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book, at least I have found none, of a dispute, on the part of the writer, in favour of the doctrine that future punishment will be endless. · Such being the case, why are we not to suppose that he bears testimony, in this way, to a prevailing (I do not say universal) sentiment of his time, in regard to the matter before us? I know of no laws for the examination and judging of testimony, which would lead us to reject his evidence in this case. On the contrary, the testimony which he gives, in this indirect way, is in its nature more convincing and satisfactory, than if we had found him to be disputing in order to maintain the doctrine of endless punishment.
Had I time and did the present circumstances permit, the same view which he takes of this subject might be greatly confirmed by appeal to other ancient documents, nearly cotemporaneous with the Book of Enoch. Such are the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the fourth book of Ezra, a part of the so-called Sibylline Oracles, and (if we may num. ber this among the productions of the primitive age) the Shepherd of Hermas. This latter book, however, I cannot well doubt, must be placed some 70 or 80 years later than the other productions here named; and the testimony is at least doubtful.
He who peruses with attention all these works, can never doubt what was the common belief of the primitive age, on the subject of endless punishment. Even the common mythology of the heathen made a Tartarus, from which there is no escape. That they believed in a kind of purga. tory, also, will not disprove the other position ; for only sinners in a mitigated degree were admissible to purgatory.
I may then, with such evidence before me, assume the fact, that a belief in endless punishment, in the primitive age of Christianity, was general and usual. Those who thought of retribution at all, and believed in it, seem to have adopted the belief, that it was to have no end.
I may be permitted then to ask once more: Why did not Jesus and his apostles, who must have known what the common belief was, in case they deemed it to be erroneouswhy did they not correct it? As honest and upright and simple-hearted teachers, would they not have done so ? Should they not have done so? We are entitled to put this last question ; for no subject which can come before the human
mind is more agitating, or more deeply interesting, than that which respects the duration of future misery. If Jesus and his disciples actually knew that all men will finally be saved, how can we deem it probable that they should not have written this in characters of light, or spoken it with a voice that would echo around the earth? Of all possible messages this would have been one of the deepest concern to the hopes of our perishing race.
Why then have those holy teachers failed to make explicit declarations, which admit of no doubt and no misinterpretation, in regard to this matter? If I should be told, as I may be by some, that they have made such declarations; my answer is, that after making the Scriptures the principal object of my study through most of my life, I have not been able to find them. I have sought for them with great solicitude; in one sense I can say truly, that I have hoped to find them, I know not how to account for it, then, if prejudice has so blinded my eyes that I cannot find them-cannot find them although they would afford unspeakable relief to my mind, when agonized with the thought that future misery is to be endless. Can it be, that the Bible does plainly and explicitly and often avow, what I have never been able to find, although sought for with so deep an interest ?
I will not deny that it can be. No man is infallible ; scarcely any one free from some prejudice. I have no feelings that would lead me to exempt myself from the common infirmities of my fellow beings; and therefore I admit that it is quite possible, that I have entirely overlooked what some a ffirm to be one of the plainest doctrines in all the Scrip.
tores. Still, my present convictions speak not the less to my o wn mind. I cannot find in the Scriptures a disavowal of th e usual belief of the primitive age as to endless punishment; nor can I find where an opinion contrary to this is taught, or even suggested, in the Bible.
I have examined and re-examined, oftentimes, those texts which are alleged to teach the doctrine of universal salvation; but no principles of interpretation which I can adopt for the rest of the Scriptures, will permit me to explain them in such a way. I do not, and cannot, find the evidence, therefore, that Jesus and his disciples have contradicted the views of future punishment, as set forth in the book of Enoch ; I mean so far as the perpetuity and dreadful nature of this
SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. 1.
punishment is concerned. Of course I am unable to see how or why it could be, that neither Jesus nor his disciples have taken any pains to correct the common opinion in relation to this subject, provided it was inconsistent with the truth. A pious fraud in concealing such a truth we cannot admit. It does not comport with their character. Defi. ciency of sympathy and kind feeling we cannot admit; for here is no evidence of this, but of the contrary. I must conclude, therefore, that they saw nothing important to correct in the common belief respecting this matter. I fully beeve that what they have taught, all goes to confirm this belief.
I may in justice to my subject further say, that the efforts of those who deny the doctrine of endless misery, seem in the main to be directed merely toward assailing the texts brought forward by their antagonists in order to confirm the contrary opinion. What does this shew, but a consciousness that appearances at least in the Bible are very much against them, and that they have no good chance of maintaining their own standing, unless they can successfully assail the texts adduced by their antagonists ?
