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expose the degradation and infamy of those ages; but let this pass, it will suffice to remark that in our own age and country, al least nineteen twentieths of the criminal offences committed, are by persons who believe and have been educated in that doctrine : when these dark and mystic fables, shall have given place to manlier and more scriptural views of God's character and government, there is every reason to think that the tone of moral feeling will be more pure and elevated.
In the conclusion, then, let me earnestly entreat you, my friends, to lay every selfish and party consideration aside, and search diligently for truth; let no croaking menaces, dictated by craft, and in all times resorted to for their effect upon weak minds, discourage you from the pursuit, or repress your efforts for mental emancipation. Heed not my opponent's counsel by praying to be guarded against this or that belief: you cannot certainly know which, or whether either, is correct; it would therefore be a mockery of God to offer up a prayer of the kind; it would be virtually asking him to keep you in your present faith right or wrong! This is the essence of bigotry. Rather pray to have your minds disenthralled from prejudice to have its educational mists dissipated, and to be guarded against the influence of selfish or party considerations in the search for truth. You may be told that this or that doctrine is not safe ; treat such suggestions with the contempt they merit; they have been used by every corrupt party, whether in politics or religion, in order to repress exertions toward reform : Not safe, is the monarchist's watchword of alarm against a change in government; the same is echoed by the Papist against reform in religion ; and it is reiterated by the advocates of an endless hell, against an advance in divine knowledge : this watchword has, to some extent, accomplished its intended ends, but it is becoming trite, and is losing its power. Truth is safe, whatever that truth is; and its pursuit is safe, for should we even fail of the end we cannot but get the nearer to it for our exertions, and fail, if fail we must, with thousands of the noblest and purest of mankind who have failed before us.
POPULAR DEBATE.-No. II.
UNIVERSALISM REDUCED TO AN ABSURDITY.
In a popular attempt to refute this daring heresy, I deem it not only perfectly allowable, but also the most proper and successful mode, to point out its absurd nature and consequences; or in other words, to use the method of argumentation termed by logicians the reductio ad absurdum. I shall adopt this course on the present ccasion, and, therefore, I ask in advance that my auditors will pardon, for the motive's sake, such of my remarks as may seem to border on levity. I hold it to be self-evident, that a doctrine which is fairly reducible to absurdity, must be false.
1st.-What can we possibly gain by adopting the universalist faith? It is not pretended that we shall thereby render our future salvation more secure: admitting its truth, we shall all share its benefits in another life, whether we have believed in it or not. Perhaps we may be told, that to be possessed of this faith will add to our present happiness; but this cannot be granted. I am as happy in my belief at the present as though I were a universalist, and I know not but happier. There is then nothing to be gained by the adoption of this faith, if even true; and if it be false ! dreadful! dreadful will be the issue to those who are deluded by it!
2nd.-Universalists manifest a marvelous faculty in believing the promises of God; but tell them of his threatenings, and you will find them nowise disposed to credit them. Oh no, “God is too good to punish men; it cannot be that he means what he says in this matter." All which, to be sure, is in strict accordance with the carnal heart. If a father promise his son an apple, or any other present, the little urchin will take good care to jog his memory about it; but if a beating be promised he will soon contrive to forget that, and flatter himself his father will forget it too. So it is exactly with universalists in regard to the deity!
3rd.—No doctrine could be hit upon more consoling or convenient to wicked men ; for the bible tells them they “ shall not live out half their days;” and this system says to them, “ Never mind it, sinners ; you shall go immediately to heaven.” There VOL. I.-N
is a decided advantage accruing from sin according to this teaching; for if sin shortens men's days, it only takes them the sooner to heaven! The antediluvians, for instance, were, on account of their abominable crimes, swept away to glory by the waters of the flood! whilst poor old Noah, for his piety, was doorned to linger for years in this vale of sorrow! The same was the case with the Sodomites, Egyptians, Assyrians, etc. who provoked the wrath of God to kill them, and take them home to a world of bliss ! A fine doctrine, this.
4th.-How would you like, my brethren, to sit down in the kingdom of God with murderers, adulterers, thieves, and every description of wicked persons; the rag, tag and bob-tail of mankind? This will surely be the case, if universalism be true! All the moral classifications of human society will be merged in one motley and conglomerated mass! If heaven is to be graced with this kind of neighborhood, I can only say, “O my soul, come not thou into their secret: and to their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united !” Those who wish for such a heaven may have it to themselves for me.
