« PreviousContinue »
pp. 3, 4.
have led me from Universalism, and in- The sixth gives reasons for renounduced me to leave a ministry to which I cing it drawn from its moral tendenhave devoted twelve years of the best part of my life. In doing this, I respond
cies and results. The seventh gives to the call of the defenders of Universal- the argument against Universalism, ism, and perform a work which they drawn from future judgment. have professed themselves earnestly desirous to have performed. They invite,
We value the work chiefly for two nay, challenge inquiry. They are confi
The first, is its exhibition dent that Universalism is opposed be of the grace of God in reclaiming cause it is not understood; they complain and converting one far gone in erthat their expositions of Scripture are unnoticed; that their arguments in defense
ror, and of the means and process of Universalism are either not examined by which this was accomplished. at all, or lightly passed over; that doc. The narrative of Mr. Smith's reli. trines are attributed to them, which they have never received, and which they di gious experience ; the effect which avow; and that those who speak of the
the observation of the evil results of moral tendency of Universalism, know Universalism had upon his mindnot of what they affirm.
one of great natural sensibility ; his "My acquaintance with Universalism
mental conflict-the conflict beenables me to speak advisedly in relation to its practical tendency. An experience
tween attachment to his theory and of years with the system and its friends, his aversion to its effects, and the a settlement over one of the largest con- happy conclusion with which divine gregations of Universalists in the country, and an extensive acquaintance with
grace crowned that conflict, must the preachers of the system in all parts of affect the hearts of God's people. the country, fit me to bear an intelligent We have read it with much emotion, testimony as to that system, and to state even with tears. The second reawhat I know and have seen."
son is, the testimony here given as The first lecture gives an account to the dreadful moral influence and of the author's religious experience, results of Universalism, by one who and of his life so far as is necessary knows them from experience and to elucidate that experience. The thorough observation. We have alsecond gives reasons for renouncing ways argued from the fixed princiUniversalism, arising from the diffi- ples of the depraved heart, that a culties that attend its defense ; such system which takes off from that as the character of its doctrines, heart all restraint derived from the striking at the root of all Christian eternal world, which throws loose faith and piety; the irreligious char- the reins on the neck of human pasacter of its ministers and their con- sion, which cries to the conscience gregations; the want of confidence, of the wicked" peace, peace,” which both of preachers and hearers, in promises to men eternal happiness their own system, and their public use live in this world as they list, which, of arguments the sophistry of which in short, abolishes the sanctions of they privately acknowledge; the God's law and the whole influence number and character respectively of God's government in their bearof those who reject and those who ing on human conduct, must be most defend it; its recent date ; and its disastrous in its effects on moral want of sanctions wherewith to en- character. We have seen also force the duties of life. The third something of the results of Univer. gives reasons for renouncing Univer- salism on society. We have known salism, drawn from the threatenings that a large part of professed Uniof the Bible. The fourth and fifth versalists, are among the dregs of give reasons for renouncing the sys- the community, anxious for full li. tem, drawn from the entire insuffi. cense to sin.
We have occasional. ciency and fallacy of the arguments ly seen a congregation of Univer- . adduced for its support from the Bi. salists, and been struck with the ble, reason, and the light of nature. apparent symptoms of moral degra.
dation, and could not repress the
no friend told me of God; no one inthought that an answer to the ques.
structed me to lisp his name, or fear bis
law. I have no recollection of having tion, " who hath redness of eyes?”
