« FöregåendeFortsätt »
CONTAINING REASONS FOR NOT EMBRACING THE
BY REV. JOEL HAWES.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
CANDIDATE FOR THE MINISTRY.
BY RUSSEL CANFIELD.
The following Review and Letters, originally appeared in the Religious Inquirer, under the signatures which they now bear. As readers of that paper, and others, have thought them worthy of preservation in a more permanent and concentrated form, the writer has been induced to present them to the public in the present dress. They are sent out with the best wishes of the publisher, that their usefulness may equal the frequently expressed belief of his friends, and the friends of free inquiry. He only asks that the reader will examine the facts and arguments by which bis principles are sustained, with a determination to receive the truth in the love of it. As to the various statements of facts, from which he has occasionally drawn arguments-the reader will judge for himself. What. ever be the merits or demerits of the composition, and the conduct of the argument, they are exclusively his, and he alone is amenable. If he has erred in his deductions, the error is that of the judgment-not of the heart.
TO THE PUBLIC. The author of the following pages is not vain enough to sup: pose that the events of his life are sufficiently important to attract great public attention. He is fully sensible of the difficulties under which a self-biographer labours, and knows that in this species of writing few have attained to mediocrity. But the situation in which he is placed as a polemical writer, under all the disadvantages of circumscribed time, limited opportunities, and an unpopular cause, embolden him to say, that the narrative he is about to give, is both proper and expected. Being reared in the very focus of Calvinism-connected by the ties of consanguinity and other relationship, with a number of the clergy, and measurably dependant on the orthodox for the ineans of subsistence, what could induce him to leave the religion of his fathers, and to embrace a doctine which is a sure passport of ridicule and contempt? He had no antipathies to gratify- -no family dissentions to alienate his affections and no church quarrels to cause a re-action. No subtle casuist employed the arts of sopbistry to entangle him, por was he led to embrace his present principles, but by the gradual progress of light shining on the mind from the pages of revelation.
Until the year 1801, I had never heard a universalian preacher, nor read a book of that description, the Bible only except. ed. In the summer of that year, I heard Mr. Glover, of Newtown, Conn. and from that time thought the truth of the doctripe at least possible. But the collisions of different sects, the jarring opinions of those who laid equal claims to orthodoxy, and the impressions which were deeply engraven on my mind in boyhood, led finally to doubt the authenticity of the scrip; tures, and I settled down in Deism. My mind was not indeed suited with this sentiment, but it seemed to me a less laborious task to foil those called christians by adverting to the apparent discrepancy of the scriptures, and the real difference in sentiment between those who termed themselves ambassadors of heaven, than to search for truth, where so many great and learned men had sought to little purpose. From 1801, until 1811, I was a professed Deist. To Elder Edward Mitchell, of New York, I owe the suggestion of the first idea which has led to my present sentiment. By a discourse in which he urged the importance of searching the scriptures, I was persuaded to follow his directions. By the help of a concordance, corresponding passages were frequently examined, and served as mutual interpreters. This system resulted in the gradual progress of information and confort. But the system, as taught by Mr. M. was still ambiguous. The denunciation of eternal death or endless misery, to which he gave great credit--the vicarious sacrifice of Christ,—and correspondent doctrines of the Trinity, were all bars in the way of a clear understanding of the consistency of the scheme which he advocated. My mind was unable to fathom a system which required the sacrifice of