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apostles, and see if they can find, in a single instance, that any one of the apostles ever said a word about hell, or its eternal torments to produce this revival. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, is as silent on the subject of hell torments, as if no such thing existed in the universe of God. He addressed the very men who had been the betrayers and murderers of the Lord of glory, but does he threaten them with the torments of hell, or even enforce his doctrine by any intimation that they were exposed to such a place of punishment? And is not all the preaching of the aposiles uniformly the same in regard to this subject? No working on the passions; no attempt is made by them to terrify people into religion. One might with as much truth affirm, that an eruption of mount Vesuvius produced this revival, as that it was effected by preaching endless misery in hell! Let men only preach as the apostles did, by declaring the glad tidings of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, and many things which go by the name of revivals of religion, would be at an end. As the means of revivals in our day are very different from those used by the apostles, so are the revivals produced by such means. The converts made by such means, instead of partaking of the meek, humble, and gentle spirit of Christ, become censorious, bigoted and dogmatical, and with reluctance will they admit that persons, who certainly give as much evidence as themselves of Christianity, can really be Christians. They get attached to their minister, and to their sect, and zeal for these is often mistaken for a zeal for God and his glory. Strong excitement of the animal passions, sometimes even to extravagance, is ascribed to the power of God, at work among the people. As to understanding and believing the gospel, of the grace of God, little is said, and as little perhaps, cared about. We think we may say to such persons, in their own language,
"who ever heard or read of such kind of revivals of religion among the apostles and primitive Christians, or who ever heard of their producing any kind of revival whatever by terrifying people with fearful descriptions of eternal misery?" The course which the apostles pursued was open, manly, and dignified; and the doctrine they preached was glad tidings of great joy to all people. Their object was not to save men from Gehenna or hell, but from ignorance, idolatry, licentiousness, and unbelief, and to instruct them in the knowledge and obedience of the one living and true God. But, the primary object of preaching in the present day, seems to be, to save men from hell; to attach converts to some religious party, and enjoin on them to believe neither more nor less, all the days of their lives than is contained in the creed, which they subscribed to on their admission.
No one will certainly construe what is said in the foregoing remarks, into a disapprobation of revivals generally; but only of such as are produced by terror. We maintain. yea, we advocate true Scriptural revivals of religion. We know of nothing which could afford us more heartfelt joy, than to see all parties in religion, yea, all mankind, attending to the oracles of God, and sincerely searching them to know and obey all that the Lord hath commanded. In our remarks we have considered terror the principal means in producing revivals in the present day; and to such, and such only, the preceding observations are intended to apply. Divest modern orthodoxy of this most powerful mean of producing religious excitements, and henceforth it would probably have as few revivals of religion to boast of, as Universalism itself. We know not, why the truth of God preached by Universalists, should not produce a real 'Scriptural revival of relig on, equally as when preached by others. Is it the particular medium or manner of communication, that
is to give the word of God effect? Or is the power of the Lord exclusively confined to a certain class of preachers? It is now, we presume, as it was in the days of the apostles, that the Lord bears testimony to his own word, and that Paul might plant and Apollos might water, but it was God who gave the increase. But if our memory has not deceived us, we have seen printed rules for bringing about revivals of religion, and some preachers have not hesitated to say that it was the people's own fault that they had not revivals among them. Yea, some have determined before hand, that they would get up a revival, and have gone to work in their own way and accomplished it. All this we really think is without precedent or example in the history of apostolic preaching.
It is objected, "That this doctrine is a very pleasing doctrine to the world." In reply to this objection, I would observe, 1st, That the first question to he settled is this; is it a true or false doctrine? The Bible must decide this, and to it we have appealed. Of what use can it be in determining whether a doctrine be true or false, to call it either pleasant or unpleasant? To admit the truth of what is here asserted, what could it prove against the doctrine; and to deny it, what could it prove either for or against it? Such kind of arguments are generally used by such as have nothing better to urge; yea, are too indifferent about what is truth, to give themselves the trouble to investigate the subject. To ascertain the truth of any doctrine, we have only, according to this objection, to find out if it is pleasant or unpleasant. If it is pleasant, it must be false, and if unpleasant, it must be true. This mode of decision will indeed save a great deal of time and labour in reading and investigation; for who would put themselves to the trouble of these, when a decision can be made by so short and easy a process?
2d, I might in my turn say, the opposite doctrine is a very harsh doctrine. Perhaps there is as much, if not more, force in this objection against it, than in the one against my views. If they must be false because they are pleasant, does it follow that the opposite must be true, because it is harsh? We should think it rather an argument against its truth. That the objector's doctrine is not a harsh doctrine he has got to prove. The very saying that my doctrine is pleasant, implies that he is sensible that his own is harsh. We presume many have thought it so, who have been afraid to speak freely their minds on the subject. Yea, we doubt if any man can seriously meditate on the doctrine of eternal misery, and can truly say that it is a pleasant doctrine. Influenced by religious prejudices, and overawed by public opinion, persons rather acquiesce in the doctrine, than feel convinced in their judgments, or satisfied in their minds about it. When they begin to reflect seriously on the eternity of hell torments, and compare it with the well known character of God, as a God of goodness, mercy, and truth, the mind is at a stand what conclusion to come to concerning it. They think the Bible teaches it, and therefore they must believe it, but with the character of God they are unable to reconcile it.
3d, The gospel of the grace of God is a very pleasing doctrine, and if the objection has any force against my views, it equally lies against it. It seems then that he has pleasing doctrines as well as the one I have been stating, against which he cannot make his objection to bear. But why is this the case, for if the pleasant nature of any doctrine proves it false, why is it that he believes the gospel of God to be the truth? It is certainly a very pleasing doctrine to hear that there is even a possibility that any of the human race will be saved. It is still more pleasing, that there
is a probability that a great number of them will be saved. And we are at a loss to know why it should not be still more pleasing, if it can be proved, that all the human race will be saved. But while the two first of these will be admitted as pleasant and this is no argument against their truth, yet the last is considered false because it is the most pleasant. Does the objector say, we know the two first are true but not the last. This is the very point at issue to be proved, and the proof must be drawn from some other source, showing the falsehood of my doctrine, than the pleasing nature of it.
4th, If the pleasant nature of the doctrine, be a solid objection against its truth, the fewer saved the better, to prove the doctrine false, and the more agreeable, I presume, to the objector. We think, we may go further, and say, that the eternal misery of the whole human race, which would be precisely the reverse of my doctrine, is most likely to be the true one, according to this objection. Its being so harsh or unpleasant, then, shows it to be true; and because it is so unpleasant this is the strongest evidence that it must be true. The fact is, there is no real argument in the case before us. A false mode of reasoning is adopted, and the world might end, before any thing conclusive could be made out relative to this subject.
5th, The objector seems to think that the doctrine is pleasing, and the force of his objection to it arises from thinking that all are to be saved without a salvation from sin. This is his mistake not mine. Should he say, this is the inference that many will draw from it, to go on in sin; I reply, I cannot help this, any more than the objector can, where persons draw inferences from his doctrine, to go on in the same course. Yea, I cannot help this, any more than an apostle could, when persons urged as an inference