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On the present occasion, no other authority need be quoted. He has not given an opinion on the subject, he appeals to undeniable facts, and in whatever light you view it, the assertion which you make is proved untrue by those of your own creed. If Mr. Scott ut. tered a falsehood, which every man of observation knows he did not, this very circumstance as fully refutes your assertion, as the admission of his statement. Take which horn of this dilemma you deem most expedient; either destroys your premises and the conclusion they were intended to support vanishes into thin air.
In thus summarily destroying both your premises and conclusion, the pledge made in my two first statements has been redeemed. If the dreadful fears of future torment do not drive men to heaven, nor cause them to be virtuous, your reasons are at best, nugatory. Admitting your unsupported assertions respecting the conduct of professed Universalists to be true, (which would be a sweeping concession) your own principles would thereby gain
nothing. Even such a wholesale admission would bring us merely on a level; a small step, indeed, towards the establishment of your tenets. But it is yet to be proved that the effects of a belief in the final holiness and happiness of all men, leads to the same HORRID IMMORALITIES as shall yet be fastened on those of your creed, by the most unquestioned and unquestionable authority.
I shall close this number by a brief survey of the nondescript argument found in the last paragraph of your first letter.
“ What motive can you have for embracing the doctrine of universal salvation ? If it be true, you have nothing to fear from rejecting it; but if it be false, you have every thing to fear from embracing it. Disbelieving the doctrine can do you no harm; but believing it may do you infinite injury."
To this question it is answered, because the belief in this doctrine gives peace and joy; and because we who believe, enter into rest, by being satisfied that he without whom a sparrow falls not to the ground, is fully able, and will finally bring into the one fold, all the erring children of men, who are of more value than many sparrows. The ifs and buts which follow the question, are too contemptible quibbles for sober investigation.
If this apology for an argument be any thing more or less than a bar to inquiry, and a bait for hypocrites, I will confess my inability to comprehend it. If it should prove true—it is of no possible consequence to doubt it, although truth is allowed to be the first point of inquiry. The belief of a lie is therefore preferable to a belief of the truth, unless the truth should happen to be in orthodox hands. From such subterfuges, such hiding places for distressed argument, such sublimated nonsense, let every man who has independence of mind, turn in disgust. Yours,
To Red. Joel Hawes,—Hartford.
Sir-It is a needless, as it would certainly be an irksome task to follow you through the wilderness of unsupported assertions, bold assumptions, and sophistical deductions which you have made. No man of ingenuous feelings, but must condemn the method which you have adopted, to enlist the prejudices of the ignorant and the indolent, by a repetition of the cant language of the ill-informed and the malicious, and the
adoption of the most puerile reasoning, and self-destroying conclusions.
It has been said, that “inconsistency is a badge of error.” The maxim appears self-evident—it is acknoweged by you in charging the Universalists with inconsistency, and with having "no uniform character.” I shall examine a portion of your statements, by comparing them with others, and with scripture testimony. Should they bear this test, I am a false ac
You say—“come what will in the future world, it will be well with the righteous." If by the righteous you mean the saved, as I presume you do, let us hear your ideas of salvation.
"If men are punished in the present life according to their deserts, then Universalism is false. This asserts that all men are saved. Saved from what ? From nothing, if they endure the full penalty of the law. It is absurd to talk of men as experiencing salvation, after they have received all the punishment due for their offences, and have thereby fully satisfied the demands of divine justice. Free punishment and free salvation are totally inconsistent with each other. Which then will the Universalist assert? If he says all are freely saved, then none are punished as they deserve; and if not punished in this life, they may justly be in the life to come.'
I have perused and re-perused this quotation for the purpose of rescuing it, if possible, from the ridiculous consequences which it clearly involves. According to my understanding, this paragraph imports, that if men are punished in this life according to their deserts, they must also be punished in the life to come ; for sert, that they can be saved “from nothing, if they endure the full penalty of the law.” You again say, that those who are freely saved, are not “ punished as they deserve; and if not punished in this life, they
may justly be in the life to come.” The query is now proper-How do
you know that “ come what will in the future world, it will be well with the righteous ?" You have laid down the principle, that the saved, are freely saved--and saved, too, from the consequences threatened against transgressors. On your own system, then, if they are not punished in this life, they may justly be in the life to come. I ask now for the safety of your saved, who, not suffering in this world according to their malefactions, as you say they do not, are exposed justly to suffer for them in the life to come. Whether God will exhibit less justice in the future, than in the present life, is left for you to answer. Your words are these.
“Now let me ask, is there any such distinction made between the righteous and the wicked in the present life, as is implied in the character of God as a rewarder?
Not only do you here deny, in the most express terms, that the wicked are punished in this life, but the argument which you would deduce from the statement is, that in the future world, the vicious will experience the unmitigated vengeance of an incensed, omnipotent Jehovah. But did you foresee the consequences of your unsupported statement? You exhibit the strongest repugnance to that meaning of the term salvation, which "merely signifies deliverance from the power, and not from the curse of sin.” If by the curse of sin you mean the penalty threatened to the disobedient, where are your sanctions ? The thunders of Mount Sinai, "the intimations of conscience, and the natural apprehensions of men,” which at times you hold out as motives for obedience, are reduced to the whispering zephyr of a summer evening. But for what purpose do you ever hold them up to the gaze
of men? is it to make them virtuous ? You represent a life of virtue as a life of suffering, and a life of vice as
a life of pleasure. Nor this alone. Your ipse dixit has already decided, that the virtuous cannot be saved, as “it is absurd to talk of men as experiencing salvation, after they have received all the punishment due for their offences." But are not all men sinners? In contrasting the happy effects of vice, and the miserable effects
of virtue, in this life, either the righteous have, or have not received for their demerits; or were they never sinners? If they have-if suffering be meted to them in this world, it must be in the coming, on your own hypothesis. If they have not been rewarded, or punished, in the present world, the justice of God тау
find them out in the coming. In one case, they are hopeless—in the other, a peradventure, a mayhap, of still suffering the due demerit of their sins, hangs like a portentous cloud over their future prospects. Take the sentiment which way you will, and if it make any christians, they must be gloomy, doubting christians, and he that doubteth is damned," or in perplexity, dread, and frequently in despair.
If, then, on your own scheme, salvation cannot be experienced but by hell-deserving wretches, and those who are saved, are unjustly saved, the contingency is in favour of the sinner, and those who heartily believe in your theory, have no possible motive to become virtuous. If to be saved, their demerits must entitle them to suffer in regions of hopeless despair-and if a life of virtue in this world lead only to a bed of thorns; what nameable cause, either in this or a coming world, offers a solitary motive to virtue? .
You have written a long paragraph in the face of scripture, and daily observation, to maintain the doctrine of future retribution, as a deduction from your proposition, that virtue does not bring its own reward here, and that vice does not, and cannot, receive the penalty attached to the breach of God's law in the present state. If your argument be good, it will bear