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2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
BRIEF MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
HOSEA BALLOU was born in the town of Richmond, N. H., April 30, 1771. The circumstances which induced his youthful connexion with the Calvinistic church of which his father was pastor, and his subsequent advances in religious knowledge, are stated in the following auto-biographical sketch:
"As to the doctrine of Calvinism, in which my honoured father was a believer, and which doctrine he preached until nearly the end of his public labours, my acquaintance with its various tenets, while quite a youth, was by no means very limited. Owing to the pious endeavours of a parent, whose affections for his children rendered him extremely anxious for their spiritual welfare, and to an early desire of my own to understand the doctrine of Christianity correctly, I was well acquainted with the most common arguments which were used in support of predestination, election, reprobation, the fall of man, the penal sufferings of Christ for the elect, the justice of reprobation, and many other particulars, such as regard the moral agency of man and his inability to regenerate himself, the sovereignty and irresistibility of regenerating grace, &c. &c.
When I was in my nineteenth year, there was what was termed a reformation in the vicinity where I lived, and many of my young friends and acquaintances professed religion and joined the Baptist church, of which my father was pastor. At this time I became more specially attentive to the subject of religion, and thought it my duty to become a professor, and to join the church, which I did, in the sincerity of my heart, in the month of January, 1789. From that period to the present I have been a constant student of the science of divinity. But owing to the strongly rooted prejudices which had so early taken possession of my mind, and to circumstances which necessarily limited my means, in youth, of acquiring know、 ledge, my progress has been but small.
At the time I joined the Baptist church, there were in Rich mond and Warwick, a few individuals, who called themselves Uni versalists, and who occasionally heard Br. Caleb Rich hold forth that doctrine. There was also an elderly gentleman by the name of Ballou, a distant relation of my father, who also occasionally preached the same doctrine. These individuals frequently attended the Baptist meetings, and being of my acquaintance, we often conversed on the question, whether all mankind would alike be made partakers of the salvation of God. In those conversations I frequently found that my Calvinistic tenets could be managed either to result in Universal Salvation, or to compel me to acknowledge the partiality of the divine favour. This gave me no small inquietude of mind; as I was always unable to derive satisfaction from sentiments which I could not defend. That which more than any thing else contributed to turn my thoughts seriously towards the belief of Universal Salvation, was the ardent desires, with which I found myself exercised, that sinners might be brought to repentance and salvation. I found it utterly impossible to bring the feelings of my heart to conform to the doctrine of eternal reprobation; and I was compelled to allow, either that such feelings were sinful, or that my heavenly Father, in giving them to me, had imparted an evidence in favour of the salvation of all men, the force of which I found no means to resist. As yet I was, like young converts in general, very little acquainted with the Scriptures. But the trials which I was then undergoing led me to examine the written word, to satisfy myself on the great question which had such weight on my mind. On reading the Bible, there would now and then, here and there, a passage appear to favour the doctrine of universal, and impartial grace. But all the prejudices of my early education, in those things, were arrayed against my making any advances. But in the spring following my union with the Baptist church, I left Richmond, my native place, and went with my brother Stephen, next older to myself, who joined the church a short time after me, to Hartford, in N. Y. then called Westfield, where we spent the summer. In this town there was a Baptist church and congregation, enjoying the pastoral labours of Elder Brown, on whose ministry we attended. My brother was apprehensive that my mind was inclined to Universalism; and told me that he had a desire that I should converse with Elder Brown on the subject, by which means he hoped I should become fully convinced that the doctrine was false, and be more settled in the belief in which I had made profession. It must be here understood that I was, by no means, at that time settled in my faith. There was, at
my brother's request, a conference appointed, after public service, on the Sabbath, for Elder Brown to convince me that I ought to give no heed to the doctrine which laboured in my mind. Accordingly we met. The Elder requested me to turn to some passage of scripture which appeared to me favourable to Universalism; promising to ally preach do his endeavours to show me the error of applying it in favour of ded the Ba such a doctrine. I well remember the apparent confidence which this man manifested when he took his seat, and called on me to find partakers some scripture, that in the least favoured so dangerous an error. ly found the opened to the 5th chapter of Romans. I had read this chapter with in Univers much attention, and was tolerably acquainted with its several parts of the divis and their relation to each other. I directed him to the 18th verse; I was alway and told him that I was unable to understand the passage, if it agreed with the doctrine of the eternal reprobation of any of the human could not family. He immediately began, in his way, to speak very loudly, ed to turn and nothing to the subject. When he would stop, I had only to inform him that what he had offered had no relation to the text I had produced; and by showing him that the same all men who were under condemnation in the first member of the text, were under justification in the last, evidently confused his mind and immediatether, in gly turned it sour. He was no longer able to converse, with a right he salvation spirit, and prudence dictated a discontinuance, My brother now ist. As yet grew more uneasy, and told me that he was sorry I had conversed inted with with Elder Brown. "For," said he, "as he could by no means answer you, and as he manifested anger, you will think you had the
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thoughts of Universalism." You cannot suppose that I now use the very words which were used in conversation so long ago; I am carethe prejudic ful only to give you the subject. As to this Elder Brown, I am far ed against from wishing to represent him in an unfavourable light. I believe by union w he was a worthy man. But it is a fact, that he was extremely ignorant of the subject, having had, as I presume, no acquaintance with the views of Universalists, or with their manner of arguing.
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lled West I continued my researches with no small solicitude; and by reading
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was a Bat the Scriptures, and by conversing with those who opposed the docours of Etrine, before I returned the next fall, to Richmond, my mind was was apprel quite settled in the consoling belief that God will finally have merey on all men. On my return I found that my brother, David Ballou, whose age is some over twelve years advanced of mine, had not only openly professed Universal Salvation, but had commenced preaching the doctrine. I spent most of my time with him until the fall before derstood th I was twenty-one, when I began to speak in public, believing and
fully convinc the belief