« AnteriorContinuar »
is most fearfully shown in the refusal of a friend. We cannot return this compliment, in referly act and of parental attention, because after ence to the doctrine of endless sin and misery; our brother had given up the ministry of Par- but must say,
“ It is too bad to be true!” It tialism and preached Universalism, his former outrages all our conceptions of the wisdom and friends came forth, of their own accord, to certi- goodness of God. lt darkens his universe with fy to the spotless integrity of his character, in the shadow of infinite evil. It exhibits a dereply to some injurious reports from that class feated Deity, and tells us of "lips ordained on who try to help their cause by slandering the hymns to dwell, corrupting to groans and blowman who opposes them. Read the following ing the fires of hell.” It gives us no hope that and see a specimen of the social discomforts the capacities of all souls for infinite progress, that so frequently make it a martyrdom to pro- will find means for expansion, but assures us fess Universalism. Here is the extract; the that millions of millions will sin and suffer on, writer speaks of the bereaved husband :
and on, and on, through interminable ages. We " It is sad to look in upon his family, and say of such an idea that it is too bad to be true! think how much is taken from them by the re- It is revolting to all those sympathies which moral of that sweet mother and true compan. must be kept active in order to do the work of ion. I never saw such a smile as would play Christian Zeal; and by making Evil a permaupon her features when she was engaged in nent condition of such a vast portion of immorconversation. It was not artificial-it was her tal beings, it contradicts the revelations of God Fery soul looking out upon you. The poor wo- in nature, where, from “ seeming evil, He is alman was probably hurried to her grave by the ways educing good.” It encourages all those coldness of some of her relatives. Her husband, low and contracted views of the Divine Governin his embarrassments, appealed to his sister for ment which have made God seem like man, help-for the loan of $100, but was refused, with transient affections and varying purposes. though she is worth $6000, and her husband It keeps the mind from expecting the noblest $50,000. Then her own orthodor father came things of God, and makes all his victories to be on from Maine, but did not call upon her! This like the conquests of the bloody warrior, resultcompletely overcame her. And these things ing in horrid ruins and awful desolation. It made her disease incurable, in the judgment of makes the gladness of eternity but as the beausome, and I am satisfied that her peace was de- ty of the waving harvests of a battle field from stroyed, if not her life, by the cruelty of kin- richness given to the earth by the blood of dred."
slaughtered thousands. Nay! it is worse than this. It requires us to imagine some victorious king having power to make his captives immor
tal in their miseries, and perpetuating their beTOO BAD TO BE TRUE.
ing only that they may suffer! Oh it is too bad The remark is not unfrequently made in ref
to be true. Does any one assert this to be a wrong erence to Universalism, that it is too good to be
statement of the common doctrine ? We answer true. It so answers all the deep yearnings of by quoting from Dr. Barnes : “ Those who have our best affections, and spreads out such a sub
done evil shall be raised up to be condemned, or lime result, that men are apt to consider it too
damned. This shall be the object of raising good for belief, and they fear to give credence to
them up; this the sole design.” Is not that too it, as when we think our wishes are betraying horrible for belief? Were a king, at a certain our judgment when we could credit some news
period of time, to ordain that all the criminals brought to us concerning a very desirable object,
in his kingdom should be placed in such circumand we say, “It is too much to hope for.” It
stances as would preclude all possibility of imwas so with the early disciples, when the intel
provement, and where they would be forced to ligence of the resurrection of Jesus was brought
sin on and on through the length of their existto them: “ They yet believed not for joy.” But
ence, would not a universal ery of horror arise their refusal to believe, only showed their want
against it, and Nero, with all his cruelties, seem of faith in what Christ had spoken, or their want
amiable in comparison ? And yet such is the of an understanding of his teachings. May it
representation wbich the doctrine of endless sin not be so with those who say to us, that Uni- and misery makes of God. It is too bad to be versalism is too much to hope for? it is too good
true. It gives us a Deity which we cannot love, if we would, and which we ought not to love, if
to be true!
we could. For no being should be reverenced against the Universalist's views of God's retrias a Deity, whose character it would not be safe butive agents, and we are told that it is essento imitate, and surely it is not safe in our fami- tial to godliness to nourish faith in endless pun. lies, or in society, to imitate a being who limits ishment,-punishment as a final condition, a his affections and fixes in an eternal state of sin permanent state,-punishment inflicted without the objects of his wrath when the limit of love the least design to promote the well being of! is passed. And yet the popular interpretations the subjects. All this is summed up in the of Christianity give us a Deity who raises mil- common assertion,—“Future punishment is not lions to iinmortality with “ the sole design” of remedial.” This is Revenge, and nothing else. making them miserable! It is too bad to be It is as though the surgeon on discovering that I true.
