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11: 1. JOB.
A TABLE OF SCRIPTURE TEXTS,
COMMENTED ON IN THIS VOLUME.
14: 10. PSALMS. 6: 5.
115: 17. PROVERBS. 5: 5. ECCLESIASTES. 3: 19.
14. ISAIAH. 33: 14. DANIEL. 12: 2,3: MATTHEW.
THE following pages exhibit the substance of a course of Lectures, prepared and delivered by the writer to his own people. And the reasons which led him to think it expedient to give the lectures the form of a reply to Mr. Balfour, as the best means of counteracting the efforts of Universalists among the people of his charge, are equally good to show that this is the best mode of meeting the wants of the community in general. With regard to the immediate effect of the lectures, all the expectations of the writer, to say the least, have been realized. For offering the substance of them in this form to the public, I shall attempt no apology. For if the contents of the book do not avail to carry my justification to the reader, no prefatory apologies will do it.
I have been for some time satisfied that a reply to Mr. Balfour, which shall embrace all the main principles of his theory, as published in his first and second "Inquiry," in his "Essays," and in his "Reply to Stuart," is called for by the existing state of things. Replies to him in respect to parts of his system have been published, while the system has
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