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expressly arranged by Heaven, whereby sin can be indulged in to any extent, and by an easy expedient, its penalties all avoided !
This system is sometimes denominated a way in which God can be inerciful and yet just. But its true name should be—" A contrivance to allow mankind to drink their fill of sin, and still escape all Jehovah's threatened penalties !" I repudiate the whole the. ory in loto! It is false and unreal as “the baseless fabric of a vision"—and delusive and dangerous to the last degree. The theory is a great “air castle," resting on-nothing! It is made from “whole cloth." Not only does it contradict the most plain, literal and emphatic language in the Bible, but it violates all proper conceptions of propriety and justice, and wars against the clearest dictates of common sense.
This theory necessarily represents sin as sweet and desirable, and as calculated to impart enjoyment and happiness. I say necessarily—because the moment it is allowed that sin is a bitter, an evil, in itself, or that it gives pain and unhappiness, to those who are guilty, it would be virtually acknowledging that there is a punishment connected with it, which is unavoidable. Hence we often hear Evangelical preachers speaking of the pleasures of sin --the enjoyments of transgressors, and the prosperity and happiness of the wicked-pointing to their well-filled barns, as my friend opposite has, to prove that they have no punishment in this world! All can see how dangerous is this representation, how immoral its tendency, how eager the youthful and inexperienced will be to follow the promptings of their passions, and plunge into that sin they are told is so sweet, and that wickedness which is so prosperous. But when to this most false and dangerous view of the nature of sin, is added the gigantic and monstrous error for which my opposing brother and all the Evangelical clergy contend so strongly, that the sinner can easily be saved from all punishment justly due wickedness, the of delusion is completed. So far as their influence extends every barrier to sin is broken down, and millions plunge into wickedness and ruin! And that this theory is so strongly contended for in public discussion—as on this occasion-and openly proclaimed from the sacred desk, from Sabbath to Sabbath, by learned, popular, and influential ministers of the Gospel, in the presence of the young and inexperienced of both sexes, and has all the solemn and weighty sanctions of a popular religion, only makes the theory the more dangerous, and its deleterious effects the more wide-spread and deplorable.
Reflect! How can it be otherwise, than this doctrine should be demoralizing in the extreme? What more does the sinner ask; what more can he want to encourage him in wicked practices! He is tempted to sin, and feels a strong desire to give way to that temptation. He is told by men of piety, learning and influence, that to indulge in sin is to enjoy happiness and prosperity--that the wicked do not know they are punished in this world, and that there is a way provided whereby they can escape from every particle of the punishment God has threatened against sin herealter! What more can be said, to encourage men to commit sin ? What effect would it have in human governments, should legislators enact laws, providing that all criminals should be punished unless they repented of their crimes; but that if they would repent, they should be pardoned from all punishment, and an innocent substitute should satisfy the penalty of the law ? All must see that such a law would be destructive, even in human governments. How is it possible that it can be salutary, in a divine government!
What has been the practical effect of this theory upon the community at large? It has allured millions into wicked practices, and is still doing the same abhorrent work every hour. It has encouraged to all sinful acts ever committed on earth. This very doctrine was the lying sermon preached to our first parents. “Ye shall not surely die"-there is a way provided whereby ye may commit sin, and be saved from its just punishment!! That was the theology proclaimed by the serpent to Adam and Eve. It was a great falsehood, and they found it to be so. And from that day to this, it has been the delusion which has led men to the perpetration of all crime! No man ever committed a wilful and known sin, except under the direct influence of one or both of these two errors, viz:-That wickedness affords pleasure, and that just and deserved punishment may be escaped. Go to our prisons, our penitentiaries, our jails-go to the sinks of pollution, the haunts of licentiousness--ask their inmates why they pursue their reckless career of wickedness? Without an exception, they will return the same answer: “I believed sin would make me truly happy, and that I could escape its punishment!"
