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sorry cunning with which they seek to hide the shallowness of their sophistry. At last, the inspection of the tricks by which they juggle texts of Holy Writ into a likeness and a seeming opposite to their real meaning, becomes a strong provocative to mirth. So ridiculous are the impostures of the priests of Universalism, that nothing could restrain the merriment they would naturally excite, but a remembrance of the solemnity of the subject on which they practise their absurd and fantastic operations.
Of all the false systems, which Satan has devised for the delusion of the souls of men, scarce one appears so audacious and repulsive as ultra-Universalism. While we are perfectly sensible, that many amiable and intelligent persons have been, by various influences, drawn away after this pernicious error, we do not think any the better of it, on that account; but we rather abhor it the more sincerely. When all due allowance, however, is made for such cases, it still remains evident, that Universalism, on the whole, has a character for coarseness which attaches itself to no other sect pretending to the Christian name. Its temper is incomparably virulent and unclean. Whatever it commends, it disgraces; whatever it asserts, it discredits; whatever it touches, it desecrates.
Its aspect of heartlessness and insincerity is made more staringly conspicuous, by its utter unsteadiness. During the short period in which it has existed as an organized sect, it has undergone many and strange mutations. And it is abundantly certain, from present appearances, that its changes are not yet at an end. Voltaire, who was rather irreverent toward the ladies, as such vile wits usually are, declares of those "fair mutabilities," that their resemblance to the weather-vanes extends so far, that, like them, they grow rusty as they become old, and stick immovably to some point at last. But Universalism, which is not likely to live long enough ever to become an old religion, is so constantly whirling about "with every blast of doctrine," that its spindle can never accumulate rust enough to make it stationary. Several of its prominent preachers, weary of the toil of wresting the Scriptures, have abandoned them in favor of Davis's ridiculous revelations, which are much more to their mind. Others have embraced that subtlest and most villanous form of modern infidelity, called Univer. salism, which steals the Christian name, in order to stab the Christian faith; and that, in the Saviour's own name, it may scoff at
the miracles and resurrection of the Lord. The others too, though they rail roundly at Davis's impostures and at transcendental hypocrisies, by which, as they have sense enough to see, they can never make a living, are yet shrewdly suspected of secret infidelity. Nor is this a groundless suspicion. For how can men whose official life has been occupied in untwisting the Bible, and retwisting it the other way, retain any respect for it as the Word of God? The infidel tendencies of Universalism are so decided, that none but a thorough-paced partizan can deny them. It is notorious that the open infidels, who should best know the secret of their own. strength, uniformly speak of Universalists as nearly allied to them, and as being well on the way toward joining them, and as most largely affording recruits to their ranks. It is well known, also, that the many persons who have broken away from Universalism with horror, and embraced the gospel as their refuge, all speak of the infidel spirit as fearfully prevalent among their old associates.
That the doctrines of Universalism, which denies that the actions of this life can have any effect, either for good or for evil, on the future life, must be corrupting and demoralizing in the highest degree, is obvious from the nature of the case. The strong incentives to strive for moral excellence, and to escape from the bondage of evil, are taken away. Goodness and evil themselves, being thus limited as to the extent of their influence and operation, lose comparatively almost all their importance. Thus every stimulus to virtue is weakened, every restraint to vice is loosened, and every temptation is left to work with undisputed power upon the baser passions of the soul.
The results which might naturally be looked for from such debasing doctrine, are found to be verified in fact. Of all the numerous converts to the truth, who have renounced Universalism, not one has failed to pronounce it a cherisher and fomenter of wickedness, as it has exhibited itself in their ministerial experience and to their close observation. They all ascribe their first impressions of its falseness, to the painful feelings excited by witnessing its direct tendency to harden the heart and defile the life. The same testimony is uttered by innumerable observers, intelligent and candid, who have looked at the fruits of Universalism, without tasting them. And this testimony even escapes, and that quite often, from the lips of those who, through the force VOL. II.
of prejudice or delusion, still feed upon those bitter fruits, and refuse to forsake the deadly tree which bears them. It is difficult to see how evidence can be more varied, complete and full, than that which bears witness to the pernicious and degrading influence of Universalism.
