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For it opposes the faith of the entire Christian world. The learned and the pious, ever since the ascension of Jesus, have found, plainly written in the Bible, the truth that all are bound to the judgment, that all who die in sin are exposed to punishment after death, and that this life is given to prepare for another.
On the other hand, a few unlettered men stand up, after the religion of Christ has been established for eighteen hundred years, and say that the Bible reveals no such doctrine as the learned and pious have found in it; nay, teach that our race have nothing to fear after death ; but that, reach the grave as they may, the evil and the good will have one resurrection, and one destiny beyond it.
Bring, then, to this subject those principles of common sense which you would apply to the charge of cowardice in Napoleon, or treachery in Washington, and you will be safe from the delusion of Universalism.
Such, then, were some of the difficulties in the way of defending Universalism. Its doctrines strike at the root of all Christian faith and piety. They are so near atheism and infidelity, that both of them can take refuge under their wing. The congregations which attend upon its ministry are irreligious, and wish so to remain.
Many preachers have little confidence in the system, and privately admit their inability to remove objections that are urged against their system. Their intercourse is distinguished for any thing, rather than good-will and brotherly love.
Few of the professors of Universalism are at ease, or confirmed in their faith. A preacher can more easily remove doubts from the minds of others than from his own; and he is frequently found using arguments in which he has very little confidence. He has no sanction with which to urge home truth upon the heart. And then, when he remembers the names, the number, the character, the standing of those who, in all ages, have rejected Universalism ; and the character, talents, and standing, of those who defend it, and their writings on the subject; and when he adds to all, the modern date of the system,
we have a mass of difficulties not easily overcome.
These difficulties have been thrown across my path; they have troubled and perplexed me. They have had the same effect upon others, and I offer this as another reason for renouncing Universalism.
I might swell the list, and add to the number almost ad infinitum. Universalism has no fixed principles of interpretation. Ten men will give ten different and contrary interpretations to one text, to remove a present difficulty. The advocates of it believe or reject future punishment, receive or discard the atonement, as the circumstances in which they are placed seem to require.
At times, these considerations have pressed upon me, as I have stood in my desk, and cast my eyes upon my congregation, and felt that all, in a great measure, were resting their immortal interests upon my preaching. When these doubts and difficulties have weighed upon me, I could not but tremble in view of the fact, that, if this life were one of probation, and through my instrumentality was wasted, and if these souls were ruined, and their sandy foundation were to fail in the day of trial, their loss would be great, and my portion at last must be with the deceivers and the deceived.
Allow me to ask, in conclusion, Can such a system as Universalism be of God? Is it not a delusion of the most appalling kind ? Does not he who trusts it injure his own soul ? Fly, then, all of you, from such delusion, so fatal, so deceptive. Let not Satan, the enemy of souls, secure you as a subject of his dark dominions. If he has in any measure got hold of you by means of a system of deception, turn to Jesus; “if God, peradventure, will give you repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” Fly, then, from error, lest you perish. Fly from sin to holiness, from death to life.
REASONS FOR RENOUNCING UNIVERSALISM, DRAWN
FROM THE THREATENINGS OF THE BIBLE.
2 COR. v. 11.
KNOWING, THEREFORE, THE TERROR OF THE LORD, WE PERSUADE
WHEN resolved to review the whole subject of the final destiny of mankind, I set myself down to a candid, critical, and prayerful examination of all that the Bible teaches on this momentous question. With the threatenings of the Bible I thought myself familiar. I knew the chapter and verse wherein each of those testimonies might be found, which are supposed to refute Universalism. I could recite them without the Bible. I also had an interpretation for each of them; and felt prepared to defend my sentiments against all objections drawn from the Word of God.
But now, as I looked at them, they assumed an aspect that they never before seemed to wear. There was a solemnity about them, which to my mind had never before rested upon them. I approached them, not with a design to explain them away; not to see how I could make them harmonize with Universalism. I had no wish to trifle with the Bible. I
DURST NOT DO IT.
In some measure I felt the responsibility of my position, and the danger of my hands being dyed in the blood of souls. I went to this work with a trembling spirit of supplication.
In reviewing the threatenings of the Bible, I did so as a Universalist. This book, I said to myself, sustains my faith. Nothing, therefore, will be found in the Bible which cannot be easily explained in harmony with Universalism. If this system be true, the Savior was its Author: he came to reveal the sal
ation of all men, to enforce it upon men. But the people to whom the Savior came and preached, were far from believing in this doctrine. Their belief in endless punishment is as well known as their belief in the existence of God. They declared, openly and constantly, that impenitent men were exposed to eternal death. This sentiment was as universal among the generation to which the Savior was sent, as their faith in a future life. No matter from what source they derived this opinion, the fact that they held it cannot be questioned by any student of the Bible; and is fully admitted in the writings of the Universalists. As a Universalist, I must regard this doctrine as an error, fraught with evils of an appalling nature, being at once dishonorable to God and injurious to man. Moreover, the Savior could do nothing towards inducing the Jews to receive Universalism, until the idea of endless death should be removed from their minds. As a teacher sent from God, he will speak as decidedly upon this great evil as Universalists now do. But when I examined the sacred writings, to see in