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been in process of development. But I know of no attempt that has been made to meet all the main points as they are presented in the books above alluded to. The reasons on which rests my opinion that these books ought to be systematically answered, are
In the first place, that they embody the main and fundamental principles of the most modern form of Universalism, and contain the ablest and most systematic statement of them, and are most appealed to by Universalists as a satisfactory expression and defence of their views. Their tracts, sermons, and conversational arguments, as far as my observation extends, are built on the principles here inculcated. So that a refutation of these books subverts the foundation of the whole. Though comparatively few of those who believe in no punishment in the future world, have ever read these books, yet these are their oracles, and the fountain head of all their opinions and arguments. These books may, therefore, be regarded as, in a sense, the sources of that influence which goes to spread the pestilence of Universalism in the community. And an exposure of the errors and absurdities which they contain, seems to be the most obvious method of resisting that influence.
In the second place, Universalism, as it now exists, is something very different in respect to the grounds on which it chooses to rest, from what it has been in all former ages. A few years have developed almost entirely a new system. Grounds which most Universalists before have conceded, are now disputed. And those who are well acquainted with the arguments of Winchester, Murray, Chauncey and Huntingdon, are no better prepared, on that account, to confute the Universalists of the present day. Mr. Balfour and his coadjutors have undertaken what their predecessors were too wise to attempt—that is, to disprove the doctrine of future punishment by legitimate and grammatical interpretations of the Bible, without the help of the rationalist expedient of warping the meaning of Scripture in accommodation to the antecedent conceits of human reason. Though by thus shifting their grounds, they have multiplied rather than diminished their difficulties, they have gained the advantage of operating for a while, in a measure undisturbed by opposition. Ministers and professing christians have been slow to acquaint themselves with their new grounds, and hence a great amount of the resistance made to Universalism has been misdirected and lost. And even now very few in this community, ministers or laymen, Universalists excepted, have any adequate knowledge of the subject. Most have heard or read in newspapers enough to get the idea, that Mr. Balfour has put forth some rash and absurd interpretations and criticisms, in which few have any confidence. But I have met with very few who have any accurate and tolerably extensive knowledge of Balfour's theories, and, of course, of Universalism as now. promulgated. Consequently much that is said, preached and printed, fails of reaching the point-being built on principles which are not admitted. It is important
then that the christian community should inform themselves in relation to these subjects. This must either be done, or the efforts made to spread Universalism be suffered to do their worst, without any general effective resistance. And it is not the least of the ends of this publication, to contribute to extend the needed information to that part of the community who are not in a way to get it from Universalist writings.
But there is a feeling in some minds that doctrines and interpretations so absurd, have no need to be answered. But the question of the expediency of answering seems to depend more upon the actual efficiency, than on the inherent plausibility or absurdity of the speculations. And it is a fact that thousands in this community are receiving as sacred truth all these speculations crude as they are. And not the least of the reasons in which they strengthen themselves is, that no serious attempt has been made to refute them.
There are no doctrines, suited to the taste of flesh and blood, which are too absurd to be successfully promulgated, in this degenerate world, when dressed up in plausible sophistries and suffered to work without resistance as these have been. The even greater and more abundant absurdities of the Roman Catholic system are far from falling by their own weight. Controversy is needed, and is useful as a means of resisting those errors. It was useful in resisting Universalism in the forms in which it appeared in past generations. And now the mischief is abroad
in a form so far new as to require the battle to be fought over again. And I see no way more obvious or promising of success than directly to point out and expose its deformities and opposition to God's truth.
Another reason why these books should be answered, is found in the rare opportunity which they afford, to expose in a short compass, an abundance of false and ridiculous reasonings, to which men must needs resort, to sustain such doctrines. The last improvements of Universalism will be found, when properly canvassed, to be more absurd than any of the preceding, in proportion as they pretend to rely more exclusively upon legitimate interpretations of the Bible. The deformities of the system are now more numerous, and more capable of being made to glare on the public eye, than ever before. And we shall be recreant to the cause of truth if we suffer the advantage to pass unimproved.
Still another reason is found in the peculiar state of the public mind as it stands related to Universalism. The Universalism that has been concealed under the name of Unitarianism, is evidently beginning to throw off the disguise—which circumstance is giving strength to the Universalists as a sect. The Unitarians have sowed the seed, and the Universalists are reaping the harvest. This circumstance has imparted new courage and energy to the latter. And no sect is more untiring in its exertions, than they. So that as the occasion for controversy with the Unitarians, seems to be subsiding, the occasion to contend with the Universalists seems to be increasing. And something needs to be done to awaken interest in the minds of the Orthodox, both ministers and people, in relation to this subject. And if these efforts of mine, can contribute something to this end, they will not be altogether useless.
Another reason which has inclined me to this undertaking, is that great use is made by Universalists of the fact that little notice has been taken by the Orthodox, of these their standard writings. Balfour himself vauntingly says, “if it is not unanswerable, we may say it remains unanswered.” “Let my blood be on the head of those who condemn me for my error, yet refuse to furnish me with scriptural evidence that I am wrong." And this, by the way, is a kind of reasoning that is peculiarly taking with that class of mind, over which Universalist books have influence. It is not strange that those who regard those books as oracles, should consider the almost silence of the Orthodox in relation to them, as next to demonstration, that they are unanswerable. And probably this one circumstance has contributed more than any force of argument in the books, to give them an influence. Many who have never been, enlightened by Mr. B.'s Greek and Hebrew criticisms, can comprehend the insinuation, that we did not, because we dared not, undertake the answer. Such are some of the considerations that induced me to enter upon this work. To engage in a controversy on such subjects and with such opponents,