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trines of Universalism give utterance to the words, repentance, faith, and regeneration, in their writings and public ministrations ; but it will be well for the people to understand what they mean by such phrases, and whether they teach God's truth, or a perverted .gospel. It is not always advisable for deceivers and false apostles to reject openly what God teaches, but to adulterate truth with error sufficiently to thwart its object and secure their end. So it is with the doctrines, we have mentioned, when handled by Universalists; while they employ the words, they reject their vital character and conditional nature, and thus neutralize their obvious design and intended blessing. In
order to secure the welfare of the soul and everlasting life, .. next in importance to the doctrine of the cross of Christ, ·
stand repentance, faith and regeneration. But with Universalists, these things are of small account; for as sin can never forfeit the favor of God and man's title to heaven, so neither are the duties we have mentioned, adapted and designed to secure the blessings of God and the glories of the world to come. It is well for the world to understand these things. ;
. . 1. Repentance, Faith and the New-Birth, how understood by Universalists. The feachers of this Faith generally agree, that whenever the children of men shall reform. in life for the better, then the truths of the doctrines above referred to, are carried out and fully obeyed; but when they · speak relative to the object and conditional character of these doctrines, they disagree.-Some say, that they are not essential to secure the salvation and blessings of God in this life; others declare, that they are so. in a certain sense; while others deem them necessary to enjoy religion and the blessings of God in this world. They all agree, that these duties, together with religion, have no influence on the future destiny of the children of men that final sal
vation and the glories of heaven are in nowise dependent on faith, repentance and regeneration--all the influence they can possibly exert, is wholly confined to this world. Whether this position is Scriptural and worthy of christian confidence, need be examined into.
A certain writer, who uses the signature of “ W. S. B.” in an Essay on Repentance, says, that “in its legitimate and evangelical sense, Repentance denotes a change for the better, in one's mind, feelings, desires, resolutions, faith— ' the principles of action.” This Essay is not very objectionable in its exposition of the nature of repentance, while it leaves untouched the conditional character of this duty and the consequences when not complied with. E. H. Chapin says, “ Repentance we believe to be, not merely contrition and sorrow for sin, but reformation. A change of mind or of purpose, that exhibits itself by the actions of a life which shineth brighter and brighter, even unto the perfect day. We believe that it is a gradual work.". "Without holiness,' we repeat, he cannot see the Lord ;' we add, without repentance he cannot be holy.” This last writer belongs to the class, called Restorationists, who believe, that all who are not fully punished in this life, must endure the pains of hell in the next, more or less, according to the deserts of sin. That repentance is a pre-requisite to holiness, is most fully believed by us, and also that holiness is never attainable without it by our apostate race. That it consists, not merely in a godly sorrow and deep compunction for sin, but also in denying and forsaking worldly lusts and all ungodliness, living soberly; righteously and godly in this present world, looking for and anticipating the revelation of Jesus Christ. The prophet says, “ let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts”_"Cease to do evil and learn to do well.” Men may change in feelings, sentiments and resolutions, even forsake vice and do
better ; still they may be void of genuine repentance, having never felt a godly sorrow for sin, nor turned away from it with loathing as extremely odious in the sight of God, but only from motives of self-interest and personal consideration. Such repentance is false and worthless in the sight of God.
When a man repents before God, he looks over and considers his past life, his wanderings, his ingratitude, his folly and his baseness, he feels confounded, and is overwhelmed with distressing grief in his heart, he resolves to turn away from his former manner of life, and implores God for par- ' doning mercy, light and grace through Jesus Christ. This is repentance, and it is not a work so gradual as to last a life-long. He that repents as the gospel requires, does not lay a foundation for future, or life-time repentance, provided he lives conformably to the standard of God's holy word.
But Faith, what is that? Men who have been blessed with a depth of knowledge in divine things, and who have been examples of piety, of knowledge, and in-clear discernment, have usually divided faith into persuasion, assent, and a hearty and practical reception of the truths of the gospel. Universalists teach, that there is but one simple element in faith, and that is, a simple belief of any truth on evidence, or what divines denominate, an historical faith. Mr. Williamson declares, that “ christian faith, is a belief in the mission and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so far as the nature of the thing itself is concerned, it differs not from faith in any thing else.” “This is faith, and it is produced by the same means, and is in its nature the same as faith exercised upon any other subject * * * there is no more need of a miracle, or of any supernatural agency to produce faith in Christ, than to secure faith in any thing else, which you receive on the strength of evidence.”. “ Christian faith is, in its nature, simply the assent which
the mind gives to the truth” of any thing from the force of the evidence which attends it.
For instance, we have been informed, that there is such a city as Pekin, the metropolis of China, and this information is of such a character as to be satisfactory, and has precluded all doubt on the subject. Our faith in the existence, and the geographical situation of this city, is nothing more or less than genuine faith ; the difference is only in the subject on which we believe, and not in the nature of faith. Whenever we believe in Christ, as we believe in the existence of Pekin, then we are christians. This is the drift of the argument of Mr. Williamson, and of all Universalists, in reference to faith in Christ. Thomas Paine, the noted infidel, believed, that there was no doubt in reference to the existence of such a person as Jesus Christ, and that he was a man eminently moral, and baptised with the spirit of wisdom, yet this man was far from being a christiannay, he was a downright infidel in theory and practice. If the faith of Mr. Williamson is genuine and evangelical, and sufficient to constitute any person a christian, why was this infidel not a christian? Can such faith be more purifying and precious than rank infidelity ? Other beings have the same intellectual faith, founded on clear and strong evidence, and yet we believe that they are far from being christians. St. James says, while treating on the subject of faith, “the devils also believe and tremble.” (James ii. 19.) In the days of Christ the devils believed him to be the Son of God, (Luke viii. 28,) yet they were far from beings christians. Either devils must be christians, or else the faith taught by Universalists is greatly and fatally defective, and is in nowise the faith of the Bible. Indeed, there are hundreds and thousands of people who believe that the mission and teaching of Christ are true, yet they are undeniably in the “gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” . Many of the Jews, in the days of the Messiah, were fully persuaded, that Jesus Christ was the promised Savior, and in the deep sanctuary of the soul there lurked not a doubt; still, for fear of the people and of being expelled from the synagogue, they dared not confess him. And such, instead of being christians, were children of the devil and were exposed to the damnation of hell.
The following quotation we make from the “ Universalist's Book of Reference.” While the authors descant on salvation and damnation, they ask and answer this ques. tion: “What must we believe? Ask the Calvinist, the Arminian, and the Universalist what we must believe, and they will all tell you, and tell you very truly too, and in the language of Scripture ; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' Ask them, if our simply believing that there was such a person as Jesus Christ will be sufficient, and they will all tell you, no. And they will assign as a reason for this, that a man may believe that there was such a person, and at the same time believe him to have been an impostor. So far then, these three classes of christians, embracing all who profess the christian name, are perfectly agreed. And if you ask, what then must we believe about Jesus Christ, they will tell you that every man is required to believe that Jesus Christ is his Savior.” After this, the authors state, that these classes of religionists diverge in opinion—the Calvinist runs into the doctrine of particular election, that Christ is the Saỹior of those only who are elected—while the Arminian asserts, that Christ is the Savior of those who believe him to be their Savior' and not before ; but the Universalist believes, that Christ is the actual Savior of every rational being. Now it is undeniably true, that God is a Savior to those who believe in a sense in which he is not of all mankind, Univer: salism to the contrary notwithstanding. It is written, “that