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It is true there are different peculiarities of faith, modes and forms of worship, &c. in each of those systems; and many, especially of the partial system, are very fond of considering those small differences things of essential consequence; and therefore cannot cordially worship together, or hold fellowship with each other, on that account. And I would not presume to say but that those who make this difference feel conscientious in so doing. I chuse therefore to endeavour to convince them of the impropriety of nonfellowship in consequence of this difference, rather than to condemn them for it.
Were I a believer in the partial system, I think I should endeavor to worship where it was most convenient in that system; whether among Calvinists, Hopkinsians, Epicopalians, Baptists, Methodists, or any other people believing in a limited salvation : and if two or more of those sects were convenient, I would worship where I could be the best edified.
The propriety of this will appear upon one moment's reflection. The consequences of the differences between those sectarians must be infinite, or else there is no essential difference. For if one sect may be saved as well as another, and some of all sects are saved, as is generally believed, then the want. of salvation must be imputed to some other cause than their being of such a particular sect; therefore there is no essential difference; but if those of one sect are saved, and those of another are not, because they are not of that sect, then there is an infinite differBut who can discover an infinite difference between the sects? Surely none! Why then should there be an infinite difference in their consequences? And if there be not an infinite difference, according to that system, there is no difference at all; because the consequence, (according to that system) will be either eternal salvation! or endless damnation! O is it possible that such a widely different consequence should depend on such a minutely different cause? If not, I shall be justified in saying, there is no essential difference in those denominations.
Many of the above observations will apply with equal propriety to the Universalists. According to this system, there is not an essential difference in the consequence of the different opinions of any denomination whatsoever; because all are finally to be brought to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. Hence Universalists, above all others, ought to harmonize together.
Again. Universalists should learn of Jesus, to have compassion on the ignorant and those who are out of the way;" and not be disposed to cast off any one on account of difference
in sentiment; but be ready at all times to walk with them so far as they are disposed to walk with us, though not to support or propagate error, but to build them up in the truth.
We ought to learn to distinguish between men and their sentiments. Men may be very honest, and yet very erroneous; and as honest men, they are entitled to respect, while their sentiments may be considered as tending to very evil consequences.
As it respects sentiments, in point of doctrine, I conceive that there are but two kind of ministers; which are, the ministers of Christ, and the ministers of antichrist. The ministers of antichrist are all those who preach, instead of the true Christ, something in opposition to, or that which falls short of, his true character. And if the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” be the true Christ, any thing that falls short of this, is so far opposed to Christ; that is, anti-christ.
And when any man is convinced that a minister is not a minister of Christ, but of antichrist, and that his preaching, however sincere he may conceive him to be, has a tendency to build up antichrist's kingdom, I query whether it can be any longer his duty to uphold such a meeting, or the minister, by his support: or whether it would be his duty to attend such a meeting, unless it be to point out to others the inconsistency and absurdity of the doctrine.
To this I can apply the golden rule; it is recommending to do to others as we would wish to be done by ; and I do not wish to have a man do any thing towards supporting the doctrine of Universal Salvation until he is persuaded that it may be true. I believe the doctrine would make greater progress without this kind of support than with it. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Therefore, let us open our doors for any one to hear, free from expence, until he is so far convinced of the truth of the doctrine as to feel interested in its support. But I never wish to be instrumental in gaining a single proselyte, unless I can gain him understandingly, so that he will not abuse the doctrine by malpractice. And on the other hand, I do not think it is the duty of Universalists to do any thing, either directly or indirectly, to support the doctrine of endless misery! "For what concord hath Christ with Belial?-And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God."
Perhaps, sir, you may think that I do the doctrine of the partialists injustice, by calling it the doctrine of endless misery! But
how can I give it a better name, when this item embraces the most prominant features of their system, it being according to that system, the destiny of the far greater part of mankind: and even the heaven which they paint out, after all their plausibility of argument, to me, is at best but a miserable heaven! And the difference between their heaven and hell is so little, that could it be submitted to a rational being, I should suppose that he would prefer nonexistence to either of them!
The glory of such a heaven all vanishes, when we connect with it the soul-chilling idea of the knowledge of never-ceasing torment! And to enter there, with all the happiness that I could possibly conceive of enjoying, while possessed of the knowledge that millions of my fellow-creatures, who, like myself, were altogether dependent on God for existence, were nevertheless in endless torment, without the possibility of obtaining even a hope of relief, to me, with my present sensibility, would be such positive misery that I cannot even think of enduring it for a moment without the utmost horror!