ever passed a night in my life, till I was was very obvious. We have known
more than twenty years of age, in a house something of the intimate connexion in which there was family prayer, or the between their place of meeting and reading of the Bible, as an act of religious
worship. the grog-shop and bar-room. But
“ My earliest recollections as to reli. here is a witness from the very cen- gion, are identified with Universalism." ter of the Universalist camp, who has
* When I was six years of age, my father seen all its stations from that cen
embraced the doctrine of Universalism,
and became a preacher of the system. ter to its outposts, who has observed Nearly all that I heard upon the subject all the host from its leaders to its of religion, was favorable to Universallowest subaltern, who reveals the ism; nearly all my relatives were of that whole of what we had seen but a
faith; and almost all my acquaintances
received the same sentiments. Very part, and, testifying to the utter cor- early I imbibed a hatred toward all sysruption and rottenness of the sys
tems that differed from this. So soon tem, more than confirms our obser
were the seeds of error planted in my
heart.” pp. 7, 8. vation, and fully substantiates our reasonings from the nature of the When he was sixteen years of
Mr. Smith has taken us into age, his attention was turned to the the “chambers of imagery” of Uni- subject of personal religion. A seversalism. He has shown to us the riousness prevailed among his assointerior life of its ministry and their ciates, the influence of which he hearers. He has proved to us by felt. He thought his life was not demonstration that Universalism, what it should be, and that his heart which outwardly is by no means a was not right in the sight of God. whited and beautiful sepulcher, is His feelings were enlisted, and in surely 6 full of all uncleanness" some measure changed, so that he within. His testimony is that of one
read the Bible with pleasure, and in who entered on his ministerial office some small meetings urged his felwith enthusiasm, and performed its low men to repentance. But unforduties with great popularity, but by tunately, being in a community far the moral results of the faith, was from evangelical, and falling in with disappointed, disgusted, shocked, teachers of Universalism, and being till sensibility and conscience could assured that Universalism and perendure no longer.
sonal piety could harmonize, his reWe shall therefore, in our review ligious interest was turned into that of Mr. Smith's work, dwell princi- evil channel. He adopted the syspally on these two points.
tem of Universalism, began preparIt is a fact well worthy of our no- ation for its ministry, and preached tice, that Mr. Smith did not become his first sermon in Medway, Mass., a Universalist in opposition to early when between seventeen and eighreligious instruction, to all those as. teen years of age. About a year sociations which cluster around the after, in December, 1829, he refamily altar, and to the sacred and moved to Vermont, to take charge undying influences which parental of two Universalist societies, one in fidelity implants in the heart. Uni- Brattleboro' and the other in Guil. versalism was the religion of his ford. Having unbounded confichildhood. He says
dence in the system which he had “I never enjoyed early religious in. adopted, he had no doubt that it struction. In my father's house there would work a great moral change was no family aliar ; no voice of prayer in society, and used every exertion was there heard ; no reading of the Bible as an act of worship. I never enjoyed to spread that system, preaching the benefit of Sabbath school instruction; with all the ardor of youth and all the fervor of sincerity. How his have I been complimented with oaths ; expectations were answered, he thus
heard the scoffer and the vile hope the informs us.
good work would go on; and been wish
ed success in language too foul and offen"At the very outset, I was mortified
sive to be repeated. When I saw a man at the results of my ministry, and pained in any congregation of an intelligent apwith what I saw in those who were
pearance, I presumed him to be an infithe loudest in their professions of regard del, and never in this respect was I misfor “the blessed doctrine,' as Universal
taken." pp. 10, 11, 12. ism was usually called. I saw none of that reform which I expected would at
“Often,” he says, “in the soli. tend my preaching; no moral reforma tude of my study, such questions as tion, though none needed it more than these, searching and painful, would my personal friends; no change for the arise. • Does good attend your better, though I saw many changes for preaching? Do profaneness, Sabthe worse."
“I was praised in the bar. rooms, and my bealth drank in almost bath-breaking, intemperance, licenevery tavern in the county. On the tiousness, fly at the approach of Sabbath, my congregation came direct your faith? Do religious fear, godfrom the tavern to my meeting, and went as directly back to the tavern after the liness, holiness, distinguish its remeeting. The intermission was usually ception among men?'”
