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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The very favorable reception which this work has found among the friends of Zion, of various denominations, and the rapid sale of the first edition, has induced the publisher to issue another edition. With the exception of a few verbal corrections and the addition of a short Appendix, the present is simply a reprint of the first edition. In these letters I have taken ultraUniversalism as it is, and not as a determined devotee of the system would define his position when pressed with its absurdities. Universalism is here exhibited as it is believed and preached by its popular advocates, and defined and defended by its standard authors. These authors are ultra-Universalists. They believe in, they preach no retribution in the world to come. Such a work, it is believed, is much needed. Universalists are very zealous in circulating their books and papers. It is said they have more controversial books now in circulation, in New England, than all other denominations. These books contain specious and outrageous perversions of the word of God. This little volume contains a sovereign antidote for them all. fully and prayerfully read by the inquiring mind, cannot honestly be deceived.
Fall River, Aug, 14, 1842.
Let it be careand that mind
LETTERS TO A UNIVERSALIST.
My Dear Sir :
I deeply regret to learn by yours of have embraced Universalism. I know what that ism is. I was once somewhat ensnared in its dreadful delusion, and can,' speak what I know, and testify what I have seen" concerning it. I have a multitude of reasons why I cannot be a Universalist; reasons which to my mind are invincible, some of which I will endeavor to spread before you. May I not hope that you will give them à careful reading, and ponder well your footsteps before you give yourself up to the delusive hope that you must go to heaven because there is no hell? I cannot adopt your views,
1. Because man is manifestly a moral agent, and therefore an accountable creature. The advocates of Modern Universalism, understanding that moral agency involves moral accountability, have endeavored to destroy all sense of accountability by denying the moral agency of man. They, like the old fashioned Anti nomians, are generally fatalists. They contend that man has no power to resist the divine will that God is the author of all things, and among these all things SIN holds a place. Now what is moral agency? It is the power of moral action, the power to deliberate in view of motivesto reason to choose and to act. That man has such an agency is evident, (1) from the fact that God everywhere addresses him as a moral agent, gives him a moral law, blames him for its violation, commends him for obedience, promises and threatens him, rewards and punishes him. The whole of divine.
* See Appendix.
revelation, from Genesis to Revelation, every book, chapter and verse bear testimony to the moral agency of man. Were he a mere creature of necessity, a machine propelled along by the irresistible impulses of fate, there would be as much propriety in giving a moral law to a steam-engine as to man. Such an incongruity can nowhere be found in the ways and means' of a wise and benevolent Creator. The moral agency of man is one of that kind of truths, which, like that of the Divine existence, is everywhere taken for granted. And this is better evidence than one hundred individual texts, which might affirm it in so many words. For in such a case the sense might depend upon the genuineness of the texts and meaning of certain words employed; but now the sentiment is in more than ten thousand texts taken for granted, as something that neither men nor devils can successfully call in question. (2.) It is further manifest that man is a moral agent, from the fact that mankind, their religious creeds out of sight-universally regard each other as moral agents. They establish governments, forin laws, form contracts, administer rewards and punishments, and regard each other as praiseworthy or blameworthy. But this would be a wretched anomaly if man were a mere automaton. (3.) The moral agency of man may be argued from universal consciousness. Every man has the witness in himself. Every man who has not become a fit subject for the insane hospital, knows that he is a moral agent-that he has the power of deliberation and volition, and that he is blameworthy and praiseworthy. Hence man has a CONSCIENCE; but if he were a machine he would have no more conscience than the town clock. (4.) But I have one more reason for believing in the moral agency of man, which I will name. It is this. The denial of this doctrine involves horrid blasphemy against God. If man is not a moral agent, then God is the direct author of all his acts, and as these acts are often sinful, God is the author of sin-all the sin in all worlds. And this inference is not only natural and unavoidable, but it is acknowledged and believed very generally among modern Universalists. This doctrine makes God the only sin
ner in the Universe. As sin is the violation of the law, and as God is the Supreme Lawgiver, if he is the author of sin, he breaks his own law, millions of times every day, and is therefore the greatest-the only sinner in the universe -an infinite rebel against his own holy throne !!! The very thought is HORRID BLASPHEMY, such blasphemy as Satan himself would not dare to utter. And what renders this blasphemy still more supremely blasphemous, is that Universalism makes God not only the author of all sin, but it represents him as immediately and rigidly punishing · the poor, unfortunate creatures whom his own irresistible hand has plunged into sin. This makes God the greatest tyrant in the universe! To plunge a poor, ignorant, powerless creature into a pit, and then punish him for the fall, is a species of tyranny which would disgrace the character of Nero himself. And is this the character of your Father in heaven? Perish the thought! Such a sentiment is blasphemy in a superlative degree; and its utterance, though it be in silver tones, sends a thrill of horror to the heart of him who loves God and is jealous of his honor.
2. My second reason for not being able to embrace your system is, it is a cruel system. You believe, you say, that
every one enjoys and suffers in this world according to their characters.' The unavoidable inference is every one's character is according to his or her sufferings; those therefore who are the greatest sufferers are the most guilty before God. Now to illustrate the cruelty of the system. Take the case of the pious, amiable wife of the besotted drunkard. She suffers with and for her husband; and while he is in his midnight revels at the drunkery or card-table, enjoying his Bacchanalian mirth, she is heart-broken at home with her worse than fatherless children, suffering with neglect and want. He is benumbed and insensible. She is alive to her deplorable condition, and her tender heart bleeds at a thousand pores. She evidently suffers the more of the two; and Universalism teaches her that this is a world of equitable retribution, that all suffer here according to their character, and as she suffers the more, she is the more guilty! Cruel doctrine to preach to those who
suffer from misfortune, for righteousness' sake, or for the crimes of others.
Universalism knows nothing of suffering for righteousness's sake, nothing of the present afflictions of the righteous being rewarded in heaven working out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! nothing of our suffering with Christ, and therefore reigning with him in glory. It knows of no moral connection between this world and the world to come. All things must be equalized and adjusted, therefore, in this world, or they must forever go unequalized and unadjusted. This doctrine is not only unjust and cruel because it makes the measure of present guilt to depend upon the measure of present suf fering, but because it not unfrequently makes the road of guilt and infamy the shortest cut' to glory, while it leaves the righteous to toil on and suffer in this world, in a Universalist hell!
Thus drunkards and debauchees, wicked and bloodthirsty men,' hardly live out half their days;' and the unavoidable inference is, that through rum and debauchery, blood and outrage, they take the shortest road to heaven, while the righteous are left to take the circuitous route of bearing the cross, denying themselves, and following their Master through many trials and temptations, till death, by the slow process of nature, removes them to their glorious Or as Peck forcibly expresses it ;