Therefore, sir, you cannot think it strange that I am opposed to this doctrine. I am opposed to it in every shape or form in which it may appear. I believe it to be not of God (unless it be the God of this world) and therefore it must sooner or later fall to the ground. And I cannot think it would have stood so long as it has, were not pride and popularity enlisted in its favour. I make no doubt, however, notwithstanding all I have said, that many of the worshipers of antichrist are sincere and honest in their intentions, and really suppose that they are building up the cause of Christ. Such ones are rather to be pitied than blamed. And perhaps it would not be too great a stretch of charity to suppose that the worshipers of Baal, or Molock, were sincere, as well as those who are worshiping the same character under the sacred name of Deity: had they not been sincere they never could have cut themselves with lancets, or sacraficed their dearest objects, by causing their children to pass through the fire, to appease the wrath of their God!
Let us therefore, my brother, clothe ourselves with the whole armour of God, taking the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit, (weapons that are not carnal, but mighty through God.to the pulling down of strong holds) and go forth, from conquering unto conquor, until the sin destroying weapons of truth and love shall have sent into oblivion every thing that opposeth the Lamb' of God which taketh the sin of the world.
Any remarks on this communication will be gratefully received and meet with an early attention.
With sentiments of esteem,
REV. P. H. July 20, 1809. N. B. Mr. H. at first, thought he should make some remarks on the foregoing communication, but on the whole he found it not expedient.
REMARKS ON CALVINISM.
As extraordinary exertions appear to be making, and are made, to revive in this country the peculiar doctrine of John Calvin, who was born at Nogen, in Picardy, in the year 1509, and was made profesor of divinity at Geneva, in the year 1536, which, doctrine, in our opinion, is both derogatory to the character of God, and destructive to the happiness of man, it will not be improper to examine it; in doing which, it will be necessary to enquire into its fundamental principles and compare them with the standard of divine truth.
And in the first place, it is necessary that we should know what the doctrine is, for nothing can be more improper than to denounce a doctrine as erroneous before it is understood.
"The principal tenets of the Calvinists,” (as stated in Adams' view of Religion) are comprehended in five articles.
1. "That God has chosen a certain number in Christ, unto everlasting glory, before the foundation of the world according to his immutable purpose, and of his free grace and love, without the least foresight of faith, good works, or any conditions performed by the creature: and that the rest of mankind he was pleased to pass by, and ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sins, to the praise of his vindictive justice.
2. "That Jesus Christ, by his death and sufferings, made an atonement for the sins of the elect only.
3. "That mankind are totally depraved, in consequence of the fall; and by virtue of Adam's being their public head, the guilt of his sin was imputed, and a corrupt nature conveyed to all his posterity, from which proceed all actual transgression; And that
by sin we are made subject to death, and all miseries, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
4. That all, whom God had predestinated unto life, he is pleased, in his appointed time, effectually to call by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.
5. "That those whom God has effectually called and sanctified by his Sprit, shall never finally fall from a state of grace."
But the fundamental principles of Calvinism, which we shall now examine, can be more briefly stated from the Westminister Assembly's Shorter Catechism, which, by every possible exertion, is taught to children, as containing the doctrine of the Bible, and to which, it is presumed, no Calvinist will object.
The two essential points, which are here particularly noticed, are expressed in the following words.
1. " All mankind by the fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever,
2. "God, having out of his mere good pleasure from all eternity elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of this state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer."
According to this doctrine, it is certain that the elect will all be saved; not one of them can possibly be lost; but not an individual who was not thus elected will ever be saved; for the nonelect are destined, for a different purpose, to a different end; whose end will be wretched beyond all description-consigned over to irremediable wo and misery!
This is purely Calvinistic ground, which, to be sure, no one is to be impeached for taking, if he conscientiously believes it to be correct; yet, it is concluded, all will admit, that, to say the least of it, this ground is a disputable point; and therefore others may as conscientiously and sincerely take different ground. Here then the Calvinist and the Universalist are at issue; and it is hoped that by just argument, cool and dispassionate reasoning, assisted by the aid of divine testimony, the truth may be firmly established in the understanding.
It is too common for mankind to form and endeavor to establish themselves in a religious creed from the vain traditions of men, and then bring the scriptures of divine truth to bend to the dogmas of human authority. Thus when the doctrine of Calvinism has only gained an assendency over the understanding, it is then very easy to understand every text of scripture relative