These repassed in discussing the merits of the fections, though they made him sermon, not always in the most decorous unhappy, did not yet shake his faith terms; and in drinking my health, with their best wishes for my successful vin. in his system. He consoled himself dication of the salvation of all men." with the thought, that the fault was
“ While those who attended upon my not in Universalism, but in its proministry were called the liberal party, I fessors. knew that most of them were profane men; a large portion were open disbe
In the year 1832, he accepted an lievers in the inspiration of the Bible; invitation to take charge of the Unia and nearly all had been peculiar for their versalist society in Hartford. There habits of Sabbath violation, passing the he attracted a large congregation, day in business or in pleasure. In all things, save an attendance upon my
and was highly esteemed and well preaching, they remained professedly and supported by his society. really the same. Men came together, good moral results attended his but not to be made better. They seemed to desire that their hands might be ministry. The founders and chief strengthened in sin; and thought the supporters of the society, its clerk, end of preaching to be, to prove that all a majority of its committee, and retribution was limited to this life, and
seven eighths of the pew-holders, that all men would finally be saved. When occasionally I urged upon my
were undisguised infidels. hearers the duties of life, and lightly re- “But," he says,
“ the absence of good proved their vices, I was told that such
moral results was not the only evil with preaching was decidedly illiberal, and which I was called to coutend. I not very much like the orthodox. Nor were
only turned no sinner from the error of profaneness, gambling, Sabbath-breaking, his ways ; called back no soul from the or infidelity, regarded as in any respect road of death ; but I saw positive evils inconsistent with a profession of Univer- attending my labors. Many who attend. salism. One of the officers of my socie- ed my ministry were grossly immoral, ty in Guilford, was in the habit of going and more were waxing worse and worse. into the adjoining towns to hear me “ One fact that transpired among others, preach ; and I have known bim repeated- made me very unhappy. On Sabbath ly to pass nearly the whole Saturday evenings my church was usually crowded night in gambling with young men at a with young men. Many of these would tavern-young men whom he had invi.
leave the bar-rooms and dram-shops in ted to accompany him to meeting. And
the vicinity of my meeting-house, attend at the same time this individual was en
my lecture, and then retire again, at its gaged in a controversy in a secular paper close, to those places of infamy, and there with a Methodist clergyman, upon the pass nearly the whole night. They moral tendenty of Universalism!”
would drink my health, and praise me “One uniform tendency accompanied and my sermons in the awful words of Universalism in all places. One class of profaneness and blasphemy." pp. 16, 17. men hailed the doctrine, and wished the preacher abundant success.'
Oppressed beyond measure by
these facts; not willing to do his distressed, and could find no peace fellow men an injury, yet knowing unless by a great effort he banished that many could justly accuse him the whole subject from his mind, as the author of their ruin ; morti. and turned his attention to some. fied and appalled at the contrast be- thing else. He wrote and preached tween the character and spirit of the often under the influence of doubts orthodox community and that of his almost overwhelming. Once in orown community, and between the der to remove his doubts, he wrote results of orthodox preaching and a sermon in which he presented in those of his own; harassed by the strongest form all the arguments doubts, and worn down by anxie. he could think of in defense of Unity and incessant labor, his health versalism. He preached the ser. and reason gave way. During his
mon but once, and though his people mental alienation, his whole theme requested it for the press, he comwas Universalism, its tendency, and mitted it to the flames. When he the insufficiency of the proof ad conversed with his ministerial asso
. duced for its support. On this sub- ciates for relief, he did not experiject he had conversations at that ence it, but often found them in time with two of the pastors of that deeper difficulty than himself. He city, in which he revealed what was resolved at length to dismiss the passing in his mind.
subject of man's destiny altogether After he had partially recovered from his sermons, and to preach on his health, feeling that he could re- moral subjects and the practical dumain no longer in Hartford, he re- ties of life, without saying any thing signed his charge, resolved to seek in respect to the final salvation of another field of labor. Compelled to all men. reject ultra Universalism, he adopted
" This change,” he says,
" in the subthe doctrine of limited future pun. jects of my sermons was soon noticed, ishment. Distressed at the immo- and complained of. Some desired a litralities of his denomination, he de.
