Page images
PDF
EPUB

sense of guilt resting down in mountain weight upon the soul-guilt which cannot be transferred to others, or concealed from him who will judge the secrets of all hearts. Let this conviction of actual personal guilt be removed by a belief that man is a creature of necessity, governed by the impulses of fatality, and that death will inevitably remove all to glory, and such a conscience can have no -more self-condemning power than a marble statue. A conscience fully in the belief that God is the author of its sins, and that the broad road in which it is unfortunately compelled to walk, will inevitably terminate in the bliss of the eavenly world, can experience no compunctions of guilt. Such a conscience must be as insensible as the tombst ne. A shock of the galvanic battery could not move it. Linust believe therefore, if Universalists have a y consciences which reward and punish them, that the secret of this retribution may be found in the fact that they are not sound in their own faïth. If they ever feel guilt and condemnation, it must be that they somehow fear that God is not the author of their sins, and, that he may perchance bring them into judgment.

Thus you see, my Dear Sir, that conscienee is not always a faithful and impartial judge—that it sometimes rewards us for doing that which is morally wrong, and pun- . ishes us for doing that which is morally right—that its decisions depend upon our light and knowledge—that it becomes more and more dead as wickedness increases, and that a conscience thoroughly immersed in the conviction that God is the author of its sins, and that the death of the body will adjust all accounts, and fit the soul for glory, can administer no retribution ; it is a conscience twice dead and plucked up by the roots.' May God save you, my Dear Friend, from the carnal peace of such a conscience.

.... .. Yours as ever.

at is in Sical forms: deny that chess and

**LETTER VI. My Dear Sir:

I find a very serious difficulty in your systein, in the fact that your doctrine actually offers a reward for iniquity; that is, in some instances, it makes sin in its most infamous and diabolical forms, the shortest road to the heavenly world. You will not deny that crimes often abridge human life. Murder, robbery, drunkenness and all kinds of voluptuousness, it is well known, tend to bring the offender down to a premature grave. And it not unfrequently happens that the offender departs this life, unexpectedly to himself, in the midst of some atrocious outrage against God and man. Wicked and blood-thirsty men do not live out half their days. Now, if all beyond this life, is, to all men, angelic bliss and ineffable-joy, then it follows, by necesssity, that to all who throw off this mortal coil,' by their crimes, the road of guilt and infamy, is the shortest cut to glory. Let me illustrate. In one of the country towns of Essex county, Mass. a poor, miserable drunkard, during the past winter, as he was reeling home from the drunkery, one cold stormy night, fell into a snow-bank and perished with a bottle of rum in hand. He fell by his own hands. His sins brought him down to a premature grave, and according to ultra Universalism, up to an early heaven. Had he been a temperate and pious man, in all human probability, he would have lived longer, perhaps many years, in this world of suffering and sin. While here he was in a Universalist hell; but in one of his midnight bachannalian banquets, the swelling tide of rum and hilarity overflowed the dam and floated the debauched spirit up to the very throne of God !! Impious thought! Thus, you see, Universalism true, and drunkenness really expedites the march of souls to glory. The retailer, whose infamous traffic spreads poverty, disease and death around him, may now console him

he is actually saving the soul; that while he may be filling his coffers with unrighteous gain, and the grave with bloated victims, he is also building up a colony in heaven.

In this way one rum-shop may do more towards saving souls than several preachers. ,

Again; take the case of the duellist. You well remember what a sensation of borror was felt through New England two or three years since, when a member of Congress from Maine, fell in a duel. According to the law of God he died a murderer. Before he fell, he coolly and deliberately fired twice at his gentlemanly antagonist; and while in the act of making one more effort to murder a fellow-sinner, his body fell in death, and will you say, his spirit rode off in angelic majesty, upon a rifle-ball, to the perfect bliss of the heavenly world ? While he was here, he was in a state of suffering and sin, -- or if you please, he was in a Universalist hell--and had he feared God and kept his commandments he would have continued longer in this world of suffering. But his guilt brought relief and instantaneously purified his soul from all sin and elevated him to heaven !! Is not this offering a reward for sin ? Does not your sentiment make the broad road of death, the shortest way to Heaven? Deny this and your whole system falls to the ground.