his patient had once wronged him grievously, We would now apply this argument to the should keep, while life lasted, his instruments of Principle involved in this doctrine; the Spirit it surgery turning in the wounds he should probe has inculcated; and the Misery it has occa- to heal ! Savage warriors turn their knife in the sioned.
death wound of their enemy, and that last deed And first, the doctrine of infinite wrath is too is deemed revengeful in the extreme. O, is it bad to be true, because it is founded on Revenge. not blasphemy to attribute such a passion to This fact is set forth very plainly by Baxter in God! to declare such a principle carried out in his noted work, “The Saint's Rest." I opened the divine administration! It is too bad to be the book one day, as I tarried at a house previ. true. ous to a lecture, and I read thus:-“3. The 2. We see this fact again in considering the torments of the damned must be extreme, be- Spirit which this doctrine has inculcated. How cause they are the effects of divine vengeance. forcibly is this set forth by a quotation made by Wrath is terrible, but revenge is implacable.” | Tytler in his “ Universal History." " It was a Here the doctrine is plain that endless misery is doctrine of Mary's, as Bishop Burnet informs us, founded on revenge. The reason here given that as the souls of heretics are afterwards to be why the torments of the damned must be ex- eternally burning in hell, there could be noihing treme, is that revenge is implacable--no hope
more proper than to imitate the divine ren. can be entertained that it will ever be satisfied;
geance by burning them on earth. In the course it is more cruel than wrath, and says, in the of Bloody Mary's reign, it is computed that about language of Young :
eight hundred persons were burnt alive in En. “ Tho' much is paid, yet still it owes me much ;
gland. Yet this monster of a woman died in And I will not abate a single groan.”
peace; with the consideration, no doubt, of har.
ing merited eternal happiness as a reward of This idea of God is essential to the support of
that zeal she had shown in support of the true the popular doctrine. That doctrine will be religion.” This was the same spirit that made gone just as soon as a nobler and worthier view the old warrior Bishop apologize for wielding of the Divine character obtains, and men cease
of death so destructively, by saying to attribute as honorable to God what is mean in answer to the appeal that “Christians are and disgraceful in man.
required to love their enemies,” “Yes, but not That our position may be seen to be the same the Lord's enemies," and down went the bloody as eminent minds in the "orthodox” church have instrument of war upon defenceless heads! And taken, we quote from two, and certainly there is not this spirit abroad now? Do not professed is great pertinency in their remarks, as the prin- Christians continually refer to the severest deal. ciple involved is the same whether punishment ings of God in the Old Testament, to vindicate be human or divine :
their refusal to make punishments remedial, and “Punishment (says Dr. Paley) is two-fold, to do away with the relics of barbarism ? Man amendment and example, and all species of pain has ever been prone to imitate God in the awful which does not contemplate the true ends of retributive aspects of his government, rather punishment, is so much revenge.” “All pain than in the milder dealings with humanity; inflicted over and above these two purposes of
that doctrine is too bad to be true which enpunishment, (says the eminent Robert Hall) is courages all this, and keeps back the progress a needless waste of suffering, condemned alike of true Christian civilization. by reason and Christianity.”
3. But there is yet another view to be taken All around us we hear loud declamation of it, and that is the Misery which it has occa
tality a blessing to every soul, for grace must abound beyond sin, else man were as infinite as God.
It might be useful for some Christians to remember a remark of Addison where he speaks of Plutarch who made a discourse to show that the atheist, who denies a God, does him less dishonor than a man who owns his being, but at the same time, believes him to be cruel, hard to please, and terrible to human nature. my own part,” says be, “I would rather it should be said of me, that there was never any such man as Plutarch, than that Plutarch was ill-natured, capricious, or inhuman.”
That surely is too bad to be true which is worse than the denial of the Divine Existence!
sioned in the souls of many who have believed it too sincerely. Our asylums for the insane tell the sad story of what wrecks of mind it has caused, and such are the most hopeless of all cases of crazed braids. Human hearts all around us bleed in anguish because of that dread of eternity which it inspires, and this too, not in the dissolute and profane, but in those who live nearest to the altar and feel most for their own souls and the souls of their race. They sometimes confess how life is made “a cruel bitter" by this belief; and they tell us that they do not wonder that the dreadful fear it creates “ · has made some mad and many melancholy.” Oh, indeed, its presence in the soul reminds us of the Savior's comparison of " the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.” The Roman vulture with bloody beak, taking the place of the meek and lovely dove.
An estimable and influential minister of the "orthodox” church, was asked in private, if he did not secretly indulge a belief in the doctrine of the final restoration of all souls, and with great earnestness and energy he answered, "If I believed it, I have too niuch humanity to withhold it from my people.” What an eloquent compliment to Universalism! What an acknowledgement of its power to impart happiness! He could not but liken it, on the supposition of its truth, to some great discovery which it would be inhumanity to withhold from the world. The world does indeed demand it. The sios, the sorrows, the bereavements which oppress and bewilder, make us cry out for a hope that shall show an end of moral evil, a glorious fulfillment of the great promise in Eden that sin shall be crushed, its powers destroyed, and tears and groaps give place to smiles and praises.