It is true, the advocates of this theory, have much to say in regard to punishments. They warn the sinner of great, appalling and endless tortures. Much of their time is spent in dwelling on these punishments, and in exhorting the wicked to flee from the wrath to come, in another world. But of what avail is all this, on the great mass of the sinful? How can it restrain them from wickedness? Punishment is put afar off-in an unseen and unknown world—and abundant opportunity is furnished to avoid it entirely. This way of escape, neutralizes all the influence which the threatened penalty might otherwise exert. Sinners are taught there is no punishment here--or so little that the wicked do not know when it is inflicted—but that all punishment is hereafter ! At the same time they are instructed that religion, the gospel, the death and atonement of Christ, are designed expressly to enable them to escape that hereafter punishment. All restraint is thus taken away. When they give way to temptation they keep their eyes fixed, not on the far off, endless punishment, which they be
lieve exists in another world, but on the way of ESCAPE from it! Of this way of escape, they mean in due time to avail themselves. By this, alas! they are allured to transgression. The wicked man sees he may sin with a high hand-run a reckless career in crime-indulge in every species of wickedness---lie, steal, rob, defraud, plunge into licentiousness, riot in pollution--yea, even stain his hands in the heart's blood of his brother man, and yet at the last hour, while standing on the gallows even, by repentance, may escape with perfect impunity, all punishment hereafter! Aye, he is taught, that, swinging from the gallows, under such circumstances, he ascends up to glory, to shout hallelujah, with the highest angels around God's throne; while perhaps, the poor victim he killed in an instant, giving him no opportunity to
down to hell, to be tormented by demons forever and ever!! And this is really some men's idea of moral restraint, God's justice, and the operation of a perfect government.
Brother Moderators : There is, there can be, no moral restraint in this doctrine. I do not wonder my brother seeks to prevent my dwelling on this feature of his system. I would if I were he. But I deem it my duty to expose the demoralizing tendency of this theory. I regret that I am compelled to do it, and I deeply sympathize with Elder Holmes, when he is made to look the immoral influence of modern Evangelism directly in the face. Yet I am un. der solemn obligation to call the attentinn of community to this marked and fatal defect of the system which is strangely denominated orthodox.
Compare the moral influence of the two systems. Here is a man tempted to sin. He is inclined to give way to the temptation, and looks round for encouragement. He inquires of Universalism, what will be the effect of indulging in crime? That system assures him there is no pleasure in sin—that in its very nature, and in all its influences, it is a bitter evil-that its whole effect on the heart and life, is injurious and destructive—that “the way of the transgressor is hard :” (Prov. xiii. 15)- that his path is dark, dreary, full of thorns, brambles, and poisonous weeds, and infested with envenomed reptiles and deadly adders—that so long as he walks therein, he must unavoidably experience pain and wretchedness—and impresses on his mind the deep conviction that sin and misery are inszparably connected, being in fact, united by cause and effect, which no human art can separate. With such a prospect in view, he sees no encouragement to sin, and turns to the modern Evangelical system. How different the representation. This teaches him there is enjoyment in sin--that it is calculated to make men happy while indulging in it—and to satisfy him of it, points to the barns of the wicked filled with grain, and insists if they receive any punishment in this life, it is so light they are not aware of it! The pathway of the wicked is described as smooth and pleasant—there the sun always shines brightly-the flowers bloom--the birds sing-iba
trees of wickedness bend with golden delicious fruit! All is brightDess, all is happiness. So far as this world is concerned, the way of sin is the place to find pleasure and enjoy life! True, it is insisted that the flowery road of sin, leads to a dark and dreadful guli, in another state of existence, into which the transgressor will assuredly fall, and be tossed on fiery billows forever, IF he does not turn to God. But he is told that all along this beautiful road, there branch numerous paths of repentance, which lead directly to safety, and that at any time, he can escape through them-avoid the gulph of perdition, and ascend up to heaven!!
