Page images
PDF
EPUB

tended hitherto to enlarge the wounds that were previously very sore.

Were this subject in a situation in which it could be dropped, your aggrieved 'brother would neither open his mouth, nor inove his pen in any manner of investigation concerning it. But he is now fully persuaded that the labor in which is now engaged, is a duty which he owes to his brethren and to himself, however crossing to the benevolent and social sympathies of christian feelings, or painful to his friends. It has, till the present, been a subject of individual difficulty, but now appears in the Southern Association, in which they have engaged on one side of the question, in a manner that appears unprecedented and unaccountable. This Association has passed a vote of censure on their brethren, of manifesting a disposition to deprive the deniers of future punishment of the name and character of Christian ministers; but they have not instructed their Committee to labor with them, with a view to reclaim them in the least degree. Their Committee are barely to communicate by writing their ecclesiastical censure.

Who could suppose that such a procedure could have the least tendency to reconcile the accused aggressors, when the whole scope of the accusation, they had no reason to believe, was any other than a mere subject of dispute ? It is well known that the principal accused aggressors are Brs. Turner, Dean, and Wood. It appears from the extract from Br. Turner's letter, that Br. Dean, who we learn from the Minutes attended the Association, the first day of its session, agreed on terms of reconciliation with Br. Ballou, the Moderator of that Association, and senior Editor of the Universalist Magazine. The next day, the ecclesiastical censure was passed in Br. Dean's absence, which, for aught they have given the public, equally involves him as the two other brethren, notwithstanding a mutual agreement had taken place, the day before, between him and the principal who was offended.

Having noticed this circumstance, we will now at

tend to the censure itself, which they appear to found on what is called the Declaration. The articles of this Declaration, which were published in the 3d volume of this work, I will here introduce on account of new subscribers. They are the following:

"1. That, in our opinion, the doctrine of universal salvation, at the commencement of a future state, and that of the final restoration of all men by Jesus Christ, through faith and repentance, are distinct and different doctrines, and are incapable of being reconciled together.

“2. That we consider the former doctrine to be subversive of a just sense of our accountability to God, and the proper distinction between virtue and vice, and, consequently, lessens the motives to virtue, and gives force to the temptations to sin." It may

be

proper here to notice, as there now lies a public censure on my brethren, that the above stateinents were sent to me without the explanatory remarks, and received my assent, as expressive of my sentiments on these subjects; and did actually receive, in one instance, a modification from my pen. With the Appeal I had nothing to do, and of the explanatory remarks I had no knowledge, till they were sent for the press. Here I take the liberty to state for myself, what no doubt is equally true of my bretiiren, that I had no idea or disposition, by the above statements, of depriving them of “the name and character of Christians. Neither do I believe the accusation is supportable from the Appeal or Declaration. Finding iny brethren censured on this ground, I have no disposition to hide myself, because they would allow me to do it ; for if there is any guilt or blame in this thing, I am one of the aggressors as well as they And if they are called to suffering on this account, let une have my share ; for it is worth a world to perish in a cause which conscience approves, in comparison with feasting on the riches of deceit, and treading on the ashes of those that would not expose a brother to the shafts of an enemy?

I have no doubt that the Association are indebted to the Statement of the Editors of the Magazine for their censure. See Christian Repository, Vol. IU. page 254. The reader that has access to it is requested to examine the whole paragraph, from which I quote the following: “They also say, repeatedly, it sets aside the scheme of salvation by Christ.” Mark this, reader : “It sets aside the scheme of salvation by Christ !" as well as is “detrimental to the morals of community,” and irreconcileable with their own doctrine; and yet they are willing to profess before God and man, to fellowship those who believe and avow it, to fellowship them as christian ministers !"

Now let us turn to page 166 of the same volume, where we find the piece from which they quoted the above remarks. It reads as follows: “Now it requires no great capacity to perceive, that this doctrine sets aside the scheme of salvation by Christ. I here speak of our eternal salvation after death. Christ may, to be sure, be the means of doing considerable good to a number of mankind in this world, by his instructions, &c. but as it respects their future state, his office as a Mediator has no relation."

