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CONTAINING REASONS FOR NOT EMBRACING THE
BY REV. JOEL HAWES.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
CANDIDATE FOR THE MINISTRY.
BY RUSSEL CANFIELD.
PRINTED BY AND FOR THE AUTHOR.
The following Review and Letters, originally appeared in the Religious Inquirer, under the signatures which they now bear. As readers of that paper, and others, have thought them worthy of preservation in a more permanent and concentrated form, the writer has been induced to present them to the public in the present dress. They are sent out with the best wishes of the publisher, that their usefulness may equal the frequently expressed belief of his friends, and the friends of free inquiry. He only asks that the reader will examine the facts and arguments by which bis principles are sustained, with a determination to receive the truth in the love of it. As to the various statements of facts, from which he has occasionally drawn arguments-the reader will judge for himself. Whatever be the merits or demerits of the composition, and the conduct of the argument, they are exclusively his, and he alone is amepable. If he has erred in his deductions, the error is that of the judgment not of the heart.
The author of the following pages is not vain enough to suppose that the events of his life are sufficiently important to attract great public attention. He is fully sensible of the difficulties under which a self-biographer labours, and knows that in this species of writing few have attained to mediocrity. But the situation in which he is placed as a polemical writer, under all the disadvantages of circumscribed time, limited opportunities, and an unpopular cause, embolden him to say, that the narrative he is about to give, is both proper and expected. Being reared in the very focus of Calvinism--connected by the ties of consanguinity and other relationship, with a number of the clergy, and measurably dependant on the orthodox for the Ineans of subsistence, what could induce him to leave the religion of his fathers, and to embrace a doctrine which is a sure passport of ridicule and contempt? He had no aptipathies to gratify-no family dissentions to alienate his affections-and no church quarrels to cause a re-action. No subtle casuist employed the arts of sophistry to entangle him, nor was he led to embrace his present principles, but by the gradual progress of light shining on the mind from the pages of revelation.
Until the year 1801, I had never heard a universalian preacher, nor read a book of that description, the Bible only excepted. le the summer of that year, I heard Mr. Glover, of Newtown, Conn, and from that time thought the truth of the doc. trine at least possible. But the collisions of different sects, the jarring opinions of those who laid equal claims to orthodoxy, and the impressions which were deeply engraven on my mind in boybood, led finally to doubt the authenticity of the scriptures, and I settled down in Deism. My mind was not indeed suited with this sentiment, but it seemed to me a less laborious task to foil those called christians by adverting to the apparent discrepancy of the scriptures, and the real difference in sentiment between those who termed themselves ambassadors of heaven, than to search for truth, where so many great and learned men had sought to little purpose. From 1801, until 1811, I was a professed Deist. To Elder Edward Mitchell, of New York, I owe the suggestion of the first idea which has led
my present sentiment. By a discourse in which he urged the importance of searching the scriptures, I was persuaded to follow his directions. By the belp of a concordance, corrësponding passages were frequently examined, and served as mu. tual interpreters. This system resulted in the gradual progress of information and confort. But the system, as taught by Mr. M. was still ambiguous. The denunciation of eternal death or endless misery, to which he gave great credit-the vicarions sacrifice of Christ,_and correspondent doctrines of the Trinity, were all bars in the way of a clear understanding of the consistency of the scheme which he advocated. My mind was unable to fathom a system which required the sacrifice of
justice in the salvation of all men. The sentiment which, as I thought, rendered God a mutable being, impaired my confidence in his wisdom and his omniscience; and the necessity of the sufferings and death of Christ, as Jehovah, to propitiate himself, appeared in any other than a rational light. All the faculties of my mind were called into requisition to reconcile the absurdity of imputing transgression to a righteous person, and punishing him as a sinner, while the wicked escaped the infliction of that discipline which I thought was clearly threatened in the scriptures. During this trial of mind, a friend lent re some of Mr. Ballou's works, and light immediately shone on the un. derstanding. From him I learned, that the mission of Christ was to save men from deserving—not from deserved punishment. This sentiment is now so well confirmed, that it will never be forgotten, while the light of reason illumines the understanding
When the letters of Mr. Hawes appeared in the Observer and the Secretary, I was earnestly invited to review them. Knowing that they were considered by some as unanswerable, and as they embraced a great variety of topics, I was not at first prepared to underta the work. But frequent solicitations prevailed--the work was accomplished, though vader very adverse circumstances. It was well received by the public, and frequent suggestions were offered, as an inducement to pablish the whole in a book form. To this step I have finally been in. duced, and a small impression of only one thousand copies, is now offered to the public for perusal. The labour has been great, and several subjects have received less attention than I should be glad to bestow. Every subject of importance, has however, received close attention, and every argument of any weight been fairly quoted, and honestly examined.
The publication of the whole of Mr. H's Letters, would add nothing to his arguments, and every person may see that no important statement has been omitted.
I have not dwelt so fully on two of Mr. H's assertions as I originally anticipated; viz. the wide extent of the belief in endless misery, and the various consequences of virtue apd vice. Examples could easily be given from history, going to prove conclusively, that a uniform national belief has no necessary connexion with truth. Faith in particular tenets has been effectually established by the sword, and the descendants of those who have thus submitted, have been equally as faithful to the tenets received, as were their conquerors.
To say, as Mr. H. does, that the vicious are equally as happy in this world as the righteous, is so absurd, that it hardly requires a serious refutation. Scripture and experience, are both utterly against it, and the assumption is calculated to lead the mind to infidel principles and licentious conduct.
RUSSEL CANFIELD, Hartford, June, 1827.
To Rev. Joel Hawes, Hartford.
SiR-I make no apology for addressing these strictures to you—the substance and style of the letters being too obviously yours to admit a rational doubt concerning their authorship. Without further preface, then, I shall proceed to the investigation of their contents.
On a careful perusal of these letters, I am persuaded the following statements can be fully supported ;
1. They contain assertions, and questions in the affirmative form, as reason and data for argument, which you do not, and cannot sustain.
2. They exhibit deductions, which, if true, would destroy the very principle for which you contend,
3. They offer as proof of certain tenets, scraps of scripture, in a mutilated form, bearing obvious marks of " handling the word of God deceitfully."
These you will consider as high charges they are Land the writer is ready to hazard every thing dear to the human heart on the event of supporting them, in their most literal import and extent.
Your first appeal is to prudence, from which the following is a fair quotation ;
“It is a maxim, the correctness of which you will readily admit, that in every question of duty and hap