One reason why the real badness of the popular doctrine is not more seen, is because the contrast of Universal and Partial Holiness, as the permanent result or condition of man, is not enough considered. Dr. Beecher once said that endless punishment was just, because it would "tread upon the heels of endless transgression.” Hence the fixed and final condition of “the damned” is one of perpetual sin, and this is what gives the chief horror to the common doctrine. Souls are to be so circumstanced that they must sin, and for yielding to this necessity they must be continually punished ! Now, in opposition to this, we say, that God made man to reflect himself, and we do not believe that He will ever lose sight of this object, but will make immor
VOL. XX. 19
On! haste to the window, fair Antoinette said, In the quickness of thought to the window I
sped ; There a vision of beauty burst full on my sight, It had sprung into life in the darkness of night.
Like the work of enchantment most truly it
seemed, As up thro' the mist of the morning it gleamed ; Bright Sol lent his rays to enliven the scene, And there stood a palace quite fit for a queen.
The trees were all clothed in a gorgeous array,
For the frost-king had there his night-revelry
kept ; Till surprised by the sun to his cavern he crept, But forgot in his haste to bear off to his den, The riches he'd brought to the dwellings of men.
I looked on enchanted-nor ventured to speak ; Lest the sound of my voice the sweet rapture
might break, Which thrill'd through my bosom and filled my
whole soul With thoughts which came gushing too free to
The physician's prophecy as to little Willie, did not prove true, for he suffered for weeks, under the most afflicting form of typhus fever. Lizzie left her school to attend to him, and Miss Green came to take her place. I shall never forget how Cora Lee pouted and said she “ wouldn't go to the new school-marm," and when told that she must go, she revenged herself by saying, “I wont love her, as I do Lizzie Brown-any way I wont.”
Before Willie recovered, James was taken down with the same disease; and Mr. Brown, too poor to hire aid, gathered his harvest in alone. Lizzie had arranged Willie's crib pear the bed of James; and as much of her time as she could spare from the kitchen, was spent with them. At noon, or towards evening, her father would come in from his work, and sit with the sick boy, while she arranged his food; and then he would go back and wait upon them, till Lizzie could make a little gruel, or wash the dishes, or perform some other necessary labor. Mrs. Brown, when her children were not immediately dangerous, smoked' and visited, undisturbed by their feverish cheeks, their wasted frames, or their feeble moans. Occasionally there was an offer of help from some one-for, thank heaven, earth owns its good as well as its evil spiritsand this lightened Lizzie's burdens a little. Kind-hearted, generous Dr. Gray and his amiable wife, were often ready to assist them; and dignified Judge Summers and his aristocraticlooking lady, often brought some nicety for the sick. As the brothers grew better, Lizzie grew worse; she had striven to keep up, and tried to rally her failing strength; for she saw no place of rest for her. If she became ill, what would the others do ? Sick and discouraged, they would give up in despair. And then she feared a long, distressing illness, of months--perhaps years. Every energy had been so long on the rack, that she feared it would require a long time to restore her; and it was her greatest fear that she could not bear the trial patiently and cheerfully. But the trial came at last weeks of terrible fever, followed by diseased lungs and the complete prostration of the nervous system.
One day, after Lizzie had become very weak, James, who was somewhat better, plead earnest
ly for some cold water. Willie could not go it, and their father was busy in the field. Lizzie thought it would not injure him, and holding on to the ceiling, she got down stairs, and then crept to the spring; as she bent over it, her pale, wo-begone face, startled her, and she murmured_" Paler than ever! well, let the flesh fail, the spirit is stronger to-day than before it was tried.” Any other than Lizzie Brown would have asked for the dust-pillow and the grasscovering; but she, sweet, saint-like creature, she was happy that she was yet able to do that little for those she loved. As she gave her brother a drink, he noticed her pale face and fluttering breath, and asked—“Oh! Lizzie, what do we live for ?"
“Because God has thought best that we should be here; he has placed us like sentinels at our post, and it is our duty to watch faithfully and cheerfully, till he gives us a pleasanter labor."
Faithfully and cheerfully-how can I be even patient, Lizzie-not to mention the word cheerful or contented ? Sick and needy, disgraced by poverty, and compelled to endure trials far worse; requiring almost every comfort of life, yet unable to procure them; with a desire for knowledge, yet deprived of an opportunity to gain it; without a moment to listen to the murmur of the rivulet, or the sighing of the wind—to gaze upon the beauty of the earth or sky--with a love for these, I am bound, soul and body, to a life of complete drudgery. Don't talk to me of patience-I cannot, I will not be patient.”