In a cursory perusal, during the past year, of the principal paper issued in the denomination, we were continually struck with the indications of its inward rottenness and impurity. Amid frequent boastings and vaporings of prosperity and success, which are intended to cover up the weaknesses and decays of the cause, there are ever leaking out the sure tokens of consuming disease. There are numerous sour complaints of societies whose lack of zeal suffers their interests to languish. Sometimes a minister is scolded for not paying his debts. Sometimes the low state of the cause in certain sections of the country is ascribed to the mean gifts or immoral conduct of men who set themselves up as its advocates and ministers. Thus one of them is complained of, who was "for a time a Universalist preacher; for a little time after an apostle of infidelity; then a lackey at the theatre; and lastly a Universalist again," on his way to preach in a large city of New England. A number of meeting-houses have been closed for want of funds to supply them with preaching, or abandoned and sold for debt. Many very cross-grained remarks are made about certain deists, who style themselves "the reform class" among the Universalist clergy, and who are "intent on establishing, if possible, a new kind of Christianity." Matters, indeed, have come to such a pass, that the Universalists of this region were obliged to hold a Convention, which spent two days in coming to the decision, though it was stiffly contested, that no man could, with any decency, pretend to be a minister of Christ, who disbelieves the teachings, miracles and resurrection of our Lord. The impostures of Davis, too, a Universalist minister, as we are informed, aided and abetted by several other preachers of the same stamp, put the poor editor into sundry dismal pangs at the dishonor which, as he conceives, they have done to the doctrine over which he watches.
It is a further token of the strong tendency of Universalism to come to nothing, that many of its ministers run themselves out, and take, some of them, to very humble callings. We have quite a list of these before us; of whom some are quack-dentists, who
try to furnish work for their own teeth by demolishing those of their unfortunate patients. Some are mesmerizers, living by their wits, or by the want of wit in the simple souls they practise upon. Some are agitators and reformers, laboring to bring in a sort of thieves' paradise and rogues' millennium. Some are herb-doctors, and also dealers in "simples." And besides these, there are others who are fancy-stock-brokers, kitchen-corporals, and the like. How is it possible to feel any respect for a denomination, which numbers such characters among its ministers in regular standing?
The worst influence which Universalism exerts is upon young men, who embrace it just long enough to be ruined by it. To the friends of such as are thus exposed, it is a matter of interest to be able to find books suited to serve as an antidote to the bane. Of these there have been many. Some have solidly confuted its errors by serious argument and solemn expostulation. Others have exposed its follies to just scorn, and shot it through and through with the arrows of satire; believing with an old poet, that exposing absurdity to laughter,
"Decides great things,
Stronger and better oft than earnest can."
But of all the works which have been given to the public, the preference, in our judgment, belongs to the little volume, whose title stands at the head of this article. Its title may almost serve as a table of the contents, which present, in a small compass, almost everything which needs to be said on the subject. It is admirably complete, and admirably condensed. It contains the substance of all that the author has written upon Universalism. No man can have a clearer understanding of that error, in its essence, in its supports, in its effects, in its evils, and in the considerations most adapted to refute it, and to disabuse those whom it has deluded. And in reducing the argument to the form in which it appears in this volume, which the American Tract Society has added to its series, the author has had the valuable aid and counsel of the Publishing Committee of that important institution. We trust, that, diffused by the labors of its faithful colporteurs, it will circulate far and wide; and prove as effectual, by the divine blessing, in counteracting the poison of Universalism, as Nelson's
"Cause and Cure for Infidelity" has been in dispelling that more open and honest form of unbelief.
The Universalists make no attempt to confute the reasonings and the facts alleged by Mr. Smith, except by assailing his private character; as though the reasonings and the facts must not be the same, let who will advance them. It is a striking circumstance, that any man in this community would be utterly ruined, if the public were to believe only a hundredth part of the charges against him, which Universalist editors and declaimers have alleged against Mr. Smith. Nothing could better illustrate the utter discredit in which their testimony is held by those who best know them.
It seems to us, that no man can read, with unmoistened eyes, the chapter which relates the religious experience of the author. If such men there be, we envy them not in respect to the "sterner stuff" whereof they are made. The difficulties of Universalism are next arrayed. Then the arguments against it are briefly stated. Next the twenty-two chief arguments urged in its favor are examined and exploded. Then the fruits of Universalism are exhibited, and a shocking spectacle they present. When the Universalists inveigh against the author for spreading out this dreadful array of facts, he may well retort upon them in the verse of Sophocles, as rendered by Milton,
""Tis you that say it, not I. You do the deeds,
The book closes with a conclusive argument in proof of the future and endless punishment of the wicked, and with an impressive address to the Christian public on the subject of Universalism. In publishing this able work, the author has given his brethren a "writ of ease," discharging them from the necessity of sending forth anything else on this subject for a long time to come.
In our time, we have seen sects arise, and spread, for a season, with such rapidity, that they seemed certain to become strong and permanent. But they have withered as speedily as the prophet's blasted gourd, "which came up in a night, and perished in a night." This has been the case with divers sects, which have come forth to buzz and sting like insect swarms, but whose annoyances have soon come to an end. Universalism bids fair to meet a similar fate, and to be numbered ere long with the transient follies and extravagances of its day.