tle more doctrine. Others thought the
youth ought to be indoctrinated, and that termined to preach less against the
the minister ought to do it. • From vari. faith of other sects, and more ous sources, I would hear that strangers against the sins of his own society; who entered my church could not tell
what my views were ; and my society less upon the certainty of the salva
considered it a reproach, that men could tion of all men, and more upon the lear a Universalist preach, and not know duties of life. He was soon settled whether or not he believed that all men over a Universalist society in Salem. would be saved. While others, ont of There his congregation was one of
regard to my health and ease, desired me
to preach some of my old sermons—the the largest in the city ; but the design being to obtain the doctrine which practical results of his ministry those sermons were known to contain." were the same
as before. He p. 28. could not rest in the doctrine, which But notwithstanding this farther by an ascending step he had adopt- change, his mind was not at rest. ed, of limited future punishment. He had dismissed the subject of Its effect was much the same as that man's final destiny from his preachof ultra Universalism, and moreover ing, but he could not dismiss it from he could find in the Bible no evi- his thoughts. And though he did dence of any limit to future punish- not yet give up his faith in the ultiment, and the same reasons by mate salvation of all men, he felt which he proved any punishment that as an honest man he could no hereafter, demanded its perpetuity. longer represent a system which
. Yet, unable to give up his faith in the was plainly at war with the interultimate salvation of all men, deter- ests of his race. He therefore wrote mined to cling to that, he was greatly a letter to the committee of the Uni
versalist society, in which among take hold of my own heart, and allow other things, he said :
me to speak to the hearts of my fellow
men. I was now, in a measure, afloat. "If I could serve the society without I had no settled opinions upon religion. acting in concert or being identified with On what side soever I turned, I found the denomination of Universalists, I difficulties; and on all sides, the horizon should be ready and happy so to do. was black indeed.” “ I had no religious
“If, however, the society should insist acquaintance, to whom I could unburden upon such a concert of action, I shall my mind. My sufferings were great ; hold myself ready, cheerfully, and with my anguish more exquisite than language the kindest feelings, forthwith to tender can paint. I did not know where to go, my resignation of the office of pastor, and or to whom I could speak; and it seemed with it all the duties, trials, and responsi. to me literally, that no man cared for bilities of that trust.
my soul.' I would have given all I posThe committee to whom this letter whom' I could have unbosomed myself;
sessed, to have found some friend to was sent, called upon him to induce who would have said some kind thing, him to take it back-expressed their or bid me hope in God. But I did not surprise-thought he was commit- dare trust even my own family. Though
it seemed to me that every man I met ting a suicidal act, and assured him read my feelings in my countenance, I that if he would take back the letter kept them to myself till I was carried and continue his labors, they would almost into my grave.”. pledge him their honors that no mor
“ A complaint which, from my child
hood, has been the bane of my existence, tal should ever know that it had and which in Hartford had led to tempobeen written. He told them that rary derangement, threatened to return. the sentiments he had expressed re
I was admonished that it was time to mained unchanged, and that he seek medical advice.” pp. 33, 34. could not eat the bread of dishon- Finding that he could not otheresty-resigned his office, and from wise answer necessary questions, he that hour has had no official con- unburdened his mind to his physinexion with Universalism.
cian, who warmly sympathized with Impelled by his increasing doubts him, and urged him not to incur the about the ultimate salvation of all great hazard of bearing this state of men, he resolved thoroughly and feeling alone, but to seek assistance faithfully to review and weigh all from some religious teacher. Unthe arguments for and against that willing to commit himself by seekdoctrine. The result of this review ing sympathy or instruction from was his full conviction, “that Uni- those near him, with a trembling versalism is as false in theory as it spirit and great anxiety he wrote to is destructive in practice.” But the Rev. Dr. Hawes, with whom he had same gracious Spirit who had led some acquaintance, and communihim to reject that false system, still cated to him his difficulties. The urged him on, and pressed the in- answer, which was sent immediatequiry, “ What is truth?” For the ly, was such as might have been system denominated orthodoxy he expected in such circumstances, had by early association and long from such a source. habit the most perfect contempt and abhorrence. Still, he was con
"A letter," says Mr. S., “so full of
Christian sympathy I did not expect, strained to look at religion as a per. and, I know not why, I was unmanned sonal concern, and to consider the for a season, and unfitted for any duty. question, whether he had met with
As soon as my feelings subsided, I re
solved to be a Christian, if God would that change and formed that char. give me grace, to live in his service, and acter which the Bible declares to die in his cause. be essential to salvation.
“ But peace came not in an hour. A
deep probing of my own soul took place. “ I felt,” says he, “ that there was a My síns were set in order before me, and reality in religion, which I had never unless help came from the cross, I felt known, a power that I had never enjoy- that I must perish, and perish most justly. ed. I longed for something that would Against great light I had sinned, and