« PreviousContinue »
native purity and attractiveness, and appear in bold contrast with error and licentiousness. This may save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. And, no doubt, many among the young may thus be saved from the snare of the adroit Destroyer. These are unthinkingly exposed, and to throw around such the protection of truth, is a prominent design of the following pages. · We hope, and pray to be guided into all truth ; to have whatever is dark, enlightened ; and in whatever is abstruse to be favored with sound discretion and exact diserimination.
What is the system of Modern Universalism? In what does it consist, and what are its prominent features ? Is it Biblical, or Anti-Biblical? These are important questions, and each prominent tenet of the creed of Universalists shall receive a distinct and decisive reply. The chief cornerstone upholding Universalism, and on which the whole fabric rests, is expressed in the following language :
All men must necessarily be finally holy and happy.
All their arguments and reasonings are designed to substantiate, and render clear this proposition. If this point can be proven from the Bible and illustrated as reasonable, then their end is gained, and the opposite doctrine falls to the ground. In order to thoroughly examine and sift this subject we shall show that the proposition is most evidently embraced by Universalists by quoting their own language, and also specify the reasoning they adopt to sustain this tenet. We might take it for granted, that the doctrine of the final holiness and happiness of the whole human race without the possibility of a failure, is the starting point and dulcet theme of Universalism ; but in order to show, that we wish to take nothing for granted, what may be proven, we “ go to the law and to the testimony.” We shall only quote the language of such men as exercise the moulding hand of the denomination.
The language of Abel C. Thomas, who is a conspicuous man among that fraternity, is, “ The scriptures teach the doctrine of the final holiness and happiness of all mankind.” As proof he states, that God is the Father of the whole human family, because he created them ini his own image.” “He is the only Creator, and he never created any soul of our race in any other image. than his own. However vile the offspring of an earthly father may become, they are still his children. The relation exists independently of moral character, and can never be dissolved." Therefore this relation must necessarily result in “ the holiness and happiness of all mankind. What other, what different consummation would perfectly consist with the spirit of God as the Universal Father.” Hosea Ballou says, “ All agree in the main point, viz. that universal holiness and happiness is the great object of the gospel plan.”' The acknowledgment of these two men will be sufficient, especially, since the latter is deemed as the father of Universalism as it now is. There is no pulpit of this sect but what has resounded with the complacent declaration, that all men will eventually be holy and happy. The interrogation may here be proposed, when and where shall this final result be consummated ? On this point there exists a dissimilarity of sentiment and feeling among the denomination. The Bible must not reveal this fact plainly as the final condition of the human race, they themselves being judges.
1. Whether it shall take place in death, as soon as a separation of the soul and body is effected, is a doubtful matter to those wise interpreters of the Holy Scriptures. To us, it appears, that to maintain consistency is the prominent reason. Since their principal writers and speakers have erased from their creed the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, pressed to do so by other anti-scriptural views, and have avowed the principles of materialism, and that the soul must rest in an unconscious sleep in the state intermediate death and the resurrection; how can they therefore decisively know, whether the unconscious soul shall be clothed with holiness and happiness at death? That some may state their views, avowing immediate happiness, is not denied ; but the reason is not, because it is a part of their creed or verily believed. The obvious reason is to avoid shocking the common sense notions of the community generally, and not to expose their system to more ridicule than absolutely necessary to maintain their religious integrity. A certain writer says, “ We do not presume to know that men by shortening their days upon the earth will hasten their entrance into heaven. As it respects the hastening of an introduction into another life by the shortening of the present, (i. e. suicide,) we would state distinctly, that no particular speculation upon this point is any essential part of the Universalist system." After all, what a dreary and forlorn prospect does Universalism present to its votaries while dying. It does not pretend to declare ; nay, it disavows any light or consolation to the man grappling with humanity's foe relative to his immediate subsequent state. Perchance, an unconscious sleep awaits him, or thousands of years of misery and pain,
1. But is the Bible so dark and undecided on this subject? What scenes do the Scriptures disclose to our view on the Mount of Transfiguration whèn Moses and Elias conversed with Christ in reference to his sufferings and death? Moses had been dead about fifteen hundred years, and Elijah had been translated to heaven about a thousand years prior, still there they were in conversation with the Savior in sight of three disciples. Was the soul of Moses in an unconscious sleep? Is there any reason for “particular speculation ?" Is it “any essential part” of religi
ous truth? Does the caviler say, for aught we know his body had been raised, therefore he enjoyed final holiness and happiness? This is bare conjecture, unsupported by revelation, or history, therefore unworthy of any confidence. All the evidence we have declares that his body is still sleeping in the dust of the earth awaiting the resurrection of the dead at the close of the gospel dispensation. .
What says the Bible relative to the thief upon the cross ? “ To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." Paradise is undoubtedly the place of holiness and happiness in the immediate presence of God, and there he had a promise of being even that day. He did not enjoy it as yet; but he should be made a happy partaker ere the setting sun should give place to the twilight evening. His body remained on Calvary, a lifeless and inactive lump of clay; while the soul had sped its successful flight into the Paradise of supernatural glory and peace, by repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Could the Bible be more luminous and decisive than it is on the separate conscious existence of the soul, immediately subsequent to death?
Again : was the apostle Paul established and satisfied on this point or not? What is his language in relation to his own conscious existence posterior to death and still prior to the resurrection? “ For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ; which is far better.” Phil. i. 23. “Knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord ; We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. v. 6—8. Is not this language decisive ? No sooner is a separation effected between the soul and body, than the blood-washed spirit mounts to the upper skies and dwells with Christ in the place prepared at the Father's right hand. From all we have said, it appears that the doubts and perplexities of Universalists on the state and condition of the soul after death and before the resurrection, must originate from another source than from the Bible. They are the natural fruit of the vain philosophy of their system,and because the admission of a conscious intermediate existence of the soul, would strike confusion and ruin into their system of faith, they have no desire that it should constitute a link in their creed.
2. Does not Reason and the Philosophy of the mind corroborate the Scriptures, that the spirit of man lives and consciously, exists in the intermediate state? What follows but the sheer absurdity of the contrary view ? What evidences can we have of any mental exercises ; of thinking, of feeling, of imagining, or of the circumstances with which we are surrounded; but our consciousness of the fact? How does a man know that he is the same being identically, that he was ten years ago ? By his consciousness. How does he know that he lived yesterday, wandered to and fro, performed this or that act, and that to-day he is the same identical being ? By that intuitive knowledge, called consciousness. Now if our consciousness can follow us from day to day, and from year to year, through the light of day and the darkness of the night, from one place to another, from one country to another, over sea and land, and never forsake us for one moment, what satisfactory reason can we assign, that death is invested with the authority to strip us of this intuitive knowledge ? None at all. And as the soul is an uncompounded substance, purely spiritual, and can never be divided, therefore if consciousness is gone, we must cease to be-a mere nonentity—and therefore can have no subsequent existence. A new creation would constitute other beings; but not those who have once been. On this ground modern Universalism