that the whole man died a temporal death, and that the resurrection was the grand event which would introduce all men into heavenly felicity.
Those who have since taken to themselves the name of Restora. tionists, viewed these innovations as corruptions of the gospel, and raised their voices against them. But a majority of the convention having espoused these sentiments, no reformation could be effected.
The Restorationists, believing these errors to be increasing, and finding in the connexion what appeared to them to be a want of engagedness in the cause of true piety, and in some instances an open opposition to the organization of churches ; and finding that a spirit of levity and bitterness characterized the public labours of their brethren, and that practices were springing up totally repugnant to the principles of Congregationalism, resolved to obey the apostolic injunction, by coming out from among them, and forming an independent association. Accordingly a convention, consisting of Rev. Paul Dean, Rev. David Pickering, Rev. Charles Hudson, Rev. Adin Ballou, Rev. Lyman Maynard, Rev. Nathaniel Wright, Rev. Philemon R. Russell, and Rev. Seth Chandler, and several laymen, met at Mendon, Massachusetts, August 17, 1831, and formed themselves into a distinct sect, and took the name of Universal Restorationists.
Since the organization of this association, they have had accessions of six or seven clergymen, so that their whole number of clergymen in 1834, was estimated at fourteen, and the number of their societies at ten or twelve. With all or nearly all these societies an organized church is associated. These societies are principally in Massachusetts, though there is a large society in Providence, Rhode Island, and one in New York city. The largest societies are those of Boston and Providence.
The Independent Messenger, a paper published weekly at Mendon, Massachusetts, by Rev. Adin Ballou, is devoted to the cause of Restorationism.
It ought also to be stated in connexion with this, that there are several clergymen who agree with the Restorationists in sentiment, who still adhere to the Universalist connexion. And if we were to present a complete list of those who believe that all men will ultimately be restored, we might enumerate many of the Unitarian and Christian clergymen. This sentiment prevails more or less among the laity of every sect. The Restorationists are Congregationalists on the subject of church government.
In relation to the trinity, atonement, and free will, the Restorationists' views harmonize with those of the Unitariaus.
In relation to water baptism, they maintain that it may be administered by immersion, suffusion, or sprinkling, either to adults or infants. They do not regard baptism as a saving ordinance; and they are rather disposed to continue this rite from the example of Christ and his apostles, than from any positive command contained in the New Testament. They maintain that the sacrament of the Supper is expressly commanded by Christ, and should be open to all believers of every name and sect; and while they admit that every organized church should have the power to manage its own private and local affairs, they recognise no power in any church to exclude believers of other denominations from the table of our common Master.
The difference between the Restorationists and Universalists relates principally to the subject of a future retribution. The Universalists believe that a full and perfect retribution takes place in this world, that our conduct here cannot affect our future condition, and that the moment man exists after death, he will be as pure and as happy as the angels. From these views the Restorationists dissent. They maintain that a just retribution does not take place in time; that the conscience of the sinner becomes callous, and does not increase in the severity of its reprovings with the increase of guilt; that men are invited to act with reference to a future life; that if all are made perfectly happy at the commencement of the next state of existence, they are not rewarded according to their deeds; that if death introduces them into heaven, they are saved by death, and not by Christ; and if they are made happy by being raised from the dead, they are saved by physical, and not by moral means, and made happy without their agency or consent; that such a sentiment weakens the motives to virtue, and gives force to the temptations of vice; that it is unreasonable in itself, and opposed to many passages of scripture.
BY THOMAS BROWN,
ORANGE CO., N. Y.
The Shakers, or the Millennial Church, the subject of this article, hold that the Apostolic Church gradually degenerated, and finally became a church of Antichrist, under the favour and protection of Constantine, the Roman emperor; but, at the same time, profess to believe that God has, in every age, raised up witnesses to bear testimony against sin and the power of Antichrist; among these they claim to be, and profess to be of those known by the name of the French prophets who were raised up, and endued with the true spirit of prophecy; and that they were the two witnesses mentioned by St. John, who “after three days and a half,” i. e. twelve hundred and sixty years, “stood upon their feet," i. e. were not slain or persecuted unto death.
The French prophets alluded to, first appeared in Dauphiny and the Cevennes in France, about 1688; in a few years, several hundred Protestants professed to be inspired; their bodies were much agitated with various operations: when they received the spirit of prophecy, they trembled, staggered, and fell down and lay as if they were dead; they recovered twitching, shaking, and crying to God for mercy for themselves and for all mankind, not only in their assemblies, but at other meetings. Three of their most distinguished prophets, namely, Elias Marlon, John Cavilier, and Durand Fage, left France about the year 1705, and repaired to London, where they also began to prophesy, with the like operations and ecstasies, as in France. In England they met with much opposition. Several of the prophets went from London to Scotland, and afterwards to Holland, where the magistrates committed them to prison.
James Wardley, a tailor by trade, and Jane, his wife, formerly Quakers, lived at Bolton, county of Lancashire, England, joined the French prophets in testifying against all the churches then in standing. About the year 1747, several other persons were added to them and