“Well, James,” replied Lizzie, “take things as you choose ; go on murmuring and complaining, if so you feel happier- but I fear this is the rock upon
which you are to wreck your bark of life. This spirit of discontent, only renders you more sensitive to your trials, and the more unfits you for the task you are to perform. If you would be only a little more quiet, have a little more confidence in your heavenly Father, your burdens would be much lighter, and what now look like mountains to your vision, would then seem like inole-hills. “For he who is steadily resolved against all uncertainties, is never disturbed by a variety of them.'”
“ You talk as though we were all made alike; because you can bear every thing, you think I can. It is no virtue for you to keep cool, for you can do it without an effort; but that is no sign I can."
"I did not intend to talk in that manner, for I
very well know, that God has constituied us
all differently. But you are mistaken about my and better than we. If we are to suffer on, it forbearance; it is only by great and continued will be nothing new. It is all folly, this sitetiort that I can take things so quietly; only by ting down, gloomy and sorrowful, crying out in seeming happy, and patient, and contented, one's despair, that one's grief is greater than when I have been otherwise, that I have really other hearts have borne. Look at what Regucome to be so. Your energies-your capability lus suffered, and Aristides bore ; at the trials of of self-government-all lie, unfolded, undevel. Socrates, and the worse than poverty or death oped within you.
You know not what you of Seneca. Look at the glorious host of marmay attain; you know not, and never can you tyrs--the delicate women and heroic men, old know, until you make the effort to gather it, England drowned and burned and executed—at how much happiness lies scattered at your feet. the sufferings of the Pilgrim Fathers, and the You do not understand now, but I hope you will trials of the American revolution ; and the fearlearn ere long, that you may quite as easily ful trials, that in almost every form, fell upon journey on your way to heaven, with your heart
the Jesuitical priests scattered throughout the filled with thanksgiving and prayer, as with wilderness of the new world, teaching what they dissatisfaction and gloom.”
sincerely believed to be God's truth to the sav" But, Lizzie, would you inculcate a spirit of
ages. These men--these women-were huindolence and ease? I verily believe you would
man; no better prepared by nature-no better have me satisfied with my condition, and not qualified by education-receiving no higher supmake an effort to change it; content to remain port from the Eternal Father, perhaps, than are the clod I am-happy in my servitude, and con
It is because we are willing to be weak, tent to wear my chains.”
that we are not so strong; because we shrink “You mistake me-I would only have you, back without coming boldly and courageously to as St. Paul had learned to be-in whatsoever trial, that our burdens are greater than we can state, content.' Providence has given you suf- bear. ficient for the present, and when you require I realize, as well as yourself, the truth, that more, he will bestow it. He has set your path
you never had but little opportunity to attend way, and placed your feet within it; and can
school; and for that reason, I would have you you, by choice or effort, turn your course ? Does
make the most of it. Which is the wiser--to your murmuring or complaining render the trial
mourn because you cannot do as you like, or any lighter, or change your situation in the
make the most of doing as you can ? You have least? It is true, that we are disgraced by pov- hitherto been quite studious, and with your win: erty, as far as that can disgrace one; but re
ter schooling, and the husbanding of your leis. member, my brother, that our Master was far
ure moments, you probably have more informapoorer than we. He, whose truths are to re
tion, and more scientific knowledge at sixteen, deem a world, had not where to lay his head.
than many boys who have their money and leis. If you would change your situation, and gather
ure, possess at twenty. While Burns drove his around you more that can render life agreeable, plough, he wove his song; and while you labor revive your departing courage-put on the ar. with your hands, you need not neglect your mor of invincible patience and perseverance, and mind. As you go from your book to your toil, strive to accomplish what you desire. If you you have time to ponder upon every idea you succeed, thank God that he has made you an have gathered; you can consider the thousand agent to better your condition : if you fail, thank theories, and doctrines, and rules of men, that him just as earnestly that he has overruled your
you may know whether they are natural and efforts, by a wiser will of his own; and left you consistent, and consequently correct. You are in a situation the best for yourself, and the most abroad, with Nature all before you, waiting for consistent with his power and goodness. Feel. your investigation and research; the earth being meanwhile, that, “had it been otherwise, neath you, with its geological and botanical you should have been content; but as it is, God beauties; the heavens above, with their clusters has ordered better.' For believe me, whatever of stars; the winds and the birds make music God allows to happen, bappens always for the for your ear; the waters flow, and fall, and glis. best. It is true, that poverty has not been our ten, for your eye; you may not become very greatest grief; that, trying and fearful as it is, learned in the science of the schools, but you grows darker and deeper with years; and it may may have a good share of even this; and you be ever thus. God only knows, but he is wiser may become what is far better--an original