5th.—This doctrine furnishes not an apology merely, but even a motive for suicide. Who would bear the ills of life, its disappointments, sorrows, pains, bereavements, &c. if at any moment he pleased, he could leave it for a better? Surely universalists are fools to buffet with the storms of time, when if they chose it they might at once push home their bark into a peaceful eternity! If I were of this belief, I would look about me for the easiest mode of translation to glory, and would put an instant period to this troublesome existence by drowning, or hanging, or shooting, or poisoning; for according to universalism, these are all but convenient instruments of removal from earth to heaven!
6th.-It furnishes a motive to murder also. I should certainly think it right, if I were of this faith, when I saw my friends in affliction or embarrassment, to despatch them in the easiest manner I could, and thus put an end to their misery. Who could blame me, when my motive was so good ?
7th.—Universalists tell us that all the punishment due to sin is inflicted in this life. Let me suppose a case.
An individual spends his whole life in the most atrocious crimes; from bad te worse he goes, and goes with accumulated speed, down the steep
declivity of guilt, until his very existence becomes an intolerable burthen to him, and he terminates it at length by suicide. Where does he receive his punishment for the act of self-destruction ? can any one inform me ?
8th.—But if sinners are punished in this world, the Psalmist was mistaken ; for the prosperous state of wicked men excited his envy; he saw that “they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men ;' that “their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart can wish :” and “they even have no bands in their death." “ Behold!” he exclaims, “ these are the ungodly who prosper in the world : they increase in riches.” Now all this is quite another tune from that which universalism plays us! which of the twain shall we accredit? Both we cannot.
Suppose, my auditors, that we take a peep into an universalian futurity: Strange scenes present themselves to our view! I see there together, in happy and peaceful fellowship, the slanderer and the slandered—the assassin and his victims—the tyrant, and those who on earth groaned beneath his yoke-the seducer of innocence, and she whom, with a broken heart and a ruined reputation, he sent to a premature grave—the murdered son of God, and those who mocked him in his dying agony; all, in promiscuous, and indiscriminate companionship, together! I wonder how long it will be ere those glorified villains will fall back into their old habits! And, by the way, I am here reminded of a question put to a universalist by his own child, which had the effect of opening his eyes to the ridiculous and delusive character of this heresy. The little boy had been reading the story of “The Babes in the Wood;" with the inquisitiveness natural to youth he inquired, “Father, where did those babes go to after they were murdered ?” “ To heaven, of course," replied the parent. “And where did the wicked men go to who murdered them ?" I suppose,” the father stammeringly replied, " that they went to heaven too." “But wont they murder the poor children again ?" the boy once more inquired : and to this question the father could render no reply; it proved a means, with God's blessing, of awakening him to the awfully insecure nature of the universalian system.
REPLY TO THE ABOVE.
The opponents of our faith are welcome to select against it whatever weapon they may deem most effectual : if they are able, without a distortion of its features, to exhibit it in a ridiculous light, we will not complain ; for we think (as my opponent has said) that a doctrine must be false which can fairly be reduced to an absurdity. It may, however, turn out, ere we are done, that my opponent will attain an experimental persuasion of the truth of the proverb, that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”
First, we are asked, what is to be gained by the adoption of the universalist belief? It might as well be asked what is to be gained by believing in the Copernican, rather than in the Ptolemaic system of astronomy? or in the true view of any science rather than in the false ? What is to be gained ! so much that hours would scarcely suffice for telling; yet it may be comprehended in the declaration, that all is to be gained that is implied in being translated out of superstitious darkness into divine light. That it will make our after-death felicity no more certain, is granted ; and my opponent must also grant that the same is the case with literary, scientific, or any other kind of knowledge: but will he therefore say that they are useless ? Such, at least, is the logical deduction from his argument! But he informs us that he is as happy, during the present, in his belief, as he could be in mine. Perhaps so. What is his belief? It is no less than this : that untold millions of human beings, among whom may be his own father and mother, wife and children, and possibly himself, shall groan forever beneath the wrath of God! Is he as happy in this persuasion, as if he confidently trusted that all our race will at last be the subject of unending holiness and felicity in heaven? I hope, for the honor of his heart, that he did not feel as he spoke when he gave utterance to so monstrous a sentiment!
2nd. He charges us with being more ready to accredit the promises than the threatenings of God. It is sufficient that I deny this charge, and affirm, that we have too good an opinion of the veracity of the divine Being, to suppose, that he has threatened punishments which he will never inflict; and of his benevolence, to suppose that his inflictions will not consist with the ultimate well