The reader will here perceive that the Editors of the Magazine have omitted an essential qualification. They have given a general application to what was defined, as having a particular meaning. “Mark this, reader,” say they, “it sets aside the scheme of salvation by Christ!

Now, reader, if you please, mark another thing, "I speak here of our eternal salvation after death.” Do they believe in Christ's saving men after death ? No; they do not pretend it. How then can it be made to appear, there is a misrepresentation ? Does it not appear they did not like to have us state their sentiments, because they were then seen naked, without so much as a figleaf to cover their shame? Having thus mutilated a passage from its general connexion, and in utter violation of the qualifying sentences immediately connected with it, they have proceeded, as tho the field was their own, to all those lacera ting expressions which the reader finds in connection with this subject, in their statement. But, says the reader, do you mean to accuse them of dishonesty ? I do not. And altho I cannot say but they were as wicked as Cain, I have no doubt but what it may all be the effect of a blind attachment to their own peculiarities, and the excitement occasioned by opposition. I am entirely willing to impute it to the most charitable cause, and beg of every reader to do it.

Have we attacked the sincerity of their faith? They profess to believe in Christ, and the sincerity of that profession we have never called in question ; neither do they pretend it. On this ground they would be entitled to the name of Christians, tho they virtually denied two thirds of its doctrine. Every error in Christianity is virtually denging it, that is, as far as the error extends. But a declaration of this error does, by no means, impeach the character of him who embraces it. He is entitled to retain the name and character of his profession, so long as he retains the sincerity of his faith.

The Editors of the Magazine have introduced the following as a specimen of harshness from Br. Wood'. Essay on Future Punishment. “The many gross absurdities to which the doctrine of immediate universal salvation is liable, and the vicious effects which it is calculated to produce, render it a doctrine justly deserving of disapprobation and contempt." "That this sentence is severe I am willing to acknowledge, and when we consider Br. Wood's youth* in the ministry at that time, it is no doubt justly censurable.

In a note they confidently ask, “Who can produce so severe and contemptuous an expression as this, in all that has been written against future punishment ?" Thus they write as entirely ignorant of any thing like this on their part, or their particular adherents. I will

*It appears from the Minutes, that the Editors of the Maga. zine were mistaken in the date of Br. Wood's joining the Convention. It was in the year 1815 instead of 1816.

now take the liberty to offer them one passage from the 3d volume of the Magazine, page 143, last column, as an equal, if not very superior. "If I have any knowledge of my feelings, I have no disposition to misunderstand or misrepresent the views of my brethren who differ from me in their religious sentiments; but with my limited powers of perception, I cannot conceive of any other practical effect, as the fruit of the above doctrine,” (future punishment) “except DownRIGHT HYPOCRISY !" Here we have it in toto, and with a very gracious preface. On this subject I will not, at this time, multiply passages ; but I can show my brethren, if they wish, from their own publications, where future punishment is represented as disguised Calvinism, and without a perceptible shadow of difference, both are pronounced alike unrighteous and cruel.* Heathen mythology and purgatory are more than once used as proper descriptive terms of this sentiment, and once have its abettors been published as mongrel Universalists. And if this is not enough, I can produce a passage where one has emphatically pronounced the CHRISTIAN doctrine of damnation an absolute lie, and entitled to no credit.

On this subject I need not enlarge, nor would I have offered what I have, but from a humble hope that my brethren would open their eyes, and see what they have done, and what they are doing.

Our readers will perceive that there has been once a settlement between the junior Editors of the Magazine and the Authors of the Appeal and Declaration, and was broken up by them, because “the statements," as they say, “in that agreement were not true.” Notwithstanding this public notice, no charge of falsehood

* The following definition of Calvinism, from a noted editor on their side of this question, in comparison with the above, will give to our views the deepest tinge of iniquity. "If,” says he, "it is possible to conceptrate al} the essence of the most abominable, cruel, unnatural, vile, wicked, diabolical, and outrageously perverse principles in creation, into one common focus, that focus is Calvinism.'»

« PreviousContinue »