Any one who is conversant with the tracts and books which are almost daily making their appearance in defence of universal salvation, must have been struck with the boisterous manner and overweening confidence with which arguments in favour of this doctrine are generally advanced. There is an air of positivity and a bold assumption of certainty, which is rarely found in any other class of theological disputants, that characterize most of the champions of this dogma. In what light are we to view all this? I have often remarked, that some men are positive, and obtrusive, and confident in their opinions, and noisy in the expression of them, either with a design to impose them by a kind of force upon others, or else to conceal from themselves and others the secret doubts which all the while are agitating :heir own breasts in regard to what they maintain, With most of the productions of Universalists that have met my eye, for these some years, I am disposed to think the latter is the case. When a sober man, by studying a subject thoroughly, has become so far acquainted with it as to know what he should believe, and on what grounds lie rests his belief; when, moreover, he is thoroughly satisfied that those grounds are stable, and will abide the test of attack or scru
tiny ; it is not usual for him to swagger respecting his convictions, nor to boast of their certainty and firmness, nor to flout or leer at every thing which is suggested against them. Soldiers are wont to say, that the men who talk most of their courage and prowess in the retirement of a camp, are very apt to fall in the rear on the field of battle. Men of calm, cool, deliberate, unostentatious courage, it is expected, will execute the command to charge with the bayonet, while men of a different stamp will turn pale and tremble, when the bullets begin to whistle.
So, I am apt to think, is it with most of the champions of Universalism. Did they feel that they were well armed and well manned for the contest, they would not, like the Persian and Turkish arrays of battle, rend the heavens and earth, at the onset, with the clamour of voices and the din of arms, in order to frighten the ranks of opposers. Conscious possession of truth, in an honest cause, is wont to stand firm and collected, knowing its ultimate resources, and well persuaded too that noise is not argument, nor confident assertions reasoning.
In fact, there is no more suspicious mark of weakness in a combatant, than swaggering and obtrusive confidence. And if this be so, is there not reason to believe, that most of those who attempt to prove the doctrine of Universal Salvation from the Bible, do, after all, feel that they are labouring to obscure the Scriptures, not to say, pervert them, rather than to educe their simple and plain meaning ?
It is wrong to judge any class of men with rigour, and I v ould not willingly do it; but I hope they will bear with me, in this case-they, I mean, on whom my remarks fall-when I honestly state the impression which their manner of theologizing makes upon me. If I am singular, or in the wrong, l hope I shall be forgiven for the apparently uncharitable views that I have expressed. That I am singular, cannot be true; to my certain knowledge it is not. That I am in the wrong, I shall believe, when I become convinced that the Bible teaches the doctrine of Universal Salvation.
The attempts at philology, which some of our fellow citizens of the class named often exhibit; the shew of learning, the parade of aiav and obis, and of declarations respecting them which shew that the mere elements of critical study are not mastered; the descants on the foreign languages of
Greek and Hebrew, by those to whom they are still altogether foreign; may provoke the smile, or the disgust, of one who has studied those languages more thoroughly, but they can make but little progress towards convincing him. When will men learn, that reason and not noise, that science and not ignorance, that patient and protracted investigation and not hasty and a priori assertion, are the appropriate means of convincing and winning over their fellow men? I know of no class in our country, who have more to learn in regard to this, than some of the Universalists.
But unhappily, while these truths are not denied in theory, or at any rate ought not to be, it seems only to spur on some champions to more adventurous dabbling with this subject. They must needs keep up the shew of learning, in order to preserve appearances. And so we have books on aiớv and bsis, those two refractory and unsubduable words that give so much trouble to some, written by men who cannot even frame to pronounce rightly the very words themselves, and who would be irretrievably puzzled to distinguish between some of the letters of the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. What kind of a cause must that be, which calls for and admits such advocates and such efforts as these ?
But our weariness of so much noise, accompanied by so little argument and fairness of mind, should not prevent an examination of the subject before us, in a candid, serious, patient manner. If it be true that all men will be saved, it is one of the most interesting truths, in some respects the most interesting truth, ever published to our guilty and sinful race. It is worthy of proclamation through heaven, earth, and hell. It places the whole of the divine govern. ment, counsels, and proceedings, on a basis entirely different from that on which they are commonly supposed to rest, and would oblige us literally to begin anew the study of the Bible and the study of Theology. To this no rational man should object, provided his mind can be satisfied of the need of it. Let us welcome truth, from whatever quarter it may come; for truth is eternal; and not only so, but the old adage, Magna est veritas et prævalebit
, should be most heartily assented to. Yet methinks there is something more than obtrusive and confident assertion, or reckless and drivelling criticism, or noisy contumely and coarse jesting, necessary to convince intelligent minds that we are actually to