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1. DOES GOSPEL SALVATION EMBRACE DELIVERANCE FROM JUST AND DESERVED PUNISHMENT?
2. IS THERE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE FOR BELIEVING THAT ALL MEN WILL BE FINALLY HOLY AND HAPPY?
3. IS THERE SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE FOR BELIEVING THAT ANY PART OF THE HUMAN FAMILY WILL SUFFER ENDLESS MISERY IN A FUTURE State?
The following gentlemen acted as Moderators:
WILLIAM B. WOODEN, Esq., Genoa,
DOES GOSPEL SALVATION EMBRACE DELIVERANCE FROM JUST AND DESERVED PUNISHMENT ?
[MR. HOLMES' FIRST SPEECH.]
GENTLEMEN MODERATORS, and Respected Audience:-In opening the discussion to which I am now committed, my mind is affected by emotions somewhat conflicting. I trust, therefore, I shall not be deemed as departing from the rules of this discussion, or from the proprieties due the occasion, if at this point I indulge in a few remarks personal to myself. I am willing to allow that I have felt some little diffidence and hesitation at entering into this discussion; although, since I put my name to the paper, just read, I have never for one moment faltered. This diffidence and hesitation have arisen from a variety of considerations, some of which I will briefly mention. First, I make no claim to that peculiar talent, which I suppose to be best adapted to public discussions of this kind. To conduct such discussions, with interest and success, needs a mind characterized by elasticity and vivacity, with the power of ready comparison, quick apprehension, nice discrimination, and capable of giving free and easy expression to its thoughts, in a flowing and commanding style. I feel conscious that I do not possess all these qualifications to the extent a debater should, and that I enter upon this discussion under some disadvantages on this account. I wish to have it understood therefore, that I do not depend for success in this debate upon my power or rhetoric as a debater, or upon my eloquence; to neither of which do I make any considerable pretensions, but I do depend upon the soundness of my cause, and the strength of my arguments. I enter too, upon this discussion in violation of the sense of propriety of some of my best and most valued friends, whose judgment on any case I am bound to respect, though I may not always follow. There is doubt in many intelligent minds, with respect to the utility of such discussions, and I confess that my own mind has been in doubt on the same point. And my opinion still is, that unless they can be properly conducted, they had better not be held at all. There are,
however, some cases in which discussions of theological and other questions have been attended with good, and I hope this occasion will present such an instance. When I remember that Jesus Christ did not hesitate to dispute with the Scribes and Doctors of the law and expose their fallacies in the hearing of the people, that St. Paul disputed with the distinguished Jews and Greeks, that Luther and his associates held public discussions with the Cardinals and Legates of Rome, that Wesley and his coadjutors were as distinguished for their polemics as for their christian catholcity, my mind is relieved, and my sense of duty under the circumstances enables me to rise superior to the judgment of friends; and I stand fully committed to the prosecution of this debate. But while my mind is affected with hesitation and diffidence on these and some other accounts, there are other considerations which are a source of real pleasure. It is a pleasure to know that I am to address a congregation of candid persons, who will duly appreciate and weigh the arguments presented. I do not know that I could have suited myself better in this respect, had the choice been left entirely to me. Some apprehension was felt that the contracted dimensions of the house would not afford sufficient accommodation for the people; but I have never believed that the congregation would not listen with candor and impartiality to what was said. And it shall be my study to give reasons for what I may say; indeed, I should consider it trifling with the good sense of the audience, if I were to fill up the time with common place remarks, or throw dust into their eyes, instead of addressing their understanding.
It is also a source of pleasure to me, that the disputants have been able to secure the services of the gentlemen who are to act as Moderators. I have confidence in those gentlemen, in their intelligence, judgment and integrity; and I believe, if circumstances shall require them to give decisions, they will be characterized by impartiality, and that the whole business of the debate, as far as they are responsible for its conduct, will be so carried forward as to give satisfaction to to all parties.
It is also a source of great pleasure to me that I have for my opponent the REV. J. M. AUSTIN, whose praise is in all the Universalist Congregations. There is only one man of whom I have any information whom I would prefer to meet in a discussion of this kind; namely MR. SKINNER: not because I suppose he is more talented, but he has more reputation as a debater, and as the champion of Universalism in Central New York: But in the absence of Mr. Skinner, Mr. Austin is of all others, the man I prefer to meet. So far as I know, he has the confidence of his own people; he claims the authorship of a number of books and pamphlets; is the corresponding editor of the Evangelical Magazine, so called; is the preacher of the most wealthy and respectable Universalist society in this section of the state; and exhibits too as I understand, great learning and ability in criticism on the Greek text. In meet