I ask the candid portion of this audience, which of these representations, would be most likely to lead the tempted man into wickedness—and which the most calculated to restrain him? One important fact throws much light on the subject, and will greatly aid in deciding this inquiry. Take the map of the world-point to the spot on the globe where doctrines which teach escape from punishmeat, most generally prevail—and that will be a community where the mass of the people, are the most immoral and depraved among men! Point to a place where those doctrines are the most generally repudiated, and where belief in the certainty of punishment is the prevailing sentiment, and there the people will be found the most moral, pure, and upright! I challenge the investigation !!
It is the solemn conviction of my heart, that those denominations who virtually encourage men into wickedness by continually proclaiming and insisting that punishment can be easily escapeil, are held responsible by Jehovah for the deleterious effect of this theory on the world! I believe he will enter into judgment with them, for the great evil they are inflicting on society. Yea, he has already commenced his reckoning with them. I see it in the low state of religion, the indifference, the deadness, which prevail in their midst! I see it in the divisions which are tearing them asunder I see it in the fact that some of the largest of these sects are rapidly decreasing—and that to which Elder Holmes belongs, the most rapidly of any! I plainly behold “ MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN!” written all over the walls of their spiritual edifice!! They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting !!—[ Time expired.
(MR. HOLMES' EIGHTH SPEECH.] Gentlemen Moderators :-If Mr. Austin has in reserve, other arguments than those already presented, I wish to call his attention to that rule of the discussion which requires that no new arguments be presented in the closing speech by either party. To offer additional arguments in a closing speech would conflict with this rule, besides being an act of injustice to the opposing disputant, as he can have no opportunity to reply.
He has read to us in substance the same essays three or four
times over-though not always in the same phraseology. To these dessertations, I have as often replied, in a manner that has satisfied the candid portion of this assembly: and yet nearly as often as he speaks, he brings forward the same matter again, with as much apparent assurance, as though nothing had been said in reply. The gentleman ought to know, if he does not, that fourfifths, if not seven-eighths of all he has said during the last fifteen minutes is utterly false. I mean, not to charge him with inte ntional falsehood, but that the facts in the case do not justify his conclusions. Of a man of his standing, talent, and means of information, it was reasonable to suppose he would be more candid than to indulge in such misrepresentations. I am sorry he has found it necessary to take such an uncandid course, because such a course imposes upon me the very disagreeable task of entering into details which I hoped to avoid-of giving a comparative view of the morality of Universalism.
I hold in my hand a book written by Matthew Hale Smith, twelve years a Universalist preacher; and were I disposed to act on the principle of retaliation, I could produce from it facts and circumstances which would cause my friend to blush-if he is susceptible of this outward proof of inward shame. I know that after the most strenuous efforts to prevent his renunciation of Universalism, Mr. Smith is now denounced as anything but a decent man: but as denunciation is no part of argument, the facts he has collected remain as proof positive of the immoral tendency and fruits of that theory, which through prejudice and false education, he was induced to advocate for twelve years.
The declamatory assertions of my friend respecting the immoral tendency of the doctrine 1 advocate in this discussion, have not a single fact to support them. Does he mean to institute a comparison in a moral and religious sense, between the Universalists as a people, and the orthodox churches of the day? It were an insult to the good sense of this audience to attempt a formal defence of the Evangelical churches from the conclusion sought to be established by such a comparison. That there are bad men in all communions, may be admitted without reflecting at all upon the moral tendency of the doctrinal peculiarities of those communions. The native corruption of the heart when yielded to, often prompts men to break through all moral restraints, and indulge in vice. In this case they are vicious in spite of the restraining, moral influence of their doctrine. As the doctrine they embrace, condemns their course, and denounces against them punishment in this life, and that to come--their corruption is chargeable to themselves, not to their creed.
This, however, is not true of Universalists and Universalism. The Universalist is quite willing to dare the retributions of God in this world, it does not appear that they exert any restraining influence upon his mind; and as for the future, it is a general