To make this feature in Universalism still more obvious, and to impress it still more forcibly upon your mind, let me introduce another case. Here are three highway robbers, of equal character. They have been trained up together in idleness, rum-drinking and gambling. They become bankrupt both in character and purse. To mend their broken fortunes they all agree to make a joint-stock effort upon the highway. A dark night is selected, and by previous arrangement they meet at a given time and place, and conceal themselves by the road-side, anxiously, resolved to go immediately to heaven or to improve their fortunes. They wait the approach of the traveller. At midnight the distant tread of the horse indicates an approaching opportunity for plunder. As the traveller comes up they suddenly rush upon him. One seizes the horse's bridle and demands the rider's money or life. The traveller being armed, immediately draws his pistol and shoots him through the heart.One convulsive struggle and he is gone-gone to glory. The second robber advances undismayed, to the attack.

The traveller jumps from his horse upon him, throws him, overpowers him, and the third takes fright and retreats back into the woods. With the aid of one or more who have by this timè come up, the traveller-secures his victim and the next morning delivers him over to the officers of civil justice, to await his trial at the next term of the Supreme Court. Now remember those men were of the same character. They were old associates together in crime and folly. They have been trained up together in the same school of vice. The first, as guilty as either of them, while committing an act of the most daring villany, exchanged his depredations upon the high-way for the bliss and glory of heaven.Where and when did he get his punishment? Not in death, for the best men die as well as he; besides, he died an easy death compared with the protracted agony, which even the best of men sometimes endure on the dying bed. He did not get his 'punishment beforehand, for then, according to your system, he would not have committed the act at all. You believe that punishment is reformatory. Well—now if punishment reforms the offender, if this offender had received his punishment in advance, he must have been reformed, and would not therefore have committed the deed. The second robber is dragged off to prison, his name and guilt by the newspaper press, are immediately spread all over the land. An accumulated burden of pain and trouble is rolled upon his wife, children and other respectable family connections. His family come to his lonely cell to visit and weep over him with wild and broken-hearted anguish. This adds to his woes. , He is at last brought from prison to the court house, and arraigned before a jury of his peers.” The evidence of his guilt is spread before them and the world, and he is solemnly pronounced GUILTY. The judge pronounces the sentence of death to be remanded to prison, and hung in sixty days. At last, after sixty days of dreadful forebodings, the day of execution arrives.

The jail, from an early hour, is surrounded by thousands, who have assembled to witness the execution. . At the appointed hour the sheriff appears, enters his cell, knocks off his chains, dresses him for the solemn tragedy, places a cap

on his head, and a rope around his neck,and leads him along, trembling and pale with fearful apprehension, to the scaffold. The rope is carefully adjusted, prayers are offered, the death warrant read, and the poor wretch is 'swung off!! The day of his death was just six months from the time he and his associates committed the crime. During this period he suffered the most heart-rending agony. The third robber was never taken. He fled his country. Some years after, he was seen in Texas, where he dragged out a miserable life for thirty years, in a Universalist hell, and died of the Asiatic cholera. Now this case illustrates two serious difficulties in your system. . .

1. It teaches us that if Universalism is true, crime unrepented of, is, in some cases, the shortest road to heaven. Can such be a system of God? Will he who abhors sin, so far break down and 'reverse the natural distinction between sin and holiness, as to bestow an earlier heaven upon the most desperate rebel, than he does upon his most pious saints? You cannot believe this; and yet you must acknowledge this supreme absurdity to be sound theology, or give up your system.

2. The second point which this case illustratës is this. It shows that an equitable retribution does not take place in this world. The three robbers were equally guilty. If this be a world of perfect, individual retribution, they must have all suffered alike. Was it so ? The first experienced one struggle, and ascended to a throne of glory. The second, instead of a paradise, found a prison, and endured the most agonizing torment for six months, while the third suffered the writhings of a guilty conscience for thirty years. If the first robber, whose crimes gave him a passport to glory,., . received all the punishment his sins deserved, then the second and third received ten thousand times too much ; and if they suffered too much, then a future retribution is neces-sary, in order that a holy God may redress their wrongs. If they are never redressed, then they must remain eternally wronged. Please consider these things, and remember that while truth is always harmonious and consistent, error is fated to run crooked and devour itself. Yours as ever.

« PreviousContinue »